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  • Archive for December, 2008

    Debito.org Poll on most important human rights advancement in 2008

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 31st December 2008

    What do you think is the most significant human rights advancement in Japan in 2008? (all issues on this blog):

    The coveted Akutagawa Book Prize going to a non-native author.
    The U Hoden Case awarding damages to a bullied Chinese-Japanese schoolgirl.
    The successful Zainichi student complaint lodged against exclusionary Nihon U debate club.
    The successful lawsuit against Tochigi strawberry farms who underpaid and fired Chinese trainees.
    The GOJ declaring the Ainu an official indigenous people.
    The 12,000 yen “economic stimulus” bribe opened to all NJ taxpayers.
    The increasing international awareness of Japan as a haven for child abductions after divorce.
    The Supreme Court declaring unconstitutional the patrimony acknowledgment requirement for citizenship.
    Something else / None of the above.
    Can’t say / Don’t know etc.

    Vote early, vote often! Check out my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column due out January 6 (Jan 7 outside the metropolises) when I rank them in order of importance.

    Posted in Blog Polls, Human Rights | No Comments »

    Bloggers Gathering Jan 17 Tokyo (RSVP by Jan 8)

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 30th December 2008

    A gathering for bloggers and blog enthusiasts is being planned in Tokyo for the evening of January 17, and we would like to extend the invitation to any and all visitors who may wish to come. Bloggers from Observing Japan, Shisaku, Global Talk 21, Mutant Frog, Coming Anarchy, Trans-Pacific Radio and more will be amongst the crowd. (Debito.org won’t be in town, sadly.)

    Posted in Media, Tangents | No Comments »

    Japan Times on future J housing markets, tax regimes, and why J houses are built so crappily

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 29th December 2008

    Here’s another excellent article from Philip Brasor of the Japan Times, regarding future Japan housing markets and taxation laws (and why houses in Japan aren’t built to last, or be resaleable). Should cause a twinge or two in the homeowners out there, myself included.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Japanese Government | 15 Comments »

    Japan Times Zeit Gist on Chinese/Japanese bilingual education in Japan

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 28th December 2008

    Further festive good news: A rupo in the Japan Times Community Page from a member of the Chinese Diaspora in Japan, on the Chinese Diaspora in Japan. And how some are being educated to believe that they are bicultural, bilingual, and binational. Good.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Education, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation | No Comments »

    History tangent: Japan Times FYI on Hokkaido development

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 27th December 2008

    I’m on the road for a couple of days (we’ve been whalloped with snow, and I anticipate a long drive to the Okhotsk Sea Coast tomorrow), so let me send you a little something interesting. A nice concise history of Hokkaido from the Japan Times. Fills in quite a few blanks about how and why we up in Japan’s Great White North got here in the first place.

    Posted in History, Japanese Government | No Comments »

    Xmas List: Ten things Japan does best

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 25th December 2008

    Here’s my Christmas Present to readers: The top ten things I think Japan does better than just about everyone else.

    I include Toilet Culture, Calligraphy Goods, Packaging, Anime, Public Transportation, and several others I’m not going to list up here ‘cos I think you might enjoy reading the essay straight through (yes, I’ve put in a couple of rather surprising topics).

    This is an antidote to those people convinced I don’t like Japan.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Humor, Tangents | 28 Comments »

    German movie SOUR STRAWBERRIES preview, with Debito interview

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 24th December 2008

    SOUR STRAWBERRIES, a German-Japanese documentary about Japan’s labor migration and human rights, came out in Germany in September. I’m thrilled to report that segments they filmed of me exposing Kabukichou JAPANESE ONLY signs (and in the full movie, the oddities of one of the exclusionary business owners) made the coming-attractions reel. You can see it via link from this blog entry. The movie will be coming to Japan in March, more later on Debito.org.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Media, 日本語 | No Comments »

    Humor: Cracked Mag Online on unappetizing restaurants

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 23rd December 2008

    More humor for a national holiday: Some restaurants (according to Cracked Magazine, which I thought was a poor second cousin to Mad Magazine, until I started reading the cutting online version) that defeat their purpose by offering food in very unappetizing ways.

