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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Just a quick word to let you know that 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! Debito in Sapporo

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

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Hi Blog.  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:
debitopodcast

“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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Listen here:

[display_podcast]

or subscribe via iTunes (search term: debito.org)

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  As a Sunday Tangent, let me express some long-overdue dissatisfaction with an organization that I gave a presentation to quite some time ago.

The Osaka-based Japan Law Society (AKA Kansai Attorneys Registered Abroad) invited me to speak for them on September 4, 2008.   I did just that.  According to their website: http://www.gaiben.jp/jls/cle/s

September 4, 2008 Non-Japanese Residents and the Japanese Legal System: Cognitive Dissonances to Consider Arudo, Prof. Debito (David Ardwinckle) [sic] speaker’s home page Constitutional & Civil Rights

I spent a number of days on my powerpoint (see it here) and my handout (see it here), staying a couple of days in an Osaka dive hotel at my own expense working on it.  I tried to make a seminar worthy of overseas educational credit (which is what their Continuing Legal Education program is about, see FOOTNOTE below; I have emails indicating that they applied for it, and they had me fill out an application for it).  Thus I believe people would pay money for this class if it were offered overseas.

But after I gave the presentation, I was paid not a sou.  This was not made suitably clear to me in advance, and when I inquired about this situation last month, this is the exchange we had.  I sent:

2009/10/29 Arudou Debito wrote:
To jls@gaiben.jp
Tokyo Coordinator Ms. Akane Yoshida Licensed in New York
Legal Department Kao Corporation
Tel: 03-3660-7049 Fax: 03-3660-7942 tokyo@gaiben.jp
Email: yoshida.akane@kao.co.jp

CLE Coordinator
Mr. S. McIntire ALLEN (源 眞久)
California Bar License #210750 & New York Bar License #2785913 Not licensed in Japan
phone +81-(0)50-5806-8816 or +1 (310) 929-7256 facsimile: +81-(0)6-6131-6347 mobile: +81-(0)90-5469-7675
voice/video: minamoto@gaiben.jp Skype gaikokubengoshi
cle@gaiben.jp mobile@mcintire.jp
www.mcintire.jp

To Whom it May Concern

My name is Arudou Debito, and I spoke for the CLE on September 4, 2008 on “Non-Japanese Residents and the Japanese Legal System: Cognitive Dissonances to Consider”. Record is on your website at
http://www.gaiben.jp/jls/cle/s

I apologize for the lateness of this letter, but I have been checking over my records recently, and I have yet to receive payment for costs (transportation, accommodation) or for speaking honorarium for this occasion.

Please contact me at your earliest convenience how much we have outstanding, and I will send you remittance details.

Thanks very much for your attention.
Arudou Debito in Sapporo

(debito@debito.org)

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

Their response:

From: “S. McIntire ALLEN”
Date: October 29, 2009 5:46:36 PM JST
To: Arudou Debito
Cc: yoshida.akane@kao.co.jp, tokyo@gaiben.jp
Subject: Re: To Japan Law Society: Some unfinished business from September 2008, from Arudou Debito

David:

From the very beginning we explained more than once that there was no honorarium, and you acknowledged that in a phone conversation with me when asking me about where to find inexpensive accommodations. I told you we are a volunteer organization, and you were our second speaker ever, and we had a negative balance in the accounts. I don’t know where you got this idea that we would reimburse you for travel.

As a consequence of you bad mouthing us on your home page, we do have a questionnaire now that enables us to have a record of the speakers acknowledgement that there will be no payment: http://www.gaiben.jp/jls/cle/spkr.

Regards,
McIntire

S. McIntire ALLEN (源 眞久)
California Bar License #210750 & New York Bar License #2785913 Not licensed in Japan
www.mcintire.jp
Sent from Osaka, 27, Japan

More fool me, you might say, for accepting this invitation. But quite honestly, I have never given a speech in Japan where there was no remuneration whatsoever. Even those organizations who said it was “volunteer” paid me 5000 yen in travel expenses without telling me in advance.  It’s common practice in this society.  It’s what professionals do.

Moreover, lawyers are not a profession short of money.  Quite a few people attended the presentation (it was even video simulcast), and when I told a couple of them (including Japan Times reporter Eric Johnston, who also attended) I never got paid, they were quite shocked.  Even they said that it would have not put them out to chip in something like 1000 yen as an entry fee.

The biggest irony here is that we’re talking about lawyers.  They’re quite willing to sell their services to the highest bidder.  But it appears that some of them aren’t willing to pay for the services that will further the interests of their organization, and their own professional and educational experience and credentials.

Mr Allen even contacted me for research purposes on July 10, 2009, and about a separate legal matter on July 12, 2009 (which I will keep confidential), despite all this.  I declined to answer.

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.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

FOOTNOTE about CLE credit being applied for via using volunteer professional help:

From:  http://www.gaiben.jp/jls/cle

JLS presents low-cost CLEs connected by video teleconference between Osaka and Tokyo. The CLEs permit Japan practitioners to exchange experiences in an informal setting.

Credit

JLS is an approved Multiple Provider under the auspices of the California Bar Association. Please check with your jurisdiction to see if they accept credit for CLEs approved by California, or the California Multiple Provider Rules. If you are licensed in a jurisdiction other than California, and you have information about your jurisdiction’s CLE recognition, or lack of recognition, of California CLE credits, please send that information to the CLE Coordinator so we can post the information on the Accreditation page so that other JLS members may easily find the information. Please indicate the source for your information.
California calculates credit based on 60 minutes of class time per hour.  Some jurisdictions, such as New York, accept 50 minutes of class time to qualify for one credit hour.  For instance, a two hour JLS CLE could be worth 2.4 hours of CLE credit in a 50 minute jurisdiction.  California attorneys participating in Japan in a CLE accredited by a 50 minute jurisdiction are permitted to claim a 50 minute hour of instruction as one hour of credit.  However, JLS CLEs are accredited by the Bar of California, so all credit hours must have one hour of instruction time.  Please check with your jurisdiction if you have questions about accreditation.

ENDS

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

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Hi Blog.  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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Municipalities calls for gov’t agency to help foreigners
Kyodo News/Japan Today Friday 27th November
, courtesy of John, Aly and others
http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/municipalities-calls-for-establishing-govt-agency-for-foreigners

TOKYO — Representatives from Japanese municipalities holding a large number of foreign residents called for the central government Thursday to set up a new agency aimed at improving the livelihoods of foreign people living in the country.

The proposal by a group of 28 municipalities in seven prefectures said they have recognized the need for the government to create such an entity so that foreign people in Japan would be better off at a time of economic difficulties. They also proposed that foreigners have the same rights and responsibilities as Japanese nationals and make it mandatory for children with foreign nationality to attend schools in Japan.

ENDS

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

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Hi Blog.  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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

///////////////////////////////////////////////////
No. of immigrants applying for repatriation aid hit 16,000 by mid-Nov
Japan Today/Kyodo News Tuesday 24th November,
Courtesy of AW
http://japantoday.com/category/national/view/no-of-immigrants-applying-for-repatriation-aid-hit-16000-by-mid-nov

TOKYO — The number of immigrants of Japanese descent who had applied for government repatriation aid since the program began in April had reached roughly 16,000 by mid-November, welfare ministry officials said Monday. The bulk of the applicants were Japanese-Brazilian workers whose limited-time contracts with manufacturers have been terminated and their families, the officials said.

While around 370,000 immigrants of Japanese descent from Latin America, including Peru and Brazil, were estimated to be living in Japan as of the end of last year, about 40,000 to 50,000 are believed to have returned home at their own expense. The repatriation aid program is expected to finish at the end of the current fiscal year next March, after only a year, amid cost-cutting efforts by the administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

ENDS

UPDATE:  As commenter Jeff notes below, note the wording of “about 40,000 to 50,000 are believed to have returned home at their own expense” in the second paragraph above.  Even the media is complicit in defining potential immigrants as outsiders, with the assumption of Japan not being their “home”  That’s how deep this problem runs.  (And, for the record, even I didn’t pick that out when I first posted.  Silly me.)

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  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 (so you can see contents and ISBN; click to enlarge in browser).  And then the English translation of the chapter follows in full afterwards for your reference.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

SCANNED IMAGES, THEN ENGLISH VERSION OF CHAPTER FOLLOW (FULL TEXT)

diasporabook001

diasporabook002

diasporabook003
CHAPTER BEGINS

People of an Empire: The “American Diaspora”

By Jens Wilkinson and Arudou Debito

ジェンズ・ウィルキンソン/有道出人(あるどう でびと)

Three Japanese scientists have won this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics for their pioneering theory on elementary particles (ノーベル物理学賞:益川教授ら日本人3氏に授与)

Mainichi Shimbun (Japan), October 7, 2008

Japanese win Nobel Prize: 2 particle scientists share 2008 prize with Japan-born American

Corrected headline for English-language readers, Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan), October 8, 2008

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.

To begin, there are four inherent difficulties with the idea of a Diaspora itself. The first is the matter of defining “Diaspora”, the second is whether Americans constitute a “people” under any “Diaspora”, the third is whether the United States is a “homeland”, and the fourth is whether Americans actually emigrate while retaining an identity as “Americans”.

First, a matter of definition.  A “Diaspora” is normally understood as a large movement of “people” out of their “homeland,” due to some force that pushes them abroad. This is certainly true of the “original” Diaspora, the Jews, who were scattered because their homeland of Palestine was conquered by the Babylonians and later the Romans. They had no desire to leave, but were forced to do so by current circumstances. However, applying this to Americans, Americans abroad are not being pushed abroad by some force, such as war, famine, political unrest, etc., making it difficult to conceive of an American Diaspora in that sense.

So for the purposes of this paper, let us create two definitions of Diaspora: one the traditional Diaspora (元ダアスポラ) using a stricter definition involving emigration by economic or political refugees, and a second, new form of Diaspora (新ダアスポラ), which simply involves a large movement of immigrants abroad, due to less dramatic reasons such as international labor migration, but who remain linked by ethnicity.

Even adopting the looser definition (新ダアスポラ), three issues arise when discussing an American Diaspora, and we will devote this paper to developing this idea. To repeat: Do citizens of the United States constitute a “people” in the sense used in the definitions above? Second, does the United States constitute a “homeland” for these people? And finally, do the people of the United States emigrate while retaining an identity as Americans?

1. Are the People of the United States a People?

To answer this question, it is worth looking at the headlines quoted in the introduction above from two Japanese newspapers. These headlines demonstrate that the Japanese media is willing to claim a “Japanese” as part of its Diaspora, even when a Japan-born “Japanese” (in this case, Yoichiro Nambu) has lived outside of Japan since 1952, worked in an American university for 40 years, and taken American citizenship in 1970 and, we assume, has given up his Japanese (it is not permitted, under Japanese law, to keep Japanese citizenship after naturalization). By most measures, such a person would no longer be “Japanese” except by dint of birth; even in terms of “ethnicity”, people with Japanese roots overseas are generally classified as Nikkei (of Japanese descent) not Nihonjin (Japanese). Yet, like the hometown boy who is celebrated when he does good (or disowned when he does bad), Japan will still claim him as a Japanese, especially when there is a Nobel Prize involved.

However, would the opposite be true? What if an American were to move to Japan, take Japanese citizenship, and give up his American citizenship for a life in Japan? It has happened. Both authors of this paper have lived in Japan for about half their lives, and one (Arudou Debito) has given up his American for Japanese citizenship. In the unlikely event that Arudou ever won a Nobel Prize, would the United States (or the author himself) similarly claim to still be an “American”? In the case of the Japanese Nobel laureate, this could be possible, since “Japanese” is seen as an ethnicity as well as a nationality. But is “American” an ethnicity, or just a nationality?

To illustrate this further, we might consider the issue of “hyphenated Americans.” Americans often call themselves Asian-American, African-American, German-American or English-American, though in most cases there is of course a mixture. This acknowledgment of “roots,” or ethnic extraction, is common in American culture. What this implies is that even when they live in the United States, Americans seem to retain an identity to some other “people.”

And then, what happens when the descendant of an immigrant to America emigrates again? Would an Italian-American immigrating to Japan consider herself part of an Italian Diaspora in the United States, or part of an American Diaspora in Japan?

This is the fundamental problem when asking whether Americans are a “people”. Any definition of a Diaspora requires a “people” to be part of it, and this sense “people” (as in Jews, Armenians, Chinese etc.) typically translates as “ethnicity”. However, with the exception of Native Americans, there is really no American “ethnicity” in itself. Americans are for the most part identified by a combination of other outside “ethnicities”.

However, Americans don’t determine “Americanness” by ethnicity. “American” is a legal status, meaning that anyone can become an American. Therefore, the borders of this “people” are unusually porous. Like many other formerly colonial countries, the United States adopts jus soli rather than jus sanguinis as a determinant of citizenship. So if anyone can become American, the historical need for ethnic ties become irrelevant.

This clearly signifies that being a full member of the American people is not something that is gained by heredity, as ethnicity would be, but rather something earned by being born in that place. So logically, a person would have to be born in the United States to be considered a full member of an American Diaspora. Thus, a person born abroad of American parents might no longer be considered a part of that Diaspora. But putting priority on birthplace instead of blood or ethnicity is clearly a contradiction of what the term Diaspora is normally understood to mean, meaning that the historical concept must be further modified if we are somehow to include Americans and other international migrants.

2. Is the United States a Homeland?

The second problem is that a Diaspora is supposed, according to the definition above, to entail a movement out of one’s “homeland.” For example, for the Jews, the Diaspora was without any doubt out of Palestine, their “homeland.” Similarly, during the “African Diaspora” caused by slavery, African peoples were forcibly taken from their “homeland” of Africa. Moreover, the Armenian Diaspora can be defined simply as the movement of Armenians out of Armenia. In addition, this historically has associated Diasporas (in the traditional sense) with refugee movements, as in migration due to economic or political compulsion.

Of course, in the American case it is hard to argue for the existence of many, if any, “refugees from America”. In an ever-shrinking world and a fluid international labor market, modern migration has not always meant immigration, because people often are neither compelled to leave home or to stay away permanently. Therefore, there is no 元ダアスポラ, since there is no real issue of “tragic history”.  How about Americans as a 新ダアスポラ, with a diaspora that has now become an issue of “one’s roots?

Even under this new definition, the United States presents conceptual difficulties. This may be an issue that plagues all former colonial countries, but America’s concept of “roots”, of a “homeland”, is somewhat ambiguous.

For example, and this relates to the question of whether Americans constitute a “people”, both the authors of this paper are of American birth, but of European extraction (Wilkinson is of mostly English and Swedish extraction, while Arudou’s ancestors came from Poland in the 1910s), and living in Asia. Hence, we are not certain if we should be considered members of a European Diaspora in the United States, or an American Diaspora in Asia! In a society such as Japan with relatively little historical immigration (particularly from developed countries), which is “home” for them, Japan or America? Is it a matter or “roots”, or a matter of “residence”? It brings us back to the original question posed earlier: How many steps from an “original” place “where you came from” over the generations can you be removed before membership in a Diaspora, or a “homeland”, is lost?

To complicate matters further, Americans tend to migrate abroad without immigrating, meaning that many eventually “go back home”. They are not the classic “Wandering Jews” destined to live and die outside the Holy Lands, and are more like people on a temporary leave from their society.

The Katrina “Diaspora”

Interestingly, there is a case where the word “Diaspora” has been used in the American media, even if Americans themselves tend not to see the movement abroad of other Americans as a Diaspora. It has been used to describe migration within America. Recently, the BBC reported thusly (“Katrina scatters a grim Diaspora”, By Will Walden, BBC News, in Baton Rouge, LA & Memphis, TN, 1 Sept. 2005) in reference to denizens of the city of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, moving out to escape the disaster’s devastation. In this case, the implication behind “diaspora” is that the people who escaped from the city of New Orleans were in fact “natives” of a city who were forced to live elsewhere, but who would eventually return to their “homeland.” Although our evidence is basically anecdotal, it could be partly that like many American cities, New Orleans is seen as a community with a special character of its own, as if New-Orleanians are a kind of “people” in themselves This is definitely stretching the term, but this indicates how the concept of “Diaspora” is mutating in English.

3. Do Americans Immigrate Abroad While Retaining an Identity as Americans?

So we come to the fourth issue, which involves looking at some statistics. Do Americans retain an identity as they emigrate abroad? Even if they do not constitute a traditional Diaspora, the United States is clearly a country with a huge number of citizens living  overseas. It is estimated that between 3.5 and 7 million American civilians, excluding military personnel and government employees, live abroad at any time. This figure, however, is surprisingly unverifiable. The American government does not assiduously track the movements of its citizens across borders (one only needs a valid US driver license to drive to and from Canada or Mexico), and the most accurate way seems to be the number of passport applications and renewals filed at embassies abroad. Thus, these figures are probably an underestimation.

