Japan Today: DPJ at odds with itself over PR Suffrage

Hi Blog. Oh well, never mind the DPJ trying to split New Komeito off from the LDP. Seems the Suffrage for Permanent Residents issue has set the DPJ against itself as well, according to Japan Today. This issue is not settled by any means (the DPJ is all over the map ideologically anyway, so this degree of dissent is quite normal, actually), so let’s see where the kerfuffle goes. But for all the people that say that Japan’s NJ demographics and labor issues are politically insignificant, we may in fact be seeing quite a few fault lines between old and new Japan after all… Arudou Debito

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POLITICS
DPJ holds opposing meetings on foreigners voting in local elections
Japan Today/Kyodo News Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 07:04 EST
http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/426622
Courtesy of Adam Wallace

TOKYO — Members of the Democratic Party of Japan on Wednesday held two separate meetings, one involving lawmakers and proxies who support allowing foreigners with permanent residence status to vote in local elections and another involving those opposed to the idea.

While DPJ members emphasize that they will not allow the issue to create an intra-party division, the development apparently shows that members of the largest opposition party do not see eye-to-eye on the matter.

About 80 DPJ lawmakers and proxies attended an inaugural meeting of a group supporting the idea shortly past noon, while approximately 50 gathered in the afternoon for a study session opposing it.

Both gatherings, held in the Diet building, were attended by 23 parliamentarians each.

DPJ Vice President Katsuya Okada, who was elected chairman of the group supporting the idea, expressed his readiness to work on drafting a bill to grant local suffrage to permanent residents for submission to the Diet during the ongoing regular session through June.

“This issue has been an ardent wish for the DPJ for many years. There are various opinions within the party, but we want to gain the understanding of many and to present the bill” to parliament, Okada said at the outset of the group’s meeting.

In the other gathering, Kozo Watanabe, the DPJ’s top adviser, said it was necessary to discuss the issue cautiously while seeking unity among all party members.

“It is a very important issue. We will not start out with a conclusion but rather study how we can gain the understanding of the people,” Watanabe said.

Those attending the meeting opposing the idea decided to request that the issue be discussed by the DPJ’s shadow cabinet.

DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa has expressed support for the idea to allow permanent residents to vote in local elections and made remarks to that effect when he met with an envoy of South Korea’s President-elect Lee Myung Bak in Tokyo in mid-January.

The South Korean government has repeatedly called on Japan to allow permanent residents of Korean descent, who make up the bulk of foreign residents in Japan, to vote in local elections. South Korea allowed foreigners who have lived in the country for more than three years after obtaining permanent residency to vote in local elections for the first time in June 2006. (emphasis added)

While many members of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party are opposed to granting local suffrage to permanent residents, its coalition partner, the New Komeito party, has long pushed for the move.

LDP lawmakers who oppose the idea argue it could violate the Constitution, saying the supreme law gives the Japanese people the “inalienable right” to choose electorates in Japan.

Under current laws, only citizens with Japanese nationality aged 20 or over are eligible to vote in local and national elections.

Some municipalities in Japan have passed ordinances to allow foreign citizens with permanent resident status to vote in local referendums. (Kyodo News)
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 30, 2008

Hi All. Been a while since I’ve had time to send you a Newsletter, but the blog has still been updated without fail. Yotte, things have piled up. Don’t be intimidated by the sheer number of articles–all have summaries and links below to full text.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 30, 2008
HEADLINES

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FURTHER POLICING IN JAPAN
1) Gyaku on upcoming GOJ regulations of the Internet: Online content, keitai, and file sharing
2) Kyodo: MOJ says GOJ to scrap NJ registration system and Gaijin Cards
3) Japan Times: Foreigner registration revision to include ID chip, probably same policing function
4) GOJ floats trial balloon: Japanese language improvement for visas
5) ABC Radio Australia: “Expatriates concerned by plans for Japanese language tests”
6) Yomiuri: GOJ shutting out ‘hooligans’ (i.e. antiglobalization activists) from Hokkaido G-8 summit
7) Mark Mino-Thompson on “updated” Hotel Laws: Refusal OK if “unreasonable/unrational burden”
8) Asahi: NPA Survey: 25% of hotels not following NPA demands to check “foreign guest” passports.
9) FCCJ Photo Journalist Per Bodner’s account of his arrest on fictitious “assault charges”
10) Kandai PR Harassment: Why you don’t let non-Immigration people make Immigration decisions…
11) Jeff on Japanese police documenting neighborhood residents
12) TIME: “Japan thwarts abusive police” by tweaking interrogation rules
13) Permanent Resident protests US Govt’s hypocritical apathy towards NJ Fingerprint policy
14) Patricia Aliperti & Catherine Makino on NJ Sexual Slavery/Human Trafficking in Japan

GOOD NEWS
15) Yomiuri: DPJ pushing bill for NJ voting rights in local elections
16) Economist Leader makes the case why immigration is a good thing
17) Christian Science Monitor: “Japanese youth help compatriots embrace diversity”

ODDITIES AND STUPEFIERS
18) Yomiuri et al: 71% of NJ tourists come for Japan’s food, yet 35% of J don’t want NJ tourism increase
19) KTO on a naturalizer back in 1985
20) Historical artifact: NJ Jobs in 1984 (Tokyo Shinbun)

…and finally…
21) Speech by Arudou Debito at Waseda Jan 22, 5PM, on Japan’s Immigration and Human Rights Record (with links to paper and powerpoint presentation)
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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org,
Daily Blog entries at http://www.debito.org/index.php
Freely forwardable

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FURTHER POLICING IN JAPAN

1) Gyaku on upcoming GOJ regulations of the Internet: Online content, keitai, and file sharing

A post on our future as bloggers here: Internet info site Gyaku on Japan’s future regulation of the Internet. If enacted, we’re going to see widespread regulation of online content, cellphone use, and file sharing in Japan. Have to admit–places like 2-Channel (with whom I have an unrequited libel lawsuit victory against) have brought this down upon all of us…
http://www.debito.org/?p=895

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2) Kyodo: MOJ says GOJ to scrap NJ registration system and Gaijin Cards

Kyodo: The government plans to scrap the registration system on foreign nationals living in Japan, Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama said Friday. Read more commentary on why this may be both a good and bad thing…
http://www.debito.org/?p=1010

3) Japan Times: Foreigner registration revision to include ID chip, probably same policing function

More on Foreign Registry Law revision: Yoji Shimada, a Tochigi Prefecture-based public notary, said that although a change in the defective Alien Registration Law is welcome, the proposal so far shows no extensive improvement. “Foreigners will still be listed on a separate ledger from Japanese residents, and they will most likely be required to carry their IDs at all times.” Shimada said that information on households may become more accessible by local governments, but discriminatory clauses will likely remain. “The Justice Ministry will have better control and more information on foreigners in Japan — and that seems to be the only change in the proposal for the new law,” he said. Read more…
http://www.debito.org/?p=1014

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4) GOJ floats trial balloon: Japanese language improvement for visas

GOJ Foreign Minister Komura floated a policy trial balloon to require language testing and improvement before granting NJ long-term visas in future. Problems abound, not the least the GOJ is resorting to sticks, not carrots, to make people learn Nihongo. The term “long term” is vague, and how many laborers would want to spend all this time learning a language which only matter within this archipelago (when they could learn English, French, Spanish, etc. and work in lots more places)? I agree that everyone should learn how to read, write, and speak Japanese if they want to live here. I just think the proposal as it stands is (as usual) half-baked and encouraging of more NJ workplace and visa abuses. Read more…
http://www.debito.org/?p=927

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5) ABC Radio Australia: “Expatriates concerned by plans for Japanese language tests”

Broadcast text: “The new regulations, supposedly aimed at eradicating illegal residents, is just going to push them underground more than anything,” Dr Burgess told Radio Australia. “I think, in some ways this is a poorly thought out policy and just a knee-jerk reaction to public attitudes which demand more to be done to tackle the foreign crime – a myth that you see in newspapers all the time, that foreigners are criminals; unfounded statistically, but that’s the myth.” Coupla other comments worth viewing/listening to…
http://www.debito.org/?p=934

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6) Yomiuri: GOJ shutting out ‘hooligans’ (i.e. antiglobalization activists) from Hokkaido G-8 summit

Moral: All it takes is a new vague law to be passed, and the government will find ways to tweak it to filter out things at its own convenience. Witness what’s going on in the Yomiuri article below with the “new immigration laws” (i.e. fingerprinting and photographing at the border for NJ only). First it was justified on the grounds of preventing terrorism in the Post-9/11 World. Then with the SARS Pneumonia outbreak in 2003 (seen as an illness only foreigners carry, which is why some hotels began banning foreign guests), suddenly it was also justifiable as a way to prevent infectious diseases. Then just as it was coming online it became an “anti-foreign crime” measure. Then right afterwards it became (with the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen) a means to forcibly incarcerate anyone who doesn’t cooperate with immigration discretion for whatever reason. And as of a few days ago, it’s going to be instrumental in keeping out “antiglobalization activists” (whatever that means) It’s
become an “anti-hooligan” measure. As though G-8 Summits are football matches….
http://www.debito.org/?p=893

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7) Mark Mino-Thompson on “updated” Hotel Laws: Refusal OK if “unreasonable/unrational burden”

Mark Mino-Thompson reports below on his discovery of new “amendments” to the Ryokan Gyouhou (Hotel Management Law), created in English and Japanese legalese and in generic format (meaning written by somebody else) for use in hotels nationwide. They are vague enough to make it seem as though a hotel could refuse a NJ lodging if the lodger poses an “unreasonable/unrational burden” (such as speaking a foreign language or offering futons instead of beds?). Read more…
http://www.debito.org/?p=912

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Now let’s take a look at how things work in practice…

8) Asahi: NPA Survey: 25% of hotels not following NPA demands to check “foreign guest” passports. Toyoko Inn not one of them.

A survey reported on the front page of the Asahi yesterday (courtesy Evan H., Matt, and H.O.) indicates that a quarter of major hotels nationwide sampled have qualms about asking NJ for their passports, and a third of them refused to copy them for police use. (No wonder–they can’t. By law they can only ask passports from NJ who have no addresses in Japan–meaning tourists.) Hotels cite privacy reasons, and the problems and discomfort involved with explaining the rules to guests. Quite. Thank you. The Japanese article, however, notes that “some voices” (whoever they are) are noting the lack of punishment for noncooperating hotels (meaning we’ve got some legal holes to plug in the gaijin dragnet). Moreover, the survey was carried out by the National Police Agency. But you wouldn’t know either of these things if you read the English article only…
http://www.debito.org/?p=899

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9) FCCJ Photo Journalist Per Bodner’s account of his arrest on fictitious “assault charges”

Per Bodner, a professional photo journalist from Sweden (8 years resident in Japan, married with a house here), was arrested and charged with a alleged assault on a Tokyo taxicab driver right outside the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on his way home from work November 28. His account of the incarceration and legal treatment (and ignored testimony) as a defendant, presented at the FCCJ December 12, 2007, blogged here. Read more…
http://www.debito.org/?p=938

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10) Kandai PR Harassment: Why you don’t let non-Immigration people make Immigration decisions…

Here’s why you don’t let amateurs make decisions involving Immigration. Kansai University is harassing one of its teachers for proof of Re-Entry Permit or else they’ll report him as illegal. Despite the fact he is not leaving the country (and needs no REP) and doesn’t need a visa–because he’s a Permanent Resident! Ill-thought-out policy once again falls on the shoulders of the NJ. Read more…
http://www.debito.org/?p=1015

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11) Jeff on Japanese police documenting neighborhood residents

Is this happening to you? Cops coming to your door assiduously to find out who’s living there? Asking you to write down very personal details on a special card for keeping at the local police station? Are places with NJ residents being singled out? I open this topic to comments to see if there is any kind of national campaign going on, since this has never happened to me in all my twenty plus years in Japan, either as a Japanese or as a NJ. And if it did, I doubt I am under any legal compulsion to cooperate. Read more…
http://www.debito.org/?p=905

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Still, some reporters have hope springing eternal…

12) TIME: “Japan thwarts abusive police” by tweaking interrogation rules

TIME Magazine: “Facing mounting accusations of brutality, Japan’s National Police set their first-ever guidelines for questioning methods Thursday in an attempt to rein in agents who go too far in pressuring suspects to confess. Critics, however, say the new rules don’t go far enough because they don’t call for video cameras or defense attorneys in interrogation rooms, though one-way mirrors will be installed.” Read more of a rather glib article, which doesn’t go into detail into the problems, and only offers wan hope for solutions…
http://www.debito.org/?p=1013

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Yet who will help us? Certainly not the USG…

13) Permanent Resident protests US Govt’s hypocritical apathy towards NJ Fingerprint policy

Friend protests inaction of US Govt regarding NJ Fingerprinting: “I just finished reading your January newsletter. In it, like the previous two, you mentioned the new Japanese immigration control law without comment. What I have not read in recent newsletters — what I and probably many other permanent-resident Americans in Japan are wondering — is what you have done to protest the new law. Regrettably, I have not heard a peep from the embassy regarding this discriminatory law. In case you don’t know, many permanent-resident Americans are upset about it…” Read more…
http://www.debito.org/?p=911

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Yet here’s what happens when laws don’t get enforced…

14) Patricia Aliperti & Catherine Makino on NJ Sexual Slavery/Human Trafficking in Japan

Hi Blog. Here is a situation covered only infrequently by the media and by the likes of Debito.org (mainly because there is so little public information out there, and it’s a topic I’m not at liberty to research myself)–how sex trafficking, particularly that involving non-Japanese, is a flourishing business. And how Japan is one of the world’s major trading posts for it…
http://www.debito.org/?p=682

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GOOD NEWS

15) Yomiuri: DPJ pushing bill for NJ voting rights in local elections

Here’s some very good news. Kazuo Kitagawa, secretary-general of ruling coalition partner Komeito, has voiced support for opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader Ichiro Ozawa’s suggestion of considering submitting a bill to give foreigners with permanent residence status the right to vote in local elections. Somebody at least is recognizing the reality that you can’t keep people who live here permanently for generations permanently disenfranchised from the democratic process. One more reason to support the DPJ (or the New Komeito, depending on your politics–hopefully enticing it out of its Faustian deal with the devil just to share power with the LDP).

Wouldn’t it be interesting if in the end what made the LDP finally fall from power was issues of immigration and assimilation? Two articles at
http://www.debito.org/?p=900
http://www.debito.org/?p=1008

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16) Economist Leader makes the case why immigration is a good thing

Economist (London) on Immigration: “Above all, perspective is needed. The vast population movements of the past four decades have not brought the social strife the scaremongers predicted. On the contrary, they have offered a better life for millions of migrants and enriched the receiving countries both culturally and materially. But to preserve these great benefits in the future, politicians need the courage not only to speak up against the populist tide in favour of the gains immigration can bring, but also to deal honestly with the problems it can sometimes cause.” Read more…
http://www.debito.org/?p=904

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17) Christian Science Monitor: “Japanese youth help compatriots embrace diversity”

CSM: “Certainly, the self-image of a homogeneous society remains strong. But some say that perception is incorrect. The official count of registered foreign residents is 2 percent of the nation’s total population of 128 million; but that represents an increase of 47 percent in the past 10 years and excludes many non-Japanese residents. While Japan has witnessed more international marriages — 21,000 children are born to these couples every year — its census figures do not show ethnicity. Moreover, the number of registered foreigners does not include naturalized citizens, indigenous people, or those who overstay their visas, argues Debito Arudou, a US-born social activist who became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 2000.” Read more…
http://www.debito.org/?p=933

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ODDITIES

18) Yomiuri et al: 71% of NJ tourists come for Japan’s food, yet 35% of J don’t want NJ tourism increase

Eating Japanese food is the most commonly stated reason for visiting Japan among overseas tourists, according to a recent survey. Within character have the Yomiuri talk less about the deterrents to entry (fingerprinting and treatment like criminals and terrorists) and accentuate the positives (food, natch–always THE safe topic for conversation in Japan). Update indicates that Japan is the 30th most popular nation to travel to, although it’s 8.3 million tourists nationwide in 2007 is even less than New York City’s tourism alone. No wonder–35% of the public surveyed in 2003 don’t want tourists due to fears of foreign crime. Read more….
http://www.debito.org/?p=858

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19) KTO on a naturalizer back in 1985
Article in Kansai Time Out regarding a person who naturalized in 1985, for bureaucratic reasons quite different to mine. Read more…
http://www.debito.org/?p=1017

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20) Historical artifact: NJ Jobs in 1984 (Tokyo Shinbun)
Old historical breakdown of jobs for foreigners a quarter century ago. The number seems a bit low (less than 15,000 accounted for), even for back then. And of course the Zainichi aren’t included as “real foreigners” worth tabulating. Seems bad social science isn’t just the domain of the present day. Read more…
http://www.debito.org/?p=930

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MISCELLANEOUS

21) Speech at Waseda Jan 22, 5PM, on Japan’s Immigration and Human Rights Record

WASEDA UNIVERSITY DOCTORAL STUDENT NETWORK PRESENTS A SYMPOSIUM: “Implications of Japanese domestic human rights record (for foreign residents or Japanese) on Asian Integration”

JANUARY 22, 2008 5PM-7PM, FEATURED SPEAKERS: Kawakami Sonoko, Amnesty International, Katsuma Yasushi, Associate Professor, Waseda University, and Arudou Debito. Read more…
http://www.debito.org/?p=936

You can download my Powerpoint presentation and substantiating paper here….
http://www.debito.org/?p=937

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All for today, indeed. Thanks as always for reading!
Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, www.debito.org/index.php
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 30, 2008 ENDS

KTO on a naturalizer back in 1985

Hi Blog. Here’s something interesting–a person who naturalized due to bureaucratic exigency. My reasons are quite different, of course. And the procedure for me was easier as well. But I agree with him that even after naturalization “I just feel myself.” But of course I feel Japanese as well, FWIW. As I said, my motivations for naturalizing are fundamentally different.

Anyone know what happened to this guy? It’s been twenty years. Courtesy Michael H. Fox. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

(Click on image to expand in your browser.)
ktooct86001.jpg
ENDS

Kandai PR Harassment: Why you don’t let non-Immigration people make Immigration decisions…

Hi Blog. As regular readers know, as of October 1, 2007, all employers must report their NJ employees to the MHLW’s unemployment office, Hello Work, or face fines for potentially employing NJ in violation of their visas.

We’ve already uncovered on Debito.org some enforcement difficulties in deciding whether this meant NJ employed “full-time” or “part time” (this, as usual from a GOJ that likes grey areas of enforcement, has been left vague), with one case of somebody being demanded his Gaijin Card for receiving 500 yen compensation! Ludicrous.

Now here’s the next phase. An angry email from a friend of a friend, edited somewhat but with preserved emphases. About a person being hassled by his workplace (Kansai University) regarding issues they clearly know nothing about: over a Re-Entry Permit (being told he’s illegal visawise unless he gets one; wrong) despite being a Permanent Resident. Blogged with permission.

This is why you don’t let people who know nothing of Immigration law make Immigration decisions. Expect more of this sort of thing in future. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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PREAMBLE FROM FORWARDING FRIEND:

I got this mail from a colleague the other day. I am sending it (mostly uncut) to the PALE list to show how schools, which are not immigration officials, can mess up and abuse their power in potentially harmful ways.

Some background:
Apparently the govt. has asked employers to make sure all of their employees have valid papers to work in Japan. Some colleges, such as Kansai University, has therefore been asking non Japanese teaching personnel to prove their status. Others have ignored this, or gone about it another way. Signed, RR.

PS The letter did no good, and KanDai is still hasseling the instructor in question. His gaijin card, which they initially told him had expired (it did not, it is good until late 2008) stated that he was on a spouse visa, and since he was recently divorced, KanDai’s interpretation was that he was no long legally in the country. The problem is that the cards are good for 10 years, and that the card holder had subsequently moved to permanent resident status, a change that was not reflected in the actual card.

FORWARDED EMAIL FOLLOWS:

————————–
Maybe you can clarify this issue for me. Please read the letter below that I sent to Kandai.

While I have not renewed my Reentry Permit yet (which expired in October; from what I understand from many foreign teachers who have Permanent Resident status here, the only problem with having this expire and not renewed is that I cannot get back into Japan–if I leave), I planned to renew it after my classes ended. I have been too busy to go to the Marutamachi office during the semester.

I went to the ward office with a Japanese friend after Kandai told me that I was here illegally. The ward office staff there told me (after seeing my passport and Gaijin Card) that there was no problem with me being here illegally–that I am a PR and therefore legal–and that there is no PR visa that expires.

Kandai still insists that there is a problem. I will go to Marutamachi office later this week–when my friend has time to go. I do not want to go alone, because, if there is a problem, I would be arrested and probably thrown in jail. I want someone to know that I have been arrested, so that they can contact a lawyer or the union.

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Dear Ueno-sama,

Enclosed are copies of the relevant stamps in my passport. Please pass them—and this letter—on to the appropriate person.

I am a PERMANENT RESIDENT in Japan. Please be clear on this point. I have talked with NUMEROUS people (ward office staff and foreign permanent residents teachers of long standing here) about the problem that your office has with my “Gaijin Card”–and they all say that your office is reading the card wrong and that your office apparently does not understand the laws and regulations concerning foreign resident status.

On Christmas Day (a religious holiday for me), I went down to my ward office—and they told me that there was NOTHING ILLEGALLY WRONG with my status here and that they see NO PROBLEM.

Now, I must go down to the Immigration Office (and waste one more day of my time to sort this problem out because after the new year began, your office, again, insisted that there was a problem.

I am sure that there is NOTHING ILLEGAL about my documents—the pertinent one has not expired. From what I understand, the PR visa does not even have to be renewed.

Nevertheless, because your office keeps INSISTING THAT I AM HERE ILLEGALLY, I MUST WASTE ANOTHER DAY IN ORDER TO STRAIGHTEN OUT THIS MATTER. I WILL ASK THE IMMIGRATION OFFICE TO CALL YOUR OFFICE—OR TO WRITE YOUR OFFICE A LETTER–TO INFORM YOU AS TO HOW PERMANENT RESIDENCY STATUS HERE WORKS.

Your office has asked to see my card a few times now and you have made numerous copies. You have asked to see my passport, which, legally, there is no reason your office needs to see this.

I HOPE THAT THESE COPIES FINALLY SOLVE THE PROBLEM.

I only say all of this because your office has caused me much stress over this matter (having an expired visa is cause for arrest, imprisonment–and deportation here—quite harsh punishments—and quite racist, as a matter of fact). So, your office has caused me much worry and wasted time on this matter.

It really makes me wonder if I have been singled out for harassment because I am a union member at Kandai. I will forward a copy of this to my union president, just so my union is aware of this issue. (Ueno-sama, I realize that you are only doing what you are told—but the people in the office should make it a point to understand the law.)
Sincerely,< < __._,_.___ ENDS

Japan Times: Foreigner registration revision to include ID chip, probably same policing function

Hi Blog. Jun Hongo got on this–the system comes more into focus. NHK said Jan 27 that Gaijin Cards will be replaced with IC Cards, too… Debito

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Foreigner registration system to be revised
May lead to better services, more control
The Japan Times: Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008
By JUN HONGO, Staff writer
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080126a1.html

The government plans to abolish the current registration system for foreigners living in Japan and introduce a new regime similar to that for Japanese residents that will manage them on a household basis, Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama said Friday.

The new arrangement, which is being examined by a team at the Justice Ministry and the internal affairs ministry, is expected to introduce a new registry system under which detailed information of foreign residents on a household basis, instead of an individual basis, will be kept by local governments.

Critics view the new system, however, as increased state control.

Under the current general registration law it is a requirement for foreign residents’ births, deaths and marriages to be reported. But the new alien registration law will make it easier for local governments to collect such information from foreigners.

Local officials often claim it is difficult for them to provide foreign nationals with information in areas such as school enrollment, health insurance and residence tax procedures. Some are also concerned about crimes committed by foreign nationals.

While the new system may help local authorities improve their services for foreign residents, some critics say it is likely to increase governmental control over foreign residents in Japan.

Hatoyama said Friday he hopes to submit a bill to abolish the current Alien Registration Law to enable the new arrangement to be passed in the next ordinary Diet session. The plan surfaced as a result of the government’s decision last June to revise the foreign registration system by 2009 to better cope with local government needs.

