Mainichi: Iranian acquitted of indecent assault over lack of evidence

mytest

Hi Blog. Here’s a bit of hope for Mr Idubor, accused similarly of a sexual crime and still being held for eight months now despite no evidence.

A person’s (a NJ, to boot) case has been dismissed for “lack of evidence”. Good. Pity it took over a year and a half to come to this conclusion.

What I also find rather amusing about the case below is the “fondling”, causing “slight neck injuries”? What are we talking about here, hickies?

Case dismissed. Debito.

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Man acquitted of indecent assault over lack of evidence
Mainichi Shinbun September 28, 2007

http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20070928p2a00m0na010000c.html
Courtesy of Ben Shearon

YOKOHAMA — A man has been acquitted of the indecent assault of a woman at his home in January last year, due to lack of evidence.

The Yokohama District Court found the defendant, an antique goods dealer and an Iranian national, not guilty for a lack of evidence. Prosecutors had demanded that the accused spend four years behind bars for indecent assault, resulting in injury.

Presiding Judge Kenichi Kurita pointed out that the alleged victim’s testimony changed during the trial and could not be trusted, declaring, “It cannot be concluded that the man molested her despite her will.”

The man was charged with fondling the body of a 32-year-old acquaintance at his home in Midori-ku, Yokohama, on Jan. 28, 2006, causing her slight neck injuries. (Mainichi)

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強制わいせつ:イラン国籍の男性に無罪 横浜地裁
http://www.mainichi-msn.co.jp/shakai/jiken/news/20070928k0000e040045000c.html
 知人女性の体を触るなどしたとして強制わいせつ致傷罪に問われたイラン国籍の古物商の男性に対し横浜地裁は27日、「犯罪の証明がない」として無罪(求刑・懲役4年)を言い渡した。
 男性は06年1月28日、横浜市緑区の自宅で、知人の女性(当時32歳)の体を触るなどしたうえ、首に軽傷を負わせたとして起訴された。しかし栗田健一裁判長は判決で女性の公判での供述の変遷などから「全体として信用できず、男性が女性の意志に反してわいせつな行為をしたとまで断定できない」と指摘した。【鈴木一生】
英文を読む
毎日新聞 2007年9月28日 11時26分
ENDS

HOKKAIDO NIPPON HAM FIGHTERS WIN PENNANT! AGAIN!

mytest

Great news for all us Dosanko!

The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, *OUR* local team (nyah nyah!), has just won its second pennant IN A ROW in the Pacific League. BANZAI!!

And why this matters to Debito.org: The game tonight was between two NJ coaches–Hillman and Valentine–who between them have won the last two Japan Series and now four league pennants. They’ve certainly earned their stripes in Japan. If nobody points out that it’s now the NJ coaches who are bringing winning strategies to Japan, I will, of course. (Whaddya expect?) Now let’s see if we can get restrictions removed on quotas for foreign players on Japanese baseball teams.

And why this matters to Hokkaido: We’ve become a baseball powerhouse, what with Tomakomai Komadai also winning the High School Baseball leagues twice in a row from four years ago, then coming in second last year; the fact that they hardly qualified this year is going to be salved by this victory.

Sorry to say this is Hillman’s last season with the Fighters. He’s probably heading back to Texas to be with his Rangers. He’s done plenty here. Godspeed. He will be sorely missed.

Next stop, Pacific League champs take on the Central League champs (in what looks to be the goddamn Tokyo Giants). If Hillman can beat the Giants (who once held sway as the team Hokkaido supported–not that the Giants ever cared) in a home game, to me it will be poetic justice indeed.

GANBARE NIPPON HAM FIGHTERS! BANZAI HILLMAN!!

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Japan Today/Kyodo: Japan remains haven for parental abductors

mytest

Hi Blog. Another article cataloging the nastiness that occurs when Japan will neither allow joint custody of children after divorce (meaning one parent usually just disappears from a child’s life), nor sign the Hague Convention on Child Abductions (which in international marriages encourages Japanese to abscond with their kids back to Japan, never to return). More on this phenomenon at the Children’s Rights Network Japan site at http://www.crnjapan.com

I’m personally interested in this issue, as I too have not seen one of my children since Summer 2004, and am involved in the production of a movie talking about the Murray Wood Case. More on that in a future blog entry when the directors are good and ready for publicity.

The article below, by the way, disappeared from the Japan Today archives not three days after it appeared, oddly enough. I managed to retrieve it through a search engine cache. This is why I blog whole articles on Debito.org–to make sure information doesn’t just disappear. Enjoy. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Japan remains haven for parental abductors
September 25, 2007, Japan Today/Kyodo News
By Alison Brady

Courtesy http://www.japantoday.com/jp/feature/1287

LOS ANGELES — More than a year has passed since Melissa Braden was abducted to Japan by her mother, Ryoko Uchiyama. Brokenhearted and fearful, her father, Los Angeles resident Patrick Braden, prays for the day when he will see his daughter again.

Unlike in many cases of abducted children, there is little mystery about Melissa’s location. Braden is nearly 100% certain of his daughter’s whereabouts in Japan. But there is nothing he or the U.S. government can do to get her back.

On March 8, 2006, after months of custody proceedings, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Gretchen Taylor ordered that Melissa’s passport, which Uchiyama had obtained, be turned over to Braden to prevent Uchiyama from fleeing with the child.

For the next eight days, Braden’s attorney fought Uchiyama’s to recover the passport, but to no avail. On March 16, they were gone.

The FBI issued an arrest warrant for Uchiyama within days of her departure. The FBI said she had committed a federal offense by fleeing the country to avoid prosecution.

But once on Japanese soil, Uchiyama was out of reach of U.S. law enforcement agencies. What is more, an injunction filed within hours of her arrival in Japan prevents Braden from following his former girlfriend to locate and negotiate the return of his daughter.

Experts identify several factors in Japan that have created a haven for parents who kidnap. First, Japan is not party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a civil legal mechanism to deter parents from abducting their children to other countries.

More than 75 countries worldwide have [e]ffected the treaty, thereby agreeing to return any child abducted from his or her country of habitual residence to a party country in violation of the left-behind parent’s custodial rights, according to the U.S. Department of State website.

Another factor is that parental kidnapping is not considered a crime under Japanese law and Japan refuses to extradite parents who have kidnapped their own children and face arrest in other countries.

Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare statistics show that since 1976, the time of the Hague treaty’s inception, the rate of marriage between Japanese nationals and foreign spouses has increased more than 800%.

As a result of the increasing number of international marriages, more than 21,000 children are born each year in Japan to couples of mixed Japanese and non-Japanese descent. Add to that the number of children born to Japanese who live abroad and are married to a non-Japanese.

What becomes of these bi-national children when the parents separate or divorce?

Cases like Melissa Braden’s are not uncommon. If the breakup occurs in Japan with custody proceedings taken to Japanese family court, foreign parents must battle what critics call a one-sided and often discriminatory system that almost never awards foreign parents custody of their children.

“An American parent in Japan may not be awarded any visitation rights at all in a divorce action,” explains a U.S. government official at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

Even if custody is awarded to a foreign parent in Japan, there is little means of enforcing such a court order as Japanese police rarely get involved in family cases, says Colin Jones, a professor at Doshisha University Law School in Kyoto.

Walter Benda, 50, a publisher living in Virginia, spent more than a decade and $100,000 trying to gain visitation rights to his two daughters after his wife disappeared with them in 1995 from their home in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture.

“I’ve tried every legal avenue available to me in Japan,” Benda told Kyodo News by phone. “I’ve gone to the Supreme Court with my case twice seeking visitation rights, partial custody rights, or any sort of way to see my children and I have not even had one scheduled visit with my children in all the legal efforts I’ve undertaken in Japan.”

“The police would not do anything,” Benda says, recalling the time his children first went missing. “They basically called my ex-in-laws, and the ex-in-laws said that they didn’t know anything but that they were sure the kids were okay. So, the police said that was good enough from them and they wouldn’t help me anymore beyond that except to say go see a lawyer.”

Benda went on to co-found a support group called the Children’s Rights Council of Japan, or CRCJ, to offer parents like himself a resource in the struggle to see their children again.

Issue ignored by Japanese government

CRCJ’s online group has over 90 members and in recent years the group has organized events in Washington and Tokyo aimed at increasing awareness about an issue the Japanese government has long ignored.

“No one is putting any pressure on the abducting parents right now,” Benda said. “They’re actually kind of being rewarded for their actions. Just by virtue of being born a Japanese citizen or by virtue of having abducted your children to Japan, you’re able to have 100% control of your children and deny contact to every other person…including the father and the extended family.”

There are no exact figures on how many children have been abducted to Japan. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports 46 American children have been kidnapped to Japan since 1995. That number grows considerably when factoring in children of other countries and cases that were either dropped or never reported.

Furthermore, the U.S. government has no record of even a single case in which Japan has agreed to return an abducted child by legal means to the United States.

In an increasingly global society, bi-national children have the potential to be key allies between Japan and other nations. But Japan’s failure to sign the Hague treaty is creating a barrier to good relations.

“People like me, and especially my daughter, we’re the bridge between the two countries,” Braden says, “and that fact that Japan wants to make enemies of us is a very clear demonstration of their lack of foresight on this issue.”

Not everyone believes Japan’s signing the Hague treaty will rectify the child abduction issue.

In an article for the spring 2007 edition of the Whittier Journal of Child and Family Advocacy, Doshisha University’s Jones argues, “…it might even make the situation worse by removing a red flag to judges in foreign countries who might otherwise be inclined to disallow custody or visitation arrangements that involve travel to Japan.”

But that does not deter others from fighting for progress toward Japan signing the treaty. With a growing voice, people like Braden and Benda and the CRCJ have finally begun to be heard by U.S. politicians.

California Sen Dianne Feinstein wrote a letter to Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato in Washington in June 2007, imploring him to take action in returning Melissa Braden to her rightful home.

Governor of New Mexico and Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson wrote Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in May of 2007, lamenting that “no progress has yet been made” on the Braden case, and urging her to “pursue this important issue with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.”

Asked about Melissa’s case, Kazumi Yamada at the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s First North America Division in Tokyo told Kyodo News, “We are looking into the issue and attaching priority on the welfare of the child.”

“With regard to The Hague…we are still looking at the Convention to determine what our position will be,” she added.

The longer these children are kept from their non-Japanese mothers and fathers, the more likely their welfare is to be jeopardized.

Often fed lies about the left-behind parent and kept from school and regular socialization with other children because the abducting parent is afraid of being caught, children abducted by one of their own parents are likely to suffer deep developmental and emotional scars.

“It is very clear that the position that Japan takes is bad for the children. Bad for families. Bad for all people,” Braden says.

September 25, 2007, Japan Today/Kyodo News
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 28, 2007

mytest

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 28, 2007 //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) PREGNANT NJ WOMAN REFUSED TREATMENT AT 5 HOSPITALS 7 TIMES. IN 2006!
2) BIOMETRIC DATA MACHINES AT NARITA ONLY COME NOV 2007
(NJ FACE FINGERPRINTING IN THE GAIJIN LINE IN ALL OTHER AIRPORTS)
3) AMNESTY INT’L/SMJ FORUM ON NEW GOJ FINGERPRINT LAWS OCT 27 TOKYO
4) IDUBOR CASE AND THE DANGERS OF OVEREMPOWERING THE PROSECUTION
5) FUJIMORI FINALLY GETS HIS–EXTRADITION BACK TO PERU
6) NOVA EIKAIWA FINALLY GETS THEIRS–ADVICE FOR TEACHERS IN LIMBO
7) YOMIURI: FIRST TENET OF PM ABE’S “MORAL EDUCATION” PLAN SHELVED

… and finally
8) STARS AND STRIPES: KOREAN-STYLE ETHNIC DISCRIMINATION
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Compiled by Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
RSS updates at www.debito.org/index.php
Freely Forwardable

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1) PREGNANT NJ WOMAN REFUSED TREATMENT AT 5 HOSPITALS 7 TIMES. IN 2006!

Get a load of this. It’s happening, as anticipated. When the Otaru Onsens Case (http://www.debito.org/otarulawsuit.html) first came up, one of the arguments Olaf and I made was the slippery slope. If hot springs were going to refuse NJ with impunity, what’s next? Bars? Stores? Restaurants? Hospitals?

Now it seems even hospitals refusing NJ have come to pass.

This is also happening to J women as well, the news reports. But that’s what makes this case even more ludicrous and nasty. According to the article below, these refusals happened to the NJ woman a whole year ago! It only became a “peg” for news because a similar thing recently happened to a Japanese! Oh, so until it happens to one of “us Japanese” it’s not newsworthy?? Iron na imi de hidoi! Gongo doudan!

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Foreign woman rejected 7 times by hospitals in western Japan after childbirth
Mainichi Shinbun, September 27, 2007

Courtesy http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20070927p2a00m0na022000c.html

A foreign woman seeking medical help in Japan after giving birth at home was rejected by five hospitals where officials said her Japanese wasn’t good enough and they didn’t have proper facilities, authorities said Thursday…

The incident happened in August 2006, but was reported in Japan on Thursday in the wake of the case of a 38-year-old woman who suffered a miscarriage last month after ten hospitals refused to admit her and her ambulance collided with another car…
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Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=603

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2) BIOMETRIC DATA MACHINES AT NARITA ONLY COME NOV 2007
(NJ FACE FINGERPRINTING IN THE GAIJIN LINE IN ALL OTHER AIRPORTS)

Debito.org has blogged a report from Martin Issott, who has been doing extensive follow-up research on the subject of Japan’s new anti-terrorist border controls over weeks. The new November Immigration Procedures, which will be reestablishing the fingerprint system withdrawn after decades of protest ten years ago, will be treating all foreigners as fresh off the boat. Including non-Japanese residents of Japan and Permanent Residents.

Worse yet, since “insufficient funds” have made it so that only one airport (Narita) will have the latest technology, NJ residents will have to give fingerprints every time they enter the country and go through the Gaijin Line. Nice welcome home, Immigration.

Martin’s report, pdf of the original letter to and its response in English and Japanese from Kobe Immigration, all at
http://www.debito.org/?p=592

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3) AMNESTY INT’L/SMJ FORUM ON GOJ FINGERPRINT LAWS OCT 27 TOKYO

Public lecture you might be interested in:

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Symposium organized by Amnesty International Japan and Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)
Toward further control over foreign nationals?

Japan’s anti-terrorism policy and a Japanese version of the “US-VISIT” program
******************************************

Date: Saturday, 27 October Time: 14:00 – 17:00
At: 9 Floor, KOREAN YMCA (YMCA Asia Youth Center) 2-5-5 Sarugaku-cho, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo
http://www.ymcajapan.org/ayc/jp/
Admission: 1000 yen
Simultaneous translation service available (Japanese-English)

Full details at
http://www.debito.org/?p=585

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4) IDUBOR CASE AND THE DANGERS OF OVEREMPOWERING THE PROSECUTION

An excerpt from an essay I wrote recently for the Debito.org Blog:

============================================
“I received a message on my blog recently asking if the Idubor Case (http://www.debito.org/?p=537) of incarceration on charges of rape without conviction or evidence, was really as bad as all that, or was there something readers just weren’t being told about here?

“Well, my research recently has shown rape in general as a crime has a huge window for problems, not the least being the shame and humiliation suffered by the victim, and the general public distaste of the voyeurism involved in hearing all the salacious facts of the case. More on that in a minute.

“But couple that with the extraordinary powers of the prosecution within the Japanese judiciary for dealing with criminal suspects (default mode being presumption of guilt), and you have even more potential for miscarriages of justice.

“Case in point is Mr Idubor, but he is not alone in his being potentially set up to take the fall by the police.

“Here’s a certified example of the Toyama police doing exactly that in another rape case, according to the Asahi Shinbun, May 22, 2007…”
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The Asahi article, plus another article in The Economist about a recent rape case at Duke University (which went haywire due to an unfettered District Attorney, until the truth was outed by by a more assiduous press and more open jurisprudential system you won’t get in Japan), and an NPR interview about all the rape cases left uninvestigated in the US, despite tens of thousands of stored rape evidence kits–all part of a discussion of what happens when you give a prosecutor too much power: injustice. And Japan has unfettered power in its prosecution in spades.

The conclusion to this discussion I offer:
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“In any case, rape is a particularly hazardous crime to take on. Assume guilt and people assume the worst did happen. Assume innocence and the victim might not get served by the system properly.

“But there’s a good reason why innocence (even, constitutionally, in Japan) is the default assumption–fewer innocents get sent up. Pity Japan’s criminal justice system doesn’t buy into that, regardless of whatever’s been written in the Constitution.”
============================================

Have a read at
http://www.debito.org/?p=581

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5) FUJIMORI FINALLY GETS HIS–EXTRADITION BACK TO PERU

I’ve, quite frankly, had a perfectly rotten past couple of weeks, for reasons I won’t get into here. But I have to admit, the highlight of last week was this:

A wanted former dictator, er, president of Peru finally got his.

After buggering off to Japan in 2000, resigning his office, claiming Japanese nationality (in fact, using it as a cloak against extradition), swanning off back to Chile in 2005 to try and contest a Peruvian election, then trying even to get elected in Japan last July, Alberto Fujimori, in my view a megalomaniac in the mold of Napoleon and Mexico’s Santa Anna (both of whom kept popping up after exile trying to restore themselves back to power; Fujimori has clearly been less successful than they), has finally been ruled an undesirable (“on human rights and corruption charges”) by Chile’s Supreme Court. He was extradited to Peru last Sunday.

More background on Fujimori why he matters to Debito.org here.
http://www.debito.org/?p=120

About bloody time. Give him his day in court. Let’s see what the trial brings out.

Here’s the AP’s view of what’s next for Fujimori in Peru, blogged at Debito.org:
http://www.debito.org/?p=590

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6) NOVA EIKAIWA FINALLY GETS THEIRS–ADVICE FOR TEACHERS IN LIMBO

The Japan Times Community Page last Tuesday offered a wonderful roundup of the sinking ship of the Eikaiwa Industry that is NOVA. After years of employee abuses, then customer abuses, the company has not only been punished by the GOJ, but also is in such a financial mess that they can’t even pay their employees promptly or properly anymore.

The JT’s writeup and advice to employees in trouble from people know know the labor laws here:
http://www.debito.org/?p=593

JT’s call for employee testimonials via Debito.org, and links to stories of the steady death of Japan’s largest private-sector employer of non-Japanese, at:
http://www.debito.org/?p=583

Even more data from Trans Pacific Radio, which also did a lot of groundwork on this issue (and has been urging its readers to jump ship for months now), at
http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/09/27/another-tale-from-the-inside-of-nova/
http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/09/20/do-you-work-for-nova-tpr-wants-to-talk-to-you-asap/

This is the NJ community at its best, and testament to the emerging power of blogs as social movement organizer in Japan.

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7) YOMIURI: FIRST TENET OF PM ABE’S “MORAL EDUCATION” SHELVED

Yomiuri reports that one tenet of former PM Abe’s “Beautiful Country” master plan has been withdrawn since his resignation–that of upgrading moral education.
(More on that from The Economist and Japan Times last January at
http://www.debito.org/?p=157 )

Good. I opposed this because these sorts of things, such as teaching (and grading) “patriotism”, would leave Japan’s children of international roots in a bind. How can they “love” Japan “properly”, in a way quantifiably gradable? Officially-sanctioned identity education is a very difficult subject to broach indeed (and it is by no means limited to Japan).

But forcing young students to “love” Japan anyway (and having their future possibly affected by bad grades for it) says more about the political elite and their families who would support this sort of policy, believing love and morality can be thusly commanded.

Anyway, the article on this follows:

============================================
Plan to upgrade moral education to official subject shelved
The Yomiuri Shimbun Sep. 20, 2007

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20070920TDY02006.htm

The Central Council for Education, an advisory panel to the education, science and technology minister, has decided to shelve a plan to upgrade moral education to an official subject in a revision of the official school curriculum guidelines scheduled for this fiscal year, according to sources.

The council concluded that “morals are related to the heart and mind and cannot be knocked into children via a textbook.”…
============================================
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=584

Oddly enough, FYI:

============================================
Education spending renders Japan second to last in OECD
Japan Times/Kyodo News September 20, 2007

============================================
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070920a3.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=584#comment-74263

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… and finally…
8) STARS AND STRIPES: KOREAN-STYLE ETHNIC DISCRIMINATION

Stars and Stripes Sept 6, 2007 has an article on what it’s like for international children in South Korea. A lot of the things reported (the ol’ “homogeneous society” chestnut) sound quite similar to what’s going on in Japan (understandibly, given their proximity and interlocking histories and cultures).

The most impressive points I got from the article were:

============================================
“There are no laws that discriminate against or protect biracial citizens, but it’s almost impossible for them to get well-paying jobs because they look different. Many live in poverty because they weren’t able to get into universities or get good jobs, a cycle that left their children impoverished as well.”

“…biracial Koreans were banned from serving in the military until 2005.”

“The number of foreigners living in South Korea grew 158 percent over the past decade, and one million of the country’s 49 million residents are foreigners, according to the Ministry of Justice.”
============================================
(which means 2 percent of the South Korean population is non-Korean, vs 1.6% of Japan’s, and is growing much faster than the NJ population in Japan).

Article at
http://www.debito.org/?p=576
Courtesy Dave Spector

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All for today. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
www.debito.org, debito@debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 28, 2007 ENDS

Protest Sept 29 re Monkashou’s Okinawa History Revisionism, Okinawa Convention Center

mytest

Hi Blog. Just got word of this from friend Gene van Troyer, regarding a protest tomorrow in Okinawa over WWII history revisionism from the Ministry of Education. Details below. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Perhaps Japanese are complacent when it comes to MEXT rewriting the history textbooks about Comfort Women and the Nanking Massacre during WWII, but what about here at home? It seems that there is no rest for the revisionists. Earlier this year (1) the GOJ through MEXT ordered all references to military-encouraged mass suicides in Okinawa to be expunged and replaced with less controversial and damning phrasing like “many people committed suicide.” Okinawans are in an uproar over this slap in their collective face (2), (3).

Coming up tomorrow, Saturday, Sept 29, from around 3:00 P.M. there is to be a general protest (kyoukasho kentei shuudanjiketsu) staged at the Okinawa Convention Center over MEXT’s attempt to rewrite history regarding the Japanese military’s policy of encouraged civilian “mass suicides” during the Battle of Okinawa. MEXT is pushing the view that it never happened. Scores of Okinawans who were there and witnessed it say it did (4), (5).

(1)***Okinawa Outcry Grows Over Japan Textbook Revision on WWII Suicides

http://www.propeller.com/viewstory/2007/06/09/1000-protest-in-okinawa-at-gov t-view-on-military-role-in-war-suicide/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.breitbart.com%2 Farticle.php%3Fid%3DD8PLABLG0%26show_article%3D1%26catnum%3D0&frame=true

(2)***1,000 Protest in Okinawa at Gov’t View on Military Role in War Suicide

http://www.propeller.com/viewstory/2007/06/09/1000-protest-in-okinawa-at-gov t-view-on-military-role-in-war-suicide/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.breitbart.com%2 Farticle.php%3Fid%3DD8PLABLG0%26show_article%3D1%26catnum%3D0&frame=true

(3)***Okinawans Outraged by What They Say is a Cover-up of Military-urged Mass Suicides During WWII Battle

http://www.propeller.com/viewstory/2007/06/09/1000-protest-in-okinawa-at-gov t-view-on-military-role-in-war-suicide/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.breitbart.com%2 Farticle.php%3Fid%3DD8PLABLG0%26show_article%3D1%26catnum%3D0&frame=true

(4) Ryuukyuu Shinpo article (Japanese) http://ryukyushimpo.jp/news/storyid-27569-storytopic-1.html

(5) Okinawa Times article (Japanese) http://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/day/200709281300_03.html
ENDS

Mainichi: Pregnant NJ woman rejected by 5 hospitals 7 times, in 2006!

mytest

Hi Blog. Get a load of this. It’s happening, as anticipated. When the Otaru Onsens Case first came up, one of the arguments Olaf and I made was the slippery slope. If hot springs were going to refuse NJ with impunity, what’s next? Bars? Stores? Restaurants? Hospitals?

Now it seems even hospitals refusing NJ have come to pass.

This is also happening to J women as well, the news reports. But that’s what makes this case even more ludicrous and nasty. According to the article below, these refusals happened to the NJ woman a whole year ago! It only became a “peg” for news because a similar thing recently happened to a Japanese! Oh, so until it happens to one of “us Japanese” it’s not newsworthy??

Iron na imi de hidoi! Gongo doudan! Arudou Debito

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

Foreign woman rejected 7 times by hospitals in western Japan after childbirth
Mainichi Shinbun, September 27, 2007

Courtesy http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20070927p2a00m0na022000c.html
Courtesy of Erich Meatleg

A foreign woman seeking medical help in Japan after giving birth at home was rejected by five hospitals where officials said her Japanese wasn’t good enough and they didn’t have proper facilities, authorities said Thursday.

The woman, in her 20s, was finally admitted to one of the hospitals after begging to be treated over two hours, during which two of the hospitals rejected her twice, said Takaaki Uchida, an official in Tsu.

