Kyodo/JT: Death penalty obstructs “presumption of innocence” in Japanese justice

mytest

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 is not a “NJ issues”-specific post today (although issues of criminal justice ultimately affect everybody, except maybe bent cops). But this short article on a presentation, regarding the aftermath of the famous 1948 Teigin Bank Poisoning Incident (where a bank robber posed as a doctor, told everybody that there had been an outbreak of dysentery, and to take medicine that was actually poison; themes of Milgram’s Experiment), calls into question the use of the death penalty not as a preventive deterrent or a form of Hammurabian justice, but as a weapon during interrogation.  I have brought up issues of “presumption of guilt” (where the accused has to prove his innocence, despite the Constitution) here before.  This too-short article is still good food for thought about the abuses of power, especially if governing life and death.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Legal system defect makes presumed innocence a joke: gallows foe
By KEIJI HIRANO
Kyodo News/The Japan Times  Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009, courtesy of JB

It’s easy to wrongfully charge innocent people under the legal system because the principle of presumed innocence is a mere slogan, according to a prominent campaigner against the death penalty.

“People sometimes admit to offenses they did not commit because if they continue to deny guilt, they will not be released on bail after their arrest and indictment,” Yoshihiro Yasuda, a Tokyo-based lawyer, told a Monday symposium in Tokyo. “And they cannot be acquitted unless their lawyers completely prove their innocence.”

The symposium was held on the 61st anniversary of the Teigin Incident, the most notorious case of mass poisoning in postwar Japan, in which the adopted son of a late death-row inmate is still seeking a retrial to clear the convicted killer’s name.

The case, in which 12 people were fatally poisoned, occurred at a Teikoku Ginko (Imperial Bank) branch in Tokyo on Jan. 26, 1948. An award-winning painter, Sadamichi Hirasawa, was sentenced to death, but died of natural causes in prison at the age of 95 in 1987 while still proclaiming his innocence.

His son, Takehiko, has filed a 19th petition for a retrial, which is pending at the Tokyo High Court. Yasuda believed this structural defect in the legal system remains, 61 years after the Teigin Incident.

“The death penalty is a ‘weapon’ for investigators. They could tell suspects, ‘You will be hanged if you do not admit to the charges,’ ” he said.

As for the Teigin case, more than 30 justice ministers refused to sign the execution order, and Yasuda told the audience of about 50, “They must have had concerns over the possible discovery of the real culprit, but they refused to release Hirasawa to save the ‘honor’ of the legal system.”

The Japan Times: Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009
ENDS

Outrage over Mie-ken teacher criminalizing students thru fingerprinting. Well, fancy that.

mytest

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 received word a couple of days ago from James and AS about a schoolteacher in Mie-ken who dealt with a suspected theft by taking everyone’s fingerprints, and threatening to report them to the police.  He hoped the bluff would make the culprit would come forward, but instead there’s been outrage.  How dare the teacher criminalize the students thusly?

Hm.  Where was that outrage last November 2007, when most NJ were beginning to undergo the same procedure at the border, officially because they could be agents of infectious diseases, foreign crime, and visa overstays?  How dare the GOJ and media criminalize NJ residents thusly?

I’m not saying what the teacher did was right.  In fact, I agree that this bluff was inappropriate.  It’s just that given the sudden outrage in the media over human rights, we definitely have a lack of “shoe on the other foot” -ism here from time to time.

The articles haven’t appeared in English, but no problem.  Here are some links in Japanese, and I’ll translate one article.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

担任が学級全員の指紋 三重・海星高

2009年1月27日 朝刊 中日新聞

 三重県四日市市の私立海星高校で、1年生の生徒から「体育の授業の間に携帯電話のメモリーカードがなくなった。盗まれた」と訴えられた担任の男性教諭(57)が、同じ学級の生徒27人全員の指紋を採り、「警察に届ける」という趣旨の発言をしていたことが分かった。

 西田秀樹校長は「人権にかかわる問題」と不適切だったことを認め、「生徒や保護者に謝罪し、職員の指導を徹底したい」としている。

 同校によると、今月21日、体育の授業後の昼休みに、男子生徒1人が教諭に報告した。携帯電話は、柔道場で行われた体育の授業の前に生徒全員の分が集められ、貴重品とともに袋に入れて柔道場内に置かれ、授業後に返されていた。

 教諭は同日のホームルームで「指紋を採って(警察などに)届けて調べてもらう」と話し、27人全員に、指に朱肉をつけさせて紙に押させた。実際には警察には届けなかった。教諭は「盗んだ人が早く名乗り出てほしいという気持ちからやってしまった」と話しているという。

 西田校長は「(メモリーカードの紛失が)内部の人間に違いないと思ったのだと思うが、あってはならないこと。処分も考えている」と話している。

(translation by Arudou Debito)

Homeroom teacher fingerprints all of his students:  Mie-ken Kaisei High

Chuunichi Shinbun January 27, 2009, Morning Edition

[Mie-ken Yokkaichi] At Kaisei, a private high school in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, a homeroom teacher (57), who heard accusations from a freshman that somebody had stolen his cellphone memory card during PE, took fingerprints from all 27 students in class, and said that he would report them to the police.

Principal Nishida Hideki was quoted as saying, “This is an issue of human rights”, acknowledging that this action was inappropriate.  “We have apologized to the students and their guardians, and will thoroughly admonish our staff member.”

According to the school, on January 21, during lunch break after PE, the student reported the incident to the teacher.  The keitai had been collected from all students as personal valuables before PE in the dojo, placed in a bag left in the dojo, and given back after class.  

The teacher that day said, “I’m taking your fingerprints and will let the police analyze them”,  forcing all students to put their fingers on red inkan pads and render their fingerprints on pieces of paper.  The teacher apparently said, “I did this because I wanted the thief to reveal himself quickly.”

Principal Nishida said, “I think there was definitely a case where somebody in this class was involved in the loss of that memory card, but this was not the way to deal with it.  We’re considering disciplinary action.”

ENDS

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

Dozens more articles here:

http://news.google.com/news?client=safari&rls=en&oe=UTF-8&ie=UTF-8&hl=ja&resnum=5&ncl=1270450770
==================================

And AS adds:
Hi Debito,

I caught a story on the news last night (News Watch 9, 9:00pm 1/27 broadcast, channel 1) about the community outrage that resulted from a teacher fingerprinting his students in Mie prefecture.

Apparently what happened was that a boy in the teacher’s homeroom class reported that the memory card for his cell phone was missing. The teacher asked repeatedly for the culprit to come forward, and when nobody did he decided to fingerprint everybody in the class. When asked by the principal why he did this, the teacher said he was disappointed that nobody came forward on their own, and he thought that by doing something so serious and dramatic that it would prompt the offender to confess. The teacher’s logic is very odd since 1) there is no way for him to analyze prints and 2) there is no suspect print for him to compare the samples to, so it’s obviously intended solely as a scare tactic.

Anyway, the part that interested me was the reaction from the community and the school. Everyone agreed that it was completely inappropriate, and that the teacher was treating the students like criminals. One person said that it unnecessarily caused hurt feelings and embarassment among the students, and another said that teachers should treat their students with more trust.

While this case is obviously very different from the fingerprinting of foreign nationals at the border, it does show once again that there is a double-standard in how Japanese view fingerprinting. If the people involved are Japanese, then it is a very serious issue and the dignity of the individual must be preserved. If the people are NJ though then there is little thought given to issues of dignity, privacy, or convenience.

Anyway, I thought you might want a heads-up to look for articles covering this story to add to your archive.
ENDS

The Australian Magazine 1993 on Gregory Clark’s modus operandi in Japan

mytest

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. At the start of this decade, I republished an article in the JALT PALE Journal (Spring 2001) regarding Gregory Clark, his business acumen regarding language teaching in Japan, and his motivations for being who he is in Japan.

Gregory Clark has recently called attention to himself with a bigoted Japan Times column, questioning our legitimacy to have or even demand equal rights in Japan.  As people debate his qualifications and motives all over again, I think it would be helpful to reproduce the following article in a more searchable and public venue. Like here.

I have heard claims that this article in The Australian was met with threat of lawsuit. Obviously that came to naught.  Since The Australian has given me direct permission to reproduce this article in full, let me do so once again here.  Still more on his disregard for facts of cases here.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

“OUR OTHER MAN IN JAPAN”
Courtesy of The Australian Magazine
16th October 1993, Edition 1. pp 26-41

(used with permission of The Australian Magazine)

He isn’t our ambassador, but he’d like to be. Invariably, Gregory Clark is the Australian the Japanese turn to for advice about themselves and other issues.
What riles him is that Australians don’t.

BY RICHARD McGREGOR

FULL PAGE PHOTO shows Clark smiling and standing in a park, with a young Japanese girl in full Seijinshiki-style kimono in the background taking a photo of something off-camera.

Caption: “Embittered expatriate Gregory Clark: ‘Even allowing for the vast amounts of ego, it’s just absurd that an Australian who has made it in Japan, and who sits on government committees, gets ignored.'”

Gregory Clark beams: “Just pulled in a biggie!” he tells me as he puts down the phone. We are at Tokyo Airport about to jump on a plane for Osaka where Clark is giving a lecture to a group of Japanese executives. The “biggie” is an invitation to give another talk–to one of Japan’s big business bodies. It’s nice to see him smiling, because he can be fearsome when he’s not.

Once, in the middle of a cordial argument while having a drink, I suggested he stop complaining about one of the many decades-old issues that still obsess him. That evening, it was the way he was run out of the Australian Foreign Affairs department for opposing the Vietnam war. It was as though someone had just shot puce-colored dye into his veins. His neck bulged, and he slammed the table. But a few mintues later, he was his charming self. Clark can be like that–especially when you get him on the subject of Australia.

Ex-Canberra bureaucrat, ex-journalist and ex-diplomat, Clark, 57, has lived in Japan in a sort of self-imposed exile from Australia since the late seventies. He teaches advanced Japanese to foreigners at a university in Tokyo, which is nice because it allows him to put the title of Professor in front of his name. It helps that he speaks advanced Japanese, too. He writes for up-scale newspapers and magazines in Japan and around the world, including an occasional column for The Australian; is setting up a management centre on 12 hectares of land he owns on the edge of Tokyo; and, a few times a week, gives lectures telling the Japanese in their own language about their unique “tribal” or “village-like” culture, at anything from $2500 to $6500 a time.

Clark has still had time over the years to pen the odd short book on different topics, sit on a range of Japanese government committees, and collect the rent on a residential property he owns in the heart of Tokyo, where even in the middle of a calamitous collapse, prices are embarassingly high by world standards. Prices are relative, of course, depending on when you get into the market and when you get out, but Clark got in early–well before the boom.

Add that to the proceeds from the occasional tickle on the Tokyo stockmarket — “the best way is to watch it, and short it,” he confides, referring to the practice of selling stock in anticipation of a price fall before buying again. And you can see that Japan has been good to him.

So Gregory Clark is rich and successful, and by a long-shot the most famous Australian in Japan. But is he happy? Not really, which is where Australia comes in.

Greg Clark is the first of nine children sired by Sir Colin Clark, a famous economist and statistician who is credited with measuring and describing concepts in the thirties that are part of everyday economic jargon these days. While working with one of the centuries most influential economists, John Maynard Keynes, at Cambridge University, Colin Clark coined and refined such terms as gross national product, and primary, secondary, and tertiary industry.

He came to Australia in 1937 and worked in a variety of government jobs, most priminently as head of the Treasury in the Queensland Government. He had stints back at Oxford and at Chicago University before returning to Australia where he died in 1989. “He became a Santamaria fanatic–you know, 25 acres and a pig and that sort of thing,” says his son. “Except he had 10 acres and nine children.”

Colin Clark was also the subject of a thesis just after the war by a young Japanese economist called Kiichi Miyazawa, who then rose through the bureaucratic and political ranks to become prime minister, a connection that hasn’t hurt his son since he arrived in Tokyo. Japan’s leading conservative daily, The Yomiuri Shimbun, also listed Clark as an academic contact of the country’s new Prime Minister, Morihiro Hosokawa.

Greg Clark joined the department of Foreign Affairs in 1956, studied Mandarin Chinese as part of language training in Hong Kong, and was later posted to the then Soviet Union where he remembers Canberra “made me go to explain to them all the time what terrible atrocities the Vietcong were committing”. This period, plus later study in Japan, has given him three foreign languages–Russian, Mandarin, and Japanese–which he speaks and reads in varying degrees of skill. In Japanese, he is virtually fluent.

These days, Australia is a subject you ohnly have to prod Clark with very lightly to get him going. He has a list of grievances which goes on and on: starting with victimisation when he opposed the Vietnam war and China policy, to the mistreatment he says he recevied while working as a bureaucrat in the Whitlam government, and finally, worst of all in his eyes, the way he claims he has been ignored by the academics and sometimes blackballed by diplomats in charge of the Japan industry in Australia.

“I just think it’s a tragedy–it’s a tragedy for me, and a tragedy for Australia,” he says. “Even allowing for the vast amounts of [his own] ego, it’s just absurd that an Australian, who has made it in Japan, and who sits on Government committees, and who would be known by every second person, gets ignored. It’s just totally ratshit.”

Clark’s big falling out with those around him was over his opposition to the Vietnam war. “The establishment turned the big guns on me,” he says, including, he claims, the pioneer of post-war Australia-Japan trade, Sir John Crawford. That was followed by a stint at the Australian National University in Canberra, where he aborted his Ph.D with only a few months to go to take up a job as this newspaper’s correspondent in Tokyo in 1969. Clark’s patron at this time was John Menadue, then general manager of News Limited, who got him the job in Tokyo, and then brought him home to work with him when Menadue became head of the Prime Minister’s department in the Whitlam government.

The Canberra experience ended badly. Clark felt he was sidelined by Menadue and let down by Whitlam. After the government fell, he burnt his bridges by penning an article for the National Times savagely critical of the Whitlam government, and returned to Japan to join his long-time partner, Yasuko Tano, and their two chldren and to rebuild his career as a writer and teacher.

Two years later, Menadue was back in Tokyo as Australian Ambassador, and according to his friends, was shocked at Clark’s reaction. “When John became ambassador, that sent Greg into a real frenzy whenever you’d mention him, and he wrote several articles disparaging the embassy because nobody in the diplomatic part of it could speak Japanese,” says one man who knows both Clark and Menadue. Clark maintains he never attacked Menadue personally. Menadue declined to comment for this article.

Clark’s relationship with the Foreign Affairs establishment was soured even further by an episode that occurred when he launched his book about Japan’s “tribal” society in the late seventies. As an example of Japan’s “tribalism” and “groupism”, he recounted how Japanese journalists based in Australia had collectively ignored a report published in local newspapers in the mid-seventies about how our intelligence agencies were eavesdropping on Japanese diplomatic traffic out of Canberra.

“By the way,” Clark recalls telling a Newsweek reporter in Tokyo when he was promoting the book, “you might want to look at the bottom of page 138” –where the incident was briefly mentioned. The result was a large story in the international news magazine, with a headline about an “ex-diplomat” revealing that Australia spied on its largest trading partner. Canberra was not amused, and Clark was put on the Australian Embassy’s black list in Tokyo.

“It was humiliating and degrading to have these ASIO types sitting in the embassy–these are uneducated people who don’t speak Japanese–deciding that I was a threat to Australian security,” he says. A former intelligence officer who served in the embassy in Japan confirmed that Clark had been put on a loose sort of “black list” restricting formal contacts because, the officer says, “of the narrowmindedness and sheer bastardry of senior officers in Canberra.”

At the same time, Clark was steaming over getting what he says was the cold shoulder from an organisation he says he helped set up in the early seventies, the Australia-Japan Research Centre at the ANU. The centre, which is important and influential in Japan studies and policy in Australia, was just beginning to flourish under its founder, Professor Peter Drysdale, who still heads it today. “I have never had any disagreement with Drysdale,” says Clark, “but I was completely excluded, and at the time, it hurt. Universities are not set up to do this sort of thing. Drysdale is not known in Japan, but I have sat on all these committees. I mean, what the hell is going on!”

Drysdale and Clark are a study in contrasts. The former, a low-profile mainstream academic who speaks only a little Japanese but has good contacts in the country, has been crucial in formulating Australia’s regional trade and Japan policies. Clark, an outspoken maverick with few self-censoring mechanisms, has been eagerly, but not always easily, ignored by Canberra’s policymakers.

Professor Drysdale, contacted in Canberra, declined to respond to Clark’s comments, but the Emeritus Professor of Economics at the ANU, Heinz Arndt, who supervised Clark’s Ph.D at the ANU until his student quit “to my utter disgust” just before he finished, remembers the problem this way. “Drysdale and the whole group were not happy about bringing him into the project, partly because he was in Tokyo, and partly because of differences in approaches and temperament. In other words, he is an extremely difficult person who thinks that anybody who disagrees with him is a complete idiot.”

Professor Arndt is not the only one who puts Clark’s problems down to his temperament. “Greg is a peculiar bloke–he has a knack of rubbing people up the wrong way,” says one person who knows him well. “That’s not something that just blossomed when he went back to Japan, and it’s always made it difficult to make people feel loyal to him. Greg does not have many loyal friends because he does not earn them. His assessment of himself is not a universally accepted one either. It would be difficult to mention any job from prime minister of the world down that Greg does not feel he could admirably fill.”

“Anyone who competes on the same turf is a bit of a hate figure,” says another friend of Clark’s.

But just as a chill set in for Clark in Australia, a new day dawned in Japan. Clark’s theories about Japan’s “village-like” society proved to be a big hit when delivered in Japanese by a foreigner. The lucrative speaking circuit opened up, and for the past 15-odd years he has toured the country giving different and updated versions of a similar lecture to business, industry and community associations. In a society with the depth, organisation and thirst for information of Japan, there is a rich vein to be mined–he has been to the city of Nagasaki, for example, about 16 times to talk to different groups.

Give up to 150 to 200 lectures a year, as he does, and it becomes a rewarding occupation. The fee depends on whom he is addressing, he tells me as we get on the plane to take us to Osaka where he is going to speak to executives from the iron and steel industries. Today rates as a middle-ranking engagement–an afternoon’s work for Y400,000 plus expenses, or about $5,500. “The people you screw are the companies, who are putting it on for the benefit of their customers,” he says. “the whole thing is purely commerical, so there is no hesitation in insisting on the full fee.”

The speech I hear him deliver to the steel executives group in Osaka is witty, fluid and delivered with a practiced panache and a stream of punch lines. The audience loves it. His host, Shizuka Hayashi of Daido Steel, tells me later that Clark’s “tribal” theories make lots of sense. “Professor Clark said the Japanese tend to cooperate when they are working in small groups. This was particularly good to hear because this is exactly what we are trying to do in our companies and workplaces,” he says. And what did he think of the Y400,000 price tag? “Well, to tell the truth,” he sayss, “it was more than we expected, but it was worth it.”

As any foreigner who comes to Japan realises, there is a fortune to be made in telling the Japanese about themselves. “I should have got in on this racket before,” Clark remembers thinking when he first realised what he had tapped into. “I would get up in the morning and pinch myself about what was happening. Suddenly, I was in a situation where nobody can touch me. It was night turned into day.”

Clark says later: “For a nation not to have any fundamental guiding principle–that’s what a tribe is. I am telling them you have to get rid of the kabuki and ikebana shit. You have to get people involved in this society, and people will get to appreciate Japan for what it is.” He continues: “The gaijin [foreigner] who comes here, and can speak with authority, gets far more attention than he deserves–because in this society, people can’t get up and say all sorts of things.”

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

Clark can get violently indignant about how people in Australia don’t recognise his achievements in Japan, including sitting on numerous special government advisory committees–the so-called shinigikai [sic]. Last year, for example, he was nominated by then prime minister Miyazawa to sit on a shinigikai on the future of the Japanese economy, but complains that nobody in the embassy ever contacted him to tap into what he had learnt. But in the next breath, he can drip with cynicism about the same same system, and the opportunities it offers people like him. “They are not inviting you [onto these committees] for your wisdom, you know,” he tells me at one stage. “They are asking you because of your celebrity status, so you have to keep it up.”

Clark’s message is especially value-added for a Japanese audience because his message is that Japan is unique is what many Japanese love to hear. “Unique?” he says. “I happen to agree with them. It does not do any harm [to be invited to speak], but I happen to believe it.”

Other see Clark’s proselytising of his “tribal” theories in a much more insidious light. One sharp critic is Dutch journalist Karel van Wolferen, the author of the iconoclastic 1989 best-seller The Enigma of Japanese Power. Van Wolferen’s book says ordinary Japanese are rendered powerless by something he calls “The System”, which consists of a raft of unofficial social controls not regulated by law, or subject to genuine political discussion. When the book came out, Clark said it was full of errors, and denounced it in a magazine as being venomously anti-Japanese and Eurocentric to the point of almost being racist.

Clark, van Wolferen responded, is a “foreign servant of The System” and the committees he serves on are there just to give an “illusion of democracy”. “Whether intentionally or not,” he wrote in the Gekkan Asahi magazine, “Mr Clark reassures Japanese readers all the time that it is true what they have always been told; that they are unique in a special way because of having constructed an advanced civilisation on ‘primary group’ values. This is certainly the kind of thing that Japanese occupying high positions in the institutions that share power want everybody to hear. I write many Japnese do not like to hear because it is the opposite: that consensus is, in fact, rare and difficult to achieve, that there is much intimidation in Japanese society, that it is much less cosy than the village-type society imagined and idealised by Mr Clark. So he reassures Japanese people that a Westerner like me who says such things is Western-centric and hates Japan… Another reason why I say that Mr Clark serves The System is that what he writes is only for Japanese consumption.

“No-one among those many foreigners who are interested in Japan, but who cannot read Japanese, has been able to consider his ideas in detail, because the book that has made him famous in Japan has never come out in any other language.” Ouch! Being a Japanese specialist is a bruising business. But if Clark is a “foreign servant of The System”, then not all of the bureaucrats realize it. Clark has enraged the Japanese Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, for example, by pursuing a campaign critical of its claim against Russia for the return of the four small islands to the north of Japan seized by Stalin at the end of the war. Clark’s assertion in numerous articles in the Japanese and international media that Tokyo gave up its claim years ago has been highly effective, something that can be gauged from how apoplectic some Japanese diplomats go at the mention of his name.

These battles get Clark attention in Japan, but they are not the ones closest to his heart. They remain at home. The mismanagement of the Australian economy and industry policy is one recurring theme. Canaberra’s fatal attraction to free trade is another. Both, of course, allow him to target the hated Canberra bureaucrats who he says forced him out. But many of his pet issues are still the same bureaucratic battles he fought in the sixties and seventies.

Going home is the only way to exorcise these bitter demons. Clark says he tried to return to the Australian mainstream by taking up an offer to become scholar-in-residence at the Foreign Affairs department in the mid-eighties, but claims the then minister, Bill Hayden, vetoed it. A spokeswoman for the now Governor-Genneral confirms he rejected, in April 1986, a suggestion that Mr Clark should get the position.

He also applied for the job of trade commissioner to China in the mid-eighties. “That would have been quite a comedown for me,” he says. “My idea was to take a loss of income for three to four years, and ideally use the job to get back into the bureaucracy.” He didn’t get the job. John Menadue, then head of the deapartment, is understood to have made his opposition clear. One member of the selection committee was Stephen Fitzgerald, Australia’s first ambassador to Beijing in 1972, and an old colleague of Clark’s from university in Canberra in the sixties, when both were studying Mandarin. Fitzgerald said he didn’t oppose Clark, but when Fitzgerald’s name comes up, Clark splutters: “He owes his position to me–the little bastard.”

It turns out that his complaint is nothing to do with the trade job, but goes all the way back to the sixties. Clark claims credit for getting Fitzgerald started in Chinese studies, but feels the favour was never returned. It is another demon.

“Ah, Greg, he’s a funny guy,” says Fitzgerald when I relay this comment. “I have a great respect for Greg — it was only a couple of years ago when we were talking about doing something between Japan and Australia. But he’s a kind of captive almost to this day of reliving the fights of the sixties as though he can’t escape them. It’s weird. When I was strting the Journal of Australian Chinese Studies, I wrote to him suggesting he write an article about Japan-China relations. He wrote back that it would be much more interesting to write about what happened in Foreign Affairs in 1965-66.” Clark’s obsession with the past makes it difficult to contribute in the present, even when he knows as much as any Australian about Japan and China, and much of Asia, and their languages.

“To be an oracle,” says Fitzgerald, “you must have an element of the protean. It’s all very well to be messianistic, but even messianics have to be manipulative. You have to adapt to people’s personalities. It requires a lot of crafting. You must suppress ego, and also your sponteneous tendency to be contemptuous of other people.” Clark gramaces when I tell him what Fitzgerald has said. Fitzgerald is right in a way, he admits. He should leave these things behind, but he still wants to stress that these are important issues. We have a beer and I leave. Wating for me when I come into my office early next morning is a three-page, densely typed fax. It contains a detailed account of what Clark calls the “main event” straining his ties with the Labor Party–a debate in the bureaucracy about the need for a treaty between Australia and Japan. It was a debate Clark lost. “I was left swinging in the wind, again,” he says. It is a remarkable document–full of fascinating insight, personalities, bitchiness and self-pity. It could be part of a great book about Clark’s life and times. He should write it himself. Put it all on the record. Let it all hang out.

Then, perhaps, he can get on with the rest of his life.

ARTICLE ENDS
========================

SUPPLIMENTARY NOTE FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:
I received a photocopy of this article from a person who has had professional contact with Clark. The sender enclosed a short memo saying the following:

“Dave, I have the dubious distinction of inviting him to lecture. A Y600,000 fee & airfares for a two-hour, not a second more, dated speech. I know, because we had a taped one from 8 years given previously. And he had the nerve to ask us to sell his books at the door. No question time, either.”

HELP JOURNAL FEATURE ON GREGORY CLARK ENDS

MORE ON HIS LIFE AND LINGUISTICS HERE

Irish Times on Jane v. NPA rape case (she lost, again)

mytest

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 from the Irish Times updating us on the rape case of Jane v. the Japanese police (she lost in Tokyo High Court last month). Riding that story is the execrable treatment of both victim and perpetrator under SOFA in Japan. I doubt we’ll see any changes under newly-anointed US Ambassador to Japan Joseph S. Nye, who values security uber alles. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Rape puts focus on dark corner of US-Japan alliance

The Irish Times Mon, Jan 26, 2009, courtesy of SS
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2009/0126/1232923365932.html

An Australian woman ‘doubly violated’ in Japan in 2002 fights on for justice, writes David McNeill

AROUND THE nondescript Tokyo suburb where she lives with her three children, Jane is a well-known face. Foreign in an area crowded with Japanese, the Australian with Kildare roots has taught English for years here among neighbours who greet her warmly on the street.

Few know that her life is consumed by a fight against one of the world’s most powerful military alliances and a secret agreement that she says allows its crimes to go unpunished.

In a room cluttered with the detritus of her seven-year struggle, she tells her story, which begins with a violent sexual assault. On April 6th, 2002, Jane was raped by American sailor Bloke T Deans in a car park near the US Yokosuka Navy Base south west of Tokyo. Shocked and bleeding, she ended up in the small hours inside the local police station, where what she calls her second violation began. During a 12-hour interview with a team of policemen that stretched into the middle of the next day, she says she was “mocked”, refused food, medical aid and water and treated like a criminal.

Her demands for a paper cup for her urine, which she believed contained the sperm of her attacker, were ignored until, crying with rage and frustration, she flushed the evidence of her rape down the station toilet. Then she was taken back to the car park where she was forced to re-enact the assault for police cameras.

Her ordeal was branded “one of the worst cases of police revictimisation I have ever seen” by John Dussich, president of the World Society for Victimology, but it was just beginning. Deans was quickly found nearby, aboard the giant US aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, then for reasons that remain murky, released. He was demobbed and slipped out of Japan, under the protection, believes Jane, of the military and perhaps the Japanese authorities. He lives today in the US city of Milwaukee.

“The military deliberately discharged Deans knowing full well that there were charges against him,” she says, drawing on the first of several cigarettes. She believes that Deans was let go to spare the US navy and its Japanese host embarrassment, forcing her to track him across America.

“I’m not ever going to give up until justice is served and that will happen when Deans faces me in court,” she says.

Jane is one of hundreds of women assaulted by US military personnel annually around the world, including in Japan, home to over 80 American bases and about 33,000 troops. The military presence is blamed for over 200,000 mostly off-duty crimes since the Japan-America Security Alliance was created in the early 1950s.

The bulk are petty offences but in one of the most notorious, a 12-year-old schoolgirl was raped and left for dead by three US serviceman on the southern island of Okinawa, reluctant home to nearly three-quarters of all US military facilities in Japan.

That 1995 crime shook the half-century alliance, sparking huge anti-US rallies and cries of “never again”. Last year a 14-year-old was raped by a US marine, one of several similar assaults against Japanese and Filipino women.

Protests forced the US military to set up recently a “sexual assault prevention unit”. Opponents say, however, that the incidents are an inevitable consequence of transplanting young and often traumatised trained killers into a local population they neither know nor respect.

Tensions between locals and the military are exacerbated by extraterritorial rights enjoyed by US personnel under the Status of Forces Agreement, which often allows them to avoid arrest for minor and sometimes even serious crimes. The agreement was reinforced by a recently uncovered deal between Washington and Tokyo to waive secretly jurisdiction against US soldiers in all but the most serious crimes, according to researcher Shoji Niihara.

Under pressure from increasingly angry citizens, Japan has, however, toughened its response to crimes by off-duty American soldiers. In 2006, Kitty Hawk airman Oliver Reese was sentenced to life imprisonment in a Japanese court for a robbery/murder, also in Yokosuka. The court heard Reese repeatedly stomped on the body of Yoshie Sato (56), rupturing her liver and kidney after she refused to hand over 15,000 yen. He spent the money on a sex show.

Sato’s fiance, Masanori Yamazaki, initially treated as a suspect in the murder, welcomes the conviction but argues that Reese was given preferential treatment. “He was eligible for the death penalty but it wasn’t considered. I believe that in trying to protect the Japan-US Alliance, the government is not protecting its citizens.”

Last year, bureaucrats from Japan’s ministry of defence offered Yamazaki a blank cheque as compensation for Sato’s death.

“They told me to fill in the amount I wanted. But they were going to demand the money from Reese’s family . . . It is the Japanese government that loans them the land and the US military that employs them. They are to blame but they have absolutely no sense of responsibility.”

The offer of what some victims call “shut-up money” was made to Jane too, this time from a fund used by the defence ministry to compensate the victims of US military crimes in Japan.

The three-million-yen cheque equalled the unpaid amount awarded by a Tokyo civil court, which convicted her attacker in his absence in 2004.

In search of further retribution, Jane sued her police tormentors, fighting all the way to an appeal in the Tokyo High Court, which ruled against her in December. She is liable for all legal costs.

“The financial and emotional burdens have been enormous,” she admits, adding that she has repeatedly faced eviction from her house. “With my post-traumatic stress disorder, I’ve lost a lot of students as well. But at what point do you say, ‘I don’t care anymore.’ I just can’t do that.”

In case she forgets, a poster of Deans captioned: “Wanted for Rape,” sits inches away. Two days before our interview she called his Milwaukee house after being tipped off about his whereabouts. “I spoke to his daughter,” she says nervously. “I’m discussing now with my lawyers what to do.”

In an effort to publicise her case, and banish some ghosts, she has just written a book about her experience. Due for publication in March, the title comes from something a rape victim on Okinawa told Jane after she gave a speech there to an anti-base rally. “She said, ‘I’m going to live my life from today.’ That moved me.”

She continues to write letters to Japanese and US politicians, including new president Barack Obama, demanding they extradite her assailant and shine a light into a small but dark corner of the Pacific alliance.

“My number one priority is getting Deans on trial . . .” she says.

“You know, I was guilty until I could prove myself innocent; he is innocent until I can prove him guilty. How fair is that?”

ENDS

Question on Welfare Assistance (seikatsu hogo) and privacy rights

mytest

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. Got a question from TtoT at The Community today that deserves answering. In these days of mass layoffs and people on unemployment insurance, apparently the welfare offices are able to call up relatives and check to see if applicants really are financially as badly off as they say. As the poster points out below, there are privacy issues involved. Anyone know more about this? If so, comments section. Thanks. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

I’ll state from the outset that I am in strange waters on this one,
but an acquaintance from years back that remembers our old group and
the help we offered rang me up a few hours ago and asked me an
interesting question. It has had me poking around the Net and
thinking very hard. Now I turn to y’all.

She and her husband have applied for seikatsuhogo, or welfare
assistance. I knew nothing about this, so I went to the Ministry of
Health, Labour, and Welfare website and found this
http://www.mhlw.go.jp/bunya/seikatsuhogo/seikatuhogo.html

Okay, so far so good. But here’s why she called me. It seems that
one of the requirements for receiving this welfare is that the local
government will call relatives and ask about their ability to help
this lady’s family. This seems to be a big problem. Her husband now
seems to be shamed into not applying for help.

But the reason she called me was because she is wondering about a
government agency calling a *relative* and essentially providing
private information, which is that this family is in serious
financial trouble and asking for help from the government.

I just don’t have a clue here, but something does feel odd here.
There must be some sort of regulations related to government workers
passing along information to outsiders. I mean those outside the
immdediate family. The first thing that comes to mind is how they
define *relative*. And why I put it in special marks in the previous
paragraph.

Do any of you know anything about this? Do any of you know where I
can find the regulations pertaining to government responsibility in
maintaining private information? Oddly enough, I can’t find a
government document outlining their regulations, but I assume that’s
just because of my poor Japanese.

Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.
ENDS

Wash Post on GOJ efforts to get Brazilian workers to stay

mytest

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. Long article last week about an apparent turning point in GOJ policy to try to train NJ workers to stay. Good. The only cloud I can find in this silver lining is why so much concentration on Brazilian workers? There are Peruvians, Chinese, Filipinas/Filipinos and other nationalities here that deserve some assistance too.

Did the reporter just stick to his contacts in the Brazilian communities, or is the program only directed towards the blood-tie Nikkei because they’re “Japanese” in policymaker eyes (not a stretch; that was the reason why Keidanren pushed for establishing their special “returnee visa” status)? If the latter, then we have Nikkei Peruvians that needed to be covered in this article too. Sorry, nice try, but this report feels incomplete. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Japan Works Hard to Help Immigrants Find Jobs
Population-Loss Fears Prompt New Stance
By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, January 23, 2009; A01

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/22/AR2009012204150.html

UEDA, Japan — The last thing that aging Japan can afford to lose is young people. Yet as the global economic crisis flattens demand for Japanese cars and electronic goods, thousands of youthful, foreign-born factory workers are getting fired, pulling their children out of school and flying back to where they came from.

Paulino and Lidiane Onuma have sold their car and bought plane tickets for Sao Paulo, Brazil. They are going back next month with their two young daughters, both of whom were born here in this factory town. His job making heavy machinery for automobile plants ends next week. She lost her job making box lunches with black beans and spicy rice for the city’s Brazilian-born workers, most of whom have also been dismissed and are deciding whether to leave Japan.

“We have no desire to go home,” said Paulino Onuma, 29, who has lived here for 12 years and earned about $50,000 a year, far more than he says he could make in Brazil. “We are only going back because of the situation.”

That situation — the extreme exposure of immigrant families to job loss and their sudden abandonment of Japan — has alarmed the government in Tokyo and pushed it to create programs that would make it easier for jobless immigrants to remain here in a country that has traditionally been wary of foreigners, especially those without work.

“Our goal is to get them to stay,” said Masahiko Ozeki, who is in charge of an interdepartmental office that was established this month in the cabinet of Prime Minister Taro Aso. “As a government, we have not done anything like this before.”

Japanese-language courses, vocational training programs and job counseling are being put together, Ozeki said, so immigrants can find work throughout the Japanese economy. There is a shortage of workers here, especially in health care and other services for the elderly.

So far, government funding for these emerging programs is limited — slightly more than $2 million, far less than will be needed to assist the tens of thousands of foreign workers who are losing jobs and thinking about giving up on Japan. But Ozeki said the prime minister will soon ask parliament for considerably more money — exactly how much is still being figured out — as part of a major economic stimulus package to be voted on early this year.

The government’s effort to keep jobless foreigners from leaving the country is “revolutionary,” according to Hidenori Sakanaka, former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau and now director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, a research group in Tokyo.

“Japan has a long history of rejecting foreign residents who try to settle here,” he said. “Normally, the response of the government would have been to encourage these jobless people to just go home. I wouldn’t say that Japan as a country has shifted its gears to being an immigrant country, but when we look back on the history of this country, we may see that this was a turning point.”

Sakanaka said the government’s decision will send a much-needed signal to prospective immigrants around the world that, if they choose to come to Japan to work, they will be treated with consideration, even in hard economic times.

There is a growing sense among Japanese politicians and business leaders that large-scale immigration may be the only way to head off a demographic calamity that seems likely to cripple the world’s second-largest economy.

No country has ever had fewer children or more elderly as a percentage of its total population. The number of children has fallen for 27 consecutive years. A record 22 percent of the population is older than 65, compared with about 12 percent in the United States. If those trends continue, in 50 years, the population of 127 million will have shrunk by a third; in a century, by two-thirds.

Japan will have two retirees for every three workers by 2060, a burden that could bankrupt pension and health-care systems.

Demographers have been noisily fretting about those numbers for years, but only in the past year have they grabbed the attention of important parts of this country’s power structure.

A group of 80 politicians in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said last summer that Japan needs to welcome 10 million immigrants over the next 50 years. It said the goal of government policy should not be just to “get” immigrants, but to “nurture” them and their families with language and vocational training, and to encourage them to become naturalized citizens of Japan.

The country’s largest business federation, the traditionally conservative Nippon Keidanren, said in the fall that “we cannot wait any longer to aggressively welcome necessary personnel.” It pointed to U.N. calculations that Japan will need 17 million foreigners by 2050 to maintain the population it had in 2005.

Among highly developed countries, Japan has always ranked near the bottom in the percentage of foreign-born residents. Just 1.7 percent are foreign-born here, compared with about 12 percent in the United States.

The Japanese public remains deeply suspicious of immigrants. In an interview last year, then-Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda suggested that the prospect of large-scale immigration was politically toxic.

“There are people who say that if we accept more immigrants, crime will increase,” Fukuda said. “Any sudden increase in immigrants causing social chaos [and] social unrest is a result that we must avoid by all means.”

Here in Ueda, a city of about 125,000 people in the Nagano region, a recent survey found that residents worried that the city’s 5,000 immigrants were responsible for crime and noise pollution.

“The feeling of the city is that if foreigners have lost their jobs, then they should leave the country,” said Kooji Horinouti, a Brazilian immigrant of Japanese descent who works for the Bank of Brazil here and heads a local immigrant group.

It is not just the residents of Ueda. The Japanese government, until this month, had done little to train foreign-born workers in the country’s language or to introduce them to life outside the factory towns where most of them work, according to Sakanaka, the immigration expert.

By contrast, the German government in recent years has offered up to 900 hours of subsidized language training to immigrants, along with other programs designed to integrate them into German society.

Japan had moved much, much more slowly.

It changed its highly restrictive immigration laws in 1990 to make it relatively easy for foreigners of Japanese descent to live here and work. The change generated the greatest response from Brazil, which has the world’s largest population of immigrant Japanese and their descendants.

About 500,000 Brazilian workers and their families — who have Japanese forebears but often speak only Portuguese — have moved to Japan in the past two decades.

They have lived, however, in relatively isolated communities, clustered near factories. Because the government hired few Portuguese-speaking teachers for nearby public schools, many Brazilians enrolled their children in private Portuguese-language schools. With the mass firings of Brazilian workers in recent months, many of those schools have closed.

Paulino and Lidiane Onuma sent their 6-year-old daughter, Juliana, to the Novo Damasco school here in Ueda, where she has not learned to speak Japanese.

Her parents, too, speak and read little Japanese, although they moved to Japan as teenagers. There has been no government-sponsored program to teach them the language or how to negotiate life outside their jobs.

“Japan is finally realizing that it does not have a system for receiving and instructing non-Japanese speakers,” said Sakanaka, the immigration policy expert. “It is late, of course, but still, it is important that the government has come to see this is a problem.”

Had they known there would be language and job-training programs in Ueda, the Onuma family might not have sold their car and bought those tickets for Sao Paulo.

“If those programs existed now,” Lidiane Onuma said, “I might have made a different choice.”

Special correspondent Akiko Yamamoto contributed to this report.

ENDS

UN News on upcoming Durban human rights summit and Gitmo

mytest

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.  Two posts from UN NEWS that are tangental but within the pale of Debito.org.

First up is news about the next big human rights summit in Durban, South Africa.  The last one was at the beginning of this decade.  Those interested in attending (I would, but again, no money) might want to start making plans.

Second, I was asked recently by a friend, “What do you want to see Obama do immediately after taking office?”  I answered back with a question, “You mean personally, or big-picture?”  Both.  “Okay, personally, state publicly that the USA will not support any application by Japan to the UN Security Council until it honors its treaty promises, including passing an enforceable law against racial discrimination.”  But that’s easily backburnerable.  “But big-picture, I want to see Obama close Guantanamo, that running sore of human-rights abuses that is arguably doing more to encourage anti-American sentiment worldwide than anything else.”

Well, the big-picture was precisely what Obama took steps to do his first working day in office.  Bravo.  And the UN recognizes it as such.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

=============================
MEMBER STATES BEGIN PREPARATORY TALKS FOR UPCOMING UN ANTI-RACISM CONFERENCE
UN NEWS New York, Jan 20 2009 3:00PM

A working group made up of United Nations Member States has begun formal negotiations on a draft outcome document for the so-called Durban Review Conference later this year, which will examine the progress made worldwide since the 2001 global anti-racism summit held in the South African city.

The review conference will be held in Geneva in April to monitor and accelerate progress towards the implementation of measures adopted at the landmark 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

Members of the working group have agreed to use a 38-page draft document as the basis for their negotiations, which will take place during its formal session ending on Friday and continue afterwards in informal meetings.

The group has two further formal meetings before the Review Conference is held from 20 to 24 April, and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has launched a website dedicated to the Conference and its preparatory process.

The website is online in English at www.un.org/durbanreview2009 and will soon be available in the other official UN languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.
________________

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

===============================
US DECISION TO CLOSE GUANTÁNAMO BAY DETENTION CENTRE HAILED BY UN RIGHTS CHIEF
UN NEWS New York, Jan 22 2009 3:00PM

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has welcomed today’s decision by the new United States administration to close the detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, as well as the decision to ban methods of interrogation that contravene international law.

Navi Pillay also called for a review of the US approach to detaining individuals abroad, in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the practice of ‘rendition,’ in order to ensure conformity with international law.

“The fact that President [Barack] Obama has placed such a high priority on closing Guantánamo and set in motion a system to safeguard the fundamental rights of the detainees there is extremely encouraging,” she stated.

“The United States has in the past been a staunch supporter of international human rights law, and this is one of the reasons that the regime that was established in Guantánamo has been viewed as so damaging,” the High Commissioner added.

“Water-boarding and other forms of interrogation that may amount to torture, detention for prolonged periods without trial or proper judicial review, and what became known as ‘extraordinary rendition’ – these are all aberrations that should never have happened,” stated Ms. Pillay.

The UN’s human rights chief also welcomed the fact that President Obama’s Executive Order issued today sets a framework for regularizing the situation of the remaining detainees in Guantánamo.

She also raised the issue of compensation for those judged to be innocent and called for a thorough investigation into allegations of torture at the Guantánamo centre.

“Under international law, there is an absolute prohibition against torture, and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” she said. “There must be accountability for those who have ordered such practices or carried them out, and victims should receive recompense.”

Ms. Pillay saluted Mr. Obama for taking such an important step so swiftly upon taking office. “This is a good day for the rule of law,” she noted.
________________

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

ENDS

2-Channel’s Nishimura sells off his golden goose

mytest

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.  After years of online threats against me (by people who can neither do research or demonstrate any reading comprehension) for apparently either bankrupting their beloved 2-Channel, or taking it over through lawsuit victory (both untrue, but anonymous Netizen bullies never held truth or fact in high regard), 2-Channel founder and coordinator Nishimura Hiroyuki sold off his golden goose.  One which he claimed made him a comfortable living — and a safe haven from libel lawsuits.

No longer.  If he ever sets foot in the real world, with a real salary and a real traceable bank account, he’ll never earn money again.  There are dozens of people who have an outstanding lien on his assets thanks to court rulings against him.  I am among them.  He knows that.  Let’s see how many steps this abetting polluter of cyberspace can keep ahead of the authorities.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

======================================= 
2channel founder ponders next step after forum’s sale
 

The Japan Times: Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009

 

By ALEX MARTIN, Staff writer, Courtesy of MS

A short message recently posted on Hiroyuki Nishimura’s personal blog sent shock waves across the online community. In a single sentence dated Jan. 2, he announced that he had sold 2channel, his wildly popular Internet forum.

News photo
Upstart: Hiroyuki Nishimura, 2channel founder, speaks with The Japan Times in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, Monday. ALEX MARTIN PHOTO

The news, and further revelations that rights to the Web site were handed over to a little-known Singapore-based company, immediately raised concerns and questions among Internet users and the media over the fate of what has been called the world’s largest and Japan’s most influential online forum.

“I thought it might be interesting if I sold it (2channel) off, to see if there would be any difference if it was owned by a company, rather than myself,” Nishimura told The Japan Times this week during the first long interview with the media after he made the surprising announcement.

Details of the company, Packet Monster Inc., and Nishimura’s intentions behind the action remain unclear. Speculation abounds, however, that the move may be a legal trick to deflect further lawsuits filed against Nishimura for the site’s frequently libelous content.

Nishimura also declined comment on the price tag attached to the Web site, which was owned and managed by Nishimura alone with the help of an army of volunteers, backed by a server in San Francisco.

Since he founded it 10 years ago, 2channel has revolutionized the role the Internet plays in public opinion by permitting Japanese to express anonymously their innermost sentiments, uncensored and unfiltered — a rarity in a nation known for decorum.

Nishimura himself compares 2channel with the sprawling, seedy pleasure zone in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo. The Web site is the Kabukicho of cyberspace, he says — a place where people tired of clean, well-regulated daily life can repair to be themselves and indulge their baser instincts.

The forum is notorious for libelous postings that target individuals or institutions. And although the site does have a rule calling for deletion of such postings, its sheer size makes that difficult.

Nishimura — known by his first name Hiroyuki in online communities and Japanese media — has lost most of the lawsuits but has so far adamantly ignored court rulings and refused to pay the hundreds of million of yen he owes in penalties.

And now he is making things even more difficult for litigants by selling the site to a new owner and planning a possible move abroad.

“When I was managing the site, I was the one getting sued. But I don’t go to trials, and I haven’t paid a single yen. In that sense, I guess nothing will change,” Nishimura, 32, replied when asked whether the incorporation of the forum would alter his stance toward the sea of litigation and rulings he faces.

A communications ministry official raised suspicions that the handover would further complicate any future judicial process involving the forum.

“If a lawsuit is filed against 2channel from now, in general I believe the company in Singapore would be the one handling it,” the official said, stressing that in either case, everything depended on Nishimura’s future involvement with the Web site, and that they lacked sufficient information to make any assertions.

Founded by Nishimura in 1999 during his year studying in Arkansas, 2channel has ballooned over the years in both the number of users — an estimated 10 million currently — and its social implication. The forum’s hundreds of boards and thousands of threads dealing with vast and far-ranging topics have had both companies and authorities monitoring the site for anything from recent trends to the latest anonymous tip on murder threats.

Most recently, this month an anonymous warning led police to arrest a Hokkaido man for posting messages on 2channel threatening to kill Mongolian sumo superstar Asashoryu.

Its scope and influence have on occasion propelled it into the realm of bullying, with angry users ganging up and hacking or crashing other Web sites.

Dentsu Buzz Research, a division of advertisement giant Dentsu Inc. that analyzes blogs and forum articles posted on the Net by consumers, told The Japan Times that out of the more than 2.8 billion articles they have monitored since November 2006, 75 percent were posted on 2channel.

The research division’s spokesman said, “2channel is extremely influential as an online information source, and cannot be ignored.”

When questioned whether there would be any change in 2channel operations that accommodated the shift in management, Nishimura gave the ambiguous response: “I won’t be the one making the decisions, I guess.”

He explained that he used to be the main moderator when an online discussion became heatedly divisive and needed direction, but that job would now be the company’s.

“But I don’t think 2channel will change much. I mean, there’s no need to alter anything about it,” he added with his signature nonchalance.

However, Nishimura also said that if the new management seeks his advice in 2channel’s operations, he would be willing to help. Asked if that meant he was taking on the task of an adviser, he said, “Yeah, I guess you can call it something like that.”

Nishimura’s ambivalence in clarifying his stance caused a stir in the online community when he appeared live on Jan. 12 on an online video hosted by Nico Nico Douga, a popular video-sharing Web site that Nishimura helped develop. There he commented on 2channel’s future policy regarding news threads, prompting many to question whether he was still managing the bulletin board system after his announcement of a handover.

Jiro Makino, a lawyer and expert on Internet law, said it was possible the company in Singapore was outsourcing 2channel’s operations to Japan, maybe even to Nishimura himself, while taking on legal responsibilities. “But whatever the case, I’d have to see the actual contract in order to figure out what really went on,” he said.

Makino added that his office has handled court cases against Nishimura in the past, and that many of the rulings could not be enforced since his people could not determine Nishimura’s true address, something necessary when mailing important documents and carrying forward the judicial process.

“He uses a false address. Last year I actually visited the address in Shinjuku that he was registered under, but the place was abandoned. He’s basically roaming around, itinerant,” Makino said. His office was also unaware where Nishimura kept his assets, he added, probably because the defendant shifted his accounts frequently to avoid seizure.

“The police cannot be called in since these are all civil cases,” he said.

Despite Nishimura’s legal scuffles, he remains a charismatic figure in online communities and the media, although he doesn’t consider himself a celebrity and expresses distaste at the possibility of being treated as one.

“It would be a pain in the ass if I had a lot of fans coming after me,” he said.

Nishimura said he preferred staying home, playing games (he said he gets more of a buzz playing video games than anything else), reading books and watching movies than being in the spotlight. “It’s like I’m retired already. I’m living the life that I imagined when I was a kid,” he said.

Seiji Sugimoto, president of Niwango, Inc., which operates Nico Nico Douga, said Nishimura — a board member of the company — was the innovative force behind the firm who came up with various new ideas to develop its Web content. “I guess you can call Hiroyuki sort of an evangelist,” Sugimoto said.

Evangelist or not, Nishimura acknowledged the somewhat unfavorable image attached to 2channel, but said it helped the BBS carve out a niche for itself.

“Some people like hanging out in Omote-sando, where it’s clean and nice, but some prefer the chaos of Kabukicho,” Nishimura said. “And I don’t think there are that many places (online) that provide that.”

Regarding the issue of online anonymity, Nishimura said that if the current recession continues, he believed an increasing number of people will begin revealing their true identities.

“For people who are on the verge of losing their jobs or who are not part of an organization in the first place, the downsides are equal, real name or not,” Nishimura said, adding that most of 2channel’s criminal threats were posted by those who were unemployed or students.

“I think people who have nothing to lose will begin shedding their anonymity,” he said.

Asked what he plans for the future, Nishimura said he may move overseas in the midterm, if not as early as this year. “Considering the upside and downside of me staying in Japan, I wonder what the point is” in remaining, he said.

Nishimura said he already spent a lot of time last year traveling, both privately and for business, saving up airline frequent flyer mileage so he can “go somewhere that’s cheap.”

“You can work anywhere as long as you can receive e-mails,” he said.

The Japan Times: Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009
ENDS

Kirk Masden on NJ crime down for three years, yet not discussed in media.

mytest

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. Word from Kirk Masden from The Community, writing on a topic of import. Quoting in full, comment follows:

========================
Dear friends, I was interested in Debito’s latest Newsletter. In it, he introduces another fear-mongering article in the Sankei:

3) Sankei: manual to help NJ “illegal overstays” evade police
— snip —
http://www.debito.org/?p=2126

This article, in turn, refers briefly to the Sankei’s history of exaggerating the rise in “foreign crime”:

http://www.debito.org/thecommunity/sankei050100.html

Well, that reminded me of something I found in doing my class preparation for my annual lecture on “foreign crime” statistics (as in “lies, damn lies, and statistics” 101): non-Japanese crime numbers are substantially down for three years in a row (four, depending on how you count them) — despite increasing population!!

See the statistics for yourself (in Japanese pdf files):

http://www.npa.go.jp/sosikihanzai/kokusaisousa/kokusai5/20a/contents.htm

Particularly
http://www.npa.go.jp/sosikihanzai/kokusaisousa/kokusai5/20a/3.pdf

Interesting, isn’t it, that this hasn’t been discussed much in the press!

Kirk Masden, writing for The Community
========================

COMMENT: Quite. If crime had gone up, if history is any guide, you definitely would have heard about it.  Instead, we get biased articles like the one in the Mainichi headlining that NJ crime fell in English, yet rose in Japanese. The impact, as they admit, is different. So is zeroing in on them for being “unmannerly” and spoiling it for everyone.  Who’s spoiling it for whom?  

If you can’t say something nice…  say it in print, I guess.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Kyodo: Brazilian workers protest layoffs at J companies

mytest

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’m glad the media is picking this up. People who have been here for decades are being laid off. And instead of getting the representation that shuntou regularly entitles regular Japanese workers, they’re resorting to the only thing they have left (save repatriation): Taking it to the streets.

A reliable source told me yesterday that he expects “around 40%” of Brazilian workers to return to Brazil. They shouldn’t have to: They’ve paid their dues, they’ve paid their taxes, and some will be robbed of their pensions. They (among other workers) have saved Japanese industries, keeping input costs internationally competitive. Yet they’re among the first to go. A phenomenon not unique to Japan, but their perpetual temp status (and apparent non-inclusion in “real” unemployment stats, according to some media) is something decryable. Glad they themselves are decrying it and the media is listening. Kyodo article follows, with more on Japan Probe. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Brazilian workers protest layoffs

TOKYO —Some 200 Brazilian workers on Sunday protested over layoffs by Japanese companies, which are forcing many of them to leave the country despite their community having been integrated in Japan for more than two decades. The demonstrators, who included mothers with their children, marched through the center of the Ginza shopping district, calling for the government’s support for stable employment.

The crowd, many holding Brazilian flags, demanded “employment for 320,000” Brazilians in Japan. “We are Brazilians!” they shouted in unison. “Companies must stop using us like disposable labor.” Since 1990, Japan has given special working visas to hundreds of thousands of Brazilians of Japanese descent, many of whom have taken up temporary positions as manual laborers in factories.

Amid the global economic downturn, however, many are being laid off and being forced to return to Brazil. They are often overshadowed by the 85,000 Japanese contract workers also said to be losing their jobs by March.

“No matter how hard we worked in Japan, we are being cut off because we are contract laborers,” said Midori Tateishi, 38, who came to Japan nearly 20 years ago. “Many of us are totally at a loss with children and a housing loan.”

Wire reports

ENDS

IMADR: 管理ではなく「共生」のための制度を!—入管法改悪「在留カード」制度 など

mytest

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
**********************************************************************
                             2009年1月21日
          ★IMADRインフォメーション★
                               【No.140】
**********************************************************************

——————————————————————————————————— 
◆目次◆
——————————————————————————————————— 
1)管理ではなく「共生」のための制度を!—入管法改悪「在留カード」制度
  に反対する外国籍&日本籍市民の共同集会—
2)イベントなどの予定
3)IMADR-INFO配信について

━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━
1.管理ではなく「共生」のための制度を!
 —入管法改悪「在留カード」制度に反対する
                  外国籍&日本籍市民の共同集会—
———————————————————————————————————
※IMADR-JCが参加する外国人人権法連絡会が呼びかけ団体となっているイベン
 トです。

■開催趣旨
 戦後一貫して続いてきた出入国管理法(入管法)と外国人登録法(外登法)
の二法による在日外国人管理体制が、いま大きく変わろうとしています。外国
人の出入国と在留管理を全て法務大臣(入管法)の下に一元化して、新たに
「在留カード」を導入するとともに、外国人登録法を廃止し「外国人台帳制度」
を新設するというのがその大きな柱です。今春、通常国会に関連法案が提出さ
れます。この変化は、決して在日外国人の人権保障を意図したものではありま
せん。とくに、これまでは外国人登録の対象であった非正規滞在者(オーバー
ステイ)らが「外国人台帳制度」から排除されることで、基本的人権がさらに
侵害されるという重大な問題を孕んでいます。
 この集会では、直接の当事者である外国籍市民と、いつ当事者になるかわか
らない日本籍市民が共になって、いま政府が進めようとしている法制度改悪の
問題を明らかにし、あるべき制度のあり方を提示することを目的にしています。
 多くの方のご参加をお待ちしています。

■開催概要
・主催: 「在留カードに異議あり!」NGO実行委員会
     (呼びかけ団体:外国人人権法連絡会)
・日時: 2009年1月24日(土) 午後 2時〜5時
・場所: 在日本韓国YMCAアジア青少年センター 9Fホール
    (東京都千代田区猿楽町2-5-5)
    *JR「水道橋」駅徒歩6分、「御茶ノ水」駅徒歩9分、
     地下鉄「神保町」駅徒歩7分)
    [地図]http://www.ymcajapan.org/ayc/jp/
・資料代: 500円(英語同時通訳あり)

■プログラム
1. ビデオ上映 「2007年11月20日 法務省前」
2. 報告(1)「外国人管理は何処へ」:旗手 明さん(自由人権協会)
3. 報告(2)「住民登録」とは何か:西邑 亨さん(反住基ネット連絡会)
4. 報告(3)「在留カード」徹底批判:難波 満さん(弁護士)
5. 外国籍市民のリレートーク
6. NGOのリレーアピール:渡辺英俊さん(移住連共同代表)/
田中宏さん(龍谷大学教授)/丹羽雅雄さん(弁護士)/ほか
7. 特別報告「自由権規約第5回日本報告書に対する
自由権規約委員会の最終見解」:大曲由起子さん(移住連)
8. 特別アピール:外国人研修生権利ネットワーク
9. 「在留カード制度に反対するNGO共同声明」採択

■お問合せ先
・在日韓国人問題研究所(RAIK) 
    Email: raik@abox5.so-net.ne.jp
・移住労働者と連帯する全国ネットワーク(移住連)
    Tel: 03-5802-6033 Email: fmwj@jca.apc.org

━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━
2.イベントなどの予定
———————————————————————————————————
◇2009年1月◇
 24(土)IMADR/IMADR-JCボランティアガイダンス
     http://www.imadr.org/japan/event/imadr_imadr-jc_main/post_38/

     管理ではなく「共生」のための制度を!—入管法改悪「在留カード」
     制度に反対する外国籍&日本籍市民の共同集会—
     http://www.imadr.org/japan/event/IMADR_IMADR-JC_sub/post_40/

◇2月◇
 14(土)IMADR/IMADR-JCボランティアガイダンス

         ◇IMADR-JC入会・参加のご案内◇
         http://www.imadr.org/japan/joinus/

━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━
3.IMADR-INFO配信について
———————————————————————————————————
このメールマガジンは、まぐまぐが提供するサービスにより運営しています。
配送停止を希望される方は、お手数ですが下記IMADRホームページより配送解
除を行って下さい。メールアドレスを変更される際は、現在のアドレスへの配
送解除の後、新しいアドレスをご登録ください。
なお、「ウィークリーまぐまぐ」は、http://www.mag2.com/wmag/
から解除することができます。

購読登録・解除用アドレス
http://www.imadr.org/japan/joinus/#a000200

**********************************************************************
発行元:
 反差別国際運動(IMADR)    
  Tel: 03-3586-7447  Fax: 03-3586-7462 E-mail: imadris@imadr.org
 反差別国際運動日本委員会(IMADR-JC) 
  Tel: 03-3568-7709  Fax: 03-3586-7448 E-mail: imadrjc@imadr.org

 〒106-0032 東京都港区六本木3-5-11  Website: http://www.imadr.org
**********************************************************************
◎IMADRインフォメーション
のバックナンバー・配信停止はこちら
http://archive.mag2.com/0000169133/index.html
このメールに返信すれば、発行者さんへ感想を送れます

Public Meeting: NGOs protest new Gaijin Card System Sat Jan 24 Tokyo

mytest

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 against the government’s new plan
to introduce “Zairyu Kaado (resident card)” system

We want a system for a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society, but not for control!
———————————————————————
Date: Saturday, 24 January 2009
Time: 14:00 – 17:00
Venue: B1F, YMCA Asia Youth Center
2-5-5 Sarugaku-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0064, Japan
JR Suidobashi sta. 6min, Ochanomizu sta. 9min, Subway Jimbocho sta 7min
http://www.ymcajapan.org/ayc/jp/
Admission: 500 yen
Simultaneous translation service available (Japanese-English)

Organized by:
NGO Committee against the introduction of “Zairyu Kaado (resident card)” system

For further information:
Research-Action Institute for The Koreans in Japan (RAIK)
TEL: 03-3203-7575 raik@abox5.so-net.ne.jp
Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)
TEL: 03-5802-6033 fmwj@jca.apc.org

http://www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net/

Program

  • 1. A short documentary video on a public action in front of the Ministry of Justice
  • against a new fingerprinting system on 20 November 2007
  • 2. Report 1 Framework of the new Immigration Control System
  • By Mr. Akira Hatate(Japan Civil Liberties Union: JCLU)
  • 3. Report 2 Overview of the ‘Jumin Touroku (Residents Registration System)’
  • By Mr. Tohru Nishimura (HanJukinet Renrakukai)
  • 4. Report 3 Problems and concerns over ‘Zairyu Kaado (resident card)’
  • By Mr. Mitsuru Namba (Attorney)
  • 5. Relay talk by foreign national citizens
  • 6. Relay appeals by NGOs:
  • 7. NGO joint statement against the “Zairyu Kaado (resident card)” system

******************************
The Ministry of Justice is currently pressing forward measures aiming at integrating personal information of foreign residents in Japan. A revised bill of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act is expected to be discussed during the ordinary diet session in 2009 to abolish the current ‘Gaikokujin Torokusho’ (alien registration card)’ and introduce a new ‘Zairyu Kaado’ (resident card), which will be issued directly from the Ministry of Justice. However, we, NGOs are concerned that once a ‘Zairyu Kaado’ is introduced, control over foreigners would be more tightened. We particularly fear that foreign residents without VISA status such as overstayers would be excluded from the new resident registration system (“Gaikokujin Daicho Seido”) and lose access to most of public services including education and medical care. Thus the system would make these people socially invisible.

In this public gathering, we, NGOs and foreign national citizens, will discuss the framework of the bill (abolishing the ‘Gaikokujin Torokusho’and introducing a ‘Zairyu Kaado’) and the issues that might occur when the new system is introduced. We will also propose a new system toward a true Multi-Ethnic, Multi-Cultural Society in Japan.

*****************************************************
川上園子
社団法人アムネスティ・インターナショナル日本
ホームページ:http://www.amnesty.or.jp/
101-0054 東京都千代田区神田錦町2-2 共同(新錦町)ビル4F
TEL. 03-3518-6777 FAX. 03-3518-6778
E-mail:ksonoko@amnesty.or.jp
★アムネスティ・メールマガジンのお申し込みはこちらから!
http://secure.amnesty.or.jp/campaign/

ENDS

Tsukiji Fish Market reopens, the NJ blame game continues

mytest

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.  Good news in that Tsukiji Fish Market, closed due to “unmannerly foreigners” (according to the Japanese-language press), has reopened to the public with more security (good), with intentions to move to a location more accessible to visitors (good again, in retrospect).  The bad news is that the J-media (even NHK) has been playing a monthlong game of “find the unmannerly foreigner” (even when Japanese can be just as unmannerly) and thus portray manners as a function of nationality.  It’s a soft target:  NJ can’t fight back very well in the J-media, and even Stockholm-Syndromed self-hating bigoted NJ will bash foreigners under the flimsiest pretenses, putting it down to a matter of culture if not ill-will.  Bunkum and bad science abounds.  Japan Times article and a word from cyberspace follows.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

The Japan Times, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090120a1.html

Tsukiji reopens tuna auctions to the public

By MARIKO KATO, Staff writer, Courtesy of AW

The Tsukiji fish market, one of Tokyo’s most popular tourist attractions, reopened its early morning tuna auctions to the public Monday after a monthlong ban.  

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which runs the gigantic wholesale market in Chuo Ward, temporarily banned onlookers, 90 percent of whom are foreign tourists, from the tuna trading floor Dec. 15, citing visitors’ bad behavior among other reasons. The ban ended Saturday, and the first auctions took place Monday.

“We decided to reopen because we had said we would only close for a month,” said Yoshiaki Takagi, deputy head of the venue, officially called the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market.

Even after the ban was imposed, a few dozen people a day continued to show up in hopes of catching a glimpse of the bidding, Takagi said. Before the temporary closure, as many as 500 people would watch the auctions.

“We were so lucky that we were able to see the auctions today,” said Danish visitor Rikke Grundtvig, who was one of a group of international MBA students on a study visit from the Berlin School of Creative Leadership at Steinbeis University Berlin.

“We have many nationalities in our group, South African, Brazilian, American, and we all wanted to see the fish this morning before we started studying,” she said.

The central observation area, which measures about 30 sq. meters and has room for about 60 people, opened at 5 a.m. with the auctions starting at 5:30 a.m.

Security guards were deployed on the auction floor and handbills in five languages outlining acceptable behavior were distributed to observers.

According to Takagi, media reports that cited visitors’ poor behavior as the main reason for the tentative ban were not entirely accurate.

“We closed mainly because around the New Year’s period the auctions get very busy. More trucks pass through the market and it gets dangerous,” he said, adding it is difficult for the auctioneers to walk around the observation area.

But Takagi acknowledged that onlookers were causing a hygiene risk and disruptions.

“Some tried to touch the fish and used flash photography, which made it difficult for the auctioneers to see the buyers, who signal by hand,” he said.

Last April the market established rules urging visitors to voluntarily “refrain from coming.” But, Takagi said, “these measures weren’t very effective.”

“It’s shocking that tourists would try to touch the fish. If I were running the market I would have shut it down, too,” said a visitor from Los Angeles who identified himself only as David. “But it would have been a real shame if the auctions had been closed today, as it’s been the highlight of my Japan trip so far.”

Tsukiji market did not set out to be a tourist attraction, Takagi said. “It’s first and foremost a place of work,” he said, though adding he wants tourists to watch because “it reflects Japanese food culture”.

The metro government announced Thursday that Tsukiji market will move to a new location in Koto Ward in 2014. The next venue will be more welcoming to visitors, Takagi said.

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

FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE
From:   Paul
Subject: Problem with ill-behaved NJ campaign, in Kyoto and elsewhere
Date: January 20, 2009
To:  debito@debito.org
Dear Dave,

Last night I saw a feature story during the NHK evening news about ” マナーの悪い外国人”, an aspect of which (not to mention the title) I found quite disturbing.  I had seen an article a few days earlier in the Japan Times discussing the problem of foreign visitors to Kyoto basically acting like paparazzi and chasing down maikos to get a pictures of them, so this may just be a topic of the day.  The NHK segment was more encompassing, however, and showed in addition, scenes of foreigners reaching down while smoking, posing like they were going to lift up one of the tuna in the Tsukiji market, and another decrying poor manners of NJ in bathhouses.  A lot of the scenes of these crass behaviors were admittedly that, evidence of bad manners, and it was troubling to watch.

The one about the bathhouse, however, I found a bit odd. It showed an NJ in the bath with a minor amount of sweat on his brow, which he wiped off with his shibori, accompanied by the announcer’s comment of astonishment, “Ase o fuite. Furo no naka ni?!!”  I can’t really grasp why that’s a bad behavior.  After all, I’ve seen countless Japanese in baths with their shibori over their heads, or nearby, which they use from time to time to wipe themselves off with while bathing.  If one develops sweat on the brow while in the bath, there’s not really much to be done about it, as it will drip down into the bath anyway unless you get out.  Wiping it away, even if the towel then dips down into the water, really has no affect on accumulation of sweat in the bathwater.

I’m not really sure if this makes an appropriate post for your site, but I wondered if you had some knowledge of whether wiping parts of one’s body (in particular the face) with a bath towel while in the bath can even be considered a bad practice.  People often have no control over when and where they sweat.  The segment seemed to be picking on one poor guy, who’s behavior was otherwise unremarkable, simply because he was sweating at the brow a little bit.  It seems like an intentional dig, with visual cues, tailored to make Japanese think, “Oh my God, just look at how unhygienic these sweaty NJ are.  How can we allow them in our baths?”

This may well have been the show in question: http://www3.nhk.or.jp/hensei/program/k/20090119/001/21-2100.html
(観光立国日本・外国人のマナー 各地の悩み)
ENDS

Google zaps Debito.org

mytest

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.  Some Blog Biz today.

I got the following notification from Google the other day:

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

From:   noreply@google.com

Subject: Removal from Google’s Index

Date: January 9, 2009 10:12:37 PM JST

Dear site owner or webmaster of debito.org,

While we were indexing your webpages, we detected that some of your pages were using techniques that are outside our quality guidelines, which can be found here: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769&hl=en. This appears to be because your site has been modified by a third party. Typically, the offending party gains access to an insecure directory that has open permissions. Many times, they will upload files or modify existing ones, which then show up as spam in our index.

We detected cloaking on your site and suspect this is the cause. For example at http://www.debito.org/ we found:

[Cloaked information deleted because if I cite it here, it will in fact be found by search spiders for real.  It’s a string of words regarding medications and potions for various ills and predilections.]

For more information about what cloaking is, visit http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=66355&hl=en.

In order to preserve the quality of our search engine, pages from debito.org are scheduled to be removed temporarily from our search results for at least 30 days.

We would prefer to keep your pages in Google’s index. If you wish to be reconsidered, please correct or remove all pages (may not be limited to the examples provided) that are outside our quality guidelines. One potential remedy is to contact your web host technical support for assistance. For more information about security for webmasters, see http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/04/my-sites-been-hacked-now-what.html. When such changes have been made, please visit https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/reconsideration?hl=en to learn more and submit your site for reconsideration.

Sincerely, Google Search Quality Team

Note: if you have an account in Google’s Webmaster Tools, you can verify the authenticity of this message by logging intohttps://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/siteoverview?hl=en and going to the Message Center.

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

Ends.  I have since notified my sysadmin of the problem, but he cannot find these keywords anywhere on the site.  There are apparently even ways to project these onto the site remotely to fool the search engines. 

Debito.org has since been delisted from Google.  I have of course notified Google of both the situation (i.e. we can’t find the text they’re talking about) and of our inability to fix the problem.  I also expressed annoyance that, despite Google’s incredible reach throughout cyberspace, they are being irresponsible to say we have a problem, but not tell us on what page it’s on so we can fix it.  It’s like saying that we failed a test, but teacher isn’t going to say what questions we got wrong, or what we can study next time for the makeup.  

So we’re stuck, with thousands of other pages of information about how make a life in Japan (not on the blog) unsearchable.  Damned unfair.  And if Google keeps carrying on in this manner, a lot more places are going to be delisted unfairly; other bloggers beware.

Advice from cyberspace appreciated.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

IHT on Buraku Nonaka vs Barack Obama

mytest

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. What with the impending Obama Presidency, there is a boom in “change” theory, with press speculation whether a landmark incident that so countermands a society’s history could likewise do the same in other (apparently historically-intransigent) societies. Here’s an article on the NYT/IHT on what happened when a minority in Japan, a member of the Buraku historical underclass, got close to the top job, and what the current blue-blooded leader (Aso) allegedly did to stop it. The article about former Dietmember Nonaka Hiromu ends on a hopeful note, but I’m not so positive.

Quoting from one of my Japan Times articles, December 18, 2007:

“After the last election, 185 of 480 Diet members (39%) were second- or third- (or more) generation politicians (seshuu seijika). Of 244 members of the LDP (the ruling party for practically all the postwar period), 126 (52%) are seshuu seijika. Likewise eight of the last ten Prime Ministers, andaround half the Abe and Fukuda Cabinets. When the average turnover per election is only around 3%, you have what can only be termed a political class.”

Until the electorate realizes that their legislative body is a peerage masquerading as an elected body, and vote out more technically-inherited seats, “change” in terms of minority voices being heard will be much slower in coming. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

International Herald Tribune
Japan’s outcasts still wait for society’s embrace
Friday, January 16, 2009
Courtesy of Yuko S.

KYOTO, Japan: For Japan, the crowning of Hiromu Nonaka as its top leader would have been as significant as America’s election of its first black president.

Despite being the descendant of a feudal class of outcasts, who are known as buraku and still face social discrimination, Nonaka had dexterously occupied top posts in Japan’s governing party and served as the government’s No. 2 official. The next logical step, by 2001, was to become prime minister. Allies urged him on.

But not everyone inside the party was ready for a leader of buraku origin. At least one, Taro Aso, Japan’s current prime minister, made his views clear to his closest associates in a closed-door meeting in 2001.

“Are we really going to let those people take over the leadership of Japan?” Aso said, according to Hisaoki Kamei, a politician who attended the meeting.

Mr. Kamei said he remembered thinking at the time that “it was inappropriate to say such a thing.” But he and the others in the room let the matter drop, he said, adding, “We never imagined that the remark would leak outside.”

But it did — spreading rapidly among the nation’s political and buraku circles. And more recently, as Aso became prime minister just weeks before President-elect Barack Obama’s victory, the comment has become a touchstone for many buraku.

How far have they come since Japan began carrying out affirmative action policies for the buraku four decades ago, mirroring the American civil rights movement? If the United States, the yardstick for Japan, could elect a black president, could there be a buraku prime minister here?

The questions were not raised in the society at large, however. The topic of the buraku remains Japan’s biggest taboo, rarely entering private conversations and virtually ignored by the media.

The buraku — ethnically indistinguishable from other Japanese — are descendants of Japanese who, according to Buddhist beliefs, performed tasks considered unclean. Slaughterers, undertakers, executioners and town guards, they were called eta, which means defiled mass, or hinin, nonhuman. Forced to wear telltale clothing, they were segregated into their own neighborhoods.

The oldest buraku neighborhoods are believed to be here in Kyoto, the ancient capital, and date back a millennium. That those neighborhoods survive to this day and that the outcasts’ descendants are still subject to prejudice speak to Japan’s obsession with its past and its inability to overcome it.

Yet nearly identical groups of outcasts remain in a few other places in Asia, like Tibet and Nepal, with the same Buddhist background; they have disappeared only in South Korea, not because prejudice vanished, but because decades of colonialism, war and division made it impossible to identify the outcasts there.

In Japan, every person has a family register that is kept in local town halls and that, with some extrapolation, reveals ancestral birthplaces. Families and companies widely checked birthplaces to ferret out buraku among potential hires or marriage partners until a generation ago, though the practice has greatly declined, especially among the young.

The buraku were officially liberated in 1871, just a few years after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. But as the buraku’s living standards and education levels remained far below national averages, the Japanese government, under pressure from buraku liberation groups, passed a special measures law to improve conditions for the buraku in 1969. By the time the law expired in 2002, Japan had reportedly spent about $175 billion on affirmative action programs for the buraku.

Confronting Prejudice

Fumie Tanaka, now 39, was born just as the special measures law for the buraku went into effect. She grew up in the Nishinari ward of Osaka, in one of the 48 neighborhoods that were officially designated as buraku areas.

At her neighborhood school, the children began learning about discrimination against the buraku early on. The thinking in Osaka was to confront discrimination head on: the problem lay not with the buraku but with those who harbored prejudice.

Instead of hiding their roots, children were encouraged to “come out,” sometimes by wearing buraku sashes, a practice that Osaka discontinued early this decade but that survives in the countryside.

Sheltered in this environment, Tanaka encountered discrimination only when she began going to high school in another ward. One time, while she was visiting a friend’s house, the grandparents invited her to stay over for lunch.

“The atmosphere was pleasant in the beginning, but then they asked me where I lived,” she said. “When I told them, the grandfather put down his chopsticks right away and went upstairs.”

A generation ago, most buraku married other buraku. But by the 1990s, when Tanaka met her future husband, who is not a buraku, marriages to outsiders were becoming more common.

“The situation has improved over all,” said Takeshi Kitano, chief of the human rights division in Osaka’s prefectural government. “But there are problems left.”

In Osaka’s 48 buraku neighborhoods, from 10 to 1,000 households each, welfare recipient rates remain higher than Osaka’s average. Educational attainment still lags behind, though not by the wide margins of the past.

What is more, the fruits of the affirmative action policies have produced what is now considered the areas’ most pressing problem: depopulation. The younger buraku, with better education, jobs and opportunities, are moving out. Outsiders, who do not want to be mistaken for buraku, are reluctant to move in.

By contrast, Tokyo decided against designating its buraku neighborhoods. It discreetly helped buraku households, no matter where they were, and industries traditionally dominated by buraku groups. The emphasis was on assimilation.

Over time, the thinking went, it would become impossible to discriminate as people’s memory of the buraku areas’ borders became fuzzier. But the policy effectively pushed people with buraku roots into hiding.

In one of the oldest buraku neighborhoods, just north of central Tokyo, nothing differentiates the landscape from other middle-class areas in the city. Now newcomers outnumber the old-timers. The old-timers, who all know one another, live in fear that their roots will be discovered, said a 76-year-old woman who spoke on the condition that neither she nor her neighborhood be identified.

“Me, too, I belong to those who want to hide,” she said. “I’m also running away.”

A Politician’s Roots

Nonaka is one of the rare politicians who never hid his buraku roots. In 2001, he was considered a leading contender to become president of the long-governing Liberal Democratic Party and prime minister.

Now 83, he was born into a buraku family from a village outside Kyoto. On his way home at the end of World War II, he considered disappearing so that he would be declared dead, he once wrote. With the evidence of his buraku roots expunged, he had thought, he could remake himself in another part of Japan, he wrote.

Nonaka eventually entered politics, and, known for his fierce intelligence, he rose quickly. By 2001, he was in a position to aim for the prime ministership. But he had made up his mind not to seek the post. While he had never hidden his roots, he feared that taking the top job would shine a harsh spotlight on them. Already, the increasing attention had hurt his wife, who was not from a buraku family, and his daughter.

“After my wife’s relatives first found out, the way we interacted changed as they became cooler,” Nonaka said in an interview in his office in Kyoto. “The same thing happened with my son-in-law. So, in that sense, I made my family suffer considerably.”

But rivals worried nonetheless. One of them was Aso, now 68, who was the epitome of Japan’s ruling elite: the grandson of a former prime minister and the heir to a family conglomerate.

Inside the Liberal Democratic Party, some politicians gossiped about Nonaka’s roots and labeled some of his closest allies fellow buraku who were hiding their roots.

“We all said those kinds of things,” recalled Yozo Ishikawa, 83, a retired lawmaker who was allied with Aso.

“That guy’s like this,” Ishikawa said, lowering his voice and holding up four fingers of his right hand without the thumb, a derogatory gesture indicating a four-legged animal and referring to the buraku.

And so, at the closed-door meeting in 2001, Aso made the comment about “those people” in a “considerably loud voice,” recalled Kamei, the politician. Kamei, now 69, had known Aso since their elementary school days and was one of his biggest backers.

Aso’s comment would have stayed inside the room had a political reporter not been eavesdropping at the door — a common practice in Japan. But because of the taboo surrounding the topic of the buraku, the comment was never widely reported.

Two years later, just before retiring, Nonaka confronted Aso in front of dozens of the party’s top leaders, saying he would “never forgive” him for the comment. Aso remained silent, according to several people who were there.

It was only in 2005, when an opposition politician directly questioned Aso about the remark in Parliament, that Aso said, “I’ve absolutely never made such a comment.”

The prime minister’s office declined a request for an interview with Aso. A spokesman, Osamu Sakashita, referred instead to Aso’s remarks in Parliament.

In the end, Nonaka’s decision not to run in 2001 helped a dark-horse candidate named Junichiro Koizumi become prime minister. Asked whether a Japanese Obama was now possible, Nonaka said, “Well, I don’t know.”

Hopes for the Future

That is also the question asked by many people of buraku origin recently, as they waver between pessimism and hope.

“Wow, a black president,” said Yukari Asai, 45, one of the two sisters who owns the New Naniwa restaurant in Osaka’s Naniwa ward, in Japan’s biggest buraku neighborhood, reflecting on Obama’s election. “If a person’s brilliant, a person’s brilliant. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a black person or white person.”

After serving a bowl of udon noodles with pieces of fried beef intestine, a specialty of buraku restaurants, Asai sounded doubtful that a politician of buraku origin could become prime minister. “Impossible,” she said. “Probably impossible.”

Here in Kyoto, some had not forgotten about Aso’s comment.

“That someone like that could rise all the way to becoming prime minister says a lot about the situation in Japan now,” said Kenichi Kadooka, 49, who is a professor of English at Ryukoku University and who is from a buraku family.

Still, Kadooka had not let his anger dim his hopes for a future buraku leader of Japan.

“It’s definitely possible,” he said. “If he’s an excellent person, it’s just ridiculous to say he can’t become prime minister because he just happened to be born a buraku.”

ENDS

Documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES Japan Roadshow Feb and March 2009. Contact Debito for a screening.

mytest

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
Hello All. Something to announce while there’s still two months’ lead time:

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
DOCUMENTARY “SOUR STRAWBERRIES”
“JAPAN’S HIDDEN GUEST WORKERS”
NATIONWIDE ROADSHOW FEBRUARY AND MARCH 2009
MAR 20-31 DEBITO ON TOUR, STOP BY YOUR AREA AND SCREEN?

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

I’m planning my annual round-robin tour for the end of March. I’m booking some dates for an important documentary on Japan’s labor markets and what kind of working conditions NJ are enduring under the current “Trainee”, “Researcher”, etc. visa regime.

It’s an hourlong film that came out in Germany in late 2008 by Daniel Kremers and Tilman Koenig of Leipzig. More information from the directors below, but a trailer for the movie may be seen in Japanese, English, and German at
http://www.vimeo.com/2276295

Promo in English with stills from the film at
http://www.debito.org/SOURSTRAWBERRIESpromo.pdf

There’s a scene where I’m taking a business operator in Kabukichou to task for his “Japanese Only” sign. I’m told it’s the funniest scene in the movie. You can see an excerpt and a still from it at the above links.

So far, I will be screening and speaking on the film at the following dates:
==============================================
MON MARCH 23 NUGW SHINBASHI TOKYO
TUES MARCH 24 AMNESTY INT’L AITEN TAKADANOBABA TOKYO
THURS MARCH 26 SHIGA UNIVERSITY

==============================================
If you’d like me to screen in your neighborhood between March 20 and 31, please contact me at debito@debito.org

Director Daniel Kremers will also be touring the movie in February and March, so if you wish to contact him for a screening please see the contact details below. Thanks for considering. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

///////////////////////////////////////////////////
FROM DIRECTOR DANIEL KREMERS:
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is Daniel from the documentary “Sour Strawberries – Japan’s hidden ‘guest workers'”. I am coming to Japan in March to present and promote our movie.
Mr. Arudou Debito was so kind to offer his help, and offer to show the movie[between March 20 and 31].

Unfortunately I cannot attend these screenings. So I would be really happy if someone could recommend some other places to show the movie before, so I could attend and answer questions from the audience. I will be in Japan from February 27th to March 20th. I would like to show the movie in as many places as possible to reach a more heterogenous audience. Please note that I am not free from the 9th to 13th of March, but anything before and after that is fine.

Attached to this email you will find an information sheet with pictures and an English synopsis.
http://www.debito.org/SOURSTRAWBERRIESpromo.pdf
With best regards and thanks to you all,

Daniel Kremers
http://www.myspace.com/saureerdbeeren
daniel.kremers AT gmx.de
///////////////////////////////////////////////////
ENDS

Southland Times on how New Zealand deals with restaurant exclusions

mytest

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. As another template about “what to do if…” (or rather, a model for what the GOJ should be more proactive about) when you get a restaurant refusing customers on the basis of race, ethnicity, national background, etc., here’s an article on what would happen in New Zealand.  Here’s a Human Rights Commission and a media that actually does some follow-up, unlike the Japanese example.  Then again, I guess Old Bigoted Gregory would rail against this as some sort of violation of locals’ “rights to discriminate”.  Or that it isn’t Japan, therefore not special enough to warrant exceptionalism.  But I beg to disagree, and point to this as an example of how to handle this sort of situation. Anyway, courtesy of JL. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Cafe owner ‘breached ‘human rights’ kicking out Israelis

By EVAN HARDING – The Southland Times (New Zealand) | Thursday, 15 January 2009

http://www.stuff.co.nz/4818871a11.html

An Invercargill cafe owner’s refusal to serve Israelis on the basis of their nationality is a clear human rights breach, Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres says.

Sisters Natalie Bennie and Tamara Shefa were upset after being booted out of the Mevlana Cafe in Esk St yesterday by owner Mustafa Tekinkaya.

They chose to eat at Mevlana Cafe because it had a play area for Mrs Bennie’s two children, but they were told to leave before they had ordered any food, Mrs Bennie said.

“He heard us speaking Hebrew and he asked us where we were from. I said Israel and he said ‘get out, I am not serving you’. It was shocking.”

Mr Tekinkaya, who is Muslim and from Turkey, said he was making his own protest against Israel because it was killing innocent babies and women in the Gaza Strip.

“I have decided as a protest not to serve Israelis until the war stops.”

He said he had nothing against Israeli people but if any more came into his shop they would also be told to leave, and he was not concerned if he lost business.

Mr de Bres said the Human Rights Act prohibited discrimination in the provision of goods and services on the grounds of ethnic or national origin, or of political opinion.

“Whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation in Palestine, it is simply against the law for providers of goods and services in New Zealand to discriminate in this way,” he said.

Mr Tekinkaya’s stance was supported by neighbouring Turkish Kebabs shop owner Ali Uzun, who said he was also refusing to serve Israelis.

Mrs Bennie said she did not disagree that Israel was committing crimes against children.

“I just don’t think I should be declined service because I am from Israel.”

She had rung the Human Rights Commission and was told the cafe owner’s actions were against the law because he was discriminating on the basis of ethnicity.

“I wouldn’t mind having a chat to him. Someone has to put him in his place,” Mrs Bennie said.

Ms Shefa is visiting Mrs Bennie at her Makarewa home, on the outskirts of Invercargill, where she lives with her New Zealand husband and two children.

Both women said they had travelled widely, and to places much more hostile than New Zealand, but had never been treated in such a way.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt was shocked when told of the incident.

“Oh my god, the Gaza Strip has come to Invercargill. Hell’s bells.”

He said he was bewildered.

“Generally speaking I am against all wars and I suppose people have got a right to protest. I couldn’t really deny that. It would have been upsetting for the women and I feel sympathy for them.”

PHOTOS

JOHN HAWKINS/Southland Times

SHOCKED AND HURT: Israeli nationals Natalie Bennie, left, and Tamara Shefa, with Mrs Bennie’s two children Noah, 2, and Ella, 4, were told to leave Mevlana Cafe in Invercargill because they were from Israel.

JOHN HAWKINS/Southland Times

TAKING A STAND: Mevlana Cafe owner Mustafa Tekinkaya, left, with family and friends.

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 16, 2009

mytest

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. It’s been a month (happy new year!), so here comes a fat one:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 16, 2009
Table of Contents:

=========================================================
BAD SCIENCE
1) Gregory Clark argues in Japan Times that “Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people”
2) Japan Times Zeit Gist followup on Dec’s Otaru Onsen lawsuit analysis
3) Sankei: A manual to help NJ “illegal overstays” evade police
4) Kyodo: Special unemployment office being studied, only for “NJ workers with PR”
5) AP/Guardian on Japan’s steepest population fall yet, excludes NJ from tally
6) Kyodo: NJ to be registered as family members (residents?) by 2012
7) AFP and Yomiuri: How to get around J border fingerprinting: Tape!
8 ) Tokyo High Court overrules lower court regarding murder of Lucie Blackman:
Obara Joji now guilty of “dismemberment and abandonment of a body”

BAD BUSINESS
9) German documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES preview, with Debito interview
10) Japan Times on NJ workers: No money for food or return flight
11) Japan Times on future J housing markets, tax regimes, and why J houses are built so crappily

MULTICULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS
12) Excellent Japan Times roundup on debate on J Nationality Law and proposed dual citizenship
13) Another excellent JT article on dual nationality and the conflicts within
14) Japan Times on international trends towards allowing citizens to become multinational
15) Economist on Japanese immigration and conservatism giving way
16) All registered NJ will in fact now get the 12,000 “economic stimulus” bribe
17) Japan Times Zeit Gist on Chinese/Japanese bilingual education in Japan

HOLIDAY TANGENTS
18 ) Xmas List: Ten things I think Japan does best
19) Retrospective: 10 things that made me think in 2008
20) Humor: Cracked Mag Online on unappetizing restaurants
21) Humor: Robin Williams stand-up comedy on Obama’s election
22) Humor: “Beware of the Doghouse”: For you men with thoughtless holiday gifts
23) History tangent: Japan Times FYI on Hokkaido development

… and finally…
24) Interview with Debito on TkyoSam’s Vlog: Shizzle!

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

By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org Daily Blog updates at http://www.debito.org
Freely Forwardable

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

BAD SCIENCE

1) Gregory Clark argues in Japan Times that “Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people”

Y’know, life is never boring. Here’s yet another piece about the Otaru Onsens Case that came out in yesterday’s Japan Times. This time from that person with a very questionable record of dealing with the facts, Gregory Clark.

Clark provides no surprises as he rides his “bathhouse fanatics” hobby horse once again, and gets (as he has since 1999) the same old facts wrong. Actually, he gets even more facts wrong this time: Despite calling himself “closely involved” in the case, he gets the very name of the exclusionary onsen wrong. He even forgets once again (after repeated past public corrections that were even printed in the Japan Times) that there was more than one plaintiff in the successful lawsuit.

The rest is self-hating anti-gaijin invective with errors and illogic galore. If the Japan Times isn’t bothering with fact checks anymore, they should just put this bigoted old fool out to pasture. Clark is not worth the trouble to print or debate with anymore.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2128

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

2) Japan Times Zeit Gist followup on Dec’s Otaru Onsen lawsuit analysis

Last month the Japan Times put a cat amongst the pigeons last December with a Zeit Gist column about the Otaru Onsens Case, decrying the court ruling against racial discrimination as undermining Japanese society.

It caused quite a stir, according to my editor, with most of the comments coming in critical of the thesis. Some of the responses were worth a reprint as a follow-up column, and that came out last week. Have a read. And yes, I briefly responded too (although only on this site as a comment), which I paste at the very bottom. Choice excerpt from the published rebuttal:

“De Vries’ primary objection to the Arudou judgment 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.’ “

“Racial application of group accountability” sounds so much nicer than boring old “racial discrimination,” doesn’t it? The question is whether there really is any difference between the two. Sadly, De Vries offers no logical reasons why we should see his preferred version of these two (identical) concepts as being anything other than a new name for the same old discredited idea. To deny access to public facilities to an innocent individual because of the color of their skin is simply wrong, regardless of who is doing it or what their motives are.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=2122

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

3) Sankei: manual to help NJ “illegal overstays” evade police

Mark in Yayoi translates yet another inflammatory article from the Sankei Shinbun, warning police that even overfriendly foreigners may be suspicious, thanks to some mail-in underground manual on how to evade police ID Checkpoints:

“We’ll teach you how to get away when the police stop you on the street!” This is the catch copy for a manual that is now circulating, instructing illegal aliens on how to escape from police questioning. Supposedly it was sold through newspapers and free magazines aimed at Chinese and Koreans in Japan. Organized Crime Bureau No. 1 of the National Police Agency has obtained this manual, and is sending warnings to each police station. The police are strengthening their vigilance as these newspapers, carrying illegal advertisements, are becoming breeding grounds for crime [hanzai no onshou]

“Here is another interesting technique. File a ‘lost item report’ at all the police boxes in the area. Then, on the same day, go to one of them and get the report erased, saying that ‘the person who found my wallet got in touch with me’. In the evening, when you pass that police box, greet them [aisatsu] yourself and say ‘my wallet has been returned’. By saying hello to them three times a day, they’ll think of you as one of the area’s ‘polite foreigners [reigi tadashii gaikokujin da na]’, and you’ll be able to walk by without fear.”

The Bureau has circulated an internal memo to police stations warning that illegal aliens are using these methods to escape detection, and have advised the police to take care in questioning people [shokumu shitsumon jou no chuui o yobikaketa]. There is no applicable law, however, making sale of this manual a crime.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2126

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

4) Kyodo: Special unemployment office being studied for NJ workers with PR

Here’s some very mixed news. The GOJ will study how to offer help unemployed NJ to make sure inter alia their kids stay in school. Thanks, but then it limits the scope to Permanent Residents. Probably a lot more of the NJ getting fired are factory workers here on visas (Trainee, Researcher, etc) that give the employer the means to pay them poorly and fire them at will already. So why not help them? Oh, they and their kids don’t count the same, I guess. Considering how hard and arbitrary it can be to get PR in the first place, this is hardly fair. Expand the study group to help anyone with a valid visa.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2124

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

5) AP/Guardian on Japan’s steepest population fall yet, excludes NJ from tally

Here’s a bit of a sloppy article from the AP that the Guardian republished without much of a fact-checking (don’t understand the relevance of the throwaway sentence at the end about J fathers and paternity). Worse yet, it seems the AP has just accepted the GOJ’s assessment of “population” as “births minus deaths” without analysis. Meaning the population is just denoted as Japanese citizens (unless you include of course babies born to NJ-NJ couples, but they don’t get juuminhyou anyway and aren’t included in local govt. tallies of population either).

Er, how about including net inflows of NJ from overseas (which have been positive for more than four decades)? Or of naturalized citizens, which the Yomiuri reported some months ago contributed to an actual rise in population? Sloppy, unreflective, and inaccurate assessments of the taxpayer base.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2117

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

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

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 not being included in official local government tallies of population.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2101

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

7) AFP and Yomiuri: How to get around J border fingerprinting: tape!

Here’s an update about that old fingerprinting at the border thingie “to prevent terrorism, infectious diseases, and foreign crime”. Here’s one way how you get around it: special tape on your fingers! Two articles on this below.

Also, just so that people are aware that your fingerprints are NOT cross-checked immediately within the database: I have a friend who always uses different fingers when he comes back into Japan (index fingers one time, middle fingers the next, alternating; Immigration can’t see), and he has NEVER been snagged (on the spot or later) for having different fingerprints from one time to the next. Try it yourself and see. Anyway, if people are getting caught, it’s for passports, not fingerprints.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2115

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

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

Serial rapist and sexual predator Obara Joji on December 16 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 at:

http://www.debito.org/?p=2098

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

BAD BUSINESS

9) German documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES preview, with Debito interview

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 at:

http://www.debito.org/?p=2108

The movie will be coming to Japan in March, more later on Debito.org.

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

10) Japan Times on NJ workers: No money for food or return flight

Japan Times: With the global economic downturn, many Japanese workers face a not very Merry Christmas or Happy New Year as they lose their jobs or see wages or hours cut.

But the bad economy is hitting the country’s foreign workers particularly hard, with nongovernmental organization volunteers warning that many who have been laid off face not only losing their homes and access to education in their mother tongue, but also that emergency food rations are now being distributed to the most desperate cases.

“Of the nearly 300 people who attend my church, between 30 and 40 of them have already lost their jobs, and I expect more will soon be laid off as companies choose not to renew their contracts. Many of those who have lost their jobs have no place to live or get through the winter,” said Laelso Santos, pastor at a church in Karia, Aichi Prefecture, and the head of Maos Amigas, an NGO assisting foreign workers and their families.

“We’re currently distributing about 300 kg of food per month to foreigners nationwide who are out of work. I’m afraid the amount of food aid needed will increase as the number of out-of-work foreigners increases,” Santos said.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2118

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

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2111

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

MULTICULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS

12) Excellent Japan Times roundup on debate on J Nationality Law and proposed dual citizenship

Here’s an excellent Japan Times roundup of the debate which came out of nowhere last year regarding Japan’s loopy nationality laws, which were once based on what I would call a “culture of no”, as in rather arbitrary ways to disqualify people (as in babies not getting J citizenship if the J father didn’t recognize patrimony before birth).

A Supreme Court decision last year called that unconstitutional, and forced rare legislation from the bench to rectify that late in 2008. Now the scope of inclusivity has widened as Dietmember Kouno Taro (drawing on the shock of a former Japanese citizen getting a Nobel Prize, and a confused Japanese media trying to claim him as ours) advocates allowing Japanese to hold more than one citizenship. Bravo. About time.

The article below sets out the goalposts for this year regarding this proposal (and uses arguments that have appeared on Debito.org for years now). In a year when there will apparently be a record-number of candidates running in the general election (which MUST happen this year, despite PM Aso’s best efforts to keep leadership for himself), there is a good possibility it might come to pass, especially if the opposition DPJ party actually takes power.

2009 looks to be an interesting year indeed, as one more cornerstone of legal exclusionism in Japan looks set to crack.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2116

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

13) Another excellent JT article on dual nationality and the conflicts within

Here’s another article from the toshiake excellent series in the Japan Times on Japan’s loopy nationality laws: This time talking about what some people who are the projects of J-NJ unions in Japan face in terms of legality and societal treatment. It raises the question we’ve been asking here on Debito.org for more than a decade now: Why do we have to force these people to give up part of themselves to be Japanese? What good does it do them, and how does it serve the interests of the State to put people through this identity ordeal? Enough already. Allow dual nationality and be sensible. You’ll get more Nobel Prizes. Choice excerpt:

“The number of international marriages in Japan has steadily increased over the years, peaking in 2006 at 44,701, accounting for 6.5 percent of all marriages that year according to health ministry statistics. The number of children born with multiple nationalities is believed to have been increasing accordingly, with unofficial government estimates predicting that there were 530,000 as of 2006.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=2123

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

14) Japan Times on international trends towards allowing citizens to become multinational

Excerpt: As of 2000, around 90 countries and territories permitted dual citizenship either fully or with exceptional permission, according to the “Backgrounder,” published by the Center for Immigration Studies in the United States, and “Citizenship Laws of the World” by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Since the reports came out, several countries have lifted bans on dual nationality. As a consequence, there are more than 90 countries backing dual nationality by default today.

“The trend is dramatic and nearly unidirectional. A clear majority of countries now accepts dual citizenship,” said Peter Spiro, an expert on multi nationality issues at Temple University Beasley School of Law. “Plural citizenship has quietly become a defining feature of globalization.”

The change in jus sanguinis countries first grew prominent in European countries, followed by some South American and Asian states, largely as a result of economic globalization and the expansion in people’s mobility over the past few decades.

Europe’s general acceptance of dual nationality is stated in the 1997 European Convention on Nationality, which stipulates that while member states can define their own citizens, they must at least allow children of international marriages and immigrants to hold dual nationality.

This was a major shift from traditional attitudes in the region, stated in a 1963 convention that supported the single nationality principle.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2125

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

15) Economist on Japanese immigration and conservatism giving way

Here’s another roundup, this time from The Economist on how conservatives just don’t have the answers regarding Japan’s future anymore (with their wan and waning hope that immigration can somehow be avoided). Good also that this article is coming from The Economist, as it has over the past eighteen months done mediocre stuff on Japan’s future demographics without mentioning immigration at all. And when it later mentioned NJ labor in follow-up writings, it merely inserted one token sentence reflecting the Japan conservatives’ viewpoint. It seems even the conservatism within my favorite newsmagazine is also giving ground. Bravo.

Excerpt: “The answer is self-evident, but conservatives rarely debate it. Their notion of a strong Japan — i.e, a populous, vibrant country — is feasible only with many more immigrants than the current 2.2m, or just 1.7% of the population. (This includes 400,000 second- or third-generation Koreans who have chosen to keep Korean nationality but who are Japanese in nearly every respect.) The number of immigrants has grown by half in the past decade, but the proportion is still well below any other big rich country. Further, immigrants enter only as short-term residents; permanent residency is normally granted only after ten years of best behaviour…

“For the first time, however, an 80-strong group of economically liberal politicians in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), led by Hidenao Nakagawa, a former LDP secretary-general, is promoting a bold immigration policy. It calls for the number of foreigners to rise to 10m over the next half century, and for many of these immigrants to become naturalised Japanese. It wants the number of foreign students in Japan, currently 132,000, to rise to 1m. And it calls for whole families to be admitted, not just foreign workers as often at present.

“The plan’s author, Hidenori Sakanaka, a former Tokyo immigration chief and now head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, envisages a multicultural Japan in which, he says, reverence for the imperial family is an option rather than a defining trait of Japaneseness. It’s a fine proposal, but not very likely to fly in the current political climate, especially at a time when the opposition Democratic Party of Japan is fretting about the impact of immigration on pay for Japanese workers.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=2120

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

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2104

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

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2110

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

HOLIDAY TANGENTS:

18) Xmas List: Ten things Japan does best

Here’s something I posted on Christmas Day as a 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2099

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

19) Retrospective: 10 things that made me think in 2008

I opened 2009 with my annual essay noting ten things that caused me to think quite a bit last year. Some things I partook in (books and media and whatnot) might also be interesting for you to delve into as well. For what they’re worth, and in no particular order: Iijima Ai’s death, 2008 Cycletrek, FRANCA, Toyoko G8 Summit, California Trip 2008, ENRON and SICKO movies, two Francis Wheen books, my Japan Times column, Ken Burns THE WAR, and HANDBOOK for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2114

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

20) Humor: Cracked Mag Online on unappetizing restaurants

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 Cracked 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2107

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

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2106

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

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

A festive humor entry, particularly for hetero men readers out there: 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. See if you can find out what company created it…

http://www.debito.org/?p=2103

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

23) History tangent: Japan Times FYI on Hokkaido development

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2093

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

… and finally…

24) Interview with Debito on TkyoSam’s Vlog: Shizzle!

Recently I sat down with Sam (a prolific vlogger, or video blogger), who turned his passport-sized camera on me for a bit of the young lingo and beer and chicken basket. What you don’t see is how afterwards we repaired with a group of friends for a lot more beers and some fascinating conversation with a drunk that Sam handled admirably. Sam grew up on manga and anime, and talks like those characters fluently (which is perfect for reducing any other pop-culture-immersed J-drunk into titters and tears). Yoyoyo, word! Feel the generation gap of the Bubble-Era-Older-Hand meets J-Pop Awsum Dude. Shizzle! And it’s a fun interview too.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2119

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

That’s quite enough for one Newsletter. Thanks for reading!

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, Daily Blog updates at http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 16, 2009 ENDS

Gregory Clark argues in Japan Times that “Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people”

mytest

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. Y’know, life is never boring. Here’s yet another piece about the Otaru Onsens Case in yesterday’s Japan Times.  This time from that person with a demonstrably bad record of dealing with the facts, Gregory Clark.

Clark provides no surprises as he rides his “bathhouse fanatics” hobby horse once again, and gets (as he has since 1999) the same old facts wrong. Actually, he gets even more facts wrong this time:  despite calling himself “closely involved” in the case, he gets the very name of the exclusionary onsen wrong.  He even forgets once again (after repeated past public corrections that were even printed in the Japan Times) that there was more than one plaintiff in the successful lawsuit. And that one of those plaintiffs is a Japanese.

The rest is self-hating anti-gaijin invective with errors and illogic galore.  If the Japan Times isn’t bothering with fact checks anymore, they should just put this bigoted old fool out to pasture.  Clark is not worth the trouble to print or debate with anymore.

Still tracing his arc to irrelevancy, Arudou Debito in Sapporo
=================================

Excerpt follows.  Full article (new updated link 2015) at:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2009/01/15/commentary/antiforeigner-discrimination-is-a-right-for-japanese-people/

 HOME
The Japan Times Printer Friendly Articles
Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people (excerpt)

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20090115gc.html

By GREGORY CLARK

“Japan girai” — dislike of Japan — is an allergy that seems to afflict many Westerners here. If someone handing out Japanese-language flyers assumes they cannot read Japanese and ignores them, they cry racial discrimination. If they are left sitting alone in a train, they assume that is because the racist Japanese do not want to sit next to foreigners. If someone does sit next to them and tries to speak to them in English, they claim more discrimination, this time because it is assumed they cannot speak Japanese….

Recently they have revived the story of how they bravely abolished antiforeigner discrimination from bathhouses in the port town of Otaru in Hokkaido. Since I was closely involved, allow me to throw some extra light on that affair.

An onsen manager who allegedly had earlier been driven to near bankruptcy by badly behaved Russian sailors had decided this time to bar all foreigners from his new enterprise. The activist [sic] then filed a suit for mental distress and won ¥3 million in damages. In the Zeit Gist and letter pages of this newspaper, some have criticized these excessively zealous moves by the activists. These critics in turn have been labeled as favoring Nazi-style discrimination and mob rule. Maybe it is time to bring some reality to this debate.

Otaru had been playing host to well over 20,000 Russian sailors a year, most arriving in small rust-bucket ships to deliver timber and pick up secondhand cars. I visited the wharves there, and as proof I harbor no anti-Russian feeling let me add that I speak Russian and enjoyed talking to these earthy, rough-hewn people in their own language. Even so, the idea of them demanding freedom to walk into any onsen bathhouse of their choice, especially to a high-class onsen like Yunohara [sic], is absurd…

It is time we admitted that at times the Japanese have the right to discriminate against some foreigners. If they do not, and Japan ends up like our padlocked, mutually suspicious Western societies, we will all be the losers.

Gregory Clark is vice president of Akita International University. A Japanese translation of this article will appear onwww.gregoryclark.net.
The Japan Times: Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009

Sankei: manual to help NJ “illegal overstays” evade police: 「不法滞在者向け職質逃れマニュアル出回る」

mytest

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. Mark in Yayoi sends me his translation of an article (entitled below via Google Search as 「不法滞在者向け職質逃れマニュアル出回る」) regarding some mail-in manual regarding “illegal overstaying” NJ evading police inquisition. I include his report in full below and the original Japanese article at the very bottom.

MY QUICK COMMENT: This kind of guidebook is inevitable. We already have manuals for all manner of screwing over other people (most notably in my researches I found manuals for exploiting the very nasty divorce system in Japan so that ex-wives can squeeze the most money out of their ex-husbands).  Not much mention, however, about how the police have created the market for this manual thanks to their Instant Police ID Checkpoints and self-indulgent Bicycle Checks.

It’s also annoying that the Sankei has this persistent habit of whipping up fear of NJ (such as exaggerating crime statistics on their front pages; the Sankei exclusively publishes Tokyo Gov. Ishihara’s inflammatory “Nihon Yo” column, after all, which had two segments talking about “ethnic DNA” and the Chinese propensity to commit crime) and taking unprofessional and cheap ethnic shots at them as well. They are, after all, in my view farther-right than even the Yomiuri in terms of daily papers, so that’s par for the course.  It’s sad, however, that this newspaper is encouraging police to view even “polite” NJ as suspicious. Can’t win, can we?

Thanks for the translation, Mark. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

From: Mark in Yayoi. Subject: Sankei article, 1/13, “Fuhou Taizaisha ni ‘Yami no Shinan’ (A ‘Secret Orientation’ for Illegal Aliens)” Date: January 14, 2009 11:33:19 PM JST To: debito@debito.org

Finished the translation! I added the original Japanese in brackets wherever I thought it might be useful.

Interestingly, the word “gaikokujin” isn’t used at all (except in one imagining of a police officer’s thoughts). The illegal aliens are called “fuhou taizaisha”. Feel free to change this to “illegal overstayers” if you like; I wasn’t sure which to use, since someone who came to Japan with no visa at all isn’t actually ‘over’-staying; but then on the other hand, ‘fuhou taizaisha’ doesn’t actually specifically state the the “stayer” is foreign.

I also like how they call the streetside police interrogations “voluntary”; we all know what happens when you express a disinclination to talk with a police officer!

***

“Carry a bag, don’t stint on hairstyling, and report your alien card as ‘lost’!”

— A Secret Orientation for Illegal Aliens —

[the word for ‘secret orientation’ is ‘yami no shinan’, where ‘shinan’ is an old Chinese device that would show people which direction was south. Ninety degrees away from the eastern direction to which English speakers “orient” themselves.]

SANKEI SHINBUN January 13, 2009. Original Japanese at very bottom

Translation by Mark in Yayoi

“We’ll teach you how to get away when the police stop you on the street!”

This is the catch copy for a manual that is now circulating, instructing illegal aliens on how to escape from police questioning. Supposedly it was sold through newspapers and free magazines aimed at Chinese and Koreans in Japan. Organized Crime Bureau No. 1 of the National Police Agency has obtained this manual, and is sending warnings to each police station. The police are strengthening their vigilance as these newspapers, carrying illegal advertisements, are becoming breeding grounds for crime [hanzai no onshou].

—– [Sidebar text:] Police questioning: Voluntary questioning [nin’i no shitsumon] carried out by police officers, calling out to and stopping people who have the possibility of being connected with a crime. In many cases, this leads to sudden arrests of suspects, and early resolutions and deterrence of crime. [Response is] not mandatory [kyouseiryoku wa naku], and [the person being questioned] can maintain silence. —–

* Making use of psychology

The manual obtained by the bureau is entitled “Techniques to Preserve Your Safety: Keep Yourself Safe!” [“jibun no anzen o mamoru technique: jibun no anzen wa jibun de mamorou!”]. Buyers send e-mail to an address listed in the newspaper advertisement and transfer Y3800 to a specific bank account, and the manual is e-mailed back.

The return e-mail advertised “methods derived from loopholes in the law [hou no fubi no sukima] and human psychology”.

“It’s important to always carry a bag. If you’re going to play the part of a salaryman, play it completely. Have you ever seen a Japanese salaryman without a bag?”

“Next is your hairstyle. Japanese salons are expensive, but this is an investment in yourself. You should spend the money and not skimp.”

The manual begins with one’s outward appearance, and continues on to how to escape when a police officer asks to ‘see your Alien Registration Card’.

“Go to the police box in an area you pass through frequently and file a ‘lost item report’ [funshitsu todoke], saying, ‘I lost my entire wallet. I’ve also filed a report at that [other] police box.’ This will make it look not like you have no visa, but that you’ve merely lost [your papers].”

“Here is another interesting technique. File a ‘lost item report’ at all the police boxes in the area. Then, on the same day, go to one of them and get the report erased, saying that ‘the person who found my wallet got in touch with me’. In the evening, when you pass that police box, greet them [aisatsu] yourself and say ‘my wallet has been returned’. By saying hello to them three times a day, they’ll think of you as one of the area’s ‘polite foreigners [reigi tadashii gaikokujin da na]’, and you’ll be able to walk by without fear.”

The Bureau has circulated an internal memo to police stations warning that illegal aliens are using these methods to escape detection, and have advised the police to take care in questioning people [shokumu shitsumon jou no chuui o yobikaketa]. There is no applicable law, however, making sale of this manual a crime.

***

That’s the end of the part about overstayers/illegal aliens. The article then goes on to discuss an advertisement for non-approved drugs appearing in one of these papers, with the drugs being sold without permission, and how two Chinese people (one man and one woman) were arrested. Managers at this and six other papers were later questioned, and saying that they didn’t know that this was against the law. The papers were forced to write letters of apology. A spokesman for the bureau then goes on to say that ‘there must be other no-good advertisements [akushitsu na koukoku] in these papers’, and that he would like to proactively [sekkyokuteki ni] find the illegal cases.

I don’t normally read the Sankei and just stumbled upon this one coincidentally. Does this paper have a consistent position on the police, their approaches to foreigners, or on foreigners in general?

[Answer: Yes it does, See my comment preceding this article.]

Mark in Yayoi

ENDS

Original Japanese:

不法滞在者向け職質逃れマニュアル出回る
産經新聞 2009.1.13 01:01

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/crime/090113/crm0901130102001-n1.htm
「歩いていて警察に止められたとき、うまく逃げられる方法を教えます」−。そんなうたい文句で、警察の職務質問を逃れる方法を指南する不法滞在者向けマニュアルが出回っている。在日中国人、在日韓国人向けの新聞やフリーペーパーに広告を出して販売されていたという。警視庁組織犯罪対策1課はマニュアルを入手、各警察署に注意を呼びかける一方、これらの新聞に違法広告が掲載されるなど犯罪の温床になっているケースもあり、警戒を強めている。
「心理利用」
同課が入手したのは「自分の安全を守るテクニック〜自分の安全は自分で守ろう!!」と題されたマニュアル。新聞広告に掲載された連絡先にメールを送り、専用口座に購入代金3800円を振り込むと、マニュアルが添付されたメールが返送される仕組みだ。
返送メールには「法の不備のすき間と人間の心理を利用して考え出した方法」と宣伝されていた。
《大事なのはカバンを持つこと。サラリーマンを演じるのなら、完璧(かんぺき)に演じたほうが良いです。カバン持たない日本人サラリーマンを見かけたことありますか?》
《次は髪形です。日本の美容院は高いですが、自分への投資ですから節約せずにパンと使ったほうがいいでしょう》

マニュアルは、こうした“外見上”の注意に始まり、実際に警察に「外国人登録証を見せてほしい」と職務質問された際の逃れ方に至る。
《自分がよく通る場所の交番に行って「紛失届」を出しておき、「この前、財布ごとなくしました。あっちの交番に紛失届も出しています」と答えます。ビザがないのではなく、なくしただけの状況になります》
《もうひとつ面白いテクニックもあります。地域の全部の交番に「紛失届」を出します。出したその日にまた交番に行って「すみません、財布を拾った人から連絡がありました」と「紛失届」を消します。夜その交番を通るときに、必ず「財布戻ってきたのです」と自分からあいさつします。1日3回あいさつをすることによって、貴方は住んでいる地域の警察に「礼儀正しい外国人だな」と覚えられ、そのあとからは普通に歩いても何の心配もありません》
同課は、こうした方法で摘発を逃れようとする不法滞在者がいることを各警察署に内部文書で伝え、職務質問上の注意を呼びかけた。しかし、マニュアル販売の行為を処罰するには適用法令がないという。

積極摘発も
ただ、こうした新聞には違法な広告も掲載され、摘発につながった例もある。
同課は昨年8月、在日中国人向けの新聞やフリーペーパーに未承認の医薬品の広告を載せ、無許可で販売したとして、薬事法違反の疑いで在日中国人の男女を逮捕した。
同10、11月にはこの広告を載せた新聞社など7社の中国人幹部から事情を聴いた。幹部らは「違法とは知らなかった」などと答えたため、薬事法違反の共犯や幇助(ほうじよ)での立件は見送ったが、始末書を出させ警告した。
同課は「ほかにも悪質な広告はあるだろう。警戒していきたい」と話し、違法なケースでは積極的に摘発する方針だ。

ENDS

Kyodo: Special unemployment office being studied for NJ workers with PR

mytest

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 some very mixed news. The GOJ will study how to offer help unemployed NJ to make sure inter alia their kids stay in school. Thanks, but then it limits the scope to Permanent Residents. Probably a lot more of the NJ getting fired are factory workers here on visas (Trainee, Researcher, etc) that give the employer the means to pay them poorly and fire them at will already. So why not help them too? Oh, they and their kids don’t count the same, I guess. Considering how hard and arbitrary it can be to get PR in the first place, this is hardly fair. Expand the study group to help anyone with a valid visa. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Gov’t to set up office to support foreign residents who lose jobs

TOKYO —

The Japanese government will establish an office to study measures to support foreign nationals with permanent residency status who lose their jobs amid the recession, Yuko Obuchi, state minister on Japan’s declining child population, said Friday. ‘‘We would like to expedite studying measures needed based on reports from people concerned on their actual difficulties and needs,’’ she said at a press conference.

Last month, Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said Japan will provide support to foreign nationals with permanent residency who have lost their jobs and are suffering economic hardship amid the deteriorating economy. ‘‘Japanese people are facing difficulties under current employment conditions, and foreigners must be facing more difficulties,’’ Kawamura said, adding that the government will set up a team to tackle the issue. The measures are expected to include one to help them find jobs and another to help foreign children attend schools, Kawamura said.

ENDS

Japan Times on international trends towards allowing citizens to become multinational

mytest

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. In yet another excellent article from the Japan Times (with information on what countries are in Japan’s league of strict jus sanguinis) indicating how the worldwide trend has been towards granting people, or allowing them to keep, dual nationality. The GOJ and their online apologists are running out of excuses. Debito in Sapporo

—————————-

 

News photo

THE MANY FACES OF CITIZENSHIP
Multinationalism remains far from acceptance in Japan
By SETSUKO KAMIYA, Staff writer
THE JAPAN TIMES, Sunday, January 4, 2009 Third in a series

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090104f1.html

In a country notorious for its exclusive immigration policy, the question of whether to allow Japanese to hold dual citizenship became a surprisingly hot policy topic last year after members of the ruling party breached the issue.

In many other parts of the world, it’s a matter that has already been discussed in great depth, and observers agree that an increasing number of countries are moving toward allowing citizens to become multinational.

As of 2000, around 90 countries and territories permitted dual citizenship either fully or with exceptional permission, according to the “Backgrounder,” published by the Center for Immigration Studies in the United States, and “Citizenship Laws of the World” by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Since the reports came out, several countries have lifted bans on dual nationality. As a consequence, there are more than 90 countries backing dual nationality by default today.

“The trend is dramatic and nearly unidirectional. A clear majority of countries now accepts dual citizenship,” said Peter Spiro, an expert on multi nationality issues at Temple University Beasley School of Law.

“Plural citizenship has quietly become a defining feature of globalization.”

Countries such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom who go by the principle of jus soli, which gives nationality to everyone born on their soil and territories, have long been lenient in permitting dual citizenship.

The shift is also being seen in countries that have traditionally adhered to jus sanguinis, which says that a child’s nationality is determined by his parent’s citizenship.

The change in jus sanguinis countries first grew prominent in European countries, followed by some South American and Asian states, largely as a result of economic globalization and the expansion in people’s mobility over the past few decades.

Europe’s general acceptance of dual nationality is stated in the 1997 European Convention on Nationality, which stipulates that while member states can define their own citizens, they must at least allow children of international marriages and immigrants to hold dual nationality.

This was a major shift from traditional attitudes in the region, stated in a 1963 convention that supported the single nationality principle.

Atsushi Kondo, a law professor at Meijo University, explained that the economic growth after World War II and the formation of the European Union are two major reasons driving the change.

After WWII, the western European countries, who had been a source of emigrants, began accepting foreigners in their labor forces to deal with the rise in economic development they were enjoying.

Contrary to the initial presumption of European states that immigrant workers will eventually pack up and leave at some point, many foreigners have stayed longer and settled. They not only brought in more family members to their new homes, but married citizens of those countries as well, Kondo said.

As more immigrants virtually became permanent residents, many governments eventually reached the conclusion that securing the rights of foreigners and integrating them with society was unavoidable if they were to bring about a fair and democratic society, he explained.

“These countries have become aware that leaving the status of foreigners unstable was violating their human rights and making society unfair” and wanted to avoid that, Kondo said.

Meanwhile, countries whose citizens are migrating to other countries have also granted dual citizenship to the Diaspora.

Among them are many Latin American countries, who took this step in the 1990s because many of their citizens were immigrating to the U.S.

For example, Colombia acknowledged dual nationality in 1991, the Dominican Republic in 1994, Brazil in 1996 and Mexico in 1998.

Joining the club in recent years have been Asian countries, such as the Philippines, India and Vietnam.

Since September 2003, native Filipinos who have become citizens of other countries through naturalization have been able to reacquire Filipino citizenship by taking the oath of allegiance to their motherland.

In 2005, India began granting people of Indian origin living in other countries, except Pakistan and Bangladesh, “Overseas Citizenship of India” if their habitual resident countries recognize dual citizenship.

While voting rights are not given, OCI holders will be allowed multiple-entry visas and hold equal economic, financial and educational benefits.

And from this year, some 3.5 million Vietnamese living abroad will also be able to obtain citizenship thanks to legislation passed by the Vietnamese parliament in November allowing dual nationality.

Last year, South Korea began reviewing ways to permit Koreans to hold dual nationalities under certain conditions. This is in line with the policies that President Lee Myung Bak has said he wanted to actualize.

Spiro of Temple University, who recently wrote the book “Beyond Citizenship,” said states that are major producers of immigrants have been looking into cementing ties with emigrant populations, largely for economic reasons.

“Embracing dual nationality is like a tool for harnessing the economic power of external citizens,” Spiro said.

“Instead of forcing emigrants to make a choice, or treating them like traitors to the homeland, emigrants can both integrate with their new place of residence at the same time that they maintain the citizenship tie with their homeland,” he noted.

While simultaneously holding citizenship in more than one country can bring more opportunities to individuals, it also brings risks, such as mandatory military service or taxation obligations.

But both Spiro and Kondo said many countries have reconciled this on the basis of residence.

For example, in European countries, if one holds citizenship in two countries where military service is mandatory, the person only need serve one of them, usually the country in which they reside.

People with dual nationality are also warned about the risk of running into trouble or accidents when one of the two countries does not acknowledge dual citizenship. In those circumstances, the other government is limited in what it can do for the person.

Kondo, however, said that in many cases, especially emergencies, many governments take humanitarian actions and make claims to the other country in a peaceful manner to secure the safety of the citizen.

Jus sanguinis countries like Japan have traditionally been less tolerant of dual nationality because people tend to regard themselves as an exclusively racially homogeneous, Kondo explained.

While Japan does not allow dual citizenship, people can acquire more than one nationality upon birth if the parents are a Japanese and a foreigner, or if a Japanese couple have a baby in countries where citizenship is given to those born on their soil.

RELATED STORY

For babies, nationality depends on birthplace, parents

In such cases, Japanese nationality law stipulates that the child must select one of the nationalities permanently before turning 22 years old.

While the law is rigid about this rule, the reality is that the Justice minister has never strictly imposed it on anyone who actually has two nationalities.

“It’s not favorable to force a citizen to choose one among his parents,” Kondo said.

“It will take a very, very long time before Japan becomes a jus soli country, but at least it is possible to gradually set the bar lower” and accept dual citizens as other countries have done, he said.

Even in countries like the U.S., for example, there are voices calling for scaling back birthright citizenship to children of illegal immigrants.

However, Spiro said that there is very little real political support in U.S. for opposing dual citizenship.

This is partly due to the rise of dual citizens among powerful political constituencies, such as Irish-, Italian- and Jewish-Americans, but also because dual citizens pose very little threat of any description to local society, he said.

“The U.S. and many European nations now understand that dual citizenship doesn’t pose much of a threat . . . In many states, the acceptance is now nearly absolute,” Spiro said.
The Japan Times: Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009
ENDS

AFP and Yomiuri: How to get around J border fingerprinting: tape!

mytest

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 update about that old fingerprinting at the border thingie “to prevent terrorism, infectious diseases, and foreign crime”. Here’s one way how you get around it: special tape on your fingers! Two articles on this below.

Also, just so that people are aware that your fingerprints are NOT cross-checked immediately within the database: I have a friend who always uses different fingers when he comes back into Japan (index fingers one time, middle fingers the next, alternating; Immigration can’t see), and he has NEVER been snagged (on the spot or later) for having different fingerprints from one time to the next. Try it yourself and see. Anyway, if people are getting caught, it’s for passports, not fingerprints.  Arudou Debito
===========================

SKorean fools finger printing system at Japan airport: reports

TOKYO (AFP) – A South Korean woman barred from entering Japan last year passed through its immigration screening system by using tape on her fingers to fool a fingerprint reading machine, reports said Thursday.

The biometric system was installed in 30 airports in 2007 to improve security and prevent terrorists from entering into Japan, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.

The woman, who has a deportation record, told investigators that she placed special tapes on her fingers to pass through a fingerprint reader, according to Kyodo News.

Japan spent more than four billion yen (44 million dollars) to install the system, which reads the index fingerprints of visitors and instantly cross-checks them with a database of international fugitives and foreigners with deportation records, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.

The South Korean woman was deported in July 2007 for illegally staying in Japan after she worked as a bar hostess in Nagano in central Japan, Kyodo said, citing justice ministry sources.

She was not allowed to re-enter Japan for five years after deportation but the Tokyo immigration bureau found her in August 2008 again in Nagano, Kyodo said.

A South Korean broker is believed to have supplied her with the tapes and a fake passport, the Yomiuri said, adding that officials believe many more foreigners might have entered Japan using the same technique.

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

The abovementioned Yomiuri article, courtesy of Jeff K and Tony K:

S. Korean woman ‘tricked’ airport fingerprint scan

A South Korean woman entered Japan on a fake passport in April 2008 by slipping through a state-of-the-art biometric immigration control system using special tape on her fingers to alter her fingerprints, it was learned Wednesday.

According to sources, the woman, 51, was deported from Japan in 2007 for staying illegally. However, she was found in August 2008 to have reentered the country and was detained by the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau.

The woman was quoted as telling the immigration bureau that she put special tape on her index fingers to cheat the fingerprint scanner at immigration.

The biometric system was introduced at 30 airports around the country in November 2007, and was aimed mainly at preventing entry by international terrorists. A scanner reads the index fingerprints of both hands and instantly crosschecks these with a database of international fugitives and foreigners with deportation records.

The sources said the fact that the woman was so easily able to beat the sophisticated computer system will force the government into a drastic review of its counterterrorist measures and the current screening immigration system.

The immigration bureau reported to the Justice Ministry that a considerable number of South Koreans might have entered Japan illegally using the same technique, as a South Korean broker is believed to have helped the woman enter Japan. The ministry also has begun an investigation into the case.

According to immigration officials, the bureau held the woman in mid-July 2007 for working illegally in the city of Nagano as a hostess after her tourist visa expired. She was banned from reentering Japan for five years and deported to South Korea from Narita Airport.

However, the bureau was tipped off by an anonymous source in early August last year that the woman had been seen again in Nagano. The bureau found she was living in an apartment in the city and detained her again on suspicion of violating the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law.

According to the immigration officials, the woman had a forged passport stating that she had passed immigration checks at Aomori Airport in Aomori Prefecture at the end of April last year.

During questioning, the woman allegedly told the immigration bureau that she had bought a forged passport from a South Korean broker who told her to purchase an air ticket for Aomori Airport.

The woman also was quoted as saying that the broker gave her the special tape with someone else’s fingerprints on, and that she slipped past the biometric recognition system by holding her taped index fingers over the scanner.

According to an analysis by the bureau, regular adhesive tape does not work, as the scanner fails to read any prints. The results have led the immigration bureau to suspect that the woman might have used a special tape bearing someone else’s fingerprints.

Although the bureau detained the woman at an immigration facility for further questioning, she did not provide information that pinpointed what the tape is made of or the South Korean broker before she was deported again in mid-September.

The bureau has compiled a report based on her statements and submitted it to the Justice Ministry. The report says it is conceivable such tape exists and that the South Korean broker might have helped a considerable number of foreigners enter Japan using it.

According to the ministry, the immigration section at Aomori Airport kept images of the woman’s fingerprints, but they were imperfect and did not match the genuine fingerprints of the woman.

(Jan. 1, 2009)
ends

Another excellent JT article on dual nationality and the conflicts within

mytest

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 another article from the toshiake excellent series in the Japan Times on Japan’s loopy nationality laws: This time talking about what some people who are the projects of J-NJ unions in Japan face in terms of legality and societal treatment. It raises the question we’ve been asking here on Debito.org for more than a decade now: Why do we have to force these people to give up part of themselves to be Japanese? What good does it do them, and how does it serve the interests of the State to put people through this identity ordeal? Enough already. Allow dual nationality and be sensible. You’ll get more Nobel Prizes. Arudou Debito

PS:  Note how Sunny Yasuda below felt rotten being called a “gaijin”, much better after being at least qualified as some sort of Japanese.  It’s that word again.  SITYS.

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

THE MANY FACES OF CITIZENSHIP
Benefits in offing for those allowed multiple citizenship
The Japan Times: Saturday, Jan. 3, 2009
By ALEX MARTIN, Staff writer

Second in a series

Sunny Yasuda can only vaguely remember his father. By the time he was born in Tokyo in 1975, his parents’ marriage was on the verge of collapse, and his Indian father soon returned to his homeland, leaving his Japanese mother on her own to raise their three children.

News photo
My place: Sunny Yasuda stands in front of the restaurant he manages in Tokyo on Monday. ALEX MARTIN

Yasuda cannot speak English, Hindi or any Indian languages, and as far as upbringing is concerned, is Japanese in every single aspect except for his appearance — his tanned complexion and South Asian features reflect his mixed background, something he recalls has always forced him to be an outsider when he was growing up.

And like so many other offspring of international relationships, Yasuda has experienced his share of dealing with Japan’s Nationality Law, which forbids retention of multiple citizenships to those over 22 — a rule the government cannot enforce due to technical difficulties, and an ambiguity that affects the lives and identity of many with similar backgrounds to Yasuda.

“I was the unlucky one,” Yasuda joked, when recalling how his older brother and sister both filed for Japanese nationality soon after Jan. 1, 1985, when the law was amended to allow Japanese nationality to children born in Japan to Japanese mothers.

Inheritance of citizenship was previously based on paternal lineage, and Yasuda and his siblings were all registered as Indian nationals upon birth.

“They had a choice, I didn’t,” Yasuda said, referring to the difference between him and his older brother and sister.

Those aged over 15 during the three years after the new law came into effect were considered eligible to apply without parental consent, and Yasuda’s siblings satisfied the requirement.

Yasuda, however, was 9 at the time, and needed both his father’s and mother’s written approval, which he could not obtain. His parents never officially filed for divorce — if they had, his mother’s consent would have been enough. His father had long since left the country and had effectively ceased contact with the family.

“Even if I had dual nationalities, I think I’d still have opted to be Japanese. I was told that you had to decide on one before you turned 20 or 21, and that’s what my brother and sister did,” he said.

Yasuda became a naturalized Japanese citizen when he was 17, soon after he attained permanent residency status. “We’re all Japanese now.”

“You know, you just ask yourself, ‘What’s the point?’ ” Yasuda said, recalling why he gave up his father’s nationality.

“I’d never been to India, and I only met my father once or twice when I was a kid. I heard he’s already passed away,” he said.

Still, Yasuda believes that people like himself, who were ignorant of the law or their cultural backgrounds due to the environment they grew up in, should be offered another chance.

“India’s in my blood. Yeah, I grew up in Japan, but it’s still a part of my roots. If I’d had the chance now, I would definitely want Indian nationality. It’ll give me new chances, new potentials, whether it be work-related or not,” he said, recalling how he had always been forced to be conscious of his racial heritage.

“Whatever job I took, wherever I went, I’d always start off as the ‘gaijin’ (foreigner),” said Yasuda, who has been working in bars and restaurants since finishing junior high school. He said that began to change when he was around 20.

“I think it was around then that I noticed a lot more foreigners in town. People began complimenting me for being a ‘half’ (of mixed descent), and I guess that sort of turned things around for me, changed my attitude, helped me feel positive,” he said, adding that if he ever has children, he would be sure to educate them about the culture of their grandfather’s country.

The number of international marriages in Japan has steadily increased over the years, peaking in 2006 at 44,701, accounting for 6.5 percent of all marriages that year according to health ministry statistics. The number of children born with multiple nationalities is believed to have been increasing accordingly, with unofficial government estimates predicting that there were 530,000 as of 2006.

Take the case of a 25-year-old Tokyo-based freelance Web and graphic designer born to a Japanese mother and British father. The man, who declined to be identified, decided to retain his dual nationality status even after he turned 22, when those with multiple nationalities are advised to officially give up one or the other.

The man initially only had British citizenship until his parents filed for his Japanese nationality following the 1985 amendment. He grew up receiving a Japanese education until high school, when he decided to transfer to a school in the U.K., eventually attending university there before returning to Japan.

“I’ve got two passports under two separate names. One has my Japanese name, the other my English name. How could authorities determine if it’s the same person?” the designer asked, adding that even if they did find out that he still kept both, there would be nothing they could do to force on him a decision — it would be tantamount to intervening in the internal affairs of the other nation.

He noted, however, that if he were forced to renounce either one of his nationalities, he would keep his British citizenship.

“Practically speaking, I could probably file for permanent residency in Japan relatively easily, having lived here for so long,” he said, adding that he felt being European would be more useful in his life.

“You know, I think this law is sort of like an urban legend,” he added, referring to the ambiguity of the age limit that some comply with but many are said to ignore, and the public’s lack of knowledge regarding the facts of the law.

“I’ve been paying my Japanese taxes, pension fees, I’ve got voting rights — I’d protest if authorities came to me now and took my Japanese nationality away,” he said, adding that he didn’t understand why Japan, with no mandatory military draft, disapproves of multiple nationalities.

This sentiment was echoed by a 30-year-old woman born in Japan to an American father and Japanese mother.

“I don’t understand the downside for Japan to allow dual nationalities. With a shrinking population and workforce, I would think they would want to encourage as many people as possible to live and work in Japan,” said the woman, a production specialist working for a Japanese game maker in San Francisco.

She, like her U.S.-born twin brother and sister, is a U.S. citizen, with permanent resident status in Japan. Her youngest brother, however, was born after 1985 and retains both nationalities.

“The real discrepancy (in the family) is between (my youngest brother) and me. We were both born in Japan to the same parents, but I was born 10 years earlier than him,” she said, explaining how her parents considered getting Japanese nationalities for their three older children after 1985, but in the end felt it was more hassle than it was worth.

The woman said that because she doesn’t have Japanese citizenship, she had to return to Nagoya, her home city, every few years to renew her re-entry permit, something her youngest brother doesn’t have to do.

“Another thing that bothers me recently is the right to vote,” she added. “As someone who’s spent the great majority of her life in Japan and has every other privilege as a Japanese person, I think it makes sense that I should have a voice on the decisions being made in government that would affect my life.”

In Mika Yuki’s case, however, it wasn’t the 1985 amendment that prompted her family to file for her Japanese nationality.

Her father originally came from Hong Kong. After marrying his Japanese wife and having fathered Yuki, he became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 1986, and on the same day, applied for her Japanese citizenship, passing on his newfound nationality to his daughter, who was born as a British national.

“I’ve never visited England in my life, and was never too conscious of my British nationality,” said Yuki, 26, who spent her high school and college years in the United States before returning to Japan to work at her father’s jewelry company in Tokyo.

She said that although she does consider Japan her home, she never strongly felt Japanese. Spending part of her youth in the U.S., she recalls how she always felt slightly out of place in both Japan and the U.S.

“I’ve thought about nationality and about its significance many times,” she said. “But in the end, it doesn’t really matter where I was born. I belong where my family is.”

Yuki said she was not even sure if she still retained her British citizenship. “I was told that eventually I would have to decide on one nationality over the other, but with the 1997 (handover) of Hong Kong to China, I’m not sure what’s happened to it,” she said.

The British Embassy in Tokyo said that those who haven’t applied for a British National (Overseas) nationality — a tailor-made nationality for Hong Kong residents with British Dependent Territories citizen status — by 1997 would have automatically lost their former British nationality.

Then there’s the case of a 27-year-old Japanese woman. In 2006, she filed marriage papers with her British husband, and the couple had a daughter the following year. The mother currently juggles her career with raising her 1-year-old.

The daughter is Japanese, something improbable before 1985. Her parents haven’t applied for her to obtain British citizenship just yet, although they plan on doing so soon — it could be done any time since the U.K. recognizes dual nationality.

It will be another 20 years before the girl might have to decide — if the current Nationality Law remains unchanged — on one nationality over the other. However, it is impossible to tell how she would perceive her identity when she reaches that age.

“In order for (my daughter) to embrace her international background as something to be proud of, I think it’s necessary that she be able to permanently keep her dual nationalities,” the mother said.

ENDS

Japan Times Zeit Gist followup on Dec’s Otaru Onsen lawsuit analysis

mytest

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.  Last month the Japan Times put a cat amongst the pigeons last December with a Zeit Gist column about the Otaru Onsens Case, decrying the court ruling against racial discrimination as something undermining Japanese society.

It caused quite a stir, according to my editor, with most of the comments coming in critical of the thesis.  Some of the responses were worth a reprint as a follow-up column, and that came out last Tuesday.  Have a read.  And yes, I briefly responded too (although only on this site as a comment), which I paste at the very bottom below.  Love the illustration, as always.  Arudou Debito

News photo

Otaru ruling beats ‘mob rule’
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009
Dan O’Keeffe defends court’s 2002 decision in ‘onsen’ case
By DAN O’KEEFFE

Paul de Vries’ treatise on group accountability in Japanese society (“Back to the baths: Otaru revisited,” Zeit Gist, Dec. 2) offered a new take on the now familiar story of the court case between Japan’s naturalized enfant terrible, Debito Arudou, and the managers of the Yunohana public bath in Otaru, Hokkaido. De Vries presented a “thin edge of the wedge” argument for the ultimate unraveling of Japanese society if certain groups are no longer allowed to practice overt discrimination in the name of making Japan “cohesive and safe.”

However, by using the crutch of group discrimination to prop up the old utilitarian bulwark that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, De Vries simply makes the case that the prejudices of the majority outweigh the rights of the minority. Call it “group accountability,” call it “might means right,” call it “mob rule” — whichever way you spin it, it is simply a form of institutionalized bullying that limits Japan’s ability to create a dynamic, enlightened society for the 21st century.

De Vries’ primary objection to the Arudou judgment 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.’ “

“Racial application of group accountability” sounds so much nicer than boring old “racial discrimination,” doesn’t it? The question is whether there really is any difference between the two. Sadly, De Vries offers no logical reasons why we should see his preferred version of these two (identical) concepts as being anything other than a new name for the same old discredited idea. To deny access to public facilities to an innocent individual because of the color of their skin is simply wrong, regardless of who is doing it or what their motives are.

The judge in the Arudou case rightly recognized that the managers of the bath were using race as their sole means of determining who would be able to access their facility. That Arudou, a Japanese citizen, was denied entry shows that the management of the facility was not interested in denying entry to non-Japanese per se, they were in fact trying to exclude people on the basis of how they look. To find for the defendant, the judge in this case would have had to be convinced that it is acceptable to deny access to a public facility to an individual not based on the way he or she behaves, their capacity to pay, or even their nationality, but solely on the way they look.

Leaving aside the morally reprehensible aspects of this idea, there is also the farcical notion of who gets to decide just what constitutes “Japanese-looking.” Black hair and brown eyes are in plentiful supply in many parts of the world, as are epicanthic folds (where a fold of the upper eyelid covers the inner corner of the eye). In the popular mind, Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi looked “Japanese enough” to play Sayuri in the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha,” but would she be Japanese enough to make it past the sentries at Yunohana onsen? How about Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh? How about Mickey Rooney dressed as Mr. Yunioshi from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”?

Clearly, there is no objective basis for deciding who looks Japanese, just as there is no basis for using racial features as a pretext for a denial of rights. How one looks doesn’t determine how one will behave. The management at Yunohana onsen was using a ridiculous standard to tackle their problem and the judgment against them reflected that.

De Vries tells us that individuals should be prepared to sacrifice certain freedoms in the name of social cohesion. It all sounds very nice and honorable and somewhat in the vein of great social thinkers such as John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, but only superficially. Where Rousseau saw individual submission to a “general will” as an essential part of the social contract in a civil society, he also saw the need for individual liberty to be enshrined in the fabric of a community. In his 1762 “Of The Social Contract,” Rousseau wrote that the group must “receive each individual as an indivisible part of the whole.”

Under De Vries’ model, individuals are forced to offer the same submission to the will of the dominant, but they must do so without the protections and privileges of individual rights and freedoms. Irrespective of cultural differences, group accountability has largely been rejected in the West because it is intellectually lazy and it doesn’t work. Just because it’s common here doesn’t make it right.

De Vries tells us that we needn’t worry when Japanese apply such group accountability, even on a blatantly racial basis, because they do so with a benevolently “even hand.” Despite the scant comfort this brings to those on the receiving end, even this turns out to be little more than wishful thinking.

De Vries wonders at the lack of comment from the foreign community regarding the introduction of women-only carriages on commuter trains since 2002. He cites a lack of outcry as evidence that men understand that such a case of group accountability is reasonable. What De Vries has failed to take into account is that women-only carriages do not prevent anyone from accessing a public utility: Men simply redistribute themselves among the remaining carriages, an act which would not be considered a sanction or punishment by any reasonable person. De Vries draws a long bow in arguing that this is an example of group accountability when no one is punished. Presumably one could use the same confused logic to rail against women’s toilets, single-sex schools and the WNBA. Moreover, moving the potential victims rather than actually tackling the problem of molestation hardly holds anyone to account, group or otherwise.

Tellingly, De Vries was silent on the matter of how it came to be that there are so many “chikan” (gropers) on Japanese trains, especially since he goes to great lengths to tell us that “the fear of random violence is relatively low” in Japan.

De Vries again fires wide of the mark with his reference to the mandatory fingerprinting and photographing of foreign nationals upon entry to Japan. Given that the actions of Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese Red Army and various politically motivated assassins have shown that any terrorist threat against Japan is far more likely to be a homegrown one, can the targeting of foreign nationals for fingerprinting really be legitimized by the concept of group accountability? Further, where is the group accountability of Japanese themselves in these cases?

It is clear that De Vries thinks it perfectly rational for Japanese authorities to lump all non-Japanese, be they Chinese or Chilean, American or Armenian, Irish or Amish, into one enormous clade and treat them as equally prone to criminality and violence, as opposed to peaceful, law-abiding Japanese. This is patently absurd, as if all Japan’s troublemakers come from elsewhere.

As with the Yunohana onsen case, simply banning or punishing a whole group of people on racial grounds fails to target only those who break the rules (drunken bathers, terrorists) but succeeds in impinging on the rights of a large number of innocent people. If you want to prevent drunken people from ruining your onsen, then deny entry to people who are intoxicated — a simple breathalyzer test will suffice. Similarly, if you want to catch criminals entering the country via an airport, fingerprint everyone arriving: You’ll catch a lot more criminals that way and no one will be discriminated against.

The reality is, however, that the Japanese government would not insist on fingerprinting all arriving passengers regardless of nationality because of the uproar it would cause among Japanese people — Japanese people who can vote. This is the crux of the argument against group accountability: It allows the powerful to dictate to the weak. By singling out foreigners for fingerprinting, the authorities were imposing a regulation on a section of the community that had no means of voicing its displeasure other than the various petitions and forums that De Vries found so “unbelievable.”

As De Vries also points out, group accountability circumvents the rule of law. This encourages mob rule and bullying. In Japan, this manifests itself in ways ranging from the violent hazing of military personnel and the trauma of “park debut” for young mothers, to “karoshi” (death through overwork). Group accountability isolates, divides and discriminates. None of this helps Japan progress and develop as a cohesive society.

The history of human societies is a litany of division and stratification, be it on ethnic, caste, religious or economic lines. Time and again, the one thing that has brought about positive change and integration has been a respect for individual rights and a rejection of group accountability. It is the lesson of Gandhi, Mandela and Martin Luther King.

By protecting individual rights and demanding corresponding individual responsibilities, societies offer each and every member the chance to live their lives productively and with dignity. If De Vries’ forthcoming book discusses what Japan can teach the world, the lesson may well be how not to do it.

Dan O’Keeffe is a faculty member at Osaka Electro-Communication University. Send comments on this issue and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp

===================================
Back to the baths: readers responses

Following are a couple of responses to “Back to the baths: Otaru revisited” (Zeit Gist, Dec. 2).

Substitution speaks volumes

I often think it is useful to substitute alternative racial groups when someone writes something, to see whether it is a racist statement or not. Here we go for the final paragraph of Mr. De Vries’ article:

“And this brings us to the point that (Debito) Arudou ignores or simply fails to see. Group accountability is Ghettos are not employed in Japan Nazi Germany simply for the sake of pushing people around. It is They are employed for the purpose of making Japan the Fatherland cohesive and safe. It is a major reason why Japan Germany, unlike the U.S., is a nation in which the fear of random violence is relatively low. If Arudou succeeds in his quest, Japan Germany 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 race-driven slight human-rights abuse.”

Some people may complain about my use of the example of Jews in Nazi Germany, but would the story be significantly improved if we used another group, another injustice? How about African-Americans in pre-civil rights movement America, or blacks in South Africa under apartheid, or Aborigines in Australia, or something even simpler and closer to home, like the continuing struggle for equal rights for women in almost every country in the world?

One wonders just what Mr. De Vries is afraid of from his fellow man. I am not afraid. Arudou-san is apparently not afraid. No, Mr De Vries is simply using an imaginary perceived threat to justify the subjugation of the rights of one group by another.

Not all discrimination is wrong. We all discriminate for and against people for a variety of reasons — we can’t help it; it’s built into our brains. We instinctively make patterns linking people to events, both positive and negative, even when those associations are false. However, that doesn’t make it right to allow or promote legal discrimination on the basis of something so arbitrary as race or sex. It is important to remember what laws are there for — to protect the weak from the strong, the minorities from the majorities, and even occasionally the majorities from themselves.

Louis J. Irving
Sendai

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

Article made me rethink ideas

What a great article! I have been giving some thought to Westerners’ reaction to what I now know — thanks to you — as “group accountability.” I’ve tried to take sides — for or against the Japanese government — but I hadn’t been able to come to a clear conclusion.

Sure, the Japanese demonstrate a certain amount of xenophobia, but if I take a second to look at my nation of origin (Quebec, Canada), we are quite the same in our own way. Immigrants in Canada are supposedly widely accepted, but they’re still labeled as “immigrants” anyway, and I had to come and live here to realize that.

One perennial hot topic is Japan’s past “war efforts.” It took me six years to start reconsidering some firm opinions that I held (the horrors committed were very “Japanese”; their arrogance was unique to them; their occupation of other countries and the use of forced labor in factories and brothels are unforgivable, etc.), but then I realize that my very own country did just as bad in its own time, and so did our neighbors.

Your article clarified many things for me. I look forward to reading your book.

Pierre Nadeau 
Shimizu, Wakayama Pref.

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009
ENDS

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

Debito here. How I responded to the De Vries article some weeks ago:

Hi Blog. Sorry to keep you waiting. A few opinions in addition to yours (thanks to everyone for commenting on Debito.org):

I’ll start with my conclusion. Look, as Ken said above, this article is basically incoherent. We have a flawed academic theory (which somehow groups people into two rigid ideological categories — 2.5 categories if you slice this into “American standards” as well) regarding social sanction and control, and proceeds on faith that this pseudo-dichotomy actually exists. As evidence, we have citations of women-only train carriages and border fingerprinting — both fundamentally dissimilar in content, origin, and enforcement to the onsens case. And presto, the conclusion is we must maintain this dichotomy (and condemn the Japanese judiciary for chipping away at it) for the sake of Japan’s safety and social cohesion.

Get it? Sorry, I don’t. That’s why I’m not going to do a paragraph-by-paragraph commentary on what is essentially ideological nonsense.

But I will mention some glaring errors and omissions in the article:

1) “Pushed to the brink of ruin… by the behavior of Russian sailors”. Not quite. Earth Cure KK’s original sauna did go bankrupt (shortly after it opened Yunohana in 1998), but it’s not as if the Russian sailors descended on the former. The sauna in fact courted Russian business, and according to sources in Otaru offered information to them at portside. The sauna’s location was, quite simply, bad, being on the higher floor of a bar district, and went bankrupt like plenty of other decrepit bathhouses are around Japan. And as other bathhouses around Otaru noted, “Why did Yunohana [which never let in any foreigners and thus never, despite the claims of the article, suffered any damage] feel so special as to need signs up? We didn’t put up signs and still stayed in business.” Because it’s easier to blame the foreigner for one’s own business problems; as was the fashion for some at the time.

Proof in hindsight: Now the signs are down, Yunohana as a franchise has profited enough to open three more branches around this part of Hokkaido, so nuts to the idea the company was ever in any danger of going bankrupt due to rampaging NJ. There are simply some people who do not like foreigners in this world, and some of them just happen to be running businesses. That’s why other developed countries have actual laws to stop them, unlike Japan. It had nothing to do with grandiloquent theories like “group accountability”.

2) This theory assumes the “group” being held accountable has clearly-defined dichotomous borders that are easily enforced. The article neglects to make clear that other members of the “group”, as in Japanese citizens, were also being turned away from places like Yunohana — and I’m not referring only to myself. I’m referring to other Japanese children (and not just one of mine). Hence given the overlap of internationalization, the theory, even if possibly correct, is in practice unenforceable.

3) And it is moot anyway. There is no mention of international treaty (the ICERD) which Japan effected in 1996, where it promised to enforce standard UN-sanctioned international norms and rules to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. These are not “American” standards, as the article claims. These are world standards that the GOJ has acknowledged as the rules of play in this situation. The end.

4) The court decisions (there were in fact two, plus a Supreme Court dismissal) in any case does a) admit there was racial discrimination, but b) that RD was not the illegal activity. It was c) “unrational discrimination” based upon the judges’ interpretation of Japanese Civil Law, not the ICERD per se. Thus the standards being applied are in fact Japanese. Read the court documents. Everything is online. And in book form. In two languages.

There are more errors, but never mind. If the writer were to do a bit more homework about the facts of the case at hand, instead of trying to squash a landmark legal case into his own ideological framework, I think we might have had a more interesting discussion. But working backwards from a conclusion (especially when it’s a dogma) rarely results in good science, alas. Maybe his advertised book will offer something with better analytical power. Arudou Debito

ends

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Jan 6 2009 reviewing 2008’s human rights advances

mytest

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.  Here’s my latest Japan Times column, which came out last Tuesday.  Links to sources provided.  Debito

justbecauseicon.jpg
JUST BE CAUSE
2008: THE YEAR IN HUMAN RIGHTS
By Arudou Debito, Article 11 for JBC Column
Published January 6, 2009
Draft Seven as submitted to editor.
Published version at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090106ad.html

As we start 2009, let’s recharge the batteries by reviewing last year’s good news. Here is my list of top human rights advancements for 2008, in ascending order:

As we start 2009, let’s recharge the batteries by reviewing last year’s good news. Here is my list of top human rights advancements for 2008, in ascending order:

6) The U Hoden Lawsuit Victory (Dec. 21, 2007, but close enough): The plaintiff is a Chinese-born professor at Japan Women’s University, who sued for damages on behalf of his Japanese grade-school daughter. Abused by classmates for her Chinese roots, she suffered at school and was medically diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Professor U took the parents of the bullies to court and won.

WHY THIS MATTERS: In an era when elementary schools are seeing the byproduct of Japan’s frequent international marriages, this ruling sets a positive precedent both for insensitive local Boards of Education and parents who want to protect their kids.
http://www.debito.org/?p=874

5) Strawberry Fields Forever (Feb. 11): Fifteen Chinese Trainees sued strawberry farms in Tochigi Prefecture for unpaid wages, unfair dismissal, and an attempted repatriation by force. Thanks to Zentoitsu Workers Union, they were awarded 2 million yen each in back pay and overtime, a formal apology, and reinstatement in their jobs.

WHY THIS MATTERS: This is another good precedent treating NJ laborers (who as Trainees aren’t covered by labor laws) the same as Japanese workers. It is also the namesake of German documentary “Sour Strawberries” (www.vimeo.com/2276295), premiering in Japan in March.
http://www.debito.org/?p=1018 and http://www.debito.org/?p=1221

4) The increasing international awareness of Japan as a haven for international child abductions. It’s one of Japan’s worst-kept secrets, but not for much longer: Japan’s laws governing access for both parents to children after divorce are weak to non-existent. Consequently, in the case of international breakups, one parent (usually the foreigner) loses his or her kids. As this newspaper has reported, even overseas court decisions awarding custody to the NJ parent are ignored by Japanese courts. All the Japanese parent has to do is abduct their child to Japan and they’re scot-free. Fortunately, international media this year (America’s ABC News, UK’s Guardian, and Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald) have joined Canada’s media and government in exposing this situation.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Our government has finally acknowledged this as a problem for domestic marriages too, and made overtures to sign the Hague Convention on Child Abduction (for what that’s worth) by 2010. More in upcoming documentary “From The Shadows” (www.fromtheshadowsmovie.com).
http://www.debito.org/?p=1660
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20080826zg.html

http://www.debito.org/?s=child+abduction

3) Opening the 12,000 yen “financial stimulus” to all registered NJ (Dec. 20). The “teigaku kyufukin” first started out as a clear bribe to voters to yoroshiku the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Then complaints were raised about the other taxpayers who aren’t citizens, so Permanent Residents and NJ married to Japanese became eligible. Finally, just before Christmas, all registered NJ were included.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Even if this “stimulus” is ineffective, it’s a wall-smasher: Japan’s public policy is usually worded as applying to “kokumin”, or citizens only. It’s the first time a government cash-back program (a 1999 coupon scheme only included Permanent Residents) has included all non-citizen taxpayers, and recognized their importance to the Japanese economy.
http://www.debito.org/?p=2104
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20081113a1.html

2) Revision of Japan’s Nationality Law. If a Japanese father impregnated a NJ out of wedlock, the father had to recognize paternity before birth or the child would not get Japanese nationality. The Supreme Court ruled this unconstitutional on June 4, noting how lack of citizenship causes “discriminatory treatment”.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Tens of thousands of international children have lost their legal right to Japanese citizenship (or even, depending on the mother’s nationality, become stateless!) just because a man was too shy to own up to his seed, or didn’t acknowledge paternity in time. This ruling led to a change in the laws last December.
http://www.debito.org/?p=1715
http://globalvoicesonline.org/2008/11/21/japan-revision-of-the-nationality-law/
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090101a1.html

1) The government officially declaring the Ainu an indigenous people (June 6).

WHY THIS MATTERS: Because it not only affects the Ainu. This finally shows how wrong the official pronouncements that “Japan is a monocultural monoethnic society” have been. It also voids knock-on arguments that enforce ideological conformity for the “insiders” and exclusionism for the foreigners. On Sept. 28, it even became a political issue, forcing an unprecedented cabinet resignation of Nariaki Nakayama for mouthing off about “ethnic homogeneity” (among other things). Even blue-blood PM Aso had better think twice before contradicting the Diet’s consensus on this issue.

Let’s see what 2009 brings. Proposals to watch: a) the possible abolition of Gaijin Cards, b) the registration of NJ residents with their Japanese families, and c) dual nationality. Stay tuned to www.debito.org, and Happy New Year, everyone!
735 WORDS

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

Economist on Japanese immigration and conservatism giving way

mytest

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 roundup from The Economist on how conservatives just don’t have the answers regarding Japan’s future anymore (with their wan and waning hope that immigration can somehow be avoided).  Good also that this article is coming from The Economist, as it has over the past eighteen months done mediocre stuff on Japan’s future demographics without mentioning immigration at all.  And when it later mentioned NJ labor in follow-up writings, it merely inserted one token sentence reflecting the Japan conservatives’ viewpoint.  It seems even the conservatism within my favorite newsmagazine is also giving ground.  Bravo.  Arudou Debito

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

Japanese immigration 

Don’t bring me your huddled masses 

Dec 30th 2008 | NISHI-KOIZUMI 
From The Economist print edition, courtesy of AM

http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12867328

Not what the conservatives want, yet some people are beginning to imagine a more mixed Japan

 

INFLAMMATORY remarks by Japan’s speak-from-the-hip conservative politicians—among them the prime minister for now, Taro Aso—embroil them in endless controversy with neighbours over Japan’s wartime past. In their defence, conservatives often say that what really concerns them is the future, in which they want Japan to punch its weight in the world. The question is, what weight? Japan’s population, currently 127m and falling, is set to shrink by a third over the next 50 years. The working-age population is falling at a faster rate; the huge baby-boom generation born between 1947 and 1949, the shock troops of Japan’s economic miracle, are now retiring, leaving fewer workers to support a growing proportion of elderly.

Conservatives have few answers. They call for incentives to keep women at home to breed (though poor career prospects for mothers are a big factor behind a precipitous fall in the fertility rate). Robot workers offer more hope to some: two-fifths of all the world’s industrial robots are in Japan. They have the advantage of being neither foreign nor delinquent, words which in Japan trip together off the tongue. Yet robots can do only so much.

The answer is self-evident, but conservatives rarely debate it. Their notion of a strong Japan—ie, a populous, vibrant country—is feasible only with many more immigrants than the current 2.2m, or just 1.7% of the population. (This includes 400,000 second- or third-generation Koreans who have chosen to keep Korean nationality but who are Japanese in nearly every respect.) The number of immigrants has grown by half in the past decade, but the proportion is still well below any other big rich country. Further, immigrants enter only as short-term residents; permanent residency is normally granted only after ten years of best behaviour.

Politicians and the media invoke the certainty of social instability should the number of foreigners rise. The justice ministry attributes high rates of serious crime to foreigners—though, when pressed, admits these are committed by illegal immigrants rather than legal ones. Newspaper editorials often give warning of the difficulties of assimilation.

For the first time, however, an 80-strong group of economically liberal politicians in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), led by Hidenao Nakagawa, a former LDP secretary-general, is promoting a bold immigration policy. It calls for the number of foreigners to rise to 10m over the next half century, and for many of these immigrants to become naturalised Japanese. It wants the number of foreign students in Japan, currently 132,000, to rise to 1m. And it calls for whole families to be admitted, not just foreign workers as often at present.

The plan’s author, Hidenori Sakanaka, a former Tokyo immigration chief and now head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, envisages a multicultural Japan in which, he says, reverence for the imperial family is an option rather than a defining trait of Japaneseness. It’s a fine proposal, but not very likely to fly in the current political climate, especially at a time when the opposition Democratic Party of Japan is fretting about the impact of immigration on pay for Japanese workers.

Still, a declining workforce is changing once-fixed views. Small- and medium-sized companies were the first, during the late 1980s, to call for more immigrant workers as a way to remain competitive. The country recruited Brazilians and Peruvians of Japanese descent to work in the industrial clusters around Tokyo and Nagoya in Aichi prefecture that serve the country’s giant carmakers and electronics firms.

Now the Keidanren, the association of big, dyed-in-the-wool manufacturers, is shifting its position. This autumn it called for a more active immigration policy to bring in highly skilled foreign workers, whose present number the Keidanren puts at a mere 180,000.

It also called for a revamp of Japan’s three-year training programmes, a big source of foreign workers. These are supposed to involve a year’s training and then two years’ on-the-job experience. In practice, they provide cheap labour (mainly from Asia) for the garment industry, farming and fish-processing. Workers, says Tsuyoshi Hirabayashi of the justice ministry, are often abused by employers demanding long hours and paying much less than the legal minimum wage. Meanwhile, foreigners coming to the end of the scheme often leave the country to return illegally. Mr Sakanaka calls for the training programme to be abolished.

Japanese conservatives, and many others, point to the South Americans of Japanese descent as a failed experiment. Even with Japanese names, they say, the incomers still stand out. Yet in Nishi-Koizumi in Gunma prefecture, just north of Tokyo, a town dominated by a Sanyo electronics plant, the picture is different. In the family-owned factory of Kazuya Sakamoto, which for decades has supplied parts to Sanyo, three-fifths of the 300 workers are foreigners, mainly Japanese-Brazilians.

The town is certainly down at heel by comparison with the nearby capital, though it has a mildly exotic flavour in other respects, including five tattoo parlours on the main street. Yet without foreigners, says Mr Sakamoto, it is very hard to imagine there would be a town—or his family company—at all. His father was the first to recruit foreigners, and the town changed the hospitals and the local schools to suit: there are special classes in Portuguese to bring overseas children up to speed in some subjects. The result, says Mr Sakamoto, is that foreign workers send word home about the opportunities, and other good workers follow. In future, he thinks, the country should be much more welcoming to young people from around Asia.

What this new impetus for change will achieve in the near term is another matter. Not only is policymaking absent and reformism on the defensive but the global slump is hitting Japanese industry particularly hard, and foreign workers foremost. In November industrial output fell by a record 8.1% compared to the previous month, and unemployment rose to 3.9%.

Mr Sakamoto says he has stopped recruiting for now, but plans no redundancies. Yet sackings of Brazilians have begun at the Toyota and Sony plants in Aichi prefecture. Some workers, says a Brazilian pastor there, have been thrown out of their flats too, with no money to return home. In Hamamatsu city, south of Tokyo, demand for foreign workers is shrinking so fast that a Brazilian school which had 180 students in 2002 closed down at the end of December; its numbers had fallen to 30. Much is made of Japan’s lifetime-employment system, but that hardly applies to foreigners.

ENDS

Interview with Debito on TkyoSam’s Vlog: Shizzle!

mytest

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.  Recently I sat down with Sam (a prolific vlogger, or video blogger), who turned his passport-sized camera on me for a bit of the young lingo and beer and chicken basket.  What you don’t see is how afterwards we repaired with a group of friends for a lot more beers and some fascinating conversation with a drunk that Sam handled admirably.  Sam grew up on manga and anime, and talks like those characters fluently (which is perfect for reducing any other pop-culture-immersed J-drunk into titters and tears).  Yoyoyo, word!  Feel the generation gap of the Bubble-Era-Older-Hand meets J-Pop Awsum Dude.  Shizzle!  And it’s a fun interview too.  

Start here:

http://jp.youtube.com/watch?v=BtPPWgKSjm4&feature=channel_page

Debito

Japan Times on NJ workers: No money for food or return flight

mytest

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 quick word from Eric Johnston on how the recession is biting deep into the NJ workforce. From, where else, the only source that does investigative journalism on a regular basis with full-time reporters on the ground. Debito

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

Hard times for foreign workers
Laid off by the thousands, some don’t have money for food, let alone enough to return home
By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer
The Japan Times: Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2008

First of two parts

News photo
On the street: Chago Iwasa, a third-generation Japanese-Brazilian (center) hangs out with friends in front of a Brazilian food store in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, in October. Iwasa lost his job at an auto parts company. KYODO PHOTO

OSAKA — With the global economic downturn, many Japanese workers face a not very Merry Christmas or Happy New Year as they lose their jobs or see wages or hours cut.

But the bad economy is hitting the country’s foreign workers particularly hard, with nongovernmental organization volunteers warning that many who have been laid off face not only losing their homes and access to education in their mother tongue, but also that emergency food rations are now being distributed to the most desperate cases.

“Of the nearly 300 people who attend my church, between 30 and 40 of them have already lost their jobs, and I expect more will soon be laid off as companies choose not to renew their contracts. Many of those who have lost their jobs have no place to live or get through the winter,” said Laelso Santos, pastor at a church in Karia, Aichi Prefecture, and the head of Maos Amigas, an NGO assisting foreign workers and their families.

“We’re currently distributing about 300 kg of food per month to foreigners nationwide who are out of work. I’m afraid the amount of food aid needed will increase as the number of out-of-work foreigners increases,” Santos said.

Over the past few months, layoffs among foreigners nationwide, especially those who are temp workers employed by auto parts manufacturing plants in the Kanto and Chubu regions, continue to grow as Toyota and other leading automobile firms struggle with declining demand. Many now out of work would return home if they could, but the rising cost of airplane tickets due to increased fuel surcharges makes it difficult.

“A lot of Brazilians who have lost their jobs would return if they could. But a ticket back costs nearly ¥200,000, which is money they don’t have,” Santos said.

Even those who at least for the moment still have jobs and want to stay are finding it difficult.

Erica Muramoto, a Gunma Prefecture-based Brazilian who teaches Japanese as a second language, arrived in Japan with her two children in 2001, a year after her husband, a Japanese-Brazilian, found work at Nihon Seiko, a car parts manufacturer.

“My husband and the rest of the foreign staff have just gotten a two-month contract that finishes at the end of January. After that, he doesn’t know what will happen to him or to his friends,” Muramoto said.

“I’m still working, but sadly some Nikkei Brazilian (Japanese-Brazilian) families here in Gunma are in trouble, and are almost without a place to live or without food,” she said, echoing the concerns of the Aichi-based Santos.

Of Japan’s roughly 2.2 million registered foreigners, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry estimates about 930,000 were working legally or illegally as of the end of 2006. In some towns in the Chubu region, where many Japanese-Brazilians and others work in small auto parts manufacturers, foreigners constitute a significant percentage of the total population.

Nearly 11 percent of the 55,000 residents of Minokamo, Gifu Prefecture, are registered foreigners. Most are from Brazil, the Philippines or China. Minokamo currently serves as secretariat for a group of 26 municipalities throughout the country with a high proportion of foreign residents. On Dec. 17, the group called on the central government to provide emergency employment and lifestyle assistance to their foreign workers and their families.

A few days later, the central government announced that the plan to spur consumption by handing out cash payments nationwide would include foreigners.

Fumika Odajima, a Minokamo-based spokeswoman for the 26 municipalities, said Monday there was still no word on what further assistance, if any, the central government would provide in response to the group’s aid request.

Central government money, specifically for foreign residents, is needed because the local governments say they are struggling to meet the financial needs of growing numbers of jobless Japanese residents and have neither the financial nor personnel resources to adequately handle the needs of large numbers of jobless foreigners and their families.

In the meantime, they are offering services like language assistance because improved language skills would increase the foreigners’ chances of getting a job.

“In Minokamo, from early January, we’ll offer beginning and intermediate Japanese lessons to foreign residents seeking new jobs, and try to introduce them to potential employers,” Odajima said.

But the effectiveness of such efforts in a worsening economy is questionable and does little to solve the immediate crisis facing Japan’s laid-off foreign workers.

“Of course, Japanese workers who get laid off are suffering as well. But unlike foreign workers, most Japanese have friends and relatives they can turn to for immediate financial help, at least enough to ensure they have enough to eat,” Santos said. “(The foreign workers) desperately need financial help for their daily lives now, not for things like language assistance.”

The Japan Times: Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2008
Go back to The Japan Times Online
 

AP/Guardian on Japan’s steepest population fall yet, excludes NJ from tally

mytest

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 bit of a sloppy article from the AP that the Guardian republished unusually without much of a fact-checking (don’t understand the relevance of the throwaway sentence at the end about J fathers and paternity, or of homebound mothers). Worse yet, it seems the AP has just accepted the GOJ’s assessment of “population” as “births minus deaths” without analysis. Meaning the population is just denoted as Japanese citizens (unless you include of course babies born to NJ-NJ couples, but they don’t get juuminhyou anyway and aren’t included in local govt. tallies of population either). Er, how about including net inflows of NJ from overseas (which have been positive for more than four decades)? Or of naturalized citizens, which the Yomiuri reported some months ago contributed to an actual rise in population?  Sloppy, unreflective, and inaccurate assessments of the taxpayer base. Arudou Debito
===============================
Japan sees biggest population fall

Japan‘s population had its sharpest decline ever last year as deaths outnumbered births, posing an escalating economic threat to growth prospects amid a global recession.

With low birthrates and long lifespans, Japan’s shrinking population is ageing more quickly than any other economic power.

Health ministry records estimated the population fell by 51,000 in 2008. The number of deaths hit a record of 1.14 million … the highest since the government began compiling the data in 1947, and the number of births totalled 1.09 million.

Japan’s births outnumbered deaths until 2005, when the trend was reversed. About one-fifth of Japan’s 126 million people are now aged 65 or over.

Japanese increasingly marry at a later age, and working women wait to have children. The survey showed the number of births last year increased by just 0.02% from a year earlier.

The ministry forecast that Japan’s fertility rate – the average number of children born to a woman aged between 15 and 49 – would rise slightly to 1.36 in 2008 from 1.34 in 2007. Exact figures for 2008 were unavailable. The country’s fertility rate is far lower than that of the US, 2.10, and France, 1.98.

In recent years, the government has tried to encourage women to have more babies. But it is rare for fathers to take paternity in Japan, where traditional values tend to keep mothers at home.

Excellent Japan Times roundup on debate on J Nationality Law and proposed dual citizenship

mytest

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 excellent Japan Times roundup of the debate which came out of nowhere last year regarding Japan’s loopy nationality laws, which were once based on what I would call a “culture of no”, as in rather arbitrary ways to disqualify people (as in babies not getting J citizenship if the J father didn’t recognize patrimony before birth). A Supreme Court decision last year called that unconstitutional, and forced rare legislation from the bench to rectify that late in 2008.  Now the scope of inclusivity has widened as Dietmember Kouno Taro (drawing on the shock of a former Japanese citizen getting a Nobel Prize, and a confused Japanese media trying to claim him as ours) advocates allowing Japanese to hold more than one citizenship. Bravo. About time.

The article below sets out the discussions and goalposts for this year regarding this proposal (using arguments that have appeared on Debito.org for years now). In a year when there will apparently be a record-number of candidates running in the general election (which MUST happen this year, despite PM Aso’s best efforts to keep leadership for himself), there is a good possibility it might come to pass, especially if the opposition DPJ party actually takes power.

2009 looks to be an interesting year indeed, as one more cornerstone of legal exclusionism in Japan looks set to crack. Arudou Debito

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

THE MANY FACES OF CITIZENSHIP
Debate on multiple nationalities to heat up
Diet battle lines being drawn in wake of law change and amid Kono effort to rectify dual citizenship situation
By MINORU MATSUTANI, Staff writer
The Japan Times: Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009

First in a series

The issue of nationality had never been discussed more seriously than it was in 2008.

News photo
Big decision ahead: Students of an international school in Tokyo gather for an event. Some will have to choose their nationality in some 10 years if the current Nationality Law prevails. THE JAPAN TIMES PHOTO

In a specific legal challenge in June, the Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional to deny Japanese citizenship to children of unwed Filipino mothers whose Japanese fathers had not acknowledged paternity before their birth. Lawmakers quickly went to work to pass a revised Nationality Law in December.

Now, Taro Kono, a Lower House member of the Liberal Democratic Party, the larger of the two-party ruling coalition, is trying to iron out another wrinkle in the law that became apparent in October when it was learned that Tokyo-born Nobel Prize winner Yoichiro Nambu had given up his Japanese nationality to obtain U.S. citizenship.

People like Nambu follow the letter of the law with respect to the Constitution’s Article 14, which requires that Japanese renounce other nationalities by the age of 22 if they wish to keep Japanese citizenship. Yet, according to Kono, there are 600,000 to 700,000 Japanese 22 or older with two nationalities, if not more. In other words, fewer than 10 percent of Japanese with more than one nationality make that choice by the time they turn 22, Kono said.

“The current system puts honest people and those who appear in the media at a disadvantage,” Kono said. In November, he submitted a proposal to an LDP panel he heads calling for the Nationality Law to be revised to allow Japanese to hold other nationalities.

The Justice Ministry acknowledges there are Japanese with other nationalities but does not press them to choose only one.

“Technically, the justice minister can order us to crack down on multiple-nationality holders. But none of the past ministers has,” said Katsuyoshi Otani, who is in charge of nationality affairs at the ministry. By law, someone ordered by the minister to choose a single nationality has a month to do so before Japanese citizenship is automatically revoked.

Lawmakers are divided on Kono’s proposal, which also requires that royalty, Diet members, Cabinet ministers, diplomats, certain members of the Self-Defense Forces and judges hold only Japanese nationality. Liberals stress the need for Japan to globalize, while conservatives express concern that opening up too much will diminish the country’s sense of unity.

Shinkun Haku, a member of the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party, supports the proposal.

Born to a Japanese mother and a South Korean father, Haku became a naturalized Japanese citizen in January 2003 and won a seat in the Upper House the following year.

Kono’s multiple citizenship plan

• The government allows Japanese nationals to be citizens of other countries.

• Japanese holding other nationalities must declare this to the local authorities where their Japanese residency is registered. Those who fail to do so may be fined or lose their Japanese citizenship.

• Japanese can obtain citizenship elsewhere, except for locations Japan does not recognize, and continue to hold Japanese nationality as long as the other countries allow multiple nationalities.

• People from countries other than North Korea or other areas lacking Japanese diplomatic recognition can obtain Japanese nationality without losing their original citizenship as long as their home countries allow multiple nationalities.

• The Imperial family, Diet members, Cabinet ministers, diplomats, certain members of the Self-Defense Forces or court judges can only hold Japanese nationality.

• Japanese who become presidents, lawmakers, Cabinet ministers, diplomats, soldiers, court judges or members of royalty of other countries will lose their Japanese nationality.

• Japanese who have a Japanese parent and hold multiple nationalities will lose their Japanese citizenship if they have not lived in Japan for 365 days or more by the time they turn 22.

• If Japan goes to war against a country, Japanese public servants cannot hold citizenship in that country.

• Japanese holding other nationalities will lose their Japanese citizenship if they apply for and join the military of other countries.

He was not allowed to have Japanese nationality at birth because the children of a foreign father and Japanese mother were barred from having Japanese nationality until the Nationality Law was revised in 1985.

Multiple-nationality holders were also then required to choose one nationality before their 22nd birthday. Before then, Japanese could be citizens of other countries as well.

Those with multiple nationalities who were 20 or older as of Jan. 1, 1985, were supposed to declare a single choice to local authorities by the end of 1986, and if they had not, it would be assumed they had chosen Japanese citizenship and abandoned any others. Those with a Japanese mother and foreign father who were under age 20 as of Jan. 1, 1985, had until the end of 1987 to settle on a nationality.

Japan is the only developed country that does not automatically grant citizenship to babies born within its territory, allow its nationals to have multiple citizenship or let foreigners vote in local-level elections, Haku said.

“I am not criticizing Japan for that, but now we have 2 million registered foreigners, and one in every 30 babies born here has at least one foreign parent. We are in the midst of globalization whether we like it or not,” Haku said. “We have to discuss very seriously how we should involve foreign residents in building our society.”

He is urging Japanese to change their outlook. “For example, we shouldn’t think we ought to give foreigners local government voting rights out of pity. We should think Japan can become a better country by doing so,” Haku said.

Other lawmakers oppose Kono’s proposal, especially those troubled by the revised Article 3 of the Nationality Law. It previously only granted citizenship to a child born out of wedlock to a foreign mother and a Japanese father if the man admitted paternity before birth, but not after.

LDP lawmaker Hideki Makihara fears that granting nationality easily will bring more problems than benefits.

“I think the immigration policy of many European countries has failed as they have had some serious problems” regarding foreign residents, Makihara said. “We need to be very prudent.”

Makihara also noted that citizens who gave up their non-Japanese nationality will feel cheated if Japan allows multiple nationalities, because “there is no guarantee they will regain their renounced citizenships.”

The proposed revision has also stirred nationalists to action. During Diet deliberations on the bill in November and early December, anonymous bloggers posted messages expressing their concern that foreigners may approach Japanese men to falsely claim paternity in illicit bids to gain citizenship.

Although the bill cleared the Diet on Dec. 5, LDP lawmaker Takeo Hiranuma established a lawmaker group scrutinizing the Nationality Law to prevent bogus claims.

While the LDP is divided on the revision of Article 3, the party is also busy dealing with other important issues. This could mean Kono’s proposal will not be deliberated seriously anytime soon, political scientist Hirotada Asakawa said.

With Prime Minister Taro Aso’s approval rate declining and the global economy in serious recession, Aso wants to impress voters by swiftly passing bills on the supplementary budget for the current fiscal year that would finance a ¥2 trillion cash handout program during the Diet session starting later this month, Asakawa said. The LDP then has to pass the budget for the next fiscal year during the same Diet session.

“These issues are enough of a handful. The LDP will also have to prepare for an anticipated Lower House election, which could happen who knows when,” he said. “In such a crucial time, the LDP will not want to discuss Kono’s proposal, which is likely to divide the LDP.”

Nevertheless, many lawmakers seem to agree that the current situation, in which many Japanese unlawfully hold multiple nationalities, needs to be fixed.

The case of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, born to a Japanese couple who emigrated to Peru early last century, is an extreme but forceful example. Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party) asked Fujimori, who holds Peruvian and Japanese nationalities, in June 2007 to run for the Upper House election when he was detained in Chile. He ran in and lost. After Fujimori fled to Japan in exile, Tokyo declared he has Japanese citizenship, because of his parental roots.

What if he had won a Diet seat?

“Japan escaped by a hair’s breadth as Fujimori lost the election,” Kono said. “I have no idea what lawmakers would have done (if Fujimori had won). Legislation was a step behind the reality.”

To be sure, the proposal has a long way to go to be legalized. A typical process would be that the panel deliberates, finalizes and submits it to LDP executives, who would then decide whether to create a bill to be submitted to the Diet. However, it is unknown if Kono can sway his party.

“I have created a draft for everybody, not just lawmakers, to discuss the nationality issue,” Kono said. “I want to tell Japanese nationals, ‘Let’s discuss it.’ “

The Japan Times: Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009
 

Happy New Year: Retrospective: 10 things that made me think in 2008

mytest

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

TEN THINGS THAT CAUSED DEEP THOUGHTS IN 2008:  A RETROSPECTIVE

Hi Blog.  Happy New Year.  To open 2009, here’s my annual essay where I note ten things that caused me to think quite a bit last year.  Some things I partook in (books and media and whatnot) might also be interesting for you to delve into as well.  For what they’re worth, and in no particular order, here goes:

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

10) IIJIMA AI’S DEATH:  It’s not something that I would admit to Japanese female friends (who pretty much uniformly dislike Ai for what she represents — a porn star that somehow escaped into regular TV land — and for, I might add, her power over men), but I am a fan.  Have been for most of my years here in Japan.  It’s not just because I followed her from her days exposing her backside on the successor to TV show “11PM” (there’s a blast from the past for you readers here from the bubble years!), “Gilgamesh Nights”, enjoying the contrast between her and pneumatic Hosokawa Fumie (who appealed to the J-men who liked their women less spicy).  It’s not just because she was to me pretty all over.  I really liked her personality (yes, the singular):  unafraid of men — unafraid of just about anything, apparently.  I enjoyed her stints as a regular tarento on shows like “Sunday Japon” (where lucky devil Dave Spector sitting behind her got to smell her hair on a weekly basis) even after it did not involve disrobing:  She had an unabashed charm that was both abrasive and funny; you never knew what she was going to say next (or write next:  she had a decent blog and a surprise bestseller in “Platonic Sex”).  She was somebody I would have liked to have had a conversation with.  Now with her death from an apparent suicide near Xmas, that’s impossible, and I’m saddened.  She was too young (36), and I doubt she found much contentment in life aside from money and media attention; I wonder if it was the wrong kind of attention that did her in in the end.

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

9) CYCLING FROM MIYAZAKI TO KURASHIKI:  Every Golden Week I embark on my get-back-in-shape-after-the-long-Hokkaido-winter sojourn, where I go somewhere warm and cycle to a big airport.  This year, starting from Miyazaki for the second year in a row, I jumped on my mountain bike and went up the northern shore, getting close to Oita before taking a ferry to that funny little peninsula reaching out from Shikoku, then cycled along the coast to Matsuyama, took the odd series of bridges (which have bike paths!) comprising the Shimanami Kaidou to near Hiroshima, then pedaled the odd coast of southern Okayama to Kurashiki, where showers, booze with good friends (who I think still don’t believe I really cycled from that far south), and Scrabble galore awaited.  The biggest shock (for me):  I cycled an average of 100 kms a day for six days.  It was easy.  Yes, easy.  I’m about to turn 44 and as long as my kiester is properly padded, I can pedal all day.  Just plug in the iPod, alternate between podcasts and pump-up music, and I feel like I can go anywhere.  Let’s hope that I don’t get a heart attack on one of these trips when age finally catches up with me.

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

8) FRANCA:  Stands for Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (www.francajapan.org), and the idea came forth when long-term NJ residents, furious at being fingerprinted again from November 2007, asked to form a group that would represent their interests.  We’ve been taking it slow over the year and building up awareness and interest, but this year I realized (with the Tohoku region in particular) after a series of speeches that I don’t need to tow this movement along (as I have with other projects I’ve taken up, such as the Kunibengodan).  There is a critical mass of people here who don’t see themselves as “guests”, and are ready to stand up for themselves and claim their due as taxpayers and contributors to Japanese society.  Next step:  formally registering the group as an NPO with the Japanese government.  Readers out there who are used to running businesses (I’m not) are welcome to step forward and help make this organization a paying job for them.

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

7) TOYOKO G8 SUMMIT:  Yes, it could have been a bonanza for Hokkaido.  Yes, it could have put us on the map like the 1972 Olympics did.  But a G8 Summit is not designed for popular participation or investment in infrastructure like an Olympics.  Summits are events where Secret Service Sherpas parachute in, seal off the entire community, and make sure the riff-raff (as in the electorate, who might have something to say as part of the democratic process) don’t get in and spoil the world leaders’ elaborately-crafted dinner and publicity parties and junkets for their entourages.  What was the payoff for Hokkaido?  Not much:  The media center they built was soon knocked down (“ecologically recycled”), and people like me couldn’t even get a job as a local-hire interpreter (the Sherpas bring their own; again, it’s a hermetic system), and by the grace of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs those allowed in (the media) stayed in officially-approved hotels (who raised their prices appreciably to gouge reporters:  More on life behind the Summit walls in by reporter Eric Johnston at http://www.debito.org/?p=1812). 

Worst of all was Japan’s bad habit of using international events to convert bits of Japan into a police state, spending far more money than anyone else in the G8 on policing and security.  (See my Japan Times article on this at http://www.debito.org/?p=1767)   And with a racial-profiling element to their “anti-terrorist” activities.  I (as well as lots of other people) discovered that when walking through Chitose Airport while non-Asian.  In sum, the G8 Summit inconvenienced thousands of people, and wasted millions of dollars on something that could have been done with a conference video call.  Made me doubt the efficacy of world leaders meeting at all, especially when the Summit didn’t prevent the financial meltdown months later. 

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

6) CALIFORNIA TRIP 2008:  I spent all of August and two weeks of September on tour both for business and book promotion.  Not only did I get back to see what even the bluest state in America had become under 8 years of Bush II (one mixed-up place, abandoning Gov. Gray Davis for Schwartzenegger thanks to Enron; more below), I also managed to plug back into what could have been my life had I stayed a California Boy in the Bay Area.  It wasn’t my choice to begin with (I was born near Berkeley, and moved to the US East Coast at age five when my mother remarried), but I’m still not sure which would have been the better life.  More at http://www.debito.org/?p=1905

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

5) DVDS:  ENRON — THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM, and MICHAEL MOORE’S “SICKO”.  These are the two most powerful movies I saw all year.  ENRON doesn’t just talk about the fall of a company — it even manages to show how business gone wild through true laissez-faire (not to mention outright tolerance of lying) destroys economies and people.  It is also the most interesting movie about accounting I have ever seen (just edging out Itami Juzo’s MARUSA NO ONNA movies).  SICKO is the other side of that coin on a more interpersonal level, since similar unethical pricing and qualification schemes and unfettered management of inelastic demand (be it electric power or medical care) destroys lives all the same.  One documentary was an excellent postmortem, the other was a harbinger, singlehandedly putting universal health care back on the US political agenda.  Watch them and think about how markets and government should work.

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

4) BOOKS:  Francis Wheen’s KARL MARX and HOW MUMBO-JUMBO CONQUERED THE WORLD.  Francis Wheen writes like the smartest kid in the class (I never thought anyone could summarize Marx’s Das Kapital in one paragraph), and makes you want to read more of anything he writes.  He puts a very human face on Marx, as well as on the actors creating the Grand Illusion of free-market capitalism and equitable societal development.  (The biggest dupe of the Postwar Twentieth Century:  “the trickle-down effect”.)  Wheen is as lucid as Bertrand Russell at times (and more amusing) as he traces the arc of economic, political, and social theory for the past forty years.  It’s a wonderful debug.  But don’t expect a mentoring from this author (I doubt he himself would welcome the role), for he prescribes little in return.  Wheen has that veddy British tendency to whale on people by criticizing them intelligently, if not a bit cuttingly, but not offer much ideology of his own for others to criticize back.  It isn’t until you get to the very end, where in a couple of succinct paragraphs he reveals his dogma:  Put reason above emotion and non-science in all respects (even when he gets a bit emotional himself).  He has faith that “truth is great and will prevail”.  Provided that people can be educated enough to think for themselves, and not be duped by the world’s ideological snake-oil salesmen.  Reading Wheen is a valuable antidote to them.  I still think, in the end, Bertrand Russell did it better, but Wheen does it more accessibly and practically for today’s marketplace of ideas.

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

3) JAPAN TIMES COLUMN:  Last March, my JUST BE CAUSE monthly column started with a focus on human rights.  So far, so good:  Not running out of topics and it’s amazing just how much debate a mere 700 words can spark (viz. the “gaijin” trilogy of essays over the summer).  I also felt like people looked at me differently once this column started going — not just a “blogger” anymore, but an actual pundit in a national newspaper.  If that’s a complimentary status to have, I’ll try to earn readers’ respect over the next few years.  I hope I’m serving well enough now.  Next column out January 6.

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

2) “HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS”, co-authored with Akira Higuchi.  This was where it all fell into place.  No longer was I just being labeled a “troublemaker” who sues people at a drop of a hat, and writes books about lawsuits as some form of catharsis.  No such dismissal could be made about HANDBOOK, a bilingual bestseller (in the small human-rights book market), clearly written as a means to help people make better lives here in Japan.  It garnered not a single mixed or negative review.  As a person who seems cause controversy just by exhaling, I’m just not used to the unqualified positive.  I hope the book serves well in future too.

And at the end (again, this list was in no particular order):  The Booby Prize for biggest disappointment mediawise of the year:

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

1) KEN BURNS’ “THE WAR” DOCUMENTARY:  I will watch anything by Ken Burns, the director who revolutionized the historical documentary with his daylong THE CIVIL WAR some decades ago.  I own everything he’s got out on DVD (and yes, there are a few turkeys:  THE CONGRESS is one).  But my appetite was whetted when NPR reviewer David Bianculli called THE WAR (about World War II from an American perspective) “his best”.  I watched it after viewing the even longer British-produced (and now History Channel staple) THE WORLD AT WAR series, made nearly forty years ago. 

I understand Burns’s production was about how a world war affected the US domestically, but his presentation rankled for the first time ever.  Not only was the music and tone of the documentary in places quite inappropriate (upbeat contemporary songs for wartime scenes, for example), but the feeling was cloying, even jingoistic at times, as if boostering for Americana in the face of an international war (TWAW only pandered to its British audience once:  it’s overuse of “Banzai” as Japan invaded British territories in South East Asia.)  Unforgivable was the closing line of the final episode:

“This film is dedicated to all those who fought and won that necessary war on our behalf.”

I see.  Well, maybe I’ve been too influenced by Japan’s need to see everyone (even the aggressor nations, such as itself) as the victims of war.  But a film about a world war should not just herald those who won it.  It should salute those who died in it, who suffered in it, regardless of side.  History already overwhelmingly favors the victors of war.  Why would a historian like Burns repeat that error by just honoring one side, as if those who suffered the historical accident of being on the wrong side do not deserve a modicum of respect for doing what many simply had to do?  There is the victimization, the tragedy of group madness and legally-enforced conformity that leads to war anyway.  It’s not all winners vs. losers, good vs. evil, is it?  Let’s be a bit more sophisticated in our paid tributes, shall we?

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

Alright, these are the things that made me think quite a bit this year.  Thanks for reading those thoughts, and have a Happy New Year 2009.  Arudou Debito