Archive for February, 2010
Posted by debito on 28th February 2010
For Sunday easy listening (well, maybe not), here’s my most recent DEBITO.ORG PODCAST dated March 1, 2010. Contents:
Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 9, “Truth Octane and the Dilution of Debate” (November 4, 2008)
Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 10, “Stray thoughts on Obama’s election” (December 2, 2008)
Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 11, “Human Rights in Japan: A Review of 2008″ (January 6, 2009)
Listen here or subscribe for free via iTunes (search term: Debito.org).
Posted in Podcasts | 2 Comments »
Posted by debito on 28th February 2010
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 27, 2010
Table of Contents:
WHY THINGS DON’T CHANGE
1) Dejima Award for racist Sumo Kyoukai: Decides to count naturalized Japanese as foreigners and limit stables to one “foreigner”
(this will be the subject of my next JAPAN TIMES JUST BE CAUSE column, due out March 2, 2010)
2) Colin Jones and Daily Yomiuri on J judiciary’s usurpingly paternal attitudes re families post-divorce
3) SMJ/NGO combined report for UN CERD Committee regarding Japan’s human rights record
4) Kyodo & Mainichi: 14 prefectures now oppose NJ PR suffrage (Debito.org names them)
WHY THINGS ARE CHANGING
5) International community serves demarche to MOFA re Int’l Child Abductions Issue, Jan 30 2010
6) Int’l Child Abductions Issue: USG formally links support to GOJ re DPRK abductions with GOJ’s signing of Hague Treaty
7) Japan Times: Foreign press pulling out of Japan in favor of China
8 ) Kyodo: NJ “Trainees” win Y17 million for trainee abuses by employer and “broker”
9) DailyFinance.com: McDonald’s Japan loses big, shutting 430 outlets, thanks in part to “Mr James” campaign
10) Japan Times: Immigration dropping social insurance requirement for visa renewal
11) Comfort Hotel Nagoya unlawfully tries Gaijin Card check on NJ resident, admits being confused by GOJ directives
THEN THERE IS OUTRIGHT NASTINESS
12) Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP flyer, likens granting NJ PR suffrage to UFO alien invasion. Seriously.
13) Mainichi: Rwandan Refugee applicant jailed for weeks for not having photograph on GOJ-issued document
14) Ariel updates experience with not-random Gaijin Card and Passport Checks by Narita cops
15) Day Care Center in Tokorozawa, Saitama teaches toddlers “Little Black Sambo”, complete with the epithets
16) Kyodo et.al falls for NPA spins once again, headlines NJ “white collar crime” rise despite NJ crime fall overall
17) Laura Petrescu, MEXT Scholar, update: Bowing out of Japan, reasons why.
18) Olympic Tangent: US-born Reed siblings skate for “Team Japan” despite one being too old to have dual nationality
19) UK Independent: Toyota’s problems being pinned on foreign parts.
20) Debito.org Poll: “Are you rooting for Team Japan in the Vancouver Olympics?” Vote on any blog page http://www.debito.org
21) LA Times: “Korea activists target foreign English teachers”
22) Odd treatment of “naturalized” people (guess who) by Air Canada/Canadian Government at Narita Airport
23) Dentistry in Canada, wow, what a difference!
… and finally …
24) SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO column on Middle Age (full text)
Posted in Newsletters | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 27th February 2010
It’s that time of year again. Time for the National Police Agency (NPA) Spring Offensive and Media Blitz against foreign crime. Article, then comment, then some original Japanese articles, to observe yet again how NJ are being criminalized by Japanese law enforcement and our domestic media:
No. of white-collar crimes by foreigners up by 31.2% in 2009
Thursday 25th February, 2010 Kyodo News
TOKYO — The National Police Agency detected 964 white-collar crimes by visiting foreigners in Japan last year, up 31.2% from the previous year, it said Thursday. The number of visiting foreigners charged with such crimes came to 546, up 7.9%, according to the NPA. It said notable among the crimes was teams using faked credit cards.
