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  • Archive for November, 2009

    Get Japan Times tomorrow, full-page JUST BE CAUSE column with my suggestions to DPJ on immigration policies

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

    My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column is coming out on Tuesday, December 1, 2009 (Wednesday in the provinces).

    Topic: 1300 words on what PM Hatoyama and the DPJ should be doing to make life easier for everyone in Japan, regardless of nationality, by devising immigration policies that focus more on assimilation, less on policing, for a change. Have a read!

    Posted in Articles & Publications | 4 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG PODCAST NOV 30, 2009 (listen here or download from iTunes)

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

    In this edition of the Debito.org Podcast for November 30, 2009, I will be reading three of my Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE columns:

    “Good News from Grass Roots”, Tuesday, June 4, 2008

    “Summit Wicked This Way Comes”, Tuesday, April 23, 2008

    “July forecast: rough, with ID checks mainly in the north”, Tuesday, July 2, 3008

    Interspliced are excerpts from Duran Duran and Tangerine Dream “White Eagle”, as always. Enjoy.

    Posted in Podcasts | 6 Comments »

    Advice re Japan Law Society, Tokyo/Osaka association of NJ lawyers: they really won’t pay you if they invite you to speak

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

    I gave a seminar for the Japan Law Society in Osaka a year ago, something that was even applied for legal profession education credit overseas. Checking my records recently I realized I never got paid anything for it. Contacted, they replied that they never were going to pay me anyway (not even the general minimum standard in Japan of 5000 yen for travel expenses).

    More fool me, you might say, for accepting the invitation. I guess the lesson to be learned here is that when the Japan Law Society invites you as a speaker and then says it will not pay you, take it seriously. It won’t. But that’s in my opinion quite unprofessional and deserves to be known about. Professionals who want related professional assistance should be willing to compensate the provider for the service. That’s how the system works when professionals are involved.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Education, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Tangents | 24 Comments »

    Kyodo: Municipal govts call for GOJ agency to help foreigners. Again.

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

    We have the news of local governments calling upon the national government to do something to help the NJ residents under their charge. Some things just aren’t amendable without national government directives. Like a dedicated agency to deal with immigration.

    That’s good news. The problem is, these local governments have been doing this for years now: Consider the Hamamatsu Sengen (2001), Toyoda Sengen (2004) and Yokkaichi Sengen (2006), which demanded just about the same thing. And it will be the same thing I demand in my next Japan Times column, due out next Tuesday, December 1. Have a read.

    Local governments want to be nice to their NJ. It’s just that the elite Edokko bureaucrats in Kasumigaseki just don’t care. They don’t want to help NJ settle and make a life here. The people in charge of NJ affairs, mostly the Ministry of Justice, just want to control and police them. And that is pretty short-sighted, given that Japan needs immigration, and the less attractive Tokyo’s mandarins make Japan look to immigrants, the more likely the ones that will help Japan most will pass Japan by for better opportunities in other more open societies. Again, more in my JT article on Tuesday.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 8 Comments »

    Kyodo: numerical figures on how many NJ took “Nikkei Repatriation Bribe”

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

    After the GOJ instituted the “Nikkei Repatriation Bribe” last April 1, bribing people with Japanese blood (only) to give up their visas, pension, and whatever contributions they made to Japan for a paltry lump-sum, “get out of our country and be somebody else’s problem” exchange, we have some possible figures coming out on perhaps how many people actually took it.

    On average over the past decade, the registered NJ population in Japan has risen by about 50,000 per year. According to the figures below, we may have the first fall in the NJ population in more than four decades. Let’s wait and see, but the GOJ may have in fact succeeded in what I believe are the long-standing plans to keep the NJ labor market on a revolving-door, non-immigrant footing. As I will be writing next Tuesday in my Japan Times column, this is what happens when you leave immigration policy in the hands of elite xenophobic bureaucrats in the Justice Ministry.

    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 17 Comments »

    Co-authored chapter in new Akashi Shoten book on “American Diaspora”

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

    I just got a copy yesterday of a book in which I’ve co-authored a chapter with Jens Wilkinson. Entitled “Yo-roppa, Roshia, Amerika no Diasupora” (The European, Russian, and American Diaspora), published by Akashi Shoten Inc. (which published all my other books, thanks), the book is in Japanese. Scanned cover front and back and Table of Contents follow as images (click to enlarge in browser). And the English translation of the chapter follows in full afterwards for your reference. Excerpt:

    “Most of the chapters in this book look at the movements of an interconnected minority people in response to some crisis. This chapter is fundamentally different in tone. Here, we discuss the movements of people from the United States of America, a country unusual in both current circumstances (the sole superpower in the world today, projecting power across what we will argue is an “empire”), and history (one of a minority of the world’s countries which were founded upon immigration, meaning that America itself has been the beneficiary of migrating Diasporas).

    This is why, when discussing the situation of Americans living abroad, we will argue that may need a new paradigm to describe an “American Diaspora”– if there actually is one…”

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Immigration & Assimilation, Tangents, 日本語 | No Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 25, 2009

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

    Table of Contents:
    DISCRIMINATION TOPICS
    1) UN CERD Questions to GOJ re elimination of racial discrim (CERD/C/JPN/Q/3-6 Nov 17 2009)
    2) NPR interview with Jake Adelstein, author “Tokyo Vice”, on how police and laws do not stop NJ human trafficking in Japan
    3) “Japanese speakers only” Kyoto exclusionary hotel stands by its rules, says it’s doing nothing unlawful
    4) UPDATE: Kyoto Tourist Association replies, tells Kyoto hotel “Kyou no Yado” to stop “Japanese speakers only” rules

