Quick update from Debito in Tokyo: Blacklist, Sanya, JT

mytest

Hi Blog. Quick update on what’s going on.

Had a great speech last night regarding the BLACKLIST OF JAPANESE UNIVERSITIESat Tokyo University. Attended by several universities (Todai, Hitotsubashidai, Tohokudai, Nagoya, Aizu, some of whom wanted to know why they had been Blacklisted), and some educational institutions. Even the Ministry of Education was to show (informally–that spooked me; I was told to put my Powerpoint presentation in English, but as soon as I heard the MOE would attend, I put it all into Japanese. Wanted it to be taken seriously, after all.) You can download the Powerpoints here:

ENGLISH
http://www.debito.org/todaiblacklist073007.ppt
JAPANESE
http://www.debito.org/todaiblacklistj073007.ppt

Anyway, I’ve extended my Tokyo trip one more day. A friend who is doing research on homeless in Japan and the US has invited me to spend a day in Sanya, where the unfortunates in society lead hand-to-mouth existences. Should be an eye-opener.

I’ll have my thoughts on the election (yes, Abe proved me wrong–the gall!! 🙂 ) after I get home to Sapporo tomorrow. Have to get to work on another Japan Times article next week as well. Hope you enjoyed hearing my voice on the podcasts!

Arudou Debito
FCCJ, Yurakucho, Tokyo
July 31, 2007

TPR: Election Day Prognostications by Arudou Debito

mytest

Hi Blog. Trying to make this as timely as possible:

Trans Pacific Radio put up last night an audio interview with me about how I think today’s Japan Upper House election will turn out.

In sum: I think Abe will have to resign over the poor performance of the LDP in this election. He’s had one of the worst cabinets in Japan’s postwar history, and he’s definitely become a political liability (to the point where at least one poll indicates a majority believe we should have a snap election in the Lower House now too).

(I am of course an armchair observer, not a true politico, but for what it’s worth. You can of course throw Internet raspberries at me within 24 hours if I’m wrong…)

Have a listen at:

http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/07/29/seijigiri-29-seijigiris-election-day-special-with-debito-arudo/

How it’s written up at TPR follows. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Seijigiri #29: Seijigiri’s Election Day Special with Debito Arudou

For our election day special release, Garrett and Ken sat down with Debito Arudou for a quick and dirty discussion (just under 20 minutes) of elections in Japan, what the voting process actually involves, the difference between voting for a party and voting for a candidate, and some speculation on what results we may see from today’s election.

Discussed in this edition of Seijigiri is a recent article by Adam Richards (Upper House Prediction http://www.mutantfrog.com/2007/07/16/upper-house-prediction/) at the Mutant Frog Travelogue.

Seijigiri will be back soon with a rundown and discussion of the election results, as well as the usual analysis into what we should expect to see in Japan’s political scene for the upcoming months…

ENDS

TPR “Last Word” essay on “Why I love Japanese Elections”

mytest

Hi Blog. Got inspired on my way down to Tokyo yesterday, and wrote this on the fly for Trans Pacific Radio. I also read it for TPR as part of its news segment (trying my hand at podcasting there for the first time) for July 27, 2007. Have a listen at

http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/07/27/tpr-news-07-27-07-elections-business-kyoto-protocol/

Some interviews we did for them also coming up (one due out tomorrow on some crystal balling for the elections), so have a look at their site. Arudou Debito in Tokyo.

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The Last Word

Hello Trans Pacific Radio listeners. Arudou Debito from Debito.org here. Okay, I’m going to give you another one of my outlandish opinions. Wouldja expect anything less from me? Here it comes:

I love Japanese elections.

Yeah, I know, there’s a lot to be sick of. Sound truckery full of meaningless platitudes at high volume. Cookie-cutter candidates in thrall to money politics. And an electorate that never seems to throw the bums out.

But I say it again, I love the stuff.

I admit a natural bias. I was a government major in college, and I always found the science of popular appeal to be fascinating. How can you be a man (usually a man) for all seasons, saying as little as possible as many times as possible, and not alienating any potential votes by tailoring your talks to the audience? Especially in other systems (not enough in Japan, I admit) where the press tags along more, to hold candidates’ feet to the fire whenever there are contradictions in their platform.

But the main reason I love hanging around Japanese elections is because I can vote. I’ve voted four times now in national and local elections, and always love to hang around candidates during the only times they’re out of their bolt holes, and want anything to do with you. I mean when they’re speaking, or out cupping hands with the public.

Witness my sociological experiment:

You can’t see me, but I’m a six-foot white boy, aged 42, who is learning how to wear more colorful clothes as I get older. Anyway, whenever I come onto the scene, the reactions are always indicative of what kind of campaign is being run.

Up in Hokkaido, where I’m from, I’ve watched three candidates speak this election. One from the far-right “Shinpuu”, or “New Wind” party. They don’t like foreigners much, as they are the only party out there this election that even mentions public safety as part of their platform. Their handlers, who pass out pamphlets around the trucks, wouldn’t give me one, even after I asked for one. Within character. Burn in hell.

I also saw Ms Tahara, the fabled Ainu candidate, this morning in her sound truck. She’s running under convicted felon Suzuki Muneo’s splinter party. Her handlers gave me a good wave, but she saw me, she quickly averted her glance, and focused her bows and smiles on people she though would be more worth the extra second or two.

Pretty stupid, really, since even if I couldn’t vote (which I can), I might just have family here which I might influence with a bit of bad-mouthing. Bad-mouthing politicians over booze in this country is a national sport, so she’s obviously not professional enough to avoid alienating people.

Then just before I got on the train to the plane down to Tokyo this morning, there was the Social Democratic Party’s Mr Asano stepping down from his sound truck and catching the tail-end of the morning rush. He’s quite left wing, has a clear and emotive campaign stump, and basically hasn’t got a hope in this election.

Ah, so what. I like underdogs, especially when they are on my side of the fence, and actually happened to vote for him yesterday during absentee balloting. So I went up and told him so.

He turned out to be very friendly, especially after I told him I was on facetime terms with party leader Fukushima Mizuho. But more to my liking was that he even knew about the “Japanese Only” Otaru Onsens Case, and recognized me after that. He then said all the things I wanted to hear without a whiff of irony. Five minutes later out of his busy schedule we had exchanged meishi and seen each other off with waves. Godspeed. Glad I wasted my vote on him.

Anyway, the lesson to be learned here: Elections are as inevitable as taxes, and when they’re not, the country is in trouble. So if you have to learn to live with them, learn how to enjoy them.

One thing I suggest you do is to actually wave at the sound trucks. As a veteran of sound trucks myself, I speak from personal experience when I say we really appreciate it. Somebody is paying attention to us. Even if you can’t vote–or rather, especially if they think you can’t vote, the reaction you get is usually priceless.

‘Cos if they don’t wave back, don’t even deign to treat you like a human being, then let others know. Politicians of all people have gotta learn that foreigners are people too. And that some of them, no matter how they look, have got the vote now.

Listen Now:

http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/07/27/tpr-news-07-27-07-elections-business-kyoto-protocol/

ENDS

Yomiuri: Nikkei defecting from DPRK are stateless, have trouble becoming J citizens

mytest

Hi Blog. Here’s another interesting angle to Japan’s funny nationality laws. First we get a person like Alberto Fujimori, who parachutes into Japan on the lam from international law, essentially claims asylum (leaping over the thousands of candidates waiting in line for years to naturalize or become refugees), does a runner to another country on another passport, and gets brought back to run in absentia in this current Japanese election as a candidate. All because of his Japanese blood.

Yet here we have a situation where people also have the same legitimate claim (Japanese blood) and are being denied citizenship anywhere, let alone Japan. All due to the politics of the region. Anyone find any consistency in Japan’s citizenship law application, please try to explain it to me.

Looking forward to this weekend’s election results. If Fujimori actually gets elected, I will, er, well, I don’t know what I will do. Perhaps be speechless for once. Debito in Sapporo

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

24 defectors from DPRK still stateless / Prejudice rife in catch-22 situation
The Yomiuri Shimbun Jun. 13, 2007

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/world/20070613TDY01003.htm
Courtesy Jeff Korpa

At least 24 defectors from North Korea living in Japan remain stateless, largely due to the lack of clear government guidelines on how to determine the nationalities of such defectors, it has been learned.

The statelessness of the 24 people also is a result of each local government having been left to its own devices regarding how to deal with the registration of the foreign defectors.

Observers have pointed out that the North Koreans face discrimination in finding employment and encounter difficulties earning a regular income as long as they remain stateless, hampering their efforts to become naturalized Japanese.

While the number of North Korean defectors living in Japan is rapidly increasing, the government has virtually no support system in place for them, they said. North Koreans have been defecting to Japan since the late 1990s. Many of them fled to China overland, before seeking shelter in the Japanese Consulate General in Shengyang, China.

The government permits Japanese wives of former pro-Pyongyang Korean residents of Japan and their descendants to live in Japan, as they are seen to have relatives here. Many pro-Pyongyang residents emigrated to North Korea in the resident repatriation project from 1959 to 1984. Under the scheme about 93,340 pro-Pyongyang residents in Japan, their Japanese wives and children left for North Korea.

By the end of last year, about 130 defectors were living in Japan, with nine people having entered the country this year, government sources said.

A support group for the defectors interviewed 82 defectors residing in Japan in February and confirmed 24 children and grandchildren of the Japanese wives remain stateless, the group’s official said.

Among the remaining 58 defectors, some Japanese wives reobtained Japanese nationality after they became naturalized citizens. Others gained Korean nationality and later changed to South Korean nationality in most cases.

In 1966, the Justice Ministry issued a notice to municipal governments to describe the nationality of North and South Koreans as Korean when they made their initial application for a foreign registration card. In a 1971 precedent, the nationality of those who were born on the Korean Peninsula stated on foreign registration cards was Korean.

The immigration authorities insist that every municipal government is supposed to follow this precedent. But some municipal government officials said such defectors are recognized as stateless as they do not have passports or any identification documents.

Under the current Nationality Law, Japanese wives of former pro-Pyongyang Korean residents can reobtain Japanese nationality easily, but their children and grandchildren face difficulties in naturalization unless they have sufficient income to support themselves.

(Jun. 13, 2007) ENDS

UN.ORG on pushes to make sure HRC holds all countries accountable

mytest

Hi Blog. The UN News has been issuing press releases to make sure the Human Rights Council doesn’t become as emasculated as the former Human Rights Commission–by holding all countries accountable with periodic reviews of their human rights records.

Good. Japan in particular is particularly remiss, given its quest for a seat on the UNSC without upholding its treaty obligations, particularly regarding Japan’s refusal to pass a law against racial discrimination, and file reports in a timely manner (last report was due the HRC all the way in 2002!). The UN is quite well aware of this, and has been highly critical of Japan’s unfettered racism in recent years. UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene has been well recorded on the Debito.org Blog as well. Debito in Sapporo

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From: UNNews@un.org
Subject: SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES AGREEMENT ON DETAILS OF UN HUMAN RIGHTS REVIEW
Date: June 21, 2007 7:00:24 AM JST
To: news5@secint00.un.org
Reply-To: UNNews@un.org

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES AGREEMENT ON DETAILS OF UN HUMAN RIGHTS REVIEW
New York, Jun 20 2007 6:00PM

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the Human Rights Council’s agreement setting out how its universal periodic review mechanism will work, saying it “sends a clear message” that the rights record of every country faces serious and meaningful examination.

“No country – big or small – will be immune from scrutiny,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement, adding that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other civil society groups need to play an active role in the review to ensure the process works.

“The periodic review holds great promise for opening a new chapter in human rights promotion and underscores the universality of human rights.”

Council members agreed yesterday on the modalities for universal periodic review after several days of marathon discussions. Each year 48 nations, comprising a mixture of Council members and observer States, will be reviewed to assess whether they have fulfilled their human rights obligations.

The modalities were decided as part of a package of new measures and decisions that includes the continuation of the work of Special Rapporteurs and other independent human rights experts.

But in today’s statement, Mr. Ban voiced disappointment at the Council decision to single out Israel as the only specific regional item on its agenda, “given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world.”

The 47-member Council also agreed to end the mandate of the Special Rapporteurs on the situations in Belarus and Cuba, while retaining the other 39 mandates under the so-called “special procedures” system.

Mr. Ban noted “that not having a Special Rapporteur assigned to a particular country does not absolve that country from its obligations under the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and every other human rights treaty.”

The statement from his spokesperson added that the Secretary-General “trusts that members of the Council will take seriously their responsibilities and continue to seek out ways to improve the Council’s work in the months and years ahead.” He also noted that Council members “worked hard to reach consensus on a number of issues.”

Meeting today in Geneva, the Council also adopted resolutions on the situation in Lebanon, the occupied Palestinian territory and Darfur.
2007-06-20 00:00:00.000

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From: UNNews@un.org
Subject: UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL URGED TO KEEP SYSTEM OF INDEPENDENT EXPERTS
Date: June 12, 2007 6:00:23 AM JST
To: news5@secint00.un.org
Reply-To: UNNews@un.org

UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL URGED TO KEEP SYSTEM OF INDEPENDENT EXPERTS
New York, Jun 11 2007 5:00PM

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today urged the Human Rights Council to maintain its system of independent experts and others who shine a spotlight on troubling situations around the world.

Louise Arbour told the Council, meeting in Geneva for the start of its fifth session, that the special procedures system – or the mechanisms, from rapporteurs and experts to working groups, which the Council can use to explore either specific country situations or thematic issues – “represents a critical component in the protection and promotion of human rights.”

She also underscored the importance of the system known as “universal periodic review,” which allows the Council to scrutinize the human rights records of all countries in a regular, rotating manner, predicting it “will develop into a leading instrument” for upholding human rights.

“Reaching an agreement on its framework was not an easy task, but the Council is set to achieve that goal,” she said, urging members to “bring your institution-building efforts to completion.”

The General Assembly resolution that set up the Council last year to replace the discredited Commission on Human Rights agreed that the universal periodic review mechanism must be created by June this year and the special procedures system – kept on from the Commission – must undergo a review during the same period.

Over the course of its current session, Council members will hear from a number of its special rapporteurs and independent experts on country-specific situations and thematic issues, including Belarus, Cambodia, Somalia, adequate housing, judicial independence and the right to food. In addition, the Council’s Expert Group on Darfur is expected to present its report.
2007-06-11 00:00:00.000

Japanese TV drama Hana Yori Dango 2 depicts mugging by NYC blacks

mytest

Hi Blog. Friend Justin just sent me something interesting, from a Japanese TV drama called Hana Yori Dango 2.

On TBS on Friday nights (see information on TBS here and on Wikipedia here), it’s apparently popular enough to spawn sequels and special shows (although I wouldn’t know–I don’t watch Japanese dramas any more for the most part, as I find them low-budget hammed-up affairs with contrived plots).

But one segment is of interest to Debito.org:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9WQMEsH1xU

This has all the elements I really dislike about J dramas: Hammy acting (the protagonist’s voice is high and squeaky enough throughout that I wouldn’t bring any wine glasses near her), contrived plots (someone the protagonist asks on the street for help gets offended when she says “I am a bus” and walks away; yeah, right), and bargain-basement (more money was spent on the “Japan-nightclub-host” styled hero’s clothes and shoes than on the camera crew, it would seem). Even the gun used is an obvious squirt pistol, yet it scares away the muggers. Yeah, right again.

But what gets me is not just the stereotypes of crime in NYC: It’s the fact that all the criminals are black (from the bag snatcher to the gang of four), using random profane jive talking, and assailing our heroine with a basketball (yes, a basketball, with added sound effect when it hits her).

Why isn’t this worthy of assigning to the scrapheap of bad Japanese TV? Because you just know that if an American TV show were to do this sort of thing–make all the [fill in the blank] into Asians, Chinese, or Japanese (with accents or stereotypical features to boot)–there would be complaints from either the local anti-defamation leagues or even the Japanese embassy (cf. New York Senator Alphonse D’Amato making fun of Judge Lance Ito’s Japanese ethnicity in 1995–Time Magazine Monday May 18, 1995).

And definitely a brouhaha on 2-Channel about how the West is oh so racist towards us Japanese, even sometimes used as an excuse to justify racism in Japan as a form of tit-for-tat (by people who would rather explain away rather than run a self-diagnostic and change their behavior).

So fire with fire. If you feel like raising awareness about something like this, here are the contact details for TBS:

http://www.tbs.co.jp/contact/
Ph: 03-3746-6666
email: opinion@best.tbs.co.jp
https://cgi.tbs.co.jp/ppshw/contact/0074/enquete.do

I don’t know the broadcast date for this segment, but if you describe the scene, your point would probably sufficiently be made.

FWIW, Debito in Sapporo
——————-

UPDATE: JUST TALKED TO TBS’S SHINSA BU (審査部) MR KATOU ( 03-5571-2265)ABOUT THE ISSUE. HAD A NICE CHAT. HE’LL PASS IT ON TO THE PRODUCERS OF THE PROGRAM AND WILL GET BACK TO ME IF THERE’S ANY FEEDBACK. DEBITO

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UPDATE TWO JULY 25: MR KATOU CALLED ME YESTERDAY AFTERNOON (JULY 24) TO SAY HE’D TALKED WITH THE PRODUCER IN CHARGE OF THE SHOW, A MR SETOGUCHI. HE SAID THAT HE SAID THE SHOW WAS UNAWARE OF THE POSSIBLE IMPLICATIONS OF THAT PORTRAYAL OF BLACK PEOPLE AS CRIMINALS, AND WERE GRATEFUL TO RECEIVE THIS FEEDBACK ON IT. THEY SAID THEY WOULD TAKE CARE ABOUT THAT SORT OF THING IN FUTURE.

WHEN I ASKED HOW PEOPLE WHO WERE COMMUNICATIONS PROFESSIONALS WITH A DECENT ENOUGH EDUCATION LIKE MR SETOGUCHI COULD NOT SEE THOSE POSSIBLE IMPLICATIONS IN ADVANCE THEMSELVES, MR KATOU GAVE ME A THOROUGH BUT ESSENTIALLY LAME EXCUSE ABOUT HOW PEOPLE WHEN THEY GO OVERSEAS TO FILM KINDA FORGET THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT. MY READ IS THAT TBS DIDN’T THINK ANYONE WOULD FIND FAULT WITH THE PORTRAYAL (HOW MANY NJ WOULD WATCH THEIR SHOW, AFTER ALL?) I SAID I HOPED OUR FEEDBACK WOULD CAUSE SOME AWARENESS RAISING WITHIN TBS, AND HE SAID IT WOULD.

OKAY, THAT’S ABOUT AS GOOD A REPLY AS WE’RE PROBABLY GOING TO GET. NOT A WASTE OF TIME. THANKS TBS. UPGRADING THIS TOPIC TO AN ANTI-DISCRIMINATION TEMPLATE. DEBITO

J Times: Ogata Sadako on J refugee policy

mytest

Hi Blog. Revealing interview of a person trained to be diplomatic at all times… Debito in Sapporo

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Sadako Ogata was the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees from 1991-2001, and has been President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) since 2003. Here, she talks frankly to The Japan Times about Japan’s attitudes to those who flee their homelands and seek sanctuary on these shores.

REFUGEES AND JAPAN
Diplomat rues Tokyo’s ‘lack of humanity’ to asylum-seekers
By JEFF KINGSTON
The Japan Times: Sunday, July 8, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070708x1.html
Courtesy of Matt Dioguardi

Are there signs of progress in the grim situation facing asylum-seekers in Japan?

From 1979-89, when the Indochina refugee issue was hot [after the Vietnam War], there was a lot of energy and effort focused on refugees and resettling them in Japan. In 1979, I was asked to lead a mission to the Thai-Cambodian border. It was the first time I saw a massive refugee outflow and presence. At that time Japan pledged to provide half the funding for the UNHCR Indochina refugee program. That was the first big step Japan took toward helping the Indochina refugees. In addition, Japan agreed to accept an initial 500 refugees for resettlement, and in the next year the number went up to 10,000.

In the early 1980s, Japan’s economy was rising and it faced rising expectations for shouldering some of the burdens — and it lived up to those expectations. It would be interesting to examine the outcomes for the Indochina refugees. I think there are some good stories there that would reassure the public about the consequences of accepting refugees.

In 1981, Japan also became a signatory to the 1951 U.N. Convention on Refugees, but then the numbers of refugees accepted went way down. Japan’s approach to refugees under the Convention has been very reserved. This may come back to haunt Japan if there is a crisis on the Korean Peninsula. Will other countries help with resettling large numbers of North Korean refugees — or only provide financial assistance?

Critics argue that Japan is guilty of checkbook diplomacy — contributing significant funding but accepting so few refugees. Is this a fair assessment?

Yes, that is accurate to a degree, but at the same time there were not that many asylum-seekers landing in Japan after the Indochina crisis. Since Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention in 1989 by the military regime in Myanmar, there has been an increase in Burmese asylum-seekers — and more recently from Afghanistan — but it has not been a massive outflow. Individual cases are considered and there the Japanese tendency for a meticulous judicial approach, asking for complete documentation that most refugees don’t have, came to dominate refugee reception policies. It has been a very legalistic approach showing no humanitarian sense to those who had to flee.

Is that changing?

Every year I would come and lobby Justice Ministry officials about their policy toward refugees, but I don’t think there was that much progress. Maybe I should have worked harder on Japan, but I was so busy with millions of people globally, whereas in Japan they were only trickling in. Maybe I should have been more firm. I don’t think it was just checkbook diplomacy — there were also lots of Japanese volunteers who came to help with the refugees, and efforts by NGOs, maybe not on a large scale, but still significant.

In terms of asylum, Japan has not been the best humanitarian country. Japan is not a refugee power in global terms — refugees go where they know they will be received and can find support. From Japanese officials’ perspective, the fewer that came the better. The government thinks of this as taigan no kaji (fire on the opposite riverbank), in the sense that it is not an immediate crisis situation facing Japan.

What are the diplomatic costs of Japan’s restrictive policy toward refugees?

The costs, unfortunately, are not so high. Everywhere the door is closing against refugees. Look at the United States and Europe — the commitment to helping refugees is fading, and that means that Japan will not suffer much criticism for its policy. So I don’t think that Japan’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council will be harmed by its poor record on refugees.

Are government policies and attitudes improving?

Groups of lawyers have been very devoted to helping asylum-seekers and have exposed weaknesses in the legal system regarding asylum-seekers. At least they made some changes and expanded the appeal process and brought in some outsiders including some NGO people to hear the appeals. So in that sense there has been a slight improvement. And now they have added a category of humanitarian consideration (asylum-seekers who are not recognized as Convention refugees but are still allowed to stay in the country). There are more cases of asylum-seekers being awarded humanitarian status than refugee status.

Within JICA [the Japan International Cooperation Agency] a group was organized to help Ali Jane, an ethnic Hazara from Afghanistan, and (it) published a book — “Mother I Am Still Alive” — and my colleagues actually found his mother. There are good stories of real humanitarian consideration. Not everybody is cruel, but the legal process is less than what I would like to see.

The Justice Ministry says it doesn’t want to get ahead of public attitudes, and the Japanese people are not ready for an influx of refugees.

They are very strict. In my discussions with them there is rarely any reference to humanitarian considerations.

What is the logic of Japan’s exclusionary policy?

This is a very bureaucratic country. Bureaucrats think they know what is best and act in the name of the people. NPOs have a much freer way of thinking and promote closer contact with people of other countries. Things are opening up a bit. However, there is still the myth of one race and homogeneity, even though it is slowly fading. Globalization is slowly undermining these wrong assumptions.

Isn’t there a disconnect between the demographic time bomb and attitudes toward refugees?

Japan’s need for foreign labor is changing the context of the debate over migrants. And civil society is also playing a role. If we leave it to the natural flow of asylum-seekers, they won’t come to Japan unless there is a huge crisis on the Korean Peninsula — but we need foreign labor and a more open society.

Should the UNHCR think of more resettlement efforts like those with the Indochinese refugees?

Yes. Japan had a good experience with the Indochinese refugees and accepted more than 10,000 in the end. Perhaps it would help if Japan worked with UNHCR and set up a quota and opened up the country to bring some people out for resettlement. The U.S. had a quota of over 100,000, which came down to 80,000 during my tenure, and under the Bush administration it has become much smaller. But there are currently negotiations about giving asylum to Bhutanese in Nepal and/or Karens out of Myanmar who are in border camps in Thailand. There is screening going on. The question is whether Japan might also participate in this resettlement project and respond to this humanitarian crisis in Asian countries. Some kind of resettlement program seems likely, and discussion between the UNHCR and the Japanese government is ongoing. I expect this will start on a small scale.

What are the prospects for Japan accepting more refugees?

Prolonged recession has undermined the context for reception of foreigners, and Japan has a poor record on integrating foreign workers properly. It is hard for the public, media and government to differentiate between the mixture of refugees, economic migrants and criminals seeking entry. And very often there are those who blame crime on illegal foreign people. There are plenty of Japanese committing crimes but foreigners are easy targets. And we have more than 300,000 Brazilians of Japanese origin and their situation has not been very good. The problem is that Japan has had an open approach to receiving many foreigners, for example “entertainers,” rather than refugees . . . but keeping people out doesn’t always assure your security.

The Japanese government has been reluctant to criticize Myanmar, but in the last 10 years the largest number of asylum-seekers gaining refugee status have been from Myanmar. By recognizing them as refugees, is the government acknowledging that the military junta is repressive and that these people are being persecuted?

It is a very repressive regime and a political signal is being sent. There are historical reasons for Japan’s sympathy for the Burmese dating back to World War II — and especially since the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi.

How could the UNHCR be more effective resettling refugees in Japan?

Of all international agencies here, the UNHCR is the only one that has to deal primarily with the Justice Ministry, and it should maintain good and close working relations with that ministry. The UNHCR advocates for non-nationals, while the Justice Ministry sees its role as protecting Japanese nationals, and this collides with humanitarian considerations. It’s not just Japan, the UNHCR has had similar problems in Europe. Germany was the country I visited most frequently because they received a lot of refugees, and there were many problems. This is the job of the UNHCR, but it doesn’t have to be confrontational. Emphasizing and improving legal procedures, while bringing humanitarian considerations into the discussion, is most effective. This is the role of the UNHCR.

How do you regard the Refugee Film Festival?

It is one of the better efforts of the UNHCR in awareness raising. It certainly touches a lot of people and reaches out to those who did not have much knowledge of, or interest in, refugee issues. I was especially touched by the film “Live and Become.”

Any final thoughts?

The Justice Ministry’s strict policies are not the whole story. There are other government officials who are concerned and trying to improve things, and lawyers and NGOs are also working toward creating better conditions. The time is coming when the Justice Ministry becomes fully involved to solve refugee problems in proper and humane ways.

