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

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Hi Blog.  Bringing this old article up as a matter of record:  I mentioned on Debito.org 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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Held despite acquittal, now barred from re-entry, woman slams legal system
The Japan Times, Friday, Oct. 10, 2008, courtesy of MMT (excerpt)

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20081010a3.html

CHIBA (Kyodo) A Swiss woman who was detained by Japanese authorities for seven months after being acquitted of a drug charge expressed anger over the Japanese legal system in a recent written message to Kyodo News.

“I was put under continuous detention because of shortfalls in Japanese law and alien policies,” wrote Klaudia Zaberl. “I have been filled with despair and anger.”

Upon arriving in Japan from Malaysia as a tourist in October 2006, Zaberl, 29, was arrested for allegedly smuggling about 2.2 kg of amphetamines hidden in a suitcase into Narita airport.

She denied the allegation, saying she was not aware the suitcase she had been handed by a stranger in return for money contained the drugs, but was later indicted.

The Chiba District Court cleared Zaberl of the charge in August 2007, saying there was reasonable doubt she was aware of the drugs.

However, following the ruling she was transferred to an immigration facility instead of being freed, as her visa had expired during her detention.

Prosecutors soon appealed the ruling and obtained court permission to detain her again to block her deportation.

In April, the Tokyo High Court ruled that she was not guilty of the charges, leading prosecutors to drop the case. She returned to Switzerland later in April.

Rest of the article at: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20081010a3.html

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

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Hi Blog.  As a holiday post (enjoy your first shard of Golden Week, everyone), here’s an excerpt of one person’s essay in the JT calling for change in Japan’s approach to the world.  Much of what is said there has been said here.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo.

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For Japan to thrive, the wall must come down
By ROBERT DUJARRIC, Director, Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University, Japan Campus
Special to The Japan Times, Wednesday, April 14, 2010, Courtesy of Kevin

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/rss/eo20100414a2.html

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.

Rest of the article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/rss/eo20100414a2.html

ENDS

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

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Hi Blog.  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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Begin forwarded message:

From: ジオス 法人営業部 加瀬 <junichiro_kase@geos-gci.jp>
Date: April 27, 2010 2:32:25 PM GMT+09:00
To: 法人営業部(中部) 加瀬 <junichiro_kase@geos-gci.jp>
Subject: 【【Notice to all GCI corporate class teachers】】

Dear all my hard working staff.

With the absolutely regrettable news of the bankruptcy of Geos Corp, I must tell you that your salaries for the time period between 2010, March 16th to 2010. April 21st Will NOT be paid to you. There isn’t any cash left. We will work on a way for you all to collect some of your money back through the government. We are still unsure of the procedures to do this.

G-Education has offered to take over the Geos Corporate sales Division and resume all corporate class operations from the May 6th 2010. However it will be under the new payroll system as follows:

  • All previously negotiated hourly/rates between the GCI and part-time teachers will remain in effect.
  • New Payment period will be as follows: For work done between 5/1 and 5/31+ transportation expenses  will be paid on 6/21. For work done between 6/1 and 6/30+ transportation expenses  will be paid on 7/20. etc.
  • Paydays will now be on the 20th of the month or previous business day should the 20th of the month fall on Nat. Holiday or weekend.

At this point the GCI has been completely decimated. Our clients are outraged and my teachers left on stand by.  Myself and Terakawa-san have made a gentlemens agreement to try and salvage and rebuild our perfectly-functioning, profitable corporate class system. We are giving ourselves 3 months to do it, or we will eat our hats.

What we need from all of my precious teachers is an agreement that you would like to continue your classes with Myself and Terakawa-san at the helm. Could you please respond to me by email  “Yes” or “No” If you respond “No” I hold no hard feelings against you and I would hope to work with you again in the future when other opportunities arise.  DEADLINE FOR RESPONSE WILL BE MAY 5TH 2010. And we hope to resume operations immediately after golden week.

At your service

Junichiro KASE
G-Education (GEOS Corporate Classes Division)

Junichiro_kase@geos-gci.jp

ジオス 法人営業部/加瀬淳一郎

連絡先; 080-3440-6397

————————————————-

旧ジオス法人営業部の固定電話は不通になっております。

新しい連絡先は別途お知らせいたしますので、

恐れ入りますが今しばらくお待ち下さい。

————————————————-

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 24, 2010

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Hi Blog. Forgot to blog this. Enjoy. Debito in Sapporo

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 24, 2010

Table of Contents
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PROACTIVE POLICYMAKING TOWARDS NJ
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.

ISSUES RESPARKED
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 Debito.org’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

TANGENTS
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) Debito.org Poll: “Do you think ‘Little Black Sambo’ should be in print and in educational institutions in Japan?”
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By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org) in Sapporo, Japan
Freely Forwardable

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PROACTIVE POLICYMAKING TOWARDS NJ

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6564

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

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 Debito.org 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6509

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

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 and delay based on their NAME, would he have done the same to one of the many Japanese people who don’t have any NJ heritage, 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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=6506

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

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?

http://www.debito.org/?p=6448

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5) Asahi: J companies abandoning old hiring and promotion practices, offering NJ employees equitable positions. Come again?

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6426

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6) Eurobiz Japan Magazine Jan 2010 Interview of JIPI’s Sakanaka Hidenori

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.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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6367

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

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 Debito.org’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” to Non-Japanese visitors without a permanent Japanese residence and display their passport.

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

http://www.debito.org/?p=6579

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ISSUES RESPARKED

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6485

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9) FCCJ Press Conf on Ghanian death while being deported, 2 more deaths in Ibaraki Detention Ctr

PRESS CONFERENCE
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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6511

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6572

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11) GhanaWeb: Suraj apparently a son of a Ghanian Prince

NB: I make no claims for the accuracy of this article. Spelling, tone, and the victim’s name (the wife’s name is the same, however) all detract from the lending of legitimacy. However, if true, we’re more likely to see action on this case than average:

Ghanaian Prince Dies In Custody of Japanese Immigration
Diasporian News of Tuesday, 30 March 2010 (excerpt)

The family of a Ghanaian prince from a royal home up north, who died in the custody of Japanese Immigration, is calling for full investigations into how their son died, since they believe that he was killed by the authorities in Japan!

Additionally they have called for a repatriation of the body to Ghana as well as full compensation for the killing, if it is established that he died unlawfully.

In an interview with members of his family in Accra yesterday, March 29, 2010, they said that Awudu Samad Abubakar, popularly known as ‘Mac Barry’ was a resident of Japan, and died in the capital town of Japan; Tokyo, while under the detention of the Japanese immigration on Sunday, 21st March, 2010.

According to the family, the corpse of Awudu Samad Abubakar was subsequently rejected by his Japanese wife, when the immigration called her to come for the corpse of her husband. The reason his wife gave was that she had been doing everything possible for the release of her husband but all her actions did not yield any positive results and that they should bare their own cross.

http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/diaspora/artikel.php?ID=179482

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12) Japan Times on “Little Black Sambo” controversy, cites Debito.org’s parody “Little Yellow J*p”

The Japan Times this week published a very nicely-considered article on something brought up on Debito.org 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 J*p”. That has occasioned cries of “racism” by the noncognizant. But the Japan Times essayist below gets it. Excerpt of article follows.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6488

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6466

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14) Kyodo: Japan’s depopulation accelerates in 2009

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6518

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TANGENTS

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6579

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16) Sumo Suits Controversy in Canada

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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=6432

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17) NJ and Abandoned Konketsuji Negishi Cemetery in Yokohama; photos included

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). Debito.org 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 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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=6446

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

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:

http://www.debito.org/?p=6468

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… and finally…

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

Options:
===========================================

  • Naturally. Freedom of speech and press.
  • Of course. There’s nothing wrong with the book itself.
  • Not unless there is some grounding in historical context.
  • No, I don’t think race relations in Japan are sophisticated enough to understand the issues behind it.
  • Definitely not. This book should not be in print anywhere.
  • Something else.
  • Don’t know, don’t care, not sure etc.

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

Vote on any blog page at www.debito.org

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That’s all for this month! Enjoy Golden Week! Let’s hope things finally warm up!
Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 24, 2010 ENDS

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

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.  Good news from the GOJ today.  There is a concerted effort to help NJ learn the language so they can live here.  About time.  Not clear who’s paying for it — the students or the governments.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Gov’t drafts guidelines for teaching Japanese to foreign residents
(Mainichi Japan) April 16, 2010 Courtesy JK

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20100416p2g00m0dm004000c.html

TOKYO (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 main types are subdivided into 48 categories in which recommended words and phrases are situated in more concrete scenarios such as how to use trains and medicines in Japan.

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.

The draft, due to be submitted shortly to the Japanese language division of the Council for Cultural Affairs, estimates that the total learning period under the proposed guidelines would be around 60 hours.

“(The curriculum) would mean a great deal if it serves to demonstrate the government’s intention to support foreigners living in Japan for a long period,” says Takeshi Yoshitani, a professor who heads Tokyo Gakugei University’s Center for Research in International Education.

Public support will be necessary for foreign residents to secure the 60 hours of learning, he added.

(Mainichi Japan) April 16, 2010
ENDS

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

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.  To kick off this week, some important economic news.  As the air keeps going out of the Japanese economy, we have world rankers of companies noting Japan’s comparative slippage.  Forbes has its say below (compare with a decade ago).  This might be a temporary blip, or Japan (particularly Toyota) might rise from the ashes again (good luck on that), but in any case this news isn’t good.  And it’s one more bellwether to me of the unsustainability (not just “souring”) of the system here in Japan.  It will not only affect Japan’s standing as Asia’s “representative” to the world (hello China and its even less liberal human rights policies), but also Japan’s self image and it’s ability to cope with the outside world (and the residents from the outside world who live here).  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Toyota plummets to 360th in Forbes ranking
Japan Times/Kyodo Friday, April 23, 2010

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20100423a3.html

NEW YORK (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.

The sharp drop came after the automaker was hit by a spate of recalls worldwide and a decline in sales amid the global auto market slump.

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.

China, moving in the opposite direction, had seven firms in the top 100, with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China ranked fifth.

JPMorgan Chase topped the rankings, followed by General Electric and Bank of America.

Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20100423a3.html

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

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

Hi Blog.  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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Mark in Yayoi writes:

Hey Debito, a bill just signed in Arizona:

http://abcnews.go.com/WN/obama-arizona-immigration-bill-misguided/story?id=10457567

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

Arizona’s Gov. Brewer Signs Controversial Immigration Bill

Brewer Says Law is Necessary to Solve a ‘Crisis,’ But Obama Calls Bill ‘Misguided’

By DEVIN DWYER and HUMA KHAN

ABC NEWS April 23, 2010 — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a controversial immigration bill into law today that will give local law enforcement greater authority to ferret out and arrest illegal immigrants.

Immediately before signing the bill into law, Brewer said that the legislation “represents another tool for our state to use as we work to solve a crisis that we did not create and that the federal government refuses to fix.”

“We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act,” Brewer said. “But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.”

The bill takes effect in 90 days after the current legislative sessions over the next several weeks.

“I firmly believe [the law] represents what’s best for Arizona,” said Brewer. “Border-related violence and crime due to illegal immigration are critically important issues for the people of our state, to my administration, and to me as your governor and as a citizen.”

The signing came just a few hours after President Obama harshly criticized the legislation, calling it “misguided.” The president also instructed the Justice Department to examine the Arizona law to see if it would violate civil rights.

Obama criticized the bill at a naturalization ceremony in the White House Rose Garden for active duty service members from 24 countries.

The president said if Congress fails to enact comprehensive immigration reform at the national level, “We will continue to see misguided efforts opening up around the country.”

The absence of a federal resolution of the controversial issue, he said, “opens the door to irresponsibility by others,” and he cited “the recent efforts in Arizona, which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.”

So far this year, Congress and the administration have made little progress in advancing legislation on the issue.

Outside Capitol Building, Crowds Protest Decision

After the signing, crowds outside of the state capitol building erupted in anger. Carrying signs and American flags, they marched nearby, protesting the governor’s decision.

Brewer defended the law against claims that it is discriminatory, saying that she had worked for weeks to rework the language to strengthen civil rights protections. The governor also issued an executive order to develop training for state law enforcement to prevent racial discrimination or profiling.

“As committed as I am to protecting our state from crime associated with illegal immigration, I am equally committed to holding law enforcement accountable should this statue ever be misused to violate an individual’s rights,” she said.

The Arizona law makes it a crime under state law to be in the U.S. illegally and allows police to arrest and question suspected undocumented persons about their status without a warrant. It also criminalizes the transporting of an illegal immigrant anywhere in the state, even if by a family member.

Brewer, who faces a tough Republican primary in August, signed the same bill that former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, vetoed three times.

Brewer was under intense pressure to not sign the legislation. Civil rights groups have decried the sweeping measure as opening the door to racial profiling and sowing distrust between Hispanics and the law enforcement groups charged with keeping them safe. Others said the law will pull resources from fighting more-serious crimes.

Thousands of people wrote or called the governor’s office, with a 10-to-one majority opposing the bill, a spokeswoman said.

“I don’t think anything has been this extreme until this point,” said Bridgette Gomez, a 24-year-old math tutor. “The evil is racial profiling, to think that you’re going to always have to show identification. Because I’m tan, I must be illegal.”

But supporters of the law, including U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have said it will help solve an illegal immigration crisis the federal government so far has not acted swiftly enough to contain.

Ariz. Immigration Bill Supporters Say They’re Enforcing Law

“Illegal is illegal,” said the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Russell Pearce. “We’ll have less crime. We’ll have lower taxes. We’ll have safer neighborhoods. We’ll have shorter lines in the emergency rooms. We’ll have smaller classrooms.”

An estimated 10.8 million immigrants live illegally in the U.S., according to the most recent Department of Homeland Security figures. About 460,000 live inside Arizona’s borders. Now that the Arizona bill has become law, it likely will face constitutional challenges.

President Obama said he’s instructed the Justice Department to “closely monitor” the situation and “examine the civilian rights” and other implications of the legislation.

The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) and other groups are also preparing to challenge the legislation.

“The Constitution is pretty clear about having one set of rules,” said Thomas A. Saenz, general counsel and president of MALDEF. “Now, you have the state of Arizona coming along and creating an obstacle to federally mandated priorities.”

Still, state Sen. Pearce, a former deputy in the Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office, which is known for cracking down on illegal immigrants, said he’s merely trying to enforce law that’s already on the books.

“Illegal is not a race. It’s a crime. And in Arizona, we’re going to enforce the law … without apologies,” he said. “It’s just that simple.”

Vulnerable to Legal Challenges?

California attempted to pass a similar measure in 1994 — Proposition 187 — that was designed to keep illegal immigrants from using health, education and other social services.

Even though it passed, it was struck down by a federal court on the basis of constitutionality.

Similar legal challenges against Arizona are inevitable, Saenz said, and it will likely end up costing the state millions of dollars.

“Arizona is going to face very serious consequences if it enacts it,” Saenz said, comparing it to the experience in California, where the legislation was a “tremendously wasteful diversion of resources.”

“There was a palpable impact on international trade to California, in particular,” Saenz said. “It became clear over time that Mexican companies began to take their commerce through Texas and other border states because of pervasive hostility.”

But it’s high time states step up to the plate and do something about illegal immigrants, Pearce said.

“I would think this is a great opportunity to codify states’ inherent authority,” he said. “We created the federal government. We’re in charge. Constitutionally, we have inherent authority. It’s time to step up to the plate and start enforcing the law.”

This is not the first time Arizona’s state laws have come under fire. In 2005, the state made smuggling humans a state crime, and in 2007, it prohibited employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.

Earlier this week, the state House voted for a provision that would require President Obama to show his birth certificate if he wants to be on the state’s ballot in the next presidential election.

