Kyodo says foreign crime down in 2007, yet NPA stresses need for further crackdown (UPDATED)

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Hi Blog. Quick article with comment following:

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No. of crimes committed by visiting foreigners down
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8V30PFO0&show_article=1

Courtesy of COJ

TOKYO, Feb. 28 (AP) – (Kyodo)—The number of crimes committed by foreigners visiting Japan dropped for the second straight year to 35,800 last year, down 10.8 percent from the previous year, after hitting a peak in 2005, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

However, the number of crimes detected by police during the five-year period from 2003 to 2007 increased some 70 percent from the period of with an NPA official stressing the need for further crackdown on them.

Of the 35,800 cases, 25,753 cases were violations of the criminal code, down 6.2 percent from the previous year, while 10,047 cases were violations of special law, such as immigrant control and refugee recognition act, down 20.7 percent, according to the NPA.

The number of foreign criminals arrested, excluding permanent residents in Japan, in the reporting year fell 15.6 percent to 15,923, of whom Chinese constituted 5,346, South Koreans 2,037, Filipinos 1,807, Brazilians 1,255 and Vietnamese 806.

For nine criminals, Tokyo asked their home countries to punish them as they fled from Japan after committing crimes, bringing the number of such criminals to 48 since 1999.
ENDS
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COMMENT: Pretty lousy social science. Not sure what “foreigners visiting Japan” refers to. Tourists? As opposed to “foreigners living in Japan”? Rainichi gaikokujin I assume is the original Japanese (that’s the word frequently used in this context by the NPA). That means residents.

And what an odd sentence to make it through the editing process:

“However, the number of crimes detected by police during the five-year period from 2003 to 2007 increased some 70 percent from the period of with an NPA official stressing the need for further crackdown on them.”

From the period of what? From the period of the NPA official stressing the need for a further crackdown between 2003-7? No, that doesn’t make sense. It makes more sense that there’s an NPA official commenting for this article, meaning once again the NPA stresses a need for further crackdown. That’s illogical given this news.

Which means the press is once again merely parroting without analysis. And we really need some better translators at Kyodo.

The point is: the NPA will say anything, even make bad news out of good, to keep budgetary monies flowing in… Debito in Okinawa

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EVENING UPDATE

Here’s the original Japanese (and yes, it’s rainichi gaikokujin, and it does not include Permanent Residents. That still doesn’t mean “visitors”–there are hundreds of thousands of people who live here without PR as residents, not tourists.)

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社会
外国人犯罪、2年連続で減 警察庁「高止まりの状態」
http://www.sanyo.oni.co.jp/newsk/2008/02/28/20080228010001941.html

 昨年1年間に全国の警察が摘発した来日外国人(永住者らを除く)による犯罪は前年比10・8%減の3万5800件と、過去最多だった2005年から2年連続で減少したことが28日、警察庁のまとめで分かった。

 一方で、摘発件数を5年ごとに見た場合、03-07年は、1993-97年に比べ約7割増えており、警察庁は「多少の増減はあるものの、近年は『高止まり』の状態。今後も取り締まり強化など一層の取り組みが必要」としている。

(Literally: “On the other hand, when looking at the number of cases committed within five year periods, comparing the number of crimes committed between 2003-2007 and 1993-1997, there has been been a 70% rise. The NPA says, “Although there have been some rises and falls, in recent years it’s ‘been stopped at a high point’. From now on it’ll be necessary to for us to strengthen our crackdown even more.”)

 まとめによると、07年に摘発された3万5800件のうち、刑法犯は前年比6・2%減の2万5753件、入管難民法違反など特別法による摘発は同20・7%減の1万47件だった。

 摘発人数は、前年比15・6%減の1万5923人。国籍別では、中国が最も多く5346人、次いで韓国2037人、フィリピン1807人、ブラジル1255人、ベトナム806人の順だった。

(2月28日10時19分)山陽新聞
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FURTHER COMMENT: So how many more years are we going to back up and say crime has increased? Why not go back to a time when there were a lot fewer NJ and look at crime stats back then? Calculating this way will always give you a higher number. Then you get perpetual justification for cracking down in the face of falling crime.

Under this method, when can the police say, “We’ve done enough, we don’t have crack down any more on foreign crime”? Answer: Never. Because even if foreign crime fell to zero, they could still say that their past crackdowns have brought that about and we’ll have to continue cracking down.

This is no longer anything even approaching a scientific method. Or even a logical method. It’s clearly just a political method.  And the Japanese press swallows it whole.  Debito in Okinawa

Terrie’s Take on GOJ crackdown on dual nationality

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Hi Blog. Although Terrie’s Take this week (yet another excellent essay) concentrates more on J citizens abroad taking NJ citizenships, there is also good mention and argument about J children in international marriages and the pressures upon them to conform to single nationality. As Terrie rightfully points out, this is ludicrous in a country which needs citizens; it shouldn’t be taking this degree of trouble just to put people off possibly maintaining a J passport just in the name of some odd nationality purity.

And dual nationality in itself would resolve many problems… I personally know several long-term NJ (and even some Zainichi) who would be happy to become Japanese citizens if it didn’t mean the sacrifice of one’s identity to having to choose. If you are a product of two cultures, why not have the legal status to back that up? Not half, but double. That’s what I would call the real Yokoso Japan. Debito in Sapporo

* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E ‘S T A K E * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd. (http://www.terrie.com)
General Edition Sunday, February 24, 2008 Issue No. 458

With all the recent goings on for foreigners over immigration entry requirements, it is easy to think that the Japanese Justice Ministry especially has it in for non-Japanese. But that isn’t true. They are just as tough on their own citizens who want to be dual nationals.

After publishing Terrie’s Take 456 about our opinions on why the immigration authorities are tightening up, we received some interesting email from Japanese readers wondering why immigration is picking on them as dual nationals, as well.

Most readers will know that Japan allows only one nationality. However, for the longest time, so long as a person was registered as a Japanese citizen first, whether or not you had gained a second nationality was politely ignored by the authorities. You just had to make sure that you didn’t make it too obvious that you held a separate nationality.

But now it appears that things are changing and the Justice Ministry seems to be conducting checks on Japanese citizens living overseas to make sure that they do not have dual nationality. For a sense of the situation, here is an extract from one reader’s letter:

“…I recently decided, after many years as a green card holder, to apply for US citizenship. This was partly triggered by the increasing tension of the US immigration process, which has understandably changed in attitude since 9/11. The tipping point for me was when a lawyer in Japan advised me that although dual citizenships are technically forbidden in Japan, it is a law that is not enforced.

Before I could complete my application process, however, I was told by another person that things in fact had changed. I confirmed this with the authorities. It seems that if you are Japanese and you renew your Japanese passport at your local US consulate, when you go to pick it up you are asked to show your green card or other residency documentation which allows you to be in the US. If you cannot produce this documentation, and you wouldn’t be able to if you held a US passport, they won’t hand over your new Japanese passport. Apparently this is how they are now catching dual citizens living abroad.

To avoid this, I could renew my passport in Tokyo, but if I do, I have to show them my juminhyo [Ed: personal register of your residency matters]. That means I have to re-establish residency and live back in Japan for a few months — which of course is difficult to do when one has a career to fulfill.

With all the dual Japanese nationals living abroad, it seems to be bad policy to make people have to sneak around the dual nationality issue. Japan needs to maintain and grow its population, not shrink it. And chances are that many of those people living abroad are either decent wage earners contributing tax back to Japan, retirees who take their health care costs with them, or simply good emissaries for Japanese culture…”

Our thanks to the reader submitting this succinct summation of the dual nationality problem. Two issues come to mind: 1) not only people resident overseas, there is an increasing problem with dual nationals back here in Japan, as the children of 37,000 (approx.) international marriages a year start to come of age, and 2) might it be that Japan’s cooperation on fingerprinting databases with the USA and elsewhere will lead to an increased enforcement of the policy as well?

1. As a study by Sean Curtin, a former professor at the International University of Japan in Niigata found, the average number of children had by couples of an international marriage in Japan is 2.9, more than 3 times the average number of kids had by a Japanese-only couple living in Tokyo (national average is higher at 1.23). Further, of the 700,000 or so marriages a year, the 37,000 international ones comprise about 5%-6% of the total. By inference, then, it is likely that somewhere between 50,000 to 180,000 kids of mixed-nationality parents are born in Japan each year.

And each one of these dual national kids, most raised at home in one culture and at school in another, after turning 20 (plus an additional 2 year’s grace) has to choose which parent’s nationality they want to take. We think it’s a morally bankrupt question to force on those kids. It thrusts upon them the cold reality of the Japanese judicial concept of one allegiance, one home — also, we believe, the same reason why there is no judicial acceptance of joint custody of children in Japan.

It’s not hard to imagine that if the child has a parent from a poor country, indeed, most foreign mothers here are from developing Asian countries, then they will choose to be Japanese, despite any personal feelings of discrimination and disadvantage that they have probably been subjected to throughout their lives. If the child’s parent is from a first world country, then the choice is more likely to be for the other country.

And so Japan loses one potential contributor to its future, and gains a less than happy second one.

We interviewed some mixed-nationality kids who are nearing adulthood, asking them about what they thought of being forced to choose. The common response was that they wanted to keep both nationalities, but if forced, those that experienced the most discrimination didn’t want to remain Japanese.

2. According to 2005 government statistics, one third of all the approximately 1m (now probably around 1.1m) Japanese living overseas are resident in the USA. They are joined by an additional 115,000 Japanese who are considered permanent expatriates. Interestingly, the stats come from the Ministry of Justice, and carry the comment that it knows that a large number of Japanese living overseas are in fact dual nationals. One wonders when they are going to start acting over this information.

Perhaps the answer lies with the new immigration fingerprinting system being used on foreign residents and visitors. In implementing this screening system, the Japanese government has started sharing a US fingerprint tracking database, and within the year it will share with other countries as well. Although we’re assured that the data is private, we are equally sure that the Ministry of Justice will be “fascinated” by the opportunity to analyze migration data of Japanese nationals drawn from other countries’ ingress-egress points — something that they’re unable to do in Japan. In fact, this could be happening right now.

The scenario is obvious: a Japanese national uses their passport to exit Japan, then the same person should be trackable as they enter the USA. If they don’t show up, but they were on a given US-bound flight, then clearly they either have a green card or they are a dual national.

But apart from consular checks overseas, it is not clear that the government has chosen to act on a wide scale yet. Indeed, it knows many Japanese are dual nationals and until now has allowed people to maneuver around this inconvenient fact.

So how do people manage to keep both passports?

Firstly, they make sure that they are registered as Japanese first, since other countries allowing dual nationality do not require the new citizen to announce their new status to their original country. Secondly, in becoming a citizen of the second country, the Japanese national ensures that they maintain their juminhyo in Japan. This means that they pay taxes, vote, etc., just as if they are expecting to return to Japan. It is a cumbersome arrangement, but basically this is the price they pay for the flexibility offered by being dual national.

Thirdly, they use their passports in a way that doesn’t challenge the status quo. The rule for usage is important: Japanese passports for entry and departure from Japan, and the other nationality passports for entry and departure from the other country. Never show the other country’s passport when entering Japan. If you do, and if the consequences are followed through, the Japanese government can (and threatens to on its web site) strip the Japanese citizen of their nationality.

We end by saying that this is a crazy situation. On the one hand, we have a possible crack down on hundreds of thousands of people and a deliberate policy of alienating (pun intended) all these potential citizens. On the other hand, we have a government panel that advised back in December the government should spend up to JPY2.44trn (US$22bn) on measures to help counter the declining birth rate!

Since the number of people likely to lose their citizenship amounts to 5%-10% of the birth rate, we suggest that part of that JPY2.44trn outlay be spent on making a phone call to the Justice Ministry to prepare legislation allowing Japanese to do what many have practiced for generations — become law-abiding citizens of the countries of both of their parents.

The remainder of the money could be spent on nursing homes for those loyal citizens who decided to grow old at home…

ENDS

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ABC News (USA) finally breaks the story about Japan as haven for child abductions

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Hi Blog. Here’s a magnificent article from ABC News (USA) about how Japan remains a haven for child abduction after a Japanese-NJ marriage breaks up.

Long-overdue attention is given one of Japan’s worst-kept secrets–how NJ (who have no Family Registry) have essentially no parental or custody rights in Japan after a marriage breaks up. And how Japan refuses to take any measure to safeguard the access of both parents to or the welfare of the child under the Hague Convention (which it refuses to sign).

I met Paul Wong during my speech last December at the upcoming film documentary on this subject, FOR TAKA AND MANA. Glad he’s gotten the attention his horrible case deserves. I too have no access to my children after my divorce, and I’m a citizen! Bravo ABC. Get the word out.

More on this issue on Debito.org here.
Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Spirited Away: Japan Won’t Let Abducted Kids Go
American Parents Have Little Hope of Being Reunited With Children Kidnapped to Japan
By RUSSELL GOLDMAN
ABC News (USA) Feb. 26, 2008
http://www.abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=4342760&page=1
Courtesy of Damian Sanchez

Kaya Wong’s parents never imagined they would be able to have a baby.

Born two years after her mother was diagnosed with cancer, Kaya, now 5 years old, was a miracle.

But for Paul Wong, Kaya’s father, the unimaginable soon became the unthinkable. Months after the cancer fatally spread to his wife’s brain in 2005, Kaya, he says, was kidnapped by her maternal Japanese grandparents.

Despite being his daughter’s sole surviving parent, he has few options available to him as an American in Japan, a historically xenophobic country that does not honor international child custody and kidnapping treaties. It’s also a nation that has virtually no established family law and no tradition of dual custody.

He knows where his daughter lives, where she goes to school and how she spends her days, but despite the odd photograph from a family friend, he has not seen his daughter once in the last six months.

Wong is one of hundreds of so-called “left-behind” parents from around the world whose children have been abducted in Japan, the world’s only developed nation that has not signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

‘Heartbroken’

There are currently 39 open cases involving 47 American children spirited away to Japan, a key American ally and trading partner, but many more go unreported. Not a single American child kidnapped to Japan has ever been returned to the United States through legal or diplomatic means, according to the State Department.

“This entire experience has left me heartbroken,” Wong told ABCNEWS.com. “We always wanted children. My wife and I talked about starting a family for a long time, but because Akemi was sick we kept having to wait. When Kaya was born, I promised my wife that we would move to Japan so that our daughter would know about her Japanese heritage and Akemi, despite her own illness, could care for her elderly parents.”

Wong, a 41-year-old lawyer, says he does not regret keeping his promise to his ailing wife, but his pledge set into motion a series of events that have kept him from seeing his only child.

“She’s very energetic, outgoing, active, inquisitive innocent little girl. She is simply perfect, and sweet as can be. She is not afraid of anything,” he said of his daughter during a phone interview from Japan. “I’m breaking up just thinking about her and talking about her. She loves to laugh and has a smile just like her mother’s.”

Kaya was born in San Francisco in 2003 and is a dual citizen of the United States and Japan. The young family lived in Hong Kong, with Akemi making occasional trips to California for treatment until she and Kaya moved in with her parents in Kyoto, Japan.

Abuse Allegations Common

For more than a year after her mother’s death in December 2005, Kaya continued to live with her grandparents, with Wong visiting monthly from Hong Kong as he worked to find a job that would allow him to move to Japan.

Once he found a job and was preparing to move, however, things suddenly changed.

“Once I moved to Tokyo last year, the grandparents did everything possible to keep Kaya away from me. When I said I’m taking her back, they filed a lawsuit against me filled with lies and claimed I had sexually assaulted my daughter. There are no facts and the evidence is completely flimsy.”

According to Wong, with the exception of one long weekend in September 2007 when he took his daughter to Tokyo Disney, her grandparents were present every time he was with Kaya.

He said that a Japanese court investigator found that the girl was washed and inspected every day after a swimming lesson at her nursery school and her teachers never noticed signs of abuse.

ABCNEWS.com was unable to contact the grandparents Satoru and Sumiko Yokoyama, both in their 70s. State Department officials would not comment on the specifics of this case, but a spokesperson said that allegations of abuse were not uncommon in some abduction cases.

Kaya’s grandparents are elderly pensioners. Under a Japanese program to stimulate the birth rate, families with young children receive a monthly stipend from the government, one reason Wong believes the grandparents have chosen to keep Kaya.

Though Wong’s case is unique in that most child custody disputes result from divorce not death, his is typical of the legal morass in which many left-behind parents find themselves. He has spent thousands of dollars on legal fees and makes regular appearances for court hearings, but his case, like many others, remains stalled.

American parents quickly learn that the Japanese court system is rather different from that of the United States.

There is no discovery phase, pretrial disclosure of evidence, or cross-examination. Lawyers for each side simply present their cases before a judge.

Furthermore, there is no concept of parental abduction or joint custody. The parent or family member who has physical custody of the children, generally the Japanese mother or her family, is granted legal custody.

“Fundamentally, people believe that Japan must have a legal system available to deal with child custody and similar problems,” said Jeremy Morely, an international family lawyer. “In reality, however, there is no such system.”

“Family law is very weak in Japan. There is also a cultural perception that a Japanese child is best off in Japan with a Japanese parent. Boiled down, the law is: Whoever has possession has possession and the other parent should mind his own business,” Morely said.

Culture Clash

Culturally, there is no concept of dual custody or visitation. Once a couple gets divorced, the children are typically assigned to one parent and never again have contact with the other parent.

After divorcing his then-pregnant wife of four years in 1982, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi retained custody of his two eldest sons, Kotaro and Shinjiro. His ex-wife Kayoko Miyamoto took custody of their unborn son, Yoshinaga Miyamoto. Since the divorce Miyamoto has not seen her two eldest sons, and Koizumi has never met his youngest son, Yoshinaga.

Against this cultural backdrop, American parents seeking custody find themselves in an endlessly revolving door of hearings that go on for years and yield no results.

Paul Toland, a commander in the U.S. Navy, estimates he has spent “well over $100,000 in attorney’s fees” for the last five years in an effort to get back his daughter.

Toland’s daughter was taken by his ex-wife to live with her parents in Tokyo while he was stationed in the country in 2003 and he has not seen the girl since.