The overall number of crimes committed by all foreigners in the reporting year fell 11.1% to 27,790, with 13,282 people, down 4.3%, charged, the NPA said.
COMMENT: Yep. Same old same old. Parrot the NPA: Highlight the NJ crime rises, and play down the fact that NJ crime overall has gone down. And of course no depiction of J “white collar” (whatever that means) crime numbers, nor their ups or downs to give a sense of scale.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 11 Comments »
Posted by debito on 26th February 2010
Pursuant to the discussions we’ve had on Debito.org about exclusionary hotels, here’s an email I got last month regarding Comfort Hotel Nagoya’s treatment of a NJ customer, and how Debito.org empowered her to stand up for herself. Well done. Even the management says the administrative guidance offered by the authorities, as in the law requiring ID from NJ tourists vs. the official (but erroneous) demands that all NJ show ID, is confusing them. And since I’ve pointed this out several times both in print and to the authorities (and the US Government itself has also asked for clarification) to no avail, one can only conclude that the GOJ is willfully bending the law to target NJ (or people who look foreign) clients just because they think they can. Don’t let them. Do what SM did below and carry the law with you.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Japanese Government, Practical advice | 42 Comments »
Posted by debito on 25th February 2010
In one more step to define Japan’s slide into international irrelevance, the national sport (kokugi) has decided to turn not only exclusionary, but also undeniably racist. The Japan Sumo Association announced this week that it will no longer count naturalized Japanese sumo wrestlers as “real Japanese”. Then it will limit each stable to one “foreign” wrestler, meaning “foreignness” is a matter of birth, not a legal status. This is a move, we are told by the media, to stop sumo from being “overrun with foreign wrestlers”.
That means that if I wanted to become a sumo wrestler, I would become a foreigner again. Even though I’ve spent nearly a quarter of my life (as in close to ten years) as a Japanese citizen in Japan.
Well, fuck you very much, Sumo Kyoukai. You are the shame of Japan.
Posted in Dejima Awards, Exclusionism, Sport | 35 Comments »
Posted by debito on 24th February 2010
Here’s something I received the other day from Debito.org Reader XY. It’s a flyer he found in his mailbox from the Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP, advising people to “protect Japan and vote their conscience” (although they can’t legally use the word “vote” since it’s not an official election period). It talks about how “dangerous” it would be to grant NJ PR local suffrage.
I’ve given some of the con arguments here before (from radical rightists loons like Hiranuma and co.), but this time it’s seventeen more mainstreamers (from a party which would otherwise be in power but for people voting their conscience last August) offering a number of questionable claims…
My favorite bit is the illustration at the bottom. “JAPAN, LET’S PROTECT OURSELVES!!” Love how it’s an angry-looking alien ship with its sights on our archipelago. NJ as invading alien!! And I remember back in the day when we had a UFO Party waiting to cart us all away! How times change when there’s a real policy up for debate.
But seriously folks, this isn’t some podunk backwater like Dejima Award Winner Setaka Town in Fukuoka. This is Edogawa-ku, the easternmost ku of Tokyo proper, right across the river from Chiba, with more than half a million registered residents. It’s not the type of place for xenophobic alarmist politicians to immaturely paint the spectre of an alien invasion in a serious debate.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Politics, 日本語 | 36 Comments »
Posted by debito on 23rd February 2010
One more piece in the puzzle about why divorces with children in tow in Japan are so problematic. As we’ve discussed here before umpteen times, Japan does not allow joint custody (thanks to the Koseki Family Registry system etc.), nor does it guarantee visitation rights. Following below is another excellent article by Colin Jones on why that is — because Japan’s paternalistic courts and bureaucrats believe they know more than the parents about what’s best for the child. It’s one more reason why I believe that without substantial reforms, nobody should marry (Japanese or NJ) and have children under the Japanese system as it stands right now.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Child Abductions, Cultural Issue, Human Rights, Lawsuits | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 22nd February 2010
The Government of Japan comes under review this month in Geneva by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. I was invited to submit a chapter for a report to the UN by the NGO Solidarity with Migrants Japan (SMJ) on how Japan is doing with enforcing it.