“Details have not been finalized and we are not at the point of revealing” the new regulations, a spokesman for the Immigration Control Office said, but the finalized outline of the law is expected to be released this spring.

Under the Alien Registration Law enacted in 1952, all foreigners in Japan are obliged to apply for registration with the local government of their residence.

Currently, only photographs, passport and registration forms are required for the process, which are used to clarify matters pertaining to their residence and status. There were 2.08 million registered foreigners in Japan at the end of 2006.

The government is also considering replacing the current alien registration cards, which foreign residents are required to carry at all times, with a new certificate card.

Under the new system, long-term foreign residents will get registration cards at airports and local immigration offices, which will then be used to register their information at local governments.

The data will be controlled in a similar manner as for Japanese citizens, and used to compile information for taxation, health insurance programs and census-taking. Special permanent residents, including those in Japan before the war and their descendants, are also expected to be listed in the new registry system.

Makoto Miyaguchi, an official of Minokamo, Gifu Prefecture, which has a large Brazilian population, said the current law is not sufficient to provide administrative services for foreigners in his city.

“Since the current system does not gather detailed information, we have often been unable to give adequate services for foreigners in the area,” including school guidance for parents and information on welfare services, he said.

Approximately 10 percent, or 50,000 residents, in Minokamo are registered foreigners.

Miyaguchi said that both his city and its foreign population will benefit from the overall detailed management, since it will be able to better track locations and the status of foreign individuals and households.

But while some suggest that the new system will view foreigners as legitimate residents instead of objects of supervision, others say it will only strengthen government control over foreigners while providing minimal improvement in their lives.

Yoji Shimada, a Tochigi Prefecture-based public notary, said that although a change in the defective Alien Registration Law is welcome, the proposal so far shows no extensive improvement.

“Foreigners will still be listed on a separate ledger from Japanese residents, and they will most likely be required to carry their IDs at all times,” said Shimada, who is married to a Thai.

Shimada said that information on households may become more accessible by local governments, but discriminatory clauses will likely remain. “The Justice Ministry will have better control and more information on foreigners in Japan — and that seems to be the only change in the proposal for the new law,” he said.

The Japan Times: Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008
ENDS

Yomiuri et al: 71% of NJ tourists come for Japan’s food, yet 35% of J don’t want NJ tourism increase

Hi Blog. Quick one just for this evening (back in Sapporo, want to take the evening off), long backlogged. Hopeful article by the Yomiuri done in classic Japanese style. When something might be problematic, talk about food… Never mind the fingerprinting and getting treated like terrorists and criminals by both the GOJ and the general public. Two articles follow. Debito

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71% of foreign tourists enticed by Japan’s food
The Yomiuri Shimbun Dec. 19, 2007
Courtesy Jeff Korpa
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20071219TDY02301.htm

Eating Japanese food is the most commonly stated reason for visiting Japan among overseas tourists, according to a recent survey.

In the survey, which allowed multiple answers and was conducted by Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO), 71 percent of respondents cited Japanese cuisine among their motives for coming to Japan.

Since interest in Japanese food overseas is expected to rise following the release in November of the Michelin Guide Tokyo 2008, the first Japanese restaurant guidebook to be published by the famous French tire company, the JNTO foresees an increase in travelers coming to Japan with the intention of sampling Japanese food.

Among other reasons given for visiting Japan, 49 percent of respondents said they were interested in traditional Japanese architecture, followed by traditional Japanese gardens, at 46 percent, hot springs, at 36 percent, and visiting traditional ryokan inns, at 29 percent.
ENDS

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FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE, COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR…

Japan woos visitors with free tours, fine dining
Just the 30th favorite nation to visit, Japan hopes to boost tourism – and the economy.
By Takehiko Kambayashi | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
January 23, 2008 edition
http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0123/p04s03-woap.html

Kamakura, Japan
Last November, the eminent Michelin Guide awarded 191 stars to 150 restaurants in Tokyo – far more than 65 stars that restaurants in Paris, the previous record-holder, had.

It was an unexpected selling point for Japan, which on Jan. 20 launched its fourth annual campaign to attract more tourists. The government hopes that a strengthened tourism industry will boost the economy, especially amid growing concerns about how badly US economic problems might affect Japan.

The six-week promotion period, called “Yokoso (Welcome) Japan Weeks,” is part of a goal set in 2003 to double the number of foreign tourists to 10 million by 2010. “I would like people from overseas to visit Japan and to gain momentum for economic revitalization,” said then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

About 8.3 million tourists visited Japan last year. Nine million people are expected this year. But Japan has a long way to go: New York City alone received 8.5 million foreign visitors in 2007.

At home, the government faces a longstanding ambivalence toward foreigners. A 2003 survey shows that, while 48 percent of those polled would like to see more foreign tourists, 32 percent don’t. About 90 percent of them blame increased tourism for a “rise in crimes committed by foreigners.”

To break down barriers and woo tourists, the Japanese government has been distributing pamphlets and coupons, participating in international exhibitions, and offering discount tours.

It also organizes free walking tours on the weekends. A tour guide takes a small group of tourists – as few as two to five people – and shows them around popular sites around a city, such as the Imperial Palace and Akihabara (known as “electric town”) in Tokyo. Similar tours are offered in Kyoto and Nagoya.

On top of the government’s outreach efforts, the divisions overseeing tourism within the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism will be upgraded to a bureau in October. Their collective budget is expected to increase from the current $60 million – about the cost of constructing just one mile of highway, according to Shiro Komatsu, research director at Mitsubishi Research Institute Inc.

Boosting foreign-language skills has been another goal, since the language barrier is one of the main difficulties tourists say they face in Japan. Osaka Prefecture, for example, has trained more than 1,000 volunteers over the past three years; its staff can now accommodate seven foreign languages.

Japan’s recruiting drive comes at a time when the country is faced with several lingering diplomatic issues. Its whale hunting near Antarctica has drawn international criticism.
The United States, Canada, the Netherlands, and the European Union have adopted resolutions condemning Japan’s World War II practice of “comfort women” who were forced into sexual slavery.

Diplomatic tensions exist closer to home, too. Many citizens of China and Korea, who make up almost three-quarters of Japan’s tourists, hold lingering resentment because of Japanese aggression during the early 20th century.

Japan’s relations with both of those countries suffered when Mr. Koizumi, who was prime minister from 2001 to 2006, made repeated, highly symbolic visits to the controversial Yasukuni shrine, which memorializes millions of Japanese soldiers as well as several Class A war criminals from World War II, including Prime Minister Gen. Hideki Tojo.

Still, more than 5 million tourists from Asian countries visited in 2006. Many Japanese are working to win these and other foreigners over. “We would like [foreign travelers] to know Japanese people and then we would like to communicate with them,” says Kenpei Sumida, a manager at Tokyo City Guide Club, a volunteer group that offers free walking tours as part of the campaign. “Even though it is a short period of time, it is always good to meet with guests from overseas. We would like them to go home with heartwarming memories.”
ENDS

TIME: “Japan thwarts abusive police” by tweaking interrogation rules

Hi Blog. Too little too late…? And not enough background on Japanese police abuses… Debito

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Japan Thwarts Abusive Police
TIME Magazine Friday, Jan. 25, 2008 By AP/MARI YAMAGUCHI
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1706870,00.html
Courtesy of Jon Lenvik

(TOKYO)—No beatings. No threats. No overnight interrogations. Facing mounting accusations of brutality, Japan’s National Police set their first-ever guidelines for questioning methods Thursday in an attempt to rein in agents who go too far in pressuring suspects to confess.

The new rules are the first serious step by the police to change their methods, which have long been criticized at home and abroad for relying too much on confessions — often coerced — rather than on evidence.

The role of confessions has been a cornerstone of a criminal justice system in which more than 99 percent of cases that go to trial result in convictions, and judges are much more lenient in sentencing defendants who have confessed.

The rules, outlined in a 10-page report, ban interrogators from touching, threatening or verbally abusing suspects or forcing them to stay in one position. Interrogation sessions that run overnight or last more than eight hours are prohibited.

Critics, however, say the new rules don’t go far enough because they don’t call for video cameras or defense attorneys in interrogation rooms, though one-way mirrors will be installed.

“The new guidelines are not totally meaningless, and they could bring a certain level of vigilance,” said Toshio Tanaka, a lawyer specializing in interrogations. “But they’re far from sufficient until interrogations can be visually monitored.”

The changes follow a series of high-profile cases that uncovered heavy-handed police tactics.

Police in November admitted that a man had served two years in prison after being convicted of rape in 2002 based on a false confession. The real rapist was captured last year by police, and the first suspect is suing the government.
ENDS

Asahi: LDP project team considering making naturalization easier for Zainichis

Hi Blog. Interesting development. Comment follows article:

==============================
TOWARDS SUBMITTING A BILL REGARDING RECEIVING J CITIZENSHIP
LDP PROJECT TEAM: FOR SPECIAL PERMANENT RESIDENTS [ZAINICHIS]
Asahi Shinbun Jan 24, 2008
Translated by Arudou Debito, Original Japanese at http://www.asahi.com/politics/update/0124/TKY200801240498.html, or see previous blog entry.

TOKYO: A legal division within the Liberal Democratic Party, the “Project Team (PT) on Nationality Issues” (Kouno Taro, Lower House, Chair), decided at a meeting on January 24 to submit to this session of the Diet a bill, entitled “Special Exemption for Special Permanent Residents to Obtain Japanese Nationality”, which would simplify the procedure for Zainichi North and South Koreans etc. to become Japanese.

The bill would in essence provide a special procedure within the Nationality Law, limited to Zainichis, for them to receive fast-track approval within one year after application. Although in 2001 a similar bill was deliberated upon within the same committee, it was not formally submitted. Voices within the three-party ruling coalition countered, “If you create a fast-track for naturalization, you don’t need the [then-proposed] local-election suffrage bill [for Zainichis].” New Komeito countered, “We just can’t give up the Zainichi vote”, and both proposals fell through.

After January 24’s meeting, the 2001 Project Team’s former chair, Lower House Dietmember Ohta Seiichi, stressed, “I was particularly annoyed back then because we tried to take up the issue of local voting rights for Zainichis at the same time as amending the Nationality Laws. We didn’t listen properly to the needs of the actual Zainichi themselves, and look what happened. So this time, we’re only concentrating on simplifying the naturalization procedures, and not touching the local suffrage issue.”
==========================
ENDS

COMMENT: Understood. But what of just granting Zainichis (or everyone who wants Japanese citizenship) Dual Nationality, and just being done with it? That would cut many a Gordian Knot–not the least being naturalization as an issue of identity sacrifice.

A major barrier to taking Japanese citizenship is indeed procedural (says I, a person who went through it), but the bigger barrier is the issue of having to decide whether or not you can stop being “Korean”, “American”, whatever, and start being “Japanese” only. You’re not allowed to be both, even though you WILL (and should) be both in a modern society, suitably tolerant of differences and plurality, as befits Japan.

EVERY ONE of Japan’s developed-country brethren allows somewhere, sometime, somehow, and officially, a measure for dual nationality. So should Japan.

No doubt Kouno Taro, a man who is doing very good works indeed (and I stress this here because I know he reads this blog), would argue that we have to do this step by step–one development here, another there. Or else, like in 2001, both issues will crowd each other out from getting through the door.

The above news is a step in the right direction, to be sure (especially if the bill actually does get passed). But people like me want more than just baby steps, and indeed would like it if naturalization were easier for everybody.

And the easiest way to make it easier for everybody would be to make dual nationality possible. Is my take.

Anyway, kudos to Kouno Taro once again. Arudou Debito in Yurakucho, Tokyo

国籍取得法案提出へ 自民PT、特別永住者対象に

国籍取得法案提出へ 自民PT、特別永住者対象に
朝日新聞 2008年01月24日23時41分
http://www.asahi.com/politics/update/0124/TKY200801240498.html

 自民党法務部会の「国籍問題に関するプロジェクトチーム(PT)」(座長・河野太郎衆院議員)は24日の会合で、在日韓国・朝鮮人などの特別永住者が日本国籍を簡単に得られるようにする「特別永住者国籍取得特例法案」を議員立法で今国会に提出する方針を決めた。

 法案は、国籍法の手続きに特例を設け、特別永住者に限って通常1年近くかかる許可手続きを法相への届け出制に変えるのが柱。01年に与党3党が議員立法での提案を目指して自民党の党内手続きは終えたものの、党内に「特例法ができれば参政権法案は必要ない」といった意見が出たことなどから、公明党内から「参政権法案が棚上げされては困る」との懸念が広がり、提出できなかった経緯がある。

 当時、与党PTの座長として要綱案をとりまとめた太田誠一衆院議員は会合後、「前回も地方参政権との関連で取り上げられたが、心外だ。戦後、本人の意思を聞かれずに韓国朝鮮籍になった特別永住者に『申し訳ない』ということで、簡単に国籍を取得できるようにするもので、地方参政権の問題は視野に入っていない」と強調した。
ENDS

Kyodo: MOJ says GOJ to scrap NJ registration system and Gaijin Cards

Hi Blog: Could the rumors have been true after all?

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Gov’t plans to scrap registration system on foreign nationals
TOKYO, Jan. 25 KYODO NEWS
Courtesy Martyn Williams
http://home.kyodo.co.jp/modules/fstStory/index.php?storyid=359649

(EDS: UPDATING WITH ADDITIONAL INFO)
The government plans to scrap the current registration system for foreign nationals living in Japan and introduce a new resident registry system similar to that for Japanese residents, Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama said Friday.

”We are moving in the direction of deciding to abolish it,” Hatoyama told a press conference, indicating the Justice Ministry and the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry are working to craft a bill to that end to submit in next year’s ordinary parliamentary session.

Under the current registration system, the personal data of foreign nationals living in Japan, including their address and marital status, are registered only on an individual basis and not on a household basis, hampering local municipalities from grasping the situation of foreign residents in Japan.

Since foreign residents are not obliged to report to municipalities a change of address, it has also been difficult for the authorities to provide foreign nationals with information in areas such as school enrollment, health insurance, and residence tax procedures.

The move to scrap the system comes amid mounting calls for action from local municipalities with growing populations of foreign nationals such as Brazilians of Japanese descent. Some of the children of such residents are failing to enroll in local schools at the appropriate times.

”We are unable to properly notify families having school-age children of necessary information on school enrollment,” an official from the town of Oizumi, Gunma Prefecture, where foreign nationals account for about 16 percent of the overall population.

A social insurance consultant from the town, Shuichi Ono, said, ”Some foreign residents frequently move from one place to another. Once they return to their home countries, it is not easy to send them residence tax notifications.”

Under the envisioned registration system, information on foreign residents will be handled on a household basis as well.

The government is also considering replacing the current alien registration cards, which foreign residents are required to carry at all times, with a new certificate card.
=============================
ENDS

COMMENT: Pinch me. Let’s keep an eye on this one, people, as it’s fundamental to our lives in Japan–and getting rid of the Gaijin Card could be the best news we’ve had all decade. It all depends on what goes in its place. What’s with this “certificate card”, and will not carrying it 24-7 still be a criminal offense?

As commenters below put well, it’s not like any government to give up a means of control over people, especially when you consider that practically all governments to some degree control information about their foreigners (not to mention their citizens). But imagine if the Gaijin Card Checks actually became somehow less nasty (or even nonexistent–but that’s sky pie at this point), and NJ were actually formally registered as “residents” with some kind of juuminhyou?

In sum, will the new system be a way to ensure all people regardless of nationality are informed of and guaranteed the fruits of Japanese society? Or will it still just be a means to police them?

If you see any more articles before I do, please add them to the Comments section in full text with links. Thanks. Arudou Debito in Tokyo

Komeito leader agrees with DPJ proposal to give NJ Permanent Residents the right to vote

Hi Blog. Do I hear the sound of a wedge being driven into the ruling LDP/Komeito coalition? Debito in Tokyo

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Komeito leader welcomes Ozawa’s proposal to give foreigners voting rights
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/national/news/20080124p2a00m0na011000c.html
Courtesy of Stephen Vowles

Kazuo Kitagawa, secretary-general of ruling coalition partner Komeito, has voiced support for opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader Ichiro Ozawa’s suggestion of considering submitting a bill to give foreigners with permanent residence status the right to vote in local elections.

“I would like a bill to be compiled and submitted,” Kitagawa said of the proposed move, adding that there had been arguments against it within the DPJ. “If they compiled it I would welcome that,” he said.

In a news conference on Tuesday, Ozawa said, “I’ve stressed before that the right for foreigners to vote in local elections should be granted. I’ve been criticized by long-time supporters, but the bottom line doesn’t change.”

There has been a strong tendency within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to take a cautious approach over granting foreigners with permanent residence status the right to vote in local elections. In 2005 Komeito submitted its own bill to the Diet, and the bill remains under deliberation.

Some LDP members have expressed concern over Ozawa’s comments, calling them a move to break up the ruling coalition.
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ENDS

毎日:外国人選挙権:小沢代表の付与提案に公明歓迎

外国人選挙権:小沢代表の付与提案に公明歓迎
毎日新聞 2008年1月23日 18時02分
http://mainichi.jp/select/seiji/news/20080124k0000m010019000c.html

 公明党の北側一雄幹事長は23日の記者会見で、民主党の小沢一郎代表が永住外国人に地方選挙権を付与する法案の提出を検討する考えを示したことについて「ぜひまとめて、提出してもらいたい。民主党には反対論もあった。まとめていただくなら歓迎だ」と述べた。

 小沢氏は22日の会見で「以前から(地方選挙権を)認めるべきだと主張してきた。旧来の支持者からしかられたこともあったが、結論は変わらない」と語った。

 永住外国人の地方選挙権付与について、自民党内では慎重論が根強い。公明党は05年に単独で付与法案を国会提出、法案は継続審議となっており、自民党内には小沢発言を「与党分断策」と警戒する向きもある。【西田進一郎】
ENDS

朝日:永住外国人の選挙権案、与党揺るがす火種 民主提出方針

永住外国人の選挙権案、与党揺るがす火種 民主提出方針

永住外国人の選挙権案、与党揺るがす火種 民主提出方針
朝日新聞 2008年01月24日08時08分
http://www.asahi.com/politics/update/0124/TKY200801230409.html

永住外国人に地方自治体の選挙権を認める法案が、与党の結束を揺さぶる波乱要因となる可能性が出てきた。在日韓国人を中心に待望論があり、公明党などが繰り返し提出してきたが、そのつど自民党内から反発が出て成立していない。ところが、民主党の小沢代表が成立に向けて踏み出し、公明党がその動きに期待を表明した。民主党案が提出されれば、与野党で賛否が入り乱れる構図となりそうだ。

「ぜひ党内をまとめ、提出してもらいたい。私としては歓迎だ」

公明党の北側一雄幹事長は23日の記者会見で、民主党の動きをこう評した。さらに、自民党内の保守色の強い議員らの反発を念頭に「自民党内でも理解いただけるようお願いしたい」とも語り、今国会での成立に向け、自民党の協力に期待を表明した。

この法案は、公明党にとって自民党と連立を組んだ当初からの悲願だった。連立参画を翌年に控えた98年に当時の新党平和として提出したのを皮切りに、これまでに衆院だけで計5回提出。しかし、自民党の賛否がまとまらずに廃案を繰り返し、5回目の法案は継続審議となっている。

ところが、ここにきて最近にない「追い風」が吹いてきた。参院第1党の民主党が小沢代表主導で独自に法案提出に動き出した。そして何より、福田政権になって、こうした法案に理解を示す議員らの発言力が強まってきているのだ。23日には、参院の代表質問で自民党の鶴保庸介氏(二階派)が人権擁護法案の成立を促し、福田首相も「人権擁護は重要な課題だ。政府も真摯(しんし)な検討を図る」と応じた。

ただ、道は平坦(へいたん)ではない。22日にあった中川昭一氏が会長を務める「真・保守政策研究会」の会合で、最高顧問の平沼赳夫氏がこうのろしを上げた。「2年余り前に幕を下ろした人権擁護法案のほか、外国人の地方参政権問題も動きが出てきた。我々は、いわゆる保守の旗をしっかりと掲げていかねばならない」

民主党は週明けにも、法案とりまとめに向け議員連盟を発足させる。小沢代表自らが旗をふり、約50人が参加する見通しだ。

「我々がまとめれば、公明党を追い込んでいける。そうしたら自民党はどうしようもない」。小沢氏は18日の韓国特使との会談で、今国会に法案提出する狙いをこう説明した。民主党が動けば公明党も同調し、慎重論が強い自民党との間を分断できる、という読みだ。

もちろん、民主党内にも異論はくすぶる。00年7月を最後に提出していないのも、議員連盟で法案作成を進める手法をとるのも反対意見に配慮するためだ。だが、政局優先で小沢代表が主導していることから、最終的にはまとまるものとみられている。

〈永住外国人地方選挙権付与法案〉 日本に永住が認められた20歳以上の外国人による申請をもとに、地方自治体の首長や議員の投票権を認める法案。最高裁が95年に「(選挙権付与は)憲法上禁止されていない」との判断を示し、在日本大韓民国民団を中心に地方選挙権を求める運動が広がった。98年以降、公明、共産両党などが法案提出を繰り返している。
ends

Speaking at Wakuwaku Fiesta in Urawa, Saitama for J & NJ residents, Sat Jan 26 1PM

Hi Blog. Forwarding from Ali in Saitama. FYI. Debito in Tokyo

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Hello, I have already announced the upcoming event this Saturday, “Wakuwaku Fiesta” in Urawa. (Please see below.)

In the 1st half of the event, we will have Open Forum where there are 6 panelists with one coordinator discussing issues how to make Saitama city a better place for both Japanese and non-Japanese. One of the panelist is Arudou Debito. He is famous for his lawsuit against an onsen facility in Otaru, Hokkaido. He is a human rights activist for non-Japanese in Japan. There are many pros and cons for his activities, but this is a good chance to see him directly and talk with him. There is a casual party after the forum. If you have a chance, please come and give us your opinions!

Arudou Debito’s site is http://www.debito.org/

Ryoji Shimada, SIEN

SIEN is in the committee members, Saitama City International NGO Network, which organize this event.

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2008 Wakuwaku Fiesta

Wakuwaku fiesta is an open forum to promote mutual understanding between Japanese and non- Japanese citizens of Saitama. We will have our own suggestions and find solutions to commonly encountered day-to- day problems. Together we hope to help build Saitama City as “Foreigners’ favorite City to live in”! With a diet member involved, you can express your ideas like how to improve foreigner’s rights to a country policy level.

Date: January 26, 2008

Time: 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm 「Open Forum」

2:45 pm – 3:30 pm 「small party; Charity Auction; Welcome Kit (free) to non-Japanese participants」

Place: 9th floor of PARCO URAWA building Meeting Room 15 (PARCO is a newly built department store on the east side of Urawa station)

Fee: FREE (anyone is welcome)

Organizer: Saitama City International NGO Network Co-organizer: The Saitama City Association for Global Awareness  (SAGA)

Support: Saitama City Office, Saitama City Board of Education, The Saitama Chuo Junior Chamber, Inc. (Jaycees) For more information contact: S A G A Office

Tel : 048-813-8500 Fax : 048-887-1505
ENDS

FCCJ Photo Journalist Per Bodner’s account of his arrest on fictitious “assault charges”

Per Bodner, a professional photo journalist from Sweden (8 years resident in Japan, married with a house here), had a nasty experience in a Tokyo taxicab right outside the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on his way home from work November 28.

He was arrested because the taxi driver had a spaz attack about him allegedly smoking in the cab (even though Per doesn’t smoke, and wonders if his irritability was a side effect of prolonged use of anti-sleep medicine–not unusual in Japan’s drivers). When Per got out and tried to take another taxi, the cab driver called the cops, claimed Per assaulted him, and had him arrested. There was no evidence of any beating, but Per was taken to a holding cell for interrogation in Tsukiji.

The point is this: Like the Idubor Case, where a Nigerian was sentenced last December to three years for rape despite no physical evidence and flawed accuser testimony, it is becoming increasingly clear that in the Japanese judiciary, the accused’s testimony is discounted (even ignored, or in Per’s view, fabricated) in order to get a conviction. And it especially seems to be the case when the accused is a foreigner, even one as mild-mannered and upstanding as Per is (I’ve met him).

