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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)

    Click on book cover for reviews, previews, and 30% discount direct from publisher. Available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle eBook on

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

    NUGW labor union “March in March” Sunday March 8, 3:30 Shibuya

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

    NUGW: Join us at the Fifth Annual Tokyo March in March for job security and equality. Come to Miyashita Park in Shibuya, an 8-minute walk from Hachiko behind the tracks on the way to Harajuku at 3:30pm on Sunday, March 8, 2009. March departs at 5pm.

    If you want to lend a hand preparing, come to the NUGW Shimbashi office this Sunday March 1, starting at 2pm.

    Each year we hold the March in March to appeal to the thousands of people in Shibuya on a Sunday afternoon with a message of strength and solidarity. We demand that employers and the government cooperate to ensure job security and an equal society for all workers in a Japan that is increasingly multiethnic. Dance, music, performances from areas around the world, colors, costumes, and huge placards make March in March a protest parade you will never forget.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Labor issues | No Comments »

    NPA on foreign-infiltrated organized crime: NJ crime down 3rd straight year, but not newsworthy in J-media

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

    Two topics today for the price of one: The NPA spending our tax monies to target the bad guys (if they’re NJ) again, and how the J media is not reporting crime rates properly, again.
    Hang on to your hats. folks. It’s the NPA “Foreign Crime Report” time of year again. Yes, twice a year, we get appraised of what our boys in blue are doing to stem the hordes and save the country.

    But this time the biannual deluge is buried within an NPA “soshiki hanzai jousei” general report released this week. Although “general”-looking, the majority of the report is in fact devoted to NJ crimes (it seems organized crime is the most international thing about Japan; yakuza seem to be getting squeezed out).

    But, er, in fact NJ crime dropped this year. Significantly. For the third straight year. But you wouldn’t know that by reading the J media. Articles on this from Asahi, Sankei, or Yomiuri didn’t show in a Google News search. An article from the Mainichi notes the crime drop, but devotes (as usual, and in Japanese only) half the text to how it’s rising in bits. Again.

    So if it bleeds it leads, sure. But if it bleeds and it’s foreign, it had better be BAD news or else newspapers aren’t going to break their stride, and give society any follow-ups that might paint a rosier picture of Japan’s immigration. What negligence and public disservice by a free press.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Good News, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 1 Comment »

    Kyodo: Proposal for registering NJ on Juuminhyou by 2012

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

    Good news. According to Kyodo:

    The government is considering putting non-Japanese living here for more than three months in the resident registry system, officials said.

    The measure could come into force as early as 2012. The Cabinet is expected to endorse the plan next month.

    With the government looking to abolish the current alien registration system, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry had considered setting up a separate new registry system for foreign residents. But it eventually decided it would be more efficient to amend the national registry system to include foreign nationals, the officials said.

    Posted in Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 7 Comments »

    Fun Facts #12: Statistics on Naturalized Citizens in Japan; holding steady despite immigration

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

    More Fun Facts: Something else interesting that cropped up while researching my thesis: The number of people who have naturalized (or applied and been rejected for Japanese citizenship for the past ten years. Screen capture of the most recent stats from the MOJ on blog.

    Over the past ten years (1998-2007), 153,103 people became Japanese citizens. That’s a sizeable amount, for if you assume reasonable influx for the previous five decades (1948-1997), we’re looking at at least half a million people here as cloaked NJ-blood citizens. That’s a lot of people no matter how you slice it. (Of course, these older stats are still not available online for confirmation.)

    As you can see, numbers have held steady, at an average of about 15,000 plus applicants per year. And about the same number were accepted. In fact the rejection rate is so low (153,103/154,844 people = 98.9% acceptance rate), you are only a little more likely to be convicted of a crime during criminal trial in Japan (99.9%) than be rejected for citizenship once you file all the paperwork. That should encourage those who are considering it.

    Also note the high numbers of Korean and Chinese applicants (around 90% or more). I was one of the few, the proud, the 725 non-K or C who got in in 2000. Less than five percent. However, the numbers of non-K or C accepted over the past ten years have tripled. I wonder if I was part of blazing some sort of trail.

    Posted in Fun Facts, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 7 Comments »

    New Japanese driver licenses now have IC Chips, no honseki

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

    While looking up other things for my thesis, I noticed that a significant new change has happened from 2007 with Japanese driver licenses. They’ve been getting IC Chips as well.

