DEBITO.ORG
Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle's Home Page

New ebooks by ARUDOU Debito

  • Book IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan
  • Archive for September, 2009

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 30, 2009

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

    SPECIAL ON THE OTARU ONSENS LAWSUIT, TEN YEARS ON:
    Table of Contents:
    1) INTRO ESSAY: What the case means even today, Article for Japonesia Review
    2) Index of online study aids of media on the event
    3) YouTubed: News Station Oct 12, 1999 on Ana Bortz Verdict YouTubed
    4) YouTubed: HBC award-winning broadcast Mar 27, 2001 creates contentious dichotomies
    5) YouTubed: “KokoGaHen” Feb 28 2001 and their critique of us plaintiffs
    6) YouTubed: J Media reportage of the Feb 1, 2001 Lawsuit Filing in Sapporo District Court
    7) YouTubed: How the J media whipped up fear of foreign crime from 2000 and linked it with lawsuit
    8 ) CONCLUDING ESSAY: How the debate still rages on, article by TransPacific Radio

    … and finally …
    9) Sunday Tangent: SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO Column on Zombie Movies

    PS: See my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column October 6, 2009 on Tokyo’s Olympic Bid
    (we’ll know Oct. 2 whether or not they get it).

    Posted in Newsletters | 1 Comment »

    UN Refugee Film Festival Oct 1-8 in Tokyo Shibuya-ku

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

    UNHCR Refugee Film Festival in Tokyo (October 1-8, 2009), bringing 20 feature and
    documentary films from around the globe, including several Oscar-nominated movies
    about refugees. More info to come on: http://unhcr.refugeefilm.org
    Several international and Japanese filmmakers are attending the event.

    Posted in Human Rights, Media, United Nations | No Comments »

    General Union: City govt seizes assets of NJ worker whose employer refused to pay for Shakai Hoken (Terrie’s Take and Japan Times articles too)

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

    Here we have a case of how NJ can be hurt by careless Immigration decisions. The upcoming requirement for all NJ to be enrolled in health insurance (shakai hoken), or else no visa granted, has been created without necessarily requiring negligent employers to pony up themselves. As usual it’s punishing the powerless.

    Now, according to the Fukuoka General Union, we have a case where the GOJ is seizing a NJ’s assets (not the negligent employer’s) for non-back-payments that the employer should have handled. Read on. A recent Terrie’s Take is also included below for more background information. And a Japan Times Zeit Gist column came out on this only yesterday — describing how half-baked the policy process and probable implementation has been!

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Immigration & Assimilation, Injustice, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 16 Comments »

    Terrie’s Take on Tokyo’s 2016 Olympic bid, decision due Oct 2. Debito.org wa hantai.

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

    Something coming up next week of surprising interest to Debito.org: Guv Ishihara’s pet project to bring the 2016 Olympic Games to Tokyo. We’ll hear the decision on October 2. Here’s where Debito.org stands:

    While understandable a sentiment (what booster wouldn’t want to bring such a probable economic boon home?), Debito.org has been unflinching in its criticism both of Ishihara (for his xenophobic rantings over the years, start here) and of the Tokyo Police (keishicho), who will no doubt be given charge of the security at the event. As history has shown repeatedly (G8 Summits, overt and unapologetic racial profiling — even public scapegoating of NJ, border fingerprinting justified on bigoted grounds, deliberate misconstruing of crime data to whip up public fear, even spoiling one of the last Beatles concerts!), you don’t want to hand over matters of public security to a police force without proper checks and balances — because as even Edward Seidensticker noted, Keishicho will convert Tokyo into a police city if the event is big enough. The Olympics is just that, and it really complicates things by bringing in foreigners, for the police get particularly anal when they feel the outside world is watching.

    Terrie below (understandably) hopes Tokyo gets the Olympics. I, for the record, hope it doesn’t. It’s not because I live in Sapporo (I would have mildly supported Fukuoka’s bid, even despite the NPA, simply because Fukuoka never had the chance — unlike Sapporo — to be an Olympic host). But the fact remains, as Terrie alludes to below, this is just a vanity project for one mean old man, working through Japan’s elite society to get what he wants, who feels as though he’s got one good deed to redeem all his bad works and ill-will over the years. Don’t fall for Ishihara’s ego, IOC. Spare Tokyo, its tourists, and its ever-more-policed international residents. Give the Olympics to somebody else.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Hokkaido Toyako G8 Summit 2008, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Sport | 40 Comments »

    The Corbett Report interview on the new RFID Gaijin Cards

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

    James Corbett: September 19, 2009 1:15:41 PM JST
    Debito, thank you once again for taking time out of your day in Okayama to talk with me about the fingerprinting and IC card issues. The documentary itself is of course still in production, but I have extracted a few minutes from our interview and put it on YouTube. You can watch the video directly here…

    Also, I’ve written an article that incorporates that video and some of your comments on the IC chip-enabled ID issue. That article is available from the “Articles” tab of the corbettreport.com homepage and the direct link is:…

    Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Media, Speech materials | 4 Comments »

    Sunday Tangent: SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO Column on Zombie Movies

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

    After a week of the Otaru Onsens Case (thanks to KMCheese for YouTubing all the videos on his channel), it’s time for something lighter. My most recent column for freepaper SAPPORO SOURCE.

    On Zombie Movies. Yes, I’m a big fan. See why below. Download the entire issue of SAPPORO SOURCE here in pdf format. Cover, scanned page, and text of the article follows.

    Posted in Tangents | 5 Comments »

    Otaru Onsens 10th Anniv #6: How the J media whipped up fear of foreign crime from 2000 and linked it with lawsuit

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

    In Part Six of this retrospective on the Otaru Onsens Case a decade on, I talk about how the J media misinterpreted the issues revolving around the “JAPANESE ONLY” signs up at Otaru Onsen Yunohana et al., and how they wound up fanning the fires of exclusionism by spreading fear of foreigners (particularly vis-a-vis foreign crime).

    As I chart in book “JAPANESE ONLY”, when we first started this case in September 1999, NJ were seen as “misunderstood outsiders”, impaired by “culture” as their monkey on their back. But following GOJ policy putsches by politicians like then-PM Koizumi and Tokyo Gov Ishihara (who in April 2000 famously called upon the Nerima SDF to prepare for “foreigner roundups” to prevent riots in the case of a natural disaster), NJ became a public threat to Japan’s safety and internal security (even though NJ crime was always less than J crime both as a proportion and of course in terms of absolute numbers). Then more doors slammed shut and more signs barring NJ from entry went up — some of them direct copies of the signs in Otaru. Hey, as those onsens indicated, exclusionary signs are not illegal.

    Thus, although we made progress in the first six months of the Otaru Onsens Case, getting signs down in two of Otaru’s three exclusionary onsen, we could not compete with the national government and media saturation, and lost all the ground we gained and then some. The media’s overfocus on NJ crime to this day affects the debate regarding assimilation.

    Embedded videos of how the media could not escape linking NJ rights with foreign crime follow.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, History, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, 日本語 | 2 Comments »

    Otaru Onsens 10th Anniv #5: How the debate still rages on, article by TransPacific Radio

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

    TPR: In the ten years since the case, much has changed and debate over Arudou’s goal and tactics continues apace. As with any heated issue (and human rights issues are always heated), the disagreements range from perfectly legitimate concerns to objections that are, to put it nicely, based on misinformation or incorrect assumptions.

    It is no secret that Arudou has many critics (in the interest of disclosure, it is worth it to point out that while we here at TPR pull no punches with the man and feel it necessary to play Devil’s Advocate at the least, we do know him sociably and will say that, politics aside, he’s a likable guy – just exercise caution before bringing up the topic of Duran Duran.) It is also no secret that, for a variety of reasons, his most vocal critics are almost entirely non-Japanese.

    Among the most high profile of those critics is Gregory Clark, whose column in the Japan Times gives him perhaps a wider audience than most other writers on the topic. On January 15th of this year, Clark wrote a risible and deeply disingenuous column for the paper headlined “Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people”.

    In the column, Clark tries to paint a picture of a contemptible rabble-rousing jerk that he very clearly hints is Arudou (it’s not. As far as we can tell, there is no such person as the one Clark is writing about.) Wondering at Clark’s vitriol and some of his more outlandish statements, this observer settled on the following paragraph: (…)

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Exclusionism, History, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit | 5 Comments »

    Otaru Onsens Case 10th Anniv #4: J Media reportage of the Feb 1, 2001 Lawsuit Filing in Sapporo District Court

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

    In Part Four of this retrospective on the Otaru Onsens Case a decade on, I talk about how the J media received and reported on our filing of the lawsuit against Otaru Onsen Yunohana on February 1, 2001. The answer: Not well. Comment from me follows embedded videos about the disingenuousness of Otaru Onsen Yunohana, the City of Otaru, and the very media itself.

    4) HBC NEWS (Locally broadcast March 27, 2001) on the OTARU ONSENS LAWSUIT FIRST HEARING (3 minutes). Otaru City claims impunity from CERD responsibilities due to local govt. status, while Yunohana Onsen tries to claim it was the victim in this case.

    5) VARIOUS NEWS AGENCIES (Dosanko Wide, Hokkaido News, STV, and HBC) with various angles on OTARU ONSENS LAWSUIT FILING (Locally broadcast February 1, 2001) (15 minutes total). NB: HBC contains the only public interview given by Defendant Yunohana Onsen owner Hashimoto Hiromitsu. This interview was given live (the only way Hashimoto would agree to be interviewed, so that his comments would not be edited, according to reporter sources), where he states that he has never met us (of course; he always refused to meet us; the only time we would ever cross paths would be November 11, 2002, in the courtroom, when the Sapporo District Court came down in Plaintiffs’ favor).

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, History, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, 日本語 | 3 Comments »

    Otaru Onsens Case 10th Anniv #3: “KokoGaHen” Feb 28 2001 and their critique of us plaintiffs

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

    OTARU ONSENS TAPE (1999-2003) PART THREE
    3) TV ASAHI tabloid show “KOKO GA HEN DA YO NIHONJIN”, on exclusionism in Wakkanai, Monbetsu, and Otaru (Nationally broadcast Feb 28, 2001) (16 minutes). Complete with brickbats for the Plaintiffs for filing suit from the screaming foreign panelists.

