Archive for March, 2010
Posted by debito on 31st March 2010
PRESS RELEASE MARCH 31, 2010: UN MIGRANTS RIGHTS EXPERT URGES JAPAN TO INCREASE PROTECTION OF MIGRANTS (excerpt)
TOKYO – The UN expert on migrants’ human rights on Wednesday praised Japan for some of the measures it has taken to alleviate the impact of the economic crisis on migrants, but, based on information provided by civil society, he noted that it is still facing a range of challenges, including racism and discrimination, exploitation, a tendency by the judiciary and police to ignore their rights and the overall lack of a comprehensive immigration policy that incorporates human rights protection…
The Special Rapporteur said, many challenges still need to be addressed by the Government in order to protect the human rights of migrants and their children. He listed some of the most important, along with some preliminary recommendations on how to improve the situation:
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Practical advice, 日本語 | 10 Comments »
Posted by debito on 31st March 2010
(Debito.org) TOKYO MARCH 31, 2010 — Dr Jorge A. Bustamante, United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants, gave an hourlong press conference at United Nations Information Center, United Nations University, Japan.
Assisted by the International Organization for Migration and Japan’s civil society groups, Dr Bustamante concluded nine days, March 23 to March 30, of a fact-finding mission around Japan, making stops in Tokyo, Yokohama, Hamamatsu, and Toyoda City. He met with representatives of various groups, including Zainichi Koreans, Chinese, Brazilians, Filipinos, women immigrants and their children, “Newcomer” immigrant and migrant Non-Japanese, and veterans of Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers.
He also met with Japanese government representatives, including the ministries of Education, Foreign Affairs, and Justice. He also met with local government officials in Hamamatsu City (including the Hamamatsu “Hello Work “ Unemployment Agency), the mayor of Toyoda City, and others.
He debriefed the Japanese Government today before his press conference.
The press conference can be heard in its entirety, from Dr Bustamante’s entrance to his exit, on the DEBITO.ORG PODCAST MARCH 31, 2010, downloadable from this blog entry. Duration: One hour five minutes. Unedited. I ask a question around minute 40.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Media, Podcasts, United Nations | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 30th March 2010
My FRANCA speech yesterday for JIPI went very well, with me reading my slides in Japanese probably the most comfortably ever (I felt I was really “in the zone”). This blog entry is to make my powerpoint presentation public for download:
About 120 slides in Japanese (not all are visible, I hid about a third), making the case that Japan needs immigration, and presenting things in terms of “give and take” — what the GOJ must offer immigrants to make them come and stay, and what immigrants must do to make themselves assimilatable and contributing to this society.
I’ll have some photos from the event up shortly; forgot my card reader today.
I’ll also be at JIPI most of the time every day until Saturday. If you’d like to have a chat with Mr Sakanaka with an introduction from me, do be in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) and drop by.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, FRANCA, Immigration & Assimilation, Practical advice, Speech materials, 日本語 | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 30th March 2010
Success at last, for some. For less than one percent of all the NJ nurses brought over on a special trilateral visa program, to help care for Japan’s aging society, we have some overcoming quite difficult hurdles to stay — including passing a difficult Japanese nursing exam within three years that challenges even native speakers. For the overwhelming majority of NJ, however, it’s bye bye and thanks for your three years of unsupported toil, and we look forward to replacing you with more dupes on yet another GOJ revolving-door work visa plan. More on the difficulties of the nursing program in the words of the nurses themselves on Debito.org here.
Yomiuri: Two Indonesians and one Filipina have become the first foreign nurses to pass Japan’s national nursing qualification test after work experience at Japanese hospitals under economic partnership agreements, the health ministry said Friday.
The three are among the 370 foreign nurses who have visited this country under an EPA-related project launched in fiscal 2008, hoping to pass the nursing exam after receiving Japanese-language training and gaining working experience under the supervision of Japanese nurses.
In 2009, 82 foreign nurses took the exam, but all failed. This year, 254 such nurses applied for the test, with the two Indonesians and one Filipina passing it, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.
Posted in Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 7 Comments »
Posted by debito on 29th March 2010
The Japan Times reported UN Special Rapporteur Bustamante’s interim comments during his current-two-week fact-finding mission to Japan, particularly as pertains to the GOJ visa system that deports people even if it means splitting apart families (cf. the Calderon Noriko Case).
Dr Bustamante takes a very dim view of this:
“It’s going to be made public,” Bustamante told the gathering. “And this, of course, might result in an embarrassment for the government of Japan and therefore certain pressure (will be) put on the government of Japan.”
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Immigration & Assimilation, Injustice, Japanese Government, United Nations | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 28th March 2010
Here is an abridged version of the NGO FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association) minutes I sent out today, regarding our exceptional Tokyo meeting last night in International House, Roppongi. It was a full house, with fifteen attendees, four of whom became dues-paying members. People attending were from a variety of backgrounds, from corporate to techie to journalist to academic to relative newcomer.
