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  • Archive for January, 2010

    Momoyama Gakuin Daigaku blocks online campus access to Debito.org. Just like Misawa Air Force Base.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 31st January 2010

    As a Sunday article, let me forward two collated emails that I received from a student at Momoyama Gakuin Daigaku. He sent proof that his university blocks campus access to Debito.org.

    It’s not the first time I’ve heard of Debito.org being too truthy for some places with internal attitudes to maintain. Such as the American Air Force Base in Misawa, Aomori Prefecture. (I know for a fact they didn’t like me exposing both the “Japanese Only” signs right outside their base and the organized blind-eying both they and the City of Misawa gave it.) So instead of dealing with the problem, they dealt with the messenger, by making sure that anyone on base cannot see what you’re seeing now. It’s to them Non-Operational Information, I guess. Or, as Momoyama seems to indicate, it might give students in Japan too much of an education.

    Report from Momoyama student follows, along with his unsuccessful efforts to get it “unblocked”. Arudou Debito, webmaster of the site just too hot for some institutions to handle.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media | 12 Comments »

    Saturday Tangent: Historian Howard Zinn, author of “People’s History of US”, dies at 87

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 30th January 2010

    It is with great sadness that I write to you about the death of one of my personal heroes, Howard Zinn. A person who departed from historical orthodoxy to write history books from the minority point of view. His “People’s History of the United States” is a must-read. Good man. Already missed. Obits below.

    That’s one less of the ideological lions out there who have made an impression on me, speaking up for the little guy as much as possible, and narrating against the grain with tireless activism no matter how ripe the age. Including Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, Ralph Nader…

    Posted in Education, History, Human Rights, Labor issues, Tangents | 3 Comments »

    Japan Today article on naturalized former-NJ politicians in Tsukuba, Inuyama, and Parliament

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 29th January 2010

    On a happier note for a change, here’s an article from Japan Today on naturalized former NJ who have been elected to Japanese political bodies. Well done them, and it’s nice to have a kind word for them (as opposed to racists like Dietmember Hiranuma Takeo, dissing former-NJ Dietmember Ren Ho recently for her foreign roots; I’ll be devoting my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column to that nasty little incident, out next Tues Feb 2). PS: Jon Heese has commented to Debito.org before, twice, as has Tsurunen Marutei. And of course, Anthony Bianchi has been prominently featured here as well. Links enclosed.

    Posted in Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Practical advice | 4 Comments »

    Taikibansei & Cabby on mixed experiences getting Permanent Residency depending on Immigration Office. What about other Debito.org readers?

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 28th January 2010

    I’d like to ask Debito.org Readers about their experiences with various Immigration offices around Japan. We had a discussion recently on the JALT PALE list about how they did on their Permanent Residency applications, and have concluded that how NJ are treated both interpersonally and applicationwise seems to depend on the Immigration office they apply at. Two testimonials follow from Taikibansei and Cabby. Immigration offices at Miyazaki, Morioka (and for me, Sapporo — story from 1996 here) seem to be very nice and liberal. However, I’ve heard bad things about Tokyo (and Okayama below). How about everyone else? I think collecting information on Debito.org would be a good idea so people have some idea where to apply (stories about applying for the most important visa, PR, most welcome)

    Taikibansei: I do think this is one of the best things about having access to an immigration office in a smaller town. Most immigration horror stories originate in big cities like Tokyo. Moreover, I’ve always wondered whether each office has the same limit (say, 100) on the number of permanent residencies they can process in a year. Tokyo, with its huge foreign population, would probably easily exceed that number by mid-year for most years. Miyazaki, on the other hand, would struggle most years to get to one third of that number. This would explain the apparent difference in ease of getting PR. I mean, if there really is just one rule for everyone, then it should be just as difficult to get PR in Miyazaki as Tokyo. However, XXXX and his acquaintances apparently could not get PR there, while I know of nobody who has been rejected for PR in Miyazaki.