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

Two weeks after our interview, Dr. Ogata’s staff informed me that she was infuriated and deeply disappointed by the June 11 decision of Justice Minister Jinen Nagase to ignore a Tokyo High Court ruling recognizing the refugee status of the Afghan asylum-seeker Ali Jane. She and her staff at JICA had taken a personal interest in the plight of this ethnic Hazara who narrowly avoided deportation from the Ushiku Detention Center in Ibaraki Prefecture. Freshmen JICA staff, hearing about this story from a lawyer who participated in their orientation program, researched Ali Jane’s history and published a book that went into three printings, selling some 21,000 copies. Five years ago, he applied for refugee status, but was turned down by the Justice Ministry. He then pursued his case in the courts and seemingly prevailed in the appeal process. However, Justice Minister Nagase decided against granting him refugee status and instead awarded him a special status visa, apparently because he is married to a Japanese woman.

The Japan Times: Sunday, July 8, 2007

ENDSA

Niigata Quake becoming opportunity for J and NJ to help one another

mytest

Hi Blog. One of my Newsletter readers asked yesterday if I ever have any good news to report. Sure. Here’s some even from a tragic situation. Both articles courtesy of Matt Dioguardi at The Community:

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

Quake help for foreigners

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 18, 2007

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20070718TDY02001.htm

The Niigata prefectural government’s International Affairs Division is offering consultation services for foreign residents affected by Monday’s earthquake.

Help is available in Chinese, English, Korean and Russian by telephone or by e-mail.

Call (025) 280-5098 or e-mail ngt000130@pref.niigata.lg.jp

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

Excellent. Thanks to Niigata Prefecture for acknowledging the existence of a NJ community and offering help.

The media is also reporting on NJ returning the favor:

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

Quake-hit Chinese students help other evacuees in Niigata

Yahoo News Wednesday July 18, 2007 2:53 PM

http://asia.news.yahoo.com/070718/kyodo/d8qerigg1.html

(Kyodo) _ Students from China’s Inner Mongolia who are staying at a community center in Niigata Prefecture after Monday’s deadly earthquake are helping other evacuated people there, especially the elderly, by bringing them water from a nearby elementary school.

On Wednesday morning, 11 students studying at Niigata Sangyo University in Kashiwazaki, including members of the university’s Mongolian wrestling club, drew water from a swimming pool at the Biwajima elementary school with buckets mainly for nine portable toilets set up at the Biwajima community center.

The six male and five female students walked through a residential area in the city for about 300 meters where water supply has stopped since the earthquake. They poured the water into the toilets’ tanks after returning to the community center.

“We thank them for the voluntary help. They were ready to come forward to do work such as moving water which requires muscle power,” said city government official Kiyohiro Naito, who is overseeing the community center.

The city on the Sea of Japan coast is one of the areas hit hardest by the quake, which killed nine people, injured nearly 1,100 and forced more than 10,000 to be evacuated from their homes in the prefecture alone.

A shortage of water — both for drinking and daily purposes such as keeping portable toilets clean — has been a problem for people in Kashiwazaki.

“We’re doing this with gratitude for people in Kashiwazaki,” said a third-year student in the university’s school of economics who identified himself only as Eerduncang. The 29-year-old is one of the university’s Mongolian wrestling club members.

He said he never experienced an earthquake before coming to Japan in April 2005.

“I was so scared by the earthquake. Right after that, I had many problems, for example, where I should be and how to get food and drink. Here, I have the feeling of safety,” he said.

The students from Inner Mongolia were among some 160 people evacuated on Monday to the community center, which was one of some 70 evacuation centers set up in the city after the quake.

About 150 students from Inner Mongolia are studying at the university in the current academic year, with some 50 of them ending up at the community center.

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

Bravo indeed. Great precedents. Debito in Sapporo

UCLA basketball player naturalizes for J olympic team

mytest

Hi Blog. Here’s one way to avoid the accusation that foreigners in Japanese sports make events too boring: J.R. Sakuragi, a former NBA player known as J.R. Henderson, has become a Japanese citizen and will play for the Japan National Team in the FIBA Asian Championship, to qualify for the Olympics… Read on. Congrats, JR. Debito

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

Former UCLA player gets Japanese citizenship, spot on national hoops team
Japan Times Tuesday, July 17, 2007
By KAZ NAGATSUKA Staff writer

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/sk20070717a1.html
Courtesy of TT

Most fans are probably not familiar with this name: J.R. Sakuragi. But if they hear the name J.R. Henderson, that may ring a bell.

As the FIBA Asia Championship begins on July 28, the 12-man Japan National Team roster for the tournament was finalized and Sakuragi, who has recently acquired Japanese citizenship, found his name on it.

Sakuragi, a 203-cm forward, is expected to be a big presence in the paint for Team Japan in the upcoming Asia Championship in Tokushima, which will be the region’s qualifier for next year’s Beijing Olympics.

“This player had applied for the citizenship a long time ago, but it wasn’t permitted so soon,” said Japan coach Kimikazu Suzuki at a news conference after the team’s open workout and farewell ceremony for the Olympic qualifier at Yoyogi Gymnasium Annex on Monday.

According to Suzuki, Sakuragi finally received the citizenship on July 2.

Suzuki said that he did not know if Sakuragi would get the citizenship in time for the tournament, but had asked him to train to keep him in shape.

Sakuragi, a native of Bakersfield, Calif., played his college ball at powerhouse UCLA, where he was a member of the team that won the 1995 NCAA title. After averaging 14.2 points per game in his four-year career at the school, Sakuragi was a second-round draft choice, the 56th overall pick, of the Vancouver Grizzlies (now Memphis) in the 1998 NBA Draft. He played in Vancouver for one season.

The 30-year-old arrived in Japan in 2001 to play for the Aisin Seahorses of the JBL Super League. He’s spent the past five seasons with the team. Last season, he averaged 21.5 points and 11.6 rebounds per game.

“He’s been here for a long time,” said Suzuki, who also coaches Aisin. “So he knows how other Japanese players play well enough and he was able to be part of the national team in training without any problem.”

As a provisional team, Suzuki’s squad started its training for the Olympic qualifier in April, with the same core group of players. So there is anxiety whether Sakuragi will fit in on the squad before the Asia Championship despite his unquestionable ability as a player.

But Suzuki and other players think there are more positives by adopting Sakuragi than negatives.

“With (Sakuragi) being inside and getting the ball more, we’ll be able to create more space outside,” said captain Kenichi Sako, a veteran guard.

“Also, the degree of reliance on scoring inside will raise. And he can play in a transition game and passes the ball. This is his first training camp (Friday through Monday), though, he has already made some changes in our rhythm.”

Sakuragi, looking a bit nervous at Monday’s workout and ceremony, had to immediately leave the arena without talking to the media, but released a statement, saying, “I’m pleased. I’ve been here for six years and have had so much respect for the Japanese people. It was a huge decision for me, but (I) came to this after consulting with my parents and wife.”

With the participation of Sakuragi, center Shunsuke Ito, of the Toshiba Brave Thunders, has been left off the team.

Team Japan will try to capture the first berth in an Olympics since the 1976 Montreal Games in the July 28 to Aug. 5 tournament, in which only one nation will get an automatic berth in the Olympics.

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 20, 2007

mytest

Hello All. I’m far behind in my newsletters (I usually update the Debito.org blog once a day, scrunching this newsletter to about seven items), with a coupla weeks’ worth of stuff piling up. So this is a fat one, sorry.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 20, 2007
Contents:

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1) BLACKLIST UPDATES: HOKKAI GAKUEN & CHUUGOKU U. ICU GREENLISTED
2) JAPAN TIMES: LABOR ABUSES AT AKITA INT’L UNIVERSITY
3) YOMIURI: MOJ BARS NIKKEI BRAZILIAN FROM VOLUNTEER POLICE WORK
4) J WEDDING FUNDS OFF-LIMITS TO FOREIGNERS, er, NON-FAMILY MEMBERS
5) JAPAN’S ODD TOURISM POLICY: YOKOSO JAPAN AND MONEY LAUNDERING
6) TPR ON KYUUMA, CUMINGS ON DPRK, TAWARA ON EDUCATION LAW
7) JAPAN FOCUS ON AMENDMENTS TO BASIC LAW OF EDUCATION
8) FOREIGN POLICY MAG ON GOJ AND CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM

and finally…
9) UPCOMING SPEECH AT TOKYO UNIVERSITY ON UNIV. BLACKLIST, MONDAY, JULY 30
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
http://www.debito.org, debito@debito.org
Freely forwardable
Updates in real time at http://www.debito.org/index.php

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

1) BLACKLIST UPDATES: HOKKAI GAKUEN & CHUUGOKU U. ICU GREENLISTED

The Blacklist of Japanese Universities (http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html), where listed institutions have a history of offering unequal contracted work (not permanent “academic tenure”) to its full-time faculty (usually foreign faculty), has just been updated for the season.

Joining the 100 universities blacklisted are two new entrants, as follows (excerpts):

==============================================
NAME OF UNIVERSITY: Hokkai Gakuen University (Private)
LOCATION: 4-1-40 Asahimachi, Toyohira-ku, Sapporo

EMPLOYMENT ABUSE: Nonrenewable 3 year contract for “position for a full-time native speaker of instructor of EFL”. Required to teach 10 lessons per week Monday to Saturday 9am – 9pm. Classes may include content-based EFL as well as all levels of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Materials development and other program-related activities will also be included in the duties. (Basically, you are required to do everything they ask). They expect a MA or PhD and in return offer a dead-end position offering a mere 4.4 million yen salary per year (NB: the actual salary figure was then removed from the job advertisement after the university was blacklisted; as if nondisclosure made it all better). Yet they also offer a similar position in the same department in Japanese with permanent non-contracted tenure and without any requirement of a PhD. Which means they keep qualified foreigners disposable and tenure less-qualified Japanese. Sounds like a truly egalitarian place to work. Not.

SOURCE OF INFORMATION: JREC-IN website job advertisement (http://jrecin.jst.go.jp/seek/SeekTop?fn=1&ln=1,*DATA NUMBER : D107070218). Human Science Jobs – Advertised on July 7th 2007, then revised on July 17, 2007 (after this blacklisting) to dishonestly remove the actual salary figure.
==============================================
All links to source materials above at
http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html#hokkaigakuen

The more amazing thing about this already egregious Blacklist entry is that the coordinator at HGU for this position, a person by the name of B. Bricklin “Brick” Zeff, is a foreigner (even Program Chair for JALT Hokkaido). Toadies, or images of tigers eating their young, spring to mind. Comments to bbrick@peace.email.ne.jp or bbzeff@hguweb.org.

Next entry:
==============================================
NAME OF UNIVERSITY: Chugoku Gakuen University and Junior College (Private)
LOCATION: Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture

EMPLOYMENT ABUSE: “Chugoku Gakuen has discriminated against its native speaking English teachers for many years… Neither myself nor my two immediate predecessors were able to attain working conditions on a par with the Japanese faculty. Academic credentials, publications, experience, and student evaluations have had no bearing on our position… and now, after seven one-year contracts, have been presented with a terminal contract… I have been refused promotion from lecturer to assistant professor although most other faculty are promoted after three years and generally become associate professor after five. The most recent reason is that since my Japanese is weak I cannot be on committees. Strangely enough I have been on one committee for the past seven years. I was also told repeatedly that my Japanese skills or lack thereof was not a problem, and when I offered to attend classes if that would help my situation I was told directly by the president at the time that I would never change salary or position no matter what level Japanese proficiency I attained. This year I did receive a salary increase (roughly 2% per annum if factored over my period of employment), but this came with the terminal contract. It is worth stating that my two predecessors were capable Japanese speakers and faced the same barriers as myself. The school is now involved in an ongoing labor dispute with me and my union (EWA). The school has become a hotbed of cronyism since a new president entered the picture last year. To the disgruntlement and amazement of many faculty members, he has appointed a friend with almost no teaching experience and publications as a full professor. This is only one of the many positions filled without open competition or public posting of open positions…”

SOURCE OF INFORMATION: Richard “Cabby” Lemmer, faculty member at that institution.
==============================================
http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html#chuugokugakuen

But there is some good news, a diamond in the rough:

GREENLIST OF JAPANESE UNIVERSITIES
==============================================
NAME OF UNIVERSITY: International Christian University (Kokusai Kirisuto Kyou Daigaku) (Private)
LOCATION: Mitaka, near Tokyo

GOOD EMPLOYMENT PRACTICE: Has many tenured Non-Japanese faculty, and also a functional tenure review process for those full-timers on contracts to eventually become tenured faculty.

SOURCE OF INFORMATION: A personal on-site investigation by the Blacklist Moderator, Arudou Debito, who met with several ICU faculty and Dean William Steele in April 2007, who substantiated the above. NOTE: ICU was for many years on the Blacklist, but has become the first university in the decade-long history of the Blacklist to not only be Greenlisted, but be permanently removed from the Blacklist as well. Congratulations, and thanks for your cooperation.
==============================================
http://www.debito.org/greenlist.html#icu

Thanks ICU. But there are still people out there who climb and then pull up the ladder behind them.

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

2) JAPAN TIMES ON LABOR ABUSES AT AKITA INT’L UNIVERSITY

More labor abuses coming out at Gregory Clark’s Akita International University (he’s vice president, after all; see his nice welcoming message to the world at http://www.aiu.ac.jp/cms/index.php?id=61). AIU’s shenanigans on the BLACKLIST OF JAPANESE UNIVERSITIES:

==========================================
NAME OF UNIVERSITY: Akita International University (Private)
LOCATION: 193-2 Okutsubakidai, Yuwa, Tsubakigawa, Akita-City, Akita

EMPLOYMENT ABUSE: Despite wanting PhDs (or the equivalent) for faculty, AIU offers 3-year contracted positions with no mention of any possibility of tenure, plus a heavy workload (10 to 15 hours per week, which means the latter amounts to 10 koma class periods), a four-month probationary period, no retirement pay, and job evaluations of allegedly questionable aims. In other words, conditions that are in no visible way different from any other gaijin-contracting “non-international university” in Japan. Except for the lack of retirement pay.

SOURCE OF INFORMATION: Job advertisement in the Chronicle of Higher Education, dated September 2, 2006…
http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html#aiu
==========================================

In response to the blacklisting, Greg did his typical defense of the indefensible (his latest column even defends his friend, the late former PM Miyazawa, and his corruption in the Recruit Scandal: “…that nonscandal was simply an attempt by the Recruit company to make sure its issues of new shares went into the hands of responsible people it liked rather than the usual collection of gangsters, speculators and corrupt securities companies…”). Using his guaranteed bully pulpit in the Japan Times Letters Page, here’s how he defends AIU, even if it is tangential to the issue at hand:

==========================================
Japan Times Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006
READERS IN COUNCIL: Zealots who attack their critics
(excerpt)
By GREGORY CLARK, Vice President, Akita International University

A.E. Lamdon’s Dec. 3 letter, “As alike as they are different,” which is a response to my criticisms of Japan’s rightwingers, would be reasonable if Lamdon himself did not seek to defend a group here in Japan that goes to extreme lengths to criticize those, such as myself, who oppose its self-promoting efforts to harass and file antidiscrimination suits against small Japanese business proprietors in areas where badly behaved foreigners have caused serious business losses…

The group has recently sought to blacklist the university that employs me, claiming it discriminates against foreign teachers. Akita International University has the highest ratio of foreign to Japanese teachers of any university in Japan. Unlike any other university in Japan, it employs both foreigners and Japanese teachers on exactly the same contractual conditions leading to possible tenure. In the past the university rescued a large group of foreign teachers from unemployment when their former employer pulled out of Japan. And this is supposed to be antiforeigner discrimination? It is time someone stood up to zealots who use the banner of antidiscrimination to attack critics and to promote themselves.
==========================================
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/rc20061217a2.html

Well, as they say, a zealot is someone who won’t change his mind. And won’t change the subject. Maybe even go so far as to fabricate information (http://www.debito.org/gregoryclarkfabricates.html) if necessary.

Anyway, the Japan Times Community Page ran an expose on the situation at an unnamed (guess why) university last week. I have been advised by the author that I can (and should) indicate that the uni is AIU. Here’s an excerpt:

==========================================
A few years ago I was given a pay cut at my last university for political reasons. I had asked the university president, in a one-page private letter, to consider replacing the Hinomaru Japanese flag flying in front of the university with an Earth flag, partly because the university was always squawking about how international they are, and partly because faculty were invited to share any ideas and concerns with our “open-minded” president. So when he told me the reasons for a 10-percent pay cut included my opposition to the Iraq war, and the “flag letter,” and ended my evaluation meeting wagging his finger saying, “You should love the Japanese flag,” I was shocked, but didn’t know where to turn. Suing seemed a long shot.

Two years later this same president made a dramatic declaration to the faculty, informing us that none of our renewable contracts would be renewed. Instead, we would have to reapply and fight for our jobs via open recruitment. However, what we didn’t know then was that the directors and several favored faculty members had been “blown kisses”–promised jobs and told to keep the fact secret. When the dust settled, 12 faculty members had just reason to seek compensation for breach of contract, out of whom 10 banded together–all nonunion foreigners–to speak with a local union rep….

Thus, in this era of short term contracts, temporary jobs, and political shifts to the right, workers, foreign or otherwise, should remember they have rights and their employer has responsibilities. Unions, which only exist due to the support of their members, can point workers the way to “assen” mediation, a special labor disputes court, and, if those time and money saving options fail, can provide a union lawyer and sue the most unscrupulous of employers.
==========================================
http://www.debito.org/?p=491

Article also includes some lessons about what you can do about employers of this ilk.
Suggest you stay away from these places if you are looking for a job.

Meanwhile, other jobs remain closed to foreigners:

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3) YOMIURI: MOJ BARS NIKKEI BRAZILIAN FROM VOLUNTEER POLICE WORK

Justice Ministry exercising its typical administrative guidance–in this case making sure foreigners never exercise any power over Japanese. That includes NJ helping police their own, I guess. Just can’t trust NJ, no longer how long they’ve been here (below, the person denied a volunteer job has been in Japan sixteen years). Excerpt follows:

===========================================
MINISTRY: BRAZILIAN CAN’T BE PROBATION OFFICER
Yomiuri Shimbun July 8, 2007

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20070708TDY02008.htm

SHIZUOKA The Shizuoka Probation Office has given up its bid to appoint a second-generation Brazilian of Japanese descent as a probation officer after it received a Justice Ministry opinion indicating that foreigners may not be commissioned to exercise public authority…

Probation officers are part-time, unpaid central government officials entrusted by the justice minister. The ministry said it is “problematic” to commission foreign residents as probation officers because some of their responsibilities involve exercising public authority.

About 50,000 Brazilian of Japanese descent live in Shizuoka Prefecture… Among the cities in the prefecture, Hamamatsu is home to 20,000 Brazilians of Japanese descent–the nation’s largest number–and delinquency by Brazilian youth has become a problem. Language barriers pose a hurdle when it comes to support the rehabilitation of delinquent young Brazilians.

In an attempt to tackle the problem, the Shizuoka Probation Office in April asked karate school operator Tetsuyoshi Kodama, a second-generation Brazilian of Japanese descent who is experienced in dealing with non-Japanese youths, to become a probation officer… But when the probation office contacted the Justice Ministry’s Rehabilitation Bureau to get approval for Kodama’s appointment, the ministry rejected the idea…

According to the ministry’s Rehabilitation Bureau, it provided the opinion based on the opinion of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau in which Japanese citizenship is required for public servants who exercise public authority and make decisions that affect the public…

Masataka Inomata, head of the Shizuoka Federation of Volunteer Probation Officers Associations, said: “Besides myself, there’s only one other probation officer who can speak Portuguese in the prefecture. It’s difficult to build trust with youths through a third party.”
===========================================
http://www.debito.org/?p=490

Case refers to the Nationality Clause and the Chong Hyang Gyun Lawsuit defeat. Even though many local governments are now abolishing their Nationality Clause requirements. Just goes to show how closed-minded the MOJ is determined to be, even if it means they remove one means to deal with NJ/youth crime (which it has no problems citing as a scourge).

Speaking of other obstacles to integrating into Japan, here’s a novel one:

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4) J WEDDING FUNDS OFF-LIMITS TO FOREIGNERS, er, NON-FAMILY MEMBERS:

This just in the other day from a friend, who is about to get married. Then he hit a major snag:

The couple had everything ready to go–working through a major wedding planner in Tokyo (“Take and Give Needs”) and sending out invites to hundreds of guests–and were ready to take out a loan from an affiliated finance company (“Life Angel”). When up came the brick wall:

For any loan over 100 man yen, Life Angel required three Guarantors (hoshounin). In much the same way that you would if you were, say, renting an apartment. Fine. He secured three Guarantors, all Japanese, all stable income earners and upstanding members of society. Would be no problem for a housing loan or rental.

But then Life Angel suddenly threw up another barrier midway: Those Guarantors must be family members, within “three levels of relatives” (sanshintou inai no shinseki).

My friend is not a Japanese–he’s a Western immigrant. Which means he has no family here. But his fiance has Japanese citizenship. Unfortunately, she’s an immigrant too, a naturalized former Chinese citizen. Which means she has no family here either.

So now with a month and change to go before the big day, and investments in time and invites already made, their wedding went into underfunded limbo.

According to my friend, Life Angel loan company has justified this policy by arguing that weddings are family affairs. Therefore securing family members as Guarantors is not odd.

Disagree. Here’s what’s odd:

It not only excludes the growing number of Immigrants into Japanese society (who can’t always transplants successful families over here as well), but also excludes those Japanese who don’t have families in Japan either.

How about orphans, or people marrying later in life whose older, more established relatives have passed on? How about those who don’t get along with their families, and otherwise aren’t in a position to ask them to be Guarantors?

Look, confining Guarantors to family members isn’t necessary for life’s other big financial decisions, such as mortgages, auto loans, or rental agreements. If it did, we’d have a lot more homeless and carless people. So why a wedding?

It seems even more arbitrary when you realize that a marriage in Japan does not even require that families legally witness the act. The Kon’in Todoke only requires two adult Witnesses (shounin) sign on. They can be anybody, as long as they’re adults.

So what’s with Life Angel’s rules? Especially so far into the game for my friend, who can’t switch tracks to another wedding chapel now? So much for Life Angel’s “100% wedding ceremony” slogan. Suggest you don’t tie the knot through them.

Substantiation and documentation at
http://www.debito.org/?p=484

Life Angel KK reachable at:
http://www.lifeangel.co.jp/
Tokyo to Minato-ku Nishi Azabu 4-12-24, Kouwa Nishi Azabu Bldg. 4F
0120-69-8515, 03-5469-8515, Fax: 03-5469-8658
email: info@lifeangel.co.jp

My friend has since secured a loan through his bank (the one which granted him his mortgage). But he shouldn’t have had to. Speaking of other silly rules:

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

5) JAPAN’S ODD TOURISM POLICY: YOKOSO JAPAN AND MONEY LAUNDERING

First, Terrie’s Take’s fascinating look at Japan’s tourism industry:

===========================================
TERRIE’S TAKE by Terrie Lloyd
General Edition Sunday, June 17, 2007 Issue No. 425
(http://www.terrie.com)

…The government department in charge of increasing tourism was the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport, which came up with the Yokoso Japan campaign. We fired arrows in Terrie’s Take at the campaign when it was first announced, not least of which because “Yokoso” means nothing to anyone who doesn’t speak Japanese–i.e., 95% of tourists. The bureaucrats had a field day telling the Japanese public how they had this great plan, but then the reality was that they allocated a trifling amount, we heard a budget of just JPY350m, for marketing and chose Dentsu over a number of better qualified foreign firms to conduct the campaign. As a result, most of the Yokoso campaign has been little more than local ads, in Japanese! Compare the piffling JPY350m with Hawaii’s tourism marketing budget of US$38m (JPY4.5bn) a year, and you start to realize that the Japanese government has no idea how to go about the task of increasing visitor numbers.

Despite the government’s cheapskate efforts to focus marketing on countries they think tourists should come from: mainly the USA, UK, and other western nations, the number of visitors has in fact surprisingly been rising –but from countries receiving very little attention (with the possible exception of Korea)–Japan’s nearest neighbors…
===========================================
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=468

Meanwhile, dovetailing with this issue:

ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING MEASURES SNAG TOURISTS WITH TRAVELLER’S CHECKS

Debito.org’s been cc-ed in correspondence from complete strangers (all blogged at http://www.debito.org/?p=482), with more phooey on Japan’s vaunted YOKOSO JAPAN campaign:

According to the University of Kentucky’s Professor Stradford, tourists who need to cover a midsize a sum as USD 1000 in costs are suspected of being money launderers (meaning Japanese banks will sell them large denominations of travellers’ checks, but then will not cash them unless you have a permanent address in Japan).

Long history of this. I’ve been snagged as far back as 2003 for suspicion of money laundering–for receiving as little as 5000 yen (as a donation) from overseas. Friend Olaf (a Permanent Resident) has been told to display his passport (not required of Japanese) for wanting to change a small sum of leftover USD to JPY.

More on the Mission Impossible of getting better service from Japanese banks as a NJ at
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#credit

The good news is that Japanese tourist authorities actually responded (and in a timely manner) to Professor Stradford’s inquiries, and with some good advice about 7-Eleven ATMs just opening. Good. Not sure if it resolves the situation any (travellers’ checks of that denomination are still just as useless), but at least someone tried to help.

You see, it can pay to speak out. That’s why I keep talking about these things. And gathering evidence over time to make a case. Some foundational research:

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6) TPR ON KYUUMA, CUMINGS ON DPRK, TAWARA ON EDUCATION LAW

Not necessarily NJ-rights related, but here are three recent podcasts I got a heckuva lot out of, and I think you might too.

Online media Trans Pacific Radio’s Garrett DiOrio gave an editorial on the former Defense Minister Kyuuma’s remark about the atomic bombing at the closing of WWII (which led to his resignation). A remark, it might surprise you, I actually agree with.

So does Garrett. But it’s rare when I agree 100% with somebody’s writing, as I did Garrett’s editorial. At times I felt as if Garrett had put a tape recorder under my bed and listened to me talk in my sleep about this issue. An excerpt:

===========================================
Victimhood, though, is central to the denial argument. Claiming that the War was terrible and all who lived through it were victims together and that they should just try to move on is the only way the fact that it was the government of Japan that was primarily responsible for all of that suffering can be pushed into the background.

This Japan-as-victim mantra is so often repeated that it is as firmly a part of the canon of political correctness as more legitimate things such as the unacceptability of nuclear war and racism.

Back when much to-do was made over Minister Yanagisawa’s unfortunate “birth-giving machines” remark, I should have seen this dark side of political correctness rearing up its ugly head in Japan. Had people called for his resignation over his being part of a Cabinet with a deep disconnect with and disregard for the people of this nation, it would have made sense, but that wasn’t what happened. He said the wrong thing and it could have been sexist. That’s unforgivable.

