End-Year Roundup: Twelve things that changed my life in 2007


Hi Blog. As rumination is the fashion at the end of every year, here are ten things (okay, twelve, because, to paraphrase faux rock group Spinal Tap, twelve is two more) which changed my life in some way in 2007. In ascending order of influence.


It took me a long time to get beyond the image of KING of being a cross between FAMILY GUY and SIMPSONS. But now that I have, I’m a convert. The humor is surprisingly subtle and subversive, most jokes get stuck in your throat but come back to make you laugh hours later (like the recollective humor in Saturday Night Live–which you remember at the water cooler on Monday), the animation is realistic to the point of being Cronenberg-surreal, and as the story moves along the characters physically grow (unlike SIMPSONS, where Bart and Lisa would be college graduates by now). With character development comes rewards: remarkably mature humor on puberty, parenthood, lingering traumas, and friendship, as well as digs at American society so subtle that I doubt even the Texans being lampooned would all get it. It takes a little while to get into KING’s stride, but like many of the best TV shows in existence, the fan payoff is great. And unlike SOUTH PARK (where you are pulled along in marathon viewing bursts of some of the most unsubtle humor on the planet), KING has to be taken in small doses, as some of the characters are deliberately annoying, yet ultimately oddly endearing. You really need to trace the arc across six seasons–but it’s a great way to unwind after work, over dinner, or before bed, with an episode or two a day. And the obligatory two-parter on Japan at the end of Season Six is in places startlingly accurate–even features the guest voice of Matsuda Seiko! Good entertainment that does more to remind me of what kind of place I came from than even the best Bruce Springsteen albums.


I have always found British music journalism far superior to American. There’s a good reason–the UK is more into it. The third biggest musical market (behind the US and Japan), the British spend more on music per capita than anywhere in the world. Take a trip to London and see how powerful the music media is. So over the holidays I sat down with a bunch of NMEs, Qs, MOJOs, and UNCUTs (which had their prices slashed from 2000 to 300 yen at Tower Records Shibuya) that were special issues on genres I had only fuzzy knowledge of: Psychedelia, Prog Rock, Classic Rock, New Romantics/New Wave, and specials on Neil Young, Electropop, Pink Floyd, and David Bowie. I’ve since followed their advice on “essential albums in the genre” and picked up two Hendrixes (Experienced and Electric Ladyland) and one Jethro Tull (Aqualung)–finding them to be as good as they say. Only now in my forties do I see more clearly the bridges and cross-pollenizations between the groups I collect and trace: The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Genesis/Peter Gabriel, The Police/Sting, The Fixx, Pet Shop Boys, U2, Depeche Mode, Tangerine Dream, the B-52’s and Duran Duran. I now realize I am firmly rooted in the “concept album” in terms of preference, meaning I’m a prog rocker, highly resistant to the modern habit of merely downloading “tracks” from cyberspace with no context in a group’s musical timeline. Aka a geek (to those who understand what I’m talking about). Or a snob (to those who don’t).


I have found that blogging is quite addictive. With the newfound ease of quoting and linking I sometimes have trouble limiting my posts to one per day–and given that I posted about 700 blog entries this year, that works out to quite a daily average. It has become by some reckonings an even more valuable real-time forum and information service (especially during the “anti-terrorist” fingerprinting debacle, more below). The number of links to Debito.org has quintupled, there’s a chance that Technorati ranking service might put Debito.org into the top 10,000 next time it ranks it (it’s been exactly 28,441 worldwide for the past couple of months). Meanwhile, as of October, I’ve been reading aloud or excerpting from my Newsletters as podcasts on Trans Pacific Radio, with eight podcasts out so far. Learning how to tweak and edit my own voice to make it more listenable has been a major challenge, believe me, with a steep learning curve. You can see my handiwork trying to get the issues out for the hoodie-headphone and sports-club crowd here.


I’ve already said this is the Golden Age of the Documentary. These three films help prove it. The first is on the history of the corporate body, and how its legal treatment as a private individual (despite its incredible economic power and lack of accountability) has created enormous control over society (and how moves such as “privatization” are merely guises for creating private ownership over public goods–even life forms). Exposes the quest to own everything in existence as property (proponents justify it due to an theoretical “stewardship role” that ownership would provide–but with ownership comes the potential for denial of public access). The second DVD is a case study of one corporation–the bankrupt energy giant Enron, and what happens when you couple inelastic demand curves (found in utilities markets) with the unfettered pursuit of profit. The unanswerable existential question becomes, “how much is enough?” It never is, and until government realizes that the degree of laissez-faire and the strength of destructive tendencies are directly proportional, you get a lot of market forces cheated and people hurt. The third DVD is a documentary on the life of Ralph Nader, and how his activism and good works are actively combatted and tarnished by smear campaigns. I empathize. Never trust a third party (such as Wikipedia–which to me for controversial topics is essentially a wall for intellectual graffiti artists) to relay information. Always get the arguments from the primary source. Which is why Debito.org so assiduously archives its arguments. In sum, these DVDs are some of the best statements regarding the status quo’s corruption and ideological bankruptcy that The Left have come up with in recent years. They show how the New Media can also be a means for getting out counterargument in the face of dominating Old Media machines.

(NB: Michael Moore’s SICKO isn’t on this list because it won’t be out in DVD in Japan until April.)


It was only four days on my college campus, and two decades since our undergraduate class scattered around the world. But I saw for myself that many alums hadn’t outgrown the Reagan Era penchant for converting skills into money (“Greed is Good”, remember?), and measuring success and personal growth by growth in one’s bank accounts and capital gains. Cornell’s world-class liberal arts education was discounted in favor of materialism: Here I was amidst successful bankers, lawyers, doctors, and other professionals, many preening. To some I was merely a prof in a no-name university, activist of causes nobody had heard of, and a scholar of some arcane language in a country past its prime and about to be leapfrogged by China. The brightest “star” was CBS’s Early Show weatherman and fellow alum Dave Price, who gave a smug (and yes, charmingly funny) presentation on how far he’d come. But I realized just how far I’d grown from this crowd–and how the artsy-fartsy types I hung around with in Risley College arts dorm were wise to have stayed away. Maybe check back in in another ten or fifteen years… Still, I had good conversations with much older alums (who were pre-Reagan, and by now had nothing to prove to anyone anymore), and nice meetings with Cornell academics (and their students) who knew what I’ve been up to over here.


Last year I said I’d break 1000 kms this year. I did it, but in dribs and drabs. 768 kms around Kyushu during Golden Week (from Miyazaki to Fukuoka, report with photos here) Then 382.1 kms from Sapporo to Hakodate via the mountains then the coast, in three days. Then Sapporo to Asahikawa (one day), Asahikawa to near Monbetsu (day two), and coasting into Monbetsu (day three) with a quick side trip to Okoppe (trip average over 20 kph, Okoppe one way averaging close to 30 kph on a mountain bike). Total 380.35 kms in three days. And 60 km cycles to and from school at least three times a week. Even though I doubt I’ll ever reach my personal record (set back during Cycletrek 1999) of 200 kms in one day, I cycled more than 150 kms in one day at least three times this summer. Total for 2007: around 2500 kms, and this despite my being hit by a car while cycling and getting injured in June. Not bad for a 42-year-old.

I was really, really fit this year. And happy about it. See how happy I look along the Okhotsk Sea August 28, having gotten out there completely on my own leg power?
Pity winter has to come or I’d be doing this sort of thing year-round.

I was really surprised with the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan asked me to sit down and open for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Racial Discrimination, who has done a couple of very important high-profile reports on racial discrimination in Japan. Surely they could ask somebody else, I said to a friend in the human-rights community. He replied: “Actually, you’re the one to ask. Who else here is doing quite what you’re doing?” After more than a decade of speaking out about things, that was a pivotal moment.

Transcript of what was said, along with pre-cycling winter fat photo, available here. More on Doudou Diene blogged here, and what he’s said about Japan in the past (“racial discrimination is deep and profound”) archived at Debito.org here.


I still look back and wonder how I got through it: Land in Tokyo June 21. Speech at Waseda June 22. Speech at Meiji Gakuin Daigaku June 23. Interview at FCCJ June 24. Huge speech at Tokai University June 25. Then speech at Shogakukan June 26. Finally back to Sapporo June 27 on a 9AM flight to teach an afternoon class. Every speech was original, with its own new unique powerpoint presentation in two languages. (See them all here.) And as soon as I finished one speech and went out for an evening tsukiai, I was back in a hotel room that night working until midnight (or getting up at 4 am) to finish up the next powerpoint. But I did it. I have no idea how, but I could. Guess all the pressure-cooker training I had in college is paying off.

Check out this photo of me first thing in the morning on June 27 on the monorail to Haneda–I’ve never looked so tired–those yellow patches under the eyes still make me shudder.


Speaking of marathon information sessions, the Nov 20 reintroduction for fingerprinting of almost all NJ in Japan, expressly treating them as ersatz Osama Juniors, Typhoid Maries, and Al Capones, was a watershed moment for Debito.org–even overshadowing the February publication of GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine (in which I was only tangentally involved–it was more the NJ communities as a whole fighting for themselves, organizing a boycott, getting the rag off the shelves, and ultimately helping to bankrupt the publisher). During Fingerprinting, Debito.org acted (amongst many others, of course) as a real-time forum and information source; I was making hourly updates as the information and outrage poured in. This was where people were suddenly tacking the word “blogger” onto my job description. And the synergy paid off in print:


I did nine JT articles for the Tuesday Zeit Gist column this year (all visible here, everything from school rules to sumo, and zeroed in how NJ get a raw deal both in government pronouncements, police treatment, and the judiciary. But the capper was my December 18 column, where I stitched together elements of all 42 of my columns into one 1600 word piece–I believe my best so far–describing how Japan’s now-clear xenophobic policymaking and the peerage masquerading as a parliament is actually devastating Japan. Hastening it towards a future of economic backwaterdom.


One other head turner I wrote was when I reported I wanted to quit my job at HIU–after finding out from the powers that be there that I wasn’t worth a sabbatical ‘cos, inter alia, I was merely an English teacher to them. Since then, I have gotten a few apologies from people about the things they said (in particular that “merely an English teacher” thang), and will see if they’ll look more favorably upon the same proposal next year. Meanwhile, I’ve still realized that I’ve outgrown the place in terms of research topic and educational focus, and want to work somewhere else more in tune with that. I’m still looking, and am following a few leads. But I’m also realizing that I’m at an awkward age–too old and senior to need to tolerate the gaijin treatment from my kouhai (who have to be barked at from time to time just to get them to follow Japanese rules), yet not senior enough to avoid the gaijin handling by my much older senpai (who land jobs here after retiring from other universities, meaning we don’t get promoted to positions of authority ourselves). It’s not a very comfortable stage in our lives (and I’m increasingly seeing older Japanese men as some of the loneliest people on the planet). But there is no guarantee it’ll be any better anywhere else. So we’ll just keep plugging away and hoping the kudos will accrue and stick. It’s all gotta mean something sometime, right? Fingers crossed.


This was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, where I learned my parents don’t even wish me well, I saw confirmed and undeniable evidence of their child abuse, and I realized that many of the pivotal decisions I’ve made up to now have been attempts to get away from them. To quote activist and author Rebecca Walker:

“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.”

Well put. My report on the nightmare that was my Homecoming 2007 is archived at http://www.debito.org/homecoming2007.html

ZERO) DEAD RINGER, AT LAST Completely as an aside, check out this youtube ad for a New Zealand movie. Somebody said I look exactly like the star. Funny thing is, he’s right! Poor bloke.

That’s quite enough for one year. Here’s hoping 2008 is a good one for all of us. Thanks for reading and supporting Debito.org. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
December 31, 2007



Yes, that’s right. 2006. And somehow it never got blogged. Remedying that. And this year, I’ll have ten things which changed my life in 2007. Next post. Archiving for posterity. Debito in Sapporo


Hi All. Arudou Debito here with a special edition of the debito.org newsletter for the holidays. This offers lighter fare, some personal musings, and other things to read during a festive occasion (much like the year-end holiday double issue of The Economist newsmagazine). Here goes:

and finally… DEBITO.ORG A DECADE ON…

By Arudou Debito (www.debito.org, debito@debito.org)
December 31, 2006



What follows is an interview which took place a few months ago with Elliott at J-SELECT MAGAZINE (http://www.jselect.net), featured in their December-January issue currently on sale. Give the interview a try–we don’t even talk about onsens or lawsuits!

“Twenty Questions”
Interview with J-Select’s “Back Chat–Life in Japan from a Different Perspective”,
Japan Select Magazine, December 2006–January 2007, page 74.

Name: Arudou Debito
Age: 41
Nationality: Japanese
Occupation: Author, Columnist, University Prof
Likes: Compliments
Dislikes: Hypocrites

A woman. Hey, I was only 21.

A woman. Kids. Steady job. And oh yeah, Japanese citizenship.

There are too many people to mention. And I cannot narrow it down to one person because none of them are saints. To be expected. Any decent study of history and biography reveals dark sides and shames in anyone. Guess the best thing to say is: I hope to become a composite of the best parts of people I admire.

Again, cherche la femme. Hokkaido was the first place I visited in Japan, and it was summertime. Anyone who’s ever been up to Sapporo in summer will know what I mean. Inertia did the rest.

Down south. Speeches, academic conferences, beers and homestays with friends. Japan is incredibly easy to travel around–if you have money and can read a map.

“Keizoku wa chikara nari”. “Continuation becomes its own strength.” It demonstrates the power of patience, precedence, and tenacity. Because the longer you keep on the path, fortifying a life’s work, the more likely that people are going to take you seriously. Then they will hopefully acquiesce, help out, or just plain get out of the way.

“Somebody’s gotta do it. It might as well be me.” Think I’ll make that my epitaph.

The way the Japanese language uses onomatopoeia and twists foreign loanwords. Who says Japanese aren’t creative?!

The way I watch people around here treat every tree like it’s a bonsai. Chop them to shreds because branches might get tangled in phone lines, or poke somebody in the eye! I’m serious–that’s an actual reason once given me by zealous bureaucrats with pruning shears! It’s called tree growth, honey. It’s not something to stunt at the expense of shade and oxygen.

My computer with internet access, so I could keep sending out my newsletters.

If I have to be alone on the island, that one item should do, really. As long as I have my iPod and Skype as well. It’s kinda like my lifestyle anyway when I’m in the middle of writing a book.

My Japanese electronic dictionary. Keeps me plugging away at kanji. Thanks to many a boring faculty meeting, I now even know the characters for metric units!

My summer cycle trips around Hokkaido are supremely exciting. Done three so far, last one August 2006 totalling 940 kms. The fact that I can still cycle more than 100 kms a day even at the age of forty is a confounding certification of health. 200 kms in one day is my best. People who see the size of my stomach are amazed I haven’t keeled over as roadkill yet.

Okay, something more outrageous and dishier, then. Out boozing one night with a friend from Finland. Overimbibed some evil 64-proof Suomi aniseed brew [salmiakki]. Wound up getting sick all over the front steps of Hokkaido Jingu, the capital of Shintoism up here. Er, on second thought, let’s keep that incident between you and me…

Probably the time I was asked to join in the okama-kon festival at my university. By that I mean, where all the guys dress up like girls and act feminine for prizes. Dressing in drag has got quite a history over here, thanks to Kabuki.

Anyway, my supervisor stuffed me into a dress and covered me in otherwise unusable make-up she bought in Russia. I went up on stage with my eight-month-old daughter sleeping in the crook of one arm, as proof of my obvious fertility. Nobody got the joke, and I didn’t even place in the top three. Surprisingly enough, this is NOT the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done in Japan…

I was once asked to interpret at an international wedding, where a drunk old fart decided to go on a gabbing bender. Then he blabbed about the breezy day when he got lucky–an upskirt view of one of the women in the audience. Pity that woman happened to be the bride! I bunted and refused to translate it.

I later asked professional translators how they would have handled this situation. They said I should have compared her to Marilyn Monroe standing over a subway grating. Naruhodo. Interpreters deserve every penny.

Wouldn’t want to be confused with them. Or with anyone else. I wish to be a Japanese on my own terms, and that starts with my name.

Anyway, my name was once Dave Aldwinckle, and that comes out as Arudouinkuru Debito in katakana. Shortened the last name and picked the kanji to fit.

How surprisingly accepting people are of it. Seriously. It opens so many doors and settles so many arguments.

The fact that you’d better speak Japanese pretty naturally before people accept you as one. Most people still equate nationality with face and race. And foreigners are the nastiest about it.

Learn Japanese. If you want to do anything at all with a degree of comfort and control in Japanese society, you must learn how to speak, read, and write. More advice in a “GUIDEBOOK TO LIVING IN JAPAN” a lawyer friend and I will be publishing next year.

Take a photo of it with time and place and send it to me at debito@debito.org.

If you’re really daring, ask the management why they have that sign up. Then ask them calmly to take it down, since it invites misunderstandings–the biggest of all being that “foreigners” can be excluded with impunity. This situation must not be left alone, because it’ll only get worse.

The myth that Japanese laborers are workaholics. Leave the mania of Tokyo for a while and you’ll see just how laid back people get. Even in many Japanese companies, learning how to look busy is a fine art. Kinda like tax evasion. That said, the generally high commitment in Japan to a job well done more than makes up for any secret skiving…

A person who can make the best decision at all times. Hopefully sagacious without cynicism.

Enjoy your youth for as long as possible, since you should have many twilight years to enjoy your age. Still, Japan is a society which largely wastes the energy of its youth. But the upside is that life gets easier as you get older in Japan. If you learn the rules of getting along, that is.

(See, I told you this newsletter would have a different tone…)



A friend of mine studying to take the Japanese Bar wrote me a fascinating essay too good to be for my eyes only. It’s on the sea change in how lawyers are becoming qualified in Japan. There are currently two Bar exams to take (“New” and “Old”, with the Old being phased out by 2011), and the whats and whys (with copious comments from cyberspace) are available at http://www.debito.org/?p=101

Except follows:
Japan’s bar exam (shihou shiken) is no longer called that–it’s called either the kyuu shihou shiken or the shin shihou shiken.

1. Kyuu Shihou Shiken–the “Old Bar”

Since the 1950s, Japan’s bar association has operated a very simple procedure for becoming a lawyer: pass the bar exam. That’s it. No law schools. No pre-exam training. Applicants did not even have to graduate from a university. After you passed you went and did [an internship] (shihou kenshuu), managed by the Supreme Court, and then you were a lawyer (or prosecutor, or judge). End of story.

While that might sound liberal, the results were not egalitarian… i.e. the opportunity was equal but the results were not. The pass rate was typically 1%, and half of all attorneys are from Japan’s top six universities (Todai, Kyodai, Keio, Chuo, Waseda, Hitotsubashi). More than 90% have undergraduate degrees in law, the average attorney passes the exam on the fifth try, and the average age of admittance to the bar is 28. That means many, many hopeful attorneys wasted years of their lives studying hard for the exam, many of whom had to give up in their 30s (or even 40s), having lost much of their young professional lives….

2. Shin Shihou Shiken–the “New Bar”

Japan took a major step towards revolutionizing its legal sector in 2004 when it opened American-style law schools. The standard course is three years (or two years for students with undergraduate degrees in law). The first “new bar exam” was held this past May, and the pass rate was 48% (for comparison purposes, that’s the same as California.)

However, the functional results are the same. I mean, 40,000 people applied for these new schools, 3,000 got in, only 2,000 sat for the exam, and 1,000 passed. So from 40,000 applicants to 1,000 lawyers means the bar is accomplishing the same result, in that many, many people who sit for the old bar will never pass it, and rejecting them from the get go is a more effective way of not getting the hopes up of people who will never become lawyers…

4. Reasons to change

A. A “quota” (i.e. we will admit 1,500 lawyers this year) as opposed to a score (everyone over 80% passes) means that the quality of lawyers varies by year in accordance with the respective competition…

C. Despite studying for five or more years or however many years, most lawyers aren’t very good! They’re trained in the theory of law, but not the practice, and are often bookworms or introverts, and not made to go out and reassure clients that they are representing them to the fullest.

D. The demand for lawyers had forced the pass rate up. Until 2000, the pass rate was 1%. By 2005 the pass rate was 3.8%, but lowering the bar pass rate given the incumbent exam regime just aggravated problem C.

E. The lack of competent business attorneys has meant a massive influx of foreign attorneys, who have maneuvered into a position where they come close to dominating the major transactions in the Tokyo legal world…
EXCERPT ENDS. Rest blogged at http://www.debito.org/?p=101



Friend Joel has become something of a celebrity down in Kyushu with the burgeoning onsens tourist trade. He sends word of government-sponsored ads for tours in part hosted by him. If you’re in the area, look him up. Turning the keyboard over to him:

==========BEGIN JOEL=====================
Friends and colleagues: My worldwide debut is now available for all to see in 6 different languages.

If this link gives you trouble, try accessing from the front page

(Or try YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvdQrIbyJv8 )

This was produced by NHK International for the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who has distributed this to hundreds of Japanese embassies worldwide, in addition to providing the streaming link online.

It’s only 5 minutes long, so please have a look. Regards, Joel
==========END JOEL=====================

Joel has also been featured on TV several times, most accessibly here (TV Tokyo):
Well done. Hope to see more of you.



Now we get into the realm of personal stuff. Here are ten things that changed my life in 2006, in ascending order:

TEN) AUDIBLE.COM. Since discovering this website, I have stopped listening to music in my car, and just stick the iPod in my ears every commute or cycle trip. I have downloaded hundreds of soundfiles, ranging from full books (Chomsky, Shakespeare, Malcolm Gladwell) to speeches, debates, and hearings (US presidential candidate debates, US Supreme Court oral arguments, Inaugural Addresses from every US president since FDR, Congressional Hearings on Iraq, WMD, Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld, and Bolton), and NPR radio broadcasts. Prices range from ten or so dollars US to completely free, and I have a full-year’s subscription to NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross (which is quite, ahem, engrossing). Brain broccoli on a daily basis.

NINE) BASEBALL, BY KEN BURNS. This auteur and darling of the US TV network PBS crowd just keeps on doing it again and again. From his breakout series THE CIVIL WAR, Burns continues to crank out documentaries of incredible quality and accessible history. I own most of his movies already, but this year’s purchase of BASEBALL (which charts the origins and effects of the game on American society) was well worth the hefty price tag. Each installment (or “inning”) is well over two hours long, and there are ten innings. Is it compelling? Speaking as a non-baseball fan, I find them breathtakingly well-assembled and seamless in narrative, even touching upon issues such as gender and racial equality, labor unions, and immigration and assimilation. No, it’s not all baseball scores and people running rounders. Completely convincing as to why anyone should care about the game.

EIGHT) THE YAMATO DAMACY INTERVIEWS. I generally hate appearing before TV cameras–I freeze up and become all self-conscious, kinda like me on a dance floor. However, these podcasted interviews by Rahman and Jeshii are startlingly good: great fun while covering a lot of ground. I still enjoy watching them from time to time, and think, “Is that really how I come off when I’m in ‘The Zone’? Gee, even *I* like me!” See all four episodes for yourself here:
SEVEN) JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL TEXTBOOKS. After perusing the textbooks my daughters will be reading in secondary education, I actually took the advice of friend Chris (who also mastered Japanese this way) by picking up a seventh-grade Kokugo textbook (“Tsutae Au Kotoba”, Kyouiku Shuppan, Monkashou Kokugo 709) for myself, and devoted time to doing at least two pages a night. Found that it was just about the right level–in that I could read it without having to refer to a dictionary at any time, but the topics and points covered were insightful as to what kids should understand about written language, both historical and current, as a means for expression and preserving the past. And no, it was not cold and militaristic, as I almost expected Jr High School education in Japan to be. It has a gentle yet persuasive tone that even I, a very skeptical person given PM Abe’s recent changes to the Basic Education Law, could buy into. For a reality check, I guess I’m going to have to pick up a history book once I work my way through HS Kokugo…

SIX) MANGA “KISEIJUU”, BY IWAAKI HITOSHI. This bestselling comic series (10 books, published by Kodansha 1990-1995 by Afternoon KC) was something I rediscovered in a treasure trove of my old books. Story is about space parasites which try to take over the earth, in the best traditions of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. Won’t develop further, as it already sounds hokey, but the story gets into issues of identity, life, and ecology, and has several different types of written tone in advanced Japanese. It is also well-rendered, with perfect line and facial characterization, mature enough to avoid pandering to silly comic exaggeration so common to Japanese manga. Why it made a difference to me is that for the first time in studying Japanese, I actually read something in Japanese for pure enjoyment. I proved to myself I could read something in Japanese not merely because I need the information. That is very promising.

