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  • Archive for November, 2008

    More on nationality law and children born out of wedlock: Conservatives causing policy balk

    Posted by arudou debito on 30th November 2008

    More on the debate on recognizing paternity and plugging loopholes in the nationality law — and how the conservatives are throwing up roadblocks in between houses of parliament… and blaming a “constituency” of blog messages for it:

    Japan Times: With the revised Nationality Law expected to clear the Diet soon, some ruling party lawmakers are at the last minute claiming the amendment may spark problems, such as possibly creating a “black market” in false paternal recognition.

    However, it seems too late in the day for them to block passage, because the revised bill cleared the Lower House last week and the Upper House Justice Committee is entering the last stage of deliberations and is expected to vote as early as next week.

    The amendment will allow children born out of wedlock to Japanese men and foreign women to obtain Japanese nationality if the father acknowledges paternity after the birth…

    “If a law like this is misused, what will happen to the Japanese identity?” asked Takeo Hiranuma, a former trade minister widely considered a hardcore hawk, at an emergency meeting with 13 Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers last week to discuss issues arising from the revision…

    One reason that made them act at this late stage was what they claim is the public questioning the amendment. Some lawmakers said there have been hundreds of comments written in their blogs, mostly warning of the potential problems the revision may bring.

    “The comments will keep increasing and would go crazy if the revision clears the Diet,” said LDP Lower House member Toru Toida, who has been getting hundreds of comments in his blog.

    If the revision clears the Diet, then “people would claim that the Diet is not doing a proper job,” Toida said.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics | 4 Comments »

    Kyodo: MOJ announces it snagged 846 NJ since reinstituting fingerprinting

    Posted by arudou debito on 29th November 2008

    One thing I’ll give the GOJ: They’re predictable when under pressure. After one year of fingerprinting NJ at the border in the name of anti-terrorism and anti-crime, the MOJ decided to announce the number of NJ they netted, no doubt to claim that all the effort and money was somehow worth it. Problem is, as Sendaiben pointed out when submitting this link, that there is no comparison with how many people get snagged on an annual basis even BEFORE fingerprinting was reinstituted.

    To me that’s another predictability: you just know if the information was in the GOJ’s favor, they would have released it as well. But this glaring omission I bet means there’s not much statistical difference. Besides, the GOJ similarly congratulated themselves last year when announced their catch the first day after fingerprinting was instituted, even though the fine print revealed those NJ were snagged for funny passports, not fingerprints. And we’ll throw in data about visa overstayers (even though that’s unrelated to the fingerprinting, since fingerprinting is a border activity, and overstaying is something that happens after you cross the border) just because the media will swallow it and help the public make a mental association.

    Likewise, there is no ultracentrifuging of the data below to see how many were done for passports or fingerprints again. And of course, predictably, the J media is not asking analytical questions of their own. The closest we get is the admission that the GOJ is collecting these fingerprints to submit to other governments. Which is probably the real intention of this, Japan’s “contribution to the war on terror”. What a crock.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Japanese Government, Media | 6 Comments »

    JALT TLT: James McCrostie on NJ job insecurity at Japan’s universities

    Posted by arudou debito on 28th November 2008

    Behind the Music: An explanation of the university shuffle
    James McCrostie
    Published in the April 2007 issue of JALT’s The Language Teacher
    in the Job Info Center column (p. 45 – 46).

    Working at Japanese universities resembles musical chairs. Every year the music starts and instructors with expiring contracts run around looking for a new job. Most universities hiring foreigners full-time offer one-year contracts, renewable three or four times. Contrary to popular belief, universities don’t cap renewals at three or four because if a teacher works long enough they can’t be fired. Schools remain safe as long as they state the number of renewals and a few have contracts renewable up to ten years.

    To most thinking people, forcing instructors to leave every few years appears short sighted. Yet, university and government officials have their own reasons for preferring term-limits.

    Keeping costs down is one reason…

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Education, History, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 10 Comments »

    In Iwate this weekend, blog updated less often

    Posted by arudou debito on 28th November 2008

    Hi Blog.  I’m in Iwate giving four speeches this weekend.  I’m not sure how much time or internet access I will have, so there may be some delay in site updates and approving comments.  Please bear with me.  Thanks to everyone as always for reading and contributing to Debito.org.  Arudou Debito in transit.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

    Britain’s “Gaijin Card” system comes online: UK Telegraph warns against potential foreign celebrity backlash

    Posted by arudou debito on 27th November 2008

    Compare and contrast the introduction of fingerprinting (moreover Gaijin Cards) for foreigners in the UK. At least Britons are protesting it, and the media is giving them a voice. That’s more than can be said for Japan last year around November 20, when the media suppressed the opinion of NJ residents and NGOs:

    Daily Telegraph: From today, anyone from outside the European Union who wants to live and work in the UK for more than six months will have to apply for a compulsory British ID card.

    Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, wants 90 per cent of foreign residents in Britain to have identity cards by 2014.

    To get an ID card, people will have their faces scanned and will have to give 10 fingerprints.

    Campaigners fear that this will put off celebrities like American singer Madonna from setting up home here and so damage the cultural life of the nation.

    In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group including author Philip Pullman, musicians Neil Tennant and Brian Eno, campaigning QC Baroness Kennedy and comedians Mark Thomas and Lucy Porter, warn of the damage to Britain’s image abroad…

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Cultural Issue, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Media | 11 Comments »

    The killer of Scott Tucker, choked to death by a DJ in a Tokyo bar, gets suspended sentence.

    Posted by arudou debito on 26th November 2008

    I made the case some months ago, in a special DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER on criminal justice and policing of NJ, that NJ get special (as in negative) treatment by courts and cops. An article I included from the Japan Times mentioned that a case of a NJ man killed in a bar “was likely to draw leniency” in criminal court. It did. The killer essentially got off last September. Here’s an article about it, from Charleston, WV:

    Charleston Gazette: Prosecutors in Japan have decided not appeal the sentence in the murder conviction of a man placed on five years’ probation for murdering Charleston native and West Virginia University graduate Scott Tucker.

