J MSDF demoting military officers with NJ spouses (UPDATED)

Hi Blog. We’ve heard rumors of this before in the past, and it turns out they were true: Imagine the uproar that would ensue in the US if the US military or State Department (with their high numbers of international spouses) were to engage in these sorts of practices–treating their employees as untrustworthy because they married foreigners, naturally all suspectable as spies! Debito in Sapporo

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MSDF officers with foreign spouses to be moved from sensitive posts
Japan Today, Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 05:00 EDT

http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/410685
Courtesy of Ben at The Community and Ken at Trans Pacific Radio

TOKYO — The Maritime Self-Defense Force plans to move officers with
foreign spouses away from posts with access to military secrets after
sensitive data was leaked through an officer with a Chinese wife, the
Sankei Shimbun reported Wednesday.

The MSDF will start the transfers from Aug of 10 officers who are
married to non-Japanese nationals and who have access to high-level
military secrets. The paper said the move is aimed at protecting
military secrets in the wake of an embarrassing leak of confidential
information on the U.S.-developed high-tech Aegis combat system, the
conservative daily said.

About 150 officers out of a total of 40,000 are married to foreign
nationals, according to the daily. Of them, 100 are Chinese, it said.

A 33-year-old petty officer allegedly obtained confidential data on
the Aegis system without authorization. The leak came to light after
the officer’s Chinese wife was arrested in January for a visa
violation.

However, an unconfirmed newspaper report later said the leak may have
occurred by accident when the officer was swapping pornography over
the Internet.

ENDS
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UPDATE JULY 3 2007. FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE, ANONYMIZED:

First of all naturally I’d like to thank you for your
website over the years. Being in a lower class
position in Japan and often singled out not only for
the usual xenophobic pressures we encounter here but
also for my subcultural status your website has long
been a necessary resource.

I was writing today to alert you of something
disturbing I recently encountered with regards to the
Japanese self defense force. This might be something
you’re already aware of or have written on within the
website (I attempted to search but honestly… there’s
simply too much there to be sure I covered
everything). My current spouse is in the SDF and
the other day I learned a very disturbing fact about
the nature of our relationship — when he is on base
and when he talks to his military associates I am
Japanese.

The reason for this he says is a very old rule in the
SDF that members are not allowed to fraternize with
foreigners. Period. And that while the penalty for
him is negligible (normal disciplinary action, which
judging from the times he’s stayed over late and
arrived late at base can’t be that bad) his violation
of this rule could bring the military police to my
doorstep for interrogation and a search and seizure of
my electronic equiptment. He believes it’s more
doubtful as I’m non-Asian but says this has happened
recently with the Chinese wives of SDF personnel.

Naturally, I’m a bit angry about all of this. I can’t
blame my spouse — like I said, my friends are in
the low class spectrum and the benefits and pay for
the SDF really outweigh a lot of the problems, very
similar to the argument for many military outfits.
However on the broad scale of institutionalized racism
this digs under my skin. I’m a national security risk
because I’m not Japanese? My spouse couldn’t cite the
wording of the law but I’m curious — how are second
and third generation citizens perceived? It’s the
grey “gaijin” box again.

This situation with him I find sadly comical. Already
he has to keep large parts of his hobby at my house
lest his superiors think he’s a communist out against
the emperor and now with me he has to leave all his
photos of me at my house. On his cell phone he uses
the Japanese version of my name for my information and
my e-mail address is kept anonymous like all these
english texts are from some stranger with no
connection. A bit depressing.
========================================
ENDS

Asahi: Banning/limiting NJ in J sports spreads from marathons to ping pong, basketball, soccer…

Hi Blog. Debito.org reported in May 2007 how the All Japan High School Athletic Federation banned NJ runners from participating in the first leg of the HS championships.

Now the restrictions are spreading to other sports. As is always the case, once you can get away with discrimination in one sector, others copycat, as can be seen in the spread nationwide of exclusionary JAPANESE ONLY signs on multiple business sectors.

It’s long been a policy (with some recent loosening of restrictions) in the Kokutai National Sports Festivals. So if it happens in a tax-funded national event where people can qualify for something serious like the Olympics, it’s a credible enough rule that any amateur league can mimic. And clearly have.

Gotta feel sorry for all those NJ kids going to high school in Japan, and by dint of their birth, they are told they aren’t allowed to do their best in sports. Kinda defeats the purpose of these events, wouldn’tcha think?

But I don’t think the organizers of these events really understand what “being sporting” is all about. To them sports are great, as long as Japanese win. These twits should look what’s going on in Sumo… Or actually, perhaps they are. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Groups try to level playing field by limiting foreign players
06/29/2007 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200706290152.html
Thanks to Trans Pacific Radio for notifying me.

The slogan of high school sport associations could be: If you can’t beat ’em, ban ’em.

The associations have introduced tough restrictions on foreign students because they are trouncing the Japanese athletes in sports such as the ekiden relay marathon, basketball and table tennis.

The restrictions followed protests from Japanese fans who say the superior ability of the foreign students is making the sporting events dull.

In May, the All Japan High School Athletic Federation decided to ban foreign students from running the first leg in the All Japan High School Ekiden Championships, which is held in Kyoto every December.

For the boys’ division, the total course of 42.195 kilometers is split into seven legs, with the 10-km first section the longest.

In the championships in December 2006, four Kenyan students ran in the first leg. The slowest Kenyan was still 30 seconds faster than the quickest Japanese runner.

Sumio Shokawa, secretary-general of the All Japan High School Athletic Federation’s track and field division, said an ekiden fan sent an e-mail complaining: “No Japanese students are shown on TV. That was like an African championship.”

Another disgruntled e-mailer told Shokawa: “The schools bring the foreign students here just to publicize the names of their schools. They are not suitable for high school sport competitions.”

In the past few years at the ekiden championships, fans of Japanese athletes gather at the Nishi-Kyogoku track and field ground in Kyoto to protest to the participation of foreign students.

The number of foreign students is increasing in other sports, much to the chagrin of many locals.

According to the high school athletic federation, 293 foreign students were registered in 32 prefectures in 2006.

As the number of foreign students has grown, so have the number of restrictions.

In basketball, for example, a school can have only one foreign student on the court. In soccer, only two foreign students from the same school are allowed on the pitch at the same time.

Senegalese students are drawing attention in basketball.

Noshiro Technical High School in Akita Prefecture, which has won the national high school championships as many as 20 times, was defeated by schools with Senegalese students in the past two years.

In the 2005 championships, the finals pitted Fukuoka Dai-ichi High School in Fukuoka Prefecture against Nobeoka Gakuen High School in Miyazaki Prefecture. Both teams had Senegalese students taller than 2 meters.

Foreign high school students who play table tennis are mainly from China.

Over the past 15 years, Chinese students have won the national inter-high school championships eight times in the boys’ singles division and 11 times in the girls’ singles division.

Currently, a school can have only one foreign student on its table-tennis team. In addition, foreign students cannot be on the same side for doubles matches.

Some have doubts on the restrictions on foreign students. They say the Japanese students should just work harder.

One is Shinya Iwamoto, coach of the track team at Sera Senior High School in Hiroshima Prefecture.

The prefectural school, which has accepted Kenyan students since 2002, won the national high school ekiden championships in 2006 for the first time in 32 years.

“Kenyan students are making greater efforts than their Japanese counterparts,” Iwamoto said. “Their attitudes have raised the level of the entire team.”(IHT/Asahi: June 29,2007)
ARTICLE ENDS

Fun Facts #7: Latest Sumo Banzuke shows one third of top ranked are NJ (UPDATED)

Hi Blog. Not a big sports fan by any means (and I won’t analyze this too deeply, since there are plenty of others out there who see and know a lot more about Sumo), but perusing the Nikkan Sports pages while on the road the other day, I saw on page 12 of the issue dated June 26, 2007, the following Fun Facts:

1) THE TWO TOP WRESTLERS (NOW WITH HAKUHOU BECOMING YOKOZUNA) ARE NOW MONGOLIAN
(this is not unprecedented–Hawaiians Akebono and Musashimaru have also done this, but there were also Takanohana and Wakanohana as Yokozuna to balance them out in the 1990’s)

2) NEARLY ONE-THIRD OF THE TOP RANKS (MAKUNOUCHI, i.e. YOKOZUNA TO MAEGASHIRA 17)–THIRTEEN OUT OF THE 42, ARE OF OVERSEAS ORIGIN

3) BROKEN DOWN BY NATIONALITY (apologies for any misread names, corrections appreciated):

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SEVEN MONGOLIANS (Asashouryuu, Hakuhou, Tokitenkuu, Ama, Asasekiryuu, Tsururyuu, Ryuuou)

TWO RUSSIANS (Rouhou, Hakurousan)

ONE BULGARIAN (Kotooushuu)

ONE KOREAN (Kasugaou)

ONE GEORGIAN (Kokkai)

ONE ESTONIAN (Baruto)
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4) And currently in the lower ranks (Juuryou and Makushita), we have another eight NJ listed out of the 48–and seven of those are Mongolian (the other Russian).

CAVEAT:

Crystal-balling on Japan’s internationalization based upon rankings in Sport–especially Sumo (where rankings change very quickly, particularly in the ranks that don’t attract the attention of many fans) is difficult.

But this is pretty impressive, especially when I remember the bad old days when the Sumo Kyoukai doubted foreigners would ever have the proper “spirit” to achieve the enlightened ranks of the coveted Yokozuna. Then came Akebono. Now it seems as though NJ in general, and Mongolians in particular, have come into their own in one of the world’s most exclusive and entertwined-with-nationality sports (the word “kokugi”, anyone?). Bravo.

That’s all the interpretation of the stats I’ll offer. But it’s a development, now with Hakuhou’s ascent to Yokozuna, that Debito.org should observe as well.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

REFERENTIAL LINKS:

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JAPAN TIMES INTERVIEW WITH KISENOSATO, Nov 11, 2006
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ss20061111a1.html:

…Now that you are a regular in the upper makunouchi ranks, how do you feel about all the foreign participation in sumo nowadays?

I know there are a lot of different nationalities now in sumo but I don’t see any of the foreign born rikishi as anything other than rikishi. Rikishi are rikishi to me.

In the stadiums and on television, via the Internet too, there seem to be more and more non-Japanese fans following the sport. Do you think this is good for sumo?

Definitely. At many of the basho I see more and more foreign people, even in the masu-seki box seats and it makes me happy as it gives me extra power to want to try harder.

In these days of so much dominance by non-Japanese rikishi, many Japanese and even foreign fans see yourself and Homasho-zeki as the bright Japanese hopes for the future — how do you feel about that?

I do like the attention, but there are so many rikishi in sumo nowadays that I just feel honored to be able to fight them as best I can.
==========================

JAPAN TIMES INTERVIEW WITH ESTONIAN BARUTO, March 1, 2005

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20050301zg.html

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HAKUHOU WRESTLES HIS WAY INTO THE HISTORY BOOKS, Japan Times May 29, 2007
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ss20070529a1.html

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A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD?
National Sports Festival bars gaijin, and amateur leagues follow suit, by Arudou Debito
Japan Times, Sept. 30, 2003
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20030930zg.html

Even more links here

Readers, add some more links or enclose more articles you find important in the Comments section below…?

Caroline Pover’s T-shirt campaign to find Lindsay Hawker’s murder suspect

Hi Blog. This just came through. Good idea (Debito.org is doing a similar awareness-raising campaign with JAPANESE ONLY T-shirts.), so passing this along. Debito

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From: caroline@carolinepover.com
Subject: I’m launching a T-shirt campaign for Lindsay Ann Hawker’s family and am asking for your help
Date: June 28, 2007 12:07:11 PM JST
To: caroline@carolinepover.com

Dear Friends & Associates

As you probably know, 22-year-old Lindsay Ann Hawker was teaching English in
Japan when she was brutally murdered at the end of March this year. Tatsuya
Ichihashi remains the Japanese police’s only suspect and has still not been
found.

In support of Lindsay’s family and the Japanese police in their hunt for
this man, I am launching a T-shirt campaign. I hope that enough people – men
and women, Japanese and foreign – will wear this T-shirt so that this man’s
face is seen by as many people as possible in Japan, on a daily basis.

I met with Lindsay’s family yesterday, who said: “The more people that wear
the T-shirts, the more support that we will feel is being shown for us.
Lindsay was a teacher, who loved her life in Japan. She would have been
first in the queue to buy and wear such a T-shirt for another victim. She
had a strong sense of justice, and would have done anything she could have
to have helped others.”

PLEASE play a part in assisting Lindsay’s family in keeping this man’s face
right where people can see it. Buy a t-shirt and wear it at the gym,
dropping the kids off at school, going shopping, on the train, and just
walking around – wear it anywhere you will be seen by many people. If you
don’t live in Japan, why not help by buying shirts for us to give to people
who do?

There are many things you can do to help: buy and wear a T-shirt, buy LOTS
of T-shirts for us to give to people to wear, volunteer to help with the
campaign, get your company involved, and pass on this email to all your
foreign and Japanese friends living in Japan. If you are involved with any
print media, we also have a print campaign you are welcome to use.

On behalf of the Hawker family, thank you very much for your support.

Caroline
———–
To order T-shirts go to http://www.cafepress.com/beingabroad

To volunteer yourself, your company, or media coverage, please email
caroline@carolinepover.com

Please forward this email to your foreign and Japanese friends living in
Japan.


Caroline Pover
President & CEO
Caroline Pover, Inc. & Weekender, Inc.
———————–
Being A Broad http://www.being-a-broad.com
Alexandra Press http://www.alexandrapress.com
Weekender magazine http://www.weekenderjapan.com
———————–
Tel: 03-5549-2038
Fax: 03-5549-2039
Email: caroline@carolinepover.com
Chuo Iikura Bldg 5F, 3-4-11 Azabudai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0041, Japan
ENDS

Mainichi Waiwai: Schoolkids smell, partly cos they’ve got foreign parents

Hi Blog. Article from one of the Weeklies, so it’s naturally suss. But people read these things (I do–they’re well written), and Ryann Connell translates one that blames the decline in school student standards partially on foreign parents… Good ol’ “Education Insiders” stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for their comments, naturally.

Thanks to David Anderson for notifying me. Debito in Sapporo

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Teachers crying foul over unhygienic kids
Mainichi Shinbun WAIWAI Page June 26, 2007, from Sunday Mainichi Issue Dated July 8, 2007

http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/waiwai/news/20070626p2g00m0dm005000c.html

Japanese schools are getting filled with more kids that stink, according to Sunday Mainichi (7/8).
Growing disparity between the country’s haves and have-nots is believed to be behind the increase in unhygienic children.

But broken homes and the increasing number of foreigners in Japan are also being blamed.

“We have a lot of kids from homes where the parents aren’t financially blessed and few have a decent education. There are a few kids who live in really shoddy apartments,” a third grade teacher at a public elementary school in Tokyo tells Sunday Mainichi. “You can tell from the way they look and the way they talk that their lifestyle gives them something that makes them clearly different from the other kids.”
Often that leads these children to become the subject of teasing and bullying from their better off classmates.

Other teachers blame the widening gap between the rich and poor for the situation.

“There are definitely more smelly kids around,” a Tokyo junior high school teacher says. “Both parents are working during the day and some have to moonlight with bar work at night to make ends meet, so they’re never at home. Kids just go to sleep whenever they feel tired, and a lot of them nod off without having taken a bath. Some kids stop coming to school because their friends keep telling them that they smell, so you can’t treat the problem lightly. I tell the kids not to say things about the smell in the classroom, but frankly I find the reek to be disgusting, myself.”

Since Japan’s economy slipped into the doldrums in the early 1990s, companies have been shifting away from employing people as permanent staff and instead have been relying more on irregular hires. The upshot of this has been an increase in what’s being called the “working poor,” the people in paid employment who make barely enough money to stay above the poverty line. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported that last year 27.2 percent of Tokyo families are now living on less than 3 million yen a year, a 9.3 percentage point increase over the past five years.

