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

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
Forwarding:  Debito

NUGW “MARCH IN MARCH” SUNDAY MARCH 8, 2009, TOKYO SHIBUYA, ALL WELCOME.  ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING TOMORROW, SUNDAY MARCH 1, 2PM.
POSTERS OF THE EVENT IN ENGLISH AND JAPANESE IN PDF FORMAT HERE. (ENGLISH) (JAPANESE)

Sisters and Brothers,  Please forward this email to all your friends and family.  So that I can track the progress of this email, please put me on the list when you forward it.
 
    If you are reading this email it means you are welcome to 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.
 
   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.  This year we are going national, with March in Marches slated to take place in other cities around Japan as well.
 
    Bring your friends, family, coworkers.  March in March would make a memorable first date.  Or a second one.
 
    Make a difference and have fun at the same time.   That is the March in March.
 
For questions, please contact me at nugw.carlet@ezweb.ne.jp     See you there!
 
In Solidarity,
Louis Carlet
NUGW Tokyo Nambu

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

UPDATE

We need help preparing for the March in March! Come to the Shimbashi office this Sunday March 1, starting at 2pm, to lend a hand.

Specifically, we need people to
1) make posters (make your own picket sign!)
2) help build the huge mushirobata signs that we carry each year
3) pick up flyers and take them to various spots in Tokyo
(e.g. your favourite English bookstore, or neighbourhood
pub.)

If you cannot come in, but would like us to send some
flyers for you to distribute, please send us your land
address.

And, of course, come to the March in March, Sunday, March 8, 2009.
Where: Miyashita Park in Shibuya, an 8-minute walk from
Hachiko beside the JR tracks on the way to Harajuku.
When: From 3:30 on. March departs at 5pm.

This is the 5th annual March in March, a parade for job
security and equality for all. Featuring performances of
Peruvian music, capoeira, and huge multi-lingual banners,
the march winds through the crowded streets of Shibuya,
passing in front of the station, and is watched by
thousands of passers-by. Be a part of it! Photos from last
year can be seen on the following websites:

http://www.mkimpo.com/diary/2008/march_in_march_08-03-09.html

March in March 2009

For questions, please contact Louis Carlet at
nugw.carlet@ezweb.ne.jp See you there!

In Solidarity,

Catherine Campbell
NUGW Tokyo Nambu

ENDS

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

UPDATE TWO

Only four poster-painting days left til the March in March!

Sunday, March 8, 4:00 pm in Miyashita Koen, near Shibuya Station.

We’re expecting capoeira performers, Peruvian musicians,
the NOVA bunny, maybe some samba dancers, along with
hundreds of workers from around the world and Japan:
eikaiwa teachers, factory workers, salarymen, temp staff,
freeters, university professors, parents, children, and
labour organizers, united behind the banner “Job Security
and Equality for All.”

Come by the Nambu office in Shimbashi on Saturday evening
to make a poster about your workplace, or just to lend a
hand with the preparations.

For more information, and photos from last year, see the
following sites:

Grupo Bantus Capoeira Japão


http://nambufwc.org/
http://www.mkimpo.com/diary/2008/march_in_march_08-03-09.html

MINISTRY NEGOTIATIONS

The following day, Monday, March 9, Nambu and other unions
will be negotiating with the ministries of education,
labour, and justice, on issues related to foreign
workers’ rights.

Time: 10:00 – 17:00
Place: Sangiin Daigiin Kaikan (House of Representatives
Hall)
(Kokkaigijidomae Station, Exit 1, turn right, cross the
street, and walk past the Shugiinkaikan 1 and 2)

10:00〜11:30 General policy
11:30〜13:00 Lunch break
13:00〜15:00 Language schools, dispatch, subcontracting
  
15:00〜17:00 Intern system

See you all there,

Catherine Campbell
NUGW Tokyo Nambu
ENDS

NPA on foreign-infiltrated organized crime: NJ crime down 3rd straight year, but not newsworthy in J-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.  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.  (We get little of this NPA assiduity for domestic crime; after all, the sociology of crime means that police get blamed if domestic crime rises, but get encouraged budgetwise if foreign crime rises.)

So this time the biannual deluge is buried within an NPA “soshiki hanzai jousei” general report released this week.  Despite the “general”-sounding title, the dirt on the NJ crooks starts from page eight, and continues throughout the total 47 pages.  

Conspiring foreign crooks are everywhere, it seems.  With so little focus on the pure Yamato yakuza, it looks like organized crime is the most international thing about Japan.  Lots of stories and case studies of NJ evildoers (with a special focus on money laundering from page 13; maybe this is why banks are targeting NJesque accounts and transactions recently).

For example, here an illustration of the web of intrigue that NJ get up to, from the NPA report page 31.  Note how the Japanese criminals (usually not included at all in any police-published visual specs of foreign crime, see page 22) are only involved in two stages of the game.

npayakuzagaikokujin0209jpg

(Love the NJ kingpin’s 1990’s cellphone.)

But oh oh for the NPA:  For the third straight year, foreign crime is, er, um, down.  However will they justify their budgets for the NPA’s Kokusai Taisaku Iinkai?

Don’t worry.  You’re not going to hear that good news in the Japanese media. At least, not in an unadulterated form.  Because when it comes to foreign crime, good news is no news.  Short AP article, then comments follow:

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

Number of crimes by foreign visitors down for 3rd year
Associated Press Feb 26 2009, courtesy MJ

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D96JFBFO3&show_article=1

TOKYO, Feb. 27 (AP) – (Kyodo)—The number of crimes committed by foreign visitors in Japan fell in 2008 for the third consecutive year to 31,280, down 12.6 percent from the previous year, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

The number of foreign criminals, excluding permanent residents, also dropped in 2008 for a third straight year to 13,872, down 12.8 percent, it said.

Both figures peaked in 2005, according to the NPA.

Of the 31,280 cases detected by police, 23,229 involved violations of the criminal code, while 8,051 involved immigration and other violations, the NPA said.

Chinese people accounted for 35 percent of the detected crimes, or 4,856, followed by South Koreans at 1,603 and Filipinos at 1,486.

Meanwhile, 633 foreign suspects fled abroad, the NPA said.

ENDS

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

Well, good.  But look what a Google News Search turns up:  No articles in the Japanese media, which in the past fell over themselves to scream alleged foreign crime rises (see examples in the Yomiuri, Sankei, and the Asahi).  Or in the case of the Mainichi, crime rate falls were headlined as falls in English but as rises in Japanese).  Evidence:  Screen capture today, current as of Midnight February 28:

foreigncrimemedia022709

You’d expect that if the overseas media has reported this, the domestic news certainly would have by now.  And it would no doubt would quite assiduously (if the past is any guide) if it had been a crime rate rise.  

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.

I’ll include below the text of Mainichi article featured in the Google News search above.  It’s also instructive of bent reporting.  Note how the headline does mention the crime rate did drop, but of course tempers the cheers by following up with assiduous reportage on how it’s also rising — in the provinces, as group crime increases.  The body of the text also tempers any fall with a rise, zeroing on Chinese perps (same as the above 47NEWS article), making sure the last thought you’re left with after reading a paragraph is how crime is increasing.

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

外国人犯罪:3年連続で減少 組織化進み、地方に広がる

http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20090227k0000e040017000c.html

 08年に警察が摘発した来日外国人の犯罪は前年比12.6%減の3万1280件で、3年連続減少したことが警察庁のまとめで分かった。以前より不法滞在者の割合が減る一方、共犯者がいるケースが増えて組織化が進んでおり、地方での犯罪も増えている。

 警察庁によると、刑法犯は2万3229件(前年比9.7%減)、入管法違反など特別法犯は8051件(同19.9%減)。国籍別の検挙人数では、中国が最多で全体の39.7%を占めた。

 10年前の98年との比較では、刑法犯のうち不法滞在者の割合は24.2%から8.6%に激減。単独犯の事件も37%と20ポイント減ったが、3人組は3.2倍、4人組以上が1.3倍と共犯事件が増えた。発生地域別でみると、東京都は3399件で26.5%減ったが、中部地方が24.6%増の4327件と東京を上回り、中国地方も2.4倍に増えた。【長野宏美】

毎日新聞 2009年2月27日 10時34分

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

I wonder how they’ll translate this for an English-reading audience (if they ever do; they haven’t as of this writing).  Hopefully they won’t sweeten it for tender NJ eyes like last time.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Kyodo: Proposal for registering NJ on Juuminhyou by 2012

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.  Coming atcha with some very good news.

NJ residents, after decades of being treated as nonresidents in registry procedures, will by 2012, so the proposal runs, be registered the same as Japanese.  Meaning get their own juuminhyou.  So say two Kyodo articles below.

Good, good, and good.  Here’s a link to information on why the old (meaning current) system is so problematic:

http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#juuminhyou

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Foreigners may be logged in resident registry
Kyodo News/The Japan Times: Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009

Courtesy of Sendaiben, Adam, and Joe Jones at Mutantfrog.

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.

Korean residents with special permanent status will be included, they said.

The ministry hopes the change will help municipalities get a better picture of foreign nationals living in their area and provide welfare and education services equivalent to those of Japanese nationals, according to the sources.

If non-Japanese make a request, municipal governments will issue optional residency certificates and Juki Net registration cards.

The certificate would include such information as name, address, sex, date of birth, nationality, resident status and length of stay.

About 2.15 million foreign nationals were registered as of the end of 2007, about 1.5 times that of 10 years earlier.

ENDS
==================================

外国人の住民票作成へ 在留期間3カ月超が対象

共同通信 2009年2月25日 12時19分

http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/s/article/2009022501000290.html

Courtesy of Sendai Ben and Joe Jones at Mutantfrog.

 総務省が今国会に提出する「住民基本台帳法改正案」が25日、明らかになった。現行の外国人登録制度の廃止に伴い、在留期間が3カ月を超す外国人も日本人と同様、住民基本台帳制度の登録対象とし、自治体が住民票を作成するのが柱。政府は3月に閣議決定し、早ければ2012年の施行を目指す。

 中・長期在留の外国人や在日韓国・朝鮮人などの特別永住者も住基台帳制度の対象とすることで、住民票の交付や住基カードの発行が可能になる。自治体が外国人住民の正確な居住実態を把握し、福祉や教育などで日本人と同様の行政サービスを提供できる効果も期待される。

 同省は当初、日本人の住基台帳とは別に外国人台帳の創設も検討していたが、「制度を分けるよりも効率的」として、住基台帳の対象に外国人を追加することにした。

 改正案で住基台帳制度の対象に加える外国人は、在留期間が3カ月超で、外国人登録証明書の代わりに国が新たに発行する「在留カード」の交付対象者や特別永住者ら。

 市区町村が作成、管理する外国人の住民票には、氏名、住所、性別、生年月日の4情報に加え、「国籍」、在留カードに記された「在留資格」「在留期間」を記載する。

 日本に住む外国人は07年末で215万人。10年間で1・5倍に増加している。

(共同)
ENDS

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

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.  Again, something interesting that cropped up while researching my thesis:  The stats on people who have naturalized (or applied and been rejected for Japanese citizenship for the past ten years.  Courtesy of the MOJ.

kikastats98-07

http://www.moj.go.jp/TOUKEI/t_minj03.html

COMMENTS:  Once upon a time (as in 2000), the MOJ would not give me these numbers, citing “privacy”, and it wasn’t until relatively recently before these stats, the ultimate in immigration, were so freely public.

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.

Of course, one would hope that a high acceptance rate would be the case.  There is a weeding-out procedure at the very beginning, as when you go to the MOJ Kokuseki-ka, they’ll sit you down for a one-on-one interview for an hour or so and ascertain whether or not you qualify.  And turn you away if you don’t.  Sensible, since there is a lot of paperwork (naturally), and you don’t want to be rejected after getting everything together (it took me a year; documents aren’t always comparable or easy to get from overseas, especially if your family is not all that cooperative).  

Note how the numbers of people either applying or succeeding over the years are not really rising (in fact, they’ve often roller-coastered significantly every year).  Considering the rapid rise of the NJ resident population over the same period, this is a little surprising.  

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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

More on my naturalization here.

ENDS

New Japanese driver licenses now have IC Chips, no honseki

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.  Related to yesterday’s posting:  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.

Here’s a screen capture excerpt from the NPA website:

npaicchipdriverlicense

(there’s a lot more text below on the site as explanation, see it at http://www.keishicho.metro.tokyo.jp/menkyo/menkyo/ic/ic.htm)

The reasons I find this perturbing (as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog entry comments discussing this) are:

1) There is no standardized form of ID that Japanese MUST carry 24/7 or face criminal punishment, unlike the Gaijin Cards discussed yesterday.  The Driver License is the most typical, followed by the Health Insurance Card (which is not even a photo ID), the controversial Juuki-Net card, koseki touhon and juuminhyou (also both not photo IDs) and passport.  Which means this most-used form of ID (many people spend thousands of dollars for drivers’ ed classes just to become “Paper Drivers”) is now getting Gaijin Cardized.  People are going to be trackable in future the same as the NJ.

2) For “privacy’s sake” (gee whiz, suddenly we’re concerned?), the honseki family registry domicile is being removed from IC Chipped Driver Licenses.  That was ill-thought-through, because once I get my license renewed, short of carrying my Japanese passport with me 24/7 I 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 the Fuzz’s 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 Dragnets.

And this after all the pains I took to make sure my Driver License had my honseki on it in the first place eight plus years ago when I naturalized.  See one of my favorite funny stories about that here.  (You just gotta love the vigilance of the cops that day, tracking me down for congratulations and offers of protecting my rights.)

One bit of good news, if you can call it that.  The NPA site shows exactly where the IC Chip is on your license.  Ready your hammers…  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

PS:  I just checked my Driver License.  As it says above, this IC program was inaugurated from January 2007, but I renewed my license back in January 2008.  Wonder why I didn’t get chipped.  The IC Chip machines hadn’t made it up this far north yet?

ENDS

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

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 the Debito.org poll on the top right of this page indicates, close to 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 is the actual proposal before Dietmembers, submitted by MOJ 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 (y’know, they’re a very helpful bunch; take out a subscription).

No comments for now. More information on the genesis of the IC Chip Gaijin Cards here (Japan Times Nov 22, 2005) and here (Debito.org Newsletter May 11, 2008, see items 12 and 13). More on this particular proposal before the Diet and how it played out in recent media here. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
newgaijincardteian0209001newgaijincardteian0209002newgaijincardteian0209003newgaijincardteian0209004newgaijincardteian0209005newgaijincardteian0209006newgaijincardteian0209007newgaijincardteian0209008

ENDS

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

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. Today’s entry is part of an occasional series called “Fun Facts”, where I come across a statistic so unzipping of reality that it bears memorizing. True “Fun Facts” are fun both in their predictive power and in describing how things got to where they are today. See what I mean by looking at previous Fun Facts on this blog.

The facts I will talk about today are about the future. While researching stuff on Debito.org, 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.

ekonomisuto01150816

UPDATE:  Some corrections made, courtesy James Annan.  Incorrect text crossed out.

The yellow bar (left-hand scale) indicates the population of people aged 65-74 in given years. The orange bar (same scale) indicates population of people aged 75 and up. The dotted line (right-hand scale) indicates percentage of population those people aged 65-74 would take up in those given years. The red line same for people aged 75 and up ([including the 65-74 age bracket]).

[Thus] The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare estimates that well more than half of the J population (57.2%, as in 21.5% +35.7%) 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 75 65 years of age? Who works and who pays taxes, when most 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.

Although this is more estimate than “fun fact”, it is still the MHLW’s estimate, and as such worthy of consideration. But if you want more fun, consider these numbers about NJ working visas from the same Ekonomisuto article of last January. Their source: MOJ Immigration Bureau, as of the end of 2006.

Topping the list of people who can work in the top left-hand column are the “Specialist in Humanities/International Services” (i.e. language teachers). Then we have “Engineers” (as in System Engineers) , “Entertainers” (as in, in many cases, human trafficking), “Skilled Laborers” (contract workers in factories, but not Trainees), and on down. The numbers are for numbers of individuals.

ekonomisuto01150821

The right-hand column is for people who cannot work, topped by “Exchange Students”, “Dependents”, “Trainees” (who do work but aren’t counted as “laborers”, as they are not covered by labor laws) on down. Below that are the six-digit numbers for people who can work without restrictions: The Zainichis (Special Permanent Residents), the Regular Permanent Residents (immigrants, fast gaining), the Long-Term Residents (as in the Nikkei Brazilians etc.), Spouses of Japanese Nationals etc.

What I don’t get is that the media reports that “The number of people entering Japan to become trainees had been increasing since the foreign trainee system started in 1993, topping 100,000 in 2007.” So, well, where are they in the numbers above? I only see 70,519. Anyway, companies are slashing their Researcher and Trainee numbers, so I think we might even see a fall in the number of NJ residents in Japan for the first time in four decades

Illegal overstayers are estimated at 170,839, but their numbers keep dropping.

Who’s here from what country is in the pie chart, sourced from Immigration. The numbers (2006) are indeed now historical, as the Chinese surpassed the Koreans to become the number one ethnic minority in Japan for the first time in 2007. Third are Brazilians, then The Philippines, Peru, the US, and then a whopping number of “others”.

NOTE: the top numbers (visas) and the bottom numbers (pie chart) don’t add up to each other (they’re not counting some of the more obscure visa statuses, like Diplomat). I’m not sure what the American military on their bases in Japan are counted as.

There are some estimates and Fun Facts. A bit historical, but they give some idea of scale. Have fun. Arudou Debito in Sapporo.

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

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.  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.   Debito in Sapporo

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

Nakagawa also misbehaved at Vatican Museum
The Japan Times: Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009.  Courtesy of Getchan

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090222a2.html

BELGRADE (Kyodo) 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.

The officials apparently didn’t find Nakagawa’s behavior to be a serious problem at the time, and the museum will not raise a protest, the sources said.

Nakagawa went to the museum for about 1 1/2 hours in the afternoon with senior officials from the Finance Ministry. They were accompanied by museum officials.

Nakagawa’s office on Saturday released a statement saying “He has been feeling ill and we are very sorry that he has caused troubles.”

He resigned Tuesday after drawing attention Feb. 14 by slurring his words and seemingly dozing off during a press briefing held after the G7 financial chiefs’ meeting about the deteriorating world economy.

The Japan Times: Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009
ENDS

Free Legal Consultation for NJ workers March 1, Sapporo

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 PSA from my lawyer. Upcoming free legal assistance in Hokkaido at the beginning of next month. Not everyone can attend this, I know. But FYI.  Debito in Sapporo

==Free Legal Consultation for NJ Workers==

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

How to Request a Consultation

– Consultation by Telephone
Please call 011- 272-8871 (The number is valid only for the day of consultation.)

– Consultation by Face to Face Meeting
Please come to the following place on the day. Reservations are not necessary.

Sapporo Bengoshi Bldg. 5F
Kita 1 Nishi 10, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
(3 min. on foot from Exit 4, Nishi 11-chome Subway Station)

Languages: Japanese, English and Chinese are available.
(For other languages, please be accompanied someone who can speak Japanese or English.)

Fees: Consultation is free of charge.
(If you choose to retain a lawyer, ensuring fees will be discussed at the time of retainment. For those who cannot afford a lawyer for financial reasons, Legal Aid is available.)

Contact:
The legal service network for foreigners
c/o Hokkaido Godo Law Offices
Odori Nishi12, Chuou-ku, Sapporo
TEL 011-204-9535 FAX 011-204-9545

———————————————-

外国人のための労働相談会
〜北海道で働く外国人の労働者の皆さんへ〜

あなたは、理由のない解雇、給料・残業代の未払い、職場での差別や 嫌がらせなどで悩んでいませんか?

私たち、外国人法律支援ネットワークの弁護士が、雇用・労働に関する 皆さんからの相談をお受けし、適切なアドバイスをさせていただきます。 お気軽にお電話またはご来場ください。

● 日時 2009年3月1日(日)10時〜15時

【電話相談】 当日、時間内に下記番号にお電話をください。

011-272-8871 (当日のみの専用電話です)

【面接相談】 当日、下記の場所までお越しください(予約不要)。

札幌弁護士会館 5F(札幌市中央区北1条西10丁目)
(地下鉄西11丁目駅下車地下鉄東西線「西11丁目駅」下車4番出口から北へ200m)

● 対応可能言語  日本語・英語・中国語
他の言語の場合は、大変申し訳ございませんが、日本語の通訳をご同伴ください。

● 相談料  無料
但し、具体的に事件処理を行う場合は別途費用が必要です。 なお、法律扶助制度がありますので、お金がないから弁護士に 依頼できないということはありません。

主催:外国人法律支援ネットワーク

お問い合わせ:
外国人法律支援ネットワーク(担当:芝池・加藤)
札幌市中央区大通西12丁目 北海道合同法律事務所内
TEL 011-204-9535FAX 011-204-9545
ENDS

Japan Times FYI column explaining Japan’s Bubble Economy

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.  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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

JAPAN’S BUBBLE ECONOMY
Lessons from when the bubble burst
The Japan Times January 6, 2009
By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer

With the current global financial crisis, there is much talk in the international economic communities about how to prevent the kind of prolonged slump that hit Japan after the end of the bubble economy years.

News photo
Reliving the good times: Women dance on a stage at a one-day revival for Juliana’s Tokyo held at Differ Ariake in Koto Ward, Tokyo, in September.YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO

The period between roughly 1985 and 1990 was a time of unparalleled prosperity in Japan. But it was also a gilded age defined by opulence, corruption, extravagance and waste. When the bubble economy years ended, Japan entered a prolonged slump from which it has yet to fully recover.

When did the bubble economy begin and when did it end?

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 the cause of the bubble economy?

The dollar became cheaper just as Japan was reaching the height of its economic prowess in manufacturing and at a time when most Japanese had huge amounts of personal savings.

The Bank of Japan had lowered interest rates from 5 percent in 1985 to 2.5 percent by early 1987.

Japanese banks, which had previously lent mostly to corporations, now had ample funds to lend at a time when their major corporate customers were flush with cash thanks to their trade surpluses and the availability of worldwide equity markets, which competed directly with Japanese banks.

So the banks began freely lending to Japanese firms and individuals, who purchased real estate, which increased the paper value of land assets. This created a vicious cycle in which land was used as collateral to obtain further loans, which were then used to speculate on the stock market or to purchase more land. This drove up the paper value of land further, while the banks continued to grant loans based on the overvalued land as collateral.

There was little questioning by either the government or the banks themselves over how the loans would be repaid or what would happen once land values started dropping.

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.

It was also a period of increased international travel, as Japanese went to the United States, Europe and Oceania in record numbers, shopping for Louis Vuitton and Gucci handbags, Seville Row and Armani suits, and the finest wines.

Trips were often made after dropping millions of yen at English conversation schools in posh buildings with fake Van Gogh paintings on the walls and fish tanks in the lobbies.

The bubble economy attracted Westerners by the planeload, who made fortunes at foreign banks and brokerages, or at least good money teaching English.

Changes in the immigration law in 1990 also allowed Brazilians of Japanese descent to settle in Japan and work in the factories that were facing a labor shortage as younger workers sought higher paying white-collar jobs in Tokyo or Osaka.

What happened after the party ended?

After the crash in late 1990, economic growth stalled and newspapers were filled with stories of businesses going bankrupt.

Corrupt deals involving the yakuza and senior executives at Japan’s largest, most venerable banks and brokerages came to light. Corporations essentially stopped investing and consumers curbed their spending. Housing loan corporations, known as “jusen,” started to go bankrupt, and then the larger banks were forced to merge to consolidate their mounting bad loans.

Various government-sponsored fiscal and economic stimulus measures, including trillions of yen in failed public works projects, did nothing to revive the economy. This led to what has been dubbed Japan’s lost decade, starting roughly in 1991, when the effects of the stock market crash became clear. The carnage lasted until around 2000 or 2001, after the banks had been bailed out with taxpayer funds, much corporate restructuring had taken place and the growth of the Chinese economy provided manufacturers some relief.

How is the bubble era seen today?

Nostalgically by those who remember when they had money to burn, with embarrassment by those who reflected on the attitudes and policies, or lack thereof, that led to it, and with anger by those who see the period as the moment in Japan’s history when the country abandoned it’s traditional moral, social, cultural values and became greedy in an allegedly Western or American sense.

Abroad, economists and bankers see the bubble era and its aftermath as a warning.

In the U.S. over the past few months, media and academic attention has focused on the bubble economy and how it compares with the current situation.

Much of the discussion is on how to avoid the mistakes Japan made that led to its lost decade. Economists in Japan and overseas agree the failure by the BOJ and the Finance Ministry to act quickly in the early 1990s, when it was clear the banks were in trouble, is a major reason for the lost decade.

The Weekly FYI appears Tuesdays (Wednesday in some areas). Readers are encouraged to send ideas, questions and opinions to National News Desk
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 20, 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
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 20, 2009
Table of Contents

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POLICING
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

NJ CRIME EXPOSURE: MEDIA EXCESSES AND RESTRAINTS
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

A MIXED BAG OF POTENTIAL LEGAL PRECEDENTS
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
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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, Daily blog updates at www.debito.org
Freely Forwardable

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POLICING

1) Yomiuri et al. on new “Zairyuu Cards” to replace “Gaijin Cards”

The new policing system for NJ is slowly materializing. This week’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 (not local governments), 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 Debito.org 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.

A couple of bits 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. And there will be a relaxation of the Reentry Permit program. Good. Finally. Read on.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2381

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2) Zainichi also get cards, although with relaxed conditions

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 in terms of terminology and application. 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 Debito.org if you find it.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2406

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

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 on Debito.org 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 of the fingerprinting program back in November 20, 2007, they raised a cheer for snagging NJ at the border, it was for passport issues, not prints. And the GOJ has 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 if it really made 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2382

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

What could turn out to be a landmark case is that of Noriko Calderon, a NJ born to two NJ overstayers entering Japan on false passports more than a decade ago, 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:

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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?’ “
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http://www.debito.org/?p=2303

EPILOGUE: MOJ ruled that Noriko can stay in Japan, but her parents cannot.

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A MIXED BAG OF POTENTIAL LEGAL PRECEDENTS

5) Japan Today on Spa! magazine’s expose of “Monster Gaikokujin” running amok in Japan

It seems the “NJ blame game” I mentioned earlier this year (http://www.debito.org/?p=2135) 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 an Italian 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).

http://www.debito.org/?p=2301

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

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.

A brief synopsis of the article starts (predictably) at Tsukiji, giving the reader a picture of the disruptive behavior of NJ fish-kissers and the like, flitting onwards to onsens (boy, that dead horse never gets tired), then on to “Monga” of monstrous sexual desire, propositioning Maiko as if they were prostitutes (and libidinous Chinese photographing their lap-dancers), drunk black people with video cameras terrifying a chaste Akiba Maid (who wasn’t too shy about posing maidly for the article), Koreans fouling hotel refrigerators with kimchee, etc. Of course, the nationality or the race is always identified and linked with the behavior (we are, after all, talking about breeds of NJ).

Then you turn the page for more detailed case studies of NJ depravity: An Australian who assaults a taxi driver (the latter just wants to tell the world that “it’s not only the evil-looking foreigners that are frightening — even the likes of White people who look like they work for world-class companies will do this”). A Turk who uses his looks and language skills to become a sexual predator. And a Filipina overstayer who plans to use her feminine wiles to land a life here.

Two bonus sidebars blame Lonely Planet guidebooks of encouraging NJ “eccentricities” and give you a Binaca Blast of Benjamin Fulford. Benjamin, safe behind sunglasses, asserts that 1) Caucasians let the natural “effeteness” of the Japanese people go to their head, and that 2) he’s being targeted by the yakuza and how Mossad is involved and er, dunno what this point is doing here. Holy cow, the shuukanshi got hijacked for Ben’s personal agenda! (BTW, not mentioned is how Ben is now a Japanese citizen. I guess now he feels qualified to pontificate from the other side of the mirror glasses how “Doing as the Romans do” is universal.)

See for yourself. Here are scans of the pages:
http://www.debito.org/?p=2315

QUICK ANALYSIS FROM DEBITO: This article is far less “brick through the window” than the “GAIJIN HANZAI” magazine a couple of years back. It acknowledges the need for NJ to be here, and how they’re contributing to the economy (not “laying waste” to Japan as the very cover of GH mag put it). They even mozaic out the NJ faces. From the very title, SPA! even mostly avoids the use of the racist word “gaijin” in favor of “gaikokuijn” even as it tries to mint a new epithet. And it’s trying to get at least some voice of the “foreign community” involved (even if it’s Benjamin Fulford, who can find a conspiracy in a cup of coffee). It’s an improvement of sorts.

That said, it 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. I’m just glad it’s not worse. Perhaps after all these years I’m getting jaded.

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2341

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8 ) Asahi: NJ overstayers finding housing through name laundering ads

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 person (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 who 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2347

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A MIXED BAG OF PRECEDENTS
9) Japan Times Zeit Gist on Berlitz’s lawsuit against unions for “strike damage”

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 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. 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.”
———————————-
http://www.debito.org/?p=2365

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

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 interest was that in Japan, the article noted, 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2299

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

11) Japanese stewardesses sue Turkish Airlines for discriminatory employment conditions

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2215

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

…and finally…

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

Had a little adventure on February 10 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 into the world of the Columboes at Hokuyo, and the comments from NJ who reveal the same thing happens to them…

http://www.debito.org/?p=2293

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

That’s all for today. Thanks to everyone as always for reading!
Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 20, 2009 ENDS

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

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.  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 here if you find it.  Thanks.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Plan for special permanent foreign residents in Japan to get different card

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20090218p2a00m0na006000c.html

(Mainichi Japan) February 18, 2009  Courtesy of Jeff K.

Special permanent foreign residents in Japan will be obliged to carry a different resident status card instead of the current alien registration card, according to a Justice Ministry proposal.

The ministry has outlined its proposal on the amendment to the Immigration Control Law and related bills to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Judicial Affairs Division.

Under the proposed bills, cards for special permanent residents will be issued to about 430,000 Korean and other foreign residents in Japan, which they will be obliged to carry as their identification cards.

Re-entry procedures for such residents will be relaxed as much as possible under the proposed bills, such as by exempting them from the need to obtain re-entry permits if they have stayed abroad for two years or less. They will also be allowed to leave Japan for up to six years, instead of the current limit of four years.

In a related move, the government is planning to introduce a new registration system for medium and long-term foreign residents in Japan — in place of the current alien registration system — by providing them with resident status cards issued by immigration authorities.

Under the new scheme, information on medium and long-term foreign residents will be incorporated into a system similar to the resident registry system managed by each municipality. The limit for their stay in Japan will be extended from the current three years to up to five years, and their re-entry procedures will be relaxed.

ENDS

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

在留管理制度:特別永住者、身分証携帯を義務付け 改正入管法案、法務省が提示

毎日新聞 2009年2月18日

http://mainichi.jp/select/seiji/archive/news/2009/02/18/20090218ddm002010109000c.html

 外国人登録制度に代わる「在留カード」による新たな在留管理制度について、法務省は17日、改正入管法など関連法案の概要を自民党法務部会に提示した。焦点だった在日韓国・朝鮮人ら特別永住者には、外国人登録証に代わり「特別永住者証明書」を交付して携帯を義務付ける。一方、再入国手続きは最大限緩和する。

 新たな在留管理制度は、中長期の外国人滞在者に入管が発行する在留カードを交付して外国人情報を一元化。外国人登録制度を廃止し、日本の住民基本台帳と同様に市区町村が外国人台帳を作成する。同時に在留期間の上限を現在の3年から5年に引き上げ、再入国許可も緩和する。

 約43万人いる特別永住者は在留カード携帯の対象外だが、新たな身分証明書として特別永住者証明書を交付。再入国手続きは、2年以内は許可を不要とし、長期出国の許可の有効期間も4年から6年に延ばし負担軽減を図る。【石川淳一】

毎日新聞 2009年2月18日 東京朝刊

ENDS

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

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. 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. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Number of foreigners overstaying visas in Japan nearly halves in 5 yrs

Feb 16 2009, Associated Press. Courtesy of Japan Probe.
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D96D065O1&show_article=1

(AP) – TOKYO, Feb. 17 (Kyodo)—The number of foreign nationals who stayed in Japan after their visas expired nearly halved to around 113,000 from 219,000 in the five years to Jan. 1, according to a survey by the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau released Tuesday.

The number of those who entered Japan illegally in the same period also fell, to around an estimated 15,000-23,000 from 30,000, the bureau said. The estimates are based on information given by foreign nationals caught by law-enforcement authorities, it said.

In December 2003, the government came up with a plan to halve the number of people staying illegally in Japan in five years. The latest figures suggest the goal has more or less been achieved.

The number of people overstaying their visas began rising sharply in the 1990s, peaking at around 300,000 in 1993. The number has gradually been declining since.

The Immigration Bureau said it has stepped up its efforts, jointly with police, to crack down on those overstaying their visas — especially since 2004, when the government’s plan was put into effect.

The introduction of a biometric system has helped immigration officials stem the re-entry of those who have been deported, the bureau said. In the year since it was introduced in November 2007, 846 people have been refused entry on the basis of biometric verification.

By nationality, South Koreans topped the list of those staying longer than allowed as of Jan. 1 at around 24,000, followed 18,000 Chinese, 17,000 Filipinos, 6,000 Thais and 5,000 Taiwanese, according to the survey.

ENDS

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

外国人の不法残留者11万人、5年で半減をほぼ達成
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/politics/news/20090217-OYT1T00300.htm

法務省は17日、今年1月1日現在の外国人の不法残留者数は11万3072人で、前年より3万6713人(24・5%)減少したと発表した。

政府が「不法滞在者5年半減計画」をスタートさせた2004年の不法残留者数(21万9418人)からの減少率は48・5%となり、同省は「目標はおおむね達成できた」としている。

不法残留者の減少は1994年から16年連続。今回の減少率は前年(12・3%)の2倍近くに達した。法務省は「07年11月に導入した生体認証(バイオ)審査が奏功した」と分析している。国籍別では韓国の2万4198人(21・4%)が最も多く、中国1万8385人(16・3%)、フィリピン1万7287人(15・3%)と続いた。

一方、08年に出入国管理・難民認定法違反として強制退去手続きとなった外国人は3万9382人。空港などの入国審査で日本への上陸を拒否された外国人は前年比31・0%減の7188人で、5年ぶりに1万人を下回った。

(2009年2月17日10時43分 読売新聞)

ENDS

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

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. 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 Debito.org 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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Govt to issue new ID cards to sniff out illegals

The government intends to strengthen its efforts to prevent foreigners from staying here illegally by unifying administrative systems for foreign residents in the nation, according to a draft bill to revise the immigration law obtained by The Yomiuri Shimbun on Monday.

The draft legislation to revise the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law states that the justice minister will issue new residence cards to aliens staying in Japan for mid- to long-term periods of time.

The current alien registration certificates issued by municipal governments will be abolished, and foreigners will instead use the new cards as identification.

The draft bill also includes provisions to imprison or deport people who forge the envisaged cards.

The government plans to submit the bill during the current Diet session, according to sources.

The new residence cards will carry the foreigner’s name, date of birth, gender, nationality, address, status of residence and period of stay. The cards will be issued to aliens staying in Japan legally.

The cards will enable authorities to detect illegal stayers by checking whether they possess the cards.

The draft bill will require foreign residents to report to the Immigration Bureau any changes such as to their place of employment, school or address. Under the current law, foreign residents are required to report such changes only to municipal governments. However, this system has bogged down attempts by the Immigration Bureau to keep a comprehensive track of foreign residents.

The revised law also will allow the bureau to investigate, on a voluntary basis, institutions and other bodies that are responsible for helping foreigners enter the country.

So-called special permanent residents–Koreans living in Japan–will not be required to acquire the envisaged residence cards. Instead, new identification certificates will be issued to them.

To reduce the time and paperwork involved in renewal procedures, the draft bill calls for extending the period of stay to five years for aliens who are currently allowed to stay in Japan for up to three years.

The draft legislation also includes a provision to create a new status of residence for aliens coming to Japan on the government’s foreign trainee system. It stipulates that the Minimum Wages Law and other labor-related laws will be applied to such foreign trainees.

The foreign trainee system is aimed at transferring Japan’s technical expertise to other countries. Under the system, foreign trainees participate in workshops and training programs at companies for up to three years.

However, the system has been criticized because some companies take advantage of these trainees by making them work excessively long hours for low pay. For the first year of their stay, the foreign trainees are not officially recognized as laborers, and therefore they fall outside the reach of labor-related laws.

Meanwhile, the status of residence for international students will no longer be divided into “college students,” who attend a college or advanced vocational school, and “pre-college students,” who attend a high school or Japanese language school. Under the envisaged new system, the two categories will be integrated to allow foreign students to skip procedures to change their status of residence when they go on to higher education.

(Feb. 17, 2009)
================================
Here’s the corresponding Yomiuri article in Japanese, with a lot less detail:

外国人に「在留カード」…偽造行為に罰則、国が一元管理へ

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/politics/news/20090216-OYT1T01221.htm
 政府が今国会に提出する出入国管理・難民認定法改正案の概要が16日、明らかになった。

 中長期に日本に滞在する外国人に対し、身分証となる「在留カード」を法相が発行し、在留管理を国に一元化する。これに伴い、市区町村が発行している外国人登録証明書は廃止する。カードの偽造行為には懲役刑や強制退去処分の罰則規定を設ける。

 カードには氏名や生年月日、性別、国籍、住所、在留資格、在留期間を記載。勤務先や住所などに変更があった場合は、入国管理局に届け出ることを義務づける。

 「特別永住者」と呼ばれる在日韓国・朝鮮人は在留カードの対象から外し、新たな身分証明書を発行する。原則3年が上限の外国人の在留期間を5年に延長することも盛り込んだ。

(2009年2月17日03時22分 読売新聞)

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

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 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. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Next Labor Commission Begunto hearing date Feb 20 in Tokyo.  Directions from the union:

Berlitz Labor Commission Hearing Number 2    Friday, Feb. 20, at 1:30pm at Tokyo Labor Commission
 
Take Oedo Line to Tochomae Station, exit A3, up two sets of escalators, pass passport office, up stairs, take elevator bank H up to 34th floor and find “roh” (labor) room for Life Communications (company name).

  Let’s show the commission how much support our Berlitz sisters and brothers continue to have in their fight for the right to strike.  Their strike began in Dec. 2007 for a 4.6% base-pay hike and a one-month bonus.  The strike escalated in autumn of 2008 and management rather than yield to the demand decided to cheat — threatening strikers and suing all the executives for 110 million yen each.  Come on out and support Begunto (Berlitz General Union Tokyo).

News photo
Van hailing: Members of the Berlitz General Union Tokyo (Begunto) and the National Union of General Workers (NUGW) Tokyo Nambu make their voices heard atop a sound truck outside the Berlitz school in Yurakucho, Tokyo. COURTESY OF BEGUNTO

THE ZEIT GIST

Berlitz launches legal blitz against striking instructors

By JAMES McCROSTIE

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090217zg.html
It has been 14 months since members of the Berlitz General Union Tokyo (Begunto) first downed chalk and launched rotating strikes against the language school Berlitz Japan.

The strike has grown into the longest and largest sustained strike by language teachers in Japan. While about 500 Nova teachers struck during that firm’s collapse in 2007, the action only lasted a day.

The dispute entered a new phase on Dec. 3 when, after nearly a year of strike action by union members, Berlitz Japan served notice they were suing the five teachers who serve as volunteer Begunto executives, as well as two officials of the National Union of General Workers (NUGW) Tokyo Nambu: President Yujiro Hiraga and Louis Carlet, the deputy general secretary and case officer for Begunto. The suit also names NUGW Tokyo Nambu and its Begunto branch as defendants.

Claiming the strike is illegal and that the union is trying to damage the company, Berlitz Japan is suing for ¥110 million in damages from each defendant.

“I first heard officially about the suit when a subpoena was delivered to my door in early December,” recalls Catherine Campbell, Begunto Vice President. “It was a shock to see myself and the others named individually as defendants.”

“The amount of money is so large that it didn’t seem real to me,” says Campbell. “It’s obvious that no English teacher has ¥110 million lying around, so I find it hard to believe that financial compensation is the real objective of their suit. The real objective is to intimidate and weaken the union.”

For Carlet, the suit also came as a surprise. “We were shocked because we make every effort to follow all Japan’s laws. We also felt frustrated that rather than concede the union’s strength and make meaningful concessions, Berlitz Japan has decided to spend a lot of money to sue us based on a frivolous claim that the strike is illegal.”

The company’s resort to the courts is unusual, explains Takashi Araki, a law professor at the University of Tokyo. “It’s not often that Japanese employers sue striking workers for illegal actions. An employer must bear the burden to prove the illegality of the strike, the amount of damages and causal relationship between the illegal strike and the damages. It’s not easy.”

On precedents for this kind of action, Timothy Langley, an American lawyer working in Tokyo, called the suits “very unusual,” adding, “but once again, it’s a tactic.” Langley predicted that like the vast majority of civil court cases in Japan, the Berlitz dispute would be settled out of court through negotiation.

The Begunto strike began on Dec. 13, 2007. Seeking the first across-the-board pay raise for Berlitz Japan teachers in 16 years, the union had a list of nine demands, including a 4.6-percent raise for all employees (teachers and staff), a one-time bonus equal to a month’s pay, and enrollment in Japan’s health insurance and pension system.

Inequalities between old and new teachers influenced the decision to strike. According to Begunto’s Web site, the number of lessons taught has increased from 30 per week for teachers hired in the early 1990s to 40 lessons a week for teachers hired after 2005, with no corresponding increase in the ¥250,000-a-month starting salary.

“The strike was an inevitable result of the new contracts introduced in 2005,” says Campbell. “Berlitz has had a history of slowly reducing conditions for new hires every once in a while, and up until now the changes have been small enough and incremental enough not to inspire a major backlash. This time they simply went too far, and created a pool of new hires working alongside teachers on older contracts who had obviously better conditions; teachers old and new felt the unfairness of this.”

The financial health of Benesse Corp., Berlitz Japan’s parent company, also influenced the timing of the strike. In their annual report for the financial year ending March 31, 2008, Benesse recorded their highest-ever earnings. Operating income grew 11.4 percent and Berlitz International Inc. achieved its best result since being bought by Benesse. Operating income for Benesse’s language company division rose 36 percent from the year before to ¥6.35 billion, in part due to higher revenues and profits at Berlitz International, which benefited from “an increase in the number of lessons taken worldwide, particularly in Japan and Germany,” according to the report.

Since the start of the strike, more than 100 English, Spanish, and French teachers have participated in spot strikes of almost 3,500 lessons. Carlet explained how the strikes work: “Nambu and Begunto notify management who will strike and from what time to what time. Sometimes they last only one lesson, other times several lessons.” During the strike, 32 of 46 Kanto-area schools have had teachers walk out.

In addition to the traditional Japanese labor-dispute staples, such as sound trucks and leaflet hand-outs, Berlitz’s striking teachers have also been taking advantage of what every hip industrial action requires nowadays: a Web site and YouTube videos.

“Internet technology has given us a chance to go almost head to head with the company, which has far greater financial and public relations resources to construct a positive self-image,” says Carlet. “We have used our site — www.berlitzuniontokyo.org — for general information and YouTube for visuals on our public appeals for support for the strike.”

Early in the strike the union made several concessions, reducing their list of demands down to two: a 4.6 percent base-pay raise for all teachers and staff and a bonus equal to one month’s salary. “If management makes a serious concession we will consider moving on our side even further than we have already,” says Carlet.

Management offered a raise of less than 1 percent at the end of September. Union members rejected that offer and, according to Carlet, “The union escalated their actions in October, including more strikes.” Begunto members also stepped up the number of leafleting sessions outside Berlitz schools and demonstrated in front of Berlitz’s Aoyama headquarters. “We also asked Benesse, Berlitz Japan’s parent company, to meet for talks. Berlitz began sending protests and threats of litigation soon after that.”

When reached by phone, Berlitz Japan representatives declined to comment on either the lawsuit or the strike.

The first court date for Berlitz Japan’s lawsuit on Jan. 26 proved anticlimactic. The more than 30 union members and supporters — as well as a contingent of Berlitz Japan managers — who came to the hearing at the Tokyo District Court didn’t have the chance to hear any legal arguments of substance.

The lawyers for Berlitz Japan failed to submit their written arguments for why the strike was illegal. They informed the judge that it would take until March to prepare because of the time required to translate documents between English and Japanese. Ken Yoshida, one of the lawyers for the teachers, expressed surprise that a language school would offer such an excuse for the delay.

Problems also arose because Berlitz Japan had failed to properly serve three of the defendants with notice of the lawsuit. The 20-minute hearing ended with the second court date scheduled for April 20. Addressing union members and supporters after the hearing, Yoshida said that the Berlitz lawyers were “obviously stalling” and wanted a protracted court fight.

The burden of proof for the case lies with Berlitz Japan, says professor Araki. “Since Japan’s Constitution and Labor Union Act guarantee the workers’ right to go on strike, employers cannot claim damages caused by legal strikes. Thus, generally speaking, it is an employer who must prove the illegality of the strike.”

However, unions must follow rules when striking. 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.”

Begunto and NUGW Nambu launched their own legal challenge to Berlitz Japan, filing an unfair labor practices suit for violations of Trade Union Law on Nov. 17. The suit asked the Tokyo Labor Commission to investigate unfair labor practices by the company.

Union representatives argue that memos posted at all Berlitz Japan language schools in November that declared the strike illegal and letters sent to union members telling them to end the strike are illegal interference. “Since nothing about our strike was the slightest bit illegal, the memos and warning letters themselves are illegal interference in the strike,” says Carlet.

The unions’ suit also asks the Labor Commission to investigate Berlitz Japan’s refusal to meet the union’s pay demands and failure to provide any data on the company’s finances to the union. According to Carlet, “Management has a responsibility to explain to the union why it can’t meet our financial demands. It makes no such effort.”

As the company and the unions gear up for what could be a drawn-out fight, Campbell describes a surreal existence as the sued teachers wait for the lawsuits to wind through the legal system. “Now it just feels strange to be going to work as usual, teaching Berlitz lessons, while at the same time being accused of deliberately damaging the company.”

The next stage in the legal battle will be an open hearing at the Tokyo Labor Commission on Feb. 20 at 1:30 p.m.

Send comments on this issue and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009

ENDS

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

Berlitz Labor Commission Hearing Number 2    Friday, Feb. 20, at 1:30pm at Tokyo Labor Commission
 
Take Oedo Line to Tochomae Station, exit A3, up two sets of escalators, pass passport office, up stairs, take elevator bank H up to 34th floor and find “roh” (labor) room for Life Communications (company name).

  Let’s show the commission how much support our Berlitz sisters and brothers continue to have in their fight for the right to strike.  Their strike began in Dec. 2007 for a 4.6% base-pay hike and a one-month bonus.  The strike escalated in autumn of 2008 and management rather than yield to the demand decided to cheat — threatening strikers and suing all the executives for 110 million yen each.  Come on out and support Begunto (Berlitz General Union Tokyo).

2009年2月28日シンポ「国際水準からみた日本の人権」—国連勧告をいかそうー後楽園付近にて

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
………………………………………………………………………………
「国際水準からみた日本の人権」—国連勧告をいかそうー
シンポジウム&トークへの協力のお願い
 2008年10月、国連自由権規約委員会による第5回日本政府報告審査が行われ、総括所見(勧告)が出されました。10年ぶりに出されたこの勧告は、日本の人権状況が国際水準から遅れていることを強く批判しています。
 女性の社会進出、刑事司法、拘禁・死刑制度、言論・表現、思想・信条の自由、戦後補償、人間の尊厳に対する侵害などなど、重要で多面的な諸制度の改善勧告しています。
 派遣切捨て、非正規労働者解雇、人格まで否定する人権侵害が社会問題となっているいま、この画期的な勧告を日本社会でどう活かすか、人が生きていくうえで欠かすことのできない自由な権利について、みんなで考え、話し合う集会です。
ぜひ、多くの方の参加を呼びかけます。

  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
      (東京メトロ「後楽園」、都営地下鉄「春日」下車)
  参加費  資料代として500円
第1部 シンポジウム
 「国連勧告の意義と国際人権定着のためにいま、何が必要か」
  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
 カウンターレポート、「民の声」提出団体、総括所見で取り上げられたテーマを中心に。
第3部 まとめと課題の提起
主催 「国際水準からみた日本の人権」集会実行委員会
【呼びかけ団体】 国際人権活動日本委員会/自由法曹団 
治安維持法国賠同盟/日本国民救援会
事務局/国際人権活動日本委員会 � 03-3943-2420 Fax 03-3943-2431
_________________________________________________________________

ENDS

Asahi: NJ overstayers finding housing through name laundering ads

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. 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 skosh superfluous to the fraud cases at hand.  

Glad that the quality reportage is improving, in any case.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

============================
Ads tout identity-lending for foreigners
BY SACHIKO MIWA, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
2009 Feb 3
Courtesy of MS
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200902030063.html

Many illegal foreigners in Japan are finding housing through thriving services that lease Japanese names, provide fake documents and are openly advertised, police said.

The advertisements can be found in abundance in Chinese-language papers in Japan. But legal experts say there is little authorities can do to regulate such services.

Some suspects who have bought Japanese aliases through these services have been linked to other crimes, such as theft and drug dealing.

The scheme of one identity broker was uncovered after Kanagawa prefectural police arrested a 33-year-old Chinese man involved in more than 60 break-ins in June 2008. Investigators found a lease contract for the man’s apartment in Yokohama with a Japanese name on it.

The investigation led police to Shizuo Ito, a 41-year-old trading company executive in Tokyo’s Toshima Ward. He had been placing advertisements in Chinese language newspapers saying he could provide guarantor services for as little as 6,000 yen.

The ads also mentioned “names” for registration.

Ito was arrested and indicted on charges of faking certificates of income.

According to police, Ito introduced Japanese alias providers to foreigners who called about his advertisements. He produced falsified income certificates with the corporate seal of a fake company for the name lenders and submitted them to real estate companies.

To give the appearance that the fake company actually existed, Ito used a telephone answering service to deal with inquiries from the realtor, police said.

Once the realtor was convinced that the Japanese had sufficient income, the illegal foreigner using the alias could move in.

Using the scheme, Ito had fixed at least 200 contracts for apartment leases since November 2006. He amassed about 14 million yen in profits by collecting a one-time fee equivalent to 80 percent of the foreign client’s monthly rent, police said.

Ito said he came up with the idea after seeing name-lending advertisements in sports newspapers, according to police.

Kanagawa prefectural police last month arrested 27 foreign nationals, including 23 Chinese, illegally residing in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures who had used Ito’s services.

Of the 27 suspects, aged between 27 and 47, three Chinese men were arrested in an apartment in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture. Police found what they believed were stolen electronic appliances, such as a personal computer and a digital camera, as well as a blow torch that may have been used in break-ins.

An Iranian suspect, believed to have been a drug smuggler, was also caught in Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture.

In addition, police confiscated a number of false passports, alien registration cards and certificates of employment in the raids. Although some of the suspects were working in snack bars, izakaya pubs and construction sites, about half had no records of employment.

Police are trying to determine how they entered the country and what they did here.

Masayuki Enmei, a lawyer well-versed in lease contracts, said the act of renting a home using another person’s identity is prohibited under Civil Law as unauthorized subleasing, and it could provide ample grounds for the landlord to terminate a contract.

However, since the amount of damage caused to the landlord is unclear, there may be insufficient grounds to incriminate the name-leasing as fraud under the Criminal Law, Enmei said.(IHT/Asahi: February 3,2009)
ENDS

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

Sorry, not a pencil-dropping comment, but it has to be said sometime somewhere by somebody.  Voila.  Debito in Sapporo

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

3 Chinese arrested over paternity scam to get child Japanese citizenship

(Mainichi Japan) February 13, 2009, Courtesy of Jeff K.

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20090213p2a00m0na012000c.html

An unmarried Chinese couple and another Chinese woman were arrested Friday for using the name of a Japanese man in a paternity recognition document in a bid to obtain Japanese citizenship for the couple’s child and acquire permanent residency for themselves, police said.

Wang Zong, 29, and Shen Nan, 28, both unemployed, and company worker Guo Qingqing, 34, are accused of forging private documents.

“I thought this would let our child and us stay in Japan as a family. We wanted our daughter to be educated in Japan,” Wang was quoted as telling investigators during questioning.

According to the revised Nationality Law that went into effect in January, children of unmarried Japanese fathers and foreign mothers can obtain Japanese citizenship if the father recognizes paternity.

The suspects submitted a paternity recognition form to the Higashikurume Municipal Government in Tokyo in January last year for Wang and Shen’s 1-year-old daughter, which indicated the father as a 56-year-old Japanese man, investigators said.

Guo masterminded the crime, using the name of a Japanese acquaintance who was in prison at the time and was not in on the scam, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. Shen paid Guo an 800,000 yen fee.

(Mainichi Japan) February 13, 2009

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

偽の認知届提出:中国人男女を逮捕 子供の日本国籍狙い

毎日新聞 2009年2月13日

http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20090213k0000e040072000c.html

 日本人男性の名を勝手に使い、うその認知届などを提出したとして、警視庁組織犯罪対策1課は13日、いずれも中国籍で無職の女、王宗(29)=東京都豊島区池袋▽無職の男、沈楠(28)=同▽会社員の女、郭清清(34)=足立区西新井本町=の3容疑者を有印私文書偽造・同行使容疑などで逮捕したと発表した。王と沈の両容疑者は恋人同士で、子供の日本国籍を取得し、永住資格を得ようとしたとみている。

 1月施行の改正国籍法では、日本人の父と外国人の母の間に生まれた子供は、未婚でも父の認知だけで日本国籍が取得できる。

 逮捕容疑は、昨年1月、王、沈両容疑者の間にできた子供について、王容疑者と日本人男性(56)の子と偽り、認知届を東京都東久留米市役所に提出したとしている。王容疑者は「親子3人で日本で生活できると思った。子供に日本で教育を受けさせたかった」と供述しているという。

 組対1課によると、偽装認知は郭容疑者が主導し、知り合いで当時服役中だった日本人男性の名前を夫として勝手に使用していた。沈容疑者は80万円の謝礼を郭容疑者に渡していた。

 男性が警視庁の聴取に「子供はいない」と話し不正が発覚。先月下旬、DNA鑑定で、生まれた女児(1)が王、沈両容疑者の子と判明した。【武内亮】

毎日新聞 2009年2月13日 13時22分(最終更新 2月13日 19時47分)

 

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

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.  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.

A brief synopsis of the article starts (predictably) at Tsukiji, giving the reader a picture of the disruptive behavior of NJ fish-kissers and the like, flitting onwards to onsens (boy, that dead horse never gets tired), then on to “Monga” of monstrous sexual desire, propositioning Maiko as if they were prostitutes (and libidinous Chinese photographing their lap-dancers), drunk black people with video cameras terrifying a chaste Akiba Maid (who wasn’t too shy about posing maidly for the article), Koreans fouling hotel refrigerators with kimchee, etc.  Of course, the nationality or the race is always identified and linked with the behavior (we are, after all, talking about breeds of NJ).

Then you turn the page for more detailed case studies of NJ depravity:  An Australian who assaults a taxi driver (the latter just wants to tell the world that “it’s not only the evil-looking foreigners that are frightening — even the likes of White people who look like they work for world-class companies will do this”).  A Turk who uses his looks and language skills to become a sexual predator.  And a Filipina overstayer who plans to use her feminine wiles to land a life here.  

Two bonus sidebars blame Lonely Planet guidebooks of encouraging NJ “eccentricities” and give you a Binaca Blast of Benjamin Fulford.  Benjamin, safe behind sunglasses, asserts that 1) Caucasians let the natural “effeteness” of the Japanese people go to their head, and that 2) he’s being targeted by the yakuza and how Mossad is involved and… er, dunno what this point is doing here.  Holy cow, the shuukanshi got hijacked for Ben’s personal agenda!  (BTW, not mentioned is how Ben is now a Japanese citizen.  I guess now he feels qualified to pontificate from the other side of the mirror glasses how “Doing as the Romans do” is universal…)

See for yourself.  Here are scans of the pages (click to expand).  Comment from me follows:

spa021709001spa021709002spa021709003spa021709004

QUICK ANALYSIS FROM DEBITO:  This article is far less “brick through the window” than the “GAIJIN HANZAI” magazine a couple of years back.  It acknowledges the need for NJ to be here, and how they’re contributing to the economy (not “laying waste” to Japan as the very cover of GH mag put it).  They even mozaic out the NJ faces.  From the very title, SPA! even mostly avoids the use of the racist word “gaijin” in favor of “gaikokuijn” even as it tries to mint a new epithet.  And it’s trying to get at least some voice of the “foreign community” involved (even if it’s Benjamin Fulford, who can find a conspiracy in a cup of coffee).  It’s an improvement of sorts.

That said, it 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.  I’m just glad it’s not worse.  Perhaps after all these years I’m getting jaded.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

ENDS

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

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 David McNeill article on what could turn out to be a landmark case, 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.  Japan Probe also had a section on this dealing with her recent press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (which I saw yesterday morning on cable TV news, so the case is receiving a lot more attention than usual).  I admire her going public and making her case.  Brave girl, our Noriko.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

THE ZEIT GIST

A young life in legal limbo
Hearing to decide fate of Filipino girl, 13, born in Japan

By DAVID McNEILL

Special to The Japan Times, Tuesday February 10, 2009

For years, Arlan and Sarah Calderon fretted over when to tell their daughter, Noriko, that she was different.

News photo
Uncertain future: An immigration hearing on Feb. 13 is likely to decide whether Noriko Calderon, who speaks only Japanese, will be sent back with her parents to the Philippines, a country she has never visited. DAVID MCNEILL

Dark-haired and olive-skinned, she looked indistinguishable from the children she walked to school with every day in Warabi, an everyman suburb of Saitama Prefecture. But unknown to her, Noriko’s parents were illegal Filipino immigrants.

In July 2006, the then 11-year-old discovered the family’s secret in the worst possible way when her mother was arrested for overstaying her visa.

In stunned silence, she listened as her parents told her the family would be sent back to the Philippines, a country she had never visited. “I know nothing about life there,” explains Noriko in Japanese, the only language she speaks.

Today, as the family fights to stay in Japan, Arlan regrets not coming clean. “We always intended to tell her but thought that if we did it when she was too young she wouldn’t understand. We just couldn’t find the right timing.”

Sarah had come to Japan on a short-term visa in 1992; her future husband joined her a year later. Like thousands of other immigrants who arrived during or just after the bubble years, they found that the country turned a blind eye to their illegal status.

“It wasn’t that difficult to live when I came here first,” says Arlan, a construction worker. “Employees didn’t ask about visas.”

But he says everything began to change about five years ago.

In 2003, a joint statement by the Tokyo government, the Justice Ministry, Tokyo immigration authorities and the city police warned of the “growing problem” of illegal immigrants.

“Many illegal residents are engaged in illegal employment. Furthermore, not a small number of them are engaged in crime to get easy money,” it said. “For national security, the problem of these illegal residents requires immediate attention.”

Known as the Kyodo Sengen, the statement signaled a nationwide crackdown on an estimated 250,000 visa over-stayers. Life immediately became tougher for the Calderons, says family lawyer Shogo Watanabe, who believes the crackdown was unfair.

“To some degree, the authorities closed their eyes to these people in the 1990s. Japan needed them to do the hard, dirty jobs others wouldn’t. Like many foreign families, they have lived peacefully and productively here for years. They fell victim to a change in policy. I find that hard to accept.”

The impact of the statement was immediate: Employers were told to scrutinize visas more carefully, police numbers were beefed up around areas of heavy foreign residence, and thousands of overstayers were brought to Narita airport. Sarah Calderon was caught on a police check near Warabi Station.

Her arrest started a two-year battle that is now stalled in legal limbo. Only allowed to stay in Japan on temporary permission from the Justice Ministry, the family faces an impossible choice: return together to the Philippines or leave Noriko behind.

“It is unlikely that the parents will be given residency status, but there is some sympathy for their daughter’s situation,” said a ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity. A decision on the family’s fate is expected at their next immigration hearing on Feb. 13.

The case shares some similarities with the plight of Myanmar refugee Khin Maung Latt and his Filipino wife, Maria Hope Jamili, who fought for years for the right to stay in Japan with their two children, who were born in the country. The family eventually won, says lawyer Watanabe, who also defended them.

“The key factor there was that the deportation order would have split that family apart because they were from different countries. In this case, the Calderons are both from the Philippines. The fact is, however, that sending Noriko back will inflict a lot of psychological damage. For a start, she would have to return to grade school.”

Winning public sympathy for the Calderons has been more difficult, he says. In December, Fuji TV carried a largely hostile report that shocked the family into a monthlong media boycott. “One of the questions they asked was whether I still take a bath with Noriko,” recalls Arlan. “What does that have to do with anything?”

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.

Japan is not the only country where policy on immigrants has taken a harsh turn. Ireland, which has experienced a wave of immigration from Eastern Europe and parts of Africa since the early 1990s, ended automatic citizenship for babies born to foreign parents in 2004. The country has since tried to deport several foreign families.

The U.K. deported over 60,000 illegal immigrants in 2007, or one every eight minutes, according to the country’s Home Office. Britain has also tried to deport several U.K.-born children, including Patrick Wandia Njuguna, whose mother fled Kenya. She was refused political asylum.

What makes Japan unusual, say observers, is its still-contradictory approach to foreign workers. On the one hand, there have been signs of a shift toward a policy the government of the world’s second largest economy has so far avoided: mass immigration.

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?’ “

In the absence of a clear line from the government, he says, the courts interpret the law rigidly, ignoring treaties on the rights of children and the impact of deportation on children like Noriko. Occasional breaks with precedent are rare, though he cites the case of an Iranian woman allowed to stay in Japan last year with her family so she could attend college.

Now 13, Noriko says she “cannot imagine” life in the Philippines. Despite her foreign-sounding name, her friends in Saitama had no idea about her background until they saw her case aired on TV, she recalls. “I was worried but they said, ‘Why didn’t you tell us sooner, we would have helped you.’

“Support like that makes me feel stronger.”

David McNeill writes for the London Independent, The Irish Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education, and is a coordinator of Japan Focus. Send comments on this issue and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009
ENDS

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

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.  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.  Twits.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

‘Monga’ in our midst

Japan Today, February 11, 2009.  By Magda Lupescu.  Courtesy of SH, MS, and many others.

http://www.japantoday.com/category/commentary/view/monga-in-our-midst

“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).

The article’s opening page is topped with a dorsal view of the British tourist who went skinny dipping in the Imperial Palace moat last October, just seconds prior to his arrest. How ironic, the magazine notes, that the same month the gentleman took his swim the Japanese government established a new Tourism Agency under the umbrella of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

The first half of Spa’s article is devoted to mutterings over the misadventures of foreign tourists, whose irritating peccadilloes range from utilizing their flashes (which is prohibited) at Tsukiji’s early morning fish auctions to haggling tenaciously over the prices of optional extras in an erotic massage parlor.

One “maid” employed by a shop at Akihabara relates her own tale of woe: While distributing flyers on the street she was pursued by a group of five or six cackling black males, exclaiming “Meido-san! Meido-san!” as they recorded her image with video cameras.

“I was terrified, fled for my life,” she shudders.

A kaiten-zushi shop owner, meanwhile, is convinced the plastic bottles of water from which South Korean patrons sipped while seated at his counter really contained shochu (grain spirits) that they had “ripped off” from somewhere.

An accompanying sidebar titled “What is the source of the increase in foreigners who wander off the beaten track?” complains that foreign-language guidebooks fail to instill proper decorum and frequently guide readers to places that are irrelevant, while downplaying spots that foreign visitors are likely to enjoy—such as the Mitsuo Aida Museum in Yurakucho and Museum of Swords (Token Hakubutsukan) in Yoyogi, Shibuya Ward. (Neither museums’ websites however, provide maps in English and it appears the latter’s has not been updated for about one year.)

The same sidebar also complains bitterly that in its introduction to Yanaka Cemetery in Nippori, the Michelin guide mentions Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the last Tokugawa Shogun, in the same breath with Oden Takahashi, a notorious murderess who was the last woman to be executed by decapitation — while completely overlooking other famous individuals interred therein.

The second half of the article swivels its guns toward foreigners living in Japan, featuring such “monga” as a satyric Turk who reveled in enticing local women to participate in his Roppongi orgies, and Filipinas who have overstayed their entertainer’s visas by a decade or longer.

Vernacular articles focusing on misbehavior by foreigners have regularly appeared in Sapio, a bimonthly magazine with a strong nationalistic slant published by Shogakukan. But Spa!, until fairly recently at least, has been largely indifferent to foreigners here, preferring to cover behavior by the natives. As such, its entry into the fray came as something of a surprise.

Spa!, known as Shukan Sankei until 1989, is published by Fusosha, a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji TV. The Audit Bureau of Circulation put its weekly sales at 113,397 copies in the first half of 2008.

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

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.  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.  

Good. First Canada’s media and government,then America’s ABC News, then the UK’s Grauniad, and most recently 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 international-reach media outlets such as The Economist to devote an entire story to it.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

MONEY IN MISERY

The Economist.com February 5, 2008

Except follows.  Full article at http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13057235

…According to Jeremy Morley, an international divorce lawyer based in New York, hiding assets from a spouse is also much easier in some countries than in others. California, at one extreme, requires complete disclosure of assets. At the other extreme, Austria, Japan and many other countries require very little disclosure. A California court recently ordered a husband to pay $390,000 in costs and penalties to his wife because he did not disclose some significant financial information. In another jurisdiction, the assets could have stayed hidden.

Who gets the children?

Cash and kids may pull in different directions. Countries that are “man-friendly” (shorthand for favouring the richer, usually male, partner) when it comes to money may be “mum-friendly” when it comes to custody. Japan, for example, is quick and cheap for a rich man—unless he wants to keep seeing his children. English courts are ferocious in dividing up assets, even when they have been cunningly squirrelled away offshore. But compared with other jurisdictions, they are keen to keep both divorced parents in touch with the children.

The children’s fate, even more than family finances, can be the source of the hottest legal tussles. The American State Department unit dealing with child abduction has seen its caseload swell from an average in recent years of 1,100 open cases to 1,500 now. In Britain, the figures rose from 157 in 2006 to 183 in 2007, according to Nigel Lowe of Cardiff Law School.

Of the cases reported worldwide, mothers are the main abductors when a marriage breaks down. They are cited in 68% of cases. Ann Thomas, a partner with the International Family Law Group, a London law firm, says child abduction has increased “dramatically” in the past three years or so. A big reason is freedom of movement within the European Union, which has enabled millions of people from the new member states to live and work legally in the richer part of the continent. That inevitably leads to a boom in binational relationships, and in turn more children of mixed marriages. Ms Thomas notes that when a relationship between a foreign mother and an English father breaks down, the mother often assumes that she can automatically return to her homeland without the father’s permission. That may be a costly legal mistake.

Most advanced industrialised countries, plus most of Latin America and a sprinkling of others, are signatories to the 1980 Hague Convention, a treaty which requires countries to send abducted children back to the jurisdiction where they have been living previously. That is fine in theory: it means that legal battles have to be fought first, before a child is moved. It is a great deal better than a fait accompli which leaves one parent in possession, while the other is trying to fight a lengthy and expensive legal battle in a faraway country.

But in practice things are very different. Views on the desirability of children being brought up by “foreigners” vary hugely by country; so do traditions about the relative roles of fathers and mothers in bringing up their children after divorce. In most Muslim countries, for example, the assumption is that children over seven will be brought up by the father, not the mother, though that is trumped by a preference for a local Muslim parent. So the chances of a foreign mother recovering abducted children from a Muslim father are slim. Apart from secular Turkey and Bosnia, no Muslim countries have signed the Hague Convention, though a handful have struck bilateral deals, such as Pakistan with Britain, and Egypt and Lebanon with America.

Japan has not signed it 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.

Rest of the article at http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13057235

ENDS

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

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. Every day, as I’ve said, is an adventure in Japan. Here’s today’s:

FUN AND GAMES AT HOKUYO BANK

Last week, I got a call from Hokuyo Bank (Hokkaido’s largest, the successor to Takugin and recent swallower of Sapporo Bank) telling me that some money had arrived by wire transfer from overseas. It was sent to my corporate account, but had my name listed as individual beneficiary (not the corporation). So couldn’t I please come down to the branch and fill out a piece of paper and clarify the beneficiary?

Hokay, sure. Whatever. I had been waiting for that payment for an academic lecture in California for six months, and JPY/USD exchange rates since August were eating up dollar-denominated compensation (to the tune of about 20%!).

“Oh, and one more thing,” Hokuyo asked, “What’s this money for?”

“Sorry, but none of your business.”

“Won’t you please tell us, for our reference?” (sankou no tame)

“No. For the amount I have received [USD 500], you are under no obligation to ask me under money laundering laws. And I am under no obligation to tell. Kindly respect my privacy.”

THE COLUMBOES AT HOKUYO

I went down this morning and filled out the paperwork. When the question came up again about what this money is for, I directed her to something I had just downloaded and printed up from Wikipedia regarding money laundering and international money transfers in Japan:

———————————-

本人確認が必要な取引

以下は、本人確認が必要となる取引の一部である。
▪ 金融機関と新規取引を開始する時(口座開設、信託取引締結、保険契約締結等)
▪ 200万円を超える金銭の送金・振込
▪ 10万円を超える現金の送金・振込(預金口座にある預金の送金・振込については前項のとおり)

尚、本人による多額の預金の払い戻しに際しては本人確認が義務づけられていない。

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/本人確認法

(and yes, I’m fine with citing Wikipedia for noncontroversial issues)

———————————-

So since 500 bucks (or now about 45000 yen, sob!) is less than a fortieth of the 2 million yen threshold for direct transfers, or less than half the 100,000 yen for cash transfers, there was no reason to ask me further questions.

The madoguchi (and her boss, Tokoro-san) maintained that it was policy at Hokuyo to check all monies coming in from overseas. “All, even if they’re only one yen?” Well, not that low. “So where’s the threshold for checking? I aver it’s these figures above.” They just wanted me to cooperate, but I wanted a reason why I had tripped some sort of tripwire.

“It’s not because the accountholder has a foreign-looking name, now, is it?”

Now, before you think I’m just flying off the handle as usual, consider that I have had other accounts (one particularly for contributions to the Otaru Onsens Lawsuit way back when) in places like Hokkaido Bank. And I have gotten calls like this for tiny amounts (even 5000 yen) asking what it’s for. Even when no money has come in, I’ve gotten at least one letter asking (since the beneficiary is “otarusoshouenjokai arudou debito daihyou”) what the very account is for. I’ve ignored all queries. So what seems to keep tripping the wire is a foreign-sounding name. And even for simple small-amount cash conversions of USD into JPY, people like Permanent Resident Olaf Karthaus have had their passport demanded by Hokkaido Bank for photocopying in the name of anti-money-laundering. He got a formal apology from them for acting outside the law.

Back to Hokuyo. The standard denial shower came.  “We’re not discriminating.”

“Okay, so what else is it? What standards are you using to decide to check my transfer if it’s not for money laundering? Your discretion?”

I wasn’t getting any clarification, so I dropped by Hokuyo HQ later on today and talked to a Ms Kobayashi, Kachou in the Houjinbu Gaikoku Kawase-ka, who brought out the letter of the law thusly:

——————————————-

外国為替及び外国貿易法(銀行等の確認義務等)
第十七条  銀行等は、その顧客の支払等が、次の各号に掲げる支払等のいずれにも該当しないこと、又は次の各号に掲げる支払等に該当すると認められる場合には当該各号に定める要件を備えていることを確認した後でなければ、当該顧客と当該支払等に係る為替取引を行つてはならない。
一  第十六条第一項から第三項までの規定により許可を受ける義務が課された支払等 当該許可を受けていること。
二  第二十一条第一項又は第二項の規定により許可を受ける義務が課された第二十条に規定する資本取引に係る支払等 当該許可を受けていること。
三  その他この法律又はこの法律に基づく命令の規定により許可若しくは承認を受け、又は届出をする義務が課された取引又は行為のうち政令で定めるものに係る支払等 当該許可若しくは承認を受け、又は当該届出後の所要の手続を完了していること。

http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S24/S24HO228.html

——————————————-

Later joining us was a Mr Ishiguro, Fukubuchou of the Houjinbu, Mr Takahashi, Kachou of the Kokusaika, and Mr Nakanishi, Chousayaku of the Kokusaika. After a lot of Q&A, their case was essentially this:

1) Zaimushou does not have a minimum transfer amount to be checked when it comes to foreign monies coming in, or Japanese monies going out. As you can see in the above law, there are no threshold amounts written either in the clauses as stated, or in the clauses being referred to within.

2) Since we cannot check every transfer, it is up to the bank’s discretion whether or not to check in certain circumstances.

3) If you were receiving money from or sending money to terroristic places in the world, we would of course check about its purpose.

4) However, receiving money from the University of California, Berkeley doesn’t apply here. By the transfer details it’s obvious you were receiving remuneration for a lecture, so it was unnecessary for your branch of Hokuyo to have asked you further questions about purpose.

5) We apologize for the inconvenience.

Er, thanks. My questions, which went basically unrequited, were these:

1) Why are foreign transfers in or out treated as potentially criminally suspicious? There are plenty of Yakuza transferring domestically too, no? Is this not discriminatory?

2) Individually, why did you ask me? Because I’m a gaijin account holder? I still haven’t gotten any other plausible reason for the tripwire. It’s not amount. It’s not origin. So why?

3) You admit that the questions about purpose were unnecessary. Thanks. Now please ask Zaimushou if there is a threshold transfer amount to activate these questions. If so, tell me in writing later what that amount is. If not, tell me in writing later what Hokuyo’s discretionary thresholds are.

4) Are these questions optional?  What happens if I decide not to answer?

5) Thanks for the apology. Now put it in writing with what sort of keihatsu you will carry out at Hokuyo zentai to make sure you don’t put your NJ account holders through any more rigmarole, and make them feel their accounts and transfers are suspicious. Putting things in writing tends to make people take requests and apologies more seriously. It’s more likely to result in policy change if there’s a paper trail.

To that, Mr Takahashi said he would offer a verbal apology, but nothing in writing.  Never mind what Hokkaido Bank did for Olaf.  And there was no particular promise from them either to make Zaimushou’s threshold information (which should be public info) or Hokuyo’s discretionary guidelines, if any, clear to me in future.

I said I was disappointed. “I’m a valued customer. I’ve had a long relationship with you. My house mortgage is with you. I opened a corporate account with you because I was fed up with Hokkaido Bank treating me and my accounts as suspicious. Now you are doing the same thing.”

They offered the same apologies, and that was where we let the discussion drop. They said that they would coach my branch to leave me alone next time I get an international transfer. Sure, that fixes the problem.

Seems like a small issue, but to me it’s a tip of the iceberg thing. What’s transpired here is that all foreign money transfers, at least in Hokkaido’s biggest banks, are officially to be treated with suspicion. Regardless of domestic, or even international, standards of money laundering (thresholds of 15,000 dollars in the US, 15,000 GBP or Euros in the UK, for example).  It’s a damned nuisance.

Why? Because Zaimushou leaves it vague enough for Hokuyo to abuse, and because Hokuyo is under no obligation to disclose their rules to their customers even upon request. Thanks a heap.  But that’s how power flows when you don’t have enough information or a workable FOIA to keep even your accountants accountable.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Japanese stewardesses sue Turkish Airlines for discrim employment conditions

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 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.  I even saw the headline “discrimination by nationality”.  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. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

(Text of article below follows, quickly translated by Arudou Debito)

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

Dispatch stewardesses sue Turkish Airlines, demand acknowledgment of their status within the company

Sankei Shinbun January 29, 2009

「直接雇用してもらいたい」。会見で訴えるトルコ航空ユニオンの船田明子さん(右)らメンバー=29日、厚労省

PHOTO CAPTION:  “We want to be directly employed.”  So charged Funada Akiko (R), member of the Turkish Airlines Union at a press conference at the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare.

On January 29, 13 Japanese women contract workers under dispatch company “TEI” (Tokyo), who were working as flight attendants for Turkish Airlines, filed suit at Tokyo District Court.  “We were effectively working under the same conditions as if we were directly employed by the airline,” they said, and demanded recognition of this status in their contracts from both companies.

The litigants were members of the “Turkish Airlines Union”, led by Funada Akiko (34).

According to the lawsuit filed, the women were dispatched from TEI. Nevertheless, they were treated as if they were workers under a contract with Turkish Airlines.  They were given essential training as flight attendants from Turkish Airlines, and had employment time slots as per Turkish Airlines flight plans.   Each fulfilled their duties as a Japanese flight attendant, supervised by the airline.

At the press conference after filing suit, Ms Funada claimed that TEI would issue a notice dated February 28 that Japanese flight attendant contracts would be terminated.  “The contract period would last until June.  We are furious at how one-sided this termination of contract was.  We want to be employed directly as Japanese flight attendants.”  

She continued, “There was an invisible division between us and the Turkish flight attendants, in terms of differential treatment and salary.  We want to highlight this as a social problem, so that there won’t be any more second- and third-class treatment of staff in the airline industry.”

In September 2008, the 13 Japanese flight attendants formed a union of supporters.  They filed for group negotiations with Turkish Airlines to demand direct employment.  However, the airlines still apparently refuses to meet.

A 33-year-old woman who attended the press conference spoke strongly, “If there are no Japanese flight attendants in the airplane, what happens if there’s an emergency?  How will Japanese passengers be attended to?”

The Japan branch of Turkish Airlines said in a statement, “We haven’t seen the legal brief yet, so we cannot comment at this time.”  TEI:  “We haven’t received the brief, so we will reserve official comments for now.” ENDS

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

派遣乗務員、地位確認求め提訴 トルコ航空など相手取り

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/trial/090129/trl0901292005011-n1.htm

2009.1.29 20:01

「直接雇用してもらいたい」。会見で訴えるトルコ航空ユニオンの船田明子さん(右)らメンバー=29日、厚労省「直接雇用してもらいたい」。会見で訴えるトルコ航空ユニオンの船田明子さん(右)らメンバー=29日、厚労省

 派遣・請負会社「TEI」(東京)の契約社員で、派遣先のトルコ航空の客室乗務員として働く日本人女性13人は29日、「実質的には航空会社から直接雇用の状態で働いていた」などとして、2社に対し雇用契約上の地位確認などを求め、東京地裁に提訴した。

 提訴したのは、「トルコ航空ユニオン」委員長の船田明子さん(34)ら。

 訴状などによると、女性はTEIから派遣されているにもかかわらず、トルコ航空が設けた契約に基づいて労務管理が行われていた。トルコ航空によって乗務に必要な教育訓練も実施され、飛行機の割り振りといった勤務時間も調整して決定。トルコ航空の指揮監督下で、日本人乗務員は各業務をこなしてきたとしている。

 提訴後の会見で、船田さんは、TEIから、契約する日本人客室乗務員全員に、2月28日付での解約予告通知書が届いたことを明らかにした上で、「契約期間は6月まであった。一方的な契約解除には憤りを感じる。日本人客室乗務員を直接雇用してもらいたい」と主張。「トルコ人の客室乗務員と、(給与面など待遇に差があるといった)目に見えない分断線があった。第2、第3の人員整理が航空業界で行われないよう、社会問題化してもらいたい」と訴えた。

 昨年9月、日本人客室乗員員の有志13人がユニオンを結成。トルコ航空に直接雇用などを求める団体交渉を申し入れていた。しかし、会社側は拒否し続けているという。

 会見に出席した別の女性(33)は、「機内から日本人の客室乗務員がいなくなれば、緊急事態の発生時に日本人の客に不安を与えかねない。客室の安全とサービスが落ちかねない」と語気を強めた。

 トルコ航空日本支社は、「訴状も見ておらず、コメントできない」とし、TEIは「訴状が届いておらず、正式なコメントは控えたい」と話している。

ENDS  More at:

http://news.google.co.jp/news?hl=ja&tab=wn&ned=jp&nolr=1&q=トルコ航空&btnG=検索

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEB 8, 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
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 8, 2009

Table of Contents:
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
2-CHANNEL AND DEALING WITH INTERNET BULLIES
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

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

KARMA BITES BACK
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 ) Debito.org Poll on whether “discrimination is a right for Japanese people”
…surprising is that 20% effectively say yes.

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

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

2-CHANNEL AND DEALING WITH INTERNET BULLIES
1) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Feb 3, 2009: “2channel the bullies’ forum”

This column is only 700 words long, so I enclose it in full. It feeds into the discussion immediately following. Comments to http://www.debito.org/?p=2240

================================
JUST BE CAUSE
2channel: the bullies’ forum

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090203ad.html
By ARUDOU DEBITO
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009

Bullying in Japan is a big problem. The victims have limited recourse. Too often they are told to suck it up and self-reflect. Or if they fight back, they get criticized for lashing out. It’s a destructive dynamic, causing much misery and many a suicide.

The bullies are empowered by an odd phenomenon: In Japan, the right to know your accuser is not a given. When kids get criticized by the anonymous rumor mill, authorities make insufficient efforts to disclose who said what. The blindfolded bullied become powerless: There are lots of them and one of you, and unless you put names to critics they escalate with impunity.

Internet bulletin board (BBS) 2channel, the world’s largest, is the ultimate example of this dynamic. Although the BBS is very useful for public discussions, its debate firestorms also target and hurt individuals. This flurry of bullies is guaranteed anonymity through undisclosed Internet Protocol addresses, meaning they avoid the scrutiny they mete out to others.

Why absolute anonymity? 2channel’s founder and coordinator, Hiroyuki Nishimura, believes it liberates debate and provides true freedom of speech. People speak without reservation because nobody knows who they are.

Quite. But freedom of speech is not absolute. It does not grant freedom to lie or deceive (as in fraud), nor to engage in malicious behavior designed to hinder calm and free discourse. The classic example is the lack of freedom to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater. But libel and slander, where people willfully lie to assassinate characters and destroy lives, is also beyond the pale.

Japan does have checks against libel — lawsuits. Dozens of civil court cases have been brought against 2channel. When a problematic post appears, victims contact the BBS coordinator and request its removal. Alas, many get ignored. Then, when taken to court, Nishimura ignores summons to appear. Finally, even after losing dozens of times in court, Nishimura refuses to pay out. Years later, adjudged libelous posts (some about your correspondent) are still online and proliferating.

How is this possible? The Internet is a new media, and the judiciary hasn’t caught up. If a newspaper or TV station publicizes erroneous information, they too can be sued. But the old media are more accountable. They have to register their corporation and get a license, so their wherewithal’s whereabouts is public. If they lose and don’t pay, the court will file a lien on their assets and withdraw the award for the plaintiffs.

However, in cyberspace people can start a “media outlet” without incorporation or licensing, meaning their assets remain invisible. Nishimura owes millions of dollars in court penalties, but unless he divulges his personal bank accounts, his wages can’t be seized.

The dynamic becomes watertight thanks to a weakness in Japan’s judiciary: In this case, one cannot convert a civil suit into a criminal case through “contempt of court.” No cops will arrest him for being on the lam. Plaintiffs must hire their own private detectives to dig up Nishimura’s assets. No checks, no balances, and the bully society remains above the law.

The abuses continue. Last month, cops decided to arrest a 2channeler who issued a death threat against sumo wrestler Asashoryu. About time: Hate-posters have long vilified ethnic minorities, threatened individuals, and waged cyberwars to deny others the freedom of speech they apparently so cherish.

Meanwhile, Nishimura keeps on wriggling. Last month he announced 2channel’s sale to a Singaporean firm, making his assets even more unaccountable.

Some salute 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.

Unless contempt of court procedures are tightened up to reflect the realities of new media, I believe Nishimura will be remembered historically as the irresponsible kid who spoiled the Internet for the rest of us.

—————————–
Debito Arudou is coauthor of the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants.”
More on his 2006 libel lawsuit victory at www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html.
Send comments to community@japantimes.co.jp

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009
================================

ENDS

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

2) Japan Today & Yomiuri: Criminal charges against Internet bullies

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, 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2256

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2266

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THE RECESSION BITES
4) JASSO eliminating exchange student funding on medical expenses, meaning sicker ryuugakusei

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, … 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.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=2264

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5) Japan Times/Kyodo: Decrease in NJ “Trainees”

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2235

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KARMA BITES BACK
6) Sumo wrestler Wakakirin expelled for smoking pot: Why’d it take so long?

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 reportedly 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2231

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2217

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…and finally…

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

Last week I put up a poll based upon the headline of Japan Times columnist Gregory Clark, who argued precisely the above in his January 15 column.

Good news is that the overwhelming majority chose the option that indicated that it isn’t.

Granted, I listed essentially every argument that I’ve ever heard justifying discrimination in Japan, including:

=======================================
Of course! Racism is but one way to keep a society orderly. (5.0%, 10 Votes)
Hey, Gaijin are guests in Japan, with no right to complain about how they’re treated. (4.0%, 7 Votes)
Japan is a unique culture, and who are we to force our Western ideas of “individual rights” on it? (3.0%, 5 Votes)
Japanese have the right to choose who they want to associate with and have as customers. (5.0%, 9 Votes)
We can’t help but discriminate: It’s no different than “differentiate”, which we do daily. (3.0%, 5 Votes)

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

There are of course counterarguing options available, and as I said they dominate:

=======================================
Racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan, so shikata ga nai. (3.0%, 6 Votes)
I see both sides, so it’s case by case. (6.0%, 11 Votes)
If there is a “right” to have it, there is an equal and opposing “right” to fight it. (9.0%, 18 Votes)
Is this a trick question? Discrimination is a “right” for nobody. See UN treaties Japan has signed. (69.0%, 133 Votes)
I’m not sure what to say. It’s a complicated issue. (4.0%, 7 Votes)
None of the above. (3.0%, 5 Votes)

=======================================
(total votes as of this writing: 193)

But as you can see by poll numbers as of this afternoon, the ones supporting discrimination are still a substantial chunk: a full fifth.

Maybe people are just following, as the NYT article notes above, the impulses of the “fluid morality” of Internet anonymity. Or maybe people never bought into the liberal-arts historical-lesson training found in most multicultural, English-literate societies, that says that discrimination is just not a workable system.

But I wanted to get an inkling of just how deep the problem goes, when you combine amoralism with cultural relativity; it seems a cocktail for people to say that people needn’t, even shouldn’t, be nice to one another, and that some people deserve an inferior place in a society.

The poll is still open. Vote on it if you wish from any page of the Debito.org Blog.

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

As always, thanks for reading.
Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
Sapporo, Japan
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 8, 2009 ENDS

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

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. 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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

====================================
Hi Debito.  Checking out my 留学生掲示板 today I had the shock to find that the JASSO assistance to foreign students medical expenses program, which had been cut from 90% to about 30% last year, is now being cut to ZERO as of this April.

Background in English: Ryugakusei are supposed to join National Health Insurance and pay 30% of the medical costs just like everyone else. Of course, this is quite hard, especially for students from less-wealthy nations, so JASSO had been reimbursing 80% or so of that 30%, leaving the ryugakusei to pay a more tolerable 6% of medical costs in the end. Last year that 80% of the 30% became about 30% of the 30%, more than tripling medical costs for ryugakusei. For my trips to the dentist [3000 yen out of pocket], it wasn’t really even worth the trouble to apply for the aid, as the bank transfer fee of 600 yen would net me 400 yen 3 months down the road for spending all the time doing the paperwork.

As of April, that won’t even be a factor. The support 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.

This development is especially troubling regarding the claimed plan to greatly increase the number of ryugakusei by the central government. Apparently they only want ryugakusei who are healthy and wealthy enough to live comfortably in Japan, the most expensive country in the world.

I also thought that possibly this aid wasn’t entirely altruistic, as they government would rather have students reporting their medical problems to a doctor than hiding such things as TB, Chicken Flu and the like because they can’t afford a visit to a clinic. [This would be the angle to pursue to convince the powers-that-be to reinstate this system, the concrete result of cutting the aid might be money saved on paper, but a sicker foreign student population as a danger to Japanese citizens, yielding possibly more medical expenditures in the end. These students are the ones cooking your gyoza at the izakaya, and now they’re more likely to be sick.]

The Japanese source page, found in the display department, in the unlit basement, in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of the leopard” [pardon the Douglas Adams reference]

http://www.jasso.go.jp/scholarship/iryouhi.html

Probably English versions on individual university websites, as JASSO doesn’t seem to be prominently announcing this themselves. YYZ

ADDENDUM AFTER GRANTING PERMISSION TO BLOG THIS ESSAY:

Hi Debito.  Glad I could contribute.

Thoughts keep going through my head after the initial shock.

I always wondered why this program (like so many in Japan) was never “means-tested” in some concrete way (just as we would expect some income limit on the 12,000 yen Aso handout). A student from Saudi Arabia on a full Monbusho scholarship (full tuition plus 170,000yen a month) was just as eligible for the JASSO aid as someone from Vietnam who scrubs until 2AM 5 nights a week for 750 yen and lives in a slum.

As an aside, the Monbusho scholarship (among others) stipend has been going down for the last 2 years or so. [I can’t even apply because I’m over 35, but age discrimination is another issue.] But it seems the government is not putting its money where its mouth is regarding announced intentions to rescue Japanese universities by allowing a flood of ryugakusei. Although if their intention is flood the universities only with wealthy ryugakusei, perhaps these actions are right on target, but unrealistic. But that’s Japanese policy for you.

Keep up the good fight. YYZ
ENDS

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

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 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.  Article courtesy of  Norik.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

PS:  After I indicated recently that malicious comments will not be approved on Debito.org, they have completely dried up.  It works.  All trolls crave is an audience and a reaction.  Don’t give them one.

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

New York Times August 3, 2008

The Trolls Among Us

Courtesy of Norik.

One afternoon in the spring of 2006, for reasons unknown to those who knew him, Mitchell Henderson, a seventh grader from Rochester, Minn., took a .22-caliber rifle down from a shelf in his parents’ bedroom closet and shot himself in the head. The next morning, Mitchell’s school assembled in the gym to begin mourning. His classmates created a virtual memorial on MySpace and garlanded it with remembrances. One wrote that Mitchell was “an hero to take that shot, to leave us all behind. God do we wish we could take it back. . . . ” Someone e-mailed a clipping of Mitchell’s newspaper obituary to MyDeathSpace.com, a Web site that links to the MySpace pages of the dead. From MyDeathSpace, Mitchell’s page came to the attention of an Internet message board known as /b/ and the “trolls,” as they have come to be called, who dwell there.

/b/ is the designated “random” board of 4chan.org, a group of message boards that draws more than 200 million page views a month. A post consists of an image and a few lines of text. Almost everyone posts as “anonymous.” In effect, this makes /b/ a panopticon in reverse — nobody can see anybody, and everybody can claim to speak from the center. The anonymous denizens of 4chan’s other boards — devoted to travel, fitness and several genres of pornography — refer to the /b/-dwellers as “/b/tards.”

Measured in terms of depravity, insularity and traffic-driven turnover, the culture of /b/ has little precedent. /b/ reads like the inside of a high-school bathroom stall, or an obscene telephone party line, or a blog with no posts and all comments filled with slang that you are too old to understand.

Something about Mitchell Henderson struck the denizens of /b/ as funny. They were especially amused by a reference on his MySpace page to a lostiPod. Mitchell Henderson, /b/ decided, had killed himself over a lost iPod. The “an hero” meme was born. Within hours, the anonymous multitudes were wrapping the tragedy of Mitchell’s death in absurdity.

Someone hacked Henderson’s MySpace page and gave him the face of a zombie. Someone placed an iPod on Henderson’s grave, took a picture and posted it to /b/. Henderson’s face was appended to dancing iPods, spinning iPods, hardcore porn scenes. A dramatic re-enactment of Henderson’s demise appeared on YouTube, complete with shattered iPod. The phone began ringing at Mitchell’s parents’ home. “It sounded like kids,” remembers Mitchell’s father, Mark Henderson, a 44-year-old I.T. executive. “They’d say, ‘Hi, this is Mitchell, I’m at the cemetery.’ ‘Hi, I’ve got Mitchell’s iPod.’ ‘Hi, I’m Mitchell’s ghost, the front door is locked. Can you come down and let me in?’ ” He sighed. “It really got to my wife.” The calls continued for a year and a half.

In the late 1980s, Internet users adopted the word “troll” to denote someone who intentionally disrupts online communities. Early trolling was relatively innocuous, taking place inside of small, single-topic Usenet groups. The trolls employed what the M.I.T. professor Judith Donath calls a “pseudo-naïve” tactic, asking stupid questions and seeing who would rise to the bait. The game was to find out who would see through this stereotypical newbie behavior, and who would fall for it. As one guide to trolldom puts it, “If you don’t fall for the joke, you get to be in on it.”

Today the Internet is much more than esoteric discussion forums. It is a mass medium for defining who we are to ourselves and to others. Teenagers groom their MySpace profiles as intensely as their hair; escapists clock 50-hour weeks in virtual worlds, accumulating gold for their online avatars. Anyone seeking work or love can expect to be Googled. As our emotional investment in the Internet has grown, the stakes for trolling — for provoking strangers online — have risen. Trolling has evolved from ironic solo skit to vicious group hunt.

“Lulz” is how trolls keep score. A corruption of “LOL” or “laugh out loud,” “lulz” means the joy of disrupting another’s emotional equilibrium. “Lulz is watching someone lose their mind at their computer 2,000 miles away while you chat with friends and laugh,” said one ex-troll who, like many people I contacted, refused to disclose his legal identity.

Another troll explained the lulz as a quasi-thermodynamic exchange between the sensitive and the cruel: “You look for someone who is full of it, a real blowhard. Then you exploit their insecurities to get an insane amount of drama, laughs and lulz. Rules would be simple: 1. Do whatever it takes to get lulz. 2. Make sure the lulz is widely distributed. This will allow for more lulz to be made. 3. The game is never over until all the lulz have been had.”

/b/ is not all bad. 4chan has tried (with limited success) to police itself, using moderators to purge child porn and eliminate calls to disrupt other sites. Among /b/’s more interesting spawn is Anonymous, a group of masked pranksters who organized protests at Church of Scientology branches around the world.

But the logic of lulz extends far beyond /b/ to the anonymous message boards that seem to be springing up everywhere. Two female Yale Law School students have filed a suit against pseudonymous users who posted violent fantasies about them on AutoAdmit, a college-admissions message board. In China, anonymous nationalists are posting death threats against pro-Tibet activists, along with their names and home addresses. Technology, apparently, does more than harness the wisdom of the crowd. It can intensify its hatred as well.

(snip)

Why inflict anguish on a helpless stranger? It’s tempting to blame technology, which increases the range of our communications while dehumanizing the recipients. Cases like An Hero and Megan Meier presumably wouldn’t happen if the perpetrators had to deliver their messages in person. But while technology reduces the social barriers that keep us from bedeviling strangers, it does not explain the initial trolling impulse. This seems to spring from something ugly — a destructive human urge that many feel but few act upon, the ambient misanthropy that’s a frequent ingredient of art, politics and, most of all, jokes. There’s a lot of hate out there, and a lot to hate as well.

So far, despite all this discord, the Internet’s system of civil machines has proved more resilient than anyone imagined. As early as 1994, the head of the Internet Society warned that spam “will destroy the network.” The news media continually present the online world as a Wild West infested with villainous hackers, spammers and pedophiles. And yet the Internet is doing very well for a frontier town on the brink of anarchy. Its traffic is expected to quadruple by 2012. To say that trolls pose a threat to the Internet at this point is like saying that crows pose a threat to farming.

That the Internet is now capacious enough to host an entire subculture of users who enjoy undermining its founding values is yet another symptom of its phenomenal success. It may not be a bad thing that the least-mature users have built remote ghettos of anonymity where the malice is usually intramural. But how do we deal with cases like An Hero, epilepsy hacks and the possibility of real harm being inflicted on strangers?

Several state legislators have recently proposed cyberbullying measures. At the federal level, Representative Linda Sánchez, a Democrat from California, has introduced the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act, which would make it a federal crime to send any communications with intent to cause “substantial emotional distress.” In June, Lori Drew pleaded not guilty to charges that she violated federal fraud laws by creating a false identity “to torment, harass, humiliate and embarrass” another user, and by violating MySpace’s terms of service. But hardly anyone bothers to read terms of service, and millions create false identities. “While Drew’s conduct is immoral, it is a very big stretch to call it illegal,” wrote the online-privacy expert Prof. Daniel J. Solove on the blog Concurring Opinions.

Many trolling practices, like prank-calling the Hendersons and intimidating Kathy Sierra, violate existing laws against harassment and threats. The difficulty is tracking down the perpetrators. In order to prosecute, investigators must subpoena sites and Internet service providers to learn the original author’s IP address, and from there, his legal identity. Local police departments generally don’t have the means to follow this digital trail, and federal investigators have their hands full with spam, terrorism, fraud and child pornography. But even if we had the resources to aggressively prosecute trolls, would we want to? Are we ready for an Internet where law enforcement keeps watch over every vituperative blog and backbiting comments section, ready to spring at the first hint of violence? Probably not. All vigorous debates shade into trolling at the perimeter; it is next to impossible to excise the trolling without snuffing out the debate.

CONTINUES AT http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/03/magazine/03trolls-t.html?_r=3&hp&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

Japan Today & Yomiuri: Criminal charges against Internet bullies

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. 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 Smiley’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. Thanks, Smiley. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

18 people to be prosecuted over insulting messages on comedian’s blog

http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/18-people-to-be-prosecuted-over-insulting-messages-on-comedians-blog

TOKYO —Police plan to establish a criminal case against 18 men and women on charges of allegedly posting a number of defamatory messages on a comedian’s blog, police sources said Thursday.

In launching what is believed to be the first such move associated with mass attacks on a blog in Japan, the Metropolitan Police Department said the 18 people, aged from 17 to 45, posted defamatory messages suggesting that the 37-year-old comedian is the perpetrator in the 1988 murder of a high school girl in Tokyo.

Some of the messages included: “How can a murderer be a comedian?” and “Die, you murderer,” according to police.

Investigators, acting on a complaint filed by the comedian, have identified those who posted the messages and decided to establish a criminal case against them, the sources said.

Among the 18 are a 17-year-old high school girl from Sapporo, a 35-year-old man from Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, and a 45-year-old man from Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture.

The suspects allegedly defamed the comedian by posting malicious comments between January and April 2008, suggesting that the comedian was involved in the highly publicized murder case in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward in 1988, which resulted in prison sentences for four minors.

The comedian, whose name has been withheld, launched his career about 10 years ago, characterizing himself as ‘‘an ex-hoodlum from Adachi Ward,’’ which apparently attracted the messages connecting him to the brutal murder that came to light after the girl’s remains were found in a drum filled with concrete.

He temporarily closed his blog due to the flood of malignant messages but reopened it in January last year, only to draw the defamatory messages again.

Investigators believe dozens of people have posted several hundred vicious messages on the blog, the sources said.

This is probably the first criminal case to be built over intense online attacks on a particular blog, the National Police Agency said.

The latest move by police came amid an increasing number of ‘‘flaming’’ blogs, particularly blogs by celebrities, TV personalities and notable sports athletes.

In one case, a commentator’s blog was forced to close in 2006 due to a flood of slanderous messages, and a man was arrested and given a suspended prison term the following year for threatening the commentator on Japan’s largest anonymous electronic bulletin board ‘‘2channel.’’

ENDS

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

Papers sent on woman over flaming of comedian
The Yomiuri Shimbun Feb. 6, 2009

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20090206TDY02307.htm

Police on Thursday sent papers to prosecutors on a woman suspected of threatening to kill a well-known comedian in a message she posted on his blog after wrongly concluding he was involved in a girl’s murder in 1989.

According to the police, the 29-year-old woman, a temporary worker from Kawasaki, has admitted posting the message on the blog of Smiley Kikuchi, 37, who regularly appears on TV.

The Metropolitan Police Department also plans to send papers to prosecutors on 18 people suspecting of defaming Kikuchi by posting hundreds of malicious messages between January and April 2008.

The woman reportedly believed messages on the blog that claimed Kikuchi had been involved in the murder and “couldn’t forgive him.”

The woman sent a message from her computer on Dec. 26 to the comedian’s blog saying, “I’ll kill you,” police said.

Online bulletin boards and a blog set up by Kikuchi in January 2008 were flooded with messages suggesting he was involved in the murder of the high school girl in Adachi Ward, Tokyo. Her body was abandoned in a cement-filled drum.

Kikuchi restricted access to the blog’s message board in April and filed a complaint with the police. He lifted the restrictions on Dec. 24.

According to the police, the woman came to the conclusion that the comedian and late TV personality Ai Iijima were involved in the murder. The woman based her belief on information she found on Iijima’s Web site and several other sites after learning from media reports that Iijima had been found dead in her Shibuya Ward apartment on Dec. 24.

“I thought I could never forgive people who had been party to a crime like murder,” the woman reportedly told police.

The 18 people, aged between 17 and 45, allegedly made groundless accusations on the blog that the comedian is a murderer.

The case is an example of flaming, which refers to personal and/or defamatory attacks by users against others on Internet bulletin boards, chat rooms, Web pages and blogs over the target user’s attitude or remarks.
(Feb. 6, 2009)

ENDS

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

Update: One more from the Japan Times

NPA probes 19 over slander on comedian’s blog
The Japan Times: Friday, Feb. 6, 2009

By REIJI YOSHIDA Staff writer
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090206a2.html

In a rare Internet crackdown, police have turned over to prosecutors their case against a 29-year-old woman and plan to hand another 18 suspects over for abusive comments posted on the blog of a 37-year-old Japanese comedian, police sources said Thursday.

The 29-year-old Kawasaki woman allegedly posted a death threat on the blog of comedian Smiley Kikuchi, writing “I will kill you” in December, a police source said.

The other 18 include a 17-year-old girl and 45-year-old man, who allegedly posted messages last year claiming the comedian was involved in the murder of a high school girl in 1988, the source said.

The allegation is groundless and police are sending the cases to prosecutors on suspicion of defamation, the source said.

This case is likely the first crackdown on what is known in Internet parlance as a flame attack, or “enjo” in Japanese, as far as the National Policy Agency knows, an NPA official told The Japan Times.

Many bloggers, including well-known TV celebrities, have been flamed recently, and many have shut down their blogs because of the rumors or abusive language.

In Kikuchi’s case, anonymous Internet users have been accusing the comedian of participating in the murder of a high school girl who was encased in concrete and dumped.

Hundreds of messages denouncing him as a murderer have reportedly been posted on the blog and many other Web sites recently.

Kikuchi and his agent, Ohta Production Inc., initially declined comment out of fear of drawing further attacks on the Web. But Kikuchi released a comment later in the day saying the information in circulation contains factual errors.

“For about 10 years, I, Smiley Kikuchi, have been suffering from slanderous remarks from anonymous people all over the Internet,” he said.

“All (of the Web allegations) are groundless. . . . The attacks have escalated to the point where I myself feel my life is in danger,” he said in a written statement.

He also said that some media reports said a TV agency once marketed Kikuchi using the catchphrase “former delinquent boy,” but that the reports were all wrong.

“I express my deep appreciation to the police officers who conducted the investigation and pray that an incident like this will never happen again,” he said.
The Japan Times: Friday, Feb. 6, 2009

ENDS

Japan Times/Kyodo: Decrease in NJ “Trainees”

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.  With layoffs numbering these in the tens of thousands in Japanese companies, germane to Debito.org is how this is affecting NJ in Japan.  Here are some stats regarding backdoor imported labor in Japan.  (The headline of “rare” is a bit exaggerated, but indeed indicative of a trend.)

A reliable source estimated to me that 40% of all Brazilian workers will leave Japan in short order.  While not usually “Trainees” (they are “Returnees” on less-restrictive “teijuusha” visas), that’s still a hell of a way to go (that means over 100,000 people), and it may lead to the first drop in NJ in Japan in more than four decades.  No stats on that yet, but when we see them, we’ll post them.

One more thing:  I saw in the Diet debates yesterday that JCP leader Shii noted how in the ten years since 1997, profits in total for companies had significantly gone up while total wages paid out to workers had gone down (don’t have exact figures; didn’t have a pencil  handy).  So now that times have gone sour, I wonder just how many of these layoffs are a convenient means to continue to keep corporate profits stable?  The overarching need to prove a business’s health through profits (and the pressure to one-up oneself by posting record profits in the past) gives all the wrong incentives, from a labor standpoint.  But that’s speculation on my part; we’ll leave it to those who know more about the subject to comment.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

———————————————
Foreign trainees at Japan firms growing rare
Japan Times/Kyodo News

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.

The organization said an increasing number of foreign trainees have been seeking advice, saying they may be forced to return to their countries before their terms expire.

Although many foreign trainees are hired at low wages, the recent data suggest that companies, particularly small ones, are now in bad shape and aren’t even hiring these low-wage workers, officials with the organization said.

By country, the number of new trainees from China fell 27.6 percent in November. Trainees from Indonesia were down 26.0 percent and those from the Philippines were down 41.0 percent.

The number of people entering Japan to become trainees had been increasing since the foreign trainee system started in 1993, topping 100,000 in 2007.

The Japan Times: Monday, Feb. 2, 2009

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

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 yesterday’s article in the Japan Times.   Enjoy.  Debito in Sapporo
justbecauseicon.jpg

2channel: the bullies’ forum

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090203ad.html

By ARUDOU DEBITO
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009

Bullying in Japan is a big problem. The victims have limited recourse. Too often they are told to suck it up and self-reflect. Or if they fight back, they get criticized for lashing out. It’s a destructive dynamic, causing much misery and many a suicide.

The bullies are empowered by an odd phenomenon: In Japan, the right to know your accuser is not a given. When kids get criticized by the anonymous rumor mill, authorities make insufficient efforts to disclose who said what. The blindfolded bullied become powerless: There are lots of them and one of you, and unless you put names to critics they escalate with impunity.

Internet bulletin board (BBS) 2channel, the world’s largest, is the ultimate example of this dynamic. Although the BBS is very useful for public discussions, its debate firestorms also target and hurt individuals. This flurry of bullies is guaranteed anonymity through undisclosed Internet Protocol addresses, meaning they avoid the scrutiny they mete out to others.

Why absolute anonymity? 2channel’s founder and coordinator, Hiroyuki Nishimura, believes it liberates debate and provides true freedom of speech. People speak without reservation because nobody knows who they are.

Quite. But freedom of speech is not absolute. It does not grant freedom to lie or deceive (as in fraud), nor to engage in malicious behavior designed to hinder calm and free discourse. The classic example is the lack of freedom to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater. But libel and slander, where people willfully lie to assassinate characters and destroy lives, is also beyond the pale.

Japan does have checks against libel — lawsuits. Dozens of civil court cases have been brought against 2channel. When a problematic post appears, victims contact the BBS coordinator and request its removal. Alas, many get ignored. Then, when taken to court, Nishimura ignores summons to appear. Finally, even after losing dozens of times in court, Nishimura refuses to pay out. Years later, adjudged libelous posts (some about your correspondent) are still online and proliferating.

How is this possible? The Internet is a new media, and the judiciary hasn’t caught up. If a newspaper or TV station publicizes erroneous information, they too can be sued. But the old media are more accountable. They have to register their corporation and get a license, so their wherewithal’s whereabouts is public. If they lose and don’t pay, the court will file a lien on their assets and withdraw the award for the plaintiffs.

However, in cyberspace people can start a “media outlet” without incorporation or licensing, meaning their assets remain invisible. Nishimura owes millions of dollars in court penalties, but unless he divulges his personal bank accounts, his wages can’t be seized.

The dynamic becomes watertight thanks to a weakness in Japan’s judiciary: In this case, one cannot convert a civil suit into a criminal case through “contempt of court.” No cops will arrest him for being on the lam. Plaintiffs must hire their own private detectives to dig up Nishimura’s assets. No checks, no balances, and the bully society remains above the law.

The abuses continue. Last month, cops decided to arrest a 2channeler who issued a death threat against sumo wrestler Asashoryu. About time: Hate-posters have long vilified ethnic minorities, threatened individuals, and waged cyberwars to deny others the freedom of speech they apparently so cherish.

Meanwhile, Nishimura keeps on wriggling. Last month he announced 2channel’s sale to a Singaporean firm, making his assets even more unaccountable.

Some salute 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.

Unless contempt of court procedures are tightened up to reflect the realities of new media, I believe Nishimura will be remembered historically as the irresponsible kid who spoiled the Internet for the rest of us.

Debito Arudou is coauthor of the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants.” More on his 2006 libel lawsuit victory at www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html. Send comments to community@japantimes.co.jp
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009
ENDS

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

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 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, courtesy of JK and The Club.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

===============================
◆Sumo: JSA fires wrestler arrested for marijuana possession
TOKYO, Feb. 2, 2009 KYODO NEWS
http://home.kyodo.co.jp/modules/fstStory/index.php?storyid=421664

The Japan Sumo Association on Monday fired second-division wrestler Wakakirin, who has been arrested for marijuana possession in the latest drug-use scandal to hit Japan’s ancient national sport.
     The JSA executive committee took swift action to impose one of its heaviest punishments on a wrestler three days after police apprehended Wakakirin, 25, whose real name is Shinichi Suzukawa, in Tokyo along with 30-year-old musician Tsutomu Hirano.
     The committee, however, stopped short of expelling Wakakirin. Dismissal is the second heaviest punishment after expulsion.
     Wakakirin is the first Japanese wrestler to be arrested in a marijuana case and the latest grappler to be thrown out of the sumo world after three Russians were dismissed over drug charges during the last six months.
     Top-division Russian grappler Wakanoho was arrested on charges of marijuana possession last August, while compatriots and brothers Roho and Hakurozan both returned positive results for marijuana use in ensuing drug tests conducted by the JSA.
     The series of drug-use scandals came as the sport struggled to restore its reputation, marred also by lingering match-fixing allegations and the fatal hazing last year of a teenage wrestler by his stablemates.
     On Saturday, Wakakirin submitted a written retirement offer to the JSA through his lawyer and stablemaster Oguruma. JSA Chairman Musashigawa left his fate in the hands of the executive committee.
     Wakakirin has admitted to police that he smoked marijuana. He made his sumo debut in 1999 and wrestled in the second-tier juryo division in the last five tournaments after being demoted from the top flight, where he peaked at ninth-ranked maegashira in January 2008.
==Kyodo
===============================

Sumo wrestler says he got marijuana from foreigner in Roppongi

YOKOHAMA —

A second-division Japanese sumo wrestler arrested for possessing marijuana has said he obtained the drug from a foreigner in Tokyo’s Roppongi district and that he had smoked marijuana regularly, before then retracting that claim, police said Saturday.

Wakakirin, 25, whose real name is Shinichi Suzukawa, earlier told Kanagawa prefectural police that he ‘‘had been smoking for some time’’ but later changed his testimony and said, ‘‘I only smoked marijuana twice before my arrest and have not smoked it in the past.’’

Wakakirin said the only two times he had smoked were at the office of a compact disc sales shop in Roppongi where he was arrested Friday after the police found 16 grams of marijuana while investigating another drug-related case.

But because the sumo wrestler tested positive twice in three urine tests conducted by the Japan Sumo Association in September, the police said they will continue investigating where he obtained the drug and the number of times he has smoked in the past.

Police sent the wrestler to prosecutors Sunday on suspicion of violating the cannabis control law. Wakakirin was apprehended along with musician Tsutomu Hirano, 30, at the office of a CD shop in the Roppongi district, according to the Kanagawa prefectural police.

Wakakirin told investigators he hollowed out a cigar, blended the contents with marijuana and put the mixture back into the cigar and smoked it, but a senior prefectural police official queried whether it is normal to inhale cigars in the same way as in smoking marijuana.

The police also sent Hirano to prosecutors Sunday.

ENDS

Newly-elected Tsukuba City Assemblyman Jon Heese on the hows and whys of getting elected 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.  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.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Some background links, courtesy of Jeff Korpa:

Jon Heese Running for City Council « TsukuBlog:
http://blog.alientimes.org/2008/10/jon-heese-running-for-city-council/

Jon’s Stunning Victory « TsukuBlog:
http://blog.alientimes.org/2008/10/jons-stunning-victory/

ヘイズジョンの「愛してる、つくば」 Jon Heese -Aishiteru Tsukuba-:
http://aishiterutsukuba.jp/

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

Yes you can. Yes you should. -jon heese

October 26, 2008 was a very satisfying day. I woke up around the crack of noon, went to the local polling station to vote in the city election and took my family to the park for a beautiful afternoon. Dinner was a relaxed affair. All in all, it was quite a change from the previous seven days. The week beginning the previous Sunday was rather more hectic since I was quite busy kissing hands and shaking babies as I began my campaign for city councilor in Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki-ken.

The election was the culmination of years of plodding…(plotting?). Four years before, after a few gin and tonics (four parts gin, one part ice and a whiff of tonic) in my favourite bar, I happened to mention to the barkeep how if I had half a mind, I should run for city council. Clearly, he believed I did in fact have only half a mind since he immediately became extremely excited and began to encourage me to take the plunge. He went on for awhile, trying to explain the election system to me, but as I had had at least 3 of those gin and tonics by that time, I was rather befuddled. What I did understand was that he believed I could win, if I ran. I had more than a hangover to think about the next morning.

It was one thing to convince myself that running for office was a good idea. Convincing my wife, Nori, was rather more arduous. Fortunately I had subjected her to many a crazy idea in the past so didn’t really need to convince her per se. She listened to my rant and more or less wrote off this latest plan as just another harebrained scheme. That said, she was willing to help do the necessary paperwork to get me started, the first step on the long road: citizenship.

I had quite a few obstacles to pass to get my citizenship, least of which was the actual application. My first task was to get my taxes paid off. That was not as easy as that sounds since I owed considerable sales taxes from a business that went south. I also needed to get birth records for my large family from various local governments. In any case, I finally managed to get all the required records together at the same time and applied.

The actual citizenship process wasn’t so difficult. My case officer was a friendly guy. No one in his office had ever processed a Canuck before so I believe he was rather excited by the challenge. Other than providing endless copies of paperwork, there really wasn’t much for me to do, with the exception of writing the requisite essay in Japanese. This essay was the one real challenge, the one actual test in Japanese-ness. The original request was for a one page essay written in pencil. At the next meeting I presented my case officer the essay and he claimed it was good enough. Now please rewrite it in ink. Could I just copy over the existing essay and erase the pencil after? Sure, no problem. I presented the ink version the next week. Ah, Heese-san, that’s great. Could you please make one more copy in ink? No, a photocopy was not good enough. Well, I didn’t choke the snivel serpent on the spot, so I guess I passed the “gaman” (patience) test. From start to finish, the process took about 6 months. This meant that the tax documents needed to be renewed and resubmitted since official docs expire after 3 months. More “gaman”.

On June 5th, 2007 I officially became Japanese. By this time pretty much anyone who bothered to listen to my blathering had heard of my political ambitions. Curiously, getting my citizenship did not convince many people of my seriousness. Even my wife still thought that the whole citizenship hoop-jump was a big step forward, but when push came to shove, I’d chicken out or find some excuse not to run.

Fast forward to spring of 2008. By then most of the candidates who were planning to run already had their flyers and campaign posters designed and their meishi printed. They had their political support clubs already registered and were gathering funds. Nori had been emphasizing for months I should stop my candidacy, since she felt that to lose would be a severe blow and not worth risking. True, many a losing Japanese candidate also loses vast amounts of face. I, however, was not afraid of losing since that would imply I had some pride (Bzzzz, wrong answer). In fact, the way I saw it, to run and lose would still prove to be a plus. In spite of the many foreigners in our city the principals have never really had anyone they could approach for advice whenever serious issues arose. Sure there were a few of the usual suspects that attended the various advisory boards and panels, but no one was really seen as a definitive voice for the foreign community. Worst case, by stepping forward for the election and losing, I would still become the go-to guy for any future dialogue. That couldn’t be bad.

When I approached my barkeep in July 2008 to see about selecting a campaign manager, he pretty much bit my head off for being so slow off the mark. OK, well, I had no answer but “Gomen nasai.” Still, I give barkeep a lot of credit since once he saw I was serious about running, in spite of my slow start, he started to make a few calls to a few of the movers and shakers around town. The first heavyweight to show up was Mr. O, a real firecracker. He’d spent his youth hitching around Europe and Asia, a true English speaking internationalist. That first meeting was just to satisfy him that I really was serious. Some days later, I got a call from the challenging mayoral candidate, and would I be interested in meeting? Mr. F is a sweet old guy, 72 in 2008. Would I support him in the coming election? Sure would, especially as his group promised to distribute 20,000 of my pamphlets throughout the city for free.

Ah, shit, those pamphlets… Ever notice that whenever you procrastinate for a long time, suddenly you get that feeling that everything needs to be done at once? Nori, my lovely and supporting wife, now had me over a barrel. As the designer-in-chief, she knew that if she was to get her best deal, that was the time. Working full time 6:30 AM to 11 PM in Tokyo, she was not at all interested in having even more work thrust on her because I needed something translated or designed for free. If she was going to support me in the campaign, it would be as an advisor only. She would not campaign with me, knocking on doors and generally bothering others. More importantly, if I won, she would not read the voluminous documentation, the many bills or other paperwork. She had her own job and I was on my own. But yes, she’s do the necessary design work for the election only. She sat down at the Mac and whipped up both my meishi and the pamphlet, sent everything off to the the printers in time to have everything back 3 weeks before the election and just in time for the challenger’s campaign supporters to stuff into mailboxes. In the meantime she also managed to get my web page up. And just 3 days before the actual campaign started, my posters arrived. Whew, safe.

By now the buzz was starting to happen. The pamphlets in the mailboxes were having an effect. People were approaching me and mentioning they’d seen my flyer in their post. Was I really going to run? YES PEOPLE, DAMMIT! I’M SERIOUS!!! The reactions were naturally varied. Many of my Japanese friends were all very supportive. The strangest reactions tended to come from my foreign friends. One guy even had the temerity to say his wife, a doctor, was a member of the Pink Ribbon society, a breast cancer awareness group. Since I was going to get my ass thumped in this first election he didn’t want his wife to use up her sway in the group for this election, but perhaps during the next election she might bring me around and introduce me. Well f*** you very much, friend. Generally, the only negative responses came from my foreign acquaintances. And when I say negative, I mean there was a lot of disbelief that I stood any chance. But “E” for effort Jon. Gambatte!

October 19th, the official start of the campaign. All my paperwork was done, posters ready and all the candidates gathered at the city office for the official kickoff. The atmosphere was more gold rush than election. Every candidate had his paperwork re-examined (we’d all had the paperwork gone over by the election officials the week before). As soon as the candidate was processed, out the door they raced, ready to stake their claim. The reality is that we all had to get our posters put up on the official boards erected throughout the city. This was no small feat as there were 450 locations, many in the middle of nowhere. The maps provided by the city were crappy photocopies at best. Fortunately I had made another connection to a group of like-minded candidates who divvied up the locations. My poster team would put up the posters of 6 other candidates at 30 locations and they would do the same for me around the city. Score.

Nori’s advice now came into effect. Number one: NO LOUDSPEAKER CAR. Yes, we all complain about it. The other candidates claimed that they too hate the damn cars and the grief they cause the voters. Well, I had to walk the walk. Number 2: forget about the train stations, especially in the early mornings. Everyone is in a rush and no one wants my damn meishi or flyer. If I want to catch the morning rush, stand outside the daycares and kindergartens and greet the mothers as they drop off their kids. The mothers will encouraged their husbands vote for me too, those same husbands rushing off to work on the trains. Number three: put a pole with my poster on the back of my bicycle and ride around town to my campaign stops. All good advice.

That first Sunday was rather special. It was the first day of campaigning so my manager and I went downtown and greeted the shoppers. As the other candidates were driving around and making a ruckus, I shouted “My name is Jon Heese and I’m running for city council” to all and sundry. A lot tougher than it sounds. After a couple of hours, my voice was thrashed. Towards the evening, we moved to another location and canvased local businesses until around 8 PM. Officially, campaigning can only occur between 8 AM to 8 PM. One day down.

Weekdays my manager and I got into a rhythm. We picked a daycare, greeted parents (see above) until just before 9, moved to the nearby kindergarten and greeted the mothers who usually formed a gaggle around the entrance. Unlike daycare parents, kindergarten mothers often don’t have a job to go to so this presented a nice opportunity to talk briefly about what I wanted to do. My manager had a real job to go to in the afternoons so I went home, had a short nap and lunch and went on the trail by myself in the afternoons and evenings. I tried doing the door to door a few times, but realistically, that’s a losing strategy. The few people at home on weekdays usually don’t open their doors, using their inter-phones. As soon as they heard I was a politician and a foreign one to boot, they’d hang up, some more politely than others.

While the other candidates went around bugging everyone with their loudspeakers, I spent my afternoons and evenings bothering people in their businesses. The nice thing about a business is that the staff are all trained to be polite to everyone. No slammed doors, no rude gestures, no buckets of blood thrown in my face. I walked in, asked for the boss, introduced myself and left. At the beginning of the week the news that a foreigner was running still wasn’t generally known. Over the course of the week, that changed somewhat. I still surprised a lot of folk. I’m sure there were a few people who were wondering which comedy show I was working for and where the hidden cameras were. Day 2 ~ 6 done.

Saturday rolled around; last day of campaigning. No daycares or kindergartens so I went back downtown and accosted, uhh, I mean greeted people. By this time my candidacy was common knowledge. Pretty much everyone had seen my posters and/or heard stuff via the grape-net or the inter-vine. I had many positive responses, people coming up to me and wanting to shake my hand and encourage me. Many voters told me they had used the early voting system to vote for me already. By the end of the 7th and final day, I knew I had at least 50 votes. Eight PM rolled around I was delighted to be able to take off my sash and take a long deserved sauna. The campaign was officially over. I was very confident that I was going to kick ass the next day. For my friends who really wanted to know what I thought my chances were, I told them top five. Otherwise, I just espoused optimism. I didn’t want to come across as over confident.

Sunday came, polling started and I relaxed. Candidates traditionally spend election day on the phones, encouraging the folk credulous enough to give out a working phone number to go vote. Campaigning is verboten, but burning up the land lines is fair game. I only had a few phone numbers of Japanese friends or foreign friends married to Japanese. Five calls later I was done. Time to relax and enjoy the day with my family. Polls closed at 8 PM. Counting began around 9. Mayor votes are counted first. My wife and I went to Mr. F’s campaign headquarters around 10:30 PM. We were late. The results were already in and he’d lost again. Sucked to be him. We arrived to doom and gloom, some of the supporters in tears. I wasn’t surprised. F-san is really a sweet guy, but he just didn’t have the charisma of his opponent. Piss-pots of money yes, but his oomph was gone.

Around 11 we went to my campaign headquarters, my favourite bar, to await the outcome. The first results came in around 11:30. I had been told that the winning candidates, based on previous elections, needed at least 1,600 votes. Someone at the computer was hitting refresh every 10 second or so from around 11:15. Another was on the phone talking to someone at the counting station. A cheer from the computer brought the whole bar to the monitor. After 30% of votes counted, there I was, tied for 1st place with 1,800 votes. It was all over but the cheering, multiple rounds of toasts, hugs, pictures and a special present from my brother, a stack of bribe envelopes with a million yen as the minimum amount. By midnight the final tally was in. I’d moved down to 2nd place with a total of 4,011 votes. First came in with 4,500. Still, not bad for a beginner.

OK, a nice story. Yeah me! What does this have to do with you? Well, here’s the dope. All city elections are pretty much run the same, following rules set up by the national government. Ergo, if you understand the structure, my story is repeatable… by you! “Me?” you say. Yes you. Let me explain.

Most cities have between 25 and 30 seats in their council. Usually there are around 10 ~ 20% more candidates than there are seats in any given city election. In Tsukuba, I had 40 competitors running for 33 seats. That is worth considering on its own. How much easier for me, all things being equal, to place in the winning 33 than to place in the losing 7?

The remarkable characteristic about most of candidates is how they are mostly nice gray men in nice gray suits. They are all very amiable and, above all, competent guys but pretty much lacking in charisma. They are all looking to make the city a better place by keeping the mayor in check. I say good for them. I’ve gotten to know our winning clutch over the last few months and I think they are a nice bunch. My opinion may change in the coming years, but so far, very positive.

Let’s have a look at the voters. The nice gray men all have their support groups and the better ones have better machines. However, in any given election, there are about 30% independent voters. In Tsukuba, about 90,000 citizens voted, meaning 30,000 voters were not aligned to any organization. Here are the numbers needed to win. The winner of seat 33 garnered 1577 votes (the guy below him had 1,552). The numbers show that anyone who can get 5% of independent voters will win. Now add on the votes from your spouse’s family, friends, the shopkeepers where you are known, your students/co-workers/underlings and all their friends and pretty soon you are vying for top dog.

How do independent voters decide who to vote for? Well, we can assume they have no clue who to vote for or they’d already be aligned. In 2004, the first time I paid attention to a local election, the number one vote getter was a 26 year old who went around saying, “Vote for me, I’m 26.” Of course he had a pamphlet with all the changes he wanted to make but his real message was very clear. This year I came in a respectable second. I also had a policy-filled flyer but my underlying campaign message was, “I’m foreign, vote for me.” OK, I’m being cynical, but sue me!

My impression is that independent voters are attracted to different and new things. Figure out what your attraction might be and play it for all it’s worth and you will do just fine. Just your foreignness already makes you prominent. Elections are really just advertising campaigns and if your product is being talked about, you will get votes. Remember, voters unhappy with your candidacy can’t vote you off the islands. At worst, they can only not vote for you. Certainly the other candidates will not waste their breath trying to block you as mud slinging just makes you even more famous.

OK, so you’ve read this far and maybe even have a dreamy “What if” look as you imagine the possibilities. Here is a brief overview of what you’ll need: 1. You need to be Japanese. Get over it. It is not that hard to do. The biggest obstacle will be giving up your previous citizenship. Chances are you are already here for the duration. Why not let everyone else know too. It will be cathartic. 2. If you have been a good boy or girl you have not only learned to speak Japanese fairly well, but can even read a significant amount of kanji. Everything else is just details. Is that brief enough?

Things you won’t need: lots of money, lots of friends. Both help but are not deal breakers. As for money, campaigns are funded by the city. The nice gray men need to spend the big yen over and above the city funding to get their “Look at me!” message out. I was stupid and wasted Y400,000 of my own money. If I’d procrastinated less, I could have been elected for free. As for friends, they are useful. That said, I have no clue who cast most of the 4,000 votes I got. I’ll never know and it’s not important. One advantage you have already that I did not is my help and experience. Contact Debito if you need my e-mail or phone number (don’t call before noon).

The fact you are reading this on Arudou Debito’s blog tells me you are a concerned inhabitant and hopefully future citizen. You are interested in the way Japan is being run. That you own a computer and are net literate already makes you exceptional when compared to the nice gray men running your city. Consider this, Tsukuba is hailed as Japan’s Science City, it’s Palo Alto. And yet, fewer than 30% of the candidates even had an election home page. Doesn’t that strike you as more than just odd, but disastrous for this country? When the country’s smartest city (highest average IQ) elects a majority of its councilors with no net presence, that is worrying. Chances are it’s worse where you are.

In spite of all of the negative shit you read on this blog, there is another side to Japan that Debito freely recognizes. There are so many super kind and generous Japanese out there who will gladly support you in your efforts, should you decide to try to be the next foreign candidate. The silent majority in Japan are just keeping their heads down and trying not to get singled out. However, there is an active minority who really do believe in Japan’s place in the fabric of humanity, that Japan should honour their pledges to the world.

Debito’s blog often points out where Japan is falling down on their commitments because good people do nothing. However, there are plenty of people out there who are doing great things but don’t have the charisma to get into politics. You’ve met them, your spouse knows them. This is a fifth column that is just waiting for you to stand up and be counted. They will stand behind you and find the resources you need to win.

I praise Debito for his work in poking the establishment in the eye for their lack of backbone and I hope my story provides a little balance to Debito’s efforts. Now imagine what will happen when Debito, and yes, I do mean WHEN Debito takes his scrotum in hand and changes Hokkaido forever by becoming Sapporo’s first western politician. Can you imagine the changes that will take place when Japan’s biggest pain in the ass foreigner starts to point the spotlight on all those politicians who are not living up to our obligations because they do nothing? Oh Happy Day! Now imagine, 30 of us throughout the nation. This is not a dream, this is very doable. The election system is designed with you in mind. Take advantage of it. Yes you can. YES YOU SHOULD!

January 30, 2008

ENDS

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

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.  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!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 1, 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
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 1, 2009
Table of Contents:
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IRONIES
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.

NOT TAKING IT LYING DOWN
9) Kyodo: Brazilian workers protest layoffs at J companies
10) Wash Post on GOJ efforts to get Brazilian workers to stay
11) Google zaps Debito.org, 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

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

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2186

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

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 the Debito.org blog.

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:

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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.”
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http://www.debito.org/?p=2168

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3) Tsukiji Fish Market reopens, the NJ blame game continues

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2135

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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)

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2140

Moreover, next week Tuesday (Weds outside major metropolitan areas), February 3, my next JUST BE CAUSE column will discuss the 2-Channel pheomenon in relation to Japan’s strong bully culture, and how it is further empowered by the tendency toward anonymity. Get a copy!

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5) IHT on Buraku Nonaka vs Barack Obama

What with the 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:
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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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2130

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

This is not a “NJ issues”-specific post (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.”
========================================

http://www.debito.org/?p=2194

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

Excerpt:
========================================
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.
========================================

http://www.debito.org/?p=2164

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2132

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NOT TAKING IT LYING DOWN
9) Kyodo: Brazilian workers protest layoffs at J companies

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2134

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10) Wash Post on GOJ efforts to get Brazilian workers to stay

Excerpt:
========================================
“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.”
========================================

http://www.debito.org/?p=2154

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11) Google zaps Debito.org, later unzaps thanks to advice from cyberspace

Tangent: Google notified me earlier in January that they would be delisting Debito.org from its search engines for cloaked text inserted on our site. Yet Google wouldn’t reveal on what page it’s on so we could fix the problem. We couldn’t find it. So we were stuck with an unfair delisting and that was that. This oddly-enforced policy may affect other websites and blogs as well.

Fortunately, helpful advice from people in cyberspace put us back on the list. Have a gander on how things were resolved just in case it happens to you.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2129

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12) Southland Times on how New Zealand deals with restaurant exclusions

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2127

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13) Question on Welfare Assistance (seikatsu hogo) and privacy rights

Got a question from TtoT at The Community 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2160

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14) UN News on upcoming Durban human rights summit and Gitmo

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2143

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… 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

A documentary on “Japan’s Hidden Workers” and human rights, with Debito appearing as tour guide to exclusionary signs in Kabukichou, Tokyo. Directed by Tilman Koenig and Daniel Kremers of Leipzig. Preview of the movie here. Due for showings in Japan in March 2009, so please notify Debito if you’d like him to stop by your area between March 20 and April 1. Promotional PDF of the movie with stills of scenes all available at

http://www.debito.org/?page_id=1672

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Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 1, 2009 ENDS