FIVE) THE “JAPANESE ONLY WORLD TOURS”. Last year, I gave speeches at 24 different university and educational institutions (thanks!). The most interesting were the 10 speeches I was asked to give in the US and Canada, in that I was addressing a fundamentally different audience, some of whom knew very little of Japan outside their manga, video games, and cursory social studies classes. Others (such as those at NYU Law and Columbia Law) asked questions from a legal perspective for which I had difficulty coming up with answers. Still others just wanted to know why the universality of human experience would allow for racial discrimination to remain unchallenged in a society as rich and developed as Japan’s–which to me was the hardest question of all. A wonderful way to keep my mind from going stale and the issue fresh and growing. Similarly:

FOUR) AL GORE’S “AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH”. I watched this movie three times in a row on the airplane going to Canada last October and twice going back. It is a wonderful documentary from the master of the slide show–former presidential candidate Al Gore making his well-rehearsed and utterly compelling speech on Global Warming. Al has nearly single-handedly changed the debate from prevaricating inertia to implausible deniability… and shown us how an intellectual may not convince the beer-drinking crowd that he is worthy of a presidential vote, but is certainly worth a respectful audience for his earnest work (when driving my rental car through Vancouver traffic, the radio advertised tickets to go see his slide show live; I had to pull over and recompose myself, I was laughing and clapping so hard with joy). Personally, it showed me that my slide shows (now Powerpoint presentations) on racism in Japan do have a future, and when enough of them happen (as they did for Susan B. Anthony in her decades of tours promoting woman suffrage in the 1800’s), it is possible to just keep on keeping on and reach a tipping point. Bravo, Al.

THREE) MY NEXT BOOK: “GUIDEBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS SETTING DOWN ROOTS IN JAPAN”. To be published next year, but written in 2006. This collaborative effort with a legal scrivener friend promises to put into print the advice that many long-termers have but haven’t collated. More and more people are immigrating to Japan. It’s time somebody told them how they can get a leg up in this society. The Japanese government has been complacent in its guidance, if not outright complicit (with, for example, its Trainee and Researcher Visa programs) in keeping foreigners as temporary and exploitable labor. On a personal note, it has demonstrated to me as well that I can write about more than just onsens and lawsuits…

TWO) MY THIRD CYCLETREK AROUND HOKKAIDO. This two-week trek, covering 940 kms from Sapporo to Abashiri via Wakkanai (alluded to at http://www.debito.org/?p=25 ) with friend Chris was again a wonderful expedition and vision quest. My first Cycletrek (1999, available at http://www.debito.org/residentspage.html#cycletreks ) is still one of my favorite essays. This trek, travelling around with another person the whole time (a first, as I usually do these ordeals alone) proved to me that even a lone wolf by temperament and pace such as myself can keep up with another person more than ten years my junior both mentally and particularly physically. I intend to do this every August from now on (for why leave Hokkaido when the weather is so perfect and we’ve suffered so much snow waiting for it?), so anyone else is interested in joining me, let me know. I intend to break 1000 kms next summer.

ONE) MY DIVORCE. This has forced the largest recalibration of my life’s direction up to this point, my integrity as a person, and my preferences for the future. Lasting nearly three years, this experience is something I would never wish on anyone else. Enough said. I finally plucked up the courage to web my December essay on it at

ZERO) And one more, just because I don’t want to end the list on a sad note: AERIAL, BY KATE BUSH. This bestselling musical album, in the era of where iTunes downloads of individual tracks are outdistancing CD purchases, reassured me that my upbringing as an aficionado of music in ALBUM form (i.e. two sides of a record or a cassette tape, midway taking you into a special musical zone that cannot be reached otherwise) is not dead. After nearly two decades waiting for Kate to come out with this, she does not disappoint in any way, and it’s one of those rare albums you can keep flipping over and over again. (And for what it’s worth, other albums you can do the same with: Genesis “Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”, Pink Floyd “Wish You Were Here”, Depeche Mode “Ultra”, Genesis “Trick of the Tale” followed by “Wind and Wuthering”, The Police “Synchronicity”, Seal’s Debut Album, Sade “Stronger than Pride”, Djivan Gasparyan and MIchael Brook “Black Rock”, Abdelli’s Debut Album, Beatles “Sgt. Pepper” and “Abbey Road”, Duran Duran “Wedding Album” and Arcadia’s “So Red the Rose”, Tangerine Dream “Turn of the Tides”, Roller Coaster (South Korea) “Absolute”, Blur “13”, B-52’s “Bouncing Off the Satellites”, The Fixx “Phantoms”, Men at Work “Business as Usual”, Moody Blues “Days of Future Passed”, George Michael “Faith”, Sting “Dream of the Blue Turtles”, U2 “Joshua Tree” and “Unforgettable Fire”, Talking Heads “Buildings and Food”…) Made me feel like my overwhelming preference for the contained collection of songs as an essay, as an art form, still matters.



2007 marks the tenth year of debito.org’s existence, and it has grown from a backlog of personal essays to an award-winning database of several thousand articles and documents about life in Japan. It has become something I add to practically every day (thanks to my Blog, opened last June, at http://www.debito.org/index.php , now with 111 posts already), and occasions comments from people around the world with an interest in Japan, and who want to know more before coming here and trying to make a go of it.

And it just keeps on growing. The number of visitors reached record levels this month, growing from an average of about 2000 hits and page views and 700 visits on average throughout 2006, to nearly 3000 hits and page views and 1300 visits PER DAY in December. This has never happened before, and being a writer who loves to be read, this is extremely satisfying.

A more accessible statistic is this: According to the Technorati website, which tracks blog links worldwide, as of today debito.org has 159 links from 70 blogs–making it (out of all the millions of blogs out there) the 46,809th ranked blog worldwide. (http://www.technorati.com/search/www.debito.org)

Being in the top 50,000 in the world for a personal website is I think pretty impressive, and I thank everyone for their support. I hope to continue being of service.


Have a safe and prosperous 2007, everyone! Arudou Debito in Sapporo
December 31, 2006

Comedian Dave M G on New News: parodies of current events


Hi Blog. News is piling up, but I promised more holiday tangent:

Turning the keyboard to comedian Dave M G, with news about a comedy show he’s doing as a non-native speaker on domestic events.

I’ve seen Dave in action many times before (he’s an amazingly funny guy, and I’ve spent a lot of time studying his sense of timing). Now he’s turning his edge towards the Japanese market. It’s about time. Political parody is in short supply in this society–where are the Daily Shows, where are the Have I Got News for You?s to lay bare fundamental truths in the form of humor?

(We do have the comedy troupe “Newspaper”, equally excellent in its impersonation of political figures, finally gaining traction after twenty years of performing. But Dave’s a friend.)

Here is his correspondence in order of receipt. Courtesy of The Community mailing list. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


November 16, 2007:

Myself and some comedians I regularly perform with are going to be starting a new project – a news comedy show for Japan.

Comparisons with “The Daily Show” are inevitable, and we can’t deny that it’s a huge influence. I’m a big fan of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report”. But at the same time, I’ve drawn inspiration from news comedy going back to SNL, SCTV, Brass Eye and more.

Of course, ultimately we want to find our own voice, one that works for Japan, and brings in a new style of comedy.

This show is in Japanese, and it is intended entirely for Japanese speakers. And while I know a lot of you speak Japanese (better than me!), I’m mainly bringing it to your attention because the material will of course be based on the social and political news headlines that are of interest to members of this group.

So I hope you’ll want to check it out. We’re going to film it and YouTube it, so I’ll put a link up here on Tuesday or Wednesday.

But I’m telling you now because we’re going to perform it live on Monday night in Nishi Azabu. I’m hoping to get a few audience members to come and watch. There will be some stand up comedians performing as well, rounding out the show. It’s free as well, so if you can make it, you can’t lose.

Please spread the word to your friends who are looking for Japanese comedy that isn’t the same old “dotabata” stuff that Yoshimoto keeps pumping out. Come be a part of the launch of our experiment with comedy that’s new to Japan.

Details on the location and times are on this web page. The web page refers to it as a show called “Nihongo De Comedy”, which is the show we regularly perform at that venue. “The New News Show” is a new segment in the middle of that show:



November 29, 2007:
[Community] First shot at news comedy

Community List, I say “first shot” in the subject line because, well, things never go as perfectly as you’d hope.

Anyway, as mentioned before, I’m working with some others on making a news comedy show.

We finished our first go at it, and uploaded it to YouTube:

I could go on and on about the things I’m not happy with… Anyway, there it is. We’re going to try and work to make things better for next time, and if anyone is interested in participating in this kind of project, let me know.


December 21, 2007:
Our news comedy show for this month is up and on the web.

This time it’s shorter, and the production is a little smoother.

On The New News web site:


Or on YouTube:


If you know anyone who is interested in comedy about Japanese politics and news, please pass the above web addresses along.

Economist on “When Japan was a Secret”


Hi Blog. Debito.org is following the template set by The Economist Newsmagazine, where the journalists digress from the usual serious stuff and put out a holiday issue of tangents.

In this year’s Economist holiday issue, we have a three-pager on how people (particularly whalers and other merchant marines) were trying to open up Japan before Commodore Perry. It’s a long one, so here are some excerpts:

Japanese sea-drifters
When Japan was a secret
The Economist Dec 19th 2007

Long before Commodore Perry got there, Japanese castaways and American whalers were prising Japan open

IF THAT double-bolted land, Japan, is ever to become hospitable, it is the whale-ship alone to whom the credit will be due; for already she is on the threshold.
Herman Melville, “Moby Dick”, 1851

The first English-language teacher to come to Japan landed in a tiny skiff, but before he did so, Ranald MacDonald pulled the bung from his boat in order to half-swamp her, in the hope of winning over locals with a story that he had come as someone who had fled the cruel tyrannies of a whale-ship captain and then been shipwrecked. The four locals who approached by boat, though certainly amazed, were also courteous, for they bowed low, stroked their huge beards and emitted a throaty rumbling. “How do you do?” MacDonald cheerily replied. This meeting took place in tiny Nutsuka Cove on Rishiri Island off Hokkaido on July 1st 1848, and a dark basaltic pebble from the cove sits on this correspondent’s desk as he writes, picked up from between the narrow fishing skiffs that even today are pulled up on the beach….

Far from fleeing a tyrant, MacDonald had in fact had to plead with a concerned captain of the Plymouth, a whaler out of Sag Harbour, New York, to be put down in the waters near Japan. MacDonald had an insatiable hunger for adventure, and the desire to enter Japan—tantalisingly shut to the outside world—had taken a grip on him. Both men knew of the risks, but the captain was less inclined to discount them. For 250 years, since the Tokugawa shogunate kicked Christian missionaries and traders out, only a tightly controlled trade with the Netherlands and China was tolerated in the southern port of Nagasaki, with a further licence for Koreans elsewhere. Though British and Russian ships had from time to time prodded Japan’s carapace, an edict in 1825 spelled out what would happen to uninvited guests “demanding firewood, water and provisions”:

The continuation of such insolent proceedings, as also the intention of introducing the Christian religion having come to our knowledge, it is impossible to look on with indifference. If in future foreign vessels should come near any port whatsoever, the local inhabitants shall conjointly drive them away; but should they go away peaceably it is not necessary to pursue them. Should any foreigners land anywhere, they must be arrested or killed, and if the ship approaches the shore it must be destroyed.

Two decades later the despotic feudalism of the Tokugawa shogunate was under greater strain. At home the land had been ravaged by floods and earthquakes, and famines had driven the dispossessed and even samurai to storm the rice warehouses of the daimyo, the local lords. Abroad, Western powers were making ominous inroads. After the opium war of 1840-42 China ceded Hong Kong to Britain. Meanwhile, thanks to a growth in whaling and trade with China, the number of distressed Western vessels appearing along Japan’s shores was increasing. Moderate voices made themselves heard within the government. A new edict was softer:

It is not thought fitting to drive away all foreign ships irrespective of their condition, in spite of their lack of supplies, or of their having stranded or their suffering from stress of weather. You should, when necessary, supply them with food and fuel and advise them to return, but on no account allow foreigners to land. If, however, after receiving supplies and instructions they do not withdraw, you will, of course drive them away.

…The most famous sea-drifter is known in the West and even Japan as John Manjiro. Two days after Melville set off in early 1841 from Fairhaven, Massachusetts, on the whaling adventure that provided the material for “Moby Dick”, Manjiro, the youngest of five crew, set out fishing near his village of Nakanohama on the rugged south-western coast of Shikoku, one of Japan’s four main islands. On the fourth day, the skipper saw black clouds looming and ordered the boat to be rowed to shore. It was too late. Over two weeks they drifted east almost 400 miles, landing on Torishima, a barren volcanic speck whose only sustenance was brackish water lying in puddles and nesting seabirds. In late summer even the albatrosses left. After five months, while out scavenging, Manjiro saw a ship sailing towards the island.

The castaways’ saviour, William Whitfield, captain of the John Howland, a Fairhaven whaler, took a shine to the sparky lad. In Honolulu he asked Manjiro if he wanted to carry on to Fairhaven. The boy did, studied at Bartlett’s Academy, which taught maths and navigation to its boys, went to church and fell for local girls. He later signed on for a three-year whaling voyage to the Pacific, and when he returned, joined a lumber ship bound round Cape Horn for San Francisco and the California gold rush. He made a handsome sum and found passage back to Honolulu.

By early 1851—the year of “Moby Dick” and two years before Commodore Perry turned up—Manjiro was at last back in Japan, and things were already changing. He and two of the original crew had been dropped in their open sailing boat by an American whaling ship off the Ryukyu Islands. They were taken to Kagoshima, seat of the Satsuma clan. The local daimyo, Shimazu Nariakira, grilled Manjiro, but the tone was inquisitive more than inquisitorial: please to explain the steamship, trains, photography, etc. In Nagasaki, Manjiro had to trample on an image of the Virgin and child. He was asked whether the katsura bush could be seen from America growing on the moon. He described America’s system of government, the modest living of the president and how New Englanders were so industrious that they used their time on the lavatory to read. Amazingly, he dared criticise Japan’s ill-treatment of foreign ships in need of wood and water, and made a heartfelt plea for the opening of Japan, going so far as to put the American case for a coal-bunkering station in Japan to allow steamships to cross the Pacific from California to China.

Rather than being kept in prison, he was freed to visit his mother—in Nakanohana she showed him his memorial stone—and was even made a samurai. In Tosa (modern-day Kochi), he taught English to men who were later influential during the overthrow of the shogunate and the establishment of constitutional government in the Meiji period, from 1860. During negotiations in 1854 with Perry, Manjiro acted as an interpreter. Later, in 1860, he joined the first Japanese embassy to America. But as Christopher Benfey explains in “The Great Wave: Gilded Age Misfits, Japanese Eccentrics and the Opening of Old Japan” (Random House, 2003), if the terror of being lost at sea was the defining experience of Manjiro’s life, then his greatest gift to the Japanese was his translation of Nathaniel Bowditch’s “The New American Practical Navigator”, known to generations of mariners as the “seaman’s bible”.

As for Ranald MacDonald, though he was handed over by the Ainu and taken by junk to Nagasaki for interrogation, he was treated decently. With a respectable education and a gentle presence, he was clearly a cut above the usual rough-necked castaway, and he was put to teaching English. Some of the students who came to his cell later flourished as interpreters and compilers of dictionaries. The most notable, Einosuke Moriyama, served as the chief translator in Japan’s negotiations with Perry, as well as interpreter to America’s first consul to Japan, Townsend Harris…


The article gives a lot of interesting information, even if it strikes me a bit as if it’s from the perspective of overseas sources only. The labeling of Japanese ships as “junks”, for example, (junks are Chinese) is a bit of an indicator. And it concludes oddly. Read the final paragraph to the piece:

As for whaling around Japan, vestigial echoes reverberate. Every northern winter, Japan faces barbs for sending a whaling fleet into Antarctic waters. And why, asks the mayor of Taiji, a small whaling port, should Japanese ships have to go so far, suffering international outrage? Because, he says, answering his own question, the Americans fished out all the Japanese whales in the century before last.

Kerplunk. Er, so the whole article was leading up to justify this contention? It’s like putting a reggae conclusion on a classical piece.

Anyway, the whole article is worth a read as a holiday indulgence. See it at http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10278660

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

IMADR: Connect Mag on UN Human Rights Council’s first year


Hi Blog. Here’s a synopsis from Tokyo human rights group IMADR of how the new UN Human Rights Council is doing over its first year of existence. This has been discussed on Debito.org at the following links:

Economist: UN Human Rights Council in trouble (Posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2007)

A LOT of optimism attended the birth of the UN Human Rights Council, created last year by a 170-4 vote of the General Assembly. Whereas the United States kept on the sidelines (and confirmed this month it would stay away), many Western states saw the new body as an improvement on the discredited Human Rights Commission it replaced. But now some of the commission’s critics are fretting that the Geneva-based council may prove only a little better, or perhaps even worse, than its predecessor…

Economist: UN Human Rights Council “adrift on human rights” (Posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2007)

I’ve been trying to get an opportunity to speak at the UN HRC regarding the Otaru Onsens Case, yet these articles from the Economist keep coming out and offering bad news about the meetings I’ve missed. Would be nice to believe that human rights, from the organization which has established some of the most important conventions and treaties in history, still matter in this day when rules seem grey, and even the most powerful country in the world dismisses long-standing international agreements as “outmoded” and “quaint”…

UN.ORG on pushes to make sure HRC holds all countries accountable (Posted on Wednesday, July 25th, 2007)

The UN News has been issuing press releases to make sure the Human Rights Council doesn’t become as emasculated as the former Human Rights Commission–by holding all countries accountable with periodic reviews of their human rights records. Good. Japan in particular is particularly remiss, given its quest for a seat on the UNSC without upholding its treaty obligations…

UN News: UNHCR urges HRC to begin reviews of every country’s human rights record (Posted on Saturday, September 15th, 2007)

UN News agency press release reports: 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. 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.

Here’s IMADR. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
(click on image to expand in your browser)




Gregory Hadley on “Field of Spears”, re US POWs in Japan during WWII


Remembering those who fell in a ‘field of spears’
By ANGELA JEFFS, Contributing writer
The Japan Times: Saturday, Dec. 8, 2007

Courtesy of Gregory Hadley

A survivor of the B-29 crew is led from the village hall after being captured and tortured. PHOTO COURTESY OF VAL BURATI/GEORGE McGRAW

Greg Hadley — or professor Gregory Hadley, as he’s known in academic circles — is on his way home to Niigata. He has just completed the weekend JALT conference at Tokyo’s National Olympic Center.

“I go to the conference every year, this time seeking to recruit a new teacher for Niigata University. There’s a lot of talent out there, and it’s a good place to scout. Yes, I made contact with several highly qualified people. Now it’s a case of following them up.”

Hadley, who teaches American and U.K. cultural studies at Niigata University of International and Information Studies, says he normally spends his free time gardening and cooking meals for his Japanese wife.

He had absolutely no idea when he made a trip with a friend through the English Cotswolds in the summer of 2002, that he’d be asked the question that would lead him to write a book, “Field of Spears: The Last Mission of the Jordan Crew,” published this year by Paulownia Press.

“My friend asked why Niigata had been taken off the U.S. list of potential A-bomb attack sites in 1945. I’d lived in the city for years, and while remembering local stories about a B-29 bomber seen burning in the sky, this was news to me. Being the inquisitive, compulsive type, when I got back I asked around.”

What Hadley learned was that Niigata had been on the list until 10 days before the attack on Hiroshima. It was deleted because of its geographical location. Being surrounded by hills, the effects of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were contained to some degree. With Niigata sitting among rice paddies, the effects would have spread far and wide.

Kyoto (as well as the arsenal at Kokura) was originally on the list; it was thought that striking at the heart of Japanese history and culture would swiftly demoralize the population. But it was saved by the intervention of U.S. Secretary of War Henry Stimson, who had honeymooned in the city several years before.

“Having settled that, I became fascinated by that legendary B-29. Had it existed? If so, where had it come down? And what had happened to the crew? Fifty years had passed. Given the taboo of Japan not liking to talk about those dark days, would it be possible for me, a foreigner, to learn anything?” So began a three-year quest — a search that took him into small Japanese farming communities, dusty archives and mid-American townships, and to meet what he describes as “the quite exceptional members” of a POW support group in Japan.

“Initially I thought of my investigation as an academic exercise. But the narrative element took over, and I found myself seeking to portray the two very human sides to the story: those of the Japanese — mostly women, children and the elderly — who were exhausted and brutalized by the war effort, and the young American crewmen who were lost so far from home.”

Greg Hadley, a professor at Niigata University of International and Information Studies, spent three years uncovering the fate of the crew of a B-29 that crash-landed in Niigata in 1945. ANGELA JEFFS PHOTO

What he learned was that a B-29 Superfortress bomber attached to the U.S. Army Air Forces’ 6th Bombardment Group, with a crew of 11 and under the command of Capt. Gordon Jordan, took off from Tinian in the Mariana Islands on a routine night-mining mission to Niigata on the night of July 19, 1945.

“We know it was hit by antiaircraft fire, then crashed-landed in potato fields between the former villages of Yokogoshi and Kyogase. After that, the story becomes less clear.”

The Jordan crew’s last mission marked a number of firsts: the first time a B-29 was shot down over Niigata; the first time anyone parachuted into the prefecture; the first time for Japanese women, trained by the military to fight with bamboo spears, to use them against armed American soldiers.

“Bamboo spears were the military’s last desperate means of fighting off invasion. Remember that these women has lost husbands, sons and grandsons; some had lost all the men in their family. They were basically in deep trauma. Of course, nothing forgives what happened, but it does help explain it.”

What happened mirrors what happens in any war when enemy fall into the hands of terrified overwrought civilians. Echoes of Iraq indeed, Hadley confirms.

Though born in north Texas — “the panhandle” — Hadley has spent the last 15 years in Japan, with time out at the University of Birmingham in the U.K., where he studied the sociology of English language teaching and acquisition. As a result his accent has flattened out to such an extent that “often I’m mistaken for Canadian.”

What he likes about living and working here is that you can so easily meet like-minded people and contribute to different fields. Although you hit the glass ceiling of any one profession pretty quickly, you can spread outward, broaden your sphere of influence and activity.

“Right now I have no interest in returning to the States. I don’t like the country it has become. But that’s not to say I’m not interested, that I don’t care. I do.”

He came to care very much for the fate of the Jordan crew, four of whom died. When Hadley began his research five years ago, five survivors were still alive, in scattered communities throughout the States. All were suspicious of his initial approaches. One chose not discuss what were still painful memories. The son of one victim, a toddler when his father died, supplied his father’s wartime diary.

“I was also enabled to locate photographs of the incident, taken for a local newspaper. One shows the bodies of two crew members. “We’ll probably never know what really happened to them, but by piecing together statements I have a good idea.”

Quote: “Pandemonium broke out with the arrival of these two bodies. The keibodan tried to keep the villagers back, but such was their frenzied rage that they began to beat and abuse the bodies in various ways, such as those who pulled down the pants of Adams and put a sweet potato in his crotch.”

Another photograph (shots of captured U.S. servicemen are rare) shows a survivor — tied and blindfolded — being led from the village hall where he and his colleagues were kept that first night. Two more pictures show six survivors in the back of a truck, being taken to a POW camp in Niigata; a sheet covers what is most probably the body of a seventh airman who did not survive the night.

“Four men, including one who refused to leave the plane, died. While small in number, their fate mirrors many such incidents all over Japan. As for the rest, yes they survived, but the experience — and their treatment once they were taken to Tokyo — left scars which could never be erased.”