All of the hospitals were equipped with maternity wards, but only two had intensive care units for newborn babies.

The incident happened in August 2006, but was reported in Japan on Thursday in the wake of the case of a 38-year-old woman who suffered a miscarriage last month after ten hospitals refused to admit her and her ambulance collided with another car.

The cases have raised concerns about shortcomings in emergency care for pregnant women, an growing worry as Japan grapples with declining birthrates — among the lowest in the world — and a burgeoning elderly population.

Uchida said the hospitals claimed the woman, whose name and nationality was withheld by officials, couldn’t speak Japanese well enough for them to communicate with her, and that they didn’t have emergency facilities to care for her newborn boy.

The woman had never consulted a doctor at a maternity clinic during her pregnancy, a fact that also made it difficult for her to find a hospital, Tsu City fire official Yoshinobu Sakurai said.

Sakurai also said the woman could not speak Japanese at all and her female companion to the hospital also spoke only broken Japanese.

Both the mother and the baby boy were healthy, according to Sakurai.

Following the miscarriage case, on Aug. 29 incident, the government has ordered local governments to review past cases of transporting pregnant women.

Last year, a pregnant woman in western Japan died after being refused admission by about 20 hospitals that said they were full. (AP)

September 27, 2007
REFERENTIAL ARTICLE:
Woman has miscarriage after waiting 3 hours to be transferred for emergency birth (see comments section)
ENDS

出産直後の外国人拒否、「言葉通じない」と津市の病院

mytest

ブログの皆様、おはようございます。これを見て言語道断。温泉等じゃなくなりました。ましてや、昨年8月に起きた事件ですね。つまり外国人に遭った事件ならニュースにならないでしょうか。日本人妊婦に同様に遭ったからニュースになりますね。色んな意味でひとい!有道 出人

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

出産直後の外国人拒否  「言葉通じない」と津市の病院
産經新聞 2007/09/27
http://www.sankei.co.jp/shakai/wadai/070927/wdi070927004.htm

 津市内で昨年8月、出産直後の20代の外国人女性が救急搬送の際、7つの病院で受け入れを断られ、到着するまでに約2時間かかった事例があったことが27日までに分かった。母子ともに健康だという。

 三重県消防・保安室によると、この女性は自宅で出産。119番で消防が駆け付けたところ、赤ちゃんにへその緒がついたままだった。消防が新生児集中治療管理室が空いている病院を探したが、女性が日本語を話せず、一度も産婦人科を受診していなかったため「言葉が通じない」「処置困難」などの理由で断られ、医療機関の調整に時間がかかった。

 奈良県で救急搬送中の妊婦が死産した問題を受け、県が調査し判明した。

(2007/09/27 11:26)

Excellent Economist editorial on anti-terrorism measures and civil liberties

mytest

Hi Blog. Excellent article in The Economist this week regarding anti-terrorism measures and the erosion of civil liberties.

How the pendulum has begun swinging back. As a twenty-year reader of The Economist, I’ve noticed a constant editorial slant favoring market-based solutions to just about everything, and the concomitant (but wan and blinding) hope that the more politically-conservative elements of governments in the developed economies would follow their preferred course. Hence their often backwards-bending support of the current administration in the world’s most powerful economy, which has long demonstrated a pursuit of power for its own (and its cronies’ own) sake.

Now, after struggling for years to come to terms with (and offering conditional, but certainly evident, support for) the American curtailment of civil liberties (enabling other countries, such as Japan, to take pages from their book and create policy rendering all foreigners suspicious as terrorists), this week’s Economist finally comes down against the erosion. Bravo.

Now if only Japan’s opinion leaders were as intelligent and outspoken about the flaws in Japan’s new anti-terrorist and foreign-crime targeting regime… Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Civil liberties under threat
The real price of freedom
Sep 20th 2007
From The Economist print edition
Courtesy http://economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9833041
It is not only on the battlefield where preserving liberty may have to cost many lives

“THEY hate our freedoms.” So said George Bush in a speech to the American Congress shortly after the attacks on America in September 2001. But how well, at home, have America and the other Western democracies defended those precious freedoms during the “war on terror”?

As we intend to show in a series of articles starting this week (see article), the past six years have seen a steady erosion of civil liberties even in countries that regard themselves as liberty’s champions. Arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention without trial, “rendition”, suspension of habeas corpus, even torture—who would have thought such things possible?

Governments argue that desperate times demand such remedies. They face a murderous new enemy who lurks in the shadows, will stop at nothing and seeks chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. This renders the old rules and freedoms out of date. Besides, does not international humanitarian law provide for the suspension of certain liberties “in times of a public emergency that threatens the life of the nation”?

There is great force in this argument. There is, alas, always force in such arguments. This is how governments through the ages have justified grabbing repressive new powers. During the second world war the democracies spied on their own citizens, imposed censorship and used torture to extract information. America interned its entire Japanese-American population—a decision now seen to have been a cruel mistake.

There are those who see the fight against al-Qaeda as a war like the second world war or the cold war. But the first analogy is wrong and the moral of the second is not the one intended.

A hot, total war like the second world war could not last for decades, so the curtailment of domestic liberties was short-lived. But because nobody knew whether the cold war would ever end (it lasted some 40 years), the democracies chose by and large not to let it change the sort of societies they wanted to be. This was a wise choice not only because of the freedom it bestowed on people in the West during those decades, but also because the West’s freedoms became one of the most potent weapons in its struggle against its totalitarian foes.

If the war against terrorism is a war at all, it is like the cold war—one that will last for decades. Although a real threat exists, to let security trump liberty in every case would corrode the civilised world’s sense of what it is and wants to be.

When liberals put the case for civil liberties, they sometimes claim that obnoxious measures do not help the fight against terrorism anyway. The Economist is liberal but disagrees. We accept that letting secret policemen spy on citizens, detain them without trial and use torture to extract information makes it easier to foil terrorist plots. To eschew such tools is to fight terrorism with one hand tied behind your back. But that—with one hand tied behind their back—is precisely how democracies ought to fight terrorism.

Take torture, arguably the hardest case (and the subject of the first article in our series). A famous thought experiment asks what you would do with a terrorist who knew the location of a ticking nuclear bomb. Logic says you would torture one man to save hundreds of thousands of lives, and so you would. But this a fictional dilemma. In the real world, policemen are seldom sure whether the many (not one) suspects they want to torture know of any plot, or how many lives might be at stake. All that is certain is that the logic of the ticking bomb leads down a slippery slope where the state is licensed in the name of the greater good to trample on the hard-won rights of any one and therefore all of its citizens.

Human rights are part of what it means to be civilised. Locking up suspected terrorists—and why not potential murderers, rapists and paedophiles, too?—before they commit crimes would probably make society safer. Dozens of plots may have been foiled and thousands of lives saved as a result of some of the unsavoury practices now being employed in the name of fighting terrorism. Dropping such practices in order to preserve freedom may cost many lives. So be it.

ENDS

Japan Times Community Page on NOVA Eikaiwa, and Advice for Teachers

mytest

Hi Blog. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this article. I’m told a lot of support came from readers of Debito.org, and I’m glad we could have been of assistance in an informative article during this very unstable time for Japan’s largest employer of NJ. Erstwhile employer by now, probably.

Incredibly good advice for employees in plight follows article below. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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THE ZEIT GIST
IS IT ALL OVER FOR NOVA?
As ‘eikaiwa’ giant plans school closures amid credit crunch, some fear the worst
The Japan Times, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2007

By BEN STUBBINGS Staff writer
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070925zg.html

“The dark clouds that have been hanging heavily over us will be cast aside,” reads the English translation of Nova Corp. CEO Nozomu Sahashi’s memo faxed to staff Friday. “I said previously ‘the darkest time is before the dawn,’ and finally the first light of dawn can be seen.”

Nova is on the rocks, and the rosy forecast from the man at the helm of the Osaka-based “eikaiwa” behemoth may not be enough to reassure members of the 7,000-strong Nova crew — including some 5,000 foreigners — that the company isn’t sinking as Japan’s biggest conversation school chain plans to abandon at least 200 of its 900 branches, according to reports.

For the second month in a row, wages were paid late in September. Some teachers — those in the Osaka and Tokyo areas — were paid on time on the 14th; others received their wages on the 18th. Titled instructors are anxiously waiting to see if they get paid as promised on Tuesday 25th — 11 days late. Teachers in Nova-managed accommodation have received eviction warnings over unpaid rent despite the fact the company has been deducting money for this purpose from employees’ salaries.

Nova’s labor-relations and legal woes over the past years have been well documented, but the biggest blow for the firm was the punishment meted out by the Japanese government to the firm for deceiving students about lesson availability: The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) slapped business restrictions on the corporation in June, banning the signup of new students on upfront — and lucrative — long-term contracts for a six-month period. The bad publicity generated by the decision has led to increasing numbers of students canceling contracts and demanding refunds from the cash-strapped firm.

“It’s kind of like a financial run on a bank,” said Louis Carlet, deputy secretary general of the National Union of General Workers Tokyo Nambu, which counts hundreds of Nova employees among its members. “That’s why this could be the biggest consumer wipeout in Japanese history, because the customers are depositing all this money as if in a bank, assuming the money will be there, and now . . . Nova students are getting worried that they’re gonna get wiped out, so they’re rushing to cancel the contracts and the more they rush the more Nova can’t pay their bills.”

However, Nova boss Sahashi is upbeat about the future. “I would like to inform you that the prospects look clearer for the refunds of cancellations that have accumulated until now and that a schedule has been established for refunding this money from the end of this month,” he wrote to staff Friday. “With this there will be no concern regarding salaries from next month onwards. I cannot announce further details at the moment but would like you to feel reassured and concentrate on business as usual.”

So what — if anything — does Nova have up its sleeve? Nova declined to comment over the phone for this story and e-mails to the corporation’s Tokyo and Osaka offices went unanswered.

The memo failed to impress Ken Worsley, Tokyo-based business consultant and editor of Japan Economy News.

“It is vague and contains no proof or evidence that something legitimate is on the way,” he wrote in an e-mail. “We should remember that in December 2005, a few weeks before eikaiwa operator NCB went bankrupt in January 2006, its management issued a similar notice, telling employees that they were about to receive a ‘capital injection’ from a large investor. It never happened, and on the day before January’s payday, NCB locked its doors forever and failed to pay staff or instructors. I see the same pattern evolving with Nova.”

The closure of some 200 schools, reportedly in the Tokyo area and Osaka, Hyogo and Aichi prefectures, should bring in a bundle of cash from savings on rent and the possible sale/rental of Nova-owned property. Is this the first stage in a process of consolidation that could save Nova from bankruptcy?

“I don’t think that Nova’s reported downsizing is a plan in the sense of being a well-thought-out business strategy so much as it is damage control,” Worsley said. “It has been suggested that they are being evicted from some locations, which would certainly indicate that cash flow problems run truly deep. On the other hand, if Nova has embarked upon a strategic downsizing without making an announcement to its employees and investors, one is forced to wonder to what extent the top management may be trusted.”

With Nova’s share price hovering around the ¥40 mark, down from around ¥100 in June (after hitting a high of ¥1,750 in 1999) and last quarter’s dismal financial report — Nova posted a ¥4.5 billion operating loss over the April-June period (before the METI order), nearly four times the loss over the whole of the last financial year — you might expect shareholders to be clamoring for the heads of top management. However, Nova’s top shareholders at least — Nova Kikaku (the corporation’s holding company) and Sahashi himself — appear to have faith in the current management. And despite the firm now going for a knock-down price, the fact that the same people who got Nova into this mess are still at the controls may put off potential buyers or partners.

“It would be a brave company that would take over a company in Nova’s situation without a change in management,” said Bob Tench, vice president of the Nova union. “The company has a large infrastructure, which in itself is a valuable asset; it has a lot of experience amongst its employees; and with the share price being so low it would be a good buy for a company — provided they could insert a new top management to run things properly from now on.”

Travel agency H.I.S. was reported to have been talking with Nova about a tieup in July, and some reports have suggested the stumbling block was Nova management’s insistence on staying put. Sahashi, in an interview following the METI order, also ruled out joining forces with other eikaiwa firms. “I don’t want to tie up with a fellow trader,” he said.

With Nova running out of both money and options, talk is increasingly turning to the possibility of bankruptcy.

“I think that Nova’s chances of pulling through and surviving as a company are slim at best,” Worsley said days after the school closures were reported. “I have predicted before that the company would go under around the beginning of November, and I see no reason to change that statement at this point. Late payment is a huge red flag that a company simply does not have a strong enough cash flow to deal with its operating costs. Given that we have seen two late salary payments in a row, I take this as a sign that Nova is nearing insolvency.”

If Nova files for bankruptcy, one concern — among many — for employees would be getting hold of unpaid wages. If teachers have time left on their visas and procedures go smoothly, this wouldn’t be a major problem, according to Carlet.

The prospects for students hoping to get money back that they paid Nova upfront for lessons, however, are bleaker.

“The students are very unlikely . . . to get much of their money back, and in the past — like with Lado — other schools have been willing to take the students, sometimes for free or half-price,” Carlet said, referring to an eikaiwa chain that went bankrupt in May. “However Nova, being the Goliath it’s always been in the industry, is not in either of the two industry organizations.”

A nightmare even worse than bankruptcy for Nova staff and students would be if the corporation soldiered on after all hope was lost, said Carlet.

“If they don’t officially go bankrupt that means the teachers won’t be dismissed, they just won’t be paid, and if they resign they’d have to wait three months (for unemployment insurance), and if they don’t resign we have to prove that it’s effectively a bankruptcy, which takes time, so either way they’re in serious trouble if Nova doesn’t officially go bankrupt.”

It’s a scenario that is well within the realms of possibility considering how much is at stake for those at the top of the firm, said Worsley.

“The only incentives are fear and greed. Let’s not forget: Should Nova go down, its top management will be in serious personal financial difficulties and will be unhireable. For top management, it makes sense to keep the company running as long as possible in hopes that someone will buy it out. This happened with NCB and Lado, yet in the end no one bought them out.”

With so much uncertainty surrounding the firm’s future, many teachers are not sticking around to see if Nova can weather the storm. Berlitz alone received some 200 applications over a couple of days last week from Nova teachers seeking jobs, said a company source.

Roy Beaubien, who jumped ship after the late payment of wages this month, advises other Nova employees to do the same.

“I’ve seen a Japanese English conversation school try to avoid going bankrupt first hand before. It was hell. Only many years later did any teachers — and only a few of them that stuck it out for years through many court hearings and after paying years of union fees — finally get some of their money from the company through the court system.

“As for me? I was until very recently a Nova employee. I applied for my paid holidays immediately after our pay was 12 hours later than usual. I then handed in my resignation soon after that. I learned my lesson years ago and I vowed never to go through that again. This time I wanted to get out when I was still likely to get what I was owed.”

Send comments on this issue and story ideas to: community@japantimes.co.jp
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2007

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

RELATED INFORMATION
Advice for teachers from The Japan Times

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070925a1.html

Union support
“The general union and Nambu decided on a policy that that we won’t take new members if Nova goes bankrupt. What we will have is a question-and-answer site — we’ll give all the information necessary to employees to get the government subsidy for unpaid wages, and we’ll hold a one-time “setsumeikai” (meeting) for any employee who wants to come. If it goes bankrupt, we will shut the doors on the Nova union, but of course they’re welcome to join Nambu separately.

“As for Nova members, we’ll be actively pursuing all their wages, not just the 80 percent guaranteed by the government. If Nova has any assets left, in general employees get first dibs, so we’ll be fighting for that.” (Louis Carlet, deputy general secretary of the National Union of General Workers Tokyo Nambu)

Unpaid wages
“If there’s unpaid wages, we would have to go to the Labor Standards Office or a court and force (Nova) into paying whatever they have and then eventually when they can’t — when the court forces them to pay and they don’t have any money to pay — then it could be a long, drawn-out process. In the meantime, a lot of foreigners may not be able to stay in Japan to fight, so at least our union members, even if they have to leave the country, we’ll continue to fight for them.” (Louis Carlet)

Accommodation
“Even if the owner/the landlord/the agency is screaming at you to get out, you don’t have to leave — just keep paying your rent. If the company was supposed to be paying the rent and they haven’t, sue the company for fraud or tell the agency: ‘Look, the company’s supposed to be paying, and I’ve already paid the company.’ You have a right of residency, and anyone who wanted to get you out is going to have to get a court order to do it.”(Bob Tench, Nova union vice president)

Immigration
“Your company does not sponsor your visa, even though a lot of companies say so: There is no formal relationship between an employer and the immigration office. When you go to renew your visa at the immigration office, you take your certificate of insurance, your employment contract and your tax-paid certificate. Those are the documents you need — that’s it, and your employer is obliged to provide you with those, for whatever reason, on request, within 24 hours.”

“If you think (bankruptcy is) gonna happen and, for example, your visa is coming up for renewal in one or two months, apply for a renewal now and present the documents that you have. You can ask for a new certificate of insurance, tax certificate and your current contract, which has an expiry date coming up, and present that to the immigration office saying: ‘I’m expecting to be renewed,’ and you get your visa renewed. All you have to do is say something like, ‘I’m thinking of taking a holiday at the time of renewal, so I need to renew now,’ because while your visa renewal is in you’re not allowed to leave the country, so it’s a perfectly valid excuse. . . . I would advise anyone to do that if they’re in that situation.” (Bob Tench)

Redundancies
“The union would fight every redundancy and under Japanese law there are quite serious restrictions about when redundancies may be made — certain stringent conditions have to be met by the company and of course the union knows the legal ins and outs of that, so of course the union would fight tooth and nail to make sure that all those conditions were properly met, and if they weren’t then we take the company to court.” (Bob Tench)

Unemployment insurance
“It’s a really complicated formula but there’s a limit — roughly speaking, teachers will get ¥200,000 a month. It’s not really a percentage of salary — if it’s a high salary you wouldn’t get 80 percent of that. You would get it for a certain number of months depending on your age and how long you’ve been enrolled in employment. The minimum is three months and you must get it before one year after dismissal, and if you resign you can’t get it for the first three months.”

“If (Nova) goes bankrupt, (employees) will be fired officially, dismissed by the receiver, and if they’re fired they can get unemployment insurance right away, if you’re in Japan and if you have a work visa, so if they’re in that situation that’s OK.” (Louis Carlet) (B.S.)

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2007
ENDS

Nov 07 Immig Law: New Biometric machines only at Narita. Every other airport fingerprints NJ every time.

mytest

Hi Blog. Report from Martin Issott, who has been doing extensive follow-up research on this subject over weeks. The new November Immigration Procedures, which will be reestablishing the fingerprint system withdrawn after decades of protest ten years ago, will be treating all foreigners as fresh off the boat. Including non-Japanese residents of Japan and Permanent Residents.

Worse yet, since “insufficient funds” have made it so that only one airport (Narita) will have the latest technology, NJ residents will have to give fingerprints every time they enter the country and go through the Gaijin Line. Nice welcome home, Immigration.

Amnesty International and SMJ have been duly advised of this. They will be holding a public forum in October on this in Tokyo. Details here. Attend if you like.

See the GOJ’s hilarious justification for reinstating this system here.

If you’d like to get in touch with Martin for confirmation of any details below, please contact him through me at debito@debito.org; as per his request. Or of course, leave a comment below. Thanks. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Dear Debito,

The Ministry of Justice briefing I previously advised was duly held on afternoon of 18th September, and contact with the British Embassy representative who attended the meeting has clarified the situation with confirmation as follows:

1) The law was promulgated on 24th May 2006, and will be enforced from 23rd November this year.

2) At Narita, for foreign residents with pre-registered fingerprints and photographs, there will be an automated gate system established prior to 23rd November.

3) This automated gate system will only be established at Narita and at no other International airport in Japan until processing via this system has been perfected and, very ominously, “when funds are available” to provide the system at other International airports.

4) Resident foreigners entering Japan at other airports will be required to join the queue with all arriving visitors and to provide their fingerprints and photograph on every entry and re-entry into Japan.

5) As a Kobe resident it is obviously impractical for me to use Narita, therefore I, a 20 year resident of the country with valid re-entry permit and visa, will nonetheless be required to follow these procedures, despite the fact that for non-Japanese APEC Country business travel card holders there are already separate immigration channels (effectively automated gates !) to facilitate their entry.

I am now doubly incensed, first at the discrimination ,and secondly at the sheer incompetence of the Japanese authorities in not getting their act together during the last 18 months to establish the automated gate system at all Japanese International airports prior to the amended law enforcement.

As a result many long term family residents and the resident business community will be seriously inconvenienced which all could have been quite simply avoided.

I cannot change the facts, but I would ask you through your newspaper columns to castigate in the strongest possible terms the Japanese authorities for their sheer indifference to the rights of resident foreigners.

Martin Issott

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

Written substantiation from Kobe Immigration (in letter form: query letter, then answer) in pdf format, courtesy of Martin Issott, downloadable from

http://www.debito.org/issottkobeimmigration210907.pdf

Or click on thumbnails for jpg format:
A210907(J).jpgQ100907(J).jpgQ100907(E).jpg

Details as follows:

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

RE: Kobe Immigration 100907.pdf

Mr Issott,

I have received Kobe immigration response dated 21/9.

Details are –

———————————————-
” Regarding your letter of 10th September for asking confirmation we
respond as follows:-

1) There is no plan for the Automated Gate System to be installed
at Kansai International Airport Osaka.

A) As responded previously regarding the introduction of the automated
gate system, there is no other installation plan in this fiscal year
except Narita Airport, to be installed by 23/11.

The installation plan of the automated gate system in and after next
fiscal year is under investigation.

As future installation plan will be announced as soon the details
are decided, your understanding is appreciated.

2) If I wish to avail of the Automated Gate System, then my only
option will be to re-arrange my travel schedule to enter and re-enter
Japan via Narita Airport.

A) As per our response 1) above the automated gate system is planned,
as of now, to be installed at Narita only. Therefore if you wish to
avail of the automated gate system there is no other way for using
Narita Airport. Your understanding is appreciated.”
———————————————-

nh

ENDS

Amnesty Intl Tokyo Symposium Oct 27 on

mytest

Public lecture you might be interested in. Arudou Debito

**********************************************************************
Symposium organized by Amnesty International Japan and Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)

Toward further control over foreign nationals? Japan’s anti-terrorism policy and a Japanese version of the “US-VISIT” program **********************************************************************

Date: Saturday, 27 October Time: 14:00 – 17:00
At: 9 Floor, KOREAN YMCA (YMCA Asia Youth Center) 2-5-5 Sarugaku-cho, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo
http://www.ymcajapan.org/ayc/jp/
Admission: 1000 yen
Simultaneous translation service available (Japanese-English)

*** Program ***
14:00 Opening remarks
14:00 Briefing about a Japanese version of “US-VISIT” program by Akira HATATE (JCLU)
14:30 Keynote speech by Barry Steinhardt, ACLU Technology and Liberty Program “War on Terror” and impacts of US-VISIT in the United States
15:10 Break
15:20 Panel Discussion: Anti-terrorism policies and reinforced control over foreign nationals —- The challenge of civil society to fight against discrimination and to protect rights. Members of the panel: Barry Steinhardt / Akira HATATE / Ippei TORII (SMJ) / Toshimaru OGURA (The People’s Plan Study Group)
17:00 Closing remarks

*** Profile of Barry Steinhardt ***
Barry Steinhardt served as Associate Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) between 1992 and 2002. In 2002, he was named as the inaugural Director of the ACLU’s Program on Technology and Liberty. Steinhardt has spoken and written widely on privacy and information technology issues.

*** Why Amnesty and SMJ are organizing the symposium ***
A law proposing to implement a Japanese version of “US-VISIT” was passed in 2006 and will probably be enacted by November 24th.

The law makes fingerprinting and photographing mandatory for all foreigners arriving in Japan except “special permanent residents” and youth under the age of 16. Furthermore, according to news reports, the biometric data obtained would be shared not only with a number of ministries in Japan but also, in the near future, with US authorities as well. US-VISIT (United States Visitor and Immigration Status Indicator Technology) was originally launched by US authorities in 2004 and Japan has become the second country to introduce a similar program.

The law is part of our government’s policy to reinforce control over foreign nationals entering and living in Japan in the name of the “War on Terror”.

Non-governmental organizations in Japan such as Amnesty International (AI) Japan, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ) and the Japan Federation of Bar Associations are concerned that the current government policy encourages discrimination against foreigners and violates individuals’ right to privacy. Please refer to a joint statement by NGOs dated 5 April 2006 (appendix 1).

Ahead of the enactment of the Japanese-version of “US-VISIT”, AI Japan and SMJ have invited Director of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Technology and Liberty Program Mr. Barry Steinhardt to Japan, and is organizing several public events including the symposium. The aim is to share information and concerns, as well as to raise awareness within Japanese society about the issues involved.