It’s not just money worries, either. Parenting standards are also apparently in decline. In a central Tokyo school, teachers were worried when one little girl stopped turning up for class. Her mother, a single parent, was not forcing her to attend and willingly let her stay away whenever she felt like it.

“Her homeroom teacher went out to the girl’s home to check up on the situation. The little girl was sitting there with her hair done up in curls and dressed up like a princess. The homeroom teacher was shocked that the child was being treated virtually like a pet,” a teacher at the school says. “Turns out the mother got lonely at home by herself and wanted her daughter to be around with her.”

Growing numbers of foreigners are also having an influence on Japanese schools.

“There seems to be a lot of trouble surrounding couples where an older Japanese man has married a young Southeast Asian woman who’s come to Japan to make some money,” an education insider says.

One teacher approached a Japanese father and spoke of how his wife, who worked as a nightclub hostess and saved whatever she could while living in squalor in Japan so she could build a palatial home in her native country. The teacher, pointing out that Japan is living through an age of internationalization, encouraged the father to help his child learn Tagalog, the native tongue of his mother’s homeland, the Philippines. The teacher was shocked by the father’s response.

“There’s no need to do that,” the teacher tells Sunday Mainichi the 60-something Japanese father said. “If Japan had won that war, they’d all (Filipinos) be speaking Japanese by now.” (By Ryann Connell)
June 26, 2007
ENDS

UPDATE June 27: My week speaking in Tokyo and facing the madding crowds

UPDATE JUNE 27, 2007
TOKYO TRIP, SIX SPEECHES IN AS MANY DAYS

Hello Blog. I’ve left you fallow for a week now, my apologies. I’ve just come through what is probably my busiest speaking schedule yet. I gave what amounted to six speeches in as many days, all of them brand new, with Powerpoint presentations in two languages. Phew.

Backing up a bit on the timeline, I have had an incredible June, in the sense that there was no letup. From my mind-blowing trip to the USA and my Cornell 20th Reunion, where I discovered that bullying can become trans-generational (http://www.debito.org/homecoming2007.html), to coming home with jetlag only to be smacked by a car while riding my bicycle to work (http://www.debito.org/?p=453 –finding myself still able to cycle and walk but not climb stairs unassisted for awhile), I’ve had to deal not only with hospitals and insurance companies, but also deadlines that were constantly nipping at my heels. Finish one speech, start preparing another. Every day for about a week.

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Early on Tuesday morning June 19, I finally started the paper I would be delivering on Friday and Saturday at Waseda University and the 2007 Asian Studies Conference Japan. Topic? Immigration’s effects on Japan, and how lack of governmental oversight has created Frankenstein’s Monster in the labor market. By Tuesday evening, I had pounded out seventeen pages with footnotes and references, and by Wednesday night I was on my third draft and 19th concluding page. I was still writing it on the plane down to Tokyo the next day, and by Thursday evening the fourth and final draft was finished (see it at http://www.debito.org/ASCJPaper2007.doc). I forwent catching up on any Internet or blogging, getting started on my concomitant Powerpoint presentation right away before any sleep (speeches I do nowadays are never only just reading from a printed document anymore; I find using Powerpoint to create visuals from the computer, instead of the Mind’s Eye or the OHP, to be very effective. Sadly, this means my workload is doubled.) Staying with friends Leisa and Stephen Nagy, I found myself striking a decent (but slightly worried) balance between being social, and wondering if I hadn’t taken outdone myself by saying “yes” to everyone who asked me to speak on this trip.

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So Friday morning June 20, I went to Waseda early and used the graduate student facilities to pound out my Powerpoint in four hours (see it here at http://www.debito.org/japansmulticulturalfuture.ppt). I gave my speech to several grad students (even the American Embassy showed, thanks), and found that the presentation (with questions from the audience during) stretched what had to be a 20-minute talk into well over an hour (which earned tuts from timekeeper Stephen). A couple of grad students said I lacked data (naturally, the Powerpoint is a capsule summary; I suggested they download and read my whole paper), and one asked what percentage of Non-Japanese workers have working conditions as bad as I was citing from the newspapers.

I answered that it’s not a matter of degree–what percentage of exploitation and slavery by nationality would be the proper threshold for saying the system needs improvement? 1%? 5%? 20%? And anyway, we’ll never get reliable stats on this topic when many workers, legal or illegal, won’t come forward to bad-mouth their bosses or get deported. It’s like trying to guestimmate the amount of rape or DV in a society. To me it’s a red herring anyway, since horrible work conditions, even child labor and slavery, being inflicted upon even one laborer in Japan is too many. It’s illegal, too, but poorly enforced–both created then left to forge its own cruel realities by our government.

Anyway, yes, I didn’t have that data, and I could sense the glee in the grad students’ eyes. Gosh, they got me, the big bad speaker who for some reason needed to be shown he’s not all that smart or impregnable, without discussing the problems brought up. Such is one weak spot of academia. Not only does the “dispassionate view” that the academic must take suck the humanity out of issues of human rights, but also the trauma inflicted upon the researcher, suffering constant supervisor and peer vetting of theses in the name of “rigor”, creates a pecking order of nitpicking questions and data for data’s sake. After all, in an arena like this, it’s always seen as better to have data than not, right?, even when it’s irrelevant. “I don’t know” (rather than the consideration of “it doesn’t matter”) in a forum like this becomes an unforgivable weakness.

Then, ironies upon ironies, right afterwards I went to a series of lectures at Waseda on “Cool Japan”. There we had people discussing the intricacies of candles on the heads of certain manga characters, and musings on how Pokemon creates a self-actualizing world for children. Culture vulture stuff, nonrigorous hooey, but received with heavy-lidded adulation out of politeness. Lousy Powerpoint too. Left early.

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Saturday June 23 was the Asian Studies Conference Japan at Meiji Gakuin University, and quite frankly, I found few papers all that interesting (and even fewer papers available for reading–made me wonder why I tried so hard to get my paper done on time). Some stuff on disaffected youth made me think, but nothing made me blink. And I used some of the time in droning presentations to whittle down my upcoming Powerpoint presentation to its bare essentials. Our roundtable (which had been gratefully preserved by people despite having one of our panelists drop out) had the torture of doing five papers in a two-hour period; each person got 24 minutes including Q&A. Stephen clocked in at 21 minutes with his interesting presentation on the official openness of local governments in different Tokyo Wards towards NJ residents (Adachi-ku sounded pretty progressive, whereas Shinjuku-ku ironically didn’t care–in fact was disinclined to see foreign residents as much more than a potential source of crime). Then I stampeded through my 35 slides and clocked in at 23 minutes just. We had a full house, no questions about data or lack thereof. Probably no time, alas.

Evening was spent catching up with old friends Ken, Garrett, and Alby from Transpacific Radio (http://www.transpacificradio.com –I’ve asked them if they’ll let me read the news sometime), plus newfound friend Aly who surfaced from the Internet to tell me about his woes getting stopped by the police all the time in Saitama (it’s getting worse; the cops apparently target foreigners more than the increasing number of shops with “JAPANESE ONLY” signs…). Stayed out too late and had one beer too many.

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Sunday June 24 was even busier, if you can believe it. First thing in the morning (as in 9AM, running all the way to deserted downtown Tokyo), I met an Italian journalist (a lovely former fashionista named Stefania with a lovelier accent) who interviewed me for more than three hours for a 5000-word article on activism in Japan. Then taxied back to the ASCJ Conference, since I had been specially invited to attend a post-lunch talk by Nikkei Americans and Canadians about their feelings returning “home” to Japan.

Humph. With even less “rigor” (but good media), we had talks of what I call the genre of feel-good “baachan essays” (or conversely whiney ponderings about defeated expectations–i.e a “Japan don’t treat me right, despite” sort of thing). A love-in for those genetically-admitted, we received a talk about the narratives of older Japanese Americans and Canadians in the Kansai (which, since there were no narrative samples taken from younger women, or from any men at all “because they would disrupt the flow of information”, essentially became a survey of nattering older housewives shooting fish in a barrel). When I asked about if there were any plans to include the no doubt fascinating narratives of Nikkei Brazilians etc. (their factory schedules and language barriers notwithstanding), the answer was no, since, it was claimed, the study of Nikkei North Americans is far more underresearched. This surprising claim was based upon the fact that the Nikkei North Americans had fought or been betrayed by Japan in WWII, adversely influencing research of them. Aha. When the last speaker even asserted that Nikkei should being a White person to Japanese restaurants to get better service, I said, “It cuts both ways. There’s no science here.”

This confirmed a number of things I have been mulling over about these so-called Nikkei “returnees” (kibei) to Japan: How they seem to forget that their ancestors generally left Japan for perfectly good reasons, often because they didn’t fit in economically or socially. And they expect to come back and fit in now? I think it’s best to come here with no expectations or any trump cards due to genetics and make do as individuals, not Nikkei. But I’m sure they wouldn’t agree. To them it’s somehow some matter of birthright. Ah well. Enjoy the questionable social science from identity navel gazing and defeated expectations. It makes for exclusive ideological love-ins all over again, which happen to be just as exclusive as they feel they are facing in Japanese society.

Then in the late afternoon I carted my monolithic suitcase (full of books and T-shirts, http://www.debito.org/tshirts.html) through the subways (surprisingly unbarrier-free; I really feel sorry for people in wheelchairs), and found my way out to Tokai University, out in Odawara, an hour west of Tokyo. Hosts Charles and Yuki Kowalski had invited me out for two speeches care of their E-J translation ESP Classes in the International Studies Department. I had fortunately pounded out an 8-pager on “What is a Japanese?” shortly before I went to America weeks ago. I couldn’t even remember what I wrote, but as soon as we finished our home-cooked meal and some homeopathic remedy for my aching bike leg (it worked, actually–my leg hasn’t hurt since!), I went off to a deserted stay-over teacher’s dorm (I felt like I was walking the halls of the Overlook Hotel in THE SHINING, expecting to find twins behind every corner), was given two nights in a lovely old corner room with big windows overlooking trees, and got started on my Tokai speech Powerpoint (see it at http://www.debito.org/tokaispeech062507.doc)

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Rising early the next morning (5AM), Monday, June 25, I put the finishing touches on a few visuals, was escorted at 9:30AM into a full classroom of perhaps 150 students, and asked to read my speech in English (without the E-J translation department there to help). I looked at the list of keywords carefully prepared by several teachers (who had done a hell of a lot of groundwork for my speeches–with classroom exercises on Japan’s internationalization, their opinions on who qualifies as a Japanese, and Japan’s future), and saw a full small-print page with words that were second-nature to me by now, but challenging to even advanced non-native speakers. Oops. Wound up paraphrasing the hard stuff, throwing in translations for difficult concepts, and finishing my talk early to power the rest of the presentation with Q&A. Anything to keep people from falling asleep. They didn’t. The questions came easily and quickly, and people of all langauge levels seemed to enjoy the conversation about Japan’s future.

But that’s not all. Later on in the afternoon, we were seated in a 500-seat auditorium with our ten translators, all raring to go, dreading the Q&A, but doing just fine on the prepared statements. I had prepared even more Powerpoint visuals in the interim (see the full version at http://www.debito.org/tokai062507.ppt), and we had a grand old time–especially since the hall had actually filled to 600 souls!, containing the crowded tension and interest when jokes come up and the speaker gets a little bombastic with his points.

But the questions were hell for the interpreters. One asked, “What do you think is the definition of ‘country’?” (as in nation–kuni). Another asked if my demand for Japan’s Census to measure for ethnicity was not a form of privacy invasion, even discrimination. Still another asked if I objected to the word “haafu” for international children (going instead for “double”), then how do Nikkei fit in? Having interpreters was lucky for me–their time taken to interpret gave me time to consider my answer, but when my answer go too tough to translate, I wound up giving my full ideas in fast Japanese like SNL’s Subliminal Man–to quite a few laughs. In the end, we had a wonderful time, and an audience, according to the ESP coordinators, more numerous, engaged, and thoughtful about the topic at hand than any other guest speech they had ever hosted.

Much merriment followed that evening over beers with the interpreters (two of them were actually Chinese, with excellent Japanese skills and even higher tolerance for alcohol), so much so I realized I had stayed out too late again and drunk too much. And I hadn’t even started my Powerpoint presentation for my last speech to be given in less than 24 hours. The problem was this time it was entirely in Japanese…

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

Rising even earlier (4AM) on Tuesday, June 26, I set to work. Major publisher Shogakukan in Jinbochou, Tokyo, had invited me as part of their guest lecturer series for raising the awareness of their writers, inviting minorities and interest groups to give their perspectives on the mass media. They asked me to speak on a dream topic–“Language that Japanese don’t notice is discriminatory”–and believe you me I had a lot I’ve wanted to say.

So much so, however, that my Powerpoint slides kept growing and growing. By 9AM I had finished a first draft of 45 slides. On the train back to Tokyo I started getting more ideas, and by the time I camped out for two hours at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club Library, I had put together 51 slides (see them all here at http://www.debito.org/shougakukan062607.ppt), proofreading and checking text animations just once more with 30 minutes to go. Grabbed a sandwich and a cab, sailed into Shogakukan (in my daze I remembered that I had tried to sell them both my novel MS in 1994 (excerpts at http://www.debito.org/publications.html#FICTIONAL), and my children’s comic book two years ago (more on that later sometime)), and with T minus ten I was hooked up and let fly. It was not the first time I’ve finished my Powerpoint presentation less than an hour before I gave it, but it was the first time I’d ever done it without any help from a native speaker. And from what I was told afterwards, the Japanese was just fine.

I won’t get into what I said here, as this essay is long enough, (read the Powerpoint–maybe I’ll get around to translating it some day), but two hours later I was back on the street, having accomplished my goals completely. I headed back to the FCCJ, had a big dinner of comfort food (nachos and fish and chips, washed down with Grolsch), and attended a compelling Book Break by Roland Kelts (http://www.fccj.or.jp/~fccjyod2/node/2272), author of “JAPANAMERICA: How Japanese Pop Culture has invaded the US”, who very articulately spelled out how manga and anime are influencing both American society and international print media. And in passing he described how Pokemon really affects kids, without lapsing into jargon or faffing about with personal impressions. Well done. We exchanged books (or actually, he’ll send me a copy of his later), and someday I might even get around to reviewing it for Debito.org.

Then friend and Amnesty International Group 78 Coordinator Chris Pitts (http://www.aig78.org), gave me a room to crash in in West Tokyo, and we stayed up nursing beverages until the wee hours. I was up this morning at 5AM to beat the morning rush hour and catch my 9:50 flight back to Sapporo. Then I taught a class, writing this up before and after.   I’m going to leave the keyboard now and sleep, thank you very much…

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

Again, I don’t think I’ve been this busy since grad school. Well, okay, once or twice since then. I can see that my daily grind of one paper per day back then was indeed good training. I’ll be down again in Tokyo in late July for yet another speech–if more don’t pop up like dandelions like what happened this trip. Keep you posted.

Returning to my regular blog schedule, I hope. Sorry for the hiatus. Arudou Debito back in Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
UPDATE JULY 27, 2007 ENDS

Peru’s Fujimori Update: Running in J elections! (UPDATED)

Uh… Blog, I checked the date on this to make sure the article isn’t dated early April. It’s probably the most ludicrous thing I’ll see all year. (JUNE 28 UPDATE BELOW)

Alberto Fujimori, former president of Peru and wanted by Peru to stand trial for suspected crimes during his corrupt administration (which he resigned from by faxing his resignation from a Tokyo hotel room, then spent five years in Japan as a sudden citizen (in a country which rarely even grants refugee status, let alone citizenship easily) evading extradition, then ran back to Chile to try and stand election again in Peru (writing his citizenship down as “Peruvian” when he deplaned, even though Japan doesn’t allow dual nationality) where he’s currently under house arrest, using the Chilean court system to mark time in South America), has now…

are you ready for this?…

been asked by Kamei Shizuka (one of the more fatheaded former LDP gorillas, now clearly even more so) to stand for election in Japan!!