If this can happen to him, this can happen to you–where a nutbar or a person with a “thing” about foreigners can claim you committed a crime, sic the police on you, and have you interrogated for weeks until you crack and sign some sort of confession.

Even when lawyers (which Per managed to contact despite the best efforts of his prosecutors) sprung him in an unheard-of three days (in my view, due to his status as a member of the international press corps), the Prosecutor overruled the judge! See below.

Let’s turn the keyboard over to Per and let him tell the story in his own words. What follows is the text of the statement he made at an FCCJ Press Conference on December 12, 2007, 2-3:30PM, with Panel Discussion on Police Interrogations and “Daiyo Kangoku”, featuring his lawyer, Kazuko Ito; Shinichiro Koike, Secretary General of the Japanese Federation of Bar Association’s Penal Reform Committee and Toru Matsuoka, a DPJ Lower House supporting a bill aimed at revising the Criminal Procedure Code to oblige police and prosecutors to videotape all interrogation of suspects in criminal investigations.

Arudou Debito at the FCCJ, Yurakucho, Tokyo

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PS: Per can be contacted for more information via the FCCJ.

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

THE GINZA / TSUKIJI INCIDENT 071128… By Per Bodner

Welcome my name is Per Bodner I am a Swedish photojournalist and regular member of the FCCJ. I will briefly tell you about what happened to me after taking a taxi, and having a verbal quarrel with the driver. I ended up arrested, thus having a chance of peaking into the Japanese police and “justice” system. I have prepared some handouts for all of you: rather than going into details, I will try to cut my presentation to the essential, leaving more space to the question time.

But – first of all – I will recommend everyone here who does not already have an Olympic medal – For your own sake – Go and get one as soon as possible!
I will later explain to you why.

1. Background:

Around eight thirty on the evening of Wednesday 28 of November on my way home after visiting the FCCJ I had trouble, after entering a taxi, with the driver who very aggressively and repeatedly started shouting “NO SMOKING – NO SMOKING”.

As I don’t smoke I got surprised over his shouting the same thing over and over again – NO SMOKING, NO SMOKING. I replied several times to him “OK, OK, FINE NO SMOKING and showed him my empty hands. But he was clearly upset and I decided to get out and to get another cab.

When he finally opened my door, I tried to get another taxi. But they refused. In the meantime, the first driver had called the police. He claims that I have been beating him with my fist once and also kicking him on the leg once. He also claims he has a witness, although I saw none and, until today, I am still unaware of his/her name.

Now let me state very clearly than I am not guilty of any beating or kicking. I have not been beating anyone during my whole life and have no criminal record what so ever – anywhere in the world.

But I do admit (and did so during the questioning) that having become angry I did shout rough words back to him in English in a loud and clear voice.

Police then asked me to follow them to the police station. I did not object to this and went with them without protesting.

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2. Treatment at the Tsukiji police station.

After arriving at the Tsukiji police station I was questioned for what it felt like – an endless time, at least 5 hours, without any legal assistance. They allowed me only one phone call, to my Embassy. But since it was late night, I just got somebody who promised to inform the competent officer later in the morning. The police took my fingerprints from each and every of my fingers, palm and the “heal of the hand”.

I got an interpreter and very slowly and with sarcastic smiles from the staff standing around while I answered their questions they interrogated me. Police officers walked in and out of the room during the interrogation witch was very disturbing and annoying.

At around 2:00 AM, they told me that I was going to be held in detention.

This came as a shock to me and I got very upset and I could no longer behave politely or constructive.

At one time I managed to pick up my mobile phone and quickly call my wife to inform her about that I was arrested and where I was – but an officer jumped at me to take away the phone. I managed to push him away and could finish my quick call.

I felt totally humiliated and lost in the middle of all these nasty, arrogant and aggressive policemen.

I was then taken to another room where they took away my belongings except for my pullover, socks and underwear. I was then handed a pair of sports long pants.

My own had a string in them so they were also taken.

At the table of this room were four or five A4 sheets of paper containing rules and “rights” in detention. I had no chance to even start to study these papers before they told me to take off my belongings and no further reading of the rules and “rights” was allowed after this. Then I was shown into a cell where another four inmates were asleep. Time was now around 3:30- 4:00AM I guess.

————————————-

3. Environment at the Tsukiji police station detention

I think I can recall 8 detention cells at this floor in this police station where I now was. Each cell containing 5 or more inmates. The area of each sell is approximately

8 x 2,3 m including a toilet box with a glass window facing the sell and the guards seated at a desk outside of the cells – day and night. There are no furnishes in the sells only a worn down wall-to-wall carpet on which the inmates lay their Futon at night.

Food is given 3 times a day through a hole in the cell wall and taken in sitting on the cell floor with the food on an oil-cloth on the floor. The menu, which I listed in the hand outs, was neither appealing nor abundant, but I guess this won’t be much different in any other country.

Breakfast: Japanese type. Lukewarm, very thin powder soup. Cold rice in a Bento box with a red little tiny sour-plum in the middle symbolizing the Japanese flag. Cold artificial fish or meat with some sad over boiled vegetables. Lukewarm or cold water. (Teeth brushing before breakfast)!!!

Lunch: 2 dry and tasteless breads with butter and jam. Cold or lukewarm water.
Dinner: Cold Bento with cold rice, lukewarm or cold water.

Sleeping: 9:00PM – 6:30AM with lights on. Inmates fetch their Futon from a bedclothes room and bring it to the cell.

Washing and tooth brushing: in cold water morning and before bed (only face and neck).

Shower: only every 5th day!!!

At 09AM inmates can shave with shavers and smokers can smoke 2 cigarettes once a day.

Books in Japanese except for 2 cheap detective-story books in English.

(We used the books as pillows during the long day).

————————————-

07 -11-30 Going to the Prosecutor’s office

After breakfast I and some other inmates were asked out of our cells to be searched and then handcuffed and bonded to a blue rope. This was particularly humiliating.

Off we went in a chain-gang, like dangerous criminals, down the stairs and out into a waiting police-bus that would take us to Tokyo Public Prosecutor Office to meet with the prosecutor. After an hour or so we arrived there. We were searched once again and lead on the chain-gang into a huge room with 14 (I think I can recall) cells on one of the long walls. Each cell with capacity for 12 inmates to sit on hard, cold wooden benches (90° seat and back). The numbers 1-12 on the walls. Behind a tiny, low swinging door in the cell there is a toilet and a water tap all to bee seen by the inmates and the guards. No one is aloud to speak or move from one’s place. Here we waited for many hours before meeting with the prosecutor in a special room for a very short questioning. Back to the very cold cell on B-2 I had the chance to meet with my lawyer and my colleague Pio, who was not admitted as such, but as interpreter. At the end of the day into the huge hall and searched again then your number (Ju NaNa) (seventeen) called out in a horrible screaming militaristic voice and back in to the chain-gang again.

Transport with the same procedures as before and back to Tsukiji police station.

Arriving late and dinner was waiting for us. The other inmates had already had their dinner. Back into the cell and a bad sleep on the futon with blankets. Now it was too hot to sleep.

————————————-

07-12-01 Tokyo District Court

The following morning we had to make a long (2 hours +) tour to pick up inmates from other police stations around Tokyo. Then we were able to meet – twice – with a judge, the first time for an interview, second time for getting to know if you were to be released from detention or not. Among all inmates that was interrogated that day I was lucky to be one out of two who was to be released that day. I heard from my lawyer that normally no one is released after the first 3 days in detention but rather most have to stay the whole 23 days or even more in detention. I was happy and relieved, in fact the judge, through the interpret, told me that I had to go back to Tsukiji with the chain-gang transport but after arriving there I would get my belongings and then walk out free.

But the nightmare went on. After returning to Tsukiji police station I got the shocking message that the prosecutor had appealed the judges decision and most likely I had to stay for a longer time in detention. This message made me feel very bad and I was close to start crying.

To my surprise – about 6 hours later – I was called out from the cell and told that I could go home. The judge had stood tall and rejected the prosecutors’ request. I was told that this does not happen often here, if it happens at all!

My lawyer Ito-san and Pio were there to meet me. I had to sign a document saying that I had received all my belongings and happy from being released I signed. Later I found out that a handkerchief that I had blown my nose in once – was missing. The question came to my mind: – Do they take my DNA from my handkerchief?

When we got down to the reception of the police station – there was my wife, our former FCCJ president Dennis and four Swedish nice people that I did not know from before (Pio had picked them up and asked them to join the celebration of my release).

They had brought a bottle of champagne witch we haply finished outside the Tsukiji police station.

Interrogation continues on a “voluntary” basis…

Early last week I was asked by the police to come to Tsukiji police station to undergo further questioning. They said that 2 hours would be enough and my lawyer informed me about the right not to sign any document and to leave the police station at any time of my own choice. I was asked to appear on Friday the 7th of Dec. at 2PM and did so. I had my lawyer and a friend from FCCJ with me. “Just in case”. I just wanted to feel safe. None of these two persons was allowed to be present during the questioning. The police provided an interpreter, Japanese/English, who bore a police batch and told me he was a policeman.

The female police who put the questions to me (her colleges called her detective) was one of the polices that had been coming and going in and out of the room during my first interrogation at the night of the taxi incident.

The questioning lasted, not 2, but 3,5 hours. At that point I told them that I’ve had enough and was tired. When the interpreter told me what the detective had been righting down from my answers I could understand that every, for me positive answer, had not been mentioned.

For example to the question about my background I had answered that I come from and still, most of the time, move in a rather intellectual environments, with good literature and music and where we solve our controversies by talking, not by fist- fighting, and that I never in my whole life have been beating anyone with my fist nor kicking and had newer belonged to any criminal or violent gang. None of these answers was ever written down in their interview with me. Nor that I was brought up by my mothers’ second husband who was, by that time, the chief prosecutor of my hometown.

One of the questions was if I ever had received any awards or medals. I asked that I did not really understand the question. To clarify they asked – If I had received any Olympic medals or governmental awards. My answer to this was that I did not find the question relevant to the investigation.

A few days ago I received a letter from the Tokyo District Court, with the decision rejecting the public prosecutor appeal to extend my detention. I had a glance at the public prosecutor report that was attached and asked my wife to translate it for me.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Most of its content, related to my answer and behaviour during the questioning is totally false. I have prepared a very rough translation of it, which cannot be used for official quoting, but that will give all of you a sufficient idea. The report, among other things, states that I had refused to answer the questions about my background and my profession. This is a complete lie. I had answered very clearly and at length all the prosecutor’s questions, (except for the one about Olympic medals).

I must confess my very strong feeling that police and prosecutors are, more than in the quest for truth, on the hunt to hurt me.

Tomorrow I have agreed on attending yet another follow up questioning and have asked for a Swedish interpreter. I am not going to sign any papers!!!

My detention has already been reported to the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I am going to ask my Swedish ambassador here in Tokyo to make a strong protest to The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to The Japanese Ministry of Justice.

I’d like to thank all my good friends at FCCJ and others for their support in this scary, confusing and weird situation.
ENDS

————————————-
UPDATE: Per has since been called for a third round of “voluntary” questioning by the prosecutor. His sources say the prosecutor could demand he be sentenced to a year in jail for this!

Links to Waseda Jan 22, 2008 speech materials

Hi Blog. As advertised in my previous blog entry, I gave a speech at Waseda today. You can download my Powerpoint presentation at

http://www.debito.org/waseda012208.ppt

And the paper grounding this presentation at

http://www.debito.org/wasedapaper0108.doc

It went very well. I should have a recording of the event, and I’ll release it as my next podcast. Arudou Debito in Meguro, Tokyo.

Speech at Waseda Jan 22, 5PM, on Japan’s Immigration and Human Rights Record

Hi Blog. As promised, here are the details of my upcoming speech Tuesday evening, speaking with Amnesty and Waseda professor in a joint roundtable. Attend if you like. I’m speaking for 20 minutes… Debito in Tokyo

WASEDA UNIVERSITY DOCTORAL STUDENT NETWORK PRESENTS
JANUARY 22, 2008 5PM
FEATURED SPEAKERS:

Implications of Japanese domestic human rights record (for foreign residents or Japanese) on Asian Integration

==================================
SPEAKER ONE:
Implications of Domestic Human Rights Practices on Asian Regional Integration

ARUDOU Debito (BA Cornell, 1987; MPIA UC San Diego, 1991) is a naturalized Japanese citizen and Associate Professor at Hokkaido Information University. A human rights activist, he has authored two books, Japaniizu Onrii–Otaru Onsen Nyuuyoku Kyohi Mondai to Jinshu Sabetsu and its English version (Akashi Shoten 2003 and 2004, updated2006), and is currently at work on a bilingual handbook for immigrants to Japan. He also puts out a regular newsletter and columns for The Japan Times. His extensive bilingual website on human rights issues and living in Japan is available at http://www.debito.org

Abstract
Japan is at another one of those crossroads–where it could either head down the path of other developed countries, accepting migration and immigration as a natural part of global interdependence (preserving an economic and demographic vitality), or else become an economic backwater with an aged society, leapfrogged by China as Asia’s regional representative to the world. Official trends, including increased registering, policing, and scare campaigns towards non-Japanese entrants and residents, have tended towards the latter. However, the last two decades of economic and labor policy have been clearly towards importing unskilled workers to replace Japanese in the less savory 3K industries. This gap has made work and living conditions for many non-Japanese in Japan unequal and difficult, as they receive few constitutional or legal protections against discrimination. Moreover, many receive no labor rights whatsoever by dint of their visa. The speaker, an activist, columnist, and author on issues of discrimination, will discuss his research and activism. He will also allude to how Japan’s treatment of migrants and immigrants is a reflection of its attitudes towards its Asian neighbors, and towards regional cooperation and integration in this age of globalization and economic interdependence.
Presentation in English

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

SPEAKER TWO:
「Implications of Japanese domestic human rights record (for foreign residents or Japanese) on Asian Integration from the perspective of an NGO and in particular Amnesty International Japan」

Sonoko Kawakami, Official Representative, Amnesty International Japan
川上園子 (E-mail:ksonoko@amnesty.or.jp)
社団法人アムネスティ・インターナショナル日本 (ホームページ:http://www.amnesty.or.jp/)
★アムネスティ・メールマガジンのお申し込みはこちらから! http://www.amnesty.or.jp/) http://secure.amnesty.or.jp/campaign/
Presentation in Japanese

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

COMMENTATOR

Associate Professor Yasushi Katsuma
Field of specialization:
Peace and Human Security; International Human Rights; Theories of Social Development; United Nations Studies

Prof. Katsuma was a consultant for Japanese ODA, conducting development research in Asia and Latin America. After obtaining his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, based on his dissertation study in Bolivia, Prof. Katsuma joined the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and worked in Mexico, Afghanistan/Pakistan and Tokyo, as international civil servant. Based on his experiences both in the academia and in the practice of international cooperation, Prof. Katsuma hopes to support the academic training necessary for those who wish to contribute to the international community. He also believes that it is important to approach the global issues from the perspective of the most vulnerable people, linking academic theories with empirical data from the field.

日時 :   2008年 1月 22日(火)   午後 5時~7時
Date :   Tuesday January 22     17:00~19:00
会場 :   西早稲田 ビル 19号館 710号室  
Venue :   Sodai-Nishiwaseda Bldg 19 Room 710    
主催 / Organized by :  WUDSN  協力 / Supported by :  GIARI
申込不要、自由入場  /  Open to public, Free of Charge
http://www.waseda.jp/gsaps/WUDSN/WUDSNindex.htm
ENDS

ABC Radio Australia: “Expatriates concerned by plans for Japanese language tests”

Here’s another one for your consideration. Debito

==============================
Expatriates concerned by plans for Japanese language tests
ABC Radio Australia 18/01/2008, 14:11:18
Listen to it at http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/connectasia/stories/s2141423.htm

Text from http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/connectasia/stories/s2141423.htm

Plans to introduce language tests for foreigners wishing to live and work in Japan has prompted concerns from the expatriate community.

Japan’s foreign minister, Masahiko Komura, made the announcement on Tuesday, and the foreign ministry told Radio Australia the department should pursue the terms of the new requirement quickly.

The plans, announced just months after the country began photographing and finger-printing all foreign nationals on entry to Japan, have not been taken well in many quarters of Japan’s expatriate community.

Dave Aldwinckle has been a permanent resident in Japan since 1996, and is married to a Japanese with two children.

The author, columnist and human rights campaigner, who goes by the Japanese name, Arudou Debito, told Radio Australia over a million people will be affected by the move.

“And millions more if you include their families as well that are Japanese,” he said.

“To pass them all off as potential terrorists is worse than callous, in my view, it’s unappreciation for the work that people have done over here already,” Mr Aldwinckle said.

‘Another arbitrary hurdle

He says while he believes anyone wanting to live in Japan should be able to read, write and speak Japanese, it will be difficult to test and enforce.

“It’s another potentially arbitrary hurdle to put up in front of foreigners that, given the past government enforcement of policy, I’m a little bit concerned about how this is going to be enforced as well,” he said.

Dr Chris Burgess, of Tsuda College in Tokyo, says the proposed language test for foreigners is going to harm Japan in a multitude of ways.

“The new regulations, supposedly aimed at eradicating illegal residents, is just going to push them underground more than anything,” Dr Burgess told Radio Australia.

“I think, in some ways this is a poorly thought out policy and just a knee-jerk reaction to public attitudes which demand more to be done to tackle the foreign crime – a myth that you see in newspapers all the time, that foreigners are criminals; unfounded statistically, but that’s the myth.”

The Secretary General of the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, Professor Mushakoji Kinhide, has another theory about the language test.

“It is, more or less, a general position of the Liberal Democratic Party leadership about the so-called overseas, Japanese-origin, Latin American migrants,” Professor Kinhide said.

The ‘Nikkei-jin’ factor

The deputy director of the Foreign Nationals Affairs Division in Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Terasawa Genichi, told Radio Australia that ‘Nikkei-jin’ – returning Japanese emigrants and their descendants living outside of Japan – are indeed a focus in the proposed language test.

Declining an interview, Mr Terasawa did, however, stipulate that the test was not targetting any particular ethnic group.

Professor Mushakoji says the group has caused problems before.

“Unfortunately the Japanese-descent, young people who come do not necessarily speak Japanese and have very genuine cultural habits which are quite different from the Japanese and so there has been a few cases of cultural problems – Brazilian-Japanese will tend to sing and dance and be quite different in their behaviour at night,” he said.

In 2006, the then-foreign minister, Taro Aso, described Japan as “one nation, one civilisation, one language, one culture, and one race”.

Professor Mushakoji is therefore concerned about the comments of the new Foreign Minister, Masahiko Komura.

“If Komura has repeated the statement already made by Aso it is a manifestation of the Japanese government not to admit that Japan will gradually have to turn into a multicultural country and insist on keeping Japan as a homogenous society,” Professor Mushakoji said.

Naturalised Japanese citizen, Dave Aldwinckle feels, like many others, unduly targeted.

“Well, foreigners aren’t like Japanese, there’s no commonality, the Japanese are unique, etc,” he said.

“If you keep playing that button the Government can keep getting budgets for anti-terrorism moves which will eventually target disenfranchised foreigners – hey, foreigners can’t vote.”
———————————-

Full story available on the Connect Asia website: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/connectasia/

Christian Science Monitor: “Japanese youth help compatriots embrace diversity”

Hi Blog. I’m going to be off to Tokyo from tomorrow, and have some serious writing to do over the next few days. I’m probably not going to be able to do much on this blog (except if and when I come up for air when writing), so let me put out a couple of recent articles you might find interesting. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Japanese youth help compatriots embrace diversity
By Takehiko Kambayashi | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
January 18, 2008 edition
http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0118/p04s01-woap.html

In a country that has long prided itself on homogeneity, it’s becoming cool for youth to embrace the growing number of foreigners in their midst.

Oizumi, Japan: Miharu Tanaka hands out fliers in Tokyo advertising Brazilian eateries in Oizumi, a city two hours away by train. The young woman makes the commute to encourage people to visit the country’s most diverse city, with its 16 percent non-Japanese population.

Her efforts are part of a generational shift toward becoming more receptive to a multicultural Japan. But in a country that has long prided itself on homogeneity and is seeing a rise in Japanese-centric nationalism, it will take some persuading for most people to embrace the growing reality of a more diverse population.

Japan has long been wary of – even hostile to – foreigners in its midst. Some say the media perpetuate a stereotyped image of foreigners as criminals.

Japan’s bias against foreigners shows in its immigration laws. It is virtually impossible for immigrants to find work here and become citizens. Most foreigners are reduced to low-level “3K” jobs – kitanai, kiken, and kitsui, or “dirty, dangerous and hard” – that most Japanese were no longer willing to take. The country wants to maintain its “racial homogeneity,” critics say. Officials recently began considering ways to tie long-term residency permits and work visas to Japanese language ability.

Certainly, the self-image of a homogeneous society remains strong. But some say that perception is incorrect. The official count of registered foreign residents is 2 percent of the nation’s total population of 128 million; but that represents an increase of 47 percent in the past 10 years and excludes many non-Japanese residents. While Japan has witnessed more international marriages – 21,000 children are born to these couples every year – its census figures do not show ethnicity.

Moreover, the number of registered foreigners does not include naturalized citizens, indigenous people, or those who overstay their visas, argues Debito Arudou, a US-born social activist who became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 2000.

Brazilian Japanese are thought to number around 300,000. The descendants of Japanese who immigrated to Brazil in the early-1900s, they returned to the land of their ancestors in recent decades. But since immigration reforms in 1990 granted only the descendants of Japanese the right to live and work in Japan, Japanese Brazilians mostly serve in 3K jobs in Oizumi and similar drab, industrial towns.

These areas have become non-Japanese enclaves – as well as microcosms of the racial tensions that have arisen with diversity. In Oizumi, where most non-Japanese residents are Brazilian, more Brazilian flags hang from buildings than Japanese ones. Brazilian restaurants, grocery stores, and video-rental shops dwarf Japanese sushi bars and noodle shops.

Japanese Brazilians in Oizumi complain about being called gaijin, or “outsiders,” and treated as such. When they run into Japanese colleagues, some Brazilians complain, the Japanese pretend not to recognize them. A majority of foreigners who live in neighborhoods alongside Japanese would like to interact with them, a 2007 opinion poll found. But only 10 percent of Japanese in these areas felt the same.

But a growing number of Japanese – mostly youths, such as Tanaka – are trying to persuade compatriots to embrace ethnic minorities. Unlike in previous generations, young adults tend to be more welcoming of diversity. Some analysts argue that, in a country with a dwindling birthrate – 1.32 as of 2006, down from 1.66 two decades ago – and a rapidly aging population, Japan should roll out the red carpet for foreigners.

In Oizumi, young Japanese are teaming up with Brazilians, cracking barriers among communities. Tanaka formed a group named Kimobig (“daring”) to energize exchanges such as language classes between Japanese and Brazilians.

Not everyone is pleased with the group’s efforts. Tanaka receives prank calls and harassing e-mails from Japanese and Brazilians. Still, she says, more locals have gotten acquainted with Brazilian residents. Urbanites have been entranced by Brazilian music, dance, and food. “So great is what one person can do,” she says. “One person can help change his or her parents’ views and their friends.’ ”
ENDS

Historical artifact: NJ Jobs in 1984 (Tokyo Shinbun)

Here’s a little something friend Mark S sent on to me after cleaning off his bookshelves:

Shokugyo.0288.jpg

Yep, according to some magazine in Feb 88 citing Tokyo Shinbun January 8, 1988, the most popular jobs for foreigners in 1984 were:

1. Entertainers and Pro Sports
2. People working in regular companies
3. Foreign-language educators
4. Cooks of foreign foods
5. Artists and artisans
6. Academics in higher education
7. Technical specialists
(a mere 13 counted)

The article also mentions the concurrent Eikaiwa boom (with a snipe at why Japanese foreign language abilities seem to be going down).

