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  • Archive for September, 2008

    Tangent: Metropolis Mag (Tokyo) on the annual August Yasukuni “debates”

    Posted by arudou debito on 30th September 2008

    As a follow-up to yesterday’s thoughts on the movie YASUKUNI, here’s an article that came out in August’s Metropolis Magazine (Tokyo) regarding the “debate” between Right and Left at the shrine. Bit of a tangent to Debito.org, but worth a read:

    (excerpt) The above scene unfolded just prior to last year’s pacifist demonstration in Kudanshita on August 15, the anniversary of the end of World War II. The protest, which will be repeated next week and preceded by various other marches near the shrine, highlights the one day of the year where downtown Tokyo could nearly be confused for Pakistan or Tibet during times of political unrest—the city literally turns into a riot zone as right- and left-wing groups stand off against one another.

    Perhaps Japan’s most notorious rallying point for nationalist sentiment, Yasukuni confounds its left-leaning detractors and inspires patriots due to its honoring of roughly 2.5 million military men, many of whom were encouraged by the belief that their spirit would be enshrined should they die in battle fighting heroically for the emperor. For South Korea and China, two countries that suffered most heavily at the hands of Japan’s military over a half-century ago, a crucial point of criticism is the enshrinement of 14 Class-A war criminals, including wartime Prime Minister Hideki Tojo. A heated debate on an average day, Yasukuni and its surrounding area is like a spark landing in a tinderbox on the anniversary.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, History, Tangents | No Comments »

    Thoughts after seeing Li Ying’s movie “Yasukuni” at PGL

    Posted by arudou debito on 29th September 2008

    My take-home lesson from this movie:

    Even though there will be violence on both Right and Left (although there were no scenes of leftist-instigated violence in the movie), the non-violent peace protestors (imagine the hypocrisy hay that would be made if somebody filmed the peaceniks assaulting the Rightists!) put themselves at a disadvantage. In the sense that violence is not an option for the non-violent segment of the Left. It remains an option, as witnessed in this movie, for the Right. There’s the fundamental difference. And unless you get enough people witnessing just how unfair a fight this is (one of the most fundamental elements for non-violent protest to work, as per King and Gandhi, is for everyone to SEE just how brutal one side is and become sympathetic towards the other), it’s just going to continue. I feel very lucky to have seen a movie which made me realize that, and recorded for all to see (what serendipitous camerawork!) just how mean and irrational the side that resorts to violence actually is.

    In sum, go see YASUKUNI. It’s a job well done.

    Posted in History, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media | 2 Comments »

    Linguapax Conference Symposium Univ of Tokyo Sun Oct 26

    Posted by arudou debito on 29th September 2008

    Just to let you know that there’s a free conference at the University of Tokyo Komaba Campus at the end of October. Called Linguapax Asia, they’re an annual event on media, language, semantics, and their effects on society; well worth your time. And yes, I’ll be speaking there, about propaganda in Japan’s media as concerns NJ in Japan. (I’ll be my second speech for them — Download the paper I did for them in Word format here, and the Powerpoint presentation here.) Do consider attending if you have time that Sunday. Just register in advance at the links below.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Media, Speech materials | No Comments »

    First Aso Cabinet member resigns — tripped up (inter alia) by comments regarding Japan’s ethnic mix

    Posted by arudou debito on 28th September 2008

    Well, well, what surprising news tonight. Ministry of Transport etc. resigned today over comments he made, among others, about Japan’s ethnic homogeneity. As I wrote two days ago, I’m pleased that comments like these aren’t allowed to pass any more.

    Then again, it’s probably not so surprising — given a litany of comments this twit has a habit of making — such as calling Japan’s largest teacher’s union a “cancer for Japanese education”. See article below.

    In the longer view, however, this resignation isn’t all that earth-shattering. This first Aso Cabinet was always meant to be a stopgap measure until the next election in a month and change. But it can’t help the LDP’s image to have this much “thoroughbredness” (or, in my view, inbredness — the media has talked a lot about Aso and company’s relatives as political giants) — and it will (hopefully) convince the voters that the Tired Old Party needs a break from power.