I had to rub my eyes quite a few times this morning, but the Mainichi reports as such below.

It’s times like these I wish oak staves were part of the political process, so we could pound one through the heart of these political vampires and keep him properly undead.

See what I have against Fujimori (not the least a bypasser of the quite difficult procedure of naturalization, which I went through; it took years) starting from this link:

http://www.debito.org/?p=120

The Mainichi article follows. Thanks to David Anderson for notification. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Ex-Peruvian President Fujimori asked to run in Japan elections
Mainichi Daily News, June 19, 2007

http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20070619p2a00m0na025000c.html

A Japanese opposition party has asked former Peruvian President Albert Fujimori, who also has Japanese citizenship, to run in coming parliamentary elections, media reports said Tuesday.

Fujimori is currently in Chile, where he is under house arrest.

Peru wants to try the 68-year-old Fujimori on charges including bribery, misuse of government funds and sanctioning death squad killings during his decade-long rule that ended in 2000.

The People’s New Party, a minor Japanese party with 10 lawmakers, asked Fujimori earlier this year to run in elections for the upper house of parliament, to be held in July, Kyodo News agency reported.

An aide to Shizuka Kamei, one of the party’s senior lawmakers, went to Chile on Monday to meet Fujimori but the former president has not made his position clear, the agency said. Nippon Television Network carried a similar report.

Officials at the party as well as the Peruvian Embassy in Tokyo could not immediately confirm the report.
Fujimori spent five years in exile in Japan after fleeing Peru as his government collapsed under a corruption scandal. The Japanese government determined in 2000 that the ousted leader holds Japanese citizenship after Tokyo confirmed Fujimori’s birth was registered with a local Japanese consulate in Peru and he had never renounced his Japanese citizenship.

Despite the allegations, he is well received among the Japanese for his handling of a 1996 hostage crisis in Peru. As president, he ordered the daring raid that freed 24 Japanese captives from the hands of guerrillas who had taken over the Japanese ambassador’s residence.

In November 2005, Fujimori flew to Chile as part of an apparent bid to launch a political comeback in neighboring Peru. Chile has held Fujimori under house arrest for six months.

Fujimori was freed last year on the condition he not leave Chile, but earlier this month he was put back under house arrest after a Chilean prosecutor recommended his extradition to face charges of human rights abuses and corruption in his home country. (AP)

ENDS

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

UPDATE JUNE 28, 2007

CNN REPORTS:

Fujimori to run in Japan elections
CNN.COM, POSTED: 0232 GMT (1032 HKT), June 27, 2007

http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/americas/06/27/fujimori.japan.ap/index.html
Thanks to Chad for notifying me.

TOKYO, Japan (AP) — Disgraced Peruvian ex-President Alberto Fujimori has decided to run for Japan’s upper house of parliament in July despite being under house arrest in Chile, the head of a Japanese party said Thursday.

Shizuka Kamei, head of the People’s New Party, said Fujimori told him in a phone conversation that he had accepted a request from the party to run in the elections.

“I will run as a proportional representational candidate for the People’s New Party to work for Asian diplomacy, the North Korea problem and the safety of the Japanese public,” Kamei quoted Fujimori as saying.

Kamei said he wanted Fujimori — who holds Japanese citizenship — to make use of his “knowledge, rich experience and reputation for our country’s politics.”

“I strongly hope Mr. Fujimori, as the last samurai, to add vigor to today’s Japanese society, which lacks courage, confidence and benevolence,” he said.

It was not immediately clear what constituency he would run for or whether he would be eligible as a candidate.

Fujimori, 68, is under house arrest in Chile after flying there in November 2005 as part of an apparent bid to launch a political comeback in Peru. Peru wants him to stand trial on charges including bribery, misuse of government funds and sanctioning death squad killings during his decadelong rule that ended in 2000.

The PNP plans to ask the Foreign Ministry and the Japanese government to help ensure Fujimori can engage in electoral activities, Kamei said. Kamei added that he did not see any problem with Fujimori running in the race.

No regulations under Japan’s Public Offices Election Law prohibit a candidate under house arrest overseas from running in an election in Japan, Internal Affairs Ministry official Tetsuya Kikuchi said.

The PNP, a minor Japanese party with 10 lawmakers, asked Fujimori earlier this year to run in the parliamentary elections, to be held July 29. He had been expected to give his answer later in the week.

Peruvian Congressman Juan Carlos Eguren of the opposition National Unity party accused Fujimori of trying to escape Chilean and Peruvian justice.

“The judicial process must continue and we think that the extradition process will end with a ruling forcing Fujimori to return to Peru,” he said.

Fujimori spent five years in exile in Japan after fleeing Peru as his government collapsed under a corruption scandal. The Japanese government determined in 2000 that he holds Japanese citizenship after Tokyo confirmed Fujimori’s birth was registered with a Japanese consulate in Peru and he had never renounced his Japanese citizenship.

Despite the allegations, he is well-received in Japan for his handling of a 1996 hostage crisis in Peru. As president, he ordered the daring raid that freed 24 Japanese captives held by guerrillas who had taken over the Japanese ambassador’s residence.

Fujimori was freed last year on the condition he not leave Chile, but earlier this month he was put back under house arrest after a Chilean prosecutor recommended his extradition to face charges of human rights abuses and corruption in his home country. (Full story at http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/americas/06/08/chile.fujimori/index.html)

The nonbinding recommendation must still be ruled on by the judge, a process that could take several months.
ENDS

Upcoming Tokyo Speeches: Waseda, Meigaku, Tokai, Shogakukan

Hello Blog. Quick note to tell you more about some speeches I’ve got coming up over the next seven days. Hard to believe, but four. Details as far as I know as follows:

FRIDAY JUNE 22
Speech on Japan’s Immigration and Internationalization 2 to 4PM
Waseda University, Tokyo, International Community Center
Speech given in English, Q&A in English and Japanese
(More details at very bottom of this blog entry)

SATURDAY JUNE 23
Paper Brief on Japan’s Immigration and Internationalization 3:30 to 5:30 PM
(One of five presenters, in English)
Part of the weekend-long Eleventh Asian Studies Conference, Japan
Meiji Gakuin University, Shirogane Campus
More on the conference at http://www.meijigakuin.ac.jp/~ascj/
Summary of the paper at the very bottom of this blog entry
Link to Draft Two of the paper (will be updated as revisions are completed) at http://www.debito.org/ASCJPaper2007.doc

MONDAY JUNE 25
“What is a Japanese?”, Simultaneous interpretation speech
Tokai University’s ESP Classes, International Studies Department.
International Students Lecture 9:20 to 10:50 AM
Interpretation Speech 3:10 to 4:40 PM
Hosted by Charles Kowalski of Tokai University

TUESDAY JUNE 26
「日本人が気がつかない『外国人差別』の実態と表現問題」
2007年6月26日(火)午後2時〜4時
小学館 法務・考査室主宰
Speech in Japanese to Shogakukan Inc. on “Unwittingly Discriminatory Language in Japan’s Mass Media”.

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

Just to let you know I’m not going to be able to keep up the pace of one blog update per day. I have to get cracking writing all these speeches and papers, so I’m going to be offline until I’m in the clear.

More details on these venues if and when they become available, so check back here later. Meanwhile, you should be able to find out the whereabouts based upon the data above should you want to attend.

Thanks for reading, and in this case, for listening. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

========================
UPDATE
Topic: Immigration and Internationalization in Japan
Speaker: Debito Arudo, Associate Professor, Hokkaido Information University

I would like to take this opportunity to invite all of you to this meeting of the Waseda University Doctoral Student Network which hopes to promote more dialogue among students, chances to share their ideas with Professors and colleagues and create a stronger network of scholars at Waseda University.

Please see below for details on presentation and the aims of the Waseda University Doctoral Student Network.

Finally, I would like to invite professors to recommend students to present as well as students to contact me if they are interested in presenting in this forum in the coming months.

Sincerely,
Stephen Robert Nagy
PhD Candidate
Graduate School of Asia Pacific Studies.
Waseda University

Location: Graduate School of Asia Pacific Studies, Waseda University
早稲田大学大学院アジア太平洋研究科
Building 19, Room 310, 2PM to 4PM June 22
For map see: http://www.wiaps.waseda.ac.jp/

Speaker Information:
Debito Arudou
Associate Professor
Hokkaido Information University
Home page: http://www.debito.org

ARUDOU Debito (BA Cornell, 1987; MPIA UC San Diego, 1991) is a naturalized Japanese citizen and Associate Professor at Hokkaido Information University. A human rights activist, he has authored two books, Japaniizu Onrii–Otaru Onsen Nyuuyoku Kyohi Mondai to Jinshu Sabetsu and its English version (Akashi Shoten 2003 and 2004, updated 2006), and is currently at work on a bilingual guidebook for immigrants to Japan. He also puts out a regular newsletter and columns for The Japan Times. His extensive bilingual website on human rights issues and living in Japan is available at http://www.debito.org

Presentation Title: Immigration and Internationalization in Japan

SUMMARY: Despite an express policy against importing unskilled foreign labor, Japan since 1990 has been following an unacknowledged backdoor “Guest Worker” program to alleviate its labor shortages. Through its “Student”, “Entertainer” “Nikkei Visitors” and “Trainee” Visa programs, it has brought in hundreds of thousands of cost-effective Non-Japanese laborers to stem the “hollowing out” (i.e. outsourcing, relocation, or bankruptcy) of Japan’s domestic industry. This has since doubled the number of registered Non-Japanese in Japan, but has not resulted in Japan’s acceptance of these laborers as “residents” or regular “full-time workers”, entitled to the same social benefits as Japanese under labor law (such as a minimum wage, health and unemployment insurance, and mandatory education of their children). Moreover, insufficient governmental regulation of these programs has fomented labor abuses (exploitative or slave labor conditions, child labor, human rights violations, even murder), to the degree where the Japanese government is now reviewing the process, with a discussion on “fixing” the system by 2009. The current debate between ministries is not on finding a way to help Non-Japanese workers live and assimilate better in Japan, but rather of making it clear they are really only temporary–making the visas more clearly term-limited revolving-door employment. Meanwhile, not only are labor abuses continuing, there is an emerging underclass of uneducated Non-Japanese children with neither sufficient language abilities nor employable skill sets. Immigration, however, continues apace, as the number of Regular Permanent Residents grows by double-digit percentages every year; by the end of 2007, this paper forecasts that it will surpass the number of generational Zainichi Permanent Residents for the first time ever. Surveying the most recent data available as of this writing (June 23, 2007), this paper concludes with a caution that the longer Japan delays its inevitable internationalization, the more likely that it will change, as Sakenaka Hidenori (Director, Japan Immigration Policy Institute) writes, from a “Big Japan” into a “Small Japan”, no longer Asia’s leader and regional representative.
========================

Link to Draft Two of the paper (will be updated as revisions are completed) at http://www.debito.org/ASCJPaper2007.doc
ENDS

MOJ Website on fingerprinting/photos at Immigration from Nov 2007 (UPDATED)

Hi Blog. Lovely bit of Japanicana at the GOJ online TV network. Except that as well as being kinda weird and laughably amusing, it’s deadly serious about targeting foreigners as potential terrorists.

Friend just sent me a link to a new site talking about the new Immigration procedures coming into effect in November 2007, which will involve taking fingerprints and photographing of all “foreign visitors” crossing the border into Japan.

http://nettv.gov-online.go.jp/prg/prg1203.html

This will, however, not be restricted to “foreign visitors”. It will be applied to everyone BUT (quoting the website):

==========================
1. Persons under the age of 16
2. Special status permanent residents
[presumably the Zainichi generational “foreigners”, which means regular-status permanent-resident immigrants are NOT exempt]
3. Those performing actions which would be performed [sic] by those with a status of residence, “diplomat” or “official government business”

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

Which means even people who are long-term residents will get fingerprinting reinstated, despite having it abolished after decades of protest in 1999 (See article with more details at http://www.debito.org/fingerprinting.html)

And this time, if you don’t comply, you can’t take it to court (like Kathy Morikawa and others did). You’re just refused entry at the border.

GOJ’s justification? Prevention of terrorism, and the “safety of foreign visitors”.

The video in English is a hoot too, wheeling out a few token foreigners of color hamming it up, and agreeing to have their privacy violated on suspicion of terrorism.

But the irony here is that all the terrorist activities that have happened so far in Japan (from Aum on down) have been Japanese.

The association of foreigners with terrorism (moreover apparently helping to save them from themselves) is pretty presumptuous.

Why are they doing this? Because they can. If the GOJ were really serious about combatting terrorism, they would fingerprint everybody. But they can’t. They tried this before years ago with widespread protest. Look what happened to the failed Juki-Net system with universal ID cards (it was even ruled unconstitutional in December 2006, see http://www.debito.org/?p=97

The GOJ info site on fingerprinting is at
http://nettv.gov-online.go.jp/prg/prg1203.html

Distressed about this? More on what you can do about it here:
http://www.debito.org/?p=627

REFERENTIAL LINKS:
Trace the arc of this policy proposal as it became law at:

THE ZEIT GIST
Here comes the fear
Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents
By DEBITO ARUDOU
Column 21 for the Japan Times Community page, MAY 24, 2005
http://www.debito.org/japantimes052405.html

THE NEW “I C YOU” CARDS
LDP proposal to computer chip foreigners has great potential for abuse
By Arudou Debito
Column 26 for the Japan Times Community Page November 22, 2005
http://www.debito.org/japantimes112205.html

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

============================
–UPDATE JULY 2, 2007
MARK MINO-THOMPSON OF THE COMMUNITY ADDS:

I decided to call around to a few places in Japan, specifically to
get the official word on what new immigration procedures will be
happening at airports starting in November. I called the Ministry
of Justice Immigration Division (General Affairs), Narita
Immigration and Japan’s Foreigner(?) Human Rights Bureau.

First off, not that I expected much from Houmushou, but I was able
to get the person answering the phone to confirm that all
foreigners, except Zainichi and government staff on offical business
will be photographed and printed each time they enter and exit
Japan. When I suggested that this procedure could be seen as
invasive to long-term visa holders and permanent residents (who have
already gone through an extensive vetting process by immigration) he
simply restated that all foreign guests would have to submit their
biometric data. Of course, I do understand that front-line
government staff have no power to comment on laws nor to change
them. I thanked him for his info and asked that please pass on my
concerns to his superiors.

Narita Immigration also confirmed the same information, although
they were slightly more sympathetic in tone of voice. I asked them
what the procedure would be for international families entering
Japan. Would they be forced to separate into foreigner and Japanese
lines at immigration or would they be able to enter together as is
currently. The woman explained to me that situations like this are
being debated within the department, but as far as the plan goes for
now, she believes that all foreigners will have to use the “foreign
national” line. She did add that front-line staff at Narita are
hoping to have one or more booths on the “Japanese National” side be
able to handle reentry permit holders. I also asked her a
hypothetical question about what were to happen if a permanent
resident visa holder with a valid re-entry permit were to refuse to
get printed and photographed. “They would be denied entry into
Japan.” she said.

Finally, after being given the number from the woman at Nartia
Immigration, I called a number of an organization dealing with human
rights for foreigners in japan. I spoke to a nice woman who was
well aware of the upcoming regulations. I asked her whether the
organization felt this legislation was a violation of human rights,
and if so, would they be writing some sort of report to the
government. She said that they really can’t make a statement about
something being a human rights violation until AFTER it has been put
into place. In other words, they’re adopting a wait-and-see
approach. She further added that if there comes a time in which
they feel these new procedures ARE infringing in foreigners human
rights, they will consider writing a report to that fact to the
Ministry of Justice. (although, by then millions of foreigners will
have their biometric data collected and stored on some huge, on-line
database that other government agencies will have access to).