Fumio Kyuma said something reasonable, if disagreeable. It could have been insensitive, though. More important, it violated the Japan-as-victim image Abe and other Diet members had worked so hard to maintain. After all, if the atomic bombs were unavoidable, that means something led up to them, which means the fact that those bombings were preceded by over thirteen years of war, in which Japan was the aggressor, would be dragged up all over again. That is not what the kantei wants, especially in the run-up to an important election.
===========================================

This makes so much sense it’s scary. Listen to, or read, the entire editorial at
http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/07/06/in-defense-of-ex-defense-minister-kyuma-and-his-a-bomb-remark/

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

Another talk I got a lot out of is a February 11, 2004 talk by Bruce Cumings, a scholar of Korean history, entitled

“INVENTING THE AXIS OF EVIL: THE TRUTH ABOUT NORTH KOREA, IRAN, AND SYRIA”. An excerpt:
===========================================
…as the Iraq war was unfolding. One of the curiosities of the commentary about the occupation of Iraq is that the [Bush] Administration wanted to compare what was going on to our occupations of Japan and West Germany. Democracy was going to flower in Iraq just as it did in Japan and West Germany. The opponents of the war constantly referred back to the quagmire that was the war in Viet Nam, and with the exception of a couple of editorials that I wrote, I saw nobody ever refer to the occupation of South Korea. Many Americans don’t realize that well before the Korean War, the United States set up a military government in South Korea, and ran it from 1945 to 1948. It had a very deep impact on Postwar Korean history. There are many things about the Iraq Occupation that are directly comparable to our occupation of Korea..
===========================================

It goes on to talk about how things went very, very wrong on the Korean Peninsula, the emergence of the DPRK, and how and why things to this day are pretty sour in the region (with some interesting KimJongilogy within).

This issue matters to Debito.org greatly, as the GOJ uses the spectre of the DPRK on practically a daily basis to among other things justify its mistrust of the NJ community, denying the Zainichis the regular rights of multigenerational residency in Japan (such as voting in local elections).

You can download it from the U Chicago CHIASMOS website at:
http://chiasmos.uchicago.edu/events/cumings.shtml
/////////////////////////////////////////////////

The final podcast I’d like to point out to you is another CHIASMOS one: Tawara Yoshifumi, author and Japan Left commentator, on “Japan’s Education and Society in Crisis”, delivered May 17, 2007. As Secretary General of the Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21, Tawara delivers an excellent first half (the second half gets a bit bogged down in leftist boilerplate and education minutia) on what the Abe Administration is angling for with the LDP’s educational reforms: the resurgence of a militarized Japan, able to fight wars and project hard power onto the international scene.

Great food for thought, and there was even a question from the audience on the school grading of patriotism even for Japan’s ethnic minorities (which the questioner unfortunately assumed would only mean Koreans); the answer was, everyone who attends Japanese primary and secondary schools enforcing patriotic guidelines will get graded on love of Japan regardless of nationality or ethnicity; Tawara mentions to a case of a Zainichi Korean getting graded down. An excerpt:

======================================
A source document of Mr Abe’s education reform is a report put out in December of 2000 by the National Alliance, of which the head is a Nobel Laureate in Physics, Ezaki Reona. And what Professor Ezaki says is that the question of schoolchildren’s abilities is a question of innate ability. It’s determined already for each child at the time of birth. It is something transmitted genetically. Consequently, a rational school policy would have all children’s blood tested upon their entry at school. And those who show genes which predispose them to learning effectively should be given the appropriate elite education. And the other children should be given an education that will promote their sincere attitude towards life…
======================================

In Japanese with excellent consecutive English translation as always from Professor Norma Field. Download from:
http://chiasmos.uchicago.edu/events/tawara.shtml

Related to Mr Tawara’s speech:

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

7) JAPAN FOCUS ON AMENDMENTS TO BASIC LAW OF EDUCATION

Japan Focus.com online academic site has just put up (July 9) an excellent analysis of PM Abe’s “teach primary students patriotism and love of Japan” reforms to the Fundamental Law of Education, passed December 2006.

Entitled, “Hammering Down the Educational Nail: Abe Revises the Fundamental Law of Education”, by Adam Lebowitz and David McNeill, the conclusion of the article is the most excerptable part:

====================================
CHANGES TO THE FUNDAMENTAL LAW OF EDUCATION: FROM CITIZENS TO NATIONAL SUBJECTS?

Much criticism of the amended education law has focused on statements clearly privileging the state over the individual; that is, statements affirming civil liberties still appear, often unchanged, from the original version, but are often undercut and diluted by new language. Perhaps more importantly, however, what makes the amended version of the law appear less a legal document than an expression of authoritarian will is not so much what is said, but how it is said. That is, the language of mystique and belief makes the very notion of individual rights seem anachronistic at best. For this reason the amended version is not a reflection of a democratic and constitutionally law-driven society but resembles in content and in intent the Edict, a product of a wartime regime.
====================================

The article contains an unofficial translation of the changes to the Fundamental Law of Education, side-by-side with the original 1947 document, at
http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2468

Not mentioned of course is how Japan’s children of international roots–including both the children of immigrant workers and the children of international marriages–will be affected by these revisions.

Even from the change in the word “we” (meaning Japan’s residents/citizens–still not completely overlapping), I see great problems in interpretation and exclusion. Excerpting again:

====================================
OLD: Warera
AMENDED: Wareware Nihon Kokumin [We the Countrymen of Japan]

COMMENT: Warera is a non-partisan and generalized grammatical subject written phonetically. The new form in kanji is long and bombastic, and most notably conceptualizes “Japan” in an essentialist manner eliding a legalistic framework. The Constitution is not mentioned until the third paragraph. In short, the “we” of the old law were citizens of a constitutionally based body politic; now, “we” are in effect national subjects.
====================================

People are taking notice of this development overseas:

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

8) FOREIGN POLICY MAG ETC. ON GOJ AND CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM

May seem unrelated to Debito.org, but Constitutional Reform (and the processes thereof) underpins everything, particularly the processes through which we work in Japan’s civil society, we try to get done here.

Constitutional reform has since gotten bogged down in the whole pensions scandals, and Abe’s decreasing popularity affecting late-July elections, so sawaranu kami. But if the Abe Administration continues, we should see more of what’s described in full in these excerpted articles at
http://www.debito.org/?p=467

====================================
JAPAN’S REVOLUTION IS FAR TOO QUIET
2007 June 1, Foreign Policy Magazine

By Bruce Ackerman, Norikazu Kawagishi, Posted May 2007
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3844

Japan is on the cusp of a constitutional revolution. To an overstretched West, a newly muscular Tokyo promises stability in a rapidly shifting region. Yet, in its rush to overturn six decades of official pacifism, the Japanese government is stifling the serious national debate required in a modern democracy. Is anyone paying attention?…

The new law, pushed by the inexperienced Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, allows the government to hold a national referendum on proposed constitutional amendments. Rammed through parliament on a party-line vote, the Abe initiative has serious flaws.

Most importantly, it imposes drastic restrictions on freedom of speech. No political advertising will be permitted on radio or television during the two-week run-up to the referendum on proposed amendments. Worse yet, the law bans the nation’s schoolteachers from speaking out on the matter–as if a little learning were a dangerous thing when the nation contemplates its constitutional future. These restrictions have no place in a system based on the rule of the people.

But the government may have something else in mind. The new law fails to require a minimum turnout before any constitutional referendum becomes valid. By tolerating massive political passivity and imposing silence on broad sectors of civil society, the law sets the stage for a parody of democratic politics. The Constitution should not be amended by minorities marching to the polls under the guidance of entrenched political elites.
====================================
====================================
THE RISE OF JAPAN’S THOUGHT POLICE
By Steven Clemons, New America Foundation

The Washington Post August 27, 2006
http://www.newamerica.net/publications/articles/2006/the_rise_of_japan_s_thought_police

Anywhere else, it might have played out as just another low-stakes battle between policy wonks. But in Japan, a country struggling to find a brand of nationalism that it can embrace, a recent war of words between a flamboyant newspaper editorialist and an editor at a premier foreign-policy think tank was something far more alarming: the latest assault in a campaign of right-wing intimidation of public figures that is squelching free speech and threatening to roll back civil society…

There are many more cases of intimidation. I have spoken to dozens of Japan’s top academics, journalists and government civil servants in the past few days; many of them pleaded with me not to disclose this or that incident because they feared violence and harassment from the right. One top political commentator in Japan wrote to me: “I know the right-wingers are monitoring what I write and waiting to give me further trouble. I simply don’t want to waste my time or energy for these people.”

Japan needs nationalism. But it needs a healthy nationalism–not the hawkish, strident variety that is lately forcing many of the country’s best lights to dim their views.
====================================

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

and finally…

9) UPCOMING SPEECH AT TOKYO U RE UNIVERSITY BLACKLIST MONDAY, JULY 30

Getting back to the Blacklist of Japanese Universities, people are truly taking notice of it nowadays, after ten years of its existence. It’s constantly within the top 15 of all the thousands of websites up at Debito.org, and now I’ve been invited down south by Tohoku, Hitotsubashi, and Tokyo Universities to give a speech on the whats and whys. Details as follows:

====================================
DATE: JULY 30, 2007, 6:30 TO 9PM
PLACE: Tokyo University Shakai Kagaku Kenkyujo
SPEAKER: ARUDOU Debito, Associate Professor, Hokkaido Information University
TOPIC: How to make Japanese university employment more attractive internationally
(Focus on the University Greenlist and Blacklist, its origins, and suggestions on what is necessary to make Japanese unis more attractive to NJ faculty and students.)
LANGUAGE: Speech will be in Japanese, with reference materials in English by request of the hosts.
DISCUSSANT: Ohta Hiroshi, Associate Professor, Hitotsubashi University
====================================

I’ve been waiting for a long time to do a speech like this. Hope it goes well. I’ve got a very limited amount of time (and final exams all over the schedule) before it happens, so not sure if I can do enough for this dream opportunity.

All for today. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 20, 2007 ENDS

Asahi and JT on Alberto Fujimori’s J Diet candidacy, with commentary

mytest

Hi Blog. The Asahi of July 12 has run an editorial on Alberto Fujimori, wanted by Interpol on suspicion of murder and kidnapping, and his incredible candidacy for the Japanese Diet. The JT of July 18 reports that Fujimori intends to return to Japan if elected. Comments from cyberspace follow articles:

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

EDITORIAL: Fujimori’s candidacy
07/12/2007 The Asahi Shinbun

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200707120092.html
Courtesy of Claire Debenham

It is no longer unusual today for show-biz personalities and professional athletes to stand in elections for public offices. But we are surprised at the news that a former president of a foreign country will run for the Upper House election. Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, 68, decided to run as a proportional representation candidate of Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party) for the July 29 election.

“I would like to show my gratitude to Japan, the home of my parents, by making use of my presidential experiences,” Fujimori explained.

A son of Japanese immigrants from Kumamoto Prefecture, Fujimori was born in Peru, where his parents registered him as a Japanese citizen at the Japanese Consulate. Fujimori holds dual citizenship, but this in itself poses no problem legally.

Shizuka Kamei of the Kokumin Shinto noted: “Including myself, Japanese lawmakers have become a pretty useless bunch. I want Fujimori to be ‘the last samurai’ who will whip them into shape.”

Fujimori was president at the time of the 1996 hostage crisis at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima. We presume Kamei and his party were impressed by Fujimori’s decisive handling of the crisis.

But we definitely do not think this is a good enough reason for anointing him as the party’s Upper House candidate.

In 1990, Fujimori became the first Peruvian president of Japanese ancestry. He rehabilitated the nation’s near-bankrupt economy and settled a century-old border dispute with Ecuador. These achievements are held in high regard by many. However, in the course of his long administration, a spate of scandals surfaced–corruption by his aide and repression of dissidents and human rights abuses by the military.

Yusuke Murakami, an expert on Latin American politics and associate professor at Kyoto University, said: “Fujimori was ensnared in Peru’s history of authoritarian rule by a handful of strongmen, and became part of that history himself.”

While visiting Japan on his way home from an international conference in Brunei in 2000, Fujimori was forced into resignation. He remained in Japan where he sought asylum. His exile, coupled with people’s memories of the hostage crisis four years before, made him a big name in Japan.

We presume this was what made Fujimori an attractive choice for Kokumin Shinto, a minor entity overshadowed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan).

But Peruvian authorities have an arrest warrant for Fujimori for his alleged embezzlement of public funds and involvement in the massacre of civilians during his presidency.

Fujimori was detained in Chile when he moved there two years ago in preparation for a political comeback. He is now under house arrest. The Peruvian government is demanding his extradition, and the case is currently being deliberated by the Chilean Supreme Court.

Fujimori is in no state whatsoever now to conduct an election campaign in Japan. There is even speculation in Peru that Fujimori is running for the Japanese Diet in order to escape extradition.

Even if he should win the election, he will hardly be in a position to attend Diet sessions. There will arise the question, too, of whether he should be allowed to keep his dual citizenship.

Fujimori ought to be seeking the trust of Peruvian voters, not Japanese. And we believe that he should show his gratitude to Peru, not Japan.

–The Asahi Shimbun, July 11 (IHT/Asahi: July 12,2007)
=============================

japantimes071807.jpg
Click on article to see entire scan

COMMENT: Sloppy editorializing by the Asahi. Lots of topics glazed over here, and it’s not merely a matter of editorial constraint. A couple of examples that weaken their otherwise correct conclusions:

1) Fujimori wasn’t just “forced into resignation”. He quit quite flippantly, famously faxing his resignation from a Tokyo hotel room. That’s part of the lore of this man’s history, and it shouldn’t be portrayed with any possible “kawai-sou” bent.

2) Fujimori didn’t just “move to Chile”. He did an overnight runner. He went there surreptitiously and opportunistically, applying for a Peruvian passport in advance (and getting it, contravening Japan’s dual nationality issues), and then was arrested for his trouble at the Santiago airport:

=============================
Fujimori was arrested Monday, a day after leaving Tokyo. The 67-year-old former president secretly left Tokyo on a chartered plane, apparently seeking to prepare for a political comeback in Peru. Japanese Ambassador to Chile Hajime Ogawa claims Japan only learned of Fujimori’s passage to Chile via media reports. But Santiago believes Tokyo must have known about his plans before his arrival. Lagos also urged Japan to explain its position on protecting Fujimori as a Japanese national, with the former fugitive having entered Chile on a Peruvian passport.
=============================
“Diplomats visit Fujimori in Chilean jail”, The Japan Times, Friday, Nov. 11, 2005
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20051111a3.html

I think Claire and Dave raise some other points well. From the Life in Japan list:

=============================
The editorial in this morning’s English-language Asahi criticizing Alberto Fujimori’s candidacy in the Upper House elections says in passing that

“Fujimori holds dual citizenship, but this in itself poses no problem legally.”

Is that because he was born before 1985, when the revised nationality law came into effect? I thought that strictly speaking, according to the letter of the law, even people born before then were obliged to choose one nationality and renounce the other, and that the Ministry of Justice was just turning a blind eye. If Fujimori is allowed to have dual nationality and run for the Diet, what’s the problem with dual nationality for people like our children?

Claire Debenham
=============================
=============================
Claire,

You raise a good question, and one that I have been pondering a lot recently for various reasons.

A recent link posted either here or on “The Community” list (sorry, I can’t find it at the moment) provided an essay by someone who had researched dual nationality. In it, it said that there was no law strictly forbidding dual citizenship. Unfortunately, the essay was not complete, and so it lacked more detail.

But ultimately it means that there is a difference between criminal law, and rules and regulations about citizenship and immigration. Laws are codified and testable. Rules are at the discretion of the body making them.

One thing you have to keep in mind, and it is written in various places on various forms you see at the immigration office, is that the ministry in charge of nationality and immigration issues ultimately has the authority to decide who gets and doesn’t get citizenship or visas.

It’s like the sign on a restaurant door that says “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”. 99.99% of the time there are rules applied that can be readily understood by watching them in practice. But, there is also an undercurrent of discretion that can be applied at any time, to suit the needs of the management.

The bottom line is that Fujimori has been given special exception, and it does expose a lot of unfairness in the current rules.

However, his existence is also an opportunity, in that we can hold him up as an example to say “why is it that someone who is wanted for questioning in massive human rights abuses allowed dual citizenship, and yet I am not?”

The trick is knowing where and how to ask that question. Dave M G
=============================

Which means the Asahi editorial has left a major stone unturned–what the Fujimori Case means for definitions of citizenship in Japan. If anything, his should be the case which says that Dual Nationality is okay.

More feedback:
=============================
Jens wrote:
—————————————————-
Let me actually make a
slightly controversial proposal, though I’m really
just wondering. We all know that Fujimori is a
controversial figure – he’s accused of human rights
violations and corruption. But from a positive point
of view, Fujimori seems to be an example of how
bicultural children can rationally share loyalty in a
way that many seem to think can’t exist. He acted as
president of Peru, and apparently worked hard in
defense of his new country (as well as for his own
pocket, obviously). But he also seems very capable of
taking a “Japanese perspective”. So maybe he should be
used as an argument in favor of allowing double
nationality. . .
—————————————————-

That was my first reaction, too. Permitting dual nationality actually benefits nations, in terms of nurturing people who can create social, economic, and cultural ties. Not that Fujimori would be my personal poster boy, but still…

There’s a website here that has both the Japanese and English text of the Nationality Law, just for reference.

http://info.pref.fukui.jp/kokusai/tagengo/html_e/konnatoki/5kekkon/c_hou/hou.html

The crunch clauses seem to be Articles 12, 14, and 16.

**********

Article 12
A Japanese national who was born in a foreign country and has acquired a foreign nationality by birth shall lose Japanese nationality since the time of birth, unless the Japanese national clearly indicates her/his volition to reserve Japanese nationality according to the provisions of the Family Registration Law (Law No. 224 of 1947).

Article 14
A Japanese national having a foreign nationality shall choose either of the nationalities before s/he reaches 22 years of age if s/he has acquired both nationalities on and before the day when s/he reached 20 years of age, or within 2 years if s/he acquired such nationality after the day when s/he reached 20 years of age.

Article 16

A Japanese national who has made the declaration of choice shall endeavor to deprive her/himself of the foreign nationality.

2
In the case where a Japanese national who has made the declaration of choice but still possesses a foreign nationality has voluntarily taken public office in the foreign country (excluding an office which a person not having the nationality of such country is able to take), the Minister of Justice may pronounce that s/he shall lose Japanese nationality if the Minister finds that taking such public office would substantially contradict her/his choice of Japanese nationality.

*******

Fujimori’s parents registered his birth in their Japanese family register, so he meets the criteria of Article 12. But he neither chose a nationality by his 22nd birthday nor endeavored to deprive himself of the foreign nationality, AND he took public office in another country. So it looks as if, strictly speaking, the Ministry of Justice has sufficient grounds to deprive him of Japanese nationality.

My fear, I guess, is that if Fujimori were to get into the Diet his dual nationality would become an issue, and he’d be forced to renounce his Peruvian passport. At least that might open a debate on the issue, but if it ultimately resulted in a crackdown on other dual nationals that would be quite a negative outcome. Claire Debenham
=============================

Then the voice from the sky:

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

The Japan Children’s Rights Network website also has a section on citizenship that may have some additional information.

http://www.crnjapan.com/citizenship/

There is info and links to some MOJ descriptions of the choice requirement also. Does seem to be a requirement….

http://www.crnjapan.com/citizenship/en/japan_dual_citizenship.html

Even some historical info on amendments, courtesy of the Japan Supreme Court:

http://www.crnjapan.com/citizenship/en/nationalitylawcitizenship.html

And finally another copy of the law itself in English. (Ill update the Japanese version soon after seeing your link Claire – very nice, thank you.) Mark Smith
=============================

Last word from me. More on what I dislike about the antics of Alberto Fujimori archived at Debito.org, starting from:
http://www.debito.org/?p=120.
Arudou Debito in Sapporo
ENDS

J Times column on Hair Police and NJ educational underclass

mytest

Hi Blog. Yesterday (July 17, 2007) the Japan Times Community Page published my 36th column, on the “Hair Police” in Japan’s schools, and how they are part of the forces in Japan interfering with NJ education.

I’ve just put up a “Director’s Cut” version on my regular website, with links to sources. That can be found at:

http://www.debito.org/japantimes071707.html
—————————–

UPDATE: It’s available at the Japan Times site at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070717zg.html

Have a read! Debito

EXCERPT:
=============================

THE ZEIT GIST
Schools single out foreign roots
International kids suffering under archaic rules

By DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times: Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Column 36 for the Japan Times Community Page
“Director’s Cut” with links to sources
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070717zg.html
PDF scan of the article courtesy Ben Goodyear at http://www.debito.org/JTHairPolice071707.pdf

Since 1990, when Japan started allowing factories to easily import foreign labor, the number of registered non-Japanese (NJ) residents has nearly doubled to more than 2 million. [SOURCE]

Many migrant workers have become immigrants: staying on, marrying, and having children.

Some have faced illegal work conditions, according to the domestic press: incarceration, physical and emotional duress, even child labor and virtual slavery. [SOURCE 1, SOURCE 2, SOURCE 3, SOURCE 4] Policymakers at the highest levels are currently debating solutions. [SOURCE]

Good. But less attention has gone to the children of these immigrants, particularly their schooling. This is a crisis in the making for Japan.

The bellwether of any country’s internationalization is the altered composition of the school population. Many of Japan’s immigrant children are becoming an underclass, deprived of an education for being born different than the putative “Japanese standard.”

GAKKOU NO IRO NI SOMARU…

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

SIDEBAR

Dealing with the ‘follicle enforcers’
Following is some advice on what to do if your child gets nabbed by the school “hair police.”

1. Support your child. Reassure him/her that he/she is as “normal” as anyone else.

2. Seek an understanding with teachers and the principal. Point out that variation is normal. There are plenty of Japanese with naturally lighter, curly hair.

3. Get written proof from your previous school that your child’s hair color or texture is natural.

4. Raise this issue with the Classroom Committee of Representatives (“gakkyuu iinkai”) and/or the local Board of Education (“kyoiku iinkai”). With all the attention on “ijime,” or bullying, these days, the board may be sensitive to your concerns.

5. Be firm. Dyeing hair is neither good for your child’s mental or physical health.

6. If compromise is impossible, consider changing schools (“tenkou”). Your child deserves a nurturing educational environment, not alienated by perceived “differences” on a daily basis. (D.A.)

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

Full article at:
http://www.debito.org/japantimes071707.html
ENDS

J Focus on PM Abe’s Fundamental Education Law reforms

mytest

Hi Blog. Let me post this before I put up my July 17, 2007 Japan Times article, since it has bearing on Japan’s fundamental attitude towards education.

Japan Focus.com online academic site has just put up (July 9) an excellent analysis of PM Abe’s “teach primary students patriotism and love of Japan” reforms to the Fundamental Law of Education, passed December 2006.

Entitled, “Hammering Down the Educational Nail: Abe Revises the Fundamental Law of Education”, by Adam Lebowitz and David McNeill, the conclusion of the article is the most excerptable part:

====================================
Changes to the Fundamental Law of Education: From Citizens to National Subjects?

Much criticism of the amended education law has focused on statements clearly privileging the state over the individual; that is, statements affirming civil liberties still appear, often unchanged, from the original version, but are often undercut and diluted by new language. Perhaps more importantly, however, what makes the amended version of the law appear less a legal document than an expression of authoritarian will is not so much what is said, but how it is said. That is, the language of mystique and belief makes the very notion of individual rights seem anachronistic at best. For this reason the amended version is not a reflection of a democratic and constitutionally law-driven society but resembles in content and in intent the Edict, a product of a wartime regime.
====================================

The article contains an unofficial translation of the changes to the Fundamental Law of Education, side-by-side with the original 1947 document, at http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2468

Of course, left out of the article (as it is tangental) is the issue of how Japan’s children of international roots–including both the children of immigrant workers and the children of international marriages–will be affected by these revisions.

Even from the change in the word “we” (meaning Japan’s residents/citizens–still not completely overlapping), I see great problems in interpretation and exclusion. Excerpting again:

====================================
Old: Warera

Amended: Wareware Nihon Kokumin [We the Countrymen of Japan]

Comment:

Warera is a non-partisan and generalized grammatical subject written phonetically. The new form in kanji is long and bombastic, and most notably conceptualizes “Japan” in an essentialist manner eliding a legalistic framework. The Constitution is not mentioned until the third paragraph. In short, the “we” of the old law were citizens of a constitutionally based body politic; now, “we” are in effect national subjects.
====================================

Thanks to PALE’s Robert Aspinall for notifying me. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Valentine Lawsuit: NPA denies medical treatment to suspect, Tokyo Dist. Court rules testimony invalid due to witness being African

mytest

“WE CAN’T TRUST THE TESTIMONY OF BLACK PEOPLE”
ANOTHER CASE OF JUDICIAL MISCARRIAGE
A NIGERIAN INJURED AND DETAINED IN J POLICE CUSTODY
LOSES HIS LAWSUIT AGAINST THE NATIONAL POLICE AGENCY

Report by ARUDOU Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
Freely forwardable
Released July 15, 2007

Japan Times Community Page article, August 14, 2007, on this case, entitled “Abuse, racism, lost evidence deny justice in Valentine Case”, available here.

This post is organized thusly:
SUMMARY
WHY THIS CASE MATTERS TO DEBITO.ORG
FACTS AND ASSERTIONS OF THE CASE
CONCLUSIONS

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
SUMMARY: According to court records, on December 9, 2003, UC Valentine, a Nigerian citizen working in Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo, was questioned by plain-clothes police on suspicion of violating laws forbidding the distribution of hand-held billets to passersby. Eventually a scuffle ensued in a narrow alley, where a melee of police and touts wound up with an injured Valentine being pinned to the ground by several police. Plaintiff Valentine claims that he was assaulted while being restrained, by a cop who repeatedly kicked Valentine’s leg so hard that it broke below the knee. The police claim that Valentine injured himself, running away and crashing knee-first into an elevated bar sign attached to the alley wall. In any case, Valentine was apprehended and interrogated for ten days, denied hospitalization or adequate medical treatment for the interim. Consequently, his leg injury became so medically traumatized that it required complex hospital operations. To this day Valentine remains physically impaired and in constant pain. In 2005, Valentine sued the NPA for damages and hospital bills totaling 42,937,800 yen in Tokyo District Court, but lost his case on March 29, 2007. Inter alia, the court ruled that not only was a doctor’s expert testimony about Plaintiff’s crippling injuries merely “a sense, not based upon rational grounds”, but also that a witness’s testimony was inadmissible because he is African. Clearly there is an emerging pattern of differing standards for non-Japanese claimants in Japanese courts.

The case is currently on appeal in the Tokyo High Court. First hearing on Tuesday, July 17, 2007, Tokyo Koutou Saibansho 8F, Rm 808, 1:30PM. Attend if you want.
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Heisei 17 (wa) Dai 17658, Tokyo District Court, Civil Court Dai 44-Bu
Plaintiff: UC VALENTINE
Defendant: Tokyo Municipal Government (Tokyo-to), Governor ISHIHARA Shintaro et al.

