DEBITO.ORG PODCAST MARCH 1, 2010

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

Thanks for listening!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 28, 2010

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

Hi All. Before I start this Newsletter:

QUICK REQUEST

Calling all Debito.org Readers: “Japanese Only” signs in Kansai, Nagoya, and Kanto areas? For March 2010 UN inspection.

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 debito@debito.org) 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.

Now back to…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 27, 2010
Table of Contents:

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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.

TANGENTS
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)
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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
Daily Blog Updates, RSS, and Newsletter signups at www.debito.org
Freely Forwardable

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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)

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, f*** you very much, Sumo Kyoukai. You are the shame of Japan. And I’ll talk more about it on March 2, so get a copy of the Japan Times!

http://www.debito.org/?p=6026

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2) Colin Jones and Daily Yomiuri on J judiciary’s usurpingly paternal attitudes re families post-divorce

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5919

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3) SMJ/NGO combined report for UN CERD Committee regarding Japan’s human rights record

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”.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6000

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4) Kyodo & Mainichi: 14 prefectures now oppose NJ PR suffrage (Debito.org names them)

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)

http://www.debito.org/?p=5955

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WHY THINGS ARE CHANGING

5) International community serves demarche to MOFA re Int’l Child Abductions Issue, Jan 30 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5892

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6) Int’l Child Abductions Issue: USG formally links support to GOJ re DPRK abductions with GOJ’s signing of Hague Treaty

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.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=5950

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7) Japan Times: Foreign press pulling out of Japan in favor of China

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5804

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8 ) Kyodo: NJ “Trainees” win Y17 million for trainee abuses by employer and “broker”

Kyodo: The Kumamoto District Court awarded more than Y17 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 Y4.4 million and that the actual employer, a sewing agency, pay y12.8 million in unpaid wages.

It is the first ruling that held a job broker for foreign trainees liable for their hardship…

http://www.debito.org/?p=5868

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9) DailyFinance.com: McDonald’s Japan loses big, shutting 430 outlets, thanks in part to “Mr James” campaign

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5964

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10) Japan Times: Immigration dropping social insurance requirement for visa renewal

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5907

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11) Comfort Hotel Nagoya unlawfully tries Gaijin Card check on NJ resident, admits being confused by GOJ directives

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5733

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THEN THERE IS OUTRIGHT NASTINESS

12) Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP flyer, likens granting NJ PR suffrage to UFO alien invasion. Seriously.

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6017

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13) Mainichi: Rwandan Refugee applicant jailed for weeks for not having photograph on GOJ-issued document

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5830

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14) Ariel updates experience with not-random Gaijin Card and Passport Checks by Narita cops

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!”

http://www.debito.org/?p=5901

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15) Day Care Center in Tokorozawa, Saitama teaches toddlers “Little Black Sambo”, complete with the epithets

Guest writer Mark Thompson: A daycare center named Midori Hoikuen, 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6009

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16) Kyodo et.al falls for NPA spins once again, headlines NJ “white collar crime” rise despite NJ crime fall overall

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6040

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17) Laura Petrescu, MEXT Scholar, update: Bowing out of Japan, reasons why.

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5863

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TANGENTS

18) Olympic Tangent: US-born Reed siblings skate for “Team Japan” despite one being too old to have dual nationality

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5973

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19) UK Independent: Toyota’s problems being pinned on foreign parts.

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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=5924

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20) Debito.org Poll: “Are you rooting for Team Japan in the Vancouver Olympics?”

Options:

  • Of course! Japan is my country and/or my home, and I support the home team!
  • No, I support a different country, ‘cos it’s my home, etc.
  • I don’t support “Teams”. I support individual athletes doing their personal best.
  • I don’t buy into this “Medal Count” and nationalism hooey.
  • Go anybody!
  • Don’t know / Don’t care / etc.

Vote on any blog page http://www.debito.org

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21) LA Times: “Korea activists target foreign English teachers”

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…”

http://www.debito.org/?p=5889

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22) Odd treatment of “naturalized” people (guess who) by Air Canada/Canadian Government at Narita Airport

I had an odd experience on Feb 5 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.”

Whaaaa…?

http://www.debito.org/?p=5934

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23) Dentistry in Canada, wow, what a difference!

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6002

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

… and finally …

24) SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO column on Middle Age (full text)

ON MIDDLE AGE
SAPPORO SOURCE Column 7, for publication in the January-February 2010 issue
By ARUDOU Debito
DRAFT SIX VERSION AS SUBMITTED TO SAPPORO SOURCE

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”: What did we want to “do” with our lives? How could we convert a “job” into a “career”? Who really were our “good friends”? Who would we spend our leisure time with? And with our body clocks ticking, it was time to decide if we wanted to reproduce or not. This meant changing any relationship that had developed out of love, or habit, into legal ties. If and when children popped out, we had the responsibility of providing stability. Then we had to repeat the questions above.

But for me, for half a decade now, it’s been the Forties. Once we get more than halfway into our second set of 10,000 days, things tend to come into stark relief. Some people can see where their chosen paths will end, and wonder if they made the right decisions. Many experience a very real Midlife Crisis — as in, coming to terms (or not) with a fundamental question: “Is this all there is to life?” This is a time when people suddenly make wrenching decisions that stun onlookers: “Why would you work so hard for so long to get where you are now, and then give it all up?” The answer: They just weren’t happy with what they got.

The Forties are also in some ways an awkward age, particularly in Japan. We are not young enough to get away with some youthful excesses and mistakes. Yet we are not visibly old and grey enough to be entitled to filial piety, or coast along on the respect for the elderly found in Asian societies. And for many, our present salary is hardly munificent, especially up here in Hokkaido, making us wonder how we’ll ever afford our kids’ upcoming college tuition. Will our investments help them with their investments as they bud off?

Middle Age is also a midpoint in the aging process. Many realize that genes and life’s experiences have aged our peers quite differently. We can look at Facebook photos of high school friends we haven’t seen for decades, and see how they’ve turned out. Some are relatively unchanged, except for the extra kilograms or the cue-ball pate. Others have become exactly like their parents — fenced in, furrowed, domesticated, surrounded by their lusty studs and fillies. Some are, incredibly, even ready to become grandparents. (Myself, I come off looking like a Beat Poet with a full head of hair, for which I am grateful.)

Now looking forward, as the Fifties, Sixties, and Beyond (hopefully) loom, we had better recognize some limitations and make some personal pacts. For soon all of the things we took for granted — physical stamina, libido, corporal mobility and integrity, mental faculty, and the reckless optimism of youth — will be dimming if not going to seed.

Then pops up the “R-word” — “Retirement” — something many thought only old fogies worry about. But now it’s our turn. Many will have paid enough years into their pension plans and still wonder if they will get enough back to take care of themselves. And others will realize that their hopes and dreams, maybe even the thought of changing and improving the world, will quite possibly not come to fruition. So they either reconcile themselves to a quiet life, cultivating a hobby to keep their minds awake and bodies moving, or make themselves known as community leaders and volunteers, if not potential political candidates (representative democracy, after all, favors the older and experienced).

It is a luxury of this age to appreciate that every life stage has its benefits. But Middle Age in particular endows the self-aware with the knowledge of how to make adjustments to maximize self-worth and happiness. What makes you happy? And what will you do to achieve it before you die? If not now, when?

Of course, there are the nostalgic types, who hark back wistfully and say, “I wish I was, say, sixteen again.” Yes, reminiscing has its uses, but I believe it should not be a life view. I’m one of those (probably rare) people who rarely looks back, and when I do, I realize I have never been happier than now. From my current perspective as a 45-year-old, I consider that very lucky indeed.

Let’s hope my second — and third — 10,000 days occasion the same emotions when I look back. “Look back NOT in anger”, one can hope.
ENDS
927 WORDS

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

That’s all for this month! Sorry for the fat Newsletter this time, and thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
Daily Blog Updates, RSS, and Newsletter signups at www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 27, 2010 ENDS

Kyodo et.al falls for NPA spins once again, headlines NJ “white collar crime” rise despite NJ crime fall overall

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Hi Blog.  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, Courtesy of KG
http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/no-of-white-collar-crimes-by-foreigners-up-by-312

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.

ENDS

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

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.

NB: I can’t find the Japanese original for the Kyodo English article, only something in Kyodo’s Chinese-language news service (which avails us with the original terminology for “white-collar crime”, as “gaikokujin chinou hanzai” (lit. foreign intellectual crime); again, whatever that means). The structure is the same:

◆09年在日外国人智能犯罪案件骤增
02.25.10 17:36
http://china.kyodo.co.jp/modules/fsStory/index.php?sel_lang=schinese&storyid=78662
【共同社2月25日电】据日本警察厅统计,除永久居住者外,去年赴日外国人犯罪案件中诈骗等“智能犯罪”急剧增加。案件数量较上年增加了31.2%,共964起;涉案人数为546人,增加了7.9%。

其中使用伪造信用卡的多人诈骗团伙发案率明显居高。

警察厅表示,不同国籍的团伙成员在世界各地重复犯罪的“犯罪国际化”对日本的治安也构成了巨大威胁,将重新构筑针对外国人有组织犯罪的调查机制。

从外国人犯罪的整体情况来看,触犯《刑法》及特别法的案件共27,790起,减少了11.1%;涉案人数为13,282人,减少4.3%。(完)
ENDS
======================

The Sankei doesn’t defy its typical anti-NJ bent as it also parrots the NPA:

外国人の知能犯罪が増加 前年比31・2%増の964件 564人摘発詐欺グループ目立つ
産經新聞 2010.2.25 10:53
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/crime/100225/crm1002251055012-n1.htm
昨年警察が摘発した永住者らを除く来日外国人による犯罪のうち、詐欺などの「知能犯」が急増し、件数で対前年比31・2%増の964件、人数で7・9%増の546人となったことが25日、警察庁集計で分かった。
偽造クレジットカードを使った多人数の詐欺グループ摘発が目立つ。
警察庁は、多国籍のメンバーが世界各地で犯行を繰り返す「犯罪のグローバル化」が日本の治安にも大きな脅威になっているとして、外国人組織犯罪への捜査態勢の再構築を打ち出している。
外国人犯罪全体では、刑法犯と特別法犯を合わせ件数が11・1%減の2万7790件、人数が4・3%減の1万3282人だった。
ENDS
=======================

Jiji Press takes a different angle, headlining the drop in NJ crime and assigning possible societal causes, but still resorts to pointing out a rise where possible (in types of crime, such as theft and graft):

外国人犯罪、5年連続減少=「生活苦」で窃盗、強盗増加−警察庁
http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=soc_30&k=2010022500269
2009年に全国の警察が摘発した来日外国人は、前年比603人減の1万3282人だったことが25日、警察庁のまとめで分かった。04年に過去最多の2万1842人となった後は5年連続で減少しているが、罪種別で見ると窃盗や強盗、詐欺などが増加。同庁は「生活苦による犯罪が目立つ」としている。
国籍別の割合は、中国が36%を占めて過去10年間続けて最多。フィリピンやベトナムが10年前と比べ激増した。(2010/02/25-10:23)
ENDS

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

And in a related note, the NPA is going “global” in its unified crime-fighting efforts:

警察庁:国際犯罪、対応を一元化 部門横断的に「対策室」
毎日新聞 – ‎Feb 22, 2010‎
http://mainichi.jp/select/wadai/news/20100223dde041010004000c.html
国際的な犯罪グループによる事件の続発を受け、警察庁は23日、犯罪のグローバル化戦略プランをまとめた。警察庁の各部局や各都道府県警察本部間の垣根を低くして情報の一元化と共有を図るため「グローバル対策室」を設置。韓国や中国の捜査当局との連携強化も視野に置きグローバル化する犯罪の解決や解明に乗り出す。【千代崎聖史】

戦略プランの主な柱は(1)ICPO(国際刑事警察機構)の積極活用や、各捜査部門間の壁を取り払い組織横断的な情報収集を強化して、警察庁の情報管理システムに集約(2)海外勤務経験者を活用するなどして通訳・翻訳体制を充実(3)東アジアでの国際協力枠組みを構築し、共同オペレーションの推進。グローバル対策室は警察庁のほか各警察本部にも設置され、まず警察庁で約20人体制で発足する。

従来の外国人犯罪は、短期間のうちに実行し出国する「ヒット・アンド・アウエー型」が主流だった。しかし、この数年は拠点など犯罪インフラの準備を入念に行うケースも増え、「ピンクパンサー」と呼ばれる国際的強盗団による宝石店強盗▽ナイジェリア人らによる身代金目的邦人誘拐▽多国籍グループによる広域自動車盗事件--など複数の国にまたがる事件が頻発。日本人が犯行拠点の確保などを支援し、組織の実態解明が困難なケースも多いため、警察庁はこうした犯罪への対策を最重要課題と位置づける。

安藤隆春警察庁長官は同日の担当課長会議で、「全国警察一体で取り組まなければならない治安上の喫緊の課題だ」と訓示した。

◇初動早め情報共有
日本と海外の捜査当局が連携して事件を解決したケースに共通するのは、初動の素早さと情報の共有だ。

「助けて。マレーシアにいるの」。昨年12月13日、千葉県に住むフィリピン人女性(38)の携帯電話に、山梨県で食品工場の工員をしているはずの姉(44)から電話が入った。入管関係者を名乗る男が電話口に出てきて「薬物の容疑で連行した。釈放してほしければ1万ドルを口座に振り込め」と要求した。14日、女性は東京のフィリピン大使館に駆け込んで通報した。

警視庁は通訳を派遣し身代金目的誘拐とみて捜査を開始。「金を早く用意しないと殺す」。脅迫の電話や電子メールは計16回。警察庁はICPOを、フィリピン大使館はマレーシアの同大使館をそれぞれ通じてマレーシア国家警察に情報提供を続けた。

これを受けて、日本のフィリピン大使館とマレーシア・セランゴール州警察に対策本部が発足。州警察が携帯電話の発信電波からアジトの団地を割り出して包囲した。17日に犯人グループが被害女性を解放、ナイジェリア人5人とマレーシア人3人の21~35歳の計8人が逮捕された。女性は衰弱していたが無事だった。

捜査関係者によると、犯人グループの男らは英語のチャット上に、欧州のビジネスマンを名乗り「結婚相手を探しています。40歳以上希望」と書き込み、返信した女性にはハンサムな白人男性の顔写真を添付して送信。誘い出したクアラルンプール国際空港で拉致した。アジトでは別のカザフスタン人の女性(43)を拉致していたことも判明した。警察幹部は「警察が国境を超えてリアルタイムで情報を共有し、解決できた意義は大きい」と話す。【千代崎聖史】
ENDS

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Comfort Hotel Nagoya unlawfully tries Gaijin Card check on NJ resident, admits being confused by GOJ directives

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Hi Blog.  Writing to you jetlagged from Sapporo, just back from Canada.  I had a wonderful trip and if I can get my next Japan Times column (out Tuesday March 2) out in time (my topic I had been writing about got bumped with the sumo stuff I blogged about yesterday) I might write some impressions.

Meanwhile, pursuant to the discussions we’ve had recently 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.  And stand up for yourselves when you check into a hotel.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

From: SM
Subject: Asked For Passport & Alien Registration – Comfort Hotel Nagoya Airport
Date: January 13, 2010
To: debito@debito.org

Hello Debito,

We met in September at the Writers Conference in Kyoto. I enjoyed your presentation, and I am a regular reader of your website.

Below is a letter I received from the management at the Comfort Hotel Chubu Airport. If you would like to use my story as well as the letter below on your site, feel free to add it. If you do decide to use it on your site, could you remove my name and email address? Thanks.

The background:

For Christmas vacation, I decided to avoid the morning rush to the airport and spend the night at the Comfort Hotel, conveniently attached to Chubu International Airport. When I checked in, I was immediately asked for my passport. I let the clerk know that I was a long-term resident of Japan, and would be giving her my home address rather than a passport. She then said that if I would not give her the passport, I would have to show her my Alien Registration card. I told her that as a resident with a permanent address, this would not be necessary. She said it was the law, and that to stay in the hotel, I would have to show her my card. I once again refused, telling her that she did not have the authority to ask for an Alien Registration card. She became quite flustered. I continued filling out the form, including my full name and address. When I passed her the form, she stood her ground and said I must show her my card. I asked to speak to a manager. She left, and I waited in the lobby for ten minutes. She returned with another woman who did not say a word to me. She told me the amount to pay, gave me my change and sent me on my way. I was too tired to pursue it, and just happy that I had a room to go to.

In the morning, I returned to the lobby and asked to speak to a manager. A man came out, and I explained the law to him and showed him the English/Japanese version of the law provided on Debito’s site (I had it displayed on my iPhone). He was polite, but quite insistent that the law stipulates that all foreign residents are required to show their Alien Registration. I asked him to research it further and gave him my business card. (By the way, he was Chinese. I asked him if he was ever required to show his Alien Registration when he stayed at hotels. He answered honestly that he wasn’t. He then gave me his business card which indicated that he had taken a Japanese name. When I pointed this out to him, and asked whether his name may be the reason he is never asked to show his identification, he smiled and agreed that that was probably the case.)

He did research the law, and wrote the following letter to me:

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

From: “コンフォートホテル中部国際空港”
Subject: Thank you stay
Received: Friday, January 8, 2010, 7:48 AM

Dear SM

Thank you for having stayed at Comfort Hotel Central Intl. Airport at the end of Last year.

I am ashamed that our staff’s imperfect knowledge of non-Japanese residents made you unpleasant when you registered at our hotel due to the lack of my training as the manager.

The reason was the staff had been confused the registration procedure for non-Japanese residents with the one for foreign visitors. The Hotel Business Law under the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare says hotel staffs must see and copy the foreign visitors’ passports.

I looked over the Law concerning this case.
The Alien Registration Law under the Ministry of Justice says, in Art. 3, paragraph 1,2 and 3, non-Japanese residents cannot refuse to show their alien registration cards when government officials demand to do it. It means we, hotel staffs, don’t have the right to ask non-Japanese residents for their alien registration cards as you said.

I learned from this case and gave directions to our hotel staffs. I keep on training them so that they understand the Laws concerning the registration procedure for non-Japanese guests well and provide good service.

I would like you to know the reason for this case was that the guidance by the two Ministries confused the staff and she didn’t understand well.

We hope we have a chance that you stay at our hotel.

Comfort Hotel Central Int’l Airport
Manager
Eisho Hayashi

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

Needless to say, I was very pleased that he had followed up on the problem, and accepted responsibility for the mix-up. As I travel quite a bit, I am going to give the Comfort Hotel another chance. I’ll be heading out of Nagoya in late February ~ I’ll let you know how it goes at that time.

Thanks, Debito, for keeping me in the know of my rights. I’m not sure I would have had the nerve to push it as far as I did without having the knowledge that you supply on your site. SM

ENDS

Dejima Award for racist Sumo Kyoukai: Decides to count naturalized Japanese as foreigners and limit stables to one “foreigner”

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  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.  And I present you with your special Debito.org Dejima Award (complete with a big loogie on top) reserved only for the most breathtakingly exclusionary moves seen in a society that even the UN says allows “deep and profound” racism.

You’d think with Takanohana’s coup-ascension to the upper echelons of the JSA, that things would be liberalizing.  Nope.  They’re going the other way.  I thought as much.

How about having some international sports leagues limit their Japanese players to one — say, Japanese in Major League Baseball teams? Including those Japanese who have naturalized?  Oh wait, do I hear calls of racism from the Japanese Peanut Galleries?  Yes, the shoe on the other foot would pinch, wouldn’t it?  And the sport as a whole would suffer since innate talent (as we have seen by the number of talented sumo rikishi from overseas) is hardly a nativist issue.  But try telling that to the racist JSA.

Arudou Debito in transit, wondering what kind of a Japan he’s returning home to.

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

SUMO
JSA to change rule on foreign sumo wrestlers
Japan Today Wednesday 24th February 2010, Courtesy lots of people

http://japantoday.com/category/sports/view/sa-to-change-rule-on-foreign-sumo-wrestlers

TOKYO — The Japan Sumo Association decided on Tuesday it will allow only one foreign-born wrestler per stable, meaning the one slot reserved for foreigners, which until now would become vacant when wrestlers took Japanese citizenship, cannot be filled.

For example, if a Mongolian-born wrestler belonging to a stable were to gain Japanese citizenship, other foreign wrestlers would be prohibited from joining the same stable.

JSA Chairman Musashigawa notified stablemasters of the decision made at an extraordinary meeting at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan the same day.

The existing restriction on foreigners will be in effect until newcomers for next month’s spring tournament undergo physicals, after which the new rule will be imposed.

‘‘You get the impression it is a severe measure but if the brakes are not applied somewhere, there will be more and more stables overrun with foreign wrestlers, so it can’t be helped,’’ said one stablemaster.

In recent years, the number of foreign wrestlers has been on the rise, as the existing loophole leaves a vacancy once someone from a respective stable gains Japanese citizenship.

Four Mongolian-born wrestlers and two Chinese-born wrestlers have taken Japanese citizenship since April last year.

The JSA decided in February 2002 to ‘‘limit the number of foreign wrestlers who can be recruited to one per stable.’‘

The latest shakeup in the JSA comes after Mongolian-born former grand champion Asashoryu quit the sport just weeks earlier following allegations he attacked a man outside a Tokyo night club in a drunken rage.

Sumo has been rocked to the core in recent years by a spate of scandals, including charges of drug violations, a death threat and a six-year prison term meted out to a stablemaster over physical abuse leading to the death of a 17-year-old wrestler.

There are nearly 60 foreign wrestlers in sumo today.

ENDS

Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP flyer, likens granting NJ PR suffrage to UFO alien invasion. Seriously.

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Hi Blog.  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 Dietmember Hiranuma and co.), but this time it’s seventeen more-mainstream LDPers (a party which would otherwise be in power but for people voting their conscience last August) offering a number of questionable claims.  First, have a look at the flyer (received February 19, 2010):

The arguments in summary are these:

1) PR NJ suffrage might be unconstitutional (hedging from the rabid right’s clear assertion that it is).  In fact, I’m not sure anyone’s absolutely sure about that.

2) PR NJ suffrage will give foreigners say over how our children are taught and how our political decisions are made.  (Well, yeah, if there are enough NJ in any particular district; and even if there were, given how nasty Japan’s public policy can be towards NJ, I’m not so sure that’s such a bad thing.)

3) Granting PR NJ suffrage is not the world trend.  (Oh, now we cite how other countries do things?  If other countries were creating a world trend, such as signing the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, you’d no doubt be begging off stressing how unique Japan is instead.  Besides, at least three dozen other countries, many of them fellow developed countries, grant local suffrage to non-citizens, and they deal with it just fine.)

4) One shouldn’t equate taxpayer with voting rights, asserting that Japanese wouldn’t get suffrage if they lived overseas.  (Actually, yes they would, if they lived in one of those abovementioned three dozen plus countries which grant it.)

5) We haven’t studied the issue enough.  (This is a typical political stalling tactic.  How much debate is enough?  How long is a piece of string?)

6) We’ve got prefectural governors coming out against PR suffrage.  (And we have prefectural governors coming out FOR suffrage too.  Anyway, when has the national government listened to local governments until now?  It hasn’t been for the past decade since the Hamamatsu Sengen, for example.)

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 spotlight on our archipelago.  NJ as invading alien!!  And I remember back in the day when we had a UFO Party (yes, the UFO党) 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, which decided that its local university should be officially “foreigner-free”.  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.

Vote your conscience.  Now that we know who these LDP idiots are, don’t vote them back into power.  Arudou Debito in Calgary

Colin Jones and Daily Yomiuri on J judiciary’s usurpingly paternal attitudes re families post-divorce

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Hi Blog.  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 — and another full article from the Yomiuri illustrating how this dynamic works in practice.  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.  Arudou Debito in Calgary

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The Japan Times Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010
THE ZEIT GIST
Children’s rights, judicial wrongs
By COLIN P. A. JONES Last in a two-part series (excerpt)

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100202zg.html

Parents, lawyers and activists alike understandably frame the problems of parental child abduction and parental alienation in Japan in terms of children’s rights. While it would be easy to conclude from what I wrote in last week’s column that Japanese courts simply do not care about them, this would probably be a mistake.