Well, that’s where it stands at the moment. Any chance that we can
get the media to talk about this again before November? It seemed
from articles months ago and several Ministries were surprised and
concerned that this new policy was blanketing the entire non-
Zainichi foreign population. Perhaps there’s still hope for getting
this revised?

Mark Mino-Thompson

ENDS

Traffic Accident: Good experience with police (UPDATED)

Hi Blog. I use this space enough to heap scorn on the Japanese police (deservedly, mind you). But I thought I’d balance things out a bit with praise where it’s due:

TRAFFIC ACCIDENT IN SAPPORO
TREATED WITH DIGNITY AND EFFICIENCY BY THE POLICE
JUNE 13 TO 15, 2007

I have had a pretty rotten June so far (see what I mean when I spent the past two weeks in Upstate New York battling my demons of the past, and trying to see my abducted daughter), and it was only made worse by the events of June 13.

At 1PM, I was doing my bicycle commute to school from downtown Sapporo (60 kms round trip), cycling on a sidewalk designated for cyclists, when a middle-aged gentleman working for a construction company left the parking lot of Homac department store in Atsubetsu, Sapporo, without looking both ways.

He ploughed into the front tyre of my bicycle (the one I have used for all of my cycletreks these past few years), dragging me and my bicycle for about a meter. My body weight was thrown upon the hood of his car, but my right leg took a sizeable impact below the knee.

He came out of his car immediately to check on me and to apologize. Sliding off his car and standing on my good left leg, I said, okay, let’s get the police involved. I dialed 110 on my keitai, got the Atsubetsu Police, and explained to them the situation. Location, details of the impact, make and license plate of the car, and names.

Some hints, in case you find yourself in this situation:

1) IF YOU ARE THE VICTIM, TAKE CHARGE. NEGOTIATE WITH THE POLICE RIGHT AWAY ON THE PHONE, WHERE THERE IS LESS NONVERBAL BAGGAGE TO DEAL WITH.

2) DO NOT MOVE THE VEHICLES. STAY WHERE YOU ARE AND LET THE POLICE TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS. CHANGING THE POSITIONS DESTROYS EVIDENCE.

3) STAY AS CALM AS POSSIBLE. DON’T SAY YOU’RE SORRY UNLESS YOU ARE WILLING TO TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ACCIDENT. LET THE POLICE GATHER THE INFORMATION.

We waited about ten minutes before the traffic police came by, and they talked to me first and got my side of the story. Not once did they ask my nationality (the driver, making conversation, did, not that it bothered me), and once I showed them my driver license and meishi from my university, they were pleasant, even deferential. They treated me like a victim.

Even more luckily, the driver of the car was a decent sort, and claimed full responsibility and fault. The driver and I were cordial, cross-checking our stories, while the police took our stories separately. Our memories jibed, so the investigation was completed in about ten minutes. The police took their pictures, chalked the positions of the vehicles and had them moved, and confirmed their interpretations of the events (based upon the evidence at hand) with our recollections (police in Japan try to find fault with both parties, so they asked if I was cycling fast or recklessly, which I wasn’t; the driver concurred, and reiterated that he was completely to blame).

The police advised me to go to a hospital immediately for some X-rays (I had class, had to wait until today), then said we could go.

I locked my ruined bike (the front tyre was completely collapsed and bowed inward, the front fork bent, and even the back tyre was askew–I have the feeling the driver confused his accelerator with his brake) to a nearby fence, limped to the driver’s car, and got a lift to school. He even said if my bike was irreparable (which it probably is), I should not hesitate to get a new one.

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

The driver’s insurance company was on the phone to me within hours, getting my particulars and side of the story. (The agent did ask about my nationality, and I said Japanese. When he asked my previous nationality, I told him it was irrelevant. He dropped the subject.) He was trying to get an estimate of my bike’s worth, which I said I could not assess. I told him that I wanted my bike the same as it was before, at no cost to me. I would retreive the bike later that evening and deliver it to my favorite bike shop in Makomanai for a repairs estimate, I said. He said keep track of my auto mileage for compensation for my fuel costs. I gave him the bike shop’s number and let them negotiate things out.

I went to the hospital today (one I chose; the insurance agent called ahead and made an appointment for me; they would cover all my bills) for several X-rays of my right leg. They turned up negative for any severe damage (some possible bleeding in the bone, but no edema). Should be healed in a couple of weeks, but it’s difficult for me to walk normally and climb stairs at the moment. The hospital would be sending the insurance agency news on the doctor’s findings.

I then took the doctor’s diagnosis to the Atsubetsu Police Station, who treated me again with deference and some respect for having Japanese citizenship. They confirmed the written-up report with me, asked me if I wished to press charges against the driver (I didn’t), and read it all back. I had not brought my inkan, but they allowed me to sign the form when I indicated I was unwilling to fingerprint it. At all times they were on the ball (I saw the drawing of the accident scene–it was clear and accurate) and after thirty minutes I was out the door.

The bike shop called later with a repairs estimate, which will be looked over when the insurance agency visits them for photos and assessments.

So far, so good. I anticipate some haggling over the repairs estimates by the insurance company, but that’s nothing to do with the cops. So just let me say in this interim report that I found the police to be fair, thorough, and in no way biased against me for my non-Japanese roots. Good.

Conclusion: Crucial is learning how to take charge linguistically, so those who find themselves in a similar situation had better understand the value of understanding Japanese, and having all their ducks in a row to establish credibility. Those who believe that NJ should not learn Japanese because they can get along just fine in English etc. (or mysteriously believe that they can get away with more due to some kind of “guest status”), wise up.

Thank heavens I had a responsible driver, as well. This went as smoothly as I think it possibly could have. More later if there’s anything to report.

Arudou Debito, limping along in Sapporo

==================
UPDATE JULY 10, 2007

Now that the smoke has cleared and the case is closed, final words on the outcome:

1) I got my bike fixed. It’s good as new and I’m cycling as before.

2) The injuries I suffered are no longer part of my life. Looks as though I just had a really bad Charley Horse on my lower leg for about two weeks. Shortly after that (and after some holistic treatment from a friend), my leg seems back to normal. No pain whatsoever.

3) The driver’s insurance company did what you’d expect from an insurance company (a la Michael Moore’s SICKO)–haggle. The agent tried to force me to pay ten percent of my bike’s repairs. I said that the police (and the driver) had acknowledged 100% fault on the driver, so I was not going to pay anything. When the agent tried to say that it’s customary for the victim to pay ten percent, I said: “Look, I’m not asking for any compensation or damages. Just to have all my repairs and medical bills paid–my costs out of pocket set to zero. I could ask for compensation (baishoukin, or isharyou) money on top, but the driver’s been such a nice chap that I didn’t have the heart. My mind could change, however, with the tone of this negotiation, and cost your company even more money. So let’s not haggle here over 8000 yen.”

An hour later, the insurance company called me back and said that the driver agreed to pay the last ten percent out of his pocket. Case closed.

And that’s that. In the end, it was probably the nicest experience I had this rotten June, and that’s saying something, I guess. Debito

Jun 27 Sophia U Film Showing: “Refusing to Stand for the Kimigayo”

Hi Blog. Little something which might interest you. Debito back in Sapporo

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

From: David Slater
Subject: Film Showing at Sophia U: “Refusing to Stand for the Kimigayo” (June
27th)
Forwarded by Robert Aspinall

Institute for the Study of Social Justice at Sophia University
Invites you to a film screening:

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
AGAINST COERCION:Refusing to Stand for “Kimigayo”
(87 minutes/in Japanese with English subtitles)
Directors: Matsubara Akira and Sasaki Yumi (Video Press)
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
17:00-19:30
Room L921, 9th Floor, Central Library
Yotsuya Campus, Sophia University
Free Admission
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Since the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education issued
a decree to strictly enforce the hoisting of Hinomaru
and the singing of Kimigayo at school ceremonies in
2003, over 340 public school teachers in Tokyo have so
far faced disciplinary actions for “negligence of
duties.” Although the Tokyo Local Court ruled such
coercion unconstitutional in September 2006, the Tokyo
Metropolitan Board of Education took disciplinary
measures against a further 35 teachers in March 2007
and appealed to Tokyo High Court. The punitive
measures of the Tokyo Board of Education are
cumulative, and as a consequence, it looks quite
possible at this point that some teachers will face
dismissal in March 2008 –if they continue to refuse
to stand for Kimigayo.

Such developments are not limited to Tokyo public
schools, and are indeed of particular relevance to
those who are in teaching professions at school as
well as university levels. The new Law on National
Referenda that the Abe government enacted last month
contains a stipulation that prohibits teachers (and
public servants) to “utilize their positions” during
future campaigns on constitutional revisions –in
other words, a school teacher or university professor
who expresses a view that does not conform with the
government proposal may very well face similar
disciplinary measures for “negligence of duties.”

This documentary film follows the school teachers, and
their students, as the teachers refuse to stand for
Kimigayo and face pay-cut, suspension, and re-training
programs. The doors open at 17:00, and the movie
screening is followed by a Q&A session with Ms.
Kawarai Junko, who is currently suspended from her
position at a school for the disabled in Tokyo.

This event represents the first part of a program
entitled “Is Freedom in Danger?” organized by the
Institute for the Study of Social Justice, Sophia
University. It will be followed by a symposium on
October 11, where Prof. Takami Katsutoshi (Sophia Law
School) will speak on the subject of constitution and
freedom, Father Tani Daiji (Bishop of Saitama,
Catholic Church) on freedom of religion, and Koichi
Nakano (Sophia University) on the contemporary
politics of illiberalism (all in Japanese).

ENDS

上智大学映画上映『君が代不起立』6月27日(水)

上智大学社会正義研究所では、連続企画『自由は危ないのか』第1回として、下記の予定でドキュメンタリー映画上映会を開催いたします。

2007年6月27日(水曜日)
上智大学 中央図書館9階L921号室
17:00〜19:30
参加無料・事前登録不要
ドキュメンタリー映画
『君が代不起立』
(With English Subtitles)

上映時間87分&河原井純子さん(東京都教員・停職処分中)たちとの質疑応答
2003年に東京都教育委員会が卒業式や入学式での日の丸掲揚・君が代斉唱の「厳格実
施」を通達して以来、のべ340人を超える教員が職務命令違反を理由に懲戒処分を受
けている。2006年9月には東京地裁が「強制は違憲」とする判決を下したにもかかわ
らず、東京都教委は2007年3月に新たに35人に処分を行った。都教委の処分は累積性
を持つことから、現況では2008年3月についに免職処分(解雇)となる教師が現れる
ことが危惧される事態となっている。

2006年12月にビデオプレス社が公開した『君が代不起立』は懲戒処分に直面している
不起立の教職員たちの考え、教育への想いと行動、そして彼らの教え子たちの姿を
追ったドキュメンタリー映画であり、これまで各地市民団体、ICU、外国人記者クラ
ブなどにおいて上映会を積み重ねている。

折しも、憲法改定を掲げる与党による国民投票法が制定され、この法律が教員・公務
員の「地位利用」を禁止した規定を含むことによって、同様に政権与党の意に沿わな
い見解を表明した教員は懲戒処分の対象となる可能性も出てきている。私立大学で教
育に携わる私たちにとっても他人事ではありえないこの問題を通じて、思想良心の自
由について、本学教職員・学生らと議論し考えることが本企画の趣旨である。
————————————
<予告>
連続企画第2回『自由は危ないのか』シンポジウム
2007年10月11日(木曜日)
中央図書館9階L921号室
17:00〜19:30
参加無料・事前登録不要・使用言語日本語
「憲法と自由」 高見勝利・上智大学法科大学院教授
「信教の自由と政教分離」 谷大二・さいたま教区司教
「反自由の政治」 中野晃一・上智大学国際教養学部准教授
思想良心の自由、表現の自由に限らず、信教の自由なども含めて今日自由をめぐる問
題は実に多岐にわたっている。戦後憲法の中で曲がりなりにも保障されてきた個人の
自由がかつてないほどに脅威にさらされていると危惧する声が上がる一方で、逆に
「戦後民主主義」の行き過ぎた自由が国家の存続基盤そのものを危うくしているとい
う論調も強くなってきている。
ドキュメンタリー映画『君が代不起立』上映会での問題提起を受けて、自由の現在と
将来についての学術的論考と討論を更に進めることが本企画の趣旨である。


David H. Slater, Ph.D.
Faculty of Liberal Arts
Sophia University, Tokyo

2ちゃんねるの西村氏に対する強制執行の件(芝池弁士著)

ブロク読者の皆様、こんにちは。10日間渡米して、ケネディ空港から便りを送っていますが、大分前私の弁護士から2ちゃんねるBBSの勝訴についてのアップデートです。勝訴後1年半以上となり、日本の司法府は自分の民事訴訟の判決を執行できないことは非常に明白になりましたね。有道 出人

Hi Blog. This is a letter from my lawyer Mr Shibaike, with the latest motions filed against 2-Channel BBS for unrequited damages awarded for libel. More on that case archived here. Writing from JFK Airport in NYC, no real time to translate. Point is, more than a year and a half after winning a judgment for libel against Administrator Nishimura Hiroyuki, the inability of the Japanese judiciary to enforce its own civil law judgments remains glaringly clear. And it’s not just me, remember–primer here. Arudou Debito in transit.

=========================
芝池です。
May 2, 2007 10:57:28 AM JST

2ちゃんねるの西村氏に対する強制執行の件につきまして、
札幌地方裁判所岩見沢支部において間接強制の決定がでましたので、
ご連絡いたします。
(決定書の写しを添付します。別紙は省略)
kansetsukyousei.pdf

間接強制とは、債務者が、相当と認める一定の期間内に債務を履行しないときは、
裁判所が、債務者に対し、直ちに債務の履行を確保するために相当と認める
一定の額の金銭を債権者に支払うよう命ずるというものです。

本件では、掲示板上の名誉棄損文言の削除及びIPアドレス等の発信者情報の
開示をしない場合、債務者(西村氏)は、1日につきそれぞれ2万5000円を
有道さんに支払うよう命じました。

この金員はいわゆる違約金の性質を持つもので、有道さんは、西村氏から
金銭執行の方法で取り立てることもできます。

なお、間接強制の申立てから決定までに時間がかかったのは、西村氏が裁判所
からの文書を受け取らなかったためで(この間接強制の手続きでは、裁判所が、
あらかじめ債務者を審尋することが必要とされています。)、最終的には、
公示送達という方法により、西村氏の審尋を経ずに決定が下されました。

ご不明な点がございましたら私か加藤までご連絡下さい。
よろしくお願いいたします。

**************************
北海道合同法律事務所
弁 護 士 芝 池 俊 輝
TEL :011-231-1888
FAX :011-231-1785
URL: http://www.hg-law.jp/
**************************
ENDS

Ibaraki NPA on How to deal with NJ: Riot Police

Hello Blog. Last day in the US before the long trip back to Japan, but here’s a little something I just got from a friend this morning:

=============================
STOP THEM AT THE SHORES, PROTECT [OUR COUNTRY].

PLEASE COOPERATE IN STOPPING ILLEGAL ALIENS AND THEIR ILLEGAL ENTRY.

CONTACT IBARAKI PREFECTURAL POLICE HQ
029-301-0110

Sponsored by the Ibaraki Prefectural Police Coast Guard Cooperative Union (Ibaraki ken keisatsu kaigan keikai kyouryoku rengokai)
=============================
(Click on the image itself there to make it full screen.)

IbarakiNPAposter07.jpg
Nothing like six riot police (seven, actually–look closely) in full regalia to protect us from the alien horde. Er, can horde be singular? Anyway, yet another example of overreaction and targeting by the government towards NJ.

Sure, raise awareness about overstayers and illegal entrants. But don’t make it seem as though there’s an invasion afoot, and that you need measures this extreme.

