Asahi: Multiethnic Japan in LA’s Little Tokyo

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog.  Here’s a tidy little survey of how multiculturalism can happen in a (formerly-) Japanese-dominated community:  LA’s Little Tokyo.  What’s interesting is that not only is the uniqueness been diluted (as the area is no longer the the exclusive province of, say, Japanese food), but also people with different (and amalgamated) ethnic backgrounds have moved in.  

Which to me demonstrates that Japanese are not in themselves culturally xenophobic — it’s more the enforcement of exclusivity on the part of the Japanese government (including elite xenophobic politicians, who simply can’t envision a multicultural Japan), which actively create policies (including short-term revolving-door work visas and perpetual contract work, barriers to accessing credit, unequal registration procedures, lack of protections under the law or from law enforcement, and other things necessary for stable lifestyles) that discourage NJ from either staying too long in Japan or getting too comfortable.  Remove the GOJ from the equation, and I think you see what would happen below.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Multiethnic flavor permeates Little Tokyo in L.A.
BY TAKASHI HORIUCHI, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
IHT/Asahi: April 20,2009  Courtesy of Dave Spector

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200904200051.html

LOS ANGELES–The smell of Korean barbecue sauce wafts through the air as Chinese and Thai conversations add flavor to the street buzz.

Although the signs of many shops and restaurants remain in Japanese, this bustling downtown area called Little Tokyo for most of the past century is certainly not what it used to be.

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.

Symbolic of the town’s “ethnic crucible” today is a food stall that opens on Thursday evenings near the Japanese American National Museum.

Mark Manguera, a Filipino-American, operates the stall that sells tacos with Korean-style barbecued meat filling.

Enticed by the sauce’s sweet smell, people form a long line, many of them Filipinos, Thais, Koreans and other Asian immigrants. Three tacos cost $5.

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

At Miyako Hotel in the town’s center, eight of 10 guests used to be Japanese. Now, seven in 10 are Americans.

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.

Japanese emigration to the United States began in the late 19th century. Around that time, a Japanese fisherman opened a Japanese restaurant where Little Tokyo now stands.

The moniker was given to the town around 1905.

But the Asian Exclusion Act of 1924, which virtually banned immigration from Asia, dampened the Japanese inflow. And after Nikkeijin were sent to internment camps during World War II, the town was briefly called Bronzeville because of the many black residents there.

After the war, Japanese returned to the town. And during Japan’s bubble era of the 1980s, many Japanese businesses set up shop.

The current Nikkeijin society comprises mainly descendants of early immigrants. Most were born as Americans and educated in the United States.

The younger Nikkei people do not need Little Tokyo, said Yukikazu Nagashima, who had long served as editor for the Japanese section of the Rafu Shimpo newspaper.

He said those pursuing professional careers as doctors and lawyers believe they cannot succeed if they rely solely on the Nikkeijin society.

The town has also lost its significance as a place to support the Japanese community. For example, Japanese foods that were available only in Little Tokyo can now be found throughout the city.

Meanwhile, the Korean presence has gained weight.

Last year, Korean investors bought the Little Tokyo Shopping Center, which housed Japanese supermarket Mitsuwa Marketplace. The center is now called Little Tokyo Marketplace and the store Little Tokyo Galleria Market.

The Japanese and Koreans form the largest groups of residents in Little Tokyo, at roughly the same size.

The ratio of Korean residents is especially high at homes for seniors, including the 300-unit Little Tokyo Towers, where the number of Korean households rose more than threefold over seven years from 30 in 2000.

And 74 Koreans make up the largest group of people living at the 100-unit Miyako Gardens.

Korean immigration sharply increased first in the mid-1950s, when Korean women married to American soldiers after the Korean War crossed the Pacific.

The second wave started after 1965, when the national-origin quotas on immigrants were lifted.

In the past decade, more than 16,000 Koreans obtained U.S. citizenship annually, compared with about 2,000 Japanese.

Koreatown, about 7 kilometers west of Little Tokyo, continues to expand. But residences for seniors are short in supply there.

So when Japanese leave Little Tokyo, Koreans move in.

Pastor Hong Sun Kim, born in South Korea and raised in Japan, promotes exchanges between Japanese and Koreans.

Kim, 39, works at the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC), a social welfare organization, and is in charge of care for Korean residents.

In January 2008, he set up the Little Tokyo Korean and Japanese Better Relations Committee with residents from both sides.

The committee held a Japan-Korea friendship concert in August, with the profits used to produce bilingual publicity bulletins.

Kim admits that Japanese-Korean friction has also crossed the Pacific.

Koreans told him once that someone snipped off the buds of the shrubby althaea, South Korea’s national flower, that they had planted.

Japanese have asked why a Korean like him works at the center for Japanese residents.

Back in Japan, Kim was known as a “zainichi” Korean resident. During his military service in South Korea, he was labeled with a derogatory term meaning “half-Japanese.”

Kim’s work for Japan-Korea exchanges is part of his effort to pursue his own identity.

“To bring down prejudice, there is no way but to eliminate misunderstandings through dialogue,” Kim said.

Meanwhile, there are also efforts to revive Little Tokyo as a Japanese community.

“We don’t want to say they (non-Japanese) are not welcome,” said LTSC Executive Director Bill Watanabe, a third-generation Japanese-American. “We want to tell them to keep Japan-ness, and just respect our history.”

Watanabe, 65, who was born in a wartime internment camp, has high expectations for a new Budokan sports facility to be built in the town at the cost of $15 million.

Besides a martial arts hall, it will have a multipurpose gym that can hold four separate basketball games.

When completed in five years, it could be used to hold the annual Los Angeles Nikkeijin basketball tournament, Watanabe said.

“It can bring young Nikkei back to L.T. (Little Tokyo),” he said. “We want young Japanese-American families to use it. Parents can tell their kids about their roots in L.T.”

A plan to build a Nikkei Center, a residence-office-shopping complex, is also under way to attract Japanese businesses.

“We would like to make it a showcase of Japan’s state-of-the-art technology by employing energy-saving technology and other features in the building,” said Junichi Ihara, the Japanese consul-general in Los Angeles.(IHT/Asahi: April 20,2009)
ENDS

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog.  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.  Mark your calendars. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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)

6 minutes’ walk from Shimbashi station (JR Line, Karasumori-guchi)

Bills are now under discussion in the Diet to impose tighter control on foreign residents.

This is information from Amnesty International Japan regarding controversial bills under discussion in the Diet to impose tighter control on foreign residents. I would appreciate if you could pass these to anyone interested.

Brochures in different languages are available as below (keep reading):

Sonoko Kawakami
Amnesty International Japan

Sonoko Kawakami
Campaign Coordinator
Amnesty International Japan
2-2-4F Kanda-NIshiki-cho, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 101-0054 JAPAN
TEL:+81-3-3518-6777 FAX:+81-3-3518-6778
E-mail:ksonoko@amnesty.or.jp

English
http://www.repacp.org/aacp/pdf/MultiLang/20090420LeafENv01.pdf

Contents:

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

Tighter regulations on foreign residents

A new registration card with IC chip will replace the current foreign resident registration card.

Bills revising the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act and Basic Resident Registration Law were submitted to the Diet to create a new residence control system and resident certificate system for foreigners.

Under the new system, the Immigration Bureau will collect and control personal information on foreign residents. A new foreign resident registration card with an IC chip will be issued to replace the current registration card.

Further, the revision of the Basic Resident Registration Law aims to establish a resident certificate system for foreign residents in order to provide administrative services.

The new registration card must be carried at all times.

The new registration card will be issued to foreign residents who are officially permitted to stay in Japan for 3 months or longer. Foreigners must always carry the new registration card when going out, or be subject to penalties.

You will be required to provide a wide range of information to the Immigration Bureau.

1. The new registration card will be issued at the Immigration Bureau, rather than at the local municipal office.
2. Depending on your visa status, you will be required to report a wide range of information to the Immigration Bureau. Failure to report is punishable by a fine, and possible revocation of visa (see the following points).

Foreigners officially permitted to stay in Japan for 3 months or longer
You must report any change of address to the municipal office within 14 days when you move. The office will send the address change to the Immigration Bureau.

Your visa status can be cancelled if you don’t report within 90 days.

Foreigners with “Spouse of Japanese National” or “Spouse of Permanent Resident” visa status
You must report to the Immigration Bureau within 14 days in the case of divorce, or death of your spouse.

Your visa status can be cancelled if you are continuously “inactive as a spouse”, e.g. due to separation, for 3 months or longer.

Foreigners with working visas including “Specialist in Humanities/ International Services”, “Engineer”, “Skilled Labor”, “College Student” or “Trainee”
You must report to the Immigration Bureau the name and address of the organization to which you belong. If you leave the reported organization and join another (i.e. change jobs or schools), you must report it. In the case of “Specialist in Humanities/ International Services”, “Engineer”, or “Skilled Labor”, you must report to the Immigration Bureau within 14 days if your contract ends or you enter into a new contract

Your visa status can be cancelled if you do not conduct the permitted activity continuously for a period of 3 months or longer.

Undocumented residents and asylum seekers become invisible.

Under the revised law, undocumented residents and asylum seekers will not be issued the new foreign resident IC card. In addition, they cannot register as residents at municipal offices unless they have permission for provisional stay or landing permission for temporary refuge. It is of grave concern that they will face even greater difficulties in going to school or hospital.

◆ Immigration Bureau will collect and control personal information on foreigners

It will be technically possible for the Immigration Bureau to match a foreigner’s personal information with the data gathered from his/her employer or other institution, and use it when deciding the change of visa status or extension of period of stay.

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

Spanish
http://www.repacp.org/aacp/pdf/MultiLang/20090420LeafSPv01.pdf

Japanese
http://www.repacp.org/aacp/pdf/MultiLang/20090420LeafJPv01.pdf

Jananese with furigana
http://www.repacp.org/aacp/pdf/MultiLang/20090420LeafJPrubyv01.pdf

Best regards,

Sonoko Kawakami
Amnesty International Japan

Sonoko Kawakami
Campaign Coordinator
Amnesty International Japan
2-2-4F Kanda-NIshiki-cho, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 101-0054 JAPAN
TEL:+81-3-3518-6777 FAX:+81-3-3518-6778
E-mail:ksonoko@amnesty.or.jp

ENDS

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog. As one of the best bits of good news that came out last year regarding the international community in Japan (see my top five published at the beginning of the year in the Japan Times) comes 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 (we’ve talked about it on Debito.org here in the past).

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?

Commenter Jim in Osaka yesterday mentioned that he was displeased that his Japanese wife and child got stimulated, but he didn’t; subsequent commenters noted that NJ are on a separate system, but he’ll get it eventually. 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. I apparently have to wait another few weeks before Sapporo ladles our monies out. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

12000yeng_page_112000yeng_page_212000yeng_page_312000yeng_page_412000yenj_page_112000yenj_page_212000yenj_page_312000yenj_page_4

ENDS

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog. Turning the keyboard over to “Tokyo Reader”, who tells an interesting tale about how people are playing with contracts regarding residences for NJ, and how rents can be renegotiated if the asking price for new entrants in your building (or area) is lower than the current rent you’re paying. His redacted housing contract at the very bottom. But first, a KTO article from Michael Fox regarding Kyoutaku, the government escrow system which can hold your rent while a dispute with your landlord is in progress. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Rent Adjustment Problems

by Michael Fox, courtesy of the author

Published in Kansai Time Out March 2009

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.

First, you should negotiate face to face with your landlord. Both parties should bargain in good faith. If your rent is reduced sufficiently, then the problem is solved.

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.

If you start kyoutaku, you may once again negotiate with your landlord face to face. If no conciliation is reached, the next step is civil arbitration (minji-choutei). The arbitrator is an ordinary citizen who listens to both sides and encourgages a conciliation. You need not employ a lawyer, and you may bring a translator to help with language concerns. In the unlikely event that a conciliation is not reached, the issue may be continued in open court.

Depositing rent into escrow is also recommended for the following situations:

1) Several different people request the rent and you cannot decide whom to pay.

2) Your landlord dies, and you do not know whom to pay.

3) You want to pay the rent but it is refused by the party designated to receive it.

It is important to pay your rent every month. As it is extremely difficult to evict tenants in Japan, the rent may be refused because the landlord is looking for a way to boot you out. Even if your building is sold, and the new owner wants it demolished, you are entitled to a consolation payment, which may very well be equivalent to one or more year’s rent.

For more information, contact your local Legal Affairs Bureau. Many locales offer assistance in foreign languages.
Michael H. Fox
Kakogawa

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

Tokyo Reader:

Dear Debito.org. Here is one for the blog community.

For over a year now, I have rented an apartment in Tokyo through a management company I will call “HT”.

The building I rent in has eight different 1K apartments. For many months last year, a number of the rooms remained vacant. This was easy to tell based off things like lighting, the level of refuse in the garbage area, and even electric meters whose dial seldom moved. Plus, it was rare to see or hear anyone enter or leave the building, in which all apartments exit to the outside.

For what I know, these may be rented out on a monthly mansion basis, in the style of a Leopalace 21. This is the method where a tenant pays a lump-sum amount to secure the apartment for a specific time period. There are usually no additional fees, even for utilities. It is an “all-in” pricing, and often with a discount for signing up a larger number of months.

I am fairly confident that at least one other resident has a lease-style arrangement. This would be the standard one in Japan, where an original lease is contracted for a term of many months, where a security deposit is given, and the rent paid on a monthly basis. Sometimes a “key deposit” is involved. The key deposit is said to be additional rent paid at the beginning to help the landlord secure a profitable leasing in the event the tenancy ends early. But it’s not required to make a housing arrangement a lease in Japan.

Utilities appear to be included in the rent. The apartments are furnished.

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.

I read that LHLL Article 28 stipulates that a lease over a period of time (several months) but less than a year, will be considered a lease with an indefinite period. Additionally, the LHLL requires six-months’ notice for a landlord to end the lease.

Apparently, a rental relationship that fits a “Loan for use” is governed by different terms. My suspicion is that a hotel room would fit this type of contract. And maybe the Leopalace system, since the entire rental arrangement seems to be made to fit.

But I don’t think that any landlord who decides to post a “Monthly Mansions” sign on the side of the building, and gets the occasional tenant, becomes one who can write a standard lease contract and then decide whether or not the Land & House Lease Law applies.

My original lease contract looks like, well, a lease. The initial term was for three months, and there was a one-month security deposit required. There is no mention of “Loan for Use”, Civil Code article 593, or anything else that would suggest that my lease is anything other than a lease. I have simply been paying rent monthly along the way.

There is one term that references a one-day eviction notice, but I think all landlord leases include this type of language regardless of what the actual law says.

And if for some reason Company HT were correct on “Loan for Use”, if I am paying the advertised price I fail to see where I should have to pay more. Is my 1K simply more valuable because I would have to move from it?

Tokyo Reader

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

lease-top-pagelease-page-1
lease-page-2

lease-page-3

ENDS

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog. I spotted this recent Economist article (I have a paper subscription; call me retro) over lunch last week, 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.

Enough comment from me. Here’s the article. It reflects none of the background I give above, sadly. Hokkaido’s perpetual non-player status means we’re skipped over again. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Energy in Japan
Raising the stakes

Apr 8th 2009 | TOKYO
From The Economist print edition

http://www.economist.com/business/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13447453

Low prices and a strong yen give Japanese firms an opportunity to buy abroad

WHEN Energy Frontier, an enormous tanker, glided into Tokyo Bay on April 6th from Sakhalin Island, she was not just carrying the first shipment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from a problematic Russian venture, under a deal signed 15 years ago. She was also bearing the symbolic weight of Japan’s aspirations to greater energy security. Lacking natural resources, Japan imports more than 95% of its energy. Almost all its oil and a quarter of its LNG come from the Middle East. To reach Japan ships must travel for 20 days, passing near pirate-infested waters. Sakhalin, by contrast, is just three days away.

In 2006 the Japanese government called on industry to increase its ownership of foreign energy projects to cover 40% of Japan’s energy needs, up from 15% at the time. The idea was to make the country less dependent on the spot market in case of trouble by taking stakes in various energy projects around the world. But as prices soared and China became a keen buyer, slow-moving Japanese firms found themselves being shut out of deals.

Today, however, many energy projects are starved of capital because of the credit crunch, energy prices are low and the yen is strong. Since mid-2008 the price of crude oil has fallen by two-thirds and the yen had at one point appreciated by as much as 20% against the dollar. This has given Japanese energy firms a window of opportunity to make foreign acquisitions.

In January Nippon Oil bought rights to oilfields in Papua New Guinea. Inpex, Japan’s largest oil-development company, has acquired rights to oil in South America and Australia. A consortium that includes Nippon Oil and Inpex is vying for rights to a project in southern Iraq. And this month Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s president, visited Tokyo to sign energy deals.

“We have been very quietly shifting the gravity of our strategy from exploration and ‘greenfield’ projects to acquisitions and exchange deals,” says Tadashi Maeda of the Japan Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC), a state-backed lender for foreign projects. Deals rather than digging lets Japan obtain resources faster, he says. JBIC can put around $12 billion a year towards energy acquisitions.

