Yomiuri: GOJ split over what to do about Trainee Visa abuses

Hi Blog. It’s becoming a hot issue at last: What to do about all the NJ labor coming over here and getting abused by unscrupulous employers and officials. The Yomiuri offers a good overview, then Matt Dioguardi offers an even better overview of the GOJ debate and proposals popping up there to fix the situation. Kinda. Debito in Sapporo

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Govt split over foreign trainee program
Takeshi Kosaka, Masaharu Nomura and Soichiro Kuboniwa
Yomiuri Shimbun May 19, 2007

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20070519TDY03003.htm

Government officials are engaged in a heated debate over an on-the-job training system for foreigners, which has been criticized by some as allowing employers to exploit foreign trainees as low-wage laborers.

Study panels established by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry recently proposed a review of the system, while Justice Minister Jinen Nagase on Tuesday said he personally believes a new system for accepting foreign manual laborers should be introduced to replace the current system.

Concerned ministries, eyeing a drastic review of the foreign trainee system, plan to hold discussions on the issue with a view toward revising relevant laws in an ordinary Diet session in 2009.

But the motivations for any review vary markedly among the ministries, and it is unclear how these differing views can be reconciled.

The current system is widely used, with the number of small and midsize companies taking advantage of it rising considerably since 1990 over concerns about labor shortages.

However, there have been numerous reports of unlawful or improper action by host companies, such as a refusal to pay overtime wages and withholding foreign trainees’ passports or bankbooks.

It has also been revealed that in some cases, foreign trainees had to pay large fees to brokering organizations in their home countries before leaving for Japan. As a result, many foreign trainees went missing after entering Japan, to work illegally.

The succession of problems prompted the ministries separately to discuss a possible review of the system.

For the first of the three years of on-the-job training under the scheme, foreign trainees are not legally considered employees, and are thus not covered by the Labor Standards Law, the Minimum Wage Law and other laws protecting workers.

The labor ministry’s panel on May 11 compiled a plan that would abolish the one-year training period, to allow the workers to be treated as employees for the whole period.

One senior ministry official noted, “Even if foreign trainees are forced to work under terrible conditions, labor laws don’t cover them during the trainee period, so we have no way of protecting them.”

But three days later, the METI panel issued a report that said the one-year trainee period should be maintained.

“Companies shoulder the cost of accommodating the foreign trainees and also provide Japanese language classes and work-safety training,” a ministry official said. “If they’re made employees from the start, it could actually create a situation whereby they are abused as low-wage laborers.”

The economy ministry believes the best way to prevent improper treatment of foreign trainees is to toughen penalties on host companies, and introduce some sort of certification for legitimate host firms.

The two ministries’ proposals have some points in common, such as proposing extending the permissible period of stay for trainees in Japan from the current three years to five.

However, there are also noticeable differences between the two ministries’ positions. These differences stem largely from the fact that the labor ministry wants to expand the coverage of labor laws, while the economy ministry wants to give due consideration to the small and midsize companies accepting foreign trainees.

The justice minister’s proposal is to abolish the current system and introduce a totally new one to allow the acceptance of a wider range of foreign workers for short periods. It would also in effect lift the ban on domestic firms accepting foreign manual laborers.

Nagase has instructed the Justice Ministry to examine his plan based on the following premises:

— The purpose of accepting foreign trainees or workers will change from “contributing to the transfer of job skills as part of international cooperation” to “contributing to securing the necessary workforce in Japan.”

— Atrocious working conditions and extremely low wages for foreign workers are unacceptable.

— Foreign trainees or workers are not allowed to reenter Japan with the same visa status, to prevent them from permanently settling in the nation.

Justice Ministry officials were generally positive toward the minister’s plan, with one senior official saying, “By withdrawing the official rationale of international contribution, the debates can be grounded in reality.”

But some in the labor and economy ministries were critical of the justice minister’s plan.

One official said, “It’s too drastic to say the system should be scrapped just because there is a discrepancy between the goal and the reality.” Another was concerned the plan would completely overturn the government’s policy of not accepting foreign manual laborers, while a third said, “The current system has been, to a certain degree, effective as part of the nation’s international contribution.”

But all three ministries agree that a revised or completely new system should include measures to crackdown on overstayers through tighter immigration controls, and improvements in managing foreign workers’ information.

Since February, the Justice Ministry has been considering integrating control and management of immigration-related data held by the central government with data on foreign nationals’ resident registration held by municipal governments, so that overstayers can be identified more easily.

The labor and economy ministries plan to proceed with discussions on possible changes to the system, while cautiously eyeing moves by the Justice Ministry.

(Yomiuri Shinbun May 19, 2007)
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MATT DIOGUARDI ADDS:

Now recently three ministries have stepped forward with a plan to save the day. These would be:

The Ministry of Justice
The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry

There would seem to be the three views, roughly something like this …

Justice Ministry: Let’s stop pretending this is a trainee program and just admit openly that it’s a guest worker program. Then let’s be very clear that we expect labor laws to apply to the guest workers just like anyone else. We’ll crack down on the abuses. However, let’s be very clear that after the guests have stayed for three years, they MUST leave and they certainly can NOT come back. We don’t want these poor low life scum ruining Japanese society and culture.

Labor Ministry: Let’s just reform the system a bit. Let’s throw out the Industrial Training Program and instead focus on the Technical Internship Program. And you know that clause we’ve got about labor law not applying for the first year, well, let’s go ahead and apply it. That should fix things up, well, you know, maybe a little. I mean, this whole system is pretty lucrative for us bureaucrats, so let’s not rock the boat too much.

Economics Ministry: Let’s not let go of the idea that Japan is trying to help other countries by training their people. So what if the program becomes near slave labor at times. Even if it’s not true that were helping other countries, it’s the thought that counts. Do you know how much trouble it’ll be for us MITI bureaucrats to deal with these other countries if we were OPENLY using and throwing away their workers? They would hate us. We can’t lose the important facade that we’re helping to develop poor countries. Why don’t we offer a certification program for those who want to abuse the trainees. It won’t mean dirt, but it’ll give us bureaucrats a bit more power and that’s not bad, right?…

MORE ANALYSIS OF THIS ISSUE AND ARCHIVING OF ARTICLES AT MATT DIOGUARDI’S BLOG (CLICK HERE)
ENDS

Dietmember Hosaka critical of “thought screening” in new J jury system

Hi Blog. Excerpting an excellent article from Chris Salzberg at Global Voices Online on Japan’s upcoming jury system (from May 2009). He translates Lower House Dietmember Hosaka Nobuto‘s questioning of the Justice Minister et al regarding their proposed screening of applicant citizen jurors in the new and upcoming jury for criminal cases.

I don’t want to cut and paste in Chris’s entire blog entry, so see it here. But I will paste below his and his partner’s translation of Hosaka’s blog entry (Japanese original here or up at the abovementioned Chris blog link).

This is very important, since for once Japan’s judiciary is trying to open the sacerdotal system of judicial decisionmaking to more public input and scrutiny. And here they go all over again trying to screen jurors to make sure they are sympathetic towards (i.e. trusting of) the police. The police and prosecutors have enough power at their disposal to convict people (to the point of raising hackles at the UN Committee Against Torture) without proposing to stack the jury too.

Again, it’s best written up at Chris’s blog, so also take a look at that. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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(Written by Chris Salzberg and Tokita Hanako)

…It is only against this backdrop of the chronic problem of forced confessions that Hosaka’s blog entry can really be understood. The blog entry is called “The hidden ‘trap’ of the citizen judge system: thought checking in citizen judge interviews“, and begins:

Yesterday, in the Lower House Committee on Judicial Affairs, I questioned [the government] for 40 minutes over a legal revision of criminal proceedings to institutionalize “Participation in the Judicial Action of Crime Victims”. In exchanges between the Supreme Court and the Justice Ministry, a state of affairs was revealed in which the legal system would be swayed from its foundation by a “wide range of views from a group of citizens chosen by drawing lots”, part of the [new] citizen judge system. When a police officer is called by the prosecution to testify as a witness, it is permissible to ask the citizen judge candidates and the court of justice: “Do you have trust in the investigation of this police officer?” If you answer: “No, I do not trust this police officer”, then the prosecutor can judge that “A fair trial cannot be guaranteed” and can instigate a procedure in which, without indicating any reasons, a maximum of 4 candidates can be disqualified.

The 6 members of the citizen judge system, acting as “representatives of the people”, under this filtering by the prosecution, becomes a group of only “well-intentioned citizens without any doubts about the police”; this in turn has a huge influence in court battles in which the prosecution argues with the defence over the “voluntariness of confessions” [extracted by the police]. The investigation has the authority to perform a “thought check” on these delegates of the citizen court system, chosen by “drawing lots”, related to issues such as their “degree of confidence in the police investigation” and their “view on the death penalty”, and, without stating any reason, can carry out a “challenge” procedure to eliminate up to 4 candidates. I am shocked that this scheme has been hidden. For the “bureaucracy”, this very convenient “well-intentioned citizen without doubts about the bureaucracy”, chosen from the entire population by drawing lots, is nothing more than a disguise under the name of “participation in the legal system”. If the three elements of the judicial community have concocted these “unacceptable questions” which could impinge on the freedom of thought and creed, we cannot ignore this. Below I have presented a tentative record [of the proceedings]. Starting next week, I will try to put the brakes on this reckless degeneration of justice. Please have a look at the exchange that took place in the Committee of Judicial Affairs, reproduced below.

The rest of the blog entry consists of the proceedings of the Diet session, translated here in their entirety:

Hosaka
There was an article in yesterday’s newspaper about the finalization of the essentials of a supreme court outline relating to procedures for the court of justice’s new citizen judge system. In this article, it was explained that the citizen judges would be questioned in an oral consultation or interview. In these consultations or interviews, “investigator testimony” — i.e. in cases in which the police officer (witness) is scheduled to testify — if there is an appeal by the person concerned (prosecution), then the presiding judge can ask: “Are there any circumstances in which you would be able to trust this investigation conducted by the police and others? Or, alternatively, are there any circumstances about which you do not have particular confidence?” In cases in which the answer is “no”, no further questions are asked [of the candidate citizen judge]. In cases in which the answer is “yes”, the citizen judge is asked: “What kind of circumstances are these?” Depending on the answer to this question, if necessary, the candidate citizen judge is then asked: “Do you think you can consider the contents of the police officer’s testimony and render a fair judgement?” The citizen is assessed on the basis of the existence or nonexistence of doubts about the fairness of the trial. What is the meaning of this? We are all acutely aware of the fact that there are cases, such as the Shibushi incident, in which police investigations have gone much too far. One of these citizen judge candidates might for example say: “Police investigations sometimes do things behind closed doors, so in this sense perhaps they go too far.” What is the intention of this questioning?

(Detective Superintendent of the Secretariat of the Supreme Court) Ogawa
I will answer the question. In cases in which there are arrangement procedures preceding the public trial, when it becomes known either that applications are being processed for an investigator witness, or that an investigator is scheduled to appear, in cases in which the party concerned has made a request, in order to assess whether or not there is any possibility that judgement about the “confidence in the verbal testimony of the investigator witness” will be dealt with in an unfair manner, we are right now considering questions indicated by the committee member (Hosaka) so that we can use it as one reference. In a practical sense, the court makes the decision, so how things will turn out, in concrete terms, is really a judgement to be made by the court.

Hosaka
I am asking this question to the Detective Superintendent of the Justice Ministry. In cases such as you just mentioned, in which the investigator appears as a witness, probably a confession has been made. However, what about cases in which, after the [confession], the person switches their position and issues a denial, and raises doubts about the voluntariness of the “recorded confession”? I believe that there are many cases of this kind. The court is asking questions: “Do you have trust in the investigation of the police officer?” If a candidate answers in an interview: “I have no trust at all. I think that it is strange, all these things going on behind closed doors recently,” then the investigator is able to challenge the candidacy of the citizen judge. Could this be a reason for disqualification?

(Someone from the ruling party [LDP] exclaims:
They can do that? Hosaka’s explanation to this ruling party member: “Yes, they can issue challenges. Without giving a reason, they can disqualify up to 4 candidates. How will the prosecution judge people who have doubts in their mind about the police officer?”)

(Detective Superintendent of the Secretariat of the Supreme Court) Ogawa
On the question of under what circumstances an investigator can, without indicating any reason, challenge [the candidacy of a citizen judge], we really haven’t done any concrete investigation on this. I think it is up to the judgement of the investigator in each individual case.

Hosaka
I request that the Minister of Justice share his thoughts on this. The citizen judges are chosen by drawing lots. From a list of registered voters in the Lower House elections. However, in this process, in cases in which [the candidate citizen judge] says: “I have a bit of trouble placing my trust in this police investigation”, the prosecution can declare that “We challenge [the candidacy of] this citizen judge”. The citizen judge may then be excluded. ……if citizen judges become the object of such challenges, I wonder if we can really say that this is a system which draws on an even distribution of representative views of people from the entire country? I am extremely concerned. What do you think about this situation?

Justice Minister Nagase
I remember that there were various views expressed when the citizen court system was being set up. “If this is in there, then won’t everybody be judged innocent?”, “No, everyone will be sentenced , right?”, I remember that there were arguments like this. The concerns that you are expressing now are I believe related to those earlier arguments. However, in the three branches of government, in an appropriate manner, we are working toward a citizen judge system that reflects the good sense of the average citizen, not some kind of legal debate in which people quibble over every insignificant detail.

Hosaka
My intention is not to quibble over every insignificant detail. What we have to debate about, in a broader sense, is the participation, in the court of justice, of the “victim” within the citizen judge system. As we now understand the meaning of the “challenge” [of candidates], I want to have a thorough debate on this issue.
ENDS

保坂衆議院議員:裁判員制度の知られざる「罠」、裁判員面接で思想チェックを問う

ブロク読者の皆様おはようございます。有道 出人です。

年金問題の大騒ぎで気付いていないことかもしれませんが、きのう、衆議院保坂展人氏ブログによると、これから「犯罪被害者の訴訟参加」の「思想チェック」を実施するようです。

「どれぐらい警察官を信じるのか」をチェックしてから陪審員として取り入れるかどうかを決心するようです。衆議院法務委員会で表面化したことを転送します。長勢法務大臣の返答も入っています。これはGlobal Voices OnlineのChris Salzbergさまからいただいたお知らせです。感謝いたします。

早速記載しますが、宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人

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裁判員制度の知られざる「罠」、裁判員面接で思想チェック
保坂展人衆議院議員 著
裁判員制度を問う / 2007年05月26日
http://blog.goo.ne.jp/hosakanobuto/e/27f78e12828b4ce61eb1beb8d0ab42ff)

昨日は、衆議院法務委員会で「犯罪被害者の訴訟参加」を制度化する刑事訴訟法改正案の質疑を40分行った。この最高裁と法務省とのやりとりの中で、裁判員制度の「くじで選ばれる国民の幅広い意見」という根底から揺らぐような事態が明らかになった。検察側が「警察官」を証人として出廷される時に、裁判所に対して裁判員候補に対して「あなたは警察官の捜査を信用していますか」と質問させることが出来る。「いや、信用ならないですね」と答えると「公平な裁判が保障されない」と検察官が判断して最大4人まで理由を示さずに「忌避」の手続きを行うことが出来るというものだ。

「市民の代表」として出てくる6人の裁判員たちは、検察側のフィルタリングにかけられた「警察を疑わない善意の市民」ばかりとなり、「自白の任意性」をめぐって弁護側と激しく争う事件について、大きな影響を与えるのは間違いない。「くじ」で選ばれた裁判員候補を、捜査権力が「警察の捜査への信頼度」「死刑についての考え方」などに対して「思想チェック」をして、理由を述べずに4人まで「忌避」という排除手続きを取るという仕組みが隠れていたことに愕然とする。「官」にとって、都合のいい「官を疑うことなき善良な市民」が国民全体から「くじ」で選ばれたとすれば、これは「市民の司法参加・偽装」そのものである。法曹三者で国民の思想信条の自由を侵すような「許しがたい設問」をつくりあげていたとすれば、看過出来ない。以下に仮記録を示しておく。来週から、国会内で「裁判員制度を問う超党派議員の会」を呼びかけ、司法の変質と暴走にブレーギをかけていきたいと思う。以下、委員会でのやりとりを再現してみよう。

保坂 昨日の新聞に裁判所の裁判員制度の手続きに関する最高裁規則の要綱がまとまったという記事が出ています。そこで、質問を裁判員について口頭諮問というか面接でするわけですが゛、この中に「捜査官証言」、つまり警察官等(※証人)が予定されている事件において、当事者の求めがあった場合(※検察側)、裁判長が口頭で「あなたは警察等の捜査が特に信用出来ると思う事情がありますか。あるいは、逆に特に信用出来ないという事情がありますか」と質問をし、「いいえ」と回答した場合は、何も質問しない。「はい」と回答した場合は、「それはどのような事情ですか」と質問する。その回答によって必要がある時には、「警察官等の証言の内容を検討して公平に判断することが出来ますか」と質問をし、不公平な裁判をするおそれの有無を判断する、とある。どういう意味ですかね。我々は志布志事件などで警察の捜査も行き過ぎがあるということを随分認識しています。たとえば裁判員の候補者がですね、「警察の捜査も時々、密室で行われているから行き過ぎがあるかもしれません」と言うかもしれません。どういう意図でこの設問があるのですか。

小川最高裁事務総局刑事局長 お答えします。公判前整理手続きをやっていく際に、捜査官証人が申請される、また予定される事件があるとわかりました時に、当事者の方から求めがあった場合に「捜査官証人の証言の信用性」について不公平な裁判をするおそれがあるかないかという点を判断をするために、今、委員の御指摘のような質問をさせていただく、ひとつの判断資料となろうかと思います。実際には、裁判体が判断されますから具体的どうなるかというのは裁判体の判断となります。

保坂 法務省刑事局長に聞きたいのですが、今のような捜査官が証人として出てくる場合には、おそらく自白はしている、しかし、その後に否認に転じて、「自白調書」の任意性に疑いがある場合、こういうことが多いんではないかと思います。裁判所が設問していますよね。「警察官の捜査等にどれだけ信用性を置いているかどうか」と。「私は全然信用していないんだ。最近は相当密室でおかしいと思う」と面接で言っていたら、検察官はこの裁判員候補者を忌避出来るんですね。忌避する理由になりますか。

(そんな事が出来るのか? と与党席からの声。「忌避出来るんですよ。理由を示さずに4人まで忌避出来るんです。警察官はどうかなあという人に対して検察側がどう判断するかどうか」と保坂議場の与党議員に説明)

小津法務省刑事局長  この件、検察官がどのような場合に理由を示さないで忌避するかどうかということは、私どもで何も具体的に検討しているわけではないわけで、個々の事件における検察官の判断ということになろうかと思います。

 保坂 法務大臣に感想を求めたいんですよ。裁判員というのはくじで選ばれるんですよね。衆議院選挙の有権者名簿で。しかし、その中で、「警察の捜査はちょっと私は信用出来ないですよ」と言った場合には、検察側から「この人、忌避」と出るかもしれない。……忌避の対象になってくると、本当に国民全体の意見を代表して、まんべんなく汲み上げた制度になるのかどうか、大変不安になってきたんですね。その点、どうですか。

長勢法務大臣 裁判員制度を創設する時、当時は色々な御意見があった事を思い出します。片一方は、「こんなのが入るとみんな無罪になってしまうんじゃないか」「いや、みんな重罪になってしまうんじゃないか」という議論があったことを思い出します。
今の議論もそういうことに関連しているのかなと不安を感じますが、法曹三者において適切にですね、こういうあまり重箱のスミをつつくような法律論じゃなくて、一般の国民の良識が反映されるような裁判員制度にしていきたいと思います。

保坂 重箱のスミをつつくような議論をしているつもりはありません。これは裁判で裁判員制度の中で「被害者」の方が参加されるというトータルなパッケージとしての議論をしなければならない。この「忌避」ということも今、わかってきたわけなので、トータルに議論したい。
(保坂議員のブログでコメントを)
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裁判員制度の知られざる「罠」、裁判員面接での選別の論理
保坂展人衆議院議員 著
裁判員制度を問う / 2007年05月27日
http://blog.goo.ne.jp/hosakanobuto/e/8e2558afdb37d497aae9a00efcfa6c4c

昨日のブログには大変な数の反響を頂いた。土・日にも関わらず、弁護士会内部でも賛否両論の議論が起きているようだ。「裁判員制度」の導入が全国民を対象にしているだけに、誰もが「警察官の捜査を信用出来ますか」と裁判官から尋問を受けて、「NO」と答えた人たちはこの質問を要求した検察官から「理由を示さずに忌避」されて不選任となるという事態に正直言って私は驚いた。ところが、裁判員制度に関わってきた関係者からは、「何、今ごろゴタゴタ言ってるの。アメリカの陪審制でも同様の制度があるし、04年の立法当時にもそう議論にならなかったじゃないか」と、「驚いている人たちが出てきたことに驚く」という反応があるらしい。「アメリカでも陪審制…」と言う人たちに聞いてみたい。アメリカの捜査と日本の捜査は透明度は同一なのだろうか、と。陪審員が全員一致で判断するかどうかで有罪・無罪を決める陪審制と、多数決に従う日本の裁判員制度は同一の制度ではない。さらに、そのアメリカでも冤罪事件が後を絶たないことも忘れてはならない。
ここで、「面接・質問」と「忌避」「不選任」の条文を見ておこう。

「裁判員の参加する刑事裁判に関する法律」

(裁判員等選任手続の方式)
第三十三条  裁判員等選任手続は、公開しない。
2  裁判員等選任手続の指揮は、裁判長が行う。
(省略)