Encouraging local people to talk about what happened required great patience. As Hadley recalls: “It was easier to obtain declassified information and dig in the mud to still find pieces of the aircraft. Villagers were ashamed. ‘We were rice farmers,’ they told me, ‘but that night we saw our dark side, we became the war. ‘ ”

Those U.S. airmen who gave in to fear, trying to shoot their way out of trouble, signed their death warrants. Those who took the beatings and the indignities heaped upon them — such as the captain, who was tied to a post, then urinated and defecated upon — survived. It was an elderly Japanese who chased away the women and youngsters, and protected him until the Japanese military came to the rescue.

Hadley cannot thank enough all those who helped him put together the story of the Jordan crew. To see the book in print, receiving critical acclaim from the popular press and academic circles alike, and available through Amazon.com makes all the effort worthwhile.

“Before I began ‘Field of Spears,’ I spent three years debunking the myth about 300 POWs being dynamited in gold mines on Sado Island, as proposed by a New Zealand writer. Next I want to properly investigate POW Camp 5B in Niigata.”

On the flyleaf of the copy of the classy paperback Hadley so kindly gave me, it reads: Dedicated to those who made it back alive, but never survived the war. Below this, penned in ink: “In reading this book we become part of its history.”

A select number of signed copies of “Field of Spears” can be obtained from the author at hadley@nuis.ac.jp
The Japan Times: Saturday, Dec. 8, 2007

Kaoru/Coal manga on the “Mischievous Stealth Provocateur Debito”


Happy Boxing Day, readers. As another special treat, let me send you this manga created by fellow naturalized citizen Kaoru, who scribbles with great aplomb on a situation I’m bound to encounter sooner or later. In great manga style–so that’s how I look to some… Love it.

Blogged here with permission, original page at http://www.restall.org/2007/12/debito-mischievous-stealth-provocateur.html. Provocateur Debito in Sapporo

(Click on image to expand in browser.)

Holiday Cheer: Best of Duran Duran–ranking all their albums


Hi Blog, and Merry Christmas. I’m going to talk about something completely unrelated to Japan for a change. Duran Duran. Yes, the 80’s rock band. And give you a line up of both songs and reasons why you shouldn’t dismiss them too quickly.

(NB: If you don’t want to read my ponderings regarding the Durans as a phenomenon, page down to a listing of albums I would recommend if you want to give them a listen.)

It’s long been an open secret that I am a Duran Duran fan. Why, you may ask (and you would be forgiven) would a person like me (or for that matter, a person like anyone) like a band like them?

Well, of course there is no accounting for taste, especially musical, when so much is influenced by where you grow up–and what seems to be floating around the airwaves and the zeitgeist when you’re growing up. But Duran Duran caught me at just the right point in my musical-taste development to lodge themselves irretrievably into my playlists. Their RIO album took America by storm in 1982, and it got quite a lot of radio play in my Upstate New York hometown. Not to mention our hungering for any videos when we didn’t have cable (hence no MTV), meaning all we could do was wait for weekend morsels from “Friday Night Videos”. And the Durans (along with Billy Joel) made the most memorable vids. (To this day: Any time you have an 80’s tokushuu on MTV Japan, sooner or later you get a Duran in there. No wonder. You Tube Duran Duran or Arcadia and watch what you get.)

RIO was one of the first albums I ever bought with my own money (the first one was, for the record, Supertramp’s BREAKFAST IN AMERICA, and that album holds up very well too even if Supertramp itself fizzled out in the American market with their next album, …FAMOUS LAST WORDS…, which is still one of the most depressing albums I’ve ever heard). Even if “The Reflex” was wildly overplayed, and NOTORIOUS both as an album and a single pretty blah, I could still work backwards and discover enough gems on PLANET EARTH, move forward to their interesting outing on ARCADIA, and catch them live (they’re really good live, believe it or not) both on ARENA and at our local concert shell (where yes, they came to play in one of their frequent sales troughs; and I still have the concert shirt). Then as I got older and saw how dark and cynical the world is, Duran offered me solace and good tunes with fine outings like BIG THING and WEDDING ALBUM. Then I was sold well enough to forgive further foibles and stumbles they would make, culminating in the payoff of their two good recent albums ASTRONAUT and RED CARPET MASSACRE.

That’s what I mean by good happenstance. They just kept catching me at the right junctures in my life. But here are a few more objective reasons why you should give the Durans a second chance and at least a third listen:

1) They’ve been around for closing in on thirty years now. There’s a good reason for that. They keep crafting tunes and staying together long enough to have not one, but two, renaissances (first with top ten hits in the early 1990s, and again nowadays with their current lineup and great tunes all over again).

2) Their tunes are uniquely theirs. From Simon LeBon’s voice to Nick Rhodes’s colorful magenta and hot pink tones, you know you’re listening to a Duran Duran song when one comes on. Yet they have enough edge and guitar to keep people who like more rock than pop listening. Consider songs such as “Girls on Film”, “Rio”, and “Is There Something I Should Know?”–to cite three you probably have heard already. Like them or not, they’re quite unique. There are hundreds of imitators of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, U2, and all the supergroups (because they are so imitable). But who imitates Duran Duran? Who can?

3) Their lyrics are surprisingly deep at times. Really suggest you give them a try.

4) Duran Duran as a group makes me smile, even laugh. They don’t take themselves at all seriously. For example, watch the video for “View to a Kill”–and witness Simon’s awful pun at the end (and his face just before he gets blown up). When all the weight of the world is on one’s shoulders, putting them on cheers things up (so do the B-52’s, but they get a little too corny at times, especially to those who have gone through their Dr Demento Phase). In other words, they’re fun. And we all could use a little more fun in our lives.

5) Durannies are a great crowd to hang out with. It’s like being in any closeted minority–we learn how to have fun our own way.


Want to give Duran Duran a try? Here are my rankings of their best albums with the best tracks in descending order–based upon my star rankings (five stars being the best) in my iTunes folder. I only include tracks with four or five stars. The more tracks with high rankings, the higher I rank the album, so if you want to start somewhere, try the top albums. (NB: I haven’t included their greatest hits (DECADE), compilations (NIGHT VERSIONS, STRANGE BEHAVIOUR), live bootlegs, or singles.)

I also have sampled some of the songs on my Debito.org Podcasts, so if you want a preview, listen to the very end of the podcast and you’ll get a taste.

ALBUM IN CAPS, Track name in smalls:

Box Full o’ Honey (5 stars)
The Valley (5)
Red Carpet Massacre (5)
Skin Divers (4)
Tempted (4)
Tricked Out (4)
Zoom in (4)

BIG THING (1988)
Too Late Marlene (5 stars)
Land (5)
Do You Believe in Shame? (5)
Big Thing (4)
The Edge of America (4)
I Don’t Want Your Love (4–excerpted on my Dec 8, 2007 Podcast)
All She Wants Is (4)

Girls on Film (5 stars)
Tel Aviv (4)
Planet Earth (4)
Anyone Out There (4)
Careless Memories (4)
Is There Something I Should Know? (4)
Night Boat (4)

What Happens Tomorrow (5 stars–excerpted on my Nov 28, 2007 Podcast)
Reach Up For the Sunrise (5–excerpted on my Nov 12, 2007 Podcast)
Point of No Return (5–excerpted on my Nov 19 2007 Podcast)
Still Breathing (5)
Want You More! (4)
Finest Hour (4)

Come Undone (5 stars)
Ordinary World (5)
Breath After Breath (5)
None of the Above (4)
Sin of the City (4)

RIO (1982)
Last Chance on the Stairway (5 stars–excerpted in my Oct 20, 2007 Podcast)
The Chauffeur (5)
Rio (5)
New Religion (4)
Hungry Like the Wolf (4)

Lady Ice (5 stars)
El Diablo (5)
The Flame (4)
Keep Me in the Dark (4)
The Promise (4)

ARENA (Live) (1984)
New Religion (5 stars)
Careless Memories (4–excerpted on my Oct 13, 2007 Podcast, beware middling sound quality as it was my first podcast.)
The Chauffeur (4)
Planet Earth (4)
Is There Something I Should Know? (4)
The Wild Boys (4)

Be My Icon (5 stars)
Michael You’ve Got a Lot to Answer For (4)
Silva Halo (4)
Undergoing Treatment (4)

THANK YOU (1995)
Watching the Detectives (5 stars–excerpted in my Nov 5, 2007 Podcast)
Drive By (4)
Lay Lady Lay (4)
Crystal Ship (4)

Of Crime and Passion (5 stars–excerpted in my Oct 29, 2007 Podcast)
Shadows on Your Side (4)
The Reflex (single version–4)

LIBERTY (1990)
Serious (5 stars)
First Impression (4)
My Antarctica (4)

Winter Marches On (5 stars)
Hold Me (4)

POP TRASH (2000)
Playing With Uranium (4 stars–excerpted on my Dec 19, 2007 Podcast)

So you see, according to my tastes, however questionable, Duran Duran have gotten better over time. I’m glad I stuck with them. Here’s to many more years of good music, and hope to meet them someday.

Merry Christmas 2007, everyone! Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Tangent: Europe becoming passport-free. Contrast with Japan.


Hi Blog. Here’s evidence that other countries are putting up less immigration controls, not more (unlike Japan with its new fingerprinting policy, justified on overtly xenophobic grounds). Yes, the article mentions that border controls are toughening outside the Schengen Zone, but it’s still an amazing feat to be able to drive from Estonia to Portugal without a single passport check. Or, despite the multitude of languages, cultures, and differences in standard of living, fingerprinting at any border.

America should also take note (and I do believe it will within the next few years, given the rising voices talking about the damage being done the US by ludicrously tough border controls). So should Japan, which is taking advantage of things to go even farther.

Sure, I hear the counterarguments–Japan’s “shimaguni” island society and all that. But do you think that being surrounded by an ocean makes you insular and impregnable? It arguably easier to sneak into Japan than into landlocked countries! Which shows how even more useless these border controls are–when anyone who really wants to get in here surreptitiously just has to pay a boatman and then hop a rubber dinghy. More and more, Japan’s fingerprint policy just seems a useless taxpayer boondoggle. As does the American.

But I digress. Back to Europe. Debito in Sapporo

Passport-free zone envelops Europe
By Doug Saunders, Globe and Mail (Canada)
December 21, 2007 at 1:02 AM EST

Courtesy Monty DiPietro

PHOTO: Fireworks illuminate the border bridge between Poland and Germany in Frankfurt on Oder early Friday morning. A minute after midnight the European Union’s border-free zone is extended to the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. People from these nations can travel to the existing 15 states of the ‘Schengen’ border-free zone without having to show their passports. (Johannes Eisele/Reuters)

LONDON — As midnight approached in the centre of Europe yesterday, hundreds of border guards left their posts for good and began tearing down the last remains of the old Iron Curtain.

At the border of Germany and Poland, the guards spent the day removing kilometres of tall steel fence, leaving unmarked and unguarded fields between the two once hostile nations. On the road between Vienna and Bratislava, Austrian and Slovakian leaders met to saw through border-crossing barriers. In Estonia, the government put its border-inspection stations up for auction.

This morning, for the first time in history, you can drive from the Russian border in Estonia to the Atlantic beaches of Portugal, across 24 countries, without encountering a single border crossing or having to show your passport at any point.

For the people who live inside the core countries of the European Union and especially in the old Eastern Bloc, today marks a historic moment, the long-awaited expansion of the EU’s Schengen zone, a huge space, named for the Luxembourg town where it was first devised, in which national borders have been eliminated and 400 million people are treated as citizens of a single country.

The addition of nine new countries to this borderless zone today, eight of them formerly Communist members of the old Warsaw Pact, means that the distinction between the “old” and the “new” Europe is beginning to vanish and freedom of movement is expected to create an economic boom as eastern workers continue to move westward and carry their earnings back home.

“A freedom is being restored which this country has been wanting for a hundred years,” Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom said last night as he opened his country’s borders to Austria, Slovakia and Slovenia. Residents of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, who have been isolated since Czechoslovakia split apart in 1993, were delighted to discover last night that they no longer have a border between them.

So there was a mood of celebration yesterday inside Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta. But in the countries that now find themselves outside the borders of this free-living enclave, the mood was considerably different.

In Ukraine and Belarus, citizens made panicked last-minute shopping forays into Slovakia and Poland yesterday, loading their cars with meat, clothing, liquor, cigarettes, Christmas presents and automobile parts. The wait at the Poland-Belarus border, until last night a relatively lax crossing, was several hours long, with lines of cars and trucks backed up for dozens of kilometres.

As they crossed back eastward, it was easy to understand the alarm: Along a suddenly fortress-like border, hundreds of new border guards, equipped with high-technology surveillance equipment, were busy setting up a security cordon that has been two years in the planning and will make it far more difficult to enter Europe.

A 679-kilometre steel fence has been erected along the border of Belarus. Armed, fast-moving squads, known as Rapid Border Intervention Teams, monitor surveillance data. In eastern Slovakia, a large detention centre has been constructed along the Ukrainian border; it already houses dozens of people from as far away as Ghana who have recently tried to slip into Europe through this mountainous, sparsely populated frontier. It has room for hundreds more.

“It’s going to be a new Iron Curtain for all intents and purposes,” Samuel Horkay, a Ukrainian citizen who has discovered that it will be much harder to visit his mother in neighbouring Hungary, told the Bloomberg news agency yesterday. “That’s a strong way to put it, but Europe loves to guard its borders.”

That is the central paradox that lies behind today’s celebrations: Even as Europe is turning its national borders into historical footnotes — European Union countries currently have fewer independent powers, in most areas, than Canadian provinces do — the 27-nation federation is making entry from outside the EU far more difficult.

While the continent’s booming economies in places like Spain, Ireland and Britain (the latter two are not part of the Schengen zone) are hungrily trying to grab as many immigrants as they can in both skilled and unskilled fields, in order to fill hundreds of thousands of job vacancies, other countries such as France and Italy are facing unemployment and political crises over immigration. On the whole, there is a growing Western European consensus against non-European immigration.

While the borders are being toughened, many European citizens fear that the expansion of the Schengen zone will lead to increases in human trafficking, undocumented immigration and smuggling. One poll showed that 75 per cent of Austrian citizens are opposed to the expansion.

And the official responsible for Europe’s new high-security external borders, Ilkka Laitinen of the EU’s Warsaw-based Frontex border agency, agreed that freedom of movement is going to make it harder to control who lives in Europe, regardless of the level of border security. “It is a deliberate choice of the European Union to focus more on the free movement of persons than on security aspects,” he said.

Holiday Tangent: SAYUKI, Japan’s first certified NJ Geisha, debuts


Hi Blog. In the first of a series of tangents, here’s news of the first-ever NJ geisha. Anthropologist Liza Dalby (author of GEISHA) got close to the ranks, but never became a geisha herself. Sayuki has. Congratulations and best wishes for her future understanding this very closed world! Arudou Debito


Japan’s first ever foreign geisha
Courtesy of Sayuki

For the first time in the 400 year history of the geisha, a Westerner has been accepted, and on December 19, will formally debut under the name Sayuki.

Sayuki is specialized in social anthropology, a subject which requires anthropologists to actually experience the subject they are studying by participating in the society themselves.

Sayuki has been doing anthropological fieldwork in Asakusa – one of the oldest of Tokyo’s six remaining geisha districts – for the past year, living in a geisha house (okiya), and participating in banquets as a trainee. She has been training in several arts, and will specialize in yokobue (Japanese flute).

Sayuki took an MBA at Oxford before turning to social anthropology, and specializing in Japanese culture. She has spent half of her life in Japan, graduating from Japanese high school, and then graduated from Japan’s oldest university, Keio. Sayuki has lectured at a number of universities around the world, and has published several books on Japanese culture. She is also an anthropological film director with credits on NHK, BBC, National Geographic Channel programmes.

For further information please contact:

In English:

http://www.sayuki.net, sayuki.geisha@gmail.com

In Japanese:

お問い合わせ―所属事務所 マスターマインド
メールアドレスinfo@master-mind.jp www.master-mind.jp

Photographs are available for purchase and download at:

Photo by Kerry Raftis http://www.keyshots.com©

SAYUKI 花柳界歴史上初の外国人芸者


SAYUKI 花柳界歴史上初の外国人芸者
国籍 オーストラリア




お問い合わせ マスターマインド
メールアドレスinfo@master-mind.jp http://www.master-mind.jp

In English:
http://www.sayuki.net, sayuki.geisha@gmail.com

Photographs are available for purchase and download at:

Photo by Kerry Raftis http://www.keyshots.com©

GOJ now worried about aliens. No, not foreigners.


Hi Blog. It must be Christmas or New Year Holiday craziness (I too intend to limit myself to one blog entry per day, off the beaten track from the usual fare on Debito.org)–but get a load of this:

Japan’s defence minister braces for aliens
AFP Dec 19, 2007
Courtesy Monty DiPietro

TOKYO (AFP) — As Japan takes a more active role in military affairs, the defence minister has more on his mind than just threats here on Earth.

Shigeru Ishiba became the second member of the cabinet to profess a belief in UFOs and said he was looking at how Japan’s military could respond to aliens under the pacifist constitution.

“There are no grounds for us to deny that there are unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and some life-form that controls them,” Ishiba told reporters, saying it was his personal view and not that of the defence ministry.

Ishiba, nicknamed a “security geek” for his wonkish knowledge of defence affairs, noted that Japan deployed its military against Godzilla in the classic monster movie.

“Few discussions have been made on what the legal grounds were for that,” the minister said with a slight grin, drawing laughter from reporters.

Due to the US-imposed 1947 constitution, Japan’s de facto military is known as the Self-Defence Forces and has never fired a shot in combat since World War II.

But Japan has gradually sought a greater global military role, sending troops to support US-led operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ishiba said he was examining different scenarios for an alien invasion.

“If they descended, saying ‘People of the Earth, let’s make friends,’ it would not be considered an urgent, unjust attack on our country,” Ishiba said.

“And there is another issue of how can we convey our intentions if we don’t understand what they are saying,” he said.

“We should consider various possibilities,” he said. “There is no need at all to do this as the defence ministry, but I want to consider what to do by myself.”

Ishiba’s remarks came after the government this week said it had no knowledge of UFOs, prompting a surprise rebuttal from the top government spokesman.

“Personally, I absolutely believe they exist,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said on Tuesday.

Japanese Minister O.K.’s Fighting Godzilla
By MARTIN FACKLER The New York Times: December 21, 2007

TOKYO — Japan’s defense minister stirred a minor media squall after joking with reporters about possible invasions by space aliens and movie monsters during a regular news conference.

Responding to a question, Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba told reporters on Thursday that he was studying whether the nation’s pacifist Constitution would limit a military response to an attack by space aliens.

“There are no grounds to deny that there are unidentified flying objects and some life-forms that control them,” Mr. Ishiba said, smiling at first, but then launching into a straight-faced explanation. “If Godzilla attacked, that would probably be a natural disaster relief operation,” making military action legally permissible, he said.

But the legal grounds for mobilizing militarily against a U.F.O. would be less clear unless the aliens attacked first, he said.

The comments drew widespread disbelief here, coming after verbal gaffes that helped sink the previous prime minister’s administration, and days after the chief cabinet secretary, who is the government’s top spokesman, professed a belief in U.F.O.’s.

COMMENT: No mention if Godzilla or E.T. would be fingerprinted upon entry. Or whether E.T.’s “ouch” finger would fit properly into the biometric machinery.

An off-the-cuff remark here or there, okay. But this discussion has gone on too long and taken too much media and time from real govt. business. And these representatives of the world’s second biggest economy still want to be taken seriously? Are there not more important things to discuss, such as the ongoing Nenkin debacle? I told you in my most recent Japan Times essay that Japan’s legislative peerage was out of touch with reality. They lining up to prove it?

Somebody call a snap election and get these fools out. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Fingerprinting: How Yomiuri teaches J children that NJ are criminals


“Teach your children well…” Crosby Stills and Nash

Hi Blog. Courtesy Jason Topaz:

“Just to add a little more info in the fingerprinting issue: I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry, but the Yomiuri Shimbun had an online article a few weeks ago on their children’s section, explaining the fingerprinting scheme to children.

The article is at http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/kyoiku/children/weekly/20071201ya01.htm”>http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/kyoiku/children/weekly/20071201ya01.htm (and blogged at Debito.org here).

I have to say I was a little disturbed by the cartoon

which roughly translates as:

GIRL: This is how foreigners who come to Japan register their fingerprints at places like airports.

BOY: The aim is to protect against criminals and terrorists coming to Japan.

GIRL #2: But you have to properly manage the registered face photo and fingerprint information.

(note background drawing of foreigner whose nose is approximately the same size as the airplane flying by)

COMMENT: It’s not a matter of managing the information. It’s a matter of how you manage this policy so that you achieve your goals without defaming an entire segment of the population. As usual, the Yomiuri has no qualms about selling the policy as a crime-prevention measure (which it never was–until recently) against “foreign guests” even to children.

Thanks a lot for carrying the bias down to the more impressionable generations. Arudou Debito



ブロクの読者、こんばんは。きょうの件は、子供の教育ですが、どうしても子供にも「外国人はテロリスト・犯罪者」を助長しないといけないですか。日本におけるテロは漏れなく日本人に起こされ、国内犯罪はほとんど日本人に犯されているのでこの指紋採取再実施は無意味と無関係です。この措置は税金の使用の手段にすぎないとはっきり言いましょう。でも、これは子供に伝わるでしょうか。有道 出人




●イラスト スパイスコミニケーションズ(ごみかわ淳)


(2007年12月1日 読売新聞)

APEC line open to NJ residents at Kansai Int’l Airport (UPDATED 1/7/08–now it is not)


Hi Blog. For those travelling over the holiday season, here are some helpful letters for those going through Kansai International Airport (Kankuu, or KIX). It turns out NJ residents can go through the APEC Immigration Channel (business line). Print up these letters if the terms apply to you, show them at the border, and decriminalize yourself more efficiently. Courtesy of Martin Issott. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

(click on letter to expand in browser, Japanese and English)

Japan Times: My Dec 18 Zeit Gist column on premeditated xenophobia in Japan


Hello Blog. Here’s the last Japan Times column I’ll do this year–and it’s a doozy. I’m very happy with how it came out, and judging by the feedback I’ve gotten others are too.

It’s about how Japan’s xenophobia is in fact by public policy design, due to unchallenged policymakers and peerage politicians, and how it’s actually hurting our country. Have a read if you haven’t already.

Best wishes for the holiday season, Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan



Fingerprint scheme exposes xenophobic, short-sighted trend in government



Column 42 for The Zeit Gist, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2007

“Director’s Cut” of the article with links to sources at


Excellent illustration by Chris MacKenzie at the Japan Times website at


We all notice it eventually: how nice individual Japanese people are, yet how cold — even discriminatory — officialdom is toward non-Japanese (NJ). This dichotomy is often passed off as something “cultural” (a category people tend to assign anything they can’t understand), but recent events have demonstrated there is in fact a grand design. This design is visible in government policies and public rhetoric, hard-wiring the public into fearing and blaming foreigners.

Start with the “us” and “them” binary language of official government pronouncements: how “our country” (“wagakuni”) must develop policy for the sake of our “citizens” (“kokumin”) toward foreign “visitors” (rarely “residents”); how foreigners bring discrimination upon themselves, what with their “different languages, religions, and lifestyle customs” an’ all; and how everyone has inalienable human rights in Japan — except the aliens.

The atmosphere wasn’t always so hostile. During the bubble economy of the late ’80s and its aftermath, the official mantra was “kokusaika” (internationalization), where NJ were given leeway as misunderstood outsiders.

But in 2000, kicked off by Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s “sangokujin” speech — in which he called on the Self-Defense Forces to round up foreigners during natural disasters in case they riot — the general attitude shifted perceptibly from benign neglect to downright antipathy….






