Hi All. Got a fat Newsletter for you this week.
Probably the last one I’ll be sending out for a little while, as I’m heading for California next week for six weeks. More on my speaking schedule there and afterwards at
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 29, 2008
Table of Contents:
1. Hong Kong’s new anti racial discrimination workplace laws
2. Zainichi lodges complaint re Nihon U debate club discrim, university takes appropriate action
3. Non-native NJ wins Akutagawa, Japan’s most coveted book award
4. Jenkins get his Permanent Residency in record time. Congratulations, but…
5. J Times: Radical GOJ immigration plan under discussion
THE INTERNET TURNS NASTY
1. Essay: Why I don’t debate online outside of Debito.org
2. The Economist on how the Internet is turning nasty
3. Japan Times prints letter with big stripey lie about Summit airport ID checkpoints
4. Internet bullies kill the Mainichi Waiwai column, and inhibit the free speech they claim they so cherish
MORE ISSUES OF RIGHTS, INTEGRATION, AND ASSIMILATION
1. Some woes with the Koseki (Family Registry) system for NJ and others in Japan
2. UNHCR on Japan’s UN Human Rights Review, June 30, 2008
3. Anonymous on J diffident police treatment of disputes between J and NJ
4. Kyodo: Mock trial for upcoming lay judge translation system puts NJ on trial for drug smuggling!
5. JT/Kyodo: “Innocents” apprehended by police rise to 2.9%!
6. Yomuiri: Japan’s universities scramble for foreign students
7. World-famous company, Tohoku branch, refuses to employ Japanese kid
expressly because he’s “half”–even retracts original job offer…
INTERESTING TANGENTS AND DISCUSSIONS FROM DEBITO.ORG
1. Economist.com: Interesting business time capsule book published by Asahi Shinbun in 1958
2. Palm Beach Post on dual citizenship in EU countries
3. Terrie’s Take: Oji Homes and asbestos–and treating NJ customers badly
4. The Australian: PM Rudd spearheading “Asia-Pacific Union” like the EU, Japan “interested”
5. Discussion: Why do NJ have such apparently bipolar views of life in Japan?
6. Discussion: Softbank’s policy towards NJ customers re new iPhone
Passing of an era: First Zainichi resident to refuse fingerprinting in 1980 dies at 79
Collated by Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
firstname.lastname@example.org, Daily updates and RSS at http://www.debito.org
Released July 29, 2008. Freely forwardable
Hong Kong’s new anti racial discrimination workplace laws
Hong Kong solicitors’ report: “It may seem odd that Hong Kong : Asia’s business hub a diverse modern metropolis and a city of live has no remedy for individuals experiencing private racial discrimination. Ethnic minorities form 5% of the population in Hong Kong and those who face racial discrimination whether in employment, housing, provision of medical services, education or transport have no protection. This is despite laws against discrimination in other areas such as gender, family status and disability.
“The much debated Race Discrimination Bill (the “Bill”) was only passed by the Legislative Council on 10 July 2008. The Bill aims to make racial discrimination and harassment in prescribed areas and vilification on the ground of race unlawful, and to prohibit serious vilification on that ground. It also seeks to extend the jurisdiction of the Equal Opportunities Commission to cover racial discrimination, harassment and vilification.” Read more:
Zainichi lodges complaint re Nihon U debate club discrim, university takes appropriate action
Asahi: The debate club of Nihon University’s College of Law suspended activities after a third-generation Korean resident said she was refused entry because of her ethnicity, The Asahi Shimbun learned.
The 21-year-old first-year student said she could not join the club in April because several senior members had a problem with her South Korean nationality.
Along with her mother, she lodged a discrimination complaint to the Tokyo-based university in early June.
The university administration commissioned lawyers to investigate the case and determined that the student was indeed discriminated against because of her nationality and ethnicity.
The club suspended activities in late June after a request from the university’s human rights committee.
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=1824
Non-native NJ wins Akutagawa, Japan’s most coveted book award
Yang Yi, a NJ (not a Zainichi, which would be good news too, but a non-native NJ to boot), has just won Japan’s most coveted literary award. Congratulations!