He began fighting for custody of his daughter Erika, 5, when she was just 9 months old. When his wife, Etsuko Futagi, committed suicide in September 2007, Erika’s maternal grandmother got custody.

“I feel real frustrated because I’m in a holding pattern,” said Toland, 40, who lives in Virginia. “It has been a nightmare trying to get through this.”

Possession Is Key

Though Toland is his daughter’s sole surviving parent, judges in countless hearings have upheld the cultural imperative that it is in the child’s best interest to stay with whomever she is with at that moment.

“Whoever has custody when they walk into court has custody,” Toland said. “Judges never want to disrupt the status quo. There is no enforcement of the law because there is no teeth in the system. Police won’t intervene because they say it is a family matter. Every judge knows that and rules in favor of the status quo because he would lose face if he ordered something that would never be followed through on.”

For now, Toland can only wait and keep trying through the courts.

He said he regularly sends “care packages  big boxes full of presents and videotapes of me reading her children’s books.” Since he does not know whether those videos ever make it to his daughter, he keeps copies locked in a strong box to give her if and when he finally gets custody.

He has considered kidnapping Erika, but says the girl is under her grandmother’s constant supervision.

“Parental abduction is not a crime in Japan, but taking a child out of Japan is a crime. It is legal to abduct my own kid in Japan, but it’s a crime to take her back home with me.”

His parents have each just turned 80 and have never met their granddaughter.

“It is a crime to keep my parents from knowing and loving Erika,” he said.

‘Countries Disagree’

With the legal and cultural cards stacked against them, many Americans turn to the State Department and politicians for diplomatic help, but to little avail.

“On most things Japan is an important partner,” said Michele Bond, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for Overseas Citizens Services. “This, however, is one issue where we greatly differ. Left-behind parents often engage in a fruitless campaign to get back their children.”

The State Department, she said, regularly raises the issue of international abduction and Japan’s refusal to join the Hague Convention, a 1980 international treaty on cross-border abductions.

Other countries, particularly Muslim nations that practice Shariah, also have not joined the treaty, but in many of those cases the United States has worked out agreements, or memoranda of understanding, to allow for the return of children. There is no such memorandum with Japan.

“We engage with the government of Japan at every opportunity and bring it up all the time. We try to raise the visibility of the issue and make them aware that this is not the tradition in other countries. Progress has been slow but we are hopeful to find a solution that respects both cultures and everyone’s rights, especially the children,” Bond said.

The State Department currently has 1,197 open cases of child abduction involving 1,743 children worldwide.

Bond said many cases of abduction to Japan go unreported because families know there is little the U.S. government can do to help.

Legislative Efforts

“Culturally, the Japanese are not disposed to deal with foreign fathers. The law does not recognize parental child abduction. Criminal extradition is limited because they don’t recognize that a crime has taken place,” she said.

Despite efforts on behalf of U.S. legislators to contact Japanese diplomatic officials, Wong has received no word of a change in his case.

In April 2007, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., sent a letter to President Bush about child abduction on the occasion of the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the United States.

“I am very concerned over Japan’s lack of assistance in these cases and urge you to insist that Japan cooperate fully with the United States and other countries on international parental child abductions. Furthermore, I hope you will press Prime Minister Abe to support the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and to implement a formal two-parent signature requirement for obtaining passports for minors,” the letter stated.

The Japanese government would not comment on specific cases of child abduction and in an exclusive statement to ABCNEWS.com never used the word “abduction.”

“We sympathize with the plight of parents and children who are faced with issues of this kind, which are increasing in number as international exchange between people expands,” reads a statement from the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The embassy said that the Hague Convention was inconsistent with Japanese law, but that joining the convention was still under review.

“Regarding the possibility of Japan’s joining the Hague Convention, we must point out that [the] Japanese legal system related to child custody is quite different from the underlying concept of the Hague Convention. Japanese courts always take into consideration what the best interest of a child is with respect to each individual case, while the Convention provides the relevant judicial or administration authorities in principle [to] order the return of the child, unless the limited exceptions apply.”

Few Successes

Left-behind parents are used to hearing similar language from Japanese judges and American diplomats relaying messages from their Japanese counterparts.

“We strongly believe that it is in the best interest of a child to have access to both parents,” said the State Department’s Bond.

She said a child has never been returned to the United States as a result of diplomatic negotiation or legal wrangling, and knew of only three cases where children were reunited with their American parents  “two in which the parents reconciled and one in which a 15-year-old ran away.”

Michael C. Gulbraa of Salt Lake City is the father of that 15-year-old, his now 17-year-old son Christopher. Christopher returned to the United States in 2006, and calling him a runaway undermines years of careful planning by his father to ensure that if his son wanted to get out of Japan he would be able to.

After Gulbraa and his wife divorced in April 1996, she gained custody of Christopher and his older brother Michael K. Gulbraa.

In 1999, when the boys were 8 and 9 years old, Gulbraa learned that his wife’s second husband was under investigation for abusing his biological son.

After months of investigation by court-appointed guardians and experts, his ex-wife, Etsuko Tanizaki Allred, feared she would lose custody and took the boys to Japan in 2001.

In 2002, the court gave Gulbraa custody and charged Allred under Utah law with felony custodial interference and a federal international kidnapping statute. Despite the international warrants for Allred, Japanese courts did not require her to return their children to Gulbraa.

“That’s how things remained until July 2006. I did everything I could think of. I even petitioned the Vatican to intervene,” he said.

In 2006, Christopher contacted him via text message and said he wanted to come back to the United States. Since his sons were kidnapped, Gulbraa had been working on a plan to get the boys emergency passports and onto a plane with whatever help U.S. diplomatic officials could legally provide.

One Who Escaped

When the boy’s mother learned of the plan, she took his cash and identification, making the train trip to the consulate and obtaining a passport all the more difficult.

Gulbraa will not disclose quite how his son got the money for the train, but said he had traveled to the Osaka consulate and provided it with photos of the boy and questions only he could answer in order to confirm his identity.

“Chris said he was going for a bike ride and got on a train from Nagoya to Osaka. We had to work through his not having any money or picture I.D. In late August 2006, he got home with the help of every agency of the U.S. government involved. From the consulate in Osaka to the embassy in Tokyo, everyone did everything to get him home without breaking the law.”

For Gulbraa being reunited with his son is bittersweet knowing his older son, Michael, remains in Japan.

Today, Gulbraa supports other left-behind parents and continues to petition the U.S. government to ensure kidnapped American children are reunited with their rightful guardians.

“It is mind boggling that we kowtow to an ally because we are worried about trade and beef exports, when people’s children are being torn from them. Abduction is abduction and it needs to stop.”
ENDS

Aly Rustom compares treatment of NJ as crime suspect with crime victim

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ESSAY FROM ALY RUSTOM.  THOUGHTS ARE HIS ALONE.  POSTED HERE TO STIMULATE DISCUSSION. THINK FOR YOURSELVES ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT YOU AGREE.  ARUDOU DEBITO

Recently, we all heard about the alleged rape of an Okinawan junior high school girl that took place a few weeks ago. Of course, we all did. It was on the front page and made the headline news. Japanese people were shocked and appalled at the incident. The US military apologized and promised to take steps to deter further incidents in the future. The girl is now safe at home with her family.

However, even before all that happened, there was a more harrowing but unknown crime. This time the criminals were Japanese and the victim was an American. On December 29th, 26 year old David James Floyd, an American tourist, was hit by a taxi in Sendagaya, Shibuya ward around 12:30 at night. The taxi sped off, didn’t bother to call an ambulance, phone the police, take Floyd to the hospital, or even get out of the car to see if he was ok. He just hit him and ran.

As Floyd was lying on the ground, he was run over by another car only about 5 minutes later. This time, a 19 year old man was driving. Floyd was killed and this man too fled the scene. Both men were arrested, but get this: “due to lack of evidence” the taxi driver was released.

Now honestly, if we compare the above with the Idubor case a terrifying truth comes to light: not only are foreigners framed for various crimes and sentenced without evidence and faulty testimony the Japanese government and its police force protect Japanese who murder foreigners. How is it possible that the Japanese government found Mr. Idubor guilty and the taxi driver innocent? The taxi driver is guilty of at least 2 crimes: hit and run, reckless endangerment, and a few more. The 19 year old is guilty of involuntary manslaughter at least. However, the taxi driver is free and I’ll bet you the 19 year old will get a slap on the wrist- if that.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this happen when a foreigner is murdered. Lucy Blackman’s killer was acquitted of her murder, and Lindsay Ann Hawker’s killer escaped from the police… or did he? Did they just turn the other way while he escaped?

The most basic right- the right not to be murdered- and the most basic justice- punishing a killer, is denied to foreigners in Japan. The American military took some steps to try and avoid such instances in the future and the head of the armed forces in Japan bowed and apologized.

For the murder of 3 young foreigners in Japan, cut down in their prime for absolutely no good reason, what have we got? We can’t even get justice for these people. Not even a conviction, let alone an apology. Is this a civilized government?

I have traveled around the world, have lived in dictatorships, monarchies, and under tyrannical governments, but even under those regimes, if you murdered someone you would be prosecuted under the law, no matter where you came from. I have never seen a country that condones the murder of foreigners by its own citizens. What really makes me sick to my stomach is that now Japan is trying for a seat in the UN Security Council. Is this really a country that is ready for a veto vote and is ready to make decisions that will affect the entire world? I hope not.
ENDS

“Foreign crime” in reverse: The Miura Kazuyoshi Case

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Hi Blog. A lot of people have brought this to my attention, and it’s of interest to Debito.org for reasons quite convoluted.

We usually hear about the crimes NJ commit in Japan. Very rarely about crimes committed by Japanese abroad, when we are the foreigners. Even more interesting is where a murder is committed and blamed on “foreign crime” overseas, namely the Americans and their society allegedly riddled with random crime.

Then we have the case of Miura Kazuyoshi. As you can see by the details below, we had a person convicted of killing his wife in a lower Japanese court unusually vindicated by a higher court. Then the guy gets arrested in US territory (which avoids double jeopardy) for the same crime nearly 25 years later. Wouldn’t it be yet another black eye for the Japanese judiciary if the US convicts him instead? We won’t know for a little while (but it will take definitely less time than the Japanese judiciary; hey, it took Miura four years for his High Court verdict, and Asahara has been on trial for more than a decade now…), but it should be interesting.

As an aside, crooked Dietmember Suzuki Muneo just got put away yet again today after his case was on appeal for close to four years too (in the interim he forms his own party and gets reelected; Hokkaido no haji!). About time. Still, he didn’t kill anybody. Couldn’t blame his corruption on foreigners, I guess.

Is Miura the Japanese O.J. Simpson or what? Instead of using the race card, he uses the “foreign crime” card… Debito in Sapporo

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Japan interviews arrested businessman
By THOMAS WATKINS, Associated Press Writer
Sun Feb 24, 5:58 PM ET
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080224/ap_on_re_us/businessman_s_wife_19;_ylt=AgwOdRE1FDr6pXh63kG7nMQE1vAI
Courtesy Chad Edwards, Tony Kehoe, and Erich Meatleg

LOS ANGELES – Japanese officials on Sunday interviewed a businessman from their country who was arrested in a U.S. territory on suspicion of killing his wife a quarter-century ago in a Los Angeles parking lot.

Kazuyoshi Miura was apprehended by U.S. authorities late Friday as he tried to pass through immigration control at Saipan’s airport to take a flight home, said Toshihide Kawasaki, a Foreign Ministry official in charge of Japanese citizens overseas. Japanese consular officials later talked to him at a Saipan detention center.

“He seemed in good health, and was receiving a fair treatment,” said Kenji Yoshida, one of the two Japanese consuls in Saipan.

“We talked about an hour, but not so much about his past crimes,” Yoshida said. “Naturally, he expressed hopes to see his family, and was very anxious to know what may happen to him.”

Miura, 60, had already been convicted in Japan in 1994 of the murder of his wife, Kazumi Miura, but that verdict was overturned by the country’s high courts 10 years ago. The 1981 shooting caused an international uproar, in part because he blamed the attack on robbers, reinforcing Japanese perceptions of America as violent.

“Why now?” Japan’s Mainichi newspaper asked in a headline. “His turbulent life entered a new phase.”

The LAPD said Miura was awaiting extradition, and details on the arrest were not made available.

“I think U.S. investigators have all along believed that they can make the case with the evidence they had already collected,” Tsutomu Sakaguchi, a Tokyo Metropolitan Police investigator at the time of the shooting, told TV Asahi in an interview Sunday. “If they have a new evidence, that could be a decisive step.”

Miura’s attorney, Junichiro Hironaka, has said the latest arrest is astonishing.

Miura, a clothing importer, and his 28-year-old wife were visiting Los Angeles on Nov. 18, 1981, when they were shot in a downtown parking lot. She was shot in the head, went into a coma and died the following year in Japan.

Her mother said Sunday that she never gave up hope that the case would be resolved.

“I burned incense for my daughter and prayed at a family Buddhist altar, telling her that Americans will put an end to the case, so let’s hold onto our hopes and wait,” Yasuko Sasaki told Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.

Miura reportedly collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from life insurance policies he had taken out on his wife. In addition, an actress who claimed to be Miura’s lover told a newspaper that Miura had hired her to kill his wife in their hotel room on a trip to Los Angeles three months before the shootings.

Miura was arrested in Japan in 1985 on suspicion of assaulting his wife in the hotel incident. He was convicted of attempted murder and while serving a six-year sentence was charged under Japanese law in 1988 with his wife’s murder.

Miura was convicted of that charge in 1994 and sentenced to life in prison. Four years later, a Japanese court overturned the sentence.
___

Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.
ENDS

LA Times: Okinawa, alleged rape, and “outrage for show”

Hi Blog. Not sure what to make of this, since it’s unclear whether it’s indecent assault or rape, but in any case, this does the US forces in Japan no good. I’ll put this up for discussion, since rapes no doubt happen more often between Japanese and Japanese, but it’s the NJ allegations that get the press. Given the history of the US military stationed in Okinawa, scant wonder. Interesting quote from now PM Fukuda also included. Debito in Sapporo

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Alleged rape angers Japan
The suspect is a U.S. Marine on politically sensitive Okinawa. Some say official outrage is more for show.
From the Los Angeles Times, February 22, 2008
By Bruce Wallace
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-rape22feb22,1,2542396.story
Courtesy of Jon Lenvik

TOKYO — The Japanese prime minister has described the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl by an American Marine as “unforgivable.” The foreign minister declared that Japan has “had enough” of such incidents. And the government’s most senior Cabinet official promised that Japan would raise the issue of misconduct with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when she visits next week.

Few events have animated the top levels of government recently as much as the alleged rape this month on Okinawa Island, which has a large U.S. military presence that has long been a source of tension with residents. Senior Japanese politicians have continued to berate the United States, citing other less serious incidents involving troops, despite expressions of regret from U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer and new restrictions on off-base travel for U.S. forces in Japan.

The suspect, 38-year-old Staff Sgt. Tyrone Luther Hadnott, is in Japanese custody. Japanese news media, quoting police sources, have reported that he denies raping the girl but admits forcibly kissing her.

The intensity of the reaction arises, in part, from a 1995 gang rape of a 12-year-old Okinawa girl by three U.S. servicemen that provoked massive anti-American demonstrations, and from the desire of the United States and Japan to avoid similar protests.

And the mood was darkened further Thursday with reports of another U.S. serviceman under investigation on suspicion of raping a Filipino woman in an Okinawa hotel.

But many here, though they share in the condemnation of sexual assault, argue that Japanese politicians are speaking out forcefully only because of the acute sensitivities of Okinawa’s status as host to about 42,500 Americans, the bulk of the U.S. military presence in Japan.

Japanese officials privately acknowledge that their recent criticisms are motivated, in part, by the need to assuage Okinawa public opinion, especially at a time when Washington and Tokyo are seeking to relocate a major Marine air base in the face of strong local opposition.

“It’s all a performance,” said Kantoku Teruya, an Okinawa lawmaker in the upper house of Japan’s parliament.

“They are afraid of Okinawa’s growing rage over the base relocation, so they imposed a curfew and promised to tighten discipline.

“But they’ve promised this before. And it is not working.”

Critics of the government say serious crimes committed on Japan’s main island have never drawn such stern rebukes, pointing out that the 2006 slaying of a 56-year-old Japanese woman by a U.S. sailor, later sentenced to life in prison, was handled without fanfare.

Japanese police and U.S. military statistics show that serious crimes committed by American servicemen in Japan have decreased in the last five years. And critics say the lecturing tone of the Japanese government is discordant in a country where rape victims are so poorly treated that there is no 24-hour rape crisis hotline, and the 1,948 rapes reported to police in 2006 are believed to be far below the actual number.

“Most of the clients I see won’t go to the police because of the way they are treated,” said Takako Konishi, a psychologist who assists female victims of violence at Tokyo’s Musashino University. “There is still a concept in Japan that women are responsible for putting themselves in bad situations, and women don’t want to risk criticism from their friends and family by going public.”

Some rape victims in Japan describe their experience with police as deeply humiliating. An Australian woman raped by an American serviceman in 2002 recalls being questioned for several hours without police providing medical care or an opportunity to shower.

They also demanded that she return to the scene of the crime to reenact the rape for police photographers, a standard Japanese police practice. Prosecutors would not press charges, but she won damages in a civil case.

Critics of the government also note that U.S. military authorities continue to investigate allegations of rape against four Marines in Hiroshima last fall, whereas the Japanese justice system refused to press charges. The initial investigation was led by Japanese police, but prosecutors dropped the case without explanation in November.

The problem, many here contend, is that Japanese attitudes toward violence against women remain rooted in antiquated male beliefs.

In 2003, the Weekly Bunshun magazine quoted then- Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda telling reporters in an off-the-record briefing that “there are lots of women who dress in a seductive way. I wonder if they know that half of human beings in the world are male. All men are black panthers.”

He later said his message was intended to be completely different.

Fukuda, 71, is now the prime minister, leading his government’s condemnation in the Marine’s case.

“It’s good to hear their formal condemnation of rape, but I fear our politicians are just behaving paternally,” said psychologist Konishi. “They single out American soldiers because they see this as a matter of Japanese property being violated by outsiders.”