Depressed? Consult with Int’l Mental Health Professionals Japan


Hello Blog. How do you feel this time of year? Not too dusty, I hope. But I have to admit, I hate spending the Xmas-New Year Holidays in Japan. No semblance of a real Christmas atmosphere, absolutely boring nenmatsu-nenshi (TV’s Kouhaku is the pits), and no way for a Hokkaidoite like myself to get to a warmer clime unless we pay the minimum RT 50,000 yen airline connection “tax” to get to a bigger international airport.

Not that I’m blaming Japan (or Hokkaido–we have to do pennance somehow for our magical summers)–that’s just the way it is, and part of the dues of choosing to live and be a part of this society. But I still don’t like it.

I have my own strategies for dealing with it (writing, DVDs, trashy magazines, and pizza). For those who aren’t confident about their strategies and need some professional help, here’s information about a group in Japan called “International Mental Health Professionals Japan” which offers psychological services to an international clientele. Heard about it at a recent speech in Tokyo from Dr Jim McRae, President.

Given the state of mental health services in this country (generally pretty lousy; most Japanese quasi-“counselors” will probably unhelpfully attribute any mental issue involving a NJ to a matter of “cultural differences”, and Japan doesn’t even have certifications for clinical psychologists), this group is a boon. Some friends and I have had horrible experiences trying to check friends (who were acting mentally erratically to the point of presenting a clear and present danger to others) into mental clinics in Japan. Many clinics/mental hospitals simply won’t take foreigners (claiming, again, cultural or language barriers), advising us to “send them home” for treatment.

It’s nice to see professionals in Japan in the form of the IMHPJ below trying to help out. Spread the word.

Happy Holidays–or as happy as you can make them. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


What is IMHPJ?
(taken from their website and from a flyer I received from Dr Jim McRae)

IMHPJ is a multidisciplinary professional association of therapists who provide mental health services to the international communities in Japan. Members are working in private practices or mental health related organizations worldwide.

Founded in 1997, IMHPJ’s goals are to improve the quality, quantity, and accessibility of mental health services available to the international communities in Japan by:

–maintaining an up-to-date database of professional therapists, where you can find the professional profile of the therapist of your choice.
–providing a forum for discussing and making co-ordinated joint efforts related to important issues or events.
–encouraging a high standard of ethical and professional performance for mental health professionals.
–providing opportunities for continuing education for members.
–facilitating peer support and networking among members and with related Japanese mental health organizations.

Clinical Members hold a Masters Degree or higher and have supervised postgraduate clinical experience. Assocate Members work in fields related to mental health or are students or therapists not yet eligible for clinical membership.

IMHPJ is multidisiplinary, including Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Social Workers, Family Therapists, and Child Psychologists etc.

IMHPJ members offer a range of recognized theraputic approaches for the treatment of relationship issues, stress, anxiety, depression, abuse, cross-cultural issues, children’s emotional and educational problems, and many other issues. Many of our members also offer phone counseling.

Native speakers offer therapy in English, Dutch, German, French, Spanish, Japanese, and Polish. Some members are bilingual.

For more information, consult our website at:

Japan Today: Naturalized Chinese sues Hitachi for contract nonrenewal


Hi Blog. Here’s another lawsuit of note (sorry for not seeing it sooner).

Note the errroneous headline. This person is not a Chinese worker. She is a naturalized Japanese citizen, therefore a Japanese. Bishibashi for the copy editor (and the translation is pretty hokey too).

Quick comment follows article.


Hitachi sued by Chinese worker
Japan Today November 27, 2007

Hitachi is being sued for discrimination by a Chinese employee. The case is being watched by many major Japanese manufacturing companies because it’s quite a rare case that discrimination against their foreign workers becomes public.

The plaintiff graduated from a Chinese university and obtained a masters degree at a Japanese university. She joined Hitachi in 1994, and obtained Japanese citizenship during her career there. She is now 58 years old.

According to the plaintiff, after a one-year probation, she was hired by Hitachi and asked to work for a section dealing with China and assigned translation tasks. She was supposed to be given a full-time contract. But because of a working visa problem, she was given the status of a “non-regular staff,” which requires annual renewal of the contract. In April of 2004, Hitachi told her that they would not renew the contract.

In June of 2006, she sued Hitachi, saying, “The one-year contract as a non-regular staff is just an ad hoc measure, and I was virtually working full-time. There is no justification for making me quit.” In her suit, she has requested “confirmation of her rights in the contract,” unpaid salaries and 10 million yen compensation.

Hitachi says that she is just a non-regular worker whose contract had to be renewed annually and that the company let her go because her contract had finished.

However, on Oct 15, the plaintiff invited a former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, Hidenori Sakanaka, who is now a specialist in foreign worker issues in Japan, to court. Sakanaka questioned Hitachi’s appeal, saying, “The plaintiff was given a special status called ‘Specialist in Humanities / International Services.’ This special status is given only to those who work as full-time staff and never given to ‘non-regular staff’ because ‘non-regular staff’ is not a legally recognized labor status.”

A lawyer who specializes in corporate laws says, “It’s actually common for foreign workers to renew their employment contracts every three years in order to renew their visa. I think corporations generally don’t fire their foreign employees who work full-time.”

Hitachi has refused further comments on the case, saying it is still a court matter. However, Sakanaka says the Hitachi case is the tip of the iceberg. Since China is an important market for Japanese companies, labor problems with Chinese employees could become more common from now on, he says. (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)

COMMENT: The thing I don’t get about this article is that the plaintiff got Japanese citizenship while she was working at Hitachi, so why is visa and employment even an issue? Is she a Japanese worker or not? And did her work status not changed when she naturalized? And wow, this case is taking a long time, if she first filed suit in 2006!

Anyway, her case might help bring about some consistancy in the arrayed grey zone between perpetually-renewed contracted NJ and part-time J workers–something employers have been using to keep their staff disposable at will. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Yomiuri: GOJ to forbid employers from confiscating NJ passports


Hi Blog. Here’s some good news.

After much trouble with employers confiscating NJ worker passports (ostensible reasons given in the article, but much of the time it led to abuses, even slavery, with the passport retained as a Sword of Damocles to elicit compliance from workers), the GOJ looks like it will finally make the practice expressly illegal.

About time–a passport is the property of the issuing government, and not something a foreign government (or another person) can impound indefinitely. The fact that it’s been used as a weapon to keep the foreign Trainee laborer in line for nearly two decades speaks volumes about the GOJ’s will to protect people’s rights once they get here.

Glad this is finally coming on the books. Now let’s hope it gets enforced. Referential articles follow Yomiuri article:


Govt guidelines to forbid firms to keep foreign trainees’ passports
The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec 18, 2007
Courtesy Jeff Korpa and Mark Schreiber

The Justice Ministry looks set to stop companies that accept foreign trainees from confiscating trainees’ passports and foreign registration certificates, ministry sources said Monday.

The toughened ministry guidelines for host companies also state that preventing foreign trainees from traveling wherever they wish to go when they are off duty is unacceptable. Firms have been curtailing the movement of workers and holding on to passports and certificates to prevent such trainees from disappearing.

The ministry will likely release the guidelines this week and will notify organizations, including commerce and industry associations, that accept foreign trainees of the new rules.

The foreign trainee system was designed to enhance international relations by introducing foreign trainees to new technology and skills, but it often has been misused as an excuse to bring unskilled workers into the country.

Commerce and industry associations and organizations of small and midsize companies accept foreign trainees, who are introduced to companies to learn skills for up to three years.

Under the current system, foreign trainees receive one year of training followed by two years as on-the-job trainees. As the training year is not considered employment, such workers are not protected by the Labor Standards Law.

The new guidelines for the entry and stay management of foreign trainees are a revised version of the 1999 guidelines.

The new guidelines prohibit host companies from using improper methods to manage foreign trainees, such as holding their passports, and foreign nationals from being accepted through brokering organizations other than via authorized organizations

Also banned are misleading advertisements for the recruitment of host companies, such as those that say foreign trainees can be used to resolve a labor shortage.

The tougher regulations are aimed at preventing commerce and industry associations from becoming nominal organizations for accepting foreign trainees. This practice has seen brokering organizations exploit foreign trainees by introducing them to companies.

To prevent overseas dispatch organizations from exploiting foreign trainees, the new guidelines also include a measure that requires host companies to refuse to accept foreign trainees in the event a foreign dispatch organization is found to have asked them to pay a large deposit. The guidelines have been revised for the first time in eight years because companies that do not not qualify to take on foreign trainees have been taking a rapidly increasing number of such workers.

Japan scheme ‘abuses foreign workers’
By Chris Hogg BBC News, Tokyo, Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Japan Times Sunday, April 29, 2007 By MARK SCHREIBER Shukan Kinyobi (April 20)

POINT OF VIEW/ Hiroshi Tanaka: Japan must open its arms to foreign workers

Nearly 10,000 foreigners disappear from job training sites in Japan 2002-2006

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

For starters…
Arudou Debito in Sapporo



2007年12月18日 読売新聞
Courtesy of Tony Keyes and Mark Schreiber






(2007年12月18日 読売新聞)




In this issue of the Debito.org Podcast:

1) Debito’s latest Japan Times Column, which came out on December 18, on the beginning of the end: How Japan’s xenophobia and closed-mindedness towards the outside world is now clearly not only hurting non-Japanese residents, but also destroying Japan for everyone–putting its very position as Asia’s leader and representative in jeopardy.

2) James Fallows of the Atlantic Monthly writes more poignantly and succinctly on what’s wrong with fingerprinting at Japan’s border than Debito could ever hope to.

3) TV personality and music aficionado Peter Barakan is attacked by an unknown assailant in public–he and his hosts at a speech are pepper-sprayed, in a clearly-planned assault with even a rented getaway car. Even though the police track down the car, the spray, and even a person inside, no arrests are made!

Twenty five minutes. As always, Duran Duran and Tangerine Dream excerpts are included to soothe.

Himu Case: Tokyo District Court orders Sankei Shinbun to pay NJ damages for reporting erroneous al-Qaeda link


Hi Blog. We’ve had enough rotten news recently. Now for some good news.

A Bangladeshi by the name of Islam Himu (whom I’ve met–he’s on my mailing lists) was accused during the al-Qaeda Scare of 2005 of being part of a terrorist cell. And the media, particularly the Sankei, reported him by name as such. Detained for more than a month by the cops, he emerged to find his reputation in tatters, his business rent asunder, and his life irrevocably changed.

This is why you don’t report rumor as fact in the established media. And as we saw in the Sasebo Shootings a few days ago, the papers and the powers that be won’t take reponsibility even when they get it wrong.

So Mr Himu sued the Sankei. And won. Congratulations. A good precedent. Now if only could get the Japanese police to take responsibility when they overdo things. Well, we can dream.

News article, referential Japan Times piece, and other background follows. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Sankei newspaper ordered to compensate foreigner over Al Qaeda slur
(Mainichi Japan) December 11, 2007

The Sankei newspaper has been ordered by the Tokyo District Court to pay a foreigner 3.3 million yen in compensation for implying he was linked to Al Qaeda and plotting a terrorist attack.

The court found the paper had defamed 37-year-old company president Islam Mohamed Himu of Toda, Saitama Prefecture, and ordered it to compensate him.

“It was inappropriate to publish his name,” Presiding Judge Hitomi Akiyoshi said as she handed down the ruling.

Sankei officials said they were not sure how the company will react to the case.

“We want to take a close look at the ruling before deciding how to respond,” a Sankei spokesman said.

Court records showed that Himu was arrested in 2004 for forgery and fined 300,000 yen. The day after his arrest, the Sankei ran a front page story under the headline “Underground bank produces terror funds, man with links to top terrorists arrested.”

Sankei proceeded to write that Himu had links to high-ranking Al Qaeda members and was suspected of involvement in procuring funds for terrorism.

Alleged al-Qaeda link seeks vindication
Bangladeshi wants apology, claims he was falsely accused by police, press
The Japan Times April 2, 2005

A Bangladeshi businessman who was incorrectly alleged by police and the media last year as being linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist network is seeking vindication.

Investigators held Islam Mohamed Himu for 43 days but ultimately found he had no links to al-Qaeda.

Himu said that even since being freed, he has struggled to get his life and business back on track. He has filed a complaint of human rights violations with the Japan Federation of Bar Associations.

“I want to ask senior officials of the government or police: what was my fault?” Himu said in an interview.

“The Japanese police and media have destroyed my life,” said the 34-year-old, who runs a telecommunications company in Tokyo.

“I want them to apologize and restore my life,” he said, urging the government to help him obtain visas to make business trips to several countries that have barred his entry following the allegations.

Himu came to Japan in 1995 with his Japanese wife, whom he had met in Canada. After establishing a firm in Tokyo that mainly sells prepaid international phone cards, he obtained permanent residency in 2000.

Police arrested him last May 26 and issued a fresh warrant June 16. They alleged he had falsified a corporate registration and illegally hired two employees, including his brother.

While in custody, investigators mostly asked if he had any links to al-Qaeda, noting that a Frenchman suspected of being in al-Qaeda bought prepaid phone cards from him several times, according to Himu.

He said he tried to prove he had no connection with terrorists, telling police the Frenchman was one of several hundred customers and he had no idea the man used an alias.

However, police dismissed his claim, he said, and leaked to major media organizations, including Kyodo, their suspicions that he was involved with al-Qaeda, and all of them reported the allegations.

Himu said he believes police arrested him as a scapegoat even though they knew he had no link with al-Qaeda.

He was nabbed shortly after the media reported that the Frenchman had stayed in Japan in 2002 and 2003.

Prosecutors did not indict him on the first charge, while a court fined him 300,000 yen on the second charge. He was released on July 7.

Himu said the prosecutors’ failure to indict proves he was not an al-Qaeda member, but it did not necessarily constitute a public apology.

All his employees left following the release of the sketchy police information, and he now has 120 million yen in debts due to the disruption of his business, he claimed.

The Japan Times: Saturday, April 2, 2005


Japan Times and Asia Times articles on 2004 police Al-Qaeda witch hunt, Himu Case, and police detentions in Japan.


アルカイダ報道:産経新聞に330万円賠償命令 東京地裁


アルカイダ報道:産経新聞に330万円賠償命令 東京地裁
毎日新聞 2007年12月10日 19時48分 (最終更新時間 12月10日 20時48分)

 判決によるとヒムさんは04年、電磁的公正証書原本不実記録容疑などで逮捕され、出入国管理法違反で罰金30万円の略式命令を受けた。産経新聞は逮捕翌日に1面で「地下銀行でテロ資金 幹部と接触男を逮捕」との見出しで、ヒムさんがアルカイダ幹部と接触し、テロ資金の送金に関与した疑いがあるなどと報じた。【高倉友彰】

Mainichi Poll: 63% of Japanese favor immigration of unskilled foreign laborers


Hi Blog. I had a column in the Japan Times today talking about the mysterious perception gap between friendly, welcoming Japanese people, and a government which is expressly xenophobic and increasingly antipathetic towards foreigners. As further fodder for that claim, look at this interesting poll, where the majority of people aren’t falling for the media- and GOJ-manufactured fear of the outside world or the alien within. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

63% of Japanese favor allowing immigration of unskilled foreign laborers
(Mainichi Japan) December 17, 2007

More than 60 percent of people in Japan support accepting entry-level workers from overseas, in spite of the government’s policy of generally refusing such workers, a survey by the Mainichi has found.

In a nationwide telephone poll conducted by the Mainichi, 63 percent of respondents agreed with accepting foreign entry-level workers. Another 31 percent were against the idea, citing reasons such as that it would have a negative effect on Japanese employment or public peace.

A special employment plan approved by the Cabinet in June 1988 agreed to actively accept specialist and skilled foreign workers, but to take a “cautious” approach with regard to entry-level workers, and as a result, foreign unskilled laborers are generally refused entry to Japan.

When questioned about the government’s policy, 58 percent of respondents in the survey agreed with accepting unskilled foreign workers in fields where there was a lack of workers. Five percent said entry-level foreign workers should be accepted unconditionally.

When the 31 percent of respondents who said that such workers should not be accepted were asked to give a reason for their stance, 51 percent replied that it would have a negative effect on the employment and working environments of Japanese nationals. Another 35 percent said that public security would worsen, while 10 percent said trouble would occur as a result of differences between customs. Three percent cited an increased burden in areas such as social security costs and education costs.

When asked who would cover social security and education costs, the answers “the businesses employing the workers” and “industries that need workers” each received 38 percent. The answers “foreign workers themselves,” and “the whole public” each marked only 11 percent.

Hidenori Sakanaka, head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, who formerly served as a director of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, said Japan’s entry into an age with a dwindling population was behind the rising acceptance of allowing entry-level workers into Japan.

“Another reason is probably that the relationship with foreigners in Japan has taken a turn for the better,” he said. Sakanaka added that the work done by entry-level workers, such as nursing and work in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industry, required specialist knowledge and skills, as well as the ability to adapt to Japanese society, and was certainly not simple. He added that a system to accept foreigners under a policy of cultivating human resources was urgently needed.
(Mainichi Japan) December 17, 2007

毎日新聞世論調査:外国人労働者容認63% 雇用悪化に懸念も


毎日世論調査:外国人労働者容認63% 雇用悪化に懸念も
毎日新聞 2007年12月16日 19時16分
Courtesy Mark Schreiber













毎日新聞 2007年12月16日 19時16分 (最終更新時間 12月16日 21時02分)

Steve King on Gaijin Carding experience: Racially-Profiling Japanese citizens too? Plus his protest letter to JNTO


Hi Blog. Here’s a great little report from friend Steve King, on how he dealt with gaijin-carding police (and very well, too, to my mind). Great story, and questions asked properly and to the letter. Don’t make a racially-profiling J cop’s job easier. Make sure you let them know you know your rights.

Interestingly enough, Steve’s cop indicated that he would be carding Japanese citizens too. This is actually illegal under Japanese Law for citizens unless there is probable cause, so it’s probably a lie. But if a representative of the almighty police in this country are becoming that insistent, I guess when it happens to me (and you just know it’s going to, again), it’s going be worked out down at the Cop Shop… Ulp.

Anyway, Steve’s report follows, along with a letter he sent regarding this incident to the Japan National Tourist Organization. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Subject: Carded for the First Time
Date: December 17, 2007 11:34:43 AM JST

Hi Debito,

Had an interesting encounter outside JR Koenji Station in Tokyo on my way to work this morning – I got ‘Gaijin Carded’ for the first time in over 11 years of living in Japan. I am now no longer a ‘Gaijin Card Virgin’ :O)

A few things were interesting. First up, he – a Mr. Akiyasu Nishimura of Suginami Ward Police Office – asked for my passport, not my Alien Reg. Card. When I said I didn’t have it, he asked if I was a Japanese Citizen. When I replied that I am not a Japanese Citizen, he asked for my passport again.

I asked him why (in Japanese) and he just said, in English, ‘Because of Japanese Law’. So I asked his name and for his ID, which he produced with a smile and I jotted down his name. Then I said that since I lived in Japan, I don’t carry my passport around with me so I’ll be on my way. Then he caught up with me again and asked for my Alien Reg. Card. I asked him why, and again he repeated the reason, ‘because it’s the law’…

I then asked him if he was also asking Japanese citizens randomly on the street to produce ID. To my great surprise, he said that he was. He claimed to also be asking Japanese people to produce their Health Insurance, Driving Licenses and such.

To cut a long story short (this exchange went back and forth for about 10 minutes or so), he said it was the law for Foreign Nationals to carry their Alien Reg. Card and that he needed to see mine. I eventually relented and showed him my card, which he didn’t seem to really show much interest in, just giving it a perfunctory glance.

At the end I asked him if he wasn’t ashamed to harass people on the street for their ID on their way to work and what this means for the Japan Tourist Board’s ‘Yokoso Japan’ activities. He just shrugged and said well, you might carry your Alien Reg. Card but there are many others that don’t, and we don’t know until we ask..

He was a pleasant enough fellow and smiled throughout the exchange and of course, is just another guy carrying out the policies and orders of others, but I can’t say I enjoyed the experience of being carded outside the station I use every morning and a small crowd of onlookers gathering to see what the fuss is about..

I’m sure you’ve read many such anecdotes, but I wonder if it’s interesting to you that he asked if I was a Japanese citizen? Maybe the police have gotten wind of your campaigning on the basis of not judging a person’s citizenship status by skin colour alone and asked the police to check first? I dunno..

Also, what do you think of this guy’s insistence that he was also stopping and questioning Japanese citizens? I stopped and watched him from a suitable vantage point for a few minutes and watched him – he certainly didn’t stop any Japanese people during that time. Was this not a blatant lie on his part?

Anyway, given any more thought to running for office yet?

Steve King

PS: Now I think back to it, what I think he meant was (his English wasn’t great and he insisted on using it despite my demonstrably more than passable Japanese) that if he encountered a ‘foreign-looking’ person who claimed to be a Japanese citizen, he would then ask for some ID in order to obtain proof of this. I don’t think he meant that he would be as likely to stop ‘Japanese looking’ people on the street randomly.

Incidentally, there are four foreign staff where I work. Out of the four, three have been carded in this way over the last month or so (One guy got carded twice in one day, at his home station and at Koenji). The only one of us four foreigners working here who hasn’t been carded is a Nisei Japanese American. The guy that gets carded the most is an Australian of Lebanese extraction. SK


Hi Debito, In a bad and sarcastic mood after this morning, I decided to email JNTO UK about the ‘Yokoso Japan’ campaign. I BCCd you on it. Feel free to pass it on to others who may want to contact JNTO Offices in their own home countries. List here:


Cheers, Steve

From: Steve King
Subject: “Yokoso Japan”
Date: December 17, 2007 9:29:42 PM JST
To: info@jnto.co.uk
Dear Sir / Madam,

Re: Police / Immigration harassment of Foreign Nationals and the “Yokoso Japan” campaign.

I am writing to express my concern over the recent increase in the harassment, invasion of privacy, humiliation and general unfriendliness on the part of the Japanese government, police and immigration officials towards foreign nationals in Japan, and the effect this will have on your otherwise laudable “Yokoso Japan” campaign.

As you will be aware, since the end of last month foreign nationals have been required to undertake mandatory fingerprint checks at international airport checks throughout Japan, despite no clear or sensible rationale for this measure being offered by the Japanese government for its implementation. “Yokoso” in English of course means “Welcome”, and one wonders precisely how welcome tourists from the UK visiting Japan for the first time must feel after they step off the plane at Narita Airport and have to undergo this kind of humiliation.

I, however, am not a tourist in Japan, but a British National who is a long term resident. Today I was stopped outside of JR Koenji police station by a member of the Tokyo Suginami Ward Police Department, who subjected me to a series of questions and demands that I produce my Alien Registration Card for him to see. This has been happening a lot recently, and several of my colleagues have experienced similar kinds of hassle and intrusion into our lives. No clear explanation from the Japanese government has been offered to the foreign community for this. Is this “Yokoso Japan”? I certainly don’t feel very “Welcome”.

If this continues, I suggest that JNTO abandons the “Yokoso Japan” campaign as it is obvious to everyone that Japan does not, in fact, welcome foreigners. May I suggest an alternative campaign?

I suggest you re-title the campaign “Japan ni Konaide!”, and perhaps the following ideas for a poster campaign may be appropriate:

1. Instead of a picture of Mt. Fuji’s serene beauty, you could have a picture of foreign tourists being fingerprinted by uniformed officials at Narita Airport. The caption reads, “We think you’re all criminals. Please don’t come here”
2. Instead of a picture of a peaceful garden in a Kyoto temple, you could picture a foreigner being questioned by a policeman for no good reason on the street in the rain. The caption reads, “If you don’t look Japanese, our Police Force have some unwelcome questions for you”
3. Instead of a picture of an inviting plate of sushi, I suggest a picture of a family deciding whether to visit Japan or not, poring over some brochures. The caption reads, “Hmmmm.. No, I don’t think so. I’ve heard the people are not so friendly or welcoming”

Indeed, several of my family members in the UK were planning to visit Japan next April and spend a couple of weeks here. I’ve decided to tell them to cancel that trip, and we will all fly to Thailand instead. The people and government of Thailand have a much more welcoming and mature attitude towards people who visit their fine country.

Best Regards, Steve King, Fuchu City, Tokyo, Japan.