We got a lot discussed. We had so many voices describing their experiences in Japan (from employment issues to bike and passport checks to child abductions to domestic politics) that it was difficult to get through my powerpoint! (I did, and you can download it revised at http://www.debito.org/FRANCA.ppt.
We added to the list of possible FRANCA future projects:
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, FRANCA | 2 Comments »
Posted by debito on 28th March 2010
Japan Times: A Japan Tourism Agency panel headed by Vice Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Kiyomi Tsujimoto is currently discussing ways to divide the nation into five different zones whose Golden Week holidays would be staggered by zone. The panel is also calling for the creation of a five-day holiday in the autumn — a so-called Silver Week — that would again be staggered by region and spread over five different periods.
In one of the two proposals on the table, Golden Week and Silver Week would be spread over five weeks, instead of one week; while the other proposal would, more confusingly, see the five zonal Golden Week and Silver Week periods overlapping each other a little to occupy a total span of 2 1/2 weeks each.
The agency’s logic goes like this. If people travel at different times, the yawning gap in travel costs between the peak and off-peak seasons would become smaller, making tourism affordable for more people. Tourists would also likely enjoy their vacations more, as they would experience less frustrationg congestion, and so they would feel more inclined to travel more frequently and thus end up pumping more money into the tourism-related sectors of the economy. This would also help to stabilize the employment of people working in these sectors.
Posted in Cultural Issue, Japanese Government, Media, Tangents | 15 Comments »
Posted by debito on 27th March 2010
What follows is a speech by Mr RYOM Munsong, read and presented to UN Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants, Dr. Jorge Bustamante, just before I did on March 23 (my speech here). I have offered Debito.org as a space for Japan’s presenting NGOs to release their information to the general reading public. Read on.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Education, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Speech materials, United Nations | 12 Comments »
Posted by debito on 26th March 2010
I’m currently at work at JIPI on my presentation for next Monday evening on why Japan needs immigration, and what Japan must do to bring it about.
I’ve made a list of the Merits and Demerits of Immigration, and will deal with each one in turn in my powerpoint. Plus I will talk about the issue in terms of a “give and take”, as in what the GOJ must give to Immigrants, and what Immigrants must be willing to give back to Japanese society in return.
I have plenty of ideas, of course. But let me ask Debito.org Readers for feedback on the above issues:
What are the merits of immigration?
What are the demerits of immigration?
What should the GOJ give to make Japan more attractive for immigrants?
What should immigrants do to make themselves part of Japan?
It’s a very open question I’m asking, of course. I just don’t want to think about this all alone and miss something important that we all should have said. Fire away.
Posted in Discussions, Immigration & Assimilation, Speech materials | 14 Comments »
Posted by debito on 26th March 2010
I would like to invite you to two more speeches, one Saturday evening, one Monday evening, both in Tokyo. The Saturday evening one will be a FRANCA meeting in the newly-refurbished International House in Roppongi, while the Monday evening one will be a JIPI speech in Japanese on why Japan needs immigration. Details as follows:
Posted in FRANCA, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Speech materials, 日本語 | 1 Comment »
Posted by debito on 25th March 2010
Mr SAKANAKA Hidenori, head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute in Tokyo (http://www.jipi.gr.jp), author of books such as “Nyūkan Senki” and “Towards a Japanese-style Immigration Nation”, is looking for input from Non-Japanese (NJ) long-termers, and immigrants who would like to see Japanese immigration policy (or current lack thereof) head in a better direction?
Mr Sakanaka, former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, has become a leading supporter of immigration to Japan, believing that Japan would be a stronger, more economically-vibrant society if it had a more open and focused immigration policy. More on his thoughts about “Big Japan vs. Small Japan” on Debito.org in English and Japanese here:
Mr Sakanaka wants your ideas and input as how Japan should approach a multicultural future, and (sensibly) believes the best way is to ask people who are part of that multiculture. Please consider getting in touch, if not making an appointment for a conversation, via the contact details at http://www.jipi.gr.jp/access.html, or via email at sakanaka AT jipi DOT gr DOT jp (English and Japanese both OK).
We would like to hold seminars, forums, and other convocations in future, working to make JIPI into a conduit for a dialog between Japan’s policymakers and the NJ communities.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Education, Immigration & Assimilation, Practical advice | 6 Comments »
Posted by debito on 24th March 2010
As you know, as representative of NGO FRANCA I met with Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Dr Jorge A. Bustamante on March 23, 2010. Here’s a briefing:
Starting from 9AM at one of the Diet Lower House meeting rooms, I sat in as Amnesty International Japan and Solidarity with Migrants Japan made their cases about how NJ are being treated badly by the media, the government, and labor policy. Dr Bustamante asked a lot of questions and wanted statistics, particularly about the death rates for migrant workers (we were all surprised; he said that in other developed countries those statistics were available at the government level, something inconceivable to us). After 45 minutes, he went off to meetings with GOJ officials.
