Archive for May, 2008
Posted by debito on 31st May 2008
I find it pretty amazing how myths persist. The media helps. Not only do we have “Darling wa Gaikokujin” cartoon character slash “Writer” Tony Laszlo appearing as himself (in one of the most frightening photos I’ve ever seen of him) in the “Money” Section of the Asahi May 17, 2008, he still has the byline of “Administrator of NGO ISSHO Kikaku”.
Even though there is no ISSHO Kikaku website, or even any NGO registered under that name in Japan.
And miraculously, the Issho Kikaku website, offline since December 2005, made a reappearance the very same day this blog entry went up, albeit only a cover page, with no further links to all the years of work done by other activists working under the “Issho” banner…
We won’t mention the threat of lawsuit from him for keeping the record alive… but how very “un-Darling” of him.
Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Issho.org/Tony Laszlo | 11 Comments »
Posted by debito on 31st May 2008
Daily Yomiuri reviews HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS: “Because the Handbook covers so many issues, it generally gives a bird’s-eye view of each one. Details of your situation may vary, but this little volume should get you off to a good start by recommending what forms to fill out, what government offices to visit and what authorities to consult for specific guidance. Asked to characterize the reader feedback he has received so far, Arudou summed it up as: ‘Where has this book been all my life? It’s about bloody time.’”
Posted in Handbook for Newcomers, Media | 1 Comment »
Posted by debito on 30th May 2008
Interview I had last March (on the Todai Campus, cold, wet, rainy day with lots of luggage during the HANDBOOK Tour–I look better in the photo than I felt that morning) with Jornal Tudo Bem in Portuguese. Translation by Andre follows in the Comments Section.
Posted in Articles & Publications, Human Rights | 2 Comments »
Posted by debito on 29th May 2008
“I just received information about a hotline which will be open from 1 to 5pm on Sunday June 1st providing free legal advice to foreigners living in Japan. This is to test the demand for such a service in relation to research by the Japan Law Foundation being made by lawyers, NGOs and researchers on the necessity of starting a specialized law office/center for foreigners/refugees. Interpretation will be provided, in many languages. If the hotline receives many calls, this will strengthen the case for such a service, which seems to be to be sorely needed…”
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 29th May 2008
Nikkei Portuguese newspaper Jornal Tudo Bem put on its front page this week, according to a friend who reads Portuguese, an article stating that NJ get no partial pensions unless they pay in the full 25 years (Japanese, however, get partial pensions commensurate to a partial payment). Administrative Solicitor Akira Higuchi says that’s not the case. Very confusing–let’s hope there’s some clarification forthcoming.
Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues, Pension System | 10 Comments »
Posted by debito on 28th May 2008
Getting to know Japan is hard work: a complicated language, cultural esoterica, mixed messages about prudent paths to take. People who find their way around and assimilate deserve kudos and respect. And reward. The Japanese government should welcome them by granting Permanent Residency (“eijuken”). But recently people eminently qualified under PR guidelines are being rejected — even Japan’s first Caucasian geisha! Makes one wonder if Japan’s mandarins now feel PRs have reached a “carrying capacity” and have started throwing up more hurdles. Let’s triangulate from three examples this past month…
Posted in Articles & Publications, Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 43 Comments »
Posted by debito on 27th May 2008
I think this is perhaps the most ridiculous story on Japan I’ve heard this decade. According to CNN, Narita Customs put a bag of marijuana in some visiting NJ’s bag to test their sniffer dogs. Then they lose track of it! Now just imagine if that innocent person was later caught with it. We’re talking Nick Baker (finally sent back to the UK after 6 years in Japanese jail) and other NJ judicial hostages (who can never leave custody or be granted bail until they go through years of slow jurisprudence, even when judged innocent). Of course, we make sure we cause meiwaku to none of our tribe(or to ourselves–think serious chances of a lawsuit from a native)–we use the Gaijin as Guinea Pig. Yokoso Japan!
Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 67 Comments »
Posted by debito on 27th May 2008
Here’s an interesting article on two people who just did what they did, but with conviction and perseverance, and managed through Loving v. Virginia to overturn a horrible legal situation in the US–a legal ban on interracial relationships and marriage! I would find hard to believe something like this ever existed in post-Meiji Japan (from Lafcadio Hearn’s marriage on down, to our credit!) Read the obituary of Mildred Loving–it’s hard to believe a lot of this happened within my lifetime! And follow some links at the bottom about the history America’s anti-miscegenation laws: Particularly surprising is the history back and forth within Louisiana regarding banning and unbanning interracial relations–including reinstatement of ban by American authorities in 1806 after the Louisiana Purchase!
Any honest historical study of a country is bound to unearth nastiness. The US’s certainly deserves exhuming.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Exclusionism, History, Tangents | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 26th May 2008
Japan Today reprints Kyodo article on Anthony Bianchi’s stint (now five years and counting) as a re-elected town councilor in Inuyama City, Aichi Prefecture. Although it gives great news about the good works he’s doing (bringing his native Brooklynites over to experience Japan and do musical performances in exchange programs), it neglects to mention one more factor in how difficult it is to be where he is today: Taking out Japanese citizenship and giving up his American! It unfortunately portrays him as someone who could just parachute in, spend time getting to know the place, and eventually do what he does without great sacrifice. Other than that, good update on Bianchi-san’s important work trailblazing in Japan.
Posted in Cultural Issue, Education, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 1 Comment »
Posted by debito on 25th May 2008
Terrie’s Take: “Two weeks ago, the Japanese government made a notable announcement that may make Japan more compatible with the legal conventions used internationally, and will be of particular benefit to non-Japanese spouses of Japanese. The announcement was that by 2010, Japan would sign the the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, an international legal construct that attempts to deal with the thorny issue of court jurisdiction when children of international marriages are moved cross-border, often by a parent trying to thwart a court ruling in the previous jurisdiction. Currently, Japan is known as a haven for disaffected Japanese spouses who, in getting divorced, abscond with their kids back to Japan. Once in Japan they can dare their foreign spouses to try getting the kids back — something that despite around 13,000 international divorces a year in Japan and more overseas, has NEVER happened…”
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment, United Nations | 6 Comments »
Posted by debito on 25th May 2008
Debito.org has been revamped to make the Blog the main page, make the cover page more readable as summary, and resolve some internet issues. Thanks to everyone for reading!
Posted in debito.org blog and website biz | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 24th May 2008
Summary: Bulgarian Sumo Wrestler Kotooshuu today became the seventh NJ (and the first Caucasian) to win a Sumo Tournament, after Hawaiians Takamiyama, Konishiki, Akebono, and Musashimaru, then Mongolians Asashouryuu and Hakuhou’s past victories. The last five became Yokozuna in their own right. Here’s hoping that Kotooshuu also joins their ranks!
Posted in Sport | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 24th May 2008
NYT: “Afraid of a hollowing-out of its vaunted technology industries, Japan has been scrambling to entice more of its younger citizens back into the sciences and engineering. But labor experts say the belated measures are limited and unlikely to fix the problem. In the meantime, the country has slowly begun to accept more foreign engineers, but nowhere near the number that industry needs. While ingrained xenophobia is partly to blame, companies say Japan’s language and closed corporate culture also create barriers so high that many foreign engineers simply refuse to come, even when they are recruited. As a result, some companies are moving research jobs to India and Vietnam because they say it is easier than bringing non-Japanese employees here.”
Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 23rd May 2008
Wired Magazine on Nishimura and 2-Channel: “Nishimura has lost about 50 lawsuits and owes millions of dollars in penalties, which he has no intention of paying. “If the verdict mandates deleting things, I’ll do it,” he says. “I just haven’t complied with demands to pay money. Would a cell phone carrier feel responsible when somebody receives a threatening phone call?”" Those silly arguments taken apart on this blog.
