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  • Archive for April, 2009

    Asahi: Multiethnic Japan in LA’s Little Tokyo

    Posted by arudou debito on 30th April 2009

    Remove the exclusivity of the GOJ from the political landscape, and consider what might happen:

    Asahi: Little Tokyo, a strip of land 700 meters east-west and 500 meters north-south, has become more “international,” or rather, multiethnic, multilingual and multicultural.

    The town has seen a sharp rise in the Korean population in recent years, while young Japanese-Americans are leaving the area…

    On the streets, Chinese and Korean, among many other languages, can be heard along with Japanese and English…

    In recent years, redevelopment of downtown Los Angeles attracted more young residents, including students, to apartment complexes with reasonable rents. Little Tokyo soon became a popular hangout of those people.

    The town’s transformation from a Japanese to multiethnic community reflects changes in the Nikkeijin (Japanese-American) community in the United States…

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Cultural Issue, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 23 Comments »

    Amnesty Intl May 24 Tokyo protest against Diet bills under deliberation to further police NJ residents

    Posted by arudou debito on 29th April 2009

    Here’s a nice roundup from Amnesty International about upcoming GOJ proposals for further policing NJ residents, and what you can do to protest them. Amnesty International says:

    Say no to immigration law revision!

    An assembly and rally will be held to protest amendments to the law.
    Everyone is welcome to attend!

    Date : May 24th (Sun) 14:00-15:30
    Assembly 16:00-17:00 Rally
    Place : Koutsu Biru (Tokyo, Minato-ku, Shimbashi5-15-5) 6minutes’ walk from Shimbashi station (JR Line, Karasumori-guchi)

    This is information from Amnesty International Japan regarding controversial bills under discussion in the Diet to impose tighter control on foreign residents. Brochures with background on the issue in different languages are available in this blog entry:

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 11 Comments »

    The GOJ’s economic stimulus plan (teigaku kyuufukin), Tokyo pamphlet on how to get your tax kickback

    Posted by arudou debito on 28th April 2009

    One of the best bits of good news that came out last year regarding the international community in Japan was the teigaku kyuufukin — the 12,000 yen per person (plus 8000 yen on top of that per dependent and oldie) economic stimulus bribe that the GOJ thinks will boost domestic consumption.

    Regardless of whether you think it makes any economic sense (I should think a holiday from the 5% Consumption Tax would go a lot farther to stimulate consumer consumption, and I bet it would cost a lot less to administrate), it’s good that registered NJ residents regardless of visa also qualify (they almost didn’t, and really didn’t last time they came out with this kind of scheme in 1999; it barely amounted to much more than bribes for electoral yoroshikus back then either).

    But when and how do NJ get it now? What follows is how the stimulus is being administrated in one part of Tokyo, courtesy of Ben. Eight pages, the first four are bilingual, the rest are directed at citizens. Your administrative taxes at work.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Practical advice, 日本語 | 16 Comments »

    “Tokyo Reader” on odd rental contracts for apartments: “lease” vs. “loan for use”? Plus Kyoutaku escrow for disputes

    Posted by arudou debito on 27th April 2009

    Tokyo Reader: I am currently in a dialogue with company HT. Over the winter, HT looks to have lowered rents on the 1K apartments. What used to be advertised as 150,000 yen a month is now 135,000 yen. (I say “used to be advertised” because there is some evidence that different parties are paying different rents, having nothing to do with a discount system.)

    Since I had been paying the higher rent, I proposed paying the new advertised price. According to the Land & House Lease Law (“LHLL”), Article 32, a tenant can propose a rent reduction when there is evidence that rents in a given neighborhood have declined. The landlord may disagree and then a mandatory arbitration panel is supposed to decide the matter.

    Company HT insists that my 1K is somehow special that it requires the higher price (150,000 yen). Funny is that when I moved into the building, there was no such tiered pricing. Further, Company HT claims that my lease is not covered by the Land & House Lease Law, but rather is a “Loan for use” under Civil Code, Article 593…

    Michael Fox: Can anything be done if your rent is increased unfairly? Or what if people moving into your building are paying less? Good news, there is a designated process for alleviating overcharges…

    If negotiation fails, the next step is to deposit the money into escrow (kyoutaku 供託)with the local government. The papers for such procedure can be obtained from the Legal Affairs Department (Houmukyoku法務局) of your city/town office.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Japanese Government | 10 Comments »

    Sunday Tangent: Economist on Japan buying LNG from Sakhalin (finally!) and Hokkaido’s missed opportunities

    Posted by arudou debito on 26th April 2009

    I spotted this recent Economist article (I have a paper subscription; call me retro) over lunch yesterday, and was surprised to see that Japanese industry, after decades of wait (see article below), has finally bought Russian fuel. About time.