Tokyo District Court decision full text in Japanese at
http://www.debito.org/valentinelawsuit.html
NPA’s fishy photo testimony of what happened at
http://www.debito.org/valentinelawsuit.html#NPAtestimony
Plaintiff Valentine’s testimony in English
http://www.debito.org/valentinelawsuit.html#etestimony

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

WHY THIS CASE MATTERS: Setting aside any “he-said, she-said” doubts about different recall of the facts of the case, both parties agree that Valentine was detained in police custody for ten days without hospitalization. This caused his medical condition to worsen to the point of debilitation. This was not, however, seen by the judiciary as something the police should take any responsibility for.

As far as Debito.org goes, from a judicial standpoint this case is also of great concern due to differing standards for evidence based upon nationality. The judge, when dismissing the case, actually goes so far as to say (page 19) that testimony of a witness for Valentine (who vouches for his version on the police breaking his leg) cannot be trusted because it is “from the Black Community”. To quote:

===============================
“In light of the fact that the witness has been acquainted with the Plaintiff , visiting him in hospital after his leg was broken, and is a friend of quite some closeness, and the fact that they associated with each other within the Black Community in Kabukichou, witness Francis’s testimony as an eyewitness account is not something we can see as having objectivity, and as such cannot possibly believe.”

“shounin wa, juuzen kara genkoku to menshiki ga ari, honken kossetsu go mo genkoku o byouin wo mimatteiru nado kanari shitashii koto ga ukagatteiru yuujin de ari, kabukichou no kokujin no komyunitei no nakama de atta koto tou o terasu to, shounin Furanshisu no kyoujutsu wa, mokugeki shougen to shite kyakkansei o yuusuru mono to wa iezu, kono mama shinyou suru toutei dekinai”
http://www.debito.org/valentinelawsuit.html#19
===============================

Hm, try disqualifying a person’s testimony because he’s a member of a Black Community (not to mention because he is a friend who visits the Plaintiff in hospital), and see how that gets you in the judiciary of most of the world’s other developed countries. Moreover, the accounts of other police officers are not similarly called into doubt for having too much closeness in their own “community”.

I’ve seen this sort of thing before. Check out the cracked judge in the McGowan Case of 2006, where the Plaintiff (an African-American) was refused entry by an eyeglass shop expressly because the shopkeep “hates black people”. There, Osaka District Court Judge Saga Yoshifumi ruled against the gaijin there too. Inter alia, McGowan and his Japanese wife’s eyewitness accounts were deemed insufficient due to an alleged language barrier. Full details on that case (starting with a Japan Times article) at
http://www.debito.org/mcgowanhanketsu.html#japantimesfeb7

In this case, presiding Judge Sugiyama et al go one better, and say that because they are black they are thick as thieves…

It’s one of the reasons we are seeing cases of suspects escaping overseas because they believe they’re going to get a raw deal in a Japanese court due to their foreignness.
http://www.debito.org/?p=361

I have no sympathy for wanted criminals, of course, but neither the McGowan nor the Valentine Cases are criminal cases. And still they got raw deals–court defeats. Due to a different set of judicial standards applied to foreigners than to Japanese. Adding these cases to the collection.

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

FACTS AND ASSERTIONS OF THE CASE
(based upon the court decision and with Valentine’s claims)

On December 9, 2003, UC Valentine (born 1972 and married to a Japanese from 2002) was working his shift as a show club distributing pamphlets to potential clients. In the early evening, he was approached by two plain-clothes officers who appeared to Valentine to be customers (Valentine asserts that they did not identify themselves as police until a melee ensued).

Minutes later, in a narrow alleyway close to the show club, other members of the Black Community shouted repeatedly to Valentine, “Leave them!”, apparently aware that they were either police or yakuza. What happens next depends on the side of the courtroom you’re sitting, but in any case, due either to panic (Valentine) or guilt (police), Valentine fled, then found himself being restrained by three cops on the ground in the alleyway. He was arrested on suspicion of violating the Entertainment and Amusement Trades Control Act (Fuueihou) Art. 22 Sec. 1 for distributing nightlife pamphlets on the street.

Somewhere in this scuffle Valentine’s right leg was broken below the knee. Valentine’s version (as was his eyewitness’s, unfortunately Black) is that a police officer named Tanabu kicked him several times in the knee, even while the former was being restrained by two other cops. The cops say (in photo-reenacted evidence shown to me in person by Valentine and his wife on April 26, 2007, and scanned at Debito.org at http://www.debito.org/valentinelawsuit.html#kneebash) that when Valentine fled, he crashed into a metal sign (jutting out in a triangle from the wall) knee first, breaking his leg.

valentineNPAreport004.jpg
valentineNPAreport0052.jpg

What’s fishy about this story is when you look at the photograph, the sign is actually on a wall 23 cms high, with a sidewalk below it showing a raised curb and two steps. Valentine was nimble enough to avoid tripping over three steps, but somehow not nimble enough to avoid the sign. When you consider that this happened on a December 9 around 8PM, when the sign is likely to be lit and the steps in shadow, it is odd that the more visible object is the thing Valentine allegedly crashed into.

Also odd is that if he crashed into the sign knee-first, it should have broken his knee, not the bone below his knee. However, the police apparently confiscated Valentine’s pants for analysis, and after some time finally returned them with no report on whether or not there were traces of footprint.

Valentine was held in police custody between December 9 and 19, 2003, and, despite being put into a cast, given no access to a hospital. According to his testimony (http://www.debito.org/valentinelawsuit.html#etestimony), he claims that police interrogation involved quid pro quos–access to painkillers and his wife in exchange for signing documents, one a statement stating inter alia that the police did not injure him. On Day 10 of his interrogation, once the clause about injury was eliminated, Valentine signed and was turned over to Immigration, who called an ambulance and hospitalized him at Ebara Byouin, Tokyo, immediately. His leg was apparently busted up so badly (a case the doctor who treated him, whose testimony was entered into the court record (page 17 (i)), said he had never seen the likes of before) that it required rib bone transferal to the area at great time and expense.

Situations like these in Japanese custody have come under fire in 2007 by the United Nations Committee Against Torture. See
http://www.debito.org/?p=494

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

WHY THE COURT REJECTED VALENTINE’S SUIT

In addition to dismissing the eyewitness testimony due to being members of the wrong ethnic community, the decision makes two singularly interesting points, also indicative of this court’s odd standards of evidence:

1) In order for a foreigner to sue the State of Japan, the foreigner’s home country laws must also cover a Japanese in the same situation in that country (page 13 3.1 (1)). I’m not a lawyer, but I would have thought that Japan’s laws apply to everyone equally, including foreign residents, regardless of their country of origin. Fortunately, the judges rule that Valentine’s Nigerian citizenship does not void his ability to sue the State.

2) Despite acknowledging the expertise of Valentine’s examining doctor at Ebara Byouin, the judges dismiss their medical testimony as merely “a sense” (kankaku teki), not “rational grounds” (gouriteki na konkyou–page 17 (i)). The judges even decide (in their somehow professional medical opinion, on page 15 u (a)) that Valentine’s leg didn’t get that much worse while in custody. Then they even judge on their own recognizance (page 16 item e) that Valentine’s bones are strong–so he must have run into that sign pretty hard to hurt himself. After all, shoes, they say, inflict “pinpoint injuries”, and Tanabu’s “rubber shoes” wouldn’t cause the injuries that Valentine suffered (page 16 a (a)). Shoes are apparently incapable of stomping from the heel, I guess.

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

CONCLUSIONS

There are other fine points, such as who did what to whom with what, and whether people were running slow or fast, but never mind. The point still remains that Valentine was crippled due to a sustained lack of medical attention, and what kept him from that were the Kabukichou Police.

The responsibility for this is not discussed adequately in the decision (judges assert that an X-ray, a cast, disinfection, and draining blood from the joints performed on the first day of incarceration were somehow medically sufficient (page 22 3 (1) i (a) onwards)–even were the best that could be done in a non-life-threatening situation given the fact that he was in custody. Therefore nothing illegal happened. Regardless of the fact that Valentine still wound up crippled, for reasons his doctor says was due to prolonged medical inattention.

Even if Valentine had not been crippled by the police (instead, say, stabbed in the leg by a criminal), would these dangerously temporary measures still be legal? Quite probably. Which means the NPA’s clear negligence for the welfare of the incarcerated, plus the judiciary’s unwillingness to force them to take responsibility when something goes wrong, is damning evidence of the unaccountability within Japan’s criminal justice system.

Couple that with a court willing to use any pretext possible to discount the victim’s standpoint, including overruling doctors and dismissing testimony by nationality, and you have a police force which, increasingly clearly, can deal with foreigners any way they like with impunity.

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
July 15, 2007
REPORT ON VALENTINE LAWSUIT ENDS

US State Dept and YouTube on Japan’s Int’l Child Abduction

mytest

Hi Blog. Two things I’ll combine into one blog post, since it’s right on the heels of the Colin Jones law journal article.

First, excellent video by Eric Kalmus on the irony of Japan’s child abductions (in the face of all the international rules against this, not to mention the political capital gained by the GOJ over the DPRK abductions of Japanese) after the breakdown of international marriages. Courtesy of YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzwzGxJfN8s

But more importantly, the US State Department has included on its site a warning re Japan’s negligence regarding divorce, child custody, and abduction.

We’re getting through, on an international level. A series of referential links follows the State Department entry (so skip the minutiae and page down to the bottom if you want more beef). Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

US DEPARTMENT OF STATE
TRAVEL.STATE.GOV BUREAU OF CONSULAR AFFAIRS

Original at:
http://travel.state.gov/family/abduction/country/country_501.html#
(NB: Live links within original article are not included below)

Travel Warnings | Travel Public Announcements | Travel Information by Country
Saturday July 14, 2007

International Parental Child Abduction: Japan

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

Japan is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Japanese civil law stresses that in cases where custody cannot be reached by agreement between the parents, the Japanese Family Court will resolve the issue based on the best interests of the child. However, compliance with Family Court rulings is essentially voluntary, which renders any ruling unenforceable unless both parents agree.

The Civil Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of Justice states that, in general, redress in child custody cases is sought through habeas corpus proceedings in the court. There is no preferential treatment based on nationality or gender. Although visitation rights for non-custodial parents are not expressly stipulated in the Japanese Civil Code, court judgments often provide visitation rights for non-custodial parents.

In practical terms, however, in cases of international parental child abduction, foreign parents are greatly disadvantaged in Japanese courts, both in terms of obtaining the return of children to the United States, and in achieving any kind of enforceable visitation rights in Japan. The Department of State is not aware of any case in which a child taken from the United States by one parent has been ordered returned to the United States by Japanese courts, even when the left-behind parent has a United States custody decree. In the past, Japanese police have been reluctant to get involved in custody disputes or to enforce custody decrees issued by Japanese courts.

In order to bring a custody issue before the Family Court, the left-behind parent will require the assistance of a Japanese attorney. A parent holding a custody decree issued in U.S. courts must retain local Japanese counsel to apply to the Japanese courts for recognition and enforcement of the U.S. decree.

Lists of Japanese attorneys and other information are available on the web at http://www.tokyoacs.com or from the Office of Children”s Issues at the address shown below. Links to the web sites of our other consulates in Japan can also be found at this web site.

U.S. consular officers are prohibited by law from providing legal advice, taking custody of a child, forcing a child to be returned to the United States, providing assistance or refuge to parents attempting to violate local law, or initiating or attempting to influence child custody proceedings in foreign courts. They generally cannot obtain civil documents (such as marriage registrations and family registers) on behalf of a parent, although an attorney can.

The American Embassy in Tokyo and the Consulates in Naha, Osaka-Kobe, Sapporo, Fukuoka and Nagoya are able to provide other valuable assistance to left-behind parents, however, including visits to determine the welfare of children. If a child is in danger or if there is evident abuse, consular officers will request assistance from the local authorities in safeguarding the child”s welfare.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In view of the difficulties involved in seeking the return of children from Japan to the United States, it is of the greatest importance that all appropriate preventive legal measures be taken in the United States if there is a possibility that a child may be abducted to Japan.

CRIMINAL REMEDIES

For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention , at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org. Contact the country officer in the Office of Children”s Issues for specific information.

New Law on Passport Applications for Minors:

On July 2, 2001, the Department of State began implementation of the new law regarding the passport applications for minor U.S. citizens under age 14. Under this new law, a person applying for a U.S. passport for a child under 14 must demonstrate that both parents consent to the issuance of a passport to the child or that the applying parent has sole custody of the child. The law covers passport applications made at domestic U.S. passport agencies in the U.S. and at U.S. consular offices abroad. The purpose of the new requirement that both parents’ consent be demonstrated is to lessen the possibility that a U.S. passport might be used in the course of an international child abduction.

Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP):

Separate from the two-parent signature requirement for U.S. passport issuance, parents may also request that their children’s names be entered in the U.S. passport name-check system, also known as CPIAP. A parent or legal guardian can be notified by the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues before a passport is issued to his/her minor child. The parent, legal guardian or the court of competent jurisdiction must submit a written request for entry of a child’s name into the Passport Issuance Alert Program to the Office of Children’s Issues. The CPIAP also provides denial of passport issuance if appropriate court orders are on file with the Office of Children’s Issues. Although this system can be used to alert a parent or court when an application for a U.S. passport has been executed on behalf of a minor, it cannot be used to track the use of a passport. If there is a possibility that your child has another nationality you may want to contact the appropriate embassy or consulate directly to inquire about the possibility of denial of that country’s passport. There is no requirement that foreign embassies adhere to U.S. regulations regarding issuance and denial of passports. For more information contact the office of Children’s Issues at 202-736-9090. General passport information is also available on the Office of Children’s Issues home page on the Internet at children’s_issues.html.

The State Department has general information about welfare/whereabouts visits, hiring a foreign attorney, service of process, enforcement of child support orders, and the international enforcement of judgments, which may supplement the country-specific information provided in this flier. In addition, the State Department publishes Consular Information Sheets (CIS’s) for every country in the world, providing information such as location of the U.S. Embassy, health conditions, political situations, and crime reports. If a situation in a country poses a specific threat to the safety and security of American citizens that is not addressed in the CIS for that country, the Department of State may issue a Public Announcement alerting U.S. citizens to local security situations. If conditions in a country are sufficiently serious, the State Department may issue a Travel Warning that recommends U.S. citizens avoid traveling to that country. These documents are available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov or by calling the State Department’s Office of Overseas Citizen Services at (202) 647-5225. Many of these documents can also be obtained by automatic fax back by calling (202) 647-3000 from your fax machine.

Address Information – Correspondence and documents can be submitted to:

By FEDEX, DHL, Express Mail, etc.

Office of Children”s Issues
SA-29
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520-2818
Phone: (202) 736-9090
Fax: (202) 312-9743

By Regular Mail*

Office of Children”s Issues
SA-29
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520-2818
Phone: (202) 736-9090
Fax: (202) 312-9743

(*–As of February 2002, the State Department is experiencing considerable delays of at least three to four weeks in the delivery of regular mail due to mandated irradiation against harmful substances. We strongly recommend that important correspondence be sent by courier such as FEDEX, DHL, Express Mail, etc. to ensure prompt delivery.)

Tel: 1-888-407-4747 (Recorded Information, access to officers) or (202) 736-9090
Fax: (202) 312-9743
Internet: children”s_issues.html

Toll Free Hotline: Overseas Citizens Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA/OCS) has established a toll free hotline for the general public at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-202-501-4444. Persons seeking information or assistance, in case of emergency, outside of these hours, including on weekends or holidays should call 1-202-647-5225.

The OCS hotline can answer general inquiries regarding international parental child abduction and will forward calls to the appropriate Country Officer. For specific information and other services available to the searching parent, please call the Office of Children’s Issues public phone number at 1-202-736-9090 during normal working hours.

Complete original at:
http://travel.state.gov/family/abduction/country/country_501.html#
STATE DEPT. ENTRY ENDS

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

REFERENTIAL LINKS

CHILDREN’S RIGHTS NETWORK JAPAN
http://www.crnjapan.com/en/

SF CHRONICLE Aug 27 06: “CHILD CUSTODY IN JAPAN ISN’T BASED ON RULES”
http://www.debito.org/?p=23

Crnjapan’s Mark Smith:”Protest Against Japanese Postdivorce Child Abductions” in Portland, Oregon
http://www.debito.org/?p=196

Metropolis Magazine on J int’l child abductions
http://www.debito.org/?p=180

CRNJapan’s Mark Smith with linked articles on J divorce int’l child abductions
http://www.debito.org/?p=131

DIVORCE IN JAPAN–WHAT A MESS
http://www.debito.org/?p=9

http://www.debito.org/thedivorce.html
=======================================
ENDS

Asian Pacific Law Journal on Japan as haven for parental child abduction.

mytest

Hi Blog. I included this as part of my previous newsletter on Japan’s judiciary, but it warrants a blog entry all its own. Don’t want it to get buried.

From Mark at Children’s Rights Network Japan. Debito

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

I would like to tell everyone about a new law journal article about Japanese family law that is now available. It’s written by a law professor in Japan who himself has been through the family court system all the way up to the Supreme Court.

First sentence: “Japan is a haven for parental child abduction.”

Need I say more? If you are married to a Japanese partner and have children, its a must read, even at 100 pages. Look for it here:

http://www.hawaii.edu/aplpj/

IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE COURT: WHAT AMERICAN LAWYERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
CHILD CUSTODY AND VISITATION IN JAPAN
Colin P.A. Jones
Asian Pacific Law and Policy Journal
University of Hawaii
Volume 8, Issue 2, Spring 2007.

Happy Reading.
Mark

==================================
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 12, 2007: SPECIAL ON JAPAN’S JUDICIARY

mytest

Hi Blog. These are some old chestnuts sitting on my blog, waiting to ripen and fall to earth:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 12, 2007
SPECIAL ISSUE ON JAPAN’S JUDICIARY

By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
Information eventually appearing in these newsletters blogged daily at
http://www.debito.org/index.php
Freely forwardable

Contents of this newsletter:
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) UN COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE CASTIGATES J JUDICIAL SYSTEM
2) LAT: FIRST RECORDED POLICE CONFESSION OKAYED AS COURT EVIDENCE
3) DIETMEMBER CRITICAL OF J’S UPCOMING JURY SYSTEM
4) UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII’S ASIAN PACIFIC LAW JOURNAL ON CHILD ABDUCTION IN JAPAN

and finally…
5) I GET SMACKED BY A CAR WHILE ON MY BIKE IN JUNE…
AND HAVE A GOOD EXPERIENCE WITH TRAFFIC COPS!

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

1) FT: UN COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE CASTIGATES JAPAN’S JUDICIAL SYSTEM

The Financial Times (London) reports that more bodies within the UN are pointing out that Japan is not only a slacker in the human rights arenas,
(http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html)
but also as sorely lacking in terms of checks and balances regarding criminal procedure and the judiciary.

We’ve been saying things like this for years,
http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#arrested
glad to see it catching fire.

To save space, germane United Nations Press Releases on this subject dated May 2007 are archived in the Comments section, below the blogged version of this article. Click here if interested:
http://www.debito.org/?p=415#comment-29046

Related article on how international pressure is starting to affect things (such as recording interrogations) follows next in this newsletter.

Now for the FT article:
=======================================
UN BODY ATTACKS JAPAN’S JUSTICE SYSTEM
By David Turner in Tokyo
Financial Times, May 23, 2007 (excerpt)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keiichi Aizawa, director of the Japan-based United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, told the Financial Times: “The treatment of offenders in Japan is fair.” Japan’s Justice Ministry declined to comment on the report.
ENDS
============================
Entire article with UN press releases at
http://www.debito.org/?p=415

The entire 11-page report being referred to in the FT article below is downloadable from Debito.org at
http://www.debito.org/UNComttTortureMay2007.doc
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Now for the fruits of international pressure:

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

2) LAT: FIRST RECORDED POLICE CONFESSION OKAYED AS EVIDENCE

I’ve talked numerous times on Debito.org about your rights when under “voluntary detention” and arrest by Japanese police (best article I have on the issue is at http://www.debito.org/japantimes102305detentions.html). Headline: As there is the presumption of guilt, you don’t have many rights at all, and those being interrogated will be under constant pressure to confess to something in lengthy tag-team police interrogations over the course of weeks.

This is especially germane to our readers, as the NPA’s tendency has been to target NJ for instant questioning, search, and even seizure while under suspicion for, say, cycling while foreign-looking.
http://www.debito.org/japantimestokyobikes.html

However, the LA Times came out with an article that had some good news–a recorded police interrogation admitted in court. I’ve never heard of this happening before.

=======================
CASE MAY SHINE LIGHT ON JAPANESE INTERROGATIONS
A suspect’s confession is admitted as court evidence.
The move could pave the way for greater oversight of the country’s secretive investigation culture.

By Bruce Wallace, Los Angeles Times, May 26, 2007 (excerpt)
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-confessions26may26,1,7852068.story?coll=la-headlines-world
Courtesy of Jon Lenvik

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The government has shown little inclination to radically overhaul a system that is defended by police and that attracts little criticism from the Japanese public or media. The U.N. review of the justice system was largely ignored by media here, despite its charge that the Japanese system fails to meet minimal international standards in many areas…
ENDS
=======================
Entire article at http://www.debito.org/?p=419

Now let’s hope that with recent pressure from both popular culture (Suo Masayuki’s movie I JUST DIDN’T DO IT) and from overseas (the UN) results in more judicial oversight, and required recordings of all police interactions with suspects (with lawyers present as well). Don’t hold your breath, but it’s still a step in the right direction.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice counterattacks–making sure nobody challenges their power over jurisprudence, by minimizing the impact of “lay judges” (i.e. jurors) being winkled into the criminal justice system by May 2009 by popular demand:

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

3) DIETMEMBER HOSAKA CRITICAL OF “THOUGHT SCREENING” IN NEW J JURY SYSTEM

Chris Salzberg at Global Voices Online translates Lower House Dietmember Hosaka Nobuto’s questioning of the Justice Minister et al regarding their proposed screening of applicant citizen jurors in the new and upcoming jury for criminal cases.

This is very important, since for once Japan’s judiciary is trying to open the sacerdotal system of judicial decisionmaking to more public input and scrutiny. And here the Ministry goes all over again trying to screen jurors to make sure they are sympathetic towards (i.e. trusting of) the police.

As noted above, police and prosecutors have enough power at their disposal to convict people without proposing to stack the jury too. But nobody likes to give up power, especially a control-freaky type of place like the MOJ:

==============================
JAPAN: THOUGHT CHECK SCREENING FOR CITIZEN JUDGES
By Chris Salzberg and Tokita Hanako

http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/2007/05/30/japan-thought-check-screening-for-citizen-judges/

…It is only against this backdrop of the chronic problem of forced confessions that Hosaka’s blog entry can really be understood:

==========DIETMEMBER HOSAKA==============
Yesterday, in the Lower House Committee on Judicial Affairs, I questioned [the government] for 40 minutes over a legal revision of criminal proceedings to institutionalize “Participation in the Judicial Action of Crime Victims”.

In exchanges between the Supreme Court and the Justice Ministry, a state of affairs was revealed in which the legal system would be swayed from its foundation by a “wide range of views from a group of citizens chosen by drawing lots”, part of the [new] citizen judge system.

When a police officer is called by the prosecution to testify as a witness, it is permissible to ask the citizen judge candidates and the court of justice: “Do you have trust in the investigation of this police officer?”

If you answer: “No, I do not trust this police officer”, then the prosecutor can judge that “A fair trial cannot be guaranteed” and can instigate a procedure in which, without indicating any reasons, a maximum of 4 candidates can be disqualified.

The 6 members of the citizen judge system, acting as “representatives of the people”, under this filtering by the prosecution, becomes a group of only “well-intentioned citizens without any doubts about the police”; this in turn has a huge influence in court battles in which the prosecution argues with the defence over the “voluntariness of confessions” [extracted by the police].

The investigation has the authority to perform a “thought check” on these delegates of the citizen court system, chosen by “drawing lots”, related to issues such as their “degree of confidence in the police investigation” and their “view on the death penalty”, and, without stating any reason, can carry out a “challenge” procedure to eliminate up to 4 candidates.

I am shocked that this scheme has been hidden. For the “bureaucracy”, this very convenient “well-intentioned citizen without doubts about the bureaucracy”, chosen from the entire population by drawing lots, is nothing more than a disguise under the name of “participation in the legal system”…

Starting next week, I will try to put the brakes on this reckless degeneration of justice. Please have a look at the exchange that took place in the Committee of Judicial Affairs, reproduced below…
==========HOSAKA ENDS==============

Chris’s excellent blog entry has analysis and fully-translated proceedings of Hosaka’s Diet session:
http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/2007/05/30/japan-thought-check-screening-for-citizen-judges/
Thanks to the unsung heroic Dietmembers out there.

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

One more item about jurisprudence, this time in Family Court:

4) UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII’S ASIAN PACIFIC LAW JOURNAL
ON CHILD ABDUCTION IN JAPAN

From Mark Smith at Children’s Rights Network Japan:
http://www.crnjapan.com

==================================
I would like to tell everyone about a new law journal article about Japanese family law that is now available. It’s written by a law professor in Japan who himself has been through the family court system all the way up to the Supreme Court.

First sentence: “Japan is a haven for parental child abduction.”

Need I say more? If you are married to a Japanese partner and have children, it’s a must read, even at 100 pages.

IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE COURT:
WHAT AMERICAN LAWYERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHILD CUSTODY AND VISITATION IN JAPAN

Colin P.A. Jones JD, Asian Pacific Law and Policy Journal
University of Hawaii Volume 8, Issue 2, Spring 2007
http://www.hawaii.edu/aplpj/
==================================

More on the craziness of divorce law in Japan:
http://www.debito.org/thedivorce.html

Finally, to leave you on a pleasant note:

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

5) TRAFFIC ACCIDENT: GOOD EXPERIENCE WITH POLICE

I have heaped enough scorn at Debito.org 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

http://www.debito.org/?p=453

I had a pretty rotten June
http://www.debito.org/homecoming2007.html
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 when he was trying to be helpful). Once I showed the cops my driver license and university meishi, 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 statements 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. 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, then said we could depart. 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.

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

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 retrieve the bike later that evening and deliver it to my favorite bike shop for a repairs estimate. 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 two days later (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). They diagnosed (correctly) that I should have a full recovery in a couple of weeks, but in the interim it was difficult for me to walk normally and climb stairs. The hospital would be sending the insurance agency news on the doctor’s findings in a few weeks.

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 line by line, asked me if I wished to press charges against the driver (I didn’t), and asked me to stamp my approval. 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.

Outcomes of this case:

1) I got my bike fixed. It’s good as new and I’m cycling my 200 kms a week as before.

2) The injuries I suffered are no longer part of my life. Looks as though my lower leg just had a really bad Charley Horse; all 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 have all my repairs and medical bills paid and my costs out of pocket at 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.

So in conclusion, let me say that I found the police to be fair, thorough, and in no way making an issue of me cycling while White. Good.

I believe the kirifuda here 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. The best part of a rotten June, and believe me, that’s saying something. We should all be so lucky with Japan’s judiciary.

