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  • Archive for October, 2008

    SR: Shounan Shinkin Bank in Chigasaki refuses bank accounts to NJ who can’t read and speak Japanese

    Posted by arudou debito on 31st October 2008

    Language ability is being increasingly used by more types of businesses nationwide as a means to refuse NJ service. As we saw last week, insurance agencies (such as AXA Direct Insurance) are rejecting NJ for not enough language (however determined). Now consider Shounan Shinkin Bank in Chigasaki, near Tokyo, as reported by SR:

    “We had asked her to open a bank account in Shounan Shinkin Bank where we all have our accounts; the school account as well as the employees’ accounts.

    She had been there 2 times with her parents in law (both Japanese) but Shounan Bank and their dep. manager had rejected her request and DID NOT open her bank account! The reason is “she doesn’t speak Japanese and she can’t read it” (日本語が読めない、理解できない)…

    We contacted the Financial Service Agency (金融庁)to see what they think, and they have told us it is totally absurd but there is nothing they can do! Then, we contacted the Shounan Shinkin honten and they confirmed their 日本語が読めない、理解できない rule. After a short exchange of opinions and requests between the main office and my Japanese staff, they promised to apologise and open our teacher’s account. She won’t though!

    When I went to the bank to close down my accounts, I had a long chat with the department manager. I asked him to show me the written form of their rule but they didn’t have it, or wouldn’t show it….

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Immigration & Assimilation, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 19 Comments »

    MX on “Gaijin” harassment in Tokyo elementary school

    Posted by arudou debito on 30th October 2008

    Here’s a letter from a father who felt the diversity-stripping effects of the word “gaijin” firsthand, when his Japanese daughter first entered a Tokyo grade school:

    “My daughter XXXXXX is quite excited to be an ichi nen sei next year and was looking forward to [her first visit to grade school], but it turned out to be a bit of a nightmare.

    “In one of the classes they were visiting, a boy pointed at XXXXXX and shouted 外人だ!外人がいる! The teacher went on “teaching” as if nothing was happening, while the shouts grew louder and soon the entire class was pointing and staring at poor XXXXXX, who was in complete shock. Ultimately, my wife had no choice but to leave the classroom and try to console XXXXXX.

    “I can’t say this came as a complete surprise, as XXXXXX does indeed look quite “European,” but it was depressing that the teacher saw no reason to intervene in some way to make the experience less mortifying for my daughter. If this had occurred on the street it would have been bad enough, but it is even more disheartening that it happened at a school, a place that should be at the forefront of efforts to curb stupid racial discrimination…”

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Cultural Issue, Education, Practical advice | 17 Comments »

    Speaking at JALT this Sunday: PALE Keynote Speech

    Posted by arudou debito on 30th October 2008

    I’ll be speaking at the Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT)’s annual conference this weekend in Tokyo. “The Professionalism, Administration, and Leadership in Education (PALE) JALT SIG — What’s Up, and What’s Next?”

    9:15 – 10:55 AM Sunday Nov 2 in Room 511

    If you’d like to find out more about or join our PALE SIG Group, please come to our Annual General Meeting on Saturday Nov 1 in Room 511, 5:25 – 6:25. Otherwise, come down to the SIG tables in the general commons.

    Posted in Education, Labor issues, Speech materials | No Comments »

    Japan Focus runs translation of Asahi Oct 5 2008 article on discrimination

    Posted by arudou debito on 29th October 2008

    Japan’s Entrenched Discrimination Toward Foreigners
    The Asahi Shimbun October 5, 2008
    Translation by Arudou Debito

    From the Introduction by David McNeill: Will Japan ever overcome its distrust of foreigners? This question has been forcefully posed in various guises, most notably perhaps by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights Doudou Diene. In 2005 he concluded after a nine-day investigation in Japan that the authorities were not doing enough to tackle what he called Japan’s “deep and profound racism” and xenophobia, particularly against its former colonial subjects. The report appeared to vindicate the work of campaigners such as naturalized Japanese Arudou Debito, who argue that Japan needs, among other things, an anti-discrimination law.

    Now, unusually perhaps for a major national newspaper, the Asahi Shimbun has waded into the debate with a major article on the issue. Titled, “Opening the nation: Time to make choices,” the article recounts tales of discrimination by long-term foreign residents before looking at how Japan compares to other nations, including perhaps its nearest equivalent, South Korea. A lively illustration helps makes the point that foreigners sometimes feel like second-class citizens. The Asahi concludes that the dearth of laws here protecting the livelihoods or rights of non-Japanese makes the country somewhat unique. “In other countries…there is almost no example of foreigners being shut out like this.” Interestingly, the Asahi did not translate the article for its foreign edition…

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Exclusionism, Good News, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit | 4 Comments »

    Govt websites don’t include NJ residents in their tallies of “local population”

    Posted by arudou debito on 28th October 2008

    Mark in Yayoi pointed out a singular thing to me the other night — that the Tokyo Nerima-ku website lists its population in various subsections. Then puts at the top that “foreigners are not included”.

    We already saw in yesterday’s blog entry that NJ workers are not included in unemployment statistics. Now why aren’t NJ taxpayers also included as part of the “general population”?

    So did a google search and found that other government websites do the same thing!

    Hard to complain about “Japanese Only” signs on businesses when even the GOJ excludes foreigners from official statistics. And it’s also harder to believe the GOJ’s claim to the UN that it has taken “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination”. How about measures such as counting foreigners as taxpayers and members of the population? Stunning.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 13 Comments »

    AP: Economic downturn already resulting in NJ layoffs in Japan, but NJ not counted in unemployment figures

    Posted by arudou debito on 27th October 2008

    AP: “Brazilian Stenio Sameshima came to Japan last year with plans to make a bundle of money at the country’s humming auto factories. Instead, he’s spending a lot of time in line at employment agencies.

    “The 28-year-old is one of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of foreigners who are among the first laborers in Japan to lose their jobs as the global financial crisis eats into demand for cars, trucks and motorcycles, government officials say.

    “The layoffs are also the first evidence that the mushrooming economic crisis in the United States and elsewhere is shaking the Japanese labor market, presaging further trouble if the downturn persists or deepens…

    “The government does not track the number of jobless foreigners, but local officials, workers and employment agencies tell of hundreds of workers like Sameshima let go by companies linked to topflight producers – Toyota, Honda, Yamaha…

    “Yet, working conditions are precarious. Foreigners are often hired through temporary employment agencies, so they can be easily fired. They live in company housing, so they lose their apartments when they lose their jobs. There hasn’t been a marked increase in homelessness, but anecdotes of foreigners having to move in with friends or relatives abound…”

    How political — the unemployment rate is a very political thing in Japan, as it likes to boast worldwide how (artificially) low unemployment is. I guess it’s clear now that bringing in NJ labor has an extra benefit — not only are they cheap, you don’t count them if they lose their jobs!

    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 7 Comments »

    Tangent: Excellent Ramen at Sakurajima, Sapporo Nishi-ku

    Posted by arudou debito on 26th October 2008

    Complete tangent on a Sunday: An amazing ramen place I found in Sapporo. Feel free to contribute your favorite ramen places (hey, this is Japan — we have to talk about food sometime!)

    Posted in Food, Tangents | 4 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 24, 2008

    Posted by arudou debito on 25th October 2008

    Table of Contents:
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    GOJ ARGUES AGAINST ANTI DISCRIM LAWS TO UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
    1) Excerpts and critique of the Japanese Govt’s “Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth
    Combined Periodic Report” to UN HRC
    2) South Korea’s 2007 “Basic Act on Treatment of Foreigners Residing in Korea”.
    Contrast with Japan.

    JAPAN’S LABOR MARKET AND DISCRIMINATION:
    3) Japan Times editorial Oct 6: Japan’s foreign workers
    4) Reuters: Keidanren business lobby calls for more immigrants
    5) Chand B on AXA Direct Insurance requiring J language proficiency to qualify for coverage
    6) “Japanese Only” at Tokyo Takadanobaba private-sector job placement agency
    7) Debito.org Poll about discriminatory activities brought up by Oct 5 Asahi article

    MISCELLANEOUS:
    8) Getchan on how to circumvent Postal Money Orders and transfer money more easily
    9) Kyodo: ‘Institutional racism’ lets Japan spouses abduct kids
    10) AP article proffers cultural reasons for keeping Internet denizens anonymous

    SPEECH THIS SUNDAY:
    11) Debito speaks at Tokyo University Komaba Campus on Media Propaganda against NJ residents

    … and finally …
    12) Tangent: Silly poll on Debito’s new beard
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Posted in Newsletters | 1 Comment »

    Linguapax Speech on Media Propaganda Sun, Oct 26, Tokyo U Komaba Campus

    Posted by arudou debito on 24th October 2008

    I have a speech this Sunday at Tokyo University Komaba Campus, entitled:

    PROPADANDA IN J MEDIA
    Manufacturing consent for national goals at the expense of NJ residents
    By ARUDOU Debito
    Associate Professor, Hokkaido Information University
    Linguapax Asia 2008 Fifth International Symposium
    Tokyo University, Sunday, October 26, 2008

    Download my Powerpoint Presentation at
    http://www.debito.org/arudoudebito_linguapaxasia2008.ppt

    My thesis:
    “To manufacture consent around certain national goals, Japan’s media sometimes blurs the line between rumor, opinion, and substantiated fact. This ‘others’ those not always considered to be ‘part of Japan’: Non-Japanese residents.”

    Posted in Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Speech materials | No Comments »

    Excerpts and critique of the Japanese Govt’s “Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Combined Periodic Report” to UN HRC

    Posted by arudou debito on 23rd October 2008

    I last reported on this issue here last August 30, when the Japan Times covered it. Long-time readers may find the following guffaw-worthy, from it’s very title: “The third, fourth, fifth and sixth combined periodic report” to the United Nations Human Rights Council — indicating just how late the GOJ is filing a report, on what it’s doing towards the promotion of human rights in Japan, that is actually due every two years.