More examples of GOJ-sponsored foreign scaremongering at

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

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

Debito at Cornell University

Tangent: IHT on International Divorce

Hi Blog. Not specifically Japan-related, but close to my heart: Historical article from the International Herald Tribune/Asahi (Nov 23-24, 2002) entitled “Hazards of Divorce: Unfamiliar laws can make expats especially vulnerable.”

Since I went through a particularly painful one myself, this info may be of help to others. Referential links specifically regarding divorce in Japan at
http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#divorce
and
http://www.crnjapan.com/prevention/en/protectselfbeforemarriage.html

FYI. Arudou Debito at Cornell University

(Click on image to see it full-screen)

IHT122302001.jpg
IHT122302002.jpg
ENDS

JT on GOJ proposals for foreign workers

Hi Blog. Pursuant to the most recent Debito.org Newsletter on GOJ proposals for NJ workers, here’s an article giving more on how the ministries plan to “fix” things.

Already being criticized for limiting the time duration, potential contribution to Japanese society, and vagueness in scope, one wonders how far this will be applied–to other types of “workers” (such as non-blue-collar NJ employees as well)? The MOJ Minister makes it clearest that gaijin are merely guests on revolving-door labor terms, which of course I cannot support. As friend Olaf says, time to switch to Permanent Residency as soon as possible.

Still not an issue for the upcoming elections, alas. Arudou Debito at Cornell University

=================================
Competing foreign-worker plans face off
Justice chief’s proposal to open doors, briefly, for all sectors causes stir
The Japan Times Thursday, June 7, 2007

By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070607f1.html
Courtesy of James Annan at The Community

OSAKA — If the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) have their way, it’s possible you’ll see this help-wanted ad in your English-language newspaper:

“Seeking highly trained foreign engineers and technicians to work in Japan. Successful candidates must agree to first study Japanese in their home country through a Japanese-government funded program and then pass a Japanese-government approved language proficiency examination to receive a work visa. Visa may lead to permanent residency, depending on job performance, language ability and personality, which will be evaluated by the Japanese government and their employer.”

On the other hand, if a recent proposal put forward by Justice Minister Jinen Nagase were to become law, it’s possible the ad would be written as follows:

“Seeking foreigners to work in Japan on a temporary basis (maximum three years) for all jobs and industries. All are welcome to apply, and no prior experience or ability in Japanese necessary. Successful applicants will be guaranteed a fair wage. However, visa will be good for only three years and will not be renewed under any circumstances.”

With Japan’s population expected to fall from the current 127 million to 100 million by 2050, and with slightly more than one-third of the population expected to be over 65 by then, government officials and private industries are intensifying their efforts to propose policies to make up for the predicated labor shortage by bringing in foreign workers.

Three separate proposals were announced last month. Two were METI and health ministry plans for restructuring the foreign trainee system, which has drawn harsh criticism from rights groups, lawyers and others because of the many cases in which trainees are abused, underpaid, not paid at all or exploited merely as cheap labor by small companies.

Under the current system, trainees are allowed into Japan for three years. They study the Japanese language and society in a classroom during the first year and spend the last two years in on-the-job training.

The health ministry proposes bringing in foreigners for a total of three years, all of which would be on-the-job training, with a two-year extension possible after they first return to their home country.

Three days after that proposal was announced, METI released a report calling for keeping the current trainee system, but reforming it so trainees could return to Japan, like the health ministry proposal, for an extra two years under certain conditions.

Japan does not have a guest worker system that allows unskilled or semi-skilled foreigners to come in. The ministries, as well as many lawmakers, business leaders and local governments, fear a large influx of unskilled foreign workers would take jobs from Japanese, creating social unrest. This is precisely why Nagase’s proposal has created such a stir.

The justice minister envisions a wide variety of foreign workers, not just skilled workers in METI-approved sectors, working here for up to three years. They would not be allowed to renew their visa, and they would not be given priority for permanent residency, which is what some in METI and Keidanren have proposed.

It is believed Nagase seeks a more acute need for unskilled or semi-skilled labor, particularly rural and in the services industry.

“The justice minister’s proposal recognizes that a broad range of foreign laborers are needed. It brings foreigners in through the front door to meet Japan’s coming labor demand in all sectors, whereas the METI and the health ministry proposals target technical trainees for specific sectors only, which will result in a large influx of illegal foreign labor through the side door for the other sectors,” said Michitsune Kusaka of Rights of Immigrants Network Kansai, a nongovernmental organization.

However, both Kusaka and Hidenori Sakanaka, director of the NGO Japan Immigration Policy Institute and former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, criticize the proposed three-year time limit.

“Putting a three-year limit on a foreign worker’s stay in Japan does not give the company doing the hiring any incentive to take the time to train them for specialized work. Of course, there is also the question of how many skilled workers would want to come to Japan if they are forced to leave after three years,” Sakanaka said.

While the three proposals are getting a lot of attention among bureaucrats in Tokyo’s Nagata-cho district and senior business leaders, the issue of what to do about foreign laborers is not expected to addressed by politicians in the Upper House election in July.

Hiroshi Inoue, a Keidanren official who helped draft its own policy on foreign laborers, which is similar to the METI proposal, said the issue of foreign workers remains off the radar for most Diet members.

“Local politicians in areas of Japan with lots of foreign laborers, especially in the Chubu region, have to think about policies for foreign laborers. But the issue is not something Diet members concern themselves with,” he said.

“The pension issue and revising the Constitution will be the focus of the Upper House election. Seriously debating proposals about more foreign laborers is not something Diet members are ready to do, although the three proposals announced in May are getting a lot of attention among bureaucrats,” Sakanaka said.
ENDS

U Chicago talk by Imai Noriaki

Hi Blog. Interesting talk here by Imai Noriaki, one of the group of Japanese who went to Iraq three years ago on their own for research and humanitarian work, and wound up getting kidnapped (and shown on J TV with knives to their throats) by Iraqi militants. They were released, but not after running the gauntlet of hostile J media and politicians, and in my view quite a setback for activists in Japan.

Why this is interesting is because Imai doesn’t really come off as strongly as he should in his talk. Granted, he was young then (18), and full of vim and will. But he doesn’t really make his case even today as to why it was important that he go, and how unfair the consequences were in Japan afterwards (I do it instead in my Japan Times article excerpted below). Could be a language barrier (I’ve met the guy personally in Sapporo, since he’s from there, and he’s got a good heart), but at root is his pichipichi idealism which needs a few more doses of the realities of debate in the 21st Century.

He does, however, offer his attempts to make himself heard (trying to answer the critics–even making his cellphone number available to the anonymous and often very abusive online community in Japan), and where they got him (nowhere, really).

I sympathize. I am no stranger to criticism–I receive it practically every day from people who nitpick or attack without daring to identify themselves, or take any responsiblity whatsoever for what they say. They are not in the debate to actually offer any possiblity of changing their own minds–just blowing off steam or criticizing for sport. And I’ve long since learned there’s practically no point in responding because they are beyond being reached (especially when I have made my views as clear as I can in the thousands of essays over fifteen years I’ve archived on Debito.org), so I for the most part just don’t answer. After all, there are lots of them and one of you, and there are only so many hours in a day. More on how I reached this conclusion myself in my book JAPANESE ONLY.

Anyway, have a listen. Arudou Debito in Upstate NY.

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

“Why I Went to Iraq…Three Years Later”

March 29, 2007
Noriaki Imai, student environmental and peace activist

At 18 years of age, Noriaki Imai traveled to Iraq to study the effects of depleted uranium on Iraqi children. While in Iraq, he was taken hostage and threatened to be killed unless Japan withdrew its troops from Iraq. Fortunately, he was released alive, but when he returned home to Japan, he faced enormous public criticism.

Two different audio and video formats at
http://chiasmos.uchicago.edu/events/imai.shtml

Part of the Japan at Chicago Lecture Series: Celebrating Protest; sponsored by the Japan Committee of the Center for East Asian Studies, the Human Rights Program, the Center for International Studies, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, the Environmental Studies Program and Middle Eastern Studies Students Association.

=========================
Kidnap crisis poses a new risk
Japan’s outrage toward the former hostages in Iraq could result in bad public policy

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?fl20040511zg.htm
By Debito Arudou, The Japan Times, May 11, 2004

When five Japanese were taken hostage in Iraq last month, huge public concern for their safe return quickly gave way to hostility and a campaign of vilification. A disastrous public appeal by the families of three of the hostages for the withdrawal of SDF troops from Iraq encouraged the government to take a tough line, and facilitated a media frenzy that sought to paint the hostages as reckless, naive and of dubious political affiliation.

However, a series of measures proposed by officials emboldened by the backlash and designed to prevent a repeat occurrence of the kidnap crisis may only have the effect of snuffing out Japan’s nascent volunteer movement…

Rest at http://www.debito.org/japantimes051104.html

ENDS

Asahi: 90% of crews on Japan ships are NJ–MLIT eyes decreasing that for “security”

Hi Blog. Asahi Shinbun reports that foreign nationals account for more than 90 percent of crews of ocean-going vessels operated by Japanese companies. So the transport ministry plans to offer tax breaks to shipping companies which drastically increase the percentage of Japanese crew on their ships. This in order to “secure stable maritime transportation”–in case they have an emergency in their home country and suddenly create a labor shortage for Japan…???

Uh… I don’t see the connection. Now NJ crew are threatening Japan’s ships too? How silly. Once again, Japan’s industry cuts costs by hiring cheap foreign labor, and somehow finds itself in a predicament–warranting tax benefits? Smells like porkbarrel to me. Just bring up arguments of “self-sufficiency” and “security” (this time coupled with a fear of foreigners who might NOT be available) and watch the public purse strings fly open. Article follows. Debito in Upstate NY

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

Move eyed to raise Japanese crew numbers
05/22/2007 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Courtesy http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200705210339.html

The transport ministry plans to offer tax breaks to shipping companies which drastically increase the percentage of Japanese crew on their ships, sources said.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport aims to increase the number of Japanese crew members by about 50 percent in 10 years to secure stable maritime transportation, an integral part of the nation’s trading infrastructure.

Foreign nationals account for more than 90 percent of crews of ocean-going vessels operated by Japanese companies.

This is because shipping companies sharply cut back on labor costs to survive competition with overseas rivals.

In 2005, the nation’s shipping companies only employed 2,625 Japanese as crew members. Of the roughly 2,000 vessels operated by the nation’s shipping companies, only 95 were registered in Japan for taxation purposes and other reasons.

The transport ministry’s move was prompted by concern there would be too few people to operate ships if natural disasters, political turmoil or other emergencies flared in the home nations of non-Japanese crew members.

According to the ministry’s estimates, to maintain a basic level of operations in the event of an emergency, 5,500 Japanese crew members and 450 vessels registered in Japan would be necessary.

Beginning in fiscal 2008, the ministry plans to require shipping companies, including Nippon Yusen KK and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., to come up with plans to hire more Japanese crew members, including specific targets.

The shipping companies will be required to prepare 5-year or 10-year plans based on the ministry’s targets. The ministry will then examine the plans for final approval.

If a shipping company fails to hire more Japanese as it had planned, the ministry will instruct it on what to do. A company that fails to win ministry approval will become ineligible for the new taxation system, which the ministry expects will be introduced in fiscal 2008.

The new system means companies would be taxed on the total tonnage the shipowner operates instead of actual profits.

The system, already used in 16 other countries, is expected to enable shipping companies to save significant amounts on tax when business is good.

The transport ministry must still negotiate with the Finance Ministry on final implementation of the new system.

It plans to submit its requests in September.

The transport ministry initially had considered introducing a requirement on shipping companies to use the money saved under the new system solely for measures to secure Japanese crew members.

But the idea was scrapped after shipping companies and their client firms raised concerns about higher transportation fees and weakened competitiveness.

In Britain, shipping companies have to provide training for their employees to take advantage of tax breaks.

The Japanese Shipowners’ Association, which represents shipping companies, has already announced a plan to double the number of Japanese-flagged vessels in five years and increase the number of Japanese crew members by 50 percent in 10 years.

(IHT/Asahi: May 22,2007)
ENDS

朝日:外航海運会社に日本人船員増加計画を要請 国交省新制度

ブログの読者おはようございます。以降の記事は面白いですね。日本が営業している船のクルーが外国人です。万が一、有事や外国人の労働不足が起きることを対処するために、これから国税から補助金をもらって日本人船員を増やすという。ほー。色々な社会問題を外国人のせいにするが、初めてこのような政府助成金の正当化にされたことを見ました。なんでもいわゆる「自給自足」のために日本政府はお金を出しますね。有道 出人

=====================
外航海運会社に日本人船員増加計画を要請 国交省新制度
朝日新聞 2007年05月21日15時22分
http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0521/TKY200705210139.html

 減り続ける日本人船員を確保するため国土交通省は、08年度から日本郵船、商船三井などの日本の外航海運会社に、船員の増加目標を盛り込んだ計画を作らせ、国土交通相が認定する新制度をつくる。計画通り実行されない場合は国が勧告できるようにする。厳しい国際競争で続いてきた低コストの外国人船員への移行に歯止めをかけ、日本人を10年間で1.5倍程度に増やすことを目指す。

 国交省は、船員供給国で大規模災害や政変が起こるといった「非常時」でも、日本の社会生活の基盤となる安定した国際的な物資輸送を保つためには、日本人船員を一定程度確保することが必要だと判断。08年度から減税効果が見込まれる「トン数標準税制」が日本籍船を運航する外航各社に導入されるのに伴う、政策目的に掲げている。

 新制度の案では、国交省が日本船籍船と日本人船員の増加の5年、10年単位の目標を盛り込んだ基本方針を示し、これをもとに、各社が具体的な増加計画をつくる。国交相に認定されないと新税制の適用を受けられないようにし、各社の取り組みに実効性を持たせる。

 新税制の導入による減税分の使い道を船員確保策に限るといった厳しい規制もありえるが、外航各社や荷主である経済界から競争力低下や運賃上昇につながることへの慎重論が強いことを考慮した。海運各社でつくる日本船主協会も日本籍船を5年で2倍、日本人船員は10年で1.5倍にする方針を発表している。

 トン数標準税制は法人税について、実際の利益ではなく船の積載能力にもとづいて「みなし利益」を算定する方法で海外16カ国が導入。好景気時に大幅な減税が見込まれる。英国はこの税制を導入した会社に雇用者の訓練義務などを課している。

 ただ、日本人船員の確保制度は財務省側と調整が必要。国交省は9月に税制改正要求を出し、年末に向けて具体的に詰めていく。

 外航海運各社の船員はコストが安く能力もある外国人が9割強を占め、日本人船員は2625人(05年)まで減少。船も日本の外航海運各社が運航する約2000隻のうち日本籍は95隻しかない。同省は「非常時」に最低限の社会生活を続けるのに必要な日本籍船は450隻、日本人船員を5500人と試算している。
ENDS

Fun Facts #6: “Newcomers” soon outnumbering “Oldcomers”

Hi Blog. I added this on specially to the end of my previous newsletter, but don’t want it to get buried. Let me reprint it specially as a FUN FACT:

REGISTERED NJ POPULATION HITS RECORD NUMBERS AGAIN IN 2006: 2.08 MILLION
…the Permanent-Resident “Newcomers” prepare to outnumber the “Oldcomers” by 2008

Latest figures for the population of registered NJ residents (i.e. anyone on 3-month visas and up) were made public last week by the Ministry of Justice (see them for yourself at http://www.moj.go.jp/PRESS/070516-1.pdf)

These are up to the end of 2006 (it takes about 5 months to tabulate the previous year’s figures). The headline:

===========================
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…

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)
===========================
http://www.debito.org/?p=355

COMMENT: Oddly lost in translation from the original Japanese article (http://www.debito.org/?p=410) was the fact that this represents the 45th straight year the NJ population has risen. And at the rate reported above (3.6%), under the laws of statistics and compounding interest rates, this means the NJ population will again double in about 20 years.

