Archive for December, 2009
Posted by debito on 31st December 2009
Posted in Humor, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Issho.org/Tony Laszlo, Media, 日本語 | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 31st December 2009
I want to offer my congratulations to Oguri Saori, very successful author of the “Darling wa Gaikokujin” series (translated as “My Darling is a Foreigner”, but officially subtitled “My Darling is Ambidextrous”), for the news just out this month that the first book in the series will be made into a live-action movie (starring Inoue Mao and Jonathan Share as Saori and Tonii respectively). The empire built upon the dream being sold to Japanese women for marrying a white foreigner keeps on gathering strength.
Although portrayed in the movie by the very handsome and disarming Jonathan as a “grass-eating man”, Tonii in real life is not as he is cartooned. Laszlo is a big fan of putting his funds into threatening lawsuits, for one thing. And of deleting internet archives. And more. It just so happens I found a cartoon parodying this phenomenon of the contrasts. As the last post on Debito.org for this decade, enjoy.
Posted in Humor, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Issho.org/Tony Laszlo, Lawsuits, Media, 日本語 | 13 Comments »
Posted by debito on 28th December 2009
Simon and Schuster sent me this book for review, and I know not why. I am probably the last person to whom you’d send “Chick Lit” (defined as a genre where the protagonist is a young female trying to make it in the modern world dealing with issues that women face, whether it be them learning how to stand on their own two feet, or just about them being passionate about career, style, personal appearance, shopping…). But I did sit down and get through it. I agree with the reviews on Amazon.com — it’s “an easy read”. That’s not much of a compliment, however: If the most positive thing you can say about a literary work is that you got through it quickly, that’s damning with faint praise indeed.
So let’s get through this review and make it a quick read too. Start with the obvious: J.A.P. Having a racial epithet cloaked as an ethnic slur (I hail from Cornell University, so am plenty aware of “Jewish American Princesses”) in the very title already puts me off — as very culturally insensitive. What were you thinking, S&S?…
Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Media, Tangents | 22 Comments »
Posted by debito on 27th December 2009
Counterpoint letter in the JT, concludes: “The question of civil rights in Japan is real and the question of immigration will soon be as well. Japan cannot simply turn back the clock and expel the foreigners. To avoid future confrontation and hardship for everyone — Japanese and foreigners alike — these issues require serious consideration. Some of us here are not just expatriates or perpetual tourists; some of us are trying our hardest to lead a normal life in the land that we live in and love. If you won’t help, why get in the way?”
Posted in Good News, Immigration & Assimilation | 7 Comments »
Posted by debito on 26th December 2009
Movie review conclusion: But in terms of what lingers after AVATAR is all over, it’s not the environmental lesson, or the good versus business/military ethics, or even the 3D. It’s the planet of Pandora, and how lovely it must be to see it in all it’s glory without the goddamn glasses on. I hope someone who cares as much as James Cameron about movie craft comes along and makes the 3D technology something that gives us the focus and color as vibrantly as without. Next time. Thanks for the good college try, Mr Cameron. You haven’t lost your touch. Grade: B-
Posted in Media, Tangents | 7 Comments »
Posted by debito on 24th December 2009
For the holidays, here’s a timely cartoon by Lifer from the December 2009 issue of Hokkaido Free Paper SAPPORO SOURCE. How to enjoy the end-year holidays in Japan, with a twist, as always.
Posted in Cultural Issue, Humor, Tangents | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 24th December 2009
Get a load of these letters to the editor (including authors who won’t reveal their names, or don’t live in Japan anyway) responding acidulously to my Japan Times column earlier this month, where I made constructive proposals for making Japan a place more attractive for immigration. (Many of these proposals were made not just by me, but also by former Immigration bureaucrat Sakanaka Hidenori; so much for their pat claim below of imposing my moral values).