    Then get a load of the bunkum the GOJ reports with a straight face. Most glaring lapse of logic: If the GOJ had taken “every conceivable measure” as it claims in its introduction, that would naturally include a law against racial discrimination, wouldn’t it? Like South Korea did in 2007. But no. And look what happens as a result. Excerpts and critique of the GOJ UN report follow. Dig through it, and you’ll find self-evident weaknesses and contradictory claims throughout.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, United Nations | 7 Comments »

    South Korea’s 2007 “Basic Act on Treatment of Foreigners Residing in Korea”. Hello Japan?

    Posted by arudou debito on 22nd October 2008

    In 2007, South Korea passed “The Basic Act on Treatment of Foreigners Residing in Korea”, a law regarding equitable treatment and human rights protections for foreigners and naturalized Koreans. This is on top of government apparatus established specifically to enforce those protections. While I’m sure the system is far from perfect (the UN’s comments below are eerily similar to what goes on in Japan), if South Korea can pass a law on this, so can Japan. Here is more information on it from the ROK and the UN.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation | 8 Comments »

    ヒューライツ大阪:「韓国・在韓外国人処遇基本法が施行」

    Posted by arudou debito on 22nd October 2008

    ヒューライツ大阪: 韓国・在韓外国人処遇基本法が施行
      韓国では、「在韓外国人処遇基本法」が2007年4月27日に国会を通過し、7月18日から施行されました。近年、在韓外国人が増加するにしたがい、その国籍も多様になり、居住にいたる背景も、労働、結婚による移住、難民など多岐にわたっています。統計庁によると2006年現在632,490人の外国人が住民登録をしており、10年前に比べると4倍近く増えています。また2007年7月現在、オーバーステイなど「未登録外国人」が約224,000人滞在しています(法務部資料)。
      しかし、韓国社会では、政策の問題や差別排外的な社会意識によって、外国人に対する差別事象や人権侵害が生じており、これまで市民団体が公的機関に先んじて、外国人の支援活動を行ってきました。

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, 日本語 | No Comments »

    Chand B on AXA Direct Insurance requiring J language proficiency to qualify for coverage

    Posted by arudou debito on 21st October 2008

    Chand B writes: “Axa Direct Japan, a subsidiary of the global Axa Insurance Group, has begun discriminating against Non Japanese.

    “Axa is presently running television commercials on Japanese cable television, specifically CNN Japan, offering value car insurance, the catch? Small print subtitling the advert stating

    ‘Being resident in Japan and understanding spoken and written Japanese are the basic requirements for any transaction of this insurance service.’…

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 33 Comments »

    Tangent: Silly Beard Poll

    Posted by arudou debito on 20th October 2008

    We’ve had serious polls for a number of weeks now, people. Time for a silly one.

    I’ve grown a beard. Recent photo included in this blog entry. Do you like it?

    Let the world hear your voice on this incredibly important issue! Vote early, vote often! Click on the poll at the top right of this blog page! Debeardo in Sapporo

    Posted in Blog Polls, Humor, Tangents | 23 Comments »

    “Japanese Only” at Tokyo Takadanobaba private-sector job placement agency

    Posted by arudou debito on 20th October 2008

    A private-sector job search agency for day laborers in Takadanobaba (and other branches, confirmed) refuse foreign laborers. Says so explicitly on their sign. A phone call to them confirm this was fruitful, and after mentioning that this is in direct violation of the Labor Standards Law (Articles 3 and 4), they said they’ll doryoku shimasu.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 20 Comments »

    Getchan on how to circumvent Postal Money Orders and transfer money more easily

    Posted by arudou debito on 19th October 2008

    Addendum to a recent post regarding lousy service and third-degree when trying to remit money through the Post Office as a NJ: Good advice from a professional remitter about how to circumvent the system.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Practical advice | 5 Comments »

    Kyodo: ‘Institutional racism’ lets Japan spouses abduct kids

    Posted by arudou debito on 18th October 2008

    Clarke, 38, who lives in central England, has since been given an order from the British courts that declares that the children are “habitually resident” in Britain, and he claims his wife would be prosecuted under English law if she returned.

    However, the family judge in Ibaraki Prefecture has told Clarke informally that if his case went to court, he would not order that the children return home or give Clarke access.

    The judge explained that it was “complicated” and he did not have the powers to enforce an order coming from a British court, Clarke said.

    Critics claim this habitual refusal from family courts stems from the fact that Japan has not yet ratified the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction…

    “The message to Japanese nationals is that they can commit crimes on foreign soil and if they get home in time they won’t face extradition,” he said.

    He said he has had little help from the British Embassy or government in his fight.