We were supposed to meet again for another 45 minutes from 1PM, but Dr Bustamante arrived more than twenty minutes late. (This is a typical GOJ trick so the NGOs get less time; if NGOs go overtime, they become the object of criticism, but if the GOJ goes overtime, nobody complains but the NGOs.) A representative from the Zainichi Koreans, an academic from Korea University (Kodaira, Tokyo) named Mr RYOM Munsong, kept his speech to 12 minutes, I kept mine to twelve as well (we had timers), and mixed our powerpoint with movie and speech.
As far as I went, I was able to squeeze in my full introduction and two of my five bullet issues, then had to skip to the end with the entreaty to not see NJ as “temporary migrant workers” but “immigrants” (read entire speech here). But I was very disappointed that we had virtually no time for Q&A (Dr Bustamante looked tired), and that all that preparation was cut short because we were keeping our promises with the scheduling and the GOJ was not.
Some photos from the proceedings:
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, FRANCA, Human Rights, Japanese Government, United Nations | 18 Comments »
Posted by debito on 23rd March 2010
We had a NGO FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association) meeting last Sunday in Sendai. We’ll be having another one this coming Saturday evening in Tokyo, so if you like what you read below, please consider coming to our meeting and joining our group. FRANCA Chair Arudou Debito gave a presentation on what FRANCA is and what it’s doing. (You can download that presentation at http://www.debito.org/FRANCA.ppt). What follows are some photos and minutes of the meeting.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, FRANCA, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 22nd March 2010
Addendum to yesterday’s post on the Ibaraki Gaijin Tank Hunger Strikers and the upcoming meetings with the government. The Japan Times has put out another article, which I will excerpt from. It also hints at the timing of it, wondering whether it’s due to Special Rapporteur Bustamante (to whom I will be talking tomorrow, wish me luck) visiting Japan. Which means, once he leaves, things go back to the ignored normal? Fortunately, according to the article below, we have some traction within the ruling party on this issue as well, so let’s hope in the end we see progress. Although, as noted before, Japan’s police forces have quite extreme (and unaccountable) powers, especially as regards treatment of NJ, so unless some legal changes are made to this largely extralegal system itself, the amount of oversight necessary in an already abusive system is pretty demanding.
Posted in Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 2 Comments »
Posted by debito on 21st March 2010
Sano-san: The detainees decided to suspend their hunger strike temporarily.
They had dinner on Friday, the 19th.
They have decided two things 1) volunteers and detainees are going to negotiate with the center starting from Tuesday on March, 23rd.
2) if their demands are turned down, they will re-start the hunger strike.
In the background of this, a member of a House of Councilors, Konno Azuma, questioned about the hunger strike to the Minister of Justice (Keiko Chiba) at a national assembly.
He also referred to factual investigation.
Media has picked up the story of the hunger strike, and it strongly influenced the center…
Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 1 Comment »
Posted by debito on 20th March 2010
The following Japan Times article wouldn’t normally be put up on Debito.org yet because the negotiation is ongoing (covering much the same argumentative ground as already reported here), and nothing necessarily decisive has been decided. However, a new development in the USG’s constant-looking pressure on the GOJ to sign the Hague, and do something about its citizens using Japan as a haven for child abductions after divorce, is the fact that somebody official is bothering to answer the GOJ claim that obeying the Hague would mean sending back J children to be endangered by an abusive NJ parent (I’ll take that as a slur, thank you very much). Excerpts from the JT article below.
Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Media | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 19th March 2010
Excerpt: I wish to focus on the situation of peoples of “foreign” origin and appearance, such as White and non-Asian peoples like me, and how we tend to be treated in Japanese society. Put simply, we are not officially registered or even counted sometimes as genuine residents. We are not treated as taxpayers, not protected as consumers, not seen as ethnicities even in the national census. We not even regarded as deserving of the same human rights as Japanese, according to government-sponsored opinion polls and human rights surveys (blue folder items I-1, I-6 and III-6). This view of “foreigner” as “only temporary in Japan” is a blind spot even the United Nations seems to share, but I’ll get that later.
Here is a blue 500-page information folder I will give you after my talk, with primary source materials, articles, reference papers, and testimonials from other people in Japan who would like their voice heard. It will substantiate what I will be saying in summary below.
[...] [I]t is we “Newcomers” who really need the protections of a Japanese law against racial discrimination, because we, the people who are seen because of our skin color as “foreigners” in Japan, are often singled out and targeted for our own special variety of discriminatory treatment.
Here are examples I will talk briefly about now:
1) Discrimination in housing and accommodation
2) Racial Profiling by Japanese Police, through policies officially depicting Non-Japanese as criminals, terrorists, and carriers of infectious disease
3) Refusal to be registered or counted as residents by the Japanese Government
4) “Japanese Only” exclusions in businesses open to the public
5) Objects of unfettered hate speech…
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, FRANCA, GAIJIN HANZAI mag, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Speech materials, United Nations | 25 Comments »
Posted by debito on 18th March 2010
Just to let you know, I’m on the road from early tomorrow morning, with only sporadic email/internet access. I’ll be tooling around Tokyo after Morioka this weekend, so if you want to come see me speak somewhere, here are some venues:
Posted in debito.org blog and website biz | 1 Comment »
Posted by debito on 18th March 2010
The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Committee just issued its latest recommendations to the GOJ on March 16, stating what Japan should be doing to abide by the treaty they effected nearly a decade and a half ago, in 1996.