It’s times like these when I think human society really has a bottomless capacity for oozing disdain for and wishing ill-will upon others. None of these respondents appear to be immigrants, or have any expressed interest in investing in this society, yet they heap scorn upon those who might plan to. I know paper will never refuse ink, but surely these people have more productive uses of their time then just scribbling poorly-researched and nasty screeds that help no-one. The self-injuring, snake-eating-its-tail mentality seen in NJ vets of Japan is something worthy of study by psychologists, methinks. Any takers?
Posted in Bad Social Science, Discussions, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies | 52 Comments »
Posted by debito on 23rd December 2009
Steve: Proposed plan of action: a law-abiding human here in Japan (with taxes, national insurance, and even pension – all paid-up in full (nod to Hoofin), preferably a permanent resident of Japan or Japanese national, to avoid the possibility of visa-denial retaliation) who has an establishment (a bar, restaurant, shop, whatever) AND COURAGE (very essential) and good property insurance (also essential, since some right-wing crazies will probably break some windows and/or start some fires) should put up a big sign out front proclaiming “No Japanese” and/or “No Japanese may enter” and/or “Non-Japanese Only” and/or “Entry Restricted to Non-Japanese” (in perfect Japanese of course) PLUS underneath this sign should be big poster-sized-laminated-PHOTOS of all the variations of “Japanese Only” signs found in Japan (e.g. www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html – especially photos of the signs written in Japanese such as http://www.debito.org/edensign030707.jpg) PLUS underneath those photos should be a sentence in Japanese which says, “Japan needs a law which clearly states, ‘Barring entry to private establishments based on nationality, or race, is hereby illegal, and violators of this law will be prosecuted and face severe penalties.’ ”
A well-written (triple-proofread) press-release in Japanese together with this story’s dramatic money-shot: a well-taken photo which clearly shows the whole picture, meaning, the controversial “Non-Japanese Only” sign TOGETHER with the big poster-sized-laminated-photos of “Japanese Only” signs directly underneath that, TOGETHER with the solution to this problem stated underneath that, specifically, our proposed law against discrimination.
Posted in Exclusionism, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Practical advice | 34 Comments »
Posted by debito on 22nd December 2009
Hi Debito: OK, this is good:
“Yomiuri: Scriveners aid illegal marriages, work”
I assume that the clerks in question are going out of their way to assist foreigners in obtaining residency permits (even to the point of placing ads in newspapers) due to bribery (as opposed to benevolence), and that this behavior is motivated by said clerks’ cognizance of loopholes in the immigration control law.
If so, then there’s nothing less than a government-backed residency permit black market at work, which, I might add, shows no signs of going away — a simple to fix the problem would be to amend the immigration control law to punish the clerks as needed, but is that what’s happening? No. Instead the issue is being given superficial treatment…
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 21st December 2009
DR writes: Sanding Down Your Fingerprints
Incensed by the Japanese government’s slavish following of the US fingerprinting program, I decided to take charge of my own biometrics.
(1) The temptation to use harsh, large grit sanding paper was my first impulse, but I settled on a very fine black glass paper for the huge amount of 85 Yen at Jumbo Encho. Usually the packages have a window so the grade of paper can be felt without opening it.
(2) I started sanding on my outbound journey. It was a Nagoya to Frankfurt trip, 12 hours and lots of time to gently sand all my finger and thumb prints lightly. The secret is lightly.
(3) I was to be in the EU for almost three weeks, so about ten minutes per day I would sand a little, lightly. Even sanding lightly it’s easy to break the skin and to expose muscle fibres, causing bleeding. Any distinguishing mark makes a fingerprint more identifiable, and defeats the whole purpose. After about a week I felt like a safe-cracker. Everything I touched was more pronounced; heat, cold, textures. Everything. I couldn’t touch the strings on a guitar as my fingers were too sensitive. I could distinguish the dots on Braille texts much better than before! Eventually the fingers callous-over and, with time, the surfaces become harder…
Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Practical advice | 14 Comments »
Posted by debito on 20th December 2009
For a Sunday Tangent, watch what happens when an exclusionary sign goes up in, say, India. Article from the Times of India follows (of quite questionable writing quality, but never mind). More interesting than the article are the comments from readers below it online. They are not amused, indeed. Have a read.
