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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog.  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.  Arudou Debito in Iwate

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Nationality Law tweak lacks DNA test: critics
The Japan Times, November 27, 2008
By KAZUAKI NAGATA Staff writer

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.

The revision is in line with a Supreme Court ruling on June 4 that a provision of the law on the status of such children is unconstitutional, because it states the children can only receive Japanese nationality if the father admits paternity during the mother’s pregnancy, or if the couple get married before the child turns 20.

The government reportedly wants to swiftly pass the revision to correct this unconstitutional provision, but the opposing lawmakers claim the revision, which was brought to the Diet earlier this month, needs to be thoroughly discussed.

“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.

Since the revision does not require any scientific evidence to prove a biological family link, many are now arguing that some kind of scientific proof, such as a DNA test, should be applied. Hiranuma criticized the revision for granting Japanese nationality without evidence, providing the father admits paternity.

It is rare for lawmakers to raise a bill’s technical problems after it has already been approved by both ruling parties and Cabinet members.

Many admitted it is their own fault that they did not become aware of the details of the revision until only recently, but claimed they were busy in the past few months preparing for the next general election, which, it had been widely assumed, would be held this fall.

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.

The lawmakers’ concerns arose when the bill was scheduled to clear the Lower House on Nov. 18 after just three hours of deliberations.

On Nov. 17, Hiranuma and the other LDP lawmakers met and agreed more time was needed before a vote.

The revision cleared the Lower House as scheduled, but the group managed to attach an additional resolution submitted jointly by the ruling parties and from some of the opposition camp who have raised doubts about the revision.

The additional resolution contains four suggestions, including applying a scientific method to prove paternity.

The lawmakers opposed to the revision have also compared the revision with the cases of other countries. In a meeting last week, Hideki Makihara, an LDP Lower House member, pointed out the case of Germany, which revised its nationality law in 1998 and experienced the problem of false recognition, saying the situation is similar and Japan is likely to follow the same path.

But Yasuhiro Okuda, a Chuo University Law School professor, said the German and Japanese cases are not similar.

He pointed out that in Japan there are two checks before Japanese nationality is granted, as two separate documents must be submitted — one to recognize paternity and another to acquire nationality. In Germany, however, only a document of paternal recognition is required, he added.

This is a considerable difference, Okuda said, as applicants in Japan will have to go through various checks at legal affairs bureaus when they file to acquire nationality.

Therefore, the increase in false paternity recognition in Germany is not comparable with the case of Japan, where it would be difficult to forge all the necessary documents, Okuda said.

An official at the Justice Ministry also said the checks will be strict so it won’t be easy to forge the recognition.

Okuda also said that while the focus is being placed on false and fraudulent recognitions, the emphasis should instead be on the protection of true recognitions.

The Japan Times: Thursday, Nov. 27, 2008
ENDS

Kyodo: MOJ announces it snagged 846 NJ since reinstituting fingerprinting

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog. 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.  Arudou Debito in Morioka

846 refused entry into Japan under revised immigration rule

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D94NKV182&show_article=1

TOKYO, Nov. 28 2008 (AP) – (Kyodo)—A total of 846 foreign nationals have been refused entry to Japan since the country began fingerprinting and photographing foreign nationals at airports and seaports nationwide in November last year, the Justice Ministry said Friday.

Most of the refusals were due to arriving passengers’ fingerprints matching those of people deported in the past while, in several cases, they matched those of wanted people, according to the ministry’s Immigration Bureau.

Of the total refused entry, 297 were South Korean, 155 Filipinos and 90 Chinese.

Some carried other people’s passports.

Under a revised immigration law enforced in November 2007 as part of an antiterrorism measure, foreign nationals aged over 16 are required to be fingerprinted and photographed.

The scanned fingerprints and other biometric data of those entering Japan are stored in a computer. Japanese investigative authorities can access the information and share it with foreign immigration authorities and governments.

It is believed the new rule not only blocks the reentry of deportees at airports and seaports but also discourages such attempts at reentry, ministry officials said.

The number of foreign nationals overstaying visas in Japan came to some 7,500 in the year that ended in October, down 35 percent year on year, according to the ministry.

ENDS

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog.  Here’s a nice short 500-word summary of one issue I’ve been covering for more than ten years now:  Academic Apartheid in Japan’s Universities.  Reprinted with permission of the author.  Arudou Debito in transit

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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. The penny pinching began in December 1992 when Ministry of Education officials phoned all the national universities and warned them against keeping foreign teachers in the higher pay brackets. Schools soon sacked foreigners over the age of 50 (most had been promised a job until retirement), replaced them with teachers on capped contracts, and refused to hire anyone over the age of 35 or 40 (Hall, 1994). Yet, despite a 1997 law allowing universities to employ Japanese faculty on term-limited contracts, the use of capped contracts to economize, while increasing, remains largely limited to foreign staff (Arudou & McLaughlin, 2001).

Attitudes towards foreign teachers reveal the more important reason for the caps. University and Ministry of Education bureaucrats regard foreigners as models of foreign culture with expiry dates stamped on their foreheads rather than real teachers who have a long-term role to play. For example, Niigata University’s president admitted wanting foreigners “churning over constantly” (JPRI Staff, 1996). In an Asahi Shimbun editorial, Shinichiro Noriguchi, a University of Kitakyushu English professor, contends “native speakers who have lived in Japan for more than ten years tend to have adapted to the system and have become ineffective as teachers” (Noriguchi, 2006).

Ministry of Education officials justified firing older foreigners from national universities by arguing younger instructors would be better examples of American culture (Hall, 1998). Nearly a decade later, Ministry bureaucrats justified term-limits by contending they “encouraged the movement of teachers to other universities which was of benefit to both teachers and the universities” (Cleary, 2001). Exactly how they benefited anyone was left unsaid.

If nothing else such attitudes are at least consistent, changing little since the Meiji Era. Viewing foreigners as disposable goes back to the 1903 sacking of Lafcadio Hearn from what is now Tokyo University.

Are the caps discriminatory? While nearly every Japanese instructor receives tenure from the day they are hired and nearly every foreigner is shown the door after a few years the Supreme Court, with a little legal legerdemain, ruled that such hiring practices don’t violate the Labor Standards Law which applies only after someone has been hired (van Dresser, 2001).

Luckily, some universities do appreciate that employing foreigners permanently can benefit a school. So what’s a foreigner in search of job stability to do? Getting a doctorate couldn’t hurt but the key is Japanese fluency. According to activist Arudou Debito “you’ve simply got to understand what’s going on around you” (Arudou, personal communication). Then again, neither provided much protection during the purge of the 1990’s.

———————-
References

Arudou, D. and McLaughlin, J. (2001). Employment conditions in the university: Update autumn 2001. JALT Kitakyushu Presentation. Retrieved January 20, 2007 from http://www.debito.org/JALTninkisei112401.html

Cleary, F. (2001). Taking it to the Ministry of Education: Round three. Pale Journal. 7(1). Retrieved January 20, 2007 from http://www.debito.org/HELPSpring2001.html#kumamoto

Hall, I. (1994). Academic Apartheid at Japan’s National Universities. JPRI Working Paper No. 3. Retrieved January 21, 2007 from http://www.jpri.org/publications/workingpapers/wp3.html

Hall, I. (1998) Cartels of the Mind: Japan’s Intellectual Closed Shop. New York: W. W. Norton.

JPRI Staff. (1996). Foreign teachers in Japanese universities: An update.
JPRI Working Paper, 24. Retrieved January 20, 1997 from http://www.jpri.org/publications/workingpapers/wp24.html

Noriguchi, S. (2006). English education leaves much to be desired. Asahi Shimbun, Sep. 15, 2006. Retrieved January 20, 2007 from http://www.asahi.com/english/Heraldasahi/TKY200609150129.html

van Dresser, S. (2001). On the employment rights of repeatedly renewed contract workers. PALE Journal, 7(1). Retrieved January 20, 2007 from http://www.debito.org/HELPSpring2001.html#vandresser
ENDS

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog.  Compare and contrast the introduction of fingerprinting (moreover Gaijin Cards) for foreigners in the UK. At least high-profile Britons are protesting it, and the media (the conservative media, even) is giving them a voice. That’s more than can be said for Japan last year around November 20, when the J media suppressed the opinion of NJ residents and NGOs when fingerprinting was reintroduced.  Still sad that these ID carding tendencies for foreigners only are spreading.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Celebrities like Madonna won’t come to Britain because of ID cards

Britain will suffer cultural and economic damage from the introduction of identity cards for foreigners, preventing stars such as Madonna staying in the UK, according to a group of academics and writers.

By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor 

Daily Telegraph, Last Updated: 8:20AM GMT 25 Nov 2008

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/3512924/US-celebrities-like-Madonna-wont-come-to-Britain-because-of-ID-cards.html

Courtesy of Sendaiben

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.

Footballers, such as Manchester City’s £32.5million Brazilian striker Robinho, would also have to carry ID cards if they came to the UK after today.

The letter says: “If this scheme is continued … fewer of the world’s leading performers in every field will choose to make their homes here than do now.

“Successful foreigners such as Robinho or Kevin Spacey, and the overseas students who subsidise our universities, have a lot of choice where they study or exercise their talents. Some will decide Britain has become too unfriendly.”

The group, which also Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti and singer Crispian Mills, also warns of a steep drop in fee income as foreigners decide that the UK is not a “friendly” country to come to study.

It warns: “If this scheme is continued it will lead to less fee-income and lower international status for our educational institutions.

“British students will have to pay higher tuition to make up, and will have less money to spend with local businesses. ‘ID cards for foreigners’ is not just a small-minded slogan – Britain will suffer culturally and economically.”

Last night Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat shadow home secretary, supported the concerns that British cultural life will lose out from the introduction of ID cards.

He said: “Foreign nationals continue to make an enormous contribution to British culture, from the Premier League to the performing arts.

“If these people choose to go elsewhere to places that won’t treat them like criminals, this country will be all the poorer for it.”

Speaking yesterday ahead of the first ID cards being issued, Miss Smith said: “In time identity cards for foreign nationals will replace paper documents and give employers a safe and secure way of checking a migrant’s right to work and study in the UK

“The Australian-style points system will ensure only those we need – and no more – can come here. It is also flexible, allowing us to raise or lower the bar according to the needs of business and taking population trends into account.”

ENDS

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

HI Blog.  I made the case last May, 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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

That special NEWSLETTER:  http://www.debito.org/?p=1652

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No appeal in Japan murder of state man
The Charleston Gazette, September 20, 2008

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – 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.

“Unfortunately we just have to live with it and go on,” he said. “I know my brother was a Christian and I hope to see him again someday.”

Tucker, 47, had been drinking at a bar before going into Bullets, a club located beside his home in downtown Tokyo.

The club was known for its parties, noise and fights, and Tucker went there because he wanted the place to quiet down, according to witness statements.

At the time, officials with Tokyo police told Japan Today, an English-language newspaper, that Tucker appeared very drunk and acted violently toward customers, at times striking a boxer’s pose.

“With the help of alcohol he went down there to tell them,” said David Yoshida, who attended the trial with Yamakazi.

Yoshida, a Baptist missionary, served as an interpreter for Ken Tucker when he went to Japan after his brother died.

According to Yoshida and Yamakazi, witnesses told the court that Scott pushed a couple of people who fell on the floor and were not hurt.

Watanabe then kicked him in the groin and got Tucker in a chokehold, crushing his Adam’s apple.

In court, Watanabe said he felt his life was in danger. Watanabe is 5 feet, 9 inches and weighs 154 pounds. Scott was 5 feet, 9 inches and weighed 242 pounds.

The courtroom was flooded with supporters for Watanabe, Yoshida said.

Earlier this week, Tucker’s family sent a letter to Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan’s ambassador to the United States. They hope that he will look into the case.

“We do not understand how it is possible that the two detectives (Sergeant Abe and Megumi Akita, who assured us the evidence pointed to a deliberate and brutal murder), were not in court because they had been re-assigned or possibly promoted; nor do we understand the absence of the original prosecutor at the trial,” Kenneth Tucker wrote in the letter, provided to the Gazette. “We also don’t understand how our family’s concerns were not admitted into evidence during the court proceeding.”

The conviction rate for those accused of murder in Japan is 99.95 percent, Michael Griffith, an international criminal defense attorney who has handled many cases in Japan said previously.

Japanese police routinely hold suspects for 23 days without seeing a judge, Griffith said. During that time they can interrogate them daily, for as much as 12 hours at a time.

“The lawyers over there aren’t defense lawyers. I’d categorize them as sentencing experts,” Griffith said previously.

Once a case goes to sentencing, the convicted often get more lenient sentences than in the U.S., he said. People convicted for murder often get under 10 years, he said.

Reach Gary Harki at gha…@wvgazette.com or 348-5163.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 25, 2008

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 25, 2008
Table of Contents:
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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

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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (www.debito.org, debito@debito.org)
Freely Forwardable

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GOOD NEWS
1) LDP’s Kouno Taro submits J dual nationality proposal to Diet

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.
http://www.debito.org/?p=2008

Visit his website. He’s certainly taking a lot of nasty flak from anonymous Net xenophobes for this…
http://www.taro.org

… and a majority of respondents to a Debito.org survey want his proposal to go even further

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DEBITO.ORG POLL (NB: Hardly scientific, but anyway…)
LDP Dietmember Kouno Taro has proposed to the Diet that Japan allow Dual Nationality. Do you agree?

1) Should go farther. Anybody, including people who naturalize into Japan, even Zainichi with North Korean roots, should qualify for dual. (58%, 105 Votes)
2) Actually, I think Kouno Taro’s proposal with caveats (see blog entry) has it about right. (28%, 50 Votes)
3) No, dual nationality is a bad idea. Keep things as they are. (10%, 18 Votes)
4) Indifferent, don’t know, can’t say etc. (4%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 180, as of this sending
=================

Vote if you want yourself on any debito.org blog page

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

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.
http://www.debito.org/?p=2061

==============================
COMMENT: Good. Keep it up. The more columns like these keeping the issue alive, the better. Previous one earlier this year here:
http://www.debito.org/?p=1020

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

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.
http://www.debito.org/?p=1991

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

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.

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

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

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.
http://www.debito.org/?p=2065

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COMMENT: A great suggestion from a friend was that if they really want to stimulate the economy effectively and equitably, how about dropping the Consumption Tax (at 5%) to zero for one full month?

That way, anyone who spends money will get a tax rebate. And it will definitely stimulate consumption, since we had that month’s tax holiday from “temporary gasoline taxes” in April, and drivers rushed to the pumps to take advantage.
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080501a2.html

A consumption tax holiday doesn’t involve high administration costs, registering people to get their rebate, or even separate consumers by nationality.

Is it so hard for people in government to come up with a wheeze as simple as this?

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

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.
http://www.debito.org/?p=2057

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

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 two special issues of the DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER on the subject here
http://www.debito.org/?p=676
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?
http://www.debito.org/?p=2062

And I’m not the only one protesting, FYI:
Nov 20 NGO Public gathering: 1-year anniversary of the NJ fingerprinting program
http://www.debito.org/?p=2013

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

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.”
http://www.debito.org/?p=2004

=======================
I was asked for my opinion earlier this month in the Comments section of my blog. In brief, this is how I answered:

========================
— Tamogami was forced to resign. Good. He did not capitulate. Fine with me (it is his opinion). But the media I’ve seen so far skirts the issue. It’s not a matter of whether what he said was appropriate for his position within the SDF. It is an issue about whether what he says is historically accurate. (It is not.) And until these historical issues are finally laid to rest (through, as UN Rapporteur Doudou Diene suggested, a history book of the region written and approved by scholars from all countries involved), this is just going to keep happening again and again. Exorcising the elephant in the room, i.e. the ghost of Japan’s wartime past (particularly as to whether it was a war of aggression or liberation), must be done sooner or later. It is still not being done and debunked, and that means the SDF person can just use “freedom of speech” as his cloaking device and compare Japan to the DPRK (as he has done) and just gain sympathy for the Rightists. There. Debito
========================

Unfortunately, I don’t see any diversion from this path even as the debate, as Kyodo reports above, goes to the Diet. The debate has gone into issues of civilian control (meaning, to freedom-of-speechers on both sides of the political spectrum, mind control), and Tamogami is setting himself up to become a martyr to the right wing. Again, the tack should also include, is what he saying historically accurate? Again, it is not.