It took twenty years to double last time, so the rate is holding steady. 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?

The bigger news is this, though only briefly alluded to above:

Japan has two different types of Permanent Resident: The “Special PRs” (tokubetsu eijuusha), better known as the “Zainichi” ethnic Korean/Chinese etc. generational foreigners born in Japan, and the “General PRs” (ippan eijuusha), better known as the immigrants who have come here to settle and have been granted permission to stay in Japan forever.

Once upon a time, thanks to Japan’s jus sanguinis laws behind citizenship, most “foreigners” were in fact born in Japan–former citizens of empire stripped of their citizenship postwar and their descendents.

No longer. Every year, the number of “Oldcomers” are dropping, while the “Newcomers” are in fact catching up.

According to the MOJ, these are the raw numbers of people each year between 2002 and 2006 respectively:

Oldcomers:
489900 475952 465619 451909 443044

(rate of decrease 2005-2006 of 2%)
Newcomers:
223875 261001 312964 349804 394477

(rate of increase 2005-2006 of 12.8%)

If things continue at 2006’s rate, the number of “Newcomer” immigrants will surpass the “Oldcomers” this year, 2007!

Oldcomers: …434183 425499
Newcomers: …444,970 501926

which means that according to statistics, the Newcomers with PR will double again in a little under six years!

Of course, we won’t see the point of inflection officially until May 2008, but those are the trends. This is a major sea change, because with PR these people are probably here to stay forever, as per the terms of their visa.

As far as rights and internationalization advocates go, this should sound hopeful for increasing pressure on Japan to pass a law against racial discrimination. But I’m hearing rumblings:

According to sources I really cannot name, the “Oldcomers” have a much longer history of human-rights advocacy, and a greater sense of entitlement to “victimhood” than the upstart immigrants. It’s entirely likely the Zainichis might not be too cooperative. After all–they’ve suffered for generations and gotten a few policy bones thrown them by the GOJ. Why should they help make life any easier for others who haven’t paid their time and earned their stripes?

Those are some crystal-ball prognostications. Let’s see how things look in five to ten years, as the landscape keeps shifting under the advocates of human rights for minorities in Japan.

Arudou Debito in Upstate NY, USA

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 3, 2007–SPECIAL ON NJ WORKERS

Hi Blog. Writing to you on board a plane to the US. Got my 20th Reunion at Cornell (my how time flies), and as always a backlog of blog entries (too many for one newsletter this time), so lots of hours on the plane and some time away from the Internet may be just the ticket.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 3, 2007

SPECIAL ISSUE: GOJ PONDERS WHAT TO DO ABOUT NON-JAPANESE WORKERS

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
INTRODUCTION: WSJ ON JAPAN’S NJ LABOR MARKET
1) YOMIURI: 20,000 NJ STUDENTS CAN’T UNDERSTAND JAPANESE
2) ASAHI: GOJ GRANTS TO LOCAL GOVTS TO HELP NJ RESIDENTS
3) ASAHI: SKIMMING FROM “TRAINEE VISA” SCAMS CAUSES MURDER
4) YOMIURI: MINISTRIES SPLIT OVER WHAT TO DO RE VISA PROGRAMS’ ABUSES
5) THE VIEW OF THE ORIGINAL ARCHITECT OF THESE PROGRAMS, KEIDANREN

and finally…
6) REGISTERED NJ POPULATION HITS RECORD NUMBERS AGAIN IN 2006: 2.08 MILLION

…and the “Newcomer” immigrants will probably outnumber the “Oldcomer” generational foreigners by the end of this year.
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

By Arudou Debito in Rochester, New York
debito@debito.org, updates in real time at http://www.debito.org/index.php
Freely Forwardable

INTRO FOR THOSE WHO CAME IN LATE: Japan has been bringing in foreign workers in a steady stream since 1990, when the Government of Japan decided that there was a serious problem with the “hollowing out” (kuudouka) of Japanese industry. Major and minor industries were either relocating overseas (where wages were cheaper) or going bankrupt. Japan had already lost their shoe, toy, and eyeglass industries to other Asian countries. So the GOJ decided to import cheap workers–most notably the descendants of prewar Nikkei immigrants to South America (particularly Brazil and Peru), thinking they would cause fewer problems to Japanese society than just importing anyone (like Chinese). To keep labor costs down, these people would come in on revolving-door terms: one-year “Researcher” or “Trainee” Visas, which required no employer investment in unemployment, health, or retirement benefits. They would also be employed on around half minimum wage, and would be expected to go home w
ith whatever technological training they had acquired (in the best of JETRO traditions) to benefit their home countries.

That was the theory, anyway. Nearly twenty years later, the registered NJ population has nearly doubled. And here’s how things have played out:

=================================
CRACK IN THE DOOR
Cautiously, an Aging Japan Warms to Foreign Workers
Loopholes Open Up Jobs In Farms and Factories; Friction in Toyota City
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 25, 2007; Page A1

http://online.wsj.com/article_print/SB118003388526913715.html
Courtesy of Matt Dioguardi at The Community

…After failing to recruit young Japanese workers, the Akehama citrus farmers decided to try foreign workers, following the example of farmers in a nearby town. They recently set up their own recruiting agency to bring over new trainees. Most come from Benguet, a province in northern Luzon in the Philippines, where farms are struggling to compete with imports of Chinese vegetables. Akehama currently hosts eight trainees — two Vietnamese women and six Filipinos. Shipbuilding companies in a nearby town also employ some Filipino trainees.

“American farmers use Mexican workers to run their farms,” says Mr. Katayama. “So we said, why couldn’t we Japanese farmers use foreigners too?”…

Japan, long known for its resistance to mass immigration, is gradually starting to use more foreigners … to solve its labor shortage. They are taking up jobs in rural areas where industries such as agriculture and textiles are struggling. Big companies are filling their factories with foreigners to assemble auto parts and flat-panel TVs. In cities, foreign workers serve meals at restaurants and stock shelves at grocery stores.

The 2005 census found Japan had 770,000 foreign workers, or 1.3% of its working population, up from 604,000 and 0.9% a decade earlier. That is still a far cry from the U.S., which has 22 million foreign-born workers, or 15% of the labor force. Nonetheless, for Japan it’s a big change…

Even today, many Japanese believe that the country’s relatively homogenous population and common values contribute to a low crime rate and economic strength. But as the country is swept by drastic changes in its population and economy, Japanese are shaking off some of their traditional views. In a 2005 government public-opinion survey, 56% of respondents said Japan should accept unskilled foreign workers either unconditionally or if certain conditions are met. Only 26% said they were opposed to the idea under any circumstance….
=================================
Rest of the article at
http://www.debito.org/?p=432

However the cracks in the program soon came through, especially when NJ laborers started doing things untoward, like staying, marrying, and having children:

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

1) YOMIURI: 20,000 NJ STUDENTS CAN’T UNDERSTAND JAPANESE

===============================
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/20070522
Original Japanese blogged at
http://www.debito.org/?p=408

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…

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….

Full article at
http://www.debito.org/?p=409
===============================

COMMENT: It’s not as if this situation is unprecedented in other developed countries, and Japan is pretty good at looking overseas for role models to deal with domestic issues. For example, in my small-town 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 to have to put through school, for crying out loud?

There are some half-measures being taken on the micro level:

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

2) ASAHI: GOJ GRANTS TO LOCAL GOVTS TO HELP NJ RESIDENTS

=====================================
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…

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…

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….
====================================
Rest of the article at
http://www.debito.org/?p=416

This is of course good news. Worrisome is the sentence “the measure MAY continue…” Let’s hope that it’s not just seen as a temporary stopgap measure. These people need help. Especially given what some of them have to deal with in the workplace:

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

3) ASAHI: SKIMMING FROM “TRAINEE VISA” SCAMS CAUSES MURDER

I’ve blogged before how the Trainee and Researcher Visa program scams have resulted in various human and labor rights abuses (http://www.debito.org/?p=99) and even child labor (http://www.debito.org/?p=140). Now according to the Asahi, they’ve even resulted in murder:

===============================
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…

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 [farm] 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 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…

“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.”…

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)
============================
Rest of the article at
http://www.debito.org/?p=420

COMMENT: Remember GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine (http://www.debito.org/?cat=27), a horribly-biased screed against NJ workers, residents, and immigrants? So awful that it was removed from store shelves within days of going on sale last January?

Well, it had a manga about this case. And believe it or not, it was actually *sympathetic* to the Chinese! See it at:
http://www.debito.org/?p=420

Even though said magazine also featured a different manga portraying Chinese–as a people–as natural-born killers!
http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2386

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

Thanks to this case (generally, it seems somebody’s gotta die as a consequence of bad policy before people actually do something about it), the treatment of NJ workers has become a hot issue in Nagatachou and Kasumigaseki:

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

4) YOMIURI: MINISTRIES SPLIT OVER WHAT TO DO RE VISA PROGRAMS’ ABUSES

The Yomiuri offers a good overview of the policy debate. Then Matt Dioguardi offers an even better overview on his blog:

=================================
Govt split over foreign trainee program
Yomiuri Shimbun May 19, 2007

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

…Study panels established by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry recently proposed a review of the system [by 2009], 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.

[See Nagase’s original two-page letter to policymakers in Japanese, scanned and leaked to me by a friend, at:
http://www.debito.org/?p=402 (page down)]

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

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 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.

…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…
(Yomiuri Shinbun May 19, 2007)
=======================================

Entire article at
http://www.debito.org/?p=435

MATT DIOGUARDI ADDS:
=======================================
Now recently three ministries have stepped forward with a plan to save the day… 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 METI 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 links to copious articles on this subject at:
http://japan.shadowofiris.com/immigration/will-the-permanent-government-fix-the-trainee-problem/

But let’s go the very source of this issue–the original advocate of these programs–the Business Lobby in Japan:

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

5) THE VIEW OF THE ORIGINAL ARCHITECT OF THESE PROGRAMS, KEIDANREN

Essentially another tier of government, Keidanren, has finally gotten around to summarizing and translating its policy proposals for the outside world’s consumption. (The original was long, which is why I hadn’t gotten to it myself. Sorry.)

What is Keidanren? In their own words:
==========================
Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) is a comprehensive economic organization born in May 2002 by amalgamation of Keidanren (Japan Federation of Economic Organizations) and Nikkeiren (Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations). Its membership of 1,662 is comprised of 1,351 companies, 130 industrial associations, and 47 regional economic organizations (as of June 20, 2006).

The mission of Nippon Keidanren is to accelerate growth of Japan’s and world economy and to strengthen the corporations to create additional value to transform Japanese economy into one that is sustainable and driven by the private sector, by encouraging the idea of individuals and local communities.

Nippon Keidanren, for this purpose, shall establish timely consensus and work towards resolution of a variety of issues concerning Japanese business community, including economic, industrial, social, and labor. Meanwhile, it will communicate with its stakeholders including political leaders, administrators, labor unions, and citizens at large. It will urge its members to adhere to Charter of Corporate Behavior and Global Environment Charter, in order to recover public confidence in businesses. It will also attempt to resolve international problems and to deepen economic relations with other countries through policy dialogue with governments, business groups and concerned international organizations.
http://www.keidanren.or.jp/english/profile/pro001.html
==========================

What they don’t mention is their hand in these guest-worker scams. So now how do they propose to remedy the problem?

According to their newest proposal, “Second Set of Recommendations on Accepting Non-Japanese Workers (Summary)”, dated March 20, 2007 (see it in full at http://www.debito.org/?p=431), Keidanren advocates more labor rights for NJ workers, and GOJ involvement in securing stable livelihoods.

This is a step in the right direction, to be sure, thanks. But Keidanren itself says in its writeup that it made similar calls for the very same in 2004. As the media and policy outcry shows, this has not done the trick. Just advocating it don’t make it so.

Keidanren also encouraging more training and a skilled workforce (understandable in principle), but advocates putting the onus on the worker to prove himself in terms of assimilation and qualification (understandable in principle, but unclear in practice; who’s going to test these people?)

Moreover, Footnote One below shows they are still in Never-Never Land regarding the role of NJ in Japanese society:

==========================
Japan’s population has started to decline, but Nippon Keidanren’s aim in calling for Japan to admit more non-Japanese workers is not to fill the gap caused by this drop in population. According to forecasts, if nothing is done to reverse the depopulation trend, the retirement of the so-called baby boom generation will, 10 years from now, leave Japan’s labor force with four million fewer workers. It would not be practical to cover this shortfall entirely through the admission of non-Japanese people. Nippon Keidanren’s basic position is that non-Japanese people should be admitted to introduce different cultural ideas and sense of values into Japanese society and corporations and to promote the creation of new added value, as this would accelerate innovation, one of the three factors implicit in a potential growth rate (the other two being labor and capital).
==========================

I see. We’ll suck the ideas from them but won’t let them be a part of Japan. Yeah, right.

Look, Keidanren, get real. You brought these people here to keep your factories internationally competitive. Now figure out a way to take care of them, well enough to make them want to stay. For heaven’s sake, lose the revolving-door disposable worker mentality, already. NJ workers are in fact an investment in Japan’s future.

And yet, despite the crappy visa conditions, the erstwhile ministerial indifference, and the general bad-mouthing of NJ by the likes of Tokyo Governor Ishihara and the National Police Agency, NJ just keep on coming…

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

6) REGISTERED NJ POPULATION HITS RECORD NUMBERS AGAIN IN 2006: 2.08 MILLION
…the Permanent-Resident “Newcomers” prepare to outnumber the “Oldcomers” by 2008

Latest figures for the population of registered NJ residents (i.e. anyone on 3-month visas and up) were made public last week by the Ministry of Justice (see them for yourself at http://www.moj.go.jp/PRESS/070516-1.pdf)

These are up to the end of 2006 (it takes about 5 months to tabulate the previous year’s figures). The headline:

===========================
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…

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)
===========================
http://www.debito.org/?p=355

COMMENT: Oddly lost in translation from the original Japanese article (http://www.debito.org/?p=410) was the fact that this represents the 45th straight year the NJ population has risen. And at the rate reported above (3.6%), under the laws of statistics and compounding interest rates, this means the NJ population will again double in about 20 years.

It took twenty years to double last time, so the rate is holding steady. 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?

The bigger news is this, though only briefly alluded to above:

Japan has two different types of Permanent Resident: The “Special PRs” (tokubetsu eijuusha), better known as the “Zainichi” ethnic Korean/Chinese etc. generational foreigners born in Japan, and the “General PRs” (ippan eijuusha), better known as the immigrants who have come here to settle and have been granted permission to stay in Japan forever.

Once upon a time, thanks to Japan’s jus sanguinis laws behind citizenship, most foreigners were in fact born in Japan–former citizens of empire stripped of their citizenship postwar and their descendents.

No longer. Every year, the number of “Oldcomers” are dropping, while the “Newcomers” are in fact catching up.

According to the MOJ, these are the raw numbers of people each year between 2002 and 2006 respectively:

Oldcomers:
489900 475952 465619 451909 443044

(rate of decrease 2005-2006 of 2%)
Newcomers:
223875 261001 312964 349804 394477

(rate of increase 2005-2006 of 12.8%)

If things continue at 2006’s rate, the number of “Newcomer” immigrants will surpass the “Oldcomers” this year, 2007!

Oldcomers: …434183 425499
Newcomers: …444,970 501926

which means that according to statistics, the Newcomers with PR will double again in a little under six years!

Of course, we won’t see the point of inflection officially until May 2008, but those are the trends. This is a major sea change, because with PR these people are probably here to stay forever, as per the terms of their visa.

As far as rights and internationalization advocates go, this should sound hopeful for increasing pressure on Japan to pass a law against racial discrimination. But I’m hearing rumblings:

According to sources I really cannot name, the “Oldcomers” have a much longer history of human-rights advocacy, and a greater sense of entitlement to “victimhood” than the upstart immigrants. It’s entirely likely the Zainichis might not be too cooperative. After all–they’ve suffered for generations and gotten a few policy bones thrown them by the GOJ. Why should they help make life any easier for others who haven’t paid their time and earned their stripes?