NGO Report Regarding the Rights of Non-Japanese Nationals, Minorities of Foreign Origins, and Refugees in Japan.
Prepared for the 76th United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Session February 2010
Compiled and published by: Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)
CHAPTER 2 Race and Nationality-based Entrance Refusals at Private and Quasi-Public Establishments By Debito Arudou. Page 7
As I conclude:
“In conclusion, the situation is that in Japan, racial discrimination remains unconstitutional and unlawful under the ICERD, yet not illegal. Japan has had more than a decade since 1996 to pass a criminal law against RD. Its failure to do so can only be interpreted as a clear violation of ICERD Article 2(1): “States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay [emphasis added] a policy of eliminating racial discrimination.” We urge the Committee to make the appropriate advisements to the Japanese government to pass a law against racial discrimination without any further delay.”
Enjoy. Let’s see how the UN and GOJ respond. Here’s how the GOJ responded in 2008 — read and guffaw at their claim that they have taken “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination”.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Japanese Government, United Nations | 11 Comments »
Posted by debito on 21st February 2010
Guest writer Mark Thompson: A daycare center named Midori Hoikuen (みどり保育園), or Green Daycare Center, in Tokorozawa City in Saitama Prefecture, located just 30 minutes by train from Ikebukuro station in Tokyo, has been teaching hate speech to three-year old children daily, despite the protests of the parents of at least one biracial child in the class.
Here is a quick translation of some of the frightening lyrics from the song the children are being taught to enjoy singing daily at the daycare center in Tokorozawa:
“Little Black Sambo, sambo, sambo
His face and hands are completely black
Even his butt is completely black”
The daycare center’s excuse is that since all of the children have already learned the title Little Black Sambo, there will be no change in the title whatsoever. The staff have continued to teach the use of the discriminatory word “sambo” and encourage the children to enjoy using it.
Please take the time to contact the daycare center yourself, either in English or Japanese, and raise your concerns about the daycare center’s teaching of hate speech to young children. It will only take a minute of your time and contact information is provided below.
Please also make your voice heard, by sending a carbon copy to Tokorozawa City Hall, Department of Daycare Services, which has been informed of this issue. Although technically a private institution, the parents [of the biracial child] were originally instructed by the city of Tokorozawa that their child would have attend daycare there.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Education, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 25 Comments »
Posted by debito on 20th February 2010
Quick blog entry for today, as I recover from 9.5 hours of dental work over three days at an excellent Edmonton dentist’s. It wasn’t a comfortable experience, to be sure, but it wasn’t painful (I had a tooth pulled at age 7 or 8 — that set me on the straight and narrow when it comes to cleaning my teeth assiduously; five cavities at once this time were the first fillings I’ve had in about fifteen years.) And all told, I spent about 9 and a half hours in the dentist chair. Boy my mouth feels awful, but my teeth feel good.
But this is what happens when you’re as paranoid of Japanese dentists as I am. My last teeth cleaning (in Japan) was about five years ago — and it was so bad (the doc wore gloves but a very stained smock) that they gave me an ultrasound (no scaling below the gums afterwards), then a flossing — and snapped the floss on what was left behind. I told them to start again. Cost 3000 yen all told. Got what I paid for. No doubt the black calculus that my Canadian dental hygienist scraped out (and proudly showed me a huge fleck of) was missed back then. Ugh.
So, how are other people’s experiences with dentistry in Japan? Floor is open to discussion.
