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  • Archive for May, 2009

    Sunday Tangent: Shinjuku-ku issues its own quadralingual guidebook to life in Tokyo.

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

    Mainichi: The municipal government of Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward has released the “Guide to Living in Shinjuku,” a daily life manual in four languages aimed at new foreign residents.

    The illustrated guide is in English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese with furigana phonetic readings above the kanji characters for easy reading. The guide covers details of moving into an apartment, such as the deposit and so-called “key money,” as well as etiquette such as polite greetings to neighbors after moving in, not playing music too loudly at night, and making sure to check with the landlord before getting a pet.

    The 74-page manual also covers practicalities of everyday living in the ward, such as separating garbage, procedures to follow in case of a natural disaster, bicycle manners and making it clear that smoking is prohibited on the streets.

    COMMENT FROM JK: I don’t suppose Shinjuku-ku would be kind enough to release a “Guide to Living with Foreigners,” in Japanese aimed at the existing residents of the Ward….

    IMO「新宿生活スタートブック」 = ‘Read This Book, Become A Good Gaijin, And Don’t Cause Us Any Trouble”.

    DEBITO: I’m not quite that negative about it. Sample scans of the book enclosed.

    Posted in Good News, Handbook for Newcomers, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Media | 14 Comments »

    Protest IC Chipped Gaijin Cards Tues June 2 anytime between 9AM-12:30PM, Diet Building, Tokyo

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

    NUGW Nambu: A sit-in will be held in front of the Diet Building on
    Tuesday, June 2, from 9:00-12:30 a.m., to protest the
    changes to immigration law which are being pushed through
    parliament with little debate, and no consultation with
    those directly affected by the laws.

    Place:
    Shugiin Dai 2 Giinkaikan (Second Members Office Building of
    the House of Representatives)
    Kokkai gijido mae Station: (Marunouchi line, Chiyoda line)
    We will have banners and posters prepared.
    You can come for any length of time, between 9 and 12:30.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Japanese Politics, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 4 Comments »

    Asahi: More NJ “trainees”, “interns” face dismissal

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

    Asahi: During the five months until February, more than 1,500 trainees and interns returned to their countries without spending the full three years here.

    These difficulties highlight the program’s lack of a sufficient safety net. Interns are required to pay for unemployment insurance, but they often find it hard to receive benefits…

    According to Zhen Kai, who gives advice to foreign trainees and interns at the Gifu Ippan Rodo Kumiai, a Gifu-based labor union for workers at small businesses, an increasing number of interns are refusing to be let go before the end of their three-year stints.

    They remain at corporate dormitories without pay while negotiating with their employers to have their dismissals reversed.

    “The situation is grave,” Zhen said.

    Canceling a worker’s training or internship in the middle is allowed only when a business goes bankrupt or is in serious trouble. Because of visa restrictions, interns technically work under an arrangement with organizations, such as local chambers of commerce and industry, that accept them for member companies.

    This means that if fired at the midpoint in their training, they are not eligible to work for ordinary companies or receive new job information at Hello Work public job placement centers.

    While a Justice Ministry guideline urges groups and businesses to find new jobs for their dismissed interns, in practice help is rare.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 4 Comments »

    Mainichi: Foreign researchers, tech experts may get preferential immigration treatment

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

    Mainichi: A government committee has released a draft report recommending that a skill- and experience-based point system be established to ease acquisition of residency and permanent residency for foreign researchers and technical experts.

    The high-grade worker acceptance promotion committee report calls for points to be awarded to Japan-bound candidates for experience and good academic and research records in potential high-growth fields such as information communications, energy and biotechnology, as well as for Japanese language ability.

    Should a candidate receive a set number of points, he or she would qualify for Japanese residency, benefit from simplified residency status renewal procedures, receive extended periods of stay, and be given preferential treatment when applying for permanent residency.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 14 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 29, 2009

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

    THE SHADOW OF BIG BROTHER
    1) Metropolis & Japan Today: “Proposed NJ resident registry card creates Big Brother concerns”
    2) Japan Times on May 24 2009 new IC Chip Gaijin Card protest
    3) Brazilian MTV on May 24 Protests on proposed IC Chip Gaijin Cards
    4) Kyodo: GOJ proposes GPS tracking of criminals. SITYS.
    5) Charles McJilton on how visa overstayers too get Gaijin Cards
    6) Various respondents: Police crackdowns in Roppongi and elsewhere, Olympic Bid cleanup?
    7) Sankei: Police “cleaning up” Roppongi of shitsukoi NJ

    TANGENTS
    8 ) Kyodo: 2 NJ defendants among first 13 new lay jury cases
    9) NYT: Japanese Fans Mobilize to Keep Valentine as Their Manager
    10) Sunday Tangent: America’s Japan Society now led by a Japanese
    11) Sunday Tangent: Economist on UN racism conference fiasco, April 2009

    UPCOMING PERFORMANCES
    12) Monty DiPietro’s new play “Honiefaith”, June 5, 6, 7, Tokyo Shinjuku
    13) Trans-Pacific Radio’s Live Seijigiri June 4 7:30 PM Shibuya Pink Cow

    … and finally…
    14) Japan Times May 19, 2009: “IC you: Bugging the Alien” article on new Gaijin Cards, full text

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Trans-Pacific Radio’s Live Seijigiri June 4 7:30 PM Shibuya Pink Cow

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

    The first Trans-Pacific Radio live edition of Seijigiri will take place at the Pink Cow in Shibuya on Thursday, June 4 from about 7:30 p.m.

