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From Debito's doctoral research:

Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

  • Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination
  • (Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield HB 2015, PB 2016)

    Click on book cover for reviews, previews, and 30% discount direct from publisher. Available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle eBook on

  • Book IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan
  • Archive for April, 2010

    Swiss woman acquitted of crimes yet denied bail due to being NJ, then barred as “visa overstayer” anyway

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

    Bringing this old article up as a matter of record: I mentioned on back in early 2008 about a Swiss woman who came to Japan as a tourist and was arrested on drug charges. She got acquitted not once but twice in Japanese courts, yet was not released on bail because NJ and are considered more of a flight risk. While actual convicted felons are released in the interim if they are Japanese.

    Again, foreigners aren’t allowed bail in Japan. Unlike Japanese: When Japanese defendants appeal guilty verdicts, they are not detained (see Horie Takafumi and Suzuki Muneo; the latter, now convicted of corruption twice over, is still on the streets, even re-elected to the Diet!).

    So despite being incarcerated as an innocent NJ since 2008, she finally gets booted out for “overstaying her visa” (oh, sure, she could have gone to Immigration any time and renewed, right?) and barred from reentry. Rights of the defendant and “Hostage Justice” depending on your nationality. What a swizz.

    Posted in Human Rights, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits | 9 Comments »

    Holiday post: Japan Times editorial calling for the removal of its own Berlin Walls

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

    Japan Times excerpt: More than 20 years have passed since the Berlin Wall fell, yet Japan remains shut out from the rest of humanity by its own wall. Though it is a shapeless partition that we cannot touch, it nevertheless cuts off the country from the world beyond its shores. What are the characteristics of this invisible barrier?

    It serves as much to prevent inbound flows as outward ones. Japan is the only major developed nation where almost none of the men and women of influence — in the realm of ideas, business or government — are from foreign backgrounds. Tokyo, as opposed to other global metropolises, has no cosmopolitan flavor. There is a striking paucity of Japanese people teaching in foreign universities, writing about the humanities and social sciences or contemporary politics in scholarly journals or mass-circulation magazines and Web sites, and working in multinational corporations, international organizations and nongovernmental organizations.

    This intangible forcefield harms Japan much more than is generally realized. It condemns Japanese universities, especially in the humanities and social sciences, to international irrelevance. This is not to say that Japan lacks great researchers — it has plenty of them. But they operate in an environment with few foreign colleagues and students (except for a few Asian countries), are under-represented in international conferences, and rarely publish in global journals. Thus, their ideas remain locked within the boundaries of the wall…

    Posted in Exclusionism, Japanese Government, Practical advice, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 17 Comments »

    GEOS Bankruptcy and G-Education takeover: Internal document forwarded to stating staff not getting back wages

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

    I’m sure you’ve heard about the next great pop in the Eikaiwa Bubble in Japan, the bankruptcy of GEOS this month. Looks like there be a similar takeover and people left without jobs or remuneration for past work, so people in the industry, heads up. I was forwarded this morning the following internal email from GEOS, and those in the know might be able to explain better here or elsewhere what this all means. FYI.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Education, Labor issues | 12 Comments »


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

    Table of Contents:
    1) Tokyo Gov Ishihara encourages witch hunt for J politicians with naturalized ancestors
    2) Xenophobic rantings of the Far-Right still continue despite NJ Suffrage Bill’s suspension; scanned flyers enclosed
    3) Gaijin Card Checks expand to Tax Bureau, now required for filing household tax returns
    4) Mutantfrog on Death of Yokoso Japan, plus birth of Welcome to Tokyo
    5) Asahi: J companies abandoning old hiring and promotion practices, offering NJ employees equitable positions. Come again?
    6) Eurobiz Japan Magazine Jan 2010 Interview of JIPI’s Sakanaka Hidenori
    7) “Pinprick Protests” #1: GOJ authorities finally telling hotels correct enforcement procedures for NJ check-ins. Pity it only took five years.

    8 ) Ghanian dies while being deported March 22, scant media on it
    9) FCCJ Press Conf on Ghanian death while being deported, 2 more deaths in Ibaraki Detention Ctr
    10) Japan Times on Suraj Case: Wife of Ghanian who died while being deported demands info on cause
    11) GhanaWeb: Suraj apparently a son of a Ghanian Prince
    12) Japan Times on “Little Black Sambo” controversy, cites’s parody “Little Yellow J*p”
    13) Case study about university contract termination of NJ reversed due to getting a lawyer
    14) Kyodo: Japan’s depopulation accelerates in 2009

    15) Tokyo Shinbun: Fussa City bureaucrat blames NJ residents for more children’s cavities!
    16) Sumo Suits Controversy in Canada
    17) NJ and Abandoned Konketsuji Negishi Cemetery in Yokohama; photos included
    18) Congratulations to Oguri Saori for her successful opening of “Darling wa Gaikokujin” movie

    … and finally…
    19) Poll: “Do you think ‘Little Black Sambo’ should be in print and in educational institutions in Japan?”

    Posted in Newsletters | 1 Comment »

    Mainichi: First GOJ guidelines for teaching NJ the Japanese language so they can live here

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

    Kyodo: A government subcommittee has drafted guidelines for the first time on teaching Japanese to foreign residents of Japan in order to support them in their daily lives, government officials said Thursday.