The Japanese government’s 40% target is immaterial, Mr Maeda asserts. Instead, JBIC’s aim is to ensure that the market functions smoothly and that the fuel can be transported to Japan if necessary. A stake in an oilfield does not always entitle the owner to a share of its output, rather than a share of the revenue when the oil is sold on the open market. But ownership helps absorb the shock of sudden price increases or tight supply. And some contracts do specify that in the event of a crisis, output is reserved for the owners.

So far the Japanese firms’ deals have been small, raising concerns that they may be missing their chance to buy at a favourable time, says David Hewitt of CLSA, a broker. Yet the hesitation is understandable. Lower energy prices means certain projects are no longer viable. Some firms, including Mitsubishi and Mitsui, are expected to have to write off portions of recent investments, making them wary of new deals. Even when capital is available, taking on debt can jeopardise a firm’s credit rating. And the recession has reduced Japan’s energy use by 10-20%.

Japanese executives also complain that Chinese firms, which have plenty of capital from state-run banks and face less pressure to show profits, are overpaying and driving up prices. JBIC encourages Japanese firms to form consortiums to increase their heft. In February Toshiba, Tokyo Power and JBIC took a joint 20% stake in Uranium One of Canada—a deal that suits everybody’s interests but which no party could have achieved on its own.

The shipment of LNG that arrived in Tokyo this month came from the giant Sakhalin II project, set up in the 1990s by Royal Dutch Shell, an Anglo-Dutch oil giant, in partnership with Mitsubishi, Mitsui and other Western firms. At the time it was the only big energy project in Russia that did not involve a local partner. That changed in late 2006 when Shell and its Japanese partners reluctantly agreed to sell a 50% stake to Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled gas giant. This highlighted the political risks involved in the pursuit of energy security—and why having the government represented, via a state-backed lender like JBIC, is not a bad idea.

The Sakhalin II project will produce as much as 9.6m tonnes of LNG a year, 60% of which will go to Japan, accounting for about 7% of its LNG imports. For Japan, the project’s proximity is its main appeal. Parts of Sakhalin were Japanese territory in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and were ceded after Japan’s defeat in the second world war. Today’s commercial battles are less bloody, but no less intense.

ENDS

Economist.com blog piles on re Nikkei Repatriation Bribe

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog. Here’s a brief from The Economist, also questioning the wisdom of the Nikkei Repatriation Bribe, as similar influential media in yesterday’s blog entry did. Courtesy of Norik. Feel free to comment there as here. (Not sure if I’ll have access to my blog during the weekend, so please be patient with comments, sorry.) Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

April 23, 2009
And don’t come back
Posted by: Economist.com | NEW YORK

Categories: Immigration
http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2009/04/and_dont_come_back.cfm

PROTECTIONISM is rearing its ugly head again, in unusual ways. Japan is offering money to unemployed low-skill immigrants if they leave the country and do not return. Well, they can come back as tourists, but they give up the right to live and work in Japan again (unless they transform into high-skill professionals).

Low-skilled workers are an odd target for Japan. The country has so few immigrants to begin with; they make up less than 2% of the population. (Most immigrant labourers are ethnic Japanese coming from Latin America.) Given the demographic pressures facing Japan, the government should be begging immigrants to come. Perhaps they have plans to counteract this policy with a programme to encourage Japanese women to have more babies.

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.

Low-skill foreigners also provide cheap services to natives, such as childcare and care for the elderly (something Japan needs). This frees up family members to pursue other work that pays more than what a low-skill immigrant demands, but less than the market wage if only natives did the job.

The Czech Republic and Spain have also bribed foreigners to leave, but at least they will let them come back. Japan is pursuing this policy because its concerned about rising unemployment, but presumably it will need immigrants when the economy improves. Jiro Kawasaki, a former health minister and senior lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party explains:

“Naturally, we don’t want those same people back in Japan after a couple of months,” Mr. Kawasaki said. “Japanese taxpayers would ask, ‘What kind of ridiculous policy is this?’”

It’s a good question.

ENDS

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog. Friend MS was cleaning out his files and found this. Mainichi Daily News July 19, 2000. 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 1) biker gangs told their victims to blame foreigners, 2) a murderer and his accomplice tried to say a “blond” guy killed his mother, and 3) 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. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

mdn07192000

ENDS

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog. Three articles that echo much of the sentiment I expressed in my April 7, 2009 Japan Times article on the Nikkei repatriation bribe. First TIME Magazine, then a blurb (that’s all) from the Asahi on how returned Nikkei are faring overseas, and than finally the New York Times with some good quotes from the architect of this policy, the LDP’s Kawasaki Jiro (who amazingly calls US immigration policy “a failure”, and uses it to justify kicking out Japan’s immigrants). Arudou Debito in Sapporo

PS:  Here’s a political comic based upon the NY Times photo accompanying the article below.  Courtesy of creator RDV:

http://politicomix.blogspot.com/2009/04/foreigners-fuck-off.html

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

TIME Magazine, Monday, Apr. 20, 2009
Japan to Immigrants: Thanks, But You Can Go Home Now
By Coco Masters / Tokyo,
Courtesy Matt Dioguardi and KG
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1892469,00.html

When union leader Francisco Freitas has something to say, Japan’s Brazilian community listens. The 49-year old director of the Japan Metal and Information Machinery Workers called up the Brazilian Embassy in Tokyo April 14, fuming over a form being passed out at employment offices in Hamamatsu City, southwest of Tokyo. Double-sided and printed on large sheets of paper, the form enables unemployed workers of Japanese descent — and their family members — to secure government money for tickets home. It sounded like a good deal to the Brazilians for whom it was intended. The fine print in Portuguese, however, revealed a catch that soured the deal: it’s a one-way ticket with an agreement not to return.

Japan’s offer to minority communities in need has spawned the ire of those whom it intends to help. It is one thing to be laid off in an economic crisis. It is quite another to be unemployed and to feel unwanted by the country where you’ve settled. That’s how Freitas and other Brazilians feel since the Japanese government started the program to pay $3,000 to each jobless foreigner of Japanese descent (called Nikkei) and $2,000 to each family member to return to their country of origin. The money isn’t the problem, the Brazilians say; it’s the fact that they will not be allowed to return until economic and employment conditions improve — whenever that may be. “When Nikkei go back and can’t return, for us that’s discrimination,” says Freitas, who has lived in Japan with his family for 12 years.

With Japan’s unemployment rate on the rise — it reached a three-year high of 4.4% in February — the government is frantic to find solutions to stanch the flow of job losses and to help the unemployed. The virtual collapse of Japan’s export-driven economy, in which exports have nearly halved compared to the first two months of last year, has forced manufacturers to cut production. Temporary and contract workers at automotive and electronics companies have been hit especially hard. Hamamatsu has 18,000 Brazilian residents, about 5% of the total in Japan, and is home to the nation’s largest Brazilian community. After immigration laws relaxed in 1990, making it easier for foreigners to live and work in Japan, Brazilians have grown to be the country’s third largest minority, after Koreans and Chinese. But as jobs grow scarce and money runs out, some Nikkei ironically now face the same tough decision their Japanese relatives did 100 years ago, when they migrated to Brazil.

Japan can scarcely afford to lose part of its labor force, or close itself off further to foreigners. Japan, with its aging population that is projected to shrink by one-third over the next 50 years, needs all the workers it can get. The U.N. has projected that the nation will need 17 million immigrants by 2050 to maintain a productive economy. But immigration laws remain strict, and foreign-born workers make up only 1.7% of the total population. Brazilians feel particularly hard done by. “The reaction from the Brazilian community is very hot,” says a Brazilian Embassy official. The embassy has asked Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to “ease the conditions” of reentry for Brazilians who accept the money. (Paradoxically, the Japanese government had recently stepped up efforts to help Brazilian residents, with programs such as Japanese-language training and job-counseling.) This particular solution to unemployment, however, is perceived as a misguided gift. “Maybe there were good intentions, but the offer was presented in the worst way possible,” says the Brazilian official. The program applies to Brazilians who have long-term Nikkei visas, but restricts their right — and that of their family members — to reentry until jobs are available in Japan. The terms are vague and will probably stay that way. Tatsushi Nagasawa, a Japanese health ministry official says it’s not possible to know when those who accept the money will be allowed back into Japan, though the conditions for reentry for highly skilled positions might be relaxed.

The Brazilian community plainly needs some help. The Brazilian embassy normally pays for between 10 and 15 repatriations each year, but in the last few months it has already paid for about 40. Since last September, Carlos Zaha has seen many in his Hamamatsu community lose their jobs. In December, he helped start Brasil Fureai, or “Contact Brazil,” an association to help unemployed Brazilian residents find jobs. He’s thankful to the Japanese government for the offer of assisted repatriation, but says the decision will be a rough one for workers. “I don’t think [the government] thought this through well,” Zaha says. “If someone is over 50 years old and is already thinking of returning to Brazil then it might work. But there are many people in their 20s and 30s, and after two or three years they’re going to want to come back to Japan — and they won’t be able to.”

Lenine Freitas, 23, the son of the union leader, lost his job at Asmo, a small motor manufacturer, one month ago, but says he plans to stay in Japan and work. Freitas says that there would be no problem if the Japanese government set a term of, say, three years, after which Brazilians who took the money could return. But after nine years working at Suzuki Motor Corp., he thinks that the government should continue to take responsibility for foreigners in Japan. “They have to help people to continue working in Japan,” he says. “If Brazilians go home, what will they do there?”

And 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.

ENDS

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

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200904170104.html

Returnees to Brazil finding it tough

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

2009/4/17, courtesy of KG
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.

The group said the number of returnees seeking help had more than doubled from 70 a month last year to 150 a month this year.

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.(IHT/Asahi: April 17,2009)

ENDS (yes, that’s all the space this merits in the Asahi)

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

New York Times April 23, 2009

Japan Pays Foreign Workers to Go Home

The government will pay thousands of dollars to fly Mrs. Yamaoka; her husband, who is a Brazilian citizen of Japanese descent; and their family back to Brazil. But in exchange, Mrs. Yamaoka and her husband must agree never to seek to work in Japan again.

“I feel immense stress. I’ve been crying very often,” Mrs. Yamaoka, 38, said after a meeting where local officials detailed the offer in this industrial town in central Japan.

“I tell my husband that we should take the money and go back,” she said, her eyes teary. “We can’t afford to stay here much longer.”

Japan’s offer, extended to hundreds of thousands of blue-collar Latin American immigrants, is part of a new drive to encourage them to leave this recession-racked country. So far, at least 100 workers and their families have agreed to leave, Japanese officials said.

But critics denounce the program as shortsighted, inhumane and a threat to what little progress Japan has made in opening its economy to foreign workers.

“It’s a disgrace. It’s cold-hearted,” said Hidenori Sakanaka, director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, an independent research organization.

“And Japan is kicking itself in the foot,” he added. “We might be in a recession now, but it’s clear it doesn’t have a future without workers from overseas.”

The program is limited to the country’s Latin American guest workers, whose Japanese parents and grandparents emigrated to Brazil and neighboring countries a century ago to work on coffee plantations.

In 1990, Japan — facing a growing industrial labor shortage — started issuing thousands of special work visas to descendants of these emigrants. An estimated 366,000 Brazilians and Peruvians now live in Japan.

The guest workers quickly became the largest group of foreign blue-collar workers in an otherwise immigration-averse country, filling the so-called three-K jobs (kitsui, kitanai, kiken — hard, dirty and dangerous).

But the nation’s manufacturing sector has slumped as demand for Japanese goods evaporated, pushing unemployment to a three-year high of 4.4 percent. Japan’s exports plunged 45.6 percent in March from a year earlier, and industrial production is at its lowest level in 25 years.

New data from the Japanese trade ministry suggested manufacturing output could rise in March and April, as manufacturers start to ease production cuts. But the numbers could have more to do with inventories falling so low that they need to be replenished than with any increase in demand.

While Japan waits for that to happen, it has been keen to help foreign workers leave, which could ease pressure on domestic labor markets and the unemployment rolls.

“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.

“Nikkei” visas are special visas granted because of Japanese ancestry or association.

Mr. Kawasaki led the ruling party task force that devised the repatriation plan, part of a wider emergency strategy to combat rising unemployment.

Under the emergency program, introduced this month, the country’s Brazilian and other Latin American guest workers are offered $3,000 toward air fare, plus $2,000 for each dependent — attractive lump sums for many immigrants here. Workers who leave have been told they can pocket any amount left over.

But those who travel home on Japan’s dime will not be allowed to reapply for a work visa. Stripped of that status, most would find it all but impossible to return. They could come back on three-month tourist visas. Or, if they became doctors or bankers or held certain other positions, and had a company sponsor, they could apply for professional visas.

Spain, with a unemployment rate of 15.5 percent, has adopted a similar program, but immigrants are allowed to reclaim their residency and work visas after three years.

Japan is under pressure to allow returns. Officials have said they will consider such a modification, but have not committed to it.

“Naturally, we don’t want those same people back in Japan after a couple of months,” Mr. Kawasaki said. “Japanese taxpayers would ask, ‘What kind of ridiculous policy is this?’ ”

The plan came as a shock to many, especially after the government introduced a number of measures in recent months to help jobless foreigners, including free Japanese-language courses, vocational training and job counseling. Guest workers are eligible for limited cash unemployment benefits, provided they have paid monthly premiums.

“It’s baffling,” said Angelo Ishi, an associate professor in sociology at Musashi University in Tokyo. “The Japanese government has previously made it clear that they welcome Japanese-Brazilians, but this is an insult to the community.”

It could also hurt Japan in the long run. The aging country faces an impending labor shortage. The population has been falling since 2005, and its working-age population could fall by a third by 2050. Though manufacturers have been laying off workers, sectors like farming and care for the elderly still face shortages.

But 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.

At the packed town hall meeting in Hamamatsu, immigrants voiced disbelief that they would be barred from returning. Angry members of the audience converged on officials. Others walked out of the meeting room.

“Are you saying even our children will not be able to come back?” one man shouted.

“That is correct, they will not be able to come back,” a local labor official, Masahiro Watai, answered calmly.

Claudio Nishimori, 30, said he was considering returning to Brazil because his shifts at a electronics parts factory were recently reduced. But he felt anxious about going back to a country he had left so long ago.

“I’ve lived in Japan for 13 years. I’m not sure what job I can find when I return to Brazil,” he said. But his wife has been unemployed since being laid off last year and he can no longer afford to support his family.

Mrs. Yamaoka and her husband, Sergio, who settled here three years ago at the height of the export boom, are undecided. But they have both lost jobs at auto factories. Others have made up their minds to leave. About 1,000 of Hamamatsu’s Brazilian inhabitants left the city before the aid was even announced. The city’s Brazilian elementary school closed last month.

“They put up with us as long as they needed the labor,” said Wellington Shibuya, who came six years ago and lost his job at a stove factory in October. “But now that the economy is bad, they throw us a bit of cash and say goodbye.”

He recently applied for the government repatriation aid and is set to leave in June.

“We worked hard; we tried to fit in. Yet they’re so quick to kick us out,” he said. “I’m happy to leave a country like this.”

ENDS

Nisshin Kasai Insurance company allows insurance to NJ customers

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog. 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. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog. 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. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

======================================
UN RIGHTS CHIEF ‘SHOCKED’ AT US WITHDRAWAL FROM ANTI-RACISM CONFERENCE
UN News, New York, Apr 19 2009 1:00PM

Sent directly to debito.org

Expressing her deep regret that the United States has decided to not attend the global anti-racism gathering beginning tomorrow, the top United Nations human rights official has called on States shift their priorities to prohibiting racism over politics.

The US withdrawal from the Durban Review Conference in Geneva comes on the heels of nations agreeing on a draft outcome document just last Friday, said High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

“I am shocked and deeply disappointed by the United States decision not to attend a conference that aims to combat racism, xenophobia, racial discrimination and other forms of intolerance worldwide,” she said.

Several states have permitted one or two issues to dominate their approaches to the entire issue of racism, Ms. Pillay said, “allowing them to outweigh the concerns of numerous groups of people that suffer racism and similar forms of intolerance to a pernicious and life-damaging degree on a daily basis all across the world, in both developed and developing countries.”

She stressed that no matter how sensitive and difficult they are, these issues must be discussed on a global level.

The statement by the US announcing that it will not be attending the Conference nonetheless praised the significant progress made in recent weeks, culminating in nations attending the Preparatory Committee agreeing on a 16-page document last week.

The main stumbling block for the US is the current text’s reaffirmation of the landmark Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) agreed by consensus at the end of the 2001 World Summit against Racism in Durban, South Africa.

The US, along with Israel, had withdrawn from the 2001 conference citing concerns the forum was being used by some to push an anti-Israel agenda. Israel has already declared that it will not be taking part in the Review Conference.

Ms. Pillay stressed that that the US’ objections could have been overcome.

“It would have been possible to make it clear in a footnote that the US had not affirmed the original document and therefore is not in a position to reaffirm it, which is a routine practice in multilateral negotiations to enable consensus-building while allowing for individual positions to be expressed,” she noted. “And then we could have all moved on together, and put the problems of 2001 behind us.”