In any case, the estimate of between 4 and 7.5 million souls is not a small number. If we assume 7.5 million, then there are only 12 states in the United States with higher populations. Even the lower figure of 4 million would make the American population abroad equivalent to Kentucky, a fairly average state. Thus, even if some people are only abroad for a few years before returning to the “homeland” or moving elsewhere, the sheer numbers of Americans abroad necessitate some word to describe their force as a “people” overseas, even if “Diaspora” may be hard to apply.

US military don’t count as a Diaspora

In addition to these civilians, there are approximately 400,000 military personnel stationed abroad at any time, as well as a smaller number of State Department personnel. What this means, therefore, is that an estimated 5% to 10% of Americans living abroad are doing so as members of US military, serving the American “Empire”. Defining “empire” for the purposes of this paper in the strictest sense (under the Latin imperium) we see the United States as “a state that extends dominion over populations distinct culturally and ethnically from the culture/ethnicity at the center of power.” Few countries nowadays project this much power, in terms of dispatched military might, overseas; so under this rubric, are the American military also to be considered “Diaspora”? Many of the soldiers themselves, and especially the people hosting American military bases, would no doubt disavow that label.

Of course, the US military is a major means for Americans to go abroad. The US is the dominant military power of the world today, with a budget and technological prowess to project power that dwarfs all the world’s militaries, coming far ahead of its nearest competitors, the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation. In contrast, however, the US military is generally used on a geopolitical (not domestic) basis. Soldiers domestically deployed are the National Guard (better known as “weekend warriors”), dispatched only in emergencies to keep order, not specifically invade or defend against outside attack. So the US military does not foster a “Diaspora”; in fact, there is no real US policy to encourage Americans to emigrate.

This is why one must make a distinction between military and non-military Americans overseas. While the US can be rightly called an empire, it would be better to use a term like “neo-empire.” The US is not on par with the Roman or British Empires. With some exceptions made for war zones and interim governments supported by the US military (such as Iraq and Afghanistan), there are no American governors abroad. And there are no, or very few, Americans outside of the military who receive any compensation from the “empire.” For the most part, non-military Americans abroad are on their own overseas (the US embassies and consulates only assist when formally asked), and they make up from 80% to 90% of the total number of Americans abroad.
Thus members of the military are only living abroad in a technical sense. They live and work outside of the US on bases, gated communities that are economically and politically self-sufficient, who are subject to U.S. laws under a Status of Forces Agreement with many countries. They still use US dollars as currency and avail themselves of the US Postal Service on base. In essence, these people are still living within the United States, and generally return to the US after their tour of duty is finished. American soldiers are, therefore, are not even a modern Diaspora. They are not “immigrants”.

Why do Americans emigrate?

So let us confine our analysis to the remaining 80 or 90 percent, who may in fact constitute a Diaspora.

Let’s begin by considering the reasons why Americans live abroad. Some are still “serving the Empire”, even if unconnected to the military. For example, the Peace Corps, an agency established in 1961 under President Kennedy as part of his vision for raising the image of the U.S. in the third world, is one organization where Americans go abroad to serve the interests of the US Government. There are other organizations as well, but this totals to approximately 8,000 volunteers working overseas, making up just a small percentage of the US government workers abroad, and just a quarter of one percent of the conservative figure of 4 million Americans outside America.

Essentially, then, most live outside the US for personal reasons. Students travel abroad to raise their own potential and gain experience of the outside world. After graduation, there are Americans (Mormons on a mission are the most famous example, but there are others) abroad for cultural exchange, most commonly to teach English language to people in different countries. There are academics whose field of work makes it easier to find a position abroad. Many businesspeople are sent abroad by companies to promote sales in overseas branches, serving business empires. Clearly, these are émigrés by choice, not part of a 元ダアスポラ as in refugees. Do they then count as 新ダアスポラ?

American communities abroad

So let us return to the definition of Diaspora in another respect: affiliation and connectivity. One attribute of a Diaspora would seem to be that members are “sticky”, in that they congregate together in foreign lands to preserve their nationality and culture. This can be seen to some extent when Diasporas live together in connected communities like “Chinatowns” or “Little Italies” or “Little Tokyos”. Do Americans abroad similarly congregate?

In general, they do not. There are in fact some American communities abroad but they are almost always closed communities, i.e. the abovementioned military bases, corporate, and diplomatic missions, and people living in such enclaves go home as soon as their tour of duty concludes. Few settle abroad and raise their children in a new environment.

Those outside of these communities, again, are on their own, and we have yet to come across a “Little New York” -style transplant community specifically geared to contain Americans (as opposed to enforced “foreign enclaves” for all non-nationals, in places such as Saudi Arabia) anywhere in the world. It is therefore difficult to see Americans as the culturally “sticky” people that might qualify even as a 新ダアスポラ.

Linking people by tax homes: “Taxed like an American”

One other interesting way to look at the phenomenon of Americans living abroad is the issue of taxation. What we have seen is that in many cases, Americans live abroad not as part of an organized movement but merely as a means to fulfill their own goals. This is odd from a nationalistic standpoint, because one would assume the United States would encourage its citizens to live abroad to serve the aims of the empire. One would also assume that in addition to the military, there would be programs in place to encourage Americans to move internationally and set up companies to benefit American interests. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Oddly enough, despite America’s international image, American citizens have a major disincentive to living overseas. Alone among the developed countries of the world, the U.S. imposes income taxes on its citizens living abroad.

The U.S. income tax was first established in 1913, and until the 1920s there was no taxation of Americans overseas. After that, however, Americans living abroad were subjected to taxation. To this day, Americans living abroad must pay taxes both to their country of current residence and to their country of passport. It is true that there is a “foreign income earned exemption”, but anyone earning more than $82,400 US dollars annually must pay both local and American taxes.

This discourages American companies from dispatching American employees to head local branches. One irony of this is that around the world, American Chambers of Commerce (not-for-profit commercial promotion organizations set up to promote American interests abroad) are getting rid of American directors and hiring local people to represent the interests of U.S. companies.

Americans abroad are naturally aware of these problems. Over the years, they have organized to change the government’s policy on this, as well as to push for voting rights (“U.S. expats fight their soaring tax burden”, By Brian Knowlton, International Herald Tribune, April 1, 2008). One example is the Alliance for a Competitive Tax Policy, which opposes double taxation. There have also been reports of Americans renouncing their citizenship because of the double taxation (“Tax Leads Americans Abroad to Renounce U.S.”, By Doreen Carjajal, New York Times, December 18, 2006).

This may be cited as evidence of how “sticky” Americans are in the sense of government ties, but again, just being taxed because you are American does not add up to being a Diaspora. Paying your dues to a government does not necessarily foster or even qualify as a “transplant community overseas”.

“Acting American”: Political activism abroad

Then there are the links to America fostered by voting rights. American citizens living abroad are unusual in the sense that many are politically engaged –in that they maintain a concern in American domestic politics. It is hard to deny that in contrast to most developed countries, politics in the US do constitute a rather large spectacle: the unprecedented worldwide attention given the 2008 presidential election is proof enough. American election campaigns are extremely long, stretching over years, and ordinary American citizens even abroad get involved (by donating money, establishing groups such as Democrats Abroad and Republicans Abroad, getting out the vote through overseas registration, even sporting lapel buttons and bumper stickers) in a way that is uncommonly overt compared to citizens abroad from other countries.

That said, these can certainly be seen as activities of a transplant community, but they are not indicative that Americans are actually transplanting themselves overseas for good. This brings us to the last requirement of our definition of a Diaspora: Do Americans actually emigrate?

Conclusion

What we see with regard to Americans living abroad is a paradox. On one hand, it is clear that the United States is the most powerful actor in the world today, and one would assume that one would find American citizens working around the world to support this. In reality, however, the majority of American citizens abroad are there to pursue individual interests. In terms of numbers, they are rarely in the service of “fellow Americans” unless they are members of the small minority being sponsored by a United States Government agency. While it is true that many continue to see themselves as Americans, maintaining links to the “homeland” through passports, absentee voting, and taxation, the incentive to “be American” is not generally one of a concern of “race” or “ethnicity”. But do they immigrate abroad and retain an identity as Americans, even over generations?

Going on to the last question, many, if not most, Americans are not “immigrants”, in the sense of being outside of America permanently, as a large number intend to return “home”. As such, it is difficult, even under a looser definition of Diaspora as a movement of people abroad forming “sticky” transplant communities in cities organized by ethnicity, and permanent residency abroad, to talk about an “American Diaspora.”

However, this may be changing. There are some Americans who are, given trends and tendencies (and the relative ease at which Americans embrace international marriage) of international migration, demonstrating how “migration” may change into “immigration” in the future. The standard of living in other developed countries is now on par (or in some ways even superior) to life in the United States. Many Americans are making lifetime investments (such as homes and property), taking foreign citizenships, even running for political office.

Moreover, “Americanness”, generally seen as an issue of nationality and legal status, may ultimately change into a concept of ethnicity, as the authors of this chapter and their children begin adopting and popularizing the label of “American-Japanese” (as in Japanese with American roots) for international consumption. However, for this to happen definitively, we need more people to become “a people.” The Americans themselves, originating from a nation of immigrants, must embrace the concept of being immigrants themselves, accepting the fact that they making a life outside of America for good, while retaining an identity as Americans. Although numbers are not significant enough to indicate a social movement at this writing, the authors foresee this as a distinct probability for Americans in future. Only then we will see the foundations of an “American Diaspora”.

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 25, 2009

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 25, 2009
Table of Contents:

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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)
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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
Newsletter subscriptions, RSS, and daily updates at www.debito.org
Debito.org Podcasts available at iTunes (search term: Debito.org)
Freely Forwardable

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DISCRIMINATION TOPICS

1) UN CERD Questions to GOJ re elimination of racial discrim (CERD/C/JPN/Q/3-6 Nov 17 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).

http://www.debito.org/?p=5219

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5148

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=4879

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5114

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IMMIGRATION TOPICS

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

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?

http://www.debito.org/?p=5141

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

I had a conversation with Upper House Dietmember Aihara Kumiko (62, from Hokkaido, elected 2007 on Proportional Representation) on Saturday, November 14. 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5125

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5032

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5030

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5111

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

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. Excerpt:

============================
Ironically, it seems that the Japanese, based on my impressions from watching the TV show, would like to claim the Yano siblings as their own. They get to be “Japanese”, despite being born, raised and educated in the US and having a Korean mother (normally any of these factors would raise suspicions of not being properly Japanese) and not speaking Japanese (considered mandatory for citizenship).

Moreover, child prodigies in Japan are not allowed to enter university (aside from a few small experiments), ostensibly because they lack “maturity”. Anyone familiar with Japanese university students will find that quite ironic. However, as often is the case, appeals to logic and common sense are useless in the face of entrenched prejudicial thinking. Basically, allowing two children to attend university (even for purposes of auditing) goes against an engrained dislike of breaking with conformity in Japan.
============================

http://www.debito.org/?p=4962

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UPDATED TOPICS

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

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

http://www.debito.org/?p=5063

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

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).

http://www.debito.org/?p=4878

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13) Brief essay on Nov 13 Hatoyama-Obama press conference; discussion of Obama’s Japan visit

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5120

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OFFBEAT TOPICS

14) What do you think about Obama’s “deep bow cum handshake” with the Emperor?

Here are the choices:

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

  • Suitably respectful. Ii n ja nai?
  • A bit clumsy, but never mind.
  • Embarrassing. Obama has minders to teach him formalities, no?
  • Appalling. World leaders should not show this much deference to any royalty.
  • He has shamed America.
  • Who cares. This is a non-issue.
  • Something else / Don’t know.

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

Vote at any blog page at www.debito.org

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5020

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5094

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DEBITO.ORG TOPICS

17) All of DEBITO.ORG’S PODCASTS are now available at iTunes, subscribe for free

Last week, after a quick contest for a new moniker for Debito.org (Reader Jarod Trebas won, see http://www.debito.org/?p=5181), I have just gotten approval from iTunes to feature my DEBITO.ORG PODCASTs from my server.

So if you’d like to listen to my articles while driving or exercising, feel free to subscribe for free via iTunes (search term: Debito.org). Every podcast I ever put out is up there (there are eleven so far), and I am to put out one a month reading from my large database of articles. Enjoy!

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18) Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out Tues Dec 1, on advice to DPJ re NJ policies

Now that we have a new, more progressive government in elected office, it’s long been time for us to give them advice about what we want out of them. For my end-year article, I offer my advice on what the DPJ should do to improve the lot of NJ in Japan.

Out next Tuesday, December 1 (Weds in the provinces), so have a read!

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… and finally …

19) Sunday Tangent: SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO Column on the power of humor and how it preserves sanity
(plus LIFER Cartoon on “Things to Do in Hokkaido”)

http://www.debito.org/?p=4883

My latest tangental column in SAPPORO SOURCE — not on human rights, but on humor. And the power it has over us.

Download the entire issue of SAPPORO SOURCE here in pdf format (http://www.sapporosource.com/). Text of the article follows.

ON HUMOR
SAPPORO SOURCE Column 5 published in November 2009 issue
DRAFT TWELVE AND FINAL DRAFT

Look at my photo above. I look like a real sourpuss, don’t I? (Hey Editor: Go ahead and insert witty comment here.) But don’t judge this puss by his fur. I am in fact the Cheshire Cat — a man who smiles and laughs a lot. In fact, without humor, I think we would all go insane.

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.

There’s the “likeability” quotient: We might dislike a politician or opinion leader, but one good gag from him and suddenly he is “charming”. Televised debates in Japan must have the occasional joke or they get overbearing — viewers crave that spoonful of sugar for entertainment value. I know at least one politician who gets elected on amusing charisma alone. And look how much pressure is on Democratic Party of Japan’s Okada Katsuya just to smile!

There’s the popularity factor: Have a good jester attend a soiree, and suddenly he’s the “life of the party” and soon invited back. Remember your Class Clowns of yesteryear? (It’s easy to, isn’t it?) They often go on to bigger things. Some of the richest people in the world are comedians, literally laughing all the way to the bank.

Humor even influences love. One common reason for choosing a spouse? “He makes me laugh.”

Humor is also a powerful analytical tool. Consider one variant — irony — and the social service it provides. For example, listen to what comedian Stephen Colbert said about former President Bush in 2006 during a speech at the White House:

“The greatest thing about this man is that he is steady — He believes the same thing Wednesday as he did Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday.”

Not only did many laugh at that, but some also realized the Emperor Has No Clothes. A joke can penetrate farther into the psyche than reams of political commentary. Public figures: Alienate the stand-up comedians at your peril.

In Japan, however, the lack of irony as a source of humor severely impairs political analysis (one exception: outstanding political impressionist group “Newspaper”). But not to worry: Japan too has its fount of silliness and wordplay.

Thanks to a language replete with homophones, and a set time and place for laughter (be it manzai, rakugo, or konto), Japan has no shortage of belly laughs. Humorwise, I am at home here, being an incorrigible punster (so don’t encorrige me!). In fact, bring out the booze and the stereotypes of the sexes and suddenly you have an evening of mirth and jape.

Although Japan sometimes seems to have rules just to spoil your fun, it sure knows how and when to let loose and party. And laugh.

Back to my personal relationship with humor. I talk about serious topics every single day on my blog, Debito.org — so much so that people have said I depress them, and they ask why I don’t depress myself. Easy. Every single day, for at least an hour a day, I find something that is funny.

I own all of “South Park”, a show that defies gravity by getting better over the years. I collect “Simpsons”, “King of the Hill”, “Monty Python”, George Carlin, Stuart McLean, and Robin Williams. I subscribe to comic books and Britain’s Private Eye magazine (with so much irony you can’t take regular articles seriously again). I get silly in conversations with friends, and try to work in the occasional dirty joke. I guffaw at night and get back in my groove by morning.

So should you. As people who can understand English — and that means you, readers of this column — you can tap into a wellspring of well-developed humor culture, including racial and ethnic humor, accents, sarcasm, and no-holds-barred parody. Take advantage of it.

Because it is the people who do not laugh and erupt in small doses who wind up erupting in large doses — rending asunder all around them. The humorless never let themselves lose control however momentarily, and they smother their soul in the process.

Beware: It is the soulless who make the most inhumane decisions. Consider the company of some humorless historical figures: Spain’s Franco, Zaire’s Mobutu, Zimbabwe’s Mugabe, Turkmenistan’s Niyazov, Burma’s entire ruling junta. Not to mention Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and the Kims.