The honest study of the history of any country is going to reveal things that a nation is ashamed of, and one must include that as part of the national narrative. The Tamogamis, Obuchis, Abes, and Asos are just going to have to live with that. And part of the process is bringing historical fact of Japan’s conquering, Imperialist past into the debate.

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

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.
http://www.debito.org/?p=2003

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10) GOJ Survey says “53% fear public safety problem from increased NJ tourists, want policy measures”

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. See what I mean at
http://www.debito.org/?p=2067
Not to mention what’s covered next:

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

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…
http://www.debito.org/?p=2007

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

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

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.
http://www.debito.org/?p=2014

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

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 manneras 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…
http://www.debito.org/?p=2009

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

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

===================================
Fri Nov 28, 2008, Iwate University, Speech 2:45 -3:45PM, “Nihonjin to wa nan darou, Amerika-kei nihonjin kara mita kenkai”
also 6:20 to 7:50 PM, “What is Internationalization in 21st Century Japan?”

Sun Nov 30, 2008, Iwate JALT, CORRECTED TIME 1:30 TO 4:30 PM, “An Afternoon with Arudou Debito”,
Aiina, the Iwate prefectural public building near Morioka Station

Mon Dec 1, 2008, Iwate Prefectural University, 2:40-4:10PM, Kyoutsuu Kyougi Tou Classroom 101
“What is Internationalization in 21st Century Japan?”

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

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

…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

Heads up! Get yourself a copy next week!

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

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading, as always!

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 25, 2008 ENDS

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Morning blog.  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.  See what I mean here, here, and here.  Debito

外国人客増、5割強が「不安」=「観光庁知らない」6割−政府世論調査
11月23日2時52分配信 時事通信
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20081122-00000121-jij-pol
Courtesy of Getchan and Dave Spector

 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。

 調査結果では、外国人客が増えたと感じている人は8割。ただ、外国人客の増加について聞いた質問(複数回答)では、「治安面から不安で、何らかの対策が必要」と答えた人が最も多く53%。「地域社会でトラブルが多くなる」も27%いた。「国際交流が進む」は51%、「地域経済の活性化につながる」は40%だった。
ENDS

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog. Another column calling for the guaranteed education of NJ children. Good. Keep it up.  The more of these, the better. Previous one earlier this year here. Debito in Sapporo

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

POINT OF VIEW/ Takaaki Kato: Non-Japanese kids deserve an education, too

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, 2008/11/20

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200811200044.html

Among non-Japanese families residing in Japan, there are too many that do not enroll their children in public or other schools here. Whatever their reasons, this is a serious problem. These children of foreign nationality, some of whom were born in Japan, are being deprived of their right to an education.

As a Japanese-language teacher at an elementary school, I find this situation distressing. Not only do these kids lose out, but so do their families and the community in general.

The Council for Cities of Non-Japanese Residents, which comprises representatives from municipal governments that have a high concentration of foreign residents, has made proposals to the national and prefectural governments on how best to educate the children of foreign nationality.

I believe the main reason many children of foreign nationality are not enrolled in school is because Japanese law does not oblige them to receive compulsory education.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology says that when such children apply for enrollment at public elementary and junior high schools, they are accepted free of charge and are thus guaranteed educational opportunities.

However, that doesn’t prevent their parents or guardians from failing to enroll them, the first main problem.

Some non-Japanese parents or guardians prefer to send their children to international schools, such as those for Brazilians living in Japan. That is fine.

But others who don’t send their children to international schools also do not apply for their children to enter the Japanese school system. In some cases, they have pulled their kids out of school to baby-sit younger siblings.

This brings us to a second problem. Even when school officials try to persuade guardians to enroll their children, they fail because there is no law requiring enrollment. The School Education Law is not clear on whether children of foreign nationality fall within the definition of “mandatory school-age pupils and students.”

Still, Article 26 of the Constitution states: “All people shall be obliged to ensure that all boys and girls under their protection receive ordinary education as provided for by law.”

But since foreign residents are not Japanese citizens, they are not obliged to ensure their children go to school. That seems to be the general interpretation.

Does this mean children of foreign nationality in Japan have no right to an education?

No, it does not.

Under the spirit of the Constitution, under internationally accepted universal human rights principles and under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, both of which Japan has ratified, every human being, regardless of nationality, has the right to a basic education.

Thus, a child’s right to an education means their parents or guardians are obliged to ensure they receive such schooling.

Therefore, foreign residents in Japan must be legally required to ensure the children under their care receive compulsory education.

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.

* * *

The author teaches international students at Imawatarikita Elementary School in Kani, Gifu Prefecture.  (IHT/Asahi: November 20,2008)

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog.  It’s getting clearer to me that PM Aso’s “economic stimulus package” of cash back to citizens is nothing more than a bribe to voters.  Yes, to voters.  Again, as the plan nears approval, it’s still unclear whether NJ residents also get any money.  However, it’s pretty clear why this fence sitting:  NJ can’t vote, so they don’t count.  Even though they spend money like citizens, so they should count.  

Thus this is not an economic stimulus package (which would naturally and unequivocally include everyone in Japan who spends money).  It’s a political stimulus, to popularity polls for the LDP.  Because as critics point out below, it’s unclear that it’ll have any economic effect at all.  It didn’t before.

So let’s not fall for the guise of economics anymore.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Cash handout finding few fans

Local leaders say the economy needs a government stimulus plan with greater focus

By REIJI YOSHIDA, Staff writer
The Japan Times Monday, Nov. 17, 2008
   

In 1999, the coalition government was bashed for what was dubbed “one of the silliest policy measures of the century.”

Is the current government ready to repeat that blunder as early as this year or early next year?

The answer is probably yes, according to numerous governors and mayors across the country as well as most commentators.

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.

The handouts are supposed to total ¥2 trillion, nearly three times as much as the notorious coupon program.

Analysts say the handouts are as unlikely as the 1999 coupons to spark a consumption boom, because people probably won’t spend much amid the global financial crisis and a looming rise in the unpopular consumption tax, which Aso said may be increased in three years.

Even government economists agree. Kaoru Yosano, economic and fiscal policy minister, revealed at a news conference Oct. 31. that the Cabinet Office estimated that doling out ¥2 trillion in cash will boost total GDP by only 0.1 percent.

What particularly astounded local government leaders was Aso’s decision to let municipalities decide whether to put an income cap on applicants so people making a lot of money would not be eligible.

Mayors worry about chaos at their municipal offices as thousands of people are expected to rush to apply for the handout in a short period of time, and local officials would have a giant task checking the annual income levels of applicants.

Norihisa Satake, mayor of Akita and head of the national association of mayors, argued that it’s simply impossible for city offices to handle all the clerical work.

“If 137,000 households (in Akita) come to City Hall over two weeks, about 10,000 people will come a day,” said Satake, adding the building only has parking for 400 automobiles.

The central government reportedly hopes to start handing out the cash after having a second supplementary budget enacted by the Diet in March.

But March is also the time when workers at municipal offices are extremely busy as the fiscal year ends later in the month.

“Even if we stop all the (other) work, we would not be able to handle (the applications). Do Diet members understand the reality of this?” Satake asked at a news conference in Akita last week, according to minutes of the conference posted on the city’s Web site.

ENDS

 

 

 

 

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog.  Four speeches next weekend in Iwate.  Do attend if you like.  Speech with Japanese title is in Japanese.  FYI, Debito

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

  1. 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)
  2. 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)
  3. Mon Dec 1, 2008, Iwate Prefectural University, 2:40-4:10PM, Kyoutsuu Kyougi Tou Classroom 101, “What is Internationalization in 21st Century Japan?” (CONFIRMED)

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

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog.  Here’s a note on a subject that may help people working for American multinational companies.  They 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 EEOC site.  Further, HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS has been helping people define their terms and anchor their arguments.  Happy to hear.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

================================
 
Did you happen to know that U.S. civil rights law (equal employment opportunities, or EEO) applies to U.S. citizens working abroad for U.S. multinational companies?
 
http://www.eeoc.gov/abouteeo/overview_coverage.html
 
under:  “Multinational Employers”

This is a heads up to the expat community.    Very few know that if they are working for the Japanese sub of an American company, and feel they are being discriminated or not given equal opportunities (based on a U.S. understanding of what that is!), they can go to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) in the US.

EEOC Charge mediation is confidential.

http://www.eeoc.gov/mediate/facts.html

Very few American-parent companies here tell their workers about the EEO coverage.   Basically, Congress wrote the law to hold the American parent liable for the activities of the overseas company that it controls.   So one possible remedy is filing an EEO complaint, which can be done over the internet.  Employers are supposed to tell the employees about these coverages and remedies — it says so in the 1964 act.

One thing that should also be pointed out is that there is a statute of limitations on EEOC charges.    Usually this is 300 days, but in some instances might only be 180 days.    It isn’t clear, though, that if the company does not NOTIFY you of the coverage, whether these limitations would apply.  So to be on the safe side, assume 180 days.

There is also a non-retaliation provision:   Form 5 information page states:
 
NOTICE OF NON-RETALIATION REQUIREMENTS
 
“Please notify EEOC or state and local agency where you filed your charge if retaliation is taken against you or others who oppose discrimination or cooperate in any investigation or lawsuit concerning this charge.   Under Section 704(a) of Title VII,  . . . [etc.], it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against present or former employees or job applicants, for an employment agency to discriminate against anyone, or for a union to discriminate against its members or membership applicants, because they have opposed any practice made unlawful by the statutes, or because they have made a charge, testified, assisted or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under the laws . . . “
 
HANDBOOK has been very handy in explaining Japanese labor law, since it is not exactly the subject of substantial English-language literature in other countries or languages.   In addition, letting people around Japan know about the EEO coverage, it helps anyone who is caught in a similar bind.  Japanese labor law investigators don’t seem to be all that vigilant when it comes to foreigners — not only language barriers, but also a sense that the foreign person “really isn’t supposed to be here” in the first place.

ENDS

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog.  It’s already been a year since Japan reinstituted fingerprinting for most NJ (after abolishing it in 2000 due to what was deemed back then to be human rights concerns) on November 20, 2007.  

There are still concerns about its application (a friend of mine who lived in Kobe actually LEFT Japan for good after more than a decade here, because he was so browned off about the unfulfilled promise of automatic gates at airports other than Narita; more later), its efficacy (we still don’t know many people were caught through fingerprints per se, as opposed to passport irregularities), 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, and foreign crime, you name it.  

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 (we are in the process of formally registering as an NPO with the GOJ).

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:
http://www.debito.org/?page_id=745

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.  Courtesy of Jon Dujmovich:

As for how people are being treated now that it’s been open season on NJ in the name of security, here’s an excerpt from a friend about how his wife (a Japanese) is being treated by police just because she doesn’t “look Japanese”:

I would like to relate to you an anecdote related to me by my wife concerning passport checks at Nagoya’s Centrair airport (at least, she didn’t indicate if she’d had the same experience at Kansai international airport or not).  My wife has been an airline employee for quite some time, and started her current position as cabin crew for a major international carrier after a brief period of unemployment once the contract period for her previous position was completed.  Her current working conditions are far from ideal, but she’s going to stick with it for the time being.

You have posted a number of entries on your blog about how NJ are regularly subjected to passport checks in major airports even after passing through immigrations.  Apparently it also happens to my wife quite regularly.

As she works for an international carrier, there are crew members from various countries and regions (Philippines, Hong Kong, the U.S., etc.) in addition to the Japanese crew.  For short stays, they are provided with a shore pass that allows them to enter Japan.  My wife has told me that it is very common for the ever helpful security drones to accost her and demand “Shore pass!” in heavily accented English.  I don’t know if they approach her because they think she doesn’t look “Japanese enough” (much to her perpetual consternation, a large number of people apparently tell her she looks Korean, and she’s not Zainichi), or because they see that her name plate is written in katakana (I am grateful that she took my name when we married, but it has caused some difficulties that I am sure you are familiar with), but they apparently don’t accept her statement that she is Japanese and make her show her passport anyway.

Now, of course, because she IS Japanese, not to mention typically tired after a flight, she is not at all inclined to raise a fuss about this.  It’s certainly despicable, but nothing that I’m about to suggest filing a lawsuit over.  Of course, if I even suggested something as straightforward as writing a letter of complaint to her, she I am sure that she would flat-out reject the idea on the grounds that it would be a bother (面倒くさい) and would cause too much trouble (迷惑をかける).  But this makes it clear to me that it’s not just definitely foreign-looking people who are being targeted, it’s anyone that evinces even the slightest indication of the possibility of being a foreigner.  Unless it’s a new(er? she never mentioned this happening at KIX when she was employed as crew for her previous job) policy to screen all airline employees regardless of the fact that they go through immigration just like everyone else.

Sorry to have taken so much of your time, but if you’ve bothered to read this far, thank you kindly.  Feel free to use this anecdote on your blog and garner comments, although if so I’d appreciate it being scrubbed of any remotely personally identifying information.

As always, keep fighting the good fight, and I am always looking forward to reading the new entries and comments on your blog.

Thanks.  Let’s get some more from Debito.org readers about their experiences and feelings of being fingerprinted.  Comment away.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog.  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.  Comment follows.

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 (more details on that here), although back then they were less armed and militarized.  I guess the NJ invasion of Ibaraki Prefecture is proceeding apace.  

IbarakiNPAposter07.jpg

As always, your taxes at work.  Including those of the NJ being portrayed.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog.  I heard from Tyler Lynch that Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Mr Honpo gave a speech in Nagano recently, on how to more than double tourism to Japan to 20 million visitors per annum by 2020 (see article immediately following).  One question during the Q&A was the recent poll indicating that 27% of hotels polled don’t want NJ tourists, for whatever reason (something not mentioned in the article below).  What was the GOJ going to do about these coy lodgings, refusing people in violation of Japanese hotel laws?  Well, according to Tyler, nothing.  First the article, then Tyler’s report:  

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

In tough economic times, tourism boss finds visitor boost a tall order

The Japan Times, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008

By TAKAHIRO FUKADA Staff writer
Courtesy of Tyler Lynch
    

Japan’s ailing regional economies can be revitalized by tapping the sightseeing potential of growing Asian countries, according to Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Yoshiaki Hompo.

News photo
Tall order: Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Yoshiaki Hompo is interviewed recently in Tokyo. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO

China will be a vital market, and Hompo’s agency is now in talks with other government bodies to gradually ease rules for issuing visas to Chinese tourists, he said during a recent interview in Tokyo.

Hompo also said the Japanese are not exclusionist and boasted the country has a unique natural and cultural diversity.

The agency was launched last month as part of efforts to draw 20 million foreign tourists by 2020, far beyond the 8.4 million who visited last year.

“Because the nation’s population is declining, Japan as a whole is increasingly aware that it must vitalize its regions by expanding exchanges, and some municipalities are desperate,” the new agency chief said.

Hompo hopes that despite the yen’s recent appreciation, Chinese, South Koreans, Taiwanese and Singaporeans will boost travel to Japan in the future.

Those parts of Asia with high growth potential must be included in Japan’s economic growth strategy, he said. Sightseeing can be a crucial and effective way to serve these goals, he stressed.

Hompo said he is proud of Japan’s unique tourism resources.

“Japan has been taking in both Western and Oriental cultures in its own way, so we now have an extremely diverse culture,” Hompo boasted.

“We have diversity that even Europe and Asia do not possess. It is a distinguishable feature of Japanese tourism resources,” Hompo said.

To draw 20 million tourists, the agency said Japan will need to attract around 6 million from China, which is far more than the 900,000 who visited last year.

“We will not be able to achieve that if we do not ease visa” restrictions for travelers from China, Hompo said, adding, however, the government will ease them gradually.

Experts are recommending streamlining the visa process or offering exemptions in certain cases to attract more visitors.