    The event will open with a presentation on Trans-Pacific Radio, followed by the live Seijigiri. After that, there will be a special announcement and demonstration of TPR’s most recent project.

    The live show itself will involve Garrett, Ken and the audience. The essential concept is that Seijigiri and the audience will have no barrier between them, and the show will be an interactive event.

    Posted in Discussions, Media, Speech materials | No Comments »

    Asahi: Foreign nursing trainees face unfair hurdles

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

    Asahi: At hospitals and nursing homes for the elderly across the nation, 208 Indonesians have commenced work. They are trainees who came to Japan hoping to become nurses and certified care workers under the economic partnership agreement (EPA) signed between Japan and Indonesia. Having finished a six-month Japanese-language study program, they started working in January and February. All of them are qualified to work as nurses in their home country and many of them have a lot of nursing experience. But most of those I met expressed anxiety and frustration.

    This is because of the system that requires them to pass Japanese state exams within specified periods. If they fail, they must return to their home country. Would-be nurses have three chances to sit for the exams in three years of their stay. Conditions are tougher for aspiring care workers. Since foreign trainees are required to have actual working experience in Japan for at least three years before they can take the exam, they only have a single chance to pass in four years…

    COMMENT: What does the GOJ want? Easy. Revolving-door cheap foreign labor, which won’t stay and get expensive or start demanding its own rights. Unfortunately, that’s not how immigration works, even though with its aging society, immigration is what Japan needs. We’ve said this umpteen times before, but lemme just repeat it for the noobs, sorry. What the GOJ wants and what it needs are working against each other. Its unforgiving and inflexible policies such as these that are hurting Japan’s future.

    Posted in Education, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 23 Comments »

    Brazilian MTV on May 24 Protests on proposed IC Chip Gaijin Cards

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

    In my first attempt at embedding a video on Debito.org, here’s Brazilian MTV devoting seven minutes to the May 24 march against the proposed IC Chip Gaijin Cards. In Portuguese, Japanese, and English.

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

    Sankei: Police “cleaning up” Roppongi of shitsukoi NJ

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

    An interesting article from May 26’s Sankei, reporting about how enjoyment of Tokyo’s Roppongi party district is being spoiled by over-persistent street touts (a sentiment I somewhat agree with, but…), who lead people to bars that even the US Embassy is cautioning against. So we have the new “Clean Town Roppongi Action Group” launching into the breach, putting up cautionary billets in English and Japanese (advertising “punishments”), organizing patrols and volunteer policing groups, and advocating “safety for each resident” (fortunately rendered as juumin, not kokumin). All this, says the article, justifiable under the new controversial Tokyo City ordinance banning “public disturbances”, passed last April.

    Posted in Japanese police/Foreign crime, 日本語 | 20 Comments »

    Kyodo: 2 NJ defendants among first 13 new lay jury cases

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

    Kyodo: Prosecutors nationwide indicted on Friday nine criminal suspects, including two murder suspects, to be tried under the newly introduced lay jury system, bringing the total number of such cases to 13. A day after the introduction of the system, the two murder suspects were indicted by Tokyo and Fukuoka prosecutors. Suspects in other serious crimes such as robbery resulting in injuries or attempted arson were indicted the previous day, but murder suspects were not included.

    COMMENT: That was quick! Two days into the new system, and two of the first thirteen indictments are foreign? That works out to a fifteen percent NJ crime rate…

    Posted in Japanese police/Foreign crime | 12 Comments »

    Japan Times on May 24 2009 new IC Chip Gaijin Card protest

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

    Got a call from friends Aly and Yumi yesterday, right after they attended the protest against the proposed IC-Chipped Gaijin Cards, who told me the vibe was great and inspiring of future public action.

    Here’s how it turned out in the Japan Times. If you see any more articles, please feel free to include them in the Comments section below with text and links:

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 9 Comments »

    Kyodo: GOJ proposes GPS tracking of criminals. SITYS.

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

    Kyodo: The Justice Ministry will begin research on how other countries employ satellite-based global positioning systems to locate people released from prison and to see if the systems work at discouraging repeat offenders.

    COMMENT: I posted this on Facebook last night, and got people saying GPS and RFID are two separate technologies, so it doesn’t matter. Those who wish to discuss that here, go ahead. My point remains that the political will is there to bell the cat, er, the criminal. And given the GOJ’s propensity to treat foreigners as criminals (as opposed to immigrants), and to give the police free reign to rein in crime, to me it’s only a matter of time before fitting the transponders in the new proposed IC Chip Gaijin Cards leads to tracking them.

    Posted in Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., SITYS | 3 Comments »

    Sunday Tangent: America’s Japan Society now led by a Japanese

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

    AFP: As Japanese culture seeps into the American mainstream, a key US institution devoted to Japan has crossed a threshold — its new head is Japanese. And he is out to make sure Japan’s influence gets noticed.

    Motoatsu Sakurai, a former executive and ambassador, took over last month as president of the Japan Society — founded in 1907 by members of New York high society intrigued by a nation then completely foreign to most Americans.

    He conceded that his appointment presented an intriguing cross-cultural question — while plenty of Japanese and Americans study each other’s country, how does a Japanese lead Americans in their dealings with Japan?