    Living in Hokkaido for more than twenty years now has given me a number of insights by osmosis regarding our extremely proximate Russian neighbor (in three places — Wakkanai, Nemuro, and Rausu — mere kilometers away), and how that affects business.

    First, Japanese and Russians tend not to get along. We still have no peace treaty (merely an armistice) with Russia after the 1945 seizure of the Northern Territories (and the big loss of southern Sakhalin, still called by its prewar name “Karafuto” by not a few Hokkaidoites). We also get occasional articles in the Hokkaido Shinbun reminding the public of pre-surrender Soviet submarine raids off Rumoi, and the impending invasion of northern and eastern Hokkaido before McArthur stepped in. Old people still remember postwar Russian concentration camps and forced repatriations from lands they feel they rightfully settled. And even today, the rough-and-tumble nature of the Russian that Hokkaidoites most frequently come in contact with (the sailor) was at the heart of the exclusionism behind the Otaru Onsens Case. The Japanese military, excuse me, “Self Defense Forces” still have a very strong presence up here (even building our snow sculptures) to ward off possible Soviet invasions, and keep us from getting too friendly with (or receive too many Aeroflot flights from) the Rosuke.

    Second, Hokkaido has for years been unable to take advantage of the goldmine just off their shores. Potential deals with Sakhalin have not only been stymied by foot-dragging government bureaucrats (and the occasional businessman who, according to business contact Simon Jackson of North Point Network KK, cite business deals gone sour with the Soviets around three or four decades ago!). The most ludicrous example was where overseas energy interests were considering opening offices in Sapporo in the early 1990s (for Sapporo’s standard of living was far higher than that of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk). But they took one look at the toolshed that was essentially the Hokkaido International School back then and decided their relocated families needed better educational opportunities. The Hokkaido Government has since rectified that with a much nicer building for HIS, but it remains in the annals of bungled policy and opportunities. Thus Sapporo missed out on all the gobs of riches that oil money provides anywhere (viz. Edmonton or Calgary) as the end of the era of cheap petroleum makes exploration and development economically feasible just about anywhere.

    Third, as the article demonstrates below, Tokyo seems to be skipping over Hokkaido again with its first LNG deal. If we had set up the infrastructure when we had the chance, we could be getting some of that value-added. Granted, doing business in Russia (what with the shady elements posing as dealers and administrators) is pretty risky. But it seems in keeping with the historical gormlessness of Hokkaido (what with all the crowding out of entrepreneurial industry through a century of public works), and the maintenance of our island as a resource colony of the mainland. See an essay I wrote on this way back in 1996, and tell me if much has changed.

    In fact, it seems the only reason Japan has come round to dealing with Sakhalin at all is because increasingly mighty China is squeezing them out of the market, according to The Economist below.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, History, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Tangents | 2 Comments »

    Economist.com blog piles on re Nikkei Repatriation Bribe

    Posted by arudou debito on 24th April 2009

    Economist piles on re Nikkei Repatriation Bribe: Japan’s policy results from a perception that the stock of jobs is fixed, so if you remove the foreign population more jobs go to natives. But low-skill immigrants often do jobs natives will not. Some argue that without immigrants these undesirable jobs would pay more and then natives would take them. But that simply encourages employers to outsource these jobs to another country (which means the wages are spent elsewhere). When it comes to jobs that can physically not be sent abroad, it raises the costs of production which can mean fewer high-skill, well-paid jobs.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 3 Comments »

    From the archives: How criminals fool the police: talk like foreigners!

    Posted by arudou debito on 24th April 2009

    Mainichi Daily News July 19, 2000 talks about a killer gang that effected foreign accents to throw police off their scent. This is not the first time I’ve found cases of NJ being blamed for J crime. Check out three cases (Mainichi 2004 and 2006). where biker gangs told their victims to blame foreigners, a murderer and his accomplice tried to say a “blond” guy killed his mother, and an idiot trucker, who overslept late for work, tried to claim that a gang of foreigners kidnapped him! How many other crimes have been pinned on foreigners in this way, one wonders.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 4 Comments »

    TIME Mag, Asahi, NY Times: “Japan to Immigrants: Thanks, but go home”

    Posted by arudou debito on 23rd April 2009

    TIME: If Nikkei Brazilians, Peruvians and others who have lost their jobs go home, what will Japan do? Last week, Prime Minister Taro Aso unveiled a long-term growth strategy to create millions of jobs and add $1.2 trillion to GDP by 2020. But the discussion of immigration reform is notoriously absent in Japan, and reaching a sensible policy for foreign workers has hardly got under way. Encouraging those foreigners who would actually like to stay in Japan to leave seems a funny place to start.

    Asahi: SAO PAULO–Many Brazilians of Japanese ancestry returning here from recession-struck Japan are struggling to find work, according to Grupo Nikkei, an NGO set up to support the job-seekers… Some returnees who performed unskilled labor in Japan have found it difficult to return to old jobs that require specific expertise, according to Leda Shimabukuro, 57, who heads the group. Some youths also lack Portuguese literacy skills, Shimabukuro said.

    NY Times: So Japan has been keen to help foreign workers go home, thus easing pressure on domestic labor markets and getting thousands off unemployment rolls.

    “Japan’s economy has hit a rainstorm. There won’t be good employment opportunities for a while, so that’s why we’re suggesting that the Nikkei Brazilians go home,” said Jiro Kawasaki, a former health minister and senior lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

    “Naturally, we don’t want those same people back in Japan after a couple of months,” Mr. Kawasaki said, who led the ruling party task force that devised the repatriation plan, part of a wider emergency strategy to combat rising unemployment in Japan…

    Mr. Kawasaki said the economic slump was a good opportunity to overhaul Japan’s immigration policy as a whole. “We should stop letting unskilled laborers into Japan. We should make sure that even the three-K jobs are paid well, and that they are filled by Japanese,” he said. “I do not think that Japan should ever become a multi-ethnic society.” He said the United States had been “a failure on the immigration front,” and cited extreme income inequalities between rich Americans and poor immigrants.

    Posted in Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Labor issues | 21 Comments »

    Nisshin Kasai Insurance company allows insurance to NJ customers

    Posted by arudou debito on 22nd April 2009

    Just got a call from the insurance company that insures my car, answering my request for information regarding how open-door their policies are towards customers of varied backgrounds.

    Nisshin Fire and Marine Insurance Company (Nisshin Kasai Kaijou Hoken 日新火災海上保険) KK allows insurance for NJ regardless of Japanese language ability. If that is lacking, the customer just has to bring along an interpreter.

    Of course, this should not be blog-entry-worthy news. The default should be acceptance of customers and their money. But we do hear at Debito.org of companies that refuse NJ flat out because they assume that NJ cannot communicate in Japanese, therefore they cannot get into contractual relationships.

    Some examples:
    Shounan Shinkin Bank in Chigasaki
    Hokkoku Shinbun in Ishikawa Prefecture (yes, a newspaper!)
    AXA Direct Insurance (later amended its CNN advertising to accept NJ)
    Just wanted to put the word out there that there is a good company to steer your business towards.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Good News | 1 Comment »

    UN News posts on Durban Review Conference on human rights, Geneva Apr 20 2009

    Posted by arudou debito on 22nd April 2009

    Expanding the scope of the fight for human rights beyond Japan’s borders, here’s what’s happening on a macro scale: The UN “Olympics” on human rights (held quite infrequently) has become a right mess, from what I saw of Ahmadinejad’s speech live on CNN Monday night (there was nasty invective marbling whatever salient points he was there to make; generated more heat than light). Here is the UN’s point of view. Doesn’t give me a lot of hope for seeing Japan’s issues as all that urgent.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, United Nations | 4 Comments »

    Japan Times: Police surprisingly mellow when dealing with Japanese shoplifting

    Posted by arudou debito on 21st April 2009

    Shrikant Atre comments on Japan Times article on shoplifting, where Japanese suspects are getting kid-gloved by the NPA:

    “I think any crime is a crime. If the NPA tries to solve the problem by “counselling and trying to find out Mental State of criminals involved in these cases” this must be another form to forcibly reduce crime rate of (I suspect crimes done by J citizens) in Japan.

    I wanted JT to find out that out of the 17,816 cases alone in Tokyo last year, how many were NJ criminals ? How many J criminals have been “Councelled and Let to go with a small verbal notice”.

    The same report states that “Items worth over 300 billion yen are shoplifted each year in Japan where the crime is usually seen as a minor offense”.

    Now, if there are 145,429 cases reported in last year in Japan which has a population of 125 million, it means that 1.16 percent of all the Japanese people (unless only NJ did all the said crimes) ARE Criminals. Good indication ! All the world should watch Japanese Tourists instead of making a YOKOSO to them. Also the same report statistics if believed, these 1.16% people stole goods worth of 300 billion yen / year in Japan, means 2400 yen of shoplifting per capita or a Whopping 2.06 million yens of heist apiece by caught criminals (145,429 only) ? I am literally amazed by these statistics.”

    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 10 Comments »

    Debito’s computer is in the shop: Debito.org updated only during business hours JST this week

    Posted by arudou debito on 21st April 2009

    My computer is in the shop for an upgrade this week. That means that I don’t have a computer at home, and I won’t be able to access email, skype, or Debito.org online during the evenings until probably the end of this weekend.

    That said, I will be online every day of course during regular business hours JST, as I have computer access from work. So blog updates will happen later than usual, and commenters will have to wait a little longer before I can read and approve their posts. My apologies for that. I’ll still be blogging daily, as usual, however. Thanks to everyone as always for reading and contributing to Debito.org!

    Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

    Japan Times: DPJ slams new Gaijin Cards and further tightening of NJ policing

    Posted by arudou debito on 20th April 2009

    Japan Times: A Democratic Party of Japan legal affairs panel has drafted proposals to soften the rules and punishments stipulated in government-sponsored bills to tighten immigration regulations on foreign residents, DPJ lawmaker Ritsuo Hosokawa said Thursday.

    The panel called for eliminating eight provisions in the bills, including one that would oblige foreigners to always carry residency cards, Hosokawa told The Japan Times…

    “The control (over foreign residents) is too tight” in the bills, said Hosokawa, who is the justice minister in the DPJ’s shadow Cabinet. Under the proposed system, resident registrations would be handled by the Justice Ministry, not the municipalities where people live.

    Posted in Good News, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Politics | 13 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 19, 2009

    Posted by arudou debito on 19th April 2009

    JAPAN SLOWLY RUNNING DOWN
    1) Economist: First mention of Japan’s “two lost decades”:
    Calls into question efficacy of “Japan Inc” business model
    2) Mainichi: Kofu Laundry taken to cleaners over abuses of Chinese “trainees”
    3) See I told you so #2: Oct-Jan 1000 “Trainees” repatriated, returning to debts.
    4) Yomiuri: NJ students brought to J universities by the bushelful, but given little job assistance
    5) In contrast: Korea Times: South Korea proposes dual citizenship

    HISTORY AND HISTORICAL EVENTS
    6) Japan Times on the Calderon Noriko Case: “The Battle for Japan’s Future” and fascist demo on YouTube
    7) Calderon Case: Two protesters against right-wing demo arrested, supporters group established
    8 ) Sunday Tangent: NPR interview with late scholar John Hope Franklin: feel the parallels
    9) Peru’s Fujimori really gets his: 25 years jail for death squads

    PLEAS FOR HELP
    10) Michael Collison Case: “Fired from Interac after death of infant daughter”
    11) Friend requests advice on how to approach JHS PTA, regarding repainting rundown school
    12) Filmmaker requests interviewees for documentary on NJ visa overstayers

    … and finally…
    13) Sapporo Screening of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES Thurs Apr 23 7PM HIBA
    14) Japan Times on Tokyo Takadanobaba SOUR STRAWBERRIES screening

    Posted in Newsletters | 1 Comment »

    Korea Times: South Korea proposes dual citizenship

    Posted by arudou debito on 19th April 2009

    Korea Times Editorial: It’s good news for foreigners that they can get Korean citizenship without giving up their own nationality from the latter part of this year at the earliest. The Ministry of Justice plans to present a bill to the National Assembly by June in a move to offer dual citizenship to foreigners with ample potential to contribute to national development. The plan is to allow dual citizenship on a limited basis to cope with the worsening brain-drain problem and attract talented foreigners into the country.

    It was inevitable that the country would ease its ban on dual citizenship in the era of globalization and a multicultural society. We believe the ministry has made the right decision to improve our national competitiveness by drawing more talented foreign professionals to the country. In fact, the rigid single-nationality regulation has been an impediment to foreigners’ activities and their life here. Thus, the possible softening of the regulation will enable more foreigners to better contribute to Korean society.

    According to official statistics, 170,000 people have given up their Korean citizenship over the last 10 years, while only 50,000 have obtained it. This means that the county suffers from a brain drain of more than 10,000 people every year. In separate developments, South Korea is steadily becoming a multicultural society. The number of foreign residents in the country has already reached one million, accounting for over 2 percent of the total population. And the ratio is likely to hit 5 percent in 2020.

    COMMENT: Your homework: Compare and contrast with Japan.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation | 12 Comments »

    Japan Times on Tokyo Takadanobaba SOUR STRAWBERRIES screening

    Posted by arudou debito on 18th April 2009

    Japan Times review: The plight of foreign “trainees” in Japan, who often provide cheap labor at factories and in farm fields with no access to labor rights protection, is usually not something you discuss leisurely over a cup of coffee or a mug of beer. But people who showed up last month at Ben’s Cafe in Tokyo had an opportunity to do just that — at the screening of a German-Japanese collaboration, the documentary film “Sour Strawberries.”

    Tensions rise toward the end of the film, when Chinese trainees who sought help from a labor union are forcibly taken to Narita airport to be sent back to their countries.

    The subsequent scuffle — between the workers and the private security guards hired by the employer — was videotaped by union officials — and provided to the filmmakers to be incorporated into the film. Another highlight is where Arudou takes the film crew to Kabukicho — Tokyo’s night-life mecca in Shinjuku — for a showdown with officials from a nightclub with a sign out front saying “Japanese only.”…

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Media, Speech materials | 2 Comments »

    Filmmaker requests interviewees for documentary on NJ visa overstayers

    Posted by arudou debito on 17th April 2009

    Adrian Francis: I am an Australian documentary filmmaker living in Tokyo. I am currently researching a documentary about illegal workers in Japan. Their plight has been in the spotlight in recent months due to the Calderon family case, and more generally, against a background debate about the role of immigration in present and future Japan. Like the Calderons, many illegal workers in Japan are important contributors to this country, but are not acknowledged as such by the police, a sensationalist media, or official government policy. My aim is to make a film that can give illegal workers themselves some kind of voice in a public discussion about their role.

    At this stage I’m thinking purely in terms of research. I understand that this is a highly sensitive topic, and for the people themsleves it could potentially involve deportation or incarceration. If you, or someone you know is in this situation, I would very much like to hear about your/their experiences. I would be happy to communicate in any form that is most comfortable – email, phone, or in person.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues, Media | No Comments »

    Calderon Case: Two protesters against right-wing demo arrested, supporters group established

    Posted by arudou debito on 17th April 2009

    The Community: This is an email I got through a left-leaning mailing list which describes a ‘Foreigner Expulsion’ demonstration that happened in Saitama, which passed right by the elementary school of the Philipino Calderon family whose case has recently come to national attention.

    Apparently a ‘kyuuenkai’ (support group) has been set up for two people arrested protesting against the demo. Here is their blog, and an example of the blog by the rightists…

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Discussions, Japanese police/Foreign crime, 日本語 | 4 Comments »

    Michael Collison Case: “Fired from Interac after death of infant daughter”

    Posted by arudou debito on 16th April 2009

    What follows is a story of a person, in his own words, who dealt with a language company called Interac in Yokohama, which disciplined him for being late for classes despite his explanation that his pregnant wife was undergoing complications. The baby eventually died. And Interac said they would not be renewing his contract. Read on. Suggest the labor unions be informed of this.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices | 132 Comments »

    Japan Times on the Calderon Noriko Case: “The Battle for Japan’s Future”

    Posted by arudou debito on 15th April 2009

    David McNeill of the Japan Times makes an interesting point about the Calderon Noriko Case, where the parents of a Japan-born Philippine adolescent were forcibly repatriated for overstaying, but the adolescent is allowed to remain in Japan without her parents on a tenuous one-year visa. It’s become an ideological tug-of-war between liberals (who want more humanistic immigration policies) and conservatives (who don’t want to encourage illegal-alien copycatting, and, yes, do resort to “purity of Japan” invective), in an inevitable and very necessary debate about Japan’s future.

    The question that hasn’t been asked yet is, would these conservative protesters (see YouTube video of their nasty demonstration here, courtesy of Japan Probe) have the balls to do this to a 13-year-old girl if she were Japanese? Somehow I doubt it. I think they’re expecting to get away with their (in my view heartless) invective just because Noriko’s foreign. Anyway, an excerpt of the JT article follows.

    Posted in Discussions, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 14 Comments »

    Yomiuri: NJ students brought to J universities by the bushelful, but given little job assistance

    Posted by arudou debito on 14th April 2009

    Yomiuri: According to the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), the number of foreign students studying in Japan at universities, graduate schools and junior colleges has been on the rise in recent years. As of May 1 last year, a record 123,829 foreign students were studying in Japan, up 5,331 from the previous year. About 60 percent of the foreign students came from China, followed by students from South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam, according to JASSO.

    Many students from Asia hope to work in Japan. However, only 10,262 students were able to obtain working visas in 2007 after finding jobs. Many students ended up returning to their home countries after failing to find work.

    The employment situation for foreign students has gone from bad to worse due to the economic downturn. According to the Tokyo Employment Service Center for Foreigners–a job-placement office for foreign residents–there were 252 job listings targeting foreign students graduating in March available at the center as of Jan. 31, down 54 from the same period last year.

    COMMENT: Continuing with the theme of “bringing people over but not taking care of them” (a la the “Trainees” and the Nikkei), here we have GOJ entities beefing enrollment of depopulated Japanese universities with NJ students, then leaving them twisting in the wind when it comes to job searches.

    Posted in Education, Immigration & Assimilation, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 16 Comments »

    Economist: First mention of Japan’s “two lost decades”: Calls into question efficacy of “Japan Inc” business model

    Posted by arudou debito on 13th April 2009

    The Economist (London): To lose one decade may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. Japan’s economy stagnated in the 1990s after its stockmarket and property bubbles burst, but its more recent economic performance looks even more troubling. Industrial production plunged by 38% in the year to February, to its lowest level since 1983. Real GDP fell at an annualised rate of 12% in the fourth quarter of 2008, and may have declined even faster in the first three months of this year. The OECD forecasts that Japan’s GDP will shrink by 6.6% in 2009 as a whole, wiping out all the gains from the previous five years of recovery.

    If that turns out to be true, Japan’s economy will have grown at an average of 0.6% a year since it first stumbled in 1991 (see top chart). Thanks to deflation as well, the value of GDP in nominal terms in the first quarter of this year probably fell back to where it was in 1993. For 16 years the economy has, in effect, gone nowhere…

    Japan’s second lost decade holds worrying lessons for other rich economies. Its large fiscal stimulus succeeded in preventing a depression in the 1990s after its bubble burst—and others are surely correct to follow today. But Japan’s failure to spur a strong domestic recovery a decade later suggests that America and Europe may also have a long, hard journey ahead.

    COMMENT: I think the evidence is mounting that using the Americans as a economic crutch was the key to Japan’s postwar growth. If Japan wants to stick to the same “crutch economy” to power itself, it had better shut its uyoku up and get friendlier with China, because that’s probably going to be the export purchaser of the future. Otherwise, consider the consumer-led economy being proposed by The Economist in this article.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Japanese Government, Tangents | 4 Comments »

    Sunday Tangent: NPR interview with late scholar John Hope Franklin: feel the parallels

    Posted by arudou debito on 12th April 2009

    Sunday Tangent: An interview with the late John Hope Franklin, historian of the Negro experience in North America. I excerpt a section where he’s trying to buy a house in Brooklyn. Should ring some bells with any NJ trying to rent a place and/or get credit in Japan. One more historical template for why we need a law against racial discrimination here too.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Education, Exclusionism, History, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Tangents | 2 Comments »

    Mainichi: Kofu Laundry taken to cleaners over abuses of Chinese “trainees”

    Posted by arudou debito on 11th April 2009

    Mainichi: The Kofu Labor Standards Inspection Office has sent documents to public prosecutors accusing a dry-cleaning company president of violating labor and wage laws by making Chinese trainees work for pay below the minimum wage…

    Uchida was reported to prosecutors over the alleged failure to pay about 11.15 million yen to six female trainees from China aged in their 20s and 30s, during the period between February 2007 and July 2008.

    The office also reported a 37-year-old certified social insurance labor consultant from Chuo, Yamanashi Prefecture, to public prosecutors accusing him of assisting in the violation of both laws by providing assistance to Uchida and other related parties.

    Yomiuri: The Justice Ministry says it has found irregularities at a 452 companies and organizations that hosted foreign trainees last year.

    Officials of the ministry said it had confirmed that the companies and organizations violated labor laws, such as by paying lower-than-minimum wages to foreign trainees. Of the total, 169 cases of entities making trainees work unpaid overtime were found and 155 cases concerned other labor law violations such as payment of illegally low wages.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Labor issues | 4 Comments »

    See I told you so #2: Oct-Jan 1000 “Trainees” repatriated, returning to debts.

    Posted by arudou debito on 10th April 2009

    Mainichi: More than 1,000 foreign trainees involved in government programs were forced to return home as sponsor companies have been suffering from the deteriorating economy, a government survey has revealed… “Most of the trainees took out a loan of about 700,000 yen to 1 million yen to come to Japan,” said a representative of Advocacy Network for Foreign Trainees in Tokyo’s Taito Ward. “If they return home before their contract period ends, they will be left in debt.

    COMMENT: Here come the stats. The “Trainees” (mostly Chinese workers in Japanese farms and factories), which I discussed in part in my most recent Japan Times article, are being sent home in large numbers, to face debts. Oh well, they’re not Nikkei. They don’t get any assistance. Just the promise of a “review” by May 2009, something people have been clamoring for since at least November 2006! Yet it only took a month or so for the GOJ to come up with and inaugurate something to help the Nikkei, after all (see above JT article). But again, wrong blood.

    I think we’ll see a drop in the number of registered NJ for the first time in more than four decades this year. Maybe that’ll be See I told you so #3. I hope I’m wrong this time, however.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 8 Comments »

    Peru’s Fujimori really really gets his: 25 years jail for death squads

    Posted by arudou debito on 9th April 2009

    LIMA, Peru (AP) — Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison Tuesday for death squad killings and kidnappings during his 1990s struggle against Shining Path insurgents.

    The court convicted the 70-year-old former leader, who was widely credited for rescuing Peru from the brink of economic and political collapse, of “crimes against humanity” including two operations by the military hit squad that claimed 25 lives…

    Fujimori, who proclaimed his innocence in a roar when the 15-month televised trial began, barely looked up, uttering only four words — “I move to nullify” — before turning, waving to his children, and walking out of the courtroom at the Lima police base where he has been held and tried since his 2007 extradition from Chile…

    Fujimori’s congresswoman daughter, Keiko, called the conviction foreordained and “full of hate and vengeance.” She said it would only strengthen her candidacy for the 2011 presidential race.