    Now I don’t believe for a second that there is a place in Roppongi that allows you to diddle your meal before you eat it (in fact, I found this site due to a trackback to Debito.org exposing the source as the deep-sixed Mainichi Waiwai). But it’s still a good read, and I love the (what seems to be verified) idea of airborne meals even if it’s a hoax.

    Posted in Food, Humor, Tangents | 3 Comments »

    Humor: Robin Williams stand-up comedy on Obama’s election

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 22nd December 2008

    More festivities for the end of days. Here’s a very funny stand-up piece by Robin Williams (introduced by an oddly wheelchair-bound former Minister of Silly Walks) regarding Obama’s election and the outgoing Bush Administration. Courtesy again of Dave Spector. Enjoy.

    Posted in Humor, Tangents | 2 Comments »

    All registered NJ will in fact now get the 12,000 “economic stimulus” bribe

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 21st December 2008

    After dallying with thoughts of excluding NJ taxpayers, then allowing only those NJ with Permanent Residency and Japanese spouses, the GOJ has just announced that all registered NJ will get the 12,000 yen-plus economic stimulus bribe. Seasons Greetings.

    This is probably the first time NJ have ever been treated equally positively with citizens (save for, perhaps, access to Hello Work unemployment agency) with a voter stimulus package. See, it pays to complain.

    Posted in Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 8 Comments »

    Humor: “Beware of the Doghouse”: For you men with thoughtless gifts

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 20th December 2008

    First off-topic festive humor entry, particularly for hetero men readers out there: What follows is a link to the “Beware of the Doghouse” website, something well worth looking at because it’s a smart, funny, and well-produced five-minute mini-movie about men who don’t think deeply enough about what sorts of gifts to give their wife/female partner.

    Posted in Humor, Tangents | No Comments »

    Start of Holiday Season: blog becomes less frequent and more festive

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 20th December 2008

    Morning Blog. With the holidays coming up (I bet many people are taking Monday off too and getting ready to travel), I’m sure you have better things to do than read socially-conscious stuff on a blog. Eat, drink, and be merry, and I’ll do the same (in more moderation; I’m already fat). I’ll try not to do daily updates, and will put up more amusing, off-topic, stuff between Xmas and New Years. Enjoy yourselves and we’ll get back to business in January. Happy holidays, everyone! Arudou Debito (stuck in Sapporo; Hokkaido economics don’t help one get out for Xmas)

    Posted in debito.org blog and website biz | 3 Comments »

    Kyodo: NJ to be registered as family members (residents?) by 2012

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 19th December 2008

    Good news if this actually comes to fruition: The ludicrous system of registering NJ separately from J in residency certificates (juuminhyou) may be coming to an end. According a Kyodo article (that is too deficient in detail — Japan Times, do another article in depth, please!), we’ll start seeing NJ registered with their families in three years. And hopefully as real, bonafide residents too (even though this is still not clear thanks to Kyodo blurbing). At least we’ll see the end of the ridiculous gaikokujin touroku zumi shoumeisho and the invisible NJ husbands and wives. More on why the current registry situation is problematic here, including NJ being left out for tax-rebates, and not being included in official local government tallies of population.

    Posted in Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 4 Comments »

    Mainichi: USA to require visitors to register online before boarding planes

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 18th December 2008

    This is only tangentally related to Debito.org (it’s about traffic going from Japan to the US), but as the Americans do policywise, so often does the Japanese Government. Here we have the last gasps of the Bush Administration trying to stick it to foreign visitors (fingerprinting and photography weren’t enough; the GOJ then copied it and went even farther), what with requiring people now to register online before they visit, or even get a boarding pass. As Japanese officials mildly protesteth (see Japan Times article below), the USG didn’t even bother with much of a publicity campaign for their program, leaving the burden on the airlines and the airports to deal with it. Let’s hope 1) this really puts off people travelling to the US, and 2) the GOJ doesn’t feel the itch to copy. Three articles follow — the Mainichi in English and Japanese, then the Japan Times with even better information.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Tangents, 日本語 | 15 Comments »

    Tokyo High Court overrules lower court regarding murder of Lucie Blackman: Obara Joji now guilty of “dismemberment and abandonment of a body”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 17th December 2008