Guess what: A lot of it is retread (as they admit) of what the CERD Commitee first recommended in 2001 (when Japan submitted its first report, years late), and Japan still hasn’t done.
To me, unsurprising, but it’s still nice to see the UN more than a little sarcastic towards the GOJ’s egregious and even somewhat obnoxious negligence towards international treaties. For example, when it set the deadline for the GOJ’s answer to these recommendations for January 14, 2013, it wrote:
UN: “Noting that the State party report was considerably overdue, the Committee requests the State party to be mindful of the deadline set for the submission of future reports in order to meet its obligations under the Convention.”
Again, some more juicy quotes, then the full report, with issues germane to Debito.org in boldface. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
7. The Committee notes with concern that insufficient information regarding the concrete measures for the implementation of its previous concluding observations (2001) was provided by the State Party and regrets their overall limited implementation as well as that of the Convention as a whole.
9. The Committee notes the State party’s view that a national anti-discrimination law is not necessary and is concerned about the consequent inability of individuals or groups to seek legal redress for discrimination (art. 2). [meaning under current Japanese law, FRANCA cannot sue the Sumo Association for its recent racist rules counting foreign-born sumo wrestlers as foreign even if they naturalize. Nor will Japan allow class-action lawsuits. The UN says this must change.] The Committee reiterates its recommendation from previous concluding observations (2001) and urges the State party to consider adopting specific legislation to outlaw direct and indirect racial discrimination…
13. [...] The Committee reiterates its view that the prohibition of the dissemination of ideas based upon racial superiority or hatred is compatible with freedom of opinion and expression and in this respect, encourages the State party to examine the need to maintain its reservations to article 4 (a) and (b) of the Convention with a view to reducing their scope and preferably their withdrawal. The Committee recalls that the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities, in particular the obligation not to disseminate racist ideas and calls upon the State party once again to take into account the Committee’s general recommendations No. 7 (1985) and No. 15 (1993)…
14. [...] the Committee reiterates its concern from previous concluding observations (2001) that discriminatory statements by public officials persist and regrets the absence of administrative or legal action…
22. (b) [...] the principle of compulsory education is not fully applied to children of foreigners in the State party in conformity with articles 5 (e.v) of the Convention; 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and 13 (2) of the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, all of which Japan is a party;
24. The Committee expresses its concern about cases of difficulty in relations between Japanese and non-Japanese and in particular, cases of race and nationality-based refusals of the right of access to places and services intended for use by the general public, such as restaurants, family public bathhouses, stores and hotels, in violation of article 5 (f) of the Convention (art. 2, 5).
The Committee recommends that the State party counter this generalized attitude through educational activities directed to the population as a whole and that it adopt a national law making illegal the refusal of entry to places open to the public.
29. The Committee encourages the State party to consider making the optional declaration provided for in article 14 of the Convention recognizing the competence of the Committee to receive and consider individual complaints.
Posted in Exclusionism, Good News, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Practical advice, United Nations | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 17th March 2010
Although the issue may be moot due to the DPJ suspending the submission of PR NJ suffrage “for the time being”, here’s an essential fact of the case — what other countries allow non-citizens to vote, and at what level, as of 2006. As you can see, of the select countries (even the US has some local rights for non-citizens), only Japan is absolutist in terms of this sector of civil rights. And the fact that the Japan-born Zainichi “generational foreigners” are also excluded makes Japan a further outlier.
Posted in Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 17 Comments »
Posted by debito on 15th March 2010
What follows is the Table of Contents for an information packet I will be presenting Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Jorge A. Bustamante, who will be visiting Japan and holding hearings on the state of discrimination in Japan. Presented on behalf of our NGO FRANCA (Sendai and Tokyo meetings on Sun Mar 21 and Sat Mar 27 respectively).
It’s a hefty packet of about 500 pages printed off or so, but I will keep a couple of pockets at the back for Debito.org Readers who would like to submit something about discrimination in Japan they think the UN should hear. It can be anonymous, but better would be people who provide contact details about themselves.
Last call for that. Two pages A4 front and back, max (play with the fonts and margins if you like). Please send to email@example.com by NOON JST Thursday March 18, so I can print it on my laser printer and slip it in the back.
Here’s what I’ll be giving as part of an information pack. I haven’t written my 20-minute presentation for March 23 yet, but thanks for all your feedback on that last week, everyone…
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Exclusionism, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, FRANCA, GAIJIN HANZAI mag, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Hokkaido Toyako G8 Summit 2008, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Speech materials, United Nations | 7 Comments »
Posted by debito on 15th March 2010
Following up on some previous Debito.org posts (here and here) on how the debate on NJ PR suffrage has devolved into hate speech, here is how bad it’s getting. We have anonymous flyers appearing in people’s snailmailboxes accusing NJ of being criminals (and linking it to not granting suffrage), fomenting anti-Chinese sentiment with threats of invasion and takeover, and even a book capitalizing on the fear by saying that granting NJ the vote will make Japan disappear. Read on to see scans:
This is why we need laws against hate speech in Japan — to prevent the knock-on effects of fear by anonymous bullies being further fanned by the profit motive and marketing sharks.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Immigration & Assimilation, 日本語 | 20 Comments »
Posted by debito on 14th March 2010
FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association), an NGO founded last year and registered with the Japanese government to look out for the interests of long-term NJ and naturalized Japanese, will be having two meetings this month.