    Posted in Human Rights, Injustice, Lawsuits, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 9 Comments »

    AP article proffers cultural reasons for keeping Internet denizens anonymous

    Posted by arudou debito on 17th October 2008

    Here’s an article about a subject I hold a bit dear: a valuable source of information and even social movement being subverted into a source of bullying and character assassination.

    At the heart of it is the denial of a fundamental right granted in developed fora such as courtrooms and (until now) the court of public opinion: the right to know who your accuser is. But by allowing near-absolute online anonymity, it makes the arena for discussion, fight, or whatever you want to call the interaction, unfair — when people become targeted by irresponsible anons who can say what they want with complete impunity. I’ve faced that firsthand these past three months just dealing with the snakepit that is a Wikipedia Talk Page.

    In the article below, we’re having justifications for it being dressed up on the guise of “Japanese culture” and increased communication “without worrying about whoever’s talking”. That’s all very well until you’re the one being talked about. That issue is very much underdeveloped in the article about Mixi et al. below, even though it applies to Japan (and to other online societies, such as the one connected to the recent celebrity suicide in Korea) as well. Knock off the silly argument that infers that “Japanese are naturally shy so they need a cloaking device in order to speak freely”. That’s precisely the argument that BBS 2-Channel’s Nishimura makes as he promotes his own impunity.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, 2ちゃんねる, Media | 3 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 14, 2008

    Posted by arudou debito on 17th October 2008

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    1) Rogues’ Gallery of “Japanese Only” Establishments updated:
    Tokyo Akihabara, Kabukicho, Minami-Azabu, Tsukiji, and Ishikawa added
    2) Asahi/CNN: GOJ survey report: 38% of J hotels had no NJ guests in 2007,
    and 72% of those (as in 27% of all hotels surveyed) don’t want NJ guests
    3) Fukushima Prefectural Tourist Information Association lists “No Foreigner” hotels
    on their official website, 2007
    4) Jerry Halvorsen on suspicious bank treatment for receiving money from overseas while NJ
    5) Oct 5′s Asahi on NJ discrimination and what to do about it
    6) Week of October 1-10 Debito.org poll on discriminatory language
    7) Discussion: Nationality vs. ethnicity.
    Japan’s media lays claim to naturalized J-American Nobel Prizewinner
    8) Oyako-Net street demo regarding parenting rights after divorce in Japan Oct 26 1PM Ebisu

    … and finally…
    9) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column on how “gaijin” concept destroys Japan’s rural communities
    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Japan Times editorial Oct 6: Japan’s foreign workers

    Posted by arudou debito on 16th October 2008

    Editorial: The number of regular foreign employees has also leaped to its highest level ever, giving evidence that the new workers are not merely here for a few years, but intend to stay much longer.

    More than one-third of all foreign workers are listed as heads of household with contract worker or temporary worker status. This suggests that many of these workers are starting to call Japan home. Workers are still coming over for short-term work, but even those short-termers are working here for increasingly longer periods of time.

    Having all workers documented by companies and reported to the government signals a more responsible approach than the often-exploitative conditions for many foreign workers in the past. Though the total percentage still remains small, these workers are integrating more deeply into Japanese workplaces and society. That integration demands better conditions and a more concerted effort to find ways of successful and productive integration. Finding the right way forward on this issue is rather tricky, but can be expedited by focusing on the essentials of work and health.

    First of all, it is essential that past problems with foreign workers be resolved. The importing of “trainees” and “interns,” terms often used to cover up exploitative and even illegal work practices in the past, needs closer oversight. Foreign workers should also be enrolled in social insurance, including pensions and health care, on an equal basis with Japanese workers. Contracts, too, need to be better negotiated and clearly written. When contracts are broken, on an individual or large-scale basis, foreign workers should be assured of the same rights as Japanese.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 1 Comment »

    Reuters: Keidanren business lobby calls for more immigrants

    Posted by arudou debito on 15th October 2008

    TOKYO, Oct 13 (Reuters) – Japan’s most powerful business lobby will change its long-held policy and call on the nation to accept more immigrants, Mainichi newspaper reported on Monday, as the world’s fastest ageing nation faces serious labour shortages.

    The Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), whose policy on immigration to date has been to limit foreign labourers to fixed contracts, will announce the change on Tuesday, the Mainichi newspaper said.

    Further comment and historical record behind this decision in this blog entry…

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Politics | 4 Comments »

    Rogues’ Gallery of “Japanese Only” Establishments updated: Tokyo Akihabara, Kabukicho, Minami-Azabu, Tsukiji, & Ishikawa added

    Posted by arudou debito on 14th October 2008

    The “Rogues’ Gallery”, an archive of “Japanese Only” exclusionary establishments spreading nationwide across Japan, has now been updated for the season.

    Added have been Tokyo Akihabara (shop), Minami-Asabu (ballet school), Kabukichou (nightlife), Tsukiji (seafood restaurant), and Ishikawa (a newspaper subscription outlet for the Hokkoku Shinbun — yes, a Japanese newspaper outlet refusing NJ subscribers).