It doesn’t mention the hundreds of thousands of Zainichi generational foreigners (probably by only counting “zairyuu gaikokujin”, even though only doing that still gives a very slanted account of how many foreigners are here), or the trades they engage in (entertainment, pachinko, regular corporate, and the olive-oil-style front businesses). And even if you total the numbers given, less than 15,000 people still seems artificially low. I guess either this is within Tokyo-to itself, or else bad social science isn’t only the province of the present day.

In any case, those were the days, for some. Now with the NJ population more than doubled since then, and most NJ residents are not from Anglophone countries (so lose the big gaijin noses whenever you try to depict a foreigner), I bet the highest number of NJ in one job sector would be factory worker.

Any other insights out there on the numbers then and now? Go for it. Debito in Sapporo

GOJ floats trial balloon: Japanese language improvement for visas

Hi Blog. This has made a huge splash in cyberspace, so I guess we’d better take it up here too:

/////////////////////////////////////////////////
Japan May Require Foreign Residents to Know Japanese (Update 3)
By Sachiko Sakamaki and Toko Sekiguchi
Bloomberg News, January 15, 2008
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601101&sid=a34ozVmUjMUU
Courtesy Ben Shearon, Rita Short, Louis Butto, Matthew Simko, Akita Laura, and many others… Discussion at http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/425041 and many other places.

Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) — Japan may consider requiring long- term resident (chouki taizai) foreigners to have local language ability, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said today, without saying to what degree the language would have to be learned.

Komura said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice plan to start discussing the possible requirement. Komura didn’t say when the meeting would take place or provide further details on which residents might be affected.

Japan’s mulling of a language requirement may hint at preparations to accept — rather than reject — more migrants, said Hidenori Sakanaka, director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute in Tokyo and formerly head of the Justice Ministry’s Tokyo immigration office. Officials realize that Japan’s aging society and pending labor shortage obliges them to boost immigration.

“I think this is a preparation for that,” Sakanaka said. “It’s a global trend to require language ability for immigrants to integrate them into society.”

Japan’s labor force will shrink to 55.8 million in 2030 from 66.6 million in 2006 if more women and the elderly aren’t allowed to work, according to a labor ministry report.

“This shows that the government and business circles want to increase foreign workers,” said Ippei Torii, secretary general of Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan, an advocacy group for foreign laborers in Tokyo. A language rule, however, may prevent some workers from coming and may force non-Japanese speakers to leave, he said.

‘Quality of Life’

Komura said officials may not necessarily deny foreigners long-term residency just because they have no Japanese language ability. Establishing language as one criterion for residency would improve foreigners’ quality of life in Japan and encourage foreign students to learn Japanese abroad, he said.

“There are positive and negative aspects” of a language requirement, Komura said during a press conference in Tokyo today. “Because there may be more positive aspects we’re going to consider it.”

Wenzhou Song, 44, a consultant who founded the Tokyo software company Softbrain Co., said a language rule shouldn’t exclude talented people from immigrating.

“It’s a very difficult line to draw,” he said. “It makes sense to require long-term residents to speak the local language but you can’t make the requirement too harsh or you will discourage people who want to come to Japan.”

Song spoke little Japanese when he came to Japan from China as a student in 1985, he said.

On Nov. 20 Japan began fingerprinting and photographing foreigners entering the country to prevent terrorism.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sachiko Sakamaki in Tokyo at Ssakamaki1@bloomberg.net ; Toko Sekiguchi in Tokyo at Tsekiguchi3@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: January 15, 2008 01:53 EST
ENDS
/////////////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT: As I told a reporter from ABC Radio Australia in an interview today (should be online fairly soon at http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/), I agree that Japanese language proficiency (meaning reading, writing, and speaking) is crucial for life in Japan. Functional illiteracy in any society is deprivational–it limits your world and voids your ability to control your fate here. And incentives should be there for those who are willing to make the investment and learn the lingua franca.

However, the GOJ as usual is making the incentives a matter of sticks, not carrots. Learn or we boot you out. No suggestion of how the GOJ is going to make it easier for NJ to learn–free language classes, for example, paid for by national and/or local governments, are de rigeur in other societies (such as the USA).

Other problems:

1) It is unclear what “long-term resident” (chouki taizai suru gaikokujin in Japanese) actually means. That could mean anyone from a one-year visa, to several one-year visas, all the way up to Permanent Resident. Are we saying that people who apply for PR will also have to take a language test? What “level of improvement” counts as valid at each stage? How high will that bar be raised the longer you stay?

2) It seems like yet another hurdle put up to keep the tide of immigration in check. With all the other languages out there with more use in other countries (English, for example, or even Spanish or French), are people going to be willing to put in all this investment in language just for the dubious honor of paying taxes, being treated like second-class residents with few labor rights and even fewer human rights, being assigned only 3K jobs with little chance of advancement (and no guarantee of education for their children), and being told in the end anyway they don’t belong here phenotypically–when they could just bog off to another set of countries where one language works for all of them instead? Nihongo is limited to this archipelago. Other multicultural languages beckon. Japan risks being passed by again.

3) How is this “language test” going to be administered? Is there a clear standard and grading regime, or is it just something administered by haughty Immigration officials–or worse yet, corporate bosses, to hold over their NJ employees like a Sword of Damocles? “You don’t speak like we do. You still have an accent. Either take a pay cut or we won’t approve your language improvement certificate and you’ll lose your visa”. And if there is a family of visas involved, what happens if some members of the family pass and others don’t?

I repeat, in principle, I think everyone should learn Japanese if they’re going to live here. But as I wrote before when this proposal was first floated years ago (Komura saying it now came as no surprise to me–it’s been in the pipeline; see links below), this requires more homework and concrete policy before floating anything as complicated as this as a mere policy trial balloon.

Previous mentions at Debito.org at
http://www.debito.org/?p=105
http://www.debito.org/?p=443
http://www.debito.org/?p=277

It’s saddening that even though it’s been a policy topic for more than a year, little seems to have been done to make it more sophisticated by now. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

毎日:入国や在留審査で日本語能力を重視へ 政府

来日外国人:入国や在留審査で日本語能力を重視へ 政府
毎日新聞 2008年1月15日
http://mainichi.jp/select/world/news/20080116k0000m010023000c.html

 政府は日本に長期滞在する外国人の入国や在留許可審査の際、日本語能力を要件として重視する具体策を外務、法務両省が検討することを決めた。就労目的などで増加傾向にある外国人が地域社会に溶け込みやすい環境整備につなげるとともに、来日する外国人にも日本語学習意欲を高めてもらうのが狙い。

 高村正彦外相が15日の閣議後会見で明らかにした。外相は「日本語能力は、外国人自身の生活の質を高めるためにも、日本社会のためにも大切」と強調したうえで「『日本へ行くために日本語を勉強しよう』という機運が高まれば大変よいことだ」と述べた。

 具体的には、入国時の上陸審査基準に日本語能力を新たに盛り込むかどうかや、在留期間の更新、資格変更時に日本語能力の向上について確認するなど、何らかの形で考慮することが検討対象となる見通し。外務省によると、カナダでは就労目的の永住者が査証申請時に提出する略歴で、語学力を含む6項目をポイント化し、総ポイント数に応じて許可。英国、ドイツ、フランスで語学能力を重視する移民政策を取っているという。

 ただ、政府内には、要件を厳しくすることで「査証(ビザ)の発給・更新などに影響が生じ、貴重な人材が入国できなくなる可能性もある」との課題を指摘する声もある。【上野央絵】

毎日新聞 2008年1月15日 18時12分 (最終更新時間 1月15日 23時34分)

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 15, 2008

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 15, 2008

Hi all. It’s been difficult to get to the keyboard these past two weeks (especially when the first Galley of our upcoming book, HANDBOOK FOR IMMIGRANTS TO JAPAN, just landed on my desk the other day. On sale in mid–March, more at:)
http://www.debito.org/?page_id=582
So for the time being, let me fire something off Newsletterwise:

Table of Contents:

SPECIAL ISSUE: STARING DOWN THE DISCRIMINATORS IN JAPAN

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1) STARING DOWN AN EXCLUSIONARY BALLET SCHOOL IN TOKYO
2) STARING DOWN AN EXCLUSIONARY NEWSPAPER OUTLET IN ISHIKAWA PREF
3) STARING DOWN AN EXCLUSIONARY LANDLORD IN YAMAGATA
4) GOING TOO FAR IN THE OTHER DIRECTION: CHEST HAIR AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT!?

…and finally, just for fun…

5) HUMOR: LETTER TO THE EDITOR REGARDING GOJ “UFO INVASION” SCENARIO
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
Daily blog updates and RSS subscriptions at http://www.debito.org/index.php
Freely forwardable

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

1) STARING DOWN AN EXCLUSIONARY BALLET SCHOOL IN TOKYO

http://www.debito.org/?p=838

On December 14, 2007, I heard from a list of a list that a Subcontinential Asian child (all of three years old) had been refused enrollment at a ballet school in Asabu, Tokyo (an area full of non-Japanese, thanks to the diplomatic community). This happened at a place called MG International Arts of Ballet (Mariko Goto, proprietor, website http://www.mg-ballet.org/home.html).

It turned out that the girl’s parents were part of the Pakistani Embassy, and they sent word to Debito.org in the form of several letters. Excerpting the introductory one:

=============================================
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.

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

Hours after I put this up on Debito.org, the Ballet School came out swinging–threatening the blog with legal action for damages, and sending out post after angry post in two languages, saying they had been misrepresented somehow.

However, when official protest letters came through from the Embassy of Pakistan, and it dawned on the Ballet School that just because people are saying things they didn’t like didn’t amount to libel (especially when they did ultimately come out and admit they HAD refused the little girl), they backed down, and eventually went to the Pakistani Embassy to apologize. But it was a tense weekend, I must say.

See everything, including all the official Embassy letters and threatening correspondence up at
http://www.debito.org/?p=838
Human rights is a bruising matter.

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

2) STARING DOWN AN EXCLUSIONARY NEWSPAPER OUTLET IN ISHIKAWA PREF

I mentioned in a quick report to y’all last week about how surreal the unfettered exclusionism is getting in Japan, cf. the Hokkoku Shinbun in Ishikawa, where a sales outlet rep sent a postcard last November to a NJ subscriber, saying “Boss didn’t accept foreigner’s subscription”.
http://www.debito.org/?p=867

The update to that, as of January 9, 2007, I talked with a number of people on this case (NHK and Kyodo have also been in touch), including the “boss” mentioned in the post card (a Mr Sakurai) and the actual manager of the Hokkoku Shinbun Hanbai Bu Kanazawa Tantou Mr Kotake (076-260-3564, email kotake@hokkoku.co.jp) twice, for about thirty minutes each. Here are their claims:

MR SAKURAI:
=============================================
1) There was no discrimination. He was unaware that their underling, a Mr Matsuda, had written anything like that in the postcard. It is Matsuda’s fault.
2) There was a problem with the contract, so we cancelled it. Yes, unilaterally.
3) Er… that’s it.

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

When asked why they didn’t, like, come back with a new contract, or answer with a postcard or a personal visit something a little nicer than “no foreigners”, he just said he had no knowledge the postcard said such a thing, and was sorry he didn’t come back with a new contract. He didn’t explain convincingly why.

Fu ni ochinakatta ne. Doushitemo nasuri tsuke da to ki ni shite narimasen.

MR KOTAKE:
=============================================
1) This was a separate sales company unrelated to the actual Hokkoku Shinbunsha, so the problem is within the Nonoichi Sanba sales corp. itself.

2) There was no inkan (seal) on the contract, so it wasn’t a legitimate contract yet.

3) There was no intent to discriminate, and everyone (Mr Kotake, Mr Sakurai, Mr Matsuda) will be going to the client’s house and apologizing today if not tomorrow for not explaining this situation to the customer properly. (They did, and offered him two weeks’ free subscription; thanks for nothing.)

4) Er… that’s it.
=============================================

I pointed out that it still seemed unnatural (in this day of withering print journalism) for a sales outlet not to assiduously court paying customers (if this were a Japanese client, I doubt there would be any hesitation to go back with a new contract or ask for an inkan on the old contract). And if it I hadn’t made the phone calls, these apologies would never have happened. That, plus the postcard explicitly giving the reason as “no foreigners”, were enough to make one doubt the claim that there was no discrimination. And this attempt to pin the blame on Mr Matsuda, when it was Mr Sakurai who didn’t tell Mr Oda or anyone else in the company about the contract issue, is pretty strange.

Mr Kotake replied that he hoped that this would not give people a bad impression of Ishikawa Prefecture or of Hokkoku Shinbun. I said that how they handled this situation would determine that. He hoped that some of the information on this blog would be changed to reflect that Hokkoku Shinbun and Nonoichi Sanba were two different entities, and I have since made some alterations to the report above.

He also mentioned that he remembered me from the Otaru Onsens Case (he had read a lot of my website) and hoped that I would have no negative impressions of things. I simply said that this sort of thing is happening all over Japan, and if Japan is ever to get over their “gaijin allergy”, it’s going to take some work by media outlets, such as the Hokkoku Shinbun, to report the good things that NJ residents also do here, not just the allegedly bad. How about devoting an occasional newspaper column to that? He mentioned that few foreigner laborers come here, but lots of exchange students. It’s an idea, anyhoo.

Meanwhile, I thought Kyodo would have a story out by now, but I’ve heard that the editor in the Osaka Kyodo Branch is leaning on my reporter not to do an article!

Amazing. Nobody has been able to reach the scapegoat in this case, Mr Matsuda–he’s apparently been suspended from work.

I’ve also heard from a friend:
=============================================
I had a similar thing happen to me with the Yomiuri Shimbun in Yamagata City several years ago. The salesman told me and my wife that we could sign up under her name but not under mine, as a foreigner would be refused. At the time we just decided not to go with Yomiuri. I also didn’t know about their conservative politics at the time. I had almost forgotten about that.
=============================================

So the story has some potential to go beyond Ishikawa in general if more people come forward with their experiences, and if other print outlets would be willing to show some spine and take up the story. Drop by:
http://www.debito.org/?p=867

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

3) STARING DOWN AN EXCLUSIONARY LANDLORD IN YAMAGATA

Ryan Hagglund found an apartment he really wanted for one of his employees. But, as many readers know, if the landlord has a hair in his heinie about foreigners and flat-out refuses them, there’s not a damn thing you can do about it in Japan. It’s not illegal. However, he managed to turn the tables on the landlord and realtors and convince them to take his money. See how in a remarkable case study at
http://www.debito.org/?p=922

The lessons to be learned:

Sticktoitiveness and accountability are crucial. You must talk to the landlord as politely as possible while being clear that you will not accept a denial based upon being foreign. And you must audio record everything (even covert recordings are admissible in court–I know because I recorded my refusal at Yunohana Onsen in Otaru on October 31, 2000, and that won us the case).
http://www.debito.org/otarulawsuit.html#FACTS

Anyway, well done, Ryan. Even if you have to go through all this trouble just to get somebody to take your rent.

Alright, let’s lighten up:

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

4) GOING TOO FAR IN THE OTHER DIRECTION: CHEST HAIR AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT!?

Now look what happens when “human rights” actually DOES get enforced in Japan. People are clueless.

=============================================
JR East links “naked festival” posters to sexual harassment
Mainichi Shinbun January 8, 2008

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/national/news/20080108p2a00m0na012000c.html

See scan of the poster at
http://www.debito.org/?p=924

OSHU, Iwate — East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) has rejected calls to stick up posters promoting a local “naked festival,” saying there are many women who aren’t comfortable seeing men naked.

The Oshu Municipal Government had sought permission from the Morioka branch of JR East to display the posters advertising Kokuseki Temple’s Somin Festival at stations, but JR East said the posters could not be displayed unless the images were changed.

“As sexual harassment becomes more of a problem, the standards for displaying posters in public spaces are becoming stricter,” a representative of the Morioka branch of JR East explained. “It wasn’t just that it was out of line because there was nakedness; the pictures showed things that were particularly unpleasant for women, such as chest hair, and it was decided that showing them things they didn’t want to see was sexual harassment.”

In the festival, crowds of men wearing nothing but loincloths participate in scrambles using sacks called sominbukuro. The festival, which has continued for about 1,000 years, is held in the hope of warding off plagues and producing bumper crops. This year, it will be held between the evening of Feb. 13 and early Feb. 14.

The poster in question combines three photos, showing a close-up of a bearded man with a hairy chest, and men in the background wearing loincloths.

The city retouched some of the loincloths, but decided that it would be difficult to completely alter images as JR had requested. It has reportedly decided to decrease the number of posters by about 200 to 1,400, and will display them in the city and in the Tokyo metropolitan area instead.

Oshu Municipal Government official Yuzuru Sasaki said that efforts to liven up the festival would continue in spite of the setback.

“The number of tourists might drop, but we want to display the posters in the city and ask tourist facilities in the metropolitan area to display them to pump up the festival,” he said.
ARTICLE ENDS
=============================================

COMMENT: How silly. I have written in depth on how vague the notion of human rights is in Japan (yes, it tends to be vague everywhere in the world, but what the GOJ considers human rights in its surveys is especially confusing, even discriminatory in itself!).
http://www.debito.org/japantimes102307.html

Under half-baked concepts (where it’s okay to discriminate against NJ but not okay to ignore allegedly oversensitive people who might swoon in shock at stray muna-ge), it’s no wonder some people go over the top and construe something like “chest hair” as “sexual harassment”.

And the issue is chest hair, not nudity in itself. If you look at the previous year’s (approved) poster for the same event:
http://www.debito.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/oshuchesthair2.tiff
you still have the same thing (it’s a festival celebrating male near-nakedness, after all)–fundoshi, asses–except no hairy chest in the foreground.

Better not ask even me to bare my semi-hirsute pecs, such as they are. And let’s see if JR East will enforce this on Sumo, and not allow broadcasts of matches on TVs on their premises. Same degree of nakedness (if not even more flesh)–and yes, before you say it–some sumo wrestlers have chest hair. Horrors!

There is a happy end to this, however. Thanks to the scoffing nationwide media coverage given this tempest in a teapot, this festival has gotten more publicity nationwide than ever before, and according to Sunday Japon January 13, 2007, they’re anticipating the highest level of attendance ever!

Mattaku mechakucha! Grow up, people. Chest hair isn’t, say, pubic hair–you might as well be offended by beards. Establish some concept of what real human rights are. That’s supposed to be the job of places like the absolutely useless MOJ Bureau of Human Rights. And even if BOHR bothered to weigh in, they’ll only say, “we have no enforcement authority” and go back to soaking up tax monies for their own festivals.
http://www.debito.org/?p=810

No wonder the public has trouble taking people who promote human rights seriously!

Sumo wrestlers, get your razors out! And there are some rikishi I would pay money to see get a Steve Carell-style body waxing…

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

…and finally, just for fun…

5) HUMOR: LETTER TO THE EDITOR REGARDING GOJ “UFO INVASION” SCENARIO

You might remember that at the end of 2007, the GOJ (only half-seriously, yes, but for far too much time) explored the possibility of an alien invasion. No not foreigners. Background at:
http://www.debito.org/?p=872

Charles Kowalski sent this letter to the Yomiuri when Defense Minister Hashiba (inter alia) was getting all nerdy about defenses. He takes the issue and runs with it. Hilariously.

The Yomiuri, not known for any sense of humor (or for brooking any criticism of Japan from outsiders), wouldn’t publish it. So I did, at Debito.org. Enjoy:

=============================================
To Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba:

I urge you to reconsider your comment that UFOs “can’t be categorized as coming from a foreign country” (Yomiuri December 21, page 2). Please take a moment to think about the dangerous precedents this policy would set.

If UFOs could enter Japanese airspace without resistance, they could easily spirit away Japanese citizens. Japan has enough abduction issues already! But even worse, what if the extraterrestrial visitors liked our beautiful country so much that they decided to stay – and without the limitations that apply to humans from other countries?

First of all, with no visa restrictions, they could take jobs away from Japanese citizens. In the fields of astrophysics and aeronautics, an interstellar pilot would have a grossly unfair advantage over a Japanese graduate who shuffled through university with a perpetual hangover. Do you want more of our young people to become NEETs?

And if men from Mars, or women from Venus, were to marry Japanese citizens, what would prevent their names from being recorded in the juminhyo? Tama-chan was cute as a one-time joke, but do you really want to see Qrlzak Wzaxo from Jupiter listed on equal terms with Hanako Sato from Morioka? And their children, with one parent from a planet with higher gravity, would always beat their Japanese classmates in athletic competitions! How unsporting!

Our course of action should be clear: Treat extraterrestrials the same as any other aliens. When they arrive at the UFO terminal at Narita, take prints of their claws, tentacles, antennae or whatever they use for fingers. Make them carry Space Alien Registration Cards that the police could inspect at any time. Interplanetarization is all very well, but we Japanese must take measures to prevent these aliens from going where no gaijin has gone before.
ENDS
=============================================
http://www.debito.org/?p=902

All for today. Getting back to work! Arudou Debito in Sapporo
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
Daily blog updates and RSS subscriptions at http://www.debito.org/index.php
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 15, 2008 ENDS

“Human Rights” when enforced in Japan: Chest hair equals “sexual harassment”

Hi Blog. Here’s what happens when somebody in a position of authority (like a faceless boss at JR East) acts on what he or she katte ni considers “human rights”. Comment below article.

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

JR East links ‘naked festival’ posters to sexual harassment
Mainichi Shinbun January 8, 2008

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/national/news/20080108p2a00m0na012000c.html
oshuchesthair1.tiff
One of the rejected posters for the Somin Festival in Oshu, Iwate Prefecture.
(Screen capture courtesy Japan Probe)

OSHU, Iwate — East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) has rejected calls to stick up posters promoting a local “naked festival,” saying there are many women who aren’t comfortable seeing men naked.

The Oshu Municipal Government had sought permission from the Morioka branch of JR East to display the posters advertising Kokuseki Temple’s Somin Festival at stations, but JR East said the posters could not be displayed unless the images were changed.

“As sexual harassment becomes more of a problem, the standards for displaying posters in public spaces are becoming stricter,” a representative of the Morioka branch of JR East explained. “It wasn’t just that it was out of line because there was nakedness; the pictures showed things that were particularly unpleasant for women, such as chest hair, and it was decided that showing them things they didn’t want to see was sexual harassment.”

In the festival, crowds of men wearing nothing but loincloths participate in scrambles using sacks called sominbukuro. The festival, which has continued for about 1,000 years, is held in the hope of warding off plagues and producing bumper crops. This year, it will be held between the evening of Feb. 13 and early Feb. 14.

The poster in question combines three photos, showing a close-up of a bearded man with a hairy chest, and men in the background wearing loincloths.

The city retouched some of the loincloths, but decided that it would be difficult to completely alter images as JR had requested. It has reportedly decided to decrease the number of posters by about 200 to 1,400, and will display them in the city and in the Tokyo metropolitan area instead.

Oshu Municipal Government official Yuzuru Sasaki said that efforts to liven up the festival would continue in spite of the setback.

“The number of tourists might drop, but we want to display the posters in the city and ask tourist facilities in the metropolitan area to display them to pump up the festival,” he said.

Click here for the original Japanese story
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT: How silly. I have written in depth on how vague the notion of human rights is in Japan (yes, it tends to be vague everywhere in the world, but what the GOJ considers human rights in its surveys is especially confusing, even discriminatory in itself!). Under half-baked concepts (where it’s okay to discriminate against NJ but not okay to ignore allegedly oversensitive people who might swoon in shock at stray muna-ge), it’s no wonder some people go over the top and construe something like “chest hair” as “sexual harassment”.

And the issue is chest hair, not nudity in itself. If you look at the previous year’s (approved) poster for the same event:
oshuchesthair2.tiff
(Screen capture courtesy Japan Probe)
you still have the same thing (it’s a festival celebrating male near-nakedness, after all)–fundoshi, asses–except no hairy chest in the foreground.

Better not ask even me to bare my semi-hirsute pecs, such as they are. And let’s see if JR East will enforce this on Sumo, and not allow broadcasts of matches on TVs on their premises. Same degree of nakedness (if not even more flesh)–and yes, before you say it–some sumo wrestlers have chest hair. Horrors!

There is a happy end to this, however. Thanks to the scoffing media coverage given this tempest in a teapot, this festival has gotten more publicity nationwide than ever before, and according to Sunday Japon January 13, 2007, they’re anticipating the highest level of attendance ever!