FRANCA Sendai Meeting Sunday, March 21, 2010, 1:30-4:30PM. Place: AER Building next to Sendai station (El Solar Meeting Room 1, 28F), from 13:30 to 16:30. Please attend and bring a friend or the family! More details and contacts at FRANCA Sendai
FRANCA Tokyo Meeting Saturday March 27, 2010; 6PM-9PM International House of Japan 5-11-16 Roppongi Minato-ku, Tokyo Meeting Name – FRANCA How to get there at http://www.i-house.or.jp/en/ihj/access.html
Please consider attending and finding out more about what we can do for each other. I’ll be giving a presentation on what FRANCA is, what it’s done so far, and what we could have it do in future with your help.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, FRANCA, Immigration & Assimilation | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 14th March 2010
Debito.org Reader BT commenting about culture once again being invoked as a defense:
Here’s an interview about Toyota recalls in the US, with “Hideo Kobayashi, a visiting professor at Yokohama National University’s Center for Risk Management and Safety Sciences”. I’m talking specifically about these two quotes:
“Q: Wasn’t Toyota’s confidence in product quality one of the factors that led to its sloppy handling of the situation?
A: Can what people in Japan consider “good quality” be also considered good in the United States, which has a more diversified population?
Japanese people generally have high driving skills and similar physical features. But the United States, whose society was more or less built by immigrants, has people with various physical features and behavioral patterns. To get a driver’s license, you don’t need the sort of skills that are required in Japan..”
(The “we’re superior” routine)
“Q: Some say the reaction to Toyota’s problems has an aspect of “Japan bashing” about it. What is your view?
A: With American companies such as General Motors Corp. going under and Toyota doing well in sales, there naturally is an aspect of Japan bashing. But this is something that has to be overcome.”
(The “poor, poor Japan” routine)…
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Tangents | 28 Comments »
Posted by debito on 13th March 2010
Japan Times: At least 70 detainees at the West Japan Immigration Control Center, which has long been criticized by human rights groups and Diet members, have been on a hunger strike since Monday, center officials and volunteers helping them confirmed Thursday.
Activist Sano-san reports: Our group decided not to use [name deleted's] name on articles that goes to public from now on. He has hepatitis B and has fever since December. Obviously bad health condition. But the center is not taking to him to the hospital, and also did I mention that they share the same razor to shave? We talked to Nishimura at the center, but they denied it , and said that each razor has the number so that the detainee will know which one is his. Detainees said there is no number on the razor. Nishimura also said that razors are sterilized after detainees use them.
Posted in Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 10 Comments »
Posted by debito on 12th March 2010
UNITED NATIONS REVIEWS JAPAN
1) Kyodo: GOJ criticized by UN CERD (once again) for inaction towards racial discrim;
GOJ stresses “discrim not rampant”
2) UN: Transcript of the Japanese Government CERD Review (76th Session), Feb 24 & 25, Geneva.
Point: Same GOJ session tactics as before.
3) UNHCR CERD Recommendation 30 (2004): UN says non-citizens equally protected under treaty and domestic law as citizens
4) UN Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Jorge Bustamante visiting Japan 3/21 – 4/1
SOME ODD DEVELOPMENTS
5) DPJ backs down from suffrage bill for NJ Permanent Residents, as “postponement”. Hah.
6) Emily Homma on Filipina nurses in Japan being abused by GOJ EPA visa program
7) MOJ removes “health insurance” as guideline for visa renewals
SOME ODDER TANGENTS
8 ) Newsweek column: “Toyota and the End of Japan”
9) 2-Channel BBS downed by Korean cyberhackers
10) China Daily publishes snotty anti-laowai article
DEBITO’S MARCH TOUR:
11) Tokyo-Sendai-Shiga Schedule March 19 to April 3
… and finally …
12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column March 2, 2010 on Racist Sumo Kyoukai (full text)
Posted in Newsletters | 2 Comments »
Posted by debito on 12th March 2010
Let me forward something to you about conditions in Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers (better known as “Gaijin Tanks”) — an activist named Sano-san who wants to draw long-overdue attention to widespread abuse of NJ in these notorious extralegal prisons. Link to Japan Times article substantiating Sano-san’s claims follows her email. Reporters, be in touch with her (or me at firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want more information.