    One reason I find this development perturbing: For “privacy’s sake” (gee whiz, suddenly we’re concerned?), the honseki family registry domicile is being removed from IC Licenses. That was ill-thought-through, because once I get my license renewed, short of carrying my Japanese passport with me 24/7 will have no other way of demonstrating that I am a Japanese citizen. After all, I have no Gaijin Card (of course), so if some cop decides to racially profile me on the street, what am I to do but say hey, look, um, I’m a citizen, trust me. And since criminal law is on their side, I will definitely be put under arrest (‘cos no way of my own free will am I going to the local Police Box for “voluntary questioning”, thank you very much) as the law demands in these cases. I see lotsa false positives and harassment in future Gaijin Card Checkpoints.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept. | 31 Comments »

    New IC “Gaijin Cards”: Original Nyuukan proposal submitted to Diet is viewable here (8 pages)

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

    As a poll indicates, a third of all people surveyed as of today don’t have enough information to make an accurate decision about whether the new IC-Chipped Gaijin Cards are a good thing. Well, let’s fix that. What follows are scanned pages of the actual proposal before Dietmembers, submitted by Immigration, for how they should look and what they should do. All eight pages are scanned below (the last page suffered from being faxed, so I just append it FYI). Have a read, and you’ll know as much as our lawmakers know. Courtesy of the Japan Times.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 13 Comments »

    Fun Facts #11: Ekonomisuto estimates 35% of Japan’s population will be over 65 by 2050

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

    While researching stuff on, I realized that one source I quote often in my powerpoint presentations has never been blogged: An Ekonomisuto Japan article, dated January 15, 2008, with an amazing estimate.

    The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare estimates that well over a third of the Japanese population (35.7%) will be over 65 years of age by 2050, and the majority of those oldies will be well beyond a working age. Can you imagine over a third of a population above 65 years of age? Who works and who pays taxes, when this many people are retired on pensions or should be? That’s if trends stay as they are, mind. That’s why the GOJ has changed its tune to increasing the NJ population. We’re talking a demographic juggernaut that may ultimately wipe out this country’s productivity and accumulated wealth.

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

    Today’s Iyami: Compare “Monster Gaikokujin” with our former finance minister in Italy

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

    Just can’t resist. Kyou no iyami: With all the talk and blame about “Monster Gaikokujin” (fish lickers, onsen defilers, cabbie bashers, golddiggers), how about the drunk antics of our former finance minister, Nakagawa Shochu, excuse me, Shouichi? Setting off an alarm and sticking his hands all over private world-heritage artifacts in The Vatican? Not Monster Gaijin. Monster Daijin.

    Fortunately, this made NHK on Friday. Fire away with more acerbic comments. I want the rest of my Sunday off. Excerpt from Japan Times:

    “Former Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa engaged in some shenanigans during a visit to the Vatican Museum immediately following his highly ridiculed Group of Seven news conference in Rome, people at the Vatican said Friday.

    At one point, Nakagawa climbed over a barrier around the statue of the Trojan priest Laocoon and His Sons, causing an alarm to go off. He also touched pieces he was not supposed to, they said.”

    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept. | 5 Comments »

    Free Legal Consultation for NJ workers March 1, Sapporo

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

    The legal service network for non-Japanese, a group of experienced lawyers dedicated to supporting non-Japanese residents, will provide free legal consultation to NJ working and living in Hokkaido on labor issues such as wrongful termination, unpaid wages, discrimination, harassment, and injury in the workplace. If you would like to seek legal advice about what course of action to take, please feel free to give us a call or come in for a consultation.

    Date: March 1st, 2009 (Sun) 10:00-15:00
    Sapporo Bengoshi Bldg. 5F
    Kita 1 Nishi 10, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
    (3 min. on foot from Exit 4, Nishi 11-chome Subway Station)

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Labor issues, 日本語 | 2 Comments »

    Japan Times FYI column explaining Japan’s Bubble Economy

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

    On this snowiest of snowy days in Hokkaido, let me send out an excellent writeup from the Japan Times regarding the Japan I first came to know: The Bubble Economy. I first arrived here in 1986 as a tourist, and came to look around for a year in 1987. It was one great, big party. By the time I came back here, married, to stay and work, in 1991, the party was winding up, and it’s been over (especially up here in Hokkaido) ever since. Surprising to hear that it only lasted about five years. Eric Johnston tells us about everything you’d ever want to know in 1500 words about how it happened, how it ended, and what its aftereffects are. If you’re stuck inside today, have a good read. Excerpt:

    “Economic historians usually date the beginning of the bubble economy in September 1985, when Japan and five other nations signed the Plaza Accord in New York. That agreement called for the depreciation of the dollar against the yen and was supposed to increase U.S. exports by making them cheaper.