*** For further information ***
Amnesty International Japan 2-2-4F Kanda-NIshiki-cho, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 101-0054 JAPAN TEL: 81-3-3518-6777 FAX: 81-3-3518-6778

Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ) Tokyo-to, Bunkyo-ku, Koishikawa 2-17-41, Tomisaka Christian Center, House 2, #203, Japan (Map) TEL:81-3-5802-6033 FAX:81-3-5802-6034

ENDS

アムネスティとSMJ主宰:『どこまで強まる? 外国人管理「テロ対策」と日本版US-VISIT』シンポ東京にて10月27日(土)

mytest

(転送歓迎)——————————————————
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バリー・スタインハードさん(米自由人権協会)を招いてシンポジウム
どこまで強まる? 外国人管理 「テロ対策」と日本版US-VISIT
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▽日時 2007年10月27日(土) 14:00〜17:00 (13:30開場)
▽会場 在日本韓国YMCA 9階ホール (定員150名)
    千代田区猿楽町2-5-5
    JR水道橋駅徒歩6分、御茶ノ水駅徒歩9分、地下鉄神保町駅徒歩7分
▽参加費 1,000円 同時通訳有

2006年、「テロ対策」を名目とした「日本版US-VISIT」導入が決定され、今年11月23日までに施行されます。これは、特別永住者や16歳未満を除くすべての外国人に対し、入国・再入国のたびに、指紋と顔写真情報の提供を義務づけるものです。提供された情報はほぼ一生涯にわたって保存され、警察からの要請があれば、犯罪捜査などにも利用されることになります。

指紋や顔写真といった生体情報は究極の個人情報であり、漠然とした「テロ対策」名目で安易に集めることは、プライバシーの侵害にあたります。さらに、外国人に限って指紋・顔写真情報の提供を義務化することは、外国人=テロリスト予備軍とみなしていることの表われであり、外国人に対する差別です。
集められた情報は、「テロ対策」よりも外国人の在留管理と監視の強化に利用されると危惧されています。

シンポジウムでは、米自由人権協会のバリー・スタインハードさんをお招きし、US-VISITをはじめとする、「テロとの戦い」の下で進められるさまざまな米国の監視体制の問題、そうした動きに追随する日本社会と外国人管理体制について考え、市民社会は何をすべきかを議論します。

▽US-VISIT:正式名称はUnited States Visitor and Immigrant Status
Indicator Technology(米国訪問者・移民現況表示技術)という。2004年9月
30日から米国で導入された、スキャンシステムによる米訪問者の顔写真と指紋
の採取プログラム。

▽バリー・スタインハードさん
1992年から2002年まで、米自由人権協会(American Civil Liberties Union: ACLU)の共同代表を務め、2002年から現在まで、テクノロジーと自由に関するプログラム部長を務めている。1990年代後半から2000年頃、米国におけるインターネット盗聴捜査の拡大に反対して活動してきた。現在の関心は、反テロ愛国法の成立にともなう、個人情報の国家による一元管理と監視システム問題など。

<プログラム>
14:00 開会
14:10 日本版US-VISITとは何か?(旗手明さん・(社)自由人権協会)
14:30 米国の「テロとの戦い」とUS-VISITの問題 (バリー・スタインハードさん)
15:10 休憩
15:20 パネル・ディスカッション  
  「テロ対策」と強まる外国人管理〜市民社会は何をすべきか〜
  パネリスト:小倉利丸さん(ピーブルズ・プラン研究所)
        旗手明さん
        鳥井一平さん(移住労働者と連帯する全国ネットワーク) 
        バリー・スタインハードさん
  司会:東澤靖さん(弁護士・明治学院大学法科大学院教授)
17:00 終了

主催
社団法人アムネスティ・インターナショナル日本
東京都千代田区神田錦町2-2 共同(新錦町)ビル4F
TEL. 03-3518-6777 FAX. 03-3518-6778

移住労働者と連帯する全国ネットワーク
東京都文京区小石川2-17-41富坂キリスト教センター2号館203号室
TEL 03-5802-6033 FAX 03-5802-6034

★★★本シンポジウムを含む「日本版US-VISIT」施行直前緊急企画! ★★★
バリー・スタインハードさん招聘プログラム」への賛同を呼びかけています。
ご賛同いただける団体・個人の方は、賛同金を以下にお振り込みください。
団体:一口3000円  個人:一口1000円
振込先:郵便振替口座:00120-9-133251
加入者名:社団法人アムネスティ・インターナショ
ナル日本
※「バリー・スタインハードさん来日企画賛同金」
と必ずご明記ください。

——————————————————————

***********************************************
移住労働者と連帯する全国ネットワーク
東京都文京区小石川2-17-41富坂キリスト教センター
2号館203号室
�:03-5802-6033 FAX:03-5802-6034
e-mail
URL http://www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net/

Mネット年間購読募集中!
年間購読費:団体・12000円、個人・6000円
詳しくは、移住連事務局までお問い合わせください。
***********************************************

ENDS

Next Valentine Lawsuit Hearing Tuesday Sept 25

mytest

Hi Blog. Just received this from Valentine:

Dear Debito.
Please, kindly remind your bloggers about the date for my court attendance. 25th Tuesday September, 2007 at the Tokyo High Court, Kasumigaseki. by 1.30pm 8 floor Rm 808. Thanks, Valentine

Attend if you like. More on the Valentine Lawsuit, where he was denied medical treatment for a broken leg while being interrogated by police (and is now crippled), and then the lower court exonerated the police of any respnsiblity on extremely flimsy grounds, at http://www.debito.org/valentinelawsuit.html

Debito in Sapporo

Fujimori finally gets his–extradition to Peru

mytest

Hi Blog. Good news. A wanted former dictator, er, president of Peru finally gets his.

The saga so far: After buggering off to Japan in 2000, resigning his office, claiming Japanese nationalty (in fact, using it as a cloak against extradition), then swanning off back to Chile in 2005 to try and contest a Peruvian election, then trying even to get elected in Japan last July, Alberto Fujimori, in my view a megalomaniac in the mold of Napoleon and Mexico’s Santa Anna (both of whom kept popping up after exile trying to restore themselves back to power; Fujimori has clearly been less successful than they), has finally been ruled an undesirable (“on human rights and corruption charges”) by Chile’s Supreme Court. He was extradited to Peru yesteday.

More background on Fujimori why he matters to Debito.org here.

About bloody time. Give him his day in court. Let’s see what the trial brings out.

Here’s the AP’s view. Debito in Sapporo

////////////////////////////////////////
Fujimori returns to Peru to face trial
AP correspondent Monte Hayes reports Alberto Fujimori still has strong support in Peru.

By MONTE HAYES
Associated Press Writer
Courtesy Daily Yomiuri Sep 23, 1:15 AM EDT
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/F/FUJIMORI_ASOL-?SITE=YOMIURI&SECTION=HOSTED_ASIA&TEMPLATE=ap_world.html

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Former President Alberto Fujimori returned to Peru on Saturday to face charges of corruption and sanctioning death-squad killings, a grim homecoming for the strongman who fled the country seven years ago as his government collapsed in scandal.

The plane carrying the 69-year-old former ruler landed in a heavy mist at Lima’s Las Palmas air force base, a day after Chile’s Supreme Court authorized his extradition. He was then flown by helicopter to a police base, where he is to be held until a permanent facility is prepared for his detention.

Some 700 supporters who gathered outside the police air terminal across town to greet him were frustated when his plane was diverted to the air base.

“We have come to welcome Fujimori, to tell him that we are with him and will accompany him wherever he goes so that he feels he has the support of his people,” his daughter Keiko Fujimori, who was elected to Congress in 2006, told The Associated Press.

Fujimori’s extradition from Chile has provoked reactions ranging from elation to indignation.

Some Peruvians believe he should be tried for his controversial crackdown on the bloody Shining Path insurgency and alleged corruption during his 1990-2000 presidency.

But Fujimori maintains a following in Peru. A recent poll showed that 23 percent of Peruvians want to see him back in politics and some worry his return could provoke turmoil in a country emerging from decades of political and economic chaos.

“There will be a sector of the country that will identify with him, and he will play a destabilizing opposition role,” said congressman Javier Valle Riestra, a leader of President Alan Garcia’s Aprista party.

Fujimori was widely admired for ushering in economic stability and defeating the Shining Path rebel movement during his 1990-2000 government, but his presidency increasingly came under fire as it drifted toward authoritarianism and evidence surfaced of corruption.

He was flying to Peru under police custody Saturday, a day after the Chilean Supreme Court ordered his extradition on human rights and corruption charges.

Fujimori’s followers and foes alike were stunned in November 2005, when he landed in a small plane in Chile and revealed his ambition to run for president in the 2006 elections, even though Peru’s Congress had banned him from seeking public office until 2011. He was promptly arrested.

Fujimori had earned a reputation as a cool-headed strategist in handling multiple crises as president. But he may have miscalculated when he decided to leave his safe refuge in Japan, where he enjoyed immunity from extradition because of his Japanese nationality, inherited from his migrant parents.

It “will be interesting to see how Houdini gets out of this one,” said Michael Shifter, a Latin America analyst at the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington.

Peru wants to try Fujimori on corruption and human rights charges, including sanctioning the death-squad killings of 25 people.

Fujimori, who calls the charges politically motivated, said on the eve of his departure that while his government made mistakes, he has a clear conscience.

“This does not mean that I’ve been tried, much less convicted. … I hope that in Peru there exists the due process to clarify the accusations against me,” he told the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio.

He noted that while the Chilean Supreme Court authorized his extradition, it significantly reduced the charges for which he can be tried in Peru. According to the extradition treaty between the two countries, he can only be tried on the charges for which the extradition was approved.

Fujimori also suggested that he’s eyeing a political comeback, saying, “I still have majority support from a very popular political current.

“I assure you that there will be a political heir if I am no longer around,” he added. “There will be a Fujimori movement for a long time. I guarantee that there will be some Fujimori in the next presidential race.”

He said his daughter Keiko, who was elected to Congress last year with 600,000 votes, far more than any other legislator, has “what it takes” to be president.

On Friday, Keiko, 32, who is six months pregnant with her first child, demanded that he not be mistreated while in custody and urged supporters to greet him at the airport.

“Fujimori was the one who brought peace to this country, who defeated terrorism, and it seems a paradox that today Fujimori is being tried for human rights,” she said.

The Fujimori-allied Congressman Rolando Souza predicted that if the former leader does not receive a fair trial and is sentenced to a long prison term, indignation among his supporters would propel his daughter into the presidency in 2011.

“I’m completely sure of it,” he said.

Peruvian prosecutors are seeking 30 years in prison for each human rights charge, and up to 10 years for the corruption charges. But prison terms run concurrently under Peruvian law.

Some Peruvians say Fujimori’s controversial crackdown on the bloody Shining Path insurgency was justified.

“Maybe it’s a crime now, but there was a war going on then,” said Miguel Capac, 40, a civil engineer who voted for Fujimori. “And in a war it’s hard to say who is guilty and who is innocent.”

But for others, his administration’s alleged crimes outweigh its successes.

“He has done good things. No one denies that. But that doesn’t allow him to get away with the acts of corruption he committed,” said Maria Huaman, a 35-year-old architect.

Many believe Garcia did not want Fujimori extradited, fearing he could become a powerful opposition leader. Garcia’s political opposition is fragmented, giving him a free hand to rule, and he maintains a fragile control of the 120-seat Congress with the backing of 13 legislators allied to Fujimori.

Larry Birns, director of the Washington think tank Council on Hemispheric Affairs, said the trial also could prove embarrassing for Garcia. He said human rights violations were even greater during Garcia’s first term in 1985-1990 than in Fujimori’s administration, “and I think Fujimori is going to use that as his defense.”

The trial “will open up not one but many cans of worms because corruption in Peru was endemic at that time,” Birns said.


ENDS

Mainichi Waiwai: Tokugawa ancestors face their own sakoku

mytest

Hi Blog. The ancient Tokugawa Clan (which as daimyo closed off Japan for 250 years to foreign influences, known as the “sakoku” [closed country] period) are facing their own sakoku. Their heir apparent has married a foreigner!

Read on, from the Mainichi Waiwai Page, translated by Ryann Connell. Arudou Debito

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

Tokugawa clan looks to slam the gate on future chief’s marriage to foreigner
Mainichi Waiwai Page, Sept 18, 2007

http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/waiwai/news/20070918p2g00m0dm009000c.html
Courtesy of MS and Doc

Modern day members of the Tokugawa clan — the xenophobic dynasty of Shoguns that shut Japan off from the world for centuries — are up in arms because the man set to one day become head of the family has married a non-Japanese, according to Shukan Shincho (9/20).

Iehiro Tokugawa, who is poised to one day become the 19th head of the clan that ruled the country as Shoguns from 1603 to 1868 and maintained a rigid ban on foreigners entering Japan, has tied the knot with a Vietnamese woman.

But his father, Tsunenari, the current clan chief, is among the members of the family who are supposed to be outraged that the most Japanese of non-Imperial families is about to receive an injection of non-Yamato blood.

Iehiro Tokugawa graduated from posh Keio University before completing a doctorate of economics at Michigan University. He went off to work for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, spending time at its Rome headquarters before being transferred to its Hanoi branch. The 42-year-old heir apparent of the Shogun’s dynastic name now works as a translator.

“He met the Vietnamese woman about 10 years ago,” a close pal of Tokugawa’s tells Shukan Shincho. “He was working at the FAO’s Vietnam office at the time and met her through his work. She comes from a good family. She’s petite and pretty. She’s a complete contrast to Iehiro, who is only 174 centimeters tall but weighs 105 kilograms. She’s 11 years younger than him, too. And she looks even younger still. Iehiro said he fell in love with her charms.” Iehiro apparently set his mind on marriage not long after he started dating, and he soon let his parents know of his intentions.

“Iehiro knows that he is a member of the Tokugawa clan and fully realizes exactly what that status entails. He told his parents he spent three years in elementary school in the United States and that he has very liberal ideas about marriage. On top of that, she is the woman he chose,” the buddy says. “But Tsunenari, important as head of the clan, and his mother were bitterly opposed. They said they didn’t mind if their son dated a foreigner, but there was no way they were going to let him marry one.”

Over the past few years, Iehiro’s Vietnamese partner traveled back and forth between her country and his before finally settling down together in his home.

“He’s got a photo of when they went on a trip together to Kamakura displayed prominently in his study. They’ve visited the Tokugawa family in Gotenba and have also been on trips together to Hakone and Karuizawa. Iehiro has often gathered his friends at his home and let them taste her delicious Vietnamese cuisine. They’re having a great time no matter how much his parents may oppose their bond,” the future clan head’s friend tells Shukan Shincho.

The opposition of the clan boss to the union has not deterred the loving couple.

“They actually registered their marriage a year ago,” the friend says. “They’ve tried countless times to get his parents to approve their marriage, but the parents have steadfastly refused. It’s more convenient for her to be married if she’s in Japan, so they formalized their bond. Iehiro has often said he’s going to have a big wedding ceremony in the spring of next year.”

Even if the couple is actually married as the friend claims, Iehiro Tokunaga’s worries don’t stop there.

“Only a few very close friends and relatives actually know about the marriage. And they haven’t reported it to anyone in the Tokugawa clan. He’s gonna face huge problems if their marriage goes public,” the friend says.

Meanwhile, Iehiro remains dignified about the situation.

“I’m going to do exactly what I have been doing until now,” the future head of the once xenophobic Tokugawa clan tells Shukan Shincho. “I’ll keep trying again and again. I believe in the end they will approve my marriage.” (By Ryann Connell)

September 18, 2007
ENDS

京都「イスラーム世界フェスティバル」は外国人お断り

mytest

ブログの皆様こんにちは。有道 出人です。ご無沙汰しております。

さて、きょうの件は
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
京都「イスラーム世界フェスティバル」は外国人お断り
(つまり日本人客とイスラム教の外国人はOKだが、それ以外の外国人は却下)
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

 一昨日、友人からの連絡があり、「9月30日京都にてのイズラーム教祭に行こうとしたが、予約を受けた代表に『貴方はムズリム(イズラム教の信者)ですか。』と聞かれました。『違います』と言うと、『それなら、外国人客はお断りです』と言いました。外国人は外国人を断ると大変皮肉を感じております。」

 私はムズリムの友人に問い合わせ、「これはイズラム教違反です!コラン(イズラム教の聖書)によると、イズラム教について全ての興味を持つ人は断っていけないと書いてある!」と言い、彼(アリと者)も問い合わせてみると、同じ結果。代表の『セリム』氏は(名字を明かしてくれなかったという)は、「これはファミリーみたいな集いなので、これは日本人とイズラム教の人たちのみ」と弁解したが、アリさんは「違うでしょう。これは『コミュニティーとの連絡・イズラム教についての意識高揚』のためでは?また、いついきなり日本人のみが『ファミリー』となったのですか。なぜ外国人が外国人を断るのか。そうすると、私たち外国人はこれから日本人が外国人に対する『Japanese Only http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html 』の看板などを掲げると、苦情や抗議を言う立場が崩されていないでしょうか。」それでも、セリム氏は一切譲らなかった。

 アリさんの抗議文は英文として
http://www.debito.org/?p=587
にあります。連絡先は 080 5088 2637

この祭の詳細は
===============================
9月30日(日)京都「イスラーム世界フェスティバル」
http://www.islamjapan.net/html/festival.html

 イスラーム世界と日本との相互理解を深める恒例の「イスラーム世界フェスティバル」を今年も開催いたします。

 京都に住むイスラーム諸国の留学生たちが皆様のために腕をふるってイスラーム世界の料理を作りご紹介いたします。イスラーム圏の人々と直接交流できる機会です。多くの皆様のご参加をお待ちしております。

参加費:無料
ただし、事前のお申し込みが必要です。
お申し込みの方には当日受付で抽選券付き入場券をお渡しいたします。

日時:2007年9月30日(日)午後4時30分〜7時30分(4時より受付)

会場:京都市国際交流会館 特別会議室2階
アクセス:地下鉄東西線 蹴上駅から徒歩6分

第1部:講演会
第2部:夕食会(断食明けのイフタール)・お楽しみ抽選会

申し込み受付:9月18日(火)から
申込先: イスラーム文化センター
フリーダイヤルは、こちら: 0120-519-599
(受付時間) 火〜金 10:00〜18:00   土 12:00〜18:00
電子メールによる申込:getsurei@islamjapan.net
代表はギュレチ・セリム・ユジェル(トルコ出身)
===============================

 なお、今朝、私は開催場の行政している京都市国際交流協会 (075-752-3010, http://www.kcif.or.jp/jp/footer/06.html)の高木さままで連絡して、「お客様からお金をもらって、開催の仕方について分かりません。」私は「公共施設はこうやって外国人納税者を却下できませんよね」と言っても、「調べてみるが、借りているのイベントについて詳しく分かりません」と言った。私の連絡先を高木さまに伝えたが。

 要は、こうやってコミュニティーに下手に「リーチ・アウト」すると、逆効果もありえると思います。先週の英字新聞「メトロポリス」(9月14日版)で「日本国内のイズラム教コミュニティー」の特集を載せ、結論としてある代表はこう発言した(有道 出人和訳):

 「もっと多くの日本人と私たちと話に来てほしいです。お互いに私たちの考え方を伝いたい。しかも誰でも手伝ってあげたい、相手がムズリムであってもなくても無関係。こうやって多文化共生を促進します。」

 但し、「誰でも」と言うなら、なぜムズリム以外の外国人はそうなる?『セリム」さんに是非聞いてほしい。

 宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人
debito@debito.org www.debito.org
September 21, 2007
ENDS

Kyoto Islamic Festival refuses foreigners, accepts Japanese Only

mytest

Hello All. Turning the keyboard over to friend Ali Rustom, a British national of some Middle Eastern descent, with an essay of great irony. Comment from me at the bottom.

KYOTO ISLAMIC FESTIVAL IS “JAPANESE ONLY”

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

I am a Muslim. I make no apologies for my beliefs, and until today (September 20 2007), I was proud and happy to be a Muslim.

A Muslim festival is due to be held on September 30 2007 in Kyoto (http://www.islamjapan.net/html/festival.html), sponsored by the Islam Culture Center in Kyoto (free dial 0120-519-599, email getsurei@islamjapan.net). Recently, a non-Japanese said that he was interested in joining the festival, but when he called to ask if he could go, the sponsors’ first question was if he was a Muslim. He replied that he wasn’t. He was then told that the festival was open only to Muslims and Japanese. Non-Muslims, unless they were Japanese, were forbidden from attending.

As a fellow Muslim, I found this hard to believe. So today I called to see if this was true. First, I got a Japanese lady, who sure enough, asked me if I was a Muslim. I said “no”, but reiterated that I was interested in going anyway. She told me to call back in 10 minutes. I did.

This time she dispatched me to a man, coordinator of the event, who confirmed my friend’s allegations. The cultural event was indeed open to only Muslims and Japanese. Non-Muslim foreigners are to be excluded.

The reason he gave me is that the Muslim community was trying to reach out to the Japanese community and promote understanding of Islam in it.

I asked him, “Isn’t reaching out to foreigners in the community you live in also a part of reaching out to the community and promoting Islam? After all, non-Muslim foreigners are a part of our community, same as Muslims, and same as the Japanese you are reaching out to. Or don’t they count?”

The man answered with an analogy that since the Muslim community was providing food, it was their right to choose who to invite. He said that if he was inviting his family for a meal, someone not related to the family couldn’t complain about being not invited. He said that this case was the same. Non-Muslim foreigners are not family, slam the door.

I replied that it was not the same. Why now are suddenly all Japanese “family”? I told him that a public event is not a “family feast”, and that his comparison was ludicrous.

For the next 10 minutes, he continued to give me stupid excuses, and I continued to refute them, trying to show him the error of his ways. This went on until I realized that there was some grovelling going on here. The fact that he was as adamant to exclude foreigners who were non-Muslim sounded harrowingly like a man who wants to exclude all infidels, but has no choice but to branch out to the Japanese community for fear of being labeled a terrorist. This to me makes the image of Islam in the community even worse.

I finally asked his name. He then said I should go first. I gave him my full name, but then he refused to give anything more than Selim, his first name. He is apparently from Turkey, and he is the spokesman for this festival. That to me is cowardly.

And bigoted. It’s terrible that now, not only do we have to combat prejudice from Japanese people, but now also from fellow non-Japanese. In this case, foreign lickspittles are just trying to get into Japan’s good books. What a setback to community unity, something this festival was supposed to promote!

Think about the damage done: Now that foreigners are discriminating against each other, how can we ever complain about, much less campaign against, racism in Japan by Japanese if the foreign community is doing the same?

I find it, frankly, disgusting that this “Selim” attempts to identify himself as a Muslim. Believe it or not, this goes right against the tolerance that Islam teaches.

Let me give you an example from our teachings: There is a story in the Koran about Prophet Mohammed (Praise Be Upon Him) when he was visiting with non believers (Kooffar) and trying to reach out to them with peace and understanding. Then along came a old man who was lame and who obviously had spent lots of energy to get to the Prophet (PBUH). But when the old man sat down, the Prophet (PBUH) turned his back to him and continued with his conversation to the non-believers in which an Aya (passage) came down from the Koran. The basic gist of this story is that no-one should ever turn away from a person who purposefully comes by his own will asking to learn more about Islam.

Now, it is certainly not my wish to compare someone like this “Selim” to someone as wonderful as our beloved Prophet (PBUH). What I am suggesting is that we should not turn away people who are interested in Islam and learning more about us. Especially when we are inviting them. That means that this festival should be open to everyone, not only to people who are suddenly “family” members thanks to their “host’s” nationality.

Maybe “Selim” should learn how to become a better Muslim, instead of spending his time organizing “exclusionary festivals and parties about cultural understanding” (moronic and oxymoronic). Read the Koran and really understand what it means to a member and a representative of our faith.

===========================
Aly Rustom in Tokyo
Cellphone 080 5088 2637

The “Islam World Festival” (Islaamu Sekai Festival) will be held in Kyoto at the Kyoto City Kokusai Kouryuu Kaikan, Tokubetsu Kaigishitsu 2F on Sunday, September 30, between 4:30 and 7:30 PM (doors open 4PM).

The person in charge (gleaned from their website) is Quireshi Selim Yujel (spelling unclear, from Katakana), Director, Islam Bunka Center.

Access: Tozai Subway Line, 6 minutes walk from Ke-age Eki
Cost: Free, with events and food provided
Places for 100 people. Reservations are requested via free dial number 0120-519-599, or via email at getsurei@islamjapan.net
More information in Japanese Only (naturally) at
http://www.islamjapan.net/html/festival.html
Try to sign up if you can. Failing that, register a complaint with them if you are inclined.

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

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO: I called the Islam Bunka Center this morning to inquire about my situation as a naturalized Japanese. They said they would let me in, but, alas, they’ve filled up their reservation slots. Thanks, I guess.

I also called the holders of the venue, the Kyoto City International Foundation, at 075-752-3010, and talked to a Mr Takagi. He said that all they do is take money and don’t supervise what these groups do. I asked if a public space refusing foreigners is permissible, as public spaces cannot refuse taxpayers. He said that he would look into it, but the KCIF can’t tell them not to refuse foreigners.