On the contrary, family courts and their specially trained investigative personnel are held out as the “experts” on children, their welfare and rights…

Thus, in my view, the fact that courts might be inclined to ignore Civil Code provisions that describe parental authority as including parental rights is understandable for the same reason that they might not be keen on referring to the Children’s Rights Convention: It is probably personally and professionally more satisfying to tell other people what they should be doing than the other way around.

With rights being the principle way in which parents and other citizens could tell the courts and other government institutions what to do, their conversion into duties is also understandable. While in other countries courts provide a mechanism by which people assert their rights against bureaucracies, in Japan the courts tend to be more like bureaucracies themselves. The same logic may also explain why the Japanese government is able to advance plans to make it easier to terminate the rights of abusive parents at a time when growing calls for the adoption of joint custody, enforceable visitation and joining the Hague Convention on international child abduction remain unaddressed.

Consequently, parents and activists trying to address the problems of child abduction and parental alienation in Japan using arguments framed in terms of children’s rights may not get very far with family courts or other bureaucracies. After all, they are the experts in the subject, and if you are in court they may presume you are a bad parent anyways. That being the case, they will tell you what is best for your child, not the other way around.

Full article at: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100202zg.html

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WHEN FAMILIES BREAK UP / Divorced parents fighting for right to see own children
The Yomiuri Shimbun Feb 3, 2010, courtesy of TC

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20100203TDY01303.htm

We live in a time when divorce has become commonplace. In Japan, a couple gets divorced every two minutes. Consequently, the number of divorced parents filing requests with the courts for visitation rights is increasing.

There is also a growing number of conflicts resulting from breakups of couples from different countries. Due to differences in interpretation regarding child custody, parents have been accused of abducting their own children and taking them to another country.

As families and people’s values diversify, certain problems have become difficult to resolve under the existing system.

Starting today, we will look at some of the problems divorced parents face as they struggle to win the right to see their children.

After separating from her husband five years ago, a 51-year-old woman in Tokyo began a long struggle to see her 15-year-old son.

The woman, a temporary worker, has only been able to see her son twice in the five years that have passed. The meetings, held in a court and in the presence of a court personnel, totaled just 95 minutes.

On both occasions when the woman saw her son, she was unable to stop tears welling up.

“My son, who is taking piano lessons, put his hand on mine to compare the size,” she said. “As I saw him staring at me while talking, I felt we were deeply bound inside.”

Desperately wishing to see her son more often, in July 2007 she applied to the family court for mediation on the issue of visitation rights.

However, the woman’s former husband initially resisted all requests to allow her to visit her son, citing the boy’s need to focus on his schooling, including preparing to move up to the next grade.

As part of the mediation process, in which a voluntary settlement is sought with the help of commissioners, the court initially set up two short meetings between the woman and her son as a way of determining the format future meetings should take.

The two met for 50 minutes in March 2008 and 45 minutes in April 2009.

“My son remembered the meeting we had a year earlier,” the woman said.

While the court advised that the woman be allowed to visit her son every two months, the couple failed to reach an agreement. As a result, the mediation process moved to the next stage, which will see a final decision issued by a judge.

“I’m so worried that I might never be allowed to see my son again,” she said.

===

Children caught up in disputes

The number of divorces nationwide reached 250,000 in 2008, according to a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry survey. Of those divorced couples, 140,000 had children aged under 20, which numbered more than 240,000.

The rising number of divorced couples is accompanied by an increasing number of conflicts involving children.

According to an annual survey compiled by the Supreme Court, family courts across the country mediated in 6,261 cases concerning disputes over meetings between divorced parents and their children and judges were forced to deliver a final decision in 1,020 of those cases. Both figures were triple the numbers a decade ago.

Even through such court-mediated procedures, only half of the parents involved in the cases won permission to see their children.

In addition, regardless of an agreement or court order reached on visitation, if the parent who lives with the child strongly resists allowing meetings, it remains difficult for the other parent to see the child.

===

Maintaining contact important

Several years ago, a 40-year-old man from Kanagawa Prefecture seeking the right to see his then 1-year-old son applied for court mediation.

He had helped his wife take care of the baby, feeding him milk and changing his diapers at night. On his days off, he took the boy to a park to play. “I had no inkling I’d be prevented from meeting my son after the divorce,” he said. “But I was completely wrong.”

He said that even after the official mediation procedure started, his former wife maintained she would never allow him to see their son. She even pushed back the scheduled date for the mediation. Time passed and no decisions were made.

Desperate to see his son, the man even visited the neighborhood where the boy lived with his mother.

The former couple failed to reach a compromise through the court-led mediation process and began proceedings that would lead to a decision by a judge. Two years later, the court concluded that the man should be allowed to see his son once a month, for half a day. Nevertheless, the former wife broke the appointment set for the first meeting, leaving the man unable to see the boy.

After repeated negotiations with the woman through lawyers, he finally managed to ensure he could regularly see his son. “I believe it’s important for children’s growth to maintain a relationship with both parents,” the father said. “I think adults shouldn’t deprive their children of this right due to selfishness.”

Waseda University Prof. Masayuki Tanamura argues the existing system no longer meets society’s changing needs. “It was previously believed that divorced parents had to accept they couldn’t see children they’d been separated from,” Tanamura said. “In recent years, however, men have become more involved in child rearing and the number of children born to couples has declined. Because of this, many divorced parents have an increased desire to maintain their relationship with their children even after a divorce.”

What needs to be done to ensure that parents can see their children after a divorce? There is a growing need for this nation to find an answer to this question.

===

Sole custody causing headaches

A key factor behind disputes involving divorced couples over their children’s custody is a Civil Code stipulation that parental prerogatives are granted to either the mother or father–not both.

The parent who obtains custody assumes rights and duties for his or her child, such as the duty to educate the child and the right to control any assets they might have. However, the parent without parental authority can claim almost no rights concerning their children.

In fact, mothers win in 90 percent of court decisions concerning the custody of a child–known as mediation and determination proceedings.

There is no provision in the Civil Code referring to the visitation rights of a parent living separately from his or her child, so whether the absent parent can meet the child depends on the wishes of the former partner who has been granted custody.

If the parent who has custody refuses to let his or her child meet with the former spouse in a court mediation, it is difficult to arrange visits.

Even if the parent living separately from his or her child or children is allowed to visit, the chances are limited–for example, to once a month. Moreover, if the parents who have custody ignore the court’s decision to grant their spouses visiting rights, there is almost no legal recourse to implement such visits.

Waseda University Prof. Masayuki Tanamura said: “The current system strongly reflects the Japanese family system established in the Meiji era [1868-1912]. Since that time, parental authority has been regarded as the right of the parents to control their children, so couples fight over it.”

Meanwhile, as the number of divorces increased from the 1970s to the ’90s in Europe and the United States, such countries began allowing joint custody, in which former couples cooperate in bringing up their children even after breaking up.

Lawyer Takao Tanase, who also serves as a professor at Chuo University, said: “[In such countries,] the rights of parents who live separately from their children after divorce to visit and communicate with their children are recognized, and such visits occur regularly. For example, there are cases in which such parents meet with their children once a fortnight and spend the weekend together.”

The number of international marriages is increasing yearly–reaching a record high of 18,774 cases in 2008–and the difference in the custody system between Japan and foreign countries causes serious problems when a Japanese splits from his or her foreign spouse.

Cases in which Japanese living in foreign countries take their children back to Japan after divorcing a foreign spouse have become an international problem. The Foreign Ministry confirmed 73 such incidents in the United States, 36 in Canada, 35 in France and 33 in Britain.

There is an international law to deal with such disputes. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction stipulates that if a former husband or wife takes his or her child or children to another country without the consent of the former spouse, the spouse can apply to bring the child back to the country where they were living. Member countries assume an obligation to cooperate in bringing the child back to the home country.

Many European countries and the United States have joined the convention, but Japan has yet to ratify it. International pressure on Japan to adopt the convention is growing.

“We need to separate the problems of parent-child relationships from the problems between couples. We need to establish laws enabling children to meet with the parent who is living separately after divorce, with the exception of cases in which the child is exposed to potential physical danger by meeting the parent,” Tanase said.

“In Japan, divorce is becoming increasingly common, and it’s important to accept the idea that divorced couples will share child-rearing duties even after divorce,” he added.

(Feb. 3, 2010)

SMJ/NGO combined report for UN CERD Committee regarding Japan’s human rights record

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Hi Blog.  Double feature for today:  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.  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.”

Full text below (mine is chapter two), sans photos of “Japanese Only” signs.  You can download the report in its entirety (including signs) as a Word file from:

http://www.debito.org/SMJCERDreport2010.doc

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”.  Arudou Debito in Calgary

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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

Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)
February 2010
Compiled and published by: Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)

Edited by: Ralph Hosoki (assisted by Nobuyuki Sato and Masataka Okamoto)

Address: Tomisaka Christian Center 2-203, 2-17-41 Koishikawa, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN 112-0002         Phone: (+81)(0)3-5802-6033; Fax: (+81)(0)3-5802-6034; E-mail: fmwj@jca.apc.org

TABLE OF CONTENTS

FOREWORD

Ralph Hosoki 1

NOTES ON TERMINOLOGY.. 2

CHAPTER 1

Introduction: Migrants, Migrant Workers, Refugees and Japan’s Immigration Policy

Kaoru Koyama and Masataka Okamoto. 3

CHAPTER 2

Race and Nationality-based Entrance Refusals at Private and Quasi-Public Establishments

Debito Arudou. 7

CHAPTER 3

Anti-Korean and Chinese Remarks Made by Public Officials

Nobuyuki Sato. 10

CHAPTER 4

Nationality Acquisition and Name Changes: The Denial of Han and Korean Ethnic Surnames through Limitations in Kanji Characters Designated for Personal Names

Masataka Okamoto. 12

CHAPTER 5

The Education of the Children of Migrants and Ethnic Minorities

Yasuko Morooka. 15

CHAPTER 6

Discriminatory Administrative Government Procedures in Residence Status Application Approval Procedures and Employment

Satoru Furuya and Kaoru Koyama. 20

CHAPTER 7

Migrant Women in Japan: Victims of Multiple Forms of Discrimination and Violence and the Government’s Lack of Concern

Leny Tolentino. 25

CHAPTER 8

Racial Discrimination within the Refugee Recognition System

Kenji Iwata. 30

CREDITS.. 34

FOREWORD

Ralph HOSOKI

(Division of International Human Rights, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

This NGO report has been compiled by the Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ), and contains chapters prepared by various SMJ member organizations for the reference of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in its consideration of the third to sixth periodic reports submitted by the Japanese government in accordance with Article 9 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD/C/JPN/3-6).

Evolving from the Forum on Asian Immigrant Workers established in 1987, SMJ was established in April 1997 with the aim to promote communication and common action among organizations throughout Japan working to provide assistance and relief and striving to protect, promote, and realize the human rights of migrants, migrant workers, refugees, and their families in Japan.  Since then, SMJ has grown into a nationwide network of 87 NGOs, civil society organizations, labor unions, religious organizations, professional associations, and women’s rights organizations, with an individual member base of 337 (2008 figures).

Domestically, SMJ has organized annual conferences and symposia on migrant and migrant worker rights, published books and monthly newsletters that have been widely used and consulted throughout domestic civil society circles, organized empowerment events and activities for migrants and non-Japanese national residents, engaged in annual negotiations with government ministries involved in drafting policies that affect migrants and their families, and networked with politicians and bureaucrats from various political parties and ministries.  SMJ also recognizes that concerns surrounding migrant rights are also rooted within a broader international context, and has collaborated with regional and international migrant rights organizations and networks to bring awareness of migrant rights issues in Japan to the fore.

The report’s contributors, while being active members of the migrant rights advocacy community in Japan, are also migrants, academics, researchers, lawyers, civil servants, and lobbyists who are authoritative experts in not only the various social, economic, political, cultural, and legal challenges that ethnic minorities and non-Japanese nationals, residents, and workers face in Japan, but also on the intersections of these complex issues and the interactions between the government, Japanese civil society, and migrants/ethnic minorities themselves.  Each chapter addresses specific issues that non-Japanese nationals, ethnic minorities of foreign origins, migrants, and refugees face in Japan, and highlights the current state of affairs, the main challenges and problems, and various NGO policy recommendations.

Please direct any inquiries or requests for additional information to the following contacts.

1)    Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan Secretariat (office):

Address: Tomisaka Christian Center 2-203, 2-17-41 Koishikawa, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN 112-0002; Phone: (+81)(0)3-5802-6033; Fax: (+81)(0)3-5802-6034; E-mail: fmwj@jca.apc.org

2)    Report editors:

Ralph Hosoki: ittonen@hotmail.com

Nobuyuki Sato: raik@abox5.so-net.ne.jp

Masataka Okamoto: okamoto@fukuoka-pu.ac.jp

NOTES ON TERMINOLOGY

To provide nuanced disambiguation and to avoid the exclusionary overtones of the terms “foreign” and “foreigner,” various (and sometimes overlapping) terms have been used throughout this report.

When referring to government documents or statistics, policy-related pronouns, and direct quotes, terms such as “foreigner” or “foreign resident” are used because they reflect the terminology used in official translations.

However, unless otherwise stated:

Migrants” and “migrant workers” are used to refer to old and newcomer[1] residents of non-Japanese nationalities and/or minority ethnic backgrounds, with the latter emphasizing the engagement in remunerative activities – both de facto and de jure – and including short-term or temporary workers of non-Japanese nationalities who are commonly referred to in government documents as “foreign workers.”

The following two terms are used in contexts where one’s nationality is emphasized.  “Non-Japanese national” refers to anyone who does not possess Japanese nationality, regardless of the individual’s length of stay in Japan.  In contrast, the term “non-Japanese national residents” refers to non-Japanese nationals who have set roots or grounds for basic livelihood in Japan.

Additionally, with regard to non-Japanese national ethnic Koreans in Japan, “Korean residents” refers to both old and newcomer individuals of Korean ethnic background.  However, “Resident Koreans” refers specifically to oldcomers and their descendants.  Ethnic Koreans with Japanese nationality residing in Japan are referred to as “Korean Japanese.”

CHAPTER 1

Introduction:

Migrants, Migrant Workers, Refugees and Japan’s Immigration Policy

Kaoru KOYAMA

(Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

Masataka OKAMOTO

(Vice Secretary-General, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

Introduction

As of the end of 2008, the number of registered non-Japanese national residents in Japan totaled 2,217,000 (1.7% of Japan’s total population) – a 30% (531,000) increase from 1,686,444 in 2000, right before the Japanese government’s previous CERD review in March 2001 (see table below).  There are also an additional 110,000 “overstayers” and other undocumented residents.

In tandem with this trend, 121,000 non-Japanese national residents acquired Japanese nationality between 2001 and 2008 (76,500 Korean residents and 35,500 Chinese residents; the total number of Korean and Chinese resident naturalizations between 1952 and 2008 were 320,000 and 88,000, respectively).  Additionally, between 1985 and 2006, the percentage of marriages between Japanese and non-Japanese nationals increased from 0.93% to 6.1%, and with the birth of 225,000 children born between parents through international marriages in the 10 years between 1999 and 2008, there has been a rapid increase in ethnic minorities with Japanese nationality.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s May 2008 estimates, there were 925,000 (2006 figure) migrant workers working in Japan.  Since the 1980s, the number of migrant workers has increased, and with the 1990 revision to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, it became possible for non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent from South America and the families of returnees from China[2] to migrate to Japan.  However, despite these realities, the government has pushed through with its stance of not recruiting “low-skilled” migrant workers, and has not attempted to implement policies to protect the rights of migrants and migrant workers.

Registered Non-Japanese National Residents in Japan (end of 2008 figures)

Total China Korea Brazil Philippines Peru U.S.A. Thailand Vietnam Indonesia Others
2,217,426

100%

655,377

29.6%

589,239

26.6%

312,582

14.1%

210,617

9.5%

59,723

2.7%

52,683

2.4%

42,609

1.9%

41,136

1.9%

27,250

1.2%

226,210

10.2%

Increase in the Number of Refugees, Migrant Workers, and Their Families

  1. 1. Indochinese Refugees and Convention Refugees

Due to shifts in political regimes and civil war within Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, an exodus of two million Indochinese refugees flowed into the neighboring countries.  Initially, the Japanese government took a stance of only allowing the temporary entry of refugees and not settlement.  However, this was criticized by the G7 countries among others, so in 1978, the government announced that it would allow the settlement of Indochinese refugees.  Despite this concession, the designated number of refugees allowed to settle was small (the designated number was 500 refugees in 1979, and this was subsequently expanded to 10,000) while refugee recognition was strict, and many refugees eventually moved on to the U.S. and Canada, thinking that no matter how hard they tried, ethnic and racial discrimination would foreclose their success in Japan.  Due to such reasons, as of the end of 2005, Japan had only accepted 11,319 Indochinese refugees for settlement (of which 76% were Vietnamese).

Additionally, in adherence to its obligations stemming from the ratification of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the Japanese government implemented the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act in 1982.  However, the government has been passive in its recognition of Convention refugees, and between 1982 and the end of 2008, only 508 of the 7,297 individuals who applied for refugee status have been recognized as refugees (see table below).

Numbers of Refugee Status Recognition Applicants and Recognized Persons in Japan (2001–2008)

Year 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Applicants 353 250 336 426 384 954 816 1,599
Recognized Persons 26 14 10 15 46 34 41 57

These Indochinese refugees and Convention refugees have encountered various forms of ethnic and racial discrimination within Japanese society, and their children have had to cope with identity conflicts and crises (i.e. cultural and linguistic gaps between parents who can only speak their native tongues and children who can only speak Japanese).  However, ethnic and racial discrimination against refugees rarely surface because given their status as refugees, it is difficult for them to raise a unified critical voice against Japanese society.

  1. 2. Migrant Workers and Their Families

As stated in paragraph 17 of its report[3] to the Committee, the Japanese government maintains its stance that “the acceptance of foreign workers in professional and technical fields should be more actively promoted,” and that “with respect to the matter of accepting workers for so-called unskilled labor,” there are some “concerns.”  This stance remains unchanged, even in the Basic Policy on Employment that the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare established in February 2008.

However, in tandem with the upturn of the Japanese economy in the late 1980s, labor “inflow pressures” surged from neighboring countries, while “recruitment pressures” for migrant workers strengthened as small and medium sized domestic companies – many of which were labeled as 3D (Dirty, Dangerous, and Demanding) companies – were having difficulty securing Japanese workers.  As a result, the number of migrant workers entering Japan increased.  Various structural changes within Japanese society – increasing wage disparities between Japan and neighboring Asian countries, an aging domestic society, the decline in the population of youth, shifts in work values, etc. – paints the backdrop for these changes.  However, because the government strictly held on to its aforementioned stance, many migrant workers could not secure working visas, and by entering Japan on short-term visas (e.g. tourist visas) to work, many continued to reside in Japan even after their visas expired and became “illegal foreign workers” and “overstay foreigners.”  Some of these individuals have come to live and settle in Japan and many have married and have children who attend Japanese elementary and secondary schools.

In response to these circumstances, in 1989, the Japanese government revised the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act[4] and implemented the following measures:

(a)   The establishment of new regulations to punish employers who hire non-Japanese nationals that do not possess residence statuses that permit work (up to 3 years of imprisonment and up to 2 million yen in fines; approximately $20,000 USD) in aim to strengthen measures to prevent the entry of unauthorized workers;

(b)  The provision of permission for entry to non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent (as well as their descendants and those individuals who have previously renounced their Japanese nationality) by issuing “long-term resident” residence statuses that have no restrictions on type of work – skilled or unskilled – so that they can be utilized as labor; and

(c)   The establishment of the “industrial trainee and technical intern system” that mixes training with employment, so that trainees and technical interns can be utilized as labor.  It is important to note that as trainees are not workers and are therefore not protected under the Labor Standards Law, many cases have been reported where they have been forced into de facto slave labor.

As a result of these policy changes, between 1990 and 2008, the number or “Nikkeijin” (i.e. non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent) – mostly from Brazil and Peru – increased from 71,000 to 370,000, and individuals with “training” and “designated activities” residence statuses, including “trainees” and “technical interns,” increased from 3,000 to 121,000.  These individuals became the de facto “unskilled foreign workers” in Japan.  During the same period, the total number of migrant workers increased from 260,000 to 900,000, and came to compose 1.4% of Japan’s total working population of 66,500,000.

With regard to “overstay foreigners,” the number peaked in 1993 at 296,000, and since then has declined to 113,000 by 2009.  The following measures underlie this trend:

(a)    With the 1998 revision to the Immigration Control Act, the Japanese government newly established the “illegal (over)stay crime,” which made staying in Japan upon illegal entry/landing and/or overstaying, a crime that is subject to punishment.  Furthermore, for those deported, the landing denial period (for re-entry) was extended from one year to five years (effective as of February 2002).

(b)    In its 2004 “Action Plan for the Realization of a Society Resistant to Crime” the government set a goal to halve the number of “illegal foreigners” within 5 years.  Additionally, in order to reach this goal, the government revised the Immigration Control Act by (1) steeply increasing fines for “illegal entry” (from 300,000 yen to 3,000,000 yen, or $3,000 USD to $30,000 USD); (2) extending the landing denial period for individuals with a history of deportation to 10 years; (3) establishing the “Departure Order System” where the landing denial period for qualifying individuals[5] would be shortened to one year; and 4) establishing the “Residence Status Revocation System.”[6]

(c)    Under the name of terrorism prevention, in 2008, the government revised the Immigration Control Act and established obligatory measures for non-Japanese nationals entering Japan to provide biometric personally-identifying information (i.e. fingerprints and face images).  Additional measures were also made for the deportation of non-Japanese national terrorists and the establishment of obligations for captains of in-bound aircraft and maritime vessels to report passenger and crewmember registries to immigration inspectors in advance.

Furthermore, to supplement these measures, a “foreigner crime” campaign that utilizes select (and convenient) data to “prove” the “increase in heinous crimes by foreigners” has been carried out by the National Police Agency.

Through the combination of these government measures to tighten control over non-Japanese national residents and the campaigns carried out by the National Police Agency, a push has been made for schemes attempting to encourage ordinary Japanese citizens into assuming “monitoring roles” to weed out “illegal” non-Japanese national residents from local communities.  In contrast, nowhere can measures and attempts to “prevent racial discrimination” be glimpsed from these extant policies.

Various Problems and Challenges that Migrants and Migrant Workers Face

In Japan, there is a substantial number of people who hold discriminatory sentiments and feelings of superiority towards other Asian people.  In the 19th century, when most countries in the Asia region were colonized by Western powers, Japan, following the semantical scheme of “leaving Asia and entering the West” after the Meiji Restoration, joined the ranks of Western countries.  Through the colonization of Taiwan and the Korean Peninsula, and entry into the League of Nations as a member state, a sense of superiority for having developed into a military superpower that invaded China and Southeast Asia emerged.  After World War II, another sense of superiority – one premised on the “industriousness” of the Japanese people that catapulted Japan into an economic superpower – formed the foundation for a mentality that viewed “the weak, poor, and backward Asia” as an object of scorn.

In March 2003, the Ministry of Justice announced the “Third Basic Plan for Immigration Control,” but even in this, there is no change in the government’s basic stance regarding the national interest-based recruitment of and increased control over non-Japanese nationals in Japan.

Furthermore, due to the global recession that swept throughout the world after fall of 2008, there has been a sudden increase in the number of unemployed.  Many of those who lost their jobs were “contingent workers” – or temporary employees with one-year employment contracts and dispatched workers who worked for small manufacturing contractors.  Already, by 2008, one in three (non-executive-level) employees was a contingent worker.  The fact that they only earned roughly the same amount as what one would receive on livelihood assistance made it impossible for them to engage in savings, and their livelihoods took a nosedive once they lost their jobs.  Many migrant workers worked as “contingent workers” even before the economic crisis, and given the government’s restrictions on the eligibility of non-Japanese nationals for social insurance and livelihood assistance, their lives were hit especially hard by unemployment.
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CHAPTER 2

Race and Nationality-based Entrance Refusals at

Private and Quasi-Public Establishments

Debito ARUDOU

(Chair, NGO Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (FRANCA))

Introduction

Despite the recommendation to the Japanese government by the CERD in 2001 (CERD/C/304/Add.114, C.10) stating, “it is necessary to adopt specific legislation to outlaw racial discrimination, in particular legislation in conformity with the provisions of articles 4 and 5 of the Convention,” eight years later the Japanese Civil or Criminal Code still has no law specifically outlawing Racial Discrimination (hereinafter RD).