    But it also made it cheaper for Japanese companies to purchase foreign assets. And they went on an overseas buying spree, picking off properties like the Rockefeller Center in New York and golf courses in Hawaii and California.

    By December 1989, the benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average had reached nearly 39,000. But beginning in 1990, the stock market began a downward spiral that saw it lose more than $2 trillion by December 1990, effectively ending the bubble era…

    What was Japan like during those years? For many people, it was one big, expensive party. The frugality and austerity that defined the country during the postwar era gave way to extravagance and conspicuous consumption. Stories of housewives in Nara sipping $500 cups of coffee sprinkled with gold dust or businessmen spending tens of thousands of dollars in Tokyo’s flashy restaurants and nightclubs were legion. One nightclub in particular, Julianna’s Tokyo, become the symbol for the flashy, party lifestyle of the entire era.

    Japan’s inflated land prices made global headlines. The Imperial Palace was reported to be worth more than France. A ¥10,000 note dropped in Tokyo’s Ginza district was worth less than the tiny amount of ground it covered…

    Posted in Cultural Issue, History, Tangents | 8 Comments »


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

    1) Yomiuri et al. on new “Zairyuu Cards” to replace “Gaijin Cards”
    2) Zainichi also get cards, although with relaxed conditions
    3) GOJ claims victory in “halving overstayers” campaign, maintains myth that NJ fingerprinting did it
    4) Japan Times Zeit Gist on Noriko Calderon, born in Japan, child of overstayers, and deportation

    5) Japan Today on Spa! magazine’s expose of “Monster Gaikokujin” running amok in Japan
    6) Full four pages of Feb 17 2009 SPA! article on “Monster Gaikokujin” scanned
    7) Mainichi: 3 Chinese arrested over paternity scam to get child Japanese citizenship
    8 ) Asahi: NJ overstayers finding housing through name laundering ads

    9) Japan Times Zeit Gist on Berlitz’s lawsuit against unions for “strike damage”
    10) The Economist on international divorce and child custody (Japan passim)
    11) Japanese stewardesses sue Turkish Airlines for discriminatory employment conditions

    …and finally…
    12) Fun and Games at Hokuyo Bank: Extra questions for the gaijin account holder

    Posted in Newsletters | 1 Comment »

    New NJ policing Pt II: Zainichis also get cards, altho with relaxed conditions

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

    Next installment in the proposed new NJ policing regulations: how the Zainichi (“Special Permanent Residents”, i.e. the generational foreigners in Japan, descendants of former citizens from Imperial colonies) get cut a few breaks, but still have to carry a card 24-7 or else.

    Also mentioned below are how “medium- and long-term residents” (are we talking one-year visas, three-year visas, and/or Regular Permanent Residents?) are getting different (and improved) treatment as well. Okay, but this system is now getting a bit hazy. It’s about time to find the proposal ourselves in the original Japanese, and lay things out online clearly where there are no space constraints. Eyes peeled, everyone. Let us know on if you find it.

    Posted in Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, 日本語 | 13 Comments »

    GOJ claims victory in “halving overstayers” campaign, maintains myth that NJ fingerprinting did it

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

    The GOJ has patted itself on the back for being about to reach its goal of halving the number of overstaying NJ by the target date of 2010.

    Congrats. But piggybacking on this cheer is the lie that fingerprinting NJ at the border helped do it.

    Wrong. As we’ve discussed here before, fingerprinting and collecting other biometric data at the border does not result in an instantaneous check. It takes time. In fact, the first day they raised a cheer for snagging NJ at the border, it was for passport issues, not prints. And they have never publicly offered stats separating those caught by documentation and those fingered by biometric data (nor have we stats for how many were netted before the fingerprinting program was launched, to see if there is really any difference). So we let guilt by associated data justify a program that targets NJ regardless of residency status and criminalizes them whenever they cross back into Japan. Bad social science, bad public policy, and now rotten interpretations of the data.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, 日本語 | 12 Comments »

    Yomiuri on new “Zairyuu Cards” to replace “Gaijin Cards”

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

    The new policing system for NJ is slowly materializing. In what looks to be a pivy leak to the Yomiuri (scooping almost all the other newspapers according to a Google News search; distracted by a drunk Nakagawa and Hillary’s visit?), yesterday’s news had the GOJ proposal for new improved “Gaijin Cards”.