——————–

bruce.wallace@latimes.com, Hisako Ueno of The Times’ Tokyo Bureau contributed to this report.

Yomiuri: Govt to help NJ primary- and secondary-ed students learn Japanese

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Hi Blog. Speaking of language requirements for visa renewals, this may be good news, albeit it only applies to youth (very good news in itself). Sorry I left this article sitting in my inbox for so long. Friend who sent me this has this comment immediately below. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

====================
There is one line that bothers me though: “Because these students do not speak Japanese, some have had trouble fitting in with classmates, which has led to behavior problems or even crimes.” They just had to throw that in. Reminds me of the anti-Mexican comments my grandfather is always sending me.
====================

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Govt to help foreign students learn Japanese
The Yomiuri Shimbun Nov. 6, 2007
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20071106TDY03104.htm

The Education, Science and Technology Ministry will launch a program to help the increasing number of foreign students at public primary, middle and high schools to acquire Japanese language skills.

Currently, local governments handle Japanese language education for foreign students at public schools.

The ministry plans to provide financial and other support to the local governments to employ part-time instructors, who are proficient both in Japanese and a foreign language, with the goal of enhancing students’ understanding in classes and Japanese lessons.

According to the ministry, foreign nationals at public primary, middle and high schools throughout the country numbered 70,936 as of May 2006.

Of those students, 22,413 at a total of 5,475 schools did not understand Japanese sufficiently to absorb their lessons.

The number of these students increased by 8.3 percent from the previous year, and had been increasing annually.

Since the Immigration Control Law was revised to permit the employment of ethnic-Japanese foreign nationals for unskilled jobs in 1990, a growing number of people have come to Japan from South America.

Portuguese, spoken in Brazil, is the most common language among foreign students at 38 percent, followed by Chinese at 20 percent and Spanish at 15 percent.

Because these students do not speak Japanese, some have had trouble fitting in with classmates, which has led to behavior problems or even crimes.

The ministry is taking the increase in problems associated with Japanese language ability seriously and decided the central government needs to support local governments in this concern.

It has included 1.96 billion yen in its budget request for the next fiscal year for hiring about 1,600 bilingual instructors around the country by the end of that year.

(Nov. 6, 2007)
ENDS

SAYUKI, Japan’s first Occidental NJ certified Geisha, offers special party rate to large groups of NJ clients

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Hi All. SAYUKI, Japan’s first Occidental NJ certified Geisha, is offering special party rates to large groups of NJ clientele. This is a special deal, so if you’d like a glimpse into the Geisha artisan circles (and want to see what the cultural fuss is all about), book a group rate at a very special discount. An email from Sayuki follows, blogged with permission. Arudou Debito

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

Dear All,

Following my debut as the first white geisha in Japan, many people have asked me if I can set up an evening at a teahouse where their members can meet geisha.

I have been able to negotiate with one teahouse the following arrangement for groups of first-time foreigners to introduce you to the flower and willow world:

What: Evening at one of Tokyo’s most exclusive tea-houses
When: Either lunchtime or dinner time
Who: Your members and 3 geisha
Where: Asakusa

Ten or more: 12.300 yen per person
Twenty or more: 11,000 yen
Thirty or more: 10,000 yen

*Includes Japanese-style box lunch or dinner
*Does not include alcohol but you can order alcohol and pay separately

This is actually extremely cheap compared to normal prices.

Do let me know what you think.

I would appreciate it if you could pass this on to any other foreign societies in Tokyo that you think may be interested, or put them in contact with me.

I am looking forward to lots of gaijin support!

Thanks,

SAYUKI
http://www.sayuki.net
More on Sayuki on Debito.org here
ENDS

SAYUKI adds:

Actually, Japanese are welcome too…it is really a deal for first-timers to a tea-house. So far, some groups have been all foreigners, and some half Japanese half foreign. We have had foreign businessmen entertaining their Japanese counterparts, foreign residents entertaining visiting friends and relatives, foreign organisations and work parties, all kinds; its been a lot of fun.

NUGW Tokyo Nambu “March in March” Mar 9, 2008 Shibuya

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Hi Blog. Word from Louis Carlet on the annual labor union march to demonstrate that NJ workers have rights and needs too. And the will to petition for them. I’ve been to two of these before; they are excellent and well worth your time. Do consider attending. You’ll be convinced that Japan is in fact a multicultural, multiethnic society and will stay that way. Arudou Debito

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

From: Louis Carlet
Subject: [Nambu FWC] March In March 2008 — Just 18 Days Left
Date: February 20, 2008 5:48:49 PM JST

Sisters and Brothers,

March In March Countdown — 18 days till March 9 (Sun) at 1pm in Miyashita Park in Shibuya

In March and March 2008 news, we will have another prep session this Sunday at 2pm. Get the word out now. Please foward this part of the email on to as many of your friends and family as possible. Let’s make this one the biggest ever. If you like, please feel free to make placards addressing concerns at your workplace. All former Nova teachers/current G teachers — Nova/G will be a major focus of this year’s March in March so be sure to be there so the Nova-G contingent is as large as possible.

Last year, precisely 20 Berlitz members and 10 Lado members participated. The entire membership of some small branches also attended. We also had great turnouts from our sister unions Kanagawa City Union and Zentoitsu as well as a small contingent from General Union, visiting from Osaka. And that was in hail! Imagine our numbers in good weather! Well, don’t just imagine — make it happen! Whether we get 500 or not this year depends on you and me. So let’s rev things up this year.

If you have any good ideas about increasing our numbers, please write me here and explain. We will consider all serious proposals. Nearly all the ideas we have ever implemented have been from the ranks of our membership.

Looking forward to seeing you on March 9 at 1pm in Miyashita Park, just up the hill from Shibuya Station!

In Solidarity,

Louis Carlet
Deputy General Secretary
NUGW Tokyo Nambu

March in March 2008
March 9th 2008, Shibuya, Tokyo

NUGW Tokyo Nambu – Nambu FWC
http://nambufwc.org
ENDS

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Interesting forthcoming book: “Another Japan is Possible”, citing Tony Laszlo of long-defunct “Issho Kikaku”

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Hi Blog. Speaking of books…

We have another book on Japan’s internationalization coming out. Press release below. It looks to be a serious and interesting study of the forces of minority voices in Japan. Well done Professor Chan.

There is one thing I found odd. Chapter 42 below reads:

42. Issho Kikaku
Tony Laszlo
Ethnic Diversity, Foreigners’ Rights, Discrimination in Family Registration

Hang on. Tony Laszlo of “Issho Kikaku”? Issho Kikaku has been a moribund organization for more than two years now (its archives taken offline for “site renewal” December 4, 2005! Here’s today’s screen capture:).
isshosite021808.jpg

By taking the work of hundreds of activists offline like this, Laszlo in fact has a history of deleting the historical record of Japan’s internationalization. Likewise, the Shakai Mailing List Archives, which he was also involved in, also mysteriously disappeared about a year ago. Substantiation for all these assertions here.

How can a “non-active” activist representing a non-existent organization pop up like this in a serious academic work? Well, Jennifer by sheer coincidence contacted me a couple of weeks ago for some introductions into Japan’s Muslim Community. When queried about this situation, she said she conducted the interviews with Laszlo about two years ago. Probably before Laszlo deep-sixed his site. So she probably didn’t know about his impending conversion to cartoon character and cute keitai mascot (beats sullying his hands in real activism, anyway, or tainting his cutie-pie salability with any connection to controversial topics). I wish Jennifer had done a follow-up check before publication, though. Perpetuates an incorrect job description for other serious researchers.

Anyway, without any sarcasm, I think this looks to be a great book. Bonne chance. I’ll be getting a copy. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

NEW BOOK RELEASE:
Another Japan is Possible: New Social Movements and Global Citizenship Education
Edited by Jennifer Chan, Stanford University Press 2008.
ISBN: 0804757828
Price: USD 27.95

Book summary:
This edited volume, a sequel to my first book – Gender and Human Rights Politics in Japan – looks at the emergence of internationally linked Japanese advocacy nongovernmental networks that have grown since the 1990s in the context of three conjunctural forces of neoliberalism, militarism, and nationalism. It connects three disparate literatures on the global justice movement, Japanese civil society, and global citizenship education. Through the narratives of 50 activists in eight overlapping issue areas—global governance, labor, food sovereignty, peace, HIV/AIDS, gender, minority and human rights, and youth—this book examines the genesis of these new social movements; their critiques of neoliberalism, militarism, and nationalism; their local, regional, and global connections; relationships with the Japanese government; and their role in constructing a new identity of Japanese as global citizens. Its purpose is to highlight the interactions between the global and local—that is, how international human rights and global governance issues resonate within Japan and how in turn local alternatives are articulated by Japanese advocacy groups—and to analyze citizenship from a postnational and postmodern perspective.

Advanced Praise
***
“A surprise for observers who view Japan as a developmental state, run by a powerful central bureaucracy and aligned with a conservative party whose policies often override public interest, this book casts new light on a vital aspect of Japan’s emerging political economy. A remarkable group of scholars, professionals, and citizen activists reveal the growing numbers of committed Japanese participating energetically in local and global organizations.”
˜Daniel I. Okimoto, Stanford University

“Jennifer Chan vividly illustrates the recent flourishing of nongovernmental organizations in Japan. With good contextualizing narratives and rich, informative examples of the thinking and sentiments nongovernmental organizations generate, she delivers a must-read in the study of globalization and localization.”
˜Inoguchi Takashi, University of Tokyo

“This book is rich in primary material on the human side of NGO activity in Japan, along a wide spectrum of organizations. This is a nuanced view of advocacy, strategies, and institutions, sometimes against the grain of existing views, and it adds the perspectives of new global citizens of Japan, engaged in knowledge production.
˜Merry White, Boston University

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Global Governance and Japanese Advocacy Nongovernmental Networks
I. Global Governance
1. AM-Net/Advocacy and Monitoring Network on Sustainable Development
Kawakami Toyoyuki Global Governance Monitoring and Japan
2. Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society
Sakuma Tomoko Education, Empowerment and Alternatives to Neoliberalism
3. Peoples’ Plan Study Group
Ogura Toshimaru Building a People-based Peace and Democracy Movement in Asia
4. Association for the Tobin Tax for the Aid of Citizens, Kyoto
Komori Masataka Tobin Tax, Kyoto Social Forum and Pluralism
5. Pacific Asia Resource Center
Fukawa Yoko Education for Civil Society Capacity Building
6. Japan International Volunteer Center
Takahashi Kiyotaka Community Development, Peace and Global Citizenship

II. Labor
7. Japan Trade Union Confederation (Rengo)
Kumagai Ken’ichi Globalization and Labor Restructuring
8. Shinjuku Homeless Support Center
Kasai Kazuaki Corporate Restructuring and Homelessness
9. Equality Action 21
Sakai Kazuko Gender, Part-time Labor and Indirect Discrimination
10. Filipino Migrants Center Nagoya
Ishihara Virgie Migration, Trafficking and Free Trade Agreements
11. Labor Net
Yasuda Yukihiro Neoliberalism and Labor Organizing
12. All-Japan Water Supply Workers’ Union
Mizukoshi Takashi Water, Global Commons and Peace

III. Food Sovereignty
13. No to WTO – Voice from the Grassroots in Japan
Ohno Kazuoki Agricultural Liberalization, World Trade Organization and Peace
14. Food Action 21
Yamaura Yasuaki Multifunctionality of Agriculture over Free Trade
15. No! GMO Campaign
Amagasa Keisuke Citizens’ Movement against Genetically Modified Foods
16. Watch Out for WTO! Japan
Imamura Kazuhiko Self-sufficiency, Safety and Food Liberalization

IV. Peace
17. Grassroots Movement to Remove US Bases from Okinawa and the World
Hirayama Motoh “We Want Blue Sky in Peaceful Okinawa”
18. World Peace Now
Hanawa Machiko, Tsukushi Takehiko and Cazman World Peace Now
19. No to Constitutional Revision! Citizens’ Network
Takada Ken Article 9 and the Peace Movement
20. Japan Teachers’ Union
Nishihara Nobuaki Fundamental Law of Education, Peace and the Marketization of Education
21. International Criminal Bar
Higashizawa Yasushi Japan and International War Crimes
22. Japan Campaign to Ban Landmines
Kitagawa Yasuhiro Landmine Ban and Peace Education
23. Peace Depot
Nakamura Keiko Nuclear Disarmament, Advocacy and Peace Education
24. Asia-Pacific Peace Forum
Ôtsuka Teruyo Building a Citizens’ Peace Movement in Japan and Asia

V. HIV/AIDS
25. Japan AIDS and Society Association
Tarui Masayoshi HIV/AIDS from a Human Rights Perspective
26. Place Tokyo
Hyôdô Chika HIV/AIDS, Gender and Backlash
27. Africa Japan Forum
Inaba Masaki Migrant Workers and HIV/AIDS

VI. Gender
28. Japan NGO Network for CEDAW
Watanabe Miho International Lobbying and Japanese Women’s Networks
29. Japan Network Against Trafficking in Persons
Hara Yuriko Gender, Human Rights and Trafficking in Persons
30. Soshiren/Starting from a Female Body
Ohashi Yukako Gender, Reproductive Rights and Technology
31. Regumi Studio Tokyo
Wakabayashi Naeko As a Lesbian Feminist in Japan
32. Sex Workers and Sexual Health
Kaname Yukiko Sex Workers’ Movement in Japan
33. Women’s Active Museum of War and Peace
Watanabe Mina Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace
34. Feminist Art Action Brigade
Shimada Yoshiko Art, Feminism and Activism

VII. Minority and Human Rights
35. Japan Civil Liberties Union Subcommittee for the Rights of Foreigners
Fujimoto Mie A Proposal for the Law on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
36. The International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)
Morihara Hideki Antidiscrimination, Grassroots Empowerment and Horizontal Networking
37. Buraku Liberation League
Mori Maya Multiple Identities and Buraku Liberation
38. Citizens’ Diplomatic Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Shimin Gaikô Centre)
Uemura Hideaki Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Multicultural Coexistence
39. Association of Rera
Sakai Mina On the Recognition of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights of the Ainu
40. Association of Indigenous Peoples in the Ryûkyûs
Taira Satoko “I would like to be able to speak Uchinâguchi when I grow up!”
41. Mirine
Hwangbo Kangja Art Activism and Korean Minority Rights
42. Issho Kikaku
Tony Laszlo Ethnic Diversity, Foreigners’ Rights, Discrimination in Family Registration
43. Japan National Assembly of Disabled Peoples’ International
Hirukawa Ryôko Disability and Gender
44. Japan Association for Refugees
Ishikawa Eri The UN Convention on Refugee and Asylum Protection in Japan
45. Center for Prisoners’ Rights Japan
Akiyama Emi Torture, Penal Reform and Prisoners’ Rights
46. Forum 90
Takada Akiko Death Penalty and Human Rights

VIII. Youth Groups
47. Peace Boat
Yoshioka Tatsuya Experience, Action and the Floating Peace Village
48. A Seed Japan
Mitsumoto Yuko Ecology, Youth Action and International Advocacy
49. BeGood Cafe
Shikita Kiyoshi Organic Food, Education and Peace
50. Body and Soul
Takahashi Kenkichi “Another Work is Possible”: Slow Life, Ecology and Peace

Conclusion: Social Movements and Global Citizenship Education
Appendixes
Notes

Target audience:
Japanese studies, Asian studies, feminist studies, human rights and globalization researchers, transnational and local social movement studies.

To order:
Chicago Distribution Center
11030 South Langley Ave.
Chicago, IL 60628
Tel. 1-800-621-2736
Fax: 1-800-621-8471
E-mail: custserv@press.uchicago.edu
or through
www.amazon.com

For more information, please contact:
Jennifer Chan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor,
Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Education; and
Faculty Associate, the Centre for Japanese Research, the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies; and Institute for European Studies.
University of British Columbia
2125 Main Mall,
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
Tel: (604) 822-5353
Fax: (604) 822-4244
Jennifer.chan@ubc.ca
http://www.edst.educ.ubc.ca/faculty/chan.html
ENDS

Terrie’s Take 456 on Immigration’s looming crackdown on NJ residents

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Hi Blog. Here’s an excellent article from Terrie Lloyd, as usual. Debito in transit.

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Terrie’s Take General Edition Sunday, February 10, 2008
Issue No. 456 A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd. (http://www.terrie.com)

We have been through Narita immigration 3 times now since the November 20th, 2007, implementation of taking fingerprints and facial images. Prior to the changes, many foreign residents were concerned about being forced to separate with their Japanese spouses and kids and having to join the tourist lines, thus enduring a blow-out on waiting times at immigration while the family waited at the other side. In the past, permanent residents could slip through in the Japanese-only lines, in just 10-20 minutes.

After the implementation date started to loom and enough people became concerned, a number of foreign chambers of commerce got involved and made submissions to the Justice Ministry to ensure that the changes wouldn’t be detrimental to international commerce (a great platform to argue from). At the eleventh hour, the Ministry decided that there should be a separate purpose-made Permanent Resident line, so as to allow foreign permanent residents traveling frequently to China and elsewhere an easy passage in and out of Japan. It is no secret that despite the costs, some foreign multinationals prefer to have their senior management for the region reside in Japan. This proved an important point of leverage in getting the initial arrangements changed.

As a result, the reality is that now Permanent Residents (PR) wait even less time than Japanese nationals to get through immigration, and sometimes there are only 2-3 people queued at the PR line for an entire airplane arrival. It’s embarrassing to see the number angry or puzzled looks from Japanese herded into half the number of lines they once had, while the PRs waltz through.

Even the foreign tourist lines are a lot shorter than they once were, so we don’t think the Immigration folks will maintain such one-sided preference for foreign visitors for long — but it’s nice while it lasts. Perhaps more importantly, the presence of this special line (actually there are now two) proves that the Justice Ministry does in fact listen to the foreign business organizations.

And that’s probably just as well, because there appears to be a clear intention by the government to start tightening up controls on foreigners living in Japan. Foreign chambers of commerce need to start looking at these measures before they become committed to law later this year.

