Mar 31 UN Rep Bustamante’s Full Press Release on Japan’s Human Rights Record

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Hi Blog.  I attended Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Jorge Bustamante’s press conference in Tokyo today, talking about Japan’s shortcoming’s vis-a-vis its human rights record.  You can see FRANCA’s submission and presentation to Dr Bustamante on March 23 here, listen to the entire press conference including the Q&A here, and read on to see how FRANCA’s advice was reflected (or was not) in the preliminary press release below.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

From left to right, lawyer and UN Human Rights Officer Valentina Milano, Special Rapporteur Bustamante, and interpreter. All photos by Arudou Debito

UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR JORGE A. BUSTAMANTE PRESS CONFERENCE MARCH 31, 2010, UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION CENTRE, TOKYO, JAPAN

PRESS RELEASE MARCH 31, 2010,

Transcribed by Arudou Debito, errors are his

UN MIGRANTS RIGHTS EXPERT URGES JAPAN TO INCREASE PROTECTION OF MIGRANTS

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.

UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Mr. Jorge Bustamante, was speaking at the end of a nine-day visit to Japan, conducted at the invitation of the Government in order to observe and report on the human rights situation of migrants in the country.

In Tokyo, Nagoya, Toyota, and Hamamatsu, the Special Rapporteur met with Ministers, officials of central and local governments, international organizations, lawyers, school teachers, academics, members of civil society organizations, as well as migrant women and men and their children.  He also visited the East Japan Detention Center, foreign schools and met with migrants’ associations.  The Special Rapporteur expressed appreciation to the Government for its cooperation as well as to various organizations that provided support for his mission, in particular the International Organization for Migration and civil society.

The Special Rapporteur noted the Government’s efforts to address the seriousness of some of the human rights problems faced by migrant workers, in particular in the aftermath of the economic crisis.  He cited, as positive examples, the launch of an emergency programme to teach the Japanese language to those migrant children who had to leave foreign private schools to attend Japanese free public schools as a result of the financial crisis, and the provision of financial support to some foreign schools recognized by the local Governments, saying these were “noteworthy measures to work towards realizing the right to education for migrant children”.

Mr. Bustamante said he had also learnt of some interesting programmes at the local level:  These included placing interpreters subsidized by the national public employment agencies, and establishing funds (for example in Aichi prefecture) to which companies contribute in order to pay for Japanese lessons for their migrant workers and their children.  The creation of th ecouncil of Cities with High Concentration of Foreign Residents, a forum where 27 municipalities gather to discuss how to better address the needs of migrants, is also a positive initiative, he said.

Nevertheless, 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:

  • While Japan started receiving migrant workers 20 years ago, it has yet to adopt a comprehensive immigration policy that provides for the protection of migrants’ rights. A clear and comprehensive immigration policy should, therefore, be adopted, which would go beyond managing the entry and stay of migrants. It should establish institutionalized programmes designed to create the necessary conditions for the integration of migrants into Japanese society and the respect of their rights, including to work, health, housing and education, without discrimination. In this context, the ad hoc provisional measures recently adopted by the Government should be transformed into long-term policies.
  • Racism and discrimination based on nationality are still too common in Japan, including in the workplace, in schools, in health care establishments and in housing. As recommended by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Japan should adopt specific legislation on the prevention and elimination of racial discrimination, since the current general provisions included in the constitution and existing laws are not effective in protecting foreign residents from discrimination based on race and nationality.
  • The industrial trainees and technical interns programme often fuels demand for exploitative cheap labour under conditions that constitute violations of the right to physical and mental health, physical integrity, freedom of expression and movement of foreign trainees and interns, and that in some cases may well amount to slavery. This program should be discontinued and replaced by an employment programme.
  • The Special Rapporteur heard recurring complaints about the fact that the judiciary does not recognize the rights off migrants as spelled out in national legislation but instead favours Japanese nationals. The Special Rapporteur was also informed by some migrants that the police in many instances refuse to address complaints submitted by migrants or that relate to conflicts between migrants, including complaints by foreign women on domestic violence. According to a number of migrants, urgent measures should be taken within the judiciary and law enforcement agencies to guarantee the effective implementation of the rights of foreigners without discrimination.
  • The policy of detention of irregular migrants raises a number of concerns, in particular in relation to the generalized policy of detaining irregular migrants, including asylum seekers, parents and children themselves, for prolonged periods – in some cases as long as two or three years – which amounts to de facto indefinite detention. Clear criteria should be established in order to limit detention to the cases where it is strictly necessary, avoiding detaining persons such as those who are ill or who are the parents of minor children. Importantly, a maximum period of detention pending deportation should be set, after which foreigners should be released. Moreover, there are serious concerns with regard to appropriate health care not being provided to migrants in detention centers, and the lack of effective mechanisms to monitor human rights violations occurring in detention centers, and to examine complaints.
  • The Special Rapporteur said he is concerned by the high incidence of domestic violence against migrant women and frequently against their children as well. He is particularly concerned by the fact that foreign women depend on their husbands for the renewal of their residence permits, even when they are victims of domestic violence, and that courts decide on children’s custody on the basis of the existence of these permits.  Appropriate policies to protect and assist single mothers and their children who find themselves in this extremely vulnerable situation are lacking and should be adopted and implemented urgently.
  • A considerable number of migrant children in Japan do not attend school.  Governmental efforts should be increased to facilitate that foreign children study either in Japanese or foreign schools, and learn Japanese.  The Special Rapporteur heard many cases where parents of children born in Japan or who have lived there for up to 15 years have been recently deported or detained, resulting in the children being separated from their parents simply because of their irregular residence status.  In accordance with the principle of the best interest of the child, families should not be separated.
  • The Special Rapporteur heard repeated complaints in relation to open discrimination against migrant workers by their private employers with regard to remuneration, promotion opportunities, access to health care for accidents in the workplace and threats of unfair dismissal.  In many cases, migrant workers, both regular and irregular, informed that they are employed under precarious and discriminatory conditions, with temporary contracts that do not entitle them to access social security services.  Therefore, special attention should be given to monitoring the conditions under which private companies employ migrant workers.

The report of the Special Rapporteur’s visit to Japan will be submitted to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council later in the year [NB:  He said in the press conference Q&A that submission would be in September or October.]

ENDS

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

JAPANESE VERSION

* 移住者の人権に関する国連の特別報告者ホルヘ・ブスタマンテ氏は、9日間にわたる訪日調査を終えるにあたり、下記のプレスリリースを発表しました。

移住者の人権に関する国連専門家、訪日調査を終了
(仮訳*)
http://unic.or.jp/unic/press_release/1548/

移住者の人権に関する国連特別報告者は、経済危機が移住者へ与える影響を低減するために日本が採った措置を評価する一方で、市民団体から提供された情報によると、人種主義、差別や搾取が存在し、司法機関や警察に移住者の権利を無視する傾向があり、また人権の保護を含む包括的な入国管理政策が欠如しているなど、一連の課題が存在することに注目している。

国連移住者の人権に関する特別報告者ホルヘ・ブスタマンテ氏は、日本における移住者の人権状況を調査し、国連人権理事会に報告するため、日本政府の承認を得て、2010年3月23日~31日、訪日し、本日、9日間の日本滞在の最終日にあたり、以下の見解を表明する。

特別報告者は、東京、名古屋、豊田、浜松を訪れ、大臣、国や地方の行政機関及び国際機関の職員、弁護士、学者や教員、市民団体のメンバー及び移住女性・男性・子ども達と面談し、東日本入国管理センター、外国人学校、移住者団体等を視察した。特別報告者は、実態調査をするにあたり、日本政府や国際移住機関(IOM)、市民社会団体などの諸機関・団体に支援をいただいたことに、感謝の意を表明する。

特別報告者は、移住者が直面する人権問題の深刻さに対処するため日本政府が行っている努力、特に経済危機後に進めた取り組みに注目する。(1)金融危機の結果、私立の外国人学校を退学し、日本の公立学校に転入する移住者の子どものための日本語指導の実施、(2)地方行政により認可された一部外国人学校への助成などは、移住者の子どもが教育を受ける権利を実現する注目すべき取り組みであり、積極的な例として挙げられる。

さらに、地方行政レベルにおいても、国からの助成金を受けて公共職業安定所に通訳を配置したり、日本語学習支援基金の創設(愛知県など)により、企業が移住労働者やその子ども達向けの日本語学習教室を負担するなど、興味深い取り組みが進められていることが分かった、とブスタマンテ氏は述べた。移住者のニーズにどう対応すべきか議論する場として、27の自治体が集まって設けた、外国人集住都市会議も、また積極的な取り組みである、と特別報告者は述べた。

しかしながら、移住者及びその子どもの人権を保護するために、政府が取り組まねばならない課題も残されている、とブスタマンテ氏は述べた。状況改善に向けて最も重要性の高い懸念及び予備的な勧告として、以下のような課題が挙げられる。

○ 日本は、20年前から移住労働者を受け入れるようになったが、移住者の権利保護を保証する包括的な移民政策は実施されていない。移住者の上陸・在留を管理するだけでなく、移住者の社会統合及び就労・医療・住宅・教育を含む、移住者の権利を尊重する条件を、差別なく作り上げる制度を実現するための、明確かつ包括的な移民政策の実施が必要である。日本政府による、近年の一時的なその場しのぎの措置は、長期的な政策に変換していく必要がある。

○ 国籍に基づく人種主義及び差別意識は、日本に未だ根強く、職場、学校、医療施設、住宅などにおいて見られる。国連の人種差別撤廃委員会が勧告で示したように、外国人住民を人種又は国籍に基づく差別から、効果的に保護する規定が、憲法や現行の法律に欠けているため、人種差別の撤廃と防止のための特別な法整備が求められる。

○ 研修・技能実習制度は、往々にして研修生・技能実習生の心身の健康、身体的尊厳、表現・移動の自由などの権利侵害となるような条件の下、搾取的で安価な労働力を供給し、奴隷的状態にまで発展している場合さえある。このような制度を廃止し、雇用制度に変更すべきである。

○ 特別報告者は、司法組織が国内法の規定に従い、移住者の権利を認めるべきであるにも関わらず、日本人を優遇しがちであるとの証言を多く聞いた。また、警察が外国人による苦情、又は移住者同士の争いなどに対応しない(外国人女性が関わるDVの案件を含む)という実情も移住者から聞いた。一部の移住者によると、司法・法執行機関内で、外国人の権利が差別なく実質的に保障されるよう、緊急な対策が必要である。

○ 非正規滞在の移住者に対する収容政策、特に庇護希望者、子どもの保護者及び子ども自身を含む、非正規滞在者の全体収容主義、また場合によっては2~3年という事実上無期限収容に相当する長期収容が存在することなどに懸念を表明する。収容を必要な場合のみに制限し、病気を患う者、未成年者の保護者などの収容は避けることができるよう、明確な基準を示すべきである。退去強制過程における最大収容期間を定め、期間が満了した時点で、被収容者を解放すべきである。さらに、収容所において適切な医療が提供されていない、人権侵害に対する有効な不服申し立て及び監視制度がないことも深刻な懸念材料と言える。

○ 特別報告者は、移住女性及び往々にその子どもに対する家庭内暴力(DV)の頻発に懸念を表明する。外国人女性が、たとえDVの被害者であっても、在留資格の更新において夫の協力に頼らなければならない状況や、またその在留資格の有無に基づいて、子どもの親権が裁判で定められる状況に、特に懸念を表明する。非常に弱い立場に置かれた、シングル・マザー及びその子どもの保護・支援のための適切な政策が不足している。至急、政策を策定し、実施するべきである。

○ 多くの外国人の子どもが、日本において不就学の状況にある。外国人の子どもが、外国人学校又は日本の学校で学べるよう、また日本語を効果的に学習できるよう促進する措置を、政府は強化するべきである。特別報告者は、日本で生まれ、10~15年間暮らしていた子どもの親が、退去強制処分となったり、収容されたりし、非正規滞在という在留資格のみに基づいて、親子が離れ離れになった数々の実態を聞いた。子どもの最善の利益の原則に則り、家族は分離されてはならない。

○ 特別報告者は、移住労働者に対する民間雇用者による雇用、昇格機会、労災の際の医療へのアクセス、不当な解雇脅迫における明らかな差別の状況を聞いた。正規・非正規を問わず、移住労働者は多くの場合、短期契約で働いているため、不安定で差別的な条件で雇われ、社会保障及び医療サービスへのアクセスがないと信じている。民間企業が移住労働者の雇用条件を監視する制度に、特別な注意を払うべきである。

今回の訪日の報告書は、国連人権理事会の年内のセッションに提出する予定である。

* *** *

*この仮訳は、国連人権高等弁務官事務所(OHCHR)が作成しました。

ends

Debito.org Exclusive: Full UN Rapporteur Bustamante March 31 press conference on Japan’s human rights Mar 31 2010 downloadable here as a podcast

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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BUSTAMANTE PRESS CONFERENCE MARCH 31, 2010, UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION CENTRE
By Arudou Debito, exclusive to Debito.org

(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.

Dr Jorge Bustamante gives a press conference in Tokyo.  Photo by Arudou Debito

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 here:

[display_podcast]

Duration: One hour five minutes.  Unedited.  I ask a question around minute 40.

Dr Bustamante’s official read statement, also audible in the podcast, is available in its entirety on Debito.org in the next blog entry.

Arudou Debito, reporting for Debito.org in Tokyo.
March 31, 2010
ENDS

March 29, 2010 JIPI speech on why Japan needs immigration: Download my powerpoint presentation here (Japanese)

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.  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:

http://www.debito.org/JIPI032910.ppt

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.

Photos from the event:

Mr Sakanaka tells a joke about Debito.  Can’t remember what.

One of many, many slides, presenting irrefutable arguments…

Not a full house, but plenty of very attentive, earnest people.

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 (debito@debito.org) and drop by.

Arudou Debito in Tokyo

Yomiuri: 3 Filipina and Indonesian GOJ EPA nurses pass exam (less than 1% of total, after two years)

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.  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.  Arudou Debito in Tokyo

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

1st foreign nurses pass national exam

The Yomiuri Shimbun Mar. 27, 2010, Courtesy of JK and AR.

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/business/T100326007338.htm

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.

The Indonesians came to Japan in August 2008, and both work at a hospital in Niigata Prefecture. The Filipina, who arrived in Japan last May, works at a Tochigi Prefecture hospital.

Foreign nurses who come to this country under economic partnership agreements are required to possess nursing qualifications in their own nations. After taking language training, they seek to pass Japan’s nursing test while working as assistant nurses at hospitals in this country.

They are required to pass the test within three years of arriving in Japan. For foreign nurses who came to Japan in fiscal 2008, next year’s exam will be the last opportunity to qualify as nurses in this country.

Foreign nurses wishing to gain qualifications in Japan are required to take the same exam as Japanese applicants. Technical terms used in the test pose a hurdle for them in accomplishing their aim, observers said.

This year, about 90 percent of Japanese applicants passed the test. This figure stood at only 1.2 percent for foreign nurses who arrived in Japan under the EPA program.

To rectify the situation, the ministry is considering replacing technical terms with easier-to-understand language in next year’s exam.

More language help needed

It is essential to improve the current Japanese-language training system for foreign nurses seeking to pass this nation’s nursing qualification test under the EPA project, observers said.

Foreign nurses take six months of language training after coming to this country. However, nurses at Japanese hospitals that host them, as well as volunteers who work to aid them, have complained that they have been left to teach the foreign nurses practical Japanese needed for their work at medical institutions.

It is also necessary to ensure foreign nurses are fully trained in using Japanese before arriving in this country, while also increasing the number of opportunities for them to take the national exam, observers said.

In fiscal 2008, the first batch of 98 foreign nurses came to Japan under the EPA program, including the two Indonesians who passed this year’s test. If anyone from the group fails to pass next year’s exam, he or she must return home.

If no one from the first group–excluding the Indonesians–passes the test, it means most foreign nurses in the group must return home despite their three-year work experience at Japanese hospitals.

Such a scenario could reduce the EPA project to an empty slogan. Still, foreign nurses must be able to communicate their ideas in Japanese to doctors and patients. This presents the greatest dilemma for the EPA program, according to observers.

With this in mind, the government should consider corrective measures, including an improvement in the Japanese-language training system for foreign nurses and an extension of their stay in this nation, observers said.

ENDS

Japan Times: UN Rep Bustamante meets Calderon Noriko, comments on GOJ harsh visa system that separates families

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 . 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 below. He will also be giving a press conference this Wednesday, March 31. I hope the information we at FRANCA provided him last week will also be factored into his statements and advice. Arudou Debito in Tokyo

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

The Japan Times, Sunday, March 28, 2010
Deportation rule troubles U.N. official (excerpt)
By MASAMI ITO, Staff writer
, Courtesy of John in Yokohama
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100328a2.html

A recent government decision to deport only the parents of families without residency status, thus separating children from their mothers and fathers, flies in the face of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Jorge Bustamante, the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said Saturday in Tokyo.

Fact-finding: Jorge Bustamante, the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, greets Noriko Calderon, the daughter of a deported Filipino couple, in Tokyo Saturday. Lawyer Shogo Watanabe, who represents her family, also attended the meeting. KYODO PHOTO

Bustamante, who is on his first official fact-finding mission to Japan, is meeting with government officials, nongovernmental organizations, legal experts and foreign residents, and is expected to submit a report on Japan to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.

On Saturday, he met with residents caught in the deportation dilemma — among them Noriko Calderon, a 14-year-old girl who was born in Japan to an undocumented Filipino couple. Calderon’s case drew media attention when her parents were deported last spring.

“It is very difficult to live separated from my parents, and I miss them very much,” Calderon said. “But I hope that one day, all three of us can live in Japan together and I plan to do my best” to realize that goal.

Bustamante expressed concern over the separation of families and said he would cite the situation in his report.

“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.”

Rest of the article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100328a2.html

ENDS

Mar 27 2010 NGO FRANCA Tokyo meeting minutes

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Hi Blog.  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 proposed projects.  In addition to the ones put up at Sendai FRANCA:

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

POSSIBLE PROJECTS FOR NGO FRANCA:
— Having all family members of household listed on jūminhyō Residency Certificate regardless of nationality (currently under GOJ revision, proposed changes by July 2012).
— Having koseki Family Registry forms include NJ under spouse column.
— Eliminating requirements for jōji keitai, 24/7 carrying of the “Gaijin Card”, must present to authorities within set time period (3 days?).
— Other letter writing campaigns (e.g. Sumo Association) as issues come up.
— Allow for flexibility in registration and naming systems to reflect ethnic diversity (spellings, order, middle names for Double children).  Let us decide our official identity.
— Include optional question about ethnicity (not just nationality) in National Census.
— Law against Racial Discrimination.
— Survey on rental refusals (us or GOJ?)
— List of small issues you can say in passing to GOJ bureaucrats, as “pinprick protests”?
— Stop border fingerprinting discrimination for all visa holders, esp. Permanent Residents (make universal for Japanese citizens too?)
— Allow dual nationality even after naturalization.
— Stop arbitrary street “Gaijin Card” checkpoints by police, bring into line with Police Execution of Duties Law for questioning J citizens.
— Send positive stories of Non Native Japanese doing community activities to media (local papers), hope they take the story (we need more positive engagement with J society, not just “whining”)

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

We added:
========================================
— Push for more accountability from police (keisatsu techō), provide cop names, record of stoppage.  Website survey of people stopped?
— Suffrage for NJ PR in local elections.
— Public statement on international child abduction and joint custody after divorces.
— Cooperation with unions on labor issues.
— List of FRANCA positions on social issues E&J

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

We obviously have a lot of ideas out there.  There is no order of priority.  Just who’s motivated enough to lead the project and take something up.  Others that see something they think also ought to be on the drawing board, join our group and offer input!

We then repaired for drinks in Roppongi.  I got home at 3AM last night.  One of our group is a former bartender, and knew how to keep us drinking (thanks, I think!?!).

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

Again, if you need to know more about FRANCA, or would like to tell others about it, see our websites and download our powerpoint. http://www.debito.org/FRANCA.ppt

This powerpoint makes all the arguments I would if you met me face to face and needed convincing. Have a look. There are lots of hidden slides.

Bring me down for a speech sometime (I’ll probably be on the road again around August, so you don’t need to pay travel expenses), and I’ll try to convince you and your friends too that we need FRANCA and that we need you to be a part of it.

Anyway, thanks for reading! Arudou Debito, NGO FRANCA Chair

Sunday Tangent: Japan Times on staggering the Golden Week holidays across the archipelago

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Hi Blog.  Here’s a neat (in the American sense) proposal bouncing around to stagger Golden Week so that the holidays essentially follow the seasons as they progress up the archipelago.  For the record, I think it’s a great idea (I am so fed up of having crappy weather during the GW holidays in Hokkaido; can’t do much outside yet, don’t want to go anywhere and face the crowds; and little money to do so even if I did), and would like to see it put into practice.

I don’t see how anyone would object (except for perhaps the tourist industry itself, which might oddly enough prefer to keep charging peak rates.)  That said, when it was first floated on TV’s Toku Da Ne a couple of weeks ago, the (old fart) panel was almost uniformly against it!  Some said they don’t take any holiday during that time period anyway (oh, that’s thinking outside of your lifestyle!), and head anchor Ogura even woodenheadedly said, “What would the media call the holiday?  I can’t think of a name.  So I oppose it.”  That’s one reason I don’t bother watching the self-indulgent and intellectually incestuous Toku Da Ne much anymore.

Excerpt follows from the Japan Times on how the plan would work.  What do others think?  Arudou Debito in Tokyo

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

Japan Times Sunday, March 21, 2010
Moves afoot to make Japanese holidays a pleasure not a pain

By TOMOKO OTAKE Staff writer

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100321x3.html

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.

However, the changes — which would require legal amendments to national holiday laws, but which could be introduced as early as 2012 — do not mean Japan’s salaried workers will get more holidays. Instead, some of the existing national holidays would simply be moved to different dates, while keeping the original ones — such as Constitution Day on May 3, Green Day on May 4 and Children’s Day on May 5 — as non-holiday “memorial days.”

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 frustrating 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.

Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100321x3.html

ENDS

Assn of Korean Human Rights RYOM Munsong’s speech text to UN Rep Bustamante, March 23

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Hi Blog.  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.  Arudou Debito in Tokyo.

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

Association of Korean Human Rights in Japan

ブスタマンテ国連特別報告者との意見交換会

場所:衆議院第二議員会館第三会議室

日時:2010年3月23日

報告者:廉文成(RYOM Munsong)

Good afternoon, Dr. Bustamante, thank you very much for sparing us time to introduce human rights situation of Koreans in Japan. Today, I would like to talk about xenophobic movements against Korean school at grass-roots level and current Japanese government’s decision to exclude Korean school from new high school tuition-free measures.

Let me show you video picture.

This is the picture of assault against Korean primary school in Kyoto by one of the grass-roots right-wing organizations named “Citizen’s Group against Special Rights for Zainichi (foreigners in Japan)”, shortened to “Zaitokukai.” This group opposed what it calls ‘special rights’ for Koreans in Japan.

As you can watch, they shouted abusive words just in front of primary school. At that time, primary school students were studying in the school building. They might be frightened by their dirty words and violent behavior. They terrified Korean school children based on xenophobia. It is the violation of the rights of children to study without any physical and mental persecution.

Such kinds of assault should not be taken place. Furthermore, Japanese authorities should keep such human rights violations under strict control. What is more serious is that not a single member of this group was arrested by the Japanese police, which means that such assaults are not illegal in Japan under the pretext of freedom of speech or something. Xenophobia and human rights violations against foreigners can be observed at the grass-roots level.

By the way, let me briefly introduce the reason why Koreans are living in Japan. We, Koreans in Japan, are the offspring of those who came to Japan during the colonial period. Some were forcibly conscripted or taken as manual labour, others came to Japan to find the way to live. According to the statistics of the then Ministry of Home Affairs, about 30,000 Koreans lived in Japan in 1920, the number had increased by 300,000 in 1930. In 1945, the population of Koreans in Japan had reached around 2,400,000. On the whole, the first generation of Koreans in Japan originated from Japanese colonial rule.

Having such history, Koreans in Japan have established many Korean schools. Now, there are about 70 Korean schools; including one university and 10 high schools. The forerunner of Korean school was “training school for Korean language”, established just after the liberation all over Japan. The main purpose of this school was to teach Korean children their own language, culture and history so that their children could live when they went back to their country. They just wanted to get back Korean identities as Korean education was prohibited during colonial period. Although many Koreans went back to their fatherland after liberation, 600,000 to 800,000 Koreans remained in Japan. As time goes by, “training school for Korean language” developed into Korean school of today. Now, the main purpose of Korean school is to educate Korean students to live in Japan as Koreans with Korean identities.

However, Korean schools are still legally categorized as miscellaneous school like driving school. Despite the fact that they are socially recognized as schools with the same level of educational contents as average Japanese ones, they receive quite fewer amounts of educational assistance than that of Japanese private ones. The biggest factor should be absence of state subsidy from the government.

Furthermore, despite the fact that preferential treatments in the taxation system on donation to schools (reduction and exemption of tax for donors) are adopted not only to Japanese schools but also to international schools of western countries, this qualification is not granted to Korean schools. In addition, parents of Korean schools remain being excluded from the object in many scholarship systems.

On this issue, the UN Human Rights Committee issued several recommendations. I will introduce the latest recommendation of 2008. When the UN Human Rights Committee considered the fifth periodic report on International covenant on civil and political rights submitted by Japan (CCPR/C/JPN/5), the members of the committee expressed their concerns on the situation of Korean school students saying that “The Committee is concerned that state subsidies for schools that teach in the Korean language are significantly lower than those for ordinary schools, making them heavily dependent on private donations which are not exempted or deductible from taxes, unlike donations to private Japanese schools or international schools”. And the committee made recommendation saying that Japan “should ensure the adequate funding of Korean language schools, by increasing state subsidies and applying the same fiscal benefits to donors of Korean schools as to donors of other private schools, and recognize diplomas from Korean schools as direct university entrance qualifications.” (CCPR/C/JPN/CO/5)

To my regret, despite several efforts for the improvement of status of Korean school in Japan, they still suffer from economic difficulty.

Last year, when the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) came into power, it declared their tuition-free subsidy program of high schools. It was one of DPJ’s central campaign pledges during last August’s general election. The Diet is deliberating on a bill to make public high school tuition free and provide ¥120,000 yearly to those attending private schools or certified educational institutions. Schools for foreign students are considered eligible for the subsidy if they are deemed “the equivalent of Japanese high schools”. At the beginning, Korean schools were also included as beneficiary of this program. Last month, however, Hiroshi Nakai, minister in charge of the abduction issue, asked education minister to bar Korea schools from the planned tuition-free subsidy program saying that “If the government decided to designate Korean schools as beneficiaries of the subsidy program in addition to others, it would be tantamount to providing effective economic aid to North Korea, although Japan has applied its own sanctions to that country (in addition to U.N. sanctions)”. (The Japan Times, February 22, 2010)[1]

At last, the government of Japan decided to exclude Korean schools from high school tuition-free measures, and left the ultimate decision up to an assessment body to be established before long. This assessment body seems to examine whether the curriculum of Korean schools are comparable to the standard high school curriculum despite the fact that most of universities in Japan have received Korean school graduates. Furthermore, all of Korean schools are classified as the miscellaneous school under School Education Act, and other foreign schools of miscellaneous category are included in this program. Only Korean schools are excluded because of diplomatic situation between Tokyo and Pyongyang. Abduction issues or nuclear weapons have nothing to do with Korean school students in Japan. We cannot help regarding this decision as racial discrimination toward Korean people.

Given such a situation, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concern about discriminatory policy towards Korean school students. In a report, issued on 16th of this month, the CERD committee expressed concern on “the continued incidence of explicit and crude statements and actions directed at groups including children attending Korean schools.” Moreover, the committee expressed concern not only on “the differential treatment of schools for foreigners and descendants of Korean and Chinese residing in Japan, with regard to public assistance, subsidies and tax exemptions” but also “the approach of some politicians suggesting the exclusion of North Korean schools from current proposals for legislative change in Japan to make high school education tuition free of charge in public and private high schools, technical colleges and various institutions with comparable high school curricula.” The panel recommended the government of Japan to “ensure that there is no discrimination in the provision of educational opportunities”.

As a country which has ratified several human rights conventions, the government of Japan should respect and ensure the rights of minorities. Korean schools which were established to restore ethnicity which was deprived during the colonial period and to succeed it to the next generation should be the subject for positive support.

In my opinion, government’s decision not to grant any substitute to Korean school is made based not only on diplomatic relation between two countries but also on their discriminatory idea towards Korea.

Finally, let me introduce media reports on this issue. Some Japanese newspapers also oppose government’s decision to exclude Korean school from this program. The Asahi Shimbun newspaper (on February 24 and March 8 ) and The Japan Times (on March 14) carried their editorials to oppose government’s decision. These are the copy of them. I think their opinions are not pro-Pyongyang (and still contain bias), but quite reasonable and common-sense views from the perspective of universal value of human rights.

Thank you very much for your attention.


[1] http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100222a2.html

ENDS

Another request for Debito.org Readers: What are merits/demerits of immigration?

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Hi Blog.  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.  Arudou Debito in Tokyo

Two upcoming speeches, Sat eve FRANCA, Mon eve JIPI, both Tokyo

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Hi Blog.  Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet recently (but I gave fair warning).  Spent five hours on the shinkansen yesterday getting to and from my annual guest lecture at Shiga Daigaku on Japan’s internationalization etc.  Nice young folks, had a good day, and a nice cheese fondue with Belgian beer in the evening.

Anyway, today’s entry is 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.  Details as follows:

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

Topics: Membership, Why FRANCA?, and perhaps what to do about the recent Sumo Association rules that say that naturalized sumo wrestlers are also to be counted as the one “foreign” wrestler allowed in sumo stables. More on that here: http://www.debito.org/?p=6085

Also, we’ll be asking for more input on topics discussed at the March 21, 2010 Sendai FRANCA meeting, which are outlined at http://www.debito.org/?p=6249

http://www.francajapan.org/index.php/Main_Page#Upcoming_Meetings

The Monday evening one will be me speaking for the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, headed by Sakanaka Hidenori, where I am currently interning.  I will be speaking to whomever will listen on why we need immigration to Japan.  It’s a brand new speech (I’m still writing up the powerpoint), and details on that follow in Japanese.

MON MAR 29 JIPI SPEECH IN JAPANESE

■日時: 2010年3月29日(月)19時~21時(予定)

■会場: 港区勤労福祉会館 第一集会室

■講師: 有道出人 (あるどう でびと)

■テーマ: 「移民の必要性―あるべき姿」

■アクセス: 都営地下鉄A7出口より徒歩1分/JR田町駅西口(三田口)より徒歩5分

主催:一般社団法人移民政策研究所所長(JIPI)

That’s from 7PM at the Minato-ku Roudou Fukushi Kaikan, five minutes from JR Tamachi Mita Guchi Station.  Don’t be deterred by the fact I’ll be speaking in Japanese.  Please come on by and have a listen.  There will of course be lots of visuals too with the powerpoint.

Hope to see you there!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

NGO Japan Immigration Policy Institute requests information from, meetings with NJ Residents

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REQUEST FOR INPUT FROM THE NON-JAPANESE RESIDENT COMMUNITY
By JAPAN IMMIGRATION POLICY INSTITUTE, TOKYO

March 24, 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:
http://www.debito.org/publications.html#otherauthors

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.

Debito.org is proud to support Mr Sakanaka and his works, and has interned at JIPI with many an enlightening conversation. This proposal for community outreach is the product of one of those conversations. Please be in touch with JIPI.

— Arudou Debito, Coordinator, Debito.org and NGO FRANCA
(http://www.debito.org, http://www.francajapan.org)
ENDS

FRANCA meeting with UN Rep Bustamante yesterday: How it went, with photos

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Hi Blog.  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:

Morning session with Dr. Bustamante [removed by request]:

Afternoon session:

Mr RYOM Munsong from Korea University gives his powerpoint.  I sit back and get out of the way so the media could film him.  Note fat blue folder on table just itching to be given to Dr. Bustamante.

Then I’m on:

Second from right is Dr Bustamante, with Ms Valentina Milano, Human Rights Officer, OHCHR.

I have to barnstorm through; I finish in 12 minutes 58.9 seconds.  Note mp3 recorder and iPod timer.  I’ll have a recording of my speech as my next DEBITO.ORG PODCAST up in a couple of weeks.  If you want to see the powerpoint for yourselves, click http://www.debito.org/FRANCABustamantepresentation032310.ppt.  Table of contents with links to all articles at http://www.debito.org/?p=6201.

The good news is that everything I wanted to say, even if i did not say it, is on paper or online.  Everything, including that fat folder, is now in Dr Bustamante’s hands.

It’s heavy schlepping this around Japan.

Genuine Monbetsu “Japanese Only” sign enclosed as a souvenir.

Everything completely indexed and categorized for ease of reading.

This is FRANCA at work.  Join us for our meeting this coming Saturday in Tokyo.

I was a bit dejected, so to make sure the day wasn’t a total wipeout, I went to the Diet building (they’ve only recently opened up tours of the Lower House) and took a free hourlong tour.

It wasn’t much (the Upper House, which I’ve done three times, is much better, and much friendlier), as the cop who acted as our tour guide was practically inaudible, and the attitude was “let’s get this crowd out of here as quickly as possible” (I happened to join three tour busses; the Hato Bus tour guide also agreed the Upper House is much better).  Then I came back to Gotanda, had authentic Chinese takeout, and retired to write this all up.

I’ll probably be attending more meetings with NGOs tomorrow as an observer.  If there is anything of note, or any statements from the NGOs they want made public here, I’ll have them up soon.

Thanks to everyone for your input!

Arudou Debito in Tokyo

FRANCA Sendai Meeting Proceedings, Photos and Project Ideas

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Hi Blog.  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)

Attendees were
FRANCA Sendai Chair Ben Shearon
Riji Ryan Hagglund
Guest and new FRANCA Member Shaun Dyer
and Chair Arudou Debito

We had a very productive meeting, talking for more than three hours on various aspects of making life better in Japan for NJ and NNJ (Non Native Japanese — an abbreviation I doubt will catch on).  We came up with the following ideas for projects:

PROPOSED FRANCA PROJECTS

  • Having all family members of household listed on jūminhyō Residency Certificate regardless of nationality (currently under GOJ revision, proposed changes by July 2012).
  • Having koseki Family Registry forms include NJ under spouse column.
  • Eliminating requirements for jōji keitai, 24/7 carrying of the “Gaijin Card”, must present to authorities within set time period (3 days?).
  • Other letter writing campaigns (e.g. Sumo Association) as issues come up.
  • Stop border fingerprinting for all visa holders, esp. Permanent Residents.
  • Allow dual nationality even after naturalization.
  • Stop street “Gaijin Card” checkpoints by police, bring into line with Police Execution of Duties Law for questioning J citizens.
  • Send positive stories of NNJ doing community activities to media (local papers), hope they take the story (we need more positive engagement with J society, not just “whining”).
  • Allow for flexibility in registration and naming systems to reflect ethnic diversity (spellings, order, middle names for Double children).  Let us decide our official identity.
  • Include optional question about ethnicity (not just nationality) in National Census.
  • A Law against Racial Discrimination.
  • Survey on rental refusals (us or GOJ?)
  • List of small issues you can say in passing to GOJ bureaucrats, as “pinprick protests”?

The last item, “pinprick protests”, was the most inspiring to me.  It’s a list of little ways that we all can just register small protests orally and/or in writing, on the spot when we encounter an inconvenience or a targeting.  For example, when you get border fingerprinted, say a little something, or hand over a small piece of paper in Japanese, registering your displeasure with the process.  Or when a bank calls you for ask what your most recent overseas money transfer is for (because the presumption is that NJ bank accounts receiving money from overseas must be doing money laundering), say this or that in Japanese.  Or police racial profiling, or Gaijin Card checks by hotels or video stores, or anything else that systematically treats us as somehow less trustworthy or equal compared with the rest of the Japanese population.  We can register a little “I don’t really like this treatment” in comfortable Japanese.

Enough of these little “pinprick” protests and it becomes mendoukusai for the enforcers to have to deal with us.  It’s already showing when you see apologetic border control bureaucrats (yes!), and hotel clerks who check us less and less frequently.  We should stand up for ourselves more, and encourage others to do so.  I will create an artery site a la debito.org/whattodoif.html called debito.org/pinprickprotests.html, offer downloadable bilingual text, and devote a blog entry to each category, linking them all together over time.  Contributions welcome.

As for the suggestions for projects above, please come and comment at this coming Saturday’s Tokyo FRANCA meeting, and let’s get a good lot of ideas circulating.

Thanks for reading!  Arudou Debito, FRANCA Chair, in Tokyo, speaking to the UN today.

Japan Times on Ibaraki Detention Ctr hunger strikers: GOJ meeting because of UN visit?

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Hi Blog. 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. Arudou Debito in Sendai

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

The Japan Times Monday, March 22, 2010
Immigration detainees end hunger strike
Osaka center staff to meet inmates (excerpt)
By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100322a1.html

[scroll down]  Justice Minister Keiko Chiba said at the meeting that 71 detainees were refusing to eat and that the reasons for the hunger strike were being investigated. He also said the issue of temporary release had to treated carefully.

“We have to thoroughly discuss the issue of temporary release for long-term detainees, and the reasons for deciding whether to grant such release,” Chiba said.

The hunger strike was brought up by Azuma Konno of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, who noted that the West Japan facility had been the site of temporary release and other troubling disputes in the past.

On Jan. 1, 2008, an Indian detainee was found dead in the center after allegedly committing suicide, while between 2000 and 2004, a Kyodo News investigation found that 23 detainees had attempted suicide.

“Unless there is a strong policy for dealing with the issue of temporary release applications, (hunger strikes) could be repeated,” Konno said.

In addition, the timing of a United Nations visit may have prodded the center into agreeing to the Tuesday meeting.

Jorge Bustamante, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, will meet in Tokyo on Wednesday with former detainees who waged hunger strikes.

Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100322a1.html

UPDATE: Ibaraki Detention Center Hunger Strikers pause strike, arrange meetings

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Hi Blog. Just got this from Sano-san regarding the hunger strikers in the Ibaraki Immigration Gaijin Tank who are protesting for better conditions, visa consideration, and release, as they are not criminals. More background here and here. Debito in Morioka.

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

From: hkajihara@hotmail.com
Subject: hunger strike suspended
Date: March 20, 2010 10:51:12 PM JST

Dear all,

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.
I thinks our society begins to have more understanding and recognition of how serious this issue is.
This is the first time for the center to give in, and negotiate with detainees.

This is all for today.
I will be meeting some detainees and will update more on Tuesday.
Thank you for your support, and wish us luck!

Hiromi Sano
ENDS

Japan Times update on current J child abductions after divorce & Hague Treaty nego: USG still pressuring GOJ

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Hi Blog. 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. Arudou Debito in Morioka.

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

DPJ rule raises Hague treaty-signing hope
‘Left-behind parent’ urges Japan to side with child-abduction pact
By MASAMI ITO
The Japan Times: Thursday, March 18, 2010 (excerpt)

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100318f1.html

… Article 1 of the Hague Convention states that its objective is “to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any Contracting State.” At present, there are 82 signatory states, including Canada, the United States and Great Britain. Of the Group of Eight countries, only Japan and Russia have not signed the treaty.

“There is a part of this convention that is alienated from the Japanese legal system,” the Foreign Ministry said in a written reply to The Japan Times. “In concluding this convention, there are several issues that need to be thoroughly discussed, including the consistency with our country’s judicial system on families.”

Under Japanese law, only one parent gets custody over children after a divorce, whereas rulings on joint custody are often seen in Europe and the United States. But with the number of international marriages on the increase and a rise in divorces as well, Japan faces increasing international pressure to change the current system and sign the convention.

Last month, Kurt Campbell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, brought up the issue during his meetings with Japanese officials in Tokyo and even held a special news conference on the topic at the U.S. Embassy.

“The U.S. government places the highest possible priority on the welfare of children who have been victims of international parental child abduction and strongly believes that children should grow up with access to both parents,” Campbell told reporters. […]

One key concern often cited in the Japanese media is cases of domestic violence in which mostly Japanese women are fleeing their abusive husbands and bringing their children to Japan to protect them.

But Article 13 of the convention stipulates that children do not need to be returned if there is a risk that the return “would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.”

[Raymond Baca, the consul general of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, who has a rather unfortunate name,] said: “There is this perception out there, and I believe it’s widely held, that if Japan joined or acceded to the Hague Convention, that Japanese parents here would be required to send their children back to an abusive environment.

“It’s important to point out that there are explicit safeguards against this within the Hague Convention,” he said.

Full article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100318f1.html

ENDS

Rough draft text of my speech to UN Rep Bustamante Mar 23 in Tokyo

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Hi Blog. What follows is a rough draft of the text of the speech I’ll be giving on Tues, March 23, before a United Nations rep. I have twenty minutes tops. I read this at a normal pace aloud today and it came about sixteen minutes. Eight pages, 2500 words, written in a conversational style. FYI. Thanks for your support, and see you at the upcoming FRANCA meetings this Sunday and next Saturday. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Statements to Mr Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, in Tokyo, March 23, 2010, by ARUDOU Debito, Chair, Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (FRANCA, www.francajapan.org), regarding racial discrimination in Japan.