The extralegal powers of Japan’s police forces are atrocious, and they are especially bad when people fall completely outside the legal system (as in, NJ detainees not tried and convicted criminals, with a term-limited sentence and minimum prison conditions as stipulated by law; these are people who can be held indefinitely in crowded conditions, without oversight, access to exercise, medical care, hygiene, etc.) They just happen to be NJ (because Gaijin Tanks cannot hold Japanese) and thus remain shrouded in even more secrecy than usual (as people assume they’re full of riffraff trying to come in and take advantage of Rich Citadel Japan) and operate under the media radar. Trying to remedy that.
Sano-san: Ibaraki Detention Center is a very brutal and abusive place to be. Since March 8th, about 80 male detainees are doing hunger strike.
Japan Times: Detainees allege abuse at Kansai holding center
Guards meting out harsh treatment behind the walls of Ibaraki immigration facility, say inmates
Posted in Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 11th March 2010
I just heard yesterday from NGOs concerned with human rights in Japan that I will be part of a group meeting with Mr Jorge Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, on March 23 in Tokyo.
I will have twenty minutes to make a presentation regarding exclusions of NJ in Japan in violation of UN CERD treaty.
Is there anything you’d like me to say? I already have some ideas here (see Chapter 2). But I’m open to suggestions and feedback. If there is anything you would like me to present him, please send me at email@example.com. Please keep submissions concise, under 2 sides of A4 paper (meaning one sheet front and back) when formatted and printed.
To give you some idea of format, I’ve given presentations to UN Rapporteurs before, particularly Dr Doudou Diene back in 2005 and 2006. The archive on that here.
I will of course make the case that the GOJ is being intransigent and unreflective of reality when asserts, again and again, that Japan does not need a law against racial discrimination. And in violation of its international treaty promises.
The floor is open, everyone. Thanks very much for your assistance.
Arudou Debito, Chair, NGO Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (FRANCA)
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Discussions, Exclusionism, FRANCA, Speech materials, United Nations | 34 Comments »
Posted by debito on 10th March 2010
What follows is the full text of the GOJ’s meeting Feb 24-25, 2010, with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, something it faces for review every two years.
Media-digested highlights of this meeting already up on Debito.org here.
Although it was noteworthy for having 14 Japanese delegates from five different ministries (something the UN delegates remarked upon repeatedly), quite frankly, the 2010 session wasn’t much different from the previous two reviews. In that: The CERD Committee tells the GOJ to do something, and the GOJ gives reasons why things can’t change (or offers cosmetic changes as evidence that things are changing; it even cites numerous times the new Hatoyama Government as evidence of change, and as a reason why we can’t say anything conclusive yet about where human rights improvements will happen). The 2008 review was particularly laughable, as it said that Japan was making “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination”. I guess an actual law against racial discrimination isn’t a conceivable measure. As the GOJ delegates say below, it still isn’t. But it is according to the CERD Committee below.
In sum, the biannual to-and-fro has become Grand Kabuki. And while things got bogged down in the standard “minority” questions (Ainu, Ryukyuans, Burakumin, and Zainichis — all worthy causes in themselves, of course), very little time was spent on “Newcomer” minorities, as in, the NJ (or former-NJ) immigrants who are now here long-term. People like me, as in racially-diverse Japanese, aren’t seen as a minority yet, even though we very definitely are by any UN definition. Plus, hardly any time was devoted at all to discussing the “Japanese Only” signs extant throughout Japan for many UN sessions now, the most simple and glaring violation of the CERD yet.
I haven’t the time to critique the whole session text below, but you can look at the 2008 session here (which I did critique) and get much the same idea. I have put certain items of interest to Debito.org in boldface, and here are some pencil-dropping excerpted quotes:
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Education, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Practical advice, United Nations | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 9th March 2010
Here’s a valuable document I unearthed when doing research yesterday. One of the major arguments put forth by nativists seeking to justify discrimination against minorities (or rather, against foreigners in any society) is the argument that foreigners, since they are not citizens, ipso facto don’t have the same rights as citizens, including domestic protections against discrimination. The GOJ has specifically argued this to the United Nations in the past, repeatedly (see for example GOJ 1999, page down to Introduction, section 3). However, the UN, in a clarification of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has made it clear that non-citizens are supposed to be afforded the same protections under the CERD as citizens. To quote the most clear and concise bit:
II. Measures of a general nature
7. Ensure that legislative guarantees against racial discrimination apply to non-citizens regardless of their immigration status, and that the implementation of legislation does not have a discriminatory effect on non-citizens;
This was issued way back in 2004. I’m reading a transcript of the discussions between the GOJ and the CERD Committee review during their review Feb 24-25 2010 (in which it was referred, and even mentioned granting foreigners suffrage not beyond the pale of rights to be granted). I’ll have the full text of that up on Debito.org tomorrow with some highlighting. Meanwhile, enjoy this gem. Something else for the GOJ to ignore.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Practical advice, United Nations | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 8th March 2010
Newsweek’s Devin Stewart: Japan was morbidly fascinated by the spectacle of Toyota president Akio Toyoda apologizing to the U.S. Congress for the deadly defects that led to the recall of 10 million of its cars worldwide. The appearance of the “de facto captain of this nation’s manufacturing industry,” as Japan’s largest newspaper referred to Toyoda, seemed to symbolize a new bottom for a nation in decline. Once feared and admired in the West, Japan has stumbled for decades through a series of lackluster leaders and dashed hopes of revival. This year, Japan will be overtaken by China as the world’s second-largest economy. Through it all, though, Japan could cling to one vestige of its former prestige: Toyota—the global gold standard for manufacturing quality.