According to the US statement, the nation also finds the draft outcome’s reference to incitement to hatred as problematic, even though it is a well-established concept under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

That pact, the High Commissioner highlighted, was “intended to ensure that the type of incitement to hatred employed by the Nazi propaganda machine in the 1930s and 40s would be prohibited by law.”

The need for such an agreement, she said, was underscored by the creation of an environ
ment by the media and politicians in which the Rwandan genocide occurred 15 years ago this month, when 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and Hutu moderates died, mostly by machete, during a period of less than 100 days.

“We should not underestimate the power of incitement to hatred to fuel violence, conflict and even genocide,” the High Commissioner maintained. “I therefore believe it is very relevant to include this concept in a conference designed to tackle racism and xenophobia.”

According to some media reports, the US’ withdrawal centres around the continued use of language on defamation of religion and anti-Semitism in the outcome document, but she pointed out that no such language exists in the text adopted last week.

Further, it clearly calls for the Holocaust to “never be forgotten” and also deplores all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, Ms. Pillay noted.

“I fail to see why, given that the Middle East is not mentioned in this document, that politics relate
d to the Middle East continue to intrude into the process,” she said.

Hailing the flexibility of member States in the difficult negotiations that ended with agreement on a revised text last week, the High Commissioner said that the draft document “still provides us with a meaningful outcome.”

Nearly 4,000 people — including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon — have registered to participate in the week-long gathering, including more than 100 heads of delegation from Member States and over 2,500 representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
_______________

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

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

DIVISIVENESS PERPETUATES RACISM, SECRETARY-GENERAL WARNS

UN News, New York, Apr 20 2009 2:00PM

Sent directly to debito.org

Unity is essential to moving past intolerance, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underscored today, lamenting the decision by several nations not to attend the United Nations anti-racism conference which kicked off today and deploring remarks made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“Some nations, who by rights should be helping to forge a path to a better future, are not here,” Mr. Ban <“http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocus/sgspeeches/statments_full.asp?statID=467“>said at the start of the <“http://www.un.org/durbanreview2009/“>Durban Review Conference in Geneva, referring to countries such as the United States and Israel which have refused to attend the five-day gathering.

He also spoke out against the comments made by Mr. Ahmadinejad at today’s session which he said were intended to “accuse, divide and even incite,” calling them a roadblock to tackling the scourge of racism.

“This is the opposite of what this Conference seeks to achieve,” noted the Secretary-General in a <“http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocus/sgspeeches/statments_full.asp?statID=466“>statement, who, at an earlier meeting with the Iranian official, emphasized the importance of the gathering to galvanize global will to fight intolerance.

During their talks, Mr. Ban said that he also underlined the need to look ahead to the future, not to the past of divisiveness, reminding Mr. Ahmadinejad that the UN General Assembly has adopted resolutions rejecting the equation of Zionism with racism and reaffirming the Holocaust’s historical facts.

In a statement directed at the Iranian President’s subsequent remarks, however, he said “we must all turn away from such a message in both form and substance.”

In his address to the Geneva gathering today, he called for nations to move beyond old divisions and form a united front against racism.

“Let us recognize the difference between honest disagreement and mere divisiveness – or worse, sheer obstructionism,” the Secretary-General said.

If left unchecked, he warned that racism could spiral into social unrest and violence, especially during the current economic crisis.

“If ever there were a cause in which we can all believe, this is it – a truly great and noble cause that binds [us] as human beings,” Mr. Ban maintained, calling on nations to seize the moment to work together to combat racism in all its manifestations.

Nearly 4,000 people have registered to take part in the Conference, including more than 100 heads of delegation from Member States and over 2,500 representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The event seeks to assess progress and implementation thus far of the landmark Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) agreed on by States eight years ago.

“The hopes of millions of victims are pinned on the implementation of this document, but the noblest charter is reduced to empty rhetoric if the commitments it enshrines are given no practical effect,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in <“http://www.un.org/durbanreview2009/stmt20-04-09_pillay.shtml“>remarks to the Conference today.

She pointed out that “a failure to agree on the way forward would negatively reverberate on the human rights agenda for years to come,” stressing that “each and every one of us has a stake in the fight against racism.”

Participants at the Conference are expected to consider and adopt a 16-page draft outcome, agreed on last Friday by States attending the Preparatory Committee.

Drafting the text was not an “easy process, but it is excellent that delegates have agreed on the key issues,” the High Commissioner said in welcoming agreement on the outcome document, voicing hope that this week’s Conference will send an unequivocal message that “we are, indeed, united against racism.”
________________

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

Japan ‘regrets’ US boycott of UN racism conference

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan said Monday that it would attend a UN conference on racism and regretted a US boycott of the event, which has been overshadowed by fears of a Western walkout and a verbal onsault on Israel.

“I regret that the United States cannot participate in the conference,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura told reporters. “Japan will send our delegation led by Ambassador to Geneva (Shinichi) Kitajima.”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon was due to open the anti-racism conference in Geneva later Monday amid fears Iran’s president will attack Israel.

The US government decided Saturday to join Canada and Israel in staying away from the Geneva meeting. The boycott has snowballed as Australia, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have also followed suit.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — who has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” and described the Holocaust as a “myth” — arrived in Geneva late Sunday as one of the few heads of state attending the conference.

Before setting off for Switzerland, Ahmadinejad — who is seeking re-election in June — was quoted by Iran’s state broadcaster as saying that “the Zionist ideology and regime are the flag-bearers of racism”.

Similar sentiments expressed by some Arab and African countries eight years ago prompted a US and Israeli walkout during the World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa, and the five-day Geneva follow-up this week has descended into what Israel called a “tragic farce” even before it starts.

In a rare break with its Western allies, Japan has historically enjoyed warm relations with Iran, although ties have recently soured somewhat as Tokyo has backed international efforts to stop Tehran’s nuclear drive. (AFP)

ENDS

Japan Times: Police surprisingly mellow when dealing with Japanese shoplifting

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog. Turning the keyboard to Shrikant Atre, frequent letterwriter to the Japan Times, who makes an interesting observation:

—————————————————————————–
Amazing shoplifting statistics revealed by JT report
—————————————————————————-

Dear Debito,

I was surprised and shocked by the news below. News is about the statistics of shop-lifting (Manbiki) and how the NPA is looking at it. See below.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090413a5.html

Japan Times Monday, April 13, 2009
Tokyo police to survey shoplifting suspects
Kyodo News
The Metropolitan Police Department has decided to conduct a survey on about 2,000 shoplifting suspects concerning their motives and whether they premeditated the crime as the number of shoplifting cases has been on the rise, according to Tokyo police officials.


Finding out more about the living conditions and the mental state of such suspects could help prevent further escalation of shoplifting crimes, the officials said.

The police will collect information based on questioning for about two months from later this month, covering 30 survey items including the suspect’s occupational status and whether they are on welfare.


The survey items also include why the suspects chose a particular shop and if there was something that could have prevented them from carrying out the crime.


The police will compile the data by dividing up the results into first-time offenders and repeat offenders…

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090413a5.html

COMMENT: 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.

Also if stealing goods worth to the max tune of average 2 million yen is a “minor offense” as NPA / report says about it, what kind of message are J criminals sending to NJ criminals ?

I want all (the J and NJ community) to seriously think of the report and tell us incidents where an NJ was targeted even for a mistaken good stealing accusation (of some 200 or 300 yen worth goods) which may have accidentally fallen in his bags, being caught and being immediately detained and subsequently deported. Yes, I had seen that on TV serials about MANBIKI, also heard about such stories in past.

In my thinking (I repeat my view here), stealing even 1 yen worth of goods / money that does not belong to oneself, is a Crime. And seeing how the news talks about it, I am shocked, amazed, bewildered.

Regards

Shrikant Atre
Pune, India
http://www.japanmitra.com
—————————————–
ENDS

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog.  A quick post on Blog Biz this morning:

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.  And this morning’s offline status of Debito.org is apparently nothing to worry about.  My sysadmin says the system just “got tired”, in his expert cybermedical opinion… 🙂

Thanks to everyone as always for reading and contributing to Debito.org!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog.  Here’s a Japan Times article that is rather incomplete as is, but depicts the rumblings between the status-quo LDP (not to mention the bureaucracy and police forces) and the neophyte DPJ:  the frictions over foreigners in Japan.  This could be quite significant.  It’s not the first time NJ issues have caused rifts in the highest echelons of Japanese politics.  See here and here.  Courtesy of Black Tokyo and Ben Shearon.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

DPJ slams strict bills on foreign residents
By MINORU MATSUTANI
The Japan Times, Friday, April 17, 2009

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.

These cards, called “zairyu,” would replace alien registration cards if the bills now before the Diet are passed. Foreigners are currently required to carry their alien cards at all times, but unlike at present, a failure to carry the zairyu could draw a ¥200,000 fine. Also subject to the fine would be failure to promptly report changes in personal information, including residential address, place of employment or marital status.

“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.

The bills to revise the immigration law, which were submitted to the Diet in March, have drawn fire from foreigners, lawyers and nonprofit organizations, who complain the proposed stricter monitoring is a violation of human rights…

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20090417a1.html

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

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 19, 2009

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 19, 2009

Table of Contents:
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
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

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

By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
Freely Forwardable

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

JAPAN SLOWLY RUNNING DOWN
1) Economist: First mention of Japan’s “two lost decades”: Calls into question efficacy of “Japan Inc” business model

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 burstand 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2933

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

2) Mainichi & Yomiuri: Kofu Laundry taken to cleaners over abuses of Chinese “trainees”

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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=2960

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

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2949

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

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

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 Foreignersa job-placement office for foreign residentsthere 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.

See comments section for opinions of people actually experiencing the constrictions of the GOJ to the point where they can’t make ends meet in Japan at

http://www.debito.org/?p=2955

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

5) In contrast: Korea Times: South Korea proposes dual citizenship

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, should you choose to accept it: Compare and contrast with Japan.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2971

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

HISTORY AND HISTORICAL EVENTS
6) Japan Times on the Calderon Noriko Case: “The Battle for Japan’s Future” and fascist demo on YouTube

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2990
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

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

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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=3005

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

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2966

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

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

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.

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

COMMENT: In my humble but loud opinion, this is good news:

Former Peruvian Prez Alberto Fujimori, who ran a corrupt government, parachuted into Japan for sanctuary in 2000 (getting a Japanese passport without due process), lived the life of a Tokyo elite with full impunity (despite extradition demands and an Interpol warrant for kidnapping and murder), bogged off back to Chile on private jet in 2005 to run for election in Peru (not to mention run for election here in Japan; the fool lost in both places). Then the fool was arrested upon landing and later extradited back to Peru for trial. Yesterday he finally got his: A jail sentence for a quarter-century for executive excesses. As in death squads. In complement to the six years he got in December 2007 for lesser charges.

Good. Rot there, you dreadful man.

Debito.org has said time and again why I have it in for this creep. It’s not just because he leapfrogged genuine candidates for Japanese citizenship (claiming it by blood and spoils within weeks of faxing a resignation letter to Peru, from a Tokyo hotel!). It’s because a person like this could spoil it for every other Nikkei in South America. What other country would want to elect another possible Fujimori after all this? Sorry, as wrongfully racist as that sentiment is, clear criminal activity is not going to help the assimilation and social advancement of others like him. That man is quite simply a destroyer of anything that gets in his way.

But Fujimori, like many leaders in Latin American countries (think Simon Bolivar, Santa Anna, the Perons, or Porfirio Diaz), seems to have nine lives. And his elected daughter is jockeying to become president and pardon him. (Chip off the old block. Now that’s an important national priority and a key campaign plank! Kinda like another president invading Iraq to avenge his father)

BTW, I saw on the Discovery Channel on April 7 a Canadian documentary about the siege of the Japanese Ambassador to Peru’s house in 1996-7. When the commandos were on tiptoe for 34 hours ready to go in, deputy Montesinos was trying to contact Fujimori to get final approval. Guess what. It took a while to reach him, because he was dealing with personal stuff his divorce hearing! One would think a looming assault on your biggest national donor’s sovereign territory would take ultrapriority for a president. Not a president like FJ.

Ecch. Again, what a dreadful man.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2945

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

PLEAS FOR HELP
10) Michael Collison Case: “Fired from Interac after death of infant daughter”

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2993

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

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2939

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

12) Filmmaker requests interviewees for documentary on NJ visa overstayers

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3027

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

… and finally…
13) Sapporo Screening of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES Thurs Apr 23 7PM HIBA

More on how to get there and what the movie is about at
http://www.debito.org/?page_id=1672

To whet your appetite:

14) Japan Times on Tokyo Takadanobaba SOUR STRAWBERRIES screening

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.”…

http://www.debito.org/?p=2988

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

All for today! Thanks for reading! If you’d like to come speak somewhere near you, please be in touch via debito@debito.org. Planning another nationwide tour of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES late-Aug, early-Sept this year. Dates already booked: Okayama (Aug 30), Tokyo (Sept 10 and 12).

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 19, 2009 ENDS

Korea Times: South Korea proposes dual citizenship

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog.  Another Asian country unbuttoning its top button regarding assimilation.  In the wake of passing a law in 2007 which effectively outlaws racial discrimination, it’s now proposing dual citizenship, with people keeping their second nationality if they naturalize.  Good.

Japan, you taking notice?  Your Asian neighbor (and in their view, historical and economic rival) is yet again taking a lead to make things a bit better for its people of differences.  Well, maybe Japan won’t take notice.  But in any case it’s cheerworthy, especially if the bill passes.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

=====================================
Allowing Dual Citizenship
It’s Necessary to Enforce Fair, Transparent Rules
Korea Times, Editorial, 03-29-2009, Courtesy anonymous

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/opinon/2009/03/137_42173.html

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.

Under current law, non-Koreans are required to reside here for at least five years to apply for Korean citizenship, take a state exam and give up their original citizenship within six months after being naturalized. Many foreigners have long complained about the difficult, tedious and cumbersome process of naturalization. Likewise, businesses, universities and research institutions have also undergone difficulties in recruiting competent and talented foreigners due to the rules.

If the bill is passed by the National Assembly and becomes law, foreigners evaluated by the government as “talented” will be allowed to become naturalized Koreans without rescinding their original nationality. The ministry has yet to set the criteria for foreigners eligible for dual citizenship. It simply said that those showing “outstanding performances” in the fields of science, business, culture and sports are likely to be the beneficiaries.

The to-be-eased rules are also expected to help the country attract second- and third-generation ethnic Koreans overseas willing to return and contribute to the country’s development. But the government plan leaves something to be desired because it seeks to allow dual citizenship on a selective basis. Some immigration experts recommend that the government take bolder measures to allow more foreign residents to enjoy dual citizenship because many of them are working for Korea.

It is imperative that policymakers shake off the negative image of dual citizenship because it has often been abused by some people, mostly Koreans, to avoid mandatory military service or evade taxes. It’s important to ensure fairness and transparency in the selection of foreigners for dual citizenship. We hope the government thoroughly prepares to make dual citizenship a success.

ENDS

Japan Times on Tokyo Takadanobaba SOUR STRAWBERRIES screening

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog.  Here’s an excerpt of another positive review of a screening of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

News photo
Debito Arudou

 Japan Times Tuesday, April 14, 2009

‘Sour Strawberries’ spotlights plight of non-Japanese ‘trainees’

Staff writer

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.”

News photo
Screening: Human-rights activist Debito Arudou leads a discussion in Tokyo’s Takadanobaba after the screening of “Sour Strawberries,” a documentary about the often exploitative working conditions of foreign “trainees” in Japan. SATOKO KAWASAKI PHOTOS

The night’s event, organized by Amnesty International Tokyo English Network (AITEN), started with a brief background briefing by Debito Arudou, a human-rights activist and Japan Times columnist who also appears in the hourlong documentary…

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.”

Read the rest of the review at:

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090414ev.html

Get yourself a copy of SOUR STRAWBERRIES by going to:

http://www.cinemabstruso.de/strawberries/main.html

ENDS

Filmmaker requests interviewees for documentary on NJ visa overstayers

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog.  Filmmaker Adrian Francis has this request.  Arudou Debito

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

Hello Debito.org readers.  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.

For your reference, here is a link to a trailer and synopsis of a short documentary I made last year in Australia:


I can be contacted on wabi_sabi_09  AT  yahoo.com

Any help would be most appreciated.

Adrian Francis
ends

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog. Here’s a mail I got from The Community. Arudou Debito

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

This is an email I got through a left 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:

http://d.hatena.ne.jp/oidashino/

Here’s an example of the debate going on with the rightists.

http://blog.livedoor.jp/the_radical_right/

More on this issue from FG:

http://www.fuckedgaijin.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22775

—– Original Message —–
To: parkfw-info@yahoogroups.jp
Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 10:56 PM
Subject: [parkfw-info][02797] FW:「外国人追い出しデモ」に抗議した2名が逮捕!]


取り急ぎ表題の記事を転送します。

—-
2009年4月12日
     「外国人追い出しデモ反対行動」救援会

この追い出しデモに対する抗議行動も行われましたが、
抗議した男性2名が逮捕されたそうです!
詳しくは以下の救援会声明を読んでください。

この救援会の背景には、埼玉県蕨市で4月11日土曜日、蕨市で暮らす外国人を
追い出そうという暴力的なデモが行われたということがあります。

この「追い出しデモ」の主催者(在日特権を許さない市民の会)は、この地域に
住む外国人を「犯罪者」扱いして彼ら彼女らの生活を脅かそうとしています。

特に日本での滞在地位を求めるフィリピン人カルデロン親子を標的に、「不法入
国・不法残留外国人」を追い出せというキャンペーンを行い、一家を個人攻
撃しています。信じられないことに「追い出しデモ」は、カルデロン一家の子ど
もが通っていた小学校、そして現在通っている中学校の前をわざわざ行進ルー
トに入れているのです。

デモの様子の動画です。http://www.youtube.com/user/nandeyanenmou

■□■□■□■□■□■□転送・転載歓迎■□■□■□■□■□■□

救援会声明

4月11日、外国人「追い出しデモ」に抗議した二人の男性が埼玉県警蕨署に
逮捕される事件が起きました。
ひとりは「追い出しデモ」の主催者が掲げていた紙製の横断幕を「盗んだ」容疑で、
もうひとりはそのおよそ3時間後、公務執行妨害容疑での逮捕でした。
彼らの友人として、私たちは両名の救援を呼びかけるとともに、彼らの行動の意義
と逮捕の不当性を訴え、埼玉県警に即時釈放を求めます。
この日、外国人「追い出しデモ」を主催したのは、「在日特権を許さない市民の会」
という右翼団体でした。彼らはこれまであちらこちらで「外国人=犯罪者」という
扇動を続けてきた団体です。彼らはあたり前に地域と関係を作り暮らしている外国
籍の人々を「犯罪者」扱いして、国外への追放を求める活動を続けています。
そのあげく彼らは個人攻撃を開始し、長期に地域に滞在する一家を「追い出せ」と
まで言いだしたのです。
このことをネットなどで知り、当日「在特会」のデモに抗議しようと蕨市外から
駅前に40名ほどの個人が集まりました。それぞれの思いは異なるにしても、
共通していたのは彼らの煽る排外主義への危機感と、弱い立場にある人を標的にし
て攻撃する彼らの卑劣さへの怒りでした。
あろうことかこの日のデモコースには、長期滞在の外国人ご一家のお子さんが通っ
ていた小学校と、現在も通っている中学校が含まれていました。
そこで彼らが「一家を追放せよ」と叫ぶことは、その一家に対してだけでなく、
長期滞在するすべての外国人に対する暴力です。
「特権を許さない」と彼らは言います。
しかし、彼らが攻撃の標的としたのは、もっともこの社会の特権からは遠い外国人
の、しかも子どもです。
彼らの言う「国民大行進」は、そのような卑劣かつ卑怯なデモだったのです。
午後1時から「在特会」は「一家の追放」を叫ぶ集会を駅近くの公園で開始しまし
た。その集会の終わりごろになって、公園の入口に彼らが作成した紙製の横断幕が
運ばれてきたのです。
そこに書かれていたのは「不法入国は犯罪だ。『かわいそう』のペテンにだまされ
るな」という文字でした。蕨に住む家族を明らかに標的としたこの言葉は言葉の名
に値するものではありません。これは地域に住む超過滞在の外国人を攻撃する暴力
なのです。「追い出しデモ」への抗議に参加していた彼が行ったのはこの暴力への
抵抗でした。警察は当初、彼に「任意同行」を求め、彼もそれに応じました。
ところが「在特会」はあろうことか「窃盗」事件として被害届を出し、そのため
彼は「窃盗犯」として逮捕されいまなお蕨署に留置されています。
その後、抗議活動に参加した人々の多くは蕨署に集まり、正規の手続きに則って
逮捕された人への面会を求めました。ところが蕨警察署はバリケードを築き警察官
を配置し、根拠も無く面会を拒みました。それどころか弁護士が身分を提示して
面会を求めても1時間以上にわたって面会を拒否し続けたのです。
そして突如そこに蕨警察署に先導された右翼が登場しました。彼らは抗議活動に参
加した人々に罵声を浴びせかけ、その際に生じた混乱の中で一名が公務執行妨害容
疑で逮捕されたのです。
今回の行動については、参加者の間に充分な意思統一がはかれず、抗議行動を呼び
かけた側の不手際も多々あったようです。抗議行動を呼びかけた側はその点を十分
認識しなければならないと私たちも考えます。
しかし、抗議行動が企図した「在特会」への抗議そのものは正当なものだと私たち
は考えます。彼らの行ったデモは多くの外国籍で暮らす不安定な法的地位の人々を
恐怖にさらす重大な犯罪です。裁かれるべきは彼らです。
一方で、「在特会」が「犯罪者」と叫び排除を求めているのは、この社会で生き、働
き、人々と友情関係を結ぶ人々です。ビザがないことはだれを傷つけているわけでも
誰を侵害しているわけでもないのです。生きることは犯罪ではありません。
私たちは排外主義扇動を終らせることを求めて逮捕された二人をただちに釈放するこ
とを要求します。

2009年4月12日

「外国人追い出しデモ反対行動」救援会

連絡先:oidashihantai@gmail.com
ブログ:http://d.hatena.ne.jp/oidashino/

★カンパの御願い★
2名をいちはやく釈放させるために両名の友人が中心となってボランティアで活動
しています。差し入れ、面会、弁護士の手配などに
お金が必要です。まことに心苦しい限りですが、救援会にカンパを寄せて下さい。
よろしくお願いします。
銀行振込 みずほ銀行 早稲田支店 店番068 普 2223022
タノ シンイチ

ENDS

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog.  Turning the keyboard over to Michael Collison, who tells his tale of an employer, Interac, who apparently would not give him a break even when there was a death in the family.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

April 13, 2009

Dear Debito,

I have worked for Interac for 3 years 2006 04 to 2009 03. Some bumps along the way but usually not my fault. Anyway, my wife became pregnant with our second child in October 2008, great ! I also got a Letter of Recommendation from Interac praising my teaching work and thanking me December 2008 (attached).

collisonletterofrecognition

About 3 months later on February the 11th 2009, during the night, my wife had some water leak, which isn’t uncommon. There are lots of fluid leaks during pregnancy. She called the hospital and was told to come for her prebooked appointment as scheduled on February 17th 2009. When she went I kept my phone with me during the lesson at Nakahara Junior High School in Hiratsuka, my main school, hoping everything would be fine. I was interviewing first year kids 1 to 1, there were only 3 kids left to interview and it was 15 minutes before the end of my last lesson of the day (each interview took 2 1/2 mins).

The phone rang !!

I’ve never had a phone call during a lesson before, but for my wife and unborn child I’m going to take the call. I did and my wife was heartbroken and in tears. She told me we had lost the baby.

I told her I was in a lesson and that I would come to her. I hung up the phone, apologised to the student telling him it was very important, and then finished his interview. After that I went to the classroom that the Japanese teacher was in and quickly explained that I had to go to the hospital because of my wife and unborn child. I went to the teachers room and explained everything I knew to a very nice third grade English teacher who translated it all into Japanese for the vice principal. They understood my reason for leaving.

So I ran to catch a bus, then a train, then ran to the hospital.

Once there I found out that the baby was still alive but had no water surrounding it. That’s when the hardest 3 weeks of my life started, (and I’ve had some hard times believe me) the baby survived that long.

The doctors wanted us to abort ASAP, that very day.

So that afternoon and night I was fighting a mental battle against doctors and nurses who were all saying that we should abort ASAP because the baby was doomed.

I went home as late as I could and started researching ‘PPROM’ (Premature Prenatal Rupture of Membranes) which is what this problem is called. I found many many cases in which the infant survived, and techniques to try.

Due to the stress of all this I went to work the next day, as my wife wished, and got the days mixed up, thinking it was Wednesday when it was Thursday, thus turning up an hour later than I should have. I missed 1 lesson but did the lesson in my free time. I also interviewed the 3 students I had missed, when I rushed off to the hospital, again in my free time.

That morning February 18th 2009 at aprox 8:30am, I recieved a call from Interac, a Japanese male from the Yokohama branch, speaking in English, asking why I had left school early the day before. I explained that there had been a medical emergency and that my wife was in the hospital and that we could be losing the baby. He told me that if I have any more medical emergencies to call Interac 1 week before the emergency to let them know in advance. He also said he would take a 1/2 day’s paid holiday because I left early.

Later at aprox 9:30am I recieved another call from Interac, a Japanese female from the Yokohama branch, again speaking in English, asking why I was late for work, again I explained the situation to a 2nd person. Interac took another 1/2 day’s paid holiday for being 1 hour late.

I expected someone I knew, the Hiratsuka trainer Joel Northan from Interac to call me and say ‘sorry to hear about your situation, please take some time off’, or at least ‘sorry to hear about your situation’. As he would call me often, sometimes just to chat and see how things were going at the schools, but especially if anything unusual had happened. No one ever called back.

The next 3 weeks were traumatic but I still went to work cheerful, had great lessons, and then spent the rest of my time researching medical procedures, at my wife’s bedside and taking care of our 1 year old son.

On Monday the 2nd of March I had to go to Interac Yokohama ( 神奈川県横浜市中区長者町5丁目85明治安田生命ラジオ日本ビル / 10F, Radio Nihon Building, 5-85, Chojamachi, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa) at around 4:30 pm for a meeting with Joel Northan (Trainer) and Satoko Aoki (Managing Consultant). It seemed to be for contract renewal.

They told me they would not give me another contract for 2009-10.

I asked them why.

Joel Northan said “Well, you left school early one day last week, and then you were late the day after”.

He then put 4 pieces of paper in front of me and I was told to sign them.

I asked if they understood why I left the school early and was late on the day after, and also if that was the only reason for not giving me a contract.

Joel Northan told me that they had a long list of problems with my work.

I asked him “Like what?” and “Did a school or the BOE complain about something?”

I was told it the schools or BOE had not complained. Then he told me that the Manager (presumably Akihiko Omata) had looked at the phone records and seen that I had made a lot of phone calls to the office, so he decided that it was evidence of lots of problems.

(Many times I had been told by Joel Northan and William Smith another trainer) to call the office much more, and to call over the smallest things to keep them up-to-date with details. I still didn’t like to call over trivial things like a school changing the time of 1 lesson, or schools not filling sheets out correctly).

Satoko Aoki told me that the Manager didn’t have confidence in me anymore and that I have to sign the papers so that they could pay me.

I told them that, as my wife was in the hospital at that very moment, I didn’t want to waste anymore time in the meeting and that I would read the papers at home, sign them and send them back.

Satoko Aoki was quite rude at this point and insisted that I sign them now. She told me that I couldn’t leave the room until I had signed them.

I was feeling quite sickened by their behaviour at this point so I picked up the papers, glanced at them and then put them into my folder and then into my bag.

I told them again that I would sign them at home and send them back.

Satoko Aoki was now rather angry, her face was red, slightly contorted and she was showing signs of shaking.

Satoko Aoki again and again said that I was not allowed to leave the room until I had signed.

After listening to this a few times and realising there was nothing more to discuss I stood up and told them I was leaving with the papers. I bidded them good-day and left. (Note see *** below)

I went straight to the hospital and that night my wife and I informed the doctor that we had decided to stop using the medicine which was preventing the onset of labour. The doctor told us that labour should begin around 48 hours later

I went to work as usual on Tuesday the 3rd.

On the evening of March 3rd, at around 6:30pm, I called Interac and asked to speak to a native English speaker (so as not to be misunderstood). I spoke to William Smith. I told him that I probably couldn’t go to work on the 5th as the baby was expected to die and be delivered that day, and that I would have to identify the body, as required by Japanese law. He told me that it was the first time he had heard about my situation and he sounded genuinely concerned. He told me to take the rest of the week off at least. I was thankful but told him I would go to work tomorrow and take Thursday off (expected birth date).

However at 11pm on the same night of the 3rd, my wife called and told me that labour was starting. So I, took my son to his grandparents and then went to the hospital. The baby died in the early hours of the morning. I called Interac as soon as the office opened to tell them that I couldn’t go to work, and to explain the situation. The baby was delivered at 10:48am, Wednesday the 4th of March.

We got to hold her. A little girl.

We had to arrange the funeral for as soon as possible. We could not book for Saturday and so booked for Friday.

I called Interac again and asked for a native speaker, again to avoid possible misunderstandings. I spoke to Joel Northan and told him I couldn’t go to work on Friday because I was going to the funeral. He told me it was fine and also said to apologise to my wife on his behalf as he didn’t know that she had been in the hospital when he informed me about my contract on March the 2nd.

***

After the funeral I had a chance to look at the papers that Joel Northan and Satoko Aoki tried desperately to get me to sign at that meeting on March the 2nd. Upon checking the 4 papers I found 1 was not for me, it was for Interac staff to fill in, 1 was requesting when I would like my final payment, 1 was requesting the same plus when I would like my penultimate payment.

However 1 paper (attached) stated:

‘THIS NOTICE is hereby made by ___________ (Employee#_____) on this _____ day of _____ , _____, to inform Interac of my resignation for the following reason:’ etc etc

Signature _________________ Date ______________’

So, on top of all the previous, they also tried to get me to sign a paper stating I was resigning without me even knowing it.

resignation-form

Extra notes –

2 months previously I was told that Interac were hoping I would continue my employment with them by Joel Northan.

I found out that Interac had lost the contract with the BOE in Hiratsuka for elementary schools for the 2009-10 year. The trainer involved has left Interac.

No-one ever called to apologise, the trainer and another trainer only apologised when 1 I called to tell them I had to take time off to identify the body, and 2 when I called to tell them about the funeral. Previously, they used to call me up at all hours about the smallest things.

About my teaching –

When I first started at Interac I was given, as my main school, what the BOE and teachers described as the worst school in the city. It probably was. Kids were smoking in the school, climbing out of second floor windows during the lessons and sitting on a 40 cm ledge smoking and talking in groups, sleeping in the class, punching teachers, bullying in the open etc etc.

3 years later the school is one of if not the best schools in the city, judging by the others I taught at. I could ‘reach’ every kid in the school, some for longer than others granted. Now the English level of even the first graders is far better than the 3rd graders from 3 years ago and almost every student in the school enjoys English lessons now. I walked into a bad atmosphere and spent every minute I was there trying to improve it through methods that Interac trainers and managers and many teachers don’t even know exist, like honesty, integrity, confidence, openess, friendliness, actually wanting to teach etc etc.

I’m not going to say I changed everything but I did what I could to improve things. There are some very nice teachers there who I respect, but at the student’s graduation ceremony this year I sat next to other teachers, head teachers, the vice principal etc and was very proud when a high percentage of the kids I’d known since their first year, walked up looking directly at me and bowed before receiving their certificates.

I will also send this to a union and to the Japan Times.

Feel free to contact me if you need anything else or if I have made some mistakes.  michael1 AT mopera DOT net

Thank you for reading,

Michael Collison.

ENDS

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog.  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.  More on this issue from FG:

http://www.fuckedgaijin.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22775 

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

THE ZEIT GIST

 

 

 

‘A battle for Japan’s future’

Calderon case fallout will linger long after parents’ departure, writes David McNeill

Despite being Japan’s most densely populated area, Warabi rarely causes a blip on the national media radar.

News photo
Fiery rhetoric: Makoto Sakurai tells nationalists in Warabi, Saitama Prefecture, on Sunday to send Noriko Calderon “back to the Philippines.” DAVID MCNEILL PHOTOS

Set in a rusting corner of Saitama Prefecture, the city has two minor recent claims to fame: a communist mayor and the 13-year-old daughter of illegal Filipino immigrants.

An odd place perhaps for two groups with radically different visions of Japan to take to the streets, but this is where neo-nationalists and liberal opponents could be found slugging it out last weekend.

On one side, a party of nationalists crammed into a small park and listened to ringleader Makoto Sakurai, a rising new-right star who turns out for protests in a three-piece suit and watch chain.

“People in other countries are looking at this case very carefully,” Sakurai told the crowd to cheers of “Send illegal foreigners home!” “They see that we are a soft touch. If we allow this girl to stay, many more will come. It’s totally unacceptable.”…

Walking behind a van blasting out high-decibel venom at the local government, the Hinomaru-waving protesters filed noisily past Noriko’s junior high school. “Shame on Filipinos,” shouted one middle-aged man who held a sign saying: “Kick out the Calderons.” Takehiro Tanaka said they would be back every month until Noriko was put on a plane to Manila. “We can’t allow her to stay or foreigners will exploit our softness. It sends the wrong message to other countries.”…

Last month, the family’s six-month legal battle ended when Justice Minister Eisuke Mori gave Noriko a one-year special residence permit, allowing her to live with her aunt and continue school in this city. Her parents, Arlan and Sarah, who came to Japan in the early 1990s on false passports, were sent back to the Philippines on Monday…

Read the rest of the article at: 

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090414zg.html

See the protest for yourself on YouTube at:

http://www.japanprobe.com/?p=9757

ENDS

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog.  On 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.  This according to the Yomiuri.  Courtesy of Matt D.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Foreign students finding jobs scarce

Foreign students seeking work in Japan after graduation are facing difficulties in finding jobs as employment conditions deteriorate because of the economic downturn.