Over the last 2 years, there have been a number of legislatory submissions and trial PR balloons floated that indicate that the government is intending to significantly increase its control over foreigners living here. Given that many other countries also impose strict tracking and controls on foreign residents who are not migrants, this wouldn’t necessarily be such a bad thing providing that there was some upside offered such as by those other countries. In particular, Japan needs to make laws and apply the proper enforcement of UN human rights to foreign residents. Rights such as anti-discrimination, right to impartial justice, fair treatment of refugees, proper criminalization of human trafficking, and rights of children are all severely lacking. But these unfortunately don’t seem to be part of the agenda at this time.

The latest round of controls was initiated by the Justice Ministry at the end of January, and was subsequently reported on by the Japan Times, http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080126a1.html. The Ministry has submitted legislation to the Diet for approval this year that will scrap the Alien Registration system and replace it with a pseudo Family Register modeled on the Japanese one. The idea is that the current system tracks people as individuals, and so as their circumstances change and they get married and have kids, it is not obvious to the local authorities that these changes have occurred.

Commentary in the Japanese press seems to indicate that a driver for this change was the many Brazilian kids of Japanese-Brazilian families living in Gunma who don’t attend local schools and/or whose parents would move frequently and thus the kids were not at the schools the local authorities expected them to be at — thus causing the local government guys to embark on frequent goose chases to find out where they moved to. A Family Register would clearly alleviate this problem.

One thing to note about this proposed legislation is that the collection and distribution of data on all foreign residents in the future will become the job of the Justice Ministry, not that of the various local governments all over Japan. Centralization of the data would be achieved by collecting information from returning foreign residents at airports and/or at immigration offices, and would be keyed into central servers, as well as being encoded in to IC cards issued in replacement of the current Alien Registration card.

In and of itself, the idea of creating family registers for mid- and long-term residents in Japan is not such a bad idea. Yes, it would require that foreigners be more conscientious about registering changes of address and personal circumstance, but this would be no more onerous than for any of our Japanese colleagues. However, when you start looking at the change in context with some other recent Justice Ministry (and other Ministries) announcements, one wonders if there isn’t a larger agenda at work?

For example, take the January 2007 announcement, reported in the Nikkei, that the children of long-term foreign residents will be required in the future to attend local Japanese schools rather than English-speaking International ones, as the the current grey zone situation allows. Or the October implementation of compulsory employer reporting of foreign workers — which effectively makes employers the decision-makers on whether someone is working legally or not.

And the real kicker in December where a minister suggested that long-term residents will be given a Japanese language test before their visas are renewed. This point has got a lot of long-term Western foreign residents worried, because until now it has been perfectly feasible for someone to work for decades within the foreign community and never really become fluent in the language. Then of course, there are all the 3- to 5-year foreign CEOs appointed to manage their companies’ operations in Japan. What becomes of them and their families? We will find out when the Justice Ministry makes its final recommendations in the next month or so.

The message coming from the Justice Ministry is that they want to gain direct control over foreign residents in Japan and that they want people to be properly assimilated into society, by ensuring adequate language capabilities and their children attending regular local schools. At the same time, the number of foreign residents has been increasing at a steady rate, and so the controls don’t seem to be part of a general xenophobic trend (at least, no worse than it is at present) in government policy. Even after the highly publicized 2003 murder of a family by Chinese students, although the following year the number of students dropped by 20%, now in 2008 the total number is rising again, and will soon exceed 100,000.

Indeed, stepping back from the immediate, “What is Hatoyama and his Justice pals up to?” many of these announcements and new rules sound more like they are part of a larger plan to prepare for a large future influx of foreign residents. We speculated on this fact back at the beginning of 2007, but now it is much more obvious that this is the case. We all know that it is inevitable that the number of foreigners will increase, since not only will the nation’s factories need another 4m people in the next 10 years, but rest homes for the aged will need another 500,000 able-bodied, low-cost employees as early as 2014.

Most likely the reason the government hasn’t said publicly that they are in fact preparing the ground for a lot more foreign workers is that as polls have shown, many Japanese voters are still xenophobic, with up to 60% saying that they blame foreigners for a rise in crime, for example. So, instead, these new foreigner control law reforms are being carried out under the guise of “anti-terrorism” or “anti-crime,” which plays well to conservative voters.

So if there is a master plan, what other changes should we be expecting as foreigners living in Japan? Our guess is that the biggest change will simply be the absolute loss of privacy. Every foreign resident will be carefully checked on whether they are contributing to the social insurance program and paying their taxes. Those not complying will probably lose their residency rights — and we imagine that there will be few avenues of appeal where an administration mistake has been made. You only need to look at the process and meager results for refugee status appeals to see what the outcome is likely to be.

There will also be substantial increase in governmental department sharing of foreign resident data. A police check of all foreign fingerprints will become standard practice for all unsolved crimes. Even minor infractions of the law (fines, etc.) will become factors in evaluating continued residence, or for refusal of entry at Immigration. Less obvious will be the likely mis-use of the database for private purposes. Already private detective agencies use senior ex-police to gain inside information on individuals they are checking out (we know because we were offered to subscribe to just such a service several years ago). With the new centralized database, this will become a lot easier to do.

Then there is the issue of education of one’s children. This is a thorny issue, and probably one that will be met with significant response from the foreign community. Our guess is that this aspect of the integration program (pogrom?) will take much longer, and will require the Ministry of Education to agree to create a special category of state support for schools that don’t meet its curriculum, providing they do at least offer sufficient Japanese language exposure.

There will probably be several new visa categories. One that industry obviously wants is something that lets them bring low-cost workers in and prevents those people from using the constitutional right of freedom to work to skip off to a better paying job. Until now, the Trainee category filled that role, but industry needs something that will keep people here longer than 2-3 years. An appropriate nickname for the document will be the “slavery visa”.

Lastly, there is the even thornier question of what to do about expats. Our guess is that any new legislation passed will create a set of exemptions for those who are legitimate expat appointees in Japan. This mechanism already exists in other countries. In Australia, for example, those working on a 457 visa (Temporary Long Stay Business work visa) and earning over AUD75,000 a year can be exempt from the English language requirements normally needed.

This would conveniently provide Japan with an all-important loophole to deal with tough cases, and at the same time allow those foreign residents wanting to continue sending their kids to international schools to do so. Our guess is that this will be tacitly accepted so long as those on higher salaries keep contributing to the social insurance program!
ENDS

MOFA Feb 12, 2008 Press Conference on language requirement for NJ Visas

HANDBOOKsemifinalcover.jpg
Hi Blog. FYI. The GOJ has plans for everyone. Linguistically… According to the MOFA in a press conference last week, conclusions on what kinds of Japanese language tests will be required for visas are due March 2008. But you look to be exempt if you bring enough money and political clout. And note the Japan Foundation’s pole position to profiteer. Anyway, check out the embryonic policy directions… Arudou Debito in Tokyo

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs Feb 12, 2008 Press Conference by Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi (EXCERPT):
http://www.mofa.go.jp/u_news/2/20080212_201139.html

IV. Questions concerning the possible Japanese-language proficiency requirements for foreigners

Q: Good afternoon. I have questions regarding the immigration laws. In France, our government, as well as Japan, is at the moment thinking about granting visas to people who get language skills first. I heard there is the same kind of project in Japan. For France the aim is really to lower immigration entries. What are the motivations for Japan, and what kind of visas will it be? Is it for long-term residents or is it for short-term residents?

Mr. Taniguchi: Speaking of people from France, many people in Japan are being reminded of two outstanding individuals: Carlos Ghosn and Philippe Troussier. Those people are not going to be required to undergo any linguistic test or examination. They can come to Japan and start working instantaneously. The same applies to other professionals like bankers, dealers and traders who would find job opportunities in Tokyo’s central district, in the financial center.

The idea is to open the entry door a little bit wider to other categories. By “other” I mean other than professionals like bankers or coaches of professional football, and so on. That said, the idea is still hotly debated at the intra-government level, especially between the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But we are not spending that much time. We are going to come to a tentative conclusion sometime by the end of March. But how soon we can implement that is going to be a matter of the pace and tempo with which we can solve minute details about what sort of arrangement can be provided to what sort of people. So I am not sure how soon we can implement this program, but that is basically the situation.

Q: When you say it would not concern bankers or automotive company CEOs, then what kind of jobs or what kind of population are you talking about?

Mr. Taniguchi: Well, even in terms of professionals or people with some kind of expertise – suppose, under the current framework, you have got to prove you have in the past 10 years’ worth of work experience as a consultant, let’s imagine. Then, the idea is not to de-incentivize those people from coming to Japan, but incentivize those people to come to Japan. Therefore, probably, the entry barrier is going to be lowered from 10 years to five years depending on the linguistic skill you have. So that applies to the professionals, people with expertise. For those in other categories, people engaged in rather more simplistic kinds of work, it will affect the easiness for them to enter Japan if the applicant can prove that he or she is capable in the Japanese language.

Q: Some people say this measure is also part of the wish of Japan to take care or protect itself against some terrorist actions or things like that. Is this kind of motivation behind it, like knowing better who is coming into your country?

Mr. Taniguchi: That is not necessarily the case. The Japanese Ministry of Justice already started to require bio ID when non-Japanese visitors enter Japan – you probably have gone through the same procedure, like fingerprinting or face photo. The idea of that initiative, of course, was to check the inflow of people so that any dubious potentially terrorist sort of people could not come into Japan. So that is more to do with preventing those people from entering Japan.

But the linguistic part, the language initiative, is rather to incentivize people not only to come to Japan, but also to feel more relaxed in their working conditions and environment. The two initiatives are totally different from one another.

Q: I just have a last question, and then my colleagues could ask you questions as well. Japanese is not an easy language, like I would say French is not an easy one as well. Don’t you fear that asking people to have linguistic skills in Japan is going to have people say, “OK, I will go someplace else,” and not try to come to Japan.

Mr. Taniguchi: That is the last kind of scenario that the Japanese Government wants. Therefore, we have to stress once again, and again and again, that the new initiative is not to dis-incentivize people from coming to Japan, but to incentivize, encourage people from abroad to come to Japan. So the idea is, if you speak Japanese it will be made easier for you to find job opportunities in Japan. So that is the basic outline.

Q: In terms of language skills, what kind of level are you thinking about?

Mr. Taniguchi: It is another matter of concern. It is one area that we have to spend a lot of time on, because at the moment the Japan Foundation is conducting the language examination only once a year or so. The frequency is much less than would be required. But we have to work together with the Japan Foundation, which is the body implementing the linguistic examination. So, ranging from that to many other minute details, we have to work out many things in order for it to be implemented.

Q: While we are on the topic, a related question. You mentioned intra-governmental discussions: how frequently are these held?

Mr. Taniguchi: Rather more frequently than you could imagine, because we are thinking of coming up with a tentative proposal by the end of March. Overall direction will be set sooner rather than later, within this fiscal year – that is, obviously, by the end of March.

Q: Is this a regular meeting?

Mr. Taniguchi: Well, it is an ad hoc meeting, so it is not the regular kind of meeting between the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Q: Do you know anything about the pace, and how many meetings have been held?

Mr. Taniguchi: Well, I do not know. I will have to check it out.

Q: Can you confirm that?

Mr. Taniguchi: Yes, I can.

(skip)

VI. Follow-up questions on the possible Japanese-language proficiency requirements for foreigners

Q: You mentioned the Japan Foundation’s role in this immigration measure. Very concretely, how would it work? Is that like your embassies or consulates would check the level of people before granting a visa?

Mr. Taniguchi: The honest answer is: I don’t know yet. The Japan Foundation is not a government body: it is an independent administrative agency, partially supported by taxpayers’ money. The Japan Foundation’s prime role is to enhance Japanese-language education as much as possible, just like Academie Francaise. The frequency of the Japanese-language test normally is once a year, which is far less than sufficient. In order for the Japanese Government to implement this program to require newly entering people to go through the language test it will of course take much, much more effort to be done by the Japan Foundation. So we have to work it out. No concrete picture has emerged yet.

Q: Because when you talk about the yearly test: this is conducted in any country where the Japan Foundation has some kind of representation? Is there one in Paris, for example?

Mr. Taniguchi: In Paris, I understand, it is a regular event.

Q: Okay, thank you.
ENDS
EXCERPT OF PRESS CONFERENCE ENDS

Advance reviews for forthcoming HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS, by Akira Higuchi and Arudou Debito

Hi Blog. In Tokyo doing some finishing touches on our forthcoming book. Here are some things we can announce now: the book cover, advance reviews, and a nationwide book tour March 15 to April 1:

Japan’s biggest human rights publisher Akashi Shoten will publish my third book (first two are here), coauthored with Akira Higuchi. Table of contents follow after advance book review, cover image, and quick notice of the book tour:

Advance book reviews:
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“Higuchi and Arudou’s HANDBOOK promises to be the second passport for foreigners in Japan. It provides a map to navigate the legal, economic, and social mazes of contemporary Japanese life. Practical and affordable, clear and concise, the Handbook should contribute not only to a better life for newcomers to Japan but also to a more humane society in Japan.”

–Dr John Lie, Dean of International and Area Studies, University of California Berkeley, and author of MULTIETHNIC JAPAN.

“Finally, the book I always wished I had, explaining in clear and precise language the legal labyrinths that make life interesting and sometimes treacherous for non-Japanese trying to find their way in Japan. This is the A-Z what to watch out for and how to do it guide that will help all non-Japanese living in Japan. Whether it is visas, workers’ rights, starting a business, pensions, naturalizing, divorcing, etc. this is essential reading. For non-Japanese this is truly a godsend, but even better the entire text is bilingual so Japanese who have extensive dealings with non-Japanese can also better understand the rules of the game and avoid mishandling what can be difficult situations. I can think of no other book that comes close in promoting mutual understanding, one that is grounded in the law and brimming with practical advice.”

–Jeff Kingston, Director of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan
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HANDBOOKsemifinalcover.jpg
(semifinalized cover, click to see full image)

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“HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS TO JAPAN” BOOK TOUR
Arudou Debito will be traveling around Japan during the latter half of March 2008 to promote his co-authored new book. If you’d like him to drop by your area for a speech, please be in touch with him at debito@debito.org. (This way travel expenses are minimalized for everyone.)

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

March 15-23, Tokyo/Tohoku area.
Sat March 15 7PM FRANCA Speech Sendai Fukushi Plaza #2 Kenkyuushitsu) (FIXED)
Sun March 16 5PM National Union of General Workers Tokyo Nambu HQ, Shinbashi, Tokyo (FIXED)
Mon March 17 Roppongi Bar Association (being finalized)
Tues March 18 6:30-8:30 PM, Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, Tokyo BOOK BREAK (FIXED)
Weds March 19, 7:30-9:30 PM Amnesty International Tokyo Group 78 Meeting (FIXED)
Fri March 21, 7PM, An evening with Debito, Kamesei Ryokan, Nagano (FIXED)
Sat March 22 Noon Lunch with Debito, Kamesei Ryokan, Nagano, Sponsored by 千曲(ちくま)市国際交流協会 (FIXED)
Sun March 23 6:30 PM Good Day Books Tokyo Ebisu (FIXED)

March 24-April 1, Kansai/Chubu area.
Tues March 25, FRANCA Speech Osaka (being finalized)
Thurs March 27, Speech at Shiga University (FIXED)
Fri March 28 Speech in JALT Kobe 5PM (FIXED)
Sat March 29, afternoon, Speech in Wakayama (being finalized)
Sat March 29, evening, Speech for JALT Osaka (FIXED)
Sun March 30, Speech at JALT Okayama 2-4 PM (FIXED)
Tues April 1, Speech in Fukuoka (being finalized)

Due back in Sapporo by April 2, so three weeks on the road. Interested? Please drop him a line at debito@debito.org
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More information on the contents of the book at
http://www.debito.org/?page_id=582

See you at one of the venues! Please consider buying a book? Thanks for reading. Arudou Debito in Tokyo
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 14, 2008

Hi All. I’m going to be in Tokyo this weekend putting the final touches on our new book, HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS TO JAPAN (not to mention a March nationwide book tour, to Sendai, Tokyo, Nagano, Osaka, Kobe, Okayama, and Fukuoka; details at http://www.debito.org/?page_id=582). Hence I’d better put this newsletter out now:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 14, 2008

Contents as follows:
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JUSTICE SERVED, JUSTICE DENIED

1) Moharekar Case: Parents raise questions about baby’s death to Sapporo’s Tenshi Hospital
2) Matthew Lacey Case: Fukuoka police dismiss NJ death by blow to the head as “dehydration” (Yomiuri & Japan Times)
3) Mainichi: Chinese Trainees wage successful back-wage lawsuit against strawberry farm
4) Sankei compares NJ computer operators with toxic Chinese gyouza
5) Update on Valentine Lawsuit High Court Appeal
6) Idubor Case: A conversation with Mrs Idubor about life in Japan, and letters from Mr Idubor from prison specially for Debito.org

ISSUES OF BORDERS AND EFFECTS OF FOREIGN INFLUX

7) Asahi on how the GOJ doesn’t recognize NJ schools for tax funding, and why they should
8) Kyodo on USG pressure on Japan to do more fingerprinting
9) “Japanese Only” sign in Tsukiji Fish Market
10) Japan Times on Tsukiji’s tamping down on tourism
11) Alex Kerr on being a “Yokoso Ambassador” for the GOJ
12) DPJ at odds with itself over NJ voting rights

SPEECHES, PODCASTS, TV SPOTS, AND A BOOK TOUR

13) Italian TV SKY TG 24 on the Sapporo Snow Festival… and racial discrimination in Japan
14) January 22, 2008 speech to Waseda’s Global Institute for Asian Regional Integration, podcast and soundfiles in full
15) HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS on sale March 15, Japan Book Tour March 15 to April 1…

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

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JUSTICE SERVED, JUSTICE DENIED
1) Moharekar Case: Parents raise questions about baby’s death in Sapporo’s Tenshi Hospital