Posted in Discussions, Tangents | 32 Comments »
Posted by debito on 18th February 2010
In a new trend of “Japan Passing” (a play on the old debate-stifling term “Japan Bashing”, except this time it refers to Japan being passed over in importance as the purported “leader of Asia”, in favor of China), we see the ultimate effect of Japan’s closed-door policies towards the outside world (including immigration) — foreign correspondents pulling out and closing up shop, turning fading economic superpower Japan into an international media backwater by degrees. It’s sad to see the FCCJ (who accepted me as an associate member earlier this year, thanks) dwindling this much. But after “two lost decades” of Japan’s economic stagnation and the previous decade criminalizing and excluding immigrants, culminating in a policy push to send them “home” despite all their contributions, it’s just one more chicken coming home to roost.
Posted in Media | 12 Comments »
Posted by debito on 17th February 2010
Kyodo: The Kumamoto District Court awarded more than ¥17 million in damages Friday to four Chinese interns who were forced to work long hours for low wages in Kumamoto Prefecture.
The court ordered that the union Plaspa Apparel, which arranged the trainee work for the four, to pay ¥4.4 million and that the actual employer, a sewing agency, pay ¥12.8 million in unpaid wages.
It is the first ruling that held a job broker for foreign trainees liable for their hardships, according to lawyers representing the four interns.
Posted in Good News, Labor issues, Lawsuits, 日本語 | 6 Comments »
Posted by debito on 16th February 2010
Here’s a case of how the GOJ can be incredibly insensitive towards how the J cops police NJ: Not issuing them documents properly just in case they get snagged for Gaijin Card checks:
Mainichi: “A Rwandan man seeking refugee status in Japan has been held in custody for over two weeks, on suspicion of violating the Immigration Control Law.
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and refugee relief organizations are requesting his release, police said.
The 30-year-old was arrested on Jan. 7 for failing to present valid identification after stopped by local police in the Aichi Prefecture city of Kita-Nagoya, according to his lawyer. He was carrying a copy of the receipt for his refugee status application, but the document was deemed invalid without a photograph.”
This negligence on the part of otherwise thorough policing in Japan is worse than ironic. It should be unlawful — harassing, even incarcerating, otherwise law-abiding NJ just because they got zapped by racial profiling in the first place.
Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 29 Comments »
Posted by debito on 15th February 2010
Sapporo Source column: I turned 45 this month on January 13th. Now I can probably say my life is half over. With current average lifespans, I’ll be lucky to make it to age ninety. But this milestone occasions some thoughts about one’s “Middle Age”.
Middle Age enables one to look both forward and back — with the health and vim of a younger person, and the clarity of an elder. It’s like being on top of a hill: I can look behind at where I came from, and look ahead (with better focus than ever) at where I’ll probably be going.
Let’s reflect upon our adult experiences (admittedly, for people like us lucky enough to live in developed countries). In our reckless Twenties, many of us had no idea where we would be twenty years from now. Still, did it matter? We were finishing our educations, starting our careers, or even selecting partners to walk the course of life with. For many, however, it was too soon to “settle down”. Hey, we hadn’t even lived our first 10,000 days yet. What was the rush?
Then came our Thirties, and it was time to “grow up” and start considering some “investments”…
Posted in Articles & Publications, Tangents | 6 Comments »
Posted by debito on 14th February 2010
Olympics are the topic du jour, so let’s bring up something that relates to Debito.org.
Debito.org Reader JPS sent me a comment yesterday with some links (thanks, see below) pointing out how once again in Japan, citizenship and dual nationality are political issues, not legal ones. We have dual nationals (in the case below, the Reeds, two Japanese-Americans) skating for Team Japan.
For the record, I’m fine with that. Participate however you can in whatever team you choose as long as you’re doing so properly under Olympic rules. The problem is that under Japan’s rules, legally one of the Reeds should not be a dual national anymore — she had to choose one by age 22 and didn’t. But for the sake of politics and medals, we’re bending the laws yet again — claiming people as ours only when it suits us.
Let’s just face reality, and allow dual nationality in Japan. Period. Then we have fewer identity problems and conflicts of interest.
Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Sport | 22 Comments »
Posted by debito on 13th February 2010
Kyodo: Local assemblies in 14 of Japan’s 47 prefectures have adopted statements in opposition to giving permanent foreign residents in Japan the right to vote in local elections since the Democratic Party of Japan took power last year, a Kyodo News tally showed Monday.