More than 120,000 foreign students study in Japan annually. Observers say the government should support the students’ job-hunting efforts to keep them from losing interest in Japan and returning to their home countries.

One foreign student looking for work is a 24-year-old graduate student from China’s Jiangsu Province who lives in Akita. She is currently looking for full-time work at a Japanese firm for after she graduates. But the search is proving difficult.

“Since I began spending my time looking for work, my standard of living has been deteriorating day by day,” she said.

With no financial support from her parents, she is living only on a scholarship and a part-time job to make ends meet. With graduation looming, she decided to quit her part-time job and focus on finding full-time work. By such methods as giving up her trips home to China, she has amassed 300,000 yen in savings. But she has found herself in a hard situation without her part-time income.

On March 8, she traveled halfway across the country to Tokyo, where she attended a job fair for foreign students held near JR Hamamatsucho Station in Minato Ward. Following the event, she stayed for a week with a friend living in the capital so she could call on companies in Tokyo, but she came away empty-handed, she said.

Savings wiped out, she can no longer afford to eat out, and is saving money by cooking and eating at home whenever possible.

“I’ve made it a habit to seek cheap foods at supermarkets. For example, I decided not to buy enoki mushrooms, whenever they cost more than 100 yen,” she said.

The student buys boxed meals at supermarkets only after they become discounted at night and takes them to school the next day for lunch.

Still, she said she is not considering returning to China. “The competition is even more intense in China than here. There are fewer jobs to go around because of the economy. I want to work in Japan to utilize what I have learned in university and graduate school during my stay here,” she said.

Similar difficulties have been experienced by a 31-year-old man from South Korea who now lives in Saitama Prefecture. After graduating from a private university here in 2007, he returned home and found employment. However, he returned to Japan after his wife decided to enter a Japanese graduate school, and he began searching for a job here this year. However, he has had no luck.

“There are far fewer companies hiring than there were before. I need to find a job as soon as possible to support my wife and me, but I haven’t found a good place to work,” he said.

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.

According to the organization, it is mainly small and medium-size companies that seek employees through the center. However, general manager Kazuo Hirasawa said companies across the spectrum are cutting the number of foreign students they hire.

The government has announced a plan to increase the number of foreign students studying in Japan to 300,000 by 2020 to enhance the country’s international competitiveness by securing excellent human resources from around the world.

However, the government’s measures to support foreign students finding jobs in Japan are limited, even though this is supposed to be an integral part of the government’s plan. The government is now planning to host job fairs targeting foreign students and a meeting of universities and companies interested in recruiting foreign students.

But observers say the government measures are failing to keep up with rapidly deteriorating employment conditions.

Mitsuhiro Asada, chief editor of J-Life, a free magazine targeting foreign students published by ALC Press, Inc., said: “Foreign students are integral to the future of Japan. If the government really wants to increase the number of foreign students, it needs to focus its efforts on improving the status of foreign students after they graduate–including setting a target figure for the number of foreign students hired by Japanese companies.”


Foreign students receiving more assistance in job hunt


When trying to get a job in Japan after completing their higher education here, foreign students often struggle with the nation’s peculiar job-hunting procedures, under which students usually start such activities as early as the latter half of their junior year and submit “entry sheets” rather than resumes to prospective employers for the first round of screening.

Many job-hunting foreign students are uncertain about how to fill in these entry sheets or how they are expected to behave during interviews.

Therefore, some universities have been taking steps to help their foreign students find jobs.

For example, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU), a private institution in Oita Prefecture whose foreign students accounts for 40 percent of the student body, regularly holds events called “Open Campus Recruiting,” in which companies are invited to the campus to hold briefing sessions for foreign students and conduct recruitment tests.

During the 2007 academic year, there were about 380 sessions of the Open Campus Recruiting program.

On the other hand, Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo started to offer job-hunting support to its foreign students in October last year. The private institution has asked for help from temporary staffing agency Pasona Inc., which provides advice to these students regarding how to fill in application forms and how to behave during interviews.

In addition to these two examples, many other institutions now offer special job-hunting seminars for foreign students.

In recent years, some companies have been willing to hire more and more foreign students. Starting with new recruits for the 2008 fiscal year, Lawson Inc., for example, has been hiring foreign students under the same working conditions as their Japanese colleagues. For the fiscal year starting this month, the major convenience store chain has about 40 foreign recruits.

“We value diversity [in our workforce],” a Lawson official says of why the company has hired an increasing number of foreign students.

Diversity in the workplace is thought to encourage people to respect different values that come from differing nationality, gender and age. This is also said to enhance their creativity.

“If companies can provide foreign employees with comfortable working systems,” says Masato Gunji, senior researcher at the Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training, “it would become easier for them to hire other types of workers such as homemakers and the elderly.”

(Apr. 9, 2009)
ENDS

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog. A tangent in a sense, but macroeconomics affect us all, and it’s harder to keep our eye on loftier goals like human rights when people’s pocketbooks are emptying. This is the first mention I’ve seen in the press about Japan’s “TWO lost decades”. And I’m afraid I agree that this is not an overstatement. To me, it’s symbolic of the self-damaging “seesawing self-image” Japan tends to have of itself.

That is to say, when times are going well, really well (like say 1960 to 1990), popular sentiment begins to tend towards a superiority complex, in that “We Japanese are harder workers and have an exceptional, unique society that is designed to grow and enrich itself perpetually” (unlike the hybrid mutt multicultural societies, whose factory workers are lazy and less intelligent, according to Japan’s contemporary premier politicians). Then follows the arrogance and self-convincing which justifies staying the course:  After all, it’s “The Japanese Way”, after all.   Of course, there ‘s little mention of other possible root causes for Japan’s phenomenal success, such as a lack of post-WWII war reparations, or preferential trade agreements, or markets overseas opened to nurture export-led countries away from the temptation of warmaking economies. And once Japan had (through hard work and perseverance) matured and reached its due, one might argue it has done quite poorly, compared to fellow mature economies in The Economist’s graphs below. For after all, if there’s no business model except a slavish following of “The Japanese Way”, what’s next for people sitting tight and waiting for the next ideological auto-pilot to take over?

After now nearly two decades of bumbling about (and fortunately losing a lot of that unhealthy superiority complex, except perhaps towards the foreigners who decide to come here that it can pick on), one begins to wonder whether the “Japan Inc.” model of business was actually all that stand-alone successful.  There are plenty of other rich economies that are relatively resource poor (as in, probably most of the Western Europeans’ economies) yet still are outperforming Japan, so let’s not fall back on the shimaguni excuses. I think the evidence is mounting that using the Americans as a economic crutch was the key to Japan’s postwar growth. Fine.  But 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 China is probably going to be the export purchaser of the future. Otherwise, consider the consumer-led economy being proposed by The Economist below.

Sorry, random brain farts after a gloriously sunny week. Omatase:  Here’s the more substantial Economist article, already. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

=========================================
Japan

The incredible shrinking economy

Apr 2nd 2009 | TOKYO
From The Economist print edition

http://www.economist.com/finance/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13415153
Japan is in danger of suffering not one but two lost decades

Illustration by S. Kambayash
Illustration by S. Kambayashi
 

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.

 
 

Was Japan’s seemingly strong recovery of 2003-07 an illusion? And why has the global crisis hit Japan much harder than other rich economies? Popular wisdom has it that Japan is overly dependent on exports, but the truth is a little more complicated. The share of exports in Japan’s GDP is much smaller than in Germany or China and until recently was on a par with that in America. During the ten years to 2001, net exports contributed nothing to Japan’s GDP growth. Then exports did surge, from 11% of GDP to 17% last year. If exporters’ capital spending is included, net exports accounted for almost half of Japan’s total GDP growth in the five years to 2007.

Exports boomed on the back of a super-cheap yen and America’s consumer binge. Japan did not have housing or credit bubbles, but the undervalued yen encouraged a bubble of a different sort. Japanese exporters expanded capacity in the belief that the yen would stay low and global demand remain strong, resulting in a huge misallocation of resources.

As foreign demand collapsed and the yen soared last year, Japan’s export “bubble” burst. Total exports have fallen by almost half in the past year. Japan’s high-value products, such as cars and consumer electronics, are the first things people stop buying when the economy sours.

Richard Jerram, an economist at Macquarie Securities, argues that the worst may soon be over for industrial production. This year, output and exports have fallen by much more than the drop in demand, because firms have temporarily closed plants in order to slash excess stocks. For instance, Japan’s vehicle production in the first two months of 2009 was 50% lower than a year before, but global car sales fell by only 25%.

Mr Jerram reckons that the inventory rundown is coming to an end, which will lead to a short-term bounce in output as factories reopen. If so, car output in June could be around 50% higher than in March (but still down by 25% on a year earlier). This means that GDP growth might turn positive in the second quarter even if foreign demand remains weak.

Unfortunately, the economy is likely to totter again as the second-round effects of tumbling profits and rising unemployment squeeze investment and consumer spending. According to the latest Tankan survey of the Bank of Japan (BOJ), in March business sentiment among big manufacturing firms was the gloomiest since the poll began in 1974. Manufacturers say they plan to cut investment by 20% this year. They are also trimming jobs and wages. The seemingly modest unemployment rate of 4.4% in February understates the pain. The ratio of job offers to applicants has declined to only 0.59, from around one at the start of 2008, and average hours worked have also fallen sharply. Average wages (including bonuses and overtime pay) went down by 2.7% in the 12 months to February. Household spending fell by 3.5% in real terms over the same period; department store sales plunged by 11.5%.

The weakening domestic economy has prompted the government to man the fiscal pumps. A stimulus of 1.4% of GDP is already in the pipeline for 2009, and a further boost of perhaps 2% of GDP is expected to be unveiled in mid-April. The package is likely to include measures to strengthen the safety net for the unemployed and so ease concerns about job security. There will also be new infrastructure spending. Much of the expenditure on public works in the 1990s is now considered wasteful, so this time the focus is meant to be on projects that boost productivity, such as an expansion of Tokyo’s Haneda airport. Better crafted stimulus measures which raise long-run growth are also less likely to spook bond markets concerned about the government’s vast debt.

So long as the extra measures are not delayed by an early election (which must be called by September), Japan’s total fiscal stimulus in 2009 could be the largest among the G7 economies. But it would not be enough to prevent a sharp widening of the output gap (the difference between actual GDP and what the economy could produce at full capacity). This had already risen to 4% of GDP in the fourth quarter of 2008, and it is likely to approach 10% by the end of 2009, twice as much as in the 1990s downturn (see bottom chart, above).

This gaping economic hole is again putting downward pressure on prices. By late summer consumer prices could be more than 2% lower than a year before—a faster decline than during Japan’s previous bout of deflation. The risk is that deflation will squeeze profits and hence jobs, thereby further depressing demand and prices. The BOJ cut interest rates to 0.1% in December and it has introduced several measures to keep credit flowing, such as buying commercial paper and corporate bonds, as well as shares held by banks, which boosts their capital ratios. In contrast to the 1990s, bank lending is still growing.

The BOJ has also stepped up its purchases of government bonds, but after its experience in 2001-06, the bank remains sceptical that such “quantitative easing” can lift inflationary expectations and spur demand. One big difference is that the previous episode of quantitative easing coincided with stringent budget-tightening under Junichiro Koizumi, the then prime minister. The budget deficit was reduced from 8% of GDP in 2002 to 1.4% in 2006 (which partly explains why domestic demand was weak). The combination of fiscal expansion and government-bond purchases by the BOJ should work better.

The OECD predicts that public-sector debt will approach 200% of GDP in 2010, so the scope for further fiscal stimulus will be limited. Nor can Japan rely on exports for future growth; to the extent that it had enjoyed an export bubble, foreign demand will not return to its previous level. Japan needs to spur domestic spending.

One possible option, which the government is exploring, is to unlock the vast financial assets of the elderly. Japanese households’ stash of savings is equivalent to more than five times their disposable income, the highest of any G7 economy, and three-fifths of it is held by people over 60 years old. Gifts to children are taxed like ordinary income, but if this tax were reduced, increased transfers could boost consumption and housing investment since the young have a much higher propensity to consume. In theory, this could give a much bigger boost to the economy than any likely fiscal stimulus.

Of course, one reason why the elderly are cautious about running down their assets is concern about the mismanaged pension system and future nursing care. Services for the elderly should be among Japan’s fastest growing industries and create lots of new jobs, but they are held back by regulations which restrict competition and supply. Deregulation of services would not only help to improve the living standards of an ageing population, but by helping to unlock savings might also drag the economy out of deep recession.

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.

ENDS

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog.  Here’s Sunday’s tangent.  On March 27, 2009, NPR replayed a 1990 interview with the late  John Hope Franklin, historian of racism within the United States.  He died at age 94 on March 25.  The Economist ran this as part of their obituary on April 2:

…Academia offered no shelter. He excelled from high school onwards, eventually earning a doctorate at Harvard and becoming, in 1956, the first black head of an all-white history department at a mostly white university, Brooklyn College. Later, the University of Chicago recruited him. But in Montgomery, Louisiana, the archivist called him a “Harvard nigger” to his face. In the state archives in Raleigh, North Carolina, he was confined to a tiny separate room and allowed free run of the stacks because the white assistants would not serve him. At Duke in 1943, a university to which he returned 40 years later as a teaching professor, he could not use the library cafeteria or the washrooms.

Whites, he noted, had no qualms about “undervaluing an entire race”. Blacks were excluded both from their histories, and from their understanding of how America had been made. Mr Franklin’s intention was to weave the black experience back into the national story. Unlike many after him, he did not see “black history” as an independent discipline, and never taught a formal course in it. What he was doing was revising American history as a whole. His books, especially “From Slavery to Freedom” (1947), offered Americans their first complete view of themselves…

http://www.economist.com/obituary/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13403067

Now read this excerpt from the NPR interview, which I transcribed, and see if you get what I did from it:

Terry Gross:  In some of your essays in your new book, you talk about some of the obstacles that you faced as a Black scholar, and you wrote that you faced discrimination that goes beyond any discrimination you faced in the field itself.  For example, when you were chairman of history at Brooklyn College [New York City, in 1956], one of the problems you had was finding an apartment you wanted to live in, because a lot of neighborhoods refused to sell to you.  

JHF:  That’s right.  I spent more than a year trying to find a place I wanted to purchase.   My appointment was so spectacular that news of it with my picture was on the front page of the New York Times.  But when I set out to find a house near my college — I hoped to be able to walk to work — almost none of the real estate dealers in the area would show me any of the houses that they were widely advertising.  And when I finally found one being sold by the owner, I then had the problem of trying to find the money so I could purchase the house.  And that was another round of excruciating experiences.  I finally found it, but I could have spent this time so much better.

TG:  Let me ask you kind of a stupid question.  Did you ever take that New York Times article around to the real estate agents and say to them, “Look, don’t you know who I am?”

JHF:  No, I don’t believe in that.  I’m a human being, and that ought to be enough.  I’m well-mannered, I think I’m well-dressed, and I think that my conduct is above reproach.  I think that that should commend me.  And if it doesn’t, well, then I think they’re not interested in hearing anything about who I am.  I have no doubt that many of these people knew who I was.  And yet, I was still rejected.

COMMENT:  These sorts of things are mostly seen nowadays as unpleasant historical anachronisms, approached  and reflected upon with the attitude of “How could people do this sort of thing?  What were we thinking back then?”  And rightly so.

However, just try to rent as a foreigner in Japan, and get credit as a foreigner in Japan.  Bonne chance.  You simply are not going to resolve these situations until you make what happened to JHF illegal.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog.  Mainichi reports yet another case of “Trainee” labor abuses, and this time the public prosecutor looks to do something about it.  Plus a brief Yomiuri article on how deep the abuses are going, alas with only a brief citation of figures, nothing about the whos, wheres, and what’s to be done about it.  Like siccing the public prosecutor on them.  Debito in Sapporo

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

Dry-cleaning company boss reported to prosecutors over treatment of Chinese trainees

Mainichi Shinbun April 9, 2009, courtesy of Jeff K.

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20090409p2a00m0na004000c.html

KOFU — 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.

The office sent documents to the Kofu District Public Prosecutors Office accusing 60-year-old Masafumi Uchida, the president of a dry-cleaning company in Yamanashi Prefecture, of violating the Minimum Wage Law and Labor Standards Law.

The labor standards inspection office had been conducting an investigation after the Mainichi Shimbun reported on the treatment of the workers on Aug. 27 last year.

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.

(Mainichi Japan) April 9, 2009

ENDS

Japanese version with sparser details:

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

労基法違反:中国実習生に最低賃金未満 容疑で山梨の会社を書類送検

毎日新聞 2009年4月9日 東京朝刊

http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20090409ddm041040120000c.html

 中国人実習生を最低賃金未満の給与で働かせていたとして甲府労働基準監督署は8日、山梨県昭和町のクリーニング会社「テクノクリーン」と内田正文社長(60)を最低賃金法と労働基準法違反容疑で甲府地検に書類送検した。毎日新聞が08年8月27日付で報じ、同署が調べていた。

 容疑は07年2月~08年7月、雇用していた20~30代中国人女性実習生6人に対し、総額約1115万円を支払わなかったとしている。同県中央市の社会保険労務士の男性(37)も社長らに協力したとして、両法違反のほう助容疑で送検した。【中西啓介】

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

Foreign trainee abuse found at 452 entities

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

The job-training system for foreign trainees from developing countries was introduced to help them acquire technical expertise and skills from Japanese organizations, but it has often been misused by unscrupulous companies and organizations as a means to get unskilled workers from developing countries who will work for extremely low wages.

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.

(Apr. 11, 2009)
ENDS

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog.  Here come the stats.  The “Trainees” (mostly Chinese working non-laborers 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, so what, as I’ve said — they’re not Nikkei.  They don’t get any assistance.  Just the promise of a “review”of the “trainee visa system” 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, too bad:  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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

PS:  Love how the Mainichi classifies this as “National News” in English, but “Overseas News” (kaigai) in Japanese.  I guess the hundreds of thousands of “Trainees” saving our industries are not a domestic problem for Japanese readers.

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

National News

1,000 foreign trainees forced to return home as firms feel pinch

(Mainichi Japan) April 7, 2009, Courtesy Matt D and Jeff K

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20090407p2a00m0na014000c.html

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.

According to the survey held by the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau, a total of 1,007 foreign trainees left Japan between October last year and January before their contract period ended. Of that figure, 921 people were laid off due to their employers’ deteriorating business conditions, and 86 were dismissed after their host companies went bankrupt.

The figures have increased every month, quadrupling to 489 in January from 114 in October last year.

The trainees’ three-year contracts can be terminated if both parties agree, however, most of foreigners were forced to leave, according to the survey.

“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. The government should take some countermeasures.”

The central government is now reviewing the trainee program, including the guarantee of the trainees’ status, which is not covered by the current Labor Standards Law. A revision is expected to be made in May.

Japan received a total of 102,018 foreign trainees in 2007, according to the Immigration Bureau.

ENDS

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

海外

外国人研修生:1000人超が途中帰国 経営悪化や倒産で

http://mainichi.jp/select/world/news/20090407k0000m040125000c.html

 国の外国人研修・技能実習制度を利用して来日したが、受け入れ企業の倒産や事業縮小で途中帰国した外国人が昨年10月~今年1月で1000人を超えたことが、法務省入国管理局の初めての調査で分かった。原則3年認められている期間中の打ち切りは、受け入れ側と研修・実習生側が合意すれば認められるが、実際には企業側の都合で行われるケースが大半といい、市民団体は「実質的な派遣切り」と訴えている。

 東京や大阪など8カ所の入国管理局が、途中帰国した理由を不況の影響に絞って集計した。総数は1007人で、内訳は研修生222人、企業と雇用関係を結ぶ実習生が785人。月別では、昨年10月114人▽11月154人▽12月250人▽今年1月489人。

 理由は受け入れ企業の事業縮小や経営悪化が921人、企業の倒産が86人だった。

 入国管理局によると、07年に企業が受け入れた研修生は10万2018人。制度変更では、労働基準法の適用外になっている研修生の身分保障などが検討されている。

 「外国人研修生権利ネットワーク」(東京都台東区)の高原一郎さん(57)は「実習生らの多くは来日するため70万~100万円程度の借金をしており、途中で帰ると借金しか残らない。国は何らかの対策を打つべきだ」と指摘している。【松井聡】

毎日新聞 2009年4月7日 2時30分 

ENDS

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog. In my humble but loud opinion, good news:

Former Peruvian Prez Alberto Fujimori, who ran a corrupt government, parachuted into Japan for sanctuary in 2000 (getting a Japanese passport without due process), lived the life of a Tokyo elite with full impunity (despite extradition demands and an Interpol warrant for kidnapping and murder), bogged off back to Chile on private jet in 2005 to run for election in Peru (not to mention run for election here in Japan; the fool lost in both places).  Then the fool was arrested upon landing and later extradited back to Peru for trial.  Yesterday he finally got his:  A jail sentence for a quarter-century for executive excesses.  As in death squads. In complement to the six years he got in December 2007 for lesser charges.

Good. Rot there, you dreadful man.

Debito.org has said time and again why I have it in for this creep.  It’s not just because he leapfrogged genuine candidates for Japanese citizenship (claiming it by blood and spoils within weeks of faxing a resignation letter to Peru, from a Tokyo hotel!). It’s because a person like this could spoil it for every other Nikkei in South America. What other country would want to elect another possible Fujimori after all this?   Sorry, as wrongfully racist as that sentiment is, clear criminal activity is not going to help the assimilation and social advancement of others like him.  That man is quite simply a destroyer of anything that gets in his way.

But Fujimori, like many leaders in Latin American countries (think Simon Bolivar, Santa Anna, the Perons, or Porfirio Diaz), seems to have nine lives. And his elected daughter is jockeying to become president and pardon him. (Chip off the old block. Now that’s an important national priority and a key campaign plank! Kinda like another president invading Iraq to avenge his father…)

BTW, I saw on the Discovery Channel on Tuesday night a Canadian documentary about the siege of the Japanese Ambassador to Peru’s house in 1996-7. When the commandos were on tiptoe for 34 hours ready to go in, deputy Montesinos was trying to contact Fujimori to get final approval. Guess what. It took a while to reach him, because he was dealing with personal stuff — his divorce hearing! One would think a looming assault on your biggest national donor’s sovereign territory would take ultrapriority for a president.  Not a president like FJ.

Ecch. Again, what a dreadful man. Stay tuned. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

—————————

Peru’s Fujimori gets 25 years for death squad

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20090408p2g00m0in001000c.html

April 8, 2009. Courtesy lots of people.

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.

Outside court, pro- and anti-Fujimori activists fought with fists, sticks and rocks. About 50 people chanted “Fujimori killer!” while several hundred chanted “Fujimori innocent!” before riot police separated them.

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. None of the victims, the three-judge court found, were connected to any insurgency.

Presiding judge Cesar San Martin said there was no question Fujimori authorized the creation of the Colina unit, which the court said killed at least 50 people as the government battled Shining Path terror with a “parallel terror apparatus” of its own. He sentenced Fujimori to 25 years in prison, only five fewer than the maximum.

Victims’ family members nodded with satisfaction and shed tears in the courtroom as the verdict was read.

“For the first time, the memory of our relatives is dignified in a ruling that says none of the victims was linked to any terrorist group,” said Gisela Ortiz, whose brother was killed.

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.

His supporters in the courtroom shook their heads in disgust and groaned in exasperation. 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.

But some political analysts think Keiko Fujimori, 33, is more likely weakened by the verdict and would become a one-issue candidate. Her party has, after all, just 13 seats in Peru’s 120-member congress.

“It’s one thing to capitalize on the romantic image of the daughter defending a presumably innocent father, another defending a sentenced criminal,” said Nelson Manrique, a Catholic University professor.

Human rights activists heralded the case as the first in which a democratically elected former president was extradited and tried in his home country for rights violations.

Although none of the trial’s 80 witnesses directly accused Fujimori of ordering killings, kidnappings or disappearances, the court said the former mathematics professor and son of Japanese immigrants bore responsibility by allowing the Colina group to be formed.

It said Fujimori’s disgraced intelligence chief and close confidant, Vladimiro Montesinos, was in direct control of the unit.

And it noted that Fujimori freed jailed Colina members with a blanket 1995 amnesty for soldiers while state security agencies engaged in a “very complete and extensive” cover-up of the group’s deeds.

The Colina group was formed in 1991. In its first raid, using silencer-equipped machine guns, the group killed 15 people at a barbecue, including an 8-year-old boy. The intended victims, it turned out, lived on a different floor. The following year, the group “disappeared” nine students and a leftist professor at La Cantuta University.

In both cases, the killers targeted alleged sympathizers of the Shining Path, which was killing Peruvians with nearly daily car bombings. The group was devastated by the September 1992 arrest of its charismatic leader, Abimael Guzman, but some 500 Shining Path remnants remain active in Peru’s jungle, financed by the cocaine trade.

Fujimori also was convicted of two 1992 kidnappings: the 10-day abduction of opposition businessman Samuel Dyer and the one-day kidnapping of Gustavo Gorriti, a journalist who had criticized the president’s shuttering of the opposition-led Congress and courts.

In the trial, prosecutors presented declassified cables showing that U.S. diplomats including then-Ambassador Anthony Quainton repeatedly questioned Fujimori and his aides about reports of extrajudicial killings by his military.

“He never wanted to talk about it very much. He always, of course, said that human rights abuses were not tolerated by his government,” Quainton, now an American University professor, told The Associated Press by phone from Washington.

Fujimori has already been sentenced to six years in prison for abuse of power and faces two corruption trials, the first set to begin in May, on charges including bribing lawmakers and paying off a TV station.

His 10-year presidency ended in disgrace in 2000, when videotapes showed Montesinos, now serving a 20-year term for corruption and gunrunning, bribing lawmakers and businessmen. Fujimori fled to Japan, then attempted a return five years later via Chile.

Fujimori remains remarkably popular and his successors have maintained his market-friendly policies. Peru had Latin America’s strongest economic growth from 2002-2008, averaging 6.7 percent. A November poll found two-thirds of Peruvians approve of Fujimori’s rule.

In his final appeal Friday, Fujimori cast himself as a victim of political persecution, saying the charges against him reflect a double standard. Why, he asked, isn’t current President Alan Garcia also being prosecuted, since it was from Garcia, who also preceded him in office, that Fujimori inherited the messy conflict that would claim 70,000 lives.

Garcia denies responsibility for human rights abuses during his 1985-90 administration — and has the power to pardon Fujimori.

Human rights advocates called the verdict historic.

“What this verdict says is that these crimes did in fact happen and that Fujimori was in fact responsible for them, and that’s something Peruvians needed to hear,” said Maria McFarland, senior Americas researcher at Human Rights Watch, who was in the courtroom.

“For so many years, certain sectors in Peru have said that you have to look the other way and refused to acknowledge what happened.”

(Mainichi Japan) April 8, 2009

ENDS

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog. Turning the keyboard over to my friend in the Hokkaido outback, who is asking us for feedback about how to approach his local junior high school and help create a more positive learning environment for his child. Those with experience or advice, please let us know? Arudou Debito in Sapporo, less outback

//////////////////////////////
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.

========================
1. I am sorry to have to mention this and possibly I am sorry to use this sort of strong and possibly rude language. In English it is okay in Japanese I don’t know and most people prefer to keep quiet because they don’t want the reputation of being “noisy”

2. Last year when I heard that some students here did not respect this building and were damaging things my initial reaction was “why is anybody surprised?” In my opinion any damage here will not make this building look any worse than it does.

3. I don’t think you could find a school in the entire country of Canada whose walls and ceilings looked as bad as this school. This place is dingy. The sarcastic comment that most Canadian parents would make in this case would be:

4. Does anybody here in authority know what paint is?…It comes in tins and 20 liter pails…It costs about 500,000yen per ton…It is quickly put on by brush, roller, or spray…It is great for making buildings look fresh and bright and clean. 2 of the buildings I went to school in were over 60 years old. They didn’t look this bad because they were repainted at least every 10 years.

5. In my opinion the walls and ceilings in this school need cleaning, patching and a new paint job! If this happened a great number of students would take more pride in this building. Most of them would treat it with much greater respect. There would be massive group disapproval of any one deliberately or accidentally causing damage. It would pay off in much higher student morale and thus effort towards listening to teachers, paying attention in class, and caring about what is taught and trying to learn.

6. I don’t think this was a problem for any of the parents or teachers in this room when you went to school. You were much closer in time to when coming to school meant sacrifices. Maybe your parents or grandparents couldn’t go to school. Maybe someone in their family skipped meals so they or someone else in their family could go to school.

7. Another thing is that maybe when you went to school the buildings were much newer and looked much better.

I am also quite sure that almost all of your homes look better than this school and that none of you would be happy living in a house that looked like this school without trying very hard to make it look better.

8. It would also pay off in much higher teacher morale. Teachers would find their days less stressful and if student morale improved they would of course be much happier.

9. I think that the PTA should make the effort to start the ball rolling to paint this school. We should try to do this for the teachers who teach here, our children who spend so much time in class and clubs and for the children that come after them when they graduate. We should try even if we have to raise the money for paint, and volunteer a lot to help out in preparing the walls for paint and doing the cleanup. IMO it would show our children and their teachers how much we care about the value of education.

 

10. Towards this goal here is 20,000 yen.

Comments?
ENDS

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog. This month’s JUST BE CAUSE column was a challenge because of the news cycle.  I had originally written this month’s JBC about three weeks ago, before I went on the SOUR STRAWBERRIES movie tour.  Here I was thinking I was Mr. Prepared and all that.  However, I arrived back in Sapporo on April 1 to hear  news of this special GOJ bribe for Nikkei, and realized that story took precedence.  But my first draft of the JBC column was due April 2, so within 24 hours I pounded out something of hopefully passable quality.  It was, and the next three days were spent refining the original 1150-word draft into the 1550-worder you see below.  Not too dusty.  I feel fortunate to be a columnist with time to think, as opposed to a reporter with a much stricter set of news deadlines…  Arudou Debito in Sapporo
justbecauseicon.jpg
JUST BE CAUSE
Golden parachutes’ mark failure of race-based policy
By DEBITO ARUDOU

Japan Times, April 7, 2009
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090407ad.html

Japan’s employment situation has gotten pretty dire, especially for non-Japanese workers. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry reports that between last November and January, more than 9,000 foreigners asked the Hello Work unemployment agency for assistance — 11 times the figure for the same period a year earlier.

The ministry also claims that non-Japanese don’t know Japan’s language and corporate culture, concluding that they’re largely unemployable. So select regions are offering information centers, language training, and some degree of job placement. Good.

But read the small print: Not only does this plan only target 5,000 people, but the government is also trying to physically remove the only people they can from unemployment rosters — the foreigners.

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 (see www.mhlw.go.jp/houdou/2009/03/dl/h0331-10a.pdf ).

History is repeating itself, in a sense. These nikkei beneficiaries are the descendants of beneficiaries of another of Japan’s schemes to export its unemployed. A century ago, Japan sent farmers to Brazil, America, Canada, Peru and other South American countries. Over the past two decades, however, Japan has brought nikkei back under yet another wheeze to utilize their cheap labor. This time, however, if they take the ticket back “home,” they can’t return — at least not under the same preferential work visa.

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.

How did this all come to pass? Time for a little background.

Japan had a huge labor shortage in its blue-collar industries in the late 1980s, and realized, with the rise in the value of the yen and high minimum wages, that Japan’s exports were being priced out of world markets.

Japan’s solution (like that of other developed countries) was to import cheaper foreign labor. However, as a new documentary entitled “Sour Strawberries: Japan’s Hidden ‘Guest Workers’ ” ( www.cinemabstruso.de/strawberries/main.html ) reveals, Japan’s policy was fundamentally different. Elites worried about debasing Japan’s supposedly “homogeneous” society with foreigners who might stay, so the official stance remained “No immigration” and “No import of unskilled labor.”

But that was all tatemae — a facade. Urged by business lobbies such as the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), Japan created a visa regime from 1990 to import foreign laborers (mostly Chinese) as “trainees,” ostensibly to learn a skill, but basically to put them in factories and farms doing unskilled “dirty, difficult, and dangerous” labor eschewed by Japanese. More importantly, trainees were getting paid less than half minimum wage (as they were not legally “workers” under labor law) and receiving no social welfare.

Even the offer of competitive wages was tatemae. Although some trainees were reportedly working 10 to 15 hours a day (one media outlet mentioned 22-hour days!), six to seven days a week including holidays, they found themselves receiving sums so paltry they beggared belief — think ¥40,000 a month! A Chinese trainee interviewed in “Sour Strawberries” said he wound up earning the same as he would in China. Others received even less, being charged by employers for rent, utilities and food on top of that.

Abuses proliferated. Trainees were harassed and beaten, found their passports confiscated and pay withheld, and were even fired without compensation if they were injured on the job. One employer hired thugs to force his Chinese staff to board a plane home. But trainees couldn’t just give up and go back. Many had received travel loans to come here, and if they returned early they would be in default, sued by their banks and ruined. Thus they were locked into abusive jobs they could neither complain about nor quit without losing their visa and livelihoods overseas.

As labor union leader Ippei Torii explains in “Sour Strawberries,” this government-sponsored but largely unregulated trainee program made so many employers turn bad that places without worker abuses were “very rare.”

But trainees weren’t the only ones getting exploited. 1990 was also the year the long-term resident visa was introduced for the nikkei. However, unlike the trainees, they were given labor law protections and unlimited employment opportunities — supposedly to allow them to “explore their heritage” (while being worked 10 to 15 hours a day, six days a week).

Why this “most-favored visa status” for the nikkei? Elites, in their ever-unchallenged wisdom, figured nikkei would present fewer assimilation problems. After all, they have Japanese blood, ergo the prerequisite understanding of Japan’s unique culture and garbage-sorting procedures. So, as LDP and Keidanren policymakers testified in “Sour Strawberries,” it was deemed unnecessary to create any integration policy, or even to make them feel like they “belong” in Japan. It was completely counterproductive and demoralizing for an enthusiastic workforce. A nikkei interviewed in the film mentioned how overseas she felt like a Japanese, yet in Japan she ultimately felt like a foreigner.

So over the past 20 years Japan has invited over a million non-Japanese to come here and work. And work they did, many in virtual indentured servitude. Yet instead of being praised for all their contributions, they became scapegoats. They engendered official opprobrium for alleged rises in crime and overstaying (even though per-capita crime rates were higher among Japanese than foreigners, and the number of visa overstayers has dropped every year since 1993). They were also bashed for not learning the language (when they actually had little time to study, let alone attend Japanese classes offered by a handful of merciful local governments) — nothing but disincentives toward settling in Japan.

The policy was doomed to failure. And fail it did on April Fool’s Day, when the government confirmed that nikkei didn’t actually belong here, and offered them golden parachutes. Of course, it was a race-based benefit, unavailable to wrong-blooded trainees, who have to make it home on their own dime (perhaps with some fines added on for overstaying) to face financial ruin.

It’s epiphany time. Japan’s policymakers haven’t evolved beyond an early Industrial-Revolution mind set, which sees people (well, foreigners, anyway) as mere work units. Come here, work your ass off, then go “home” when we have no more use for you; it’s the way we’ve dealt many times before with foreigners, and the way we’ll probably deal with those Indonesian and Filipino care workers we’re scheming to come take care of our elderly. Someday, potential immigrants will realize that our government is just using people, but the way things are going we eventually won’t be rich enough for them to overlook that.

What should be done instead? Japan must take responsibility. You invited foreigners over here, now treat them like human beings. Give all of them the same labor rights and job training that you’d give every worker in Japan, and free nationwide Japanese lessons to bring them up to speed. Reward them for their investment in our society and their taxes paid. Do what you can to make them more comfortable and settled. And stop bashing them: Let Japanese society know why foreigners are here and what good they’ve done for our country. You owe them that much for the best part of their lives they’ve given you.

Don’t treat foreigners like toxic waste, sending them overseas for somebody else to deal with, and don’t detoxify our society under the same race-based paradigms that got us into this situation in the first place. You brought this upon yourselves through a labor policy that ignored immigration and assimilation. Now deal with it here, in Japan, by helping non-Japanese residents of whatever background make Japan their home.

That’s not a radical proposal. Given our low-birthrate, aging-society demographics, experts have been urging you to do this for a decade now. This labor downturn won’t last forever, and when things pick up again you’ll have a younger, more acculturated, more acclimatized, even grateful workforce to help pick up the pieces. Just sending people back, where they will tell others about their dreadful years in Japan being exploited and excluded, is on so many levels the wrong thing to do.

Debito Arudou is organizing nationwide screenings of “Sour Strawberries” in late August and early September; contact him at debito@debito.org to arrange a screening. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 6, 2009

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 6, 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

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

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

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
NEWS:
1) See I told you so #1: Newcomer PR outnumber Oldcomer Zainichis as of 2007

Mainichi: With more and more foreign residents facing employment and immigration problems due to the ongoing recession, the Ministry of Justice is creating new “One Stop Centers” for foreign residents in the Kanto and Tokai regions to handle queries in one place…

The number of native and Japan-born Koreans with special permanent residency, who have lived in Japan since the pre-war period, has been declining. However, the number of Chinese and Filipinos, as well as foreigners of Japanese descent whose employment was liberalized under the 1990 revision to the Law on Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition, has surged. In 2007, the number of these so-called “new comers” exceeded that of special permanent residents for the first time (440,000 vs. 430,000).

COMMENT: Believe Immigration’s plausibly pleasant intentions if you like, but I’ll remain a little skeptical for the moment. Still mentioned is that hackneyed and ludicrous concern about garbage separation, after all, demonstrating that the GOJ is still dealing in trivialities; it might take a little while before the government sees what true assimilation actually means. It’s not just giving information to NJ. It’s also raising awareness amongst the Japanese public about why NJ are here in the first place.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2852

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

2) NPA enforcing Hotel Management Law against exclusionary Prince Hotel Tokyo

Asahi: Police sent papers to prosecutors Tuesday against the operator of a Tokyo hotel that refused entry to the Japan Teachers Union for its annual convention, fearing protests by right-wing groups.

Police said Prince Hotels Inc., its president, Yukihiro Watanabe, 61, the 52-year-old general manager of three Prince group hotels, and managers of the company’s administration and reception departments are suspected of violating the Hotel Business Law.

COMMENT: This is a good precedent. The police are at last enforcing the Hotel Management Law, which says you can’t refuse people unless there are no rooms, there’s a threat to public health, or a threat to public morals. But hotels sometimes refuse foreigners, even have signs up to that effect. They can’t legally do that, but last time I took it before the local police box in Tokyo Ohkubo, they told me they wouldn’t enforce the law. Not in this case.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2766

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

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

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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=2837

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

4) Mainichi: Tourism to Japan plunges by over 40% compared to last year

Mainichi: The JNTO said Wednesday that 408,800 foreigners visited Japan in February, a 41.3 percent decrease from the same month the previous year. The rate of decline was the second largest since statistics were first kept in 1961, after a 41.8 percent reduction in August 1971, the year following the Osaka Expo.

COMMENT: We have tourism to Japan plunging, the second-highest drop in history. Of course, the high yen and less disposable income to go around worldwide doesn’t help, but the Yokoso Japan campaign to bring 10 million tourists to Japan is definitely not succeeding. Not helping are some inhospitable, even xenophobic Japanese hotels, or the fingerprinting campaign at the border (which does not only affect “tourists”) grounded upon anti-terror, anti-crime, and anti-contageous-disease policy goals. Sorry, Japan, must do better. Get rid of the NJ fingerprinting campaign, for starters.

Very active discussion on the causes of the drop at
http://www.debito.org/?p=2840

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

5) Metropolis Mag on how to get your housing deposit (shikikin) back

THAT SHIKIKIN FEELING
METROPOLIS MAGAZINE (TOKYO) DELVES INTO THE CONFUSING WORLD OF APARTMENT DEPOSITS
AND HOW TO GET THEM BACK

You may feel like you’ve had to wrestle with all kinds of bureaucracy to land that perfect 1DK apartment, but the fun and games don’t end when the contract is stamped. Moving out can present a whole new world of hassle. For many tenants, both foreign and Japanese, the hard-earned shikikin (deposit) they paid when they moved in becomes nothing but a distant memory, as landlords have their way with the cash and return only the change to the renter.

Kazutaka Hayakawa works for the NPO Shinshu Matsumoto Alps Wind, a group that specializes in helping get that deposit back. Here he offers up the basics on renters’ rights…

http://www.debito.org/?p=2801

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

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

Mainichi: 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! H ere’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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2860

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

7) Ekonomisuto March 10 2009 re worsening job and living conditions for Nikkei Brazilians et al.

Shuukan Ekonomisuto (from Mainichi Shinbun presses) dated March 10, 2009 had yet another great article on how things are going for Nikkei NJ et al.

Highlights: Numbers of Nikkei Brazilians are dropping (small numbers in the area surveyed) as economic conditions are so bad they can’t find work. Those who can go back are the lucky ones, in the sense that some with families can’t afford the multiple plane tickets home, let alone their rents. Local NGOs are helping out, and even the Hamamatsu City Government is offering them cheap public housing, and employing them on a temporary basis. Good. Lots of fieldwork and individual stories are included to illustrate people’s plights.

The pundits are out in force offering some reasonable assessments. Labor union leader Torii Ippei wonders if the recent proposals to reform the Trainee Visa system and loosen things up vis-a-vis Gaijin Cards and registration aren’t just a way to police NJ better, and make sure that NJ labor stays temp, on a 3-year revolving door. Sakanaka Hidenori says that immigration is the only answer to the demographic realities of low birthrate and population drop. The LDP proposed a bill in February calling for the NJ population to become 10% of the total pop (in other words, 10 million people) within fifty years, as a taminzoku kyousei kokka (a nation where multicultures coexist). A university prof named Tanno mentions the “specialness” (tokushu) of nihongo, and asks if the GOJ has made up its mind about getting people fluent in the language. Another prof at Kansai Gakuin says that the EU has come to terms with immigration and labor mobility, and if Japan doesn’t it will be the places that aren’t Tokyo or major industrial areas suffering the most.

The biggest question is posed once again by the Ekonomisuto article: Is Japan going to be a roudou kaikoku or sakoku? It depends on the national government, of course, is the conclusion I glean.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2721

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

8 ) Mainichi: Lawson hiring more NJ, offering Vietnamese scholarships

On the heels of 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2868

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

9) Japan Times on Japan’s emerging NJ policing laws. Nichibenren: “violation of human rights”

Japan Times: The Japan Federation of Bar Associations and nonprofit organizations voiced concern Wednesday that bills to revise immigration laws will violate the human rights of foreign residents.

Namba and Nobuyuki Sato of the Research-Action Institute for the Koreans in Japan urged lawmakers to amend the bills so the state can’t use the zairyu card code number as a “master key” to track every detail of foreigners’ lives. “Such a thing would be unacceptable to Japanese, and (the government) must explain why it is necessary for foreigners,” Sato said.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2833

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

10) Mark in Yayoi on cop checkpoint #123, and “Cops”-style TV show transcript

Turning the keyboard over to Mark in Yayoi, who has just been stopped for the 123rd time by the Japanese police for an ID Check.

This time, however, he was stopped and demanded a bag search. Although NJ are not protected against random ID checks (if he shows, you must show), random searches are in fact something protected against by the Constitution (Article 35) if you don’t feel like cooperating. But tell the cops that. He did. See what happened.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2806

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

11) Japanese also fingerprinted, at Narita, voluntarily, for “convenience” (not terrorism or crime)

As many of you know (or have experienced, pardon the pun, firsthand), Japan reinstituted its fingerprinting for most non-Japanese, be they tourist or Regular Permanent Resident, at the border from November 2007. The policy justification was telling: prevention of terrorism, crime, and infectious diseases. As if these are a matter of nationality.

Wellup, it isn’t, as it’s now clear what the justification really is for. It’s for the GOJ to increase its database of fingerprints, period, of everyone. Except they knew they couldn’t sell it to the Japanese public (what with all the public outrage over the Juuki-Net system) as is. So Immigration is trying to sell automatic fingerprinting machines at Narita to the public as a matter of “simplicity, speed and convenience” (tansoka, jinsokuka ribensei).

http://www.debito.org/?p=2745

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

REVIEWS:
12) Thoughts on Suo Masayuki’s movie “I just didn’t do it”: A must-see.

See Suo Masayuki’s movie SORE DE MO, BOKU WA YATTENAI (I Just Didn’t Do It), everyone. I did. It’s an excellent illustration of court procedure in Japan long, drawn-out, well researched, and necessarily tedious. Experience vicariously what you might go through if arrested in Japan.

Don’t think it just won’t happen to you. Random searches on the street without probable cause are permitted by law only for NJ. If you’re arrested, you will be incarcerated for the duration of your trial, no matter how many years it takes, even if you are adjudged innocent (the Prosecution generally appeals), because NJ are not allowed bail (only a minority of Japanese get it as well, but the number is not zero; NJ are particularly seen as a flight risk, and there are visa overstay issues). And NJ have been convicted without material evidence (see Idubor Case). Given the official association with NJ and crime, NJ are more likely to be targeted, apprehended, and incarcerated than a Japanese.

If it happens to you, as SOREBOKU demonstrates, you will disappear for days if not weeks, be ground down by police interrogations, face months if not years in trial if you maintain innocence, have enormous bills from court and lawyers’ fees (and if you lose your job for being arrested, as often happens, you have no income), and may be one of the 0.1 percent of people who emerge unscathed; well, adjudged innocent, anyway.

Like getting sick in the US (and finding that the health care system could destroy your life), getting arrested in Japan could similarly ruin yours. It’s Japan’s SICKO system…

http://www.debito.org/?p=2705

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

13) Audience reactions to documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES roadshow March 21-April 1
Next showing Sapporo Apr 23, organizing next roadshow August-September

Some various and sundry thoughts on audience reactions to the excellent SOUR STRAWBERRIES documentary as we finish up the last screenings (thinking about another August-September tour, so book me if you’re interested), and consider what the movie may mean in the context of international labor migration. In sum, SOUR STRAWBERRIES may be a testiment to the last days of Japan’s internationalized industrial prowess, as people are being turfed out because no matter how many years and how much contribution, they don’t belong. Have to wait and see. But to me it’s clear the GOJ is still not getting beyond seeing NJ as work units as opposed to workers and people. Especially in these times of economic hardship. I saw it for myself as the movie toured.

http://www.debito.org/?p=282

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

http://japanvisitor.blogspot.com/2009/04/arudou-debito-and-sour-strawberries.html

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. More at:
http://www.debito.org/?p=2894

If you’d like to contact the directors or order a copy of the movie (it’s a great educational aid), go to:
http://www.cinemabstruso.de/strawberries/main.html

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

14) Debito.org has citations in 37 books, according to Amazon

Just indulge me a little here as I talk about something that impressed me about the power of the Internet.

It started during a search on Amazon.com two weeks, when I found an amazing avenue for researching insides of books for excerpts.

I realized I could go through and see just how often Debito.org is being cited as a resource in respectable print publications. I soon found myself busy: 37 books refer in some way to me by name or things archived here. I cite them all below from most recent publication on down.

Amazing. Debito.org as a domain has been going strong since 1997, and it’s taken some time to establish a degree of credibility. But judging by the concentration of citations in recent years, the cred seems to be compounding.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2786

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

15) The definition of “Gaijin” according to Tokyu Hands Nov 17, 2008

Here’s the definition of “gaijin” not according to me (a la my Japan Times columns), but rather according to the marketplace. Here’s a photo sent in by an alert shopper, from Tokyu Hands November 17, 2008.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2012

Note what makes a prototypical “gaijin” by Japanese marketing standards: blue eyes, big nose, cleft chin, and outgoing manner. Not to mention English-speaking. Yep, we’re all like that. Anyone for buying some bucked-tooth Lennon-glasses to portray Asians in the same manner? Naw, that would get you in trouble with the anti-defamation leagues overseas. Seems to me we need a league like that over here…

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

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

A quick tangent for a weekend blogging: 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2889

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

All for today. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org

Speaking schedule at http://www.debito.org/?page_id=1672
Please feel free to contact me if you would like a presentation in your area.
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 6, 2009 ENDS

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

 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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar

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).  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog. 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. Debito

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

Hello Mr. Arudou:
Allow us to introduce ourselves. We are friends of LA Times reporter Leslie Helm from the time we all lived in Yokohama, Japan.
He recommended you as a person who can help with a flag that belonged to a Japanese soldier who died in the Philippines during WW2.
Briefly, here is the story:
A colleague’s father died recently and among his belongings was a flag he had found in the battlefield in Luzon during WW2. We were asked to read the writing on the flag (attached herewith).
dscn0376
It belonged to a Japanese soldier named Niimi Atsuyuki. The signatures of many well-wishers are on the flag, among them the Chief of the Otaru Municipal Hospital at that time. Mr. Niimi was a staff member of this hospital when he was drafted and sent to the Philippines.

As I mentioned, the flag belongs to my colleague. When his father died, the flag was brought to their home for safe keeping. Julie and I were asked to translate the writing on the flag (with the help of Julie’s Japanese friends), during which time we had the honor of keeping the flag in my home for a few days. Julie’s Japanese friends knelt in front of the flag and prayed for the repose of the soldier, while I played a Japanese KOMORI UTA on my flute. The moment had a profound impact on all of us.
When I related this scene to my colleague and her boyfriend, they agreed with me that the right thing to do would be to return the flag to the soldier’s family.
We contacted kokusai-koryu@city.otaru.hokkaido.jp (a stab in the dark) where a very helpful staff member, Mr. Hoshina Eiji, researched and located two living descendants of the WW2 soldier: Mrs. XXXXX (wife of the soldier’s brother, now 84 years old, and XXXX-san’s daughter, Mrs. XXXX (niece of the soldier). Their address is [deleted].
The colleague will ultimately return the flag to the soldier’s family, but he also hopes that the publicity you create in Otaru may bring forward the descendants of the people whose well-wishes and signatures are on the flag. The colleague’s wish is to make an impact, in honor of the WW2 soldier, on the descendants of all the people who were in his brief life of only 22 years before he died.
Mr. Arudou, would you publicize this story in honor of two WW2 soldiers, one an American in whose safekeeping this flag survived all these years, and one a Japanese whose life and medical career were cut short?
Thank you in advance for your help. Julie and Tyler
ENDS

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog. A review from Japan Visitor Blog on documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES.

http://japanvisitor.blogspot.com/2009/04/arudou-debito-and-sour-strawberries.html

Excerpt:

“…I attended a meeting in Tokyo at the end of last month, part of a 10-day tour of the Kanto and Kansai regions by Arudou Debito, where he promoted the documentary Sour Strawberries – Japan’s hidden guest workers. 

Sour Strawberries is a 60-minute film shot in Tokyo in March 2008 by a German-Japanese film crew that focuses on the issue of discrimination in Japan, mainly as it affects foreign workers from other Asian countries.

Numerous interviews in the film reveal the blatancy of discrimination in Japan, with foreign workers treated very much like slaves, most notably the workers who inspired the film’s title: strawberry pickers from China who worked days of at least 12 hours, 365 days a year, and whose passports were taken from them by their employer.

Union activism in defense of victims of discrimination in Japan is also liberally documented, the most startling example being the story told by a Japanese union activist, Torii Ippei of the Zentôitsu Workers Union, who, in response to his efforts in one case involving foreign workers, was doused in gasoline and set alight by the infuriated employer….”

 

 

 

 

Go check out the site. There’s even an awful picture of me. The things I do to show off “Japanese Only” T-shirts…

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:

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

THURS APRIL 23, 2009.  7PM

Sapporo L-Plaza for Hokkaido International Business Association (HIBA)

Sapporo Chuo-ku Kita 8 Nishi 3

http://www.danjyo.sl-plaza.jp/information/index.html

(just off JR Sapporo Station’s North Exit (kitaguchi), follow the underground exits to the very end).  

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

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Tangent: 1940 Herblock cartoon on inaction towards Hitler

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog.  Little tangent on a Saturday.  My travel reading was HERBLOCK:  A CARTOONIST’S LIFE, by Herbert Block.  He’s that cartoonist who caricatured presidential administrations from Hoover to Clinton.  I loved his work for its prescience and insight.

My favorite cartoon out of the 200 in the book was one about Hitler in 1940.  Have a gander:

herblockcartoon001

The reason I love this so much is because it demonstrates that inaction towards the inevitable, justified by self-convincing sophistries, is timeless.  We learned this history in retrospect, where Americans apparently took up arms promptly against a clearly evil foe, came to Europe’s aid, vanquished the Axis Powers and saved the world.  Not so.  As this cartoon illustrates brilliantly, it took nearly a decade of dithering (practically until 1945 before people even believed Nazi Germany had extermination camps!) before people finally did what they had to do.  Meanwhile, they came up with all sorts of intelligent-sounding arguments to justify doing nothing.

How does this relate to Debito.org?  Because we get the same sort of arguments for doing nothing, say, against the evil of clear and present racial discrimination in Japan.  We say it’s some kind of misunderstanding, language, or cultural barrier.  Or that foreigners brought it upon themselves.  Or that Japan’s unique culture or long history of being a closed island society makes it special or blind to the issue.  Or that once the older generation dies out or people travel more or get used to foreigners things will change.  Or that fundamental attitudes won’t change even if we make a racial discrimination law illegal.  Or that Japan actually is a fundamentally thoroughbred pure society and should be kept pristine.  Or that people are imposing outsider values on the poor put-upon Japanese people.  Or that international treaty is not binding enough to justify a law when we have an adequate judiciary…  

There, that’s eight intelligent-sounding pseudo-scientific arguments, just like in the cartoon above.

But they’re all bullshit.  There is no getting around the fact we need a law against racial discrimination.  Now.

But people, as history shows, will even make arguments for doing nothing against Hitler.

They are on the wrong side of history.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Mainichi: Lawson hiring more NJ, offering Vietnamese scholarships

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog.  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 by the stricken NJ community.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Lawson boosts number of foreign fulltime employees

(Mainichi Japan) April 2, 2009, courtesy of Jeff K.

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20090402p2a00m0na003000c.html

Japanese convenience store chain Lawson almost quadrupled the number of fulltime foreign employees it hired this spring as it searches for a new growth path amid stagnant consumption and fierce competition in the industry.

“Let’s create innovative ideas by fusing diverse views and different cultures,” said Takeshi Niinami, the president of Lawson, Inc. The company started hiring foreigners as regular employees last spring.

Compared to last year’s 10 new foreign employees, the convenience store giant hired 39 new workers, who studied in Japan, among a total of 122 regular employees this spring, made up of 28 Chinese, four South Koreans, three Taiwanese, two Vietnamese and one each from Indonesia and Bangladesh.

According to the company, like their Japanese counterparts, the foreign employees will work at directly-managed stores across Japan for about three years.

ENDS

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

ローソン新入社員:3割超はアジアの外国人…多彩な価値観

毎日新聞 2009年4月1日

http://mainichi.jp/select/biz/news/20090402k0000m040057000c.html

 大手コンビニエンスストア、ローソンに1日入社した122人の新入社員のうち、日本に留学した中国などアジア出身の外国人が3割超の39人を占めた。消費低迷と競争激化で国内市場が頭打ちとなる中、異なった価値観を持つ人材をそろえ、新たな成長の糸口をつかむのが狙いだ。

 39人の出身地は中国28、韓国4、台湾3、ベトナム2、インドネシア、バングラデシュの各1人。初の外国人採用となった昨春の10人から、一気に3倍以上に増えた。

 新浪剛史社長は東京都内で行った入社式で「多様な考え、異なる文化を持った新入社員が交ざり合い、わくわくするような新しい発想を生み出していこう」と激励した。

 同社によると入社後は外国人社員も日本人と同様、3年前後、全国の直営店で接客業務をこなす。08年の新入社員では、おせち料理の予約数で日本人以上の好成績を上げた人材もいたという。

ENDS

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

ローソン、ベトナムの留学生向け奨学金制度を設立

平成21年3月25日 毎日オンライン

http://mainichi.jp/select/biz/release/01/news/20090325p0400a021017000c.html

 ローソン(東京品川区:代表取締役社長CEO 新浪剛史)は、2009年4月より、日本に留学を希望するベトナムの学生のための奨学金制度を設立し、人材育成に民間レベルで貢献いたします。

 一期生2名が3月に来日し、4月より日本の学校に入学いたします。

 ローソンは商品の原材料調達の縁を発端に、ベトナムとの関係を築いてまいりました。

 ベトナムの学生は勤勉で、多くの学生が日本への留学を希望していると知り、今回の制度を設立致しました。この制度がベトナムの発展に寄与し、日本との友好がさらに深まることを期待しています。

<年間募集人員>

 2009年度を初年度とし、毎年新たに25名を募集致します。

 特待生:5名

 一般生:20名

 (4月入学の2名を含み、今年度合計25名となります。)

◎給付内容

▼対象者

 日本の大学に留学を希望するベトナムの25才以下の男女

▼給付期間

 日本に在留し学校で学んでいる期間(最大6年:一年毎に更新面談)

▼給付金額

 特待生(20才以下):年間120万円 住宅補助月3万円

 一般生(25才以下):年間30万円 住宅補助なし

◎選考フロー

▼10月入学

 4月ベトナム国内にて説明会 → 5月・7月に選考 → 合否通知

▼4月入学

 10月ベトナム国内にて説明会 → 11月・12月に選考 → 合否発表

 (募集に関する説明会をハノイ市とホーチミン市にて実施)

◎その他

 奨学金の返済は不要です。但し、中途退学および成績不良の場合は返済義務が発生します。

■問い合わせ先■ローソン[2651.T]

※発表日 2009年3月24日

以 上

2009年3月25日 ends

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog.  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, job training, or other social benefits that are entitled to real residents and contributors to this country.

Why did I have the feeling this was coming?  Arudou Debito back in Sapporo

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

(Article courtesy of lots of people, thanks!)

Original Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare proposal in Japanese, courtesy of Silvio:

http://www.mhlw.go.jp/houdou/2009/03/dl/h0331-10a.pdf

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

Japan gives cash to jobless foreigners to go home

(Mainichi Japan and Japan Today) April 1, 2009

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20090401p2g00m0dm008000c.html

and

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/govt-to-pay-travel-costs-of-returning-workers-with-japanese-ancestry

TOKYO (AP) — 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 number of foreigners seeking government help to find jobs has climbed in recent months to 11 times the previous year at more than 9,000 people, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

“The program is to respond to a growing social problem,” said ministry official Hiroshi Yamashita.

Japan has tight immigration laws, and generally allows only skilled foreign workers to enter the country. The new program applies only to Brazilians and Peruvians of Japanese ancestry who have gotten special visas to do assembly line and other manufacturing labor. It does not apply to other foreigners in Japan, Yamashita said.

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.

The visa program for South Americans of Japanese ancestry was introduced partly in response to a labor shortage in Japan, where the population is shrinking and aging. But the need for such workers has dwindled in recent months after the global financial crisis hit last year. The jobless rate has risen to 4.4 percent, a three-year high.

Tokyo has already allocated 1.08 billion yen ($10.9 million) for training, including Japanese language lessons, for 5,000 foreign workers of Japanese ancestry.

Major companies traditionally offer lifetime employment to their rank and file, and so workers hired on temporary contracts have been the first to lose their jobs in this recession.

(Mainichi Japan) April 1, 2009

ENDS

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

Japan government gives cash for jobless foreigners of Japanese ancestry to go home

Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer
Yahoo Finance Wednesday April 1, 2009, 10:34 am EDT

TOKYO (AP) — Japan is offering $3,000 for a plane ticket home to some foreigners who have lost their jobs, a sign of just how bad the economic slump has gotten.

The program, which began Wednesday, applies only to several hundred thousand South Americans of Japanese descent on special visas for factory work. The government’s motivation appears to be three-fold: help the workers get home, ease pressure on the domestic labor market and potentially get thousands of people off the unemployment rolls.

“The program is to respond to a growing social problem,” said Hiroshi Yamashita, an official at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, referring to joblessness, which has climbed to a three-year high of 4.4 percent.

But there may not be too many takers for the 300,000 yen ($3,000) handout, plus 200,000 yen ($2,000) for each family member. The money comes with strings attached: The workers cannot return to Japan on the same kind of visa.

Given Japan’s strict immigration laws, that means most won’t be able to come back to work in Japan, where wages are higher than in Latin America.

“It is not necessarily a totally welcome deal,” said Iwao Nishiyama, of the Association of Nikkei & Japanese Abroad, a government-backed organization that connects people of Japanese ancestry.

The government’s offer — as well as the backdrop of history that has given birth to a vibrant community of South Americans of Japanese ancestry here — highlight this nation’s complex views on foreigners and cultural identity.

Many Japanese consider their culture homogenous, even though there are sizeable minorities of Koreans and Chinese, as well as Ainu, the indigenous people of northern Japan.

In the early 1990s, Tokyo relaxed its relatively tight immigration laws to allow special entry permits for foreigners of Japanese ancestry in South America to make up for a labor shortage at this nation’s then-booming factories.

They took the so-called “three-K” jobs, standing for “kitsui, kitanai, kiken” — meaning “hard, dirty, dangerous” — jobs Japanese had previously shunned.

Before their arrival, many such jobs had gone to Iranians and Chinese. But the government saw their influx — much of it illegal — as a problem and was eager to find a labor pool it felt would more easily adapt to Japanese society, said Nishiyama of Japanese Abroad association.

So by virtue of their background, these foreigners of Japanese descent — called “Nikkei” in Japanese — were offered special visa status.

“They may speak some Japanese, and have a Japanese way of thinking,” Nishiyama said. “They have Japanese blood, and they work hard.”

The workers are mainly descendants of Japanese who began emigrating to Latin America around the turn of the last century.

Brazil has the biggest population of ethnic Japanese outside Japan, numbering about 1.5 million. Last year marked the 100th year of Japanese immigration to Brazil. Initially many ventured to toil in coffee plantations and other farms.

Brazilians are the most numerous of such foreigners in Japan, totaling about 310,000 overall in 2007, the latest tally available. Peruvians are next at 59,000. Those from other South American nations were fewer at 6,500 Bolivians, 3,800 Argentineans and 2,800 Colombians.

Nearly all work manufacturing jobs, many through job referral agencies. Major companies, like Toyota Motor Corp., have relied on contract employees to keep a flexible plant work force.

Foreign workers in Japan are entitled to the basic unemployment and other benefits that Japanese workers get. Though rates vary, Japan provides about 7,000 yen ($71) a day in unemployment — which would equal about $2,100 per month.

Still, Nikkei are sometimes victims of discrimination in Japan, as they are culturally different and aren’t always fluent in Japanese. As a result, many have had a hard time blending into Japanese society.

Now, as the economy worsens, many find themselves out of jobs.

The government doesn’t track the number of jobless foreigners, but the number of foreigners showing up at government-run centers for job referral has climbed in recent months to 11 times the previous year at more than 9,000 people, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Overall, the government estimates that some 192,000 temporary workers who had jobs in October, including Japanese, are expected to be jobless by June. Experts fear such numbers are growing.

In addition to the handout offer the government is also helping Nikkei find jobs in Japan.

“These are like two sides of the same effort to assist people of Japanese ancestry,” said Yamashita of the labor ministry.

Tokyo has already allocated 1.08 billion yen ($10.9 million) for training, including Japanese language lessons, for 5,000 foreign workers.

Fausto Kishinami, 32, manager at a Brazilian restaurant in Oizumimachi, a city with a large Japanese-Brazilian population, said none of his friends are applying for the government money because of the no-return condition.

“I don’t think people should take that money,” he said, adding that he hasn’t gone home in eight years, and is focused on his work in Japan.

Some 20 percent to 30 percent of the South American foreigners of Japanese ancestry are estimated to have already returned home, said Nishiyama. They have paid their own way back and may return, once a recovery brings fresh opportunities, he said.

ENDS

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

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog.  An update on how Japan’s police forces are cracking down on the nastiness of the Internet.  About time.  Now if only Japan’s police would only enforce past pertinent Civil Court decisions...  Arudou Debito in Kumamoto

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

Police send papers on Net flamers / Crackdown against comments on comedian’s blog seen as defamation warning

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.

Of the six whose cases were sent to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, two are suspected of threatening to physically harm Kikuchi, 37, on his blog. The remaining four–including a 45-year-old male university employee of Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, and a male company employee, 36, of Toda, Saitama Prefecture–are suspected of defaming him, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

The two suspected of threatening Kikuchi with bodily harm, including a 36-year-old male construction worker of Iruma, Saitama Prefecture, allegedly continued sending threatening messages to Kikuchi through the blog even after he restricted access to its message board in April.

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.

According to the Metropolitan Police Department, the four suspected of defaming the comedian posted vicious comments, three or four times each, between early April and mid-August last year, wrongly concluding that he was involved in a 1989 murder in Adachi Ward, Tokyo, in which a high school girl was killed and her body abandoned in a drum and covered in cement.

The messages posted by the four included “You murderer! Why don’t you drop dead?” and “[You are] the one suspected of involvement in the confinement, assault and murder of a high school girl.”

The two suspected of threatening Kikuchi posted messages once and twice, respectively, between early May and early June, with one of them writing in a message: “Many guys are targeting you. Die!”

As the message board of the blog was flooded with malicious comments–including one that read, “How come a murderer can be a comedian?”–since it was set up in January last year. Kikuchi filed a complaint with the MPD in August.

The police had been investigating 18 people they were able to identify.

The police concluded that four of the 18 repeatedly posted vicious messages or made groundless accusations related to the murder.

Of the remaining 14 flamers, two were accused of making threats as they posted messages in which they clearly indicated their intention to harm the comedian.

===

Insults rife online

More than 3,000 messages expressing the hardship Internet users suffered as a result of defamation on the Internet were posted on a comedian’s blog after police announced in February they would pursue criminal responsibility for people who posted messages there wrongly accusing him of involvement in the 1989 murder of a teenage girl.

In messages posted on the blog of comedian Smiley Kikuchi, 37, people related their experiences after being the target of abuse on the Internet. One person posted a message expressing feelings of helplessness as he or she had to bear the pain silently.

According to the police, Kikuchi has been the subject of groundless defamation accusing him of involvement in the high school girl’s murder in Adachi Ward, Tokyo. The girl was killed by a group of teenage boys and her body left in a drum and covered in cement. The comedian’s blog has been flooded with similar messages since he set it up.

After the Metropolitan Police Department announced it was planning to send papers to prosecutors on people whose messages were especially malicious, Kikuchi expressed on Feb. 5 his feelings about the problem and how the defamatory messages escalated on his blog.

After that, more than 3,000 messages, many of them encouraging Kikuchi, were posted on his blog. The senders related their experiences of receiving verbal violence from anonymous people, including being harassed on their blogs or being defamed on informal alternative school bulletin boards. One person said harassing messages were even sent to his or her workplace.

According to the National Police Agency, it received 81,994 consultations about cybercrime from citizens last year–up 12 percent from 2007–with 11,516 from people complaining they were defamed on blogs and Internet bulletin boards. The number exceeded 10,000 for the first time.

(Mar. 28, 2009)
ENDS