Two Indian doctorate researchers at Hokudai, Drs Moharekar, were to have a baby at Tenshi Hospital, Sapporo. However, in August 2007 the baby was stillborn, due to a long-undiagnosed congenital heart defect (which somehow escaped the notice of one doctor, but not another at Tenshi, nor a doctor back in India). Asking questions about the oversight, the Moharekars say the hospital said the hospital treated them badly, refused to listen to “complaints”, harassed them linguistically, did not avail them of their allegedly misdiagnosing doctor, and even charged them money to meet with the hospital director for an explanation. The Moharekars hope to get a fuller explanation in writing, so that “this kind of mental harassment and problems will not happen in future again with anybody” at Tenshi Hospital…
http://www.debito.org/?p=1286

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2) Matthew Lacey Case: Fukuoka police dismiss NJ death by blow to the head as “dehydration” (Yomiuri & Japan Times)

Here are two articles about a mysterious death of a NJ, found dead in his apartment 3 1/2 years ago, deemed not a product of foul play by Fukuoka police (with no autopsy performed). An autopsy overseas revealed the cause of death to be a blow to the head. The Japan Times took the case up a full year ago, but no ripples. Now, thanks to the tenacity of the deceased’s brother, even the Yomiuri is taking it up. Yes, even the Yomiuri. Is this yet another case of when it’s a crime against a foreigner, the J police don’t bother with it?
http://www.debito.org/?p=1204

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3) Wage dispute between Chinese Trainees and Tochigi strawberry farm

Mainichi: “A dispute has erupted between a group of Chinese apprentices and strawberry farms in Japan after one farm sacked a group of students and tried to force them to leave the country… The strawberry farms, located in the Tochigi Prefecture towns of Tsuga, Haga and Ninomiya, paid the apprentices only 500 yen an hour, which was below the prefecture’s minimum hourly wage of about 670 yen. The workers union is demanding that the unpaid wages be given to the students and that the five who were sacked be reinstated.”
http://www.debito.org/?p=1018

Chinese Trainees awarded big after taking exploitative strawberry farm to court

Mainichi: “A group of strawberry farmers will have to pay a combined 30 million yen in unpaid and overtime wages, and reinstate five Chinese trainees who were unfairly dismissed after losing a class action suit brought against them by their employees.” Great precedent set against exploitation of NJ “guest labor”…
http://www.debito.org/?p=1221

Speaking of Chinese…

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4) Sankei snipes at Chinese workers, comparing Pension System temp inputters with toxic gyouza

Get a load of this. The Sankei trowels on the insinuations–by comparing the Chinese gyouza poisonings with Chinese temps inputting data into the troubled Japanese pension system. As if letting in Chinese workers to do a Japanese’s work is like letting in toxic gyouza. Whatta headline. True colors disguised as wry humor by the good ol’ Sankei Shinbun. Somebody reel in the editor…
http://www.debito.org/?p=1207

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5) Valentine Lawsuit Hearing Feb 12, 2008 1:30PM

Mr. Valentine, a Nigerian national, is defending himself against the Tokyo Metropolitan Government after an alleged police beating incident in Shinjuku almost 4 years ago. This is an appeal, as the District Court not only exonerated the NPA for refusing Valentine medical treatment for his broken leg for the duration of his interrogation (which resulted him in becoming crippled for life), but also did so on such spurious grounds as ignoring expert medical testimony of the degree of injury, and dismissed an eyewitness because he is a black person. His latest High Court appeal was Tues Feb 12, 2008. Links to information sites, a Japan Times article, and his support group at
http://www.debito.org/?p=1215

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6) A conversation with Mrs Idubor re her husband’s incarceration:
The Idubor Case: Life is tough when you feel the police are out to get you

This is an account of a conversation with Mrs. Idubor, wife of Osayuwamen “Yuyu” Idubor, the Nigerian recently sentenced to three years for rape despite no material evidence; what it means in the bigger picture when anybody can finger you for a crime and get you sent down the pan. Some discussion on how foreigners are in a particularly weak position in Japan vis-a-vis the Japanese criminal justice system at
http://www.debito.org/?p=1202

Complete letters from prison, written by Yuyu Idubor specially for Debito.org, describing in his words what happened. Three parts, starting from
http://www.debito.org/?p=1199

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ISSUES OF BORDERS AND FOREIGN INFLUX

7) Asahi Watashi no Shiten: Schools for NJ children deserve GOJ support

Sato Nobuyuki in the Asahi: “The government does not recognize schools for foreigners as regular schools that provide general education. Therefore, they do not receive any government subsidies. Most of the schools are supported by donations from fellow countrymen. While donations to European and American schools are now tax-exempt, the same rule does not apply to North and South Korean and Chinese schools, which are also categorized as kakushu gakko (miscellaneous schools)… I believe there are few countries in the world like Japan where foreign schools are at a disadvantage compared with regular schools. As Japan is about to become a “multinational, multiracial and multicultural” society, it is time we break away from “national education” and switch to “multiracial and multicultural symbiotic education.”
http://www.debito.org/?p=1020

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8) Japan Today/Kyodo on US pressure re Japan’s NJ fingerprinting

Kyodo: “A U.S. Homeland Security Department official voiced hope Tuesday that the Japanese government will start sometime in the future to take the fingerprints of all 10 fingers of each foreign visitor to step up accuracy of the screening system at immigration.” Why is the US so concerned about how other countries fingerprint, especially since Japan’s already doing far more biometric border control than average? Lobbying for Accenture?
http://www.debito.org/?p=1213

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9) “Japanese Only” sign in Tsukiji Fish Market

Here’s a sign I received a couple of weeks ago (sans address) from a friend in the Kansai: “JAPANESE PeoPle ONLY” outside a Tsukiji restaurant, along with a litany (in Japanese) of what kind of food appreciation they expect from their customers. How urusai. Problem is, by just flat-out refusing NJ customers, the restaurant wound up insinuating that NJ cannot have this degree of food appreciation, or can follow the rules. My putting this sign up on Debito.org without calling the restaurant to confirm (heck, I didn’t know where it was, and asked for help) caused ruction in the blogosphere; inter alia, mostly-anonymous posters accused me of “concealing” information because I didn’t translate the Japanese on the sign (as if Japanese is some kind of secret code). They also somehow reasoned that the rules in Japanese somehow mitigated the blanket exclusion of NJ written in English (“J culture, foreigners are guests, shopowners can choose their customers”, yada yada yada). They tracked down the restaurant (ironically refusing to divulge its whereabouts to Debito.org, speaking of concealment), and wound up, they say, getting the sign down. Anyway, bravo. Let’s hope they’re this active towards the next exclusionary sign…
http://www.debito.org/?p=1210

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10) Speaking of Tsukiji and tourism… Japan Times on new rules to limit tourists

Japan Times: “The Tsukiji Fish Market, one of the capital’s most popular and well-known tourist draws, adopted rules urging visitors to voluntarily “refrain from coming,” because of sanitation concerns and the disruptions they pose to the auction business…. The plan is to reduce — but not cut off — the number of onlookers. After being promoted in recent years as a tourist site, Tsukiji now finds itself the victim of its own success: So many visitors flock to the gigantic fish market each day that they are endangering its sanitation and interfering with business…”
http://www.debito.org/?p=1212

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11) Alex Kerr on being a “Yokoso Ambassador” for the GOJ

Based upon a recent Japan Times article, Alex Kerr, author of DOGS AND DEMONS and famous social commentator, has been chosen as a GOJ tourism representative. The Community interest group questioned whether one of Japan’s fiercest social critics of devastating porkbarrel and GOJ excess had in some way “sold out”. Alex was kind enough to answer them specially for Debito.org…
http://www.debito.org/?p=1206

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12) Japan Today: DPJ at odds with itself over PR Suffrage

Never mind the political tea-leafing about DPJ trying to split New Komeito off from the LDP by using NJ as a wedge. 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; 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…
http://www.debito.org/?p=1203

Alas, according to Japan Probe, the latest is that this bill is unlikely to pass…
http://www.japanprobe.com/?p=3764

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SPEECHES, PODCASTS, AND TV SPOTS

13) Italian TV SKY TG24 on Sapporo Yuki Matsuri… and racial discrimination in Japan

Italian channel SKY TG24 interviewed me regarding the Otaru Lawsuit, racial discrimination, and life in Japan as a naturalized Japanese citizen, with the 59th Sapporo Snow Festival as a backdrop. Broadcast nationwide in Italy on February 9, 2008, it’s up on Debito.org visible as a .mov file. Although the entire 8 1/2 (no connection to Fellini) minute broadcast is, naturally, entirely in Italian (I felt like Clint Eastwood in reverse, dubbed back under Sergio Leone’s direction), you can still get the flavor of the matsuri and an inkling of one perspective in Japan. They even got an associate of the Mayor of Sapporo, a Mr Nakata (whom I’ve known in Sapporo since 1987!), to say for the record that the issue of racial discrimination is a thing of the past and solved. Any Italian speakers out there want to translate the show?
http://www.debito.org/?p=1219

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14) January 22, 2008 Waseda speech podcast downloadable in full

I spoke at Waseda University’s Global Institute for Asian Regional Integration (GIARI) on January 22, 2008. I was joined by Kawakami Sonoko, of Amnesty International Japan, and Katsuma Yasushi, Associate Professor at Waseda specializing in international human rights. The sound files (two were Trans Pacific Radio podcasts) are available below in four parts. Part One offers the first 25 minutes of the proceedings (the first couple of minutes were cut off), with my presentation. I talk about how Japan has brought in foreign laborers for economic reasons and not taken care of them. I also allude to the huge growth in Permanent Residents (the surest indicator of real immigration), and how with its lack of a clear policy towards migration, Japan’s economy is the only one of the rich countries to have shrunk overall on average in the past ten years… Parts two and three offer comments from other discussants. And part four offers the Q and A session, where I come up with an idea for the first time about Academic Social Responsibility…
http://www.debito.org/?p=1224

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

15) HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, IMMIGRANTS, AND MIGRANTS TO JAPAN
ON SALE FROM MARCH 15, 2008

BOOK TOUR MARCH 15-APRIL 1, 2008 will visit Sendai, Tokyo (FCCJ and Good Day Books), Nagano, Shiga, Osaka, Kobe, Okayama, and Fukuoka.

Yes, this is a book (co-authored with Akira Higuchi, Legal Scrivener) in English and Japanese, with tips on how you can make a stable life in Japan–from entry visa to planning your Will and funeral in Japan. Published by Akashi Shoten, I’ll be putting the last dabs on the paint this weekend in Tokyo.

An independent announcement is forthcoming, but full details about the book contents and tour dates are already available online at
http://www.debito.org/?page_id=582

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

Thanks as always for reading!
Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
Daily Blog updates with RSS at http://www.debito.org/index.php
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 14, 2008 ENDS

Moharekar Case: Parents raise questions about baby’s death to Sapporo’s Tenshi Hospital

(revised February 14, 2008 at the Moharekar’s request)

Hi Blog. Here’s a sad tale about the death of a baby while in the womb, and the unsatisfactory explanation, as far as the parents are concerned, given by a Sapporo medical care facility named Tenshi Hospital about what happened.

Dr. Shubhangi MOHAREKAR and her husband Sanjay, Indian citizens who have been doctorate researchers at Hokkaido University for 9.5 years and 6 years respectively, were expecting to have their second child in Sapporo’s Tenshi Hospital (Sapporo-shi Higashi-ku Kita 12 Higashi 3 1-1, phone 011-711-0101).

Up until 11th July 2007, their attendant doctor at Tenshi Hospital, a Dr, Oh-ishi, did not find any abnormality in the fetus. However, just 5 days later, i.e. on 17th July 2007, another doctor, Dr. Watari found abnormalities–the baby had congenital heart disease. On August 1, 2007, their child died in the womb. It was stillborn, despite repeated reassurances of fetal health from Dr Oh-ishi.

I’ll let the Moharekars tell their own story in scans below, but they say the basis of their dissatisfaction is: 1) insufficient diagnosis and prenatal care by the Gynecology Department of Tenshi Hospital of their child’s condition from the start, 2) a sudden, unexplained change in the diagnosis of the fetus when the mother detected a change in its life signs, and 3) the ill-treatment from Tenshi Hospital they say they suffered after the stillbirth. Not only did they feel they were rebuffed by the head of the gynecology department of hospital, a Dr Yoshida (who hitherto spoke good English, but allegedly got upset at them and demanded they speak Japanese properly), they were told the hospital would not accept complaints–-and even charged them 210 yen after the death just to get an explanatory meeting with hospital director, a Dr Tsujisaki!

For the record, the Moharekars are not after money or damages (they would of course prefer their 210 yen got refunded). They just want a full and proper explanation in writing from Tenshi for this apparent misdiagnosis. Not rebuffs and rudeness. They have never been able to meet Dr Oh-ishi again (she has apparently been transferred to another hospital).

The Moharekars consider Gynecology Department of Tenshi Hospital to be negligent and irresponsible. They want to make sure that what they consider to be mental harassment will not happen to anyone else. The Moharekars are also aware that baby having congenital heart disease is not the hospital’s fault and impossible to change the situation anyhow, but this kind of problem could have been detected earlier using 3D/4D sonography. Early detection could have prepared the family for the emotional strain, expense, and logistical problems of surgery on the newborn.

I have met them, and they said they may be contacted at their email address, included in page one of their letter below.

Evidence follows. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

LETTER OF COMPLAINT TO TENSHI HOSPITAL, DATED OCTOBER 24 2007. PAGE ONE OF TWO.
moharekar001.jpg
PAGE TWO OF TWO.
moharekar002.jpg
THE LETTER IS SIGNED AT THE BOTTOM BY TENSHI HOSPITAL DIRECTOR, DR TSUJISAKI, CERTIFIED AS WITNESSED.

HOSPITAL CHARTS INDICATING ALL LIFE SIGNS WERE NORMAL FOR SEVERAL MONTHS UNDER DR. OH-ISHI. NO HEART DEFECT DETECTED.
moharekar003.jpg

DOCUMENT FROM TENSHI HOSPITAL WITH DIAGNOSIS OF HEART DEFECT, ACCORDING TO A DIFFERENT DOCTOR, DR WATARI.
moharekar004.jpg

LETTER FROM ATTENDANT HOSPITAL IN INDIA WITH RESULTS OF PHYSICAL EXAMINATION, SHORTLY BEFORE FETUS’S DEATH. HEART DEFECT DETECTED.
moharekar005.jpg

EXPLANATION FROM DR TSUJISAKI, PAGE ONE OF TWO.
moharekar006.jpg
PAGE TWO OF TWO.
moharekar007.jpg

BILL FROM THE HOSPITAL OF 210 YEN FOR A POSTMORTEM EXPLANATION FROM HOSPITAL DIRECTOR DR TSUJISAKI:
moharekar008.jpg
ENDS

January 22, 2008 Waseda speech podcast downloadable in full

Hi Blog. I spoke at Waseda University’s Global Institute for Asian Regional Integration (GIARI) on January 22, 2008. Speech topic here. I was joined by Kawakami Sonoko, of Amnesty International Japan, and Katsuma Yasushi, Associate Professor at Waseda specializing in international human rights. The sound files (two were podcasts) are available below in four parts.

Part One offers the first 25 minutes of the proceedings (the first couple of minutes were cut off), with my presentation. I talk about how Japan has brought in foreign laborers for economic reasons and not taken care of them. I also allude to the huge growth in Permanent Residents (the surest indicator of real immigration), and how with its lack of a clear policy towards migration, Japan’s economy is the only one of the rich countries to have shrunk overall on average in the past ten years. I make the case that Japan in fact needs immigration, while stampeding breathlessly through a measly alloted twenty minutes (gripe, gripe).

You can download Part One as an mp3 file here. It was also featured as a podcast on Trans Pacific Radio.

You can follow my powerpoint presentation by downloading it here and also read is here.

Part Three, offering comments from Katsuma-sensei, is here.

Part Four, offering Q&A from the audience for the first two-thirds, then responses from Kawakami-san and yours truly, is here. Within it I make the case (for the first time) for Academic Social Responsibility. Part Four was also a podcast on Trans Pacific Radio.

The sound quality is as good as we can make it. Thanks for listening. Arudou Debito

Mainichi: Chinese Trainees awarded big after taking exploitative strawberry farm to court

Hi Blog. Update to an earlier story on this blog. Good news about Strawberry Fields. You know the place where justice got real…

Congrats to the Trainees who didn’t just go home like good little disenfranchised Guest Workers, and managed to get the Japanese judiciary to establish deterrents to exploitative employers. Arudou Debito

============================
Employees win suit against Tochigi farms for unpaid wages, unfair dismissals
Mainichi Shinbun February 11, 2008
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/national/news/20080211p2a00m0na009000c.html
Courtesy of Ben Shearon

TSUGA, Tochigi — A group of strawberry farmers will have to pay a combined 30 million yen in unpaid and overtime wages, and reinstate five Chinese trainees who were unfairly dismissed after losing a class action suit brought against them by their employees.

The farmers have also acknowledged that they took away some of the trainees’ passports and forced them to save their wages: which, if proved, would constitute an illegal act, barring the farmers from accepting future trainees, according to the Ministry of Justice.

The trouble began when the Choboen strawberry farm in Tsuga dismissed five Chinese trainees in December last year because of a poor harvest, and attempted to force them to go back to their home country.

The five joined 10 trainees at six other strawberry farms in demanding 52.25 million yen in unpaid wages and overtime allowances over the past three years.

The owners of the seven farms have apologized for forcing the trainees to work for long hours and paying overtime allowances below the legal minimum. They agreed to pay a total of about 30 million yen to the 15, and Choboen retracted its dismissals.
(Mainichi Japan) February 11, 2008
ENDS

毎日:イチゴ農園が解決金3000万円 栃木

ブログの読者、以前取りあげたトピックスをアップデートを載せます。有道 出人

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

中国人解雇:イチゴ農園が解決金3000万円 栃木
毎日新聞 2008年2月11日 2時30分 http://mainichi.jp/select/wadai/news/20080211k0000m040115000c.html

 栃木県のイチゴ農園が不作を理由に中国人技能実習生を解雇し、トラブルになっていた問題は、農家7軒が約3000万円の解決金を実習生計15人に支払うことで合意した。農家側は謝罪し、解雇を撤回した。

 同県都賀町のイチゴ農園「長苺(ちょうぼ)園」の実習生5人が昨年12月解雇され、無理やり帰国させられそうになったことからトラブルになった。5人は他の6農園の実習生10人と合流し、残業代など3年分の未払い賃金約5225万円を要求していた。

 農家側弁護士によると、最低賃金を下回る残業代だったことや、長時間労働を認めて謝罪。解決金として約3000万円を支払うことで合意した。

 農家側はこのほかに、パスポートを取り上げたり、貯金を強制したりするなどの行為があったことも認めている。法務省は「事実が確認できれば不正行為に該当し、受け入れ停止などの処分対象となる」と話している。【宮川裕章】

毎日新聞 2008年2月11日 2時30分
ENDS

Italian TV SKY TG24 on Sapporo Yuki Matsuri… and racial discrimination in Japan

Hello Blog. Here’s a pleasant surprise… Pio d’Emilia of Italian channel SKY TG24 interviewed me last week regarding the Otaru Onsens Lawsuit, racial discrimination, and life in Japan as a naturalized Japanese citizen, with the 59th Sapporo Snow Festival as a backdrop. Broadcast nationwide in Italy on February 9, 2008.