While boasting attractive tourism resources, and ambitious goals, the surging yen and recent world economic turmoil have cast a dark shadow on the market, Hompo conceded.

In September, the number of foreign tourists to Japan fell almost 7 percent from a year earlier to 611,500. South Korean travelers plunged more than 20 percent to 159,500.

“We have to be ready for this situation possibly continuing,” Hompo said.

But he remains optimistic as he said many foreign tourists have been choosing Japan in recent years.

Hompo said the agency will accelerate coordination with other ministries on easing visa restrictions for Chinese tourists.

“Easing visa (restrictions) has apparently quick effects” in bringing in more foreign tourists, he said.

While some may argue that many Japanese are xenophobic, Hompo said Japan will welcome foreign tourists with hearty hospitality.

“I do not necessarily think (Japanese) are exclusive in general,” Hompo said. “I wonder if anywhere else has people with this abundant hospitable mentality.”

The agency is in charge of implementing measures to turn Japan into a more tourism-oriented nation. It promotes the Visit Japan campaign, which publicizes appeals overseas for people to visit Japan and take in its natural scenery, modern metropolises and traditional enclaves.

 

ENDS

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

COMMENT:  Here’s how Tyler reported (from a comment on Debito.org) about a speech Mr Honpo gave:

Tyler (平) Lynch Says: 

Debito-san,
Yesterday I attended a tourism symposium in Matsumoto (Nagano Pref.) Yoshiaki Hompo, the 長官 of the newly created Japan Tourism Agency, was the guest speaker, and he commented on this issue of 27% of ryokans not wanted foreign guests.

Hompo-san presented some impressive stats on Japan’s tourism and (declining) population trends. One important figure was how much tourist expenditure it would take to cover the economic loss of one resident: 24 Japanese tourists (76 if just day trippers) or just 5 tourists from overseas. The point is Japan’s economy needs “Inbound” tourists to keep the economy stable during its population loss. In 2003, ex-PM Koizumi declared the goal of 10 million foreign tourists per year by 2010. Seemed pretty ambitious with there only being 5,100,000 at the time, but ‘08 is on target for 9,150,000. (That target is now in danger due to the recent climb of the Japenese Yen.) As Koizumi’s goal will likely be achieved earlier than expected, the JTA is now considering a new goal of 20 million by 2010. That would mean 1 in every 6 宿泊者 (lodgers) would be a foreigner (compared with 1 in 14 in 2007).

Hompo-san then said he is often asked: “With that type of stat, are you just going to ignore the 27% of the ryokans that don’t want to accept foreigners?” You know what his reply was?  “Yes, we are going to ignore them.” The reasoning was that the 1 in 6 won’t be spread evenly across all inns and hotels. The percentages will obviously be higher in Tokyo than the countryside. The inns in the 27% group tend to be in the countryside and tend to not want foreigner guests because they are not confident they can provide satisfactory service to them (c.f. Iegumo-san’s in-laws). Hompo-san indicated he would prefer to let such inns persist in their ignorance rather than forcing Inbounders on them, which would only create unpleasant experiences for both parties. As Japan’s population (and therefore their customer base) shrinks, then maybe the inns will wake up to the reality of needing to direct their omotenashi towards foreigners. Or maybe they’ll just keep on sleeping… (My editorializing, not his, but Hompo-san did say he would ほっとく the 27% in the hopes of avoiding them providing 忠太半端 service to foreign guests.)

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

DEBITO COMMENTS:  So there you have it.  The economic incentives are clear:  5 NJ tourists equals 24 J tourists (or 76 J day trippers) — meaning NJ tourists spend five to fifteen times more money than Japanese tourists.  But Mr Honpo doesn’t seem to think that enforcing the Ryokan Gyouhou matters — the invisible hand of economic pressure will take care of everything, including discrimination against foreigners.

Maybe.  But it’s still odd for a member of the administrative branch to argue that laws need not be enforced — that exclusionary hotels can just be ignored.  As if “JAPANESE ONLY” rules at hotels will not encourage copycats in other business sectors to put up similar signs and rules.  Moreover, economic incentives have not resolved other cases of exclusion, even when there are similar buyers’ markets in the apartment rental economy, where refusals of NJ are still commonplace.  Harrumph.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo, another major tourist destination.

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog.  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 survey (down to the phrasing of the questions) put out by the Sapporo City Government.  Courtesy of Olaf, who got surveyed (I didn’t, of course.)

They do these once or twice a decade; their last one was in 2001, and they completely rewrote the 2008 version after a lot of groundwork from other city offices and help from their NJ staff, the International Relations Department 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 even 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 a template.  So should Careercross.

Survey in English (cover plus 19 pages), then Survey in Japanese (cover plus 19 pages):

Well done!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
———————————————————————–
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)

[Program]
– From the abolition of fingerprinting in 2002 to its re-introdution in 2007
– Review plan of the Immigration Control Law in 2009: Abolish the ‘Gaikokujin
Torokusho’and introduce a ‘Zairyu Kaado’ and ‘Gaikokujin Daicho Seido’
– Concerns raised by civil society: What would happen to those who are unable to
apply for a ‘Zairyu Kaado (resident card)’, such as overstayers, including asylum
seekers and children? We will examine issues of education and medical provision, etc..

Comments or appeals from participants are welcomed.

Organized by: Amnesty International Japan, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan,
Network for Human Rights Legislation for Foreigners and Ethnic Minorities, National
Christian Liaison Conference to struggle with Issues of Alien Registration Law,

******************

The Ministry of Justice is currently pressing forward measures aiming at integrating
personal information of foreign residents in Japan. It is anticipated that a revised bill of
the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act will be discussed during the
ordinary diet session in 2009 to abolish the current ‘Gaikokujin Torokusho (alien
registration card)’ and introduce a ‘Zairyu Kaado (resident card)’ which will be issued
directly from the Ministry of Justice. However, we NGOs are concerned about that
once a ‘Zairyu Kaado’ is introduced, control over foreigners would be more tightened.
We particularly fear that the certain foreign residents such as overstayers may lose
access to most of basic public service including education and medical care by
excluding them from registering for the ‘Gaikokujin Daicho Seido’. Thus would make
these people more socially invisible.

At the public meeting, we will discuss the framework of the plan (abolishing the
‘Gaikokujin Torokusho’and introducing a ‘Zairyu Kaado’) and issues that might occur
when the new system is introduced. Also we again express our strong opposition
toward the obligation to provide the biological information.

******************
For further information:
Sonoko Kawakami
Amnesty International Japan
2-2-4F Kanda-NIshiki-cho, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 101-0054 JAPAN
TEL:+81-3-3518-6777 FAX:+81-3-3518-6778
http://www.amnesty.or.jp/

* The US government launched ‘the United States Visitor and Immigration Status
Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) in 2004. Japan was the second country that
introduced the similar program.

Sonoko Kawakami
Campaign Coordinator
Amnesty International Japan
2-2-4F Kanda-NIshiki-cho, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 101-0054 JAPAN
TEL:+81-3-3518-6777 FAX:+81-3-3518-6778
E-mail:ksonoko AT amnesty.or.jp

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

政治

国籍法の改正について(ごまめの歯ぎしり)

河野太郎2008/11/17
国籍法の改正について、お問い合わせをいただいております。いろいろなご意見、ご質問、ありがとうございました。しかし残念ながら国籍法の改正に関して、事実と全く違うことに基づいた誹謗中傷や、看過できない人種差別的、外国人蔑視的なご意見などが寄せられています。
日本国会NA_テーマ2


国籍法の改正について(ごまめの歯ぎしり) |

ごまめの歯ぎしりメールマガジン版
衆議院外務委員長河野太郎の国会日記
 08年11月14日号


 国籍法の改正について、お問い合わせをいただいております。

Q.なぜ、河野さんは、この国籍法の改正案を国会に提出したのですか。

A.なぜかインターネット上でそう言われているようですが、この国籍法の改正案は、議員が提出した法案ではありません。法務省が作成し、政府が閣議決定した内閣提出の法案です。私が提出したわけではありません。

 今年6月5日、最高裁判所大法廷で、国籍法第三条一項が違憲とされました。違憲判決の翌日から10月9日までに93件の国籍取得届が出されていますが、法務省はこれを全て留保している状況です。法務省は、この届けを受理するためには最高裁判決に沿った法改正が必要だと修正案を作成し、閣議決定を経て、内閣提出の国籍法改正案としてこの臨時国会に提出されています。

Q.この法案の国会審議の見込みはどうなっていますか。

A.この改正案は、衆議院では自民、公明、民主等各党が賛成し、来週にも衆議院を通過する見込みです。

Q.最高裁が違憲だといっても、国籍法を改正する必要はないのではないですか。

A.最高裁の違憲判決が出て、国籍法の第三条が違憲であるということが確定した時点で、認知届けが受理された子供の国籍取得届を却下することはできなくなります。

 そのため、法改正をして国籍届けを受理する必要があります。もしも、何らかの理由で法改正ができない場合は、そのまま届けを受理せざるをえなくなるかもしれず、法律的に安定しません。政府としては、そういう状況を避けなければなりません。

Q.この改正案が成立すると日本国籍を取るために偽装認知しやすくなりませんか。外国人女性がホームレスにお金を渡して認知届を出させるだけで、子供が日本国籍を取ることができるようになったりしませんか。

A.ホームレスにお金を渡して届けを出させればといえば、改正前のルールでも、お金を渡して認知届けと婚姻届を出させれば国籍が取れてしまうということになってしまいます。現実には、事情を聞いて認知届けを受け付けるかどうか審査をしていますので、単に誰かに頼んで届を出させただけではそれは認められません。

 この改正案が成立しても、認知届けを出せば簡単に日本国籍がとれるわけではありません。認知届けが真正なものかどうか、父親と母親を別々に呼んでの審査等がありますので、実態がない認知届けによる国籍取得が簡単にできるわけではありません。

Q.偽装認知により国籍を得た後で、認知が偽装だということがわかったらその国籍はどうなりますか。

A.認知が無効であれば、それに伴う国籍取得も無効になります。認知が偽装であったことがわかれば、国籍取得も無効になりますから、国籍はそもそも最初から与えられなかったことになります。

Q.偽装認知による国籍取得の罰則が一年以下の懲役または二十万円以下の罰金というのは軽くないですか。

A.偽装認知により国籍を不正に取得することに対する罰則は、まず認知届を市町村に出すことによって公正証書原本不実記載罪、法務局に国籍取得届を出すことによりこの改正で新設される罰則、子の戸籍を編成するために市町村に国籍取得届を出すことにより、公正証書原本不実記載罪に再び問われ、併合して七年六ヶ月以下の懲役または百二十万円以下の罰金になります。

Q.審査があるといっても完璧ではないので、外国籍の女性の子供を認知する際にはDNA鑑定を必要とするべきではないですか。

A.偽装認知を防ぐためには、DNA鑑定も一つの方法だと思います。私が自民党の国籍プロジェクトチームに出した私案では、外国籍の女性の子供を認知するときはDNA鑑定を条件とすることを提案しています。

 ただし、DNA鑑定を必須とすることには、自民党内でもいろいろな懸念も出されていますので、これからの検討課題です。

Q.この国籍法の改正で、日本も二重国籍を認めることになるのですか。

A.今回の国籍法の改正は、二重国籍とは全く関係ありません。

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。

 いろいろなご意見、ご質問、ありがとうございました。

 これからも様々なご意見をお待ちしておりますが、残念ながらこの国籍法の改正に関して、事実と全く違うことに基づいた誹謗中傷や看過できない人種差別的、外国人蔑視的なコメントが数多く寄せられたこともあり、ブログのコメント欄を一時閉鎖しております。

 しばらくの間、ご意見は、http://www.taro.org/contact/ からお寄せ下さい。


メルマガバックナンバーはこちら(ブログ版)↓
http://www.taro.org/blog/
コメント歓迎します!

■発行:河野太郎
●購読申し込み・解除:http://www.taro.org/blog/
●関連ホームページ:http://www.taro.org/
●ご意見・お問い合わせ:http://www.taro.org/contact/

(当レポートに掲載された記事は、全文を掲載する場合に限り転載・再配布できます。)

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Turning the keyboard over to member of The Community, about an issue recently uncovered:

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

Date: November 6, 2008 12:35:18 AM JST
From BCD at The Community

Community,

Below is a survey I just saw on Careercross.com, which, if you don’t know it, is a job placement site.

CareerCross provides information on bilingual employment in Japan for bilingual Japanese and English speakers, plus an invaluable resource for non-Japanese Living and Working in Japan.
http://www.careercross.com/

Maybe I’m just being overly sensitive or something, but something about these questions, targeted at foreign employers of Japanese seems wrong.

I can only imagine that if a similar survey were asked in any other country, where any racial group as asked to rate and compare another racial group, it would cause a hell of a fuss. Pick any two racial groups… the kinds of questions asked here seem to be in really poor judgment.

What do you guys think? Is there an unsavoury form of cultural insensitivity being displayed here or am I seeing something that isn’t there?

The questions are as follows:

1. How comfortable are you working with Japanese subordinates?
Comfortable
Somewhat comfortable
Neither comfortable, nor uncomfortable
Somewhat uncomfortable
Uncomfortable

* This question requires an answer.

* 2. Can you rely on Japanese subordinates?
I can rely on them
I can rely on them somewhat
I can not rely on them so much
I can not rely on them

* This question requires an answer.

* 3. Do you have occasions where you are not able to understand what
Japanese subordinates really think?
Frequently
Sometimes
Rarely
Never

* This question requires an answer.

* 4. Please compare Japanese subordinates with those of your
nationality. Please choose 1 answer from each of the following questions.
* 4a. Work Speed
Faster
Somewhat faster
Neither faster, nor slower
Somewhat slower
Slower

* This question requires an answer.

* 4b. Quality of work
More careful
Somewhat more careful
Neither more careful, nor more careless
Somewhat more careless
More careless

* This question requires an answer.

* 4c. Creativity
More creative
Somewhat more creative
Neither more, nor less creative
Somewhat less creative
Less creative

* This question requires an answer.

* 4d. Logicality
Logical
Somewhat logical
Neither more, nor less logical
Somewhat less logical
Less logical

* This question requires an answer.

* 4e. Risk taking
Accepts challenges
Somewhat accepts challenges
Neither accepts, nor avoids challenges
Somewhat avoids challenges
Avoids challenges

* This question requires an answer.

* 4f. Attitude in discussions
Unafraid of conflict
Somewhat unafraid of conflict
Neither unafraid, nor afraid of conflict
Somewhat afraid of conflict
Afraid of conflict

* This question requires an answer.

* 4g. Negotiation skills
Better at negotiating
Somewhat better at negotiating
Neither better, nor worse at negotiating
Somewhat worse at negotiating
Worse at negotiating

* This question requires an answer.

* 4h. Problem solving skills
Better at problem solving
Somewhat better at problem solving
Neither better, nor worse at problem solving
Somewhat worse at problem solving
Worse at problem solving

* This question requires an answer.

* 4i. Leadership skills
More willing to take leadership
Somewhat more willing to take leadership
Neither more, nor less willing to take leadership
Somewhat less willing to take leadership
Less willing to take leadership

* This question requires an answer.

* 4j. Effectiveness
More effective
Somewhat more effective
Neither more, nor less effective
Somewhat less effective
Less effective

* This question requires an answer.

* 4k. Cooperativeness
More cooperative
Somewhat more cooperative
Neither more, nor less cooperative
Somewhat less cooperative
Less cooperative

* This question requires an answer.

* 4l. Adapts to change
More flexible
Somewhat more flexible
Neither more, nor less flexible
Somewhat less flexible
Less flexible

* This question requires an answer.

* 4m. Assertiveness
More assertive
Somewhat more assertive
Neither more, nor less assertive
Somewhat less assertive
Less assertive

* This question requires an answer.

* 4n. Communication skills
Better communication skills
Somewhat better communication skills
Neither better, nor worse communication skills
Somewhat worse communication skills
Worse communication skills

* This question requires an answer.