    Serial rapist and sexual predator Obara Joji yesterday had his “innocent on the grounds of lack of evidence” lower court decision overturned by the Tokyo High Court, with Lucie Blackman’s rape and murder now added to his long list of crimes against women. A hair was split between actual murder and just doing nasty things to her corpse, but for people outraged about the rather odd consideration of evidence in this case (which I in the past have indicated might have something to do with a J crime against a NJ, as opposed to the opposite), this is a victory of sorts. Given that Obara got away with a heckuva lot before he was finally nailed (including some pretty hapless police investigation), I wonder if the outcome of his cases will be much of a deterrent to other sociopathic predators out there. Anyway, this verdict is better than upholding the previous one, of course. Two articles follow.

    Posted in Good News, Injustice, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits | 5 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 16, 2008

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 16th December 2008

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    THINK OF THE CHILDREN…
    1) Terrie’s Take on how NJ workers are the first to go in adverse economic conditions
    2) Mainichi: Brazilian ethnic school closing due to NJ job cuts
    3) Jason’s blog on next employment steps in Japan for NJ
    4) Japan Times: Eric Johnston on Gunma NGO stopping ijime towards NJ students
    5) AP: US court rules Japan has jurisdiction in child joint custody case
    6) Sydney Morning Herald: Little Hope for Japan’s Abandoned Fathers

    OTHER THINKS:
    7) Grauniad: Japan comes down hard on Greenpeace whaling activists
    8) Thoughts on seeing the Dalai Lama at the FCCJ Nov 3, 2008
    9) Economist.com: Bilateral agreements to give US servicemen immunity from Japanese criminal procedure

    … and finally…
    10) Travelling around Japan in New Years’ and March. Want me to come speak?
    Join me for Tokyo beers in January?
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Sydney Morning Herald: Little hope for Japan’s Abandoned Fathers

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 16th December 2008

    The story about Japan as a safe haven for internationally abducted kids spreads from Canada to the US to Australia, this time in the Sydney Morning Herald. And this time, the crank lawyer, a Mr Onuki, who claimed that “90 per cent of cases in which the Japanese women return to Japan, the man is at fault, such as with domestic violence and child abuse”, finally gets a response (the Mainichi printed it without counter, the rotters). Meanwhile, the GOJ just keeps on dithering on the Hague Convention. It’s one of Japan’s worst-kept secrets. But not for long at this rate. Keep on exposing.

    Posted in Child Abductions, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 12 Comments »

    Oyako-Net Candlelight vigil for abducted children to Japan after divorce Dec 18 7PM Shinjuku

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 15th December 2008

    Oyako-Net’s World Wide Candle Light Vigil in Tokyo Let’s get together and send our love to our estranged children! When: Dec 18, 2008 7:00pm to 8:00pm Where: In front of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku http://www.metro.tokyo.jp/ENGLISH/TMG/map..htm (If you have a trouble in finding us, please contact Mashito-san 090-6139-8609.) Please bring a search light and […]

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings | No Comments »

    Pet peeve: How media casting choices based upon ethnicity contribute to cultural ignorance.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 15th December 2008

    A little tangent today about how a Discovery Channel show this weekend on Japan irked me due to its content and casting choices. A show called “Japan Revealed” actually revealed very little, not only due to promoting the same old hackneyed stereotypes, but also by hiring people who aren’t culturally fluent to talk about cultural issues. This blog entry / rant makes my case for how this sort of thing is a blind spot for the culturally-relativistic, who believe that somehow ethnicity is a substitute for a skill set or language ability, and how they further add to the world’s general ignorance about Japan.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Tangents | 13 Comments »

    Japan Times: Eric Johnston on Gunma NGO stopping ijime towards NJ students

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 14th December 2008

    Japan Times on bullying of NJ schoolchildren and an NGO’s effort to stop it: Nationwide, there are more than 25,000 foreign children in schools. The majority are believed to be Brazilians, followed by Chinese. Truancy among foreign children, who are often bullied because they are different or don’t speak Japanese, has become a concern in recent years, especially in prefectures like Gunma and in the Chubu region where large numbers of foreigners reside.

    Local governments and the central government both say more needs to be done to integrate foreign children into Japanese schools. But they are often at odds over what exactly should be done and who should take the lead. The central government has long urged local governments to do more, while cash-strapped local governments say there is little more they can do unless Tokyo formulates a national policy and provides funds for assistance.

    Human rights activists note a fundamental reason for truancy among foreign children is that they are not required by law to attend public school, which means those who drop out due to bullying or other reasons are not legally obliged to return. The education ministry’s position is that while public schools cannot turn away foreign children, they don’t have to make sure they’re in class.

    “Revising the Compulsory Education Law to insure foreign children are covered is a top priority for Japan,” NGO leader McMahill said…

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Education, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | No Comments »

    Thoughts on seeing the Dalai Lama at the FCCJ Nov 3, 2008

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 13th December 2008

    Some thoughts about seeing one of the world’s masters of activism: The Dalai Lama at the FCCJ on November 3, 2008. How he’s able to be an activist yet retain a largely positive image, and be listened to worldwide despite the antipathetic media from the world’s most populous country. And I add some subsidiary thoughts on the media’s role, however unintentional, in bleaching the message’s effectiveness.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Media, Practical advice | 2 Comments »

    Jason’s blog on next employment steps in Japan for NJ

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 12th December 2008

    A blog called “Jason’s Random Thoughts” has a thoughtful post for those NJ facing restructuring in Japan. Since it’s a recent theme on Debito.org, I thought I’d post an excerpt and a link here. I’ve posted (a bit irreverently) before on what sort of jobs are available for NJ, particularly those of the former Eikaiwa ilk. Link to that here. As for those of you seriously facing a job loss and a reassessment of your life in Japan with the economic downturn, Jason’s blog post is food for thought. Excerpt:

    For almost two years we have heard how companies are shutting down all over the world in response to a slowing economy. Whether this is the ultimate result of corporate greed, globalization, out-sourcing, or something that can be understood only by leading economists, one thing is clear: our current employment is no guarantee of future security. Of course, facing the prospect of unemployment is scary for everyone, but it’s particularly painful when living in a foreign country…

    Posted in Labor issues, Practical advice | 7 Comments »

    Economist.com: Bilateral agreements to give US servicemen immunity from Japanese criminal procedure

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 11th December 2008

    Economist.com: In Jane’s view, the first rape went unpunished: Mr Deans remains at large. So she turned her attention to the “second rape”. She sued the Kanagawa police for a bungled investigation that denied her proper justice. In December 2007 the court ruled against her, stating that the police had fulfilled their responsibilities. She appealed the decision.

    Jane’s ordeal underscores the clumsiness of Japan’s police force. In several recent high-profile cases, the police have coerced confessions from suspects. It also highlights the lack of a tradition of individual rights in the country, and the often thinly reasoned rulings of Japanese courts. And it fits the pattern that in many crimes by American servicemen, the Japanese authorities fail to press charges.

    But the reason why cases like Jane’s are not prosecuted may have less to do with incompetent police and more because of a secret agreement between America and Japan in 1953 that has recently come to light.

    In September 2008, Shoji Niihara, a researcher on Japanese-American relations, uncovered previously classified documents in the U.S. National Archives. They show that in 1953, soon after Dwight Eisenhower assumed the presidency, John Foster Dulles, his secretary of state, embarked on a massive programme to get countries to waive their jurisdiction in cases of crimes by American servicemen.

    Posted in History, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 2 Comments »

    NUGW’s Louis Carlet on recent labor union moves

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 10th December 2008

    A recent news from labor union NUGW is meaty and timely enough to warrant everyone’s attention. Have a look and see if there’s anything here you’d like to check out. I fully support Louis Carlet and labor unions in Japan, and if you’re not in one, you’re not going to have your employment rights protected in Japan protected, full stop. A link to an essay on why I can say that with such conviction here.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Labor issues | 5 Comments »

    Grauniad: Japan comes down hard on Greenpeace whaling activists

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 10th December 2008

    Grauniad on how the GOJ will treat activists it wants to make an example of: Subject them to the full force of the NPA:

    Two Greenpeace activists who face years in prison for investigating corruption in Japan’s whaling industry have condemned their arrests as politically motivated on the eve of an unprecedented campaign to end the country’s whale hunts.

    Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki were arrested in June, two months after intercepting 23kg of whale meat at a warehouse in northern Japan that they said had been stolen by crew members from the Japanese whaling fleet’s mother ship for sale on the black market.

    They are now waiting to stand trial early next year, and if convicted face up to 10 years in prison.

    “At the time I was arrested I wasn’t too concerned as I was focusing on our investigation,” Sato, 31, told the Guardian yesterday at the Tokyo offices of his legal team.

    “But if we are convicted, then of course I will be worried about my wife and child. It would also raise serious questions about Japan’s commitment to human rights. We have already been detained for 26 days, which is very unusual for someone facing first-time charges of theft.”

    The ferocity with which prosecutors have made their case against Sato and Suzuki has astonished Greenpeace officials and human rights activists.

    During their time in police custody, the men say they were strapped to chairs and interrogated for up to 12 hours a day. No lawyers were present and the interviews were not recorded…

    Posted in Human Rights, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Tangents | 15 Comments »

    Mainichi: Brazilian ethnic school closing due to NJ job cuts

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 9th December 2008

    I mentioned yesterday about how the NJ workers are the first to go in any wave of job cuts (no wonder — very few NJ ever get promotion beyond “temp”-style contract labor, despite working for years at full-time jobs). Now here’s an article in the Mainichi about how that’s having a negative impact on the NJ community, particularly the education of their children. Ethnic schools are starting to close as tuition dries up. What next for the NJ communities, always contributing yet kept as a mere appendage to the “real members” of this society?

    Posted in Education, Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues, 日本語 | 2 Comments »

    Down with flu: Taking a day off

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 9th December 2008

    Hi Blog. I’m feeling pretty poorly today (headache, dizziness, even nausea; not sure what it is, maybe the current flu bug), so I’m going to devote today to some sincere bedrest and hopefully get over whatever’s ailing me ASAP. Lemme take a day off blogging. Thanks, Debito

    Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

    Terrie’s Take on how NJ workers are the first to go in adverse economic conditions

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 8th December 2008

    Terrie’s Take November 3 on how economic downturn is affecting Japanese companies: First to go have been the foreign workers in overseas plants. Two weeks ago, Nissan announced that it would cut its workforce by 1,680 people at its Barcelona assembly plant — one of two major plants the company has in Europe. This is almost 1/3 of all the people working at that facility and represents the halting of one of the 3 production shifts. Sales of vehicles in Spain have plunged 24% in the last 9 months, and when the numbers finally come out at the end of the year, we expect that sales for this current quarter might be almost non-existent. Indeed, Peugot has said that it expects a 17% fall in auto sales in Q4 in Western Europe. We think the final numbers will be worse and Japanese firms will share blood shed.

    Certainly Toyota knows this, and so the company is laying off another category of “outsiders” — non-permanent workers at its factories here in Japan. Apparently the company employs 6,800 contract workers, also known as fixed-term workers, a number which is 2,000 down from March and 4,000 down from the peak of 10,800 employed in 2004. Back then, non-permanents accounted for 30% of the company’s total workforce. The thing about these contract workers is that so long as they are employed for less than 36 months, then the company can flexibility lay them off in times of hardship — as will many other companies around the country now that Toyota has set the pace.

    In addition, in Q2, June-August this year, Toyota laid off an extra 8,000 temporary workers — for a total of around 10,000 redundancies so far this year. Are you seeing these numbers in the major newspapers? Not really. This is probably because Japan’s number one advertiser is sitting on an estimated JPY4trn (US$40bn) of cash reserves (not including other assets) which make it difficult for the company to defend its actions in the Japanese context of being needed to be seen to be looking after your own. In this respect, the message clearly is that you need to be a full-time employee to be considered “one of the Toyota family”. Otherwise you’re just a squatter…

    So, given that there are at least 755,000 foreigners (as of 2006) working here in Japan, and probably another 350,000 or so working illegally, you can bet that this group will be another at-risk segment to lose their jobs. The AP article says that the government HELLO WORK centers used to get about 700 foreigners looking for jobs each month, but in August due to the massive layoffs by auto manufacturers, the numbers of foreign newly jobless people doubled to 1,500 a month. Local officials note that the number of Japanese applicants has not changed appreciably (yet) — so clearly Toyota, Honda, and Yamaha are dumping on their Brazilian-Japanese and Chinese workers first.

    Posted in Labor issues | 5 Comments »

    Letters to the Japan Times regarding Otaru Onsens Case article

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 7th December 2008

    Here are the letters to the editor published by the Japan Times on December 7, 2008, in the wake of a December 2 Zeit Gist article regarding the Otaru Onsens Case. My comment about the article also included at the very bottom of this blog entry.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Human Rights, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit | 8 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 6 2008

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 7th December 2008

    Table of Contents:
    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    1) GOJ Human Rights Week commemorative pamphlet includes NJ issues of discrimination

    YET
    2) Mainichi: NJ cause Tsukiji to ban all tourists for a month
    3) Kyodo: MOJ announces it snagged 846 NJ since reinstituting fingerprinting
    4) Mainichi: NJ now eligible for GOJ “economic stimulus” bribe. But not all NJ residents.
    5) Poll on how yon 12,000 yen econ stimulus bribe sits with Debito.org readers
    6) The killer of Scott Tucker, choked to death by a DJ in a Tokyo bar, gets suspended sentence.

    PLUS
    7) More on nationality law and children born out of wedlock: Conservatives causing policy balk
    8) JALT TLT: James McCrostie on NJ job insecurity at Japan’s universities
    9) Japan Times Zeit Gist column on Otaru Onsens Case (not by me)

    … and finally…
    10) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Dec 3 2008 on Obama election and Bush II presidency (Director’s Cut)
    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    AP: US court rules Japan has jurisdiction in child joint custody case

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 6th December 2008

    AP: The Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s courts have no jurisdiction over a custody dispute involving a 6-year-old boy, leaving the issue to a Japanese court.

    In the ruling issued Friday, the court said a Douglas County district judge had no authority to grant joint custody of the boy to his divorced parents, even though the boy was born in Nebraska and had lived here while in the U.S.

    The court determined that under custody law, the child’s residence is considered to be in Japan.

    COMMENT: We should hope the Japanese courts would be so impartial. But they aren’t. Contrast with the Murray Wood Case, where international children kidnapped from British Columbia (whose courts granted the Canadian father custody) were deemed unremovable from Japan. And are American courts so ignorant to not know (or was Mr Carter’s legal defense so inept to not point out) that Japan does not recognize joint custody, full stop? Mr Carter will not get a fair trial in Japan. No child kidnapped to Japan as of yet has been returned to the NJ parent by a Japanese court. He’s lost his kid. Full stop.

    Posted in Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Lawsuits | 7 Comments »

    Mainichi: NJ cause Tsukiji to ban all tourists for a month

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 5th December 2008

    Tsukiji is enforcing an outright ban for a month on all visitors to Tsukiji fish market, the world’s largest. The Mainichi says the Tokyo Govt claims it’s due to NJ tourists and their bad manners (or so the Japanese headline says below — the English headline just says they’re too numerous; thanks, Mainichi, for sweetening your translations, again). And the fish market itself claims they cannot communicate the rules with Johnny Foreigner in their foreign tongues (nobody there has ever heard of handing out multilingual pamphlets upon entry or putting up signs?). Anyway, I wonder if this issue is so simply a matter of NJ manners?

    Anyway, this isn’t the first time Tsukiji Market has threatened to do this, but this is the first I’ve heard of an outright ban. Moreover, using a purported language barrier as a real barrier to entry and service is becoming the catch-all excuse, as we are increasingly seeing in Japanese businesses, such as banks and insurance agencies. Beats actually making more efforts to cater to the customer, in this case the tourists eating the fish around the marketplace after the marketing, I guess.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Food, Media | 11 Comments »

    GOJ Human Rights Week commemorative pamphlet includes NJ issues of discrimination

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 4th December 2008

    Good news, of sorts. Today starts Japan’s official “Human Rights Week” (Jinken Shuukan), when the GOJ spends money (and claims to the UN national campaigns of awareness raising) to promote issues of human rights.

    The Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu), the window-dressing department within the Ministry of Justice entrusted to spend tax money but not actually enforce any human rights mandate, usually glosses over discrimination against NJ (heaven forfend they actually use the breathtaking word “racial discrimination”!) as a matter of cultural misunderstandings (a wonderful way to reduce the issue down to next to nothing), and holds it low regard in comparison to issues of actual discrimination against Burakumin, Ainu, the handicapped, etc. This has been reflected in GOJ human rights surveys and past “awareness-raising” campaigns in previous Human Rights Weeks.

    So it comes as a welcome surprise that this year the GOJ has issued a commemorative pamphlet including discrimination against NJ as a real issue. Of course, the old bone about “cultural issues” is still there to dilute the Truth Octane. But it’s a start.

    Well, actually, looking over information from last year, it’s not that much of a change. Except that the BOHR site now actually includes on its official website a new video game for its cartoon characters, called “The Grand Adventure in Human Rights Land”! Have a play! Hey, it’s your taxes, might as well use them.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 4 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Dec 3 2008 on Obama election and Bush II presidency (Director’s Cut)

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 3rd December 2008

    Japan Times: People talk about America less in terms of justice, more in terms of “superpower realpolitik”, especially after it dropped North Korea from the terrorism watch list. Then we hark back to the Bubble-Era heyday, when Japan’s future was bright, rich, and flying in formation with the U.S. Sadly, that was then, this is now. For the past eight years.

    Fortunately, with Obama’s election, American politics became a renewable resource, a fount of “change”. Obama is even inspiring opposition parties here to call for “change” in Japan’s government.

    Well, maybe. And maybe America can become a template for good deeds again. That is, if Bush hasn’t made America unredeemable, and if America can learn to say “no” to its own excessive powers.

    Obama has a hard act to follow, but if he succeeds, human rights activists in Japan will also enjoy the turn of the tide.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies | 14 Comments »

    Japan Times Zeit Gist column on Otaru Onsens Case (not by me) (Now UPDATED with comment)

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 2nd December 2008

    Japan Times article critical of the Otaru Onsens Case: The problem is that the case was fought and won on the issue of racial discrimination when the policy being employed by the Yunohana onsen could more accurately be described as the racial application of “group accountability.”…

    …America is a truly wonderful country with some particularly obvious virtues, but these do not include its level of safety and social cohesion. While the rights of the individual are certainly more strongly upheld in America than in Japan, the presence of rogue individuals within America is disproportionately high. America is unquestionably a more dangerous place than Japan.

    And this brings us to the point that Arudou ignores or simply fails to see. Group accountability is not employed in Japan simply for the sake of pushing people around. It is employed for the purpose of making Japan cohesive and safe. It is a major reason why Japan, unlike the U.S., is a nation in which the fear of random violence is relatively low. If Arudou succeeds in his quest, Japan will become one more nation in which the individual is to be feared. That is an outrageously high price to pay for the occasional racial, national, generational or gender-driven slight.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Exclusionism, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit | 33 Comments »

    Get Japan Times Tues Dec 2 for new JUST BE CAUSE column, on Obama’s election

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 1st December 2008

    Just a quick word to tell you that my tenth Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column will be coming out tomorrow, Tues Dec 2 (Weds in print in the provinces). Topic this time: 700 words on the Obama victory and why his election will, given the shameful excesses of the Bush II Presidency, be a welcome respite for human rights activists in Japan. Get a copy!

    Posted in Articles & Publications | 2 Comments »

    Mainichi: NJ now eligible for GOJ “economic stimulus” bribe. But not all NJ residents.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 1st December 2008

    The GOJ has finally made it clear, after overmuch deliberation, that the “economic stimulus” cum political bribe to voters package will also be disbursable to non-voting taxpayers, i.e. NJ. However, not all. Only those with Permanent Residency or marriage with a Japanese. So too bad you taxpaying residents who don’t marry or haven’t been by the grace of Immigration been granted permanent leave to remain. You don’t get a sou for your contributions. It’s better than nothing, and indeed is a sign of progress, but why the lines are drawn there are still mysterious. Anyone with an address in Japan who is paying taxes should be eligible for the rebate. But no.

    Posted in Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 15 Comments »