    “Prosecutors decided not to even present the appeal,” said Kenneth Tucker II, Scott Tucker’s brother. “They said the witness’s testimony was strong enough not to appeal.”

    Tucker’s wife and family had hoped prosecutors would appeal the sentencing in an attempt to get the man jail time. But prosecutors said Thursday they would not pursue an appeal before the two-week window to file ends on Monday.

    On Sept. 8, Atsushi Watanabe, 29, was sentenced to three years in prison or five years’ probation for killing Scott Tucker. Under Japanese law, probation in murder cases can begin immediately so Watanabe will serve five years probation rather than three years in prison, David Yoshida, who attended the trial with Tucker’s wife, Yumiko Yamakazi, said previously.

    Yamakazi is weighing her options in pursuing a civil case against Watanabe, Kenneth Tucker said…

    Posted in Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Lawsuits, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 40 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 25, 2008

    Posted by arudou debito on 25th November 2008

    Table of Contents:
    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    GOOD NEWS
    1) LDP’s Kouno Taro submits J dual nationality proposal to Diet
    … and a majority of respondents to a Debito.org survey want it to go even further
    2) Asahi NP Op-Ed urges J to make education compulsory for NJ children too
    3) Japan Times update on granting children of mixed J/NJ parentage citizenship
    4) FYI: People working for American companies in Japan are covered by US Civil Rights Law

    BAD SCIENCE, BETTER SCIENCE
    5) Japan Times: PM Aso “stimulus plan” bribe taking flak, still unclear if NJ get handout
    6) Ibaraki Pref Police put up new and improved public posters portraying NJ as coastal invaders
    7) One year after Japan reinstitutes fingerprinting for NJ, a quick retrospective
    8) Kyodo: SDF’s Tomogami revisionist history shows cosiness between J military and right-wing nationalists
    9) Japan Times on GOJ’s new efforts to boost tourism to 20 million per annum
    10) GOJ Survey says “53% fear public safety problem from increased NJ tourists, want policy measures”
    11) Negative survey of NJ employers by J headhunting company “Careercross” to make “employers see their own bias”
    12) Compare: Good survey of “non-Japanese citizens in Sapporo” by Sapporo City
    13) Thoughtful essay in the Yomiuri on the word “Gaijin” by Mike Guest

    BTW…
    14) Speaking in Iwate next weekend: four speeches in E and J

    … and finally…
    15) Next Japan Times column December 2: Stray Thoughts on Obama’s Election
    and how the Bush Admin has spoiled it for activists here in Japan

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

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Yahoo News: 政府の世論調査: 外国人客増、5割強が「不安」GOJ survey: More than 50% fear NJ tourist influx

    Posted by arudou debito on 25th November 2008

     日本を訪れる外国人旅行客が増えることについて、5割強の人が治安面で不安に感じていることが政府の「観光立国と観光庁に関する世論調査」で22日、分かった。訪日外国人客(年間)は、2007年に過去最高の835万人を記録。政府は10年までに1000万人に増やすのを目標に誘致活動を進めているが、受け入れ態勢の整備とともに治安対策の強化も求められそうだ。

    We have an interesting little quickie article here in Japanese, describing how 53% of respondents to a government survey “are worried about public safety, and want some policy measures taken” with the proposed increase of NJ tourism. Nice of the GOJ to anticipate public fear and public need for security measures against NJ. Some more leading questions, please? Hey, the NJ are fair game in GOJ surveys, it seems.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Japanese Government, 日本語 | 8 Comments »

    Asahi NP Op-Ed urges J to make education compulsory for NJ children too

    Posted by arudou debito on 24th November 2008

    Asahi: So it seems obvious that a new clause must be added to the Fundamental Law of Education, for example, to ensure such children receive the education that is rightfully theirs.

    If children of foreign nationality are legally obliged to receive compulsory education, local governments would have to check to ensure they have been enrolled in school.

    The authorities would of course let guardians decide whether to enroll the children in international schools or Japanese public schools, but either way, they would have to ensure the children were actually attending school.

    A revised system like this would also improve awareness among foreign residents about their children’s right to an education.

    The government must tackle this problem seriously and implement measures to promote enrollment of foreign children in public or other schools.

    Such steps might include providing subsidies to international schools, producing and distributing free Japanese-language learning textbooks and assigning Japanese-language teachers to teach Japanese as a second language to children of foreign nationality.

    The future of these children is at stake. I strongly urge the government to make elementary and junior high school education compulsory for children of foreign nationality, too.

    Posted in Education, Exclusionism, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation | 4 Comments »

    Japan Times: PM Aso “stimulus plan” bribe taking flak, also still unclear if NJ get handout

    Posted by arudou debito on 23rd November 2008

    Japan Times: Criticism for a planned ¥2 trillion cash handout program, formally decided by the government led by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito on Wednesday, hasn’t ceased over the weekend, reviving the memory of the 1999 coupon program that cost ¥700 billion but had little benefit for the economy.

    Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa, appearing on a TV news program Saturday, waved a ¥10,000 bill before the camera and argued that the government should not be scattering cash around among people with no strategic economic focus.

    “The previous coupon handout program boosted the individual consumption portion of gross domestic product by only 0.1 percent. The Economic Planing Agency admitted that it had little economic effect,” Matsuzawa pointed out.

    Dozens of governors and mayors similarly have called on the government to spend that amount of money, if ever it will, with a clear strategic focus.

    “(The government ) will spend ¥2 trillion, which is equal to the budget of the Tottori Prefectural Government for five years. I cannot even visualize that amount of money,” Tottori Gov. Shinji Hirai said Thursday.