(裁判員候補者に対する質問等)
第三十四条  裁判員等選任手続において、裁判長は、裁判員候補者が、職務従事予定期間において、第十三条に規定する者に該当するかどうか、第十四条の規定により裁判員となることができない者でないかどうか、第十五条第一項各号若しくは第二項各号若しくは第十七条各号に掲げる者に該当しないかどうか若しくは第十六条の規定により裁判員となることについて辞退の申立てがある場合において同条各号に掲げる者に該当するかどうか又は不公平な裁判をするおそれがないかどうかの判断をするため、必要な質問をすることができる。
2  陪席の裁判官、検察官、被告人又は弁護人は、裁判長に対し、前項の判断をするために必要と思料する質問を裁判長が裁判員候補者に対してすることを求めることができる。この場合において、裁判長は、相当と認めるときは、裁判員候補者に対して、当該求めに係る質問をするものとする。
3  裁判員候補者は、前二項の質問に対して正当な理由なく陳述を拒み、又は虚偽の陳述をしてはならない。
4  裁判所は、裁判員候補者が、職務従事予定期間において、第十三条に規定する者に該当しないと認めたとき、第十四条の規定により裁判員となることができない者であると認めたとき又は第十五条第一項各号若しくは第二項各号若しくは第十七条各号に掲げる者に該当すると認めたときは、検察官、被告人若しくは弁護人の請求により又は職権で、当該裁判員候補者について不選任の決定をしなければならない。裁判員候補者が不公平な裁判をするおそれがあると認めたときも、同様とする。
(以下省略)

この法律は04年の国会で全会一致で成立している。しかし、この裁判長の質問の具体的な内容と、検察官の「忌避」と不選任の流れが、明確に語られることはなかった。国会審議の議事録で具体的に掘り下げた議論の形跡はない。たしかに「被告人」「弁護士」にも「忌避」の権利が同等にあるじゃないかという指摘もあるだろう。裁判員法は「公平な裁判をするかどうか」で国民を選別しようとしているが、
私たちは「裁判所が公平な裁判をするかどうか」を問うているのである。「公判前整理手続き」という名で「裁判迅速化」が進み、「厳罰主義」の風潮の中で「被告人」「弁護士」は、検察官と対等に選任手続きに臨めるだろうか。たぶん、昨日のブログで紹介した「質問案」を見て、私は背筋が寒くなって鳥肌が立ってしまった。それは「直観的」「感覚的」なものかもしれないが、公権力が国民をくじで呼び出しておいて、「警察を信じるか」「死刑についてどうか」と思想・信条、内面の関わる質問をしようとしていることに拒否感が強いのだ。弁護士の『ヤメ記者弁護士さんのブログ』も、さっそく反応してくれた。以下、紹介する。

(引用開始)
これは、大変なことだ。警察官の捜査に対して、批判的な気持ちを持っている人は、裁判からはずしてしまう。少しくらい、警察官が行きすぎたことをしていても、まぁ、悪いことをした奴を自白させるには手荒いこともしないとねって許してしまう人ばかりが、裁判員になるかもしれないということだ。

 質問自体は、「警察の捜査は特に信用できると思うような事情、あるいは逆に、特に信用できないと思うような事情がありますか」という一見公平なものであるから、問題ないのではないか、という反論がありそうだが、「特に信用できると思うような事情」がある人なんているだろうか?やはり、具体的には、「特に信用できないと思うような事情」が問題になるケース、例えば、自分の身内が警察の取調で酷い目にあったから信用できない、などというケースがほとんどだろう。
 
 その場合、検察は、裁判員から外してしまうことができるのだ…。あきれはてる。警察を信用する人によってしか裁判ができない、しかも、その裁判は、まさに警察官が証人として採用され、その証人の信用性が問題になろうとしているものばかりというのだ。刑事裁判が市民にさらされ、警察の不適切な捜査が市民によって問題化されることを恐れているのだろう。このような質問を用意すること自体、毛札は信用できないと自白しているようなもんだ。

 陪審制を採用している米国でも裁判官の質問制度はあるが、このようなアホな質問は許されない。

 例えば、マサチューセッツ州では、�事件の当事者・証人・弁護士を知っているか、�その事件について個人的に知っていたか、又はテレビ・ラジオ、新聞等から知っているか、�当該事件及びこの種の事件に意見を発表したり、又まとめたことがあるか、�どちらかに何らかの先入観又は偏見を持っているか、�当該事件に個人的興味・関心を持っているか、�その他当該事件に公正に対処できない何らかの事情があるかどうかの6問である(「陪審制度」第一法規)。

 まさに、その具体的な事件について、不公平な裁判をするかどうかが、問題とされているのであって、それ以外の政治信条について聞くことはない。

 なお、裁判員制度に伴うこの質問制度の問題点は、以上のことだけではない。

 死刑の適用が問題となる事件については、「起訴されてる○○罪について法律は、『死刑または無期懲役または○年以上の懲役に処す』と定めています。今回の事件で有罪とされた場合は、この刑を前提に量刑を判断できますか」という質問を裁判官にさせることができる。そのうえ、「できない」と答えた場合、「証拠によってどのような事実が明らかになったとしても、絶対に死刑を選択しないと決めていますか」と聞くというのだ。
 
 はぁ、それじゃあ、死刑積極論者しか残らないではないか!

 この質問がもし許されるとしたら、反対の質問として、「人を殺したら原則死刑にするべきだと思うか」という質問をして、するべきだと答えたら、排除する制度がある場合のみだろう(このような質問自体が許されないと考えるが…)。

 変な裁判員制度…。(引用終了)

幸いあと2年の時が残されている。今、きちんと議論をし徹底的に制度を検証しておかないと、取り返しがつかなくなってしまうと私は考える。

(昨日に引き続き、引用歓迎です)
(保坂議員のブログでコメントを)
ENDS

Asahi: Skimming off NJ trainees results in murder

Hi Blog. Yet another tale about Japan’s hastily-instituted and poorly-regulated NJ guest-worker program. Procuring cheap foreign labor to keep J industry from relocating overseas or going backrupt, the Trainee and Researcher Visa program scams have resulted in various human and labor rights abuses, child labor, and now according to the article below even murder. Quick comment from me after the article:

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

Slain farm association official took fees from both Chinese trainees, farmers

05/28/2007 The Asahi Shimbun

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200705280329.html

CHIBA–A slain former executive of a farm association had forced Chinese trainees to pay sizable fees that had already been covered by the farmers who accepted the trainees, sources said.

The funds provided by the trainees remain largely unaccounted for, they added.

Most of about 150 Chinese workers on a farm training program offered by the Chiba Agriculture Association had paid between 40,000 yuan and 110,000 yuan (about 600,000 yen and 1.65 million yen) under the pretext of training fees and travel expenses, according to a survey conducted by the association.

“The system whose initial purpose is to transfer technologies to developing countries is being exploited as a juicy business,” Ippei Torii, general secretary of Zentoitsu Workers Union, which supports foreign workers, said of the foreign trainee-intern system.

“The government will have to tell businesses not to accept trainees from organizations that collect expensive fees from the trainees.”

The former executive was fatally stabbed in August last year in an attack that also injured two others.

A 26-year-old Chinese farm trainee, accused of murdering the executive and other charges, had been working about 50 hours a month overtime for token pay, even though the training program banned participants from taking on extra work.

After learning that the trainee told police he came to Japan after borrowing money in China, the farm association started the survey last autumn to determine how much and to whom the trainees paid such fees.

“We left everything to the former executive as far as the training program is concerned,” the association’s chairman said. “It was a lack of supervision.”

All of the Chinese trainees, except for about 10 who did not respond to the survey, said they paid money to a training center, which was established in or around 2002 in Heilongjiang province by the former executive.

The candidates for the training program took Japanese language lessons and other lectures for about four months before coming to Japan.

“I had to pay 69,600 yuan to an instructor and other officials under the name of the association,” one trainee was quoted as saying.

Another handed over documents on real estate, and the family of a third trainee made an additional payment, according to the survey.

Senior officials of the association said they had no knowledge on how the center had been operated or how the fees were collected because the late executive was solely in charge.

Since fiscal 1999, when the training program was initiated, the farm association had collected about 500,000 yen from farmers for each trainee accepted. The fees were for training and travel expenses.

“I thought I had shouldered all the expenses necessary for the trainees to come to Japan,” one farmer said. “I didn’t know they were paying fees.”

Part of the money from the trainees was transferred to an account held by a company whose board members included the late executive. Some of the funds went to another account under the name of a relative of a Chinese woman who had served as an interpreter for the former executive.

The woman, who was injured in the attack last August, told The Asahi Shimbun that trainees paid 40,000 yuan in training fees before leaving China.

In addition, 20,000 yuan in “guarantee money” was collected from their families in the second year after they came to Japan.

“But I did not know Japanese farmers were shouldering the training fees,” she said.

Japan International Training Cooperation Organization, an affiliate of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and four other ministries, is calling on organizers of training programs for foreign workers to ensure transparency in expenses involved. But there is no clear legal basis for such system. (IHT/Asahi: May 28,2007)

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

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO: Even GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine, a horribly-biased screed against NJ workers, residents, and immigrants (so awful that it was removed from shelves within days of going on sale last January) had a manga about this case sympathetic to the plight of these workers. Scans below.

This is especially surprising, in light of the fact that a different manga in the same book portrays Chinese–as a people–as natural-born killers).

You know these GOJ-sponsored programs must be pretty bad when they even turn off the xenophobes! Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/ultraneo/388097122/in/set-72157594531953574/

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/ultraneo/388097712/in/set-72157594531953574/

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/ultraneo/388098273/in/set-72157594531953574/

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/ultraneo/388098750/in/set-72157594531953574/

ENDS

FT: UN Committee against Torture castigates Japan’s judiciary

Hello Blog. The Financial Times (London) reports that more bodies within the UN are joining the fray and pointing out Japan as not only a slacker in the human rights arenas, but also as sorely lacking in terms of checks and balances regarding the criminal procedure and the judiciary.

We’ve been saying things like this for years, glad to see it catching fire.

Pertinent UN Press Releases on this subject dated May 2007 are in the Comments section below the article (to save space), so do click on “Comments” at the very bottom if you are interested. Related article on how this pressure is starting to affect things (such as recording interrogations) blogged here.

The entire 11-page report being referred to in the FT article below is downloadable in MS Word format at
UNComttTortureMay2007.doc

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

UN body attacks Japan’s justice system
By David Turner in Tokyo
Financial Times, May 23 2007

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/3dfc6122-08ca-11dc-b11e-000b5df10621.html
Courtesy of Ludwig Kanzler and Olaf Karthaus

A United Nations committee has castigated Japan’s criminal justice and prison system, listing a wide range of problems including the lack of an independent judiciary, an extremely low rate of acquittal and human rights abuses among detainees. The UN Committee Against Torture takes a broad interpretation of its brief, criticising the state’s physical treatment of citizens and the fairness of the justice system.

The report comes at an embarrassing time for Japan. The government has been trying to restore the country’s status as a nation with the moral and political authority of a world power, in addition to an economic powerhouse. Shinzo Abe has tried to accelerate this process since he became prime minister since last year, but with mixed results.

In an 11-page report completed last week, scarcely any part of the system escapes criticism. For example, it raises suspicions over a “disproportionately high number of convictions over acquittals”. There were only 63 acquittals in the year to March 2006, compared with 77,297 convictions, among criminal cases that had reached court, according to Japan’s Supreme Court.

In a version of the report released in Tokyo on Monday and described as “advanced unedited” [sic], the committee links the high conviction rate to the state’s emphasis on securing confessions before trial.

It cites fears about “the lack of means to verify the proper conduct of detainees while in police custody”, in particular “the absence of strict time limits for the duration of interrogations and the absence of mandatory presence of defence counsel”.

Parts of the law relating to inmates on death row “could amount to torture”, it says, criticising the “psychological strain imposed upon inmates and families” by the fact that “prisoners are notified of their execution only hours before it is due to take place”.

The committee also “is concerned about the insufficient level of independence of the judiciary”.

It attacks Japan’s dismissal of cases filed by “comfort women”, who were forced to work in military-run brothels during the war, on the grounds that the cases have passed the country’s statute of limitations.

The report, written after an 18-day session of the committee in Geneva, asks the Japanese government to consider a slew of measures, including “an immediate moratorium on executions”.

The committee issued its attack after receiving a report from the Japanese government on its efforts to prevent human rights abuses. All UN member states must submit such reports regularly, although the UN Committee scolds Japan for filing its report “over five years late”.

The committee’s findings are in line with complaints by human rights lawyers. But the report has attracted controversy within the UN.

Keiichi Aizawa, director of the Japan-based United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, told the Financial Times: “The treatment of offenders in Japan is fair.”

Japan’s Justice Ministry declined to comment on the report.
ENDS
============================

REFERENCED UN COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE REPORT ON JAPAN MAY 2007 AVAILABLE IN FULL IN MS WORD FORMAT:
UNComttTortureMay2007.doc

Click on “Comments” below to see UN Press Releases.

LAT: First recorded police confession OK as evidence

Hi Blog. I’ve talked numerous times on Debito.org (artery site here) about your rights when under “voluntary detention” and arrest by Japanese police. (Headline: As there is the presumption of guilt, you don’t have many at all, and those being interrogated will be under constant pressure to confess to something in lengthy tag-team police interrogations over the course of weeks.)

This is especially germane as the NPA’s tendency has been to target NJ for instant questioning, search, and even seizure while under suspicion for, say, cycling while foreign-looking.

However, the LA Times came out with an article with some good news–a recorded police interrogation admitted in court. Now let’s hope that with recent pressure from both popular culture (Suo Masayuki’s movie I JUST DIDN’T DO IT) and from overseas (the UN) results in more judicial oversight, and required recordings of all police interactions with suspects (with lawyers present as well). Don’t hold your breath, but still…

I’ll have something tomorrow blogged here on the UN’s Committee Against Torture, and their recent harsh words for Japan’s judicial system. Stay tuned. Debito in Sapporo

=======================
Case may shine light on Japanese interrogations
A suspect’s confession is admitted as court evidence. The move could pave the way for greater oversight of the country’s secretive investigation culture.
By Bruce Wallace, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 26, 2007

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-confessions26may26,1,7852068.story?coll=la-headlines-world
Courtesy of Jon Lenvik

TOKYO — For the first time, a DVD recording of a suspect confessing his crime to police was admitted as evidence in a Japanese court Friday, a move that could lead to stricter checks on the lengthy, secret police interrogations that defense lawyers say result in pressure on suspects to make false confessions.

Prosecutors and police have long resisted demands from human rights activists and lawyers to record their questioning of suspects, who can be held without charge for 23 days in special police cells with limited access to defense lawyers.

But a court case here may open the way for greater oversight of the confession-based investigation culture.

Prosecutors record interrogation sessions only in cases of their choosing, and it was they who introduced the recording played during a murder trial in Tokyo District Court on Friday. The prosecution was seeking to demonstrate the credibility of a confession by a man accused of plotting the killing in a scheme to acquire insurance money.

Prosecutors asked the court to admit the recording as evidence when the accused changed aspects of his story during testimony.

But even though the prosecutors’ move was aimed at bolstering their case, it may also serve as a precedent for those who claim they confessed under coercion to demand that recordings of their interrogations be played in court as well.

Last week, the United Nations’ Committee Against Torture amplified Japanese activists’ call for an end to the nation’s system of pretrial detention of suspects in police stations without access to lawyers.

The committee said Japanese prosecutors were overly dependent on extracting confessions through long periods of incarceration and unlimited time for questioning, an investigative method that has resulted in an almost 100% conviction rate for cases that go to trial.

The committee demanded the 23-day holding period be shortened to match standards in other countries. And it said interrogations should be monitored by independent observers as well as recorded, so courts can later judge whether confessions may have been obtained through coercion.

“The Japanese police should now admit that they cannot investigate people for 23 days in detention,” said Eiichi Kaido, a lawyer who has been active in the campaign by Japanese bar associations to reform the system. “No other countries have such a long detention period. The U.N. report means the Japanese legal system has to be amended.”

The Justice Ministry said only that it was studying the U.N. report, noting that its recommendations cut across several government jurisdictions.

“We will examine it in a prudent manner and, depending on the content, will respond to it appropriately,” said Hiroshi Kikuchi of the ministry’s Criminal Affairs Bureau.

The government has shown little inclination to radically overhaul a system that is defended by police and that attracts little criticism from the Japanese public or media. The U.N. review of the justice system was largely ignored by media here, despite its charge that the Japanese system fails to meet minimal international standards in many areas.

The U.N. report also takes issue with Japan’s treatment of death row prisoners, noting that they await execution in solitary confinement that in some cases has stretched more than 30 years. It says Japan should consider commuting death sentences when the execution has been extensively delayed.

And it criticizes the Japanese practice of notifying prisoners of their execution only hours before it takes place. The U.N. condemned “the unnecessary secrecy and arbitrariness surrounding the time of the execution,” saying the measure imposes a psychological strain on prisoners and their families “that could amount to torture.”

bruce.wallace@latimes.com

Naoko Nishiwaki of The Times’ Tokyo Bureau contributed to this report.
ENDS

Asahi: GOJ grants to local govts to help NJ residents

Hi Blog. Old article I missed from March 2007 reporting that the central government is responding to requests from local governments for financial assistannce for their NJ residents. Excellent. Let’s hope that it’s not just seen as a temporary stopgap measure. These people need help getting along and assimilating. Good news. Debito in Sapporo

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

Grants eyed to help foreigners settle
03/09/2007 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200703090116.html

The central government will provide grants to 70 municipalities for measures to help their growing populations of foreign residents settle in the communities, officials said.

The new system will cover language programs for non-Japanese children before they enroll in school, improved disaster-prevention measures for foreign residents, and expenses to help them live in rental accommodations.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications plans to revise its ordinance later this month to offer the special grants to cover the municipalities’ expenses for fiscal 2006, the officials said. The measure may continue in and after fiscal 2007.

The number of registered non-Japanese residents in the nation nearly doubled to about 2.01 million in 2005 from about 1.07 million in 1990.

The grants will cover about 70 cities, towns and villages whose foreign populations have grown at a rate at least twice the national pace, according to the ministry.

Municipalities in Nagano, Shizuoka, Gifu, Aichi, Shiga and other prefectures are eligible for the grants this fiscal year.

Municipal governments with large populations of foreigners have been calling on the central government to shoulder expenses to deal with educational, medical and other issues related to the non-Japanese residents.

In the town of Oizumi, Gunma Prefecture, the number of registered non-Japanese residents grew from 1,315 in 1990 to 6,748 by the end of January 2007, a fivefold increase to a figure that now accounts for about 16 percent of the town’s population.

“We appreciate the fact that the central government is finally moving to take care of what has been a financial burden on the municipal government,” a town official said.

Of the foreign residents in Oizumi, 80 percent to 90 percent are from South America.

The town office spends about 50 million yen a year for measures to help non-Japanese residents, including employing assistant Japanese language teachers at elementary and junior high schools and producing Portuguese calendars that explain how to sort garbage and show the collection days.

In Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, the population of residents from outside Japan has grown by about four times since 1990.

The Hamamatsu city government said it has allocated about 145 million yen in its fiscal 2006 budget for measures to help its estimated 30,000 non-Japanese residents.

The central government has distributed special grants to local governments to deal with natural disasters, heavy snowfalls and other needs.

The ministry will revise its ordinance on the special grants to include measures to deal with rapidly increasing populations of non-Japanese. (IHT/Asahi: March 9,2007)
ENDS

Yomiuri: Latest Stats on registered NJ numbers (2006)

Hi Blog. Latest figures for the population of registered NJ residents (i.e. anyone on 3-month visas and up) for 2006 (available at http://www.moj.go.jp/PRESS/070516-1.pdf) have just been made public by the Ministry of Justice (it takes about 5 months to tabulate the previous year’s figures).

The headline:

The numbers are still rising, regardless of the crappy visa conditions, the relative ministerial indifference shown the international families being raised in Japan, and the general bad-mouthing of NJ by the likes of Tokyo Gov Ishihara and the NPA.

In fact, although the average is usually around a net gain of 50,000 souls per year, 2006 saw a gain of about 70,000. Accelerating?

In any case, as the Japanese article states (http://www.debito.org/?p=410, this represents the 45th straight year the NJ population has risen, and at the rate reported below (3.6%), under the laws of statistics and compounding interest rates, this means the NJ population will double in about 20 years.

Got a little more to say, but I’ll save that for my next FUN FACTS. Debito in Sapporo

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

FOREIGN RESIDENTS AT RECORD HIGH
The Yomiuri Shinbun May. 22, 2007

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20070522TDY01002.htm

The number of foreign residents in Japan as of the end of 2006 hit a record-high of 2.08 million, increasing 3.6 percent from the previous year, according to the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau.

The figure of 2,084,919 accounted for 1.63 percent of the nation’s total population.

By nationality and place of origin, the two Koreas combined had the largest share at 28.7 percent, or 598,219. But because of the aging population and naturalization, the number of special permanent residents is decreasing after peaking in 1991.

In order of descending share after the two Koreas, China registered 26.9 percent or 560,741; Brazil, 15 percent or 312,979; and thereafter the order was the Philippines, Peru and the United States.

There were 188 different nationalities and places of origin.

By prefecture, Tokyo came top with 364,712. Thereafter, Osaka, Aichi, Kanagawa, Saitama, Hyogo, Chiba, Shizuoka, Gifu and Kyoto prefectures accounted for about 70 percent.

Gifu Prefecture increased by 7.6 percent from a year ago, and Aichi by 7.1 percent. The high rates of increase in the two Chubu region prefectures is thought to be attributable to the area’s favorable economic conditions.

