Archive for August, 2009
Posted by debito on 31st August 2009
THE RAW NUMBERS: According to two major newspapers (Asahi and Mainichi, the others had slightly different numbers when they went to press), opposition parties got a total of 322 seats including Proportional Representation (308 for elected seats), gaining 195. Incumbent ruling parties got 140 (119 elected seats), losing 192. This is a landslide for the opposition no matter how you slice it, and an absolute majority of the 480 total seats in the Lower House. In terms of PR (180 seats total), The LDP dropped from 77 to 55, while the DPJ rose from 61 to 86. It was a rout.
Posted in Good News, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Tangents | 12 Comments »
Posted by debito on 31st August 2009
Just a quick word from on the road on a remote computer:
I thought the DPJ were going to win big. But not this big. Watching kingpin after kingpin fall in the LDP (not sure if they’ll be resurrected by the PR vote; results are not all in yet).
To say the least, I’m very cheered by the result. About bloody time. More than five decades of the same party is far too long for any electoral system.
Posted in Good News, Japanese Politics | 21 Comments »
Posted by debito on 30th August 2009
As I promised Sapporo’s monthly international magazine SAPPORO SOURCE, I would be creating columns off the beaten track and not human-rights related. Take in September’s latest indulgence: “Album” vs. “Tracks” culture, and how that has affected the way we listen to music. We’ve lost the “album” as a concept, trading it in for a cherry-picked “tracks” media that has a very different way for us to “get into” music. I offer a shopping list for the best “albums” for those who want to rediscover this lost art.
Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Practical advice, Tangents | 16 Comments »
Posted by debito on 29th August 2009
Kanbayashi: The political climate has changed since former Prime Minister Abe and his successor, Yasuo Fukuda (whose father also served as premier) abruptly stepped down under pressure. And their woes, analysts say, have contributed to growing skepticism about both the qualifications of hereditary politicians and the merits of giving certain families such a strong grip on power.
“This could mark the beginning of a permanent shift, and it is a shift that could ultimately help shake up Japanese politics,” says Akikazu Hashimoto, a political science professor at J. F. Oberlin University in Tokyo. “This is probably the first time we’ve seen the pendulum swing against them.”…
Tokura is running for office in one of Japan’s most conservative regions, a stronghold of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the hometown of Mr. Abe and Yoshimasa Hayashi, a newly appointed minister of economic and fiscal policy and a fourth-generation lawmaker.
But even here, Tamotsu Tomoda, who is close to Abe, was defeated in the March race for Shimonoseki mayor, while, last month, in the nearby city of Ube, Kimiko Kubota, who rose from a citizen group leader, won the mayoral poll and will become the first woman mayor in Yamaguchi Prefecture.
Posted in History, Japanese Politics, Tangents | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 28th August 2009
TIME Magazine: But elsewhere, Mr. James, dressed in his buttoned-up red polo shirt, tie and khakis, is seen as playing to Japan’s xenophobic tendencies. Annoyed expats have described the character as “white, dorky” and speaking “mangled Japanese.” The chair of The Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens’ Association of Japan, Arudo Debito — a naturalized Japanese citizen born David Aldwinckle — has officially protested the Mr. James campaign with a letter to McDonald’s Corporation headquarters in Illinois. Soon after the ads started to roll out, somebody set up an “I hate Mr. James” Facebook group, which now has 67 members.
Debito considers the characterization of “a clumsy sycophantic ‘nerd’” an embarrassment. “If this were in a different country, and we had a Japanese in a [summer kimono] and [wooden sandals] saying ‘Me like Mcflied lice, please eato,’ we’d have the same sort of anti-defamation league speaking out and saying this is disparaging to Asians or Japanese,” says Debito. He says the campaign’s portrayal of non-Japanese as “unquestioningly supportive and culturally ignorant” will only make life more difficult for foreigners in Japan.
Posted in Articles & Publications, Discussions, Food, Good News, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 14 Comments »
Posted by debito on 27th August 2009
Just to let you know, I’m leaving the keyboard starting August 28, heading south for a couple of weeks. I’ll be touring documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES between Okayama, Yokohama, and Tokyo and giving speeches. So I probably won’t be able to update the blog and approve comments more than once a day for the next couple of weeks. FYI.
SCHEDULE OF SCREENINGS OF SOUR STRAWBERRIES:
OKAYAMA: Sunday August 30, 2009, 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM, Okayama International Center (CONFIRMED) SPECIAL GUEST: DIRECTOR DANIEL KREMERS
TOKYO SHIBUYA: Thursday September 10, 2009, evening, The Pink Cow restaurant, for Amnesty International AITEN (CONFIRMED) SPECIAL GUEST: DIRECTOR DANIEL KREMERS
TOKYO AKIHABARA: Friday September 11, 2009, 7PM, Second Harvest Japan (CONFIRMED) SPECIAL GUEST: DIRECTOR DANIEL KREMERS
YOKOHAMA: Saturday September 12, 2009, 3-6PM for group “Drinking Liberally” at The Hub bar in Hiyoshi, Yokohama (CONFIRMED): Directions: Hiyoshi is on the Tokyu Toyoko line about 25 minutes out of Shibuya. Besides from Shibuya, Hiyoshi can also be reached from/connected to from Ebisu (Hibiya line), Meguro (Meguro line – continuation of the Namboku and Mita subway lines terminates at Hiyoshi) and Oimachi (Oimachi line connecting at Oookurayama to the Meguro line). The Hub is a 2 minute walk from the Hiyoshi station. Map here. Facebook entry here. SPECIAL GUEST: DIRECTOR DANIEL KREMERS
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Media, Speech materials | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 27th August 2009
After a very nasty discussion on Debito.org last month, regarding the validity of a story by Brian Hedge that a 74-year-old tourist was incarcerated for more than a week just for holding a pocket knife, the Japan Times has come through (The only media to bother — subscribe to the paper, everyone! Who else you gonna call?) and confirmed that it actually did happen. The Japan Times Community Page also ran a series of responses on Tuesday from readers, many outraged, by this treatment. Here they are:
It sure would be nice for the anonymous nasties who raked people over the coals to capitulate now. How ’bout it?
Posted in Discussions, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment, SITYS | 28 Comments »
Posted by debito on 26th August 2009
NPO FRANCA received this morning a response from McDonald’s Japan Director of Corporate Relations, a Mr Kawaminami Junichi, regarding our protest letters in English and Japanese on the “Mr James” sales campaign.
I appreciate him taking time to respond, but he toes the line he narrated to various world media stressing the lack of intention to offend, again without discussing any of the possible ill-effects to NJ residents from stereotyping.
He also only answered in English, wish is a bit of a disappointment. I presume he doesn’t want the discussion to expand to the Japanese debate arenas. Letter follows below.
Meanwhile, I have devoted my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column to the “Mr James” phenomenon and what it might mean, with a historical context. Out Tuesday, September 1, get a copy!
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Discussions | 31 Comments »
Posted by debito on 26th August 2009
I think, as do most people, that we will have a change of government, with the DPJ taking power in September. Will it change anything, however?
It just might. The DPJ Manifesto (They were the party that started this earlier this decade. How revolutionary! Making your policies clear to the voter!) is already out and it’s saying some pretty ambitious things. Paying families sizable amounts to support their children. Making schools up to junior high free. Making our toll highways free. Breaking the stranglehold the bureaucrats have over our policymaking levers. And quite a bit more that is ambitious if not a bit vague. (But that’s quite normal.) According to my backdoor channels, there’s even the promise of the DPJ facing up to the task of dealing with Japan’s decreasing population by broaching that taboo topic (until after the election) — loosening up the borders to let more immigration happen! That would mean EVERYTHING changes!