    The draft guidelines compiled by a Council for Cultural Affairs subcommittee lists examples of words and phrases that foreigners should be encouraged to learn for smooth communication in 10 main types of situations, including health care, travel and activities related to consumption and safety…

    The number of registered foreign residents in Japan stood at around 2.22 million at the end of 2008, according to the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Ministry of Justice.

    Many government officials concerned with language education believe it would be desirable for at least 1 million of the foreign residents to learn Japanese so that they can live their lives smoothly.

    However, there has been no previous attempt to compile government standards on the extent to which foreign residents should learn Japanese.

    Posted in Education, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Practical advice | 20 Comments »

    How the mighty have fallen: Forbes ranks world’s leading companies, Japan with only 3 in top 100, Toyota drops from 3rd to 360th

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

    Kyodo: Toyota Motor Corp. has fallen to 360th in the Forbes ranking of the world’s leading companies for 2010, plunging from third the previous year.

    Only three Japanese companies — NTT Corp., Mitsubishi Corp. and Honda Motor Co. — were ranked in the top 100, compared with 11 the previous year, indicating the diminished presence of domestic firms in the global economy. NTT was ranked 41st, Mitsubishi 78th and Honda 86th.

    Major financial groups also fell in the rankings, hit by deteriorating earnings, with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. dropping to 369th from 21st.

    Posted in Unsustainable Japanese Society | 4 Comments »

    Sunday Tangent: Racial profiling of immigrants becomes legal in Arizona. However, controversy ensues.

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

    I have been hearing word from several sources about the new draconian laws being enacted in Arizona to catch illegal migrant workers, including legally-sanctioned racial profiling, and stopping people on the street for ID checks. Many have said that it seems Arizona has taken a page out of the GOJ’s handbook for dealing with NJ in Japan. The difference, however, is that 1) the US dragnet is (necessarily) a coarser mesh (as Japanese authorities have a wider view of who doesn’t “look Japanese”, since anyone can “look American” and more sophistication is needed over there), and 2) it’s caused a level of controversy that has never happened in Japan (imagine street protests to this degree, even a J prime minister denouncing it?).

    I believe it’s only a matter of time (and it will take some time) before the Arizona authorities stop the wrong person on racial grounds, other American laws kick in to protect people against racial discrimination, and American courts rule this Arizona law unconstitutional. Wait and see.

    That just ain’t gonna happen in Japan for obvious reasons: We ain’t got no legal sanctions against racial discrimination, let alone this degree of people caring for the human rights of foreigners.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Tangents | 17 Comments »

    Saturday Tangent: Tokyo Shinbun: Fussa City bureaucrat blames NJ residents for more children’s cavities!

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

    It’s been pretty knee-jerk this past decade to blame NJ (or just plain multiculturalism) for anything that’s allegedly going askew in Japan. Things I’ve seen blamed on NJ and their “cultural differences” (no doubt you know most of these): Bathhouse altercations, crime, terrorism, infectious diseases, unemployment, neighborhood deterioration, bad smells in both neighborhoods and schools, divorces, DV, drugs, guns, prostitution, unpaid bills (including phone and restaurant), AIDs, youth crime, irregularly colored hair, improper garbage disposal, low J crews on Japanese ships, sports uncompetitiveness, lack of Olympic medals, uncertified sushi, Japan’s low English ability, national security in the SDF, and the potential carving up of Japan as a nation.

    But I gotta admit, I’ve never seen oral hygiene — as in more cavities — pinned on NJ before! Read on.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Tangents, 日本語 | 18 Comments »

    “Pinprick Protests” #1: GOJ authorities finally telling hotels correct enforcement procedures for NJ check-ins. Pity it only took five years.

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

    I would like to launch a new type of campaign, something I will call “Pinprick Protests”, an activity done on the individual level to protest injustice and unfair treatment in Japan. Less visible than picketing and petitions, it is no less effective over time: Enough individual protests nationwide, and it becomes “mendoukusai” for the authorities to have to deal with the issue anymore, and things shift for the better as GOJ attitudes and enforcement mechanisms change.

    Case in point: I received a good news from a translator yesterday in’s comments section:

    JayIII: I work as a translator and often get jobs from the local government and I thought I would share a little bit of good news.

    A request came across my desk today for updating the english phrasing recommended for hotels to display for foreign guests. The Japanese was changed from requiring “foreign visitors” and “display their passport or gaijin card” 外国人宿泊者 and 旅券もしくは外国人登録証明書を提示 to

    Non-Japanese visitors without a permanent Japanese residence and display their passport 日本国内に住所を有しない外国人宿泊者 and 旅券を提示

    So it’s one little step in the right direction.

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Exclusionism, Good News, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 16 Comments »

    Kyodo: Japan’s depopulation accelerates in 2009

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

    Kyodo: The proportion of Japan’s population aged 65 and over hit a record high of 22.7% last year—sign of its fast-aging society, the government reported Friday…

    Japan’s overall population as of Oct 2009 shrank to 127.51 million, down 183,000 people from a year earlier—the largest decline since the country’s population started shrinking five years ago, the ministry said. Some 29 million people are aged 65 or over, up from 28.2 million a year earlier.

