Tokyo police raiding Roppongi, stopping NJ on Tokyo streets for urine tests (UPDATED)

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UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog. Followup to last May’s blog entry. After the recent scandals with Sumo Wrestlers (J & NJ) smoking pot (and the wrestlers blaming it on Roppongi foreigners), I’ve been receiving reports that Tokyo police profilings of NJ are further stretching the boundaries.

According to Debito.org readers and GaijinPot, NJ are being stopped on Tokyo streets for urine tests:

Submitter HC wrote to me the following, with followup email when I asked for dates and times:

On Jun 17, 2009, at 11:18 PM, HC wrote:

hello debito, my friend and i have been stopped by police in shibuya and he, a foreigner, was asked for a urine sample. apparently it was a drug test.

the test result was negative, but my question is: is it legal to be stopped by police for that? can we refuse to give a sample?

btw. your page is amazing, thank you for so much work!

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

hello debito,

I think its getting common now, at least weekends at entertainment districts in Tokyo.
In our case it it was 2 weeks ago, Saturday night, about 23:30 in Shibuya, not far from station.
Just got stopped on the street and asked to provide a sample at the police station.

It seems that its not the only case, as i found more cases:

http://forum.gaijinpot.com/showthread.php?p=814224

Hello I’ve been in japan about a year now, and live near roppongi. In the past couple of weeks, police have been stopping late night/early morning revellers when they are leaving bars and clubs, and asking them to provide urine samples. Essentially they are testing for drug use/abuse. Whilst i have nothing to hide, i cant help but think this is an invasion of my personal liberty/human rights. It also concerns me that things are quite easily added to drinks without people knowing much about it.

its not much surprise, that out of the 40 or 50 that i saw being pulled on fri night, all bar one were gaijin. I just wondered if they are within their rights to be doing this? thanks

Do we have a right to say “NO” to the request for an urine sample?


The answer is, obviously, yes, you have the right to refuse. More on your rights dealing with Japanese cops here.

Meanwhile, according to Japan Probe, last weekend saw another raid on Roppongi:

June 26th, 2009 by James
Last night, a task force of some 220 police and immigration officers descended upon the Roppongi area of Tokyo, tightening their crackdown on illegal activities by foreigners in that neighborhood… The massive force managed to make a grand total of 6 arrests: 5 foreign hostesses and 1 Indian suspected of visa violations.


http://www.japanprobe.com/?p=11055
Are things like this happening to other readers of Debito.org? Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UPDATE JULY 1, 2009
Hi Blog. It’s confirmed. Called Asabu Police Station today (03-3479-0110(代表)) in Roppongi and talked to an officer Teshima. He admitted that yes, they are carrying out urine tests on people. He denied that they were targeting foreigners, but he refused to divulge what sort of criteria they use to select their testees. Separate blog entry on this by midnight tonight. Arudou Debito

Thoughts on DPJ rally Sat Jun 27, 2009, Sapporo

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UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog. In case you haven’t heard (the J press has been making headlines of it), we’re amidst a “Hatoyama Boom”. Hatoyama (Yukio, aka Hatopoppo) being the current leader of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), replacing Ozawa Ichiro (whose old-school J politics still include accepting bribes, directly or indirectly). With the anticipated boost in PM Aso’s approval ratings (after a lot of hay was made of Ozawa’s associates’ corruption) petering out to nothing, and an election required by law by October at the latest, there are a number of rumors floating around that other contenders may rise to fill the soulless golem of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP the party essentially in power in Japan for more than five decades, whose policy platform is essentially just staying in power). A couple of prefectural governors (Osaka’s Hashimoto, Miyazaki’s Higashikokubaru) are rumored to have designs on future local and national governance. But so far, Hatoyama seems to be outdistancing them all, riding the crest of his “boom” on a nationwide whistle-stop tour with stern-faced posters and constant public speeches.

All caught up now? Well, Hatoyama gave a speech at a DPJ rally last Saturday, June 27, in Sapporo’s Odori Kouen. I was there in the front row wearing a lot of sunscreen, enjoying a lot of old people’s company. Let me give you the scene:

The DPJ’s sound truck was parked on the main street bisecting Odori Park, the green spine of Sapporo City, where spectators sat on the grass behind a cordon, and a sidewalk before us allowed foot traffic (policed by security guards with those coiled ear inserts; they had one young, handsome, but stern security woman do most of the cajoling of gawkers to keep moving) to pass by. In front of the sound truck were vertical banners crying for “a switching of government” and bearing various names of elected politicians for all 12 Hokkaido electoral districts (Hokkaido is a DPJ stronghold; every district for a Dietmember has at least one DPJ rep). And they each spoke in turn, three minutes or less. Here’s how it looked before people started speaking:
090627_115204

The DPJ rally was only an hour long (thankfully: it was very hot and the noontime sun was crisping a lot of oldies), but it was quite exciting. People were cheering, the media was out in droves, and there was the frisson of excitement at seeing in person the man who might indeed be our next prime minister:
090627_115334

Up second speaking was perennial gatecrasher (and twice-convicted of corruption; my files on this creep here) criminal Suzuki Muneo; in the Diet only because his case is on perpetual appeal in the Supreme Court; and because some Eastern Outback Dosanko are so desperate they’ll elect anyone making empty promises with conviction and charisma). I saw him speak last May Day in Sapporo (when Ozawa was still DPJ leader; he spoke too), but Muneo’s typical vocal self-immolation was less effective this time because he has to do it every time he speaks; his voice was shot today. He made the same old appeals to local governance and against uncaring nest-feathering national-bureaucrats (which received rapt applause; in any case it’s still rich of Muneo to claim these things). He made sure to pose for photo ops for his staff upon the sound truck, asking for Proportional Representation votes for his (separate) party, and otherwise unabashedly coasting on DPJ’s coattails (Faust would have taken notes). And, I nearly forgot to mention, Muneo made an appearance beforehand along the sidewalk to wave at everyone and bow before select people (including me; he has a thing for people who look foreign, given Muluwaka’s on his staff). I didn’t give him The Finger this time.
090627_120909

The other speakers were all interesting in style and form. Most gave the standard leftist speeches using themes of a society of unequal opportunity and wealth distribution; of unfair taxation and disadvantaged people becoming further disadvantaged; of a ruling party which has long lost its way; and of a need to have a healthy change of government every now and again (meaning, now). Some of the politicians, while all bearing a hearty voice with a sense of passion and conviction, were unable to feel the atmosphere beyond their bunched microphones, meaning they didn’t pause enough between clauses to allow their previous statements to clear — and their speeches blurred into dull, flat white noise.

The best speech within the DPJ was by Hokkaido political legend Yokomichi Takahiro, former two-time Hokkaido Governor and permanent Dietmember. He knew the cadence, he had the caring, orotund voice, he even cited a few facts and figures to give his slogans some meat. He demonstrated why he’s electable.

090627_123633
Finally, up came Hatopoppo. He looked tired and more spoken out than outspoken, but he stood in front of the sound truck by the banners. People walking by shocked by the happenstance soon congregated to shake his hand. He was duly attentive, for he represents Hokkaido 9-ku (Tomakomai and environs), and is a local hero: maybe even Hokkaido’s first PM. If all worked out well next election.

But Hatoyama wasn’t the best speaker. He’s surprisingly intellectual in his style. Fewer slogans than average. A lot of places (thanks to Japanese grammar, where the verb comes at the end) he would say things that the crowd began cheering for, then end it with the negative tense “…de wa arimasen”. Aoh, deflated the crowd. He spoke in paragraphs, not sentences (a no-no for arenas with bad acoustics). And he said things rather oddly, such as, “I am not an Ainu. I am not even a Dosanko [native Hokkaidoite]. I came to Hokkaido 25 years ago. I don’t really belong here. But the hospitality you have showed me has been unforgettable. And I hope to represent you as the first prime minister from Hokkaido.” Thoughtful, yes, but surely that could have been phrased better to get the crowd cheering. He’s not a public speaker, although he is a thinker (unlike his brother, Former Justice Minister Hatoyama Kunio, who has weird ideas about Western and Japanese notions of death; not to mention self-alleged connections to al-Qaeda). And although Yukio came off as uninspiring, he did sound sincere. He had us at “Dosanko”, anyway.

The rally ended with Hatoyama and a few other baskers shaking hands for fifteen or so minutes with onlookers, then he was bundled onto a car, where he rolled down the window and waved to everyone and no-one in particular as the driver waited for the light to turn green.

That should have been it. But taking advantage of the American Idol-style lead in was “Koufuku Jitsugen Tou” (official translation, “The Happiness Realization Party”, seriously), a new group who have a rose-petal woman as their front person to give their party a softer image. It works, until you read their literature (they had no hesitation in giving me a pamphlet, unusually). Their first platform slogan is, “STOP MISSILES FROM NORTH KOREA”, then launching their attacks on what they deem is the empty LDP and the overfriendly DPJ. They want Article 9 of the Constitution (the one that talks about peace) overturned, a remiltarization, and less interference from allies and the UN in Japanese domestic and international policy. Oh, and as a couple of Milk Bone treats, they advocate the abolition of the 5% Consumption Tax and inheritance taxes. Whose happiness is this? Those who fear.

But they had the best speaker of the day. Don’t care to remember his name (their rose-petal front person wasn’t there), but he had that rasp of determination and a perfect pausing style, using all the tricks in the book to play to the crowd and get cascades of applause: “North Korea is going to attack us. A normal country has a military that can defend us. National sovereignty permits this, and our country has become weak. The Chinese are…” you get the idea. I left before things got too xenophobic. But fear not, the other speakers were not as subtle or manipulative, and their screaming white noise as I had lunch in the park left me with the impression that they were the party of fear and anger, not much else, that you see sponsored by far-Rightists all over the world. They might get some votes. But I’ll be surprised if they get a seat in Hokkaido. Let’s see, however. They are certainly pouring enough money, time, and energy into us.

Looks to be a long, hot, electoral opportunist summer. Enjoy. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Admin note: Debito.org Twitter handle: arudoudebito

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UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog. Just let you know: I joined Twitter today (twitter.com). If you want quick updates in text on your phone and somesuch (how it works, article here, courtesy of Rick N, who introduced me to the service), join or sign up. It’ll probably be just quick links in real time to what’s been blogged, or announcements of important rallies and such, but we’ll see. Only been a member for a couple of hours now and already have 39 “followers” (odd term, but that’s how it’s rendered). FYI. Debito in Sapporo

Japan Times IC Chip Gaijin Card Pt 3: View of Bureaucrats: Control of NJ at all costs

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Hi Blog. The Japan Times scoops again. After two articles exposing approaches of the LDP (their slavish obeisance to the policing MOJ, who fed them the law) and the DPJ (who took the LDP’s nonsense evidence about policing of foreigners in other countries at face value), Matsutani-san now gets the viewpoint of those bureaucrats who designed the new Gaijin Cards and NJ policing regime. And it ain’t pretty. Strikes me as pretty paranoid. Sounds even like they’d police everyone if everyone were in such a weak position in society as foreigners; more on that tomorrow. Meanwhile, it also seems clear that the original proposal has been watered down a bit thanks to public outrage, but there is still no consciousness within the bureaucratic mien of how these laws, once put in the hands of the police, can further encourage racial profiling and targeting (current laws with more lax policing than now already do that, and there are no real safeguards to protect human rights as ever).

Anyway, excerpted below. Have a read. And there are more viewpoints to come. Well done Japan Times. Get your local library to subscribe to it, everyone. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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CONTROLS ON FOREIGNERS
Drawing a bead on illegal residents
New law would tighten up oversight of foreigners
Saturday, June 27, 2009
By MINORU MATSUTANI Staff writer

Excerpt follows. Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090627f1.html

… “As the current laws stand, it is difficult to grasp the precise situations of foreign residents,” Immigration Bureau General Affairs Division official Kazuyuki Motohari told The Japan Times…

Although Lower House lawmakers changed the government’s version of the bills and passed a revised one that exerts less control over foreign residents than the original, the bureau will accept what the lawmakers decided, Motohari said.

“There were no corrections that dramatically changed the main idea of our version of the bills,” he said.

While the bureau hopes the bills help provide a clearer picture of overstayers, this will not be achieved unless foreigners properly report their status.

Under the new system, it will be difficult for illegal residents to remain illegal because foreigners’ personal information will be centralized with the Justice Ministry and punishments for failing to report changes in information will be harsher…

Human rights groups complain that because the justice minister can access foreign residents’ personal information with residence (“zairyu”) card numbers, which are to be given to every documented foreigner, it is an infringement of privacy. Motohari defended the bureau by saying, “It is not unusual for us to hold information that helps us confirm the identify of foreign residents.”

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090627f1.html
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 27, 2009

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HI All. Before I start this Newsletter, a Newsflash:

Protests are continuing at Diet against passage of IC Chip Gaijin Card measure by Lower House (more below). Help stop it passing the Upper House by attending on July 2 (Thu) 12:00 – 13:00, Upper House Diet members office building. More details at http://www.debito.org/?p=3654 Now on with your regularly-scheduled screed:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 27, 2009
Table of Contents:

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IC CHIP GAIJIN CARDS
1) Japan Times: New Gaijin Cards bill looks set to pass Diet
2) Japan Times: New IC Chip Gaijin Card passes Lower House, expected to pass Upper too
3) Text of proposed amendments to new Immigration Law, including IC Chip Gaijin Cards
Plus NEWS FLASH on upcoming Japan Times articles
4) MMT on Aso Admin’s plans for “secure society”: reforms in five areas. But not immigration.

J MEDIA SPOILS PUBLIC IMAGE OF NJ
5) NHK’s “Cool Japan” keeps their guest NJ commentators naive and ignorant
6) Japan Today feature on how media focus on crime negatively impacts upon NJ
7) NPR’s Geoff Nunberg on semantics and their control over public debate

INJUSTICE
8 ) Kyodo: 34 NJ “Trainees” died FY 2008, 16 from suspected overwork, up from 13 FY 2007
9) Anonymous re Scott Tucker, killed in a Tokyo bar by a man who got a suspended sentence.
10) Tangent: Japan Times on crackdowns on students at Hosei University

GOOD NEWS?
11) Bernama.com on new proposed “points system” for NJ work visas
12) Teigaku Kyuufukin: Have you collected your 12,000 yen tax kickback yet?

… and finally… JUST FOR FUN
14) Japanpodshow: Podcast on Arudou Debito by Joseph Tame
15) Sapporo Source DEBITO Column June 2009 on Hokkaido Winters

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

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IC CHIP GAIJIN CARDS
Here’s how the story developed…

1) Japan Times: New Gaijin Cards bill looks set to pass Diet

Japan Times: The revised bills, expected to be passed Friday by the Lower House, will abolish the Alien Registration Act and revise the immigration control and resident registration laws with sweeping changes that put information on foreign residents completely in the hands of the central government.

According to the draft, authority for managing foreign residents will shift from municipalities to the Immigration Bureau, allowing it to consolidate all personal information collected from foreign residents, including type of visa and expiration date

“We need these bills to be enacted. We need to know how many foreigners there are and where they live. So consolidating information into the Justice Ministry is necessary,” Hosokawa said.

The bills also have a provision to prevent the ministry from using that data improperly, a decision that was made to ward off criticism that “the minister” could abuse the zairyu card number to violate foreigners’ privacy. But no penalty for such abuse was listed.

The practice, dubbed data-matching, was outlawed by the Supreme Court in regard to its use on Japanese citizens.

The provision says “the justice minister” must limit the use of foreign residents’ personal information to the minimum required for managing such residents and that the information must be handled with care to protect the rights of individuals. But no penalties or methods for enforcing such compliance are listed in the bills.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3591

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2) Japan Times: New IC Chip Gaijin Card passes Lower House, expected to pass Upper too

Japan Times: The Lower House passed bills Friday making it easier for the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau to keep tabs on foreigners who have overstayed their visas as well as others residing legally in the country.

The Upper House is also expected to pass the bills, which have the support of both the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling bloc and the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party…

http://www.debito.org/?p=3600

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3) Text of proposed amendments to new Immigration Law, including IC Chip Gaijin Cards

I asked the author of the above Japan Times articles on the passage of the new laws on IC Chip Gaijin Cards et al. to send me his source materials. He very kindly complied. Thanks very much!

These are fifteen pages of very thick and oddly-formatted pages of legal changes. It’s cumbersome wading through it. So rather than wait until I read everything before commenting, I might as well put these up so we can all read them at the same time.

Revisions to the Juumin Kihon Daichou Hou (which governs how people are registered with local governments, as in juuminhou), followed by the interestingly-titled “shutsu nyuu koku kanri oyobi nanmin nintei hou oyobi nihonkoku to no heiwa jouyaku ni motozuki kokuseki o ridatsu shita mono tou no shutsu nyuu koku kanri ni kansuru tokurei hou no ichibu o kaisei suru tou no houritsu an ni taisuru shuusei an” (draft of the revisions for one part of the draft of the laws governing administration of immigration, administration of recognized refugees, and the special law governing administration of immigration of people who have renounced their Japanese citizenship from countries with a peace treaty with Japan).

What a mouthful. I’m wondering what inspired the special-law conceit about having a peace treaty (does this weed out Russians and North Koreans?). Any ideas out there?

http://www.debito.org/?p=3606

NEWS FLASH:

The Japan Times is following the story of the new deluxe Gaijin Cards, complete with IC Chip and more punitive policing of most foreigners. And it is now clear from the articles below that the bills were actually drafted by the Ministry of Justice, meaning it’s all been created in favor of policing, not assimilating, NJ — and under the all-consuming need to keep track of potential “illegal foreign overstayers” by policing everyone (anyone else smell a kind of a witch hunt?).

Got a call from the author of the articles yesterday evening. He notes that there will be a series of articles on this over the next few days (above are the two camps within the LDP and the DPJ, then on successive days an opponent from the left, and then an opponent from the extreme right). So keep reading the Japan Times — the only paper which cares to give you the straight poop, and do some investigative journalism on topics that matter to its NJ readers.