This document may be downloaded at http://www.debito.org/ArudouBustamantestatement032310.doc

The powerpoint accompanying this presentation may be downloaded at http://www.debito.org/FRANCABustamantepresentation032310.ppt

Table of contents for the belowmentioned “blue folder” with links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=6201


First, let me thank Mr. Bustamante and the United Nations for their attention to the situation of minorities and disenfranchised peoples in Japan.  There are very few effective forums in Japan for us to take our grievances, and we all very much appreciate the Special Rapporteur hearing as many sides of the story as possible.

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.

To start off, here is an overview of our presence in Japan.  According to official figures, the number of Non-Japanese on 3-month visas and up in Japan has grown since 1990 from about one million to over two million.  The number of Permanent Residents has reached record numbers, of over one million.  In other words, about half of all registered Non-Japanese in Japan can stay here permanently.  I would like to point out here how difficult it is to receive Permanent Residency in Japan.  It takes about five years if you are married to a Japanese, ten years if you are not.  The point is, a million Non-Japanese Permanent Residents are not a “temporary” segment of Japanese society.

Moreover, this does not count the estimated 300,000 to 500,000 naturalized Japanese citizens since the 1960’s.  I am one of those naturalized Japanese citizens.  Nor does this count the international families from Non-Japanese marrying Japanese.  We have about 40,000 international marriages every year, a significant increase from the 30,000 per year a decade ago.  If each couple has two children over their lifetime, which is not an unreasonable assumption, eventually that means 80,000 ethnically-diverse Japanese children.  Over ten years, that adds up to 800,000 – almost a million again.  However, not all of these children will “look Japanese”.

Sadly, we don’t know how many children, or people, of diverse backgrounds with Japanese citizenship are out there, because the Japanese Census does not survey for ethnicity.  The Japanese Census only surveys for nationality, despite our repeated requests for the census to reflect Japan’s diversity.  Meaning, when I fill out the Census, I write down “Japanese” for my nationality, but there is no way for me to indicate that I am a “Caucasian Japanese”, or an “Japanese of American extraction” (amerika kei nihonjin).  I believe this is by design, because the politics of identity in Japan are “monoculturality and monoethnicity”.  This is simply a fiction.  It wasn’t true in the past, and with modern Japan’s emerging immigration, assimilation, and ethnic diversity, it’s even less true now.  The official conflation of Japanese nationality and ethnicity is incorrect, and our government is willfully refusing to collect any data that would correct that.

The point is, the lines have blurred to the point where we cannot tell who is “Japanese” any more just by looking at them.  This means any time we have any distinctions made between “foreigner” and “Japanese”, be it police racial profiling or “Japanese Only” signs, it will also affect some Japanese citizens too.  This is why we need a law against racial discrimination in Japan – not only because it will help non-citizens assimilate into Japan, but also it will protect Japanese against xenophobia, bigotry, and exclusionism.  Discrimination that is “deep and profound”, and “practiced undisturbed in Japan”, according to UN Rapporteur Doudou Diene in 2005 and 2006[1].

At this point, I would like to show some differences in standpoint, between my esteemed colleagues and minorities being represented today, and the people I am trying to speak for.  The minorities in Japan as defined under the CERD, including the Ainu, the Ryūkyūans, the Zainichi Special Permanent Resident ethnic Koreans and Chinese, and the Burakumin, will be speaking to you this week and next as people who have been here for a long time, much longer than people like me, of course.  They make their claims based upon time-honored and genuine grievances that have never been properly redressed.  For ease of understanding, I will call some of them the “Oldcomers”.  I am here on behalf of what I will call the “Newcomers”, people who have come here from other countries relatively recently, to make a life in Japan.  Both “Oldcomers” and “Newcomers” contribute to Japanese society, including taxes, service, and culture.  But it 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

All of these examples are substantiated in the blue information folder, but again, words in brief about each item.

1) Discrimination in housing and accommodation

One of the first barriers many Newcomers face in Japan is the daunting prospect of finding an apartment.  According to the Mainichi Shimbun (Jan 8 2010[2]), on average in Tokyo it takes 15 visits to realtors for a Non-Japanese to find an apartment.   Common experience — and this is all we have because there is no government study of this problem — dictates that the agent generally phrases the issue to landlords as, “The renter is a foreigner, but is that okay?”  This overt discrimination happens with complete impunity in Japan.  One Osaka realtor[3] even advertises apartments as “gaijin allowed”, thus an option at odds with the status quo.  Again, there is no national government body collecting information on this problem, or hearing grievances.  The people who face discriminatory landlords can only take them to court.  This means years, money for lawyers and court fees, and an uncertain outcome, when all you need is a place to live, now.

Another issue is hotels.  They are expressly forbidden by the Hotel Management Law Article 5 to refuse customers unless rooms are full, there is a clear threat of contagious disease, or a clear threat to “public morals” (as in pornography).  However, government surveys, according to CNN et.al, (Oct 9, 2008[4]), indicate that 27% of all Japanese hotels don’t want foreign guests.  Not to be outdone, the Fukushima Prefecture Tourist Information website until last January advertised, as per their own preset options, that 318 of their member hotels were all refusing Non-Japanese[5], even though this is clearly illegal.  Thus even when a law technically forbids exclusionism, it is not enforced.  Excluders even get promoted by the authorities.

2) Racial Profiling by Japanese Police

Another rude awakening happens when you walk down the street.  Japanese police will stop you in public, sometimes rudely demand your ID card (which all foreigners – only — must carry at all times or face incarceration and criminal prosecution), and record your personal details.  This can be for walking while White, cycling while foreign-looking, using public transportation while multiethnic, or standing waiting for arrivals at airports while colored.  In one person’s case, he has been “carded”, sometimes through physical force, more than 50 times in one year, as of today exactly 125 times over ten years (blue folder item I-2).

The police claim they are hunting for foreign criminals and visa overstayers, or there are special security measures or campaigns in place, etc.  However, you can see in the blue folder, this is an extension of the depiction of Non-Japanese in official government policies as “terrorists, criminals, and carriers of infectious diseases” (items II-9 through 11).  None of these things are contingent on nationality.  Consequently, after 2007 all non-citizens must be fingerprinted every time they re-enter Japan.  This includes the “Newcomer” Permanent Residents, which goes farther than its model, the US-VISIT program this, which does not refingerprint Green Card holders.  The epitome of bad physical and social science must be the National Research Institute of Police Science, which has received years of government grants to research “foreign DNA”, for more effective racial profiling at crime scenes (see blue folder item II-2).

In sum, thanks to national policy justifying racial profiling, the Japanese police are seeing non-Japanese as “foreign agents” in both senses of the word.  They are systematically taking measures to deal with them as a social problem, not a fellow resident or immigrant.  Furthermore, it goes without saying that enforcement depends upon personal appearance, as I too have been racially profiled on several occasions by police in public.

3) Refusal to be counted as residents by the Japanese Government

It is too complicated to talk about fully here (see blue folder, item III-1), but Japan’s registration system, meaning the current Koseki Family Registry and the Jūminhyō Residency Certificate systems, refuse to list Non-Japanese as “spouse” — or even “family member”.  Because they are not citizens.  In sum, officially Non-Japanese residents are not “residents” (jūmin), even though they pay Residency Taxes (jūminzei) like anyone else.  Worse, some local governments (such as Tokyo Nerima Ward[6]) do not even count Non-Japanese in their population tallies.  This is the ultimate in invisibility, and it is government-sanctioned.

4) “Japanese Only” exclusions in businesses open to the public

Since Japan has no law against racial discrimination, there have been signs up nationwide at places open to the general public, saying “Japanese Only”, “No Foreigners allowed”, etc. (blue folder item III-1).  Places enforcing exclusionary rules include 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.  Nevertheless, the government has said repeatedly to the UN that we don’t a racial discrimination law because we have an effective judicial system.  That is untrue.  In the Otaru Onsens Case (1999-2005, blue folder items III-1 and III-7), where two Non-Japanese and one naturalized Japanese were excluded from a public bathhouse, judges refused to rule that this activity was illegal due to racial discrimination.  They called it “unrational discrimination”.  Moreover, they refused to enforce the CERD as law, or sanction the negligent Otaru City government for not taking effective measures against racial discrimination.  The Supreme Court even refused to hear the case.  Furthermore, in 2006, an African-American was refused entry into an eyeglass store by an openly racist owner, yet the Osaka District Court ruled in favor of the owner!   We need a criminal law, with enforceable punishments, because the present judicial system will not fix this.

5) Objects of unfettered hate speech

The blue folder talks more about cyberbullying of minorities and prejudiced statements made by our politicians over the years.  Other NGOs will talk more about the anti-Korean and anti-Chinese hate speech during the current debate about granting local suffrage rights to Permanent Residents.  I would instead like to briefly mention some media, such as magazine “Underground Files of Crimes by Gaijin [sic]” (Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu (2007), blue folder item III-2), or “PR Suffrage will make Japan Disappear” (Gaikokujin Sanseiken de Nihon ga Nakunaru Hi) (2010[7]).  Both of these books stretch their case to talk about an innate criminality or deviousness in the foreign element, and “Underground Files of  Crimes” even includes things that are not crimes, such as dating Japanese women.  It even includes epithets like “nigger”, racist caricatures, and ponderings on whether Korean pudenda smell like kimchi.  This is hate speech.  And it is not illegal in Japan.

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

To summarize, the Japanese government’s stance towards the CERD is simple (blue folder item VI-1).  The Ainu, Ryūkūans, and Burakumin are citizens, therefore they don’t need CERD protection because they are protected by the Japanese Constitution.  However, the Zainichis and “Newcomers” are not citizens, therefore they don’t get protection from the CERD.  Therefore, our government effectively argues, the CERD does not cover anyone in Japan.

Yeah, well what about me?  Or our children?  Are there really no ethnic minorities with Japanese citizenship in Japan?

In conclusion, I would like to thank the United Nations and their Rapporteurs for investigating our cases.  The CERD Committee on March 16, 2010 (CERD/C/JPN/CO/3-6), issued some very welcome recommendations.  However, and I would like to go back to something I said in the beginning, that the UN has a blind spot in these negotiations.

In the CERD Committee’s discussions with the Japanese government in Geneva on February 24 and 25, 2010, very little mention was made of the CERD’s non-enforcement in Japan’s judiciary and criminal code.   Almost no mention was made of Japan’s “Japanese Only” signs.  These are the most indefensible violation of the CERD.

The problem is, both sides, both Japan and the UN, have a blind spot in how they perceive Japan’s “minorities”.  Non-Japanese were never couched as residents of or immigrants to Japan, but rather as “foreign migrants”.  The unconscious assumption seems to be that 1) “foreign migrants” have a “temporary status” in Japan (particularly when Japan’s reps portrayed ethnic schools for Non-Japanese as for “foreign children in Japan only for the short stay”), and 2) Japan has few “ethnically diverse Japanese citizens”.

Look, it’s time for an update.  Look at me.  I am a Japanese.  Like any other.  Because the government put me through a very rigorous and arbitrary test for naturalization and I passed it.  People like me are part of Japan’s future.  Please, when you make your recommendations, have them reflect how Japan has changed, and how Japan must face up to its multicultural society already in place.  Please, recognize us “Newcomers” as a permanent part of the debate.  The Japanese government still will not.  They say little that is positive about us.  And they allow very nasty things to be said by our politicians, policymakers, and police.

It’s about time we all recognized the good things that we “Newcomers” too are doing for our home, Japan.  Please help us.

ENDS


[1] www.debito.org/rapporteur.html

[2] www.debito.org/?p=5703

[3] www.debito.org/?p=723

[4] www.debito.org/?p=1940

[5] www.debito.org/?p=5619

[6] www.debito.org/?p=1972

[7] www.debito.org/?p=6182

ENDS

On the road from Mar 19, Debito.org updated less often

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Hi Blog.  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:

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

SUNDAY MAR 21 Sendai FRANCA Third Meeting

Location: AER Building El Solar 28F Meeting Room 1
Sunday, 21 March 10 @ 13:30 Ends 16:30

Come along to our third meeting and talk about issues relevant to Sendai FRANCA. We will be looking at recent events and planning for the future, including the possibility of a lawsuit against the Sumo Association for its new rule counting naturalized citizens as “foreign wrestlers” for their stable limitations. Cost: FREE (suggested donation 200 yen)

THURS MAR 25 is my annual guest lecture at Shiga University on issues of discrimination and assimilation. Starts 1PM. More details Dr Robert Aspinall at aspinall_robert AT hotmail DOT com.

SATURDAY MAR 27 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

Topics: Membership, Why FRANCA?, and perhaps what to do about the recent Sumo Association rules that say that naturalized sumo wrestlers are also to be counted as the one “foreign” wrestler allowed in sumo stables. More on that here:http://www.debito.org/?p=6085

MON MAR 29 JIPI SPEECH IN JAPANESE

■日時: 2010年3月29日(月)19時~21時(予定)

■会場: 港区勤労福祉会館 第一集会室

■講師: 有道出人 (あるどう でびと)

■テーマ: 「移民の必要性―あるべき姿」

■アクセス: 都営地下鉄A7出口より徒歩1分/JR田町駅西口(三田口)より徒歩5分

主催:一般社団法人移民政策研究所所長(JIPI)

I’ll also be speaking before the UN next Tuesday, so wish me luck.  I’ll have a rough draft text of that speech up shortly.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo for now

UN CERD Recommendations to GOJ Mar 2010 CERD/C/JPN/CO/3-6, takes up our issues well

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Hi Blog.  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.

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.

From http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/cerds76.htm

Word format file on this downloadable from http://www.debito.org/CERDCJPNCO36Mar2010.doc

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CERD/C/JPN/CO/3-6
Distr.: General

16 March 2010

Original: English

ADVANCE UNEDITED VERSION

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Seventy-sixth session

15 February- 12 March 2010

Consideration of reports submitted by states parties under article 9 of the Convention

Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Japan

1. The Committee considered the combined third to sixth reports of Japan (CERD/C/JPN/3-6) at its 1987th and 1988th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1987 and CERD/C/SR.1988), held on 24th and 25th February 2010. At its 2004th and 2005th meetings (CERD/C/SR.2004 and CERD/C/SR.2005), held on 9 March 2010, it adopted the following concluding observations.

A. Introduction

2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the third to sixth periodic reports by the State party. It expresses its appreciation for the constructive dialogue held with the large delegation, the written replies provided to the list of issues and the oral replies to the questions posed by Committee members, which together provided further insights into the implementation of the rights in the Convention. 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.

B. Positive aspects

3. The Committee notes with interest the State party’s pilot resettlement program for Myanmar refugees (2010).

4. The Committee welcomes the support of the State Party to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (September 2007).

5. The Committee congratulates the State party for the recognition of the Ainu people as an indigenous people (2008) and notes with interest the creation of the Council for Ainu Policy (2009).

6. The Committee notes with appreciation the adoption of regulations against illegal and harmful information on the Internet, including the revised Guidelines for Defamation and Privacy (2004), the Provider Liability Limitation Law (2002) and the Model Provision for Contracts related to Actions against Illegal and Harmful Information (2006).

C. Concerns and recommendations

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.

The State Party is encouraged to comply with all recommendations and decisions addressed to it by the Committee and to take all necessary steps to ensure that national legal provisions further the effective implementation of the Convention.

8. While noting existing national and local provisions guaranteeing equality before the law, including article 14 of the Constitution, the Committee highlights that the grounds of discrimination in article 1 of the Convention are not fully covered. Further, while the Committee regrets the State party’s interpretation of racial discrimination based on descent, it is encouraged by information on steps taken by the State party in the spirit of the Convention to prevent and eliminate discrimination against Burakumin (art. 1).

The Committee maintains its position expressed in general recommendation No. 29 (2002) “that discrimination based on ‘descent’ has a meaning and application which complement the other prohibited grounds of discrimination and includes discrimination against members of communities based on forms of social stratification and analogous systems of inherited status which nullify or impair their equal enjoyment of human rights.” Moreover, the Committee reaffirms that the term “descent” in article 1, paragraph 1, the Convention does not solely refer to “race” and that discrimination on the ground of descent is fully covered by article 1 of the Convention. The Committee, therefore, urges the State party to adopt a comprehensive definition of racial discrimination in conformity with the Convention.

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).

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, in accordance with article 1 of the Convention, and to cover all rights protected by the Convention.  It also encourages the State party to ensure that law enforcement officials approached with complaints of racial discrimination have adequate expertise and authority to deal with offenders and to protect victims of discrimination.

10. While noting with interest that the State party held consultations and informal hearings with non-governmental organizations and other groups in the drafting of the report, the Committee regrets the limited opportunities for collection and exchange of information with such organizations and groups.

The Committee notes the positive contributions made in the field of human rights and the role played by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Japan and encourages the State party to ensure the effective participation of NGOs in the consultation process during the preparation of the next periodic report.

11. The Committee notes the information provided by the State party on the composition of the population but regrets that the available body of data does not allow for an adequate understanding and assessment of the situation of vulnerable groups in the State party.

The Committee, in accordance with paragraphs 10 and 12 of its revised reporting guidelines (CERD/C/2007/1) as well as its general recommendations No. 8 (1990) on the interpretation of article 1 of the Convention and No. 30 (2004) on discrimination against non-citizens, recommends that the State party  conduct research into languages commonly spoken, mother tongue or other indicators of diversity of the population together with information from social surveys,  on the basis of voluntary self-identification, with full respect for the privacy and anonymity of the individuals concerned, in order to evaluate the composition and situation of groups within the definition of article 1 of the Convention. The Committee further encourages the State party to provide updated disaggregated data on the non-citizen population in its next periodic report.

12. While taking account of the State party’s commitment to consider the establishment of a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles (General Assembly resolution 48/134), the Committee regrets the repeal of the proposed Human Rights Protection Bill, which included provisions for the establishment of a human rights commission, as well as the delays and overall absence of concrete actions and time frame for the establishment of an independent national human rights institution. The Committee also notes with concern the lack of a comprehensive and effective complaints mechanism (art. 2).

The Committee encourages the State party to draft and adopt a human rights protection bill and promptly establish a legal complaints mechanism. It also urges the establishment of a well-financed and adequately staffed independent human rights institution, in compliance with the Paris Principles, with a broad human rights mandate and a specific mandate to address contemporary forms of discrimination.

13. While noting the explanations provided by the State party, the Committee is concerned by the reservations to articles 4 (a) and (b) of the Convention. The Committee also notes with concern the continued incidence of explicit and crude statements and actions directed at groups including children attending Korean schools as well as harmful, racist expressions and attacks via the Internet aimed, in particular, against Burakumin (arts. 4a, 4b).

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), according to which article 4 is of mandatory nature, given the non-self-executing character of its provisions. It recommends that the State party:

(a) Remedy the absence of legislation to give full effect to the provisions against discrimination under article 4;

(b) ensure that relevant constitutional, civil and criminal law provisions are effectively implemented, including through additional steps to address hateful and racist manifestations by, inter alia, enhancing efforts to investigate them and punish those involved; and

(c) increase sensitization and awareness-raising campaigns against the dissemination of racist ideas and to prevent racially motivated offences including hate speech and racist propaganda on the Internet.

14. While noting the measures being taken by the State party to provide human rights education to public officials, 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 taken by the authorities in this regard, in violation of article 4 (c) of the Convention. It is further concerned that the existing laws on defamation, insult and intimidation making statements punishable are not specific to racial discrimination and only apply in case of injury to specific individuals (art. 4c, 6).

The Committee reiterates its recommendation that the State party strongly condemn and oppose any statement by public officials, national or local, which tolerates or incites racial discrimination and that it intensify its efforts to promote human rights awareness among politicians and public officials. It also recommends with urgency that the State party enact a law that directly prohibits racist and xenophobic statements, and guarantees access to effective protection and remedies against racial discrimination through competent national courts. The Committee also recommends that the State party undertake the necessary measures to prevent such incidents in the future and to provide relevant human rights education, including specifically on racial discrimination to all civil servants, law enforcement officers and administrators as well as the general population.

15. Noting that family court mediators do not have any public decision making powers, the Committee expresses concern over the fact that qualified non-nationals are not able to participate as mediators in dispute settlement. It also notes that no data was provided regarding the participation of non-nationals in public life (art. 5).

The Committee recommends that the State party review its position so as to allow competent non-nationals recommended as candidates for mediation to work in family courts. It also recommends that it provide information on the right to participation of non-nationals in public life in its next report.

16. While noting with interest the increasing number of non-Japanese residents in the State party, including those applying for naturalization, the Committee reiterates the view expressed in its previous concluding observations (2001) that the name of an individual is a fundamental aspect of cultural and ethnic identity that must be respected. In this regard, the Committee expresses its concern that for naturalization purposes, applicants continue to change their names out of fear of discrimination rather than as acts of free choice (art. 5).

The Committee recommends that the State party develop an approach where the identity of non-Japanese nationals seeking naturalization is respected and that officials, application forms and publications dealing with the naturalization process refrain from using language that persuades applicants to adopt Japanese names and characters for fear of disadvantages or discrimination.

17. While noting the revised Act for the Prevention of Spousal Violence and Protection of Victims (2007) to extend protection to victims regardless of nationality and strengthen the role of local governments, the Committee notes with concern the obstacles to access complaints mechanisms and protection services faced by women victims of domestic and sexual violence. It notes with particular concern that changes to the Immigration Control Act (2009) pose difficulties for foreign women suffering domestic violence. It also regrets the lack of information and data provided about the incidence of violence against women (Art 5).

In the light of its general recommendation No. 25 (2000) on gender-related dimensions of racial discrimination, the Committee recommends that the State party adopt all necessary measures to address phenomena of double discrimination, in particular regarding women and children from vulnerable groups. It also reiterates its previous recommendation (2001) that the State party collect data and conduct research on the measures to prevent gender-related racial discrimination, including exposure to violence.

18. While acknowledging the State party’s position on the family registration system, and noting the legislative changes made to protect personal information (2008), the Committee reiterates its concern about the difficulties in the system and that invasion of privacy, mainly of Burakumin, continues (art. 2, 5).

The Committee recommends the enacting of a stricter law, with punitive measures, prohibiting use of the family registration system for discriminatory purposes, particularly in the fields of employment, marriage and housing, and to effectively protect privacy of individuals.

19. Noting with interest the State party’s recognition of discrimination against Burakumin as a social problem as well as the achievements of the Dowa Special Measures Law, the Committee is concerned that the conditions agreed between the State party and Buraku organizations upon termination in 2002 regarding full implementation of the Convention, the enactment of a law on human rights protection and a law on the promotion of human rights education, have not been fulfilled to date. The Committee regrets that there is no public authority specifically mandated to deal with Burakumin discrimination cases and notes the absence of a uniform concept used by the State party when dealing with or referring to Burakumin and policies. Further, the Committee notes with concern that although socio-economic gaps between Burakumin and others have narrowed for some Burakumin, e.g., in the physical living environment and education, they remain in areas of public life such as employment and marriage discrimination, housing and land values. It further regrets the lack of indicators to measure progress in the situation of Burakumin (art. 2, 5).

The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Assign a specific government agency or committee mandated to deal with Buraku issues;

(b) fulfil the commitments made upon the termination of the Special  Measures Law;

(c) engage in consultation with relevant persons to adopt a clear and uniform definition of Burakumin;

(d) supplement programmes for the improvement of living conditions of  Buraku with human rights education and awareness-raising efforts engaging the general public, particularly in areas housing Buraku communities;

(e) provide statistical indicators reflecting the situation and progress of the above-mentioned measures; and

(f) take into account general recommendation No. 32 (2009) on special measures, including the recommendation that special measures are to be terminated when equality between the beneficiary groups and others has been sustainably achieved.

20. While welcoming the recognition of the Ainu as an indigenous people and noting with interest measures reflecting the State party’s commitment including a working group to set up a symbolic public facility and another to conduct a survey on the status of Ainu outside of Hokkaido, the Committee expresses its concern about:

(a) the insufficient representation of Ainu people in consultation fora and in the Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons;

(b) the absence of any national survey on the development of the rights of Ainu people and improvement of their social position in Hokkaido;

(c) The limited progress so far towards implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (art. 2, 5).

The Committee recommends that further steps be taken in conjunction with Ainu representatives to translate consultations into policies and programmes with clear and targeted action plans that address Ainu rights and recommends that the participation of Ainu representatives in consultations be increased. It also recommends that the State party, in consultation with Ainu representatives, consider the establishment of a third working group with the purpose of examining and implementing international commitments such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It urges the State party to carry out a national survey of living conditions of Ainu in Hokkaido and recommends that the State party take into account the Committee’s general recommendation No. 23 (1997). The Committee further recommends that the State party consider ratifying ILO Convention No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries.

21. While highlighting that UNESCO has recognized a number of Ryukyu languages (2009), as well as the Okinawans’ unique ethnicity, history, culture and traditions, the Committee regrets the approach of the State party to accord due recognition to Okinawa’s distinctness and expresses its concern about the persistent discrimination suffered by the people of Okinawa. It further reiterates the analysis of the Special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism that the disproportionate concentration of military bases on Okinawa has a negative impact on residents’ enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights (art. 2, 5).

The Committee encourages the State party to engage in wide consultations with Okinawan representatives with a view to monitoring discrimination suffered by the Okinawans, in order to promote their rights and establish appropriate protection measures and policies.

22. The Committee notes with appreciation the efforts taken by the State party to facilitate education for minority groups, including bilingual counsellors and enrolment guidebooks in seven languages, but regrets the lack of information on the implementation of concrete programmes to overcome racism in the education system. Moreover, the Committee expresses concern about acts that have discriminatory effects on children’s education including:

(a) the lack of adequate opportunities for Ainu children or children of other national groups to receive instruction in or of their language;

(b) the fact that 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;

(c) obstacles in connection with school accreditation and curricular equivalencies and entry into higher education;

(d) the differential treatment of schools for foreigners and descendants of Korean and Chinese residing in the State party, with regard to public assistance,  subsidies and tax exemptions; and

(e) the approach of some politicians suggesting the exclusion of North Korean schools from current proposals for legislative change in the State party to make high school education tuition free of charge in public and private high schools, technical colleges and various institutions with comparable high school curricula (art. 2, 5).

The Committee, in light of its general recommendation No. 30 (2004) on discrimination against non-citizens, recommends that the State party ensure that there is no discrimination in the provision of educational opportunities and that no child residing in the territory of the State party faces obstacles in connection with school enrolment and the achievement of compulsory education. In this regard, it further recommends that a study on the multitude of school systems for foreigners and the preference for alternative regimes set up outside of the national public school system be carried out by the State party. The Committee encourages the State party to consider providing adequate opportunities for minority groups to receive instruction in or of their language and invites the State party to consider acceding to the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education.

23. The Committee notes with appreciation progress on the process of refugee status determination, but reiterates its concern that, according to some reports, different, preferential standards apply to asylum seekers from certain countries and that asylum seekers with different origins and in need of international protection have been forcibly returned to situations of risk. The Committee also expresses its concern over the problems recognized by refugees themselves including lack of proper access to asylum information, understanding about procedures, language/communication questions, and cultural disjunctions, including a lack of understanding by the public of refugee issues (art. 2, 5).

The Committee reiterates its recommendation that the State party take the necessary measures to ensure standardized asylum procedures and equal entitlement to public services by all refugees. In this context, it also recommends that the State party ensure that all asylum-seekers have the right, inter alia, to an adequate standard of living and medical care. The Committee also urges the State party to ensure, in accordance with article 5 (b), that no person will be forcibly returned to a country where there are substantial grounds for believing that his/her life or health may be put at risk. The Committee recommends that the State party seek cooperation with UNHCR in this regard.

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.

25. The Committee is concerned that insufficient steps have been taken by the State party to revise textbooks with a view to conveying an accurate message regarding the contribution of groups protected under the Convention to Japanese society (art. 5).

The Committee recommends that the State party carry out a revision of existing textbooks to better reflect the culture and history of minorities and that it encourage books and other publications about the history and culture of minorities, including in the languages spoken by them. It particularly encourages the State party to support teaching in and of the Ainu and Ryukyu languages in compulsory education.

26. While noting the measures to combat racial prejudices taken by the State party, such as setting up human rights counselling offices and human rights education and promotion, the Committee remains concerned at the lack of concrete information about the media and the integration of human rights in broadcasting of television and radio programmes (art. 7).

The Committee recommends that the State party intensify public education and awareness-raising campaigns, incorporating educational objectives of tolerance and respect, and ensuring adequate media representation of issues concerning vulnerable groups, both national and non-national, with a view to eliminating racial discrimination. The Committee also recommends that the State party pay particular attention to the role of the media in improving human rights education and that it strengthen measures to combat racial prejudice that leads to racial discrimination in the media and in the press. In addition, it recommends education and training for journalists and people working in the media sector to increase awareness of racial discrimination.

27. Bearing in mind the indivisibility of all human rights, the Committee encourages the State party to consider ratifying those international human rights treaties which it has not yet ratified, in particular treaties the provisions of which have a direct bearing on the subject of racial discrimination, such as the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (1990), ILO Convention No. 111 on Discrimination in Employment and Occupation (1958), the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the Convention on Prevention and Punishment of Crime of Genocide (1948).

28. In light of its general recommendation No. 33 (2009) on follow-up to the Durban Review Conference, the Committee recommends that the State party give effect to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted in September 2001 by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, taking into account the Outcome Document of the Durban Review Conference, held in Geneva in April 2009, when implementing the Convention in its domestic legal order. The Committee requests that the State party include in its next periodic report specific information on action plans and other measures taken to implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action at the national level.

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.

30. While noting the position of the State party, the Committee recommends that the State Party ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention adopted on 15 January 1992 at the 14th Meeting of States Parties and approved by the General Assembly in its resolution 47/111 of 16 December 1992. In this connection, the Committee recalls General Assembly resolutions 61/148 of 19 December 2006, and 62/243 of 24 December 2008, in which the Assembly strongly urged States parties to the Convention to accelerate their domestic ratification procedures with regard to the amendment and to notify the Secretary-General expeditiously in writing of their agreement to the amendment.

31. The Committee recommends that the State party’s reports be made readily available and accessible to the public at the time of their submission, and that the observations of the Committee with respect to these reports be similarly publicized in the official and other commonly used languages, as appropriate.

32. Noting that the State Party submitted its Core Document in 2000, the Committee encourages the State Party to submit an updated version in accordance with the harmonized guidelines on reporting under the international human rights treaties, in particular those on the common core document, as adopted by the fifth inter-Committee meeting of the human rights treaty bodies held in June 2006 (HRI/MC/2006/3).

33. In accordance with article 9, paragraph 1, of the Convention and rule 65 of its amended rules of procedure, the Committee requests the State party to provide information, within one year of the adoption of the present conclusions, on its follow-up to the recommendations contained in paragraphs 12, 20 and 21 above. [on human rights bill and enforcement organs, Ainu and Okinawans)

34. The Committee also wishes to draw the attention of the State party to the particular importance of recommendations 19, 22 and 24 and requests that the State party provide detailed information in its next periodic report on concrete measures taken to implement these recommendations.

35. The Committee recommends that the State party submit its seventh, eight and ninth  periodic reports, due on  14 January  2013, taking into account the guidelines for the CERD-specific document adopted by the Committee during its seventy-first session (CERD/C/2007/1), and that it address all points raised in the present concluding observations.

ENDS

List of countries with voting rights for non-citizens, with Japan of the group the absolutist outlier.

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 Blog. 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.  Click on the image to expand in your browser.  Courtesy of Dr SN.

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.  Debito.org’s stance in support of NJ PR suffrage here.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Table of Contents of FRANCA information folder to UN Spec. Rapporteur Bustamante, Mar 23. Last call for submissions from Debito.org Readers.

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 Blog.  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 debito@debito.org 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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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(FRANCA LETTERHEAD)

To Mr. Jorge Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants:

Date: March 23, 2010  Tokyo, Japan

Thank you for coming to Japan and hearing our side of the story.  We have a lot to say and few domestic forums that will listen to us.  –ARUDOU Debito, Chair, FRANCA Japan (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)

ANNOTATED CONTENTS OF THIS FOLDER:

Referential documents and articles appear in the following order:

I. On Government-sponsored Xenophobia and Official-level Resistance to Immigration

This section will seek to demonstrate that discrimination is not just a societal issue.  It is something promoted by the Japanese government as part of official policy.

  1. OVERVIEW:  Japan Times article:  “THE MYOPIC STATE WE’RE IN:  Fingerprint scheme exposes xenophobic, short-sighted trend in government” (December 18, 2007).  Point:  How government policy is hard-wiring the Japanese public into fearing and blaming Non-Japanese for Japan’s social ills. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20071218zg.html
  2. Japan Times article, “Beware the Foreigner as Guinea Pig“, on how denying rights to one segment of the population (NJ) affects everyone badly, as policies that damage civil liberties, once tested on Non-Japanese residents, eventually get applied to citizens too (July 8, 2008). http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20080708zg.html
  3. Japan Times article:  “THE BLAME GAME:  Convenience, creativity seen in efforts to scapegoat Japan’s foreign community” (August 28, 2007), depicting foreigners as criminal invaders, and thwarting their ability to assimilate properly. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20070828zg.html
  4. Japan Times article: “VISA VILLAINS: Japan’s new Immigration law overdoes enforcement and penalties” (June 29, 2004) http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20040629zg.html
  5. Japan Times article, “Demography vs. Demagoguery“, on how politics has pervaded Japanese demographic science, making “immigration” a taboo for discussion as a possible solution to Japan’s aging society. (November 3, 2009) http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20091103ad.html
  6. Japan Times article: “HUMAN RIGHTS SURVEY STINKS:  Government effort riddled with bias, bad science” (October 23, 2007), talking about how official government surveys render human rights “optional” for Non-Japanese, and downplays the discrimination against them. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20071023zg.html
  7. Japan Times article: “WATCHING THE DETECTIVES: Japan’s human rights bureau falls woefully short of meeting its own job specifications” (July 8, 2003), on how the oft-touted Ministry of Justice’s “Jinken Yōgobu” is in fact a Potemkin System, doing little to assist those with human rights issues in Japan. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20030708zg.html
  8. Japan Times article, “Unlike Humans, Swine Flu is Indiscriminate“, on the lessons to be learned from Japan’s public panic from the Swine Flu Pandemic, and how to avoid discrimination once again from arising (August 4, 2009). http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20090804ad.html
  9. Japan Times article, “Golden parachutes for Nikkei only mark failure of race-based policy“, on the downfall of Japan’s labor visa policies, e.g., the “April 2009 repatriation bribe” for the Nikkei Brazilians and Peruvians, sending them “home” with a pittance instead of treating them like laborers who made investments and contributions to Japan’s welfare and pension systems. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090407ad.html

II. On Abuses of Police Power and Racial Profiling vis-à-vis Non-Japanese

This section will seek to demonstrate that one arm of the government, the National Police Agency, has had a free hand in generating a fictitious “Foreign Crime Wave of the 2000s”, by characterizing Non-Japanese in the media as criminals, exaggerating or falsifying foreign crime reportage, bending laws to target them, engaging in flagrant racial profiling of minorities, and otherwise “making Japan the world’s safest country again” by portraying the foreign element as unsafe.

  1. Japan Times article: “DOWNLOADABLE DISCRIMINATION: The Immigration Bureau’s new “snitching” Web site is both short-sighted and wide open to all manner of abuses.” (March 30, 2004), on how online submission sites (which still exist) run by the government are open to the general public, for anonymous reporting of anyone who “looks foreign and suspicious” to the police. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20040330zg.html
  2. Japan Times article: “FORENSIC SCIENCE FICTION: Bad science and racism underpin police policy” (January 13, 2004), how the National Research Institute for Police Science has received government grants to study “foreign DNA” (somehow seen as genetically different from all Japanese DNA) for crime scene investigation.   http://search.japantimes.co.jp/member/member.html?fl20040113zg.htm
  3. 3. Japan Times article:  “FOREIGN CRIME STATS COVER UP A REAL COP OUT:  Published figures are half the story” (Oct 4, 2002), indicating how the National Police Agency is falsifying and exaggerating foreign crime statistics to create the image of Non-Japanese residents as criminals. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20021004zg.html
  4. Japan Times article: “HERE COMES THE FEAR: Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents” (May 24, 2005), showing nascent anti-terrorist policy introduced by the Koizumi Administration specifically targeting Non-Japanese as terrorists. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20050524zg.html
  5. Debito.org Website:  “Ibaraki Prefectural Police put up new and improved public posters portraying Non-Japanese as coastal invaders” (November 20, 2008), and “Ibaraki Police’s third new NJ-scare poster” (July 29, 2009), showing how the Japanese police are putting up public posters portraying the issue as defending Japanese shores from foreign invasion, complete with images of beach storming, riot gear and machine guns.  www.debito.org/?p=2057 and www.debito.org/?p=3996
  6. Japan Times article: “UPPING THE FEAR FACTOR:  There is a disturbing gap between actual crime in Japan and public worry over it” (February 20, 2007), showing the Koizumi policy in full bloom, plus the media’s complicity in abetting the National Police Agency’s generation of a “foreign crime wave”. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20070220zg.html
  7. Japan Times article: “MINISTRY MISSIVE WRECKS RECEPTION: MHLW asks hotels to enforce nonexistent law” (October 18, 2005), http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20051018zg.html and
  8. Japan Times article: “CREATING LAWS OUT OF THIN AIR: Revisions to hotel laws stretched by police to target foreigners” (March 8, 2005), both articles showing how the Japanese police use legal sleight-of-hand to convince hotels to target foreigners for visa and ID checks. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20050308zg.html
  9. Japan Times article: “‘GAIJIN CARD’ CHECKS SPREAD AS POLICE DEPUTIZE THE NATION” (November 13, 2007), showing how extralegal means are being used to expand the “visa dragnets” to people who are not Immigration Officers, or even police officers. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20071113zg.html
  10. Japan Times article, “IC You:  Bugging the Alien“, on the new IC Chip Gaijin Cards and national protests (May 19, 2009), how RFID-chipped ID cards (of which 24/7 carrying for Non-Japanese only is mandatory under criminal law) can be converted into remote tracking devices, for even better racial profiling as technology improves. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20090519zg.html
  11. Japan Times article, “Summit Wicked This Way Comes“, on the Japanese Government’s bad habits brought out by the Hokkaido Toyako 2008 G8 Summit (April 22, 2008) – namely, a clampdown on the peaceful activities of Japan’s civil society, with a focus on targeting people who “look foreign”. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20080422zg.html
  12. Japan Times article, “Forecast:  Rough with ID checks mainly to the north“, focusing on a protest against Hokkaido Police’s egregious racial profiling during the G8 Summit, and how the police dodged media scrutiny and public accountability (July 1, 2008). http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20080701ad.html
  13. Japan Times article, “Cops Crack Down with ‘I Pee’ Checks“, on the Japanese police stretching their authority to demand urine samples from Non-Japanese on the street without warrants (July 7, 2009). http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20090707ad.html
  14. Japan Times article, “PEDAL PUSHERS COP A LOAD ON YASUKUNI DORI: Japan’s low crime rate has many advantages, although harassment by bored cops certainly isn’t one of them” (June 20, 2002), demonstrating how arbitrarily Tokyo police will nab people at night ostensibly for “bicycle ownership checks”, but really for visa checks – if they are riding while “looking foreign”.

III. On Racism and Hate Speech in Japan

This section talks about other activities that are not state-sponsored or encouraged, but tolerated in society as “rational” or “reasonable” discrimination, or natural ascriptive social ordering.  These unfettered acts of discrimination towards minorities, decried by previous Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene as “deep and profound”, are examples of why we need a law against racial discrimination and hate speech in Japan.

1. OVERVIEWNGO Report Regarding the Rights of Non-Japanese Nationals, Minorities of Foreign Origins, and Refugees in Japan (33 pages).  Prepared for the 76th United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Japan, submitted to UNCERD February 2010.  Compiled by Solidarity with Migrants Japan.  Particularly germane to this information packet is Chapter 2 by Arudou Debito, entitled “Race and Nationality-Based Entrance Refusals at Private and Quasi-Public Establishments” (3 pages). http://www.debito.org/?p=6000

2. Japan Focus paper (14 pages):  “GAIJIN HANZAI MAGAZINE AND HATE SPEECH IN JAPAN:  The newfound power of Japan’s international residents” (March 20, 2007).  This academic paper talks about how a “Foreign Crime Magazine” deliberately distorted data (to the point of accusing Non-Japanese of criminal acts that were not actually crimes), and portrayed Chinese and other minorities as having criminality as part of their innate nature. http://www.japanfocus.org/-Arudou-Debito/2386

3. Japan Times article, “NJ Suffrage and the Racist Element” (February 2, 2010), on xenophobic Japan Dietmember Hiranuma’s racist statements towards fellow Dietmember Renho (who has Taiwanese roots), and how it lays bare the lie of the xenophobic Rightists demanding people take Japanese citizenship if they want the right to vote in local elections – when it clearly makes no difference to them if they do. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100202ad.html

4. Japan Times article, “The Issue that dares not speak its name“, on the suppressed debate on racial discrimination in Japan (June 2, 2009), where the term “racial discrimination” itself is not part of the Japanese media’s vocabulary to describe even situations adjudged “racial discrimination” by Japanese courts. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20090602ad.html

5. Japan Times article:  “HOW TO KILL A BILL:  Tottori’s Human Rights Ordinance is a case study in alarmism” (May 2, 2006), on how Japan’s first prefectural-level ordinance against discrimination was actually unpassed months later, due to a hue and cry over the apparent dangers of giving foreigners too many rights. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20060502zg.html

6. Academic Paper (Linguapax Asia, forthcoming) (14 pages):  “Propaganda in Japan’s Media:  Manufacturing Consent for National Goals at the Expense of Non-Japanese Residents”, on how government policy, political opportunism, and the Japanese media fomented a fictitious “Foreign Crime Wave” in the 2000s, and how that caused quantifiable social damage to Non-Japanese residents.

