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  • Archive for June, 2009

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 30th June 2009

    Debito.org is receiving reports that, following the Sumo scandals where wrestlers fingered Roppongi foreigners for selling them pot, that the police are cracking down on NJ on sight. Not only was a Roppongi Police raid conducted last Friday, NJ are apparently being stopped upon leaving bars and demanded a urine test. Is this sort of thing happening to other readers of Debito.org? UPDATE JULY 1: Asabu Police confirmed that they are bringing people in for urine tests. But they refused to elaborate further.

    Posted in Human Rights, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Practical advice, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 62 Comments »

    Thoughts on DPJ rally Sat Jun 27, 2009, Sapporo

    Posted by arudou debito on 29th June 2009

    What follows is a synopsis of a political rally for the opposition party, DPJ, which featured possible next PM Hatoyama Yukio as a speaker. Taking place in DPJ stronghold Hokkaido (which Hatoyama represents), I give a quick overview (with analysis, even pictures) of the speaking styles of Hatoyama, croaking Suzuki Muneo, Hokkaido political superman Yokomichi, and the far-Right Happiness Realization Party, who gave the best speeches of the day as they took DPJ left-of-centrism into Re-Arm Against North Korean Missiles territory.

    Opening paragraph: 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:

    Posted in Japanese Politics, Tangents | 3 Comments »

    Admin note: Debito.org Twitter handle: arudoudebito

    Posted by arudou debito on 28th June 2009

    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 Rick, 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.

    Posted in debito.org blog and website biz | 6 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 28th June 2009

    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).

    Posted in Human Rights, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 7 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 27, 2009

    Posted by arudou debito on 27th June 2009

    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

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 27th June 2009

    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 reporter 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:

    Posted in Human Rights, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 7 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 27th June 2009

    Assemble on July 2 (Thu), 12:00 – 13:00
    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.

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

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 26th June 2009

    I talked yesterday 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-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.”

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media | 4 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 25th June 2009

    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.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Media, Tangents | 53 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 24th June 2009

    Bernama: 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.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 7 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 23rd June 2009

    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.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Human Rights, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 1 Comment »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 22nd June 2009

    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!

    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?

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, 日本語 | 12 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 21st June 2009

    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…

    Posted in Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Politics, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 23 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 20th June 2009

    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 areas—employment, 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.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Politics | No Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 19th June 2009

    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.

    Posted in Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics | 17 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 19th June 2009

    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.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media | 4 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 18th June 2009

    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.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | No Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 18th June 2009

    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?

    Posted in Discussions, Japanese Government, Practical advice | 39 Comments »

    Sapporo Source DEBITO Column 1 June 2009 on Hokkaido Winters

    Posted by arudou debito on 17th June 2009

    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.

    Cover page and scan of my column follows…

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Exclusionism, Good News, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit | 3 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 16th June 2009

    Anonymous on Scott Tucker, murdered in a bar by a Tokyo DJ who got a suspended sentence:

    “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.”

    Posted in Discussions, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 31 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 15th June 2009

    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.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Japanese Government, 日本語 | No Comments »

    Japanpodshow: Tokyo Podcast on Arudou Debito by Joseph Tame

    Posted by arudou debito on 15th June 2009

    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/

    Posted in Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Podcasts, Speech materials | 2 Comments »

    Back from lovely trip to Tokyo: Quick update for tonight

    Posted by arudou debito on 15th June 2009

    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 […]

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    Tangent: Japan Times on crackdowns on students at Hosei University

    Posted by arudou debito on 13th June 2009

    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.

    Student Reiko Goto says she was assaulted during her six-month detention by police after being charged under the prewar Law Concerning Punishment of Physical Violence. DAVID MCNEILL PHOTO
    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…

    Posted in Education, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Tangents | 9 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 11, 2009

    Posted by arudou debito on 12th June 2009

    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)

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 11th June 2009

    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.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Discussions, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, SITYS | 21 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 10th June 2009

    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”.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Education, Labor issues | 7 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 9th June 2009

    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.

    Posted in Good News, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Sport, Tangents | 1 Comment »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 9th June 2009

    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.

    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?…

    14:40 Debito Arudou, Hokkaido Information University, Documentary film: Sour Strawberries: Japan’s Hidden Guest Workers (2008, Tilman König and Daniel Kremers)

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Speech materials | 1 Comment »

    Sugaya Case: M-J on policing and Japanese jurisprudence

    Posted by arudou debito on 7th June 2009

    Big news last week was Sugaya Toshikazu’s 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…

    Posted in Human Rights, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 11 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 7th June 2009

    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.

    Posted in Good News, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Politics, Tangents | 7 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 6th June 2009

    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 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.

    Posted in Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 10 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 5th June 2009

    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)…

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Social Science, Education, Human Rights, Labor issues | 4 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 4th June 2009

    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…

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Discussions, Education, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics | 14 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 3rd June 2009

    Japan Times JBC column opening: 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…

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit | 35 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 2nd June 2009

    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.

    Posted in Japanese Government, Labor issues, Pension System | 17 Comments »

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

    Posted by arudou debito on 1st June 2009

    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.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Immigration & Assimilation, Speech materials | No Comments »