Repercussions of the Absence of an Anti-RD Law

Sign up at a public bathhouse in Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan; 1998-2001 (from the below-mentioned Otaru Onsens Case) Standardized signs around Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo; 2008 to present day
Sign up at a women’s boutique on Aoyama Douri (Street), Minato-ku, Tokyo; 2005 to present day Standardized signs around Hamanasu Douri, Monbetsu, Hokkaido; saying in Russian, “Store Only For Japanese”; 1999 to present day

A lack of an Anti-RD law enables clear and present discriminatory practices in Japan, including refusals at businesses and establishments open to the general public.  Many places, including stores, restaurants, hotels, family public bathhouses, bars, discos, an eyeglass outlet, a ballet school, an internet café, a billiards hall, a women’s boutique, and a newspaper subscription service, have signs out front explicitly saying “Japanese Only,” or using a milder exclusionary equivalent clarifying that people who are not Japanese nationals, do not look “Japanese,” or do not speak Japanese, are barred from entry and service.[7] For example:

Although pressure from mostly civil society groups has resulted in some of the exclusionary signs being removed, many are still extant.  More recently, in the case of hotels: Local government agencies[8] and internet booking companies[9] are even promoting establishments that explicitly “refuse foreign customers,” or expressly deny bookings to people who “cannot speak Japanese” etc. – even though this practice is unlawful under the Hotel Management Law (ryokan gyouhou) in the Civil Code governing public accommodations.

Regarding redress for RD, in March 2001 the Japanese government replied to the CERD report (CERD A/56/18 (2001)) that the “Japanese judicial system is […] functioning sufficiently at present” (Paragraph 20.2), therefore a formalized Anti-RD law is unnecessary.  However, judicial precedent does not support this claim.  The Otaru Onsens Case[10], where several non-Japanese customers (including Japanese nationals who “looked foreign”) were refused entry to public bathhouses displaying “Japanese Only” signs, demonstrated that both the current legal situation in Japan was powerless to outlaw this practice, and that Japanese authorities were unable or unwilling to mediate effectively to stop this form of RD.  The Otaru City Government was taken to court under the ICERD in 2001, but the case was summarily denied review by the Japanese Supreme Court (April 7, 2005) for “lacking any Constitutional issues,” refusing to consider the validity of the ICERD.  Sapporo District and High Court decisions (November 11, 2002 and September 16, 2004, respectively) also ruled that RD was not the illegal activity in question in this case, therefore the ICERD is immaterial.  They also ruled that forcing the Otaru City Government to pass any local ordinance against RD would be a “violation of the separation of powers.”  A separate civil lawsuit[11] in Daito City, Osaka, where an African-American was denied entry in 2004 to an eyeglass store explicitly because the manager “dislikes black people,” found the Osaka District Court ruling against the African-American plaintiff (January 30, 2006).  Court cases take years, cost victims money, do not result in criminal penalties enforceable by police agencies, may result in civil court rulings that expressly ignore the ICERD, and otherwise absolve the government of any responsibility of systematically eliminating RD on a national level.

Although some local governments have taken measures to deal with discrimination in housing and rentals, legislation connected with RD has resulted in failure.  The first local government (Tottori Prefecture, 2005) to pass a local ordinance that explicitly criminalized and punished behavior tantamount to RD, found itself in the rare situation of repealing the ordinance in 2006[12], due to a public and media panic that too much power was being consolidated in human rights enforcement organs.  A similar bill guaranteeing human rights (the jinken yougo houan), first proposed at the national level in 2002, was shelved in 2003 and again in 2006 due in part to alarmist counterarguments and publications[13] that giving human rights to non-Japanese would enable them to abuse their power over Japanese people.

Conclusion

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.

CHAPTER 3

Anti-Korean and Chinese Remarks Made by Public Officials

Nobuyuki SATO

(Research Action Institute for the Koreans in Japan (RAIK))

Introduction

In the previous concluding observations adopted by the Committee (paragraph 13), the Committee addressed the “Sangokujin remark”[14] made in April 2000 by Tokyo Metropolitan Governor Shintaro Ishihara as being racially discriminatory, and expressed its concern over “the lack of administrative or legal action taken by the authorities.”  However, Governor Ishihara has repeatedly made discriminatory remarks in May 2001, August 2003, and September 2006.

The “Sangokujin” Remark

On April 9, 2000, Governor Ishihara conducted a speech before members of the Japan Self-Defense Force:

“Looking at the present Tokyo, many Sangokujin and foreigners who have illegally entered the country have repeated very heinous crimes. […] Under such circumstances, if an extremely catastrophic disaster were to occur, we cannot discount the possibility that a huge, huge rioting incident could occur. […] This is precisely why, when dispatched in such times, I would like all of you [Self-Defense Force personnel] to consider the maintenance of public security to be one of your important purposes in addition to the provision of emergency help.”[15]

Governor Ishihara has specifically stressed “crimes committed by foreigners” (which only compose a very small proportion of the total crimes committed in Japan), and by intentionally using the “Sangokujin” term – which was formerly used to discriminate against and drive out Resident Koreans and Taiwanese residents who were liberated from Japanese colonial rule in 1945 – and creating the false threat that “we cannot discount the possibility that a huge, huge rioting incident could occur,” he has tried to arouse prejudice and animosity among Japanese against non-Japanese nationals so that the dispatch of Self-Defense Force personnel for public security maintenance purposes could be realized.

Furthermore, Governor Ishihara’s statement, “We need to break [China] up.  No matter how small the contribution, Japan should assist in this process and should also take initiatives both before and after the break up,”[16] violates Article 7.  However, Tokyo residents reelected him in 2003.

Remarks on “Chinese DNA”

In a Japanese newspaper (Sankei Shimbun) article titled “A Message to Japan: The Necessity of Internal Defense” dated May 8, 2001, Governor Ishihara groundlessly asserted that “[e]very year, there are about 10,000 illegal entrants, and Chinese compose 40% of these numbers.  Because they are illegal entrants, they cannot land regular jobs and are inevitable criminal factors.”  Additionally, after raising the example of a brutal murder case between Chinese nationals involving the scalping of facial skin, he wrote the following:

“We cannot deny the possibility that the quality of Japanese society as a whole might change as a result of the proliferation of crimes that indicate such ethnic DNA.  To avoid turning a blind eye to future trouble, we have no choice but to do what we can do now to expel such impending threats.”

This statement spread prejudiced sentiments that associated Chinese ethnic DNA (Governor Ishihara implicitly meant the Han people) to the execution of savage crimes.

Two years later, in an August 4, 2003 Sankei Shimbun (newspaper) article, Governor Ishihara wrote:

“The extremely pragmatic DNA of Chinese, who do not trust any sort of politics whatsoever, takes the improvement of one’s own economic situation as an absolute purpose, and while bearing in mind the [economic] disparities [between China and Japan], invades Japan in large numbers, and openly commits theft to satisfy one’s own desires.”

This is an attitude meant to thoroughly demean individuals of a specific ethnicity/nationality.

In January 2006, a report on Japan written by the UN Commission on Human Rights-appointed Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance Doudou Diène was released.  The following quote was made in paragraph 62 of the report:

“Most worryingly, elected public officials make xenophobic and racial statements against foreigners in total impunity, and affected groups cannot denounce such statements.”

However, by stating, “The Special Rapporteur doesn’t understand the governor’s real meaning in the whole context of his statement,” the Japanese government responded that his remarks were not discriminatory.[17]

Conclusion

These statements may act to instill groundless fears about “the rampant spread of crime by Asian foreigners” throughout the Japanese public and may also incite discriminatory stereotypes against particular ethnic minority groups in Japan.  As such, by not attempting to take any corrective actions against Governor Ishihara’s remarks, the Japanese government has not fulfilled its State Party obligation to uphold ICERD Article 4(c).

CHAPTER 4

Nationality Acquisition and Name Changes:

The Denial of Han and Korean Ethnic Surnames through Limitations in Kanji Characters Designated for Personal Names

Masataka OKAMOTO

(Vice Secretary-General, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

Background

In the concluding observations adopted on March 20, 2001 (CERD/C/58/Misc.17/Rev.3), CERD stated:

“Noting that although there are no longer any administrative or legal requirements for Koreans applying for Japanese nationality to change their names to a Japanese name, the Committee expresses its concern that authorities reportedly continue to urge applicants to make such changes and that Koreans feel obliged to do so for fear of discrimination.”

In the Upper House Judicial Affairs Committee that immediately followed this statement, when asked to remark on the concerns and recommendations of CERD’s concluding observations, Minister of Justice Masahiko Koumura replied:

“If the authorities have continued to demand applicants to change their names, this would be something outrageous, and since 1983, we have decided that such requests should not and will not be made, so if those types of cases actually do exist, we would like to take the appropriate measures.”[18]

Unfortunately, “those types of cases” abound.

Cases

Even in 2003, a case was reported by a Resident Korean from the Kanto area, that when he went to the Legal Affairs Bureau and received an “Information on Naturalization Application Procedures” leaflet and attended the briefing session, in response to his question, “Am I not allowed to continue using my current name after I naturalize?” the counseling staff replied, “Since you will become a Japanese, it is necessary that you change your name to one that is Japanese.”[19]

The Ministry of Justice itself has also revealed in different forms that with regard to post-naturalization “names,” instead of “instructing” the applicants, it has given “advice” and has also urged them to “consider” the implications of which type of name they choose to have.  During the 1991 Upper House Judicial Affairs Committee, the Director-General of the Civil Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Justice Atsushi Shimizu stated, “Considering that it is acceptable for individuals to decide that they would like to retain and pass on last names such as ‘朴’ [Pak] and ‘金’ [Kim] for the next two or three generations, we have made it a point to advise applicants to carefully decide whether they would like to have such names after naturalization.”[20] Under the auspices of such government stances, the “instructing” and “coaxing” of Japanese name acquisition has occurred in practice.  For example, a woman from Cambodia who acquired Japanese nationality in late 1990 testified that when she applied for naturalization, the office representative insistently encouraged her to acquire a Japanese-like name like “Suzuki” for the “benefit of her children.”[21] Very recently, on January 7, 2010, a Thai woman who went to the Chiba Legal Affairs Office to apply for Japanese nationality was also told by the office representative that “Japanese names are more convenient,” so “[n]ext time, come back with a Japanese name in mind for when you acquire Japanese nationality.”[22]

In tandem with the aforementioned incidents, even in 2005, an administrative scrivener accounted that, through his experiences handling naturalization applications, among applicants who decide on Japanese names as their naturalized names, many actually “prefer to apply with their Korean ethnic names,” but many Korean residents think that “the Legal Affairs Bureau and the Ministry of Justice implicitly demand the use of Japanese names,” and if they do not use such Japanese names when they apply, “they would be at a disadvantage in the naturalization application process.”[23] A guidebook published by a different administrative scrivener in the same year also states that for “post-naturalization names,” one must choose a “Japanese-like name” (i.e. a name that is “appropriately” Japanese).  This is the reality of the issue in Japan.

Even the Ministry of Justice’s most recent (2009) “Guidebook for Naturalization Procedures” uses language that persuades name changes by stating that “one may freely choose […] what name he/she would like to use after naturalization,” and in addition to this, limitations are placed by stating, “In principle, names for use after naturalization cannot contain characters other than hiragana and katakana letters and those characters listed in the National List of Chinese Characters in Common Use and the List of Kanji Officially for Use in Names.”  Because characters such as “崔” (Cuī/Choi), “姜” (Jiāng/Kang), “趙” (Zhào/Cho), and “尹” (Yǐn/Yoon) that are frequently used in Korean and Han ethnic surnames are not even listed in these two lists, there are still many ethnic Korean and Han applicants who have no choice but to renounce their ethnic surnames.

In a magazine interview, a third generation Chinese man in Japan who applied for naturalization in 1997 was asked, “Were you forced to take a Japanese name?”  In response, the man replied “no,” but said, “I was told that my name after naturalization must include characters in the List of Kanji Officially for Use in Names, and my surname character was not in the list.”[24] A former Chinese national who acquired Japanese nationality in 1998-99 claimed, “I really like the name that my parents gave me, so it was painful to have to change it to get naturalized.  I wish I could have retained my name, even after becoming a Japanese national.”[25] If we consider the fact that the majority of applicants for naturalization are Korean and Chinese/Taiwanese nationals, it is likely that since 1983, a substantial number of people were forced to renounce their ethnic names, due to the limitations imposed by the List of Kanji Officially for Use in Names.

Given the fact that the aforementioned characters for common ethnic Korean and Han surnames are commonly used on the computer and are also entered into the system during “foreign resident registration” procedures, there is nothing logical about not allowing their use in names for the family register in Japan.

Conclusion

In its 2004 General Recommendation 30, CERD recommended that State Parties should “[t]ake the necessary measures to prevent practices that deny non-citizens their cultural identity, such as legal or de facto requirements that non-citizens change their name in order to obtain citizenship, and to take measures to enable non-citizens to preserve and develop their culture” (paragraph 37).

Therefore, the Japanese government should first eliminate the limitations imposed by the List of Kanji Officially for Use in Names, and allow ethnic Korean and Han applicants to retain their original Chinese character surnames when acquiring Japanese nationality.  The “Guidebook for Naturalization Procedures” should also refrain from using language that persuades applicants to change their names when naturalizing.  Additionally, on the application form, there should not be a column for “name after naturalization.”  Even under the current law, Japanese nationals wishing to change their names are required by Article 107 of the Family Registration Law to file a request to a family court.  Nationality acquisition and name changes are intrinsically unrelated issues.

CHAPTER 5

The Education of the Children of Migrants and Ethnic Minorities

Yasuko MOROOKA

(Japanese Network for the Institutionalization of Schools for

Non-Japanese Nationals and Ethnic Minorities)

Education of Non-Japanese National Children

1. Despite the recommendation made in paragraph 7 of the Committee’s previous concluding observations, the central government has not conducted a nationwide survey on non-Japanese national and/or ethnic minority children.  According to the various surveys carried out by the local governments,[26] 60% of the children of migrants and migrant workers such as Nikkei-Brazilians, Nikkei-Peruvians, and Filipinos among others (mostly with non-Japanese nationalities) are reported to be attending Japanese public schools, while 20% attend schools for non-Japanese national children (gaikokujin gakkou), and the remaining 20% are estimated not to be attending school at all.  On the other hand, among the children of the 600,000 non-Japanese national Korean residents, 80 to 90% are reported to be attending Japanese schools and the rest attend schools for non-Japanese national or ethnic minority children, such as North Korean and South Korean schools.  The majority of the children of the 500,000 Korean Japanese (i.e. Japanese national ethnic Koreans) are reported to be attending Japanese schools.

2. Regardless of the statement made in paragraph 15 of the Committee’s previous concluding observations, non-Japanese national children living in Japan are still excluded from the compulsory education system, and in violation of Article 5(e)(v) of the Convention, the right to education is not equally ensured at the same level as that of Japanese children.  In its “Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Combined Periodic Report,”[27] the Japanese government announced that “Japanese public schools at the compulsory education level guarantee foreign nationals the opportunity to receive education if they wish to attend such [a] school by accepting them without charge, just as they do with Japanese school children” (paragraph 24), but this simply means that “permission” will be given if the non-Japanese national “wishes” to enroll.  However, the school/administration does not have the legal obligation to accept such students, and for non-Japanese nationals, education is not “secured” as a legal “right.”  This is the actual situation regarding the government’s contention.[28] For example, the annual “Survey on Children of School Age Who Do Not Attend School” carried out by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), clearly states that “foreigners are excluded from the survey.”

The extent to which information is adequately disseminated – including translation of information into the non-Japanese nationals’ languages – for those “wishing” to enter Japanese schools varies among local governments.

As for the percentage of students continuing on to higher education, according to the 2001 survey conducted by the Council for Cities of Non-Japanese Residents (where many Brazilians and non-Japanese nationals live), the average of the 14 local government areas in which non-Japanese national children were enrolled in Japanese schools was 51.6%.  Though there is no data on student enrollment rates into Japanese high schools from schools for non-Japanese national or ethnic minority children, since there are almost no considerations in the high school entrance examination system that cater to the needs of students whose first language is not Japanese, it is clear that such enrollments are extremely difficult.  Consequently, the percentage of children of migrants and migrant workers who go on to high school is estimated to be below 30%.  This figure is less than one-third of 97% high school enrollment rate of Japanese nationals in 2008.

3. In paragraph 24 of the government’s report[29], the government states:

“Furthermore, when these foreign children enter school, maximum attention is given to ensure that they can receive, without undue difficulty, the education in Japanese normally taught to Japanese children.  Toward this end, they are provided with, among other things, guidance in learning Japanese and are supported by their regular teachers as well as by others who can speak their native language.”

However, this contradicts reality.  Even according to the survey conducted by MEXT, as of September 2008, there were 28,500 students enrolled in Japanese elementary, junior high, and high schools that needed Japanese language instruction, and this number has continued to increase annually.  Compared to the previous year, there was an increase of 12.5%.  Furthermore, due to the fact that measures to accommodate Japanese language instruction are not taken unless there are 5 or more students who need such instruction, 15.1% of these students are not receiving any Japanese language instruction.  Besides, in the aforementioned MEXT-commissioned survey on children of school age who do not attend school, 12.6% of the children not attending school answered that they did not attend because they “did not understand Japanese.”  It is evident from this that there is not enough Japanese language instruction.[30]

4. In response to the Committee’s recommendation to “ensure access to education in minority languages in public Japanese schools” in paragraph 16 of its previous concluding observations, the government claimed that “a school subject called sogo-gakushu (general learning) […] allows […] children of foreign nationalities [to] receive education in their native tongues (minority languages) and learn about their native cultures”[31] (paragraph 24).  However, the government has not established any specific education policies for minority children, and within MEXT’s curriculum guidelines for this “general learning” subject, there is neither any mention of minority language and culture education nor any financial support for such classroom activities.  As the choice over the content of the “general learning” subject/class period is left to the discretion of each school, the government’s claim simply means that this class period could, in theory, be used for minority language and culture education.

The public schools that do provide minority language and culture classes are those that have been established in specific areas in Osaka prefecture and Kyoto City with “ethnic classrooms.”  Because these classes are not recognized as accredited classes by the central government’s educational curriculum policy, they are taught as once-a-week extracurricular classes that include Korean language and culture education.  However, the salaries of the lecturers/instructors of these “ethnic classrooms” are paid fully by the local municipalities, and compared to regular full-time teachers, their pay is very low.  In addition to these schools, there are only a few schools that offer mother tongue language education in “special support” classes for Chinese and Brazilian children.

Over 80% of the children of Korean residents who attend Japanese schools use Japanese names instead of their real names,[32] and are placed in situations in which they have no other option but to conceal their own identities.  From this, it is obvious how deficient the current education system is in terms of the provision of a curriculum that not only respects the identities of minority children, but enables them to hold pride in their ancestral roots.

Schools for Non-Japanese National and Ethnic Minority Children

1. Today, there are about 200 schools for non-Japanese national and ethnic minority children that offer general education in languages other than Japanese.  These include 100 national and international schools such as North Korean, South Korean, and Chinese schools that were established before the war or during the early years after the war.  Brazilian, Peruvian, and Filipino schools that were established as the numbers of migrant workers and migrants started to rapidly increase in the 1990s number about 100 as well.[33]

2. According to the School Education Act, for a school to become recognized as an accredited school, it must implement the designated subjects set forth in the curriculum guidelines created by MEXT (for the purpose of educating Japanese nationals), and must use MEXT-approved Japanese textbooks.  Due to this, it is impossible to adequately teach languages other than Japanese and English in regular classes.  Therefore, such schools are not recognized as accredited schools.  Even if a student were to graduate from one of these schools, his/her graduation credential would not be recognized as an accredited one.  As a result, such students encounter various disadvantages when they try to enroll in Japanese schools or take national examinations.

3. In 2003, the college entrance qualification system was revised.  With this, for (1) individuals graduating from twelve-year curriculum schools for non-Japanese national children (e.g. international schools) that have been accredited by international evaluation associations (WASC, ACSI, and ECIS); and (2) individuals graduating from schools for non-Japanese national children (South Korean, Chinese, Brazilian schools, etc.) that have been recognized by the Japanese government as schools that carry out curriculums that are equivalent to high school curriculums in each respective country, eligibility to take the entrance examinations and apply for Japanese universities and technical/vocational schools was granted.  However, graduates of North Korean schools were not included, and because their eligibility is either dependent on the individual decisions of each university or conditional on passing the Senior High School Graduate Equivalence Qualifying Examination, they experience disadvantages.

4. Most schools established before the 1990s for non-Japanese national and ethnic minority children, such as North and South Korean schools and Chinese schools, have been recognized as “miscellaneous category schools” (kakushu gakkou).  But these schools are not “official” or “accredited” ordinary schools under the Japanese Educational School System whose aim is to provide general or regular education, and are therefore, educational institutions that are institutionally treated no differently from vocational driving or cooking schools.  Because they are not “officially accredited” schools, the central government has provided no subsidies for these schools for non-Japanese national children.  Instead, it is only from the subsidies provided by certain portions of the local municipalities’ budgets that these schools are funded.  However, these subsidies from local municipalities only amount to one-tenth to several fractions of the funding received by Japanese private schools.  Due to the absence of state subsidies, these schools are supported by tuition fees paid by the parents, donations from co-ethnics, and subsidies from local municipalities.

As for donations made to schools, “official” or “accredited” general schools can unconditionally receive special tax breaks, but “miscellaneous category schools” are in principle, ineligible.  On March 31, 2003, MEXT approved tax exemption measures for donations that were specific to a portion of European/American “miscellaneous category schools” with English curriculums.  In response to this, concrete recommendations for the equal treatment of North Korean and Chinese schools were made to the Japanese government by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) in March 2007 and by the UN Human Rights Committee in October 2008.[34]

5. Among the Brazilian and Peruvian schools that have increased after 1995, only 5 schools have been approved as “miscellaneous category schools” and the majority are only treated as mere “private preparatory schools.”  Due to this, (1) there are no subsidies from local municipalities, (2) consumption tax is placed on tuition, (3) students are ineligible for discounted student commuter passes, (4) students cannot participate in inter-school sports events and activities, etc.  Such schools experience great difficulties in operating the school itself.

Above all, because the schools’ running costs are almost completely secured by tuition fees paid by the parents, monthly tuition fees are inevitably expensive and range from 30,000 to 50,000 yen (approximately $300 to $500 USD).  Furthermore, in addition to tuition, the parents must also pay for textbooks, school lunch fees, school bus passes and/or non-discounted adult-rate commuter passes, etc.

Strict requirements, such as the private possession of school grounds and buildings, are enforced by local municipalities for the approval of “miscellaneous category schools.”  It is very difficult for newly established Brazilian and Peruvian schools to pass such criteria.

Most of the parents of students who attend these schools are contingent/dispatch workers, and have been hit extremely hard by the Lehman Shock of September 2008.  For example, in half a year, approximately 60% of Brazilian migrant workers lost their jobs, and as a result, in one year, 16 Brazilian schools closed down because parents were no longer able to pay the expensive tuition and had to withdraw approximately half of the students from school.  Half of the students who withdrew from school returned to Brazil, but 22% still remain completely out of school in Japan.

Recommendations

1. The government should confirm that it has an international legal obligation to ensure the right to education regardless of residence status and nationality.