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4) MMT on Aso Admin’s plans for “secure society”: reforms in five areas. But not immigration.

Japan Today: A government expert panel proposed to Prime Minister Taro Aso on Monday that Japan needs to reform five areas centering on employment in order to construct a ”secure” society amid widening social and financial disparities

To realize a secure society, the panel called for reforms in five areasemployment, child rearing, education, medical care and pensions, with employment being the central axis in a coordinated reform of all five areas.

COMMENT: But not immigration. Still taboo. The semi-official taboo now looks pretty official to me.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3598

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J MEDIA SPOILS PUBLIC IMAGE OF NJ
5) NHK’s “Cool Japan” keeps their guest NJ commentators naive and ignorant

Discussion about an NHK program called “Cool Japan”, talking about, yep, you guessed it. What gets my goat is that only NJ who have been here LESS than a year are allowed on it to comment and appraise. The subject matter is topical already, but deliberately limiting your debate to newcomers who most likely don’t know their way around yet linguistically or culturally is one way to make sure that nothing really gets discussed. Except more proof to a Japanese audience about how unique and inscrutable Japanese society is to the hapless NJ. All sponsored by Japan’s most trusted television network. Crappy social science.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3633

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6) Japan Today feature on how media focus on crime negatively impacts upon NJ

I talked above how silly programs like NHK’s “Cool Japan” keeps NJ looking perpetually neophyte and ignorant, so here’s another feature from Japan Today on how the media keeps NJ looking threatening.

Japan Today: When the media report on violent crime, juvenile delinquency and other social problems, it’s common to see such terms as “kyuzo” (rapidly increasing), “kyoaku-ka” (becoming more vicious) and “teinenrei-ka” (occurring from an earlier age) appearing in headlines.

But such assertions don’t coincide with the statistical data, writes Koichi Hamai, a professor of law at Kyoto’s Ryukoku University in the biweekly magazine Sapio (July 8).

COMMENT: The key quote, from Koichi Hamai, a professor of law at Kyoto’s Ryukoku University: “rates for crimes by non-Japanesemost of which involve violations of the immigration laws or misdemeanorsare “extremely low” relative to the total number of crimes, and there’s nothing to suggest they are increasing.”

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7) NPR’s Geoff Nunberg on semantics and their control over public debate

Pursuant to my Japan Times’ JUST BE CAUSE column earlier this month (June 2, “The issue that dares not speak its name”), where I talked about how the domestic media and GOJ deliberately refrain from couching the debate on racial discrimination in those exact terms “racial discrimination” and how that affects public awareness in Japan of the issue.

Here’s an excerpt of a June 3, 2009 US National Public Radio “Fresh Air” interview with UC Berkeley linguist Geoff Nunberg (June 4 podcast, from minute seven) which explores exactly the same topic, regarding the American media’s treatment of the debate on “torture”

The point is, if we can keep the word “racial discrimination” (as defined under UN treaty) at bay in Japan call it “foreigner discrimination”, “discrimination by physical appearance”, or even “cultural differences” and “misunderstandings” we can keep at bay the moral disapproval that comes with it. We can also keep the plausible deniability in the public arena that something very bad (as opposed to just “bad” or “misunderstood”) is going on, one that requires legislation to prevent it. This sort of thing happens everywhere when people play with words to dull or obfuscate debate.

Be aware of how this works. And be prepared to correct people who wish to shift the terms of debate away from the cold, hard truth. That discrimination against foreigners can be, or is in most cases, the same as discrimination by race.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3584

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INJUSTICE
8 ) Kyodo: 34 NJ “Trainees” died FY 2008, 16 from suspected overwork, up from 13 FY 2007

Kyodo: Thirty-four foreign trainees died in Japan in fiscal 2008 through March this year, up 13 from the previous year to hit a record high, a survey by a government-linked body promoting a training program showed Monday.

The leading causes of their deaths were brain and heart diseases, which claimed the lives of 16, while five were killed in accidents at work and four in traffic accidents. Supporters of foreign trainees said they suspect those who died from brain and heart disorders actually died from overwork. As of late 2007, about 177,000 foreigners have been staying in Japan under the government’s industrial training and technical internship program.

Shoichi Ibusuki, a lawyer supporting foreign trainees and interns, pointed out that many trainees have been forced to work long hours for lower wages and said he suspects they had died from overwork…

Ding Jianhui, 35, who came to Japan in September 2006 on the training program, said he had to work overtime for 100 to 130 hours a month at his job selling scrap metal and only received 110,000 yen per month after tax.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3626

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9) Anonymous re Scott Tucker, killed in a Tokyo bar by a man who got a suspended sentence.

Anonymous: “Now, this is why I’m writing this addendum. Clearly, I knew Scott Tucker. I knew him very well. I drank with him, Japanese-style, at least a hundred times. We drank beer, we ate very good sushi and drank sake; we drank expensive whiskey most foreigners couldn’t, or wouldn’t affordin keep bottles at very nice, exclusive clubs and snacks in central Tokyo. I never, ever, ever, saw Scott Tucker get belligerent. I never saw him get argumentative, even after polishing off a full bottle, with my help, of pricey Japanese whiskey. The implication that somehow, because of his drunkenness, he was threatening enough to pose a danger to a 154-pound disk jockey is so absurd that it leaves me livid. If I were there, and I were tanked up, and the disk jockey decided to come down and take charge of things, it would make sense. I am not a diplomat: when I’m drunk and unhappy and things are waxing ridiculous, I will throw a few people around. But Scotty, no. No, I’m sorry. Whatever the official account, he was a diplomat. Again, I never saw him belligerent, ever, and I knew him for many, many, years. This is what bothers me about the whole “Official” account; it is simply not accurate, and is stilted towards character assassination and implication that is wholly unjustified and clearly driven by agenda. To think that someone can get a probationary sentence for what amounts to ‘sucker-punching’ a neighbor to death just rubs me the wrong way. It doesn’t surprise meas I say, I spent the better part of my life in Japan, and I never assumed for a moment that justice would err in my favour were I to be caught out for an indiscretionbut I feel compelled to to say something on Scotty’s behalf.

“I feel compelled for this reason: were a wealthy Japanese property owner from Azabu, with a famous, elegant wife, to go into a club next door, a club operating in violation of city ordinance, and get into a row with the owners, or the disk jockey, and be killedand were that disk jockey to be a non-Japanesethe media would have a field day with it. And were the non-Japanese disk jockeyan American, or a Brit, or an African to claim he had asphyxiated the wealthy Japanese neighbor out of fear or his own lifehe would be hung from the highest tree in Japan, on national tv, as a murderer, and a fiend, and a crazed violent foreign interloper. But if it’s just a guy who blindsided Scotty, by all means, give him a suspended probationary sentence. A simple self-defense accident.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=3534

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10) Tangent: Japan Times on crackdowns on students at Hosei University

Japan Times: Illegal arrests, forced expulsions, “kidnappings” by security police and beatings by hired thugs. No, it’s not another dispatch from a violent banana republic. Those accusations come from the leafy back-streets of Ichigaya, Tokyo, home to a branch campus of the prestigious Hosei University.

Hosei authorities and a group of students are locked in a poisonous struggle that has turned the campus into something resembling a low-security prison.

Entrances are guarded by newly installed CCTV cameras and jittery guards equipped with Bluetooth headsets. Notices have been published at many sites naming and shaming “troublemakers” who have been expelled, and the police are on call in case things get out of hand.

A provisional injunction forbids students from “loitering, putting up banners and making speeches within 200 meters” of the campus.

Since the dispute began three years ago, 107 students have been arrested and 24 indicted, some of whom awaited trial in detention centers for up to six months. Last Friday, five more students were formally charged with offenses including trespassing and obstructing the police. Another is being kept in detention for at least two more weeks.

Supporters say some have been framed using a prewar law designed to crush labor protests…

http://www.debito.org/?p=3520

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GOOD NEWS?

11) Bernama.com on new proposed “points system” for NJ work visas

Bernama (Malaysian National News Agency): The government is expected to study simplifying procedures for residency permits and reentry, extending the maximum duration of residency permits from three years at present and shortening the period of residency required before securing the right to permanent residency from 10 years in principle…

Similar point systems have been introduced in Britain and Canada. In Britain, the system is applied to scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers and teachers, who can obtain the right of permanent residence in five years if they are recognised as experts with advanced expertise.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3629

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

12) Teigaku Kyuufukin: Have you collected your 12,000 yen tax kickback yet?

Friend Olaf suggested to me yesterday that we ask readers of Debito.org how things are going with their collecting the Supplementary Income Payment (teigaku kyuufukin), the Aso Administration’s answer to financial stimulus (where every adult gets 12,000 yen, plus 8000 yen for oldies and dependents). And yes, NJ residents get it too, so if you haven’t yet received word from your local government with forms (see below), get in touch with your local ward office or town hall and get your kickback.

I got mine a couple of weeks ago (the Sapporo City Govt sent everyone’s by registered mail just try to imagine the costs incurred the taxpayer) and sent it in last week. Still haven’t been paid yet, but how are things going for everyone else? How do you plan to spend your loot?

I still say we could have had more universal stimulus at a lot less administrative cost if we had just given people a holiday, for however long, from the 5% consumption tax. But I’m not a policymaker; what do I know?

Lots of comments from people who have and have not received their money at

http://www.debito.org/?p=3556

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

… and finally… JUST FOR FUN

14) Japanpodshow: Tokyo Podcast on Arudou Debito by Joseph Tame

Joseph: In this interview Debito talks about:

    The first few years of his life in Japan
    The Otaru Onsen Case
    The new Gaijin cards and associated human rights issues, and what you can do to stop their introduction
    Foreigners who defend discrimination against other foreigners claiming that ‘We are guests in Japan’
    Has the situation improved for foreigners in Japan in recent years?
    His public image, and new beard, Arthur.
    I have also created a page on my site, which should help get the interview to the first page when people do Google searches on you.

The page can be found at

http://pokya.jp/japanpodshow/guests/arudou-debito/

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

15) Sapporo Source DEBITO Column June 2009 on Hokkaido Winters

A new “free paper” came out earlier this month in Sapporo. Called SAPPORO SOURCE (get a copy in pdf format at http://www.sapporosource.com), it contains the first of my regular monthly columns, where I talk about offbeat topics (meaning non-human-rights stuff; we got government sponsors). The first one is about the weather. Yes, the weather! Seriously.

And let me add that it’s taken some time for Japan’s #5 City to come up with a free paper of this quality (Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Fukuoka have all had their own for quite some time). The longstanding paper, “What’s On In Sapporo?”, is a milquetoast flyer put out by Sapporo City Government bureaucrats (who can’t even spell “calendar” correctly). SAPPORO SOURCE’s predecessor, XENE, gave it a good go until it succumbed to market temptations that contradicted its mandate as an international paper: 1) putting out damage-control advertising (see my protest letter here), sponsored by the Otaru City Government, that denied that the Otaru Exclusionary Onsens Issue actually existed, and 2) translating exclusionary signs for xenophobes in the Susukino party district, for the 2002 World Cup (some are still up to this day), that effectively said “JAPANESE ONLY” (which XENE decided to render as “MEMBERS ONLY” in five languages, but not Japanese, as if that made things all better; their letter of apology here). XENE folded a couple of years ago, and not before time. It really had no idea how to serve an NJ audience.

Now it’s SAPPORO SOURCE. I had a read of it, and it’s a professional job with a good tone and a lot of useful information. See for yourself.

Cover page and scan of my column, an offbeat one about the drama of Hokkaido winters (yes!), follows…

http://www.debito.org/?p=3544

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

That’s all for this month. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 27, 2009 ENDS

Japan Times updates on new IC Chip Gaijin Card bill — in fact drafted by MOJ

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. The Japan Times is following the story of the new deluxe Gaijin Cards, complete with IC Chip and more punitive policing of most foreigners. And it is now clear from the articles below that the bills were actually drafted by the Ministry of Justice. Meaning it’s all been created in favor of policing, not assimilating, NJ — and under the all-consuming need to keep track of potential “illegal foreign overstayers” by policing everyone (anyone else smell a kind of a witch hunt?).

Got a call from the author Mr Matsutani this evening. He notes that there will be a series of articles on this over the next few days (below are the two camps within the LDP and the DPJ, then on successive days an opponent from the left, and then an opponent from the extreme right). So keep reading the Japan Times — the only paper that cares to give you the straight poop, and do some investigative journalism on topics that matter to its NJ readers.

Excerpts follow:
////////////////////////////////////////////
CONTROLS ON FOREIGNERS
LDP’s point man on immigration bills
Shiozaki says despite opposition, clampdown on illegals still intact
By MINORU MATSUTANI

Excerpt follows, full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090626f1.html
First in a series

The legislative package, now in the Upper House, is the fruit of time-consuming negotiations between Shiozaki and Ritsuo Hosokawa of the Democratic Party of Japan, the two key members of the judicial committee.

“I accepted some of the DPJ’s requests as long as they did not change the main idea of the bills,” Shiozaki told The Japan Times.

The contentious bills that Shiozaki, a former chief Cabinet secretary, was steering through the Lower House actually had been drafted by the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau…

One of Hosokawa’s proposals that Shiozaki did not agree to was eliminating a clause requiring foreigners to carry residence (“zairyu”) cards.

“We can’t give in on that,” Shiozaki said. “Carrying green cards is mandatory in the United States as well.”

Another proposal he rejected was not print the holder’s identification number on the card. Hosokawa argued that an embedded chip would be sufficient, but Shiozaki said he couldn’t accept this because police and immigration officers should be able to write down the number without having to carry around an IC chip reader.

“Basically, I was squeezed by LDP conservatives and Mr. Hosokawa was squeezed by DPJ liberals. In the end, we came up with something that doesn’t change the basic philosophy,” which is to get a comprehensive picture on illegal foreigners, he said.

EXCERPT OF FIRST ARTICLE ENDS
////////////////////////////////////

CONTROLS ON FOREIGNERS
With some concessions, DPJ backs crackdown
The Japan Times, Friday, June 26, 2009
By MINORU MATSUTANI, Staff writer

Excerpt follows, full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090626f2.html
Second in a series

Ritsuo Hosokawa, justice minister in the Democratic Party of Japan’s shadow Cabinet, says he succeeded in softening the tone of the government’s immigration reform package.

“When I saw the original bills for the first time, my impression was that they allowed the government to control foreigners too much,” said Hosokawa, a ranking DPJ member of the Lower House Judicial Affairs Committee…

Among the biggest concerns Hosokawa had was that the proposed legislation was too harsh on people overstaying their visa for legitimate reasons and the possibility that foreign residents’ personal information could be misused…

While Hosokawa had to give up other revisions, including scrapping the requirement to always carry the zairyu card, he “pretty much incorporated in the final version the opinion of people who had concerns,” he said.

Hosokawa stressed his belief that the bills are necessary. “The government needs to know where foreigners live and how many there are,” he said.

“But we should not tighten our control too much. We don’t want to make ‘good foreigners,’ including overstaying foreigners, feel uncomfortable by micromanaging them,” he said. “We want to establish a society where Japanese and foreigners can live together.”

EXCERPT OF SECOND ARTICLE ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////

Alert Debito.org reader MMT comments thusly:
================================
Two comments regarding this quote with the articles:

“Also, there is concern that residence (“zairyu”) card numbers could be leaked outside the Justice Ministry,” he said, explaining why the final version would enable foreign residents to change residence card numbers whenever they want.”

Me: Really? I haven’t read the bill yet, but can NJ actually go to immigration any time they feel like it to change their registration number? Would that actually be a worthwhile thing?

“While Hosokawa had to give up other revisions, including scrapping the requirement to always carry the zairyu card, he “pretty much incorporated in the final version the opinion of people who had concerns,” he said.”

I’d love to hear the “concerns” of the people who insisted on retaining this clause. Other than for the convenience for police (acting as agents for the Ministry of Justice) to be able to randomly harass “foreign-looking” individuals, why the need for this?
===========================
ENDS

Next Diet protest of proposed IC Chip Gaijin Cards Thurs July 2, noon – 1PM, Diet Upper House

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
Please pass the infromation below to your friends. Thank you.

Sonoko Kawakami
AI Japan
————————-
Assemble on July 2 (Thu), 12:00 – 13:00
Discussion is not enough!
We won’t accept the reforms to the Immigration Law or the Basic Resident
Registration Law!

LISTEN TO US!

Date/time: July 2 (Thu) 12:00 – 13:00
Place: Upper House Diet members office building
(A gate pass will be provided at the entrance.)
Organizer: NGO Executive Committee to say NO to the new residency
(zairyu) card system
Programme: – Comments by asylum seekers, foreign nationals
– Comments from diet members, etc.

On June 19, three reform bills — the Basic Resident Registration Law,
the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, and the Special Law
on Immigration Control — were passed in the Lower House of the Diet,
with alterations.

These reform bills are supposed to improve convenience for foreign
nationals who reside in Japan legally. In fact, they diminish
foreigners’ rights and impose stricter controls on them, for example by
increasing the fine for failing to notify officials of any changes to
personal details. Also, once these reform bills are passed in the Upper
House and become law, it would connect governmental systems, immigration
control, and municipal systems for residents registration. Thus it would
undermine municipal autonomy. Moreover, as the new Basic Resident
Registraion Law will not register undocumented people and asylum
seekers, they will become “invisible”.

Despite the serious impact these reform bills will have on foreign
nationals , they have not been fully discussed. The Diet has never asked
for the opinions of foreign nationals. We consider that is a big
problem. Almost no official information has been provided to foreign
nationals even now.

We will hold the 6th assembly in the Diet Member Building in order to
listen to views of foreign nationals who have not yet been consulted.

* For details of the reform bills http://www.repacp.org/aacp/index.php

Contact:
Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)
TEL:03-5802-6033
Amnesty International Japan
TEL:03-3518-6777

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

Japan Today feature on how media focus on crime negatively impacts upon NJ

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 talked yesterday how silly programs like NHK’s “Cool Japan” keeps NJ looking perpetually neophyte and ignorant, here’s another feature from Japan Today on how the media keeps NJ looking threatening.

Debito.org has of course talked about this in the past. Check out a few links here, here, and here. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Japanese urged to take pride in their safe society
Japan Today, Thursday 25th June, 11:19 AM JST

http://www.japantoday.com/category/features/view/japanese-urged-to-take-pride-in-their-safe-society
Courtesy JK, MMT and AW.
TOKYO —

When the media report on violent crime, juvenile delinquency and other social problems, it’s common to see such terms as “kyuzo” (rapidly increasing), “kyoaku-ka” (becoming more vicious) and “teinenrei-ka” (occurring from an earlier age) appearing in headlines.

But such assertions don’t coincide with the statistical data, writes Koichi Hamai, a professor of law at Kyoto’s Ryukoku University in the biweekly magazine Sapio (July 8). Hamai’s essay is one of several that take up the theme “Nihonjin de Yokatta” (it’s good to be Japanese).

Hamai is convinced the print and broadcast media are responsible for advancing a growing perception that Japan’s public order is on the decline. As an example he cites a “Yoron Chosa” survey by the Prime Minister’s office taken in 2006, in which 84.3% of the respondents voiced belief that law and order had declined from 10 years earlier.

That high figure, Hamai believes, was inflated by two major incidents in the mid-1990s: the toxic nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system by members of the Aum religious cult in March 1995, and the arrest of 14-year-old serial killer “Sakakibara Seito,” who terrorized Kobe in the spring of 1997. The former raised the awareness that anyone might be vulnerable to crimes against the person; the latter persuaded the public that crimes by juveniles were becoming increasingly vicious and occurring from an earlier age.

Nevertheless, Hamai points out using eight graphs and tables, statistical data provide no evidence that Japan’s law and order situation is deteriorating. Take homicides, which in Japan in 2006 had declined to 1.1 per 100,000 people, from 1.2 two years previously. The corresponding rates are 3.2 in France, 3.0 in Germany, 2.6 in the UK and 5.7 in the U.S.

Rates for crimes by juveniles are not increasing as a percentage of overall crimes; nor do they show any tendency to occur from an earlier age.

Hamai also points out that rates for crimes by non-Japanese—most of which involve violations of the immigration laws or misdemeanors—are “extremely low” relative to the total number of crimes, and there’s nothing to suggest they are increasing.

How then, can the public’s view be so out of whack with the official figures? Hamai lays the blame squarely on overdramatization by the mass media. In Hamai’s own research conducted in 2006, 50% of his subjects agreed that “crime has increased nationwide over the previous two years”; but when asked if they felt crime had increased in their own neighborhood, only 4% replied yes.

Rather than confine reporting to the particulars of specific incidents, the media provoke a sense of crisis through shrill remarks about “the decline of morals (among youth)” or how “Japan is being targeted (by foreigners)” —treating specific incidents as symbolic of the overall malaise pervading Japan.

Hamai concludes with a plea for society to devote efforts that better reflect social changes, such as through proactive measures to discourage crimes by the elderly due to poverty and alienation.

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

NHK’s “Cool Japan” keeps their guest NJ commentators naive and ignorant

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. Anyone seen an NHK show called “Cool Japan”? It’s a 45-minute show on late Tuesdays and Saturdays. Here’s the writeup from its website, courtesy of JB:

COOL JAPAN – Discovering what makes Japan cool! COOL JAPAN is a term that describes the growing international interest in Japan. From the worlds of fashion, anime, architecture to cuisine, the cultural aspects of Japanese society that have long been left undiscovered are starting to make a strong impact on global trends. COOL JAPAN is a television show that illustrates the quickly changing Japanese culture and how it is perceived by the international community that have recently made Japan their home.

http://www.nhk.or.jp/cooljapan/en/index.html

What gets my goat is:

We are looking for participants who have lived in Japan for less than one year to appear on the television show COOL JAPAN.
(「COOL JAPAN」では出演してくれる来日して1年未満の外国人の方を募集しています。)

And why pray tell is there a limitation on their NJ guests like this? I say they’re getting impressions from people who don’t know their ketsu from a doukutsu yet. Which means their guests about Japan don’t speak much, or any, Japanese. How throughly can you know Japan in less than a year, for crissakes? And their guests are mostly late-teens/early-twenties on top of that — with little to go on to comment about much at all. And they’re acting as cultural emissaries for “their own countries” and giving cross-cultural comparisons running on fumes? Sorry, that’s 3-Blind-Mice Ignorance. And it’s all by design. Through that one-year cap on experiences.

Why not issue a public call for commentators, who actually have some deeper experience living in Japan, to contribute to the debate? Because “cool” is as deep as we want to go. Great social science, NHK. And I believe it adds to the lore within the Japanese viewership (that is who will mostly be watching this program, natch) that our society is impenetrable to the unfortunate hapless foreigners. But that’s still not their fault — they’re starry-eyed newcomers who’ll say something positive about Japan because they still feel like they’re guests. Feel-good broadcast pap TV funded by Japan’s most entrusted TV network.

But then again I’m probably being a bit harsh. What do others who have seen the show think?

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Bernama.com on new proposed “points system” for NJ work visas

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’m not sure what to say at this point, since this “points system” may be a step in the right direction for an objective, clear system for determining who gets what visa and why. There’s been too much “discretion” left to the Immigration Bureau, especially when it comes to doling out statuses such as Permanent Residency. We’ll just have to see how the proposed system shapes up. Again, the GOJ is recognizing the need for migrant labor, just not in any way that seems to actually promote immigration. If done right, however, this system might be one of the first steps towards an actual Immigration Ministry with an actual immigration policy. Wait and see. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
/////////////////////////////////////////

June 22, 2009 12:29 PM
Japan To Introduce ‘Point System’ To Attract Foreigners
Bernama.com (Malaysian National News Agency), courtesy of Matt Dioguardi

http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsworld.php?id=419721

TOKYO, June 22 (Bernama)– The Japanese government plans to introduce a ”point system” to give preferential treatment such as residency permit extensions to foreigners with advanced expertise, Kyodo news reported quoting government sources as saying on Sunday.

The government plans to evaluate foreigners by awarding points for their qualifications, working careers, research achievements and other qualities and to give preferential treatment when their points exceed a certain level, the sources said.

The new system will form part of a reform of the residency permit system amid intensified international competition for engineers and other experts with advanced expertise.

A Justice Ministry panel will discuss the plan soon to begin mapping out the new system.

The government is expected to study simplifying procedures for residency permits and reentry, extending the maximum duration of residency permits from three years at present and shortening the period of residency required before securing the right to permanent residency from 10 years in principle.

The ministry will decide on the jobs to be included under the new system in consultation with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and other ministries and agencies.

A government panel compiled a report last month that included a study on the introduction of the new system.

Similar point systems have been introduced in Britain and Canada. In Britain, the system is applied to scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers and teachers, who can obtain the right of permanent residence in five years if they are recognised as experts with advanced expertise.

— BERNAMA (Malaysia)
ENDS

Kyodo: 34 NJ “Trainees” died FY 2008, 16 from suspected overwork, up from 13 FY 2007

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 sad statistic that should be roundly reported. NJ “Trainees” possibly dying from hundreds of hours of underpaid overwork. Different from J “karoushi” in that “Trainees” can’t switch jobs without losing their visas and being booted out of Japan.

Apparently this is a record number. Why didn’t we hear about this earlier, like, last year, when the same thing was happening? Has to be a matter of degree before it makes news? Courtesy of AW. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

————————————-
34 foreign trainees in Japan died in FY 2008 of suspected overwork
Japan Today.com/Kyodo News
Tuesday 23rd June, 05:23 AM JST

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/34-foreign-trainees-in-japan-died-in-fy-2008-of-suspected-overwork
TOKYO —

Thirty-four foreign trainees died in Japan in fiscal 2008 through March this year, up 13 from the previous year to hit a record high, a survey by a government-linked body promoting a training program showed Monday.

The leading causes of their deaths were brain and heart diseases, which claimed the lives of 16, while five were killed in accidents at work and four in traffic accidents. Supporters of foreign trainees said they suspect those who died from brain and heart disorders actually died from overwork. As of late 2007, about 177,000 foreigners have been staying in Japan under the government’s industrial training and technical internship program.

Shoichi Ibusuki, a lawyer supporting foreign trainees and interns, pointed out that many trainees have been forced to work long hours for lower wages and said he suspects they had died from overwork.

Ibusuki and other supporters submitted a written inquiry to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on Monday, asking it to investigate the causes of the trainees’ deaths and to state how the ministry will deal with the issue.

A labor ministry official said it is not clear why those trainees had developed brain and heart diseases, but expressed willingness to examine their working hours and living conditions.

Following the submission of the inquiry, three Chinese trainees complained about their working conditions at a press conference held in Tokyo.

Ding Jianhui, 35, who came to Japan in September 2006 on the training program, said he had to work overtime for 100 to 130 hours a month at his job selling scrap metal and only received 110,000 yen per month after tax.

‘‘I lived in a container that was not equipped with a bathroom and was treated as cheap labor. My back is still numb,’’ said Ding, who claims he was suddenly dismissed from work late last year.

Jiang Xiangyi, 34, said although he had been told he would be engaging in a carpentry job before he came to Japan, his actual work was dismantling and removing asbestos, which can cause lung cancer.

Jiang said he sometimes worked 26 days a month but was only paid 60,000 yen after tax. ‘‘The type of work was different from what I heard and I didn’t know about the danger of asbestos. I was cheated,’’ he said.
ENDS

Text of proposed amendments to new Immigration Law, including IC Chip Gaijin Cards

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 asked the author of the recent Japan Times articles (here and here) on the passage of the new laws on IC Chip Gaijin Cards et al. to send me his source materials. He very kindly complied. Thanks very much!

Here are fifteen pages of very thick and oddly-formatted pages of legal changes. It’s cumbersome wading through it. So rather than wait until I read everything before commenting, I might as well put these up so we can all read them at the same time.

Revisions to the Juumin Kihon Daichou Hou (which governs how people are registered with local governments, as in juuminhou), followed by the interestingly-titled “shutsu nyuu koku kanri oyobi nanmin nintei hou oyobi nihonkoku to no heiwa jouyaku ni motozuki kokuseki o ridatsu shita mono tou no shutsu nyuu koku kanri ni kansuru tokurei hou no ichibu o kaisei suru tou no houritsu an ni taisuru shuusei an” (draft of the revisions for one part of the draft of the laws governing administration of immigration, administration of recognized refugees, and the special law governing administration of immigration of people who have renounced their Japanese citizenship from countries with a peace treaty with Japan).

What a mouthful. I’m wondering what inspired the special-law conceit about having a peace treaty (does this weed out Russians and North Koreans?). Any ideas out there?

Alright, have a read. Order is as received from the Japan Times. Click on any thumbnail to expand in your browser. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
nyuukanhoukentou001nyuukanhoukentou002nyuukanhoukentou003nyuukanhoukentou004nyuukanhoukentou005nyuukanhoukentou006nyuukanhoukentou007nyuukanhoukentou008nyuukanhoukentou009nyuukanhoukentou010nyuukanhoukentou011nyuukanhoukentou012nyuukanhoukentou013nyuukanhoukentou014nyuukanhoukentou015
ENDS

Japan Times: New IC Chip Gaijin Card passes Lower House, expected to pass Upper too

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 it comes. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

=============================
ALIEN RESIDENCY REVISION ADVANCES
Lower House passes bill revising foreign residency rules
The Japan Times, Saturday, June 20, 2009
By MINORU MATSUTANI

(excerpt)

…Foreign residents will be listed on the Juki Net resident registry network, a computer network linking municipalities that contains demographic information of Japanese residents.

Visas, typically good for three years, will be extended to five. Also, foreign residents will no longer be required to obtain re-entry permits if they return to Japan within a year.

On the other hand, the punishments for failing to report one’s address and other personal information will become harsher. In order to curb fake marriages, the bills give the justice minister the authority to revoke the spousal visas of those who fail to conduct “activities spouses normally do” for six months. Special consideration would be given to spouses who live separately because of mitigating circumstances, including abuse.

According to the bills, the government must review the new immigration law and make necessary changes within three years of enforcement. If enacted, the new law will be enforced within three years of its announcement to the public.
=============================

Full article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090620a3.html
ENDS

MMT on Aso Admin’s plans for “secure society”: reforms in five areas. But not immigration.

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. MMT sends this article on PM Aso’s proposed reforms. But as he notes, the informal taboo on discussing the future of Japan involving immigration is still in effect. With this, it looks pretty official to me. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

COMMENT FROM MMT: Seems the government has decided to focus on 5 areas to ensure an (economic, prosperous) secure future for Japan.

Quote: “To realize a secure society, the panel called for reforms in five areas—employment, child rearing, education, medical care and pensions, with employment being the central axis in a coordinated reform of all five areas.”

But no mention of where the money is going to come from with a falling tax base and extinction-level birth rates? Hello? Immigration? MMT.

=================================
Gov’t proposes reforms in 5 areas to achieve ‘secure’ society
Japan Today.com, Tuesday 16th June, 06:15 AM JST

http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/govt-proposes-reforms-in-5-areas-to-achieve-secure-society

TOKYO — A government expert panel proposed to Prime Minister Taro Aso on Monday that Japan needs to reform five areas centering on employment in order to construct a ‘‘secure’’ society amid widening social and financial disparities.

To achieve a secure society, consensus building would be needed on costs and their financial resources, the 15-member panel said in a report, indicating that discussions will be needed on raising the nation’s consumption tax rate to finance the measures.

The report said, ‘‘If it becomes clear that the tax burden would be used for specific benefits in return, it would be a great help to dispel distrust (in social security) and build consensus to strengthen social security,’’ the report said without specifically mentioning the timing and scale of the consumption tax hike.

‘‘It is definitely true that Japan’s tax burden rate is low. We cannot allow any delay in squarely discussing the tax burden issue including the consumption tax,’’ Hiroshi Yoshikawa, professor at the University of Tokyo, said at the meeting.

To realize a secure society, the panel called for reforms in five areas—employment, child rearing, education, medical care and pensions, with employment being the central axis in a coordinated reform of all five areas.

The report called for enhancing support not only for the elderly but also younger generations in areas such as employment in order to provide ‘‘unbroken’’ social security.

To provide support for younger people, the report called on the government to implement such measures as giving benefits to low-income households and expanding social insurance for non-regular employees in the next three years.

‘‘It is important to provide (social) security for young people and the generations who are still working,’’ Aso said at the meeting, noting that the social security coverage has been overly concentrated on the elderly.

Education reform will lead to the creation of a society that supports long-term employment, while stable employment will enhance security in post-retirement years, the report said, adding that improving medical care would lead to the nurturing of the next generation.

The panel also called on the government to implement emergency measures including alleviating the burden associated with receiving advanced education, introducing a social security number and realigning administrative bodies.

In seeking a secure society, the panel said the country should construct a distinct ‘‘Japanese free-market economy’’ that integrates social equity and a market economy, referencing an apparent departure from a U.S.-style market economy.

The prime minister plans to have the report reflected in the government’s basic policies for fiscal management and to have some parts included in the Liberal Democratic Party’s manifesto for the upcoming House of Representatives election.
=================================
ENDS

Japan Times: New Gaijin Cards bill looks set to pass Diet

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. Looks like we lost this one. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

VOTE LOOMS FOR IMMIGRATION BILL
Immigration revision set to be passed
The Japan Times: Friday, June 19, 2009

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20090619a1.html
Compromise paves way for state-issued foreigner cards
By MINORU MATSUTANI, Staff writer, courtesy lots of people.

The ruling and opposition camps have revised a contentious set of immigration bills in a way that increases government scrutiny of both legal and illegal foreign residents while extending additional conveniences, according to a draft obtained Thursday by The Japan Times.

Legislators from the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling bloc and the Democratic Party of Japan hammered out the bills to reach a balance on how the estimated 110,000 undocumented foreigners living in Japan should be tracked. Currently, municipalities issue alien registration cards and provide public services to foreigners, even if they know they are overstaying their visas.

The revised bills, expected to be passed Friday by the Lower House, will abolish the Alien Registration Act and revise the immigration control and resident registration laws with sweeping changes that put information on foreign residents completely in the hands of the central government.

“The bills are well made. Foreigners obeying the law will be treated better,” said Hidenori Sakanaka, director general of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, a private think tank. Sakanaka headed several of the government’s local immigration offices, including the Tokyo bureau.

According to the draft, authority for managing foreign residents will shift from municipalities to the Immigration Bureau, allowing it to consolidate all personal information collected from foreign residents, including type of visa and expiration date.

Documented foreigners will be given more conveniences, including five-year visas and permit-free re-entry as long as they return within a year.

Undocumented foreigners, however, will have to keep in hiding, request special permits to stay, or face deportation.

To prevent illegal residents who have legitimate reasons for staying from being deported, the bills state that the Justice Ministry, which oversees the Immigration Bureau, must clarify and announce the standard for granting such permits so illegal residents will be motivated to turn themselves in.

“We have to make sure overstaying foreigners who are behaving as good citizens as ordinary Japanese will not have to be deported or go underground,” said DPJ lawmaker Ritsuo Hosokawa, who helped draft the bills in the Lower House Justice Committee.

“We need these bills to be enacted. We need to know how many foreigners there are and where they live. So consolidating information into the Justice Ministry is necessary,” Hosokawa said.

The draft also says a new form of identification called a “zairyu” (residence) card will replace the current alien registration cards, and the personal information and code numbers on them will be given to “the justice minister.”