Posted in Exclusionism, Tangents | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 19th December 2009
Table of Contents:
NEW PET PEEVES
1) The ludicrousness of Japan’s Salary Bonus System: How it contributes to Japan’s deflationary spiral
2) Health insurance advocate “Free Choice Foundation” is fronting US health insurance business
3) One NJ exchange student’s rotten experience as a J MOE-MEXT ryuugakusei
4) Mainichi: Senior Immigration Bureau officer arrested on suspicion of corruption
5) NPA now charging suspect Ichihashi with Hawker murder, not just “abandoning her corpse”. Why the delay?
6) Bern Mulvey JALT presentation on flawed MEXT university accreditation system
OLD PET PEEVES:
7) Kyodo: GOJ responsible for hardship facing Ainu, incl racial profiling by J police on the street!
8 ) GS on Michael Moore’s rights to complain about being fingerprinted at Japanese border
9) US Congress Lantos HR Commission on J Child Abductions issue: Letters to Obama & Clinton, my submission for Congressional Record
10) UN News: “Ending complacency key to fighting discrimination worldwide”
11) EU Observer: “Racism at shocking levels” in European Union
12) Debito.org Podcast December 20, 2009 (with un-serious articles for a change)
13) Behind the scenes from Copenhagen EcoSummit (COP15), Eric Johnston blog
14) Headachingly bad Japan travelogue by Daily Beast’s “new travel columnist” Jolie Hunt. Whale on it.
15) Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column out Tues January 5, 2010.
Topic: Roundup: The most significant human rights advances in Japan in 2009.
… and finally …
16) SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO column Dec 2009: Top 9 Things I Like about Japan (full text)
Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 19th December 2009
As the year (and the decade) runs out, let’s make my last podcast something a little merrier. I read my first three SAPPORO SOURCE columns, on 1) Hokkaido Winters, 2) Hokkaido Summers, and 3) the concept of The Album (something that is fading as an art form due to “tracks” downloading). Give them a try. Twenty minutes. Plus Duran Duran and Tangerine Dream excerpts, of course.
Posted in Podcasts | 1 Comment »
Posted by debito on 19th December 2009
Dr Bern Mulvey of Iwate University gave a presentation for PALE at the national JALT Conference last November. Entitled “UNIVERSITY ACCREDITATION IN JAPAN: PROBLEMS AND POSSIBILITIES”, it outlines how Monkasho (the infamous Education Ministry in Japan) certifies universities as teaching institutions, and what measures it takes to ensure quality control. The presentation shows a lot of the tricks and sleights of hands the universities do to keep their status (particularly in regards to FD — as in that buzzword “Faculty Development”, and peer review) without actually changing much. I asked his permission to reproduce his powerpoint on Debito.org, so here it is as fifteen slides and downloadable ppt format:
Posted in Bad Social Science, Education, Japanese Government, Tangents | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 18th December 2009
Kyodo: A member of a disbanded government panel on policies related to the Ainu said Saturday that the panel wanted to send a message to the government and the public that state policy has imposed hardships on the indigenous people and caused discrimination against them. ‘‘We wanted to make it clear and tell the people in our report that the state was responsible for the suffering imposed on the Ainu and the disparities (between them and the majority group),’’ Teruki Tsunemoto, head of the Hokkaido University Center for Ainu & Indigenous Studies, told a symposium on Ainu policy in Tokyo…
[Ainu panelist] Tomoko Yahata said she was stopped and searched in Tokyo nine times over the six months through October. ‘‘Responding to my question as to why they had stopped me, the police officers said it is because there are many overstaying foreigners,’’ she said. Many Ainu must be facing similar difficulties as they now live nationwide, she suggested…
Tsunemoto was one of the eight members of the panel, which was set up after Japan recognized the Ainu as an indigenous people last year and issued the report in July this year. The panel urged the government in the report to take concrete steps to improve the lives of Ainu people and promote public understanding of them through education.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Education, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Japanese Government | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 17th December 2009
Big news across Japan these past couple of days has been how the Winter Bonus has been slashed between 10 to 15 percent for bureaucrats. Some people might say, well, tough beans — these bureaucrats were being overpaid anyway, so it’s about time. The problem is that this practice is a bellwether: other industries see this as an excuse to cut their own salaries. My university (which is private-sector, but they directly cited the Bonus cuts to the national bureaucrats (kokka koumuin) as justification) cut all of our Bonuses this year and will continue to do so in perpetuity. As in: they cut our bonus multiple from 4.5 months’ salary total per year to 4.15 months’, and will not change that until the national bureaucrats revise their multiple upward.