Posted in Articles & Publications, Discussions, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Politics | 11 Comments »
Posted by debito on 25th August 2009
I watched the LDP and the DPJ’s respective political advertisements on NHK yesterday, and had quite a surprise:
Well, two actually. First was I thought the LDP’s was better (the DPJ’s, despite the catchy song, was too corny). But never mind. I don’t think it’s going to make a huge difference, what with recent polls forecasting DPJ landslide victories.
The bigger surprise was the DPJ’s slogan in the TV spot. Their campaign slogan has been “kokumin no seikatsu ga daiichi” (the citizens’ livelihoods are the most important thing). It says as such on their Manifesto and their website.
However, in the TV spot (and on the back of the Manifesto) it was “ANATA no seikatsu ga daiichi” (your livelihoods are the most important thing).
For reasons I can’t elaborate upon at this juncture, I have been giving a lot of feedback and input to DPJ Hokkaido in recent months. One of my recommendations has been to remove the “kokumin” in favor of “shimin” or “juumin”, so that NJ are not excluded. But “anata” will do just as well. I’d like to believe my suggestions some impact.
Posted in Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Politics | 6 Comments »
Posted by debito on 24th August 2009
Japan Times: All signs seem to indicate Prime Minister Taro Aso and his Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling coalition face a tough battle in trying to hold onto their Lower House majority in the Aug. 30 election.
If the Democratic Party of Japan-led opposition camp wins a majority in the Lower House, it will be able to select the prime minister, most likely the current DPJ president, Yukio Hatoyama, ending more than five decades of almost uninterrupted LDP rule.
Following are questions and answers regarding how the Lower House election works:
Posted in Japanese Politics | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 23rd August 2009
McDonald’s Japan seems to be tweaking the “Mr James” campaign in a more positive direction: 1) Losing the katakana tray inserts, 2) Giving him a more endearing backstory, 3) Having him speak in hiragana too, not just katakana, 4) Not featuring him in more international neighborhoods of Japan. Readers, confirm, deny, or expand?
These are all evidence that McDonald’s Japan is taking complaints about this campaign seriously. But I still say the campaign must be suspended entirely. They may be trying to make him a character with more redeeming characteristics. But he’s still, in my book, a gaijin — an epithet made flesh; that’s how he was designed, and now McDonald’s Japan, for better or worse, is saddled with him.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Food, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 34 Comments »
Posted by debito on 23rd August 2009
Japan Times: “(Foreigners’) right to vote is a big issue and we are not fully in agreement with those who are calling for granting suffrage (to foreigners) immediately,” Aso said, refusing to elaborate.
But Hatoyama said it is now time to consider granting foreigners voting rights at the local level.
“There are pros and cons and the DPJ is in the process of unifying its opinion right now,” Hatoyama said. “But considering the future, I think that the time has come to take a positive step.”
Whether to grant foreigners suffrage has become a contentious issue in the political world. While the conservative ranks of the LDP are strongly opposed, its coalition partner New Komeito is actively promoting this right.
Posted in Exclusionism, Human Rights, Japanese Politics | 6 Comments »
Posted by debito on 22nd August 2009
Let’s get back to other important matters: The general election coming up on August 30. Got a good primer here on how campaigns are run in Japan, courtesy of the Japan Times. Excerpt:
What can candidates do as far as campaigning?
Soapbox speeches with loudspeakers are permitted between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. if the candidate displays a special flag distributed by the Election Administration Commission.
Even without microphones, candidates can still give speeches. They are often found outside train stations or other areas with high pedestrian traffic. Candidates engage in “tsuji-dachi” (standing on street corners), picking strategic locations to hail passersby early in the morning or early evening during peak commute times…
Posted in Cultural Issue, Japanese Politics, Media | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 21st August 2009
“McDonald’s has obviously put a lot of money into this campaign as there are full-length posters and banners in every restaurant that I see as well as by the side of roads here, and the company is apparently not concerned that they are offending people and hope we continue to buy their burgers,” Franca chairman Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese born in the United States, said.
“This is untenable in a Japan with ethnic minority residents,” he said. “They are being ill-portrayed by this stereotype and their lives may be affected by this careless campaign by one of the world’s most influential multinational companies.”
McDonald’s Japan confirmed that it had received complaints about the campaign and said it was examining the matter. Similar complaints to its US headquarters have been referred back to the Japanese firm.
“What really angers me is that no one involved in the process here thought that anyone would take offence to see a caricature such as this advertising their company,” Mr Arudou said. “Can you imagine the outrage there would be in the US or any other country if a restaurant chain used an image of a Japanese man with big, round glasses, buck teeth, geta sandals and a kimono telling people to `buy flied lice, is velly good! “That’s the sort of thing that gets embassies and global human rights’ groups angry and involved,” he said.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Food, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media | 17 Comments »
Posted by debito on 20th August 2009
Here is the Japanese translation for FRANCA letter protesting the “Mr James” burger campaign currently underway at McDonald’s Japan. You can see the original English here.
Please feel free to copy and send this letter to McDonald’s yourself via their feedback inlets on their website. Better yet, take it to your local McDonald’s doing this campaign, ask for the manager, and hand them this letter to express your disgruntlement. You can download the Word version of it here:
Please also consider not buying food at McDonald’s for the duration of this (three-month) campaign. Maybe tell the manager that when you submit your letter.
Talked to the media yesterday. An article on this issue should be appearing in the South China Morning Post tomorrow (Friday). It’s already appeared on Consumerist.com…
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, 日本語 | 19 Comments »
Posted by debito on 19th August 2009
Japan Times: Aso also expressed his disapproval of DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama’s willingness to give local-level suffrage to foreign nationals with permanent residency.
“Hatoyama says that Japan is not a country just for Japanese, but if that is the case, then whose country is it for?” Aso asked. “Honestly speaking, this isn’t something that will be resolved by just granting (foreigners) suffrage and it is likely that there will be many more difficult problems.”
While many lawmakers in the DPJ and New Komeito are for granting foreigners the right to vote in local elections, many conservative LDP members have expressed strong reluctance.
The prime minister added that the number of descendants of Koreans who lived in Japan before the war and were forced to take Japanese nationality at that time is declining and that “we must consider various things like whether (suffrage for foreigners) is even necessary.”
Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Politics, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 14 Comments »
Posted by debito on 16th August 2009
Just to let you know, I’ll be cycling Hokkaido for the next couple of days. I doubt I’ll be near an internet cafe for awhile, so please be patient if your comments take some time to be approved. Thanks for reading and writing to Debito.org.
Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 16th August 2009
To McDonald’s USA corporate headquarters:
To Whom It May Concern:
We write to you on behalf of FRANCA, a human rights group concerned with the rights of non-Japanese residents in Japan. Our goals are: 1) To eliminate negative public images and stereotypes of non-Japanese and multi-cultural Japanese; 2) To eliminate discrimination by race, nationality, ethnicity, and national origin; 3) To highlight the benefits of immigration and a multi-cultural society. FRANCA works to achieve these goals through sustainable and effective lobbying, networking and public relations campaigns aimed at educating the public. More about us at www.francajapan.org.
We wish to bring to your attention a sales campaign launched this month by McDonald’s Japan that we find extremely problematic.
The “Mr. James” character, representing the “Nippon All Stars” hamburger campaign, features a spectacled Caucasian narrating his love for Japan and Japan’s version of McDonald’s’ hamburgers. Our association finds the following things problematic:
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, FRANCA, Human Rights, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 53 Comments »
Posted by debito on 15th August 2009
Here’s one way to tip any undesirable downward trend in statistics: change the paradigms. In this case, the Internal Ministry considers “Japanese population” not only as births and deaths, but also inflows. That is, inflows of citizens only. Once again, inflows (or current residency) of foreigners are not considered part of the “population”, even though they pay taxes and contribute to Japanese society like any other living breathing soul.
Know of any other G8 country which refuses to include its foreign population as part of its total population? The fact is, given that we get plenty more than 45,914 foreigners per year coming in, the main thing keeping Japan’s population in the black is immigration. But again, that’s a taboo topic. We can’t act as if Japan actually needs foreigners, after all.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 20 Comments »
Posted by debito on 14th August 2009
Here’s a campaign by one of the world’s largest multinational corporations, McDonald’s, promoting stereotypes in a way quite untoward in this day and age (and no doubt would raise hackles with anti-defamation leagues if McD’s tried it in, say, its country of origin).
The new NIPPON ALL STARS campaign (which seems to have kicked off a few days ago, on August 10, with its Tamago Double Mac), features a bespectacled, somewhat nerdy, gaijin speaking in broken katakana (i.e. accented) Japanese. “Mr James” is his name (following the convention of forcing all Western foreigners to be called by their first names, as opposed to last name plus -san, proper etiquette). And boy is he happy with Japan, with life, with the taste of Japanese-variety burgers at McDonalds. Hell, they’re so good that even this nerdy-looking gaijin (full-body cardboard cutouts available at every McD’s) approves of them through his poor accented broken Japanese.
You even get a “James Tamaran (“it’s so good I can’t stand it!”) Card” and a chance to win from a million dollar pool if you succumb to his sales pitch. It’s more than a little creepy.
Here are some scans, taken of materials photographed and collected at McDonald’s Yodobashi Camera Sapporo August 13, 2009 (click on image to expand in browser):
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 104 Comments »
Posted by debito on 13th August 2009
INTERVIEW WITH THE BERLIN INSTITUTE FOR POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT:
Q: But if Japan decides it does not want or need immigrants – what is wrong with that?
ARUDOU: Because it doesn’t reflect reality. We have had a UN report that stated, at least one Prime Minister who acknowledged, and several important domestic organizations who admitted, that Japan needs immigration. Now. Our society is aging and our tax base is decreasing. We are on the cusp of a demographic nightmare, a future with a society that cannot pay or take care of itself. Either way, people will come here, even if it means they find an enfeebled or empty island to live in. Might as well do it now while we have more energy and choices.
The people who represent us or make decisions for us are not necessarily that receptive to understand that people who appear to be different are not a threat. We cannot expect them to lead us to a world they cannot envision. It’s our country, too…
Posted in Articles & Publications, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Speech materials | 8 Comments »
Posted by debito on 12th August 2009
Just to let you know, with it being summertime I’m getting outside as much and as long as possible. Meaning the blog will be updated less often (as in, not necessarily daily) and comments may take longer to approve.
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
Posted by debito on 12th August 2009
Thoughtful essay in The Economist (London) on the LDP’s primacy and corrupting effects on Japan, and why it deserves to fall from power. Excerpt:
“Thus developed Japan’s characteristic mix of anti-communist — even anti-civic –politics with state-directed development and policy set by bureaucrats. Yoshida founded the Ministry for International Trade and Industry, MITI, whose bureaucrats were famously powerful. Trust-busting efforts were quickly wound down after the second world war. Oligopolies—in the form of the former zaibatsu conglomerates—were supported, even if they had been implicated in Japanese aggression. A man accused of war crimes became a notable post-war prime minister and Yakuza gang bosses consorted with top politicians and helped put down left-wing protests. The political and bureaucratic system was solidly made and has lasted, like so many things in Japan. But its origins, and its effects on Japan, were ultimately rotten.”
Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Japanese Politics | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 11th August 2009
It’s all over the news these days, probably receiving more press than even when Michael Jackson died. Celebrity Sakai Noriko (and her husband)’s arrest for drug use. The word “junkie” has certainly entered the lexicon.
The latest: Despite Noriko’s yakuza connections, her husband is saying foreigners supplied their drug habits.
Turning the keyboard to some concerned NJ residents of Japan, who poignantly foresee not only hypocrisy, but a reinforced spate of NJ crackdowns for drugs…
Posted in Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 31 Comments »
Posted by debito on 10th August 2009
Here are some interesting stats: Proportions of foreigners within jail populations. Saudi Arabia has by far the highest. But Japan is well up there as well, and as a comparative proportion of the total domestic population significantly higher.
What we need now is a chart weighting the percentage of foreigners within a population compared to this proportion of foreigners within the prison population, to see the disparity in conviction rates. (I’ve done some preliminary searches: I can only seem to find comparative charts going up to 1997 for some reason; woefully out of date, so I’ve done a quick country-by-country search for a few select countries).
Speaking for Japan only, that visibly seven percent or so looks many multiples of the 1.7% of the NJ population (about 4x), meaning that roughly speaking you are four more times likely to be incarcerated if you are foreign than if you are Japanese. And with all the racial profiling and targeting that goes on by the Japanese police forces, this is a sad if not scary statistic.
Posted in Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 16 Comments »
Posted by debito on 8th August 2009
Hi Blog. Just to let you know: Due to server maintenance, access to Debito.org may be spotty for a day or two. Please don’t comment for 24 hours starting 6PM JST today, Sat Aug 8, or until I let you know that maintenance is done. Otherwise, your comments might get lost in the shuffle. Thanks [...]
Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 8th August 2009
Tangent: Being A Broad founder Caroline Pover has recently started managing the business of American artist David Stanley Hewett. Both David and Caroline support a lot of charities and individuals in the international community in Japan, and Caroline has been very supportive of my books, so I’d like to support them in return by spreading the word:
David Stanley Hewett is an American artist who has been living in Japan since 1992. He comes from a family of artists and began painting as a small child, alongside his mother in her studio… Hewett creates Japanese-influenced abstract art, incorporating references to Japanese history, the Shinto religion, martial arts, and the Bushido code…
Posted in Cultural Issue, Tangents | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 7th August 2009
Yomiuri describes the political business as usual regarding another facet of human rights in Japan:
A legislator-sponsored bill calling for a revision of the Civil Code in response to CEDAW recommendations has been repeatedly presented to the Diet. But the bill that would delete provisions that discriminate against women has been scrapped every time without in-depth deliberation.
Japan’s failure to ratify the Optional Protocol on the convention on the elimination of discrimination against women also is being questioned by the international community.
The protocol stipulates that a mechanism should be put in place that would allow individual women who have exhausted legal and other avenues available within Japan to report directly to CEDAW to ask them to inquire into alleged human rights violations against them.
As Japan has been repeatedly urged to ratify the protocol, government ministries and agencies concerned have been studying the wisdom of doing so.
However, with many politicians expressing wariness about signing a protocol they say might come into conflict with the principle of independence of the nation’s judiciary, no earnest discussions have yet to take place in the political arena.
Posted in Human Rights, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, United Nations | 15 Comments »
Posted by debito on 6th August 2009
BBC: A furniture shop in a south coast town [of the UK] has banned foreign students who it says take their fast food into the store to eat on the sofas and coffee tables.
Chris Moffet, manager of Perfect Homes in Eastbourne, said he put up a sign barring foreign students after his stock was damaged.
Solicitor Paul Gilbert said the store could be leaving itself open to prosecution under race relations laws.
COMMENT: The parallels with the Otaru Exclusionary Onsens Case are pretty straight, so let’s keep an eye on this one. Will be interesting to see how the British authorities treat this case. I have a feeling the government will demand they take the sign down, and if not threaten with criminal procedure. That is, however, where the parallels end.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 21 Comments »
Posted by debito on 5th August 2009
Japan Times: Let’s learn our lessons already. This will not be the last pandemic we experience in our lifetimes. The media is predicting a second round of H1N1 within a year. Even if that doesn’t happen, we will undoubtedly track future bugs in real time as they spread and sicken. That’s what bugs do — that’s how they survive. And it seems whipping up public fear is how media networks survive.
But if humankind itself is to survive, with any degree of integrity and protection for the people in weakened circumstances, we must learn not to succumb to what perpetually plagues the human condition: ignorance and panic. If people don’t keep a sense of perspective, they could wreak more damage than the flu did.
So let’s keep our radar screens on how these cycles of discrimination recur…
Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Media, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept. | 7 Comments »
Posted by debito on 4th August 2009
Freeman: Dear Debito, I have read all of your great advice, thank you for kindly sharing. Please share this easy-to-remember summary with your readers.
Are you a human being here in Japan who appears to be Non-Japanese?
Do you want to avoid being coerced into interrogations by police officers?
Then here is how to respond when a police officer asks to speak with you:
#1 Silently show your Alien Registration Card.* **
#2 Say, “Ittemo ii desu ka?”
Repeat this exact sentence, without adding any other words, until the police officer admits, “Hai.”
#3 After hearing “Hai.” you are free to leave.
The police officer might try to fool you into speaking further…
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Practical advice | 32 Comments »
Posted by debito on 3rd August 2009
Just a quick update today to let you know that my next JUST BE CAUSE column in the Japan Times will be coming out tomorrow, Tuesday August 4 (Weds in the provinces), on how the Swine Flu Pandemic (like the SARS Panic some years ago), if handled badly, might cause more damage than the flu might. I offer lessons from the last scare a couple of months ago on how to avoid discriminating against the sick. Get a copy!
Posted in Articles & Publications | 1 Comment »
Posted by debito on 3rd August 2009
Japan Times: “In your wallet or somewhere at home, do you have a blue or pink card showing that you are enrolled in one of Japan’s national health and pension programs? If not, and if you are thinking of extending your stay here, you may want to think about a recent revision to visa requirements for foreign residents. The changes, which the Justice Ministry says were made in order to “smooth out the administrative process,” may have major consequences for foreign residents and their future in Japan.”
The bottom line is that all residents of Japan … have to be enrolled in one or other of the two systems. The revised visa laws, therefore, should pose no threat to anyone’s visa renewal, because every foreigner in Japan should already be enrolled. However, the reality is that most foreigners in Japan do not have either form of insurance…
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Pension System, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 102 Comments »
Posted by debito on 2nd August 2009
Sunday Tangent: I heard on NPR Fresh Air July 30 (podcasts available here) a review and an interview on upcoming documentary “THE COVE”, regarding a town in Wakayama Prefecture named Taiji famous for its whale hunts. It’s also going to become famous for its periodic dolphin slaughter, the subject of this movie.
Ostensibly, the activists claim, for “pest control”, the slaughter of entire schools (if you consider the dolphin a fish, like the fishermen apparently do) of dolphins is apparently due to the dolphins having a taste for the fish that they catch (sorry, but dolphins gotta eat too). It’s a frequent event that takes place in a national park that is otherwise off limits to public eyes. The documentarians (one of whom trained Flipper — seriously — and realized the error of his ways) actually put cameras in rocks and other submersibles to capture first hand the footage of the slaughter the GOJ denies is happening. The movie comes out in spring. NPR gave it a good review.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Cultural Issue, Food, Tangents | 25 Comments »
Posted by debito on 1st August 2009
Korea Herald: Media personality Lee Cham was named chief of the Korea National Tourism Organization Wednesday, the first naturalized Korean to take a top government post in Korea, according to Yonhap News.
Lee, 55, is the first German male ever to become a naturalized Korean citizen, and his appointment is anticipated to pave the way for others like him to assume government positions, a pledge by President Lee Myung-bak during the 2007 election.
“I became a Korean citizen to help the country in some way,”
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Tangents | 9 Comments »