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

Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
subscribe by RSS to my blog at
http://www.debito.org/index.php
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 12, 2007 ENDS

Global Voices Online on Japan’s proposed regulation of the Internet

mytest

Hi Blog. Just got this yesterday from Chris Salzberg, from Global Voices Online blog:

===========================
Japan: Internet regulation up for debate, but nobody is debating
Thursday, July 12th, 2007 @ 00:59 UTC
by Hanako Tokita

http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/2007/07/12/japan-internet-regulation-up-for-debate-but-nobody-is-debating/

While nobody was watching, an interim report drafted by a study group under the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has set down guidelines for regulation of the Internet in Japan which, according to one blogger, would extend as far as personal blogs and homepages. In the report, this “Study group on the legal system for communications and broadcasting”, headed by Professor Emeritus at Hitotsubashi University Horibe Masao, discusses the possibility of applying the exising Broadcast Law to the sphere of the Internet to regulate, under government enforcement, what gets on the web. The report also suggests that public comments be sought on the issue, in response to which the ministry has opened a space on their webpage for the public to submit comments, available in the period between June 20th and July 20th.

Despite the obvious significance of the proposed regulation, neither media nor the majority of bloggers are aware of its existence. The most detailed coverage of the issue has been provided by tokyodo-2005, a former journalist, now a lawyer and prolific blogger on media related issues, who has (at time of writing this) already posted seven entries on the topic. In these blog entries, he warns that this legislation would be applied not only to general websites but also to personal blogs and home pages. The report advises, he cites, that contents found illegal based on the significance of their activity (表現活動の価値) would be outside the scope of protections on freedom of expression as specified in the Japanese Constitution; therefore, it is claimed, there would be no constitutional issue with regulating such content….
===============================

Excerpt ends. I don’t want to produce Hanako’s whole post, so go to http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/2007/07/12/japan-internet-regulation-up-for-debate-but-nobody-is-debating/ to see all the links and source documents.

I wonder if this is related in some way to the whole 2-Channel debacle, and how they’ve been losing in court for libel for years now and getting away with it. So now the regulations come in. Let’s hope the even keel holds, especially in a “Nanny State” like Japan’s. The Few Bad Apples Syndrome strikes again…

Send your comments to the government. There’s still some time. Debito in Sapporo

Anti-money laundering measures snag tourists with traveller’s checks

mytest

Hi Blog. I cited Terrie’s Take this morning (see previous post on this blog) about Japan’s half-assed campaign to boost tourism in Japan. Was going to wait until tomorrow to put the following up, but a friend expressed an interest in Japan’s anti-money-laundering policies so tonight:

Debito.org’s been cc-ed in a number of interesting correspondences from complete strangers (thanks), with the following moral:

More phooey on Japan’s vaunted YOKOSO JAPAN campaign: tourists who need to cover a midsize a sum as thousand USD in costs (see letter from University of Kentucky’s Prof. Stradford below) are suspected of being money launderers (meaning Japanese banks will sell large demoninations of travellers’ checks, but then will not cash them unless you have a permanent address in Japan).

Long history of this. I’ve been snagged as far back as 2003 for suspicion of money laundering–for receiving as little as 5000 yen (as a donation) from overseas. Friend Olaf (a Permanent Resident) has been told to display his passport (not required of Japanese) for wanting to change a small sum of leftover USD to JPY. More on the Mission Impossible of getting better service from Japanese banks as a NJ here.

The good news is that Japanese authorities actually responded (and in a timely manner) to Professor Stradford’s inquiries. Good. Not sure if it resolves the situation any (travellers’ checks of that denomination are still just as useless), but at least someone tried to help.

I’ll promote this post to an “anti-discrimination template”–as it demonstrates that it does pay to complain when policies are idiotic. Here’s hoping things go smoothly for Prof. Stradford’s contributions to the Japanese economy. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

//////////////////////////////////////////////
From: stradfot@XXXX.edu
Subject: Travelers check problems that have begun in Japan
Date: July 6, 2007 3:58:17 PM JST
To: visitjapan@jntonyc.org;, info@jnto-lax.org, vjc@poem.ocn.ne.jp
Cc: debito@debito.org

Dear Sir,

Since the Yurakucho Office does not have an email address, I have to begin by sending a complaint on ‘the use of travelers checks in Japan’ to your offices, which are associated with the “Yokoso Japan” and “Visit Japan” campaigns.

Since the 1980s, the University of Kentucky has taken groups of 3 to 6 students to Japan each summer. We stay at hostels, business hotels, and yado which usually do not take credit cards in order to keep their costs low. However, this requires that we cash large amounts of cash to pay the hotel bills for 4 to 7 people, especially to cover weekend periods when banks and post offices are closed.

During this summer’s trip, I was unable to cash $1000 or two $500 travelers checks at a bank in a single day, as the banks have set a Y100,000 limit on cashing travelers checks in Japan. I was shown the new requirement that all banks were to observe this limitation beginning 1 January 2007. This is very strange as these same banks ‘sell’ $1000 denomination travelers checks to Japanese to use outside Japan. The only way to cash these checks was to show proof that you had a permanent address in Japan. What Japanese person or foreigner needs to use travelers checks in Japan? This is an indirect form of discrimination against foreign tourists, who are now considered untrustworthy to use large travelers checks. Luckily, on this trip I was able to find business people willing to take time out of their day to cash the checks for me at the banks and then give me the money.

Besides this insult, future trips in the summer are now under review to cancel, as there is no way that banks can be sought out everyday to cash small amounts, especially on weekends, or in places where banks and post offices do not exist, such as in Yasumiya on Towada-ko, or at Lake Toya, both places that we have stopped in the past.

We cannot raise the cost for the students just to stay in credit card hotels, and we are not going to limit our trip to only Tokyo and Kyoto, where at least the airport banks seem to disregard this new requirement.

If we cannot get enough cash to pay for hotels for 4-7 people over a weekend, then we will stop this trip.

Thanks for looking into this problem.

H. Todd Stradford
Associate Professor
University of Wisconsin Platteville
Platteville, WI 53818
Phone: 608.342.1674
Fax: 608.342.1088
http://www.uwplatt.edu/geography/japan
/////////////////////////////////////////////////

ANSWER FROM THE AUTHORITIES:

/////////////////////////////////////////////////
From: XXXXXXX@jnto-lax.org
Subject: Re: Travelers check problems that have begun in Japan
Date: July 7, 2007 10:48:08 AM JST
To: stradfot@XXXXXX
Cc: visitjapan@jntonyc.org, info@jnto-lax.org, vjc@poem.ocn.ne.jp, debito@debito.org

Dear H. Todd Stradford,

Thank you very much for your email. We did not know that this problem existed until you let us know today. First of all, I’m very sorry that this happened and that you had to waste time looking for business people to cash the travelers checks.

It is true that there was a law passed on January 4, 2007 that requires banks to confirm the identity of anyone (Japanese or non) making a deposit or money transfer of 100,000 yen or more. The same law has been passed in many other countries with the aim of preventing money laundering and the funding of terrorism. When I looked through the laws on the FSA website (http://www.fsa.go.jp/policy/honninkakunin/), it seems that you may have been treated unfairly, but I do not fully understand the laws myself so I will contact our headquarters and have them look into this further.

Please let me know the names of the banks that would not change your travelers checks for you (as much as you remember, city and branch name if possible).

Rest assured that we take your claim seriously, and will follow through until you get a satisfactory answer.

Best regards,
Christopher Bishop
********************************
Japan National Tourist Organization
515 South Figueroa Street, Suite 1470
Los Angeles, CA 90071
TEL: 213-623-1952
FAX: 213-623-6301
http://www.japantravelinfo.com
http://www.jnto.go.jp
********************************
ENDS

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

From: xxxxxxx@jntonyc.org
Subject: Re: Travelers check problems that have begun in Japan
Date: July 11, 2007 12:09:30 AM JST
To: stradfot@XXXXXXXXXX
Cc: visitjapan@jntonyc.org, info@jnto-lax.org, vjc@poem.ocn.ne.jp, debito@debito.org, XXXXXX@jntonyc.org, XXXXXXX@jntonyc.org, XXXXXXX@jntonyc.org

Dear Professor Stradford,

We are very sorry to hear your frustration regarding the lack of email access to Yurakucho’s office and the Japanese banking system. As you may know, Japan is still a very cash oriented nation. It may be more efficient to take advantage of ATM services. Starting July 11, 2007 Seven (Eleven) banks will provide ATM services. Seven Eleven convenient stores are located widely across Japan and this hopefully will aid you and your colleagues to retrieve cash. One can take out as much as 500,000yen per day. Please go to our website for more detailed information: http://www.japantravelinfo.com/news/news_item.php?newsid=33. We hope this information can help you. We are sorry for all the inconveniences caused regarding your travelers’ checks. Moreover, we hope that you can still send 4-7 people to Japan. Please do not hesitate to contact me at any point in time if you have any further concerns.

Kind regards,

Takae Ishizuka
Web & Marketing Specialist
Japan National Tourist Organization – JNTO
One Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 1250
New York, New York 10020

Tel: (212) 757-5641 Ext. 20
Fax: (212) 307-6754
“The East of Ordinary”
www.JapanTravelinfo.com
ENDS

Terrie’s Take on Tourism to Japan 2006

mytest

Hi Blog. Fascinating article from Terrie’s Take on Tourism to (and within) Japan. Debito in Sapporo

* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E ‘S T A K E * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.
(http://www.terrie.com)
General Edition Sunday, June 17, 2007 Issue No. 425

Tourism is important for any country, both in terms of foreign exchange
earned and the goodwill that a delighted visitor shares with friends and
family once they get back home. Japan is no exception, and in 2005 the
nation earned about JPY55trn (US$45bn) in tourist yen, in addition to
the sector employing about 4.6m people. That’s about 10% of the GDP and
8% of the work force respectively. So when the country saw its
desirability as a tourist destination sink to around 45th place by
pollees in the USA back in the early 2000’s, it was no wonder that
then-PM Junichi Koizumi, famously declared a national goal of increasing
the number of tourists visiting Japan from 5.21m to 10m by 2010.

The government department in charge of increasing tourism was the
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport, which came up with the
Yokoso Japan campaign. We fired arrows in Terrie’s Take at the campaign
when it was first announced, not least of which because “Yokoso” means
nothing to anyone who doesn’t speak Japanese — i.e., 95% of tourists.
The bureaucrats had a field day telling the Japanese public how they had
this great plan, but then the reality was that they allocated a trifling
amount, we heard a budget of just JPY350m, for marketing and chose
Dentsu over a number of better qualified foreign firms to conduct the
campaign. As a result, most of the Yokoso campaign has been little more
than local ads, in Japanese! Compare the piffling JPY350m with Hawaii’s
tourism marketing budget of US$38m (JPY4.5bn) a year, and you start to
realize that the Japanese government has no idea how to go about the
task of increasing visitor numbers.

Despite the government’s cheapskate efforts to focus marketing on
countries they think tourists should come from: mainly the USA, UK, and
other western nations, the number of visitors has in fact surprisingly
been rising — but from countries receiving very little attention (with
the possible exception of Korea) — Japan’s nearest neighbors.

Of the 7.33m tourists who visited Japan in 2006, up about 600,000 over
2005, 71% came from Asia. More than 2.2m people, or 29%, flew or ferried
in from South Korea, up 21% over last year. In second slot were 1.3m
Taiwanese, comprising 17.8% of total visitors, followed by 810,000
Chinese nationals and 820,000 Americans, comprising around 11.1% each.
The number of Chinese has soared 25% in just the last 12 months thanks
to an easing in the issuance of tour group visas from that country.
South Koreans and Taiwanese have had relaxed visa rules since 2005 and
the Aichi Expo, and this has substantially increased their numbers as
well.

You could think of the government’s fixation on the West as racial bias,
or more likely an indication of its inability to change its thinking on
who globally has money to travel these days. Friends in Kyushu tell us
that the locals there have no such illusions, and restaurants, souvenir
shops, tour companies, and hotels are quickly putting up Korean and
Chinese menus to cater for the surge of new tourists entering Japan for
a few days of comfort and pampering. Maybe in a few years time, the
Transport Ministry will be filled in by someone from the Japan Hotel
Association as to just who is really booking the hotel rooms every
weekend.

This same fixation with where tourists should be coming from also
permeates Japan’s big travel and hotel companies. We find it laughable
that traditional Japanese tour and accommodation operators are cutting
costs and services, and lamenting that their massive losses are due to
poor tourist numbers. And yet, Asia luxury hotels opening in the last
few months are running at capacity. Most likely the real problem for the
Japanese operators is that they need to start learning Chinese and not
English.

Our impression is that most western visitors to Japan today are young
budget travellers and they are here to taste some adventure and
alternative entertainment as much as temples and green tea. The
well-heeled wealthy Westerners that the government seems to be trying to
attract are in fact not even interested in Japan and instead are heading
for more exotic locations in China and Vietnam, where world-class
resorts and warmer beaches and oceans are to be found.

Now there is nothing wrong with backpackers coming to Japan — you can
make some money catering to them. Take the Hotel New Koyo in Minowa,
Nagano, for example, which charges just JPY2,500 a night for a single
room. The 76-room hotel is apparently 90% occupied by foreign
backpackers. Then there are the JPY3,000 – JPY4,000 a night capsule
hotels in Shibuya and Shinjuku — which are coming back into their own
as foreign travelers brought up on manga find them cheap, convenient,
and a great cultural experience.

But the fact is that you have sell a lot of rooms at this rate to match
the income from a single JPY70,000+ a night room at the Mandarin hotel
in the new Midtown complex in Roppongi. And the Mandarin is having no
problem filling those rooms — with both upscale Japanese and visitors
from elsewhere in Asia. The fact is that as living standards rise in
China, Korea, and Taiwan, those interested in traveling want to venture
not too far from their own borders, go somewhere safe and not too
challenging culturally, and enjoy great scenery, creature comforts,
food, and shopping.

For most Asians, that place is Japan, so they are flocking here as a
result. Forget about Western tourists.

Indeed, this contrast between western backpackers and Asian couples
touring Japan so as to enjoy a taste of a better life makes for a
telling contrast. The Mandarin, Conrad, and Peninsular (from September)
are just a few examples of swanky new Asian hotels that have been built
on faith and a vision of a better level of customer, and which are now
being rewarded for the investment risks taken.

Ironically, at the same time as this upscale market has been forming,
Japan’s largest hotel operator, ANA, last year entrusted its operations
to the Intercontinental group, then this year sold off many of its
properties to Morgan Stanley. It seems that the Japanese operators are
just not willing to re-invest in their own infrastructure to meet
international standards, nor to market properly to the overseas markets.
Now they’re paying the price for this timidity and lack of vision.

But is not too late to start upgrading. Jones Lang LaSalle said last
year that there were only 2,148 luxury hotel rooms, i.e., those with
average nightly rates of at least JPY30,000, in Tokyo. Even after an
additional 2,667 new rooms come on stream through to 2010, Tokyo will
still lag behind London which has 5,196 such rooms, Paris with 4,336
rooms, and New York with 3,754 rooms.

Not just hotels, domestic tour operators also suffer from the same
myopic vision of what their client base should look like and being slow
to invest to upgrade. Thus some of Japan’s most interesting and
attractive destinations have languished simply because foreign clients
can’t “access” (language, transport, and quality of accommodation) them
properly. Take Yakushima Island, Nagano-area skiing, Okinawa scuba
diving, and even shopping for arts and crafts outside Tokyo, for
example. All have potential. Temples in Kyoto are good fodder for
first-time visitors, but for the more sophisticated and repeat visitors,
they are clearly losing their pulling power.

Perhaps the biggest contribution that Japan could make to developing its
tourist industry would be to start appointing some bilingual foreign
nationals who represent the audiences of countries being targeted
(nationals of USA, China, Korea, Taiwan, UK, etc.) and to increase
incentives for local operators to upgrade their facilities and
offerings. There needs to be an understanding across the board that
Japan is unlikely to be successful selling itself as a low-cost
destination in Asia, and instead should rise to the challenge of
building a tourism support system that meets global standards for
comfort, convenience, and cultural interest. No more lame bureaucratic
visions of “what should be”, just realistic interpretation of the global
trends with the most valuable of Japanese traits — simplicity, quality,
and style.

There are plenty of good examples of foreigners already helping to
increase tourism flows into Japan, and doing it at a suitably
value-added level. Look no further than the 14,000 Australian skiers
visiting Nisseko each year, thanks to the efforts of two Australian
skiing pioneers, Ross Findlay and Glenn Goulding.

Lastly, we’d note that outweighing any foreign tourism segment is that
of the Japanese visiting their own nation. Over the lost decade of the
1990’s, domestic travel volumes plummeted dramatically as people
tightened their purse strings and it has really only been since 2004
that the numbers have started recovering. This year an estimated 21.5m
people traveled during Golden Week. As a result, and to help things
along, the government has said that it is planning to create in 2008 or
2009 a second “Golden Week” for Japanese workers.

Expected to occur in early November, the idea is to group Sports Day,
Labor Day, and Culture Day into a single week. The plan is that
salarymen will be able to take in two weekends, and get out of Tokyo
just as they did this year during Golden Week. The Dai-ichi Life
Research Institute reckons that the financial impact of a second string
of holidays would be high, with the average household spending an
additional JPY1.64trn (US$13bn), or about 0.7% of the current total
annual household budget…

EXCERPT ENDS

J Times on labor abuses at Gregory Clark’s Akita International University

mytest

Hi Blog. More labor abuses coming out at Gregory Clark‘s Akita International University (he’s vice president, after all; see his nice welcoming message to the world here). As catalogued yesterday in the Japan Times Community Page. Article also includes some lessons about what you can do about employers of this ilk.

Suggest you stay away from this place if you are looking for a job. More about AIU’s shenanigans at the BLACKLIST OF JAPANESE UNIVERSITIES, with the following entry:

==========================================
NAME OF UNIVERSITY: Akita International University (Private)
LOCATION: 193-2 Okutsubakidai, Yuwa, Tsubakigawa, Akita-City, Akita

EMPLOYMENT ABUSE: Despite wanting PhDs (or the equivalent) for faculty, AIU offers 3-year contracted positions with no mention of any possibility of tenure, plus a heavy workload (10 to 15 hours per week, which means the latter amounts to 10 koma class periods), a four-month probationary period, no retirement pay, and job evaluations of allegedly questionable aims. In other words, conditions that are in no visible way different from any other gaijin-contracting “non-international university” in Japan. Except for the lack of retirement pay.

SOURCE OF INFORMATION: Job advertisement in the Chronicle of Higher Education, dated September 2, 2006. http://chronicle.com/jobs/id.php?id=0000469416-01 (click here to read text if previous link is obsolete). Other unofficial sources of dissent available on the Chronicle’s forums (links may obsolesce, and their contents are completely independent of the Blacklist) at http://chronicle.com/forums/index.php?topic=28632.0
==========================================

Now for the expose in the Japan Times. Debito in Sapporo

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

THE ZEIT GIST
Wronged employees seek redress through mediation
Prefectural labor boards offer cheap alternative to suing in work disputes
By MICHAEL KITAMURA
Special to The Japan Times, Tuesday, July 10, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070710zg.html

Imagine you feel wronged by your employer and find simply sharing your work woes with friends and chat groups inadequate. You want compensation and acknowledgment that your employer acted unjustly.

Suing is not your only option. Prefectural labor boards may hear your case and bring your employer in for reconciliation.

A few years ago I was given a pay cut at my last university for political reasons. I had asked the university president, in a one-page private letter, to consider replacing the Hinomaru Japanese flag flying in front of the university with an Earth flag, partly because the university was always squawking about how international they are, and partly because faculty were invited to share any ideas and concerns with our “open-minded” president. So when he told me the reasons for a 10-percent pay cut included my opposition to the Iraq war, and the “flag letter,” and ended my evaluation meeting wagging his finger saying, “You should love the Japanese flag,” I was shocked, but didn’t know where to turn. Suing seemed a long shot.

Two years later this same president made a dramatic declaration to the faculty, informing us that none of our renewable contracts would be renewed. Instead, we would have to reapply and fight for our jobs via open recruitment.

However, what we didn’t know then was that the directors and several favored faculty members had been “blown kisses” — promised jobs and told to keep the fact secret. When the dust settled, 12 faculty members had just reason to seek compensation for breach of contract, out of whom 10 banded together — all nonunion foreigners — to speak with a local union rep.

Foreigners tend to scatter after losing their jobs, and we were no exception. Of the 10, only three planned to remain in Japan, making legal action even more impractical. And, while unemployed, who would have the resources for legal fees? Thus, I looked at speaking with the union rep more as a counseling session, to have someone knowledgeable listen and give a viewpoint, and perhaps sympathize. Some of the “winners” at my university, for example, implied there had been no breach of contract. Were we exaggerating the injustice?

After listening carefully, however, the union representative flatly stated, “That’s illegal.” Then, even more encouragingly, he told us about a course of action that didn’t involve any lawyers or fees at all: Meetings with a prefectural labor board that could lead to “assen,” meaning mediation or reconciliation.

The first step, which could not be skipped despite the futility of it, was to hold direct talks with the university. It was decided, with the help of the union and labor board, to submit a “yokyu isharyo” (demand or request for compensation) for 5 million yen per person for financial damages endured due to breach of contract.

Then, three dismissed faculty members and two union representatives met with four university staff. When they denied there was any connection between evaluation and renewal — a key point of our dispute — we learned what an uphill struggle we faced.

At the same time, we had concurrently been meeting with the prefectural labor board, because they realized time was limited until we’d have to move from the area. After the university refused to pay at our second meeting — which was predictable — the labor board heard more details. For example, when one faculty member with a doctorate in a Japan-specific field and glowing evaluations asked for the reason for her dismissal/nonrenewal, she was told by the president, “You’ve been in Japan too long.”

The board, in addition to hearing such testimony, also read documents, from contracts to memos, that belied the university’s claims, and led them to decide there was just cause to pursue “assen.”

Four respected members of the community — a corporation president, a university professor, a labor representative, and the head, a lawyer — served as judges to hear both sides of our dispute and suggest a compromise.

A key point to note about the process is that it’s not binding. At any point either party can simply withdraw. That being said, the labor board informed us that the mediators succeeded in solving 80 percent of the labor disputes they heard. Furthermore, the labor rep noted that a university is under tremendous pressure to comply with the decision of an independent third party — especially since the authority behind the mediation process was, in our case, the prefecture, which had bankrolled the university when it opened.

The mediation process is designed to avoid huge winners and losers, so we knew from the start that receiving 5 million yen per person was highly unlikely. At the same time, the mediation process saved us time and money: while court cases may cost millions of yen in lawyer’s fees, and drag on for years, our mediation would last just a couple of months, and cost nothing save transportation to hearings. Furthermore, while all 10 members were encouraged to attend hearings, attendance was not required.

Thus, we dropped any demand for lost salary, which the courts might grant, and aimed for “just” 5 million yen per person. More importantly, we wanted a decision which indicated our university had acted inappropriately, in an effort to curb dictator-like management styles, give some power to dismissed faculty, and yes, receive financial compensation.

By the third hearing, it was clear that we would be awarded a settlement figure, which we, and the university, could accept or refuse. We were also told negotiations would end there, and both sides had a take-it-or-leave-it option.

The 10 of us felt vindicated by the decision, that the university acted improperly and should indeed pay compensation that ranged from 1 million yen to 1.7 million yen per person, depending on whether the person had secured employment yet.

Yes, some felt the figure was low, because it didn’t even fully cover their moving expenses. Still, 1 million yen or more per person — 13 million yen in total — clearly indicated the university’s culpability. And we had understood the limitations of the process from the start. With such a small amount, we felt confident the university would pay. After all, the total of over 13 million yen equaled just about half of the university president’s remuneration for one year.

For the three faculty who had received pay cuts due to the corrupted evaluation process, the mediators did not have the power to ask that we be compensated. However, the decided settlement amount would at least recover salary I lost for my flag letter and opposition to the Iraq war — or so it seemed.

Unfortunately, our result was destined to fall in the 20 percent of unresolved cases, because the university refused to pay even that amount. As the labor rep had explained on more than one occasion, the process doesn’t have any means to force employers to fulfill obligations. Still, even in the absence of compensation, vindication of our position made “assen” worthwhile.

The labor rep also explained another option in addition to “assen” or legal action. In 2006, Japan created a labor disputes system (“rodo shinpan seido”) so disgruntled workers could get a hearing with minimal cost and minimal delay. A judge decides the case after meeting no more than three times with one labor rep and a company rep.

Thus, the worker avoids not only lawyer fees, but a protracted court case that may otherwise drag on for years. And, as opposed to “assen,” unscrupulous employers don’t have a right to refuse or withdraw. Both parties can, however, appeal, all the way to the Supreme Court.

Our group didn’t have the option to use this new labor court because it only hears cases for individuals, not groups. Most who utilize this new system are labor union members — but some, like ourselves, join a union only after having a workplace dispute.

Thus, in this era of short term contracts, temporary jobs, and political shifts to the right, workers, foreign or otherwise, should remember they have rights and their employer has responsibilities. Unions, which only exist due to the support of their members, can point workers the way to “assen” mediation, a special labor disputes court, and, if those time and money saving options fail, can provide a union lawyer and sue the most unscrupulous of employers.
—————————

The writer of this article was obliged to use a pseudonym. Send comments and story ideas to:community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS

Yomiuri: Nikkei Brazilian cannot be probation officer due to Nationality Clause

mytest

Hi Blog. Justice Ministry exercising its typical administrative guidance–in this case making sure foreigners never exercise any power over Japanese. That includes NJ helping police their own, I guess. Just can’t trust NJ, no longer how long they’ve been here (below, the person denied a volunteer job has been in Japan sixteen years).

Case cites the Nationality Clause and the Chong Hyang Gyun Lawsuit defeat. Even though many local governments are now abolishing their Nationality Clause requirements. Just goes to show how closed-minded the MOJ is determined to be, even if it means they remove one means to deal with NJ/youth crime (which it has no problems citing as a scourge). Breathtaking bureaucratic foresight. Debito in Sapporo

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

Ministry: Brazilian can’t be probation officer
The Yomiuri Shimbun July 8, 2007

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20070708TDY02008.htm
Courtesy of FG

SHIZUOKA–The Shizuoka Probation Office has given up its bid to appoint a second-generation Brazilian of Japanese descent as a probation officer after it received a Justice Ministry opinion indicating that foreigners may not be commissioned to exercise public authority, according to sources.

Probation officers are part-time, unpaid central government officials entrusted by the justice minister. The ministry said it is “problematic” to commission foreign residents as probation officers because some of their responsibilities involve exercising public authority.

About 50,000 Brazilian of Japanese descent live in Shizuoka Prefecture, mainly in its western part, where the manufacturing industry is prosperous, comprising one-sixth of the total figure of such foreigners in the country.

Among the cities in the prefecture, Hamamatsu is home to 20,000 Brazilians of Japanese descent–the nation’s largest number–and delinquency by Brazilian youth has become a problem.