    Cabby: My experiences with Immigration since 1988 have been very mixed. When I moved to Okayama from Osaka my 3-year spousal visa was about to expire. I went to the local and at the time very small Immigration office and told them that I would like to apply for permanent residency. The bozo bureaucrat behind the counter did everything he could to discourage me. I told him that I qualified and there would be no harm in trying. He went so far as to say that the 3-year spousal visa that I had did not count since it was issued in Osaka. That was when I about hit the ceiling. He then said it would take at least six months and perhaps a year to get the visa, if it were granted, adding that I would not be able to leave the country during that time. “Are any family members in the U.S. ill? You should consider this before applying.” Well, not one to be deterred by officialdom, I applied anyway. Three weeks later I got a card in the mail asking me to come to the Immigration office to get my new visa, a PR. The point I am trying to make is that this fool in the local office really had little if anything to do with the decision…

    Posted in Discussions, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Practical advice | 48 Comments »

    Tidy free FCCJ Scholarship up for grabs, deadline Feb 15

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 27th January 2010

    Each year, the FCCJ Scholarship Committee awards up to one million yen in scholarship funds to university students who have demonstrated a serious interest in journalism. The fund was originally established by former FCCJ member Swadish DeRoy and is now supported through generous donations from individuals and businesses dedicated to excellence in journalism. Our Committee also conducts student workshops in Tokyo and Kansai that have drawn hundreds of students seeking to understand the basics of our profession.

    But the Scholarship Fund is the heart of our committee work and we are anxious to reach as many applicants for this year’s fund as possible. We would thus like to request that you let as many possible applicants as possible know about the fund. Students do not have to be journalism majors. They merely need to be currently enrolled undergraduate or graduate students who have shown a serious interest in pursuing journalism as a career. Both Japanese and non-Japanese may apply.

    Posted in Education, Media | No Comments »

    Japan Times Colin Jones on anachronistic Koseki System, how lack of family laws affect J divorces

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 27th January 2010

    In a breathtakingly excellent article that only the Japan Times can give us, we have Colin P.A. Jones once again offering eye-opening historical research and commentary on how family law in Japan (or lack thereof) has been created so much on the fly that few accommodations are made for modern circumstances. In fact, Colin claims below, many circumstances (such as birth registries in complicated circumstances, or joint custody after divorces) are so inconceivable to this anachronistic system that people’s lives are forced to conform to it for its convenience, not the other way around. It’s so bad that even the Koreans wised up and abolished theirs recently. So should Japan. Read excerpt below.

    Posted in Child Abductions, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government | 3 Comments »

    Asahi: Nagoya to withdraw from Juki Net system, while dogs (not NJ) get juuminhyou

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 26th January 2010

    Two interesting developments in the weird system for registering people in Japan.

    We all know that Japanese (by definition, unless they’re royals) are listed on Family Registries (koseki), and if they have an established address are listed on Residency Certificates (juuminhyou). We also know that NJ are not listed on either, and that has created problems for them not just logistically but also logically (how dare people who pay residency taxes (juuminzei) not be treated as residents?) There’s talk of fixing that, but anyhoo…

    Adding insult to more insult is the fact the government keeps issuing juuminhyou residency documents to things that can’t actually reside anywhere, such as Tama-Chan the sealion in Yokohama (2003),Tetsuwan Atomu in Niiza (2003), Crayon Shin-chan in Kusakabe (2004), Lucky Star in Washinomiya (2008), and most recently a photogenic sea otter named Ku-chan in Kushiro, Hokkaido (2009) (who quickly swam to Nemuro and then points beyond; check your fishing nets).

    Now Kyodo reports that the animals or fictitious creatures don’t even have to be famous anymore to become residents. It can be your favorite pet. Read on.

    Wags (pardon the pun) on Debito.org wondered what happened if your pet happened to be born overseas — would they get this juuminhyou anyway?

    Finally, one more idiotic thing about registration is the double standard when it comes to carrying ID. In Japan, there is no standardized identification card which all citizens have to carry (drivers licenses are fine, but not everyone drives; health insurance cards work but they’re not photo ID; nobody carries passports except tourists (except me, in case I get stopped by cops). NJ, of course, have to carry their Gaijin Cards at all times under threat of arrest and criminal prosecution.) Japan’s proposed answer to that was the Juuki-Netto System early last decade, and it came under fire quickly for “privacy concerns” (well, fancy that). It was even declared unconstitutional in 2006 by the Osaka High Court (the judge ruling in that case soon afterwards committed suicide).

    But Juuki-Netto has been a complete flop. Only 3%, the Asahi says below, of Japanese nationwide applied for their cards. (I didn’t either.) Now Nagoya is even withdrawing from it. Read on.