7. Japan Focus paper (2 pages): “JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hotspring Case and Discrimination Against ‘Foreigners’ in Japan” (November 2005), a very brief summary explaining Japan’s first case of racial discrimination that made to the Supreme Court (where it was rejected for consideration), and what it means in terms of Japan’s blind-eying of discrimination. http://japanfocus.org/-Arudou-Debito/1743

8. Debito.org Website:  “Tokyo Edogawa-ku Liberal Democratic Party flyer, likens granting Permanent Residents the right to vote in local elections to an alien invasion”.  (February 24, 2010)  Seventeen local politicians of the formerly-ruling LDP lend their names against the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s liberalizing policy, illustrated with a UFO targeting the Japanese archipelago. http://www.debito.org/?p=6182

9. Debito.org Website:  “More anti-foreigner scare posters and publications, linking Permanent Resident suffrage bill to foreign crime and Chinese invasion”. (March 15, 2010)  Anonymous internet billeters are putting propaganda in home post boxes in Nagoya and Narita, and bookstores are selling books capitalizing on the fear by saying that granting NJ the vote will make Japan “disappear” by turning into a foreign country. http://www.debito.org/?p=6182

10. Debito.org Website:  Anti-foreign suffrage protests in Shibuya Nov 28 2009. The invective in flyers and banners: “Japan is in danger!” (December 4, 2009).  An overview and summary translation of the invective and arguments being put forth by the xenophobic Far-Right in public demonstrations. http://www.debito.org/?p=5353

IV. On the Disenfranchisement of the Non-Japanese communities in Japan

This section touches upon how Non-Japanese minorities are shut out of Japan’s debate arenas, public events, even court rooms, making them largely unable to stand up for themselves and assimilate on their own terms.

1. Trans Pacific Radio:  “RUMBLE AT THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS – A hearing on human rights is disrupted by right wingers” (September 10, 2007), demonstrating how the government will not stop hate speech from Right-wingers even when it willfully disrupts their official fact-finding meetings. http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/09/10/debito-rumble-at-moj/

2. Japan Times article, McDonald’s Japan’s “Mr James” campaign:  Why these stereotyping advertisements should be discontinued. (September 1, 2009), showing how McDonald’s, an otherwise racially-tolerant multinational corporation overseas, is able thanks to lax attitudes in Japan to stoop to racial stereotyping to sell product, moreover not engage in constructive public debate about the issues. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20090901ad.html

3. Japan Times article: “ABUSE, RACISM, LOST EVIDENCE DENY JUSTICE IN VALENTINE CASE: Nigerian’s ordeal shows that different judicial standards apply for foreigners in court” (August 14, 2007), where even foreigners’ testimony is overtly dismissed in court expressly because it is foreign. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20070814zg.html

4. Japan Times article: “TWISTED LEGAL LOGIC DEALS RIGHTS BLOW TO FOREIGNERS:  McGowan ruling has set a very dangerous precedent” (February 7, 2006), in that a store manager who barred an African-American customer entry, expressly because he dislikes black people, was exonerated in court on a semantic technicality. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20060207zg.html

5. Japan Times article: “SCHOOLS SINGLE OUT FOREIGN ROOTS: International kids suffer under archaic rules” (July 17, 2007). An article about the “Hair Police” in Japan’s schools, who force Non-Japanese and ethnically-diverse Japanese to dye their natural hair color black. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070717zg.html

6. Japan Times article: “A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD?: National Sports Festival bars gaijin, and amateur leagues follow suit” (Sept 30, 2003), on Japan’s National Sports Meets (kokutai), and how Japan’s amateur sports leagues refuse Non-Japanese residents’ participation: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20030930zg.html

7. Asahi Shimbun English-language POINT OF VIEW column, “IF CARTOON KIDS HAVE IT, WHY NOT FOREIGNERS?” (Dec 29, 2003).  A translation of my Nov 8 2003 Asahi Watashi no Shiten column, wondering why cartoon characters and wild sealions (see #9 below) are allowed to be registered as “residents” in Japan under the government’s jūminhyō Residency Certificate system, but not Non-Japanese. http://www.debito.org/asahi122903.jpg

8. Japan Times article, “FREEDOM OF SPEECH: ‘Tainted blood’ sees ‘foreign’ students barred from English contests” (Jan 6, 2004), with several odd, blood-based rules indicating a belief that foreign ancestry gives people an advantage in terms of language ability – even if the foreign ethnicity is not Anglophone! http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20040106zg.html

9. Japan Times article on “SEALING THE DEAL ON PUBLIC MEETINGS: Outdoor gatherings are wrapped in red tape.” (March 4, 2003), on the sealion “Tama-chan” issue and demonstrations over the issue of family registry exclusionism (see #7 above).  Why is it so difficult to raise public awareness about minority issues in Japan?  Because police grant permission to public gatherings. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20030304zg.html

V. On What Japan should do to face its multicultural future

This section offers suggestions on what Japan ought to be doing:  Engaging immigration, instead of retreating further into a fortress mentality and defaming those who wish to emigrate here.

1. Japan Focus paper:  “JAPAN’S COMING INTERNATIONALIZATION:  Can Japan assimilate its immigrants?” (January 12, 2006) http://www.japanfocus.org/-Arudou-Debito/2078

2. Japan Times article, “A Level Playing Field for Immigrants” (December 1, 2009), offering policy proposals to the new DPJ ruling party on how to make Japan a more attractive place for immigration. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20091201ad.html

3. Japan Focus paper:  “JAPAN’S FUTURE AS AN INTERNATIONAL, MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY: From Migrants to Immigrants” (October 29, 2007) http://www.japanfocus.org/-Arudou-Debito/2559

4. “Medical Care for Non-Japanese Residents of Japan: Let’s look at Japanese Society’s General ‘Bedside Manner’ First“, Journal of International Health Vol.23, No.1 2008, pgs 19-21. http://www.debito.org/journalintlhealth2008.pdf

VI. Japan and the United Nations

1. Academic paper (forthcoming, draft, 21 pages):  “Racial Discrimination in Japan:  Arguments made by the Japanese government to justify the status quo in defiance of United Nations Treaty”.  This paper points out the blind spot in both United Nations and the Japanese government, which continues to overlook the plight of immigrants (viewing them more as temporary migrant workers), and their ethnically-diverse Japanese children, even in their February 2010 UNCERD Review of Japan (please skip to pages 18-19 in the paper).

2. Japan Times article: “PULLING THE WOOL:  Japan’s pitch for the UN Human Rights Council was disingenuous at best” (November 7, 2006), talking about the disinformation the government was giving the UN in its successful bid to have a leadership post on the newfound HRC. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20061107zg.html

3. Japan Times article: “RIGHTING A WRONG: United Nations representative Doudou Diene’s trip to Japan has caused a stir” (June 27, 2006). http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20060627zg.html

VII. OTHER REPORTS FROM CONCERNED PARTIES (emails)

Topics:  Daycare center teaching “Little Black Sambo” to preschoolers despite requests from international parents to desist, Anonymous statement regarding professional working conditions in Japan for professional and expatriate women (issues of CEDAW), Discriminatory hiring practices at English-language schools (2 cases), Racial profiling at Narita Airport, Harassment of foreign customers by Japanese credit agencies, Hunger strikers at Ibaraki Detention Center, Politician scaremongering regarding a hypothetical  “foreign Arab prince with 50 kids claiming child tax allowance”

ENDS

More anti-NJ scare posters & publications, linking PR suffrage to foreign crime and Chinese invasion

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.  Following up on some previous Debito.org posts (here, 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:

First up is a notice I received world about on February 28, 2010, from a Nagoya resident.  (click on image to expand in your browser)

As you can see from the headline, we have the “Beware of Foreign Crime” slogans, with the claim that foreign crime is rising (an outright lie — it’s been falling for years:  sources here, here, and here)).  It asks people to lock their doors properly and be careful of walking alone.  Then it digresses to say that the DPJ is planning to bring in immigrants and grant them suffrage, and that more crimes are anticipated, so protect your family and property by linking your opposition to the NJ PR suffrage bill to crime prevention.  It then asks people to do their own research, using search terms “NJ suffrage” and “danger”, plus “mass media” and “biased reporting”.

And who put this out?  At the very bottom it just says that these are “internet users” who have woken up to the dangers out there, and are putting this flyer out at their own expense.  They are not in any way affiliated with a group or religion.  They’re just anonymous internet bullies.  (Okay, the last sentence they didn’t the courage of conviction to say:  never mind taking responsibility for their actions — such is the modus operandi of the anonymous bully.)

Next up:  A flyer that appeared in a person’s snailmailbox in Narita, February 23, 2010: (click on image to expand in your browser)

Very well rendered in classic easily-understood manga illustration, it zeroes in on the dangers of NJ PR suffrage in terms of Chinese hordes.  Once they get elected, tiny little carbon-copy slanty-eyed Maos all vote in a bloc in small towns and get elected.  Just like, they claim, some Chinese did in Richmond, BC, Canada, and the candidate allegedly couldn’t even speak English!  Then Chinese will take over public utilities and blackmail old, hardworking Japanese into paying user fees, and then we’ll have an invasion of Chinese voters, ballots in hand.  Before you know it, we’ll be surrounded, thanks to immigrants’ higher birthrates, and we’ll see the same fear of foreigners here as we see in Europe, where the Dutch are being crowded out of their own country.  Etc etc.  In other words, it’s turning the positive arguments for immigration on their head, and making the issue into a zero-sum power game with Japan being lost in the process.

And finally for today, an actual published mook, found on newsstands in Tokyo and no doubt much elsewhere on March 7, 2010.

The title is “Emergency Publication” (aren’t they all?), “NJ PR suffrage will be the end of Japan”.  Same thing in the subtitles:  “China can now legally invade us!”  “The Policy for 10 Million Immigrants will make Japan into a foreign country.”  With flakey Zainichi Taiwanese commentator Kin Birei (who is all over the ideological map whenever she appears on Koko Made Itte Iinkai) saying “Naturalize if you want to vote”, etc.

What follows are the Table of Contents and a sample page, courtesy of MS.  He comments that “The contents aren’t as bad as the cover.”  Then like Miwa Locks “Foreigner-Proof Security” and “Gaijin Hanzai Mook“, once again we have businesses riding the anti-foreign scare wave to make a quick buck.

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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

ENDS

FRANCA MEETINGS SENDAI Sun Mar 21, TOKYO Sat Mar 27

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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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.

Things are not necessarily getting better for Japan’s residents of ethnicity, color, and multiculture.  And they won’t unless somebody pushes for improvements.  That’s what we want to do.

See our goals and contact details at www.francajapan.org.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Asahi: Prof pundit on Toyota uses “culture” benkai to explain recall issues

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.  As a weekend tangent, here’s more on Toyota and how we try to steer attention away from matters of engineering — by blaming it once again on culture, and getting some university prof to mouth it for legitimacy’s sake.  Comments from submitter BT included.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

On Feb 26, 2010, at 11:45 AM, BT wrote:

Greetings and salutations! Just came across this little gem while reading the Asahi Shinbun earlier today. I thought you might be interested (if someone else hasn’t already sent this in): http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201002250455.html

It’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)

And,

“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)

Cheers from Tokyo!  BT

///////////////////////////////////////////
‘Toyota relied too much on Japanese way’
BY TETSUO KOGURE, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

2010/02/26, Interview with Hideo Kobayashi (THE ASAHI SHIMBUN)

What can companies do to avoid the pitfalls that have plagued Toyota Motor Corp. over its vehicle recalls?

Hideo Kobayashi, a visiting professor at Yokohama National University’s Center for Risk Management and Safety Sciences, says Toyota failed to recognize differences in the way Japanese and Americans perceive recalls.

Kobayashi is an expert on crisis management concerning safety measures and is well-versed in recall matters. Because product problems are bound to crop up, he says companies should deal with them while paying attention to detail.

Following are excerpts of an Asahi Shimbun interview with Kobayashi:

* * *

Question: In the United States, Toyota has come under fire for being tardy in issuing recalls. What is your sense of the whole Toyota issue?

Answer: Trouble always occurs when a carmaker develops, produces and introduces a new vehicle. When problems occur, modifying the vehicle is what every automaker (in the world) does as a matter of course. While the modification is usually carried out on cars to be produced in the future, the system of recalls specifically targets vehicles that have already been manufactured so that they are fixed, too.

I think the biggest problem with Toyota was its failure to recognize the difference in thinking in Japan and the United States over the issues of recalls and safety. It apparently made a typically Japanese judgment.

Japanese companies have a strong tradition of being bound by legal regulations, with a deep-rooted perception that issuing a “recall is evil.”

In the United States and Europe, companies believe that from a crisis management viewpoint, “the sooner a recall is done, the easier it is to contain the damage.” As a result people think: “Because there is a recall (system), we can travel in a car without having any worries.”

Overseas subsidiaries (of car manufacturers) that are aware of these things had better take the lead in coping with recalls. However, faced with rapid market expansion and increased sales, Toyota probably decided that it would be easier for the headquarters (in Japan) to make a judgment.

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.

To survive, many Japanese companies need to go overseas for sales and manufacturing, but they won’t succeed if they force their Japanese style (of doing business). Overseas subsidiaries must hire locally and assimilate.

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.

Naturally, there can be various troubles even with cars developed in Japan that are regarded as good in the country. Problems need to be handled with attention to detail.

Q: Toyota has decided to introduce a brake override system that enables a driver to stop the car even if the gas pedal is depressed. Was it a problem that there was no such system previously?

A: It was rather whether (Toyota) had explained to customers the lack of the system and what could happen as a consequence.
ENDS

Japan Times front pages NJ abuses at Ibaraki Immigration Detention Center, updates from Sano-san

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. As followup to yesterday’s Debito.org entry re abuses at one of Japan’s major “Gaijin Tanks” (Immigration Detention Centers, where they keep people indefinitely, sometimes years, for visa processing as potential migrants or refugees, with no legally-accountable incarceration conditions), here’s an excerpt of the Japan Times, followed by an update from Sano-san, one of the activists publicizing this case. International media and other bodies concerned with human rights, please look into this. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

The Japan Times, Friday, March 12, 2010
70 immigration detainees on hunger strike
Fast in Osaka tied to denial of release: activists
By ERIC JOHNSTON, Staff writer

Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100312a1.html

OSAKA — 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.

“Around 70 foreigners began a hunger strike Monday night because they want to be released on a temporary basis,” Norifumi Kishida, an official at the center, said Thursday morning. The center, in Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, is providing food but they are refusing to eat, he said.

Hiromi Sano, a human rights activist involved with immigration issues who has been meeting with detainees over the past few days, said some hunger strikers have applied for refugee status…

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100312a1.html

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

SANO-SAN UPDATES (March 12, 2010)
Thank you for doing the article. I will bring the newspaper today to the detention center. The will be very happy to see it.

There is also a fact that an Indian male committed suicide on January 1st, 2008.

I talked to [name deleted] yesterday on the phone, and there is a male from Ghana who wants to talk to you. I will give him your cellphone #. But a problem is phone system is extremely expensive: 35min for 3000yen in the center.

On Wednesday, 10th, each detainees are called by the officers, and asked who is the leader of this hunger strike. They said to the detainees “We will never let you out of the center. And we will never let you see volunteers (us), because they are behind the curtains and will talk to the media.”

Moses from Uganda that JP covered on Tuesday, he was take to a solitary confinement on Wednesday according to [name deleted]. I am glad that truth has started to reveal to the society, but very much worried about detainees’s safety. I will update you with more info after seeing them today.

(March 13, 2010)

Eric, thank you for the article! I will print it out and give it to detainees on Monday.

I went to the decention center yesterday morning. Hunger strike is still going on, and the center said that they have no plan to answer the demand of detainees. They said that they are pursuading the detainees to stop the hunger strike and eat.

Debito, you can use everything except [name deleted] on your website.
I saw him yesterday morning at the center, and he was inconfident and anxious about himself going to media. (afraid of the abuse from the officers)

Our group decided not to use his 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.

That is all for today. Thank you again. Hiromi

(March 14, 2010)

WITH (西日本入管センターを考える会)の佐野です。

ハンストブログを作成しました。
お読みください。
Here is our blog on hunger strike.  It is all in Japanese, but pleae forward it to your friends if there is anyone interested.  Thank you!
http://ameblo.jp/kansainetwork/

佐野ひろみ
Sano Hiromi
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 11, 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 All. Before I start the Newsletter, some urgent things to impart:

a) NGO FRANCA (http://www.francajapan.org) and I will present for 20 minutes on “Japanese Only” issues to UN Special Rep Jorge Bustamante in Tokyo March 23. If there is anything you would like me to say, or if there is anything you would like me to present him, please send me at debito@debito.org. Please keep submissions concise, under 2 sides of A4 paper (meaning one sheet front and back) when printed.

b) NGO FRANCA (as in Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Assoc.) will have two meetings (Sendai Sun Mar 21, Tokyo Sat Mar 27, more details below). Attend and join us if you like.

c) I will otherwise be on tour (Sendai-Tokyo-Shiga) March 19 to April 3, as I wrote in my last brief missive to you. Revised schedule below.

Now on to the

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 11, 2010

Table of Contents:
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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)

///////////////////////////////////////////////
By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org) in Sapporo, Japan
Daily Blog updates, RSS, Newsletter subs, and podcasts at http://www.debito.org
Freely Forwardable

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

UNITED NATIONS REVIEWS JAPAN

1) Kyodo: GOJ criticized by UN CERD (once again) for inaction towards racial discrim; GOJ stresses “discrim not rampant”

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6037

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2) UN: Transcript of the Japanese Government CERD Review (76th Session), Feb 24 & 25, Geneva.
Point: Same GOJ session tactics as before.

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.

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 (sometimes rendered as “foreign migrants”), 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, at http://www.debito.org/?p=1927) 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:

=======================
UN: I listened attentively to the [Japanese] head of delegation’s speech, and I can’t remember whether he actually used the concept of racism or racial discrimination as such in his speech. [NB: He does not.] It seems that this is something that the state in question prefers to avoid as a term.

=======================
UN: [T]he law punishes attacks on the honor, intimidation, instigation, provocation and violence committed against anyone. While that is what we want too. That is what we are seeking, to punish perpetrators of such crimes and offenses under article 4. What is missing is the racial motivation. Otherwise, the crime is punished in the law. So would the government not be interested in knowing what is the motivation behind such a crime? Should the racial motivation not be taken account of by the Japanese judges? […] I’m really wondering about whether you really want to exclude racial motivation of crimes from all of the Japanese criminal justice system.

=======================
UN: [S]hould I take that Japan is uncomfortable in the international sphere, and it would like to have as little interaction as possible with the rest of the world? […] [D]o you just want to trade but not to interact with other people? That is my worry taken the way you have been dealing with international instruments.

=======================
UN: I’ve been struck by the fact that, and this is what Mr. Thornberry called “technical points,” but it seems that these technical points are still unchanged. There has been no real change between 2001 and today.

=======================
GOJ: With regard to the question of the establishment of a national human rights institution, […] there is no definite schedule in place.

=======================
GOJ: [T]o make a study for the possible punitive legislations for the dissemination of ideas of racial discrimination may unduly discourage legitimate discourse, […] we need to strike a balance between the effect of the punitive measures and the negative impact on freedom of expression. I don’t think that the situation in Japan right now has rampant dissemination of discriminatory ideas or incitement of discrimination. I don’t think that that warrants the study of such punitive measures right now. […] And if the present circumstances in Japan cannot effectively suppress the act of discrimination under the existing legal system, I don’t think that the current situation is as such therefore I do not see any necessity for legislating a law in particular for racial discrimination. [NB: The last sentence is practically verbatim from the 2008 session.]

=======================
GOJ: For those persons who would like to acquire Japanese nationality, there is no fact that they are being urged to change their names. For those people who have acquired the Japanese nationality on their own will they are able to change their name. But, as for the characters that can be used for the name, for the native Japanese as well as the naturalized Japanese, in order not to raise any inconveniences for their social life, it may be necessary for them to choose the easy to read and write characters used in common and Japanese society.

=======================
UN: I think it would be difficult to say that the views of CERD and of the Japanese government have converged in any substantial degree since the time when we last considered the Japanese periodic report that initial report. […] I would on behalf of CERD respectively urge that our suggestions and recommendations for changes in Japanese law and practice to bring it more into line with the international norms in this matter.

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

Full transcript of the session follows. Notable bits in boldface.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6145

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3) UNHCR CERD Recommendation 30 (2004): UN says non-citizens equally protected under treaty and domestic law as citizens

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6133

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4) UN Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Jorge Bustamante visiting Japan 3/21 – 4/1

Who Mr Bustamante is:
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=33806&Cr=migrant&Cr1=

I only have a tentative schedule for Mr Bustamante’s trip, but I do know he’ll be meeting GOJ ministries and human rights groups just about every day of his stay, and visiting Tokyo, Nagoya, and Hamamatsu. If you as part of the media would like more information about the schedule, please contact organizer Mr Okamoto Masataka at okamotomasataka AT nifty DOT com. He is bilingual, so queries in English also OK.

But I just heard yesterday from NGOs concerned with human rights in Japan that I will be part of a group meeting Mr Bustamante on March 23 in Tokyo, as chair of NGO FRANCA (http://www.francajapan.org).

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, http://www.debito.org/?p=6000). But I’m open to suggestions and feedback. If there is anything you would like me to present him, please send me at debito@debito.org. 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.
http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html

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.
http://www.debito.org/?p=6145

Thanks very much for your assistance.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6156

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SOME ODD DEVELOPMENTS

5) DPJ backs down from suffrage bill for NJ Permanent Residents, as “postponement”. Hah.

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6077

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6) Emily Homma on Filipina nurses in Japan being abused by GOJ EPA visa program

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:

More at http://www.debito.org/?p=6056

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7) MOJ removes “health insurance” as guideline for visa renewals

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6100

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SOME ODDER TANGENTS

8 ) Newsweek column: “Toyota and the End of Japan”

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.”…

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: I think the article is focussing overmuch on the symbolism of one company and one economic sector representing economic superpowerdom (imagine if people were to talk about the faltering of GM and make the case that America was coming to an end as we know it). Granted, I think Japan is in relative regional decline (as I think America is in relative world decline; but that was inevitable as other countries get rich and develop). Sorry to sound like a “State of the Union” speech, but I think Japan’s fundamentals are at the moment still relatively strong.

Moreover, seeing the world from the view of capitalism’s obsessive need for perpetual growth is bound to cause a degree of disappointment, as economies mature (or in Japan’s case, age) and offer diminishing marginal returns, while growing economies appear ascendant. Whether that becomes “triumphalism” (if not a bit of schadenfreude, for those with long memories of having to eat crow during Japan’s seemingly-invulnerable Bubble Years) depends on your columnist.

I do agree that Japan is retreating into a shell, however, but I’m not sure which is worse — the racially-based arrogance we saw in Japan during the bubble years, or the racially-based defensiveness we see now.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6127

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9) 2-Channel BBS downed by Korean cyberhackers

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6091

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10) China Daily publishes snotty anti-laowai article

Debito.org Reader R writes: 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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=6060

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DEBITO’S MARCH TOUR:

11) Tokyo-Sendai-Shiga Schedule March 19 to April 3 (revised)

MARCH-APRIL 2010 SCHEDULE

FRI MAR 19 MORIOKA
SAT MAR 20 MORIOKA
SUN MAR 21 SENDAI FRANCA MEETING 1PM

http://www.francajapan.org/index.php/Main_Page#Upcoming_Meetings

MON MAR 22 TOKYO
TUES MAR 23 TOKYO MEETING WITH UN SPECIAL REP BUSTAMANTE
WED MAR 24 INTERNING INTERNING JPN IMMIGRATION POLICY INSTITUTE, MEETING 7PM

http://www.jipi.gr.jp

THURS MAR 25 SHIGA UNIVERSITY SPEECH 1PM-4PM
FRI MAR 26 INTERNING JIPI
SAT MAR 27 TOKYO FRANCA MEETING 6PM-9PM

http://www.francajapan.org/index.php/Main_Page#Upcoming_Meetings

SUN MAR 28 INTERVIEW, TRANS-PACIFIC RADIO
MON MAR 29 INTERNING JIPI, JIPI SPEECH 7PM-9:30 PM TOKYO MITA
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 (debito@debito.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.

More meeting details at
http://www.debito.org/?p=6106

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… and finally …

12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column March 2, 2010 on Racist Sumo Kyoukai (full text)

JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 25

Sumo body deserves mawashi wedgie for racist wrestler ruling
The Japan Times: Tuesday, March 2, 2010, corrected version with links to sources

By DEBITO ARUDOU

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100302ad.html

I’ve noticed how highly Japan regards sports. We love investing taxes in games and facilities, hosting international events and Olympics. Sports are even part of a government ministry, the one in charge of Japan’s science, education and culture.

There is a problem, however, with the concept of sportsmanship here. Sports in Japan only seem to be kosher if Japanese win.

For example, national sports festivals (kokutai) have refused noncitizen high school students, erroneously claiming these events are qualifiers for Japan’s Olympic athletes (Zeit Gist, Sept. 30, 2003).

http://www.debito.org/japantimes093003.html

High school ekiden runs similarly bar foreign students from starting relays, claiming that non-Japanese (NJ) have an unfair advantage. NJ creating too much of a lead at the beginning allegedly makes things “dull” for Japanese fans. (Recall that old myth about Japanese legs being too short to run fast? Tell that to marathon gold medalist and world record-holder Naoko “Q-chan” Takahashi.)

http://www.debito.org/?p=417

Even sumo, the national sport (kokugi), has faced charges of racism, most famously from former grappler Konishiki, whom The New York Times in 1992 reported as saying his promotion to the top rank of yokozuna was denied because he isn’t Japanese.

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/22/world/sumo-star-charges-racism-in-japan.html?pagewanted=1

But sumo has enjoyed plausible deniability, having had four foreign-born yokozuna (Akebono, Musashimaru, Asashoryu and Hakuho). After Asashoryu’s retirement, there remain 42 foreign-born rikishi in the top ranks. Ergo sumo is internationalizing, right?

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100216i1.html

Not any more. The Japan Sumo Association announced on Feb. 23 that it would [worsen the already strict limit on] 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.

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

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).

http://www.debito.org/?p=6026#comment-191216

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

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/sumo/news/20100223-OYT1T01095.htm

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?

http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/information/tnl-01.html

So The New York Times was right after all: The JSA is racist. If you are born into a status that you can never escape, “Japaneseness” becomes not a matter legal status, but of birth. Of caste. Of race. Once a foreigner, always a foreigner.

Put another way, if I were to apply to become a sumo wrestler (I certainly am in their weight class), I would have to become a foreigner again, despite being a naturalized Japanese citizen for almost 10 years. Somebody deserves a huge mawashi wedgie.

JSA’s justification? One stable master expressed fears that sumo was being “overrun with foreign wrestlers.” Perhaps they’re afraid of being overrun by talented wrestlers who just happen to be foreign? That’s not supposed to be a concern when a sport has a level playing field.

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. For example, baseball-reference.com notes (under the category of “frivolities”) that more than a quarter of all active baseball players in the U.S. (28.4 percent) were foreign-born in 2009.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/friv/placeofbirth.cgi?TYPE=active&from=2009&to=0&DIV=countries&submit=Run+Query

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.

Some might say the nativists have the right to decide who gets into their “club.” But that’s not how sportsmanship works. And it’s one reason why sumo will lose out to real international sports — like judo, for example, now an Olympic event. Sumo was denied that honor. Now we can see why: It’s run by bigots.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ss20070612mb.html

O Takanohana, superstar yokozuna recently elected to the JSA board with promises to reform this troubled organization, where art thou when we needed you most? How could you let this xenophobia come to pass? Or have you shown your true colors at last?

Somebody take the JSA to court. These racist ignoramuses killing this world-famous sport need to be taught a lesson — that Japanese citizenship is not an inconvenient “loophole.” It is the law, and they too are beholden to it.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6085
ENDS

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All for now. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org) in Sapporo, Japan
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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 11, 2010 ENDS

Japan Times & Sano Hiromi on violence towards NJ detainees at Ibaraki Detention Center, hunger strike

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.  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 debito@debito.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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo.

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From: Sano Hiromi < sanohiromi3@gmail.com >
日付: 2010年3月10日0:17
件名: Ibaraki Detention Center

Hello and Hajimemashite, Debito. My name is Hiromi Sano. I am a volunteer to support detainees at Ibaraki Detention Center.
Our organization name is 入管問題かんさい支援ネットワーク (Kansai Network)
6 groups are involved in this Kansai Network.
RAFIQ(在日難民との共生ネットワーク)
WITH (西日本入管センターを考える会)
Amnesty International Osaka (アムネスティ・インターナショナル大阪難民チーム)
日中友好雄鷹会大阪府本部
TRY (外国人労働者・難民と共に歩む会)
日本ビルマ救援センター

It is a very brutal and abusive place to be. Since March 8th, about 80 male detainees are doing hunger strike.

They demand that the immigration disclose the reasons why their applications for release from the detention center were rejected despite the fact that their refugee claims are reviewed administratively or judicially with support from lawyers or legal assistance workers. To solve the situation, they are asking for a talk with the chief of the center.

Last night (March 9), detainees in A block (about 40 people) refused to go into their room insisting they need to talk with the chief, and all went to a room with showers and locked the door. They said they would not come out of the shower room unless the officers hear their voice.

Aroud 5 o’clock in the afternoon, about 40 officers came. According to the detainees, 10 of them were armed officers (with the helmet, protective clothing, protective shoes..). They used a chainsaw to cut the door of the shower room, and came in and restrain 4 of them. And now 4 detainees are kept in solitary confinement.

This hunger strike is still going on, and some of detainees wish to die because of this horrible situation.

If you are interested in this situation, please contact me at sanohiromi3 AT gmail DOT com.
You can provide my cellphone number to the reporters
[reporters, contact me at debito@debito.org]

UPDATE MARCH 11, 2010
Hunger strike is still going on, and five detainees are still kept in solitary confinement.  Our group will stand at JR Ibaraki Station(Osaka), and protest from 2pm to 6pm today.

Making this to public gives encouragement to the detainees, so thank you for doing this.  Hiromi Sano (WITH)
email ends

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JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE (excerpt)

THE ZEIT GIST
Detainees allege abuse at Kansai holding center
Guards meting out harsh treatment behind the walls of Ibaraki immigration facility, say inmates

By DAVID McNEILL
Special to The Japan Times

Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100309zg.html

Excerpts follow:
In 2005, Japan deported two members of a seven-member Kurdish family who had been “recognized as refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees under its own rules,” according to a recent report by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA). Many believe the family’s decision to publicly protest and speak to the media about their treatment was a factor in the deportation decision (Zeit Gist, April 29, 2003; March 29, 2005; July 3, 2007)….

Another inmate at the west Japan center, 37-year-old Mujahid Aziz Iqbal, says he has lost over 14 kg in weight and the use of his legs since last October, probably because of a psychosomatic disorder. He was convicted of selling stolen cars and faces deportation back to Pakistan. In addition to specific claims of mistreatment by some of the guards, he says the center has refused his demand for treatment and responded to his condition by offering “useless” painkillers…

Ssentamu, meanwhile, believes that the conditions inside the center, including rooms with single toilets shared by eight to 10 inmates, serve a purpose: deterrence.

“These are deliberate acts aimed at breaking down the will to seek refuge in this country.” He says some inmates have been inside the center for over two years…

“Many people suspect that because the Japanese government is afraid to deport people in case of international criticism, they would rather detain them. It’s a means of deterrence — foreigners know that if they come here without a visa, they’re going to suffer. It’s sending out a message: Don’t come here.”

Ssentamu is still in a cell by himself — punishment, he claims, for protesting and urging others to speak out. Confinement is worsened by a myriad of petty official humiliations including cold food and a lack of water to flush toilets. Is he just making life hard for himself by breaking the rules and refusing to accept his punishment?

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100309zg.html
ENDS

Just heard: NGO FRANCA and I will be meeting with UN Special Rapporteur Jorge Bustamante March 23, Tokyo. Anything you want me to say or give him?

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.  Short entry for today.  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 debito@debito.org.  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 in Sapporo

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

ENDS

UN: Transcript of the Japanese Government CERD Review (76th Session), Feb 24 & 25, Geneva. Point: Same GOJ session tactics as before.

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. 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 (sometimes rendered as “foreign migrants”), 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:

UN:  I listened attentively to the [Japanese] head of delegation’s speech, and I can’t remember whether he actually used the concept of racism or racial discrimination as such in his speech. [NB: He does not.] It seems that this is something that the state in question prefers to avoid as a term.

UN: [T]he law punishes attacks on the honor, intimidation, instigation, provocation and violence committed against anyone. While that is what we want too. That is what we are seeking, to punish perpetrators of such crimes and offenses under article 4. What is missing is the racial motivation. Otherwise, the crime is punished in the law. So would the government not be interested in knowing what is the motivation behind such a crime? Should the racial motivation not be taken account of by the Japanese judges? […] I’m really wondering about whether you really want to exclude racial motivation of crimes from all of the Japanese criminal justice system.

UN: [S]hould I take that Japan is uncomfortable in the international sphere, and it would like to have as little interaction as possible with the rest of the world? […] [D]o you just want to trade but not to interact with other people? That is my worry taken the way you have been dealing with international instruments.

UN: I’ve been struck by the fact that, and this is what Mr. Thornberry called “technical points,” but it seems that these technical points are still unchanged. There has been no real change between 2001 and today.

GOJ:  With regard to the question of the establishment of a national human rights institution, […] there is no definite schedule in place.

GOJ: [T]o make a study for the possible punitive legislations for the dissemination of ideas of racial discrimination may unduly discourage legitimate discourse, […] we need to strike a balance between the effect of the punitive measures and the negative impact on freedom of expression. I don’t think that the situation in Japan right now has rampant dissemination of discriminatory ideas or incitement of discrimination. I don’t think that that warrants the study of such punitive measures right now. […]   And if the present circumstances in Japan cannot effectively suppress the act of discrimination under the existing legal system, I don’t think that the current situation is as such therefore I do not see any necessity for legislating a law in particular for racial discrimination. [NB:  The last sentence is practically verbatim from the 2008 session.]

GOJ:  For those persons who would like to acquire Japanese nationality, there is no fact that they are being urged to change their names. For those people who have acquired the Japanese nationality on their own will they are able to change their name. But, as for the characters that can be used for the name, for the native Japanese as well as the naturalized Japanese, in order not to raise any inconveniences for their social life, it may be necessary for them to choose the easy to read and write characters used in common and Japanese society.

UN: I think it would be difficult to say that the views of CERD and of the Japanese government have converged in any substantial degree since the time when we last considered the Japanese periodic report that initial report. […] I would on behalf of CERD respectively urge that our suggestions and recommendations for changes in Japanese law and practice to bring it more into line with the international norms in this matter.

Full text of the session follows.  Notable bits in boldface.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Transcription of the Japanese Government CERD Review (76th Session)

Transcribed by Ralph Hosoki, Solidary with Migrants Japan

First Day[1]

(February 24, 2010 (15:00~18:00): Japanese government presentation and CERD questions)

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

For that reason and this will be followed by interventions of members of the committee in the order that they request the floor. After they have spoken which I expect which would take us to six o’clock this evening and even then I suspect there won’t be enough time but in the next morning that is tomorrow we will have the first round of responses from your side and for that you will have another hour and 15 minutes to respond to the questions and what I anticipate is that there will be so many questions that you will have to have clusters and probably you will have to have a working dinner, your delegation, going late into the evening in my experience, which I think you’re members of your delegation can look forward to and after that once again, members of the committee will ask a second round of questions, and then we will again give you time to respond whatever you can within the time that is available so I think we look forward to an extremely productive interactive dialogue and without further ado sir, I should like to give you the floor to introduce your report.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you, thank you Mr. Chairperson, in order to save time, I think I will omit the introduction of my delegation who came from Tokyo from various ministries. I think you have a list of our delegation at your hand. So I will start from the beginning, my sort of opening remarks.

Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, it’s great honor to be engaged in constructive dialogue today with the committee. I would like to extend opening remarks on behalf of the Japanese delegation at the beginning of the examination.

In September 2009, our Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama shortly after he took office, addressed the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly, and advocated the concept of “Yuuai” or fraternity as Japan’s new principle for dealing with domestic and diplomatic issues. This principle is a way of thinking that respects one’s own freedom and individual dignity while also respecting the freedom and individual dignity of others. The government of Japan will implement this convention based on this principle.

Furthermore Prime Minister Hatoyama in January this year, made a policy speech at the Diet under the main theme of protecting people’s lives. The Prime Minister stated as follows, “In order to prevent individuals from becoming isolated, and to create an environment in which everyone, the young, women, elderly, and those challenged by disabilities, can use their talents to play a full part in society with a sense of purpose and pride. We will work to obtain an accurate understanding of the employment situation and work to rectify the systems and practices that currently act as barriers.”

Japan believes that all human rights and fundamental freedoms are universal values and our legitimate concerns of the international community. It is with this belief that Japan is actively engaged in efforts to protect and promote human rights with the attitude of dialogue and cooperation.  As part as part of such efforts in August of 2008, Japan compiled and submitted to the committee the third to sixth periodic reports on Japan’s achievement in efforts with regard to human rights guaranteed by ICERD. In addition to the periodic reports, we made maximum effort in compiling and submitting answers to the list of issues to the committee.

The ICERD is the main mechanism for dealing with racial discrimination and all other forms of discrimination. And the universal implementation of the convention is important for creating a society without racial discrimination. It is needless to say that after ratification of international conventions, it is important to see to what extent the rights stipulated in them are protected and promoted by each state party. In this respect, we are glad to have the opportunity to be examined by the committee through which we can review the status of Japan’s implementation of the convention from an international standpoint, and reflect the findings in our diplomatic policies.  We are looking forward to listening to various views from the members of the committee in order to improve the human rights situation in Japan.

Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, I would like to take this opportunity to explain some of the major steps the government of Japan has taken in relation to the convention. First, Japan is working actively to establish comprehensive policies for the respecting of the human rights of the Ainu people. Following the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, the Japanese Diet, our Parliament, unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the recognition of the Ainu people as an indigenous people in June 2008. In response to this resolution, the government of Japan recognized the Ainu people as an indigenous people who live in the Northern part of the Japanese islands, especially in Hokkaido, and established the Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons on Policies for the Ainu People with a representative of the Ainu people participating as a member. The panel members visited regions where many Ainu people reside and exchanged views with Ainu people. In 2009 the panel compiled a report and submitted it to the government of Japan. In this report, the panel expressed its views that the government of Japan should listened sincerely to the opinions of the Ainu people and make efforts to establish Ainu policy reflecting the situations of Japan as well as the Ainu people. This view is based on the recognition that Ainu people are an indigenous people and the government of Japan has a strong responsibility for the rehabilitation of their culture. The report identified three basic principles on implementing the Ainu related policies. That is one, respect for the Ainu people’s identities; Two, respect for diverse cultures and ethnic harmony; and three, nationwide implementation of Ainu related policy. The report also made recommendations on concrete policy measures including promoting education and public awareness about the history and culture of the Ainu. Constructing parks as a symbolic space for ethnic harmony and promoting the Ainu culture including the Ainu language.  Furthermore, the report advised the Government of Japan to conduct research on the living conditions of the Ainu people outside of Hokkaido and to implement measures for improving their living conditions throughout Japan. In August 2009, the government of Japan established the Comprehensive Ainu Policy Department to develop an all encompassing Ainu policy. The first director of this department Mr. Akiyama is sitting next to me. And in December 2009, decided to set up the meeting for promotion of the Ainu policy with the participation of representatives of the Ainu people. The first session of the meeting took place last month followed by the first working group next month, and that meetings are scheduled to be held regularly. The government of Japan will materialize policies and also follow up on the implementation of policy.  Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, Prime Minister Hatoyama in his policy speech at the Diet in October last year, committed “to promote culture of diversity to enable everyone to live with dignity by respecting the history and culture of the Ainu people who are indigenous to Japan.” In this direction, the government of Japan will create an environment which will enable the Ainu people to be proud of their identities and inherit their culture.

Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, secondly, let me explain our effort to promote human rights education and enlightenment. The government of Japan believes that everyone is entitled to human rights, should correctly understand other people’s human rights and respect each other. Under this belief, the government of Japan place importance on human rights education and enlightenment. In December 2000, the government of Japan enacted the Act for Promotion of Human Rights Education and Encouragement which led to the formation of the Basic Plan for Promotion of Human Rights Education and Encouragement in March 2002. According to the basic plan, the human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice expand and strengthen awareness raising activities to disseminate and enhance the idea of respect for human rights. Various activities are conducted by the organs, with a view to fostering human rights awareness as appropriate in age of globalization for eliminating prejudice and discrimination against foreigners as well as for promoting at an attitude of tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, religions, lifestyles, and customs of different origins. Human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice also have been endeavoring to protect human rights through other activities such as human rights counseling, investigation, and the disposition of human rights infringement cases. In particular, in April 2004, the government of Japan fully revised the regulations of human rights infringement incidents treatment to ensure quick, flexible, and appropriate enforcement of investigation and relief activities. Based on this revision, when the human rights organs recognize the fact of human rights abuse case, including acts of racial discrimination, they commence relief activities immediately and carry out the necessary investigation in cooperation with the administrative organs concerned. If it becomes clear as a result of the investigation, that human rights abuse including acts of racial discrimination has occurred, human rights organs take various steps to relieve individual victims. For instance, they admonish and order the perpetrator to stop such acts of racial discrimination, and request that those parties authorized to substantially respond to the case, take necessary measures for the relief of the victims and prevention of reoccurrence.

The human rights organs also endeavor to prevent reoccurrence of act of racial discrimination, by educating the persons concerned with regard to respect for human rights. Furthermore, from the perspective of remedying human rights issues, Japan is currently working on studies aimed at the establishment of a national human rights institution which independent of the government would deal with human rights infringements and remedy the situation as quickly as possible. The Human Rights Protection Bill which the government of Japan submitted to the Diet in 2002, provided that Human Rights Commission to be independent of the government take measures to remedy human rights infringements in a simple, quick, and flexible matter. However, the bill did not pass due to the dissolution of the House of Representatives in October 2003. Therefore, currently a new bill on a new human rights remedy system is under review under this new government of Japan.

Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, I would like to avail myself on this occasion to announce Japan’s new initiatives with regard to refugee related policies. As part of its effort to make international contribution and provide humanitarian assistance, the government of Japan decided to start a pilot resettlement program and admit Myanmarnese refugees staying in the ____ Camp in Thailand.  More specifically, Japan will admit 30 people once a year, for three consecutive years from this year. That means in total approximately 90 people. For this purpose, three weeks ago, we dispatched a mission to the camp to interview candidate refugees. Japan is proud that it will become the first Asian country to introduce a resettlement program. Japan will make the most effort in order to live up to the expectations from the international community. The government of Japan in cooperation with relevant organizations and NGOs will provide refugees substantial support for resettlement such as guidance for adjusting to Japanese society, Japanese language training, and improvement consultation and job referral. Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, Japan, on the basis of that spirit declared in the Constitution and the preamble of the convention disallow any discrimination against race and ethnicity, and continue to make tireless efforts to improve the human rights situation in Japan. The Japanese delegation is ready to most sincerely provide answers on any matters of concern you may have during this important examination. So it’s my hope that we will have constructive discussions. Thank you very much Mr. Chairperson.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you sir. Sir, would you like to give the floor to other members of his delegation at this stage or would you prefer to do that later? I thank you for your introduction and this gives us more time for the committee members to pose questions and I give the floor now to our distinguished rapporteur Mr. Thornberry.

Mr. Thornberry

Thank you Mr. Chairman, and again I would like to thank the delegation, the head of delegation very warmly for opening address and for the report and responding so promptly to the questions submitted by this rapporteur. It is a great privilege for me to act as country rapporteur on this occasion. This is the second occasion in which Japan has reported to this committee, and the first was in 2001 when I had just joined the committee. You ratified in 1995, you have not or not yet accepted the optional or____optional declaration in relation to the individual communications procedure of the committee nor indeed as I understand to the amendments to article 8. Both of which procedures I think in our previous meeting we commended or the article 14 procedure and the amendments to article 8. Nevertheless, you’ve consolidated many issues in your succinct report, and we are very grateful for that.

If I may start with perhaps a number of rather technical matters relating to the convention and the surrounding framework of human rights. 53 out of 173 states parties have accepted the individual communications procedure, and I note also that Japan has not yet accepted the optional protocol to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights so it doesn’t engage with that system, but colleagues would commend article 14 to you as well as other procedures because it gets to the heart of issues about racial discrimination. Looking at your spectrum of human rights commitments there are in fact a number of cases in which instruments relevant to our convention perhaps would engage your further reflection, notably ILO Convention 111 on discrimination in employment, ILO Convention 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples, and the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education. All of these are related in one way or the other to the issues that CERD deals with so it might be interesting for you to reflect upon widening the circle of human rights commitments. I also note that you didn’t ratify the Genocide Convention of 1948, but that you have I think accepted the statute of the International Criminal Court which is interesting because of course, part of the jurisdiction, the substantive jurisdiction of the statute is precisely the crime of genocide. Of course the decision to accede or not to accede to a particular convention is a sovereign prerogative and we respect that, but certainly, some of the conventions I’ve referred to do serve as benchmarks of good practice and can in fact be very very helpful I think for a state in elaborating its policy, and I’ve only singled out those which are relevant to the issue of racial discrimination, and they also enable the state to engage with certain supervision systems which again can be I think a positive experience.

Before passing on from this review, the general situation, CERD and other relevant conventions, I would like to recall one historical very positive fact and that was Japan’s pioneering effort in the time of the League of Nations to try to insert a provision in the League system on the equality of nations and peoples, and following that the world had to wait until the United Nations Charter before we had the major reflection of the principle of nondiscrimination; in this case on the grounds of race, sex, language, or religion, and our convention and all other conventions stem from that important architectural aspect of the human rights program.

If I may take some very specific matters on the report, supplemented by your questions, the report and your responses contain many statistics including figures disaggregated by citizenship, nationality, but paragraph 4 of the report says that ethnic breakdown for Japan is not readily available, Japan does not conduct population surveys from an ethnic viewpoint. I must say this has caused the rapporteur some heartache in the sense of trying to get a grip on relevant figures. For example, in relation to Koreans, you say that 600,000 approximately, that’s just round up those numbers, foreigners who are Koreans; 400,000 of which are special permanent residents, but there is also a figure of some 320,000 naturalizations that I have come across, and in recent years up to 2008, so we are actually talking about a million, something roughly around a million Koreans and Korean descent. The committee often asks for statistics; we understand the difficulties that states may have for various reasons including reasons to do with privacy and anonymity and so on, not wanting to pigeonhole people in certain ethnic categories, but it can be tremendously helpful I think and also in many cases necessary to get a grasp of the situation by understanding its dimensions and if an ethnic question can’t be asked in a direct way in a census, we often encourage states to find creative ways around this, including things like use of languages we recommended to other states from time to time; social surveys, etc., and a number of other methods that are…this is essentially designed not simply to help the committee – that’s not the point – but to help the state, I think to understand the dimensions of a particular question, and enable them to focus their policy more appropriately.

Your response to question 1 regarding people of Okinawa and Dowa Burakumin, simply recalls that they are Japanese nationals under the law, but of course that is a legal position and doesn’t directly respond to a question on statistics. I mean all countries have some provision or other on equality before the law, but this does not prevent statistics, ethnic or otherwise, being offered preferably on the basis of self definition. I would simply say that identity in this world is a more complex notion than perhaps than nationality in the legal sense – nationality or citizenship. On some of the key issues that are of interest to the committee and we had extensive NGO information and other information. We don’t for example have information on Okinawan people, because you reference that case equally be equality before the law. So the question of visibility of minorities arises significantly in Japan, and we don’t have information on ethnic minorities who have Japanese citizenship. We have information on foreigners of various kinds which you have kindly provided. But we don’t really have adequate information to make our own judgments on ethnic minorities with Japanese citizenship. We always have in some form or other a data question which we put to states and many different approaches to addressing this question are possible.

The second issue, rather technical one on the place of the convention in the law of Japan and the prohibition of racial discrimination, we have noted and it’s still the case that there is no general law in Japan prohibiting racial discrimination, and Japan has not regarded it as necessary to adopt specific legislation to outlaw racial discrimination, and the citation in defense of this position is article 14 of the Constitution whereby it talks about equality before the law and no discrimination on grounds of race, creed, sex, social status, or family origin. If I may just make a few brief points on this. In the first place, I think the list of grounds relevant to this convention in your constitution is narrower, and it doesn’t…we have five grounds, and it doesn’t cover them, of course there may be overlaps between the grounds – that is a possibility – but nevertheless, I think…it seems the Constitution is a more restrictive list than the convention.

The second, I’m not absolutely sure from responses and information we’ve received generally about the systematic application of this convention to private conduct in the situation of Japan. The convention directs itself in addition obviously to activities of the state, the state authorities and state organs, it directs itself to the activities of persons, groups, and organizations, and is a convention based on public life, which is more than the public administration of the state. We found some cases against actions against private persons they seem in some cases unsuccessful, but a comment would be welcome on this. I mean most cases, I would say these days, most states do not have direct discriminatory provisions it’s often the activities of private persons that the committee is dealt with as engaging responsibilities in gauging the obligations of the state under the convention. But following that, I’m also not absolutely clear if there is a prohibition on indirect discrimination in the law of Japan. The convention does not actually speak of indirect discrimination, it talks about intentional discrimination, discrimination in effect, but we have tended to translate that using contemporary language into the idea of indirect discrimination.

The other point on the question of how the convention reaches down into the law, it’s fairly clear that certain elements in the convention do require legislation. One may point out article 2, article 4, article 6 for example, clearly require legislation. Article 4 perhaps is in some ways the clearest. There’s an obligation to legislate under the convention in terms of racist speech and in terms of organizations. And we have elaborated that in general recommendation 15. We’ve talked about the convention in large measure being non-self executing; doesn’t apply to all of the convention, but certainly certain aspects of it do require legislation, so I would offer that thought for your reflection.

The other point is that there are cases we note where the convention has functioned as a criteria in the interpretation of laws, but only maybe as one criteria among others and perhaps that doesn’t have the same level of stability and predictability as a prospective law on racial discrimination. We would think it would guarantee a greater measure of legal certainty, and influence the conduct of potential perpetrators of racial discrimination and potential victims equally. And we note the various issues raised including today on the human rights protection bill; the one that lapsed and again we are always interested in current plans and projects to revive something similar, but I think…I can’t speak for the committee in advanced entirely, but the idea of a separate law I think does commend itself as very much the best way to implement the obligations under the convention.

On another technical matter, but one with a little more human content perhaps than I’ve been arguing so far. We asked you about one of the grounds of discrimination, namely the ground of descent, one of the five grounds for racial discrimination in article 1 with particular reference to people of the Dowa or Burakumin, and paragraph 8 of our previous observations made it clear that we felt that descent had its own meaning within the spectrum of grounds, and we’ve asked this again, and you’ve made a response – the response is a very interesting one. Since we asked this question last time, of course we’ve had General Recommendation number 29 on descent based discrimination.  Your response seems to claim that descent has no really separate meeting and is subsumed by the other grounds referred to in article 1. On the contrary the committee’s view is that while it is, we would say “in pari materia” of the same kind of substance as the others it does have a separate meaning and adds something to the convention. You also referred to the travaux préparatoires [the official record of a negotiation] of the convention and argued that descent was introduced to cover up confusions about the term national origin and so on, but there are also if one looks at the travaux just more widely, there are many references to caste and descent based systems in those travaux, particularly in the context of discussions on special measures.

My other maybe technical point is that, of course examination of the travaux of a treaty is important, but in the scheme of interpretation of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties for example, the travaux are supplementary means of interpretation, and the text and subsequent practice are the primary means of interpretation. We note with great interest that there was in fact for the Buraku Dowa program of special measures, for a long period of time, I think maybe 30 years, but they were terminated in 2002. But I think the groups concerned did hope that certain compensation as it were in legal terms in terms of policy and legislation would arise from that to make up for the termination of the special measures program. We issued a recommendation last August on special measures, and our view is that special measures may be terminated when sustainable equality has been achieved. So that they’ve done their job in a way that the community itself can sustain its position in society. But nevertheless, this again a rather technical discussion we welcome the embracing of the spirit of the convention as you put it in your response, and this is very welcome. But then again you have pointed that broad legal guarantees and so on and that legislation is there but of course legislation, as a committee says, always has to be implemented and not simply promulgated, so I think real action and continuing action in light of your good intentions would be much appreciated by the committee.

I would just ask one question perhaps, is there actually a government department or ministry that specifically addresses the Buraku question which is very specific to Japan but also has certain analogies with systems elsewhere, and if not special measures what kind of general measures, because we have quite a number of presentations to the effect that in the field of housing, education, gaps between Buraku and other members of the population of Japan have narrowed, but perhaps not necessarily sufficiently. I there are still issues to do with marriage and Buraku Lists, and also discriminatory acts of individuals and derogatory comments in the mass media, the Internet, and there are issues around housing and land values and so on, which I think do deserve attention. These are difficult matters and they reach down to the mores of society in a very deep sense, and the state clearly I think has good intentions, in this respect, there is also I think vigorous activity in civil society so that one hopes that action and cooperation will continue and intensify.

Sorry it is slightly back to technicalities again, but on the issue of reservations Japan has entered a reservation to articles 4a and 4b of the convention in the interest of freedom of expression. It does not cover article 4 paragraph c which is about public authorities and public institutions to promote or incite racial discrimination. So your reservation doesn’t in fact cover inflammatory statements by public officials, and NGOs have presented example of that. Article 4A and 4B are accepted only to the extent of the fulfillment of the obligations is compatible with the guarantee of the right to freedom of assembly, association, and expression and other rights in the Constitution of Japan.  That was the reservation.

If I can just unpack the reservation very briefly it doesn’t refer to international standards on freedom of expression and therefore one has a problem with many of these reservations and there are analogies elsewhere that they tie the reservation to the text of a constitution so that in inverse situations through the principle of international law, if the constitution changes does that imply that the international obligations change? Which should really be the other way. It is also potentially a very wide reservation because it not only talks about specified rights but also other unspecified rights in the Constitution. We’re not always clear why reservations are maintained; perhaps you might have more to say on this. We are certainly not going to enter a legal struggle with the state party though we can and have often commended states and recommended states to either reduce the scope of reservations or to remove them or at least examined very seriously about whether there is a continuing necessity to maintain the reservation and the reasons therefore.

Your legislation or understanding of your principles on hate speech is that you have a fairly tolerant approach in that most of the legal action as it were takes place in the field of defamation against private individuals, but perhaps class defamation or derogatory marks about a group as a whole might not be so easily caught within your present structure and also for example article 4 a deals with racist propaganda which deals with group; it is clearly expressed in article 4 as well as individual dimensions. And CERD has always regarded article 4 as a high importance in combating racial discrimination and an essential reinforcement for the educational value of an educational program or the educational value of other provisions against racial discrimination. Anyway we know that in international law freedom of expression is not unlimited and there are dangers to a society in what one might call a coarsening of public debate, and we have been presented with evidence of rather gross unpleasant statements directed against groups in Japan. I won’t go into that further perhaps colleagues might want to take that one through.

Turning to particular groups, and going slightly away from the technicalities on the Ainu we note the welcome change to recognize the Ainu as an indigenous people and the support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Panel of Eminent Persons, the Consultation Forum, and the head of delegation has given us an update on these matters today. I suppose what we are interested in is the immediately proximate steps to be taken in conjunction with representatives of the Ainu to translate the good intentions of the government into practical programs, and indeed recognition as an indigenous group does bring with it in train quite a number of issues to do with identity, culture, language, land rights, sacred sites; there are a whole range and I’m sure you’re fully aware that any kind of legislative program based upon current standards of indigenous rights would in fact be a fairly extensive program, but anyway we note the positive change, welcome them greatly, and wish you well in your efforts to implement those good intentions.

On Okinawans, we note your response to question 18, and your reluctance to extend indigenous peoples term to natives of Okinawa. Okinawa, however has a fairly distinctive history – some of it I have to say from 1879 onwards was a very difficult history for the people of Okinawa who continue to be…live in a very heavily militarized part of Japan the with very small part of Japan’s total area but an enormous percentage of its military installations. They do seem to this member of this committee to be elements of a distinct culture, a distinct language, a distinct history, and certain prior presence in Okinawa, significant political and other presence before 1879.  We note that Okinawan language, or Ryukyu, is not taught in public education in Japan nor in Okinawa, and again you mention the people of Okinawa are Japanese nationals, but again that seems to me to be a citizenship question. We note the visit of the special rapporteur on racism a few years ago to Okinawa alleging lack of consultation and other matters; perhaps, if you have further comments on that it would be interesting to hear them. But I also note that UNESCO has regarded the Okinawan language as a distinct language so I think in this situation many countries would accept the Okinawans, an analogous group, either as an ethnic minority or an indigenous people.

On the Korean question I think I have puzzled over these statistics long enough and I think I’ve explained where I think I have arrived on this question. We did have a question about – we put this last time as well – on change of names in order to get naturalization and you have responded to that. The very interesting category in some ways this special permanent resident because they were people who actually lost Japanese nationality, and I have to say, when this happened in 1952, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations put it rather dramatically and said that with the withdrawal of citizenship, 500,000 foreign people suddenly appeared in Japan overnight. They are governed by the alien registration act.  I still puzzle over this term, special status; what exactly does it imply. It seems that there are significant differences between the special status residents from either of Korean or Chinese descent and the position of Japanese citizens. I mean, is there a special set of rules devoted to them that are different from Japanese citizens but also different from rules applying to other foreigners?

On the question of non-nationals generally, CERD has issued general recommendation number 30. All I can say on a whole is that on the whole we don’t see in the human rights field any great distinction should be made between nationals and foreigners.  There is room in international…we relate that out to international law generally. There is room often in the sphere of political rights to make those distinctions but otherwise human rights are human rights and I think as broad of framework as possible of human rights is always the most appropriate policy when we’re dealing with non-nationals. I mean, even in the political field we find that many countries permit non-nationals – give them a right rather – to vote in local elections. I’m not sure whether that applies either in the case of the special permanent residents in Japan or indeed, other non-citizens, non-nationals. On the Korean issue, Koreans in general, I’m not particularly confining myself to the special permanent residents, there is still the issue of names. I think your response…you said that the limited list of Japanese characters and everybody else has to comply with that but I think that’s the problem – that situations of people of Korean and Chinese ethnicity applying for naturalization are not the same as position of ethnic Japanese, and that’s a situation perhaps that one could have a look at.  I also noticed also in the figures, the fairly stable block in terms of numbers of special permanent residents, Korean, Chinese, and so on, who opt not to go for naturalization – not to become Japanese citizens, and I must say this rather set me puzzling a little bit as to why this is the case. First of all there is the names issue, but in a sense statistically and otherwise they appear if they do opt for Japanese citizenship, they open themselves a program of maybe effective assimilation in the education and other systems, because there’s not a great deal of recognition of ethnic minority rights in Japan as far as I can understand things, in terms of language, identity, culture, and so on. And it just occurred to me that if the gap, if there was a more open approach to the issue of ethnic minorities in Japan perhaps those who wish to conserve their identity might be more encouraged to opt for Japanese citizenship. It is simply a thought that I would actually commend for reflection.

The other point is on education. We had many presentations on education and in addition to issues like harassment of Korean and other non-ethnic Japanese in schools, there’s two things: Many Koreans and others opt for the, what I would call the regular school system or the public school system, it would be interesting to know in the public school system, how does the curriculum accommodate minorities and whether we are talking our Japanese citizens or noncitizens in terms of culture, history, background, language, and so on. What does it teach, the regular school system? In history classes for the regular school system, do they emphasize the contribution of various ethnicities to the construction of Japan? There is a double issue in the area of ethnic minorities here because the state on the one hand has the duty to equip the children with the ability to succeed in Japanese society, but secondly it also has the obligation to pay attention to history, culture, language, and it is a difficult balance to be attained. In addition to the public school system of course there are a number of non-accredited schools, in which it seems to us, and I can’t go through details now, that significant disadvantages compared with the public school system in terms of funding, in terms of treatment of taxation for taxation purposes, and other matters. So we would welcome perhaps a comment on this, and some of those schools do appear to be…particular reference is made to schools with people of Japanese descent from Brazil and Peru being in a particularly critical situation. There are all these many other issues related to minorities to do with identity, language, participation in national life, participation in decisions affecting them and so on, but in a way we haven’t been able to find, or haven’t been able to find out much about that because of the lack of data, this kind of screen of citizenship which really ends for all practical purposes ethnic data in the state party.

Two further issues very briefly. We have a lot of information on migrant woman. This is purely on the, I suppose, the noncitizen category. We welcome comment on that. Some hostile attitudes because of appearance, speech, dress. Particular criticism was referred to us on the revised immigration control act of 2009 and how it makes it rather difficult for women who are suffering domestic violence – they must continue as a spouse for more than six months, otherwise residence rights are revoked, and difficulties in accessing public services. Again, we don’t have real statistics on these matters and the committee doesn’t deal with gender issues directly, but when we feel there is an ethnic dimension to them using a principal we have called, and others too, “intersectionality,” we will deal with them. And finally, on this, there are some issues to do with refugee recognition, and in both cases there seem to be issues in and around lack of understanding, language questions, inhibiting access to services, and some kind of cultural disjuncture, lack of information in appropriate non-Japanese languages about procedures as mediated to the public, and so on. But anyway, we note positive remarks about a new program that you’ve made.

A couple of final comments, Chairman, and thank you for your indulgence, I think points have been made by a number of committees about a national human rights institution, and we note the positive approach expressed today by the head of delegation towards this development and welcome this very much. Your response actually, on this one was a rather interesting one because you said even in the response before today’s information, you would work towards a national human rights institution. You referred to a range of problems including Buraku, Ainu, Okinawa, and Korean issues which is I suppose precisely the issues that I’ve been trying to highlight today. So one hopes that the national human rights institution will enable a certain broadening of scope in relation to the human rights of these groups. I’m not aware, by the way, if there is any national plan in Japan or the plan of implementation of Durban Declaration in terms of elimination of racial discrimination, but I would be happy to be corrected on if that is incorrect.

Finally, a few brief comments, these are just my comments, the concluding observations are for the committee as a whole. On general social conditions, we have a certain focus on particular groups, but there’s also evidence of a widespread social difficulty in relations between Japanese and non-Japanese in both ethnic and citizenship terms. I mean, for example, we’ve had a number of evidences put forward to us about difficulties in discrimination in rights of access to places open to the public which is clearly referred to in article 5f of the convention. This is something that might be changed in due course by the adoption of the law, because I think the experience of many countries is that this kind of attitude, generalized attitude, can certainly be reduced in its scope and intensity by the passing a law which makes certain kinds of refusal of admission etc. clearly illegal and offers punishment or provides punishment for perpetrators and compensation for victims. It may also be that your approach towards hate speech is respectful of freedom of expression but perhaps over tolerant. CERD has mentioned many times that mass media and political class in general have special responsibilities here. And as I say in article 4 of the convention does require legislation, it is fairly clear in terms of racist discourse and racist organizations as to what must be done. I’ve made some suggestions on completing the network or widening the network of human rights obligation, including, I guess colleagues would also recommend adoption of our procedure under article 14.

Japan is a world-class economy and cultural power much admired for its goods for its cultural products and I think it’s important to match this prestige within arrangements in the human rights field because human rights arrangements influence the perception of countries. We construct our image of a society and people partly on that basis. And we’ve heard today much that is good and positive and perhaps there are more initiatives that will be referred to before the conclusion of our exchange, but I think a deepened engagement even on one’s first impression of reading the materials about Japan would be welcome and necessary, and I recall the very positive sentiments we’ve had related to us today by Prime Minister Hatoyama. So my observations are offered seriously and respectfully to the delegation to open a constructive dialogue with the state party even if the we do not eventually agree on all points, so again, many thanks for your information and apologies to the Chairman and my colleagues for overstaying, extending my speech, but I look forward to seeing what colleagues will comment, and I will try to draw the whole discussion to a brief conclusion at the end of tomorrow morning’s session. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Thornberry. I appreciate very much the depth of information and the hard work that has gone in preparing your comments which I think will be most useful for the state party’s delegation as well as to other members. I am going to give the floor now to the speakers who have requested the floor in the order that they requested, but before I do so, in view of the very importance of this debate, and the fact that we have so many speakers and I anticipate more, I would request, therefore, as much as possible to focus on questions, specific questions, related to the state party’s report. With that, I will give the floor now to the first speaker on my list, Mr. Amir followed by Mr. Avtonomov.

Mr. Amir

Thank you Chairman. I wish to thank and also congratulate the delegation from Japan chaired by the distinguished ambassador and also I wish to congratulate the head of the delegation and all the members of the delegation on the quality of their report which is before the committee members. I also thank Mr. Patrick Thornberry who has covered everything. He has covered all of the articles of the convention. Chairman, if I took it upon myself to take the floor during this debate, it was firstly and foremost to highlight by way of a comment, the exceptional nature and character of Japan. The first reforms did not just start now, the first reforms started at the end of the Second World War. They started when, as a wheat importer, Japan managed to build terraces across very volcanic terrain. We know that Japan is a country which has experienced earthquakes unfortunately, on a regular basis. But Japan has managed to master this natural phenomenon, to master this natural phenomenon from which all of the Japanese people could potentially suffer. And we know as well, quite to what extent Japan has been at the forefront of technical and scientific and academic advances and in all spheres on research, research which of course has increased productivity, production across all sectors of economic activity.

Chairman, Japan has also made major efforts on a human level because the former land owners in rural areas has seen their land nationalized and this land, this farming land, has gone directly to the peasants to the people who could not buy the land because they had no money and some of the production has gone back to the peasants themselves so that they could make sure they could feed their cattle and also feed themselves; and then of course there is also a share which was sent to the former land owners because they had to provide compensation for the nationalization of this land and this went on for several years before the Japanese peasants became real farmers in their own right, so having said that, Chairman, racial discrimination as seen in the report that we’ve read, and as seen as well in the alternative report which have been submitted by nongovernmental organizations is a matter of some concern. It’s not because we believe one side or another, that is not what I’m saying when I look at the reports. I’m concerned because I thinking of the history of Japan going back to what Mr. Thornberry said on the issue of education and the issue of training at all levels; mainly education and training for future generations. Japan has a certain past, it has a certain present, and it has a certain future, and it’s the future that today I would like to focus on.

And these are my thoughts as to your future. Discrimination against indigenous minorities living in Japan who have lived in Japan historically, the ancestral populations, in the 17th, 18th, 19th century, if we look at the history of Japan we saw that this populations as well as other indigenous peoples were quite simply discriminated against because of the vertical hierarchy of values. Let me look at the peoples which come from outside of Japan itself and here I am thinking in particular of Koreans and Chinese and Thai and Filipinos. Here I’m thinking about all the different minorities represented in Japan who have their own identity from their own origins. So there are these different indigenous minorities and then there’s also these minorities from outside. We see globalized discrimination which historically may have some raison d’être, may have some foundation, but history is now being transformed and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is raising issues to overturn history to establish these minorities in their full rights as enshrined in the convention, this international convention. Education, teaching, training well what programs do you have there? What do you teach young Japanese children today, apart from science and technology, of course? What else do you teach them? Do you teach history as part of your core curriculum in Japan – in particular, the history of your relationship with these minorities and also with your neighbors?

You asked me to be brief today, Chairman, given the number of experts who are to take the floor during this debate, so I decided to say, for example, we have the example of Australia with the Aborigines, we have the example of New Zealand, and how they work with their minorities. These parts of their population who are original inhabitants of the country, and these countries have apologized to these minorities, indigenous peoples who have historically been discriminated against and we should pay tribute to New Zealand for this; it is a matter of honor for them, we should pay tribute to Australia for the fact that they have officially presented their apologies to these minorities of their own cultural traditional identity. And in the United States as well we have the situation of Martin Luther King who has become a symbol of the fight against racial discrimination. Two centuries of slavery, while today we have Martin Luther King as a symbol, he is a symbol of freedom, freedom of the United States of America, freedom in their fight against racial discrimination. So it is a matter of honor for these countries such as New Zealand and the others I mentioned to say, “Yes, it’s true, it happened, it’s in the past, now it’s over.”

So education, education is a bridge, a bridge to bring together all the children in Japan, all the citizens of Japan, and the fact that you teach how to learn lessons from history that would limit all forms of racial discrimination in the treaty sense of the term, because it would teach unity, unity not based on identity, cultural ethnic identity, but social economic unity based on equal rights, and this kind of unity would give Japan greater resources to move forward towards further modernization to create Japan for tomorrow, you should make similar progress as you have made in science and technology in the development of your human resources in a very sensitive area which is that of research into human and social sciences to make sure that the discrimination that we have learned about in particular through the alternative reports will slow down and disappear so that Japan can once again be a cultural and multicultural model as well as an economic model and a political model and a humanitarian model. And I am sure that we will see great progress from Japan in this field of human rights. Thank you Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you for your intervention. Mr. Avtonomov, you have the floor, followed by Mr. Murillo Martinez.

Mr. Avtonomov

Thank you Chairman. Chairman, thank you for having given me the floor. I shall try to be as brief as possible but all the same before I start my comments I do wish to welcome the distinguished delegation from Japan; there are so many of you here, we do note that, we have an appreciation; it demonstrates your respect for the committee and demonstrates quite how important this dialogue is for you. And you know that this dialogue is really the most important part of our procedure for the examination of reports, it’s only through a dialogue that we can really identify the stance of a particular party to the convention. It’s only in this in this way we can really know what is happening in Japan, how matters are being settled to make sure that our recommendation are really targeted, they are concrete, and they are useful ones for you, And they’re not just general comments without the true knowledge of the country. And I’d also like to thank the distinguished country rapporteur Mr. Thornberry, as always, he has carried out an in-depth analysis, a broad ranging analysis of the situation in the country and of the report itself. Japan is a long way away from Europe so of course you have your specific country characteristics and it’s very important for us to learn more about this because our convention applies to all countries, but each country is different, and has its own characteristics, and so it is very important that this be underscored for us as members of the committee as the rapporteur has done. I would like to say that the report is highly informative. I was very interested indeed to read it and to read about the court decisions and so on contained in the report – not all countries provide such detailed information and in particular on the court decisions related to the fight against racism. All of this information is very useful indeed, so thank you. And it’s a very good thing that the report carries on from the initial and the second reports so there’s a clear progression here and we see here answers to specific comments made, so that’s very useful as well. Of course we are not always satisfied by the answers but they are there, that’s important. It is very important for us to see how the state is making progress, and I very much appreciate the introductory statement made by the distinguished ambassador. I have the greatest respect for all of the initiatives that you are implementing and your work with refugees, that new initiative from Japan, and the “Yuuai” concept as well that was mentioned and it was announced by the Prime Minister Hatoyama. I think these are very important initiatives; we see a new vision of Japan to cope with changing circumstances of the contemporary world and I think we need to take into account all of the information you have provided today when we analyze reports and prepare our concluding observations and recommendations. I’d like to thank you as well for your answers to the questions raised by the distinguished rapporteur, the questions, the list of issues that he sent prior to our meeting to the state party.

But having seen all this information, I do still have a few questions that I would like to put, and I won’t go into any detail right now because Mr. Thornberry has already covered most of the questions I had, I don’t need to go into any detail, but I do still have a few questions that I’d like to highlight. I have visited your wonderful country. I really do like your country, there’s a lot of things that we should learn from you I know, and I would say that we have special links I think between Russia and Japan, links that other countries might not have with your country, because there is a small Orthodox church in Japan; it was first founded by the Russian ministries in the beginning of the twentieth century, but it’s carried on, and it’s developed as a Japanese Orthodox church and so it has the Russian orthodox traditions and the Japanese culture as well, so it’s a very interesting example of cultural interaction, and I can see that our relationship is a very close one, and I hope that our peoples and our countries will become ever closer in the future.

Having said all that, I do have a few specific questions, and in particular on current developments in your country. Firstly, I draw your attention to the fact that there is a bill, a draft law on education, on ensuring education for children irrespective of their ethnic appurtenance. This is a draft law or bill which is currently being examined; it was initiated by the government before the parliaments now. I think it’s a very good initiative but all the same, I was wondering about the different ministers, who were saying that you should exclude the Koreans from the scope of this draft law given the diplomatic relations you have with North Korea. Well, the Koreans coming to study in Japan will be those who are resident in Japan; they won’t be those from outside. So I’d like to receive some further information from the distinguished delegation on this draft law, and to make sure that I have your reassurance that such discriminatory amendments will not be brought into the law, and irrespective of the relationship between the governments of Japan and North Korea here. I saw on the Internet, I think it was today, in the Asahi Shimbun, the editorial which criticized this kind of an approach to this draft, or this education bill. I understand a little bit of Japanese. I can speak a bit of Japanese and I can read a bit, so I was having a look at the newspaper website today. I can’t express myself that well in Japanese, I apologize for that, but I think I did pick up this issue, and Mr. Thornberry has raised the issue of the Koreans. I think that there is a long standing situation that some Koreans have remained foreigners; they have not acquired citizenship, and we can’t really understand that fully. If the Koreans have not taken on their citizenship of the Republic of Korea or of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, so South or North Korea, then can they then receive Japanese citizenship? I understand that sometimes they have decided, as Mr. Thornberry said, to do so, but what is stopping them from receiving citizenship now? So I’d like to ask the distinguished delegation what the situation is in citizenship laws in Japan on this matter. How can you acquire citizenship, are there any restrictions, limitations, are there any particular advantages for some or special fast-track procedures for some? I’d like to know about your laws on citizenship in the light of our convention, and sometimes there are traditions which are not in line with our convention – I’m not saying that’s the case with Japan – but I can’t really understand the situation fully here I’d like to note what legislation you have on citizenship in Japan which prevents these Koreans from receiving citizenship.

And Mr. Thornberry has already said that there are restrictions, there’s the different alphabet, and so on, so perhaps, there’s difficulties with the alphabet, I know that there are different alphabets, but there are the two different ways of writing; and what about Chinese language? They can read Japanese many of the same hieroglyphs are used; and so I’d like to understand what barriers there are for citizenship. I don’t know quite how to read all hieroglyphs, of course, but I do have to keep studying on this, but I think that it is something that is accessible to Koreans and to Chinese people living in Japan. So Chinese people live in Japan as well, and we know that there is a major part of Yokohama which is a Chinese district. It’s a real Chinese district, and I went there and I met with Chinese people, and I lived for some time in Ofuna City in Japan, and there are Chinese restaurants, and of course, there are Chinese people living and working for a long time in Japan, so why don’t we see this in the report? Does the Japanese government have a policy for Chinese people? Do they have special privileges? I don’t really see that reflected in the report, but I won’t go into any more detail on that right now.

And Mr. Thornberry mentioned these people living in Okinawa. They are from Ryukyu originally but now in Okinawa, and is there a position from the Japanese government on these people? I would be very grateful to receive further explanation on this situation. Is there a desire to recognize them as a distinct ethnicity, ethnic group, are there any particular measures for this ethnic group, for this group of persons; that are differences in culture and history, we know this. I won’t go into further detail now, you know the situation; there is linguistic and cultural issues. There was an independent state on those islands and so there is a certain culture and identity, so I would be very grateful indeed to the distinguished delegation to receive further explanation as to the state’s position on these parts of the population. I think it is very important indeed for us because they are in an indigenous people. I had a look at that in the report. I saw that the state party has moved away from using the word Utari to the Ainu to the name which they have decided they want to be called. That’s very important for us as a committee because it is very important for people to decide themselves what they want to call themselves. I think that is a basic right of any indigenous people to choose their own names, choose what they are called.

And then, my last question is on the Burakumin. We know that the Buraku people…we understand the position, well I know the position, let’s put it that way, I know the position of the state party, we’ve heard it, but all the same, in our convention we do talk about origins, and the Buraku are people of a certain family, and this is how they are defined, their origin is not just based on their social status. So I would be very grateful to the distinguished delegation for further explanation as to the situation with these people. I know that there is a long-standing tradition of family registration, so they register – people say well this is my family, this is where my family comes from, and everybody knows that in Japan, everybody knows where these Buraku people live, so if this information is accessible to third parties, that could be an issue. I’m not going to say whether this kind of family registration is right or not, but it could give rise to questions on whether all of this information should be shared or not – should this family registration be allowed or not, or with certain restrictions; this work is perhaps only just starting, but, maybe, of course every people has its own way of defining itself, and so it’s interesting to see further clarification on this, I’d be grateful indeed too, if you could give us more information on any work which might be underway to move on from this family-based registration or any other way in which you are creating the necessary conditions for the Burakumin be able to develop further, be further part of society.

Mr. Thornberry has already mentioned the special measures; we know that the special measures were in existence for 33 years, but I’d like to see more information about this. Did you achieve the objectives that you set when you introduced these special measures, and then what happened once these special measures were no longer in force. I won’t go into any more detail on this, you know that our committee adopted a general recommendation on special measures, but that was taken after you had done away with these special measures in Japan. But I’d like to know whether you achieved your objectives because we are concerned about special measures, so I’d like to receive further information to gain a deeper understanding of the issues. So thank you once again for all of your work, your introductory statements, your answers to the list of issues, thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you, Mr. Avtonomov. Obviously you’ve studied very hard and you are familiar with the issues, and I was pleased to hear also that you can speak a little Japanese. So anyway, distinguished members, I still have a long list of speakers, and being practical and giving equal opportunities to everybody, I would suggest you speak for eight minutes if possible. And of course, I won’t censor you, but I would like you to exercise self regulation rather than for me to interpose. I don’t wish to do so at all, so having said this, and this is a suggestion, I give the floor to Mr. Murillo Martinez, followed by Mr. Cali Tzay.

Mr. Martinez

Thank you Chairman, I will be brief. First of all, Chairman, I would like to join with other speakers, I would like to thank the distinguished delegation from Japan for their reports. This has been analyzed in detail by our rapporteur. Mr. Thornberry. Chairman, Japan certainly enjoys what I would call relative calm and tranquility. It’s true that there’s an awful lot of racial discrimination in the world; still, the committee has been very emphatic in highlighting, of course there is no country in the world that can escape from this phenomenon scourge of racism and intolerance. I listened attentively to the head of delegation’s speech, and I can’t remember whether he actually used the concept of racism or racial discrimination as such in his speech. [NB: He does not.] It seems that this is something that the state in question prefers to avoid as a term. There is a new government in Japan as we have heard. And recently, we’ve heard there is going to be a new vision adopted by this country. Perhaps the delegation could say a little bit about how this new view of your country is going to sort of tie in with the phenomena of racism – and I’m thinking particularly of the day to day life of the foreign population in your country, because we have heard that there are problems afflicting foreigners in your country.

For instance, the Koreans. It would also be useful to know a little bit more, and I’m thinking about this segment of the population. What is the impact of your educational policy? Do you have special support for instance, so that children from these groups or this population can be better integrated in the educational system in your country? And finally, Chairman, it would be useful if the Japanese delegation could say something about whether you have monitory mechanisms in your country monitoring the phenomena of racism and xenophobia in Japan. And I’m thinking here also of the Internet as well. Do you have any sort of observatory or monitoring center on racism and discrimination or any statistics that could give us a broader view of this phenomenon and how it has an impact on victims of racism and xenophobia? The rapporteur has referred to the human rights institution – again it would be useful to know how far you’re going in ensuring that this body is going to be in complete line with the Paris Principles. Thank you.

I thank you for your questions and your intervention. I give the floor to Mr. Cali Tzay, followed by Madame Dah.

Mr. Cali Tzay

Thank you Chairman. Thank you for giving me the floor. I would like to thank the distinguished delegation from Japan, and of course thank the head for the presentation. I would join with others in the committee for thanking Mr. Thornberry for this excellent in-depth report. I’ve also heard a lot from Mr. Avtonomov and learned a lot from him. I think, thanks to his intervention, he’s given me a better picture of Japanese culture as well. And to some extent, that’s taken words out of my mouth. I only have, therefore, one or two questions to make. First of all, I’d like to thank the delegation for your answers, the information you’ve provided in the report. I had many questions on the Ainu in your country, but you’ve provided a great deal of information in your report and also in your oral presentation this afternoon, and I’d like to thank you for that information on the Ainu. I would like to echo what’s been said by Mr. Thornberry on the Ainu, and I would like therefore to know a little bit more about the situation of the Ainu and how they are treated in Japan. In this Eminent Persons Panel, could you tell me first of all how many people are members of this panel related to the Ainu, and also, I’d like to quote here in English now, “An environment which will enable the Ainu people to be proud of their identity and inherit their culture.” Does this mean that the Ainu are not proud of their own identity?

And NGOs have also told us that a high level official made racist statements against immigrants, something which has whipped up discriminatory feelings in the country targeting certain individuals in the Japanese population. What measures therefore is Japan taking in line with article 2(1) indent a, and also article 4 of our convention? We welcome the government’s initiative to have a school quota covered for all children who are of school age, but as an expert, I’m worried about the attitude of some ministers; they seem to want to exclude students of Korean descent. Even today, in the editorial of one of the most renowned newspapers, it actually criticizes the attitude of the ministers and asks the Japanese government to look at this again, because this is something that is violating the right of education for these children. According to information we’ve got, only the Ainu have been recognized as an indigenous people, and naturally we’d like to congratulate you on that, and welcome that. The Okinawa as I understand it are also an indigenous peoples. As we’ve heard from Mr. Thornberry, in some areas there is discrimination and historic persecution of these peoples. I would therefore respectfully ask whether they can be recognized as an indigenous people – in other words, the Okinawa, they have their own history, their own culture, their own language. Precisely because of that, they were the subject of persecution. Many thanks Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you Mr. Cali Tzay. I give the floor to Madame Dah, followed by Mr. De Gouttes.