I agree it’s certainly less enjoyable to be laughed at than laughed with, but the people who cannot laugh at themselves are the ones who, given enough power, actively stop anyone poking fun at them. Those paranoid about not being taken seriously are the ones most likely to become dictatorial, suppressing their public until they are straddling their own political volcanoes. Yet all you have to do is laugh at them, and the walls around naked emperors come crashing down.

Humor is what will save mankind from itself, for it rehumanizes people and puts things in perspective. So, everyone, every day find a way to laugh yourself silly. Even if it means just going down to the beach alone and sniggering at the seagulls. It’s good for you. No matter what’s bothering you, I guarantee you’ll have the last laugh.
ENDS
955 WORDS
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

That’s all for this Newsletter! Thanks as always for reading!
Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
Podcasts available at iTunes. Search term: Debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 25, 2009 ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Quick missive from Aly Rustom a couple of days ago. This is how he dealt with a Gaijin Card Checkpoint in Ueno last week, apparently successfully. FYI. More here on what your rights are when the Police State Tendencies have you in their sights. And even more here if you think that he should have filed a complaint instead with the MOJ Bureau of Human Rights for this treatment:  guess what — I’ve tried that, and they did nothing.  Arudou Debito back in Sapporo

=======================================
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE UENO TO WORK:
MY WAY OF DEALING WITH J-COPS’ GAIJIN CARD CHECKPOINTS

By Aly Rustom

Got stopped today (November 19, 2009) by a cop and was asked for my Gkjin card, and to make a long story short, I refused to show it, and they finally left me alone.

The strange thing was that I was in Ueno station walking to work. Just outside the Iriya gate. The whole conversation was in Japanese, but I will try relay this in English as best as I can.

I got stopped by a plain clothes cop whose name I got Kobayashi Keiichi or Kenichi. Anyway, he asked me for my passport, and I told him that I didn’t have it. I said that this is not an airport. He then told me to go to the Koban to which I replied, “I’m not going anywhere with you.” He then asked me if I have a gaijin card to which I said yes.

He said, “Show it to me”
“Why?”

“I want to confirm you are legal.”

“Why? I’ve done nothing wrong. I pay my taxes same as the Japanese. Why should I show it to you?”

I want to see it.

At this time a uniformed cop, also in his forties came running over. He was smiling and friendly. Unlike the idiot I was dealing with. I at first thought that this was going to get ugly, but I soon realized that he was trying to smooth the situation over.

“If you have a reason, I’ll not only show you my card, I’ll even show you my Japanese Driver’s License. But with no reason I refuse to show it to you.”

This went on back and forth. My anger clearly showing and his cold suspicious eyes never leaving me, with the uniformed cop trying hard to convince me kindly that it was the law.

I then asked to see his ID and he showed it with confidence. Pulled out my iphone and was about to take a picture of it when he snatched it away.

“What are you doing?”
“I’m going to take a picture of your ID?”
“No (DAME)”
“If not, then I will not show you mine”
“No. I showed you mine. You show me yours.”
I pulled mine out and just as he did very quickly showed it without giving it and put it back in my wallet.

“No,” he said. I can’t confirm anything like this”
“If you want to confirm I will take your ID picture.”
“No. Why?”
“I want to complain about you,” I said.
“To whom?”
“To Debito Arudou”

They didn’t seem to know who our Debito was, and I explained that he was an activist and that I wanted this cop’s ID to pass on so I could blog it.

He refused but showed it to me again and stated his name, saying that it was sufficient. I said show it to me again, and he said no. you will not take a picture of it.

I said that was fine, but that I wanted to write down his number, but he refused. Fine. Then I will not show you mine.

What’s the problem?, He asked.

You are invading my privacy. I don’t want you to know my address. And this is racism.
Its not racism, he said.
It is. Because I am not Asian.
No. You are a foreigner. That’s why I want to see it.
That’s still racism.

This also went on back and forth. The interesting thing is that he really seemed upset by the fact that I was calling him a racist. He kept coming back to this issue and trying to convince me he wasn’t a racist, but I was not convinced.

At one point he asked me to just step away from the ticket gate and I refused. He said that we were in other people’s way and to be considerate of them, to which I replied, “Why aren’t YOU considerate of my feelings? Plus, YOU are the ones who stopped me, so its YOU who has made other people’s lives more difficult.”
“That’s why I said for us to just step to the side…”
“NO! I want people to see this. I want to show them your racism”

He continued to assert that it was not racism.

In the end, he said, “Ok. You can go. I asked to see your ID, and you refused. I can’t make you show it to me. You are free to go. Thank you anyway.”

For those of you who know me you know that I don’t back down and refused to just let it go, insisting that this is not a way to catch foreigners, not a way to treat foreigners. etc etc.. I wasn’t getting to him, but I sure gave him a piece of my mind. I wanted him to feel that stopping us is more trouble than it was worth.

The uniformed cop was friendly after the other idiot cop had gone, and he said that he goes to Australia once a year etc etc. He was kind and we stayed and had lots of small talk.

In retrospect, the fact that I was raising my voice and that I seemed to have no problem with the people around seeing and hearing the conversation seemed to bother the idiot cop tremendously. The fact that it was getting more and more obvious to people around that he had stopped me for my card seemed to embarrass him. And he REALLY was rankled by the fact that I wanted to take a picture of his ID.

To everyone reading this, I don’t know how much of a legal leg we have, but it seemed to work. You want to see my card, I’ll take a picture of yours. It seems to really scare them. Or at least just this guy, but he really was a tough looking guy who looked like he had stared down and beaten down every foreigner he had met into showing him their ID.

But not this foreigner.

ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  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 and other weird stuff) 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.  Arudou Debito in Shizuoka

(click on image to expand in browser)

mauremuseum002

mauremuseum001

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

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Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Sunday Tangent:  South Korea is creating laws allowing some degree of dual nationality.  Again, given the cultural similarities between J and ROK society, it would be nice if people on both sides of the pond recognized how acceptance of diversity even within its own citizenry is beneficial to society.  ROK seems to be inching closer to that end, according to these news reports.  Arudou Debito in Shizuoka

///////////////////////////////////////////
“S Korea seeks conditional recognition of dual nationality”
Xinhua News (China) November 12, 2009,
Courtesy of Anonymous
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-11/12/content_12442735.htm

SEOUL, Nov. 12, 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 said 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.

Under current law, South Korea does not allow citizens or foreigners living in the country to hold multiple citizenship.

Thus, South Koreans who obtain foreign citizenship through birth or emigration must choose a single nationality by the age of22.

Once they choose foreign citizenship, their South Korean passports are automatically nullified, even without a cancellation process.

The issue has been particularly thorny in South Korea, as foreign citizenship is occasionally used for male citizens to dodge the compulsory military drafts.

“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.
ENDS

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

Dual Nationality to Become Legal
Chosun Ilbo (South Korea) November 13, 2009, Courtesy of JK

http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2009/11/13/2009111300794.html

The Justice Ministry has completed a draft amendment of citizenship laws that will permit Koreans to hold dual nationality in some circumstances. Under the new law, dual nationality holders born abroad will be allowed to maintain both citizenships provided they do not exercise certain rights and privileges using their legal status of foreigners.

The ministry announced the regulations Thursday.

Those who obtain foreign citizenship by birth will be allowed to maintain it if they submit a written oath by the age of 22 not to exercise the rights and privileges of foreigners in Korea by using their second passport.

After the age of 22, men will be allowed to maintain multiple citizenship only if they complete their military service here. Under the current law, dual citizenship holders must choose one nationality by the age of 22 and submit a written pledge to give up their foreign citizenship if they choose their Korean nationality. The revision is aimed at blocking a drain on military manpower.

Those caught using their foreign passports to enter international schools or invest in Korea as foreigners will be ordered to choose a single nationality and automatically lose their Korean nationality if they fail to give up their foreign citizenship within a specified period.

The regulations also apply for other groups such as foreigners who have immigrated through marriage with Koreans; highly skilled foreigners; senior citizens living overseas; those who have regained Korean citizenship after being adopted by foreign families; and Chinese nationals who were born and have lived here for more than 20 years.

Under the current law, foreigners have to give up their foreign citizenship within six months after they obtain Korean nationality.

englishnews@chosun.com / Nov. 13, 2009 11:40 KST

ENDS

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  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.  Arudou Debito in Shizuoka
——————–
Re: Sho Timothy Yano
By Scotchneat

Yano siblings show what’s right with America and what’s wrong with Japan (Comment on Echika no Kagami Kokoro ni Kiku TV aired on Nov. 1, 2009 21:30-22:24エチカの鏡 ココロにキクTV 2009/11/ 1(日) 21:30~22:24)

There was a show on Sho Timothy Yano and his sister Sayuri on November 1. on Fuji TV. The two are child prodigies (http://www.facebook.com/l/aa682;en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sho_Yano) . The story of children of a multi-cultural family being free to achieve their goals in a supportive environment shows the positive side of America.  However, the spin that show put on the story is very indicative about Japan.

The focus of the story was a mother pushing her children to succeed with much detail of the early childhood education and dietary regime of the two children. The show also put great emphasis on the prejudice that the two were subject to in America based on their Asian heritage, although it seems that the “prejudice” amounted to teasing by their fellow students, and it was unclear whether that was due to Asian heritage or the fact of the great age difference with their peers. The show claimed that Japanese and Koreans often face prejudice in the US, although no real examples were given other than a dramatization showing poor Sho being picked on by some big white bullies.

It is always strange that Japanese will point out the prejudice that exists in America while completely ignoring or being ignorant of the situation in their own country. Here we have two children with a Japanese father and Korean mother. One can only the imagine the prejudice that they would face in Japan. Although any form of prejudice is wrong, it is clear that the Yano siblings are not facing institutionalized prejudice in work and educational opportunities that they would face in Japan. Perhaps this why the show tread so lightly on the subject. One is reminded of the classic, “And you are lynching Negroes” response to the criticisms of the old Soviet Union.

Ironically, it seems that the Japanese, based on my impressions from watching the TV show, would like to claim the Yano siblings as their own. They get to be “Japanese”, despite being born, raised and educated in the US and having a Korean mother (normally any of these factors would raise suspicions of not being properly Japanese) and not speaking Japanese (considered mandatory for citizenship).

Moreover, child prodigies in Japan are not allowed to enter university (aside from a few small experiments), ostensibly because they lack “maturity”. Anyone familiar with Japanese university students will find that quite ironic. However, as often is the case, appeals to logic and common sense are useless in the face of entrenched prejudicial thinking. Basically, allowing two children to attend university (even for purposes of auditing) goes against an engrained dislike of breaking with conformity in Japan.

Perhaps, if the Japanese could get past looking at diet and over ambitious teaching regimes for toddlers, they might see the value of respecting diversity and breaking out of insular thinking.
——————–

ENDS

I’m current at JALT Shizuoka, until Monday

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  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.  Arudou Debito in Shizuoka

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. 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).  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UNITED NATIONS ADVANCE UNEDITED VERSION

CERD

International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination Distr.

GENERAL

CERD/C/JPN/Q/3-6

17 November 2009

Original:  ENGLISH

COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION

OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION

Seventy- sixth session

15 February – 12 March 2010

Courtesy http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/docs/AdvanceVersions/CERD-C-JPN-6-Add1.doc

QUESTIONS BY THE RAPPORTEUR

IN CONNECTION WITH THE CONSIDERATION OF

THE THIRD TO SIXTH PERIODIC REPORTS OF

JAPAN (CERD/C/JPN/3-6)

Composition of the population

1.                 As follow-up to the Committee’s previous concluding observations, [1] please provide full details on the composition of the population, including on economic and social indicators reflecting the situation of all groups covered by the Convention, including resident Koreans, returnees from China, the Buraku and Okinawa communities as well as immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

General information and institutional framework

2.                 Please indicate whether and to what extent non-governmental organizations were consulted in the preparation of the State party’s third to sixth periodic reports to the Committee.

Article 1

3.                 Please clarify the relationship between the Convention and domestic law, citing, where possible, examples of cases where the Convention was used by domestic courts for interpretative purposes.

4.                 Reiterating the Committee’s previous concluding observations[2]as well as the Committee’s General Recommendation No. 29 on “descent”, please indicate how the State party has integrated the concept of descent-based discrimination in its laws and regulations in order to ensure the full enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights by persons belonging to or descending from the Buraku community.

5.                 Please comment on reports according to which resident Koreans applying for Japanese nationality are still urged to change their Korean names to Japanese names, and that they often feel obliged to do so for fear of discrimination in the context of education, employment and marriage.

Article 2

6.                 With regard to the Committee’s previous concluding observations,[3] please indicate whether the State party intends to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law in line with the provisions of the Convention.

7.                 Please indicate whether any independent body specifically appointed to respond to complaints with regard to discrimination faced by, among others, persons from the Buraku, Ainu, Okinawa and resident Korean communities exists in the State party or whether there are any plans for the establishment of such body. More generally, please indicate whether the State party intends to establish a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles (General Assembly resolution 48/134, annex).

8.                 Please comment on allegations that some professionals and local civil servants with access to confidential family registration databases use their authority to create and update lists known as “Buraku Lists” and to sell information on ancestry, birth place and domicile to credit services and private investigators conducting background investigations to determine if a potential employee or marriage partner comes from a Buraku community. Please indicate what measures have been taken by the central administrative authority to ensure respect for privacy and to address violations and abuse in this regard. Also please indicate if there are any plans to modify the existing family registration system based on ancestry and to introduce a requirement by which access to personal information would be permitted only with the informed consent of the person concerned.

9.                 Please explain why the State party has not endorsed the Human Rights Protection Bill, provide an update on its current status and indicate the measures that will be included under its revised version (State party report, CERD/C/JPN/3-6, para. 34).

10.              Please provide more detailed information on the current refugee determination procedures and the provision that financial assistance to persons with refugee status is usually granted for four months only, even though the average time required to process an application is two years (State party report, CERD/C/JPN/3-6, para. 28).

Article 4

11.              While noting that a number of measures have been adopted to guarantee  uses of the Internet which do not infringe the rights of others, the Committee nonetheless  invites comments on reports stating that instances of intolerance and discriminatory attacks through the Internet continue and include posting of anonymous hateful messages and threats against certain communities, including in particular the Buraku and resident Koreans, as well as the use of internet maps and search engines to obtain and share personal information on family names and housing location of members or descendants from these communities. Please indicate to what extent the Provider Liability Limitation Law of 2004 has been applied to counter such abuse of the Internet or what other actions have been taken.  Further, please indicate which of the findings of the “Study Group on Actions against Illegal and Harmful Information on the Internet” established in 2005 have been implemented so far (State party report, CERD/C/JPN/3-6, para. 42).

Article 5

12.              Please provide information on measures taken to recruit more members of the Ainu and Okinawa communities into the public administration of the State party, including the law enforcement agencies. Please provide additional statistical information on employment rates of members of the groups covered by the Convention in the civil service. Please also comment on reports that discrimination often occurs with regards to recruitment and employment and the fact that members of communities or their descendants, including the Ainu, Buraku and migrants of Japanese descent, are highly overrepresented in unstable, ‘blue collar’ work in small- and medium-size companies,  and underrepresented in management positions.

13.              Please provide additional disaggregated data and information on the Program to accelerate Foreigners’ Adaptation to the Life Environment established since 2007 and on the scope of recipients targeted by this programme (State party report, CERD/C/JPN/3-6, para. 55). Please indicate whether this program also covers foreign spouses of Japanese citizens and children of intercultural marriages, or whether any other programmes exist to facilitate their integration in society.

14.              Please provide detailed information on measures adopted to protect the rights of migrant workers.

15.              Please indicate the measures taken to address disadvantages faced by communities such as the Ainu, Okinawan, Buraku, resident Korean, Chinese permanent residents as well as non-nationals in their access to education, employment, adequate standards of living and healthcare. By what means are these measures monitored and what specific indicators are used to monitor progress?

16.              Please provide information on measures taken to provide remedies for resident Korean retirees who have no access to pension benefits because of the National Pension Act.[4]

17.              Please clarify the indicators and targets underlying the statement that “the decrease in public assistance ratio shows the positive effects of the Hokkaido Utari measures” (CERD/C/JPN/3-6, paras. 10-14). Please mention what the concrete effects of these measures were on higher education, stable employment, skill training and annual average household income as compared to the national average. How does the State party ensure full participation of Ainu people in the establishment of a comprehensive development policy? Further, please indicate the timeframe for the enactment of legislation on Ainu issues and the establishment of an advisory or consultative body on Ainu affairs as per the final report of the Government’s Expert Panel on Ainu Policy.

18.              Please explain why the Ryūkyūan/Okinawan Japanese are not considered an indigenous people or national minority by the State party, and state whether there are measures in place to protect, preserve and promote their cultural heritage and ways of life and recognize their land rights. Please clarify the State party’s understanding of the concept of “indigenous people”.