Before the signing, protesters had hoped to build grassroots momentum to convince Gov. Brewer to veto the bill — an effort that ultimately failed.

“You hear story after story of youth that don’t find out until they’re 16 that they are undocumented because their parents didn’t tell them,” said Alicia Contreras, 26, a student at Arizona State University. “Arizona is ground zero for these type of immigration laws, and as a youth — high school, college students — we need to come together.”

ENDS

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

It looks like the state of Arizona is going to become exactly like the nation of Japan when it comes to immigrants and their civil liberties.  Mandatory carrying of papers, police empowered to question people and demand papers, punishment up to 6 months in jail and $2500 fine.

Obama has already spoken out against it.  (Imagine a prime minister doing that here!)

Provisions of the law here:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=10463049

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

Key Provisions of Arizona Immigration Legislation

Key provisions of Arizona immigration legislation signed into law by governor

The Associated Press

Key provisions of Arizona’s immigration legislation, signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday:

— Makes it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally by specifically requiring immigrants to have proof of their immigration status. Violations are a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Repeat offenses would be a felony.

— Requires police officers to “make a reasonable attempt” to determine the immigration status of a person if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that he or she is an illegal immigrant. Race, color or national origin may not be the only things considered in implementation. Exceptions can be made if the attempt would hinder an investigation.

— Allow lawsuits against local or state government agencies that have policies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws. Would impose daily civil fines of $1,000-$5,000. There is pending follow-up legislation to halve the minimum to $500.

— Targets hiring of illegal immigrants as day laborers by prohibiting people from stopping a vehicle on a road to offer employment and by prohibiting a person from getting into a stopped vehicle on a street to be hired for work if it impedes traffic.

— The law will take effect by late July or early August.

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

It’s as if they copied this stuff straight out of NPA guidelines!

This really is disgusting.  Commenters on the two stories don’t seem to be cognizant of the plight of legal immigrants who don’t yet have US nationality (perhaps because with dual nationality being allowed in the US, there’s no reason to remain a “foreigner” if you’re long-term), and are focusing only on the difference between US citizens and illegals.

Fortunately, people are protesting it already, both online and in the real world.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the inevitable falsely-accused people.  Hopefully the news outlets won’t drop the story.  MIY
/////////////////////////////////////////////

From Times Online (London)
April 22, 2010
Arizona Bill ‘puts racial profiling into law’
Giles Whittell, Washington, Courtesy of AI

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article7104230.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093

An anti-immigration law condemned as a licence for racial profiling is expected to come into force in Arizona within the next 48 hours. The law would be the first in the US to give police the power to stop citizens and demand proof of legal residence in the US merely on suspicion of not carrying appropriate papers.

Arizona’s Republican Governor, under pressure from right-wing rivals for her job, has until Saturday afternoon to sign or veto the measure. The Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, a leading champion of immigration reform, has denounced it as a mandate for “German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques” of snooping and betrayal.

Up to ten other states are said to be considering similar laws as pressure mounts on the Republican Right and along America’s southern border for state-based immigration crackdowns in the absence of federal immigration reform.

The Arizona Bill would make it a crime for legal immigrants not to carry their alien registration papers, and would allow police to arrest those unable to produce them — potentially upending the presumption of innocence underpinning US law and the principle that its enforcement should be colour-blind.

“It basically puts racial profiling into law,” a spokeswoman for the Senate Democrats in the Arizona state assembly told The Times yesterday.

One of the measure’s Republican sponsors, Representative John Kavanagh, called it “a comprehensive immigration enforcement bill that addresses the concerns of our communities, constituents and colleagues … gives our local police officers the tools they need to combat illegal immigration”.

The progress of the hugely controversial Bill through the state assembly has been closely watched throughout the country, and helped by a wave of anger over the murder of an Arizona rancher 20 miles from the Mexican border last month. Robert Krentz, 58, was gunned down on his own property by an unknown assailant whom police assume was an illegal immigrant involved in a drug-smuggling operation.

In a sign of the pressure on moderate conservatives to be seen to get tough on illegal immigration in an election year, Senator John McCain, once a champion of progressive immigration reform, has stunned former colleagues by endorsing the Bill. “The state of Arizona is acting and doing what it feels it needs to do in light of the fact that the federal government is not fulfilling its fundamental responsibility — to secure our borders,” he told Fox News as the measure was approved by the State Assembly on Monday.

The Bill also has the support of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, the senior law enforcement official in the Phoenix area, who has gloried for decades in the unofficial title of “America’s toughest cop”. Mr Arpaio has courted sanction by federal authorities for years by encouraging his deputies to stop those they suspect of being illegal immigrants and demand to see their papers.

Arizona has the highest per capita population of undocumented aliens, with 460,000 at the latest estimate. Cardinal Mahoney has called the new Bill “the country’s most retrogressive, mean-spirited and useless anti-immigrant law”.

The Arizona state assembly has invited further controversy by granting initial approval to a Bill that would require President Obama to submit his birth certificate before having his name entered on ballot papers for the 2012 presidential election.

Accusations that Mr Obama was not born in the US and is therefore not eligible for the Presidency have lingered in the blogosphere since his candidacy gained national traction in 2007. As a matter of record, he was born on August 4, 1961, in Hawaii where his birth certificate is on file. His campaign has released a certified scanned copy of the certificate but some 40 per cent of Americans remain doubtful or unsure where he was born, according to polls.
ENDS

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

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

Hi Blog.  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.  More on the NJ Blame Game here.

But I gotta admit, I’ve never seen oral hygiene — as in more cavities — pinned on NJ before!  Read on.  What’s next:  Traffic lights staying red for too long?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

KYA writes:
I saw this on the TV news today, it’s not really a legal issue or anything but it’s a little bit ridiculous and a little bit offensive:

【社会】
3歳児の虫歯激減 都内、歯磨き習慣定着
東京新聞 2010年4月21日 07時17分
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/s/article/2010042190071508.html
東京都内に住む三歳児の虫歯の罹患(りかん)率が、十年前のおよそ三人に一人から、二〇〇八年度で六人に一人まで減っていることが、都のまとめで分かった。四十年前に十人中七人に虫歯があったのに比べ大幅な減少。ただ、地域的にはまだばらつきがあり、都は「歯の健康」に関心を持つよう呼び掛ける。
〇〇年に策定した都の歯科保健目標が最終年度にあたることから、〇八年度の三歳児歯科検診を分析。その結果、虫歯がある三歳児は17%にとどまり、一九九八年度の30%から大幅に減っていた。
都福祉保健局によると、七一年度には虫歯がある三歳児は71%もいたが、歯磨き習慣の定着や虫歯予防のフッ化物塗布の広がりなどで年々減少。八五年度に初めて五割を切り、その後も全区市町村でなだらかな減少傾向が続いていた。都の担当者は「数の減少だけでなく、症状も軽くなっている」という。
一方、自治体別にみた場合、最も良い千代田区が9%だったのに対し、対象人数が少ない町村を除くと福生市が最悪の28%。区内では唯一、足立区が二割を超え22%だった。
福生市の担当者は「在住外国人が比較的多く、ジュースを日常的に飲むなどの食習慣が影響しているのでは」とし、足立区の担当者は「理由ははっきり分からないが、多くの親子に、歯科衛生の学習会への参加を促したい」としている。
二〇〇八年度で首都圏の虫歯がある三歳児の割合は、神奈川が20%、埼玉が24%、千葉が26%だった。
(東京新聞)

Fussa’s got the highest percentage of 3 year olds with cavities in Tokyo, and the “person in charge” has decided to blame that on the fact that there are a lot of NJ residents in Fussa who “give their kids juice on a daily basis.”

Given the proximity of Fussa to the Yokota base, however, I’d be willing to bet that a lot of those NJ in Fussa that they’re talking about are American… and American children tend to have MUCH better teeth than their Japanese counterparts. Many Americans are almost paranoid about dental health these days… and on the other hand, Fussa is also one of the less expensive areas of Tokyo, I’d bet that a lot of those cavities can be ascribed to lower-income families who just can’t or won’t spend the money on dental visits and fluoride treatments, etc.

I’m not sure whether to laugh at this or be offended by it… since the terrible teeth of Japanese children are quite the popular conversation topic among the American eikaiwa teachers that I’ve known, it seems ironic at the least. ENDS

“Pinprick Protests” #1: GOJ authorities finally telling hotels correct enforcement procedures for NJ check-ins. Pity it only took five 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.  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 Debito.org’s comments section:

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

JayIII Says:
April 22nd, 2010

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.

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

Yes, quite. The law, when it took effect on April 1, 2005, said that NJ guests who had no addresses in Japan (as in tourists) would have to show their passports at all hotels in Japan (this was an “anti-terrorist and contagious disease measure“, problematic in itself; Japanese guests, then as now, need show no ID). The NPA and the MHLW then, deliberately and repeatedlydespite articles in the media, an inquest by the US Government, and various “pinprick protests” by individuals at check in who are aware of the letter of the law — bent the laws to say that all NJ (as in “foreign guests“), must be IDed, and some hotels (such as Toyoko Inn) used this as an excuse to refuse NJ customers entry. As determining who was a “foreign guest” was a matter of physical appearance to many hotels, this led to nationwide racial profiling, inconvenience, and insult (as not all people who look NJ are tourists, naturally).  All sponsored by authorities refusing to enforce their own laws properly.

Now, it seems, cops and ministries are finally giving hotels the correct information, and no longer bending the laws to target all NJ. Good. Pity it only took five years for the GOJ to knock it off.  And I bet it’s not a universal thing at hotels yet, so expect a bit more harassment at check-in.

Download the hotel laws here and continue the “pinprick protests” whenever necessary.  It works.  Over time.  What it takes is informedness, tenacity, and patience.   And the will to believe that we are not merely “foreign guests”, but rather people who have rights in Japan and the will to claim them.  For it is people who do NOT protest who get walked all over by the powers that be, as this case study demonstrates.

More suggestions for “pinprick protests” later.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Kyodo: Japan’s depopulation accelerates in 2009

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Hi Blog.  As demographics accelerate their downward spiral, it becomes clearer day by day that the status quo is unsustainable and immigration is inevitable.  More fodder for that argument follows.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

No. of Japanese aged over 65 at record high
Kyodo News/Japan Today Saturday 17th April 2010,
Courtesy of MMT and many others
http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/no-of-japanese-aged-over-65-at-record-high

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.

By contrast, the percentage of children aged 14 and below has fallen to 13.3%—the lowest proportion among 27 countries with populations of more than 40 million, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said in an annual report.

That compares with a child population of 20% in the U.S., and 13% for those aged 65 and over.

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.

Japan’s working-age population—those aged between 15 to 64—accounted for 63.9%, the lowest proportion since the 1950s, the report said. The comparable figure in the U.S. is 67%.

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.

ENDS

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

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

Hi Blog.  As I reported last week, the FCCJ had a press conference yesterday on the Suraj Case, where a Ghanian man died while being deported last March.  Details on the cause of death are unclear, but Immigration acknowledges that handcuffs were used, and a towel in Suraj’s mouth were involved.

What I find noteworthy is not only the circumstances (which allegedly, according to the Suraj group press release, involves other NJ deaths in Immigration custody), but also the courts’ reasoning when overruling a stay of deportation:
=================================
Japan Times: “In February 2008, the Tokyo District Court ruled the deportation order be waived. But in March 2009, the Tokyo High Court repealed the district court’s ruling on grounds the couple was childless and the wife was economically independent…”
=================================

So if they had children and she was a dependent housewife, then he could have stayed in Japan?  Their marriage counts for nothing otherwise?  Not sure I get it.

Article follows. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

////////////////////////////////////////////////////
The Japan Times Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Wife presses for details in death of deportee (excerpt)
By MINORU MATSUTANI Staff writer

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100421a4.html

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.

Suraj’s wife is considering suing the government, but she and Kodama are holding off pending further evidence of malpractice by immigration officers.

“Lawyers have no authority to collect evidence, and thus we have to wait for police to disclose evidence,” he said.

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100421a4.html

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「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
Hi Blog. They say that as you age, you become a caricature of yourself, as the mind becomes more inflexible and lifelong habits and ideologies become ingrained.

But then there are those who turn mean and nasty, if not outright insane. And I believe Tokyo Governor Ishihara has finally turned from a committed politician to a politician who should be committed.

Debito.org Reader GS puts it well when he writes:
///////////////////////////////////////////

Hi Debito, Anti-suffrage rightists say they are against suffrage for permanent residents because “foreigners can naturalize if they want equal rights with Japanese.” Well, now Governor Ishihara is using “naturalized” as an epithet to smear members of the ruling cabinet as untrustworthy.

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

外国人参政権「先祖へ義理立てか」 石原知事が与党批判
朝日新聞 2010年4月18日11時2分
http://www.asahi.com/politics/update/0418/TKY201004170390.html
石原慎太郎・東京都知事は17日、東京・大手町のホールであった永住外国人への地方参政権付与などに反対する集会で、親などが帰化した与党幹部が多いとした上で、「ご先祖への義理立てか知らないが、日本の運命を左右する法律をまかり通そうとしている」と発言した。

石原知事は、出席した自民党の地方議員ら約450人に「帰化された人や、お父さんお母さんが帰化された、そのお子さんという議員はいますか」と質問。「与党を形成しているいくつかの政党の党首とか、大幹部は多い」と話した。

石原知事はこれまでも、地方参政権付与反対を繰り返し発言しており、この日は「参院選では、まさに外国人に参政権を与えるか与えないかが問題になる」とも述べた。

石原知事は、出席した自民党の地方議員ら約450人に「帰化された人や、お父さんお母さんが帰化された、そのお子さんという議員はいますか」と質問。「与党を形成しているいくつかの政党の党首とか、大幹部は多い」と話した。

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

福島・社民党首が石原都知事の発言の撤回求める
2010年4月19日11時58分配信 産経新聞
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20100419-00000532-san-pol

社民党の福島瑞穂党首(消費者・少子化担当相)は19日、国会内で記者会見し、東京都の石原慎太郎知事が17日の外国人地方参政権の反対集会で、名 指しこそ避けたものの与党党首の中に帰化した人がいるという趣旨の発言をしたことについて「私も、私の両親も帰化したものではない」と否定した。

その上で、「私は外国人地方参政権には一貫して賛成してきた。政治家の政治信条を帰化したからだという事実誤認に基づいて説明することは、私の政治 信条をゆがめ、踏みにじるものだ」と述べ、石原氏に発言の撤回を求めた。

石原氏は17日の「全国地方議員決起集会」で、「この中に帰化された人、お父さん、お母さんが帰化され、そのお子さんいますか。与党を形成している いくつかの政党の党首とか、与党の大幹部ってのは調べてみると多いんですな」などと発言していた。

福島氏は会見で「『与党を形成している政党の党首』といえば、おのずと特定され、私のことをおっしゃっているのだと考えた」とした上で、「(帰化 を)問題とすること自体、人種差別だ」とも述べ、発言を撤回しない場合は法的措置も辞さない考えを示した。

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

Apparently they’re on a witch hunt for not only “naturalized” Japanese who supposedly can’t be trusted, but any Japanese who might have parents who have been naturalized!  I really believe Japan is an outlier when it comes to race. The idea that nationality is a racial concept – as opposed to a legal concept – is so ingrained here I’m afraid it will not die easily.  A minister in Germany is of Vietnamese descent. And yet Japan is terrifried that a cabinet member might be naturalized or have naturalized parents. Really pathetic. GS

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

COMMENT:  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.  Study your history.  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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo, naturalized citizen.

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

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

Hi Blog. 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 Debito.org 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.