    IMMIGRATION TOPICS
    5) AFP: PM Hatoyama strongly hints he wants immigration to Japan (bonus: PM Hatoyama Newsletter Nov 4)
    6) Ruling coalition currently not considering NJ human rights laws beyond PR suffrage: Dietmember Aihara
    7) Mainichi: DPJ split over bill to give NJ permanent residents right to vote
    8 ) Mainichi: Schools for foreigners, technical colleges included in DPJ’s free high school lesson plan. IF already MOE “accredited”
    9) Xinhua & Chosun Ilbo: South Korea has drafted dual nationality laws
    10) Scotchneat on Fuji TV show laying blind biological claims to intellectual Asian kids abroad

    UPDATED TOPICS
    11) TODAY show (USA) on Savoie Child Abduction Case: father Chris’s treatment by J police, return to US, aftermath
    12) Mutantfrog’s Joe Jones’s excellent discussion of rights and wrongs of divorce in Japan; causes stark conclusions for me
    13) Brief essay on Nov 13 Hatoyama-Obama press conference; discussion of Obama’s Japan visit

    OFFBEAT TOPICS
    14) DEBITO.ORG POLL: What do you think about Obama’s “deep bow cum handshake” with the Emperor?
    15) Tangent: Korea Herald: Attitudes in Korea towards budget travelers: open up love hotels?
    16) Holiday Tangent: Delightful Maure Memorial Museum in the middle of nowhere, Hokkaido

    DEBITO.ORG TOPICS
    17) All of DEBITO.ORG’S PODCASTS are now available at iTunes, subscribe for free
    18) Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out Tues Dec 1, on advice to DPJ re NJ policies

    … and finally …
    19) Sunday Tangent: SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO Column on the power of humor and how it preserves sanity (full text)

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Aly Rustom on how he got out of a Gaijin Card Check by J-cops

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

    Quick missive from Aly Rustom a couple of days ago. This is how he dealt with a Gaijin Card Checkpoint by cops in Ueno last week, apparently successfully. He asked for their ID and dared to try to photograph it, and the cop. FYI. Link included on what your rights are when the Police State Tendencies have you in their sights.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 99 Comments »

    Holiday Tangent: Delightful Maure Memorial Museum in the middle of nowhere, Hokkaido

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

    As a holiday tangent, I would like to pass along these brochures from the Maure Memorial Museum. In the middle of East Boofoo, excuse me, Maruseppu, northeastern Hokkaido, is this hidden little gem of a place, a converted schoolhouse, with all sorts of lovely little artworks by handicapped people, as well as by other artists, that is definitely worth a look somehow, somewhere. It also has a wonderful collection of butterflies, for some reason, and other bugs on pins (along with the occasional ammonite) that will delight all ages. Admission is free (there is a donation box you can ignore; I didn’t). If you have any occasion, go out there and see. Introduced me by James in Monbetsu just before it closed for winter.

    Posted in Education, Tangents, 日本語 | No Comments »

    Xinhua & Chosun Ilbo: South Korea has drafted dual nationality laws

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

    Xinhua: The South Korean government has drafted legal revisions to adopt multiple citizenship, easing regulations for foreigners seeking to become naturalized Korean citizens, to attract talent from abroad, the government Thursday.

    According to the Justice Ministry, it will soon submit a proposal on the revisions to parliament for approval.

    The envisioned law allows those who hold foreign passports to hold more than one nationality on condition that they provide written pledges forswearing their rights as foreigners while in the country, including tax exemptions…

    “There has been a growing voice need for the revision, as the present law sat as an obstacle in attracting and retaining talented foreigners,” an official at the ministry, was quoted as saying to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

    “We hope the revisions will help prevent a brain drain and provide relief measures for the country’s low birth rate and its aging society,” the official told Yonhap.

    According to the justice ministry figures, the number of losing or renouncing their South Korean nationality hit 6,741 between 2004 and October this year, far surpassing the 518 who opted for it.

    Posted in Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Tangents | 7 Comments »

    Scotchneat on Fuji TV show laying blind biological claims to intellectual Asian kids abroad

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

    Guest writing an essay for Debito.org is Scotchneat, regarding how some Japanese media editorial policies bring in tribal tendencies no matter how tenuous the link to the tribe. Read and consider.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media | 4 Comments »

    I’m current at JALT Shizuoka, until Monday

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

    Just to let you know, I’m currently in Shizuoka attending the annual JALT Conference. Not giving any speeches or anything, just taking in a presentation or two and socializing. Look for me around the PALE Table. FYI.

    Posted in Tangents | 1 Comment »

    UN CERD Questions to GOJ re elimination of racial discrim (CERD/C/JPN/Q/3-6 Nov 17 2009, Advance Unedited Version)

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

    Here’s the United Nations CERD Committee giving the Japanese Government its due for its Third through Sixth Report (Japan is supposed to submit a report, on what it’s doing to eliminate domestic racial discrimination, every two years since it became a Signatory in 1996. That should be a total of six times by now; however, it has only submitted twice so far, lumping them together. Hazukashii). These are questions the UN wants answered before its periodic review of Japan in February of next year. Have a look.

    We activists have already readied our counterreports for submission to the UN (I was asked some weeks ago to cover refusals of NJ by businesses; I handed in an 800-worder, which I’ll have up here in due course). Let’s see how the GOJ tries to squirm out of it this time (see last time and the time before that here).

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Human Rights, Japanese Government, United Nations | 1 Comment »

    Mainichi: Schools for foreigners, technical colleges included in DPJ’s free high school lesson plan. IF already MOE “accredited”

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

    Mainichi: Technical colleges and schools attended by foreigners will be included in the Democratic Party of Japan’s pledge to make high school lessons free of charge, it has emerged…

    Various schools operating under the School Education Law will be included in the measure, even if their students are of foreign nationality, meaning the DPJ’s move will apply to schools for Korean students and to international schools. However, Suzuki indicated that schools operating without approval — commonly seen among schools such as those for Brazilian children — would not be included.

    Posted in Education, Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, 日本語 | 11 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG RSS Feed Logo Contest Winner is Jarod Trebas

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

    Last week I put out a call for anyone to submit a logo for Debito.org’s upcoming iTunes podcast RSS Feed. Thanks for all the submissions, everyone, especially on such short notice. Here are the best ones:

    Posted in debito.org blog and website biz, Podcasts | 17 Comments »

    AFP: PM Hatoyama strongly hints he wants immigration to Japan (bonus: PM Hatoyama Newsletter Nov 4)

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

    AFP – Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Nov 14 that his country, which is battling low birth rates and an ageing population, should make itself more attractive to migrants.

    Japan has some of the world’s strictest controls on immigration, and Hatoyama admitted that he was broaching a “sensitive issue”.

    But he said that as well as introducing pro-family policies, Japan should attempt to encourage migrants to live and work there…

    “I am not sure if I can call this ‘immigration policy’, but what’s important is to create an environment that is friendly to people all around the world so that they voluntarily live in Japan,” he said.

    COMMENT: Again, wait and see, but I still find it disappointing that very little that would protect NJ rights in Japan is even on the drawing board. So we should be demanding it wherever possible. We’ve tried bringing a million or so NJ here since 1990 without protecting their rights and lifestyles from discrimination. Look where it got us. Let’s learn from that already, shall we?

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

    NPR interview with Jake Adelstein, author “Tokyo Vice”, on how police and laws do not stop NJ human trafficking in Japan

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

    Jake Adelstein, whose new book TOKYO VICE just came out, was interviewed on America’s National Public Radio program “FRESH AIR” on November 10, 2009. What follows is an excerpt from their podcast, minute 23:45 onwards, which talks about how domestic laws hamstring the NPA from actually cracking down on human trafficking and exploiting NJ for Japan’s sex trades. Jake’s work in part enabled the US State Department to list Japan as a Tier-Two Human Trafficker, and got Japan to pass more effective domestic laws against it.

    Read on to see how the process works in particular against NJ, given their especially weak position (both legally and languagewise). If NJ go to the police to report their exploitation, it’s the NJ who get arrested (and deported), not the trafficker. And then the trafficker goes after the NJ’s family overseas. Glad people like Jake are out there exposing this sort of thing.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 16 Comments »

    Ruling coalition currently not considering NJ human rights laws beyond PR suffrage: Dietmember Aihara

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

    I had a conversation with Upper House Dietmember Aihara Kumiko (62, from Hokkaido, elected 2007 on Proportional Representation) yesterday. With a labor union background, she has an eye on a number of human rights issues, including the Nikkei Visa and NJ “Trainee” Programs.

    I took the opportunity to ask about a few things that are overdue for NJ resident rights in Japan (which the recent polls on Debito.org cover), namely:

    Japan signing the Hague Convention on Child Abductions

    Japan passing the long-proposed general law protecting human rights (jinken yougo houan)

    Japan passing a law against racial discrimination

    Japan approving local suffrage for NJ residents with Permanent Residency

    She answered that the DPJ ruling coalition would be submitting the bill for local suffrage in next year’s Diet session.

    The other three were currently not being considered in any committee or study group at this time. I asked when they might be, and she didn’t know.

    Just letting readers of Debito.org know.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics | 8 Comments »

    UPDATE: Kyoto Tourist Association replies, tells Kyoto hotel “Kyou no Yado” to stop “Japanese speakers only” rules

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

    Regarding an issue I blogged here about earlier this week, about a hotel named “Kyou no Yado” that advertised on its Rakuten Travel listing that it would refuse any customer who did not speak Japanese, an update:

    I contacted the Kyoto Tourist Association, the Kyoto City Tourism Board, and the National Tourism Agency in Tokyo about this issue with handwritten letters last Monday. I received a letter yesterday sokutatsu (included below) from the Kyoto Tourist Association, as well as a personal phone call yesterday afternoon from a Mr Sunagawa there, who told me the following:

    The hotel was indeed violating the Hotel Management Law (which holds that people may only be refused lodgings if all rooms were booked, there was threat of contagious disease, or endangerment of “public morals”) by refusing people who could not speak Japanese,

    The hotel was hereby advised by KTA to change its rules and open its doors to people regardless of language ability,

    The hotel did not protest, and in fact would “fix” (naosu) its writeup on its Rakuten Travel entry,
    The hotel hasn’t gotten to it yet, but assuredly would. (It still hasn’t as of this writing.)

    I asked what was meant by “fix”, and whether the language would just be shifted to find another way to refuse people again in violation of the Hotel Management Law. Mr Sunagawa wasn’t sure what would be done, but they would keep an eye on it, he said.

    Mr Sunagawa was very apologetic about my treatment, especially given the rudeness of Kyou no Yado’s written reply, and hoped that I would consider coming back to Kyoto soon and not have an unfavorable impression of it.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Good News, Japanese Government, 日本語 | 21 Comments »

    Brief bit on tonight’s Hatoyama-Obama press conference; discussion of Obama’s Japan visit

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

    Just a quick word, having watched the the 8:30-9:05 joint press conference tonight between PM Hatoyama and Pres Obama.

    For those who did not see it, they focussed on issues that were of a larger geopolitical nature, including Afghanistan, nuclear weapons, North Korea, global warming, moving Guantanamo trials to the US, and, foremost, the need for maintaining the strength of the Japan-US Alliance and its positive effects on the wealth, security, and stability of East Asia as a region.

    They took only one question each from the press corps (so each of them asked lots of questions). The child abductions, the point most germane to Debito.org at this time, did not come up.

    I open this blog entry so that others can discuss what they thought about the press conference, as well as Obama’s Japan visit this time around in general. Go for it.

    Posted in Child Abductions, Discussions, Japanese Government | 6 Comments »

    Watch Obama in Japan tonight (speech schedule enclosed)

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

    Paul Toland: By the way, For those of you who are following President Obama’s trip to Japan, here are the two most important times to be watching:

    1. 13 November, 7 PM (Japan Time), 5 AM (Eastern Standard Time) – President Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Hatoyama, to be followed by a Joint Press Conference. I don’t know the exact time of the press conference, but I’m assuming it will be about an hour or so after their meeting. I’ll be watching for that tomorrow morning.

    2. 14 November, 10 AM (Japan Time), 13 Nov 8 PM (Eastern Standard Time) – President Obama will be making a speech at Suntory Hall in Tokyo, in which he will discuss his view of U.S. engagement in Asia and reaffirm the strength of Washington’s alliance with Japan.

    While I doubt he will address the child abduction issue at the Speech at Suntory Hall, I am hoping he does mention the issue at the Joint Press Conference, or if he does not mention it, I am hoping the press will ask about it during the Q&A. Unfortunately, the Q&A is usually only about 3 questions from each country’s press (3 Questions from Japanese press, 3 questions from American Press). There’s almost no chance that the Japanese press will raise it, so let’s hope the US press will raise it within the context of their 3 allowed questions.

    Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Japanese Government, Media | 5 Comments »

    Mainichi: DPJ split over bill to give NJ permanent residents right to vote

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

    Here’s a little update on the current debate regarding granting local suffrage to PR holders. As ruling parties go, the Social Democrats led by Fukushima Mizuho support it, the (tiny) Kokumin Shintou led by Kamei Shizuka opposes it, and the DPJ itself (as usual) is split. No surprises there, but we’ll see how the cards fall if and when it’s brought to a vote. Of course, watching public policy being made is famously like watching sausages being made (you don’t want to know what goes into it), but the fact that the Cabinet in general supports it is telling. And enough people are feeling threatened by it that there is quite visible public protest (but I’ll get to that later), which is also telling (if people felt no threat of it actually coming to pass, they wouldn’t bother).

    My take is that whenever you have an opposition party in power (particularly a leftist one), you always have deep internal divisions, because the left in particular has trouble rallying around one issue. The right has it a lot easier: either rally around money issues (very clear cut), or else just keep the status quo (“there’s a good reason why things are the way they are, so if they ain’t broke…”). So the DPJ having divisions and mixed feelings about this is only natural — it’s par for the course on the political spectrum. Majority rules, anyway. So let people grouse about it for an adequate amount of time, and let’s see how the vote turns out.

    Posted in Human Rights, Japanese Politics, 日本語 | 5 Comments »

    Tangent: Korea Herald: Attitudes in Korea towards budget travelers: open up love hotels?

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

    In light of the recent discussion we’ve been having about Japanese hotels and some of their attitudes towards international travellers (many hotels refuse NJ or non-J speakers outright, claiming their lack of ability to provide service), contrast with the situation in Korea and one columnist’s proposal.

    KOREA HERALD: There’s been some talk about hotels and motels in the news recently, especially since Lee Charm, head of the Korea Tourism Organization, was criticized by a member of parliament for the country’s failure to provide budget accommodation to international travelers. One English-language paper indirectly quoted the lawmaker as saying “the nation is helpless in the face of the aggressive invasion of foreign budget hotels” and then said that one reason Korea can’t attract and keep foreign tourists is because accommodation is unsatisfactory…

    An option I’ve always enjoyed is motels. You’ll rarely find information about them in English, but they’re certainly popular among Koreans – one recent estimate said there are 31,000 – and the newer ones are clean, conveniently-located, nicely-equipped, and a fraction of the cost of a tourist hotel…

    This means international tourists must rely on the few tourist hotels that have English, Chinese or Japanese-language webpages, the few places that will show up on an internet search. These places are often two or three times as expensive as a motel room, though, and often not as nice. Amenities are frequently old, dirty, and disappointing. Guests often book rooms under the assumption that the hotel is in a convenient location, but arrive to find it’s in the middle of nowhere or in a seedy neighborhood. Likewise foreign-language travel websites will advertise restaurants, bakeries, and bars on the premises, though those who have seen the hotels in person will find no such features.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Practical advice, Tangents | 10 Comments »

    TODAY show (USA) on Savoie Child Abduction Case: father Chris’s treatment by J police, return to US, aftermath

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

    The Today Show (USA) has an update on the Savoie Child Abduction Case from the perspective of left-behind father Christopher Savoie, notably his treatment in Japanese police custody and how he is, in his words, “dead to my kids”. FYI.

    Posted in Child Abductions, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media | 28 Comments »

    CONTEST FOR READERS: Submit Blog/RSS logo for Debito.org?

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

    Although Debito.org has been purely a solo effort since 1997 (I’ve archived and blogged all the many thousands of articles and posts (even those guest-written by outside contributors), read and approved each of the 10,000-plus comments here, and kept all the records alive on Google for free access for all), I’ve been told that just putting my photo up on iTunes would probably look less appealing (no wonder) than a really smart-looking logo.

    This is where you come in. Those who have a yen for graphic design, would you please consider making a Blog/RSS image, meaning a square logo that captures, in your opinion, the essence of Debito.org?

    The size that is mandatory for iTunes is 300 x 300 pixels (with a second version I have to shrink down to 144 x 144 pixels, which I can do on my iPhoto easily). So it’s pretty small, not much detail. It can include words or not, graphics or not, as you please. Please send as a reproduceable graphics file (not pdf, and jpg is best)

    But I’d like to open this up to anyone who’d like to submit (debito@debito.org, email subject line “DEBITO.ORG logo submission”). Due date Tuesday November 17, 10PM JST. Please also include the name you’d like to be called as a submitter. I’ll have the best submissions up here on Debito.org later on. Thanks.

    Posted in debito.org blog and website biz, Podcasts | 2 Comments »

    Mutantfrog’s Joe Jones’s excellent discussion of rights and wrongs of divorce in Japan; causes stark conclusions for me

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

    I often stop by an excellent website run by some young-Turk commentators on Japan called Mutantfrog. Full of insight and well-thought-out essays, one caught my eye a few weeks ago regarding what the Savoie Child Abduction Case has brought to the fore about divorce in Japan. It made me draw some harsh conclusions. Here they are:

    NOBODY SHOULD GET MARRIED AND HAVE CHILDREN UNDER THE CURRENT MARRIAGE LAWS AND FAMILY REGISTRATION SYSTEM IN JAPAN.

    NOT JAPANESE. NOT NON-JAPANESE. NOT ANYONE.

    Because if people marry and have kids, one parent will lose them, meaning all legal ties, custody rights, and visitation rights, in the event of a divorce. This is not good for the children.

    Japan has had marriage laws essentially unamended since 1898! (See Fuess, Divorce in Japan) Clearly this does not reflect a modern situation, and until this changes people should go Common-Law (also not an option in Japan), and make it clear to their representatives that Japan’s current legal situation is not family-friendly enough for them to tie the knot.

    Some reforms necessary:

    Abolition of the Koseki Family Registration system (because that is what makes children property of one parent or the other, and puts NJ at a huge disadvantage).

    Recognize Visitation Rights (menkai ken) for both parents during separation and after divorce.

    Recognize Joint Custody (kyoudou kango ken) after divorce.

    Enforce the Hague Convention on Child Abductions and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    Enforce overseas custody court decisions in Japanese courts.

    Recognize “Irreconcilable Differences” (seikaku no fuitchi) as grounds for divorce.

    Shorten legal separation (bekkyo) times from the current benchmark of around five years to one or two.

    Stock the Mediation Councils (choutei) with real professionals and trained marriage counselors (not yuushikisha (“people with awareness”), who are essentially folks off the street with no standardized credentials).

    Strengthen Family Court powers to enforce contempt of court for perjury (lying is frequent in divorce proceedings and currently essentially unpunishable), and force police to enforce court orders involving restraining orders and domestic violence (Japanese police are disinclined to get involved in family disputes).

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Child Abductions, Discussions, History, Human Rights | 5 Comments »

    “Japanese speakers only” Kyoto exclusionary hotel stands by its rules, says it’s doing nothing unlawful

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

    As is my wont, I don’t like to leave exclusionary business practices alone. Even if that means letter writing and cajoling people to cease a bad habit. What gets me is when even cajoling doesn’t work, and the cajoled turns uncharacteristically rude towards a paying customer. Then I get mad.

    Background: Last October, I attended a writers’ conference in Kyoto, and discovered that even in September just about all hotels in Kyoto were booked (it was approaching peak fall color season). The only one left was a place in Fushimi that advertised online that they refused anyone who could not speak Japanese. This is, by the way, contrary to the Hotel Management Law (Ryokan Gyouhou, which can only refuse customers if all rooms are taken, or if there is a health or a “public morals” problem).

    I tried to vote with my feet and find alternative accommodation, but wound up having no choice, and made the reservation with the Fushimi place. I did, however, the night before going down, find last-minute alternative accommodations at an unexclusionary hotel (at more than double the price). Then I paid in cash by post to the Fushimi place the sizeable cancellation fee for the last-minute switch.

    But I also enclosed a handwritten letter telling them why I cancelled, expressing my discontent with the rule that people would be refused for a lack of Japanese language ability (what with this tourist town, there are always ways to communicate — including speaking electronic dictionaries; how does one judge sufficient “language abilities”? and what about deaf or mute Japanese? etc. etc.). I also asked them to repeal this exclusionary rule, pointing out that it was an unlawful practice.

    I got a rude reply back. Without addressing me by name, I got a terse letter without any of the formal aisatsu or written tone that a customer-client relationship in this society would warrant. It also included further spurious insinuated logic that since they couldn’t speak any foreign languages, this business open to the public was somehow not bound to provide service to the general public. They also categorically denied that their rules are unlawful, coupled with the presumptuous claim that since they didn’t refuse me it was odd for me to feel any disfavor with their system. And more. In other words, thanks for your money, but we can do as we please, so sod you.

    Now I’m mad. I sent this exchange off yesterday with a handwritten note to the Kyoto City Government Department of Tourism and the Kyoto Tourist Association, advising them to engage in some Administrative Guidance. The latter organization has already told me that they are a private-sector institution, and that since this hotel is not one of their members they have no influence in this situation. And if the city does get back to me (I’ve done this sort of thing before; government agencies in Japan have even abetted “Japanese Only” hotels), I’ll be surprised. But I’m not letting this nasty place slide without at least notifying the authorities. This is just one more reason why we need a law against racial discrimination.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 44 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 9, 2009

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

    Table of Contents:
    YET EVEN MORE ON CHILD ABDUCTIONS
    1) 22 US Senators sign letter for Obama to address Child Abductions Issue during Japan visit
    2) AOL on Child Abductions and child retriever Gus Zamora, letter to Debito.org from Gus
    3) Open Letter to Pres. Obama re Nov 12 Japan Visit and Child Abductions from Left-Behind Parent
    4) Sauce for the gander: Czech national abducts his child of J-NJ marriage; MOFA “powerless w/o Hague”

    UNFINISHED BUSINESS
    5) Ichihashi Tatsuya, suspect in Hawker murder, according to NPA has new face after plastic surgery
    6) Japan Focus: Lawrence Repeta on DPJ and Ministry of Justice: fundamental reforms at last?
    7) NYT on South Korea dealing with racism: Prosecutors spring into action. Contrast.
    8 ) Greg Goodmacher’s EFL textbook on NJ issues: Why aren’t there more like these?
    9) Asahi and Mainichi: J Supreme Court rules against Nationality Clause for employment in judiciary

    BLOWBACK
    10) NHK’s lingering bias favoring the opposition LDP. Anyone else noticing this?
    11) Eyewitness report of Shinjuku’s overreaction to NJ Hallowe’en revelers on Yamanote
    12) Fallout from “The Cove”: TV’s “South Park” takes on Japan’s dolphin slaughters and whale hunts

    SOME STUFF I’M GETTING UP TO
    13) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST OCTOBER 31, 2009
    14) My Thurs Nov 5, Sapporo Gakuin Dai speech “Legal Equality for NJ Residents” (download Japanese Powerpoint)
    15) “Lifer” Cartoon in SAPPORO SOURCE: “Things to do in Hokkaido”
    16) New Debito.org Poll: “What are the TOP THREE things you think the DPJ should do policywise for NJ in Japan?”

    … and finally …

    17) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column: “Demography vs. Demagoguery” (full text)

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Sauce for the gander: Czech national abducts his child of J-NJ marriage; MOFA “powerless w/o Hague”

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

    Finally we have the turnabout that I bet will precipitate Japan signing the Hague. A Czech father has reportedly abducted his child out of Japan, and the MOFA says it is powerless since Japan is not a party to the Hague Treaty on Child Abductions. Well, sauce for the gander, isn’t it?

    Two things I find interesting about this case is 1) the MOFA is reportedly working to try and get the child back (contrast with the USG, which recently wouldn’t even open the front gates of one of its consulates to three of its citizens), and 2) once again, the same reporting agency (Kyodo) omits data depending on language, see articles below. It claims in Japanese that (as usual) the NJ husband was violent towards the J wife (in other words, it takes the claim of the wife at face value; how unprofessional), and neglects to mention that in English. Heh. Gotta make us Japanese into victims again.

    Anyway, if this will get Japan to sign the Hague, great. Problem is, as usual, I see it being enforced at this point to get J kids back but never return them overseas (since the J authorities aren’t going to give more rights to foreigners than they give their own citizens, who lose their kids after divorce due to the koseki system, anyway). But I guess I’m being just a little too cynical. I hope.

    Posted in Child Abductions, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., 日本語 | 11 Comments »

    Ichihashi Tatsuya, suspect in Hawker murder, according to NPA has new face after plastic surgery

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

    In probably one of the most embarrassing criminal investigation bungles in recent memory, the prime suspect in the Lindsay Ann Hawker murder case, Ichihashi Tatsuya, is still at large after closing in on three years since he gave the slip to cops who knocked on his apartment door.

    Recent reports are that he has probably had cosmetic surgery and has a new face. Here are the mug shots. What gets me is that he can’t be on the lam this long without some sort of financial support. Rumors abound (from temporary work in construction to doing tricks for the gay community; all apocryphal), but his family denies that they are supporting him. I find that especially hard to believe now that he’s undergone very expensive cosmetic surgery.

    Like Ichihashi, keep your eyes peeled, everyone. Let’s get this suspect in jug where he can answer a battery of questions about his whereabouts and motives for the past few years.

    Posted in Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 39 Comments »

    Greg Goodmacher’s EFL textbook on NJ issues: Why aren’t there more like these?

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

    For a Sunday Tangent, I introduce the book below by Greg Goodmacher. I have no financial stake, don’t worry. Just wanted to point out that there is a book out there in the education sector which has information on NJ issues.

    I think there should be more like these. After all, if MOE isn’t going to help with assimilation by approving books that toe the monocultural “Japan is unique” line (not to mention deny ethnic schools official approval as education entities, so their NJ students can’t get subsidies and student discounts), then we international residents who write and sell books should inject multiculturalism into the private sector textbook market. Hey, what’s being taught below is not unkosher, and thinking about the inevitability of Japan immigration (a tenet Debito.org subscribes to wholeheartedly, natch) is actually a very good thing to get young people thinking about.

    NJ textbook writers in Japan, get cracking. Educate people. Promote Japan’s future as a multicultural multiethnic society

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Education, Immigration & Assimilation | 5 Comments »

    22 US Senators signed letter for Obama to address Child Abductions Issue during Japan visit

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

    We reported on this on October 30, but back then only two US Senators had signed. Now as of November 5, 22 US Senators have signed a letter for Obama to address Child Abductions Issue during his Japan visit. Three scanned pages follow.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Child Abductions, Gaiatsu | 3 Comments »

    AOL on Child Abductions and child retriever Gus Zamora, letter to Debito.org from Gus

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

    AOL: Say you marry someone and you have children. You get divorced. There’s a custody battle. You win. Your ex-spouse refuses to accept the decision. He or she takes the children and flees overseas to a country that doesn’t recognize your custody rights.

    What do you do?

    This is not a hypothetical question for thousands of parents who go through this exact scenario every year. Their options are limited.

    One option, however, is Gus Zamora…

    LETTER FROM GUS HIMSELF: In response to a recent post on the Internet regarding “Snatchback” in The Atlantic Monthly I felt it was important for people to know what I do and what my real success rate is. The world of International Parental Abduction is a place I have spent the last Eighteen years. I have assisted parents in over 200 cases. Fifty-five children have been returned to their custodial parent with my guidance. Three of which were successful recoveries from Japan.

    In addition to the fifty-five recoveries, I have also worked on twenty to twenty five cases that were resolved through mediation, Hague convention applications, media involvement, international law enforcement involvement and negotiations directly with the abductors. Zamora and Associates is presently involved in several cases in Japan, both in and out of Japanese courts.

    Posted in Child Abductions, Injustice, Practical advice | 2 Comments »

    Japan Focus: Lawrence Repeta on DPJ and Ministry of Justice: fundamental reforms at last?

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

    Repeta: The landslide victory of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in parliamentary elections held on August 30, 2009 is likely to result in policy change in many areas. There seems little doubt that we will see a very different approach to calibrating the balance between police power and individual rights.

    One of the more startling appointments to the new Cabinet is that of Yokohama lawyer Chiba Keiko to be Minister of Justice. The authority of the Ministry is great, with responsibility to enforce criminal laws, protect individual rights, manage the immigration system, and generally oversee the legal system itself, including preparation and review of draft legislation. Ms. Chiba’s appointment should result in a sharp change in policy. She brings with her a history of more than two decades in the Diet in which she opposed nearly all LDP initiatives related to Ministry operations…

    If there was any doubt on this score, she wiped it away in formal comments released on September 16, the day the new Cabinet took office. In her first message to the nation as Minister, Chiba declared that her mission is to help build a society that respects human rights and a judicial system that is “close to the people” (kokumin ni mijika na shiho). To achieve this, she listed three specific steps. First is the establishment of a new human rights agency. Second is ratification of so-called “Optional Protocols” to human rights treaties. Third is creating transparency in criminal interrogations…

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics | 12 Comments »

    New Debito.org Poll: “What are the TOP THREE things you think the DPJ should do policywise for NJ in Japan? (choose up to 3)”

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

    In part two of a series polling what the new DPJ Administration should do regarding making life in Japan better for NJ residents, I have offered a second Debito.org poll at top right column, “What are the TOP THREE things you think the DPJ should do policywise for NJ in Japan? (choose up to 3)”, with some choices you might find delectable.

    It offers the same options in the same order as the previous poll (archived here, and you can still vote on that, too), except that one only wanted the polled to chose ONE option (since politicians have trouble working on more than one than one track at a time). Now with THREE choices, we should be able to see better overlaps and midpoints, and perhaps get a better sense of what concerned readers of Debito.org think the GOJ should do for us. G’wan, let us know what you think!

    Posted in Blog Polls | 23 Comments »

    Open Letter to Pres. Obama re Nov 12 Japan Visit and Child Abductions from Left-Behind Parent

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

    Conclusion: When you meet with Prime Minister Hatoyama, please remind him of his statements. There is no need to wait another two years to implement the rights Japan agreed to uphold when they became signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Please walk right up to Mr. Hatoyama, look him squarely in the eye, and tell him non-custodial parents must have immediate access to their children. Let the Japanese Government know that there is no room for negotiation. Please uphold both parental and children’s fundamental human rights. The Lord knows I have done about all I can. I have fought inside and outside of Japanese Courts with everything I’ve have left. I’ve been jailed, placed in solitary confinement, and stripped of all my assets for trying be a father.

    Mr. President, like so many other left behind parents, I pray every night to see my children for years. Please use your office and your voice to make this happen. There are so many parents who have renewed hopes since you have taken office. When you come to Japan for talks with the Japanese Government please make this issue an important part of the discussion. YES WE CAN!

    Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Japanese Government | No Comments »

    NYT on South Korea dealing with racism: Prosecutors spring into action. Contrast.

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

    NYT: On the evening of July 10, Bonogit Hussain, a 29-year-old Indian man, and Hahn Ji-seon, a female Korean friend, were riding a bus near Seoul when a man in the back began hurling racial and sexist slurs at them.

    The situation would be a familiar one to many Korean women who have dated or even — as in Ms. Hahn’s case — simply traveled in the company of a foreign man.

    What was different this time, however, was that, once it was reported in the South Korean media, prosecutors sprang into action, charging the man they have identified only as a 31-year-old Mr. Park with contempt, the first time such charges had been applied to an alleged racist offense. Spurred by the case, which is pending in court, rival political parties in Parliament have begun drafting legislation that for the first time would provide a detailed definition of discrimination by race and ethnicity and impose criminal penalties.

    COMMENT: Well, how about that. First South Korea does away with its hojeok family registry system in 2007 (the similar koseki system, still extant in Japan, causes a lot of difficulties for NJ). This after it passes a law in 2005 with provisions against some forms of racial discrimination, such as against Koreans with mixed parentage. Now, according to the NYT below, they’re charging people in court with racism and drafting laws against it, even protecting at least one person with no blood connection to Korea. Dunno how thoroughly this is being enforced, but given the cultural similarities (and attitudes towards outsiders), it SK can do it, I daresay it’s not impossible for Japan. The discriminatory conditions described below sound eerily similar at times.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Tangents | 16 Comments »

    Speaking tomorrow, Thurs Nov 5, Sapporo Gakuin Dai 「法の下の平等と在住外国人」

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

    Speaking in Japanese tomorrow, FYI, at Sapporo Gakuin.
    Thursday November 5, 2009 1PM. 札幌学院大学法学部公開講座リレー講義「人権・共生・人間の尊重 あらためてその理念と現実を考える」第7回「法の下の平等と在住外国人」。札幌学院大学D202教室にて。
    Flyer and Powerpoint included in this blog entry.

    Posted in Education, Exclusionism, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Practical advice, Speech materials, United Nations, 日本語 | No Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column: “Demography vs. Demagoguery”

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

    Japan Times column: Thus “immigration,” like “racial discrimination” (JBC, June 2), has become another taboo topic. One must not mention it by name, especially if you represent a government-funded think tank.

    Then, when you have whole branches of government studiously ignoring the issue (even though last June the Health Ministry proposed training for companies to hire more foreigners, the former Aso Cabinet wouldn’t consider immigration as one of its top five priority plans), we can but say that the ostrich is in full burrow mode.

    This is why I’m having trouble seeing any public policy — from the Nikkei workers being bribed to go home after two decades of contributions, to the proposed imports of Indonesian and Philippine nurses — as anything more than yet another “active use of the foreign working labor population.” Or, more honestly put, programs exploiting revolving-door employment regimes.

    How seriously can we continue to tempt foreigners with the promise of a life in Japan in exchange for the best years of their labor productivity, only to revoke their livelihoods and pension contributions at the first opportunity, blaming globalization’s vicissitudes?

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Education, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 6 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG PODCAST OCTOBER 31, 2009

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

    In this edition of the Debito.org Podcast, Debito reads three of his JUST BE CAUSE Japan Times columns. His first three, published nearly two years ago, are on the image of activists in Japan, on how public forums in Japan regarding human rights keep spinning their wheels, and on how academics should also get into activism in a show of “academic social responsibility”. This is his first podcast in nearly two years. For those who would rather listen to Debito.org during your exercise or commute than read it online, enjoy.

    Posted in Podcasts | 3 Comments »

    NHK’s lingering bias favoring the opposition LDP. Anyone else noticing this?

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

    Just a short essay for today. Has anyone noticed how NHK still reports as if the LDP is in power?

    It’s been a month and a half since the DPJ assumed office, the first real bona fide party in Japan’s modern, developed, postwar history to actually offer a change of perspective and an alternative opposition. They keep surprising me with both their proposals and their competence so far.

    But you wouldn’t get that impression from watching NHK. Yesterday morning’s 7AM news (Nov 2, 2009) had a smidge on the DPJ’s latest policy move, but then had a citation from former cabinet member (who nearly was booted out this election from my local electorate, Ebetsu, and had to be brought back in as a Proportional Representation “Zombie” Dietmember) Machimura Nobutaka, mentioned by name, offering a counterargument seemingly nearly as long as the airtime given the LDP. Who is he to comment and why should anyone, particularly NHK, care?

    I’ve seen this time and time again on NHK, supposedly neutral — or at least pro-government. Which means it should be promoting the DPJ’s view now that it is the government. But that’s not happening. NHK, to me, seems to be treating our current government as if it’s an aberration, a lull or momentary lapse of reason before the LDP gets back in.

    I’m not alone in this view…

    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media | 13 Comments »

    Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column tomorrow, Tues Nov 3, on how politics has infected J demographic science

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

    Just a quick heads up for those in the big big cities to get a copy of the Japan Times off their newsstand tomorrow. My next JUST BE CAUSE column will be on Japan’s demographic science: How politics is interfering with analysis, making any official consideration of immigration as a possible factor a taboo topic. That’s tomorrow, Tues November 3 (Weds in the provinces), Japan Times.

    Posted in Articles & Publications | 3 Comments »

    Asahi and Mainichi: J Supreme Court rules against Nationality Clause for employment in judiciary

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

    In probably one of the most important legal decisions all year, the Supreme Court has ruled that the “Nationality Clause” (kokuseki joukou), often cited as a reason for barring NJ from administrative (and often, even stable noncontracted) jobs in the public sector, has been scrapped. I’m not sure if that means it’s been ruled “unconstitutional”, but the clause in the Mainichi below, (“The citizenship requirement was eliminated because the courts could be seen as denying employment based solely on the question of citizenship,” the court stated.) could reasonably be stretched in future cases to say that barring NJ from jobs (currently allowed in places such as firefighting and food preparation, and also in Tokyo Prefecture for nursing) should not be permitted. That would be excellent news for the long-suffering NJ academics in Japan’s higher-education system of Academic Apartheid.

    Posted in Good News, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Lawsuits, 日本語 | 10 Comments »

    Eyewitness report of Shinjuku’s overreaction to NJ Hallowe’en revelers on Yamanote

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

    Shinjuku JR minami-guchi, where, in previous years, hundreds halloweeners had gathered to start the party on a specific train of the Yamanote line. This year, there were

    – at least two hundred cops all over the station.

    – several dozen of cops inside, blocking the staircase leading to the Shibuya direction platform

    – cops blocking every costumed person from entering the station

    – per every stop of the Yamanote, there were at least half a dozen cops on the platform

    – in the train, there was at least three different Japanese with video cameras with the specific purpose of documenting gaijin atrocities

    – and a premier for this year, there were at least more than 100 PROTESTERS outside the kaisatsu…

    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 39 Comments »

    Sunday Tangent: SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO Column on the power of humor and how it preserves sanity

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

    Time for a Sunday Tangent. My latest tangental column in SAPPORO SOURCE — not on human rights, but on humor. And the power it has over us. Excerpt:

    Humor is a funny thing. Nobody can exactly define what a “joke” is, why something is “funny”, or how one develops or cultivates a “sense of humor”. But we all know its effects.

    Humor, as you know, causes that wonderful instant reaction where you lose control of yourself — and emit a smile if not a full-on loud laugh. The longer you laugh, the better you feel. It is a catharsis.

    You can tell when somebody’s been under a lot of stress lately when they laugh long and loud even at the lamest joke. Why? Like a volcano erupting, laughter releases the toxins of stress that build up in this modern world.

    But it goes beyond that. Consider the power humor has over us…

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Humor, Tangents | 2 Comments »