Although the entire 8 1/2 (no connection to Fellini) minute broadcast is, naturally, entirely in Italian (I felt like Clint Eastwood in reverse, dubbed back under Sergio Leone’s direction), you can still get the flavor of the matsuri and an inkling of one perspective in Japan. They even got an associate of the Mayor of Sapporo, a Mr Nakata (whom I’ve known in Sapporo since 1987!), to say for the record that the issue of racial discrimination is a thing of the past and solved! Not likely.

It’s a fat file, but download it from
http://www.debito.org/hokkaido_invio.mov

Enjoy! Transcript follows, translated by Emanuele Granatello. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

It took 3000 m3 of snow, 385 trucks and more than 3000 people to realize this huge snow sculpture dedicated to ancient Egypt`s splendours.

This year Yuki Matsuri, the “Snow Festival”, has been dedicated to culture and friendship with the African Continent, and this is the statue launching the festival.

We are in Sapporo, capital city of Hokkaido island, the northernmost Japanese region. In the past this place had been inhabited by Ainu, a people of caucasian origin, now almost extinct because of various vicissitudes and, above all, because of a still existing discrimination problem.

The Snow Festival involves all the city of Sapporo, from Odori Central Park, where the gigantic snow structures are realized, to Susukino mall, where the competition for the best ice sculpture is held, and Satorando, located at city doors, where sport and entertainment events are held.

This year, 59th edition, the greatest attractions are the White Labyrinth, and this free, open to everybody breathtaking kamikaze-style rubber dinghy slide.

The Festival was born in 1950, from the idea of some Sapporo boys who, accused by teachers and parents to not know how to use their time, began to make big snowmen throughout the city, the festival grew year by year until it became an international event that in 2008 will attract more than 2 million people, as many as Sapporo`s inhabitants.

The City of Sapporo is modern and organized to the point that, because of the huge amount of snow covering her for 6 months a year, Municipality and Citizens have made a quite original agreement: Municipality will keep roads clean, while citizens will plough the sidewalk. However this is not a binding agreement, nor fines are provided for, so the result is that every now and so sidewalks are ice covered, thus causing many accidents and forcing people to walk very carefully.

Obviously, the main characters of the Event are children. Not only Sapporo and Hokkaido`s schools come to the Festival, but also of many other schools scattered across the archipelago. Moreover, many families use one of the many extended holidays they get in this period, to go to see, maybe for the first time, snow. This kid, committed in her first reportage, comes from Shikoku island, more 1000 km from here.

It`s her first time on the snow.

“For what TV are you working for?”

“For my mom, we were coming together, but suddenly she had some problems at work.” “So?”

“So I came with granny, she`s got a camera, and we decided to do a nice reportage, so mom won`t miss a thing”.

In July in Hokkaido will be held the G8 summit, dedicated this time to global warming.

This is the huge statue that Sapporo`s boys, helped by army, have built for the summit. The Earth is hugged by children surrounded by animals and architectural symbols of participating nations. Tower of Pisa has been chosen for Italy.

The 8 heads of state will meet on the shores of Toya Lake, one hour by car from Sapporo, and if on a side there are big expectations for the advertisement the island will receive from the event, there are also many worries, says Hiroyuki Nakata, Sapporo`s vice-mayor.

Arudou Debito, 42, from California, [20] years ago after marrying a Japanese woman and settling in Sapporo, obtained Japanese citizenship. He teaches Information Science at Sapporo University

Since then he has been fighting a long and difficult battle against a society suspicious and sometimes cruel towards diversity, be it real or perceived.

“Arudou, could you tell us briefly the story that made you somehow famous?

“It`s quite simple. On a 1999 day I went with my family to onsen, Japanese-style spa. But the manager turned me away. < > he said.

The funny part is that even after showing him my Japanese passport he refused letting me enter. < > he told me. I did a very long lawsuit to be in the right, but he didn`t give up. Instead of letting me in after the verdict, he preferred to close the shop. [NB: This is inaccurate. This refers to another sento in Wakkanai. I think there might have been an edit here.]

About this incident Arudou also wrote a book, and he is always trying to change the mind of a people that has just begun to deal with the idea of multi ethnicity and with the fact that there could be white and black Japanese citizens as well.

While I was interviewing him, a group of kids approached us. Their teacher sent them hunting for foreigners signs.

“We are from Sapporo`s Elementary School, can we have your signature?”

“What do you need it for?”

“We have been told to gather foreigners`s signs”.

“Oh really? Do you know that I am not a foreigner? Yes, I am white, but I am a Japanese like you.”

“Can you sign anyway”?

Government officially denies the presence of ethnic minorities in Japan, but what`s the real situation? “So who I am? I also represent an ethnic minority. A white-skinned Japanese man. Japan must put up with multi ethnicity idea. They must put up with the fact there are now one million of naturalized foreigners and hundred of thousands people living here legally, with the right to not being inflicted any kind of discrimination. They are not guests, but citizens.

“For example when they search for a house?”

“Exactly, there are a lot of land agencies specifying they won`t accept pets or foreigners. Would you believe it? We are being considered like animals. In some cases discrimination is more specific. No Chinese, but no problem if you are American or European. Sure, in every country you have that kind of discrimination, but it happen offstage. Here everything is done in broad daylight, there is not any law that forbidding and sanctioning that kind of behaviour.”

“A binding question: why are you doing it? Why did you become a Japanese citizen defying the Empire and its laws?”

“Lots of people ask me that. It`s because I love this country. It is beautiful, amazing places, fantastic food. It`s just because I decided to live here that I want to contribute to make life easier”.

“Rolan Barthes” in his unsurpassed essay about Japan `Empire of Signs`, defined this country a labyrinth, but sure he didn`t mean to make any reference to foreigners, but to the Japanese people. According to the Japanese man Arudou Debito, what`s the recipe to decipher this labyrinth?”

“Trial and error. You take a road and find a wall, take another one and crash against another wall, until you learn to recognize walls and realize that they are not impossible to pass after all. It`s my recipe for life.”

ENDS

朝日:外国人研修生、ブローカー介在禁止に 法務省 MOJ: Brokers to be banned for NJ Trainees

Hi Blog. No time to translate today. Some good news–the practice of using so-called “Brokers” for Foreign Trainee workers (who have no rights under labor law, as they’re only Trainees, and are thus quite easily exploited) are to be banned by the GOJ. So announces the MOJ in this article from the Asahi. Not an elixir, but a step in the right direction.

More on the problems with Brokers here. Debito

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

外国人研修生、ブローカー介在禁止に 法務省
朝日新聞 2007年12月25日09時50分
http://www.asahi.com/politics/update/1224/TKY200712240151.html

 外国人に日本の企業で知識や技術を身につけてもらう外国人研修・技能実習制度について、法務省は、受け入れ機関などに対して示している運用の指針を初めて改定する。制度は、安上がりな労働力の確保に利用されるなど、本来の狙いからかけ離れた運用が横行しているのが実情。このため、ブローカーを介在した受け入れを明確に禁止するなど改善を図る。

 研修・実習生は現在16万人。商工会や中小企業団体などが受け入れ機関となり、紹介を受けた企業などが最長3年の研修・実習を行う。だが、法務省が06年に「不正行為があった」と認定した機関は229機関と過去最多に。失踪(しっそう)する研修・実習生も増加し、同年は2201人に上った。

 同省が改定するのは、「研修生及び技能実習生の入国・在留管理に関する指針」(99年策定)。これまでは抽象的に表現されていた「留意事項」や「不正行為」を具体的に列挙することにした。

 受け入れ機関に対しては、研修先の企業を「労働力不足の解消」といった広告で募集することを禁止。商工会などの機関が名目だけの受け入れ機関になってブローカーに「丸投げ」し、ブローカーが不当に利益を得るのを防ぐ目的から「公的性格を有する機関が名目のみの受け入れ機関になり、実質は他の機関が研修を行うこと」を禁止項目として明記した。

 また、海外の派遣機関が、研修・実習生から法外な保証金を取っているケースがあることを踏まえ、「徴収が判明した場合、その派遣機関からの受け入れを取りやめる」ことも盛り込んだ。

 研修・実習生を保護するため、受け入れ機関に「失踪防止」を理由に宿舎からの外出を禁止する▽希望の有無にかかわらず旅券や通帳を預かる▽所定時間以外の作業を強要する——ことなどを不正行為として明記。違反すれば3年間、新規の研修・実習生の受け入れを認めないこととした。

 同省は年内にも公表し、年明けから各機関に説明を始める予定だ。
ENDS

Next Valentine Lawsuit Hearing Feb 12, 2008 1:30PM

【 Supporters wanted! 】

Mr. Valentine, a Nigerian national, is defending himself against the Tokyo Metropolitan Government after a police beating incident which took place in Shinjuku almost 4 years ago. This is an appeal, as the District Court not only exonerated the NPA for refusing him medical treatment for his broken leg for the duration of his interrogation (which resulted him in becoming crippled for life), but also did so on such spurious grounds as ignoring expert medical testimony of the degree of injury, and dismissed testimony because it came from a black person.

More in the Japan Times, August 14, 2007.

At the last trial, the judge did not close the case. Many thanks to the audience (more than 50 people sat in the public seats) who watched the trial so closely. And now the date for the 4th trial has been set. We are asking for your support, especially your participation in this upcoming hearing at Tokyo high court. Please help him to get justice.

The 4th Appeal Tribunal Trial schedule: Tuesday, February 12 2008

Court opens at: 13:30

At Tokyo High Court / Court Room Number 808

Court appellant: Mr. Valentine U.C. < case number " (NE) 2429th of 2007" >

This time, tickets to attend the trial will be distributed between 12:50 and 13:10 near the main entrance of the court (right side).Then a lottery by computer will take place. 40 people who win the lottery can attend the trial.

Access : “Kasumigaseki station” on Tokyo Metro Marunouchi line, Hibiya line or Chiyoda line. A1 exit, 1 minute walk. Or “Sakuradamon station” on Tokyo Metro Yuurakuchou line, No. 5 exit, 3 minute walk.

homepage: http://sky.geocities.jp/team_vuc/

Hope to see you there!

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

『支援会Aさんよりメッセージ』

みなさま、以下の文章は一例です。
3連休のためもう間に合わないとしても、火曜日の朝に大量のFAXが届いているのを大使館員の皆さんが目にしてくれたら、少しは何か感じてくれるかもしれません。
私は、03-5425-8016と03-5425-8021の両方のFAX番号にFAXを送りました。
もし、FAXを送ることに賛同できる・・・という方は、どうかよろしくお願いします。

☆在日ナイジェリア連邦共和国大使館
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Japan

Fax : 03-5425-8016 / 03-5425-8021 / 03-5425-8022
(emailでしたら consular@nigeriaembassy.jp です)

これより以下は、文章例です。

〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓

(英語要請文の参考例 その1)

                              February9th, 2008

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Japan

I STRONGLY ASK FOR YOUR ATTENDANCE FOR AN APPEAL HEARING OF MR.VALENTINE’S TRIAL

Dear Mr.Yahaya Tabari Zaria,

I really thank you very much for reading my sudden message that I
asked for your attendance for a Nigerian, Mr Valentine’s upcoming
appeal hearing on Tuesday, 13:30pm February 12nd 2008 at Tokyo High
Court room 808.

Before his last appeal on November 20th, 2007, Mr.Valentine submitted
an application letter that requests attendance of embassy officers for
the hearing, however regret to say, no officers attend the hearing at
all. It was very disappointed not only for Mr.Valentine but all his
friends and supporters who concern very much.

This time also, Mr.Valentine has submitted an application again to
ask you and your officers for attending the hearing and support him.

Your attendance will help him very much, and same time this will be
great help not only for him but also for all Nigerians living in Japan
to improve their human rights in Japan, furthermore it can say to
tighten good relationship between Nigeria and Japan.

Your attendance will be highly appreciated.

Thank you very much.

Yours Sincerely,

Midori KIKUCHI

Representative
( )

Tel:

Email

Valentine Trial Support Group

http://sky.geocities.jp/team_vuc/
ENDS

バレンタイン氏の国賠訴訟控訴証人喚問2月12日開催

【2月12日、裁判傍聴に来てください!】

この弁論で、新たな証人喚問をしてもらえるかどうかが決まります。
一人でも多くの人のご参加をお願いいたします。

ナイジェリア国籍のバレンタインさんは、新宿歌舞伎町で私服警察官に不当な暴力を振るわれ、障害が残るほどの怪我を負いました。

バレンタインさんは東京都に対し国賠訴訟を起こしましたが、昨年3月「歌舞伎町黒人コミュニティーの仲間である同国人の証人証言を、そのまま信用することは到底できない。」などの理由により敗訴。また、東京警察病院は「受診カルテを紛失した」とし、初診の際のカルテを開示しませんでした。

バレンタインさんは現在控訴中ですが、前回の第3回弁論では法廷に入りきれないほどの50名以上の方がご参加くださり、熱心な弁護団の先生方と皆さんのお陰により結審せず、第4回弁論につなげることができました。
しかし、時間もあまり残されておらず、次の弁論が正念場でもあります。

東京高等裁判所が公正な裁判を進め、法廷で真実が明らかにされるよう、多くの方々の傍聴参加をお願いします!

■ 【第4回・控訴審弁論日程】 ■

今回の裁判は、傍聴券交付となります。
(無料。誰でも傍聴できます。)

当日は、12時50分から、東京高等裁判所正面玄関の右側入口付近にて傍聴券交付手続きがおこなわれる予定です。締切り時間は13時10分までです。

●控訴人バレンタインさんの事件名 「平成19年(ネ)第2429号 」

●平成20年2月12日(火)13時半 開廷

●場所:東京高等裁判所 8階 808号法廷

東京高等裁判所は、東京地方裁判所と同じ合同庁舎内
〒100-8920 千代田区霞が関1−1−4
地下鉄丸の内線・日比谷線千代田線 「霞が関駅」A1出口徒歩1分,
または、
有楽町線 「桜田門駅」5番出口徒歩約3分

当日の交付手続きに関しては、直前に裁判所HPなどで発表されます。
傍聴希望者が少ない場合は、傍聴券交付手続き締切り後でも法廷に入れますので、間に合わなかった方も、808号法廷の隣の待合室までおこしください。

交付手続き以外の、申込の必要や、入口でどこの法廷に行くかなどの届出は不要です。
(ただし、裁判所の中に入る際、持物検査があります。)
早く来られた方は、隣接の待合室でお待ち下さい。
他の支援者の方々も同じようにそこで待っています。

傍聴券交付が行われる裁判についての掲示はこちら
(ただし、2月5日時点で未掲載)
http://www.courts.go.jp/search/jbsp0010?crtName=6

詳しい裁判傍聴案内はこちら
http://www.courts.go.jp/kengaku/

■ 支援会のホームページ http://sky.geocities.jp/team_vuc/

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

『支援会Aさんよりメッセージ』

みなさま、以下の文章は一例です。
3連休のためもう間に合わないとしても、火曜日の朝に大量のFAXが届いているのを大使館員の皆さんが目にしてくれたら、少しは何か感じてくれるかもしれません。
私は、03-5425-8016と03-5425-8021の両方のFAX番号にFAXを送りました。
もし、FAXを送ることに賛同できる・・・という方は、どうかよろしくお願いします。

☆在日ナイジェリア連邦共和国大使館
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Japan

Fax : 03-5425-8016 / 03-5425-8021 / 03-5425-8022
(emailでしたら consular@nigeriaembassy.jp です)

これより以下は、文章例です。

〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓〓

(英語要請文の参考例 その1)

                              February9th, 2008

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Japan

I STRONGLY ASK FOR YOUR ATTENDANCE FOR AN APPEAL HEARING OF MR.VALENTINE’S TRIAL

Dear Mr.Yahaya Tabari Zaria,

I really thank you very much for reading my sudden message that I
asked for your attendance for a Nigerian, Mr Valentine’s upcoming
appeal hearing on Tuesday, 13:30pm February 12nd 2008 at Tokyo High
Court room 808.

Before his last appeal on November 20th, 2007, Mr.Valentine submitted
an application letter that requests attendance of embassy officers for
the hearing, however regret to say, no officers attend the hearing at
all. It was very disappointed not only for Mr.Valentine but all his
friends and supporters who concern very much.

This time also, Mr.Valentine has submitted an application again to
ask you and your officers for attending the hearing and support him.

Your attendance will help him very much, and same time this will be
great help not only for him but also for all Nigerians living in Japan
to improve their human rights in Japan, furthermore it can say to
tighten good relationship between Nigeria and Japan.

Your attendance will be highly appreciated.

Thank you very much.

Yours Sincerely,

Representative
( )

Tel:

Email

Valentine Trial Support Group

http://sky.geocities.jp/team_vuc/
ENDS

Japan Today/Kyodo on US pressure re Japan’s NJ fingerprinting

Hi Blog. Thus spake the hegemon:
========================

U.S. official hopes Japan will shift to 10-finger immigration screening
Wednesday, February 6, 2008 at 07:00 EST
http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/427187

TOKYO — A U.S. Homeland Security Department official voiced hope Tuesday that the Japanese government will start sometime in the future to take the fingerprints of all 10 fingers of each foreign visitor to step up accuracy of the screening system at immigration.