    Posted in Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 15 Comments »

    Japan Times on proposal to convert Itami Airport into “International Campus Freedom City”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 25th January 2010

    Young-Turk Osaka Governor Hashimoto has been suggesting some interesting reforms recently, one of them, according to the Japan Times, is to close down Osaka Itami Airport (relocating all flights to KIX), and to use the land for creating an international campus, where international schools and universities would be located and the lingua franca English.

    On the surface of it (regardless of the efficacy of essentially creating a Dejima for ideas and culture, nestled right next to Osaka proper), it’s an intriguing idea with great potential, and not one that in principle Debito.org can oppose (what could a move like this hurt if successful, except the natural insular order of things, which does deserve some change). What do other Debito.org Readers think?

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Education, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Politics | 59 Comments »

    Sunday Tangent: Economist (London) passim on “Global Creativity Index”, which ranks Japan over USA in terms of creativity

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 24th January 2010

    In their bumper Xmas Issue last year, The Economist had a number of (as usual) interesting articles. Here’s another, about what makes America attractive as a destination for immigration.

    The part that I’ll excerpt from concerns how countries attract talent and creativity, citing an odd survey called the “Global Creativity Index” created by a Richard Florida. The Economist notes, “The index combines measures of talent, technology and tolerance. America comes fourth, behind Sweden, Japan and Finland,”, then picks apart the methodology that would put Japan as more tolerant to people from elsewhere than the US (and Finland, which also has a very low percentage of foreigners). Given the revolving-door labor market (here and here) and the trouble NJ in Japanese universities have getting favorable study conditions and domestic employment afterwards (here and here), one wonders if this celebrity researcher has ever lived or worked overseas much.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Immigration & Assimilation, Tangents | 13 Comments »

    Saturday Tangent: Gallup Poll says 700 million desire to migrate permanently

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 23rd January 2010

    Gallup.com: Every day, migrants leave their homelands behind for new lives in other countries. Reflecting this desire, rather than the reality of the numbers that actually migrate, Gallup finds about 16% of the world’s adults would like to move to another country permanently if they had the chance. This translates to roughly 700 million worldwide — more than the entire adult population of North and South America combined.

    From its surveys in 135 countries between 2007 and 2009, Gallup finds residents of sub-Saharan African countries are most likely to express a desire to move abroad permanently. Thirty-eight percent of the adult population in the region — or an estimated 165 million — say they would like to do this if the opportunity arises. Residents in Asian countries are the least likely to say they would like to move — with 10% of the adult population, or roughly 250 million, expressing a desire to migrate permanently.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Tangents | 6 Comments »

    Why we fight: Media on J birth rate decrease and population decline acceleration

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 22nd January 2010

    What follows are two articles that show that Japan’s aging society is growing ever more so. The population decrease is accelerating, and fewer people than ever want to have children. Again, time for a policy towards immigration. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Either you do it now while we still have some vitality. Or immigrants will come anyway later to fill an enfeebled and empty island instead. Slow or quick, it’s going to happen. It’s a mathematical certainty.

    That’s why we’re fighting for our rights — to make things better for the people who will be replacing all of us.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 29 Comments »

    Asahi: MOJ & MEXT crafting “point system” for immigration policy

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 21st January 2010

    In a move that may be heralding the fundamentals of an actual Japanese immigration policy (something I was told back in November the DPJ was not considering), the primary ministries in charge of bringing in, registering, and policing NJ (traditionally MOJ, MEXT, and MHLW) are apparently beavering away at a “points system” for allowing in people with a skill set, modeled on other countries’ immigration policies. On the other hand, people who have gotten preferential visa treatment in the past (by dint of having Japanese blood and not necessarily much else) are going to see their opportunities narrow (they’ll have higher hurdles and be tested on their acculturation).

    I might say this is good news or a step in the right direction (if you want an immigration policy, it’s good to say what kind of immigrants you want), but it’s too early to tell for two reasons: 1) We have to see how realistic this “points list” is (if it’s even made public at all; not a given in Japan’s control-freak secretive ministries) when it materializes. 2) There still is no accommodation for assimilation of peoples (I don’t see any Japanese language courses, assistance with credit and housing, faster tracks to naturalization, and heaven forbid anything outlawing NJ discrimination!). Just a longer tenure for you to make your own ends meet without being booted out after three or so years.