Ms. Dah

Thank you Chairman. I would also like to welcome the Japanese delegation. I’d like to congratulate them on their presentation. Allow me also to thank Mr. Thornberry, really thank him for this very exhaustive analysis, and very precise analysis that he’s conducted, and as is his custom it is a brilliant analysis. Mr. Thornberry, I think, hasn’t left us really much to say because he has covered the ground so well, but I will try just to raise a few points if I may, Chairman. Also Chair, you have of course limited our speaking time, but I will do my best. It’s the second time that we’ve had Japan before this committee. They have come along this time with the very dense and informative report. It does raise a number of questions. The rapporteur has raised some issues already. We have others, but I don’t think we will have an opportunity to exhaust the subject. Since this is the second report from Japan it gave me an opportunity to re-read the initial report and also look at the analytical report and reports following that presentation.

I’ve been struck by the fact that, and this is what Mr. Thornberry called “technical points,” but it seems that these technical points are still unchanged. There has been no real change between 2001 and today. Now, when international commitments are made particularly in the area of human rights, it’s always difficult to change things and change them quickly, particularly when reservations have been entered, reservations entered to substantive provisions. I agree entirely with Mr. Thornberry as regards to the reservations in his particular analysis on the reservations and indeed his thinking on article 14. Having said that, I do think change can be brought about very cautiously if necessary but something that will make this convention and this convention is very dear to us and very close to our hearts, and which Japan also has studied very carefully before it acceded to this convention in 1995. We still believe that you would be in a position to remove that reservation. Japan has told us that you are still engaged in thinking on this particular point, and let’s hope that this thinking will eventually lead to a withdrawal of the reservation.

Chairman, in similar vein, there is no change in the ethnic composition in Japan and indeed as regards the definition of racial discrimination in this report. I’d like if I may to refer to some points, really just points for reflection as opposed to questions as such. First of all, on the Ainu, the Ainu people. They have been recognized as an indigenous people. You have started to take specific measures for the Ainu people. I have to agree with Mr. Thornberry that perhaps this needs to be taken further. We need to take these initiatives further so that you are also in conformity with all the international engagements and commitments you have signed up to, including the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, the ILO Convention, and to make these operational, and as regards the rights of these peoples. I know that in Japan, you give a lot of leeway to your municipalities, but I think for such important issues, it’s terribly important that the central government, the central state takes commitments and lays down very clear and targeted guidelines.

On the Buraku, this refers…thinking back to this notion of descent, and it is certainly something that sparked our thoughts in my mind. I certainly don’t need to tell my colleagues or the Japanese delegation how and why this definition came in, but I have to say that as regards to the Buraku, I have been struck by just how similar their situation is to those who are affected by the caste situation in Africa. And that really is something that struck me. We must get beyond any form of stigma, stigmatization, and it’s up to the government to do this. Now, I understand that this takes a great deal of time and energy; it boils down to education, it boils down to consciousness raising. But I do believe that the Japanese government is able to do this work in other areas, and I think they can certainly do more in this particular area.

Let me now turn to everything that has to do with the foreigners in and outside Japan. Mr. Thornberry has talked about immigration problems, other colleagues have talked about the place of foreigners. Again, it struck me that increasingly Japan is opening up to the world. It’s increasingly an open country, of course is no longer an island, it’s many islands, but increasingly it is opening up to the world, you’re getting people from Brazil from the other Asian countries, and from other regions of the world as well. And some of these people choose to remain in your country, and that is something that is, if you like, pushing Japan to a certain position in the sense that they need to take initiatives to ensure these foreigners are integrated, at the same time, their specific identities are preserved and protected. Brazil, for instance, is apparently the third source of immigration in Japan. I was struck by that figure. I have some doubts on some measures that have been taken. We’ve heard about these attempts to change names. I mean, it may well be that there is going to be an African wave suddenly coming in to Japan. I just wonder what you are going to do when it comes to changing African names, if that wave ever arrives in Japan. We’ve heard that some people have been forced to change names, and here I’m being the devil’s advocate. I take the example of somebody coming from say my region. If, for instance, somebody came from my region to Japan and they had to change their names, they would be doubly frustrated in terms of their cultural identity, and let me explain what I mean by that. We have been colonized; now, I don’t like talking about colonization because at the end of the day colonization was a failure of humanity, but I feel duty bound to talk about colonization in certain conditions. Our family names were changed…if, for instance, an African hand to change their name or their surname was simply struck out, deleted, I see this as a double humiliation, and it’s certainly not something that’s desirable. Therefore, I hope that Japan will be in a position to review its policy in this area. And should something like this happen in the future, by then you would have found a satisfactory solution, satisfactory tool.

Chairman, I would conclude with the amendment to article 8 of our convention [on the establishment of a Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, with oversight powers]. I’m concerned at the fact that Japan to date has not yet accepted that amendment. Japan, and we’ve heard this so many times this afternoon, Japan is a great country, it is a great power indeed, and a major contributor to the United Nations. If there are any questions of principle which prevent your government from accepting this, you can certainly tell us why. If it is not a question of principle, well, the ideal for the committee would be for Japan to accept the amendment to article 8 to the convention, thereby ensuring funding for…it would not be a problem for the United Nations nor would it be a problem therefore for members of the committee. But Chairman, before I conclude, I would like to thank the Japanese delegation for their presentation, and I am keen and impatient to hear answers to my questions. Many thanks.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Madame Dah. I give the floor to Mr. De Gouttes, followed by Mr. Huang.

Mr. De Gouttes

Thank you Chairman. I’d like to thank the Japanese delegation, a very numerous delegation, I think 20 or so have come along this afternoon. I’d also like to thank the head of the delegation for his oral presentation. I naturally like to thank Mr. Thornberry for his very in-depth and very precise analysis. Again, we are used to that form of analysis; it was an extremely useful presentation from Mr. Thornberry as well. We’re all well aware of the wealth and also the complexity of the historical and cultural and sociological situation of this great country that is Japan. The sixth report which often refers back to the initial report which is was examined in 2001. The sixth report I have to say still leaves some issues pending. There is an awful lot of information that we’ve got. A lot of information I have to say has come from the NGOs who are here present in the room as well.

The first question on the different groups of the population in Japan. Para. 4 of your report talks about the Ainu living in Hokkaido. You say that we’re talking about 23,782. The head of delegation said this afternoon, that the government has now recognized the Ainu as an indigenous people in conformity with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, following on from a resolution of the Japanese Diet. This is extremely positive and we acknowledge that. But, and this is my question, what about the other groups? What about the other minorities? This question was addressed as part of the compilation drawn up for that UPR, the universal periodic review, and also in the conclusions of the UPR, the universal periodic review, in the conclusions of 2008. This is also an issue that was examined very closely by the special rapporteur, the UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism. This was back in 2005. The special rapporteur highlighted the situation of three minorities. The Ainu, but also the Buraku, and the inhabitants of Okinawa. Alongside these minorities, the special rapporteur also indicated the situation of the descendants of the former colonies, in other words Chinese, Koreans, and also the situation of foreigners and migrants in Japan from Asia or coming from other regions of the world.

Now, the question we all have in our minds, is what measures are being taken to protect the rights of other groups other than the Ainu? Because we’ve already heard there is recognition there. What is being done to protect their language, education, schooling, their identity more broadly? As to the Buraku community, the summary document – this again was part and parcel of the UPR – it highlights the need to protect this Buraku community. It said there, and this is what we have in this report, 3 million, 3 million peoples, in other words, one of the main minorities in Japan, descending from so-called pariah communities, if you like, a hangover from the feudal period. Because apparently, in the past, this population had professions linked to death or impurity, and this is a past that still weighs heavily, a taboo, although there has been an abolition of the caste since the 19th century. Mr. Thornberry quite rightly recall, and Madame Dah also pointed out that our convention in its first article, talks about descent-based discrimination and that our general recommendation 29 of 2002 has to do with descent-based discrimination or related to castes. We would like to know, therefore, what definition does the government intend to give of the Buraku people. How do you intend to define them? How do you intend to put an end to the discrimination of the Buraku? And also I would extend that comment to the Okinawan. So that’s my first question.

My second question is more specific. It has to do with the application of article 4 of the convention, and your penal legislation which criminalizes acts of racism. When I look at this report, it seems that there hasn’t been much by way of progress since the 2001 report. No new laws, no new legislation against racial discrimination, and in this jury system that you have in Japan, the convention therefore is not directly applicable. And this was said just now there has been no withdrawal of the reservation to article 4a and b. You also have problems with this idea of freedom of expression. This is something that is also highlighted in your report. Let me just recall however that the committee had clearly stated in its preceding concluding observations and in general recommendation 15 that provisions of article 4 are imperative and that there is compatibility between the prohibition of the dissemination of any idea based on racism and discriminatory…that is compatible still with freedom of expression.

My final question has to do with the implementation of article 6 of the convention – legal prosecutions when there is racial discrimination acts. 66 and 68 of your report give us some information on this. 71 also talks about complaints that have been dealt with by the Ministry of Justice human rights body. But out of the 12 rulings mentioned from 61 to 68, most of those were overturned, most of the complaints were rejected. Does this not illustrate therefore that you need to have more awareness, you need to better mobilize the police authorities, and broadly, the legal community on racism? I will leave my other questions to one side. Most of them have already been covered. They have to do with the importance of creating a national human rights institution which is independent in conformity with the so-called Paris Principles. Also the question of harassment of Korean children in Japanese schools, and also problems of non-nationals – foreigners – and according to information that we’ve received from NGOs, the fact that the Supreme Court refuses to accept the role of mediators for foreigners who had been specialized in settling and sorting out family disputes or other forms of disputes between foreigners, so I just wonder why the Supreme Court has rejected this idea of having a mediator for foreigners. I would like to thank the delegation, thank you Chairman, and again, I appreciate and look forward to the answers from the Japanese delegation. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you, Mr. De Gouttes. I give the floor now to Mr. Huang, followed by Mr. Diaconu.

Mr. Huang

Thank you Mr. Chairman. I express my warm welcome to the big Japanese delegation headed by the ambassador in charge of human rights and humanitarian affairs of the Foreign Ministry to have a dialogue with this committee. I would like to join my colleagues to commend his Excellency, Mr. Ambassador’s comprehensive remarks, and also thank Mr. Thornberry for his length, in-depth analysis and comments. Japan has acceded to the major international human rights instruments. We appreciate the Japanese government submit to the committee its third to sixth periodical reports which provide a good condition for our constructive discussion and dialogue. Mr. Chairman Japan is a very interesting Asian state. We all know that Japan is an industrialized developed country and is an economic power in the world. But the Japanese people keep living in their own way. In the Oriental people’s eyes, Japan is a quite westernized Asian country, but it is not difficult to see that there are a lot of good traditions have been well preserved and inherited by the Japanese people. Comparatively speaking, the Japanese national is not a complicated nationality like other Asian countries. In Japan, there are not many minorities and indigenous people, except as just mentioned, the Ainu; not like China. We have 55 national minorities. The major national minorities in Japan are the immigrants from the other countries, especially from the neighboring Asian countries and regions.

Mr. Chairman, beside what the other colleagues already mentioned, I would like to say something about this strengthening of education on the elimination of racial discrimination to the people carried out by the state party government according to article 4 and 7 of the convention of ICERD so that to protect the basic and the legal rights of the minorities as mentioned above. Mr. Chairman, it is my understanding, these kind of education through all means possible at least includes two aspects. That is, to make acknowledgment of the convention among the people of the state party; and through the education, to enhance the awareness of the state party’s citizens to fully implement the convention to act according to the regulations set by the convention. It is not deniable fact that there is racial discrimination phenomena still exists in the Japanese society. For instance, the attitude towards the people of the former colony origin is known to all, that due to historical reasons of the Second World War, there were a certain amount of people now live in Japan who came from the Japanese former colonies – mainly from the Korean peninsula and Taiwan and other Asian countries; although, most of these people have now become the Japanese citizens after 1952. Half a century has already passed. We found that these people, including their second and third generations, are still in difficulties to be integrated into the Japanese society. Some Japanese nationals, especially among some elder Japanese, still have the self feeling of superiority over these people of former colonies. These people are not equally treated as Japanese nationals, but being discriminated in the field of employment, education, and social life. I should say this is really unfair to these people because since these people resided in Japan, they have constantly made great contributions to Japan in its industrializing process. They should enjoy the same rights as of the other Japanese nationals. So I suggest that the state party government should enact a basic and comprehensive law to eliminate societal and administrative and legal discrimination against these people.

As stated in article 4 of the convention, I quote part of it. “States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination.” I noticed that Japan has made reservations on 4a and 4b, but I think that the concept and the spirit of this article should be accepted by the state party.

Mr. Chairman, another aspect, I should mention is that there were some reports about discriminatory incitements made by the Japanese officials. Some Japanese politicians and public officials and those Japanese extreme rightists, they use some occasions, stigmatize the foreign migrants as I quote, “a bunch of thieves” or “troublemakers” or “criminal factors” etc. Really, I was shocked when I heard this kind of ___ came out from the mouth of the public officials. This irresponsible nonsenses incite hatred of the Japanese national toward the foreign migrants. I believe that it is really necessary for the Japanese government to engage special human rights seminars for these politicians and public officials according to the article 4 of the convention. As cited in article 4 (this should be article 7), “States Parties undertake to adopt immediate and effective measures, particularly in the fields of teaching, education, culture and information, with a view to combating prejudices which lead to racial discrimination and to promoting understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations and racial or ethnical groups.” By doing so, to eradicate their feeling of hatred and xenophobia toward the foreign migrants in Japan, and to get rid of their deep rooted colonial thinking.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, once again, I highly comment the great efforts made by the Japanese government in the field of promotion of human rights, especially of the elimination of racial discrimination in Japan; include also, as just now as the ambassador mentioned, the Japanese government has already made some new measurement to eliminate the racial discrimination. So thank you Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you for your comments, Mr. Huang. I give the floor now to Mr. Diaconu, followed by Mr. Peter.

Mr. Diaconu

Thank you Chairman. Chairman, the presentation of the report by the delegation of Japan and the presentation of his considerations by Mr. Thornberry have opened up the path for a very substantive in-depth dialogue with delegation and it is my feeling that such a dialogue is absolutely vital in the light of the report and in the light of the discussions we have been having up until now. We really do need this dialogue. Now, to turn to the indigenous populations…We see that the Ainu are recognized as an indigenous people, but there are still some problems that remain there. Nongovernmental resources tell us that there are still problems regarding access of the Ainu people to fishing in the coastal areas where formerly they had access. But other persons would have the right to access these fishing areas in the coastal waters, so I’d like to have some comments on this from the delegation please.

Then, on the Ryukyu Okinawan population. If this population speaks a different language whether it be a dialect or not, it needs to identify what is the difference between Japanese and this language. If they have distinctive traits, why are they not also recognized as being an indigenous people?

Then the Buraku. We have taken careful note of your position that this is not a problem of race. But our convention also refers to descent because the concept of the sentence exists in our convention and we can’t say that this is a mistake. We can’t say that this is a mistake to have this concept in the convention and there is no reservation to article 1 of the convention on the issue of descendance being contained in the convention. So 40 years later you can’t come to us and say it’s wrong. I don’t think that would be the right approach for us in this discussion, especially as regarding the Buraku, I have read in some document that there is still a system of family registration, so registration by family. Does this system still exist? Because this system really was used to demonstrate that these people are part of a caste, a separate caste, so that they would not be given access to certain roles and jobs in the civil service and public authority, and measures are taken until 2002, special measures were taken for the Buraku until 2002. Why were these special measures terminated? Are they not in the same situation? Are they not still in the same situation? Are they up to the same social, economic, cultural level as other Japanese citizens? We don’t see answers for these questions.

Then, another question I have for the delegation is on the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples. This declaration was adopted in 2007. What is the position of Japan on this declaration on indigenous peoples? And on Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization on indigenous peoples, does Japan intend to ratify Convention 169 of the ILO?

And now, on the Koreans. Well, there are many things to say on this subject. It would seem as though they have been resident in Japan since the Second World War; they had Japanese citizenship but they lost it following the application of the treaty, the San Francisco Treaty in 1952. Some of them have maintained citizenship, have kept Korean citizenship, some have not. These people have lived in Japan for all this time, they remain in Japan and they have no intention to leave Japan, so is it not possible for these Koreans individuals to receive Japanese citizenship that they lost during the war?

The present report refers us to the former report saying that this would be possible. So have these people, Koreans, asked to regain their Japanese citizenship or have they not asked to regain it? And if they have requested the return of their citizenship, what is the Japanese authority’s position on this? I am surprised that there are schools which deal with North Korean and those that deal with South Korean. I am reminded of the situation in the past with German schools which were East German or West German schools. Well, it seems strange to me. What happens at these Korean schools? We’re told that a measure has been adopted recognizing the studies carried out in Korean schools as being equivalent with those studies carried out in other schools so that these children can go to university. But then we read later on that it’s only the Tokyo School which has studies which are recognized as being equivalent. So what happens to the other Korean schools in other towns and cities around Japan? I don’t think it is acceptable that you allow such schools to exist, but then to say to the students, the pupils, you don’t have access to university. Yes, the state can establish curricula, criteria to make sure that the level of teaching is the same as in Japanese schools, but if the state doesn’t do this well then, it’s my feeling that it is absolutely unacceptable to punish the pupils at these schools, these pupils and students who come from a certain ethnic group.

We’ve taken note of the racist attacks against Korean schoolchildren and also the measures that the state has taken to counter such attacks and acts of aggression to prevent them and to punish them. This has to be done, you have to ensure better protection of these schools, but I am surprised that the poor relations between Japan and North Korea, and the missiles which were set off by North Korea have had an impact on the Korean children. What are they guilty of? What are these Korean children guilty of? So here, I really think is an issue of education for the general population. So that what happens in international relations is not reflected in everyday life of the population and in particular, the everyday life of the children studying at these schools.

We also read in the documents we have that the Korean language schools are not exempt from some taxes, whilst others schools are exempt from these taxes, including the international schools. Well that’s discrimination then. Why, is this distinction drawn? We need to have some answers on that subject too.

Then on refugees. We are told in the report that refugees are accepted from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, and the ambassador has told us that refugees from Myanmar are also accepted.  But what is the situation regarding refugees from other countries? Why not accept refugees from other countries? The 1951 Convention should be applied by Japan. Is it only applied for Asian countries? I don’t think so. So, I would like to see some answers on this from the delegation.

I’m coming to article 4, and of course I’d like to endorse what my colleagues have said. If we read about the Japanese reservation, well we see that Japan should ____ article 4 to the extent that this does not run counter to the obligations in its constitution. Well what does this mean? To what extent is article 4 actually applied in Japan? I’ve read through the report and the second report as well the former report, and I see that the law punishes attacks on the honor, intimidation, instigation, provocation and violence committed against anyone. While that is what we want too. That is what we are seeking, to punish perpetrators of such crimes and offenses under article 4. What is missing is the racial motivation. Otherwise, the crime is punished in the law. So would the government not be interested in knowing what is the motivation behind such a crime? Should the racial motivation not be taken account of by the Japanese judges? I’m really raising questions here. I’m really wondering about whether you really want to exclude racial motivation of crimes from all of the Japanese criminal justice system. I am wondering about this and I’ve really like to have some clarification on the subject. And if we note in the new report, the cases which have been examined by the judicial system in Japan, that judges have referred to racial discrimination in their judgments. They have referred to the racial connotations of such and such an act so that judges seem to feel the need to take account of racial discrimination as a motivation. Why does the state, the government itself, not want to take account of it when they are confronted with it in real life? So these are the immediate questions that I wanted to raise, and this is referred to others.

The report says that the Chinese have now come to Japan are more numerous than the Korean inhabitants. But we haven’t received much information about the Chinese population in this report. Are there Chinese language schools? What is their status if they exist? And the Chinese population, are they from Taiwan, are they from continental China, do they have separate schools? I’d like to know what their position is and what their position will be in the future in your country. But having of said all that, I would like to add to what Mr. Huang said, what is vital in a country is generalized education of the population to promote the elimination of racial discrimination. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Diaconu, for your intervention, and I give the floor now to Mr. Peter, followed by Mr. Ewomsan.

Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I would also like to join my colleagues in welcoming the large delegation of Japan headed by his Excellency the ambassador in charge of human rights and humanitarian affairs. I would also like to thank most sincerely our colleague Professor Thornberry for his very thorough analysis of the report by Japan. Mr. Chairman, I would look at four issues very briefly. Some of which have been touched by my colleagues and also some of which have been touched by his Excellency the ambassador. The first issue, Mr. Chairman, relates to existence of a human rights commission in Japan. Mr. Chairman, as Madame Dah has said, Japan is a model in the world. It is looked at like other developed countries, and therefore it is a little bit unsettling to note that to date, we are speaking of not having a human rights commission in that great country, an institution where people can go for redress. We are told that the 2003 draft was shelved. There was a draft of 2005, but to date five years later, we do not have anything in place. Now, my worries, Mr. Chairman, is that whenever, from my reading, whenever there is a new change in government in Japan, there are also fundamental changes, changes relating to human rights, changes relating to military bases, and so on. Now, my question is that when can we expect, do we have a timeframe for when we can expect a human rights commission before another change comes in and then we don’t have a human rights commission. So I really want to hear a view and taking into account the importance of Japan in the world. And we thought that as a model, giving example, it should not only talk, but also walk the talk as well. Mr. Chairman, that is my first point.

My second point Mr. Chairman, leads to Japan and the international instruments relating to human rights. Let me say this and I may be wrong, I stand to be corrected by the delegation. Among the developed countries, Japan seems to have signed, ratified, and acceded to the least, and I am underlining the word, to the least international instruments if you combine conventions and protocols relating to human rights. Just take quick count gives a total of 13 conventions and protocols to which Japan…protocols and the conventions on human rights to which Japan is not a party to. And even where it is signed, there are several reservations including the reservation relating to our own convention, reservations relating to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, reservations relating to the rights of the child, and so on. And of course sometimes, Mr. Chairman, and again here I wish to be corrected if I’m wrong, that even the pattern of signing and ratifying international instruments by Japan is also sometimes contradictory. Contradictory in the sense that if you look at the report, Mr. Chairman, on page 18 paragraph 56, it’s about abolition of apartheid. It says, apartheid does not exist in Japan, such a policy is prohibited in paragraph 1 of article 14 of the Constitution, and then it goes on. And yet, if you look at the ratifications, Japan has not signed, ratified, or not acceded to the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. Japan has also not acceded to the International Convention against Apartheid in Sports and so on. So I think there is a contradiction between what is there in municipal law and the international pattern of Japan when it comes to ratifications. Now Mr. Chairman, my question here is that should I take that Japan is uncomfortable in the international sphere, and it would like to have as little interaction as possible with the rest of the world? Is that the picture that Japan would like to give us? Mr. Chairman, I’m saying that because that is the tendency in international interactions. But we see a different Japan when it comes to trade. Japan seems to be trading with everybody. Mr. Chairman, and Japanese products are household names. You talk of Sony, Honda, Toshiba, Suzuki, Yamaha, and so on. In my own country, every motorcycle whatever, where ever it is made is called a Honda, even if it is made in America, they would still call it a Honda. So, my question is, Japan do you just want to trade but not to interact with other people? That is my worry taken the way you have been dealing with international instruments.

Mr. Chairman, my third issue relates to application of international law in Japan. Mr. Chairman, Japan follows the monist school as opposed to the dualist school in appreciation of international law. That means that once Japan signs and ratifies an international legal instrument, that instrument becomes part and parcel of Japanese municipal law straightforward without the need of special legislation for domestication. Now, Mr. Chairman, what is strange is that individuals in Japan are not allowed to invoke these international instruments when they are pursuing their rights. It is alleged that ratification of instrument is a state-state issue which does not concern the individual. Now, Mr. Chairman I wanted to get a comment from the delegation, headed by his Excellency the ambassador, why can’t individuals invoke international legal instruments to which Japan is a party, in pursuit of their rights.

Mr. Chairman, the last point relates to article 14 of ICERD. Now that we don’t have a human rights commission in Japan, the way for the individual is narrow. I just wanted to know from the delegation are there any initiatives within the government sectors in Japan to make the necessary declaration relating to article 14 of ICERD so that individuals can have access to the committee, or should I take this to be a no-go-area when it comes to the government of Japan? Mr. Chairman, those were my worries which I believe the delegation will assist me in clearing them, but again I really want to take this opportunity to thank the delegation of Japan, headed by his Excellency the ambassador, for coming for this dialogue. Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you very much for your intervention, and I give the floor now to Mr. Ewomsan, followed by Mr. Lindgren.

Mr. Ewomsan

Thank you Chairman. Similar to my colleagues, I’d like to welcome and congratulate the Japanese delegation on their report. I am not usually long, but I have to say that I very much admire Japan as a country. Japan is a country that has managed to make so much progress in the area of its economic development without losing its soul. And I know that Japan also is able to make the very most of its culture, the strength of its culture and its traditions. Having said that, I am very much struck by the consequences of social stratification and how that has an impact on the Buraku. Therefore, it would be useful to have more information on the situation of this community. I’d also like to know about the measures that the government intends to take to improve the situation of these people and to eradicate any discrimination against them. I’d like to congratulate Mr. Thornberry for his excellent analysis and I share his thinking. I’ve also taken note of what Madame Dah had to say as well. Let me say that I have a great deal of admiration for Japan, and it would be excellent if Africa could learn from such an example. I’ve tried myself to write some haiku, proof of my admiration for Japan, in fact haiku in my language means a, like a bean, the seed of a bean, literally. And of course if I went to Japan myself I would probably have to change my name. I wouldn’t be as lucky as Madame Dah, because I already have two first names which are apparently Japanese. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Ewomsan, and I give the floor now to Mr. Lindgren.

Mr. Lindgren

Thank you Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, as you are aware, I am here today thanks to the strike of Lufthansa, which did not allow me to go back to my country. It is nothing against Japan, it’s because I had to go back to Brazil. So I am telling this in order to explain to the Japanese delegation that I really hesitated to ask for the floor because I don’t consider myself well prepared to comment in detail your report. I can easily join my colleagues and thank you for the report and for the amount of people that you brought to present their report and to defend its content and give explanations to us to the doubts that we have. But I decided after all to take the floor for two reasons.

One is a point of clarification, which was motivated by the statements by some colleagues including Mrs. Dah, because it’s true that the report refers several times to the large number of Brazilians who are immigrants in Japan. And I would like to tell to my colleagues because they probably are not aware of this, that in the end of the 19th century, Brazil received millions of Japanese immigrants and they were, and they are, a fundamental part of the Brazilian population. They are all Brazilians, they were essential for the establishment of the Brazilian nationality, and whatever positive development we have, we owe to a certain extent to the contribution of the Japanese. In the second half of the 20th century, mostly in the years in the 70s and from the 80s on, Brazil came into a crisis and then there was the reverse movement. The Brazilians went to Japan in large numbers and they are still in large numbers. They do not constitute what some countries call, even Mr. Thornberry and I myself don’t like the term, but they do not constitute a visible minority. They look very much like this delegation physically, so certainly they speak a kind of Japanese that by now must be at best laughable; Portuguese Brazilian slang and the very limited contribution from the original Japanese of their ancestors. They are as close to the original Japanese as I am myself Lindgren am to the Swede who was at the origin of my name, so I have nothing to do with them. When the Brazilians went to Japan at first, and because of the excellent opportunities they found there in the factories of Japan, even if their wages were smaller than those of the Japanese, they never complained, they lived quite well. They suffered – and this is not a complaint Mr. Ambassador because this is being resolved already, is already resolved by consular relations between our countries – but when there was this crisis which led several enterprises to dismiss people, of course the Brazilians as foreigners were among those who were the first to lose their jobs, and then there were planes that were chartered by Japan to send them back to Brazil. It was something strange, but please I repeat, it is no complaint, I do not envisage this from the point of view of racism, nothing like this. This is just an explanation that I wanted to give to my colleagues.

Now, I come to the point that I really would like to stress to the Japanese delegation, even though I didn’t prepare myself well for this interview with you. I remember that for the…since I first attended a meeting of this committee, it was eight years ago, there was a special session on the question of the pariahs, or the_____and so on. It was soon after the Durban conference, and there we learned, I learned for the first time about the Buraku people. And I noticed even though superficially, I noticed that your report speak about, for instance the Hokkaido Ainu people. It speaks about foreigners from other areas, Korean residents in Japan, and so on. But what I learned about the Buraku people in front of my eyes, is specifically from the Mission to Japan by the special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, at that time it was Mr. Doudou Diene in 2006. I would like you to explain to us what are these Buraku people? Why are there remnants of discrimination against these people? Even what is told here in this report by Mr. Doudou Diene is not so terrible, so you can speak freely about it so that we understand from the source instead of learning it from other people. Thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you Mr. Lindgren. It is our good fortune in a way that you were unable to return to your country so you have lightened our debate this afternoon and I certainly personally am very happy to see you here although it may be inconvenient for you and one trusts that you will be homeward bound in the not too distant future. And of course, I presume you will return thereafter. You won’t just say goodbye to us for good. Well, distinguished members and distinguished members of the delegation of Japan I have exhausted the list of speakers, and I think somebody else wants again to…Mr. Diaconu, did you want to say something?

Mr. Diaconu

No, no.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

We have exhausted the list of speakers for this afternoon. As you can see, it was a very rich debate on rather very rich commentary by members of the committee. So have about 10 minutes left, and we always like to utilize our time well, so if you would feel like responding to some of the questions now, I would request you to end your intervention about two or three minutes before the hour so we can conclude the session in an orderly way. You have the floor sir.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you Mr. Chairperson. First of all, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the special rapporteur, Mr. or Thornberry, and other members of the committee. We received very inside depth and very positive comments from you. I appreciate first of all. And then of course we received your comments or your questions which I think we can answer after we sort of sort out question. Since I listened, there are many questions sort of shared by most members, so I think we can sort of sort out, and then make questions, I mean, the answer is clear, tomorrow, by our delegation members. And then, especially I was impressed by comment made by Mr. Thornberry referring to Japan’s first contribution to this question of discrimination against racism when the League of Nations was established, while we sort of___try to include the principle of nondiscrimination into the League of Nations’ major principles. But later on, this was achieved by the United Nations. That was exactly what I was thinking when coming back to this room in the Palais de Wilson, of course. Thank you very much.

That reminded us furthermore, one more time, that we, Japanese, have to be a sort of vanguard or sort of a forerunner to implement this convention and further sort of cooperate with you and other nations to promote the principles and spirit of this convention. As you saw our delegation, big numbers, we have 14 members from five different ministries and agencies. Despite of the difficulty, for example I faced yesterday, of the some labor difficulties by Air France and Lufthansa and so forth, you see our delegation composed of those young, prominent, future public servants of Japan. Since we experienced the almost first ever real change of government or change of government in 50 years time, now, so the questions relating to the…some aspect of your questions are indeed sincere sort of review on the new government. So some points, I think our delegation can give you a little bit more detailed explanation tomorrow. What kind of consideration, what kind of review are now taking place – although some of them are not yet materialized by parliamentary actions. But we are doing. So on specific issues of personal question, I think my deputy, Ms. Shino, can answer in broad sense. May I?

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Yes.

Ms. Shino (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Mr. Chairman and rapporteur, Mr. Thornberry, and the distinguished members of the committee, thank you very much for listening to us and giving us valuable comments. Since the remaining time is not that long, I would like to give you my overview comments. If I do remember correctly, from Mr. Thornberry, Madame Dah, as well as Mr. Peter, there was a question about what is the situation right now on the individual communication. Now, as Mr. Thornberry has pointed out, not only article 14 of the ICERD but also the ___ ICCPR, we have not adopted the amendment for the individual communications, and we have not yet accepted at all the individual communications for the other instruments, either. Now, at the present status of our study is, as the members have said, the individual communications, in order to ensure the effect implementation of the instruments, we are aware that this may be a significant means to ensure ____, but in order to accept it, and in order to make it a useful system for Japan, in what form would be the best form and way to accept this, there are many things that we need to further consider. So on this point, as Ambassador Ueda has mentioned, under the new government, this has been given a priority. We have been instructed from the new government that we should give priority to this issue. So we are making a very sincere study into this matter right now. But as of yet we have not arrived at a conclusion. That is the present status. So that was very briefly my comment on the individual communications. Thank you.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

The typical sort of situation now in Japan. So, tomorrow I think we can explain to you more in detail on some of your questions. So today, I repeat our sincere appreciation to those, all those members of the committee for such a constructive, very constructive exchange of views. I thank you very much Mr. Chairperson.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

It thank you Mr. Ambassador Ueda, and this actually shows how important we consider your country, and the interest that your country has aroused in members of our committee, which also reflects the interest of the international community. So with this, distinguished members, I will now conclude this meeting, and tomorrow morning we will take up Japan at 10 o’clock sharp.

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Second Day

(February 25, 2010 (10:00~13:00): Japanese government response and interactive dialogue session)

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

…Of course it would be better to answer questions raised by members one by one but because of the time constraints I think I will ask my delegation members to answer in sort of a compiled way to similar questions from several members of the committee. So first, I think I would like to ask my colleague Mr. Akiyama, the director of the newly established department for Ainu policy, to answer on the questions of the Ainu people. I will ask my colleague Mr. Akiyama to answer. Thank you.

Mr. Akiyama (Japanese government delegation; Cabinet Secretariat)

Good morning distinguished members of the committee as I have been kindly introduced, my name is Mr. Akiyama. I’m the counselor of the comprehensive Ainu policy department. There has been a major interest shown by the distinguished members and I am truly appreciative of that. Let me now provide answers to your questions. First of all, to Madame Dah as well as Mr. Diaconu, for your questions. For the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the international covenants to do with the indigenous peoples in line with these incidents it is necessary to reinforce as well as expand the rights of the Ainu people. At the Diet of June of 2008 unanimously the resolution on the recognition of the Ainu people as an indigenous people has been adopted. And with the Ainu, the member also participating under the chief cabinet secretary, the Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons on policies for the Ainu people was established. And in July the report of the panel was submitted to the government and in August of last year,_____the government to take the initiative in administering the Ainu policy under the cabinet secretariat, the new office was established which is the Comprehensive Ainu Policy Department. And in a comprehensive manner Ainu policies are being promoted and coordination and adjustments are being made with the other ministries. Based upon the report being submitted in July 2009 by the advisory panel on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to which we have participated in the consensus adoption, it is taken for granted that it should be based upon the Constitution which is the supreme law for Japan and also___as to the significance of the general international guideline for the policy of the indigenous peoples and also taking into consideration article 2 paragraph 2 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. We are able to take special measures in order to guarantee the equal human rights for certain people. In December of last year we have newly established the Council for the Promotion of the Ainu Policy headed by the chief cabinet secretary and we are trying to proceed with the Ainu policy in a comprehensive manner.

Let me now turn to the question from Mr. Cali Tzay. How will we be able to ensure the adequate participation of the Ainu people in the policy making? And there was also a question with regard to the proactive involvement by the central government in this issue as I mentioned earlier, the Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons of Ainu policy which was established in July 2008, this advisory panel is made up of seven persons, and out of those seven, the Ainu representative was one. And in this advisory panel, the panel members made on site visits for three times into the areas where Ainu people are living in large numbers. And we also listen to the voices of Ainu people so that we could come up with discussions on how to promote Ainu policy in the future. Therefore, in this way, in the policy forming process, the government has paid much attention to the involvement of Ainu people themselves and last August the comprehensive Ainu policy______ cabinet and in December as well we set up the meeting for the promotion of Ainu policy which was headed by the chief cabinet secretary last December. Therefore, in this way, the government, the central government is taking the initiative in order to plan and promote Ainu policies. There were 14 members that participated in this meeting for the promotion of Ainu policies. Out of those 15, Ainu who represented themselves were numbered five. Mr. Abe vice president of Hokkaido Ainu Association who is observing the session is one of those representatives and members. And aside from those five Ainu members, the government of Hokkaido, the mayor of Sapporo, and the local community leaders and also experts on Constitution and experts on history in addition to Professor Yozo Yokota, a former member of the working group on indigenous populations, and Mr. ____ Ando, a former member of the UN Human Rights Committee. And this meeting for the promotion of Ainu people, the first meeting was organized and held last month. And in the following month we are going to start the working group under this meeting and in this working group we are going to look into the possibility of setting up a park as the ethnic harmony space and we are also considering the possibility of conducting a survey with regard to the living conditions of Ainu people.

And this survey at this point in time, the policies relating to the improvement of living standards of Ainu people are only located and practice in Hokkaido but the central government is trying to expand these measures nationwide, therefore aside from Hokkaido, how many Ainu people are located in what places, and what are their living conditions; we have not, we have no clear information about such status and situations. Therefore, as a preconditioned of the nationwide implementation of the policies we have to look into the status of those people living outside of Hokkaido, but in conducting such a survey there is going to be an issue relating to the protection of privacy, therefore with regard to the methodology, as I mentioned earlier, at this working group of the meeting of the promotion of Hokkaido (?) is going to take care of that. And Mr. Abe, who I mentioned, is also involved in this working group. Therefore, we try to listen to the views and voices of the Ainu people in conducting a national survey.

Therefore, in this way as far as the central government is concerned, it is always sensitive to listening to the views of the Ainu people. And on top of that, the government is already going to encourage Ainu people to be proud of their own identity and encourage them to be the bearers of their own culture, and such vision and concept has been captured in the address that was given by the Prime Minister at the Diet.

Next, I would like to turn to the points that were made by Mr. Cali Tzay and Mr. ____that Ainu people may not be proud of their identity and what may be the reason why the name has been changed from Utari to Ainu. On these points, Japan as the government policy modernization has been preceded with…as a consequence there has been serious damages had been imposed on the Ainu culture which has led to the discrimination as well as prejudice over the Ainu people that may have prevented the Ainu people to choose the life with pride as Ainu. Even though the intrinsic culture may have been significantly damaged, without losing the identity and thereby reviving its identity and maintaining such identity is still present in Japan as Ainu people is something very meaningful and the United Nations Declaration says that diversity in culture should be respected as common asset for mankind. We are fairly aware that we should take due note of that aspect. So government would like to create society whereby the Ainu people will be able to say with pride that they are of Ainu.

Next, the name for the Ainu people has been changed from Utari to Ainu. Let me explain the process. The Association of Ainu People which is the Hokkaido Ainu Association, in the past because of the discrimination as well as prejudice over Ainu people they did not use the name of Ainu. Instead, they used the name Utari which meant the compatriots in Ainu language. But in April last year, the name of the association was changed from Hokkaido Utari Association to Hokkaido Ainu Association. So it indicates, I believe, that social environment is gradually changing whereby the people of Ainu are able to say with pride that they are of Ainu.

The next question is from Mr. Diaconu, the access to fisheries is limited for Ainu people and that was the question, and we would like have an update on this question, and in a related question any special measures or any measures relating to the utilization of the land and natural resources for Ainu people. Ainu’s access to fisheries is limited, while it is not limited for other people, there was such a statement or a comment was made by the member.  But I think this comment was relating to catching of salmon in inland waters, but the catching of salmon in the inland waters is prohibited against all people based on the domestic law. So it is not the fact that it is only limited to…it is not the fact that the access is only limited for Ainu people.

Now with regard to the capture of salmon in the inland waters by Ainu people in so far____part of a traditional ritual,_______ special admission is applied in some rivers and with regard to the utilization of land as well as natural resources as part of the comprehensive measures for the rehabilitation of Ainu culture, in the advisory panel there was an extensive discussion involving Ainu people themselves. The traditional living environments for Ainu people which is now being regenerated at two locations in Hokkaido and that there are some actions taken in order to gather resources in nature in the national parks and also some exchange programs are also carried out according to the report by the advisory panel that says that because of the lack of sufficient utilization of the land and natural resources there are some hindrance in this regard for the continuation and the development of Ainu culture. There were such arguments that were made by Ainu people.

Therefore, we have decided to listen to Ainu people and the things are supposed…should be reviewed from the public policy viewpoint and going forward, we consider it very important to allow the necessary utilization of land and natural resources for the continuation of Ainu culture. As for specific policies in particular with regard to the regeneration and re-creation of Ainu traditional living environment we are going to consider the possibility of expansion of such areas based on the views from Ainu people. And also, necessary adjustment has to be carried out and put in place so that those national parks that could be used for that purpose, and this way we are considering a gradual realization of the continuation of Ainu culture by the utilization of land and natural resources and we are going to continue to listen to Ainu people’s views at such venues as Ainu policy promotion _____.