19.              According to information received, children of foreign origin, including South Americans of Japanese descent, children of migrant workers and resident Korean minorities, often attend parallel schools or “miscellaneous schools” whose accreditation depends on prefectural governments, and which are not always acknowledged as official schools. In this context, please indicate the disaggregated enrolment rates in compulsory education, rates of children advancing into higher education, and enrolment rates in university of children of migrant workers, resident Koreans and other minorities.  What institutional and financial measures exist to guarantee the rights of all children to receive an education, including access to education in minority languages as previously recommended by the Committee? Please specify the measures taken to prevent and counteract the harassment of resident Korean children attending North and South Korean schools (State party report, CERD/C/JPN/3-6, para. 26).

Article 7

20.              In addition to information presented in the State party report (CERD/C/JPN/3-6, paras. 35 and 46-49), please provide further information on specific human rights training programmes and courses that have been provided to members of the judiciary, law enforcement officials, teachers, social workers and other public officials. Please include information on the course contents and follow-up.

21.              With regard to the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on racism following his visit to Japan,[5] please provide information on measures taken concerning the process of writing and teaching of history objectively and accurately.

22.              Please provide further information on the awareness-raising activities and human rights education activities directed at the public at large at the prefectural level and throughout the country. Please provide information on the evaluation of the impact of awareness-raising campaigns, training and education programmes on entrenched attitudes and behaviour relating to issues which fall within the scope of the Convention.

– – – – –


[1] CERD/C/304/Add.114, paras. 7, 22.

[2] CERD/C/304/Add.114, para. 8.

[3] CERD/C/304/Add.114, para. 10.

[4] In this regard, see also the relevant recommendation of the Special Rapporteur on racism following his visit to Japan in July 2005, E/CN.4/2006/16/Add.2, para. 91.

[5] E/CN.4/2006/16/Add.2 para. 82.

ENDS

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  JK comments:

Hi Debito:

On the one hand, it looks like there’s hope, yet on the other hand unaccredited / 無認可校 (e.g. schools for Brazilian, Peruvian, Indian, etc students) get left out in the cold:

Schools for foreigners, technical colleges included in DPJ’s free high school lesson plan
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20091014p2a00m0na012000c.html

文科省:高専も無償化…外国人学校なども 概算要求へ
http://mainichi.jp/life/edu/news/20091014k0000e020077000c.html

Ok, I give up — what’s ‘wrong’ with the schools for foreign students that prevents them from being approved / accredited?

Barring a much-needed amendment to the Fundamental Law of Education, is there some hoop jumping that these schools can do to get the government’s 認可? -JK

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

Schools for foreigners, technical colleges included in DPJ’s free high school lesson plan

Mainichi Daily News October 14, 2009

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.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has decided to make high school courses at technical colleges and vocational schools subject to the move, together with various schools for foreigners. It plans to include the necessary expenses in next fiscal year’s budget allocation request.

“We want to support learning chances for as many people as possible,” Deputy Education Minister Kan Suzuki said when questioned by the Mainichi.

The government plans to make lesson fees for public high schools free of charge from April next year. It also plans to provide 120,000 yen a year to households with private high school students, and raise the amount of support to a maximum of 240,000 yen for low-income families.

Suzuki said that since the average annual lesson fees at technical colleges exceeded 230,000 yen, the government planned to increase subsidies for low-income households in the same way as for students at private high schools.

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.

“It is desirable that support is provided within the framework of the system,” he said, adding, “There is a need for revisions such as lowering the bar for approval.”

Across Japan there are 5,183 high schools with a combined roll of about 3.35 million students. There are also 495 vocational schools with high school courses, attended by 38,000 students, together with 64 technical colleges attended by 59,000 students.

It is expected that the budget figure will swell beyond the DPJ’s initial forecast of 450 billion yen as a result of the move.

The standard when determining whether to increase subsidies for low-income households will be an annual income of 5 million yen. The government will increase the amount of support in stages, coordinating measures with the Ministry of Finance.

Rather than the students or their guardians directly receiving financial support, the money will go directly to schools. When requesting increased support, applications are to be made to schools together with proof of the guardians’ income.

(Mainichi Japan) October 14, 2009

文科省:高専も無償化…外国人学校なども 概算要求へ

民主党が政権公約に掲げた高校授業料の実質無償化について、文部科学省は、高等専門学校や専修学校の高等課程、外国人が通う各種学校なども対象とし、必要額を来年度予算の概算要求に盛り込む方針を固めた。高専は5年制だが、第1~3学年を対象とする。

鈴木寛副文科相が毎日新聞の取材に「なるべく多くの人の学ぶ機会を応援したい」と述べ、こうした方針を明らかにした。

政府は来年4月から公立高校生の授業料を無料とし、私立高校生の世帯に年12万円(低所得世帯は最大24万円)を助成する方針。鈴木副文科相は国公立の高専について、平均授業料が23万円を超えることから、私立高校生と同様に低所得世帯への増額措置を適用する方針も明らかにした。

美容師や調理師養成校などを含む専修学校のうち、高等課程(中卒者対象)の生徒は対象とする。また、外国籍でも、学校教育法に定める各種学校の生徒は加える方針で、朝鮮人学校やインターナショナルスクールなどが該当。ブラジル人学校などに多い無認可校は「制度の枠組みの中に入れ支援するのが望ましい。認可のハードルを下げるなどの見直しが必要」とし、対象としない考えを示した。

全国の高校は5183校(生徒334万7000人)で、専修学校高等課程は495校(3万8000人)、高等専門学校は64校(5万9000人)。民主党が当初の予算額として想定した4500億円より要求額は膨らむ見通し。

支給額を増やす低所得の目安は年収500万円が基準となる見通しだが、段階的な支給額の増加なども含め、財務省と調整する。

支給は、生徒や保護者に直接ではなく学校側に渡す「間接支給」方式とする。私立高校で支給額の増額を求める場合、保護者の収入証明書を添えて学校に申請し、授業料との差額を納付する仕組みになる。【加藤隆寛、本橋和夫】

【ことば】各種学校

学校教育法第1条に定める「学校」ではないが、学校教育に類する教育機関として同法で規定され、私立校は都道府県知事の認可を受ける。カリキュラムの自由度が高く、通学定期の購入も可能。服飾や看護系学校、簿記学校などが含まれ、外国籍の子どものための教育機関の多くが該当する。予備校や自動車学校にも認可校がある。

英訳

毎日新聞 2009年10月14日 15時00分(最終更新 10月14日 15時17分)
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG RSS Feed Logo Contest Winner is Jarod Trebas

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
Hi Blog.  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:

Submitted by Manule:

DebLog_by_Manu

From Kaoru:

debitologoteian1

(A quick note on this one:  I know Kaoru is a big fan of Noh, but I face a “Culture of No” every day when dealing with bureaucrats and stoneheads in Japan, and didn’t quite want the “Oh Noh, it’s Debito.org!” feeling behind this, sorry 🙂  )

From Jarod Trebas:

debitologo_Jarod Trebas

Honorable Mention, my favorite version submitted by Chris Bartlett:

debito logo large v3 cjb357@msn.com.jpg

This one in particular encapsulates the themes of people of any race or color being part of Japan and asking for human rights and solidarity.  Like it a whole lot, and would like to use it somewhere else in future.

And the winner is…

Jarod Trebas’ alternate version:

debitologo

The reason I chose this one was because of 1) the Rising Sun emblem on white (Japan is a circle and all that), 2) the theme of equality within Japan being the fundamental essence of Debito.org, and 3) the font matching the motif of circles and maruku naru etc.  It’s also very, very simple and to the point, in the best traditions of Japanese minimalist art styles.  Thanks very much, Jarod.  If you’d like to promote something on Debito.org, let me know.

Thanks to everyone who submitted!  The podcast feed has been submitted and is pending iTunes approval.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UPDATE NOVEMBER 19, 2009. iTunes has approved the DEBITO.ORG Podcast. Do go and subscribe (search term: Arudou Debito). I’ve got almost all my past podcasts up there already!

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  Hatoyama speaks at APEC last week, tells Japan it should ready itself for migration.

This should be a hopeful development, although it’s not clear how much exposure this story got (a Google news search only showed some minor hits; the AFP only seemed to cover this in any detail; there was a little more in the Japanese databases, kedo).  Submitted for your commentary.  Also below is the Nov 4 PM Hatoyama Cabinet Newsletter, full of crie du coeur but a bit sketchy on details.

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?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

//////////////////////////////////////////////////
Japan PM says nation should open up to migrants
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/pinoy-migration/11/14/09/japan-pm-says-nation-should-open-migrants
and
http://sg.news.yahoo.com/afp/20091114/tap-apec-japan-policy-immigration-d1078a1.html
Agence France-Presse | 11/15/2009 12:46 AM, Courtesy RI and JK

SINGAPORE – Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Saturday 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 think Japan should also make itself a country attractive to people so that more and more people, including tourists, hope to visit Japan, hope to live and work in Japan,” he said on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit.

“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.

Japan has relatively few resident foreigners, although in recent years it has cautiously opened up its job market to nurses and care workers from some Southeast Asian countries.

“First, we will improve support for child-rearing by offering cash allowances for families with children,” before thinking about immigration to address the country’s low birth rate, the premier said.

Japan’s population has been shrinking since 2005. Despite efforts to raise the birth rate, a woman’s average number of offspring now hovers around 1.3, well below the 2.07 needed to maintain the population.

Japan rejected the prospect of mass immigration under the conservative government led by the Liberal Democratic Party. Hatoyama’s centre-left Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) ousted them in September.

Some politicians have argued that an influx of immigrants would lead to lower wages for Japanese workers and a higher crime rate.

Hatoyama’s DPJ has not detailed its immigration policy.
ARTICLE ENDS
///////////////////////////////////////////

BONUS: HATOYAMA CABINET NEWSLETTER: SKETCHES OF GOALS WITH SKETCHY DETAILS, BUT EARNEST TONE

From: “Cabinet”, Courtesy of Peach
Subject: Hatoyama Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.4 (November 4, 2009)
Reply-To: kantei@mmz.kantei.go.jp

===================================================================
Hatoyama Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.4 (November 4, 2009)
===================================================================

Yukio Hatoyama’s “Yu-Ai”
— Message from the Prime Minister (Provisional Translation)

“Creating a new nation”

The new Diet session has begun under the new government.

The 173rd session of the Diet, which began on October 26, is the
first Diet session since the change of government. In delivering
the policy speech at the beginning of this extraordinary session of
the Diet and answering subsequent questions from representatives of
political parties, I strove to ensure that the message and answers
are prepared by us, politicians, and are conveyed to the people in
as clear language as possible.

This is because in thinking how to give an answer that would reach
out to the people, each minister and, of course I myself, thought
it important that our wishes become one with those of the people.

If it were just a matter of reading off a script prepared by
excellent bureaucrats, as was the tradition with former governments,
it would be possible to go through a plenary session no matter who
the prime minister or ministers were. To be honest, as my
diplomatic schedule continued, there were times when I felt
physically drained in writing from scratch the first and most
important policy speech after the inauguration of the new
government.

Then, whenever I felt so, I recalled the images of the people who
have great expectations of us and entrusted the hope for the future
of Japan to us by voting for us. This strengthened my belief that
I must express my determination in my own words no matter what;
what I want to do in this new government and what kind of nation
I want to create. I am sure that each minister felt the same way.
I believe that our Cabinet pushing Diet affairs forward in this
manner is one representation of politics of political leadership.

In terms of nation building, the nation that I aim for is a society
of “yu-ai,” or fraternity, a society of self-support and
co-existence in which each individual exerts their capabilities and
mutually supports one another. This applies to the relationships
between politics and the people, the public and private sectors,
and national and local governments. In order for each individual,
each company, and each community to fully exert their capabilities,
we must reform laws, regulations, and bad customs that hamper this.

It was only natural for the people and communities, having lost
their strengths in the devastation following the defeat in the war,
to first look for a government-led rebuilding of the nation.
However, more than 60 years have passed since then and Japan has
changed greatly. I want the people to break away from their
dependency on others to do something, to think instead what they
can do for themselves, and to show their strengths to their full
extent.

To this end, I want to value the origin of my politics of
fraternity — to ensure that the perspectives of the disadvantaged
in society and minorities are respected. Society must extend
a helping hand to the people and places that sincerely need it. The
role of politics, I believe, is to create a framework for this.

For the new government, everything is a challenge at this Diet
session. The entire Cabinet and all the Diet members will do our
utmost to always face the people and conduct Diet affairs for the
people, so that the people can feel that politics have changed and
anticipate the change that Japan is about to undergo. I invite you
all to actively participate in politics. Let us create our new
Japan together!

* Profile of the Prime Minister
http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/hatoyama/profile/index_e.html

===================================================================
[What’s New in Government Internet TV]

<1ch>Prime Minister
[The Prime Minister in action]
– The Prime Minister Attends a Series of ASEAN-related Summit
Meetings in Thailand (October 23 – 25, 2009)
http://nettv.gov-online.go.jp/eng/prg/prg1926.html

[Prime Minister’s Week in Review]
– Japan-ASEAN Summit Meeting and other topics
(October 19 – 25, 2009)
http://nettv.gov-online.go.jp/eng/prg/prg1925.html

– Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo International Film Festival and
other topics (October 12 – 18, 2009)
http://nettv.gov-online.go.jp/eng/prg/prg1924.html

* Please click below to open “Japanese Government Internet TV”
in English.
http://nettv.gov-online.go.jp/eng/index.html

===================================================================
[The Prime Minister in action]

– The Prime Minister Attends the Interpellation Session at the
Plenary Session of the House of Representatives (October 28, 2009)
and other topics
http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/hatoyama/actions/index_e.html

* Please click below to open the online magazine
“Highlighting JAPAN,” which introduces the main policies of
the Japanese Government, as well as Japan’s arts, culture,
science and technology, among other topics.
http://www.gov-online.go.jp/eng/publicity/book/hlj/

===================================================================
[Hatoyama Cabinet E-mail Magazine]

– Click below to make comments on this e-mail magazine
http://www.mmz.kantei.go.jp/enquetePcEn

– Subscription, cancellation, and backnumber of this e-mail
magazine
http://www.mmz.kantei.go.jp/foreign/m-magazine/

General Editor : Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama
Chief Editor : Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yorihisa Matsuno
Publication : Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

ENDS

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog. 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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

DAVE DAVIES: On a more serious note, you became aware of some women who were working in the sex industry, who appear not to be there of their own free will. There was human trafficking going on. How did it work in the cases that you found?

JAKE ADELSTEIN: Japan is much better than it was than the time I started writing about this. But essentially it works like this: You bring foreign women into the country, often under false pretences — that they would be working as hostesses, or working as waitresses in a restaurant. You take away their passports. You put them in a room. You monitor their activities so that they can’t leave. And then you take them to the clubs where they have sexual relations with the customers. And, aren’t paid. The women have no freedom of movement. They’re told, after they’ve slept with a customer, or been forced to sleep with a customer — sometimes they were raped first, so they’d get used to the job — that if they go to the police, since they’re in Japan illegally, that they would be deported and they would still owe money for their travel expenses to Japan. And very often these traffickers would have agents within the countries where they were recruiting these women, often Eastern Europe, and contact the families of the women under various pretexts, to let them know that if they disobeyed, or did something in Japan or ran away, that their families back home would be menaced or killed.

DAVE DAVIES: You worked really hard to develop sources, and get enough on the record to write a story about this going on, and identify some of the people who were operating these human trafficking sex joints. What was the reaction among the police and other authorities when you exposed this?

JAKE ADELSTEIN: The reaction was that they asked me to introduce them to some of the women who were victims, so that they could *arrest* them, and have a pretext to raid these clubs. An officer there I really liked a lot named Iida-san said, “I’d love to put these places out of business. But you have to understand that these women, while they are victims, that we can’t protect them. We have to prosecute them under Japanese law. There is no provision in the law that allows us to keep them in the country while we do the investigation. So, I *could* do the investigation, and I could put these people out of business, but in order to do that, I’m going to have to have you put me in contact with some of the women, and I’m not going to be able to take a statement from them without arresting them.” And I couldn’t do that.

I went to another division of the police department and asked them, “Can you do anything about that?” And they said, “We can do something about it, but first of all, we don’t have enough people who speak foreign languages to do a very competent investigation right now. And we’ve got a lot of other things on our plate. While your article is good, it is not something that is immediately actionable for us.”

DAVE DAVIES: Which was enormously frustrating for you.