Irony in relief. Metropolis Magazine last week quoted the Muslim Community in Japan in a special article (“True Believers”, Sept. 14, 2007) as saying, “We want more Japanese people to come to talk to us. We want them to share what they are thinking. And we want to help anybody, whether or not she or he is Muslim, in order for us to exist on a cultural level.”
http://metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/703/feature.asp

I doubt what’s happening in Kyoto reflects the same spirit. Talking to Japanese at the expense of other members of their community? A lot more of the world than just Japanese also need their image of Muslims adjusted. This won’t help.

Amazing what ironies abound when even foreigners will resort to the same tactics as the worst elements of their “hosts”.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html
September 21, 2007
ENDS

Yomiuri: “Moral education upgrade” proposal shelved

mytest

Hi Blog. Yomiuri reports that one tenet of former PM Abe’s “Beautiful Country” master plan has been withdrawn since his resignation–that of upgrading moral education.

Good. I opposed this because these sorts of things, such as teaching (and grading) “patriotism”, would leave Japan’s children of international roots in a bind–how can they “love” Japan “properly”, in a way quantifiably gradable? Officially-sanctioned identity education is a very difficult subject to broach indeed (and it is by no means limited to Japan). But forcing young students to “love” Japan (and having their future possibly affected by bad grades for it) says more about the political elite and their families who would support this sort of policy, believing love and morality can be thusly commanded.

Anyway, the article on this follows, courtesy of guregu at the Life in Japan list. Arudou Debito

//////////////////////////////////////////
Plan to upgrade moral education to official subject shelved
The Yomiuri Shimbun Sep. 20, 2007

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20070920TDY02006.htm

The Central Council for Education, an advisory panel to the education, science and technology minister, has decided to shelve a plan to upgrade moral education to an official subject in a revision of the official school curriculum guidelines scheduled for this fiscal year, according to sources.

The council concluded that “morals are related to the heart and mind and cannot be knocked into children via a textbook.”

The upgrading of moral education to an official subject was proposed by the Education Rebuilding Council, a Cabinet organ charged with education reform, in its second report released June.

Currently, the official school curriculum guidelines state that moral education should be taught for about one hour a week at primary and middle schools–using supplementary reading materials distributed by the ministry or books and videos edited by private educational material makers– with the aim of teaching values such as “compassion” and a “respect for life.”

However, unlike the five-grade system, pupil assessment is not required, as moral education is not a subject.

The Education Rebuilding Council’s proposal came amid rising public demand for moral and ethical teaching at schools in light of falling standards in society.

However, mandatory conditions that were to be attached to the upgrading, such as assessing students, the use of authorized textbooks and the creation of a new teachers license for the subject at middle and high schools, have been a source of debate. Opponents believed such conditions were not conducive to moral education. Some members of the Central Council for Education also have expressed skepticism, especially with regard to the authorized textbooks, saying, “It is unfeasible to screen textbooks for moral education, since they deal with issues in people’s minds.”

The Central Council for Education decided not to recommend the upgrading, while stressing the importance of moral education. The policy will be taken into consideration when the ministry revises the official school curriculum guidelines.

===

Prospects for education reform unclear

“The cultivation of normal consciousness” and improvements in academic ability were important pillars of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s education reforms. Shelving the moral education upgrade symbolized the uncertain outlook for education reforms.

From the outset, caution prevailed among the council members when discussing the upgrading of moral education to a full official subject. Some specialists have also pointed out that Abe’s sudden resignation announcement weakened the authority of the Education Rebuilding Council, as the body was established as a private advisory panel for the prime minister.

Meanwhile, the time allotted for moral education is being switched to other subjects in some schools.

(Sep. 20, 2007)
ENDS

Japan Times calls for info re NOVA eikawa school’s condition

mytest

Hi Blog. Got a request from the editor of the Japan Times Community Page, Ben Stubbings, who would like information for the next column (draft due this weekend) re the NOVA eikaiwa school situation. Anyone out there who has some info they’d like to see hit a national audience? Let Ben know. Some questions from him follow.

With even Trans Pacific Radio for weeks now urging listeners who might be NOVA employees to get out of NOVA while the going is good, help out if you can. Another article germane to this situation enclosed below in the comments section below. Arudou Debito

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

I’m writing an article for The Japan Times Community Page on the current plight of Nova, focusing on what the chances are of the firm going under, considering the recent government penalties and late payments of teachers’ salaries and rent. In particular, I’m going to consider what would happen to teachers in terms of their salaries, visas and apartments if Nova goes bankrupt. Following are a list of questions I’m looking into for the article.

Also just got a mail from a teacher who knew someone who got a threat of eviction that showed the rent Nova was paying for the apartment was considerably less than the amount he was forking out every month out for the flat! That’s almost another story in itself, but I would be interested to know if anyone else has had a similar experience.

Here are the questions: 1) In exactly how bad shape is Nova financially, and what are the chances of it going bankrupt?

2) What are the chances of a bail-out by other firms or the government?

3) How are Nova’s chances if it survives the 6-month penalty period?

4) What is the extent of the nonpayment of rents and threats of evictions this month – how many have been threatened with eviction and has anyone actually been evicted?

5) How many schools have closed recently and how many teachers and staff made redundant?

6) What is the situation regarding redundancy pay and unemployment benefits for sacked staff – particularly what would be the situation if the company went under?

7) What would be the consequences for teachers in terms of accommodation if the company went bankrupt?

8) Likewise, the situation for thousands of teachers with valid visas – would there be a roundup and cancellations of visas?

9) If thousands of staff were suddenly to find themselves out of a job, what are the chances of them finding another job here? Need school facts and figs for this.

10) Are Nova union members any more protected than non-members?

I hope you can help. This is an issue that affects a great number of people – teachers, Japanese staff and students – who deserve to know what’s going on and what to be prepared for, just in case the worst comes to the worst.

Ben Stubbings Community Editor The Japan Times

community@japantimes.co.jp (work: Japanese/English)
benstubbings@yahoo.co.uk (no Japanese)
ENDS

Stars and Stripes on Korean-style ethnic discrimination

mytest

Hi Blog. Got this from Dave Spector: Stars and Stripes Sept 6, 2007 on what it’s like for international children in South Korea. A lot of the things reported (the ol’ “homogeneous society” chestnut) sound quite similar to what’s going on in Japan (understandibly, given their proximity and interlocking histories and cultures).

The most impressive points I got from the article were:

“There are no laws that discriminate against or protect biracial citizens, but it’s almost impossible for them to get well-paying jobs because they look different. Many live in poverty becaues they weren’t able to get into universities or get good jobs, a cycle that left their children impoverished as well.”

“…biracial Koreans were banned from serving in the military until 2005.”

“The number of foreigners living in South Korea grew 158 percent over the past decade, and one million of the country’s 49 million residents are foreigners, according to the Ministry of Justice.”

(which means 2 percent of the SK population is non-Korean, vs 1.6% of Japan’s, and is growing much faster than the NJ population in Japan).

Here’s the article. Well, two of them. Thanks Dave. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

(click on article to expand in browser)

starsandstripes090607.jpg

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 16 2007

mytest

Hi All. Arudou Debito here. Blog is back in business with daily updates, so here’s a roundup:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 16, 2007

Contents:
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) GOJ’S HUMAN RIGHTS SURVEY WITH ODD QUESTIONS
2) NEW JUSTICE MINISTER TO GET TOUGH ON FOREIGNERS AGAIN
3) UN NEWS: UN PASSES RESOLUTION ON RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
4) UN NEWS: UNHCR URGES HUMAN RIGHTS REVIEW OF EVERY COUNTRY
5) TPR NEWS: SHASETSU COLUMN ON SNAFU AT MOFA
6) LETTER FROM GRASSROOTS UYOKU, DISRUPTERS OF AUG 31 MOFA MEETING
7) “ISSHO KIKAKU REP” TONY LASZLO IN COURRIER JAPON
8) FUN FACTS FROM SEIDENSTICKER’S “TOKYO RISING”

and finally…
9) ACTIVIST REBECCA WALKER ON THE “IDENTITY POLICE”

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

By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org)
Daily blog updates with RSS at http://www.debito.org/index.php

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

1) GOJ’S HUMAN RIGHTS SURVEY WITH ODD QUESTIONS

On August 25, 2007, the GOJ released its latest findings on a human-rights survey it conducts every four years. Entitled the “Jinken Yougo ni Kansuru Yoron Chousa” (Public Survey Regarding the Defense of Human Rights), it is put out by the Cabinet Office. Survey available online in its entirety in Japanese at
http://www8.cao.go.jp/survey/h19/h19-jinken/

Ken Y-N at the Seron Blog has kindly translated the whole thing into English with some commentary at:
http://whatjapanthinks.com/2007/08/27/human-rights-in-japan-part-1-of-3/

The survey had some good news: As opposed to the survey’s results in 1999 and 2003 (which showed a steady decline in the number of people who thought that NJ deserved the same human rights as Japanese), the number rose this time by 5.3 points to 59.3% in favor. Even though it dropped from 68.3% three surveys ago, to 65.5% two ago, to 54% in favor last time. Full report on previous Cabinet Surveys on Debito.org at
http://www.debito.org/jinkenreport0403.html

Of course this begs the question of why the question is being asked at all (as if human rights for fellow humans with extranationality are a matter of popularity polls, something even the UN criticized Japan for nearly a decade ago (CCPR/C/79/Add.102 Item C(7), see http://www.debito.org/CCPR1998.html).

But the reason why this survey is pretty lousy even before the results were tabulated is bad science: The sampling and the questions themselves are skewed.

The goal of the survey, as expressed by the GOJ itself
http://www8.cao.go.jp/survey/h19/h19-jinken/1.html
is “to survey the awareness of citizens (kokumin) regarding human rights protections, in order to apply them towards shaping future policy” (jinken yougo ni kansuru kokumin no ishiki o chousa shi, kongou no shisaku no sankou to suru).

Well, aren’t we thus already biasing the sample? If we are only surveying “kokumin”, we aren’t surveying NJ, even though they too are taxpaying residents, and should have a say in public policies? Especially those which will affect them profoundly as anti-discrimination measures?

Maybe that’s why so few people indicated that they had experienced “racial discrimination” in the survey. See Q3 SQ: 13.9% facing “discriminatory treatment (race, creed, gender etc.)”, behind “rumors and people speaking ill of me”, “invasion of privacy”, “defamation”, “public nuisances (noise, foul odors)”. Nearly half of the 16% who responded that they had faced a violation of their human rights noted “rumors”.

Bet if the GOJ interviewed more people without citizenship or Asian features, who sometimes face apartment refusals or JAPANESE ONLY signs in storefronts, they might get quite different figures.

Also, “human rights” are categorized oddly in the same question: “violence, duress, extortion”, “unjust police treatment”, “unfair treatment at work”, “falling out with the local community”, “sexual harassment”, “stalking”, “false accusations of crimes”, “unjust treatment at public welfare facilities”, “denial of domestic utilities at home” (such as water, gas), “other”, and “nantonaku” (nothing I can put my finger on, but it’s there).

Uh, even with these questions leading the witness, a number of these are not necessarily mutually exclusive categories (gender discrimination and sexual harassment, or rumors and defamation, for example), some are too vague (nantonaku, of course), and some are not exactly pin-downable as examples of “human rights” in themselves (falling out with the neighbors? stoppage of domestic utilities? public-welfare rudeness?)

Bigger issue is that many of these items are what I would call the “crybaby” variety. Items like “people speaking ill of me” and “rumors” are scientifically difficult to quantify (even could be argued as inevitable in human interaction, seen as “perceived slights by the paranoid”), and invite people (myself included) to tell them to develop a thicker skin.

And “public nuisances”? You might have people complaining that a stinky public toilet or a juicy fart in an elevator is a violation of human rights!

No wonder many people have trouble taking human-rights activists seriously, when the definitions is so ill-defined even in official questions! In any case, many of these items would not fall under protection in the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination anyway, as the CERD does not cover interactions between individuals.

But the clearest bias in the survey is where they ask about possible discrimination against particular groups (with examples you may have never thought of yourself provided as leading questions): women, children, the elderly, the disabled, Burakumin, HIV patients, crime victims, the homeless, gays and lesbians, and the Ainu. Okay.

But for foreigners as a group, Q12 and Q13 don’t list any examples. Only some doubt (“it is said (iwareteiru) that discrimination occurs towards resident NJ”) as to whether NJ are actually being discriminated against, and questions on whether NJ have any right to equal rights at all. No question like this is raised towards the other groups.

Again, when even a GOJ survey allows for the possibility of human rights being optional based upon nationality, we have a problem. Especially when nowhere in the survey is the possibility raised that people who look foreign might actually be Japanese; discrimination by race is rendered as a mere subset in another question (see Debito.org blog), and discrimination by nationality is undeserving of its own special question like the other groups?

Still surprises me just how clueless even our government professionals are about the portrayal and promotion of human rights in Japan. This survey is most enlightening when viewed from that angle.

Again, fuller analysis of the survey at
http://www.debito.org/?p=556

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

2) NEW JUSTICE MINISTER TO GET TOUGH ON FOREIGNERS AGAIN

This might be moot, as PM Abe’s pooped out on us, but it’s indicative of the plus-ca-change we’ll probably see in the Cabinet no matter who his replacement is. Following Nagase as Justice Minister is somebody by the name of Hatoyama Kunio (the brother of the DPJ party chieftain), who’s been profiled in the Japan Times:

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2007
CABINET INTERVIEW: NEW JUSTICE MINISTER
Hatoyama a hawk on death penalty, illegal immigrants
By JUN HONGO, Staff writer

Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070904a5.html

=============== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
…Facing reporters later that day, Hatoyama was quick to display his determination to heed Abe’s call, quickly supporting capital punishment and pointing to the threat of crimes committed by foreigners.

…”Cutting the number of illegal immigrants in half is also a goal for this administration. We must tighten up immigration management to achieve that,” he said, referring to the growing perception that more crimes are being committed by foreign nationals…

Regarding long-term policies for accepting overseas workers, Hatoyama said the government could add more job categories for which foreign nationals with skills and expertise can apply.

But he disagreed with some of Nagase’s proposals to open the market and accept manual laborers and unskilled workers.

“Considering Japan’s culture, I must question whether that is a good idea,” Hatoyama said. “This may not be the right thing to say, but that could provoke an increase in crimes by foreign nationals.”

Asked if he intends to reject Nagase’s proposal, Hatoyama simply stated, “I am the justice minister (now).”
=============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================

COMMENT: I don’t think the JT article has it quite right regarding former Justice Minister’s stance on guest workers. It’s not a complete “opening up of the market”. Nagase supported a program in which people would be sent back within three years, regardless of any experience they gained under Japan’s two-decade old “trainee etc” program. It’s not an open-door policy; it’s a revolving-door policy.
http://www.debito.org/?p=402

I agree with Hatoyama that we need to create a brain drain into Japan with encouragement of skilled labor. But he’s barking up the wrong tree (as is the JT article’s claim of a “growing perception” of rising foreign crime, which is unsubstantiated and debatable given last season’s quietly-announced drop in NJ crime)
http://www.debito.org/?p=218
when it comes to claiming that bringing in foreigners will result in more illegals and proportionally more crime. The historical record suggests the opposite.
http://www.debito.org/crimestats.html

The onus must also be placed upon the employer to make sure they are passing skills and employing NJ laborers as they promised to. Up to now, the “researcher” and “trainee” visas have had widespread examples of just employing people (even in violation of even Japanese labor laws) to (famously) pound sheet metal and clean pig sties at ridiculously low wages. In other words, an “unskilled guest worker” program is already in place without calling it as such. Nagase just wanted to call it as such, and cap the contracts.

Sorry, neither plan will work properly and to Japan’s long-term benefit (demographically and fiscally) until you give people a stake in living here. And that is called immigration.

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

3) UN NEWS: UN PASSES RESOLUTION ON RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

Now for some better news: Just received this from the United Nations. Even if nonbinding, this may become a historical event, especially given the indigenous peoples in Japan (Ainu, Ryukyuans) and their lack of official recognition (in 1997, the Ainu received tentative recognition for their aboriginal status from the GOJ, not that it meant they got any money or special favors for it).

=============== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
UNITED NATIONS ADOPTS DECLARATION ON RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
New York, Sep 13 2007 3:00PM
Courtesy of UNNews@un.org

The General Assembly today adopted a landmark declaration outlining the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlawing discrimination against them–a move that followed more than two decades of debate.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been approved after 143 Member States voted in favour, 11 abstained and four–Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States–voted against the text.

A non-binding text, the Declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues.
=============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================
Full text at
http://www.debito.org/?p=573

Surprises on who vetoed it, though. More on the Canadian veto from TheStar.com (thanks Colin) at
http://www.debito.org/?p=573#comment-72736
Japan, by the way, approved it.

Even hotter news:

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

4) UN NEWS: UNHCR URGES HUMAN RIGHTS REVIEW OF EVERY COUNTRY

=============== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
TOP UN OFFICIAL URGES HUMAN RIGHTS BODY TO BEGIN COUNTRY REVIEWS
New York, Sep 14 2007 12:00PM
Courtesy UNNews@un.org

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today urged the Human Rights Council to press forward with its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism, which allows the human rights records of every country to be scrutinized.

“We are acutely aware that the credibility of the United Nations human rights system hinges upon satisfactory implementation of the review, since the UPR has the potential to greatly influence and address human rights situations on the ground,” she told the Council which is currently meeting in its sixth session in Geneva.

Under this new mechanism, over the course of four years, all UN Member States–at the rate of 48 a year–will be reviewed to assess whether they have fulfilled their human rights obligations.
=============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================
Full text at
http://www.debito.org/?p=574

About time, UN. Go for it.

Meanwhile, what the GOJ is doing about human rights issues: holding meetings they cannot control.

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

5) TPR NEWS: SHASETSU COLUMN ON SNAFU AT MOFA

This is a distillation of my larger report on the August 31, 2007, meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for NGOs, to give feedback on what should go into their mandatory periodic report (now more than five years late) to the UN Committee on Racial Discrimination:
http://www.debito.org/?p=544
up at Trans Pacific Radio as an essay. The conclusion:

=============== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
What’s next? Dunno. But it’s clear that we are getting closer to winning the debate–enough so that the Rightists feel threatened and need to shout us down. We’re going to have to develop a thicker skin.

And if coordinators don’t take a more aggressive stand at keeping their meetings calm and reasonable, we’re going to see more argument at the bureaucratic level to shut the public out preemptively. Plurality will be used as a weapon to narrow input on the most contentious policy issues, and the will of “the majority”, seen as paramount in Japan’s rather immature view of democracy, will used to justify policy at the expense of “the minority” all over again.
=============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================
http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/09/10/debito-rumble-at-moj/

As for the “rightists”, here’s their side of the story:

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

6) LETTER FROM GRASSROOTS UYOKU, DISRUPTERS OF AUG 31 MOFA MEETING

A letter from one of the uyoku groups in attendance appeared on a blog called “Japan Family Value Society” (in English–in Japanese it’s “Kazoku no Kizuna o Mamoru Kai”, or “Group to Protect Family Ties”), with LDP member and Hino City Assemblymember Watanabe Tadashi (http://www.watanabetadashi.net/) as VP. Taken from their blog at
http://familyvalueofjapan.blog100.fc2.com/blog-entry-25.html#more

I translated and blogged it here.
http://www.debito.org/?p=563

Of course, they put on their halos and say they were hard done by, even had their constitutional rights violated. Hey, that’s my line! Anyway, this is why we need the media and recording devices handy to avoid the good ol’ he-said, she-said situations. But the Japanese’s bureaucracy’s phobia of responsibility and accountability has this kind of side effect.

Meanwhile, speaking of mizu kake ron:

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

7) “ISSHO KIKAKU REP” TONY LASZLO IN COURRIER JAPON

Fascinating magazine “Courrier Japon” (Kodansha pubs) has in their October 2007 issue an interesting interview with three panelists: South Korean Kim Byon-Gi (Journalist for the Chuo Nippo Daily Paper), Russian tour guide and model Elena Vinogradova/Hino Erena, and, get ready for this:

American Citizen Tony Laszlo!

(Sorry, can’t recreate the accents over the last name as rendered in the article. American text usually eschews them anyway.)

Yep, the person who’s been portrayed as kinda European (his nationality has been ambiguously expressed both by the first Daarin wa Gaikokujin book, and reviews in Rakuten Books et al (http://books.rakuten.co.jp/RBOOKS/pickup/interview/tony_l/), as “Hungarian father and and Italian mother, raised in the US”), finally comes out as a garden-variety American! Howdy, pardner! Not that there’s anything wrong with being American, of course. It’s just good to see your stripes at last.

Excerpts and images from the article at
http://www.debito.org/?p=566

And you just gotta love Laszlo’s Bio there:
=======================================
“Writer, Specialist in Languages, American origin. First came to Japan in 1985 [Daarin wa Gaikokujin pg 41 mentions his unicycle]. Representative of ‘Issho Kikaku’, which thinks about cultural co-existence. Character in the bestselling “Daarin Wa Gaikokujin” books (Oguri Saori, author).”
=======================================

Note the missing “journalist” tag nowadays. And whatever happened to this “Issho Kikaku” organization that keeps finding its way to attach itself to Laszlo’s name? The Issho Kikaku website (http://www.issho.org) has been offline for “website renewal” since December 2005, and years of Issho mailing list and website archives, the work of hundreds of former members, have long since disappeared.
http://www.debito.org/?p=139
Doesn’t seem as if the group even exists anymore.

No matter. And never mind Laszlo’s threat of lawsuit towards another writer on Japan’s internationalization, either (http://www.debito.org/letterlazlawyer.html). We’ll just have a nice, light interview talking about things like okonomiyaki sauce. Clearly, it’s important to keep one’s comic-book-created persona lightweight for public consumption nowadays…

Anyway, as a magazine in general, Courrier Japon is excellent. On your newsstands now.

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

8) FUN FACTS FROM SEIDENSTICKER’S “TOKYO RISING”

Been stampeding through the late Edward Seidensticker’s book TOKYO RISING (borrowed from the FCCJ library, but two weeks is simply not long enough for me to get through a book; I like to suck on them over months and am never faithful to one tome unless it’s really good).

I found some excerpts germane to Debito.org on the Tokyo Police’s extraordinary autonomy (inserting a reference to The Beatles’ Japan Tour in 1966), the Zainichi Sangokujin being targeted by police in Shinbashi in 1946, and Japan’s postwar economy being kick-started by Korean War profits. See them at:
http://www.debito.org/?p=561

QUICK REVIEW: All-in-all, in TOKYO RISING Seidensticker has created a book that is okay for those who really know something about Tokyo or Japan already (it’s a work that would thrill academic specialists in the field, but if they assigned it to their students with only incipient knowledge of Japan it would leave them nonplussed). For me, after 20 years here, it’s a decent read–it fills a lot of holes and answers a lot of lingering questions. For anyone else, it would probably be a head-scratcher. It would merely promote Japan as a land of impenetrable exotica (which is the wont of this generation of Japan specialists anyway, IMO), instead of as a land of quirks working under a mostly rational system. It takes a lot of experiences before people see the rationality. I’m sure Seidensticker himself saw it too, but he really doesn’t communicate that at all well. Too much reliance on novelists (with largely boring or uncontexted excerpts from their writings) as primary sources of information as well.

This is one of the reasons I refused to read “specialist” books on Japan for so long, until I had built up my own set of experiences from which to get the hang of this place. Now that I have gotten the hang, I find it amazing how so many books on Japan are written by those who don’t have the hang, or can’t communicate that they do.

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

and finally…

9) ACTIVIST REBECCA WALKER ON THE “IDENTITY POLICE”

Friend Michael Fox sent me this article from Heeb Magazine, Issue 13 (http://www.heebmagazine.com/): An interview with Writer/Activist Rebecca Walker. Now, while the focus may be on how one person grew up straddling two cultures within the same country (Black and Jewish), the points she makes about having a healthy attitude towards people who would try to police her identity (and towards activism in general) merit mention. Bonus points for showing us the merits of growing up under joint custody after divorce, something Japan’s divorce laws will not allow, much to the detriment of the children. Great feedback from a person well-adjusted to diversity and adversity:

=============== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
Q: You are, like both of your parents, a writer and an activist. What do you think is different about being an activist today as compared with the turbulent ’60s and ’70s?

A: Being an activist today means understanding the limitations of the political system and making smart decisions about how you use your finite energy to make not just the world, but your home and even your synagogue, a better place. Our political leaders are not necessarily evolved as human beings, so we can’t expect them to lead us into a world they can’t envision…

Q: How do you think about your identity now?

A: People are constantly trying to tell me I’m not really Jewish. I didn’t go to Hebrew school, my mother’s not Jewish. I wasn’t Bat Mitzvahed and I’m Buddhist. I used to roll out a complete discussion about being culturally rather than spiritually Jewish–like a whole lot of American Jews my age–but these days, I just don’t care to expend a lot of energy proving I belong somewhere. If you get it, cool. If not, go police someone else’s identity… You have to let go of people who can’t love you or who are ambivalent about loving you because of who you represent racially or culturally, even if they are your family members. The risk of letting them in is self-doubt and lifelong confusion about whether or not you deserve happiness.
=============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=558

Very insightful. More kids in Japan with differences and diversity should read this and gain some confidence in themselves.