Those are some crystal-ball prognostications. Let’s see how things look in five to ten years, as the landscape keeps shifting under the advocates of human rights for minorities in Japan.

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

All for today. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito, Rochester, New York, USA
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 3, 2007 ENDS

WSJ on Imported NJ workers on J farms and factories

Hi Blog. An excellent primer from the Wall sTreet Journal on why Japan is importing NJ workers and how they are getting along: less than half wages (one Filipino mentioned below gets $500 a month, and sends half of it back home!!), yet the unsung savior of many industries (Toyota, now the world’s #2 automaker, is dependent on them). The demographics of the situation also nicely interwoven into the article as well.

Are people still going to make the argument that Japan’s internationalization is not inevitable? Arudou Debito in Rochester, NY.

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

CRACK IN THE DOOR
Cautiously, an Aging Japan Warms to Foreign Workers
Loopholes Open Up Jobs In Farms and Factories;
Friction in Toyota City
By YUKA HAYASHI and SEBASTIAN MOFFETT
The Wall Street Journal, May 25, 2007; Page A1

http://online.wsj.com/article_print/SB118003388526913715.html
Courtesy of Matt Dioguardi at The Community

AKEHAMA, Japan — Four years ago, when a group of farmers in this remote village first brought in young Filipinos to work in their citrus fields, neighbors rebuffed the idea of hiring foreigners. “They said these men shouldn’t be hired even if they worked for free,” recalls Motosa Katayama, a ninth-generation farmer with a weather-beaten face.

But they soon saw the logic. The Filipinos performed strenuous tasks such as pruning branches and pulling weeds, becoming indispensable to the elderly farmers. Since then, Akehama, a village with just 100 households, has hosted a total of 70 workers from the Philippines and Vietnam.

“People began to realize it was so much better to have someone with you” on the field, says Mr. Katayama.

Japan, long known for its resistance to mass immigration, is gradually starting to use more foreigners — known as gaikokujin roudousha in Japanese — to solve its labor shortage. They are taking up jobs in rural areas where industries such as agriculture and textiles are struggling. Big companies are filling their factories with foreigners to assemble auto parts and flat-panel TVs. In cities, foreign workers serve meals at restaurants and stock shelves at grocery stores.

The 2005 census found Japan had 770,000 foreign workers, or 1.3% of its working population, up from 604,000 and 0.9% a decade earlier. That is still a far cry from the U.S., which has 22 million foreign-born workers, or 15% of the labor force. Nonetheless, for Japan it’s a big change.

WSJ 052507.png

Resistance to allowing in foreign workers runs strong in this island nation, where virtually everyone speaks Japanese and shares a similar ethnic and cultural background. From 1639 to 1854, Japan banned nearly all foreigners from entering the country. The only major immigration in modern times came before and during World War II, when several million Koreans came to Japan. At the time, Korea was a Japanese colony.

Even today, many Japanese believe that the country’s relatively homogenous population and common values contribute to a low crime rate and economic strength. But as the country is swept by drastic changes in its population and economy, Japanese are shaking off some of their traditional views. In a 2005 government public-opinion survey, 56% of respondents said Japan should accept unskilled foreign workers either unconditionally or if certain conditions are met. Only 26% said they were opposed to the idea under any circumstance.

Cut Off From Mainstream

The foreign workers currently don’t present an economic threat because they tend to do jobs that Japanese workers don’t want, such as agriculture and construction work. And many are dotted around the country in small, rural communities which are cut off from mainstream society.

What’s more, in a country where the public is strongly aware of demographic trends, many see foreign workers as inevitable in the long run. Because of the falling birth rate, Japan’s working-age population peaked in 1995 and is now falling. Demographers forecast that the number of working-age Japanese — aged 15 to 64 — will drop 15% by 2025 from 84.6 million in 2005. The drop will be especially sharp over the next few years as people born during Japan’s 1947-49 baby boom turn 60, the official retirement age at many companies.

The Japanese government has kept a tight grip on foreigners and their activities. While officially keeping the door closed, it has permitted numerous loopholes that enable hundreds of thousands of foreigners to come and work in Japan every year, mostly on a temporary basis — a strategy that some call a “backdoor policy.”

The young men in Akehama, for example, aren’t technically employed as workers. They are among 140,000 “trainees” brought to Japan under a three-year government-approved program that is supposed to teach them skills that they will take back to their countries. Some trainees are paid just $2.50 an hour, around half the lowest of Japan’s minimum wages, which vary by region.

In addition, some 100,000 foreigners with student visas are allowed to work part-time, and most do so at low-wage jobs in convenience stores and fast-food restaurants. And about 300,000 descendants of Japanese who emigrated to South America more than 50 years ago now live and work in Japan, granted visas as relatives of Japanese citizens.

This quiet, backdoor policy could backfire if the number of foreigners swells quickly or workers start competing for more mainstream, blue-collar jobs. Already the media has played up a rise in crime committed by foreigners. Serious offenses by foreigners such as robbery and rape are up 67% over the past 10 years although the absolute number of such crimes remains low.

At least one high-profile politician, Shintaro Ishihara, governor of the Tokyo metropolitan region, has made a name for himself with verbal attacks on foreigners, saying foreigners “are carrying out extremely heinous crimes.” In a sign that many Japanese welcome his outspoken style, he was elected to a third four-year term on April 8.

The Japan Association of Corporate Executives, a powerful business lobby that supports allowing more foreign workers in Japan, projected that by 2050, foreigners would exceed 6.1% of Japan’s working-age population — the current level in France, and nearly five times the current level.

“By not calling these people workers and leaving things vague in a typical Asian fashion, the Japanese government retains tremendous control over the situation for now,” says Bui Chi Trung, a sociology professor from Vietnam at Aichi Shukutoku University near Nagoya. But without a clearer definition of the role of foreigners in the work force, he says, the issue may lead to social instability. “Japan may pay dearly for this policy,” he says.

First Opening

The first big opening for foreign workers came in the booming late 1980s, when Japan allowed tens of thousands of Iranians to come on tourist visas — after which they stayed on, illegally, to work. When the economy slowed, the government made Iranian visitors meet the tighter entry requirements already required for people from most developing nations.

A more significant experiment involved Latin Americans of Japanese descent. In 1990, the government made it clear that most descendants of Japanese emigrants — in particular the children and grandchildren of those who left to work as farmers in Brazil during the first half of the 20th century — were free to work in Japan for as long as they wished.

Officially, the reason was unrelated to a labor shortage. “It was just a natural thing to take back the descendants of Japanese people who had left a while ago and now wanted to come back,” says Saori Fujita, an immigration policy planner at the ministry of justice.

As Japan’s auto industry thrived — and developed a labor shortage — in the early 2000s, the large Brazilian community around Toyota City became a vital part of the labor force.

Aisin Seiki Co., which supplies Toyota Motor Corp. with parts such as transmissions, employs about 1,700 Brazilians among its 6,000 factory workers. The company has found it hard to recruit new Japanese workers, who increasingly shun factory jobs. Most Brazilian workers are hired on a contract basis, which means they can be laid off more easily in a downturn — or if Aisin decides to move more production overseas. “Aisin was taking on fewer new employees” during Japan’s long downturn in the 1990s, says Ryuichiro Yamada, a human-resources personnel manager. In this decade, “when business boomed, we didn’t have enough people.”

Because many of the Brazilians don’t speak Japanese well, they generally do routine tasks that require less explanation, such as preparing products for shipment. Aisin employs 20 interpreters and has translated essential notices and manuals into Portuguese.

Though most Brazilians intended to stay just a few years to make quick money, many are deciding to remain in Japan. That means Japan is acquiring its first foreign-language community since it brought over Koreans to work in factories during World War II.

A public-housing complex in Toyota City called Homi Estate was built in the 1970s to house workers at Toyota’s parts suppliers. Now, 45% of the roughly 9,000 residents are South American, predominantly Brazilian. A Japanese supermarket on the estate closed down last year and a shopping center owned by a Brazilian took over the premises.

Japanese residents complained at first about the loud music young Brazilians played and the motorbikes they allegedly stole. But they eventually realized the Brazilians were there to stay, and made an effort to educate them in Japan-style living.

“You have to talk to them one-to-one,” says Kinuyo Miyagawa, 59, a long-term Homi resident who is active in the local residents association. She explained Japan’s elaborate process of putting out the trash on particular days for different categories, such as burnables and items for recycling.

More recently, foreign workers have expanded to include fruit pickers, scallop packers and garment-factory workers. They support struggling businesses in rural Japan where the population is declining rapidly as young people move to cities.

Most of these workers have arrived under the government-sponsored trainee system, originally created to allow big companies to train their overseas staffers in Japan, and gradually expanded to include small companies with a labor shortage. Last year, Japan brought in 68,305 trainees — twice the number in 2001. The trainees initially receive a one-year visa, and they can extend their stay for an additional two years. Most choose to do so. Once their three years are up, they can’t get a trainee visa again.

Factories Keep Going

The 53 garment factories in Ehime prefecture in western Japan, known for its towel and garment manufacturing in the 1960s, have been clobbered by cheap imports from the rest of Asia. They keep going thanks to some 300 trainees from China, who work at 36 of these factories — all of them small companies with a few dozen employees — where they sew skirts, blouses and school uniforms. The trainees are paid a little over $500 a month. Employers say they cost about the same as Japanese workers after paying for their room and board, training and travel expenses. Still, with so few Japanese workers willing to join the industry, factory owners even charter flights from China to bring them over.

The local industry association is now demanding that the government allow foreign workers to come in more freely. “We want the government to do away with this nonsense and create a system where people who want to come back are allowed to do so,” says Kohji Murakami, chairman of the association. “We need foreign workers, and we need them right now.”

Of course, problems inevitably arise. Trainees can’t change employers, and during their first year are not protected by Japanese labor laws. Last September, a 26-year-old Chinese trainee on a pig farm near Tokyo boycotted work after a pay dispute. A representative of the staffing agency that brought him to Japan arrived at the farm to send him back to China. The trainee then stabbed him to death, according to a police spokeswoman.

In December, a Chinese woman trainee in her thirties filed a civil suit against the host organization that brought her to Japan and its representative. The woman alleged she was raped many times by the head of the host organization, who had a key to her dormitory room. The organization fully admitted the allegations and settled out of court in February.

The government says it is planning to revise the system, including possibly allowing trainees to stay longer than the current three-year maximum. Officials have yet to agree on the details.

Many young workers are eager to come to Japan, attracted by wages that are higher than they are back home. Rimando Sitam, a Filipino who has worked on an Akehama citrus farm for two years, has a college degree in teaching but couldn’t find work at home. The 29-year-old sends home much of his monthly salary of $500. That covers more than half the living expenses of his parents and six siblings, who live on a small vegetable farm.

“So many farmers want to be trainees in Japan because we have no work in the Philippines,” says Mr. Sitam. “I want to stay here much longer or come back again if I can.” When his training period in Japan ends, Mr. Sitam is hoping to find a factory job in South Korea.

Mr. Katayama, the citrus farmer, likes the trainee system, as it’s helped keep his farm in business for the past few years. A powerful typhoon destroyed much of the orange crop in Akehama seven years ago, wiping out many neighboring farms. Mr. Katayama and a few of his neighbors bought some of the land so they could expand.

After failing to recruit young Japanese workers, the Akehama citrus farmers decided to try foreign workers, following the example of farmers in a nearby town. They recently set up their own recruiting agency to bring over new trainees. Most come from Benguet, a province in northern Luzon in the Philippines, where farms are struggling to compete with imports of Chinese vegetables. Akehama currently hosts eight trainees — two Vietnamese women and six Filipinos. Shipbuilding companies in a nearby town also employ some Filipino trainees.

“American farmers use Mexican workers to run their farms,” says Mr. Katayama. “So we said, why couldn’t we Japanese farmers use foreigners too?”

ENDS

Keidanren on Accepting NJ workers (March 2007)

Hi Blog. Essentially another tier of government, Keidanren, has finally gotten around to summarizing and translating its policy proposals for the outside world’s consumption. (The original was long, which is why I hadn’t gotten to it myself. Sorry.)

What is Keidanren? In their own words:

==========================
Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) is a comprehensive economic organization born in May 2002 by amalgamation of Keidanren (Japan Federation of Economic Organizations) and Nikkeiren (Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations). Its membership of 1,662 is comprised of 1,351 companies, 130 industrial associations, and 47 regional economic organizations (as of June 20, 2006).

The mission of Nippon Keidanren is to accelerate growth of Japan’s and world economy and to strengthen the corporations to create additional value to transform Japanese economy into one that is sustainable and driven by the private sector, by encouraging the idea of individuals and local communities.

Nippon Keidanren, for this purpose, shall establish timely consensus and work towards resolution of a variety of issues concerning Japanese business community, including economic, industrial, social, and labor. Meanwhile, it will communicate with its stakeholders including political leaders, administrators, labor unions, and citizens at large. It will urge its members to adhere to Charter of Corporate Behavior and Global Environment Charter, in order to recover public confidence in businesses. It will also attempt to resolve international problems and to deepen economic relations with other countries through policy dialogue with governments, business groups and concerned international organizations.
http://www.keidanren.or.jp/english/profile/pro001.html
==========================

What they don’t mention is this: A major policymaker for Japan Inc., Keidanren steered the GOJ into creating the infamous TRAINEE and RESEARCHER Visas from 1990, which have not only brought in hundreds of thousands of NJ workers working for half wages or worse (with no social safety net), but also resulted in huge scams and labor abuses. Articles substantiating this are all over this blog.

So now how do they propose to remedy the problem? Inter alia, more labor rights for NJ workers, and GOJ involvement in securing them more stable livelihoods. This is a step in the right direction, thanks, but Keidanren itself says below it made similar calls for such in 2004, and plenty of recent media articles indicate this has not done the trick. Just advocating it don’t make it so.

Keidanren also encouraging more training and a skilled workforce (understandable in principle), but putting the onus on the worker to prove himself in terms of assimilation and qualification (understandable in principle, but unclear in practice–who’s going to test these people?).

Moreover, Footnote One below shows they are still in Never-Never Land regarding the role of NJ in Japanese society:

—————————————
Japan’s population has started to decline, but Nippon Keidanren’s aim in calling for Japan to admit more non-Japanese workers is not to fill the gap caused by this drop in population. According to forecasts, if nothing is done to reverse the depopulation trend, the retirement of the so-called baby boom generation will, 10 years from now, leave Japan’s labor force with four million fewer workers. It would not be practical to cover this shortfall entirely through the admission of non-Japanese people. Nippon Keidanren’s basic position is that non-Japanese people should be admitted to introduce different cultural ideas and sense of values into Japanese society and corporations and to promote the creation of new added value, as this would accelerate innovation, one of the three factors implicit in a potential growth rate (the other two being labor and capital).
—————————————

I see–we’ll suck the ideas from them but won’t let them be a part of Japan. Yeah, right.

Look, Keidanren, get real. You brought these people here to keep your factories internationally competitive. Now figure out a way to take care of them, to make them want to stay. Forget the revolving-door disposable worker mentality, already. NJ workers are in fact an investment in Japan’s future. Arudou Debito in Narita

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

Second Set of Recommendations on Accepting Non-Japanese Workers
(Summary)

http://www.keidanren.or.jp/english/policy/2007/017.html
Courtesy of Tony Keyes at The Community
A pdf version of the Japanese document can be downloaded at:
http://www.keidanren.or.jp/japanese/policy/2007/017.pdf
Courtesy Kirk Masden at The Community

March 20, 2007

Nippon Keidanren
(Japan Business Federation)
I. Introduction

In its opinion paper, “Recommendations on Accepting Non-Japanese Workers,” released in April 2004, Nippon Keidanren recommended that the Japanese government take advantage of the diversified sense of values, experiences and skills of workers from other countries to increase Japan’s capacity to create added value. FOOTNOTE #1 The Recommendations proposed specific measures regarding facilitating the acceptance of non-Japanese workers in specialized and technical fields and in sectors where future labor shortages in Japan are anticipated, enhancing the Industrial Training Program and the Technical Internship Program, and improving the living conditions of non-Japanese workers in Japan based on three principles guiding the admission of foreign workers:

Exert sufficient control over the quality and quantity of those admitted;
Ensure respect for their human rights and prohibit discrimination;
Ensure benefits for both Japan and the countries from which the workers come.