    “Fujimorism will continue to advance. Today we’re first in the polls and will continue to be so,” she said outside the courtroom. She has vowed to pardon her father if elected.

    Posted in Good News, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Lawsuits | 12 Comments »

    Friend requests advice on how to approach JHS PTA, regarding repainting rundown school

    Posted by arudou debito on 8th April 2009

    Dear Debito.org: I’m looking for advice here. I went to my child’s JHS today for about the 4th time in the last year. Again I was struck and depressed by how dingy it looked. It got me to thinking that the kids don’t take pride in the place and this leads to and has led to a lot of serious problems.

    I came home and wrote the following and am wondering if it or I can do any good. Can I translate this and say this, to the School and Principal? to the School Board?, to the Mayor?, publicly to the PTA at their general meeting in 2 weeks? Is it too rude? Could you say it more diplomatically? How? Would you? Could you? Does it have a chance of succeeding?

    Please feel free to comment on any one of the paragraphs numbered below.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Education, Immigration & Assimilation | 17 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE: Apr 7 2009: ‘Golden parachutes’ for Nikkei only mark failure of race-based policy

    Posted by arudou debito on 7th April 2009

    Japan Times: Under an emergency measure drawn up by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party only last month, from April 1 the Japanese government is offering nikkei — i.e. workers of Japanese descent on “long-term resident” visas — a repatriation bribe. Applicants get ¥300,000, plus ¥200,000 for each family dependent, if they “return to their own country,” and bonuses if they go back sooner…

    Let this scheme sink in for a minute. We now have close to half a million nikkei living here, some of whom have been here up to 20 years, paying in their taxes and social security. They worked long hours at low wages to keep our factories competitive in the world economy. Although these policies have doubled Japan’s foreign population since 1990, few foreigners have been assimilated. Now that markets have soured, foreigners are the first to be laid off, and their unassimilated status has made them unmarketable in the government’s eyes. So now policy has become, “Train 1 percent (5,000) to stay, bribe the rest to be gone and become some other country’s problem.”

    Sound a bit odd? Now consider this: This scheme only applies to nikkei, not to other non-Japanese workers also here at Japan’s invitation. Thus it’s the ultimate failure of a “returnee visa” regime founded upon racist paradigms.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Pension System | 13 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 6, 2009

    Posted by arudou debito on 7th April 2009

    Table of Contents:
    NEWS:
    1) See I told you so #1: Newcomer PR outnumber Oldcomer Zainichis as of 2007
    2) NPA enforcing Hotel Management Law against exclusionary Prince Hotel Tokyo
    3) Yomiuri: NPA finally cracking down on Internet BBS threats and defamation
    4) Mainichi: Tourism to Japan plunges by over 40% compared to last year
    5) Metropolis Mag on how to get your housing deposit (shikikin) back

    BLUES:
    6) GOJ bribes Nikkei NJ with Golden Parachutes: Go home and don’t come back
    7) Ekonomisuto March 10 2009 re worsening job and living conditions for Nikkei Brazilians et al.
    8 ) Mainichi: Lawson hiring more NJ, offering Vietnamese scholarships
    9) Japan Times on Japan’s emerging NJ policing laws. Nichibenren: “violation of human rights”
    10) Mark in Yayoi on cop checkpoint #123, and “Cops”-style TV show transcript
    11) Japanese also fingerprinted, at Narita, voluntarily, for “convenience” (not terrorism or crime)

    REVIEWS:
    12) Thoughts on Suo Masayuki’s movie “I just didn’t do it”: A must-see.
    13) Audience reactions to documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES roadshow March 21-April 1
    Next showing Sapporo Apr 23, organizing next roadshow August-September
    14) Debito.org has citations in 37 books, according to Amazon
    15) The definition of “Gaijin” according to Tokyu Hands Nov 17, 2008

    … and finally… THE MUSE:
    16) Complete tangent: 1940 Herblock cartoon on inaction towards Hitler

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Next Japan Times column Tues April 7, on GOJ bribe to repatriate Nikkei

    Posted by arudou debito on 6th April 2009

    Tomorrow, Tuesday April 7, sees my next Japan Times column: 1500 words on the GOJ’s latest wheeze to reduce unemployment figures and welfare costs by reexporting imported NJ labor.

    As of April 1, Nikkei Brazilians etc. are being offered 300,000 yen to go back to their home countries. That’s right: Only Nikkeis. It’s the ultimate bellwether of a failed policy of bringing people in, leaching them of their best years of their lives as work units, then bribing them to leave before they can claim their investments in taxes and social services. Ersatz Golden Parachutes.

    And it’s only for Nikkeis, not the Chinese etc. “trainees” who have likewise been fired, despite working longer hours for lower pay and no social benefits. They stand to lose, according to SOUR STRAWBERRIES, their very livelihoods even back in China as they default on their travel loans. But as far as the GOJ goes, they have the wrong blood. Sorry.

    Anyway, do get a copy of the JT tomorrow (Weds in the provinces).

    Posted in Articles & Publications | No Comments »

    WWII war flag with signatures: Looking for people they belong to

    Posted by arudou debito on 6th April 2009

    A rather unusual request from overseas today. I received word from some Americans that have a Japanese World War II artifact they would like to repatriate. Here’s their communique, forwarded with permission, altered for privacy, and a picture of a flag from a group of fighting men.

    Posted in History, Tangents | 14 Comments »

    Review of documentary Sour Strawberries by an attendee, next showing Sapporo Apr 23

    Posted by arudou debito on 5th April 2009

    A quick positive review from Japan Visitor site on documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES — Japan’s Hidden Guest Workers. Excerpt here.

    If you’d like a showing in your area like the one mentioned above, be in touch with me at debito@debito.org. Planning another nationwide tour between late August and early September.

    Next showing March 23, L-Plaza, Sapporo

    Posted in Labor issues, Speech materials | 2 Comments »

    Tangent: 1940 Herblock cartoon on inaction towards Hitler

    Posted by arudou debito on 4th April 2009

    A quick tangent for this Saturday: A 1940 Herblock cartoon I found (one of my favorites ever) demonstrating how people will make dithering arguments against the inevitable: in the cartoon’s case against doing something to stop Hitler. Now compare that with the dithering arguments against doing something to stop racial discrimination in Japan, with a law against it.

    Posted in History, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Tangents | 17 Comments »

    Mainichi: Lawson hiring more NJ, offering Vietnamese scholarships

    Posted by arudou debito on 3rd April 2009

    On the heels of yesterday’s post depicting Japan’s latest wheeze to cover up it’s failed Nikkei import labor policy, here’s a bit of good news: Somebody trying to do their bit to help keep unemployed NJs’ heads above water. Lawson convenience stores.

    I smiled until I saw how small the numbers being employed full time were, despite the “quadrupling” claimed in the first paragraph. But every little bit helps. So does Lawson’s offer for scholarships for Vietnamese exchange students (see Japanese below).

    Many times when I go into convenience stores in the Tokyo area, I’m surprised how many Chinese staff I see. Anyway, patronize Lawson if they’re trying to do good for the stricken NJ community.

    Posted in Good News, Labor issues | 10 Comments »

    GOJ bribes Nikkei NJ with Golden Parachutes: Go home and don’t come back

    Posted by arudou debito on 2nd April 2009

    Japan began offering money Wednesday for unemployed foreigners of Japanese ancestry to go home, mostly to Brazil and Peru, to stave off what officials said posed a serious unemployment problem.

    Thousands of foreigners of Japanese ancestry, who had been hired on temporary or referral contracts, have lost their jobs recently, mostly at manufacturers such as Toyota Motor Corp. and its affiliates, which are struggling to cope with a global downturn…

    The government will give 300,000 yen ($3,000) to an unemployed foreigner of Japanese ancestry who wishes to leave the country, and 200,000 ($2,000) each to family members, the ministry said. But they must forgo returning to Japan. The budget for the aid is still undecided, it said.

    COMMENT: Here’s the ultimate betrayal: Hey Gaijin, er, Nikkei! Here’s a pile of money. Leave and don’t come back. So what if it only applies to people with Japanese blood (not, for example, Chinese). And so what if we’ve invited you over here for up to two decades, taken your taxes and most of your lives over here as work units, and fired you first when the economy went sour. Just go home. You’re now a burden on Us Japanese. You don’t belong here, regardless of how much you’ve invested in our society and saved our factories from being priced out of the market. You don’t deserve our welfare benefits, job training, or other social benefits that are entitled to real residents and contributors to this country.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 27 Comments »

    Yomiuri: NPA finally cracking down on Internet BBS threats and defamation

    Posted by arudou debito on 1st April 2009

    Yomiuri: Police on Friday sent papers to prosecutors on six people suspected of defaming or threatening to physically harm comedian Smiley Kikuchi in messages they posted on his blog after groundlessly concluding he was involved in the murder of a high school girl in 1989…

    It is the first time a case has been built simultaneously against multiple flamers over mass attacks on a blog. The police’s reaction represents a strong warning against making online comments that cross the line from freedom of expression to defamation or threats.

    COMMENT: Now if only Japan’s police would only enforce past pertinent Civil Court decisions…

    Posted in 2ちゃんねる, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media | 3 Comments »