Posted in ２ちゃんねる, Lawsuits, Media | 8 Comments »
Posted by debito on 22nd May 2008
Here’s what investigating countries at the United Nations are saying about Japan’s human rights record. First, some highlights of what the GOJ itself says it’s doing about following treaties and human rights standards, then other countries respond with a surprising degree of awareness. The biggest issues seem to be the death penalty, human trafficking, and rights for women (with historical issues brought up by neighboring Asian countries), but as far as Debito.org is concerned, there is plenty of attention devoted to issues we’ve been raising all along. Even if Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene’s reports on racism in Japan are mostly being ignored by our government, they certainly are being read by members of the UN. Do try to read parts of the UPR Report with a straight face, as that’s what our government is making a number of risible claims with. I offer links to sections on Debito.org that are at odds with the GOJ’s claims.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, United Nations | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 21st May 2008
Here are two updates on Japan’s human rights behavior being considered for periodic review by the UN Human Rights Council. This is a new activity by the UN after the old Human Rights Commission was disbanded, accused for many years of having the world’s worst human-rights offenders as leaders, there covering up their own abuses. Now under this new organ with the same acronym, everyone is being subject to review once every four years. And according to the press releases below, Japan’s turn came last week. Forwarding primary-source documents to you. Pertinent sections underlined. As it says below, you can also submit documents to the OHCHR if you want about human-rights abuses in Japan. Five pages max, deadline July 14, 2008, email included in this blog entry.
Posted in Human Rights, Japanese Government, United Nations | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 20th May 2008
Yahoo News/AP: “Hello Kitty — Japan’s ubiquitous ambassador of cute — has built up an impressive resume over the years. Global marketing phenom. Fashion diva. Pop culture icon. Now the moonfaced feline can add “government envoy” to the list. The tourism ministry on Monday named Hello Kitty as its choice to represent the country in China and Hong Kong, two places where she is wildly popular among kids and young women.”
Posted in Cultural Issue, Humor, Japanese Government | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 19th May 2008
Three case studies of people being rejected by Immigration for Permanent Residency (eijuuken)–a Tokyo University grad student, one of Japan’s only full-time NJ elementary school teachers, and Japan’s only officially-certified NJ geisha, Sayuki. All of these people under Immigration guidelines have lived here long enough to qualify, and have clearly made great contributions to Japanese society. Yet here they go getting refused. Does Japan expect to retain dedicated long-termers this way, in an era when the gas is leaking out of Japan’s erstwhile effervescent economy, thanks to an aging workforce and decreasing population?
Posted in Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 44 Comments »
Posted by debito on 19th May 2008
I’ve been to four of these PGLs, and they’re worth attending, if not presenting at. I will be: Call for Presentations, 7th Annual Conference, Peace as a Global Language, September 27-28, 2008, Seisen University, Tokyo, Japan
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 18th May 2008
UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene, who has visited Japan three times in the past, called racism here “deep and profound”, and urged Japan to pass laws against racial discrimination, is now visiting the US for the same reason. Good. Let’s see how the USG deals with his report (and let’s see how high up Diene gets meetings. Even Tokyo Gov. Ishihara found no time to meet Diene on any of this trips…). The GOJ essentially ignored his reports, alas.
Posted in Human Rights, Tangents | 1 Comment »
Posted by debito on 17th May 2008
IRONIES AND HOW TO SWING THEM:
1) No bank accounts allowed at Mitsui Sumitomo for NJ without minimum six-month stays.
Okay at Japan Post Office, however.
2) Japan proposes language requirement for foreign long-term visas,
yet protests when Britain proposes the same.
3) Mainichi: MOJ overturns deportation order, allows NJ couple to stay with child in Japan.
4) Yomiuri: 80% of hospitals interested in employing foreign nurses.
5) Japan Times: Canada, U.S. nudge Japan to join child abduction resolution framework
(and it appears to have worked).
WORD GETS OUT:
6) US State Dept Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2007, Japan
7) UN News recent articles on Human Rights Council
8) UN News: first group of 16 nations reviewed by HRC
9) Debito.org Podcast April 5, 2008: My March 18 FCCJ Speech in full on Trans Pacific Radio
10) Japan Times Feb 16 Symposium, my question from the floor makes the paper
11) “WELCOME NON-JAPANESE CUSTOMERS” stickers for businesses
now on sale at Debito.org (Paypal OK)
12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 3: “Activism vs Academia”
13) Humor: Sankei Sports Pure-Ai Keitai dating service advertisement
Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 16th May 2008
Here’s another way to make sure you perpetually incarcerate any NJ suspected of any crime. Even if they’ve even been acquitted in court, just keep them in detention (after all, NJ aren’t allowed bail in Japan) long enough, and then you can get them for overstaying their visa! “Hostage Justice’s” safety catch…
Posted in Injustice, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 11 Comments »
Posted by debito on 15th May 2008
Articles from the Japan Times and JPRI on the Burmese (Myanmar) junta’s historical connection to the Japanese Imperial Army, and how the Japanese government even today has surprisingly close ties to the maniacs who rule Burma–to the point of muting criticism when a Japanese journalist gets cut down by the military, and instead offering criticism of Aung San Suu Kyi’s election victory!
Posted in History, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Tangents | 15 Comments »
Posted by debito on 14th May 2008
An anonymous poster with a degree from a world-class Japanese university writes in about barriers to getting a job at Japanese companies–an IQ test that in the poster’s view doesn’t measure non-native candidates fairly or accurately. I too had to deal with one of those back in 1989, but managed to talk my way into the job anyway (thanks to the “kokusaika” mantra of the Bubble Years). Other readers with experiences with these types of corporate entry-level tests are welcome to share them. For in the author’s view (and mine), these sorts of barriers only hurt Japan when educated candidates want to stay and contribute.
Posted in Education, Exclusionism, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 13th May 2008
According to the AFP and Japan Today: “Japan’s ruling party is considering plans to encourage foreign workers to stay in the country long-term, a daily reported Monday after the birth rate fell for the 27th successive year. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has proposed setting up an “immigration agency” to help foreign workers—including providing language lessons, the Nikkei economic daily said without naming sources. The party also intends to reform current “training” programs for foreign workers, which have been criticized for giving employers an excuse for paying unfairly low wages, the paper said.”
Posted in Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Politics | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 12th May 2008
Washington Post: “Hi Blog. This is a tangent to the Debito.org role of bringing up issues of NJ in Japan, but it relates as we have been talking about the NPA in recent months. One of my friends, a person who studies wrongful arrests in Japan, says, “The Japanese Police are some of the biggest criminals in Japan.” According the the article below, the NPA’s involvement in hindering international investigations of Japanese organized crime may be evidence of that. Courtesy of The Club. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
Washington Post: “Unlike their Japanese counterparts, U.S. law enforcement officers are sharing tips with Japan. Officials from both countries confirm that, in November 2003, the Tokyo police used information from ICE and the Nevada Gaming Control Board to seize $2 million dollars in cash from a safe-deposit box in Japan, which was leased to Kajiyama by a firm affiliated with a major Las Vegas casino. According to ICE Special Agent Mike Cox, the Kajiyama saga was probably not an isolated incident. “If we had some more information from the Japan side,” he told me last year, “I’m sure we’d find other cases like it.”… In early March, in my presence, an FBI agent asked the NPA to provide a list of all the members of [Yakuza crime boss] Goto’s organization so that they could stop them from coming into the country and killing my family. The NPA was reluctant at first, citing “privacy concerns,” but after much soul-searching handed over about 50 names. But the Tokyo police file lists more than 900 members. I know this because someone posted the file online in the summer of 2007; a Japanese detective was fired because of the leak.”
Posted in Japanese police/Foreign crime, Tangents | 7 Comments »
Posted by debito on 11th May 2008
JUDICIAL TREATMENT OF NJ VICTIMS OF CRIME
1) Filipina allegedly killed by J man, let out of jail despite suspicion of killing another Filipina in past
2) Japan Times et al on homicide of Scott Tucker: “likely to draw leniency”
3) Tokyo Police apparently drop case of Peter Barakan’s assault
4) Yomiuri and Japan Times on Matthew Lacey Case:
Fukuoka Police dismiss NJ death by blow to the head as “dehydration”
JUDICIAL TREATMENT OF NJ ACCUSED OF CRIME
5) “Hostage Justice”: Swiss woman acquitted of a crime,
but detained for eight months anyway during prosecution’s appeal
6) Two articles from The Economist on bent Japanese criminal justice system, death penalty
7) Rough Guide on what to do if and when arrested in Japan
8) Yuyu Idubor’s Statement to High Court April 23, 2008, letters from prison parts five and six
SYSTEMATIC POLICE TREATMENT OF NJ EVEN WITHOUT CRIME
9) Japan Today: Male Shinjuku cops rough up Singaporean women during “passport check”
(with link to Japan Probe site with information about possible police identity fraud)
10) Hiragana Times July 2006 on NJ police brutality by Toyonaka, Osaka cops
11) Potential Olympic torch problems in Nagano? All the more reason to target NJ!
12) Asahi, Mainichi, and Yomiuri: Replacement “Gaijin Card” system, increasing police powers
13) Japan Times: Critics deride future extra policing of NJ under new proposed registration policy
WHY THIS IS UNJUST: JAPAN’S EXTREME POLICE POWERS
14) Reuters: Study says immigrants and crime rate not linked
15) Japan Times ZEIT GIST: G8 Summit and the bad “security” habits brought out in Japan
Posted in Newsletters | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 10th May 2008
I have offered my opinion on how the Japan Times could improve its readership in the past on this blog (the JT is uniquely poised to offer something more independently, as a newspaper not controlled as a vanity project by the other Japanese newspapers, such as the doctrinaire Yomiuri, or a union-busting, closed-circuit Asahi. I’m hoping that it finally sinks in that the JT can most easily turn on a dime, and offer information not only for English-language readers, but also the immigrants who want to make a life in Japan and need essential information even when there’s no emergency like the (cited) Great Hanshin Earthquake.
Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Media | 1 Comment »
Posted by debito on 9th May 2008
JUST BE CAUSE Japan Times column 3: “So naturally, some academics have been rather skeptical when I claim racial discrimination here is growing in magnitude and scope. One even asserted at this forum that my online “naming and shaming” of discriminators ( www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html ) is counterproductive — that too much “attacking Japan” alienates potential allies. Again, I understand why never the twain. The academic observer, particularly in the social sciences, is bound by a “prime directive” — not to interfere with their object of study when collecting data; plus there is an incumbent resistance to making value judgments (think of “cultural imperialism” etc.; to an anthropologist, I’m probably the Antichrist). In sum, academics observe societal or global “standards.” Activists, however, try to create or adjust them.”
Posted in Articles & Publications, Speech materials | 7 Comments »
Posted by debito on 8th May 2008
Blog Biz: Blog was down for a few days for unknown reasons, hopefully now fixed properly…
Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 5th May 2008
UN News: The top United Nations human rights official warned that some States still do not recognize the existence of racism as a phenomenon. “National laws and measures to ensure its elimination in most countries are either inadequate or ineffective,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour. “As a result, vulnerable groups continue to suffer aggression while abusers enjoy impunity.” Like in Japan…
Posted in Human Rights, United Nations | 1 Comment »
Posted by debito on 4th May 2008
My Miyazaki to Kurashiki Cycletrek GW 2008 is finished, 621 kms in six days. Off the road safe and sunburnt, ready for my next JUST BE CAUSE column next Tuesday May 6.
Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 1st May 2008
Canadian and the U.S. government officials and a law expert Friday
urged Japan to join an international legal framework to resolve
cross-border cases of child abduction by parents and others… The U.S. currently has 40 cases of international child abduction
involving Japan, the third-largest after Mexico and India, said
Kathleen Ruckman, deputy director of the U.S. State Department’s
Children’s Issues Office.
Posted in Human Rights, Japanese Government | 2 Comments »