Language barriers pose a hurdle when it comes to support the rehabilitation of delinquent young Brazilians.

In an attempt to tackle the problem, the Shizuoka Probation Office in April asked karate school operator Tetsuyoshi Kodama, a second-generation Brazilian of Japanese descent who is experienced in dealing with non-Japanese youths, to become a probation officer.

Kodama, 41, who moved to Shizuoka from Brazil 16 years ago, agreed, saying he wanted to contribute to the rehabilitation of Brazilian youths. He said he thought he could do this by approaching them in a different way than Japanese would tend to do.

But when the probation office contacted the Justice Ministry’s Rehabilitation Bureau to get approval for Kodama’s appointment, the ministry rejected the idea, saying it would be problematic to offer the post of probation officer to a foreigner because the exercising of public authority would be involved in cases such as when a probation officer informs the chief of the probation office if a youth breaks a promise with a probation officer, which could result in the chief applying for parole to be canceled.

According to the ministry’s Rehabilitation Bureau, it provided the opinion based on the opinion of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau in which Japanese citizenship is required for public servants who exercise public authority and make decisions that affect the public.

In January 2005, the Supreme Court gave a similar viewpoint in a lawsuit filed over the Tokyo metropolitan government’s refusal to let a foreigner take management position tests.

As for the qualifications required for a person to serve as a probation officer, however, there are no judicial precedents. An official at the ministry’s bureau said he had never heard discussions on whether to appoint a person without Japanese citizenship to a probation officer post.

According to the Shizuoka Probation Office, many foreign youths who are put on probation cannot speak Japanese. Probation officers have to communicate with them with the help of interpreters or their friends and family members.

Masataka Inomata, head of the Shizuoka Federation of Volunteer Probation Officers Associations, said: “Besides myself, there’s only one other probation officer who can speak Portuguese in the prefecture. It’s difficult to build trust with youths through a third party.”

(Jul. 8, 2007)
ENDS

読売:日系ブラジル人の保護司登用、法務省の「困難」見解で断念

mytest

日系ブラジル人の保護司登用、法務省の「困難」見解で断念
7月6日19時28分配信 読売新聞
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20070706-00000307-yom-soci

 静岡保護観察所(静岡市葵区)が、浜松市内の日系ブラジル人男性を保護司として推薦することを法務省に打診したところ、「保護司の業務は公権力の行使にあたり、外国人に委嘱することは困難」との見解を示され、推薦を断念していたことが6日、わかった。

 在日ブラジル人が多い同市などでは、ブラジル人非行少年らの更生支援にあたって、言葉の壁の問題が指摘されているが、こうした現場の要請に応えられない形となり、論議を呼びそうだ。

 静岡県内には、製造業が盛んな県西部を中心に、在日ブラジル人の6分の1の約5万人が暮らしている。特に浜松市には全国最多の約2万人が住み、ブラジル人少年による非行や犯罪も相次いでいる。
最終更新:7月6日19時28分

========================
コメント:ブラジル人非行少年を対処するために、上記の外国人ボランティアもこうやって拒否してもいいでしょうか。この日系外国人は日本に16年間も住んでいる(この記事に載っていないが、英語のバージョンをどうぞ)し、社会問題にも自分の技量を役立たせたいのですが、それでも当局は信用ができないですか。非行を認めて、効果的な対処法を認めず、どういうことでしょうか。
ends

University Blacklist adds Hokkai Gakuen and Chugoku Univ, Greenlist gets ICU

mytest

The Blacklist of Japanese Universities (http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html), where listed institutions have a history of offering unequal contracted work (not permanent “academic tenure”) to its full-time faculty (usually foreign faculty), has just been updated for the season.

Joining the 100 universities blacklisted are two new entrants, as follows:

BLACKLIST OF JAPANESE UNIVERSITIES
==============================================
NAME OF UNIVERSITY: Chugoku Gakuen University and Junior College (Private)
LOCATION: Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture, west of Osaka.

EMPLOYMENT ABUSE: “Chugoku Gakuen has discriminated against its native speaking English teachers for many years and thus deserves to be placed on the blacklist. Although racial discrimination is not a crime in Japan, it is still intolerable. Neither myself nor my two immediate predecessors were able to attain working conditions on a par with the Japanese faculty. Academic credentials, publications, experience, and student evaluations have had no bearing on our position. I feel that have been discriminated against for years, and now, after seven one-year contracts, have been presented with a terminal contract. To date no one has been able to provide me with a reasonable explanation as to why I am treated differently. I have been refused promotion from lecturer to assistant professor although most other faculty are promoted after three years and generally become associate professor after five. The most recent reason is that since my Japanese is weak I cannot be on committees. Strangely enough I have been on one committee for the past seven years. I was also told repeatedly that my Japanese skills or lack thereof was not a problem, and when I offered to attend classes if that would help my situation I was told directly by the president at the time that I would never change salary or position no matter what level Japanese proficiency I attained. This year I did receive a salary increase (roughly 2% per annum if factored over my period of employment), but this came with the terminal contract. It is worth statiing that my two predecessors were capable Japanese speakers and faced the same barriers as myself. The school is now involved in an ongoing labor dispute with me and my union (EWA). The school has become a hotbed of cronyism since a new president entered the picture last year. To the disgruntlement and amazement of many faculty members, he has appointed a friend with almost no teaching experience and publications as a full professor. This is only one of the many positions filled without open competition or public posting of open positions. Please add this facility with its opaque policy making and discriminatory hiring practices to your blacklist.”

SOURCE OF INFORMATION: Richard “Cabby” Lemmer, faculty member at that institution.
==============================================
http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html#chuugokugakuen

and

==============================================
NAME OF UNIVERSITY: Hokkai Gakuen University (Private)
LOCATION: 4-1-40 Asahimachi, Toyohira-ku, Sapporo 062-8605 JAPAN

EMPLOYMENT ABUSE: Nonrenewable 3 year contract for “position for a full-time native speaker of instructor of EFL”. Required to teach 10 lessons per week Monday to Saturday 9am – 9pm. Classes may include content-based EFL as well as all levels of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Materials development and other program-related activities will also be included in the duties. (Basically, you are required to do everything they ask). They expect a MA or PhD and in return offer a dead-end position offering a mere 4.4 million yen salary per year. Yet they also offer a similar position in the same department in Japanese with permanent non-contracted tenure and without any requirement of a PhD, which means they keep qualified foreigners disposable and tenure less-qualified Japanese. Sounds like a truly egalitarian place to work. Contact point for the throwaway English position: tkuri@jin.hokkai-s-u.ac.jp (Takehiko Kurihara)

SOURCE OF INFORMATION: JREC-IN website job advertisement ( http://jrecin.jst.go.jp/seek/SeekTop?fn=1&ln=1, DATA NUMBER : D107070218). Human Science Jobs – Advertised on July 7th 2007. (See entire advertisement archived here)
==============================================
http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html#hokkaigakuen

But there is also some good news. For the first time in the ten-year history of the Blacklist of Japanese Universities, the following has happened:

GREENLIST OF JAPANESE UNIVERSITIES
==============================================
NAME OF UNIVERSITY: International Christian University (Kokusai Kirisuto Kyou Daigaku) (Private)
LOCATION: Mitaka, near Tokyo

GOOD EMPLOYMENT PRACTICE: Has many tenured Non-Japanese faculty, and also a functional tenure review process for those full-timers on contracts to eventually become tenured faculty.

SOURCE OF INFORMATION: A personal on-site investigation by the Blacklist Moderator, Arudou Debito, who met with several ICU faculty and Dean William Steele in April 2007, who substantiated the above. NOTE: ICU was for many years on the Blacklist, but has become the first university in the decade-long history of the Blacklist to not only be Greenlisted, but be permanently removed from the Blacklist as well. Congratulations, and thanks for your cooperation.
==============================================
http://www.debito.org/greenlist.html#icu

Thanks ICU.

If you would like to make a submission to the Blacklist or the Greenlist are welcome. Application is at http://www.debito.org/blackgreenlistapp.html. I welcome input. For example, if you find some job advertisement which proves a university qualifies for either list, please send me the text, save me some time by rewriting the pertinent data as per the Blacklist entry format sbelow, and a link. Please try to keep sources as close to primary as possible. Thanks.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Life Angel: No loans for NJ weddings, er, “non-family” weddings.

mytest

Hello Blog. This just in the other day from a friend, who is about to get married. Then he hit a major snag:

The couple had everything ready to go–working through a major chapel in Tokyo and sending out invites to hundreds of guests–and were ready to take out a loan from a finance company affiliated with the wedding company named “Life Angel”. When up came the brick wall:

For any loan over 100 man yen, sez Life Angel, you would have to have three Guarantors (hoshounin). In much the same way that you would if you were, say, renting an apartment.

Fine. He secured three Guarantors, all Japanese, all stable income earners and upstanding members of society. Would be no problem for a housing loan or rental.

But then Life Angel suddenly threw up another barrier midway: Those Guarantors must be family members, within “three levels of relatives” (sanshintou inai no shinseki).

My friend is not a Japanese–he’s a Western immigrant. Which means he has no family here.

But his fiance has Japanese citizenship. Unfortunately, she’s an immigrant too, a naturalized former Chinese citizen. Which means she has no family here either.

So now with a month and change to go before the big day, and investments in time and invites already made, their wedding is in underfunded limbo.

According to my friend, Life Angel loan company has justifed this policy by arguing that weddings are family affairs. Therefore securing family members as Guarantors is not odd.

We disagree. Here’s what’s odd about this arrangement:

It not only excludes the growing number of Immigrants into Japanese society (who can’t always transplants successful families over here as well)…

…but also excludes those Japanese who don’t have families in Japan either.

How about orphans, or people marrying later in life whose older, more established relatives have passed on?

How about those who don’t get along with their families, and aren’t in a position to ask them to be Guarantors?

Look, confining Guarantors to family members isn’t necessary for life’s other big financial decisions, such as mortgages, auto loans, or rental agreements. If it did, we’d have a lot more homeless and carless people. So why a wedding?

It seems even more arbitrary when you realize that a marriage in Japan does not even require that families legally witness the act. The Kon’in Todoke only requires two adult Witnesses (shounin) sign on. They can be anybody, as long as they’re adults.

So what’s with Life Angel’s rules? Especially so far into the game for my friend, who can’t switch tracks to another wedding chapel now?

So much for Life Angel’s “100% wedding ceremony” slogan. Avoid this company if you can. Just another one of those silly rules which has the effect once again of interfering with immigration and assimilation of NJ into J society.

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

Life Angel KK reachable at:
http://www.lifeangel.co.jp/
Tokyo to Minato-ku Nishi Azabu 4-12-24, Kouwa Nishi Azabu Bldg. 4F
0120-69-8515, 03-5469-8515, Fax: 03-5469-8658
email: info@lifeangel.co.jp

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

DOCUMENTATION OF THE ISSUE (click on all images to open anew in browser):

COMPANY DETAILS:
lifeangel001.jpg
lifeangel002.jpg

THE COMPANY RULES REGARDING GUARANTORS:
lifeangel003.jpg

CLOSE UP AND WITH TRANSLATION:
lifeangel004.jpg

TRANSLATION: As for the “Joint Liability Gurarantor” (rentai hoshounin) column, fill in without fail “spouse” under “JLG 1”. If you are using more then 100 man yen, then fill in two more JLGs under column 2 and 3. Further, in principle, “Joint Liability Gurarantor” is limited to parents, or relatives within three levels of relationship (sanshintou). Also, if they are currently employed, please fill in details of where they work.

ENDS

H-Japan on New Multicultural Ordinance in Miyagi Pref

mytest

Hello Blog. Good news from the H-Japan mailing list. A new ordinance at the prefecutural level was recently enacted to promote multiculturalism in Miyagi Prefecture, home of Sendai. We’ll have to wait and see if this actually means anything in the future, but good news. Thanks to John Morris at Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University, Sendai. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

—– Original Message —– From: “H-Japan Editor”
To: Sent: Thursday, July 05, 2007 1:09 PM
Subject: H-Japan (E/J): Multiculturalism in Miyagi Prefecture

H-Japan July 5, 2007

From: “JFMorris”

Dear List Members,

The Miyagi Prefectural Assembly voted on 13th [June] to approve the
Ordinance to Promote Multiculturalism within the prefecture. This makes
the first step by any level of government within Japan to institute any
kind or level of law to promote multiculturalism within Japan, but the
event has gone totally unnoticed by the domestic media, so far as I can
tell.

I was able to attend the session of the Industry and Economy Committee
which was the committee responsible for handling the substantive
questioning concerning the bill. The LDP has a large majority withing
the Miyagi Prefectural Assembly, and the Governor himself is a former
member of the Self-Defense Force: hardly material for a radical approach
to politics. However, the questions from the Assembly members on the
committee were all essentially supportive of the bill. They covered
matters such as, would passing this bill provide a basis for a North
Korean-linked Performing Arts Group to use the Prefectural Hall (both
the Governor and the Mayor of Sendai have refused permission for this
group to use the respective “Kaikan”), and the member pressing this
question hoped that the bill might provide support for politically
unpopular people to use public buildings, and keep the right-wing
extremists in check. Another question asked whether this bill would help
improve the situation of the abandoned orphans returned from China
(中国残留孤児). Yet another came from a member from rural northern Miyagi; a
Korean bride within his constituency set fire to her house and family
and self last week, and he was concerned that the bill would help
provide support for foreign brides isolated within local communities.
The last question was rather a request, that when the committee to
implete the Ordinance is set up, that the prefecture takes care to make
sure that the committee members are not just “big names” but people
committed to making the Ordinance and its subsequent action plan work.
There was not question nor comment critical of the bill itself. In part,
this was due to very careful prebriefing by the prefectural bureaucrats
responsible for drawing up the bill. From my observations of the gist of
the discussion surrounding the bill, I would suggest that the bill was
acceptable to the assembly members because for them, the “gaikokujin”
(taken mcuh more broadly then its literal sense) seen to be the primary
target of the bill were not an abstract “other,” but real people
connected in various ways to the social communities which form the
assembly members’ electoral base.

Why Miyagi Prefecture, with registered foreign residents constituting
only 0.7% of the prefectural population has been the first place in
Japan to come up with some attempt to put “multiculturalism” (or 多文化共生
or whatever you wish to label it) on it legislative agenda can only be
explained as a whim of Asano Shirou, the former governnor, who came up
with this idea out of the blue and with no know prior consultation with
anyone remotely connected with existing tentative steps in this area
within the prefectural apparatus. However, that the idea has gained
support from the new governor and the prefectural assembly (voted
unanimously at all levels) cannot be explained as a mere whim by a
departing governor. Discussing the situation in Miyagi with a person
connected to the Shinjuku Tabunka Kyousei Sentaa, this person was
baffled as to why Miyagi (of all places) should come up with such an
idea, and why it should gain wide political support. According to this
person, in Shinjuku, where registered foreign residents account for over
10% of the population, inter-ethnic relations are coldly strained, and
“tabunka kyousei” is a very unpopular word with those of the local
population who know of it. I think that the reason the bill in Miyagi
did get through was precisely because the number of “gaikokujin” is
sufficient to make people generally aware of our existence, but that the
number is still sufficiently small, and still largely interconnected
with the existing community for our presence to be seen as “belonging”
to local society, rather than existing in antagonism (garbage, loud
music and crime?) to it.

Yours faithfully,
John Morris Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University, Sendai, Japan
ENDS

TPR on Kyuuma WWII remark, Cumings on DPRK, and Tawara on PM Abe’s Education Reforms

mytest

Hi Blog. Not necessarily NJ-rights related, but here are three recent podcasts I got a heckuva lot out of, and I think you might too.

One was released this very morning at online media station Trans Pacific Radio. Garrett DiOrio gave an editorial on the former Defense Minister Kyuuma’s remark about the atomic bombing at the closing of WWII (which led to his resignation). A remark, it might surprise you, I actually agree with.

So does Garrett. But it’s rare when I agree 100% with somebody’s writing, as I did Garrett’s editorial. At times I felt as if Garrett had put a tape recorder under my bed and listened to me talk in my sleep about this issue.

An excerpt:

======================================
Victimhood, though, is central to the denial argument. Claiming that the War was terrible and all who lived through it were victims together and that they should just try to move on is the only way the fact that it was the government of Japan that was primarily responsible for all of that suffering can be pushed into the background.

This Japan-as-victim mantra is so often repeated that it is as firmly a part of the canon of political correctness as more legitimate things such as the unacceptability of nuclear war and racism.

Back when much to-do was made over Minister Yanagisawa’s unfortunate “birth-giving machines” remark, I should have seen this dark side of political correctness rearing up its ugly head in Japan. Had people called for his resignation over his being part of a Cabinet with a deep disconnect with and disregard for the people of this nation, it would have made sense, but that wasn’t what happened. He said the wrong thing and it could have been sexist. That’s unforgivable.

Fumio Kyuma said something reasonable, if disagreeable. It could have been insensitive, though. More important, it violated the Japan-as-victim image Abe and other Diet members had worked so hard to maintain. After all, if the atomic bombs were unavoidable, that means something led up to them, which means the fact that those bombings were preceded by over thirteen years of war, in which Japan was the aggressor, would be dragged up all over again. That is not what the kantei wants, especially in the run-up to an important election.
======================================

This makes so much sense it’s scary. 20 minutes. Listen to, or read, the entire editorial at
http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/07/06/in-defense-of-ex-defense-minister-kyuma-and-his-a-bomb-remark/

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

Another talk I got a lot out of is a February 11, 2004 talk by Bruce Cumings, a scholar of Korean history, entitled
“Inventing the Axis of Evil: The Truth about North Korea, Iran, and Syria”.

An excerpt:
======================================
…as the Iraq war was unfolding. One of the curiosities of the commentary about the occupation of Iraq is that the [Bush] Administration wanted to compare what was going on to our occupations of Japan and West Germany. Democracy was going to flower in Iraq just as it did in Japan and West Germany. The opponents of the war constantly referred back to the quagmire that was the war in Viet Nam, and with the exception of a couple of editorials that I wrote, I saw nobody ever refer to the occupation of South Korea. Many Americans don’t realize that well before the Korean War, the United States set up a military government in South Korea, and ran it from 1945 to 1948. It had a very deep impact on Postwar Korean history. There are many things about the Iraq Occupation that are directly comparable to our occupation of Korea…
======================================

It goes on to talk about how things went very, very wrong on the Korean Peninsula, the emergence of the DPRK, and how and why things to this day are pretty sour in the region (with some interesting KimJongilogy within). This issue matters to Debito.org greatly, as the GOJ uses the spectre of the DPRK on practically a daily basis to among other things justify its mistrust of the NJ community, denying the Zainichis the regular rights of multigenerational residency in Japan (such as voting in local elections).

45 minutes. You can download it from the U Chicago CHIASMOS website at:
http://chiasmos.uchicago.edu/events/cumings.shtml

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

The final podcast I’d like to point out to you is another CHIASMOS one: Tawara Yoshifumi, author and Japan Left commentator, on “Japan’s Education and Society in Crisis”, delivered May 17, 2007. As Secretary General of the Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21, Tawara delivers an excellent first half (the second half gets a bit bogged down in leftist boilerplate and education minutia) on what the Abe Administration is angling for with the LDP’s educational reforms: the resurgence of a militarized Japan, able to fight wars and project hard power onto the international scene.

Great food for thought, and there was even a question from the audience on the school grading of patriotism even for Japan’s ethnic minorities (which the questioner unfortunately assumed would only mean Koreans); the answer was, everyone who attends Japanese primary and secondary schools enforcing patriotic guidelines will get graded on love of Japan regardless of nationality or ethnicity; Tawara mentions to a case of a Zainichi Korean getting graded down.

An excerpt:
======================================
A source document of Mr Abe’s education reform is a report put out in December of 2000 by the National Alliance, of which the head is a Nobel Laureate in Physics, Ezaki Reona. And what Professor Ezaki says is that the question of schoolchildren’s abilities is a question of innate ability. It’s determined already for each child at the time of birth. It is something transmitted genetically. Consequently, a rational school policy would have all children’s blood tested upon their entry at school. And those who show genes which predispose them to learning effectively should be given the appropriate elite education. And the other children should be given an education that will promote their sincere attitude towards life…
======================================

2 hours and change. In Japanese with excellent consecutive English translation as always from Professor Norma Field. Download from:
http://chiasmos.uchicago.edu/events/tawara.shtml

Enjoy. I did. This is one of the advantages of cycling about 12 hours and 200 kms a week with an iPod on my shoulder. Listen while you exercise and give your mind a workout, too. Debito in Sapporo

Asahi Editorial: Tanaka Hiroshi on treatment of NJ workers

mytest

Hello Blog. Here’s one of the most important writers regarding NJ issues (particularly the Zainichi), Tanaka Hiroshi, getting an article in the most prominent public Op-Ed column in the Japanese press (although I can’t find the Japanese version of it anywhere–little help?).

Good. Again, it’s what we’ve been saying all along. More voices the merrier. Debito in Sapporo

======================================
POINT OF VIEW/ Hiroshi Tanaka: Japan must open its arms to foreign workers
07/03/2007 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200707030068.html
Courtesy of Hans ter Horst

Japan, with its aging workforce, is facing a serious labor shortage that can only be solved by bringing in foreign workers. Even so, the country’s laws do not safeguard the human rights of these guest trainees and interns.

The government is attempting to change this situation, but in my view, its efforts lack focus.

Three arms of the government are making separate moves in this area.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare wants to treat foreign trainees as interns, so Japanese labor laws will cover them.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry proposes strengthening the screening process and penalties for maltreatment of foreign trainees and interns to improve working conditions and prevent human rights violations.

And Justice Minister Jinen Nagase seeks to establish a system whereby foreign workers can work only a maximum of three years.

To begin with, it is ridiculous to have three branches of government working separately to solve the same problem. This will only result in a tug of war over control.

What needs to be done is to establish a central policy office within the Prime Minister’s Office or the Cabinet Office, with its leader reporting directly to the prime minister.

In reality, there is a wide gap between how Japan deals with its foreign workers and the principles stated in official policy.

With the Japanese labor force in decline, the economy cannot be maintained without an influx of foreign labor. Despite this fact, the government is sticking with an outdated policy that limits the entry of unskilled foreign workers on grounds the practice could lead harm job security for Japanese workers.

At the same time, however, the government opened a back door into the job market, offering a fast track to visas for foreigners of Japanese descent and trainee and technical internship programs for foreigners.

These two loopholes enable unskilled foreigners to work in Japan. To date, about 350,000 foreigners of Japanese descent have come to Japan from Brazil, Peru and elsewhere to work in the automotive industry. Many are employed by subcontractors to the major automakers and other parts makers.

Instead of dealing squarely with them, the government has stuck with its “deceptive” policies. As a result, there are no protections in place to guarantee their human rights and labor rights. Since foreign workers are usually hired by brokers and dispatched indirectly, many employers fail to provide them with proper social insurance coverage.

Some workers even are illegally forced to hand over their passports to their employers, and others have been cheated of due wages. Such mistreatment has been reported in case after case, but nothing is done to prevent it.

I am working to resolve the educational problems faced by the children of foreign workers in Japan. Despite the rise in numbers of children attending Brazilian schools in Japan, these schools remain unaccredited. As such, they receive no government subsidies.

When revisions to the Fundamental Law of Education were discussed last year, not a word was heard about the right of immigrant children to an education or the government’s obligation to guarantee that education.

The government must squarely face these problems and create sincere policies to make the lives of our guest workers better.

Since the Japanese population is declining, the government needs to come out and make clear that we do need and value foreign workers. Once that is recognized, the government should examine which areas are lacking and estimate how many workers we need. It also should pass legislation to enable immigrants who complete Japanese-language training programs and vocational training courses to enter the workforce as full-fledged workers.

Some people worry that too many foreign workers would lead to lower wages for Japanese workers or steal jobs away.

If a foreign worker is more competent or better trained than a Japanese, then naturally they will get hired first.

But to assume that a foreigner should work for less than a Japanese is outright discrimination. And as long as the principle of “equal pay for equal work” is observed, the situation will not adversely affect the labor market.

The government’s passive attitude toward foreign workers shows how it remains unable to shake off its insular, Cold-War era mindset, one that pits people of one nation against another merely because they hold a certain citizenship.

This thinking leads us to set Japanese apart from foreigners.

We must accept people from other countries as “residents” and create a system to encourage them to participate in our society. Giving foreign residents the right to vote in local elections would be a step in the right direction.

For that, we need a system that encourages foreigners to settle in Japan, instead of one that treats them as temporary labor.

Japan needs to abandon its selfish attitudes and open up its closed society with firmly rooted policies.

* * *

Hiroshi Tanaka is professor specializing in the history of Japan-Asia relations at Kyoto’s Ryukoku University and a representative of a citizens’ group that works to support schools for foreign residents in Japan.(IHT/Asahi: July 3,2007)

Foreign Policy Mag etc. on GOJ and Constitutional Reform

mytest

Hi Blog. May seem only tangental to the bent of Debito.org, but Constitutional Reform (and the processes thereof) underpins everything, particularly the processes through which we work in Japan’s civil society, we try to get done here.

Constitutional reform has since gotten bogged down in the whole pensions scandals, and Abe’s decreasing popularity affecting late-July elections, so sawaranu kami. But if the Abe Administration continues, we should see more of what’s described below. Related articles follow. Debito

====================================
2007 June 1, Foreign Policy Magazine
Japan’s Revolution Is Far Too Quiet

By Bruce Ackerman, Norikazu Kawagishi
Posted May 2007
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3844
Courtesy of a reporter friend

Japan is on the cusp of a constitutional revolution. To an overstretched West, a newly muscular Tokyo promises stability in a rapidly shifting region. Yet, in its rush to overturn six decades of official pacifism, the Japanese government is stifling the serious national debate required in a modern democracy. Is anyone paying attention?

Japan’s pacifist Constitution has been frozen in time, unchanged since it was enacted during the occupation of U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur. But with little opportunity for debate, the Japanese parliament recently passed a bill that opens the door to major constitutional revisions. Western governments, overwhelmed by their security commitments around the world, have honed in on one preferred outcome-amendment of Article Nine, which prohibits Japan from participating in war and restricts the size and scope of its military. Their nearly exclusive emphasis on this point has obscured the deeply flawed process by which the changes are to be made.

The new law, pushed by the inexperienced Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, allows the government to hold a national referendum on proposed constitutional amendments. Rammed through parliament on a party-line vote, the Abe initiative has serious flaws.

Most importantly, it imposes drastic restrictions on freedom of speech. No political advertising will be permitted on radio or television during the two-week run-up to the referendum on proposed amendments. Worse yet, the law bans the nation’s schoolteachers from speaking out on the matter-as if a little learning were a dangerous thing when the nation contemplates its constitutional future. These restrictions have no place in a system based on the rule of the people.

But the government may have something else in mind. The new law fails to require a minimum turnout before any constitutional referendum becomes valid. By tolerating massive political passivity and imposing silence on broad sectors of civil society, the law sets the stage for a parody of democratic politics. The Constitution should not be amended by minorities marching to the polls under the guidance of entrenched political elites.

Some checks on abuse will remain. The Constitution inherited from the MacArthur era requires a two-thirds vote from both legislative houses before an amendment can be placed before the voters. This supermajority rule will necessitate a consensus from the political elite before any basic constitutional change could occur. But democratic principles require something more-a full and fair test of the consent of ordinary citizens. By restricting free speech and not mandating a minimum voter turnout, the referendum law falls short of this key requirement.

Western policymakers will find it easy to ignore this point. With NATO’s resources desperately overstretched, they are increasingly concerned with the revision of the famous “peace clause” of Article Nine. As they contemplate China’s rising power, a growing number of Western governments will be tempted to support the repeal of the peace article without serious questioning.

This would be a grievous mistake. Any attempt to repudiate Article Nine would generate large anxieties in the region, even if it is accompanied by flawless democratic procedures. But an effort by elites to ram repeal through a defective process will justifiably generate larger concerns about the future of Japanese democracy. It is one thing for a democratic Japan to return to the world stage as a normal military power; it is quite another for it to create a precedent for future assaults on its fragile constitutional heritage. In a fiercely nationalistic region with long historical memories, such a move could be extremely dangerous.

Abe is right about one thing: Japan’s move toward popular sovereignty is essential if the Japanese people are to take ownership of their own political destiny. The existing Constitution was largely drafted by American military lawyers and was never put up for approval by the people. Sixty years later, it is past time for modern Japan to move beyond the U.S. occupation and build a constitution worthy of its two generations of democratic practice. But this new law is the wrong way to start.

The referendum law does not come into effect for three years-time enough for public opinion, both inside and outside the country, to have an impact. Intent on repealing the peace article, the Abe government has pressed forward without a broad discussion of its larger constitutional implications. But it would be shortsighted for friends of the country to allow this silence to continue.

======================
Bruce Ackerman is professor of law and political science at Yale University.
Norikazu Kawagishi is professor of law and political science at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan.
ENDS

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

Abe’s political problems mount as approval ratings sink
By Takehiko Kambayashi
THE WASHINGTON TIMES Published June 8, 2007

http://www.washtimes.com/world/20070607-105400-7630r.htm

TOKYO — With his approval ratings sinking, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is embroiled in political and pension scandals and his Cabinet minister’s suicide.

Before heading to Heiligendamm, Germany, where he is attending the Group of Eight summit, Mr. Abe announced a plan to cut worldwide greenhouse-gas emissions in half by 2050. The prime minister, however, may need to prepare for a more impending firestorm: the upper-house elections next month.

Mr. Abe took office in September with popularity ratings of about 70 percent, but that number has steadily declined. An opinion poll released last week by the major daily Asahi Shimbun found that Mr. Abe’s approval rating hit a record 30 percent, while his disapproval rating reached a record 49 percent. Unlike his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, Mr. Abe has failed to attract independent voters.

Analysts attributed the drop to Mr. Abe’s weak leadership and to his handling of a string of political, financial and pension scandals.

In late May, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka, who was accused of bid-rigging and misuse of public funds, hanged himself before he was to face questioning in parliament. Mr. Abe consistently defended the minister while the opposition parties asked him to fulfill his responsibilities to make a full explanation.

“The responsibility of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who appointed Mr. Matsuoka as Cabinet minister and who defended him after suspicions were pressed, is not small,” the conservative Sankei, a paper usually sympathetic to Mr. Abe, said in an editorial. “This is a major blow to the Cabinet with upper-house elections around the corner.”

The public also was angered by the health ministry’s loss of records related to about 50 million pension cases. The beleaguered ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party (LPD) and New Komeito steamrolled a pair of bills intended to resolve the problem.

Akikazu Hashimoto, a senior research associate at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, said, “The pension scandal has only begun.”

“I would say that is a state crime,” said Mr. Hashimoto, who is a visiting professor at J.F. Oberlin University. The scandal “exposed the vulnerability of Japan’s bureaucracy and the fragility of its democracy, which has experienced virtually no transfer of power.”

Mr. Abe and some LDP members blamed Naoto Kan, former president of the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party, for the disappearance of the records because Mr. Kan once served as a health minister. Even other LDP members criticized the deflection of blame.

“It is the ruling LDP that had the responsibility to supervise the ministry,” Mr. Hashimoto said. “Mr. Abe lacks academic ability and the qualities of a leader.”

Meanwhile, the scandals have continued to unfold. On Wednesday, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa said in parliament that the Social Insurance Agency has yet to enter 14.3 million pension cases into its computer system.
ENDS

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
 
The Rise of Japan’s Thought Police
By Steven Clemons, New America Foundation
The Washington Post | August 27, 2006

http://www.newamerica.net/publicati ons/articles/ 2006/the_ rise_of_japan_ s_thought_ police
Courtesy of Pat O’Brien

Anywhere else, it might have played out as just another low-stakes battle between policy wonks. But in Japan, a country struggling to find a brand of nationalism that it can embrace, a recent war of words between a flamboyant newspaper editorialist and an editor at a premier foreign-policy think tank was something far more alarming: the latest assault in a campaign of right-wing intimidation of public figures that is squelching free speech and threatening to roll back civil society.

On Aug. 12, Yoshihisa Komori — a Washington-based editorialist for the ultra-conservative Sankei Shimbun newspaper — attacked an article by Masaru Tamamoto, the editor of Commentary, an online journal run by the Japan Institute of International Affairs. The article expressed concern about the emergence of Japan’s strident, new “hawkish nationalism, ” exemplified by anti-China fear-mongering and official visits to a shrine honoring Japan’s war dead. Komori branded the piece “anti-Japanese, ” and assailed the mainstream author as an “extreme leftist intellectual. “

But he didn’t stop there. Komori demanded that the institute’s president, Yukio Satoh, apologize for using taxpayer money to support a writer who dared to question Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s annual visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, in defiance of Chinese protests that it honors war criminals from World War II.

Remarkably, Satoh complied. Within 24 hours, he had shut down Commentary and withdrawn all of the past content on the site — including his own statement that it should be a place for candid discourse on Japan’s foreign-policy and national-identity challenges. Satoh also sent a letter last week to the Sankei editorial board asking for forgiveness and promising a complete overhaul of Commentary’s editorial management.

The capitulation was breathtaking. But in the political atmosphere that has overtaken Japan, it’s not surprising. Emboldened by the recent rise in nationalism, an increasingly militant group of extreme right-wing activists who yearn for a return to 1930s-style militarism, emperor-worship and “thought control” have begun to move into more mainstream circles — and to attack those who don’t see things their way.

Just last week, one of those extremists burned down the parental home of onetime prime ministerial candidate Koichi Kato, who had criticized Koizumi’s decision to visit Yasukuni this year. Several years ago, the home of Fuji Xerox chief executive and Chairman Yotaro “Tony” Kobayashi was targeted by handmade firebombs after he, too, voiced the opinion that Koizumi should stop visiting Yasukuni. The bombs were dismantled, but Kobayashi continued to receive death threats. The pressure had its effect. The large business federation that he helps lead has withdrawn its criticism of Koizumi’s hawkishness toward China and his visits to Yasukuni, and Kobayashi now travels with bodyguards.

In 2003, then-Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Hitoshi Tanaka discovered a time bomb in his home. He was targeted for allegedly being soft on North Korea. Afterward, conservative Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara contended in a speech that Tanaka “had it coming.”

Another instance of free-thinking- meets-intimidati on involved Sumiko Iwao, an internationally respected professor emeritus at Keio University. Right-wing activists threatened her last February after she published an article suggesting that much of Japan is ready to endorse female succession in the imperial line; she issued a retraction and is now reportedly lying low.

Such extremism raises disturbing echoes of the past. In May 1932, Japanese Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai was assassinated by a group of right-wing activists who opposed his recognition of Chinese sovereignty over Manchuria and his staunch defense of parliamentary democracy. In the post-World War II era, right-wing fanatics have largely lurked in the shadows, but have occasionally threatened those who veer too close to or speak too openly about sensitive topics concerning Japan’s national identity, war responsibility or imperial system.

What’s alarming and significant about today’s intimidation by the right is that it’s working — and that it has found some mutualism in the media. Sankei’s Komori has no direct connection to those guilty of the most recent acts, but he’s not unaware that his words frequently animate them — and that their actions in turn lend fear-fueled power to his pronouncements, helping them silence debate. What’s worse, neither Japan’s current prime minister nor Shinzo Abe, the man likely to succeed him in next month’s elections, has said anything to denounce those trying to stifle the free speech of Japan’s leading moderates.

There are many more cases of intimidation. I have spoken to dozens of Japan’s top academics, journalists and government civil servants in the past few days; many of them pleaded with me not to disclose this or that incident because they feared violence and harassment from the right. One top political commentator in Japan wrote to me: “I know the right-wingers are monitoring what I write and waiting to give me further trouble. I simply don’t want to waste my time or energy for these people.”

Japan needs nationalism. But it needs a healthy nationalism — not the hawkish, strident variety that is lately forcing many of the country’s best lights to dim their views.
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 3 2007: SPECIAL ON THE BLAME GAME

mytest

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 3, 2007
SPECIAL REPORT: THE BLAME GAME
HOW JAPAN IS BLAMING FOREIGNERS FOR ITS OWN ILLS

By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
http://www.debito.org, debito@debito.org
Freely Forwardable

Hello All. It’s been a full month since my last newsletter (see why at http://www.debito.org/?p=457), and a lot of articles (I’m still blogging around one a day) have piled up at the Debito.org blog (http://www.debito.org/index.php). But there is a common thread within: How Japan is systematically blaming Non-Japanese (NJ) for any social problem it can, often for political gain.

This post is structured thus:

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) FANFARE FOR THE COMMON MAN
2) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR LABOR AND CRIME PROBLEMS
3) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR SCHOOL PROBLEMS
4) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR MILITARY PROBLEMS
5) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR SPORTS PROBLEMS
6) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR SHIPPING PROBLEMS
7) HOW THE GOJ INTENDS TO DEAL WITH IT:
RIOT POLICE, CHECKPOINT CHARLIE, AND SHORTENED VISAS

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

1) FANFARE FOR THE COMMON MAN
(Sung to the tune of “Blame Canada”, from the South Park Movie. Yes, I wrote it.)

Times have changed, don’t you see, Japan is getting worse
Sudden disagreements, to conflict we are adverse
What’s different from back then, to what we have today?
It’s Gaijin, they shouldn’t be in this country anyway!

Blame Foreigners, Blame Foreigners!
With those bulbous little noses, only take them in small doses
Blame Foreigners, Blame Foreigners!
Dye the aikokushin into our beautiful land.

Taking jobs that we don’t want, their stinky kids in schools
Marrying our military secrets, disobeying our vague rules
Outdoing us in our sports, crime is rife now if you please
Listen to Ishihara, time to call out the Riot Police!

Blame Foreigners, Blame Foreigners!
It seems that everything’s gone wrong since the Gaijin came along!
Blame Foreigners, Blame Foreigners!
We must blame them for our budgets
For all the tax monies that we can get!!

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

2) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR LABOR AND CRIME PROBLEMS

I’ve written at length (http://www.debito.org/?cat=16) on how Japan has been taking in huge numbers (now well over a million souls) of NJ workers to keep its factories from migrating overseas, due to the high cost of domestic labor. Now, surprise surprise, there are people who are unaccounted for both as overstayers and even escapees from a bad situation (i.e. GOJ rackets to bring them in as cheap, disposable labor)!

==================================
NEARLY 10,000 FOREIGNERS DISAPPEAR FROM JOB TRAINING SITES IN JAPAN 2002-2006
Japan Today/Kyodo News, Monday, July 2, 2007

http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/411066

TOKYO A total of 9,607 foreigners, mostly Asians, ran away from job training sites in Japan between 2002 and 2006 in an apparent attempt to look for better working conditions elsewhere, according to the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau…
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=475
==================================

==================================
IMMIGRANT WORKERS IN JAPAN CAUGHT IN A REAL RACKET
The Japan Times, Sunday, July 1, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20070701pb.html

The debate over whether Japan should allow foreign workers in to make up for current and future labor shortages is dominated by the so-called foreign trainee program, which is overseen by the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization (JITCO). The program is itself the subject of a debate, which boils down to the age-old Japanese dynamic of honne vs. tatemae.

The tatemae (given reason) of the program is to bring workers from developing countries to Japan to learn Japanese techniques that they can later put to use back home. The honne (real reason) of the program is to legally let small and medium Japanese companies import cheap labor. According to a recent series of articles in the Asahi Shimbun, the Japanese public for the most part still buys the tatemae explanation, even though the media has been reporting for years that many foreign trainees come to Japan for the express purpose of making money.

As with most controversies that don’t touch directly on the lives of average people, the only related news that makes an impression is the sensational kind…
http://www.debito.org/?p=475
==================================

And even when workers do escape the slums and poverty built into the visa system, this is what can happen:

==================================
RACISM SURFACES OVER BID BY FOREIGNER TO BUY LAND, SETTLE
06/29/2007 The Asahi Shinbun

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200706290148.html

FUKUROI, Shizuoka Prefecture Fearful that they would be inviting crime to their neighborhood, residents blocked an attempt by a Japanese-Brazilian man to buy land on which to build a house. The local regional legal affairs bureau said their actions constituted a “violation of human rights” and told the parties involved that if a similar situation occurred in the future they should handle it better…

One resident, citing a perception that Brazilians are prone to committing crimes, said, “I feared that something might happen.”… In the end, the man was forced to purchase property elsewhere…
http://www.debito.org/?p=465
==================================

That’s right–blame foreigners for their alleged crime, and prevent them from ever assimilating their way out of it.

More on Japan’s penchant for targeting and exaggerating NJ crime:
http://www.debito.org/opportunism.html
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police
http://www.debito.org/ishiharahikokusaika.html
http://www.debito.org/?cat=10

For example, look at the anti-crime flyer distributed June 2007 by Ikuno-ku Ward Office police and various crime-prevention dilettantes:
(Japanese original, visible at http://www.debito.org/?p=473)

==================================
HELP US STOP ILLEGAL LABOR AND FOREIGN OVERSTAYERS!

[Complete with images of Illegal overstayers, long-nosed fraudulent grooms, passport forgers, and illegal workers. All including blondies, of course.]

THESE DAYS WHERE FOREIGN CRIME IS RISING FAST

[Even though, according to the Mainichi Feb 9 2007, it’s dropping.
http://www.debito.org/?p=218
So is, according to Immigration, foreign overstaying.
http://www.debito.org/crimestats.html ]

CHECK THE STATUS OF RESIDENCE AND PERIOD OF STAY ON THEIR PASSPORTS, TO ENSURE YOU EMPLOY A FOREIGNER PROPERLY!!

THERE WILL BE PENALTIES FOR EMPLOYERS WHO EMPLOY FOREIGNERS NOT PERMITTED TO WORK, AS WELL AS THOSE WHO ACT AS INTERMEDIARIES.

WE ASK YOU TO COOPERATE IN ORDER TO GIVE US A SAFE AND LIVABLE TOWN ENVIRONMENT WITHIN IKUNO-KU.

IKUNO SANGYOU ROUDOUSHA KOKUSAIKA TAISAKU RENRAKU KYOUGIKAI
OSAKA FU IKUNO POLICE STATION, CONTACT 06-6712-1234
==================================

Found on car windows in an area with a high Zainichi Korean population, this announcement is being distributed by the Ikuno Sangyoukai
http://www.ikuno.or.jp/1_1.htm Phone 06-6757-2551

Of course, the odd thing about this flyer is, as eruditely pointed out by Andrew at The Community:

==================================
I know this will probably sound obvious, but some of my concerns regarding the leaflets are:

— They are directed at employers. Passport forgery and bogus marriages, while illegal, are not something a potential employer can or should police. Any revised posters should not mention the other two offenses at all. They should merely remind employers that hiring foreign workers with inappropriate visa status is illegal and to check this status.

— The caricatures are racist and would be more appropriate in World War II propaganda. It also implies that all foreign nationals are physically distinguishable from the Japanese population, and furthermore hints that those with illegal status are readily identifiable. Lose them in any reprints.

— Again, as the leaflets are aimed at employers, statements of “rapidly rising foreigner crime” are irrelevant, not to mention highly questionable. Lose them.

Essentially, if it is necessary to alert businesses to the fact that hiring foreign workers without the correct visa status is a criminal act, fine. Just don’t try to use perceptions of crime by foreign nationals as justification.
==================================

Of course, as somebody else pointed out, how are you to trust NJ passports anymore when they too might be forgeries?

Anyway, any crackdown on this sort of thing should focus on the punishment towards the employer, not on the evils of the employee. It is not a Chicken-or-Egg situation. Japan’s factories are bringing and keeping NJ workers here in the first place, legally and illegally. But enforcing that would go against blaming the easier target of the disenfranchised…

Give the phone numbers in Ikuno-ku a call, see what’s on their mind. I dare ya. Meanwhile, let’s look at how the children of immigrants are being treated:

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

3) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR SCHOOL PROBLEMS

I mentioned in late May about the Hair Police found in Japan’s schools (http://www.debito.org/?p=412), and how they are allegedly forcing international students to dye their natural hair color to black.

Well, now according to Japan’s wild Weeklies, NJ are being disruptive of the natural ordeure as well:

==================================
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…

“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.”
http://www.debito.org/?p=458
==================================

That’s just about as convenient a rewriting of history as I’ve ever seen in Japan… And kudos to the anonymous “education insiders”, who pop up like troglodytes whenever somebody needs a nasty quote.

Speaking of international conquests:

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

4) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR MILITARY PROBLEMS

I had heard rumors of Japan’s Self Defense Forces’ disinclination towards NJ from cyberspace:

==================================
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 equipment. He believes it’s more doubtful as I’m non-Asian but says this has happened recently with the Chinese wives of SDF personnel….

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.
http://www.debito.org/?p=460
==================================

Now a crackdown against collaborators and consorters has hit the press:

==================================
MSDF OFFICERS WITH FOREIGN SPOUSES TO BE MOVED FROM SENSITIVE POSTS
Japan Today, Thursday, June 28, 2007

http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/410685

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 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….

A 33-year-old petty officer allegedly obtained confidential data on the Aegis system without authorization… However, an unconfirmed newspaper report later said the leak may have occurred by accident when the officer was swapping pornography over the Internet.
http://www.debito.org/?p=460
==================================

Great. Some sukebe officer gets caught with his hand in his till, and now all NJ spouses are suspect? Imagine the uproar that would ensue in, say, the US, if the US military or State Department (with their high numbers of international spouses) were to engage in these sorts of practices. Security clearances notwithstanding, I doubt they would get away with treating their employees as untrustworthy just because they married foreigners, naturally all suspicious as spies!

It gets funnier:

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

5) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR SPORTS PROBLEMS

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.
http://www.debito.org/?p=417

Now the restrictions are spreading to other sports:

==================================
GROUPS TRY TO LEVEL PLAYING FIELD BY LIMITING FOREIGN PLAYERS
06/29/2007 The Asahi Shinbun

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200706290152.html

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…

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.”
==================================

Did we hear that right? MAKING SPORTING EVENTS DULL?? How about encouraging people to try harder in the spirit of fair play?

A friend of mine disputes whether this is actually going on:

==================================
As I mentioned when I posted this on FG, I know quite a bit about school athletics and their workings here in Japan. As a result, I do not hear this disgruntled or angry fan BS. As a matter of fact, I have not heard anything about the Kenyan students and other African [student runners], other than they are quite fast. What I smell here is the losing coaches using this together with the usual “Ware Ware Nihonjin” crowd, to try to get rid of the edge.

Normally, the All Japan Sports Associations only entertain complaints or requests from the leagues, the schools (read the kantokusan-tachi), local governments, or in flagrant incidents, act themselves on incidents which impact on their sport. Only an extremely large number of complaints from fans would make them take this type of action, and it would have to be a truly large number to make them jump consensus to make this type of ruling.

I really suspect it is a testing of the waters to see what other issues they can explore. There have been major on-going discussions about exchange students in HS baseball and its impact. Primarily the Brazilians. Most of this is probably not racial as much as it is backlash to the large number of the big pro stars bailing out of Japan and going to the States. There has been major calls for more protectionism i.e. the driving question if that of “What will happen to Nippon no Yakyu?”…
http://www.debito.org/?p=417#comment-27381
==================================

Still, gotta feel sorry for all those NJ kids going to high school in Japan. 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.

And 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 now clearly have.

These twits should look what’s going on in Sumo these days, with their more open rules:
==================================
LATEST SUMO BANZUKE SHOWS ONE THIRD OF TOP RANKED ARE NJ
Debito.org, June 29, 2007, full details at

http://www.debito.org/?p=464
==================================

Or actually, perhaps they are. We wouldn’t want other sports to go the way of the “kokugi”, now, would we.

Finally, here’s the best one of all, saved for last, about how NJ are being used for political boondoggle:

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

6) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR SHIPPING PROBLEMS

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 increase the percentage of Japanese crew on their ships. For security reasons?

==================================
MOVE EYED TO RAISE JAPANESE CREW NUMBERS
05/22/2007 The Asahi Shinbun

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…

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…
http://www.debito.org/?p=411
==================================

Uh… I don’t see the connection. Now NJ crew are threatening Japan’s ships too? By NOT being available?

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 NOT being able to rely on foreigners), and watch the public purse strings fly open.

**********************************************

With all this blame gaming going on, I’m surprised somebody hasn’t blamed the foreigners for, say, the state of Japan’s low level of English.

Oh wait, somebody has. Kitakyushu University’s Noriguchi Shinichiro last year in the Asahi Shinbun:

==================================
http://www.debito.org/?p=65
“I am frequently asked whether Japanese are by nature adept at becoming proficient speakers of English. My answer is no. It is very difficult for us to become fluent speakers of English. There are three reasons for this; the Japanese mentality, the characteristics of the Japanese language and the homogeneous nature of this nation.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=34
“In particular, native speakers who have lived in Japan for more than 10 years tend to have adapted to the system and have become ineffective as teachers–this is also partly because their English has become Japanized and is spoken to suit the ears of their Japanese students.”
==================================

But let’s return to how to deal with the more serious problems of immigration and Japan’s future.

True to form, the GOJ too is shifting the blame, cracking down on the NJ instead of thinking about the reasons they’re here in the first place:

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

7) HOW THE GOJ INTENDS TO DEAL WITH IT:
RIOT POLICE, CHECKPOINT CHARLIE, AND SHORTENED VISAS

My previous DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTERwas on the current debate within the policymakers on what to do about NJ workers. I’ve since written a paper developing the issue more fully for my June 23, 2007 speech at the Asian Studies Conference Japan (http://www.debito.org/publications.html#SPEECHES).

Eric Johnston’s also done a great round-up of the issues here:
==================================
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

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070607f1.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=443
==================================

The heaviest actor in this debate, the Ministry of Justice, is encouraging an entire revamp of the visa system. MOJ Minister Nagase advocates a system where it’s clear that NJ workers are only here for up to three years, then out for good (which ironically would disincentivize any employer from actually needing to “train” their “Trainees”). Just make the revolving-door system clear and admit we only want NJ as unskilled labor, to pound sheet metal and clean pig sties. And let’s hope the quality of worker we get and underpay doesn’t commit any crimes.

No actor in the debate explicitly states that NJ should actually be encouraged to immigrate to Japan, of course. Although that is what Debito.org has stated time and time again is going to happen no matter what.
http://www.debito.org/japanfocus011206.html

So with the sand-ostriching comes a renewed manning of the defenses, which of course apply to “illegals” and “terrorists” (which never apply to Japanese, naturally):

IBARAKI NATIONAL POLICE AGENCY ON HOW TO DEAL WITH NJ: RIOT POLICE

Ibaraki NPA flyer found June 2007 reads:
=============================
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)
=============================
See it at http://www.debito.org/?p=448

Nothing like six riot police (seven, actually–look closely) in full regalia to protect us from the alien horde. Er, can a horde be one person? Anyway, yet another example of overreaction and targeting by the government towards NJ. More examples of the same at:
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police
http://www.debito.org/opportunism.html

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.

As for the rest of you “good foreigners” out there (yes, that includes you Permanent Residents too), you get yours whenever you cross Japan’s border:

=============================
MOJ WEBSITE ON REINSTATED FINGERPRINTING AT IMMIGRATION FROM NOV 2007
Debito.org June 17, 2007

http://www.debito.org/?p=454

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 MOJ website, English original):
————————————————–
1. Persons under the age of 16
2. Special status permanent residents
[i.e. 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”

————————————————–

This means even people who are long-term residents will get fingerprinting reinstated, despite having it abolished after decades of protest in 1999. (See article on this at http://www.debito.org/fingerprinting.html) And upon reentry, you will be separated from the Japanese members of your families (as the system stands right now, according to yesterday’s research, http://www.debito.org/?p=454), and forced to stand in the Foreigners’ Line for due processing regardless of how long you’ve lived here.

And this time, if you don’t comply with the biometric data taken every time you reenter, 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”. Save them from themselves.

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 is pretty presumptuous, and historically inaccurate.
=============================

Why is the GOJ doing this? Because it can. If the government 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)

REFERENTIAL LINKS, tracing the arc of this policy through Japan Times articles, and further feedback and research on this subject from cyberspace from:
http://www.debito.org/?p=454
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

All for today. Sorry this newsletter is so long this time. Don’t blame me. It was the Gaijin wot made me do it.

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
DEBITO.ORG JULY 3, 2007 NEWSLETTER ENDS

JTs on rackets for immigrant workers, runaway Trainees

mytest

Hi Blog. More information on how Japan exploits NJ labor for its own purposes. First Japan Today on how trainees are trying to get the hell out of a bad situation, then the Japan Times with more on these government-sponsored rackets.

Some important stats below. Probably still not enough for the academics to accept somehow “empirically” there’s a real problem out there, but heads tend to remain in the sand as long as possible on these things (especially to those for whom “problems” are not a matter of existence, but of degree; everything counts in large amounts, you see).

More on what I’ve said about this issue in the past here and here. Debito in Sapporo

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

Nearly 10,000 foreigners disappear from job training sites in Japan 2002-2006
JAPAN TODAY.COM/KYODO NEWS
Monday, July 2, 2007 at 05:00 EDT

http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/411066
Courtesy Mark Mino-Thompson of The Community

TOKYO — A total of 9,607 foreigners, mostly Asians, ran away from job training sites in Japan between 2002 and 2006 in an apparent attempt to look for better working conditions elsewhere, according to the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau.

The situation shows that the Japanese system of accepting foreigners to train as skilled workers has become mostly a ceremonial affair and, in reality, is just a mechanism for foreigners to work on lower wages.

The figures compiled by the bureau based on reports from those which accepted trainees showed that Chinese workers topped all other nationalities with 4,521 disappearing from training sites. The number accounted for 47.06% of the total.

Vietnamese were second with 2,674 or 27.83% and Indonesians third with 1,610 or 16.76%.

Runaway trainees totaled 1,376 in 2002, soared to 2,304 in 2003 and amounted to 2,201 in 2006. Former trainees illegally remaining in Japan totaled 3,333 as of Jan 1 this year. All others who disappeared earlier were said to have left Japan.

Some said that the situation that has resulted from foreigners escaping from their training places demonstrates that the flow of non-Japanese workers wishing to earn money in Japan has reached the level beyond the control of the trainee system which originally had called for Japan to offer foreigners three-years job training assistance.

They also said Japan is being pressed to make a clear-cut decision on whether it is ready to formally accept unskilled workers from foreign countries.

It has become a daily scene for foreign trainees working at town factories or on fishing boats across Japan, a fact that they have become a workforce that serves the need of Japan and that the domestic industry cannot operate without them.

However, there are no well-defined stipulations concerning trainees’ wages and rights because they are not considered workers for the first year after entering Japan. Their stay in Japan is limited to three years, including the period they spend undergoing hands-on experience.

About 26,000 trainees have gone to Japan as trainees since 1993 under Indonesian government supervision and 1,775 of them ran away from their training sites while 1,577 others returned home without completing training. The largest number of runaway trainees was seen when 53 of 76 trainees who left Indonesia on July 8, 2002 disappeared.

Indonesian government officials said trouble with Japanese hosts who accepted them for training may have been the biggest reason for their disappearance.

A sense of alienation between the reality confronting trainees and the system that allowed them to be in Japan has led to a number of incidents recently.

Police unmasked a case in Okayama Prefecture involving a group of Indonesians who allegedly smuggled themselves into Japan using fictitious names and seeking a long-term stay as trainees. Some other trainees filed suits with courts in Aomori and Aichi prefectures seeking unpaid wages.

Such cases do not remain mere individual problems since the flow of workers is connected to economic globalization aimed at eliminating barriers between nations that shun human movement.

As a trading nation, Japan is trying to press ahead with the conclusion of free trade agreements with Asian countries and member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and to earn profits by exporting tariff free goods, including high performance industrial products.

On the other hand, it is natural for a country like the Philippines, which cannot manufacture industrial products strong enough to compete with made-in-Japan goods, to send something that it does have an edge in over Japan.

In fact, the two countries are planning to open the path for Philippine nurses to work in Japan based on an economic partnership agreement. (Kyodo News)

======================================
MEDIA MIX
Immigrant workers in Japan caught in a real racket
By PHILIP BRASOR
The Japan Times Sunday, July 1, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20070701pb.html
Courtesy Ron Beaubien of The Community

The debate over whether Japan should allow foreign workers in to make up for current and future labor shortages is dominated by the so-called foreign trainee program, which is overseen by the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization (JITCO). The program is itself the subject of a debate, which boils down to the age-old Japanese dynamic of honne vs. tatemae.

The tatemae (given reason) of the program is to bring workers from developing countries to Japan to learn Japanese techniques that they can later put to use back home. The honne (real reason) of the program is to legally let small and medium Japanese companies import cheap labor. According to a recent series of articles in the Asahi Shimbun, the Japanese public for the most part still buys the tatemae explanation, even though the media has been reporting for years that many foreign trainees come to Japan for the express purpose of making money.

As with most controversies that don’t touch directly on the lives of average people, the only related news that makes an impression is the sensational kind. In August of last year, a 27-year-old Chinese worker killed an official of a Chiba training center. The details of the case, which is now being heard at Chiba District Court, point to a much more complex situation than that which the media originally reported.

The defendant was a plumber in China who made the equivalent of 7,500 yen a month, and his purpose in coming to Japan was to earn a lot of money in a short time. However, because of trainee program rules, he wasn’t able to work and earn as much as he hoped, and he went on strike, demanding that he be allowed to work overtime at the pig farm where he’d been placed. The official in charge of the training center that brought him to Japan responded by trying to have him deported. In a fit of anger, the worker killed the official and injured two others.

According to his lawyers, in order to come to Japan to “receive training,” the defendant had borrowed more than 1 million yen in order to pay the security deposit, transportation costs, and various non-refundable fees associated with the assignment. He thought he could pay back the debt quickly by working overtime, but according to JITCO regulations a trainee is not classified as a worker for the first year. Since normal labor laws do not apply to foreign trainees until the second year (when they become “interns”), they can be paid less than the minimum wage.

Most people believe that potential trainees pay their fees to brokers in China, and they do. But according to the Asahi, the worker on trial paid his fees to the Chiba training center, which has set up its own dispatch company in China to recruit trainees. Though such a system turns the training center into a broker at best and a trafficker at worst, there is no specific JITCO rule that says dispatch companies cannot profit from trainees.

For tatemae purposes, businesses cannot directly request foreign workers from JITCO. They must go through local organizations, which are usually trade or industry associations. Each of these groups pay JITCO 100,000 yen a year, while each member company pays 50,000 yen a year. In a June 1 article, the Mainichi Shimbun reported that 925 such organizations comprising 9,857 companies paid these fees to JITCO in 2001. By 2005 the numbers had increased to 1,493 groups and more than 17,000 companies. JITCO’s revenues for 2006 topped 1.2 billion yen, which is why its budget from the government has been steadily decreasing.

The Mainichi contends that as JITCO has become more self-sufficient, it has taken on the culture of a private company. Some industry officials told the newspaper that as more associations join, JITCO feels it has to treat them as “customers,” which means JITCO is more likely to look the other way with regard to common illegal practices such as confiscating trainee passports and 14-hour work days. One employer said appreciatively that JITCO calls him beforehand to tell him when they are coming for a surprise inspection.

JITCO has even set up an insurance system with 11 major companies that brings in about 100 million yen annually. Workers pay premiums of 27-37,000 yen a year. The average “allowance” for first-year trainees is 66,000 yen a month.

A racket by any other name wouldn’t smell as sweet. JITCO was originally the brainchild of five different government ministries that have filled its staff with retired bureaucrats ever since. Three of these ministries seem to have realized that the program’s real raison d’e^tre has become too obvious. The justice ministry wants to get rid of the trainee system and allow foreign workers into Japan for limited periods, while the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the health ministry want to keep the system and merely give it a tweak.

Missing from the debate are the workers themselves. The irony is that there are foreign trainees who join the program because they really want to acquire skills, but most of them end up performing manual labor on farms or in factories. Regardless of their intentions, the workers always lose. If they want to earn a lot of money, the system denies them the opportunity to do so; and if they want to come to learn a skill, the system is not equipped to do that, either.

For balance, the Asahi interviewed the director of a sewing industry association in Hiroshima that receives trainees. He says his program genuinely transfers skills to developing countries, but he also insists that the foreign trainee system is “indispensable” to small Japanese companies. Without it, these companies would be forced to move overseas. It sounds like a threat, but what’s the difference between using cheap foreign workers in Japan and using them in a foreign country? The difference is that in Japan you can make more money off of them.

The Japan Times: Sunday, July 1, 2007
ENDS

Eric Johnston on NOVA and the Eikaiwa Industry

mytest

Hello Blog. About two weeks ago I sent mailing lists on Debito.org a request for information from Eric Johnston, Osaka Bureau Editor for the Japan Times, regarding NOVA and the Eikaiwa industry. Here’s a thank you he asked me to forward, and how the article turned out. Old news, but still very interesting. And it has the potential for shaking up the pretty rotten (both for consumer and for worker) Eikaiwa market in Japan. Debito in Sapporo

============================================
Subject: From: Eric Johnston –Thanks and a request for posting
Date: June 27, 2007 5:31:57 PM JST

To: List Members of Debito.org

Thanks to all who took time out of your busy schedules to answer my questions for the piece on NOVA and chain schools. I received lots of good advice to pass along to potential students, and learned quite a bit about how professional educators view the chain schools today.

The piece, coming out soon, will very much be a “news-you-can-use” type article. It’s aimed towards our younger Japanese readers, perhaps those in college or on their own for the first time in their lives, who are thinking about studying at a chain school. Much of the advice you’ll see in the article is simply common sense. But, as Will Rogers said, common sense is not so common, and good advice bears repeating.

Best, and again, thanks so much to everyone who wrote to me.

Eric Johnston
The Japan Times
Osaka bureau

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

Study the school before studying English
The Japan Times June 28, 2007
By ERIC JOHNSTON, Staff writer

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070628f1.html

OSAKA * Thinking about studying English at a private school chain? If so, proceed with caution and know what you’re getting into, say university English professors, teachers union representatives and the English-language schools themselves.

Their comments follow a recent scandal involving Nova Corp., which has cast a spotlight on the business practices of the “eikaiwa” English conversation industry.

Earlier this month, the government slapped the industry’s top company with a six-month ban on new customer contracts due to its deceptive practices, including distributing pamphlets that claim students can schedule classes at any time or branch, when in fact there was a shortage of teachers at times of peak demand.

Branches were also allegedly reneging on contract cooling-off period reimbursements.

Many academics warn that the primary purpose of the schools is not to provide an education but to offer a form of entertainment.

“At best, these chain schools are hit and miss. If they get a good teacher, they’re lucky and it’s worthwhile attending. If not, then it’s a ripoff,” said Rube Redfield, a longtime English instructor who teaches at Osaka University of Economics.

“I also tell them that if they find a good teacher, to take his class right away. Good teachers soon leave such places for better places, if they stay in education at all,” he added.

Many potential students are aware some schools are more about entertainment than education, and are more interested in having a good time and meeting new friends than in serious study. But the more naive students also don’t always realize that such schools have basically the same kind of mentality toward their customers as one sees in the “water trade.”

In Japan, the water trade, or “mizushobai,” refers to hostess bars and other forms of adult entertainment business.

The phrase carries the negative image of an industry bent on doing anything to earn quick money.
“I tell my students that the entire eikaiwa industry is a kind of mizushobai industry, and that the motives of those involved, including the customers, should be judged accordingly,” said Charles DeWolf, a professor at Keio University in Tokyo.

Such naive students are often lured into conversation schools by fast-talking salespeople who offer pie-in-the-sky promises of language fluency with little effort and within a short period of time, and are often clueless as to how much work is actually involved in becoming fluent.

“If you bought three years of tickets, were at a large school, got to know and choose your teachers, went every day, did all your homework and stayed in the chat room for long periods, your English would improve and it would be value for money. Otherwise, it’s not,” said Simon Moran of Osaka-based Modern English, a small chain of schools.

Despite the industry’s negative image often associated with consumer fraud, however, some efforts are being made to set ethics guidelines.

The Tokyo-based Japan Association for the Promotion of Foreign Language Education is a group of more than 60 large and small foreign-language schools nationwide. Established in 1991, its purpose is to provide member schools with business ethics guidelines and to offer practical advice to those seeking to learn a foreign language.

“We tell potential students to do as much research on schools as possible before they sign up. What’s most important for anybody who wants to learn a foreign language is to have a very clear idea of why they want to study,” said Masami Sakurabayashi, the association’s director.

“In addition, it’s vital that students, especially those who are young and on their own for the first time, understand and appreciate a contract’s legal ramifications and the obligations they are entering into. Don’t sign anything you don’t understand,” he warned.

Louis Carlet, deputy general secretary of Tokyo Nambu, one of the largest foreign teachers unions in the country, seconded that advice and added that serious students should not only look at schools but also at the working conditions of the teachers.

“It’s generally true that job security equals quality of education,” he said.

Despite a general agreement that the vast majority of students are not likely to become extremely fluent by just studying at a private school, some still see educational merit in signing up for lessons.

“Although there are many cons to their operations, private language schools often have classes of only three or four students, as opposed to classes of 40 like I teach now at university,” said Nara-based Paul Hackshaw, who teaches at Ryukoku University and Kyoto Women’s University.

Students often join an English school to meet and speak with people from a foreign country. But, as many English teachers in both private schools and universities point out, if meeting foreigners and learning English informally is your goal, there can be other, cheaper ways to do so, ranging from participation in international clubs to free language exchange meetings through local international exchange centers.

Thus, in this day and age, and especially if you live in an area of Japan with a modest population of foreigners, English schools are simply another way to learn English, and not necessarily the best or cheapest way. Let the buyer beware.

For related stories:
Nova dealt penalty for deception
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070614a1.html

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

SIDEBAR
Before you hand over any money for English lessons, take these tips

University English professors, people working at chain schools, union representatives and former students offer the following advice for people interested in studying English at private-language schools:

— Are you serious about becoming fluent or are you interested in just picking up a few words and phrases? If it’s the former, a school may be worthwhile. If it’s the latter, decide if your time and money may be better spent elsewhere. Alternatives for the casual learner include Internet lessons, self-study guides or finding either a private tutor or free language exchange partner through a municipal international exchange center.

— Have a strong idea why you want to study at a school, and set fluency goals for yourself. Be prepared to put in the time and effort it takes to reach your goal and create a plan to meet that goal. Otherwise, it’s highly likely you will quit halfway through.

— Identify and visit those schools you think are best suited to your goals and personality. Ask to sit in on a lesson that is in progress, as this will give you a better idea of what the school’s lessons and classroom atmosphere are really like, as opposed to signing up for a free trial lesson, which may not be representative of how the school works.

— Ask each school why students study there, and determine whether their goals are the same as yours.

— Ask the sales staff what professional qualifications the teachers have. Do they have master’s degrees or teaching certificates? How long have they been in Japan? How long have they worked as English teachers? Can they explain things in Japanese if necessary?

— Ask the sales staff about their own English-language speaking abilities, including how long and where they studied.

— Ask to speak to a teacher, one on one. Ask the teacher what texts are being used, how they teach and whether any extra investment in outside learning materials is necessary. If you are a low-level speaker of English, ask your questions in Japanese and see if the teacher understands you.

— When possible, consult beforehand with university professors of English, former students, foreign friends and those who use English on a regular basis, and ask them if they know about the school or its reputation. Check the English-language and Japanese media and see what has been reported about the school.

— If you don’t understand the contract 100 percent, don’t sign it.

— Find out what unions represent the teachers at the school you are interested in, and ask them about the school’s reputation.

ARTICLE ENDS

“Beware of foreigners” leaflets in Ikuno-ku, Osaka

mytest

Hi Blog. This has come up on The Community Mailing List:

Jon writes:
============================
A friend of mine found this on a car in Ikunoku and said there were plenty of them around. Anyone in Osaka want to help me do something about this?
http://img294.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img2007jun26ih4.jpg
ikutakukeisatsuJune07.jpg

(NB: For those who find the flyer hard to read:
HELP US STOP ILLEGAL LABOR AND FOREIGN OVERSTAYERS!
(Images of Illegal overstayers, long-nosed fraudulent grooms, passport forgers, and illegal workers: All including blondies, of course.)
THESE DAYS WHERE FOREIGN CRIME IS RISING FAST [Even though, according to the Mainichi Feb 07, it’s dropping. So is, according to Immigration, foreign overstaying.]
CHECK THE STATUS OF RESIDENCE AND PERIOD OF STAY ON THEIR PASSPORTS, TO ENSURE YOU EMPLOY A FOREIGNER PROPERLY!!
THERE WILL BE PENALITIES FOR EMPLOYERS WHO EMPLOY FOREIGNERS NOT PERMITTED TO WORK, AS WELL AS THOSE WHO ACT AS INTERMEDIARIES.
WE ASK YOU TO COOPERATE IN ORDER TO GIVE US A SAFE AND LIVABLE TOWN ENVIRONMENT WITHIN IKUNO-KU.
IKUNO SANGYOU ROUDOUSHA KOKUSAIKA TAISAKU RENRAKU KYOUGIKAI
OSAKA FU IKUNO POLICE STATION, CONTACT 06-6712-1234)

I found at http://www.ikuno.or.jp/1_1.htm that this flyer is being distributed by the Ikuno Sangyoukai.
名称 社団法人 生野産業会
会長 三宅 一嘉
所在地 〒544-0004 大阪市生野区巽北1丁目21番23号
電話番号 06-6757-2551
FAX番号 06-6754-2186
============================

Declan adds:
============================
For what it is worth, practically every chamber of commerce in the
country had meetings this month with regards to foreign employees.

My chamber held a meeting June 8th
http://www.okazakicci.or.jp/goma/68foreigner.pdf

I didn’t attend because I was overseas at the time, but as far as I know
there were no harebrained schemes for leafletting cars on the streets.

I don’t see any point in counter leaflets. Perhaps a better approach
might just be to write a letter to the sangyoukai asking for them to
refrain from littering, and to suggest that instead of distributing
leaflets, that they ensure that all of the companies in their membership
are in fact checking the bona fides of any foreigners in their employment,
and that the hotels/accommodation sector of their membership
aren’t demanding passport copies from Japan residents etc. Something
conciliatory and practical is usually the best way to start a dialogue.
============================

Dave suggests:
============================
The clear first step in doing anything about this is to call the number
on the leaflet and get some information.

The main information to get is to find out who exactly within the
chamber of commerce is the project leader for this, who is their public
representative, and that sort of thing.

Then, if possible, initiate a meeting or a phone call where the matter
can be formally discussed. Find out why they are doing this now, what
their concerns are, how this all came about.

During that meeting or phone call, see if you can point out where
they’ve given into fears and departed from facts, and see how much they
can be swayed.

At all steps, record the conversations.

Whether or not anything further can or should be done will be very clear
once all those kinds of facts are in.

You’d be surprised at how far some dialogue can go. A lot of the people
behind these things aren’t deliberately rejecting facts about foreign
crime, they’re just blissfully ignorant. A polite discussion with a
foreigner who has his facts straight can make a big impression.

The ideal candidate for this task is someone who can communicate well in
Japanese and can be in Osaka to really talk to these people.
============================

Readers of Debito.org who would like to try their hand at a little activism are encouraged to investigate this further. Tell us how things go in the Comments section of this Blog? Debito in Sapporo

ANDREW SMALLACOMBE AT THE COMMUNITY ADDS:

============================
I know this will probably sound obvious, butsome of my concerns
regarding the leaflets are:

– They are directed at employers. Passport forgery and bogus
marriages, while illegal, are not something a potential employer can
or should police. Any revised posters should not mention the other
two offenses at all. They should merely remind employers that hiring
foreign workers with inappropriate visa status is illegal and to
check this status.

– The caricatures are racist and would be more appropriate in World
War II propeganda. It also implies that all foreign nationals are
physically distinguishable from the Japanese poplulation, and
furthermore hints that those with illegal status are readily
identifiable. Lose them in any reprints.

-Again, as the leaflets are aimed at employers, statements
of “rapidly rising foreigner crime” are irrelevant, not to mention
highly questionable. Lose them.

Essentially, if it is necessary to alert businesses to the fact that
hiring foreign workers without the correct visa status is a criminal
act, fine. Just don’t try to use perceptions of crime by foreign
nationals as justification.
============================
ENDS

UPDATE JULY 6: THERE HAS BEEN MOVEMENT ON THIS ISSUE, SEE COMMENTS SECTION FOR UPDATES…

JULY 8: FOOD FOR THOUGHT, SENT TO ME BY M.D.:
perspective.jpg

DEBITO.ORG IN NO WAY SUPPORTS THE IMAGES BEING DISPLAYED ABOVE, BUT FEELS IT IS A USEFUL EXERCISE TO PUT THE SHOE ON THE OTHER FOOT. DO YOU THINK THE GOJ WOULD SIT IDLY BY IF THESE IMAGES WERE BEING PUT OUT BY POLICE FORCES IN OTHER COUNTRIES?

Asahi: Shizuoka Pref residents block Brazilian from buying land

mytest

Hi Blog. Another one of these “get a load of this” situations…

A local residents’ association, citing fears of crime and foreigners fleeing the country after committing them, worked together to block a realtor from doing his job as intermediary for a house purchase by a 3rd-generation Nikkei Brazilian man in the (appropriately named) Nagamizo area of Iwata City, Shizuoka.

The MOJ’s Bureau of Human Rights as usual showed its ineffectuality by saying the NJ purchaser was in the right, even had his human rights violated, but had no way to set things right with any enforcement mechanisms. (See another example of this BOHR ineffectuality on Debito.org)

So the residents kick him out, and continue to man the barricades against any more foreigners. Nice work. Wonder what would happen if this happened to Japanese in other countries? The Japanese press would have a field day vilifying the town and making the excluded Japanese into victims, the GOJ MOFA would lodge formal complaints, tourism from Japan there would decrease… is not too much a stretch of the imagination. The shoe’s never on the other foot here, it seems. Debito in Sapporo

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Racism surfaces over bid by foreigner to buy land, settle
06/29/2007 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200706290148.html

FUKUROI, Shizuoka Prefecture– Fearful that they would be inviting crime to their neighborhood, residents blocked an attempt by a Japanese-Brazilian man to buy land on which to build a house.

The local regional legal affairs bureau said their actions constituted a “violation of human rights” and told the parties involved that if a similar situation occurred in the future they should handle it better.

In the end, the man was forced to purchase property elsewhere.

The 30-year-old factory worker had his heart set on purchasing a 200-square-meter plot through a realtor in the nearby city of Iwata in April last year, said sources familiar with the matter.

The third-generation Japanese-Brazilian had planned to build a detached house on the plot in the Nagamizo district of Fukuroi.

But before he could sign the contract, a group of local residents who are members of the Nagamizo community association raised objections to the purchase after they learned from the realtor that the buyer was of Brazilian ancestry.

The group, which at the time comprised 12 households, notified the real estate company of its intention to stop the man from moving in, the sources said.

One resident, citing a perception that Brazilians are prone to committing crimes, said, “I feared that something might happen.” The woman alluded to a number of reports about Brazilians fleeing Japan to avoid prosecution for crimes committed in Japan.

An official with the civil liberties division of the Shizuoka Legal Affairs Bureau, a regional branch of the Justice Ministry, refused to discuss the case, citing the need for confidentiality.

But the official noted that in general the approval of neighborhood residents is not necessary for a real estate transaction.

“As long as the seller and the buyer agree on the terms, the deal goes through, regardless of opposition from local residents,” he said.

In the end, the Japanese-Brazilian was unable to buy the land because the realtor failed to fulfill its obligation to act as an intermediary. The man took his case to the Fukuroi branch of the Shizuoka Legal Affairs Bureau in May last year, contending that a “violation of human rights” had occurred.

The bureau agreed with the man after studying the case and talked to the community association group and the president of the real estate company about ending local opposition to the man’s quest to build a home. The meeting took place some time before June 6 this year, the sources said.

The Shizuoka Legal Affairs Bureau official said that even if the residents and the realtor had committed what the bureau deemed to be a violation of human rights, there were no provisions to punish the parties.

“The bureau’s function is to educate the public about human rights issues by pointing out what constitute violations of human rights,” the official said.

The head of the Nagamizo community association stated bluntly that non-Japanese are not welcome in the neighborhood. “Honestly speaking, we don’t want (Brazilians) to move into the neighborhood if possible,” the person said. “We need to think about how we should deal with similar situations if a Brazilian wants to buy a plot of land here in the future.”

The Japanese-Brazilian acknowledges that the overall image of Brazilians is not good, but he urged people to look at them individually.

“I hold down a job and I am able to speak Japanese,” he said. “Although I had planned to meet those residents in person, I was told ‘not to bother.'”

The man bought a 160-square meter land in a different section of the city and built a house on it.(IHT/Asahi: June 29,2007)
ARTICLE ENDS

毎日等:静岡県袋井の自治会がブラジル人転居反対・土地購入を断念

mytest

ボログの愛読者、おはようございます。今回の記事に出た人はかわいそうで、政府レベルの救済制度は相変わらず足りないのは過言ではありません。
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

人権侵害:ブラジル人引っ越し「拒否は不適切」 法務局、自治会班長に説示/静岡
毎日新聞(静岡版)2007年6月29日
http://www.mainichi-msn.co.jp/chihou/shizuoka/news/20070629ddlk22040111000c.html
s-watchメーリングリストへ感謝

 日系3世のブラジル人男性が袋井市内に引っ越そうとした際に自治会の住民が
拒否したのは人権侵害にあたるなどとして、静岡地方法務局が、自治会班長らに
対して自戒を求めて説示していたことが28日までに分かった。自治会関係者は
「外国人のいない昔からの集落で、トラブルが心配だった」と話している。

 関係者によると、06年4月、男性が袋井市長溝に家族で暮らす一戸建て住宅
用の土地約200平方メートルを購入しようとした際、不動産会社が近隣住民に
「ブラジル人が土地を買う」と通知。自治会の班長が12集落の意見を聞いて3
分の2の賛成で受け入れない方針を決めた。その後、土地購入が破談になった男
性が法務局へ訴えたという。

 法務局は、班長に対して「外国人であることを理由に土地購入を歓迎しない意
向を示したのは不適切。今後繰り返さないように」、不動産会社には「外国人が
買うことを住民に通知してはいけない」と説示した。説示には法的効力はない。

 ある自治会の男性は「ブラジル人がすべて悪い人だとは思っていないが、最近
はブラジル人の犯罪をよく聞くので、入った後に問題が生じるのは避けたかった」
とする。不動産会社は「知らせないとトラブルがあった後に住民から会社のせい
だと言われる。今後通知はしないが何かあったときの責任は法務局が負うという
ので任せたい」と話している。【竹地広憲】
毎日新聞 2007年6月29日
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

クイックコメント:これから前向きに家に投資するぐらいの溶け込もうとする外国人はどーしても隣人から「犯罪者扱い」になりますか。このイメージの蔓延には責任は警察署などにはありませんか。
ikutakukeisatsuJune07.jpg
(07年6月、車の窓グラスに置いておいたチラシより)
念のために、もう一つの記事を。有道 出人
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

袋井の自治会がブラジル人転居反対 土地購入を断念
中日新聞(静岡版)2007年6月29日
http://www.chunichi.co.jp/article/shizuoka/20070629/CK2007062802028191.html

 袋井市在住で永住許可を持つ日系ブラジル人の30代男性が、市内に新居用の
土地を買おうとしたところ、地域住民が反対し、土地購入を断念していたことが
分かった。男性の知人によると、男性は「まじめに生活しているのにがっかりし
た。外国人を差別しないでほしい」と訴えている。

 知人によると男性は、妻と子ども1人の3人家族。数年前から同市内の市営団
地で暮らし、2002年に永住許可を取得した。同市内に一戸建ての家を建てよ
うと06年4月、磐田市内の不動産会社の仲介で市内の土地(約200平方メー
トル)を紹介された。契約前に不動産会社が「土地の購入者はブラジル人」と地
元自治会に伝えたところ、住民が反発。住民は会合を開いて、男性家族の転居反
対を決めたという。

 男性は、知人と一緒に静岡地方法務局袋井支局に相談。同支局は事実を確認し、
今月6日までに同自治会と不動産会社に「人権侵犯の事実にあたる」と説示した。

 法務局人権擁護課の大橋光典課長は「プライバシーにかかわる問題なので、詳
細はコメントできない」としながらも「差別があったとしたら、地域住民への啓
発など必要な措置を検討したい」と話している。
ENDS