This is not the first time a NJ (or even a non-native) has won a prestigious book award (hark way back to Dave Zopetti’s Subaru-sho). But it’s the first for an Akutagawa, and that says something positive about Japan’s assimilation. Well done all around! Article and interview blogged here.
Jenkins get his Permanent Residency in record time. Congratulations, but…
Charles Jenkins, long-suffering veteran of North Korea (who got a very harsh life after defecting from the US military from South Korea, before I was even born!), just got his Permanent Residency (eiuuken) in record time (a coupla weeks). And with fewer years spent here (four) than the average applicant (generally five years if married to a Japanese, ten if not married). With personal consideration from Justice Minister Hatoyama.
Congratulations Mr Jenkins. Seriously. I’m very happy you can stay here with your family as long as you like, and may you have a peaceful and happy rest of your life out on Sadogashima.
But I wish the often strict procedures given other applicants could have applied to him as well. Again, as with the case of Fujimori (who was “naturalized” in about the same amount of procedural time) and certain sports figures, politics keeps infiltrating the application process for assimilation. Inevitable, some might say, but still a shame when there are people as eminently qualified as Mr Jenkins being refused…
Radical GOJ immigration plan under discussion
Japan Times: Foreigners will have a much better opportunity to move to, or continue to live in, Japan under a new immigration plan drafted by Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers to accept 10 million immigrants in the next 50 years.
“The plan means (some politicians) are seriously thinking about Japan’s future,” said Debito Arudou, who is originally from the United States but has lived in Japan for 20 years and became a naturalized citizen in 2000. “While it is no surprise by global standards, it is a surprisingly big step forward for Japan.”
The group of some 80 lawmakers, led by former LDP Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa, finalized the plan on June 12 and aims to submit it to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda later this week.
The plan is “the most effective way to counter the labor shortage Japan is doomed to face amid a decreasing number of children,” Nakagawa said…
However, the immigration plan calls for the goal to be achieved soon and for the government to aim for 1 million foreign students by 2025. It also proposes accepting an annual 1,000 asylum seekers and other people who need protection for humanitarian reasons…
Arudou, a foreigners’ rights activist, noted the importance of establishing a legal basis for specifically banning discrimination against non-Japanese.
“Founding a legal basis is important because people do not become open just because the government opens the door,” he said…
But wait, there’s even more to this excellent article:
THE INTERNET TURNS NASTY
Tangent: Why I don’t debate online outside of Debito.org
Every now and then (actually, practically every day) I get word that somebody is taking up an issue on another list/blog/what have you and debating something on Debito.org. Great. That’s exactly what I want.
But I rarely ever go on those blogs and answer the claims (often erroneous — the product of people who either haven’t read what I said thoroughly, or think that nobody will follow up and actually read what I said in context) made. Even when they email me individually to say, “C’mon, we’re talking aboutcha.”
Thanks for the invites, but I have a very specific reason for not doing that… Nowadays, given that there are whole groups of attack blogs (i.e. people united by a common interest of spending their lives attacking me) out there who have no problem whatsoever with issuing outright lies (no longer even deliberate misquotes, not even misreadings due to sloth or political bent), I follow this policy even more so, I’m afraid. Thanks to the inverse proportion of anonymity and responsibility, the Internet has only gotten nastier over time…
An example of a recent interesting and entertaining debate (on Big Daikon) which still gets fogged up by recalcitrant critics also included…
Tangent: The Economist on how the Internet is turning nasty
Continuing with a recent theme on Debito.org, regarding how nasty the Internet has become (with cyberanonymity allowing people to make accusations without any accountability or sense of responsibility to either the truth or to fair play), we have an excellent article from The Economist on how blogs and online media are in fact disseminating hatred and even racism:
“And then there is history. A decade ago, a zealot seeking to prove some absurd proposition–such as the denial of the Nazi Holocaust, or the Ukrainian famine–might spend days of research in the library looking for obscure works of propaganda. Today, digital versions of these books, even those out of press for decades, are accessible in dedicated online libraries. In short, it has never been easier to propagate hatred and lies. People with better intentions might think harder about how they too can make use of the net.”