    Yomiuri says it’s to “sniff out illegals” and to somehow increase the “convenience” for foreigners (according to the Yomiuri podcast the same day). It’s still to centralize all registration and policing powers within the Justice Ministry, and anyone not a Special Permanent Resident (the Zainichis, which is fine, but Regular Permanent Residents who have no visa issues with workplace etc.) must report minute updates whenever there’s a lifestyle change, on pain of criminal prosecution. Doesn’t sound all that “convenient” to me. I’m also not sure how this will be more effective than the present system in “sniffing out illegals” unless it’s an IC Card able to track people remotely. But that’s not discussed in the article.

    I last reported on this on nearly a year ago, where I noted among other things that the very rhetoric of the card is “stay” (zairyuu), rather than “residency” (zaijuu). For all the alleged improvements, the gaijin are still only temporary.

    One bit of good news included as a bonus in the article is that NJ Trainees are going to be included for protection in the Labor Laws. Good. Finally. Read on.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Labor issues, 日本語 | 28 Comments »

    Japan Times Zeit Gist on Berlitz’s lawsuit against unions for “strike damage”

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

    Here’s a landmark case, dismissed by activists as a “frivolous claim”, which will affect unions profoundly in future if the right to strike (a right, as the article notes, which is guaranteed by the Japanese Constitution Article 28 under organization and collective bargaining) is not held sacrosanct by a Japanese court.

    Language school Berlitz, shortly after a request was filed with the authorities for an investigation of its employment practices, sued Begunto labor union for damages due to strikes. Although the article stops short of saying the epiphany-inducing words “union busting activities”, Berlitz below seems to playing for time in court, not even offering their reasons for their lawsuit by the appointed court date. Keep an eye on this case, readers. Next Labor Commission hearing date Feb 20 in Tokyo. Excerpt:

    According to Hideyuki Morito, an attorney and Professor of Law at Sophia University, “There are four checkpoints as to propriety of the strike.” The striking union must be a qualified union under the Labor Union Act and the strike must be related to working conditions. The means of the strike must also be legal, so striking union members can’t occupy offices or interfere with operations. “In short, all they can do is not work ,” says Morito. Finally, unions must “try to bargain collectively with the employer before deciding to go on a strike and give a notice in advance when they will strike.”

    Tadashi Hanami, professor emeritus at Sophia University, outlined what the company must prove to win. “The outcome of the court judgment depends almost entirely on whether the company can provide enough evidence to convince the judge that some of the union activities were maliciously carried out in order to intentionally cause undue damage, by disturbing normal running of day-by-day school business, thus exceeded the scope of legally protected bona fide collective actions as a kind of harassment.”

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Labor issues, Lawsuits | 13 Comments »


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

      日時  2009年2月28日(土) 午後1時30分〜4時30分
      場所  文京区民センター 3A
      参加費  資料代として500円
    第1部 シンポジウム
      コーディネーター 鈴木亜英(議長、弁護士、国民救援会会長)
      パネラー 新倉 修(青山学院大学教授)、吉田 好一(代表委員)
    伊賀 カズミ(日本国民救援会副会長)
    第2部 各分野からの発言と討論
    第3部 まとめと課題の提起

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, 日本語 | 2 Comments »

    Asahi: NJ overstayers finding housing through name laundering ads

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

    Continuing this mini-series in the uncovered permutations of NJ crime. Asahi reports that overstaying NJ involved in other types of crime are finding housing through a guarantor name laundering scheme.

    Again, we’re getting another article (same as yesterday’s blog) just reporting the facts of the case (without resorting to quoting some “expert” about how this is indicative of NJ or Chinese character etc.). And it does report that this laundering is going through a Japanese (and includes his name). All good. Ironically, it seems as though it may be difficult to prosecute the guarantor for fraud (the NJ, however, would lose his housing contract). So punishment looks a tad one-sided. Again, there is a strong tendency to punish the employee not the employer, the user not the broker, as happens surprisingly often, say, for employers of overstayers and human traffickers. It’s the NJ which gets it in the neck.

    Anyway, the guarantor system in Japan is a flawed one. We have people of any nationality unable to rent a place without a guarantor, and landlords all too often refuse to rent to a NJ even with a guarantor. It’s unsurprising to me that NJ would be finding a way around the system (they gotta live somewhere) and J brokers profiting from it. I’m just hoping that things like this won’t be further fodder for saying that NJ renters are worthy of suspicion (when this guarantor brokerage system is the subject of this article; after all, the system wouldn’t fly without a Japanese guarantor). To me (and again, this is not to diminish the crimes these perps are committing), Asahi reporting in such detail on the other crimes being committed by the NJ is a tad superfluous to the fraud cases at hand. Glad the quality of reportage is improving, in any case.

    Posted in Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media | No Comments »

    Mainichi: 3 Chinese arrested over paternity scam to get child Japanese citizenship

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

    Here’s an article in the Mainichi about a new form of crime: NJ falsifying paternity under Nationality Law revisions to try to claim Japanese citizenship. No doubt in the current NJ Blame Game climate we’ll get the Right Wing and wary xenophobes citing this as cases of NJ and the evils they do, and that we cannot give an inch (or amend any laws in future) to make life easier for NJ to immigrate and have their rights protected (after all, they might turn around and use potential legal loopholes as a means for criminal activity).

    But to me (and this is not to excuse their crime) this issue is a matter of forgery that only NJ can do (after all, Japanese already have citizenship), and this is what criminals (again, regardless of nationality) get up to. People forging names for, say, fake bank accounts (and we won’t even get into white-collar crime and business fraud) happens aplenty in Japan, and not all of it makes the news. So I say: Whenever it happens, catch it, expose it, report it, and punish it, regardless of nationality. But don’t say NJ are doing it because NJ (especially Chinese, according to Tokyo Gov Ishihara) are more likely to commit crime.

    Fortunately, the Mainichi doesn’t take that tack. It just reports the facts of the case. Good.

    Posted in Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, 日本語 | 1 Comment »

    Full four pages of Feb 17 2009 SPA! article on “Monster Gaikokujin” scanned

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

    For your discussion are the full four pages of the SPA! magazine article on how NJ (rendered “monster gaikokujin”, abbreviated to “Monga” to save space) are coming to Japan and doing bad bad things. Have a read.

    I offer a brief synopsis, then a critique. SPA! still tries to sensationalize and decontextualize (where is any real admission that Japanese do these sorts of things too, both domestically and internationally?), and commits, as I keep saying, the unscientific sin of ascribing behavior to nationality, as if nationalities were breeds of dogs with thoroughbred behaviors. Again, if you’re going to do a story on foreign crime (and it should be crime, not just simple faux pas or possible misunderstandings), talk about the act and the individual actor (yes, by name), and don’t make the action part of a group effort. Doing so just foments prejudice. But I’m sure the editors of SPA! are plenty sophisticated to know that. They’re just pandering to sell papers.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Discussions, GAIJIN HANZAI mag, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 10 Comments »

    Japan Times Zeit Gist on Noriko Calderon, born in Japan, child of overstayers, facing deportation

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

    What could turn out to be a landmark case is that of Noriko Calderon, a NJ born to two NJ overstayers, who face deportation but have support and legal representation to the GOJ to try to force the issue of her needing to stay. It will be interesting to see how this turns out, as thin edge of the wedge questions are raised in the article below.

    Excerpt: Commentary on many blogs has also been negative. “We can’t allow foreigners who came here illegally to stay,” wrote one critic on the free bulletin board 2channel. “If we do, many more will come to have children here and claim citizenship.”

    Watanabe calls comments like that “a joke.” “Do people who say those things have any idea how difficult it is to come to a country like Japan and live for years hiding from the authorities? Do they know what it is like to raise a child illegally here?”

    He estimates that there are between 100 to 200 similar cases around the country — illegal families with children who have been born and raised here. Amnesty is unlikely, meaning dozens more legal battles are likely in the coming years. Like Noriko, most of the children speak only Japanese and have never been to the “home” they are being sent back to…

    Last year a group of 80 lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party led by former party Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa proposed allowing foreigners in Japan to increase to 10 percent of the population by 2050, the clearest statement on the issue so far.

    “There is no effective cure to save Japan from a population crisis,” said the group. “In order for Japan to survive, it must open its doors as an international state to the world and shift toward establishing an ‘immigrant nation’ by accepting immigrants and revitalizing Japan.”

    But Watanabe says such newfound openness stands in stark contrast to the way foreign workers already here are treated. “I want to ask Nakagawa-san and the LDP: ‘If Japan can’t accept families like the Calderons who have been living here for years, how can we invite more?’ ”

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 26 Comments »

    Japan Today on Spa! magazine’s expose of “Monster Gaikokujin” (tourists and residents)

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

    It seems the “NJ blame game” I mentioned earlier this year is still continuing in the Japanese media. Japan Today reports tabloid magazine Spa! coining a special word to describe “monster gaikokujin” wreaking havoc and laying waste to Japan. Of course, Japanese tourists are ever so well behaved, and they don’t do things like deface a world heritage site and the like. And Japanese overseas don’t commit crime. Never ever. But imagine the howls of protest in the J media (and the J embassies) should the Italian media decry “mostruoso niapponese”. Ah well. More bad social science by media that seems convinced that the Japanese language is some kind of secret code unintelligible to the outside world. Opening paragraphs:

    “They get into jacuzzis at onsens still covered with body soap, punch out taxi drivers and so on. Here we pursue the mode of life of the foreigners who swagger in our faces during Japan’s recession!”

    This week’s issue of Spa! (Feb 17) then proceeds with a four-page polemic against foreign tourists and residents titled “Report of Monster Foreigners on the Rampage.”

    Spa! employs the word “monga” for this phenomenon, a neologism of created by combining “monsutaa” (monster) and “gaikokujin” (foreigner).

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media | 10 Comments »

    The Economist on international divorce and child custody (Japan passim)

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 11th February 2009

    The Economist print edition last week had a thorough story (albeit not thorough enough on Japan) on what divorce does to people when it’s international. Of particular note was that in Japan, the article noted that you don’t comparatively lose much money, but you lose your kids. It also mentions Japan’s negligence vis-a-vis the Hague Convention on child abduction. Excerpt:

    “Japan has not signed [the Hague Convention] either—the only member of the rich-country G7 not to have done so. Canada and America are leading an international effort to change that. Foreign fathers, in particular, find the Japanese court system highly resistant to attempts even to establish regular contact with abducted and unlawfully retained children, let alone to dealing with requests for their return. Such requests are met with incomprehension by Japanese courts, complains an American official dealing with the issue. “They ask, ‘Why would a father care that much?’” Countries edging towards signing the Hague Convention include India, Russia and mainland China. But parents whose ex-spouses have taken children to Japan should not hold their breath: as Ms Thomas notes, even if Japan eventually adopts the Hague Convention, it will not apply it retrospectively.”

    First Canada’s media and government,then America’s ABC News, then the UK’s Grauniad, and before The Economist came Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald. The story continues to seep out about Japan as a problematic party to a divorce and as a haven for child abduction. Now what we need is ever more big-impact media outlets such as The Economist to devote an entire story to it.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Lawsuits | 6 Comments »

    Fun and Games at Hokuyo Bank: Extra questions for the gaijin account holder

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

    Had a little adventure today at Hokuyo Bank, Hokkaido’s biggest, where I found out that any foreign money transfers regardless of amount were to be asked questions about purpose. Even those well under (by a factor of 40) threshold amounts under domestic and international money laundering guidelines. Why? Because it’s at the bank’s discretion, and in application that means people with funny-sounding names keep getting targeted for suspicious questions. Ah well, it’s not only Hokuyo. Hokkaido Bank has a history of doing it too. But at least Dougin apologized for it and said they’ll do better. Hokuyo just asks for our understanding. Read all about my funny little excursion today into the world of the Columboes at Hokuyo…

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 16 Comments »

    Japanese stewardesses sue Turkish Airlines for discrim employment conditions

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

    Here’s something that didn’t make the English-language news anywhere, as far as Google searches show. Japanese stewardesses are suing Turkish Airlines for unfair treatment and arbitrary termination of contract. They were also, according to some news reports I saw on Google and TV, angry at other working conditions they felt were substandard, such as lack of changing rooms. So they formed a union to negotiate with the airline, and then found themselves fired.

    Fine. But this is definite Shoe on the Other Foot stuff, especially given the conditions that NJ frequently face in the Japanese workplace. Let’s hope this spirit of media understanding rubs off for NJ who might want to sue Japanese companies for the same sort of thing.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Labor issues, Lawsuits, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept. | 15 Comments »


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

    1) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Feb 3, 2009: “2channel the bullies’ forum” (full text)
    2) Japan Today & Yomiuri: Criminal charges against Internet bullies
    3) NYT on “The Trolls among us” and measures against trollery

    4) JASSO eliminating exchange student funding on medical expenses, meaning sicker ryuugakusei
    5) Japan Times/Kyodo: Decrease in NJ “Trainees”

    6) Sumo wrestler Wakakirin expelled for smoking pot: Why’d it take so long?
    7) Newly-elected Tsukuba City Assemblyman Jon Heese on the hows and whys of getting elected in Japan

    …and finally…

    8 ) Poll on whether “discrimination is a right for Japanese people”
    …surprising is that 20% effectively say yes.

    Posted in Newsletters | 1 Comment »

    JASSO eliminating exchange student funding on medical expenses, meaning sicker ryuugakusei

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

    JASSO (Japan Student Services Organization), the group which offers very generous packages for ryuugakusei (exchange students) to come and take up spaces in Japanese universities, is being less generous as of late. This is a problem since how much those students are allowed to make up the shortfall is limited by visa status. Here’s an essay from YYZ about what’s going on there and the impact it’s having on different nationalities. Excerpt:

    “As of April, that won’t even be a factor. The support [for medical insurance] will be zero. I can manage, I’m a poor grad student, but I can make decent money teaching English/translating on the side. For the typical Chinese student, it will make life a lot tougher.

    Normally I don’t support handouts in the first place. But, since the Japanese government limits the amount of hours a student can legally work [28 hours per week, no more than 8 per day] thus limiting our income, [especially rough if the only job you can get is washing dishes for 750 an hour] some government consideration is only fair. We can’t live rent-free with Mama and Papa nor count on them for free food or to bail us out in times of need like most Japanese students. Not to mention the desire to travel home even just once a year. [I already can’t do that.]

    Many students must be already violating their visa work conditions just to scrape by. Now, more students will delay medical care, or work even more overtime in violation of their visas. Because when the government limits a self-supporting student to 21,000 yen/week in income [at 750/hr] and already takes about 5000/month just to join NHI, losing the medical expense subsidy is a kick in the teeth, as it’s already impossible to follow the visa work laws and live as a self-supporting student without a full scholarship and/or burning up one’s life savings.”

    Posted in Education, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 9 Comments »

    NYT on “The Trolls among us” and measures against trollery

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

    Here’s an excerpt of an excellent (if overlong) article from the NYT about Internet trolls, the world they inhabit, and the logical games they employ. For many, this will be a rude awakening, for if they tried to deal with trolls like this reasonably (when trolls had no intention of ever being reasonable) or (heaven forbid) empathize with them, this is what they got for their trouble. For the trolls themselves, it’ll be more like, “WTF, it’s your own fault for ever taking us seriously! What took you so long to figure us out?” It’s a good read and will convince people who care overmuch about what other people think to stop doing so if the other person is anonymous or pseudonymous. It’s about time the earnest people on the Internet took some measures against the intellectual gamers and malicious life wasters.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, 2ちゃんねる, Tangents | 7 Comments »

    Japan Today & Yomiuri: Criminal charges against Internet bullies

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

    Further to my Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column earlier this week, here is somebody else who is finally taking action against Internet stalkers and bullies. Smiley Kikuchi, a comedian (whose name is listed in today’s Yomiuri), has finally gotten the NPA to get off their asses and actually prosecute people criminally for posting threatening messages.

    Good for him. I get death threats all too frequently. The first time I got a major death threat, the police did nothing except take the threat letter, hold it for six years, and send it back with “inconclusive results”. The second time, much the same. In Kikuchi’s case, the messages were posted directly to his blog, by fools who didn’t realize that (unlike 2channel) their IP addresses would be visible.

    Given how inept I consider the NPA to be about enforcing its own mandate, or even court decisions, I usually just delete messages to my blog that are malicious or threatening in tone. Now, thanks to Smiley, they just might be legally actionable.

    Posted in 2ちゃんねる, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits, Tangents | 4 Comments »

    Japan Times/Kyodo: Decrease in NJ “Trainees”

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

    Excerpt: The economic crisis is taking a toll on foreign trainees in Japan.

    Preliminary data compiled by the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization show that the number of companies’ applications for permitting foreigners into Japan as trainees or technical interns last October fell 18.8 percent from a year earlier to 4,753.

    The figure for November stood at 4,692, down 25.5 percent from a year before. The organization, jointly founded by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and four other ministries, said Japanese firms are becoming reluctant to accept new foreign trainees in the face of the deteriorating economy.

    Posted in Labor issues | 2 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Feb 3, 2009: “2channel the bullies’ forum”

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

    Excerpt: Some salute [2channel’s coordinator] Nishimura as a “hero” and an “evangelist.” He’s also a willing abettor in the pollution of cyberspace, legitimizing an already powerful domestic bully culture with a worldwide audience. He had his day in court to explain himself. He didn’t show. He lost. Now he must pay up.

    If not, there will be blow-back. Our government has already made reactionary overtures to limit “illegal or harmful content” (whatever that means) on the Internet. Be advised: Once you give the unsophisticated Japanese police a vague mandate over anything, you’ll have random enforcement and policy creep, as usual. Kaplooey goes cyberfreedom of speech.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Injustice, 2ちゃんねる, Japanese Government | 6 Comments »

    Sumo wrestler Wakakirin expelled for smoking pot: Why’d it take so long?

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

    I have been avoiding talking about the “puff pieces” about pot smokers in Sumo (I’m sure toking helps with the munchies around chanko-nabe time; we might even get people finding other uses for the hemp-like substance surrounding much of the ceremonial decor), because there was nothing particularly noteworthy or unfair about it. Three sumo wrestlers who just happened to be Russian got caught inhaling, and they got it in the neck. Dumb of them to do it.

    However, now a Japanese rikishi, Wakakirin, just got caught and expelled. Funny thing is, he tested positive for the substance (twice) back in August like all the rest. Why wasn’t the bong lowered on him then?

    More importantly, this becomes Debito.orgable because Kyodo just had to run a bit saying that he got his stash from foreigners in Roppongi. That’s right, even when it’s a Japanese gone to pot, weasel in some blame for the NJ all over again. Sheesh.

    A couple of articles substantiating this follow.

    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Sport | 16 Comments »

    Newly-elected Tsukuba City Assemblyman Jon Heese on the hows and whys of getting elected in Japan

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

    What follows is an interesting (and in places deliciously irreverent) essay by Jon Heese, newly-elected naturalized Tsukuba City Assemblyperson, who encourages others to join him as elected local officials in Japan. He shows in this essay how he did it (he even looks a lot like Bill Clinton), with an important point: As long as you do your homework and figure out how your local system works, it should be possible for any number of people with international backgrounds (such as Inuyama’s Anthony Bianchi) to get in office and start making a difference.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Politics, Practical advice | 20 Comments »

    Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out Tues Feb 3, on 2-Channel and Japan’s Bully Society

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 1st February 2009

    My next Japan Times article comes out in two days, on Tuesday, Feb 3 (Weds Feb 4 for subscribers in the provinces). This time on 2-Channel BBS, and how it’s representative of Japan’s very well-developed (and oddly protected) Bully Society. No doubt it’ll cause the perfunctory frenzy of anonymous net denizens who confuse attacking the writer with actually making a counterpoint against the points he raises. (Whenever I raise the issue on this blog, out come the “kill yourself why don’tcha” posts. Never mind. The spam key is but a mouse-reach away.) But if anything, that’ll just reinforce the points made in the essay. Have a read on Tuesday!

    Posted in Articles & Publications | 2 Comments »


    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 1st February 2009

    1) Outrage over Mie-ken teacher criminalizing students thru fingerprinting. Well, fancy that.
    2) The Australian Magazine 1993 on Gregory Clark’s modus operandi in Japan
    3) Tsukiji Fish Market reopens, the NJ blame game continues
    4) BBS 2-Channel’s Nishimura sells off his golden goose
    (and my upcoming JT column Feb 3 on 2-Channel and Japan’s Bully Culture)
    5) IHT on Buraku Nonaka vs Barack Obama
    6) Kyodo/JT: Death penalty obstructs “presumption of innocence” in Japanese justice
    7) Irish Times on Jane v. NPA rape case (she lost, again)
    8 ) Kirk Masden on NJ crime down for three years, yet not discussed in media.

    9) Kyodo: Brazilian workers protest layoffs at J companies
    10) Wash Post on GOJ efforts to get Brazilian workers to stay
    11) Google zaps, later unzaps thanks to advice from cyberspace
    12) Southland Times on how New Zealand deals with restaurant exclusions
    13) Question on Welfare Assistance (seikatsu hogo) and privacy rights
    14) UN News on upcoming Durban human rights summit and Gitmo

    … and finally …
    15) Documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES on Japan’s hidden NJ labor market
    Japan Roadshow March 20 – April 1
    Screenings in Tokyo, Tsukuba, Hikone, and Okayama confirmed
    more being arranged in Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Sapporo

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »


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