    Given the GOJ’s record at designing policies that make Japan’s labor market pretty hermetic (including ludicrous requirements for Permanent Residency, unreasonable “up-or-out” hurdles for NJ such as health-care workers, and bribes to send unwanted workers “home”), at this stage I don’t see how this is necessarily anything different from the “revolving door” labor market pretty much already in place, except with higher value-added workers this time.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, 日本語 | 18 Comments »

    Japan Times Amy Chavez comes unglued with weird “Japan Lite” column: “How about a gaijin circus in gazelle land?”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 20th January 2010

    Excerpt: “This confirms a suspicion I have long had about the Japanese people — they are descendants of gazelles… Consider that gazelles and the Japanese share some striking similarities: They are both fine boned and graceful and the females have pretty little feet with high heels, making them look like they are tip-toeing along. Now, put a cow next to the gazelle and you have us gaijin.

    A crowd of Japanese people looks tidy but a crowd of beefy foreigners looks like a stampede. The Japanese, with their long, elegant limbs and quiet demeanor cannot possibly be descendants of the caveman.”

    Whaaaa…..?

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Media | 67 Comments »

    Racist statements from Xenophobe Dietmember Hiranuma re naturalized J Dietmember

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 19th January 2010

    Kyodo: Former trade minister Takeo Hiranuma on Sunday criticized remarks made by House of Councillors member Renho in November in trying to slash budget allocations for the supercomputer development by pointing to the fact that the politician, who goes by a single name, is a naturalized Japanese.

    “I don’t want to say this, but she is not originally Japanese,” said the former Liberal Democratic Party member during a speech before his supporters in Okayama City. “She was naturalized, became a Diet member, and said something like that,” the independent House of Representatives member continued.

    Hiranuma was referring to the high-profile remarks made by the ruling Democratic Party of Japan member, who asked during a debate with bureaucrats, “Why must (Japan) aim to (develop) the world’s No. 1 (supercomputer)? What’s wrong with being the world’s No. 2?”

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Politics, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 27 Comments »

    On the 15th anniversary of the Kobe Earthquake: My first activism in Japan: Eyewitness essays when I volunteered down there

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 18th January 2010

    As the Japanese media has been blitzing lately (dovetailing with the events in Haiti, although NHK refuses to put it as top news when there are Center Shikens affecting Japanese students out there), yesterday, January 17, was the fifteenth anniversary of the Kobe/Awajishima Earthquake that claimed over 6000 lives.

    The Kobe Quake has special significance for me personally. A third of my life ago, I was so enraged by the GOJ irresponsibility (an NHK program last night from 9PM cataloging the science behind the 15-second temblor still refused to mention how the highway overpasses also collapsed because of shoddy construction work (tenuki kouji); commentators blamed it all on sea sand vs. mountain sand) that I went down for a couple of weeks at my own time and expense to help out as a volunteer. I of course wrote the events up, and they are amongst my first essays charting my nascent activism in Japan. Here are links to them all:

    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, Tangents | 2 Comments »

    Sunday Tangent: Economist excerpt on being foreign

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 17th January 2010

    In its Xmas Special of December 19, 2009, The Economist (London) had a long and thoughtful essay on what it’s like to be foreign, and how “it is becoming both easier and more difficult to experience the thrill of being an outsider”. It even devoted more than a paragraph specifically to Japan’s offer of foreignness:

    “The most generally satisfying experience of foreignness—complete bafflement, but with no sense of rejection—probably comes still from time spent in Japan. To the foreigner Japan appears as a Disneyland-like nation in which everyone has a well-defined role to play, including the foreigner, whose job it is to be foreign. Everything works to facilitate this role-playing, including a towering language barrier. The Japanese believe their language to be so difficult that it counts as something of an impertinence for a foreigner to speak it. Religion and morality appear to be reassuringly far from the Christian, Islamic or Judaic norms. Worries that Japan might Westernise, culturally as well as economically, have been allayed by the growing influence of China. It is going to get more Asian, not less. Even in Japan, however, foreigners have ceased to function as objects of veneration, study and occasionally consumption…”

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Media, Tangents | 18 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 16, 2010

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 16th January 2010

    Table of Contents:
    DISCUSSIONS
    1) Query: What to do about J children being rude towards NJ adults? (also Debito.org Poll on the subject)
    2) Discussion: KFC Australia’s “racist” CM vs McD Japan’s “Mr James”
    3) NZ publisher prints “Tales of Gaijin”; I have to withdraw submission due to rubric I cannot accept

    UPDATES
    4) Fukushima Prefectural Tourist Information website advertises that now 318 of its hotels refuse NJ clients
    5) GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine becomes a “Taboo” topic in a 2007 magazine, victimizing J publisher
    6) A Debito.org Reader updates on Toyoko Inn’s discriminatory treatment of NJ clients
    7) Asahi Shinbun Jan 8 “Japan edges closer to signing Hague Convention” on Child Abductions issue, still mentions NJ “DV concerns”
    8 ) Mainichi: New real estate guarantor service set up for NJ residents

    WEIRD STUFF
    9) Getchan on Japan Post’s recent anti-terrorism half-measures regarding parcels
    10) DNA checks of “hakujin” at my university (?!?)

    … and finally …
    11) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Jan 5 with my top ten NJ human rights issues for 2009 (full text)
    read aloud in
    DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JANUARY 10, 2010

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Saturday Tangent: DNA checks of “hakujin” at my university (?!?)

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 16th January 2010

    It’s currently exam time (I did more than 110 individual 20-minute oral interviews over the past two weeks). And right in the middle of them we have this singular event:

    One of my co-workers is this medical researcher who fancies himself internationalized, cos he says “hello” to me as we pass in the corridors (I answer back こんにちは, of course). Well, yesterday, right in between two interviews, he pops in my office with a student saying he has a favor to ask (and sidles up to me as if it’s a given that I will oblige — his students had several vials in his hand all ready for my obliging).

    Sez he (in Japanese): “We need a strand of your hair please…”

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Education, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Tangents | 15 Comments »

    Query: What to do about J children being rude towards NJ adults?

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 15th January 2010

    Got a question from Debito.org Reader Kimberly who wrote this to The Community yahoogroups list yesterday. About kids in Japan who are rude (if not unwittingly racist) towards NJ adults, and they are not cautioned or taught not to be so by surrounding J adults? What do other Readers think or do?

    Kimberly: Hello everyone, I’ve been meaning to ask for some advice on this for awhile… how do you deal with it when you get asked something inappropriate or hear a discriminatory comment from a child too young to have any real malicious intent? As my own kids get older I’m finding more and more situations where a child just has to give a smart-alecky HARO! or ask if we’re going to commute to yochien by airplane… and I’m torn between not wanting to hurt the kid’s feelings when I KNOW a four year old probably isn’t trying to be mean, and wanting to teach them something because I may be the only one who ever tries. If they just imitate what their parents or TV tells them to do, the next generation won’t be any more open-minded than this one.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Education, Practical advice | 78 Comments »

    NZ publisher perpetuates “Tales of Gaijin”; I have to withdraw submission due to rubric I cannot accept

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 14th January 2010

    I was invited a little over a year ago to submit two stories to a NZ publisher, a new place called Fine Line Press, run by a jolly decent fellow I know (former head of the Tokyo Chapter of JALT) named Graham Bathgate. One story was on the Otaru Onsens Case, the other on the Top Five Things I Like About Japan. I knew the person, was happy to oblige, and we exchanged some story drafts until satisfaction about the submissions were reached on both sides.

    However, in August I heard that the book would be published under the rubric of “Foreign Tales from Japan” (actually, they were originally punning on the “Tales of Genji” to make “Tales of Gaijin”. Ick). Alas, I am not a foreigner in Japan, and I said I did not want my stories to be included either under this rubric or within this concept. I have, naturally, very strong feelings about being treated as a foreigner in Japan, and I do not like publishers (and former long-termers in Japan, such as Graham) exporting the binary “Japanese vs. Gaijin” mindset to media overseas. We have enough trouble dealing with it over here without it being propagated in more liberal societies (such as NZ). Graham, IMHO, should know better, and should publish better.

    So I protested and asked the rubric to be changed or my writing withdrawn. After several months of silence, I got the final word: The rubric would stand. Okay. Sad to see.

    But I’m not one to let things like this go. I feel the publisher wound up pigeonholing me through imported racist paradigms. Should be known about. Here’s the main correspondence we had, for the record.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Media | 15 Comments »

    Shark updates on Toyoko Inn’s discriminatory treatment of NJ clients

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 13th January 2010

    I’ve reported on nationwide bargain business hotel chain Toyoko Inn before, regarding their lousy treatment of me at check-in back in 2007 (when they decided to gaijinize me, and quite nastily too; my letter of complaint to HQ went unanswered), and for refusing reservations for other NJ if they don’t produce Gaijin Cards (something they are not entitled to do under laws governing Immigration or hotels). Not to mention their lousy treatment of handicapped guests (receiving GOJ subsidies earmarked for barrier-free facilities and spending it on other things). It’s a place I’ll never stay at again.