Mattaku mechakucha! Grow up, people. Chest hair isn’t, say, pubic hair–you might as well be offended by beards. Establish some concept of what real human rights are. That’s supposed to be the job of places like the absolutely useless MOJ Bureau of Human Rights…, and even if BOHR bothered to weigh in, they’ll only say, “we have no enforcement authority” and go back to soaking up tax monies for their own festivals. No wonder the public has trouble taking people who promote human rights seriously!

Sumo wrestlers, get your razors out! And there are some rikishi I would pay money to see get a Steve Carell-style body waxing… Debito in Sapporo

Ryan Hagglund on how he successfully dealt with an exclusionary landlord

Hi Blog. Turned 43 years old today… Here’s Ryan Hagglund of Yamagata on how he successfully dealt with a very common problem in Japan–exclusionary landlords.

As you probably know, if a landlord has a “thing” about foreigners and decides not to rent to you, legally there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. Racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan. But Ryan found a place he liked and wasn’t having any of it. And he managed to change the landlord’s (and realtor’s) mind.

How? Sticktoitiveness and accountability. Lessons: 1) be as polite as possible while being clear that you will not accept a denial based on being foreign, and 2) audio record everything just in case you have to go to court.

(Covert recordings are also admissible in court. I did it for the Otaru Onsens Lawsuit, and it removed any possible element of plausible deniability or misunderstanding.)

Good work Ryan. Here are the series of emails he sent to the Life in Japan List. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

From: Ryan Hagglund
Subject: [LIFE IN JAPAN] Apartment Refusal
Date: December 4, 2007 10:10:00 PM JST

I have a quick question, if anyone can help. This afternoon the school I manage was told point-blank by the real estate agent we’ve been using that the apartment we had decided on for our new teacher is not available because the landlord doesn’t rent to foreigners, even if the company acts as the official tenant. We would like a chance to talk with the landlord, but the real estate company refuses to divulge any of his information. Is there any way to find out who the owner of an apartment building is? I would imagine there has to be some kind of public record out there. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you very much.

Ryan Hagglund, Yamagata

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

UPDATE ONE

From: Ryan Hagglund
Subject: [LIFE IN JAPAN] Apartment Refusal
Date: December 5, 2007 8:21:40 PM JST

Thanks to everyone for the comments and thoughts so far. I thought I would write with a quick update and a little more background information.

Anyway, the whole situation started with a new teacher who needs housing accepting a position at our school. My wife, who is Japanese and works for the school, went apartment hunting while I was teaching and found a really great one. The real estate agent kept telling her how wonderful it was and she was right; it is by far the best apartment we have seen in the area for the price and in a good location too. We wanted the new teacher to have a chance to look at it, so my wife called to let the real estate know that her husband, me, and a new employee would be down to look at the apartment as well. Up to this point we had not said that the occupant would be a foreigner. We weren’t purposely trying to hide that fact by any means; we just hadn’t thought to mention it. It’s legally a non-issue anyway. When I arrived with the new teacher and came in saying we wanted to look at the apartment that had been played up for my wife, the agent was hesitant. She said she would show us it, but that “special permission” is required for foreigners to rent. I mentioned that such as policy was illegal and that we would like to see it. Aside from the comment about special permission, she was quite polite and pleasant, though I had to ask for her business card as she was walking back to her car to return to the office, something I thought was unusual. This all happened Saturday, just before the office closed. (All the above conversations happened in Japanese, by the way, though our new teacher doesn’t speak much at all.)

On Monday we called to confirm the apartment, but were told this afternoon that it is not available for rent by foreigners. When my wife asked to please speak with the landlord she was told that wasn’t possible. Following the suggestions on this list, my wife went to the city hall, but was told that they could not divulge private information on the ownership of a building. We decided, then, to return to the real estate agent. We were polite, letting her know we realize she is in a difficult situation, but that denying an apartment to someone simply because they are foreign is illegal, a conclusion with which our school’s attorney agrees. We said that we would like to speak with the landlord and were willing to work with him to find a suitable compromise, such as the school renting the apartment instead of the new teacher, but that we definitely wanted that apartment and feel it is very important for the law to be followed. (We also recorded the conversation so that we have proof that we were in fact denied based on being foreign.) The real estate agent said she would talk with landlord and get back to us, so we’ll se what happens. We’ve also scheduled a consultation with an attorney tomorrow to talk about our options in case the landlord refuses. I hope that won’t be necessary. Trying to be polite, but firm.

Ryan Hagglund, Yamagata

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

UPDATE TWO

From: Ryan Hagglund
Subject: [LIFE IN JAPAN] Re: Apartment Refusal
Date: December 17, 2007 12:07:44 AM JST

I want to thank everyone for their support, comments, and suggestions on the apartment situation we encountered. At least one person asked for updates, so I hope you don’t mind if I oblige.

As you may remember, my wife checked apartments through many realtors for a new employee for our school. We decided on the best one we could find, a nice, newer, spacious 1LDK with 9-foot ceilings; bar separating the kitchen from the dining area; three-panel, glass-inlaid sliding doors separating the kitchen and dining from the main room; outdoor storage connected to the balcony; hikari-fiber internet; and video intercom system for the front door in order to evade the NHK guy :-). All of this for 45,000 yen per month, which is a decent price in this area without all the extras. As the realtor had told my wife, “If I was looking for an apartment, I would live here.” We agreed.

When we told the realtor we wanted the apartment and it became apparent that it was for a foreigner, we were then refused since the apartment owner has apparently had problems with a foreigner in the past. We found the same apartment listed with another agent in the area who told us the same thing. We have one of the refusals recorded. Neither agent was the main listing agent for the apartment, however. We wanted to talk with the owner or main agent about the situation, but we were refused the information.

On the advice of one list member who wrote privately, I went to the houmukyoku to find the registered owner of the apartment, and my wife and I gave him a visit Thursday evening. We were very polite and asked him if we could talk to him about the problems he had previously had with foreigners, but he said he has no policy against renting to foreigners and would have no problems renting to us. He then (supposedly) called the main real estate agent and gave us the news that someone else was already interested in the apartment, though, telling us to check with them about the situation the next morning. We at least got the main listing agent’s name, however.

My wife, being the amazing woman she is, knew the agency and said the light had been on when we passed it on our way to the owner’s house. We hurried into the car and got to the agency just as they were about to close. When we told them why we were there, they said the owner had refused us and there was nothing they could do. They were extremely surprised to learn we had just spoken to the owner, leading us to believe the owner had just been pretending to be on the phone. They then said someone else was interested in the apartment, so we would have to wait for their decision. We made it very clear, however, that we had made our decision a full week-and-a-half prior and considered ourselves ahead of any other possible renters. To make an even longer story a little shorter, they kept giving us the runaround until we had countered all of their “reasons” for our not being able to rent to us and essentially trapped themselves in their own excuses and twisted logic. We recorded the exchanges with both the landlord and real estate office and I would love to post them sometime, as they are absolutely mind-boggling. In the end, though, they ran out of even semi-plausible excuses and we got the apartment.

I have to admit I’m somewhat dissatisfied with the fact that we will be giving these people money. There was definitely a concerted effort going on in the background to get rid of us. At the same time, it was definitely the best apartment available and our new teacher shouldn’t have to settle for second-best simply because she’s foreign. In the end, our polite determination won out. Next time we need an apartment, though, we’ll know to have a Japanese person look first at what’s available and then decide from there. We wouldn’t have been shown the best apartment otherwise, which is a real shame.

Ryan Hagglund
My English School
Higashine, Yamagata

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

FINAL UPDATE

From: Ryan Hagglund
Subject: RESEND: Hi Ryan. May I blog your apartment report? Anything to add?
Date: January 11, 2008 10:35:07 PM JST
To: debito@debito.org

…Of course you may blog you like that I’ve reported to the Life in Japan list. I can’t think of anything at the moment to add to what I’ve written. I guess I would just emphasize that I made sure to be as polite as possible while being clear that I would not accept a denial based on being foreign… Thanks! Ryan

ENDS

Mark Mino-Thompson on “updated” Hotel Laws: Refusal OK if “unreasonable/unrational burden”

Hi Blog. Mark Mino-Thompson reports below on his discovery of new “amendments” to the Ryokan Gyouhou (Hotel Management Law), created in English and Japanese legalese and in generic format (meaning written by somebody else) for use in hotels nationwide. They are vague enough to make it seem as though a hotel could refuse a NJ lodging if the lodger poses an “unreasonable/unrational burden” (such as speaking a foreign language or offering beds instead of futons?). Copies of the laws linked below. Debito in Sapporo

============================
From: Mark Mino-Thompson
Subject: [Community] Hotels asking for passports from residents in Japan
Date: January 8, 2008 11:22:07 AM JST
To: The Community Yahoogroup

My family and I went to an Onsen hotel over the holidays. While the reservation was in my name (My wife’s family name + my first name in katakana), my sister-in-law handled the front desk registration, as we were busy with our kids. They didn’t request to see my passport or other ID, although as I wasn’t checking in directly, I can’t say what would have happened if I had been. I did notice that they did have the standard multilingual “May we see your passport?” sign Debito has posted before, featured on the front desk.

Later that day, while reading through the hotel information, I came across the Terms and Conditions for accommodation, printed in Japanese and English. Firstly, I noticed that much like others I’ve seen in various hotels over the past two years erroneously states in Article 8 that:

“The guest shall register the following particulars at the front desk of the Ryokan/Hotel on the day of accommodation: (1) Name, age, sex, address, and occupation of the guest(s) (2) For non Japanese: nationality, passport number, port and date of entry in Japan
newarticle8_eng.jpg
newarticle8_jp.jpg

This is nothing new. There have been many accounts from others about this error in Japanese hotel documentation. However, the Japanese version also seems to be the same wording as in English.

I’ve attached a scan of the original documents in the files section of the Community yahoogroups site. (Too big to put here as image or thumbnail–see them at Debito.org here:)

English: http://www.debito.org/newhotellaws2008eng.jpg

Japanese:
http://www.debito.org/newhotellaws2008j.jpg

Furthermore, as Debito has mentioned and documented before, the Hotel law article 5 states that accomodation can only be refused by the hotel in the case of:

1) a health issue involving contagious disease, 2) a clear and present endangerment of public morals, or 3) because all rooms are full.

However, this hotel terms and conditions Article 5 has additional (new?), disturbing provisions:

Article 5 (Refusal of Accommodation Contracts)

The Ryokan/Hotel may not accept the conclusion of an Accommodation Contract under any of the following cases:

(1) When the application for accommodation does not conform with these Terms and Conditions

(2) When the Ryokan/Hotel is fully booked and no room is available

(3) When the Guest seeking accommodation is deemed liable to conduct himself in a manner that will contravene the laws or act against the public order or good morals

(4) When the guest is clearly detected as carrying an infectious disease

(5) When the Ryokan/Hotel is requested to assume an unreasonable burden in regard to his accommodation [shukuhaku ni kanshi gouriteki na han’i o koeru futan o motomerareta toki–literally, “at times when the burden demanded in terms of staying has superseded the bounds of rationality/reasonability”–there we go with that easily-abusable “gouriteki sabetsu” “rational discrimination” concept again…]

(6) When the Ryokan/Hotel is unable to provide accommodation due to natural calamities, disfunction of the facilities and or other unavoidable causes, or

(7) When the provisions of Article 5 of Iwate Metropolitan/Prefecture Ordinance are applicable.

newarticle5_eng.jpg
newarticle5_jp.jpg
As you can see, clause number 1 seems to me to have a rather broad range of powers to refuse accommodation. Fail to give up your passport/ID to the front desk and we can deny you a room because you’re not conforming to Article 7 of our Accommodation Contract.

Clause number 5 also is troubling to me. What constitutes an “unreasonable burden” and who decides? Does having Japanese customers complaining about foreign bathers and demanding refunds allow the hotel to refuse non-Japanese out of fear of losing customers? Does not having English-speaking (or other language) staff cause “unreasonable burden” to rural hotels and allow them to turn away people as well?

Clause 7 I haven’t researched as of yet, but it seems that ordinances created at the prefectural level may have the power to refuse others as well.

In addition, these Terms and Conditions, similar to the multilingual front desk signs made by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (that Debito has mentioned) seem to be quite professionally made. They are professionally printed on glossy paper, refer to “the Ryokan/Hotel” instead of the actual hotel name and the fact that the English legalese is high and above the ability of most English-speaking hotel clerks would suggest that they were made at either the prefectural (or more likely national) level for all hotels to use.

Any thoughts or comments on my interpretation of this document? Any suggestions or a course of action to get these documents corrected to accurately reflect the new passport ordinance for non-resident visitors and the hotel law itself?

Regards, Mark Mino-Thompson
ENDS

Permanent Resident protests US Embassy’s inaction towards protecting human rights of own citizens

Morning Blog. Got this letter last night from a friend who’s gotten disgusted with the US Embassy’s inaction towards protecting the human rights of its citizens. Myself, I think the USG has long forgotten it’s primary duty to its taxpayers/citizens, and sees its main duty as selling weapons and maintaining military bases and regional interests. Even though it has plenty of wherewithal (especially vis-a-vis Japan) to take on issues that affect the NJ residents here under their purview. The Canadian Govt. does, what with the Murray Wood Case, for one example. They even commented personally during the Otaru Onsens Case. (The USG did comment on its Country Reports on Human Rights, which I appreciate very much, but it was essentially too little, too late) Here’s the letter. Debito in Sapporo

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

[Kyushu Permanent Resident, reproduced with permission and anonymized by Debito.org] January 10, 2008

Dear U.S. Embassy,

I just finished reading your January newsletter. In it, like the previous two, you mentioned the new Japanese immigration control law without comment.

What I have not read in recent newsletters – what I and probably many other permanent-resident Americans in Japan are wondering – is what you have done to protest the new law. Regrettably, I have not heard a peep from the embassy regarding this discriminatory law. In case you don’t know, many permanent-resident Americans are upset about it.

I know you diplomats are exempt from the humiliating experience of having to be fingerprinted and photographed. But, what about those of us who have lived her many years (34 in my case), have been good, tax-paying, contributing residents? I am not talking about time or inconvenience. I am talking about being separated from Japanese spouse and kids upon return from abroad, singled out as a potential criminal or terrorist. This, in spite of having already been thoroughly investigated, fingerprinted, etc. to obtain permanent-resident status.

The U.S.A. does not require Japanese who are permanent residents in the U.S. to be fingerprinted when they return to the country. This is grounds enough for a protest to the Japanese government. It is often “gaiatsu” that gets things changed here.

More than just consular services and benign announcements, we Americans expect you to stand up for our rights here. Did the Japanese government ask the Embassy for comment on a law that affects thousands of Americans here, and if so what did you do/say?

Fifteen years ago, Ambassador Walter Mondale fought for the rights of over 100 U.S. citizen teachers at Japanese national universities (I was one.) who were slated to be released because they were in the high pay brackets and close to getting retirement benefits. He met personally with a representative group of affected teachers at the Embassy, and he took the matter to the highest levels of Japanese government and did not give up until they relented and reversed the policy. One point he made was that such an indignity would not happen to the many Japanese academics employed at American universities.

I hope you can so something about this fingerprinting issue; at the very least inform the Japanese government that most Americans resent this new requirement. If you are not sure about the depth of feeling on this issue, you could invite U.S. citizens to write in with feedback/comments on the law.

If your answer is simply that the law is a matter of Japanese internal policy, then you are not serving us well at all.

Thank you,

[Name Withheld]

U.S. Citizen

ENDS

Jeff on Japanese police documenting neighborhood residents

Hi Blog. Jeff sends this post (blogging with adaptation and permission) on how tracking NJ in Japan doesn’t end at the border with fingerprinting and photographing, or at the local government office with registering, or on the street with Gaijin Cards (with criminal charges for NJ only for not carrying ID 24-7).

According to Jeff, it’s also happening at the home, with the cops making house calls, asking for data to store at the local police station. I’ll let the Comments section hold court on how widespread this is (is there a national campaign going on?). But this has never happened to me in all my twenty plus years here, both as a NJ and a Japanese living in Sapporo and Niigata. Has it happened to other readers?

If it happened to me, I would just take the form politely and later throw it away. I doubt I am under any legal obligation to provide data like this to the local police station (you aren’t, after all, obligated to answer the National Census (kokusei chousa) in part or at all). Nor is anyone else, regardless of nationality. Comments? Debito in Sapporo

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

Japanese police documenting neighborhood residents

Hi Debito, this is the first time I have mailed or commented. I have been in the same apt in tokyo for about 6 years and in the past the police have come around once in a while to write down names and do their “rounds”, to keep the neighborhood safe, as they describe their activities. I was fine with that.

Last month and again last week, one officer came around with a green form (see below) and asked my wife and I to fill it out. The first time I threw it away. The form asks for name, birthdate, occupation, honseki, date began living at residence, address, contacts for an emergency including name, add, and tel number; as well as a description of any vehicles owned including bicycles. The top of the form, and I will paraphrase in English from Japanese, the form is intended for use to contact people in case of emergencies and the information will not be shown to anyone else.

The way the form is printed suggests that it was printed by the NPA for use all over the country, not just in Tokyo. I have no doubt that this is their primary intent, but I am reluctant for a number of reasons to supply this info and this much info not relevant to emergencies. We called the local police and they reiterated everything the officer said and what is written on the form. My first thought was that if they were going keep this form at my local koban, its not a bad idea, because it would make it easier for the police to do their job locally in case of a major emergency.

But after confirming that the information cards will be stored at the actual police station, I questioned whether there was any relevant argument for actually collecting this info. All of the info, except for the emergency contact person’s details is stored at the ku-yakusho (apart from vehicle info), along with all of the other info they have on me, being a foreign national. So, why don’t they just call the ku-yakusho and get the info from there, there is probably a law against that.

In addition, juki-net got shot down and I believe this is an attempt for the police to create there own juki-net by getting people to volunteer their information in the name of safety. It would not be all that difficult for the police to collect info locally and then put all of the info into a single database. This is starting to go long so I will leave it here.

Have you heard of this before? If you have, what are other people’s reactions? Any thoughts? Is this another step in the slowly degrading state of our civil rights here in Japan, after the reinstatement of fingerprinting what is next; national ID cards with pics and fingerprints for all residents regardless of nationality or maybe just a chip in our necks? I am not paranoid or anything, I just don’t like dealing with the police.

As the saying goes, when you need the police, they are never there; and when you don’t, you get a parking ticket. I just made that up. Sincerely, Jeff. ENDS

(click on image to expand in browser)
FRONT
policecardfront.jpg
BACK
policebackcard21.jpg
ENDS

Economist Leader makes the case why immigration is a good thing

Hi Blog. No mention of Japan in this week’s Economist Leader (and no wonder), but I put it on Debito.org with links to a fuller article because it makes many arguments that ought to be heard. Why should Japan accept NJ and encourage immigration? Because it stands to benefit. Here are some arguments from the experts, tracing many of the social trends, backlashes, and lessons that apply just as well to Japan. Underlined for your convenience. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Global migration
Keep the borders open
Jan 3rd 2008 From The Economist print edition
http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10430282

The backlash against immigrants in the rich world is a threat to prosperity everywhere

ITALIANS blame gypsies from Romania for a spate of crime. British politicians of all stripes promise to curb the rapid immigration of recent years. Voters in France, Switzerland and Denmark last year rewarded politicians who promised to keep out strangers. In America, too, huddled masses are less welcome as many presidential candidates promise to fence off Mexico. And around the rich world, immigration has been rising to the top of voters’ lists of concerns—which, for those who believe that migration greatly benefits both recipient and donor countries, is a worry in itself.

As our special report this week argues, immigration takes many forms. The influx of Poles to Britain, of Mexicans to America, of Zimbabweans to South Africa and of Bangladeshis to the Persian Gulf has different causes and consequences in each case. But most often migration is about young, motivated, dynamic people seeking to better themselves by hard work.

History has shown that immigration encourages prosperity. Tens of millions of Europeans who made it to the New World in the 19th and 20th centuries improved their lot, just as the near 40m foreign-born are doing in America today. Many migrants return home with new skills, savings, technology and bright ideas. Remittances to poor countries in 2006 were worth at least $260 billion—more, in many countries, than aid and foreign investment combined. Letting in migrants does vastly more good for the world’s poor than stuffing any number of notes into Oxfam tins.

The movement of people also helps the rich world. Prosperous countries with greying workforces rely ever more on young foreigners. Indeed, advanced economies compete vigorously for outsiders’ skills. Around a third of the Americans who won Nobel prizes in physics in the past seven years were born abroad. About 40% of science and engineering PhDs working in America are immigrants. Around a third of Silicon Valley companies were started by Indians and Chinese. The low-skilled are needed too, especially in farming, services and care for children and the elderly. It is no coincidence that countries that welcome immigrants—such as Sweden, Ireland, America and Britain—have better economic records than those that shun them.

Face the fears

Given all these gains, why the backlash? Partly because politicians prefer to pander to xenophobic fears than to explain immigration’s benefits. But not all fear of foreigners is irrational. Voters have genuine concerns. Large numbers of incomers may be unsettling; economic gloom makes natives fear for their jobs; sharp disparities of income across borders threaten rich countries with floods of foreigners; outsiders who look and sound notably different from their hosts may find it hard to integrate. To keep borders open, such fears have to be acknowledged and dealt with, not swept under the carpet.

Immigration can, for instance, hurt the least skilled by depressing their wages. But these workers are at greater risk from new technology and foreign goods. The answer is not to impoverish the whole economy by keeping out immigrants but to equip this group with the skills it anyway needs.

Americans object to the presence of around 12m illegal migrant workers in a country with high rates of legal migration. But given the American economy’s reliance on them, it is not just futile but also foolish to build taller fences to keep them out. Better for Congress to resume its efforts to bring such workers out of the shadows, by opening more routes for legal, perhaps temporary, migration, and an amnesty for long-standing, law-abiding workers already in the country. Politicians in rich countries should also be honest about, and quicker to raise spending to deal with, the strains that immigrants place on public services.

It is not all about money, however. As the London Tube bombers and Paris’s burning banlieues have shown, the social integration of new arrivals is also crucial. The advent of Islamist terrorism has sharpened old fears that incoming foreigners may fail to adopt the basic values of the host country. Tackling this threat will never be simple. But nor would blocking migration do much to stop the dedicated terrorist. Better to seek ways to isolate the extremist fringe, by making a greater effort to inculcate common values of citizenship where these are lacking, and through a flexible labour market to provide the disaffected with rewarding jobs.

Above all, perspective is needed. The vast population movements of the past four decades have not brought the social strife the scaremongers predicted. On the contrary, they have offered a better life for millions of migrants and enriched the receiving countries both culturally and materially. But to preserve these great benefits in the future, politicians need the courage not only to speak up against the populist tide in favour of the gains immigration can bring, but also to deal honestly with the problems it can sometimes cause.
ENDS

===============================
MORE ON THIS SUBJECT AT THE ECONOMIST AT
MIGRATION: Open up
Jan 3rd 2008 From The Economist print edition
Despite a growing backlash, the boom in migration has been mostly good for both sending and recipient countries, says Adam Roberts
http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displayStory.cfm?story_id=10286197
ends

石川県の北國新聞のセールズ:「外国人購読拒否」

皆様こんばんは。有道 出人です。あけましておめでとうございます。今年もよろしく!