I heard yesterday from a friend that he heard on the TV wide shows that only 14% of all people surveyed got a rise in Winter Bonus this December. Everyone else either had no change, a drop, or NO BONUS AT ALL. If this is true, and almost everyone is getting screwed by this system and losing money in real terms, it’s not just a labor issue anymore: We’re talking about a deflationary spiral, as domestic consumption decreases and domestic demand follows suit, and more companies find themselves yet again cutting Bonuses because they say they have to, but really because they can.
Conclusion: Lose the Bonus System. It is increasingly becoming a way to deprive workers of a third of their annual salary at corporate whim. And it only feeds the forces that are hurting Japan’s consumers.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 51 Comments »
Posted by debito on 16th December 2009
Introduction: Through the blog of Mr. Arudou Debito (www.debito.org), I’ve read part of Mr. Moore’s interview in Japan, in which he reported his fingerprinting experiences at the border (see http://www.debito.org/?p=5347). Though through this web form my message probably gets to the inbox of a webmaster, I hope you may find my response interesting enough to patch through to him. I would like to provide him with some hopefully interesting food for thought about fingerprinting in general, and the J-VIS (Japanese border check) system in particular.
Mr. Moore apparently got the hostile response that if he refused, he would be deported back to the United States on his question why he would have to be fingerprinted. I guess a good introduction to my story would be to point his attention to Article 4 of the Japanese “Act on the Protection of Personal Information Held by Administrative Organs”…
Conclusion: And yet more food for thought. With almost every other identifier and keys, from physical keys to credit cards to drivers’ licenses to passports, the reason we have them is that we can replace them when the legitimate user gets into trouble because something goes wrong. We would find it unacceptable to hear: “Sorry, we found out your car key / credit card / passport has been copied / isn’t accepted as well as it should be / doesn’t fit / …, but you can’t replace it, so you just have to live with the problem.” Why then do we accept that with fingerprints…?
Posted in Bad Social Science, Discussions, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 15th December 2009
A friend writes, excerpt: “Moreover, Kessler K.K., the Free Choice Foundation, HealthOne and its sponsoring company, Legend Travelers, as well as “National Health Insurance Watch”–a website that shares different two ways (with a disclaimer!) how NJ can use deceit to get themselves off kokumin kenko hoken — all five are supported by the same internet server that is registered to [Free Choice Foundation chair] Mr. Kessler. In America no less!
“What is the real story? Is it about free choice? Fairness to NJ? Or simply arguing that Japan should ignore its own social insurance laws when it comes to NJ, so that someone else can make a business out of it?”
Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 28 Comments »
Posted by debito on 14th December 2009
Last week I reported on the US Congress’s investigation of Japan as a haven for international child abductions, and a December 4, 2009 hearing that many of the Left-Behind Parents attended and issued statements to. The Congressman Lantos Human Rights Commission has since issued letters, signed by several Congresspeople, to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, requesting they personally meet with select representatives of the LBP and consider their issue. Scans of those letters enclosed below.
I was also invited to write a statement, as a LBP myself, for inclusion in the Congressional Record. The text of that follows the Obama and Clinton letters.
Conclusion to my statement: “In sum, it is my belief that, with Family Laws in Japan as they stand, nobody (Japanese citizen or non-Japanese) should get married and have children in Japan. The risk is just too great. Too many children are getting hurt by a system that encourages Parental Alienation Syndrome, and creates single-parent households that can be acrimonious to the point of deterring the children from becoming parents themselves.