All for today. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 16, 2007 ENDS

Letter from “Grassroots Uyoku” which disrupted MOFA meeting on UN CERD

mytest

Hi Blog. I reported two weeks ago about the Ministry of Foreign Affairs meeting regarding the GOJ report to the UN Committee on Racial Discrimination last August 31, and how it was disrupted by jeering right-wingers.

Well, here’s a letter from one of the uyoku groups in attendance, from a blog called “Japan Family Value Society” (in English–in Japanese it’s “Kazoku no Kizuna o Mamoru Kai”, or “Group to Protect Family Ties”), with LDP member and Hino City Assemblymember Watanabe Tadashi as VP. Taken from their blog at

http://familyvalueofjapan.blog100.fc2.com/blog-entry-25.html#more

Of course, they put on their halos and say they were hard done by, even had their constitutional rights violated. Hey, that’s my line! Anyway, this is why we need the media and recording devices handy to avoid the good ol’ he-said, she-said situations…

Translated by Arudou Debito, blog entry as follows. Japanese original in the previous Debito.org blog entry.

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MESSAGE TO THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

As this blog mentioned a few days ago, we sent on September 4, 2007, a message with our opinions and demands regarding the MOFA’s August 31 “Meeting for an exchange of opinions with citizens and NGOs regarding the GOJ’s report for the UN CERD.” The text of the message was as follows:

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To the Ministry of Justice, General Affairs Department, Office for Diplomatic Policy:

To Kimura Kachou, Section for Human Affairs and Human Rights

From the Japan Family Value Society

Several members of our society participated in your meeting on your periodical report to the UN CERD Committee.

We raise strong objections (taihen ikan na koto) to the fact that our group’s opportunity to express opinions was snatched away (ubawareta) by the statements of certain members of the audience, who ignored the demands from the chairman to cease and desist, and thus blocked the continuation of the meeting.

We also believe that this meeting is for the common Japanese (kokumin) to express his opinion, and must not be changed in future in violation of our country’s democratic processes.

In regards to this, we have found out through the Internet that the “NGO Network for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination” has in fact sent the MOFA a “Unified NGO Statement” of their standpoints vis-a-vis these meetings.

Within this statement, this NGO network has stated [reference link unknown]:

“As NGOs and minority groups working on behalf of minorities suffering discrimination, undertaking the job of eliminating racial discrimination, and putting the CERD into effect in Japan, holding a meeting where we are put side-by-side with general individuals (ippan no kojin)… we do not believe that there is any goal behind holding these types of meetings.”

“We think there should be a meeting including the MOFA and other related governmental agencies, between the actual minority groups and the NGOs actually undertaking the elimination of racial discrimination in Japan.”

“We think long-term meetings between the MOFA and the “NGO Network for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination” should be held with both sides on equal terms.”

Making demands like these is in denial of our country’s democracy, and shakes things to their very foundations. If we are going have a formal discussion about law against racial discrimination, or against discrimination in general, you cannot sluice off the claims of the average Japanese (ippan kokumin). This is an outrage (yurusarenai).

These are our questions, demands and advice. We look forward to your answers:

1) Regarding the above demands for the “NGO Network for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination”, what is the standpoint of the MOFA? How do you intend to respond?

2) Given that the last meeting was interrupted thusly, we hope that you will hold another one. Kindly tell us when that might be scheduled.

3) Kindly keep these meetings about the CERD, and about all treaties in general, open to the public for all Japanese.

4) Kindly summarize (ronten seiri) and put up on the MOFA homepage all the arguments made at the meeting about the CERD, and as a result, what sort of arguments these will be winnowed down to (shibarareru).

5) Make clear rules so that nobody obstructs these meetings again.

6) At the meeting, some woman who blocked the proceedings said she was there as “an observer”. What does “participating as an observer” mean?

We look forward to your answers.

Heisei 19 nen 9 gatsu 4 nichi (in kanji)

(Manuscript of the letter rendered in vertical script.)

ENDS

草の根右翼団体「家族の絆を守る会」から外務省へ「意見要望書」

mytest

ブロッグの読者の皆様、こちらは8月31日に私も出席した人種差別撤廃条約のついて外務省会議で人権擁護団体に対してヤジをとばした右翼団体からの要望書です。相手のブロックからいただきました。有道 出人

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外務省へ提出した意見要望書

先日、当ブログでお伝えしましたように、8月31日に開催された「人種差別撤廃条約に関する日本政府報告に関する市民・NGOとの意見交換会」について、その問題点と今後の対応についての意見、要望をまとめた「意見要望書」(9月4日付)を外務省に提出しました。
以下にその文書を掲載いたします。

http://familyvalueofjapan.blog100.fc2.com/blog-entry-25.html#more

[http://www.watanabetadashi.net/]

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外務省 外務省総合外交政策局
人道人権課  木村 課長 殿

家族の絆を守る会 理事長 古賀 俊昭

先日の人種差別撤廃条約に関する日本政府定期報告作業に伴う意見交換会におきましては、「家族の絆を守る会」からも数名が参加しました。

この中で、参加者の一部の発言、および、議長の制止を無視して、議事進行を妨げる行為のあったこと、また私たち「家族の絆を守る会」の意見を述べる機会が奪われたことを、大変遺憾なことと考えております。

また私共は、今回のことで、国民に開かれた場での意見交換会開催の形式に、今後、民主主義国家に反するような変更があってはならないことと考えております。

私共は、人種差別撤廃条約の意見交換会について、「人種差別撤廃NGOネットワーク」が、「NGO共同申し入れ書」を外務省に提出していることを、インターネットの情報で承知しております。

この中で、人種差別撤廃NGOネットワークは、
「人種差別撤廃条約の効果的な国内実施について多大なる努力をしてきた被差別マイノリティ当事者団体・人種差別の撤廃に取り組むNGOと、一般の個人参加者を同列に置くという開催形態は、・・・意見交換会が本来持つべき開催目的がないがしろにするものであったと考えます。」として、
「『意見交換会』を、外務省を含む関係各省庁と、被差別マイノリティ当事者団体及び人種差別の撤廃に取り組むNGOとの意見交換の場と位置付けること。」
「『意見交換会』を外務省と『人種差別撤廃NGOネットワーク』との共催とし、共同議長形式にて両者が対等な関係で進行にあたるようにすること。」
という要求を出しておりますが、これは、我が国の民主主義を否定し、根幹から揺るがすものであります。人権擁護法、差別禁止法など、立法、国のあり方に関わることも話し合われる場から、一般国民を締め出そうという主張は、断じてあってはならない、許されないものであります。
人権諸条約は、「差別」を主張する「当事者」のものだけである筈がありません。国家、国民全体に関わる大きな問題です。私共「家族の絆を守る会」は、そうした観点から、人権諸条約に関する意見交換会に関わって行くつもりでおります。

そこで、以下のことについて、質問、要望、提案をさせて頂きますので、ご回答を頂きますよう、お願いいたします。
一.「人種差別撤廃NGOネットワーク」の上記の要望について、外務省は如何お考えでしょうか。また、同ネットワークの要望に対して、如何に対応されたのか、お聞かせ下さい。
二.今回中断された人種差別撤廃委員会への報告作業に伴う意見交換会を、再度行って頂きたいと思いますが、今後のスケジュール、日程等をお知らせ下さい。
三.人種差別撤廃条約のみならず、人権諸条約に関する意見交換会は、今後も、国民公開の場で続けて下さい。
四.人権諸条約に関して、寄せられた意見、意見交換会で話し合われたこと、また、その結果、どのような論点に絞られるのか、論点整理を行って、ホームページ等で公開してください。
五.議事が妨げられないよう、明確なルールを作ってください。
六.今回、議事進行を拒否された女性が、オブザーバーとしての立場での参加であると仰っていましたが、「オブザーバーとしての参加」とは、どのようなものでしょうか。

以上、ご回答を頂きますよう、よろしくお願い申し上げます。

平成十九年九月四日

(原物は縦書)

ENDS

UN News: UNHCR urges HRC to begin reviews of every country’s human rights record

mytest

Go for it, UN. About time. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

TOP UN OFFICIAL URGES HUMAN RIGHTS BODY TO BEGIN COUNTRY REVIEWS
New York, Sep 14 2007 12:00PM

Courtesy UNNews@un.org

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today urged the Human Rights Council to press forward with its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism, which allows the human rights records of every country to be scrutinized.

“We are acutely aware that the credibility of the United Nations human rights system hinges upon satisfactory implementation of the review, since the UPR has the potential to greatly influence and address human rights situations on the ground,” she told the Council which is currently meeting in its sixth session in Geneva.

Under this new mechanism, over the course of four years, all UN Member States – at the rate of 48 a year – will be reviewed to assess whether they have fulfilled their human rights obligations.

“Through the UPR all UN Member States will now be reviewed in the same comprehensive manner on the basis of universal and equal parameters and standards,” she said. “At the same time, countries under review will be fully involved in what is envisaged as a participatory and inclusive review process.”

In her address to the 47-member body, the High Commissioner also highlighted problems faced by countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Iran and Myanmar.

On the DRC, Ms. Arbour voiced concern over the lack of progress in the vast Central Africa nation which is seeking to rebuild after a brutal six year civil war that killed 4 million in fighting, attendant hunger and disease.

The High Commissioner pointed out that no perpetrators who committed serious crimes committed in the first half of this year have been arrested and brought to justice. “Interference by military and political authorities in the administration of justice is prevalent, particularly in high-profile cases,” she noted. “Recent trials raise serious questions about the independence of the judiciary.”

While visiting Teheran, Iran’s capital, earlier this month, Ms. Arbour met with senior Government officials as well as with local women’s rights defenders on how to improve respect for human rights. She expressed to them her particular concerns regarding the death penalty being applied to juveniles and the need to defend the right to peaceful public expression, she told the Council, which began its session on 10 September.

Ms. Arbour also said that she has been following the suppression of peaceful protests in Myanmar with mounting concern. “I urge the authorities to release detainees and political prisoners and ensure respect for fundamental rights,” she told the Council, whose three-week session wraps up on 28 September.

In a related development, UN independent experts today jointly called on Myanmar to immediately release over 150 people brutally arrested last month after protesting the surge in fuel prices.

“It is shocking that peaceful demonstrators have received life sentences in trials without any basic guarantee of the due process of law and that local journalists were prevented from reporting on these measures,” three Special Rapporteurs said in a joint statement.

Noting the “important and courageous role” that women, student leaders and monks played in the protests, the experts said that the “Myanmar authorities should be proud of its vibrant civil society and engage without hesitations in a constructive and transparent dialogue with all parties so as to lay down a roadmap for a healthy and empowered democratic society, for the benefit of the country and the region at large.

They also warned that Myanmar can push forward with political transition unless “ordinary people have the space to express their views and discontent, peacefully and in public.”

The three experts who issued today’s statement are Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar; Ambeyi Ligabo, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and Leandro Despouy, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.
2007-09-13 00:00:00.000
ENDS

“Issho Kikaku Rep” Tony Laszlo in Courrier Japon Oct 2007

mytest

lazgrin2007jpg.jpg

Hi Blog. Fascinating magazine “Courrier Japon” (Kodansha pubs) has in their October 2007 issue an interesting interview with three panelists: South Korean Kim Byon-Gi (Journalist for the Chuo Nippo Daily Paper), Russian tour guide and model Elena Vinogradova/Hino Erena, and…

American Citizen Tony Laszlo!

(Sorry, can’t recreate the accents over the last name as per the romaji below. American text usually eschews them anyway)


lazcourrier1007003.jpg

(click on the image to expand in your browser) 

Yep, the person who’s been portrayed as kinda European (his nationality has been ambiguously expressed both by the first Daarin wa Gaikokujin book, and reviews in Rakuten Books et al, as “Hungarian father and and Italian mother, raised in the US”), finally comes out as a garden-variety American! Howdy, pardner! Not that there’s anything wrong with being American, of course. It’s just good to see your stripes at last.

And you just gotta love Laszlo’s Bio above:

“Writer, Specialist in Languages, American origin. First came to Japan in 1985 [Daarin wa Gaikokujin pg 41 mentions his unicycle]. Representative of ‘Issho Kikaku’, which thinks about cultural co-existence. Character in the bestselling “Daarin Wa Gaikokujin” books (Oguri Saori, author).”

Note the missing “journalist” tag nowadays. And whatever happened to this “Issho Kikaku” organization that keeps finding its way to attach itself to Laszlo’s name? The Issho Kikaku website (http://www.issho.org) has been offline for “website renewal” since December 2005, and years of Issho mailing list and website archives, the work of hundreds of former members, have long since disappeared. Doesn’t seem as if the group even exists anymore.

No matter. And never mind Laszlo’s threat of lawsuit towards another writer on Japan’s internationalization, either. Sauce for the goose. Laz even mentions his adventures with sauce in an okonomiyakiya in his very first comment in the interview. Clearly, it’s important to keep one’s comic-book-created persona lightweight for public consumption nowadays…

Here is the interview in full (click on images to expand in browser). Love the illustrations. And Courrier Japon magazine in general is excellent.

courrieroct07001.jpgcourrieroct07002.jpgcourrieroct07003.jpgcourrieroct07004.jpgcourrieroct07005.jpgcourrieroct07006.jpg

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UN passes resolution on indigenous peoples (hello Ainu, Ryukyuans)

mytest

Hi Blog. Sorry for not talking about the PM Abe resignation (truth is, I don’t know what to say. Yet. Nor does anyone, really). Instead, topics germane to the focus of Debito.org:

Just received this from the United Nations. This may become a historical event, especially given the indigenous peoples in Japan (Ainu, Ryukyuans) and their lack of official recognition (in 1997, the Ainu received tentative recognition for their aboriginal status from the GOJ, not that it meant they got any money or special favors for it). FYI. Debito

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UNITED NATIONS ADOPTS DECLARATION ON RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
New York, Sep 13 2007 3:00PM

Courtesy of UNNews@un.org

The General Assembly today adopted a landmark declaration outlining the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlawing discrimination against them – a move that followed more than two decades of debate.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been approved after 143 Member States voted in favour, 11 abstained and four – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – voted against the text.

A non-binding text, the Declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues.

The Declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.

It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development.

General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour have all welcomed today’s adoption.

Sheikha Haya said “the importance of this document for indigenous peoples and, more broadly, for the human rights agenda, cannot be underestimated. By adopting the Declaration, we are also taking another major step forward towards the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.”

But she warned that “even with this progress, indigenous peoples still face marginalization, extreme poverty and other human rights violations. They are often dragged into conflicts and land disputes that threaten their way of life and very survival; and, suffer from a lack of access to health care and education.”

In a statement released by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban described the Declaration’s adoption as “a historic moment when UN Member States and indigenous peoples have reconciled with their painful histories and are resolved to move forward together on the path of human rights, justice and development for all.”

He called on governments and civil society to ensure that the Declaration’s vision becomes a reality by working to integrate indigenous rights into their policies and programmes.

Ms. Arbour noted that the Declaration has been “a long time coming. But the hard work and perseverance of indigenous peoples and their friends and supporters in the international community has finally borne fruit in the most comprehensive statement to date of indigenous peoples’ rights.”

The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues estimates there are more than 370 million indigenous people in some 70 countries worldwide.

Members of the Forum said earlier this year that the Declaration creates no new rights and does not place indigenous peoples in a special category.
2007-09-13 ENDS

Fun Facts #8: Stuff gleaned from Seidensticker’s “Tokyo Rising”

mytest

Hi Blog. Been stampeding through the late Edward Seidensticker’s book TOKYO RISING (borrowed from FCCJ library, but two weeks is simply not long enough for me to get through a book; I like to suck on them over months and am never faithful to one tome unless it’s really good), and these are some things that popped up for Debito.org:

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One powerful force in the workings of the city and the prefecture is not entirely under the control of the prefectural government: the police. The chief of the Tokyo prefecutral police is appointed by a national police agency with the approval of the prime minister and upon the advice of a prefectural police commission, which is in effectual. None of these agencies is under the control of governor and council. Tokyo becomes a police city when it is thought necessary to guard against the embarrassment of having someone shoot at a president or a queen or a pope [or a Beatle; see more about the concert gone so badly in 1966–3000 police seated to make sure 10,000 Budoukan spectators didn’t even stand up during the concert–that the Beatles never returned to Japan as a group to perform]. It has more than twice as many policemen as Osaka, though it is less than twice as large in population. The problem of police excesses is by no means limited to Tokyo–it was in Kanagawa Prefecture that a case of illegal eavesdropping was uncovered in 1986–but it is most conspicuous in the prefecture in which national embarrassments are most likely to occur. (page 169)
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This might be one reason why the Tokyo Police (keishichou) seem to be much more assiduous in their Gaijin Card Checkpoints than anywhere else in the country…

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There was in those days [during the Occupation] the problem of the “third nationals” [sangokujin]. It was conspicuous in the underworld and in gang squabbling. Third nationals were for practical purposes Chinese and Koreans resident in Japan [i.e. the Zainichis]. The expression put them in their place, distinguishing them both from Japanese and from the Occupation, which favored them, treating Chinese as allies and Koreans as quasi allies (enemies of the enemy). It is hard to deny that they took advantage of their position.

If the police couild not intercede in behalf of Japanese gangs that thought of themselves (or at any rate advertised themselves) as Robin Hoods and defenders of the Japanese spirit, there is much evidence that they managed to aid them surreptitiously. In the “Shimbashi Incident” of 1946, American military police and Japanese police intervened to prevent an armed battle between Chinese and Japanese gangs for control of the market. The nonbattle was in effect a victory for the Japanese. It showed the Chinese, who were progressively weaker, that they could not have everything their way even in that day of confusion and demoralization. Across the bay in Chiba, later in 1946, the police seem to have actualy encouraged a showdown between Japanese and third-national gangs. It would be the occasion, the Chiba police and the American military police agreed, for rounding up gangsters of whatever natioanlity. The Japanese police told the Japanese gangs what was to happen and invited their cooperation. The Americans do not seem to have accorded the same favor to the third nationals. The encounter took place, a few minutes of gunfire in which several men were wounded but no one was killed, and in the end only third nationals were rounded up. (page 154-155)
============================

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The most powerful force in getting [the postwar Japanese economy] moving again came fairly late. The Korean War broke out in June 1950, almost exactly at midpoint thorugh what we may call the decade of the rebuilding. For Korea it was a terrible happening, for Japan a momentous one, with little sense of the terrible… It was perhaps natural in an occupied country that had no foreign policy save to get rid of the Occupation and export things wherever possible…

Momentous the event certainly was for all that. Japanese profits from the Korean War were massive and they went into rebuilding city and land, and bring them back somewhat near, in material terms, the position that had been theirs before the folly of the forties. Procurement contracts in the remaining months of 1950 ran to $180 milion, and before the Korean War was over they ran to $2.3 billion. Production returned to and passed prewar levels. Direct Ameircan aid, which had been necessary in the immediate postwar years, now ceased to be. Brave beginnings had already been made towards putting things together again, but it was in the early fifties that matters went forward with speed and purpose… Yet it is ironic that the prosperity of a country which has renounced war (see Article IX of the postwar constitution) is founded on a war. (page 155-156)
============================

All-in-all, in TOKYO RISING Seidensticker has created a book that is okay for those who really know something about Tokyo or Japan already (it’s a work that would thrill academic specialists in the field, but if they assigned it to their students with only incipient knowledge of Japan it would leave them nonplussed). For me, after 20 years here, it’s a decent read–it fills a lot of holes and answers a lot of lingering questions. For anyone else, it would probably be a head-scratcher. It would merely promote Japan as a land of impenetrable exotica (which is the wont of this generation of Japan specialists anyway, IMO), instead of as a land of quirks working under a mostly rational system. It takes a lot of experiences before people see the rationality. I’m sure Seidensticker himself saw it too, but he really doesn’t communicate that at all well. Too much reliance on novelists (with largely boring or uncontexted excerpts from their writings) as primary sources of information as well.

This is one of the reasons I refused to read “specialist” books on Japan for so long, until I had built up my own set of experiences from which to get the hang of this place. Now that I have gotten the hang, I find it amazing how so many books on Japan are written by those who don’t have the hang, or can’t communicate that they do.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

TPR editorial on SNAFU at MOFA: Uyoku disrupt human rights meeting

mytest

Hi Blog. An editorial I wrote quickly for Trans Pacific Radio was put up two days ago. Have a read. Excerpt follows. Debito in Sapporo

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TRANS PACIFIC RADIO SHASETSU

Arudou Debito: Rumble at the Ministry of [Foreign Affairs]

Filed under: Shasetsu – Op/Ed

Posted by Debito Arudou at 3:44 pm on Monday, September 10, 2007

Courtesy http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/09/10/debito-rumble-at-moj/

(Editor’s note: Debito wrote this piece, and even recorded it, quite some time ago. Unfortunately, for reasons we can’t quite fathom, the audio file has. . . well. . . apparently disappeared. This is the text of his Shasetsu, a bit late. We apologize for the tardiness of the publication, for the missing audio, and for dropping the ball on this one in general. Nevertheless, it’s a well-done piece, well worth reading and discussing and we hope you enjoy it.

The second part of Arudou Debito’s appearance on TPR Spotlight (part one is here) will be up before you can say “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.”)

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

RUMBLE AT THE MINISTRY OF [FOREIGN AFFAIRS]

A hearing on human rights is disrupted by right-wingers

In 1995, Japan signed the United Nations Convention against all forms of Racial Discrimination. By doing so, it promised “without delay” to take all measures, including legislation, to eliminate racial discrimination within its borders. However, more than a decade later, Japan still has not passed any laws against discrimination by race. And as the spread of “Japanese Only” signs and rules nationwide attests, laws are sorely needed.

So is the urge to come clean. Under this treaty, the Japanese government must submit a report every two years on what it is doing to eliminate racial discrimination. It is mighty late, filing its first report, due in 1998, in 2001. And it has filed no reports since then.

In preparation for the next report, and to avoid charges that the bureaucrats were not listening to the public, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has held open hearings, attended over the years by NGOs and “concerned citizens”. The latest meeting took place yesterday afternoon, August 31, and I attended. It was, in a word, a disaster…

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

Rest at http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/09/10/debito-rumble-at-moj/

ENDS

「川崎W女児いじめ裁判」傍聴参加のお願い

mytest

Next hearing for the Kawasaki Schoolgirl Ijime Lawsuit–where a Japanese grade schooler was bullied for having Chinese roots and was afterwards diagnosed with PTSD, will be September 20, 4:30 PM, at Yokohama District Court, Kawasaki Branch. Details in Japanese from their support group below. Arudou Debito

「川崎W女児いじめ裁判」傍聴参加のお願い
2007年9月11日

拝啓
猛暑の時季は通り越したものの、まだまだ厳しい残暑が続いておりますが、「裁判を支える会」の皆様におかれましてはますますご健勝にてご活躍のことと思います。 「川崎W女児いじめ裁判」の支援につきましては、日頃大変お世話になっております。
さて、来る9月20日(木) に開廷されます第13回公判では、最終弁論として原告、被告双方のすべての主張を記載した陳述書類が裁判官に提出され、裁判所の裁定を待つことになります。
原告側では日夜全精力を傾注し、最終弁論の書類作成に取り組んでおります。「裁判を支える会」でも、有志で結成した「精読会」メンバーにより、これまでの被告答弁書・準備書面に対する反対尋問案を作成し、原告に提供するなどの活動を行ってまいりましたが、このたび「いじめ裁判」のホームページを開設すべく準備を進めております。開設時にはあらためて皆様に閲覧のご案内をさせていただきます。
9月20日の公判では裁判官への書類の提出が主となりますが、ひとりでも多くの支援者が公判傍聴に参加していただくことにより、原告を励まし、あくまでも「いじめはなかった」と主張する被告に精神的な圧力を与えるものと思います。日頃ご支援を頂いております皆様の9月20日公判の傍聴を是非お願い致します。
敬具

― 第13回公判のご案内 ―

(1) 日時: 2007年9月20日(木)
(2) 開廷: 午後4時30分
(3) 閉廷: 午後5時(予定)
(4) 場所: 横浜地裁川崎支部第一法廷

* 傍聴終了後、原告を励ます支援者懇親会(参加は任意)を予定しております。
川崎W女児いじめ裁判を支える会
ENDS

Tangent: Rebecca Walker on the “Identity Police”

mytest

Hi Blog. Friend Michael Fox sent me this article from Heeb Magazine, Issue 13. An interview with Writer/Activist Rebecca Walker. Now, while the focus may be on how one person grew up straddling two cultures within the same country (Black and Jewish), the points she makes about having a healthy attitude towards people who would try to police her identity (and towards activism in general) merit reprinting on Debito.org. Bonus points for showing us the merits of growing up under joint custody after divorce, something Japan’s divorce laws will not allow, much to the detriment of the children. Great feedback from a person well-adjusted to diversity and adversity. Enjoy. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

LOVE CHILD
WRITER/ACTIVIST REBECCA WALKER

(excerpt)

In 1967, civil rights lawyer Mel Leventhal, a white Jew from Brooklyn, married African-American activist and writer Alice Walker. His mother sat shiva for her son, not acknowledging his marriage until her granddaughter was born three years later. Young Rebecca was “the movement child,” living proof of the triumph of love over racial divisions. But soon the political climate changed and solidarity was replaced by segregation. Leventhal and Walker divorced, leaving Rebecca shuttling back and forth, spending two years with her Jewish father on the East Coast, then two with her African-American mom in California, then back again.

In her bestselling childhood memoir, BLACK, WHITE AND JEWISH, Rebecca Walker wrote about moving between worlds and belonging nowhere. Her second book, BABY LOVE, is about deciding to become a mother herself, and was recently published by Riverhead Books.

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

You are, like both of your parents, a writer and an activist. What do you think is different about being an activist today as compared with the turbulent ’60s and ’70s?

Being an activist today means understanding the limitations of the political system and making smart decisions about how you use your finite energy to make not just the world, but your home and even your synagogue, a better place. Our political leaders are not necessarily evolved as human beings, so we can’t expect them to lead us into a world they can’t envision…

How do you explain that rupture of the political alliance between American’s outsiders: African-Americans and Jews?

I think Jews feel betrayed by black anger about the treatment of Palestinians and Jewish participation in slavery. Blacks feel betrayed by the assimilation track so many Jews have taken in the last couple of generations. They feel that white-skin privilege has afforded American Jews access that most black people may never have, and they don’t see those Jews reaching back to pull them thorugh. I think as Jewish communities in America assimilated and became more secular, money and status replaced devotion to God and to healing the world.

In your first book, BLACK, WHITE AND JEWISH, you wrote that traveling between these two cultures blurred your notion of identity.

I would pretend to be Puerto Rican at school in the Bronx and then be the nice Jewish girl back in our apartment building in Riverdale. I was ghetto fabulous at the tough public school in Brooklyn and the hippie girl at the progressive alternative school in San Francisco. Because I performed all these different roles, I didn’t feel like I was completely any of them.

How do you think about your identity now?

People are constantly trying to tell me I’m not really Jewish. I didn’t go to Hebrew school, my mother’s not Jewish. I wasn’t Bat Mitzvahed and I’m Buddhist. I used to roll out a complete discussion about being culturally rather than spiritually Jewish–like a whole lot of American Jews my age–but these days, I just don’t care to expend a lot of energy proving I belong somewhere. If you get it, cool. If not, go police someone else’s identity. The only way to deal with this is to go on a psycho-spiritual journey of self-love, have babies and focus on strengthening your created family. You have to let go of people who can’t love you or who are ambivalent about loving you because of who you represent racially or culturally, even if they are your family members. The risk of letting them in is self-doubt and lifelong confusion about whether or not you deserve happiness.

ENDS

J Times on new Justice Minister Hatoyama Kunio

mytest

Hi Blog. Just ran across this in the Japan Times. Decent profile by Jun Hongo on new Justice Minister Hatoyama Kunio.

I enclose the entire article, but boldface the bits pertinent to Debito.org. Comment follows article.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2007
CABINET INTERVIEW
NEW JUSTICE MINISTER
Hatoyama a hawk on death penalty, illegal immigrants

By JUN HONGO, Staff writer
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070904a5.html

When he appointed Kunio Hatoyama as justice minister Aug. 27, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe requested that the veteran lawmaker help Japan regain its recognition as one of the world’s safest countries.

Facing reporters later that day, Hatoyama was quick to display his determination to heed Abe’s call, quickly supporting capital punishment and pointing to the threat of crimes committed by foreigners.

“The death penalty embodies preventive functions against crimes. I disagree with abolishing the system,” the 58-year-old stated in his first news conference at the Justice Ministry. “Cutting the number of illegal immigrants in half is also a goal for this administration. We must tighten up immigration management to achieve that,” he said, referring to the growing perception that more crimes are being committed by foreign nationals.

Hatoyama, a conservative hawk who makes frequent visits to Yasukuni Shrine, hails from a prominent political family. His grandfather, Ichiro, was a prime minister, and his father, Iichiro, a foreign minister. Hatoyama’s older brother, Yukio, is secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan.

The Tokyo native began his political career as a secretary to his father and the late Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka before winning a seat in the 1976 Lower House election.

Hatoyama later went through a period of turbulence, leaving the Liberal Democratic Party in 1993 and helping form the DPJ in 1996, only to resign as a lawmaker three years later and run for Tokyo governor in 1999. When that failed, he ran on the LDP ticket and won a Lower House seat in 2000.

Although Hatoyama has served as both education and labor minister, the tasks he faces at the Justice Ministry require trickier decision-making, especially authorizing hangings. But he pledged to make advancements during his stint in office.

In an interview Friday, he said the death-row population, reduced to 103 after Hatoyama’s predecessor, Jinen Nagase, sent three to the gallows last month, is still “a large number.”

“One must be extra careful in approving death penalties because it is about ending human life,” Hatoyama said, but added that failure to authorize capital punishment runs against the nature of the legal system.

“Executions should be carried out aptly” under the Constitution, he said.

Regarding long-term policies for accepting overseas workers, Hatoyama said the government could add more job categories for which foreign nationals with skills and expertise can apply.

But he disagreed with some of Nagase’s proposals to open the market and accept manual laborers and unskilled workers.

“Considering Japan’s culture, I must question whether that is a good idea,” Hatoyama said. “This may not be the right thing to say, but that could provoke an increase in crimes by foreign nationals.”

Asked if he intends to reject Nagase’s proposal, Hatoyama simply stated, “I am the justice minister (now).”

A close friend to LDP Secretary General Taro Aso, Hatoyama promised not only to “become a good justice minister” but also support Abe and his Cabinet in the wake of the LDP-New Komeito ruling bloc’s loss of its majority in the July Upper House election.

“This Cabinet is facing a difficult time, but I believe it’s healthy for Cabinet members to feel pressure and tension,” he said. “I will make use of my connection with my brother if that is required anytime in the future.”

———————-
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2007
Other JT Cabinet Member profiles (August 2007 – )
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT: I don’t think the JT article has it quite right regarding former Justice Minister’s stance on guest workers. It’s not a complete “opening up of the market”–Nagase supported a program in which people would be sent back within three years, regardless of any experience they gained under Japan’s two-decade old “trainee etc” program. It’s not an open-door policy; it’s a revolving-door policy.

I agree with Hatoyama that we need to create a brain drain into Japan with encouragement of skilled labor. But he’s barking up the wrong tree (as is the JT article’s claim of a “growing perception” of rising foreign crime, which is unsubstantiated and debatable given last season’s quietly-announced drop in NJ crime) when it comes to claiming that bringing in foreigners will result in more illegals and proportionally more crime. The historical record suggests the opposite.

The onus must also be placed upon the employer to make sure they are passing skills and employing NJ laborers as they promised to. Up to now, the “researcher” and “trainee” visas have had widespread examples of just employing people (even in violation of even Japanese labor laws) to (famously) pound sheet metal and clean pig sties at ridiculously low wages. In other words, an “unskilled guest worker” program is already in place without calling it as such. Nagase just wanted to call it as such, and cap the contracts.

Sorry, neither plan will work properly and to Japan’s long-term benefit (demographically and fiscally) until you give people a stake in living here. And that is called immigration.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

GOJ Cabinet’s odd survey on human rights 2007

mytest

Hi Blog. Been a bit late getting to this, but thanks to Ken Y-N at the Seron Blog for getting the word out. Debito.org will select and amplify some points:

BACKGROUND: On August 25, 2007, the GOJ released its latest findings on a human-rights survey it conducts every four years. Entitled the “Jinken Yougo ni Kansuru Yoron Chousa” (Public Survey Regarding the Defense of Human Rights), it is put out by a Cabinet office called the Naikakufu Daijin Kanbou Seifu Koukoku Shitsu. Survey available online in its entirety in Japanese at http://www8.cao.go.jp/survey/h19/h19-jinken/.

Ken Y-N has already translated the whole thing into English with some interpretations at:
http://whatjapanthinks.com/2007/08/27/human-rights-in-japan-part-1-of-3/

As far as Debito.org goes, the survey had some good news:

As opposed to the survey’s results in 1999 and 2003 (which showed a steady decline in the number of people who thought that NJ deserved the same human rights as Japanese), the number rose this time by 5.3 points to 59.3% in favor.

Of course this begs the question of why the question is being asked at all (as if human rights for fellow humans with extranationality are a matter of popularity polls, something even the UN criticized Japan for nearly a decade ago (CCPR/C/79/Add.102 Item C(7)). But never mind. Back to the good news:

Full report on previous Cabinet Surveys on Debito.org at http://www.debito.org/jinkenreport0403.html, particularly:
=============================
“Overall, 54% said that foreigners should have the same protection of human rights as Japanese (nihon kokuseki wo motanai hito demo, nihonjin to onaji you ni jinken ha mamorubeki da). This is a steady decline from 68.3% 10 years ago, and 65.5% 5 years ago.

Reasons why can only be speculated upon, but contemporary newspaper articles quoted the Justice Ministry as saying that maybe the sudden rise in crime by foreigners may have affected the outcome of the poll.”
http://mdn.mainichi.co.jp/news/20030412p2a00m0dm016000c.html [dead link, sorry]
=============================

This time around, Kyodo interpreted some results thusly:
=============================
“A record 42% of people in Japan feel that human rights abuses have increased in the country, the Cabinet Office said in a survey report Saturday. In response to the 5.8 percentage point increase from the previous survey in 2003, the Justice Ministry’s Human Rights Bureau said, “It was likely affected by the spread of the Internet.”
http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/416167
=============================

So this time it’s the spread of a network for anonymizing libel and ijime, as opposed to NJ being let in and being portrayed erroneously as criminals by our government, which is thought to have affected the numbers. But never mind again. As a victim of Internet libel myself (who won his unrequited case against BBS 2-Channel in 2006, see http://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html), I can see the need for voices to be raised against these cowardly anonymous bullies who spoil the Internet for the rest of us.

But here are some further comments about the survey:

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

The goal of the survey, as expressed by the GOJ itself, (http://www8.cao.go.jp/survey/h19/h19-jinken/1.html), is “to survey the awareness of citizens (kokumin) regarding human rights protections, in order to apply them towards shaping future policy” (jinken yougo ni kansuru kokumin no ishiki o chousa shi, kongou no shisaku no sankou to suru).

Well, aren’t we thus already biasing the sample? If we only surveying “kokumin”, we aren’t surveying NJ, even though they too are taxpaying residents, and should have a say in public policies–especially those which will affect them profoundly as anti-discrimination measures.

Maybe that’s why so few people thought they had experienced “racial discrimination” in the survey. See Q3 SQ: 13.9% facing “discriminatory treatment (race, creed, gender etc.)”, behind “rumors and people speaking ill of me”, “invasion of privacy”, “defamation”, “public nuisances (noise, foul odors)”; nearly half of the 16% who responded that they had faced a violation of their human rights noted “rumors”.

Bet if the GOJ interviewed more people without citizenship or Asian features, who sometimes face apartment refusals or JAPANESE ONLY signs in storefronts, they might get quite different figures.

(I also bet most of the 14% noting “discriminatory treatment” were women facing discrimination by gender, too; not in any way to lessen the severity of that type of discrimination, but it’s hardly something you can lump all together as one category like that and get meaningful results. Good thing multiple answers were permitted.)

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

The survey itself asks some really odd questions too, come to think of it.

For example, we have “human rights” categorized in odd ways in Q3 SQ. In addition to the five examples of “human rights violations” mentioned above, we have “violence, duress, extortion”, “unjust police treatment”, “unfair treatment at work”, “falling out with the local community”, “sexual harassment”, “stalking”, “false accusations of crimes”, “unjust treatment at public welfare facilities”, “denial of domestic utilities at home” (such as water, gas), “other”, and “nantonaku” (nothing I can put my finger on, but it’s there).

Uh, even with these questions leading the witness, a number of these are not necessarily mutually exclusive categories (gender discrimination and sexual harassment, or rumors and defamation, for example), some are too vague (nantonaku, of course), and some are not exactly pin-downable as examples of “human rights” in themselves (falling out with the neighbors? stoppage of domestic utilities? public-welfare rudeness?)

If we’re going to break things down this much, then where is “bullying” (ijime)? Well, that’s the domain of kids, I guess, and this survey was only surveying people aged twenty and up. But I’m not sure where the shadow falls above.

Bigger issue is that many of these items are what I would call the “crybaby” variety. Items like “people speaking ill of me” and “rumors” are scientifically difficult to quantify (even could be argued as inevitable in human interaction, seen as “perceived slights by the paranoid”), and invite people (myself included) to tell them to develop a thicker skin.

And “public nuisances”? You might have people complaining that a stinky public toilet or a juicy fart in an elevator is a violation of human rights!

No wonder many people have trouble taking human-rights activists seriously, when the definitions is so ill-defined even in the official questions! In any case, many of these items would not fall under protection in the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination anyway, as the CERD does not cover interactions between individuals.

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

Some more comments:

Q5 asks “Within Japan, which of the following human rights issues are you concerned about?” (multiple answers OK). Discrimination against “foreigners” comes in 14th at 12.5%, behind “the disabled”, “the elderly”, “children”, “Internet abuse victims”, “DPRK kidnap victims”, “women”, “crime victims”, “HIV sufferers”, “Leprosy victims”, “homeless”, “Burakumin”, “ex-convicts”, and “human trafficking”–almost all worthy causes in themselves, of course. But since multiple answers are also possible, let’s see if we can raise the awareness of discrimination towards NJ better in time for the next survey.

The next questions ask for comment about “human rights problems” specifically directed at specific sectors of society: Women (choices of “human rights violations” include porno and scantily-clad women in advertising), children (including being too forceful with their opinions over their children’s school, work, etc), the elderly (including lack of respect for their opinions/actions), the disabled (including being stared at), the Burakumin, HIV patients, crime victims, the homeless, affectional preferences, and the Ainu. Nice of the GOJ to offer (even arguably overdo) several categories with examples of possible discrimination, thank you.

However, when it comes to discrimination against foreigners (Q12 and 13), we don’t get any list of leading questions. Only some doubt as to whether NJ are actually being discriminated against (Q12) and questions on whether NJ have any right to equal rights at all. No question like this is raised towards the other groups. Again, when even a GOJ survey allows for the possibility of human rights being optional based upon nationality, we have a problem. Especially when nowhere in the survey is the possibility raised that people who look foreign might actually be Japanese; discrimination by race is a subset within a larger umbrella, and discrimination by nationality is undeserving of its own special question like the other groups?

Finally, there is the question on how human rights should be promoted in Japan. It’s a decent wish list with most responses receiving a decent slice of multiple options. Again, the entire report is all very well written up by Ken Y-N, so have a look at:

http://whatjapanthinks.com/2007/08/27/human-rights-in-japan-part-1-of-3/

Still surprises me just how clueless even our government professionals are about the portrayal and promotion of human rights in Japan. This survey is most enlightening when viewed from that angle.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 8, 2007

mytest

Hello Blog. Arudou Debito in Sapporo here. It’s been a month since the last newsletter (I took a break in August; hope you did too), but here’s a roundup of what’s been going down:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 8, 2007

Contents:
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) DISCRIMINATION AT “HOLIDAY SPORTS CLUB” CHAIN, BY JIM DUNLOP
2) TPR ON US HR 151 ON COMFORT WOMEN, AND WHY IT’S NOT A BAD THING
3) THE IDUBOR CASE: INCARCERATION WITHOUT EVIDENCE, WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
4) MOFA ALLOWS CONVICTED DISRUPTER INTO HUMAN RIGHTS MEETING (UPDATED)
5) THREE JAPAN TIMES COLUMNS ONLINE
… along with RESPONSE TO DOREEN SIMMONS ON ASASHORYU SCANDAL
6) IJUUREN PUBLISHES NGO POLICY PROPOSALS ON MINORITIES IN JAPAN

and finally…
7) GREGORY CLARK DEFENDS PM MIYAZAWA’S CORRUPTION, AND MY RESPONSE
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, freely forwardable)

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

1) DISCRIMINATION AT “HOLIDAY SPORTS CLUB” CHAIN, BY JIM DUNLOP

Debito.org has been proud to offer a forum for those who bring up issues about life and social issues in Japan (I can’t be everywhere at once ), and am glad to turn over the keyboard to Jim Dunlop for this excerpt:================EXCERPT BEGINS========================
HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AT A WELL-KNOWN JAPANESE GYM CHAIN
“YOUNG, HEALTHY JAPANESE PEOPLE ONLY, PLEASE!”

By Jim Dunlop, August 30, 2007
drinkacupofcoffee AT gmail.com

Holiday Sports Club is a chain of gyms/exercise centers all across Japan.
http://www.holiday-sc.jp/
There are about 33 locations spanning Honshu and one in Hokkaido. (This also happens to be the club where my wife and I are currently members). Since we joined this gym, a number of issues have arisen that I think need to be made public and brought to the attention of anyone who may be considering supporting this business. Be aware, that if you are either a foreigner, or have any sort of physical disability, you may be discriminated against, or even prevented from joining. Here’s the scoop:
================EXCERPT ENDS==========================

Full report at
http://www.debito.org/?p=550

I thank Jim for writing his report well and concisely (I could simply blog it without edits), and welcome other writers in future. Other contributions to Debito.org from Sakanaka Hidenori, Chong Hyang Gyun, and Eric Johnston on pertinent issues at
http://www.debito.org/publications.html#otherauthors

Speaking of good writing:

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

2) TPR ON US HR 151 ON COMFORT WOMEN, AND WHY IT’S NOT A BAD THING

Trans Pacific Radio keeps on pumping out good critique and even better essays. One I found most informative was on the US House of Representatives Resolution on the Comfort Women (passed July 30).

================EXCERPT BEGINS========================
…The negative view, that the US is meddling in the affairs of a sovereign Japan, is even more porous than the positive view.

For starters, as I mentioned above, the US House, through this Resolution, is not advocating, much less taking any action against Japan. There is nothing in H.R. 121 that suggests that even the House thinks Japan should take it seriously. Constituents of a member of the US House of Representatives, Mike Honda of California, made a complaint and Representative Honda took that complaint to the appropriate Congressional committee, in this case the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Representative Tom Lantos, also of California. The propriety of the Committee’s actions in this case should not be in doubt. Since when have governments or governmental agencies been concerned only with their own actions or incidents that occur on their own soil? Should the House Committee on Foreign Affairs be taken to task for condemning what is now going on in Darfur? Few outside of the Sudanese government would say so.

But when it comes to now peaceful Japan, such actions, even in the form of flaccid nudges, become “meddling.”

There is no meddling. No agent of any part of the US government is trying to change any internal policy in Japan. The closest thing to this would be the resolution that states that Japan “should educate current and future generations about this horrible crime while following the recommendations of the international community with respect to the ‘comfort women’.” This, though, is not telling Japan how to educate its children or plan its school curricula.

Meddling requires at least some hint of action.

The first two times H.R. 121 was set to face a vote in the Foreign Affairs Committee, it was taken off the agenda due to pressure from the six-figure-a-month Japan lobby in Washington. Pressure was put on members of Congress and diplomatic strings were pulled to silence the issue.

Members of the Government of Japan took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post demanding that the Resolution not be passed and Ryozo Kato, Japan’s Ambassador to the United States, threatened strained or damaged relations should the Resolution pass.

That, dear readers, is meddling….
================EXCERPT ENDS==========================

This is what the blogosphere can do best–present an alternative viewpoint from a dedicated researcher, and amplify it with good writing (unscathed from the again “nicely, nicely” tendencies of corporate journalism beholden to advertisers).

Have a read (or better yet, a listen; Garrett is a good reader) at
http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/08/02/the-comfort-women-resolution-hr-121-passed-why-thats-not-bad/

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

3) THE IDUBOR CASE: INCARCERATION WITHOUT EVIDENCE, WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

On January 22, 2007, more than seven months ago, Osayuwamen IDUBOR, a Nigerian national and owner of a bar in Yokohama was arrested and formally charged on February 9, 2007, of raping a Japanese woman in the early morning hours of November 1, 2006. He is currently in the Yokohama Detention Center (kouchi shisho) where he remains to this day. His lawyer, a Mr Tsurusaki of Yokohama, petitioned for his release on May 21, 2007, but was refused by the court. Report from his lawyer at
http://www.debito.org/?p=537

Mrs. Idubor’s (a Polish national) has told me in several phone conversations that her husband’s health is deteriorating. She has seen in prison visits that he has a rash all over his scalp, his hair is falling out, and there is blood coming from his ear. She says that police have denied him access to a hospital and sufficient medical treatment (similar to the Valentine Case, http://www.debito.org/valentinelawsuit.html).

UPDATE: On September 3, there was another court hearing (proceedings at http://www.debito.org/?p=547). It was unsuccessful. The court interpreter (which the court appoints) was incompetent, and the judge didn’t understand Mrs. Idubor’s testimony. So they have to repeat the hearing and Osayuwamen has to languish in jail another month.

That hearing will take place on October 11, 2PM, Yokohama District Court. Open to the public. Attend if you like.

Then there will be one more hearing after that, apparently. Which means Osayuwamen will be lucky to be sprung from the clink by the end of 2007.

Why can’t he be sprung now? We have witnesses saying he didn’t do it. We have no material evidence saying he did. Why the presumption of guilt to this degree? My steadily intruding suspicion is that he’s being treated as more of a flight risk because he’s a foreigner (i.e. he might flee the country), although my sources indicate that nobody has the right to a speedy trial in this country anyway.

Meanwhile, Osayuwamen rots in jail (quite literally) for another few months–and the court can’t get its act together enough to even get a competent interpreter? How unprofessional. And cruel and unusual punishment.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

1) The Idubors are having trouble making ends meet, given that they are paying for a lawyer and Mrs. Idubor is running the bar in his place. So you can:

a) Contribute to their legal funds through their bank account:
===================
Osayuwamen Idubor
Mizuho Bank LTD. , Tokyo
Machida branch
A/C NO.: 116-2788496

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

b) Stop by their bar and buy a drink. It’s in Yokohama, and a friend of mine stopped by a few days ago (on a completely coincidental recommendation from a different bar) and said it’s very nice:

===================
Big Ys Cafe
Yokohama-shi Naka-ku
Yamashita-cho 106-3
Laport Motomachi 104
Tel. 045-662-2261

===================
Its open from 18:00 till morning. Map there:
http://www.debito.org/bigycafemap.xls
http://www.debito.org/bigycafemap.htm

c) Join Mrs Idubor when she visits her husband every weekday in prison. She might be able to take two visitors with her each day. Contact me at debito@debito.org (please entitle your email “Idubor visit request”) and I’ll forward your email to her.

In any case, thanks for reading. Your attention and assistance is very helpful to the Idubors at a time like this.

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

4) MOFA ALLOWS CONVICTED DISRUPTER INTO HUMAN RIGHTS MEETING (UPDATED)

On August 31, 2007, a public meeting (iken koukan kai, reference site at http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/press/event/jinshu.html) on the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Tokyo, was disrupted and sabotaged by right-wing troublemakers. Shouting epithets and arguments designed to wind up the human-rights NGOs, the unidentified right-wingers managed to bring the meeting to a standstill, while the six ministries attending the meeting showed a complete inability to keep the meeting under control.

Proceedings ended a half hour early without hearing the opinions of all the attendees, and my opinion is mixed on whether or not the impasse could have been avoided by not taking the bait. In any case, it is a sign to this author that the ultraconservative elements within Japan are not only taking notice of the gain in traction for human rights in Japan, they are doing their best to throw sand in the deliberation process. We will have to develop a thicker skin towards these elements in future, as this is probably only the beginning.

Fuller report at
http://www.debito.org/?p=544

Comparative report on what happened last MOFA Hearing (July 28, 2006) on this subject at
http://www.debito.org/?p=543.

UPDATE:

I received a call on September 3 from someone else who attended the meeting, about one of the attendees:

A Mr Nishimura Shuuhei, who sat in the back of the room that day, has a history of being taken to court for his behavior of disrupting public meetings on the Comfort Women issue. According to my source, he was sentenced for “illegal obstruction of official duties” (iryou gyoumu bougai–a charge I don’t completely understand myself) on October 4, 2001, at the Yokohama District Court, to 1 year and 6 months of prison, suspended for five years.

Despite his criminal record of disrupting public meetings and acting as agent provocateur, the MOFA allowed Nishimura to attend this meeting, and help disrupt it.

This issue was taken before the Bureau of Human Rights this morning, but my source indicates that they do not intend to do much about it (agreed, see my experience with the BOHR at http://www.debito.org/policeapology.html –they even have a history of advising the Otaru City Government in the Otaru Onsens Case that “there will be no penalty” if they neglect to pass any laws against racial discrimination: http://www.debito.org/jinkenyougobu112999.jpg)

The GOJ shows little willpower indeed to deal with issues of hate speech, or even show resolve to keep their meetings calm and debate reasoned. Then again, this may be an excuse for the GOJ to say they’ll hold no more meetings, since there’s a chance they’ll only end in organized chaos. More thoughts on that at
http://www.debito.org/?p=544

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

5) THREE JAPAN TIMES COLUMNS ONLINE
… along with RESPONSE TO DOREEN SIMMONS ON ASASHORYU SCANDAL

Despite the holiday, I am pleased to say that the Japan Times Community Page published three of my columns (that’s 39 so far over five years; time to ask for a raise ), on the Valentine Case, the National NJ Blame Game, and the Asashoryu Scandal and Sumo’s Excesses.I’ve already sent versions of these out to many of my lists, but they are all blogged (as “Director’s Cuts”) at
http://www.debito.org/publications.html#JOURNALISTIC

Grand Dame of Sumo Doreen Simmons kindly commented on co-authored COUNTERPOINT essay (with James Eriksson, http://www.debito.org/?p=542) to correct a point of fact. She also wrote an article in the Kansai Time Out (September 2007) on the Asa controversy. Courtesy of Steve, in PDF format, downloadable for those nowhere near a KTO-selling outlet from Debito.org here:
http://www.debito.org/asasimmonskto.pdf

First have a look at it. Then here’s what I think about it:

================COMMENT FROM DEBITO BEGINS================
I don’t claim to know anywhere even near what Doreen knows, but my reaction is one of general disappointment with her essay. It’s not all that well written (it goes kerplunk at the end, with no conclusion), indicating to me that like movie director Kurosawa Akira, she’s gotten too senior in society to take an edit.

James thought there was no new ground covered, just rehash plus history. I would agree–there’s nothing covered in depth, such as examining the possible motives re WHY Asa is being carpeted this much now. The media has jumped on Asa in the past, but this time all things seem to be in confluence–so well that one could make an argument that the JSA is trying to force Asa out by making things too uncomfortable for him to stay. He could thus quit without tarnishing Sumo’s Mongolian connection. Bit of a stretch, yes. But let’s allude to it even if only to eliminate it.

Even though historically, as Doreen noted in her article, Asa is getting plenty more rope compared to other defrocked wrestlers, James and I see the JSA even going so far as fanning the flames around Asa themselves, in order to take the heat off their own excesses. It’s not as if Asa has all the same tools at his disposal (such as they are in the Sumo world) as a regular J rikishi to defend himself. He’s not even a native speaker.

In sum, Doreen is not at all questioning the very fabric of Sumo, which helps create these uncontrollable sumo “frankensteins” that the JSA have to reel in from time to time. My feeling after reading is that Doreen was just informing us how much she knows about the sport, and indirectly chiding anyone for commenting on Sumo at all without her level of knowledge (which she’ll impart at her convenience, thank you very much).

That was certainly the feeling I got when I asked Doreen for comment before I submitted the above essay to the Japan Times. Her response (excerpt):

========DOREEN’S RESPONSE=====================
“There is so much to take issue with, and it would take a couple of hours at least. Although I was extremely busy before, I found time to point out just one glaring error, in the Onaruto story–but why should I clean up somebody else’s article free of charge? If invited, I will be happy to write a rebuttal–for a fee.”
========DOREEN’S RESPONSE ENDS=================

Sorry to have bothered her. Also glad she was paid for her opinions (such as they are) by the KTO, not me.

================COMMENT ENDS==========================
http://www.debito.org/?p=551

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

6) IJUUREN PUBLISHES NGO POLICY PROPOSALS ON MINORITIES IN JAPAN

Solidarity with Migrants Japan (SMJ, Ijuuren) has just published a book you might be interested in ordering:

*********************
Living Together with Migrants and Ethnic Minorities in Japan
NGO Policy Proposals

*********************
Table of Contents
Preface
Terms

Part I: At the Crossroads of Migrants Policies
Chapter 1: Toward the Future of Harmonious Multiethnic and
Multicultural Coexistence
Chapter 2: Enactment of Legislation for Human Rights and Harmonious
Coexistence

Part II: Over Individual Issues
Chapter 3: Right to Work and Rights of Working People
Chapter 4: Rights of Migrant Women
Chapter 5: Human Rights for Families and Children
Chapter 6: Education of Children
Chapter 7: Healthcare and Social Security Services
Chapter 8: Local Autonomy and Foreign Residents
Chapter 9: Opening the Gates to Refugees
Chapter 10: Detention and Deportation
Chapter 11: The Right to Trial
Chapter 12: Eliminating Racism and Discrimination against Foreigners

Publisher: Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (Ijuuren, SMJ)
Date of publication: July 31, 2007, 1st English edition
Price: JPY 1500 (excluding mailing cost)
ISBN 4-87798-346-8 C0036

This book is translated from the Japanese version published in 2006.

More information on both books at
http://www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net/Japanese/Japanese.html

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

and finally…

7) GREGORY CLARK DEFENDS PM MIYAZAWA’S CORRUPTION, AND MY RESPONSE

Old friend Greg Clark has no shortage of opinions (doubtless he would say the same about me), and he makes the pretty plain in his bimonthly column in the Japan Times.

In his column last July, Greg wrote an epitaph-style Japan Times column/ode about his old friend, former Prime Minister Miyazawa Kiichi, who was facing mixed reviews in the J press at the time of his death for not dealing with the Bubble Economy properly.

Greg defends his old friend with aplomb. So much so that he excuseth too much, in my opinion–even Kiichi’s corruption. First his column, then my unpublished letter to the editor in response.

================EXCERPT BEGINS========================
NOT TO BLAME FOR ‘BUBBLE’–MIYAZAWA KNEW ECONOMICS
The Japan Times: Monday, July 16, 2007

By GREGORY CLARK
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20070716gc.html

Obituaries for former Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, who died recently at age 87, agreed that he was a statesman and a genuine internationalist. But some–those from Nikkei, Japan’s leading economic media group, especially–also criticized him as a Keynesian economist responsible for Japan’s economic troubles in recent years. It is time to set the record straight…

He was criticized for involvement in the so-called Recruit scandal. In fact, 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 that dominated new share issues at the time. The fact that many of its share recipients made profits was largely because almost-new shares issues were profitable in Japan’s go-go stock markets at the time.
================EXCERPT ENDS==========================

I sent a letter to the editor to the Japan Times, which after two months is probably not going to be printed. Here it is:

========LETTER TO THE EDITOR BEGINS===========
Greg Clark shows his true colors in his most recent editorial (“Miyazawa knew economics”, July 16). Not as some kind of economist, but as an embedded elite.

Whatever intellectual sleight of hand he wishes to employ (to pedestal one of the few prime ministers ever booted out by a “no confidence” vote) still doesn’t excuse the fact that Greg is using puffery to defend a friend. Even going so far as to justify Miyazawa’s corruption in the Recruit Scandal.

Thankfully, Greg acknowledges that Miyazawa and he were buddies, thanks to the latter’s connections to father Sir Colin Clark. But unmentioned is that Greg’s coming over here immediately landed him in Japan’s elite society. All foreigners should be so lucky.

For all Greg’s bully pulpiting about the excesses of Japan’s power brokers, for him to try to explain away this much about a man like Miyazawa proves the axiom that power corrupts.

========LETTER TO THE EDITOR ENDS============
http://www.debito.org/?p=554

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

That’s quite enough for today. Thanks to everyone for reading and supporting Debito.org!

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
Daily blog entries at http://www.debito.org/index.php
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 8, 2007 ENDS

Tangent: Greg Clark JT column defends Miyazawa’s corruption

mytest

Hi Blog. I sent a letter to the editor to the Japan Times, which after two months is probably not going to be printed. So I might as well put it up here, what the heck.

Last July, Gregory Clark wrote an epitaph-style Japan Times column/ode about his old friend, former Prime Minister Miyazawa Kiichi, who was facing mixed reviews in the J press at the time of his death for not dealing with the Bubble Economy properly. Greg defends his old friend with aplomb. So much so that he excuseth too much, in my opinion–even Kiichi’s corruption. First his column, then my unpublished letter to the editor in response.

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

NOT TO BLAME FOR ‘BUBBLE’
Miyazawa knew economics
The Japan Times: Monday, July 16, 2007
By GREGORY CLARK

Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20070716gc.html

Obituaries for former Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, who died recently at age 87, agreed that he was a statesman and a genuine internationalist. But some — those from Nikkei, Japan’s leading economic media group, especially — also criticized him as a Keynesian economist responsible for Japan’s economic troubles in recent years. It is time to set the record straight.

Miyazawa was finance minister in the crucial pre-“bubble” years of 1986-88. At the time the yen was appreciating wildly in the wake of the 1985 Plaza Accords (it was to more than double in value against the dollar). Endaka fukyo — recession induced by the high yen — was a favorite media topic. Meanwhile, Washington was pressuring Japan to boost its economy as a way of reducing its trade surplus.

The obvious answer was for Japan to boost domestic demand by expanding government spending — the Keynesian approach. In so doing it would not only reflate its weakened economy; it would also ease the pressure to export and curb the yen’s rise in the process — three birds with one stone. That is what the Keynesian, demand-oriented Miyazawa wanted to do. (As a young bureaucrat in the early 1940s, Miyazawa had studied the works of my father, economist Colin Clark, who had worked with Keynes at Cambridge).

But by this time the anti-Keynesians were beginning to dominate economic policymaking worldwide. Using public funds to boost economies was being criticized. The monetarist approach — the easing of the money supply and low interest rates — was favored. It was this monetarism, not Miyazawa Keynesianism, that triggered the excessive rise in asset prices of the late ’80s now known as the “bubble economy.” To make things worse, Miyazawa’s successors foolishly delayed the monetary tightening needed to kill the bubble. Japan has been living with the consequences ever since.

In 1991 Miyazawa was made prime minister. He realized better than most the snowballing, demand-crippling effects of bubble collapse. But his proposal of an emergency injection of several trillion yen to save the banking system was killed by the free market, anti-interventionist fundamentalists, especially Keidanren, Japan’s most influential business federation. When, a decade later, the government had to inject many trillions of yen to save the banks, Keidanren did not object.

Despite this setback, Miyazawa’s prime ministership saw a return to the fiscal demand-stimulating policies needed to revive the economy. By the mid-’90s the economy was well on the way to recovery. But the advent of the Hashimoto administration in 1996 saw the anti-Keynesians back in the saddle. The grinding recession that followed, then continued well into the years of the even more anti-Keynesian regime of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, was the direct result. The only uptick in the economy came during the brief Obuchi and Mori administrations in between, while Miyazawa was again finance minister.

Miyazawa’s misfortune was to be caught up in two mistaken attacks on the Keynesian demand-oriented principles that had guided Japan’s successful economic management for decades. One criticism said that they had caused the stop-start stagflation of the postwar Anglo-Saxon economies. That was true to a point, but that particular abuse of the Keynesian approach was due to the special problems with those economies — excessive consumption and inadequate supply. Japan’s problems were the exact opposite — excessive supply and inadequate demand. For much of the time, anything that boosted demand, including greater government spending, was welcome.

The second attack focused on the increase in Japan’s official debt as a result of past government spending. But that in turn was due to Japan’s excessively high level of personal savings forcing high levels of government spending to fill the demand gap. It could have and should have been solved by a more efficient tax system. Besides, sensible public spending to reflate a broken economy can actually reduce official debt by rapidly increasing tax revenues. Anti-Keynesian policies to reduce official debt by cutting government spending can actually increase the debt, as we saw only too painfully during the Koizumi years.

The 1997 Asian financial crisis saw Miyazawa’s economic wisdom frustrated once again. He proposed an Asian monetary fund backed by Japan to rescue the weaker Asian economies. The United States, ever sensitive to any threat to its Asian hegemony, insisted that the International Monetary Fund with its economic fundamentalist approach should do the job, which it did, to the benefit of many U.S. investors and few Asian economies.

Miyazawa’s achievements went beyond the economy. Like many of his generation, he was a firm admirer of postwar America for helping Japan recover and discover democracy. But he also wanted closer links with Asia, including China. While approving the use of Japanese troops abroad for peacekeeping purposes, he remained a firm pacifist to the end. He was a man of balance for his times.

He was criticized for involvement in the so-called Recruit scandal. In fact, 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 that dominated new share issues at the time. The fact that many of its share recipients made profits was largely because almost-new shares issues were profitable in Japan’s go-go stock markets at the time.(emphasis added)

Miyazawa was pushed out of the prime ministership in 1993 by an ever power-hungry Ichiro Ozawa wielding the so-called electoral reform issue. In fact, by opposing the single-seat constituency “reform,” Miyazawa was trying to preserve the valuable role of independents and the smaller political parties. The result of those so-called reforms is what we see today — the domination of Japanese politics by two Tweedledee-Tweedledum political parties and a semi-religious party able to mobilize supporters easily. Japan’s uncritical love affair with the word “reform” has continued ever since.

Gregory Clark is vice president of Akita International University. A translation of this article is at http://www.gregoryclark.net. E-mail: clarkinjapan@gmail.com.

The Japan Times: Monday, July 16, 2007

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

MY RESPONSE

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Greg Clark shows his true colors in his most recent editorial (“Miyazawa knew economics”, July 16). Not as some kind of economist, but as an embedded elite.

Whatever intellectual sleight of hand he wishes to employ (to pedestal one of the few prime ministers ever booted out by a “no confidence” vote) still doesn’t excuse the fact that Greg is using puffery to defend a friend. Even going so far as to justify Miyazawa’s corruption in the Recruit Scandal.

Thankfully, Greg acknowledges that Miyazawa and he were buddies, thanks to the latter’s connections to father Sir Colin Clark. But unmentioned is that Greg’s coming over here immediately landed him in Japan’s elite society. All foreigners should be so lucky.

For all Greg’s bully pulpiting about the excesses of Japan’s power brokers, for him to try to explain away this much about a man like Miyazawa proves the axiom that power corrupts.

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

Arudou Debito in Sapporo
ENDS

J Today/Shuukan Shinchou on Ikebukuro Police’s “Gaijin Hostess Hunt”

mytest

Hi Blog. A little something that has been lying latent in my files but hasn’t really found a home anywhere pointwise. Just a report from Mark Schreiber based on the Weeklies of how crackdowns on visas are leading to raids on bars. Quick comment follows article, of course.

/////////////////////////////////////////////
POLICE, IMMIGRATION LAUNCH JOINT “GAIJIN HOSTESS HUNT” IN KINSHICHOU, IKEBUKURO
Japan Today.com Kuchikomi Column, from Shuukan Shinchou Weekly Magazine
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

http://www.japantoday.com/jp/kuchikomi/475
Courtesy of the Author

Watering holes in the area around JR Kinshicho station in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward have long been known to employ hostesses from Russia, the Ukraine, Moldova and other countries of the former Soviet Union.

Last month, at one particular establishment, the music was pulsing to a lively beat and the drinks were flowing when several men in dark jumpsuits pushed their way inside and shouted, “Turn off the music! Everybody stay where they are. Show us your passports!”

Yes, reports Shukan Shincho (July 19), it was indeed a raid by the much-dreaded “immigration police.”

The foreign hostesses were herded into a corner of the bar, and those found to be working on tourist visas were herded out in groups of twos and threes. Inebriated customers, lurking outside the door, raised angry voices in protest.

During June, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and Immigration Bureau staged a series of joint crackdowns on these so-called “gaijin clubs” in Kinshicho and Ikebukuro, in search of visa violators.

”From June 15 to 18, the authorities mobilized 370 staff to conduct raids, including house searches,” an unnamed reporter at a city desk tells the magazine. “This was the largest raid they’ve conducted in quite some time. They went after Russian clubs and made 14 arrests, and remanded 35 more women to immigration on visa violation charges.”

Most of the clubs hit in the raid employed over 10 women, and several were forced to shut down, Shukan Shincho notes. However, this “gaijin hostess hunt,” as the magazine describes it, appears to have been aimed at a specific operator.

”The main targets were shops run by the ‘M’ group, which is widely established in Ikebukuro and Kinshicho,” the manager of a Russian club is quoted as saying. “It’s got a reputation for hiring eastern European women here on working holiday or tourist visas, but it was overdoing things, and attracted too much attention.”

Needless to say, the magazine notes, such work violations have become rampant in Japan’s “mizu shobai.” But this latest crackdown has left the operators of other gaijin clubs filled with trepidation that they might be the targets of the next crackdown.

July 18, 2007
//////////////////////////////////////////

QUICK COMMENT:

If things are going to go this far, let’s hope the press also reports on how their employers get it in the neck too.

Another related article regarding bar crackdowns on Debito.org:

http://www.debito.org/?p=13 (See item 3 on Hiroshima Bar “El Barco” on how police raids target by clientele and then sift bar occupants by race–even when there’s no particular fear of the “staff” “overstaying”.) Excerpt:

============================
“The directors have been arrested for making/having customers dance without a night entertainment permit. There is in fact only one establishment in Hiroshima that actually holds all the licenses technically required under the Night Entertainment Business Control Act. Obtaining such a permit however places limits on the hours that a business can stay open. El Barco is registered as a late night business (mayonaka eigyou), however, that does not permit dancing. It is not possible to obtain both permits, meaning that under current Japanese law it is legally impossible to run an establishment where you can drink and dance late into the night. It thus follows that this is matter of concern for all late night dance clubs across Japan. We also have reservations about the manner in which the arrests were carried out, with over 50 police officers, immigration officials and riot police raiding El Barco late Saturday night to arrest only two people for a permit violation…”
(continues at above website link)

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

Arudou Debito in Sapporo
ENDS

Human Rights Violations at a J Gym Chain: “Young, Healthy Japanese Only” By Jim Dunlop

mytest

Human Rights Violations at a Well-Known Japanese Gym Chain
“Young, Healthy Japanese people only, please!”

By Jim Dunlop
August 30, 2007
drinkacupofcoffee AT gmail.com

Writing this report made my think of a line from an old song, “Signs” by 5 Man Electrical Band:

And the sign said long haired freaky people need not apply,
So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why.
He said you look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you’ll do,
So I took off my hat I said imagine that, huh, me working for you…

Holiday Sports Club is a chain of gyms/exercise centers all across Japan. http://www.holiday-sc.jp/

There are about 33 locations spanning Honshu and one in Hokkaido… This also happens to be the club where my wife and I are currently members). Since we joined this gym, a number of issues have arisen that I think need to be made public and brought to the attention of anyone who may be considering supporting this business. Be aware, that if you are either a foreigner, or have any sort of physical disability, you may be discriminated against, or even prevented from joining. Here’s the scoop:

Race and Age Discrimination at Holiday Sports Club:

1. Racial discrimination. First and foremost, foreigners are routinely barred from joining the gym on the grounds that they “cannot read/write their name and address in Japanese.” This is always given as a requirement to prospective members. I suppose that the “standard” argument given here is that everyone must know some Japanese in case of an emergency, or perhaps in order to understand the rules and regulations and the club. That, however is a bit of a farce, and a HUGE contradiction, considering the club actually has an English rulebook that they give to new members to read through. But yet, the double standard arises when it comes to Japanese literacy. When the club first opened, my wife and I were the first foreign members and we were able to do this so we were given almost no problems in joining, however a friend of mine was told “no, he couldn’t join” because his Japanese was insufficient. When he brought in his Japanese wife, they were all apologetic and then, of course he could join without a hitch. Most recently, in past couple weeks three young women from Iowa who are here on a teacher exchange program were barred membership because their Japanese knowledge was deemed insufficient. Also worth noting (but nothing that can be done) is that a common secondary reason for disallowing people (foreigners and Japanese alike) is having a tattoo, even though many members have them (but cover them up with bandages when in the gym).

2. Discrimination against the elderly / people with limited mobility.

This was brought to my attention today by good friends of mine. They are a mixed couple (husband is Japanese and wife is American). They are both seniors and the American wife has lived in Japan for over 30 years. Her husband was born here and is a lifelong resident of the city. He still remembers the war and American bombing raids over the city during WWII when he was a child in elementary school. (But yet, he married an American when he got older. Interesting stuff! That just goes to show you how love can overcome even war, hatred and racism). As my friends are older, Takao (the Japanese husband) has troubles walking so he walks with a cane. He has been prohibited from entering Holiday Sports Club with his cane. The official reason given: the cane could be used as a weapon! Another elderly woman who needs a cane to walk (following an operation) has similarly been disallowed, and therefore been unable to join the gym for this reason. Furthermore, because Takao is forced to leave his cane in the car when he attends the gym, (thus leaning on his wife for support) both Takao and his wife have requested that several parking spaces near the entrance be marked as “handicapped” with those with limited mobility. This request has been effectively turned down.

The facility, incidentally also is NOT wheelchair accessible or open to those with impaired mobility. It should go without saying that it’s not only young, healthy people who go to gyms. Many people, regardless of age and physical ability attend for health reasons. First and foremost, gyms should be open and welcoming to such individuals, many of whom use gyms as part of physiotherapy or rehabilitation programs. This form of discrimination is both shocking and contemptible.

I question, whether it is even legal for them to prohibit someone from using a cane for SECURITY reasons! I asked my friends several times if there could have been some misunderstanding with what the gym staff told them… But they assured me, “Oh no. They were very clear as to the reason why canes are not allowed in.” Remember, we are talking about a Japanese man here, not a foreigner. There was no language barrier involved.

It really upsets me that our local gym (which is so close to my house) have chosen to be so difficult and unwelcoming to certain groups of people. The staff are often very friendly! In fact, my wife and I have gone out with some of them on a few occasions. But they are forced to enforce this company’s strange “rules” that really put many people off, now including myself.

Please give this report some consideration when you are shopping around for a gym to work out in. Please also let your friends know, whether they be Japanese or not, that Holiday Sports Club seems to only be interested in people who fall into a narrow view of what is acceptable. You must be young, Japanese, free from any body modifications, (which includes you ladies too, by the way. All jewelry, including earrings MUST be removed (without exception) prior to entering the pool area), and anyone who does not “fit in” will be denied entry or declined membership.

As the saying goes, “caveat emptor” — buyer beware.

Jim Dunlop
August 30, 2007
ENDS

PS: If someone wants to call my local gym and check the information out for themselves, please contact me directly (drinkacupofcoffee AT gmail.com) and I can pass along the details (like a local phone number). If they wish to contact the company (in general) then all they need to do is go to the website link I provided above in the article. JD

Japan Times on Asashoryu and the National NJ Blame Game (UPDATED)

mytest

Hi Blog. I’ve just webbed two recent Japan Times Community Page articles, summarized as follows:

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
The scapegoating of Asashoryu
Champion’s antics are least of sumo’s worries

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2007
THE ZEIT GIST
By JAMES ERIKSSON and ARUDOU DEBITO
Special to The Japan Times, Column 39 for the Japan Times Community Page
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070904zg.html
Based upon an Internet essay at http://www.debito.org/?p=542

EXCERPT:
============================
…Some might say Asa has long had it coming. He’s known as the bad boy of sumo, reputedly showing violent tendencies toward junior wrestlers and, according to the weeklies and wide shows, even his wife.

Therefore his record, in a sport where winning is everything, was the only thing keeping the hounds at bay.

But it’s not as if he stopped winning. What’s changed is that as of May we finally have another yokozuna, Hakuho. It seems Asashoryu is now expendable.

The point is, the whole soccer-sumo scandal is a smoke-screen. Sumo is in a panic and needs a scapegoat…
============================
Whole article at http://www.debito.org/japantimes090407.html

SEE UPDATE ON THIS ISSUE AT BOTTOM

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

The blame game
Convenience, creativity seen in efforts
to scapegoat Japan’s foreign community

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007
THE ZEIT GIST
By ARUDOU DEBITO
Special to The Japan Times, Column 38 for the Japan Times Community Page
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20070828zg.html

“Director’s Cut”, with information included that did not appear in print or online at the Japan Times, available at http://www.debito.org/japantimes082807.html

EXCERPT:
============================
We live in interesting times, where Japan’s economy and society have been at a crossroads–for nearly two decades.

With the shortage and high cost of domestic labor, the Japanese government has imported record numbers of cheap foreign workers. Even though whole industrial sectors now depend on foreign labor, few publicly accept the symbiosis as permanent. Instead, foreigners are being blamed for Japan’s problems.

Scapegoating the alien happens worldwide, but Japan’s version is particularly amusing. It’s not just the garden-variety focus on crime anymore: Non-Japanese are being blamed for problems in miltary security, sports, education — even shipping. Less amusing is how authorities are tackling these “problems” — by thwarting any chances of assimilation…
============================
Rest of the article at http://www.debito.org/japantimes082807.html

Enjoy. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

UPDATE: Doreen Simmons, Grand Dame of Sumo, comments in the Kansai Time Out (September 2007) on the Asa controversy. Courtesy of Steve. In PDF format, download from Debito.org here:

http://www.debito.org/asasimmonskto.pdf

COMMENT: I don’t claim to know anywhere even near what Doreen knows, but my reaction is one of general disappointment with her essay. It’s not all that well written (it goes kerplunk at the end, with no conclusion), indicating to me that like movie director Kurosawa Akira, she’s gotten too senior in society to take an edit.

James thought there was no new ground covered, just rehash plus history. I would agree–there’s nothing covered in depth, such as examining the possible motives re WHY Asa is being carpeted this much now. The media has jumped on Asa in the past, but this time all things seem to be in confluence–so well that one could make an argument that the JSA is trying to force Asa out by making things too uncomfortable for him to stay. He could thus quit without tarnishing Sumo’s Mongolian connection. Bit of a stretch, yes. But let’s allude to it even if only to eliminate it.

Even though historically, as Doreen noted in her article, Asa is getting plenty more rope compared to other defrocked wrestlers, James and I see the JSA even going so far as fanning the flames around Asa themselves, in order to take the heat off their own excesses. It’s not as if Asa has all the same tools at his disposal (such as they are in the Sumo world) as a regular J rikishi to defend himself. He’s not even a native speaker.

In sum, Doreen is not at all questioning the very fabric of Sumo, which helps create these uncontrollable sumo “frankensteins” that the JSA have to reel in from time to time. My feeling after reading is that Doreen was just informing us how much she knows about the sport, and indirectly chiding anyone for commenting on Sumo at all without her level of knowledge (which she’ll impart at her convenience, thank you very much).

That was certainly the feeling I got when I asked Doreen for comment before I submitted the above essay to the Japan Times (she had very kindly corrected a point raised in the COUNTERPOINT essay we wrote last week, thanks).

Her response (excerpt):
=============================
“There is so much to take issue with, and it would take a couple of hours at least. Although I was extremely busy before, I found time to point out just one glaring error, in the Onaruto story — but why should I clean up somebody else’s article free of charge? If invited, I will be happy to write a rebuttal — for a fee.”
=============================

Sorry to have bothered her. Also glad she was paid for her opinions (such as they are) by the KTO, not me. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Transcript of disrupted MOFA Aug 31 07 hearing blogged

mytest

Hello Blogosphere. Arudou Debito here.

TRANSCRIPT OF MOFA MEETING PROCEEDINGS BLOGGED
AND FURTHER EVIDENCE THE GOJ HAS NO INTEREST IN LIMITING HATE SPEECH
BY ALLOWING A CONVICTED AGENT PROVOCATEUR INTO THE MEETING

Regarding a post I put out recently
http://www.debito.org/?p=544
on the August 31 Ministry of Foreign Affairs meeting, regarding Japan’s next report to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (http://www.debito.org/cerd.html), I have some new information.

I have received a transcript of the meeting, which was disrupted by Right-Wingers, and blogged it in Japanese at
http://www.debito.org/?p=545

I received a call moments ago from someone else who attended the meeting, about one of the participants:

A Mr Nishimura Shuuhei, who sat in the back of the room that day, was taken to court for his behavior of disrupting public meetings on the Comfort Women issue. According to my source, he was sentenced for “illegal obstruction of official duties” (iryou gyoumu bougai–a charge I don’t completely understand myself) on October 4, 2001, at the Yokohama District Court, to 1 year and 6 months of prison, suspended for five years.

Despite his criminal record of disrupting public meetings and acting as agent provocateur, the MOFA allowed Nishimura to attend this meeting, and help disrupt it.

This issue was taken before the Bureau of Human Rights this morning, but my source indicates that they do not intend to do much about it (agreed, see my experience with the BOHR at http://www.debito.org/policeapology.html –they even have a history of advising the Otaru City Government in the Otaru Onsens Case that “there will be no penalty” if they neglect to pass any laws against racial discrimination: http://www.debito.org/jinkenyougobu112999.jpg)

The GOJ shows little willpower indeed to deal with issues of hate speech, or even show resolve to keep their meetings calm and debate reasoned.

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

On a different note, please read the Japan Times Community Page tomorrow (Wednesday in the provinces). Another article coming out, this time as co-author. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

ENDS

外務省:人種差別撤廃条約政府報告に関する意見交換会07年8月31日:議会記録(抜粋)

mytest

Sorry, I had to remove the MOFA Aug 31 Meeting transcript for the time being at the author’s request. I’m afraid there won’t be an authorized version later either, because the writer meant for it to be a reference document for my use only. If you want to know more, contact me at debito@debito.org. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

REPORT: Right-wingers disrupt Aug 31, 2007 MOFA meeting on CERD

mytest

REPORT
RUMBLE AT THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
A hearing on human rights in Japan is disrupted by right-wingers
An eyewitness report from the front lines

By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
September 1, 2007, freely forwardable

SUMMARY: On August 31, 2007, a public meeting (iken koukan kai, reference site at http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/press/event/jinshu.html
[link is now dead, download webarchive file of site at http://www.debito.org/MOFAaug31meetinginfosite.webarchive]) on the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Tokyo, was disrupted and sabotaged by right-wing troublemakers. Shouting epithets and arguments designed to wind up the human-rights NGOs, the unidentified right-wingers managed to bring the meeting to a standstill, while the six ministries attending the meeting showed a complete inability to keep the meeting under control. Proceedings ended a half hour early without hearing the opinions of all the attendees, and my opinion is mixed on whether or not the impasse could have been avoided by not taking the bait. In any case, it is a sign to this author that the ultraconservative elements within Japan are not only taking notice of the gain in traction for human rights in Japan, they are doing their best to throw sand in the deliberation process. We will have to develop a thicker skin towards these elements in future, as this is probably only the beginning.

This post is structured thusly:

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1) THE WARMUP
2) THE MEETING
3) THE DISRUPTION
4) THE AFTERMATH
5) CONCLUSIONS

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1) THE WARMUP

The CERD is the UN Convention against all forms of Racial Discrimination–which Japan signed in 1995 and still defies by not passing any laws against racial discrimination. The GOJ has to fill out a report every two years on what they are doing vis-a-vis racial discrimination, and is dreadfully late (filing its first report due 1998 in 2001, and none sense then). This hearing was for the government to get feedback from the NGOs regarding the GOJ’s stance taken so far (such as it is) before filing the next report (whenever that may be). That meeting took place at 3PM at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo.

Fifteen human-rights NGOs and legal groups (such as the JCLU, http://www.jclu.org), plus four individuals (your correspondent included), attended a pre-MOFA coordinating meeting, chaired by the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR http://www.imadr.org), to stress the following (excerpt):

1) The NGO-GOJ interface left a lot to be desired organizationally. The previous meetings (February and July 2006) with the MOFA (first labeled a “hearing” (hiaringu), later adjusted to an “exchange of views” (iken koukan kai) at our request) essentially heard our views, but offered no feedback from the relevant ministries that attended the meeting. Essentially junior bureaucrats would sit, listen, and act like the Sphinx as whether our opinions or questions mattered. We had never heard any feedback from them regarding questions and issues we raised in previous meetings (in fact, the information we would be offering feedback on that day had only arrived from the MOFA yesterday). We would lobby for that to be remedied.

2) The MOFA’s convening this meeting in August (with the announcement merely posted on the MOFA website at the beginning of the month, without notification of previous attendees) was a surefire way to decrease attendance due to the summer and short notice: We had 30 NGOs attending last time, this time half that (see my report on the July 28, 2006 meeting and proceedings at http://www.debito.org/?p=543). It seemed more a way for the bureaucrats to say, “Hey, we listened to the public, now we can do as we see fit”. We would lobby for more meetings where we had something to respond to–a rolling series of written and oral Q&A over months, if necessary. After all, what Japan puts out before the world could be potentially embarrassing if half-baked. We would offer as much feedback as possible so their reports would better reflect the world beyond Kasumigaseki.

3) We also anticipated there would be some resistance from attendees, since this was an open public meeting, meaning people who did not wish either us or this proceeding well might attend just to use time and disrupt things. We would lobby for people to keep to their time allotments and not offer sentiments that were entirely antithetical to the issue at hand–alleviating and eliminating discrimination.

However, we never anticipated just how antithetical things would get.

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2) THE MEETING

started on time at 3PM on the tenth floor of the MOFA building. The MOFA chaired the meeting because racial discrimination falls under their directive (discrimination against women, for example, falls under other another ministry–Health, Labor and Welfare–if it is a matter of Domestic Violence or labor. This makes it difficult to combine all forms of potential discrimination under a single movement in Japan, and why we believe it necessary to create a special government apparatus to deal with it (a move, as you shall see below, is seen as contentious).

Attending were one member of the National Personnel Agency (Jinjin), four from Education, three from Foreign Affairs, five from Justice, one from HL&W, and two from the National Police Agency. No nametags or attendance sheets were made public to us (although the bureaucrats knew who we all were), and all bureaucrats were, same as last July, junior members in their twenties and thirties who could speak authoritatively on nothing. Chairing the meeting was a forty-something Mr Kimura, the head of the MOFA’s Human Rights Section (Gaimushou Sougou Gaikou Seisakukyoku Jinken Jindou Ka, Jinshu Sabetsu Teppai Jouyaku Iken Koukankai Tantou), who clearly looked nervous about how things were going to proceed. Forty people were in attendance (down from 60 last time), and a great number were refraining from making eye contact with each other.

Trouble started immediately. The first person to raise his hand was an older man in his sixties who talked about discrimination of a different kind–how the Zainichis were being granted special privileges just because they had been born here and lived in Japan for several generations. They should abolish their “Special Permanent Residency” (tokubetsu eijuuken) status. Make them all regular Permanent Residents like any other, since they originally came here to to take advantage of Japan’s economics only. Snickers from some, loud applause from others, and Kimura cautioned the meeting to refrain from applause.

Our turn next. Our next few points were about the format of this meeting, as mentioned above. We also asked for the chair to please put a lid on discriminatory statements.

When it was my turn (I was sixth), I raised the point that the most recent survey conducted by the Diet Cabinet vis-a-vis awareness of domestic discrimination (details released in August, excellent translation and report at http://whatjapanthinks.com/2007/08/27/human-rights-in-japan-part-1-of-3/) only surveyed citizens (kokumin), not residents (juumin). So no wonder there were fewer responses regarding racial discrimination. Similar with the National Census (kokusei chousa), which does not survey by ethnicity (minzokusei). I for one have no way to indicate that I am a Japanese citizen with American roots. Same with the probably hundreds of thousands of Japanese children of international marriages in Japan. We just don’t know. Without adequate data on just how international Japan actually is, the GOJ will of course be at a loss on to make appropriate policy regarding discrimination and protection of human rights.

In one of the few answers we got from the bureaucrats today, Kimura noted that although the governing Ministry of Internal Affairs (Soumushou) was absent, but in absentia: the Census not measuring for ethnicity is a matter of privacy–we wouldn’t want to make people uncomfortable with overintrusive questions. This is the standard but bogus excuse–plenty of questions already made people uncomfortable last Census (2005, see http://www.debito.org/meijigakuin071705.html), and there is also the option not to answer at all; the GOJ just doesn’t want any information which would definitively confound the notion that Japan is a monoethnic society).

But for the rest of the day, we would get jeers from the bully boys in the back whenever we spoke, and have to tolerate epithets whenever they spoke:

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3) THE DISRUPTION

It turns out about 10 of the 40 people there either knew each other, or later banded together after the meeting for congratulatory back-slaps for a meeting well disrupted. Some of the points their camp raised were:

1) Discrimination, if it really does occur, is between individuals, and thus does not fall under the CERD. Likewise DV (an issue raised by a Filipina attendee from our group, who also talked about unequal care given culture in international marriage; she was heckled for not speaking Japanese) is something between a married couple, and rights for children should not be extended. We told Chairman Kimura to bring the focus back onto the CERD, but he did not clear the hall of people who would even deny the primacy of the UN in a hearing about the UN.

2) Koreans work against Japan and have odd ideologies–just imagine what trouble they would make if you gave them a post in the proposed human-rights Ombudsman proposed under the Jinken Yougo Houan? They compared any attempt to control or punishment of discrimination to Stalinism and thought police. (More of this genre of arguments available in Japanese and English at http://www.debito.org/abunaijinkenyougohouan.html). We asked Kimura to stop this discriminatory language towards Koreans, but even with some warnings he allowed the speech to continue.

3) The United Nations is not a body we should be listening to–we Japanese with our own unique culture and family structure–why should we be letting treaties and other countries with their unfitting standards be foisted upon our country, with its racial purity? Discrimination, if you can call it that, is justified when these foreigners shouldn’t be in our country anyway.

When one of the attendees then referred to a daughter of the Comfort Women (who successfully sued someone who attacked her at a speech for damages and a restraining order–I’m not all that familiar with the case) as a “bastard child” (shiseiji), we demanded the chairing representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs do something about this clear tangent, moreover violation of individual dignity and expressed epithet. It was his ministry’s mandate. He remained silent. Our side (particularly from the Zainichis in the room) then said that unless there was a retraction and an apology, this meeting should not continue. Their side said they would offer no such thing, and continued in this vein.

It almost came to blows. Even then, no security was called, and the people who would not be silent were not cleared from the room. Kimura then declared the meeting unable to continue and called it to a close at 4:30 PM.

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4) THE AFTERMATH

I was about to leave when one of the older men (almost all the people in this camp were older men, probably retired with time and money on their hands; we call them “grassroots right-wingers” (kusa no ne uyoku) actually came up to me with a smile and a friendly tone of voice. He began reading off some points he had written down and wanted me to hear (he clearly needed no feedback–so I listened):

White people in Japan have it good here because of Japan’s inferiority complex towards them. So discrimination cannot happen towards them. It only happens towards the lesser peoples of the world, and they’re only here taking advantage of the Japan we Japanese built up. They shouldn’t be here asking for anything. In any case, I as a superior Caucasian should have nothing to complain about. Those “Japanese Only” signs I referred to earlier during my spiel were merely efforts made by Japanese who have a complex towards foreigners and their foreign languages This was merely a shorthand for smoother business for them. Etc. etc.

I asked if he considered me a Japanese. He said yes, my Japanese was excellent, and I have citizenship. Good, thank you. So I mentioned the Otaru Onsens Case, and explained that despite my language level and citizenship, I had been refused entry just because I am White. He had never heard of it. I recommended my book. He repeated that he had never heard of it.

That’s the shortcoming of these types of people: Anything that has never entered their existence or view simply doesn’t exist. I let it go since there was no way to reach him. He shook my hand and gave me his card. Watanabe Tadashi, Vice President of the “Japan Family Value Society” (the J translation on the obverse is markedly different: He’s a member of the Hino City Assembly near Tokyo, Kikaku Soumu Iinchou, from the LDP. Opposes local ordinances guaranteeing the rights of the child, supports textbooks with the “proper” historical bent, and is vice-chair of the “kazoku no kizuna o mamoru kai), website http://www.watanabetadashi.net). Nice enough guy, but he should get out more.

I was the last one in the room, except for Chair Kimura and one of his staffers. I mentioned that proper procedure would have been to clear the room of those who wouldn’t obey the rules for a calm, peaceful gathering. He indicated that he thought it unthinkable to call security, soukaiya disruptions or not. I let it go again. No wonder people can’t deal effectively with bullies in this society.

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5) CONCLUSIONS

Our postmortem was an exercise in making the best of things. The person who demanded the apology said she was sorry for disrupting the meeting, but we would have none of it. There was no need to continue, the room held, because even the ministries were not doing their job of stopping epithets and hate speech–even when attendees deny the very need to follow UN treaty and the very need to hold this meeting. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to express hatred and disrupt calm and reasoned debate. If the conveners of the meeting cannot keep order, it’s no longer a viable meeting.

I am of two minds about what happened. The opinions above notwithstanding, I have the feeling we were played like a fiddle. Those people knew what would wind us up, and kept on poking us until we poked back. Yes, a proper chairman would have cleared the meeting of those people. But barring that, if I was everyone in our camp, I would have ignored the heckling, made my points calmly, stomached the epithets (only calling for time limits on speeches to be obeyed), and shown via the force of argument that our side was the stronger.

Then again, it’s entirely possible that this is what the MOFA wanted. These meetings are a nuisance for them. Now they can say there’s no need to have them again since they will only degenerate into shouting matches and potential fistfights. In the bad old days, in order for there to have been a hearing of this sort (and this was before the GOJ even bothered to listen to NGOs), there would have to be a Dietmember present. No Dietmember, no meeting. Now after liberalization, this event can now be used as an excuse for the bureaucrats to argue for a return to those ways. Whether that will happen is unclear, but in any case, the bully boys managed to sluice things off.

What’s next? Dunno. But it’s clear that we are getting closer to winning the debate–enough so that the Rightists feel threatened and need to appear and shout us down. If we don’t develop a thicker skin, and the coordinators of the meeting don’t take a more aggressive stand at keeping meetings calm and reasonable, there’s only going to be more of this in future.

Arudou Debito
Tokyo, Japan
September 1, 2007
MOFA JULY 31, 2007 CERD MEETING REPORT ENDS

Archives: Report Aug 1, 2006 on Diene, MOFA mtg, and Kouno Taro

mytest

Hi Blog. Somehow this never got archived last year, but it’s an important report. And since I’ve got a follow-up article to blog here after this, let me add this to the blog out of turn and refer to it in my current report. Arudou Debito in Tokyo.

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

From: Arudou Debito
Subject: [debito.org] Taro Kono and MOFA Tokyo mtgs update, Aug 1, 2006

Hello All. Arudou Debito here emailing you from near Todai in Tokyo. Two more mailings to send you before summer break. The first is an update on some things that happened during my current Tokyo trip. As follows:

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1) DIETMEMBER KOUNO TARO PRESS CONFERENCE JULY 31
2) FOREIGN MINISTRY FORUM ON UN CERD AND DIENE REPORT JULY 28

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Preliminary report dated August 1, 2006. Freely forwardable.

DIETMEMBER KOUNO TARO PRESS CONFERENCE
AT THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS’ CLUB, YURAKUCHO, TOKYO

Monday, July 31, 2006, 12PM-1:30PM

Attending as a guest of a FCCJ member, I listened to Lower House Dietmember, Senior Vice Justice Minister, and Prime Ministerial hopeful KOUNO Tarou give his thoughts at a luncheon on the future of Japan.

Kouno, 43, comes from a family of politicians. His father, current Dietmember Kouno Youhei, is a former cabinetmember and long-respected political powerhouse himself. A graduate of Georgetown University in the US and former employee of Fuji Xerox, Tarou is bilingual in English and gave his speech in that language. Now in his fourth term, Tarou was the first to announce his candidacy for the Prime Minister’s job back in May because, he said in the press conference, he was disturbed by the next-likely Prime Minister, Abe Shinzou, stating that the latter had stated the current pension system was financially sound despite the clear demographics of a shrinking Japanese population. His website can be found at http://www.taro.org.

His ideas have made some media waves (particularly his proposed 3% cap on the foreign population), and I have critiqued his proposed immigration policy plan in one of my Japan Times columns (July 11, 2006, see http://www.debito.org/japantimes071106.html).

He opened with his platform on energy, education, taxation, and pension policies, which I will skip for the purposes of this newsletter. When he opened the floor for questions, his answers were fortunately very indicative.

When asked about where he had gotten the “3% foreign population cap” (when if the population is projected to drop to 100 million by 2050, this means that the foreign population can only increase by another million–from the current population of 2 million–by then). He said that the 3% “is a cap but is not a cap”, stressing the need for the population to increase gradually. “When it reaches 3%, then we can talk about it again. The foreign population will increase, just not to the levels of 5% or 7% like we see in Europe in one step. It’s too early for Japan.”

He was especially critical of the “lying” he sees behind Japan’s immigration policy. “The front door is closed, yet the back door is open–for Nikkei workers and foreign trainees.” He called the early-1990’s policy to import Nikkei workers, ostensibly because they are “Japanese” by blood but in reality because they were simply cheap labor, “the biggest mistake”.

He favors a work environment where women and senior citizens can work to a more elderly age, but since even that will not make up the shortfall, there must be a national policy regarding immigration. The local governments should not have to suffer financially for hosting an unassimilated community of minorities which have grown big enough to become a self-sufficient language subculture. Rather, the national government should take it upon itself to take steps to assimilate these people in ways he outlined in my Japan Times article linked above.

However, if the national government is to try harder to assimilate immigrants, then the potential immigrant has to do the same. He stressed that there must be quantifiable language ability before arrival and improvement afterwards. “Give them three to five years to learn the language”, with tutelage and evaluation in ways not elaborated upon. As the situation for foreign residents stands right now, he called it “very sad”, as Nikkeis came over and found things different than they expected.

When asked whether or not he would favor the establishment of a racial discrimination law (no, it wasn’t me asking–I’m not a working journalist and thus not allowed to raise any questions), Kouno Tarou said that he was not: “Even if there is a law, the attitudes of society will not change.” He cited an example which is not even covered by international treaty (as it is an interaction between individuals): “If a foreigner asks for a date and is refused, is that racial discrimination?” He concluded with the importance of culture and nature before codifying change.

There were other points raised and questions asked, but for our readership these are the bullet points. I went up to him after the luncheon ended, gave him a copy of my book JAPANESE ONLY in Japanese (http://www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html), and said this might help him understand why we need a racial discrimination law.

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2) FOREIGN MINISTRY FORUM ON UN CERD AND DIENE REPORT JULY 28

Last Friday, I attended an 2-hour “iken koukan kai” (the second in what will hopefully be a series) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo. Around eighty people and dozens of human-rights groups (we don’t know precisely who-the MOFA wouldn’t release the guest list) attended, to discuss how the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD, http://www.debito.org/cerd.html) should be implemented.

More specifically, our meeting would discuss Japan’s follow-up to the UN Reports of 2001 (see http://www.debito.org/japanvsun.html), now many years overdue, and to the Diene Reports of 2005 and 2006 where racism in Japan was reported as “deep and profound” and “practiced undisturbed” (see http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html). Several ministries, namely the Ministry of Justice, the National Police Agency, the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, the Transportation Ministry [due to public works interfering with Ainu lands], and the Education Ministry, were in attendance. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted.

We had a pre-meeting at 1PM with our network of 30 NGOs and 5 concerned individuals (including volunteers, lawyers, businesspeople, students, and group representatives). Convocating and organizing was the group International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR, see http://www.imadr.org ), fronted by the very capable and young Mr Morihara (a person I see as a probable historical figure), who was largely behind UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene’s visits to Japan these past two years. Although the contents of this meeting are not something I can release to the public at this time, be it known that there was some trepidation expressed at the possibility of opponents attending to deliberately throw sand in the negotiations…

At 3PM the meeting started. The bureaucrats attending were almost all juniors in their twenties and thirties, except the chair of the meeting who was of kachou class (as usual, so nobody could speak on behalf of their ministries). After some preliminary remarks on the good works each ministry is doing in the name of human rights, we went person by person, row by row, with attendees making their stump speeches of being done wrong and how the government is in fact not helping out. We were told to limit our comments to one minute, though nobody did (it was impossible anyway), then the bureaucrats would respond after each row was finished. Six rows and three and a half hours later, we were done. Highlights:

I made a speech on how each ministry has ignored or overlooked human rights: Justice Ministry not even mentioning the possibility of an anti-racial discrimination law, Police targeting foreigners through campaigns and even DNA racial profiling (http://www.debito.org/NPAracialprofiling.html), Education Ministry talking about educating people about foreigners and foreign cultures instead of telling people how foreigners are residents too, and how the judiciary is not protecting us (Steve McGowan, losing plaintiff in the Osaka Eyeglass Exclusion Case, http://www.debito.org/mcgowanhanketsu.html, was in attendance, and sat next to me as I made the speech).

Others talked about problems with housing, health insurance, juuminhyou residency certificates, and the fact that the Diene Reports are were generally going ignored or justified out of existence. (Foreign Minister Aso Tarou spoke of the Diene report, in Gaikou Bouei Iinkai Meeting of May 18, 2006, to say essentially “that Diene’s visit was done as an individual, therefore the report is not binding as a UN report” (kankoku wa kojin no shikaku ni yoru no de, kokuren no kouteki kenkkai de wa naku houteki kousoku ryoku wa nai), and how Japan’s government would simply argue against it (nihon seifu to shite hanron bunsho o teishutsu suru). In the same month, leaders within the Foreign Ministry dismissed historical claims made by the Ainu, Zainichi Koreans, etc. as no longer modern (gendai teki keitai) enough to matter anymore to the discussion.

The right wing did indeed attend, with three old fogies (who mumbled their last names and refused to disclose their affiliations) waffling on about how it was all very well to talk about minority rights, but what of the majority of Japanese being “exploited” (sakushu) and Japan’s mythology (jinwa) no longer being taught in schools? After all, they said, what good is learning about foreigners if Japanese don’t learn about themselves properly? That was quickly shot down by one of our party who said, “Mythology and the CERD are unrelated, so can we move on?” We did.

At the end we did our standard practice of going up to shake hands with the bureaucrats, thank them for coming, and exit for a postmortem at a follow-up meeting. That meeting’s particulars are not something I can make public again, except to say that we established a specific network to deal with this situation. Not entitled “Coexistence with Foreigners” or some other such othering guff. It was a group (official title TBD) to fight against *racial discrimination*–because race, not nationality, is the issue here, and enough people now recognize it as such. This, above all, is the big victory of this trip.

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Enough for now. More good news to follow in a few days. Thanks for reading.

Arudou Debito
Nezu, Tokyo
debito@debito.org
www.debito.org
August 1, 2006
EMAIL ENDS