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

From: AS
Subject: More anti-NJ suffrage propaganda
Date: April 14, 2010

Hi Debito, There was a person handing out anti-NJ suffrage materials at Tokorozawa station yesterday morning, and, as I promised myself I would, I got a photo and the stuff he was handing out.

I think I caught him off guard when I approached him from the flank and stuck my hand out for the pamphlets – he just handed them over without realizing until it was too late.

Ok, the pamphlets themselves. The first one is not particularly nasty, it’s just another “Release the North Korean kidnap victims” flyer. It appears to be produced by another group.

Funny how this stuff talks about the international community, while the group distributing it want nothing to do with the international community.

The second one is quite vindictive and lacking in logic. The first side is largely devoted to portraying China as a murderous country with no justice or morals (“a culture of evil”) and then jumping to the conclusion that foreign suffrage, dual nationality, recognized residency for NJs and spouses with different surnames will mean the same fate for the Japanese as is has for ethnic minorities in China!! (The same kind of logic as “Don’t buy a Toyota because Tojo was a murderer!”)

“China is evil, so we can’t have…”

Page 2 resorts to character assassination of DPJ members, linking them with China, South Korea and communism, then goes on to the same arguments that NJs will abuse child support allowance and that Japanese won’t be able to receive it.

Next is the big stinking lie that anyone (including illegal residents and criminals) can get PR just by living here for 5 years and that they will have the same voting rights as Japanese.

It then goes on to suggest that human rights laws will turn Japan into a communist nation with no freedom (Gosh – I was under the impression that page one was slagging off China for not protecting human rights)

Finally, we get the guff that allowing different surnames for spouses will be the end of the family unit. (Let’s just make everyone change their name to Suzuki, then).  DS

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

ADDENDUM FROM DEBITO:  I too saw these protesters and felt their invective outside the Diet Building on March 23, 2010, just after I gave my presentation to UN Special Rep Bustamante.  (I wonder if he caught wind of these people; they certainly were making enough of a stink.)

I too managed to get some flyers (off a kind reporter), and here are some of them.  Hang on to your logical hats, everyone:

In addition to the flyers AS referred to above (these are the same people distributing, after all):

We have former ASDF general Tamogami wallowing in all the luscious pink trappings of Japanese patriotism, calling for people to come pay money to hear him speak in Kamakura.  What you would be in store for:  According to the Japan Times January 24, 2010 (http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100124x4.html), “20 percent of shares in the Japanese mass media are held by foreigners. This means that the Japanese mass media are controlled by foreign investments. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was brought down by these foreign powers.” Good thing he’s no longer imbedded in our military.

Here’s our laundry list of national heroes (with Tamogami and racist Dietmember Hiranuma enjoying big pictures) for us lesser mortals:

The greater national hero I’d like to see honored more often would be journalist Kotoku Shusui, but some of these faces above are the type of people who would have him and his ideology killed.  (They managed it, and look where it got Japan — destroyed in WWII.)

Underpinning all of the counterarguments proffered above is more hatred.  NJ hate us.  So we shouldn’t allow any of them to vote.  QED.

Next up:

ad

And here comes the kitchen sinking — where we lump in all sorts of other issues (including Nikkyouso, even Japan’s sex education) with the NJ suffrage stuff.  And of course Ozawa’s qualification as a real Japanese are called into question due to his beliefs.  Didn’t realize “Japaneseness” also meant ideological conformity and uniform arguments.  Oh wait, yes it did, back in the bad old days when it led the nation to destruction in a world war.  Never mind.  Reenforced patriotism will surely fix everything!

And finally:

An advertisement for a big free public rally against NJ suffrage in the Budoukan (the place the Far-Rightists also protested when the Beatles played back in 1966, as they were too decadent for Japanese morals; they paved the way for Cheap Trick, however, phew).  Wish I could have gone.  The Japan Times and Kyodo attended, however.  Here’s what they say (excerpt):

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

The Japan Times Sunday, April 18, 2010

Foreigner suffrage opponents rally
Conservative politicians express outrage at DPJ plan

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100418a1.html
By ALEX MARTIN Staff writer

Conservative intellectuals and key executives from five political parties were among the thousands who gathered in Tokyo on Saturday to rally against granting foreign residents voting rights for local elections.

On hand were financial services minister Shizuka Kamei, who heads Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party), Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Tadamori Oshima, former trade minister Takeo Hiranuma, who recently launched his own political party, Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan), and Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe.

According to the organizer, a total of 10,257 people attended the convention at the Nippon Budokan arena in Chiyoda Ward, including representatives of prefectural assemblies and citizens from across the nation…

In an opening speech preceded by the singing of the “Kimigayo” national anthem, Atsuyuki Sassa, former head of the Cabinet Security Affairs Office and chief organizer of the event, expressed his concern about granting foreigners suffrage.

“I was infuriated when I heard of plans to submit to the Diet a government-sponsored bill giving foreign residents voting rights,” he said.

“Our Constitution grants those with Japanese nationality voting rights in return for their obligation to pay taxes,” he said. “Granting suffrage to those without Japanese nationality is clearly a mistake in national policy.”

[NB:  As any taxpaying NJ knows, this is untrue.  I guess that means they don’t need NJ tax monies.]

Taking the podium to a round of applause, Kamei emphasized his party’s role in preventing the government from submitting the bill to the Diet, and said that “it was obvious that granting suffrage will destroy Japan.”

Kamei, who has in the past argued that giving foreigners voting rights could incite nationalism during polling, went so far as to declare that his party would leave the ruling coalition if the government submitted the bill to the Diet…

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

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100418a1.html

Kyodo News adds:

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

Lawmakers oppose giving foreign residents right to vote

Japan Today/Kyodo Sunday 18th April, 2010

http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/lawmakers-voice-opposition-to-giving-foreign-residents-right-to-vote

TOKYO — A group of conservative lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties on Saturday voiced their opposition to proposed legislation to enfranchise permanent foreign residents for local elections. Shizuka Kamei, who leads the People’s New Party, addressed a gathering of people against the proposed legislation in Tokyo, saying, ‘‘The right to vote for foreigners will ruin Japan.’‘

‘‘It will not be enacted during the current parliamentary session because the People’s New Party has invoked a veto (within the government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama),’’ said Kamei, who is a cabinet member within the tripartite coalition government.

While Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan is aiming to pass the legislation, at least one member is apparently opposed.

Jin Matsubara, a House of Representative member of the DPJ, told the meeting, ‘‘There is an argument that Europe is positive about enfranchising foreigners, but that does not hold water in Japan. I am unequivocally opposed. It’s my belief that it is necessary to faithfully speak up (about the issue) within the party.’‘

Meanwhile, Mizuho Fukushima, a cabinet member and leader of the Social Democratic Party of Japan that partners the DPJ and PNP in the government, reiterated her endorsement of the proposed legislation.

‘‘It’s not about all foreigners and it’s also limited to local elections,’’ she told reporters in Odate, Akita Prefecture. ‘‘Participation in the local community is necessary, as some countries have approved it.’‘

Objections to the bill were also expressed by opposition lawmakers at the Tokyo meeting. Tadamori Oshima, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, ‘‘We must protect Japan’s sovereignty. I am absolutely opposed.’‘

Yoshimi Watanabe, leader of Your Party, suggested that enfranchising foreign residents is a vote-buying tactic. ‘‘The Democratic Party says livelihood is the No. 1 issue, but in fact aren’t elections their No. 1 business?’’ he said.

Takeo Hiranuma, who leads the just launched Sunrise Party of Japan, said he ‘‘will stake his life in fighting’’ against the legislation.

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

CONCLUSION:  These are some awfully flash and well produced pamphlets, and renting sound trucks and the whole Budoukan for all these sound bites cost a helluva lot of money.  Who’s funding this?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

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. 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). Debito.org CF writes about a less-known pair of NY cemeteries in Yokohama — Negishi and Hodogaya — that might be worth a look for history preservers.  His photos are included below.

First, some background.  The Japan Times (bless ’em, again!) has an article on Negishi from 1999. Excerpting:

=====================
Headstones mark Yokohama haunt for the unknown
By MICK CORLISS Staff writer (excerpt)
The Japan Times: Wednesday, Aug. 25, 1999

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn19990825a9.html

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.

“It is said that 824 babies, some the offspring of American soldiers who became close with Japanese women, were buried here,” Tamura said. “But there are no documents.”

“After the war there were many children born between Japanese women and soldiers stationed here,” Sawabe said. “There were no abortion facilities so women would have the babies and then abandon them.”

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn19990825a9.html
================

That article from a decade ago talks about a revival of Negishi as a historical site. Doesn’t look like it happened.  (Even the above-linked Wikipedia entry in E or J doesn’t mention the babies.)  As Debito.org Reader CF, who submitted the photos below, writes:

================
Debito:  Here are some more places of interest I have found in Yokohama. One is a cemetery in Negishi used by Japanese women after WW2 who had affairs with American solders and were ashamed of the outcome and buried them here, so it is told. Over 800 babies buried here supposedly but the place is in disarray, most of the markers gone. The Japanese police at that time asked no questions I guess. You don’t see one American flag or upkeep from anybody and there is a base right up the street there in Negishi. Same deal with the cemetery in Hodogaya.

Also, the British commonwealth cemetery, in Yokohama. Very interesting place, maintained by the British I guess. Some Americans in a urn are there as well, killed by the Japanese. CF

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

Thanks.  Here are some photos, thanks CF.  Click on an image to expand in browser.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

ENDS

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

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Hi Blog.  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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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From: KYA
Subject: [Community] Gaijin card required for tax return now?
Date: April 13, 2010
To: communityinjapan@yahoogroups.com

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 this in the mail: http://s161.photobucket.com/albums/t223/babyhayate/?action=view&current=tax.jpg

(Click to expand in your browser)

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. So I said, well then I won’t provide it if the law doesn’t require it, and he said that they wouldn’t process my return until I provided it. So I said, so that means the law DOES require it? This time he said yes, but still couldn’t actually come up with a specific law. He then wanted my name and phone number so that he could “get back to me” about it… but he was pissed off by this point, I didn’t want him to make a note on my file or something that would delay my refund any further so I said I’d call back when the person in charge had returned.

The person in charge said, it was for the purpose of confirming my address, because I don’t have a juminhyo… but again, I didn’t have a juminhyo LAST year either. And if they are really checking everyone at city hall, there is a record of my address there as well, it’s a different deprtment but they could still check. He then said it was to confirm the spelling of my name in English… again, doesn’t make sense to me as all of the documents issued by all of the companies I freelance for list my name in kanji-katakana (which I requested them to do BECAUSE it’s the way I’ve always filed my tax return and silly me, I thought the names should match?)

I did get this second guy to tell me that I could submit a copy of my driver’s license instead or copy the gaijin card and black out everything except name, address, and date of birth, when I said that it wasn’t the tax office’s job OR right to check my birthplace or status of residence etc.

But… what is the deal here? Has anyone else has this experience? This year only, or have I just lucked out seven years running? Does anyone know what the law DOES say about this? Do I have to submit it? Can they really withhold my tax refund, for taxes that I paid but never owed in the first place, if I don’t submit it?

I never know what to do in this situation… if it’s a hotel or another business, in the end, they want my money and the money of all the people I’m going to tell about my lousy experience… in this case, it’s the government and they’ve got 48,000 yen that I want and need, and in the end they KNOW that I’m not going to throw away that money on principle… I considered throwing the teigakukyuufukin paperwork in their faces when the woman had the nerve to refer to my “husband’s household” as something separate from ME… but that was a free handout, this money is MINE, I knew I was going to get it back and planned for it in my budget, so I feel like there’s not a lot I can do… I’d at least like to know what they are really checking, whether it’s for everyone or just people picked at random, and whether I can legally say no and still get my money (much as I’d like to make a stand, that’s a whole month’s pay coming back… they know they’ve got me up against a wall here)

Anyone else having problems? KYA

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

MTJ replies:

A few things came to mind when I read your story, KYA.  First, that the form they sent seems to cover a lot of the new ‘procedures’ linked to the new family allowance program being implemented this month, specifically the brouhaha in the media over NJ who has children living abroad needing to jump through all sorts of hoops to qualify.  More tellingly, the part at the bottom confirms what I suspected was the case, it’s a piece of gyousei shidou;, or ‘administrative guidance.’  That’s why the official may have had trouble supplying you with an actual law, as it doesn’t actually exist.  However, in the minds of the local bureaucrats it’s just as good, especially if it “came from above.”

Wiki has a good stub on the subject here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Administrative_guidance

ENDS

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

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PRESS CONFERENCE
[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
(The speech and Q & A will be in Japanese with English interpretation)

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.
The appalling conditions Japan is placing illegal immigrants in have been regularly denounced. Immigration authorities in particular, which lack judicial oversight, have the ability to indefinitely detain people, breakup families by deporting one of their members, and so on. More tragedies are to come.
10 days ago, Jorge Bustamante, U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of immigrants, concluded a Japan visit at the end of which he was very critical of Japan.
Come and hear from [the] wife of the late Mr. Suraj, Koichi Kodama, Lawyer and Mayumi Yoshida, Deputy Representative of Asian People’s Friendship Society.
Please reserve in advance, 3211-3161 or http://www.fccj.or.jp/node/5565 (still & TV cameras inclusive). Reservations and cancellations are not complete without confirmation.

Professional Activities Committee

記者会見
児玉 晃一、吉田 真由美
4月20日(火)10:00
(スピーチ日本語: 逐次通訳付)
ENDS

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

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Hi Blog. Japan is rebooting its image for international tourists. According to Adamu at Mutantfrog:

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

April 7, 2010
The Japanese government has announced a new international tourism slogan:

“Japan. Endless Discovery.“

Great, at least this time it’s in English! It’s similar to many other simple catch phrases used by other countries: “Malaysia, truly Asia,” “Seoul’s got Soul,” and so on. The Japanese-language slogan is more of more of a mouthful and literally translates as “Japan, a country where you will encounter endless discovery.” There’s also a new logo with a stylish but classy combo of cherry blossoms and the Japanese Rising Sun.

I like “Endless Discovery” because it has a message that happens to be true. As a foreigner living in Japan most days there’s something new to discover. This message could help put new visitors in the right frame of mind to enjoy themselves. Japan’s not a country like Thailand where you can head straight to the resort and not worry about foreign customs. It’s an adventure in many respects – new food, few English speakers, complicated train system, etc. (and the area outside of Tokyo is even harder to navigate), so why not put a positive face on what Japan’s got to offer?

I’d like to give Maehara and his people some credit for picking a slogan that actually makes sense. It’s comforting to think the people in power might actually understand the outside world a little bit. It’s one big, noticeable difference between the parties.

This will replace the old slogan Yokoso! Japan, announced in 2003 to much confusion by most people who had no idea yokoso means “welcome” in Japanese. Well-known Japan commentator Alex Kerr was especially critical, saying it might as well be “blah blah blah Japan.” It’s been a favorite target of mockery among many in the gaijin community and can currently be seen on taxis, buses, posters, and even transport minister Maehara’s lapel pin. You’ll be missed! The “Visit Japan Campaign 2010” site is still up, so you can soak up some of the goodness before it closes. There’s other questionable language on the site, like “Yokoso Bazar” and “Revalue Nippon.”