* 5. What do you find difficult in working with Japanese subordinates?
Please choose as many as you like. If you have other examples please
write them below.
Slow work
Careless work
Lack of creativity
Lack of logic
Avoids challenges
Afraid of conflict in discussions
Poor at negotiating
Poor at problem solving
Lack of leadership
Ineffective
Uncooperative
Lack of flexibility (Poor at adapting to change)
Lack of assertiveness
Poor communication skills

Other

* This question requires an answer.

* 6. If you were to hire Japanese subordinates what qualities would you
look for? Please choose as many as you like. If you have other examples
please write them below.
Fast work
Careful work
Creativity
Logic
Accepts challenges
Unafraid of conflicts in discussion
Better at problem solving
Leadership
Effectiveness
Cooperativeness
Flexibility (Adapts to change)
Assertiveness
Good communication skills

Other

* This question requires an answer.

* 7. If you had to hire one candidate from 2 who had the same
competency, which would you hire: a Japanese candidate with fluent
English ability or a non-Japanese candidate with fluent Japanese ability?
Definitely the Japanese candidate with fluent English ability
Preferably the Japanese candidate with fluent English ability
No preference
Preferably the non-Japanese candidate with fluent Japanese ability
Definitely the non-Japanese candidate with fluent Japanese ability

* This question requires an answer.

8. Please tell us the reason for your answer of the previous question.
* 9. Do you think Japanese business people would do well globally?
Yes, they would.
They probably would.
Cannot say either way.
They probably would not.
No, they would not.

* This question requires an answer.

10. What do you think is necessary for Japanese business people to do
well globally in the future?
* 11. Finally, do you feel threatened by Japanese business people taking
your position?
Yes, I feel threatened.
Yes, I feel somewhat threatened.
No, I don’t feel very threatened.
No, I don’t feel threatened.

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

FURTHER COMMENTARY FROM THE COMMUNITY::

Totally agree this survey is very biased, especially question 5 as BCD pointed out. I have two Japanese subordinates – Kondo-kun tends to be a little slow in reporting changes and Adachi-kun tends not to express any opinions at meetings, but I couldn’t say anything about Japanese subordinates in general from that.  Kaoru

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

FOLLOWUP FROM BCD:

After having slept on it, and seeing your comments, I’m a little more convinced that the questions are inappropriate and Careercoss should probably be called on it.

Two main reasons: If such a survey were conducted in Japanese by employers of foreigners, we’d be up in arms about it. And the fact that the tone is overwhelmingly negative. Question 5 does not offer any way of opting out of a negative impression of Japanese employees, and is chock full of stereotypes.

I don’t know how to find the survey online if you are not a member. It was offered to me via email because I’ve had a resume on Careercross for a while.

The link they sent me was:
http://www.careercross.com/en/questionnaire_screener.php

I’m considering getting in touch with them to make known that their survey is poorly executed and has the impression of bias against Japanese. If anyone has suggestions on what might be said, or what parts pointed out, please let me know.

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

COMMENTARY FROM GM:

Thank you for the link, because that helped me look for something that seems to me to be very important when sending out any survey — what is the purpose of the survey. I don’t see any reason given for the survey on either page.

As for Q5, what really concerns me is there is no place to check a block which is a positive response. 

“What troubles do/did you have …?” — How about allowing us the opportunity to check a box that indicates, “None.” 

All the answers are negative, unless one were to put a positive answer in “other”. I would think a “positive box” should go at the very top as a first choice. Otherwise, we get the impression that it’s a foregone conclusion that us non-Japanese folks always have negative views of our Japanese subordinates.

Okay, that’s my take on Q5, but I have other concerns about this survey, so I just called their offices about ten minutes ago. The lady I eventually spoke with indicated that the person responsible for the survey was not there to answer my question about what the purpose of the survey is and why there is no positive answer available for Q5, so I gave her an email address to let the person send me an answer. I declined the offer of a phone call. The lady seemed to understand my questions just fine, but we may yet have some problem with my questions being communicated through her to the person having to answer. *If* that person will answer.

Is that a practical good first step — some kind of initial contact with two basic questions, and then we can decide if and how to go further? I suppose it’s a bit late to ask, as I’ve already done it.

By the way, I think going much “further” is going to be necessary. For one thing, if one is to send out a survey that is essentially only going to cover negative aspects of an issue the introduction to the survey must explain why.

Let’s say I send out a survey titled, “What Don’t You Like About GM.” I think I should preface that survey with some reason why I assume all of you don’t like GM.

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

RESPONSE FROM CAREERCROSS.COM TO A QUERY FROM GM

date: Tue, Nov 11, 2008 at 1023 AM

subject: CareerCross survey

To: GM

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

ENDS

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

RESPONSE FROM BCD:

Points that I think need to be addressed in a response to the CareerCross CEO:

1. A “feel good” survey is not the only alternative to a negative one. It is entirely possible to create a merely objective survey.

2. Any market researcher knows that asking leading questions gets the answers that the respondents were led to. If they want genuine and meaningful result, then they necessarily should allow clear options for both positive and neutral responses, not only negative.

3. The old “Japanese think so too” argument is as tired as ever. Just because the boss had some Japanese people work on the survey doesn’t justify anything about it. Not only is it unclear whether or not the Japanese or non-Japanese involved honestly felt the freedom to construct the survey differently than what their higher ups wanted, in any country and culture one will find attitudes of criticism of local norms that can be exploited. Just because I can find a Canadian that says Canadians suck doesn’t make it a more accurate description of Canada.

I could rip apart this guy’s justification of this survey even more, but I’m a little tired right now.

GM, this time, before firing off any more responses to CareerCross, maybe wait a bit until we’ve had time to flesh out some consistent points. The whole advantage of a group like this is the collective wisdom.

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

Okay, Debito.org readers, time for some collective wisdom… Comments please.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog. Here’s a thoughtful essay on the word “gaijin” by Mike Guest.  It doesn’t go so far as to say what one should actually do (or advocate) regarding the usage of the word.  But that’s probably not his job or intention (as it would be mine).  It does get into the aspect of “othering” as a matter of linguistic redundancy, and that makes it worth a read on a Sunday afternoon.  Thanks Mike.  Glad to have helped spark off a debate on the word. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Indirectly Speaking / ‘Gaijin’ and marked language

I doubt that any one would argue that “gaijin” carries as much historical baggage, has as much power to offend, or displays the same degree of insensitivity that certain other (racially charged) epithets carry. But for proponents of the “gaijin is a bad word” view, this is largely beside the point. The issue for them is that its usage (not its etymology–that is another matter) indicates, creates or perpetuates what we call “othering,” the separation into binary (us/them) units meant to discriminate and possibly, denigrate.

There seem to be two widespread responses to this argument. The first is that some term is needed to distinguish people who are Japanese from those who are not (putting aside for now the issue of whether “Japanese” refers to citizenship, ethnicity or some nebulous combination of the two). And while the more formal “gaikokujin” has been suggested as an alternative, this would not appear to deflect the charge of othering. After all, a classifier is not an epithet. As long as we can find some legitimate basis for classification, we will need terms to express it. It is also worth noting that formal Japanese does not always connote acceptance or friendliness but, in many cases actually expresses distance. More on these points later.

The second response is that proscribing the term gaijin as pejorative would not change that which some actually find to be most objectionable–the underlying insider/outsider value system that the term supposedly represents. In other words, the argument goes, gaijin may denote non-Japanese (and in practice, generally Caucasians) but it connotes something more negative.

But this begs the point of how searching for politically correct euphemisms doesn’t actually allow us to escape from negative connotations. For example, even if we change the accepted term from “handicapped” to “disabled” to “challenged” there will always be a certain unpleasant connotation attached, since the very act of constantly coining euphemisms for the same underlying reality tacitly admits that we view this reality itself as something inherently negative. Now, do we really want to imply that being a gaijin is in itself an inherently unpleasant thing?

Which brings me to today’s central point. 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.

Next point: Earlier, I wrote “As long as we can make some legitimate basis for classification…” Why did I say “legitimate”? OK–anecdote time: I was about to board a train recently and a few young people, who were getting on before me, had not noticed that I was boarding behind them. As a result they didn’t enter quickly, leaving me stuck in the doorway, until one turned around, saw me, and said, “Oh I didn’t realize there is a gaijin behind us. Let’s go.” This “Let’s go” was actually intended as an act of courtesy–to move along because I was trying to get on. But why the use of “gaijin” here? It was absolutely superfluous to the situation.

Another true story: I was at an electronic goods shop after experiencing a rather difficult problem with my new computer. After I explained the problem (in Japanese) to a polite staff member, he thought it best that I speak to a specialist and so called for one. When the specialist arrived, the initial salesman said, “Can you help this foreign customer [gaikoku no okyaku-sama] with his problem?” This, unfortunately led the specialist to believe that I couldn’t speak (or hadn’t spoken) Japanese, followed by the awkwardness you’d expect. Why had the first salesman used “foreign customer” in this case? It was superfluous.

Now, I was not offended in either situation. I cannot pretend to be a victim and claim that I was dehumanized. But they did make me curious. After all, when we use redundancies we are usually trying to “mark” the language with what linguists call implicatures.

What are implicatures? Imagine someone introducing a coworker by saying, “This is my black [or white] colleague, Bob.” In such a case, Bob and the person addressed would naturally try to interpret what the speaker meant over and above the words alone because the speaker had marked the language, in this case by using a redundancy. Because of the implicature, Bob would have a linguistically sound reason for reading something suspicious in the speaker’s statement.

A highway bus driver announces that there will be a delay in our arrival time because a “gaisha” (foreign car) has stalled on the road several kilometers ahead, causing a traffic jam. Why does he feel the need to mention that it was a foreign car? The same holds true for phrases like, “Japan’s four seasons” instead of the seasons or “American joke” for any joke told by a foreigner. Marked by redundancy.

So what is the problem with such marked uses of words like “gaijin”? First, it can make an issue out of race or nationality in situations where those should not an issue. It can lead to misunderstandings as in the case of the computer specialist who took the superfluous use of “foreign customer” to mean that I was not communicating in Japanese and therefore assumed that this would be a linguistically troublesome encounter.

Redundant usage of such terms also marks an unnecessary mental classification or separation, which may create a burden when it comes to interacting with non-Japanese. If we try to reduce this core sense of distance felt by our learners, the divisive “othering” mentality that so many culture-learning materials unwittingly foster, we might also begin to reduce negatively marked language and awkward usages that can easily lead to misunderstandings and discomfort not only for (ahem) gaijin, but for Japanese people, too.

Guest is an associate professor of English at Miyazaki University. He can be reached at mikeguest59@yahoo.ca.

(Nov. 4, 2008)

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Morning Blog.  Good news.  Followup to yesterday’s post regarding granting Japanese citizenship to people in uncertain parentage circumstances:  Granting dual citizenship to people in international family circumstances.  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.  (And note the caveats in the proposal below to make sure people like Alberto Fujimori don’t abuse their possible J citizenship for political purposes.)  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

=============================== 
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
Courtesy of Sendaiben and Mark MT

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.

The panel will scrutinize the proposal, but there is no time limit to formalize it as “this is not something that needs to be done anytime soon,” he said.

Under the current system, Japan, in principle, requires Japanese nationals who also hold citizenship in another country to choose one or the other before they turn 22.

However, there is no punishment for violators, and the Justice Ministry does not search for or even request people who publicly proclaim possession of multiple citizenship to choose one.

“The current law works unfavorably for honest people and those exposed to the media,” Kono said. “If we think about Japan’s future, we should establish a system as a nation to secure necessary human resources.”

The proposal calls for Japanese who hold other nationalities to report to local authorities. Those failing to do so would be subject to a fine and possible loss of their Japanese citizenship.

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.

Royalty, Diet members, Cabinet ministers, diplomats, certain members of the Self-Defense Forces and court judges can only hold Japanese nationality.

If holders of more than one nationality take such positions in other countries, they will lose their Japanese nationality, the proposal says.

To avoid granting citizenship to those with a limited connection to Japan, the proposal stipulates that those who have not lived in Japan for a total of 365 days until their 22nd birthday will lose their Japanese nationality.

The Japan Times: Friday, Nov. 14, 2008
ENDS

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?」

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
<転載歓迎>
————————————————————————–
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

※ その他、国会議員や参加者からの発言を予定。

日本版US-VISITの施行から1年

来る11月20日、ほぼすべての来日・在日外国人の指紋などの生体情報の提供を(再)入国時に義務づける制度(日本版US-VISIT)が開始されて丸1年が経ちます。「差別だ」「まるで犯罪者扱い」という外国人の訴えや批判は、生体情報提供を拒否すれば入国できないという現実の中でかき消されています。

その一方で、政府は外国人の個人情報の管理強化を目的とした政策を進めています。2009年の通常国会では、これまで自治体が発行していた「外国人登録証」を廃止し、法務省が直接発行する「在留カード」を導入するという入管法改定案が出される見込みです。しかし、「在留カード」が導入されることによってますます外国人管理が強化されるとともに、「外国人台帳制度」から排除されることによって基本的権利を奪われ、社会的に「見えない存在」とされてしまう人びとが確実に出てくると危惧されます。

「管理」ではなく「人権」システムを!

院内集会では、2009年に提出が予想される外国人登録証廃止・「在留カード」導入案の枠組
み、また実際に導入される場合にどのよう問題が懸念されているのかを中心に考えます。ま
た、改めて、日本版US-VISITによる生体情報提供義務に反対を表明します。

■主催団体■
アムネスティ・インターナショナル日本/移住労働者と連帯する全国ネットワーク/
外国人人権法連絡会/外登法問題と取り組む全国キリスト教連絡協議会/
盗聴法(組対法)に反対する市民連絡会/反住基ネット連絡会

■お問い合わせ■
アムネスティ・インターナショナル日本
東京都千代田区神田錦町2-2 共同ビル(新錦町)
TEL:03-3518-6777 (担当・川上)

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog. Here’s more on the debate regarding legally plugging the holes in Japan’s nationality laws. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
=================================
Citizenship for kids still tall order
The Japan Times, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008

 By SETSUKO KAMIYA and MINORU MATSUTANI, Staff writers
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20081105f2.html

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.

Despite what seems to be a positive move, however, some also predict many challenges ahead before the children entitled to Japanese nationality can actually acquire it.

“The revision will mean a lot to the children, because (nationality) is part of their identity and will secure them a more stable status and future,” said Rieko Ito, secretary general of the Tokyo-based Citizens Network for Japanese-Filipino Children, which supports Filipino women and children in Japan who often live under permanent resident status.

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.

The revised bill will soon be submitted to the Diet and is expected to clear both chambers during the extraordinary session.

Since the ruling, more than 90 people who would be granted Japanese nationality once the revision is enforced have applied for it, according to Justice Ministry official Katsuyoshi Otani.

Among them, two-thirds are Filipino and the rest are mainly Chinese and South Korean, he said. Of the applicants, about 90 percent reside in Japan, he said, adding that the procedure is currently pending.

The reason behind the large number of Filipino applicants is that Japanese brokers have brought Filipino women to Japan to work as entertainers since the 1980s. In most cases, the women, who came to earn money to send back to their families, ended up working in night clubs as hostesses.

The bill grants applicants who were younger than 20 as of Jan. 1, 2003, and had been recognized as a Japanese man’s child by then, the right to obtain Japanese nationality if they apply for it within three years of the revision taking effect.

The revision draws the line at Jan. 1, 2003, because among the plaintiffs, that year marked the oldest case of paternal recognition, the ministry explained.

Nihon University law professor Akira Momochi is critical of the revision to the law, arguing this will inevitably invite fraudulent cases with people falsely claiming parental recognition.

“There are many Asian people who want to sneak into Japan. I can easily imagine they want to defraud the Japanese authorities (by using the revision),” he said.

Momochi added that the revision’s new clause penalizing people who forge documents necessary to apply for nationality with up to one year in prison or a fine of up to ¥200,000 is not severe enough to serve as a deterrent.

But Chuo University Law School professor Yasuhiro Okuda argued that forging paternity recognition was not worth the risk.

First, even if the mother succeeds in registering the child as a Japanese national at a registration office, this does not automatically secure her residential status in Japan.

And once a child is registered, the “father” must technically bear responsibility for child support or giving the child inheritance rights, unless the father files a lawsuit to fix the registry, Okuda said.

In addition, forging a family registry is a crime that can lead to a prison term of five years or a ¥500,000 fine.

Okuda, who supports the revision, is more concerned about the difficulties the mothers may face when seeking recognition for their children by the real biological fathers.

First, many fathers hesitate to recognize their paternity of children born out of wedlock. The revision to the law may encourage more mothers to file lawsuits against the father to acknowledge paternity, but lawsuits can be very expensive for the mothers.

Another problem is that local-level authorities tend to refuse to accept the parental recognition registrations, even though the mother, in accordance with the rules, has the necessary information to prove the child belongs to a Japanese father. This largely derives from lack of knowledge of the correct procedures by the authorities, Okuda noted.

Okuda estimates there are at least 10,000 children in Japan who may potentially apply for citizenship once this revision takes effect.

“If the numbers of applications to Japanese nationality don’t go up, it’s important to doubt whether the authorities are doing their job properly,” he said.

The proposed revision does not exclude children between Japanese fathers and foreign mothers living overseas from applying for Japanese nationality when the conditions are met.

Ito of the network for Japanese-Filipino children said its office in the Philippines is currently helping some 30 mothers prepare to visit theJapanese Embassy in Manila to apply for Japanese nationality for their children in early December.

But she added that mothers need to think carefully before considering applying, because their children are already growing up in the Philippines and such a profound change may affect them in many ways.

“Unfortunately, some mothers blindly believe that obtaining their children’s nationality will automatically secure them a better life in Japan, but having that kind of premise is dangerous,” she said.

Okuda of Chuo University advised that applicants must also be careful to check the regulations in the mothers’ countries, as obtaining Japanese nationality may lead to their children losing their other nationality.

ENDS

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog.  Here’s an issue that is being fleshed out in a well-written, informative Kyodo article:  that of historical revisionism within Japan’s military, and its cosiness with the right-wing.  We had a general write a prize-winning essay (received from right-wingers, see below) denying that Japan waged a war of liberation against Asia during WWII.  How Japan treats or is treated by its neighbors is of import to Debito.org, albeit tangentially, so let me reproduce Kyodo’s recap of the debate so far.  

I was asked for my opinion earlier this month in the Comments section of my blog.  In brief, this is how I answered:

========================
–- Tamogami was forced to resign. Good. He did not capitulate. Fine with me (it is his opinion). But the media I’ve seen so far skirts the issue. It’s not a matter of whether what he said was appropriate for his position within the SDF. It is an issue about whether what he says is historically accurate. (It is not.) And until these historical issues are finally laid to rest (through, as UN Rapporteur Doudou Diene suggested, a history book of the region written and approved by scholars from all countries involved), this is just going to keep happening again and again. Exorcising the elephant in the room, i.e. the ghost of Japan’s wartime past (particularly as to whether it was a war of aggression or liberation), must be done sooner or later. It is still not being done and debunked, and that means the SDF person can just use “freedom of speech” as his cloaking device and compare Japan to the DPRK (as he has done) and just gain sympathy for the Rightists. There. Debito 
========================

Unfortunately, I don’t see any diversion from this path even as the debate, as Kyodo reports below, goes to the Diet.  The debate has gone into issues of civilian control (meaning, to freedom-of-speechers on both sides of the political spectrum, mind control), and Tamogami is setting himself up to become a martyr to the right wing.  Again, the tack should also include, is what he saying historically accurate?  Again, it is not.  

The honest study of the history of any country is going to reveal things that a nation is ashamed of, and one must include that as part of the national narrative.  The Tamogamis, Obuchis, Abes, and Asos are just going to have to live with that.  And part of the process is bringing historical fact of Japan’s conquering, Imperialist past into the debate.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

FOCUS: Unapologetic ex-general’s testimony fuels civilian control concern

TOKYO, Nov. 11, 2008 KYODO, Courtesy of the Club

http://www.japantoday.com/category/commentary/view/unapologetic-ex-generals-testimony-fuels-concern-over-civilian-control-of-sdf

     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.

     ”Did I do such a bad thing at the end of my career?” the outspoken Tamogami told reporters after pressing his case over the essay as an unsworn witness during a 160-minute session before the House of Councillors Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense.

     Tamogami offered no apology or remarks that he would take a hard look at the release of the essay in which he denied Japan waged a war of aggression in other Asian countries before and during the war.

     ”I’m feeling good,” Tamogami said to TV camera crews and photographers on entering the parliament building earlier in the day for the testimony session.

     ”Mr. Tamogami has learned nothing (from this controversy),” a senior official of the Defense Ministry said. ”I cannot help doubting Mr. Tamogami properly understands the gravity of what he did as a top SDF officer.”

     The Chinese and South Korean governments have expressed their displeasure over Tamogami’s essay although the dispute has yet to develop into a major diplomatic problem.

     Adm. Keiji Akahoshi, the chief of staff of the Maritime Self-Defense Force, questioned Tamogami’s remarks in the upper house committee, telling a press conference, ”Again I recognized the gravity of the problem and that his releasing the essay was inappropriate.”

     Tamogami was dismissed as ASDF chief Oct. 31, the same day as his essay, which the government says clearly contradicts the position of successive governments, was made public.

     In the essay, Tamogami denied that Japan had waged a war of aggression in other Asian countries and challenged legal restrictions on SDF activities such as limits on the use of weapons overseas under the U.S.-drafted Constitution.

     Setting aside the essay’s content, the issue also shed light on whether politicians can properly control the expression of opinions by SDF personnel while being mindful of freedom of speech.

     Tamogami was known for his straight talk after becoming ASDF chief in March 2007 and wrote an article later that year in a magazine circulating only within the ASDF on the war and historical issues that contained views similar to those in the essay.

     Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada, a legislator, admitted that the then leadership of the ministry missed the article ”because that was an in-house magazine.”

     This time, the essay Tamogami wrote while ASDF chief was made public as the winner of the 3 million yen top prize in a competition.

     But an SDF officer tried to defend Tamogami saying, ”I heard it was well-known in the ASDF that Mr. Tamogami held such views on the history of the war as he expressed opinions to that effect on various occasions without being clearly advised not to do so.”

     ”He may be puzzled, feeling, ‘Why am I being criticized so strongly only this time?” the officer said.

     Former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, known as a military wonk, has said that more SDF officers should come forward to express opinions from the viewpoint of defense experts to support the defense minister.

     Tamogami has also come under fire for his failure to notify civilian officials in the ministry in writing of his plan to publicize the essay, breaking an intra-ministry rule on the expression of opinions by ranking SDF officers.

     But Tamogami said, ”That should not constitute a violation of any rules,” arguing that writing the essay was not part of his official duties and that it was a product of his private studies on history.

     At the beginning of the session Tuesday, Committee Chairman Toshimi Kitazawa from the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan urged members of the committee as well as Tamogami to be aware that sloppy civilian control over the old Imperial Japanese military forces resulted in the loss of more than 3 million lives in the war.

     The ministry is set to pay Tamogami a retirement allowance worth around 60 million yen. He was dismissed as ASDF chief but allowed to leave the ministry with a status enabling him to receive the benefit.

     ”I’ll use the allowance because I will have difficulty making a living,” Tamogami said, brushing off mounting calls to voluntarily return all or part of the money to the state coffers.

     But a top official of the ministry blasted Tamogami, saying, ”I hope he will better understand how much trouble he has caused for the ASDF for which he served for 30 something years and how seriously the already damaged confidence in the SDF has been lost.”

     The top official, who asked not to be named, also said that Tamogami was unfit for the top post in the air force and his behavior could suggest problems in the education programs at defense academies.

     ”We know there are some junior SDF personnel who don’t want to easily follow government policies on various matters. It’s OK. They have freedom of thought. But we do not usually expect a four-star-general-class officer like Mr. Tamogami to challenge the government in public,” the official said.

     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.”

ENDS

 

 

 

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 12, 2008

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 12, 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
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
Freely forwardable

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

REVELATIONS

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

Here’s a post from a 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 or over 65 gets 8000 yen.

Wonderful stimulus package, like the LDP’s gimmick 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 yet 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. More at:

http://www.debito.org/?p=2002

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

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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=1980

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STEREOTYPING

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

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 place of employment.
http://www.debito.org/?p=1994
The intimidated students even call him a scary “gaijin”. How nice. The author 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 then responded to suggest we “relax” and “stop thinking about things too much”, plus how he finds the brusque style of my writing “upsetting”…
Excerpt:
===============================================
“Thank you for your email regarding the “stereotype” in Talk a Lot,
Book 1. I have had a look at your website and read the comments.
I want to explain this, not to defend myself or my actions but
just so you know. First of all, it’s NOT meant to be a stereotype
in any way whatsoever. Foreigners who live in Japan are not like this,
and everyone knows it. It’s done comically like this and is a gross
overexageration in order to motivate students to use a normally
dull grammar points.
[sic]

“For your information, very few people, students nor teachers have been
offended by this. Yes, if you think too hard and are too critical, it may
offend someone. Please relax, enjoy life and stop thinking too much.
Look at it in a different light and you may not be so upset. Also, keep in
mind that I, myself, am a foreigner and am poking fun at myself so
why would it be offensive. Offensive to whom?”

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

My answer and some very animated discussion at
http://www.debito.org/?p=1994

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4) KM on how only NJ suspects get named in J media, even when J perps involved in crime

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?

http://www.debito.org/?p=2001

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

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 foreign. 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=1992

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DAMAGE CONTROL

6) Mainichi: Collapsed international marriages raise child abduction issue

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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=1966

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7) Mainichi: Japan might sign child abduction convention, quotes J lawyer who opposes, who claims 90% of intl divorces are due to NJ DV!

Addendum to the above 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.)

http://www.debito.org/?p=1983

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

FUN TANGENTS:

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=1993

COMMENT: 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, former American citizen.

Two essays of note on this sentiment here:

http://www.debito.org/japantodaycolumns16-18.html (see essay 17)
http://www.debito.org/deamericanize.html

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

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=1987

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

… and finally…

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

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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=1996

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

Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 12, 2008 ENDS

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog. 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 neither can people under 20 and they qualify).  I guess the fact that any discussion of it is happening is an improvement over the last round of bribes.  But the assumption that NJ don’t really count is once again disconcerting.  Read on for XYZ’s read.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Hello Debito,

I assume you have been following the news about the LDP’s proposals to shower money on Japan, ostensibly as an economic stimulus measure, and doubtless to buy voter sentiment in advance of the Lower House election that must be held by September 2009.

Until recently, the discussion was a typical “bread and circuses” policy of the LDP. However, unlike the 2003 plan that distributed shopping vouchers to all registered residents who met certain conditions, the LDP has started to talk of limiting distributions to permanent resident foreigners. If the handout is an economic policy, this makes no sense, since foreigners as well as Japanese patronize Japanese shops, and a foreigner with Y100 yen in her pocket is as valuable to the shopkeeper as a Japanese with Y100 in his pocket.

Of course, one cannot expect Japan to give every tourist money as they deplane, and Aso’s policies may never pass money even to Japanese citizens, but until recently the talk was of distribution to all taxpayers, or households, without a nationality element.

There is one school of thought that suggests that the LDP may actually be trying to court permanent residents in preparation for their being given some kind of vote, but predictably suggesting that foreigners receive even 1 yen brings out the “Japan for the Japanese only” voices that would have been clueless if the Aso administration had just rammed through the legislation and quietly distributed the money to taxpayers.

Presumably, foreign taxpayers who fall short of permanent residence will still be entitled to deductions for housing loans or tax rate reductions.

Here is the only report I could find in print; I heard the report on the television originally. Regards, XYZ, November 6, 2008

http://mainichi.jp/select/seiji/news/20081108ddm002010088000c.html

 自民、公明両党は7日、定額給付金について、支給額を1人当たり1万2000円とし、18歳以下の子供と65歳以上の高齢者には8000円を加算する方向で調整に入った。高額所得者を対象外にする基準額については結論を持ち越した。来週半ばまでにまとめる。

 自民党の園田博之政調会長代理と公明党の山口那津男政調会長が7日、国会内で協議した。公明党は15歳未満と65歳以上に1万円を加算する案を示していたが「高校生を持つ家庭が一番お金がかかる」(山口氏)との判断から加算対象のさらなる拡大を主張。自民党側も「総額2兆円の枠内なら可能」と容認した。永住権を持つなど一定の要件を満たす外国人も支給対象とする方針。法務省によると、永住外国人は約87万人(07年末現在)。一方、窓口となる市町村が所得を把握する必要がない「自己申告方式」を含め、支給方法は引き続き検討する。政府側も、総務省が11日に「生活支援定額給付金実施本部」を設置し、支給方法の具体的な検討を本格化させる。【仙石恭】

毎日新聞 2008年11月8日 東京朝刊

ENDS

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog. Here’s a letter from KM at The Community. Interesting read. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Hi Community! Here’s something I thought I should share with you today. First, please have a look at the following article:

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http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20081027p2a00m0na014000c.html

Woman arrested for faking marriage to obtain Japanese citizenship for son

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.

It is the first time a fake marriage arranged to acquire Japanese citizenship for a child has come to light. It is believed that Jiang had been trying to obtain a long-term residence qualification for herself by having her son acquire Japanese citizenship.

“I thought that if my child got Japanese citizenship, then I would be able to keep working in Japan,” police quoted the 27-year-old as saying.

Investigators said that Jiang registered her marriage to a junk dealer from Okaya, Nagano Prefecture, at Okaya City Hall in September 2006, despite having no desire to marry him.

At the time Jiang was eight months’ pregnant. She gave birth in November that year. The child was fathered by a 33-year-old Chinese man, who is now serving time over an immigration law violation. Jiang reportedly paid about 1 million yen to people including a 44-year-old Japanese female broker, who introduced her to a man who could fill the role of husband. The broker also faces charges for making false declarations on official documents.

Jiang got divorced in May 2007. The child is currently being brought up by Jiang’s family in China. If the crime allegations against Jiang are confirmed, then the boy’s family register will be amended and he will lose his Japanese citizenship.

(Mainichi Japan) October 27, 2008

=============================
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).

I first read this article in Japanese, in the paper version of the Asahi paper I get at my house. I found the same article on line:

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

http://www.asahi.com/national/update/1026/TKY200810260169.html

中国人同士の子に日本籍 出産直前、日本人と偽装結婚

2008年10月27日3時2分

 中国人の女が、同居する中国人の男との間にもうけた男児を出産する直前、日本人の男と偽装結婚し、生まれてきた男児に日本国籍を取得させていたことが警視庁の調べでわかった。同庁は、子供に日本国籍を与えることで、自分も日本で働き続けるのが目的だったとみている。

 男児は現在、中国で暮らしている。中国の事情に詳しい同庁の捜査員は「同じような経緯で日本国籍を得た子供が中国国内に確認されている。具体的な数はわからないが多数だ」と証言する。今回、明らかになったケースは氷山の一角とみられ、偽装結婚をめぐる新たな問題が明らかになった形だ。

 組織犯罪対策1課と練馬署などによると、女は姜欣欣被告(27)=電磁的公正証書原本不実記録・同供用罪で起訴。01年10月に留学のため入国し、千葉県の私立大学に通うなどしていた。06年9月、長野県岡谷市の日本人の男(47)=同罪で起訴=との間で、婚姻届を出すだけの偽装結婚をしたとされる。

 姜被告はその2カ月後の06年11月、男児を出産。日本名が付けられ、岡谷市の男の実子として戸籍に記載された。

 しかし、男児は実際は、姜被告が同居していた不法就労ブローカーの陳錐被告(33)=入管法違反罪などで公判中=との間の子。姜被告は偽装結婚後も陳被告と暮らし、出産後は男児と3人で生活。大学へ通いながら東京・秋葉原の免税店などで働き続けていた。姜被告は「偽装結婚は日本で長く働くためだった」と供述したという。姜被告は、男児誕生から約半年後、岡谷市の男と「離婚」した。

 男は警視庁に「姜被告は初めて会ったときからおなかが大きかった」と話したという。男は、偽装結婚を仲介した長野県のブライダル会社から54万円の報酬を受け取っていた。

一方、陳被告も07年2月、長野県箕輪町の女(40)=電磁的公正証書原本不実記録・同供用罪で起訴=と偽装結婚している。

 姜被告は今年4月、出身地の中国・山東省に男児を渡航させ、男児は姜被告の親族に育てられているという。

 法務省によると、姜被告の偽装結婚に伴う罪が確定すれば、手続きを経て男児の戸籍が訂正され、日本国籍を失うことになる。しかし偽装結婚が摘発されず、偽装結婚の事実が法的に認定されない場合は子供の日本国籍は維持される。問題を解決するには摘発を続けるしかないのが現状だ。

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

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. Well, that’s not exactly right — the name of her Chinese husband, the real father of the child, has also been published in the Asahi article. The Japanese Asahi article says that he is being prosecuted for violation of immigration laws. His occupation is listed rather matter-of-factly as “broker for the employment of illegal immigrants.” At any rate, the name of the father is also being dragged through the mud, though he is being prosecuted for an offense that is not directly related to the subject of the article.