And now this. Toyota is getting lampooned all over the world in cartoons about runaway cars. Japan’s reputation for manufacturing excellence, nurtured for half a century, is now in question. Shielded by the U.S. defense umbrella after World War II, Japan focused its energy and money on building up only one aspect of national power: quality manufacturing. A foreign policy commensurate with Japan’s economic strength was subordinated to industrial policies aimed at creating the world’s best export factories. No matter how quickly Chinese and South Korean rivals grew, Japan could argue that its key competitive advantage was the quality of its brands. “Toyota was a symbol of recovery during our long recession,” says Ryo Sahashi, a public-policy expert at the University of Tokyo. Now Toyota’s trouble “has damaged confidence in Japanese business models and the economy at a time when China is surpassing us.”…
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Japanese Government, Tangents | 14 Comments »
Posted by debito on 7th March 2010
Debito.org Reader R: I found this article in China Daily online the other day and thought:
- there is discrimination in Japan, but hopefully it won’t get as obvious as the tone of this article. Can you imagine this kind of article about “Gaijin” in Japan (FYI, Laowai means Gaijin in China) published in a serious english newspaper, like Japan Times for example ?
- this article reminded me of your work. unfortunately we have nobody like you in China to prevent that kind of article from being published Because the truth is I was very shocked by the tone if this article and how it pictures white people living in China.
Well, I know it doesn’t talk about Japan at all, but I thought you could be interested by what happens in our neighbour country…
Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Tangents | 20 Comments »
Posted by debito on 6th March 2010
As a Weekend Tangent, we have the lair of bullies and libelers, Internet BBS “2-Channel”, getting something back for their nastiness — a hack attack taking them down. Sometimes when legal channels are ineffective to stop illegal activity (such as libel), there is no choice but to use extralegal means, as the Koreans did below. Compare it with the Right-Wing J sound trucks that went after Brazilians at Homi Danchi, and got firebombed for their trouble. Couldn’t have happened to nicer people, even though the big, big fish, Nishimura, has long since jumped ship. Here’s hoping the Internet nits are stupid enough to attack some real domestic powers and finally have some laws against their activities created. More of my opinions about 2-Channel here. Debito.org’s complete archive here.
Posted in ２ちゃんねる, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., Tangents | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 5th March 2010
MARCH-APRIL 2010 SCHEDULE
FRI MAR 19 MORIOKA
SAT MAR 20 MORIOKA
SUN MAR 21 SENDAI FRANCA MEETING 1PM
MON MAR 22 TOKYO
TUES MAR 23 TOKYO INTERNING JPN IMMIG POLICY INSTITUTE
WED MAR 24 INTERNING JIPI, MEETING 7PM
THURS MAR 25 SHIGA UNIVERSITY SPEECH 1:30PM-5PM
FRI MAR 26 INTERNING JIPI
SAT MAR 27 TOKYO FRANCA MEETING 6PM-9PM
SUN MAR 28 free day as yet
MON MAR 29 INTERNING JIPI, JIPI SPEECH 7PM-9:30 PM
TUES MAR 30 INTERNING JIPI
WEDS MAR 31 INTERNING JIPI
THURS APR 1 INTERNING JIPI
FRI APR 2 INTERNING JIPI last day
SAT APR 3 return to Sapporo
If you are in the area and have time, do stop by or get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) for some beers etc. Still open for speeches (I’m doing all this at my own expense) if something can be thrown together at short notice.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Speech materials | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 5th March 2010
Time for some good news, for a change. After some negotiations, the MOJ has dropped the requirement that people be enrolled in Japanese health insurance programs. So sez Freechoice.jp below.
Now, while I acknowledge that this source has a conflict of interest (being funded by the very overseas agencies that want to sell health insurance, meaning their motives are not altruistic; its claim that they are the only news source on this is a bit suss too, given the Japan Times reported this development last February), this requirement for visas would have forced many people, who hadn’t paid in due to negligent employers, to back pay a lot of money just for a visa renewal. That it is no longer a requirement is good news, and now that we have formal acknowledgment of such in writing from the GOJ is the final nail.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Gaiatsu, Good News, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 30 Comments »
Posted by debito on 4th March 2010
Mainichi: The government has abandoned proposing a bill to grant local voting rights to permanent foreign residents in Japan during the current Diet session, in the face of intense opposition from coalition partner People’s New Party (PNP).
“It’s extremely difficult for the government to sponsor such a bill due to differences over the issue between the ruling coalition partners,” said Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi…
PNP leader and Minister of State for Financial Services Shizuka Kamei stressed his strong opposition against the measure, saying his party would not allow the enactment of the suffrage bill.