Search for Lindsay Ann Hawker’s suspected killer goes on–at grassroots level


Hi Blog. Here’s an article from the Japan Times on how the NJ grassroots are trying to do what the J cops couldn’t do themselves–catch suspected killer Ichihashi Tatsuya (on the lam since March 2007) through leafletting and awareness-raising campaigns. Bravo.

Meanwhile, the cops do have notices out at police boxes with Ichihashi’s mug shots (even though the record shows they had the chance to apprehend him once before, and even watched him escape from his apartment), to no avail. Rumors are rife that he’s flitting about Japan being shielded by money-sending parents or underground communities. “Crime expert” Kitashiba Ken was on Dec 16’s TV “Koko made itte iinkai?” Debate show (an excellent program shown throughout Japan, except Kanto) speculating that he was being hidden by the Gay Community in Shinjuku 2-chome, or perhaps around Kyoto, where apparently (according to Kitashiba, full of reliable opinions found in reliable magazines, such as the late GAIJIN HANZAI URA FILE) lots of Kyoto faces look like his (a point greeted with much scoffing in the Kansai-based panelists). People don’t think he’s fled the country, in any case.

Okay, so find him, then. Japanese cops have little problem devoting their energies to stopping and checking foreigners as suspected criminals at the border or for walking, cycling, or living in an apartment while gaijin. Oh, wait, sorry, the requirement for probable cause only counts for the natives. Best thing to do is look somehow like a Kyoto person, I guess.

Good job on the leafletters below for doing something. And if you’d like to buy a T-shirt publicizing Ichihashi’s face, see link from Debito.org here. Debito in Sapporo


Hawker’s friends try new appeal
By KAZUAKI NAGATA, Staff writer
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007

Paul Dingwell (right) hands out leaflets Sunday in Tokyo’s Harajuku district, urging people to come forward with any information that could lead to the arrest of Tatsuya Ichihashi, who is wanted in the March slaying of Lindsay Ann Hawker. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO

Friends of slain Briton Lindsay Ann Hawker issued a public appeal Sunday in Tokyo’s crowded Harajuku district for any information that might help police track down her alleged killer, Tatsuya Ichihashi, who has been on the run since the March slaying at his apartment.

About 10 people — friends of the slain English teacher and their supporters — turned out at Jingubashi Bridge in T-shirts bearing a photo of Ichihashi and distributed leaflets also bearing his image, along with the phrase “We can’t sleep until this man gets arrested” and other information about the case. “What we’re doing today is just making people aware that they should not allow him (Ichihashi) to get away with this,” said Paul Dingwell, the main organizer of the event and a friend of Hawker’s, who was a teacher at Nova Corp.

Hawker’s nude corpse was found March 26 buried in sand in a detached bathtub on the balcony of Ichihashi’s condo in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture.

Dingwell said he has been in contact with Hawker’s parents and recently received T-shirts and posters. He prepared about 1,000 copies to hand out to people to energize awareness of the case. “It’s coming up (on) Christmas,” Dingwell said. “This is going to be (the Hawkers’) first Christmas without Lindsay.”

Hawker was bicycling home March 21 near JR Nishi Funabashi Station when Ichihashi approached her and asked for a private English lesson, then followed her to her apartment, according to earlier reports. When he asked for a glass of water, Hawker let him into the apartment, apparently feeling safe because a roommate was present.

Ichihashi drew a sketch of Hawker on paper with his name and number. Hawker apparently agreed to give him an English lesson. She was seen March 25 with Ichihashi near Gyotoku Station in the vicinity of his condo.

When Hawker was reported missing and Gyotoku police were given the sketch, they sent several officers to Ichihashi’s condo to confront him.

Ichihashi opened the door when the officers knocked but then fled down a fire escape. Dingwell said he heard from Hawker’s parents that Ichihashi may have been sighted about a week ago near the Odakyu Line in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. A witness saw a man wearing gloves and a mask acting in a strange manner, but his eyes resembled those of Ichihashi. Dingwell said the sighting may not have been reliable but noted it’s important to raise awareness of the case.



Hi All. One more before we enter the holiday season:

Contents as follows:



…and finally…
with links to more than two months’ of previous podcasts…

By Arudou Debito, Sapporo Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
Daily blog updates at http://www.debito.org/index.php

A note before we start: I’ve heard from at least one party that my previous essay style (with excerpts, comments, and segues to the next topic) is preferable to my quick RSS summary-and-link style, first tried last newsletter. However, RSS style saves me literally *hours* of preparation per week–and is far more sustainable. If you have a preference either way, please let me know at debito@debito.org. More essay-style reports will still be available in my podcasts (see item 9 below).

On with the Newsletter:



My last column of the year in the Japan Times (number 42) will be on the aftermath of fingerprinting, and how at this juncture it spells the beginning of the end for Japan’s future as Asia’s #1 economy. For no longer is Japan’s xenophobia merely dismissible as a social development “lag” or a “cultural misunderstanding”–it’s a clear design by the powers that be to change treatment of the Gaijin from benign neglect to outright antipathy. Japan is thus trying to sour the milk of economic benefits for those who try to emigrate here. For after all, any foreigner here is only here to make money, right? They should entertain no thoughts of staying. Meanwhile, Japan as a whole is suffering economically, and those making such short-sighted policies will not be alive to see its faster-growing Asian neighbors (such as China) overtake a geriatric and ethnically-cleansed Japan as the new leaders of Asia.

Have I gotten you interested? Buy the Japan Times next Tuesday. I’m really quite proud of how this one turned out.



The media this time was very good about the recent shootings in Sasebo, Kyushu, where a tall perp entered a gym and shot several people. But some media were quick to speculate that a gaijin or a black person dunnit, based upon how tall the perp was (and the fact that Sasebo has a US military base). With information about an alleged stalking of one of the gym members, and an “expert” personality profile from a Sophia U prof named Fukushima Akira that the gunner was very likely a gaijin being influenced all the recent shootings in the USA!

Don’t hold your breath for any retractions. The Mainichi certainly hasn’t in its follow-up reporting, and Fathead Fukushima has gone back down his bolt hole…



On Dec 8, 2007, famous TV NJ Disk Jockey and commentator Peter Barakan was attacked with four others by an unknown assailant, who sprayed them with mace shortly before he was to give a speech. The assailant got away in a rental car, meaning the crime was quite premeditated. Peter Barakan himself answers Debito.org, and notes that even though they tracked down the car (with the mace and a driver inside), nobody was arrested. Try doing that to a Japanese public figure and see what happens. Is this the next rung on the ladder regarding treatment of NJ in Japan? Dave Spector, lock your doors…



The Australian Magazine on a Kanagawa Police rape case investigation: “At the [police] station, [the victim] says she was denied medical treatment during the first six hours, though bruised, scraped and suffering a whiplash injury from the force of the assault. The attitude of the policemen throughout was coarse and mocking. She says no attempt was made by the police to preserve bodily samples as evidence. “Not only the rapist but even the Japanese police contributed to an abridgement of my civil and human rights,” she says. “I begged to be taken to a hospital from the onset of reporting the incident, but my pleas were repeatedly denied.” Even after finally being taken to a nearby hospital about 9 a.m., she says she was returned to the station about midday for a further three hours of questioning… And, at the end of it all, the Kanagawa police decided against charging [the alleged rapist]…”

Yet another case to show how crime is treated by police in Japan, where if it’s NJ on NJ crime, it’s ignored.



The Economist Newsmagazine had a 14-page Survey on Japanese Business in their Dec 1, 2007 issue. It’s pretty crappy. Not only does the author overstretch a “hybrid car” metaphor to describe Japan’s economy, he even contrasts it with some kind of “Anglo-Saxon capitalism” (as if there is such a clear contrast or even such a concrete economic model).

The author winds up making what could have been an interesting survey into a graduate-school term paper. Feels like he swallowed the lines fed him by the GOJ Gaijin Handlers, that Japan’s economics and business practices are that transparent and quantifiable.

He also seems to have answered my past complaint that The Economist ignores foreign workers whenever they talk about Japan’s demographics. One line–only one–is included in the 14-page Survey saying immigration “is not culturally acceptable in Japan”. Relegating things beyond one’s own ability to understand as a matter of “culture” is the lazy person’s analytical approach. Further critique and links to the Survey articles included.



Mainichi Waiwai: “”All the Japanese ever do is complain about us,” a Japanese-Brazilian resident of the Homi Danchi housing estate tells Spa! “They don’t accept us at all. We try to greet them and they just ignore us. They don’t want to have anything to do with us.”

“And here’s where Homi can serve as a harbinger. Danchi housing estates across Japan are losing their inhabitants as the country’s population shrinks. Japan’s current population of 126 million is estimated to drop below 100 million by 2050 unless something is done. More than likely, foreigners are going to be needed to make up for the lost 20-odd million. More and more public housing estates are going to become like Homi, where over half the current 8,000 inhabitants are non-Japanese.”

Bonus points given to the people who dealt with soundtruck bullies shouting “foreigners go home” at Homi Danchi–they firebombed them!



Several news articles on former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori, who took refuge in Japan as a “citizen” for five years before buggering off to Chile, on his eventual sentencing to 6 years’ prison on some charges (more charges to come)–with a little something on what this means for the world’s dictators on the lam. A couple of debates on Debito.org on whether Fujimori was actually a Japanese citizen or not, but in any case, it’s academic now–and a good precedent…



UN News: The freedoms upheld in the historic United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights must be enjoyed by everyone, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Dec 10, 2007 on the occasion of Human Rights Day… The UN’s independent rights experts marked the Day with a call for the elimination of the twin scourges of discrimination and exclusion. “Discrimination continues to distort the economic, social and political contours of societies,” the UN special procedures mandate holders — ranging from rapporteurs and experts to working groups — said in a joint statement. “Individuals and communities face discrimination and exclusion on the basis of their race, ethnicity, religion, language, sex or sexual orientation amongst many other grounds.” The group emphasized that if left unchecked, the consequences of discrimination and exclusion “can begin to create fault lines within society between those who have full rights, justice and dignity respected, and those who do not.


…and finally…

I haven’t said much about my podcasts until now, as I wasn’t comfortable with the format. Eight podcasts later, I’m startiing to get used to it well enough to tell you they’re worth your time. Link below to last week’s. I’ll have the next one out by Tuesday night, where I’ll be reading my next Japan Times column.

Contents for Debito.org Podcast for December 8, 2007:
1) “Jinken Shuukan”: Dec 4-10 Human Rights Week In Japan–What The Official Goals are for This GOJ-Sponsored Event, and How They’re Fundamentally Flawed.
2) Racial Profiling At Toyoko Inn Hirosaki, Part And Parcel Of Toyoko Inn’s Nastiness Towards Non-Japanese and Wheelchair Customers. Suggest A Boycott….

Download in mp3 format, or listen live at Trans Pacific Radio
More than two months of podcasts (so far) archived at:


That’s all for today. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
Daily blog updates at http://www.debito.org/index.php



皆様おはようございます。有道 出人です。いつもお世話になっております。





Sources at the sports club said that recently Kuramoto had been stalked by a foreigner.

『「迷彩服だった 色が黒かったから黒人だ」と言う人が多かった』



宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人(あるどう でびと)
December 16, 2007



佐世保銃乱射 「外国人のようだった」との目撃情報も
産經新聞 2007.12.14 23:39


佐世保乱射事件 犯人像は? 外国人の可能性も
産經新聞 2007.12.15 00:32


佐世保乱射事件 笑顔絶やさぬ倉本さん 「外国人につきまとわれていた」との情報も
産經新聞 2007.12.15 00:49


Sources at the sports club said that recently Kuramoto had been stalked by a foreigner.



Courtesy Chris Gunson




Sasebo Gym Shooting: Some media speculates that a NJ did it


Hi Blog. Probably by now most of you have heard about the shooting in Sasebo, Kyushu, where an unknown assailant walked in and shot several people, killing two.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20071215a1.html (only one death mentioned).

Then came the speculation whodunit. The perpetrator was described as wearing camouflage pants and a white jacket, with his face covered. His height (170 to 190 cms, quite a variation). The Japan Times article above (and a Sankei article below) insinuated that there might have been organized crime involved. NHK left nationality out completely as a factor. Most other press was very good about not spreading rumors about the perp being a foreigner due to his height (and also because Sasebo has a US military base). It turned out that the perp was probably, after all, a Japanese.

But not all media was so responsible about keeping their rumors to themself. NTV, Sankei and Mainichi reports follow:


Here are some screen captures, courtesy Alex Miller. News Zero (NTV) Dec 14, 2007, quoting a bystander witness at the sports club, but feeling the need not only to air the speculation, but even subtitle it (click on image to expand in your browser):
“Many people said, “He was wearing camouflage, dark colored, he’s a black person.'”
“A person said, ‘I think the shooter was a black person.'”


Sankei articles reproduced in total, with select translations within (love the one with the fatheaded Sophia U professor speculating on why it’s a foreigner):

Sankei Shinbun:
Headline: “Witnesses also say, ‘[The Shooter] looked like a foreigner'”
佐世保銃乱射 「外国人のようだった」との目撃情報も

産經新聞 2007.12.14 23:39


Sankei Shinbun: “Sasebo Shooting: Perp profile? Quite possibly a foreigner”
佐世保乱射事件 犯人像は? 外国人の可能性も

産經新聞 2007.12.15 00:32

Fukushima Akira, Professor Emeritus at Jouchi/Sophia University (Criminal Psychologist) conjectures, “I can envision that the perp had some kind of great stress. A guy with no money, no job, no friends. That kind of a person commits a crime like this to become heroic. There’s plenty of possibility that the perp was a foreigner who was influenced by all the shootings going on in the USA.”


Sankei Shinbun headline: “The ever-smiling [killed gym staff member] Ms. Kuramoto, ‘She was being stalked by a foreigner'”
佐世保乱射事件 笑顔絶やさぬ倉本さん 「外国人につきまとわれていた」との情報も

産經新聞 2007.12.15 00:49


[Note how there’s lots of information in the article, but only the last line, which contains any information about the alleged gaijin stalking, is the one which makes the headline.]

Now let’s switch into English, with two Mainichi articles courtesy Mark Mino-Thompson:


Fatal shooting hits Nagasaki sports club
Mainichi Shinbun Dec 14, 2007

SASEBO, Nagasaki — Two people died and several others were injured after a gunman opened fire at a sports club here Friday, police and other sources said.

An emergency phone call was received from the Renaissance Sasebo sports club in the city at 7:13 p.m. Friday, reporting a noise like an explosion. A subsequent report said it appeared that a rifle had been fired.

When officials arrived, they found a woman collapsed at the scene. She was taken to a hospital but was confirmed dead. The woman was subsequently identified as Mai Kuramoto, 26, a worker at the club. Reports said she had died almost instantly after being shot.

Officials said a man in his 30s was also shot in the stomach and died.

At least five other people, including a 48-year-old man, a 39-year-old man and two girls aged 10 and 9, were reported injured.

Sasebo Police Station officials said the shooter was between 170 and 180 centimeters tall, and was wearing a full-faced helmet and a silver-gray jacket. Reports said that he fled the scene on foot.

Sources at the sports club said that recently Kuramoto had been stalked by a foreigner.

The sports club, which has a training gym and pool, occupies the second, third and fourth floors of a four-story building. It is located in a central but quiet area of the city next to a park.


And the update (minus any apology) later…..


Suspected gunman in Sasebo shooting rampage commits suicide with shotgun
Mainichi Shinbun Dec 15, 2007

SASEBO, Nagasaki — A man believed responsible for a deadly shooting rampage that left two people dead and six injured at a sports club here was found dead in the grounds of a church early Saturday, apparently after he committed suicide, police said.

Investigators singled out a 37-year-old man with a registered shotgun as the suspect in the deadly shooting, which occurred at the Renaissance sports club in Sasebo on Friday evening.

Police launched a search for the man, and found him dead in the grounds of a church about 5 kilometers southwest of the shooting scene at about 7:35 a.m. on Saturday. He was identified as Masayoshi Magome, a resident of the Funakoshi district of Sasebo.

A single gunshot was heard in the area at about two hours earlier. Police said the man was clutching a shotgun, leading them to suspect that he committed suicide.

In the predawn hours of Saturday, a white van that Magome was believed to have abandoned was found on a road in front of the church. Two shotguns, an air rifle and camouflage gear were recovered from the vehicle.

The gunman entered the sports club shortly after 7 p.m. on Friday, and fired a shot from the entrance on the second floor towards a hall in the building as he walked forward. He then moved into an office behind a counter and fatally shot 26-year-old part-time employee Mai Kuramoto, who was with a group of children. He then turned the gun on Yuji Fujimoto, a 36-year-old fishing industry worker at the club, killing him.

Kuramoto died almost instantly in the shooting, while Fujimoto died of shock from multiple pellet wounds shortly after.

On Friday evening, Magome had invited Fujimoto and several other people to the sports club, and statements from his friends led police to single him out as the suspect. Magome was reportedly a classmate of Fujimoto during junior high school.

Also injured in the shooting were the 48-year-old club manager, a 39-year-old Sasebo Municipal Government worker, a 46-year-old man, a 22-year-old female instructor at the club, and two girls, aged 9 and 10.

The gunman temporarily holed himself up in the office, but then he fired other shots from the side of the pool at the club. He apparently fired at least six shots before fleeing on foot, carrying the shotgun. He was wearing camouflage gear and a full-face helmet.


COMMENT: It seems they were all wrong. I would just love for these media organizations (and that Sophia prof emeritus Fukushima Akira) to take responsibility and retract their conjectures. But I guess that’s errant speculation on my part.

Meanwhile, let’s hope the next shootist in Japan isn’t so tall, or hairy, or broad-shouldered, or cruel, or nearby–or else we’re going to have people kicking into default (and encouraged thusly by the media) that a gaijin musta dunnit. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

MG International ballet school in Tokyo Azabu refuses Pakistani child–with responses from school & people who were refused


Hi Blog. Report from Ms Amira Rahman, the wife of a foreign diplomat, Mr Rahman Hamid, Commerce Section, Embassy of Pakistan in Tokyo, who received a terrible shock when trying to enroll their 3-year-old daughter in a Tokyo ballet school.

Letter of protest from the Pakistani Embassy (click on image to expand in browser):

Report follows. Contact courtesy of the Tokyo With Kids.com website forum. Text authored by Ms. Amira Rahman, adapted by Arudou Debito from the original. Copious debate and comments follow.


Dear Sir,

I am a wife of a foreign diplomat representing the Government of Pakistan, and we wanted our little girl to start ballet (she is almost 4)–we thought she would look soooo cute in a tutu.

The place we went to enroll her MG International Arts of Ballet located in Photo house MG Hall, 5-5-9 Azabu Minato Ku Tokyo, December 13th 2007, around 4pm.

東京都港区麻布5丁目5-9 後藤ハウスB1F MGホール
地下鉄日比谷線 広尾駅下車 徒歩 5分
info@mg-ballet.org, Person in charge Gotou Mariko.
No phone number listed at 104.
MG International Arts of Ballet, MG Hall, B1F GOTO House 5-5-9
Minami-Azabu Minato-ku, Tokyo.

My husband took his official translator along for this exchange also. At the reception we were greeted coldly from the start, and when we requested information about ballet for our daughter we were told that this school does not accept international students.

Thinking she meant they needed students to understand ballet instruction in Japanese we argued that our daughter goes to a local Hoikuen and can understand Japanese. But to our surprise the lady told us that we would need a reference to enter this school.

Still misunderstanding her attitude my husband informed her that his blood relative, an aunt who is Japanese, referred us to this particular school. The lady flat out refused to entertain anything, and after being insulted in such a fashion we left the place with our daughter crying.

We will not under any circumstance be sending our child to such a racist establishment and have already enrolled her in another school.

My husband will be raising this issue with the Japanese Foreign Ministry and the Minato ]-Ku ward. He says that it is not a petty issue. Such people and establishments should be exposed for their racist behavior, and the general public should be made aware of their attitude.

Your dissemination on your blog of what happened to us to other people will serve as a means to identifying such people, and save a lot of them the heartache and disgust we felt when we left that place. Turning such a beautiful art form into something this ugly is a crime in our books.

I have no need to be anonymous because I want people to know what happened, and want to find ways to make sure this does not happen to other expatriate families.

Yours sincerely,
Amira Rahman

COMMENT: I have tried to contact Ms Gotoh to confirm for myself what happened (I will send her this blog entry at the email address listed above), but cannot find her phone number by any public means. I also called the Japan Ballet Association (Nihon Barei Kyoukai) at 03-5437-0371 and talked to two people there, but they neither could tell me much about what might have gone on (as MG is not a member of their association), nor could believe that she could be turning away a student on the basis of her nationality.

Nor can I. Ms Gotoh clearly has benefited a great deal from her contacts and opportunities in foreign countries. According to her school’s site, she has trained at Academic de Dense Classique Princesse Grace in Monte-Carlo, The Royal Ballet School in London, Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Staats Theater Hannover, and Buhnen der Landeshauptstadt Kiel in Germany. She was also in the New National Theatre Tokyo in Japan.

The site says she also “speaks English well” (she even advertises her classes on a website in English), so what’s with the language barrier?

The author is willing to be identified by name, is willing to take responsibility for her claims, and has given sufficient detail in her report, so I’m blogging it. I hope that after I email Ms Gotoh this blog entry at info@mg-ballet.org that she will contact me and clear this issue up.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan


I received a very prompt response in English and Japanese from the ballet school:


From: info@mg-ballet.org
Subject: Re: To Ms Gotoh: “Japanese Only” Ballet school in Azabu, Tokyo?
Date: December 14, 2007 11:45:46 PM JST
To: debito@debito.org

有道 出人 様、
小樽の「湯の花」の件は、日本人としても恥ずかしく改めなくてはならないと共 感を感じておりました。

下記の英文(あまり英語に自信が無いのでお許しください)に述べました通り、 事実誤認に基づく

有道さんの断定的な発言は大変残念で、下記文書をc.c.のメーリング・リストを 含め回答しようかと
思いましたが、大きな誤解があるようなので、熟慮の末、無用な行き違いを避け るためにも事前に


当方の要望は有道さんのblogの当件に関する文書の即時削除と既に配信なさった メーリングリスト

今回の件は”Japanese Only”には該当しませんが、クレームをいただいた夫婦の 方に嫌な思いを



事務局 内野秀紀

== DRAFT ====================================

Mr. Arudou Debito
Thank you for your inquiry to us.

Regrettably I suggest that you should examine the “FACT” before blogged in public.

You made a couple of critical mistakes on this claim.
We have international students now and for these past 8years after establishment of our school.
And Ms. Goto did not meet this lady yesterday because of class teaching, it was our school staff woman that I confirmed having interview..
I’m afraid that you, Mr. Arudou Debito, already have a kind of preoccupation based on a one-sides e-mail from a lady.
If our school is “Japanese Only” and refuse foreigners having racial discrimination, Why do we have international students now and in the past?
Why do we have website in English as you know?

Before confirming these facts and truth, you’ve already blogged one-sides story and Ms.Goto’s privacy in public.
How do you take your responsibility against the fact?
If you would like to injure reputation of our school or Ms.Goto , we should consider taking official steps to deal with the situation
like you do with several cases.
I also would like to ask you on the “RIGHTS” standing point, what’s your idea of keeping Ms.Goto’s privacy and rights?
You may say you tried to contact us but could not find phone number…but you should send a e-mail like many people do before blogged.

The reason why we could not accept her application yesterday was simply “pre-ballet class” is full capasity now.
A little pretty girl had no blame, including her nationality, for the reason why we couldn’t accept.
We are trying to treat fairly all people if they are Forigner, Japanese or any nationality even a diplomat or any occupation.
And our staff confuzed hearing this lady’s reaction…..We dazed our communication gap.
I know we both side have each story to tell and it’s not appropriate to claim each other’s story in public,,because we don’t
have international human rights issue here..

We sometime don’t accept application even Japanese if someone, or parents of small child, is not appropriate to our
school with some reason….. manner, attitude, decency, cooperation, security etc.
Our ballet school is small private school for membership.

Your claim is coming from human rights standing point and we have foreign student now and in the past as I mentioned.
If you would like to confirm this fact/truth, I’ll accept your coming to observe students with no making trouble condition.
I know we have no obligation to accept you but I do .
After your confirming this evidence by yourself, I strongly request your apology in public for giving irrationality impression in public,
I think that’s the fair manners for RIGHTS of our ballet scool and Ms.Goto.

I took a look at your website and your book “Japanese only”, and I can understand your claim on this.
Personally I have 20years experience of working for foreign company, so I understand we have multiculturalism
issue to solve in Japan.
I understand your point and I’m sorry that our case does not fit to your campaign.
I don’t response to your further question on this except your coming request to confirm the FACT/Truth.

I know Sapporo got into very cold winter season with lots of snow.
I hope you take good care of yourself.

Thank you for living Japan and your social activities.

Love People, Love Arts, Love Ballet!
Secretary < < MG International Arts of Ballet >>
MG Hall B1F GOTO House 5-5-9 Minami-Azabu Minato-ku, Tokyo.



内野さま、ご返答ありがとうございました。有道 出人です。


To M. Uchino,

Thank you very much for your speedy response. I reply in English for the sake of saving time.

I have forwarded your response to Ms. Rahman, and will await her response before taking any further action on my blog. I will of course put your answer in both English and Japanese on my blog, and Ms Rahman’s answer (if there is one) also on my blog later. If there is a discussion to be had, I will gladly facilitate it. Please feel free also to respond directly on the blog if you would prefer.

And yes, I would be happy to stop by your school in January (when I will be in Tokyo for speeches) to meet you and hear your side of the story.

You do admit in your explanation that your school does refuse students. Of course, the reasons for refusing any student are very important (and I have a hard time believing that “security” could ever be a concern). If, as Ms. Rahman claims, your representative refused her daughter because MS School does not take international students, there clearly is a communication problem, especially in the face of how your school portrays itself on its website.

In any case, Ms Rahman is very upset at this situation. Having this much upset happen in customer relations is something that should be avoided. Let’s hear her side of the story next.

Thank you for engaging in a dialog on this issue, and, as you note in the Japanese version of your email, for reading my website so carefully. I hope we can reach an understanding on this issue between you and Ms. Rahman.

Sincerely, Arudou Debito in Sapporo
December 15, 2007











From: Amira Rahman
Subject: Response to MG International
Date: December 15, 2007 8:11:55 PM JST

Dear Sir,
I can believe their claim that they have had foreign students in the past but I would like to contradict one small important point which is we were told that this school does not accept foreigners and no mention whatsoever was made of pre ballet classes being full. If they had said this in the first place we would understand immediatly and have had no hard feelings at all because we had a list of 6 other schools in the area we were going to visit.

My only question is have they ever had a student from Pakistan in their school. Please accept their invitation to see their school for yourself and verify the information I have asked. If there has been even one of us there I will gladly chalk it up to misunderstanding on my behalf and apologize otherwise my husband and I will continue in trying to get an apology for their behaviour towards us.

I can also believe that the owners of the establishment or the teachers may have no clue as to what happened at the reception and were not a part of this incident at all but they must acknowledge that somehow, somewhere a misunderstanding took place that led to us feeling insulted. I know the owner is a ballerina of repute and has international credentials to her name and her business is in Hiroo which incidentally is a center of Embassies from around the world, therefore it is my observation that she should lay great emphasis on training staff to deal with “Foreigners”. If I have not stated this earlier the lady at the reception was most cordial but her changing requirements for enrollment and attitude left no room for error that we were not wanted in this place.

Yours sincerely,

Amira Rahman

Dear Arudou,
My husband says it was nice talking to you and he will be emailing his letter to the school to you on Monday first thing in the morning.

Please do not apologize to anyone on our behalf because you are the voice with which people like us can speak and because of you 2 schools contacted us for our daughter already.
Please keep up the good work and our prayers and blessings are with you.

UPDATE DEC 18, 2007:

Mediocre Economist Survey on Japan Business Dec 1 2007


Hi Blog. December 1st 2007’s Economist (London) magazine had a 14-page survey on business in Japan.

As is true of almost all Economist articles (and much more so than the US-published glossies such as Time and Newsweek, which is why I have been a subscriber for nearly twenty years), there were plenty of useful statistics and some valuable insights.

But the author, Tom Standage, seems to be a neophyte to Japan, trying too hard to use his metaphor of a hybrid car as a grand allusion for Japan’s economy (contrasting it with “Anglo-Saxon capitalism”–cutely rendered as “JapAnglo-Saxon capitalism”, as if there is such a clear contrast or even such a concrete economic model). He winds up making what could have been an interesting survey into a graduate-school term paper. It even feels as if he swallowed the lines fed him by the GOJ Gaijin Handlers, that Japan’s economics and business practices are that transparent and quantifiable.

Also, I have the feeling Mr Standage might have been reading a bit of Debito.org. I complained on the blog about how an Economist article last July talked about Japan’s demographics and labor market, without even one word considering foreign labor. One sentence, “if only to dismiss immigration as a possibility”, is what I said I wanted.

Well, I got that one sentence in this Economist Survey, and here it is:

Large-scale immigration, the solution favoured in other rich countries, is not culturally acceptable in Japan. So it will have to put more women and old people to work in order to maintain its workforce.

Oh, it’s culture. The end. “Culture” is a category people throw information into when it’s too taxing to understand. It’s the analytical category for lazy people. Especially when most things that are “cultural” are actually perfectly rational–you just have to understand the rationale behind people’s behavior. And that takes acculturalization, which I feel the author lacks a bit of.

If Mr Standage thinks Japan’s antipathy towards foreigners and immigration is merely a cultural issue, I would ask him to read and consider my upcoming Japan Times column (#42) coming out Tuesday, December 18, 2007, where I try to demonstrate that Japan’s rising xenophobia is in fact by grand design. And how it is serving the country poorly. I even use some statistics from his survey, thanks.

Here are links to the Economist Survey articles. Here’s hoping the magazine finally gets on the ball regarding Japan. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


SPECIAL REPORT: Business in Japan (Nov 29th 2007)
Going hybrid
After 15 years of gloom, Japan’s companies have emerged with a new, hybrid model a bit closer to America’s, says Tom Standage


Message in a bottle of sauce
Japan’s corporate governance is changing, but it’s risky to rush things


Still work to be done
Japan’s labour market is becoming more flexible, but also more unequal


Not invented here
Entrepreneurs have had a hard time, but things are slowly improving


No country is an island
Japan is reluctantly embracing globalisation


JapAnglo-Saxon capitalism
Have Japanese business practices changed enough?

Mainichi Waiwai: Homi Danchi and Japanese-Brazilian frictions in Aichi


Hi Blog. I’ve been to Homi Danchi, the place described below, and it wasn’t as bad as all that (if it’s a “slum”, I’ve seen worse, even in Japan). That was, however, about four years ago, and I didn’t really seek out more information on the J-NJ tensions at the time. Here’s what the media is saying about the situation now. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Foreigners’ Home Sweet ‘Homi’ greeted by local cold shoulder
Mainichi Waiwai Page, December 11, 2007
Courtesy of Steve Silver

Tucked in a corner of the Aichi Prefecture city of Toyota, the Homi Danchi housing estate most famous for its racial problems, may offer a vision of the Japan of the future, according to Spa! (12/4).

The estate opened in 1975 and, like many public housing complexes at the time, was then a highly desirable residence for many families.

But an influx of Japanese-Brazilian immigrants from the start of the 1990s saw the housing estate split along racial lines as Japanese residents complained fiercely about loud Latino music, cars parked illegally and rubbish dumped everywhere.

Three decades after it opened, Homi Danchi was no longer so homey. The housing estate had turned into a slum divided between its Japanese inhabitants and the descendants of other Japanese who had earlier left the country for greener pastures overseas.

The brawl between Japanese and Japanese-Brazilians saw its roots in 1990 changes to the Immigration Law that allowed any descendants of Japanese who had previously left this country to come into the country without any other visa restrictions, ironically in the belief that such a move would smooth over perceived cultural gaps brought by other foreigners lacking the blood of Yamato flowing through their veins.

Homi’s racial battle began when rules about public housing were relaxed a decade ago to allow foreigners to live there without restrictions, opening the floodgates to a swarm of non-Japanese moving in to the housing estate a short trip from the Toyota Motor Co. factories where many of the immigrants work.

“They literally popped up everywhere in no time at all,” a Japanese resident of the housing estate for over 20 years tells Spa! “Before you knew it, you would never see Japanese in the housing estate anymore.”

Many of the gripes Japanese residents had about their Brazilian “brethren” seem trivial, such as the propensity for partying and loud Latin music, but others point to the old adage of being in Rome and doing as the Romans do, urging the immigrants to lead a quieter lifestyle along the lines of the inhabitants who had been there longer.

But the Brazilian-Japanese were not going to take things lying down. When confronted by a group of right-wing thugs driving a loudspeaker screaming out messages along the lines of “Foreigner Go Home,” the foreigners took on the harassers in a very non-Japanese way: they firebombed the soundtruck.

Homi’s battle lines had been drawn and threatened to flare, but the government intervened, brokering a peace deal between the Japanese and Japanese-Brazilians. Now, the housing estate is a peaceful place, but Spa! notes that doesn’t mean the two groups get along, with the Japanese sticking to themselves and the foreigners clustering among their own, with each group ignoring the other.

Foreigners blame the Japanese for the uneasy stand-off.

“All the Japanese ever do is complain about us,” a Japanese-Brazilian resident of the housing estate tells Spa! “They don’t accept us at all. We try to greet them and they just ignore us. They don’t want to have anything to do with us.”

And here’s where Homi can serve as a harbinger. Danchi housing estates across Japan are losing their inhabitants as the country’s population shrinks. Japan’s current population of 126 million is estimated to drop below 100 million by 2050 unless something is done. More than likely, foreigners are going to be needed to make up for the lost 20-odd million. More and more public housing estates are going to become like Homi, where over half the current 8,000 inhabitants are non-Japanese.

With Homi’s Japanese and Japanese-Brazilians agreeing to mutually ignore each other, the weekly notes it’s not possible to say the problems between the two groups have been solved. But, to its credit, the magazine argues that the issue needs to be cleared.

“This is an issue that should be of prime importance,” Spa! says, “For Japanese, for foreigners, for governments and for businesses.” (By Ryann Connell, Mainichi Japan December 11, 2007)

Debito.org Podcast Dec 8, 2007


Hi Blog. I haven’t announced this very clearly (partially since I’m still getting used to the technology), but I’ve been doing about one podcast a week for the past two months. My latest:

Debito.org Podcast for December 8, 2007



Plus Duran Duran at beginning and end (and Tangerine Dream between topics)…

Twenty minutes. Have a listen.

Or from Trans Pacific Radio

Previous podcasts from Debito.org archived at Trans Pacific Radio under

Enjoy! I’ll have another one out next week. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Alberto Fujimori really gets his–6 years’ prison; and that’s not all


Well, well, well… Idi Amin escaped the rap. So did Augusto Pinochet. But Charles Taylor and Slobodan Milosevic didn’t. And now Alberto Fujimori–who foolishly left his safe haven provided by the Japanese government and has wound up getting his. Ii kimi da.

See why Debito.org has something against Fujimori here. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Fujimori convicted
Associated Press
Canadian Globe and Mail, December 11, 2007 at 6:15 PM EST

LIMA — Former President Alberto Fujimori was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison on Tuesday on a charge of abuse of authority stemming from an illegal search he ordered as his government imploded in scandal seven years ago.

Supreme Court Judge Pedro Guillermo Urbina declared that Mr. Fujimori was guilty of abusing his power when he ordered an aide to pose as a prosecutor and search the luxury apartment of the wife of his spy chief without a warrant in November 2000.

Mr. Fujimori, who ruled Peru from 1990 to 2000 before fleeing to Japan as his government collapsed, faces a total of seven human rights and corruption charges in multiple trials.

On Monday, an indignant Mr. Fujimori shouted his innocence and waved his arms in outrage as he went on trial in a separate case on charges he authorized an army death squad to kill leftist rebels and collaborators. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted for his alleged role in the killings, which came amid a government crackdown on a bloody Maoist insurgency.


Fujimori convicted and sentenced in illegal search

Peru’s former president gets six years behind bars for abuse of power. He still faces charges on other serious counts.
By Adriana León and Patrick J. McDonnell, Special to The Los Angeles Times
December 12, 2007

LIMA, PERU — Former President Alberto Fujimori was convicted of abuse of power Tuesday and sentenced to six years in prison after a judge found him responsible for an illegal search at the home of the wife of his onetime intelligence chief.

It was the first conviction in a series of criminal charges Fujimori has faced since being extradited from Chile in September.

Human rights advocates have hailed the multiple cases against Fujimori as blows against impunity. But supporters of the ex-president call him the victim of political persecution.

The abuse of power charge is among the least serious faced by Fujimori, but his conviction was a setback for the ex-president.

His daughter, Keiko Fujimori, a popular congresswoman, was visibly upset afterward, and called the decision “unjust.”

However, she added that her father had conceded the “irregularity” of the disputed search, which took place in the waning, convulsive days of his administration.

The ex-president, whose legal team had hoped for a suspended sentence, indicated that he would file a partial appeal of the conviction.

The conviction came a day after Fujimori stunned Peruvians with an emotional outburst in a separate, far more serious, case in which he stands accused of dispatching death squads to kill 25 suspected leftists. The ex-president faces a 30-year prison term in that case.

During Monday’s court session, Fujimori, 69, shouted that he was “totally innocent” of ordering the killings and argued that his decisive tactics had saved Peru from terrorism and economic ruin.

The former president also faces charges of kidnapping, corruption and bribery.

Fujimori, who is being held in a special lockup without bail, was subdued in court Tuesday as the judge took three hours to read his findings.

As the ex-leader was being led away, local media reported, he flashed a smile at his three children, who were watching proceedings from behind a glass partition.

The search at issue took place Nov. 7, 2000, in the former apartment of the wife of Vladimiro Montesinos, Fujimori’s shadowy spymaster. At the time, Montesinos was a fugitive in a mushrooming corruption case that would ultimately topple Fujimori’s government. Montesinos is now jailed here and, like Fujimori, facing multiple trials and life behind bars.

Prosecutors suspect that Fujimori ordered an aide to conduct the warrantless search in an eleventh-hour effort to collect videos or other evidence that could have implicated his administration in corruption. Montesinos, a purported master of blackmail, was known to have made clandestine videotapes of lawmakers and others receiving bribes.

Fujimori eventually fled Peru and filed his resignation by fax from Japan, his parents’ homeland.


Fujimori outburst sets tone for Peru human rights trials
Christian Science Monitor December 12, 2007 edition – http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1212/p07s02-woam.html

Peru’s former leader let loose a tirade as his human rights and corruption trials began Monday.

By Lucien Chauvin | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Lima, Peru
The multiple human rights and corruption trials of Peru’s Alberto Fujimori got off to a colorful start this week when the former president launched into a tirade denying the charges against him and taking credit for the country’s current economic boom.

Mr. Fujimori, who ruled Peru from 1990-2000, began facing a three-judge panel Monday on charges that he approved the death-squad murders of 15 people in 1991 and nine students and a professor the following year. The trial also includes the charge of authorizing the kidnapping and torture of a journalist and a businessman, also in 1992.

He also may face a seven-year sentence in a separate trial on abuse of authority charges.

Fujimori disrupted the mundane administrative chores of the initial hearings Monday when he asked permission to briefly address the court before entering a plea.

The former president immediately threw up his arms, contorted his face, and started screaming that he had saved Peru from imminent collapse when he first took office in July 1990.

“I received Peru in 1990 in a state of collapse, with hyperinflation, international isolation, and widespread terrorism… Peru is progressing today because there were reforms in the context of respect for human rights,” he yelled. “I totally reject the charges. I am innocent.”

After shouting down the chief judge for a few moments, Fujimori stopped, politely thanked the court for the chance to speak and, smoothing his dark gray, pinstripe suit, calmly returned to his seat in the center of the small courtroom built for the trial on a police base where he has been incarcerated since September.

The outburst fits the image that both Fujimori’s supporters and detractors hold of him, and it is likely to set the tone for the trials, which are expected to last at least six months.

“If he acts this way, in the context of a trial and while under arrest, imagine how he must have been when he had all the power in his hands as president,” says Gloria Cano, a lawyer representing victims of those killed in the 1991 massacre.

Fujimori is proud of his legacy

Fujimori, a math professor, stunned Peruvians in 1990 by coming out of nowhere to win the presidency. He took office with inflation galloping in four digits, the economy shrinking by double digits, and nearly 75 percent of Peru’s territory under a state of emergency because of the actions of two leftist rebels groups, the Shining Path and Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.

Fujimori’s economic reforms stopped inflation and reinserted Peru into the world financial community while new antiterrorism laws facilitated the arrests of the heads of the two subversive groups, effectively stopping them as threats to the Peruvian state. Fujimori and his followers hope that this is what Peruvians remember, and it is what he focused on in Monday’s outburst.

Opponents do not deny these successes, but say they came with a high cost to the country’s democracy.

When Congress balked at economic and legal changes, Fujimori simply closed it and the judiciary in April 1992, originally trying to govern alone with the Army and intelligence service. When that was not possible, he had a new Constitution written. The main change, foreshadowing a current trend in the region, allowed for immediate presidential reelection.

Fujimori ran and won again in 1995, and reinterpreted his own Constitution to allow for a third bid in 2000. He also won that contest, although later evidence would show that massive voter fraud committed throughout the electoral cycle helped him.

His third term only lasted four months. He fled Peru in November 2000, escaping a massive corruption scandal that would land his closest collaborators, including former Army chief Gen. Nicolas Hermoza and security adviser Vladimiro Montesinos, in prison.

Fujimori spent five years in Japan, his parents’ homeland, but flew secretly to Chile in 2005, with the alleged intention of returning home in time for elections the following year. He never made it. Chilean authorities arrested him and the country’s Supreme Court approved this past September seven of the 12 extradition requests filed against him.

Fujimori’s supporters are confident that he will be exonerated and make a comeback for the 2011 elections.

Supporters confident

“Today was an opportunity to the president to set the record straight. He is the man responsible for Peru’s good fortune. Peruvians are going to see through this charade. They are the real judges here and the verdict will be in our favor,” says Rep. Carlos Raffo.

Recent trials of former collaborators, however, are not promising. Ten of Fujimori’s former cabinet members were found guilty in late November of violating the Constitution because of their support for the 1992 move that closed Congress. Nine received suspended sentences, while one was given a 10-year sentence.

Even more damaging, his former security adviser and right-hand man, Mr. Montesinos, testified last week that he did not make any decisions on his own, always taking orders from Fujimori. That trial was about election fraud in 2000, but Montesinos, already found guilty in more than 20 cases from the Fujimori era, will also be one of the principal witnesses in the trial of his former boss.


Law and Order | 11 December, 2007 [ 12:00 ]
Peru: 30-Year Prison Sentence Recommended for Alberto Fujimori
Living in Peru.com
© La Republica

(LIP-ir) — In a 20-minute statement, government prosecutor, José Antonio Peláez requested that Peru’s Supreme Court sentence Alberto Fujimori to 30 years in prison and fine him 100 million soles for the massacre that took place at Barrios Altos, the death of students and a teacher from La Cantuta University and the kidnapping of two people.

The government prosecutor clarified that Alberto Fujimori was not being tried for his fight against terrorism but was on trial for the “dirty war” led by the Grupo Colina, a paramilitary death squad.

He added that Fujimori had been the person responsible for giving the Colina Group its orders and was therefore responsible for the people that were killed and the kidnapping of a journalist and a businessman.

These accusations and others caused Peru’s former president to cry out his innocence in the courtroom.

César Nakasaki, Alberto Fujimori’s lawyer stated that it was natural for a man that felt he was innocent to respond in this manner while unfairly being accused.

He added that the former Head of State was offended and that he could not ask an innocent man not to speak out against the unjust accusations that were being made.

Fujimori’s outburst was a desperate political speech made when he lost control after realizing that the trial was not going in his favor, said political analyst Carlos Reyna. He stated that this did not help the former president at all.

UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights 60th Anniversary Dec 10, 2007


Courtesy UN News New York, Dec 10 2007 4:00PM

The freedoms upheld in the historic United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights must be enjoyed by everyone, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today on the occasion of Human Rights Day.

The Day also kicked off a year-long UN system-wide campaign, with the theme “Dignity and Justice for All of Us,” to raise awareness of the Declaration, which turns 60 on 10 December 2008.

“The Declaration remains as relevant today as it did on the day it was adopted,” Mr. Ban said. “But the fundamental freedoms enshrined in it are still not a reality for everyone. Too often, Governments lack the political will to implement international norms they have willingly accepted.”

He said that this year leading up to the 60th anniversary of the landmark document provides an opportunity to reinvigorate efforts to ensure that the Declaration’s freedoms apply to all.

“It is a chance to ensure that these rights are a living reality – that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere,” the Secretary-General noted. “It is often those who most need their human rights protected, who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists – and that it exists for them.”

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, in a separate message, paid tribute to those who have given their lives in the pursuit of transforming the ideals of the Declaration – inherent human dignity, justice, non-discrimination, equality, fairness and universality – into reality.

“Today is also the day to reflect upon our individual and collective failures to stand up against violence, racism, xenophobia, torture, repression of unpopular views and injustices of all sorts,” she observed.

Efforts to make sure that every person can rely on just laws for his or her protection must be stepped up in the year leading up to the Declaration’s 60th anniversary, the High Commissioner said.

“In today’s growing divisions between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the vulnerable, the technologically advanced and the illiterate, the aggressors and the victims, the relevance of the Declaration and the universality of enshrined rights need to be loudly reaffirmed,” she declared.

The President of the General Assembly also sounded the alarm about those who are denied the Declaration’s rights, stating that “it is incumbent upon us to champion their cause.”

Srgjan Kerim urged that measures to promote rights should “live up to the spirit embodied by those who had the courage and conviction to leave us with this great legacy.”

Underscoring the rights of girls and women, who continue to be subjected to discrimination and violence, the head of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) stressed that “every human being should be able to live and make decisions free of coercion, discrimination and violence.”

Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid pointed out that although it has been long-recognized that all couples and individuals have a right to decide whether and when to have children, some 200 million women worldwide have no access to modern contraception.

She also noted that while the right to health has similarly long been recognized, a woman dies every minute during pregnancy and childbirth because of lack of maternal health services.

The UN’s independent rights experts marked the Day with a call for the elimination of the twin scourges of discrimination and exclusion.

“Discrimination continues to distort the economic, social and political contours of societies,” the UN special procedures mandate holders – ranging from rapporteurs and experts to working groups – said in a joint statement. “Individuals and communities face discrimination and exclusion on the basis of their race, ethnicity, religion, language, sex or sexual orientation amongst many other grounds.”

The group emphasized that if left unchecked, the consequences of discrimination and exclusion “can begin to create fault lines within society between those who have full rights, justice and dignity respected, and those who do not.”

Events commemorating the Day are taking place throughout the world. At UN Headquarters today, panel discussions on human rights will be held, while a special celebration was held at the world body’s Geneva office, where the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council are based.

An essay competition for teenagers is being held on the occasion of the Day in Parwan province, north of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul. Meanwhile, in Paktia province, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) celebrated the Day at an event attended by victims of the country’s three decades of conflict, Government authorities, tribal officials and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).

The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has organized a series of activities across the country, including workshops, campaigns and panel discussions in Darfur, as well as marches to promote human rights messages in southern Sudan.

Several events will also be taking place in the lead up to the 60th anniversary of the Declaration. In Rome, illustrations inspired by Human Rights Day by 17 artists from around the world will be exhibited as part of an initiative called “Cartooning for Human Rights.” The artwork will travel around the world next year.

