Japan Times’ Colin Jones on Japanese enforcement of vague laws: “No need to know the law, but you must obey it”

mytest

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Hi Blog. In one of the best articles I’ve ever read in the Japanese media, here we have legal scholar Colin Jones finally connecting the metadots, laying bare how things work in Japanese jurisprudence and law enforcement.  It’s an excellent explanation of just how powerful the police are in Japanese society.  God bless the Japan Times for being there as an available forum (I can’t imagine any other English-language paper in Japan publishing this) for this research. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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The Japan Times Tuesday, June 29, 2010
THE ZEIT GIST
No need to know the law, but you must obey it
Colin P.A. Jones tells us why it’s hard to get clear answers when dealing with Japan’s legal system (excerpt)
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100629zg.html
By COLIN P.A. JONES (excerpt) courtesy of the author and John in Yokohama

A few months ago I met with some Western diplomats who were looking for information about Japanese law — in particular, an answer to the question, “Is parental child abduction a crime?” As international child abduction has become an increasingly sore point between Japan and other countries, foreign envoys have been making concerted efforts to understand the issue from the Japanese side. Having been told repeatedly by their Japanese counterparts that it is not a crime, some diplomats may be confused by recent cases of non-Japanese parents being arrested, even convicted for “kidnapping” their own children. I don’t think I helped much, since my contribution was something along the lines of “Well, it probably depends on whether the authorities need it to be a crime.”

Of course, the very question “Is x a crime?” reflects a fairly Western view of the law as a well-defined set of rules, the parameters of which people can know in advance in order to conduct themselves accordingly. However, there is a Confucian saying that is sometimes interpreted as “The people do not need to know the law, but they should be made to obey it.” This adage was a watchword of the Tokugawa Shogunate, whose philosophy of government was based in part on neo-Confucian principles.

It is also a saying that could provide some insights into why it sometimes seems difficult to get a clear answer about what exactly the law is in modern Japan. I am not suggesting that Japanese police and prosecutors have Confucian platitudes hanging framed over their desks, but knowing the law is a source of power. Being able to say what the law means is an even greater one, particularly if you can do so without being challenged. In a way, clearly defined criminal laws bind authority as much as they bind the people, by limiting the situations in which authorities can act. Since law enforcement in Japan often seems directed primarily at “keeping the peace,” laws that are flexible are more likely to serve this goal…

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100629zg.html
ENDS

Yours is no disgrace, World Cup Japan Team. Otsukare. I hope the J media does not spin this as a loss.

mytest

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I just wanted to say before retiring for the night that tonight’s Japan-Paraguay game for the Top Eight was excellent.  Japan played very well (and also quite fairly — I was rather unimpressed with how often Paraguay’s players went for people’s legs instead of the ball), and coming down to a 0-0 draw after two overtimes is testament to how well Japan played.  Penalty kicks (Para 5 Japan 3, with Japan going second so no chance to make it 5-4) are the luck of the draw, in my opinion, and it could have gone either way, the teams were so well matched.

Now I’m worried about how the Japanese media is going to digest this.  We already have Manager Okada apologizing for not having enough power to achieve his “Best Four” goal (but so what — the current team is streets ahead of any other World Cup team Japan has ever fielded; ergo coaching power aplenty).

I’m afraid we’re going to get the loss viewed through the Nihonjinron Lens of the high-pressure Japanese media, with excuses about some sort of innate Japanese superiority/inferiority (as I mentioned last time I blogged on this topic the other day), and how this loss is representative of something.

Look, it’s just a game.  This time a great series of games done by a great team that just lost out thanks to one ball getting through at the very end.

拡大解釈をよして下さい。これ以上我が国の選手にプレッシャーを掛けないで下さい。今回本当に良く出来たので、それでいい、4年後のW杯で頑張ろう、だけを促しましょう。

Again, well done Japan Team, well done Okada.  お疲れさまでした。Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Kyodo: Police raid car scrap yards run by NJ, suspecting them as “breeding grounds for crime”

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Hi Blog.  Comments?  My main one is the majority of the raids were conducted without warrants, something I’m not sure would be permissible at Japanese-run chop shops without a suspicion of a crime.  NJ, however, fall under immigration law, meaning they are more vulnerable to random search for suspected visa violations (and oh by the way we’ll check the business you run too while we’re at it).  I don’t know much about the subject (or the market), so those who do please feel free to fill us in.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Police launch nationwide raids of car scrap yards
Kyodo News:  Wednesday 23rd June, 2010, courtesy GB

http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/police-launch-nationwide-raids-of-car-scrap-yards

TOKYO — Ten prefectural police authorities on Tuesday launched coordinated on-site inspections of around 426 car scrap facilities across the country, suspecting that the facilities, run mostly by foreigners, could be breeding grounds for crimes such as vehicle theft, auto parts smuggling and harboring illegal immigrants.

The inspections were conducted based on the antique dealings law, the immigration law, the building standards law and other legislation, with the participation of immigration authorities and some local governments. Of the 426 facilities, 14 were raided based on warrants issued by courts.

Investigators said the raids are part of Japan’s efforts to tighten security ahead of a meeting of government leaders from Asia-Pacific rim countries in Yokohama in November, as some of the facilities could be linked to international terrorist groups.

The inspections and raids had led to the arrest of seven foreigners including Iranians, Ghanaians, Vietnamese and Chinese in Kanagawa, Saitama, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures on suspicion of violating the immigration law, police said.

Saitama prefectural police also arrested 17 Vietnamese and a Japanese national who is of Vietnamese descent on suspicion of stealing 250 million yen worth of heavy machinery parts in Saitama and four neighboring prefectures, including Tochigi and Gunma, they said.

Car scrap yards are often located in suburban areas with convenient access to highways and ports, and obscured from the outside by containers and other barriers.

In 2007, a grenade and live ammunition were confiscated from a yard in Niigata Prefecture. Forged alien registration cards have also been found at other yards, they said.

According to the National Police Agency, there are around 1,400 car scrap yards nationwide, of which 1,100 are run by foreigners, including Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Chinese nationals.

Car theft is the most notable crime linked to such facilities, the investigators said. Stolen vehicles are often shipped to the Middle East, Africa and other locations overseas after being disassembled at the yards.

The Toyota Hiace is one of the most popular targets for theft by foreigners as it is known for its durability in tough environments.

Aichi prefectural police cracked a car theft ring last year consisting of 15 Nigerians and Ugandans who specialized in stealing Hiace vans.

‘‘Stolen cars have been exported with vehicle identification numbers taken from scrapped cars, but they’ve begun dismantling stolen cars before shipping as customs authorities have tightened monitoring,’’ a police official said. ‘‘That’s why they need scrap facilities,’’ said the official.

ENDS

Alarmist Nikkei Business cover re Chinese business practices: “Chapan: Your new boss is Chinese”

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Hi Blog.  Get a load of this Nikkei Business cover (courtesy of MS).  Nothing like a bit of Photoshop to add a Chinese-style torii (and a crappy shadow against the sun) in the middle of Ginza to create alarm and sell papers:  “Your new boss is Chinese”, reads the headline, coining the word “Chapan”.

Also enjoy the typical invective that invades Japanese business rhetoric:  Rakuten’s “enemy” is America’s Amazon Inc and China’s Ali Baba.  As Chalmers Johnson wrote back in 1980 (article here for those who can access it), Japanese companies don’t just enter a market, they “hit the beaches” (jouriku suru).  So let’s gird the troops for battle, especially now that we’re on a defensive posture.  I don’t know which is worse — the sh*t-eating grins and claims of superiority (when Japan was a rising economy during the Bubble Economy), or the sore-loser crybaby language one sees nowadays, even though Japan can’t clean up its act (debtwise, for example), or accept that the current way of doing business may not be sustainable.  Better to resort to aggressive invective against the outsider, I guess.  Those are my thoughts on a crabby morning after watching too much early-morning World Cup.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

ENDS

Sunday Tangent: Newsweek: Immigrants do not increase crime

mytest

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As a Sunday tangent, here’s a Newsweek article making an argument that immigrants do not increase crime rates.  It’s talking about the US example, but FYI.  It’s more food for thought when the NPA keeps erroneously telling the media (which parrots it with little analysis) that NJ crime is on the rise (here in general and in specific).  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Reading, Ranting, And Arithmetic
Good cops know the difference between dangerous criminals and illegal aliens, which is one reason violent crime is going down, even in Arizona.
Newsweek, May 27, 2010, Courtesy of Fox

http://www.newsweek.com/2010/05/27/reading-ranting-and-arithmetic.html

Last Friday, supporters of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer posted an amusing little video on YouTube showing a Kermit-ish frog singing about the need to read and then going into a funk after screening clips of Obama administration officials admitting they opined on the recent Arizona immigration bill without having, well, read it.

Fair enough. You have to take a good look at the law to appreciate how truly sinister it really is. But Brewer and her supporters need to do their homework, too. A little basic research would have shown them that big cities with large immigrant populations are safer places to live.

This is not just a matter of random correlation being mistaken for causation. A new study by sociologist Tim Wadsworth of the University of Colorado at Boulder carefully evaluates the various factors behind the statistics that show a massive drop in crime during the 1990s at a time when immigration rose dramatically. In a peer-reviewed paper appearing in the June 2010 issue of Social Science Quarterly, Wadsworth argues not only that “cities with the largest increases in immigration between 1990 and 2000 experienced the largest decreases in homicide and robbery,” which we knew, but that after considering all the other explanations, rising immigration “was partially responsible.”

To deny that reality and ignore its implications is likely to make life more dangerous all over America, diverting resources away from the fight against violent crime and breaking down the hard-won trust between cops and the communities where they work. Several police chiefs tried to make exactly this point Wednesdayon a visit to Washington to talk about the Arizona law, due to take effect in July, and the bad precedent it sets. “This is not a law that increases public safety. This is a bill that makes it much harder for us to do our jobs,” said Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. “Crime will go up if this becomes law in Arizona or in any other state.”

This is not an ideological question, although some of the law’s supporters, including some cops, would like to turn it into one. Experience has shown that when immigrants think they’ll be nailed for immigration offenses, they stop cooperating with law enforcement. The intelligence needed to find and fight hard-core criminals, whatever their immigration status, will be harder to get. People who feel themselves singled out for discrimination will withdraw more and more into ghettos, increasingly marginalized from American life instead of integrated into it. Smart cops understand all this perfectly well.

But of course if you’re using frog puppets as part of a know-nothing campaign to convince people that immigrants bring crime to the United States like rats carrying the plague, you’re not going to want to listen to reason, and you’ll ignore facts like the just-released preliminary statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Report, which appear to line up with Wadsworth’s research. What’s so striking about them, he told me in an e-mail, is not just that the FBI numbers provide anecdotal support for his analysis, but that they are “entirely inconsistent with the claims of politicians and the general public sentiment.”

Let’s start with Arizona.

Something scary is going on there, and it’s not just politics. It’s gangs that smuggle people and drugs and that sometimes settle scores among themselves by murdering and kidnapping. Most of those involved are of Mexican origin, which is why the Obama administration is sending 1,200 National Guard troops to the Southwest to get more “boots on the ground” near the border. But nobody’s going to be manning a Great Wall of Arizona. The troop deployment, along with a request for a half billion dollars in new funding, aims at building what the office of Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords describesas “a multi-layered effort to target illicit networks trafficking in people, drugs, illegal weapons, and money.” Notice the focus is not on the illegal immigrants, who are more likely to be victims than perpetrators.

That’s a distinction that raving pundits on the right have always had trouble making when they talk about an “illegal-alien crime wave.” And even some politicians who know better have been happy to stoke the fire. Thus Governor Brewer told Fox Newsand anyone else who’d listen, “We’ve been inundated with criminal activity. It’s just—it’s been outrageous.” Arizona’s Sen. John McCain said last monththat the failure to secure the border with Mexico “has led to violence—the worst I have ever seen.” The president of the Arizona Association of Sheriffs, Paul Babeu of Pinal County, claims, “Crime is off the chart in this state.”

What the FBI chart actually shows is that the incidence of violent crime in Arizona declined dramatically in the last two years. After a spike in 2006 and 2007, the number in Phoenix dropped to 10,465 in 2008 and to 8,730 in 2009, which is lower than it was six years ago. Murders, which hit a high of 234 in 2006, dropped to 167 in 2008 and 122 in 2009. (Some lesser crimes may go unreported, especially if people are scared to talk to the cops, but police statistics only rarely miss a murder.)

The Phoenix authorities should be congratulated. But as Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris said last month, Brewer’s immigration law is just going to make his job more difficult. “It takes officers away from doing what our main core mission is, and that is to make our community safe, and instead tells us to become immigration officers and enforce routine immigration laws that I do not think we have the authority to even enforce,” Harris told the local Fox station, KSAZ. If you want to keep preventing violent crime, you do not waste your limited manpower on job-seeking “illegals.”

Did I already make that point? It bears repeating. The FBI numbers show that in the midst of the supposed crime wave, many other cities in the Southwest have had declines in crime similar to Phoenix. El Paso, Texas, just across the Rio Grande from a ferocious drug war in Juarez, where some 5,000 people have been murdered in recent years, saw almost no change in its own crime rate and remains one of the safest cities in the country, with only 12 murders last year. San Antonio saw violent crime drop from 9,699 incidents to 7,844; murders from 116 to 99. Compare that with a city like Detroit, which is a little bigger than El Paso and much smaller than San Antonio—and not exactly a magnet for job-seeking immigrants. Its murder rate went up from 323 in 2008 to 361 in 2009.

Indeed, some law-enforcement officers in Arizona’s own border towns scoff at the new law. The murder of Cochise County rancher Robert Krentz by a suspected illegal in March, which added fuel to the furor behind the Arizona law, was the exception rather than the rule. According to The Arizona Republic, which cited the Border Patrol, “Krentz is the only American murdered by a suspected illegal immigrant in at least a decade within the agency’s Tucson sector, the busiest smuggling route among the Border Patrol’s nine coverage regions along the U.S.-Mexican border.”

Most of the immigrants are headed deeper into the country, of course, including New York City, which has seen its Mexican population rise by an astounding rate of almost 58 percent since 2000, for a total of almost 300,000 by 2007. And crime rates? New York City, with a population of 8.5 million, some 40 percent of whom were born outside the United States, is one of those jurisdictions that prohibit police officers from questioning people about their immigration status. Its murder rate plunged from 2,245 in 1990 to 471 in 2009.

So, yes, there are pretty compelling data to support the argument that immigrants as such—even presumably “illegal” immigrants—do not make cities more dangerous to live in. But what mechanism about such immigration makes cities safer? Robert J. Sampson, head of the sociology department at Harvard, has suggested that, among other things, immigrants move into neighborhoods abandoned by locals and help prevent them from turning into urban wastelands. They often have tighter family structures and mutual support networks, all of which actually serve to stabilize urban environments. As Sampson told me back in 2007, “If you want to be safe, move to an immigrant city.”

What other variables may be at work driving crime down? The ones most often cited are rising levels of incarceration, changes in drug markets, and the aging of the overall population. The authors ofFreakonomicsargue that the big drop in violent crime during the 1990s was a direct result of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in 1973 and reduced by millions the pool of unwanted children who might have grown up to be criminals a generation later. Still, Wadsworth’s research and the recent FBI data reinforce the judgment that the vast majority of immigrants make our cities safer, especially when police know how to work with them, not against them. To blame all immigrants for the crimes committed by a few, and give the cops the job of chasing them for immigration offenses instead of focusing resources on catching the real bad guys, is simply nuts.

But that message just isn’t getting through. Polls continue to show that the vast majority of Americans think immigrants cause crime. Maybe what’s needed is a YouTube video of a winsome frog puppet getting us to repeat after him: “Immigrants don’t kill people, criminals do.”

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

Christopher Dickey is the author of six books, most recently Securing the City: Inside America’s Best Counterterror Force—the NYPD.

ENDS

TBS: Daring heist of expensive watches in Sapporo. So daring it might have been foreigners!, says Hokkaido Police

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Sapporo was given a thrill yesterday with a heist at one of it’s biggest department stores, Marui Imai.  Somebody went along an outdoor enclosed corridor connecting two buildings over a road, smashed a window on the building, lifted nearly a million bucks of expensive jewels and watches, then rappelled down the building to the street below for a clean getaway.  Think Pink Panther comes to Japan’s largest small town.

The media called it a “daring” robbery.  But Hokkaido Police, with no other evidence, reportedly said it was so daring it might have been foreigners!  I guess Japanese are too docile and uningenious to be daring.  I think they forgot the World Cup in Sapporo ended in 2002, so it’s a bit odd to keep blaming crime on them.  But again, NJ are a soft and convenient target for blame.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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腕時計など9300万円相当盗難、札幌
TBS News June 25, 2010, courtesy of CJ
http://news.tbs.co.jp/newseye/tbs_newseye4461253.html
24日、北海道札幌市のデパートで、高級腕時計や貴金属などおよそ250点が盗まれているのが見つかりました。被害総額はおよそ9300万円に上ります。

24日朝、「丸井今井札幌本店」8階の「宝飾サロン」で、ショーケースから高級腕時計や宝石などがなくなっているのが見つかりました。盗まれたのは、スイス製の高級腕時計や指輪などの貴金属、あわせて247点で、被害総額は9321万円に上ります。

警察によりますと、連絡通路に近い8階の窓ガラスが破られ、売り場の壁に40センチ四方の穴が開いていました。また、登山用のロープが7階の連絡通路から地上まで垂れ下がっていました。

壁に穴をあける大胆な手口から、警察は、外国人窃盗グループの犯行の可能性もあるとみています。(25日05:09)

ENDS

GANBARE NIPPON! On to the World Cup Best Sixteen!

mytest

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Hi Blog. It was certainly worth getting up at an ungodly hour this morning to watch the Japan vs. Denmark football match. Defying many people’s expectations (especially the domestic media’s), Japan has played very well in this World Cup, and earned their keep today by beating Denmark (according to FIFA, the 36th ranked, with Japan the 45th) soundly and clearly, 3-1.  Omedetou!!

Now the Japan team is advancing to the quarterfinals Best Sixteen.  I had strong doubts about having Okada on as coach again (given his previous dismal performance, I thought the powers that be hired him essentially because he’s Japanese).  Looks like I was wrong — he does have more than a pretty face.  Good team, good football, good games so far.  Again, well done.  Ganbare!!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UPDATE:  Thought of this while cycling to work this morning:  To put a Debito.org angle on this issue, let’s keep an eye out on how the Japanese media begins to spin this victory.  I’ve found that if a team representing Japan loses, the media looks for an issue of unfairness or unequalness (such as the alleged lack of good food at the Turin (a city hosting a world cuisine!) Olympics affecting Japanese performance).  But if there is a win, the media searches for “Japanese qualities” that gave the J athlete an advantage (winning J swimmers keep having the “yamato damashii” (Japanese Spirit) attributed to them).  I already saw TV commentary this morning referring to the special “cooperativeness” of Japan’s soccer team.  But of course, if they had lost, no doubt we’d hear about the innately small and weaker Japanese bodies going up against the formidable Danish and Dutch tank-built bodies, etc.  It’s never a neutral, “may the best man win on a level playing field”, is it?  There are plenty of examples of how sports rules under Japanese control are tailored to that bias (here, here, and here).  It’s not terribly “sporting”.

Ears open for how this gets spun, everyone?  Thanks.  D

Japan Times Zeit Gist on how NJ can participate in Japanese elections

mytest

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Hi Blog.  In an article cited in yesterday’s blog post, we had some xenophobe who organizes anti-NJ-suffrage campaigns saying:

“I’m not prejudiced against foreigners, but the law states that foreigners must not take part in election campaigns.”

There goes a typical zealot making a typically empty unresearched claim.  According to the Japan Times this week, NJ can indeed take part in election campaigns.  Excerpt:

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

THE JAPAN TIMES ZEIT GIST June 22, 2010
Can’t vote? No problem, you’re empowered!
Sure, we foreigners don’t have the right to vote (yet), but we can still get involved. Here’s how to make yourself heard

By RONALD KESSLER

What are you planning to do with yourself this summer? If you’re Japanese, have you given any thought to the country’s upcoming Upper House elections?

Here’s a more intriguing question: If you are non-Japanese, have you given any thought to the upcoming Upper House elections? Hmm, I can just imagine many of you readers out there thinking, “Intriguing?! What’s so intriguing? I don’t even have the right to vote!”

Well, okay, you’re right — you don’t. But haven’t you learned by now that it’s often better to look at the positives of a situation instead of the negatives? As you’re about to see, the wide range of roles Japan’s foreign residents are allowed to play in the country’s political activities and elections offer a surprisingly good opportunity to practice what we fondly refer to as “glass half-full” thinking.

We CAN get involved!

Although foreign residents may not be able to actually cast votes in elections, there are quite a few other things that we can do to involve ourselves in Japan’s political “machine” — and they are all legal. This tidbit of knowledge may come as somewhat of a surprise to Japanese and non-Japanese readers alike, but I assure you that it’s all verifiable in black-and-white. Well, to be totally honest, you’ll find this truth “told” more in white than black, as the Election Law is much more revealing in terms of what is not written on its pages than what is. The point is simply this: Although the law doesn’t directly state that foreign residents can participate in political and electoral activities, it also does not prohibit us from doing so. You can check it out for yourself; the Free Choice Foundation has posted the election rules in English on its Web site at www.FreeChoice.jp/election.asp or you can call the Election Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications to hear it straight from the powers that be. The bureaucrats will be happy to tell you that, other than not being able to make political donations, residents of Japan are immune from discrimination of any kind — including by nationality — regarding participation in electoral activities.

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100622zg.html

ENDS

COMMENT:  I’ve done it.  It’s fun.  Give it a try.  And get your voice heard that way.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Metropolis Mag has thoughtful article regarding the convoluted debate for NJ PR suffrage

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Andy Sharp in Metropolis Magazine offers up a very well researched touchstone article on the debate re NJ Permanent Residents getting suffrage, unearthing more arguments and attitudes behind those who support and oppose it.  Love the quote from the former cop (Sassa) who mistrusts NJ, but of course makes an exception (typical) for the NJ interviewer in the room (‘cos he’s White and from a developed country).  I myself don’t see the DPJ expending more political capital on the NJ PR suffrage issue anytime soon.  But let’s see how the upcoming election treats the Kan Cabinet.  I have already heard from a friend in politics that the below-mentioned far-right People’s New Party is awash in enough cash that they’re attracting a few underfunded candidates ready to make Faustian bargains.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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DISENFRANCHISED
Japan weighs up whether to give foreign residents the vote
Metropolis Magazine By: Andy Sharp | Jun 17, 2010 | Issue: 847 Courtesy of lots of people.

http://metropolis.co.jp/features/feature/disenfranchised/

“The Chinese coming to Japan now were educated during the rule of Jiang Zemin. Their ideology is not welcome in Japan. We want more foreigners like you—Americans and Britons—to come here.”

Atsuyuki Sassa, 79, makes no bones about what type of gaikokujin he’d prefer to see living and working in his native country. The former secretary general of the Security Council of Japan is up in arms about recent moves to allow the nearly 1 million permanent residents here to vote in local elections. In April, he organized a “10,000 People Rally” at the Nippon Budokan to bring together opponents of the plan, with keynote speeches by the likes of People’s New Party leader Shizuka Kamei and Your Party chief Yoshimi Watanabe.

“If Chinese could vote in local elections, they wouldn’t vote for [candidates] who criticize China or North Korea,” he says. “What could happen if this type of person were granted the vote?”

The debate over foreign suffrage has rolled on for decades, but it was reignited last summer when the Democratic Party of Japan—a longtime champion of the issue—ousted the ruling Liberal Democrat Party from power. However, with the DPJ itself split over the subject, is there any hope of permanent residents ever getting the vote—local or otherwise?

Forty-five countries—about one in every four democracies—offer some sort of voting rights for resident aliens, according to David Earnest, author of Old Nations, New Voters, an extensive study of why democracies grant suffrage to noncitizens. These range from first-world powers such as the United States, Canada, the UK and other European Union members, to less preeminent nations like Malawi and Belize.

The type of voting rights differ from country to country: the UK permits resident Commonwealth citizens to vote in national and local elections; New Zealand allows foreigners who have lived there for more than a year to vote in parliamentary polls; Sweden, the Netherlands and Norway grant all foreign residents the vote in local polls, but not in national elections; and Portugal offers a hybrid that lets EU nationals vote only in local elections, but gives full enfranchisement in parliamentary elections to Brazilians.

Earnest explains that the consequences of granting local suffrage to foreigners are not yet entirely clear, seeing as how it is a relatively recent phenomenon. However, he gives four benefits that are typically cited by advocates: it encourages foreign residents to naturalize; it leads to better government; it’s an opportunity for “brain gain” rather than “brain drain”; and it makes for a more just society.

On the other hand, there are two core arguments for refusing to enfranchise alien residents. “By far and away, the most common reason is that governments or courts conclude that, as a constitutional or legal matter, the right to vote is reserved exclusively for citizens,” he says. “Another reason is that governments and citizens alike object to discrimination in voting rights. Canada and Australia once allowed British nationals to vote in parliamentary elections, but have since revoked this right. In both cases, the governments concluded that it was unfair to favor one group over other similar foreign residents.”

According to Earnest, critics argue that extending voting rights to foreigners can devalue the institution of citizenship and discourage naturalization. They also say it can marginalize as much as integrate foreign residents, because governments may use it as a substitute for naturalization, assuring permanent populations of foreigners with no prospect of becoming citizens.

According to the most recent Ministry of Justice figures, 912,361 of the approximately 2.22 million foreigners living in Japan are permanent residents. These eijusha are divided into two categories—a classification that has muddied the waters of the suffrage issue.

Nearly half of them (420,305) are considered tokubetsu eijusha, “special permanent residents” who hail mostly from the Korean Peninsula and have additional privileges in relation to immigration matters. The remaining 492,056 “ordinary” eijusha come from 190 different countries, the largest populations being Chinese (142,469), Brazilian (110,267), Filipino (75,806) and Korean (53,106). The Western country with the most permanent residents in Japan is the United States, with 11,814.

Granting local suffrage to these residents has long been a pet policy of DPJ pooh-bah Ichiro Ozawa, and was supported by former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. However, like many of the pledges that the party made prior to its election victory last year, it remains unfulfilled. The government has procrastinated over the issue as it became bogged down by funding scandals and the Futenma base controversy, which spun Hatoyama off the prime-ministerial kaiten-zushi belt and toppled Ozawa from his secretary general perch. New PM Naoto Kan also backs foreign suffrage, but it’s unclear whether he will make it a top priority.

Other parties are divided on the subject. The leftist Social Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party are joined by New Komeito in their support of foreign suffrage, while the right-leaning Liberal Democratic Party, People’s New Party (a member of the DPJ-led coalition) and Your Party are opposed.

The liberal-conservative split is also evident in the media. The Asahi Shimbun is in favor, while the Sankei and Yomiuri have slammed the idea, the latter stating in an editorial last October: “It is not unfathomable that permanent foreign residents who are nationals of countries hostile to Japan could disrupt or undermine local governments’ cooperation with the central government by wielding influence through voting in local elections.”

Yet the public seems to approve of opening polling stations to these “lifers.” Surveys conducted by the Asahi in January and the Mainichi last November found that 60 and 59 percent of respondents, respectively, supported foreign suffrage in local elections—turnout for which tends to hover around the 40 percent mark.

This August will mark the 100th anniversary of Japan’s annexation of Korea, an event which understandably has enormous resonance with the Korean diaspora living here today. Zainichi Koreans who were forcibly brought to Japan for work had been able to vote in local elections until they lost this entitlement in December 1945 (which was, ironically, the same month in which women were first given the vote).

Since its establishment in 1946, the Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan) has repeatedly urged the government to restore local suffrage to zainichi. The pro-Seoul organization (which is distinct from the Pyongyang-affiliated Chongryon) stepped up its campaign in the ’70s through increased activism by second-generation zainichi.

“We were born in Japan,” says Seo Won Cheol, secretary-general of a Mindan taskforce on foreign suffrage. “All our friends were Japanese, yet we couldn’t become teachers [or] local civil servants, nor could we take out loans or buy homes. We started [campaigning] because of this prejudice based purely on our nationality.”

Mindan has continued to push for enfranchisement of all permanent residents over the years, filing a number of lawsuits—one of which led to a historical ruling. In 1995, the Supreme Court concluded that aliens with permanent residency have the constitutional right to vote in local elections, because local government is closely linked to the daily lives of residents.

Reenergized, the DPJ and Komeito submitted a bill to the Diet advocating foreign suffrage, prior to a visit by South Korean President Kim Dae-jung in 1998. Similar bills have been presented on several other occasions since, but successive LDP-led governments have bounced them all out of parliament.

The South Korean government’s decision in 2005 to open ballot boxes to permanent residents in local elections gave proponents fresh hope, as did the change of government last summer. But Seo, a second-generation zainichi, frets over the DPJ’s procrastination.

“It’s unlikely [a bill] will be submitted before the upper house election in July, but depending on where it lies on Kan’s list of priorities, it may or may not be put to the Diet during an extraordinary Diet session starting in September,” the 58-year-old says. “The resignations of Ozawa and Hatoyama are a blow, but Kan has long been a supporter and we’ll have to wait and see what develops.”

Opponents often argue that foreigners should become Japanese citizens if they want to vote, but permanent residents can be reluctant to relinquish their nationality for reasons of culture and identity—especially zainichi, many of whom were forced migrants or their descendents. “The Supreme Court’s 1995 ruling showed we were entitled to vote at the local level without naturalizing,” says Seo.

Supporters of foreign suffrage aren’t the only ones who were galvanized by the DPJ’s election victory. There has also been a surge in activity by rightists, one of whom was so incensed that he stormed into the DPJ headquarters brandishing a wooden sword and smashed up a computer in Hatoyama’s empty office last October.

Sassa, who was decorated as a Commander of the British Empire for arranging security for Queen Elizabeth II’s visit here in 1975, takes a more conventional stance.

“I’m not prejudiced against foreigners, but the law states that foreigners must not take part in election campaigns,” he says. “The Constitution states that only Japanese citizens may vote.

“Foreigners should nationalize if they have money and speak the language. I do think, however, that [this process] takes many years and the conditions should be relaxed.”

Sassa has bitter memories of zainichi North Koreans from his days as a top brass in the Metropolitan Police Department. He fears that enfranchising pro-Pyongyang Koreans could lead to a repeat of the violent attacks against his constabulary peers during communist-led demonstrations in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

“If we granted them suffrage, many police officers would have to put their bodies on the line, and so from a security perspective, there is no way that I could agree with the enfranchisement [of North Koreans],” he says. “We’d have to clamp down on some, but grant the vote to people of other nationalities. This is contradictory.”

Sassa also argues that foreign suffrage in local elections could have repercussions at a national level, if residents of prefectures that administer disputed territories were coerced by their respective governments to vote for particular candidates.

Kazuhiro Nagao, a professor of constitutional law at Chuo University, explained how this might work in a March 1 Daily Yomiuri op-ed: “There are about 30,000 eligible voters in Tsushima city, and a candidate can win in the city council election with at least 685 votes. If foreign residents are granted voting rights, those candidates who regard Tsushima Island as a South Korean territory can win in the election.”

While opponents and advocates seem to be interpreting the law to suit their own beliefs, Earnest sees the zainichi situation as unique, and argues that the suffrage issue raises important ethical questions.

“Japan’s special permanent residents did not choose to migrate to Japan,” he says. “No doubt there was some forced migration among the former European colonial powers and their overseas possessions, but Japan’s forced migration is more recent. What obligation does Japan have to permanent foreign residents?

“Japan may offer a case where two wrongs make a right,” he continues. “While one might normally object to discrimination in the granting of voting rights, in this case, one might justify special rights for Japan’s special permanent residents as the country’s commitment to redress an historical injustice.”

While such a solution could appease zainichi, however, the majority of permanent residents would remain disenfranchised. This is unlikely to placate the likes of Shayne Bowden, an Australian teacher and musician who is a permanent resident living in Fukuoka.

“I’ve been here 11 years,” he says. “I should be able to have a say in the politics of my community. We pay our share and contribute to the place we live. This should justify our right to vote.”
ENDS

Canada spending even more than Japan this time on G8/G20 summits. However, controversy ensues.

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Let’s see how a vetting media works.  Investigating journalists uncover money being wasted and tell the public about it.  Few apparent fears in the domestic media about spoiling the party for our international guests.  And no apparent trampling on civil liberties.

Should happen in Japan too, as we have freedom of the press.  But no, check out what happened the last two times Japan hosted G8 Summits (here and here).

I think it’s about time we stopped this corrupt nonsense in the guise of international summetry.  It’s like holding an Olympics every year in a sparkling new venue, except nobody can attend but government elites.  Pigs at the trough.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Canadian summitry
A loonie boondoggle
Ostentation in a time of austerity
Jun 17th 2010 | OTTAWA

http://www.economist.com/node/16377317

FOR all his gifts as a political tactician, Stephen Harper, Canada’s Conservative prime minister, may have miscalculated how much Canadians want to pay to host the G8 and G20 summits from June 25th to 27th. As the government struggles to close a large budget deficit, it is spending C$1.2 billion ($1.2 billion) to host the world’s leaders—60% more than Japan, the previous record holder, coughed up for the G8 gathering in Okinawa in 2000.

Mr Harper points out that Canada is holding back-to-back summits—doubling the cost, he says. The government also notes that it can hardly be blamed for providing airtight security. It has built a steel fence around the woodland cottage resort at Muskoka that will receive the G8, and deployed special forces on overtime to lurk in the water and surrounding forest.

But critics counter that Mr Harper could have saved money by inviting the G20 to Muskoka as well, rather than receiving them separately in Toronto, 200 km (125 miles) to the south. Moreover, they note that much of the budget has gone on items of dubious utility and taste. The prime minister has become the butt of jokes for commissioning an artificial lake, complete with mock canoes and recordings of the call of the loon, for the G20 summit’s media centre—which sits just yards from the real Lake Ontario. In Muskoka taxpayers are on the hook for a refurbished steamboat that won’t even float until the summit is over, and new outdoor toilets 20km from the meeting site. So much for small government.

ENDS

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Auditor ready to look at G20 security tab
Sun May 30, 9:45 PM
By The Canadian Press, Courtesy of MMT

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/100530/national/g20_security_audit

OTTAWA – Auditor General Sheila Fraser is ready to look at the huge security costs for the G8 and G20 summit meetings next month.

”Once the events have occurred and the spending has occurred we can look to see if it was done appropriately,” she told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday.

The billion-dollar tab for security prompted angry clashes in the House of Commons last week, with Public Safety Minister Vic Toews staunchly defending the costs.

”It certainly seems like a lot of money,” Fraser said. ”I think we have to understand better what is it for.”

She said the audit would be routine.

”Given the amount of spending, it is something that we would normally look at in our financial work,” she said.

”I would expect that there are a lot of people involved in this,” she said. ”The costs of housing and overtime and equipment I’m sure are going to be substantial.

”We would have to look at what planning has gone on and was the spending really just for these events or not.”

Toews says he’s fine with an audit.

The G8 is slated for Huntsville, Ont. June 25-26 followed immediately by the G20 in Toronto.

Fraser also said she hasn’t heard formally that MPs and senators have changed their minds about letting her audit the half-billion parliamentary budget.

”I’ve had no communication from them since their letter indicating that they were refusing our request.”

The politicians, though, are saying she’s welcome to come in for an audit. They changed their tune after the public reacted angrily to the news they had turned down Fraser’s request to look at Parliament’s annual half-billion-dollar budget.

Fraser says if she does get a formal invitation, she won’t focus on the expenses of individual MPs and senators.

”What we had proposed was never an audit of MP expenses alone,” she said. ”That would have been part of a financial management audit, but we would also look potentially at issues like human resource management or security on the Hill, contracting, those sort of broader management issues.”

Her auditors would be more interested in procedures and policies.

”We would look to see what kind of rules and procedures and controls are in place,” she said.

”We would expect the House of Commons and the Senator to have good policies and procedures, that they be comprehensive and that they be communicated well. If that is the case, we would do spot checks to make sure that those policies are actually being followed.”

She said such an audit normally takes about a year, so if the invitation comes soon, she could have a report by the middle of 2011.

ENDS

Powerpoint presentation: “Japan Past the Point of No Return”

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Here’s an eye-opening presentation, done by a person who knows a helluva lot more about financial particulars than I do.  Food for thought.  Courtesy of MMT.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Japan – Past the Point of No Return – By Vitaliy Katsenelson

http://contrarianedge.com/2010/02/23/japan-past-the-point-of-no-return/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 20, 2010

mytest

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.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 20, 2010

Table of Contents:
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THE CHINESE ARE COMING
1) Asahi has whiny article on how Chinese tourists don’t spend properly
2) Toyoko Inn opens “exclusively Chinese” hotel in Susukino Sapporo, refuses Japanese and other NJ; media ignores questionable legality
3) Taiwanese-Japanese Dietmember Renho becomes first multiethnic Cabinet member; racist Dietmember Hiranuma continues ranting about it
4) Debito.org Reader asks for advice regarding Chinese “Trainees” exploitation, stolen wallet, and local police

THE IMMIGRANTS ARE NOT
5) Asahi poll: Japan would rather be poorer as a nation than accept immigration
6) Osaka Minami public campaign: “exclude bad foreigners” like yakuza, enlists enka singer as spokesperson
7) Kansai Scene June 2010 article on issue of refugees and J Detention Centers (“Gaijin Tanks”)
8 ) Guardian on benefits of immigration to UK, NW on GOJ’s history promoting anti-racism 90 years ago at League of Nations!

TANGENTS
9) Reuters: Showings of Oscar-winning documentary The Cove cancelled in Japan due to threat of protest
10) Support and preview FROM THE SHADOWS documentary on Japan’s Child Abductions: Tokyo Shibuya Thurs Jun 24 7PM, admission free
11) Kyodo: GOJ survey indicates 70% of J disabled feel discriminated against. Nice they, unlike NJ, even got asked.
12) Fun Facts #15: Percentages of J high school grads matriculating into college by prefecture
13) Excellent Mark Schreiber article on history of crime terms in J media

… and finally …

14) Kansai Scene June 2010 interview re NJ PR suffrage issue (full text)
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By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
Daily RSS Feed debito.org, Twitter arudoudebito
Freely Forwardable

Table of Contents:
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THE CHINESE ARE COMING

1) Asahi has whiny article on how Chinese tourists don’t spend properly

The Asahi opines and whines: China tourists stingy in some areas

Japanese businesses and local governments that have gone all out to win over the throngs of Chinese tourists are finding that their guests can be a frugal bunch at times.

The Chinese tourists have shown a tendency to scrimp on accommodations and meals and bypass tourist attractions for the main purpose of their trips — buying electronic appliances and designer brand clothing and accessories.

In Fukuoka, where 66 cruise ships from China are scheduled to call port this year, city officials have estimated an economic windfall of 2.89 billion yen from the Chinese visitors.

But according to a travel agency official in the city, the cruise ships moor in Fukuoka for only about 10 hours, and most tourists are more interested in shopping than taking in the sights. The central government has eased visa requirements for individual tourists and increased promotion campaigns to lure more Chinese tourists to Japan. But experts say this may not be enough to spread the wealth.

COMMENT: Chinese spend too much of their time SHOPPING! Heavens to Murgatroyd! I think Japan’s media in this economic climate should be happy that rich Chinese are coming here to spend at all (and not staying on to trouble Japanese society through illegal overstays); they’re already being sequestered in some places. But no, we’ll get the grumbles that they’re not getting out enough anyway. What would be the perfect tourist in Japanese media eyes, I wonder?

http://www.debito.org/?p=6948

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2) Toyoko Inn opens “exclusively Chinese” hotel in Susukino Sapporo, refuses Japanese and other NJ; media ignores questionable legality

Dovetailing with the recent Debito.org posts showing China’s increasing domestic influence over Japan’s economics (here and here), below we have some newspaper articles (Japanese, couldn’t find English anywhere) noting that Toyoko Inn has opened a new hotel complex in Sapporo Susukino that caters exclusively to Chinese. The Nikkei and the Yomiuri call it “Chuugokujin sen’you hoteru” below, smacking of the “Nihonjin Sen’you Ten” wording used for signs in Russian excluding all foreigners entry from businesses in Monbetsu, Hokkaido (i.e. only Chinese are allowed to stay in this hotel). Local Doshin only mildly mentions they are “Chuugokujin muke” (catering to Chinese).

I’m pretty torn by this development. On one hand, here is an unusually progressive business initiative in hiring and catering to NJ (with nary a mention of all the “different culture resulting in the inevitable frictions” that was a undercurrent of much domestic reporting about, say, Australians investing in Niseko). Supply and demand, you might say, who cares if the money is from Chinese. Fine.

On the other hand, however, we have the Balkanization of the hotel industry, with NJ being assigned their own special gated community (in violation of Japanese law; choosing customers by nationality is unlawful under the Hotel Management Law), with again nary a question about the legality.

And again, this is the Toyoko Inn, with its history of special policies for racial profiling and declining hotel rooms (or threatening to) to “foreigners”, including residents and naturalized citizens, who do not show their Gaijin Cards. Not to mention embezzling GOJ funds earmarked for handicapped facilities.

In short, I smell a rat. Yet more opportunism and questionable legal practices by Toyoko Inn. I’d recommend you not patronize them, but then again, unless you’re a Chinese reading this, you probably can’t stay at the hotel in question anyway.

UPDATE: Called Toyoko Inn. Yes, they accept only Chinese guests. All other NJ and Japanese (yes, Japanese) are refused lodging.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6864

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3) Taiwanese-Japanese Dietmember Renho becomes first multiethnic Cabinet member; racist Dietmember Hiranuma continues ranting about it

The new Kan Cabinet started out last week, and it would of course be remiss of me to not mention that one of the Cabinet members, Renho, has become the first multiethnic Dietmember to serve in the highest echelons of elected political power in Japan. Congratulations!

She is, however, a constant target of criticism by the Far Right in Japan, who accuse her of not being a real Japanese (she is of Japanese-Taiwanese extraction, who chose Japanese citizenship). Dietmember Hiranuma Takeo most notably. He continued his invective against her on May 7 from a soundtruck, and it made the next day’s Tokyo Sports Shinbun. Courtesy of Dave Spector.

It goes without saying that this is a basically a rant about a Cabinet member by a former Cabinet member who will never be a Cabinet member again, an aging ideological dinosaur raging against tide and evolution. Sucks to be a bigot and in a position of perpetual weakness as well, I guess.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6873

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4) Debito.org Reader asks for advice regarding Chinese “Trainees” exploitation, stolen wallet, and local police

Here is a post from somebody seeking advice from Debito.org Readers. He’s seen a situation where Chinese “Trainees” are being exploited, where his wallet has been stolen but police allegedly won’t act on it, and just general confusion about what to do and where to go about things that he considers to be just plain off-kilter. Again, advice welcome.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6931

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THE IMMIGRANTS ARE NOT

5) Asahi poll: Japan would rather be poorer as a nation than accept immigration

The Asahi did an extensive poll on what people see as Japan’s future in relative economic decline. Results indicate that people are distressed about China overtaking Japan, but they apparently aren’t ready to change much to change that. Most germane to Debito.org is the question:

“On accepting immigrants to maintain economic vitality, only 26 percent supported such a move, while 65 percent opposed.”

Meaning that people polled apparently would rather be poorer as a nation than accept immigrants.

Of course, no immigrant without citizenship was polled (if even then), so ah well.

That said, we had the good point, raised within the blog comments on this the other day, that it just might be better for organic acceptance of immigrants over time than to bring in huge numbers and force them on the populace (although I don’t see events over this past decade helping matters much, including the unfettered hate speech towards NJ during the PR Suffrage debates, political leaders publicly doubting the “true Japaneseness” of naturalized Japanese or Japanese with NJ roots, and other elements of officialdom blaming NJ for social problems such as crime, terrorism, and infectious diseases).

Then again, a friend of mine also raised an even more pertinent point: “What’s the point of asking that question at all? We still haven’t had a good debate on immigration and why Japan needs it. Nobody’s explained the merits of immigration to the Japanese public all that well. [In fact, discussion of it is even taboo.]. So no wonder people are negatively predisposed. Why change things when we don’t understand why?” Touche.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6905

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6) Osaka Minami public campaign: “exclude bad foreigners” like yakuza, enlists enka singer as spokesperson

Here we have a part of Osaka Chuo-ku making public announcements protecting their municipality against “illegal foreign overstayers” and “illegal workers”. Using invective like “furyou gaikokujin haijo” (exclude bad foreigners), it’s rendered on the same level as the regular neighborhood clarion calls for “bouryokudan haijo” (exclude the yakuza). I see. Foreigners who overstay their visa and who get employed (sometimes at the behest and the advantage of the Japanese employer) are on the same level as organized crime? And you can pick out Yakuza just as easily as NJ on sight, right?

This campaign has been going on for years (since Heisei 17, five years ago), but the Yomiuri now reports efforts to really get the public involved by tapping an enka singer to promote the campaign. How nice. But it certainly seems an odd problem to broadcast on the street like this since 1) I don’t see the same targeting happening to Japanese employers who give these “bad foreigners” their jobs, and 2) numbers of illegal overstays caught have reportedly gone down by half since a decade ago.

Never mind. We have budgets to spend, and disenfranchised people to pick on. Nice touch to see not only sponsorship from the local International Communication Association (how interculturally sensitive!), but also “America Mura no Kai”, whatever that is. Yet another example of state-sanctioned attempts to spread xenophobia and lower the image of NJ — this time by gangsterizing them.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6835

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7) Kansai Scene June 2010 article on issue of refugees and J Detention Centers (“Gaijin Tanks”)

Here’s an interesting article from Kansai Scene magazine this month, this time on the issue of refugees and Detention Centers (“Gaijin Tanks”) in Japan. Excerpt:

Joseph isn’t his real name. He’s afraid of what theconse- quences might be if Japanese Immigration finds out that that he is speaking with the press. There’s a chance he would be sent back to the Immigrant Detention Center. His appeal might be denied, which would lead todepor- tation. Deportation means arrest as soon as his plane hits African soil. ‘Arrest’ in his country usually means disappearing forever. He needs to stay in Japan, and to stay here he has to remain invisible. So, he stays invisible.

Historically, Japan has been far from welcoming to refugees. Since 1990, 344 people have been given refugee status. In 2009, only thirty asylum-seekers were accepted, out of 1,388 applicants; an acceptance rate of 2.2 percent. Despite signing the 1951 UN Conventions Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1981 and 1982, respectively, the government essentially keeps the borders closed to the dispossessed, while donating enough money to the UNHCR (UN High Commission for Refugees) to justify their claim to be a humanitarian nation.

The issue, however, is not only the overwhelming denial of applications, but also the total lack of a safety net for those who do arrive on Japanese soil. It is difficult to obtain informa-tion at the airport, and some who try are sent to detention centers or are deported immediately for lack of proper documentation. Because of the language barrier, many new arrivals are unaware that a refugee application process exists at all. They simply overstay their visas until they are caught by immigration and arrested.

The detention centers are essentially prisons. Up to ten people share a room with one toilet. They are each given five blankets for a bed, and one or two hours of exercise a day. Those applying for refugee status are mixed with criminals awaiting deportation. Joseph spent almost a year in the Ibaraki detention center after being arrested for overstaying his visa. It was upon arriving at the center that he first learned of the potential to be declared a refugee, and began the application process. His application was refused within a month, and he started his appeal. In the meantime, he sat in his cell, keeping to himself. “The inmates are chaotic,” he told me. “[They are] from prison and awaiting deportation. They will do anything. They know they are going back.”…

http://www.debito.org/?p=6922

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8 ) Guardian on benefits of immigration to UK, NW on GOJ’s history promoting anti-racism 90 years ago at League of Nations!

Another Debito.org Reader contributes two poignant articles: One is germane to the recent comments here about whether immigration offers economic benefits to societies (an article in The Guardian in 2007 citing a PriceWaterhouseCoopers study indicates that it has for the UK). Another is an evergreen letter to the editor (which went unpublished) about Japan’s historical record advocating anti-racism 90 years ago in the League of Nations.

Guardian: The flow of migrant workers into the UK has boosted economic growth and helped keep a lid on inflation without undermining the jobs of British-born workers, according to a study released [in February 2007]. The report by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers enters a vigorous debate about whether immigration has a positive impact on the UK economy. The public finances have also not suffered as a result of the influx of migrant workers, the study finds. Most migrants are aged between 18 and 34 years, with high employment rates compared with their UK equivalents, and therefore benefit payments are low. They also receive comparatively low wages despite their good education and skills levels. Younger workers have fewer dependants and so are unlikely to be an additional burden on public services, the report says.

League of Nations: Discussions for what should be included in the [League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations] Covenant were not without controversy, notably the following proposal: “The equality of nations being a basic principle of the League of Nations, the High Contracting Parties agree to accord, as soon as possible, to all alien nationals of states members of the League, equal and just treatment in every respect, making no distinction, either in law or fact, on account of their race or nationality.”

Unsurprisingly, Great Britain and its Dominions of Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand saw the proposal as a threat to “white” colonial power and swiftly engineered its rejection … Perhaps surprising, especially to letter writers whose advice to foreign residents with complaints about their lives here is to put up, shut up, or leave, is that the proposal was put forward by Japan’s Foreign Minister Nobuaki Makino.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6450

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TANGENTS

9) Reuters: Showings of Oscar-winning documentary The Cove cancelled in Japan due to threat of protest

Reuters: Tokyo screenings of “The Cove,” an Oscar-winning documentary about a grisly annual dolphin hunt have been canceled over planned protests by conservatives who say the film is anti-Japanese, the distributor said on Saturday…

Planned showings of the film at two cinemas in Tokyo this month have been canceled because of fears the protests might inconvenience movie-goers and others, according to Unplugged, the Japan distributor.

Screenings at one Osaka theater have also been called off, but Unplugged is still in negotiations to show the movie at 23 venues around the country this summer, said a spokeswoman for the company, who asked not to be named.

Unplugged has received threatening phone calls and protesters have gathered outside its offices, she said.

“‘The Cove’ is absolutely not an anti-Japanese film,” Takeshi Kato of Unplugged said in a faxed statement. “I believe a deep and constructive debate is needed about the content of the film.”

COMMENT: Here we go again. Something critical of Japan becomes derided as “anti-Japanese” and is threatened if it gets shown in Japan. This society has to learn that criticism of Japan is actually good for Japan, and that bully boys who want to suppress healthy debate about an issue should be ignored or criticized themselves as unhealthy and unconstitutional. Yet protests by The Left go ignored because they probably won’t get violent, while protests by The Right just might, and the police won’t prosecute if they do. Hence the incentive to become violent is there for the bullies, and they get even more power through intimidation. Canceling showings of a controversial movie like this just strengthens the bullies and helps them proliferate.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6866

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10) Support and preview FROM THE SHADOWS documentary on Japan’s Child Abductions: Tokyo Shibuya Thurs Jun 24 7PM, admission free

Forwarding from Eric: Right now there exists the terrible reality that — as gaijin parents — we are at substantial risk of completely losing access to our children if our marriage dissolves, or even if our spouse just decides to make a break with us and abduct the kid(s). Japan is a country with no dual-custody laws, and a social practice of severely limiting, and often severing, the non-custodial parent’s access to their kids when the marriage ends.

I write today to seek your contribution for the completion of a documentary that is trying to directly help protect the interests of parents like us.

Take a look at this trailer for one particular group’s upcoming documentary film:

http://www.fromtheshadowsmovie.com/english/index.html

Political and social awareness is picking up, but we need to add fuel to this movement that is trying to help us.

In Jan 2010, six out of seven G7 governments pressed Japan to sign an international anti-parental child abduction treaty called the Hague Convention, which Japan has so far refused for nearly 30 years. There has also been a recent proposed House (US Congress) Resolution threatening sanctions on Japan for allowing the kidnapping of US citizens. More info is here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=hr111-1326&tab=summary

This is all going in the right direction, but it is not enough. We need grass roots pressure as well.

I am trying to help a two gentlemen (see attached doc for more background info) who have worked their butts off the past couple of years to make a documentary film about child abduction in Japan. As you will see in the attachment, they’ve had a lot of success so far, but hope to enter their documentary into a major film festival so that its profile can be raised and reach a broad audience.

My personal request…?

I hope you can join a group of us at 7:00 pm on Thurs, June 24th in Shibuya

Cerego Japan Inc.

Ninomiya Bldg 4F
18-4 Sakuragaoka-cho
150-0031 Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

(location: http://blog.smart.fm/en/about/location/ ) to watch the latest cut of their documentary, engage with other concerned and/or affected parents, and help contribute to the completion and ongoing success of this film.

There is no entry fee to join us and watch. That said, contributions (assuming you like what you see) would be much appreciated…

http://www.debito.org/?p=6939

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

11) Kyodo: GOJ survey indicates 70% of J disabled feel discriminated against. Nice they, unlike NJ, even got asked.

Kyodo: Nearly seven out of every 10 people with disabilities said they have faced discrimination or biased treatment, an annual government report showed Friday.

The fiscal 2010 white paper on measures for disabled people, released by the Cabinet Office, says 68.0 percent of those surveyed said they have experienced discrimination or biased treatment because of their disabilities.

The office surveyed 2,178 people with disabilities between December 2009 and January 2010.

COMMENT: How nice. But wouldn’t it also be nice if the GOJ were to survey NJ to see if THEY feel they had been discriminated against. But they won’t. They don’t survey NJ. And when they do survey the general public in human-rights surveys, the questions are phrased so as to discount, even justify, the discrimination against them. Citations from 2007 GOJ survey here.

In sum, this to me is another example of the GOJ manufacturing consent to sway the public to accept a policy position. Fortunately, it’s for protecting people, not hurting them. But wouldn’t it be nice if the GOJ had somehow stepped in during all the nasty debates re NJ PR suffrage and curbed the hate speech, or even ask NJ sometime in a Cabinet Survey if THEY feel discriminated against? After all, we’ve already signed a Convention designed to protect them — nearly fifteen years ago in 1996, so there should be no disinclination. But no, NJ don’t deserve the same attention. After all, they aren’t Japanese.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6897

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12) Fun Facts #15: Percentages of J high school grads matriculating into college by prefecture

As a Sunday Tangent, here are the Ministry of Education’s latest figures (2009) for Japanese high school students entering college. In most prefectures, it’s only about half the graduates. Figures here.

A cursory look reveals that Okinawa has by far the fewest percentage of students going on to college (the national average is 53.9%), and Tokyo/Kyoto (Kyoto allegedly being the place with the highest number of colleges per capita) the highest. Hokkaido is significantly below average as well (third from the bottom), but it’s still higher than Iwate. See how your prefecture stacks up.

As this is a Fun Facts category, I’ll leave interpretations to others. But this is significantly less than the American percentages, according to the US Department of Labor, reporting that 70.1% of high school graduates went to college last year. Given that university is significantly more expensive in the US than in Japan (it costs at least a luxury car per year these days in tuition alone to go to, say, an elite private or Ivy League), I’m disinclined to say it’s a matter of economics. Thoughts?

http://www.debito.org/?p=6907

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13) Excellent Mark Schreiber article on history of crime terms in J media

As a Sunday Tangent, here’s a lovely little lesson in Japanese from a person who’s collated all this information the hardscrabble way — through years of experience in Japan. Mark Schreiber has been here about as long as I’ve been alive (he came to Japan in 1965 shortly after I was born; no connection, of course), and I love it when we have shortcuts like this to useful linguistic knowledge.

Excerpt: “If nabbed by police in ●●● (genkouhan, the act of committing a crime), a culprit might warn his cohorts by saying, ●●●●●●●●●●● (Oi, nigero! Satsu da!, Beat it! It’s the cops!).

To obtain witness testimony at ●●●● (hankou genba, the scene of the crime), police will engage in ●●●● (kikikomi, door-to-door canvassing). In serious cases, a ●●●●toubousha, fugitive) might be the subject of a ●●●●●● (zenkoku shimei tehai, nationwide dragnet).

Of course, ●●● (zenkamono, people with a previous criminal record) facing a prison sentence are likely to ●●●●●●● (muzai wo shuchou suru, proclaim innocence), using such expressions as ●●●●●●●●●● (Boku wa zettai ni yatte nai, I absolutely didn’t do it), ●●●● (Boku wa shiro da, I’m “white,” i.e., “clean” or innocent), or even ●●●●●●●●● (Nureginu wo kiserareta, I was made to wear wet silk, i.e., framed).

To avoid the possibility of ●●●● (enzai saiban, a miscarriage of justice), police must follow procedure while bearing in mind that ●●●●●●●● (utagawashiki wa bassezu, suspicion does not equal guilt, i.e., the suspect is innocent until proved guilty).”

http://www.debito.org/?p=6307

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

… and finally …

14) Kansai Scene June 2010 interview re NJ PR suffrage issue (full text)

Online at http://www.debito.org/?p=6848

On May 8, 2010, at 3:32 PM, Kansai Scene wrote:

Mr. Arudou, Many, many thanks for the swift response. My questions for you are as follows.

1) To my knowledge, the number of Special Permanent Residents and Regular Permanent Residents is large enough to make up decent-sized voting blocs in only very, very few places in Japan. It’s cynical question, but why do you think the Democratic Party of Japan would take up an issue this contentious, given that there seems to be little tangible benefit for them, even if they do succeed?

ARUDOU: I’m not sure. Like with so many policies, the DPJ has been pretty poor in further justifying their policies in the face of blowback. Rumor has it that shadow leader Ichiro Ozawa is tight with South Korea and the Zainichi Japan-born ethnic Korean residents. But that’s essentially a rumor. Perhaps it is just seen as the right thing to do for these people, even if it meant the loss of political capital. However, the prioritizing (there were other policies in the DPJ Manifesto they could have accumulated political capital with first) and the fact that the opposition dominated the debate (where were the cabinet ministers, or even Finn-born Marutei Tsurunen, who should have stepped up and counterargued?) meant right-wing alarmism shouted down the issue. Shame. Poorly-run campaign.

2) Commentors on one message board (Japan Today) argued that if Zainichi Koreans weren’t willing to renounce their Korean citizenship, and naturalize, then they weren’t that particularly tied to Japan or its future, and didn’t deserve the right to any vote that would influence the same. Would you agree or disagree, and why?

ARUDOU: I disagree. As I’ve written elsewhere, there are close to half a million Zainichi born and raised here, who have been paying Japanese taxes their entire lives. Moreover, their relatives were former citizens of the Japanese empire (brought here both by force and by the war economy), contributing to and even dying for our country. In just about any other developed nation, they would be citizens already; they once were. Given that I’ve known some Zainichi refused citizenship for things as petty as a speeding ticket, this entire debate tack is an insult to some very long-suffering people, in fact very tied to Japan and its future.

3) You wrote in your 2.2.10 Japan Times column that naturalizing as a means to gain the right to vote was “not that simple”, due to the amount of effort required. However, you also wrote of the “years and effort” necessary to meet PR qualifications. Given that naturalized Japanese and Permanent Residents have both completed fairly lengthy procedures — suggesting their dedication to staying in the country — why do you think they are looked at so differently as far as “foreigners in Japan who deserve the right to vote” goes?

ARUDOU: Because PR residents and citizens are of course of legally different statuses. Citizens are not foreigners anymore. But given how difficult and arbitrary both nationality and PR procedure can be in Japan, and that plenty of other developed countries (see http://www.debito.org/?p=6209) have little problem granting long-term residents the right to vote in local elections, I will remain in support for local suffrage for any PRs in Japan.

4) Say, for example, that every foreigner in Japan were naturalized overnight, and could now vote freely in any election. How do you think the political landscape would change?

ARUDOU: I think we’d have a lot less alarmism from the radical right, who at the moment are picking on non-Japanese because they are so disenfranchised in Japan. Politicians would have to appeal to non-Japanese residents too. But the question is moot. Few if any countries allow non-citizens the vote when they’re fresh off the boat. Qualifying lines are always drawn. I’ll say PR is a good place to draw. In any case, with non-Japanese only 1.7% of the total population, I don’t see any major revolutions or devolutions resulting. People feared the same when women were granted suffrage after WWII. Have you ever seen a proportional rise in women representatives?

5) The issue itself now seems fairly dead in the water (at least for the time being). Do you think that PR in Japan will ever receive the right to vote? Why or why not?

ARUDOU: I think they will. I just have no idea when right now. But I’m by nature a hopeful person.

6) Finally, do you yourself vote? And, do you have any plans whatsoever to run for political office, as did Jon Heese of Ibaraki Prefecture?

ARUDOU: Of course I vote. I enjoy ballot boxing in Japan. No hanging chads here. Very sensible procedure. As for political office, it’s an entertaining thought…

ENDS

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All for now. Enjoy the Summer Solstice!

Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
Daily RSS Feed debito.org, Twitter arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 20, 2010 ENDS

Sunday Tangent: excellent Mark Schreiber article on crime terms in J media

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  As a Sunday Tangent, here’s a lovely little lesson in Japanese from a person who’s collated all this information the hardscrabble way — through years of experience in Japan.  Mark Schreiber has been here about as long as I’ve been alive (he came to Japan in 1965 shortly after I was born; no connection, of course), and I love it when we have shortcuts like this to useful linguistic knowledge.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

The Japan Times, Wednesday, March 24, 2010

BILINGUAL
Get the sukūpu on crime terms in Japanese (excerpt)

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ek20100324a1.html

By MARK SCHREIBER

Sometimes I’m asked how I came to be interested in crime in Japan. I guess it began in my early days here as a student and lowly paid salaryman in the late 1960s.

Before I could afford a newspaper subscription, I never lacked for sensational reading matter. All I had to do on my morning train commute was gaze upward at a 吊り広告 (tsurikōkoku, hanging advertisement) for a magazine. That finished, I would peer over the shoulders of fellow commuters poring over sports tabloids with huge red or blue headlines, often accompanied by supplementary words like スクープ! (sukūpu, scoop), ズバリ (zubari, no punches pulled), 暴露する! (bakuro suru, to disclose or lay bare) and 新事実 (shinjijitsu, new revelations).

My surreptitious 盗み読み (nusumi-yomi, theft-reading) was an economical way to keep abreast of current events — although sometimes I put Japanese coworkers on the spot when asking them to explain a particularly lurid term I’d picked up from the tabloids.

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ek20100324a1.html

ENDS

Asahi has whiny article on how Chinese tourists don’t spend properly

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Here’s something to kick the weekend off:  A whiny article by the Asahi picking on Chinese tourist spending habits.  It’s not that they don’t spend, oh no; it’s more that they don’t spend PROPERLY.  They spend too much of their time SHOPPING!  Heavens to Murgatroyd!  I think Japan’s media in this economic climate should be happy that rich Chinese are coming here to spend at all (and not staying on to trouble Japanese society through illegal overstays); they’re already being sequestered in some places.  But no, we’ll get the grumbles that they’re not getting out enough anyway.  What would be the perfect tourist in Japanese media eyes, I wonder?  What would be the perfect consumer, period?  Dare anyone criticize the Japanese public for their underconsumption, then?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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China tourists stingy in some areas
BY ETSUSHI TSURU THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
2010/06/16 Courtesy of Peach

http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201006150338.html

Japanese businesses and local governments that have gone all out to win over the throngs of Chinese tourists are finding that their guests can be a frugal bunch at times.

The Chinese tourists have shown a tendency to scrimp on accommodations and meals and bypass tourist attractions for the main purpose of their trips–buying electronic appliances and designer brand clothing and accessories.

Industry officials said if Japan wants to truly capitalize on the roughly 480,000 Chinese who visit Japan each year, it will have to do much more to convince the tourists that there is more to Japan than just shopping.

“Many of the points of interest, meals and souvenirs that Japanese are promoting are of little interest to Chinese,” said Ke Yue, president of public relations company Japan-China Communication Co.

Ke said Japan’s strategy should include nurturing human resources to specialize in the needs of Chinese tourists, whose numbers show no signs of slowing down.

A fierce price war has erupted over tours to Japan, with the price of a five-night, six-day packaged trip being offered for as little as 4,000 yuan (about 53,000 yen or $577) to 5,000 yuan.

According to an executive at a Chinese tourist agency, companies are eking out profits by cutting costs for meals and accommodations.

As a result, 90 percent of the packaged group tours are handled by Chinese, Hong Kong or Taiwanese businesses because few Japanese tourist companies would be able to generate a profit.

In Kisarazu, Chiba Prefecture, located at one end of the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line highway that spans Tokyo Bay, the number of Chinese who stayed overnight soared thirteenfold from 2,089 in 2005 to 26,162 in 2009.

The rise was attributed largely to the change in management at the Tokyo Bay Plaza Hotel in the city in 2006, when the current owner, a Japanese national originally from China, took over.

But the influx of tourists has not led to increased income for local businesses in the area.

According to Tokyo Bay Plaza Hotel staff, most Chinese simply use the hotel as a launch pad to travel across the bay and spend their money at stores in the Ginza and Akihabara districts of Tokyo.

The tourists’ shopping priorities are also reflected at the Taiyoro restaurant on the 47th floor of the Apa Hotel & Resort Tokyo Bay Makuhari in Chiba, which is usually packed with Chinese tourists on weekends.

“Ninety-five percent of our customers are group customers. Of them, 70 percent are Chinese,” said Akiharu Taiyoro, operator of the Taiyoro chain of restaurants. Taiyoro, a Shanghai native who became a naturalized Japanese in 2006, operates 10 restaurants in such tourist destinations as Tokyo and Osaka.

In 2009, more than 1.18 million people dined at Taiyoro’s buffet-style restaurants, which offer all-you-can-eat lunches for 1,500 yen, and dinners for 2,000 yen, plus free soft drinks, for two hours.

Tour groups accompanied by guides can receive a 30-percent discount.

Taiyoro said he visits China every other month to negotiate with travel agencies there.

“Chinese tourists come to Japan to shop, so they like to finish their meals quickly. The average tour group will spend about 45 minutes eating at our restaurant before a new group comes in. So it is a low-margin, high-turnover business, but it’s profitable,” he said.

In Fukuoka, where 66 cruise ships from China are scheduled to call port this year, city officials have estimated an economic windfall of 2.89 billion yen from the Chinese visitors.

But according to a travel agency official in the city, the cruise ships moor in Fukuoka for only about 10 hours, and most tourists are more interested in shopping than taking in the sights.

The central government has eased visa requirements for individual tourists and increased promotion campaigns to lure more Chinese tourists to Japan.

But experts say this may not be enough to spread the wealth.

“Japan must rush to create an environment that allows visitors to freely enjoy their visit,” said Du Guoqing, an associate professor of tourism at Rikkyo University.

Du, for example, pointed out that the inability to use Chinese driver’s licenses in Japan deprives the tourists of a chance to see much of the country.
ENDS

Guardian on benefits of immigration to UK, NW on GOJ’s history promoting anti-racism 90 years ago at League of Nations!

mytest

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.  NW sent me two poignant articles some time ago.  Sorry for the delay.  Here they are.  One is germane to the recent comments here about whether immigration offers economic benefits to societies (an article in The Guardian in 2007 citing a PriceWaterhouseCoopers study indicates that it has for the UK).  Another is an evergreen letter to the editor (which went unpublished) about Japan’s historical record advocating anti-racism 90 years ago in the League of Nations.   Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Hi Debito.  Two things for you to blog:

1. Merits of immigration
2. What should the GOJ give to make Japan more attractive for immigrants?

1. Merits of immigration

The UK experience – PricewaterhouseCoopers 2007 Report
Migrants have lifted economy, says study
· Influx of labour ‘has kept interest rates down’
· British-born workers have not been disadvantaged

Angela Balakrishnan, The Guardian, Tuesday 27 February 2007
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2007/feb/27/interestrates.workandcareers

The flow of migrant workers into the UK has boosted economic growth and helped keep a lid on inflation without undermining the jobs of British-born workers, according to a study released yesterday.

The report by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers enters a vigorous debate about whether immigration has a positive impact on the UK economy.

Britain was one of three nations that allowed free movement of labour after eight countries entered the EU in 2004, including Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Estonia. Most of the migrants from all of these new EU countries – estimated at half a million – have moved to the UK, although evidence suggests half of them have since returned home.

PwC’s research found that the new arrivals had pushed growth above its long-term trend and helped keep inflationary pressures and interest rates lower by increasing the supply of labour relative to demand.

Average earnings growth has been relatively subdued recently, at just under 4% excluding bonuses, and PwC said migrant workers had contributed to this. This finding supports the view of Professor David Blanchflower of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, who has voted to keep interest rates on hold on the basis of slack in the labour market.

The Treasury has also increasingly focused on the impact of migration, citing expected net migration as a key reason for raising its estimate of future economic growth to 2.75% from 2.5% in last December’s pre-budget report.

The PwC report found that although migrant workers had increased the supply of labour in the UK, there had not been any adverse effects on the employment prospects of British-born workers. “[Migrant] workers tend to be relatively productive and have filled important skills gaps in the UK labour market rather than just displacing UK-born workers,” said John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC.

The public finances have also not suffered as a result of the influx of migrant workers, the study finds. Most migrants are aged between 18 and 34 years, with high employment rates compared with their UK equivalents, and therefore benefit payments are low. They also receive comparatively low wages despite their good education and skills levels. Younger workers have fewer dependants and so are unlikely to be an additional burden on public services, the report says.

But Mr Hawksworth said the extra pressures on transport and housing might offset this slightly and should be taken into account in the forthcoming government spending review.

“Public spending projections do not appear to have been revised up in the pre-budget report to reflect higher future assumed migration, which suggests that on a per capita basis the squeeze on public spending growth pencilled in for the next spending review period may be even tighter than earlier projected,” he said.

The benefits highlighted by Mr Hawksworth contrast with comments from Richard Lambert, director-general of the CBI. The head of Britain’s leading employers’ organisation said last year that the government should be wary of introducing an open-door policy to new workers from Romania and Bulgaria, which joined the EU this year. Mr Lambert warned that depending on migrant labour could mean skill levels of UK citizens would not be raised sufficiently and could risk damaging social cohesion.

ENDS

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2. What should the GOJ give to make Japan more attractive for immigrants?

Give us the vote – below is an unpublished letter I submitted to the Japan Times in December 2009:

A Missed Anniversary

It seems an anniversary went unnoticed in 2009. Ninety years ago, in the aftermath of the blood-soaked trenches of the First World War, the ill-fated precursor of the United Nations, the League of Nations, was founded, with the hope of securing lasting peace. Established at the behest of the Paris Peace Conference, the League’s Covenant was signed by 44 states on 28 June 1919.

Discussions for what should be included in the Covenant were not without controversy, notably the following proposal: “The equality of nations being a basic principle of the League of Nations, the High Contracting Parties agree to accord, as soon as possible, to all alien nationals of states members of the League, equal and just treatment in every respect, making no distinction, either in law or fact, on account of their race or nationality.”

Unsurprisingly, Great Britain and its Dominions of Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand saw the proposal as a threat to “white” colonial power and swiftly engineered its rejection – an act of superpower sabotage not unknown to today’s UN conferences.

Perhaps surprising, especially to letter writers whose advice to foreign residents with complaints about their lives here is to put up, shut up, or leave, is that the proposal was put forward by Japan’s Foreign Minister Nobuaki Makino.

What the League had failed to recognize, the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 declared in Article One of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “All human beings are created free and equal in dignity and rights.”

The League of Nations held its first council meeting January 1920. Ninety years on, perhaps we can look forward to Baron Makino’s plea being at last realized – for foreign residents in Japan to be accorded “equal and just treatment in every respect”. The right to vote would be a start.

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

All the best…   NW

ENDS

Support and preview FROM THE SHADOWS documentary on Japan’s Child Abductions: Tokyo Shibuya Thurs Jun 24 7PM, admission free

mytest

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

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

June 16, 2010

I’m writing to you today to let you know about a very disturbing situation regarding the rights of divorced parents in Japan. No doubt you’ve heard bits and pieces of recent cases in the press.

Right now there exists the terrible reality that – as gaijin parents – we are at substantial risk of completely losing access to our children if our marriage dissolves, or even if our spouse just decides to make a break with us and abduct the kid(s). Japan is a country with no dual-custody laws, and a social practice of severely limiting, and often severing, the non-custodial parent’s access to their kids when the marriage ends.

I write today to seek your contribution for the completion of a documentary that is trying to directly help protect the interests of parents like us.

Take a look at this trailer for one particular group’s upcoming documentary film:

http://www.fromtheshadowsmovie.com/english/index.html

Political and social awareness is picking up, but we need to add fuel to this movement that is trying to help us.

In Jan 2010, six out of seven G7 governments pressed Japan to sign an international anti-parental child abduction treaty called the Hague Convention, which Japan has so far refused for nearly 30 years. There has also been a recent proposed House (US Congress) Resolution threatening sanctions on Japan for allowing the kidnapping of US citizens. More info is here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=hr111-1326&tab=summary

This is all going in the right direction, but it is not enough. We need grass roots pressure as well.

I am trying to help a two gentlemen (see attached doc for more background info) who have worked their butts off the past couple of years to make a documentary film about child abduction in Japan. As you will see in the attachment, they’ve had a lot of success so far, but hope to enter their documentary into a major film festival so that its profile can be raised and reach a broad audience.

My personal request…?

I hope you can join a group of us at 7:00 pm on Thurs, June 24th in Shibuya

Cerego Japan Inc.

Ninomiya Bldg 4F
18-4 Sakuragaoka-cho
150-0031 Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

(location: http://blog.smart.fm/en/about/location/ ) to watch the latest cut of their documentary, engage with other concerned and/or affected parents, and help contribute to the completion and ongoing success of this film.

There is no entry fee to join us and watch. That said, contributions (assuming you like what you see) would be much appreciated. If you cannot attend, but still wish to contribute, you can make a donation at

http://www.documentary.org/community/IDA-resources/fiscal_sponsorship_donate?film_id=2977

For the record, I have already contributed $1,000 and will donate another $500 before month end.

If you donate on or before June 30, 2010 then your contribution is matched by a US-based foundation, up to an additional $15,000 in donations. With the film 80% complete this is a wonderful chance. So, if you would like to join the group of contributors, acting now doubles the amount for the film.

This is definitely in your interest to bring this cause to the proper light.

I hope you can support this very worthy cause, as well as spread the word to other friends who might be interested in or affected by this situation.

Once again, the issue is best summarized at this link: http://www.fromtheshadowsmovie.com/english/index.html

p.s. A few words from the film directors, David Hearn and Matt Antell.

We first became aware of this situation in a Metropolis article back in January 2006. It was absolutely shocking to hear how easy it was for children to be cut off from their parents in Japan. I had lived here in Japan for 13 years and knew nothing about it. It especially hit home for me because I was just about to get married and wanted to have kids. I have slowly learned just how vulnerable we can be.

As we started the film it seemed that many people had their own story and so many of them wanted to have their voice heard in some way. Our project has taken us to 4 different countries in search of the material we now have for the film. Along the way we have met all kinds of subjects and have settled on the 4 situations we believe will make the most compelling cases.

We want our film to emphasize how essential preserving a healthy bond between child and parent is by showing what it’s like when that bond is severed. Divorce between parents is difficult enough but it doesn’t make it right or just for children to be forced to divorce their parents as well.

We hope our film sets a new course for the debate on this matter, by putting the viewer in the shoes of the left behind parents and understand the pain and despair this situation can cause.

ENDS

Debito.org Reader asks for advice regarding Chinese “Trainees” exploitation, stolen wallet, and local police

mytest

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 received this message a few days ago.  It’s self-explanatory.  Advice welcome.  Debito

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

June 11, 2010

Dear Mr. Debito:
I am currently living in Japan and working as an English teacher in a small town. I have lived in this town for almost two years. In that time I have come across two very distressing problems and no clear way to solve them. Both take some time to explain. Please forgive me if this email is a bit lengthy:

I’ve been teaching private lessons to a sweet old Japanese lady for almost two years. Last September, she surprised me with an odd question:

”Sensei, would you like to learn Chinese?”
”Well,” I said, ”I’m already pretty busy studying Japanese at the moment. My plate is kind of full…”
”Well,” she said, ”I have a farmer friend with four Chinese girls working for him. They’re very nice, and they’re all young and beautiful….”
”You know,” I said, ”Learning another language is always a good idea.”
I drove down to meet them. They’re a really swell bunch of girls, and we became friends almost instantly. One day, I invited them out with my other friends to see a festival in a nearby town. It was then that I found out that:

They work every single day
They receive only 70,000yen a month
They are not allowed internet or a phone
After the workday, they must go back to the house which the farmer built for them and not come out.

This bothered me for a long time, but I didn’t do anything because I thought it was Japanese law. Needless to say, I was pretty angry at Japan.
The farmer seemed okay with having people over, however, so I began to organize movie nights, parties, etc at the farm so the girls could hang out with other people and so more people could be aware of their situation. I’ve also been reading up on the Labor Standards Law, etc, and found that what the farmer is doing is illegal…in principle.
I debated for a long time about whether or not to call the cops on him. One thing that kept me from doing so was the possibility that the girls themselves might be here illegally, and my meddling would get them shipped back to China. However, this possibility seems less likely the more I talk to them. They appear to be on one of those three year ”foreign trainee” programs I’ve been reading about.
Another possibility is that they handed over their freedom in order to earn an amount they couldn’t dream of earning back home. They may be sending it back to their families who need it. I’ve found out a bit more; apparently the farmer does take them out sometimes, for shopping, hanami, even to the JLPT. One of the girls just recently passed nikkyu and is gearing up for ikkyu in the summer. The last thing I want is to ruin this for them. And yet I can’t help but be angry at the farmer for denying them other basic things like freedom and a proper wage.
Yet another deterrent are all the stories of bad cops here. At best, they seem silly and useless; at worst, corrupt and dangerous. I don’t want to get the girls in more trouble than they already are. Also, I figure if the farmer ever knew I’d even thought about calling the cops, that’d be the end of our little visits.

Then something happened to me that made me glad I’d kept my mouth shut:

My wallet was stolen. The police think it’s probably a student who’s been following me around recently, and who knows where I live, but refuse to approach him directly. We explained the situation to the principal, but he also refused, saying it was ”impossible to ask a child something like that.”
I’ve had several meetings with the Board of Education and the police, both of whom have told me in private that they are sure the kid did it, but are publicly saying I lost the wallet and suggesting I say the same, if know what’s good for me.
I’m pretty sure I’m never gonna see that wallet again. I don’t think there’s much more I can do about it. Pretty much, I’ve decided to regard this as a really, really expensive lesson on Japanese culture. Expensive, but also valuable. I’m just glad nobody was hurt and it was only my wallet.
However, I am worried about my identity. I’ve heard that thieves here sell stolen wallets to the yakuza and then the yakuza can frame you for a crime. What steps can I take against that? If it was the kid, then I don’t have to worry, but there were other people there that day. I think once the cops won the argument about the kid, they stopped the investigation. They’re not even looking anymore.
Maybe I’m being paranoid. I dunno. It seems unlikely that I could get framed for something if I have my own license on me. But then again…this is Japan. Stranger things have happened.

At least now I know not to tell the cops about the girls. Odds are they know already, and can’t or won’t help. I’ve researched further and found that being in one of these ”foreign trainee” programs excludes you from protection of the Labor Standards Law, injury compensation, etc. I think steps were taken a while ago to correct this (after the first year, you change from ”trainee” to ”worker”?), but I’m not sure if they succeeded or how effective they are. I’m still researching.

So that’s where I am now. The wallet seems to be a lost cause at this point, but I really want to help my friends. I’m a bit in over my head, however, and would greatly appreciate any advice you have for me. I’ve read some cases where foreign laborers were able to escape to safe places and get compensation for their mistreatment. I would like to see this happen, but I don’t know where to go or who to ask. I’ve been very careful in regards to the farmer; he still lets me and my friends come over and I don’t think he suspects I’m having these thoughts. If he did, we’d likely never see the girls again.
I know I only have one chance at this, which is why I’ve been waiting. I’m not a patient guy; this is probably the most patient I’ve ever been about anything in my life, simply because I’m scared to death of botching it. But waiting is also painful. I feel terrible for doing nothing. Please help, if you can, and thank you.

ENDS

Kansai Scene June 2010 article on issue of refugees and J Detention Centers (“Gaijin Tanks”)

mytest

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.  Here’s another interesting article from Kansai Scene magazine this month, this time on the issue of refugees and Detention Centers (“Gaijin Tanks”)  in Japan.  Have a read.  Online at

http://www.kansaiscene.com/current/html/feature2.shtml

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

ENDS

Asahi poll: Japan would rather be poorer as a nation than accept immigration

mytest

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.  This was brought up as a blog comment a few days ago, but let’s talk about it as its own blog entry.  The Asahi did an extensive poll on what people see as Japan’s future in relative economic decline.  Results indicate that people are distressed about China overtaking Japan, but they apparently aren’t ready to change much to change that.  Most germane to Debito.org is the question:

“On accepting immigrants to maintain economic vitality, only 26 percent supported such a move, while 65 percent opposed.”

◆将来、少子化が続いて人口が減り、経済の規模を維持できなくなった場合、外国からの移民を幅広く受け入れることに賛成ですか。反対ですか。

賛成      26 反対       65
http://www.asahi.com/politics/update/0610/TKY201006100494_03.html

Meaning that people polled apparently would rather be poorer as a nation than accept immigrants.

Of course, no immigrant without citizenship was polled (if even then), so ah well.

That said, we had the good point, raised within the blog comments on this the other day, that it just might be better for organic acceptance of immigrants over time than to bring in huge numbers and force them on the populace (although I don’t see events over this past decade helping matters much, including the unfettered hate speech towards NJ during the PR Suffrage debates, political leaders publicly doubting the “true Japaneseness” of naturalized Japanese or Japanese with NJ roots, and other elements of officialdom blaming NJ for social problems such as crime, terrorism, and infectious diseases).

Then again, a friend of mine also raised an even more pertinent point:  “What’s the point of asking that question at all?  We still haven’t had a good debate on immigration and why Japan needs it.  Nobody’s explained the merits of immigration to the Japanese public all that well.  [In fact, discussion of it is even taboo.].  So no wonder people are negatively predisposed.  Why change things when we don’t understand why?”

Touche.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Poll: 95% fear for Japan’s future
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN 2010/06/12, courtesy of John in Yokohama

http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201006110455.html

With China poised to replace Japan as the world’s No. 2 economy, Japanese are increasingly taking a more critical look at their country, once referred to as a nation of “economic animals” and known as Japan Inc.

According to an Asahi Shimbun survey, about 95 percent of Japanese are worried about Japan’s future, while 62 percent say the nation is being rapidly overtaken by other countries.

And while acknowledging that Japan’s economy–once the envy of much of the world–may no longer be a main source of pride, more than half of the respondents said Japan does not need to strive to become a major global power.

According to the survey, 75 percent of Japanese have pride in their country, but only 34 percent said they had pride in Japan’s economy.

Sixty-five percent of the respondents said the economy was not a source of pride.

For the multiple-choice question on what aspects of Japan they are proud of, 94 percent cited the nation’s technological prowess, while 92 percent pointed to its traditional culture.

Ninety percent of respondents in their 20s and 80 percent of those in their 30s said they felt pride in Japan’s “soft power,” or edge in creating anime and computer games.

Toshiki Sato, a University of Tokyo professor of sociology, said the survey results reflect a society that has lost its identity.

“If a nation has technological prowess, it would translate into economic strength. The fact that people express pride in technology (while holding a low evaluation of the economy) resembles the grumblings of a manager of an ailing company. It’s a reflection of a lack of confidence,” Sato said.

Questionnaires were sent to 3,000 randomly chosen eligible voters nationwide in late April, and 2,347 valid responses were received by the May 25 deadline.

Asked about their future vision for Japan, 51 percent said they hope to see a society that promotes economic wealth through hard work, while 43 percent said Japanese society should be one that achieves a relatively comfortable level of wealth without working too hard.

Seventy-three percent said they preferred a nation that is “not so affluent but has a smaller income disparity,” against 17 percent who chose “an affluent society but with a large disparity.”

Fifty-eight percent favored a large government offering full administrative services, such as social security, even at the cost of higher taxes, while 32 percent preferred a small government.

As for Japan’s role in the world, 39 percent said Japan should be a major player with more clout and obligations, while 55 percent said they did not think Japan should be a global power.

On accepting immigrants to maintain economic vitality, only 26 percent supported such a move, while 65 percent opposed.

Along with 78 percent of respondents who said environmental protection should be prioritized even at the cost of stunting economic growth, the figures suggest that Japanese are clearly breaking away from the mind-set of their country being an economic giant.

Sato said the survey showed that Japanese people were taking a hard, cool-headed look at their nation.

“Since the Meiji Restoration (of the 19th century), Japanese have tended to bring about the worst consequences by developing unfounded confidence and pride, as with the defeat in World War II, rapid economic growth and massive pollution, and the economic bubble,” Sato said.

“You don’t want to lose too much confidence, but the ability to be humble is a virtue. The survey results should be seen in a positive light,” he said.
ENDS

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

「日本は自信を失っている」74% 朝日新聞世論調査
2010年6月10日22時44分
http://www.asahi.com/special/08003/TKY201006100468.html

朝日新聞社が「日本のいまとこれから」をテーマに郵送方式による全国世論調査を実施したところ、「いまの日本は自信を失っている」とみる人が74%に達し、9割以上の人がこれからの日本に不安を感じていることがわかった。一方で、回復する底力があるとみる人が半数以上おり、日本の将来のあり方としては、経済的豊かさよりも「格差が小さい国」を求める意見が7割を占めた。

これからの日本への不安感を4択で尋ねると、「大いに感じる」50%、「ある程度感じる」45%で、強い不安を抱く人が多かった。「あまり感じない」は4%、「まったく感じない」は0%。

現状を「勤勉さが報われない社会」と考える人が69%、「日本人は精神的に豊かな生活を送れていると思わない」人が73%いる。「政治、経済、社会の仕組みを大幅に改革することが必要」という意見が57%で「いまの制度を維持しながら改良」の40%を上回る。自信を回復する底力があるとみる人は56%。また、全体で75%が「日本に誇りをもっている」と答えた。

日本の経済力を「誇れる」との意見は34%しかおらず、「そうは思わない」65%が大きく上回る。今後の日本の進み方については「一生懸命がんばって経済的豊かさを向上させていく」が51%、「ほどほどのがんばりで、ある程度の豊かさを得られればよい」が43%と見方が分かれた。

一方、「経済的に豊かだが格差が大きい国」と「豊かさはさほどでないが格差の小さい国」のどちらを目指すかでは「格差が小さい国」73%が「豊かな国」17%を圧倒。

調査は全国の有権者3千人を対象に4月下旬から5月下旬にかけて実施した。有効回収率は78%。(吉野園子)

Not reported in the Japanese but reported in the English version was this question:

◆将来、少子化が続いて人口が減り、経済の規模を維持できなくなった場合、外国からの移民を幅広く受け入れることに賛成ですか。反対ですか。

賛成      26 反対       65
http://www.asahi.com/politics/update/0610/TKY201006100494_03.html

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

FULL TEXT OF THE POLL
世論調査—質問と回答〈4・5月実施〉
http://www.asahi.com/politics/update/0610/TKY201006100494.html
2010年6月10日23時56分

(数字は%。小数点以下は四捨五入。質問文と回答は一部省略。◆は全員への質問。◇は枝分かれ質問で該当する回答者の中での比率。< >内の数字は全体に対する比率。特に断りがない限り、回答は選択肢から一つ選ぶ方式。調査期間は鳩山内閣の時期にあたる)

「日本は自信を失っている」74% 朝日新聞世論調査
◆いま、どの政党を支持していますか。

民主党21▽自民党14▽公明党4▽共産党2▽社民党1▽みんなの党7▽国民新党0▽たちあがれ日本1▽新党改革(改革クラブ)0▽新党日本0▽その他の政党1▽支持政党なし46▽答えない・わからない3

◆いまの生活にどの程度満足していますか。

大いに満足している 2

ある程度満足している 46

あまり満足していない 38

まったく満足していない 13

◆これからの日本にどの程度不安を感じていますか。

大いに不安を感じている 50

ある程度不安を感じている 45

あまり不安を感じていない 4

まったく不安を感じていない 0

◆日本に誇りをもっていますか。誇りをもっていませんか。

誇りをもっている 75

誇りをもっていない 19

◆日本の(1)「経済力」(2)「技術力」(3)「教育水準」(4)「伝統文化」(5)「アニメやゲーム」(6)「平和憲法」について、誇れることだと思いますか。そうは思いませんか。

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

誇れることだ   34 94 33 92 68 67

そうは思わない  65 6 66 5 29 29

◆いまの日本がおかれた状況を「登山」にたとえると、次の四つのうち一番近いイメージはどれだと思いますか。

快調に登っている 1

急な坂を懸命に登っている 15

息が切れて、後続の人に追い抜かれていく 62

足を痛めて先に進めない 18

◆いまの日本は自信を失っていると思いますか。そうは思いませんか。

自信を失っている 74 そうは思わない 22

◇(自信を失っていると答えた74%の人に)自信を失っている主な理由は何だと思いますか。(選択肢から二つまで選ぶ)

経済の行き詰まり 36<26>

政治の停滞 49<36>

国の財政の悪化 44<33>

国際的地位の低下 17<13>

少子高齢化 22<16>

伝統的価値観の衰退 6<5>

◆日本は自信を回復するだけの底力があると思いますか。そうは思いませんか。

底力がある   56 そうは思わない  28

◆日本の国内総生産は昨年までアメリカに次いで世界2位ですが、今年は中国に抜かれて3位となる見込みです。日本の国内総生産が3位に下がることは、重大な問題だと思いますか。そうは思いませんか。

重大な問題だ  50 そうは思わない  46

◆(1)「勤勉である」(2)「協調性がある」(3)「礼儀正しい」(4)「器用である」(5)「自立心がある」(6)「独創性がある」(7)「国際性がある」については、いまの日本人に当てはまると思いますか。当てはまらないと思いますか。

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)

当てはまる  46 45 45 77 20 35 26

当てはまらない50 51 52 20 76 61 70

◆次の中で、これからの日本人がとくに大切にしなければならないものは何だと思いますか。(選択肢から二つまで選ぶ)

勤勉さ23▽協調性21▽礼儀正しさ24▽器用さ6▽自立心36▽独創性27▽国際性46

◆日本人は、全体として、精神的に豊かな生活を送れていると思いますか。そうは思いませんか。

精神的に豊かな生活を送れている 23

そうは思わない 73

◆いまの日本は勤勉さが報われる社会だと思いますか。勤勉さが報われない社会だと思いますか。

報われる社会だ 25

報われない社会だ 69

◆仕事と個人の生活のバランスを考えた場合、これからの日本人は、仕事を優先した方がよいと思いますか。個人の生活を優先した方がよいと思いますか。

仕事を優先した方がよい 36

個人の生活を優先した方がよい 48

◆これからの日本は、一生懸命がんばって、経済的豊かさを向上させていくのがよいと思いますか。ほどほどのがんばりで、ある程度の豊かさを得られればよいと思いますか。

一生懸命がんばって、豊かさを向上 51

ほどほどのがんばりで、ある程度の豊かさ43

◆これからの日本を考えたとき、政治、経済、社会の仕組みを大幅に改革することが必要だと思いますか。いまの制度を維持しながら改良していくのがよいと思いますか。

仕組みを大幅に改革することが必要 57

いまの制度を維持しながら改良 40

◆これからの日本は、全体として経済的には豊かだが格差が大きい国と、経済的豊かさはそれほどないが格差が小さい国とでは、どちらを目指すべきだと思いますか。

豊かだが格差が大きい国 17

豊かさはそれほどないが格差が小さい国 73

◆これからの日本は、経済成長を妨げるおそれがあるとしても、環境への配慮を優先した社会を目指すべきだと思いますか。経済成長を妨げるおそれがあるなら、環境への配慮はほどほどでよいと思いますか。

経済成長を妨げるおそれがあるとしても、環境への配慮を優先した社会を目指すべきだ 78

経済成長を妨げるおそれがあるなら、環境への配慮はほどほどでよい 15

経済の主役が、ものづくりから、金融やITといった業種へと移りかわっていくことは、好ましいと思いますか。好ましくないと思いますか。

好ましい    14 好ましくない   77

◆地方を中心に、土木・建設業などから福祉産業や農業への転換の動きがあります。このような転換に期待しますか。期待しませんか。

期待する    78 期待しない    17

◆将来、少子化が続いて人口が減り、経済の規模を維持できなくなった場合、外国からの移民を幅広く受け入れることに賛成ですか。反対ですか。

賛成      26 反対       65

◆これからの日本は、次の二つのうち、どちらを目指すべきだと思いますか。税負担が重いが、社会保障などの行政サービスが手厚い「大きな政府」ですか。税負担は軽いが行政にはあまり頼れず、自己責任が求められる「小さな政府」ですか。

大きな政府   58 小さな政府    32

◆これからの日本は、アメリカとの関係を深める方がよいと思いますか。アメリカとは距離をおく方がよいと思いますか。

関係を深める方がよい 52

距離をおく方がよい 34

◆これからの日本は、中国との関係を深める方がよいと思いますか。中国とは距離をおく方がよいと思いますか。

関係を深める方がよい 48

距離をおく方がよい 42

◆いまの日本は、国際的な議論をリードする力を持った国だと思いますか。そうは思いませんか。

思う      12 思わない     85

◆これからの日本は、国際社会で発言力がある一方、責任や負担も大きい「大国」であるのがよいと思いますか。大国である必要はないと思いますか。

大国であるのがよい 39

大国である必要はない 55

◆戦後、日本は、大きな防衛力は持たず、そのかわり、アメリカの軍事力や核兵器に頼るという政策をとってきました。日本はこれまで通りアメリカの軍事力に頼るべきだと思いますか。アメリカに頼らず、独自の防衛体制を作り上げるべきだと思いますか。

アメリカの軍事力に頼るべきだ 38

独自の防衛体制を作り上げるべきだ 48

◆お金には換算できない、国民の暮らしの質や満足度を数字に表して政策の指標とする「幸福度」という考え方があります。幸福度という考え方を政策の指標として導入することに期待しますか。期待しませんか。

期待する    45 期待しない    51

〈調査方法〉 全国の有権者から3千人を選び、郵送法で実施した。

対象者の選び方は、層化無作為2段抽出法。全国の縮図になるように339の投票区を選び、各投票区の選挙人名簿から平均9人を選んだ。4月20日に調査票を発送し、5月25日までに届いた返送総数は2392。無記入の多いものや対象者以外の人が回答したと明記されたものを除いた有効回答は2347で、回収率は78%。

有効回答の男女比は男46%、女54%。年代別では20代11%、30代17%、40代15%、50代18%、60代20%、70代12%、80歳以上7%。
ENDS

Fun Facts #15: Percentages of J high school grads matriculating into college by prefecture

mytest

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 a Sunday Tangent, here are the Ministry of Education’s latest figures (2009) for Japanese high school students entering college.  In most prefectures, it’s only about half the graduates:

Source:  Eiken Facts 2010, “Eiken Shikakku Shutokusha Kakutoku de Daigaku no Miryoku Zukuri o”, (Zaidan Houjin Nihon Eiken Kyouryokukai/MEXT 2010, pg 5)

A cursory look reveals that Okinawa has by far the fewest percentage of students going on to college (the national average is 53.9%), and Tokyo/Kyoto (Kyoto allegedly being the place with the highest number of colleges per capita) the highest.  Hokkaido is significantly below average as well (third from the bottom), but it’s still higher than Iwate.  See how your prefecture stacks up.

As this is a Fun Facts category, I’ll leave interpretations to others.  But this is significantly less than the American percentages, according to the US Department of Labor, reporting that 70.1% of high school graduates went to college last year.  Given that university is significantly more expensive in the US than in Japan (it costs at least a luxury car per year these days in tuition alone to go to, say, an elite private or Ivy League), I’m disinclined to say it’s a matter of economics.  Thoughts?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Saturday Tangent: Kyodo: GOJ survey indicates 70% of J disabled feel discriminated against. Nice they, unlike NJ, even got asked.

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  As a Saturday tangent, let me take up an interesting case of how a different minority that feels discriminated against in Japan gets surveyed and reported upon — positively, because they happen to be Japanese.

Consider this:

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

Japan Times, Friday, June 11, 2010
Discrimination felt by 70% of disabled: report
Kyodo News, Courtesy of RC

Nearly seven out of every 10 people with disabilities said they have faced discrimination or biased treatment, an annual government report showed Friday.

The fiscal 2010 white paper on measures for disabled people, released by the Cabinet Office, says 68.0 percent of those surveyed said they have experienced discrimination or biased treatment because of their disabilities.

The office surveyed 2,178 people with disabilities between December 2009 and January 2010.

The report also says 11.4 percent of the respondents always feel they are discriminated against and 50.9 percent feel discrimination occurs sometimes.

The findings indicate many disabled people continue to be discriminated against at a time when Japan is considering ratifying the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, officials said…

Rest of the article at:
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100611x3.html

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

COMMENT:  Okay, I’m sure many if not most people with disabilities feel disadvantaged and discriminated against in Japan.  Fine.  This is not to minimize that.

However, look at how much positive spin they are given both in terms of survey and media coverage.

For example, look at the last sentence of the Kyodo excerpt above:

“The findings indicate many disabled people continue to be discriminated against at a time when Japan is considering ratifying the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, officials said…”

No, the findings indicate many disabled people FEEL they continue to be discriminated against.  Not that this indicates something factual, that they ARE.  That is an important semantic distinction, but “officials” are citing this as a reason to ratify a treaty to protect them.

Fine.  I’m all for it.  But they’d never do that for NJ.  The GOJ won’t even survey NJ in specific, or phrase the questions as if they are being discriminated against at all.  Citing an article I wrote about two and a half years ago:

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

Japan Times Community Page October 23, 2007

Human rights survey stinks
Government effort riddled with bias, bad science
(excerpt)

… [Consider] how the remaining questions are phrased against foreigners.

For example, Q5 asked, “Which of the following human rights issues are you concerned about?”

Discrimination against “foreigners” came in 14th at 12.5%, behind “handicapped”, “elderly”, “children”, “Internet abuse victims”, “North Korean kidnap victims”, “women”, “crime victims”, “HIV sufferers”, “leprosy victims”, “homeless”, “Burakumin”, “ex-convicts”, and “human trafficking”.

Worthy causes in themselves, of course.  But foreigners enjoying such low regard is unsurprising.  The next series of questions deliberately diminish their stature in society and their right to equal treatment.

Q6 through Q19 asked for comment about “human rights problems”.  Each question covered specific sectors of society, with conveniently leading options to choose from:

Women (choices of “human rights violations” included porno and scantily-clad women in advertising), children (including adults being overopinionated about their children’s activities), elderly (including lack of respect for their opinions), handicapped (including being stared at), Burakumin, HIV patients, crime victims, Internet victims, homeless, homosexuals, and Ainu.

Nice for the government to acknowledge (even overdo) several examples of discrimination.   But in its two questions about discrimination against foreigners, no conveniently leading options are provided.

Instead, Q12 says, “It is said [sic] that foreigners living in Japan face discrimination in their daily lives”.  Then asks if they deserve the same rights as Japanese.

Er… is there doubt about the existence of discrimination against foreigners in Japan?  Even our courts have officially acknowledged it in several lawsuits–the Ana Bortz and the Otaru Onsens cases being but two famous examples.

And no similar question of doubt or qualification is raised towards any other group.

Q13 even kindly proffers possible justifications for foreigners’ “disadvantageous treatment”.  Out of six choices, half say “nothing can be done” to improve things because a) “foreigners have trouble getting used to Japanese situations”, b) “differences in customs, culture, and economic standing” (which got the most votes, 33.7%).  And–better sit down for this one–the tautological c) “because they are foreigners, they get disadvantageous treatment”.

When a human rights survey from even the highest levels of government allows for the possibility of human rights being optional (or worse yet, justifiably deniable based on nationality), we have a deep and profound problem.

Full article at http://www.debito.org/japantimes102307.html

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

In sum, this to me is another example of the GOJ manufacturing consent to sway the public to accept a policy position.  Fortunately, it’s for protecting people, not hurting them.  But wouldn’t it be nice if the GOJ had somehow stepped in during all the nasty debates re NJ PR suffrage and curbed the hate speech, or even ask NJ sometime in a Cabinet Survey if THEY feel discriminated against?  After all, we’ve already signed a Convention designed to protect them — nearly fifteen years ago in 1996, so there should be no disinclination.  But no, NJ don’t deserve the same attention.  After all, they aren’t Japanese.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Kansai Scene June 2010 interview re NJ PR suffrage issue

mytest

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.  Kansai Scene magazine has an interview with me in its latest issue, in addition to a writeup about the NJ PR Suffrage issue.  Pick up a copy if you’re in the area.  More of what I’ve written about the suffrage issue on Debito.org here.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Here is the interview in full, to keep the text online searchable:

On May 8, 2010, at 3:32 PM, Kansai Scene wrote:

Mr. Arudou,

Many, many thanks for the swift response. My questions for you are as follows.

1) To my knowledge, the number of Special Permanent Residents and Regular Permanent Residents is large enough to make up decent-sized voting blocs in only very, very few places in Japan. It’s cynical question, but why do you think the Democratic Party of Japan would take up an issue this contentious, given that there seems to be little tangible benefit for them, even if they do succeed?

I’m not sure.  Like with so many policies, the DPJ has been pretty poor in further justifying their policies in the face of blowback.  Rumor has it that shadow leader Ichiro Ozawa is tight with South Korea and the Zainichi Japan-born ethnic Korean residents.  But that’s essentially a rumor.  Perhaps it is just seen as the right thing to do for these people, even if it meant the loss of political capital.  However, the prioritizing (there were other policies in the DPJ Manifesto they could have accumulated political capital with first) and the fact that the opposition dominated the debate (where were the cabinet ministers, or even Finn-born Marutei Tsurunen, who should have stepped up and counterargued?) meant right-wing alarmism shouted down the issue.  Shame.  Poorly-run campaign.

2) Commentors on one message board (Japan Today) argued that if Zainichi Koreans weren’t willing to renounce their Korean citizenship, and naturalize, then they weren’t that particularly tied to Japan or its future, and didn’t deserve the right to any vote that would influence the same. Would you agree or disagree, and why?

I disagree.  As I’ve written elsewhere, there are close to half a million Zainichi born and raised here, who have been paying Japanese taxes their entire lives. Moreover, their relatives were former citizens of the Japanese empire (brought here both by force and by the war economy), contributing to and even dying for our country.  In just about any other developed nation, they would be citizens already; they once were.  Given that I’ve known some Zainichi refused citizenship for things as petty as a speeding ticket, this entire debate tack is an insult to some very long-suffering people, in fact very tied to Japan and its future.

3) You wrote in your 2.2.10 Japan Times column that naturalizing as a means to gain the right to vote was “not that simple”, due to the amount of effort required. However, you also wrote of the “years and effort” necessary to meet PR qualifications. Given that  naturalized Japanese and Permanent Residents have both completed fairly lengthy procedures – suggesting their dedication to staying in the country – why do you think they are looked at so differently as far as “foreigners in Japan who deserve the right to vote” goes?

Because PR residents and citizens are of course of legally different statuses.  Citizens are not foreigners anymore.  But given how difficult and arbitrary both nationality and PR procedure can be in Japan, and that plenty of other developed countries (see http://www.debito.org/?p=6209) have little problem granting long-term residents the right to vote in local elections, I will remain in support for local suffrage for any PRs in Japan.

4) Say, for example, that every foreigner in Japan were naturalized overnight, and could now vote freely in any election. How do you think the political landscape would change?

I think we’d have a lot less alarmism from the radical right, who at the moment are picking on non-Japanese because they are so disenfranchised in Japan.  Politicians would have to appeal to non-Japanese residents too.  But the question is moot.  Few if any countries allow non-citizens the vote when they’re fresh off the boat.  Qualifying lines are always drawn.  I’ll say PR is a good place to draw.  In any case, with non-Japanese only 1.7% of the total population, I don’t see any major revolutions or devolutions resulting.  People feared the same when women were granted suffrage after WWII.  Have you ever seen a proportional rise in women representatives?

5) The issue itself now seems fairly dead in the water (at least for the time being). Do you think that PR in Japan will ever receive the right to vote? Why or why not?

I think they will.  I just have no idea when right now.  But I’m by nature a hopeful person.

6) Finally, do you yourself vote? And, do you have any plans whatsoever to run for political office, as did Jon Heese of Ibaraki Prefecture?

Of course I vote.  I enjoy ballot boxing in Japan.  No hanging chads here.  Very sensible procedure.  As for political office, it’s an entertaining thought…

ENDS

Toyoko Inn opens “exclusively Chinese” hotel in Susukino Sapporo, refuses Japanese and other NJ; media ignores questionable legality

mytest

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.  Dovetailing with the recent Debito.org posts showing China’s increasing domestic influence over Japan’s economics (here and here), below we have some newspaper articles (Japanese, couldn’t find English anywhere) noting that Toyoko Inn has opened a new hotel complex in Sapporo Susukino that caters exclusively to Chinese.  The Nikkei and the Yomiuri call it “Chuugokujin sen’you hoteru” below, smacking of the “Nihonjin Sen’you Ten” wording used for signs in Russian excluding all foreigners entry from businesses in Monbetsu, Hokkaido (i.e. only Chinese are allowed to stay in this hotel).  Local Doshin only mildly mentions they are “Chuugokujin muke” (catering to Chinese).

I’m pretty torn by this development.  On one hand, here is an unusually progressive business initiative in hiring and catering to NJ (with nary a mention of  all the “different culture resulting in the inevitable frictions” that was a undercurrent of much domestic reporting about, say, Australians investing in Niseko).  Supply and demand, you might say, who cares if the money is from Chinese.  Fine.

On the other hand, however, we have the Balkanization of the hotel industry, with NJ being assigned their own special gated community (in violation of Japanese law; choosing customers by nationality is unlawful under the Hotel Management Law), with again nary a question about the legality.

And again, this is the Toyoko Inn, with its history of special policies for racial profiling and declining hotel rooms (or threatening to) to “foreigners”, including residents and naturalized citizens, who do not show their Gaijin Cards.  Not to mention embezzling GOJ funds earmarked for handicapped facilities.

In short, I smell a rat.  Yet more opportunism and questionable legal practices by Toyoko Inn.  I’d recommend you not patronize them, but then again, unless you’re a Chinese reading this, you probably can’t stay at the hotel in question anyway.   Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

東横イン、札幌に中国人専用ホテル 来月開業 :日本経済新聞
http://www.nikkei.com/news/local/article/g=96958A9C93819491E0E4E2E2E38DE0E4E2E7E0E2E3E29EE6E3E2E2E2

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

– 中国人客専用ホテル…札幌にきょう開業 –

開業を前に接客の練習をする中国人スタッフら(31日午後、札幌市中央区で)=三浦邦彦撮影
(2010年6月1日 読売新聞)

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/hokkaido/news/20100601-OYT8T00026.htm

ビジネスホテルチェーンの東横イン(東京)は、道内で増加している中国人観光客に対応するため、札幌市中央区南6東2にある「札幌すすきの南」を1日、中国人客専用の「東横INN札幌薄野南」として改装オープンする。フロント係やレストランのスタッフに中国人を採用したほか、施設内の案内表示を中国語に変え、全客室で中国のテレビ番組が見られるようにした。

札幌市内の5店舗を含め、国内などで約220店舗を展開する同社で初の試み。

道内を訪れる中国人観光客は、道のまとめで08年度が4万7400人と、98年度の1900人の約25倍と大幅に増えている。今年7月には、個人観光ビザの発給要件が緩和され、さらに中国からの団体ツアーなどの増加が見込めるため、集中的に受け入れサービスの充実を図る。

客室は家族連れらを見越し、既存のトリプル(2室)以外はツインに統一し、朝食に中華がゆも提供する。今後は支配人に中国人が就き、銀聯(ぎんれん)カードでの決済も検討していく。

31日はオープンを控え、フロントに新規採用された男女4人の中国人従業員が、チェックイン時の応対などについて、日本人従業員から指導を受けた。1日は、既に団体ツアーの予約が入っているという。

ENDS

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

東横イン 札幌に「中国人向け」6月開業 接客、食事に工夫(05/28 06:40)
http://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/news/economic/233803.html

ビジネスホテル運営の東横イン(東京)は6月1日、中国人観光客に照準を合わせたホテルを札幌市内に開業する。増加傾向にある中国人客の受け入れ態勢を整備するとともに、中国語対応の人材や設備を一つのホテルに集約して経費削減を目指す。

ビジネスホテルとして現在運営している札幌すすきの南店(中央区南6東2)を改装。4人の中国人従業員を配置するほか、約200の全客室で中国国営放送を視聴できるようにし、朝食に中華がゆも用意する。

東横インは札幌市内に5ホテルを展開。各ホテルに分宿している中国人客をすすきの南店に集める。中国人客向けの施設整備や中国人従業員の配置を集約でき、経費節減効果も期待できる。

昨年の中国人の道内宿泊者数は前年比7割増の18万3千人で、今年2月の春節(中国の旧正月)以降、増加傾向に加速が付いている。7月から個人観光ビザ発給対象が中間層まで拡大される予定のため、中国人来道者の増加期待が高まっている。
ENDS
———————————-
UPDATE JUNE 10 4:15 PM

I called Toyoko Inn Susukino Minami at 011-551-1045 and got a very friendly female clerk. Our conversation went something like this:

“Hi there. I heard about your place in the newspaper. Just wanted to ask: Does your hotel accept only Chinese guests?”

“That’s correct. Only Chinese.”

“You mean Japanese customers are refused too?”

“That’s right.”

“And all other foreigners other than Chinese are not allowed to stay?”

“That’s right.”

“Er, isn’t that against the Hotel Management Law?”

“Yes, it probably is.”

We started laughing, and I said, “This is the first hotel I’ve heard of in Japan where even Japanese guests are refused.”

“Yes, quite. It’s a funny situation, isn’t it.”

I appreciated the candor, but the question still remains: What the hell is going on, and why is nobody calling Toyoko Inn on the unlawfulness of the situation? Instead, we have newspapers promoting them as such without any analysis?

What a bent hotel chain the Toyoko Inn Group is.
ENDS

Taiwanese-Japanese Dietmember Renho becomes first multiethnic Cabinet member; racist Dietmember Hiranuma continues ranting about it

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  The new Kan Cabinet started out yesterday, and it would of course be remiss of me to not mention that one of the Cabinet members, Renho, has become the first multicultural multiethnic Dietmember to serve in the highest echelons of elected political power in Japan.  Congratulations!

She is, however, a constant target of criticism by the Far Right in Japan, who accuse her of not being a real Japanese (she is of Japanese-Taiwanese extraction, who chose Japanese citizenship).  Dietmember Hiranuma Takeo most notably.  He continued his invective against her on May 7 from a soundtruck, and it made the next day’s Tokyo Sports Shinbun.  Courtesy of Dave Spector.

It goes without saying that this is a basically a rant about a Cabinet member by a former Cabinet member who will never be a Cabinet member again, an aging ideological dinosaur raging against tide and evolution.  Sucks to be a bigot and in a position of perpetual weakness as well, I guess.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

(click on image to enlarge in browser)

Reuters: Showings of Oscar-winning documentary The Cove cancelled in Japan due to threat of protest

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Here we go again.  Something critical of Japan becomes derided as “anti-Japanese” and is threatened if it gets shown in Japan.  This society has to learn that criticism of Japan is actually good for Japan, and that bully boys who want to suppress healthy debate about an issue should be ignored or criticized themselves as unhealthy and unconstitutional.  Yet protests by The Left go ignored because they probably won’t get violent, while protests by The Right just might, and the police won’t prosecute if they do.  Hence the incentive to become violent is there for the bullies, and they get even more power through intimidation.  Canceling showings of a controversial movie like this just strengthens the bullies and helps them proliferate.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

PS:  Do what another Debito.org Reader suggested yesterday:  Get a copy of The Cove and show it to your friends and students.  Amazon.co.jp has had no problem selling right-wing and racist literature in Japanese, so why not?  (Now, if only they would get around to putting up a version in Japanese.  Here’s information on The Cove in Japanese from the directors.)

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

Dolphin hunt film screenings cancelled in Tokyo

Scientific American/Reuters June 5, 2010 Courtesy of Ken’ichi

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=dolphin-hunt-film-screenings

TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo screenings of “The Cove,” an Oscar-winning documentary about a grisly annual dolphin hunt have been canceled over planned protests by conservatives who say the film is anti-Japanese, the distributor said on Saturday.

The film, which picked up an Oscar for best documentary feature this year, follows a group of activists who struggle with Japanese police and fishermen to gain access to a secluded cove in Taiji, southern Japan, where dolphins are hunted.

Directed by former National Geographic photographer Louie Psihoyos and featuring Ric O’Barry, a former dolphin trainer from the “Flipper” television series, “The Cove” has prompted activists to threaten street demonstrations.

Planned showings of the film at two cinemas in Tokyo this month have been canceled because of fears the protests might inconvenience movie-goers and others, according to Unplugged, the Japan distributor.

Screenings at one Osaka theater have also been called off, but Unplugged is still in negotiations to show the movie at 23 venues around the country this summer, said a spokeswoman for the company, who asked not to be named.

Unplugged has received threatening phone calls and protesters have gathered outside its offices, she said.

“‘The Cove’ is absolutely not an anti-Japanese film,” Takeshi Kato of Unplugged said in a faxed statement. “I believe a deep and constructive debate is needed about the content of the film.”

O’Barry, who is set to visit Japan from June 8, said Japanese film-goers should be allowed to see the documentary.

“It’s not right that a small minority of extremists could take this right away from them,” he said in a statement. “To do so is a clear threat to democracy.”

The film was shown at the Tokyo International Film Festival last year, but has yet to be made widely available to the public.

Japan’s government says the hunting of dolphins and whales is an important cultural tradition.

New Zealander Pete Bethune is currently on trial in Tokyo for boarding a Japanese vessel in an attempt to stop the annual whale hunt in the Antarctic.

(Writing by Isabel Reynolds; editing by Ron Popeski)
ENDS

Osaka Minami public campaign: “exclude bad foreigners” like yakuza, enlists enka singer as spokesperson

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Here we have a part of Osaka Chuo-ku making public announcements protecting their municipality against “illegal foreign overstayers” and “illegal workers”.  Using invective like “furyou gaikokujin haijo” (exclude bad foreigners), it’s rendered on the same level as the regular neighborhood clarion calls for “bouryokudan haijo” (exclude the yakuza).  I see.  Foreigners who overstay their visa and who get employed (sometimes at the behest and the advantage of the Japanese employer) are on the same level as organized crime?  And you can pick out Yakuza just as easily as NJ on sight, right?

This campaign has been going on for years (since Heisei 17, five years ago), but the Yomiuri now reports efforts to really get the public involved by tapping an enka singer to promote the campaign.  How nice.  But it certainly seems an odd problem to broadcast on the street like this since 1) I don’t see the same targeting happening to Japanese employers who give these “bad foreigners” their jobs, and 2) numbers of illegal overstays caught have reportedly gone down by half since a decade ago.

Never mind.  We have budgets to spend, and disenfranchised people to pick on.  Nice touch to see not only sponsorship from the local International Communication Association (how interculturally sensitive!), but also “America Mura no Kai”, whatever that is.  Yet another example of state-sanctioned attempts to spread xenophobia and lower the image of NJ — this time by gangsterizing them.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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June 3, 2010, MB writes:

Hi Debito, First of all let me say that your efforts are really appreciated and I really think that you help many people !!

By the way, I just found this article:
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/osaka/news/20100603-OYT8T00084.htm


which is connected to the http://www.fuckedgaijin.com/forums/showthread.php?t=25068

Every now and again, local districts around the country will appoint an honorary chief of police for the day who will usually attracts media coverage for some regular campaign. Minami in Osaka recently chose enka singer Reiko Kano to go out and raise awareness among local residents. You must be wondering what issue was she given to promote Perhaps bicycle parking or warnings about ATM bank fraud? Osaka sees a lot of purse-snatching so maybe she was passing out fliers about that. Actually, it appears the Minami police decided to use the singer to put people on the alert for illegal immigrants. The fliers, put together by police and a local residents group, read 「Stopザ・不法滞在」 (“Look out for illegals”). Police say they caught 150 last year. That’s down 50% from 10 years ago but there are concerns that fake passports and fake gaijin cards are getting harder to spot.

I just thought that maybe it could be of interest for the blog. I must admit that this movement to “clean” Minami in Osaka is not all that bad BUT I especially didn’t like this:
http://minamikasseikakyogikai.org/kankyo.html

7) 不良外国人の排除
8) 暴力団の排除

Maybe I’m over-sensitive but using 排除 with 人 it doesn’t sound too good…..plus it’s just above the Yakuza….comparing a person without a visa to a gangster is not very nice.

All in all it seems that the campaign aims also to promote Osaka (and Minami) as a touristic spot thus they aim at “cleaning” the city and give a nice image to the “foreign tourists”…

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 7, 2010

mytest

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

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 7, 2010

Table of Contents:

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MORE DEBATES FROM BIZARROLAND
1) Eikawa GEOS claims in NZ court that workplace harassment is “The Japanese Way”, loses big
2) JIPI’s Sakanaka in Daily Yomiuri: “Japan must become immigration powerhouse” (English only, it seems)
3) Japan Times satirical piece on Gunma Isesaki bureaucrat beard ban
4) Kyodo: MOFA conducts online survey on parental child abductions and signing Hague Convention (in Japanese only)
5) Japan Times exposes dissent amidst scientist claims that eating dolphin is not dangerous
6) Economist London column on DPJ woes, passim on how senile Tokyo Gov Ishihara seems to be getting
7) Mark in Yayoi comments on Futenma affair: grant Okinawa its independence from Japan!
8 ) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JUNE 1, 2010 (Japanese), May 15 speech in Kani-shi, Gifu-ken

UPDATES
9) AFP: Another hunger strike in Immigration Detention Center, this time in Ushiku, Ibaraki
10) Robert Dujarric in Japan Times: Immigrants can buoy Japan as its regional power gives way to China
11) Tangent: Yomiuri: Nouveau riche Chinese buying up Japan, Niseko

… and finally…

12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column June 1, 2010: Okinawa Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy (full text)

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By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
RSS feeds, daily updates at www.debito.org. Twitter arudoudebito
Freely forwardable

MORE DEBATES FROM BIZARROLAND

1) Eikawa GEOS claims in NZ court that workplace harassment is “The Japanese Way”, loses big

NZ Herald: The boss of a multi-national English language school in Auckland has been awarded $190,000 after an employment tribunal dismissed claims he was used to being treated “the Japanese way”.

David Page was stripped of his job as regional director of GEOS New Zealand at a conference in 2008 and demoted to head of the company’s Auckland language centre.

In April last year, he was fired by email after being given “one last chance” to make the school profitable.

Page launched an unfair dismissal claim against GEOS, which comes under the umbrella of the GEOS Corporation founded by Japanese businessman Tsuneo Kusunoki.

But the company responded by claiming that Page “accepted understanding of the ‘Japanese way’ of doing business”. They went on to say he was used to Kusunoki “ranting”, “berating” and “humiliating” people “so this was nothing new”.

But the Employment Relations Authority said the company’s failings were “fundamental and profound”.

Member Denis Asher said the final warning was “an unscrupulous exploitation of the earlier, unlawful demotion”. He said: “A conclusion that the ‘Japanese way’ already experienced by Mr Page was continuing to be applied is difficult to avoid.”

COMMENT: GEOS forgot this ain’t a Japanese courtroom where this actually might wash. They lose. Just goes to show you that what are considered working standards in Japan towards NJ (or anybody, really) aren’t something that will pass without sanction in other fellow developed societies. Attitudes like these will only deter other NJ from working in Japanese companies in future. Idiots.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6810

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2) JIPI’s Sakanaka in Daily Yomiuri: “Japan must become immigration powerhouse” (English only, it seems)

Sakanaka Hidenori, former head of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau who has been written about on Debito.org various times, had an article on the need for immigration to Japan in the Daily Yomiuri the other day. Happy to see. However, I can’t find a Japanese version in the paper anywhere. Tut. Excerpt follows:

“My view is that a low birthrate is unavoidable as a civilization matures.

Other industrially advanced countries have also turned into societies with low birthrates as they have matured. Advancements in education, increased urbanization, the empowerment of women and diversification of lifestyles also exemplify the maturity of a society.

Japan, a mature civilization, should expect to experience a low birthrate for at least the foreseeable future.

Even if the government’s measures succeed in increasing the birthrate sharply and cause the population to increase, any era of population growth is far away and will be preceded by a stage of “few births and few deaths,” where there are declines in both birth and mortality rates.

Accordingly, the only long-term solution for alleviating the nation’s population crisis is a government policy of accepting immigrants. Promotion of an effective immigration policy will produce an effect in a far shorter time period than steps taken to raise the nation’s birthrate.

We, the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, propose that Japan accept 10 million immigrants over the next 50 years.

We believe that to effectively cope with a crisis that threatens the nation’s existence, Japan must become an “immigration powerhouse” by letting manpower from around the world enter the country.”…

http://www.debito.org/?p=6788

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3) Japan Times satirical piece on Gunma Isesaki bureaucrat beard ban

Jay Klaphake: I would like to draw readers’ attention to the outstanding work of the municipal government of Isesaki, Gunma Prefecture. After receiving complaints that citizens find bearded men unpleasant, Isesaki — just as all levels of Japanese government often do — took decisive action to address an important public concern: The city announced a ban on beards for municipal workers…

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has been quick to point to surveys that show government workers with beards are more likely to be supporters of voting rights for non-Japanese residents than clean-shaven employees. Excessive facial hair could even be used to mask an individual’s foreign roots, meaning that many of the hirsute could be naturalized citizens or children of naturalized citizens…

A legal defense committee led by human-rights advocate Debito Arudou (of course he has a beard) and law professor Colin P. A. Jones is looking into whether Isesaki used off-budget secret funds to operate a barbershop in the basement of City Hall and provided free haircuts and shaves to public employees. Arudou reportedly tried to enter the barbershop but was refused access because his beard didn’t look Japanese, even though he insisted that his beard did, in fact, become Japanese several years ago.

Professor Jones has apparently filed a freedom of information request for documents detailing whether, and how much of, taxpayers’ money was used for the secret project. In response, the city said that no such documents could be found, no such barbershop exists, and furthermore it would be a violation of the privacy of the barber to say anything more…

http://www.debito.org/?p=6825

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4) Kyodo: MOFA conducts online survey on parental child abductions and signing Hague Convention (in Japanese only)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has just started asking for opinions from the public regarding Japan’s ascension to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (which provides guidelines for dealing with cases of children being taken across borders without the consent of both parents, as well as establishing custody and visitation).

Sounds good until you consider the contexts. We’ve already had a lot of Japanese media portraying the Japanese side of an international marriage as victims, fleeing an abusive NJ. Even the odd crackpot lawyer gets airtime saying that signing the Hague will only empower the wrong side of the divorce (i.e. the allegedly violent and-by-the-way foreign side), justifying Japan keeping its status as a safe haven. Even the Kyodo article below shies away from calling this activity “abduction” by adding “so-called” inverted quotes (good thing the Convention says it plainly).

But now we have the MOFA officially asking for public opinions from the goldfish bowl. Despite the issue being one of international marriage and abduction, the survey is in Japanese only. Fine for those NJ who can read and comment in the language. But it still gives an undeniable advantage to the GOJ basically hearing only the “Japanese side” of the divorce. Let’s at least have it in English as well, shall we?

Kyodo article below, along with the text of the survey in Japanese and unofficial English translation. Is it just me, or do the questions feel just a tad leading, asking you to give reasons why Japan shouldn’t sign? In any case, I find it hard to imagine an aggrieved J parent holding all the aces (not to mention the kids) saying, “Sure, sign the Hague, eliminate our safe haven and take away my power of custody and revenge.” That’s why we need both sides of the story, with I don’t believe this survey is earnestly trying to get.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6777

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5) Japan Times exposes dissent amidst scientist claims that eating dolphin is not dangerous

Excerpt: On May 10, in a front-page lead story headlined “Taiji locals test high for mercury,” The Japan Times reported the results of tests by the National Institute of Minamata Disease (NIMD) that found “extremely high methyl-mercury (MeHg) concentrations in the hair of some residents of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, where people have a tradition of eating whale and dolphin.”

Meanwhile, commenting on Okamoto’s advice for Taiji residents that it is “important that they decide what they should eat,” Dr. Pal Wiehe, chief physician in the Department of Occupational Medicine, Public Health in the Danish-controlled Faroe Islands, said, “This is inappropriate advice… We have seen over a period of time that there were negative impacts at all levels in our neurological, physiological and psychological tests that were irreversible.”…

Whatever the attempts in Japan to ignore questions surrounding the NIMD’s approval for Japanese citizens to continue eating toxic dolphin, however, one of America’s leading neurologists, Florida-based Dr. David Permutter — a recipient of the prestigious Linus Pauling Functional Medicine Award for his research into brain disease — was far less inhibited…

“These levels (of MeHg) are dramatically elevated. This practice of serving dolphin meat is tantamount to poisoning people; they may as well serve them arsenic, it would be no less harmful! What they’re doing is wrong on every count; it’s the wrong thing to do for the people and the wrong thing to do for the dolphins. No matter how you look at this, it’s perverse — it’s a tragedy and it should be condemned. If the role of government is to protect the people, then they’re failing miserably in their role.”

COMMENT: It’s not the first time I’ve seen GOJ/public pressure interfere with the scientific community in Japan. Two examples come to mind, archived at Debito.org: 1) Japan’s Demographic Science making “Immigration” a Taboo Topic, and 2) Apple Imports and the Tanii Suicide Case.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6793

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6) Economist London column on DPJ woes, passim on how senile Tokyo Gov Ishihara seems to be getting

Here’s an (outdated, but still) thought-provoking essay on Japanese politics from The Economist (London). Within it is a vignette on Tokyo Governor Ishihara getting all pissy about how Japanese men are being emasculated, based upon the way they are allegedly being forced to urinate. The other points within the essay are more important, but I find it singularly impressive how a leader of one of the world’s cities could go off on such an irrelevant and unprofessional tangent before a member of the international press (who, charitably, passes it off as the rantings of a grumpy old man). That’s just one more signal to me, however, of how senile Ishihara has become. Only one more year of the man left in office, fortunately.

Excerpt: “A black dog of a depression has settled back over the country’s politics, affecting both main parties. In opposition the LDP has unravelled with impressive speed. In late April the country’s favourite politician, Yoichi Masuzoe, a rare combination in the LDP of ambition and ideas, joined a stream of high-profile defectors forming new parties. He calls for refreshing change: deregulation, decentralisation and — crucially for a country with too many paws on the levers of power — a halving of the number in the Diet (parliament).

For the moment, such groupings have not captured the public imagination. They contain too many lone wolves and grumpy old men, such as the governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, who is responsible for the naming of one notable new party, Tachiagare Nippon!●literally, Stand Up, Japan! When Banyan once called on him, he launched into a tirade about Japanese men cowed by their womenfolk into sitting down when they pee.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=6757

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7) Mark in Yayoi comments on Futenma affair: grant Okinawa its independence from Japan!

Mark in Yayoi on Okinawa Futenma Issue: Debito, when reading your essay, I was surprised to find that I agreed with you, but for almost totally opposite reasons…

The American occupation of Okinawa, unjust as it might be, is a net benefit to the mainland Tokyo government, which gets protection while simultaneously pretending that it’s “Japan” bearing the burden when in fact it’s Okinawa that suffers — they’re the people putting up with the loud airplanes and unruly soldiers. And these people bearing the cost of the protection were never seen as equals by Tokyo — they were used as human shields in a hopeless defense of Japan in 1945, and used as tax-paying slaves in the decades before that.

The US bases need to leave, and Okinawa needs to be free. Not free from the US, and not free to be Japan’s 47th prefecture (both chronologically and on the status totem pole), but free to be *its own independent nation.*

Exactly what “sovereignty” can the Tokyo government legitimately claim over the people of Okinawa, if we’re trying to redress past wrongs?...

http://www.debito.org/?p=6828

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8 ) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JUNE 1, 2010 (Japanese), May 15 speech in Kani-shi, Gifu-ken

This month’s podcast is a speech I gave in Japanese last month in Gifu Prefecture, Kani City.

Talk title: “Otonari ni gaikokujin ga kitara…”, where I’m discussing what needs to be done to help NJ assimilate.

I am reading from a powerpoint. Follow along with me if you like at http://www.debito.org/kanishi051510.ppt

1hr 40 minutes, uncut. Hear me in action.

Download free from iTunes or listen at
http://www.debito.org/?p=6813

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UPDATES

9) AFP: Another hunger strike in Immigration Detention Center, this time in Ushiku, Ibaraki

AFP: Scores of foreigners in a Japanese immigration detention centre have been on hunger strike for more than a week, demanding to be released and protesting the mysterious death of an African deportee.

Some 70 detainees — many of them Sri Lankans and Pakistanis — have refused food since May 10, also seeking to highlight suicides there by a Brazilian and a South Korean inmate, say their outside supporters.

The protest comes after UN rights envoy Jorge Bustamante in March raised concerns about Japan’s often years-long detentions of illegal migrants, including parents with children as well as rejected asylum seekers…

Human rights activists, lawyers and foreign communities have complained for years about conditions at Ushiku and Japan’s two other such facilities, in the western prefecture of Osaka and in southwestern Nagasaki prefecture.

At Ushiku, about 380 people are detained, with eight or nine inmates living in rooms that measure about 20 square metres (215 square feet), said Tanaka, a member of the Ushiku Detention Centre Problem Study Group.

“They are crammed into tiny segmented rooms that are not very clean, and many contract skin diseases,” she told AFP…

Hiroka Shoji of Amnesty International Japan said: “The immigration facilities are supposed to be places where authorities keep foreigners for a short period before deportation.

“But some people have been confined for over two years as a result. The government must introduce a limit to detentions.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=6745

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10) Robert Dujarric in Japan Times: Immigrants can buoy Japan as its regional power gives way to China

Excerpt: It is not possible to spend more than a few minutes with a Japanese diplomat or scholar without hearing the “C,” namely China. Most of them are convinced that the People’s Republic is expanding its global influence while Japan’s is shrinking. The entire world, and most worryingly Asia, which used to look toward Japan when Harvard scholar Ezra Vogel crowned it “No. 1– now sees China not only as the country of the future but already as today’s only Asian giant…

There is one area, however, where Japan could engage in a strategy that would simultaneously help its economy and give it an edge over China. This is immigration. Japan is unique among economies that are highly developed and in demographic decline in having so few immigrants. In fact, even European states that are in much better demographic condition also have large numbers of foreigners and recently naturalized citizens in their labor force.

The domestic economic advantages of a more open immigration policy are well documented. What is less understood is how it can be used as a foreign policy instrument. If Japan were home to several million guest workers, the country would become the lifeline of tens of millions of individuals back in their homeland who would benefit from the remittances of their relatives in the archipelago. Its economic role in the lives of some of these countries would become second to none. Many individuals would start to study Japanese, in the hope of one day working in the country…

COMMENT: If Japan offers the promise of domestic work, and if “Many individuals would start to study Japanese, in the hope of one day working in the country.”, then it had better make good on the promise of offering equal opportunity for advancement and assimilation regardless of background, by enacting laws that protect against discrimination. We were made a similar promise under the purported “kokusaika” of the Bubble Era. That’s why many of our generation came to Japan in the first place, and decades later feel betrayed by the perpetual second-class status.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6741

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11) Tangent: Yomiuri: Nouveau riche Chinese buying up Japan, Niseko

Yomiuri: China has also replaced Australia as the main foreign player in tourism and investment in and around Niseko, a southwestern Hokkaido town recently popular among foreign visitors as a ski resort.

“Australia was once the chief player in tourism and investment here. Since the [global] financial crisis, however, there has been an increase in the number of Chinese companies [conducting such activities],” Tomokazu Aoki, a senior official of Niseko Promotion Board Co.’s secretariat, said.

Founded in 1897, Niseko’s Yamada Onsen Hotel is renowned as the first resort to be built in the area. However, sold to a Chinese corporation this year, the hotel will reportedly be rebuilt as a villa-style accomodation.

A relative newcomer, the Hanazono ski resort has also been acquired by a foreign buyer, a Hong Kong-based communications company.

All this means progress and the go-ahead for further resort development in Niseko.

In April, The Times, a British newspaper, carried an article that read: “Chinese visitors to Niseko used to take a simple view of apres-ski: head to the nearest izakaya and scoff as much Hokkaido crab as possible. Nowadays, after the last run of the day, they scramble for the nearest real estate agent. The Chinese who come to this resort generally have money, are hungry for luxury and find a Japan that, increasingly, is for sale at knockdown prices.”

A local real estate agent said, “Most villas here are priced between 50 million yen and 100 million yen. Few Japanese can purchase such property, but there are Chinese paying cash to buy them.”

The business-savvy Chinese view the resorts as moneymaking assets and rent the villas out to tourists except when they themselves wish to stay there. This can earn them annual profits equivalent to about 5 percent of the villas’ original purchase price.

It is a trend that is set to continue. Teikoku Databank Ltd. estimates more than 300 Japanese corporations are currently funded by Chinese capital. Honma Golf Co., a major golf equipment manufacturer, is one of the latest — it became a Chinese subsidiary this year.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6773

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… and finally…

12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column June 1, 2010: Okinawa Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy (full text)

JUST BE CAUSE
Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy
The Japan Times: Tuesday, June 1, 2010
By DEBITO ARUDOU

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100601ad.html

Times are tough for the Hatoyama Cabinet. It’s had to backtrack on several campaign promises. Its approval ratings have plummeted to around 20 percent. And that old bone of contention — what to do about American military bases on Japanese soil — has resurfaced again.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100430a1.html

The Okinawa Futenma base relocation issue is complicated, and Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has devoted too much time to a battle he simply cannot win. If the American troops stay as is, Okinawan protests will continue and rifts within the Cabinet will grow. If the troops are moved within Japan, excessive media attention will follow and generate more anti-Hatoyama and anti-American sentiment. If the troops leave Japan entirely, people will grumble about losing American money.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100526a1.html

So let’s ask the essential question: Why are U.S. bases still in Japan?

One reason is inertia. America invaded Okinawa in 1945, and the bases essentially remain as spoils of war. Even after Okinawa’s return to Japan in 1972, one-sixth of Okinawa is technically still occupied, hosting 75 percent of America’s military presence in Japan. We also have the knock-on effects of Okinawan dependency on the bases (I consider it a form of “economic alcoholism”), and generations of American entrenchment lending legitimacy to the status quo.

Another reason is Cold War ideology. We hear arguments about an unsinkable aircraft carrier (as if Okinawa is someplace kept shipshape for American use), a bulwark against a pugilistic North Korea or a rising China (as if the DPRK has the means or China has the interest to invade, especially given other U.S. installations in, say, South Korea or Guam). But under Cold War logic including “deterrence” and “mutually assured destruction,” the wolf is always at the door; woe betide anyone who lets their guard down and jeopardizes regional security.

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

Then there’s the American military’s impressive job of preying on that insecurity. According to scholar Chalmers Johnson, as of 2005 there were 737 American military bases outside the U.S. (an actual increase since the Cold War ended) and 2.5 million U.S. military personnel serving worldwide. What happened to the “peace dividend” promised two decades ago after the fall of the Berlin Wall? Part of it sunk into places like Okinawa.

http://www.alternet.org/story/47998/

But one more reason demonstrates an underlying arrogance within the American government: “keeping the genie in the bottle” — the argument that Japan also needs to be deterred, from remilitarizing. The U.S. military’s attitude seems to be that they are here as a favor to us.

Some favor. As history shows, once the Americans set up a base abroad, they don’t leave. They generally have to lose a war (as in Vietnam), have no choice (as in the eruption of Pinatubo in the Philippines), or be booted out by a dictator (as in Uzbekistan). Arguments about regional balances of power are wool over the eyes. Never mind issues of national sovereignty — the demands of American empire require that military power be stationed abroad. Lump it, locals.

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

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/29/AR2005072902038.html

But in this case there’s a new complication: The Futenma issue is weakening Japan’s government.

Hatoyama has missed several deadlines for a resolution (while the American military has stalled negotiations for years without reprisal), enabling detractors to portray him as indecisive. He’s had to visit Okinawa multiple times to listen to locals and explain. Meanwhile, the opposition Liberal Democratic Party claims Hatoyama is reneging on a promise (which is spoon-bitingly hypocritical, given the five decades the LDP completely ignored Okinawa, and the fact that Hatoyama has basically accepted an accord concluded by the LDP themselves in 2006). And now, with Mizuho Fukushima’s resignation from the Cabinet, the coalition government is in jeopardy.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100525a6.html

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20100530a1.html

Futenma is taking valuable time away from other policies that concern Japan, such as corruption and unaccountability, growing domestic economic inequality, crippling public debts, and our future in the world as an aging society.

As the momentum ebbs from his administration, Hatoyama is in a no-win situation. But remember who put him there. If America really is the world’s leading promoter of democracy, it should consider how it is undermining Japan’s political development. After nearly 60 years of corrupt one-party rule, Japan finally has a fledgling two-party system. Yet that is withering on the vine thanks to American geopolitical manipulation.

We keep hearing how Japan’s noncooperation will weaken precious U.S.-Japan ties. But those ties have long been a leash — one the U.S., aware of how susceptible risk-averse Japan is to “separation anxiety,” yanks at whim. The “threatened bilateral relationship” claim is disingenuous — the U.S. is more concerned with bolstering its military-industrial complex than with Asia’s regional stability.

In sum, it’s less a matter of Japan wanting the U.S. bases to stay, more a matter of the U.S. bases not wanting to leave. Japan is a sovereign country, so the Japanese government has the final say. If that means U.S. forces relocating or even leaving completely, the U.S. should respectfully do so without complaint, not demand Japan find someplace else for them to go. That is not Japan’s job.

Yet our politicians have worked hard for decades to represent the U.S. government’s interests to the Japanese public. Why? Because they always have.

The time has come to stop being prisoners of history. World War II and the Cold War are long over.

That’s why this columnist says: Never mind Futenma. All U.S. bases should be withdrawn from Japanese soil, period. Anachronisms, the bases have not only created conflicts of interest and interfered with Japan’s sovereignty, they are now incapacitating our government. Japan should slip the collar of U.S. encampments and consider a future under a less dependent, more equal relationship with the U.S.

———————————

Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments to community@japantimes.co.jp

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That’s all for today. Thanks to everyone for reading!
Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
RSS feeds, daily updates at www.debito.org. Twitter arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 7, 2010 ENDS

Yomiuri: Nouveau riche Chinese buying up Japan, Niseko

mytest

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 somewhat Sundayish Tangent, here we have the Yomiuri talking about Chinese investing in Japan, both as consumers and businesspeople.  Of note to me is the Yomiuri’s claim that the Chinese are displacing Australian investment in Niseko, Hokkaido.  Fine with me.  Hokkaido could use the investment.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Mega-China Changing Japan-China relations / A piste of the action: Chinese take to skiing and shops
The Yomiuri Shimbun May. 25, 2010, Courtesy of Peach
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/world/T100524003379.htm

China’s rapid rise is causing ever-widening repercussions in its relationship with Japan. This is the second installment in a series of articles examining new currents in bilateral relations.

At 9 a.m. most days, the majority of shops are yet to open in Akihabara, Tokyo’s electronics shopping district.

Yet two sightseeing buses are parked in front of bulk electrical appliance chain Laox Co.’s flagship store. Emerging from the buses, about 100 Chinese stream into the shop. Laox is open for business.

The electrical cooking appliance section on the fourth floor proves particularly popular. A Laox employee, a Chinese national flag sticker worn on his chest, begins explaining the products on display. Sun Renmei, 61, of Shanghai, points at a stack of boxes containing rice cookers. She buys four: for herself, her children and a friend.

“I’ve been looking forward to buying high-tech Japanese rice cookers,” she says with a smile before hurriedly boarding one of the buses.

At the height of its prosperity, Laox boasted 149 outlets nationwide. In summer last year, however, following years of poor performance amid intensified domestic competition, Laox was bought out by Suning Appliance Co., the owner of China’s largest bulk home electrical appliance chain.

Its president now a Chinese, Laox has repositioned its customer base as international, an extension of previous measures taken to improve the company’s ability to deal with customers in foreign languages.

The flagship store has been renovated as a duty-free mecca that sells not only electrical appliances but also daily goods and souvenirs from Japan. Information about each product is provided in three languages–Japanese, English and Chinese. Twenty-three languages are spoken in the duty-free shop, including Tagalog.

While it usually opens at 10 a.m., management displays flexibility and moves forward opening hours on behalf of group tours, if their timetables so require.

Today, overseas visitors account for 60 percent to 70 percent of the flagship duty-free store’s customer base, a 10 percent increase since the Suning Appliance capital tie-up. Proceeds from sales to foreign customers have increased 70 percent.

In June, Laox is scheduled to open a variety store in Shanghai selling Japan-related products and services. This will be followed by an ambitious plan to increase the international Laox outlets to 100 over a three-year period.

Once a rarity, Chinese-owned shops serving Chinese customers in Japan–or overseas–are increasingly common nowadays.

China has also replaced Australia as the main foreign player in tourism and investment in and around Niseko, a southwestern Hokkaido town recently popular among foreign visitors as a ski resort.

“Australia was once the chief player in tourism and investment here. Since the [global] financial crisis, however, there has been an increase in the number of Chinese companies [conducting such activities],” Tomokazu Aoki, a senior official of Niseko Promotion Board Co.’s secretariat, said.

Founded in 1897, Niseko’s Yamada Onsen Hotel is renowned as the first resort to be built in the area. However, sold to a Chinese corporation this year, the hotel will reportedly be rebuilt as a villa-style accomodation.

A relative newcomer, the Hanazono ski resort has also been acquired by a foreign buyer, a Hong Kong-based communications company.

All this means progress and the go-ahead for further resort development in Niseko.

In April, The Times, a British newspaper, carried an article that read: “Chinese visitors to Niseko used to take a simple view of apres-ski: head to the nearest izakaya and scoff as much Hokkaido crab as possible. Nowadays, after the last run of the day, they scramble for the nearest real estate agent…The Chinese who come to this resort generally have money, are hungry for luxury and find a Japan that, increasingly, is for sale at knockdown prices.”

A local real estate agent said, “Most villas here are priced between 50 million yen and 100 million yen. Few Japanese can purchase such property, but there are Chinese paying cash to buy them.”

The business-savvy Chinese view the resorts as moneymaking assets and rent the villas out to tourists except when they themselves wish to stay there. This can earn them annual profits equivalent to about 5 percent of the villas’ original purchase price.

It is a trend that is set to continue. Teikoku Databank Ltd. estimates more than 300 Japanese corporations are currently funded by Chinese capital. Honma Golf Co., a major golf equipment manufacturer, is one of the latest–it became a Chinese subsidiary this year.
ENDS

Claiming workplace harassment is “The Japanese Way” costs Eikaiwa GEOS in NZ NZD 190,000 in court

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Here’s something that should raise a smile this Saturday morning.  Somebody working in an administrative position as a NJ in a Japanese company (GEOS, an Eikaiwa!) gets harassed in the workplace (gosh, what a surprise).  Then when taken to court, the company tries to claim this harassment is “The Japanese Way”!  Guess what:  They forgot this ain’t a Japanese courtroom where this actually might wash.  They lose.  Just goes to show you that what are considered working standards in Japan towards NJ (or anybody, really) aren’t something that will pass without sanction in other fellow developed societies.  Attitudes like these will only deter other NJ from working in Japanese companies in future.  Idiots.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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‘Japanese way’ costs $190,000
By Joseph Barratt, Courtesy of CM
New Zealand Herald Sunday May 30, 2010

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10648373

The boss of a multi-national English language school in Auckland has been awarded $190,000 after an employment tribunal dismissed claims he was used to being treated “the Japanese way”.

David Page was stripped of his job as regional director of GEOS New Zealand at a conference in 2008 and demoted to head of the company’s Auckland language centre.

In April last year, he was fired by email after being given “one last chance” to make the school profitable.

Page launched an unfair dismissal claim against GEOS, which comes under the umbrella of the GEOS Corporation founded by Japanese businessman Tsuneo Kusunoki.

But the company responded by claiming that Page “accepted understanding of the ‘Japanese way’ of doing business”. They went on to say he was used to Kusunoki “ranting”, “berating” and “humiliating” people “so this was nothing new”.

But the Employment Relations Authority said the company’s failings were “fundamental and profound”.

Member Denis Asher said the final warning was “an unscrupulous exploitation of the earlier, unlawful demotion”. He said: “A conclusion that the ‘Japanese way’ already experienced by Mr Page was continuing to be applied is difficult to avoid.”

Page, an Australian, started with the company as general manager for GEOS Gold Coast, Australia, in July 1999.

He moved to Auckland in March 2006, to take on the role of regional director. He was informed of his demotion at a regional conference in Thailand in November 2008.

Four months later he received a final warning that if the Auckland language centre was not in profit by the end of May his employment would be terminated.

Asher also said “an entirely unfair, unilateral process was applied” by the company in the decision to dismiss Page.

Page was awarded $55,000 for loss of income, $21,000 for hurt and humiliation, and $31,849.99 for long service leave. The total amount, including superannuation, under-payment of salary, holiday pay and bonuses came to more than $190,000.

The parent company, GEOS Corporation, went bankrupt in April owing $121 million. The New Zealand branch has been taken over by New Zealand Language Centres Limited. They refused to comment last night.

ENDS

Japan Times satirical piece on Gunma Isesaki bureaucrat beard ban

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Hi Blog. Here’s an excerpt of a satirical piece that appeared in the Japan Times Community Page earlier this week. On the Gunma-ken Isesaki City Bureaucrat Beard Ban. Thought it very funny. Especially when it brings up the nationality of my own beard! Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010
THE ZEIT GIST
Gunma city does battle with beards
Local government’s hairy-chin ban sets example for nation
By JAY KLAPHAKE

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100601zg.html

I would like to draw readers’ attention to the outstanding work of the municipal government of Isesaki, Gunma Prefecture. After receiving complaints that citizens find bearded men unpleasant, Isesaki — just as all levels of Japanese government often do — took decisive action to address an important public concern: The city announced a ban on beards for municipal workers.

Isesaki deserves our thanks for recognizing that allowing beards is the first step along a slippery slope. If we let government workers get away with improper grooming, the next thing you know they will start being creative and ask inappropriate questions like, “If we are actually trying to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, maybe we shouldn’t make expressways toll-free?” or, “Why don’t we budget more to ease the national shortage of child-care facilities instead of giving parents a per-child payout every month?”…

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has been quick to point to surveys that show government workers with beards are more likely to be supporters of voting rights for non-Japanese residents than clean-shaven employees. Excessive facial hair could even be used to mask an individual’s foreign roots, meaning that many of the hirsute could be naturalized citizens or children of naturalized citizens…

A legal defense committee led by human-rights advocate Debito Arudou (of course he has a beard) and law professor Colin P. A. Jones is looking into whether Isesaki used off-budget secret funds to operate a barbershop in the basement of City Hall and provided free haircuts and shaves to public employees. Arudou reportedly tried to enter the barbershop but was refused access because his beard didn’t look Japanese, even though he insisted that his beard did, in fact, become Japanese several years ago.

Professor Jones has apparently filed a freedom of information request for documents detailing whether, and how much of, taxpayers’ money was used for the secret project. In response, the city said that no such documents could be found, no such barbershop exists, and furthermore it would be a violation of the privacy of the barber to say anything more…

Rest of the article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100601zg.html
ENDS

Mark in Yayoi comments on Futenma affair: grant Okinawa its independence from Japan!

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Hi Blog. After yesterday’s events, I feel my column on former PM Hatoyama and Okinawa Futenma was probably the best-timed one I’ve ever done, unfortunately. That said, I left a big stone unturned in it (happens when you have less than 1000 words): How Okinawa has been abused by both sides — Japanese and American — and how they deserve their independence from forced dependence. Mark in Yayoi, a scholar of Okinawan languages and dying/extinct cultures, offered an excellent perspective this morning that shouldn’t be buried within another post. So here it is for independent discussion. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Mark In Yayoi Says:
June 2nd, 2010 at 11:56 pm

In context at http://www.debito.org/?p=6820#comment-196385

Debito, when reading your essay, I was surprised to find that I agreed with you, but for almost totally opposite reasons. I’m sure I’ll be torn to shreds by other posters, and again by the nationalist anti-Debito crowd on other blogs who might be reading this, but it needs to be said.

The American occupation of Okinawa, unjust as it might be, is a net benefit to the mainland Tokyo government, which gets protection while simultaneously pretending that it’s “Japan” bearing the burden when in fact it’s Okinawa that suffers — they’re the people putting up with the loud airplanes and unruly soldiers. And these people bearing the cost of the protection were never seen as equals by Tokyo — they were used as human shields in a hopeless defense of Japan in 1945, and used as tax-paying slaves in the decades before that.

The US bases need to leave, and Okinawa needs to be free. Not free from the US, and not free to be Japan’s 47th prefecture (both chronologically and on the status totem pole), but free to be its own independent nation.

Exactly what “sovereignty” can the Tokyo government legitimately claim over the people of Okinawa, if we’re trying to redress past wrongs?

In 1609, the Satsuma clan invaded Okinawa, forced the Shuri king to sign humiliating treaties, and taxed the people (first lightly, then very, very onerously) to the point that they were virtual slaves. By the 19th century, ordinary people in the Yaeyamas were forced to labor to the point where 86% of their productivity was siphoned off by the Satsuma, and local authorities were forcing pregnant women to abort their babies so that there would be fewer mouths to feed.

(See Toshiichi Sudo’s 1944 book 南島覚書 Nantou Oboegaki for exact figures on the taxes, and, if you don’t mind slogging through archaic Japanese, 南島探検 Nantou Tanken by Gisuke Sasamori 笹森儀助 for more info on the impoverished lives of Meiji-era Okinawans.)

The “head tax” continued until 1903 and monuments commemmorating its abolition still stand today.

The mainland rulers also treated Okinawans’ language with disrespect. Americans who refuse to learn the culture or language? They’re not half as bad as the mainlanders who came to Okinawa to administer the island before the war. Did they learn to speak Shuri (or any other Okinawan language)? Certainly not, and they even punished Okinawan children who had the audacity to speak their own languages rather than Japanese by making them wear big wooden “dialect tags” (hougen-fuda) around their necks.

And the Tokyo overlords did such a good job of eradicating the Okinawan languages that today you’re hard-pressed to find people who can still speak them.

So when it comes to oppressing Okinawans, the US military has nothing on the mainland Japanese.

Now, we can insist that the treatment of Okinawans by the mainland government before WWII is less relevant than how Tokyo has treated them since the reversion in 1972, and obviously the murderous taxes of rice and fabric and livestock have been dialed down quite a bit.

Still, the mainland government’s “have their cake and eat it too” position — whine about America being the big bad bully for domestic consumption while simultaneously accepting American protection from worse aggressors — needs to be addressed. As does the issue of what will happen with the bases when the US leaves. Surely Hatoyama wasn’t planning to just move the JSDF into all those fully-operational, ready-made installations, now was he?

I know that thia is pie-in-the-sky idealism, but what I really want to see is an independent Okinawa, with free-trade and free-entry agreements with Japan (and whatever countries they choose to deal with), and no national or consumption taxes paid to Tokyo whatsoever. At the very least, some kind of Hong Kong or Taiwan-like partial autonomy. I fervently hope that a solution can come about that respects not just the desires of residents near the bases, but also all those elderly folks who have been putting up with other disrespects and abuses since long before the first US base was built. The US is using those people, sure, but the Tokyo government has an even worse track record. An autonomous Okinawa is the only way.

ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column June 1, 2010: Okinawa Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy

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justbecauseicon.jpg
JUST BE CAUSE
Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy
The Japan Times: Tuesday, June 1, 2010
By DEBITO ARUDOU

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100601ad.html

Times are tough for the Hatoyama Cabinet. It’s had to backtrack on several campaign promises. Its approval ratings have plummeted to around 20 percent. And that old bone of contention — what to do about American military bases on Japanese soil — has resurfaced again.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100430a1.html

The Okinawa Futenma base relocation issue is complicated, and Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has devoted too much time to a battle he simply cannot win. If the American troops stay as is, Okinawan protests will continue and rifts within the Cabinet will grow. If the troops are moved within Japan, excessive media attention will follow and generate more anti-Hatoyama and anti-American sentiment. If the troops leave Japan entirely, people will grumble about losing American money.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100526a1.html

So let’s ask the essential question: Why are U.S. bases still in Japan?

One reason is inertia. America invaded Okinawa in 1945, and the bases essentially remain as spoils of war. Even after Okinawa’s return to Japan in 1972, one-sixth of Okinawa is technically still occupied, hosting 75 percent of America’s military presence in Japan. We also have the knock-on effects of Okinawan dependency on the bases (I consider it a form of “economic alcoholism”), and generations of American entrenchment lending legitimacy to the status quo.

Another reason is Cold War ideology. We hear arguments about an unsinkable aircraft carrier (as if Okinawa is someplace kept shipshape for American use), a bulwark against a pugilistic North Korea or a rising China (as if the DPRK has the means or China has the interest to invade, especially given other U.S. installations in, say, South Korea or Guam). But under Cold War logic including “deterrence” and “mutually assured destruction,” the wolf is always at the door; woe betide anyone who lets their guard down and jeopardizes regional security.

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

Then there’s the American military’s impressive job of preying on that insecurity. According to scholar Chalmers Johnson, as of 2005 there were 737 American military bases outside the U.S. (an actual increase since the Cold War ended) and 2.5 million U.S. military personnel serving worldwide. What happened to the “peace dividend” promised two decades ago after the fall of the Berlin Wall? Part of it sunk into places like Okinawa.

http://www.alternet.org/story/47998/

But one more reason demonstrates an underlying arrogance within the American government: “keeping the genie in the bottle” — the argument that Japan also needs to be deterred, from remilitarizing. The U.S. military’s attitude seems to be that they are here as a favor to us.

Some favor. As history shows, once the Americans set up a base abroad, they don’t leave. They generally have to lose a war (as in Vietnam), have no choice (as in the eruption of Pinatubo in the Philippines), or be booted out by a dictator (as in Uzbekistan). Arguments about regional balances of power are wool over the eyes. Never mind issues of national sovereignty — the demands of American empire require that military power be stationed abroad. Lump it, locals.

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

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/29/AR2005072902038.html

But in this case there’s a new complication: The Futenma issue is weakening Japan’s government.

Hatoyama has missed several deadlines for a resolution (while the American military has stalled negotiations for years without reprisal), enabling detractors to portray him as indecisive. He’s had to visit Okinawa multiple times to listen to locals and explain. Meanwhile, the opposition Liberal Democratic Party claims Hatoyama is reneging on a promise (which is spoon-bitingly hypocritical, given the five decades the LDP completely ignored Okinawa, and the fact that Hatoyama has basically accepted an accord concluded by the LDP themselves in 2006). And now, with Mizuho Fukushima’s resignation from the Cabinet, the coalition government is in jeopardy.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100525a6.html

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20100530a1.html

Futenma is taking valuable time away from other policies that concern Japan, such as corruption and unaccountability, growing domestic economic inequality, crippling public debts, and our future in the world as an aging society.

As the momentum ebbs from his administration, Hatoyama is in a no-win situation. But remember who put him there. If America really is the world’s leading promoter of democracy, it should consider how it is undermining Japan’s political development. After nearly 60 years of corrupt one-party rule, Japan finally has a fledgling two-party system. Yet that is withering on the vine thanks to American geopolitical manipulation.

We keep hearing how Japan’s noncooperation will weaken precious U.S.-Japan ties. But those ties have long been a leash — one the U.S., aware of how susceptible risk-averse Japan is to “separation anxiety,” yanks at whim. The “threatened bilateral relationship” claim is disingenuous — the U.S. is more concerned with bolstering its military-industrial complex than with Asia’s regional stability.

In sum, it’s less a matter of Japan wanting the U.S. bases to stay, more a matter of the U.S. bases not wanting to leave. Japan is a sovereign country, so the Japanese government has the final say. If that means U.S. forces relocating or even leaving completely, the U.S. should respectfully do so without complaint, not demand Japan find someplace else for them to go. That is not Japan’s job.

Yet our politicians have worked hard for decades to represent the U.S. government’s interests to the Japanese public. Why? Because they always have.

The time has come to stop being prisoners of history. World War II and the Cold War are long over.

That’s why this columnist says: Never mind Futenma. All U.S. bases should be withdrawn from Japanese soil, period. Anachronisms, the bases have not only created conflicts of interest and interfered with Japan’s sovereignty, they are now incapacitating our government. Japan should slip the collar of U.S. encampments and consider a future under a less dependent, more equal relationship with the U.S.

Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments to community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JUNE 1, 2010 (Japanese)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  This month’s podcast is a speech I gave in Japanese last month in Gifu Prefecture, Kani City.

講演会 「お隣に外国人が来たら」

2010年5月15日 岐阜県可児市多文化共生センターにて

I am reading from a powerpoint.  Follow along with me if you like at http://www.debito.org/kanishi051510.ppt

1hr 40 minutes, uncut.  Hear me in action.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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