Finally, I thought it was interesting that the part of the Nerima police force that deals with organized crime was cited in the article. So, what kind of organized crime is this? Might not the Japanese man (who, again, is being prosecuted) have affiliations with organized crime?

The English article includes the following: “Jiang reportedly paid about 1 million yen to people including a 44-year-old Japanese female broker, who introduced her to a man who could fill the role of husband. The broker also faces charges for making false declarations on official documents.”

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?

ENDS

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog. 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). Arudou Debito in Sapporo

=======================
A brief update: Matt told me that the filming of Murray Wood in Vancouver went well last weekend.
It was a busy three days and a lot of material was shot. Our volunteer assistants were very helpful.

I joined 5 other panelists at the Oyakonet event today. There are a couple photos below. I talked about my experience growing up to show an example of how custody after divorce was handled in the US.

At one point they asked for a show of hands for how many people were first timers to an Oyakonet event. About half of the crowd of 50 put their hands up.

There was also quite a bit of discussion afterward that the 20 minute segment which appeared on NHK (zenkoku) last Tuesday was well received. Many people also pushed attending the Nichibenren (Japanese Bar Association) event this coming Saturday Nov. 15th.

That’s all for now. Warm regards, David Hearn, one director, FROM THE SHADOWS documentary (reachable at ghosty eighty seven [write as numbers, no spaces] AT cablenet DOT ne DOT jp)

This is the video clip from the BBC that has been in the works for a little while now.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7668654.stm

www.fromtheshadowsmovie.com

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

REFERENTIAL LINKS:

Filmmakers tackle contentious issue of parents’ abduction of children to Japan THE JAPAN TIMES, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008

http://www.debito.org/?p=1881

Spirited Away: Japan Won’t Let Abducted Kids Go
American Parents Have Little Hope of Being Reunited With Children Kidnapped to Japan

By RUSSELL GOLDMAN
ABC News (USA) Feb. 26, 2008

http://www.debito.org/?p=1370

Here’s the powerpoint my speech last December 2007 at the upcoming film documentary on this subject, FOR TAKA AND MANA. Glad he’s gotten the attention his horrible case deserves. 

More on this issue on Debito.org here.

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog. Here’s a little something from a friend in Saitama.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Hi Debito. This comes from the book Talk a Lot: Book One. Second Edition.
(c) 2003 David Martin


Published by EFL Press
1-10-19 Kita
Okegawa City
Saitama 363-0011
(048) 772-7724

email: eflpress@gol.com

http://www.eflpress.com

Feedback also to to:

http://www.eflpress.com/efl_press_support.html

I guess this is supposed to be funny, but it’s not. I don’t know what country this foreigner is supposed to be from, but I don’t know of any where a lot of what he is doing would be alowed at school, let alone in a STRICT Japanese one. What really makes me angry though is the damn katakana Japanese. Of course, no non-Japanese can speak Japanese well, so anytime a foreigner speaks, it ALWAYS has to be written in katakana. Also, gaijin are all very scary.

A little more background. At my high school, we get a lot of free books sent to us by publishers. One of my co-workers was looking through one a saw that page and showed it to the rest of the NJ staff. I took it and sent it to you. It’s hard to believe that the author is, I believe, from Hawaii.

On another page of the same book textbook, there is a list of adjectives for people with drawings to go with them. The people look European or Asian with words like skinny, tall, etc…. Out of all of them (there are 20 or so) there is one dark skined person and the word underneath is “black”. That’s a bit odd. I can scan the page on Monday if you’re interested.

Greg in Saitama

UPDATE

Debito,

Here is the scan of the page I mentioned earlier.  I do think it’s a bit strange that “black” is the only adjective used to describe skin colour.  There is no “white” or “brown” or what have you.  Greg

================================
FEEDBACK FROM THE AUTHOR:

From: eflp @hawaii.rr.com
Date: November 10, 2008 2:53:49 PM JST
To: debito@debito.org
Cc: eflpress@gol.com
Subject: Re: Fwd: SUPPORT FORM
Mr. Debito,

Thank you for your email regarding the “stereotype” in Talk a Lot,
Book 1. I have had a look at your website and read the comments.
I want to explain this, not to defend myself or my actions but
just so you know. First of all, it’s NOT meant to be a stereotype
in any way whatsoever. Foreigners who live in Japan are not like this,
and everyone knows it. It’s done comically like this and is a gross
overexageration in order to motivate students to use a normally
dull grammar points.

For your information, very few people, students nor teachers have been
offended by this. Yes, if you think too hard and are too critical, it may
offend someone. Please relax, enjoy life and stop thinking too much.
Look at it in a different light and you may not be so upset. Also, keep in
mind that I, myself, am a foreigner and am poking fun at myself so
why would it be offensive. Offensive to whom?

By the way, what does it matter where I live now? It seems that you are
trying to stir up trouble for no reason. I do not live in Hawaii, by the way,
so your information is wrong.

Thank you and I hope I have not offended you but I am a bit upset at
your brusque style of writing.

Best Regards,

David Martin
EFL Press

FOLLOWUP EMAIL POST FROM THE AUTHOR:

From: eflp @hawaii.rr.com
Date: November 10, 2008 7:56:00 PM JST
To: debito@debito.org
Cc: eflpress@gol.com
Subject: Re: Fwd: SUPPORT FORM

Mr. Debito,

Hello again. I forgot to mention that we do have a note in the Teacher’s Guide
for the activity which you mentioned. This is what is written there:

Page 62, The Strange Foreigner

This scene is obviously fantasy. It is exaggerated to increase student interest in an otherwise dull (but useful) grammar point.

I put this note just in case a few people might think we were trying to look down on
or stereotype foreigners, which is not the case.

Thank you,

David Martin
EFL Press

ARUDOU DEBITO REPLIES
— Thanks for the replies, Mr Martin. I am sorry to have gotten your location (Hawaii) wrong (your IP indicates you are in Thailand). I am also sorry that you find my brusque style of writing “upsetting”. I find it a tad amazing how you can be upset by brusquely-worded letter of complaint (you might consider taking your own advice, and “look at it in a different light and you may not be so upset”, but never mind), yet have a thick skin regarding something put in a textbook destined for impressionable young people, portraying “gaijin” as people carrying weapons, drinking while driving, and being overtly “scary” and “strange”. I guess there’s no accounting for taste. Or for editorial rectitude when you’re on the publishing and profiting end, as opposed to the millions of “gaijin” being portrayed in proxy… Anyway, thanks for your replies. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

FURTHER REPLY FROM MR MARTIN: 

From:   eflp@hawaii.rr.com
Subject: infringement of copyright on your website
Date: November 13, 2008 11:01:57 PM JST
To:   debito@debito.org
Cc:   eflpress@gol.com
 
Hi again,

I have nothing against you including criticisms of my book, Talk a Lot,
Book One on your website. That is up to you and is perfectly fine and 
perfectly legal. But I was shocked when I first had a look at your website
to find you had allowed the posting of two pages from my book which had
been scanned. This is clearly an infringement of copyright since you have
not asked for our permission. Please take these two pages off of your
website as soon as possible!

I do not ask you to do this because of the possible damage you are causing 
us. That is not the reason at all. I am asking you to do this for two reasons:

1. It’s illegal and thus bothers me.
2. We, as a rule, do not put PDFs or any images of our books on our website
because we want teachers to see our books as a whole and not just a part
because we feel they will be convinced to use our books if they see the whole book.
 
I hope you understand my thinking on this and will take them off. The criticism can
go on and you can even explain in detail what is on those two pages if you want.
I’m not against that at all..but you cannot legally copy pages from a book and 
post them without prior written permission.

Cheers, David Martin EFL Press

– Mr Martin, I suggest you do some research on Japanese laws governing Fair Use.

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog. 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 who came close, particularly a line of foreign baseball players, was stopped because they were gaijin. Even 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. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

More on discrimination against NJ in the Kokutai here.

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

Equaling Oh’s HR record proved difficult

Special to The Japan Times, Friday, Oct. 31, 2008

Third in a three-part series

PART I — Devoted to the game: Looking back at Oh’s career
PART II — Oh’s career sparkled with achievements as player, manager

News photo
Back in the day: Sadaharu Oh, Hank Aaron and CBS-TV announcer Brent Musburger are seen at an exhibition home run contest held by the two prodigious sluggers on Nov. 2, 1974, at Tokyo’s Korakuen Stadium. Aaron won 10-9. (C) STARS AND STRIPES

The one big black mark on Sadaharu Oh’s reputation was, of course, the unsportsmanlike behavior of the pitchers on his team whenever foreign batsmen threatened his single season home run record of 55.

The phenomenon had first surfaced in 1985, when American Randy Bass playing for the Hanshin Tigers, who went into the last game of the season — against the Oh-managed Giants at Korakuen Stadium — with 54 home runs.

Bass was walked intentionally four times on four straight pitches and would have been walked a fifth, had he not reached out and poked a pitch far outside the plate into the outfield.

Oh denied ordering his pitchers to walk Bass, but Keith Comstock, an American pitcher for Yomiuri reported afterward that a certain Giants coach imposed a fine of $1,000 for every strike Giants pitchers threw to Bass.

A subsequent investigation by the magazine Takarajima concluded that the instructions had probably originated in the Giants front office, which wanted the home run record kept in the Giants organization.

Except for an editorial in the Yomiuri Shimbun’s archrival, the Asahi, demanding to know why Oh did not run out to the mound and order his pitchers to throw strikes, the media remained silent, as did then-NPB commissioner Takeso Shimoda, who had often stated his belief that the Japanese game would never be considered first class as long as there were former MLB bench-warmers starring on Japanese teams.

Of course, the reality was more complex. There were many imports who were in fact gifted hitters, but were kept out of big league lineups by other shortcomings in their game or by bad luck — simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, Shimoda and like-minded critics failed to see such shades of gray.

A replay of the Bass episode came during the 2001 season. American Tuffy Rhodes, playing for the Kintetsu Buffaloes, threatened Oh’s record.

With several games left in the season, Rhodes hit the 55 mark. But during a late season weekend series in Fukuoka, pitchers on the Hawks refused to throw strikes to Rhodes and catcher Kenji Johjima could be seen grinning during the walks.

Again Oh denied any involvement in their actions and Hawks battery coach Yoshiharu Wakana admitted the pitchers had acted on his orders.

“It would be distasteful to see a foreign player break Oh’s record,” he told reporters.

The NPB commissioner on watch, Hiromori Kawashima, denounced his behavior as “unsportsmanlike,” and there was some outcry from the media.

However, this did not help Rhodes, who went homerless the rest of the way. Rhodes remained convinced that there was a “Code Red” that kicked into action whenever a foreign player did too well.

A second replay occurred in 2002, when Venezuelan Alex Cabrera also hit 55 home runs, tying Oh (and Rhodes) with five games left to play in the season. Oh commanded his pitchers not to repeat their behavior of the previous year, but, not surprisingly, most of them ignored him. There was more condemnation from the public, but, curiously, not from Oh, who simply shrugged and said, “If you’re going to break the record, you should do it by more than one. Do it by a lot.”

Such behavior led an ESPN critic to call Oh’s record “one of the phoniest in baseball.”

In Oh’s defense, there was probably nothing he could have done to prevent his pitchers from acting as they did. Feelings about “gaijin” aside, it was (and still is) common practice for teams to take such action to protect a teammate’s record or title.

In all three assaults on Oh’s record, the respective front offices had a decided interest in the outcome. Oh’s 55 homers was a Yomiuri record, while executives with the Hawks believed Oh’s status as a record-holder brought the organization favorable PR.

No pitcher on any of Oh’s teams wanted to be the one who gave up the homer that cost Oh that particular spot in the record books.

Finally, there was the question of Oh’s own personality. He was a product of his life experiences and his father’s life experiences as a member of a minority group in Japan. He surely knew better than to make waves and to embarrass the executive suits that had so much invested in him.

Still, amid all the fuss about protectionism in baseball, it is noteworthy that no one in the Japanese game ever sees fit to mention the fact that Oh hit most of his home runs using rock hard, custom-made compressed bats.

A batter using a compressed bat, it was said, could propel a ball farther than he can with an ordinary bat. Compressed bats were illegal in the MLB when Oh was playing in Japan, and were outlawed by the NPB in 1982 after Oh retired, but well before Bass, Rhodes and Cabrera had Japan visas stamped into their passports.

Oh’s finest hour as a manager was perhaps his performance in the 2006 inaugural WBC. He had passed his 65th birthday and his age was starting to show. Moreover, he was not in the best of health, and was months away from a bout with cancer that would spare his life but cause a rearrangement of his digestive system.

News photo
Thanks for the memories: Sadaharu Oh has left a lasting impact during his 50 years in baseball. His 868 career home runs is a record that may never be surpassed in Japan. AP PHOT

The NPB owners, after long negotiations, had agreed to participate in the tourney but the NPB Players Association refused to cooperate. They were upset over the March schedule which they felt would interfere with their spring training.

Another thing that bothered them was that they had been completely left out of the loop in the discussions leading up to the WBC, both by the NPB owners and the American organizers of the event.

The NPB owners, with typical arrogance, had not bothered to inform the players of what had been going on, much less seek their consent or consult with them about the terms of participation in the WBC, until long after the tournament was announced.

More important, the players were skeptical of the event itself. They did not particularly think it was a worthy use of their time.

To break the impasse, senior executives from Yomiuri (which had agreed to sponsor the Asian round) prevailed upon Sadaharu Oh to manage the team, hoping that the presence of one of the most revered names in Japanese baseball history could somehow change the dynamic. Their first choice, Shigeo Nagashima (naturally), was not available due to the aftereffects of his stroke.

Oh had his own (secret) misgivings about the event, but true to his agreeable nature, finally agreed to take part. “I’ll do it for the welfare of Japanese baseball,” Oh had said a well-publicized remark, “I’ll do it for the future. For 50 years from now.”

Ichiro Suzuki, among others, was, initially, not impressed.

“What difference does it make if some old guy is going to manage the team?” he reportedly told acquaintances, “That doesn’t make it a real event.”

But the “old guy” was persistent. He threw himself into the job with typical perseverance. His own story was a tale of continued perseverance and triumph over personal tragedy.

Oh began a courtship of Ichiro and Hideki Matsui and he did it with the grace and diplomacy that was typical of him. He worked very hard to persuade them individually how important it was that Japan participate, that they participate.

Japan’s greatest slugger approached them as if they would be doing him a personal favor if they joined the team. In the end, Ichiro agreed to play, although Matsui felt too strong an obligation to the Yankees to leave spring camp.

Oh drove his players hard and the cool, aloof Ichiro somehow magically transformed into a fiery leader, exhorting his team to greater effort in practice and in the actual competition.