では、今回の件は外国人が温泉入浴拒否ではなく、アパート入居拒否ではなく、店舗・ディスコ・飲み屋・レストラン・、眼鏡屋・ホテルなどの入場拒否ではなく、
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html
今回は外国人新聞購読拒否の件です。

 証拠は
slip-front-1.jpgpostcard-back.jpgslip-back.jpgpostcard-front-1.jpg

載っているのは、11月付の北國新聞の契約書、そして翌日届いた外国人の購読を受付しないを言うセールスマンからのハガキ。
(Boss didn’t accept foreigner’s subscription. I am sorry. Ryozo Matsuda)
(上司は外国人の購読を受付かねます。すみません。松田了三より)

 拒否した外国人(以下「顧客」)によると、北國新聞を代表するセールズ(下請けの販売所)の松田氏は昨年11月13日に売り込みに顧客の自宅に訪れました。顧客は「日本語の練習になる」と思い、3ヶ月契約に結びました。月初めに前払いの形で、会社に取って全く未納の心配がないものの、翌日14日に「上司が拒否」というハガキが届いて契約が守られなかったです。

 驚愕ですね。いままで上記のサイトに載っている「ガイジンダメ」という正当化は「文化の違い」「ガイジンは怖い」「ガイジンは嫌い」「払わないかも」「暴れるかも」「衛生問題がある」などと言ってあるが、今回の相当な理由はどうなると思いました。「ガイジンは日本語が読めないから」ですか。

 年明け後調べ始めました。1月7日、北國新聞のセールズ「野々市三馬」(076-243-1810)に電話してみて、松田氏は留守で、翌日8日に午前11時23分に代表の織田氏から電話いただきました。織田氏はこの件について一切聞いていないと言い、私は契約書と拒否ハガキを電子メールで送りました。織田さんはその言及した松田氏の上司「桜井」氏と確認して、「過去色々なことがあったから、差別ではない、差別の意図はない」と弁解しました。理屈は分かりにくかったから、直接桜井氏と話したいと言いました。桜井氏は午後4時47分に電話下さいました。

 桜井氏の言い分は、松田さんはきちんと契約をしなかったから契約をキャンセルをしました。外国人だからではなく、契約にとって色々な問題が発生したからと。私は「それなら、違う人を顧客の自宅まで送って再契約すればどうでしょうか?なぜ2ヶ月経過してから何も動きはなかったですか。わざわざ顧客の自宅まで訪れて、契約して、そして解約するのですか。ハガキは『外国人だから拒否』は明確にあるのに、間違いなくそうなんじゃないでしょうか。私はここでクレームをしなかったら、そのまま解約と顧客精神苦痛はあるのでは?」と問いました。が、桜井氏は「松田はそういうハガキを書いたのかは知らなかった。」

 私は「でも、間違いなく一方的に契約をキャンセルしたに違いませんか。日本の印刷のマスコミが苦しんでいる中、改めて支払う意図のある顧客をこうやってフォローアップしないことは信じ難いのです。」

 桜井氏は「差別ではなく、松田が悪い」と主張しました。私は未だに腑に落ちませんね。

 それに、私は北國新聞本社(〒920-8588 石川県金沢市香林坊2丁目5番1号 TEL.076-263-2111 内線1)に連絡して、「これは御社の契約の問題なので、御社を代表するセールズは『外国人拒否』とはっきり書いたので、どうやら責任を取りませんか」と言っても、受付は「その販売所と話し合って下さい」と言い、私からその契約と拒否ハガキのファックスを拒否しました。その後(午後5時3分)、販売部金沢担当の小竹氏(076-260-3654)から連絡があり、明日現状を調べてからご連絡をいただくようです。

とりあえず、お気がすすめば、どうぞ、北國新聞とそのセールズまでご連絡下さい。
dokusha@hokkoku.co.jp
koho@hokkoku.co.jp
nanbuhanbai@hokkoku.co.jp
kotake@hokkoku.co.jp
http://www.hokkoku.co.jp/

宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人
以上

“Japanese Only” Newspaper Outlet: Hokkoku Shinbun in Ishikawa Pref (UPDATED)

Hi Blog. Things are getting surreal these days in Japan. Now even newspaper outlets are getting xenophobic.

Let’s trace the logical development of all this. In the Otaru Onsens Case, the management said they would refuse foreigners because of, inter alia, different bathing customs and sanitation issues.

In various other cases catalogued at the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments, foreigners would be refused (these are actual reasons given from people in charge) at bars and restaurants ‘cos they might not pay, stores ‘cos they might shoplift, at a disco ‘cos they might drink too much or hit on Japanese women, at an Internet cafe cos they might breach security, at hotels ‘cos the management doesn’t speak any foreign languages, at a women’s relaxation boutique ‘cos their feet are too big, at an opticians ‘cos the owner doesn’t like Black people, and by realtors because, well, just because–the landlord has a “thing” about foreigners, and legally in Japan there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

But here’s a case that just boggles the mind. Of a newspaper sales outlet refusing a foreigner his subscription. What, is the newspaper seller (in this day of withering print journalism) worried the gaijin might be able to read what they write?

Turning the keyboard over to the person was canvassed, subscribed, then got refused. Anonymized. Courtesy of The Community mailing list. With updates and sleuthing to get to the bottom of this afterwards. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

=======================
November 27, 2007

Hi everyone, I thought this might be of interest to people in The Community.

About 2 weeks or so ago, a newspaper salesman came to my door. As soon as I opened the door, he gave a robust greeting in English that he works for Hokkoku Shinbun 北國新聞 (a local Ishikawa-ken paper) and asked if I understood Japanese. My Japanese isn’t great, but I like trying to read things. He then asked if I would like to subscribe for 3 months and I said sure. We filled out the form and he said that my paper would start to be delivered in December. He was extremely polite and happy that I wanted to subscribe and I was quite happy to have a chance to gather an abundance of reading materials.

Here’s the receipt (front and back, click on images to expand in browser):
slip-front-1.jpgslip-back.jpg

However, about a week later, I got a postcard saying this: “Boss didn’t accept foreigner’s subscription. I am sorry.”
postcard-back.jpg
postcard-front-1.jpg

Naturally, this confused me. It’s for a three month subscription, of which I would pay each month for that month’s newspaper.

In our discussions, the salesman and I talked about where I work and it turns out that he took English classes at the same college way back when. So, he knew that I wouldn’t just up and run or that I wouldn’t be a deadbeat in paying.

Contact information on the newspaper:
北國新聞
販売所名: 野々市三馬(石川県)
代表者名:松田了三(まつだ・りょうぞ)
電話: 076−247-2120 (changed to 076-243-1810)
〒920-8588 石川県金沢市香林坊2丁目5番1号 TEL.076-263-2111
dokusha@hokkoku.co.jp
koho@hokkoku.co.jp
nanbuhanbai@hokkoku.co.jp
http://www.hokkoku.co.jp/
ENDS

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

UPDATE JANUARY 8, 2008 FROM ARUDOU DEBITO

I made some calls around to get to the bottom of this. Here’s what I unearthed:

1) Mr Matsuda, who made the house call to get our client above signed up, is employed of those special selling agencies (seiruzu, from “sales”) hired by the parent newspaper company. It is only tangentally-related (shita-uke) to the hanbaibu within Hokkoku Shinbun itself.

2) Mr Matsuda did not return my call. A Mr Oda at 076-247-7834 did. He said he hadn’t heard anything about this event–he hadn’t even received the actual contract forms I’ve blogged above. Hence he was not the “boss” referred to within the postcard.

3) That boss is a Mr Sakurai, and when asked by Mr Oda why he refused the client, there were some incomprehensible excuses about something or other having to do with some prior experience with something or other. (I don’t think Mr Oda even understood the excuse as he was trying to relate it to me.) What, nonpayment? Stop the subscription, like you would do for any Japanese deadbeat. But the client would be paying in advance anyway, so that’s not even a problem. Mr Oda tried to claim that this wasn’t a case of discrimination, but, I asked, what else could it be?

4) So unless I had made these phone calls, this refusal would have stopped at Mr Sakurai and nobody within Hokkoku Shinbun would have been the wiser. Who’s going to be taking responsibility for this?

Frankly, I felt there was something very fishy about all this (I have received warnings not to purchase newspaper subscriptions from these seiruzu outlets–the ones that offer long-term subscriptions with big presents–because they are often run by organized-crime syndicates. This is according to Hokkaido Shinbun.) So I called the Hokkoku Shinbun head office above and asked if they knew of Mr Oda at this company at this phone number. They did, he’s legit. And when I asked if they would look into it all, they said I should take it up with Mr Oda’s company first. Huh?

What a strange situation. Newsprint hurting for subscribers these days and they’re refusing foreigners, based upon the stealthy prejudices of one person sitting at a veto gate? Hurting the reputation of the newspaper? And the head office doesn’t want to do anything about it? What bad business practices.

I’ve already sent out the above notices to my Japanese press lists, as well as to the dokusha and koho Hokkoku Shinbun email addresses above. The media should find this interesting as it’s one of their own. Should draw up a report in Japanese tonight.

More updates as they come in. Debito in Sapporo

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UPDATE JANUARY 9, 2007

I have talked with a number of people on this case (NHK and Kyodo have also been in touch), including Mr Sakurai and the actual manager of the Hokkoku Shinbun Hanbai Bu Kanazawa Tantou Mr Kotake (076-260-3564, email kotake@hokkoku.co.jp) twice, for about thirty minutes each. Here’s what else has surfaced:

MR SAKURAI (Last night before dinner):

1) There was no discrimination. He was unaware that Mr Matsuda had written anything like that in the postcard. It’s Mr Matsuda’s fault.

2) There was a problem with the contract, so we cancelled it. Yes, unilaterally.

3) Er… that’s it.

When asked why they didn’t, like, come back with a new contract, or answer with a postcard or a personal visit something a little nicer than “no foreigners”, he just said he had no knowledge the postcard said such a thing, and was sorry he didn’t come back with a new contract.

Fu ni ochinai ne.

MR KOTAKE (this morning, after checking with the Nonoichi Sanba company and Mr Sakurai):

1) This was a separate sales company unrelated to the actual Hokkoku Shinbunsha, so the problem is within the Nonoichi Sanba sales corp. itself. (As H.O. advised me below in the Comments section.)

2) There was no inkan (seal) on the contract, so it wasn’t a legitimate contract yet.

3) There was no intent to discriminate, and everyone (Mr Kotake, Mr Sakurai, Mr Matsuda) will be going to the client’s house and apologizing today if not tomorrow for not explaining this situation to the customer properly.

I pointed out that it still seemed unnatural (in this day of withering print journalism) for a sales outlet not to assiduously court paying customers (if this were a Japanese client, I doubt there would be any hesitation to go back with a new contract or ask for an inkan on the old contract). And if it I hadn’t made the phone calls, these apologies would never have happened. That, plus the postcard explicitly giving the reason as “no foreigners”, were enough to make one doubt the claim that there was no discrimination. And this attempt to pin the blame on Mr Matsuda, when it was Mr Sakurai who didn’t tell Mr Oda or anyone else in the company about the contract issue, is pretty strange.

Mr Kotake replied that he hoped that this would not give people a bad impression of Ishikawa Prefecture or of Hokkoku Shinbun. I said that how they handled this situation would determine that. He hoped that some of the information on this blog would be changed to reflect that Hokkoku Shinbun and Nonoichi Sanba were two different entities, and I have since made some alterations to the report above.

He also mentioned that he remembered me from the Otaru Onsens Case (he read a lot of my website last night) and hoped that I would have no negative impressions of things. I simply said that this sort of thing is happening all over Japan (see Comments section below for a claim that a Yomiuri subscription service did the same thing to somebody else), in all sectors of Japan, and if Japan is ever to get over their “gaijin allergy”, it’s going to take some work by media outlets, such as the Hokkoku Shinbun, to report the good things that NJ residents also do here, not just the allegedly bad. How about devoting an occasional column to that? He mentioned that few foreigner laborers come here, but lots of exchange students. It’s an idea.

That was it. Lots of loose ends here. Let’s wait and see how they play out in the other media. I spent another half hour on the phone this afternoon with a Kyodo reporter on this. Keep an eye on NHK and Kyodo News. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
ENDS

Yomiuri: DPJ pushing bill for NJ voting rights in local elections

Hi Blog. Here’s some very good news. Somebody at least is recognizing the reality that you can’t keep people who live here permanently for generations permanently disenfranchised from the democratic process. One more reason to support the DPJ (or the New Komeito, depending on your politics–hopefully enticing it out of its Faustian deal with the devil just to share power with the LDP).

Wouldn’t it be interesting if in the end what made the LDP finally fall from power was issues of immigration and assimilation? Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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DPJ lawmakers to push foreigner suffrage bill
The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 7, 2008
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20080107TDY03102.htm
Courtesy of Chris Gunson

Lawmakers in the Democratic Party of Japan are stepping up efforts to resubmit a bill that would grant permanent foreign residents the right to vote in local elections, according to sources.

With New Komeito also strongly demanding local suffrage for permanent foreign residents, DPJ lawmakers hope in the upcoming Diet session “to split the ruling camp by submitting the bill to the House of Councillors and call on New Komeito to endorse it,” according to one of the sources.

But some conservative lawmakers in the party are determined to block the resubmission.

“Looking at this constitutionally and from the state of the nation, there’s no way we can approve this,” one party conservative said.

The DPJ previously submitted the bill to the House of Representatives on two occasions–in 1998 and 2002–but it was scrapped after failing to pass both times.

New Komeito also submitted to the lower house in 2005 a bill for granting permanent foreign residents voting rights in local elections, and discussions have spilled over into the current Diet session.

The passing of any bill of this nature has been stopped in its tracks mostly due to deep-rooted resistance mainly in the Liberal Democratic Party.

Yoshihiro Kawakami, a DPJ upper house member, plans to call on supporters in the party and establish a league of Diet members aimed at resubmitting the DPJ’s bill.

In the new bill, a “principle of reciprocity” will be introduced, in which local voting rights would only be granted to permanent residents who hold the nationality of a country that allows foreigners to vote in elections.

“New Komeito’s proposed bill has for sometime contained the principle of reciprocity, and so New Komeito won’t be able to oppose the DPJ’s bill,” Kawakami said.

Kawakami and his supporters hope to gain approval from the party leadership and submit the bill for prior consideration by the upper house. (Jan. 7, 2008)
ENDS

読売:外国人の地方参政権法案、民主内で再提出の動き

外国人の地方参政権法案、民主内で再提出の動き
 永住外国人に地方参政権を付与する法案を巡り、民主党内で次期通常国会に再提出を目指す動きが活発化してきた。
2008年1月5日21時23分 読売新聞
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/politics/news/20080105ia22.htm

 地方参政権付与は公明党が強く求めており、「参院に民主党が法案を提出し、公明党に賛成を呼びかければ、与党の分断を図ることができる」との狙いからだ。ただ、党内の保守派議員は「憲法上も、国のあり方という観点からも、絶対に認められない」として阻止する構えだ。

 民主党は、同法案を1998年と2000年の2度にわたって衆院に提出したが、いずれも成立せず、廃案となった。一方、公明党は05年に衆院に「永住外国人地方選挙権付与法案」を提出、今国会でも継続審議になっている。自民党を中心に慎重論が根強いことが背景にある。

 民主党の川上義博参院議員は、党内の有志議員に呼びかけ、民主党案の再提出を目指す議員連盟を近く結成する方針だ。今回の法案には、相手国で外国人に対する選挙権を認めている場合にのみ、その国の国籍を持つ人に選挙権を付与する「相互主義」を新たに採用することを検討している。「公明党案にも、当分の間は相互主義をとることが盛り込まれており、公明党も民主党案に反対できなくなる」との判断がある。

 民主党の小沢代表は、「一定の要件のもとに地方参政権を与えるべきだ」と主張してきた経緯がある。川上氏らは、党執行部の賛同を得て、参院先議で法案を提出したい考えだ。

 これに対し、党内の保守派議員は「選挙権は、日本国籍を有する者に対してのみ保障されている。政局的な狙いから、『国のかたち』をゆがめるべきではない」と反発している。

(2008年1月5日21時23分 読売新聞)

Humor: Charles Kowalski letter to Yomiuri on Ishiba’s UFO fears

Hi Blog. This is so good I couldn’t just let it languish within the comments section of this blog. It deserves an entry all its own.

Charles Kowalski sent this letter to the Yomiuri when Defense Minister Hashiba (inter alia) was getting all nerdy about defenses against a theoretical UFO invasion late last year. Charles takes the issue and runs with it. Hilariously. The Yomiuri, not known for any sense of humor (or for brooking any criticism of Japan from outsiders), wouldn’t publish it. So I will. Debito in Sapporo

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UNPUBLISHED LETTER TO THE EDITOR AT THE YOMIURI, BY CHARLES KOWALSKI:

To Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba:

I urge you to reconsider your comment that UFOs “can’t be categorized as coming from a foreign country” (Yomiuri December 21, page 2). Please take a moment to think about the dangerous precedents this policy would set.

If UFOs could enter Japanese airspace without resistance, they could easily spirit away Japanese citizens. Japan has enough abduction issues already! But even worse, what if the extraterrestrial visitors liked our beautiful country so much that they decided to stay – and without the limitations that apply to humans from other countries?

First of all, with no visa restrictions, they could take jobs away from Japanese citizens. In the fields of astrophysics and aeronautics, an interstellar pilot would have a grossly unfair advantage over a Japanese graduate who shuffled through university with a perpetual hangover. Do you want more of our young people to become NEETs?

And if men from Mars, or women from Venus, were to marry Japanese citizens, what would prevent their names from being recorded in the juminhyo? Tama-chan was cute as a one-time joke, but do you really want to see Qrlzak Wzaxo from Jupiter listed on equal terms with Hanako Sato from Morioka? And their children, with one parent from a planet with higher gravity, would always beat their Japanese classmates in athletic competitions! How unsporting!

Our course of action should be clear: Treat extraterrestrials the same as any other aliens. When they arrive at the UFO terminal at Narita, take prints of their claws, tentacles, antennae or whatever they use for fingers. Make them carry Space Alien Registration Cards that the police could inspect at any time. Interplanetarization is all very well, but we Japanese must take measures to prevent these aliens from going where no gaijin has gone before.
ENDS

NYT: Losing an Edge, Japanese Envy India’s Schools

Hi Blog. Ironic article, given many eikaiwa won’t hire Subcontinental Indians because they don’t look the part or speak “gaijin” English… Then again, as the author admits, the following is just one of those fads, and fads fade. And when I sent this to an education list I’m a member of, they doubted many of the claims made in the article–such as the one-page essay in English at age five–as mere boosterism. And most importantly, what are the entry fees? Debito in Sapporo

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Losing an Edge, Japanese Envy India’s Schools
By MARTIN FACKLER
New York Times January 2, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/02/business/worldbusiness/02japan.html?_r=1&hp=&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print
Courtesy of The Club

MITAKA, Japan — Japan is suffering a crisis of confidence these days about its ability to compete with its emerging Asian rivals, China and India. But even in this fad-obsessed nation, one result was never expected: a growing craze for Indian education.

Despite an improved economy, many Japanese are feeling a sense of insecurity about the nation’s schools, which once turned out students who consistently ranked at the top of international tests. That is no longer true, which is why many people here are looking for lessons from India, the country the Japanese see as the world’s ascendant education superpower.

Bookstores are filled with titles like “Extreme Indian Arithmetic Drills” and “The Unknown Secrets of the Indians.” Newspapers carry reports of Indian children memorizing multiplication tables far beyond nine times nine, the standard for young elementary students in Japan.

And Japan’s few Indian international schools are reporting a surge in applications from Japanese families.

At the Little Angels English Academy & International Kindergarten, the textbooks are from India, most of the teachers are South Asian, and classroom posters depict animals out of Indian tales. The kindergarten students even color maps of India in the green and saffron of its flag.

Little Angels is located in this Tokyo suburb, where only one of its 45 students is Indian. Most are Japanese.

Viewing another Asian country as a model in education, or almost anything else, would have been unheard-of just a few years ago, say education experts and historians.

Much of Japan has long looked down on the rest of Asia, priding itself on being the region’s most advanced nation. Indeed, Japan has dominated the continent for more than a century, first as an imperial power and more recently as the first Asian economy to achieve Western levels of economic development.

But in the last few years, Japan has grown increasingly insecure, gripped by fear that it is being overshadowed by India and China, which are rapidly gaining in economic weight and sophistication. The government here has tried to preserve Japan’s technological lead and strengthen its military. But the Japanese have been forced to shed their traditional indifference to the region.

Grudgingly, Japan is starting to respect its neighbors.

“Until now, Japanese saw China and India as backwards and poor,” said Yoshinori Murai, a professor of Asian cultures at Sophia University in Tokyo. “As Japan loses confidence in itself, its attitudes toward Asia are changing. It has started seeing India and China as nations with something to offer.”

Last month, a national cry of alarm greeted the announcement by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that in a survey of math skills, Japan had fallen from first place in 2000 to 10th place, behind Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea. From second in science in 2000, Japan dropped to sixth place.

While China has stirred more concern here as a political and economic challenger, India has emerged as the country to beat in a more benign rivalry over education. In part, this reflects China’s image in Japan as a cheap manufacturer and technological imitator. But India’s success in software development, Internet businesses and knowledge-intensive industries in which Japan has failed to make inroads has set off more than a tinge of envy.

Most annoying for many Japanese is that the aspects of Indian education they now praise are similar to those that once made Japan famous for its work ethic and discipline: learning more at an earlier age, an emphasis on memorization and cramming, and a focus on the basics, particularly in math and science.

India’s more demanding education standards are apparent at the Little Angels Kindergarten, and are its main selling point. Its 2-year-old pupils are taught to count to 20, 3-year-olds are introduced to computers, and 5-year-olds learn to multiply, solve math word problems and write one-page essays in English, tasks most Japanese schools do not teach until at least second grade.

Indeed, Japan’s anxieties about its declining competitiveness echo the angst of another nation two decades ago, when Japan was the economic upstart.

“Japan’s interest in learning from Indian education is a lot like America’s interest in learning from Japanese education,” said Kaoru Okamoto, a professor specializing in education policy at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo.

As with many new things here, the interest in Indian-style education quickly became a fad.

Indian education is a frequent topic in forums like talk shows. Popular books claim to reveal the Indian secrets for multiplying and dividing multiple-digit numbers. Even Japan’s conservative education ministry has begun discussing Indian methods, said Jun Takai of the ministry’s international affairs division.

Eager parents try to send their children to Japan’s roughly half dozen Indian schools, hoping for an edge on the competitive college entrance exams.

In Tokyo, the two largest Indian schools, which teach kindergarten through junior high, mainly to Indian expatriates, received a sudden increase in inquiries from Japanese parents starting last year.

The Global Indian International School says that 20 of its some 200 students are now Japanese, with demand so high from Indian and Japanese parents that it is building a second campus in the neighboring city of Yokohama.

The other, the India International School in Japan, just expanded to 170 students last year, including 10 Japanese. It already has plans to expand again.

Japanese parents have expressed “very, very high interest” in Indian schools, said Nirmal Jain, principal of the India International School.

The boom has had the side effect of making many Japanese a little more tolerant toward other Asians.

The founder of the Little Angels school, Jeevarani Angelina — a former oil company executive from Chennai, India, who accompanied her husband, Saraph Chandar Rao Sanku, to Japan in 1990 — said she initially had difficulty persuading landlords to rent space to an Indian woman to start a school. But now, the fact that she and three of her four full-time teachers are non-Japanese Asians is a selling point.

“When I started, it was a first to have an English-language school taught by Asians, not Caucasians,” she said, referring to the long presence here of American and European international schools.

Unlike other Indian schools, Ms. Angelina said, Little Angels was intended primarily for Japanese children, to meet the need she had found when she sent her sons to Japanese kindergarten.

“I was lucky because I started when the Indian-education boom started,” said Ms. Angelina, 50, who goes by the name Rani Sanku here because it is easier for Japanese to pronounce. (Sanku is her husband’s family name.)

Ms. Angelina has adapted the curriculum to Japan with more group activities, less memorization and no Indian history. Encouraged by the kindergarten’s success, she said, she plans to open an Indian-style elementary school this year.

Parents are enthusiastic about the school’s rigorous standards.

“My son’s level is higher than those of other Japanese children the same age,” said Eiko Kikutake, whose son Hayato, 5, attends Little Angels. “Indian education is really amazing! This wouldn’t have been possible at a Japanese kindergarten.”
ENDS

Asahi: NPA Survey: 25% of hotels not following NPA demands to check “foreign guest” passports. Toyoko Inn not one of them.

Hi Blog. Here’s something I found rather interesting. A survey reported on the front page of the Asahi yesterday (courtesy Evan H., Matt, and H.O.) indicates that a quarter of major hotels nationwide sampled have qualms about asking NJ for their passports, and a third of them refused to copy them for police use. (No wonder–they can’t. By law they can only ask passports from NJ who have no addresses in Japan–meaning tourists.)