“I urge Congress to encourage Japan not only to sign the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, but also reform its long-outdated Family Law structure. Allow for joint custody and enforced child visitation backed up by criminal law penalties — for the sake of not only American citizens, but also us Japanese citizens.”
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Child Abductions, Gaiatsu | 6 Comments »
Posted by debito on 13th December 2009
Sunday Tangent time: I saw one of the worst Star Trek (TOS) shows ever (one that makes you say, “Give me my 50 minutes back!”, and no, it wasn’t “Spock’s Brain” — it was “Catspaw”; enough said). In the same genre of howlingly bad copy and information, let me send along this little ditty of Japan travelogue by a Ms Jolie Hunt for you to scratch at:
Excerpt: “I hadn’t been to Tokyo in three years and what struck me on a recent three-day visit was how the city seems vaster, yet more accessible for Westerners, than it did when I was last here. Now nearly everyone, from your cabbie to your masseur, can manage a few words in English. And speaking of cabbies, Tokyo’s are glorious. All wear white gloves, have doily-adorned seats, and accept American Express. And no more renting one of those weird cellphones when you visit; 3G now works here. All these comforts and conveniences have a way of making Japan feel less foreign—almost, I dare say, like any other major city.”
Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Tangents | 33 Comments »
Posted by debito on 12th December 2009
Excerpt from EU Observer: “The EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency first-ever report, published on Wednesday (8 December), attempts to map the contours of discrimination across the bloc in a comprehensive, 276-page survey of over 23,000 individuals. It reveals that over a fifth (22 percent) of sub-Saharan Africans have been discriminated against at least once in the last year while looking for work, 17 percent of Roma say they have experienced similar incidents while being seen by a doctor or nurse and 11 percent of North Africans are subjected to racism when in or simply trying to enter a shop.”
COMMENT: Wish we could get some reportage like this in the J media about domestic discrimination. Oh wait, we don’t even use the word “racial discrimination” as a term of the debate here.
Posted in Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Media, Tangents | 15 Comments »
Posted by debito on 12th December 2009
A reporter I really respect, Eric Johnston of the Japan Times, is currently over in Copenhagen covering the COP15 UN Conference on Climate Change. He is maintaining a daily blog on what it’s like to be a scribe in the thick of it. Interesting reading (especially the entry on a day in the life — I’d burn out at that pace long before the conference ended). A nice diversion on a Saturday morning, have a read.
Posted in Media, Tangents, United Nations | 2 Comments »
Posted by debito on 11th December 2009
UN News: The United Nations human rights chief today called on individuals everywhere to consider how they can fight discrimination beginning in their own homes and workplaces, stressing the need to overcome complacency which only contributes to the scourge.
“You cannot defeat discrimination by shutting your eyes to it and hoping that it will go away. Complacency is discrimination’s best friend,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told a news conference in Geneva, ahead of this year’s Human Rights Day.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, United Nations | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 10th December 2009
Guest essay intro: My name is Laura Petrescu, and I am a Monbukagakusho-MEXT scholarship grantee that has been living in Japan for almost three years. When I came here, I was expecting a high-quality academic environment and an overall positive experience. I was disappointed time and again by irregularities, double standards, absurd situations and blatant displays of racism.
Therefore, I thought I’d share my ryuugaku experience so far. I think that by getting the word out I’m giving prospective foreign students a chance to learn ‘other’ truth about living and studying in Japan. On the surface, things might look good – after all, who would say no to going to college for free? Still, there are many things that can turn an average ryuugaku experience into a complete disappointment and a waste of time.
Posted in Discussions, Education, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 104 Comments »
Posted by debito on 9th December 2009
Now here’s what I don’t get. Ichihashi’s charge has been upgraded from corpse abandonment to outright murder. But why wasn’t it before? What new information has been brought out since his apprehension? Police already knew about the body, the disposed-of hair, the fact that she accompanied Ishihashi to his apartment and was last seen there. And now suddenly his DNA matches bodily fluid found on her corpse. But didn’t the police know all of this before? It’s not as though Ichihashi’s interrogation revealed him admitting any new information (after all, he’s not talking).
Why is it that he gets charged with mere corpse abandonment (something that frequently happens when a NJ gets killed) up until now, whereas if something like this is done to a Japanese victim (as posters with Ichihashi’s fellow murder suspects indicate), it gets a full-blown murder charge? Why the delay until now? I wish I had the information to answer these questions.
Final thing I find odd: Good for father Mr Hawker being tenacious about this case. There are plenty of other murders (Tucker Murder, Honiefaith Murder, Lacey Murder, and Blackman Murder) and assaults (Barakan Assault) of NJ that the NPA and the criminal courts gave up on all too easily. Does the family of the NJ victim have to pursue things more doggedly than the police before the NPA will actually get on it (as they had to do for Lucie Blackman’s killer, and he still got acquitted for it)? It only took the NPA close to three years to get Ichihashi, and that was after a tip from a face change clinic (not any actual police investigation).
Why this half-assedness for crimes against NJ? Sorry, there’s lots of things here that just don’t make sense, and they point to different judicial standards for NJ victims of J crime.
Posted in Gaiatsu, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 19 Comments »
Posted by debito on 8th December 2009
Table of Contents:
PUSHES ONE WAY
1) Kyodo: Municipal govts call for GOJ agency to help foreigners. Again.
2) Way cool Coldwell Banker SAPPORO SOURCE advertisement offering assistance with NJ apartment searches
3) Aly Rustom on how he got out of a Gaijin Card Check by J-cops
4) Michael Moore lambastes GOJ for being fingerprinted at border during his first Japan trip
5) Anti-NJ suffrage protests in Shibuya Nov 28 2009. The invective in flyers and banners: “Japan is in danger!”
6) Int’l Child Abduction issue update: Chinese found guilty in J court of abducting daughters, MOFA sets up panel on issue
7) ADDENDUM: Paul Toland on US Congressional side of Japan Child Abductions Issue
8 ) Kyodo: numerical figures on how many NJ took last April’s “Nikkei Repatriation Bribe”
SOME PERSONAL PROJECTS
9) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST NOV 30, 2009 (listen at Debito.org or download from iTunes)
10) Advice re Japan Law Society, Tokyo/Osaka association of NJ lawyers: they really won’t pay you if they invite you to speak
11) Co-authored chapter in new Akashi Shoten book on “American Diaspora” (English text)
12) Letter to 4 Dietmembers re my recent JT article on immigration policy (see immediately below)
… and finally …
13) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Dec 1 2009 on making Japan more attractive to immigrants (with links to sources)
Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 8th December 2009
Let’s look how deep the rot runs. It’s not just human traffickers bringing in NJ on “Entertainer Visas” sponsored by the State. It’s not just factories bringing in NJ on “Trainee and Researcher Visas” to exploit as sweatshop labor — again, sponsored by the State. It’s even now according to the Mainichi article below the Immigration Bureau profiteering, using their power for rents-seeking (in the academic sense) to skim off money again from migrants.
Although not an elixir for all these problems, an Immigration Ministry with clear immigration policies (and not mere policing powers, given how unaccountable the Japanese police are; even below an “internal investigation” has been promised; bah!) would in my view help matters.
The big losers are of course the commodities in these exchanges — people, i.e. the NJ, who are here at the whim, pleasure, and profit of the powers that be. Sickening.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Labor issues, 日本語 | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 7th December 2009
Paul Toland: “Finally, I concluded by reading the following quote from Secretary Clinton on her first trip to Japan “I cannot imagine what it must feel like to have lost family members, and for so many years, never have heard anything about them or from them. I don’t know if I’ll be meeting as a secretary of state anymore than I will be meeting with them as a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister. It’s important that their plight is not forgotten. I attach great importance to the abduction issue.” I then dropped the bomb that she was not talking about our issue, but rather she was talking about the abduction of Japanese citizens to North Korea over 30 years ago, and concluded bybsaying that Secretary Clinton has never once addressed our issue in any public forum OR met with a single left behind parent.