Japan went on to win the tourney — despite its three defeats overall — on a succession of steadily improving performances and a managerial strategy which combined caution with aggression.

The final, a 10-6 triumph over Cuba played at Petco Park in San Diego, riveted the nation. It was watched by one out of every two Japanese, a total audience of roughly 60 million people, which made it one of the most watched sporting events in the history of Japan.

It ignited an enormous national cheer back home. It was an ironic ending for a team that had not wanted to participate in the first place.

With the WBC victory, Oh was now more popular than he had ever been and it was a fitting cap to his career. Yet in a survey conducted by Sangyo Noritsu University to determine the “Boss of the Decade” the following year, Oh finished well behind Nagashima in the voting, despite having a higher lifetime winning percentage, at the time.

Somehow the results were not surprising.

Oh had fought against adversity his whole life, it seemed. As a youth, he had been banned from participating in an important national tournament because he was not a Japanese citizen, even though he was the best player on his team.

As a pro, he had to cede the spotlight to the more popular, pure-blooded Nagashima, despite the fact that he was arguably the best player in baseball during the Giants glory years, and as Giants manager had been faced with a team that did not wholeheartedly welcome his leadership.

Oh’s years with the Hawks, successful as they were, were marred by other difficulties. Among them was the premature death, in 2002, of his wife Kyoko, who succumbed to stomach cancer. That was followed by the inexplicable theft of her ashes from the family graveyard, never to be retrieved.

And then came Oh’s own bout with stomach cancer. In the middle of the 2006 season, Oh underwent laparoscopic surgery in which his cancerous stomach was completely removed.

But the thing about Oh is that you never, ever heard him complain — about anything. He just sucked up whatever misfortunes life dealt to him and went on to the next challenge. He always tried to look at the bright side.

When he returned to manage the Hawks in 2007, several kilograms lighter and looking, as one reporter put it, “like an underfed jockey,” he acted as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do.

“Yes, I don’t have a stomach anymore,” he said, the last time I saw him, in the fall of 2007 when he appeared at a Foreign Sportswriters of Japan event to pick up a Lifetime Achievement Award, “but now I can eat as much chocolate as I want.”

However, the Hawks fell further out of contention in that ’07 season and were eliminated in the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

In 2008, the Hawks dropped into last place and Oh announced his resignation and his retirement from field managing. He referenced ill health, but also took responsibility for the team’s failure to win another championship. “Managers should not stay that long in one place,” he said.

The announcement of his retirement prompted a wave of tributes from the prime minister’s office on down, as well as a special newspaper editions and TV reports lauding his accomplishments.

People seemed to sense that with Oh’s retirement they had lost something more than just a baseball hero, that they had lost a connection to an era in Japan where the values of hard work, selflessness, and responsibility mattered a lot more than they do now.

Professor Saito summed it up when he eulogized Oh in an interview with NHK. “We are living in an era of instant gratification,” he said, “People these days want everything now and they give in too easily to adversity. But not Oh. He has shown us what the true meaning of ‘doryoku’ is.”

Johjima had flown back from the States to attend Oh’s farewell game on Oct. 7, 2008.

“Oh was a great human being,” he said when it was all over, “He was special, as a player, as a manager, as a man. He was a baseball father figure to me. It was a huge honor to play for him.”

ENDS

PART I — Devoted to the game: Looking back at Oh’s career
PART II — Oh’s career sparkled with achievements as player, manager

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog. This was a fast turnaround. I got a call last night during dinner for some quotes from the AFP, and less than four hours later it’s up on the Net. About my reactions to the Obama election. The reporter wanted reactions from Americans abroad, so I asked if it would be okay to speak as a former American. Even better, she said.

RANT ALERT, but it’s about time:  Over the course of a twenty-minute conversation I talked inter alia about the shame I felt as America became the conservatory of Neoconism.  As the sole superpower deciding to remake the world in its own (ignorant) image, it betrayed its ideals through renditioning, signing statements, torture memos and waterboarding, Guantanamo, wiretapping, a widening gap between rich and poor and a net decline in incomes for the nation’s poor, fingerprinting foreigners and denying them habeas corpus, two wars built on lies and the profit motive that are ultimately bankrupting the country all over again, topped off by a worldwide financial crisis resulting from this administration’s misbegotten policies. And so on. How I no longer felt like an American anymore and was happy to have given up my affiliation to it. More in my next column. Here’s hoping Obama restores America’s image to the world. The reporter essentially took my first and last quotes and took away the word “former” from “the American side of me”.

Anyway, it’s an article worth writing as these reactions matter. Good riddance Bush, in all likelihood (given the unprecedented damage done to the country at home and millions of people abroad) America’s worst president in history.  I doubt I am far from alone in that appraisal from other people with American roots overseas.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Supporters of US President-elect Barack Obama react while watching results on TV during in Geneva
 

Full coverage »

Obama win injects a Cool America factor

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’.”

Elena Fuetsch, a US student in Russia, learned about Obama’s victory on an overnight train from St. Petersburg to Moscow and was congratulated by a group of French students.

“One of them told me: ‘I never thought I would be telling this to an American, but congratulations on your president. We’re very proud of you’,” Fuetsch recalled.

“Many of us are still in somewhat pinch me mode,” said Roland Pearson, spokesman for the Johannesburg-based volunteer organisation Americans in Africa for Obama.

“I was out today shopping and a gentleman asked me whether I was American and I said yes. He said ‘oh, you must be celebrating along with all the rest of us’. No one said that in 2000 and no one said that in 2004.”

Eric Hansen, who has lived in Germany for more than 20 years and written several books on German culture from the US perspective, said Europeans “have waited just as much as Americans have waited to be able to change their opinions about America.

“I think that this old dream of an idealised America, this myth, is something that people need. It is allowed now, it is permissable to have it again.”

But while there was a sense of immediate common joy, Pearson, in Johannesburg and other expatriates, said global perceptions of the United States would take time to change after eight years under President George W. Bush.

“It’s only been 48 hours. Transforming a world view takes a little bit longer than that,” said Pearson. “Right now people are working on the level of emotion.”

Scott Saarlas, a 45-year-old American who now lives in Ethiopia, said: “There will be a lot of Americans who’ll feel more accepted and not be embarrassed to say that they are Americans in front of foreigners.

“I’d like to hope that it will be a lot easier now for us to travel overseas, but it’s too early to say at the moment.”

Jackie P. Chan, an American from San Francisco working in Hong Kong for an investment group, said Obama’s victory would be the first step to changing perceptions.

“We will have to see how the US government runs once Obama and the newly elected Democratic majority starts working in January,” she said.

“I think I will be proud to be American again when we pull out of the Middle East and stop spending billions a year of taxpayers’ money; when we develop better relationships with other countries based on shared ideals and values, and not interests like oil, and when we become more open-minded about the world and less US-centric.”

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.

ENDS

Related News

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 31, 2008

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi all. Happy Hallowe’en. Off again this weekend speaking, so let’s get this off to your inboxes:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 31, 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

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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
Freely forwardable

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

1) Japan Focus runs E translation of Asahi Oct 5 2008 article on discrimination in Japan

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 countriesthere is almost no example of foreigners being shut out like this.” Interestingly, the Asahi did not translate the article for its foreign edition…”

http://www.japanfocus.org/_The_Asahi_Shimbun-Japan_s_Entrenched_Discrimination_Toward_Foreigners

http://www.debito.org/?p=1971

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=1972

And of course, don’t forget this, from Debito.org too

Population rises 1st time in 3 years
The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug 1, 2008

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20080801TDY01306.htm

The nation’s population grew for the first time in three years to 127,066,178 in the year to March 31, up 12,707 from a year earlier, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said Thursday.

The figure was based on resident registrations at municipal government offices and does not include foreign residents…
http://www.debito.org/?p=1860

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

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

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”

The unemployment rate is a very political thing in Japan, as the GOJ 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!
http://www.debito.org/?p=1959

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4) SR on Shounan Shinkin Bank in Chigasaki, refuses bank accounts to NJ who can’t read and speak Japanese

Language ability is being increasingly used by more types of businesses nationwide as a means to refuse NJ service. As we saw last Newsletter, insurance agencies (such as AXA Direct Insurance, http://www.debito.org/?p=1951) 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” )…

We contacted the Financial Service Agency 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 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…
http://www.debito.org/?p=1978

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5) MX on “Gaijin” harassment in Tokyo elementary school

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 “Gaijin da! Gaijin ga iru!” 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…”
http://www.debito.org/?p=1970

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

All for now. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 31, 2008 ENDS

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog.  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.  Well done.  Debito in Sapporo

(click on image to expand in browser)

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog.  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!  Thanks.  Arudou Debito back in Sapporo

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REWRITTEN PUBLISHED VERSION:

News photo
CHRIS McKENZIE ILLUSTRATION

Truth: a delicate matter of give and take

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20081104ad.html

justbecauseicon.jpg

Every activist and essayist must deal with a singular phenomenon when addressing the public: just how “truthful” one should be.

I’m not talking about a choice between lying or “truthing”; I’m talking about just how much truth one should inject into the message. Because, sadly, there’s only so much truth a reader can take all at once.

I call it a matter of “Truth Octane.” Too much truth and your audience switches off, becoming reflexive instead of reflective. Too little and you get platitudinous warm-fuzzy clouds of fog, and no conclusions drawn.

Consider some activism with a high Truth Octane: Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11,” irrefutably linking the George W. Bush administration to oil interests, and demonstrating a profit motive behind the Iraq war; Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” conclusively arguing that global warming is man-made and damaging; Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”; “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Or even war photojournalism showing suffering, carnage, and death, bringing “the awful truth” into our living rooms.

All are definitive attempts to bring obscured information to light. But again — as the nuance of “the awful truth” implies — too high a Truth Octane and people reject it (Bush got re-elected; Gore had been spinning his wheels until recently, etc.). It’s not just because geopolitics, the environment and war are complicated topics. It works like this:

When advocates come on too strong with their claims, people naturally express a healthy doubt. After all, readers haven’t thought through everything yet to the point that they can agree completely. However, opponents capitalize on that doubt, say “the subject is controversial,” “the presenter is partisan” or “the viewpoint is not fair or balanced,” and dilute down the Octane.

The easiest example to illustrate this with is photojournalism. Shocking images of death and destruction have a very high Truth Octane — so high, the Vietnam War demonstrated, that they can change minds about an entire war. So, even though people intrinsically know that war involves killing and mutilation, it gets censored. People just don’t want to see it, especially if their government is in any way implicated. It would mean people confronting their own paradigms, realizing their support for the war may have been a mistake. So we acquiesce in the censorship to escape those qualms.

But consider a less extreme example. Whenever I point out issues of racial discrimination to the media, even the sharpest reporter dulls his analytical scalpel: “Of course we know the issue is one of race. But our editor and readership might not. So we’ll have to render it as discrimination by nationality or appearance (gaiken).” Or worse yet, portray it as a “cultural misunderstanding” — which means it is not even discrimination anymore. Again, we don’t want to challenge the common paradigm: “Racial discrimination happens in other countries, not Japan.” It’s too much to take.

So how does an activist deal with a high Truth Octane? One way is to dilute it yourself by offering caveats and disclaimers, such as “Discrimination is everywhere, Japan is not unique,” or “I’m not bashing Japan.” That is, if you don’t mind wasting column space on platitudes, and debasing your own argument.

Another way is to use satire; show insight through various contrasts, ironies, metaphors, and parables. Consider examples such as Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” some of the best episodes of “South Park” or “The Daily Show” — even the recent parodies of American political figures on “Saturday Night Live.” Comedy allows the Truth Octane to enter the psyche unadulterated, aided by the spoonful of sugar that is laughter.

Alas, in Japan political satire is in relatively short supply, especially on broadcast media. This is, after all, a country where sarcasm and irony are rarely seen as forms of humor. That means one less tool for activists to employ. You have to be entertaining while biting, a rare skill.

What can be done? Raise Truth Octane in small doses, and bring people along slowly. History indicates that the most foresighted people, from revolutionary scientists to activists you find on the faces of coins, persisted for years with their assertions and were subject to skepticism, rebuke, even the threat of violence for challenging the status quo.

In the end many prevailed, as they weaned increasing numbers of people onto a stronger Truth Octane. Finally there was a tipping point, then a society-wide paradigm shift. Old ideas that were once taken for granted (such as slavery, lack of universal suffrage, and anti-miscegenation laws) were relegated to the dustbin of history.

That’s how it starts — by speaking truth to power and to the public. How “much” truth you speak is completely a matter of timing. But those who can master their Truth Octane effectively can change the world.

———————————

Debito Arudou is a coauthor of the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants.” Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments tocommunity@japantimes.co.jp.

=============================================
ORIGINAL VERSION:
TRUTH OCTANE AND THE DILUTION OF DEBATE

By Arudou Debito
Column 9 for the Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column
For publication Tuesday, November 4, 2008
DRAFT FOURTEEN

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum. The public debate forum, that is: I realized that when essay writing, even if one grounds their assertions in confirmed and researched sources, it makes no difference. Some people don’t want to hear the truth anyway.

It’s too good to be true. It’s an inconvenient truth. Or because not enough people believe it, it’s unrealistic or idealistic.

I call this phenomenon a matter of “Truth Octane”. Too high an “octane” (i.e. too much “truth” all at once) and people shut down or get reactionary, becoming reflexive instead of reflective. Too low an octane, and you wind up with snoozy platitudes and warm-fuzzy touchy-feely clouds of fog. It’s “muzukashii”, too difficult an issue to draw conclusions about. Down your beer and let it go. Accept the status quo.

“Muzukashii” dilutes debate, making dullards of insightful people. For example, I’ve heard sharp reporters say, “Of course we know you’re talking about racial discrimination. But our editors or readers won’t see it that way.” So their article blurs the issue into “discrimination by nationality”, “foreign appearance” (gaiken) — or, most foggy of all, “cultural misunderstandings” (meaning it’s not even discrimination anymore). Calling the issue one of “race” is too much “truth” for people to take.

But Truth Octane has a political dimension. Consider this dynamic:

If somebody comes on too strong with their assertions (I plead guilty), the reflex is to express doubt. Complex issues have a lot of moving parts to take into account, so even the strongest adherent will thoughtfully say, “Well, I agree with most of that.” They haven’t contemplated or researched the issue enough to agree completely right now.

Problem is, opponents capitalize on this healthy doubt, leveraging near-agreement into incredulity. Unarticulated criticisms morph into “someone out there disagrees”, and suddenly “this issue is controversial”. Disagreements then gain currency because “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”, and a 90% Truth Octane gets ratcheted down to 50%.

So, for a quiet life, cautious proponents avoid the ratcheters by debasing their own Truth Octane in advance. They offer mitigators like, “Yes, discrimination exists in other countries.” (So that justifies people doing it?) Or “Japan’s an island society with a history closed to the outside world.” (Therefore after 150 years Japan still can’t help itself? How belittling.) And the ultimate platitude: “I’m not bashing Japan; I like it.” (Yes, that’s why we trying to improve things through criticism; if we didn’t care, we wouldn’t bother.) De rigueur disclaimers waste precious column space.

Moreover, one’s “Truth-Octane Reputation” affects future debate. Those used to straightforwardness in their pundits want more, especially when experiences make them receptive to the message. Others just don’t want another lecture from that know-it-all essayist, so they criticize beyond arguments made (i.e. “this guy is a jerk”). Ad hominem is the ultimate resort for someone who can’t think past platitude and personal animus.

Unfortunately, a quiet life of platitudes has a built-in trap: When opponents actually do take a stand on an issue, they often get stuck on the wrong side. Especially if, judgment clouded by emotion, they haven’t reasoned through all angles.

Again, take the issue of racial discrimination. There is history galore demonstrating that societies with unchecked and unredressed social injustice end up with birth-determined class-ridden societies. Disgruntled people barred from reaching their personal potential become the source of revolutionary movements and repressive governments. It’s misery for multitudes, and unsustainable.