    “I don’t think it would be unnatural,” Sakurai said with Japanese understatement when asked whether it made sense for a Japanese to run the Japan Society.

    “In many ways, Japanese and Americans see the same things in a different way,” he told AFP.

    “I think it is good for the Japan Society — since its inception an American institution — to have an injection of new ideas, especially as the Japanese are one partner in this bilateral relationship.”

    “This was not a political statement saying, ‘Gosh, what an amazing thing, we’re picking a Japanese as the head of the Japan Society,'” Heleniak said. “New York is an international city so nationality doesn’t matter.”

    COMMENT: Nice if that logic applied more on the Japan side of the equation.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., Tangents | 7 Comments »

    NYT: Japanese Fans Mobilize to Keep Valentine as Their Manager

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

    NYT: With over 50,000 signatures on a petition to keep [Bobby] Valentine, this is a struggle, the fans believe, that goes to the heart of Japanese baseball. They see Valentine as a positive influence who is leading the team and the sport toward a more viable future by promoting more access to players and more fan-friendly marketing concepts.

    At the same time, they view the current front office, led by the team president, Ryuzo Setoyama, as more interested in the old status quo, when, they contend, fans were treated less as coveted customers and more as people expected to attend games out of a sense of duty. Although the team insists that Valentine simply makes too much money to be retained in 2010, the fans believe other factors may be in play.

    “This problem is more than Japanese baseball itself; it’s about the Japanese society,” Kazuhiro Yasuzumi, a 39-year-old Marines fan and leader of the protest, said through an interpreter. He said that people with power and influence in Japan did not necessarily appreciate someone like Valentine, who has never been bashful about offering his opinion.

    Valentine is indeed paid a lot of money: $3.9 million per season. When, and if, he goes, he will take with him some significant accomplishments, starting with the championship he won in 2005, the Marines’ first in 31 years. It was after that feat that he became the only foreigner to win the prestigious Shoriki Award for contributions to Japanese baseball.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Labor issues, Sport | 4 Comments »

    「新たな在留管理制度」導入に抗議する5.24集会・デモ ご賛同のお願い

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

    4月24日、衆議院法務委員会で、「新たな在留管理制度」を導入する入管法・
    入管特例法改定案の審議がスタートしました。しかしその法案の対象となる外
    国籍者のほとんどは、法改定について知らされていません。入管法・入管特例
    法は、対象となるのが選挙権を持たない外国籍者であり、「自己決定」という
    民主主義の原則から外れた法律です。しかしだからこそ、対象となる当事者か
    ら意見を聴取する場が求められるのではないでしょうか。

    また今回の法改定の目的の一つとして利便性の向上が謳われていますが、本当
    にそうなのでしょうか? たとえば「新たな在留管理制度」では、対象となる
    外国籍者に、住居地や配偶者との関係などの届け出義務を罰則(刑事罰)や処
    分(在留資格取り消し処分)つきで課しています。しかしもし本当に便利な制
    度なら、過剰な罰則や処分をつける必要が、なぜあるのでしょうか?

    私たちは、当事者の意見を聴かずに進められる法案審議に抗議する集会とデモ
    を下記のように開催します。当日は、参加者のリレートークを中心にすすめま
    す。外国籍住民の声、「多民族・多文化共生社会」を求める街からの声を、国
    会に届かせましょう!

    ◆日時:5月24日(日)
    14:00-15:30 集会
    16:00-17:00 デモ(新橋-銀座)
    ◆場所:交通ビル地下1階(東京都港区新橋5-15-5)
    JR新橋駅(烏森口)より徒歩6分
    http://www.kokuro.net/kaika004.pdf
    ◆資料代:500円(日本人のみ)
    ◆集会内容:法案の概要説明・参加者のリレートークなど
    ※通訳:英語・スペイン語
    ※デモでのプラカードやバナー持参大歓迎!

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, 日本語 | 1 Comment »

    Reminder: Protest against new IC Gaijin Cards May 24 Shinbashi Tokyo

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

    STOP! PROPOSALS TO CRACK DOWN ON FOREIGN RESIDENTS!
    Rally Against Reforms to the Immigration Law

    The “NGO Committee against the Introduction of the ‘Zai-ryu’ Residence
    Card” calls on people living in Japan, both citizens and foreign
    residents, to join together to oppose discriminatory reforms to
    immigration law.

    Date: May 24 (Sun) 14:00-15:30 Assembly
    16:00-17:00 Rally

    Location: Koutsu Biru in Shimbashi (Minato-ku, Shimbashi 5-15-5)
    (6 minutes walk from JR Shimbashi Station, Karasumori Exit)
    For leaflet and map:
    http://www.repacp.org/aacp/pdf/MultiLang/20090420LeafENv01.pdf

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 17 Comments »

    Monty DiPietro’s new play “Honiefaith”, June 5, 6, 7, Tokyo Shinjuku

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

    When a Filipino hostess’ dismembered body is discovered in a Tokyo coin locker, Manila newspaper reporter Victor Balmori is dispatched to Japan. Balmori is looking for a story, he finds a nightmare.

    Written by long-time Tokyoite Monty DiPietro, “Honiefaith” is a three-act play about people pushed into extraordinary circumstances demanding difficult choices. The premiere of “Honiefaith” opens the Tokyo International Players’ new “Second Stage” series, and is being directed by TIP president Jonah Hagans.