Moreover, the DPJ itself seems to be split over the issue. Although the foreign suffrage bill is an “important bill” that DPJ Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa has been promoting, a forceful submission of the bill could cause a rift within the party, and the discussion over the matter has stalled.
Posted in Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Politics, 日本語 | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 3rd March 2010
The Japan Sumo Association announced on Feb. 23 that it would limit sumo stables to one foreign wrestler each. Since there are only 52 stables, and only about 800 sumo wrestlers in total registered with the JSA, this funnels things down considerably.
Worse, the JSA will now define “foreign” as “foreign-born” (gaikoku shusshin), meaning even naturalized Japanese citizens will be counted as “foreign.” This, according to the Yomiuri, closes a “loophole” (nukemichi).
Sorry folks, but this rule is unlawful under Japan’s Nationality Law, not to mention the Constitution. Neither allows distinctions between foreign-born and Japanese-born citizens. Under the law, a Japanese is a Japanese — otherwise, what is the point of naturalizing?
OK then, how about unleveling the playing field overseas for sports that Japanese are good at? Limit, say, American Major League Baseball teams to one Japanese player — even if they take American citizenship? If you really want to get pernickety, you can say that Americans of Japanese extraction are also “Japanese,” kinda like two governments famously did for Japanese- Americans and Japanese-Canadians during World War II when deciding whom to send to internment camps. No doubt that would occasion outcries of racism by the Japanese media, the watchdogs for how Japanese are treated overseas (yet significantly less so regarding how NJ are treated in Japan).
But that wouldn’t be good for the sport. Talent in athletes spans borders. More than a quarter of all active baseball players in the U.S. (28.4 percent) were foreign-born in 2009. That’s a good thing. If you want to have a healthy sport, you get the best of the best competing in it. Everyone given a sporting chance, regardless of nationality or birth.
But hey, that’s not the concern of now-bona-fide certified racist institutions like the JSA. All they want is for Japanese to win.
Posted in Articles & Publications, Exclusionism, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Sport | 14 Comments »
Posted by debito on 2nd March 2010
Emily Homma reports: “EPA Foreign Nurses and Caregivers Working in Japan Urgently Need Help
The Economic Partnership Agreement of Japan (EPA) with other countries, especially with the Philippines (JPEPA), has placed many Filipino nurses and caregivers working in Japan in a miserable situation where they are subjected to unfair labor practices, extreme pressure to study kanji, and poor salaries.
When they arrived in Japan in May 2009, the Filipino nurses and caregivers were glad to be finally given the opportunity to serve Japanese society as hospital workers. However, after only six months of Nihongo study and three months of hospital work in hospital, the Filipino nurses along with their Indonesian counterparts have been suffering from various hardships not only from unfair work policies, low salaries, and local workers’ rejection but also from strong pressure to master medical-nursing kanji and the Japan nursing system. It is a system that, unfortunately for the foreign workers, only those with high level-Grade 12 Japanese training or nursing graduates could understand.
Specifically, the Filipino nurses find themselves in the following extremely frustrating situations that leave them no choice but contemplate leaving Japan soon:…
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 34 Comments »
Posted by debito on 1st March 2010
Just a quick word today to let people know my latest Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column comes out tomorrow morning (Weds in the provinces), on the racist decision by the Japan Sumo Association to limit sumo stables to one “foreigner”, and determine “foreigner” by place of birth (regardless of naturalization). It’s a more sophisticated version of the angry blog entry I did on this last week. Get a copy!
Posted in Articles & Publications | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 1st March 2010
Here we have some preliminary reports coming out of Geneva regarding the UN CERD Committee’s review of Japan’s human rights record vis-a-vis racial discrimination. We have the GOJ claiming no “rampant discrimination”, and stressing that we still need no law against RD for the same old reasons. This despite the rampant discrimination that NGOs are pointing out in independent reports. Read on.
Excerpts: (Kyodo)—Japan does not need laws to combat racial discrimination, a Japanese official said Thursday as Japan’s racism record was examined by the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
“Punitive legislation on racial discrimination may hamper legitimate discourse,” Mitsuko Shino of the Japanese Foreign Ministry told a session in Geneva. “And I don’t think the situation in Japan is one of rampant discrimination, so we will not be examining this now.”…
[UN official] Thornberry particularly criticized Japan’s lack of laws to combat hate speech, saying “in international law, freedom of expression is not unlimited.”
The convention commits states to fight racial discrimination by taking such steps as restricting racist speech and criminalizing membership in racist organizations. Japan has expressed reservations about some of the provisions, which it says go against its commitment to freedom of expression and assembly.
Prior to the review, Japanese nongovernmental organizations presented various examples they say highlight the need for legislative action to fight racism in their country.
“There seems to have been little progress since 2001,” when the last review was held, committee member Regis de Gouttes said. “There is no new legislation, even though in 2001 the committee said prohibiting hate speech is compatible with freedom of expression.”
UPDATES: Correspondence with the UN reveals that the CERD Committee is doing a lot more than Kyodo reports.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Social Science, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Japanese Government, United Nations | 12 Comments »