Hotels cite privacy reasons, and the problems and discomfort involved with explaining the rules to guests. Quite. Thank you. The Japanese article, however, notes that “some voices” (whoever they are) are noting the lack of punishment for noncooperating hotels (meaning we’ve got some legal holes to plug in the gaijin dragnet). Moreover, the survey was carried out by the National Police Agency. But you wouldn’t know either of these things if you read the English article only.

The two articles follow–the English translation, and the Japanese original. Note that the Japanese original is very specific in saying that “teijuu” NJ residents cannot be asked for their passports. However, the English translation omits that sentence entirely. And renders them misleadingly as “foreign guests”. Just like the NPA does. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

The translators (listed below as Seiji Iwata and Ichiro Noda) should be reprimanded for misinformation and unprofessionality. Feel free to express your opinion to the Asahi by email (they don’t have a comments page for the English site, but never mind–send in English if necessary) at http://www.asahi.com/reference/form.html

Meanwhile, there has been no reply from the Toyoko Inn chain regarding my letter re their reception in Hirosaki last November (asking me not only for my passport, but also proof that I’m even a Japanese). The head office in Tokyo had plenty of time to reply and say they’re concerned about customer complaints, and didn’t bother. So I say it again–don’t bother using the Toyoko Inn chain. Given their history towards other NJ clients, not to mention the handicapped, they don’t deserve your business.

The NPA indicates below that they will be cracking down on hotels who don’t “cooperate”. Expect more third-degree at Japanese hotels at check-in. Anyone want to create an information database for hotel and chains which follow the law properly, and confirm whether or not any and all guests are residents of Japan first before demanding their passports? Even a significant number of hotels aren’t happy with the oddly-enforced regulations. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Survey: 1 in 4 hotels fails to record foreign guests
01/05/2008 BY SEIJI IWATA AND ICHIRO NODA, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200801040263.html

One in four hotels and ryokan inns across Japan is not complying with government anti-terror initiatives that require them to record nationalities and passport numbers of foreign guests [sic], according to a survey.

Many hoteliers and inn owners say they are reluctant to do so for fear of treading on customers’ privacy.

The issue has taken on heightened importance in light of the Group of Eight summit to be held at Lake Toyako, Hokkaido, in July and fears of foreign terrorists infiltrating Japan.

The September survey of 33,000 hotels and ryokan inns was done to determine the level of compliance under the revised Hotel Business Law, according to the National Police Agency (NPA).

One in three hotels also failed to photocopy passports as directed by the government.

Many hotels said it is difficult to single out foreign guests. However, the agency has repeatedly asked hotels to check passports in light of the G-8 summit this summer.

“We want to ask all hotels to fully cooperate by April,” said an NPA spokesperson.

Because of the 9/11 terror attacks against the United States in 2001, the hotel law was amended in April 2005 to mandate hotels to record the nationalities and passport numbers of foreign guests, except for those with long-term residence status.

The law was originally enacted in 1948 to require hotels to record the names, addresses and occupations of all guests as a measure to prevent infectious diseases.

In addition to keeping proper records, the government has asked hotels to photocopy guests’ passports.

The survey targeted 33,000 hotels and inns which were deemed likely to be frequented by foreign visitors. There are 88,000 registered accommodations across Japan.

In several prefectures, more than half of hotels surveyed failed to write down the passport information.

The agency has refused to disclose survey results broken down by prefecture, saying that it may “let terrorists know the areas with poor security.”

Even in Hokkaido, which will host the G-8 summit, about 20 percent of hotels surveyed did not track the records.

Thanks to efforts by prefectural police, the figure fell about 10 percentage points in a follow-up survey conducted in November.

Prefectural police officials said small hotels tend not to have front desk clerks fluent in foreign languages and thus fail to obtain the information.

Since December, Hokkaido police have posted templates on their Web site for posters that publicize the requirements in English, Chinese, Korean and Russian so that hotel operators can download them for use at their facilities.

But an official at a Tokyo hotel said some customers are hesitant to let hotel clerks bring their passports to behind-the-counter clerk rooms to make photocopies.

“We don’t want to keep guests on business trips or group travelers waiting (while photocopies are taken),” said an official at a major U.S.-affiliated hotel chain.

“In addition, we find it difficult to explain why only foreign guests should have (their identity documents) photocopied,” the official said.

Reflecting these concerns, the Japan Ryokan Association, which has a membership of about 1,400 prestigious hotels and ryokan inns, asked the government in 2006 to stop requiring them to photocopy passports.

The NPA insists, however, that the records are needed for prompt cross-checks in case police obtain the identities of suspected terrorists before attacks take place.

“It will also play a crucial role in searching for the whereabouts of terrorists in case they commit an attack,” said an NPA official.

Emiko Iwasa, deputy counselor of the Japan Hotel Association, agrees that hotels should fully cooperate to “demonstrate that the country as a whole is fighting to prevent terrorism from occurring.”

Naofumi Miyasaka, an associate professor of international politics at the National Defense Academy of Japan, said the survey actually shows promising results, implying that an increasing number of hotels are now fully cooperating with the government’s anti-terrorism campaign.

“Hotels in Western countries usually cross-check identities of foreign guests, and if Japan fails to arrest terrorists or criminals on the international wanted list by allowing (hotels to) neglect an identity check, it will seriously damage the country’s credibility in the international community,” he said.(IHT/Asahi: January 5,2008)

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Original Japanese, courtesy of H.O.:

宿の25%が旅券の記録せず 警察庁「テロ対策協力を」
朝日新聞 2008年01月04日15時54分
http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0104/TKY200801040150.html

01年の米国同時多発テロ以降の国際的なテロ情勢を受け、旅館業法施行規則で義務づけられた来日外国人の国籍と旅券番号の記録作業を、全国の主なホテル・旅館の4軒に1軒がやっていないことが警察庁の調査でわかった。罰則はないものの、宿泊現場では、客への配慮から徹底できないとの声がある。規則にはない旅券のコピー保存となると一層抵抗感が強い。半年後に迫った北海道洞爺湖サミットに向け、同庁はあらためて協力を求めている。

同法の本来の目的は感染症対策で、全宿泊者の氏名、住所、職業を宿泊者名簿に記録するように定めている。国際的なテロ対策強化を受け、 05年4月に外国人宿泊者については国籍と旅券番号の記録を義務づけるよう施行規則が改正された。本人確認が旅券でしかできないためで、定住外国人は除外されている。

今回の調査は昨年9月、警察庁の指示で各都道府県警が実施。全国のホテルなど約8万8000施設(06年3月現在)のうち、外国人が泊まる可能性があると判断した約3万3000を対象とした。

その結果、全体の4分の1が旅券番号などを記録していなかった。警察庁は「テロリストに手薄な場所を教えることになる」と都道府県別の結果の公表を拒むが、施設の半数以上が規則を守っていなかった県も複数あったという。

サミット首脳会議の会場となる北海道でも、国籍・旅券番号を記録していなかった施設は約20%あった。ただ、2カ月後の11月の再調査では約10ポイント改善したという。

道警は「一部の小規模業者は外国語を話せないなどの理由でお願いできないようだ」と話す。このため道は12月から、規則の内容を英語、中国語、韓国語、ロシア語で記したビラのひな型を、宿泊施設向けにホームページで公開している。

さらに、規則にはないが、国が通達で求めている旅券のコピーを取っていない施設も全国の3分の1にのぼっていたことも同調査で判明した。

日本ホテル協会の岩佐英美子副参事は「日本全体でテロ防止に取り組んでいるという姿勢を知らしめる効果は大きいはず」と理解を示す。

それでも都内のホテル担当者は「事務所に旅券を持ち込んで、コピーを取られることを嫌がる客がたまにいる」と話す。ある大手米系ホテルの担当者も「ビジネス客や団体客を待たせるのは申し訳ない。外国人だけコピーをとる理由の説明も難しい」と明かす。

そのため、フロントの負担軽減のためなどとして、国際観光旅館連盟が06年にコピーの省略を国に求めたこともある。

警察庁は「記録がなければ、テロリストが潜伏しているとの情報があっても旅券の照合ができないうえ、テロ発生後に追跡調査ができない恐れもある。4月までには全施設に協力をお願いしたい」としている。
ends

Japan Focus: Michael H. Fox translates Justice Minister Hatoyama interview re capital punishment

Hi Blog. I mentioned in my last Japan Times Article (December 18, 2007) the following oddity about our Justice Minister:

As the party cream floats to the top, debates become very closed-circuit, intellectually incestuous–and even oddly anti-gaijin. For example, Justice Minister Kunio “friend of a friend in al-Qaeda” Hatoyama was quoted as saying (Shuukan Asahi Oct 26, 2007 p. 122), “The Japanese place more importance on the value of life… European civilizations of power and war mean their concept of life is weaker than the Japanese. This is why they are moving towards abolishing the death penalty.” Then he approved three execution orders. Earth to Kunio, come in?

The thing is, there’s a lot more screwballity here. Here’s a link to the whole Shuukan Asahi interview I referred to translated by Michael H. Fox. I’ll excerpt Mike’s commentary here, but the interview is a long one, so I’ll let you go directly to the Japan Focus page for it.

Pretty remarkable opinions from a politico who has risen this far. Then again, as I’ve said, Japan’s parliament is a peerage in disguise, so for anyone who comes from a country with an inherited ensconced class, we all know what silly things their “upper-class twits” get up to. Pity they get elected and given this much unvetted political power here. Debito in Monbetsu
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“Why I Support Executions”
An interview with Justice Minister Hatoyama Kunio
Translation and Commentary by Michael H. Fox
http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2609

COMMENTARY:

Hatoyama Kunio, current Justice Minister of Japan, is one of Japan’s most candid politicians. He has a penchant for speaking his mind, and startling the public, his party and even his ministry. In the wide ranging interview below, originally published in the weekly magazine Weekly Asahi (Shukan Asahi) on October 26 [2007], he sounds off on a number of timely and important issues regarding Japan’s justice system, particularly the death penalty, and upcoming changes to the socio-legal structure.

Hatoyama was born into a political dynasty. His father Seiichiro served in the Diet and was a Minister of Foreign Affairs. His grandfather Hatoyama Ichiro was Prime Minister from December 1954 to December 1956. And his great-grandfather Kazuo, served in the Diet and was president of Waseda University. His elder brother Yukio, is a Diet member and a leader of the opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan). According to his website, Hatoyama declared that he would enter politics when he was in the second year of elementary school. His wish started to materialize when he became a secretary to Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei after graduating from Tokyo University’s Department of Law in 1972.

Hatoyama has had a long political career. Elected to the Diet in 1976, he has served as Education Minister and Labor Minister. He left the LDP in 1996, and was elected to the Diet as a Minshuto candidate. Three years later, he abandoned the party and resigned his seat in the Diet. He ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Tokyo in 1999. Soon after, he returned to the LDP and won a seat in the diet in 2000 under the system of proportional representation. He became Minister of Justice under previous Prime Minister Abe Shinzo in August of 2007, and continued in the post in the present cabinet of Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo. At what turned out to be the last press conference for the Abe cabinet, he suggested that “executions should be carried out automatically without involving the Minister of Justice.”

The comment sent shock waves through the country. The last step in the long process of trying, sentencing and finally executing a convicted criminal is the signature of the minister of justice. Once signed, the execution of a death warrant must be carried out within five days. The justice minister’s involvement in the process is so critical that several of Hatoyama’s predecessors refused to carry out executions.

As a result of his reluctance to sign death warrants and a desire to continue executions, Hatoyama was widely criticized. Kamei Shizuka, a former director of the National Police Agency and LDP bigwig, now represents The People’s New Party in the diet. He was progenitor of the non-partisan Parliamentary League for the Abolition of the Death Penalty. Hosaka Nobuto, a member of the Social Democratic Party, is one of the country’s most progressive politicians and an outspoken opponent of the death penalty.

In addition to the death penalty, Hatoyama has voiced opinions on other areas of the criminal justice system, including the upcoming quasi-jury system for major criminal trials scheduled to begin in May 2009. Suspects charged with committing crimes that carry a sentence of three years or more will have the right to a jury composed of three sitting judges and six citizens. While supporting the quasi-jury system, in this interview he attacks the policy of increasing the number of attorneys in Japan’s severely under-lawyered society. Currently, approximately 1,200 people, or roughly two percent of candidates pass the National Bar Exam and begin careers as lawyers, prosecutors, or judges. This number is scheduled to grow to 3,000 in the near future as the first crop of students graduate from newly established law schools.

Also mentioned in the interview is the Toyama Rape Case, a now infamous miscarriage of justice. In 2002, a man was wrongly convicted of rape and attempted rape in Toyama Prefecture and served twenty-five months in prison before being exonerated this year when the real culprit confessed. The conviction was based on a coerced confession and the suppression of exculpatory evidence. This case has galvanized public opinion and stimulated the need for greater transparency in police investigations, especially the filming of interrogations.

Hatoyama suggests that executions should be carried out automatically after an objective examination by a third party who will “review the transcripts.” However, no such system has ever been proposed or even discussed in Japan. The idea of an objective third party seems to be a face-saving measure designed to deflect the storm of criticism that followed Hatoyama’s comments. He also suggests that executions should only be carried out after retrial requests and petitions for amnesty have been exhausted. The Japanese Code of Criminal Procedure does not limit retrial requests — Sakae Menda, the first Japanese man freed from death row – went through six retrials. Likewise, the mention of amnesties is irrelevant: none have been granted since the mid 1970’s.

Other Hatoyama comments are puzzling. He mentions that “some countries do not even have laws banning jeopardy” as if to infer that Japan is superior in this respect. Though Article 39 of the constitution prohibits double jeopardy, the prosecution in Japan may appeal any verdict, and almost always appeals innocent verdicts and sentences considered too light. Likewise, his statement that “in Japan there is a right to silence, but in England, if you keep silent, this means you acknowledge guilt.” In fact the complete opposite is true. Silence in Japan is considered an acknowledgement of guilt.

Hatoyama’s preference for reducing the number of lawyers is reactionary and contrary to his ministry’s policy. The increase occurred after a long process of judicial policy making involving the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Education (which has set up law schools) and Parliament. All agreed that Japan has far too few lawyers, and is ill equipped for dealing with the complexities of International business law.

Hatoyama, like many of his LDP colleagues, has capitalized on the mostly docile electorate. An increase in lawyers, despite the pressing need, will certainly agitate this mind set. His comment about lawyers being unable to find work in contemporary Japan is completely askew from reality. His opinions indicate a deep mistrust of empowering the public and independent legal policy, and strong support for top-down decision making and bureaucratic control.

Just over a month after this interview was originally published, Hatoyama demonstrated his resolve to execute: three convicts, two in Tokyo and one in Osaka, were hung on December 7. Hatoyama’s imprint on the process was clear. In a clear break with previous policy, the ministry openly announced the names of the executed, and the crimes leading to conviction. From 1998, the ministry only announced the number of executions, omitting all other details. Before 1998, there were not even any announcements. In both cases the names of the executed were revealed only to attorneys and designated guarantors of the accused. These parties were charged with directly informing the press, or informing the public indirectly through the offices of Amnesty International.

The dramatic increase in executions –thirteen– over the last 12 months signifies a departure from policy. Double digit hangings in such a span have not occurred since 1975.

The flurry has generated a shock-wave of concern in a society trying to grapple with a rapidly ageing population: three of those executed have been over age 70. Akiyama Yoshimitsu, one of four convicts hung on Christmas Day 2006, became the oldest person executed in post-war Japan. Aged 77 and quite infirm, he was transported to the gallows in a wheel chair. Ikemoto Noboru, executed in Osaka on December 7th, was hung two weeks before his 75th birthday. Originally sentenced to life imprisonment, his sentence was raised to death upon appeal. Had the government allowed the original sentence to stand, Ikemoto would most likely have been paroled in 2006, eighteen years into his sentence.

INTERVIEW:
Go to
http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2609
ENDS

J Times’ Philip Brasor on Sasebo Shooting: “Japan faces up to a world of gun crime”

“I’m worried that Japan may have become just like foreign countries…we have to think of a good way to prevent such occurrences.”
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, commenting on the fatal shooting at a Sasebo sports club. (NHK)
Japan Today Sunday, December 16, 2007

http://www.japantoday.com/jp/quote/2398

Hi Blog. More on the Sasebo Sports Club Shooting last December 14 (where the J media speculated a gaijin dunnit just because the shooter was reputedly tall). Seems that according to Philip Brasor of the Japan Times, the willful “exceptionalism” that Japan practices as part of its national narrative (“Gun crimes are a foreign problem, not something that happens in our peaceful society”–as alluded to by our PM above) has made it quite blind to just how deep gun control problems go here.

Most of the 300,000 (!!) privately owned firearms in Japan are shotguns, and ammunition is this loosely regulated?? And that’s just for starters. Read on.

Excellent investigative journalism, Philip. We should have more of it in the vernacular media, dammit. Arudou Debito in Monbetsu

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MEDIA MIX
Japan faces up to a world of gun crime
By PHILIP BRASOR The Japan Times: Sunday, Dec. 23, 2007
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20071223pb.html”
Courtesy James Eriksson

As is often the case with breaking news stories, the on-site, real-time television coverage of the shooting at the Renaissance Sports Club on the evening of Dec. 14 in Sasebo City, Nagasaki Prefecture, was a flurry of vague incidentals and conflicting accounts.

The basic truth was stark enough to make an impression: A person dressed in camouflage-style clothing entered the club and started firing a gun, injuring several people, two of them seriously, and then fled into the night. Anything more specific was speculation.

But speculation was all that TV had, since the police were barely on the case at the time. The gunman was wearing a motorcycle helmet, or maybe it was a ski mask. He was tall or he was heavyset, or both — one witness described him as “well built.” Some said he entered the building and started blasting away indiscriminately, while others thought he acted purposefully.

When reporters asked how many shots were fired, one person said 30 or 40, another said fewer than 10. Some said the gunman looked “like a foreigner”; one even conjectured he was black.

Some of the witnesses appeared on TV, but most did not, and if anything was clear, it was that none of these testimonials could be called reliable. The information changed from one TV station to another. The foreigner angle was eventually dropped, but not before it was given some credence by TV Asahi’s “Hodo Station,” where that night’s guest commentator, veteran journalist Shuntaro Torigoe, explained it was natural for some people to think the shooter was not Japanese, since Sasebo hosts a major U.S. naval base, and recently there have been so many shooting incidents in America.

However, Torigoe added to this suspicion, perhaps inadvertently, by commenting on the gun that was used, saying that if the shooter had in fact fired off 30 or 40 rounds then he might have been using “a machine gun,” and though he didn’t say so, it’s obvious he was thinking that only military people have access to such weapons in Japan.

What makes this remark strange is not so much the underlying implication that a renegade American sailor had decided to carry out some bloody personal agenda, but that Torigoe knows nothing about guns. The police had already stated that the shooter was armed with a sandanju, a shotgun, and while the U.S. military does use such weapons, the bulk of the 300,000 privately owned firearms in Japan are, in fact, shotguns.

Torigoe wasn’t the only media person who didn’t really understand what a shotgun is and how it works. In the days since, the suspected shooter, a Japanese man who owned three shotguns, apparently killed himself later the same night. Meanwhile the press has been busy educating itself in matters to do with guns. Perhaps because the Japanese word “tama” is used for all ammunition, be it bullets, slugs or shotgun shells, people were understandably confused at what distinguishes a shotgun from other guns. On Sunday night, NHK spread this confusion to some of its foreign viewers when its English-language news broadcast said that the shooter had in his possession “2,700 bullets,” instead of the more accurate “2,700 shells.”

As an American who has never fired a gun much less owned one (which disqualifies me for citizenship in the eyes of many of my countrymen), I have nevertheless absorbed the lore and science of firearms by forced osmosis, and I found the media’s general ignorance of the subject surprising. No American newspaper would have ever had to print a tutorial on shotguns and shells as the Asahi Shimbun did on its front page last Monday. Had the reporters on the scene in Sasebo known anything about the mechanics of a sandanju, they would have realized that the shooter couldn’t have fired off 30 to 40 rounds in rapid succession.

There are people who will no doubt find comfort in the media’s implied ignorance, since it would seem to represent a popular sensibility that isn’t interested in guns. But disinterest can also be a sign of apathy, and another aspect of guns that the media has had to learn about since the Sasebo shooting is the legal side of firearm ownership in Japan.

The general impression one gets living in Japan is that only the police, soldiers and yakuza have guns. Of course, there are some hunters and sportsmen who own rifles, but they are a small group and the law regulates such ownership very strictly. Consequently, everyone wants to know how the suspected Sasebo killer was able to buy three shotguns and enough ammunition to blow away an entire neighborhood.

Apparently, it was easy. The laws may be strict, but their application and enforcement are not. A license must be obtained for each gun and renewed periodically, but these seem to be mere formalities. Various news reports cited instances of local police doing background checks on gun owners following complaints from neighbors, but such checks are pointless, since they are carried out after the licenses have been granted.

The only uses allowed for firearms are hunting and sports, but the authorities don’t check to see if the applicant really is hunting or skeet shooting — the alleged Sasebo shooter did neither. And while ammunition is also strictly regulated, it is more or less self-regulation. The suspected Sasebo shooter bought 1,000 shells at one time, though it’s against the law to possess more than 800. However, it isn’t against the law to sell that many at one time, and the owner of the store who sold the alleged shooter those 1,000 shells told reporters that he informed the man he would have to use 200 that day, otherwise he’s be breaking the law.

This is a common bureaucratic pattern in Japan: Regulations are treated more as road maps than as rules subject to active enforcement. Japan is still a very safe country when it comes to guns, a reality that has less to do with laws than with prevailing attitudes, which is why the Sasebo shooting received such breathless, blanket domestic coverage. Overseas, it barely merited mention.

The Japan Times: Sunday, Dec. 23, 2007
ENDS

読売:活動家入国阻止、洞爺湖サミットにフーリガン条項適用へ

活動家入国阻止、洞爺湖サミットにフーリガン条項適用へ
(2007年12月30日13時31分 読売新聞)
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20071230i104.htm

 来年7月の北海道洞爺湖サミット(主要国首脳会議)の警備強化に備え、法務省は、「反グローバリズム活動家」の入国を阻止するため、出入国管理・難民認定法(入管法)の「フーリガン条項」を適用する準備に着手した。

 活動家への適用は初めてで、関係省庁が判断基準などを検討し、各国政府の情報を収集している。

 「フーリガン条項」は、2002年のサッカー・ワールドカップ(W杯)日韓大会で、フーリガンの日本への入国を阻止する目的で、入管法を01年に改正して加えられ、02年に施行された。

 条項は、「過去に国際的規模の競技会や会議の円滑な実施を妨げるため、殺傷・暴行・脅迫・建造物破壊を行い、日本や他国で刑に処せられたり、退去させられたりした外国人が再び同様の行為をする恐れがある場合、上陸を拒否できる」との内容。

 同条項に基づき、02年のW杯ではフーリガン19人の入国を拒否した。しかし、これ以外の適用例はない。

 経済のグローバル化が貧富の差を拡大し、環境破壊をもたらすと主張する反グローバリズム運動には、労働組合や環境保護団体などがかかわることが多い。最近のサミットでも一部の活動家が過激なデモ活動を繰り広げ、特に、今年6月のドイツでのハイリゲンダム・サミットでは8万人規模のデモが発生。参加者の一部が暴徒化し、約1100人が身柄を拘束された。

 入管法ではもともと、入国審査官が「入国目的が申請したものと異なる」と判断した場合、入国を拒否できるが、虚偽申請を見抜くのは容易ではない。また、活動家には、過去に刑を受けたり、退去させられたりした経歴を持つ“常習者”が多いため、法務省は、同条項が有効だと判断した。

 法務省はすでに、警察庁や外務省と連携し、活動家情報などの収集に入った。

(2007年12月30日13時31分 読売新聞)

Yomiuri: GOJ shutting out ‘hooligans’ (i.e. antiglobalization activists) from Hokkaido G-8 summit

Hi Blog. Today’s moral: All it takes is a new vague law to be passed, and the government will find ways to tweak it to filter out things at its own convenience.