    If you would like to download and watch this broadcast in mp4 format on your iPod in one part, click here: There is also a complete transcript and English translation here:

    COMMENT: I remember clearly three things about that evening:

    1) That ALL the panelists (the half-baked comment from Terii Itoh notwithstanding) on the Japanese side of the fence were very supportive — in fact, they wished us luck and success in the lawsuit.

    2) That ALMOST ALL of the panelists on the NJ side did the same. In fact, it looked in danger of becoming a boring debate because it seemed so cut and dried. It was a tiny minority who stood up to offer brickbats.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, History, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Speech materials, 日本語 | 1 Comment »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 22, 2009

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

    Table of Contents:
    PROMISING DEVELOPMENTS
    1) TransPacific Radio gives background on PM Hatoyama Cabinet members
    2) Eikaiwa NOVA embezzler and former boss Saruhashi gets his: 3.5 years
    3) Activism: New documentary “The Cove” on dolphin slaughters in Taiji, Wakayama Pref
    4) Terrie’s Take on recent new rulings on tenants’ rights in Japan
    5) Yomiuri: UN set to criticize Japan for lack of gender equality and flawed marriage law (read: child abductions after divorce)

    LESS SO
    6) Narita cops allegedly stopping newly-arrived “foreigners” for passport checks before boarding Narita Express trains
    7) Another way of stealing children in J marriages: legal adoption
    8 ) LA Times: “Charisma Man: An American geek is reborn in Japan”

    DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT
    9) Community’s DMG on how he dealt with too much neighborhood construction noise
    10) TheWorldGame.com on why Brazilian footballers in Japan are so footloose
    11) Bumping into Ramos Rui, one of my heroes, by chance in Nagoya
    12) Japan Times interviews Dave Spector on Japanese Media
    13) Interview by JapanTechTalk on NJ rights, courtesy of Mondo Books Nagoya
    14) Discussion: What do you think about offers of special discounts for NJ? (Blog poll included)

    … and finally …
    15) Sapporo Source DEBITO column Sept 09 on “albums” vs “tracks” culture (full text)

    Posted in Newsletters | 1 Comment »

    Otaru Onsens Case 10th Anniv #2: HBC award-winning broadcast Mar 27, 2001 creates contentious dichotomies

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

    OTARU ONSENS TAPE (1999-2003) PART TWO
    2) HBC TV award-winning documentary on OTARU ONSENS CASE (Locally broadcast March 27, 2001). Gives the most thorough rundown of the issue and expresses the issue from a more “Japanese point of view” (i.e. the issue less in terms of racism, more in terms of cultural differences). 50 minutes, six parts on embedded YouTube or download one mp4 file from Debito.org to play on your iPod.

    COMMENT: We have a decent establishment of the issue in part one, then in subsequent parts we have a whole bunch of pundits claiming this is a “cultural issue” (meaning misunderstandings of our unique J culture make refusals of NJ inevitable to some). Or that it’s a Hobson’s Choice between “human rights of the NJ” and “the survival rights of the business” (which was always a false dichotomy — borne out in retrospect that none of the onsens have gone bankrupt since taking their signs down; quite the opposite in the case of Defendant Yunohana).

    What happens is that the show becomes a”Japanese vs Non-Japanese” thing, where we get lots of old J men and women etc. saying how much they dislike NJ, vs NJ bleating about their rights despite having allegedly different and disruptive bathing rules. We even have Tarento Daniel Carr coming off all sycophantic — blaming NJ for their plight and pointing out their foibles. Teeth begin to itch before long.

    Nowhere in the show is there anyone J saying, “Look, all you have to do is kick out those who don’t follow the rules. It’s not a matter of nationality at all. Just a matter of ill-mannered people, which is an individual matter, not a cultural matter.” But no. That would remove the drama that TV news reports are such suckers for, alas.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, History, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Speech materials, 日本語 | 3 Comments »

    Otaru Onsens Case 10th Anniv.#1: News Station Oct 12, 1999 on Ana Bortz Verdict YouTubed

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

    OTARU ONSENS TAPE (1999-2003) PART ONE
    CONTENTS WITH TEACHING NOTES
    1) TV ASAHI NEWS STATION on ANA BORTZ DECISION (Nationally broadcast October 12, 1999) (10 minutes). National broadcast. Describes the first court decision regarding racial discrimination in Japan, citing the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the fact that Japan has no law against racial discrimination. Imbedded video and mp4 format for viewing on iPods available.

    COMMENT: What’s remarkable about this broadcast is how thoroughly it describes the Bortz Case and the UN CERD. Also the videotape, from Sebido Jewelry Store security cameras in Hamamatsu, showing the owner refusing Ana quite forcefully. It is the most sympathetic broadcast to come out during the Otaru Onsens Case, and unfortunately it would come at the very beginning, before the media really lost the point.

    The Ana Bortz Lawsuit would inject new energy into the Otaru Onsens Case (which first started in earnest on September 19, 1999, about a month before), offering positive legal precedent for the onsens to take their signs down. Shortly afterwards, one did (Onsen Panorama). The other two, Onsen Osupa, would take until March 2000 and a lot of beers and making friends with the owner. The last one (in Otaru, at least), Onsen Yunohana would take until January 2001, nearly fifteen months and a lot of events later, on the day that we announced that we would be suing them. Then, and only then, and Yunohana only replaced it with a new set of exclusionary rules. It would take several years to prove this, but these moves would be a losing formula for them in court. More in my book JAPANESE ONLY.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Exclusionism, History, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, United Nations, 日本語 | 4 Comments »

    OTARU ONSENS 10th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL: Index of online study aids of media on the event

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

    This week I will continue a retrospective on the Otaru Onsens Case, with links to media I collected nearly a decade ago, charting the course of the debate, and how it went down a path that in fact ultimately encouraged people to discriminate. The full arc in my book JAPANESE ONLY, but here is a list of primary sources for your viewing pleasure.

    If possible (my friend KM is also supposed to be on holiday, but he’s the one who has kindly converted my analog recordings into digital and YouTubed it), I will put up a link to each media every day, the first one this evening. There is also a DVD I can burn for those who wish to use this for an educational purpose (contact me at debito@debito.org).

    Here’s an outline of the media I have when I first offered this as a study aid three years ago:

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Education, Exclusionism, History, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Speech materials | 2 Comments »

    TransPacific Radio gives background on PM Hatoyama Cabinet members

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

    Hatoyama Officially becomes PM, Names Cabinet
    TransPacific Radio.com Filed under: Japan in the News, Politics
    Posted by Garrett DeOrio at 11:18 am on Thursday, September 17, 2009

    As expected, Yukio Hatoyama officially became Japan’s 93rd Prime Minister yesterday and just the second since the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party was founded not to belong to it. Just as importantly, after roughly two weeks of managing to keep the press at bay and leaking little, if anything about the make-up of the new Cabinet, the new Prime Minister formed the first Cabinet since 1955 to contain no LDP members.

    In fact, as promised, the new Cabinet is made up entirely of elected representatives. Every portfolio went to a DPJ member, with only two positions going to the DPJ’s partners: State Minister in Charge of Consumer Affairs and the Declining Birthrate to SDP head Mizuho Fukushima and State Minister in Charge of Financial and Postal Issues to People’s New Party chief Shizuka Kamei.

    So, without further ado, the Cabinet:

    Yukio Hatoyama, Prime Minister…

    Posted in Japanese Government | 5 Comments »

    Tangent: Wash Post’s Mensa invitational on coining new words and meanings

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

    As a complete diversion on a Sunday, when it’s too nice to stay inside (and probably few are reading this due to the rare September 5-day weekend here in Japan), here is a tangent, sent me by James in Monbetsu. As an aficionado of words and word play (gotta be for my writing), got a big kick. And I’m happy to say that due to years of blogging, I’ve come up with the word “sarchasm” on my own:

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

    Here are the winners of this year’s Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational which once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition:

    1. *Cashtration* (n.)…

    Posted in Humor, Tangents | No Comments »

    THE OTARU ONSENS LAWSUIT, TEN YEARS ON: Article for Japonesia Review

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

    Today is the tenth anniversary of our visit, on September 19, 1999, to “Japanese Only” Yunohana Onsen et al in Otaru, a life-changing event that to this day has not been fully resolved — mainly because we still don’t have a law against racial discrimination in Japan. This situation remains more than 13 years after Japan effecting of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, where it promised to take “all measures, including legislation” to effectively eliminate all forms of RD. And it deserves comment and reflection after years of protests, two books, countless articles, and successful lawsuits against the onsen (albeit not against the negligent City of Otaru).

    My thoughts on this day are bittersweet. I know we did the right thing (as Olaf noted, when I called him today, people are still talking about the case), and we had a good outcome in court. But I judge things like this based upon whether or not they could ever happen again. The answer is, unfortunately, yes. After all, all Yunohana Onsen has to do is put up another “Japanese Only” sign and we’d have to take them to court all over again just to get it down. There is no law to stop it, nothing for authorities to enforce. Ten years later, it feels more overdue now than in 1999.

    TITLE: THE OTARU ONSENS LAWSUIT: TEN YEARS ON

    What has and has not changed regarding human rights for Non-Japanese in Japan…

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, History, Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese Government, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, United Nations | 7 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 18, 2009

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

    SPECIAL ON EXCLUSIONISM AND TARGETING
    EXCLUSIONISM
    1) Mainichi: Shizuoka bureaucrats force Brazilian woman to take “Repatriation Bribe”
    2) American journalist banned from “Japanese Only” Toyota press conference in America!
    3) Kyodo & JT: Osaka JH school reluctantly takes preteen NJ kid despite teacher opposition!
    4) J population drops, Internal Ministry converts it into rise, excludes NJ from tally.
    5) Interview with the Berlin Institute for Population and Development re Japan’s int’l future
    6) BBC: British furniture store puts up “no foreign students” sign (parallels with Otaru Onsens Case)
    7) Japan Times: NJ visas now contingent on enrollment in Japan’s health insurance program starting April 2010
    8 ) Contrast: Naturalized Caucasian Korean becomes SK’s National Tourism Org leader

    TARGETING
    9) Collating update: upcoming IC Gaijin Cards, RFID hackability, next generation police walkie-talkie, and NPA access to TASPO information
    10) Debito.org reader Brian reports on Shinjuku Police 9-day incarceration of 74-year-old tourist for pocket knife
    11) SITYS: Japan Times confirms that 74-year-old tourist WAS indeed incarcerated for 10 days for carrying a pocket knife
    12) Update: Ibaraki Police’s third new NJ-scare poster
    13) Comparison: Open Society Institute report on police racial profiling in France
    14) Yomiuri, Sankei, FNN: Sakai Noriko’s husband fingers NJ dealers as source of their drug habit
    15) Japan Times: New “lay judge” court system sentences first NJ
    16) Economist.com: Far higher proportion of NJ in Japanese prison than proportion of population
    17) Freeman offers specific dialogs to deal with J police during Gaijin Card Check