    The results add to concerns over Japan’s labor shortage, declining tax income and overburdened public pension system…

    The ministry said a net decrease of 125,000 people living in Japan, also contributed to the population decrease last year. That includes 47,000 foreign nationals, many of them laborers who lost jobs at factories during the global economic slump.

    Posted in Unsustainable Japanese Society | 1 Comment »

    Japan Times on Suraj Case: Wife of Ghanian who died while being deported demands info on cause

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

    Japan Times: The Japanese wife of a Ghanaian who died last month while he was being deported for overstaying his visa called Tuesday on police and the Immigration Bureau to disclose exactly how he died…

    The wife’s lawyer, Koichi Kodama, questioned the police investigation, which has not resulted in any arrests.

    “If a man died after five or six civilians, not public servants, held his limbs, they would undoubtedly be arrested,” Kodama said, adding he told “exactly that to the prosecutors” he met with Monday in Chiba.

    The Chiba police are questioning about 10 immigration officers and crew of Egypt Air, Kodama quoted a Chiba prosecutor as saying. Police said March 25 the cause of death was unclear after an autopsy. Kodama said a more thorough autopsy is being performed.

    Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 14 Comments »

    Tokyo Gov Ishihara encourages witch hunt for J politicians with naturalized ancestors

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

    Tokyo Governor Ishihara’s latest rant has him accusing the ruling parties of having naturalized citizens for ancestors, therefore they want NJ PR suffrage. This latest smear campaign has finally turned Ishihara from a committed politician into a politician who should be committed.

    It hardly bears fully iterating, but: Here we have this dangerous tendency of Ishihara solidifying into a fully-formed ideology, based upon the fundamental tenets that 1) foreigners cannot be trusted, 2) foreigners are always foreigners, even if they are Japanese citizens for generations, 3) foreigners think along blood lines and will work against Japanese interests if their blood is not Japanese. In other words, personal belief is a matter of genetics. But these blood-based arguments went out of fashion a few generations ago when we saw that they led to things such as pogroms and genocides. Yet some of the most powerful people in Japan (in this case the governor of one of the world’s major cities) not only fervently believe it, but also create political parties to rally others around it.

    This is beyond pathological racism. This is the febrile insanity of a mean old man who has long since lost control of himself and his grasp of reality after so many years in power. And as evidenced above, he will even encourage xenophobic witch hunts for people on allegations of blood and ethnicity to push a political agenda that has one horrible conclusion: hatred, exclusion, and silencing of others.

    Dietmember Fukushima is right to call it racial discrimination and call for a retraction (and threaten legal action). But she must also make it clear to the public that even if somebody was naturalized, it is not a problem: Naturalized Japanese are real Japanese too. Otherwise there’s no point to naturalization. But for people like Ishihara, that IS the point; as I’ve written before, it makes no difference to racists whether or not people become Japanese citizens, despite the protests of those opposing votes for NJ PRs. “If they want the right to vote, they should naturalize” has been and always will be a red herring to genuine xenophobes, so see it for what it is — a Trojan Horse of an argument camouflaging racism as reasonableness.

    These are the people who should be booted from power. Give NJ PRs the vote and we’re one step closer. Don’t, and these bigots only grow stronger.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Politics, 日本語 | 17 Comments »

    Xenophobic rantings of the Far-Right still continue despite NJ Suffrage Bill’s suspension; scanned flyers enclosed

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

    For some people, anything is an excuse for a party. Especially if it’s a Political Party. For the Far-Right xenophobes in Japan, it’s their party and they’ll decry if they want to — as they continue their anti-NJ rantings, even when they’ve effectively shouted down the NJ Suffrage Bill the DPJ proposed after they came to power last August. Everyone has to have a hobby, it seems. Pity theirs is based upon hatred of NJ, particularly our geopolitical neighbors. Two submissions of primary source materials and posters enclosed below, one from Reader AS, one from me that I picked up when I was in Tokyo last March, which led to a rally reported on in the Japan Times and Kyodo the other day. Drink in the invective and see how naked and bold Japan’s xenophobia is getting.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Discussions, Exclusionism, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Politics, 日本語 | 26 Comments »

    Sunday Tangent: NJ and Abandoned Konketsuji Negishi Cemetery in Yokohama; photos included

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

    Most of us long-termers have heard about (if not visited) Aoyama Gaijin Bochi (as still written on the signs) foreign cemetery in downtown Tokyo (see here and here). Reader CF writes about a less-known pair of NY cemeteries in Yokohama — Negishi and Hodogaya — that might be worth a look for history preservers.

    Japan Times: Welcome to Yokohama Negishi Gaikokujin Bochi, also known as the Negishi Foreign Cemetery. Only a few hundred meters from Yokohama’s Yamate Station on the JR Keihin Tohoku Line, its obscure location and ambiguous past have helped keep it out of the spotlight.

    While its diminutive size and inconvenient location have relegated this burial ground to near anonymity, its simple appearance, scattered headstones and wooden crosses belie a complicated past.

    More than a 1,000 people are buried here and most are foreigners (“gaikokujin”) and infants.

    Negishi was the poor foreigner’s cemetery. “Those who died of infectious diseases, sailors and those without money were mostly buried here. Of course there are some famous people, but it is basically a cemetery for poor people,” said Yasuji Tamura, a local teacher who has studied the cemetery for more than 15 years.

    This continued until the end of World War II — when the graveyard’s most controversial residents were buried. After the war, Tamura and others believe that more than 800 infants were buried here…

    Posted in Cultural Issue, History, Tangents | 6 Comments »

    Gaijin Card Checks expand to Tax Bureau, now required for filing household tax returns

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

    As a natural extension of the strengthened policing of NJ by the GOJ (for we can only anticipate what scams NJ might get up to, untrustworthy lot), starting with fingerprinting them at the border every time as potential terrorists, criminals, and disease carriers, then tracking their money wherever they earn it, we now have the Tax Bureau doing the Immigration Bureau’s job of checking visa status if NJ were so good as to file their own tax forms. How dare they engage in such suspicious activities! It’s all part of expanding Gaijin Card Checks to unrelated agencies nationwide.

    KYA writes: Can someone help me shed some light on this situation? I’ve filed my taxes in Japan every year for the past 8 years. I can’t swear that I ws never asked for a gaijin card or other form of ID before, but I KNOW that last year I wasn’t, wasn’t even asked to fill out that form asking how many days you spent in and out of the country, etc (I was asked to do that one two or three times, definitely not every year). And I know that my refund has NEVER been delayed, I’ve always filed early and got my money back early.

    But this year, I filed my return in early March, and until today had heard nothing. Today, [I got a form in the mail requiring my Gaijin Card] (reproduced). I called immediately, asked why they needed it and if it was necessary, and got a big variety of non-answers in response. The first time I called, the person whose name was on the letter wasn’t there, so the guy who answered the phone said he’d answer my questions… I probably got more honest answers from him, although he was a bit of a jerk. He said that it’s always been like this, it’s not starting from this year, and that if I never had to do it before, it was because the person reviewing my return in the past decided that my name sounded Japanese enough, but that whoever did it this year thought it sounded foreign. I did challenge this, and asked him if it was okay to just judge people and choose who to question ad delay based on their NAME, would he have done the same to one of the many Japanese people who don’t have any NJ heritgage, but just have parents who gave them a katakana name? He basically said it just depended on the judgement of whoever got the return to review.

    I asked why this NEVER popped up when I was preparing my tax return on the tax department’s homepage. There were all kinds of lists of necessary documents, including some things that said “(when applicable)” etc beside them. Nowhere did it say Gaiijn Card (for those who have one) or something similar. He said “Well, the homepage is written with Japanese people in mind. If you’d asked for help at city hall they would have told you to submit it.” So… you are delaying my tax return BECAUSE I can read Japanese, look at the homepage and prepare my own tax return WITHOUT wasting the time of someone at city hall or at the tax office? That seems very counterprductive, and when I pointed out as much, again he had no reply.

    Then I told him I wanted to Google the law that made this necessary and asked him to tell me the name of the law requiring a gaijin card to get a tax refund. He said there was no law…

    Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 19 Comments »

    FCCJ Press Conference on Ghanian death while being deported, Tues Apr 20

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

    Mr Suraj’s widow, Koichi Kodama and Mayumi Yoshida
    Another illegal immigrant in Japan, another death:
    The fatal journey of Mr. Suraj
    10:00-11:00 Tuesday, April 20, 2010, FCCJ TOKYO

    On March 22, Mr. Abubakar Awudu Suraj, an illegal immigrant who was in the process of being deported to his native country of Ghana, died in Narita.

    The circumstances surrounding Mr. Suraj’s death are unknown. What is clear is that the immigration officers used a towel and handcuff to restrain Mr. Suraj as he was boarding an Egypt Air flight. In February, a first attempt to send Mr. Suraj back to Ghana had failed. Since then, he had been subject to confinement. Married since 2006 to a Japanese national, he had spent the equivalent of 2 years in detention for no other crime than staying illegally.

    The death of Mr. Suraj follows the suicide by hanging of a South Korean man a week ago in the Ibaraki detention center. And the self-hanging of a young Brazilian man in Ibaraki again. And a hunger strike by 70 detainees at the Osaka detention center in March.

    Posted in Injustice, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media | 3 Comments »

    Mutantfrog on Death of Yokoso Japan, plus birth of Welcome to Tokyo

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

    Japan has changed its approach to international tourism from “YOKOSO Japan” to “Japan. Endless Discovery”. Mutantfrog blog thinks its a step in the right direction. Less appraisable to me is Tokyo City’s new flash website welcoming tourism, with its cloying multilingual “Honey Anime” that makes everything just a little too clean-line. In sum, the campaign feels “terrarium in a fishbowl”, with little apparent knowhow of how to appeal to outsiders and what they want after a very expensive plane trip plus hotels (oooh, Tokyo’s got a ZOO!!). Like seeing the waxwork dish of lunch outside the restaurant, and coming in to see it’s not at all what it was advertised. But that’s only my impression. What do others think?

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Japanese Government, Media, Tourism | 11 Comments »

    Japan Times on “Little Black Sambo” controversy, cites’s parody “Little Yellow Jap”

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

    The Japan Times this week published a very nicely-considered article on something brought up on in February: The Little Black Sambo controversy, and how it was being taught without any racial sensitivity or historical/cultural context, to Japanese pre-schoolers, regardless of concerns raised about its appropriateness.

    For the record, I believe LBS is a work of history and as such should not be “banned”. It should, however, whenever used always be placed in historical context, and seen as materiel to enlighten people about the prejudices of the day. I have never seen it done so in Japan. In fact, the republisher Zuiunsha — which appears to have just appropriated the book from the previous Japanese publisher and republished it for fun and profit — doesn’t even offer a disclaimer or a foreword in the book explaining why this book has been problematic; existentially, it’s just a book they can get rich off of. Who cares if some people might be adversely affected by it?

    Hence my attempt, mentioned below, of providing not historical context, but through parody putting the shoe on the other foot for empathy, as “Little Yellow Jap”. That has occasioned cries of “racism” by the noncognizant. But the Japan Times essayist below gets it. Excerpt of article follows.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Education, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept. | 6 Comments »

    Ghanian dies while being deported March 22, scant media on it

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

    Japan Times: The Japanese wife of a Ghanaian who died while being deported from Japan last month and some 50 supporters took to the streets Monday in Tokyo to demand a thorough investigation.

    Holding a banner that read, “Uncover the truth behind the death of Mr. Suraj during his deportation,” the protesters, including Ghanaians living in Japan, marched through Roppongi shouting “We want justice.”

    Although a police autopsy on Abubakar Awudu Suraj, 45, reportedly failed to pin down the cause of death and found no traces of violence, his wife and her supporters believe the death was probably caused by immigration officers…

    Asian People’s Friendship Society, a support group that organized Monday’s protest, said on its Web site that the immigration officers put a towel into Suraj’s mouth as they tried to subdue him, and he died shortly afterward.

    Posted in Injustice, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media | 20 Comments »

    Case study about university contract termination of NJ reversed due to getting a lawyer

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

    Guest writer: This past December, just before winter vacation, the owner of the college where I teach called me into his office and announced in no uncertain terms that in 3 months, at the end of March, I would be fired. After 24 years working for the school, with hardly any advanced warning, I was to be among the unemployed, and at an age (56) when it would be all but impossible to find a similar position in Japan.

    The owner, not so generously, said he would allow me to continue as a part-timer at the bottom of the pay scale, with a loss of health care benefits, at an income which, unless I came up with something to supplement it, would impossible to live on. In addition, he made it a point to explain, though I might have thought I was fulltime, for the first 5 years, (when I taught at both his high school and college) I actually was a part-timer, and that I could expect my retirement package to reflect it…

    As I believe that the circumstances I describe might apply to any number of foreign workers in Japan, I am writing in the hope you might gain from some of my mistakes. First of all, verbal agreements mean nothing. Insist on getting those promises in writing. When I interviewed for my job at the high school, there were three people in the room, but 24 years later, two of them are dead, and the only person who might verify my story is the man I had to take to court.

    If you believe in labor unions, better join up before you encounter any problems. Or if you do try joining a labor union, don’t let them know of your predicament, or else they will have nothing to do with you. (I couldn’t even get them to recommend a lawyer.) Basically labor union resources are reserved for members of long standing who have paid their dues…

    Finally, and most important of all, get a lawyer. I simply would have been a dead man without one. I was lucky enough to have a friend recommend one to me, and still luckier that he was willing to go to court. It never seemed to even occur to my boss that I would or could litigate. I had already received notice, the court date was set, and I was meeting with my lawyer. It was March 30th and one day from termination, when I got a fax from my school’s lawyer rescinding it. I’m back at work now as if nothing happened, though who is to say whether or not I won’t go through the same hell again next year.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Education, Labor issues, Pension System, Practical advice | 15 Comments »

    Asahi: J companies abandoning old hiring and promotion practices, offering NJ employees equitable positions (seriously, that’s what they say!). Come again?

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

    Here’s something that goes against common experience and common sense: The Asahi claiming that more major Japanese companies are hiring NJ more equitably. As in, they’ll be leaders in a quarter-century or so. Yeah, I heard that back in the Eighties during the “Kokusaika Boom”, when I too was hired at Japanese companies to help with companies “internationalization”, and got out real quick when I realized it was fallacious. What do others think? Have things changed? I have included some posts below from The Commnity talking about this, and they seem to disagree with the Asahi.

    Asahi: With overseas markets increasingly seen as the key to their survival, Japanese companies are adopting a more “international” look at home involving changes that would have been unheard of years ago.

    Long-held practices in hiring have been scrapped, as have limits on positions available to non-Japanese at the companies’ head offices in Tokyo and other Japanese cities.

    Methods of communication have shifted as foreigners take on increasingly important roles in devising strategy for overseas sales.

    The employment of Lee Guanglin Samson, a 29-year-old Singaporean, is one example of how electronic appliance maker Toshiba Corp. is evolving.

    “Judging that a more global use of human personnel is necessary, we decided not to use Japanese-language abilities as a requirement for employment,” said Seiichiro Suzuki, head of Toshiba’s personnel center. “Those whom we want are people who will be able to become leaders of business divisions 25 years later.”

    Comment from a job interviewee: Had two interviews at two major Japanese companies about two months ago (Nitori, the “home fashion” store found throughout Japan, and Zensho, the company behind Sukiya and family restaurants, 3rd largest food company behind McDonalds and Skylark). I got “we don’t think a foreigner can handle the intense Japanese work environment” from both, Nitori in particular narrowed it down from “foreigner” to “Americans,” saying that it’s not likely I’d be able to keep up, and even if I did, I would just get burned out, because that’s just how Americans are.

    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Labor issues, Practical advice, 日本語 | 19 Comments »

    Congratulations to Oguri Saori for her successful opening of “Darling wa Gaikokujin” movie

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

    Just a word of congratulations on apparently one of the more important intercultural events of the year — the successful movie release of Oguri Saori’s hit manga series “Darling wa Gaikokujin” (My Darling is a Foreigner).

    Officially released yesterday with balloons and girly frills, the movie is feted to make a splash with all the Japanese women jonesing to date foreign men (even though about three-quarters of all J-NJ marriages are J men to NJ women).

    Good for Saori. I’ve known her for years (even stayed at the couple’s apartment for many days back in the ‘Nineties), and know her to be a person of great talent. Here are some photos from the grand opening party for you to feast your eyes upon:

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Laszlo, Tangents | 9 Comments »

    Sunday Tangent: Sumo Suits Controversy in Canada

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

    The Queen’s University student government has declared the sumo suit an instrument of ‘oppression’, and cancelled a food-bank fundraiser that was to feature two sumo suits.

    Dear [Queen’s Alma Mater Society] members and members of the Queen’s community,

    We are writing in regards to an event that was scheduled to take place on Tuesday March 30th, organized and run by a group in the AMS. This event was planned to have students don padded suits, coloured and designed to resemble Japanese sumo wrestlers. The Facebook event created to advertise this event, entitled “SUMO Showdown,” included a picture of two cartoon Japanese wrestlers grappling.

    We recognize racism as the systemic oppression, both intentional and unintentional, of individuals and groups based on racial or ethnic identities.

    Regrettably, those of us who were aware of the event did not critically consider the racist meaning behind it. Asking students to wear these suits and partake in the activity appropriates an aspect of Japanese culture. This is wrong because it turns a racial identity into a costume; the process of putting-on and taking-off a racial identity is problematic because it dehumanizes those who share that identity and fails to capture the deeply imbedded histories of violent and subversive oppression that a group has faced. The event also devalues an ancient and respected Japanese sport, which is rich in history and cultural tradition…

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Cultural Issue, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Tangents | 14 Comments »


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

    Table of Contents:

    1) MHLW clamps down on NJ spongers of system claiming overseas kids for child allowances. What spongers?
    2) More Juuminhyou idiocies: Dogs now allowed Residency Certificates in Tokyo Itabashi-ku. But not NJ residents, of course.
    3) Yomiuri: 3 Filipina and Indonesian GOJ EPA nurses pass exam (less than 1% of total, after two years)
    4) Asahi: Prof pundit on Toyota uses “culture” benkai to explain auto recall issues
    5) More anti-NJ scare posters & publications, linking PR suffrage to foreign crime and Chinese invasion
    6) List of countries with voting rights for non-citizens, with Japan of the group the absolutist outlier

    7) A personal hero, Chong Hyang Gyun, retires her nursing post at 60
    8 ) Japan Times update on current J child abductions after divorce & Hague Treaty nego: USG still pressuring GOJ
    9) Mainichi: Supreme Court defamation ruling sounds warning bell over online responsibility
    10) Japan Times on a “Non-Japanese Only” sushi restaurant in Okinawa
    11) Fun Facts #14: JK provides budgetary stats to show why current immigration-resistant regime is unsustainable

    12) Japan Times & Sano Hiromi on violence towards NJ detainees at Ibaraki Detention Center, hunger strike
    13) Japan Times front pages NJ abuses at Ibaraki Immigration Detention Center, updates from Sano-san
    14) UPDATE: Ibaraki Detention Center Hunger Strikers pause strike, arrange meetings
    15) Japan Times on Ibaraki Detention Ctr hunger strikers: GOJ meeting because of UN visit?
    … then, kerplunk, the issue dies…?

    … and finally …

    16) Tangent: Japan Times on staggering the Golden Week holidays across the J archipelago

    Posted in Newsletters | 2 Comments »

    EUROBIZ JAPAN Magazine Jan 2010 Interview of JIPI’s Sakanaka Hidenori

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

    Here are some excerpts of the January 2010 issue of EUROBIZ JAPAN magazine, the publication of the European Business Council in Japan, edited by a journalist friend of mine. Another journalist friend of mine interviewed the person I was interning with last week, Japan Immigration Research Institute’s Sakanaka-san, the former Tokyo Immigration Bureau chief who retired and actually supports an immigration and assimilation policy for NJ in Japan. More on who he is and why in the interview below.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues, Practical advice | No Comments »

    MHLW clamps down on NJ spongers of system claiming overseas kids. What spongers?

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

    In mid-March we had a storm in a teacup about DPJ policy re child allowances: If NJ also qualified for child support, politicians argued, some hypothetical Arab prince in Japan would claim all 50 of his kids back in Saudi Arabia. Well, thanks to that storm, we have the Health Ministry creating policy within weeks to prevent NJ from potentially sponging off the system. As submitter JK notes, “What follows is article on why 厚生労働省 feels the need to clamp down on those untrustworthy foreigners; never mind about the lack of data.”

    Well, that’s proactive policymaking in Japan. In the same way that anti-terrorism policy that targets foreigners only was proactive (although it took a few years to draft and enact). Here, the bureaucrats could just do it with a few penstrokes and call it a “clarification”, without having to go through the pesky political process.

    But the assumption is, once again, that a) foreigners are untrustworthy and need extra background checks, and b) any policy that might do something nice for the Japanese public needs to be carefully considered by viewing it through the “foreigner prism”, for who knows what those people might do to take advantage of our rich system? “What-if” panicky hypotheticals without any data win the debate and govern policymaking towards NJ again.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 14 Comments »

    More Juuminhyou idiocies: Dogs now allowed Residency Certificates in Tokyo Itabashi-ku. But not NJ residents, of course.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 8th April 2010 Reader KC just submitted two articles (I had heard about this, but was busy with other stuff and neglected to blog it, sorry) about Tokyo Itabashi-ku giving Residency Certificates (juuminhyou) to dogs. Fine, but how about foreigners? They are still not allowed to get their own.

    For those who came in late, brief background on the issue: NJ get a different registry certificate, are not automatically listed on their families’ Residency Certificates unless they request it and only if the bureaucrat in charge believes they are “effective head of household”, and are not counted as “residents” anyway in some population tallies despite paying residency taxes). Japan is the only country I know of (and definitely the only developed country) requiring citizenship for residency. This is said to be changing by 2012. But I won’t cheer this legal “vaporware” until after it happens, and it still comes after the humiliation of long allowing sea mammals and cartoon characters their own residency certificates overnight. To wit: 自治体は動物や架空の存在に住民票を発行する(『たまちゃん』横浜(2003)、『鉄腕アトム』新座市(2003)、『クレヨンしんちゃん』日下部市(2004)、『クーちゃん』釧路市(2009)など。More on the issue here.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, 日本語 | 27 Comments »


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


    1) UN CERD Recommendations to GOJ Mar 2010 CERD/C/JPN/CO/3-6, takes up our issues well
    2) FRANCA meeting with UN Rep Bustamante yesterday: How it went, with photos
    3) Table of Contents of FRANCA information folder to UN Rep Bustamante, Mar 23
    4) Japan Times: UN Rep Bustamante meets Calderon Noriko, comments on GOJ harsh visa system that separates families
    5) Assn of Korean Human Rights RYOM Munsong’s speech text to UN Rep Bustamante, Mar 23
    6) Mar 31 UN Rep Bustamante’s Full Press Release on Japan’s Human Rights Record
    7) Download audio podcast of UN Rep Bustamante Mar 31 press conference

    8 ) FRANCA Sendai Meeting Proceedings, Photos and Project Ideas
    9) Mar 27 2010 NGO FRANCA Tokyo meeting minutes
    10) NGO Japan Immigration Policy Institute requests information from, meetings with NJ Residents
    11) March 29, 2010 FRANCA/JIPI speech on why Japan needs immigration: Download my powerpoint presentation (Japanese)
    12) Going back: Japanese porkbarrel airports as “infrastructure in a vacuum”,
    and how JR duped me into buying a train ticket to nowhere

    … and finally …
    13) Japan Times prints my speech to UN Rep Bustamante on “blind spot” re Japan immigrants

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column April 6, 2010 prints my speech to UN Rep Bustamante on “blind spot” re Japan immigrants

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


    In light of all the above, the Japanese government’s stance towards the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is easily summarized: The Ainu, Ryukyuans and burakumin are citizens, therefore they don’t fall under the CERD 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 either. Thus, our government effectively argues, the CERD does not cover anyone in Japan.

    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 U.N. for investigating our cases. On March 16, the CERD Committee issued some very welcome recommendations in its review. However, may I point out that the U.N. still made a glaring oversight.

    During the committee’s questioning of Japan last Feb. 24 and 25, very little mention was made of the CERD’s “unenforcement” in Japan’s judiciary and criminal code. Furthermore, almost no mention was made of “Japanese only” signs, the most indefensible violations of the CERD.

    Both Japan and the U.N. have a blind spot in how they perceive Japan’s minorities. Newcomers are 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, and 2) Japan has few ethnically diverse Japanese citizens.

    Time for an update. Look at me. I am a Japanese. 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. When the U.N. makes their recommendations, please have them reflect how Japan must face up to its multicultural society. Please recognize us newcomers as a permanent part of the debate.

    The Japanese government will not. It says little positive about us, and allows very nasty things to be said by our politicians, policymakers and police. It’s about time we all recognized the good that newcomers are doing for our home, Japan. Please help us.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Speech materials, United Nations | 5 Comments »

    Japan Times on a “Non-Japanese Only” sushi restaurant in Okinawa

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

    I had heard numerous reports about a place down in Okinawa that turned away Japanese customers (or, rather, charged them an exorbitant fee for membership) in favor of NJ. It made print today in the Japan Times Zeit Gist Column. Excerpted here.

    Now, while I can’t personally condone this activity, I will admit I have been waiting for somebody to come along and do this just to put the shoe on the other foot. Let’s see how people who defended the exclusionism of “troublemakers” who just happened to be foreign-looking (hiya Gregory Clark) in the Otaru Onsens Case, react to somebody excluding “troublemakers” who just happen to be Japanese. And watch the hypocrisy and “Japanese as perpetual victim” arguments blossom.

    If this winds up getting “Japanese Only” signs down everywhere, this will have been a useful exercise. Somehow, I don’t think it will, however. Japanese in Japan are never supposed to be on the losing end of a debate on NJ issues.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Exclusionism, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept. | 28 Comments »

    A personal hero, Chong Hyang Gyun, retires her nursing post at 60

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

    Although I like to devote Mondays to “bigger news”, I’d like to take this day to salute a personal hero of mine, former nurse Chong Hyang Gyun, a Zainichi Korean who, like any other qualified civil servant in Japan, expected to be promoted commensurate with her experience and dedication.

    But not in Japan. She in 1994 was denied even the opportunity to sit the administrative civil service exam because, despite her being born in Japan, raised in Japan, a native speaker of Japanese, and a taxpayer in and contributor to Japan like any other, she was still, in the eyes of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, a “foreigner”, therefore not to be trusted with administrative power over Japanese (the old “Nationality Clause”, kokuseki joukou, struck again).

    So she sued for the right to sit the exam nearly twenty years ago. Over more than ten years she lost, won, then ultimately lost in the Supreme Court, which, in a landmark setback for civil rights and assimilation, ruled there was nothing unconstitutional in denying her the right to chose her occupation and employment opportunities.

    Now she’s retired as of April 1 (although rehired and working fewer hours). I’m just grateful that she tried. Some occupations are completely denied to NJ, including public-sector food preparation (for fear that NJ might poison our bureaucrats) and firefighting (for fear that NJ entering Japanese houses and perhaps damaging Japanese property might cause an international incident), that it becomes ludicrous for NJ to even consider a public-service job in Japan.(*) Especially if the “glass ceiling” (in fact, an iron barrier, thanks to the Supreme Court) means you can never reach your potential. The Chong-san Case made that clear, to Japan’s shame.

    Posted in Exclusionism, Injustice, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Lawsuits | 5 Comments »

    Sunday Tangent: Japanese porkbarrel airports as “infrastructure in a vacuum”, and how JR duped me into buying a train ticket to nowhere

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

    Weekend tangent: Here’s a funny little story about an adventure I had yesterday getting to Hanamaki Airport from Tokyo in order to fly back to Sapporo (long story). It turns out that the JR train station labelled “Hanamaki Airport Station” doesn’t actually go to Hanamaki Airport. In fact, no public transportation, save specially-prepared busses to Morioka, actually service the airport. It’s one fascinating example of how porkbarrel politics create infrastructure in a vacuum in Japan, and how Japan Railways duped me into buying a ticket to nowhere.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Tangents | 10 Comments »

    Mainichi: Supreme Court defamation ruling sounds warning bell over online responsibility

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

    Take that, 2-Channel. Mainichi: Just because a piece of information is published on the Internet, viewers do not necessarily deem it to be of low credibility. So ruled the Supreme Court recently in a defamation suit in which a man was accused of slandering a restaurant operator on his own Web site, saying that the company was affiliated with a cult.

    The top’s court’s ruling secures a guilty verdict that ordered the man to pay 300,000 yen in compensation. It was the first ruling to confirm that the conditions for establishing defamation were not relaxed on the Internet.

    Considering that people are often slandered, have their privacy violated, and sometimes even suffer human rights violations on the Internet — where users can post comments anonymously — the Supreme Court’s decision can be deemed appropriate.

    Posted in Human Rights, Injustice, 2ちゃんねる, 日本語 | 5 Comments »

    Fun Facts #14: JK provides budgetary stats to show why current immigration-resistant regime is unsustainable

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

    Frequent commenter and contributor to JK offers a follow-up about a recent article featured here on, about the NJ nurse import program (one that as of this time is doomed to become yet another revolving-door visa program). He offers some “Fun Facts”, as in budgetary statistics, about why the current visa regime discouraging labor imports but not immigration is unsustainable. Read on.

    Posted in Fun Facts, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 7 Comments »

    Japan Times: Arudou Debito gives up on activism due to poverty

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

    (Sapporo) April 1: Activist Debito Arudou announced in a press conference today that he will be hanging up his gloves and quitting activism.

    “It sucks to support the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” Debito was quoted as saying. “I’m tired of being a poor, huddling mass breathing for free.”

    Debito claimed dire poverty. “Money (that’s what I want),” he said, citing the Beatles.

    “From now on, I’m going to be a Japanese government shill, representing our incorruptible, self-sacrificing, and endearing bureaucrats as a bridge to explain our country’s noble and altruistic motives to the rest of the world. We are unique, after all. That line pays better.”

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Humor, Ironies & Hypocrisies | 24 Comments »


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