Lastly, as Mr. Thornberry has mentioned that legislation may be necessary in order to reinforce the rights of the Ainu people. As for the legislative measures, in the process of the policies that are to be formulated and implemented we would be looking at how the policies will be progressing and also based upon the results of the actual livelihood survey to be made of the Ainu people living outside of Hokkaido and also listening to the views of Ainu not only from the philosophical point of view, we also need to look at diverse viewpoints including the content of policies to be legally positioned. Now, as for the legislative measures in the report coming from the Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons the resolve and the stance of the national government must be indicated specifically in the form of law. The legislative measures may have significant relevance in promoting in a secure manner Ainu policies going forward. So the government would like to duly base ourselves on such recommendations and study about the possible legislations. Thank you for the comments.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, the Foreign Office and Ministry of Justice staff will answer on the questions of people of Okinawa and Buraku. Please…

Ms. Shino (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Good morning. My name is Shino with the Foreign Ministry. Now, there are a series of questions and comments with regard to Okinawa people suggested by Professor Thornberry and others. Now, we are not professionals of ethnology and linguistics and so it is rather difficult for me to give you a clear statement on that the ethnicity of the Okinawan people and I hope that you will understand that position. As part of the government position, those people living in Okinawan islands have nurtured a unique and rich culture and tradition. And we can acknowledge the fact and at the same time it is the view of the government that there is no indigenous people other than Ainu in Japan.

However, ___we have to think in accordance with the spirit of ICERD is that to find out if there is any discrimination against Okinawan people and if it does exist, then what kind of measures, countermeasures should be put into place. And in this regard, what I would like to answer is in fact Okinawan people are also Japanese nationals, and they enjoy the equal rights as Japanese nationals and they can also rely on the same____which is available to Japanese nationals. At the same time, in Japan everybody is allowed to enjoy their own culture and they can practice their own religion and there is no prohibition with regard to the rights of using their own language. Therefore, based on this regard we are promoting Okinawan development plan in order to promote the traditional culture and lifestyle of the Okinawan people.

Now, on the interpretation that Japan had on the term descent, there have been several comments and questions have been asked. For the descent as included in the convention, the interpretation of Japan, it has been clearly had been given in the last review as well as in the periodic report submitted by the government of Japan as well as in our answers to the list of questions. Rather than having the exchange of views with the distinguished members on the interpretation of the term descent at this dialogue today, as I have already mentioned in the case of the Okinawan people whether any discrimination exist for the Dowa people and if there is discrimination what are the responses taken. It would be more befitting with the spirit of the ICERD in having such exchange of views. We have all been respecting to the maximum the principle of equity under the law which is being ensured in article 14 paragraph 1 to try to realize a society without any discrimination.

Ms. Aono (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name is Aono with the Ministry of Justice. Thank you very much for insightful views expressed in the last session. Mr. Avtonomov and Mr. Diaconu there was a question about the family register system, with regard to the current family register system, it is a system, a rational system which we can see the family relations. Therefore, with regard to any possibility of revising the method of organizing family relationship information or data we have no such idea at this point in time. Now there was also a question with regard to access to the family register database. And from the viewpoint of the protection of individual information, in 2008, on May 1 revised family register law was forced and as a result, the identification of the_____is to be made as part of efforts to prevent any wrongdoings and such measures have been in place.

Next, many members of the committee have asked the question but in particular from Mr. Diaconu, whether the specials measures law on the Dowa policies have met with success for its purpose. Because we deemed it necessary to take special measures for the Dowa issue, the law regarding the special fiscal measures of the government for regional improvement, the projects, and the other special measures law were established. However, the national government as well as local governments and other parties had been making efforts for more than three decades. The poor livelihood environments begetting discrimination again and again have been significantly improved and we have seen the promotion of education and enlightenment in eliminating the consciousness for discrimination. And based upon the major changes that are happening in the environment surrounding the Dowa district, special measures law was terminated at the end of March in 2002.

And also on the Dowa issue, the Ministry of Justice human rights organ is making the appropriate advice for the human rights consultations, and when there is a suspicious case for infringement of human rights investigation will be made as a case for the human rights investigation, and if we do find such facts of infringement then the appropriate measures will be taken to remove such infringements, and if the case is being found where messages and information is written on the Internet which is harmful then we will ask the Internet service provider to delete such messages. We are also conducting educational programs to resolve any discriminatory ideas.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, Ministry of Education and Science staff will answer on the question of the education related, school education related matters of minorities.

Ms. Konishi (Japanese government delegation: Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology)

My name is Konishi with the Ministry of Education. Now I would like to take the floor and talk about educational measures relating to minorities. There are two major questions. The first one, was raised by Professor Thornberry and Mr. Amir, the elimination of discriminatory attitudes in Japan and for that to be achieved education on the history with the neighboring countries, and what kind of education programs are being offered for that purpose at public schools. At elementary and junior high schools, in the subject of social studies, when the students learn about the history of our country, they are taught in connection with the history of neighboring countries. And at senior high schools history of the world is a compulsory subject, and the neighboring countries’ situations are also taught in connection with the global history. And in the history of Japan subject, the political relations with neighboring countries and also exchanges and contacts at the economic and cultural level have been provided as part of the education program. And aside from that, in the subject of geography, under the title of the research into the neighboring countries, that the relations have been established with the cultures and lifestyles have been intermingled. And in politics and economics study at senior high school, that there is also a wording that is contained in the course of the study that is aimed at promoting international law understanding including human rights.

Next, for the foreign children on education of the children there was a question that was raised. Allowed me to answer. From Mr. Martinez, especially in the educational area for foreign children what are the measures taken for their education and the recent situation needs to be informed. Now, for the foreign children, if they wish to enroll in the public compulsory schools, based upon the article 13 of ICESCR, as well as article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We do accept them on free of charge basis. If such children wish to enroll in school for foreigners, of course they can choose to do so. The Ministry of Education, in order that the foreign children will not miss the opportunity to enroll in the public compulsory educational schools, we are providing the school enrollment guidebook in seven languages which give the procedures for enrollment as well as educational system in Japan and we are disseminating such brochures at the educational board and others. Furthermore, for the projects promoting the acceptance of foreign schoolchildren, bilingual counselor is being located at the educational board to provide counseling and information and enrollment. We also have been allocating supporters who can speak the mother tongue of such foreigner children in order to assist them for the Japanese language education. We are thus assisting the enrollment of the foreign children into public schools and we would like to make further efforts to facilitate the acceptance of such children in the public schools.

Next, this is a question raised by Professor Thornberry. Education programs are offered to Peruvians of Japanese descent and Brazilians of Japanese descent. Currently, the number of Brazilian schools in Japan is 84. Out of that number, there are three schools were Peruvians. And out of that number 53 schools are accepted or approved by the government of Brazil. So in those schools, they are guaranteed to smooth the advance into higher schools for those Brazilian children in Brazil. In these schools services are provided to those Brazilian children and parents who are going to stay a short period of time in Japan and those schools are offering education programs and curriculums based on the Brazilian course of study. And the local governments are offering the special allowances subsidies in order to reduce the level of tuition and free medical check. And aside from that, in order to make improvements to the education status and the management of administration of the Brazilian schools, we are also conducting a research and survey on the immediate issues that face Brazilian children.

Next, the economic support provided to the schools for foreigners. Especially, economic assistance as well as for the tax incentives, Mr. Thornberry has asked us to inform him on those measures. And also from Mr. Diaconu, some international schools are allowed tax benefits that may lead to discrimination amongst the schools for foreigners. So let me answer those questions in one segment. First of all, for the schools for the foreigners, those miscellaneous schools which are authorized by the prefectural governors based on the school education law article 134, and the entities are in the form of school corporations or quasi-school corporations. Necessary support are given from the local governments and such. On the other hand, as for the tax measures, those schools for foreigners which are being authorized as miscellaneous schools, under the certain conditions, the consumption tax on tuition are being exempted. Furthermore, on the entity for establishing the school is in the form of school corporations or quasi-school corporations, income tax, corporation tax, local resident tax, enterprise tax, and others are being exempted. As for corporation tax and income tax benefits for further benefits offered these schools for foreigners for those corporations which are establishing miscellaneous schools which accept the foreign children which are in Japan only for the short stay, it has been approved to be given tax benefits from the point of view of policy____to promote inward foreign direct investment. So I don’t think that’s what constitutes an undue discrimination to the other foreign schools. Having said that, in order to expand the scope of schools for foreigners which are covered by the tax benefit measures, we need to consider new policy goals as well as to study the criteria for institutional systems in order to achieve the goal in an effective manner so we would like to continue to make study.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, there are so many questions about Koreans living in Japan. So, about their working conditions and improvement matters, that sort of things, Ministry of Welfare and Labor staff will answer and then harassment and that sort of thing will be answered from staff from the Ministry of Justice, and then about educational aspects the Ministry of Education staff will answer, so please, first about improvement of labor conditions. Please…

Mr. Hoshida (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)

My name Hoshida with the Ministry of Health. There was a question raised by Mr. Huang. There was an____improvement in the area of education and employment and living conditions. And with regard to education, with regard to accepting Korean residents and other foreigners of other nationalities, so if they wish to enter a compulsory education in public school, they can be admitted without any charge, and if they would like to enroll in foreign school this option is also left to them. With regard to employment, for the purpose of elimination of discrimination, we are providing guidance and awareness raising programs targeting employers so that they can introduce a fair screening system and recruitment system. As far as those workers that are employed in Japan despite their nationalities, the labor related laws will be universally applied. With regard to the social security programs, not only those Korean residents, but also all those foreigners residing in Japan legally, the same rule and system is applied to them. Thank you.

Mr. Ehara (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name is Ehara from the Human Rights Promotion Division of the Ministry of Justice. Mr. Diaconu, Mr. De Gouttes, and Mr. Thornberry have asked on the question of the harassments for the students of the Korean schools. For the children enrolled in Korean schools, and the question of harassment for such children, Ministry of Justice human rights organ has been engaged in a campaign to educate the___people. We have a slogan of respecting the human rights of foreigners as the major item for such annual campaigns. Throughout the year we have education activities on a nationwide basis. We also have established human rights counseling centers so that the children enrolled in Korean schools as well as the related people will be able to consult on the different questions and if we do find some suspicious cases of human rights infringements, we will expeditiously make investigations and take appropriate measures. In particular, when there is intermittent nuclear testing as well as launching of missiles, incidents by North Korea may trigger harassments to children enrolled in Korean schools. We will make the utmost efforts to continue our promotion and education activities and we tried to gather relevant information and if we do suspect that there may be infringement of human rights we will expeditiously investigate as to the case of human rights investment to take very strict measures and we will reinforce the human rights protection measures and provide guidance to the relevant departments. Recently, in April of 2009, North Korea launched a flying object and also in the same year in May, North Korea conducted underground nuclear testing. And the Ministry of Justice human rights organ provided necessary guidance on those occasions. Thank you.

Next, the question about Korean schools and what kind of curriculum programs are being offered. This was a question raised by Mr. Diaconu. First of all, there are schools for Korean residents, they are the ones the schools where they can learn their own culture. As for those schools that accommodate Koreans with North Korean nationality those schools are admitted as miscellaneous schools and they are relieved of the fixed asset tax and the corporation tax and the business tax except taxation on donations.

As for those schools for Korean residents with South Korean nationality, they offer learning and study about the Korean language and the Korean culture and there are some schools that are admitted or approved as formal school that is stipulated by article 1 of the School Education Law. And the course of study is applied to those schools when it comes to their teaching programs. Many of those schools for Korean residents, they have already been admitted or approved by local governments and there are many schools as such that receive subsidies from local governments. There was another question raised, out of those schools for Korean residents there are_____located in Tokyo that are eligible for the admittance into university. And there was also a comment made that the unfair treatment was applied to those schools because their eligibility was not admitted. Now with regard to the eligibility to be admitted into university in Japan, regardless of the Japanese nationality, anyone who has graduated from a senior high school or the students with the academic skill that is equivalent to a graduate they are admitted or they can be eligible. Therefore, it is not the fact that those graduates of the Korean schools for Korean residents are located in Tokyo, that there are five schools in Shizuoka Prefecture and eight schools and Aichi Prefecture which is famous for Toyota and there are two other schools in the prefecture and their eligibility is admitted. And we also softened the regulations relating to the eligibility to be admitted to university in September 2003 for those graduates of foreign schools located in Japan if those schools are admitted as equivalent to the academic achievement of the schools in their home countries. And those graduates of foreign schools that are accredited by international accreditation organizations, also those persons are judged eligible by each university, so those conditions were added to this regulation, therefore, the foreign nationals are widely admitted to be eligible to be admitted to university.

Now, let me answer to the question raised by Mr. Avtonomov which is on the bill to make free of charge the tuition for the senior high school that North Korean schools are to be excluded. There has been a newspaper report to that effect and what are the facts was the point of the question. As you may know the bill to make tuition free of charge for the senior high schools to not collect tuition for public senior high schools and to provide assistance the money for enrollment into senior high schools have been adopted by the Cabinet in January this year and the bill was submitted to the Diet. We are aware of the content of the newspaper report which was pointed out. In the bill for the miscellaneous schools including the schools for foreigners, the coverage would be for those____in the senior high schools which are similar to the senior high schools as stipulated under the ministerial ordinance. So we would like to make the appropriate decision based upon the deliberation to be done by the Diet.

Sorry for my long answer. This is going to be my last answer. Mr. Thornberry and Mr. Amir raised the following question relating to human rights education and awareness raising. This is going to be my last answer. Programs for human rights education and awareness raising targeting_____population more detailed information is needed and targeting in particular the younger generation in particular in public schools, what kind of human rights education programs have been offered in the curriculum. Now, I would like to put them together in my answer. First, human rights education and awareness raising programs, in March 2002, the Basic Plan for Human Rights Education and Encouragement, and based on that, the human rights, the respect for human rights and awareness raising should be pursued through school education and social education, elimination of prejudice and discriminatory attitudes and awareness raising activities in order to realize_____solution for discrimination related problems. And based on the Constitution and the Basic Law on Education, in school education and depending on the development level of the children, throughout school education, the government paid much attention to programs and educational programs that are aimed at raising human rights protection. And at the Ministry, from the viewpoint of the protection and the respect for basic human rights and together with the Board of Education, we have been promoting the comprehensive human rights education promotion_____designated to promote human rights education research that are focused on school functions to look into what kind of teaching instructions and methodologies should be employed for promoting human rights education. And we have been promoting those____programs and projects. With regard to human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice, they have identified Dowa problems, Ainu people, and foreign nationals. Those minority groups are picked up and selected as priority items throughout the year and they have been engaged in organized lectures and symposia and training sessions nationwide.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, Ministry of Justice staff will answer on the question of the monitoring mechanism and statistics on the cases of racial discrimination or xenophobia, and also the question on the establishment of the human rights institute in Japan.

Mr. Ogawa (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name is Ogawa from the Human Rights Bureau of the Ministry of Justice. First of all, from Mr. Murillo Martinez, there was the question on the monitoring mechanism and whether such a mechanism is in place for xenophobia. And in particular, what may be the situation for the xenophobic information as being placed in the Internet. Now, the Ministry of Justice human rights organs are dealing with various issues to do with human rights including discrimination on foreigners. We are providing through the human rights counseling, to provide appropriate advice as well as introducing the relevant institutions and the legal of affairs bureau and local legal affairs bureau on a nationwide basis. And when we find that there are some suspicions of infringement of human rights we will make investigation as to the case of human rights infringement. And when we acknowledge that there is a fact of infringement, we will take necessary measures to eliminate such infringements and also to take preventive measures for recurrence. As for cases of human rights infringement of foreigners, the cases opened up newly within 2008, the number was 121, of which the cases to do with discriminatory treatment number 97, and 16 cases for assault and abuse. Now, let me refer to the Internet situation. Ministry of Justice human rights organ have been put forth to stop human rights infringement abusing the Internet as the campaign slogan. For encouragement and promotion activities throughout the year we have encouragement activities on a nationwide basis for those malicious sorts of cases which infringe on human rights including the honor as well as privacy of others. When we can identify the senders of such information or message, through education and encouragement of those persons, try to eliminate such infringements. When we cannot identify the senders we will ask the Internet service providers to delete such information. We are always taking appropriate measures.

With regard to the question of the establishment of a national human rights institution, there were four members who asked this question. The government considers necessary to set up an independent national human rights institution in order to achieve effective remedy of human rights victims. Currently, with regard to the organizational structure, we have been looking into the issues relating to the establishment in earnest. This national human rights institution which will be newly established, will be set up in accordance with the Paris Principles. At this point in time, there is no definite schedule in place, but we would like to try and make efforts so that the draft, the bill, related bill will be presented to the Diet at the soonest possible date. Thank you.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will answer on the question of article 4 a b of this Convention and the question of the political right of the foreigners.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Now, the number of conventions as ratified by Japan may be different depending on how you count it, but we try as much as possible to ratify those conventions.  As Mr. Peter that has rightly said for ICESCR as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Japan attaches reservations, and I also agree with Mr. Peter that reservations to be attached in ratifying the convention should be minimal as possible. But, in making precise study for the guarantee____required by the convention ____condition and method for ensuring the guarantee____in Japan of the need to clarify by attaching reservations. Now, as to specific question, the concept of what is being provided by article 4___of the convention includes the broad aspects for various situations and various types of conduct. For example, dissemination of ideas of racial discrimination and for all of such situations to try to apply punitive laws. For example, in view of freedom of expression where necessity and____of constraints should be strictly circumscribed as well as principle of legality of crime and punishment____specificity and clarity of scope and punishment____require may not be compatible with guarantees prescribed in the Japanese constitution and thereby we have attached a reservation for article 4 a and b. To withdraw the reservation, as to say to make a study for the possible punitive legislations for the dissemination of ideas of racial discrimination may unduly discourage legitimate discourse, so we need to strike a balance between the effect of the punitive measures and the negative impact on freedom of expression. I don’t think that the situation in Japan right now has rampant dissemination of discriminatory ideas or incitement of discrimination. I don’t think that that warrants the study of such punitive measures right now.

There was a question with regard to the voting rights, suffrage, that at the local government level, there was a ______ that argued for the suffrage right should be admitted in local governments, and since October 1998, as many as 15 bills were submitted to the Diet, in this regard. And the government would like to monitor what kind of actions will be taken at the Diet level.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, I ask the staff from the Ministry of Justice to answer questions on nationality or citizenship and refugee related matters.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

Please let me give answers to the questions from Mr. Thornberry as well as Mr. Diaconu, for the special permanent residents. Special permanent residents in accordance with article 2a and b of the treaty of peace with Japan, the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan have been separated from the territories of Japan from the day of entry of force of this treaty. In accordance with that, notwithstanding the will of the person those who had to leave Japanese nationality, but those people who continually reside in Japan before the ending of the second world war as well as their descendants. For these sorts of people, the special law, the name is, Special Law on the Immigration Control of Those Who have Lost Japanese Nationality and Others on the Basis of the Treaty of Peace with Japan, that has been promulgated. So compared to the other foreigners, by the provision of the law for the reasons for deportation is extremely limited and also the ceiling for the reentry permit is three years for the general foreigners but for the special permanent residents it is four years. So there are special considerations given to these people because of the historical developments as well as the fact that they have been long settled in Japan. Special permanent residents are able to acquire Japanese nationality through naturalization. For those people who have special territorial as well as blood relations with Japan, the conditions for naturalization are being relaxed.

Next, there was a question raised by Mr. Avtonomov. What are the advantages and disadvantages for those Korean residents who do not ask for naturalization? Now, basically naturalization obligation is based on individual will and so when it comes to their reasons for not applying for naturalization or for applying for naturalization, it is very difficult for us to make specific comments on those individual feelings. Now for those who have special territorial relations and bloodline relations the naturalization conditions have been relaxed in which I have already mentioned.

Next, I would like to give answers to the questions raised by many members including Mr. Thornberry whether the name needs to be changed at the time of naturalization. For those persons who would like to acquire Japanese nationality, there is no fact that they are being urged to change their names. For those people who have acquired the Japanese nationality on their own will they are able to change their name. But, as for the characters that can be used for the name, for the native Japanese as well as the naturalized Japanese, in order not to raise any inconveniences for their social life, it may be necessary for them to choose the easy to read and write characters used in common and Japanese society. Now, the name to be adopted upon the naturalization, it is not that you should use just the Chinese characters; you can also use phonetic characters like hiragana and katakana as well.

Next, there was a question raised by Mr. Diaconu, with regard to the acceptance of Indochinese refugees. Now, regardless of the nationality of those refugees, based on the Convention on the Status of Refugees and so forth they seek refuge in Japan escaping from political persecution, they are supposed to be recognized as refugees and in consideration of ______ situation facing those refugees, we will offer humanitarian considerations and services, and so it is not the fact that our refugee related policy is only limited or restricted to those from Vietnam, Indochina, and Myanmar.

Now, as to the procedures of recognition of refugees, there was a question raised by Mr. Thornberry as to the language and as to the lack of information. The application for recognition of refugees are being prepared in 24 languages as for brochures to inform the procedures for refugee recognition is being prepared in 14 languages and such documents are available in the local immigration control offices on a nationwide basis as well as through the Internet. Whenever an interview was conducted, for the application to be recognized as refugees, as a principle, we go through the interpreter in the language as required by the applicant. And in the interview, we would confirm whether the applicant adequately understands the languages by the interpreter. The procedure is always being a very careful procedure in selecting the interpreters as well. As for the translation of the document in order to make expeditious decisions the government pays for the cost of the translation.

Next, this is a question raised by Mr. Thornberry with regard to migrant woman exposed to domestic violence and Mr. Thornberry was paying attention to the revised immigration law which took place last February. And if there is no substantive marriage status for over six months, their status is to be revoked and there is a______. It is true, but this is for the purpose of targeting disguised marriage or false acquisition of the status of residence, and this is the purpose of the revised law. And as you raised in your statement when the migrant worker or migrant women in the process of divorce mediation and who is also exposed to domestic violence, and so she is not in the substantive marriage status, but with the justifiable reason, the revocation clause is not going to be applied. And under the revised immigration control law, if the revocation is to be applied to a certain person, that person who is subject to the possibility of revocation has to be presented with the alternative status of residence. And that kind of consideration should be given by the government and which is also stipulated in the law. And that ends my answer.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you. Again, from the Ministry of Justice staff will answer on the question of the specific… from the Ministry of Foreign affairs specific law or legislation on nondiscrimination and the question of the discrimination amongst private citizens.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Now, whether there is a necessity to adopt the law on racial discrimination, and implementing article 4 of the ICERD in Japan, article 14 paragraph 1 of the Constitution includes the equality under the law for which includes the forbidding the racial discrimination has the members____very well. For expression as well as dissemination of the ideas for discrimination if it is in the content of damaging the honor and credit of the specific individuals as well as groups, there are some punitive laws for instance, collective intimidation as well as habitual____these are the crimes which are punishable under the law concerning punishment of physical violence and others. And if the present circumstances in Japan cannot effectively suppress the act of discrimination under the existing legal system, I don’t think that the current situation is as such therefore I do not see any necessity for legislating a law in particular for racial discrimination. Furthermore, from Mr. Diaconu, raised the question on the relationship between the discriminatory motive and the criminal justice procedures. In the criminal justice trials in Japan, the malicious intent is an important element to be considered by the judge in sentencing. Therefore, whether the motivation is based upon racial discrimination or not it is being appropriately being considered under the criminal justice in Japan in the degree of sentencing.

Now, I take the floor. This is a question by Professor Thornberry. The question was relating to the prohibition of racial discrimination between private persons. Now article 14 of the Constitution is not directly applying to the behavior and acts between private persons, but it is covered and controlled by the civil code, and the implementation of the civil code, the objective of article 14 is supposed to be taken into consideration. To be more specific, in the private law any racial discriminatory acts that infringe on the basic human rights may be judged as invalid. And in relation to that, if there is any damage inflicted on others as a result of racially discriminatory acts, total responsibility should be borne by that person in the form of the payment of damages in certain conditions. Therefore, a fair and just compensation has to be made. And in addition to that, the Constitution stipulates that anyone is guaranteed the right to court and so any victim subject to racial discriminatory acts can apply for relief based on the abovementioned laws. Therefore, the provisions of the Constitution can be appropriately applied onto acts between private persons.

Next will be the last comment from the Ministry of Justice. Mr. De Gouttes has raised the point why did the Supreme Court refuse the appointment of a foreigner to the family court mediator. As a premise for this, to be engaged in an act of exercise of public power, or to participate in public decision-making for important measures, and also for the civil servants given the task to participate in such processes, we suppose that the persons having Japanese nationality are to be appointed. So under such a premise the family court mediators who are part-time staff of the court, will be engaged in the process of participating in the mediation committee. And they will be engaged in acts of exercise of public power. And also, may participate in the public decision-making, they would fall under the category of civil servants getting the task to participate in the public decision-making. So in order to be appointed it requires Japanese nationality. So we recognize that the Supreme Court has refused the appointment of foreigners to the family court mediators because such reason.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Finally, questions concerning on the amendment of the convention, and also questions relating to the ILO related treaties, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Welfare and Labor will answer.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)

First of all, the effectiveness of the treaty there was a question raised by Mr. Peter. As Mr. Peter mentioned, there are conventions that have been ratified by our government have the same effect as the domestic law, but if there is any misunderstanding on the part of Mr. Peter I just would like to make a correction. When an individual lodges a complaint, it is possible for him or her to invoke the international treaty. And there were such court cases and the specific example is contained in paragraph 66 of the periodic report.

Now we understand that for the amendment of article 8 of the ICERD is to have the contribution to become the main source of finance from the countries including the non-parties to the convention. That’s to say to be funded through the ordinary budget of the United Nations. On the other hand, we are of the position that the duties of the convention will bind, as a principle, only the parties so there is no plan for us to accept such an amendment because it should be the parties who should bear the expenses for the ICERD Convention.

Mr. Hoshida (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)

I am Hoshida with the Ministry of Health. There was a question raised by Thornberry and Diaconu. Now with regard to ILO Convention 111, is aimed_____eliminating discrimination in wide scope in the areas of employment and occupation. And in concluding or ratifying the Convention, I should say that there should be scrutinization of the Convention and domestic laws and their compatibility between the two. So we would like to continue this study, but under the article of the Constitution basically in general terms, all people are treated equal under the law and in the areas of employment and occupation related labor laws are in place in order to carry out measures against discrimination. Now, next, ILO convention 169, this is relating to the indigenous peoples customary practice relating to punishment that should be respected and also that the measures in place of detention will take precedence over the punishment the detention____for indigenous peoples. But this should be reviewed from the viewpoint of the principle of legality of crime and punishment and the quality and fairness of punishment, I consider it involves a lot of problems before we can actually conclude this convention.

Next, there was a question raised on the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and the International Convention against Apartheid in Sports. For the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid as well as the International Convention against Apartheid in Sports, Japan has not ratified those conventions. But consistently from the past Japan has not condoned apartheid because it oppresses racial equality as well as respect of basic human rights.

The last question, the Genocide Convention was not ratified by Japan. There was a question as such. The genocide crime for instance is a heinous crime that is committed in the international community and we should not stand idle on those issues. The reason why we joined ICC was exactly from that viewpoint and understanding. But when it comes to the Genocide Convention, the domestic law should be stipulated in order to punish them, and the punishable acts are quite wide in scope and so in our government actions we have to consider the necessity of the Genocide Treaty and also the domestic laws that should be put in place so we have to continue with careful consideration of the possibility.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

This concludes our answers.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Excellency, I am most grateful to you and your delegation for the replies you have given and the fact also that your delegation has done it with discipline and we have adhered to our time constraints so now what I propose doing is I’d explained I’d give the floor to speakers in the order that they have requested the floor and this will be followed by further responses from your delegation. May I request distinguished members to be direct in their questions and observations so that our dialogue is truly an interactive dialogue. I give the floor to Mr. Diaconu followed by Mr. Lahiri.

Mr. Diaconu

Thank you very much Mr. Chairman, I would like to welcome the answers, as you said disciplined and well organized and to all our questions. Now, I noted very interesting developments concerning the Ainu people. Consultations have taken place, measures have been taken concerning the access to resources of land to fishing and the preservation of their culture. And I think this is a very important opening to any other measures concerning the implementation of our convention. Many things which were not clear for us resulting from the formulations in the report like for instance that concerning the Tokyo School or the refugees. Now, we have a clear picture on these issues from the answers given by the delegation. There are still issues on which we would like the delegation and the government to make efforts to make progress.

The issue of other indigenous peoples, I think that remains a permanent problem a permanent issue to be considered by the state party. And I would submit that the State party should organize consultations with the representatives of these people. As you have consultations with the Ainu representatives why don’t Japanese state bodies have consultations with the representatives of the Buraku or Ryukyu people to see what is and what do they want, what is their problem. And also why don’t you initiate studies on their culture, on their language to see what are the differences. Are these people different from the Japanese majority do they have a different culture and language because if they have one that is a minority with the meaning of culture and language and it should be taken care of if this is a people who were there for centuries then these are an indigenous people which is different from the Japanese majority. So one has to find out, but for this, dialogue is necessary talk to their representatives please.

As to the issue of descent, descent based discrimination, I looked at the answer given by the delegation to this issue, in the answers given to questions of the country rapporteur. And I can tell you that I am not convinced by this answer. I’m not convinced. So the issue of descent has to be placed somewhere but under our convention. Not outside. Some of the countries of the region consider that this is a social problem not an ethnic one. You don’t consider it even as a social one. And you don’t consider it as an ethnic one. Then what it is for you? It is in the convention. Find the place for it in the convention. And if it is considered to be a national or ethnic origin okay, but let’s deal with it under the convention. Look again at the situation of these people because this is the most important issue. Are they treated as people on the basis of social stratification as a group which is considered under social stratification as a caste according to a caste system. Then it is a people which is discriminated on the basis of descent.

As to schools, we received some answers and some of them are complete and good. I think this question should be given more attention in order to avoid any discrimination in terms of tax exemptions and in terms of recognizing studies in different schools and recognizing access to children of these schools to higher education.

As for the article 4, as I noticed already there is legislation in the country to punish these acts for everybody. What one could call a general criminal law. These acts are punished from the smallest let’s say the less difficult offenses to the violence. But what is missing is that racial motivation, there is no legislation which is asking the judge to take into account the racial motivation. And this is about racial discrimination. No country could tell us that there is no racial motivation in the country when such acts are committed. There is racial motivation in some cases not in all. It is up to the judge to find it, but give it the possibility to find it. And that is why I think that under malicious intent as it was said today here, discrimination and racial discrimination may come very well under malicious intent. But the judges have to be given the possibility under a piece of law for interpretation to take into account the racial motivation as a malicious intent among other malicious intents.

So these are my comments and thank you very much. Thank you again. I think this is a good dialogue we had and we are making progress, we are understanding better each other, and we see what are the issues to be dealt with. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you for your comments Mr. Diaconu, and I hand the floor to Mr. Lahiri followed by Mr. De Gouttes.

Mr. Lahiri

Thank you Mr. Chairman. Since I did not take the floor yesterday I would like to, like all the others, my colleagues, welcome the Japanese delegation of an impressive size and with young and bright faces and I’m sure you’ll do well in public service. I listened with great interest, or very closely to the long exchange that we had yesterday.

And while of course our exchange was informative and taken in very good spirit, I think it would be difficult to say that the views of CERD and of the Japanese government have converged in any substantial degree since the time when we last considered the Japanese periodic report that initial report.

The one issue that on which there is a clear indication of change and progress is the recognition by the Japanese government that an independent national human rights institution in accord with the Paris Principles would be helpful and desirable, and that it is working on it.

However, since 2001, I may be wrong but from what I can see, there has been little change in the absence of legal provisions which would allow the effective implementation of this convention in the way that we are used to dealing with it.

On information relating to the minority groups, the continued disadvantages of people of Korean stock and Chinese also to an extent and overall the absence of meaningful implementation of the recommendations and suggestions and CERD’s last report.

Mr. Chairman, Japan is a very unique country unlike much larger Asian countries like India which came under the thrall of British colonialism or China which easily lost or quickly lost the Opium War. Japan has had an entirely different trajectory. Within 50 years of the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry and his black ships, Japan had developed into a modern and industrially advanced nation and had militarily defeated in much larger country like Russia – a Western country. My Japanese friends sometimes tell me that this is due in some measure to a spirit of__[sonnou jouhi?]__I don’t know if I’m pronouncing it correctly____translated loosely as “throw out the barbarians” which swept Japan during the Edo period; it’s a spirit based on chauvinistic ethnic pride, but it stood Japan in a very good state not just recently, but apparently also in the seventh century in its confrontation against the ____ Kingdom in Korea or the Tang Dynasty. More recently, this spirit of____to use a shorthand for it, allowed and you know which went on changed slightly during the Meiji Restoration. It allowed Japan to preserve its independence, to prevent the kind of national catastrophes which many other countries in Asia suffered, and in that sense it has been important in the Japanese nation’s, the way it has achieved its position which is widely admired in Asia.

However, times have now changed and Japan perhaps doesn’t face such threats. I think for a committee like CERD, I would on behalf of CERD respectively urge that our suggestions and recommendations for changes in Japanese law and practice to bring it more into line with the international norms in this matter. Are not rejected in the spirit of____but it is clear that we are both on the same side. There is no contradiction and we hope that our suggestions in this matter in terms of the various points that have been raised by my colleagues yesterday and today are given due consideration and perhaps we can express the hope that by the time we meet next time for an exchange there will be greater convergence not on the overall issue of racial discrimination I mean those that we have already but on the mechanisms for implementing the convention on which I suspect we still have some divergences. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you for your interesting remarks, and Mr. De Gouttes you have the floor followed by Mr. Peter and then Mr. Murillo Martinez. Sorry Mr. Prosper. After Mr. De Gouttes, it’s Mr. Prosper followed by Mr. Murillo Martinez. But perhaps Mr. Peter will also speak later.

Mr. De Gouttes

Thank you Chairman. My comments will go along the same lines to a great extent to what Mr. Diaconu has said. I’d like to thank the delegation for the replies given this morning which were very complete. Particularly the ____the Ainu people, the progress made and the consultations with that population group in Japan.

But there are other groups other than the Ainu which also seek respect for their cultures and languages and their rights. This is particularly true of the Burakumin. Once again then, I’d like to refer to the summary produced by the Office of the High Commissioner during the UPR in May 2008 in the report of the special rapporteur for contemporary forms of racism in 2005. According to those documents, the Burakumin are apparently very numerous apparently some 3 million people. These reports also state that they are descended from communities considered as being pariah during the feudal period. The report again states that it’s because they had they did work related to death for example, they had jobs which were considered impure, so it’s a difficult past for this population, although the castes have been abolished for a long time. Inevitably then there is the criteria of descent in terms of where they come from. And you’ve already said and Mr. Diaconu has noted that article 1 of the Convention deals with racism based on race but also descent and we have a general recommendation number 29 which refers to this concerning discrimination based on descent or caste origin. Now, I think there’s been a good opening up to the Ainu people so the question is whether you can also envisage consultations with other groups seeking promotion of their rights including the Burakumin who also live in Okinawa (this is incorrect). So I’d be very interested in continuing this discussion on the notion of descent and possible openings we could expect from your government on what seems to be a difference between the committee and yourselves on the criteria of discrimination based on descent. That’s what I wanted to add to the discussion. Thank you Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. De Gouttes. Mr. Prosper, you have the floor followed by a Mr. Murillo Martinez.

Mr. Prosper

Thank you Mr. Chairman. First, I want to thank the delegation for its presentation the information in the report provided both yesterday and today. I did not speak yesterday but I have to say that listening to the conversation and the dialogue we definitely learned a lot and received greater insights as to not only the situation in Japan but also your policies and your rationale for what you do and what you are doing. I would also like to thank the rapporteur for his thorough assessment yesterday really, for me it removed the need to intervene yesterday on many of the issues and I was able to have the luxury of listening to my colleagues ask the questions.

Today an interesting issue was raised which is relevant to the committee but it’s something that’s of personal interest to me and I just wanted to explore it a little bit more and that is the issue of the Genocide Convention as well as the issue related to the ICC the International Criminal Court. I remember I was involved in the negotiations from the beginning and I remember at the time in the late 90s when the United States was trying to assess and determine its position both under President Clinton which I was involved with and then later with President Bush we were looking to what Japan was doing and considering as you know there were conversations on the margins let’s put it, and you finally decided to join the ICC which the United States has not and there are reasons for that. But what I found interesting is that you felt comfortable enough to join the ICC but not comfortable enough to become a party for the Genocide Convention. In fact I would have found it to be the opposite such as we are, the United States is. I’m still struggling to understand why is it that you are able to be in that position or you feel comfortable in that position particularly because with the ICC as you are well aware of there is the principle of complementarity which obviously would grant you as well as other states parties the first bite of the apple if one of your nationals were accused of a crime under the ICC genocide crimes against humanity and war crimes. And part of the principle of complementarity is that state parties will enact legislation that would allow for them to punish those crimes found within the ICC so I’m just trying to understand the consistency because it is an apparent inconsistency and I’m sure you have an explanation for it whereby signing the ICC you’re basically saying that you are in a position to prosecute the crime of genocide yet you are not a state party to the Genocide Convention. If you could either now or we don’t need to take up the time just later or in the future reports just explain that a little bit more for our understanding because obviously the crime of genocide are acts which is as you said are reprehensible and it’s a fundamental protection that is consistent with the convention we are discussing here today, but again I would like to thank you for the dialogue, the information that you provided. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Prosper. I give the floor to Mr. Murillo Martinez, followed by Mr. Cali Tzay.

Mr. Martinez

Thank you Chairman. I too would like to thank the distinguished delegation of Japan for the very detailed replies they’ve given today. I’m pleased to hear that you have very detailed statistics on acts of xenophobia managed by the Ministry of Justice and it’s also very encouraging to know that you are making efforts to adopt a human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles.

Now, this is not so much a question, but yesterday we heard about Japan’s role, major contributions in international cooperation to promote human rights. And I am sure the delegation knows that last December, the General Assembly by acclamation, declared 2011 to be international year for persons of African origin. I’d like to take advantage of this opportunity then, just to note the importance of that commemoration and to express my optimistic hope that Japan like other countries will be very committed to that process and will make a very positive contribution to achieving the objectives which I’m sure will mean implementation of mechanisms for voluntary contributions. Thank you very much, Chairman, I do apologize to the delegation for taking advantage of this excellent opportunity for making that little speech.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you for the intervention Mr. Murillo Martinez. I give the floor to Mr. Cali Tzay followed by Mr. Avtonomov.

Mr. Cali Tzay

Thank you Chairman. I too would like to join my colleagues in thanking you the distinguished delegation of Japan for the replies and the reply to my question about seven members of the panel discussing the policy for the Ainu. This reply will help me to understand the situation.

Since there are seven might it not be more feasible for an Ainu delegation on a parity basis so that this panel could really discuss the policy needed by all of the Ainu people; of course reflecting the willingness of the Prime Minister. Of course we’ve heard they’re going to listen to the Ainu but perhaps then the panel should have a parity representation of the Ainu people.

With regard to Okinawa, I greatly respect the opinion of the delegation but I note the study by the Ecuadorian expert Mr. Jose Martinez_____on the situation of indigenous peoples in the world. He noted that one of the forms whereby an indigenous population can define itself as such is self definition. But he also said that indigenous peoples are those which existed which were in place before colonialization or the formation of current states. As far as I understand, the Okinawan has its own culture and language and idiosyncrasies. So the opinion of that expert would be that since Japan gave its support to the Declaration on Indigenous Peoples it would be of course recommendable, and I respectfully I say this, that the Okinawa people also be recognized as an indigenous people. I repeat, I believe they have a different language, a language which is different from Japanese.

And I’d also like to say that I’ve received information concerning the policy of retirement. There is a law specifically referring to this we were told that in the legislation there is a particular gap because Korean citizens because of their nationality are not taken account of in this policy that is neither elderly nor disabled.

I recall an expression I learned in the US “a crack in the law can be small that nobody can notice, but also can be so big that a caterpillar tractor can pass through.” So I think these gaps in legislation may be not be noted by some people or anybody, but also may result in a large group not receiving the necessary benefits so I think that the government of Japan could probably resolve this gap in the legislation with regard to this particular issue. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and I thank once again the distinguished delegation of Japan.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Cali Tzay for your remarks, and Mr. Avtonomov you have the floor now.

Mr. Avtonomov

Thank you for giving me the floor. Firstly, I’d like to apologize for not being here for the whole process of replies to questions because I have responsibilities as rapporteur on another country so I do apologize for this. I just wanted once again to welcome the delegation and I wanted to say good morning and say that in Japanese as well. I listened to the replies to questions, I heard them in Japanese, of course that doesn’t happen very often in this room, it was very interesting, and there were replies to questions that I raised yesterday. And I did hear some replies to those. I just wanted to make a few details clearer.

Of course we know the position with respect to the Burakumin group, nevertheless there was a partial answer to what I asked about registration of families. We know that there are difficult problems here. Because overcoming traditional stereotypes will be complicated in any country and Japan is no exception. No country is an exception. And we are well aware that basically this is related to the origin of such peoples not only their parents but their grandparents and so on,___these groups, and that’s what the discrimination arises from. Now I heard the answer about registration of families. I wasn’t actually asking for a change in the procedure on registration of families because I know that this is a rather long established system and has its advantages. The question of registration is not a question that we have to discuss here. Registration is not something that we are seeking to change. It has great significance for ensuring that people’s rights are enforced. But I did listen with interest to the fact that the new legislation on personal data and of course you shouldn’t close off access, somehow reduces access of all people universally to such data.

I therefore would like to ask whether there’s any…if there is a change in access to personal data, whether this has affected the Burakumin people, and whether discrimination with respect to these people is related let’s say to certain prejudices and stereotypes with employers. I would like to have more information about this, and it may not of course, not be conscious, sometimes people are not aware when they discriminate against someone, so as I say it may not be conscious. So I would like to know whether the situation of these people, the Burakumin, has changed following the change in legislation concerning access to personal data and if there are any positive moves forward with regard to reducing these problems. I think possibly, there needs to be further consideration as to how the access to data be arranged. It would be very interesting to hear whether then there is any additional information on this. If there isn’t any information available right now, perhaps it would be interesting to have that in the next periodic report. Thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Avtonomov. I would just like to interject a comment here. This arises from our discussions this morning, and that concerns indigenous people. You have stated that the Ainu people are the only one whom you recognize as the indigenous people. My understanding, my strict understanding of the situation would be that the Japanese people themselves are an indigenous people because ((Mr. Ueda: “Yes, of course.”)) I think they were there for as long as the Ainu but perhaps because of special circumstances they were isolated and underprivileged so we have of course Mr. Thornberry is our expert on the indigenous people and Mr. Cali Tzay, so this is I suppose the Japanese people are as indigenous as the Ainu and…because if you think in terms of time and continuity. So this is the only comment that I wish to make.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairperson. There are additional questions raised by members of the Committee and while our staffs are preparing sort of answers, possible answers to you, I will make a sort of general comment.

Of course there is no clear definition of indigenous people even in the UN Declaration or the UN resolution, so it’s difficult for us to identify or how can I say, define indigenous people as Mr. Chairperson stated. Different from the situation in Australia and New Zealand and the United States where indigenous people used to be there and then outsider came later. Our history is different, our history is different. That is true. I mean whether our ancestors come from southern China or from Siberia or from Polynesia we don’t know. From Africa maybe, we don’t know. There might be a sort of first wave arriving, and then second wave arriving, and then third wave arriving, all mixed and we now, we are Japanese. The Ainu, we recognized as an indigenous people because definitely they have their own culture, history, different from our, I mean so-called Japanese nationals.

But Okinawan people are Japanese. I mean, it’s difficult to identify, it’s difficult for you to identify say the people from Provence and the people from Ile-de-France. How do you identify themselves? The Okinawan people have a very of course a rich unique culture but their language of course, strong, how can I say, very probably a group of Japanese language, in broad sense they are Japanese language, I mean in comparison with say, Chinese or Korean or Taiwanese, they are Japanese language. Maybe, there are of course many many different, how can I say, theories and academic studies, but broadly speaking, people living in Okinawa are Japanese, in broad sense, so that’s the reason why are not identify them as indigenous people. Of course they have a sort of sometimes different history from mainland parts, and they had suffered heavily during World War II, they need economic development, so central government and prefectural government provided a great deal of assistance to Okinawa people to raise up their living standards, that sort of things, yes, we nurture the Okinawan culture, for example when the G8 summit was held in Okinawa, G8 leaders all enjoyed very beautiful culture of Okinawa as you know. Now, I’ll ask my deputy and other staff to answer as much as possible to your additional questions. Thank you.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; ?)

Well, there were some questions with regard to having consultations. Well, several or some members raised a question with regard to the possibility of having consultations with other groups, groups other than Ainu people. Now I’d like to respond to that. In formulating this the periodic report, in February 2006, through the website of the Ministry we asked for the submission of comments in written form, and in March 2006 targeting NGO groups we had an formal hearing, and in July 2006 and August 2007, we invited members of the community to organize a meeting to exchange views. In March 2006 there was an informal hearing as I mentioned. 16 NGO groups were represented and seven ministries were represented. And we had the opportunity of free discussion and exchange of views on the formulation of the periodic report. And in the first meeting in July 2007, about 60 people came to this meeting and also the seven ministries that were represented, and in the second meeting about 40 people attended and six government agencies were represented in that second meeting, therefore, through the website we asked for comments to be presented to us.

[DEBITO HERE:  I ATTENDED ONE OF THESE MOFA MEETINGS IN AUGUST 2007.  AS USUAL, IT WAS NOT AS THEY SAY TO THE UN.  SEE MY REPORT HERE.]

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Cabinet Secretariat)

The Cabinet Secretariat will respond. On the Ainu question, first of all, as to the membership of the Council for promoting the Ainu policy there are 14 members in total of which there are five Ainu people. Of the 14 of which two are the chief cabinet secretary and assistant to the prime minister so these two are politicians. So apart from those two politicians there’ll be 12, and of the 12, five are Ainu people. Now, under this Council there are two working groups. Of the six members, for both three are of Ainu people or representatives of the Ainu Association, so for the Council for the Promotion of Ainu Policy the 5 out of 12 – so there is not exactly parity – but we have five Ainu people participating. And the other members other than Ainu are academics who are well-versed on Ainu policies as well as representatives of the local governments in the districts where the Ainu people are residing. So____in fact, we will be able to duly hear the views of the Ainu people and the related persons. Next, on the indigenous people. Ainu people have been recognized as indigenous people. One thing is in Hokkaido in the Northern areas they are residing from the old times. The other factor is that Ainu language included there are distinct cultures and the traditions had been preserved and maintained by the Ainu people. So those are the factors in determining that they are to be recognized as indigenous people. Thank you.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)

Next, the Korean residents. The pension issues involving Korean residents. The Ministry of Health will respond. First of all, with regard to the pension scheme, there is no nationality clause, therefore, the ___ program covers foreign nationals as well. However, in the past, before 1981 there was a nationality clause in place, and in 1982 and nationality clause was terminated, and on that occasion this regulation is to be applied in the future. Therefore at that point in time, the foreign nationals or the Koreans with the age of 84 and those handicapped people at the age of 48, they were not covered in the national pension scheme. As a result of that, they are taking a hard time and that is____, therefore welfare services should be applied, provided to that population and based on the discussion at the Diet level we would like to continue to look into this matter.

Next, on Buraku people, and the interpretation of descent. As for the interpretation of descent, in relation to the interpretation of the language as to the content of the government periodic report some of the members have said that it is not necessarily a satisfactory answer being given. But what we would like to say is, in the review of the periodic report from the Japanese government on the Dowa__question, this is not a question of descent, or this is not the question to be handled by the ICERD. If we are taken that position that we would not be reporting because of the positions, but that is not our position. For the specific aspects during the review, we have been always trying to engage in a constructive manner for dialogue, and this is more important, so I hope that we can continue with such a dialogue going forward. In any case, for ICERD based upon the spirit as mentioned in the preamble of the ICERD for the Dowa question, any kind of discrimination including the Dowa discrimination should never happen; that is always our position. In relation to this the Ministry of Justice would like to respond to the question of the family register and the general measures vis-à-vis the Dowa people. Please.

Ms. Aono (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name Aono with the Ministry of Justice. And there was a reference to the revised family register law in my comment, and I skip the background information. Therefore I just would like to make an additional comment that may overlap what I have just mentioned. In 2007, before the revision of the family register law, the professional organizations transferred the documents they received onto third parties and there were some illegal acts involved in such illegal actions were reported. And in order to prevent such_____application and a request and for the protection of individual and personal information, and in order to respond to such a situation, the family registration law was revised. And the requirement for making requests was made stricter. Identification of the person requesting a person, and the stricter punishment was put into the law against those who violate the law. And in practice as well, the actions are taken so that this law can be carried out properly. And my colleague will make an additional comment.

Mr. Ogawa (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name is Ogawa from the Ministry of Justice. Mr. Diaconu and Mr. De Gouttes, I believe the intent of your questions are on the Dowa question that not necessarily the present measures may not be satisfactory or adequate enough that may be included in your questions so allow me to give some supplementary explanation. Earlier on, Ms. Shino from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already explained. Under the Ministry of Justice human rights organs for the human rights issues including the Dowa question for the human rights counseling as well as human rights encouragement we have taken remedial measures, relief measures. With that said, however, as for the measures of the government is not limited to these alone. In the list of questions paragraph 4, the government of Japan has given a response which alludes to the following. The Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, and other relevant ministries are competent in the different categories of administration and under their own competence various measures are undertaken. For example, earlier, Mr. Avtonomov has pointed out that for the employers, awareness of the Dowa question may be problematic. Now, at the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, for employment, in the employment screening done by the business corporations, the basic human rights of the applicants are being respected. And to prevent any discrimination over employment, the ability of the applicants are to be ____and the fair screening should be made for employment. And guidance and education are given to employers to make this a reality. Based upon the spirit as given in the preamble of the ICERD, for any discrimination including the Dowa question, in order to create a society without any discrimination is something that we are always striving to aim for. Thank you.

Mr. Otani (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

Next, the criminal procedure in relation to racially motivated acts. My name is Otani with the Ministry of Justice. Article 4 of the ICERD in relation to that racially motivated action there was some reference in the comments. With regard to that, as the official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs I mentioned, I just would like to make an additional comment for clarification from the viewpoint of the Ministry of Justice. As was captured in a statement given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, if the prime objective was motivated racially and the motive is considered malicious, therefore in the legal process, and if it is proved, in that case the judge, in the process of sentencing, will take that into consideration as an important factor. And such appropriate treatment is given in that regard. Thank you.

Lastly, to the question from Mr. Prosper, on the relationship with ICC and the genocide convention, unfortunately, we have come for the review of the ICERD, so we were not anticipating a satisfactory answer which would be fitting to such questions coming from their profound knowledge as held by the distinguished member, so I have to say that we have no knowledge over and above what we have already mentioned earlier. Thank you.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

As you know, my predecessor for ambassador for human rights was Mrs. Saiga, who became an ICC judge later on, but unfortunately she passed away, and succeeding her, a new lady judge from Japan is now in ICC…Ozaki-san, Ms. Ozaki is now in ICC.  You know, of course our sincere approach to this question.  Mr. Chairperson, thank you very much.  I think our side tried to answer questions raised by the members of the Committee so far as much as possible.  So this is…if I have something to say…I think I said so far, enough.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you very much for your responses and the fact that we have a little time is indicative of the to the point responses that the delegation gave us and I saw no evidence of filibustering or trying to drag the answers. So members had the opportunity to ask as many questions as they wished, and does somebody wish to speak, Madame Dah or Mr. De Gouttes? Mr. Lindgren, would you like to say something before I give the floor to our rapporteur for his preliminary summing up?

Mr. Lindgren

Thank you Mr. Chairman it’s just a point of clarification. Of course I appreciate very much all the replies that were given to us by the Japanese delegation. But my original doubt concerning the Burakumin still remains. What are the Burakumin. If they speak the same language, if they speak Japanese, if they don’t have religious origins, what makes them different from the average Japanese? This is just a question that I want to make. Thank you.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

There are no difference at all. No difference at all. They are us. Like us. I mean, we. We are the same. No difference at all. So you can’t identify. Unless you say I’m from Ile-de-France, I’m from Provence. And this he says.

Ms. Shino (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

I think this is something we mentioned in the previous examination that the Dowa policy, the council, came out with a report in 1965, and in that report the Dowa problems was the outcome of the class system that was borne out of the feudal system and it is a social problem. However, in recent years, with regard to the origin of the Buraku problems, there was a review of these problems being dated back to the Edo period, so it is rather difficult for us why the Buraku problem emerged, and who should be considered as a Burakumin or Buraku people. So the situation is very complicated, therefore, that was the comment that we made in the previous examination session, that we did not have more information that___provided to you at this point in time.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you for your responses. And I have two more requests from the floor. Mr. Diaconu, followed by Mr. De Gouttes.

Mr. Diaconu

Thank you Mr. Chairman. And I am sorry for taking the floor for the third time. I’m interested to know as much as possible and to see as much as possible progress from the part of the state party because Japan is a big country, is a developed country, and we are waiting from Japan a lot of positive developments in the Asian space and in the world as such. Now, our preoccupation in this committee and according to our convention is that each and every person is protected against racial discrimination. And each and every group is protected. And this is let’s say these are the words of our Convention.

Now, you are telling us that there are no difference between the Buraku and the others, but they say that there is a difference. They say to us and according to sources we have they say that they have a different culture and a different language. Let’s clarify this issue and the way to clarify this issue is through consultations with them, with their representatives. Mr. Ambassador, you are telling us that there is no difference between you and them. Looking at them you, cannot distinguish them, but it happens in many countries. You cannot distinguish them according to physical features to the way they look but when you look more precisely into their culture, into their language, into their traditions, you will find distinctions. We don’t want to create groups where there are no groups. We don’t want to defend dead cultures or dead languages. No. But we want to preserve whatever is of interest for a group for a significant group of people. And it seems there is a significant group of people which wants to preserve their culture and their traditions and their language. So this is important this is important for us, I think it should be important also for the country. It is your richness, it is part of your richness, as tradition, as culture, as history. This is our preoccupation, and I think that the lady from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs started giving us an interesting answer. She says the Buraku issue is a social problem. It comes from the feudal times. Okay. But that is what we want to hear about. It comes from the feudal times. Now, we want to know how much this social problem, coming from the caste system, has developed into an ethnic issue, into a differential group, culturally different group. How much remnants of that system of caste system are still in the Japanese society because if they are then you have to deal with them. And Japan has to deal with them under our convention. If this group is different you have to include it either as a minority group, either as an ethic group, or an indigenous group. You cannot say they do not exist. No, they are there. They are there, and they are citizens of Japan. So this is a comment that I wanted to make on this issue. This remains, I understand this remains an issue to be considered by the government and by ourselves, taking into account answers we could receive from the government on this issue, from all points of view, not only just, let’s see an interpretation of the text of article 1 and the travaux préparatoires, no. We want some data from the inside, from this group about this group of population. Thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Mr. De Gouttes (mistake?), I’d just like to mention there is a distinction between caste and ethnicity. You have one ethnicity and in that ethnicity there may be several castes. Mr. De Gouttes, you have…

Mr. De Gouttes

Thank you Chairman. I am a French expert but not of Provence origin. And I think the delegation did remind us that all countries have problems, specific issues affecting their populations, and that’s quite clear. I don’t think any country is exempt from questions and problems about its population. And I think that’s what’s so valuable in having this sort of forum, having an open direct dialogue which shows differences in approach between one delegation and our committee. But we are not judges. We’ve said this often. We’re a cooperation and dialogue body. What we hope to do through considering states parties reports is to see evolution, to see changes, progress made, with a view to ensuring full compliance with our convention, and I think that’s the benefit of a committee such as ours to have a dialogue to ensure compliance with our convention. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

My understanding of his Excellency’s intervention was that ethnically this group is Japanese, and this is the way I understood him, and in that spirit I took his intervention. So at this stage I would like to give the floor to our distinguished rapporteur who happens also to be… who has a very rich experience, he’s a scholar on indigenous people, so we can benefit from his summing up.

Mr. Thornberry

Thank you for kind words, chairman, and again I thank the delegation warmly for a generally interactive dialogue that you’ve provided a detailed account of your position in response to our many questions. And a large delegation came to visit the committee on this occasion which we are very grateful for. The remarks are personal. These are not necessarily shared by the whole committee though I will try to recall some of the consensus committee position on some matters. There was a huge range of issues raised.

And also in your responses today beginning with the question of the Ainu as an indigenous people which I think I said yesterday that recognition is the first step, there are many steps that must follow and certainly one of the key things in all of this process of engagement with indigenous rights and indeed with other groups is the question of participation and consultation.

The Okinawa situation was also raised and you’ve made your position very clear but nevertheless colleagues have proposed and urged a wider degree of consultation perhaps on this question without necessarily getting into technical arguments on description of status but certainly consultation with representatives would be welcome.

We had a lot of discussion on issues like education of minority groups and many issues were clarified, and discussions____of public schools and private schools. I must say that the public schools maybe we didn’t develop this point today, possibly demonstrate an insufficiently flexible curriculum in terms of ethnic diversity including for Japanese citizens, and this may of course encourage others to maintain systems outside the public school system. That’s just an impression that I have. But anyway, I think I’ve heard references today on the need for policy study and welcome this.

We’ve had discussions on education, Internet questions, article 4, the names issue, refugees, the question of the law on racial discrimination, and issues to deal with our convention including article 14 and amendment article 8. Those are just some of the issues.

And also the very interesting question raised by Mr. Prosper on the relationship between the Genocide Convention and the statute of the International Criminal Court. I did flag that one up yesterday but did not develop it as Mr. Prosper has done so very interestingly today.

These are the kind of things that will figure, I can’t speak for the committee in advance, but we will have to draw up our concluding observations on the basis of issues raised.

We have a certain broad agreement in some respects, including the importance of eliminating racial discrimination as far as humanly possible, and the importance of education against discrimination in this. We’ve had agreement also on the status of the Ainu, on the spirit of the convention, and I noticed a certain direction of movement as regards national human rights institution.

But certainly there are areas that the committee would probably recommend for further reflection. On the Buraku question, for example, we note your willingness to transcend the rather technical argument about the interpretation of the term descent in light of the spirit of the convention. We may not be in a position to agree on the interpretative matter, but we have our own position on that which has been developed in the committee over many years and is indeed acceptable to most states.

The nature of human rights education is something that perhaps we welcome the importance you give to education. We wonder sometimes and certainly I wonder if it has an adequate diversity component to what extent it includes the rights of specific groups. I’m not raising a whole lot of new questions now it’s just something that occurred to me.

It looks like we’re going to maintain respective differences on reservations, though the committee always invites states to seriously examine whether a reservation is needed and if possible minimize its scope or eliminate it. We note nevertheless that on issues like voting rights for foreigners, that certain matters are in progress. We disagree on this business about a law on racial discrimination, basically I think because you do not see a current necessity here, I’ll come to that in a moment, so we diverge I think even on issues to do with the names question and registration registers, we diverge on many issues.

But nevertheless, on some of the broader matters, there is at least a convergence of spirit if not necessarily in all of the details. In the committee’s view, the convention is something that has a fairly long reach, it reaches down, and this makes it difficult for states parties as I said yesterday it’s not simply about the state administration. It goes down to responsibility for the acts of persons, groups, and organizations and reaches deep down into social mores, including the conduct of private persons, and the committee has always insisted strongly that laws as such are not enough and there must be implementation to fulfill the obligations properly under the convention.

As colleagues have intimated I think very clearly there has always been care and concern for particular vulnerable groups, and although the convention does not use the term minority or indigenous people, inevitably, these are the groups that we have been concerned with a great deal because they are the natural focus of oppression. Majority populations or mainstream populations don’t necessarily have the need for the kinds of protection that minorities have, although in some cases there are issues about a majorities which have come before the committee.

And I think we always hope to unblock situations, to assist the state party to open thinking a little on these matters and discourage too much rigidity of positions based perhaps on legal considerations which might regard any intrusion of international standards as a kind of intrusion into domestic affairs. I think that kind of position, it is an exercise of sovereignty to ratify a convention like this, and it is not in any way a diminution of sovereignty and one would always hope state-by-state for a greater and broader embracing of letter and spirit of international norms bearing in mind the duty of this committee also which in a sense acts as a kind of ____of states and always has done to avoid the situation where states themselves get into mutual criticism so that is how I see the function of a committee like this.

The committee has taken very clear positions over the years I think I can at least say that on structural and substantial questions on respectful diversity of situations. Sometimes we are presented with a rather homogenizing approach for example to the idea of equality, but if there are different situations being treated by the same norm as it were, that’s not equality that’s inequality. One always has to have respect for history, tradition, culture, vulnerability, which makes a simple uniform application of norms not always appropriate, though of course we should always be aware of our commonalities as well as issues of diversity. We deal a lot with groups, and we privilege the notion of self definition. We argue for the need for laws against racial discrimination. We argue for control within the parameters of the convention of hate speech, we argue the need for remedies, and we argue the need for education which I think the state party clearly shares.

Education of groups including cultural and linguistic dimensions. Education, I think as Mr. Diaconu said yesterday, of the general population in matters to do with racial discrimination and tolerance and education of officials including those in this case perhaps in most regular contact in one way or another with non-Japanese. Now this is a large program for states, and of course we will look at evidence of responses when we come to your next report we will shorten the time lag I think by suggesting three or four issues for rather immediate follow-up.

If I can just give a couple of very broad points to conclude with, in the drafting of the convention, it was fairly clear and I have studied the travaux of the convention fairly extensively, there was a widespread feeling that racial discrimination applied only in a few places in the world. That it was not in fact a global phenomenon and truthfully it may also be the case that many states signed up to it on the supposition that it was never really going to affect them domestically. It would always be a matter of foreign policy. But I think the committee has demonstrated over the years that it is a global issue. It affects all states, of course in its details it has nuances of difference, but I think one of the functions of this committee and the convention is to see the commonalities so that we can actually see in what way the issues relate to the international norms and make appropriate recommendations on that basis.

Going back to what I said yesterday, and your response, I feel sometimes that if the international community had accepted the Japanese__at the time of the League of Nations we might have got to this realization a little bit earlier than we did… it’s a fairly recent understanding.

And in responding to the convention, just to conclude, that a number of steps, first of all, I think that awareness raising is very very important.

And a number of your responses today make the point that law is not needed in current circumstances. I think my immediate worry about that is that your information and statistical base in particular may not be entirely adequate to support that proposition. And I certainly think that the civil society will make its point clear, but that more study is required.

Education is also important and you have stressed education greatly, but again, if I may go back to the drafting of the convention, a number of countries insisted very strongly that education was the way forward. Others were equally determined to show that education itself was excellent but not enough and that the passing of laws itself has an educative value for the population. So following awareness raising then we get to re-organization in some cases quite drastic and basic legal structures and then to implementation in good faith of the convention.

All we can do a conclusion as to hope that the convention and the committee can assist in consolidation of process and direction and be a channel through which the good intentions of the state can flow. Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Thornberry. We have come to the end of our discussion, a most interesting discussion it was, on Japan, and I think we have learned from each other and the future generation is here with us and I’m sure that under their leadership in the years to come, we will make greater progress in understanding each other and this exchange will lead all of you to reflect on the great diversity in our world and yet the similarity that we are all humans and we all originated, they now tell us – the scientists – we originated from a very small region of Africa and spread all over the world, I found it difficult to believe but after I read about it in depth, I realized this is a fact, a scientific fact, so thank you very much, and Excellency, and thank you Mr. Rapporteur of course for your excellent summing up, and distinguished members for your rich questions. Excellency, I think if you would like to say something at this stage, I would like to give you the floor.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, on behalf of the Japanese delegation I express sincere appreciation to your support and your very constructive comments. We will try to of course wait your final comment but in the meantime we will of course study and learn what you have said this occasion and of course if possible, we will try to take up your recommendations and try to sort of proceed farther to the future.

Taking this opportunity also, I’d like to express our appreciation to our NGO groups who attended, I mean who are present here, from Japan, together with as was explained by Ms. Shino, government side also of course appreciate their contribution, and we had a constructive consultations back home and we will have also continue this kind of consultations, exchange of views back home for the better implementation of this convention.

Once again, I’d like to express our sincere appreciation to all members of the committee and also the Secretariat staff who helped us very much.

And of course the interpreters who did a great job and also there are Japanese press present, and I think they will cover our activity to Japan and not only to Japan, but to all over the world, how we are working rigorously and how we are sort of effectively exchanged views.

In conclusion, I personally had a very good sort of a learning during this session. Thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you, Excellency Ueda, and that brings us to the conclusion of the session. Thank you very much, and to the delegation of Japan, those of you who are going across the ocean, I wish you a safe and happy journey and maybe we will see you at some later session. This meeting is concluded.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you very much.


[1]

Committee members:

Nourredine Amir (Algeria); Alexei Avtonomov (Russian Federation); Jose Francisco Cali Tzay (Guatemala); Anastasia Crickley (Ireland); Fatima-Binta Victoire Dah (Burkina Faso); Régis de Gouttes (France); Ion Diaconu (Romania); Kokou Mawuena Ika Kana (Dieudonné) Ewomsan (Togo); Huang Yong’an (China); Anwar Kemal (Pakistan) (Chairperson); Dilip Lahiri (India); Gün Kut (Turkey); José Augusto Lindgren Alves (Brazil); Pastor Elias Murillo Martinez (Colombia); Chris Maina Peter (Tanzania); Pierre-Richard Prosper (United States); Walilakoye Saidou (Niger); and Patrick Thornberry (United Kingdom)

Japanese government delegation members:

Hideaki Ueda (Ambassador in charge of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, MOFA); Kenichi Suganuma (Ambassador, Permanent Mission to Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva); Kazumi Akiyama (Councilor, Comprehensive Ainu Policy Department, Cabinet Secretariat); Akira Honda (Official, Comprehensive Ainu Policy Department, Cabinet Secretariat); Yumi Aono (Director, Office of International Affiars, Secretarial Division, MOJ); Junichiro Otani (Attorney, Criminal Affairs Bureau, MOF); Akira Ogawa (Human Rights Bureau, MOJ); Yukinori Ehara (Assistant to the Director, Human Rights Promotion Division, Human Rights Bureau, MOJ); Naomi Hirota (Section Chief, Office of International Affairs, Secretarial Division, MOJ); Yuki Yamaguchi (Official, International Affairs Division, Criminal Affairs Bureau, MOJ); Mitsuko Shino (Director, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division, Foreign Policy Bureau, MOFA); Junko Irie (Attorney, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division, Foreign Policy Bureau, MOFA); Shiho Yoshioka (Researcher, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division, Foreign Policy Bureau, MOFA); Kanako Konishi (Official, International Affairs Division, MEXT); Junya Hoshida (Deputy Director, International Affairs Division, Minister’s Secretariat, MHLW); Akio Isomata (Minister, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva); Yuji Yamamoto (Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva); Akira Matsumoto (First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva); Mirai Maruo (Attache, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva)

UNHCHR CERD Recommendation 30 (2004): UN says Non-citizens equally protected under treaty and domestic law as citizens

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 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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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UNITED NATIONS

General Recommendation No.30: Discrimination Against Non Citizens : . 01/10/2004.
Gen. Rec. No. 30. (General Comments)

Convention Abbreviation: CERD
General Recommendation XXX
Discrimination Against Non Citizens

http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/0/e3980a673769e229c1256f8d0057cd3d?Opendocument

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,

Recalling the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, according to which all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and are entitled to the rights and freedoms enshrined therein without distinction of any kind, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,

Recalling the Durban Declaration in which the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, recognized that xenophobia against non-nationals, particularly migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, constitutes one of the main sources of contemporary racism and that human rights violations against members of such groups occur widely in the context of discriminatory, xenophobic and racist practices,

Noting that, based on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and general recommendations XI and XX, it has become evident from the examination of the reports of States parties to the Convention that groups other than migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers are also of concern, including undocumented non-citizens and persons who cannot establish the nationality of the State on whose territory they live, even where such persons have lived all their lives on the same territory,

Having organized a thematic discussion on the issue of discrimination against non-citizens and received the contributions of members of the Committee and States parties, as well as contributions from experts of other United Nations organs and specialized agencies and from non-governmental organizations,

Recognizing the need to clarify the responsibilities of States parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination with regard to non-citizens,

Basing its action on the provisions of the Convention, in particular article 5, which requires States parties to prohibit and eliminate discrimination based on race, colour, descent, and national or ethnic origin in the enjoyment by all persons of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and freedoms,

Affirms that:

I. Responsibilities of States parties to the Convention

1. Article 1, paragraph 1, of the Convention defines racial discrimination. Article 1, paragraph 2 provides for the possibility of differentiating between citizens and non-citizens. Article 1, paragraph 3 declares that, concerning nationality, citizenship or naturalization, the legal provisions of States parties must not discriminate against any particular nationality;

2. Article 1, paragraph 2, must be construed so as to avoid undermining the basic prohibition of discrimination; hence, it should not be interpreted to detract in any way from the rights and freedoms recognized and enunciated in particular in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

3. Article 5 of the Convention incorporates the obligation of States parties to prohibit and eliminate racial discrimination in the enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Although some of these rights, such as the right to participate in elections, to vote and to stand for election, may be confined to citizens, human rights are, in principle, to be enjoyed by all persons. States parties are under an obligation to guarantee equality between citizens and non-citizens in the enjoyment of these rights to the extent recognized under international law;

4. Under the Convention, differential treatment based on citizenship or immigration status will constitute discrimination if the criteria for such differentiation, judged in the light of the objectives and purposes of the Convention, are not applied pursuant to a legitimate aim, and are not proportional to the achievement of this aim. Differentiation within the scope of article 1, paragraph 4, of the Convention relating to special measures is not considered discriminatory;

5. States parties are under an obligation to report fully upon legislation on non-citizens and its implementation. Furthermore, States parties should include in their periodic reports, in an appropriate form, socio-economic data on the non-citizen population within their jurisdiction, including data disaggregated by gender and national or ethnic origin;

Recommends,

Based on these general principles, that the States parties to the Convention, as appropriate to their specific circumstances, adopt the following measures:

II. Measures of a general nature

6. Review and revise legislation, as appropriate, in order to guarantee that such legislation is in full compliance with the Convention, in particular regarding the effective enjoyment of the rights mentioned in article 5, without discrimination;

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;

8. Pay greater attention to the issue of multiple discrimination faced by non-citizens, in particular concerning the children and spouses of non-citizen workers, to refrain from applying different standards of treatment to female non-citizen spouses of citizens and male non-citizen spouses of citizens, to report on any such practices and to take all necessary steps to address them;

9. Ensure that immigration policies do not have the effect of discriminating against persons on the basis of race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin;

10. Ensure that any measures taken in the fight against terrorism do not discriminate, in purpose or effect, on the grounds of race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin and that non-citizens are not subjected to racial or ethnic profiling or stereotyping;

III. Protection against hate speech and racial violence

11. Take steps to address xenophobic attitudes and behaviour towards non-citizens, in particular hate speech and racial violence, and to promote a better understanding of the principle of non-discrimination in respect of the situation of non-citizens;

12. Take resolute action to counter any tendency to target, stigmatize, stereotype or profile, on the basis of race, colour, descent, and national or ethnic origin, members of “non-citizen” population groups, especially by politicians, officials, educators and the media, on the Internet and other electronic communications networks and in society at large;

IV. Access to citizenship

13. Ensure that particular groups of non-citizens are not discriminated against with regard to access to citizenship or naturalization, and to pay due attention to possible barriers to naturalization that may exist for long-term or permanent residents;

14. Recognize that deprivation of citizenship on the basis of race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin is a breach of States parties’ obligations to ensure non-discriminatory enjoyment of the right to nationality;

15. Take into consideration that in some cases denial of citizenship for long-term or permanent residents could result in creating disadvantage for them in access to employment and social benefits, in violation of the Convention’s anti-discrimination principles;

16. Reduce statelessness, in particular statelessness among children, by, for example, encouraging their parents to apply for citizenship on their behalf and allowing both parents to transmit their citizenship to their children;

17. Regularize the status of former citizens of predecessor States who now reside within the jurisdiction of the State party;

V. Administration of justice

18. Ensure that non-citizens enjoy equal protection and recognition before the law and in this context, to take action against racially motivated violence and to ensure the access of victims to effective legal remedies and the right to seek just and adequate reparation for any damage suffered as a result of such violence;
19. Ensure the security of non-citizens, in particular with regard to arbitrary detention, as well as ensure that conditions in centres for refugees and asylum-seekers meet international standards;

20. Ensure that non-citizens detained or arrested in the fight against terrorism are properly protected by domestic law that complies with international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law;

21. Combat ill-treatment of and discrimination against non-citizens by police and other law enforcement agencies and civil servants by strictly applying relevant legislation and regulations providing for sanctions and by ensuring that all officials dealing with non-citizens receive special training, including training in human rights;

22. Introduce in criminal law the provision that committing an offence with racist motivation or aim constitutes an aggravating circumstance allowing for a more severe punishment;

23. Ensure that claims of racial discrimination brought by non-citizens are investigated thoroughly and that claims made against officials, notably those concerning discriminatory or racist behaviour, are subject to independent and effective scrutiny;

24. Regulate the burden of proof in civil proceedings involving discrimination based on race, colour, descent, and national or ethnic origin so that once a non-citizen has established a prima facie case that he or she has been a victim of such discrimination, it shall be for the respondent to provide evidence of an objective and reasonable justification for the differential treatment;

VI. Expulsion and deportation of non-citizens

25. Ensure that laws concerning deportation or other forms of removal of non-citizens from the jurisdiction of the State party do not discriminate in purpose or effect among non-citizens on the basis of race, colour or ethnic or national origin, and that non-citizens have equal access to effective remedies, including the right to challenge expulsion orders, and are allowed effectively to pursue such remedies;
26. Ensure that non-citizens are not subject to collective expulsion, in particular in situations where there are insufficient guarantees that the personal circumstances of each of the persons concerned have been taken into account;

27. Ensure that non-citizens are not returned or removed to a country or territory where they are at risk of being subject to serious human rights abuses, including torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

28. Avoid expulsions of non-citizens, especially of long-term residents, that would result in disproportionate interference with the right to family life;

VII. Economic, social and cultural rights

29. Remove obstacles that prevent the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights by non-citizens, notably in the areas of education, housing, employment and health;
30. Ensure that public educational institutions are open to non-citizens and children of undocumented immigrants residing in the territory of a State party;

31. Avoid segregated schooling and different standards of treatment being applied to non-citizens on grounds of race, colour, descent, and national or ethnic origin in elementary and secondary school and with respect to access to higher education;

32. Guarantee the equal enjoyment of the right to adequate housing for citizens and non-citizens, especially by avoiding segregation in housing and ensuring that housing agencies refrain from engaging in discriminatory practices;

33. Take measures to eliminate discrimination against non-citizens in relation to working conditions and work requirements, including employment rules and practices with discriminatory purposes or effects;

34. Take effective measures to prevent and redress the serious problems commonly faced by non-citizen workers, in particular by non-citizen domestic workers, including debt bondage, passport retention, illegal confinement, rape and physical assault;

35. Recognize that, while States parties may refuse to offer jobs to non-citizens without a work permit, all individuals are entitled to the enjoyment of labour and employment rights, including the freedom of assembly and association, once an employment relationship has been initiated until it is terminated;

36. Ensure that States parties respect the right of non-citizens to an adequate standard of physical and mental health by, inter alia, refraining from denying or limiting their access to preventive, curative and palliative health services;

37. Take 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;

38. Ensure the right of non-citizens, without discrimination based on race, colour, descent, and national or ethnic origin, to have access to any place or service intended for use by the general public, such as transport, hotels, restaurants, cafés, theatres and parks;

39. The present general recommendation replaces general recommendation XI (1993).

©1996-2001
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Geneva, Switzerland

ENDS

Newsweek column: “Toyota and the End of Japan”

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.  A bit of a tangent, but not really.  Newsweek observes Japan’s future (playing I assume on the academic-circles buzzword “the End of History”, by Francis Fukuyama, which always caused confusion; it threatens to do the same here) in terms of Toyota’s current missteps.  I’ll keep my comments until afterwards.  Read on:

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Toyota and the End of Japan
By Devin Stewart | NEWSWEEK
Published Mar 5, 2010
From the magazine issue dated Mar 15, 2010, Courtesy Club of 99

http://www.newsweek.com/id/234574

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.”

There was some sign of slippage even before the Toyota recalls. Many other top Japanese manufacturing brands lost their made-in-Japan luster, says Michael J. Smitka, an economist who specializes in the Japanese auto sector. Sanyo is gone, its pieces sold off in a restructuring. Toshiba and Fujitsu also are reorganizing. Sony is as much a Hollywood hitmaker as a Japanese manufacturer, and Mitsubishi Motors, Mazda, and Nissan have all had tie-ups with foreign companies through the years. In the early part of the last decade, particularly under the maverick administration of celebrity prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, Japan made fleeting attempts to promote itself as the land of the new new thing: nano-this, bio-that. Nothing stuck. There is still no Japanese Google.

So Toyota remained special, the largest and virtually the last remaining face of Japanese manufacturing and trading prowess. With $263 billion in sales last year it remains Japan’s biggest company by far and the world’s largest auto manufacturer. But the recall has now exposed problems there, too. Like many Japanese companies, even global ones, it has suffered from an insularity and parochialism, and a hierarchical structure that discouraged innovation or input from others. Robert Dujarric of Temple University–Japan says that most of the core management team is Japanese, and the company’s suppliers are part of Toyota’s vertical structure, limiting contact with outsiders. The public-relations response has been plagued by Japanese cultural tendencies to dodge controversy and conflict, even to the point of denying glaringly dangerous problems, like sticking accelerating pedals.

In many ways, Toyota is symptomatic of a nation that has lost its way. According to a 2008 Pew survey, Japanese were more dissatisfied with the direction of their country than almost any other nation, including Pakistan and Russia. As a result, the Japanese electorate in August 2009 threw out the old guard Liberal Democratic Party after a half century of nearly unbroken rule. The new government, led by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, promised change—a “revolution,” even. Hatoyama talked about Japan taking a larger role in the world, but it was telling that his first big international splash was on a local issue: urging the U.S. to shrink its military base on Okinawa. In his first six months, Hatoyama’s approval ratings have plummeted from 75 percent to 37 percent. An Ipsos/Reuters poll in February showed that just 14 percent of Japanese were confident that their country is headed in the right direction, the lowest level of confidence in any of the 23 countries surveyed. For many, the Toyota debacle suggested a further step in the wrong direction. “Toyota represents Japan all over the world in terms of Japanese culture and Japanese economy,” says Masayoshi Arai, a special adviser to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. “We are proud of Toyota, so this story has damaged our pride.”

Toyota’s fall from grace caps a 20-year economic malaise that is infecting the popular culture, manifesting itself in a preference for staying home, avoiding risk, and removing oneself from the hierarchical system. A generation of people in their 30s and 40s—the prime working and family-raising years—are said to be unwilling to take any risk, no matter how small. Sugomori (nesting) people spend their days seeking bargains online. With wages declining, soshoku-kei danshi (grass-eating men) avoid going out or trying to find a career for themselves. According to some surveys, this generation has reported preferences for avoiding cars, motorcycles, and even spicy food. Entrepreneurship is seen as an unpromising career prospect. Estimates of the number of hikikomori (shut-ins who have given up on social life) have risen. Japanese psychologist Tamaki Saito, the foremost authority on the trend, speculated in 1998 that the number of such Japanese could be 1 million; last month authorities said it may be as high as 3.6 million. The country’s suicide rate—more than 30,000 per year for 12 years—is double that of the United States and second only to Russia among the G8 nations, and getting worse.

This all has dire economic effects. Low birth rates and out-migration patterns mean the country’s population is predicted to fall from 127 million to 95 million by 2050, creating unparalleled demographic pressures. A shrinking, bargain-hunting, risk-averse population translates into a deflationary spiral, low wage growth, and decreased tax revenues. Japan’s debt is now more than twice GDP, by far the highest rate of any industrialized nation. In a March piece entitled “Japan’s Slow-Motion Crisis,” Kenneth Rogoff, the former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, wrote that Japan was “a poster child for economic stagnation,” noting its “legendary” inefficiencies in agriculture, retail, and government. His conclusion: Japan’s fiscal situation grows more alarming by the day. The stock market stands at a quarter of its 1989 high, and now Toyota’s stock has fallen 20 percent since the recalls began.

The optimistic view is that Toyota’s travails will spur Japan, finally, to become less insular and more open to new ideas. Initially, many in Japan denied the problem, called the controversy an American overreaction, and concocted conspiracy theories about the U.S. government or unions sabotaging Toyota cars to boost sales of the government-supported General Motors. Now, however, the Hatoyama administration is moving to push change on Toyota in ways its business-friendly predecessors in the LDP never would have, says Jeff Kingston, a professor of Asian studies at Temple University–Japan. Transport Minister Seiji Maehara has “not missed a chance to berate Toyota,” accusing it of failing to listen to customer complaints, says Kingston. The mainstream media have also taken off the gloves, he notes, with some of the biggest newspapers saying that Toyota has embarrassed Japan in the world, and that Toyota must regain the trust of its customers.

The less rosy scenario is that Japan will respond to this humiliation by retreating deeper into its shell. Since Koizumi’s term ended in September 2006, three prime ministers have had to step down within a year. The elite now understands the problems Japan faces, but the cultural shift required to confront them may just be too great, says Edward Lincoln, a New York University Japan scholar. Rather than, for example, competing with China for the leadership role in Asia, it is quite likely that the Japanese will cede that ground while feeling sorry for themselves, says Lincoln. In other words, Japan will continue to give up, fade away, and blame its limitations on demographics and the changing international balance of power. In this bleak view, the Japanese will return to their mantra of shoganai (nothing can be done). Indeed, it seems that Japan’s long decline may not be accelerating, but the prevailing sentiment is that nothing can be done to apply the brakes.

Stewart is Program Director and Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.
ENDS

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  I think the article is focussing overmuch on the symbolism of one company and one economic sector representing economic superpowerdom (imagine if people were to talk about the faltering of GM and make the case that America was coming to an end as we know it).  Granted, I think Japan is in relative regional decline (as I think America is in relative world decline; but that was inevitable as other countries get rich and develop).  Sorry to sound like a “State of the Union” speech, but I think Japan’s fundamentals are at the moment still relatively strong.

Moreover, seeing the world from the view of capitalism’s obsessive need for perpetual growth is bound to cause a degree of disappointment, as economies mature (or in Japan’s case, age) and offer diminishing marginal returns, while growing economies appear ascendant.  Whether that becomes “triumphalism” (if not a bit of schadenfreude, for those with long memories of having to eat crow during Japan’s seemingly-invulnerable Bubble Years) depends on your columnist.

I do agree that Japan is retreating into a shell, however, but I’m not sure which is worse — the racially-based arrogance we saw in Japan during the bubble years, or the racially-based defensiveness we see now.

PS:  At least can we learn, after all these years, how to properly transliterate “shiyou ga nai”?!?

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

ENDS

Weekend Tangent: China Daily publishes snotty anti-laowai article

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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DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  Turning over the keyboard to Debito.org Reader R for commentary about some pretty nasty (and repetitive:  how many ways can we say “you don’t get it”, and “you don’t belong here” in a single essay?) anti-foreigner media published in a major English-language daily in China for a comparison.  And I thought 2-Channel was bad.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Subject: “gaijin” discrimination in China
Date: January 18, 2010

Dear Debito, I am a regular reader of your blog, even though I do not usually participate or leave comments.

I am quite interested in your work about discrimination in Japan (where I currently live) ; I also keep an eye on what happens in China (I was living there before).

I found this article in China Daily online the other day (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/life/2010-01/12/content_9304769.htm).

When I was reading it I was thinking 2 things :

– 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 ?

[Ed: Yes I can. I’m thinking something like Amy Chavez and Japan Lite. Although in the case I will cite I think if it more as failed sarcasm than borderline hatred. Both are snotty and asinine, however.]

– 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… Best regards, R

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

Dear laowai, don’t mess with our Chinese-ness
By Huang Hung (China Daily) 2010-01-12

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/life/2010-01/12/content_9304769.htm

Now, listen up, you foreigner boys and girls, Chinese New Year is around the corner and I want to talk to you seriously about fireworks.

I saw this picture in a newspaper, where a smiling, cordial Chinese girl (rather pretty as well) was explaining the tradition of lighting fireworks to a group of foreign guys. They all looked very happy.

I will let you know that is false information. Fireworks are no small matter, and no laughing matter either. So wipe that smirk off your face and listen up.

As a Chinese, I want to be honest with you. For the past 30 years, we have opened up to the West, and welcomed foreigners like yourselves to come here to do business, to make money, even gave you some easy credit to let you buy real estate, marry our women, whatever. But this does not make you Chinese. There are things we reserve for ourselves, and it really doesn’t matter how long you have been here, just don’t assume you can be one of us, and don’t touch the following three things:

CHICKEN FEET,

SEA CUCUMBERS

AND FIRECRACKERS!

Most of you are well trained enough to withhold your chopsticks, whichever way you are holding them, and stay away from the chicken feet at Chinese dim sum restaurants. But some of you are show-offs. Most of the time, you are trying to prove to your Chinese girlfriend’s parents that you are so Chinese. “Look, I am eating chicken feet. Mmm … Good!”

Don’t do that. We really get annoyed when foreigners try to chomp on chicken feet. Sometimes, you are so polite, you don’t spit out the bones, you chew them and try to swallow them. That’s totally unacceptable. Because, when you do that, most Chinese start getting anxious about you choking to death on the damn chicken bones. And it is very difficult to enjoy dim sum when you are anxious.

Sea cucumbers are not for you either. Most of you are rather intimidated by slimy sea things – jelly fish, sea cucumbers. But, there are those of you who are so brave that you insist on trying it, and pretend to enjoy it. Most of the time, you are a foreign businessman, you don’t want to offend your Chinese host by not eating the most expensive dish ordered.

I’ve got some news for you. Guess what? He didn’t order it for you! He ordered it for the Chinese at the table! Do you know how difficult it is to soak the sea cucumber so it acquires the right slimy texture? No one can master it in his own kitchen. Only the restaurants can. So stop trying to pick up the sea cucumber with your chopsticks, it will probably end up in your lap anyway. Just politely put the untouched dish back on the lazy susan. We are not impressed by sea cucumber chivalry.

Now fireworks. It is strictly, strictly for us Chinese. We really don’t want you anywhere near fireworks. First of all, it is dangerous. You don’t understand why 1.4 billion people have to turn into pyromaniacs for one night. It’s totally beyond your comprehension. But we love it; we have been setting off these things since we were three and for 5,000 years. So let me just say that fireworks are not for barbarians like you. You don’t get it. On the other hand, we Chinese have great tolerance for fireworks; it’s one night when you can do some damage and get away with it. For example, you can burn a building down, a brand new building, with stuff in it. How can you comprehend that level of generosity?

And, don’t you dare try to do the same, we simply have no tolerance for it. You try to burn a building down, we will kill you, because, you were probably high, and we really don’t give a hoot whether you are mentally disturbed or whether your prime minister is going to make endless harassing phone calls.

So, you better be good, you better be nice, because firecrackers are coming to town!

(Huang Hung is an opinionator on arts, lifestyle and showbiz.)

[Ed:  And [comes off as] a nationalistic asshole.]

ENDS

Weekend Tangent: 2-Channel BBS downed by Korean cyberhackers

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. 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. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Japan’s top web forum hacked over skater
Korean hackers take down site after comments against skater Kim Yu-Na
NBC Olympics.com: Mar 2, 2010, courtesy of N

http://www.nbcolympics.com/news-features/news/newsid=454102.html?__source=msnhomepage&cid=

TOKYO — Japan’s top Internet forum 2channel was offline Tuesday after an apparent mass hacker attack from South Korea over slanderous comments on their Olympic figure skating queen Kim Yu-Na.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that more than 10,000 users had launched a “concerted cyber offensive” and coordinated their attacks through web communities since Monday against the popular site www.2ch.net.

The site, launched in 1999, allows users to post comments on hundreds of topics, from politics and sports to entertainment and manga cartoons, without providing a user name, a model meant to boost online freedom of speech.

But the site has repeatedly become a forum for right-wing nationalists and users posting xenophobic slurs, especially against South Korea and China.

The 2ch forum is Japan’s largest online bulletin board by number of users and page views, according to Internet research firm NetRatings Japan.

The site was not accessible on Tuesday, but its search lists showed Japanese-language attacks had earlier been posted against Kim, who beat Japanese rival Mao Asada to take gold at the Vancouver Winter Games.

South Korea’s JoongAng Daily reported online that the cyber war was launched on Monday, the anniversary of a 1919 uprising against Japanese colonial rule that became known as the March First Movement.

South Koreans have often been angered by comments on the messaging forum, including one that called a deadly attack against a South Korean college student in February in Irkutsk “Russia’s good deed”, Yonhap reported.

The 2ch forum has often drawn controversy at home as some of its anonymous users have posted death threats and verbal attacks against high-profile figures that have led to legal action against the site’s operators.

ENDS

DEBITO’S MARCH TOUR: Tokyo-Sendai-Shiga Schedule March 19 to April 3

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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DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog. I will be on the road interning at the JAPAN IMMIGRATION POLICY INSTITUTE (JIPI — Sakanaka-san’s group), hosting/helping with NGO FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association) meetings, and doing speeches here and there. If you are in the area and have time, do stop by or get in touch (debito@debito.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.

Basic schedule as follows:

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

This schedule may change, and I will update it here, so check back from time to time.  The UN Special Rapporteur Jorge Bustamante will be in town (dates TBD), so I may be making our case to him as well.

NOTES ON EVENTS:

SUNDAY MAR 21

Sendai FRANCA Third Meeting
Location: AER Building El Solar 28F Meeting Room 1
Sunday, 21 March 10 @ 13:30 Ends 16:30

Come along to our third meeting and talk about issues relevant to Sendai FRANCA. We will be looking at recent events and planning for the future, including the possibility of a lawsuit against the Sumo Association for its new rule counting naturalized citizens as “foreign wrestlers” for their stable limitations. Cost: FREE (suggested donation 200 yen)

SATURDAY MAR 27

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

Topics: Membership, Why FRANCA?, and perhaps what to do about the recent Sumo Association rules that say that naturalized sumo wrestlers are also to be counted as the one “foreign” wrestler allowed in sumo stables. More on that here:http://www.debito.org/?p=6085

THURS MAR 25 is my annual guest lecture at Shiga University on issues of discrimination and assimilation.  Starts 1PM.  More details Dr Robert Aspinall at aspinall_robert AT hotmail DOT com.

MON MAR 29 JIPI SPEECH IN JAPANESE

■日時: 2010年3月29日(月)19時~21時(予定)

■会場: 港区勤労福祉会館 第一集会室

■講師: 有道出人 (あるどう でびと)

■テーマ: 「移民の必要性―あるべき姿」

■アクセス: 都営地下鉄A7出口より徒歩1分/JR田町駅西口(三田口)より徒歩5分

主催:一般社団法人移民政策研究所所長(JIPI)

Again, I’m happy to give more speeches (I’m doing this entire trip on my own dime), so let me know (debito@debito.org) if there is anyone else out there who wants to hear what I have to say.  Thanks.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Freechoice.jp: MOJ removes “health insurance” as guideline for visas

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.  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.  Courtesy of Aly.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

On 2010/03/03, at 16:34, “Free Choice” wrote:

Good news! We petitioned against the Immigration Bureau guideline linking social insurance to visa renewal – and we’ve won! The fruits of our labors together have been realized. Guideline No. 8 has been officially deleted as of today, March 3, 2010. The newly revised (showing seven instead of the present eight) guidelines is now posted on the Ministry of Justice’s website.

While the Immigration Bureau will continue to require non-permanent residents to present an insurance card at the visa application window, not doing so will cause no negative effect whatsoever upon an individual’s visa renewal. (The guideline never applied to permanent residents; as previously, they are not required to present an insurance card at all.) Although Immigration will encourage enrollment in Japan’s social system by distributing brochures, individual offices and officers are “forbidden” to pressure anyone to join. In fact, the new guidelines state clearly that “enrollment in the social system will in no way be tied to visa renewal.” Additionally, the Ministry of Justice will set up a new hotline to field complaints from visa applicants who feel that they were in any way pressured or coerced to enroll.

The Japan Times, Daily Yomiuri, and other media have yet to report that the guideline ‘was’ (past tense) deleted. It would seem that Free Choice has the jump on the news – again. That’s because, due to your invaluable support, we ARE the news! The foreign community united together in standing up to the bureaucracy and our voices were heard. We at the Free Choice Foundation would once again like to express our heartfelt thanks to you for your participation in this important issue.

For further information please visit the Free Choice website:

http://www.freechoice.jp/

To download the new guidelines, please go here:

http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan70.pdf

As you can see, No. 8 is gone!

Kindest regards,
Ronald Kessler, Chairman
The Free Choice Foundation

P.S.: Please feel free to forward this email to any family or friends that may have an interest in this breaking news.

ENDS

DPJ backs down from suffrage bill for NJ Permanent Residents, as “postponement”. Hah.

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.  Now here’s a disappointment.  Looks like the DPJ caved in with all the pressure (and outright xenophobia and nastiness) from the opposition regarding local suffrage for NJ PRs.  Admittedly, the DPJ didn’t do much of a job justifying the bill to the public.  And where were people like DPJ Dietmember Tsurunen going to bat for the policy, for Pete’s sake?  Disappointing.  Not just because of course Debito.org is in support of the measure (reasons why here), but also because it’s one more clear failure in the DPJ’s Manifesto.  First the “temporary gas tax” backpedal, now this.  It’s making the DPJ look like they can’t reform things after all.  Sad.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo.

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DPJ postpones bill to grant local voting rights to permanent foreign residents
(Mainichi Japan) February 27, 2010
, Courtesy lots of people
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20100227p2a00m0na009000c.html

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.

Now, the attention is focused on whether ruling and opposition parties will launch a campaign to pass the bill as legislator-initiated legislation.

The suffrage bill was expected to be based on a draft that the DPJ prepared before it took over the reins of government, and it proposes to grant local suffrage to foreign residents from countries with which Japan has diplomatic ties. The DPJ’s proposal will cover some 420,000 Korean and other special permanent residents — both those who arrived in Japan before World War II and their offspring — as well as about 490,000 foreign residents from other countries.

The campaign to enact legislation on foreign suffrage in local elections dates back to 15 years ago.

Encouraged by the 1995 Supreme Court ruling that “foreign suffrage is not banned by the Constitution,” over 1,500 local assemblies adopted a resolution to support and promote legislation to grant local suffrage to permanent foreign residents in Japan — some 910,000 people as of the end of 2008.

However, as the passage of the bill becomes a real possibility along with the change of government, various views have emerged.

The National Association of Chairpersons of Prefectural Assemblies held an interparty discussion meeting on local suffrage for permanent foreign residents on Feb. 9 in Tokyo.

“It’s not the time for national isolation,” said Azuma Konno, a House of Councillors member of the DPJ, as he explained the party’s policy on the legislation at the meeting, raising massive jeers and objections from participants.

“We can introduce legislation which will make it easier for foreigners to be naturalized,” said Kazuyoshi Hatakeyama, speaker of the Miyagi Prefectural Assembly, while Kochi Prefectural Assembly Vice Speaker Eiji Morita countered, saying: “The DPJ excluded the suffrage bill from its manifesto for last summer’s election.”

The Mie Prefectural Assembly, in which DPJ members form the largest political group, was the only chapter to support the granting of local suffrage to permanent foreign residents.

“The argument against suffrage rings of ethnic nationalism,” said Speaker Tetsuo Mitani.

The fact that the DPJ’s legislation plan met with strong opposition during the meeting highlighted the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)’s strong sway over local assemblies, where its members manage to remain as the largest political group.

Opponents of the bill argue that it is unreasonable for the central government to make decisions on regional electoral systems while pledging to promote decentralization of authority. Furthermore, the national association of chairpersons adopted a special resolution calling on the government to focus more on the opinions of local assemblies on Jan. 21.

During the LDP Policy Research Council’s national meeting on Feb. 10, LDP lawmakers instructed its prefectural chapters to promote resolutions opposing foreign suffrage at respective local assemblies, in a bid to undermine the Hatoyama administration and the DPJ in cooperation with regional politics.

According to the chairpersons’ association, before the change of government last summer, a total of 34 prefectures supported the granting of local suffrage to foreign residents; however, eight reversed their positions after the DPJ came into power. The trend is expected to accelerate further, pointing to antagonism between the nation’s two largest political parties, as well as the conflicts between the DPJ-led national government and local governments.

Meanwhile, the recent political confrontation has raised concerns in the Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan), which seeks realization of the suffrage bill.

The Chiba Prefectural Assembly, which adopted the resolution supporting foreign suffrage in 1999, reversed its position in December last year.

“We cannot believe they overturned their own decision,” said an official at Mindan’s Chiba Prefecture branch. The branch, which has a close relationship with LDP lawmakers, had owed the prefecture’s previous decision to support the suffrage bill to the efforts of LDP members in the prefectural assembly.

The Ibaraki Prefectural Assembly, too, is one of the eight local assemblies that went from for to against suffrage. Mindan’s Ibaraki branch has also expressed its disappointment, saying: “Assembly members are using the issue as part of their campaign strategy for the coming election.”

According to the National Diet Library, foreign residents are granted local suffrage in most major developed countries.

The PNP has also declared strong objection to the bill, saying “It could stimulate ethnic sentiment in the wrong way.”

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.

“Considering the future relationship between Japan and South Korea, we should clarify the government’s policy,” said Ozawa, who showed strong enthusiasm for the realization of the suffrage bill during his meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Seoul last December. Hatoyama agreed.

Ozawa apparently aims to pass the bill before this summer’s House of Councillors election in a bit to win Mindan’s support for the DPJ.

DPJ executives had agreed to submit the proposal as a Cabinet bill, not as a lawmaker-initiated legislation, during a meeting on Jan. 11.

However, Cabinet members were slow to react to Ozawa’s move, with Haraguchi insisting the legislation be led by lawmakers, saying: “The legislation is related to the foundations of democracy, and it’s questionable whether the Cabinet should take the initiative in this.” One DPJ senior member said: “If we promote the bill forcibly, it will cause a split in the party.”

“Consensus within the ruling coalition is a minimum requirement for realizing the legislation. It’s not an easy task,” said Hatoyama on Saturday.

After all, the government was forced to abandon submitting a foreign suffrage bill to the ongoing Diet session.

(Mainichi Japan) February 27, 2010
ENDS

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

外国人地方選挙権:法案先送り 反対の国民新に配慮--政府方針
毎日新聞 2010年2月27日 東京朝刊
http://mainichi.jp/select/seiji/news/20100227ddm001010015000c.html

政府は26日、永住外国人に地方選挙権を付与する法案について、政府提案による今通常国会への提出を見送る方針を固めた。連立を組む国民新党が反対しており、原口一博総務相は同日の閣議後の記者会見で、「連立与党内で立場が異なり、政府提案はなかなか難しい」と表明。与野党内で議員立法の動きが広まるかが焦点となる。

地方選挙権法案を巡っては、民主党の小沢一郎幹事長の意向を踏まえ、同党が昨年末、政府に検討を要請。鳩山由紀夫首相も同調していたが、平野博文官房長官は26日の記者会見で「連立(与党)の合意を取らなければ、政府から提出するのは大変厳しかろう」と述べ、政府提案は困難との見通しを示した。

国民新党は「選挙権を付与すると、日本人との間で民族間の対立を招きかねない」などとして、法案提出に反対姿勢を崩していない。原口氏は26日の記者会見で「総務省内で議論の整理をしたが、民主主義の基本にかかわる。国会の場でしっかりご議論いただくことが大事だ」と述べ、議員立法で検討すべきだとの考えを示した。【横田愛、石川貴教】
ends

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

国民新:「保守」強調 夫婦別姓、外国人選挙権に「反対」
毎日新聞 2010年2月25日
http://mainichi.jp/select/seiji/news/20100226k0000m010041000c.html

参院選に向け、国民新党が新たな看板作りに腐心している。衆参合計で9議席と与党最少の同党の存亡に直結するためだ。参院選ポスターの原案では、党是の「郵政改革」に加えて「外国人参政権(選挙権)反対」「夫婦別姓反対」を明記した。民主、自民両党に不満を持つ保守層を意識してた旗印を掲げ、活路を見いだす方針だ。

国民新党の亀井静香代表が24日の定例会見でポスター案を公表した。永住外国人への地方選挙権付与法案と、選択的夫婦別姓導入の民法改正案への反対を繰り返し明言する亀井氏は、会見でも「うちが反対する限り絶対日の目を見ない。そういう(与党内の)力学なんだ」と胸を張った。

昨年の衆院選で代表と幹事長が落選した同党の危機感は強い。党幹部は「今回、改選3議席を減らせば党は終わりだ」と悲壮感を漂わせる。だが民主党との選挙協力は進まず、国民新党側には「衆院選では幹部同士で協議したのに今回はまだない」との不満が漏れる。

同党の支持基盤は郵便局長を中心に全国に薄く広く存在するのが特徴で、選挙区での新候補者擁立は困難なのが実情だ。地盤を持つ富山や島根でも民主党の候補者擁立の動きが先行する。亀井氏は24日の会見で「国民新党の協力なくして勝てると思ってるからおやりになってるんじゃないか」と不快感を示した。連立政権内での発言権確保を視野に、参院選に向けて今後、神経戦は深まりそうだ。【朝日弘行】

ends

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column March 2, 2010 on Racist Sumo Kyoukai

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JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 25

Sumo body deserves mawashi wedgie for racist wrestler ruling
The Japan Times: Tuesday, March 2, 2010, version with links to sources

By DEBITO ARUDOU

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100302ad.html

I’ve noticed how highly Japan regards sports. We love investing taxes in games and facilities, hosting international events and Olympics. Sports are even part of a government ministry, the one in charge of Japan’s science, education and culture.

There is a problem, however, with the concept of sportsmanship here. Sports in Japan only seem to be kosher if Japanese win.

For example, national sports festivals (kokutai) have refused noncitizen high school students, erroneously claiming these events are qualifiers for Japan’s Olympic athletes (Zeit Gist, Sept. 30, 2003).

http://www.debito.org/japantimes093003.html

High school ekiden runs similarly bar foreign students from starting relays, claiming that non-Japanese (NJ) have an unfair advantage. NJ creating too much of a lead at the beginning allegedly makes things “dull” for Japanese fans. (Recall that old myth about Japanese legs being too short to run fast? Tell that to marathon gold medalist and world record-holder Naoko “Q-chan” Takahashi.)

http://www.debito.org/?p=417

Even sumo, the national sport (kokugi), has faced charges of racism, most famously from former grappler Konishiki, whom The New York Times in 1992 reported as saying his promotion to the top rank of yokozuna was denied because he isn’t Japanese.

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/22/world/sumo-star-charges-racism-in-japan.html?pagewanted=1

But sumo has enjoyed plausible deniability, having had four foreign-born yokozuna (Akebono, Musashimaru, Asashoryu and Hakuho). After Asashoryu’s retirement, there remain 42 foreign-born rikishi in the top ranks. Ergo sumo is internationalizing, right?

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100216i1.html

Not any more. The Japan Sumo Association announced on Feb. 23 that it would limit sumo stables to one foreign wrestler each — a decrease from two per stable. Since there are only 52 stables, and only about 800 sumo wrestlers in total registered with the JSA, this funnels things down considerably.

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

http://factsanddetails.com/japan.php?itemid=752&catid=21&subcatid=138

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).

http://www.debito.org/?p=6026#comment-191216

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

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/sumo/news/20100223-OYT1T01095.htm

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?

http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/information/tnl-01.html

So The New York Times was right after all: The JSA is racist. If you are born into a status that you can never escape, “Japaneseness” becomes not a matter legal status, but of birth. Of caste. Of race. Once a foreigner, always a foreigner.

Put another way, if I were to apply to become a sumo wrestler (I certainly am in their weight class), I would have to become a foreigner again, despite being a naturalized Japanese citizen for almost 10 years. Somebody deserves a huge mawashi wedgie.

JSA’s justification? One stable master expressed fears that sumo was being “overrun with foreign wrestlers.” Perhaps they’re afraid of being overrun by talented wrestlers who just happen to be foreign? That’s not supposed to be a concern when a sport has a level playing field.

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. For example, baseball-reference.com notes (under the category of “frivolities”) that more than a quarter of all active baseball players in the U.S. (28.4 percent) were foreign-born in 2009.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/friv/placeofbirth.cgi?TYPE=active&from=2009&to=0&DIV=countries&submit=Run+Query

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.

Some might say the nativists have the right to decide who gets into their “club.” But that’s not how sportsmanship works. And it’s one reason why sumo will lose out to real international sports — like judo, for example, now an Olympic event. Sumo was denied that honor. Now we can see why: It’s run by bigots.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ss20070612mb.html

O Takanohana, superstar yokozuna recently elected to the JSA board with promises to reform this troubled organization, where art thou when we needed you most? How could you let this xenophobia come to pass? Or have you shown your true colors at last?

Somebody take the JSA to court. These racist ignoramuses killing this world-famous sport need to be taught a lesson — that Japanese citizenship is not an inconvenient “loophole.” It is the law, and they too are beholden to it.

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

Emily Homma on Filipina nurses in Japan being abused by GOJ EPA visa program

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.  Finally, we have a voice from a person in the know about what’s going on with NJ being brought over to Japan on special visas to work in Japan’s health care industry.  According to the report below, the trilateral (as in Japan-Philippines-Indonesia) EPA nurse program is everything I expected, and more.  People being ill-trained, unsupported in a hostile workplace, financially strapped and exploited, having unreasonable expectations (particularly regarding language study) heaped upon them, and then tested with hurdles so high they’ll not qualify to stay.  And thus the Revolving-Door Work-Study Program cycle once again is complete, with NJ overwhelmingly unable to live in Japan under these conditions.  Leach off their work for a year or three, then send them home.  ‘Cos we don’t need to invest in anyone but real Japanese, not potential immigrants, no matter how much they want to stay here.  Too bad.  But it’s within character of the GOJ policymakers.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

////////////////////////////////////////////////
From: info@ambjp.net
Subject: EPA Foreign Nurses and Caregivers Working in Japan Urgently Need Help
Date: January 31, 2010

To: debito@debito.org
Cc: emilyhomma@yahoo.com

Hi Debito-san,

My friend Emily Homma and myself are trying to reach out to the English speaking press in Japan, so that the message below reaches as many people as possible.  We hope that you will be able to help us spreading the word.

Thanks a lot,

Annerose Matsushita in Fukushima For Emily Homma in Saitama

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

Here is what I wrote in the following blog (I am AFWJ.org’s webmaster):

http://afwjnews.blogspot.com/2010/01/members-assisting-other-foreigners-in.h tml

Emily Homma lives in Saitama (Kanto) and has been assisting Filipino nurses and caregivers who came to Japan under the Economic Partnership Agreement of Japan (EPA). She helped them with Japanese language support, clothing donations (Japan is much colder than The Philippines) and others.

You may have heard of this program through local news. Having seen with her own eyes the situation from the nurses’ side, Emily wishes to let people in Japan and overseas know their truth and their feelings.

You can read here what Emily wrote:

“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:

1. Japan puts the Filipino nurses and caregivers in a cheap labor trap, requiring them to pass the Licensure examinations within three years although they are given only six months of formal Basic Nihongo study and occasional group reviews. The Japanese government and the Japan Nurses Association (JNA) insist that foreign nurses take the examination in Japanese without furigana phonetic guides for the kanji characters. Yet, the nurses are required to pass the licensure examination to get promoted to fulltime nurse positions and acquire the privilege to bring their dependents to Japan. Considering that medical kanji is extremely difficult even to their Nihongo teachers in Japan, this highly restrictive stance of the government and the JNA not only reflects a serious barrier to foreign nurses from getting integrated into the local workforce but also a clear intent to use or exploit the foreign nurses for three years on a temporary basis just like any expendable commodity.

2. The salary and benefits for these foreign workers—a gross total of only 120,000-200,000 yen—are not enough to sustain a decent and respectable life in Japan. With majority of the health workers receiving only a net pay of about 60,000 yen after deductions, they have to resort to extraordinary remedies just to meet all of their living expenses in Japan: house rent, electricity, gas supply, Internet connection, cellular phone bills, and transport expenses. This puts them on a starvation situation and makes them unable to send a substantial amount of money to their respective dependents in their homelands. Indeed, some hospital administrators in Japan make local Japanese health workers work on a 7.5-hours-per-day basis to make them remain part-timers receiving an hourly rate of only 900 yen, but applying the same policy to foreign workers with no relatives in Japan to help them meet the cost of living utterly abuses the foreign health workers’ rights, disrespects their experience and profession, and degrades their worth as health workers. For this reason, the Japan International Corporation of Welfare Services (JICWELS) must be prevailed upon to choose only hospitals that can afford to offer good wage packages when hiring foreign health workers.

3. Foreign nurses in Japan are subjected to undue comparison and unfair competition with local workers, fostering great insecurity on the former. There are strong indications that the presence of foreign workers in Japan hospitals is perceived as a threat to local workers’ employment status or hopes for salary improvement. This breeds disrespect and scorn towards the foreign workers and fosters an unfriendly atmosphere in many work settings. As a result, the foreign nurses are finding it extremely difficult to cope with their new environment, making it a big question if they could really fit in and be accepted as workers in Japan under an atmosphere of mutual understanding and cooperation.

4. Japan’s nursing system, being far different from those of the homelands of the foreign nurses working in Japan, makes it extremely difficult for the foreign nurses to adjust and cope. The experience and education of foreign nurses working in Japanare comparable and largely attuned to the culture and job expectations of Western countries. They are therefore finding it difficult to adjust to the kind of assistant nurse work and nursing aide tasks expected from them in Japan. Compounding the problem is that it was not made clear to them before hiring what specific job functions they are expected to perform, a situation made worse by the language gap and the inadequacy of the foreign workers in understanding Nihongo. Thus, even if some of the foreign nurses have already attained a certain level of Nihongo, there is a crying need for Japanese-language nursing books, training materials, and exam reviewers to be translated into English and explained in English.

5. There is no existing training program or orientation for foreign nurses on the Japan nursing system before they assume their jobs. Due to the absence of this training or orientation, foreign nurses are frequently reprimanded and ridiculed by their local workmates when they are unable to perform according to the Japanese system. For their part, hospital administrators just rely on the suggestions and complaints aired by the foreign workers, and many of those suggestions and complaints are simply ignored. There is clearly a need for immersion and retraining of foreign nurses so they can meet the work and performance standards of the hospitals of their host country.

6. The Japanese work ethics and work attitudes differ greatly from those of foreign nurses. To foreign workers, rushing and scurrying at work reflects inefficiency and unpreparedness, but to the Japanese, to do this shows one’s dedication and excellent performance. For the leaders of local workers, bullying and humiliating a trainee nurse is part of the training, and the trainee nurse is expected to endure this abuse without complaining. But foreign nurses, having been trained in a work culture where respect and professionalism are a must among workmates especially in the presence of patients, often are constrained to express their concerns and suggestions against such bullying and humiliation. However, their doing so is often perceived as en expression of distrust towards the prerogatives of the hospital management, so even the mild criticisms expressed by foreign workers could easily backfire on them.

7. There is hardly any room for advancement or career development for foreign nurses in Japan. In the absence of any program by the Japanese government and its health services sector, the career and promotion opportunities of foreign nurses and other workers are seriously stifled in Japan. Even if they work in Japan for a long time, there is very little hope for them to rise above the position of nursing aides performing the tasks of caregivers and domestic helpers. Indeed, in a country where even the local workforce is deprived of advancement opportunities, the native Japanese workers often tell the foreign nurses: “You are not needed here. You’d better work in countries where you could communicate in English.” It is clear that when the opportunity arises, these foreign nurses would rather leave Japan and work in countries where they are more likely to realize their dreams of growth and professional advancement.

8. There being no labor attaches to represent them in Japan, the foreign nurses are left to fend off for themselves and to fight for their rights on their own. As a general rule, JICWELS always takes the side of oppressive hospitals when foreign nurses complain against questionable employment terms and practices. Its stock answer is often that “they didn’t have any precedent of previous case experiences” and that “everything the hospital says is final.” Consequently, no transfer ever takes place when a nurse requests for placement to a better and fairer hospital. The foreign workers, already burnt out at work, therefore often drive themselves to exhaustion in fighting for their own rights in hospitals with an uncaring administration or management.

Considering these very serious problems besetting Filipino nurses and other health workers in Japan, it is respectfully proposed that the JICWELS and the Philippines, particularly the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), should immediately and carefully examine the flaws in the hiring and deployment of the first batch of Filipino nurses and other workers to Japan. This needs to be done before the second batch is allowed to come to Japanin May 2010. Both Japan and the Philippines must sit down together in a spirit of amity and cooperation to forcefully and meaningfully address the working conditions of Filipino nurses and other health professionals in Japan, an increasing number of whom have been suffering from extremely low pay and inadequate benefits, work displacement, mental stress, and utter frustration in their jobs.

Action must be taken now before it is too late.

Sincerely yours, Emily Homma, Saitama, Japan”
ends
///////////////////////////////////////////////

UPDATE FEBRUARY 28, 2010

From:  Emily Homma
Hello Debito,

Thank you so much for considering the article/letter on the nurses and caregivers’ plight for your next debito.org topic. The nurses have been looking forward for that chance to be heard through your column.

They had their first try of the nursing exam given in Japanese last February 21, but they could hardly understand the kanji characters, not even the directions. They still sat for the exam of course, but just guessed on the answers, for the questions were extremely hard for their low Elementary Nihongo level (comparable to grade 4 pupil’s) . From about 80 JPEPA nurses that took the exam, only two of them who had straight four months of fulltime review (without work) under a doctor mentor could say that they could read many of the kanji characters, but do not understand the meaning of the questions. The group is hoping that, at least two of their batch members (of 90) would pass this year’s exam.

Majority are thinking of staying here in Japan just within the length of the three-year period, for they do not expect to pass the licensure exam if given in Japanese with full kanji without phonetic symbols. This would mean, Japan does not only give these foreign workers difficulties in life and career, but wastes its own resources and tax money training these people in their Nihongo and provide dormitory accommodation (for six months) only to find them leave from May this year (when the group is expected to renew their one-year visas) until the end of the three-year period to pass the exam. Japan has to review the program in order for these Filipino and Indonesian health workers possibly pass the exam, gain better lives, and so that their income level reaches regular local nurses’ pay. Meantime, all of them must be granted a fulltime status and a uniform 160,000 yen pay (not 120,000 gross, with just 60,000 yen net…which is exactly my brother’s net pay this February) so that they would not worry where to get their food sustenance while enduring life here.

There are a lot more issues related to these problems…they were mentioned in my previous letter. Please ask me any other things you want clarified, or contact my brother, the JPEPA nurse leader for other comments (Joseph Benosa) at jcbpogiben AT yahoo DOT com.

Thank you Debito and Annerose for helping us.

Sincerely,
Emily Homma
Instructor/Teacher Trainor/Civic Volunteer
emilyhomma AT yahoo DOT com
ENDS

Get Japan Times tomorrow Tues Mar 2, next JUST BE CAUSE column out on racist Sumo Association

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.  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!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UPDATE:  Here it is:

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100302ad.html

Kyodo: GOJ criticized by UN CERD (once again) for inaction towards racial discrim; GOJ stresses “discrim not rampant”

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 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. And if people find other articles with interesting tacks (the second Kyodo version in the JT below feels decidedly muted), please include whole text with link in the Comments Section below. Thanks. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Japan disputes racism allegations at U.N. panel
Feb 25 2010 The Associated Press

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9E38OV00&show_article=1

GENEVA, Feb. 25 (AP) – (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.”

The review, the first since 2001, is a required procedure for countries signatory to the 1965 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which Japan ratified in December 1995.

It is conducted by a committee composed of 18 legal experts who act in their professional capacity.

Fourteen Japanese government officials from five ministries, headed by Ambassador in charge of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Hideaki Ueda, spent the morning answering questions about Japanese legislation and practices to fight racism and protect minority rights.

The committee was critical of the lack of antidiscrimination legislation in Japan, and the treatment of Japanese minorities and its large Korean and Chinese communities.

Prior to the start of the review on Wednesday, Japanese nongovernmental organizations presented to the committee issues they wanted raised.

They showed a video of a group of Japanese nationalist protesters waving flags and protesting in front of a North Korean school in Kyoto Prefecture, shouting phrases such as “This is a North Korean spy training center!”

An official of Japan’s Justice Ministry said such behavior could be explained as a reaction to “intermittent nuclear and missile tests” by North Korea, although any consequent human right violations were investigated.

Many committee members asked questions about the Okinawan population, some groups of which are fighting to obtain recognition as an indigenous population.

“There is no clear definition of an indigenous people, even in the U.N. declaration,” Ueda said. “But Okinawan people are Japanese, and their language is the Japanese language,” he said.

Concerns were also expressed by committee members about the treatment of descendants of people in discriminated communities called “buraku.”

Committee members admitted they had difficulty understanding whether they were a caste, or a separate ethnic group.

“What makes them different from the average Japanese?” committee member Jose Augusto Lindgren Alves asked.

“There are no differences at all, they are like us, we are the same,” Ueda answered.

Other questions raised included educational opportunities for students of non-Japanese schools, and reports that some individuals had to change their last name to a pre-approved Kanji when obtaining Japanese citizenship.

Foreign schools in Japan get tax credits and subsidies, a delegate from the Education Ministry said, and students from many, especially Korean, schools had access to Japanese universities.

Counselors are available for foreign students joining Japanese schools, the delegate added.

On the name-change allegation, “in order not to create inconvenience in their social life, it would be better to pick an easier to use character,” a member of the Justice Ministry said. “But you can also use hiragana and katakana.”

After the review, Ralph Hosoki of the Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan, one of the NGOs, told Kyodo News, “The government only regurgitates what’s already in place…There is no imaginative dialogue to work towards concrete changes.”

In concluding remarks, committee member Patrick Thornberry said, “A lot of the responses are that you do not need legislation…My concern is that your information…may not be proper to make such a conclusion.”
ENDS

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

The Japan Times, Friday, Feb. 26, 2010
Japan faces U.N. racism criticism

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100226a4.html

GENEVA (Kyodo) Japan’s record on racism has improved, but there is still room for progress, according to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

“We heard today much that is good and positive, but I think a deepened engagement would be welcomed and necessary,” Patrick Thornberry, the member of the committee responsible for Japan’s review, said Wednesday.

The review, the first for Japan since 2001, is required of signatory countries to the 1965 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which Japan ratified in December 1995.

Fourteen Japanese officials from five ministries, headed by Ambassador in Charge of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Hideaki Ueda, flew from Japan to field questions and comments from the committee of 18 legal experts.

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.”

Committee members also criticized the treatment of certain segments of society, such as the “burakumin” (descendants of Japan’s former outcast class), and the people of Okinawa.

“The ‘buraku’ situation is a form of racial discrimination,” committee member Fatimata-Binta Victoire Dah said. “It is frighteningly similar to the caste system in Africa.”

Many members of the committee, however, praised the government’s recent recognition of the Ainu as an indigenous people.

But there was also criticism of the treatment of Chinese and Korean nationals, in matters ranging from the lack of accreditation of their schools, to the necessity, at times, for them to change their names when they obtain Japanese citizenship.

The NGOs, before the review, showed the committee members a video of a group of nationalists waving flags and protesting aggressively in front of a North Korean school in Kyoto Prefecture, shouting phrases such as “This is a North Korean spy training center!”

“Why are these children guilty of what North Korea is doing?” committee member Ion Diaconu asked.

Some members of the committee also expressed concern that such schools did not receive any government funding at a time when the government is considering removing tuition fees for public high schools.
ENDS

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

Feedback from a Debito.org Reader, who cced me in this letter yesterday to a UN official, disputing the lack of “rampant discrimination”. Forwarding:

Dear Gabriella,

I am writing this email in the hope that it will find Mr. Patrick
Thornberry as he is conducting a review on Japan’s Elimination of Racial
Discrimination. I read briefly of the review on the Japan Times website
(URL below).

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100226a4.html

I am concerned that a very important human right is not being protected
in Japan. I am referring to the child’s right to an education. In Japan,
the child’s right to an education is ensured by law. Students must
attend school as compulsory education until they graduate from junior
high school. However, this legislation is only applicable to Japanese
citizens. Non-Japanese do not have the same rights/obligations regarding
education and this violates the right of the non-Japanese to an
education.

I direct your attention to the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989.

CHAPTER IV
HUMAN RIGHTS
11 . Convention on the Rights of the Child
New York, 20 November 1989

Apparently, Japan became a signatory on 21 Sep 1990 and ratified it on
22 Apr 1994. However, practice in Japan does not appear to be in line
with the articles of the convention. Specifically article 3 and article 28.

——-
Article 28
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and
with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of
equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:

(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all»

(b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary
education, including general and vocational education, make them
available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures
such as the introduction of free education and offering financial
assistance in case of need;

——-

In Japan, education until Junior high school is compulsory for Japanese
students only. For non-Japanese it would appear that the legislation
provides compulsory primary education only. In reality, this is not
ensured. There are many families whose children are not enrolled in any
part of the Japanese education system. Some cite the language barrier as
problem with sending their children to a Japanese school. Education is
not “available to all”. This leads to some students being enrolled in
“schools” that are not required to comply with any standards. This leads
to a conflict in Article 3.

——-
Article 3 Paragraph 3
3. States Parties shall ensure that the institutions, services and
facilities responsible for the care or protection of children shall
conform with the standards established by competent authorities,
particularly in the areas of safety, health, in the number and
suitability of their staff, as well as competent supervision.

——-

There are thousands of Brazilian families living and working in Shizuoka
Prefecture. Many of these families send their children to “Brazilian
schools” that do NOT conform with the standards of Japanese schools. In
fact, many of these so-called schools have no standards with which they
have to comply.

On the other hand, Japanese students have access to compulsory,
standards-compliant education until the end of junior high school.
Non-Japanese children are being discriminated against to the point that
their universal and inalienable right to a quality education is not
being protected.

Enforcing compulsory education in Japan is necessary. Japan may not have
the multilingual schools that would be ideal but a standards compliant
education is better than what these children get now which is either a
non-standards compliant education or no education at all. Enforcing
compulsory education would surely see the current situation improve.

In the news article I cited at the beginning of this email there was no
mention to this issue. That leaves me with my sole question, is
eliminating hate speech really more important to the UN than children’s
education?

AUTHOR’S NAME WITHHELD UPON REQUEST
ends

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UPDATE.  RESPONSE FROM UNITED NATIONS

——- Forwarded Message ——–
From: Harumi Fuentes
Cc: Gabriella Habtom , sthodiyil@ohchr.org,
p.thornberry@keele.ac.uk
Subject: Re: Fw: JAPAN – U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2010 11:10:06 +0100

Dear Mr. (anonymized),

In response to your email, the Committee is in charge of monitoring
the implementation of the Convention for all the persons under the
jurisdiction of the State party and the right to education is covered.
Please rest assured that despite what reports or news articles may
write or omit, the issue of education was addressed extensively by the
Committee. In fact, going over the summary record, I’d like to inform
you that education, including Peruvian and Brazilian schools and
miscellaneous schools, was taken up by almost all the members of the
Committee and discussed in length with the State party.

We appreciate the useful information you provided on legislation on
compulsory education for Japanese and non-nationals and thank you for
your interest in the work of the Committee.

Best regards,
Harumi Fuentes

Harumi Fuentes Furuya (Ms.)
Associate Human Rights Officer

Human Rights Council and Treaties Division
OHCHR-Palais Wilson 1-075
tel. +41-22-917 9699
hfuentes@ohchr.org
wwww.ohchr.org
END