2. The government should establish an education policy to secure the right to education for non-Japanese national and ethnic minority children in Japan.  The content of the policy should first and foremost, respect the children’s identities and ensure the right to learn minority languages and cultures; and secondly, it should ensure the right to learn Japanese if a child’s first language is not Japanese.  Additionally, in order to establish a concrete education policy, the voices of non-Japanese national and ethnic minority residents themselves should be directly sought, and a detailed nationwide survey should be carried out on the realities of language development, rates of non-attendance, acceptance rates into top tier schools, costs of educational fees, economic situations of the parents, etc., and disaggregated by nationality, ethnicity, sex, and age.

3. In order to ensure the right to education for non-Japanese national and ethnic minority children, and in particular, the right to learn one’s language and culture, the government should allow these children to actually exercise choice between Japanese schools and schools for non-Japanese national and ethnic minority children by recognizing these schools as a type of “officially accredited” ordinary school (and not as “miscellaneous category schools”) and allowing the recognition of these schools’ graduation credentials as ones that are equivalent to those of Japanese schools while providing these schools with at least the same amount of government funding that Japanese private schools receive.  Additionally, until such fundamental policy reforms are established, the government should immediately amend the unfair policies extant within the current “miscellaneous category schools” framework with regard to tax exemption measures on donations and the differential recognition of college entrance eligibility between different schools for non-Japanese national and ethnic minority children.  Finally, the government should take immediate actions to bail out schools that are not even recognized as “miscellaneous category schools,” and in particular, Brazilian and Peruvian schools that are at risk of closing down.

CHAPTER 6

Discriminatory Administrative Government Procedures in

Residence Status Application Approval Procedures and Employment

Satoru FURUYA

(Rights of Immigrants Network in Kansai (RINK))

Kaoru KOYAMA

(Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

  1. 1. The Requirement to Present Proof of a Clean Criminal Record for Residence Status Approval: The Additional “Good Behavior and Conduct” Criterion for Third Generation Non-Japanese Nationals of Japanese Descent and Their Families

Introduction

In November 2005, there was an incident where a Japanese girl was murdered in Hiroshima.  One week later, a Peruvian man – who had a “long-term resident” residence status (i.e. visa) as a third generation non-Japanese national of Japanese descent – was arrested.  On March 29, 2006, as a measure to both deal with this incident and maintain general public security, the Ministry of Justice added a “good behavior and conduct” requirement – a requirement stating that one must prove not to have a criminal record for the approval of “long-term resident” residence statuses.

In other words, instead of taking measures to mitigate racial prejudices that could have resulted from the media’s excessive reports on crimes committed by non-Japanese nationals, the Ministry of Justice – which should be protecting human rights – did the opposite by enforcing a measure that was predicated on the linkage of crime to non-Japanese nationals with certain attributes.  As a result of this, members of minority groups became targets of racial discrimination, and stereotypes against them were widely spread throughout Japanese society.

Therefore, this measure violates Articles 2(1(a)) and 4(c) of the ICERD.  Additionally, in lawsuits related to this, the defendant (the Japanese government) has argued that this new requirement does not violate the ICERD, and a district court verdict has supported this claim.

Background

With the 1989 revision to the Immigration Control Act, non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent and their families were issued “long-term resident” residence statuses that allowed one to engage in remunerative activities.  To second generation non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent, there was the “spouse or child of a Japanese national” residence status, and for the spouses of second generation non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent and third generation non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent and their spouses and/or unmarried minor children, there was the “long-term resident” residence status.  According to statistics on the number of “registered foreigners” in Japan, in 2008, there were 258,000 individuals with “long-term resident” residence statuses of which 137,000 were Brazilian and 19,000 were Peruvian.

On the other hand, with regard to public security policy, a trend toward “penal populism” has recently become salient in Japan, and non-Japanese national residents have been the first to be targeted.  Discourse claiming that crimes have increased in number and level of atrocity thereby leading to the critical deterioration of public security throughout society at large, has circulated among the media, police, and Diet, and took a turn for the worse, creating a dangerous situation which peaked in 2003 but continued to exist as several murder incidents were extensively broadcasted in 2005.  The aforementioned incident in Hiroshima where a non-Japanese national was said to have “murdered a Japanese girl for sexual motivations” was one of those extensively broadcasted incidents.

Under these circumstances, by stating that (1) due to this incident, there is “heightened anxiety among the Japanese people,” and (2) there are many foreigners[35] with “long-term resident” residence statuses who have been arrested for criminal offenses,[36] the Ministry of Justice announced the amendment to the “Official Gazette Regarding ‘Long-term Residents’” that will be discussed in this chapter.  Subsequently, this amendment and the reasons behind it were picked up and broadcasted by the media.

The Content of the “Official Gazette” Amendment

The amendment to the Ministry of Justice’s “official gazette” (announced in March 2006) regarding “long-term residents” contains the following criteria:

(a)   “Good behavior and conduct” was added as an additional criterion for qualifying as a “long-term resident.”  In concrete terms, possession of a criminal record of imprisonment (with or without hard labor) and/or pecuniary offenses (i.e. fines; but excluding fines from violations of the Road Traffic Law) within or outside of Japan reflects negatively on one’s application.  Probation under the Juvenile Law and having a record of “repeated violations of the law throughout one’s everyday life” are also evaluated negatively.

(b)  To verify “good behavior and conduct,” when applying for landing permission or residence status, applicants are asked to present background records issued by the police in their respective home countries.

(c)   This new “good behavior and conduct” criterion is applied to third generation non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent and their families, mainly from South America.  In other words, of all the non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent and their families, second generation non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent and their spouses are exempt.  From the differential treatment here, it is obvious that there is a standard of judgment with racist motivations borne from distrust and public security anxieties toward individuals that are “less akin” to Japanese nationals.  Additionally, among those who qualify as “long-term resident” applicants, the “Japanese war orphans left behind in China” and Indochinese refugees were exempt from this new criterion due to policy considerations.

Possession of a criminal record is a criterion that forecloses the possibility of residence status approval in general, and can also be used as a reason for deportation (under the Immigration Control Act).  For such instances, being sentenced to “a year or more” of imprisonment or a crime involving drugs become reasons for adverse disposition for disapproval of residence status.  In contrast to this, in the case of this amendment to the “official gazette” regarding “long-term residents,” all criminal punishments as well as minor punishments and juvenile probation become reasons for rejection.  Although the presentation of background records issued by the police of the applicant’s home country is not required in regular screenings for residence status approval, the amended “official gazette” demands the presentation of such documentation for the aforementioned “long-term resident” applicants, and therefore, even background activities that fall short of criminal record offenses[37] are also available for consideration and could work against the applicants.

The Discriminatory Effects and Cultivation of Stereotypes Caused by the “Official Gazette” Amendment

All of the following cases occurred after the amendment to the “official gazette” was made, and involve “long-term resident” residence status extension applications that were rejected because the applicant had been punished for a prior offense.

(a)   Third generation male Peruvian national of Japanese descent, A, caused a traffic accident, and in a 2002 summary court ruling, was charged with professional negligence resulting in bodily injury and was fined on a summary order.  The following year, his residence status extension was approved, and the next year, his license was approved.  However, after the “official gazette” amendment, in August 2006 his residence status extension was rejected on the grounds of the aforementioned offense.  Furthermore, A’s wife, who was also living in Japan with a “long-term resident” residence status also had her extension application rejected.

(b)  A male Bolivian national, B, who is married to a third generation Bolivian woman of Japanese descent, caused a traffic accident, and his residence status extension application was rejected on the grounds that he was charged with a pecuniary offense for professional negligence resulting in bodily injury.[38]

There are also cases in which the possession of a spouse or minor child has been considered, ultimately resulting in the approval of residence status extension applications despite the fact that one has a prior criminal record.  However, in the two aforementioned cases, such considerations were not adequately made.[39]

(c)   In October 2002, a third generation male Peruvian national of Japanese descent, C, dumped a refrigerator in an empty lot, and in January 2003, was fined 200,000 yen (approximately $2,000 USD) on a summary order by the summary court for “a violation of the Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law.”  In August 2003, his residence status extension was approved.  However, in August 2006, after the “official gazette” amendment, his extension was rejected on the grounds of the same pecuniary offense, and since his “period of preparation to leave Japan” ended in October of the same year, he has remained in Japan without legal documentation.

In August 2007, C brought charges claiming the invalidity of his residence status extension rejection, but lost the case in the district court.  He is currently residing in Japan without legal documentation, and no remedies have been sought.

In court, the plaintiff claimed that the “official gazette” amendment not only “poses a significantly grave discriminatory effect on the entire Nikkeijin [non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent] population as a group that has been categorized on the basis of race and other attributes,” but also embodies the racial discrimination stipulated in ICERD Article 1(1) while violating Articles 2(1(a)) and 4(c).

Additionally, this “official gazette” amendment has promoted the entrenchment of media-instigated stereotypes that link non-Japanese nationals to crime.  Wide-scale coverage and explanations that linked the amendment to the murder incident in Hiroshima and other crime statistics were made by the Minster of Justice in a press conference the day before the “official gazette” was amended, as well as on the Ministry of Justice Immigration Bureau’s homepage (since April 2006), the official announcement in the aforementioned Immigration Control Report (footnote 1), and the media.

Conclusion

Therefore, this measure violates ICERD Articles 2(1(a)) and 4(c).

  1. 2. Employer Obligations to Report the Employment Status of “Foreign Workers” and the Use of “Ordinary Powers of Attention” to Ascertain Who is a “Foreign National”

The Problem

With the recent revision of the Employment Measures Act, since October 2007, the government made it mandatory for employers when hiring non-Japanese nationals to confirm and notify the head of the local public employment security office of their names, residence statuses, and lengths of stay.  A punishment of up to 300,000 yen (approximately $3,000 USD) for violating employers was also established.

When hiring, employers are required to ascertain whether a job applicant is a “foreign national” by means of using one’s “ordinary powers of attention” to make judgments based on the applicant’s “name or native language.”[40]

As mentioned in Chapter 1 of this report (p.3), there has been a rapid increase in Japanese nationals who have ethnic roots in other parts of the world.  To require employers to judge applicants by their names is predicated on the assumption that Japanese nationals all have Japanese-like names, but this assumption contradicts the Ministry of Justice’s claim that it does not demand that non-Japanese nationals change their names upon naturalization (for more details, see Chapter 4).  In reality, there are also many Japanese nationals whose native language is not Japanese.

Instead of providing employers with a means for differentiation between Japanese nationals and non-Japanese nationals, this new guideline poses the risk of facilitating segregation as well as arbitrary judgment and discrimination on the basis of race, skin color, and ethnic/tribal origins.

Conclusion

Therefore, this measure violates ICERD Articles 2(1) and 4(c).

CHAPTER 7

Migrant Women in Japan: Victims of Multiple Forms of Discrimination and Violence and the Government’s Lack of Concern

Leny TOLENTINO

(KALAKASAN Migrant Women Empowerment Center)

Introduction

Japan has continuously needed migrant women for its sex industry, shortage of wives for its male nationals, and replacement unskilled labor for its service and manufacturing industries.  In response to these needs, migrant women – mostly from Asia and Latin America – have come or have been brought to Japan on tourist, entertainer, spouse or relative of a Japanese national (Nikkeijin), and trainee visas since the 1980s.

However, even after nearly three decades, many migrant women are still treated as the “other” and excluded from Japanese society and its social safety nets.  Widespread discriminatory attitudes and prejudices on the basis of appearance, speech, customs, and cultures, as well as feelings of indifference toward migrant women among government officials and the populace continue to exist and are also codified in extant policies and legislation.  Many migrant women survive with minimal protection under the law, have limited access to basic information and opportunities for training, empowerment, and development, and are also almost completely deprived of opportunities to participate in decision-making processes.  Most vulnerable are those migrant women who are victims of DV and/or trafficking.

Multiple Forms of Discrimination and Disadvantages That Migrant Women Face

  1. 1. In Trafficking

(a)   Recent Developments in Policy

The government adopted the Comprehensive Action Plan of Measures to Combat Trafficking in Persons (2004), which was followed by amendments to the penal code (2005) and the Immigration Standard Ministerial Ordinance (2006) – regarding the cut down of “entertainer” visa issuances – and an amendment to the Entertainment Business Law (2005).

Yet, in response to stricter regulations, trafficking operations have simply become more invisible, coercive, and controlling, and there has been a tangential increase in migrant women who are lured to come to Japan with non-entertainer visa statuses – such as tourist, trainee, and marriage visas – and are later forced to go into prostitution by their husbands or brokers.  In some instances, if they enter into fake marriages, they are forced to pay both the broker and the husband for 2 to 3 years, or as long as the fake marriage lasts.  A typical case in point would be a Filipino woman who wanted to end her marriage with her abusive Japanese husband.  He had assured her legal stay in Japan as his wife for a monthly fee of 50,000 yen (approximately $500 USD) but refused her divorce request because she had not finished paying the 3 million yen ($30,000 USD) she had agreed to pay him.[41]

2.  In Domestic Violence

(a)   Examples of DV in International Marriages

International marriages in Japan have been increasing since the 1980s,[42] and domestic violence remains a major problem for non-Japanese women in such marriages where they are six times more likely to be abused than Japanese women (Table 1).  DV often originates from their partners’ prejudices against migrant women and from their low regard for people from developing countries.  Aside from life endangering physical and sexual abuse, threats and derogatory judgmental insults inflict psychological damage and lower self-esteem and confidence.  Threats like, “You cannot live in Japan without me,” “I will not extend your visa,” and “This is Japan, and custody over the child will always be mine [husband] – if you leave, I will report it to the immigration authorities and they will not believe what you say,” are examples of such derogatory treatment that have been reported to KALAKASAN over the past 7 years.  Their lives are sometimes circumscribed by their spouses’ intent to force them to “become Japanese” by being over-critical of the way they rear and discipline their children, and by prohibiting them from speaking their own language inside the house and associating with co-ethnics.

Table 1. Percentage of DV Victims per 100,000 People[43]

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Non-Japanese women 28.9 33.8 36.0 34.8 35.4
Japanese women 6.2 6.5 6.3 6.5 6.4

(b)  Current Policy Limitations

There is a dire need for gender- and multiculturalism-sensitive training programs for government staff and interpreters at all levels of the government to assume responsibility for supporting migrant women victims so that victimization is not repeated.

In 2007, 8.95% of women in protective custody at women’s counseling centers were non-Japanese women.[44] Though the DV Law guarantees protection to all women victims, undocumented migrant women and their children are minimally protected, and are only eligible to stay in a shelter for two weeks, and are excluded from long-term support and particularly access to livelihood assistance and other support services.  At the same time, it takes months or years before undocumented DV victims and their children are granted residence permits in Japan.  Relegated to an even lower social existence are undocumented migrant women without children or those who have children who are in the custody of the abusive partner.  Such women are frequently forced to go back to their country of origin.  For such reasons, a significant number of undocumented migrant women and children choose to bear abuses, or if they are already in a shelter, to return to their violent partners or become homeless.[45] Many of these women do not have understandable and accessible information about support services and details about their legal and human rights.  It is therefore paramount that the government effectively disseminates such information in a systematic and culturally sensitive way.

3.  Migrant Single Mother Families

(a)   Lack of Support and Information Services

Every year, the number of migrant single mother families is increasing as international marriage divorce rates increase.  In 2007, 7.15% of all divorces in Japan were international marriage divorces.[46] Migrant single mother families face many difficulties and are marginalized due to the government’s lack of interest to provide them with adequate protection.  Migrant single mothers have often experienced discrimination and abuse or abandonment from their partners and/or in-laws, and report such experiences as the main reasons for the divorce or separation.[47]

4.  Discriminatory Policy and Unfair Court Procedures

(a)   Repercussions of the Revised Immigration Control Act (July 2009) on the Livelihoods of Migrant Women

The fact that visa extensions for migrant women often depend on the will and discretion of their Japanese husbands and whether or not the woman has Japanese children, makes their legal standing and livelihood stability in Japan very precarious and vulnerable to the whims of their spouses and the government.  Unfortunately, the government passed an amendment to the Immigration Control Act in July 2009, specifying that migrant women must report any changes to their livelihood situations like changes in address and workplace.  Individuals who fail to do this within 14 days are subject to a fine, and failure to do anything for 3 months could result in visa cancellation.  This revision could escalate fear among migrant women – especially those who are married to or living with an abusive Japanese partner – and would allow Japanese husbands to take advantage of their vulnerabilities thereby putting them in more risk of being abused, while making it more difficult for DV victims to seek rescue and protection.

(b)  Indifference Among Government and Court Officials

A migrant woman who escaped from the abuse and maltreatment of her husband and in-laws who is presently undergoing court procedures for the custody of her child and divorce, was denied a visa extension even with a note from her lawyer stating that she was in the middle of settling a divorce case.  When she verbally appealed to the immigration officer, she was called a liar.  It was not until her lawyer accompanied her that she was considered.[48] From this example, we can see that the court also uses the unstable visa statuses of migrant women as bases for giving custody of the child to the Japanese spouse, thereby denying the woman of the same right to custody, simply because she is “non-Japanese.”  There are many other migrant women who experience similar situations.

(c)   Lack of Means to Claim Rights and Obtain Public Assistance

Furthermore, under the revised immigration law, undocumented residents can no longer claim any public services and assistance through the local municipality offices in the areas in which they live.  Before a local municipal office assumes the responsibilities of accepting a registrant’s child into a local school, extending public assistance to migrant women, etc., it requires one to prove his/her residence in the area.  Proving and registering one’s residence is possible if one obtains a Resident Card from the immigration authorities, but these cards are only issued to “legal” migrants.  The exclusion from local municipal registration therefore means the denial of rights and exclusion from public assistance.  Many undocumented migrants are women who are former wives of Japanese nationals, and are pregnant with or live with children who were born between them and their Japanese partners but have not received official recognition from the father, due to the father’s failure or refusal to do so.  It is these people who are put at risk the most by the revised law.

NGO Recommendations: Summary of Overarching Problems, How They Violate ICERD, and How They are Relevant to the Committee’s List of Issues

Though migrant DV victims, trafficked victims, and single mothers each experience distinct hardships and require policy improvements that are tailored to eradicate the relevant forms of discrimination and disadvantages that they face, five common sources for these problems exist:

  1. The lack of a comprehensive policy that protects the social, economic, cultural, and human rights of migrants, and in particular, migrant women

In violation of Article 2, and in cross-reference to paragraphs 2, 6, 9, and 14 in the Committee’s List of Issues:

l  Currently, within the Basic Law for a Gender-equal Society (which is the national gender equality policy), there is no clause that refers to the considerations that must be made to ensure gender equality for migrant women.  We recommend that within the current deliberations over the Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality, there should be an independent clause that addresses measures to be taken to ensure gender equality for migrant and minority women in Japan so that they can possess peace of mind, freedom, and dignity in employment, livelihood, and social participation without being subject to violence, discrimination, and prejudice.  In addition to measures to eradicate DV and trafficking, specific measures for the protection, empowerment, and relief of DV and trafficked victims should be clearly stated in this clause.  Additionally, the government should guarantee permission for NGOs and civil society groups to participate in these deliberations and processes.

  1. Existence of discriminatory policies or policies that disadvantage migrant women in practice

In violation of Articles 2 and 5, and in cross-reference to paragraphs 6, 7, 9, and 14 in the Committee’s List of Issues:

l  The revised Immigration Control Act newly states that status of residence can be revoked for “[f]ailing to continue to engage in activities as a spouse while residing in Japan for more than 6 months,” and for “[f]ailing to register the place of residence within 90 days after newly entering or leaving a former place of residence in Japan.”[49] Such obligations endanger the safety and legal standings of DV victims and their children who intend to flee or have fled from abusive spouses to live separately, and must therefore be eliminated.

l  Before the revision, non-Japanese national residents – regardless of the type or legality of their residence status – were entitled to receiving a local municipality-issued Alien Registration Card if they could provide proof of residence within that local municipality.  This entitled non-Japanese national residents to receive national health insurance and livelihood support services.  However, the new revision abolishes the Alien Registration Card, replacing it with the Residence Card issued and managed by the central government.  Changes in address and workplace must now be reported to local immigration control offices, and failure to do so could result in fines or the revocation of one’s residence status.  Residence Cards are issued to “proper foreign residents” at the discretion of the Minister of Justice, and therefore, undocumented residents and asylum seekers are ineligible.  To receive health and livelihood support in the new system, one must be registered in the newly created Basic Register for Foreign Residents, but registration for this basic registry is contingent on possessing a Residence Card.  In sum, the new revision works as a catch-22 to exclude the most vulnerable migrants – undocumented (women) migrants (many of whom are DV and trafficked victims) – from social services, and must be reevaluated and immediately revised.

  1. Indifference and discriminatory attitudes among public officials (e.g. at immigration control offices, police offices, courts, etc.)

In violation of Articles 2, 4, 6, and 7, and in cross-reference to paragraph 20 in the Committee’s List of Issues:

l  Given the multiple reoccurrences of insensitive, discriminatory, and disadvantageous comments, actions, and attitudes of public officials, sensitivity training on human rights, diversity, and multiculturalism should be more strictly implemented.

  1. Lack of government efforts to establish services to assist, educate, empower, and protect migrant women and their families

In violation of Articles 2 and 5, and in cross-reference to paragraphs 15 and 22 in the Committee’s List of Issues:

l  Although some social and medical services exist for migrant and minority women as well as DV and trafficked victims, they are inadequate (e.g. understaffed and lacking in personnel who possess the necessary professional, linguistic, and cultural knowledge to adequately assist migrant women).  Furthermore, information on support services and the rights that migrant women are entitled to are not adequately disseminated and often do not reach migrant women.  Even if they do, many forms of information are either not detailed enough, or are presented in Japanese.  These inadequacies must be addressed.

  1. Limited government collection and disclosure of crucial statistics concerning migrant women

In violation of Article 7, and in cross-reference to paragraphs 12 and 13 in the Committee’s List of Issues:

l  The government neither collects nor discloses adequate vital statistics that are necessary for the government and the public to assess the current situation of the wellbeing of migrant women in Japan.  For example, the government collects statistics on non-Japanese nationals and residents, but not on individuals who have naturalized (i.e. ethnic minorities with Japanese nationality).  It is possible that such individuals also encounter disadvantages and discrimination, but as of now, there is no systematic way to find out if they do.  In order to develop a more comprehensive and sensitive plan or policy for the protection, integration, and empowerment of migrant women, the Gender Equality Bureau should conduct an in-depth study on the situation and causes of difficulties migrant women face, based on more detailed disaggregated data and in consultation with migrant women support groups.


CHAPTER 8

Racial Discrimination within the Refugee Recognition System

Kenji IWATA

(Rights of Immigrants Network in Kansai (RINK))

Introduction

The Japanese government’s long-standing reluctance to give protection to asylum seekers has been criticized domestically and internationally.[50] The “refugee recognition system” is at best, only ostensibly racism-neutral, and in violation of Articles 2(1(a)) and 5(a), it suffers from unfairness caused by systematic racism that stems from the discriminatory dispositions of the decision makers involved.  More specifically, the government lacks in its efforts to:

  1. adequately disseminate information regarding the refugee recognition process;
  2. provide adequate language assistance during the application and appeals processes;
  3. provide adequate human rights training to its staff; and
  4. implement effective measures to monitor racially discriminatory biases within the system so that the individual racial prejudices of immigration officials and government appointed actors in the refugee recognition process will not be systematically reflected in the outcomes of such procedures.

In addition to paragraphs 2, 3, 6, 7, and 22, and in specific relation to paragraphs 10[51], 15, and 20 in the Committee’s List of Issues (CERD/C/JPN/Q/3-6), we would like to bring to the Committee’s attention, several defining examples of the aforementioned violations to the Convention.

Specific Cases of Procedural Malpractices and Negligence

Case 1 (July 7, 2009):

In 2009, a refugee examination counselor[52] reviewed the testimonies of a Tamil asylum seeker who claimed that he had fled Sri Lanka after his house was shot by suspected LTTE members.  In response to this, and to the surprise of the asylum seeker and his lawyer, the counselor concluded that the attack to the asylum seeker’s house did not constitute a direct threat to his life.  It is disconcerting that the counselor was an honorary professor of a prestigious university in Osaka, Japan, and although many wonder why he was selected as a refugee examination counselor, there is no way to find out because the government does not disclose information on the selection criteria for examination counselors.