I told the Congressman AND the press that it was up to them to spur the State Department into action. As parents, we have tried and tried, but now it is up to Congress and the Press to move the State Department forward in making this issue a central issue of US Foreign Policy.”
Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu | 2 Comments »
Posted by debito on 7th December 2009
Three articles (two with original Japanese) below charting a couple of interesting developments regarding Japan as an international haven for child abductions.
The first article is what happens when the shoe’s on the other foot, and the NJ parent goes on trial for allegedly abducting his or her child from Japan — the Japanese authorities eventually convict the NJ. Asahi reports a Chinese father was found guilty (sentence suspended) in Japanese court of successfully, shall we say, “committing a Savoie” — actually getting his Japanese-Chinese daughters out of Japan (moreover after a J court awarded his ex-wife custody). The story follows below, but one of the daughters came back to Japan from China and stayed on, and the father came over to get her — whereupon he was arrested and put on trial. Now the mother wants Japan to sign the Hague Convention to protect Japanese from abductions (well, fine, but neither China nor Japan is a party, so there you go; oddly enough, accusations of spousal abuse — as in this case — are being leveled conversely as reasons for Japan NOT to sign the Convention). Just sign the damn thing, already.
The second article is from the Mainichi highly critical of the Japanese consulate in Shanghai for renewing the daughters’ J passports without consent of the J mother overseas. Even though this is standard operating procedure when a Japanese spouse wants to bring the children back to Japan from overseas. It only seems to make the news when the valve is used against the Japanese spouse.
Final irony: Quoth the judge who ruled in this case, “It is impossible to imagine the mental anguish of being separated for such a long time from the children she loved.” Well, that works both ways, doesn’t it? Why has there never been a child returned by a Japanese court to a NJ parent overseas? Why didn’t this matter in, for example, the Murray Wood Case, when overseas courts granted custody to the NJ father yet the Saitama Family Court ruled against him? And how about the plenty of other cases slowly being racked up to paint a picture that NJ get a raw deal in Japanese courts?
The third article (following the original Japanese versions of the first two) is how Minister Okada of the Foreign Ministry is setting up a special task force on this issue. Good. But let’s see if it can break precedent by acknowledging that NJ have as much right to access and custody of their children as Japanese do. Dubious at this juncture.
Posted in Child Abductions, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Lawsuits, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., 日本語 | 8 Comments »
Posted by debito on 6th December 2009
Time for a Sunday Tangent. My latest tangental column in SAPPORO SOURCE — on the top nine things I like about Japan.
Download the entire issue of SAPPORO SOURCE here in pdf format. Cover, scanned page, and text of the article follows.
Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Food, Tangents | 16 Comments »
Posted by debito on 5th December 2009
Just to let you know, yesterday I faxed four Dietmembers (PM Hatoyama, MOJ Minister Chiba, Minister Fukushima, and Tsurunen) a quick handwritten letter in Japanese, and a copy of the original newsprint article of my most recent Japan Times column on immigration policy proposals. Copy of the cover letter enclosed.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, 日本語 | 2 Comments »
Posted by debito on 4th December 2009
One of the more interesting proposals from the new DPJ-run Administration is suffrage for Permanent Residents. The Cabinet is ready to send a bill to the Diet so that Permanent Residents (in American terms, essentially “Green Card holders”) obtain the right to vote in local elections.
Regardless of whether you support or disapprove (Debito.org is in support, given how difficult it can be to get PR in Japan, not to mention how arbitrary the naturalization procedures are), what is interesting is the invective in the debate by people who oppose it. Numerous and very visible demonstrations by right-wing fringe elements (who also seem to get all xenophobic at, say, Hallowe’en being celebrated in Japan) are resorting to daft arguments that defy calm and common sense. Here are some photos and flyers, received from a witness of one demonstration in Shibuya November 28, 2009, courtesy of ER. Drink in the alarmism and panic by people who are probably going to lose the debate.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Politics, 日本語 | 48 Comments »
Posted by debito on 3rd December 2009
Michael Moore: I landed at the airport and the customs people asked me for my fingerprints. I’m 55 years old and I’ve never been fingerprinted in my life, partly because I’ve never figured out the right kind of crime to commit, and partly because there’s no reason to fingerprint me. So I stepped up to the counter and they said please put your fingers here. And I said, Why? I didn’t refuse, I just asked why. And they immediately called in a supervisor and took me away. They told me, You have to be fingerprinted. And I said, I’ve never been fingerprinted. I have privacy rights, this is a democracy, right? They said, OK, so you want to be deported to the United States. I said, No, so they took me into a room and brought in another supervisor, even higher, and he said I could either voluntarily give my fingerprints and enter the country or they would forceably put me back on a plane back the US. So it’s a lose-lose situation, I said, and he said, But you do this in the United States, when we visit the United States. And I said, Well, that’s wrong. You have a passport, you took my picture, you X-rayed me. I don’t understand the fingerprint. It’s like, if no one stands up and says every now and then, we have rights as individuals. This is a privacy issue. I’ve not committed any crime, so therefore you’re not deserving of my fingerprints. So we went back and forth and they read me my rights, which I brought along. They had me read in English. I read that. My wife had already gone through the line and my friends were waiting, so I reluctantly gave in, but I gave them a different finger than my index one. I was allowed in the country at that point.
Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Media | 24 Comments »
Posted by debito on 2nd December 2009
I found a really open-minded real estate agent in Sapporo advertising on the back cover of the latest SAPPORO SOURCE magazine. They promise bilinguality in negotiations and paperwork, full explanations, full disclosure of properties on offer, and full service. They’ll even help with guarantorship, regardless of nationality. Excellent. Give this place some business and let it be a template for how realtors should behave in Japan. Scan of the advertisement enclosed.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Media, Practical advice | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 2nd December 2009
Date: December 3, 2009
Time: 2 pm ~ 4 pm
Place: Second Members Office Building of the Lower House
First Meeting Room
1. Treatment of children after divorce – Comparison between German Law and Japanese Law
Lecturer: Law Professor Hirohito Suzuki of Chuo University
2. Hague Convention and Domestic Law ( Civil law, Habeas Corpus Act and Domestic Cause Inquiries Act, etc)
Lecturer: Professor Masayuki Tanamura of Waseda Law School
3. Speakers: Professor, Diet Members, Embassy officials, Left Behind Parents
Honorary Speaker: Attorney Mamoru Isobe, former Supreme Court Probation Officer, former President of Nagoya District and Family Courts, and former President of Nagano District and Family Courts
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Child Abductions | 6 Comments »
Posted by debito on 1st December 2009
Japan Times: We are about to start a new decade. This past one has been pretty rotten for NJ residents. Recall the campaigns: Kicked off by Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s “Sankokujin Speech” in 2000, where he called upon the Self-Defense Forces to round up foreigners in the event of a natural disaster, we have had periodic public panics (al-Qaida, SARS, H1N1, the G8 Summits and the World Cup), politicians, police and media bashing foreigners as criminals and terrorists, the reinstitution of fingerprinting, and increased NJ tracking through hotels, workplaces and RFID (radio-frequency identification) “gaijin cards”. In other words, the 2000s saw the public image of NJ converted from “misunderstood outsider” to “social destabilizer”; government surveys even showed that an increasing majority of Japanese think NJ deserve fewer human rights!
Let’s change course. If Hatoyama is as serious as he says he is about putting legislation back in the hands of elected officials, it’s high time to countermand the elite bureaucratic xenophobes that pass for policymakers in Japan. Grant some concessions to non-citizens to make immigration to Japan more attractive.
Otherwise, potential immigrants will just go someplace else. Japan, which will soon drop to third place in the ranking of world economies, will be all the poorer for it.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Exclusionism, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Labor issues, Practical advice, United Nations | 15 Comments »