    Posted in Good News, Japanese Politics, Labor issues | 3 Comments »

    UK now considering introducing Gaijin Cards

    Posted by arudou debito on 28th September 2008

    Here’s another brick in the wall, alas. The UK is also proposing the introduction of Gaijin Cards. Just when you thought you could point to other countries and say, “Look, they don’t do something like this, so let’s not do it here,” they go ahead and do it too. Sigh.

    It’s not absolutely the same system at this point — not all foreigners have to get this card. Yet. But I like how the counterarguments to the scheme are similar to ones I’ve made in the past — about how guinea-pigging a segment of the population is the thin edge of the wedge to introducing the scheme for everyone. And no mention as yet in this article as to whether it’ll be a criminal offense, warranting arrest and interrogation after instant street spot checks, if you are not carrying the card on your person 24-7. Meanwhile, let’s wait and see what Japan does with its long-announced intention to Gaijin Chip all NJ with new improved RFID. In the club of developed countries, I don’t think Japan will be outdone in its policing of its foreigners.

    Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Immigration & Assimilation, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 10 Comments »

    The Aso Cabinet gaffes start from day one: Minister retracts “ethnically homogeneous Japan” remark

    Posted by arudou debito on 27th September 2008

    AP: New transport minister Nariaki Nakayama on Friday apologized over his controversial remarks that included calling Japan “ethnically homogenous,” in face of criticism triggered not only from opposition parties but from ruling party members. While Nakayama denied resigning over his verbal gaffes, made just a day after he assumed the post under Prime Minister Taro Aso, opposition parties called for his dismissal and said they will question Aso’s responsibility for appointing the minister…

    Similar previous remarks by lawmakers that Japan is a mono-racial society drew protests mainly from the Ainu indigenous people in Japan.

    Mizuho Fukushima, leader of the Social Democratic Party, said, “Is he ignorant of a Diet resolution which all the members (of both houses of the Diet) supported?” referring to the parliamentary resolution that urged the government to recognize the Ainu as an indigenous people and to upgrade their status as they have led underprivileged lives under the past assimilation policy.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Social Science, Good News, Japanese Politics | 9 Comments »

    Some thoughts on former PM Koizumi as he resigns his Diet seat

    Posted by arudou debito on 26th September 2008

    Don’t know if you heard the news, but former PM Koizumi Junichiro announced last night that he won’t seek reelection for his Diet seat in the upcoming election. Here are some thoughts first thing on a Friday morning about Koizumi as a PM, the future of the LDP, and Aso’s tough fight ahead.

    Posted in Japanese Politics | 2 Comments »

    Glimmers of hope: New PM Aso does not single out NJ as potential terrorists or agents of crime

    Posted by arudou debito on 25th September 2008

    New PM Aso had a good press conference last night to launch his new cabinet, and good news as far as Debito.org goes is that he didn’t try to bash foreigners and link crime and terrorism to them. Contrast that with his behavior as Public Management Minister in the 2003 Koizumi Cabinet. Perhaps he read a critical Japan Times expose back then and saw sense?

    Posted in Good News, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics | 5 Comments »

    Tanya Clark reviews HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS very favorably.

    Posted by arudou debito on 25th September 2008

    Tanya Clark HANDBOOK review excerpts:
    “So, it was with my [mental] fingers tightly crossed that I first opened Arudou and Higuchi’s book. I have interacted with Arudou off and on over the years as his editor and as someone who paid passing attention to his activities as a Japan-based activist for foreigners’ rights. Arudou had taken the challenging path of adopting Japanese nationality (he was an American citizen) and creating a life for himself in Hokkaido, itself a frontier-esque northern island in Japan. Knowing Arudou knew his subject had raised my hopes. But, he and his writing partner pulled it off?