More at http://www.debito.org/?p=1848
Japan Times prints letter with big stripey lie about Summit airport ID checkpoints
Quick rebuttal to someone who published a letter in the Japan Times last week who claimed I said something I didn’t say.
Internet bullies kill the Mainichi Waiwai column, and inhibit the free speech they claim they so cherish
One more article on how the Internet has turned nasty: The campaign by anonymous posters to get rid of the English translation service of Japan’s weekly magazines, the Mainichi Shinbun Waiwai column, has been effective. Instead of standing up to anonymous hotheads making death threats, and suppressing the free speech they hold so sacrosanct, they talk about Japan’s image being besmirched internationally (when the information comes from Japanese sources in the first place). By suppressing this media outlet, all they are achieving is keeping the debate domestic and covering up the issues the Weeklies are bringing to the fore. However disgusting the topics the Weeklies can bring up are, the contents are the Weeklies’ responsibility, not the Mainichi’s and not editor Ryann Connell’s. Attack the Weeklies for their contents, not the people who merely translate them.
I find this form of bullying disgusting, and the Mainichi’s caving in appallingly irresponsible. When are people going to learn that this is not a fair fight, and ignore people who won’t make themselves public in the media and open themselves up to the same scrutiny they demand other media? You have the right to know your accuser. Those who won’t reveal their identity should be justly ignored themselves.
Here’s an article from The Sydney Morning Herald. Further links and a letter to the Mainichi follows it.
MORE ISSUES OF RIGHTS, INTEGRATION, AND ASSIMILATION
Some woes with the Koseki (Family Registry) system for NJ and others in Japan
We’ve had a couple of good comments recently from a couple of mailing lists I belong to, concerning the Family Registry System (koseki) in Japan (not to mention the Juuminhyou Registry Certificate, equally problematic), particularly when it comes to recognizing international marriage, naming children, and child custody after divorce. It affects a lot of people adversely, not just NJ, so let’s devote a blog entry to the issue. We’re considering making the Koseki System a lobbying issue at forming NGO FRANCA, especially since South Korea, with its similar hojeok registry system, abolished it this year.
UNHCR on Japan’s UN Human Rights Review, June 30, 2008
(iii) Conclusions and/or Recommendations
In the course of the discussion, the following recommendations were made to Japan:
– Consider ratifying/Ratify the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, 1980 (Canada, Netherlands);
– Encourage the continued taking of measures relating to discrimination against women in particular to raise the age of marriage to 18 for women as for men (France);
– Continue to take measures to reduce the incidence of violence against women and children, inter alia, by ensuring that law enforcement officials receive human rights training, and to fund recovery and counselling centres for victims of violence (Canada);
– Continue the efforts to combat trafficking in persons with a special emphasis on women and children (Canada);
– Develop a mechanism to ensure the prompt return of children who have been wrongly removed from or prevented from returning to their habitual place of residence (Canada);
– Prohibit expressly all forms of corporal punishment of children and promote positive and non-violent forms of discipline (Italy);
Fuller report at http://www.debito.org/?p=1816
Anonymous on J diffident police treatment of disputes between J and NJ
What follows is an account from a NJ writer friend who has a street-scuffle dispute (with his aitekata demanding money from him) being mediated by the police. Or kinda that, as he writes. With some interesting indications that data from mere investigations goes down on an actual criminal record. Blogged with permission.
DISPUTE MEDIATION (OR ALLEGED FACSIMILE) BY CHIBA POLICE
IS FOREIGNNESS BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF BY ATARIYA?
By Anonymous, name withheld on request
(excerpt) “So, my concern here is: 1) how many people — Japanese as well as foreigners — with no official criminal record may be treated otherwise because of such standard procedures in subsequent encounters with police and the legal system? And 2) everyone, especially foreigners who seem to have a clear disadvantage in law-and-order matters that involve a contest with a Japanese person, should know that despite “standard procedure” they are apparently not required by Japanese law to have their fingerprints and photo logged into the National Police Agency’s criminal database unless they have actually been convicted of a crime. It’s apparently info police don’t readily volunteer (or, in some cases, even know about).”