(May. 22, 2007)
ENDS

読売:外国人登録者数208万人、45年連続で増加

ブロクの読者、こんばんは。読売によると、外国人登録者数はたいてい年毎およそ5万人増加したが、今回はおよそ7万人増で加速しているのでは、と思います。有道 出人

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

外国人登録者数208万人、45年連続で増加
2007年5月21日 読売新聞
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/politics/news/20070521it03.htm

 日本に住む外国人登録者数は2006年末現在で208万4919人(前年比3・6%増)、日本の総人口に占める割合は1・63%で、いずれも過去最高を更新した。

 45年連続の増加。法務省入国管理局がまとめた。

 国籍・出身地別では韓国・朝鮮が全体の28・7%(59万8219人)で最も多いが、高齢化や帰化などによって特別永住者は減少しており1991年をピークに減少傾向にある。以下、中国26・9%(56万741人)、ブラジル15・0%(31万2979人)、フィリピン、ペルー、米国の順。国籍・出身地数は188に達している。

 都道府県別では、東京都が36万4712人でトップ。大阪、愛知、神奈川、埼玉、兵庫、千葉、静岡、岐阜、京都を加えた上位10都府県の合計は全国の約7割を占める。うち前年比では岐阜が7・6%増、愛知が7・1%増と経済が好調な中部圏で高い伸び率を示した。
ENDS
===========================
オリジナルデータは
http://www.moj.go.jp/PRESS/070516-1.pdf

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 25, 2007

Hello Blog. I’m trying to limit myself to one posting per day on my blog, so as to not overwhelm RSS subscribers, and not send out fat newsletters too frequently. But even then, I’ve still got about two weeks’ unreleased blog backlog, and a very pregnant newsletter to organize by theme. Here goes:

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

1) FOLLOW-UP TO THE “HAIR POLICE” REPORT… comments from cyberspace
2) ASAHI: KURASHIKI HOTEL REFUSES NJ, GETS SLAPPED BY CITY GOVT
3) JUDGE RULES OVERWORKING NJ EDUCATORS IS LEGAL
4) UTU PETITION AGAINST OUTSOURCING JOBS
5) PETITION RE “COMFORT WOMEN”, US HR RESOLUTION 121
6) CHE: GRASSROOTS MEASURES AGAINST JAPAN’S HISTORICAL AMNESIA
7) FUJI TV: ARCHIVED SHOW ON JAPAN’S EXTREME RIGHT WING

and finally…
8) SECOND DEBITO.ORG DEJIMA AWARD TO “ALL-JAPAN HS ATHLETIC ASSN”
who organized a student footrace barring NJ from the starting lineup (Asahi)

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By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org)
May 25, 2007 Blogged in real time at http://www.debito.org/index.php
Freely forwardable

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1) FOLLOW-UP TO THE “HAIR POLICE” REPORT…

I released my preliminary essay on how Japan’s high schools police their students, investigating a report of a Shizuoka Prefectural school forcing a NJ child to dye her natural hair color to black.
http://www.debito.org/?p=412

I received quite a number of comments from my mailing lists, and on the blog. Ranging from posts that compulsory hair dyeing goes beyond high school, to posts which declare this a non-issue, there is in between advice from a J veteran of the system (on what to do if you want to protest), a JT article on someone who sued their school for dyeing harassment, and links to the deleterious effects of long-term exposure to the chemicals in the hair dye itself.

There’s too much good information to excerpt effectively here, so visit the comments section at
http://www.debito.org/?p=412#comment-26954
Perhaps leave some comments of your own…

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2) ASAHI: KURASHIKI HOTEL REFUSES NJ, GETS KNOCKED BY CITY GOVT

I have this filed under “anti-discrimination templates”, because for once the authorities did something to stop this:

==============================
PERSON REFUSED HOTEL LODGING IN KURASHIKI BUSINESS HOTEL “BECAUSE HE’S A FOREIGNER”
THE ASAHI SHINBUN, May 17, 2007
Translated by Arudou Debito. Thanks to about ten people for notifying me.

KURASHIKI, Okayama Pref: In April, a Chinese man (45) living in Hiroshima was refused lodging in a Kurashiki business hotel. The reason given was that he was a foreigner…

The City Government of Kurashiki apologized for causing discomfort to the refused man. They added that they will redouble their efforts to ensure that every hotel in the area is informed not to refuse non-Japanese…

The Chinese man works in Japan and has no problems communicating in Japanese. He fumed, “This is outrageous. How would Japanese feel if the same thing happened to them? It must stop.”

The management of the hotel refusing foreigners, on the other hand, said, “We can’t deal with all the language issues regarding foreign lodgers, so that’s why we refuse them.” They indicated that they would continue doing so.
==============================

Not mentioned in the article is that the hotel is
———————————————————————
BUSINESS HOTEL APOINTO
(Kurashiki Miwa 1 chome 14-29, phone 086-423-2600)
http://www5.ocn.ne.jp/~apoint/
———————————————————————

I called the Kurashiki City Government (particularly the Kankou Convention Bureau, 086-421-0224, Mr Ono), and a few other places to find out more about the case. Finally calling the hotel, I talked to a Mr Kawakami, who said that they saw the error of their ways (thanks to administrative guidance from the city government), and would no longer be refusing foreign guests.

Good, but this is quite a U-turn, on the very day an Asahi article comes out saying that they would continue. Guess it remains to be seen. I have asked my friends in Kurashiki to keep an eye out.

In the end, thanks are owed the Kurashiki City Government for actually doing something about the problem. This is in my experience actually quite unusual (see other cases of government inaction, in the face of clear and signposted racial discrimination, at the ROGUES’ GALLERY OF EXCLUSIONARY ESTABLISHMENTS)

Kurashiki was, of course, legally bound to, since the Ryokan Gyouhou (Hotel Management Law) Article 5 requires hotels to keep their doors open to anyone, unless there is a health issue involving contagious disease, a clear and present endangerment of public morals, or because all rooms are full.

Which is what makes hotels a relatively refusal-free haven for NJ in Japan (on the books, anyway). One of the issues brought forth in the Otaru Onsens Case was that the Otaru City Govt’s hands were allegedly tied because the bathhouses were private-sector, therefore outside of any legal control vis-a-vis discrimination. As I keep saying, racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan.

But hotels are specifically-governed by a law preventing wanton refusals, including those based upon race or nationality. See more at.
http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#refusedhotel

Still, the law is only as good as those who enforce it. Tokyo Shinjuku-ku, for example, has a business hotel named TSUBAKURO (Tokyo Shinjuku-ku Hyakuninchou 1-15-33, Tel 03-3367-2896).

TSUBAKURO has been refusing foreigners for years (see their signs at http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Shinjuku) and have been called and visited a number of times, to no avail.

I have even told the local Hyakuninchou Police Box about this, shown them the law, and photos of the sign. They told me to take it up with the Shinjuku Police HQ. Great job, boys.

In any case, thanks are due Kurashiki City Government for taking effective measures. The Japanese judiciary, as well as its police, should take lessons:

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3) JUDGE RULES OVERWORKING NJ EDUCATORS IS LEGAL

Friend Kevin Dobbs in Tochigi reports that his lousy university working conditions (widespread for NJ academics in Japan, see http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html) have been justified by yet another one of those cracked judges skulking in our courtrooms…

==============================
JUDGE RULES THAT WORKLOADS FOR NJ FACULTY
WHICH ARE DOUBLE THAT OF J FACULTY
ARE PERFECTLY LEGAL

Report by Kevin Dobbs, Full-time educator at the International University of Health and Welfare, Tochigi Prefecture, May 8, 2007

[Background behind the lawsuit on the Blacklist of Japanese Universities:
http://www.debito.org/IUHWdata.html ]

Our court experience was called “Kari Saiban” or Temporary Court, so our judge made his decision in 33 days. [Here is one of] the three main points that the judge said swayed him in favor of my workplace:

…A 1-year-renewable contract teacher (the one I mention above) at IUHW, and the only other union member still at IUHW, stated at a recent collective bargaining that 12 koma [90-minute classroom periods] was acceptable for him. But that number was in his contract, anyway, and always has been, so he had no choice in the matter. Even though this teacher is a koshi [entry-level instructor] with no publications or presentations to his credit, the judge decided to perceive me and this other teacher as qualitatively the same. The judge said, “If this teacher agrees with 12 koma, then so should Kevin Dobbs”. This, even though I have well over 100 highly-competitive publications and some presentations to my credit, not to mention the fact that I was director of up to ten native-English speaking teachers for 10 years. At a recent collective bargaining, however, IUHW said: “If Kevin Dobbs wants to publish, he should quit and get a job at another university. His accomplishments mean nothing to us.”

Anyway, this judge totally ignored our evidence: indisputable Ministry of Education documents, letters from primary sources, and labor law…
==============================
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=364

Kevin is appealing his case. You can send him words of encouragement at kdobbs329@yahoo.co.jp, because what happens to him has great potential for Pandora to bring out her key.

You can also help out people nationwide in Japan’s toughening labor market:

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4) UTU PETITION AGAINST OUTSOURCING JOBS

==============================
“Stop Outsourcing – Job Security for All” Petition

The University Teachers Union has launched a “Stop Outsourcing – Job Security for All” petition and is seeking the support of individuals, organizations and unions in Japan.

The petition, which will be submitted to the Diet in early July, aims to highlight the threat of outsourcing to educational standards at universities, the threat of outsourcing to the job security of university teachers, and the general threat posed by the strategy of outsourcing to the living standards and job security of all workers — both Japanese and foreign.
==============================

More on the issue at http://www.debito.org/?p=405
Download the petition at http://www.utu-japan.org

Speaking of petitions:

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5) PETITION RE “COMFORT WOMEN” HR RESOLUTION 121

I include this excerpt in this newsletter as a matter of record, received from overseas activists:

==============================
SUPPORT THE “HOUSE RESOLUTION 121” NOW! LONG-OVERDUE JUSTICE FOR “COMFORT
WOMEN”; END JAPAN’S DENIAL AND IMPUNITY OF ITS WAR CRIMES!

The HR Res 121 calls on the government of Japan to formally acknowledge and apologize for its role in the coercion of women into sex slavery (introduced by Mike Honda, and now has more than 120 co-sponsors)…
==============================

Rest of argument grounding the petition at
http://www.debito.org/?p=403

Debito.org’s archive on the issue of wartime sexual slavery at
http://www.debito.org/?s=Comfort+Women

I include this news in this newsletter because how this Congressional resolution turns out is very important. The GOJ would otherwise continue to refuse to settle this issue in my view properly. It will also serve as an update on what’s happening at the grassroots level vis-a-vis this movement. Worth a look.

Other people helping out in the same vein:

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6) CHE: MEASURES AGAINST JAPAN’S HISTORICAL AMNESIA

Since one of PM Abe’s campaigns to “beautify” Japan is basically to whitewash over the ugly elements of Japan’s past, The Chronicle of Higher Education ran a story on how Japan’s civil society and disappearing war veterans are hard at work to preserve the record. We don’t hear enough about them in the media. Allow me to try to remedy that:

===================================
WAR MUSEUM RESISTS JAPAN’S HISTORICAL AMNESIA
By David McNeill in Tokyo
The Chronicle of Higher Education April 27, 2007

Link for subscribers: http://chronicle.com/weekly/v53/i34/34a05401.htm
Longer version at Japan Focus Website at
http://www.japanfocus.org/products/details/2333
Courtesy of the author

… In the newly opened Chukiren Peace Museum, the 80-year old curator, Fumiko Niki, is among a small group of activists and academics who have spent years compiling a depository of records that they say proves the enormity of the imperial army’s war crimes before and during World War II. The effort to remember that history is being lost in a growing revisionist tide, she fears…

The core of the Chukiren museum’s collection is the testimony of 300 Japanese army veterans who, while in custody in China in the 1940s and 50s, confessed to atrocities there, including rape, torture, and infanticide. Photographic evidence is held in the archives. Ultranationalists have threatened to burn down the museum, prompting the elderly staff members to look into the unfamiliar world of high-tech security…

“As a historian of that war, I find the testimony consistent with both the documentary record and my own interviews with Chinese villagers,” says Mark Selden, a senior fellow in the East Asia program at Cornell University, in an e-mail message. “Like their American counterparts who returned home to tell of their own destructive acts in Vietnam, the Chukiren soldiers have braved opprobrium from super patriots to tell the truth about the war and their own part in it.”
===================================
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=395

Speaking of the Ultranationalists:

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7) FUJI TV: ARCHIVED SHOW ON JAPAN’S EXTREME RIGHT WING

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to ride in one of those jet-black soundtrucks, or what kind of people are behind the wheel and black glass?

On YouTube recently were added several videos about the Right Wing (Uyoku) in Japan. It’s an hourlong broadcast on the commercial TV networks (archived in five 10-minute parts).

The show was produced nearly 20 years ago by Fuji TV, with a somewhat sympathetic bent towards the Uyoku (i.e. the interviewers even get rides inside the soundtrucks), depicting the rival Sayoku (Extreme Left–in this case only the Chuukakuha) as monolithic, militant, and unclear in ideology. Nevertheless, I found it fascinating.

It opens with a branch of Uyoku lecturing NJ in Roppongi on how to behave in Japan (even if they’re saying “Obey Our Laws, Gaijin”, not “Yankee Go Home” sorts of things, I still find this attitude quite rich…). As this show was filmed long before official GOJ campaigns to depict and target foreigners as criminals (http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#checkpoint), it’s not clear how the Uyoku would behave in the same situation nowadays.

The archiver also shows his bent by insinuating (in his writeup at YouTube, also blogged at Debito.org) that most people (especially, as he puts it, the “gaijin”) are uninformed; the Uyoku are somehow misunderstood as “militant racists”. But this show hardly sets the record straight for me; it remains clear that even with all the splinter groups, the common thread is still deification of the Emperor, purity as ideology, and having all Japanese share a common mindset of birthright.

Given that I saw the Dai Nippon Aikoku Tou speak last week in Odori Park, Sapporo, for more than an hour by their big blue bus (slogan on the back: “Give us back Karafuto [Sakhalin] and Chishima Rettou [the Kuriles]” (i.e. not just the Northern Territories), it’s not clear how they would treat the racially-separate peoples on those islands (or within Japan itself, given all the children of international marriages with Japanese citizenship). I remain doubtful that they would be accepting, which by definition would lead to militant racism.

In sum: As I also believe Japan is lurching rightward in recent years, this is worth a view to get an idea what the extreme version wants. In Japanese with very good English subtitles, somebody put a lot of work into making this series accessible to the outside world:

http://www.debito.org/?p=394

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and finally…
8) SECOND DEBITO.ORG DEJIMA AWARD TO “ALL-JAPAN HS ATHLETIC ASSN”
who organized a student footrace barring NJ from the starting lineup (Asahi)

After all the idiocies I’ve included in this newsletter, I saved the best for last. In fact, I would like to award the Second Debito.org Dejima Award to the All Japan High School Athletic Federation.

(Suggested by friend Chris Flynn, the Dejima Award is a showcase for those small-minded people in this society who feel the need to keep foreign peoples, ideas, and influences from these pristine shores. In much the same spirit as Feudal Japan kept foreigners secluded on an island off Nagasaki named Dejima centuries ago.)

Here’s the story:

====================================
FOREIGN STUDENTS CAN’T START EKIDEN
05/24/2007 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200705240080.html
Courtesy of Glenn Boothe

Bowing to pressure from disgruntled fans, a high school athletic association will prohibit foreign students from running the first leg of the All Japan High School Ekiden Championships relay marathon starting next year.

The All Japan High School Athletic Federation said the decision, reached Tuesday, is intended to make the races more interesting for fans…

“We looked into the issue in a constructive manner after angry fans complained it is a turnoff to see foreign students scoring an insurmountable lead in the first section,” said Kazunobu Umemura, executive managing director of the federation….

“From the standpoints of ‘internationalization’ and school education, it would be ideal not to have any restrictions,” he said. “In reality, however, the differences in physical capabilities between Japanese and foreign students are far beyond imagination.”…
====================================
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=417

The obvious prescience displayed by the people who organize these footraces for students, when deciding to “keep the race more interesting for disgruntled fans” by shutting foreigners out of the starting lineup, is sure to make foreign students feel more welcome, and help keep Japan’s education system (struggling with our low birthrate, desperately courting foreign students) solvent and equal-opportunity. Not.

More on Japan’s nasty habit of shutting foreigners out of its sports and other competitions (again, sometimes using the same argument that foreigners have an unfair advantage due to physical or mental prowess) archived at
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#SPORTS

Avoid katou kyousou as best you can if it’s tainted with foreignness, I guess…

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

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FOR MAY 25, 2007 ENDS

Dejima Award 2: NJ students barred from starting Ekiden footrace (Asahi)

Hi Blog. In what is sure to be a continuing series, I would like to award the Second Debito.org Dejima Award to the All Japan High School Athletic Federation.

Suggested by Chris Flynn, the Dejima Award is a showcase for those small-minded people in this society who feel the need to keep foreign peoples, ideas, and influences from these pristine shores. In much the same spirit as Feudal Japan kept foreigners secluded on an island off Nagasaki named Dejima centuries ago.

The obvious prescience displayed by the people who organize these footraces for students, when deciding to “keep the race more interesting for disgruntled fans” by shutting foreigners out of the starting lineup, is sure to make foreign students feel more welcome, and help keep Japan’s education system (struggling with our low birthrate, desperately courting foreign students) solvent and equal-opportunity. Not.

More from the Asahi Shinbun on this issue immediately following, with Japanese articles in the Comments section.

More on Japan’s nasty habit of shutting foreigners out of its sports and other competitions (again, sometimes using the same argument that foreigners have an unfair advantage due to physical or mental prowess) archived at
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#SPORTS

Avoid katou kyousou as best you can if it’s tainted with foreignness, I guess… Arudou Debito in Sapporo

====================================
Foreign students can’t start ekiden
05/24/2007 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200705240080.html
Courtesy of Glenn Boothe

Bowing to pressure from disgruntled fans, a high school athletic association will prohibit foreign students from running the first leg of the All Japan High School Ekiden Championships relay marathon starting next year.

The All Japan High School Athletic Federation said the decision, reached Tuesday, is intended to make the races more interesting for fans.

But others say the move reeks of discrimination against foreign students.

In recent years, many students from Kenya have started the first–and longest–section of the ekiden races.

They have often built such wide leads that rival teams have had almost no chance to catch up in the later legs.

Ekiden fans and organizers said the strategies of those teams have made the races dull because the huge early leads all but eliminate the chances for the drama of a close finish.

Teams with foreign students running the first leg have won the All Japan High School Ekiden Championships five times in the past 10 years. Three of those victories were achieved after the first runner broke well ahead of the pack.

Of the five foreign students selected for the 2006 All Japan High School Ekiden Championships, four ran the first section for their teams.

“We looked into the issue in a constructive manner after angry fans complained it is a turnoff to see foreign students scoring an insurmountable lead in the first section,” said Kazunobu Umemura, executive managing director of the federation.

The rule will also apply to prefecture-level qualifying events.

The boys’ 42-kilometer ekiden consists of seven sections, with a 10-km first leg. The girls’ race, totaling 21 km, consists of five sections, starting with a 6-km leg.

Keisuke Sawaki, a director of the Japan Association of Athletics Federations, said the high school federation likely had an “agonizing” time coming up with its decision.

“From the standpoints of ‘internationalization’ and school education, it would be ideal not to have any restrictions,” he said. “In reality, however, the differences in physical capabilities between Japanese and foreign students are far beyond imagination.”

Under rules established in 1994 by the All Japan High School Athletic Federation, the number of foreign students attending any competition under its supervision must be about 20 percent or less of all participating students.

In accordance with the rules, the number of foreign students who can enter the ekiden race has been limited to one from each school since 1995.

Koji Watanabe, coach of the track team at Nishiwaki Technical High School in Nishiwaki, Hyogo Prefecture, said new rules are needed to give public high schools with no foreign students a chance to win.

His team won the ekiden race in the boys’ division a record eight times.

But Takao Watanabe, coach of the track team at Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School in Sendai, disagreed.

“It remains questionable to distinguish runners by nationality,” said Watanabe, whose team won the ekiden race for three straight years with Kenyan students through 2005. “The decision is not good from an educational point of view because it can be viewed as excluding foreign students.”(IHT/Asahi: May 24,2007)

Kevin Dobbs: Judge rules that overloading foreign faculty is legal

Hi Blog. Turning the keyboard over to Kevin Dobbs, with a report on his temporary court defeat earlier this month over a workload around twice that given regular full-time faculty… Debito in Sapporo

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

Judge rules that unequal work loads on foreign faculty is legal
By Kevin Dobbs, Full-time educator at IUHW
May 8, 2007 (REVISED EDITION)

More background on the case on the Blacklist of Japanese Universities at
http://www.debito.org/IUHWdata.html

Hi Debito,

Our court experience was called “Kari Saiban” or Temporary Court, so our judge made his decision in 33 days. Following are the three main points that the judge said swayed him in favor of my workplace, the International University of Health and Welfare in Tochigi:

1) There was a “work agreement” (not a contract) that all charter teachers had to sign in 1995, the year IUHW opened. This agreement theoretically assured that teachers would stay at IUHW for 4 years, Monkasho’s trial period. All teachers signed this agreement including myself.

Teachers would not, however, have to sign any other “work agreement” thereafter. I, of course, did not. Even though that “agreement” expired in 1999, the judge deemed it admissible even though it expired 8 years ago and even though we stated in a plea that I do not remember signing the “agreement.” The one they submitted conveniently says in Article 4, “B shall teach as many hours as A requires, and shall teach English effectively to A’s students. . .”

On that day in 1995 that I was supposed to have signed this agreement, I was moving my family from Kanagawa to Tochigi. Even though we have asked for the original copy of this “agreement,” IUHW has not produced it. I strongly suspect it has been doctored. But of course this expired piece of paper shouldn’t even be valid, anyway. Curiously, I never received a copy of this “agreement” after I was supposed to have signed it.

2) Stated in our Labor Board settlement of 2006, IUHW awards Zheng Tan Yi (my wife) a decent payoff for getting unfairly fired and another “contract” colleague slightly better working conditions. As for me, the settlement states that “IUHW should carefully consider the number of my koma and make an effort to balance that number with other teachers’ koma at the university.” The average number of koma at IUHW is 6, but the judge believed the university when they said that other teachers’ committee work and other duties equaled 6 additional koma per week, which is just insane. Anyway, this provision in the settlement is really what bunged things up. . .and it was our labor union people and our lawyer who allowed that provision as a part of our overall settlement (I think they were in a hurry to finish things up)—could it be the provision that destroys me? As IUHW officials told us at a recent collective bargaining: “Because of this provision, we can give Kevin Dobbs 15 or 20 koma if we want.” Think they want me to quit?

3) A 1-year-renewable contract teacher (the one I mention above) at IUHW, and the only other union member still at IUHW, stated at a recent collective bargaining that 12 koma was acceptable for him. But that number was in his contract, anyway, and always has been, so he had no choice in the matter. Even though this teacher is a koshi with no publications or presentations to his credit, the judge decided to perceive me and this other teacher as qualitatively the same. The judge said, “If this teacher agrees with 12 koma, then so should Kevin Dobbs”—this, even though I have well over 100 highly competitive publications and some presentations to my credit, not to mention the fact that I was director of up to ten native-English speaking teachers for 10 years. At a recent collective bargaining, however, IUHW said: “If Kevin Dobbs wants to publish, he should quit and get a job at another university. His accomplishments mean nothing to us.”
—————————–

Anyway, this judge totally ignored our evidence: indisputable Monkasho documents, letters from primary sources, and labor law. It was an abomination of Japanese law and basic decency.

We’re a little hesitant to appeal since we’ve been told that we might get the same judge as before—mind you, in the first town, Otawara, in Japan to allow that awful text book that recently fabricated what happened in WW II. We just don’t know what to do at this point. We’re reeling. Even though we’ve been fighting hard for 3 years, and have become hardened and tough, we’re at a loss here.

Oh, you’ll find this interesting: our union people fear that, if other universities hear about this judge’s decision, they’ll think it’s okay to give teachers more koma. As always, thank you so much for your support.

Your Tochigi Friend, Kevin Dobbs (kdobbs329@yahoo.co.jp)
ENDS

=========================
ADDENDUM (MAY 27)

–SENT TO ME BY KEVIN DOBBS, SINCE SOME PEDANTS HAVE ARGUED BACK THAT THEY DON’T SEE KEVIN AS SOMEHOW “QUALIFIED ENOUGH” TO DESERVE THE SAME TREATMENT AS HIS FELLOW FULL-TIME JAPANESE FACULTY OTHERWISE HIRED UNDER THE SAME CONDITIONS. HOPE THE SHOE’S ON THE OTHER FOOT FOR THE PEDANTS SOMEDAY SO THEY CAN SEE HOW IT FEELS. ANYWAY, HERE ARE KEVIN’S QUALIFICATIONS, FOR WHAT THEIR WORTH. DEBITO

Professional Bio
Kevin Dobbs

Since 1995, I have worked as an Associate Professor of English at International University of Health and Welfare in Japan. Up to 2006, I was Director of Communicative Strategies and was in charge of up to ten native-English speaking instructors. Now we have only two regular native-English speaking instructors; the other three are from local language schools. The two native-English full-timers who remain have been officially isolated—in other words, our names do not appear on any university literature whether it be hard copy or on the school’s website.

At IUHW, when management considered me a “professional,” I served in many supervisory, public relations, and administrative capacities: these duties included graduate student selection; foreign graduate student advisor; departmental budget management; scheduling; curriculum design; test design; faculty advisor for several student extracurricular clubs (for example, the English Speaking Society); committee for festival coordination; design and implementation of CALL workshops; design and implementation of a university-wide, public speaking program; design and implementation of community outreach, English language workshops; coordinator for sharing outreach with nearby NGO’s and NPO’s; English-speaking host for many of our guest scholars from such countries as Kenya, Cambodia, China, Sweden; international committee; university curriculum committee; hiring committee; committee for foreign student admittance; and many others.

My research and publishing has been interdisciplinary in nature, an accepted way of publishing in Japan since anyone can remember. I’ve published academically in the specialties of EFL public speaking, EAP/ESP writing across the curriculum, and in cross-cultural communication and aesthetic sharing within the classroom. In the 1990’s, I published several book reviews in the Asahi Shimbun, and I’m proud of the fact that later on I was primary essay writer for Shigeru Matsumoto’s text book, Rakku Raku Eibun Kaishaku (Understandable English Essays). Also, I have published primary source literature—short stories, essays, and poems—in dozens of highly competitive, North American literary journals including The New York Quarterly, Carolina Quarterly, Raritan: a Quarterly Review, Mid-American Review, Chelsea, Beloit Fiction Journal, Florida Review, Gulf Stream, Karamu, Poet Lore, Sou’wester, Madison Review, and many others. Within these venues, I’ve published on numerous occasions with Nobel and Pulitzer Laureates, National Book Award winners, and many other literary luminaries. Once, I was featured with one of my favorite novelists, Ken Kesey, in Whiskey Island Magazine, Cleveland State University Press. By the way, if you’d like to take an easy look at some of my poems, go to Maverick Magazine, a leading online journal in which I’ve been published in four issues: maverickmagazine.com. If you’d like to check (verify) my publications, Google me by writing into the search box, “Kevin Dobbs, poetry,” or just “Kevin Dobbs” should get quite a few listings.

Although I’m an accomplished writer, I’m obviously not, by any means, famous, but most of IUHW’s Japanese full-timers, who teach English, have had few or no publications at all. There was never a time since 1995 that I didn’t have more publications than all other Japanese English teachers put together.

As for my graduate degree, I have a terminal Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Creative Writing, Arizona State University, which consisted of 48 semester hours: 24 in literature and 24 in various forms of writing. This kind of degree usually takes three and a half to four years to complete. My four and a half years in graduate school left me with 58 graduate semester hours. My undergraduate degree was in English literature.

I’ve taught ESL/EFL since 1986: composition, public speaking, conversation, listening, basic reading, American culture, basic literature, ESP (medical English), traditional grammar and usage, creative writing, film criticism, critical reading and writing and research, and research methods.

Ends

REPORT: Immigrant children and Japan’s Hair Police

Hello Blog. Just got back last night from speaking at a corporate human-rights retreat for the Mitsubishi keiretsu (more on that in a separate posting). Also from a fact-finding mission in the backwoods of Shizuoka, where internationalization is continuing so apace, the education system cannot keep up. That’s the subject of this report:

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
REPORT: CHILDREN OF IMMIGRANTS AND JAPAN’S HAIR POLICE.
ONE SCHOOL’S ATTEMPT TO DEAL WITH “DIFFERENCES”
CAUSES TRAUMA IN THOSE BORN DIFFERENT

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

By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org)
May 22, 2007

(NB: This has become the subject of a Japan Times article: “SCHOOLS SINGLE OUT FOREIGN ROOTS: International kids suffer under archaic rules” (July 17, 2007), available at http://www.debito.org/japantimes071707.html)

INTRODUCTION: During one of my recent speech tours, I was told by a Nikkei Brazilian student (I will call her Maria) that her sister (call her Nicola) had been victimized by a Japanese high school’s rules. According to Maria, Nicola had been forced by her school to dye her hair weekly because it was not as dark as her peers’. Maria said she herself escaped the Hair Police (she looks more phenotypically “Japanese” than her sister), but Nicola was subjected to periodical and frequent hair root checks. Nicola was then told to darken and even straighten it. Although graduated from the high school, Nicola still has not only mental trauma from the ordeal, but also damaged hair which to this day has not recovered. This was narrated to me as an example of how Japan’s cookie-cutter educational rules are doing a disservice to Japan’s imminent internationalization.

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

BACKGROUND: After Japan opened the floodgates to cheap foreign labor under its “Trainee” and “Researcher” Visa programs in 1990 (more on these programs blogged at http://www.debito.org/?s=trainee+visa), the number of South Americans, Filipina, and Chinese etc. have rocketed; Brazilian residents of Japan now stand at more than 300,000, the third-largest foreign minority in Japan. Many are working for less than half regular wages and with no social benefits (such as pension or unemployment insurance, and in some cases, health insurance) under the conditions of their visa. They have kept Japan’s domestic industries domestic and competitive (Toyota, for example, has become the world’s number two automaker due to foreign labor (http://www.debito.org/shuukandiamondo060504.html)

They have also suffered the indignity of their children not having guaranteed access to education. According to the Asahi Shinbun of Feb 12, 2007 (http://www.debito.org/?p=241), between “20 and 40%” of all Brazilian children in Japan are not attending school. Japanese schools are even turning away foreign children because, they claim (legally correctly) that “only citizens are guaranteed an education in Japan”. Meanwhile, according to the Yomiuri Shinbun evening edition of May 21, 2007 (http://www.debito.org/?p=408), 20,000 NJ students in Japanese schools are not sufficiently capable in the Japanese language to follow classes. There are no clear remedial measures being taken by the national government; some local governments and NGOs are trying to fill in the gap, see http://www.debito.org/hamamatsusengen.html), and there are some fledgling ethnic schools, but they are underfunded, expensive to many at these wages, and ministerially unaccredited (which means graduates cannot enter many Japanese universities).

Thus the biggest losers in this dreadful state of affairs are the immigrant children, some of whom are growing up uneducated, illiterate in any language, and sentenced to become an economic underclass (and members of youth gangs; I anticipate more NPA fingers being pointed at NJ youth for causing crime, of course). Thus as Newsweek Japan headlines in its Sept 13, 2006 issue (http://www.debito.org/newsweekjapan091306.html English version http://www.debito.org/?p=16): “Japan is still shutting its eyes regarding its dependence on immigration”.

Even those who beat the odds and stay in school have to suffer the indignities of what is tantamount to officially-sanctioned ijime: Being pointed out for their differences assigned from birth, and told to somehow “correct” them, for the sake of rules that refuse either to acknowledge or to update themselves to a changing state of affairs.

We now turn this report to finding out what was on the mind of Maria and Nicola’s high school, and why they received different treatment just because one looked more like one of her parents…

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

VISITING IKESHINDEN HIGH SCHOOL, OHMAEZAKI CITY, SHIZUOKA PREFECTURE
May 22, 2007, 1PM
Address: Shizuoka ken Ohmaezaki shi Ikeshinden 2907-1, http://www.ikeshinden-h.ed.jp/pasoind.htm

Getting to Ikeshinden was neither quick nor cheap. A 40-minute bus ride from the nearest JR station (Kikugawa), it took me six hours round trip (and more than 10,000 yen) from my speech venue and back. The area boasts many tea and farm factories, not to mention chemical, biochemical, filtration and even fishing rod factories attracting cheap labor. Still, Ikeshinden could be any generic town in Japan, not clearly full of NJ residents, save for the occasional Brazilian restaurant, liquor store, or person with South American features on public transport.

I made an appointment at Ikeshinden the day before with a Mr Okada, a middle-aged man with the energy and drive of high school teachers worldwide. I was directed to him because he is in charge of what I will affectionately call the Hair Police–a group of teachers (who rotate this duty every few years) who go around checking the neatness and appearance of Ikeshinden’s students. Okada had been working here for six years and through two HS principals (every single one of them honored in black-and-white photos mounted respectfully on the wall on cushioned tasseled pillows; they glowered down on us in the conference room we talked in), and was very helpful in explaining what is behind these kinds of systems.

Okada: “We have the kids follow the rules as listed in the Seito Techou (Students’ Guidebook) 2007.” He cited the rules regarding hair and allowed me to transcribe them:

====================================
BOYS
–will not perm, straighten, dye, bleach etc their hair.
…are not allowed to have extreme (kyokutan) hairstyles, or shave their temples etc.
…will not let their hair fall over their eyes (and will not let their hair grow down to their collars).
They will have a refreshing style as befits a high school student. (koukousei rashiku sawayaka ni suru)

GIRLS
–will not perm, straighten, dye, bleach, or add extensions etc to their hair.
…will not let their hair fall over their eyes
Girls with long hair will pin it back in a way that does not interfere with classroom instruction.
====================================

I noted that some directives were a bit vague. (Then again, I thought, if rules got instead too specific, it would feel militaristic…) Who was the final arbiter in case there was some, pardon the pun, grey area? Okada said that for the time being, he was entrusted with that duty.

I asked about the mindset behind enforcing these kinds of rules.

Okada: “It’s important to get the students to understand the importance of following rules in society (kihan ishiki).” He also noted that it was important that students look proper for job and college interviews, as the school’s reputation was on the line. “It’s also important for students to stop thinking selfishly, and have an awareness of society (shakai ishiki).”

That’s when I raised the question about who these rules are for. If the student wants to control his or her own image, that is their business, no? The rules seemed more for the school’s benefit than the students.

Okada: “Probably. But about a decade ago, our rules were much looser and our school was one of the worst in the area. So our principal tightened them up, and now our reputation has gotten much better. It’s still tight to this day.”

I asked how many NJ students they had. “Nineteen, mostly Brazilian. Some Phiippine, Chinese, and Peruvian too.”

So then I raised the issue of Nicola (whose name and nationality I did not mention), and how she still felt traumatized by the enforcement of these rules. “Her sister said that she was forced to change her natural hair color and style regardless. Isn’t this unaccommodating?”

He said that in his six years of teaching there he had never heard of someone having to dye their natural hair color to black. Or straighten. In fact, he noted, straightening hair was specifically against the rule book. “We might have some people whose hair lightens due to exposure to the sun during sports, but even then we don’t tell them to dye it back. The fundamental rule is: ‘Don’t mess with your hair.'”

I then asked how they determined whether someone’s hair was in fact “natural” or not, and how they conducted the follicular search.

Okada: “It starts from the first week of school. We check everyone in assembly and see if they have any attributes which run foul of the rule book. If so, they are called in later as a group and searched more closely.”

You mean you look for black roots?

“We can usually tell if they’ve done something to their hair. People who curl or otherwise fiddle with their hair end up lightening it. Hair which differs from root to shoot is suspect.”

But look at my hair. I have dark brown roots but light tips. Would I be suspect?

“You would be called in for a closer look. It’s pretty clear–you can see a straight line between old dye and fresh growth in a hair.” He then explained in quite exact detail how the inspection goes. My barber would applaud. “But if it’s declared natural, we leave it as is, of course.”

So what happens if somebody is rumbled with fake coloration?

“We tell them to get their hair dyed back to black in a week. If they don’t comply, we take further measures. We will check every week for a few weeks, and their homeroom teachers keep an eye on them in future.”

And what if they still refuse to comply? How far would you go? Suspension?

“Truth be told, it hasn’t come up. The students have always eventually complied.”

So I returned to Nicola’s case. She said that she wasn’t judged as natural and you know the rest. Could there be a flaw in the system?

“I’ve never seen anyone with natural hair color being forced to dye it. I can’t say more without knowing the specific individual case.”

That was where Nicola’s issue ended. Since it is my wont, I concluded with advice:

“Okada-sensei, I understand the need for uniforms and order in schools. However, uniforms does not necessarily mean uniformity, and uniforms and hair are different. You can change your clothes when you go home, it’s pretty easy. It’s not as much part of your identity. But having to change your hair, that goes much deeper. Require everyone, male or female, to shave their head and see if it doesn’t matter–to students, parents, and teachers alike. I bet nobody would agree to that.

“So let’s think about what these hair checks mean. I remember in my third-grade class in the US, we had a lice outbreak. So every morning our teachers gave all of us a lice check. I still remember how intrusive the procedure was, especially when my teacher actually plucked out one of my hairs, put it in an envelope, and had me wait outside the nurse’s office for an hour or so for her to get back and check it. False alarm–no vermin egg was found. But I still remember how traumatizing it was when I hadn’t actually done anything or had anything done to my hair.

“Same thing with your international students. Your rules still assume the ‘natural’, ‘normal’, default hair color is black. That’s not true in this world, and as Japan’s immigration increases, this is going to become even more apparent. As it stands, and as I believe happened in Nicola’s case, your system is open for abuse. And it led to someone getting hurt. As Japan’s schools are fast becoming the cutting edge of Japan’s internationalization, please be careful.”

He agreed, and that was where our conversation basically ended.

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

CONCLUSIONS
are inconclusive at this time. Until have direct photo evidence from Nicola (as in before entering Ikeshinden and during her education there) verifying a change in hair color, it’s a case of he-said, she said. I am grateful to the high school for opening their doors a bit and taking the time to explain their system, moreover lend an ear to my opinions. This is an issue that affects me personally since, as many readers know, my younger daughter is practically blonde. As she starts junior high soon, it’s very important to me that she not be similarly traumatized by banal officials following the rules without considering her feelings.

Chances are, probably few of these teachers were ever on the receiving end of this follicle search. It’s always very hard for the agent to understand the victim when he or she has never been a similar victim himself. By dropping by the school and making my case for a little less stricture, let’s hope it helps raise awareness of the needs of Japan’s future students.

Thanks to Maria and Nicola for their assistance.

This has become the subject of a Japan Times article: “SCHOOLS SINGLE OUT FOREIGN ROOTS: International kids suffer under archaic rules” (July 17, 2007), available at http://www.debito.org/japantimes071707.html

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
May 22, 2007
REPORT ON JAPAN’S HAIR POLICE ENDS

Yomiuri: 20,000 NJ students in J schools can’t understand Japanese

Hi Blog. Got another report coming out in tomorrow regarding other ways Japan’s education system is letting immigrant children down. Meanwhile, here’s an article in the Yomiuri about the lack of apparatus to deal with the language barrier. For what it’s worth, in my grade school we had remedial classes for native Spanish speakers. And this was back in the early 1970’s. C’mon, Japan, you bring people over here, you take care of them. You didn’t foresee them having children, for crying out loud? Debito in Sapporo

===============================
20,000 in language pickle / Foreign students in need of specialized Japanese teachers
The Yomiuri Shimbun May. 22, 2007

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20070522TDY01002.htm
Original Japanese blogged here

The number of foreign students in need of Japanese-language instruction in 885 municipalities exceeded 20,000 as of 2005, and the figure continues to increase, a government survey has found.

The Education, Science and Technology Ministry has produced guidebooks for language teaching, but most public primary, middle and high school teachers have little experience in teaching Japanese as a second language. Experts have pointed out the need for teachers who specialize in teaching Japanese to foreign children.

In Oizumimachi, Gunma Prefecture, about 6,800 of the town’s 42,000 residents are foreigners, and about 10 percent of all students in the seven public primary and middle schools hail from overseas.

Apart from regular classes, the schools also offer Japanese classes to increase foreign students’ language abilities. But the classes are taught by regular teachers who are not trained in language teaching.

An Oizumimachi Municipal Board of Education official said, “Although we’ve hired people who speak Portuguese or Spanish to help out [in the classroom], it would be hard to say our support for teachers is sufficient.”

At Okubo Primary School in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, more than half the 180 students come from South Korea, China, the Philippines and other countries.

“Even if these students can speak Japanese in everyday situations, acquiring the fluency that enables them to study in Japanese takes more time,” Principal Fumiko Nagaoka said.

According to the ministry, the number of foreign students who needed extra Japanese-language training in 1991 was 5,463, and exceeded 10,000 in 1993. As of 2005, the figure stood at 20,692, accounting for about 30 percent of all foreign students.

The largest group among the students are native Portuguese speakers, accounting for 37 percent, followed by those speaking Chinese (22 percent), and Spanish (15 percent).

This is a consequence of the 1990 revision of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law that allowed foreigners of Japanese descent to work in Japan, which was previously banned. The revision pushed up the number of people entering the country, mainly from South America.

However, the children of such people often stop attending school due to language difficulties, or find it hard to secure jobs after graduating from school.

The ministry has produced manuals for teachers to help them provide language lessons in conjunction with other subjects. A version of the manual was introduced for primary schools in 2003, and for middle schools in March this year.

The manual for middle school teachers says that setting riddles and playing other word games during Japanese classes can help foreign students increase their vocabulary, and that creating a dictionary of unknown words for students also can be helpful.

Only 70 of the 885 municipalities have specialized Japanese teachers. The ministry plans to expand the teacher-training system to cover Japanese-language instruction.

Prof. Ikuo Kawakami of Waseda University said: “In the United States and Australia, there’s a system to foster teachers to teach English to children who can’t speak the language. Japan should introduce a similar system and dispatch expert teachers to schools.”

yomiuripiechart052107.jpg

ENDS

読売:授業の日本語わかりません 外国人の子供2万人

授業の日本語ワカリマセン 外国人の子供2万人
読売新聞 2007年5月21日 夕刊
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/kyoiku/news/20070521ur01.htm

 全国の公立の小・中・高校で、日本語が十分に使えない外国人の児童・生徒が増えている。文部科学省によると、その数は全国の885自治体で約2万人。
指導教諭 大幅に不足
yomiuripiechart052107.jpg

 同省は指導方法の手引を作成するなど対策に取り組んでいるが、学校現場では日本語指導に不慣れな先生も多く、専門家は「外国人の子供に日本語を教える専門の先生を養成する必要がある」と指摘している。
 人口約4万2000人のうち約6800人が外国人の群馬県大泉町。町立小中学校7校の児童・生徒の1割が外国人で、通常の授業とは別に日本語の力を付けるための「日本語学級」というクラスが全校にある。
 しかし、教えるのは、日本語指導が専門ではない一般の先生だ。町教委の担当者は「ポルトガル語やスペイン語を話せる人を町の予算で雇ってサポートしてもらっているが、指導が行き届いているとは言えない」と打ち明ける。
 東京・歌舞伎町に近い新宿区立大久保小学校では、韓国、中国、フィリピンなど外国人の児童が、全校児童(約180人)の半数を超える。長岡富美子校長は「日本語で日常会話が出来るようになっても、学習活動ができるまでの日本語能力を付けるのには時間がかかる」と話す。
 文科省によると、日本語指導が必要な外国人の児童・生徒数は、1991年は5463人だったが、93年には1万人を超えた。2005年は2万692人で、全外国人児童・生徒の約3割を占める。母国語別の内訳は、ポルトガル語約37%、中国語約22%、スペイン語約15%の順に多い。
 背景には、90年の出入国管理法改正で、日系人については、それまで認められていなかった単純労働が可能になり、主に南米からの入国者が急増したことがある。ただ、日本語が十分使えないことで、子供が学校に来なくなったり、卒業しても定職に就けなかったりする問題点が指摘されていた。
 このため、文科省は、教科内容を教えながら日本語指導をする際の注意点をまとめ、03年に小学生用、今年3月には中学生用の指導手引を作成。例えば、中学の国語の授業ではなぞなぞやしりとりをして日本語の単語の数を増やすことや、知らなかった言葉を集めて辞書を作ることなどをアドバイスしている。
 しかし、日本語指導の担当教師を置いている自治体は70にすぎないなど、指導体制は不十分なのが現状。文科省では、一般の先生が日本語を指導できるよう、研修体制の充実を図る方針だが、早稲田大大学院の川上郁雄教授(日本語教育)は「米国やオーストラリアには英語を話せない子供に英語を教える先生を養成するシステムがある。日本でも、こうしたシステムを導入し、外国人の子供に日本語を教える専門の先生を必要な学校に配置すべきだ」と訴えている。
(2007年5月21日 読売新聞)
ENDS

Fun Facts #5: Nat Geo on Japan’s Tsunami Charity

Hi Blog. I voice enough criticism of Japan on this space. Let’s also give praise where it is due.

According to the National Geographic Dec 2005, Japan’s record regarding keeping its international promises regarding tsunami relief has been excellent. In fact, it’s basically the only country which made (even superseded) enormous pledges of donations for victims of the big waves a couple of years ago.

Bravo, Japan! Shame on everyone else, especially the oil-rich countries–both in terms of pledge and fulfillment. Where’s the Muslim feeling of brotherhood when you need it? Debito

natgeo1205001.jpg
ENDS

UTU: Petition against outsourcing NJ jobs (人材派遣会社からの雇用を中止)

FORWARDING. ARUDOU DEBITO IN TOKYO

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

From: Nick Wood, President, NUGW Tokyo Nambu UTU

Dear Arudou Debito,

We would be grateful if you would consider adding the announcement below to your regular mailing.

I will be honest, there is some debate over the Japanese wording of the petition. UTU opposes the strategy of outsourcing, a strategy that is being used to cut jobs and wages. This, apparently, can not be easily translated into Japanese, and there is concern that the petition might be construed as an attack on despatch workers. This is most definitely not the case.

NUGW Tokyo Nambu’s Executive approved the petition last night, and we hope you can give it your support. The due date for collection is July 1, 2007

Best wishes… Nick Wood

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

UTU Announcement:
“Stop Outsourcing – Job Security for All” Petition

The University Teachers Union has launched a “Stop Outsourcing – Job Security for All” petition and is seeking the support of individuals, organizations and unions in Japan.

The petition, which will be submitted in early July, aims to highlight the threat of outsourcing to educational standards at universities, the threat of outsourcing to the job security of university teachers, and the general threat posed by the strategy of outsourcing to the living standards and job security of all workers – both Japanese and foreign.

Download the petition at http://www.utu-japan.org

The petition reads:

安定した雇用の確保を求めます

内閣総理大臣 安倍 晋三 殿

人材派遣を中止せよ!

人材派遣会社からの教員派遣は、安定した雇用を破壊している。短期間の欠員を埋めるために派遣労働が用いられているが、これはリストラを増やし、賃金・福利厚生を減らすことが目的です。誰にでも安定した雇用を確保する権利があります。
今直ぐ、人材派遣会社からの雇用を中止するよう申し入れます。

STOP OUTSOURCING! JOB SECURITY FOR ALL!

To Prime Minister Shinzo Abe:

Outsourcing is destroying job security. Agency workers are needed to fill temporary vacancies, but outsourcing is being used by employers to cut jobs, cut wages and cut benefits. We all have a right to secure employment. Stop outsourcing our jobs now!

大学教員組合(UTU)の方針は下記の通りです。
「専門職教師の首切り、派遣教師の採用によって人件費を削減しようとしている大学があります。人材派遣会社からの教員雇用は、我々の安定した雇用や大学の教育水準に対して大打撃です。
今直ぐ、人材派遣を中止して下さい。」

University Teachers Union says: Some universities are trying to cut costs by using agency teachers and dismissing experienced instructors. Outsourcing threatens our job security and educational standards. Stop outsourcing now!

Download the petition at http://www.utu-japan.org, or here:
UTU Stop Outsourcing Petition.pdf
ENDS

Petitions re Comfort Women US Congress House Res. 121

Hi Blog. I blog this as a matter of record, received from overseas activist lists. Now, while I don’t agree with all sentiments expressed below, I do believe that the US Congress resolution on this is important, since the GOJ would otherwise refuse to settle this issue in my view properly. It will also serve as an update on what’s happening at the grassroots level vis-a-vis this movement. Give the below as due consideration as you see fit. Arudou Debito in Tokyo

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

SUPPORT THE “HOUSE RESOLUTION 121” NOW! LONG-OVERDUE JUSTICE FOR “COMFORT
WOMEN”; END JAPAN’S DENIAL AND IMPUNITY OF ITS WAR CRIMES!

The H.Res121 calls on the government of Japan to formally acknowledge and
apologize for its role in the coercion of women into sex slavery.
(introduced by Mike Honda, and now has more than 120 co-sponsors)

May 17, 2007

Friends,

It has been more than 60 years of the women forced into sexual slavery by
the Japanese Imperial government and justice has yet to be seen. A clear
position of the United States (country to whom Japan, esp. the current Abe
regime, is REALLY beholden to, as we know) via Congress will mark the
perhaps the biggest blow to the Japanese government which has stepped up
public efforts to re-legitimatize revisionist history and push forward an
agenda for militarization, war and aggression (sound familiar?) in lockstep
with (and arguably, FOR,) its bigger, stronger partner, the United States.
Peoples already occupied/colonized by Japan and the US are seeing
intensification of that oppression already on the ground, while “old” issues
aren’t even yet accounted for. This has got to stop! And helping STOP the
tears from flowing of the survivor halmonis, grandmothers, and lolas and
more is an important, critical step towards that end.

The resolution calls for what many of the survivors have been demanding for
years. And yet, such a minimal demand has been shunned if not openly
confronted and retaliated with accusations of lying, even profiteering, by
those who represent the Japanese government (i see such comments appearing
in mainstream press so frequently, it’s even “normalized”). Furthermore,
Japan’s legal system aids in protecting Japan’s impunity by dismissing or
ruling against the demands of the many many survivors from various countries
who have courageously brought on lawsuits.

It’s been long recognized in Japan that an international or external
pressure is a critical political force in order to delivery justice to this
issue, and now it seems that the House Resolution 121 has gained so much
momentum, we need to keep it up….and get it PASSED!

And what can those of us in CA’s districts of Tom Lantos (san mateo and
sunset) and Nancy Pelosi (SF) and every one else can do to make sure they
know we’re TOTALLY DOWN with their support? Here’s how:

WRITE A PERSONAL LETTER
Congresspersons care what constituents think, and letters are by far the
most effective way of letting them know what you think. Please, take 10
minutes, and draft a letter which contains only the following 4 short
points:

To Congressman Tom Lantos:
1) I live in your district.
2) I have read and support H. Res. 121
3) This resolution is very important to me (because….)
4 )I urge you to move quickly to mark-uop and allow a vote in the Foreign
Affairs Committee on H.Res. 121

To Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
1) I live in your district.
2) I have read and support H.Res.121
3) This resolution is very important to me (because…)
4) I urge you to move quickly to allow a full vote on the House Floor on H.Res.121.

*It’s important to write down YOUR ADDRESS so that they know your district
(or that you live in theirs).

Fax or email the letter to:
Congressman Tom Lantos: (202) 226-4183 or email thru his website:
http://www.lantos.house.gov
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (202) 226-8259 or email: sf.nancy@mail.house.gov

VISIT THEIR DISTRICT OFFICES
Get together with a small group of friends, family or colleauges, and book
an appointment with them. Let them know face to face your concern over this
issue.

Lantos’ District Office
San Mateo Office
400 S. El Camino Real, Ste., 410
San Mateo, CA 94402
(650) 342-0300
or in SF: (415) 566-5257

Pelosi’s District Office
450 Golden Gate Ave., 14th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 556-4862

And furthermore,
1) Sign the ONLINE petition, Gabriela Network our ally and long time
participant in the larger effort to deliver justice to the Lolas, has sent
this around, add your name, spread the word!
http://www.gopetition.com/online/11466.html
2) Get your organization or group to sign the COMMUNITY LETTER: circulate
your draft for organizational endorsement.
3) See if your local/ethnic papers would be willing to publish an “open
letter” supporting the statement to Lantos and Pelosi next week. If you’re
interested in signing on together and get one published in NoCal
Nikkei/Japanese media, please contact me!

We note that this is a very dangerous trend for the world and all of us,
which isn’t entirely even healed from japan’s first attempt around, when
japan invaded its neighbors and on the other hand was its ally the nazi
regime – creating lots of legitimate, justified hate and religious,
ideological rationale for racist imperialist oppression. Many of those in
power in Japan are comprised of direct descendants and disciples of the very
people who committed atrocious war crimes against humanity during WWII. This
House Resolution could be a HUGE blow and a formidable political force to
actually mitigate the efforts of Japan to roll back the “Peace” article of
the Constitution, or continue colonial and racist policies domestically,
with such legitimacy and impunity. The most significant thing right now is
the voice of every each one of us right now. Please let yours be one that
counts at this critical moment!

Thanks to Gabriela Network (http://labanforthelolas.blogspot.com) and the “121 Coalition” ( http://www.support121.org) for their 411 & support.
Also, see their URLs for more info.
ENDS

Asahi: Update on NJ Trainee Worker program: reform or abolition? (UPDATED)

Hi Blog. I’m heading down to Tokyo tomorrow to give a speech at a human-rights retreat for some major Japanese corporations (Kirin, Mitsubishi etc), so I’m not sure when’s the next time I’ll be online. But anyway, here’s an update on what the Japanese government is thinking about the much-abused “Trainee Visa” program for NJ workers (more on the abuses blogged here). Debito in Sapporo

ADDENDUM: Original memos from Nagase included below article, courtesy of an insider friend. (長勢法務大臣のメモ「外国人労働者受入れに関する検討の指示について」、平成19年5月15日付)原文は記事の下です。)

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Nagase enters foreign-worker feud
05/17/2007 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200705170115.html

Justice Minister Jinen Nagase proposed that Japan move to accept unskilled foreign workers, a “personal idea” that has startled bureaucrats and complicated debate on reforming a problem-ridden trainee-intern program.

Nagase’s proposal was broached on Tuesday amid a tug-of-war between the labor and industry ministries over their conflicting reform plans released over the past week on the foreign trainee-intern program.

The labor ministry wants to end unlawful labor practices associated with the program, while the industry ministry wants to help smaller companies that are having a tough time finding workers.

Nagase entered the fray Tuesday with a plan that called for the program’s abolition, rather than reform. The plan would, in effect, pave the way for unskilled workers to enter Japan under certain conditions.

Specifically, a limited number of foreigners will be allowed to work up to three years under the supervision of government-sanctioned entities. These workers should not stay after that period, and their wages and working conditions must be safeguarded, according to Nagase’s proposal.

The plan surprised mandarins of both the labor and industry ministries.

“We’ve never expected such a bold plan to come out,” one official said.

The government introduced the trainee-intern program in the early 1990s to help workers from developing countries learn industry skills here.

In their first year, they learn work skills as “trainees.” In the second and third years, they work as “interns” at companies under labor contracts.

Critics say, however, that companies are using them as low-wage workers to make up for labor shortages.

According to Justice Ministry figures, cases of unlawful practices involving foreign trainees and interns shot up to 229 in 2006, from 92 in 2003. In many cases, the foreigners worked overtime hours beyond the limits or were not paid in full.

Some of the workers have taken their problems to court.

To remedy the situation, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare proposed scrapping the “training” part of the program and integrating it into the internship part.

Under the current system, trainees are not subject to labor law protections, including minimum wages, which allowed businesses to exploit them.

But officials of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said the labor ministry’s plan would weaken the program’s intended purpose of technical transfers.

Instead, the industry ministry plans to beef up the program with tighter controls and penalties, and allow interns to work two additional years at small as well as major companies.

The labor ministry’s plan will allow an extension only at major firms.

Japan’s tightening labor market, which has hit smaller companies especially hard, is behind the calls for the program’s review.

In 2006, 41,000 foreign trainees went on to internships, a jump from 11,000 for 1999. Most of the employers were small companies.

To cope with the shortage of workers, business circles are calling on the government to lift the ban on unskilled foreign workers under certain conditions.

But the government has so far maintained its position to keep out unskilled workers for social security and other reasons. The labor ministry insists that accepting them could negatively affect wages and other working conditions for Japanese workers.

Related ministries reconfirmed this stance last June, but Nagase nonetheless came out with his proposal.

Hidenori Sakanaka, director at the nongovernmental Japan Immigration Policy Institute, welcomed Nagase’s idea and urged debate on the issue.

“The current system is an epitome of problems because foreigners are forced to work at low wages in the name of training or internship,” he said. “As Japan’s population shrinks, we need full debate with their (foreign workers’) settlement and permanent residence in view.”

(IHT/Asahi: May 17, 2007)
ARTICLE ENDS
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MOJ MINISTER NAGASE’S MEMOS TO KASUMIGASEKI IN JAPANESE (two pages)
(クリックすると拡大されます)
nagasememo051507001.jpg
nagasememo051507002.jpg
ENDS

Asahi: Kurashiki hotel refuses foreigners

Hi Blog. This just came through this morning on the Asahi. They haven’t bothered to translate it for the IHT, so I will:

==============================
PERSON REFUSED HOTEL LODGING IN KURASHIKI BUSINESS HOTEL “BECAUSE HE’S A FOREIGNER”
THE ASAHI SHINBUN May 17, 2007

Translated by Arudou Debito. Thanks to about ten people for notifying me.
Original Japanese blogged at
http://www.debito.org/?p=400

KURASHIKI, Okayama Pref: In April, a Chinese man (45) living in Hiroshima was refused lodging in a Kurashiki business hotel. The reason given was that he was a foreigner.

According to Japan’s Hotel Management Law, refusals may only take place if there is a clear risk of infection from a patient, or the suspicion that illegal activities will occur, such as gambling [tobaku]. [sic]

The City Government of Kurashiki apologized for causing discomfort to the refused man. They added that they will redouble their efforts to ensure that every hotel in the area is informed not to refuse non-Japanese.

The Chinese man first went to a Kurashiki hotel on the evening of April 3, which was full, so management phoned around and found another hotel with rooms available.

Unfortunately, they were told by the management there that “we don’t allow foreigners to stay here”.

When the Chinese man went to the other hotel to find out more, he was told by the manager (70) that “our rule is to not give foreigners accommodation”, and was refused a room.

A few days later, a friend of the man contacted the Kurashiki Tourism Convention Bureau, which followed up on the issue. Kurashiki’s Desk for Promoting International Peace and Communication then called the Chinese man in late April to apologize, saying “We’re sorry for the discomfort caused you by our city, which is promoting itself as a a place for international tourism.”

The same bureau sent a letter of warning (chuui kanki) and guidance to its affiliated members dated May 7.

The Chinese man works in Japan and has no problems communicating in Japanese. He fumed, “This is outrageous. How would Japanese feel if the same thing happened to them? It must stop.”

The management of the hotel refusing foreigners, on the other hand, said, “We can’t deal with all the language issues regarding foreign lodgers, so that’s why we refuse them.” They indicated that they would continue doing so.
======================
ARTICLE ENDS

COMMENT: Not mentioned in the article is that the hotel in question is

BUSINESS HOTEL APOINTO
(Kurashiki Miwa 1 chome 14-29, phone 086-423-2600), website http://www5.ocn.ne.jp/~apoint/

I called the Kurashiki City Government (particularly the Kankou Convention Bureau, 086-421-0224, Mr Ono), and a few other places today to find out more about the case.

Finally calling the hotel, I talked to a Mr Kawakami, who said that they saw the error of their ways (thanks to administrative guidance from the city government), and would no longer be refusing foreign guests.

Good, but this is quite a U-turn, on the very day an Asahi article comes out saying that they would continue. Guess it remains to be seen. I have notified my friends in Kurashiki to keep an eye out.

In the end, thanks are owed the Kurashiki City Government (unusually; see other cases of government inaction in the face of clear and signposted racial discrimination archived at the ROGUES’ GALLERY OF EXCLUSIONARY ESTABLISHMENTS) for actually doing something about the problem.

They were, of course, legally bound to, since the Ryokan Gyouhou (Hotel Management Law) Article 5 requires hotels to keep their doors open to anyone, unless there is a health issue involving contagious disease, a clear and present endangerment of public morals, or because all rooms are full. (See Japanese original of the law here.) [No mention of “gambling” as one of the endangerments, despite what the Asahi article says above.]

Which is what makes hotels a relatively refusal-free haven for NJ in Japan (on the books, anyway). One of the issues brought forth in the Otaru Onsens Case was that the Otaru City Govt’s hands were tied because the bathhouses were private-sector, therefore outside of any legal control vis-a-vis discrimination. As I keep saying, racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan.

But hotels in particular are specifically-governed by a law preventing wanton refusals, including those based upon race or nationality. See more here.

Still, the law is only as good as those who enforce it. Tokyo Shinjuku-ku, for example, has a business hotel named TSUBAKURO (Tokyo Shinjuku-ku Hyakuninchou 1-15-33, Tel 03-3367-2896, website here.).

TSUBAKURO has been refusing foreigners for years (see their signs at http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Shinjuku) and have been called and visited a number of times (last time by Debito and friends in February 2005).

I have even told the local Hyakuninchou Police Box about this, shown them the law, and photos of the sign. They told me to take it up with the Shinjuku Police HQ. Great job, boys.

Meanwhile, the signs and exclusionary rules stay up at Tsukaburo. Anyone want to take this up with the authorities? (I’m too far away to make any visits to police HQ.)

In any case, thanks Kurashiki City Govt.! Arudou Debito in Sapporo

朝日:「外国人だから」と宿泊拒む 倉敷のビジネスホテル

ブロクの皆様こんばんは。有道 出人です。いつもお読みいただいてありがとうございました。

さて、今朝新聞に載った記事ですが、私はきょうそれぞれのところに調べに電話して、結果発表を記事の下に記載します。

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「外国人だから」と宿泊拒む 倉敷のビジネスホテル
朝日新聞 2007年05月17日06時53分
http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0517/OSK200705160090.html

 岡山県倉敷市内のビジネスホテルで4月、広島市在住の中国人男性(45)が、外国人であることを理由に宿泊を拒否されていたことがわかった。旅館業法では、伝染病患者であることが明らかな場合や賭博などの違法行為をする恐れがある場合など以外は宿泊拒否は認められておらず、同市は男性に「不愉快な思いをさせた」と謝罪した。同市は市内の宿泊施設に外国人を理由に宿泊拒否をしないよう周知徹底を図る、としている。

 中国人男性は4月3日夜、最初に訪れた倉敷市内の別のホテルが満室だったため、ホテルの従業員が電話でこのビジネスホテルに空室があることを確認してくれた。しかし、従業員を通じて「外国人は泊めないと言われた」と伝えられた。

 男性がビジネスホテルを訪れて真意をただしたところ、フロントで支配人の男性(70)に「外国人は泊めないのが方針」と言われ、宿泊を拒否されたという。

 男性から話を聞いた知人が数日後、同市の外郭団体の倉敷観光コンベンションビューローに相談し、同市が事実関係を確認。市国際平和交流推進室が4月中旬、「国際観光都市として売り出している中、不愉快な思いをさせて申し訳ない」と電話で男性に謝罪した。

 同ビューローも加盟施設あてに5月7日付で指導の徹底を求める注意喚起の文書を送付した。

 日本で仕事をしている男性は日本語に不自由はなく、「日本人が同じことをされたらどう思うか。非常に心外だし改善してほしい」と憤っている。一方、宿泊を拒んだビジネスホテルの支配人は「外国人客は言葉などの面で対応しきれずお断りしている」と話し、今後も外国人の宿泊を断るという。

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

有道よりコメント:

 本日午後、当局(倉敷市観光振興課、観光コンベンションビューロ(086-421-0224 小野氏)など)に電話して、結局ホテルの名前を聞きました:

 ビジネスホテル「アポイント」(倉敷市美和1丁目14−29, 086-423-2600)website http://www5.ocn.ne.jp/~apoint/

 当ホテルに電話して、「かわかみ」という方と話しましたが、「外国人お断りは取り止めました。市から指導を受けて、これから外国人を受付します」などと言いました。

 よかろうが、なぜ今朝こその朝日新聞さえ『宿泊を拒んだビジネスホテルの支配人は「外国人客は言葉などの面で対応しきれずお断りしている」と話し、今後も外国人の宿泊を断るという』を報道したのでしょうか。ましてや、倉敷市の観光コンベンションビューロがアクションを起していなければ、このUターンにならなかったのではないでしょうか。

 対照的な事例は東京都新宿区の「ビジネスホテル つばくろ」(東京都新宿区百人町1-15-33 Tel 03-3367-2896)は数年間「外国人お断り」をしています。私と友人は数回も(2005年2月は前回)「このポリシーはいかないですよ、旅館業法五条違法」と説明しても、支配人はそのままです。最近「(日本語話せる方はOK)」を書き加えたが、それでも違法行為です。(当ホテルの「外国人客お断り」の看板はこちらです。)しかし、近くの交番にこの件を通報しても、「新宿区警察署に言って」と盥回しました。結果は、放置のままです。

 要は、当局からのアクションがなければ、「放置」国家となりますね。差別撤廃は行政府次第です。特に注目することは、小樽温泉問題と違って、「入浴施設は民間会社なので差別行為を取り止める法律がないため、行政府は拘束力がない」と当局が言ったが、ホテルの場合該当する法律(旅館業法)が存在しています。
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旅館業法 第五条
 営業者は、左の各号の一に該当する場合を除いて は、宿泊を拒んではならない。
一  宿泊しようとする者が伝染性の疾病にか かつていると明らかに認められるとき。
二  宿泊しようとする者がとばく、 その他の違法行為又は風紀を乱す行為をする虞があると認められるとき。
三  宿泊施設に余裕がないときその他都道府県が条例で定める事由があるとき。
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 よって、「外国人だから」を理由して拒んではいけません。いつ東京都は法律を執行するのでしょうか。

 とにもかくにも、倉敷市へ感謝いたします。有道 出人

 以上

LA Times: More on forced police confessions

Hi Blog. Another in a series on how warped the judicial system here can get, with its overreliance on confession (as opposed to gathering evidence). To the point where we have a rare case of a former judge cracking and spilling his guts over a case, giving us some insight on how a panel of three judges could convict a person on circumstantial evidence. Pity the convicted has already spent 28 years in solitary confinement on death row…

Anyway, read on. Another good article. Debito in Sapporo

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Japan urged to come clean on confessions
Police routinely torment suspects, say activists for a death row convict whose judge admits, 40 years later, that he erred.
LOS ANGELES TIMES May 12, 2007
By Bruce Wallace Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-confessions12may12,1,5427226.story?coll=la-headlines-world
Courtesy of Larry G and Jon L

TOKYO — The physical evidence that implicated former pro boxer Iwao Hakamada in the stabbing deaths of a family of four on a summer night in 1966 was hardly conclusive.