    Under the program announced by Prime Minister Taro Aso, the government plans to distribute ¥12,000 to every citizen, plus an additional ¥8,000 for each child 18 or younger and elderly person 65 or older. Whether foreigners will be covered has not been decided yet.

    Posted in Japanese Government, Japanese Politics | 12 Comments »

    Speaking in Iwate next weekend: four speeches in E and J

    Posted by arudou debito on 22nd November 2008

    Four speeches next weekend in Iwate. Do attend if you like. Speech with Japanese title is in Japanese. FYI, Debito

    ===================================
    REMAINING SPEECHES 2008

    Fri Nov 28, 2008, Iwate University, Speech 2:45 -3:45PM, 「『日本人』とは何だろう – アメリカ系日本人から見た過去・現在・未来」 , also 6:20 to 7:50 PM, ”What is Internationalization in 21st Century Japan?” (CONFIRMED)
    Sun Nov 30, 2008, Iwate JALT, CORRECTED TIME 1:30 TO 4:30PM, “An Afternoon with Arudou Debito”, Aiina, the Iwate prefectural public building near Morioka Stn (CONFIRMED)
    Mon Dec 1, 2008, Iwate Prefectural University, 2:40-4:10PM, Kyoutsuu Kyougi Tou Classroom 101, “What is Internationalization in 21st Century Japan?” (CONFIRMED)
    ===================================

    Posted in Speech materials | No Comments »

    FYI: People working for American companies in Japan are covered by US Civil Rights Law

    Posted by arudou debito on 22nd November 2008

    For the Americans (and anyone else) working in US multinational companies: The US Equal Employment Opportunities law applies even in Japan, and if you are being treated unfairly (and that includes being given contract employment while Japanese get regular employment), you can bring a charge under US law and call for US labor commission mediation even in Japan. Fact is, people working for American multinational companies have double labor rights/civil rights protections — both American and Japanese. And apparently the American government links to the civil rights authorities of other countries/unions like Canada and the EU. More on the USG EEOC site. Further, HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS AND IMMIGRANTS TO JAPAN has been helping people define their terms and anchor their arguments. Happy to hear.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Handbook for Newcomers, Labor issues, Practical advice | 10 Comments »

    One year after Japan reinstitutes fingerprinting for NJ, a quick retrospective

    Posted by arudou debito on 21st November 2008

    It’s already been a year since Japan reinstituted fingerprinting for most NJ on November 20, 2007. There are still concerns about its application, its efficacy, the sweetheart GOJ deal to quasi-American company Accenture to make these machines, the long lines at the border due to faulty machines, the lumping in of Permanent Residents with tourists, the official justifications in the name of preventing terrorism, infectious diseases, foreign crime, you name it.

    Anyway, time for a brief retrospective:

    Here’s an article from Maclean’s Magazine (Canada) from last March which I think puts it all pretty well. Also a letter from a friend who has a (Japanese) wife in the airline industry who gets caught in the NJ dragnet just because she doesn’t “look Japanese” enough for police in the airport.

    The shockwaves and indignations were so palpable that people banded together to form FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association), a lobbying and interest group to represent the interests of the “Newcomer” immigrants to Japan.

    There’s a whole heading on fingerprinting on this blog at
    http://www.debito.org/?cat=33
    but see special issues of the DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER on the subject here
    http://www.debito.org/?p=676 and http://www.debito.org/?p=788

    There’s also a special section on Debito.org for people to add their personal experiences with Immigration upon entering or returning to Japan, with 57 responses as of today. Any more?

    Posted in Discussions, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 21 Comments »

    Ibaraki Pref Police put up new and improved public posters portraying NJ as coastal invaders

    Posted by arudou debito on 20th November 2008

    The police and coast patrollers are out in force again in Ibaraki Prefecture, warning the public to be vigilant against “illegal entrants” (as in people who enter the country surreptitiously) and “illegal laborers”. Again, the title, “STOP THEM AT THE SHORES AND PROTECT”. Found on the wall at Tomobe Station in Mito, Ibaraki on Friday, October 24th, 2008.

    Er, I dunno why Ibaraki Prefecture feels the need to do this. Again. It’s certainly not the prefecture with the longest coastline in Japan, nor does it have a huge number of NJ residents or entrants, compared to Tokyo, Gifu, Shizuoka, or Aichi (whose police have not used the same degree of “coastal invader” alarmism).

    And you just gotta love the image of not only our subduing boys in blue armed with machine guns (I’m no expert in firepower, but that looks like an automatic weapon to me on his back), but also a military force in green at the bottom left disembarking from a transport like it’s D-Day.

    This is, alas, not the first time Ibaraki Prefectural police have resorted to this rubric, or these kinds of posters. See last year’s version immediately following, although back then they were less armed and militarized. I guess the NJ invasion of Ibaraki Prefecture is proceeding apace. As always, your taxes at work. Including those of the NJ being portrayed.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 26 Comments »

    Japan Times on GOJ’s new efforts to boost tourism to 20 million per annum

    Posted by arudou debito on 19th November 2008

    The Japan Times runs an interview with Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Yoshiaki Honpo, who says that Japan’s ailing regional economies can be revitalized by tapping the sightseeing potential of growing Asian countries. He recommends easing visa restrictions, since NJ tourists spend 5 to 15 times more than Japanese tourists.

    However, how about easing restrictions at the hotels themselves? According to an attendee of one of his speeches in Nagano, he will “leave alone” those 27% of hotels surveyed who do not want NJ tourists. Odd that a member of the administrative branch would recommend the nonenforcement of laws governing hotels in Japan. Honpo seems to think economic pressure will resolve all. Even though it hasn’t in other similar situations, such as apartment rentals, and leaving exclusionary (and, in this case, illegal) rules in place have caused spillover into other business sectors, copycatting because they can. Humph.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 10 Comments »

    Compare: Good survey of “non-Japanese citizens in Sapporo” by City

    Posted by arudou debito on 18th November 2008

    I mentioned yesterday about Careercross’s lousy survey of NJ employers, with loaded and leading questions galore about how NJ bosses apparently view their J subordinates. Contrast it with this thorough, culturally-sensitive (down to the phrasing of the questions) survey put out by the Sapporo City Government.

    (They do these once or twice a decade; their last one was in 2001, and they completely rewrote this one in early 2008 after a lot of groundwork from other city offices and help from their NJ staff, they told me last month.)

    Now this is how you do a survey. I’ve seen a lot of crappy ones over the years. (Government agencies seem to be incredibly inept at good social science. Consider this periodic survey from the PM Cabinet regarding human rights, where they offer rights for other humans (NJ) as optional, not required! Keeps incurring the wrath of the United Nations.) Not Sapporo. Other cities should take note of this and use it as their template.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Japanese Government, 日本語 | 11 Comments »

    Nov 20 NGO Public gathering: 1-year anniversary of the NJ fingerprinting program

    Posted by arudou debito on 17th November 2008

    ———————————————————————–
    Public gathering marking the 1-year anniversary of the new fingerprinting program

    NGOs raise concerns about the government’s new plan to abolish the ‘Gaikokujin
    Torokusho (alien registration card) ‘and to introduce a ‘Zairyu Kaado (resident card)’
    and ‘Gaikokujin Daicho Seido (alien register system)
    ———————————————————————–

    Date: Thursday, 20 November 2008
    Time: 12:45 – 14:15
    Venue: Conference room No.1,
    Diet Members’ No. 2 Office Building of the Lower House
    3 minutes walk from Kokkai Gijido Mae station or Nagatacho station of
    Tokyo Metro
    http://www.shugiin.go.jp/index.nsf/html/index_kokkaimap.htm
    * Please collect a pass on 1st floor of the building
    Admission: Free
    Language: Japanese (If you wish to make a speech in English, we will interpret into
    Japanese for you)

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights | 4 Comments »

    janjan.jp: 河野太郎氏 2008/11/17付 国籍法の改正について

    Posted by arudou debito on 17th November 2008

    Q.「二重国籍に関する座長私案」とはなんですか。

    A.現在の国籍法では、両親の国際結婚などで重国籍を持つ者が二十二歳になったときにどちらかの国籍を選択しなければならないという国籍法の規定があります。しかし、この規定が有名無実化しているという問題があります。現時点でおそらく六十万人以上の重国籍者が二十二歳での国籍選択をしていないという状況にあります。

     国籍選択を厳密に実施するか、重国籍を認めるのかという議論をこの一年続けてきましたが、重国籍を認めるとしたらどう認めるべきかという議論のたたき台を「座長私案」という形で出すことになりました。これをもとに今後、じっくりと重国籍に関する議論を進めていくことになります。

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Politics, 日本語 | 4 Comments »

    Negative survey of NJ employers by J headhunting company “Careercross” to make “employers see their own bias”

    Posted by arudou debito on 17th November 2008

    Here is an interesting survey by J headhunting company “Careercross”. One read through it and it’s evident the loaded questions (for NJ employers of Japanese) are angling to expose apparent negative predispositions that foreigners evidently have towards their Japanese subordinates. Even a response back from the company itself justifying the survey is indicative, as if it’s going to teach the foreign bosses a lesson about themselves:

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

    date: Tue, Nov 11, 2008 at 1023 AM
    subject: CareerCross survey

    Thank you very much for contacting us on Friday and for taking part in our survey.

    This survey is an important part in understanding the attitudes and perceptions of foreign employers as it applies to their Japanese hires. Actually the survey is, as you had pointed out, slightly on the negative side which we feel is important in getting straight answers about negative perceptions that a foreign boss may have. We do not think that a “fell good” survey would not bring out information of value.

    Please not that it was myself and our Japanese staff, with the help of our foreign staff, that came up with these questions. We hope this survey will be useful for both employers to see their own bias as well as Japanese working at companies for a foreigner.

    Thank you again for participating in our survey.
    Best regards,
    Masayuki Saito
    Director COO
    C.C.Consulting K.K.
    Tel: 03-5728-1861 Fax: 03-5728-1862
    =================================

    Put on your thinking caps, readers of Debito.org. What would you do if presented with a biased survey in order to use a J headhunting company? Read the full survey blogged here…

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 10 Comments »

    Thoughtful essay in the Yomiuri on the word “Gaijin” by Mike Guest

    Posted by arudou debito on 16th November 2008

    Mike Guest: Why is it that even the less easily offended among us at certain times find the term “gaijin” (or even “gaikokujin”) awkward or irritating? I would like to offer a few linguistic answers to this question.

    Words are never inherently rude or inappropriate in and of themselves but become marked as such through a failure to follow the norms of propriety. For example, it is perfectly acceptable to refer to Prof. Wilson as “Wilson” when simply discussing his theories with a colleague, or even when making a reference to him in a presentation where he is not present. But it would be very insulting to address him personally that way. Likewise, in the case of “gaijin” we should note if it is being used as a form of address or as a reference. One Japanese saying something like, “A lot of gaijin like this restaurant” to another can hardly be said to be pejorative (and in fact many non-Japanese too use “gaijin” in precisely this manner–as it can be a very useful classifier), whereas addressing a non-Japanese as “Gaijin” very much violates the norms of forms of address and therefore marks it as rude or hostile.

    We should also consider register. In official and formal situations, Japanese speakers use “gaikokujin” rather than “gaijin” for the same reason that they refer to “a person” not as “hito” but as “kata” and generally avoid using “kare” and “kanojo” (he and she). These words are not inherently impolite or pejorative but they do not meet the standards of distance required by a formal register of language. Using “gaijin” in such a situation would therefore mark it negatively…

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 32 Comments »

    LDP’s Kouno Taro submits J dual nationality proposal to Diet

    Posted by arudou debito on 15th November 2008

    LDP panel mulls easing law on dual citizenship
    Mixed couples’ kids could have two nationalities
    By MINORU MATSUTANI Staff writer
    The Japan Times: Friday, Nov. 14, 2008

    Liberal Democratic Party member Taro Kono said Thursday he has submitted a proposal to an LDP panel he heads calling for the Nationality Law to be revised to allow offspring of mixed couples, one of whom being Japanese, to have more than one nationality…

    While the proposal allows for multiple nationalities, the government will not let Japanese hold nationalities of countries or regions that Japan does not recognize as nations, including North Korea.

    Also under the proposal, foreigners would be able to obtain Japanese citizenship without giving up their original one. But the proposal does not say whether those who had had multiple nationalities and gave up one or more to retain their Japanese citizenship can regain other nationalities.

    The proposal would also affect babies born in countries that grant nationality to those born there regardless of their parents’ nationalities, including the United States, Brazil and Australia.

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

    Thanks to Kouno Taro, LDP Dietmember, for submitting a proposal to the Diet, after a good think about dual nationality following the paradoxes of Japanese-born American citizens winning Nobel Prizes. Let’s hope the proposal goes somewhere. It’s about time the unnecessary identity sacrifices of enforced mononationality are resolved. There is no need in this day and age to force multicultural people to legally deny themselves the existence of international roots.

    Posted in Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Politics | 18 Comments »

    2008.11.20 日本版US-VISIT開始から1年 院内集会 [えっ!外国人登録証がなくなるの?」

    Posted by arudou debito on 14th November 2008

    ————————————————————————–
    2008.11.20 日本版US-VISIT開始から1年 院内集会
    えっ!外国人登録証がなくなるの?
    2009年入管法改悪・「在留カード」導入案に待った!
    ————————————————————————–

    日時:2008年11月20日(木) 12時45分 ~ 14時15分
    会場:衆議院第二議員会館 第一会議室
    ※ 地下鉄「国会議事堂前」駅下車 徒歩3分)
    ※ 1階ロビーにて通行証をお渡しします。

    【内容】
    (1) 指紋押捺制度廃止から日本版US-VISIT導入まで
    報告:佐藤信行さん(在日韓国人問題研究所・RAIK)
    (2)当事者からの発言/2007年11月20日法務省前行動のビデオ上映を予定
    (3) どうなる? 2009年入管法改定
     「外登証」を廃止して、「在留カード」「外国人台帳制度」へ
    報告:旗手明さん(自由人権協会・JCLU)
    (4)「在留カード」が導入されたら…懸念される問題点
    教育(子ども)/医療サービス/難民申請者

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

    Japan Times update on granting children of mixed J/NJ parentage citizenship

    Posted by arudou debito on 14th November 2008

    Japan Times: Many observers of the Nationality Law have welcomed the government’s proposed revision approved Tuesday by the Cabinet that will soon allow hundreds of children born out of wedlock to Japanese men and foreign women to obtain Japanese nationality if the father recognizes paternity even after birth…

    The scheduled amendment is in line with the June 4 Supreme Court ruling that a provision of the law on the status of children born out of wedlock was unconstitutional.

    Today, the law still reads that a child born out of wedlock between a Japanese father and a foreign mother can get Japanese nationality only if the father admits paternity during the mother’s pregnancy, or if the couple get married before the child turns 20, but not after birth.

    Thus, children whose fathers acknowledge paternity after their birth are not granted Japanese nationality, which the top court declared a violation of equal rights.

    The proposed revision stipulates that children born out of wedlock whose fathers recognize paternity, regardless of the timing of the acknowledgment, can obtain Japanese citizenship.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 3 Comments »

    Kyodo: SDF’s Tomogami revisionist history shows cosiness between J military and right-wing nationalists

    Posted by arudou debito on 13th November 2008

    Kyodo: Sacked air force chief Toshio Tamogami testified in parliament Tuesday over his controversial war essay but his unapologetic rhetoric only highlighted a large difference in perception with the government regarding Japan’s role in World War II.

    His testimony also posed a question even among Self-Defense Forces officers about whether the 60-year-old former general was ever fit for the post of Air Self-Defense Force chief of staff and prompted politicians to have second thoughts about the effectiveness of their efforts to maintain civilian control of the defense forces…

    Revelations about Tamogami’s cozy links with a nationalist real estate businessman who organized the competition was also among topics taken up by the committee.

    The essay contest was organized by hotel and condominium developer Apa Group and its head Toshio Motoya, a friend of Tamogami. Apa Group is also known for its support of hawkish former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

    On top of that, an orchestrated submission of essays by ASDF personnel is also suspected.

    Tamogami also denied in the parliamentary session that he received any inappropriate benefits from Motoya’s side and that he had played a role in the organized submission of essays.

    But the ministry has found that in addition to Tamogami, 94 of the 235 essay submissions came from the ASDF.

    Another senior official of the ministry questioned the fairness of the essay contest saying, ”It must have been fixed.”

    Posted in Education, History, Japanese Government, Tangents | 17 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 12, 2008

    Posted by arudou debito on 13th November 2008

    Table of Contents:

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    REVELATIONS
    1) Aso’s new wheeze: Teigaku Kyuufukin. Bribe voters as “economic stimulus”.
    Might not include NJ, though.
    2) Japan Times Zeit Gist on PM Aso’s connection to WWII forced labor

    STEREOTYPING
    3) “TALK A LOT” textbook (EFL Press) has a rotten caricature of a “strange foreigner” for an English lesson
    4) KM on how only NJ suspects get named in J media, even when J perps involved in crime
    5) Robert Whiting on NJ flunkey-cum-baseball hero Oh Sadaharu’s legacy

    DAMAGE CONTROL
    6) Mainichi: Collapsed international marriages raise child abduction issue
    7) Mainichi: Japan might sign child abduction convention, quotes J lawyer who opposes, who claims:
    90% of intl divorces are due to NJ DV!

    FUN TANGENTS
    8) AFP on Obama victory and the reactions of (former) Americans abroad
    9) JapanZine parody of Japan Times, “Gaijin Activist Successful in Obtaining a Ban on Racial Slur”

    … and finally…
    10) Post#1000: Oyako-Net and “From the Shadows” Documentary Forum on post-divorce child abductions
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Aso’s new wheeze: Teigaku Kyuufukin. Bribe voters as “economic stimulus”. Might not include NJ, though.

    Posted by arudou debito on 12th November 2008

    Here’s a post from another friend (anonymized as XYZ) regarding PM Aso’s new wheeze: the “teigaku kyuufukin”. Get people more positively predisposed towards the LDP by putting money in their pockets (as in, not to get too technical about it, a bribe). According to NHK, that means anyone over the age of fifteen and under 65 gets 12,000 yen in their pockets, and anyone under 15 and over 65 gets 8000 yen. Wonderful stimulus package, like the LDP’s wheeze some years ago which IIRC gave something like 10,000 yen per household as coupons (which did nothing to boost GDP in the end, and just increased the national debt). Except that back then, foreigners could not qualify as coupon receivers (as NJ are not, again, officially-registered residents — they’re just taxed like residents).

    This time around, NHK and others have been debating whether NJ deserve to be bribed (after all, they can’t vote; but nor can people under 20 and they qualify). I guess the fact that any discussion of it is happening is an improvement over the exclusionary last round of bribes. But the assumption that NJ don’t really count is once again disconcerting.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 13 Comments »

    KM on how only NJ suspects get named even when J perps also involved in crime

    Posted by arudou debito on 11th November 2008

    Mainichi: “A Chinese woman suspected of faking her marriage to a Japanese man just before she gave birth so her son could obtain Japanese citizenship has been arrested, it has been learned.

    “Metropolitan police arrested Jiang Xinxin, 27, a resident of Tokyo’s Kita-ku, on suspicion of making a false declaration on an official document…”

    KM: I’m wondering why the name of the Chinese woman has been published but not the name of her Japanese accomplice (that is, the man she had the fake wedding with). According to the Japanese article both the Chinese woman and the Japanese man are being prosecuted. Yet, only the name of the Chinese woman has been published.

    Hmmm. I think I see a pattern here. If a foreigner is involved, even tangentially, publish the name. If a Japanese person is involved, respect their privacy. Problematic coverage, don’t you think?

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 8 Comments »

    Post#1000: Oyako-Net and “From the Shadows” Documentary Forum on post-divorce child abductions

    Posted by arudou debito on 10th November 2008

    This marks the 1000th post on the Debito.org blog since it started a little over two years ago, in June 2006. Long may we run. To celebrate, some good news about the developing documentary called FROM THE SHADOWS, on child abductions after divorce in Japan, and the growing attention being devoted to it (including NHK). Word from David Hearn, one of the directors (along with Matt Antell) follows about a recent OYAKO-NET meeting…

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Human Rights, Injustice | No Comments »

    “TALK A LOT” textbook (EFL Press) has a rotten caricature of a “strange foreigner” for an English lesson

    Posted by arudou debito on 9th November 2008

    Here’s a page from a book by David Martin called TALK A LOT Book One, published by EFL Press. One lesson, “Strange Foreigner”, uses all the stereotypes you might desire. It shows a long-haired unshaven tattooed “gaijin” (sic) biker in jolly-roger underpants and zori, smoking and drinking a beer while carrying a knife on a motorcycle (yeah, that’s a frequent occurrence in Japan!), somehow towing a bulldog along, speaking katakana and asking for directions to his “strict Japanese high school”. The intimidated students even call him a scary “gaijin”. How nice. Based upon this, he obviously knows very little about how most NJ live in this country. But what the hell — why not sell nasty stereotypes under the guise of English education? Writer David Martin responds to suggest we “relax” and “stop thinking about things too much”, then claims infringement of copyright.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Education, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 63 Comments »

    Robert Whiting on NJ flunkey-cum-baseball hero Oh Sadaharu’s legacy

    Posted by arudou debito on 8th November 2008

    Here’s an article which made me conclude something that I have been suspecting all along.

    Baseball hero Oh Sadaharu, a Zainichi Taiwanese, is retiring. He has done a lot for baseball and no doubt for the image of NJ in Japan (especially the Sangokujin, Tokyo Gov. Ishihara’s pet NJ to target as potential criminals).

    But I am not a fan. As the article rather euphemistically headlines below, Oh’s record was hard to beat. That’s because anyone, particularly a line of foreign baseball players, who came close, was stopped because they were gaijin players. Often by Oh himself. Now, that’s unsportsmanlike. I will cheer anytime anyone does well as a personal best, especially when they overcome great personal odds (Oh was not allowed to play Korakuen High School baseball tournaments because Japan didn’t, and still doesn’t to some degree, allow foreign players to play in Kokutai leagues where “they might qualify for the Olympics and become national representatives” sort of thing).

    But Oh for years now has struck me as a person who earns his laurels and his pedestal, then pulls the ladder up behind him, even for others who face similar obstacles. It’s one thing to discriminate because discrimination is the norm and you’re just playing ball. It’s another to go through the discrimination yourself, then turn around and abet the discrimination against others. It’s hypocritical, and Oh should have known and done better. He chose not to. And now that we have an authority on Japanese baseball, Robert Whiting, coming out and indicating as such in the article below, I’m ready to draw this conclusion:

    Oh Sadaharu may be a baseball hero, but he’s an Uncle Tom and a turncoat, and that tarnishes his image as a genuine hero. Shame on you, Sadaharu.

    Posted in Exclusionism, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Sport | 8 Comments »

    AFP on Obama victory and the reactions of (former) Americans abroad

    Posted by arudou debito on 7th November 2008

    BERLIN (AFP) — Barack Obama’s victory in the US election has given Americans an almost overnight excuse to stop hiding their passports.

    Americans around the world have reported being congratulated by strangers in the street. Obama t-shirts are on sale in stores in Paris and London, and after years of criticism over Iraq, climate change and other disputes, newspaper headlines have proclaimed that the United States is cool again.

    “YES, WE CAN be friends!” splashed Germany’s top selling Bild daily on its front page Thursday. “We have fallen in love with the new, the different, the good America. ‘Obamerica’.”…

    In [Sapporo], university lecturer and rights activist Arudou Debito, or formerly David Aldwinckle, said he abandoned his US citizenship in 2002 during the Bush administration.

    Debito, 43, who now has a Japanese passport, welcomed the Obama victory as “the end of the dark age” and said he hoped the new president “may make the [former] American side of me proud again.”

    But Hansen, the writer in Germany, said that it was often hard to be an American abroad even before Bush.

    “It suffered before. When I came to Germany under (Ronald) Reagan, and then George Bush senior marched into Kuwait, and I heard the same sayings — ‘no blood for oil’ and that relationships with America had reached a nadir and all these things.

    “It happens regularly. The perception of America sinks to a low point but it also regularly goes up,” said Hansen.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Good News, Tangents | 19 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 31, 2008

    Posted by arudou debito on 6th November 2008

    Table of Contents:
    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    1) Japan Focus runs E translation of Asahi Oct 5 2008 article on discrimination in Japan
    2) Govt websites don’t include NJ residents in their tallies of “local population”
    3) AP: Economic downturn already resulting in NJ layoffs in Japan, but NJ not counted in unemployment figures
    4) SR on Shounan Shinkin Bank in Chigasaki, refuses bank accounts to NJ who can’t read and speak Japanese
    5) MX on “Gaijin” harassment in Tokyo elementary school
    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    JapanZine parody of Japan Times, “Gaijin Activist Successful in Obtaining a Ban on Racial Slur”

    Posted by arudou debito on 6th November 2008

    JapanZine (Nagoya’s free magazine for the international community) recently did a parody of the Japan Times, calling it the “Gokiburi Gazette”. Front and center, an article about activist “Tepid Naruhodo”, who gets the word “gaijin” banned, only to have its replacement shortened to the same thing. It’s very funny. Seriously. As are the other articles and the masthead advertisements.

    Posted in Human Rights, Humor | 6 Comments »

    Well done President Obama

    Posted by arudou debito on 5th November 2008

    Well done soon-to-be President Obama.  Take back the country from the divisive and capitalizing forces that I have been glad to disassociate myself from.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo, former American citizen. (Two essays of note on this here: http://www.debito.org/japantodaycolumns16-18.html  (see essay 17) http://www.debito.org/deamericanize.html)

    Posted in Good News, Tangents | Comments Off

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column(s) on “Truth Octane”: Vote on which one you like better.

    Posted by arudou debito on 5th November 2008

    Before I get to my latest Japan Times column, a little story:

    I usually start my columns about a week or so before the first draft is due. That way, I can tinker with it over the days here and there and add ideas as they come to me during the course of life. I don’t like writing too many things on the fly — things come out half-baked that way.

    However, this essay on “Truth Octane” was a rather difficult one. Getting this complicated analytical concept out and developed with examples within 800 words was a challenge. Plus I had two weekend trips to Tokyo in the interim. I wasn’t really satisfied with my first version, so after Edo arrival last Friday, I handed it over to a trusted close friend for perusal. His verdict, and I quote, was, “It’s a turkey.” This was about 12:30 AM on Friday night – Saturday morning, and about four beers into the evening.

    Well, no trusted friend calls my essays “turkeys” and gets away with it. So at 1AM, I commandeered his toilet (I’ve done some of my best thinking there) and didn’t leave until I had rewritten the whole thing from scratch. 700 words and 45 minutes later, I had a new draft out. My friend’s verdict: “Much better. Inspirational. No comparison.”

    I gave both versions to my editor at the JT and let him choose which he liked better. He went with the second, rewritten, toilet version as well.

    But I’m genuinely curious. What do readers think? First the published version, then the original version. Vote which one you like better at the blog poll at the upper right hand corner!

    Posted in Articles & Publications | 12 Comments »

    Get Japan Times today: New JUST BE CAUSE Column out on “Truth Octane”

    Posted by arudou debito on 4th November 2008

    Get yourself a copy of the Japan Times today, Tuesday November 4 (Weds Nov 5 outside major urban areas) for my latest JUST BE CAUSE Column.

    Topic: “Truth Octane”, talking about how some people simply find too much “truth” in debate too much to take. And how those activists that can give their side of the story with a slow-drip amount of truth can change the world. Have a read today!

    Posted in Articles & Publications | 7 Comments »

    Mainichi: Japan would help children of international marriages by signing child abduction convention

    Posted by arudou debito on 3rd November 2008

    Addendum to yesterday’s entry, complete with little needles in the article trying to poke holes in the NJ case:

    “Kensuke Onuki, a lawyer familiar with the issue, is opposed to Japan signing the convention, based on the viewpoint of Japan protecting its own citizens.

    “In over 90 percent of cases in which the Japanese women return to Japan, the man is at fault, such as with domestic violence and child abuse,” Onuki says. He says that when the Japanese women come back to Japan, they don’t bring with them evidence of domestic violence or other problems, making their claims hard to prove, and the voice of the man saying, “Give me back my child,” tends to be heard louder.”

    I wonder where he got the figure of 90% from? From his practice of representing NJ clients (one of my friends hired him, and says he’ll fire him after this comment).

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Human Rights, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 14 Comments »

    毎日グローバル・アイ:続・国際結婚と子の親権 ハーグ条約に加盟を

    Posted by arudou debito on 3rd November 2008

    毎日:「 問題に詳しい大貫憲介弁護士は、自国民保護の観点から加盟反対だ。「日本に戻る日本女性の90%以上は、男性のDV(ドメスティックバイオレンス)や幼児虐待など、男性側に原因がある」と指摘。また日本女性は戻る時、DVなどの証拠を持ってこないため立証が難しく、「子どもを返せ」との男性側の声が圧倒しがちになるという。」

    えーと、根拠は?

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Human Rights, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 2 Comments »

    Mainichi: Collapsed international marriages raise child abduction issue

    Posted by arudou debito on 2nd November 2008

    Mainichi: Japanese women from collapsed international marriages are increasingly bringing their children to Japan without confirming custody rights, creating diplomatic problems between Japan and other countries, it has emerged.

    In one case three years ago, a Japanese woman’s marriage to a Swedish man collapsed and she brought their child to Japan. Later when she traveled to the United States by herself she was detained, as police in Sweden had put her on an international wanted list through Interpol for child abduction. She was sent to Sweden and put on trial.

    The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction bans people from taking their children to their home country after a collapsed marriage without confirming issues such as custody and visitation rights of the country in which they are living. The convention has about 80 signatory countries, mainly in Europe and North America, but Japan is not one of them.

    Among cases known to foreign governments, there are about 50 cases between Japan and the U.S. in which foreign husbands are requesting custody of children brought to Japan by Japanese women, and about 30 such cases between Japan and Canada. Similar cases exist between Japan and countries such as Britain, Australia and Italy.

    In such cases, when foreign husbands file lawsuits in Japan seeking custody or visitation rights, their claims are rarely accepted, and the tough barriers put up by Japan in such cases have caused frustration…

    Posted in Human Rights, Japanese Government | 4 Comments »

    毎日:国際結婚と子の親権 連れ帰れば「幼児誘拐罪」・「北朝鮮の拉致を非難する日本が拉致をしている」と批判

    Posted by arudou debito on 2nd November 2008

     国際結婚が破綻(はたん)した後、日本女性が子どもを一方的に日本に連れ帰るケースが増加し、日本と諸外国の間で外交問題となっている。

     日本女性のA子さんはスウェーデン人の男性との結婚に破れ、子どもを連れて日本に帰国。その後、単身米国に渡った時、空港で身柄拘束された。スウェーデンの警察から国際刑事警察機構(インターポール)を通じて幼児誘拐罪で国際手配されていたのだ。A子さんはスウェーデンに送られ、裁判にかけられた。3年前のことである。

     国際結婚に破れたカップルの一方が、子の親権、面会権などを確定しないまま、子どもをそれまでの居住国から自分の母国に連れ帰ることは「国際的な子の奪取の民事面に関する条約」(ハーグ条約)で不法とされている。米欧諸国を中心に80カ国が締約国となっているが、問題は日本が未締約なことだ。

     日本女性と子どもが日本に戻ってしまい、外国人の夫が親権を求めているケースは、相手国政府がつかんでいるだけでも日米間で約50件、カナダとの間では約30件。このほか英、オーストラリア、イタリアなどとの間でもある。外国人の夫らは子の親権や面会権を求めて日本で裁判を起こしてもほとんど認められず、日本側の固い壁に不満が募っている。

     在日カナダ大使館は今年3月、米加両国政府担当者が参加したハーグ条約についてのシンポジウムを開催。7月、サミットで訪日したハーパー加首相もこの問題を取り上げた。「北朝鮮の拉致を非難する日本が拉致をしている」と批判する外交当局者もいる。先進国の中で日本は守勢に立たされているのが実情だ。

    Posted in Human Rights, Japanese Government, 日本語 | 2 Comments »

    Japan Times Zeit Gist on PM Aso’s connection to WWII forced labor

    Posted by arudou debito on 1st November 2008

    Japan Times: After evading the issue for more than two years, Taro Aso conceded to foreign reporters on the eve of becoming prime minister that Allied POWs worked at his family’s coal mine in Kyushu during World War II.

    But Aso’s terse admission fell far short of the apology overseas veterans’ groups have demanded, while refocusing attention on Japan’s unhealed legacy of wartime forced labor by Asians and Westerners.

    Calls for forced labor reparations are growing louder due to Prime Minister Aso’s personal ties to the brutal practice, as well as his combative reputation as a historical revisionist. The New York Times recently referred to “nostalgic fantasies about Japan’s ugly past for which Mr. Aso has become well known.” Reuters ran an article headlined “Japan’s PM haunted by family’s wartime past.”

    Three hundred Allied prisoners of war (197 Australians, 101 British and two Dutch) were forced to dig coal without pay for Aso Mining Co. in 1945. Some 10,000 Korean labor conscripts worked under severe conditions in the company’s mines between 1939 and 1945; many died and most were never properly paid…

    Courts in Japan and former Allied nations have rejected legal claims by ex-POWs, so the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Norway have all compensated their own surviving POWs. Hundreds of British and Dutch POWs and family members have made reconciliation-style visits to Japan in recent years as part of the Tokyo-sponsored Peace, Friendship and Exchange Initiative. Stiffed by the U.S. government, American POWs have also been excluded from Japan’s reconciliation schemes — a situation they say Prime Minister Aso has a special responsibility to correct…

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, History, Injustice, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 2 Comments »