Robert Mocny, head of the US-Visit Program of the department, told Kyodo News the U.S. government is “willing to talk with the government of Japan to follow what we’ve done,” referring to the 10-finger system the United States has launched at some airports since November.
ENDS
========================

COMMENT: Once again, the US is sticking their fingers where they don’t belong… I don’t really understand why the US is so concerned about how other countries fingerprint (when Japan is already doing more biometric border control than most countries). The last gasps of a waning administration pulling whatever levers they can before November elections? Or just lobbying for more business for Accenture?

To me, this is just more proof that the NJ Fingerprinting policy in Japan is but a clone of the US’s. For once, I’m in agreement with the likes of Ishihara about a Japan that can say no. Arudou Debito
ENDS

Speaking of Tsukiji and tourism… Japan Times on new rules to limit tourists

Speaking of Tsukiji and tourism…

==========================
Tsukiji looks to curb glut of pesky tourists with new rules
The Japan Times: Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008
By REIJI YOSHIDA Staff writer
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080207a2.html
Courtesy of Ben and Adam

The Tsukiji Fish Market, one of the capital’s most popular and well-known tourist draws, adopted rules urging visitors to voluntarily “refrain from coming,” because of sanitation concerns and the disruptions they pose to the auction business.

To new rules, which were decided on Tuesday, will be introduced in April, according to a document obtained by The Japan Times.

The plan is to reduce — but not cut off — the number of onlookers. After being promoted in recent years as a tourist site [Their official tourist information site here.], Tsukiji now finds itself the victim of its own success: So many visitors flock to the gigantic fish market each day that they are endangering its sanitation and interfering with business, wholesalers and others there say.

Hideji Otsuki, head of the wholesale market in Chuo Ward, said the request is aimed at getting tourists to exercise voluntary restraint.

“The situation won’t drastically change overnight because Tsukiji has become so well-known among (tourists) via the Internet,” Otsuki said in a phone interview. “But we’d like to gradually change the situation by widely advertising the new rules.”

Tourists who arrive unaware of the new rules won’t be kicked out, but ill-mannered ones may be escorted off the premises by security guards, he said.

The decision was adopted by a council comprising representatives from fish wholesalers, drinking and eating establishments in the market, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which operates Tsukiji. No one opposed the new regulations, Otsuki said.

Fish merchants have complained that tourists occasionally try to touch the fish and other seafood, raising sanitation concerns.

During auctions, when buyers are signally by hand, the process can be disrupted by flash-popping photographers.

The new rules will require that all outside visitors submit an application to enter the market in advance. People who come merely for sightseeing will be “asked to refrain from entering,” according to Article 6 of the new rules.

The notes under Article 6, however, explain that visitors who are unaware of the new restrictions will be allowed to enter but will be asked to abide by the new rules, which are expected to be posted.

Taking photos with flash at fish auction sites and smoking except for at designated areas will be prohibited because it may hinder market operations.

Visitors will also be asked not to bring babies, baby strollers or other large baggage, including suitcases, under the new regulations.

According to a note attached to the new regulations, the market will disclaim any liability for accidents that happen inside the market.

The sprawling 24-hour market, surrounded by walls and pocked with several gates, is lightly guarded because an estimated 42,000 people and 19,000 trucks incessantly enter and leave the facility each business day.

The Japan Times: Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008
ENDS

“Japanese Only” sign in Tsukiji Fish Market

Hi Blog. Here’s a sign I received a couple of days ago from a friend in the Kansai. “JAPANESE People ONLY” in a Tsukiji restaurant, along with a litany of what kind of food appreciation they expect from their customers.

How urusai. Problem is, they indicate that NJ cannot have this degree of food appreciation, and so refuse them entirely.

Click on photo to expand in your browser. Anyone want to run down to Tsukiji for me and get a definitive picture of the storefront with the sign? (These things usually need two photos–the sign and the storefront with the sign). And a confirmation of what the name of the restaurant (and the address if possible?) Thanks.
TsukijiJapaneseOnly.jpg

Again, this is what happens when this kind of discrimination is not illegal in this society. More of this genre here. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
ENDS

——————————-

UPDATE FEB 12: Readers at site “Occidentalism.org” contacted the owner of the restaurant and say they got the sign down. Well done. Details (highly critical of Debito.org, mind; ah well) available here.
ENDS

川崎いじめ訴訟で100万円の賠償命令–Ethnically-diverse Japanese bullied in school wins lawsuit

Hi Blog. Been meaning to put this up. About the U Hoden Case, where a Japanese grade schooler with Chinese roots (one parent a naturalized Chinese) was badly bullied–so badly she had PTSD medically diagnosed. Her parents took the bullies to court, and last December, they won! More background on this case here. Their supporters’ website here. Arudou Debito

テレビ神奈川の解説
川崎いじめ訴訟で100万円の賠償命令
07/12/21(金)12:59
小学生時代のいじめが原因でPTSD=心的外傷後ストレス傷害になったとして生徒と両親がいじめた側に損害賠償を求めた裁判の判決で横浜地裁川崎支部はいじめた同級生の両親に100万円の支払いを命じました。
 訴えを起こしていたのは現在、高校1年生の女子生徒とその両親です。
 訴えなどによりますとこの女子生徒は川崎市多摩区の小学3年生だった2000年に同級生2人から暴力を振るわれたり中国人の父と日本人の母を持つことについて「ハーフ」とはやし立てられるなど日常的にいじめを受けていました。
 女子生徒はこのいじめが原因でPTSDになったとしていじめた側に慰謝料を求めていました。
きょうの判決で横浜地裁川崎支部の駒谷孝雄裁判長は「いじめによって受けた精神的苦痛は相当大きい」といじめの違法性を認め、いじめた側の同級生の両親に合わせて100万円の支払いを命じました。
(弁護団のサイトはこちらです。)
asahi122207.tiff

Sankei snipes at Chinese workers, comparing Pension System temp inputters with toxic gyouza

–FIRST OFF, WANT TO THANK ALL THOSE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW FOR TAKING THE TROUBLE TO CORRECT MY POOR TRANSLATION. SORRY. CORRECTING MY BLOG POST PROPERLY TO MATCH. DEBITO

Hi Blog. Get a load of this. The Sankei trowels on the insinuations–by comparing the Chinese gyouza poisonings with Chinese temporary workers inputting data into the troubled Japanese pension system. As if letting in Chinese workers to do a Japanese’s work is like letting in toxic gyouza.

Whatta headline. True colors disguised as wry humor by the good ol’ Sankei Shinbun. Somebody reel in the editor… Arudou Debito

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

IS IT ONLY GYOUZA? ARE FOREIGN TEMP WORKERS AT FAULT FOR RECORDKEEPING MISTAKES WITHIN THE NENKIN PENSION SYSTEM?
Sankei Shinbun January 30, 2008
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/crime/080130/crm0801302223050-n1.htm
Courtesy of C, translated by Arudou Debito and online assistants

On January 29, it became clear at a DPJ General Meeting for Health Welfare and Labor issues that Chinese temporary workers (haken sha-in), have caused problems with digital conversion of handwritten data into online computer databases.

The old system using handwritten passbooks has resulted in about 14,660,000 future pensioners, who have paid into the system but are not yet recorded as eligible for benefits, going unrecorded digitally.

According to the Social Insurance Agency, between December 10 and 20 of last year, about 60 foreign temp workers were inputting data. However, their inability to input correct kanji readings, or separate surname and first names of entrants, had caused errors in the system. The Social Insurance Agency says that by switching all these workers with Japanese people, they’ve corrected all errors, and are now considering lowering the amount of money paid out to the companies brokering their temp workers.
====================
ENDS

産經:ギョーザだけじゃない?年金記録転記ミスは外国人のせい?

ギョーザだけじゃない? 派遣中国人が年金記録転記ミス
産經新聞 2008.1.30 22:23
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/crime/080130/crm0801302223050-n1.htm
このニュースのトピックス:年金問題

 年金記録紛失問題で、オンラインシステムに未入力の「旧台帳」と呼ばれる手書き台帳記録約1466万件について、手書きデータをコンピューター入力用紙に転記する際に、中国人などの派遣労働者が漢字を読み間違い、誤記するトラブルが発生していたことが29日、民主党の厚生労働・総務部門会議で明らかになった。

 社会保険庁によると、昨年12月10日から20日までの間、外国人派遣労働者約60人に転記作業を行わせたところ、名字と名前の区切りを間違うなどのミスを連発。社保庁は全員を日本人に交代させた上で、すでにすべての転記ミスを修正しており、今後は派遣会社への派遣料支払額を減らすことも検討している。
ends

Alex Kerr on being a “Yokoso Ambassador” for the GOJ

Hi Blog. Based upon the Japan Times article immediately below, Alex Kerr, author of DOGS AND DEMONS and famous social commentator (who incidentally has written before for Debito.org about his statements on my activism, which had been willfully misinterpreted by the axe-grinders on Wikipedia), has been chosen as a GOJ tourism representative. The Community interest group had a number of questions about what this meant (reproduced below).

Alex was kind enough to answer them, and give his permission for his clarifications to be reproduced on Debito.org. Have a read. Thanks Alex. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

17 tapped as Welcome to Japan envoys
Kyodo News/The Japan Times: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2008
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20080123f4.html

The government has appointed fashion designer Junko Koshino and 16 other people as Welcome to Japan ambassadors for their contributions to draw foreign travelers to Japan.

On selecting the 17 Yokoso! Japan Ambassadors, a selection committee of the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry took into account two aspects — building infrastructure in the hardware side to accept foreign travelers and transmitting Japan’s attractive features in the software side.

Koshino was selected because she has transmitted fashion that embodies Japanese-style images to the world, the ministry said.

Hotelier Kenichi Kai was picked because he served 10 years as the chairman of a committee in Beppu, Oita Prefecture, to attract foreign travelers to the hot-spring resort area and for his activities such as making hotels capable of exchanging yuan and five other foreign currencies.

American Alex Kerr was selected as he is working on renovating traditional houses in Kyoto and undertaking business to have foreigners experience lodging in Japan.

The ministry will introduce the 17 on its Web site as “role models” and consider holding symposiums, according to the officials.

The Japan Times: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2008
///////////////////////////////////////

QUESTIONS RAISED ON THE COMMUNITY:

Friend Olaf Karthaus (who brought it up) wrote:
===============================
Alex Kerr, an American is among them.
What is his stance on fingerprinting?
Especially on fingerprinting PRs, a group he himself belongs to, I assume.

Anybody knows?
But I doubt that he would have been chosen as an ‘ambassador’ if he
wouldn’t be 100% backing the government’s line in that matter.
===============================

Friend Todd wrote:
===============================
Is that not the same Alex Kerr who authored Dogs And Demons (for
those unfamiliar, a legendary and scathing critique of Japan)?
===============================

Friend Matt wrote:
===============================
This reminds me of a quote I saw online recently that was attributed
to Chomsky:

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly
limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate
within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident
views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going
on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being
reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”
===============================

To which Todd responded:
===============================
Which is *exactly* why it would be so surprising for the authorities
to appoint Alex Kerr to such a position.
===============================

SO I ASKED ALEX:

Alex, this is a fundamentally sympathetic crowd (I can vouch for
them), so would you like to make any comment about what your job
entails? I will also blog it if you like, just in case there are
others out there who would like to know what’s going on. In this day
when the GOJ is seen is fundamentally NJ-unfriendly (what with
fingerprinting at the border and all), the question will probably
come up anyway sooner or later. Bests, Debito in Tokyo

AND HERE IS HIS REPLY:

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

February 3, 2008
Dear Debito,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. The issue people bring up deserves a serious answer. Unfortunately, I’m so busy on the road right now that I don’t know if I can do it justice. Here are a few words:

Dear Debito

I understand why some people might wonder why I’ve accepted designation from the government as a “Yokoso Japan! Ambassador.” There can be indeed a process of co-option whereby foreign critics mute their voices when they get too close to the agencies they write about. As I’ve written in Dogs and Demons, I think many foreign academics suffer from exactly this problem.

I’ve therefore always tried to remain sensitive to this danger. That said, I don’t believe in absolute black-and-white on this issue. I am certainly opposed to numerous government policies, for example finger-printing, which I’ve personally had to undergo. But that doesn’t mean that one should never cooperate with any branch of the government on anything. That would be like saying that because one doesn’t approve of the Iraq war, one shouldn’t work with the US National Park Service.

The “Yokoso Japan! Ambassador” designation was presented by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport. I’ve repeatedly criticized this Ministry (in its present guise, as well as its former reincarnation as the Construction Ministry) for its damaging public works projects. Nevertheless, it happens that Japan’s tourist department (to be upgraded to the Tourism Agency by the end of this year) is located inside this Ministry. It’s this department that I’m working with.

I work with them because it’s my strongly held belief that an increase in international tourism can have great benefits for Japan. It makes regional economies less dependent on government construction projects. It brings home to people the financial merits of preserving their cities and countryside as tourist assets. And, not least important, the inflow of foreigners, can act as a powerful aid in “internationalizing” Japan in the true sense of the word. Many of the issues discussed in your blog will hopefully improve once people in Japan have an increased experience of actual foreigners traveling (and spending money) in their communities.

As for being “co-opted,” I’ve no intention of letting the rest of the Land, Infrastructure, and Transport Ministry (or Fishing and Agriculture Ministry, or so many others branches of the government, who go right on sponsoring wasteful and damaging construction projects) off the hook. Anyone who has heard my recent talks or read recent interviews would see that I continue to say (and illustrate with photos) exactly what I’ve been saying for years in Dogs and Demons and elsewhere.

In fact, this year I’m planning to do an illustrated photo-book which shows visually what the damage has been. It will feature ill-considered public works in the form of environmentally-harmful roads, dams, and so-called erosion control, destruction or mis-management of old houses, old towns, and cultural assets, visual pollution in the form of bad signage (including official propaganda signs from police departments and municipalities) and failure to bury electrical lines, tourist developments that are eyesores or adversely impact the environment, absurd public monuments, weird civil engineering projects (large and small scale) that transform rivers, mountains, and sea coasts, etc. I appeal to anyone on this website who’d like to give me a hand with this, since I don’t have time to go around the whole country collecting all the photos that I need.

Best wishes,
Alex
ENDS

Asahi Watashi no Shiten: Schools for NJ children deserve GOJ support

Hi Blog. An excellent roundup of what’s been covered on Debito.org for quite some time–the emerging underclass of NJ children without an education guaranteed them in Japan. Here are the problems in nutshell. Debito

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

POINT OF VIEW/ Nobuyuki Sato: Schools for foreign children deserve support

01/28/2008 The Asahi Shinbun

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200801280049.html

Courtesy of Steve Silver

More than 2.08 million foreigners now live in Japan. With the rise in international marriages between Japanese and non-Japanese, the number of children who have dual nationality is also increasing. Of them, tens of thousands attend schools for foreigners.

Currently, there are about 100 schools for North and South Korean and Chinese children. In recent years, a growing number of people from South America and elsewhere have settled in Japan.

Schools to accommodate children of such “newcomers” are also increasing. There are 94 Brazilian schools and also schools for children from Peru, India, the Philippines and other countries. The total number of schools for newcomers exceeds 100.

Chinese schools in Japan have a history of more than 100 years, while ethnic Koreans from North and South Korea established schools for their children after World War II to teach them the language and cultures of their motherland. Thus, schools for foreigners in Japan have various backgrounds.

Schools for newcomers are concentrated in the Tokai and northern Kanto regions, home to many Brazilians and Peruvians who work as dispatch employees at automakers and other factories.

A Brazilian school in Ibaraki Prefecture celebrated its 10th anniversary last year. It started out as an unauthorized day-care center for children whose parents work at factories from early morning until late at night. As the children grew, the center set up elementary and junior high school classes.

The government does not recognize schools for foreigners as regular schools that provide general education. Therefore, they do not receive any government subsidies. Most of the schools are supported by donations from fellow countrymen.

While donations to European and American schools are now tax-exempt, the same rule does not apply to North and South Korean and Chinese schools, which are also categorized as kakushu gakko (miscellaneous schools).

Since most schools of newcomers are not even recognized as kakushu gakko but are treated as “private juku,” they are not even eligible for subsidies from local governments.

Some local governments have eased authorization standards for kakushu gakko. But in Gunma, Saitama and other prefectures that apply strict standards for authorization, it is difficult for most schools for newcomers to meet the requirements. Many of them rent small factories that went out of business and split them into six to nine classrooms to give lessons. Such schools do not even have gymnasiums or schoolyards.

Japanese children are guaranteed free compulsory education at public elementary and junior high schools. Accredited private schools also receive generous government subsidies. However, when parents of foreign nationality enroll their children at foreign schools because they want them to learn the languages and cultures of their homelands, they are not eligible for public support measures.

Moreover, at schools not authorized as kakushu gakko, consumption tax is imposed on tuition. Since students are not eligible for a student commuter pass, parents are required to bear a heavier financial burden than their counterparts at Japanese schools.

Although there are more than 200 foreign schools in Japan, few public subsidies apply to them. Most of the schools rely on the self-help efforts of foreign communities alone and are excluded from the realm of public education.

I believe there are few countries in the world like Japan where foreign schools are at a disadvantage compared with regular schools.

As Japan is about to become a “multinational, multiracial and multicultural” society, it is time we break away from “national education” and switch to “multiracial and multicultural symbiotic education.”

For that, we must establish guidelines for education that embrace multiracial and multicultural values and immediately implement systematic support, such as legislation to promote measures for schools for foreigners.

Doing so also meets Japan’s obligation under the international conventions on human rights including the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It is also the duty of adults for children of the 21st century.

* * *

The author heads the research-action institute for Koreans in Japan. (IHT/Asahi: January 28,2008)

ENDS

Matthew Lacey Case: Fukuoka police dismiss NJ death by blow to the head as “dehydration” (Yomiuri & Japan Times)

Hi Blog. Here are two articles about a mysterious death of a NJ, found dead in his apartment 3 1/2 years ago, deemed not a product of foul play by Fukuoka police (with no autopsy performed). An autopsy overseas reveals the cause of death to be a blow to the head. The Japan Times took the case up a full year ago, but no ripples. Now, thanks to the tenacity of the deceased’s brother, even the Yomiuri is taking it up. Yes, even the Yomiuri.

Is this yet another case of when it’s a crime against a foreigner, the J police don’t bother with it? It’s happened before. Debito in Sapporo

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

Family queries cause of U.S. man’s death
The Yomiuri Shimbun Jan. 30, 2008
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20080130TDY02307.htm

The bereaved family of a U.S. man who died in 2004 at his condominium in Fukuoka will ask police on Wednesday to reinvestigate the cause of his death, after an autopsy carried out at the insistence of the bereaved family found injuries contradicting the initial judgment made by police.

Even though the Fukuoka prefectural police found a lump on the man’s head, police did not carry out an autopsy and instead judged the man to have died of an illness.

According to police, the naked body of Matthew Lacey was found on his bed on Aug. 17, 2004, by his friends, who came to his condominium in Chuo Ward, Fukuoka. Lacey’s room was on the sixth floor of the building. He was 41 years old.

At the time, police decided that no intruder had entered his condo. They were also unable to find any evidence of a fight or struggle.

Police discovered that Lacey had a been going to hospital for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. They found traces of fecal material on the floor of the kitchen next to the bedroom. Police, after hearing the opinion of a police doctor, decided Lacey had died of an illness related to dehydration and diarrhea, an explanation they gave to the bereaved family.

Japanese and U.S. specialists who were consulted by the family and shown the police records relating to the death, both suggested the possibility of murder, according to the family.

Police only conducted an autopsy after the bereaved family requested them to do so. The autopsy revealed the man died from a serious injury caused by a blow to the head. After the autopsy, the police changed the judgment of the cause of death, saying he died from an accidental fall.

The bereaved family, including Matthew’s elder brother Charles, 46, of Nagoya, who is an English teacher, dissatisfied with the police explanation for the cause of death, will visit the prefectural police headquarters and request a reinvestigation of the case.

In the wake of the scandal involving the Tokitsukaze stable–in which a young sumo wrestler was initially judged to have died of heart failure, but later was found to have died of traumatic shock after being beaten–the new judgment may again cast doubt on the way police make visual inspections when determining the cause of death and how autopsies are carried out.

(Jan. 30, 2008)

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

BUNGLED POLICE PROBE; UNCOOPERATIVE PROSECUTORS
U.S. man on quest to find cause of brother’s death
By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2007
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/nn20070206f2.html

PHOTO: Charles Lacey in Nagoya last week says he has not given up his search for answers 2 1/2 years after his brother’s death. ERIC JOHNSTON PHOTO

OSAKA — Charles Lacey’s brother died mysteriously 2 1/2 years ago in Fukuoka and he’s still trying to learn the cause.

He believes police bungled the investigation, wrongly concluded the death was due to an accident and are, like prosecutors, purposely withholding key information that could suggest foul play.

On Aug. 16, 2004, Lacey, who lives in Nagoya but was visiting family in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., received a fateful call. The director of the Fukuoka YMCA was calling to tell him that his brother, Matt, 42, a language student at the YMCA, had been found dead in his apartment.

A fellow student, worried because Matt didn’t show up for class, dropped by his apartment. After voicing concern to the landlord, the two went up to Matt’s sixth-floor unit to check on him.

What happened next is unclear. Lacey says he was told by the landlord in August 2004 the door was unlocked. The landlord told The Japan Times last September, however, that she only remembers putting the key in the door and turning it, and doesn’t recall if it was locked or not.

But when the door was opened, the student and landlord were greeted by the sight of Matt’s body, sprawled on a futon, soaked in blood around his head and shoulders. Police were called, and after initial attempts to track down Lacey in Nagoya failed, the YMCA finally reached him at his family home in Poughkeepsie.

By the time Lacey and his other brother, Denny, arrived in Fukuoka and met with police, it was nearly six days after Matt’s body had been discovered. While still in New York, the Lacey family requested an autopsy over the phone, which Charles says police reluctantly granted.

At the time, the family was told by police the preliminary cause of death was thought to be severe diarrhea and dehydration. Feces stains had been found on the toilet seat and the carpet, and Matt, who suffered from irritable bowel syndrome, had recently received a prescription to treat diarrhea. Robbery did not appear to be a motive, as Japanese and U.S. currency worth nearly $ 1,000 was found in plain view.

But once the Lacey brothers arrived in Fukuoka, the cops changed their story. The autopsy had revealed a 20-cm crack in Matt’s skull, and “cerebral hemorrhage” was now listed as the cause of death.

The English translation of the postmortem, which was prepared by Fukuoka police and not by the doctor who performed the exam, attributed the death to an “unknown external cause” and “it is suspected the subject was hit on the head.”

To the family’s surprise, foul play was ruled out.

“We were told by police that Matt must have fallen down in the kitchen, striking his head, and that the fall resulted in the skull fracture, despite the fact there were no signs in the kitchen of a fall,” Lacey said. “Our family felt something was wrong and that the police weren’t doing their job. There were too many unanswered questions to believe this was just an accident, as the police wanted us to believe.”

Over the ensuing months, Lacey began playing detective, calling Matt’s old friends and colleagues and traveling to Fukuoka to bang on doors and ask questions.

If foul play was involved, none of the evidence that has come to light so far offers a clear indication of who the culprit might be.

The fact that no neighbor reported anything strange prior to Matt’s death suggests that someone who knew him may have been involved.

However, Lacey said Matt sounded normal and there was no indication he was being threatened by anybody in a phone conversation they had not long before he is believed to have died.

Lacey was astonished to learn police never apparently questioned anyone around his brother.

“When I asked the police if they had spoken to the tenants directly above and below Matt’s apartment, they said they had. But later, when I questioned the tenants, they said the police had never contacted them,” he said.

Lacey become further convinced that Matt’s death was not an accident after speaking with a Fukuoka-based physician familiar with Matt’s health record who told him the death was probably not accidental.

“Given the size of the crack on the victim’s head, which resulted in an egg-size bump, and the way the body was found, it’s unlikely the death was by natural causes or an accident,” said the physician, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The family contacted Joe Navarro, a former FBI agent in the U.S. who is now a forensic investigator. “Matt’s death was obviously suspicious, but that without the full autopsy report and photos, it was impossible to say what really happened,” he e-mailed to The Japan Times.

The Fukuoka Public Prosecutor’s Office refused to turn over a copy of either the full autopsy report or the autopsy photos, both of which the Laceys had arranged to show a prominent American forensic specialist for a second opinion. The office only allowed Lacey to take photos of a few pages of the autopsy report.

The Lacey family sent a letter to the U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka in August 2005 seeking the report and photos be referred to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

An embassy investigation found that the Fukuoka prosecutors had taken no further action. The embassy was told it was not the general policy of the prosecutor’s office to release copies of autopsy reports, even to the next of kin.

“Both we and the American citizen relatives of a deceased person often feel the level of attention to an investigation and into the cause of death is not equal to that found in the United States,” said Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs Edward McKeon in an Aug. 18, 2005, letter to the family. McKeon did not respond to a request for an interview on the case. A U.S. Embassy spokesman said it was standard policy not to publicly discuss such cases due to U.S. privacy laws.

Lacey contacted several Japanese lawyers about possible legal action to get the full autopsy report. But legal experts warned that police and prosecutors have broad discretionary authority over an autopsy report, and there is little legal recourse to force them to turn it over.

Fukuoka police refused to answer a list of questions submitted by The Japan Times. However, Yoichi Oyama, a Fukuoka police spokesman said: “We believe we had no reason to treat the case as a murder. We explained to the family why we ruled Matt’s death an accident.”

Michael Fox, a Hyogo Prefecture-based American activist who has a decade of experience working on cases involving wrongful arrests and faulty police probes, said Lacey now has three basic choices if he wants to keep pursuing what happened.

“Charles can continue to put pressure on (Fukuoka prosecutors) to have police redo the investigation, as the case is still officially open.

“However, if the prosecutor decides to officially close the case, he could then file a (local) request for what’s known as a Committee for the Inquest for the Prosecution (“kensatsu shinsa iinkai”). This is the closest thing Japan has to a U.S.-style grand jury, and the only instance in the present criminal justice system which allows citizen participation,” Fox said.

After filing a claim, 11 citizens would be chosen to hear Lacey’s case and submit their recommendation to the prosecutor. The panel’s decision is not legally binding, but its recommendation would be seriously considered.

“The third option is a suit against the state seeking redress. Charles can say he has suffered mental duress as a result of police bungling. But the chances of winning are slim and the redress is small,” Fox said.

Lacey said he and his family are still weighing their options. “We never expected that this would happen to our family. All we ever wanted is for the police to have done their job properly. Our greatest fear now is that we will never know why our brother died,” he said.

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2007
ENDS

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読売:検視は「病死」、解剖で「脳挫傷」判明…急死の米男性

検視は「病死」、解剖で「脳挫傷」判明…急死の米男性
2008年1月29日03時11分 読売新聞
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20080128-OYT1T00657.htm

 福岡市中央区の自宅マンションで2004年、急死した米国男性の死因について、福岡県警中央署が側頭部にこぶがあったのに当初は司法解剖せず、検視だけで「病死」と判断し、遺族の要望による解剖で「頭部打撲による脳挫傷」と判明したことがわかった。

 解剖を受けて、県警は「転倒による事故死」と判断を変更。遺族は納得せず、解剖鑑定書などを見せた法医学者から「他殺の疑いがある」との回答も得て、30日に県警本部を訪れて再捜査を求める。大相撲・時津風部屋の力士急死事件などでも問題となった検視・解剖のあり方がまた問われそうだ。

 死亡したのは、マシュー・レイシーさん(当時41歳)。1988年に初来日、ビジネスに役立てるため、当時は市内で日本語を専門的に学んでいた。県警によると、04年8月17日、マンション6階自室のベッドの上で、裸で倒れて死んでいるのを友人らが見つけた。

 県警は実況見分などから侵入者や争った跡はないと判断。過敏性腸症候群で通院し、隣の台所の床に排せつ物がわずかに点在していたことから、警察医の見解も聞いて、死因を「下痢と脱水症状などによる病死」として、遺族にも説明した。死亡したのは8月11日ごろとされた。

 検視では、左側頭部に鶏卵大のこぶを確認していたが、「軽度」として司法解剖しなかった。

 しかし、遺族は「急死は不自然」などと、県警に承諾解剖を依頼。遺体発見2日後に解剖が行われ、こぶを中心に長さ約20センチの亀裂骨折と脳挫傷が見つかり、「平らで重量のある物体との衝突」による頭部打撲が死因とわかった。

 県警は手続きを司法解剖に切り替え、現場検証なども実施。台所の床がコンクリートにカーペットを敷いただけだったことなどから、「台所で転倒して床に頭を強打、ベッドに移動後に死亡した」と結論付けた。

 一方、遺族は、床に血痕がなく、玄関の鍵もかかっていないことから疑問を持った。「真相を知りたい」と、解剖鑑定書や捜査資料の開示を請求した。だが、公開制度が確立していないこともあって、福岡地検に閲覧が認められたのは3年後の昨年7月だった。

 遺族は、接写撮影した頭部の写真などを含む鑑定書などを、上野正彦・元東京都監察医務院長やニューヨーク市の監察医に送付。2人とも〈1〉転倒でこれほどの重傷を負うことは考えにくい〈2〉耳や鼻から出血があり、移動すれば血痕が残る〈3〉三半規管付近の強打で、平衡感覚を失って歩けないはず――とし、「ベッドが死亡場所と推測され、他殺の疑いがある」と指摘した。

 上野氏は本紙の取材に同様の見方を示し、「私見だが、事件の可能性が否定しきれない」とした。

 県警は「一連の捜査手順は適正。現場の状況などを総合的に検証して事件性なしと判断し、遺族にも説明している」としている。

 ◆「真相解明を」あす再捜査要求◆

 「警察の捜査は結論ありきとしか思えない」。マシューさんの兄チャールズさん(46)は「解剖に消極的な対応は、アメリカでは考えられない」と話し、日本の死因究明制度の不備を強く感じている。

 名古屋市で英語講師をしているチャールズさんが弟の死を知ったのは、帰省中のニューヨークの実家でだった。福岡県警中央署員が国際電話をかけてきて、「下痢と脱水による病死」と説明した。しかし、チャールズさんは「腸を患っていたとはいえ、急死は不自然」と思い、「解剖をお願いしたい」と県警に伝えたという。

 後日、弟の部屋を訪れると、ベッド上の遺体の頭の周辺にのみ、大きな赤黒いしみがあり、「寝ている時に誰かに襲われたのでは」と感じた。米国では解剖結果が原則として公開されている。日本では、解剖鑑定書などの裁判前の公開は原則として禁止され、事件性がないとされる場合でも公開は特例的だ。チャールズさんは「真相解明は困難かもしれないが、しっかりと死因を調べてほしい」と話す。

(2008年1月29日03時11分 読売新聞)

Mainichi: Wage dispute between Chinese Trainees and Tochigi strawberry farm

Hi Blog. Another report of exploited imported labor fighting back. Of course, the employers blame labor for their plight. Strawberry Fields Forever….

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

Wage row erupts between strawberry farms, sacked Chinese apprentices
Mainichi Shinbun January 29, 2008
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/national/news/20080129p2a00m0na022000c.html
Courtesy Ben S.

TSUGA, Tochigi — A dispute has erupted between a group of Chinese apprentices and strawberry farms in Japan after one farm sacked a group of students and tried to force them to leave the country.

A total of 15 apprentices have fled from the farm operators and are demanding a total of about 52.25 million yen in unpaid wages for the past three years.

Sources close to the case said that the 15 male apprentices, from China’s Shandong and Heilongjiang provinces, came to Japan in the spring of 2005 as farm trainees. After one year of training, they got work at seven strawberry farms and expected to continue their jobs until this spring.

However, in December last year the Choboen strawberry farm in Tsuga informed five of the apprentices that they were being dismissed due to a poor harvest. The farm had a guard accompany them and put them on a bus to Narita Airport and tried to make them return to China, which caused a scuffle to break out.

The five apprentices contacted the Tokyo-based Zentoitsu Workers Union, which supports foreign trainees and skilled apprentices, and 10 foreign workers from six other farms joined up with them afterwards.

One of the apprentices, 34-year-old Zhang Limin, said they had been treated poorly.

“We were treated like slaves, and I always had the feeling that we were looked down on,” he said.

The strawberry farms, located in the Tochigi Prefecture towns of Tsuga, Haga and Ninomiya, paid the apprentices only 500 yen an hour, which was below the prefecture’s minimum hourly wage of about 670 yen. The workers union is demanding that the unpaid wages be given to the students and that the five who were sacked be reinstated.

Choboen officials have admitted that they went too far in trying to force the apprentices to leave the country, but have argued that the dismissal of the students was not unfair. The farms are seeking a reduction to the amount of unpaid wages they owe, which has caused negotiations to run into trouble.

The seven strawberry farms belong to a Tochigi farming cooperative. The head of the cooperative suggested that the apprentices had not taken a serious approach to their work, saying, “If they are high-caliber workers then there’s no need to make them return.”
ENDS

毎日:イチゴ農家:中国人実習生と雇用めぐりトラブル

イチゴ農家:中国人実習生と雇用めぐりトラブル
毎日新聞2008年1月29日
http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20080129k0000m040150000c.html

「日本は人権の国だと思っていたが違った」と語る張利民さん(中央)ら実習生=東京都台東区で宮川裕章撮影

実習生が逃げ出し、栽培できなくなったイチゴを手にする農園の経営者=栃木県芳賀町で宮川裕章撮影

 栃木県都賀(つが)町のイチゴ農園「長苺(ちょうぼ)園」が昨年12月、「不作で仕事がなくなった」との理由で中国人実習生5人を解雇し無りやり帰国させようとしたところ、「栃園(とちえん)会事業協同組合」(江田一之理事長)に加入する長苺園などイチゴ農家7軒(都賀、芳賀(はが)、二宮の3町)の実習生計15人が逃げ出し、逆に、過去3年の未払い賃金として計約5225万円分の支払いを求めるトラブルになっている。

 関係者の話を総合すると、15人は中国山東省と黒竜江省出身の男性で、05年春に農業研修生として来日。1年の研修後、今春までの2年の予定で農家7軒で働いていた。昨年12月9日、長苺園が「不作」を理由に勤務する5人に解雇を通知。警備員も同行させバスで成田空港まで連れて行き帰国させようとしてもみ合いになった。

 5人は外国人研修・技能実習生の支援をしている全統一労働組合(東京都台東区)に連絡して保護され、この日のうちに他の6農園の10人も合流した。

 各農園は同県の最低賃金(約670円)を下回る時給500円の残業代しか払っておらず、労組側は未払い賃金の返還とともに、5人の解雇撤回を求めている。長苺園は強制帰国について「行き過ぎがあった」と認めたが、「解雇は不当ではない」と反論。各農園は未払い賃金については減額を要求し、交渉が難航している。

 江田栃園会理事長は「優秀な実習生なら帰す必要はない」と、勤務態度がふまじめだったことを示唆する。一方、実習生の一人で黒竜江省ハルビン出身の張利民さん(34)は「奴隷のように扱われ、見下されている気がずっとしていた」と不満を訴えている。【外国人就労問題取材班】

 ◇指針、徹底されず

 法務省は昨年12月、外国人研修・技能実習生の受け入れ企業・団体に対して「研修手当や賃金の不払い」など不正行為を明記した指針を明らかにしたが、徹底されていない。

 冬から春は「とちおとめ」などイチゴ収穫の最盛期。実習生たちは朝5時に起床し、摘み取り、包装作業を午後10時ごろまで続けた。「農家に休みはない」と土日も働いた。

 栃園会加盟のある農園経営者(55)は、肉牛を飼育していたが、牛海綿状脳症(BSE)問題の影響で7000万円を借金した。再起をかけてイチゴ栽培を始め、安い労働力と考えて研修生を受け入れたという。

 この経営者は「法律の仕組みのことは、行政が教えてくれないと分からない」と残業代の一部が未払いになったことを弁解する。

 経営難は深刻だ。しかし、制度を利用する以上、企業同様に労働者として対応することが求められる。【宮川裕章】