The bills also have a provision to prevent the ministry from using that data improperly, a decision that was made to ward off criticism that “the minister” could abuse the zairyu card number to violate foreigners’ privacy. But no penalty for such abuse was listed.

The practice, dubbed data-matching, was outlawed by the Supreme Court in regard to its use on Japanese citizens.

The provision says “the justice minister” must limit the use of foreign residents’ personal information to the minimum required for managing such residents and that the information must be handled with care to protect the rights of individuals. But no penalties or methods for enforcing such compliance are listed in the bills.

In addition, foreign residents will also be required to be listed on Juki Net, the contentious nationwide resident registry network that lists data on all Japanese residents in each municipality.

On the other hand, the Immigration Bureau will tighten control of foreign residents by stripping away their residential status if they fail to report changes in address, marital status or workplace within three months. No regulations for that exist under current law.

In addition, those who fail to report such changes within 14 days or are found not carrying their zairyu cards could be hit with a ¥200,000 fine, the same regulation as the current law.

To crack down on fake marriages, the bills allow the justice minister to cancel the residential status of foreigners holding spouse visas who have not conducted “normal spousal activities,” such as living together, for six months without legitimate reason. Legitimate reasons include things like domestic violence, Hosokawa said.

The bills also say, however, that foreigners who lose their spouse visas for such reasons should be made eligible to receive other types of visas.

Special permanent residents, who are typically of Korean or Taiwanese descent, will not have to carry special permanent resident cards, but will still need to possess them.

Special permanent resident status is normally given to people who moved to Japan from the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan during Japan’s colonial rule in the early 20th century, and lost their Japanese citizenship due to peace treaties, and their descendants.

The bills also state that the government is to review the new immigration law and make necessary changes within three years after it comes into force. If enacted, the new law take force within three years after it is announced.

Paperwork on foreign residents, including changes of status and renewal of their alien registration cards, are usually handled by their municipalities. If the new law is enforced, they will have to go to the nearest immigration office to handle everything except for changes of address, which will still be handled by their municipalities.

The Japan Times: Friday, June 19, 2009
ENDS

NPR’s Geoff Nunberg on semantics and their control over public debate

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. Lemme do my weekend tangent a little earlier this week. It does relate to something I’ve discussed recently.

Pursuant to my Japan Times’ JUST BE CAUSE column earlier this month (June 2, “The issue that dares not speak its name“), where I talked about how the domestic media and GOJ deliberately refrain from couching the debate on racial discrimination in those exact terms — “racial discrimination” — and how that affects public awareness in Japan of the issue.

Here’s an excerpt of a June 3, 2009 US National Public Radio “Fresh Air” interview with UC Berkeley linguist Geoff Nunberg (June 4 podcast, from minute seven) which explores exactly the same topic, regarding the American media’s treatment of the debate on “torture”:

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

TERRY GROSS: I’m sure you’ve been keeping up with not only the debate about torture, but also the debate over what word to use to describe the interrogation techniques that were used. Some people have been using “torture” for a long time. Some publications say you can’t use the word “torture” because there’s a legal definition of “torture”, and that when they were doing it, they had a different definition of it courtesy of John Yoo and others in the Office of Legal Counsel. So, what are you hearing when you hear the debate about whether or when it’s appropriate to use the word “torture”, and if not that word, what word should be used?

GEOFF NUNBERG: Well, what’s interesting is that right after the Abu Ghraib story broke five years ago, all the European papers right away were using the word “torture”. The British, German, French press, left and right — not just The Guardian but Rupert Murdoch’s The Times were calling it “torture”. And the American press then and now have been very reluctant to use that word. And they have this idea that, well, this is a legal category. That’s because the [Bush II] Administration insists that it’s a legal category, and have defined it in a way such that these things won’t count as “torture” in the legal sense. The Administration’s definition obviously doesn’t have any broader legal significance even beyond the Administration, much less on a world scale.

And more to the point, it’s an English word. And the moral judgment that attaches to “torture” doesn’t have to do with its legal status. It has to do with looking at these acts, and describing them as “torture”. So that somehow, if the Administration was talking as if, “If we can keep that word at bay, we can keep at bay the moral disapproval that comes with it.” So you got all these terms like, “alternative sets of procedures”, and “vigorous questioning”, and of course, “enhanced interrogation techniques”, which people are still trying to use. And with that came this word “professionals” that Bush kept using. He said, “These are professionals; we want our ‘professionals’ to know that they can to this in a professional–.” Which suggests that not simply that they know what they are doing, but also that they are not taking any pleasure in it.

So I think this a perfect example of the way in which the words you choose determines whether you think something is alright or not. Not the thing itself, but the way you choose to name it. It’s something you see not just with torture, but with “suicide” for example. If you ask people in a poll, “Is it okay for doctors to help terminally-ill patients end their lives?”, you get a lot more people saying “yes” than if you ask them if it is okay for doctors to help terminally-ill patients “commit suicide”. Again, this is a semantic debate. But the important thing to realize is that this is not merely semantic.
==============================

Yes, quite. So if we can keep the word “racial discrimination” (as defined under UN treaty) at bay in Japan — call it “foreigner discrimination”, “discrimination by physical appearance”, or even “cultural differences” and “misunderstandings” — we can keep at bay the moral disapproval that comes with it. We can also keep the plausible deniability in the public arena that something very bad (as opposed to just “bad” or “misunderstood”) is going on, one that requires legislation to prevent it. This sort of thing happens everywhere when people play with words to dull or obfuscate debate.

Be aware of how this works. And be prepared to correct people who wish to shift the terms of debate away from the cold, hard truth. That discrimination against foreigners can be, or is in most cases, the same as discrimination by race. Even UN treaty that Japan signed says so.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

PS: And BTW, if you have any doubts that “torture” actually went on at Abu Ghraib, I recommend my two dinnertime movies this week:

1) “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib” (Rory Kennedy, director)
and
2) “Standard Operating Procedure” (Errol Morris, director)

Both excellent. And both proof positive that Stanley Milgram’s experiments really got to the cold, hard truth.
ENDS

Sit-in Protest re IC Chip Gaijin Cards: Diet Bldg Fri June 19 9AM-12PM, come anytime

SAY NO TO THE IMMIGRATION CONTROL BILLS
Friday, June 19
SIT-IN PROTEST @ Diet Members’ No. 2 Office Building of the Lower House

Lack of consultation with foreign residents.
Lack of discussion in the Lower House.

The bills are scheduled to have a vote on June 19 in the Lower House legal affairs committee.
NGOs call on people living in Japan, both citizens and foreign residents, to join together to
oppose discriminatory reforms to immigration law. Speak out NOW!

Date 09:00〜12:30 Friday, June 19 (no protest when raining)
* Just a 30-minute or one-hour protest is welcome.
At Diet Members’ No. 2 Office Building of the Lower House
The nearest station: ‘Kokkai Gijido Mae’ or ‘Nagata-cho’ station of Metro.
Map http://www.shugiin.go.jp/index.nsf/html/index_kokkaimap.htm

Contact: Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan
TEL:03-5802-6033 FAX:03-5802-6034
e-mail

*****************************************************
川上園子
社団法人アムネスティ・インターナショナル日本
ホームページ:http://www.amnesty.or.jp/
101-0054 東京都千代田区神田錦町2-2 共同(新錦町)ビル4F
TEL. 03-3518-6777 FAX. 03-3518-6778
E-mail:ksonoko@amnesty.or.jp
★アムネスティ・メールマガジンのお申し込みはこちらから!
http://secure.amnesty.or.jp/campaign/
ENDS

Teigaku Kyuufukin: Have you collected your 12,000 yen tax kickback yet?

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 Olaf suggested to me yesterday that we ask readers of Debito.org how things are going with their collecting the Supplementary Income Payment (teigaku kyuufukin), the Aso Administration’s answer to financial stimulus (where every adult gets 12,000 yen, plus 8000 yen for oldies and dependents). And yes, NJ residents get it too, so if you haven’t yet received word from your local government with forms (see below), get in touch with your local ward office or town hall and get your kickback.

I got mine a couple of weeks ago (the Sapporo City Govt sent everyone’s by registered mail — just try to imagine the costs incurred the taxpayer) and sent it in last week. Still haven’t been paid yet, but how are things going for everyone else? How do you plan to spend your loot?

I still say we could have had more universal stimulus at a lot less administrative cost if we had just given people a holiday, for however long, from the 5% consumption tax. But I’m not a policymaker; what do I know?

Friend Ben sent me his forms from Shibuya-ku. They did a decent job of making things multilingual. But as he wrote to The Community last May, his app was rejected. As he put it:

Got the rejection letter today, my application was rejected for two reasons:

1 – The name on bank account card copy doesn’t match your cash card.
2 – Didn’t supply the required identification

So I decided to visit the ward office, I had to pay 2 tax bills anyhow and it was located in the same building.

Paid the tax bills and ask where I could find the supplement payment office. People in the tax office on the 3rd floor had no idea where it was, they huddled around in a group of 6 people trying to figure out where this office was. One lady said, “oh it’s in the basement on the building, in the far other side of the building”. Three of the 6 people people started saying, oh, I never been there before.

So headed down to the B1 area, and sure enough in the most far corner of the building, there was this 100m2 office with 8 workers and a boss in the far corner in the back left. They had 6 chair type booths to handle inquiries.

Walked in the office and I was the only customer. This lady stands up and says in perfect English, may I help you? I showed her the rejection letter. She walks away to talk to the boss in the corner and them comes back.

The name written down as your bank details is in romaji, however the copy of the cash card you provided is in katakana.

my response – Yes, my legal name is in romaji, however they print katakana on the cash card. I think your cash card is the same situation. For example, your name is in kanji, did the bank print kanji on your cash card? She stops for a second and thinks, no my cash card has katakana. I said, there you go, me too, how strange…

So she runs off to the boss again and explains. Then she comes back, well that’s OK then, however the real problem is with the second issue, you didn’t provide a copy of your alien registration card. I said, I gave you a copy of my drivers license, that should be enough. I have lived 15+ years in Japan and I have never given a copy of my alien registration card.

She runs over to the boss again and now the boss and her are at the booth now. She continues to explain I need to prove if I am legally living in Japan to claim the 12,000 yen. So I offered to show my alien registration card, however they are not permitted to make a copy. The boss and the lady chit-chat away for 30 seconds and agree I can show my alien registration card only and this should clear up the paperwork.

That was it, in and out of that supplement payment office in 5 minutes. Had to do nothing, no corrections to the paperwork, no copy of my alien registration card, etc.

If you don’t want to give out a copy of your alien registration card, you will most likely have to visit your city/ward office. But the bank account thing was crazy, not sure what they were thinking.

How have others fared? Any other bureaucratic SNAFUs?

Arudou Debito in Sapporo
=============================

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shibuya-rejectionsmaller
ENDS

Sapporo Source DEBITO Column 1 June 2009 on Hokkaido Winters

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Hi Blog. A new “free paper” came out last week in Sapporo. Called SAPPORO SOURCE (get a copy in pdf format at http://www.sapporosource.com), it contains the first of my regular monthly columns, where I talk about offbeat topics (meaning non-human-rights stuff; we got government sponsors). The first one is about the weather. Yes, the weather.

And let me add that it’s taken some time for Japan’s #5 City to come up with a free paper of this quality (Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Fukuoka have all had their own for quite some time). The longstanding paper, “What’s On In Sapporo?“, is a milquetoast flyer put out by Sapporo City Government bureaucrats (who can’t even spell “calendar” correctly). SAPPORO SOURCE’s predecessor, XENE, gave it a good go — until it succumbed to market temptations that contradicted its mandate as an international paper: 1) putting out damage-control advertising (see my protest letter here), sponsored by the Otaru City Government, that denied that the Otaru Exclusionary Onsens Issue actually existed, and 2) translating exclusionary signs for xenophobes in the Susukino party district, for the 2002 World Cup (some are still up to this day), that effectively said “JAPANESE ONLY” (which XENE decided to render as “MEMBERS ONLY” in five languages, but not Japanese, as if that made things all better; their letter of apology here). XENE folded a couple of years ago, and not before time. It really had no idea how to serve an NJ audience.

Now it’s SAPPORO SOURCE. I had a read of it, and it’s a professional job with a good tone and a lot of useful information. See for yourself.

Oh yes, my column. Cover page and scan of my article follows. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
sapporosourcejune2009001
sapporosourcejune2009002

Text:
THE DEBITO COLUMN
HOKKAIDO’S THREE SEASONS
PART ONE: WINTER
Column one for publication in Sapporo Source June 2009
DRAFT THIRTEEN AND FINAL DRAFT

If you’ve ever read any of my writings (www.debito.org), this column will be a bit of a departure. I’m going to try writing about something more banal. Nothing’s more banal, of course, than the weather. Except if it’s the weather in Hokkaido.

Japan likes to chatter on about its distinct four seasons. But Hokkaido, I’ve noticed after more than twenty years here, has only three: Winter, Summer, and two half-seasons — I’ll call them “Pseudo-Spring” and “Pseudo-Autumn” — that act as short transitions between the two. Let’s chatter here about Winter first, since it’s the most memorable of them all.

At the end of Pseudo-Autumn, you tear October from your calendar and watch The Revolution from your window: the first flakes of snow infiltrating the air and occupying cracks in the road. The time is ripe for change — all Hokkaido’s verdure has collapsed into a uniform brown, with skeleton trees and evil-dead spooky forests clawing their way up from the newly-frozen ground. Nights are long, dark, and brutish throughout November, the worst month — as you can neither ski nor even go outside without wincing, as the winds whip up and blow December closer. Just hunker in your bunker and accept the inevitable: the Siberian snows are yet again crashing in, like a sociopath shadowing your door whom you will eventually have to go outside and face.

Then the snows come. And come. And bury you. Overcome, you coin words like “Tropical Snow Forest”, as thirty centimeters at a time almost every day accumulate to a meter, then two, then three or more as you try to shift it around. At least under The Occupation the long nights are brighter now, and Hokkaido’s odd weather pattern of “dump, then clear” means that you can enjoy sunshine on fresh white snow a couple of times a day. If you’re not happy with the current weather, wait half an hour.

Unfortunately, collaborating with rotations of flurry and dazzle becomes tiresome by mid-January, as Winter overstays its welcome. Everywhere becomes an obstacle course. Sidewalks challenge you to sashay your way through ten centimeters of sublimated ice. Side roads demand you merge into traffic by peering around two-meter drifts, sticking your car’s nose in front of oncoming cars. Hokkaido Winter takes your life into its hands, as you learn how to skate in your shoes or on your car’s snow tires. You wonder if that innocuous-looking crossroads on your commute is going to yield a fatality this year. You begin to watch the forecasts avidly, because at any time the weather may turn foul.

Eventually you come round to seeing why Japan’s nanny state exists. Local NHK broadcasts devote at least a third of their airtime to the weather, what roads have been freshly blocked, and where pileups have occurred. You take heed, or else you too might lose the road and find yourself in a potentially fatal situation.

But Hokkaido’s fatalism is what makes us special. Sure, people down south get seasonal spurts of storms when typhoons barrel through. But they don’t compare with our daily dump that whallops, then envelops, for three solid months. So we learn to live with it. Contrast that with Tokyo, when you scoff at their panic at a whole three centimeters accumulated. Their trains and school systems are in chaos! Bah! They’re rich, but they’re softies! By February, snow has even occupied our economy, as the Japanese military tames it into snow sculptures to attract and bedazzle the rich tourists.

Fortunately, Winter officially turns a corner by the end of the Snow Festival, when you get a miraculous day or two above freezing. At the start of March, you wonder if the snow and ice will ever begone. Fear not, it will. Hokkaido has no glaciers, and within three weeks, you can emerge from your bunker to kick over the retreating snow walls on the sidewalks, and smash the cages of icicles on nearby roofs. There is a joy in shoveling dying ice in front of oncoming cars. The Resistance has prevailed. Open the window and savor the victory of outlasting yet another Occupation.

That’s how we suddenly arrive at the dazed and confused brown grasses of Pseudo-Spring — not sure if it’ll rain or shine, but at least it won’t snow and stick. Then you can enjoy Golden Week for one more important reason: it’s as far away from Winter as possible.

It is also mere footfalls from Summer, the reason why everyone in the world should live in Hokkaido. I’ll get to that next column.

760 WORDS
ENDS

ENDS

Anonymous re Scott Tucker, killed in a Tokyo bar by a man who got a suspended sentence.

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 wrote here about Scott Tucker, a man who was killed in a bar by a DJ in 2008 who got off lightly in Japanese court.

Background article here: http://www.debito.org/?p=2060

And my Japan Times article last March about the emerging double standards of justice (a suspended sentence for a murder? Hard to envision happening for many NJ if the situations were reversed):

http://www.debito.org/?p=2813

Here’s some background from the victim from a friend of his. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

About Scott Tucker…
By Anonymous


Debito.org, June 16, 2009

Hello Debito,

I have many friends who are permanent residents of Japan, and I suppose I came very close to being one of them myself, as I have a long and endearing relationship with the country–and like most permanent residents, had an emotional relationship with a Japanese National which was stronger, shall we say, than international bonds… I lived in Japan from infancy until I was six, and returned after college to work for many years in Tokyo. I applaud your site and your efforts, and wish you the very best in your ongoing pursuits.

I am writing about the unfortunate incident involving “Scott” Tucker, the American businessman who was killed in the Azabu club “Bull Ett” (Bullet) last year. I have read the many comments, and the attached links, and somehow I feel compelled to say a bit more on the subject–though certainly I do not claim to be an expert regarding what exactly took place at the club that night. What follows is my “read-between-the-lines” take on what likely happened, with regrets…

Scott Tucker was a multimillionaire. This simple fact doesn’t seem to percolate through the many official accounts of the incident; Scotty is portrayed as some disaffected gaijin who was inebriated and belligerent, wandered into some club, and accidentally received a fatal choke-hold from the concerned and threatened disk-jockey on duty at the time–hence the probationary sentence for murder… A few articles mention that Scotty owned the building next door to the club where the incident took place; they do not mention Tokyo city ordinances regarding noise, or the operation of commercial businesses, or discos, which create noise, after midnight in that particular neighborhood: that club was in Nishi-Azabu, Tokyo, the most expensive real estate, per square meter, in the world. If he had chosen, Scott could have lived on Park Avenue, New York, or along the Champs Elysees, in Paris. He could have lived anywhere he chose, but he chose Tokyo, because of the low crime rate and his affinity for Japan and its culture. His wife was one of the most famous jewelry designers in Japan. He spoke beautifully fluent Japanese–another fact not found in most accounts–and he was a great fan of music, with an exceptional singing voice and rather discerning, and eclectic, musical tastes. He was not some angry foreign English teacher who wandered into a club and got past the security bouncers; he was a property owner who had had enough of the club operating illegally next door to his property. This is a crucial detail: Tokyo city ordinance prohibits loud music and club function in that residential section of Azabu after midnight, as it is a residential neighborhood. The club was functioning “After Hours” in blatant violation of city ordinance–an ordinance which was neither enforced nor cited. Again, Scotty OWNED the building next door; he was not some yahoo foreigner wandering into a club looking for a fight. Take a moment to reflect on that, as most of you do not own anything in Japan, not to mention a building in Azabu; if you are lucky enough to own some crap mansion in Chiba, and the Takoyaki shop beneath you insists on entertaining drunk patrons headed for the first train, you have probably gone downstairs–at your wife’s behest–and said “Hey, fuck! It’s three o’clock in the morning! Close it down and shut up!”

On a classier, more expensive scale, Scotty was doing the same thing…

So, Scott comes home, after a night of Japanese-style drinking with his friends. His building is shaking from the sounds of a club operating illegally after-hours next door to him. He has a history with that club, and with the DJ (per written accounts), having asked, on several occasions, that they keep it down, as city ordinances dictated. So, he goes next door, feeling justified–which, quite frankly, he is (and I don’t suppose you’ll ever read that in any official account). He wants the people out of there, wants the music shut down, and wants some peace and quiet in his own building next door (again, which he OWNS). The DJ, who is on his midnight roll, sees Scott scattering the crowd and insisting people go home, gets pissed (and, by his own admission, having seen a tv program on choke-holds and special forces moves), leaves his Disk Jockey box, comes up behind Scott, kicks him in the groin (there is no clear account of him actually facing off with Scott, meaning it is likely he kicked him in the “Groin” from behind, got him in the chokehold from behind–the choke hold he recently he saw on tv–and accidentally broke Scott’s windpipe, or snapped his neck? (the original account said Scott’s neck was broken). I have been to so many Tokyo clubs it is not worth trying to recount; I am 6’1 and 240 pounds, and fit: I have ejected American marines and military personnel from clubs I like for behaving in a manner I didn’t like, clubs I considered my local favourites, where other foreigners were ruining my good time, or embarrassing me in front of my Japanese friends. I never, ever, in my wildest youthful belligerence, saw the wimpy disk jockey come out of his booth and take a personal stake in the ejection of a patron. Quite the contrary, frankly.

Now, this is why I’m writing this addendum. Clearly, I knew Scott Tucker. I knew him very well. I drank with him, Japanese-style, at least a hundred times. We drank beer, we ate very good sushi and drank sake; we drank expensive whiskey most foreigners couldn’t, or wouldn’t afford–in keep bottles at very nice, exclusive clubs and snacks in central Tokyo. I never, ever, ever, saw Scott Tucker get belligerent. I never saw him get argumentative, even after polishing off a full bottle, with my help, of pricey Japanese whiskey. The implication that somehow, because of his drunkenness, he was threatening enough to pose a danger to a 154-pound disk jockey is so absurd that it leaves me livid. If I were there, and I were tanked up, and the disk jockey decided to come down and take charge of things, it would make sense. I am not a diplomat: when I’m drunk and unhappy and things are waxing ridiculous, I will throw a few people around. But Scotty, no. No, I’m sorry. Whatever the official account, he was a diplomat. Again, I never saw him belligerent, ever, and I knew him for many, many, years. This is what bothers me about the whole “Official” account; it is simply not accurate, and is stilted towards character assassination and implication that is wholly unjustified and clearly driven by agenda. To think that someone can get a probationary sentence for what amounts to ‘sucker-punching’ a neighbor to death just rubs me the wrong way. It doesn’t surprise me–as I say, I spent the better part of my life in Japan, and I never assumed for a moment that justice would err in my favour were I to be caught out for an indiscretion–but I feel compelled to to say something on Scotty’s behalf.

I feel compelled for this reason: were a wealthy Japanese property owner from Azabu, with a famous, elegant wife, to go into a club next door, a club operating in violation of city ordinance, and get into a row with the owners, or the disk jockey, and be killed–and were that disk jockey to be a non-Japanese–the media would have a field day with it. And were the non-Japanese disk jockey–an American, or a Brit, or an African– to claim he had asphyxiated the wealthy Japanese neighbor out of fear or his own life–he would be hung from the highest tree in Japan, on national tv, as a murderer, and a fiend, and a crazed violent foreign interloper. But if it’s just a guy who blindsided Scotty, by all means, give him a suspended probationary sentence. A simple self-defense accident. The whole thing is kawaii-soo. And, in fact, as I sit here in California, thinking about Scott Tucker, my old friend, the whole incident is indeed Kawaii soo.

When you click on a Quicktime video and watch it in Japan, you are clicking on Scott Tucker; he pioneered that app. in Japan. If you have a serious internal medical problem, and must receive surgery for it in Japan, it is possible your life will be saved by Scott Tucker–he developed distance software for medical applications, so that a qualified surgeon–rather than the hereditary fool with lax training who is cutting you open in Saitama–can supervise in real-time from abroad, and oversee the procedure with modern surgical techniques. Please do not forget that a 154-pound disk jockey, with a baddass attitude and a few Chimpira behind him, skirting the local and ineffectual police, put an end to any other innovations my talented and gentle friend, who loved Japan, might ever develop. That is who Scott Tucker was, that is what was lost when Mr. disk jockey got his suspended sentence. Hell, it’s almost a Bob Dylan song, and no one would laugh louder at the absurdity of it all than Richard Scott Tucker. He had a good sense of humor, most of all. And I will miss him.

Zannen na kotodeshita, Scotty San, kawaii soo to omoo… Ma, shoganaii, yo ne? Shoganaii…


–Anonymous
ENDS

Sit-in Protest of New IC Chip Gaijin Cards, Every Tues morning, Diet Building, all welcome

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 your last chance to protest the proposed IC Chipped Gaijin Cards, before they go through the Diet and bring us one step closer to the surveillance society by race and nationality. Suggest you do it if you have the time. Arudou Debito
—————————————————————-
SAY NO TO THE IMMIGRATION CONTROL BILLS
2009.6.19 Tuesday
SIT-IN PROTEST @ Diet Members’ No. 2 Office Building of the Lower House
—————————————————————-

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.
Speak out NOW!

Date 09:30〜12:30 Tuesday, June 16 (no protest when raining)
* Just a 30 minutes or one hour protest is welcomed.
At Diet Members’ No. 2 Office Building of the Lower House
The nearest station: ‘Kokkai Gijido Mae’ or ‘Nagata-cho’ station of Metro.
Map http://www.shugiin.go.jp/index.nsf/html/index_kokkaimap.htm

Contact: Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan
TEL:03-5802-6033 FAX:03-5802-6034
e-mail
http://www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net/English/English.html

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

<転送歓迎>
——————————————————–
まだ採決には至ってません。止めるチャンスはまだあります!
入管法改悪・十分な議論なき採決に反対!
6月16日(火) 国会前座り込み 
——————————————————–

6月16日(火) 09:30〜12:30
衆議院第二議員会館前
*雨天の場合は中止。

当事者の声をなぜ聞かないの!?

外国籍住民への負担を増やし、監視を強化し、さらに一部の外国籍住民を社会
から完全排除するなど数々の問題が指摘されている入管法改定案。
ここ数週間、衆議院法務委員会が開かれないままの状況が続いています。

当事者らの意見を聞かず、審議も尽くしていない採決に反対し、同日午前9時から
衆議院第二議員会館前で座り込みの抗議を行ないます。

※原則として、毎週火曜日に行います。(時間・場所は同じです。)

【主催】「新たな在留管理制度」導入に抗議する5・24集会実行委員会
    (呼びかけ団体:移住連/外国人人権法連絡会)

【問合せ先】移住労働者と連帯する全国ネットワーク(移住連)
       tel. 03-5802-6033
       mail. fmwj@jca.apc.org

【実行委員会構成団体】
アジア女性資料センター/アムネスティ・インターナショナル日本/移住労働者と
連帯する全国ネットワーク/NPO法人 ABC Japan/外国人人権法連絡会/外
登法問題と取り組む全国キリスト教連絡協議会(外キ協)/神奈川シティユニオン
/カラバオの会/在日韓国人問題研究所(RAIK)/自由人権協会/全国一般労
働組合東京南部/全国労働組合連絡協議会/全統一労働組合/中小労組政
策ネットワーク/日本消費者連盟/反差別国際運動日本委員会/反住基ネット
連絡会/フォーラム平和・人権・環境

*****************************************************
川上園子
社団法人アムネスティ・インターナショナル日本
ホームページ:http://www.amnesty.or.jp/
101-0054 東京都千代田区神田錦町2-2 共同(新錦町)ビル4F
TEL. 03-3518-6777 FAX. 03-3518-6778
E-mail:ksonoko@amnesty.or.jp
★アムネスティ・メールマガジンのお申し込みはこちらから!
http://secure.amnesty.or.jp/campaign/
ENDS

Japanpodshow: Tokyo Podcast on Arudou Debito by Joseph Tame

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 Joseph Tame. Thanks Joseph! Debito

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

Hi Debito,

It was a pleasure to meet you recently. 🙂

Your interview is now live online.

http://pokya.jp/japanpodshow/guests/arudou-debito/
I’ve made it available in a couple of formats, as:

– in its entirety as an MP3

– In its entirety as a streaming video on Vimeo.com

– In 6 parts as You Tube videos

– In six parts as downloadable mp4 video files.

In this interview Debito talks about:

The first few years of his life in Japan

    The Otaru Onsen Case
    The new Gaijin cards and associated human rights issues, and what you can do to stop their introduction
    Foreigners who defend discrimination against other foreigners claiming that ‘We are guests in Japan’
    Has the situation improved for foreigners in Japan in recent years?
    His public image, and new beard, Arthur.

I have also created a page just for you on my site, which should help get the interview to the first page when people do Google searches on you.

The page can be found at

http://pokya.jp/japanpodshow/guests/arudou-debito/
Joseph

ENDS

Back from lovely trip to Tokyo: Quick update for tonight

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. Just a quick word this evening before midnight. It was a lovely time again in Tokyo this trip. Fri and Sat were lovely days, no rain despite forecasts. Went out on a catamaran with friend Chris, had a lovely afternoon playing petanque, a French boules game (which, after six hours or so, gives you quite a workout). We had four teams, round robin tourney, friend Monty’s wife as my partner (I signed their marriage certificate last January) and we came in second place! This after it being only my second time playing; thoroughly enjoyable.

Today’s Linguapax conference was excellent, with lots of good presentations on human trafficking on tap. SOUR STRAWBERRIES documentary was well received, felt like I was in the zone with speeches, and copious cross-pollenization of ideas with Frances, Biba, and new campadre in the US Embassy Daniel made Sunday a real joy.

I’ll be back online in earnest tomorrow. Thanks for waiting. Debito back in Sapporo

Tangent: Japan Times on crackdowns on students at Hosei University

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’m in Tokyo now and not really all that accessible online until Sunday night, so let me direct your attention to a pretty nasty thing brewing over at Hosei University. Not a NJ issue per se, but definitely one involving human rights, freedom of speech, and the ability of administrations to arbitrary police, detain, punish, and expel people within its charge. Worth a read. Sorry to be brief for now. Arudou Debito in Tokyo

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

PHOTO: “Outrageous”: Activists claim the photo above shows a student lying unconscious after being roughed up by security guards hired by Hosei University during a rally at its Ichigaya campus. COURTESY OF ZENGAKUREN
THE ZEIT GIST
Rumpus on campus
Prestigious university in Tokyo has become a battleground in a war over freedom of political expression
By DAVID McNEILL
Japan Times Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Illegal arrests, forced expulsions, “kidnappings” by security police and beatings by hired thugs. No, it’s not another dispatch from a violent banana republic. Those accusations come from the leafy back-streets of Ichigaya, Tokyo, home to a branch campus of the prestigious Hosei University.

Hosei authorities and a group of students are locked in a poisonous struggle that has turned the campus into something resembling a low-security prison.

Entrances are guarded by newly installed CCTV cameras and jittery guards equipped with Bluetooth headsets. Notices have been published at many sites naming and shaming “troublemakers” who have been expelled, and the police are on call in case things get out of hand.

A provisional injunction forbids students from “loitering, putting up banners and making speeches within 200 meters” of the campus.

Since the dispute began three years ago, 107 students have been arrested and 24 indicted, some of whom awaited trial in detention centers for up to six months. Last Friday, five more students were formally charged with offenses including trespassing and obstructing the police. Another is being kept in detention for at least two more weeks.

Supporters say some have been framed using a prewar law designed to crush labor protests…

Rest of the article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090609zg.html
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 11, 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 All. I’m in Tokyo from today, so let this be my post for the time being. Before I get started with this Newsletter, news flash. Those who haven’t seen documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES, you can catch a screening this Sun June 14 at the Tokyo Univ Komaba Campus, from 2:30PM. All the details you need to get there at

http://www.debito.org/?p=3491

I’ll be there too, so stop by!

Sponsored by Linguapax Asia, part of an all-day symposium on human trafficking at Komaba that day.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 11, 2009

Table of Contents:

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

IMMIGRATION AND JAPAN’S FUTURE

1) DIJ Tokyo Symposium 2009: Japan’s Demographic Science overtaken by anti-immigration politics

2) Tokyo Trip June 2-5 overview, plus report on NJ nurses and caregiver program talks at DIJ

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

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

5) Asahi on future of Japanese pension plans: oldies below poverty line

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

7) Protest IC Chipped Gaijin Cards every Tuesday anytime between 9AM-12:30PM, Diet Building, Tokyo

TANGENTS

8 ) Sunday Tangent: DPJ submits bill to limit seshuu seijika (hereditary politicians)

9) Japan Today Kuchikomi: Oddly includes NJ stats in article on gang rape at Kyoto U of Education

10) Sugaya Case: M-J on policing and Japanese jurisprudence

FOLLOW-UPS

11) Bankrupt Eikaiwa NOVA’s Saruhashi admits wrongdoing in court

12) Sumo Stablemaster gets his for Tokitaizan hazing death

13) More on fingerprinting, tracking people electronically, and RFID technology

… and finally…

14) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Jun 2 2009: “The issue that dares not speak its name” (full text)

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

By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org)

Daily Blog updates in real time at www.debito.org

Freely Forwardable

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

IMMIGRATION AND JAPAN’S FUTURE

1) DIJ Tokyo Symposium 2009: Japan’s Demographic Science overtaken by anti-immigration politics

A recent symposium featuring Japanese researchers hosted by the German Institute of Japanese Studies was enlightening. Everyone concluded that Japan is facing a demographic juggernaut, with an aging society with low birthrate, depopulating countryside, and ever more populating cities. Japan is not only greying, but also losing its economic prowess.

Yet these conclusions suddenly become null once one brought in immigration. One representative of a Japanese demographics think tank gave a noncommittal answer, citing that Japan is (now suddenly) a crowded place, that immigration was not an option for our country, and that inflows must be strictly controlled for fear of overpopulation. A follow-up with him one-on-one got him claiming there is “no national consensus” (he used the word in English) on the issue. When I asked him whether or not this was a vicious circle (as in, no discussion of the issue means no possible consensus), he dodged. When I asked him if this term was a loaded one, one political instead of scientific regarding demography, he begged off replying further.

This dodging happened with every other Japanese speaker on the issue (one other person in the audience raised the same question with another speaker, who eventually gave a begrudging acknowledgement that foreigners might be necessary for Japan’s future, but he himself couldn’t envision it).

This does not give me hope for the future policy, or even proper demographic scientific analysis in Japan…

http://www.debito.org/?p=3442

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

2) Tokyo Trip June 2-5 overview, plus report on NJ nurses and caregiver program talks at DIJ

Here’s a brief overview of what happened to me the past few days during my most recent Tokyo trip, including speaking in front of the Diet building against the IC Chips in Gaijin Cards and helping Trans-Pacific Radio out with their live podcast at the Pink Cow Shibuya. But it’s not all personal stuff. There is also a summary of two talks on international migration I found informative. Excerpt:

International migration has produced 195 million migrants. They now number as a proportion of population 1 in 10 in industrialized countries, and 1 in 35 of the world labor force. There are now 195 million migrants, 50% of them now women. When it comes to the proposed import of nurses and caregivers from Indonesia and the Philippines, as per bilateral agreements with Japan under “Economic Partnership Agreements”, the goal is, according to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, of 1.5 million NJ caregivers in Japan by 2040. But the program has gotten off to an inauspicious start.

Only in its second year, the EPAs have had goals of only 1000 total NJ health care workers imported. They would be trained in Japanese for six months (at the hiring company’s expense, of around 600,000 yen, then work the remaining four and a half years in the health sector getting their skills and standards up to speed. The course is harsh, as it is a “tenure system”, as in “up or out”. If they don’t pass the same caregiver and nurse tests that Japanese natives pass within five years, they lose their visas and get sent back home. This test, by the way, has a 50% fail rate for native Japanese. And salaries are not all that great for anyone working the severe hours required in this business sector (which may account for why there is a shortage of nurses and caregivers in Japan in the first place)…

http://www.debito.org/?p=3447

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

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3340

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

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3317

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

5) Asahi on future of Japanese pension plans: oldies below poverty line

Asahi: The average household that starts receiving public pension benefits this fiscal year will see the payment level drop to about 40 percent of average working household incomes in 20 years, the welfare ministry said.

The ministry’s latest estimates include changes in annual benefits over 20 years. If the average household begins receiving benefits in fiscal 2009 when the couple reach the age of 65, the payments will be 223,000 yen a month, or 62.3 percent of the average income of working households.

When the couple become 85 years old, the pension amount will be 199,000 yen in terms of current values, or 43.2 percent of the average working household income.

COMMENT: Here is the proposed future for those of us paying into our nation’s pension plan. Read and weep. Considering Japan’s unofficial poverty line is about 200,000 yen a month, people who retire are forecast to become just that: impoverished.

Good discussion on Debito.org about pension plans in general at:

http://www.debito.org/?p=3397

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

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

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. In my opinion this “startbook” = ‘Read This Book, Become A Good Gaijin, And Don’t Cause Us Any Trouble”.

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: I’m not quite that negative about it. Sample scans of the book enclosed, and a link to a pdf to the entire book at

http://www.debito.org/?p=2973

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

7) Protest IC Chipped Gaijin Cards every Tuesday anytime between 9AM-12:30PM, Diet Building, Tokyo

NUGW Nambu: A sit-in will be held in front of the Diet Building every 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.

Contact Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (Ijuuren)’s (http://www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net/) Takaya-san at fmwj AT jca DOT apc DOT org for more information.

More information at:

http://www.debito.org/?p=3412 (info on June 2 protest, but it’s a template for what’s happening every Tues from now on, as the Diet has extended its current debate session for two more months).

What happened when I attended on June 2: I was handed a mike, and asked to give the Diet a piece of my mind. I did.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3447

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

TANGENTS

8 ) Sunday Tangent: DPJ submits bill to limit seshuu seijika (hereditary politicians)

Here’s the best reason I can see for voting for (and urging your relatives to vote for) the opposition DPJ yet. And no, it’s not a NJ issue. It’s the issue of seshuu seijika, or politicians with inherited Diet seats.

In my view, inherited seats and political dynasties to this degree are the biggest reason we have so much rot in Japan’s democratic institutions: gormless politicians who neither understand how the other (poorer) half of Japan lives, nor have any reason to rock the boat and institute any real reforms of the status quo because they’re a political elite with their future estates sewn up for life.

For example, either way the next election swings, we’ll have Aso (grandson of former PM Yoshida Shigeru and son of a former Dietmember) or Hatoyama Yukio (grandson of former PM Hatoyama Ichiro and son of a former Dietmember too). All thoroughbreds. As have most PMs been in the past couple of decades.

I talk more about this in the context of just how myopic Japan’s policymaking is in a Japan Times article back in December 2007. I also enclose in this blog entry three articles from the Japan Times.

Any political party willing to limit the powers of its own politicians is worth a second look. I say get ready to vote DPJ.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3459

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

9) Japan Today Kuchikomi: Oddly includes NJ stats in article on gang rape at Kyoto U of Education

Here’s something pointed out last week in a comment on Debito.org by E.P. Lowe, about a ponderous essay on Japan Today.com why students do the things they do, such as gang rapes in Kyoto University of Education. And then, with no particular need whatsoever, we get stats on how many foreign students are attending. Not sure why that’s materiel for this article, especially given the tendency by elements in this country to drag foreigners into reports and policy proposals on crime, even when they are unconnected to the crime being discussed. Unprofessional, Japan Today.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3453

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

10) Sugaya Case: M-J on policing and Japanese jurisprudence

Big news last week was Sugaya Toshikazu’s very, very rare acquittal after nearly two decades in prison. It describes well what’s really sick about Japan’s judicial system (primer on that here), which you had better pay attention to because as NJ you’re more likely to be stopped, prosecuted, and convicted in Japan (primer on that here) by the police forces.

Here’s what the Mainichi had to say last week about the Sugaya Case, followed by an appraisal of the situation by reader M-J…

http://www.debito.org/?p=3472

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

FOLLOW-UPS

11) Bankrupt Eikaiwa NOVA’s Saruhashi admits wrongdoing in court

Former Eikaiwa boss Saruhashi finally admits he done wrong. But neglects to mention how all the unpaid teachers left in the lurch will still be left in the lurch. This was once the largest employer of NJ in Japan? Saru mo ki kara ochiru, as they say. But this is a mighty fall by a money skimmer with a money spinner. And a shady company from start to finish anyway, setting the business model for other eikaiwas out to screw over both their students and their teachers. Throw the book at this guy, and make him cough up what he owes to his teachers. So that others don’t do the same and think it’s “just regular business practice”.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3500

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

12) Sumo Stablemaster gets his for Tokitaizan hazing death

A bit of follow-up on a case that Debito.org took up some months ago due to the politics of Sumo (and our perceived need for the Association to divert attention from its own excesses by bashing the foreigners). The stablemaster whose orders resulted in the death of Sumo wrestler Tokitaizan two years got his: Seven years in the clink. Good. But it’s now on appeal, and who knows if it’ll be lessened to the degree where it does not become a deterrent for future leaders to order and carry out the bullying and hazing of its underlings.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3468

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

13) More on fingerprinting, tracking people electronically, and RFID technology

Update Three this week. I put out an article three weeks ago that sparked some controversy, about the prospects of the new Gaijin Cards with IC Chips within them being used to track people and ferret out the foreigners with more effectiveness than ever before. I was accused of scaremongering by some, but oh well.

As a followup, here are some responses and links to germane articles from cyberspace, pointing out how my prognostications may in fact be grounded in reality. Along with a critique at the very bottom from friend Jon Heese, Tsukuba City Assemblyman, of that controversial article.

http://www.debito.org/?p=3483

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

… and finally…

14) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Jun 2 2009: “The issue that dares not speak its name” (full text)

JUST BE CAUSE

The issue that dares not speak its name

The Japan Times: Tuesday, June 2, 2009, Column Sixteen

By ARUDOU Debito

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090602ad.html

Version with links to sources at

http://www.debito.org/?p=3437

A few columns ago (“Toadies, Vultures, and Zombie Debates,” March 3), I discussed how foreign apologists resuscitate dead-end discussions on racial discrimination. Promoting cultural relativity for their own ends, they peddle bigoted and obsolescent ideologies now impossible to justify in their societies of birth.

This would be impossible in Japan too, if racial discrimination was illegal. And it would be nice if people who most need a law passed would unite and demand one.

But that’s not why getting that law is tough. It’s more because the domestic debate on racial discrimination has been dulled and avoided due to rhetorical tricks of the Japanese media and government. After all, if you can’t discuss a problem properly, you can’t fix it.

How it works: In Japanese, “racial discrimination” is jinshu sabetsu. That is the established term used in official translations of international treaties (such as the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, or CERD) that Japan has signed up to.

However, the Japanese media won’t couch the discussion in these terms. This was visible during the nationwide debate generated by the Otaru onsen case (1999-2005), where public bathhouses refused entry to customers because they didn’t “look Japanese.” If you read the oodles of non-tabloid articles on this case (archived at www.debito.org/nihongotimeline.html ), you’ll see the debate was conducted in milder, misleading language.

For example, it was rendered in terms of gaikokujin sabetsu (discrimination against foreigners). But that’s not the same thing. The people being discriminated against were not all foreign (ahem).

Or else it was depicted as gaiken sabetsu (discrimination by physical appearance). But that’s not “race,” either. Nor is “physical appearance” specifically covered by the CERD.

This term particularly derails the debate. It actually generates sympathy for people afraid of how others look.

Think about it. If, say, some old fart is standoffish towards people who are tall, big, dark, scary-looking, foreign-looking, etc., oh well, shikata ga nai it can’t be helped. We Japanese are shy, remember.

Fortunately, there are limits: “Looks,” sure, but few Japanese would ever admit to disliking people specifically by race, even though one is a factor of the other.

That’s because racial discrimination, according to the Japanese education system, happens in other countries like America under segregation or South Africa under apartheid. Not in Japan.

Then things get really wet: Remember, We Japanese admire certain types of foreigners, so we’re obviously not prejudiced. And We Japanese have been discriminated against in the past for our race, like, for instance, those American World War II internment camps. And how about the time we got ripped off for being naive, trusting Japanese last time we ventured overseas? So it works both ways, y’see?

Welcome to the Never-Never Land of Self-Justification and Victimization. If We Japanese are doing something discriminatory, so what? Everybody else is doing it. So we’ll keep on keeping on, thank you very much. There the debate dies a death of a thousand relativities.

Back to the media, which stifles more intelligent debate through its rhetoric of avoidance. They rattle on about minshuteki sabetsu (discrimination by ethnicity), even though it wasn’t until last year that Japan even admitted it had any minorities.

Or else it’s not portrayed as a form of discrimination at all: It’s a matter of cultural misunderstandings, language barriers, microwaves and sun spots, whatever anything but calling a spade a spade. That’s why only one article out of the 100 or so on the Otaru onsen case actually deemed it flat out, without quoting some radical-sounding activist jinshu sabetsu. Not a misprint. One. And that was a Hokkaido Shimbun editorial at the very end of the case.

Pity it only took five years of debate for them to get it, and more pity that the media has since mostly gone back to claiming discrimination by nationality, looks, ethnicity, culture etc. all over again.

The Japanese government’s fingerprints are also all over this rhetorical legerdemain. When the U.N. CERD Committee first accused Japan of not doing enough to eliminate racial discrimination back in 2000 ( www.debito.org/japanvsun.html ), double-talk was in fine form.

First, the government argued back that Japan has no ethnic minorities, and therefore anyone who was a citizen was a member of the Japanese race. Thus citizens were not covered by the CERD because any discrimination against them couldn’t be by race.

Then they admitted that foreigners in Japan might indeed be victims of discrimination. But that’s too bad. They’re foreigners. They don’t have the same rights as citizens, such as the right to vote or run for office. Even the CERD acknowledges that. Oh well. If foreigners want the same rights, they should naturalize.

Never mind those half-million or so former foreigners who have naturalized, such as this writer, who don’t all fall into this neat dichotomy. Somehow they don’t count.

Essentially, the government is arguing that the CERD covers nobody in Japan.

That’s why domestic debate on racial discrimination is so carefully worded. If somebody gets denied something ostensibly because they’re a foreigner, or foreign-looking, it’s not a matter of race. It might be discrimination by nationality, or by face, or by culture, or not even discrimination at all.

Just don’t dare call it jinshu sabetsu, the scourge that dares not speak its name. If we pretend it doesn’t exist, you can’t legislate against it.

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

Debito Arudou is coauthor of the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants.” Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments to community@japantimes.co.jp

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

All for today! Thanks for reading!

Arudou Debito

Sapporo, Japan

debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 11, 2009 ENDS

Follow-up: More on fingerprinting, tracking people electronically, and RFID technology

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.  Update Three this week.  I put out an article three weeks ago that sparked some controversy, about the prospects of the new Gaijin Cards with IC Chips within them being used to track people and ferret out the foreigners with more effectiveness than ever before.  I was accused of scaremongering by some, but oh well.

As a followup, here are some responses and links to germane articles from cyberspace, pointing out how my prognostications may in fact be grounded in reality.  Along with a critique at the very bottom from friend Jon Heese, Tsukuba City Assemblyman, of that controversial article.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Hi Debito:

Saw these two articles and thought I’d pass them along so that you’re up to date with what nonsense the DHS is up to these days:

Homeland Security to scan fingerprints of travelers exiting the US
http://www.itnews.com.au/News/104310,homeland-security-to-scan-fingerprints-of-travellers-exiting-the-us.aspx

Be sure to read the part about the RFID ‘gaijin’ card.

Cancer patient held at airport for missing fingerprint
http://www.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idUSTRE54Q42P20090527?feedType=RSS&feedName=oddlyEnoughNews&rpc=22&sp=true

Welcome to America, Mr. Tan! Sheesh!  -JK

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

Japanese university to track attendance with iPhone

As a college student I frequently didn’t go to class when I overslept, when I didn’t feel like it, or heck, when it was Friday. I’m imagining that Japanese students are the same. That’s why Aoyama Gakuin University‘s new plan to keep its students in line is pretty freakin’ clever—possibly even bordering on devious.

Reuters, this June all of the university’s 550 students, and some staff in one unnamed department, will receive a free iPhone 3G. Instead of teachers taking attendance, students are asked to input their ID number into an iPhone app—and to discourage fraud, this app apparently has GPS location data and monitors which Internet router students use.

Of course, knowing the lengths students will go to in order to avoid attending class, it wouldn’t be too surprising to find they’d discovered a way around the system. If only they devoted that much time to their schoolwork.

Further the university apparently is going to also be providing video podcasts of lectures, something American universities have been doing for years. No word yet on if they’re going to be making AGU’s material available on iTunes U.

ENDS

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

Debito, feel free to use this in the comments section or just for yourself. As you please. -jon heese

Quoting Debito’s controversial article three weeks ago:

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.

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?

God, Debito, you sure do go on. There are plenty of products available to block remote scanning. Googling “rfid protection” got me the link below.

http://www.idstronghold.com/content/products?gclid=CO71o82J-5oCFQIupAodWB4tdg

Personally, I’m rather pissed at the lemming-like acceptance of very dodgy tech in a normally tech-savvy country. There is a company in California which makes a RFID card which has a break in the circuit between the chip and the antenna. Pressing a small bubble in the corner of the card completes the circuit but only when you want the info to be read.

Some Canadian provinces have put their implementation of chips on drivers licenses on hold until the privacy issues are properly dealt with. Why are the provinces even trying to force their citizenry to accept RFID’s in their driving licenses? Why goodness, it’s because the US of F-ing A is forcing them to! So if yer gonna clamp on your tinfoil hat, direct your ire towards the source of the problem, not the Japanese who have been cajoled into this by big brother. And BTW, my new drivers license also has a chip. So it’s not just the poor NJ’s who are being put at risk. This is a much bigger issue than a few foreigners getting screwed over.

RFID’s are small potatoes. As far as tracking, though, you are not gripping your hat tight enough. I would point out that your cell phone is actually much better to track you than a chip. An RFID reader is only really useful within 10 feet. Cell phones know where you are at all times. Anyone with the right access can pinpoint you anywhere in the world.

I would also point out that it’s also a great remote listening device. The NSA may have the ability to turn on your microphone without you even knowing it and broadcast anything being said. And turning your phone off may not be enough. Not even taking out the battery! Phones already have built in batteries which normally only provide juice to preserve your data, like the clock and address book, etc. However, there is no reason to not believe that such internal batteries could just as easily power the microphone for short periods. So grab your foil hat tight and wrap your curls in triple layers for extra protection.

Come again? Pass the law, and then we’ll decide law enforcement procedures? This blind faith is precisely what leads to human rights abuses.

I’m with you on this one. However when it comes to abuses, Japan is still a tamago. Just listen to a few NPR podcasts to get a feel of what it’s like “out there.” 怖いよ!

Still, did you expect the leopard to change its spots? Put immigration policy in the hands of the police and they will do just that police, under a far-removed centralized regime trained to see people as potential criminals.

Though the police have a central control, most cops are of the prefectural variety. Not nearly as ominous as you make out.

Why stop at bugging the gaijin? Why not just sew gold stars on their lapels and be done with it?

This is over the top. Shame on you! Besides, it’s not like us Pilsbury dough boys even need stars to be spotted in a crowd.

Fortunately, a policy this egregious has fomented its own protest, even within a general public that usually cares little about the livelihoods of foreigners. Major newspapers are covering the issue, for a change. The opposition Democratic Party of Japan wants the bill watered down, vowing to block it until after the next general election.

Japan just gets curiouser and curiouser. I am so looking forward to voting in this coming election. But don’t expect the RFID issue to go away. The USA won’t let them.

ENDS

Follow-up: NOVA’s Saruhashi admits wrongdoing in court

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.  Second in a series of follow-ups.  Former Eikaiwa boss Saruhashi finally admits he done wrong.  But neglects to mention how all the unpaid teachers left in the lurch will still be left in the lurch.  This was once the largest employer of NJ in Japan?  Saru mo ki kara ochiru, as they say.  But this is a mighty fall by a money skimmer with a money spinner.  And a shady company from start to finish anyway, setting the business model for other eikaiwas out to screw over both their students and their teachers.  Throw the book at this guy, and make him cough up what he owes to his teachers.  So that others don’t do the same and think it’s “just regular business practice”.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

The Japan Times, Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nova chief admits skimming funds

Staff writer
OSAKA — The former president of Nova Corp. admitted Monday he siphoned off employment benefit funds just before the language school giant went bankrupt in 2007 but pleaded not guilty to embezzlement, claiming he used the funds for employees.
Nozomu Sahashi, 57, who once headed one of Japan’s largest and most popular English conversation school chains, is charged with funneling nearly ¥320 million from employment benefit funds in July 2007 by transferring the money to a bank account belonging to an affiliate, which has not been named.  

“I apologize to the students and employees for all of the trouble I caused, but it was not my intention to do wrong,” Sahashi told the Osaka District Court at the opening of his trial. “I don’t think I can judge whether what I did constitutes embezzlement or not.”

Oh yeah?  Rest of the article at:

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090602a1.html

ENDS

 

 

Follow-up: Sumo Stablemaster gets his for Tokitaizan hazing death

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 bit of follow-up on a case that Debito.org took up in 2007 due to the politics of Sumo (and our perceived need for the Association to divert attention from its own excesses by bashing the foreign rikishi). The stablemaster whose orders resulted in the death of Sumo wrestler Tokitaizan two years got his: Seven years in the clink. Good. But it’s now on appeal, and who knows if it’ll be lessened to the degree where it does not become a deterrent for future leaders to order and carry out the bullying and hazing of its underlings. Even Ozeki Kaio has rallied as a defender of the practices, see below. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

—————————–

The Japan Times, Saturday, May 30, 2009
Former stable master gets six years for young wrestler’s hazing death
NAGOYA (Kyodo) The Nagoya District Court sentenced a former sumo stable master Friday to six years in prison for telling wrestlers at his stable to haze and beat a 17-year-old wrestler who died in the 2007 assault.

News photo
Junichi Yamamoto KYODO PHOTO

Presiding Judge Masaharu Ashizawa said that Junichi Yamamoto, 59, with his “immeasurable power” as stable master, ordered the two days of physical abuse that “grossly disrespected the victim’s human dignity.”

Yamamoto immediately appealed the ruling.

Rest of the article at

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090530a3.html

ENDS

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

The Japan Times, Thursday, June 4, 2009
Ozeki Kaio says harsh treatment is integral
By JIM ARMSTRONG
The Associated Press

Sumo veteran Kaio said Tuesday that harsh treatment of wrestlers in training is an integral part of Japan’s ancient sport and is partially responsible for his own success.

Japan’s ancient sport has been rocked by several recent scandals, including one in which a trainer was sentenced to six years in prison for his role in the fatal beating of a young wrestler during training.

Rest of the article at

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ss20090604a1.html

ENDS

Next screening of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES Sun June 14, Tokyo Univ Komaba Campus

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 case you missed a chance to see documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES, here’s your next chance.  Drop by Tokyo University Komaba Campus this coming Sunday afternoon and take in a screening.  It’s part of a Linguapax Asia Symposium this year.  Details and schedule as follows.  More on the documentary here.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

http://www.linguapax-asia.org/

2009 Linguapax Asia Symposium
Theme: Human Trafficking
June 14, 9:00 – 16:30
University of Tokyo, Komaba Campus, Bldg. 18,
4th Floor, Communication Room No 3

——————————————————————————————————————–
With an estimated 900,000 victims annually, human trafficking is perhaps the major human rights issue of the 21st century. The 2009 Working Session of Linguapax Asia will discuss the connection of language with human trafficking and will explore the following:

• How can language define the socio-political contexts of human trafficking?
• How has human trafficking (both labor and sexual) been described historically (e.g. biblical sources and slave narratives)?
• How have literary works described human trafficking?
• How has human trafficking been portrayed by visual media?
• How can the language of human experience explore human trafficking and the sex industry?

——————————————————————————————————————–
Program
9:00 Registration, Coffee

9:30 Opening of Session, Frances Fister Stoga, Director, and Jelisava Sethna, Vice-Director, Linguapax Asia

Morning Session. Chair: Jelisava Sethna

9:35 Daniel H. Garrett, US Embassy, An Introduction to TIP (Trafficking in Persons): Scale, Types, and Definitions

9:55 Olaudah Equiano: A reading from his narrative*

10:00 Patricia Aliperti & Jason Aliperti, The Role of Education to Prevent the Trafficking in Children for Forced and Bonded Labor in India
Q&A
—————————
10:35 – 11:00 Coffee
————————–

11:00 Harriet Jacobs: A reading from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl*

11:05 Stewart Dorward, Shumei High School, Slavery in the Bible

11:25 Frederick Douglass: A reading from his narrative*

11:30 Bill Gater, Rikkyo University, Proletarian Literature and Takiji Kobayashi’s Kanikosen”: Renewal of Interest in Times of Finacial Crisis

11:50 Charles Cabell, Toyo University, “Troubled Waters” Within the History of Edo/Meiji Prostitution
Q&A

12:20 Peace Boat
—————————-
12:30 – 14:00 Lunch
—————————-
Afternoon Session. Chair: Frances Fister Stoga

14:00 Marek Ignacy Kaminski, Swedish Writers’ Union, The Language of Human Experience: Human Trafficking and Diplomacy

14:30 Uncle Tom’s Cabin – A reading*

14:40 Debito Arudou, Hokkaido Information University, Documentary film: Sour Strawberries: Japan’s Hidden Guest Workers (2008, Tilman König and Daniel Kremers)
Q&A
—————————
15:50 – 16:30 Coffee
—————————
16:30 WAM: The activities of Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace

16:45 Closing of Session

* Readings by Ann Jenkins, Tokyo International Players

ENDS

Sugaya Case: M-J on policing and Japanese jurisprudence

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.  Happy Monday.  Big news last week was Sugaya Toshikazu’s acquittal after nearly two decades in prison (see articles below).  It describes well what’s really awry about Japan’s judicial system (primer on that here), which you had better pay attention to because as NJ you’re more likely to be stopped, prosecuted, and convicted in Japan (primer on that here) by the police forces.  

Here’s what the Mainichi had to say last week about the Sugaya Case, followed by an appraisal of the situation by reader M-J.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Man falsely convicted of child murder: ‘I want my own life back’

Toshikazu Sugaya meets reporters at a hotel in Chiba after his release from prison on Thursday afternoon. (Mainichi)     

Toshikazu Sugaya meets reporters at a hotel in Chiba after his release from prison on Thursday afternoon. (Mainichi Shinbun, June 5, 2009)

CHIBA — A man released after 17 1/2 years in detention after recent DNA tests overturned the evidence that convicted him of murder has told reporters that he wants to take his life back.

“I can never forgive the detectives and prosecutors at that time. I want them to apologize to me, and bring my life back to me,” said Toshikazu Sugaya, 62, at a press conference in Chiba on Thursday evening.

Sugaya was arrested in December 1991 and later sentenced to life imprisonment over the killing of a 4-year-old girl in Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture, in a ruling that became fixed in 2000. However, recent DNA tests found that Sugaya’s DNA did not match that of bodily fluid on the victim’s clothing, leading prosecutors to conclude that there was a high possibility the new tests proved his innocence.

After being released from Chiba Prison on Thursday afternoon, Sugaya met reporters at a hotel in the city of Chiba shortly before 5 p.m. after spending 17 1/2 years behind bars.

“I am overjoyed (at being released). I am innocent and not the perpetrator,” he said.

Toshikazu Sugaya, right, smiles as he holds a bouquet during a press conference at a hotel in Chiba on Thursday afternoon. (Mainichi)     

Toshikazu Sugaya, right, smiles as he holds a bouquet during a press conference at a hotel in Chiba on Thursday afternoon. (Mainichi)

“I was falsely labeled as the perpetrator, and I have endured it for all these years. I want the detectives and prosecutors at that time to apologize to me,” Sugaya said. “Just saying that they were wrong can’t pay for this. I can never forgive them. I want my own life back.”

He also demanded an apology from the judges that convicted him.

Sugaya recalled how intensively he was grilled by investigators when they visited his home on the morning shortly before his arrest. “You killed the girl, didn’t you?” one of the investigators told him, according to Sugaya.

After his arrest, he underwent a grueling interrogation. “The detectives pulled my hair and kicked me, saying, ‘Confess right away and you’ll feel better.'”

“I told them all day long that I didn’t commit the crime but they didn’t accept my claim. Finally, I ended up being forced to make a confession,” Sugaya said.

When the trial began, Sugaya was so scared at the thought of the detectives who interrogated him might be sitting in the court’s gallery that he was unable to plead not guilty, he said.

Asked about his thoughts about the perpetrator, Sugaya said he cannot forgive the person though the 15-year statute of limitations has expired. “I would like to support those who are suffering from false accusations like me,” he added.

During the press conference, he smiled when he received bouquets from his supporters. Sugaya also expressed his gratitude to his defense lawyers for their support.

“I want to sing karaoke and eat sushi,” he said.

He said he was surprised when he was told by a prison official on Thursday that he was going to be released that day: “I had thought that my release would take some more time.”

Sugaya said he wanted to go back to his hometown of Ashikaga to see his brothers and tell the victim that he was not the culprit. After his arrest, Sugaya’s father died from shock, and his mother passed away two years ago.

When he visits his parents’ graves, he wants to tell them: “Please don’t worry any more, as I am not the perpetrator.”

Commenting on the case on Thursday, Prime Minister Taro Aso said at the Prime Minister’s Office: “He served for 17 years over a crime that he was not guilty of. This kind of thing shouldn’t have happened.”

However, Aso was cautious about the move to introduce the recording and filming of interrogation processes.

“I don’t think making (interrogations) visible would immediately lead to reducing false accusations,” he said.

The Tokyo High Court is highly likely to decide to open a retrial after conferring with both prosecutors and defense lawyers on June 12. If the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office does not file an objection, the retrial will then begin at the Utsunomiya District Court.

ENDS

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

Commentary from M-J follows, with his permission:

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

MJ:  I’ve read comments here and there on the blog from people who don’t believe that the police coerce confessions and use intimidation and strong-arm tactics. However, if Sugaya is telling the truth, it would seem the investigators of his case did exactly that. I suppose it could be argued that police tactics may have changed since the early 90’s, but I highly doubt it.

Man falsely convicted of child murder: ‘I want my own life back’
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20090605p2a00m0na008000c.html?inb=rs
http://mainichi.jp/photo/archive/news/2009/06/04/20090605k0000m040096000c.html

New DNA evidence wins release for man after 17 years of life term for murder
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20090604p2a00m0na011000c.html
http://mainichi.jp/photo/archive/news/2009/06/04/20090604k0000e040084000c.html

Aso pleased with improved DNA testing but against recording questioning of suspects
http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/aso-pleased-with-improved-dna-test-accuracy-but-against-recording-questioning-of-suspects

Man jailed for life over 1990 murder of 4-yr-old girl freed after DNA test
http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/man-jailed-for-life-over-1990-murder-of-4-yr-old-girl-to-be-freed-after-dna-test

The most interesting part for me was Aso’s view of filming interrogations and his quote, “I don’t think making (interrogations) visible would immediately lead to reducing false accusations.” Wow! I’ve never read an article regarding Aso’s reasoning leading to reluctance to film interrogations but I can’t logically come to the same conclusion. Japan obviously has no problem using video technology to deter crime (like the 363 cameras the NPA already operates as well as the 375 cameras they plan to install around elementary schools to prevent crimes against children http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200906050288.html ) so why not tape something as important as suspect interrogations?

And a side note on the new lay jury B.S.:

Supreme Court says no promise to keep sex crime victims’ names from
jury candidates

http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/supreme-court-says-no-promise-to-keep-sex-crime-victims-names-from-jury-candidates

It would be humiliating enough for a rape victim in Japan to come forward to press charges and have to deal with the lackadaisical attitude towards rape, but to potentially have your neighbours find out about it may deter more than a few victims i.e. this recent gang rape victim:
http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/gang-rape-incident-a-by-product-of-kyotos-lenient-academic-culture

Yours, M-J

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

ENDS

Sunday Tangent: DPJ submits bill to limit seshuu seijika (hereditary politicians)

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Hi Blog.  Here’s the best reason I can see for voting for (and urging your relatives to vote for) the opposition DPJ yet.  And no, it’s not a NJ issue.  It’s the issue of seshuu seijika (世襲政治家), or politicians with inherited Diet seats.

In my view, inherited seats and political dynasties to this degree are the biggest reason we have so much rot in Japan’s democratic institutions:  gormless politicians who neither understand how the other (poorer) half of Japan lives, nor have any reason to rock the boat and institute any real reforms of the status quo — because they’re a political elite with their future estates sewn up for life.  

For example, either way the next election swings, we’ll have Aso (grandson of former PM Yoshida Shigeru and son of a former Dietmember) or Hatoyama Yukio (grandson of former PM Hatoyama Ichiro and son of a former Dietmember too).  All thoroughbreds.  As have most PMs been in the past couple of decades.

I talk more about this in the context of just how myopic Japan’s policymaking is in a Japan Times article back in December 2007.  It’s one of my best, so have a look.  Excerpt:

Politicians are even further out of touch.  No wonder, considering they are effectively a peerage masquerading as an elected legislature.

After the last election, 185 of 480 Diet members (39%) were second- or third- (or more) generation politicians (seshuu seijika).  Of 244 members of the LDP (the ruling party for practically all the postwar period), 126 (52%) are seshuu seijika.  Likewise eight of the last ten Prime Ministers, and around half the Abe and Fukuda Cabinets.  When the average turnover per election is only around 3%, you have what can only be termed a political class.

http://www.debito.org/japantimes121807.html

Any political party willing to limit the powers of its own politicians is worth a second look.  So now read with the Japan Times has to say about it.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

The Japan Times Tuesday, June 2, 2009
DPJ submits bill to cut back on culture of hereditary politicians
Staff writer
The Democratic Party of Japan submitted a bill to the Lower HouseMonday aimed at cutting back on what many in the public believe is the unfair advantage enjoyed by so-called hereditary politicians.

The revision proposed by the largest opposition party to the Political Funds Control Law would restrict relatives within three degrees of kinship — up to nieces or nephews — of retired or deceased Diet members from inheriting a seat and running in the same electoral district as their predecessor.

One-third of ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers are said to have inherited their father’s or grandfather’s constituencies, as well as their campaign machines and political funding sources.

Rest of the article at…

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090602b1.html

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

The Japan Times, Saturday, May 30, 2009
End of ‘hereditary lawmakers’?

Those who “inherit” campaign machines, political funds and electoral districts from a close relative are dubbed “hereditary lawmakers.” While the practice has been going on for years, it now has become a red-hot issue.

The Democratic Party of Japan has decided to adopt a party rule that will prohibit new candidates from running in future elections if they fit the definition of a hereditary politician. By adopting this rule, the party apparently wants to deflect criticism of the party and former party leader Mr. Ichiro Ozawa following the arrest of his chief aide in connection with alleged political donation irregularities.

The DPJ’s move may have a positive effect on Japanese politics in the long run. According to Kyodo News, about 130 people who plan to run in the 300 single-seat constituencies in the coming Lower House election have parents or grandparents who were Diet members. About 110 of them have been elected from the same constituencies as their parents or grandparents — about 90 of them belong to the Liberal Democratic Party and about 20 are with the DPJ. Among them are Mr. Ozawa and former Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe and Yasuo Fukuda.

Read the rest at:

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20090530a2.html

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

LDP puts off ban on hereditary candidates
The Japan Times: Wednesday, June 3, 2009

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/nn20090603a1.html

Kyodo News

With only a few months remaining until the next Lower House election must be called, the Liberal Democratic Party has postponed a plan to restrict so-called hereditary candidates until after the campaign, party sources said Tuesday.

The postponement comes amid speculation that Prime Minister Taro Aso may dissolve the Lower House in late June or early July and call a snap election in early or late August. The current term of Lower House members expires in September.

The LDP apparently failed to forge a consensus among its members, many of whom are from well-established political families. Such a rule would prevent their kin from inheriting not only their electoral districts but also their support groups and fundraising machines.

Because of their easy wins in elections, such hereditary politicians are often criticized for an inability to grasp voter sentiment or develop policies that connect with the public.

The LDP has judged that excluding hereditary candidates, some of whom have already obtained informal endorsements as the party’s official candidates in the upcoming election, “would harm the LDP’s trustworthiness,” the sources said…

Rest of the article at:

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/nn20090603a1.html

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

ENDS

Japan Today Kuchikomi: Oddly includes NJ stats in article on gang rape at Kyoto U of Education

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Hi Blog.  Here’s something pointed out this morning in a comment on Debito.org by E.P. Lowe, about a ponderous essay on Japan Today.com why students do the things they do, such as gang rapes in Kyoto University of Education.  And then, with no particular need whatsoever, we get stats on how many foreign student are attending.  Not sure why that’s materiel for this article, especially given the tendency by elements in this country to drag foreigners into reports and policy proposals on crime, even when they are unconnected to the crime being discussed.  Unprofessional, Japan Today.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Gang-rape incident a by-product of Kyoto’s lenient academic culture

On the night of Feb 25, some 95 people attended a pre-graduation “sayonara” party for university seniors at a pub in Kyoto City. At some point in the evening, a co-ed, aged 19 at the time, fell into a semiconscious stupor from overindulgence in alcohol, was escorted into an adjacent room and sexually assaulted by six members of Kyoto University of Education’s American football and soccer teams.

On June 1—more than three months after the incident—university president Mitsuyo Terada appeared at a press conference to announce that the institution would slap them with an open-ended suspension for having committed “obscene acts.”

“A university is not an investigating body,” Terada stated somewhat lamely. “The measures we took were intended as corrective in nature.”

A police source informs Nikkan Gendai (June 3) that it was not until March 27 that the woman, described as “unable to hold her liquor,” consulted the police regarding her assault.

“The six men were arrested on June 1,” the source relates. “Four admitted to going all the way; two insisted they only ‘touched’ the victim but did not rape her.

Kyoto University of Education is a public institution with roots going back to 1876, when it was founded as a pedagogical school. Its adjusted standard deviation score (class curve) of 53 would place it in the mid-tier in terms of academic standing. According to its English website http://www.kyokyo-u.ac.jp/ehp/english/index.html, 52 foreign students are enrolled.

“The university is well regarded as an institution that graduates teachers,” remarks Yutaka Doi, a Kyoto-based author. “This city, with a population of 1.47 million, is home to 37 universities, of which seven are public. Kyoto University of Education rates in the top segment. But I think this incident ruins whatever image they had as a ‘clean’ school.”

Four years earlier, Nikkan Gendai recalls, members of the American football club at the elite Kyoto University, a world-famous institution, had been involved in a gang rape.

With 138,509 university and junior college students—approximately one-tenth of the city’s total population—Kyoto is a said have long enjoyed the status as a “student-friendly” town. But for Kyoto University of Education not to expel the six for committing rape is taking indulgence too far.