    This brings the tally to (places and types of establishment):

    Onsens in Otaru (Hokkaido), Bars, baths, karaoke, and restaurant in Monbetsu City (Hokkaido), Public bath and sports store in Wakkanai (Hokkaido), Pachinko parlor, restaurant, and nightlife in Sapporo (Hokkaido), Bars in Misawa (Aomori Pref), Disco in Akita City (Akita Pref), Hotels and Bar in Shinjuku and Kabukicho (Tokyo Shinjuku-ku), Ballet School in Minami-Azabu (Tokyo Minato-ku), Seafood restaurant in Tsukiji (Tokyo Minato-ku), Weapons etc. store in Akihabara (Tokyo Chiyoda-ku), Women’s (i.e for women customers) Relaxation Boutique in Aoyama Doori (Tokyo Minato-ku), Bar in Ogikubo (Tokyo Suginami-ku), Bars in Koshigaya (Saitama Pref), Bar in Toda-Shi(Saitama Pref), Stores and nightclubs in Hamamatsu (Shizuoka Pref), Onsen in Kofu City (Yamanashi Pref), Nightlife in Isesaki City (Gunma Pref), Nightlife in Ota City (Gunma Pref), Bars in Nagoya City (Aichi Pref), Internet Cafe in Okazaki City (Aichi Pref), Hokkoku Shinbun Newspaper in Nonochi, Ishikawa Pref. (yes, you read that right), Onsen Hotel in Kyoto, Eyeglass store in Daitou City (Osaka Pref), Apartments in Fukshima-ku (Osaka City), Bar in Kurashiki (Okayama Pref), Nightclub and Bar in Hiroshima(Hiroshima Pref), Restaurant in Kokura, Kitakyushu City (Fukuoka Pref), Billiards hall in Uruma City Gushikawa (Okinawa Pref), Miscellaneous exclusionary signs (Tokyo Ikebukuro, Kabukicho, Hiroshima).

    Update details as follows:

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, debito.org blog and website biz, Exclusionism, Human Rights | 33 Comments »

    Tangent: Michael Moore on how to deal with America’s financial crisis.

    Posted by arudou debito on 13th October 2008

    From Michael Moore: The richest 400 Americans — that’s right, just four hundred people — own MORE than the bottom 150 million Americans combined. 400 rich Americans have got more stashed away than half the entire country! Their combined net worth is $1.6 trillion. During the eight years of the Bush Administration, their wealth has increased by nearly $700 billion — the same amount that they are now demanding we give to them for the “bailout.” Why don’t they just spend the money they made under Bush to bail themselves out? They’d still have nearly a trillion dollars left over to spread amongst themselves!

    Of course, they are not going to do that — at least not voluntarily. George W. Bush was handed a $127 billion surplus when Bill Clinton left office. Because that money was OUR money and not his, he did what the rich prefer to do — spend it and never look back. Now we have a $9.5 trillion debt. Why on earth would we even think of giving these robber barons any more of our money?

    I would like to propose my own bailout plan… after consulting with a number of people smarter than Phil Gramm, here is my proposal, now known as “Mike’s Rescue Plan.” It has 10 simple, straightforward points. They are:

    Posted in Tangents | 1 Comment »

    Quick commentary on Oct 1-10 08 Debito.org poll on discriminatory language

    Posted by arudou debito on 12th October 2008

      BRIEF COMMENT:  I caution readers not to read too much into this poll.  It’s a select group of words to a (pretty) select readership.  But a point of clarification: People were allowed multiple entries, and the total number of voters was at poll closing 230 people.  This means that one person voting for, say, […]

    Posted in Blog Polls | 3 Comments »

    Jerry Halvorsen on suspicious bank treatment for receiving money from overseas while NJ

    Posted by arudou debito on 11th October 2008

    A report from Jerry Halvorsen, thirty-year resident of Sapporo, who got the third degree at Hokuto Bank on October 7, for receiving money (his own) from overseas into a katakana account — and being treated like a potential money launderer even when the amount being processed is far below international alarm standards. This is not the first time this has happened to NJ at Japanese banks. Jerry tells his story and I supply some referential links. Protest when this happens to you — it works.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 14 Comments »

    Fukushima Prefectural Tourist Information Association lists “No Foreigner” hotels on their official website, 2007

    Posted by arudou debito on 10th October 2008

    As a matter of record, here is a notification I received from a reader last year regarding the Tourist Information Fukushima website, an official prefectural government site, which offered information about sights and stays in the area. They allowed — even publicized — hotels that expressly refused accommodation to NJ guests (I called a few of them to confirm, and yes, they don’t want NJ guests due to the owner’s own classic fears — language barriers, no Western beds, a fear that NJ might steal, or noncommunication in case of emergency or trouble). As the emails I received from TIF later on indicate (it took them some time to get back to me), they have since instructed the hotels that what they are doing is in violation of hotel laws, and have corrected the TIF website to remove the option of refusing foreigners.

    Thanks, I guess. Now why a government agency felt like offering hotels an exclusionary option in the first place is a bit stupefying.

    Given October 2008′s GOJ hotel survey indicating that 27% of respondents didn’t want NJ staying on their premises, this may be but the tip of the iceberg.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, 日本語 | 5 Comments »

    Asahi/CNN: GOJ survey report: 38% of J hotels had no NJ guests in 2007, and 72% of those (as in 27%) don’t want NJ guests

    Posted by arudou debito on 10th October 2008

    CNN: Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs says over 70 percent of Japanese inns and hotels that didn’t have foreign guests last year don’t want any in the future either.

    The ministry says that a survey of such businesses showed they feel unable to support foreign languages and that their facilities are not suited to foreigners.

    The survey released Thursday shows that over 60 percent of Japan’s inns and hotels had foreign guests last year, but the majority of the rest don’t want any.

    It was released as Japan continues its efforts to attract more foreign visitors. The country’s “Visit Japan Campaign” aims to draw 10 million foreigners to the country for trips and business in the year 2010, up from 8.35 million last year.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 18 Comments »

    Discussion: Nationality vs. ethnicity. Japan’s media lays claim to naturalized J-American Nobel Prizewinner

    Posted by arudou debito on 9th October 2008

    I think we have an interesting opportunity to discuss issues of ethnicity vs. nationality in Japan, with the J media’s treatment of three recent Nobel Prizewinners.

    The J media claimed yesterday that “three Japanese just won a Nobel for Physics”, even though one emigrated to the United States, has lived there for 56 years, and has worked at the University of Chicago for 40. From an American and Japanese standpoint he’s ethnically Japanese, of course (he was born and lived his formative years in Japan). But he’s certifiably American in terms of nationality (one assumes he gave up his Japanese citizenship, which would be required under normal circumstances as Japan does not allow dual nationality). That didn’t stop Japan’s media from headlining that “3 Japanese won”. What do readers think? Is it appropriate?

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Immigration & Assimilation, Media, 日本語 | 31 Comments »

    Oyako-Net street demo regarding parenting rights after divorce in Japan Oct 26 1PM Ebisu

    Posted by arudou debito on 9th October 2008

    THE STREET DEMONSTRATION to establish parenting rights after divorce -part 2

    We will have another street demonstration in Tokyo since the first demonstration in July. Please come and join us! Music, Dancing and other performances are welcome !

    When: Oct 26th, 2008 meet at 1:00 pm/ start at 1:30pm. Where: Meet at Ebisu-Kouen, Shibuya and walk to Kodomo no Shiro (Children’s Castle), Aoyama.

    ※Ebisu-Kouen (1-19-11 Ebishu Nishi) 

    5 minutes walk from Ebisu-Station West Exit.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings | 1 Comment »

    Tangent: Question raised about apparently problematic judicial ruling on media responsibility for public criticism

    Posted by arudou debito on 8th October 2008

    Question about the role of the media in defamation in Japan, regarding lawyer and current Osaka Gov Hashimoto losing a court case re televised statements he made about a group of lawyers:

    “But it seems the English translation [in the Daily Yomiuri] “… urging the public to call for disciplinary action through mass media was illegal …” does justice to the original in Japanese. If that is correct, then we have a judge stating that I cannot go on television to ask the public to send letters to Prime Minister Aso to fire Mr. Kakayama. Well, “mass media” would include print, web, radio, etc.

    “Am I missing something here? It doesn’t read in Japanese or English that it was only illegal for a lawyer to do this. It doesn’t read that it is only illegal reference a bar association. It appears to be a general statement.

    “Can anyone please explain to me where I am getting this wrong? I ask because this can’t possibly be correct, can it? Haven’t we seen letters and appeals to the public to a prime minister for one of his cabinet officials to be fired?”

    Posted in Lawsuits, Media, Tangents | 4 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column on how “gaijin” concept destroys Japan’s rural communities

    Posted by arudou debito on 7th October 2008

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE/ZEIT GIST Column excerpt:
    Allow me to conclude my trilogy of columns regarding the word “gaijin” this month by talking about the damage the concept does to Japanese society. That’s right — damage to Japanese society.

    I previously mentioned the historical fact that “gaijin” once also applied to Japanese — to “outsiders” not from one’s neighborhood. But as Japan unified and built a nation-state, it made its “volk” all one “community,” for political and jingoistic reasons. Anyone considered to be Japanese became an “insider,” while the rest of the world became “outsiders,” neatly pigeonholed by that contentious term “gaijin.”

    However, old habits die hard, and “outsiderdom” still applies to Japanese. Even if not specifically labeled “gaijin,” the effect is the same: If Japanese aren’t from “around here,” they don’t belong, and it’s destroying Japan’s rural communities.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, History, Immigration & Assimilation | 32 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 6, 2008

    Posted by arudou debito on 6th October 2008

    Table of Contents:
    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    THE “GAIJIN” DEBATE
    1) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 6: The case for “Gaijin” as a racist word
    2) Japan Times readers respond to my “Once a ‘gaijin,’ always a ‘gaijin’?” JUST BE CAUSE Column
    3) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 7: Sequel to “Gaijin” as a racist word
    4) The Japan Times Community Page on the JBC “Gaijin Debate”, part two.
    5) Results of our fourth Debito.org poll: Do you think the word “gaijin” should be avoided
    (in favor of other words, like, say, gaikokujin)?
    6) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 8 out Tuesday Oct 7, on how the concept of “gaijin”, or “outsider”, hurts Japan’s countryside

    WIKIPEDIA WOES
    7) My problems with Wikipedia: Its biased entry on “Arudou Debito”
    8) Excellent essay on Wikipedia on the origin of “Criticism” sections
    9) Citizendium, the more responsible replacement for Wikipedia, does better article on Arudou Debito
    … but when Wikipedia is notified of editing concerns, “guardian editors” go on the offensive…

    STRAY THOUGHTS
    10) Some thoughts on former PM Koizumi as he resigns his Diet seat
    11) Thoughts after seeing Li Ying’s movie “Yasukuni” at PGL
    12) Tangent: Metropolis Mag (Tokyo) on the annual August Yasukuni “debates”

    TANGENTS
    13) Japan Times FYI on Japan’s Supreme Court
    14) Very good report on Japanese criminal justice system from British Channel 4
    15) Iwate NichiNichi on recent speech
    16) Tanya Clark reviews HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS very favorably.
    17) Had a phenomenal experience at Nagoya University with multiculturalism
    18) Results of our first Debito.org poll: In your opinion, is Japan an easy place to live?
    19) Results of our second poll: In your opinion, is Japan an easy place to work?
    20) Results of our third poll: Would you choose Japan as your permanent residence?
    21) Bankruptcy of a monopoly: Good riddance to Yohan foreign book distributor

    TALKS OF INTEREST
    22) Linguapax Conference Symposium Univ of Tokyo Sun Oct 26
    23) FCCJ Kansai Professor’s Workshop Sat Nov 15, Doshisha Univ for aspiring journalists
    24) JALT PALE SIG Featured Speaker Sun Nov 2 Tokyo
    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Get Japan Times tomorrow Tues Oct 7: New JUST BE CAUSE Column on “Gaijin” Part 3

    Posted by arudou debito on 6th October 2008

    Just a quick word to tell you about my next column, coming out tomorrow morning Tues Oct 7 (Weds in ruralities, which is appropriate to this essay). Topic: “Gaijin” Part 3, about how the strict “insider-outsider” paradigm in Japan also affects Japanese who move house, and find themselves isolated as “newcomers” to the point where it’s destroying Japan’s countryside.

    Posted in Articles & Publications | 2 Comments »

    10月5日朝日新聞(朝)「後絶たぬ『外国人お断り』」Oct 5′s Asahi on NJ discrimination and what to do about it

    Posted by arudou debito on 5th October 2008

    Nice quote from the Asahi this morning on how discrimination is logically flawed, and how human rights are necessary in this day of migrant labor to Japan:
    2008年10月5日の朝日朝刊:「北海道の温泉施設が『外国人の入場お断り』の張り紙を掲げたのが98年。裁判で『差別に当たる』と認定され、施設側に賠償を命じる判決が出た。だが日本で暮らしす外国人は今も様々な差別を感じてる。『ジャパニーズ・オンリー」の看板は後を絶たず、外国人に日本人の数倍の入場料金を払わせていた入浴施設もある。

     『マナーが心配ならルールを明確にして、守らない人を断れば良い。肌の色や国籍は関係ありません。日本が海外の人材を必要とする今、外国人の権利をきちんとことこそが重要な歓迎メッセージになるはずです』。入浴拒否訴訟の原告で、米国出身の有道 出人、北海道情報大学准教授はそう指摘する。」

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 5 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 3, 2008

    Posted by arudou debito on 4th October 2008

    Table of Contents:
    ///////////////////////////////////////////
    GOOD NEWS:
    1) Glimmers of hope: New PM Aso does not single out NJ as potential terrorists or agents of crime
    2) The Aso Cabinet gaffes start from day one: Minister retracts “ethnically homogeneous Japan” remark
    3) First Aso Cabinet member resigns — tripped up (inter alia) by comments regarding Japan’s ethnic mix
    4) Tangent: JK asks what happens to scandalized Japanese politicians
    5) Japan Times on worries about Post-Fukuda immigration policies
    6) LetsJapan Blog on new Saitama Pref stickers for NJ-friendly realtors
    7) Japan Times Community Page on upcoming movie on divorce and child abduction in Japan
    8) Asahi Shinbun on how some NJ are assimilating by joining neighborhood associations

    BAD NEWS
    9) Mainichi: Female NJ Trainee Visa workers underpaid by Yamanashi company, beaten, attempted deportation
    10) Guardian UK on child abductions in Japan, this time concerning UK citizens
    11) Japan Times on how divorce and child custody in Japan is not a fair fight
    12) UK now considering introducing Gaijin Cards
    13) Reader AS voices concerns re Softbank regulations and Japanese Language Proficiency Test
    14) Third Degree given NJ who want Post Office money order

    MIXED AND ABSURD NEWS
    15) Japan Times: GOJ claims to UN that it has made “every conceivable” effort to eliminate racial discrim
    16) IHT/NYT: As its work force ages, Japan needs and fears Chinese labor
    17) GOJ announces J population rises. But excludes NJ residents from survey.
    18) NJ baby left at anonymous “baby hatch”. Kokuseki wa? Eligible for Japanese! Er, yes, but…
    19) Jon Dujmovich speculates on media distractions: PM Fukuda’s resignation vs. alleged NJ Sumo pot smoking
    20) 2-Channel’s Nishimura again ducks responsibility for BBS’s excesses
    21) First Waiwai, now Japan Times’ Tokyo Confidential now in Internet “Japan Image Police” sights
    22) Irony: Economist reports on Chinese Olympic security; why not on similar Hokkaido G8 security?

    … and finally…
    23) Letter to California Gov. Schwarzenegger on eliminating UCSC English program
    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    JK asks what happens to scandalized Japanese politicians

    Posted by arudou debito on 3rd October 2008

    For discussion: What happens to J politicians tainted by scandal? Do they just leave office, collect a pension, and die ignobly? Or do they get a second chance later for the most part, and stage political comebacks? What do people know about their favorite scandalized politician? I give Yamasaki Taku, Suzuki Muneo, and “Knock” Yokoyama as three examples, with only one ending in no political comeback. More?

    Posted in Discussions, Japanese Politics | 4 Comments »

    岩手日日:「日本の国際化テーマに」Iwate NichiNichi on recent speech

    Posted by arudou debito on 2nd October 2008

    岩手日日新聞:「日本の国際化テーマに 北上 有道さんが講演」
    Iwate NichiNichi Shinbun has article on one of my recent speeches down south, complete with my new beard.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Speech materials, 日本語 | 3 Comments »

    Citizendium, the more responsible replacement for Wikipedia, does better article on Arudou Debito

    Posted by arudou debito on 1st October 2008

    Last August I began taking on Wikipedia’s heavily-biased (even by its own standards) entry on Arudou Debito, pointing out some systemic flaws in the media: among other things, how all manner of anonymous people can launder quotes and alleged criticisms by citing websites as if they were genuine publications (and their authors as if they were established authorities in the field), yet omit published third-party sources and comments by true authorities just because they were archived on Debito.org (or just because they don’t fit in as “Criticisms”, wink). It was a good discussion, but now that it’s died down, the Wikipedia entry is just steadily reverting back to the same old biased and laundered references, and losing impartiality all over again. (And I’m not even bothering with the Japanese version of the entry — there’s no saving it from anonymous net denizens without even an inkling of integrity.) So forget it. Wikipedia as a medium is probably unredeemable in its present form.

    Meanwhile, arising is an alternative — Citizendium, where contributors must have verified identities. and articles cannot be so easily defaced at whim. I like how the article on Arudou Debito has come out so far there. Reproduced below. I suggest readers start switching to Citizendium particularly when it comes to information on contentious topics and people.

    UPDATE: After this blog entry appeared, I appealed to Wikipedia to do something about what I considered issues of unfairness and inability to abide by its own rules. The editors then went on the offensive, hurling accusations at me of altering my own article (untrue) and of trying to make their article on me in to an “advertisement” and a “micro-managed resume” (not the intention). Then they refused to police one of their own editors regarding issues of identity and a potential conflict of interest regarding a source (I suspect one of the “guardian editors” is in fact not only policing the entry but also adding their own (unpublished and biased) source against the rules). The motives eventually came out: To quote one “editor”, who demanded that a positive book review in a national newspaper (The Japan Times) be removed: “…we can’t have just praise. Either a reliably sourced criticism needs to be added, or the praise needs to be removed.” Come again? We can’t have PRAISE in a biography? Unless there’s criticism? Even though there’s been almost nothing but criticism Wikied there for years now?

    Thus several weeks after first raising this issue, Wikipedia still refuses to clean up its own act — instead treats the subject of their own biography of a living person with derision and contempt. How nice. And biased. Hence Citizendium.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media | 11 Comments »

    FCCJ Kansai Professor’s Workshop Sat Nov 15, Doshisha Univ for Profs who want to use journalistic techniques in class

    Posted by arudou debito on 1st October 2008

    FCCJ KANSAI PROFESSORS’ WORKSHOP
    WHEN: Saturday, November 15th, 3-5 p.m.,
    WHERE : Imadegawa Campus, Doshisha University (map will be provided later)
    COST: 3,000 yen/person (includes tea and coffee)
    DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATION: Nov. 5th.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Media | 1 Comment »