The clothes prosecutors said he had worn during the killing did not fit him.

The murder weapon Hakamada allegedly used was, according to his lawyers, too small to make the wounds. And, they said, the door police claimed Hakamada used to enter and leave the victims’ house was locked.

But prosecutors had the most important piece of evidence they needed, enough for the three judges of the Shizuoka District Court to find Hakamada guilty and sentence him to death.

Hakamada’s confession.

It did not matter that Hakamada almost immediately retracted his admission and then testified during his trial that he had been beaten and threatened during extended interrogations over 22 days in a police detention cell, with no lawyer present. His signed admission of guilt has kept him in prison ever since, through failed appeals, still awaiting an execution that could come at any time.

Now his conviction is again under scrutiny, after the only surviving judge of the three-man panel that found him guilty — by consensus — broke four decades of silence to say he had always believed that Hakamada’s confession was coerced. The case is seen by analysts here as a stark illustration of the Japanese legal system’s addiction to acquiring convictions by confession.

“I knew right away that something was wrong with his confession,” said the former judge, Norimichi Kumamoto, after he finally went public with his belief that he had participated in sentencing an innocent man to die.

Kumamoto, 70, quit the bench six months after the 1968 trial, and says he has carried “hurt in his heart” over his role in sending Hakamada to death row.

“I have always regretted that I couldn’t persuade the chief judge” to acquit, he says. “He was older than me, and I thought that because he had experienced the war when freedoms were taken away or oppressed, that he would understand what had happened to Hakamada.

“But judges in Japan tended to be influenced by the media and social pressures, and the media were being very aggressive, describing [the accused] as an evil figure,” Kumamoto recalls. “And Japanese tend to believe that the prosecutors’ office, as an arm of the government, wouldn’t do anything intentionally wrong.”

Japanese courts deliberate in secret and verdicts are issued under all three names. (Japan does not have a jury system but plans to introduce a hybrid form of judges and juries in 2009.) Kumamoto kept his doubts about the boxer’s conviction to himself, maintaining silence even as Hakamada’s confession was cited as the reason for turning down his appeals and a bid for retrial.

When the ex-judge finally went public in March at a news conference in Tokyo, much of the subsequent media coverage attacked him for flouting a law prohibiting judges from disclosing deliberations.

Some, however, did welcome Kumamoto’s blistering indictment of the system’s reliance on confessions to maintain a conviction rate that exceeds 99% in criminal trials. Unlike American law, which gives suspects the right to have a lawyer present during questioning, Japan allows police to interrogate people without a lawyer for as many as 23 days before pressing charges or releasing them. They can then be rearrested, beginning another 23-day session.

‘Substitute prisons’

The suspects are kept in small holding cells known as daiyo kangoku, or “substitute prisons,” a setting that critics say allows police to coerce confessions to crimes they did not commit. The Japan Federation of Bar Assns. recently joined human rights groups in contending that holding suspects in such cramped conditions, with little or no contact with the outside world, “is a breeding ground of confession coercion and false accusations.”

“This type of interrogation causes heavy mental suffering to suspects and can be considered torture,” the lawyers group said.

Some judges have shown an increased willingness to question the methods used to acquire confessions. In February, a judge in western Japan reprimanded police and prosecutors for their handling of a case in which 12 defendants were eventually found not guilty of using beer and cash to buy votes in a local election.

Six of the suspects had confessed, but the judge ruled that they probably did so “to please the investigators, as they desperately wanted to be released.”

Police had arrested, released and rearrested some of the suspects — one defendant was held for a total of 395 days — and some said they had been told that unless they confessed, their children would be fired from their jobs. The bullying was so bad that one defendant tried to drown himself, but was rescued.

In two other high-profile cases this year, murder and rape convictions were overturned that had been based solely on confessions extracted under intense pressure.

In 2005, the government made slight modifications to the daiyo kangoku system, allowing video cameras to record questioning in select cases.

But the bar associations say the location of the interview is itself the problem: a holding cell where a suspect can be questioned at any time, for any length of time, without food, breaks or a lawyer.

“Even strong people can confess under those circumstances,” says Katsuhiko Nishijima, a Tokyo human rights lawyer who is at the forefront of the legal campaign to get Hakamada’s conviction overturned.

The greatest resistance to introducing new guidelines comes from the police, Nishijima said. “The police argue that videotaping interviews and allowing lawyers would destroy the necessary trust between police and the suspect,” he said.

Many here say the dependence on confessions is a cultural phenomenon in a country where even the best TV detectives are the ones who pull an admission from the crook in a dramatic interrogation scene rather than uncover evidence.

“The general public has trust in this confession system,” Nishijima says. “It’s in the Japanese DNA: There’s a belief that if you commit a crime, you should come clean and confess. When someone is arrested, the newspapers report that ‘police are now aggressively interrogating the suspect.’ And if he doesn’t confess, then the public are unhappy. ‘Ah, he’s still denying it,’ they say.”

That’s why the recent criminal trial of fallen Internet mogul Takafumi Horie for financial malfeasance was seen here as so extraordinary: The young businessman refused to confess during his incarceration. Other top executives at his firm quickly admitted guilt to investigators and agreed to testify against their boss. But Horie held out and, at his trial, made a rare not-guilty plea. He was convicted anyway.

Maintaining innocence

Since recanting his initial confession, Hakamada, too, has always denied any guilt. His lawyers say the onetime contender for Japan’s flyweight crown now refuses to see either family or his lawyers, his mental condition having deteriorated over 28 years in solitary confinement on death row. In Japan, death row inmates are not told when their sentences will be carried out and some have awaited execution for decades. The 99 inmates currently awaiting hanging live with the knowledge that their death will come with as little as a few minutes’ warning.

Working on Hakamada’s behalf, a team of lawyers and activists, which includes 12 former Japanese boxing champions, announced this week that they would petition the Supreme Court for a retrial. They are optimistic that the late-in-life admission by the judge who helped send him away can still free Hakamada, who is 71.

The former judge himself, aging and becoming weaker, says he is trying to right a wrong before it’s too late for both of them. Kumamoto saw himself as a rising star in the judiciary in the mid-1960s, working his way up the case ladder in Tokyo District Court. He had no compunctions about capital punishment, having presided over five death penalty convictions before Hakamada’s trial.

When he arrived in Shizuoka prefecture to hear the boxer’s trial, the media were clamoring for a conviction. But Kumamoto had also schooled himself in American case law, using Time magazine as a reference for U.S. Supreme Court cases of interest. He was particularly impressed by the Warren court of the 1950s and ’60s, lauding it for “its professionalism and its commitment to the rights of the accused.”

Listening to the evidence, Kumamoto says, he believed the boxer was innocent of the murder charges. Hakamada described in court how police pulled his hair and slapped him during interrogations that lasted more than 12 hours a day, and how he was forced to use a portable toilet in the room. He testified that police threatened to bring his mother and brothers in for questioning as well unless he confessed.

By the morning of the 21st day, he said, he was dizzy, feverish and wanted only to rest. Begging for a break, he offered to confess “in the afternoon” if they would just allow him to rest. Instead, the officers came back into the room with a document labeled “Confession” and berated him into signing. He told the court the document was never read to him.

“I wanted a silence and had a headache so just wrote down my name and put my head down on the table,” he testified. “They held my hand and took my fingerprint.”

‘Media pressure’

Although the interrogators testified that they did not use force to get the confession, Kumamoto says he was convinced at the time that it was unreliable. The retired judge says he had even drafted a thick “not guilty” ruling to be read in court when the other two judges insisted on a conviction and ordered him to rewrite the ruling.

“It was half because of the confession, half because of the media pressure,” Kumamoto explains.

He still can’t get Hakamada out of his mind. The images come to him in the late afternoons, he says: the way Hakamada confidently met the judges’ eyes when they entered the courtroom, convinced he was about to be set free. The way his body slumped and his head fell forward at the guilty verdict.

“I couldn’t hear the words that I had written being read out in court,” Kumamoto recalls, tears in his eyes. “I almost lost my mind.”

Kumamoto said he always hoped that a higher court would overturn the verdict. He never considered going public until now. Not after he left the judiciary when a senior judge suggested to him that such a liberal thinker would be happier and more productive as a lawyer or academic. Not during Hakamada’s appeals and pleas for retrials.

“There was no right time until now,” Kumamoto says, refusing to elaborate.

But he’s ready to meet Hakamada to apologize. “And I’ll stand as a witness for him in the Supreme Court, if this is possible,” he says.

“It’s getting late. It’s the last chance.”

—————————
bruce.wallace@latimes.com

Hisako Ueno of The Times’ Tokyo Bureau contributed to this report.
ENDS

YouTube on the Uyoku (Right Wing) in Japan

Hi Blog. Here is a recently-added series of YouTube videos about the Right Wing (Uyoku) in Japan. It’s an hourlong TV show for broadcast on the commercial networks (meaning five 10-minute parts) put online by a Japanese (who by his YouTube record is archiving a lot of visual history).

The show was produced by Fuji TV. It has a somewhat sympatheic bent towards the Uyoku (i.e. the interviewers even get rides inside the soundtrucks, and they depict the rival Sayoku (Extreme Left–in this case only the Chuukakuha is mentioned) as monolithic, militant, and unclear in ideology). I still found it a fascinating insight into the people behind the black windows and steering wheels of the sound trucks.

It’s not made clear when this show was broadcast (it mentions twenty years since Mishima Yukio’s suicide, the recent institution of the Heisei Emperor, and the collapse of Soviet Communism creating a loss of mission for the Uyoku), so let’s say the early 1990’s. Given we are now in Heisei 19 it may be a bit dated.

It opens with a branch of Uyoku lecturing NJ in Roppongi on how to behave in Japan (even if they’re saying “Obey Our Laws, Gaijin”, not “Yankee Go Home” sorts of things, I still find this attitude quite rich…). As this show was filmed long before official GOJ campaigns to depict and target foreigners as criminals, it’s not clear how the Uyoku would behave in the same situation nowadays.

The archiver also insinuates (below) that most people (especially the “gaijin”) are uninformed, in that the Uyoku are somehow misunderstood as “militant racists”. But this show hardly sets the record straight for me; it remains clear that even with all the splinter groups, the common thread is still deification of the Emperor, purity as ideology, and having all Japanese share a common mindset of birthright. Given that I saw the Dai Nippon Aikoku Tou speak yesterday in Odori Park, Sapporo, for more than an hour by their big blue bus (slogan on the back: “Give us back Karafuto [Sakhalin] and Chishima Rettou [the Kuriles]” (i.e. not just the Northern Territories), it’s not clear how they would treat the racially-separate peoples on those islands (or within Japan itself, given all the children of international marriages with Japanese citizenship). I remain doubtful that they would be accepting, which by definition would lead to militant racism.

In sum: As I believe Japan is lurching rightward in recent years, this is worthy of a viewing to get an idea what the extreme version wants. In Japanese with very good English subtitles. Somebody put a lot of work into making this series accessible to the outside world. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Here is the write-up on the series from the person who YouTubed the series:

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

Added May 09, 2007
From oniazuma

1990-The Uyoku are a flamboyant, more hard line faction of Japan’s Right Wing Movement. NOT to be confused with the traditional, regular right wing conservatives.

Also note that the Uyoku is not a single united entity, rather there are many factions voicing many opinions on almost all issues. Some uninformed Japanese and almost all gaijin will just see the surface of the movement and assume they are all militant racists.

This documentary covers the various factions of Uyoku, and their transition from a united front of Anti Communism as Communism dies out, to a shaky future without a ultimate goal. What is the new path for the Uyoku?

Kodo (Action) Uyoku——————————-
We see the Great Japanese Vermillion Light Association, who looks for a new objective. They believe that the Uyoku should change from a feared organization with a violent gangster stereotype to one that is loved by the people. They have taken up the environment as their primary concern, and voice that they are a Human Rights Organization.

Ninkyo (Yakuza) Uyoku—————————–
We see the Japan Youth Society, backed by the Sumiyoshi Yakuza Family. We see that the Yakuza Culture is a Culture of itself. This group may possibly have the strongest mobilization and manpower of them all. They are guided by the old code of gangster honor, and they are not afraid to let anyone know that.

New Uyoku———————————– ——
Characterized by Writer Mishima Yukio, who slit his stomach and had his comrade behead him after a failed coup. The New Uyoku Group we meet, The Issui-Kai (One Water Association) wears casual clothing, appeals to the youth and has a new philosophy of Anti Americanism through popular culture – manga, punk rock etc. The Anti-Americanism directly conflicts with the Original Uyoku, who are very much Pro-American.

Original Uyoku———————————– –
After Senator Akao Bin passed away, his Great Japanese Patriotic Party still lives on. Its members still continue the Anti Communist Stance, “Until it completely dies out.” They lead a humble lifestyle, supported by a small but loyal following. They do not seem to be changing anytime soon.

The Great Japanese Patriotic Union’s leader Asanuma Michio is a hard core old school Uyoku to the end. He firmly still believes that terrorism is right, and that one day a Japan with the Imperial Majesty as the leader will be constructed.

All-Japan Patriot’s Conference Chairman of the Board of Directors Kishimoto Rikio is another old school Uyoku, from before the war. A staunch Shintoist, he seems to be more of a religious old man than a gangster or a fanatic. He seems to not believe in taking over the nation, or making Japan Uyoku. He sees Japan as already having changed too much, that possibly he and his movement are a product of a different time.

Westernized (?) Uyoku—————————–
Nationalist Philospher Nomura served 17 years in the penitentiary for various violent political crimes. Now, he is seen as the leading spokesperson for the Uyoku. Media friendly and immaculately dressed not in Traditional Japanese clothing but in Italian Fashion, he may be the New Face of a Laid back, Informal, Westernized Uyoku.

What is the new path for the Uyoku?

Japanese Uyoku 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rkdqa1HUPWA

Japanese Uyoku 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PapfmWSyGQ&NR=1

Japanese Uyoku 3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u02UO8dwzGQ

Japanese Uyoku 4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB-uRpmremw

Japanese Uyoku 5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dVTrzJsUeY
ENDS

CHE on measures against Japan’s historical amnesia

Hi Blog. As a corollary to the issue of Japan’s historical amnesia (particularly the Abe Administration’s need to deny the Comfort Women issue and reinstitute “Beautiful Country Japan” though enforced patriotism and a selective retelling of history), here’s an example of civil society and disappearing war veterans at work to preserve the record. Debito in Sapporo

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

War Museum Resists Japan’s Historical Amnesia
By DAVID MCNEILL in Tokyo
The Chronicle of Higher Education April 27, 2007

Link for subscribers: http://chronicle.com/weekly/v53/i34/34a05401.htm
Courtesy of the author

The photographs are sickening, a gallery of horrors from a war in which the casualties were counted in the millions: decapitated and disemboweled bodies, dead babies discarded in ditches, skulls staring from a pile of human bones.

After five minutes, the mind starts to numb; 10 minutes and the air in this converted warehouse in a northern suburb feels still and heavy, the weight of history seeping through the doors.

In the newly opened Chukiren Peace Museum, the 80-year old curator, Fumiko Niki, is among a small group of activists and academics who have spent years compiling a depository of records that they say proves the enormity of the imperial army’s war crimes before and during World War II. The effort to remember that history is being lost in a growing revisionist tide, she fears.

“We are in a very dangerous period,” says Ms. Niki. “Awareness of Japan’s role in wartime is fading.”

The main purpose of the museum, she says, is to provide “facts and evidence to history scholars” who want to learn the truth of Japan’s war in China from the early 1930s to 1945. “It is a unique collection,” says the curator. “The repatriated survivors used to be rank-and-file soldiers, which means they were in the front line of the most murderous activities.”

Some other Japanese museums discuss the Nanjing massacre and other war crimes, but typically in a way that minimizes or whitewashes the brutalities committed. The most famous example is the museum attached to Yasukuni Shrine, in Tokyo, which is dedicated to the spirits of soldiers who died in combat, including some convicted of war crimes. That museum essentially argues that Japan was forced into the Pacific war by Western colonialism.

‘Lid on a Stinking Pot’

The core of the Chukiren museum’s collection is the testimony of 300 Japanese army veterans who, while in custody in China in the 1940s and 50s, confessed to atrocities there, including rape, torture, and infanticide. Photographic evidence is held in the archives. Ultranationalists have threatened to burn down the museum, prompting the elderly staff members to look into the unfamiliar world of high-tech security.

The firsthand accounts and more than 20,000 books were donated by Chukiren, an association founded in 1957 by 1,100 veterans who had been held prisoner in China after the war. Many of them had believed that they would be executed as a result of war-crimes trials in China in 1956. But only 45 were indicted, and all of the veterans were repatriated by 1964.

Some became academics and teachers and spent the rest of their lives writing and speaking about what they had done as soldiers. Their testimony was fueled by atonement, compassion, and the need to fight what they saw as Japan’s historical amnesia. When they were not being ignored, however, they were objects of scorn, vitriol, and mistrust. Many critics said the returned veterans had been brainwashed by Chinese Communist propaganda.

“You won’t find these things in school textbooks,” says one of the veterans, Tsuyoshi Ebato, who helped compile the archive.

The accounts include that of a sergeant major who had raped and killed a Chinese woman, and then actually joined other members of his unit in eating her flesh. Mr. Ebato says he himself trained recruits to use captured Chinese for bayonet practice.

“Terrible things like this happened all the time,” he says. “Now people are saying that they never happened. Japan wants to keep a lid on a stinking pot.”

The opening of the Chukiren museum has been hailed by progressive scholars.

“As a historian of that war, I find the testimony consistent with both the documentary record and my own interviews with Chinese villagers,” says Mark Selden, a senior fellow in the East Asia program at Cornell University, in an e-mail message. “Like their American counterparts who returned home to tell of their own destructive acts in Vietnam, the Chukiren soldiers have braved opprobrium from super patriots to tell the truth about the war and their own part in it.”

The collection also includes almost all of the writings of Masami Yamazumi, a former president of Tokyo Metropolitan University and a well-known critic of Japanese education.

Mr. Yamazumi linked his own efforts to preserve evidence of war crimes with his political activism. He fought a long battle to keep official displays of the controversial hinomaru (rising sun) flag out of official school ceremonies. Today, four years after his death, the flag flutters in schools across the country.
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 13, 2007

Hello Blog. Contents of this week’s newsletter as follows:

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1) IPS ON JAPAN XENOPHOBIA’S EFFECT ON ECONOMIC GROWTH
2) KTO ON GAIJIN HANZAI AND SEXING UP FOREIGN CRIME FIGURES
3) NYT ON FORCED CONFESSIONS BY JAPANESE POLICE
4) LUCIE BLACKMAN’S ALLEGED KILLER ACQUITTED, ODDLY
5) ANTHONY BIANCHI REELECTED TO INUYAMA CITY ASSEMBLY
6) PEACE AS A GLOBAL LANGUAGE CONFERENCE, KYOTO, SUBMISSIONS DUE MAY 31

and finally…
7) KYUSHU CYCLETREK 2007: REPORT OF THE 768-KM TRIP WITH PHOTOS

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

By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan

May 13, 2007

Freely forwardable, real-time blog at http://www.debito.org/index.php

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1) IPS ON JAPAN XENOPHOBIA’S EFFECT ON ECONOMIC GROWTH

Here’s another article outlining the social damage created by Japan’s close-to-a-decade (since April 2000, see my book JAPANESE ONLY) of media, police, and governmental targeting of NJ as agents of crime and social instability:

Even when the press finally decides to turn down the heat, the public has a hard time getting over it.

=========== EXCERPT BEGINS =================

XENOPHOBIA MAY HAMPER ECONOMIC GROWTH

By Suvendrini Kakuchi

Inter Press Service News Agency, May 8, 2007

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=37549

Courtesy of Hans ter Horst

TOKYO, Apr 30 (IPS) – Junko Nakayama, 56, refuses to believe that the number of foreigners arrested for crimes is decreasing as per statistics released by the National Policy Agency.

”There are an increasing number of foreigners, mostly Asian, in the area where I live and they look menacing. I am now very nervous when I walk back home from the train station in the evening,” she says.

Nakayama, who works in an international company, is not alone. Surveys indicate that more Japanese–over 70 percent in a poll–believe that the influx of foreigners into Japan is posing a threat to the country’s famed domestic peace. The notion is fuelled, say activists, by sensationalism in the media over crimes committed by overseas workers.

Accepting foreign migrant workers and treating them equally has been a long simmering debate in Japan where pride in national homogeneity is deep-rooted.

Says Nobushita Yaegashi at Kalaba No Kai, a leading grass roots group helping foreign labour: ”Despite new steps to allow foreign workers into Japan, they are viewed as cheap labour not as individuals who have the right to settle down and make a life in Japan. This policy reveals Japan’s xenophobia and is represented in the media.”

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

Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=361

More on the history of the GOJ’s anti-foreign campaigns starting from:

http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#gaijinimages

http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police

One interesting stat from the article:

—————————————————

“On average, foreigners are paid around 15,000 US dollars annually, almost half the minimum considered necessary to live in this country.”

—————————————————

That’s quite a bellwether wage differential, and would definitely like to cite that in future. I asked the reporter for her sources, and she replied that she arrived at that figure after going through the reams of news clips in the press club library, as well as talking to workers and experts.

This is an average, remember. For when you factor in the high pay that foreign diplomats, expat businessmen, foreign legal community, and financial marketers get in Japan, that means this figure should be even lower for foreign factory workers.

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

2) KTO ON GAIJIN HANZAI AND SEXING UP FOREIGN CRIME FIGURES

The Kansai Time Out had a decent two-page article in their May issue on how the GOJ is misrepresenting crime statistics. Opening with the infamous GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine we talked about some months ago, it says what we’ve been saying for quite some time now; glad to see that others agree and keep passing the torch.

=========== EXCERPT BEGINS =================

The increased size of the foreign population is not the only thing that challenges the accuracy of the crime figures. The statistics themselves, both in raw numbers and in percentages, only tell half the story due to the difficulty in defining what constitutes “foreign” crime. According to official reports, “foreign residents” are defined as those who stay in Japan on visas for twelve months or longer, yet short-term visitors (e.g, tourists, illegal immigrants, and temporary workers) are also included in the “foreign crime” statistics, though they aren’t included in the two-million registered foreign nationals. This anomaly has the potential to skew the statistics to make it appear that the crime rate is actually higher. If the actual number of foreigner nationals who are in the country during the year is included in the figures (an additional approximately six million annual visitors), then the total jumps to 6.3 percent of the population, meaning that the crime rate would decrease from a modest 2380 per 100,000 to a mere 597. The crime rate among Japanese is 1776 per 100,000…

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

If you can tolerate run-on sentences, the rest of the article is scanned at

http://www.debito.org/?p=362

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

3) NYT ON FORCED CONFESSIONS BY JAPANESE POLICE

Thanks to two friends for sending me this. Another good article from former hack and now serious journalist Norimitsu Onishi. Keep it up!

=========== EXCERPT BEGINS =================

PRESSED BY POLICE, EVEN INNOCENT CONFESS IN JAPAN

The New York Times, May 11, 2007

By NORIMITSU ONISHI

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/11/world/asia/11japan.html?ex=1179547200&en=a4eb5f0efa88a7a9&ei=5070&emc=eta1

SHIBUSHI, Japan The suspects in a vote-buying case in this small town in western Japan were subjected to repeated interrogations and, in several instances, months of pretrial detention. The police ordered one woman to shout her confession out a window and forced one man to stomp on the names of his loved ones.

In all, 13 men and women, ranging in age from their early 50s to mid-70s, were arrested and indicted. Six buckled and confessed to an elaborate scheme of buying votes with liquor, cash and catered parties. One man died during the trial–from the stress, the others said–and another tried to kill himself.

But all were acquitted this year in a local district court, which found that their confessions had been entirely fabricated. The presiding judge said the defendants had “made confessions in despair while going through marathon questioning.”

The Japanese authorities have long relied on confessions to take suspects to court, instead of building cases based on solid evidence. Human rights groups have criticized the practice for leading to abuses of due process and convictions of innocent people.

But in recent months developments in this case and two others have shown just how far the authorities will go in securing confessions…

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

Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=367

COMMENT: Japan’s interrogation techniques of 23 days’ incarceration with marathon inquests break down plenty of innocent people, as the article demonstrates. A primer on the issue available at Debito.org artery site

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

And it’s certainly an issue germane to Debito.org since Japanese police routinely engage in racial profiling and targeting foreigners (http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#overstay) –expressly in the name of “effective prevention of infectious diseases and terrorism” (http://www.debito.org/japantimes052405.html). It’s lucky with Japan’s extremely high conviction rates (more than 99%) that these people got off.

Speaking of people miraculously beating the rap:

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

4) LUCIE BLACKMAN’S ALLEGED KILLER ACQUITTED, ODDLY

This is old news, which I didn’t get to before Golden Week, but still bears mention:

=========== EXCERPT BEGINS =================

SERIAL RAPIST OBARA GETS LIFE TERM

DEVELOPER ACQUITTED IN BLACKMAN SLAYING BUT SENT UP IN RIDGWAY’S MURDER

The Japan Times, Tuesday, April 24, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070424?1.html

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…

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

Given that Blackman’s body was found encased in cement, close to the flat of a person with an established history of poisoning and mashing women, something doesn’t quite add up here with this court verdict. As the Japan Times pointed out in an analysis piece the same day:

=========== EXCERPT BEGINS =================

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

…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…

[F]ive 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…

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.

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

Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=356

Funny thing about all this is, 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

which ended with a conviction on circumstantial evidence.

Why do the Japanese police seem to have such a hard time dealing with crime committed against non-Japanese, yet have very little compunction about treating NJ as criminals themselves…? Building a case…

Now it’s time for some good news:

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

5) ANTHONY BIANCHI REELECTED TO INUYAMA CITY ASSEMBLY

Naturalized citizen gets a second lease on his public career:

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

US-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

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

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/

Congratulations!

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6) PEACE AS A GLOBAL LANGUAGE CONFERENCE, KYOTO, SUBMISSIONS DUE MAY 31

Friend Albie Sharpe asked me to pass this along:

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

Call for Presentations

6th Annual Peace as a Global Language Conference

Cultivating Peace, in association with a Model United Nations ‘Imagine Peace’

Date: Saturday, October 27 – Sunday October 28.

Venue: Kyoto University of Foreign Studies.

Submissions related to education and research in the following areas are invited:

– peace, the environment, human rights and other global issues,

– intercultural communication, values, health, gender and media literacy,

– foreign language education focusing on global issues.

Presentations may be in English or Japanese, or bilingual. Presenters may be teachers, students, researchers, journalists, activists and others interested in education for a better world.

Submissions should be sent by e-mail to: submissions@pgljapan.org

Deadline for Submissions: May 31, 2007

Further information http://www.pgljapan.org

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

I submitted a proposal for four different talks. We’ll just let them choose which one (or two, perhaps) they want.

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

and finally…

7) KYUSHU CYCLETREK 2007: REPORT OF THE 768-KM TRIP WITH PHOTOS

=========== EXCERPT BEGINS =================

This is not the first time I’ve done something like this. I’ve undertaken a number of cycletreks (see one of my favorite essays at http://www.debito.org/residentspage.html#cycletreks), the last one last summer where a friend and I cycled from Sapporo to Abashiri via Wakkanai and Monbetsu (total for me, 940 kms over nearly two weeks).

But cycling can be addictive, so long as you can take a bicycle seat numbing your tuckus all day, since it ultimately becomes meditation with a view. And by the end of around the third day, when your body has become accustomed to exhausted early nights crashing in a tent, followed by amazingly-full raring-to-go recovery by sunrise, you get into a rhythm and a self-actualizing sense of accomplishment:

You have fuel, functional legs, full tyres, and a flat surface to cycle upon. You feel as if can go anywhere, do anything. All that stands between you and your destination is time–since distance (when you go at least 100 kms a day) becomes surmountable.

Here’s where my legs took me this Golden Week in Southern Kyushu…

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

Rest of the report, with scans of maps and photos of scenery and me en route at

http://www.debito.org/?p=368

Should be a pleasant diversion from Debito.org’s usual fare.

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

Thanks for reading!

Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan

debito@debito.org

http://www.debito.org

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 13, 2007 ENDS

SPECIAL REPORT: KYUSHU CYCLETREK 2007 (with photos)

Hello Blog. Let’s give you a report on a fascinating week, this time blogged instead of the regular html format:

KYUSHU CYCLETREK 2007
MIYAZAKI TO FUKUOKA, VIA THE COASTAL ROUTE

By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
May 13, 2007

This is not the first time I’ve done something like this. I’ve undertaken a number of cycletreks (see one of my favorite essays at http://www.debito.org/residentspage.html#cycletreks), the last one last summer where friend Chris and I cycled from Sapporo to Abashiri via Wakkanai and Monbetsu (total for me, 940 kms over nearly two weeks). But cycling can be addictive, so long as you can take a bicycle seat numbing your tuckus all day, since it ultimately becomes meditation with a view. And by the end of around the third day, when your body has become accustomed to exhausted early nights crashing in a tent, followed by amazingly-full raring-to-go recovery by sunrise, you get into a rhythm and a self-actualizing sense of accomplishment: You have fuel, functional legs, full tyres, and a flat surface to cycle upon. You feel as if can go anywhere, do anything. All that stands between you and your destination is time–since distance (when you go at least 100 kms a day) becomes surmountable…

Anyway, with that in mind, here’s where my legs took me this Golden Week…

THE ENTIRE ROUTE:

Here’s a scan from my brand-new TOURING MAPPLEmapplecover001.jpg–a new map designed for those who wish to see Japan on two wheels (with tips on where to eat, stay and see for motorbikers):

kyushumap001.jpg

The island is Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost big island containing Fukuoka as its metropolis. The route I took is traced in blue. Total distance covered: 768 kms over the course of ten days. Average speed for the duration of the trip, 13.1 kph–which sounds pretty doddering (my trip last summer averaged 16.9 kph) until you take into account the difference in terrain between Hokkaido and Kyushu…

=======================================
DAY ONE: APRIL 27, 2007: TOKYO TO HANEDA, THEN AROUND MIYAZAKI
TOTAL DISTANCE: 48 KMS

Friend Chris (who had the original idea of cycling around Kyushu in the first place–I was originally considering starting in Kurashiki and heading down counterclockwise around Shikoku) put me up in his apartment, and we cycled the surprisingly long distance to Haneda Airport (it’s at least 20 kms from downtown Tokyo) to get our bikes loaded on a regular domestic flight (they won’t take bikes without the front wheel taken off and all the loose parts stuffed into a bike bag, of course). But once finished (JAL, although it won’t take any responsibility for any damage incurred en route, was very good about packing), it was very comfortable to fly in cycling clothes with no luggage for a change.

Once in Miyazaki, I introduced Chris to my favorite chicken nanban restaurant (he’d never had the stuff, but it’s a staple in Miyazaki Prefecture). Then we enjoyed the hospitality of friends in Kyushu (Steve and Masako van Dresser), who proteined us up for the trip, and let us use their living room floor (we had bedrolls and sleeping bags, so no worries).

======================================
DAY TWO: APRIL 23: MIYAZAKI TO POINTS SOUTH
AOSHIMA, NICHINAN, KUSHIMA VIA TOI MISAKI, SHIBUSHI
TOTAL DISTANCE: 168 KMS

kyushumap002.jpg

I’ve been on three separate other cycletreks totaling around a month, and I must say: This was the most difficult cycling day I’ve ever had. And it just had to come on the first day, of course. Although the map indicates that the road hugs the coast (indeed it does), Miyazaki’s roads in this region start about 50 or so meters up on each cape, zooming inland and downhill to a town with a beach and a traffic light (which kills your precious momentum). Then another uphill greets your journey to the next cape rising about 50 or so meters again in elevation. In Hokkaido, at least (the site of all my other cycletreks), coastal roads stay close to sea level most of the time.

kyushumap003.jpg
Closeup of Toi Misaki. Doesn’t this look flat to you? The coast, I mean. Heading south then west.

This daylong slingshotting up and down took an incredible amount of energy out of me (Chris less so, it seemed–as he’s more than 15 years younger than me, and with a brand new, light, state-of-the-art cycle jeering at my boneshaker of a mountain bike). Not to mention the weather was clear and lovely, but with a small enough headwind to hold me in place and toast the spots on my arms and feet I had missed coating with sunblock…

miyazakibay.jpg
Some of the many beautiful bay views in southern Miyazaki. Pity we’re looking down upon them from such a high altitude…
070428_154450.JPG

Turns out Day Two was an overture of road conditions that would last the entire trip: Zoom down, climb up, repeat, repeat… Then start having thoughts about the cursed inverse proportion of Potential and Kinetic Energy, and the tyranny of the Conservation of Momentum. I hate hills–I mean absolutely *loathe* them; I am not an athlete and always look for the easiest way to get from here to there (hence I credit my cycling mileage to mere stubbornness). Alas, hills are much of what the terrain down here is. Kyushu is in desperate need of an Ice Age…

Lesson we soon learned for those who follow in our wake: If you want to get anywhere in Kyushu in decent time, without a motor, and without significant anaerobic acid buildup in your muscles, stick to the main roads. They generally have some semblance of shoulder or bike path, and remain under ten degrees in slope. Otherwise, all bets are off (there was one detour in Nichinan that involved a hastily-built road with bits–I swear–with about 25- to 30-degree slopes. Don’t think that the small-scale side roads are going to give you scenery worth the effort. Get a motorcycle if you really want to explore.

We cycled past sunset, just made it across the border from Miyazaki Prefecture into Kagoshima Prefecture, and spent the evening in a resort onsen hotel, with baths and nap-inducing reclining chairs. Until we were booted out into the night…

========================================
DAY THREE: APRIL 29: AROUND THE RINGS OF KERRY (SATSUMA STYLE) WHERE DISASTER STRUCK
SHIBUSHI, KANOYA, SATA, IBUSUKI
TOTAL DISTANCE: 255 KMS

kyushumap004.jpg

If you really get cartoony about it, Kyushu is shaped vaguely like a upturned cupped hand reaching south to scoop up the islands leading to Okinawa. Our plans were to cross the pinky and head north to Kagoshima City, with its perpetually erupting volcano in the crook of the pinky and ring fingers called Sakurajima. That, however, was not to be.

This being Golden Week, the time when Japan has the most potentially consecutive holidays all year, all the hotels were booked in the onsen areas of port town Shibushi. No worries–tent and sleeping bag were bungee-corded to the back of my cycle, as per plan. What was not according to plan was Chris’s announcement as we were pulling up to Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture’s second city:

“Just got word through my keitai. Family emergency. I’ve got to return to Tokyo immediately.”

Oh hell. So be it. I saw Chris off at the Kanoya bus station (he made plane reservations from Kagoshima to Tokyo in minutes on his cellphone), and I went on alone.

That was better. Nobody to worry about falling behind or keeping up with, or taking responsibility for best-laid plans gone agly. I wound up taking the wrong road, found my way back to the coast, and cycled along the lovely seaside towards Sata (mainland Japan’s southernmost tip–but too hilly for my liking), embarked on a ferry across the bay to Ibusuki (famous for its hot beach sands–get buried up to your neck and experience one of the most relaxing situations ever), and found myself in a campsite overlooking an island connected to the mainland only at low tide.

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Exhausted, but made it aboard the ferry to Ibusuki with less than ten minutes to spare…

I was too tired to do much but just pitch my tent, unzip my sleeping bag, and fall asleep shortly after sunset. Again, it takes a couple of days for the body to get into the rhythm…
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DAY FOUR: APRIL 30: GETTING MY MOJO ON
IBUSUKI TO LAKE IKEDA/KAIMON DAKE, MAKURAZAKI, UP THE COAST TO KASEDA
TOTAL DISTANCE: 345 KMS

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Again, cycling alone was advantageous because I lost two hours taking the wrong road up a caldera to see Lake Ikeda. To quote Led Zeppelin, nobody’s fault but mine. It wasn’t cycling after a while–it was just pushing the bike up the switchbacks, but that in itself was a nice break from pedaling (i.e. it uses different muscles) and the road was shaded. Interesting also was that occasionally people would actually stop their cars, get out, and talk to me about where I was from and where I was going (the baggage of dealing with a White face speaking Japanese took less time than average to get over, it seemed). And once over the rim of the crater, I was rewarded with a lake view backgrounded by Kaimon-Dake, the Mt. Fuji of Kagoshima Prefecture with its near-perfect cone.

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The view of Kaimon-Dake from Ikeda-ko. That’s not the ocean. That’s a lake. Lake elevation 60 meters, I’m at about 100 meters along the caldera rim.

However, I found I wasn’t making good time–it was nearly lunchtime and I hadn’t covered much more than 20 kms, so off I went along the reasonably flat coast to the southernmost city on the ring finger peninsula–Makurazaki.

Famous for its bonito (katsuo), Makurazaki is an industrial seaport town with its coast barred by a wall of cement tetrapots–as if it once got hit by a tidal wave and wasn’t going to get fooled again. Entering the city was no more pleasant–it reeked of smoke and looked run-down and Dickensian. Was glad to head inland on the main road as far north as I could reach that day: Kaseda, or after consolidation with nearby towns, Minami Satsuma City.

I found myself in a marvelous campsite (on a site that apparently had military connections during the war; war memorials to the Tokkoutai (“Kamikaze” pilots) are scattered throughout Satsuma) on coastal Kaseda, being put up in a tent within a tent that could stand a typhoon (we did in fact get zapped by a storm that night, which during my cycle coma I hardly noticed). It was the site of the national sandcastle festival, opening that night, so I got a free fireworks display thrown in. One of the nicest evenings of the trek.

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A tent within a tent at Fukiage Hama. Built like a brick shithouse. Could even stow the bike out of the weather within the first layer of canvas…

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DAY FIVE: MAY 1: GETTING INTO THE RHYTHM
KASEDA, FUKIAGE BEACH, SENDAI, AKUNE
TOTAL DISTANCE: 434 KMS

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The storm had blown itself out, and I was able to take a cycle path following Fukiage Hama, a 40-km beach famous as a nest for sea turtles.
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A leisurely cycle along rice paddies, windbreak trees, and odd valleys filled with freshwater crabs clacking their way into nooks and crannies (redolent of that scene battling bugs in Peter Jackson’s KING KONG) made me glad I was not miniature. Sunburn had gone a painless burgundy (thanks to evening baths in cold water–a mizu buro was always available in every bathhouse I visited nightly), and once the cyclepath ended 30 kms later, I found myself playing chicken every now and again with trucks on shoulderless roads, wondering if I should take a side road–and realizing I had better not.

In Akune, I found a hotel in my Touring Mapple which had a room, and to my surprise the price listed in the book (a little over 6000 yen including two meals) not only was inapplicable (due to Golden Week), but also the 7500 yen holiday price they quoted me instead wouldn’t even include meals. I called the manager, showed him his Mapple listing, and said I would accept the holiday price (GW premiums were understandable) but wanted meals included. He obliged, and I made up the difference with the cheapest meal on the menu with a side order and a beer. The manager said he would be in touch with the Mapple publishers with a correction…

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DAY SIX: MAY 2: MARATHON MAN
AKUNE, NAGASHIMA, AMAKUSA, AND ZERO NORTH
TOTAL DISTANCE: 535 KMS

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This would be the most ambitious day on the road, as I would be covering a good distance with some difficult terrain, crossing two islands. Akune to Nagashima Island was fairly pat, with a swift current and a whirlpool under the bridge across, and some lovely terraced paddies covering too much topography. But otherwise the only thing of note was a shed storing a right-wing sound truck (so this is where they keep them…). Ironically parked in front was a jet-black Mercedes, with the circular logo clumsily removed (it’s not Japanese, after all). I reached the ferry between Nagashima and Amakusa islands before lunchtime, and celebrated the half-hour ferry break with a well-deserved nap.

This finally got me out of Kagoshima Prefecture, a place I found (particularly the ring finger and Nagashima) to be sullen and in parts impoverished. Kumamoto Prefecture, starting with Amakusa, seemed much richer, both in culture (there is a long, deep, Christian history with some towns, such as Sakitsu, built around a church!) and in income (receiving port Ushifuka was rich and full of public works). People seemed friendlier and more receptive to tourists (many of the signs were in Korean), and my stop by a roadside stand serving champon (again, recommended by the Mapple) got me a decent bowl of noodles served by a hospitable waiter overlooking the rising tides of the bay.

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Champon with a view

But as I aimed my bicycle at Reihoku (a city at the top of the island, which I translated as Zero North until I realized the kanji for “nought” was different), I realized that what the champon restaurateur warned me was true–the roads would get steeper and narrower, down to nearly one lane even on a national road.
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A lovely view. Much appreciated if you didn’t have to cycle up and down several of these per day…

Over the course of this trip I felt every kilometer, doddering slowly enough to see monkeys, ferrets, gigantic poisonous centipedes, and all manner of wildlife. But once past the mountain bottlenecks, I had an 11-km home stretch along the coastal plain, racing the sun to the horizon in hopes of reaching Zero North before the winds picked up, and the temperatures dropped again for the night.

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The sunset over Reihoku, arriving just in time…

I made it, only to find the Mapple-recommended seaside campsite was primitive, and the administrator (a nearby ryokan) would not sell me a meal or let me into their baths (“Guests Only”, they said). The closest bath was more than 4 kms away, it was already dark and windy, so I resigned myself to a sweaty night in the sleeping bag–my first ever in Japan.

In a foul mood, I biked down to the harbor looking for a meal and found a friendly hole-in-the-wall restaurant, whose patrons soon made conversation as I was their only customer. They were most interested to hear my complaints about the ryokan (“If they are the kanrinin, shouldn’t they be providing some at least some kind of bath? It’s not like they have to buy advance provisions for a meal.”), and promised to pass them up the ladder in this small town. Then they offered to drive me the 4 kms to the nearest bath and retrieve me an hour later. I gratefully accepted, and found myself with the local working-class folk fresh out of work at the town’s biggest industry–the enormous garbage incineration plant, whose twenty-storey smokestack dominates the city skyline. One of the gentlemen in the locker rooms, in charge of plant publicity and used to dealing with NJ visitors, befriended me, listened to my Ryokan Complaint, and also promised to pass it up the ladder. He then showered me with osenbei rice cookies (hey, this is Japan), rubber gloves (clueless why), and information about the town and the plant that he rushed out and got on his own recognizance while I was soaking. I was then dropped back off near my bike, where I cycled in the full moon back to my campsite feeling like I had had yet another one of my little Japan adventures…

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DAY SEVEN: MAY 3: DAY OFF
REIHOKU TO NAGASAKI
TOTAL DISTANCE: 548 KMS

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I caught the first ferry of the day (8:30 am) across the bay and left Central Kyushu for North. Maybe I’ve mentioned that I hated hills. Well–Nagasaki is nothing but, and getting there after an hour’s ferry ride meant surmounting an 8-km hill between Mogi and the city center. Done in surprisingly short time (when it’s the only hill of the day), I soon rolled into the pizza parlor of Chris Tierney, purchaser of my Japanese Only T-Shirt.
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A professional pizza pie thrower (he’s appeared on Japanese TV, taking second place in a national competition, and his dough is the best part of his lovely little pizzas), I ate four of them at CHRIS’ PIZZA during my stay.

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Here’s one of them, long since digested…

He also introduced me to several friends, and we not only had a nice walk around the beautiful city of Nagasaki, but also evening beers around his campfire site next to his house on the very top of the hill (which he amazingly walks two and fro every day to get to work).
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The view from Chris’s guestroom window in Nagasaki. Note hills.
This was the best night of the trek, and you can read about it a little more (with a photo) on one of the guest’s blogs (http://true-bitch.blogspot.com/2007/05/crusader-on-bicycle.html).

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DAY EIGHT: MAY 4: THE REACH NORTH
NAGASAKI, OHMURA, YOROKOBINO
TOTAL DISTANCE: 611 KMS

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This day should have been total crap, since it was raining constantly (and would without much letup the rest of my trek). But I waited until lunchtime for some abatement, realized after a pizza it was now or never, and bid farewell to Chris (not before a photo–you can see me in my bright-yellow raingear above).

And it was essentially a total crap day. All I could do was dodge car splashes and keep listening to NPR on my iPod, and wonder just how much distance I could cover this day (since I had lost half of it due to a sleep-in in a real bed and a nice breakfast courtesy of Chris’s wife). Chris noted that he’d covered the distance between Nagasaki and the local airport in Ohmura in ten minutes on the expressway. But he’s totaled three cars, so he’s not much of a measure of sane speeds. Even still, I didn’t get through the damn place (the city itself is about 6 kms long) until nearly 4PM, and had the sinking feeling that I would be sleeping rough in the rain in my tent, something I always prefer to avoid.

But I had better luck this time. When I eventually turned inland and finished climbing a 5-km hill (not very steep, but punishingly long) at about 5 kph, I realized that the outskirts of onsen town Yorokobino had some Love Hotels. Problem is, they weren’t offering their overnights unless you stayed in the hotel from after 10 PM, and by now it was only 6 PM. Nevertheless, I pulled into the shabbiest one around (they would probably be more hungry for my business and less likely to be full), and talked the laughing matron of the establishment into taking me in. “Don’t tell our manager, but I’ll comp you two hours. Pay me one Rest Rate and then the Stay Rate and I’ll throw in your meal.” Deal. Total cost: 7600 yen. Given the size of the bed and the bath (big enough for two, natch), plus free TV (I could only stay awake for about an hour of it–devoted to the weather channel, not porno), and curry rice and cup noodle brought to my door. I felt snug and safe as I heard the rain pick up for the evening…

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DAY NINE AND TEN: MAY 5-6: REACHING MY DESTINATION
YOROKOBINO, TAKEO, SAGA, AND FUKUOKA
TOTAL DISTANCE: 768 KMS

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As I said, the rain just kept on coming down, so I slogged it through to the flatlands of Saga (there isn’t much but rurality in the whole prefecture), turned north towards Dazaifu, and realized that despite covering more kilometers than any other day (more than 120), thanks to the lack of topography I was in downtown Fukuoka long before sunset.

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Arrival at Fukuoka Airport, trusty hoss as relieved as I…

My host, union activist Chris Flynn, took me into his brand new house, had me fed, and regaled me with stories of labor disputes won and lost. Since I had cut my trip a day short due to the weather, I spent the next and final day cycling around Fukuoka City proper, thinking I might see some of the man-made islands around the harbor. But when drizzle graduated up to downpour with chilly wind thrown in, I gave up and spent the day in a harborside onsen (ironically called Yunohana–the very name of the Otaru onsen which we sued successfully for racial discrimination) warming my bones. Another evening with Chris and family providing wine and SPIDERMAN on the TV later, I was cycling to the airport (probably the most convenient one in Japan–only two kms from the main train station, Hakata) the next morning to pack up my bike and head home, dressed only in short sleeves and shorts (I had thrown away my long-unwashed other clothes), to a Hokkaido about two months behind weatherwise.

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CONCLUSIONS

I generally like to end my travelogues (see previous ones at http://www.debito.org/residentspage.html#OTHERESSAYS) with some insights into life, the universe, and everything. Doubt if I can this time, really. This report is one I have to toss off in one part because I have a lot of other essays, papers, and speeches baying to be finished.

But one lesson I think I have learned is that when it comes to the unpredictability of a journey like this (where there are so many variables, be it exhaustion, road conditions, fickle fancy of roadside attractions, and most of all the weather), it’s best (for me, anyway) to travel solo unless you really can relate to a partner. For alone, if something goes wrong, there are no fingers to point elsewhere, nobody to curse or blame but the fates, and no guilt for possible bad advice. And if people cycle at different rates, you either slow somebody down or feel like you’re being held back, which is a fun damper. I can’t imagine how others do these treks in groups.

I don’t feel alone in this. I saw other bikers on the trail (not many; about five), and three of them were not at all friendly. They kept themselves to themselves, and were not interested in sharing stories or discovering origins when they had to make a certain amount of distance before nightfall. Or maybe they just didn’t want me to break their meditation or stride. Suited me fine. The interesting thing was that the unfriendly ones looked older than me. Maybe that’s the future.

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During one of my refuelling… er… eating breaks outside a konbini… Almost there. Don’t I look social?

Already looking forward to the next cycletrek (Hokkaido again, this summer),
Arudou Debito in Sapporo
May 13, 2007
KYUSHU CYCLETREK 2007 REPORT ENDS

NYT on forced confessions by Japanese police

Hi Blog. Thanks to two friends for sending me this. Another good article from former hack and now serious journalist Norimitsu Onishi. Keep it up!

Japan’s interrogation techniques of 23 days’ incarceration with marathon inquests break down plenty of innocent people, as the article below demonstrates. A primer on the issue available at debito.org artery site at http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#arrested

IF YOU DID NOT DO IT, DON’T CONFESS. OR ELSE YOU WILL GO TO JAIL.

And it’s certainly an issue germane to this blog since Japanese police routinely engage in racial profiling and targeting foreigners–expressly in the name of “effective prevention of infectious diseases and terrorism”. It’s lucky that with Japan’s extremely high conviction rates (more than 99%) that these people got off. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Pressed by Police, Even Innocent Confess in Japan
THE NEW YORK TIMES, May 11, 2007
By NORIMITSU ONISHI

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/11/world/asia/11japan.html?ex=1179547200&en=a4eb5f0efa88a7a9&ei=5070&emc=eta1

SHIBUSHI, Japan — The suspects in a vote-buying case in this small town in western Japan were subjected to repeated interrogations and, in several instances, months of pretrial detention. The police ordered one woman to shout her confession out a window and forced one man to stomp on the names of his loved ones.

In all, 13 men and women, ranging in age from their early 50s to mid-70s, were arrested and indicted. Six buckled and confessed to an elaborate scheme of buying votes with liquor, cash and catered parties. One man died during the trial — from the stress, the others said — and another tried to kill himself.

But all were acquitted this year in a local district court, which found that their confessions had been entirely fabricated. The presiding judge said the defendants had “made confessions in despair while going through marathon questioning.”

The Japanese authorities have long relied on confessions to take suspects to court, instead of building cases based on solid evidence. Human rights groups have criticized the practice for leading to abuses of due process and convictions of innocent people.

But in recent months developments in this case and two others have shown just how far the authorities will go in securing confessions. Calls for reforms in the criminal justice system have increased, even as Japan is to adopt a jury-style system in 2009 and is considering allowing victims and their relatives to question defendants in court.

In Saga Prefecture in March, a high court upheld the acquittal of a man who said he had been coerced into confessing to killing three women in the late 1980s. The court found that there was no evidence against the man other than the confession, which had been extracted from him after 17 days of interrogations that went on more than 10 hours a day.

In Toyama Prefecture the police acknowledged early this year that a taxi driver who had served almost three years in prison for rape and attempted rape in 2002 was innocent, after they found the real culprit. The driver said he had been browbeaten into affixing his fingerprint to a confession drawn up by the police after three days of interrogation.

“I Just Didn’t Do It,” a new documentary by Masayuki Suo, the director of “Shall We Dance?” has also raised popular awareness of coerced confessions. The documentary is based on the real-life story of a young man who was falsely accused of groping a teenage girl on the Tokyo subway and imprisoned for 14 months. It portrays how the authorities extract confessions, whether the accused are guilty or not.

“Traditionally in Japan, confessions have been known as the king of evidence,” said Kenzo Akiyama, a lawyer who is a former judge. “Especially if it’s a big case, even if the accused hasn’t done anything, the authorities will seek a confession through psychological torture.”

The law allows the police to detain suspects for up to 23 days without an indictment. Suspects have almost no contact with the outside world and are subject to constant interrogation, a practice that has long drawn criticism from organizations like the United Nations Human Rights Committee and Amnesty International.

Suspects are strongly pressed to plead guilty, on the premise that confession is the first step toward rehabilitation.

The conviction rate in Japanese criminal cases — 99.8 percent — cannot be compared directly with that of the United States, because there is no plea bargaining in Japan and prosecutors bring only those cases they are confident of winning. But experts say that in court, where acquittals are considered harmful to the careers of prosecutors and judges alike, there is a presumption of guilt.

In Tokyo, the National Police Agency acknowledged mistakes in the vote-buying case here in Shibushi but defended the system. “We do not think that this is the kind of thing that happens all the time,” said Yasuhiro Shirakawa of the agency’s Criminal Investigation Bureau.

“It is not only about confessions,” he added. “We always inspect whether there is corroborating evidence and whether what the suspects said is true or not.”

In Shibushi, the authorities have gone unpunished, as have those in the two other cases. In a written reply, the police said they had followed the law in their investigation but seriously took the verdict to heart.

It remains unclear what set off the investigation in 2003 of the campaign of a local politician, Shinichi Nakayama, who was elected for the first time to the local assembly that year, beating the protégé of a longtime power broker.

The police started by accusing Sachio Kawabata — whose wife, Junko, is the assemblyman’s cousin — of giving cases of beer to a construction company in return for votes. Mr. Kawabata said he had given the beer because the company had sent guests to an inn that he owned.

Mr. Kawabata soon found himself enduring nearly 15 hours of interrogation a day. Locked in a tiny room with an inspector who shouted and threatened, he refused to confess.

So on the third day, Mr. Kawabata recalled, the inspector scribbled the names of his family members on three pieces of paper. He added messages — “Grandpa, please hurry up and become an honest grandpa,” and “I don’t remember raising you to be this kind of person” — and told Mr. Kawabata to repent.

Drawing no confession after an hour, the inspector grabbed Mr. Kawabata by the ankles and made him trample on the pieces of paper.

“I was shocked,” recalled Mr. Kawabata, 61, who was hospitalized for two weeks from the stress of the interrogation. “Man, I thought, how far will the police go?”

Mr. Kawabata, who was never indicted, recently won a $5,000 judgment for mental anguish. Trampling the pieces of paper, it turned out, had its roots in a local feudal practice of ferreting out suspected Christians by forcing them to stomp on a cross.

The police then moved on to more potent alcohol. According to the trial’s verdict and interviews with 17 people interrogated by the authorities, the police concocted a description of events according to which the assemblyman spent $17,000 to buy votes with shochu, a popular distilled spirit, and gifts of cash.

One of the first to confess was Ichiko Fujimoto, 53, a former employee of the assemblyman. After a couple of days of interrogation she broke down and admitted not only to distributing shochu and cash to her neighbors, but also to giving four parties at her home to gather support for the assemblyman.

“It’s because they kept saying, ‘Confess, just confess,’ ” Ms. Fujimoto said in an interview at her home. “They wouldn’t listen to anything I said.”

Everything in her confession was made up, a court concluded. But it was enough for the police to start extracting confessions from others for supposedly receiving shochu and money at the parties. One neighbor, Toshihiro Futokoro, 58, began despairing on the third day of interrogation, even though he had yet to be formally arrested and was allowed to go home after each day’s questioning.

“They kept saying that everybody’s confessing, that there was nothing that I could do, no matter how hard I tried,” Mr. Futokoro said, adding, “I thought that nothing I said would ever convince them.”

At the end of the third day, Mr. Futokoro tried to kill himself by jumping into a river but was pulled out by a man out fishing. He then confessed.

Another man, Kunio Yamashita, 76, succumbed after a week of interrogation. The police told him that he was the lone holdout and that he could go home if he confessed. “I hadn’t done anything, but I confessed, and I told them I’d admit to whatever they said,” said Mr. Yamashita, who eventually spent three months in jail.

A woman, Eiko Hamano, 65, confessed after the police threatened to arrest her unless she cooperated. “They said that my grandson would be bullied at school, that my child would be fired from his company, that my whole family would suffer forever,” she recalled.

On the fourth day, feeling so sick that she could barely walk, Ms. Hamano confessed to accepting money. To prove that she had spent the money, the police told her to find a receipt for an $85 purchase, she said.

But when she presented the police an $85 receipt for adult diapers she had bought for her mother, they told her she was now confessing to having received $170 instead and needed a receipt for that amount. Luckily, she had just bought a sink for that amount.

“Now I can laugh about it,” said Ms. Hamano, who refused an order by the police to shout a confession out of a window. “But it was serious back then.”

Others never confessed, including the assemblyman, Mr. Nakayama, 61, who spent 395 days in jail, and his wife, Shigeko, 58, who spent 273 days.

The village postmaster, Tomeko Nagayama, 77, spent 186 days behind bars. She was held alone in a windowless cell that she was forced to clean every night after enduring a full day of interrogation.

The police said her refusal to confess was harming her family, she said. Her husband was sick and could not live alone; her daughter had to quit her job to take over the duties at the post office.

But Ms. Nagayama, a former schoolteacher, never once considered confessing.

“I felt I’d rather die,” she said. “This kind of thing just shouldn’t be tolerated in this world.”
ENDS

KTO on GAIJIN HANZAI and foreign crime

Hi Blog. Tonight’s entry (since I’m finding my Kyushu Cycletrek report harder going than I thought–a lot more to say than I anticipated) will be something I got from friend Steve this morning from the Kansai Time Out. Since KTO is not available everywhere in Japan, here are the pages scanned. All about GAIJIN HANZAI Mag and the media/GOJ’s approach to sexing up foreign crime. Hope you can stand run-on sentences…

Anyway, the article says what we’ve been saying all along for years now; glad to see other reporters agree. More on GAIJIN HANZAI blogged here at http://www.debito.org/?cat=27 (page down to see previous articles. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

(Click on image to see full file.)

Foreign Crime -- KTO_Page_1-1.jpg

Foreign Crime -- KTO_Page_2-1.jpg
ENDS

Peace as a Global Language calls for submissions by May 31

Hi Blog. Friend Albie Sharpe asked me to pass this along to you. I submitted a proposal for four different talks this morning–we’ll just let them choose which one (or two, perhaps) they want. Debito in Sapporo

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Call for Presentations

6th Annual Conference

Peace as a Global Language Conference

Cultivating Peace, in association with a Model United Nations ‘Imagine Peace’
Date: Saturday, October 27 – Sunday October 28.
Venue: Kyoto University of Foreign Studies. 6 Kasame-cho, Sakyo ku, Kyoto 615-8558.

Submissions related to education and research in the following areas are invited:
– peace, the environment, human rights and other global issues,
– intercultural communication, values, health, gender and media literacy,
– foreign language education focusing on global issues.

Presentations may be in English or Japanese, or bilingual. The following presentation formats are possible:
– panel discussion (50 110 minutes)
– workshop (50 minutes)
– research presentation (50 minutes)
– poster sessions (no limit)
– other (please specify clearly).

Presenters may be teachers, students, researchers, journalists, activists and others interested in education for a better world.

Submissions should be no more than 100 words, with a 30 word abstract, and accompanied by the following information:
– Name & contact details of each speaker
– Format (Please also indicate if you are willing to give a poster presentation instead of another format.)
– Presentation language (English, Japanese or bilingual)
– Equipment required (please be very specific)
– Preferred date of presentation (November 12 or 13)
Applications may be rejected if the information provided is insufficient.

Submissions should be sent by e-mail to: submissions@pgljapan.org

Submissions may also be sent by post to the following address:
Craig Smith, Kyoto University of Foreign Studies
6 Kasame-cho, Sakyo ku, Kyoto 615-8558

Deadline for Submissions: May 31, 2007

Notification of Decisions: On/around June 30, 2007 via e-mail

Please note: Our budget is very limited. We regret that we cannot provide funding for transport and other expenses. We do not provide guarantees or other documents for visa applications. We are unable to send volunteers to meet presenters at the airport or provide assistance with accommodation (although homestay might be available for a limited number of presenters applying from overseas). Those unable to meet the above requirements are discouraged from submitting proposals as it may result in somebody else losing the opportunity to present. Please be sure to let us know of any change in your details such as e-mail address.

Further information will be posted on our website soon: http://www.pgljapan.org

ENDS

IPS: Xenophobia May Hamper Economic Growth

Hi Blog. Here’s another article outlining the social damage created by Japan’s close-to-a-decade (since April 2000, see my book JAPANESE ONLY) of media, police, and governmental targeting of NJ as agents of crime and social instability: Even when the press finally decides to turn down the heat, the public has a hard time getting over it.

More on the history of the GOJ’s anti-foreign campaigns starting from:

http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#gaijinimages

http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police

One more stat from the article below:

“On average, foreigners are paid around 15,000 US dollars annually, almost half the minimum considered necessary to live in this country.”

Hope to see this substantiated more fully elsewhere so we can cite it in future. That’s quite a bellwether wage differential.

Debito in Sapporo

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LABOUR-JAPAN:

Xenophobia May Hamper Economic Growth

By Suvendrini Kakuchi

Inter Press Service News Agency, May 8, 2007

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=37549

Courtesy of Hans ter Horst

TOKYO, Apr 30 (IPS) – Junko Nakayama, 56, refuses to believe that the number of foreigners arrested for crimes is decreasing as per statistics released by the National Policy Agency.

”There are an increasing number of foreigners, mostly Asian, in the area where I live and they look menacing. I am now very nervous when I walk back home from the train station in the evening,” she says.

Nakayama, who works in an international company, is not alone. Surveys indicate that more Japanese — over 70 percent in a poll — believe that the influx of foreigners into Japan is posing a threat to the country’s famed domestic peace. The notion is fuelled, say activists, by sensationalism in the media over crimes committed by overseas workers.

Accepting foreign migrant workers and treating them equally has been a long simmering debate in Japan where pride in national homogeneity is deep-rooted.

Says Nobushita Yaegashi at Kalaba No Kai, a leading grass roots group helping foreign labour: �-?’Despite new steps to allow foreign workers into Japan, they are viewed as cheap labour not as individuals who have the right to settle down and make a life in Japan. This policy reveals Japan’s xenophobia and is represented in the media.”

The debate over foreigners and crime was highlighted in January when prosecutors in San Paulo, Brazil, charged Milton Noboru Higaki, a former Brazilian worker in Japan, with professional negligence in a hit-and-run case in 1999.

Higaki, a Brazilian of Japanese descent, fled to Brazil four days after the incident that killed a high school girl Mayumi Ochiai, then 16. Her parents then pursued Higaki in his home country in a case that hailed in Japan as a step forward in ensuring judicial accountability of foreigners. Brazil and Japan have no extradition accord and Brazil’s laws forbid the handover of its nationals to foreign countries.

In 2005, Chinese nationals topped the list of foreigners arrested for crime. Nikkei, or second and third generation, Brazilians came next. According to justice ministry figures there are 320,000 of Nikkei living in Japan, working mostly in factories.

�-?The Yomiuri’, Japan’s largest daily, commented on Feb. 17 in an editorial titled �-?Fleeing foreign criminals should be tried in Japan’, said �-?’crimes committed by foreign residents is a serious problem”. The editorial called for a “stringent stance by the Japanese authorities in not allowing foreign criminals to escape punishment.”

But Yasuko Morioka, a human rights attorney, says the media would have done better to focus on the lack of laws to protect foreigners’ rights in Japan. �-?’There is no doubt that provision for access to professional interpretation, documents in their native language, and a legal hearing that considers the rights of foreign foreign workers is largely lacking in Japan,” she explained to IPS.

Morioka said there is no attempt to link crimes committed by Japanese-Brazilian workers to the abuses they suffer — poor working conditions, denial of education for children due to language barriers, discrimination and gross state negligence.

Japan is an attractive labour market for Asian and Latin American overseas workers given the high value of the Japanese yen. On average, foreigners are paid around 15,000 US dollars annually, almost half the minimum considered necessary to live in this country.

Eagerly sought after by small manufacturing companies and farms for cheap labour, they are considered essential to stay competitive against rapid globalisation.

Activists also say Japanese employers easily get away without paying compensation or providing relief when foreign employees are injured during work on the grounds of the lack of documented visas or access to an established system where workers can report this abuse.

Indeed, Higaki was quoted in the media as saying the reason why he fled was because he feared ‘discrimination’ as a foreigner in Japanese courts.

”The charge is understandable,” said Morioka, who is lobbying hard, with the Japan Lawyers Association, for the government to pass legislation that will guarantee the right of foreigners to be treated equally in the host country.

Experts warn that resistance to accepting migrant workers on an equal basis in Japan can result in a host of social problems that can only be blamed on government policies.

According to Hidenori Sakanaka, a former justice ministry official, Japanese companies are desperate to take in foreign workers to make up for a drastic population decline that can only worsen in the coming years.

Japan needs immigrant workers because its own population is both aging and declining. In 2005, deaths outnumbered births by 10,000. From 2006 onwards, the population was projected to dwindle steadily with some projections saying that Japan’s population, currently standing at 127 million, could dwindle to around 100 million by 2050. (FIN/2007)

ENDS

Back in Sapporo, banned from Nagasaki pizza parlor!

Hi Blog. Just a quick word to say I got back to Sapporo safely yesterday (landing from a Fukuoka flight and making my Business English class with five minutes to spare!). Am trying to get caught up on all my emails and other news from a very eventful two weeks on the road, and will hopefully have a quick report on the 768-km Kyushu Cycletrek written fairly soon.

In the meantime, here’s a couple of pictures of me being banned from Chris’ Pizza in Nagasaki!
chrisrefusesdebito.jpg
chrisjapaneseonly.jpg

Well, okay, he (Chris Tierney) is not really banning me. He’s just another satisfied customer of the JAPANESE ONLY T-SHIRTS available on debito.org. And he’ll be selling them at his parlor in Nagasaki as well if anyone’s interested…

More later! Debito back in Sapporo

Quick post from Nagasaki during Kyushu Cycletrek 2007

Hi Blog.  Writing from friend Chris Tierney*s (of restaurant CHRIS*S PIZZA fame) home in Nagasaki (this during Day 7 of my most recent cycletrek) to let you know that all is going well.  Have gone Miyazaki to Kanoya to Ibusuki to Akune to Nagashima to Amakusa and Nagasaki on my mountain bike.  Next stops probably Sasebo and Maebara before hitting Fukuoka and home again.  Done 548 kms so far, probably a couple hundred left to go.  Had wonderful weather the whole time, but as of this morning my luck has broken and rain is forecast for the remainder of the trip–not sure what to do now except just keep pedalling. That*s all I have time for now.  Will write again after returning to Sapporo at the end of the week.  Debito in Nagasaki.