    Indeed they had. The two of them (Higuchi is a Hokkaido-based lawyer) had summarised the nuts and bolts of life for people whose Japan stay is extended. Whether it is maintaining a funeral plot in Japan, buying a car, joining a union or tips on divorcing a troublesome partner — life’s essential tips and tricks are covered…

    Yes, living in Japan is just like living in most other places (pretty much) — but there is a twist. This Handbook is an excellent guide to set you on the way to learning all those twists (and a few turns).

    In brief, Arudou and Higuchi have put together an essential handbook covering the key topics and questions anyone living in Japan (or intending to) needs to address.

    Posted in Handbook for Newcomers | No Comments »

    Query to Debito.org readers: Items for next Poll (Oct 1)

    Posted by arudou debito on 24th September 2008

    I’m designing our next Debito.org poll (due out Oct 1), thanks to a suggestion this afternoon from a commenter. Regarding problematic words…

    Here’s how I’ve phrased the question so far:

    “Terms describing people in any language can be controversial. In your opinion, which one, if any, of these words still in common use do you think are offensive and should be obsolesced out over time?”

    It’ll be a poll where people can choose multiple answers, and the answers so far I’ve come up with are:

    Gaijin,
    Gaikokujin
    Haafu
    Shina
    Sankokujin
    Shintai Shougaisha
    I don’t find any of these words offensive
    Can’t answer

    Any other options people feel I should include? Please leave suggestions. Thanks.

    Posted in Blog Polls | 17 Comments »

    The Japan Times Community Page on the JBC “Gaijin Debate”, part two.

    Posted by arudou debito on 24th September 2008

    The JUST BE CAUSE Columns I wrote these past two months on the word “Gaijin” have inspired a lot of debate. Again, good. Thanks everybody. Here’s another salvo from The Community Page yesterday. I’ll have a Part Three on this issue out in The Japan Times on October 7, talking about how the strict “insider-outsider” system here (of which “Gaijin” is a subset of) also affects Japanese, and hurts Japanese society as a whole. Thanks for reading and commenting. And I love the illustration in the JT for this article…

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 37 Comments »

    Speaking this Saturday at Peace as a Global Language Conference, Seisen University, Tokyo

    Posted by arudou debito on 23rd September 2008

    Sat Sep 27, 11AM-11:50, Peace as a Global Language Conference 2008: Arudou Debito speaks on ”NJ: From Visitor to Resident”, Seisen University, Tokyo. More details on the Conference and how to get there within this blog entry.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Education, Human Rights, Speech materials | No Comments »

    Japan Times FYI on Supreme Court

    Posted by arudou debito on 22nd September 2008

    I’m not a big fan of the Japan Supreme Court, as my experience with it was when they summarily ruled that the Otaru Onsens Case (which involved racial discrimination, Japan Constitution Article 14) was “unrelated to constitutional issues”. This after only a couple of months of deliberation (it usually takes many years for rulings to come down).

    It also refused to hear the case for Gwen Gallagher vs. Asahikawa University case, where she was fired for not being “fresh” (their words) enough to teach. And also, given Japan’s lower court rulings, because she’s a woman.

    Yes, the JSC does sometimes issue miraculous rulings, such as this recent one regarding international children and J citizenship laws (causing some speculation that the JSC is in fact becoming more liberal; a bit premature IMO). But given the odd conservatism seen otherwise (such as the Chong-san case a few years back, ruling that denying a Zainichi the right to sit Tokyo medical administrative exams, merely because she’s a foreigner, is constitutional), that’s why they’re miraculous.

    Anyway, read on. My favorite bit is at the end on how we can vote on Supreme Court justices. (I’ve done so when I voted.) It’s not much of an indicator–abstaining from voting for someone is counted as a “yes” vote (yes, I asked), meaning it’s not a majority of “yes” vs “no” votes, it’s “yes and no vote” vs “no” votes, meaning it’s highly unlikely the public could ever turf out a Robert Bork type. In other words, it’s a sham. And it’s never denied a JSC appointment, as the article indicates.

    Posted in Japanese Government, Lawsuits | 2 Comments »

    Tangent: In Niseko, playing Cricket!

    Posted by arudou debito on 21st September 2008

    I’m here in Niseko for a little while longer after coming here to learn how to play Cricket. Yes, that sport played by the Commonwealth on a field lacking two bases, using that wickedly hard ball without gloves. And I can still type this morning without broken fingers. Attending an international Cricket competition and charity event and discovering the game is actually a lot of fun! More details on the event (consider attending next year, Cricketeers!) in this blog entry.

    Posted in Sport, Tangents | 3 Comments »

    Japan Times on worries about Post-Fukuda immigration policies

    Posted by arudou debito on 19th September 2008

    Nakamura faulted the bureaucrats for not creating a warmer society for foreigners. For example, they don’t bring up the poor labor conditions for foreign workers, but when a foreigner is suspected of a crime, the information is spread immediately, Nakamura said.

    “Bureaucrats don’t want (many foreigners in Japan),” Nakamura said. “Otherwise, it would be so easy (for bureaucrats) to start an educational campaign on living symbiotically with foreigners.”

    Admitting that lawmakers have also dragged their feet, Nakamura said the key to breaking the vertically structured bureaucrat-led administration is to establish an official “immigration agency” to unify the handling of foreigner-related affairs, including legal issues related to nationality and immigration control.

    Those problems are currently managed by various ministers. For example, anything related to immigration goes to the Justice Ministry, labor issues to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, and livelihood in general to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.

    “We need to integrate all of the power, and that is why an immigration agency” is necessary, Nakamura said. “If the power is scattered around, we can’t move forward.”

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics | 7 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 17, 2008: AMERICA AND JAPAN TOUR 2008 TRAVELOGUE

    Posted by arudou debito on 17th September 2008

    This is a special Newsletter to tell you all how my recent six-week trip went between Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Berkeley, Mountain View, Hamamatsu, Inuyama, Osaka, Nagoya, Saitama, Nagano, Sendai, and Kitakami, Iwate.

    Posted in Newsletters | 5 Comments »

    Guardian UK on child abductions in Japan, this time concerning UK citizens

    Posted by arudou debito on 16th September 2008

    Guardian: Clarke, a 38-year-old management consultant from West Bromwich, has gone to great lengths to win custody. The Crown Prosecution Service said his wife could be prosecuted in the UK under the 1984 child abduction act.

    However, he can expect little sympathy from Japanese courts, which do not recognise parental child abduction as a crime and habitually rule in favour of the custodial – Japanese – parent.

    Japan is the only G7 nation not to have signed the 1980 Hague convention on civil aspects of child abduction, which requires parents accused of abducting their children to return them to their country of habitual residence. He is one of an estimated 10,000 parents, divorced or separated from their Japanese spouses, who have been denied access to their children. Since the Hague treaty came into effect, not a single ruling in Japan has gone in favour of the foreign parent.

    Campaigners say Japan’s refusal to join the treaty’s 80 other signatories has turned it into a haven for child abductors.

    The European Union, Canada and the US have urged Japan to sign, but Takao Tanase, a law professor at Chuo University, says international pressure is unlikely to have much impact. “In Japan, if the child is secure in its new environment and doesn’t want more disruption, family courts don’t believe that it is in the child’s best interest to force it to see the non-custodial parent,” he said.

    Japanese courts prefer to leave it to divorced couples to negotiate custody arrangements, Takase said. Officials say the government is looking at signing the Hague treaty, though not soon.

    Posted in Human Rights, Injustice | 17 Comments »

    Archive: ディエンと右翼派反応、「日本移民列島」、外国人200万人突破 (June 1, 2006)

    Posted by arudou debito on 15th September 2008

    /////////////////////////
    1)国連のディエン特別報告者の東京、大阪、沖縄訪問
    2)右翼派の反発:単行本「危ない!人権擁護法案
      迫り来る先進国型値全体主義の恐怖」出版
    3)毎日:在住外国人登録者は200万人突破
    4)毎日:河野太郎議員:「外国人の日本人口の3%の比例に限度を」
      (法務省と毎日新聞も現在の在住外国人人口比例の統計を誤って報道)
    5)週刊ダイヤモンド:「ニッポン移民列島」2004年特集
    6)「巡回連絡カード」、警察官自宅訪問、職務質問の解答は任意?
    7)移住連:全国フォーラム6月24日〜25日、札幌市
    8)気分転換;二カ国語インタビュー(ポッドキャスト)
    /////////////////////////

    Posted in Newsletters, 日本語 | No Comments »

    Archive: DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 6, 2006

    Posted by arudou debito on 14th September 2008

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    1) FOREIGN POPULATION TOPS 2 MILLION FOR FIRST TIME
    2) PM CANDIDATE KOUNO TARO WANTS TO LIMIT FOREIGN POPULATION TO 3%
    3) PUNDIT SORIMACHI KATSUO BLAMES FOREIGN CRIME ON A LENIENT JUDICIARY
    4) EXCERPTS OF “DANGER! HUMAN RIGHTS BILL” BOOK ONLINE
    5) NEW ALIEN REGISTRATION DETAILS
    6) UPDATE ON TRAVEL AGENCIES: ESTIMATES NOW COST MONEY?
    7) UPDATE ON POLICE HOME VISITS: ANSWERING QUESTIONS IS OPTIONAL
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Archive: DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 27, 2006

    Posted by arudou debito on 13th September 2008

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    1) “POLICE PATROL CONTACT CARD” ASKS FOREIGNERS FOR PERSONAL DETAILS
    2) SHUUKAN DIAMONDO ON “IMMIGRATION ARCHIPELAGO JAPAN”
    3) ANOTHER TAKE ON THE UN RAPPORTEUR DIENE TRIP
    4) THE RIGHT WING START GEARING UP AGAINST DIENE REPORT
    5) LETTER TO YOMIURI RE FINGERPRINTING LAW
    6) OTARU ONSENS MEDIA TAPE
    7) YAMATO DAMACY’S CONCLUDING INTERVIEW
    8) and finally… THE COMPLIMENT OF THE YEAR
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    NJ baby left at anonymous “baby hatch”. Kokuseki wa? Eligible for Japanese! Er, yes, but…

    Posted by arudou debito on 12th September 2008

    (Kyodo) _ A baby with foreign nationality was left at Japan’s first “baby hatch” at a Kumamoto hospital, according to a report on Monday by a panel examining the practice.

    Comment: According to a friend of mine, the baby just might be eligible for Japanese citizenship! Er, but…

    Posted in Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 6 Comments »

    Reader AS voices concerns re Softbank regulations and Japanese Language Proficiency Test

    Posted by arudou debito on 10th September 2008

    Finally got done with my marvelous class (a joy from start to finish, we went several hours overtime just discussing the issues), and been too busy to revise my blog every night revising my powerpoints to reflect the threads of our conversation. So let me forward this germane email and open a discussion about issues regarding Softbank and the JPLT.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Discussions, Education | 25 Comments »

    Having a phenomenal experience at Nagoya University with multiculturalism

    Posted by arudou debito on 8th September 2008

    I’m having a remarkable experience teaching a class on media professionality and responsibility, in a class where two-thirds of the students are not native speakers. And of course, we’re doing everything in Japanese, from newspaper articles to reading sections of UN treaties and government statements out loud. We’re communicating at an extremely high level in a second language that many of us (well, me, actually, back in the haughty Bubble years when I first arrived here) were once told that foreigners could never learn to speak, read, or write in any useful facility. Boy, were the naysayers wrong. Makes me hopeful for Japan’s future as a multicultural, multiethnic, quite possibly even multilingual society.

    Posted in Education, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation | 7 Comments »

    Archive: DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 23, 2006

    Posted by arudou debito on 7th September 2008

    Subject: REPORT: UN’s Doudou Diene’s May 2006 Tokyo and Osaka trip

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    1) MEETING WITH UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR DIENE IN OSAKA AND TOKYO
    2) LINKS TO RELATED ARTICLES
    3) ATTENDING UN SECRETARY GENERAL KOFI ANNAN PRESS CONFERENCE
    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Archive: DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 16, 2006

    Posted by arudou debito on 6th September 2008

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    1) ROGUES’ GALLERY UPDATE MAY 2006: Ikebukuro, Hiroshima, and Okinawa
    2) H.I.S. TRAVEL PRICING DUPLICITY, INFO SITE UP ON DEBITO.ORG
    3) MHLW DATA SITE ON INTERNATIONAL MARRIAGE, BIRTHS AND DIVORCE
    4) YAMATO DAMACY INTERVIEWS TWO AND THREE
    5) BOSTON GLOBE ON U.S. EXECUTIVE POWER
    6) ASIA TIMES ON DRAFT “CONSPIRACY LAW” IN JAPAN
    7) YOMIURI ON NEW GAIJIN CARDS
    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    Posted in Newsletters | 3 Comments »

    アーカイブより:萱野茂氏死去、国連ディエン再来日、旅行会社国籍別料金、「外人をこき使え!」英会話ゼミはサイトを改訂、緩和

    Posted by arudou debito on 6th September 2008

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    1)人権かつマイノリティー権を唱えた萱野茂元国会議員死去
    2)国連代表ドゥドぅ・ディエン氏は5月中旬沖縄、大阪かつ東京へ訪問
    3)旅行会社HISとNo.1トラベルは外国人客に料金を上乗せ
    4)「外人をこき使え!」英会話ゼミはサイトを改訂、緩和
    5)「鳥取県人権侵害救済推進及び手続に関する条例」について私のJapan Timesコラム
    ///////////////////////////////////////

    Posted in Newsletters, 日本語 | No Comments »

    Mainichi: Female NJ Trainee Visa workers underpaid by Yamanashi company, beaten, attempted deportation

    Posted by arudou debito on 5th September 2008

    Six Chinese female trainees at a dry-cleaning company in Yamanashi Prefecture got into a row with the company when they complained that they were being paid under the minimum wage, and three of them suffered injuries including a broken bone, it has been learned.

    Trouble reportedly erupted when the company, located in Showa, Yamanashi Prefecture, tried to force the six to return to China after they complained about their wages. The three injured workers are considering filing a criminal complaint over their injuries.

    The three injured workers were later taken into the custody of the Zentoitsu Workers Union, which supports foreign trainees and apprentices. The remaining three were taken to Narita Airport by company officials and returned home.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 9 Comments »

    中国人実習生:給与改善求めトラブル…帰国無理強い

    Posted by arudou debito on 5th September 2008

    山梨県昭和町のクリーニング会社「テクノクリーン」(内田正文社長)で働いていた30代の中国人女性実習生6人が、最低賃金を下回る給与の改善を求めたところ、同社が6人を無理やり帰国させようとしてトラブルとなり、実習生3人が骨折などのけがをしていたことが分かった。3人は傷害容疑での刑事告訴を検討。最低賃金との差額の未払いは、労働基準法に違反するとして、労働基準監督署へ申し立てる方針。

     3人はその後、外国人研修・技能実習生を支援する「全統一労働組合」(東京都台東区)に保護された。残る3人は24日、同社関係者に連れられ成田空港から帰国した。

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | No Comments »

    Jon Dujmovich speculates on media distractions: PM Fukuda’s resignation vs. alleged NJ Sumo pot smoking

    Posted by arudou debito on 4th September 2008

    Jon Dujmovich guest comments: “In the Japan Times article (Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2008, “Aso gets set for run at LDP presidency: Party election slated for Sept. 22″ by Jun Hongo and Setsuko Kamiya) there is a line that reads “…senior members of the LDP scrambled from early Tuesday to control the damage in the wake of Fukuda’s hasty departure.”

    “Is this coincidence? Does “control damage” include media censorship? “Hmmm…I wonder.”

    “Now I am not qualified enough to speak officially on the subject, nor do suggest this is good social science, I am merely pointing out a very suspicious coincidence where smoke and mirrors seem to be employed to deflect media attention from the LDP and government woes, to an easy minority group target. For heaven’s sakes why does a story about two foreigners who may or may not have smoked pot trump a story (that is less than 48 hours cold I might add) about the nation’s prime minister resigning!?!”

    Plus a quick subsidiary comment from me on how the media has generally been careful to not presume guilt, and avoid making the sumo thing into a “foreigner issue”. Good. That’s progress.

    Posted in Good News, Japanese Politics, Media | 8 Comments »

    Archive: DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 8, 2006

    Posted by arudou debito on 3rd September 2008

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    1) FORMER AINU DIETMEMBER KAYANO SHIGERU DIES
    2) UN’S DOUDOU DIENE TO REVISIT JAPAN MAY 15-19
    3) “SLAVEDRIVE YOUR GAIJIN!” CEO ENGLISH SITE DISAPPEARS
    4) HIS TRAVEL ADMITS TO HAVING DIFFERENT AIRFARES FOR FOREIGNERS
    5) JAPAN TIMES ON TOTTORI HUMAN RIGHTS ORDINANCE
    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 7: Sequel to “Gaijin” as a racist word

    Posted by arudou debito on 2nd September 2008

    Now for the more controversial claim: my linking “gaijin” with “n*gg*r”. Although I was not equating their histories, I was drawing attention to their common effect–stripping societies of diversity.

    “N*gg*r”, for example, has deprived an entire continent of its diaspora. I love faces; I have gazed at many notable African-Americans and wondered about their origins. Is Michael Clarke Duncan a Nuban? Do Gary Coleman’s ancestors hail from the Ituri? How about the laser gaze of Samuel L. Jackson, the timeworn features of Morgan Freeman, the quizzical countenance of Whoopi Goldberg? Where did their ancestors come from? Chances are even they aren’t sure. That’s why Alex Haley had to go all the way to The Gambia to track down his Kunta Kinte roots.

    The “non-n*gg*rs” are more fortunate. They got to keep closer ties to their past–even got hyphens: Italian-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Japanese-Americans, etc. But Black people in the US just became “African-Americans”–a continent, not an ethnicity. Thanks to generations of being called “n*gg*r”.

    “Gaijin” has the same effect, only more pronounced. Not only do we foreign-looking residents have no hope of hyphenation, we are relegated to a much bigger “continent” (i.e. anyone who doesn’t look Japanese–the vast majority of the world). Again, this kind of rhetoric, however unconscious or unintended, forever divides our public into “insider and outsider” with no twain.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Immigration & Assimilation, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 72 Comments »

    Get Japan Times today Tues Sept 2–sequel to my JUST BE CAUSE Column on “Gaijin as racist word”

    Posted by arudou debito on 2nd September 2008

    Hi Blog. Today (Tuesday, Wednesday in the provinces) sees my seventh Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column. I’ll devote another 700 words on some of the points raised in an avalanche of letters (according to the Japan Times, mostly critical) to explain more about my contentious “gaijin” and “n*gg*r” linkage.

    Posted in Articles & Publications | 5 Comments »

    Results of our fourth poll: Do you think the word “gaijin” should be avoided (in favor of other words, like, say, gaikokujin)?

    Posted by arudou debito on 1st September 2008

    The result was still that most people (but not an absolute majority) thought the word “gaijin” should be avoided, due to unwelcome connotations. Perhaps par for the course for Debito.org types of readers.

    It was an interesting poll to follow in real time. For the first few days, the first choice, “Yes”, had an absolute majority of over 50%. But as more voted, the “maybe, if derisive” and “no” responses whittled that down. I was surprised at how few chose “maybe, depends on listener”. Also interesting was how almost everyone had a clear opinion–almost nobody was neutral or unknowledgeable about the subject.

    Posted in Blog Polls | 6 Comments »