    June 5,6,7, 2009 at Our Space Theater:

    The venue, Our Space, is located off the north side of Koshu Kaido street, a three-minute walk from Hatagaya Station, or a five-minute taxi from Shinjuku Station’s south exit. More information, map, links, and press releases here at Debito.org.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Cultural Issue, Media, Speech materials | 1 Comment »

    Various respondents: Police crackdowns in Roppongi and elsewhere, Olympic Bid cleanup?

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

    Debito.org has received word of police crackdowns and raids in Roppongi these days, perhaps in a bid to weed out the marijuana so popular in sumo circles, perhaps in a bid to clean things up for the 2016 Olympic Bid. The US Embassy is also advising Americans to stay away. Feel free to share similar experiences in this blog entry.

    Posted in Japanese police/Foreign crime, Practical advice, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 11 Comments »

    Japan Times May 20, 2009: “IC you: Bugging the Alien” article on new Gaijin Cards

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

    Japan Times: I mentioned that embedded computer chip. The new Gaijin Card is a “smart card.” Most places worldwide issue smart cards for innocuous things like transportation and direct debit, and you have to swipe the card on a terminal to activate it. Carrying one is, at least, optional.

    Not in Japan. Although the 2005 proposal suggested foreign “swiping stations” in public buildings, the technology already exists to read IC cards remotely. With Japan’s love of cutting-edge gadgets, data processing will probably not stop at the swipe. The authorities will be able to remotely scan crowds for foreigners.

    In other words, the IC chip is a transponder — a bug.

    Now imagine these scenarios: Not only can police scan and detect illegal aliens, but they can also uncover aliens of any stripe. It also means that anyone with access to IC chip scanners (they’re going cheap online) could possibly swipe your information. Happy to have your biometric information in the hands of thieves?

    Moreover, this system will further encourage racial profiling. If police see somebody who looks alien yet doesn’t show up on their scanner (such as your naturalized author, or Japan’s thousands of international children), they will more likely target you for questioning — as in: “Hey, you! Stop! Why aren’t you detectable?”

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Media | 28 Comments »

    Charles McJilton on how visa overstayers too get Gaijin Cards

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

    Charles McJilton: For most foreigners in Japan, receiving a visa to stay in Japan begins the road of registering at the local ward, applying for a gaijin card, opening a bank account, and eventually paying taxes. All of these things are milestones signifying that one is a bona fide member of society. But how does one survive if the do not have a visa? How do they go about legitimizing their existence, and is it possible?…

    There is an unwritten rule among the foreigners I deal with and that is we do not ask about one’s visa status. There is no reason to ask. So, in 2002 I was having coffee with Miss X when she casually told me, “I have all my paperwork except my visa.” She then pulled out a folder filled with documents. And sure enough, one was a copy of her foreign registration at her local ward. And then she showed me her gaijin which had written in black 在留資格なし(no permission to stay). She explained that each year she was required to “renew” her gaijin card.

    Then she explained why she registered. As registered foreigner and single mother she was eligible for support from the government for specific things related to her son. For example, when she gave birth, the ward office picked a part of the hospital bill. When her son went to daycare while she was working the ward stepped in and provided some assistance. And when her son entered elementary school the ward subsidized his lunch meals. This would not have been possible had she not registered her son…

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 4 Comments »

    Get Japan Times tomorrow Tuesday May 19, next Zeit Gist article on the New IC “Gaijin Cards”.

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

    My next article in the JT will be tomorrow, Tuesday May 19 , on the proposed legislation to make things more “convenient” and “protected” for NJ residents: the New Zairyuu Kaado with biometric data stored on IC Chips.

    Convenient? Yeah, for the police, not NJ. I make the case that, if the legislation is passed, policing and punishments will only get stricter, and the chipped cards will act as “bugs” encouraging further police checkpoints and racial profiling.

    Posted in Articles & Publications | Comments Off

    Metropolis & Japan Today: “Proposed NJ resident registry card creates Big Brother concerns”

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

    Metropolis and Japan Today: If enacted, the bills submitted by the Cabinet in March would revise three laws — the Basic Resident Registration Law, the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, and the Special Law on Immigration Control — with the government looking to pass them before the end of the current ordinary Diet session on June 3. Once passed, the revisions would become effective in less than three years.

    According to the immigration bureau, the government’s main aims are to simplify the administration of foreigners by having the bureau handle nearly all paperwork related to immigration and residency; reduce the burden on foreigners living legally in Japan by extending visa periods and relaxing re-entry rules; ensure all legal aliens join social insurance and state pension schemes; track the movement of foreigners more closely; and clampdown on illegal aliens such as visa overstayers by denying them the right to carry the new card.

    However, opposition parties, legal organizations and migrant activists have slammed the revisions. They claim the changes could impose excessive fines for failure to carry the card, make notification of status changes less convenient, and lead to undue dissemination of personal information and excessive monitoring of foreigners…

    Posted in Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics | 11 Comments »

    Sunday Tangent: Economist on UN racism conference fiasco, April 2009

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

    Here’s what happened some weeks ago, regarding how the April UN conference on racism, the Olympics for human rights worldwide, turned into a bit of a fiasco, what with competing interests hijiacking the event. Again. A bit old, but still worth blogging on Debito.org nonetheless, because it shows that what goes on in Japan is comparatively small potatoes, and how our issues are probably not going to get the attention from outside that they should. Pity. Racism is one hard mother to define and defeat.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Tangents, United Nations | 2 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 16, 2009

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

    ILLNESSES AND RESUSCITATIONS
    1) Wash Post on GOJ border controls of Swine Flu,
    Mainichi/Kyodo on hospitals turning away J with fevers or NJ friends
    2) GOJ shuts down NJ academic conference at Josai University due to Swine Flu
    3) Revamped article on the Nikkei Repatriation Bribe, and BBC on what’s happening to returnees
    4) Tokyo Shinbun: GOJ to amend Nikkei Repatriation Bribe exile to Mar 2012
    5) Japan Times: “Immigrants” magazine & advocates’ moves to establish J immigration policy
    6) Kirk Masden resuscitates debate on TV Asahi show KokoGaHen

    DEBATES FROM BIZZAROWORLD
    7) Hokkaido Kushiro gives special Residency Certificate to sea otter
    8 ) AP on resuscitating discriminatory Buraku historical maps on Google Earth
    9) Chunichi Shinbun May 11, 2009 on New IC Gaijin Card debate
    10) Thoughts on May 11’s TV Asahi TV Tackle on NJ issues
    11) Thoughts on May Day 2009 in Odori Park, Sapporo
    12) Kambayashi Column: Self-censoring media abets incompetent politicians.
    13) Sunday Tangent: Obama’s March 8, 2008 speech on race, link to full text

    … and finally …
    14) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column May 5, 2009 on Alberto Fujimori’s 31-year sentencing
    (full text)

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    UN News: US among 18 nations elected to UN Human Rights Council

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

    From two UN News articles: In becoming a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, a country not only takes on greater responsibility for tackling abuses worldwide, but also lays bear its own record for the scrutiny of others, the world body’s top rights official said today…

    She noted that critics of the Council point to the fact that among its 47 members are countries with “less-than-pristine” human rights records.

    “To those critics I say two things: Is there any country that has a blemish-free record? Human rights violations are not the bane of any particular country or region. And even if such a thing were possible, what impact would a club of the virtuous have on those outside?”

    The General Assembly on May 12, 2009, elected 18 countries to serve on the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council for three-year terms starting next month, including – for the first time – Belgium, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Norway and the United States.

    The Assembly also re-elected Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Jordan, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Uruguay. All 18 members elected today will begin their terms on 19 June.

    Posted in Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, United Nations | 3 Comments »

    AP on resuscitating discriminatory Buraku historical maps on Google Earth

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

    AP: When Google Earth added historical maps of Japan to its online collection last year, the search giant didn’t expect a backlash. The finely detailed woodblock prints have been around for centuries, they were already posted on another Web site, and a historical map of Tokyo put up in 2006 hadn’t caused any problems.

    But Google failed to judge how its offering would be received, as it has often done in Japan. The company is now facing inquiries from the Justice Ministry and angry accusations of prejudice because its maps detailed the locations of former low-caste communities…

    Castes have long since been abolished, and the old buraku villages have largely faded away or been swallowed by Japan’s sprawling metropolises. Today, rights groups say the descendants of burakumin make up about 3 million of the country’s 127 million people. But they still face prejudice, based almost entirely on where they live or their ancestors lived…

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, History, Media | 17 Comments »

    GOJ shuts down NJ academic conference at Josai University due to Swine Flu

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

    A friend of mine was supposed to come to Tokyo from the U.S. for an academic conference next week. There would be around 800 mostly North American participants — good business for hotels and lots of tourism money in general in these tough economic times. Last week, the GOJ started pressuring the host university to cancel the conference. The host, Josai University, managed to negotiate the following conditions to have the conference:

    1. Detailed location/contact info for participants during conference and 10 days after
    2. Temperature taken every day of the conference; those with 100.4 F given additional test and possibly quarantined
    3. Fill out health declaration every day
    4. Wear masks every day
    5. Participants are required to pay all quarantine and medical costs

    Needless to say, many did not want to attend under these strict conditions, and the conference ended up being canceled…

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Education, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 12 Comments »

    Japan Times: “Immigrants” magazine & advocates’ moves to establish J immigration policy

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

    Japan Times: “Japan’s immigration policy has always been a patchwork. We need to have proper laws and regulations in place when accepting people from abroad,” Susumu Ishihara, 57, president of the Japan Immigrant Information Agency, said during a recent interview with The Japan Times.

    Motivated by a sense of urgency, Ishihara recently spent ¥5 million of his own money to launch a quarterly Japanese-language magazine, called Immigrants, focusing on immigration issues. The goal is to provide more information on foreigners living here to Japanese people to bridge the gap between the two sides.

    The first issue of the quarterly, circulation 10,000, included messages from ambassadors of South American countries as well as interviews with immigration policyexperts, including Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Taro Kono, and Shigehiko Shiramizu, a professor of global media studies at Komazawa University…

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 4 Comments »

    Chunichi Shinbun May 11, 2009 on New IC Gaijin Card debate

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

    Excellent article in yesterday’s Chunichi Shinbun on what’s the problem with the new proposed IC Gaijin Cards, and how the extra policing that NJ will have to endure will just make life worse for a lot of people. Again, the goal is only to police, not to actually help NJ assimilate and make a better life here.

    In particular, read the contrarian arguments. Now this is how we proceed with a debate. We get people who know what they’re talking about to express the minority view (for where else is it going to be heard?). As opposed to last night’s TV Tackle, which basically had the status quo maintained with the same old commentators spouting much the same old party lines.

    Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, 日本語 | 3 Comments »

    Thoughts on tonight’s TV Asahi TV Tackle on NJ issues

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

    Just a few thoughts on tonight’s TV Asahi program “TV Tackle”. It was, in a word, disappointing.

    Maybe that’s par for the course in a 55-minute (minus commercials) show edited for content, and it did try to take on some serious issues. Eight commentators participated: three academics — a Korean, a Brazilian, and a Chinese — plus two media pundits and three politicians — LDP’s Kouno Taro, plus Koumeito, and DPJ. All people of Asian background (save an overlong and as incomprehensible as ever commentary from Koko Ga Hen TV show bomb-thrower Zomahoun Rufin), all reasonably informed, but all clipped for airtime before much of substance came out.

    The show had four segments: 1) the new Gaijin Cards with IC Chips, 2) The historical issue of the Zainichis and other Permanent Residents and their right to vote in local elections, 3) the Nikkei Repatriation Bribe, and 4) the new Tourism Agency and the new tightening of Immigration controls (fingerprinting etc.). Synopsis follows.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Discussions, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Media | 10 Comments »

    今夜9時テレビ朝日『TVタックル』:「ニッポンは天国?地獄?在日外国人決起集会」

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

    ■5月11日(月)21:00〜21:54 
    テレビ朝日『ビートたけしのTVタックル』http://www.tv-asahi.co.jp/tvtackle/
    「ニッポンは天国?地獄?在日外国人決起集会」
     「経済危機」に続いて「新型インフルエンザ」の恐怖に世界中が大混乱の中、国際社会で今こそ日本が果たすべき役割とは? 今夜は韓国、ブラジル、中国から来た在日外国人の皆さんとともに徹底討論してまいります。
     永住権を持つ外国人の地方選挙への参政権を認めようという「外国人参政権」ですが、賛成・反対が入り乱れている今、日本の進むべき方向性とは?
     また、不況のあおりで仕事も住居も失ってしまった外国人労働者たちの処遇について、厚生省の日系人帰国支援制度30万円が「手切れ金」だとの声もあり、日本政府の対応が問われています。

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Media, 日本語 | 5 Comments »

    Tokyo Shinbun: GOJ to amend Nikkei Repatriation Bribe exile to Mar 2012

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

    The Tokyo Shinbun reports that the 300,000 yen Repatriation Bribe for Nikkei (with consequent bar on reentry on the same special “Long-Term Resident” (teijuusha) status) is to be amended, to shorten the length of exile to the end of March 2012. After that, Nikkei are welcome to reapply for the same status and come back to work in Japan.

    Anyone know whether Japan has a pension treaty with the Nikkei-origin countries so their work contributions overseas will be counted as part of their Japanese pension for the duration of their exile, or in case they don’t get their visa renewed to come back from exile?

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 5 Comments »

    Sunday Tangent: Obama’s March 8, 2008 speech on race, full text

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

    As a Sunday Tangent, here is the speech which probably sealed Obama’s image as a serious thinker and candidate: his 2008 remarks on race.

    To me it is a very sophisticated version of MLK’s “I have a Dream” speech — few speeches have taken such a complex issue, i.e. race in America, and dealt with it with such insight, balance, and disarmingness. We need more of this insight in discourse about race in Japan. Unfortunately, too many people would prefer to think that there is NO issue of race in Japan. We’ll get to that. Meanwhile, read and savor the full text of Obama’s speech on race, and glean what you can about the approach to the issue. Ultimately, I believe, this got him elected.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, History, Human Rights, Tangents | 9 Comments »

    Kirk Masden resuscitates debate on TV Asahi show KokoGaHen

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

    Kirk Masden unearths an opening segment of controversial TV Asahi show “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo Nihonjin”, a show long off the air but definitely not forgotten. Remember the format? A group of 100 NJ panelists in tiered seating being egged on to make a ruckus and, according to Kirk’s analysis, being portrayed as scary. He shudders to think that people might take this show (which is still being seen a lot on YouTube) as something serious or indicative of NJ or foreign societies. See his critique of the show (and mine) from this blog entry. Tell us what you think.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 7 Comments »

    Revamped article on the Nikkei Repatriation Bribe

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

    How has a government policy for a developed country disintegrated into something so ludicrous, where even officially sanctioned exclusionism has a hierarchy?…

    Put bluntly, the policy is: train one percent (5,000) to stay; bribe the rest to go and become some other country’s problem. In fact, the government stands to save a great deal of money by paying the nikkei a pittance in plane fares and repatriation fees, while keeping their many years of pension contributions (usually about 15% of monthly salary). By using this economic sleight-of hand, offering desperate people short-term cash if they foresake their long-term investments, this anti-assimilation policy becomes profitable for the government, while beggaring foreigners’ retirements…

    This is what happens when people are brought into a country by official government policy, yet for unofficial purposes at odds with official pledges. Japan has no immigration policy. It then becomes awkward for the government to make official pronouncements on how the new workforce is contributing to the economy, or why it should be allowed to stay. So the workforce remains in societal limbo. Then when things go wrong — in this case a tectonic macroeconomic shift — and the policy fails, it is the foreigners, not the government, who bear the brunt.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Pension System, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 10 Comments »

    BBC on what’s happening to returning Nikkei Brazilians

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

    BBC: The advice centre used to get 200 inquiries a month. Now they have 1,000, many from Brazilian workers who have been laid off.

    Wellington Shibuya is one of them. He not only prays in a local church. After losing his home, this is also where he sleeps.

    Now he is taking an offer from Japan’s Government of 300,000 yen, around 3,000 dollars, to go back to Brazil.

    But the Government help comes with a catch. He won’t be allowed back into Japan on the same easy terms to seek work.

    Effectively it is a one way ticket.

    “They told us ‘come, come, welcome to Japan’,” he says in halting Japanese. “‘We’ll give you a job, a place to live. Welcome, welcome.’ Now they don’t have a job for us, they’re saying ‘we’ll give you a little money, but don’t come back. Bye bye’.”

    Supporters of the scheme say the Government had to do something to help people in need far from home.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | No Comments »

    5月13日(水)2PM院内集会「在留カードに異議あり!」NGO実行委員会

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

    審議真っ最中!
    ここが問題!入管法・入管特例法改定案&住基法改定案
    5月13日(水) 院内集会 第4弾
    「特別永住者にとってプラスになるか?」
    【日時】 5月13日(水) 14:00〜15:00
    【場所】 衆議院第二議員会館 第一会議室
    【主催】 「在留カードに異議あり!」NGO実行委員会
    ◆ますます広がる批判と不安の声に耳を傾けて!
    【4回目のテーマ】「永住者・特別永住者にとって今回の法改定は」
    【集会内容】○NGOからの問題提起
    田中宏さん(外国人人権法連絡会共同代表)/佐藤信行さん(RAIK)

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Politics, 日本語 | No Comments »

    Wash Post on GOJ border controls of Swine Flu, Mainichi/Kyodo on hospitals turning away J with fevers or NJ friends

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

    Wash Post: Armed with thermographic guns, Japanese health inspectors in surgical gowns, goggles and masks boarded United Flight 803 from Washington Dulles. They prowled the aisles, pointing their fever-seeking machines at jet-lagged faces.

    Asia was stung in 2003 by an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which killed about 800 people and caused temporary harm to the economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, China and Malaysia. As a result, governments and health bureaucracies across the region are ready and willing to move aggressively against swine flu.

    For jumbo jets arriving from North America, a shortage of health inspectors [in Japan] has meant that considerable time is being spent by passengers in parked airplanes. Thousands of travelers have waited for hours in their seats before inspectors could clear them to pass through immigration.

    “We’re just about managing to handle the situation with a limited number of inspectors,” a government official told the Yomiuri newspaper. “But I wonder what will happen if more outbreaks occur in other countries.”…

    COMMENT: My critique of this situation might surprise you… But then it turns out, according to the Mainichi and Kyodo, that unprofessional hospitals are turning away people with fevers or a foreign friend! Read on.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, 日本語 | 21 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column May 5, 2009 on Alberto Fujimori

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

    Japan Times: Sociopaths like Fujimori are by definition incurious about how they affect others, especially when granted power in young, weak constitutional democracies. At least Peru and Chile had the sense (and the chance) to lock him up and re-establish the rule of law.

    No thanks to Japan, of course, from whom the world expects more maturity. Rumor has it the International Olympic Committee has been nudged by rival candidate cities about Ishihara and Fujimori. If this knocks Tokyo out of contention for the 2016 Olympics, more hurrahs for poetic justice.

    In sum, Fujimori is a classic case of how power corrupts. A former math teacher comes to power, comes to believe that he can do anything, then comes to a dazzlingly rich society run by elites who shelter him and further encourage his excesses.

    A pundit friend said it well: “Fujimori is an accident of birth. If he had been born in North America, he’d have been a dentist, not a dictator.”

    At least this time, this kind of “accident” has not gone unpunished.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Good News, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics | 4 Comments »

    Hokkaido Kushiro gives special Residency Certificate to sea otter

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

    Continuing in the eye-blinkingly ludicrous trend of issuing government residency documents to things that can’t actually reside anywhere, we have the fifth in the series, behind Tama-Chan the sealion in Yokohama (2003), Tetsuwan Atomu in Niiza (2003), Crayon Shin-chan in Kusakabe (2004), and Lucky Star in Washinomiya (2008), of a juuminhyou Residency Certificate now being granted to a photogenic sea otter in Kushiro, Hokkaido.

    Juuminhyou been impossible to issue, despite decades of protest, to taxpaying foreign residents because “they aren’t Japanese citizens” (and because they aren’t listed on the juumin kihon daichou, NJ aren’t even counted within many local government population tallies!). Oh, well, seafaring mammals and anime characters aren’t citizens either, but they can be “special residents” and bring in merchandising yen. Why I otter…!

    We now have GOJ proposals to put NJ on juuminhyou at long last. But not before time (we’re looking at 2012 before this happens), and after far too much of this spoon-biting idiocy.

    Posted in Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 12 Comments »

    Get Japan Times tomorrow Tues May 5: JBC Column on Alberto Fujimori

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

    Just a quick word to say that the Japan Times will be publishing my next JUST BE CAUSE column tomorrow, this time on the recent sentencing of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori’s recent sentencing to 21 years in jail for human rights abuses.

    I know I know, I’ve commented on Fujimori ad nauseam in the past. However, with this sentencing to essentially life imprisonment (he’s 70 years old) by a Peruvian court, this column brings a sense of closure to his case, discussing the final good precedent of holding an outlaw president accountable for his international excesses. Have a read. At 950 words, you might find it concise and insightful. Get a copy!

    Posted in Articles & Publications | No Comments »

    Kambayashi Column: Self-censoring media abets incompetent politicians.

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

    Kambayashi: Media outlets here have been heralding an apparent jump in the approval ratings of Prime Minister Taro Aso’s Cabinet, with a recent poll by major daily The Sankei Shimbun and the Fuji News Network suggesting that 28.2 percent of Japanese approve of the government’s performance, up from 20.8 percent in late March. But what the media doesn’t want to talk about is the 60 percent of those surveyed who still disapprove of the Cabinet.

    Aso continues to struggle to win over the rest of the Japanese public because of his lack of leadership and because of his predilection for embarrassing himself. But this begs the question: why was such a weak and controversial politician able to climb to the top of the political heap in the first place?…

    Why doesn’t the media do its job? One reason is that it is common knowledge that, in the quirky world of Japanese journalism, when a politician is awarded an influential post, the reporter covering that politician earns a promotion.

    Yasushi Kawasaki, himself a former political reporter for NHK, told me that many political reporters become politicians of a sort themselves, seeking to bolster their backroom influence. Major news organizations are “in collusion with those in power.”

    Posted in Japanese Politics, Media, Tangents | 5 Comments »

    Thoughts on May Day 2009 in Odori Park, Sapporo

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

    A little post for the holidays: I was cycling on my way to work on May 1 and going through Odori Park, where the 80th Annual Hokkaido May Day labor union rallies were taking place. They’re fun affairs (you get the pretentious lefties spouting off about protecting human rights, but then with no sense of irony whatsoever refuse to give me a flyer as I’m walking past…), and it’s always interesting to see who’s speaking. In addition to Hokkaido Governor Takahashi and Sapporo City Mayor Ueda, we got… wait for it… Suzuki Muneo and Ozawa Ichiro! Who hijacked May Day for their own purposes.

    Posted in Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Speech materials, Tangents | 5 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 2, 2009

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

    ANTI-NJ POLICY PROPOSALS, AND CONCOMITANT PROTESTS
    1) Amnesty Intl May 24 Tokyo protest against Diet bills under deliberation to further police NJ residents
    2) Japan Times: DPJ slams new Gaijin Cards and further tightening of NJ policing
    3) Asahi: Domestic resistance to new IC Gaijin Cards
    4) TIME Mag, Asahi, NY Times: “Japan to Immigrants: Thanks, but go home”
    5) Economist.com blog piles on re Nikkei Repatriation Bribe
    6) What if the GOJ was not a barrier to multiculturalism?
    Asahi on Multiethnic Japan in LA’s Little Tokyo

    MORE ASSISTANCE AND MIXED SIGNALS
    7) The GOJ’s economic stimulus plan (teigaku kyuufukin):
    Tokyo pamphlet on how to get your tax kickback
    8 ) “Tokyo Reader” on odd rental contracts for apartments:
    “lease” vs. “loan for use”? Plus Kyoutaku escrow for disputes
    9) Economist on Japan buying LNG from Sakhalin (finally!) and Hokkaido’s missed opportunities
    10) From the archives: How criminals fool the police: talk like foreigners!
    11) Japan Times: Police surprisingly mellow when dealing with Japanese shoplifting

    … and finally…

    12) Get Japan Times next Tuesday May 5:
    My next JUST BE CAUSE column out on Fujimori’s 31-year sentencing.

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Terrie’s Take on Golden Week (2008 and 2009)

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

    Terrie’s Take: The central government is reportedly looking at modifying the dates of some public holidays, so as to ensure that they fall on days that allow 3-day weekends and thus encourage employees to take time off work and travel with their families. To ensure that Dads actually do take off their extra days of leave — which currently they don’t 50% of the time, the government is also considering changing accounting rules so that any unused employee leave will have to be accounted for as a liability, and be financially provisioned for in company accounts.

    And another historical time capsule pre-economic crash about holidaying habits of Japan last year from Terrie again included.

    Posted in Blog Polls, Cultural Issue, Japanese Government, Tangents | 6 Comments »

    Asahi: domestic resistance to new IC Gaijin Cards

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

    Asahi: The review of the proposed new section of the laws controlling residency of foreigners in Japan under exit and entry laws for foreigners is currently taking place in the Legal Subcommittee of the Lower House. Although on one hand it is expected that the law will have the effect of reducing illegal residency in Japan, on the other hand criticism is being heard that this law “Can be seen as nothing more than making foreigners (residing in Japan) an object of surveillance”…

    Negative reactions, mainly from human rights NPO groups that support foreigners are very strong. Numerous faults with the law, have been pointed out one after the other–The requirement that foreigners carry the residency card with them at all times is excessive, criminal penalties for not carrying it are too heavy, canceling residency privileges because of errors in reporting address or because of getting married without reporting it are too severe, the human rights of foreigners who are attempting to flee from domestic violence are not protected, refugees, whose necessarily must undergo a lengthy administrative process are not covered by this law and their status is left vague (and other problems).

    Hatate Akira, head of the group “Freedom and human rights coalition” has attacked the very philosophical basis of the law saying that “This new level of surveillance (of foreigners) will lead to increased discrimination” In response to this, the Japan Democratic Party has proposed dropping from the law the requirement to carry this identity card and the imposition of criminal penalties for not doing so, as well as other modifications…

    Posted in Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 20 Comments »