Before the launch last September of the new government under Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama who supports granting local suffrage, 31 prefectural assemblies took an affirmative stance, but six of them have turned against it since then.
(Those open-minded prefectures are: Akita, Yamagata, Chiba, Ibaraki, Toyama, Ishikawa, Shimane, Kagawa, Oita, Saga, Nagasaki and Kumamoto, plus Saitama and Niigata)
Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Politics, Media, 日本語 | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 12th February 2010
Article: McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) is closing 430 restaurants in Japan, the latest sign of the faltering economy in the Asian country… The Golden Arches has been struggling in Japan for a while. Last year, a marketing campaign featuring “Mr. James,” a geeky, Japan-loving American, was denounced as an offensive flop, according to Time.com. McDonald’s has tried to appeal to Japanese tastes with wassabi burgers, chicken burgers and sukiyaki burgers. A Texas Burger, with barbecue sauce, fried onions, bacon, cheese and spicy mustard, proved to be a hit. But consolidated sales at McDonald’s Japan fell 10.8% last year. Profit is expected to plunge 54.7% this year.
COMMENT: Kinda makes you believe in karma. Zamaa miro.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Food, Good News | 26 Comments »
Posted by debito on 11th February 2010
I have just heard that the United Nations will be coming to visit Japan again in late March to see how she’s doing regarding keeping her promise to eliminate with racial discrimination.
I know for a fact that “Japanese Only” etc. signs and rules are up around Japan in various guises and places of visit. I have been asked to help out giving a tour of these places in the Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, and/or Tokyo areas.
So let me ask Debito.org readers: Do you know of any places open to the public in these areas that explicitly refuse NJ (or those who look like NJ) entry and service? The best places actually have a sign up saying so. If so, please send me (to email@example.com) 1) a snap photo (cellphone ok) of the sign, 2) a snap of the storefront with the sign visible, 3) the name and approximate address of the place and date of photos. I’ll do the rest. Thanks for helping out.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Exclusionism, Good News, Human Rights, United Nations | 19 Comments »
Posted by debito on 10th February 2010
Commenter PT: For years now, going back to the release of the Megumi Yokota movie back in late 2006/early 2007, we have been trying to point out the hypocrisy of the Japanese government in insisting that the United States support their efforts to get back their 17 citizens abducted to North Korea between 27 and 33 years ago, while continuing their ongoing state sponsored kidnapping of hundreds of American children to Japan. Well, it looks like we have finally reached the point where the United States Government has once and for all pointed this hypocrisy out to the Japanese Government.
Kyodo: A senior U.S. government official has warned Japan that its failure to join an international treaty on child custody may have adverse effects on Washington’s assistance to Tokyo in trying to resolve the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals, diplomatic sources said Saturday.
Kurt Campbell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, made the remarks to senior Japanese Foreign Ministry officials during his visit to Japan in early February and strongly urged the Japanese government to become a party to the treaty, the sources said…
He noted that there is something in common in the sorrows felt by Japanese people whose children were abducted by North Korea and by Americans whose children were taken away by their Japanese spouses, the sources said…
Japan has been largely reluctant to do so, with a senior Foreign Ministry official saying, “It does not suit Japanese culture to treat parents, who have brought back their children to the country, as criminals.”
Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Good News, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government | 10 Comments »
Posted by debito on 9th February 2010
Guest Blog Entry: This is Laura Petrescu again – the MEXT scholarship grantee who shared her studying experience with you all last year.
First of all, for those of you wondering why my story would be worth an update, here’s a little food for thought: what happened to me, and to other foreign students who were too bitter or too afraid to come out in the open, isn’t just a problem of one individual who couldn’t quite get used to living and studying here. It’s an entire system that rounds up gifted high-school graduates from around the world and brings them to Japan, but stops there; there are no follow-ups, no inquiries about students’ problems and general well-being, and everything is left to the universities where said graduates are placed. And, as I tried to point out in my other essay, some of these universities are not prepared to accommodate and deal with foreign students.