Since the release of the first set of Recommendations, certain changes have occurred: new admission frameworks have been established as a result of Japan’s promotion of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) with other Asian countries, and there is now greater demand among Japan’s domestic industries for highly skilled human resources, especially technical personnel. Nippon Keidanren therefore considered problems that governments and local communities in Japan should resolve on a priority basis in order to deal with these changes, and also examined the enhancement of compliance systems within corporations hiring foreign workers. The result of that study is this second set of recommendations.

II. Overview

1. The need for Japan to admit more foreign workers

Japanese corporations are faced with a pressing need to acquire human resources from around the world, because they need to energize their organizations and increase their international competitiveness through the addition of a variety of sense of values and thought patterns. In addition, it is predicted that, in the future, Japan will not have enough skilled personnel in such sectors as nursing, care giving, agriculture, manufacturing, construction and machine assembly. It is therefore essential that Japan admit more foreign workers, a goal that can be achieved through deregulation.

2. Recent initiatives of Japan’s national government and ruling party
Guidelines Regarding Foreign Workers: An interim report from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party

In the July 2006 interim report named here, the Liberal Democratic Party’s Special Committee on Foreign Workers discussed: (a) extending the term of residence for highly skilled workers; (b) expanding the scope of “Skilled Labor” status of residence; (c) systematizing programs offering further training; and (d) fundamentally revising controls over alien registration and residence status. These measures should be taken.

Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with other Asian countries

It is also important for Japan to continue admitting non-Japanese workers by using schemes under an EPA similar to that promoting the admission of nurses and caregivers under the Japan-Philippines EPA.

Commitments under the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services

Japan’s June 2005 submission of its revised offer on liberalizing the movement of natural persons added commitments for the categories “Engineer,” “Specialist in Humanities/International Services” and “Skilled Labor,” in addition to its previous commitments regarding intra-company transferees and independent service suppliers. However, the revised offer only makes international commitments for the existing system. Full-fledged commitments accompanied by amendments to Japanese laws will be required.

3. Improvements in Japan’s social infrastructure, to promote the admission of non-Japanese workers FOOTNOTE#2

Clarification of the respective responsibilities of governments and the private sector

In light of the current situation, the Japanese government needs to change its basic policies on the admission of non-Japanese people, and relevant ministries and agencies should work together to improve their policy formation systems while strengthening ties with local governments. Local governments should enhance Japanese-language teaching programs, promote further education opportunities for the children of non-Japanese workers, and help improve the living environment for them. For their part, companies employing non-Japanese workers need to strengthen their compliance systems to ensure, for example, that they abide by the Labour Standards Act, and to provide assistance for the livelihood of non-Japanese residents. Governments and the private sector should each fulfill their respective responsibilities and establish admission and control systems that can be easily understood from the perspective of other countries.

Accurately understanding labor market needs; admission controls

Immigration controls need to be applied through a transparent, reliable system which is bolstered by clearly stated, widely known standards that form the basis of immigration and residence status decisions. One approach would be to regulate the number of non-Japanese workers in sectors requiring skilled workers using a labor market test.

Enhanced control of residence status and labor

It is important to link the alien registration system with the basic resident register system, since this would help local governments obtain a better understanding of circumstances surrounding residence of non-Japanese people and make it possible for them to more accurately provide services to these residents. As a labor control measure, the current Report on Foreign Workers should be modified to prevent illegal labor practices and to promote participation in social insurance programs.

Ensuring benefits for both Japan and the countries from where workers come

It is important that the admission of non-Japanese workers benefit both Japan and the countries from where they come, and this can be achieved in part by clearly identifying through bilateral agreements the responsibilities of the workers’ native countries, and by offering technical guidance and Japanese-language education in those countries through Japan’s Official Development Assistance programs.

III. Specific Recommendations

1. Admission of highly skilled human resources; intra-company and intra-group transfers

Admission of highly skilled human resources

To ensure a sufficient supply of highly skilled non-Japanese workers, the requirement of a minimum of 10 years of practical experience to qualify for “Specialist in Humanities/International Services” and “Engineer” status of residence should be eased as soon as possible. In addition, the system should be modified to permit non-Japanese workers to be accepted for a long period of time under a contractual agreement among companies, without the necessity of a direct employment contract signed by the hiring company and the non-Japanese worker.

Intra-company and intra-group transfers

The requirement of a minimum one year of practical experience to qualify for “Intra-company Transferee” status of residence should be eased. Many restrictions apply to the “Precollege Student” status of residence for transferees whose main purpose is language learning, but in such cases the “Intra-company Transferee” status of residence, or a similar status, should be granted.

2. Admission of non-Japanese workers for sectors lacking sufficient human resources

Nurses and caregivers

Now that an agreement has been reached on admission of nurses and caregivers under the Japan-Philippines EPA, the admission of such human resources from Indonesia, Thailand and other countries should be achieved as soon as possible through EPAs with those countries. In addition, current status of residence requirements should be eased to open Japan’s doors to nurses and caregivers even from countries with which Japan does not have an EPA.

Skilled workers for manufacturing and other sectors

In order to eliminate the current and future chronic shortage of skilled workers in such sectors as manufacturing, construction and machine assembly, the Japanese government should consider admitting non-Japanese workers who meet requirements such as knowledge of a certain level of Japanese, conditional upon the introduction of a labor market test. For the immediate future, their admission should be promoted through arrangements under bilateral agreements, including EPAs, while ensuring tight control over their quality and quantity.

3. The Industrial Training Program and Technical Internship Program

Stable implementation of training programs

In order to ensure stable implementation of the Industrial Training Program and the Technical Internship Program FOOTNOTE#3, it is important to enhance compliance systems within the organizations and corporations employing non-Japanese workers, and to monitor admission conditions. In addition, the Ministry of Justice should revise its February 1999 guidelines on immigration and status of residence controls for those participating in the Industrial Training Program and Technical Internship Program, and severe penalties should be imposed on illegal actions.

Institutionalization of programs offering further training

For those who have received on-the-job training and wish to further improve their skills, readmission for practical training for a two-year period should be permitted, conditional upon trainees having achieved a certain level of expertise in the Japanese language and work skills, and upon having provisionally returned to their home country.

4. Terms of residence; application for a Certificate of Eligibility

Extension of terms of residence

The maximum term of residence granted for each relevant residence status should be extended from three to five years, with the exception of cases where the term is not fixed, and it should be permitted to select the term of residence, up to the five-year maximum, depending upon the kind of work the foreign worker is engaged in.

Simplification of the application procedure for a Certificate of Eligibility; greater transparency of procedures

It should be possible to make applications online, and the time required for standard processing should be shortened. Furthermore, a company group’s subsidiary that is responsible for personnel affairs at the hiring corporation should be permitted to submit applications as a proxy. In addition, procedures should be simplified for proxy applications by corporations with a good record in employing non-Japanese workers in the past. It is also important to improve procedural transparency by, for example, categorizing cases in which a certificate would not be granted, and stating the reason when it is not granted.

5. Residence and labor controls; support for living in Japan

Residence controls

A new Basic Register for Non-Japanese Residents should be established to provide the basis for authenticating matters relating to their places of abode and for facilitating the provision of government services.

Labor controls

The Report on Foreign Workers should be fundamentally modified to require employers to report on non-Japanese workers’ nationalities, statuses of residence, terms of residence and employment patterns, and this information should be used for immigration control purposes, to know where non-Japanese personnel are working and to ensure they participate in social insurance programs.

Inclusion of non-Japanese workers within the social insurance system

To promote the inclusion of non-Japanese workers in Japan’s pension and health insurance programs, the system providing for the lump sum repayment of pension contributions to non-Japanese withdrawing from the Japanese pension system should be revised, and consideration should be given to measures permitting the reimbursement of the total personal contribution portion of social insurance premiums. In addition, social insurance agreements should be signed to provide for the avoidance of double payment of pension contributions and social insurance premiums.

Living expense assistance for non-Japanese residents

There is a need for private enterprises, local governments, international exchange associations, non-profit organizations and other entities to work together to successfully address such issues as finding housing, Japanese language teaching, and education for the children of non-Japanese workers. Furthermore, a study should be conducted into the establishment of schemes for the disbursement of funds in each region by the national government and local governments, with private companies also contributing on a voluntary basis, to provide the financial assistance some non-Japanese workers may require for their livelihood.

============================
FOOTNOTES

#1 Japan’s population has started to decline, but Nippon Keidanren’s aim in calling for Japan to admit more non-Japanese workers is not to fill the gap caused by this drop in population. According to forecasts, if nothing is done to reverse the depopulation trend, the retirement of the so-called baby boom generation will, 10 years from now, leave Japan’s labor force with four million fewer workers. It would not be practical to cover this shortfall entirely through the admission of non-Japanese people. Nippon Keidanren’s basic position is that non-Japanese people should be admitted to introduce different cultural ideas and sense of values into Japanese society and corporations and to promote the creation of new added value, as this would accelerate innovation, one of the three factors implicit in a potential growth rate (the other two being labor and capital).

#2 The number of foreigners registered in Japan reached more than 2 million in 2005. Although there has been a decline in the number of so-called “old-comers,” primarily South Korean nationals, the number of foreign nationals of Japanese descent, especially from Brazil and Peru, is now rising, and the number of foreigners working in specialized and technical fields, whose admission is being promoted nationwide by Japan, is slowly but gradually increasing as well. Even so, the number of all of these represents only about 1.5% of Japan’s total population, which is certainly not high when one considers the country as a whole. However, foreigners of Japanese descent tend to congregate in certain cities and regions, and some areas are experiencing social problems as a result. In this section, Nippon Keidanren’s recommendations call for four measures to improve Japan’s social infrastructure in ways that promote the acceptance of non-Japanese people.

#3 The Industrial Training Program and Technical Internship Program are for people from abroad who are admitted to work in Japanese firms for a certain period of time in order to acquire the industrial techniques, skills and knowledge practiced in a developed country. The programs are designed to satisfy the need of primarily developing countries for trained human resources who will one day drive their national economic development and promote their industries. The Industrial Training Program helps trainees acquire Japan’s industrial and occupational techniques, skills and knowledge within one year (under the “Trainee” status of residence.) The Technical Internship Program offers, during employment, more practical and effective proficiency in the techniques, skills and knowledge for a maximum of two years (under the “Designated Activities” status of residence.)

KEIDANREN PROPOSAL MARCH 2007

Off to the USA for a week–blog may be updated less often

Hello Blog. I’m going back to my hometown area for a week (Upstate New York), both to see my family and to attend my 20th Cornell Reunion. So I probably won’t be able to keep up the pace of one new blog entry per day.

But I do have a long stretch (of course) on the plane, and two batteries. So I’ll probably work on my next newsletters in transit, and have them up here in due course.

Thanks for reading the Debito.org blog, as always! Arudou Debito in transit

Asahi on 2-Channel BBS: “Criticism mounts against forum”

Hi Blog. Another (rather pedestrian, but something for the uninitiated; even the GOJ comments–albeit flacidly–this time) article about the rolling controversy that remains 2-Channel, the world’s largest BBS, and a hotbed of anonymized libel (the “den of criminals” comment is not mine).

As always, 2-Channel adminstrator Nishimura gets quoted. Wish they’d asked more comments from the victims.

More on my (successful, but unrequited) libel lawsuit against them at

http://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html

and

http://www.debito.org/?cat=21

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Criticism mounts against forum

05/29/2007 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

BY TOMOYA ISHIKAWA AND MARIKO SUGIYAMA

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200705290089.html

Courtesy of Dave Spector

Hiroyuki Nishimura is not one to play by the rules of others.

The 30-year-old founder of 2 Channel, the nation’s biggest online forum, has come under a growing barrage of criticism over his Web site, but he’s not paying much attention.

Since its creation in 1999, the forum has exploded in popularity. It currently boasts 10 million visitors monthly and brings in hundreds of millions of yen annually in advertising.

The forum’s most distinguishing feature, complete freedom and anonymity for posters, has led to much of its popularity. But it has also led to a pile of lawsuits against Nishimura.

So far, courts have awarded tens of millions of yen in compensation to complainants, but Nishimura has stated on his Internet blog and elsewhere that he has no intention of paying up.

“We are actually all living bound by an incomplete set of rules–you don’t have to pay if you simply refuse to pay. I mean, if I am going to be sentenced to death, I’d probably pay,” Nishimura said after one rare appearance in court.

2 Channel’s anonymity and sheer size have contributed to the site entering the social consciousness in a variety of ways. There was the case of an in-house whistle-blower who blew the lid on illegal company behavior.

And there were the “Densha Otoko” (train man) postings by an anonymous otaku who won his dream girl with the support of his online friends. The modern fairy tale became a book, a TV drama and a movie starring Takayuki Yamada and Miki Nakatani.

But there is a flipside; numerous complaints regarding libelous remarks and invasions of privacy.

The most recent case was after a 17-year-old boy in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, walked into a police station on May 15, saying he had killed his mother. The 2 Channel bulletin board exploded with rumors and information revealing the juvenile’s name.

As soon as the boy was arrested on suspicion of murder, 2 Channel was full of activity. One post said: “Here’s all the information I gathered about ‘–.’ Feel free to add anything that you’ve got.” The boy’s name, the names of the high school he attends and the junior high school he graduated from were all revealed.

Authorities asked 2 Channel moderators to delete 25 postings, stating they violated the Juvenile Law, which bans the publication of information that identifies minors accused of crimes. The request brought little change. In fact, a flurry of additional postings followed.

A Justice Ministry official said once information is posted on the site, it is extremely difficult to keep a lid on the data.

“Once you get written up on 2 Channel, the comments get quoted in other Internet blogs. Requesting deletion becomes an endless cat-and-mouse chase. There would be fewer problems if (the moderator) deleted the offensive post immediately.”

More than 50 lawsuits have been filed against Nishimura at the Tokyo District Court alone since 2001. A company in Tokyo took 2 Channel to court following a slew of postings stating the company was a “den of criminals.” Names of the company board members were posted. The company repeatedly asked that the posts be deleted, but to no avail.

In 2004, the company filed a provisional disposition with the Tokyo District Court. In June that year, 2 Channel was ordered to delete the comments. Nishimura refused to comply.

Two months later, an indirect enforcement was applied, imposing a fine each day until the request is met. Nishimura has refused to pay the fines.

According to 2 Channel’s internal guidelines, “Posts that have been subjected to court rulings will be deleted.” Yet the rule is there in name only.

A group of 300 voluntary self-elected moderators supposedly manage the 2 Channel site. But when it comes to a decision on whether to delete a post, Nishimura said: “If the post is obviously a crime, (it goes). We have our own criteria.”

Under a law enforceable since 2002, victims or Justice Ministry authorities can request a bulletin board’s operator to erase posts considered a civil rights violation and disclose sender information. Still, the request is not enforceable, and noncompliance does not carry penalties. Everything is left to the provider’s discretion.

According to one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, the accumulated fines from indirect enforcement orders has hit at least 430 million yen.

Nishimura has admitted that he draws an annual income of more than 100 million yen.

However, he has no real estate, and it is unclear how much he receives from a company on which he serves as a board member. Collection by seizing assets becomes difficult.(IHT/Asahi: May 29,2007)

ENDS