Next September, a conference to celebrate the Declaration will be held in Paris, while a series of five human rights capacity-building trainings will take place in the Asia-Pacific region next year as part of the Diplomacy Training Programme, a non-governmental organization (NGO) founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate José Ramos-Horta.
2007-12-10 00:00:00.000

The Australian/Japan Today on Kanagawa Police rape case lawsuit loss


Hi Blog. Developing a case for police patterns of behavior. If it’s a foreigner allegedly committing a crime against Japanese (as in the Idubor Case), the police go after it even if there is no evidence. If a Japanese commits a crime against a foreigner, it’s either not pursued (see the Valentine Case, for the time being) or handled with different standards (see the Lucie Blackman Case).

And when it’s a foreigner on foreigner crime, free pass. See below. Arudou Debito in Tokyo


Australian woman, raped by U.S. sailor, loses 5-year court battle with Japanese police
By Peter Alford
Japan Today/The Australian Friday, December 7, 2007 at 05:53 EST

TOKYO — After being dealt another bitter blow by the justice system Tuesday afternoon, Jane seemed oddly jaunty: “I’m going to keep fighting. I’m fighting this not only for myself, but for other women who’ve been raped — Japanese women.”

Early on the morning of April 6 2002, Jane, an Australian expatriate, was raped near the American naval base at Yokosuka by a sailor off the USS Kitty Hawk, whom she had met earlier that night in a bar.

Then, Jane says, she was violated again, by the Kanagawa prefectural police who denied her medical attention for more than six hours while carrying out a callous and botched “investigation,” who forced her into a re-enactment of the assault and who then refused to charge her attacker.

On Tuesday, in the Tokyo District Court, the same court that found in November 2004 she had in fact been raped, Chief Judge Kenichi Kato and two colleagues ruled the Kanagawa police had acted within the law and fulfilled their responsibilities to the victim. “The case is rejected,” he said brusquely. “Costs will be paid by the plaintiff.” A woman in the courtroom began crying.

Minutes later as her lawyers, Mami Nakano and Masako Shinno who have stood beside her for the whole 5 1/2 years, hurriedly prepared their appeal to the Tokyo High Court, Jane told The Australian: “I hoped my case would cause a positive attitude to improving justice here and support for victims of sexual assault. But, so far, no. Deans is still a free man, free to rape other women, and the police did nothing … they wouldn’t even tell me his name — if that’s what his name was!”

Jane isn’t her real name. Nor, probably is the name given to the police by the Navy: Bloke T. Deans. That, Jane suspects, was just an offhand sneer at a woman who inconveniently got assaulted by one of their young men — just some Aussie woman stirring up trouble over a Bloke!

Apart from her being a foreigner, Jane’s case isn’t so unusual in most aspects; neither the rape, nor the police’s primitive methods of dealing with it, nor that the perpetrator was a U.S. serviceman, nor that the system let him get away.

What has made Jane’s case a cause celebre with Japanese women’s rights groups and with campaigners against military sex assault cover-ups, is that rather than slink away as she was supposed to from those humiliations, she stood and fought.

Nor was she content to be yoked to victimhood. Though still today struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, Jane works with two doctors at a Tokyo university hospital to establish a 24-hour children’s sexual assault clinic.

Once established, she hopes, the clinic can gradually broaden its scope to rape victims generally. The doctors declined to be named or interviewed, apparently because publicity in association with a campaigner like Jane would hurt their project.

Set up self-help network for victims

She has set up a self-help network for victims of sexual abuse and campaigns for a 24-hour rape crisis center. There is not yet such an establishment in Tokyo or anywhere else in Japan.

“The government does provide a rape hotline,” says Masako Motoyama of the Asia-Japan Women’s Resource Centere. “But there are no adequate facilities, almost everything else is done by volunteers.”

The Tokyo Rape Crisis Center, which has been open for 24 years is restricted to telephone counseling twice a week. An official, who again asked not to be identified, says the center’s operations are severely restricted by the lack of any public funding.

Sometimes the police recommend victims to the centere but, reflecting their distrust of investigation procedures, center workers do not refer assaulted women to the police.

“The Japanese police have a prejudice against victims,” says the center official. “They don’t care for the rights of the women; they don’t feel any obligation to the victims.”

Though some large public hospitals and general crime victims’ services do provide some basic support services for sexual assault victims, there is just one other rape crisis center in this land of 126 million people. It was established on Okinawa, the island prefecture that hosts the largest number of U.S. bases and American servicemen, by an anti-military women’s group.

Jane’s case has also been taken up by a coalition of Japanese women’s groups in their submission on violence against women and rights violations to a U.N. Committee Against Torture report, released this year, was highly critical of Japanese official methods.

While welcoming the recognition, Jane is mildly bitter that until she won her Tokyo District Court civil case against the so-called Deans in late 2004, it was just her and her stalwart lawyers, Nakano and Shinno, against the system.

“Yes, she has a right to feel we were not giving her adequate support,” says Motoyama. “But our group did not become aware of her case until last year … Now we definitely want to support her. What she has done in bringing this case has been so courageous.”

Single mother living in Japan for 20 years

When Jane encountered Deans, she had lived in Japan for 20 years — half her life, having come here first with her parents as a teenager. She was separated from a Japanese husband and caring for three sons. An actress and model who appeared on Japanese network TV, she was an active and lively presence in Tokyo’s expatriate circles.

That all stopped immediately after the assault and the nightmarish 12 hours spent in the “care” of the Kanagawa prefectural police. “Working on TV was something that I truly enjoyed, but after I got raped, I could no longer bear to be near a camera,” she says. “I could not even bear to look in the mirror anymore. The rape made me feel so ugly, depressed, suicidal.”

At the station, she says, she was denied medical treatment during the first six hours, though bruised, scraped and suffering a whiplash injury from the force of the assault. The attitude of the policemen throughout was coarse and mocking. She says no attempt was made by the police to preserve bodily samples as evidence.

“Not only the rapist but even the Japanese police contributed to an abridgement of my civil and human rights,” she says. “I begged to be taken to a hospital from the onset of reporting the incident, but my pleas were repeatedly denied.”

Even after finally being taken to a nearby hospital about 9 a.m., she says she was returned to the station about midday for a further three hours of questioning.

(In court, the police contested her account of the timing, saying she was taken to the hospital earlier and released earlier. However Nakano and Shinno produced medical records that refuted this account.)

Deans, in the meantime, was enjoying the relative ease of the Yokosuka naval base. No long night at the police station for this Bloke.

The Status of U.S. Armed Forces in Japan agreement between the two governments stipulates that a serviceman accused of a civilian criminal offense shall be dealt with by the Japanese police and courts.

But the agreement also says: “The custody of an accused member … shall, if he is in the hands of the U.S., remain with the US until he is charged by Japan.” This means, in effect, U.S. military authorities can restrict civilian police access to military suspects.

Unfortunately for Jane, however, Deans did agree to one police procedural: a reenactment of the incident at the scene, her car.

Police reenacted the rape

In most modern jurisdictions, even hardened investigators would balk at the idea of putting an alleged rape victim through a reenactment. But that’s what happened — the only concession to her horrified protests was that a policewoman “played”Jane’s role, while she stood alongside the vehicle, giving directions. Deans had a separate reenactment of the encounter, which he claimed was consensual

And, at the end of it all, the Kanagawa police decided against charging Deans. The Yokahama district prosecutors endorsed this in June 2002, without giving reasons.

That, in the authorities’ view, is where the matter should have rested — as it has in a recent Hiroshima case. There last month, the district prosecutors’ office dropped charges against four U.S. Marines, aged 19 to 38 years, who were accused of raping and robbing a 19-year-woman in a car in October. The Marines said she consented to sex.

“We made the decision based on evidence,” said the assistant prosecutor, who then refused to give any further information.

But Jane wouldn’t go away. Unable to get a criminal prosecution, her lawyers started a civil action. In November 2004, the Tokyo District Court ruled Deans had raped her and ordered him to pay 3 million yen in damages and costs. But it was a Pyrrhic victory.

Two months after Jane filed suit, the U.S. Navy discharged Deans who immediately left Japan. Jane’s side wasn’t aware of this until 11 months later, the day before Deans was to testify, when his lawyer disclosed to the court what obviously he had known for at least some months.

Around then, Jane and her lawyers resolved to take the unprecedented step of suing the Kanagawa police, on the ground that their investigation had denied her proper justice and abrogated her human rights.

The events that literally changed her life, the rape and the Kanagawa police’s shabby treatment, happened within 15 hours. But in refusing to let go of those experiences, Jane has subjected herself and those close to her to more than five years of strain and misery.

She still suffers post-traumatic stress disorder and stomach ulcers. Each of her teenage sons, she believes, has been made ill by their experience of her unhappiness.

She’s perpetually broke and currently way behind in her rent; what money she gets in goes to supporting herself and the boys and funding the legal struggle. Her extraordinarily dedicated lawyers, Nakano and Shinno, have carried the case often without payment.

Jane tells The Australian she would happily reveal her identity — “I am not ashamed, I haven’t done anything to be ashamed of — but cannot risk any more damage to her family, particularly the boys. But I mostly feel so sorry for the next women that gets raped in this country — right now I would say to her: do not go to the police. Go to the hospital yourself, go home, don’t go near them. The police will treat you like trash.”

Peter Alford is Tokyo correspondent for The Australian newspaper, where this story ran on Wednesday.

TV Tarento Peter Barakan attacked, premeditated teargassing–with response from Peter


Hi Blog. Not sure what to make of this incident at this time–let’s keep our feelers out on this one. Translating from the Sankei Shinbun (off Yahoo News):

Sankei Shinbun Dec 8, 2007, 4:30PM
Translated by Arudou Debito, courtesy of Dave Spector

On December 8, 2007, at about 1:15PM, British TV Caster Peter Barakan (56) and four other men and women were sprayed with a substance similar to tear gas by an unknown male. The assailant escaped in a car. They were attending a monthly Christian church meeting in Tokyo Minato-ku Mita, and suffered pain to the eyes, but were said to have recovered. The Mita Police are currently searching for the male as a case of assault with intent to inflict bodily injury.

According to sources, the assailant had hidden his face with a black cap. The five had assembled for a speech to be given by Barakan starting at 2PM.

The assault took place in a residential area about 300 meters east of the Tokyo Metro Shirogane Takanawa Station on the Nanboku Line.

COMMENT: TV Asahi SUKKIRI this morning noted that the getaway car was a rental (and harder to trace), meaning the assault was quite premeditated. Is this one of a series of people becoming violent towards NJ who stand out and speak in public? Once may be happenstance, but…

I’ve already written to Peter to offer my condolences. If he has a comment to share with Debito.org, of course you’ll read it here.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Thanks to everybody who has written to me about the incident last Saturday. I’m really grateful for your concern. Since I have received a large number of emails, I’m taking the liberty of replying in bulk, so please excuse the impersonal nature of this message.

What happened was that I did a talk show on a theme of songs about peace. It was held at a Quaker meeting house, as the person who asked me to do the show has an association with the Quakers and was able to get permission to use the unusual but charming venue. It’s just a regular house, in a semi-residential area in central Tokyo, but a small street, where no one would be unless they had business there.

We were due to start at 2pm, and I got there about an hour early to set up. We were just about to sit down to some lunch, when suddenly this guy walks in wearing a ski mask and immediately starts spraying some horrible stuff. There were five of us in the room at the time, and of course we all panicked and ran outside. The guy ran after us to begin with but then stopped his pursuit and took off in a van, but not before someone had noted the number.

I couldn’t open my eyes at first because the pain was too intense, but after 15-20 minutes the pain abated somewhat. There was also a burning sensation all over my face where it had been exposed to the spray, which I’m assuming was pepper spray, or something similar. That did not go off so quickly even after repeated washing with cold water, but even so, with some discomfort I was able to do the talk show as planned.

The police found the van, which turned out to be rented, and there was a can of spray in it, though the man in the car said he knew nothing about it. One of the organisers, who got a glimpse of his face as he adjusted his ski mask, was able to identify him from a photograph line-up, but not 100%, so we don’t know yet if he’ll be arrested or not.

Saturday being December 8th – the anniversary of the shooting of John Lennon, there were a number of peace related events around Tokyo, and I am told that right-wing thugs were out in force. Whether this was perpetrated by one of them I don’t know…..

Anyway, there doesn’t seem to be any lasting damage. I had a bath that night which brought back a severe burning sensation in my hands, but as of Monday evening I seem to be back to my usual state of health, for better or worse…..

Anyway, thank you all very much for writing. I’m amazed at how far and how fast news travels about even minor incidents like this. Power to the people!!!


産經新聞:ピーター・バラカンさん襲われる 港区の教会


ピーター・バラカンさん襲われる 港区の教会
12月8日16時30分配信 産経新聞







Hi Blog. I think blogging should be certified as addictive, as I’m having trouble keeping my posts below one a day. Since there are so many, all I’ll do in this newsletter is provide the title of the blog entry, a very quick summary, and a link. Let’s see how that works out. It’ll certainly save me time and space.

Contents as follows:

and finally…



By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
Daily blog entries at http://www.debito.org/index.php
Debito.org podcasts archived at http://www.transpacificradio.com/category/debito/
Freely forwardable


1) Towards founding a “Permanent Residents/Naturalized Citizens” organization

With all the NJ anger regarding the new Fingerprint Laws–moreover the GOJ’s tendency of consistently showing indifference, if not outright antipathy, towards the needs and interests of Japan’s international residents–there have been calls in the comments sections of several Debito.org blog entries for a new organization to represent the Permanent Residents and Naturalized Citizens of Japan. The organization is still in its embryonic stage. But let me create this separate special blog entry for people to discuss and pound out questions and concerns. Read more:

Created Yahoogroup for forming NPO for Immigrants, Permanent Residents, and Naturalized Citizens

Just created a yahoogroup for the forming NPO “Japan Organization for Immigrants, Naturalized Citizens, and Permanent Residents (JOIN-CPR). Join if you’re serious about pushing for the rights and interests of NJ in an official capacity. Read more:


2) GOJ Jinken Shuukan: “Human Rights Week” and its flaws

The Ministry of Justice’s Bureau of Human Rights has started its 59th “Human Rights Week” this week. I translate and interpret official BOHR documents to show where the focus of their efforts lie, and the shortcomings in their own “human rights awareness”. Read more:


3) UN News: UNHCR dismayed by secret death penalty of J convicts

Tangental to Debito.org, but UN News: “Japan is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which legally obligates States Parties to ensure strict safeguards when applying the death penalty. It is widely accepted that [capital punishment] executions cannot be carried out in secret and without warning, as this could be seen as inhuman punishment and treatment under the ICCPR.” And this is what Justice Minister was referring to recently about the higher value placed on life in Japan than the West? Read more:

J Times: UNHCR’s Guterres bravely spins on Japan’s exclusionary refugee policy

Take our money, keep your people. UNHCR: “Japan was the UNHCR’s third-largest donor country in 2006, with a $75 million (JPY8.1 billion) contribution, after being the second-largest donor for eight years through 2005. However, the number of people granted refugee status in Japan remains small. In 2006, the government recognized only 34 people as refugees, compared with 23,296 in the U.S. and 6,330 in Britain.” Read more:


4) Little Black Sambo dolls on sale at Rainforest Cafe, next to Tokyo Disneyland.

John C: “I went into The Rainforest cafe in iksepiri Maihama, Chiba (the shopping centre next to Disneyland) today with my son and I was utterly disgusted to find these Little Black Sambo dolls…” Plus what he did about the issue–successfully. Read more:


5) REPORT: Racial Profiling at Toyoko Inns; suggest boycott

SUMMARY: Toyoko Inn, a high-profile nationwide chain of hotels in Japan, have a clear policy of racial profiling at their hotels. They illegally demanded a passport from the author on the basis of his race alone last on November 30, 2007, reflecting their history of even illegally threatening to refuse accommodation to NJ residents unless they provide Gaijin Cards at check-in. This systematic harassment of NJ clientele is unnecessary and unlawful, especially in the face of hotels increasingly refusing all foreigners accommodation across “Yokoso” Japan. Toyoko Inn’s continuing refusal to abide by the laws, despite advisements from NJ customers in the past, forces this author to conclude that NJ residents and international Japanese citizens, not to mention supporters of human rights in Japan, should take their business to hotels other than Toyoko Inn–until the chain at the national level agrees in writing to improve their services. Read more:

Here’s the protest letter I sent by naiyou shoumei to Toyoko Inn’s boss Mr Shigeta, regarding their recent racial profiling of me at their Hirosaki outlet, and their history of treating the physically handicapped and NJ customers badly. Until we get a positive answer, I suggest we take our custom elsewhere.


6) Fun Facts #9: Divorce, Population decrease, Japan’s minus GDP growth, and inherited Nat’l Diet member seats

Here are another series of “Fun Facts”: innocuous-looking statistics which open portals into grander trends at work:

Stats showing a leap in Japan’s divorce rate (as predicted), a predicted drop in Japan’s labor force, a more impressive drop Japan’s GDP over the past ten years (in contrast with the rest of the developed world), and one reason why the system is breaking down–nearly 40% of the parliament is second-or third-generation (or more) Dietmembers, meaning Japan’s legislature is a peerage masquerading as a democracy. Read more:



Hokkaido Shinbun Editorial and article on NJ Fingerprinting Debacle

Fingerprinting issue: Two very good articles from the Hokkaido Shinbun give the full panoply of human rights issues, citing what seems to be articles sourced from Debito.org, as well as the highly-critical Korean media. Read more:

Chuugoku Shinbun: Fingerprinting “a new form of discrimination”

Some favorable domestic media: Chuugoku Shinbun: “Ahead of its implementation on Nov. 20, foreign residents in Japan are protesting the new immigration system requiring foreigners to be fingerprinted and photographed when entering Japan, arguing that “it’s a new form of discrimination.” Read more:

FP issue: Newsweek on damage done by model US-VISIT Program

Newsweek: “According to the Commerce Department, the United States is the only major country in the world to which travel has declined in the midst of a global tourism boom. And this is not about Arabs or Muslims. The number of Japanese visiting the United States declined from 5 million in 2000 to 3.6 million last year. The numbers have begun to increase, but by 2010 they’re still projected to be 19 percent below 2000 levels. During this same span (2000-2010), global tourism is expected to grow by 44 percent.” Read more:

Economist on NJ Fingerprinting

The Economist (London) on the NJ Fingerprinting Debacle, with ample airtime given to the critics. As it should be, since this will affect business. Read more:

James Fallows of The Atlantic Monthly on NJ Fingerprinting

James Fallows on NJ Fingerprinting at Narita: “Let me put this bluntly: this is an incredibly degrading, offputting, and hostility-generating process… Today’s time spent in the passport clearance line for foreigners at Narita: 1 hour, 30 minutes. But mainly there is no getting around the insult factor of having entry to the country be like getting booked into County Jail… Think how the alarm bells would go off if China tried to impose a scheme like this! The editorials about “Big Brother in Beijing” practically write themselves. But now the two countries that apply the most intrusively big-brotherish surveillance over those trying to visit are two liberal societies: the United States and Japan.” Read more:

Japan Times: Mark Schreiber gives Immigration the finger at Narita

Mark Schreiber from the Japan Times gives us his experiences on what happened to him when he took a junket to Saipan, just to test the Fingerprinting machines on the way back… Read more:

Der Spiegel: “Border Controls: Japan’s fear of foreigners”

Der Spiegel on Japan’s fingerprinting: “No Japanese citizen even needs an Identity Card; yet the biometric data of foreigners will be stored for 70 years. Civil rights campaigners can smell the terrorism hysteria and racism, while the National Tourist Office fears for the country’s image… And Ms. Ogawa from the Tourism Office fears that worse may still come: “The Government has asked us to carefully observe tourists’ mood regarding these changes over the coming few weeks. If Japan’s image really does drastically deteriorate, then in our final report, we may have to include the recommendation that that these measures be abandoned.” Read more:
Original German at

Anonymous on NJ Fingerprinting: Pre-registering in Shinagawa a farce.

One farce: “It seems that if parents residing in Japan wish to use the automated gate process when leaving Japan or when returning, they will have to be separated from their children. Children are not required to give finger prints, but at the same time, at the automated re-entry gates there will be no human beings to inspect the passports of the children. Thus, for re-entering families, it appears that the adults can go through the automated gates but the children, if they have re-entry permits, must stand in the line like we always did for returning Japanese and re-entry permit holders and will enter Japan separately. Except that, obviously, if the child is a baby or not experienced enough to do this alone, then they have to come in through the tourist line with a parent. So at the end of the day, if a family wishes to stay together, or has to stay together because of the age of the child, they must go through the tourist line (Yes, I know, it seems obvious that we need fingerprint taking capability at the re-entry permit line)… there was a ton of frustration among these parents who had taken time to come all the way out to Shinagawa to pre-register themselves thinking to spare their family and tired children the agony of the tourist line only to find out that it was a complete waste of time.” Read more:

Manitoban: NJ FP etc. “The Land of the Rising Shun”

An article in The Manitoban (Canada) using lots of information from Debito.org, dispersing what’s been going on in Japan vis-a-vis NJ in Japan legally, socially, and logistically over the past 50 years throughout the Canadian steppes. Mottainai. Best to also put it on Debito.org for a wider audience. Read more:


8) Irony: Japan Post Office issuing “YOKOSO JAPAN” stamps January

Here’s your daily laugh: Japan Post Office is issuing new YOKOSO JAPAN stamps next January. Not only does this presume the tourists are going to want to come here to be treated like terrorists and criminals, but also the stamps don’t even amount to overseas postage: 80 yen domestic only! Read more:


9) FCCJ No.1 Shimbun interviews Prez Ogasawara of Japan Times.

Interview with the President of the Japan Times in the FCCJ No. 1 Shimbun, talks about the future of print journalism, the plight of the Japan Times, and even cites Debito.org!


10) Arudou Debito’s new book tour March 2008. Want me to come speak?

News of my upcoming tour around Japan between March 17 to 31, to promote my next (co-authored) book–“GUIDEBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS”. Its goal: To help non-Japanese entrants become residents and immigrants. Want to know more? Contact me. Want me to come speak? Ditto. Read more:


All for today. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan



Here’s the protest letter I sent by naiyou shoumei to Toyoko Inn’s boss Mr Shigeta, regarding their recent racial profiling of me at their Hirosaki outlet, and their history of treating the physically handicapped and NJ customers badly. Until we get a positive answer, I suggest we take our custom elsewhere. Arudou Debito


〒144-0054 東京都大田区新蒲田1-7-4
株式会社 東横イン
TEL.03-5703-1045 FAX.03-5703-1046
代表執行役社長 重田訓矩 殿


拝啓 益々お繁盛に賜りお喜び申し上げます。
私は[某]大学准教授 有道 出人(あるどう でびと)と申します。日本在住歴は20年間少々、帰化した日本人です。数回、御社のホテルに宿泊したことがあり、誠に感謝します。しかし、本年も11月30日から2泊に渡り、東横イン弘前(弘前市大字駅前1−1−1、TEL 0172-31-2045)で弘前学院大学での講演のきっかけで予約していただき宿泊致しました。


石岡氏は「でも、法律上で外国人の場合は…」と一点張りするところで、「私が外国人だと外見だけで判断しているのでは?」(ちなみに私は白人です。)「実は、私は日本人です。こうやって私のパスポートを要求することはありません」と述べても、石岡氏は「じゃ、証明として日本の運転免許証を見せて下さい。」私は「あのう、普通の日本人からこうやって身分証を要求するのですか」と聞き、石岡氏は「しません」と認め、「では、なぜ外見のみで不審者扱いになっていますか。ましてや、外国人だけで法律で義務付けられてないことも要求して、これはracial profiling (人種的人物分別)か『ガイジン・ハラスメント』になっていませんか。人種差別になっていませんか。」









[住所省略 某] 大学
准教授 有道 出人


UN News: UNHCR dismayed by secret death penalty of J convicts


Hi Blog. This is tangental to Debito.org, as it involves issues of the death penalty, not internationalization and multiculturalization. But it’s yet another example of Japan not following treaties. Do read to the very end, and goggle at a comment from Justice Minister Hatoyama…


UN News.org. New York, Dec 7 2007 7:00PM
Courtesy UNNews AT un.org

The top United Nations human rights official today deplored the execution of three prisoners – including one aged over 75 – in Osaka, Japan, and appealed to the East Asian nation to reassess its approach to the death penalty.