“The problem is that the perpetrators were students in the Faculty of Education,” opines the abovementioned author Doi. “In Kyoto, these students still engage in chug-a-lug contests at parties. Under the pretext of preserving tradition, they think they’re entitled to special privileges, and that they can get away with anything.

“They’re more overbearing and insolent than students in Tokyo,” Doi adds. “I think it was this kind of smug attitude that led to the rape incident at Kyoto University (in 2005) and this recent one.”

It would seem, the reporter concludes, that the downside of Kyoto’s convivial climate for students is that it fosters a sense of entitlement that all too often leads to their running amok.

ENDS

Tokyo Trip June 2-5 overview, plus report on NJ nurses and caregiver program talks at DIJ

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TOKYO TRIP JUNE 2-5 2009 TRIP OVERVIEW

Hi Blog.  Thought I’d tie up loose ends by writing a bit about the past few days.  

I just got back from Tokyo, where I had a very relaxing time for a change.  Came down to attend an academic conference sponsored by the German Institute for Japanese Studies, on Japan’s demographic crisis, and attended a number of interesting lectures (interesting in the sense for what some didn’t say, as I wrote about in yesterday’s blog entry).  It was also relaxing because I saw a lot of friends (and made new ones), and didn’t have to give any speeches.

Well, I tell a lie.  I gave one shortly after landing in Tokyo on the morning of June 2.  There was a sit-in demonstration against the new proposed IC Chip Gaijin Cards (as there will be every Tuesday morning, contact Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (Ijuuren)’s (http://www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net/) Takaya-san at fmwj AT jca DOT apc DOT org for more information).  Since they said anyone could attend any time between 9:30AM and 12:30 PM, I made it by 12:15.  I was handed a mike.  Anything I’d like to say to Japan’s Dietmembers, whose offices were in front of us with their windows open?

Sure did.  I gave five minutes in slow Japanese (fast doesn’t work on megaphones well) about Japan’s future depending on immigration, how increasing the policing is counterproductive, how Japanese wouldn’t tolerate the same measures being foisted upon them, how cards will only increase the likelihood for Japanese of color such as myself getting racially profiled for not being remotely checkable, and the like.  It was fun and good practice.  And a bit scary as I hadn’t anything prepared (and people had recording devices and even a camera ready).

Never mind.  Speaking is not obligatory, so readers, choose a Tuesday soon to attend.  The Diet has extended it’s deliberation period for this session by nearly two months, and rumor has it that the IC Chip Gaijin Card bill just might pass the Lower House (which means that even if it doesn’t pass the Upper, it will probably become law with the Lower House overruling).  Do what you can about this, people.

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

Afterwards came the German Institute of Japanese Studies Symposium presentations over the course of three days.  I mentioned the gist of most of them yesterday:  Speeches on the demographics of nations are pretty standardized:  Show the audience what you know in the intro with graphs of population movements, aging over time, and bar charts of births and deaths (that population pyramid that looks like a nematode is so burned into memory it appears in my nightmares).  Then some original research, about health care, about dealing with geriatrics, about the options before us (putting more women and elderly to work, raising the pension qualifying and retirement age, a bit about robotics, and even less about immigration or even migration), etc.  

The best presentations were about the depopulation of the Japanese countryside and public policy to try to bring people back, with case studies of three towns and how their methods didn’t seem too effectual (and Mr Takahashi in yesterday’s blog entry worries about overcrowding??).  I confirmed during the Q&A that they still haven’t come up with the idea of the Welcome Wagon, to make newcomers (of any nationality) feel welcome for moving out to the countryside (how to overcome the “gaijin” syndrome’s application to Japanese too, since any outsider has to wait ten years or so before they have a voice in rural communities…)

The other ones were by a Dr Vogt and a Dr Kingma who talked about migration trends in general.  International migration has produced 195 million migrants.  They now number as a proportion of population 1 in 10 in industrialized countries, and 1 in 35 of the world labor force.  There are now 195 million migrants, 50% of them now women.  When it comes to the proposed import of nurses and caregivers from Indonesia and the Philippines, as per bilateral agreements with Japan under “Economic Partnership Agreements”, the goal is, according to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, of 1.5 million NJ caregivers in Japan by 2040.  But the program has gotten off to an inauspicious start.  

Only in its second year, the EPAs have had goals of only 1000 total NJ health care workers imported.  They would be trained in Japanese for six months (at the hiring company’s expense, of around 600,000 yen, then work the remaining four and a half years in the health sector getting their skills and standards up to speed.  The course is harsh, as it is a “tenure system”, as in “up or out”.  If they don’t pass the same caregiver and nurse tests that Japanese natives pass within five years, they lose their visas and get sent back home.  This test, by the way, has a 50% fail rate for native Japanese.  And salaries are not all that great for anyone working the severe hours required in this business sector (which may account for why there is a shortage of nurses and caregivers in Japan in the first place).

The number of applicants reflect the harshness of the program.  In 2008, only 300 NJ applied for the 1000 available slots.  And not all employers stepped up to the plate as planned to hire them.  Dr Vogt showed us a segment from NHK contrasting an Indonesian health care worker (who was not interviewed) with a laid-off Japanese salaryman (who, interviewed, said he was grateful to get the work), with the point that we really don’t need NJ to take the place of Japanese when domestic labor can fill the demand. 

Great.  Yet another bloody mess of a GOJ program.

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

Back to the personal stuff.  The evenings were just as special, meeting old friends such as Isabelle, Hippie Chris and Naoko, Dave G, and making new ones such as Joseph T, Alfie, Dave P, Dave S, Honor, and others in passing who stopped by to share some thoughts on what’s bugging them either about what’s going on or what I’ve written recently.  Particularly pleasant was an event at the Pink Cow in Shibuya (where owner Tracy has the nicest greetings), where Ken Worsley and Garrett DiOrio gave an open-mic live “Seijigiri” political commentary for their organization, Trans-Pacific Radio (http://www.transpacificradio.com).  TPR has some great podcasts on current events, business, and even baseball trends.  Well worth subscribing to, especially since their content is not only informed, their banter is very college-roommate style, where they bounce ideas off each other with verve and humor.  And it was even better live with a good Pink Cow meal.  Look for their podcast this weekend.  I break the ice with a question about Aso’s economic stimulus packages….

This was probably the most relaxing trip to Tokyo ever.  And I’ll be there next Sunday (June 14) for a speech and a movie showing of SOUR STRAWBERRIES at Tokyo University all over again.  Details to follow.  Mark your calendars for now.

Arudou Debito back in Sapporo

ENDS

DIJ Tokyo Symposium 2009: Japan’s Demographic Science overtaken by anti-immigration politics

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Hi Blog.  I’ve been in Tokyo the past couple of days attending a symposium sponsored by the German Institute of Japanese Studies (DIJ), which has, as always, provided much food for thought.

This year’s theme is “Imploding Populations:  Global and Local Challenges of Demographic Change“, and I’ve seen presentations on health care, migration (both internal and external), geriatric treatment in the media, retirement options, and the like.  Good stuff, if a little tangental to what I research.

How it dovetails with Debito.org is how the conclusions shared by all — that Japan needs to do something now about its demography — are studiously being ignored by the Japanese scientific representatives in attendance.

June 2’s series of talks by Japanese researchers was particularly enlightening.  Everyone concluded that Japan is facing a demographic juggernaut, given its aging society with low birthrate, depopulating countryside, and ever more populating cities.  Japan is not only greying, but also losing its economic prowess.

Yet these conclusions suddenly become null once you bring in the topic of immigration.

One speaker, a Mr Takahashi Shigesato, rendered in the program as “deputy director general at the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research” (kokuritsu shakai hoshou – jinkou mondai kenkyuujo fuku shochou — a big cheese), so glibly skipped over the issue that I just had to raise my hand at the end for a question.

Sez I:  “Thanks for your presentation.  You mention the entry of foreigners into Japan as an option only briefly in your presentation.  You also use the term ‘gaikokujin roudouryoku jinkou no katsuyou‘ (active use of the foreign working labor population) without any mention of the word ‘immigration’ (imin).  Why this rhetoric?”

Mr Takahashi gave a noncommittal answer, citing that Japan is (now suddenly) a crowded place, that immigration was not an option for our country, and that inflows must be strictly controlled for fear of overpopulation.  A follow-up with him one-on-one got him claiming there is “no national consensus” (he used the word in English) on the issue.  When I asked him whether or not this was a vicious circle (as in, no discussion of the issue means no possible consensus), he dodged.  When I asked him if this term was a loaded one, one political instead of scientific regarding demography, he begged off replying further.

This dodging also happened with every other Japanese speaker on the issue (one other person in the audience raised the same question with a second speaker, and he gave a begrudging acknowledgement that foreigners might be necessary for Japan’s future — although he himself couldn’t envision it).

This does not give me hope for the future.  There is a definite “deer in the headlights” attitude happening here, where we know that Japan’s population will drop no matter what (Mr Takahashi even extrapolated in his powerpoint that Japanese would go extinct by the year 3000).  Yet extinction is still preferable to letting in people to stay.  This is why I’m having trouble seeing any public policy (from the health-care givers from Indonesia and the Philippines on down) as anything more than a revolving-door labor exploitation effort:  offering the promise of a life in Japan in exchange for intensive labor, revocable after a few years either due to the vicissitudes of world economics, or if you don’t pass some kind of arbitrary and difficult test that even natives would find challenging.

It also does not give me hope for this branch of Japanese science.  As a doctor of demographics (a fiery researcher  to whom I could really relate) stated in a later conversation with me that day:

“Demographics is the study of population changes:  births, deaths, inflows and outflows.  How can the Japanese demographers ignore inflows, even the possibility of them, in their assessments?”

Because once again, science is being riddled with politics.  Immigration is another one of those issues which one must not mention by name.  Especially if you want to be a member of a national government thinktank.

ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Jun 2 2009: “The issue that dares not speak its name”

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Hi Blog.  Here’s my latest.  Enjoy!  Debito in Tokyo

The issue that dares not speak its name

The Japan Times: Tuesday, June 2, 2009

By ARUDOU Debito

A few columns ago (“Toadies, Vultures, and Zombie Debates,” March 3), I discussed how foreign apologists resuscitate dead-end discussions on racial discrimination. Promoting cultural relativity for their own ends, they peddle bigoted and obsolescent ideologies now impossible to justify in their societies of birth.

This would be impossible in Japan too, if racial discrimination was illegal. And it would be nice if people who most need a law passed would unite and demand one.

But that’s not why getting that law is tough. It’s more because the domestic debate on racial discrimination has been dulled and avoided due to rhetorical tricks of the Japanese media and government. After all, if you can’t discuss a problem properly, you can’t fix it.

How it works: In Japanese, “racial discrimination” is jinshu sabetsu. That is the established term used in official translations of international treaties (such as the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, or CERD) that Japan has signed up to.

However, the Japanese media won’t couch the discussion in these terms. This was visible during the nationwide debate generated by the Otaru onsen case (1999-2005), where public bathhouses refused entry to customers because they didn’t “look Japanese.” If you read the oodles of non-tabloid articles on this case (archived at www.debito.org/nihongotimeline.html ), you’ll see the debate was conducted in milder, misleading language.

For example, it was rendered in terms of gaikokujin sabetsu (discrimination against foreigners). But that’s not the same thing. The people being discriminated against were not all foreign (ahem).

Or else it was depicted as gaiken sabetsu (discrimination by physical appearance). But that’s not “race,” either. Nor is “physical appearance” specifically covered by the CERD.

This term particularly derails the debate. It actually generates sympathy for people afraid of how others look.

Think about it. If, say, some old fart is standoffish towards people who are tall, big, dark, scary-looking, foreign-looking, etc., oh well, shikata ga nai — it can’t be helped. We Japanese are shy, remember.

Fortunately, there are limits: “Looks,” sure, but few Japanese would ever admit to disliking people specifically by race, even though one is a factor of the other.

That’s because racial discrimination, according to the Japanese education system, happens in other countries — like America under segregation or South Africa under apartheid. Not in Japan.

Then things get really wet: Remember, We Japanese admire certain types of foreigners, so we’re obviously not prejudiced. And We Japanese have been discriminated against in the past for our race, like, for instance, those American World War II internment camps. And how about the time we got ripped off for being naive, trusting Japanese last time we ventured overseas? So it works both ways, y’see?

Welcome to the Never-Never Land of Self-Justification and Victimization. If We Japanese are doing something discriminatory, so what? Everybody else is doing it. So we’ll keep on keeping on, thank you very much. There the debate dies a death of a thousand relativities.

Back to the media, which stifles more intelligent debate through its rhetoric of avoidance. They rattle on about minshuteki sabetsu (discrimination by ethnicity), even though it wasn’t until last year that Japan even admitted it had any minorities.

Or else it’s not portrayed as a form of discrimination at all: It’s a matter of cultural misunderstandings, language barriers, microwaves and sun spots, whatever — anything but calling a spade a spade. That’s why only one article out of the 100 or so on the Otaru onsen case actually deemed it — flat out, without quoting some radical-sounding activist — jinshu sabetsu. Not a misprint. One. And that was a Hokkaido Shimbun editorial at the very end of the case.

Pity it only took five years of debate for them to get it, and more pity that the media has since mostly gone back to claiming discrimination by nationality, looks, ethnicity, culture etc. all over again.

The Japanese government’s fingerprints are also all over this rhetorical legerdemain. When the U.N. CERD Committee first accused Japan of not doing enough to eliminate racial discrimination back in 2000 ( www.debito.org/japanvsun.html ), double-talk was in fine form.

First, the government argued back that Japan has no ethnic minorities, and therefore anyone who was a citizen was a member of the Japanese race. Thus citizens were not covered by the CERD because any discrimination against them couldn’t be by race.

Then they admitted that foreigners in Japan might indeed be victims of discrimination. But that’s too bad. They’re foreigners. They don’t have the same rights as citizens, such as the right to vote or run for office. Even the CERD acknowledges that. Oh well. If foreigners want the same rights, they should naturalize.

Never mind those half-million or so former foreigners who have naturalized, such as this writer, who don’t all fall into this neat dichotomy. Somehow they don’t count.

Essentially, the government is arguing that the CERD covers nobody in Japan.

That’s why domestic debate on racial discrimination is so carefully worded. If somebody gets denied something ostensibly because they’re a foreigner, or foreign-looking, it’s not a matter of race. It might be discrimination by nationality, or by face, or by culture, or not even discrimination at all.

Just don’t dare call it jinshu sabetsu, the scourge that dares not speak its name. If we pretend it doesn’t exist, you can’t legislate against it.

Debito Arudou is coauthor of the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants.” Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments tocommunity@japantimes.co.jp

The Japan Times: Tuesday, June 2, 2009
ENDS

Asahi on future of Japanese pension plans: oldies below poverty line

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Hi Blog.  Here is the proposed future for those of us paying into our nation’s pension plan.  Read and weep.  Considering Japan’s unofficial poverty line is about 200,000 yen a month, people who retire are forecast to become just that:  impoverished.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

=====================================
New pension data, same grim outlook
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN 2009/5/26, courtesy of TC

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200905260070.html

The average household that starts receiving public pension benefits this fiscal year will see the payment level drop to about 40 percent of average working household incomes in 20 years, the welfare ministry said.

For households consisting of a man living alone or a working couple, the amount of benefits from the kosei-nenkin pension program for company employees is already below 50 percent of the average income when they first receive payments, the ministry’s estimates show.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare’s model household comprises a company employee on an average income who has subscribed to the pension program for 40 years, and a wife of the same age who has been a homemaker since marriage.

In February, the ministry concluded that a model household would be able to secure pension benefits of at least 50.1 percent of the average income of working households in the first year of payments.

The ministry’s latest estimates include changes in annual benefits over 20 years.

If the average household begins receiving benefits in fiscal 2009 when the couple reach the age of 65, the payments will be 223,000 yen a month, or 62.3 percent of the average income of working households.

When the couple become 85 years old, the pension amount will be 199,000 yen in terms of current values, or 43.2 percent of the average working household income.

The ministry’s estimates in 2004 showed that a model household would start receiving pension benefits equivalent to 57.5 percent of the average income.

When the couple reach 85 years old, the ratio would be 41.8 percent, according to the 2004 estimates.

Therefore, the latest estimates represent a nearly 5-percentage-point rise in the first-year benefits of the model household.

However, the rise was mainly led by the current decline in household income.

After households begin to receive their benefits, the ratio changes each year depending on price movements.

The ministry’s latest estimates are based on the assumption that consumer prices will rise by 1 percent annually while average household income will increase by 2.5 percent.

The expected decline in the ratio of benefits over the years is also a result of 2004 legal revisions intended to curb pension benefits to prevent the rapidly aging society from draining welfare coffers.

A household of a couple who both worked full time receives first-time pension benefits of 279,000 yen in fiscal 2009, or 48.3 percent of the average income of working couples, according to the latest estimates.

For a household of a man who has remained single since he joined the pension program, the corresponding figures will be 157,000 yen, or 43.9 percent.(IHT/Asahi: May 26,2009)

ENDS

Get Japan Times tomorrow (Tues), and I’m in Tokyo Tues-Friday

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Hi Blog.  Just to let you know, two things:

1) Please keep an eye out tomorrow, Tuesday, June 2 (Wednesday in the ruralities) for my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column.

Topic: How the GOJ and media avoid the very term “racial discrimination” in public debates for political reasons.  Enjoy!

2) I’ll also be in Tokyo from Tuesday morning until Wednesday noon attending the German Institute for Japanese Studies three-day Tokyo symposium on Japan’s imploding population and demographic challenges. Not speaking or anything, however, so this will be a more relaxed trip.  More at
http://www.dijtokyo.org/?page=event_detail.php&p_id=565
Say hello if we bump into each other!  And if you’d like a beer Weds or Thurs evening, please let me know.  Sorry for short notice.

Not sure if this will make my blog updates slower in the interim, but I’ll try to keep up.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo