Archive for June, 2010
Posted by debito on 30th June 2010
Colin Jones in the Japan Times: 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…
Posted in Child Abductions, History, Injustice, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits | 19 Comments »
Posted by debito on 30th June 2010
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.
Posted in Media, Sport | 9 Comments »
Posted by debito on 29th June 2010
Kyodo: 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.
COMMENT: My main one is that 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.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 6 Comments »
Posted by debito on 28th June 2010
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.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Media, 日本語 | 12 Comments »
Posted by debito on 27th June 2010
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. But it’s more food for thought when the NPA keeps erroneously telling us that NJ crime is on the rise.
Excerpt: 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…
Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Tangents | 3 Comments »
Posted by debito on 26th June 2010
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.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 20 Comments »
Posted by debito on 25th June 2010
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 Best 16. 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, Nippon! Ganbare!!
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.
Posted in Good News, Media, Sport | 23 Comments »
Posted by debito on 24th June 2010
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:
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.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Japanese Politics, Practical advice | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 23rd June 2010
Excerpt: “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?”…
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… 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… 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.
Posted in Discussions, Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics | 61 Comments »
Posted by debito on 22nd June 2010
Economist London: 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.
Canadian Press: 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.
COMMENT: 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. It’s like holding an Olympics every year in a sparkling new venue, except nobody can attend but government elites. Pigs at the trough.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Hokkaido Toyako G8 Summit 2008, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media | 11 Comments »
Posted by debito on 21st June 2010
Here is a powerpoint presentation by a Mr Vitaliy Katsenelson of an investment consulting firm, telling us in a very easily understood powerpoint presentation how Japan’s economic particulars just don’t add up to sustainability — mentioning the demographics and insufficient immigration that will drive Japan in the long run into insolvency. Have a look.
Posted in Unsustainable Japanese Society | 18 Comments »
Posted by debito on 20th June 2010
Table of Contents:
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!
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)
Posted in Newsletters | 1 Comment »
Posted by debito on 20th June 2010
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 現行犯 (genkōhan, the act of committing a crime), a culprit might warn his cohorts by saying, おい、逃げろ！サツだ！ (Oi, nigero! Satsu da!, Beat it! It’s the cops!).
To obtain witness testimony at 犯行現場 (hankō genba, the scene of the crime), police will engage in 聞き込み (kikikomi, door-to-door canvassing). In serious cases, a 逃亡者（tōbōsha, fugitive) might be the subject of a 全国指名手配 (zenkoku shimei tehai, nationwide dragnet).
Of course, 前科者 (zenkamono, people with a previous criminal record) facing a prison sentence are likely to 無罪を主張する (muzai wo shuchō suru, proclaim innocence), using such expressions as 僕は絶対にやってない (Boku wa zettai ni yatte nai, I absolutely didn’t do it), 僕は白だ (Boku wa shiro da, I’m “white,” i.e., “clean” or innocent), or even 濡れ衣を着せられた (Nureginu wo kiserareta, I was made to wear wet silk, i.e., framed).
To avoid the possibility of 冤罪裁判 (enzai saiban, a miscarriage of justice), police must follow procedure while bearing in mind that 疑わしきは罰せず (utagawashiki wa bassezu, suspicion does not equal guilt, i.e., the suspect is innocent until proved guilty).”
Posted in History, Media, Tangents, 日本語 | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 19th June 2010
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?
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, Tourism | 14 Comments »
Posted by debito on 18th June 2010
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.
Posted in History, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Tangents, United Nations | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 17th June 2010
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:
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
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…
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Child Abductions, Media | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 16th June 2010
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.
Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Labor issues, Practical advice, Tangents | 28 Comments »
Posted by debito on 15th June 2010
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. 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.”…
Posted in Exclusionism, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, United Nations | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 14th June 2010
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.”
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.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Immigration & Assimilation, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 24 Comments »
Posted by debito on 13th June 2010
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?
Posted in Education, Fun Facts, Tangents, 日本語 | 26 Comments »
Posted by debito on 12th June 2010
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.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 11 Comments »
Posted by debito on 11th June 2010
KANSAI SCENE: 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…
Posted in Articles & Publications, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Politics | 7 Comments »
Posted by debito on 10th June 2010
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.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 50 Comments »
Posted by debito on 9th June 2010
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 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.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, 日本語 | 21 Comments »
Posted by debito on 8th June 2010
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.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Exclusionism, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media | 34 Comments »
Posted by debito on 7th June 2010
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.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 16 Comments »
Posted by debito on 7th June 2010
Table of Contents:
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
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)
Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 6th June 2010
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.
Posted in Cultural Issue, Tangents, Tourism | 11 Comments »
Posted by debito on 5th June 2010
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.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Labor issues, Lawsuits, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept. | 8 Comments »
Posted by debito on 4th June 2010
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…
Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Humor, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 14 Comments »
Posted by debito on 3rd June 2010
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?…
Posted in Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, History, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government | 18 Comments »
Posted by debito on 2nd June 2010
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…
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.
Posted in Articles & Publications, Gaiatsu, History, Japanese Politics | 44 Comments »
Posted by debito on 1st June 2010
This month’s podcast is a speech I gave in Japanese last month in Gifu Prefecture, Kani City.
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.
Posted in Podcasts, 日本語 | No Comments »