I’ve decided to waive my scholarship and return to my home country. There are two reasons for my decision. [snip] Prospective MEXT students need to know all this. Having this information can help them decide whether it’s worth to spend five years here, re-learn everything they thought they knew about Japan, struggle to fit in, be treated questionably time and again, and possibly not learn anything beyond the absolute basics of their field, just to get a piece of cardboard that says they graduated from a Japanese university. Not to mention that the allowance is hardly enough to get by once they get kicked out of their dorm – and everyone gets kicked out of their dorm after a year (or two, if they’re lucky), and most of the small university taxes are NOT paid by MEXT (I had to pay roughly 80.000 JPY when I enrolled, no idea what those were for, but there you go). Add that to the cost of moving to another city (which most foreign students have to do after their preparatory year) and later on, the key money, etc., required to move to an apartment or mansion, and it’s obvious that not only the students, but also their families will probably have to make considerable efforts as well.
COMMENT: This is bad news for Japanese institutes of higher education, which sorely need students due to the declining birthrate, and for Japan’s industrial prowess, which is poorly served by a system that cannot reap the benefits of international students being trained through our tax monies for our job market.
Posted in Education, Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government | 36 Comments »
Posted by debito on 8th February 2010
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Toyota, once the #1 automaker worldwide (well, for a spell) after years of building on a sterling reputation created over decades for quality and service, has finally fallen to earth. I don’t think Shadenfreude is the natural order of things when titans stumble, but what I’ve always been miffed at is how little Toyota officially acknowledges the secret to their success is imported NJ workers helping them cut costs through low wages. (I could never find any official stats on how many NJ are part of the Toyota system within Japan.) I was wondering if someone would be blaming the foreigners for sloppy parts. Well, it turns out, they kinda are. Read on:
In Toyota City, recalls are blamed on foreign components
By David McNeill
The Independent (UK) Wednesday, 3 February 2010…
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 20 Comments »
Posted by debito on 7th February 2010
I had an odd experience yesterday at the hands of Air Canada in Narita. I was paged shortly before boarding along with about four other people to come to the Air Canada desk at the gate.
They asked to see my passport. I obliged. Then they asked (whole exchange in Japanese):
“You’re naturalized, right?” Yes.
“What was your nationality before?”
I paused and told them that was unessential information.
“So you are unwilling to say?”
I asked what this information was necessary for.
“We’re just asking.”
“No you’re not. Who needs this information? You as the airline?”
“No, the Canadian Government wants it. They’re an immigration country. They’re trying to avoid faked passports.”
Posted in Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ | 15 Comments »
Posted by debito on 6th February 2010
Creepy LA Times article on vigilante Korean otaku group stalking “English teachers”: “The volunteer manager of a controversial group known as the Anti-English Spectrum, Yie investigates complaints by South Korean parents, often teaming up with authorities, and turns over information from his efforts for possible prosecution.
Outraged teachers groups call Yie an instigator and a stalker.
Yie waves off the criticism. “It’s not stalking, it’s following,” he said. “There’s no law against that.”
Since its founding in 2005, critics say, Yie’s group has waged an invective-filled nationalistic campaign against the 20,000 foreign-born English teachers in South Korea.
On their website and through fliers, members have spread rumors of a foreign English teacher crime wave. They have alleged that some teachers are knowingly spreading AIDS, speculation that has been reported in the Korean press…”
Posted in Cultural Issue, Education, Human Rights, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Tangents | 8 Comments »
Posted by debito on 5th February 2010
Ariel on the continuing saga of the bored Narita Cops and their Gaijin Check Practice on Caucasian NJ: “One or two of the officers would periodically search for someone to check. They were most certainly not being random, they would stand in the flow of traffic and scan those passing by until someone caught their fancy and then they’d make a bee-line for them. I saw them stop a total of 11 people, ALL of whom were caucasian, and all of whom were walking alone or in pairs. None of the 11 protested, but then again they all had luggage and/or had just exited customs, so it’s quite possible they were mostly tourists. I did not see them stop any other NJs (black, latino, etc), but strangely there seemed to be only caucasians and asians in the terminal at the time (yes, I looked). The only time I saw the officers speak to an asian was when a young woman approached an officer and asked for directions.
Granted this is essentially all anecdotal evidence, but it seems pretty clear that the police at Narita have been instructed to engage in active racial profiling. The oddest thing to me though is that these officers don’t seem to care about finding dangerous people, rather they seem to be targeting people who seem to be easy to approach and won’t make a fuss in order to make a quota and give the appearance that they are doing something to combat crime and terrorism. Is it just me, or is this the opposite of what the goal of airport security should be? Instead of keeping an alert watch out for legitimately suspicious people they are wasting half of their time stopping people they don’t think pose any threat!”
Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Practical advice | 46 Comments »
Posted by debito on 4th February 2010
Just to let everyone know, I’m going over to Canada (Calgary and Edmonton) from tomorrow for a spell for most of February. I’ll still be online probably every day, of course, but the blog may be updated and comments approved less frequently. FYI. Thanks everyone for reading Debito.org.
Posted in debito.org blog and website biz | 15 Comments »
Posted by debito on 4th February 2010
Some good news worth bringing up here for discussion. The upcoming Immigration guideline changes that would have required enrollment in Japan social insurance for visa renewals has been dropped, or at least deleted from their checklist of requirements.
On balance, this is a good thing. I have heard plenty of complaints from NJ saying how they would have to stump up full back payments for insurance that their employer should have paid half of (but utilized the cut-off starting point of 30 hours/week for “full-time” mandatory employer insurance contributions by employing their NJ staff contractually for 29.5 hours), or be denied a visa renewal. Of course, Japan’s (pretty weak) labor law enforcement bodies should have gone after these exploitative employers, but Immigration instead did the quick and dirty (and, yes, sensible) step you see below of just snipping out the guideline. It’s still a good thing, in that pressure for flexibility in the system for NJ who may have otherwise been shafted both ways by the system did win out.
First a Japan Times article excerpt, then a rebuttal from Debito.org Reader TA sent to the editor of the Japan Times, regarding the conflict of interest the advocate Free Choice Foundation has in this issue, et al.
Posted in Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 8 Comments »
Posted by debito on 3rd February 2010
Excerpt: It is probably no surprise that this columnist supports PR suffrage. There are close to half a million Special Permanent Residents (the zainichi ethnic Koreans, Chinese, etc.), born and raised here, who have been paying Japanese taxes their entire lives. Moreover, their relatives were former citizens of the Japanese empire (brought here both by force and by the war economy), contributing to and even dying for our country. In just about any other developed nation, they would be citizens already; they once were.
Then there are close to a half-million more Regular Permanent Residents (the “newcomer” immigrants) who have taken the long and winding road (for some, two decades) to qualify for PR. They got it despite the discretionary and often obstructionist efforts of Japan’s mandarins (Zeit Gist May 28, 2008).
Anyone who puts in the years and effort to meet PR assimilation requirements has earned the right to participate in their local community — including voting in their elections. At least three dozen other countries allow foreigners to vote in theirs, and the sky hasn’t fallen on them.
But that’s not what antisuffrage demonstrators, with Hiranuma their poster boy, would have you believe. Although public policy debate in Japan is generally pretty milquetoast, nothing brings out apocalyptic visions quite like the right wing’s dry-throated appeals to Japanese-style xenophobia. Granting foreigners suffrage, they say, will carve up Japan like a tuna…
Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Politics | 22 Comments »
Posted by debito on 2nd February 2010
Request: I am a journalist based in the UK and coming to Japan in February/March to research a couple of stories, one of which is the issue of Asian women being encouraged to immigrate into Japan and marry into rural Japanese families.
I want to talk about the problem in farming community of there being a shortage of Japanese-born women because increasingly more are abandoning the countryside for the cities and hence there are many ‘drives’ to get Japanese men in rural communities to marry and produce children…
More specifically, I want to get the personal stories of some of the Asian wives who have come to Japan to marry into rural families. Would you know any such women that may be willing to talk to me about their experiences (they can keep anonymity of course if they want to).
Also, I would like to find (though this may be harder!) someone who is involved in the so-called ‘marriage brokering agencies’ – either someone who has contact with the agencies who play a role in sending women from Asian countries to Japan or, someone in Japan with a connection to local authorities who may have officially encouraged the practise.
Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Media | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 2nd February 2010
Various media: Envoys of eight countries met the Japanese foreign minister Jan 30, 2010, to press the government to sign a treaty to prevent international parental child abductions.
Activists say that thousands of foreign parents have lost access to children in Japan, where the courts virtually never award child custody to a divorced foreign parent.
Japan is the only nation among the Group of Seven industrialised nations that has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention that requires countries to return a child wrongfully kept there to their country of habitual residence.
In the latest move to urge Tokyo to sign the convention, envoys from Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and the United States expressed their concerns to Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada…
The envoys’ visit to Okada followed their meeting with Justice Minister Keiko Chiba in October, as they hope Japan’s new centre-left government, which ended a half-century of conservative rule in September, will review the issue.
Activist groups estimate that over the years up to 10,000 dual-citizenship children in Japan have been prevented from seeing a foreign parent.
Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Japanese Government, 日本語 | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 1st February 2010
Table of Contents:
PROMISES OF REFORM
1) Asahi: MOJ & MEXT crafting “point system” for immigration policy
2) Asahi: Nagoya to withdraw from Juki Net system, while dogs (not NJ) get juuminhyou
3) Japan Times on proposal to convert Itami Airport into “International Campus Freedom City”
(Plus DEBITO.ORG POLL: What do you think about Osaka Gov’s proposal to scrap Itami Airport and create a “International Campus Freedom City”?”
THINGS THAT NEED REFORM
4) Racist statements from Xenophobe Dietmember Hiranuma re naturalized J Dietmember
5) Japan Times Colin Jones on anachronistic Koseki System, how lack of family laws affect J divorces
6) Why we fight: Media on J birth rate decrease and population decline acceleration
7) Taikibansei & Cabby on mixed experiences of visa treatment depending on location of Immigration Office. What about others?
8 ) Japan Times Amy Chavez comes unglued with weird “Japan Lite” column: “How about a gaijin circus in gazelle land?”
9) Momoyama Gakuin Daigaku blocks online campus access to Debito.org. Just like Misawa Air Force Base.
10) Economist article excerpt on being foreign worldwide
11) Gallup Poll says 700 million desire to migrate permanently
12) Economist passim on “Global Creativity Index”, which ranks Japan over USA in terms of creativity
13) On the 15th anniversary of the Kobe Earthquake: My first activism in Japan: Eyewitness essays when I volunteered down there
14) Tidy free FCCJ Scholarship up for grabs, deadline Feb 15
… and finally …
15) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST FEBRUARY 1, 2010 (from Debito.org and iTunes)
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Posted by debito on 1st February 2010
In this issue of the Debito.org Podcast, I read three of my Japan Times articles regarding the word “gaijin” (technically “foreigner”, but not really; I controversially compare it to the epithet “nigger”), and the effect its underlying binary rubric has on both NJ worldwide and Japanese migrating within Japan. Articles as follows:
Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 6, “The Case for ‘Gaijin’ as a Racist Word” (August 5, 2008).
Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 7, “The Case for ‘Gaijin’ as a Racist Word, Part Two” (September 2, 2008)
Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 8/ZEIT GIST Community Page column 46, “Gaijin Part Three: How the concept is destroying Japan’s countryside” (October 7, 2008)
This along with a Duran Duran song excerpt at the end and Tangerine Dream’s “White Eagle” in between. Enjoy.
Posted in Podcasts | No Comments »