The executions reportedly took place suddenly and neither the convicts nor their families were given advance warning.

“This practice is problematic under international law, and I call on Japan to reconsider its approach in this regard,” Louise Arbour, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said.

Expressing particularly dismay at the execution of the prisoner over the age of 75, she said that “it is difficult to see what legitimate purpose is served by carrying out such executions of the elderly, and at the very least on humanitarian grounds, I would urge Japan to refrain from such action.”

In contrast to carrying out executions in secret as it has done in the past, Japan publicly released the names of those executed, the High Commissioner noted.

Japan is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which legally obligates States Parties to ensure strict safeguards when applying the death penalty. It is widely accepted that executions cannot be carried out in secret and without warning, as this could be seen as inhuman punishment and treatment under the ICCPR.

Ms. Arbour urged the Japanese Government to implement a moratorium on executions or ban the practice altogether, as a growing number of nations have.
2007-12-07 00:00:00.000


COMMENT: And this is where our Justice Minister, Hatoyama “al-Qaeda” Kunio, was referring to about the higher value put on life in Japan than in the West? I included this in an earlier Newsletter, but it bears repeating:

Interview with Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama
Shuukan Asahi, October 26, 2007 P.122.
Title: “The Reason I will carry out Executions.”

Partial translation by Michael H. Fox, Director, Japan Death Penalty Information Center

Q: There is a big trend to abolish the death penalty worldwide. Why do you want to keep it in Japan?

HATOYAMA: The Japanese place so much importance on the value of life, so it is thought that one should pay with one’s life after taking the life of another. You see, the Western nations are civilizations based on power and war. So, conversely, things are moving against the death penalty. This is an important point to understand. The so called civilizations of power and war are opposite (from us). From incipient stages, their conception of the value of life is weaker than the Japanese. Therefore, they are moving toward abolishment of the death penalty. It is important that this discourse on civilizations be understood.

Go figure.
The entire article translated with commentary by Michael H. Fox was recently published on Japan Focus. See
Debito in Sapporo

Dream: “Japan is a Hugh Grant society.” Continue this story, everyone.


Good morning, Blog. It’s not like me to put dreams up on this blog (except maybe the pipe dreams, like a Japan with a law against racial discrimination 🙂 ), but I just had such a zinger that I thought I’d put it up. And give readers a chance to complete the story themselves in the Comments section, as I woke up laughing before the next person in line in the dream could take up where I left off.


Scene in the dream: The back of a bus in a long road trip, destination unknown, with a bunch of bored people including for no apparent reason (this is a dream, remember) Hugh Grant, Hollywood actor. People wanted to poke fun, so we decided to create a chain-letter style story where one person would take up the story where the last one left off. It was my dream, so I started:

“When the Hugh Grant woke up that morning, he had no idea what kind of a day he was in for.

“Hugh had lived quite a successful life, developing a character built on personal embarrassment, charm, stuttering, and all manner of endearing and self-effacing characteristics that his fans found appealing and his detractors couldn’t really fling mud at. He was a profitable character too, ingratiating himself into many situations around the world, showing himself as willing to do what it took in public to give himself a good image (as that was the very nature of his job, of course–to be an appealing character), and leaving a positive impression lingering long after he had left the building–of somebody you’d like to see more of. Even if the only lingering memory Hugh himself had of any of these situations was the fact that he had been present there. And it was very, very difficult to imagine Hugh’s other side, like of him on the toilet having long and loud bowel movements, or of having predilections for late-night trysts with ladies of the night, or of lacking the shy yet sticking-to-it character that was omnipresent wherever he went. And if he were caught with his pants down, he would offer charmingly tearful apologies in public. Awww… never mind, people would say. Good job. Mission accomplished.

“Japan was much the same if you thought about it. A society that loves to show the outside world in its shy, stuttering, self-effacing manner, that Japanese were a group of uniformly ‘shiny, happy people’ and ‘hardworking ganbarujans’ in its media, music, catchy train ringtones, video games, etc.. How whenever Japan went overseas and faced the foreign public, be it media or individual homestay host, it was the job of every Japanese to act as an ingratiating cultural representative, leaving a nice impression lingering that we were a nice friendly people living in a nice friendly place with a shy but huggable persona, something you’d like to see more of (and would even pay money to do so). Even if many memories of these lucky plucky kokutai volunteers was ultimately the fact that they had made a good impression on others, less the impression the others had made on them. No matter. It served some sort of purpose–Japan as a character was profiting nicely.

“And it covered up the elements of Japan’s dark side: the fingerprinting of foreigners at the border as suspected terrorists and criminals; the racial discrimination so endemic and systematic that it was ignored, even justified by some as a matter of culture; the long and current history of dalliances with sexual slavery; the fundamental problems of inequality and squander created by a powerful (and largely unquestioned) ruling elite, one that has long forgotten (if it ever knew) what the common person needs; the unanswered questions of why hikikomori, why ijime, why the odd dichotomy between the purported crime-free society and the constant media focus on crime (except when it was white-collar or otherwise organized crime), why the largest pay differential between men and women in the OECD, why an ardent refusal to play by international rules and accept global standards…? No matter. People liked Japan for the image it put out. Just don’t come here and try and scratch the surface by staying here too long–you’d only get confused by the public persona and the reality. And if they were caught out in the Grand Kabuki, they would offer charmingly tearful apologies in public and get back to business as usual. Good job. Mission accomplished.

“And as Hugh Grant woke up that morning in the Park Hyatt Hotel in Tokyo, he had no idea what kind of a day he was in for. He was about to enter Hugh Grant Society himself…”


This was where I woke up, laughing, rats. So I blog this for a bit of fun. Nothing against Hugh Grant, seriously (I have no idea why he’s in this dream!), but who wants to fill in the next part of the story? Or fill in the next segment for somebody else to take up the baton?

Japan as the Hugh Grant Society. Enjoy. Debito

Arudou Debito’s new book tour March 2008. Want me to come speak?


Hi Blog. Japan’s biggest human rights publisher Akashi Shoten will publish my third book (first two are here), “GUIDEBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS”, advice for NJ on how to get a more secure lifestyle in Japan, coauthored with Akira Higuchi. More details on it here.

But first, news of a book tour to promote:

I will be traveling around Japan during the latter half of March 2008 to promote a co-authored new book. If you’d like me to drop by your area for a speech, please be in touch with me at debito@debito.org. (This way travel expenses are minimalized for everyone.)

Tentative schedule follows, subject to change with notice on this blog entry.

March 17-23, Tokyo/Tohoku area.
Applied for speaking engagements at Good Day Books and the FCCJ.

March 24-30, Kansai/Chubu area.
March 27, Speech at Shiga University (FIXED)
March 28-29 Speech in Kyoto and/or Kobe
March 29, evening, Speech for JALT Osaka (FIXED)
March 30, Speech at JALT Okayama (FIXED)

Due back in Sapporo by April 2, so three weeks on the road.

May I come speak? Please drop a line at debito@debito.org
Thanks for considering. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Book brief with link to synopsis follows:

“GUIDEBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS” (tentative title)

Authors: HIGUCHI Akira and ARUDOU Debito
Languages: English and Japanese
Publisher: Akashi Shoten Inc., Tokyo
Due out: March 2008

Goal: To help non-Japanese entrants become residents and immigrants

Topics: Securing stable visas, Establishing businesses and secure jobs, Resolving legal problems, Planning for the future through to death…

Introduction and table of contents at

Fun Facts #9: Divorce, Population decrease, Japan’s minus GDP growth, and inherited Nat’l Diet member seats


Hi Blog. Here are another series of “Fun Facts”–innocuous-looking statistics which open portals into grander trends at work:

Fact one: Divorce rate rocketing, as predicted by Debito.org.

-> National Chauvinistic Husbands Association
Courtesy Terrie’s Take #442, December 2, 2007

The advent of a new law back in April this year which allows women to seek half of their husband’s pension has spawned both a boom in divorces (up 6.1% in April alone) as well as a reactionary protest group called the National Chauvinistic Husbands Association (NCHA). The group says that the “chauvinistic” part of their moniker, “kanpaku” in Japanese, refers more accurately to the top assistant to the emperor in days gone by, rather than the current negative meaning that it has today. Regardless, the association faces an uphill battle. Apparently 70% of Japanese women are staying single until 29 or later, versus 75% of them being married at that age twenty years ago, and 95% of all divorce applications come from women. (Source: TT commentary from kansascity.com, Nov 29, 2007)


COMMENT: Surprised by both the jump and the fact that almost all people asking for divorce are women. I was in the tiny minority. More on the issue of divorce in Japan at http://www.debito.org/thedivorce.html

On to Fact 2: Japan’s imminent depopulation:

-> Workers to fall 10.7m in 22 years
Courtesy Terrie’s Take #441, November 25, 2007

The Labor Ministry has said that Japan’s working population will drop by around 17%, or 10.7m people, by 2030. This will cause the current labor force of 66.57m to fall to 55.84m. The Ministry says that the fall could be held to less than half this amount if more women and elderly joined the workforce. ***Ed: And tell us again why the Japanese government has turned xenophobic about foreigners living in Japan? It’s only a matter of time before the realities of the market force a mind shift in the politicians and bureaucrats who today are so busy trying to keep foreigners and their child-breeding ways out of Japan.** (Source: TT commentary from nikkei.co.jp, Nov 23, 2007)


COMMENT: I will point out the irony behind the wan hope that forcing more women to work is actually going to help women want to have babies? And that the oft-touted development of robots (including this silly article from The Economist Dec 20th 2005 “Japan’s humanoid robots–Better than people: Why the Japanese want their robots to act more like humans”) is no elixir.

This leads us to Fact Three: Japan’s decreasing GDP Growth (in start contrast to the rest of the developed world. Courtesy of Niall Murtagh of The Community:

Debito — Interesting statistic on WBS news (World Biz Satellite) last night, December 2: can’t remember the figures exactly but in the 10 years from 1996 to 2006, GNP grew by over 50% in UK, Canada, Australia, 45%+ in France, Italy, and by about 2% in Japan.

In other words while Japan is not getting poorer, it is being left behind by nearly all other major (and minor) countries, as regards growth.

Immigration does seem to go in tandem with economic growth (from 1995-2005, non-nationals in Ireland went from almost none to 10% of population, while GNP increased by about 140%). It won’t happen here. Did a bit of quick googling and found figs that make the TV stats seem about right.

(Web site only gives figs in national currencies, so I calculated the % change).
It sure hasn’t been a great decade for Japan, even if statistics are only statistics!

GDP per capita, current prices
IMF World Economic Outlook and EconStats
1996 – 2006 % change
Japan: -1.47
Italy 47.14
France 38.60
UK 61.29
Germany 22.94
Netherlands 47.79
Spain 84.45
Finland 59.11
Greece 103.54
Portugal 66.93
Switzerland 22.08
Ireland 153.17
Australia 59.33
NewZealand 43.33
Canada 54.76
Korea 87.64
China 131.90
US 51.34

COMMENT: Do people really think they’re being served by the powers that be that run this country? Although I’m well aware the true policymakers in this society are the faceless bureaucrats, the actual policymaking part of Japan that is not faceless–the Diet–is actually a peerage masquerading as an elected legislature.

“When you look at the figures, what can only be called a political class becomes clear. After the last election, for example, 185 of 480 Diet members (39%) are second- or third- (or more) generation politicians (seshuu seijika). Of 244 members of the LDP (the ruling party for practically all the postwar period), 126 (52%) are inherited. Eight of the last ten Prime Ministers were from inherited seats, as are around half of the Abe and Fukuda Cabinets. When you have an average turnover of only about 3% per election, the cream floats to the top, and debates become very closed-circuit…”

Courtesy the author. Excerpted from my upcoming Japan Times Zeit Gist column out December 20, 2007, Draft Six. Otanoshimi ni…

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Hokkaido Shinbun Editorial and article on NJ Fingerprinting Debacle


Hi Blog. Finally got around to translating this, sorry for the wait. Two articles from the Hokkaido Shinbun, Japan’s largest regional newspaper with near-monopoly readership in Hokkaido. Despite trying to sit on the fence when it came to The Otaru “Japanese Only” Onsens Case (1999-2005), this time they come out quite clearly with misgivings about the NJ Fingerprinting thingie. Editorial first, article second–the latter depicting the Korean media giving Japan a lot of stick.

Why do I get the feeling that the editors are reading Debito.org? Ki no sei? Debito in Sapporo

The new Immigration procedures
Hokkaido Shinbun top editorial Tuesday, November 20, 2007, Morning Edition page 3
Original Japanese at http://www.debito.org/?p=821
Translated by Arudou Debito

Starting from today, a system requiring fingerprints and facial photos from Japanese coming to Japan comes into effect.

The goal is to stop terrorism. The fingerprints and photos will be instantly checked against a blacklist of terrorists and criminals, and if there is a problem, people will be refused entry at the border.

We understand the point of refusing terrorists at the shores. However, questions still remain about human rights, particularly privacy, when fingerprinting most of the 7,000,000 non-Japanese annually who come to Japan as if they were criminal suspects.

The bureaucrats in charge must not make decisions arbitrarily or on political grounds.

The system is grounded upon the amended Immigration and Refugee Control Act. We call for prudence when carrying out this policy:

First of all, there is nothing in the law which says how long these fingerprints or photos will be saved in a database. Immigration explains that “If we say how long, terrorists will wait until the end of the time limit and come in then.”

Although Japan is only the second country to create this biometric data program, after the United States, in America at least the time period for data storage is set at 75 years. That’s a person’s lifetime.

It is not inconceivable that the Japanese police will use this data in their criminal investigations. Chances are high that personal data will be leaked. We say that after the data is instantly checked against the database, it should be deleted immediately.

Second, the new powers granted the Minister of Justice under this amended law, to force people seen as “potential terrorists with the ability to easily carry out terrorist acts” (tero no jikkou o youi ni suru koui o okonau osore ga aru) to leave Japan’s borders, must be used properly.

Justice Minister Hatoyama Kunio said in a speech about these new regulations that a “friend of a friend of his is a member of al-Qaeda”. He was allegedly warned that there would be a terrorist bombing in Bali, Indonesia, two months before the event, and told to stay away.

But it is far too careless to assert that this person was indeed a member of al-Qaeda just based upon hearsay from a friend. If the Minister on this basis alone wishes to use his power to deport people, this is an abuse of his powers.

Third, the accuracy of this Blacklist they are putting together. In America, one out of every 500 citizens is now recorded on their blacklist as a terrorist suspect. It is said that even Nobel Peace Prize recipient Nelson Mandela is on it, and won’t be able to enter the United States.

All foreigners entering or leaving Japan [sic], except the Special Permanent Residents and children under 16, are to be targeted under this new system. That means 70% of all foreigners in Hokkaido. It won’t do to have our residents [shimin–meaning the editor is including NJ] mistakenly put on this list.

On the other hand, last month as an amendment to the employment laws, employers are now required to register the names and visa statuses of all their foreign workers gaining or changing employment. Now there is a systematic legal apparatus for administrating foreigners and all their personal information from entry through employment.

This apparently aims to reduce the number of illegal entrants, but having this strong an administration system is quite likely to increase foreigners’ ill feelings towards Japan. We must make sure that this inspection doesn’t result in violations of human rights.


Hokkaido Shinbun November 21, 2007
Translated by Arudou Debito

SUMMARY: A new Immigration system was brought on line on Nov 20 “for barring terrorists from entry”. In principle, this applies to foreigners over the age of 16 coming into Japan, where they will have their fingerprints and mug shots taken. Several vocally irate tourists were spotted at the international entry port at Chitose Airport. Korean media, the source of many of Japan’s tourists, was critical in its reporting, and the trend of public opinion may create the danger of a diplomatic flap.


Over the course of the day, 9 flights, including charters from Korea and Taiwan, brought about 1000 foreign tourists into Hokkaido. Korean tourist Kim Yong Gyun (65), who flew in from Pusan to Chitose, said with a bewildered look, “It’s not as if I feel good about having my fingerprints taken.” Machines were also breaking down, causing some consternation.

A semiconductor engineer from Seoul (37) did not contain his disdain. “This isn’t for catching terrorists. It’s for tightening the noose around overstayers. There’s absolutely no explanation whether or not they’ll protect our biometric data.”

Sapporo Immigration dealt with this with an emergency beefing up of inspection staff at Asahikawa, Hakodate, and Obihiro airports. Even then, at Hakodate Airport, a Korean Air flight of about 150 people were held up for an hour and 15 minutes, reckoned at about twice the usual duration. An airline staff member expressed his worry about the weekend, when the planes would actually be full.

On the other hands, the governments of their respective countries are withholding comment on the new system. Last year, of all the 410,000 total entrants into Hokkaido, the top group, at 134,000 people were Taiwanese, with Koreans coming in second. Both these countries have deep-rooted dislikes of Japan.

The Ministry of Justice sent representatives in October to the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and asked for their understanding. Both Japanese and Korean diplomats were advising prudence towards possible ill-feelings.

The Korean media on Nov 20 all reported in unison this state of affairs. The online edition of The Hankyoreh Shinbum reported an angry arrival at Narita Airport saying, “Foreigners are being treated as criminal reinforcements; this is a violation of human rights.” Kim Dae Hyung, Tokyo correspondent, reported, “Korea is still relatively unaware of what’s going on over here, but as far as human rights are concerned, this is very problematic. The Korean Government might be holding its tongue for the sake of good relations, but in reality they are watching public opinion.”


Several people trigger alarm for having history of deportation
Obihiro, other places have trouble reading fingerprints.

A new system was brought online on Nov 20, where foreigners over the age of 16 must have their fingerprints and mug shots taken. As of 5PM Nov 20, according to the Ministry of Justice, several people have tripped the database for having fingerprints matching those of previously deported people, which has raised several questions (gimon ten ga shoujiru).

These people were asked more details later, and there is a chance they might be deported.

In addition, the Justice Ministry announced that at Obihiro, Narita, Chubu International, Fukuoka and Hakata, a total of 21 people were unable to have their fingerprints scanned. They say their fingers were too worn down, as they were elderly people.

Created Yahoogroup for forming NPO for Immigrants, Permanent Residents, and Naturalized Citizens


Hi Blog. Got a week’s extension on my next Japan Times column, so I’m going to spend my Friday night doing what everyone does on a Friday night–writing protest letters, podcasting…

Oh, and creating a yahoogroup for the people who would like to participate in forming an NPO to represent the interests of NJ long-termers, permanent residents, immigrants, and naturalized citizens. (Sorry it took me a few days to get to it.)

Background on that discussion, plus tentative goals and statement of principles of the group at http://www.debito.org/?p=789

The group’s name is NPO Foreign Residents And Naturalized Citizens Association (Japan) (FRANCA).

So far we have two people–Steve Koya (who is willing to act as Treasurer) and myself (who will do whatever, probably speak out and write a lot).

The yahoogroup is designed for more private discussion and debate (as well as voting on resolutions and goals through the polls functions on the site). We’ll hammer something out over due time and then formally register the group with the government.

You can join by going to:


When you join, you will be asked by the settings if you want to write a message. Please do–tell us your real name, how long you’ve been in Japan, and what you hope to get out of this group. Thanks. I will vet and approve every application.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

PS: I’m seriously vetting for people who believe in the goals (see the yahoogroups site) of the group, and are serious about getting it off the ground. Trolls, moles, bemused bystanders, and people who trash groups for sport will not be accepted and will be dropped from the group if uncovered. (Sorry to sound Draconian, but I’ve got nearly a decade’s experience running lists like The Community and it’s better in the long run to front-load only the interested.) Goryoushou kudasai.

J Times: UNHCR’s Guterres bravely spins on Japan’s exclusionary refugee policy


Hi Blog. The United Nations drops in, and tries to put a brave face on Japan’s inability to accept refugees or asylum seekers like any other developed country. Stressing improvements when there really aren’t any. He’s a diplomat, all right. Debito in Sapporo


UNHCR chief pitches third-country resettlement
By KAHO SHIMIZU Staff writer
The Japan Times November 29, 2007

Japan is notorious for accepting very few refugees, despite making a significant financial contribution to the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

But the visiting head of the U.N. organization said Tuesday that Japan is making steady progress in improving the situation facing asylum seekers here.

“Japan is not a country with many refugees . . . but the asylum system is moving in the right direction,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told reporters during his three-day visit to Tokyo.

After arriving Monday, Guterres met with government officials, including Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama and Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura, and left the country Wednesday morning.

Japan was the UNHCR’s third-largest donor country in 2006, with a $75 million (¥8.1 billion) contribution, after being the second-largest donor for eight years through 2005.

However, the number of people granted refugee status in Japan remains small. In 2006, the government recognized only 34 people as refugees, compared with 23,296 in the U.S. and 6,330 in Britain.

Since assuming the top position at the UNHCR in 2005, Guterres, 58, said he has witnessed some improvements in Japan. These include the introduction of an appeal system to review cases of people whose applications for refugee status have been turned down, and the move by authorities to grant protection for people whose applications have been rejected but are allowed to stay for humanitarian reasons.

Above all, the most encouraging development for Guterres was that Japan has begun discussing the possible introduction of the third-country resettlement program, which means accepting refugees who sought asylum in other countries.

The UNHCR views resettlement in a third country as an important tool of protection and a durable solution for refugees, especially when voluntary repatriation to their home countries and local integration are difficult.

In September, the government set up a working group involving officials of the Justice Ministry, Foreign Ministry and other bodies, and began studying the program.

The U.S., Canada and Australia were among the first countries that began offering third-country resettlement opportunities, but although countries in South America, including Brazil and Argentina, recently introduced such a system, no Asian country has done so.

Guterres said he felt there is political will from the Justice Ministry and the Foreign Ministry to introduce the system because they are making a serious analysis of conditions to bring it about.

“We would very much appreciate that (if Japan becomes) the first Asian country to install the program,” Guterres said. But at the same time, the former Portuguese prime minister said the UNHCR does not want Japan to rush, nor is it necessary for Japan to accept a great number of refugees from the beginning, because the U.N. organization wants a system that really works to help asylum seekers.

People’s awareness about refugees in Japan is relatively low due in part to its geographical location, but Guterres said he was encouraged by growing interest among young people.

The Japan Times: Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007

FCCJ No.1 Shimbun interviews Prez Ogasawara of Japan Times.


Hi Blog. Working on my next Japan Times column, due tomorrow (and this one is pretty tough going–I’ve got too much to say).

But here’s something you might find interesting. Interview with Yukiko Ogasawara, President of the Japan Times, in the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan’s “No.1 Shimbun”. Even a citation from Debito.org, thanks!  Debito in Sapporo
The future of print: “The newspaper business still has a few years left here”
by Tony McNicol. Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan No.1 Shimbun December 3, 2007

Courtesy of the author.

Things could hardly have been worse when Yukiko Ogasawara became president of the Japan Times last March. She faced the aftermath of wide-ranging job cuts, a precipitous drop in the newspaper’s circulation, and fierce, growing competition from Internet news sites, expat bloggers and the rest of the so-called new media.

Her father, Toshiaki Ogasawara, the chairman of plastic parts and components manufacturer Nifco Inc., bought the Japan Times in 1983. This year The Japan Times celebrated its 110th anniversary. Daughter Ogasawara says she is determined to increase circulation and put the paper back on a firm financial footing. But with the Japan Times losing money, and far more commercially successful print media also feeling the pinch, is it even worth trying?

Blogger Debito Arudou recently triggered a lively debate with an impassioned plea for the Japan Times’ survival. He argued that the broadsheet had a special role to play as the “only independent newspaper in Japan.” Putting the opposite case, Mark Devlin, publisher of the Japan Today news website recommend people “just let the damn thing die … there is a slim possibility that some new blood would come along and resuscitate it.”

So which is it? Is the Japan Times a dinosaur doomed to extinction or a phoenix about to rise from the ashes of the print media? The No. 1 Shimbun recently spoke to Yukiko Ogasawara in her office.


Rest at http://www.fccj.or.jp/node/2993