Kyodo: Mock trial for upcoming lay judge translation system puts NJ on trial for drug smuggling!
Japan is still testing its lay judge system before inauguration in 2009. According to Kyodo, they’ve uncovered a bug–how to deal with court translation. Ironically, they use a case where the NJ accused is charged with carrying narcotics. Very ironic, given the recent scandal of Narita Customs planting drugs on NJ…
JT/Kyodo: “Innocents” apprehended by police rise to 2.9%!
Japan Times/Kyodo: The Supreme Court said Monday that 2.9 percent of defendants who pleaded not guilty to criminal charges were found innocent at their initial trials in 2007, marking the highest level in a decade. Other data by the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office indicated that more district courts have declined to accept depositions, which show defendants’ confessions, as evidence. In several cases, the focus of dispute was whether the confessions were voluntary and/or credible…
Yomuiri: Japan’s universities scramble for foreign students
Some very good articles in the Yomiuri on just how far behind Japan’s universities are in attracting foreign students. And how Japanese companies aren’t willing to hire them (We’ve discussed this briefly here before.) Plus how Japanese universities treat certain nationalities of students differently, and some signs of Japanese students’ exodus for education overseas. Good reading. Excerpt:
Although prestigious universities like Tokyo, Waseda and Keio have made efforts to attract foreign students, Japanese universities in general struggle to attract students from abroad, many commentators say.
“The crisis is real,” Satterwhite said. “Japanese universities have traditionally been very slow to change… Traditional elements of Japanese education, such as the administration system, are hindering the internationalization.”…
World-famous company, Tohoku branch, refuses to employ Japanese kid
expressly because he’s “half”–even retracts original job offer…
Summary: A world-famous company in northern Japan, with branches and products overseas for generations, refuses to employ a young Japanese (despite giving him a job offer)–expressly, despite being a citizen, because he’s “half”.
This could have major repercussions in Japan if other Japanese with international roots get discriminated against similarly. Read on. More details to reporters if they want a story. I have the feeling we have a major lawsuit here.
I’ve anonymized it for now because the family fears that the employer will refuse to employ the job candidate further if this article can be traced back to him. Read on:
INTERESTING TANGENTS AND DISCUSSIONS
Economist.com: Interesting business time capsule book published by Asahi Shinbun in 1958
What a 50-year-old periodical tells about how the country has changed–and how it has not
The cover is a cliche: a frothy crested wave with Mount Fuji in the background. Emblazoned on the image of Hokusai’s woodblock print from the 1830s are the words “This is Japan” and “1958”. At a hefty two kilos and 420 pages, the oversized coffee-table book was published annually by the Asahi newspaper between 1954 and 1971. Early editions came nestled in a wooden box.
The book was designed to present the emerging country to foreigners, largely to drum up business. The articles cover the spectrum of all that a Western reader might associate with Japan, from rice and kimonos to sake and shrines. Their very titles stand as totems of an earlier era: “Japan’s Ports–Past and Present”; “Iron and Steel: A Success Story”; “American Girl Finds Japan.” But while the articles appear self-conscious, the advertisements offer a more candid account of where the country was headed…
Palm Beach Post on dual citizenship in EU countries
Here’s an interesting diversion on what options dual citizenship provides its citizens. As well as a quick roundup of what other countries say qualifies for dual at the very bottom.
Japan, as frequent readers of Debito.org probably know, does not allow dual citizenship. I consider that to be a big waste, as I know lots of people who would become citizens if only they could preserve both and not have to go through an identity sacrifice.
Arudou Debito, former American citizen who gave it up to become Japanese.
Terrie’s Take: Oji Homes and asbestos–and treating NJ customers badly
Excerpt: In the meantime, if you are living in or have lived in any of the Oji apartment complexes, you may be wondering what the presence of asbestos means. Providing it is inert, probably the buildings have been/are reasonably safe, but the problem with asbestos is that one never knows when it or the binders it is applied with will age and start to flake off. Oji Palace is even older than the Oji Homes facility and there has been no indication at this stage that Oji plans any investigation or remediation of substances possibly present there. We think this is extremely irresponsible…
Then of course, there is the matter of the two families and their kids left in the building… We find it incredible that Oji Real Estate is able to engage in such dangerous construction work with tenants still present. This represents a level of bloody mindedness on the part of Oji managers that wouldn’t be tolerated if those families were Japanese. The proper venue for a showdown of this nature is the courts, and if Oji wants the resisting tenants to move, it should take them to court, reveal the levels of compensation being offered, and wait for the courts to decide before continuing their work…
The Australian: PM Rudd spearheading “Asia-Pacific Union” like the EU, Japan “interested”
“Australian Prime Minister KEVIN Rudd wants to spearhead the creation of an Asia-Pacific Union similar to the European Union by 2020 and has appointed veteran diplomat Richard Woolcott – one of his mentors – as a special envoy to lobby regional leaders over the body.
The Prime Minister said last night that the union, adding India to the 21-member APEC grouping, would encompass a regional free-trade agreement and provide a crucial venue for co-operation on issues such as terrorism and long-term energy and resource security.
And he outlined his plans for his visits to Japan and Indonesia next week, saying he would explore greater defence co-operation between Australia, Japan and the US…
Discussion: Why do NJ have such apparently bipolar views of life in Japan?
At the suggestion of one of our commenters, let’s discuss why the NJ communities seem to have such a bipolar view of life in Japan:
Commenter: “I wonder what the factors are for this divide. Is it related to work? Is it related to the location where each person is living? Is it related to political beliefs in the country of origin? Is it based simply on personality, or maybe on language skills? Does the period of residence in Japan have anything to do with it?”
Well, commenters, fire away with your theories. I only ask that you try to leave me out of it–I’m not that important a factor.
Discussion: Softbank’s policy towards NJ customers re new iPhone
his issue has been brought up on other blogs (most notably Japan Probe), so I thought I need not duplicate it on Debito.org (I try to limit myself to one blog entry per day). But recently I received through the FRANCA Japan list a series of thoughtful discussions on the iPhone that are good enough to reprint here. Anonymized. And note that Softbank already seems to have reacted to the situation. Arudou Debito
From: Writer A
Subject: [FRANCA] Yodabashi Akiba Restricts iPhone 3G Sales To Foreigners
Date: July 17, 2008 8:14:32 PM JST
Where else but Japan would one find a huge electronics retailer, located in a tourist center, that refuses to sell to certain foreigners a phone marketed simultaneously around the world, designed by an American company and distributed by a firm headed by a Zainichi Korean?
Yodabashi Akiba (YA), the largest store of the Yodobashi Camera electronics retailer chain, is located in Akihabara, the tourist center that is Ground Zero for anime nerds (otaku). On any given day, one is likely to find Western and Chinese customers shopping at YA, in addition to Japanese customers. Like any cell phone retailer that wants to remain in business. YA has a huge display for Apple’s 3G iPhone, which went on sale in Japan on July 11 and promptly sold out at YA.
But if a foreigner wished to buy an Apple 3G iPhone at YA, that foreigner would find that YAs policy is to refuse to sell a phone to a person with an authorized stay of less than 90 days, and refuses to allow a sale on the installment plan to foreigners with less than 16 months of authorized stay.
Read discussion at http://www.debito.org/?p=1835
Passing of an era: First Zainichi resident to refuse fingerprinting in 1980 dies at 79
Kyodo/Japan Today: The first foreign resident in Japan to reject alien fingerprinting, Han Jong Sok, died of respiratory failure at a Tokyo hospital on Thursday, his family said Friday. He was 79. Han, a Korean resident in Japan, in 1980 rejected the fingerprinting required under the then alien registration law, and was the first foreign resident to do so.
More on the 1999 abolition, and the 2007 resurrection of fingerprinting for all NJ except a select few with political power here.
All for the rest of this month. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 29, 2008 ENDS