Case 2 (November 20, 2006):

The following statement made in 2009 by another Tamil asylum seeker from Baticaloa, Sri Lanka, was documented by an immigration official, but even a cursory glance through the statement reveals blatant contradictions and inconsistencies resulting from communication difficulties between the official and the asylum seeker and the official’s indifference to the asylum seeker’s claims:

“I intended to flee [Sri Lanka] and go to Canada, where my elder brother stayed for asylum because the hostilities between the military and the LTTE have been exacerbated. […] I did not flee the country because I was targeted due to my political opinion, ethnicity, food practices, or religion, and I am not a Convention refugee.  I would like to go back to Sri Lanka without applying for refugee status here.”[53]

The asylum seeker is still having great difficulties communicating in English, and it is likely that in the interview, the asylum seeker could only randomly juxtapose the limited English vocabulary that he had.  In the conversation between the asylum seeker and the official, it is highly unlikely that there was any interaction in English about the applicability of the Convention’s definition for refugees to his case.  This is apparent in the blatant contradictions in the testimonial of this asylum seeker who claimed that he spent a great sum of money to go to Canada for asylum, only to instantly confess that he was not a refugee, abandon his attempt to claim refugee status, and return to the battlefields of Baticaloa.  Of course, the official did not and will not confess his indifference or any underlying racist sentiments he may have had.  Additionally, during the interview, it is unlikely that he used any racist language.  However, his apparent negligence of his duty to accurately communicate with a potential refugee in a language that is well understood by the asylum seeker, and his complete indifference to the highly apparent and inconsistent content of the interview illuminates the racist tendencies he may have had.

Case 3 (May 16, 2006):

Another Sri Lankan man, who could not speak Japanese, was surprised to find out that his interview record stated that he had said in Japanese, that he had overstayed in Japan to earn the necessary money to pay back his debts.  The interview records prepared in advance by the immigration officials as a part of the deportation procedures often serve as convenient excuses for denying the credibility of the claims of asylum seekers.  For example, immigration officials will claim that the asylum seeker initially did not report that he/she was a refugee, and that only later was a claim made for fear of persecution in the home country.

These kinds of procedural malpractices have never been questioned by the refugee counselors.  Regrettably, some refugee counselors also harbor similar racist sentiments, prejudices, and preconceptions – as demonstrated by the counselor in Case 1.  Prejudiced assumptions that asylum seekers are disguised economic migrants often override their ability to make fair judgments and pay serious attention to the provision of due process to the claims presented before them.

The Passive Stance of the Japanese Government

Although the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees requests signatory states, including Japan, to provide protection to refugees and asylum seekers, the Japanese government has long neglected efforts to make the interview process comply with the due process requirements concerning adequate communication and the verification over whether the examiners’ decisions are made in the “spirit of justice and understanding” consistent with the UNHCR’s established guidelines.

The Japanese refugee recognition system is formalized by law.  But in reality, there are many informal and clandestine “traps” for making refugee status claims fail.  For example, the Ministry of Justice has yet to publish detailed information on the refugee recognition process on its website,[54] and the Immigration Bureau (which is part of the Ministry of Justice) has never spent a fraction of its billion yen budget to directly inform potential asylum seekers of the system to encourage them to voluntarily apply for refugee status.  Therefore, many asylum seekers only come to understand the recognition system only after having lived in Japan for many years.  This delay serves as another excuse for denying the seriousness of the asylum seekers’ applications.  As such, without the dissemination of such information, many asylum seekers are being subject to deportation procedures and are being misled into giving up their untold rights before they come to understand the system.  Additionally, their contradictory behavior and statements before immigration officials that arise from the lack of information or communication difficulties are conveniently used to defame and delegitimize their refugee claims.  In sum, the de facto “no information policy” embodies the “informality” of Japan’s refugee recognition system.

Disproportionate Recognitions as a Sign of Non-methodological Recognition Methods

The unreasonably disproportionate recognition of Burmese asylum seekers as refugees is also a reflection of the whimsical nature of Japan’s current refugee recognition process.  In 2008, 1,599 individuals applied for refugee status, of which 954 were Burmese nationals, accounting for 61% of the total.  However, in the same calendar year, 417 individuals were granted refugee status or visas on humanitarian grounds, and the overwhelming majority, or 382, were Burmese asylum seekers, accounting for 92% of all applicants recognized.[55] Of course, from these statistics alone, we cannot deduce whether immigration officials prefer Burmese asylum seekers over others, but with little doubt, we can see the systematic disregard that both the current refugee recognition and appeals process as well as the immigration officials and refugee examination counselors have of the methodologically established procedures that are stated in the UNHCR handbook on criteria for determining refugee status (HCR/IP/4/Eng/REV.1).[56] Given this disregard, the system risks lacking the impartiality of a fair recognition process that does not discriminate on the basis of race.

Conclusion and NGO Recommendations

In sum, in addition to being victims of racist prejudices held by individuals within the Japanese populace, non-Japanese nationals including refugees and asylum seekers in Japan are also vulnerable to systematic and structural racism that is embedded within various institutional and legal frameworks such as the refugee recognition and appeals system.  In addition to making the system more transparent by passing legislation that will allow the videotaping of all interviews during refugee recognition and deportation processes and providing the right for all stakeholders to retrospectively verify all procedures to determine their sincere compliance with the internationally established refugee review procedures, the Japanese government must also be held responsible for the provision of:

  1. language considerations that ensure accurate communication between asylum seekers and immigration officials;
  2. the dissemination of information regarding the refugee recognition and appeals process and one’s rights through posters, brochures, and websites;
  3. comprehensive human rights training programs for government staff/officials; and
  4. more stringent initiatives to monitor, detect, and rectify unlawful and racially discriminatory acts within detention facilities and review/court procedures.

CREDITS

Report contributors (member organizations):

FOREWORD

Ralph Hosoki

(Division of International Human Rights, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

CHAPTER 1

Kaoru Koyama

(Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

Masataka Okamoto

(Vice Secretary-General, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

CHAPTER 2

Debito Arudou

(Chair, NGO Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (FRANCA))

CHAPTER 3

Nobuyuki Sato

(Research Action Institute for the Koreans in Japan (RAIK))

CHAPTER 4

Masataka Okamoto

(Vice Secretary-General, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

CHAPTER 5

Yasuko Morooka

(Japanese Network for the Institutionalization of Schools for Non-Japanese Nationals and Ethnic Minorities)

CHAPTER 6

Satoru Furuya

(Rights of Immigrants Network in Kansai (RINK))

Kaoru Koyama

(Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

CHAPTER 7

Leny Tolentino

(KALAKASAN Migrant Women Empowerment Center)

CHAPTER 8

Kenji Iwata

(Rights of Immigrants Network in Kansai (RINK))

Editors:

Ralph Hosoki

(Division of International Human Rights, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

Nobuyuki Sato

(Research Action Institute for the Koreans in Japan (RAIK))

Masataka Okamoto

(Vice Secretary-General, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

Translator:

Ralph Hosoki

(Division of International Human Rights, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))


[1] “Oldcomer” refers mainly to the Koreans and Chinese (and their descendants) who came (in many cases by means of force) to Japan prior to the end of the war, and remained in Japan.  In contrast, “newcomer” refers to more recent non-Japanese nationals who have come to Japan and settled in and after the 1980s.

[2] “Returnees from China” refer to war-displaced people left behind in China by their Japanese relatives after World War II who returned to Japan in the 1980s.

[3] Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2008). Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Combined Periodic Report on the Implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Japan. Retrieved January 18, 2010, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website: http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/human/race_rep3.pdf

[4] The Act was passed in 1989 and came into effect on June 1, 1990.

[5] An “overstayer” qualifies if he/she voluntarily turns him/herself in to one of the immigration offices for deportation, and does not have prior records of deportation/use of the Departure Order System and/or imprisonment after entry into Japan.

[6] This new rule stipulates that one’s residence status may be revoked if the individual is found to have submitted false statements or documents and/or if the individual has not engaged in the activities corresponding to those of the residence status issued for three or more months without justifiable reason.

[7] Primary source materials archived at www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html

[8] For example, Fukushima Prefectural Tourist Information Association listed “No Foreigner” hotels on their official website; 2007-2010 (see http://www.tif.ne.jp/).

[9] Arudou, D. (2009). “Japanese Speakers Only” Kyoto Exclusionary Hotel Stands by its Rules. Retrieved November 10, 2009, from Debito.org website: www.debito.org/?p=4879

[10] Arudou, D. (2006). “Japanese Only”: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan. Tokyo: Akashi Shoten.

[11] The Japan Times. (2006, 2 7). Twisted Logic Deals Rights Blow to Foreigners. The Japan Times .

[12] The Japan Times. (2006, 5 2). How to Kill a Bill: Tottori’s Human Rights Ordinance is a Case Study in Alarmism. The Japan Times.

[13] For example: Jinken Yougo Houan wo Kangaeru Shimin no Kai (Citizens’ Group for Thinking about the Human Rights Protection Bill). (2006). Abunai! Jinken Yougo Houan: Semarikuru Senshinkokukei Zentai Shugi no Kyoufu (Danger! The Human Rights Protection Bill and the Impending Threat of the Totalitarianism of the Developed Countries). Tokyo: Tendensha.

[14] “Sangokujin” literally means “third-country nationals,” and is a term which came into use after the war and often connotes derogation and prejudice against individuals – such as Resident Koreans and Taiwanese residents and their descendants – from former Japanese colonies.

[15] Quote taken from an April 11, 2000 Mainichi Daily News article

[16] Bungeishunju. (2003). Shokun! Tokyo: Bungeishunju.

[17] Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations Office at Geneva. (2006). Comments on the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Mr. Doudou Diène. Retrieved January 20, 2010, from the IMADR website: http://www.imadr.org/en/pdf/Noteverbale.pdf

[18] In a “comment” made by the government in August 2001 in response to CERD’s recommendations, the government claimed, “[T]here is no fact in the claim that the authorities are urging individuals applying for Japanese nationality to change their names, but instead, the authorities are extensively informing applicants that they can freely determine their post-naturalization names.”

[19] Hangetsujou. (2003). Gendaiban no Soushi-kaimei (The Modern Soshi-kaimei Policy). Hangetsujou Tsuushin, 97.

[20] Ijichi, N. (1994). Zainichi Chosenjin no Namae (The Names of Resident Koreans in Japan). Tokyo: Akashi Shoten.; Also, the following source states in its section on “Names after Naturalization” that, “Newly established names from naturalization will be passed on to one’s descendants, and it is necessary for applicants to take serious consideration of this.” (Ministry of Justice Bureau of Ethnography Fifth Division Research Committee for Nationality Matters (Houmushou Minzokukyoku Dai Go Ka Kokuseki Jitsumu Kenkyuukai) (Ed.). (1990). Shintei Kokuseki/Kika no Jitsumu Soudan (New and Revised Edition: Nationality and Naturalization Consultations). Tokyo: Nihon Kajo Shuppan.)

[21] Yoon, C. (n.d.). Yi Chojya no Sawayaka Intabyuu: Pen Setarin San (Yi Chojya’s Fresh Interview with Penn Setharin). Niji no You Ni , 1.

[22] Input from Toako Matsushiro (member of hand-in-hand Chiba (Chiba Group for Holding Hands with Foreign Residents in Japan))

[23] Tazawa International Administrative Scrivener Office. (2005). Kikago no Shimei ni tsuite Omou Koto: Zainichi Korian no Katagata no Kika Shinsei wo Otetsudai Shiteite (Thoughts about “Name Changes after Naturalization”: Through Helping Resident Koreans with Their Naturalization Applications). Retrieved February 2005, from Tazawa International Administrative Scrivener Office website: http://www.tazawa-jp.com/office/kikago-shimei.htm

[24] Zheng, Y. (1998). Kikasha he no Intabyuu (1) “Zainichi Chuugokujin 3 Sei” (Interviews with Individuals Who have Naturalized (1) “A Third-generation Resident Chinese”). Retrieved December 2009, from Nihonseki Korian Mainoriti no Hiroba (Plaza for Japanese National Korean Minorities): http://www.geocities.jp/yonamugun/intabyu1.htm

[25] Asakawa, A. (2003). Zainichi Gaikokujin to Kika Seido (Resident Foreigerns in Japan and the Naturalization Process). Tokyo: Shinkan Sha.

[26] According to a 2007 MEXT-commissioned survey on non-Japanese national children conducted by 13 cities and 1 prefecture with high percentages of newcomer non-Japanese national residents, 61% of non-Japanese national children attended Japanese schools, 21% attended schools for non-Japanese national children, 1.1% did not attend school at all, and 17.5% were “unknown.”  It is estimated that a large portion of these “unknown” respondents are also not attending school.  However, according to this study, even Kani City in Gifu prefecture, which has taken the most progressive measures to leave no non-Japanese national child behind, had a non-attendance rate of 7% in 2006.

[27] Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2008). Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Combined Periodic Report on the Implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Japan. Retrieved January 18, 2010, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website: http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/human/race_rep3.pdf

[28] “With regard to the implementation of compulsory education for foreigners, no such imperative exists in the Constitution and Basic Education Law. […] As long as the individual is a foreigner, no obligation arises to send the child to elementary or junior high school.” (Suzuki, I. (Ed.). (2006). Chikujyou Gakkou Kyouiku Hou (Clause-by-Clause Review of the School Education Act). Tokyo: Gakuyo Shobo.)

[29] Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2008). Ibid.

[30] Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. (2007). Gaikokujin no Kodomo no Fushuugaku Jittai Chousa no Kekka ni Tsuite (On the Results of the Study on the Situation of Non-attendance Among Foreign Children). Retrieved January 10, 2010, from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology website: http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/shotou/clarinet/003/001/012.htm

[31] Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2008). Ibid.

[32] Kyoto City Foreigner Education Project and Kyoto City Education Board (Kyoutoshi Gaikokujin Kyouiku Purojekuto and Kyoutoshi Kyouiku Iinkai). (2008). Gaikokuseki oyobi Gaikoku ni Ruutsu wo Motsu Jidou Seito ni Kansuru Jittai Chousa no Matome (Summary of the Study on the Situation of Foreign National Students and Students with Foreign Roots). Retrieved September 19, 2008, from the Kyoto City website: http://www.city.kyoto.lg.jp/kyoiku/cmsfiles/contents/0000059/59348/zittait.pdf

[33] As of October 2007, there were 96 Brazilian schools, 5 Chinese/Taiwanese schools, 73 North Korean schools, 4 South Korean schools, 2 Peruvian schools, 2 German schools, 1 Indian school, 1 Indonesian school, 1 Turkish school, 1 Filipino school, 1 Amerasian school, 1 French school, and 24 international schools in Japan. (2007 Forum for Multiethnic Co-existence Education in Tokyo Executive Committee (Taminzoku Kyousei Kyouiku Foramu 2007 Toukyou Jikkou Iinkai). (2007). 2007 Forum for Multiethnic Co-existence Education in Tokyo Information Packet. 2007 Forum for Multiethnic Co-existence Education in Tokyo Executive Committee.)

[34] On March 24, 2007, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations submitted a recommendation to the Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology “concerning the human rights redress petition for discriminatory treatment regarding the application of designated donations to Chinese and North Korean schools.” (Japan Federation of Bar Associations. (2008). Kankokusho (Recommendation). Retrieved January 10, 2010, from the Japan Federation of Bar Associations website: http://www.nichibenren.or.jp/ja/opinion/hr_case/data/080324.pdf);

Additionally, in paragraph 31 of its concluding observations, the Human Rights Committee also issued a recommendation of the same nature to the Japanese government in October 2008. (United Nations Human Rights Committee. (2008). Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 40 of the Covenant: Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee (Japan). Retrieved January 10, 2010, from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/co/CCPR-C-JPN-CO.5.doc)

[35] Besides claiming that there are “many” who were arrested, no further analyses have been conducted.  Such comments only serve to create vague impressions and are misleading.

[36] From a press conference with the Minister of Justice (March 28, 2006), Internet official government announcements, the 2006 Immigration Control Report, etc.  However, the English version of the 2006 Immigration Control Report does not make reference to point (1). (Ministry of Justice. (2006, 3 28). Daijin Kakugigo Kisha Kaiken no Gaiyou (Summary of the Post-cabinet Meeting Minister News Conference). Retrieved November 24, 2009, from the Ministry of Justice website: http://www.moj.go.jp/kaiken/point/sp060328-01.html; Ministry of Justice Immigration Bureau. (2006). 2006 Immigration Control Report. Retrieved November 24, 2009, from the Ministry of Justice Immigration Bureau website: http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan54-3.pdf)

[37] This refers to crimes that have been recorded in police records, but not recorded in legal criminal records.

[38] The Yomiuri Shimbun (The Yomiuri Newspaper). (2007, 6 23). “Teijyuusha” Biza Koushin wo Keishou Jiko Riyuu ni Fukyoka: Nikkei Kazoku “Sabetsu” to Teiso/Toukyou Chisai (Minor Injury Accident as Reason for “Long-term Resident” Visa Extension Rejection: “Discrimination” Against a Nikkei Family and Lawsuit/Tokyo District Court). The Yomiuri Shimbun.

[39] However, in both cases, by claiming changes to their personal (or spousal) relationships to Japanese nationals or reapplying, both individuals were eventually able to obtain residence statuses.

[40] Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. (2008). For Foreign Nationals Wishing to Work in Japan (Nihon de Hatarakou to suru Gaikokujin no Minasama he). Retrieved January 3, 2010, from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare website: http://www.mhlw.go.jp/bunya/koyou/gaikokujin12/pdf/english.pdf

[41] From an informal sharing with a victim by a KALAKASAN staff member (2009)

[42] Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. (2009). Annual Number of Marriages by Nationality of Husband and Wife. Retrieved January 20, 2010, from the Portal Site of Official Statistics of Japan: http://www.e-stat.go.jp/SG1/estat/List.do?lid=000001057779

[43] Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. (2009). Population by Year and Sex. Retrieved January 21, 2010, from the Portal Site of Official Statistics of Japan: http://www.e-stat.go.jp/SG1/estat/List.do?lid=000001057781;

Ministry of Justice Immigration Bureau. (2004-2008). Number or Registered Foreigners. Retrieved January 21, 2010, from the Ministry of Justice Immigration Bureau website: http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/toukei/index.html

[44] Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. (2008). 2008 Government Information Session for the National Research Commitee for Counselors at Facilities for the Protection of Women. Retrieved January 20, 2010, from the Welfare and Medical Service Network System: http://www3.wam.go.jp/wamappl/bb16GS70.nsf/0/806448c690707b914925750500052b90/$FILE/20081117_2shiryou1.pdf

[45] Experiences from cases handled by KALAKASAN

[46] Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. (2009). Annual Number and Percentages of Divorces by Nationality of Husband and Wife. Retrieved January 20, 2010, from the Portal Site of Official Statistics of Japan:

http://www.e-stat.go.jp/SG1/estat/List.do?lid=000001057780

[47] Experiences from cases handled by KALAKASAN

[48] This is one of the cases that KALAKASAN started handling in 2009.

[49] Immigration Bureau of Japan. (2009). Changes to the Immigration Control Act. Retrieved January 10, 2010, from the Immigration Bureau website: http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact/pdf/leaflet_english.pdf

[50] Isozaki, Y. (2002). Questioning Japan’s “Closed Country” Policy on Refugees. Retrieved November 1, 2009, from the Iwanami Shoten website: http://www.iwanami.co.jp/jpworld/text/ClosedCountry01.html; Japan Federation of Bar Associations. (2002). Toward the Reform of the Refugee Recognition System. Retrieved November 1, 2009, from the Japan Federation of Bar Associations website: http://www.nichibenren.or.jp/en/activities/meetings/20021201.html

[51] No financial assistance is granted to persons with refugee status, although some refugee applicants receive under 100,000 yen (about $1,000 USD) per month for a limited period during their administrative refugee review process.

[52] Refugee examination counselors are third-party part-time public servants (on two year contracts) who serve as observers/advisors during appeals to refugee recognition denials. (also see: Ministry of Justice. (2006). Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act. Retrieved November 1, 2009, from the Ministry of Justice website: http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/information/icrr-20.html)

[53] Interview document disclosed by the Immigration Bureau in 2007

[54] Ministry of Justice. (n.d.). Ministry of Justice Home Page. Retrieved November 1, 2009, from the Ministry of Justice website: http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/

[55] Ministry of Justice Immigration Bureau. (2009). Press Release on the Number of Recognized Refugees in 2008. Retrieved November 1, 2009, from the Ministry of Justice website: http://www.moj.go.jp/PRESS/090130-1.html

[56] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (1992). Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. Retrieved November 1, 2009, from the UNHCR website: http://www.unhcr.org/publ/PUBL/3d58e13b4.pdf

ENDS

Day Care Center in Tokorozawa, Saitama teaches toddlers “Little Black Sambo”, complete with the epithets

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Forwarding.  Disgraceful.  Suggest those concerned send the day-care center my Japanese-language parody of the book where the shoe is on the other foot.  Arudou Debito in Calgary

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

From: Mark Thompson
Date: 2010/2/18
Subject: Teaching Children the Words of Hate in Tokorozawa, Japan

Dear Debito, I would like to bring the following matter to your attention.

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.

http://tinyurl.com/yz8ht6m

Although technically a private institution, the parents were originally instructed by the city of Tokorozawa that their child would have attend daycare there.

During the two years that the child has attended the daycare center, the parents had never once voiced a single concern about the operation of the daycare center until much to the their shock, the daycare center based a play / musical to be performed on Saturday, February 27th, 2010, on the book Little Black Sambo:

http://tinyurl.com/2xgvg8

This is the very same book that several Japanese publishing companies had stopped printing due to public outrage in 1988. When the book was reprinted by one rogue publisher in 2005, many residents of Japan–foreign and Japanese–signed a petition encouraging the publishing company to use a different title and illustrations for the book due to their offensive nature:

http://www.debito.org/chibikurosanbo.html

Unfortunately, now that the book Little Black Sambo has been republished and widely distributed in Japan, it is apparent that the book is now being taught at Japanese daycare centers and quite possibly preschools and elementary schools across the country as well. At least two additional volumes of the book have also been printed by the same rogue Japanese publishing company:

http://tinyurl.com/yd7krej

http://tinyurl.com/ybn33sx

In addition, another publishing company has also decided to get in on the action and has also decided to republish another version of Little Black Sambo:

http://tinyurl.com/ykqx3c7

It is important to note that the book Little Black Sambo was written by a white English woman during India’s colonial period, and at a time when slavery was still quite common. Although the use of the word “slavery” was in decline at the time in India, the population was routinely subjected to debt bondage by the British instead.

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”

In the original Japanese:

“ちびくろ・さんぼがサンボサンボ
顔もお手ても真っ黒け
ついでにおしりも真っ黒け”

Obviously, that kind of speech should never be taught to children by teachers at a daycare center. Those words are more akin to what might be taught by a white supremacist group.

Apparently, the book they daycare center is using even comes complete with demeaning picaninny images:

http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/picaninny/

Now every time the 3-year old biracial child sees a black person he starts using the racial slur and mentions their black skin. The parents now fear taking their own child out in public or overseas. As the child is of such a young age, it also is not effective for the parents to tell the child not to use those derogatory words outside of daycare, as the child will only use them more.

In an attempt to be as understanding of cultural differences, as it was possible that perhaps the daycare center teachers were just not aware of the problems with the book, the parents of the biracial child both wrote letters in Japanese explaining the history of the book, why the title was discriminatory, and mentioning that they thought that illustrations showing demeaning racial stereotypes were not appropriate for young children.

The parents even showed the teachers that the term “sambo” was offensive and derogatory, both in English and in Japanese:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sambo

http://eow.alc.co.jp/sambo/UTF-8/?ref=sa

Beside being used as a disparaging reference to black people, the English dictionary above makes it clear that the word is also used to refer to people of “mulatto ancestry,” in other words, the offspring of parents of different racial origin.