Rest at http://www.mutantfrog.com/2010/04/07/sayonara-yokoso-japan/

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

That’s one thing of interest. Now how about Tokyo’s very expensive reboot? Courtesy of BD:

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April 8, 2010
Debito: Wanted to call your attention to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s new “Welcome to Tokyo” tourism website which features a short anime which [according to the Tokyo Shinbun Dec 20, 2009, link now dead] reportedly cost 50M Yen. That’s my tax dollars at work trying to lure foreigners to a city who’s governor is historically renown for his anti-foreigner rhetoric. Wonder if there’s anything that can be done to call out the points made by UN Rep Bustamante with regards to this site’s obvious ruse.

http://www.tourism.metro.tokyo.jp/english/welcome/

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COMMENT: About the Tokyo promo: Watch the “Honey Anime” in particular. A lot of bald-facedness going on there. I don’t personally watch much Anime (so it might be an issue of genre or style), but I find its eight-year-old-child attitudes towards life a bit cloying, and inappropriate for regular tourists. And you just gotta grimace at the bit where Tokyo-to’s oceanic territory is depicted as a haven for happy whales (never mind the Red Tides or, you know what…). As flash and expensive as the site is, I find the promotion campaign a bit “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!!).  And let’s not mention our xenophobic governor…

Charming for some, no doubt. But for me, just weird, and not terribly appealing, having been to Tokyo as a tourist (and guest speaker) my entire life in Japan (that’s right; I’ve never lived in Tokyo). Come to Tokyo and see how clean-line it really isn’t. 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? Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

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Hi Blog.  The Japan Times this week published a very nicely-considered article on something brought up on Debito.org 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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Japan Times illustration (tiff file, click on squares if not visible in your browser):

THE ZEIT GIST
‘Sambo’ racism row reignites over kids’ play
The 1899 book still making waves in 21st-century Japan
The Japan Times, April 13, 2010 (excerpt)
By MATTHEW CHOZICK

“Little Black Sambo, Sambo, Sambo/His face and hands are completely black/Even his butt is completely black.”

Word of nursery-schoolers in Saitama Prefecture chanting a “Little Black Sambo” song — “akin to what might be taught by a white supremacist group” — spread online recently, prompting 21st century-style activism: Facebook postings, blogosphere commotion, an online petition, CCed e-mails to Tokorozawa City Hall. In a phone call, a Midori Hoikuen nursery school employee admitted to having read and then re-enacted — with toddlers — the best-selling children’s book “Little Black Sambo” (known here as “Chibikuro Sanbo”). The re-enactment’s song lyrics, as printed above, were allegedly translated by a biracial child’s concerned parent and then uploaded onto Facebook.

Since the first, Victorian-era printing of “Little Black Sambo,” its pejorative title and caricature illustrations — pitch-black faces with bulging red lips, white balloon eyes — have been a perennial bone of contention for civil-rights proponents in the U.S. and, later, Japan. Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes described the text in 1932 as “amusing undoubtedly to the white child, but like an unkind word to one who has known too many hurts to enjoy the additional pain of being laughed at.”…

Activist and Japan Times columnist Debito Arudou uploaded a parody onto his Web site, debito.org, titled “Little Yellow Jap” (“Chibi Kiiro Jappu”). Arudou asks, “What if your race was depicted in the same way as in this book?”

Redolent of Audrey Hepburn’s bucktoothed Japanese neighbor played by Mickey Rooney in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” Arudou’s characters have enormous eyeglasses, exaggeratedly yellow skin and big front incisors. In Arudou’s parody, the original’s tigers become monkeys, butter is miso, one character is garbed in sumo getup and another in a Hello Kitty apron.

Arudou’s artwork succeeds, like the book it lampoons, in being both somewhat offensive and also kind of cute. This conflation is important because cuteness directs feelings of fondness and intimacy toward items of all kinds, not just puppies. Indeed, throughout “Little Black Sambo” there are numerous physical characteristics that humans are biologically programmed to find cute. According to Austrian Nobel Laureate Konrad Lorenz, these include “predominance of the brain capsule, large and low-lying eyes, bulging cheek region.”…

Whether or not this book is innocent of bigotry will continue to be debated, but in the meantime it may be a good idea to foster a critical atmosphere in which “Little Black Sambo,” held in the hands of a competent teacher, can educate children while charming their imaginations. If you teach, get a debate rolling. Bring a copy of “Little Black Sambo” to class along with Arudou’s illustrations. Let’s not be hasty in making pre-Amazon.com kindling out of a potentially valuable pedagogic tool…

Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100413zg.html

The parody, “Little Yellow Jap”, is downloadable from
http://www.debito.org/chibikurosanbo.html
ENDS

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

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Hi Blog.  Here’s something shocking today.  I heard about this passim from UN Rep Bustamante on March 23 when he was in town asking about migrant worker issues.  I had heard nothing since then.  It took a rally the other day for it to make the news.  Anyone else see anything in the domestic press?  This sort of thing out to be reported much more widely.  Wonder where the investigation into this (if any) is going.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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50 rally for investigation of deportee’s death
Compiled from Kyodo, Staff report
The Japan Times, April 13, 2010, Courtesy of GS

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100413a3.html

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.

The officers accompanied Suraj aboard a flight to Cairo from Narita International Airport on March 22 when he was being deported for illegally staying in Japan.

According to the police at the airport, Suraj suddenly turned violent aboard the plane, prompting the Japanese officers to restrain him. He then went limp and died…

Rest of the article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100413a3.html

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

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Hi Blog.  What follows is a template for how you can reverse an imminent “termination through contract non-renewal” decision made by a workplace (in this case, a university) that unilaterally decides you’re too expensive.  This sort of thing is SOP for NJ academics in Japan’s higher education, and it will continue to be so if NJ academics continue to roll over whenever faced with job adversity.  What did he do?  He got a lawyer, and the school rolled over instead.  Read on.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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April 11, 2010

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; no small thing as severance pay is weighted towards the last years of employment, those 5 years will cost me nearly $150,000.

Let me make it clear that I was employed at this school with the promise that it would be a permanent position, and that I would receive the same benefits as the Japanese teachers.  I never had a contract, and in fact, was told I did not need one because I was employed under the standard terms of employment (shugyou gisoku) that the Japanese employees received.   I paid into the pension plan, had health insurance, received bonuses.  I attended the meetings, worked the overtime.

On being transferred to the college, I was told, because the Japanese teachers had extra duties, I would be expected to teach a few more classes.  In time I found myself teaching twice the standard load of 6 classes (at 12 classes), and in addition to doing the teaching of two, because the part-timers they had employed to help out couldn’t be bothered, I was doing the testing and grading of four teachers.  I carried this kind of load for probably 15 years or so.  But in time, and after a few college presidents came and left, the school policy gradually shifted away from emphasis on English language education, and my classes slowly underwent a transformation from being required subjects for all, to elective subjects available to fewer than half of the students.  In short, over the past 5 years the school slowly phased me out.

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.

One little aside that was important for me.  For you teachers who are members of the private school pension plan, (Shigaku Kyousai), depending on your age, you do not need to work the full 25 years to qualify for your pension.  And for Americans (and other nationalities covered by similar treaties) if you have paid into your country’s social security system, you can get Japanese pension benefits depending on what you have paid into the system.

Don’t put off getting permanent residency.   Your school loves you now?  You just don’t know when they might turn on you.  That can change with the next high school principal or college president.

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.

And genuine thanks to Debito.  Outside of a friends and family, he was just about the only one to return my e-mails.   Not sure that I would have gotten through this without his advice and support.

ENDS

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

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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 Community talking about this, and they seem to disagree with the Asahi.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Japanese firms adopt a global appearance
BY SOICHI FURUYA AND MAKOTO ODA THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
2010/04/06, Courtesy of JH.

http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201004050360.html

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.”

During his days at the National University of Singapore, Lee became so interested in Japanese culture that he read the English version of “The Tale of Genji,” an ancient and voluminous novel that no doubt took time away from his studies of his major: electrical engineering.

A job at Toshiba would have been impossible for Lee during his undergraduate years because of the company’s policy at the time to only employ foreigners who had studied at Japanese universities.

But in fiscal 2006, Toshiba began hiring graduates of universities in Thailand, Singapore and other countries where it has key offices.

After graduation, Lee in October 2006 joined Toshiba and was later assigned to its Corporate Software Engineering Center in Kawasaki.

“Toshiba is a global company. If I have a chance, I want to work at its overseas research center to expand my experience and knowledge,” he said.

Currently, nearly 140,000 foreign nationals work at businesses in Japan.

According to a labor minitry-commissioned survey conducted by the Fujitsu Research Institute on about 800 companies from September through October last year, nearly 40 percent of those companies have hired foreigners with high-level knowledge and skills, including engineers, in recent years.

But 58 companies have suspended their employment of foreigners, showing that language barrier and corporate culture clashes remain a potential problem.

In a country where company loyalty remains relatively strong, 25 percent of those companies said they stopped hiring foreigners because previous hires had left for other companies offering better working conditions.

In addition, 20 percent said they lacked supervisors who could work effectively with the foreign employees.

But the trend has been to expand hiring of non-Japanese as the domestic market shrinks and the declining birthrate is expected to lead to a huge shortage in demand in future years.

For Panasonic Electric Works Co., a maker of kitchen systems and other home-related products, a key economic statistic was 2009 housing starts, which stood at about 800,000, less than half of their peak.

“We cannot help but put more emphasis on overseas businesses. First of all, we will promote internationalization in our own company,” said Masayasu Yukioka, head of employment at Panasonic Electric’s personnel division.

As part of that process, the company hired Musaeva Feruza, from Uzbekistan, in 2008 at its personnel division.

“By using senses of values that are different from those of Japanese, we will be able to manufacture products that are suitable for each region (of the world),” Feruza said in a seminar in March for foreigners studying in Japan and hoping to land jobs at the company.

Meanwhile, Internet shopping site operator Rakuten Inc. regards 2010 as the year to develop into a truly global company.

In February, Rakuten began distributing papers written in English instead of Japanese at its Monday morning executive meetings, a policy that soon covered meetings attended by all employees.

And in March, the dozens of participants at the executive meetings were required to speak in English.

Rakuten assigns graduates of overseas universities to technological divisions in which they are required to improve their Japanese-language skills and learn in-house culture.

Those non-Japanese are expected to eventually play key roles in Rakuten’s offices overseas.
ENDS

/////////////////////////////////
Original Japanese follows:

求人、舞台は世界へ 日本企業に外国人採用広がる
2010年4月5日 朝日新聞
http://www.asahi.com/business/topics/economy/TKY201004040360.html

国境を越えた人材獲得が日本企業に広がっている。日本への留学生だけでなく、海外の大学を卒業した外国人を本社スタッフとして採用する例も増えた。少子高齢化で国内市場が急速に縮む中、海外ビジネスを広げるために「グローバル採用」のアクセルを踏んでいる。

■海外の大学卒に注目、「よりグローバルな人材を」

「東芝はグローバルな会社。チャンスがあれば海外の研究拠点で働き、経験、知識を広げたい」。川崎市にある東芝のソフトウェア技術センターで働くリー・クァンリン・サムソンさん(29)は、シンガポール国立大学で電気工学を専攻。源氏物語の英語版を読破するなど日本文化に興味があり、卒業後の2006年10月に入社した。

東芝は06年度から、拠点があるタイやシンガポールなどの大学の卒業生を採用し始めた。リーさんは「1期生」。それまでは日本留学の経験者を採っていた。人事部の鈴木誠一郎・人材採用センター長は「よりグローバルな人材活用が必要と判断し、日本語を採用条件にはしないことにした。欲しいのは25年後に事業部のリーダーになれる人材だ」という。

「(海外の売上高を増やすには)とがった製品を作ることが必要。日本人とは違った価値観を生かすことで、現地に適したものづくりができると思う」。システムキッチンなどの住宅関連メーカー、パナソニック電工のムサエワ・フェルザさん(ウズベキスタン出身)は3月、外国人留学生を対象にした入社セミナーで、こう話した。人事部採用グループで08年に入社した。

09年の国内の新設住宅着工戸数はピーク時の半分以下の約80万戸。人事部の行岡正恭・採用グループ長は「海外展開に力を入れるしかない。まず『内なる国際化』を進める」という。異文化の人材を受け入れて組織を活性化させようと狙う。

企業も変わろうとしている。楽天は、毎週月曜午前7時から執行役員ら数十人が出席して開かれる幹部会議の発表資料を2月から英語とし、3月からは発表言語も英語にした。全社員が出る朝の会議の資料も2月後半から英語になった。同社は今年を「真の世界企業への脱皮の年」と位置づける。

一方で、海外の新卒者はまず、日本の技術部門で勤務。日本語の習熟度を高め、「楽天主義」と呼ばれる社内文化や、報告、連絡、相談を徹底させる「報連相」などのビジネスマナーを学んだ後、将来は出身国で活躍してもらうことを視野に入れる。

■国内に14万人、言葉の壁も

人事コンサルティング会社、ジェイエーエスの小平達也社長によると、日本企業によるグローバル採用の「一波」は80年代後半から90年代初頭のバブル経済のころ。大手が欧米の文系スペシャリストを採ったが、バブル崩壊とともに下火になった。

第2期は90年代後半。IT企業や外資系が即戦力のインドや中国のエンジニアの採用を増やした。第3期は04年以降。アジアなど新興国への進出を迫られ、日本語を話せる留学生を中心にエンジニアの採用を増やした。

「いまは新たな波の前の端境期。ポスト3.0(第3期の後)だ」と小平社長。ここ数年、外国人採用による「組織の多様化」を期待する声が多いという。

日本人技術者の不足傾向も背景にある。法務省によると、「技術」資格で新規入国した外国人は98年は3293人だったが、08年には1万626人に拡大した。

いま日本には14万人近くの「外国人社員」がいる。厚生労働省が富士通総研に委託して昨年9〜10月、上場企業を対象に実施したアンケート(約800社が回答)によると、4割弱が技術者など高度な知識を持つ外国人を採用していたが、そのうち4割以上が「受け入れ部署が限られる」との悩みを抱えていた。「言語・コミュニケーション上の壁」との回答も4割近くを占めた。

また、一度は外国人を雇用しながら中止した58社に理由を聞くと、4社に1社が「処遇条件が良好な他社への転職が多かった」、2割が「雇用管理できる管理者が不足していた」と答えた。

外国人採用に熱心な富士通。言葉や異文化の壁で離職に至るケースを減らすため、生活や仕事に関する情報を入手できる英文サイトの立ち上げや異文化交流のセミナーを開くなど、孤立化を避ける取り組みを進めている。(古屋聡一、編集委員・織田一)
ENDS

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

COMMENTS FROM THE COMMUNITY:

April 7, 2010

From AB:

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.  The ultimate rejection was
mutual, I probably would have turned down their offer anyway after that.
The guy was extremely rude, addressing me in horrible Japanese, no manners,
etc.  It was so bizarre that I thought it might be a test, so I just slapped
a smile on and went with it, but I guess they were legit in their
discrimination after all.

This article just sounds like another case of “look at what an
internationally minded country we are, har har!” fluff that I hear all the
time when someone Japanese does something positive in the world.  If only
the country could see things through our eyes for one day, they’d shut up
with all of that さすが日本 (sasuga nihon) crap that I hear all the time,
particularly in the division of international affairs.

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

April 7, 2010

From CD:

AB, thank you for writing about your experience.  Although I’m in a different field (TESOL), when I lived in Japan, my hobby was interviewing.  I liked practicing interviewing for jobs in  Japanese (and thought it was good to show that non-Japanese people could), or if they wanted English, fine.  But my main point was to show, even show myself, really, that interviews are not the same as begging, and that they should be a 2-way street.  Not everyone who’s interviewing is desperate to get that job.  The prospective employer needs to get down on bended knee and thank lucky stars when the right candidate appears…and it is incredible how many instead maintain some sort of weird “objective” distance, even when they want you to acccept the job… that always made me really want not to work there!!  Now that I’m in the hiring seat myself, I’ve found this to make a huge difference… we get the candidates we want, and their transition is smooth, because I try to make sure they know from the first interview that we’d like them to come join us, and that we need and want them and would be nice co-workers.

Anyway, so I spent a lot of time turning down jobs, and almost always the reactions was SHOCK!!  But I’m offering you a JOB!!!  The funniest one was the time I applied to the [insert name of Japan, Inc.corporation] major competitor to the company my husband works for. First, it was just very interesting to see the differences between the 2 companies, because they both fit their corporate “branded” images to a “T”. Obviously someone had spent time making sure that interviews were part indoctrination from the get-go!  Don’t want any riff-raff sneaking in.

And second, it was amazing what a massive issue it seemed to be that I was related to someone who worked for the competitor.  Lots and lots of hemming and hawing and bizarre-seeming questions (would I be willing to tape over my cellphone’s camera while on site to prevent corporate espionage???…um, yes, but wouldn’t it just be easier not to hire someone who’s going to spy on you?)

Finally, the offer was made…ta-dah!!  I had the right to accept a 2-year, term-contract position, for a generous salary that was about 1/3 of what I was making teaching English to kids 3-4 hours a day.

My duties:  write and revise all PR releases and be essentially available to do whatever else they wanted me to do…everything from “helping” teach company classes to checking people’s emails to having “conversation lunches” with the secretaries was mentioned.

The schedule? 9-6, Mon-Fri.

I said (somewhere must have the tape I sneakily took), “although in the United States, that would be considered full-time work, essentially this is a part-time position, isn’t it?” (it was, of course, with no benefits).

They thought that was hilarious!!  How clever I was!!  I smiled and thanked them and went home, and they were going to call the next day, “after you have a chance to consult your husband about our offer.”

Tomorrow rolled around, and I said that I’d be happy to accept the position under the same working conditions as any average Japanese freshman employee…ie, lifetime employment, no special treatment.

But what???  I’m not Japanese!!  Why would I want that?  I would never be able to adjust!!  I told them that I had a pretty good idea, from watching my husband’s job, just what would be required, and felt confident in my ability.

No, I had to take the term-limited part-time job or nothing.  They did point out that the salary they were offering was higher than the starting salary for freshmen workers.

Needless to say, I decided not to take it.  It would have been interesting, though.

Their final reaction?  “But you don’t understand…this is [insert name of Japan, Inc. multinational corporation].  No one turns us down.”

Japan…gotta keep yourself entertained!!

Oh, and the best advice I ever got on job hunting, courtesy of my brother-in-law:  “Never even pretend to change yourself to get a job.  If you do, they just hired someone they don’t want, and you just ended up with a job that doesn’t fit you.  If they hire the real you, you’ll both be happier.”

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

April 7, 2010

From:  NM

The big companies have been hiring non-Japanese since the late 1980s, including technical staff. For view of what it’s like to be a permanent foreign employee in Japan Inc. see this book:

http://tinyurl.com/yk8u7lw
or
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1861977891/qid=1149169815/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-7532168-7028949?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

==================
April 8, 2010

From: AB

That’s a good story, CD.  I can imagine that if I DID make it through
that last interview at Nitori, I would have at least made it an issue once I
was inside, if I didn’t just turn the position down all together.

That’s also good advice.  The best advice I’ve gotten otherwise from fellow
foreign people working in Japan was, “just don’t even apply to Japanese
companies,” lol.  Seriously, that was the “common” advice from multiple
people who don’t know each other, “just stick to foreign companies that
aren’t going to treat you like an idiot.” One person suggested just going
back to your home country, apply to a major company, and request a post in
Japan or in their Tokyo office.  And when I take a step back and look at the
whole picture, only one of my friends works for a major Japanese company,
and that was only because he applied from the American office as an American
who just requested to work in Japan.  Everyone else works for foreign
companies that just happen to have offices/locations in Japan.

You say you’re in the hiring position now.  In Japan?  What company?  How do
I apply?  🙂  My current job is going to end soon and although I’ve got my
applications out to several companies in Tokyo, nothing is set in stone yet.

And [another author], I would LOVE to know about how to go about suing Nitori.  Not
to get money or anything, but just so they get a lesson in, “look at what
happens when you treat people different based on nationality/race.”
Unfortunately, for that incident, I have no proof.  If I spoke up now, I
would just look like a disgruntled reject who is trying to strike back for
being rejected.  Even though I know there is no mistake, they would just
easily write it off as, “oh, he must have misunderstood us, as Japanese
isn’t his native language.”  The best I can do is just not shop at Nitori,
but admittedly, that’s not very satisfying.  I’ll never forget him just
saying, “the Japanese work environment is much more intense than your own
country, we’re not confident an American would be able to handle it.”  And
then he topped off the end of the interview with, “well, I think you should
just stick to education.”

Lol, just coincidence, and unrelated, but as I’m typing this in my Japanese
office, I’m listening to a conversation about how they changed out everyones
old-school ball mouses for lasers because the ball mouses kept sticking and
wouldn’t drag properly.  Guess who’s computer is the only one that remains
unchanged, and who will never get a proper notification of “we have laser
mouses” outside of overhearing a conversation.

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

April 8, 2010

From: CD

I direct a university intensive English program here in the US…but when I was in Tokyo, yeah, I’d interview for anything.  I remember a shady-seeming “foreign ladies to introduce art exhibitions to potential investors” gig towards the end of the bubble years.  The salary was supposedly 600,000 yen/ month, and there were at least 50 people interviewing the day I was.  It seemed pretty close to selling jeans at the Gap, but I only made it to Round 2, so maybe at some point art knowledge was required.

Rather than boycott the whole system, if it’s not going to upset your life, I’d recommend getting out there into the job market and sharing your honest perspective.  After all, if things just stay the same all the time, why would they change?  But it sounds like you need work, so forget the crusading and just be creative and positive in your search.  There is something good out there for you; it’s just a matter of finding it.

And for those talking about suing, I am curious just what we might sue these companies for, considering that in Japan it’s not illegal to discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity, right? They can do as they please, and they do.  In fact, the former Dean of the longest-existing US branch campus in Tokyo instructed me to take the non-discriminatory policy statement out of the university’s Chronicle ad…because the school is a Japanese private corporation, and so he had no need to follow the Equal Opportunity policy in hiring.  Students assumed that all of the American faculty came from the US, but of course we were mainly local hires.  So even Americans can learn to practice discriminatory hiring in Japan.

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

April 8, 2010

From EF

I’m sure we all have been turned down for one thing or another, however I
look at as a blessing.  Mid last year I was turned down, because a Japanese
person was a requirement.  My wife said to me, at least you don’t have to
worry about always playing on the visiting team if you got that job…  You
know what, she was right.

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

ENDS

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

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.  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, courtesy of MS:

Courtesy http://www.japantoday.com/category/picture-of-the-day/view/oh-my-darling#show_all_comments

Courtesy http://www.cinemacafe.net/news/cgi/report/2010/02/7709/

Courtesy http://ticket-news.pia.jp/pia/news_image.do?newsCd=201002250007&imageCd=3

And here are some links to what kind of person the series’ mascot actually is, scrubbing away the past by deleting historical archives while trying to launch a lawsuit to silence book JAPANESE ONLY.

What a Darling.

ENDS

Sunday Tangent: Sumo Suits Controversy in Canada

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.  As a Sunday Tangent, here’s something I heard a couple of weeks ago about the banning of “Sumo Suits” at Queens University in Canada.  I thought, well, Canada I guess has a lower tolerance for potential “cultural misunderstandings”.  While I don’t think “Sumo Suits” are on par with “round glasses and buck teeth” types of Asian stereotyping one has seen in the past in points east (and thankfully mostly put a stop to), it’s an example of how liberal college debates against all types of stereotyping (in this case, anti-“weightism” and “cultural insensitivity”, I would have guessed, but the arguments included “deeply imbedded histories of violent and subversive oppression that a group has faced”) have led to a rather odd, arguably overcompensating decision and a very verbose, OTT self-flagellating statement.

If only this attitude applied to all the Japanese TV shows with their “blond wigs and big noses” tacked on to give anything a “gaijin” feel (and that’s before stretching it to cover wartime histories of violent and subversive oppression…).  But expecting that much cultural-sensitivity comity is probably muri for the next generation or two.  I have a feeling Trey Parker and Matt Stone are planning a South Park episode on this…  Courtesy of DS, who comments below.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Hi Debito.  Greetings from rainy Nagoya.  Just ran across this article in my local newspaper from Canada. It concerns the use of so-called “sumo suits”, those big inflatable costumes that you see people wear and then lumber into each other. A university group was using them as part of a fund raiser for a food bank. However, the university Alma Mater Society decided they were offensive and racist, ” a symbol of oppression”, and cancelled the event. They also wrote a long, heartfelt apology letter to those who may have been hurt and/or offended by the horrible event.

Here is the main article:

http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2740807

and the apology:

http://network.nationalpost.com/NP/blogs/posted/archive/2010/03/29/sumo-suit-apology-letter-the-full-text.aspx

I first thought this was an April Fool’s joke, until I saw the article was dated March 29th… DS

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

Sumo suits instruments of ‘oppression’: Queen’s [University, Kingston, Ontario] student government
Joseph Brean, National Post (Canada), Courtesy of DS
Published: Monday, March 29, 2010


Queen’s Alma Mater Society on Monday published a two-page apology letter, and cancelled a food-bank fundraiser scheduled for Tuesday, which was to feature two sumo suits such as the ones shown in this …

Sumo suits, the plastic novelties that can transform a skinny sports fan into a comically unstable sphere for the delight of a stadium audience, are racist and dehumanizing instruments of oppression, according to the student government of Queen’s University.

They “appropriate an aspect of Japanese culture,” turn a racial identity into a “costume,” and “devalue an ancient and respected Japanese sport, which is rich in history and cultural tradition.” They also “fail to capture the deeply embedded histories of violent and subversive oppression that a group has faced.”

The Alma Mater Society on Monday published a two-page apology letter, and cancelled a foodbank fundraiser scheduled for Tuesday, which was to feature two sumo suits. The letter scolds the student government’s own executive for “marginalizing members of the Queen’s community” and failing to “critically consider the racist meaning behind [the fundraiser.]”

It also vows to discourage other campus groups from using the suits, owned by the school’s athletic department.

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

Given the quick apology, which came in response to complaints registered on a Facebook page promoting the event, the racism of the Queen’s “SUMO Showdown” seems to have been unintentional, and not an effort to belittle Japanese people.

Brandon Sloan, communications officer for the Alma Mater Society, suggested “white privilege” had blinded the student government, which is largely but not entirely white, to the seriousness of the issue.

Likewise, the owners of the two suits have never imagined they could be considered offensive.

“It’s the first time we’ve heard of [the racist aspects],” Mike Grobe, a spokesman for Queen’s Athletics, which uses the suits at football and basketball games for half-time shows, when people run obstacle courses in them. “They’re just big puffy suits. They’re pink… No one’s complained.”

They come with a helmet shaped like a head with a bun of hair, like a sumo wrestler, but nothing overtly stereotypical. They are new this academic year, and are often loaned out to student groups. They were even loaned out to the Ontario Hockey League for its all-star hockey game.

In the past, professional sumo wrestling in Japan itself has been accused of racism for excluding foreign-born wrestlers, although non-Japanese wrestlers have had notable successes, even rising to highest rank of Yokozuna.

For its part, Queen’s has a proud tradition of inclusivity. It was the first school in Canada to graduate a black man, Robert Sutherland, who became a prominent lawyer. Its student pub, Alfie’s, is named for the son of a runaway slave who became a football mascot. And it continues to receive generous donations of art and real estate from chemist-turned-philanthropist Alfred Bader, a refugee from the Nazis who was turned away from McGill because its Jewish quota was filled.

But Queen’s today has an awkward relationship with political correctness, exacerbated by its reputation for drawing its student body from the privileged neighbourhoods of Toronto and Ottawa.

In a report last week on racism in Ontario universities by the Canadian Federation of Students, one Queen’s student reported that “white privilege” permeates the “walls, books, classrooms and everything that makes Queen’s what it is.”

That aspect of the controversy is mentioned in the apology letter, which says “some of us [AMS leaders] … do not have the lived experience of someone who is oppressed due to their race. We recognize our privilege in this circumstance.” It then vows “a series of discussions” about oppression.

“We would never want to host an event that would offend some members,” Mr. Sloan said.

Last year, in a story that made national headlines, the Queen’s administration appointed six “dialogue facilitators” to promote discussion of social justice, partly by intervening in conversations when they overhear offensive speech. The resulting scandal led to the appointment of an expert panel, including a former head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, which cancelled the program as “incompatible with the atmosphere required for free speech.”

The student government was to meet last night to discuss another fun activity as a replacement for the sumo suits, Mr. Sloan said.

Also on Monday, the nomination period closed for the government’s Anti-Oppression Award, given for exceptional achievement in counteracting oppression both in and out of the classroom.

National Post

jbrean@nationalpost.com

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

Sumo suit apology letter: the full text
Posted: March 29, 2010, 7:17 PM by Gillian Grace, Courtesy National Post.com

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.

The full text of the Alma Mater Society’s apology letter, published on Monday:

Dear AMS 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.

The decision to hold this event, and the failure of many students who hold senior positions in the AMS to recognize the inherent issues of racism tied-in to the event, marginalized members of the Queen’s community. As an organization and as individuals who allowed this to go on unchallenged, we are deeply sorry for having caused feelings of hurt and not being safe on-campus by planning this event. We are implicated in systems of oppression by not challenging things such as this, and perpetuating racist stereotypes.

Events such as this take place at other institutions and within Queen’s as well; it is imperative that we learn from this experience to ensure that we constantly work towards challenging various forms of oppression. We will also be following-up with other groups at Queen’s who utilize these suits so that we can encourage them to also engage critically with issues of racism and oppression.

While it is important to recognize that by planning this event we marginalized students on-campus, it is also critical to recognize that some of us in the organization who played a role in planning and perpetuating the event do not have the lived experience of someone who is oppressed due to their race. We recognize our privilege in this circumstance, and will work hard to better engage with it and issues of racism and oppression in the future. An integral part of this process is to ensure that those who were implicated in the event in any way come out of this experience with a desire to learn more about how to combat racism and other forms of oppression on a regular basis. It is necessary to facilitate a discussion about how oppression permeates our experiences, and what our role is in challenging forms of oppression that all too often go unchallenged. We will be engaging in a series of discussions – both formal and informal – with all involved parties to ensure that they understand the ways in which this event is both harmful and discriminatory.

Although we are taking active steps as an organization and as individuals to ensure that we are better able to name and challenge racism and oppression, it is clear that this does not in any way negate the damage done in the creation and advertising of this event. We have already alienated individuals from the AMS as a result of this event, but we plan on working towards facilitating the development of a campus climate in which this wrongdoing and others like it are not repeated.

Sincerely,
The Alma Mater Society

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 10, 2010

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 10, 2010
SOME ODDS AND ENDS OVER THE PAST FEW WEEKS

Table of Contents:

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////
ODDS
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

ENDS
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

AN ISSUE THAT SHOULD NOT HAVE FIZZLED OUT
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
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////

By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, Daily Blog Updates at www.debito.org
Freely Forwardable

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

ODDS

1) MHLW clamps down on NJ spongers of system claiming overseas kids for child allowances. What spongers?

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 MHLW 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6443

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

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

Debito.org 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: Tamachan (sealion, Yokohama 2003), Tetsuwan Atomu (cartoon character, Niiza City, 2003), Crayon Shinchan (cartoon character, Kusakabe City, 2004), Ku-chan (seal, Kushiro City, 2009), etc. More on the issue here.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6419

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

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

Success at last, for some. For less than one percent of all the NJ nurses brought over on a special trilateral visa program, to help care for Japan’s aging society, we have some overcoming quite difficult hurdles to stay — including passing a difficult Japanese nursing exam within three years that challenges even native speakers. For the overwhelming majority of NJ, however, it’s bye bye and thanks for your three years of unsupported toil, and we look forward to replacing you with more dupes on yet another GOJ revolving-door work visa plan. More on the difficulties of the nursing program in the words of the nurses themselves on Debito.org here.

Yomiuri: Two Indonesians and one Filipina have become the first foreign nurses to pass Japan’s national nursing qualification test after work experience at Japanese hospitals under economic partnership agreements, the health ministry said Friday.

The three are among the 370 foreign nurses who have visited this country under an EPA-related project launched in fiscal 2008, hoping to pass the nursing exam after receiving Japanese-language training and gaining working experience under the supervision of Japanese nurses.

In 2009, 82 foreign nurses took the exam, but all failed. This year, 254 such nurses applied for the test, with the two Indonesians and one Filipina passing it, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6322

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

Debito.org Reader BT commenting about culture once again being invoked as a defense:

Here’s an interview about Toyota recalls in the US, with “Hideo Kobayashi, a visiting professor at Yokohama National University’s Center for Risk Management and Safety Sciences”. I’m talking specifically about these two quotes:

“Q: Wasn’t Toyota’s confidence in product quality one of the factors that led to its sloppy handling of the situation?

A: Can what people in Japan consider “good quality” be also considered good in the United States, which has a more diversified population?

Japanese people generally have high driving skills and similar physical features. But the United States, whose society was more or less built by immigrants, has people with various physical features and behavioral patterns. To get a driver’s license, you don’t need the sort of skills that are required in Japan..”

(The “we’re superior” routine)

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)…

http://www.debito.org/?p=6064

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

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

Following up on some previous Debito.org posts (here and here) on how the debate on NJ PR suffrage has devolved into hate speech, here is how bad it’s getting. We have anonymous flyers appearing in people’s snailmailboxes accusing NJ of being criminals (and linking it to not granting suffrage), fomenting anti-Chinese sentiment with threats of invasion and takeover, and even a book capitalizing on the fear by saying that granting NJ the vote will make Japan disappear. Read on to see scans:

This is why we need laws against hate speech in Japan — to prevent the knock-on effects of fear by anonymous bullies being further fanned by the profit motive and marketing sharks.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6182

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

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

Although the issue may be moot due to the DPJ suspending the submission of PR NJ suffrage “for the time being”, here’s an essential fact of the case — what other countries allow non-citizens to vote, and at what level, as of 2006. As you can see, of the select countries (even the US has some local rights for non-citizens), only Japan is absolutist in terms of this sector of civil rights. And the fact that the Japan-born Zainichi “generational foreigners” are also excluded makes Japan a further outlier.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6209

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

ENDS

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

I’d like 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6384

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

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

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). Excerpts from the JT article below.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6238

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

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

Take this, 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6258

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

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

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 et.al., 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6402

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

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

Frequent commenter and contributor to Debito.org JK offers a follow-up about a recent article featured here on Debito.org, 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6366

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

AN ISSUE THAT SHOULD NOT HAVE FIZZLED OUT

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

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.

Sano-san: Ibaraki Detention Center is a very brutal and abusive place to be. Since March 8th, about 80 male detainees are doing hunger strike.

Japan Times: Detainees allege abuse at Kansai holding center
Guards meting out harsh treatment behind the walls of Ibaraki immigration facility, say inmates

http://www.debito.org/?p=6166

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

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

Japan Times: At least 70 detainees at the West Japan Immigration Control Center, which has long been criticized by human rights groups and Diet members, have been on a hunger strike since Monday, center officials and volunteers helping them confirmed Thursday.

Activist Sano-san reports: Our group decided not to use [name deleted’s] name on articles that goes to public from now on. He has hepatitis B and has fever since December. Obviously bad health condition. But the center is not taking to him to the hospital, and also did I mention that they share the same razor to shave? We talked to Nishimura at the center, but they denied it , and said that each razor has the number so that the detainee will know which one is his. Detainees said there is no number on the razor. Nishimura also said that razors are sterilized after detainees use them.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6171

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

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

Sano-san: The detainees decided to suspend their hunger strike temporarily.
They had dinner on Friday, the 19th.
They have decided two things 1) volunteers and detainees are going to negotiate with the center starting from Tuesday on March, 23rd.
2) if their demands are turned down, they will re-start the hunger strike.

In the background of this, a member of a House of Councilors, Konno Azuma, questioned about the hunger strike to the Minister of Justice (Keiko Chiba) at a national assembly.
He also referred to factual investigation.
Media has picked up the story of the hunger strike, and it strongly influenced the center…

http://www.debito.org/?p=6241

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

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6245

… then, kerplunk, the issue dies…?

I have received no word since on what’s going on. Rumor has it there was a turf battle between the NGOs covering this issue and they shut down their links to the media. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen plenty of times before. Sad, given how important this issue is. I’ll blog any news I get in future.

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

… and finally …

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

Japan Times: A Japan Tourism Agency panel headed by Vice Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Kiyomi Tsujimoto is currently discussing ways to divide the nation into five different zones whose Golden Week holidays would be staggered by zone. The panel is also calling for the creation of a five-day holiday in the autumn — a so-called Silver Week — that would again be staggered by region and spread over five different periods.

In one of the two proposals on the table, Golden Week and Silver Week would be spread over five weeks, instead of one week; while the other proposal would, more confusingly, see the five zonal Golden Week and Silver Week periods overlapping each other a little to occupy a total span of 2 1/2 weeks each.

The agency’s logic goes like this. If people travel at different times, the yawning gap in travel costs between the peak and off-peak seasons would become smaller, making tourism affordable for more people. Tourists would also likely enjoy their vacations more, as they would experience less 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6309

COMMENT: 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.

That said, a Debito.org Poll on this (http://www.debito.org/?page_id=1851) had me in the vast minority. As did blog commenters (http://www.debito.org/?p=6309#comments), who supported instead the (even less attainable, in my view) notion that people should be allowed to take their holidays when they want. The poll is still open, feel free to vote on it.

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

That’s all for today. That should get us caught up on past news for the next couple of weeks or so. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, Daily Blog Updates at www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 10, 2010 ENDS

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

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
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Hi Blog.  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.  First up the cover is of the magazine, the table of contents so you can see what else is on tap inside, and then the two-page interview.  Click on any page to expand in browser.  Courtesy of Eurobiz, thanks guys.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

ENDS

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

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.   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.”

Gov’t gets tough on allowances for foreigners who claim to have children in home countries
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20100407p2a00m0na008000c.html

子ども手当:外国人支給、厳格に 子との年2回面会要件
http://mainichi.jp/life/edu/child/archive/news/2010/04/20100407ddm002010042000c.html

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.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Gov’t gets tough on allowances for foreigners who claim to have children in home countries
(Mainichi Japan) April 7, 2010

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has tightened conditions for paying child-care allowances to foreigners who reside in Japan and claim to have children in their home countries, ministry officials said.

The move is aimed at preventing foreign residents from illicitly receiving expensive allowances by falsely adopting children in their home countries or using other tricks to deceive Japanese authorities. The ministry has notified local governments across the country of its decision.

Before providing child-care allowances, local governments are required by the ministry to confirm that such recipients meet their children in their home countries at least twice a year by checking their passports, and make sure that they send money to their children at least once every four months.

The ministry took the measure out of fear that a large number of foreigners would falsely adopt children in their home countries for the sole purpose of illegally receiving child-care allowances in Japan.

The number of foreign residents’ children who receive child allowances while living in their home countries remains unclear, according to the ministry.

Some local governments have expressed concern that the measure would increase their workload.

Original Japanese story

子ども手当:外国人支給、厳格に 子との年2回面会要件
毎日新聞 2010年4月7日 東京朝刊

厚生労働省は、国内に住み母国に子供がいる外国人に対する子ども手当の支給要件を厳格化する通知を各自治体に出した。年2回以上面会していることをパスポートで確認することなどが柱。児童手当は比較的緩やかな条件下で支給されてきたが、高額の子ども手当で不正受給を防ぐことを狙った。

児童手当は、子を養育する権限があり、生計を維持する保護者に支給。母国に子がいる外国人については、出生証明書と送金証明書があり、面会などしていれば支給してきた。だが面会の立証は困難で、手紙の提示だけでよかったり、証明を求めない自治体もあった。証明書の偽造も可能と指摘されており、不正受給目的の養子縁組の横行などが危惧(きぐ)されていた。

このため厚労省は、少なくとも年2回以上の面会をパスポートで確認▽約4カ月に1回以上の送金を銀行の送金通知などで確認--などを支給要件と定め通知した。

厚労省によると、母国で児童手当を受給する子どもの数は把握されていない。年度末に子ども手当の駆け込み申請があった自治体もあり、今回の通知に対し、自治体側からは「事務負担がどのくらい増えるか未知数」と懸念する声も上がっている。【野倉恵】
ENDS

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

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
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Hi Blog.  One more notch on my lipstick case of bureaucratic idiocies in Japan. Debito.org 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.

As submitter KC writes:
One more story that caught my attention was…
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/region/kanto/tokyo/100120/tky1001202239019-n1.htm

Official Itabashi-ku website link here…
http://www.city.itabashi.tokyo.jp/c_news_release/025/025249.html

The stories are self explanatory, but if I have to summarize … Itabashi-ku is spending its resources to issue JUUMINHYOU to dogs (yes dogs!)… but it has never even occured to them that taxpaying foreign residents deserve JUUMINHYOU more than the dogs. Regards. KC

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板橋区が犬の登録率アップ目指し、住民票発行へ

東京都板橋区が発行する犬の住民票
東京都板橋区が発行する犬の住民票
産經新聞 2010.1.20 22:36

飼い犬に、かわいい住民票を発行します-。東京都板橋区は20日、飼い犬の名前や写真、住所などを証明する「犬の住民票」を発行する新サービス(無料)を25日からスタートさせると発表した。都内23区で初の試み。ペットブームで愛犬家は増えているものの、自治体への登録をしない飼い主も多い。そこで区は、住民票で愛犬家を引きつけ登録率アップを目指す。

Courtesy Sankei Shinbun

狂犬病予防法では、狂犬病が発生した場合に備え、飼い主に居住自治体に犬の登録をするよう義務付けている。しかし、ペットショップで犬は買ったものの自治体への登録を面倒がる飼い主も多く、都内では登録が進んでいない。板橋区内でも約5万匹の飼い犬のうち、登録されている犬は平成21年4月現在、3分の1の約1万7千匹にとどまっているのが実情だ。

狂犬病は昭和32年以降、日本国内では発生していない。しかし中国やインド、フィリピンなどのアジア圏ではメジャーな病気で、平成18年にはアジア圏で狂犬病にかかった犬にかまれた日本人が死亡している。

今後、狂犬病が発生しないとは否定できないことから区では、1匹でも多くの登録を促そうと、登録済みの犬を対象に住民票の発行を決めた。

自治体が発行する証明書としてはユニークで犬の個性をまるごと紹介できる内容。犬の名前や住所、生年月日や種類、毛色や登録番号などが区から証明されるほか、写真をはれるスペースも用意されている。また予防接種の記録や父母の名前やチャームポイントなども飼い主が書き込める。

担当の区保健所生活衛生課は「住民票で飼い犬の情報を交換できるようなアイテムに育ってほしい」と話している。

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

平成22年1月20日報道発表
犬の住民票(左が表面・右が裏面)
http://www.city.itabashi.tokyo.jp/c_news_release/025/025249.html

板橋区は、飼い犬の名前や写真、住所などを記載できる「犬の住民票」を無料で発行する新サービスを今月25日からスタートする。

この住民票は、狂犬病予防法に基づく飼い犬の登録率・予防接種率向上を目的に、登録されている飼い犬を対象に発行するというもので、23区初の試み。

飼い主による犬の登録は、国内で狂犬病が発生した場合に備えて、自治体がどこで犬が飼われているかを把握するために狂犬病予防法で義務付けられている。しかしながら、飼い主による犬の登録は都内でも進んでおらず、板橋区でも区内にいる約5万匹の飼い犬のうち、登録されているのは3分の1の約1万7千匹にとどまると推計されている(平成21年4月現在、板橋区推計)。

昨今のペットブームで愛犬家が増加する中、区では人と動物とが安心して共生できる地域社会をつくろうと、飼い犬のための親しみやすい住民票の発行を企画。広報紙や区ホームページなどを通じ、昨年10月から記載内容やデザインについてのアイデアを区民に呼びかけ、寄せられたアイデアをもとに検討を重ねてきた。

完成した犬の住民票は、両面刷りでコンパクトなハガキサイズ(縦15センチメートル、横10センチメートル)。“犬といっしょにワンだふるライフ”とキャッチフレーズが書かれた表面には、「犬の名前」「住所」「生年月日」「種類」「毛色」「登録番号」の記載欄のほか、愛犬のベストショット(写真)を貼り付けるスペースなども用意されている。区の観光キャラクター“りんりんちゃん”のイラストが描かれた裏面には、「予防接種の記録」の記載欄のほか、「父母の名前」や「チャームポイント」といったユニークな項目も設けられている。自治体が発行する証明書では、例の少ない愛着あるデザインで、一枚持つだけで愛犬の個性をまるごと紹介できる内容に仕上がっている。

担当した板橋区保健所生活衛生課では、「1匹でも多くの登録を増やすため、この事業を考えました。住民票を持っている飼い主さんたちが、お互いの犬の情報を交換できるようなアイテムに育って欲しいです」としている。

「犬の住民票」は、今月25日から板橋区に登録済みの飼い犬を対象に生活衛生課窓口(板橋区保健所3階)で無料発行される。

問い合わせは、板橋区保健所生活衛生課(電話03-3579-2332)まで。
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 7, 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. I spent much of March down in Honshu doing speeches as chair of NGO FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association, more at http://www.francajapan.org), speaking on issues of Newcomer immigration. Part of that tour was spent interning and speaking at fellow immigration-oriented Japan Immigration Policy Research Institute (JIPI, http://www.jipi.gr.jp), run by a former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, Mr Sakanaka Hidenori.

This trip also happened to coincide with a two-week trip by Dr. Jorge A. Bustamante, United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants, whom I saw twice and gave a short speech and a fat information packet on NJ issues.

This Newsletter is devoted to the proceedings with the UN, JIPI, and FRANCA.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 7, 2010
SPECIAL ON THE UNITED NATIONS AND NGO FRANCA MARCH 2010 TOUR

Table of Contents:

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UNITED NATIONS RAPPORTEUR BUSTAMANTE COMES TO TOWN MAR 23-31

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

MORE FRANCA WORKS, INCLUDING NGO JIPI INTERFACE
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
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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
Freely Forwardable

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UNITED NATIONS RAPPORTEUR BUSTAMANTE COMES TO TOWN MAR 23-31

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6213

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

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:

http://www.debito.org/?p=6256

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3) Table of Contents of FRANCA information folder to UN Rep Bustamante, Mar 23

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6201

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

The Japan Times reported UN Special Rapporteur Bustamante’s interim comments during his current-two-week fact-finding mission to Japan, particularly as pertains to the GOJ visa system that deports people even if it means splitting apart families (cf. the Calderon Noriko Case).

Dr Bustamante takes a very dim view of this:

“It’s going to be made public,” Bustamante told the gathering. “And this, of course, might result in an embarrassment for the government of Japan and therefore certain pressure (will be) put on the government of Japan.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=6326

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6302

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

PRESS RELEASE MARCH 31, 2010: UN MIGRANTS RIGHTS EXPERT URGES JAPAN TO INCREASE PROTECTION OF MIGRANTS (excerpt)

TOKYO — The UN expert on migrants’ human rights on Wednesday praised Japan for some of the measures it has taken to alleviate the impact of the economic crisis on migrants, but, based on information provided by civil society, he noted that it is still facing a range of challenges, including racism and discrimination, exploitation, a tendency by the judiciary and police to ignore their rights and the overall lack of a comprehensive immigration policy that incorporates human rights protection…

The Special Rapporteur said, many challenges still need to be addressed by the Government in order to protect the human rights of migrants and their children. He listed some of the most important, along with some preliminary recommendations on how to improve the situation:

http://www.debito.org/?p=6343

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7) Download audio podcast of UN Rep Bustamante Mar 31 press conference

(Debito.org) TOKYO MARCH 31, 2010 — Dr Jorge A. Bustamante, United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants, gave an hourlong press conference at United Nations Information Center, United Nations University, Japan.

Assisted by the International Organization for Migration and Japan’s civil society groups, Dr Bustamante concluded nine days, March 23 to March 30, of a fact-finding mission around Japan, making stops in Tokyo, Yokohama, Hamamatsu, and Toyoda City. He met with representatives of various groups, including Zainichi Koreans, Chinese, Brazilians, Filipinos, women immigrants and their children, “Newcomer” immigrant and migrant Non-Japanese, and veterans of Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers.

He also met with Japanese government representatives, including the ministries of Education, Foreign Affairs, and Justice. He also met with local government officials in Hamamatsu City (including the Hamamatsu “Hello Work ” Unemployment Agency), the mayor of Toyoda City, and others.

He debriefed the Japanese Government today before his press conference.

The press conference can be heard in its entirety, from Dr Bustamante’s entrance to his exit, on the DEBITO.ORG PODCAST MARCH 31, 2010, downloadable from this blog entry. Duration: One hour five minutes. Unedited. I ask a question around minute 40.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6338

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MORE FRANCA WORKS, INCLUDING NGO JIPI INTERFACE

8 ) FRANCA Sendai Meeting Proceedings, Photos and Project Ideas

We had a NGO FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association) meeting last Sunday in Sendai. We’ll be having another one this coming Saturday evening in Tokyo, so if you like what you read below, please consider coming to our meeting and joining our group. FRANCA Chair Arudou Debito gave a presentation on what FRANCA is and what it’s doing. (You can download that presentation at http://www.debito.org/FRANCA.ppt). What follows are some photos and minutes of the meeting.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6249

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9) Mar 27 2010 NGO FRANCA Tokyo meeting minutes

Here is an abridged version of the NGO FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association) minutes I sent out today, regarding our exceptional Tokyo meeting last night in International House, Roppongi. It was a full house, with fifteen attendees, four of whom became dues-paying members. People attending were from a variety of backgrounds, from corporate to techie to journalist to academic to relative newcomer.

We got a lot discussed. We had so many voices describing their experiences in Japan (from employment issues to bike and passport checks to child abductions to domestic politics) that it was difficult to get through my powerpoint! (I did, and you can download it revised at http://www.debito.org/FRANCA.ppt.

We added to the list of possible FRANCA future projects:

http://www.debito.org/?p=6324

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

Mr SAKANAKA Hidenori, head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute in Tokyo (http://www.jipi.gr.jp), author of books such as “Nyuukan 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6291

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

My FRANCA speech 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6331

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12) Going back: Japanese porkbarrel airports as “infrastructure in a vacuum”, and how JR duped me into buying a train ticket to nowhere

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6372

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… and finally …

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

JUST BE CAUSE
Japan, U.N. share blind spot on ‘migrants’
By DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times: Tuesday, April 6, 2010

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100406ad.html
Original Version with links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=6233

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That’s all for now. I’ll have a second Newsletter out this week to catch up on the other issues that transpired over March and April on Debito.org. Thanks for reading.

Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 7, 2010 ENDS

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

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
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justbecauseicon.jpg
JUST BE CAUSE
Japan, U.N. share blind spot on ‘migrants’
By DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times: Tuesday, April 6, 2010

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100406ad.html
Original Version with links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=6233

On March 23, I gave a speech to Jorge Bustamante, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, for NGO FRANCA regarding racial discrimination in Japan. Text follows:

I wish to speak about the treatment of those of “foreign” origin and appearance in Japan, such as white and non-Asian people. Simply put, 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. According to government polls and surveys, we do not even deserve the same human rights as Japanese. The view of “foreigner” as “only temporary in Japan” is a blind spot even the United Nations seems to share, but I will get to that later.

First, an overview: The number of non-Japanese (NJ) on visas of three months or longer has increased since 1990 from about 1 million to over two. Permanent residents (PR) number over 1 million, meaning about half of all registered NJ can stay here forever. Given how hard PR is to get — about five years if married to a Japanese, 10 years if not — a million NJ permanent residents are clearly not a temporary part of Japanese society.

Moreover, this does not count the estimated half-million or so naturalized Japanese citizens (I am one of them). Nor does this count children of international marriages, about 40,000 annually. Mathematically, if each couple has two children, eventually that will mean 80,000 more ethnically diverse Japanese children; over a decade, 800,000 — almost a million again. Not all of these children of diverse backgrounds will “look Japanese.”

What’s more, we don’t know Japan’s true diversity because the Census Bureau only surveys for nationality. This means when I fill out the census, I write down “Japanese” for my nationality, but I cannot indicate my ethnicity as a “white Japanese,” or a “Japanese of American extraction” (amerikakei nihonjin). I believe this is by design — because the politics of identity in Japan are all about “monoculturality and monoethnicity.” Given modern Japan’s emerging immigration and assimilation, this is a fiction. The official conflation of Japanese nationality and ethnicity is incorrect, yet our government refuses to collect data that would correct that.

The point is we cannot tell who is “Japanese” just by looking at them. This means that whenever distinctions are made between “foreigner” and “Japanese,” be it police racial profiling or “Japanese only” signs, some Japanese citizens will also be affected. Thus we need a law against racial discrimination in Japan — not only because it will help noncitizens assimilate into Japan, but also because it will protect Japanese against xenophobia, bigotry and exclusionism, against the discrimination that is “deep and profound” and “practiced undisturbed in Japan,” according to U.N. Rapporteur Doudou Diene in 2005 and 2006.

There are some differences in viewpoint between my esteemed colleagues here today and the people I am trying to speak for. Japan’s minorities as definable under the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), including Ainu, Ryukyuans, zainichi special-permanent- resident ethnic Koreans and Chinese, and burakumin, will speak to you as people who have been here for a long time — much longer than people like me, of course. Their claims are based upon time-honored and genuine grievances that have never been properly redressed. For ease of understanding, I will call them the “oldcomers.”

I will try to speak on behalf of the “newcomers,” i.e., people who came here relatively recently to make a life in Japan. Of course both oldcomers and newcomers contribute to Japanese society, in terms of taxes, service and culture, for example. But it is we newcomers who really need a Japanese law against racial discrimination, because we, the people who are seen because of our skin color as “foreigners,” are often singled out for our own variant of discriminatory treatment. Examples in brief:

1. HOUSING, ACCOMMODATION

One barrier many newcomers face is finding an apartment. According to the Mainichi Shimbun (Jan. 8), on average in Tokyo it takes 15 visits to realtors for an NJ to find an apartment. Common experience — this is all we have because there is no government study of the problem — dictates that agents generally phrase the issue to landlords as, “The renter is a foreigner, is that OK?” This overt discrimination happens with impunity in Japan. One Osaka realtor even advertises apartments as “gaijin allowed,” a sales point at odds with the status quo. 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 barrier is hotels. Lodgings are expressly forbidden by Hotel Management Law Article 5 to refuse customers unless rooms are full, there is a clear threat of contagious disease, or an issue of “public morals.” However, government surveys indicate that 27 percent of all Japanese hotels do not want foreign guests, period. Not to be outdone, Fukushima Prefecture Tourist Information advertised the fact that 318 of their member hotels refuse NJ. Thus even when a law technically forbids exclusionism, the government will not enforce it. On the contrary, official bodies will even promote excluders.

2. RACIAL PROFILING BY POLICE

Another rude awakening happens when NJ walk down the street. All NJ (but not citizens) must carry ID cards at all times or face possible criminal charges and incarceration. So Japanese police will target and stop people who “look foreign” in public, sometimes forcefully and rudely, and demand personal identification. This very alienating process of “carding” can happen when walking while white, cycling while foreign-looking, using public transportation while multiethnic, or waiting for arrivals at airports while colored. One person has apparently been “carded,” sometimes through physical force, more than 50 times in one year, and 125 times over 10 years.

Police justify this as a hunt for foreign criminals and visa over-stayers, or cite special security measures or campaigns. However, these “campaigns” are products of government policies depicting NJ as “terrorists, criminals and carriers of infectious diseases.” None of these things, of course, is contingent upon nationality. Moreover, since 2007, all noncitizens are fingerprinted every time they re-enter Japan. This includes newcomer PRs, going further than the US-VISIT program, which does not refingerprint Green Card holders. However, the worst example of bad social science is the National Research Institute of Police Science, which spends taxpayer money on researching “foreign DNA” for racial profiling at crime scenes.

In sum, Japan’s police see NJ as “foreign agents” in both senses of the word. They are systematically taking measures to deal with NJ as a social problem, not as fellow residents or immigrants.

3. EXCLUSION AS ‘RESIDENTS’

Japan’s registration system, meaning the current koseki family registry and juminhyo residency certificate systems, refuse to list NJ as “spouse” or “family member” because they are not citizens. Officially, NJ residing here are not registered as “residents” (jumin), even though they pay residency taxes (juminzei) like anyone else. Worse, some local governments (such as Tokyo’s Nerima Ward) do not even count NJ in their population tallies. This is the ultimate in invisibility, and it is government-sanctioned.

4. ‘JAPANESE ONLY’ EXCLUSION

With no law against racial discrimination, “No foreigners allowed” signs have appeared nationwide, at places such as stores, restaurants, hotels, public bathhouses, bars, discos, an eyeglass outlet, a ballet school, an Internet cafe, a billiards hall, a women’s boutique — even in publicity for a newspaper subscription service. Regardless, the government has said repeatedly to the U.N. that Japan does not need a racial discrimination law because of our effective judicial system. That is untrue.

For example, in the Otaru onsen case (1999-2005), where two NJ and one naturalized Japanese (myself) were excluded from a public bathhouse, judges refused to rule these exclusions were illegal due to racial discrimination. They called it “unrational discrimination.” Moreover, the judiciary refused to enforce relevant international treaty as law, or punish the negligent Otaru City government for ineffective measures against racial discrimination. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Furthermore, in 2006, an openly racist shopkeeper refused an African-American customer entry, yet the Osaka District Court ruled in favor of the owner! Japan needs a criminal law, with enforceable punishments, because the present judicial system will not fix this.

5. UNFETTERED HATE SPEECH

There is also the matter of the 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 the magazine “Underground Files of Crimes by Gaijin” (Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu (2007)) and “PR Suffrage will make Japan Disappear” (Gaikokujin Sanseiken de Nihon ga Nakunaru Hi (2010)). Both these books stretch their case to talk about an innate criminality or deviousness in the foreign element, and “Underground Files” even cites things that are not crimes, such as dating Japanese women. It also 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. You could even find it on sale in convenience stores.

CONCLUSION

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.

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

Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. More on this meeting and photos at http://www.debito.org/?p=6256. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month

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

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

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
Hi Blog. 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. Excerpt follows:

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

THE ZEIT GIST
The Japan Times, March 6, 2010
‘Non-Japanese only’ Okinawa eatery turns tables
Jon Mitchell explores why one restaurateur has effectively banned Japanese patrons


Despite overwhelming Okinawan opposition to the presence of the United States military, open animosity towards American servicemen is remarkably rare here. One of the few places where it is experienced, though, is in central Okinawa’s entertainment districts. Japanese-owned clubs and bars regularly turn away American customers, and some of them display English signs stating “members only” and “private club” in order to exclude unwanted foreign patrons. With Japan’s laws on racial discrimination tending towards the ambiguous, transforming a business into a private club has become a common way to circumvent any potential complaints to the Bureau of Human Rights.

Under these circumstances, the notices on the door of Sushi Zen, a small restaurant located at the edge of Chatan Town’s fishing port, are not unusual: “This store has a members-only policy. Entry is restricted to members.” However, what is different is the fact that they’re written in Japanese, and designed to keep away Japanese customers. Furthermore, Sushi Zen’s owner is not a xenophobic foreign expatriate, but a soft-spoken Japanese man named Yukio Okuhama.

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

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100406zg.html

COMMENT: 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 et.al., 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.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

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Hi Blog.  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.

A report on workplace discrimination in Japan from Chong-san (Japanese) archived on Debito.org here.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

(*) Apologies for the lack of links to substantiate the firefighting and food preparation claims.  My source was “Darling wa Gaikokujin” mascot Tony Laszlo’s Issho Kikaku website, which dozens of activists worked on in the late 1990’s, whose historical archives have all since mysteriously disappeared now that Issho Kikaku is moribund.

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

Korean worker who sued Tokyo govt retires
The Yomiuri Shimbun Apr. 3, 2010, Courtesy of JK
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20100403TDY03T02.htm

Public health nurse Chong Hyang Gyun was all smiles when she retired from the Tokyo metropolitan government recently, even though it had refused to let her seek promotion because of her South Korean nationality.

A second-generation Korean resident of this country, Chong sued the metropolitan government in 1994, demanding she be allowed to take a promotion exam for a managerial post. The trial went on for 10 years of Chong’s 22-year career with the metropolitan government.

Ultimately, Chong was not able to be promoted because the Supreme Court overturned her victory in a lower court. Upon her retirement, however, she smiled and said, “I have no regrets.”

Chong officially retired Wednesday, as she had reached her mandatory retirement age of 60.

Chong was born in Iwate Prefecture. In 1988, she was hired as the first non-Japanese public health nurse to work for the metropolitan government.

Her application to take the internal exam to become a manager was refused, however, because of the metropolitan government’s “nationality clause,” which prohibits the appointment of non-Japanese employees to managerial posts.

The Tokyo District Court decided against her in 1996, ruling that the metropolitan government’s action was constitutional.

In 1997, the Tokyo High Court ruled that the metropolitan government’s decision violated the Constitution, which guarantees the freedom to choose one’s occupation, and ordered the Tokyo government to pay compensation to Chong.

The metropolitan government appealed this decision and in 2005, the Supreme Court nullified the high court ruling and rejected Chong’s demand.

After Chong openly expressed her disappointment at a press conference about the Supreme Court ruling, she received critical e-mails and other messages. Chong also said she sometimes felt it was hard to stay in her workplace.

However, a sizable number of her colleagues and area residents understood her feelings.

“I was supported by many people. I enjoyed my job,” Chong said.

For two years from 2006, Chong worked on Miyakejima island, helping residents deal with difficulties resulting from their prolonged evacuation.

Just before her retirement, Chong visited health care centers in Tokyo and other related facilities as chief of a section for preventing infectious diseases and caring for mentally handicapped people.

She was rehired from April as a nonregular employee at her workplace’s request, but she will work fewer days.

“I’ve been tense ever since filing the lawsuit, trying not to make any mistakes in other areas. Now I can finally relax,” Chong said.

Chong recently has been interested in supporting Indonesian nurse candidates in Japan. During the New Year holidays, she held a gathering to introduce them to Japanese culture.

“Now that a greater number of foreigners are in Japan, society as a whole should think about how to assimilate them,” Chong said.

She said she believed her lawsuit has helped raise those kind of questions.
ENDS

在日保健師定年「悔いなし」…昇任に国籍の壁
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20100327-OYT1T00524.htm
(2010年3月28日20時29分 読売新聞)
管理職試験の受験資格を求めて勤務先の東京都を提訴し、最高裁で逆転敗訴した在日韓国人2世の保健師、鄭香均(チョンヒャンギュン)さん(60)が3月末で、定年を迎える。

22年間の在職中、10年を裁判に費やし、結局昇任は果たせなかったが、「悔いは全くない」と語る表情は晴れやかだ。

岩手県生まれの鄭さんは、1988年に都の外国籍保健師第1号として採用された。管理職試験に挑戦しようとしたが、外国人を登用しないという都の「国籍条項」を理由に拒否され、94年に提訴した。

96年の東京地裁判決は、都の措置を合憲と判断して請求を棄却。97年の2審判決は都の措置を「職業選択の自由などを定めた憲法に違反する」と判断し、慰謝料支払いを命じたが、都が上告。最高裁は2005年、2審の違憲判決を破棄し、請求を棄却した。

記者会見で落胆を率直に口にした鄭さんに、批判のメールなどが多数届いた。職場で「居づらい」と感じることもあった。

一方で、同僚や地域には、思いを理解してくれる人も多く、「多くの人に支えてもらった。仕事は楽しかった」と振り返る。

06年から2年間三宅島で勤務し、長期の避難生活を経て様々な悩みを抱える島民らの支援にあたった。現在は係長として都内の保健所などを回り、感染症対策や精神障害者のケアに携わる。

4月からは職場の要望もあり、都に再任用されるが、勤務日数は少なくなる。「提訴以来、ほかのことでつまずいたらいけないと常に緊張していた。やっとほっとできる」と笑顔で語る。

最近は、来日したインドネシア人看護師候補者らの支援に関心があり、正月に自宅で日本文化を紹介する集いを開いたことも。

「これだけ外国人が増えたのだから、どう受け入れるのか社会全体で考えなければ」。自分の裁判がそうした問題の提起につながったのでは、と思っている。

(2010年3月28日20時29分 読売新聞)
ENDS

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

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.  Had an interesting experience yesterday on the way home to Sapporo yesterday, so I thought I’d make that today’s blog entry.

We’ve had some media buzz last month about Japan’s regional airports (with the opening of Ibaraki’s airport, that makes a total of 98 international, national, and municipal airports around Japan — close to two per prefecture, and that apparently does not count the ones inside of JSDF military bases).  A full list of them here.  The buzz from the Japan Times, Editorial, March 23, 2010:

EDITORIAL
When airports eat each other
Japan has 98 airports. The transport ministry’s recent survey of 72 of them indicates that the economic viability of many airports is low. Unless local governments and concerned businesses make serious efforts to attract more passengers, some airports may be forced to close.

The survey compared the actual number of passengers who used the 72 airports in fiscal 2008 with passenger-number forecasts. The actual number exceeded the forecast at only eight airports — Naha, Kumamoto, Nagasaki, Okayama, Nagoya, Haneda, Shonai (Yamagata Prefecture) and Asahikawa (Hokkaido). At about half of the 72 airports, actual use was less than 50 percent of what was forecast.

On March 11, Ibaraki airport opened as the nation’s 98th airport. Some ¥22 billion was spent to build the airport, which has a 2,700-meter runway. The chance of the actual passenger total of the airport exceeding the forecast amount is almost nil, as it connects only to Seoul, with one round-trip service a day. From April 16, it will also offer a once-daily round-trip service to Kobe.

Major airlines have shied away from Ibaraki, fearing a lack of passengers. The airport, about 80 km from Tokyo, is touted as the third for the capital, but access to it is hardly convenient.
Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20100323a1.html

I personally have used a lot of Japan’s airports on my domestic travels, usually for business:  Sapporo Chitose, Sapporo Okadama, Hakodate, Misawa, Akita, Higashine Yamagata, Hanamaki Morioka, Niigata, Sendai, Chubu Nagoya, Mihara Hiroshima, Izumo Shimane, Fukuoka, Kitakyushu, the former Kokura Fukuoka, Oita, Kagoshima, Miyazaki, Naha Okinawa, and of course Itami, KIX, Narita and Haneda.  I also will state that I have no problem with regional airports being built as long as they are used.  As the Japan Times editorial mentions above, if access is convenient.

However, I thought Hanamaki Morioka defied that assumption pretty badly yesterday, so let me narrate the adventure:

As regular Debito.org readers know, I have been on a two-week tour of Tokyo and environs doing UN and NGO FRANCA stuff.  But as my JAL mileage seems to accumulate less and less every year, I found that I could only get as far as Hanamaki Airport this year (the next band of free return flights starts at Sendai and stretches to Osaka, I was about 2000 miles short).  So I made arrangements to meet friends in Morioka, gave a speech in Sendai, and did my business further south.  Fine.  The problem was I had to get back up to Hanamaki from Tokyo to go home (no problem again, I thought; my flight back was from 6:10PM), and that’s at least 3 hours from Tokyo (it still worked out cheaper than a RT flight to Haneda, and I can spend time productively watching episodes of Survivor on my iPod).

Here’s where it got interesting.  I bought my ticket via JR all the way from Tokyo to “JR Hanamaki Kuukou Eki”, logically thinking that a JR station with the name of the destination would actually take me to that destination.  I got a print-out from JR Tokyo:  get off at Shinkansen Eki Shin-Hanamaki, change trains for JR Hanamaki Station, and finally arrive at JR Hanamaki Kuukou Eki.

It wasn’t to be.  I arrived at Shin-Hanamaki only to find the stationmaster advising me to get a cab from there to the airport.  I said I had a ticket all the way to Hanamaki Airport Station but he still made the same recommendation.  I asked for a refund of the remaining two-station portion but he refused to give it.  So I followed my ticket to see where it would take me.  It took me outside, a five-minute walk, to a completely separate teeny station that was JR Shin-Hanamaki regular-train station.

With changes, it took me another half hour to get to JR Hanamaki Station, where I changed to another station which after another twenty minutes or so got me to the Holy Land.

But JR “Hanamaki Airport Station” was a tiny place, where even the office was closed despite arriving a little after 4PM.  It was 4kms from the airport, a sign said.  As was advised, no way to get there but again by cab.

Here are some pictures to illustrate how idiotic the situation is (click on any photo to expand in browser):

Caption:  This is a JR station servicing an international airport?

Caption:  Yes it is.

Caption:  Note the distance to the airport:  4kms.  Used to be two.  Still, this JR station was never connected to the airport, is the point.

Caption:  Station office is closed.  Note time on clock.  You have to hand in your ticket into a little mailbox as you enter the station doors.  Honor system.

Caption:  Business is done for the day.  Nice to have bureaucrats go home so early.  If they even come to work here at all.

On the way to the airport, I talked to the cabdriver about this situation.  He said that Hanamaki Airport was indeed four kms away, and 5 kms from JR Hanamaki Station.  It was in fact 6 kms from Shin-Hanamaki Station, meaning I had just gone one great ellipse to get to the airport.  “JR Hanamaki Airport Station is the closest to the airport, therefore it became the station.”  But it’s still only accessible by taxi. “Or bus.  From Morioka Station.”  Which was the way I went when arriving from Sapporo two weeks ago, but it’s a half-hour bus ride away.

The taxi driver continued, “The JR station used to be only two kms away, not the four that it is now.  But they decided to spend even more money to build another terminal closer to the auto expressway.”  Even though they have cars so they don’t have that much farther to drive, while we foot travelers have to shell out for a taxi?  “Yep.  It’s good for us taxi drivers.”

All told, I wasted close to an hour between arriving by shinkansen and arriving at the airport; good thing I allowed enough time to get there.  I was also 1240 yen cab ride poorer for the experience, but sometimes one has to pay to get interesting blog entries.

But what kind of a government and infrastructure builds an airport, and then makes it nearly impossible for basic public transport to service it?  Even dupes the consumer into believing the JR station goes to the airport?

“Ozawa and his porkbarrel,” said the cabdriver.

This is why the regional airports attracted so much controversy last month.  And why, every now and again, we get annoyed articles about bureaucrats building public buildings, staffing them with retired bureaucrats, then making it as complicated or expensive as possible for the public to actually use them.

As we should.  Guess what airport I won’t be using again.  Thanks for the memories, Hanamaki.  Arudou Debito back in Sapporo.

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

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Hi Blog.  Here’s something that adds up to another brick in the wall against internet bullies and defamers in Japan (who play a significant role in the debate, surprisingly).  The Supreme Court rules that the defense often utilized by proponents of bullying and slandering BBS 2-Channel, that people can discern for themselves what is fact or fiction, therefore issues such as defamation are irrelevant to a free-speech-loving society, simply won’t wash anymore.  Sorry it has to come to this, but freedom of speech does not mean freedom to lie and willfully, maliciously hurt people.  Or get away with not paying up after successful libel lawsuits like the one I had four years ago.  Arudou Debito in Tokyo

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Supreme Court defamation ruling sounds warning bell over online responsibility
(Mainichi Japan) March 19, 2010 Courtesy of MS

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/perspectives/news/20100319p2a00m0na005000c.html

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.

In 2008 there were more than 500 online cases involving human rights violations in which the Ministry of Justice initiated relief measures. The figure was 2.5 times higher than in 2004. And in 2008 there were over 11,000 cases in which people approached police saying that they had been slandered. The figures indicate that there are many potential victims.

In what kind of situations do people not face defamation charges? One instance involves reports on information of public benefit, when the purpose of reporting the information is for public benefit and the information is true, or there are sufficient grounds to believe it is true. This has been established through judicial precedents.

In a district court ruling in the defamation case, the court found the man not guilty on the grounds that information on the Internet was of lower credibility and other users were able to rebut inappropriate claims. The court applied a more relaxed standard than the standard applied to newspaper and television reporting.

But in the latest ruling, the Supreme Court declared, “Online information is available to the general public very quickly, and it can cause serious damage in some cases. There is no guarantee that rebuttal of the information will restore a person’s reputation.” It judged that the standard should not be altered just for the Internet.

Internet users must keep in mind that if they post one-sided claims without backing up the information with evidence, or violate the privacy of others without confirming any of the facts with the person concerned, they may be accused of a crime.

Irresponsible and excessive words and deeds must not be permitted, regardless of whether they appear on the Internet or elsewhere. In the field of education, efforts are being made to provide instruction with teachers on hand to ensure that children do not get caught up in Internet crimes or engage in harassment online. As more people express themselves on blogs and other online forums, we want teachers to inform children that expression goes hand in hand with responsibility.

Under the limitation liability law for Internet providers, victims whose rights are violated can ask providers to delete posts or provide information on the ID of the person who posted the data. However, the decision on whether to comply with the request is left up to the provider.

Responding to the current situation in which child pornography or illegal information on drugs is being left unchecked on the Internet, the National Police Agency is reportedly preparing to actively pursue the criminal responsibility of site administrations who ignore requests to delete the information. Malicious cases of defamation are likely to be included as a matter of course.

We want everyone to come together to consider the appropriate form of a healthy Internet society.

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

社説:ネット中傷有罪 「無責任さ」への警鐘だ
毎日新聞 2010年3月19日 2時46分
http://mainichi.jp/select/opinion/editorial/news/20100319k0000m070154000c.html
インターネットの掲載だからといって、閲覧者が信頼性の低い情報として受け取るとは限らない--。

自分のホームページ上で、ラーメンチェーンの会社について「カルト団体が母体」などと中傷する文章を掲載し名誉棄損罪に問われた男性に対し、最高裁がそう指摘した。罰金30万円の有罪判決が確定する。ネットでも名誉棄損罪の成立要件は緩やかにならないと初めて判断した。

匿名での書き込みが可能なインターネット上に、個人の名誉やプライバシー、時に人権を侵害する表現行為があふれることを踏まえると、妥当な結論ではないか。

法務省がネット上の人権侵犯事件として救済手続きを開始した件数は08年で500件を超えた。04年の2.5倍に上る。中傷されたとして警察に寄せられる相談も08年で1万1000件を超える。潜在的な被害者が多いことを示す。

名誉棄損が問われないのはどういう場合か。公共の利害にかかわる内容について、公益を図る目的で、真実または真実と信じる相当の理由があって報道した場合が当たる。これが判例上の考え方だ。

1審の東京地裁判決は、ネットの情報の信頼性が低いことや、利用者は反論も可能だとして男性を無罪とした。新聞・テレビの報道より緩い「ものさし」を当てはめたものだ。

今回の最高裁決定は「ネット情報は不特定多数の利用者が瞬時に閲覧可能で、被害は深刻になり得る。反論によって名誉回復が図られる保証もない」として、ネットに限り基準を変えるべきではないとした。

一方的な立場の主張を裏付けなく垂れ流したり、当事者への事実確認を全くせずにプライバシーに踏み込んだ書き込みをすれば、罪に問われる場合もある。そのことをネットユーザーは心すべきである。

本来、ネットに限らず、無責任で行き過ぎた表現行為は許されない。教育現場では、ネット犯罪に巻き込まれたり、ネット上のいじめをしないように講師を招いて教える取り組みが進む。ブログなどでの情報発信が広まる中、表現する責任も伴うことを今後は教えてほしい。

プロバイダー(接続業者)責任制限法に基づき、権利が侵害された被害者は、事業者に削除要請や情報発信者の開示を要求できる。だが、応じるかの判断は業者に委ねられる。

児童ポルノや薬物犯罪に絡む違法情報が野放しになっている現状を受け、警察庁は削除要請を無視するサイト管理者らの刑事責任追及を積極的に進めるという。名誉棄損も含め悪質なケースは当然だろう。

健全なネット社会のあり方を皆で模索していきたい。
ENDS

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

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. Frequent commenter and contributor to Debito.org JK offers a follow-up about a recent article featured here on Debito.org, 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. Arudou Debito in Tokyo, not quitting activism.

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March 27, 2010
Hi Debito:
Another immigration-related thread for you. From the article, you can tell that a comprehensive immigration policy is needed:

1st foreign nurses pass national exam
http://www.debito.org/?p=6322

On a different topic, the legislature just approved a record 92.3 trillion yen budget for fiscal year 2010 (which, BTW is 4.2% larger than the budget for fiscal year 2009). In my opinion, it is unlikely that the budget will stimulate the economy because of the huge shortfall in taxes which only amount to 37.4 trillion yen. This is an 8.7 trillion yen / 18.9% decrease from fiscal year 2009. Because of the drop, the government had to issue a record 44.3 trillion yen in bonds, which is an 11 trillion yen increase from fiscal year 2009.

To my knowledge, this is the first budget in which bond issuance is greater than tax revenue.

All of this raises more questions about the nation’s fiscal health — government debt reached 189% of its gross domestic product in 2009 (the highest among industrialized countries) and I expect it to reach 200% in 2010.

What does this have to do with debito.org? Well, a shrinking tax base (read: population) is directly related to the country’s fiscal / economic condition. If for no other reason, a comprehensive immigration policy is needed to bring in more taxpayers in order shore up the GOJ’s increasingly unsustainable economic situation.

Here are the various sources:

Japan’s parliament passes record trillion-dollar budget
http://www.mysinchew.com/node/36798

Japan’s ruling DPJ has record budget passed through Diet
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/business/2010-03/24/c_13223166.htm

Japan parliament passes record $1 trillion budget
http://beta.thehindu.com/news/international/article299882.ece

Regards, -JK

ENDS

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

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
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DEBITO SELLS OUT:  CITES DIRE POVERTY FROM ACTIVISM

The Japan Times, April 1, 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.”

Clutching two burlap bags with dollar signs on them, he said, “Pay me in yen next time.”

When asked if this was not a departure from the standard Debito Doctrine, Debito said, “I’m a Japanese citizen now, so call me by my last name with a -san attached!  Or I’ll sue you.”

Debito refrained from further comment, except to say, “Kora!  I thought I just told you to call me ‘Arudou-san’!”

ENDS

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