Witness what’s going on in the Yomiuri article below with the “new immigration laws” (i.e. fingerprinting and photographing at the border for NJ only). First it was justified on the grounds of preventing terrorism in the Post-9/11 World. Then with the SARS Pneumonia outbreak in 2003 (seen as an illness only foreigners carry, which is why some hotels began banning foreign guests), suddenly it was also justifiable as a way to prevent infectious diseases. Then just as it was coming online it became an “anti-foreign crime” measure. Then right afterwards it became (with the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen) a means to forcibly incarcerate anyone who doesn’t cooperate with immigration discretion for whatever reason.

And as of a few days ago, it’s going to be instrumental in keeping out “antiglobalization activists” (whatever that means)… It’s become an “anti-hooligan” measure. As though G-8 Summits are football matches.

It makes no sense until you look at it in terms of politics, not logic. The National Police Agency sold the J public on “anti-hooliganism” specifically before in 2002, during the World Cup. It was a very effective scare campaign and made life pretty miserable for a lot of NJ residents (especially in Sapporo). Pity no hooligans showed up. But say “Open Sesame” with any hint of foreign danger, and police budgets get soaked with more public cash. People get stupid when motivated by fear. The NPA knows that, and now that next year’s budgets are being debated, its the perfect time to make house calls on the Finance Ministry. It’s a virtuous circle as long as you’re not a foreigner or a taxpayer.

As a friend pointed out, the hard-core American and European protestors wouldn’t really bother coming to Japan. It’s too far and too expensive, and too alien in language and cultural values for them to find much in the way of support from local Japanese before they come or after they arrive. And even fewer of them really care what Japan says or does in G-8. The sense is that, like a growing number of people elsewhere, they see Japan as a fading regional power that the world is listening to less and less. And if anything, this is probably more a way to please ascendant China in its Olympic Year–keep out Falun Gong and Free Tibet types in this very carefully-controlled media event.

Why does Japan even bother to hold any international events if they’re just going to put the J public through another fear campaign? I shudder to think what would happen if Tokyo actually does succeed in its bid to get another Olympics…

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Govt to keep ‘hooligans’ away from G-8 summit
The Yomiuri Shimbun Dec. 31, 2007
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20071231TDY01301.htm
Courtesy of Jeff Korpa

The Justice Ministry has begun preparations to put into force a hooligan provision of the immigration law to prevent antiglobalization activists from entering the country to protest the Group of Eight summit meeting to be held in Hokkaido in July.

Relevant ministries and agencies will discuss criteria for defining antiglobalization activists, to whom the provision will be applied for the first time, and seek additional information from other countries.

The hooligan provision was added when the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law was revised in 2001 and enforced in 2002 to keep hooligans out of the country for the 2002 World Cup soccer finals.

The provision states immigration authorities can refuse entry to people who have injured, assaulted, threatened or killed people or damaged buildings to disrupt international sports events or meetings.

It also disallows entry to people who have been imprisoned in Japan or other countries or have been deported before if immigration officials believe they might be involved in similar actions again.

Under the provision, 19 hooligans were prohibited from entering the country in 2002. The provision has not been applied in other cases.

Unions and environmental protection groups have often been involved in protests against economic globalization, which activists assert has widened the gaps between rich and poor and harmed the environment.

(Dec. 31, 2007)
ENDS

Patricia Aliperti & Catherine Makino on NJ Sexual Slavery/Human Trafficking in Japan

Hi Blog. Here is a situation covered only infrequently by the media and by the likes of Debito.org (mainly because there is so little public information out there, and it’s a topic I’m not at liberty to research myself)–how sex trafficking, particularly that involving non-Japanese, is a flourishing business. And how Japan is one of the world’s major trading posts for it.

I’ve dealt with issues of slavery before (to this day, it exists in just about every country on the planet), but Japan’s has always had a wink-wink attitude towards the water trades–even by Prime Ministers regarding Japan’s historical connections–and especially when it comes to its particularly nasty variant involving foreigners. NJ “entertainers” (there was even an official visa category for it) are in a much weaker position linguistically (language barrier), economically (in more desperate straits) and legally (NJ have visas, meaning bosses can use denial of visa status as a further means for forcing compliance). This means it took gaiatsu (i.e. an unfavorable report from the US State Department) before the GOJ actually did anything meaningful about it.

Older article from Catherine Makino follows. And if you hope or think the situation has improved, check out this incredible Powerpoint presentation by Ms. Patricia Aliperti, Rotary World Peace Fellow at the International Christian University in Tokyo, which she gave me after a speech I attended at the Peace as a Global Language Conference in Kyoto last October 27:

http://www.debito.org/HumanTraffickingShortPresentation.ppt

Breathtaking in its breadth and depth, it will open your eyes to the issue. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Japan Installs Caution Signal for Sex Traffic
Run Date: 07/18/05
By Catherine Makino WeNews correspondent
http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/2378/context/archive
Courtesy of Aly Rustom

Japan has revised its criminal law to stipulate human trafficking as a crime and punish those involved. Activists, however, remain alarmed by foreign-staffed sex parlors that have made the country a haven for traffickers.

TOKYO (WOMENSENEWS)–There are about 10,000 parlors in Japan that offer sex to patrons.

Many advertise that they have foreign women by using such names as Filipina Pub, Russian Bar or Thai Delight. The patrons pay $60 to $100 for drinks and then an additional $150 to $300 to take women out of the bar to have sex with them.

Most of these women come to Japan on falsified passports or with entertainer or short-term visas, says Hidenori Sakanaka, who until a year ago was the director of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau. They are told that they have to pay off fake debts and their passports often are taken away upon arrival in Japan. The women are beaten and controlled by threats to family members in their home countries.

“Most women are moved from place to place and are too scared to complain,” Sakanaka says.

Sakanaka, who now directs the Japan Aid Association for North Korean Returnees, is credited with pushing through revisions to the law to combat trafficking while in his former post. Passed by the National Diet last month, it has helped abate international concerns about a country that has long been criticized for a too-tolerant an approach to trafficking.

On Saturday, the National Police Agency said police had uncovered 29 cases of human trafficking of foreign women from January to the end of June, up by five from the same period last year.

Despite these and other promising moves by Japan–brought about in part by the activism of Japanese women’s groups–international and local advocates continue to worry about the country’s problem with human trafficking, the world’s third-largest underworld business after trade in drugs and arms, netting $9.5 billion annually.

In a recent report the Japan Network against Trafficking in Persons said that the government’s heightened anti-trafficking efforts had so far not “made a dent.”

Fact-Finding Mission Last Week

Last week, Sigma Huda, the special rapporteur on trafficking for the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, came here on an unofficial fact-finding mission with activists, lawyers, lawmakers, academics and others concerned about human trafficking. The visit followed widespread reports–including by Amnesty International Japan–of South Asian women from developing nations being trafficked in this highly developed country.

“It’s the dark side of globalization,” says Huda, who is based in Bangladesh.

Reports indicate that about 130,000 women come to Japan on entertainer visas every year, but only about 10 percent of them actually perform in legitimate shows at hotels and other venues. Many obtain entertainment visas through agents who recruit them to Japan with promises of jobs that don’t exist.

Sakanaka traces the problem to immigration officials who bend to politicians and businessmen who hire foreign women for illicit purposes. “Some men even said I was out of my mind to try to do something about human trafficking,” he says. “They claimed it was part of Japanese culture to have sex with foreign women. They were addicted to the parlors. I received phone calls from politicians and anonymous threats on my life.”

Japan Kept Off Worst-Trafficker List

Earlier this month, the U.S. State department removed Japan from a special watch list of countries that were to be included on an updated listed as the worst condoners of human trafficking after the Japanese government compiled an action program to combat human traffickers. The State Department had put Japan on that list a year ago.

Under the new Japanese legislation, those who “purchase” people in order to control their activities will face punishment of up to five years in prison. The maximum punishment could be increased to seven years imprisonment if the victim is a minor.

The new legislation will also grant victims, on a case-by-case basis, special residency status even if they have overstayed their original visa, so that they can be rehabilitated.

Before these revisions, police dealt with trafficking by arresting the victims as illegal aliens, jailing them and deporting them as soon as they had enough money to fly home. Traffickers received a fine or a short jail sentence.

One of the most notorious traffickers, Koichi Hagiwara, known as Sony for his habit of videotaping his victims while he humiliated and tortured them, was sentenced in March 2003 and served less than two years in prison for violating labor laws.

Japanese Women Enraged

Japanese women have also pressured the government to do something about human trafficking.

“Many women were enraged by an article in the Asahi Shimbun, a major daily newspaper in Japan, about the practice,” says Sakanaka, the former director of the Immigration Bureau, referring to an investigative article published Oct. 18, 2003. “Until this article came out, Japanese women knew little about the situation. Women’s groups mobilized, and called up magazines and newspapers to protest the treatment of the women victims.”

The government, Sakanaka says, has neglected to investigate many of the abuse cases. These women, he says, live horrific, lonely lives, forced into having unprotected sex and perform other risky acts with dozens of customers a day. “These new laws are valuable. But they also need to strike at the center of organized crime.”

Sakanaka is concerned that most foreign women will be too scared to go to the police because they think they will be killed if they try to escape.

Chieko Tatsumi, an official in the International Organized Crime Division of Japan’s Foreign Ministry, disagrees. She believes the victims would seek protection from the police.

“There has already been an increase in the number of women asking for protection,” Tatsumi says. “In 2002, there were only two Thais who sought help, but in 2004 there were 25.”

She says that the government set a budget of $100,000 in April for helping women who come to a public shelter.

“The government will pay for rehabilitation for the victims of sexual enslavement and tickets for them to return to their home countries,” Tatsumi says. Not enough, says Sono[ko] Kawakami, campaign manager for Victims of Violence of Japan Amnesty International. The government’s measures fail to sufficiently protect victims and the amount of money budgeted to stop trafficking is insufficient, she says.

Her organization wants separate facilities for trafficking victims, rather than housing them with victims of domestic violence. Many victims are so traumatized that they won’t talk to anyone, so they require specialists to handle them, Kawakami says. Since many do not speak Japanese she also wants language translation support for the victims and specialists in human trafficking to assist them.

Although she believes the government can do more, she says the revisions to the criminal law affecting trafficking are a good start.
Keiko Otsu, director of Asian Women’s Shelter in Tokyo, is also pleased with the new laws, but says there are currently only two shelters available for these women.

“The women don’t have any income, assistance or support,” she says. “Some may be pregnant and many have mental and other health problems, including AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases and need expensive medial care.”

Catherine Makino is a freelance writer in Tokyo. She has written for San Francisco Chronicle, the Japan Times, The Asian Wall Street Journal and the China Morning Post.

For more information:

Japan Network Against Trafficking in Persons:
http://jnatip.blogspot.com
International Organization for Migration:
http://www.iom.int/
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Gyaku on upcoming GOJ regulations of the Internet: Online content, keitai, and file sharing

Happy New Year, everyone. Let’s kick off the new year with a post on our future as bloggers here: Internet info site Gyaku on Japan’s future regulation of the Internet.

My minor comment at this point is that I have mixed feelings about regulation–in that I know from personal experience there is no mechanism in place for regulating libel. I won a case in court exactly two years ago against the world’s largest BBS system, 2-Channel, for libel and defamation (where an anonymous poster said things I never said about the Iraq War etc.–see information site here). 2-Channel not only refused to either delete the comments or reveal the IP of the anonymous poster(s), but also administrators refused to answer any correspondence, appear in court, or pay court-ordered damages. Despite the same thing happening to dozens of other plaintiffs, all resulting in defeat for 2-Channel, there have been no arrests, and no progress whatsoever; you can still Google the libelous comments against me today and get more than 800 hits. Clearly something has to be done about this.

There are, of course, two issues which call for reform. One is a business registry issue–where there is no way to seize the assets of anonymous Internet “media sources” (the normal way of regulating the media when they say things that are untrue and damaging). The other is a Japanese judiciary issue–there is no Contempt of Court in Japan (which would change a Civil Suit into a Criminal Suit and cause 2-Channel administrators to be arrestable). But once you get the ball rolling on this issue, you never know what’s going to happen, when the actions of the GOJ are done in such secrecy and (ironically) with insufficient media scrutiny. And moderate reforms have a habit of becoming major–as the letter of the law is often left vague, and once enacted the GOJ appends “bureaucratic directives” to give enforcers more powers after the fact. 2-Channel, you’ve brought things like this upon all of us. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Regulating the Japanese cyberspace, one step at a time
Thursday, December 27, 2007
by shioyama
http://gyaku.jp/en/index.php?cmd=contentview&pid=000320
Courtesy DJD and JBB

With little fanfare from local or foreign media, the Japanese government made major moves this month toward legislating extensive regulation over online communication and information exchange within its national borders. In a series of little-publicized meetings attracting minimal mainstream coverage, two distinct government ministries, that of Internal Affairs and Communications (Somusho) and that of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Monbukagakusho), pushed ahead with regulation in three major areas of online communication: web content, mobile phone access, and file sharing.

On December 6th, in a final report compiled by a study group under the Somusho following up on an interim report drafted earlier this year, the government set down plans to regulate online content through unification of existing laws such as the Broadcast Law and the Telecommunications Business Law [1,2]. The planned regulation targets all web content, including online variants of traditional media such as newspaper articles and television broadcasting, while additionally going as far as to cover user-generated content such as blogs and webpages under the vaguely-defined category of “open communication” [3,4,5,6].

Only days following the release of the Dec. 6 report, again through the Somusho, the government on Dec. 10th requested that mobile phone companies NTT Docomo, KDDI, Softbank and Willcom commence strictly filtering web content to mobile phones for users under the age of 18 [7,8,9,10]. The move to filter content in this area comes at a time when the Japanese market has become saturated with mobile phones, a growing proportion of which are held by high-school and even grade-school students. The proposed policy, in part responding to fears and anxieties expressed by parents about online dating sites, is broad in scope and reportedly covers all websites with forum, chat, and social networking functionality.

Regulation of a third area of online communication, that of online file sharing, was meanwhile advanced through the Private Music and Video Recording Subcommittee of Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs (under the Mobukagakusho) in a meeting held on December 18th. Authorities and organizations pushed in this case for a ban on the download of copyrighted content for personal use, a category of file transfer previously permitted under Article 30 of Japan’s Copyright Law [11,12,13,14].

The final report on Internet regulation released on December 6th, and the meetings about mobile phone regulation and copyright policy held on December 10th and 18th, collectively touch on nearly every aspect of modern network communication in Japan and together indicate a significant shift in government policy vis-a-vis the Japanese cyberspace. While granted little attention in mainstream media, a series of Japanese-language articles, government reports, and blog entries on the topic together sketch basic details of the proposed regulations. The main points of these documents are summarized below, with references to resources offering more in-depth discussion included at the end of the article.

Step 1: Web content

Plans for regulation of web content are summarized in two primary documents drawn up by the “Study group on the legal system for communications and broadcasting” under the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (Somusho) and headed by Professor Emeritus at Hitotsubashi University Horibe Masao. The first document is an interim report released on June 19th, setting down basic guidelines for regulating web content through application of the existing Broadcast Law to the sphere of the Internet [1,4]. Incorporating the views of a reported 276 comments from 222 individuals and 56 organizations collected shortly after publication of the interim report, the final report, made public on December 6th, sets down steps to move ahead and submit a bill on the proposed regulations to the regular diet session in 2010 [2,5,6].

One of the key points of both reports is their emphasis on the blurring line between “information transmission” and “broadcasting”, a distinction that becomes less and less meaningful as content-transfer shifts from the realm of traditional media to that of ubiquitous digital communication (so-called “all over IP”). The reports deal with this difficult problem in part through the creation of a new category, that of “open communication”, broadly described as covering “communication content having openness [kouzensei/公然性] such as homepages and so on” [3].

The term “open communication” may itself be vaguely defined, but implications of the new category are in fact very real. While previously largely excluded from government regulation thanks to the limited scope of existing broadcast legislation, all online content, with the exception only of private messages used only between specific persons (i.e. email, etc.), will henceforth be targeted under the proposed policy. Notably included in this category are hugely popular bulletin board systems such as 2channel as well as personal blogs and webpages.

Online content judged to be “harmful” according to standards set down by an independent body (specifics of which are unclear) will be subject to law-enforced removal and/or correction. While the interim report did not specify whether penal regulations would be enforced against policy violations, the final report, in response to concerns voiced in public comments over the summer, moved toward excluding such regulations for the time being at least. Nonetheless, the final report also notes that, if there is a need for it, the “adequacy of punishment should also be investigated” (page 22 of the final report) [5]. It thus remains an open question as to whether, if eventually enacted, penal regulations will be applied and, if so, what form they will take.

Step 2: Mobile phone access

As the number of elementary and high-school students with mobile phones in Japan has ballooned to over 7.5 million, the push for protecting young users from potentially dangerous content, such as online dating services and so-called “mobile filth”, has gained momentum in recent years within Japan. The government responded to such concerns on December 10th by demanding that mobile carriers NTT Docomo, KDDI, Softbank, and Willcom implement filtering on all mobile phones issued to users under the age of 18. While optional filtering currently exists and can be implemented at the request of the mobile phone owner, few users make use of or even know of this service. The proposed regulation would heavily strengthen earlier policy by making filtering on mobile phones the default setting for minors; only in the case of an explicit request by the user’s parent or guardian could such filtering be turned off by the carrier [7,8,9].

According to the new policy proposal, sites would be categorized on two lists, a “blacklist” of sites that would be blocked from mobile access by minors and a “whitelist” of sites that would not. The categorization of sites into each list will reportedly be carried out together with carriers through investigations involving each company targeted. The Telecommunications Carriers Association (TCA) of Japan is indicating that the new policy will be enforced with respect to new users by the end of 2007 and applied to existing users by the summer of 2008 [8].

While it is not yet entirely clear what content will be covered by the new policy, a look at existing filtering services promoted by NTT Docomo reveals the definition of “harmful” content to be very broad indeed. As noted by a number of Japanese bloggers, notably social activist Sakiyama Nobuo, current optional filtering services offered on NTT Docomo phones include categories as sweeping as “lifestyles” (gay, lesbian, etc.), “religion”, and “political activity/party”, as well as a category termed “communication” covering web forums, chat rooms, bulletin boards, and social networking services. The breadth of this last category in particular threatens to bankrupt youth-oriented services such as “Mobage”, a social networking and gaming site for mobile phones, half of whose users are under the age of 18.

Step 3: File sharing

While the cases of Internet regulation and mobile phone filtering primarily revolve on concerns over content, the third government policy proposal advanced this month in the domain of online communication targets the area of content transfer. On December 18th, the Private Music and Video Recording Subcommittee of Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, an advisory body under the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (Monbukagakusho), held a meeting to re-examine Article 30 of Japan’s Copyright Law. With respect to online file transfer, the existing law currently bans uploading of copyrighted material onto public websites, while permitting copies for personal use only [12,13,14].

At the December 18th meeting, Kawase Makoto, general manager of the agency’s Copyrighted Work Circulation Promotion Department, remarked that revising article 30 was “inevitable” [11]. Kawase’s comment came less than a month after the same agency received more than 7500 public comments on the topic of the plans, the majority of which reportedly opposed any change to the current Copyright Law [15,16,17]. Haeno Hidetoshi , senior director of the Recording Industry Association of Japan, meanwhile described the state of the recording industry as “spine-chilling”, arguing that if illegal file sharing was not stopped the business would hit a dead end [12].

IT and music journalist Tsuda Daisuke on the other hand argued that he did not see any need for legal revision, observing that if users uploading copyrighted files are controlled, then there should be no need to outlaw illegal downloads or file sharing. In an earlier Nov. 28th meeting, addressing the divide in opions among public comments about the regulation, Tsuda noted that results evidenced a “deep gap” between the views of copyright holders and those of consumers. He further warned that to ignore the views of those opposing revision, and to not attempt to understand their arguments, would be to invite further deepening of this gap [16,17].

One of the key issues raised by opponents of the proposed revisions regards the murky definition of “download” itself. Critics argue that a user cannot determine whether a file is illegal before they actually download it, and even once the file is downloaded, such identification remains difficult. Moreover, it is difficult for users to judge whether, at the time of downloading a file, the site from which the file was downloaded was itself illegal or not. While proponents of the legal revision have argued in favour of a “mark” to identify approved sites, this approach brings with it many new problems; most critically, it would mean that every site not bearing the approved mark would be considered “illegal”, a blanket policy many consider extreme [17].

The murkiness of the definition of “illegal” file sharing also manifests itself in the difficulties legislators will potentially face in distinguishing between “downloading” and “streaming”, difficulties which some argue may ultimately lead to the regulation of sites such as YouTube and Nico Nico Douga. As there is no fundamental difference between downloaded content and streamed content, given that in both cases content is copied locally before viewing, commenters expressed anxiety about how judges with no specialized knowledge will handle this murky middle ground.

The future of “open”

The various problems evident in the regulation policies described above are compacted by the fact that there is a lack of coordination between branches of government, the first two proposals being handled by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications while the last is being handled by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Without a coordinated approach to regulation, legal conflicts inherent in the switch to “all over IP” are guaranteed to arise.

Even with such a coordinated approach, however, policy remains ill-defined and extremely vague. The future of online communication within Japan hinges on attracting attention to these issues and on drawing as wide a range of voices into the debate as possible. While current activism by groups within Japan such as the recently formed Movements for Internet Active Users (MIAU) have made important first steps in this direction, international attention is needed to coordinate support and confront the many pressing issues facing open communication in the Japanese cyberspace.

References

1. “Interim report of the Study group on the legal system for communications and broadcasting” (通信・放送の総合的な法体系に関する研究会 中間取りまとめ), June 19, 2007. link.
2. “Final report of the Study group on the legal system for communications and broadcasting” (通信・放送の総合的な法体系に関する研究会 報告書), December 6, 2007. link.
3. “Blogs and 2channel also subject to Telecommunications Law (tentative title)” (ブログ、2chも対象にする「情報通信法」(仮)とは), atmarkIT, June 20, 2007. link
4. “Internet regulation up for debate, but nobody is debating,” Global Voices Online, June 12, 2007. link
5. “Final Report on Internet Regulation,” Global Voices Online, December 16, 2007. link
6. “Japan to take steps to regulate the Internet,” Mainichi shimbun, December 6, 2007. link
7. “Request to mobile phone carriers regarding the introduction of services for restricting access to harmful sites from mobile phones and personal headsets used by young people” (filtering service) (青少年が使用する携帯電話・PHSにおける有害サイトアクセス制限サービス(フィルタリングサービス)の導入促進に関する携帯電話事業者等への要請), Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, December 10, 2007. link
8. “Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications to make use of filtering function on mobile phones and personal headsets in general mandatory for youth” (総務省、青少年の携帯・PHS利用でフィルタリング機能を原則義務化), December 10th, 2007. link
9. “Protect kids from crime: Mobile phone filtering, strengthening countermeasures for children” (子どもを犯罪から守れ – 携帯サイトのフィルタリング、子ども向け対策強化), MyCom Journal, December 12, 2007. link
10. “New cell phone rules eyed to protect kids,” Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 25, 2007. link
11. “Head of the Copyrighted Work Circulation Promotion Department of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology indicates view that outlawing of illegal downloads is ‘unavoidable'” (ダウンロード違法化は「やむを得ない」、文化庁著作権課が見解示す), Internet Watch, December 18, 2007. link
12. Takeyoshi Yamada, “Final Blow to File Sharing? Japan’s Gov’t to Revise Copyright Law,” TechOn, December 19, 2007. link
13. “Economics of the ‘Illegal’ Download,” Global Voices Online, December 23, 2007. link
14. “Japanese Panel Pushes Ban on Illegal Downloads Forward,” Anime News Network, December 20, 2007. link
15. “The why of the ‘outlawing of downloads’ despite a great number of opposing views” (反対意見多数でも「ダウンロード違法化」のなぜ), IT Media, December 18, 2007. link
16. “7500 comments collected regarding illegal download legislation, Private Music and Video Recording Subcommittee” (ダウンロード違法化などに7,500件の意見集まる、私的録音録画小委員会), November 28, 2007. link
17. “Opposing views against ‘outlawing illegal downloads’, but … the gap between ‘copyright holders’ and ‘users'” (「ダウンロード違法化」に反対意見集まるが…… 埋まらぬ「権利者」vs.「ユーザー」の溝), IT Media, November 28, 2007. link

Article title translations by gyaku.
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