After doing a little research, the parents soon found that the term had been in use and deemed derogatory as far back as 1748, 150 years before the book Little Black Sambo was even written. In addition, the derogatory word “sambo” has been prohibited from being broadcasted on TV or radio in Japan (放送禁止用語), which was also explained to the daycare center.

This fact that the book contains offensive slurs shouldn’t even be considered news to anyone in Japan, when when Little Black Sambo was republished in Japan in 2005, the website of the Asahi News reported that the book was said to “discriminate against black people” and the article can still be found online:

http://book.asahi.com/news/TKY200504190160.html

In an attempt to help the daycare center out of a sticky situation, the parents of the biracial child even had the two following books sent by express mail and took them to the daycare center:

The Japanese translation of “Sam and the Tigers”:

http://tinyurl.com/yb4yfav

The Japanese translation of “The Story of Little Babaji”:

http://tinyurl.com/ylybsbw

Both books above are modern, politically-correct retellings of Little Black Sambo that would not cause offense.

However, the daycare center said that they were not only already aware of the politically correct versions of the book, but has also refused to use them.

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.

In addition, at a meeting with one of the parents of the biracial child, the daycare center said that although they could not make any promises, they would “try” to change the lyrics of the song. However, it seems that additional lyrics were never actually taught and the biracial child and others in the school continue to use the hate speech filled one.

It appears that nothing has been done at all and that the daycare center is just trying to avoid the problem. Despite the parents’ protests, the daycare center still continues to use the racial slur in the presence of their biracial child and encourages the child’s classmates to enjoy singing the song which clearly contains hate speech.

Despite the daycare center’s claims, the fact is that there is no good excuse for racial discrimination.

It is shocking that a daycare center of all places, located just 30 minutes by train from downtown Tokyo, where the population includes a fair number of black people and numerous African Embassies, is teaching hate speech to small children. Tokorozawa’s sister cities include Decatur, Illinois in the United States (which has a 20% African American population), Changzhou in the People’s Republic of China and Anyang, Gyeonggi in South Korea. In addition, Tokorozawa is also the home of Columbia International School (コロンビアインターナショナルスクール) and several international dormitories for the international students of Waseda University:

http://www.columbia-ca.co.jp/

http://tinyurl.com/yfque4b

As can be imagined, this has caused quite a lot of stress for the family with the biracial child. While understanding that this matter needs to be brought to the attention of the public, one of the parents of the biracial child has expressed concern for their family’s safety, and so wishes that the family not be further identified publicly.

Japanese society is based on shame and often slow to change. As a culture is appears that may Japanese people prefer to try to ignore problems and just hope they go away. Only by shaming organizations that discriminate and drawing the public’s attention to the problem of racial discrimination in Japan, will real change eventually come about.

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.

Midori Hoikuen (みどり保育園)

Tel: 04-2948-2613 (Monday to Saturday, 9 AM – 5 PM)
Fax: 04-2947-3924
E-mail: qqew85hd@world.ocn.ne.jp

Address:

Sayamagaoka 1-3003-52
Tokorozawa, Saitama 359-1161

〒359-1161埼玉県所沢市狭山ヶ丘1丁目3003-52

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:

EMAIL: a9126@city.tokorozawa.saitama.jp

Thank you very much for your time. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Mark Thompson (MarkThompson1970@gmail.com)

This message can be freely copied, distributed or published online. Please help raise awareness of racial discrimination.
ENDS

Tangent: Dentistry in Canada, wow, what a difference!

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  I didn’t do an update yesterday for a good reason — I was really quite overwhelmed in Edmonton.  Went to an excellent dentist on Tuesday, who saw a lot of work to be done and brought me back Wednesday and Thursday for three appointments of ultrasound and scaling (removal of buildup on teeth), one more appoint for x-rays (three, one that spins around your mouth) and some probing for cavities, one more for a periodontal check (I’m clear of it, but definitely have gingivitis), then two more appointments for replacement of fillings (four) and filling new cavities (five — one tooth was so bad in the back they had to remove about 60% of it above the gumline, since the decay had gone around an old filling and spread throughout underneath — I didn’t even have a toothache).  All manner of facial dams were constructed

and new types of novocaine, ones that don’t look like horse needles going in, were administered.  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 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 (so good I think I’d rather take my food intravenously for awhile).

But why is this a Debito.org issue?  Well, tangentially it is, since dentistry I consider to be a very lagging science in Japan (not ten years ago I had to search hard just to find a dentist in Sapporo who would wear gloves!  That’s something that sends tremors amongst my overseas dentists when I tell them).  Case in point:  Just look at the awful bridgework you see in old people around you (and full dentures are not at all uncommon — both my ex-parents in law had them).  Some of my students even today come to class with very inflamed sides of their mouth (some meat or seafood stuck in their teeth they just can’t dislodge with the ubiquitous toothpick), and when I recommend floss they say they’ve never even heard of it!

I’m told (and I can’t substantiate right now; Debito.org Readers, douzo) that in Japan’s medical exam system, people get licensed for particular practices depending on their scores.  The people on the bottom go into dentistry.  That rings true to me, anyway.  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 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?  Anyone know a good periodontist — if dentistry in Japan even specializes that far?  Floor is open to discussion.  Arudou Debito in Edmonton

Japan Times: Foreign press pulling out of Japan in favor of China

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

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

Stop the presses — foreign media pulling out of Japan
With China rising and revenues falling, priorities have changed
By MARIKO KATO, Staff writer
The Japan Times Friday, Jan. 22, 2010 (excerpt)

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100122f1.html

Major foreign media outlets are leaving Japan in droves, a sign of financial difficulties at home as the news industry struggles with falling advertising revenue. But observers note that Japan is also losing its appeal as the most newsworthy country in Asia, with China now the hot spot.

In the latest withdrawal from Japan, the news magazine Time closed its editorial branch in Tokyo earlier this month. Last year, Newsweek shut down its editorial section in Tokyo while the editorial staff of BusinessWeek merged with Bloomberg after the financial news service announced it would buy the magazine last October.

Among newspapers, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times have been reported to have drastically reduced their forces…

According to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, its foreign members numbered around 250 during the late 1980s and early 1990s when the booming economy provided both interesting news and an attractive home for overseas correspondents. The count was more than 300 if Japanese staff employed by foreign media companies were included.

However, the ranks have since been decreasing steadily, with only 144 foreign members registered as of March 2009.

Rest of the article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100122f1.html

ENDS

Kyodo: NJ “Trainees” win ¥17 million for trainee abuses by employer and “broker”

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Here’s some more good news.  After a nasty dispute some moons ago involving Chinese “Trainees” that ended up with a court ruling in their favor (the inspiration for the movie SOUR STRAWBERRIES), here we have another one that holds not their client, but also their pimp accountable.  Good.  Pity it the system as designed means it has to come to this, but I’m glad to see it happening.  Arudou Debito in Edmonton

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The Japan Times Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010
Foreigners win ¥17 million for trainee abuses

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100130b2.html

KUMAMOTO (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.

The four female Chinese trainees, aged 22 to 25, engaged in sewing from early morning to late evening with only two or three days off a month after arriving in Japan in 2006, according to the court.

ENDS

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中国人実習生「過酷労働」 業者らに賃金など支払い命令

朝日新聞 2010年1月29日
http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0129/SEB201001290003.html

外国人研修・技能実習制度で来日した中国人女性4人が、熊本県天草市の縫製工場で不当に過酷な労働を強いられたとして、業者や受け入れを仲介した1次機関などに未払い賃金や慰謝料など計約3600万円を求めた訴訟の判決が29日、熊本地裁であった。高橋亮介裁判長は業者と受け入れ機関の計3者に計1725万円の支払いを命じた。原告弁護団によると、制度をめぐる労働裁判で、外国人を直接雇用しない1次受け入れ機関にも不法行為責任を認めたのは初めて。

賠償命令を受けたのは、熊本県天草市の縫製会社スキールと個人事業所のレクサスライク(いずれも廃業)の2業者と、両者に実習生をあっせんした同県小国町の1次受け入れ機関プラスパアパレル協同組合の3者。制度を支援する財団法人国際研修協力機構(JITCO)に対する訴えは退けられた。

原告は中国・山東省出身の22〜25歳の女性4人。2006年4月に来日して研修を始めたが、休日は月1回程度で、午前2時まで働かされたこともあったという。給料は最低賃金より少なく、労働基準法で禁じられた「強制貯金」もさせられたと訴えた。

ENDS

Mainichi: Rwandan Refugee applicant jailed for weeks for not having photograph on GOJ-issued document

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

There was the threat of this sort of thing happening when a friend of mine accidentally overstayed his visa back in 2004, and after he went in, owned up, and was forgiven by Immigration, they issued no physical proof that his visa was now legal and could have been deported anyway had he not avoided Police Boxes for the following few weeks:

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

Visa villains
Immigration law overdoes enforcement, penalties

…A university professor, who has worked in Japan for more than a decade, discovered his visa was three weeks overdue. He went to Immigration to own up — which, until recently, would have resulted in a lot of bowing and a letter of apology. But this time, after being questioned, photographed, and fingerprinted, he was told that he was now a criminal, warranting an indefinite period of background investigation.

Problem is, officials refused to issue any evidence that his visa was being processed. Outside Immigration, he was still as illegal as when he walked in. Their advice? “Stay out of trouble. And remember your case number.”

Contrast that with how Japan processes other forms of identification, such as driver licenses. The government mails all bearers a reminder before expiry. During processing, you get a temporary license to keep you out of jug in case you get stopped by the cops.

But if the professor gets snagged for a random Gaijin Card Check, he might just disappear. With detentions short on legal advice or contact with the outside world, what’s to stop another summary deportation?
http://www.debito.org/japantimes062904.html
//////////////////////////////////////

Things haven’t changed.  Read on.  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.  Arudou Debito in Edmonton

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Rwandan refugee held by prosecutors over visa status
(Mainichi Japan) January 23, 2010, Courtesy of M&M

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20100123p2a00m0na026000c.html

NAGOYA — 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.

On Jan. 13, the Nagoya District Public Prosecutors Office was informed by the Ministry of Justice that the man filed for refugee status with the Nagoya Regional Immigration Bureau in 2008. However, public prosecutors have decided to keep the man in custody until Jan. 28, and the local summary court has approved the decision.

“We cannot comment on the matter as we are in the middle of an investigation,” said public prosecutors.

The man, a member of the Tutsi ethnic minority from southern Rwanda, fled to Uganda in 1994 to escape persecution. He was 14 years old. He lost contact with his family and returned home in 2003. In April 2005, he arrived in Japan on a fake passport.

After working in Aichi and Mie prefectures for a couple of years, the man applied for refugee status in November 2008. However, despite three interviews with immigration authorities he has yet to be granted refugee status. He also applied for a foreign resident certificate in Kanie, Aichi Prefecture, in October 2009, but the municipality says they cannot verify the applicant’s identity.

According to the Foundation for the Welfare and Education of the Asian People’s Refugee Assistance Headquarters, foreigners who have been arrested for illegal overstaying or nonpossession of passport are often released if only their application for refugee status is confirmed.

“It is unlawful that police and public prosecutors keep him in custody knowing his status,” said lawyer Naoya Kawaguchi.

ENDS

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愛知県警:難民申請中のルワンダ人男性逮捕…確認後も拘置
毎日新聞 2010年1月23日
http://mainichi.jp/flash/news/20100123k0000m040129000c.html

愛知県警に出入国管理法違反(旅券等不携帯)容疑で7日に逮捕されたルワンダ人男性(30)が、難民認定申請中と確認された後も拘置され続けていることが22日分かった。男性から08年に申請を受けた名古屋入国管理局は、強制収容せず在宅で審査を続けていた。県警によると、国連難民高等弁務官事務所(UNHCR)や難民支援団体からは早期釈放を求める意見が寄せられているという。

県警西枇杷島署や男性の代理人弁護士によると、男性は7日、愛知県北名古屋市の路上で警察官の職務質問を受け、旅券や外国人登録証を携帯していなかったことから署に任意同行された。

男性は難民認定申請の受理を示す書類の写しを提示したが、書類に顔写真がなく本人確認ができないとして現行犯逮捕された。13日に法務省から男性が在宅で難民認定の審査中だとの情報提供を受けたが、地検はさらに10日間の拘置延長を求め、名古屋簡裁も認めた。拘置期限は28日で、男性は22日現在も同署に拘置されている。

難民認定の申請書によると、男性はルワンダ南部出身のツチ族。ルワンダ内戦時にフツ族の迫害を受け、14歳だった94年に隣国のウガンダに逃れた。家族とは音信不通となり、03年の帰国後は支援者にかくまわれ、05年4月に支援者が用意した偽造旅券で来日した。

愛知県や三重県で働き、08年11月に知人の勧めで難民認定を申請した。これまで3回入管の事情聴取を受けたが、結論は出ていない。09年10月には愛知県蟹江町に外国人登録を申請したが「本人確認ができない」との理由で判断は保留されている。

アジア福祉教育財団難民事業本部によると、難民申請者は、旅券等不携帯や不法残留の容疑で逮捕されても申請中と確認されれば釈放される例が多いという。代理人の川口直也弁護士は「入管が在宅で審査中なのに、警察や検察が身柄拘束を続けるのは不当だ」と訴えている。

名古屋地検は「捜査中なのでコメントは差し控えたい」、西枇杷島署は「拘置請求は地検の判断」としている。【秋山信一】

ENDS

Sunday Tangent: SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO column on Middle Age

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  For Sunday, here’s my latest tangental column in Sapporo free paper SAPPORO SOURCE — on middle age and the insights that it provides.

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

(Click on image to expand in browser)

ON MIDDLE AGE
SAPPORO SOURCE Column 7, for publication in the January-February 2010 issue
By ARUDOU Debito
DRAFT SIX — VERSION AS SUBMITTED TO SAPPORO SOURCE

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”: What did we want to “do” with our lives? How could we convert a “job” into a “career”? Who really were our “good friends”? Who would we spend our leisure time with? And with our body clocks ticking, it was time to decide if we wanted to reproduce or not. This meant changing any relationship that had developed out of love, or habit, into legal ties. If and when children popped out, we had the responsibility of providing stability. Then we had to repeat the questions above.

But for me, for half a decade now, it’s been the Forties. Once we get more than halfway into our second set of 10,000 days, things tend to come into stark relief. Some people can see where their chosen paths will end, and wonder if they made the right decisions. Many experience a very real Midlife Crisis — as in, coming to terms (or not) with a fundamental question: “Is this all there is to life?” This is a time when people suddenly make wrenching decisions that stun onlookers: “Why would you work so hard for so long to get where you are now, and then give it all up?” The answer: They just weren’t happy with what they got.

The Forties are also in some ways an awkward age, particularly in Japan. We are not young enough to get away with some youthful excesses and mistakes. Yet we are not visibly old and grey enough to be entitled to filial piety, or coast along on the respect for the elderly found in Asian societies. And for many, our present salary is hardly munificent, especially up here in Hokkaido, making us wonder how we’ll ever afford our kids’ upcoming college tuition. Will our investments help them with their investments as they bud off?

Middle Age is also a midpoint in the aging process. Many realize that genes and life’s experiences have aged our peers quite differently. We can look at Facebook photos of high school friends we haven’t seen for decades, and see how they’ve turned out. Some are relatively unchanged, except for the extra kilograms or the cue-ball pate. Others have become exactly like their parents — fenced in, furrowed, domesticated, surrounded by their lusty studs and fillies. Some are, incredibly, even ready to become grandparents. (Myself, I come off looking like a Beat Poet with a full head of hair, for which I am grateful.)

Now looking forward, as the Fifties, Sixties, and Beyond (hopefully) loom, we had better recognize some limitations and make some personal pacts. For soon all of the things we took for granted — physical stamina, libido, corporal mobility and integrity, mental faculty, and the reckless optimism of youth — will be dimming if not going to seed.

Then pops up the “R-word” — “Retirement” — something many thought only old fogies worry about. But now it’s our turn. Many will have paid enough years into their pension plans and still wonder if they will get enough back to take care of themselves. And others will realize that their hopes and dreams, maybe even the thought of changing and improving the world, will quite possibly not come to fruition. So they either reconcile themselves to a quiet life, cultivating a hobby to keep their minds awake and bodies moving, or make themselves known as community leaders and volunteers, if not potential political candidates (representative democracy, after all, favors the older and experienced).

It is a luxury of this age to appreciate that every life stage has its benefits. But Middle Age in particular endows the self-aware with the knowledge of how to make adjustments to maximize self-worth and happiness. What makes you happy? And what will you do to achieve it before you die? If not now, when?

Of course, there are the nostalgic types, who hark back wistfully and say, “I wish I was, say, sixteen again.” Yes, reminiscing has its uses, but I believe it should not be a life view. I’m one of those (probably rare) people who rarely looks back, and when I do, I realize I have never been happier than now. From my current perspective as a 45-year-old, I consider that very lucky indeed.

Let’s hope my second — and third — 10,000 days occasion the same emotions when I look back. “Look back NOT in anger”, one can hope.
ENDS
927 WORDS

Olympic Tangent: US-born Reed siblings skate for “Team Japan” despite one being too old to have dual nationality

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

Arudou Debito in Calgary, finding that Canada is pressuring their athletes almost as much as Japan does (Team Canada has never won a Gold on home soil; oh dear, so what.)

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COMMENT FROM SUBMITTER JPS:
Hi Debito,

Hope you are enjoying Canada. So I was reading the top stories on Yahoo today and found this gem.

http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/vancouver/blog/fourth_place_medal/post/Three-American-ice-dancing-siblings-won-t-be-ska?urn=oly,218757

So Cathy Reed and her brother are dual nationals (according to the article) and will be representing Japan in the Olympics. The problem here is that Cathy is 22 years old, almost 23.

http://www.ice-dance.com/reeds/profiles.html
http://www.ice-dance.com/reeds/jp/

1987 + 22 = 2009. So the grace period for choosing a nationality has lapsed. So if this is correct, she is in violation of Japanese law, but it seems that it isn’t a problem here. I wonder why? JPS

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THAT YAHOO ARTICLE FOLLOWS. DEBITO.ORG MAKES NO CLAIMS FOR ACCURACY OR TONE:

Three American ice dancing siblings won’t be skating for Team USA

By Trey Kerby
Yahoo Sports blog, Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:40 am EST

http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/vancouver/blog/fourth_place_medal/post/Three-American-ice-dancing-siblings-won-t-be-ska?urn=oly,218757

A few weeks back we told you about the curious trend of ice skaters finding partners in foreign countries. That was unusual, but not too surprising. Skaters need partners, and if they can find them in other places, why not? But the story of the Reed siblings? Well, that’s weird.

Born to an American father and a Japanese mother in Kalamazoo, Michigan, all three Reed siblings – Cathy, Chris, and Allison – will skate in the Vancouver Olympics. None of them are members of Team USA.

Huh?

Because of their mother’s Japanese citizenship, Chris and Cathy hold dual citizenship in the United States and Japan. They’ll be skating for Japan.

Allison, meanwhile, is taking advantage of the new rules to skate for Georgia’s national team, home of her partner, Otar Japaridze.

Growing up, the Reeds lived in Kalamazoo, Hong Kong, Cincinnati, Australia, and, finally, New Jersey, where Cathy and Chris met up with coaches Nikolai Morozov and Shae-Lynn Bourne. As the duo trained with their new coaches, they quickly flew up the ice dancing ranks. However, due to the depth of the American team, the Reeds began skating for Japan. In a country where ice dancing is not terribly popular, they almost immediately became the team to beat.

Little sister Allison’s story is even more fortuitous. She began the sport because of her siblings’ success but could not find a partner due to her small stature. Then she found Japaridze in – where else? – New Jersey. In their first competition together (Allison’s first international competition ever), the duo nabbed the very last Olympic spot.

Just your typical three-siblings-from-the-United-States-finding-international-success-for-other-countries story that’s pretty amazing. No biggie.
ENDS
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Kyodo & Mainichi: 14 prefectures now oppose NJ PR suffrage (Debito.org names them)

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Here we have Japan’s version of the US opposition “Tea Parties”, with some prefectural assemblies (most rural and apparently LDP-strongholded) coming out in opposition to giving NJ with PR the vote in local elections.  (Debito.org, unsurprisingly, is in favor of granting suffrage; reasons passim here.)  The interesting thing is, when has the media granted much attention to what the prefectures think before about national policies?  They certainly didn’t when it came to a decade of requests from lots of city governments, after the Hamamatsu Sengen, to make life easier for their NJ residents.  Oh, that’s right.  It’s not business as usual since the LDP is not in power.  Plus it looks like the Cabinet may actually help pass a law to do something nice for foreigners.   How dare they!

Anyway, name and shame.  These are the prefectures you should write to to say you’re unimpressed by their lack of tolerance:

Akita, Yamagata, Chiba, Ibaraki, Toyama, Ishikawa, Shimane, Kagawa, Oita, Saga, Nagasaki and Kumamoto, plus Saitama and Niigata.

Source in Japanese below.  Arudou Debito in Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

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14 prefectures oppose allowing foreigners to vote in local elections
JapanToday.com/Kyodo News Tuesday 09th February, 07:52 AM JST

http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/14-prefectures-oppose-allowing-foreigners-to-vote-in-local-elections
Courtesy of MMT, John in Yokohama, and Cleo

TOKYO — 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.

[Those open-minded prefectures are: Akita, Yamagata, Chiba, Ibaraki, Toyama, Ishikawa, Shimane, Kagawa, Oita, Saga, Nagasaki and Kumamoto, plus Saitama and Niigata]

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.

The results underscored growing opposition to the government’s policy, with local assembly members, including those belonging to the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, pressing for the adoption of statements of opposition in prefectural assemblies.

The Japanese government is considering formulating a bill that will grant local suffrage to permanent residents in Japan, and DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa has expressed the hope that such a bill will pass through parliament in the current Diet session.

But reservations remain within the DPJ-led coalition government about the idea, with collation partner People’s New Party President Shizuka Kamei reiterating his opposition last week.

Explaining the reason behind the Chiba prefectural assembly’s opposition, Naotoshi Takubo, secretary general of the LDP’s local branch in Chiba, said the change of government made it more likely than before that a law will be enacted to accept local suffrage.

‘‘The political situation has changed and we now have a sense of danger for the Hatoyama administration,’’ he said. The Chiba assembly adopted a supporting statement in 1999 when the coalition government between the LDP and the New Komeito party was launched.

An LDP member of the Ishikawa prefectural assembly expressed a similar view, saying the assembly had been supportive because giving permanent residents the right to vote was not ‘‘realistic’’ before.

The Akita prefectural assembly, which adopted its opposing statement after the change of government, said that ‘‘a national consensus has not been built at all.’‘

The Kagawa prefectural assembly says in its statement that foreign residents should be nationalized [sic] first to obtain the right to vote.

The issue of local suffrage for permanent foreign residents in Japan came under the spotlight in 1995 after the Supreme Court said the Constitution does not ban giving the right to vote to foreign nationals with permanent resident status in local elections.

Since 1998, the DPJ, the New Komeito party and the Japanese Communist Party have submitted local suffrage bills, but their passage was blocked by the then ruling LDP.

Japan does not allow permanent residents with foreign nationality, such as those of Korean descent, to vote in local elections, let alone in national elections, despite strong calls among such residents for the right to vote on the grounds that they pay taxes as local residents.

Residents of Korean descent comprise most of the permanent foreign residents in Japan.

Japan grants special permanent resident status to people from the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan who have lived in the country since the time of Japan’s colonial rule over the areas, and to their descendants.