    … and finally…
    18) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column: “Unlike Humans, Swine Flu is Indiscriminate” (full text)

    Posted in Newsletters | 1 Comment »

    Terrie’s Take on recent new rulings on tenants’ rights in Japan

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

    Terrie’s Take July 26, 2009: The Japan Times has been doing a good job recently of documenting consumer rights law cases and also foreigner- related issues that might be of use to its readers. Last week they reported on a landmark court ruling, whereby the Kyoto District Court said that a landlord’s insistence on contract renewal fees (“koshinryo”) may violate the rights of the tenant. This is the first time such a case has been ruled in favor of the tenant.

    In the case, the tenant was apparently told that there would be a contract renewal fee, but not why. Presumably the agent thought that because the renewal fee is a traditional payment, dating back to post-war times when the government didn’t want returnee soldiers relocating en masse to the cities, they didn’t go into it in any detail. In any case, as a result of that oversight, when the plaintiff moved out several months after he’d paid the renewal and the landlord refused to refund the payment, the tenant took offense and took the landlord to court.

    The basis for the lawsuit was the 2001 revised consumer protection law, which the court agreed had precedence over the tenancy law. In the ruling the judge apparently commented that, “The reasons for charging contract renewal fees must be clearly explained to tenants and agreed upon between the two sides.”

    Now before everyone starts hooting from the roof tops that it’s time for landlords to get some of their own medicine, it’s worth remembering that this is the exact same Kyoto District Court that in January of last year dismissed a very similar lawsuit. In that earlier case, the tenant also based his claim on the 2001 consumer contract law, where he said that renewal fees in the way they are currently notified and imposed, constitute a contract that “Unilaterally causes damage to the interests of consumers.” We daresay that a lot of readers would agree with that statement!…

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Good News, Human Rights, Practical advice | 12 Comments »

    Free Japanese-language courses in Sapporo sponsored by GOJ (deadline for application Oct 2)

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

    FREE JAPANESE COURSE for international parents.

    Target Participants:
    Foreign residents currently raising children from toddlers through middle school students in and around Sapporo area
    Those who are able to attend at least 80% of the course.
    *The 2nd and 3rd Periods teach entry-level Japanese.

    This program is sponsored by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs for FY 2009.

    Posted in Education, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, 日本語 | 7 Comments »

    Community’s DMG on how he dealt with too much neighborhood construction noise

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

    I have a series of letters here from DMG, writing for The Community, who tells us what he did (relatively successfully) to reduce construction noise in his neighborhood, which was affecting both his work and rest. If you have a similar situation of neighborhood meiwaku, take it to the authorities, talk to the neighbors, and open a dialog with the meiwaku-ers, is the lesson. In his case, it seems to have worked. Good for him. Passing this on as practical advice.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Practical advice | 3 Comments »

    Narita cops allegedly stopping newly-arrived “foreigners” for passport checks before boarding Narita Express trains

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

    September 16, 2009 11:26:32 AM JST
    Don’t really want to open a can of worms here, and would prefer that this stay anonymous if blogged, but I was stopped by the police in Narita airport after returning from a two-week trip to the states yesterday.

    There were many officers deployed in a couple of lines to catch anyone comming off the escalators to the trains out of the airport. They were carrying clipboards and stopping anyone who looked foreign for a “passport check.”

    COMMENT: Anyone else experiencing this in Japan’s airports? Of course, I have on several occasions (one here and another here). Others, please pipe up. As the author says, this passport checkpoint coming so fast on the heels of Immigration checks is a bit much.

    Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 51 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 16, 2009

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

    SPECIAL ON JAPANESE ELECTIONS AND THE DPJ TSUNAMI
    Table of Contents:
    1) The gathering storm: Thoughts on DPJ Tokyo Election victory July 12, 2009
    2) Japan Times on nuts and bolts of Japanese elections
    3) Japan Times on upcoming national election #1: Rules regarding Campaigning
    4) The Economist Banyan column on the LDP’s terminal decline
    5) CSM’s Kambayashi on Japan’s “hereditary candidates” and new voter attitudes
    6) Reuters THE GREAT DEBATE column on how this election in Japan just might change everything
    7) DPJ changes its slogan from “Kokumin” to “Anata…”
    8 ) Japan Times: Parties split on issues of NJ PR suffrage
    9) Aso presides over sinking LDP ship, slams DPJ Hatoyama for being open to NJ suffrage
    10) Quick update on Japan’s national election: WOW, what a landslide!
    11) More quick thoughts on last night’s election: Looking at the numbers
    12) Former PM Aso’s last email magazine: still a sore loser
    … and finally…
    13) Sunday Tangent: Fascinating DaiTouA WWII propaganda

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 8, 2009

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

    SPECIAL ON McDONALDS JAPAN’S BURGER-PROMOTING CHARACTER “MR JAMES”
    Intro to the issue:
    1) McDonalds Japan’s new creepy “Mr James” burger campaign, featuring katakana-speaking gaijin
    2) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Sept 1 2009 on why “Mr James” is a problem

    Protest begins:
    3) NPO FRANCA protest letter to McDonald’s USA HQ re “Mr James”
    4) NPO FRANCA’s downloadable protest letter in Japanese
    5) “I Hate ‘Mr James’ Facebook page created (not by me), now at 232 members

    Reactions:
    6) South China Morning Post on “Mr James” , quotes FRANCA
    7) San Francisco Chronicle on McDonald’s Japan “Mr James” campaign, and similar ethnically-insensitive sales campaigns overseas
    8 ) TIME Magazine on “Mr James”, misses point
    9) McDonald’s Japan CR Director Kawaminami Junichi responds to FRANCA, no apologies or retractions

    Repercussions:
    10) McDonald’s Japan “Mr James”: Reports of improvements
    11) Sports drink uses katakana- and KANJI speaking alien:
    Contrast with McDonald’s “Mr James” katakana-only character
    12) Quick follow-up letter to McDonald’s USA “Contact us” website re “Mr James”:
    Compare to Subway Sandwiches’ J-speaking NJ shills

    Posted in Newsletters | 1 Comment »

    Mainichi: Shizuoka bureaucrats force Brazilian woman to take “Repatriation Bribe”

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

    Case number #4534 of why one does not allow untrained bureaucrats to make Immigration decisions: The potential for misunderstanding and abuse.

    Last April, the GOJ decided to offer unemployed Nikkei workers (only — this did not apply to Chinese etc. “Trainees and Researchers” because they did not have the correct blood) a 300,000 yen Repatriation Bribe for airplane tickets “back home”, not only asking them to void their visas and give up their paid-in pensions, but also to go elsewhere and just be somebody else’s problem.

    Now, according to the Mainichi of Sept 14, 2009, a local government tried to make any possible welfare benefits to a NJ contingent upon promising to take the Bribe and go home — a Catch-22 if ever there was one.

    Not too surprising. This is the same prefecture which around up to ten years ago restricted or denied NJ the right to sign up for the National Health Insurance (kokumin kenkou hoken) because they weren’t “kokumin” (citizens) .

    Fortunately, this case came out in the press. How many others have been duped here and elsewhere and forced to go home without it being reported? Shame on the GOJ for creating this policy avenue for abuse in the first place.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Pension System, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 7 Comments »

    American journo banned from “Japanese Only” Toyota press conference — in America!

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

    Here’s something discussed in Ivan Hall’s seminal CARTELS OF THE MIND and other sources, such as Laurie Freeman’s JPRI article on Japan’s Press Clubs (kisha kurabu, i.e. media cartels). It hasn’t changed since the publication of these works. Problem is, the case discussed below isn’t a Japan Press Club. It’s a Japanese company denying access to local-area journalists IN AMERICA, despite both local ethics and corporate promises to the contrary. In other words, it’s Japan’s Press Clubs exported. Read on:

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Media | 22 Comments »

    Japan Times: New “lay judge” court system sentences first NJ

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

    Japan Times: The first foreign defendant to be tried in a lay judge trial was sentenced Friday to five years in prison at the Saitama District Court for two counts of robbery resulting in injury…

    The lay judge system, which debuted in May, requires courtroom participants to make their arguments orally so trials are easier for people who are not legal professionals to follow, which in turn means more work for the interpreters in cases involving foreign nationals.

    Much of the focus in the latest case was on whether the two Tagalog interpreters could accurately convey the tone of the remarks and how their interpretation might affect the decisions of the lay judges.

    Posted in Human Rights, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits | 6 Comments »

    Bumping into Ramos Rui, one of my heroes, by chance in Nagoya

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

    Just a quick blog entry for today. I was in Nagoya a few days ago finishing up one of my intensive courses on Media Professionalism, and at checkout from my hotel who should I bump into on the elevator but somebody I could have sworn looked just like one of my heroes.

    Ramos Rui, a famous soccer player who has done a great deal in my opinion for assimilation of NJ (he even naturalized in 1989), toughing it out in what would become the J-League, then the Japan National Team, was standing right there. I asked him, he acknowledged, and we had a quick conversation in Japanese about things. Photo enclosed.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Sport | 2 Comments »

    LA Times: “Charisma Man: An American geek is reborn in Japan”

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

    LA Times: From his window seat in the Roppongi bar district, Neil Garscadden eyes an exotic street parade: the reggae-styled hipsters, the Nigerian nightclub hawkers, the soft-stepping geishas, the secretaries in miniskirts and impossibly heavy eye shadow.

    The nuances of the scene, Garscadden insists, would be lost on a mere tourist.

    This, he says, is a job for Charisma Man.

    With his blue eyes, tousled blond hair and foreign passport, Charisma Man is a sake-sipping man about town, suavely negotiating the intricacies of Japanese culture. Women adore him. Men respect, even fear, him. Life in the East bends to his every whim.

    “It’s great to be a Western guy in Asia,” he says. “I’ve got lots of money, chicks dig me — everybody respects me.”

    Well, not everybody.

    In this land of anime, Charisma Man is a comic strip character created in 1998 by Larry Rodney, a Canadian then teaching English in Nagoya, to lampoon what he saw as the absurd hubris of many Western men in Japan. Capitalizing on their novelty status, they prowled for cheap thrills, an easy paycheck and sex — not necessarily in that order. Many were slackers posing as teachers (a job for which they were underqualified) to continue the charade of their low-wattage celebrity.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Humor, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 12 Comments »

    Interview by JapanTechTalk on NJ rights, courtesy of Mondo Books Nagoya

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

    My last night in Nagoya (as in last night) I had an immensely enjoyable interview with JapanTechTalk’s Robert Sanzalone over tebasaki.

    Have a listen! http://twaud.io/tg

    Amazing how six hours after an interview takes place it can be all over the Net.

    Thanks to an introduction by Mike and Jose at Mondo Books Nagoya. http://www.mondo-books.com/
    on Facebook
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nagoya-Japan/Mondo-Books-/218012530513

    Two autographed signed copies of HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS available at Mondo. First come, first purchased! How to get there at above links!

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Handbook for Newcomers, Immigration & Assimilation, Podcasts, Practical advice, Speech materials | No Comments »

    Reminder: Screenings of SOUR STRAWBERRIES Tokyo & Yokohama Sept 10-12

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

    TOKYO SHIBUYA: Thursday September 10, 2009, 7PM (doors open 6:30), 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, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 2 Comments »

    Eikaiwa NOVA embezzler and former boss Saruhashi gets his: 3.5 years

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

    Japan Times Aug 27: Former Nova President Nozomu Sahashi was sentenced Wednesday to 3 1/2 years in prison by the Osaka District Court for his role in skimming off employee funds in 2007, just before the foreign language school giant’s bankruptcy that October.

    Presiding Judge Hiroaki Higuchi’s severe sentence took some in the courtroom by surprise. Prosecutors had sought five years for the former president of what was once the country’s largest foreign language school chain and employer of foreign nationals. Sahashi is expected to appeal the sentence. …

    Sahashi was charged with funneling nearly ¥320 million from employee benefit funds to a bank account belonging to a Nova affiliate in July 2007. He denied embezzling the funds, telling the court he used the money on behalf of his employees.

    He tried to portray himself as only one of a group of senior Nova executives responsible for the decision. But the judge said that given the amount of money and his authority, Sahashi bore a heavy responsibility for the crime.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Good News, Injustice, Labor issues, Lawsuits, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 13 Comments »

    Discussion: What do you think about special discounts for NJ?

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

    The Community yahoogroup has been having an interesting discussion about “positive discrimination”, where NJ actually get special treatment or discounts for being foreign. What do people here think about that?

    Here are some posts from The Community developing the issue. Comments? Debito

    Discussion begins: “Just wanted to pass along a very nice thing that happened today — went out to a cafe here in Fukui with my family for lunch and was surprised to find a sign in English at the register reading “10% discount to all foreigners”. Although the discount is nice, it’s even nicer to see a shop going out of its way to open itself up to NJs, especially in a conservative prefecture like Fukui…”

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept. | 40 Comments »

    TheWorldGame.com on why Brazilian footballers in Japan are so footloose

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

    [Gamba Osaka striker Leandro's] departure has the potential to unleash catcalls that Brazilian players are only in the J-League for the money.

    Well, so what if they are?

    In a country where xenophobia is a softly-spoken secret – how’s this for McDonald’s latest Japanese ad campaign?– can anyone really blame Leandro for hopping on the first available flight to Doha?…

    There are plenty of Brazilians in the J-League committed to the cause. Some, like the high-profile Zico, are afforded star status.

    But others toil in relative anonymity, happy to ply their trade far from their homeland, struggling to overcome cultural and language barriers.

    Often their contracts are terminated with no fanfare and little regard for their welfare…

    It’s a draining lifestyle – one I can attest to – and I don’t begrudge a single Brazilian player who chooses to make a living in Japan, or one who departs for pastures anew.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Immigration & Assimilation, Sport | 3 Comments »

    Quick letter to McDonald’s USA “Contact us” website re “Mr James” (UPDATED: Compare to Subway Sandwiches’ J-speaking NJ shills)

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

    Hello McDonald’s USA:

    You might be interested to read my column in the Japan Times talking about what’s wrong with McDonald’s Japan’s “Mr James” Campaign. Also articles in SF Chronicle, TIME, SCMP, and more. Perhaps it’s time to consider pulling the plug on this campaign before it embarrasses your organization any further?

    UPDATE: Even Subway Sandwiches lets their NJ character shills speak in proper Japanese. Why not McDonald’s Japan?

    UPDATE 2: McDonald’s USA responded within 24 hours with another “Dear John” letter, the same one sent verbatim to all complainants, stressing the lack of intent to offend and that we should take it up with McD’s Japan. Taraimawashi.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Food, Media | 9 Comments »

    Another way of stealing children in J marriages: legal adoption

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

    For some reason the most popular article on the JT this morning is one nearly a decade old, one about another loophole in Japanese marriage laws — legal adoption of the children by the grandparents.

    Not the first time I’ve heard of this (I had a friend whom this happened to as well), and it’s definitely not limited to J-NJ marriages, but it’s one more cautionary tale about how the lack of strong family law, coupled with the Koseki system and easy inkan fraud, leads to parents being denied access (or even legal ties to) to their kids in Japan.

    What makes this an NJ issue is that many don’t know the system, or get taken advantage of more easily than native speakers. And then many spend years stringing along in Japan just trying to see their kids. The information is no less poignant today.

    Posted in Exclusionism, Human Rights, Practical advice, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 21 Comments »

    Japan Times interviews Dave Spector on Japanese Media

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

    We’ve been talking about the media quite a bit lately. Now let’s read an interview with someone on the other side, who is, according to the Japanese media polls, one of the, if not the, most trusted and popular commentators in Japanese TV. Dave Spector. Yes, Dave Spector, who has been a very kind supporter of Debito.org. Excerpt from JT article follows.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Immigration & Assimilation, Media, Tangents | 3 Comments »

    Former PM Aso’s last mail magazine: still a sore loser

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

    I am convinced that I have made the right
    decision to prioritize policy over politics.

    I am also confident that I have advanced the correct policies on
    the North Korean issue, the fight against terrorism, and measures
    to counter piracy, with an aim to safeguard the nation and the
    people.

    However, my inadequacy led to this result. I offer a frank apology
    and take sincere heed of the people’s voice, determined to make
    a fresh start. Safeguard what must be safeguarded. Reform to
    safeguard what must be safeguarded. Change what must be changed.
    This is the essence of conservative politics.

    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Politics, Tangents | 5 Comments »

    San Francisco Chronicle on McDonald’s Japan “Mr James” campaign, and similar ethnically-insensitive sales campaigns overseas

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

    SF Chronicle: “What’s the matter [with this depiction]? Put the shoe on the other foot,” wrote foreigner-rights advocate Debito Arudou (nee David Ardwinckle) [sic] in a column for The Japan Times. “Imagine McDonald’s, a multinational that has long promoted cultural diversity, launching a McAsia menu in America, featuring a deep-bowing, grimacing Asian in a bathrobe and platform sandals saying, ‘Me likee McFlied Lice!’ or, ‘So solly, prease skosh honorable teriyaki sandrich?’”

    McHatin’ It

    Of course, in the past, McDonald’s has essentially done just that. During last year’s Olympics, it unveiled a commercial featuring two Chinese kids engaged in high-flying wire-fu combat in an ancient temple, dueling it out with fists and feet and chopsticks over the last McNugget in the pack.

    Seeing that ad brought back memories of McDonald’s limited-edition “Shanghai” Chicken McNuggets, which briefly appeared on menus back in 1986. Served in a red takeout box stamped with cartoon-Chinese lettering, they came with a fortune cookie, chopsticks and three absurdly non-Shanghainese dippings: “duck sauce,” hot mustard and … teriyaki sauce.

    Worst of all, to complete the pseudo-Sino experience, the chain’s employees were forced to wear conical McCoolie hats — a bit of irony given their minimum-wage status — while commercials ended with mascot-clown Ronald McDonald throwing a karate chop to faux Asian music.

    Lame, ignorant campaigns like this one may seem innocuous. But they give people license to mock and exclude people based on racial or cultural difference, which in turn can lead down a slippery slope to more troubling outcomes…

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Food, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media | 24 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Sept 1 2009 on McDonald’s “Mr James” campaign: Why it’s a problem

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

    I personally have three tests for whether stereotyping is offensive or unfair: 1) Does it suit the purposes of humor and satire, or is it just mean-spirited? 2) Has it any redeeming social value? 3) Is there turnabout in fair play?

    Regarding 1), yes, I grant that Mr. James is disarmingly funny. However, it still takes mean, cheap shots at foreigners for a purported lack of language ability. Allow me to elaborate from decades of personal experience what this stereotype does.

    When asked if the Japanese language is difficult, I say it isn’t. What’s difficult is talking to Japanese people. One has to overcome so much ingrained baggage — often instilled from childhood in approved textbooks — that foreigners, particularly the non-Asians, are “guests and outsiders” — illiterate, inscrutable and incomprehensible. Thanks to this, I dare say that in the majority of random interactions, foreigners who do not “look Japanese” have to prove every day to new listeners that they speak Japanese just fine.

    It’s like having to untangle your headphones before you listen to music. Every. Single. Time. And Mr. James just pulls the knots tighter…

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 18 Comments »

    Sports drink uses katakana- and KANJI speaking alien: Contrast with McDonald’s “Mr James” katakana-only character

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

    At a convenience store (Lawsons) in deep south Shikoku, we have a sports drink company which uses an alien character to promote its products. Visual:

    Note that like McDonald’s Japan “Mr James” Character, he too speaks katakana.

    But UNlike “Mr James”, even the space alien speaks kanji!

    Somebody please explain to me again why space aliens but not Caucasians are allowed to speak in more natural Japanese? We can’t use the “island society” mentality against fellow humans, can we?

    Either way, this helps to show just how alienating this “Mr James” campaign actually is.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 19 Comments »

    Get Japan Times today: JUST BE CAUSE column on McDonald’s Japan “Mr James”

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

    Hi Blog.  Take a look at my column today in the Japan Times, where I make the case with historical context that McDonald’s Japan’s “Mr James” campaign is something that should be discontinued.  I’ll have the full text up here for comment here hopefully tomorrow for comment.  http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090901ad.html Arudou Debito in southern Shikoku

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Immigration & Assimilation, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 2 Comments »