JAKE ADELSTEIN: It was *enormously* frustrating. And when I realized of course was that, while the cops have problems with this and would like to do the investigations and put these people out of business, that essentially the law wouldn’t let them do it. That’s why I began writing about the flaws in the law, the whole legal system, and I also began taking studies and information and stories that I had written up as a reporter to the US State Department representative at the Embassy in Tokyo.

DAVE DAVIES: In effect, by embarrassing the government, you were able to get some reform?

JAKE ADELSTEIN: Yes. I can’t take total credit, but I would like to take some credit for supplying the US Government with enough information that they could embarrass Japan enough so that Japan felt compelled to actually put some laws on the books that trafficking harder to do. One of the things I was most proud of was, the International Labor Organization did a very scathing study of human trafficking problems in Japan — pointing out the victims weren’t protected, the traffickers were lightly punished, fined, and rarely did jail time. Which the Japanese Government, which sponsored this study, told them “never release”. I was able to get a copy of that report and put it on the front page of our newspaper as a scoop, while the Japanese Government was still getting ready to announce their plan of action. And I think that had a very positive effect of making them put together a plan that was actually effective.
EXCERPT ENDS

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
Hi Blog.  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:

  1. Japan signing the Hague Convention on Child Abductions
  2. Japan passing the long-proposed general law protecting human rights (jinken yougo houan)
  3. Japan passing a law against racial discrimination
  4. 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.  Comments douzo.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
Hi Blog.  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:

  1. 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,
  2. The hotel was hereby advised by KTA to change its rules and open its doors to people regardless of language ability,
  3. The hotel did not protest, and in fact would “fix” (naosu) its writeup on its Rakuten Travel entry,
  4. 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.

COMMENT:  This is far better than I expected.  The KTA had told me on Monday that they had no real authority (kyouseiryoku) here to advise a nonmember hotel, yet here they were taking this up and making the call.  I guess Kyou no Yado’s reply was really unbecoming to the situation.  Bravo.  Quite honestly, given the fact that I’ve contacted a number of authorities regarding local exclusionary signs and rules (which usually resulted in nothing being done), I wasn’t even expecting an answer (hey, bureaucrats will get paid anyway even if they sit on their hands; avoiding work is easier for them).

Find another exclusionary hotel like this?  Contact the local town or city tourist agency and include the letter from the KTA below, referring to it as a template for how some government agencies do get off their duff.  Anyone want to do that for the exclusionary hotel in Wakkanai? (“Itsuki”, the one which outright refuses all foreign clients, even cancels reservations if the customer’s name looks to be foreign).  Be my guest.  Don’t be theirs.

Meanwhile, let’s keep an eye on “Kyou no Yado’s” Rakuten Travel listing.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Letter from KTA follows, click to expand in browser:

kyototouristagency111109001

kyototouristagency111109002

ENDS

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
Hi Blog.  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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Watch Obama in Japan tonight (speech schedule enclosed)

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  Courtesy of Paul Toland.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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.

The latest on the schedule (all times are Japan times):

6:50PM THE PRESIDENT and Prime Minister Hatoyama of Japan hold bilateral
meeting

7:10PM THE PRESIDENT and Prime Minister Hatoyama hold expanded bilateral
meeting

8:20PM THE PRESIDENT and Prime Minister Hatoyama hold joint press conference

8:45PM THE PRESIDENT and Prime Minister Hatoyama have dinner

That means the Press Conference will be held at 6:20 AM Eastern Standard
Time in the United States.  Paul

ENDS

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo.

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

Government split over bill to give non-Japanese permanent residents right to vote
Mainichi Daily News November 7, 2009.
Courtesy HJ
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20091107p2a00m0na009000c.html

A bill proposed by a key member of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) to grant permanent foreign residents the right to vote in local elections has split the party.

DPJ Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Kenji Yamaoka has declared that he intends to submit a bill to the current session, and recommended that parties allow their legislators to freely decide whether to vote for or against the bill.

His move is widely viewed by many politicians as an attempt to drive a wedge between the largest opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is reluctant to give foreigners the right to vote, and its former coalition partner Komeito, which is enthusiastic about the move.

However, the issue has drawn opposition from within the DPJ and the coalition government it leads.

DPJ legislators are divided over the issue. There are numerous legislators within the governing party in favor of giving permanent foreign residents the right to vote in local elections, including Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and DPJ Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa.

However, there are a certain number of opponents, including Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano and Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yorihisa Matsuno.

“There are over 140 new members of the House of Representatives who have just been elected to their first term in the latest general election. It’s necessary to hold in-depth discussions on the issue within the party,” Hirano told a news conference on Oct. 22.

Moreover, in order to ensure that the bill be passed into law, it will require an extension to the Diet session — which has drawn complaints from officials at the prime minister’s office and ministries, for fear that a longer Diet session could adversely affect their compilation of the fiscal 2010 state budget draft.

The government has limited the number of bills it submitted to the current Diet session to make sure that it can complete the compilation of the fiscal 2010 budget draft by the end of this year.

Even Hatoyama, who is in favor of the permanent foreign residents’ rights to vote in local elections, has taken a cautious approach toward the bill. “I’m enthusiastic about the move, but it’s an extremely serious theme within the party. There are various opinions on the issue. We have no intention of trying to forcibly push ahead with the bill,” Hatoyama told a Lower House Budget Committee session on Thursday.

Furthermore, Yamaoka’s move runs counter to the DPJ’s policy of leaving policy-making entirely to the Cabinet and banning legislator-sponsored bills in principle.

Even Komeito, which is in favor of the move, has displayed skepticism. “I don’t think we’ve completely formed a consensus among party members,” a senior member said.

LDP Secretary-General Tadamori Oshima also voiced opposition to allowing its members to decide whether to vote for or against the bill at their own discretion.

“It’s different from the Organ Transplantation Law (that political parties allowed their legislators to freely decide to vote for or against). It’s a matter involving sovereignty. I sense a bit of resistance to the recommendation,” he said.
ENDS

臨時国会:外国人参政権焦点に 政府・民主党、足並みの乱れ露呈--法案提出浮上
毎日新聞 2009年11月7日 東京朝刊
http://mainichi.jp/select/seiji/news/20091107ddm002010042000c.html
臨時国会の焦点に6日、永住外国人への地方参政権付与法案が急浮上した。民主党の山岡賢次国対委員長が今国会に議員立法で提出し、党議拘束をかけずに採決する考えを示したためだ。参政権の付与に積極的な公明党と、消極的な自民党の間にくさびを打ち込む狙いがあるとみられるが、法案の成立を図るには会期延長は必至だ。10年度予算編成への影響を懸念する政府は反発し、逆に政府・民主党の足並みの乱れが露呈する結果となった。

「今国会で(の提出を)考えている」

山岡氏は6日、民主・自民両党の国対委員長会談を終えた後、記者団に語った。民主党は政権交代後、政策決定を内閣に一元化し、議員立法を原則行わない方針だったが、早速、例外が生じる。

同党内では鳩山由紀夫首相や岡田克也外相、小沢一郎幹事長ら付与への賛成議員が多い一方で、平野博文官房長官、松野頼久同副長官ら反対派も一定数おり、意見集約は終わっていない。平野氏は10月22日の記者会見で「(衆院選で初当選した)新人が百四十数人いる。党内でしっかり議論する場面が必要だ」と強調しており、議員立法での提出は党内の意見集約を省略する意図もある、とみられる。

小沢氏は、衆院選前から在日本大韓民国民団(民団)の会合に出席するなど接触を続けており、民団側は付与に賛成する候補者の支援に踏み切っていた。

政府は10年度予算の年内編成を確実にするため、今国会への提出法案を絞り込んでいる。賛成派の鳩山首相も、5日の衆院予算委員会で「前向きに考えるが、党内でも大変大きなテーマ。さまざまな意見があり、強引に押し通さない」と述べた。

野党側も、付与に積極的な公明党でさえ「党の意思と確定したとは思えない」(幹部)と疑心暗鬼だ。自民党の大島理森幹事長は6日、党議拘束なしの採決に関し記者団に「臓器移植法とは異質だ。主権にかかわる問題で、いささか抵抗感を持つ」と反対の考えを示した。【田中成之、田所柳子】

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog. 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; see RELATED ARTICLE: Asahi/CNN: GOJ survey report: 38% of J hotels had no NJ guests in 2007, and 72% of those (as in 27%) don’t want NJ guests!), contrast with the situation in Korea and one columnist’s proposal.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

NB: Before anyone begins to suspect that I think everything in Korea is gravy compared to Japan, let me say this:  of course not. I just think that given the very strong cultural similarities between Korea and Japan, what may be possible as an alternative in Korea might be some bellwether for what’s possible here too. Is all.  If Japan really wants its Yokoso Japan! to work better, it could do worse than consider promoting more open-minded hotels for international clientele.  Instead of promoting exclusionary ones (like the Fukushima Prefectural Tourist Information Association did a couple years back), for example.

FOREWARD FROM SUBMITTER:
==============================
Debito-san,

Howdy. I spotted this article on 1 person’s idea in Korea to open up cheap accommodations to foreigners: love motels. Some application to tourism in Japan and Japanese love hotels. (As an innkeeper, though, I should be worried about the idea of new competition for “Inbound” accommodation. On the other hand, if Kamesei can’t compete with love hotels, then there are other issues that need to be dealt with…)

B. Rgds, Tyler at Kamesei Ryokan, Nagano

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

“Love motels” offer more than “love”
By Brian Deutsch
The Korea Herald 2009.10.28

http://www.koreaherald.co.kr/NEWKHSITE/data/html_dir/2009/10/28/200910280062.asp

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.

But Korea’s lack of affordable rooms long predates Lee’s tenure. It isn’t a deficiency that can be blamed on foreign chains or foreigners-turned-Koreans, and it isn’t something that can be changed with a new slogan. Though international travellers might have few lodging options available to them, it’s helpful to learn about a fun, affordable alternative to expensive luxury hotels and overpriced tourist hotels.

International tourists relying on foreign-language information will have two choices for accommodation: rooms in luxury hotels that cost hundreds of dollars a night, and rooms in “tourist hotels” that average 100,000 won ($85) a night or more. Of course, outside of Seoul and Busan there is often nothing available for the person searching in English, Chinese or Japanese (languages spoken by almost all tourists visiting Korea).

The result: Tourists unwittingly find themselves paying twice as much for a place half as nice as the rooms hiding in plain sight.

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.

Though they’re primarily used as a place to share an intimate moment, people are starting to realize they’re not only about sex. A Yonhap News piece in August looked at the ways motels have changed to attract not only clients looking for a few hours to get away, but people who want to relax in other ways. Competition has pushed motels to offer more, and, the piece says, “more and more motels are transforming their guest rooms into private entertainment places equipped with wide-screen TVs and other high-tech gadgets as a means of attracting clients.”

Large televisions, computers, big beds, and bathtubs are standard in the newer rooms, and some of the more stylish ones offer jacuzzis, Nintendo and PlayStation consoles, motorcycles in the room, and even telescopes on upstairs verandas, all for between 50,000 won and 100,000 won a night. The kitch of multicolored mood lights and swanky interior is a fun, welcome change from drab apartment rooms or ordinary faded beige of older tourist hotels. Prospective travellers can make informed decisions about nicer motels by browsing the maps and photographs on an online motel directory, available in Korean.

There are several such directories – Hotel365.co.kr, MotelGuide.co.kr, and Yanolja.co.kr are among my favorites – in addition to search engines on portals like Naver and Daum that will return hundreds of results, although these are inaccessible to people who can’t navigate Korean websites. A Naver search for motels in Jeollanam-do turns up 775, and a Naver search for Gwangju retrieves 464. The English-language KTO site devoted to accommodation, though, shows only six motels in Jeollanam-do, and zero for Gwangju.

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.

There is also no guarantee that you’ll find staff that can communicate in the language you need. The unsuspecting international tourist who assumes there will be staff members on hand who can clearly communicate in a foreign language will likely find themselves disappointed. But the limited information on accommodation in Korea means would-be tourists must rely on the few options that have assembled something resembling an English-language page.

In spite of their ubiquity, there is a love-hate relationship among Koreans with motels and what they stand for. After all, there aren’t hundreds of motels in each town because Koreans love to travel, and they don’t rent rooms in two-hour blocks because Koreans have evolved beyond sleep.

Motels are also often the most prominent buildings in the neighborhood, and tend to make the news only when there’s a suicide or when the police break up gambling and prostitution rings.

A newspaper in Gwangju recently complained that gaudy motels – topped with statues, domes, and flashy lights – are safety hazards and eye sores. And in May a writer for the English-language Gwangju News attracted the scorn of a local newspaper by writing about motels, the latter accusing the former of not understanding Korean culture and spreading misinformation among foreigners. Back in 2002, as a way to remove some of the stigma associated with motels, Korea designated a certain number as “World Inns.”

Foreign budget chains can succeed in Korea because there is simply no one else providing this basic service to foreigners. And in an age when Korea is trying to encourage foreign investment, scapegoating foreign companies is nothing short of xenophobic. But one option might be to invite some of the best motels into an umbrella program and create a foreign-language directory for the benefit of foreigners and international travellers.

It certainly behooves those already in Korea to take advantage of these motels. There’s a lot more to do at love motels than you might think.

——————-
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of The Korea Herald. Brian Deutsch can be reached at deutsch.brian@gmail.com, or by visiting his website at http://briandeutsch.blogspot.com – Ed.
ENDS

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

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

///////////////////////////////////////////////
Dad in Japan custody case: I’m dead to my kids
Christopher Savoie describes prison ordeal after he tried to recover children

By Michael Inbar
TODAYShow.com contributor
updated 10:00 a.m. ET Nov. 9, 2009, Courtesy of Paul Wong

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/33788543/ns/today-parenting_and_family/?ns=today-parenting_and_family

American Christopher Savoie is back on U.S. soil after spending a harrowing 18 days in a Japanese jail for trying to wrest his children away from his ex-wife. But the joy of being reunited with his current wife, Amy, is muted by the heartbreak of having to leave his son and daughter behind.

Savoie, 38, was locked in a bitter custody battle with his former wife, Noriko, when she fled to her native Japan with the couple’s 8-year-old son, Isaac, and 6-year-old daughter, Rebecca, on Aug. 13. On Sept. 28, Savoie flew to Japan to reclaim his children — but as he headed up the steps of the U.S. Embassy in Fukuoka with Isaac and Rebecca in tow, he was promptly arrested by Japanese police.

Appearing live in his first interview since being released on Oct. 15, Savoie, accompanied by Amy, told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira that being a free man is a hollow victory without his children beside him.

“It’s absolutely horrible; there are no words for it,” he told Vieira. “Basically, I’m dead to my children.”

Troubled relations

At issue is the sticky state of U.S.-Japan relations regarding custody of young children whose parents have gone their separate ways. According to the International Association for Parent-Child Reunion, there have been some 125 cases of American children who have been abducted by a parent to Japan. To date, not one child has ever been returned to the U.S.

Part of it is legal: Japan is the sole G7 nation not adhering to the 1980 Hague Convention calling for the return of children abducted across international borders. And part of it is cultural: According to Japanese tradition, children of divorce are given to one parent, almost always the mother, and the other parent is basically written out of their lives.

While U.S. officials try to pressure Japan to acquiesce to Hague Convention standards, Savoie is seen as a maverick who tried to take the law into his own hands in getting his kids back. But Savoie told Vieira he believes he had solid legal standing, even by Japanese law, in traveling to Japan to reclaim Isaac and Rebecca.

Savoie and Noriko were married in Japan in 1995, and he still carries a Japanese passport from his time as a student and working for a pharmaceutical company there. The couple split in 2007, and when Savoie moved back to the U.S. in 2008 for a job with a biotech company, Noriko followed a year later so the pair could both spend time with their children.

But the arrangement never worked well, Savoie told Vieira. He claims Noriko was antagonistic toward his new wife, Amy, and often threatened to take the children back to Japan with her. Savoie sought a restraining order in his adopted hometown of Franklin, Tenn., to keep Noriko from fleeing with the children, but it wasn’t granted.

‘Big shock’
On Aug. 13, Savoie was notified that Isaac and Rebecca were not present at what was supposed to be their first day of school. Savoie told Vieira that initially, he imagined even worse scenarios than the notion that Noriko had taken off with them.

“Horrible thoughts went through my mind,” he said. “The first thought wasn’t that they might have been abducted; I was worried that something might have happened to them, something horrible.”

Savoie finally reached his former father-in-law in Japan, who told him the children were safe and sound and with their mother. Savoie began plotting a course of action that led to his Sept. 28 trip to Japan and subsequent imprisonment — but he insisted to Vieira it wasn’t unlawful.

“I actually still have, and had at that time, legal custody in Japan — fifty-fifty custody,” Savoie said.

Savoie met up with Noriko as she walked the children to school, wrested them away from her, put them in a car and made a mad dash for the embassy. Noriko told police she was bruised from the scuffle between the pair as Savoie spirited the children away.

But Savoie told Vieira: “Picking my kids up, hugging them and putting them in the car — I hardly thought that would be considered criminal. So it was a big shock to me that police actually took it in that manner.”

Savoie insists he was not planning to put Isaac and Rebecca on the next plane home. “My intention was to go to the consulate and then have a discussion if the police wanted to ask about it,” he told Vieira. “I had all the custody documents with me. If they had said, ‘Please stay in Japan, and have a family court decide the custody first,’ I would have done that.”

‘Horrible’ conditions
Instead, Savoie found himself behind bars for 18 days, under conditions he said were “pretty horrible”.

“I think it is well known by the United Nations that Japan’s pre-indictment jail conditions are horrendous,” he said. “They’re quite infamous. Almost 18 days of 12 hours a day of interrogation without a lawyer; lights on all the time at night, so sleep deprivation. Really terrible sanitary conditions — it’s just too horrible to recall.”

Still, Japanese authorities released Savoie without indicting him. They say charges are still pending, but Savoie believes he is unlikely to face any charges. “I assume if they had enough evidence to indict with the crime, they would have done so.”

He also says his ex-wife’s claims that he injured her were unfounded. “There wasn’t much of a struggle,” he said. “All of these reports that there was bruising, that never was proven. And that was part of the reason I was released.”

Still, there is no short-term prospect of the dad’s being reunited with Isaac and Rebecca. Savoie’s best hope is that Japan changes its policies — and on that front, there may be a little progress. In a statement to CNN, Japan Foreign Ministry spokesman Yasuhisa Kawamura said the government is considering becoming part of the Hague treaty.

“Japanese government is … considering seriously to conclude this treaty on the grounds that this treaty would provide one of the most effective measures to protect the children after their parents divorce,” Kawamura said.

ENDS

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
Hi Debito.org Readers.  It’s getting about time for me to put Debito.org podcasts up on iTunes, and that will mean Debito.org will have avenues to the outside world in a much smaller (and influential) audio pond.  People exercising, commuting, or otherwise exercising their ears as well as their brains will be able to hear about what’s going on here like never before.

To that end, friends have advised me to try and make Debito.org look a little more professional to the outside world.  (Well, try, anyway.)

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.

There’s no real money involved in this, sorry (just my gratitude, and if you’d like a plug for your graphics services, I’d be happy to do so gratis on Debito.org).  But if you’ve liked what you read so far here and have thought about giving a little something back, much obliged!

Thanks for reading and considering!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  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.  I won’t quote it in full (let’s give the hits to Mutantfrog), but here’s the link and an excerpt:

http://www.mutantfrog.com/2009/10/08/all-thats-wrong-with-international-divorce-in-japan/

Here’s Joe’s conclusion:

I don’t have a wife or kids yet. Debito, who has written extensively about his own divorce and loss of children (a dreadfully sad story, but an excellent overview of how the system works here), chided me in a Facebook comment thread for daring to state my opinions while I lack skin in the game. Lest anyone get the wrong idea, I respect Debito, who gave me, Roy and Curzon the privilege of hearing his story in person a good year before he made it public. But where I come from, having no skin in the game is called “objectivity,” and does not by any means disqualify an opinion.

For what it’s worth, I do have some skin in the game, as I am engaged to get married early next year. While I have given up on my farcical plans to transfer my kids to an offshore investment vehicle, I am still very cognizant that the law (even as I think its mechanics should work) may bite me in the rear someday if my marriage ever breaks down.

Sadly, a lot of the discussion surrounding these issues, whether regarding particular cases or the system in general, devolves into parental narcissism, envy and finger-pointing. The whole framework of marriage, divorce and custody is ultimately not about what Mom or Dad wants: it’s about protecting children and giving them a chance to inherit the world as capable individuals. So, as I see it, we have to approach it from that perspective regardless of which side we occupy on the wedding cake.

Of course.  So from a more neutral perspective, I conclude this:

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:

  1. 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).
  2. Recognize Visitation Rights (menkai ken) for both parents during separation and after divorce.
  3. Recognize Joint Custody (kyoudou kango ken) after divorce.
  4. Enforce the Hague Convention on Child Abductions and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  5. Enforce overseas custody court decisions in Japanese courts.
  6. Recognize “Irreconcilable Differences” (seikaku no fuitchi) as grounds for divorce.  See why here.
  7. Shorten legal separation (bekkyo) times from the current benchmark of around five years to one or two.
  8. 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).
  9. 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).

There are plenty more suggestions I’m sure readers could make, but chew on that for awhile, readers.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  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.

Here come the letters I sent, scanned, plus the reply.  Click on any image to expand in your browser. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

(And a quick word to the Protest Letter Police:  I’m not in the mood to have my grammar corrected, so don’t bother; my letters below have not been proofread by native speakers, but I think they get my points across just fine.  I’m doing the best that I can, and if you think that a letter has to be perfect before it goes out, and I’m somehow “shaming the entire gaijin community” if it’s not, fuck off.  Here are the letters warts and all.)

My letter to the Hotel, Kyou no Yado Fushimi:

kyotofushimi001

My reservation, two pages, with their exclusionary rule based upon language ability:

kyotofushimi002

kyotofushimi003

The hotel’s reply:

kyotofushimi004

My letter to the Kyoto authorities:

kyotofushimi005

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 9, 2009

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 9, 2009

Table of Contents:
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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)
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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
Daily Blog updates, RSS Feed and Subscriptions at www.debito.org
Freely Forwardable

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YET EVEN MORE ON CHILD ABDUCTIONS

1) 22 US Senators sign letter for Obama to address Child Abductions Issue during Japan visit

Debito.org 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=4984

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=4975

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

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!

http://www.debito.org/?p=4960

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5014

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UNFINISHED BUSINESS

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5011

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

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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=4939

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=4957

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

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!

http://www.debito.org/?p=4848

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=4898

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BLOWBACK

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

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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=4911

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

Eyewitness reporting to Debito.org:
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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=4905

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12) Fallout from “The Cove”: TV’s “South Park” takes on Japan’s dolphin slaughters and whale hunts

This is making the rounds of the blogoverse. South Park takes on the Japanese dolphin culls and whale hunts, thanks to the publicity from “The Cove”. It’s worth seeing. As a South Park fan, I must say this is all within character for the show — and it as usual ties the issue up into large intellectual knots, and pushes the frontiers of “taboo humor”. Enjoy, I guess.

http://www.debito.org/?p=4876

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SOME STUFF I’M GETTING UP TO

13) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST OCTOBER 31, 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=4917

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14) My Thurs Nov 5, Sapporo Gakuin Dai speech “Legal Equality for NJ Residents” (download Japanese Powerpoint)

I gave a speech with a 90-slide Powerpoint presentation to SGU last week, and it went most swimmingly. About how the GOJ and its authorities treat NJ residents in ways that are egregiously different from other developed countries, even violate international treaties and statues regarding human rights. Take a look. Download the Powerpoint in Japanese here:

http://www.debito.org/?p=4954

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15) “Lifer” Cartoon in SAPPORO SOURCE: “Things to do in Hokkaido”

SAPPORO SOURCE, our city’s only free bilingual newspaper, has just this month started featuring cartoons by “Lifer”, a Sapporo resident who has enough time on his hands to scribble down some doodles. Here’s the first in the series, RANDOM HOKKAIDO COMIX, click on it to focus in your browser:

http://www.debito.org/?p=4882

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

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!

http://www.debito.org/?p=4968

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… and finally …

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

JUST BE CAUSE
Demography vs. demagoguery: when politics, science collide

The Japan Times Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009
By DEBITO ARUDOU
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20091103ad.html

Last June, I attended a symposium sponsored by the German Institute of Japanese Studies. Themed “Imploding Populations: Global and Local Challenges of Demographic Change,” I took in presentations about health care, international and domestic migration, and life in a geriatric society.

Nothing surprising. The United Nations and our government acknowledged back in 2000 that Japan was heading for a demographic nightmare: a decreasing population, more old people than we can take care of, not enough young people to pay taxes, and economic decline.

Shocking, however, was the bad science: The presenting Japanese scientists were deliberately ignoring data fundamental to their field.

One panel was particularly odd. Panelists concluded, of course, that Japan must do something to stop this demographic juggernaut. A deputy director general at Japan’s National Institute of Population and Social Security Research even extrapolated that Japanese would be extinct by the year 3000! Yet the prospect of Japan’s decimation was no match for the fear of the foreign element.

During the Q-and-A, I asked: “Sir, only briefly in your presentation do you mention letting foreigners into Japan as a possible solution. However, you depict the process not as ‘immigration’ (imin), but as the ‘active use of the foreign working labor population’ (gaikokujin rodoryoku jinko no katsuyo). Why this rhetoric?”

The speaker hedged a bit, suddenly asserting that Japan is now a crowded island society. To paraphrase, “Immigration is not an option for our country. Inflows must be strictly controlled for fear of overpopulation.”

Afterward, one on one, I reconfirmed his intellectual disconnect. He further cited “a lack of national consensus” on the issue. When I asked if this was not a vicious circle (i.e. avoiding public discussion of the issue means no possible consensus), he gave a noncommittal answer. When I asked if “immigration” had become more of a political term than a scientific one, he begged off replying further.

Seems I opened Pandora’s Box. For the rest of the conference, whenever a Japanese presenter discussed every option for Japan’s future but immigration (they all avoided it), they played dodgeball with questions from other scientists. The ignorance was systematic — only one gave a begrudging acknowledgment that foreigners might be necessary for Japan’s future, although he personally couldn’t imagine it.

As a German expert of demographics told me afterward with consternation, “Demographics is the study of population changes: births, deaths, inflows and outflows. How can the Japanese demographers ignore inflows, even the possibility of them, in their assessments and still think they are doing good science?”

The reason is because this science in Japan has become riddled with politics. We know Japan’s population will continue to drop. Yet extinction still seems preferable to letting people in to stay.

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? How seriously can we make continued employment contingent upon a qualification hurdle (such as a tough nursing exam) that would challenge even native speakers?

This will only hurt us as a society in future. Again, we are on the cusp of a future in a society that can’t pay or take care of itself. It’s already happening in Japan’s depopulated countryside. Demographic science, if practiced properly, leads inevitably to that conclusion.

So here’s my reality check: Either way, people will come to Japan — even if it means they find an enfeebled or empty island to live in. With a new political administration in government, we might as well consider bringing in people now while we have more energy and choices.

Time out. Just like that guy at the think tank, time for me to be hit with a Debito-style question: “Who decides what Japan wants?”

Answer: We residents do, of course. But the people who represent or make decisions for us are not necessarily receptive enough (or all that developed as human beings) to understand one simple thing: People who appear to be different are not a threat. We cannot expect leaders and bureaucrats to guide us to a world they cannot envision.

So I will keep asking the Debito Questions, and argue that people like us are a viable alternative to Japan’s slow but inexorable decline. For Japan’s sake, we must save us from ourselves. I’ll suggest how next month.

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

That’s all for this week! Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
Daily Blog updates, RSS Feed and Subscriptions at www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 9, 2009 ENDS

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog. 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. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

//////////////////////////////////////////
Czech man takes son out of Japan in suspected child abduction
Japan Today/Kyodo Sunday 08th November, 06:05 AM JST, Courtesy of JL

http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/czech-man-takes-son-out-of-japan-in-suspected-child-abduction

TOKYO —

A Czech man has taken his 5-year-old son apparently to a place overseas from his home in Gifu Prefecture, prompting the boy’s Japanese mother to seek help from the Foreign Ministry in searching for the boy’s whereabouts, sources close to the matter said Saturday.

The ministry, however, has few means in dealing with the case as Japan is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention that standardizes laws that prevent international parental child abduction, they said.

Japan remaining a non-signatory has drawn international criticism recently after an American father who tried to take back his two children from his Japanese wife was arrested on suspicion of child abduction in Fukuoka Prefecture in September.

The children might have been handed over to the father’s side if Japan were the member of the convention, which stipulates that children should be returned to the original residing place when they are taken forcibly. The mother was reported by some American media to have unlawfully taken the children first from the United States.

While such cases of Japanese women taking their children to Japan after divorcing or separating from their non-Japanese husbands or partners are often reported and cause problems, cases in which children are taken out of Japan have been relatively rare.

In the latest case, Kayoko Yamada, a 40-year-old resident of the city of Yamagata, Gifu, sought help from the Foreign Ministry after her husband, a 31-year-old Czech Republic national, left home with their son on Aug 23, according to the sources.

Yamada received a phone call the following day from the husband, saying he and the son were in Frankfurt, Germany. She has received no contact since then, and assumes they are probably in the Czech Republic, the sources said.

Yamada and her husband have been living in Japan but recently were talking about divorce.

Experts say Japan could seek help from Czech authorities in search of the whereabouts of Yamada’s son if Japan were a member of the convention.

With the annual number of international marriages rising by almost six times over the last 30 years to some 37,000 in Japan last year as a government report indicates, divorce and such related problems have been on the rise as well.

The number of children taken by Japanese parents from the United States, Britain, France and Canada to Japan totaled over 160 as of this May, and some cases involve those wanted on abduction charges.

ENDS

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

チェコ人夫が5歳児海外連れ去り 岐阜の母、返還要求できず

共同通信 2009/11/07, Courtesy of CJ

http://www.47news.jp/CN/200911/CN2009110701000443.html

岐阜県に住む女性看護師の夫のチェコ人(31)が8月、長男(5)を海外に連れ出したまま所在不明となっていることが7日、分かった。外務省は調査に着手したが、父母の一方による子供連れ去りを防ぐ「ハーグ条約」に日本が未加盟のため、女性は返還を求めるすべがない。日本女性が子連れ帰国し問題化する例は増えているが、日本からの連れ去り表面化はまれ。加盟の是非をめぐる議論に一石を投じそうだ。

女性は岐阜県山県市の山田佳代子さん(40)。 山田さんによると留学先のオーストラリアで夫と出会い、日本で結婚したが、夫の暴言や暴力で不仲になり、離婚の話が出ていた。8月23日、長男を連れて家を出た夫はそのまま戻らず、翌日「ドイツのフランクフルトにいる」と国際電話があった。その後はほぼ音信不通状態が続いている。

山田さんは、夫はチェコに帰国したとみて外務省に相談。外務省はチェコの国内法を適用し対処できないか検討しているが、今のところ有効な手段はないという。

ハーグ条約は国際結婚した父母の一方が子供を無断で連れ去った場合、それまで住んでいた国に戻す手続きを定めている。チェコを含む欧米諸国は大多数が加盟しており、専門家によると日本が加盟していればチェコへ子どもの捜索や返還を求めることが可能だ。

(共同)

ENDS

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
Hi Blog.  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.

ichihashinewface

Fuller reports courtesy of Black Tokyo and Japan Probe here, with some TV news reportage:

http://www.blacktokyo.com/?p=4466

http://www.japanprobe.com/2009/11/08/examining-tatsuya-ichihashis-new-face/

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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
Hi Blog.  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!  Cover front and back, table of contents, and sample below, excerpted with permission. Click on any page to expand in your browser.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UPDATE:
Hello Debito,

Greg forwarded your message to me and noted that some readers have expressed interest in getting evaluation copies.

Would it be possible for you to add a link or a note that evaluation copies can be requested from Intercom Press.

Our website is: http://www.intercompress.com
email: texts@intercompress.com
fax: 092-726-5069

Thank you for writing about the text. We really appreciate it.

Regards,
Edward Roosa
Intercom Press, Inc.
3-9-10-701 Tenjin
Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0001
Fax: 092-726-5069
http://www.intercompress.com

(Click on any page to expand in your browser)
stimulatingconversation001

stimulatingconversation002

stimulatingconversation004

stimulatingconversation005

stimulatingconversation003

ENDS

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
Hi Blog. 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.  Courtesy of both CRN and CRC. Arudou Debito

ussenateobama110509

ussenateobama1105092

ussenateobama1105093

ENDS

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  More on how far people are willing to go to get their abducted kids back after divorce.  They don’t send in the SWAT team.  They hire Gus.  Gus himself comments to Debito.org below.  Arudou Debito

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

Gustavo Zamora helps parents find their abducted kids.

http://www.parentdish.com/2009/11/03/vigilante-travels-world-to-save-kids/

A globe-trotting vigilante to retrieves children from foreign countries? Why would you need one?

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.

He goes to other countries and gets kids back — one way or another. “There are lots of ways to recover a child,” he said in an interview with ParentDish. “There’s no one way.”


The Tampa Bay, Fla., resident and former Army Ranger prefers to do things nice and legal. If he can work through a foreign court system, fine. Failing that, he might try to bully foreign officials with threats — or at least bluffs — of crushing media attention.


As a last resort, Zamora said, he will grab the child and run. “That’s when you’ve run out of other options,” he said.


Rest of the article at http://crnjapan.net/The_Japan_Childrens_Rights_Network/itn-gzonptds.html

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

LETTER TO DEBITO.ORG FROM GUS:

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.

Over the years I have spoken at numerous International Parental Abduction conferences. Through the years I have gotten to know the victims of parental abduction both children and their left behind parent. I have met with high-powered world leaders, activists who protest against hypocrisy and that Virginia woman who attempts to manage her local 501 c3 non-profit. I will never really understand what it’s like to lose a child. I am one of the few people who fight in this arena that doesn’t belong to the left behind parents club.

Parents come to me year after year with the same story. They are spent from their losing fight in unjust courts trying to regain their flesh and blood. They have met with politicians some of whom are empathetic and some who will shut their door in your face. These parents are tired and vulnerable, and near wits end.

Organizations like the Children’s Rights Council do good work in most circumstances. Some of their offshoots however do just the opposite. Making statements such as “I know of another case Gus worked on in Japan a few years ago, which also was unsuccessful. I don’t think he’s ever gotten a child out of Japan” are counterproductive and in fact limiting to a parent who should be able to care for their child. Why would a national organization bound by the laws of the United States choose to stymie what could be the last hope a parent has.

There are a number of parents out there who are adversely affected by the way these groups operate. Over the years some parents have come to me in confidence after being told that if they did not continue to support these organizations by following their instructions, attending their conferences and assisting as a volunteer they would be shut out of the group and would be on their own.

I have supported many non-profit organizations and groups from the early evolution of my child recovery career, but very quickly withdrew my support and speaking engagements at their conferences. In the end I decided it was best to withdraw any association with them altogether because of their unproductive nature and dictatorial style. I chose however to associate myself The Children’s Rights Network due to the fact that CRN does nothing other than assists parents.

The Children’s Rights Network doesn’t ask for donations. The Japan Chapter of the Children’s Rights Network website www.crnjapan.net states “We are currently funded by a private organization and do not require donations. Thank you for your support and wish to help…” The information The Children’s Rights Network supplies to parents, attorneys, politicians, and the general public is free of charge. The Children’s Rights Network is there for the families being affected by International Parental Abduction to Japan.

CRN receives up to 20 inquiries per day through crnjapan.net requesting assistance, or just a general push in the right direction. The Children’s Rights Network supplies answers and assistance to those in need. CRN doesn’t ask for donations from a needy parent. Even when a parent makes it as high as the Supreme Court and needs assistance writing a writ. The Children’s Rights network is an organization that has been called “The closest thing I have found to a support group.” I appreciate being associated with a support group as opposed to an organization that on their website sells “items” and requests you become a paid “member.”

No two cases are alike. No two parents are the same. There are never any guarantees made to anyone on any case, at any time. When a case reaches the point that Zamora And Associates needs to be involved we are upfront with the client as to what the risks and costs are. We do the best we can and rarely do parents expect more.

The Japanese case mentioned in the Atlantic Monthly was a successful recovery until it became obvious that the parent had misrepresented their relationship with their child. The parent that hired Zamora And Associates failed to disclose that the child and the parent did not have a close, loving relationship. The child was 100% against a further relationship with said parent.

We had been told over and over again by distraught parents that their child begged for reunification and return. After working hard on plans for a recovery however, on numerous occasions we only find out once the child is in our possession that this is not the case. We will never take an unwilling child from one parent and give that child to the other. Recovery is a last resort for children in dire situations and not something that should ever be based on ego or handled by a commando.

If there is information about any case where Zamora And Associates has misrepresented ourselves or failed to perform our job professionally for a client then please speak up rather than make false claims that we have never been successful in the land of the rising sun.

Zamora and Associates will not participate in any online character assassinations or unproductive bickering when we should all be fighting the evil of International Parental Abduction together. We challenge anyone to prove that they have a track record equal to ours in International child recovery. Do not believe in the self-promoting experts but rather investigate everyone, believe in no one and remember that time is not on your side when there is a child in the balance. No one is an “expert” at something that they cannot do themselves!

I have deep and sincere respect for all those left behind parents who have lost a child or children to another country where our laws and their legal systems refuse to intervene. Over the years I have learned to understand and feel the grief and pain that left behind parents feel everyday that their children are gone. You all have my full support.

Gus Zamora
Zamora & Associates – International Security Consultants
Children’s Rights Network board member

http://www.zamoraandassociates.com

http://www.crnjapan.net

1 – 877 – KID CATCHER

ends

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  For those of you who think that the DPJ is just warmed-over LDP, or that the election last August will result in few changes, the author of this piece for the academic website Japan Focus would beg to differ.  Excerpt follows.  Again, the DPJ keeps surprising me with just how ambitious its policy proposals are.  Be skeptical, of course, since politics in Japan is the art of the stupefying, but having this sort of thing on the drawing board at last is nothing short of remarkable.  Ganbatte Chiba Daijin!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Transfer of Power at Japan’s Justice Ministry

Lawrence Repeta

Japan Focus.org, downloaded November 4, 2009

It may take a little while to get used to this. Longtime observers of the approach to criminal justice sponsored by LDP governments have grown accustomed to several disturbing aspects, including harassment and prosecution of political dissidents on trivial charges (see, e.g., David McNeill), repeated efforts to expand police power through legislation such as the wiretapping law, the long-proposed criminal conspiracy law and others, and total disregard of criticisms and recommendations from international human rights treaty organizations. (Link)

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.

Chiba at work

Ms. Chiba’s opposition to the death penalty has made headlines, but this is only one example of her progressive agenda. Among other things, she has supported local voting rights for non-citizen permanent residents, clear recognition of the injuries suffered by so-called “comfort women” and other victims of Japan’s past aggressions, and expanding the admission of refugees to Japan. Chiba’s track record should provide strong clues to the kind of attitude she brings to her new post.

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.

The baton passed from LDP Minister of Justice Mori Eisuke to DPJ Minister Chiba Keiko on September 17

Her selection of these particular measures for the spotlight displays ambition to make significant institutional reform. They strike at the heart of an established regime that allows arbitrary power to police and other officials. All three measures have been recommended many times by United Nations human rights bodies and other international organizations, but were categorically rejected by LDP governments.

An Independent Human Rights Commission for Japan?

The proposals to establish an independent human rights commission and to ratify “Optional Protocols” to several human rights treaties are each directed toward providing individuals with avenues to bring complaints of abuse to bodies outside the control of the Ministry of Justice and the courts…

Rest of the article at

http://japanfocus.org/-Lawrence-Repeta/3244

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)”

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  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!  Thanks.  Debito in Sapporo

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
(Released to Debito.org November 6, 2009, for Obama’s Japan visit November 12, 2009)

Dear President Obama,

Thank you for taking the time to read these thoughts I’ve put together in anticipation of your upcoming visit to Japan next week.   A few weeks ago while watching the evening news I saw you and your family taking a stroll outside the White house.  That picture reminded me of the countless times I took my sons out for a walk. The glow I saw on Sasha’s face and the confidence of Malia reminded me so much of what it means to be father. It has been four years since I last took a stroll with my boys; four years since I have been allowed to be a father.

When my wife and I divorced in Japan I was unaware that I would not be allowed to continue to be a part of my children’s lives.  Please let me explain.   In most of the civilized countries of the world we understand how important it is for children to have access to both of their parents.  Countless studies have shown that a child needs to gain insight and strength from both their mother and father.  In Japan however, children do not have the same rights.   Custody is never shared.  As stated on The Japan Children’s Rights Network website “The word most often used with the meaning of “child custody” in Japan is “shinken”.  The word consists of the characters (Japanese Kanji) for “Parent” and “Right” However, the real meaning of “shinken” in Japanese is not “Parent’s rights” but is legally more similar to “Parent’s duty”.  So shinken means a duty (or obligation) for the parent in order to bring up child in proper environment and protect him/her.  Married couples share shinken jointly.  But outside of marriage, Japanese law does not permit joint shinken.  Only one parent may hold shinken.  A common reason given to justify the prohibition of joint custody of a child is that the belief that that divorced parents are not able to cooperate in executing their duty in harmonious way.  Not all Japanese believe this, in particular the ones who each year try to obtain joint custody.  But this concept is enshrined in the law.”

For years now I’ve been writing on the Internet about Japan’s abuse of Child and Parental Rights.   At times I’ve been critical of my own government for lacking an understanding of the political, legal, and cultural issues surrounding Japan’s evil attitude.  I followed your campaign for the Presidency and prayed that you would become the first President of the United States to confront Japan on this issue.   I have been impressed with your cabinet’s proactive approach to the issue of International Parental Abduction and hope you will reach out to Prime Minister Hatoyama and help him understand how devastating the loss of a child is.  Interestingly Prime Minister Hatoyama stated that he supports ratification of The Hague Convention “for the sake of justice.”  Even the Prime Minister realizes there can never be justice when a child is deprived of either parent.

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!

Sincerely,
Just another left behind American Dad

ends

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog. Well, look at this. 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.  Read on. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////
New York Times, November 2, 2009
South Koreans Struggle With Race

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/02/world/asia/02race.html?_r=2&ref=global-home&pagewanted=all
By CHOE SANG-HUN, courtesy lots and lots of people

SEOUL — 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.

For Mr. Hussain, subtle discrimination has been part of daily life for the two and half years he has lived here as a student and then research professor at Sungkonghoe University in Seoul. He says that, even in crowded subways, people tend not sit next to him. In June, he said, he fell asleep on a bus and when it reached the terminal, the driver woke him up by poking him in the thigh with his foot, an extremely offensive gesture in South Korea.

“Things got worse for me this time, because I was with a Korean woman,” Mr. Hussain said in an interview. “Whenever I’ve walked with Ms. Hahn or other Korean women, most of the time I felt hostilities, especially from middle-aged men.”

South Korea, a country where until recently people were taught to take pride in their nation’s “ethnic homogeneity” and where the words “skin color” and “peach” are synonymous, is struggling to embrace a new reality. In just the past seven years, the number of foreign residents has doubled, to 1.2 million, even as the country’s population of 48.7 million is expected to drop sharply in coming decades because of its low birth rate.

Many of the foreigners come here to toil at sea or on farms or in factories, providing cheap labor in jobs shunned by South Koreans. Southeast Asian women marry rural farmers who cannot find South Korean brides. People from English-speaking countries find jobs teaching English in a society obsessed with learning the language from native speakers.

For most South Koreans, globalization has largely meant increasing exports or going abroad to study. But now that it is also bringing an influx of foreigners into a society where 42 percent of respondents in a 2008 survey said they had never once spoken with a foreigner, South Koreans are learning to adjust — often uncomfortably.

In a report issued Oct. 21, Amnesty International criticized discrimination in South Korea against migrant workers, who mostly are from poor Asian countries, citing sexual abuse, racial slurs, inadequate safety training and the mandatory disclosure of H.I.V. status, a requirement not imposed on South Koreans in the same jobs. Citing local news media and rights advocates, it said that following last year’s financial downturn, “incidents of xenophobia are on the rise.”

Ms. Hahn said, “Even a friend of mine confided to me that when he sees a Korean woman walking with a foreign man, he feels as if his own mother betrayed him.”

In South Korea, a country repeatedly invaded and subjugated by its bigger neighbors, people’s racial outlooks have been colored by “pure-blood” nationalism as well as traditional patriarchal mores, said Seol Dong-hoon, a sociologist at Chonbuk National University.

Centuries ago, when Korean women who had been taken to China as war prizes and forced into sexual slavery managed to return home, their communities ostracized them as tainted. In the last century, Korean “comfort women,” who worked as sex slaves for the Japanese Imperial Army, faced a similar stigma. Later, women who sold sex to American G.I.’s in the years following the 1950-53 Korean War were despised even more. Their children were shunned as “twigi,” a term once reserved for animal hybrids, said Bae Gee-cheol, 53, whose mother was expelled from her family after she gave birth to him following her rape by an American soldier.

Even today, the North Korean authorities often force abortion on women who return home pregnant after going to China to find food, according to defectors and human rights groups.

“When I travel with my husband, we avoid buses and subways,” said Jung Hye-sil, 42, who married a Pakistani man in 1994. “They glance at me as if I have done something incredible. There is a tendency here to control women and who they can date or marry, in the name of the nation.”

For many Koreans, the first encounter with non-Asians came during the Korean War, when American troops fought on the South Korean side. That experience has complicated South Koreans’ racial perceptions, Mr. Seol said. Today, the mix of envy and loathing of the West, especially of white Americans, is apparent in daily life.

The government and media obsess over each new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, to see how the country ranks against other developed economies. A hugely popular television program is “Chit Chat of Beautiful Ladies” — a show where young, attractive, mostly Caucasian women who are fluent in Korean discuss South Korea. Yet, when South Koreans refer to Americans in private conversations, they nearly always attach the same suffix as when they talk about the Japanese and Chinese, their historical masters: “nom,” which means “bastards.” Tammy Chu, 34, a Korean-born film director who was adopted by Americans and grew up in New York State, said she had been “scolded and yelled at” in Seoul subways for speaking in English and thus “not being Korean enough.” Then, she said, her applications for a job as an English teacher were rejected on the grounds that she was “not white enough.”

Ms. Hahn said that after the incident in the bus last July, her family was “turned upside down.” Her father and other relatives grilled her as to whether she was dating Mr. Hussain. But when a cousin recently married a German, “all my relatives envied her, as if her marriage was a boon to our family,” she said.

The Foreign Ministry supports an anti-discrimination law, said Kim Se-won, a ministry official. In 2007, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommended that South Korea adopt such a law, deploring the widespread use of terms like “pure blood” and “mixed blood.” It urged public education to overcome the notion that South Korea was “ethnically homogenous,” which, it said, “no longer corresponds to the actual situation.”

But a recent forum to discuss proposed legislation against racial discrimination turned into a shouting match when several critics who had networked through the Internet showed up. They charged that such a law would only encourage even more migrant workers to come to South Korea, pushing native workers out of jobs and creating crime-infested slums. They also said it was too difficult to define what was racially or culturally offensive.

“Our ethnic homogeneity is a blessing,” said one of the critics, Lee Sung-bok, a bricklayer who said his job was threatened by migrant workers. “If they keep flooding in, who can guarantee our country won’t be torn apart by ethnic war as in Sri Lanka?”

ENDS

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
Hi Blog. 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。
http://www.sgu.ac.jp/other/do050b0000000bdm-att/j09tjo0000000aes.pdf

Powerpoint here.
http://www.debito.org/sgu110509.ppt

Have a look! Or come see. Debito

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

justbecauseicon.jpg
JUST BE CAUSE
Demography vs. demagoguery: when politics, science collide

The Japan Times Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009
By DEBITO ARUDOU
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20091103ad.html

Last June, I attended a symposium sponsored by the German Institute of Japanese Studies. Themed “Imploding Populations: Global and Local Challenges of Demographic Change,” I took in presentations about health care, international and domestic migration, and life in a geriatric society.

Nothing surprising. The United Nations and our government acknowledged back in 2000 that Japan was heading for a demographic nightmare: a decreasing population, more old people than we can take care of, not enough young people to pay taxes, and economic decline.

Shocking, however, was the bad science: The presenting Japanese scientists were deliberately ignoring data fundamental to their field.

One panel was particularly odd. Panelists concluded, of course, that Japan must do something to stop this demographic juggernaut. A deputy director general at Japan’s National Institute of Population and Social Security Research even extrapolated that Japanese would be extinct by the year 3000! Yet the prospect of Japan’s decimation was no match for the fear of the foreign element.

During the Q-and-A, I asked: “Sir, only briefly in your presentation do you mention letting foreigners into Japan as a possible solution. However, you depict the process not as ‘immigration’ (imin), but as the ‘active use of the foreign working labor population’ (gaikokujin rodoryoku jinko no katsuyo). Why this rhetoric?”

The speaker hedged a bit, suddenly asserting that Japan is now a crowded island society. To paraphrase, “Immigration is not an option for our country. Inflows must be strictly controlled for fear of overpopulation.”

Afterward, one on one, I reconfirmed his intellectual disconnect. He further cited “a lack of national consensus” on the issue. When I asked if this was not a vicious circle (i.e. avoiding public discussion of the issue means no possible consensus), he gave a noncommittal answer. When I asked if “immigration” had become more of a political term than a scientific one, he begged off replying further.

Seems I opened Pandora’s Box. For the rest of the conference, whenever a Japanese presenter discussed every option for Japan’s future but immigration (they all avoided it), they played dodgeball with questions from other scientists. The ignorance was systematic — only one gave a begrudging acknowledgment that foreigners might be necessary for Japan’s future, although he personally couldn’t imagine it.

As a German expert of demographics told me afterward with consternation, “Demographics is the study of population changes: births, deaths, inflows and outflows. How can the Japanese demographers ignore inflows, even the possibility of them, in their assessments and still think they are doing good science?”

The reason is because this science in Japan has become riddled with politics. We know Japan’s population will continue to drop. Yet extinction still seems preferable to letting people in to stay.

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? How seriously can we make continued employment contingent upon a qualification hurdle (such as a tough nursing exam) that would challenge even native speakers?

This will only hurt us as a society in future. Again, we are on the cusp of a future in a society that can’t pay or take care of itself. It’s already happening in Japan’s depopulated countryside. Demographic science, if practiced properly, leads inevitably to that conclusion.

So here’s my reality check: Either way, people will come to Japan — even if it means they find an enfeebled or empty island to live in. With a new political administration in government, we might as well consider bringing in people now while we have more energy and choices.

Time out. Just like that guy at the think tank, time for me to be hit with a Debito-style question: “Who decides what Japan wants?”

Answer: We residents do, of course. But the people who represent or make decisions for us are not necessarily receptive enough (or all that developed as human beings) to understand one simple thing: People who appear to be different are not a threat. We cannot expect leaders and bureaucrats to guide us to a world they cannot envision.

So I will keep asking the Debito Questions, and argue that people like us are a viable alternative to Japan’s slow but inexorable decline. For Japan’s sake, we must save us from ourselves. I’ll suggest how next month.

Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month.
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG PODCAST OCTOBER 31, 2009

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCAST OCTOBER 31, 2009

debitopodcast
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.

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  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.  Christopher Johnson, writing for the FCCJ’s Number One Shimbun of October 2007, commented (excerpt):

THE ELECTION : Two – Is NHK still in bed with the LDP?

State-funded network still airing views of defeated politicians

After booting them from power in a landslide vote, many Japanese were hoping to forget about the Liberal Democratic Party and its 55 years of rule, at least for now.

But not NHK.

The night of the election, when the opposition Democratic Party of Japan trounced the ruling party by a 3:1 margin, NHK paid special attention to the victory of young LDP candidate Shinjiro Koizumi, the son of former LDP leader Junichiro Koizumi.

The day after the election, when Japanese were experiencing real democratic change for perhaps the first time, NHK news featured an all-party discussion, where it allowed LDP Secretary-General Hiroyuki Hosoda to browbeat the victorious Katsuya Okada and criticize the DPJ’s plans to reward the public with free roadways and education.

It’s as if the public had never spoken, had never fired Hosoda and the LDP. NHK, which has grown accustomed to propagating the views of the almighty LDP, was apparently the last to get the message that Japanese citizens have had enough of old-guard politicians.

It’s hard to imagine CNN, after Obama’s historic victory, allowing John McCain to shoot the air out of the Democrats, or the BBC hosting a forum to gang up on a party just given a massive mandate to rule.

NHK didn’t stop there. All week, the network played up the race for the LDP leadership, as if anyone cares. It also ridiculed rookie DPJ lawmakers in their 20s and 30s, suggesting they wouldn’t know how to carry out their duties.

And then, moments after the Diet selected Yukio Hatoyama as Japan’s new prime minister, NHK focused yet again on LDP golden boy Koizumi, as if he, and not the DPJ, is the future hope of Japan…

… overall, NHK, as well as many elements of the Japanese and foreign media, has failed to realize that Japan’s election is nothing short of a social revolution, and a blow to the old-boys’ network nationwide… NHK continues to grant the LDP more air time than it ever gave opposition parties in the past.

Rest of the article at:

http://www.fccj.or.jp/node/5001

Anyone else noticing this?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  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.  Arudou Debito

UPDATE:  Here it is:

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20091103ad.html

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  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.  Let’s hope some professor has the cojones to take it to court.  (Not me:  I’m tenured already, thank goodness.)  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Supreme Court scraps Japanese nationality requirement for legal training
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN 2009/10/29, Courtesy HH

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200910290213.html

Ending what has long been labeled discriminatory, the Supreme Court has scrapped a clause requiring Japanese nationality among those seeking legal training to start careers in the judiciary.

Non-Japanese who have passed the bar examination have, in fact, undergone legal training, but only under “exceptional” measures and if the Supreme Court deems them “adequate.”

Foreign nationals and officials at the Japan Federation of Bar Associations have said the clause has unfairly shut the door on many non-Japanese and demanded its elimination.

The clause stems from a Cabinet legislation bureau policy that states that Japanese nationality is a prerequisite for those applying for public service work that involves the execution of public power or has a bearing on the formulation of national intention.

That policy was extended to legal training based on the reasoning that trainees could attend prosecutors’ questioning of suspects or closed-door counsel discussions held by courts.

A Supreme Court official explained the court decided to “delete any mention that suggests that in principle (non-Japanese) cannot be accepted (for legal training).”

Tokuji Izumi, a lawyer and former Supreme Court justice, said he hopes the move will increase the number of foreign lawyers practicing in Japan and “will help in protecting the rights of foreign nationals.”

Izumi was involved in the top court’s acceptance in 1976 of Kim Kyung Duk, an ethnic Korean born in Japan, for legal training.

Kim had put consistent pressure on the Supreme Court, and became the first non-Japanese to enter legal training in 1977. He went on to become a prominent human rights lawyer in Japan before his death in 2005.

After lobbying by Kim and others, the Supreme Court agreed to allow “those deemed adequate to attend (legal training),” but it kept the nationality clause.

In 1990, the top court scrapped its policy of requiring foreign applicants to pledge to abide by the law. The court also widened the scope of those eligible for legal training to include foreign nationals who do not hold permanent residence status.

But the court still retained the nationality clause.

According to the Supreme Court, more than 140 foreign nationals who passed the bar examination have attended legal training.

In applying for legal training, applicants must submit copies of family registries known as koseki. Since foreign nationals do not hold koseki, the Supreme Court will request documents to prove their residency in Japan.

Non-Japanese are also barred from being employed as prosecutors or judges, which are national civil servant jobs.

Foreign nationals who complete legal training can enter the judiciary as lawyers, but they will have to acquire Japanese nationality before working as judges or prosecutors.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has also submitted a request that district and family courts accept foreign lawyers as judicial commissioners and mediators “regardless of nationality if they are qualified.”(IHT/Asahi: October 29,2009)

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

Supreme Court eliminates Japanese citizenship requirement for articling students
(Mainichi Japan) October 30, 2009, Courtesy JK

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20091030p2a00m0na012000c.html

The Supreme Court has eliminated the Japanese citizenship requirement for student articling positions at courts of law.

“The citizenship requirement was eliminated because the courts could be seen as denying employment based solely on the question of citizenship,” the court stated. The decision will first affect those taking up articling positions in November.

Those who pass the bar exam can go on to become articling students, after which they take a final graduation exam and, if they pass, may become courtroom lawyers, judges and public prosecutors. Until the ruling, Japanese citizenship was a requirement to become an articling student at the court as, in order to prepare for jobs as judges or prosecutors, they studied “the exercise of government power involved in being a civil servant.”

In 1977, the court created exceptions to the ban on foreigners holding legal positions. Foreigners may not become public prosecutors or judges, which as civil servants must hold Japanese citizenship, but may become courtroom lawyers.

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

「司法修習生は日本国籍必要」条項を削除 最高裁
2009年10月29日8時1分 朝日新聞
http://www.asahi.com/national/update/1029/TKY200910280425.html

最高裁は11月から修習を始める司法修習生の選考要項から日本国籍を必要とする「国籍条項」を削除した。最高裁は外国籍の司法試験合格者には30年以上、特例の形で修習を認めてきたが、在日外国人や日本弁護士連合会などが「差別だ」として条項自体の削除を求めていた。

司法試験の受験資格には以前から国籍条項はない。だが合格者が実務を学ぶ司法修習では、検察庁で容疑者の取り調べをしたり、裁判所で非公開の合議に立ち会ったりする機会がある。そのため、最高裁は「公権力の行使や国家意思の形成に携わる公務員には日本国籍が必要」との内閣法制局の見解を準用。外国籍の合格者には日本国籍取得を修習生として採用する際の条件としてきた。

しかし、76年、司法試験に合格した在日韓国人の金敬得(キム・キョンドク)さん(故人)が韓国籍のままでの採用を希望。全国的に支援が広がり、最高裁は77年に国籍条項は残したまま「相当と認めるものに限り、採用する」との方針を示し、金さんの採用を決めた。

90年には、外国籍の希望者に提出を義務づけていた法律順守の誓約書の廃止を決めた。さらに、永住権がない人に対しても修習を認めるなど特例扱いでこの問題に対応してきたが、一方で、国籍条項はそのまま記載していた。

最高裁によると、これまで140人以上の外国籍の合格者が司法修習を受けたという。国家公務員である検察官と裁判官には任用されないため、外国籍の修習生は日本国籍を取得したうえで任官するか、弁護士になっている。

司法修習生の選考を申し込む際は戸籍抄本などが必要。外国籍の場合は戸籍がないため、最高裁は、日本に定住していることを示す資料などの提出は引き続き求めるという。要項から条項を削除した理由について最高裁は「原則として採用しないと読めるような記載は削除した」と説明している。(三橋麻子、中井大助)

最高裁事務総局の任用課長として、金さんの採用問題に取り組んだ元最高裁判事の泉徳治弁護士の話 自由に職業を選択し、自己実現をはかることは基本的人権の中核をなす。実質的には外国籍の人も司法修習生に採用していたとはいえ、国籍条項は外国籍の人からすれば、差別感を感じることもあっただろう。外国籍の弁護士が増えることは、外国人の権利の救済が進むことにもつながると思う。

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

司法修習生:採用選考要項から国籍条項を削除 最高裁
毎日新聞 2009年10月29日
http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20091030k0000m040086000c.html
最高裁は、司法修習生の採用選考要項から「日本国籍が必要」との国籍条項を削除した。適用は、11月に司法修習を始める人たちから。外国籍の司法試験合格者は77年以降、特例として司法修習を認められているが、国籍条項は残ったままで、日本弁護士連合会などから削除を求める声が上がっていた。

司法試験合格者は、司法修習を終え卒業試験に合格して初めて、裁判官、検事、弁護士になれる。修習中には裁判官や検察官の実務を学ぶため、「公権力の行使などに携わる公務員は日本国籍が必要」として、司法修習生の採用選考を受けるには日本国籍の取得が必須とされていた。

しかし、在日韓国人の故金敬得(キム・キョンドク)さん(後に弁護士)が、「外国人に門戸を開かないのは不当だ」と韓国籍のまま採用を希望したことを受け、最高裁は77年に国籍条項を残しながらも「相当と認めた者」について採用を認める例外規定を設けた。【銭場裕司】

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  Forwarding.  Wasn’t there, won’t comment.  Arudou Debito

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

Last night the whole city was on fire. So many Japanese dressing up,
Roppongi and especially Shibuya looked like cute horror houses, and
there was this strong (positive) tension in the air, that makes Tokyo
nights so special…

But there was one exception to the party: 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 atrocitiies
– and a premier for this year, there were at least more than 100
PROTESTERS outside the kaisatsu, holding up signs against – I didnt
really come close enough to see against what, but when we got close
the kaisatsu from inside (entered through another exit), they were
shouting “Hiroshima, Nagasaki” at me (!) and Dan, almost as if they
had waited for somebody to show up to be yelled at. I yelled “Dresden”
back, but then already the cops were pushing us back. Anyway, why
should we play their spiel….
This whole anti-gaijin thing was apparently organised by 2chan.

And here is the punchline: there were apparently almost no gaijin or
other people there to do the Yamanote Halloween, definitely no more
than 10 people who seemed to be there explicitly for that.

Some people got on the train in Ikebukuro (nice idea), but the party
essentially consisted of me and Dan drinking a bottle of Denki Bran.
the guys with the camera, apparently out of frustration of lack of not
finding anything illegal, finally shouted at us – “it is not allowed
to drink on the train”. I took their picture too, and they left in
Nishi-Nippori. we had upheld the tradition, so in Nippori we got off
the train and went to far more pleasant areas…

So far, nothing in the news or on youtube. if anything, it was those
protesters who were loud, aggressive, and wild. and stupid.

Sincerely, N.

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  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.

Download the entire issue of SAPPORO SOURCE here in pdf format.  Cover, scanned page, and text of the article follows.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

(Click on images to expand in your browser)

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sapporosource1109002

Text:
ON HUMOR
SAPPORO SOURCE Column 5 to be published in November 2009 issue
DRAFT TWELVE AND FINAL DRAFT

Look at my photo above. I look like a real sourpuss, don’t I? (Hey Editor: Go ahead and insert witty comment here.) But don’t judge this puss by his fur. I am in fact the Cheshire Cat — a man who smiles and laughs a lot. In fact, without humor, I think we would all go insane.

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.

There’s the “likeability” quotient: We might dislike a politician or opinion leader, but one good gag from him and suddenly he is “charming”. Televised debates in Japan must have the occasional joke or they get overbearing — viewers crave that spoonful of sugar for entertainment value. I know at least one politician who gets elected on amusing charisma alone. And look how much pressure is on Democratic Party of Japan’s Okada Katsuya just to smile!

There’s the popularity factor: Have a good jester attend a soiree, and suddenly he’s the “life of the party” and soon invited back. Remember your Class Clowns of yesteryear? (It’s easy to, isn’t it?) They often go on to bigger things. Some of the richest people in the world are comedians, literally laughing all the way to the bank.

Humor even influences love. One common reason for choosing a spouse? “He makes me laugh.”

Humor is also a powerful analytical tool. Consider one variant — irony — and the social service it provides. For example, listen to what comedian Stephen Colbert said about former President Bush in 2006 during a speech at the White House:

“The greatest thing about this man is that he is steady… He believes the same thing Wednesday as he did Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday.”

Not only did many laugh at that, but some also realized the Emperor Has No Clothes. A joke can penetrate farther into the psyche than reams of political commentary. Public figures: Alienate the stand-up comedians at your peril.

In Japan, however, the lack of irony as a source of humor severely impairs political analysis (one exception: outstanding political impressionist group “Newspaper”). But not to worry: Japan too has its fount of silliness and wordplay.

Thanks to a language replete with homophones, and a set time and place for laughter (be it manzai, rakugo, or konto), Japan has no shortage of belly laughs. Humorwise, I am at home here, being an incorrigible punster (so don’t encorrige me!). In fact, bring out the booze and the stereotypes of the sexes and suddenly you have an evening of mirth and jape.

Although Japan sometimes seems to have rules just to spoil your fun, it sure knows how and when to let loose and party. And laugh.

Back to my personal relationship with humor. I talk about serious topics every single day on my blog, Debito.org — so much so that people have said I depress them, and they ask why I don’t depress myself. Easy. Every single day, for at least an hour a day, I find something that is funny.

I own all of “South Park”, a show that defies gravity by getting better over the years. I collect “Simpsons”, “King of the Hill”, “Monty Python”, George Carlin, Stuart McLean, and Robin Williams. I subscribe to comic books and Britain’s Private Eye magazine (with so much irony you can’t take regular articles seriously again). I get silly in conversations with friends, and try to work in the occasional dirty joke. I guffaw at night and get back in my groove by morning.

So should you. As people who can understand English — and that means you, readers of this column — you can tap into a wellspring of well-developed humor culture, including racial and ethnic humor, accents, sarcasm, and no-holds-barred parody. Take advantage of it.

Because it is the people who do not laugh and erupt in small doses who wind up erupting in large doses — rending asunder all around them. The humorless never let themselves lose control however momentarily, and they smother their soul in the process.

Beware: It is the soulless who make the most inhumane decisions. Consider the company of some humorless historical figures: Spain’s Franco, Zaire’s Mobutu, Zimbabwe’s Mugabe, Turkmenistan’s Niyazov, Burma’s entire ruling junta. Not to mention Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and the Kims.

I agree it’s certainly less enjoyable to be laughed at than laughed with, but the people who cannot laugh at themselves are the ones who, given enough power, actively stop anyone poking fun at them. Those paranoid about not being taken seriously are the ones most likely to become dictatorial, suppressing their public until they are straddling their own political volcanoes. Yet all you have to do is laugh at them, and the walls around naked emperors come crashing down.

Humor is what will save mankind from itself, for it rehumanizes people and puts things in perspective. So, everyone, every day find a way to laugh yourself silly. Even if it means just going down to the beach alone and sniggering at the seagulls. It’s good for you. No matter what’s bothering you, I guarantee you’ll have the last laugh.
ENDS
955 WORDS