ENDS
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<外国人選挙権>8県議会が「反対」に転向
2月9日12時38分配信 毎日新聞
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20100209-00000047-mai-pol
永住外国人への地方選挙権付与について、昨年9月の民主政権発足以降、47都道府県議会のうち14の県議会が反対や、慎重な対応を求める意見書を可決していたことが、全国都道府県議会議長会の調べで分かった。このうち千葉や石川など8県議会は、かつて賛成の立場の意見書を採択しており、政権交代で外国人への選挙権付与が現実味を帯びてきたことに対し、自民系が多数を占める地方議会による反発とみられる。【渡辺暢】

永住外国人への地方選挙権付与は、民主党のマニフェスト(政権公約)の原案となった「09年政策集」に盛り込まれた。民主が今国会にも新法案を提出する方針を示す一方、亀井静香金融・郵政担当相が反対を明言するなど、足並みはそろっていない。

議長会の調べでは政権交代から昨年末までに、秋田、山形、千葉、茨城、富山、石川、島根、香川、大分、佐賀、長崎、熊本の12県議会が法制化に反対、埼玉と新潟が慎重な対応を求める意見書を採択した。在日本大韓民国民団の働きかけもあり、参政権に賛成または検討を求める意見書を採択した都道府県は昨年6月までに34に達していた。しかし、政権交代後、かつて賛成意見書を採択した千葉、茨城、富山、石川、島根、大分、佐賀、長崎が反対に転じた。

自民党千葉県連の田久保尚俊幹事長は「民主党による(法案の)提出が現実味を帯びてきた。選挙で(県議会の)構成メンバーも代わっており、(99年の賛成意見書とは)別に考えてほしい」と話す。同石川県連の福村章幹事長は昨年12月の意見書採択を受け「(賛成の意見書を採択した95年)当時は自社さ政権。状況が変わった」と説明した。

反対意見書の急増について、千葉大の新藤宗幸教授(政治学、行政学)は「極めて政治的なもの。地方議会全体では今も自民系が多く、『地方は反対』という状況を作って政権に亀裂を入れていこうという、自民党中央の考えではないか」と分析する。全国市議会議長会によると、昨年末までに反対の意見書を採択したのは山形県天童市など、少なくとも13市議会ある。

ENDS

DailyFinance.com: McDonald’s Japan loses big, shutting 430 outlets, thanks in part to “Mr James” campaign

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Hi Blog.  File under “revenge is sweet”:  McDonald’s Japan lost out big last year in Japan in part, according to the article below, to their gaijin shill “Mr James”. They refused to retract the campaign, and then played dirty pool in the media regardless of how it affected Japan’s ethnic minorities.  (It’s not only McD’s, of course; Mercedes-Benz is currently doing much the same thing with their own idiotic gaijin shill “Mr Naruhodo”; at least he speaks in kanji too.)  But this time, according to this article, it looks as though they got bit in the ass for it.

Good.  Kinda makes one believe in karma after all.  Arudou Debito in Banff.

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

McDonald’s to Close Hundreds of Outlets in Japan
By JONATHAN BERR
Posted 8:45 AM 02/09/10, courtesy of ADW

http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/mcdonalds-to-close-430-outlets-in-japan-as-economy-falters/19350531/

McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) is closing 430 restaurants in Japan, the latest sign of the faltering economy in the Asian country.

A 50% owned affiliate will shutter the locations over the next 12 to 18 months in conjunction with the strategic review of the company’s real estate portfolio. The world’s largest restaurant chain plans to take charges of $40 million to $50 million in the first half of the year. McDonald’s Holdings Co. (Japan) has 3,700 stores.

“These actions are designed to enhance the customer experience, overall profitability and returns of the market,” the company said in a press release.

McDonald’s also is opening 90 new restaurants and refurbishing 200 in Japan. Clearly, McDonald’s is retrenching. The fast food market in Japan is bad because of the weak economy. It’s the same reason that Wendy’s Arby’s Group Inc. (WEN) said in December that it was exiting the Asian country. A Wall Street Journal editorial recently argued that “the unfolding economic crack-up in Tokyo is something to behold.” Japan has never really recovered from the lost decade of the 1990s and the current worldwide economic recession is underscoring these weaknesses. Some experts have urged U.S. officials to learn from Japan’s mistakes.

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.

Overall, though, McDonald’s continues to hum along. Global sales rose 2.6% in January, topping analysts’ estimates. Comparable store sales in the U.S. fell 0.7% in January, a weak performance that nonetheless surpassed the rest of the industry thanks to the popularity of the Mac Snack Wrap and the Dollar Breakfast Dollar Menu. In Europe, Asia/Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, comparable sales rose 4.3%. Shares are up 6.6% over the past year.

ENDS

Calling all Debito.org readers: “Japanese Only” signs in Kansai, Nagoya, and Kanto areas? For March 2010 UN inspection.

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Japan is coming under review this month at the OHCHR CERD Committee again (it happens every two years), and I have submitted chapter to them in as part of an NGO group effort (more on that later).

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.  (Information about previous UN visits here.)

I know for a fact that “Japanese Only” etc. signs and rules are up around Japan in various guises and places of visit.  After all, there’s no law against it.  So 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 debito@debito.org) 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.

(Please say “Japanese Only sign submission for UN” in the submission’s subject line?)

Thanks for helping out.  Arudou Debito in Banff.

Int’l Child Abductions Issue: USG formally links support to GOJ re DPRK abductions with GOJ’s signing of Hague Treaty

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Hi Blog.  I think this is probably the good news of the month.  The US seems to have formally linked and exposed the cognitive dissonance found in the GOJ’s victimhood status regarding the abductions of Japanese by North Korea and the abductions of children into Japan by Japanese citizens after an international divorce.  (Note the GOJ even resorted to the ultimate excuse, “Japanese culture”, below.  Was that the last straw?)  Bravo.  Submitter PT puts it best, so I’ll include his commentary.  Arudou Debito in Calgary.

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

PT writes (February 8, 2010):  Another breakthrough today. 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.

An article in Kyodo news service was released [February 6] titled “U.S. warns Japan of effect of custody treaty on N. Korea abductions.” The article states that Assistant Secretary Campbell, in meetings with Japanese counterparts, warned that failure to sign the Hague “may have adverse effects on Washington’s assistance to Tokyo in trying to resolve the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals.” The article also states that Campbell “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.”

Although the article contains much of the common Japanese verbage that we don’t like, including putting the word abduction in quotations and that Noriko Savoie, “allegedly” took the children from the United States to Japan against a U.S. court decision.” There’s no “allegedly” involved in that situation. Anyway, the important point is that this represents a policy shift in United States foreign policy toward Japan that is likely to make waves throughout Japan. This is good news in moving forward.  PT

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

U.S. warns Japan of effect of custody treaty on N. Korea abductions
Kyodo News/Breitbart, Feb 6 2010, Courtesy of PT.

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9DMQV380&show_article=1

TOKYO, Feb. 7 (AP) – (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.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is aimed at preventing one of the parents in a failed international marriage from taking their child across national borders against an existing child custody arrangement.

The U.S. government has urged Japan to join the treaty due to an increasing incidence of Japanese parents “abducting” their children to Japan even though their spouses of different nationality have custody over the children in the United States.

Other countries such as Britain and France are also stepping up their calls on Japan to join the international convention.

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.”

But the government has begun considering the possibility of becoming a party to the treaty in response to the urgings from other countries.

According to the sources, Campbell explained to Japanese officials that taking children from those who have custody over them is called “abduction” in the United States and criticism against Japan over such cases is increasing in the country.

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.

While reaffirming that the U.S. administration and Congress have made clear their positions on seeking a resolution of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese, Campbell expressed hope that the Japanese government would give consideration to the child custody issue so as not to damage this willingness to support Japan.

Japanese officials responded that they need to think carefully about the question of whether to join the treaty while keeping in mind Japanese public opinion, but the U.S. side was not convinced, the sources said.

Late last month, Campbell met in Washington with about 30 people seeking to see their children who have apparently been “abducted” by their Japanese spouses and promised them that he will express his concerns over the situation to the Japanese government.

The issue drew attention last year when a man from the United States was arrested in Japan after trying to take his children back from his divorced Japanese wife, who allegedly took the children from the United States to Japan against a U.S. court decision.
ENDS

Laura Petrescu, MEXT Scholar, update: Bowing out of Japan, reasons why.

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Hi Blog.  Back in December, exchange student Laura Petrescu offered a guest blog entry outlining the problems she had with Japan’s lack of support for NJ scholars coming on scholarships to Japanese universities, in particular Osaka University of Foreign Studies.  It was a very thoughtful essay which sparked a lot of discussion.  Now Laura has decided she’s just plain had enough, after three years here, and is getting out.  Here is an update on her situation and her reasons causing her decision.

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.  Arudou Debito in Calgary

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

Dated January 29, 2010

Hello, blog! 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.

Before I go on, I want to thank the posters who offered their sympathy and support after the first article was published. To those who questioned my story or pointed out what I did wrong, that’s your opinion, and I respect it. Maybe my writing wasn’t clear enough… maybe different people perceive the same situation differently. Thank you for taking the time to read my story nonetheless.

On to the point: long story short, I’ve decided to waive my scholarship and return to my home country.

There are two reasons for my decision. Firstly, I’m sure that, at this rate, I wouldn’t be able to graduate. For one thing, I was failed through one of the mandatory courses to advance to the next year – by the teacher that wouldn’t acknowledge sickness as a valid reason to miss a class. Also, the research group I was assigned to for another mandatory class ignored me altogether and then complained that I wasn’t doing anything, so I would’ve likely failed that project, too. (Mind you, I tried to get involved – but being completely ignored when trying to offer a suggestion or improvement, or volunteer for a task, gets tiresome after a while.)

The second reason is that the quality of teaching overall is definitely not what I’d expected. I spent two years at my current university and I only learned a few things that could be considered useful for my field. I learned infinitely more through self-study and an online course.

It took me several months to come to this decision, and in the meantime, I started going to classes less and less. I just couldn’t bring myself to face it anymore. I doubt that my academic adviser or the people at the International Relations office noticed or bother to do anything. Thinking back, I think that by this point, they had already decided I was more trouble than I was worth. After all, I’m not the one to “humbly understand” that “these things happen” (from racist and inappropriate remarks to unjust grades, being excluded by my classmates and even one attempt of ijime that didn’t go down so well for the bully). Anyway, when I told them about my decision, they didn’t seem surprised. Quite the contrary. The International Relations people were very quick to agree that “this is probably the best thing for me” and one of then urged me to leave “as soon as possible” because it must be “so hard” (“tsurai desu ne?”) being someplace I didn’t want to be. Not one word was said about why I want to leave, or about what could be done to solve the problems on their end. I wasn’t asking for a top-to-bottom reform of the way they do things at the university or anything of the sort… just for a bit of help and understanding, and for intervention where it was needed (re: repeated inappropriate comments, etc.). Because sweeping a problem under the rug or pretending it never happened only makes it worse.

I’m off to file my papers on Monday and out of Japan in two weeks. Of course, MEXT won’t pay for my ticket, so that’s another few hundred thousand yen out of my family’s pocket. The only case in which they’d pay would be if I retired due to illness… I guess GAD (see below) doesn’t count as illness in their book, even though I largely suspect all the stress and pressure I’ve had in the last three years is what triggered it in the first place.

“But Laura”, some readers might ask, “why do we need to know all this?”

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.

Of course, I admit I’m biased here. I read the comments for my original story and I’m really happy for the people who actually had a fun and worthwhile experience here. Sadly, I’m not one of them.

I’ve wasted three years of my life here, and struggled every step of the way. I learned the language to the point where I could engage in fluent conversation and read just about anything. Writing was slow and difficult, but the important thing is, I could write (much to the astonishment of some professors). I studied the customs and mannerisms, relevant laws, and even keigo. I tried to make and keep friends, but ultimately got tired of the whole ‘petting zoo’ attitude most of the Japanese showed (“Hey guys, this is my gaijin friend! She can speak Japanese! And she can read, too!” “Wooooow…”). I’m giving up because I feel burned out. There’s only so much crap one can take before finally snapping.

Note: I was talking about GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) before. Back home, I only had a mild social anxiety problem which went away on its own. After I came to Japan (and especially after I moved from Osaka to Tokyo), it got much, much worse. Anyone who has suffered a panic attack knows how debilitating it can be – the bad ones can leave you disabled for a good few hours. Anxiety and panic attacks did me in for the first two years – that’s why my attendance was low to begin with (since it got brought up a lot in the comments of my previous post). The reason I didn’t include this with my original story is that it could probably be used to figure out who I am.
ENDS

UK Independent: Toyota’s problems being pinned on foreign parts.

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Hi Blog.  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 that 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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

In Toyota City, recalls are blamed on foreign components
By David McNeill
The Independent (UK) Wednesday, 3 February 2010, Courtesy of TO

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/in-toyota-city-recalls-blamed-on-foreign-parts-1888499.html

Toyota City, about 200 miles east of Tokyo, once appeared on the map – if it appeared at all – as Koromo. But in 1959 town leaders renamed it after the up-and-coming local car producer, and twinned their modest town with the then global centre of auto production, Detroit.

The move must have seemed comically ambitious at the time, but half a century and over 170 million vehicles later, nobody is laughing at the world’s biggest automobile manufacturer. Toyota City is today far larger and incomparably richer; like Toyota’s cars it is a neat, efficient, slightly featureless place in contrast to the once all-conquering Detroit, which has become a byword for urban decline.

But success has come at a cost, as the firm’s problems this week show. Toyota has long been known both for the ruthless efficiency of its production line, and the matchless quality of the cars that emerged at the other end. But now the car-making behemoth has been humbled by a series of huge foreign recalls, which a shaken executive vice-president, Shinichi Sasaki admitted may cost up to $2bn (£1.25bn) in lost output and sales. The latest recall, to fix a fault that could jam accelerator pedals, involves 4.2 million cars worldwide, including roughly 180,000 in Britain.

That comes on top of another five million vehicles sent back to workshops for repair in the US, after a separate accelerator problem reportedly led to several deaths and at least a dozen class-action lawsuits in North America. Toyota was also forced to stop stateside sales and production of eight models last week, all of which will further tarnish its reputation and deal a huge blow to this year’s balance sheet, admits Sasaki. “The sales forecast is something that we’re extremely worried about,” he said this week.

Today, claims that only Toyotas made outside Japan using foreign-made parts were affected by the crisis was dealt a blow when it emerged that there have been more than 100 complaints, in Japan as well as the US, about the brakes on its new hybrid Prius model. And yet, as industry analysts have noted, the company has yet to make a formal apology for these shortcomings, let alone unveil a convincing programme for addressing them.

Experts are pondering how a company that made better, more reliable cars than almost anyone else could have ended up in such a mess. At home in Japan, which has been mostly unaffected by the recalls, the media has already named the guilty party – foreign parts makers. Toyota’s enormous global expansion has forced it to rely on local manufacturers, resulting in a drop in quality.

The faulty accelerator pedal, for example, was made by a North American company – one reason why Toyota is reportedly switching back to its decades-old domestic supplier Denso Corp. That is just one symptom of a wider problem familiar to many multinationals: how to protect quality at overseas factories, particularly when you are a company that employs 300,000 people around the world, selling in 150 countries. “Toyota set up so many plants, turning into an international company,” Keinosuke Ono, professor of business at Chubu University in Kasugai, Japan, told AP this week. “It was inevitable that rank-and-file quality is becoming endangered.”

Over two decades ago, the company began the foreign transplant of what became known as the “Toyota Way”, a system of lean production aimed at eliminating waste, producing zero defects and continually improving line performance (“kaizen”) that has transformed car-making worldwide. Some commentators also credit Toyota with a more profound innovation: shifting responsibility for production from managers back to the shop floor.

Toyota workers are not penalised for spotting problems and stopping a line, they are praised, points out Yozo Hasegawa, author of Clean Car Wars: How Honda and Toyota are Winning the Battle of the Eco-Friendly Motors. In fact, Toyota factories employ teams whose sole job is to find problems and save time and money. American factories were hampered by stalling production lines, but Toyota improvised, says Hasegawa. “When a problem arose, it would undergo repeated questioning until its roots could be traced, and a kaizen or improvement measure put in place to prevent a repeat.”

Experts say grafting that system on to overseas factories has mostly worked, but replicating Toyota’s network of trusted parts supplies, built over decades in Japan, has been more difficult. Figuring out how to fix that problem will keep the company’s top executives busy in the months to come. Meanwhile, they are praying that their mounting troubles don’t persuade buyers to switch brands. One US consumer group blames the accelerator pedal problem on at least 18 deaths in the last decade.

Only time will tell if the recalls are but potholes on Toyota’s road to world domination or signs of a deeper structural malaise, but don’t feel sorry for Toyota City yet. Although analysts expect Toyota’s market share in Europe and the US to drop to its lowest level since 2006, this is a company with deep pockets. Before its problems began last year, the car-maker had a war chest of over €19bn, helping it earn the nickname “Toyota Bank”. Toyota didn’t end General Motors’ 76-year reign as the world’s sixth-largest auto-maker by being bad at what it does. A comeback seems inevitable.
END

Odd treatment of “naturalized” people (guess who) by Air Canada/Canadian Government at Narita Airport

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Hi Blog.  Writing to you from Calgary, Canada.  As a tangent that might not be all that tangental, let me tell you about an odd experience I had at Narita Airport yesterday.

It was a breeze for a change getting out of Hokkaido and going overseas (which generally means, if you don’t go through Seoul, that you go through KIX or Narita), as my bags were checked all the way through to Vancouver (meaning I didn’t have to get my bags and go through long-lined Immigration procedures again at Narita).  And no, there were no double-takes at my Japanese passport at any stage of the game.

That is, until boarding.  I had a ten-hour layover in Narita (!! — it was longer than my actual flight to Canada), so I holed up in the United Airlines lounge (the ANA lounge idiotically won’t take non-members willing to pay 50 bucks at United or Delta) for the duration and got stuff done (free beer and internet, not bad at all).  Then when I was heading back for the gate about fifteen minutes before boarding, I was paged 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 double-took 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.”

Me:  “Erm, I don’t get it.  I’m not on a faked passport, obviously.  And it’s not a Canadian passport anyway.  Why are naturalized people more suspicious?”

“I don’t know.”

“Were any of the other four people you paged called up for a passport check?”

“No, different business.”

“So you’re only singling out the naturalized people for extra identity checks?”

“Yes.”

“This is, frankly, annoying and insulting.  And unCanadian.  I went over there in 2006 and was not subjected to this.  When did this start?”

“I don’t know.  I’ve only been working here about a year.”

“Well, I’m not telling you my birth nationality.  It’s unnecessary.  And I don’t see how knowing that helps you smoke out any faked passports.  Okay?”

That was fine.  They pursued it no further.

I got through YVR and other checkpoints just fine, again, with no double takes.

Any thoughts from people out there?  Anyone with connections to the Canadian government willing to ask around and see if this is actual policy?

Arudou Debito in Calgary

Tangent: LA Times: “Korea activists target foreign English teachers”

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Hi Blog.  As a weekend Tangent, here’s a creepy article making the rounds of the non-Asian communities in Asia:  South Koreans tracking “troublemaking foreign English teachers” in Korea, and reporting their activities to the police before they can commit any further depravities.

COMMENT:  Sounds to me like a bunch of nativist busybodies with nothing better to do than stalk and spread rumor about “English teachers” (read: probably neighborhood white folks). I hope nobody has the balls to do the same thing in Japan.  And I wish some foreign press outlet wouldn’t give them a modicum of credibility by giving them a venue to express their views (viz. “To be honest,” he said, “a lot of our group members believe the teachers made [these threats of violence against them] all up.” with no counter.  LA Times, why report this as if it’s persuasive?)

In sum, these people are scummy vigilantes practicing racial profiling and public intimidation. If there is an issue of non-Koreans breaking the law, they should tell the police and let them handle it. Otherwise these are just more proactive racists, going beyond stores saying “Japanese Only”, and stretching the sentiment to the street and right up to the teachers’ front doors. It’s a means to drive foreigners paranoid and crazy.  Let’s hope it doesn’t give Japanese okaku any ideas.  Arudou Debito in Calgary

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

FOREIGN EXCHANGE
Korea activists target foreign English teachers
A South Korea group uses the Internet and other means to track foreign teachers, in an effort to ferret out illegal or unsavory behavior. The teachers say they’re victims of stalkers and rumors.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-fg-korea-english31-2010jan31,0,123114,full.story

By John M. Glionna
LA Times January 31, 2010

Reporting from Seoul
Sometimes, in his off hours, Yie Eun-woong does a bit of investigative work.

He uses the Internet and other means to track personal data and home addresses of foreign English teachers across South Korea.

Then he follows them, often for weeks at a time, staking out their apartments, taking notes on their contacts and habits.

He wants to know whether they’re doing drugs or molesting children.

Yie, a slender 40-year-old who owns a temporary employment agency, says he is only attempting to weed out troublemakers who have no business teaching students in South Korea, or anywhere else.

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.

Teacher activists acknowledge that a few foreign English instructors are arrested each year in South Korea — cases mostly involving the use of marijuana — but they insist that the rate of such incidents is far lower than for the Korean population itself.

“Why are they following teachers? That’s a job for the police,” said Dann Gaymer, a spokesman for the Assn. for Teachers of English in Korea. “What this group is up to is something called vigilantism, and I don’t like the sound of that.”

In November, the president of the teachers group received anonymous e-mails threatening his life and accusing him of committing sex crimes.

“I have organized the KEK (Kill White in Korea),” one e-mail read in part. “We will start to kill and hit [foreigners] from this Christmas. Don’t make a fuss. . . . Just get out.”

Yie acknowledges that he has been questioned by investigators but denies any involvement in the threats of violence.

“To be honest,” he said, “a lot of our group members believe the teachers made this all up.”

The debate over foreign English teachers is symbolic of a social shift taking place in a nation that has long prided itself on its racial purity and singular culture, South Korean analysts say.

In less than a decade, the number of foreigners living in South Korea, with a population of nearly 49 million, has doubled to 1.2 million, many of them migrant workers from other Asian nations.

Also included are the foreign English teachers, most from the United States, drawn here by compensation packages that may include as much as $2,500 a month plus free rent and a round-trip ticket to teach a Korean population obsessed with learning from native speakers.

Yie’s efforts have the support of some educators who say many foreign teachers lack the skills to run a classroom.

“This has nothing to do with race. It is all about teaching,” said Kim Young-Lan, a sociology professor at Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul.

The government has tried to stem what it sees as a troubling number of racist incidents. A 31-year-old man was charged last year for a verbal outburst against an Indian man and a Korean woman traveling together on a city bus in Seoul.

But some teachers from abroad say Korean laws regarding their status remain discriminatory. Foreign English teachers must undergo HIV tests and criminal and academic checks that are not required of Koreans doing the same work, they say.

Yie says he has nothing against foreigners. Growing up near the city of Osan, he often rode with his taxi driver father and encountered foreigners who served at the U.S. military base there. “I learned to pick out the good guys from the bad guys,” he says

In 2005, by then living in Seoul, he joined the fledgling activist group after seeing an upsetting posting on a website: claims by foreign teachers that they had slept with Korean students.

Yie, who is single and has no children, volunteered to help organize an effort to rein in such behavior.

“People were angry; most of them were parents with kids,” he said. “We all got together online and traded information.”

Gaymer says he doubts that such a posting ever existed. Instead, he says, Koreans were angry about photos posted on a job website showing foreigners dancing with scantily clad Korean women.

“They were consenting adults at a party with foreign men,” he said. “They weren’t doing anything bad or illegal.”

Yie’s group, Gaymer says, has used the incident as a rallying call. “They’re posting online pictures of teachers’ apartments and whipping each other into a nationalist frenzy, creating a hysteria against all English teachers, troublemakers or not,” he said.

Yie, who says his group is managed by half a dozen key figures and has 300 other members, created a system for parents and others to report bad teachers. The group says it has contributed to several arrests, including the recent bust of several foreign instructors for gambling and marijuana possession.

“I’m being called a racist who judges the entire group by the mistakes of the few,” Yie said. “I’m trying to look at these teachers with an open mind.”

john.glionna@latimes.com
ENDS

Ariel updates experience with not-random Gaijin Card and Passport Checks by Narita cops

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Hi Blog.  On this day of heading for Narita, here’s an update from a Debito.org Reader on how the Narita Airports Not-Random Gaijin Card Checks are continuing unabated.  I hope for their sake they don’t stop me; not in the mood.  Arudou Debito in transit

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

January 31, 2010.  Author:  Ariel

Hi Debito, I’m not sure whether you’re interested in an update on what’s going on at Narita, but I’ve noticed the topic cropping up in the comments lately.