Yet people still try to justify racial discrimination in Japan through, say, history, culture (or cultural imperialism on the essayist’s part), birthright, exceptionalism, even a purported “right to discriminate” itself as a matter of personal choice. They make arguments long debunked elsewhere, often in societies where they themselves experienced the fruits of antidiscrimination movements. When it comes to human rights in Japan, it seems we have to “reinvent the wheel”, and deal with the misology of the double standard.

Even when the passage of time shows opponents backed the bad side of history, they cannot admit they were wrong. That’s just too much truth to take. So they decamp into ideological cliques, long for the good old days, and watch as society sees sense and deposits them on the dustbin of history.

It’s an axiomatic truth: People should be nice to each other. Any kindergartner knows that. And on a societal level, that includes treating each other equally and fairly. It all boils down to that.

That’s 100% Truth Octane, and you can’t argue against it. Yet people do. Pity.

750 WORDS
ENDS

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog.  Sorry to be so late in getting this out to you.  My hotel last night didn’t have internet access!  (Yes, a hotel in Shinjuku without it!)  So I’m writing you from an Ikebukuro Internet cafe after a meeting with Kodansha this morning…

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!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog. Addendum to yesterday’s entry, complete with little needles in the article trying to poke holes in the NJ case… Wonder where Mr Onuki got the figure of 90%.  Debito in Tokyo, listening to Dalai Lama speech at FCCJ.

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

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

(Mainichi Japan) November 1, 2008

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/archive/news/2008/11/01/20081101p2a00m0na007000c.html

Japanese women from collapsed international marriages who bring their children to Japan without their partner’s consent are facing charges of abduction — an issue that has highlighted a convention covering international child abduction.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction has been signed by about 80 countries, including in Europe and the United States. Under the convention, it is illegal for one parent to take a child away from his or her country or residence without first settling issues such as custody and visitation rights.

Signatory countries have a responsibility to return children who have unilaterally been taken out of the country by one of their parents. (There are some exceptions, such as when the child refuses to go back.) Japan, however, has not signed the convention, so this rule of returning the child does not apply. This has raised strong dissatisfaction among foreigners who cannot see their children because they have been taken to Japan.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice are giving favorable consideration to signing the convention, but the opinions of experts are split.

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.

Mikiko Otani, a lawyer who specializes in family law, supports Japan participating in the convention. The first reason she gives is a connection with the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. The U.N. committee that monitors how the Convention on the Rights of the Child is implemented advises each country to ratify the Hague convention as a pact that is integrated with the convention on child rights.

Otani adds that joining the convention does not provide only disadvantages. There are now cases in which former foreign husbands refuse to let their child see their mother, saying that if they let their child go to Japan, he or she won’t come back. There are also cases of mothers setting aside a security deposit of 100,000 dollars (about 10 million yen) to bring their children over to Japan.

When couples divorce in Japan, only one side has custody rights, and the family view that the child should be handed over to the mother is prevalent. Under the Hague convention, however, joint custody is maintained as long as domestic violence is not involved, and the party not living with the children has visitation rights. This stance shakes up the Japanese view of the family, but I think Japan should join the convention.

There are the reasons given by Otani, but in addition to that, the shape of Japanese society and families is changing largely. For example, the rate of men who are taking child-care leave is still at a low level but increasing, figures by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare show. Division of housework and child-rearing between the husband and wife is natural. It is not an age in which one parent takes complete responsibility for a child.

If children in international marriages can freely go between the two countries of their mother and father, their lives will surely be greatly enriched. (By Megumi Nishikawa, Expert Senior Writer)

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

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=西川恵

毎日新聞 2008年11月1日 東京朝刊

http://mainichi.jp/select/world/news/20081101ddm007070005000c.html

 先週に続き、国際結婚が破綻(はたん)した日本女性が、子どもを一方的に日本に連れ帰ることが誘拐罪に当たる話である。

 米欧など約80カ国が締約国になっている「国際的な子の奪取の民事面に関する条約」(ハーグ条約)。同条約では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を居住国から連れ出すことを不法とする。

 したがって締約国の間では、受け入れ国は連れ出された子どもを元の居住国に戻す義務がある(子どもが拒んでいる時など例外規定はある)。しかし同条約の締約国でない日本には適用されず、子に会えない外国人の不満は強い。外務、法務両省は加盟を前向きに検討しているが、専門家の見解は分かれている。

 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。

 家族法が専門の大谷美紀子弁護士は加盟支持だ。第一の理由は、日本も加盟する「子どもの権利条約」との関連。同条約の実施状況を審査する国連の委員会は、ハーグ条約を「子どもの権利条約」と一体のものとして批准を各国に勧告している。

 第二は、加盟は不利益ばかりでないこと。日本がハーグ条約に加盟していないため、外国人の元の夫が「日本に子どもを行かせたら帰って来ない」と、母子の面会を拒否する例もある。10万ドル(約1000万円)の保証金を供託して、子どもを呼び寄せる母親もいる。

 日本は離婚すると親権は一方にしかなく、「子供は母親が引き取る」との家族観が根強い。一方、ハーグ条約ではDVなどでない限り共同で子供の監護権(日本の親権に相当)を保持、同居しない方に面会権がある。日本の家族観を揺すぶるものだが、私はハーグ条約に加盟すべきだと思う。

 大谷弁護士の挙げた理由もそうだが、日本の社会自体、家族の在りようが大きく変わってきていることだ。例えば男性の育児休業取得率は、依然、低水準だが上昇しており(厚生労働省)、男女の家事・育児分担は当たり前。一方が子を囲い込む時代ではないからだ。

 父母の二つの国を行き来できるようになれば、子供の人生はこの上なく豊かなものとなるに違いない。(専門編集委員)

毎日新聞 2008年11月1日 東京朝刊

Mainichi: Collapsed international marriages raise child abduction issue

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

HI Blog.  This issue is increasingly garnering attention.  Good.  Debito in haste in Tokyo, speaking at JALT in two hours.

Collapsed international marriages raise child abduction issue

(Mainichi Japan) October 25, 2008, Courtesy of MS

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20081025p2a00m0na009000c.html

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.

In March this year, the Canadian Embassy in Japan held a symposium on the child abduction convention that was attended by Canadian and U.S. government officials. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also commented on the issue when he came to Japan during the July G8 summit. Some diplomatic officials have criticized Japan, saying that Japan, while criticizing North Korea’s abductions, it is carrying out abductions itself.

Among the Japanese women who have come back to Japan with their children, there are apparently some who have fled due to violence from their husbands. In other cases they have apparently concluded that they would not be able to win court custody lawsuits because they don’t know much about the other country and can’t speak the language well. There are also many who don’t realize that their actions constitute child abduction under the convention, and that they risk the same consequences as in the case in Sweden.

Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry figures show that the number of international marriages climbed from 27,700 in 2005 to 44,700 in 2006, about 1.6 times more. At the same time, divorces increased from 7,990 to 17,100 — more than doubling.

Considering that bringing children to Japan without confirming custody could constitute abduction, the Foreign Ministry has started to consider informing Japanese in international marriages through diplomatic establishments abroad. (By Megumi Nishikawa, Expert Senior Writer)

(Mainichi Japan) October 25, 2008

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

グローバル・アイ:国際結婚と子の親権 連れ帰れば「幼児誘拐罪」=西川恵

毎日新聞 2008年10月25日 東京朝刊

http://mainichi.jp/select/world/news/20081025ddm007070149000c.html

 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。

 日本の女性が親権、さらには面会権などを決めないまま帰国する背景には、夫の暴力に耐えられず逃げ帰ったケースや、現地に疎く、言葉が通じず、裁判で親権を争っても認めてもらえないだろうとの判断などがあるようだ。ただ子どもを連れ帰ることがハーグ条約締約国では幼児誘拐にあたることを知らない人が多く、先のA子さんのようなリスクが常にある。

 しかも国際結婚は05年の2万7700件から06年に4万4700件と1・6倍増の一方、離婚は7990件から1万7100件と2・1倍に急増している(厚生労働省)。

 こうした実態を踏まえ、外務省は親権などを決めないまま子どもを連れ帰ることは誘拐罪になり得ると、在外公館を通して注意喚起することを検討し始めた。またハーグ条約加盟も検討しているが、専門家の間でどのような議論があるか次回に書く。(専門編集委員)

毎日新聞 2008年10月25日 東京朝刊

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog.  If people want to become world leaders, it’s only natural that they will have their past investigated.  But according to the article below which came out yesterday in the Japan Times, PM Aso hasn’t exactly come clean about his family’s wartime past using forced labor.  Fascinating article follows from, where else, the Japan Times Zeit Gist Column.  Arudou Debito in Tokyo

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

The Japan Times, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008

THE ZEIT GIST

 

 

WWII forced labor issue dogs Aso, Japanese firms

By WILLIAM UNDERWOOD
Special to The 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.

 

News photo
Labor pains: Prime Minister Taro Aso was president of Aso Cement Co., the successor firm to Aso Mining, in the 1970s. Hundreds of Allied POWs and thousands of Koreans conscripts were forced to work for the firm during the war. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO

 

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.

Taro Aso was president of Aso Cement Co., the successor firm to Aso Mining, during the 1970s and oversaw publication of a 1,000-page corporate history that omitted all mention of Allied POWs. Aso’s father headed Aso Mining during the war. The family’s business empire is known as Aso Group today and is run by Aso’s younger brother, with the prime minister’s wife serving on the board of directors. The company has never commented on the POW issue, nor provided information about Aso Mining’s Korean workforce despite requests from the South Korean government.

Newspapers in Australia and the United Kingdom vigorously reported Aso Mining’s use of POWs in 2006. But with Aso then at its helm, Japan’s Foreign Ministry cast doubt on the overseas media accounts and challenged journalists to provide evidence.

Last year The Japan Times described how, in early 1946, the Japanese government presented Allied war crimes investigators with the Aso Company Report, detailing living and working conditions for the 300 prisoners. Yet Foreign Minister Aso continued to sidestep the POW controversy even after his office was provided with a copy of the report, which is written on Aso Mining stationery and bears company seals.

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.

Some 700,000 Korean civilians — including teenage girls — were brought to Japan to work for private firms through various means of coercion. Hundreds of thousands of other Koreans were forced to perform harsh labor elsewhere in Japan’s empire or conscripted into the Japanese military.

South Korea’s 85-member Truth Commission on Forced Mobilization Under Japanese Imperialism began work in 2005. Legislation passed last year will provide national payments of up to $20,000 to former military and civilian conscripts and family members. The measure also calls for individually tailored compensation based on unpaid wages, pension contributions and related benefits owed to Korean workers but now held by the Bank of Japan.

Seoul needs Japanese cooperation in the form of name rosters and details about the BOJ financial deposits in order to fully implement its compensation plan. Repatriating the hundreds of sets of Korean remains currently stored in Japan, many of them belonging to military and civilian conscripts killed during the war, is another key aim of ongoing reparations work. Company records would greatly aid the process of identifying remains that have been located in temples and municipal charnel houses around the country.

The Japanese government has been cooperating fitfully on “humanitarian grounds” in the case of military conscription, supplying Korean officials with some wartime records and returning the remains of 101 Korean soldiers to Seoul last January. But the Japanese side is mostly stonewalling on civilian conscripts like those at Aso Mining.

Japanese officials contend, rather implausibly, that they do not know how many Korean civilians were conscripted or how many died in the custody of private companies because the state was never directly involved. South Korea’s truth commission criticized Aso Group and Foreign Minister Aso in 2005 for failing to supply information.

“I have no intention to explain,” Japan’s chief diplomat told a Japanese reporter at the time. Earlier this month, Diet member Shokichi Kina asked Prime Minister Aso whether any data about Aso Mining was ever given to South Korea. Aso replied that his administration will not disclose how individual corporations have responded to Korean inquiries.

Noriaki Fukudome of the Truth-Seeking Network for Forced Mobilization, a citizens group based in Fukuoka, has been centrally involved in advancing the South Korean truth commission’s work within Japan.

Aso Group, says Fukudome, “has an obligation to actively cooperate with returning remains and providing records because it was one of the companies that employed the most forced laborers. But Japanese companies are keeping a lid on the whole forced labor issue. In the unlikely event that Prime Minister Aso was to direct Aso Cement (now Aso Lafarge Cement since its merger with a French conglomerate) to actively face the forced labor problem, it would have a huge effect on all Japanese companies.”

Fukudome pointed to Japan’s conformist corporate culture as one reason why very few of the hundreds of companies that used Asians and Allied POWs for forced labor have taken steps toward reconciliation. “Even if one company has a relatively positive attitude regarding reparations, it will not take action out of deference for other companies,” he said.

Chinese were the victims of the third class of forced labor in Japan. While Aso Mining was not involved in Chinese forced labor, lack of progress for the especially compelling redress claim highlights Japan’s weak commitment to settling wartime accounts.

Postwar records secretly compiled — and then purposely destroyed — by the Japanese government and 35 companies state that 38,935 Chinese males between the ages of 11 and 78 were brought to Japan between 1943 and 1945. More than one out of six died.

Japan’s Supreme Court ruled last year that the 1972 treaty that restored ties between Japan and China bars Chinese forced labor survivors from filing legal claims. Yet the court found that plaintiffs had been forcibly transported to Japan and forced to toil in wretched conditions, and suggested they be redressed through non-judicial means. Having previously declared that the “slave-like forced labor was an outrage against humanity,” the Fukuoka High Court earlier this month similarly urged “voluntary measures” to remedy the injustice.

Kajima Corp., one of the world’s largest construction companies, set up a “relief fund” in 2000 to compensate survivors of its Hanaoka work site, where 418 out of 986 Chinese perished and an uprising took place. The move prompted expectations that Japan’s industrial sector and central government might establish a redress fund for all its victims of forced labor, similar to the “Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future” Foundation enacted in Germany that same year. The $6 billion German fund eventually compensated 1.6 million forced labor victims or their heirs.

Such hopes for corporate social responsibility in Japan were dashed. On the contrary, Mitsubishi Materials Corp. defended itself in a Fukuoka courtroom in 2005 by rejecting facts about Chinese forced labor routinely recognized by Japan’s judiciary and insisting only voluntary workers were used — despite death rates of up to 31 percent at its Kyushu mines. Mitsubishi openly questioned whether Japan ever “invaded” China at all and warned judges that compensating the elderly Chinese plaintiffs would saddle Japan with a “mistaken burden of the soul” for hundreds of years.

Taro Aso, in fact, is not the Japanese prime minister most closely connected to forced labor. Wartime Cabinet minister Nobusuke Kishi was in charge of the empire’s labor programs and was later imprisoned for three years as a Class A war crimes suspect. Kishi went on to become a founder of the Liberal Democratic Party in 1955 and Japan’s premier from 1957-60. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is Kishi’s grandson.

Foreign Ministry files declassified in 2002 revealed that Kishi’s administration conspired to deceive the Diet and citizens’ groups about the state’s possession of Chinese forced labor records. Kishi’s intent was to block Japanese activists from returning remains to China and publicizing the program’s true nature, as well as to head off state reparations demands from Beijing. In 2003, the Foreign Ministry searched a basement storeroom and found 20,000 pages of Chinese forced labor records submitted by companies in 1946, despite decades of denials that such records existed.

Millions of Asians performed forced labor outside of Japan during the Asia Pacific War, very often for the benefit of Japanese companies still operating today. The so-called comfort women represent a uniquely abused group of war victims forced to provide sex for Japan’s military. Last year governments in North America and Europe urged Japan to do more to right the egregious comfort-women wrong.

The Dutch foreign minister renewed that call last week, prior to a visit to Japan set to include a stop at the Commonwealth War Cemetery where hundreds of Allied POWs are buried, including two Australians who died at Aso Mining.

Days after assuming Japan’s top post, Aso apologized “for my past careless remarks” in a speech before Parliament. “From now on,” he pledged, “I will make statements while bearing in mind the gravity of the words of a prime minister.” Many are waiting for the words “I’m sorry” for forced labor.

—————

William Underwood completed his doctoral dissertation at Kyushu University on forced labor in wartime Japan. His past research is available at www.japanfocus.org and he can be reached atkyushubill@yahoo.com. Send comments on this issue and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp