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From Debito's doctoral research:

Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

  • Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination
  • (Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield HB 2015, PB 2016)

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  • Book IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan
  • Archive for January, 2009

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 31st January 2009

    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. Choice excerpt:

    “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.”

    Posted in Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Tangents | 1 Comment »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 30th January 2009

    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 teachers 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.

    Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., 日本語 | 15 Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 29th January 2009

    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. Choice excerpt:

    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…

    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…

    …[T]he 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.”

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, History, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 24 Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 28th January 2009

    Irish Times: 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.

    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 7 Comments »

    Question on Welfare Assistance (seikatsu hogo) and privacy rights

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 27th January 2009

    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.

    Posted in Japanese Government, Labor issues, Tangents | 2 Comments »

    Wash Post on GOJ efforts to get Brazilian workers to stay

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 26th January 2009

    Wash Post: “Our goal is to get [NJ workers] 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.”

    Posted in Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 3 Comments »

    UN News on upcoming Durban human rights summit and Gitmo

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 25th January 2009

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

    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.

    Posted in Human Rights, Tangents, United Nations | 1 Comment »

    2-Channel’s Nishimura sells off his golden goose

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 24th January 2009

    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.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Ironies & Hypocrisies, 2ちゃんねる | 4 Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 23rd January 2009

    The NPA has released crime stats for NJ, and foreign crime is down again. For the third year in a row. Despite the unwavering increase in NJ population. But you wouldn’t know it by reading the media. You would have, however, if NJ crime had gone up, as past media campaigns have bent over backwards to report. So now we’ve got the media instead bending over backwards to bash NJ for being “unmannerly” and spoiling it for everyone. Who’s spoiling what for whom?, I daresay. Kirk Masden comments with a scan of the crime stat chart in this blog entry.

    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media | 13 Comments »

    Kyodo: Brazilian workers protest layoffs at J companies

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 22nd January 2009

    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.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues | 5 Comments »

    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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 21st January 2009

    ・主催: 「在留カードに異議あり!」NGO実行委員会
    ・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

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

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 21st January 2009

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

    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
    Admission: 500 yen
    Simultaneous translation service available (Japanese-English)

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

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings | 3 Comments »

    Tsukiji Fish Market reopens, the NJ blame game continues

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 21st January 2009

    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.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 10 Comments »

    Google zaps

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 20th January 2009

    Tangent: Google has notified me that they’re delisting from its search engines for cloaked text inserted on our site. Yet Google won’t reveal on what page it’s on so we can fix the problem. We can’t find it. So we’re stuck with an unfair delisting and that’s that. Advice from cyberspace appreciated, especially since this oddly-enforced policy will affect other websites and blogs as well.

    Posted in Media, Tangents | 12 Comments »

    IHT on Buraku Nonaka vs Barack Obama

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 19th January 2009

    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.

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

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 18th January 2009


    So far, I will be screening and speaking on the film at the following dates:
    If you’d like me to screen in your neighborhood between March 20 and 31, please contact me at

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues, Speech materials | 4 Comments »

    Southland Times on how New Zealand deals with restaurant exclusions

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 17th January 2009

    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.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Tangents | 6 Comments »


    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 17th January 2009

    Table of Contents:

    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”

    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

    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

    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!

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 16th January 2009

    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. 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.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit | 48 Comments »

    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」

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 15th January 2009

    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.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, 日本語 | 14 Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 14th January 2009

    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.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 4 Comments »

    Japan Times on international trends towards allowing citizens to become multinational

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 13th January 2009

    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.

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

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 12th January 2009

    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.

    Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 15 Comments »

    Another excellent JT article on dual nationality and the conflicts within

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 10th January 2009

    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 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.”

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 1 Comment »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 9th January 2009

    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. 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.”

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Human Rights, Lawsuits | 1 Comment »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 8th January 2009

    Here is my latest Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column on the good news of 2008 regarding human rights in Japan for NJ. Complete with sources. Ranked in terms of what I consider to be the top six advances last year, they are: The U Hoden court victory, the Chinese Trainee court victory against Tochigi strawberry farms, the increasing international awareness of Japan as a child abduction haven, the 12,000 yen “economic stimulus” package opened to all NJ taxpayers, the revision of the Nationality Laws to no longer require patrimony recognition before birth, and at the top, the GOJ recognizing the Ainu as an official ethnic minority.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Good News, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Lawsuits | 4 Comments »

    Economist on Japanese immigration and conservatism giving way

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 7th January 2009

    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.

    Excerpt: “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…

    “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.”

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 2 Comments »

    Interview with Debito on TkyoSam’s Vlog: Shizzle!

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 6th January 2009

    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.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Humor, Podcasts, Speech materials | 6 Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 5th January 2009

    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.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues | 7 Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 4th January 2009

    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.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 2 Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 3rd January 2009

    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 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.

    Posted in Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics | 9 Comments »

    Happy New Year: Retrospective: 10 things that made me think in 2008

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 2nd January 2009

    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: 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.

    Posted in G7/G8 Summits, Handbook for Newcomers, History, Tangents | 3 Comments »


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