    Now for an update. Over the past couple of days, a Debito.org Reader who calls himself The Shark has been sending us good reports on Toyoko Inn as comments that deserve a blog entry of their own. We aim to please. Other people with experiences (Doug also commented, and I’ll repost that too) at Toyoko, feel free.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 29 Comments »

    Asahi Shinbun Jan 8 “Japan edges closer to signing Hague Convention” on Child Abductions issue, still mentions NJ “DV concerns”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 12th January 2010

    New article in the Asahi re the GOJ and the Child Abductions Issue re signing the Hague Convention. As submitter PT comments:

    “Note the Red Herring of Domestic Violence thrown out by Justice Minister Chiba in the last sentence. Interesting how the Japanese Government refuses to involve their justice ministry in talks with the US, yet they are quick to put forward a quote from the Justice Minister when pushing back on reasons against signing the Hague.” Article follows.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Child Abductions, Japanese Government, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 11 Comments »

    Mainichi: New real estate guarantor service set up for NJ residents

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 11th January 2010

    Mainichi: A Tokyo non-profit organization has set up a new real estate guarantor service for foreign residents negotiating Japan’s notoriously discriminative housing system.

    The service, the first of its kind, is set up by the Information Center for Foreigners in Japan and will start offering guarantor services in Tokyo and surrounding prefectures in South Korean and Chinese later this month. The services will later be expanded to cover people from English-speaking countries.

    The service was set up after a 2006 questionnaire showed that foreign residents in Tokyo were visiting an average of 15 real estate agents [!!!} before finding a landlord willing to lease a home to them. Common excuses given were language problems, different lifestyle habits and fears over non-payment of rent…

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 15 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JANUARY 10, 2010

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 10th January 2010

    I’ve heard from folks (thanks for your feedback; it’s very welcome and accelerates the learning curve) that they wanted something newer and fresher in the Debito.org Podcast. Okay, can’t get much fresher than this. Reading:

    1) My Top Ten Human Rights Issues Affecting NJ in Japan for 2009 (published in Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column January 5 2010)

    2) My Top Nine Most Influential Events in my Life 2000 – 2009 (blogged January 2, 2010).

    These are most timely as we enter the new decade (by the unscientific style of reckoning). Enjoy listening instead of reading, if you’re on the go. Please give me more feedback below too, if you like.

    Posted in Podcasts | No Comments »

    Discussion: KFC Australia’s “racist” CM vs McD Japan’s “Mr James”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 9th January 2010

    Funny thing, this. We get KFC Australia doing a hasty retreat from its controversial commercial days after it goes viral on YouTube, and pulling it pretty quickly.

    Now contrast with the ad campaign by another American-origin fast-food multinational, McDonalds. For those who don’t know, between August and November of last year McDonalds Japan had that White gaijin stereotype “Mr James” speaking katakana and portraying NJ as touristy outsiders who never fit in. More on what I found wrong with that ad campaign here.

    Yet the “Mr James” ad campaign never got pulled. In fact, the reaction of some Asians in the US was, “Karma’s a bitch”, as in White people in Japan deserve this sort of treatment because of all the bad treatment they’ve foisted on Asians overseas in the past. Still others argue that we can’t expect Japan to understand the history of other countries, or how they feel about certain sentiments found overseas, and one shouldn’t foist their cultural values onto other cultures (this argument usually pops up when one sees minstrel blackface shows etc in Japan). This argument was also made in comments to this blog as well.

    But KFC pulls the ad, in contrast to “Mr James”, where people rushed to defend it in the name of cultural relativism. Why the difference?

    I’m not saying I have the answer to this question. So I bring it up for discussion here on Debito.org. What do readers think?

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Food, Gaiatsu, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media | 42 Comments »

    GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine becomes a “Taboo” topic in a 2007 magazine, victimizing J publisher

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 8th January 2010

    A magazine on “Taboos”, sent to me more than two years ago, tells the story of the reactionary gaijin who took the “Gaijin Hanzai Ura File” mook to task for the lies and hate speech it was spreading on convenience store newsstands nationwide (substantiation of that all here). And portrays that pitifully misunderstod publisher, Eichi Shuppan Inc., which went bankrupt within two months of releasing that mook, as victim.

    It has quotes from me (even of me laughing) that it never garnered through any interviews (they apparently talked to Eichi, but I received no communication from this publication), and shows me as some sort of fearsome activist (thanks, I guess). It of course offers no counterarguments to Eichi’s spurious published assertions, for example about the rise of NJ crime (I would have given those counterarguments if they’d only asked), accepting their assertions at face value. And of course we have no real debate on whether or not the book was actually telling the truth or not (obviously, as I argued in many venues, it wasn’t). For all the research they did pulling my written quotes out of context, they didn’t cite my questions of the veracity of the portrayals that assiduously at all.

    In other words, it’s a debate that once again favors and victimizes Team Japan. Those poor victimized convenience stores responding to public pressure (yeah, like that worked for “Mr James”; McDonald’s basically ignored us). It couldn’t just be that the stores carrying the mook were convinced by our arguments about its exaggerated and errant claims and hateful tone now, could it? Naw, Japanese lost to the foreigners, therefore the foreigners didn’t fight fair. And now because of that, we have yet another “taboo” that hurts We Japaneses’ Freedom of Speech. Hardly a “taboo” here. You overdid it, and lost the debate. That’s all.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, GAIJIN HANZAI mag, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 10 Comments »

    The most customized (and presumptuous) “email scam” letter I’ve received yet

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 7th January 2010

    I got this morning an email from somebody asking for help. That’s not unusual (I get at least one a day, two on Sundays), and I do my best to accommodate, within reason, depending on the reasonableness of the request and my depth of knowledge about the problem raised.

    But this is the Internet, and things can get kinda odd at times. The requests I’ve tended to ignore are the ones asking me to abet an illegal activity (some people have friends who are going down for drugs and want me somehow to assist them; sorry, TS), asking for free legal advice (when I’m no lawyer), asking questions they could easily find either with a quick Google search or in our HANDBOOK (such as how long a Japanese visa is or what kinds of visas are out there), asking me how hard is it to naturalize (usually from high schoolers who are entranced by Japanese anime and have never even been to Japan), or even those who want me to write their college term papers for them (most cryptic question: “Is Japanese a left-leaning or right-leaning language? Why or why not?” Huh?)

    But then, this morning, I got the most jarring one yet…

    Posted in Discussions, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Tangents | 20 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column with my top ten NJ human rights issues for 2009

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 6th January 2010

    Opening: They say that human rights advances come in threes: two steps forward and one back. 2009, however, had good news and bad on balance. For me, the top 10 human rights events of the year that affected non-Japanese (NJ) were, in ascending order:

    10) “Mr. James”, 9) “The Cove”, 8) The pocket knife/pee dragnets (tie), 7) “Itchy and Scratchy” (another tie), 6) “Newcomers” outnumber “oldcomers”, 5) Sakanaka Proposals for a “Japanese-style immigration nation”, 4) IC-chipped “gaijin cards” and NJ juminhyo residency certificates (tie), 3) The Savoie child abduction case, 2) The election of the DPJ, and 1) The “Nikkei repatriation bribe”.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Pension System | 7 Comments »

    Fukushima Prefectural Tourist Information website advertises that now 318 of its hotels refuse NJ clients

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 5th January 2010

    While doing research over the new year, I got quite a shock when I was doing some followup on a case of exclusionary practices. I reported on Debito.org in September 2007 that Fukushima Prefecture’s Tourist Information website was advertising 35 hotels that refused NJ clients. This is one of the few business sectors that actually has explicit laws preventing refusals of customers based upon nationality alone (thanks to the Hotel Management Law), so when a government agency is even promoting “Japanese Only” hotels, you know something is rum indeed.

    What’s even more rum is that even after I advised the Tourist Information Agency that what they were doing is unlawful, and they promised in writing to stop doing it, now two years later the same website is now promoting 318 (!!) hotels that refuse NJ clients. You can’t help but get the feeling that you have been lied to, and by government bureaucrats.

    A brief write up, with links to sources, follows. At the very bottom are screen captures of the FTIA website evidencing the exclusionary practices.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, 日本語 | 56 Comments »

    Get Japan Times tomorrow Tues Jan 5: latest JUST BE CAUSE column out on Top Ten NJ human rights issues 2009

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 4th January 2010

    As the title says, get yourself a copy of the Japan Times tomorrow, Tues Jan 5, 2009 (Weds in print in the provinces), where I’ll be ranking what I consider to be the top ten human rights issues for 2009 (see a selection on the blog poll on the right-hand column, and rank the top three for yourself!) Enjoy!

    Posted in Articles & Publications | 2 Comments »

    Tangent: Getchan on Japan Post’s recent anti-terrorism half-measures regarding parcels

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 4th January 2010

    For the last tangent of the new year holidays, here’s Getchan with a report on his latest tribulations at the Japan Post Office, where he talks about recent measures they’ve taken to foil terrorism that are not all that well-thought-through. Not an issue that’s necessarily “NJ-related”, but for those who use the posts, here you go.

    Excerpt: Next day, I found a form letter in my P.O.Box, informing me that both items had been sent surface and would thus be delayed by a day or two.

    I went to see the postmaster to tell him, that this was totally useless, as – except for imminent, clear and present danger – Japan Post employees are not authorized to open and check the mail for contents.

    Postmaster: “These are the new rules, airlines won’t accept parcels and flat rate envelopes for air transport, if the contents are not noted on the outside”

    Me: “But they get X-rayed anyway”

    Postmaster: “NO, they DON’T!” (now, was he supposed to tell me that???)

    My conclusion – potential and active terrorists in Japan can be trusted in this country. If they wanted to mail a bomb and blow up a plane that way, they would have to mark “bomb” on the parcel, and that would thwart their efforts, would it not? Japanese authorities have everything under control and would be able to sort out any flat rate envelope marked “Bomb”, while the CIA lets known suspects slip thru…

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Tangents | 9 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 3, 2010

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 3rd January 2010

    Table of Contents:
    RUMINATIONS
    1) Debito’s decade 2000-2009 in review
    2) Debito.org Blog Poll: What do you consider the TOP THREE NJ human rights events of 2009 in Japan? (More in Japan Times Jan 5)
    3) Oguri’s “Darling wa Gaikokujin” becomes a movie, with parody cartoon about the “Darling Dream” being sold by all this

    FUN STUFF AND TANGENTS
    4) Book review of “Japan Took the J.A.P. Out of Me” (Pubs Simon and Schuster). Yes, that is the title.
    5) Holiday Tangent: My Movie Review of AVATAR in 3D
    6) LIFER! cartoon on “End-Year Holiday Activities in Japan”
    7) Haagen Daz ice cream excludes Indians from sampling the latest flavor — in India!

    BUSINESS AS USUAL
    8 ) Proof positive that some people really do suck: JT responses to proposals for a Japanese immigration policy
    9) Yonatan Owens’ excellent riposte Letter to the Editor
    10) Guest blog post by Steve on “How to get the Japanese public to demand a non-discrimination law”
    11) Yomiuri: Scriveners aid illegal marriages, work
    12) DR on dealing with GOJ border fingerprinting: sandpaper down your fingers

    … and finally …
    13) Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out January 5, on the Top Ten Human Rights Issues of 2009 (get a copy!)

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Debito’s decade 2000-2009 in review

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 2nd January 2010

    Today’s a personal entry. I think it instructive for people to look back periodically and chart a few lifeline arcs. As we enter 2010, let me give you the top nine influential trends for me personally between 2000 and 2009. In ascending order: My Beard, FRANCA, Naturalization, Debito.org Blog, Japan Times Column, Three Books, The Otaru Onsens Lawsuit, My Divorce, and “That Sinking Feeling”.

    Posted in Tangents | 13 Comments »

    Debito.org Blog Poll: What do you consider the TOP THREE NJ human rights events of 2009 in Japan? (More in Japan Times Jan 5)

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 1st January 2010

    Happy New Year, Blog. As a smaller post to start off 2010, let me ask readers what they think the most important NJ human rights events (I won’t say “advances”, as I consider 2009 to be pretty mixed) were last year? I’ve put them as a blog poll on the right so you can vote (choose three), but below are the ones that come to my mind, in no particular order (if you think I’ve missed any, Comments Section).

    I’ll be ranking them myself in my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out January 5, so have a read!

    Posted in Blog Polls | 2 Comments »