My work takes me to Narita airport an average of once a month, and I’ve been noticing an increase in “random” police checks since last September. In my first three years living/working in Japan I was never once stopped by a policeman, but I was stopped three times in a row recently. I’m a caucasian woman in her mid-20’s by the way.

Early September: I was in the arrival lobby waiting to pick up some college-aged interns when I was approached by a uniformed policeman who asked for my passport in English. I explained in Japanese that I lived in Japan, so he asked for my ARC. I asked why, and he gave the standard explanation of catching overstayers. I didn’t want my new interns’ first impression to be of me arguing with an officer, so I gave in and let him take down my info.

Early November: I was sitting in the departure lobby filling out some paperwork before heading through security to catch a flight. Two officers came up and once again asked to see my passport in English. I asked why, and this time they said it was an anti-terrorism thing. Since I didn’t want to risk being late for my flight I let them take down my info (they even asked for my phone number) but gave them a hard time about how kibishii and mendou Japan is getting. They actually laughed and agreed.

Early January: I was standing in the departure lobby with another female caucasian coworker when two officers approached and started the standard conversation (I actually saw them eyeing us, and predicted to my coworker that we were going to get carded…sucks to be right). Once again, when asked why they were doing the check they blamed it on anti-terrorism procedures, though they were quick to assure us that of course they didn’t think the two of us were terrorists, but they needed to go through the motions. I responded that I felt it was an invasion of privacy, which caused them to get a bit stone-faced. I then asked “shinakutemo ii desu ka”, and they hemmed and hawed a bit, but eventually walked away.

Late January: I didn’t get stopped this time, but I also had a Japanese coworker with me in addition to my caucasian coworker. We were in the departure lobby most of the time, and we didn’t notice any patrolling officers.

Today [January 31]: I was picking up yet another intern, and decided to do a bit of informal research. I stood by where people exit from customs, but well away from the general flow of traffic, while holding a sign with the intern’s name on it an my headphones securely over my ears. I think my general location and demeanor discouraged any officers from coming over to check me, every other time I had been stopped I was in a high traffic area and did not have any “barriers” to starting a conversation. However, I was in a great spot to observe what the three officers posted in the area were doing for the half an hour I was waiting.

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!  Ariel

ENDS

In Canada most of February. Debito.org updated less often.

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Hi Blog.  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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Japan Times: Immigration dropping social insurance requirement for visa renewal

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Hi Blog.  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 (which does have an excellent summary of the issues here) has in this issue, et al.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

The Japan Times Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010
New visa rule on insurance to be deleted
Aim is to ease foreigners’ concerns (excerpt)
By MINORU MATSUTANI Staff writer

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100202a1.html

The Immigration Bureau is planning to change a new guideline for foreign residents to ease concerns that those without social insurance will be forced to choose between losing their visa and entering the insurance system, a bureau official said Monday.

But some foreigners warn the move won’t be enough to entirely free them of the risk of being forced to enter the insurance system.

The wording of the guideline, which is to be enforced April 1, currently stipulates that foreign residents must present their health insurance card when reporting changes to or renewing their residential status. It is the last of the guideline’s eight items.

“The bureau will delete item No. 8 by the end of March, and ‘lightly mention’ the need to present a health insurance card in the introductory passage of the guideline,” Immigration Bureau spokesman Yoshikazu Iimura told The Japan Times. “The wording will be in a manner to eliminate foreign residents’ concerns that their visas won’t be renewed if they don’t have insurance.”

The bureau will try to persuade foreigners who don’t have the card to enter the social insurance system by giving out brochures, but not having the insurance won’t affect the bureau’s decision whether to grant a visa, he said.

Rest of the article at:
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100202a1.html

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

Response from TA:

Letter to the Editor, Japan Times:

Regarding the Immigration Bureau’s decision to rescind its earlier ruling requiring proof of social insurance enrollment for visa renewal: While this may appear to be “good news” in that foreign residents who aren’t currently enrolled will still save some money by not being forced to pay into the social insurance system, it’s wider implication for foreign workers, and what it says about the quality of reporting in “the Japan Times,” is disturbing.

The article states that the reasons foreigners aren’t in the national social insurance system are that they either prefer the services of foreign-oriented clinics that don’t take national health insurance, or that they simply don’t want to pay the social insurance premiums. However, this is disingenuous in that it leaves out other major reasons foreign workers aren’t in the social welfare system; either their employers break the law by not enrolling them at all, or they keep workers hours just below full time, at 29.5 hours. Indeed, it is actually companies who depend on foreign workers that would likely most oppose their enrollment since it would mean employers would have to fulfill their legal obligation to pay half of their health insurance and pension.

In addition, Japan Times is giving unequal time to Ron Kessler [see full article], whose Free Choice Foundation has been found to have ties to a major health insurance provider for foreigners in Japan that would certainly be adversely affected by the original ruling forcing foreign workers into the social insurance system. Leaving aside the ethics of astroturf campaigns, which the Free Choice Foundation appears to be, I do not deny the right of individuals to lobby according to how they perceive their interests. However, Japan Times should balance the views of Mr. Kessler and the Free Choice Foundation with those of organizations like the NUGW-General Union or individuals who support the government making a social safety net that protects all residents of Japan.

There is no doubt that the current social insurance system leaves much to be desired for foreign residents, especially since those enrolled in the government pension system can only get a lump sum of three years of pension payments when they leave, no matter how long they’ve paid in. However, since pension payments are now portable for citizens of the United States, Germany, and other countries that have bilateral pension treaties with Japan, this problem is on its way to being solved.

The problem of underemploying almost-full time workers to escape enrolling them in the social insurance system is more difficult to deal with under the current scheme. However, if there were one national insurance system that all people working in Japan were enrolled in, and into which their employers paid in proportion to hours worked, this problem could be solved as well. Having one national health insurance for all would also solve the Japanese government’s larger problem of getting cash and care for its own citizens, many of whom work part-time, and thus lack employer social insurance contributions.

In the future, here’s hoping the JT will do a better job of reporting the wider issue and its implications, rather than looking just at apparent short-term benefits.
ENDS

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Feb 2, 2010: “NJ suffrage and the racist element”

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justbecauseicon.jpg
The Japan Times February 2, 2010
JUST BE CAUSE, Column 25, Version with links to sources.
Non-Japanese suffrage and the racist element
By ARUDOU DEBITO

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100202ad.html

On Jan. 17, Takeo Hiranuma made this statement about fellow Diet member Renho:

“I hate to say this, but she’s not originally/at heart (motomoto) a Japanese.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=5770

What could have provoked such a harsh criticism of one’s identity?

A simple question Renho, of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, asked mandarins (as is her job) who were requesting more cash: “Why must we aim to develop the world’s No. 1 supercomputer? What’s wrong with being No. 2?” Hiranuma claimed, “This is most imprudent (fukinshin) for a politician to say.”

Is it? I’ve heard far more stupid questions from politicians. Moreover, in this era of deflationary belt-tightening, it seems reasonable to ask the bureaucrats to justify our love.

Being pilloried for asking inappropriate questions is one thing (as “appropriate” is a matter of opinion). But having your interests in the country, and people you represent, called into question because you have non-Japanese (NJ) roots (Renho’s father is Taiwanese, her mother Japanese, and she chose Japanese citizenship) is nothing less than racism, and from a Diet member at that.

Hiranuma predictably backpedaled: First he accused the media of sensationalizing his comments. Then he claimed this was not racial discrimination because Renho has Japanese citizenship.

http://mainichi.jp/select/seiji/news/20100118k0000m010058000c.html

Somebody should explain to Hiranuma the official definition of “racial discrimination,” according to a United Nations treaty the Liberal Democratic Party government ratified in 1996, when he was a Cabinet minister:

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/平沼赳夫#.E5.A4.96.E9.83.A8.E3.83.AA.E3.83.B3.E3.82.AF

“Racial discrimination shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.” (U.N. Convention on Racial Discrimination, Article 1.1)

So, by raising Renho’s descent/ethnicity/national origin in questioning her credentials, Hiranuma is guilty as charged.

But there is a larger issue here. Hiranuma’s outburst is symptomatic of the curious degree of power the ultrarightists have in Japan.

Remember, this is the same Hiranuma who helped scuttle a human rights bill in 2006, headlining a book titled, “Danger! The Imminent Threat of the Totalitarianism of the Developed Countries.” Within it he claimed, “This human rights bill will exterminate (horobosu) Japan.”

http://debito.org/abunaijinkenyougohouan.html

This is also the same politician who declared in 2006 that Japan should not have a female Empress, for she might “marry a blue-eyed foreigner” and spawn the next Emperor — managing to double-dip racism into sexism and misogyny. (Why assume women are more susceptible to rapacious NJ than male heirs to the throne?)

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20060202a2.html

Hiranuma wasn’t so lucky in 2008 when trying to stop a bill revising the Nationality Law, fixing paternity recognition loopholes our Supreme Court had ruled unconstitutional mere months earlier. He argued that granting bastard children Japanese citizenship would dilute “Japan’s identity.”

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20081127a1.html

But he’s still at it: The Hiranuma hobbyhorse is currently rocking against the proposal of granting suffrage in local elections to NJ with Permanent Residency (PR), which may pass the Diet this year.

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).

http://www.debito.org/?p=1681

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.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20091201i1.html
http://magnesiumagency.com/2010/01/24/no-local-suffrage-for-foreigners-in-japan-shibuya-protest/

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. Okinawa will become another Chinese province. Beijing will control our government. Even Hiranuma claims South Korea will annex the Tsushima Islands. The outside world is a perpetual threat to Japan.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5353
http://www.tokyo-shinsei.jp/2201.html

This camp says that if NJ want the right to vote, they should naturalize. Sounds reasonable, but I know from personal experience it’s not that simple (the application procedure can be arbitrary enough to disqualify many Japanese). This neutralizes the Alien Threat, somehow.

But by criticizing Renho for her NJ roots, Hiranuma exposed the naturalization demand as a lie.

Renho has taken Japanese citizenship, moreover graduated from one of Japan’s top universities, became a member of Japanese society as a famous newscaster and journalist, and even gotten elected by fellow Japanese to Parliament.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren_Hou
http://www.debito.org/residentspage.html#naturalization

But to Hiranuma, that doesn’t matter. Renho is still a foreigner — in origin if not at heart — and always will be.

This is where Hiranuma and company’s doctrinaire bigotry lies. You can’t trust The Alien no matter what they do, especially if they don’t do what Real Japanese tell them to do.

Why is this expression of racism so blatant in Japan? Because minorities are so disenfranchised in our political marketplace of ideas. In any marketplace (be it of products or ideas), if you have any barriers to entry, you get extremes and aberrations (be it in prices or views). Open the market, and things tend to correct themselves.

That is what these zealots are most afraid of: not merely The Alien, more the loss of the ability to attract votes by whipping up public fear. Let The Alien in, and those on the cosseted ideological extremes would have to be more tolerant of, if not appeal to, a newly enfranchised section of Japan’s electorate with more diverse interests.

That’s the best argument yet for giving NJ with PR the vote: to reduce the power of Japan’s xenophobic fringe, and rid our polity of these racists and bigots. Make it so that next time a Hiranuma makes racist statements, those affected will have the chance to vote him out of office.

—————————

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

ENDS

UK journalist seeks interviews with Asian NJ wives in rural Japan

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Hi All. A UK journalist would like to get in touch with Asian NJ wives in rural Japan. Forwarding the below with permission. Please feel free to contact her directly at helen AT helencroydon DOT com, and to forward this email around. Thanks very much. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Begin forwarded message:

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

From: Helen Croydon
Date: February 2, 2010 1:30:48 AM JST
Subject: ASIAN FOREIGN WIVES IN RURAL JAPAN

Hi Arudou Debito. 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.

I wonder if you have any literature/information/past postings on your site about the issue.

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.

I actually lived in Nagano city in 1995 and then in Yamaguchi in 1999. I studied Japanese at university and spent two years there as a student (though I have totally forgotten everything but the very basic Nihongo now!). I am planning to visit Japan at the end of Feb/beginning of March and so would appreciate any leads on lines of research, or any contact details of relevant contacts and case studies.

I appreciate your help on this. If you would prefer to talk to me, rather than email let me know a telephone number and I will happily give you a call. Best, Helen
………..
Helen Croydon
Freelance Journalist & Producer
Email: helen@helencroydon.com
www.helencroydon.com
ENDS

International community serves demarche to MOFA re Int’l Child Abductions Issue, Jan 30 2010

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Hi Blog.  Some pressure at the highest levels of government regarding the Child Abductions case.  Good news indeed.  Have a read of a number of press materials below.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Japan urged to resolve child custody disputes
(Mainichi Japan) January 30, 2010, Courtesy of AS

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20100130p2g00m0dm036000c.html

TOKYO (AP) — Ambassadors from the U.S. and seven other countries on Saturday urged Tokyo to resolve legal custody issues that keep foreign parents from visiting their children in Japan.

Under Japanese law, a single parent gains full custody of children in divorce cases, and it is usually the mother. This leaves many fathers cut off from their children until they are grown.

In addition, Japan has not signed on to a global treaty on child abduction. So when international marriages go sour, Japanese mothers can bring their children home and refuse any contact with foreign ex-husbands, regardless of custody rulings in other countries.

The long-standing issue gained increased attention last year, when American Christopher Savoie was arrested in Japan after his Japanese ex-wife accused him of taking their two children as they went to school. Amid accusations of kidnapping from both sides, Savoie was eventually released and allowed to leave the country, on condition he leave his children behind.

On Saturday, U.S. Ambassador John Roos, together with ambassadors and envoys from Australia, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and Spain met with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada to discuss the issue.

They emphasized the welfare of children involved in such disputes, saying they should have access to both parents, said a joint statement issued after the meeting. The ambassadors urged Japan to sign the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, which all eight countries have done.

“We also urged Japan to identify and implement interim measures to enable parents who are separated from their children to maintain contact with them and ensure visitation rights, and to establish a framework for resolution of current child abduction cases,” the statement said.

Japan’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying Okada explained that Tokyo recognized the importance of the issue and was working toward a resolution.

Tokyo has argued in the past that signing the convention could endanger Japanese women and their children who have fled from abusive foreign husbands.
ENDS

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From PW:

Hi Debito, I hope you’re doing well. Not sure if you heard. 8 embassies served a demarche on the MOFA this past Saturday regarding Child Abductions.

Note the last sentence in this report about award the child to the Japanese grandparents.

Eight countries press Japan on parental abductions
(AFP) – Saturday January 30, 2010

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h9hKCzas2eQXSES98OCG-gOWVPoQ?index=0

TOKYO — Envoys of eight countries met the Japanese foreign minister Saturday 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 ambassadors visited the foreign ministry to “submit our concerns over the increase of international parental abduction cases involving Japan and affecting our nationals,” they said in a joint statement.

“Currently the left-behind parents of children abducted to or from Japan have little hope of having their children returned,” said the statement.

Such parents “encounter great difficulties in obtaining access to their children and exercising their parental rights and responsibilities,” it said.

“This is a very serious issue, to which we have to find a solution,” said Okada as he received the delegation including French ambassador Philippe Faure and US envoy John Roos.

“This comes from the different legal systems between Japan and the countries of North America and Europe,” Okada said.

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.

The United States has said it has listed cases of more than 100 children abducted by a parent from the United States and taken to Japan.

Japanese courts usually award child custody in divorce cases to just one parent, usually the mother, rather than reaching joint custody agreements with parental visitation rights.

Japanese courts also habitually side with the Japanese parent in an international custody dispute — sometimes even awarding a child’s Japanese grandparents custody rights over a foreign parent.

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TBS broadcast:
http://news.tbs.co.jp/20100130/newseye/tbs_newseye4344136.html

子供連れ去り対処、8大使が要望

国際離婚に伴う子供の連れ去りに対処するハーグ条約をめぐり、アメリカ、フランスなど8か国の大使らが、そろって岡田外務大臣のもとを訪れ、日本も条約に加盟するよう要望しました。

ハーグ条約は、国際結婚したカップルが離婚した際に、片方の親が子供を自分の母国に一方的に連れ帰るなどの事例に対処するもので、政府を通じて子供の返還や面会の請求が出来る仕組みになっています。

この条約には現在、欧米などおよそ80か国が加盟していますが、親権に対する考え方の違いなどから日本は加盟していません。このため、日本人が当事者となるトラブルが相次いでいるとして、アメリカやイギリス、フランスなど8か国の大使らが岡田外務大臣に面会し、条約に加盟するよう要望しました。

岡田大臣は、「非常に深刻な問題だ」とする一方、「欧米と日本での法制度の違いにも起因している問題だ」と述べ、慎重な姿勢を示しました。(30日17:39)

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Kyodo News about Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell to raise the issue of child abductions with his counterparts today.

国際親権問題で日本に懸念伝達へ 米国務次官補
2010/01/30 09:11 【共同通信】
http://www.47news.jp/CN/201001/CN2010013001000089.html
【ワシントン共同】キャンベル米国務次官補は29日、国際結婚が破綻するなどして子どもを日本人の元配偶者に「拉致」され、親権を侵害されたと訴える米国人の男女約30人とワシントンで面会した。次官補は面会後「彼らの精神的苦痛をどう軽減できるか日本側と話し合う」と述べ、2月1日からの訪日で外務省などに懸念を伝える考えを示した。

面会は非公開で、国務省からジェイコブズ次官補(領事担当)も参加。出席者によると、国務省側は今月、日本に担当者を派遣し、日米間で意見交換を続けていると説明したという。

面会を終えたキャンベル氏は、居どころ不明や別れた相手に拒否されてわが子に会えない事態を「悲劇だ」とし、子どもの連れ去りに対処する「ハーグ条約」への日本の加盟や個別のケースの解決を親たちは望んでいると説明。

福岡県で昨年9月、日本人の元妻が米国から連れ帰った子ども2人を取り戻そうとして未成年者略取容疑で逮捕され、その後起訴猶予となった日米二重国籍の男性(39)も参加した。

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Press release from the US embassy about an earlier meeting with MOFA renewing request to sign the Hague and resolve existing cases.

PRESS RELEASE
U.S. Renews Call for Japan to Accede to Hague Convention Concerning International Child Abduction
January 22, 2010

http://tokyo.usembassy.gov/e/p/tp-20100122-72.html

Officials from the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. State Department met today in Tokyo with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and once again called for Japan to accede to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The meeting was held in the context of a working group established to address issues related to cross-border child custody issues, including the removal of American children from the United States to Japan without the prior consent or knowledge of American parents and the inability of American parents to have any meaningful access to their abducted children in Japan. More than 75 American parents and their children are victims of these situations in Japan. Many citizens of other countries are also affected.

The U.S. government places the highest priority on the welfare of children who are victims of international parental child abduction and strongly believes that children should grow up with access to both parents even after the collapse of a marriage.

The U.S. government hopes that that the working group will provide a means to improve American parents’ access to and visitation with their children; facilitate visits with children by U.S. consular officers; and explore ways to resolve current child abduction cases. While renewing its call for Japan to accede to the Hague Convention, the U.S. government looks forward to working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the working group on these important matters. The U.S. government will also continue working with other like-minded countries that have been affected by this problem in Japan.

For reference:
Link to the latest US Embassy online magazine that is devoted entirely to the child abduction issue:

Winter 2010 “American View”
Joint Press Statement Following the Symposium on International Parental Child Abduction (Canada, France, UK, United States) – Tokyo, May 21, 2009

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FYI the embassy’s press release:

PRESS RELEASE
Joint Press Statement (International Child Abduction – Eight Nations)
By the Ambassadors of Australia, Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States
Tokyo, Japan, January 30, 2010

http://tokyo.usembassy.gov/e/p/tp-20100130-74.html

We, the Ambassadors to Japan of Australia, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, the Charges d’Affaires a.i. of Canada and Spain and the Deputy Head of Mission of Italy, called on Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs today to submit our concerns over the increase of international parental abduction cases involving Japan and affecting our nationals, and to urge Japan to sign the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“the Convention”).

The Convention seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention across international borders, which can be a tragedy for all concerned. The Convention further establishes procedures to ensure the prompt return of children to the State of their habitual residence when wrongfully removed or retained. It also secures protection for rights of access to both parents to their children. To date, over 80 countries have acceded to the Convention, including the eight countries which jointly carried out today’s demarche.

Japan is the only G-7 nation that has not signed the Convention. Currently the left-behind parents of children abducted to or from Japan have little hope of having their children returned and encounter great difficulties in obtaining access to their children and exercising their parental rights and responsibilities.

In our meeting with Japan’s Foreign Minister Okada, we reiterated that we place the highest priority on the welfare of children who have been the victims of international parental child abduction, and stressed that the children should grow up with access to both parents. We signalled our encouragement at recent positive initiatives by the Government of Japan, such as the establishment of the Division for Issues Related to Child Custody within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the same time repeating calls for Japan to accede to the Convention, which would also benefit left-behind parents of Japanese origin. We also urged Japan to identify and implement interim measures to enable parents who are separated from their children to maintain contact with them and ensure visitation rights, and to establish a framework for resolution of current child abduction cases.

Japan is an important friend and partner for each of our countries, and we share many values. We believe this can and should serve as the basis for developing solutions now to all cases of parental child abduction in Japan. In common with our demarche to Justice Minister Chiba on October 16, 2009, we extended an offer to Foreign Minister Okada to continue to work closely and in a positive manner with the Japanese government on this critical issue.

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 1, 2010

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Hi All. Before I get underway with this Newsletter, please let me advise:

My latest Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column comes out tomorrow Tues (Weds in the ruralities) February 2, 2010. The topic: The racism of Dietmember Hiranuma towards fellow Dietmember Renho, and how it lays bare the lie of the xenophobic Rightists saying that naturalization ever matters. (Sneak preview below in item #4).

Get a copy tomorrow!

Now for the:
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 1, 2010

Table of Contents:
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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? http://www.debito.org/?p=5839
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.

TANGENTS
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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By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org) in Sapporo, Japan
Daily blog updates, RSS, and subscriptions to this Newsletter at www.debito.org.
Twitter arudoudebito. Freely Forwardable

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PROMISES OF REFORM

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5791

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5787

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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”?”

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?

http://www.debito.org/?p=5746

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THINGS THAT NEED REFORM

4) Racist statements from Xenophobe Dietmember Hiranuma re naturalized J Dietmember

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?”

http://www.debito.org/?p=5770

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5835

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5745

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7) Taikibansei & Cabby on mixed experiences of visa treatment depending on location of Immigration Office. What about others?

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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=5839

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

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…?

http://www.debito.org/?p=5780

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5855

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TANGENTS

10) Economist article excerpt on being foreign worldwide

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…”

http://www.debito.org/?p=5713

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11) Gallup Poll says 700 million desire to migrate permanently

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5763

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12) Economist passim on “Global Creativity Index”, which ranks Japan over USA in terms of creativity

Also 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5759

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

As the Japanese media was blitzing in mid-January (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:

http://www.debito.org/?p=5766

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14) Tidy free FCCJ Scholarship up for grabs, deadline Feb 15

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5842

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… and finally …

15) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST FEBRUARY 1, 2010 (from Debito.org and iTunes)

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:

1. Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 6, “The Case for ‘Gaijin’ as a Racist Word” (August 5, 2008).
2. Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 7, “The Case for ‘Gaijin’ as a Racist Word, Part Two” (September 2, 2008)
3. 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5878

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All for this month. I will be in Canada for most of February (Calgary and Edmonton), so it’ll be a few weeks before I send out another Newsletter. The Debito.org Blog, as always, will be active.

Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org) in Sapporo, Japan
Daily blog updates, RSS, and subscriptions to this Newsletter at www.debito.org.
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 1, 2010 ENDS

DEBITO.ORG PODCAST FEBRUARY 1, 2010

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

  1. Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 6, “The Case for ‘Gaijin’ as a Racist Word” (August 5, 2008).
  2. Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 7, “The Case for ‘Gaijin’ as a Racist Word, Part Two” (September 2, 2008)
  3. 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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo