AP and JT on “Soft Power” of JET Programme, projecting Japan’s influence abroad.

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Hi Blog. Here are two articles talking about inter alia what I brought up yesterday, Japan’s “soft power”, and how the JET Programme is an example of that.  First one delves into the history and goals, the other making the case for and against it, with input from former students under JETs’ tutelage.

We’ve talked extensively about JET cuts/possible abolition here already on Debito.org (archives here), and raised doubts about the efficacy of the program as a means to teach Japanese people a foreign language and “get people used to NJ” (which I agree based upon personal experience has been effective, as Anthony says below).  I guess the angle to talk about this time, what with all the international networking and alumni associations, is the efficacy of the program as a means of projecting Japan’s “soft power”, if not “cool”, abroad.

I have already said that I am a fan of JET not for the projection of power abroad, but rather because the alternative, no JET, would not be less desirable.  Otherwise, in this discussion, I haven’t any real angle to push (for a change), so let’s have a discussion.  Give us some good arguments on how effective JET is abroad (discuss how effective JET is in Japan at a different blog entry here, please read comments before commenting to avoid retreads)  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Does Japan still need 23-yr-old exchange program?

By TOMOKO A. HOSAKA
Associated Press: Jul 28, 2010, courtesy of AR

http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_15818/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=srUD04pJ

PHOTO CAPTION: In this photo taken on Wednesday, July 21, 2010, Steven Horowitz, a JET alumni who is now on the board of the JET alumni association, poses for a picture in New York. The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, known as JET, is now among the biggest international exchange programs in the world. More than 52,000 people, mostly American, have taken part and supporters proclaim it as Japan’s most successful soft power initiative since World War II. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

TOKYO (AP) – Every year for the past two decades, legions of young Americans have descended upon Japan to teach English. This government-sponsored charm offensive was launched to counter anti-Japan sentiment in the United States and has since grown into one of the country’s most successful displays of soft power.

But faced with stagnant growth and a massive public debt, lawmakers are aggressively looking for ways to rein in spending. One of their targets is the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, or JET.

Versions of the JET program can be found in other countries. French Embassies around the world help to recruit young people to teach their languages in France for a year. The U.S. Fulbright program, run by the State Department, works in both directions: American graduates are sent abroad to study and teach, and foreigners are brought to the U.S. to do the same.

But JET’s origins and historical context make it unique. Having long pursued policies of isolation – with short bursts of imperialism – Japan was looking for a new way to engage with the world in 1987, at the height of its economic rise.

The country’s newfound wealth was viewed as a threat in the U.S., where anti-Japanese sentiment ran high. At the same time, Tokyo wanted to match its economic power with political clout. JET emerged as one high-profile solution to ease trade friction, teach foreigners about Japan and open the country to the world.

Under the program, young people from English-speaking countries – mostly Americans – work in schools and communities to teach their language and foster cultural exchange. They receive an after-tax salary of about 3.6 million yen ($41,400), roundtrip airfare to Japan and help with living arrangements. More than 90 percent of this year’s incoming class of 4,334 will work as assistant language teachers.

Word about possible cuts began filtering through JET alumni networks several weeks ago, and members of the New York group mobilized quickly, starting an online signature campaign. Former JET – as the alums are known – Steven Horowitz, now living in Brooklyn, is devoting his website jetwit.com to rally support. Another alumnus in Florida launched a Facebook page.

Their message to Tokyo is that Japan’s return on investment in the program is priceless. Japan, they say, cannot afford to lose this key link to the world, especially as its global relevance wanes in the shadow of China. And the program, they argue, not only teaches the world about Japan but also teaches Japan about the world.

“There has been a benefit from the program that you can’t measure,” said New York native Anthony Bianchi. “People used to freak out when they’d see a foreigner. Just the fact that that doesn’t happen anymore is a big benefit.”

Bianchi’s experience shows the power of the program to create cultural ties. After working as a teacher for two years in Aichi prefecture in central Japan, he landed a job with the mayor in Inuyama City, an old castle town in the area. He eventually adopted Japanese citizenship and ran for city council. Now in his second term, the 51-year-old is working to convince Diet members that JET is worth saving.

Bianchi is not alone. Of the more than 52,000 people who have taken part, many are moving into leadership at companies, government offices and non-profits that make decisions affecting Japan, said David McConnell, an anthropology professor at The College of Wooster in Ohio and author of a book about JET.

“The JET Program is, simply put, very smart foreign policy,” he said.

James Gannon, executive director for the nonprofit Japan Center for International Exchange in New York, describes JET as a pillar of the U.S.-Japan relationship and the “best public diplomacy program that any country has run” in recent decades.

But many taxpayers are asking if the program is worth the price – and criticism of JET has become part of a larger political showdown about how much government Japan can afford.

The organization that oversees JET, the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations, has drawn the ire of lawmakers as a destination where senior bureaucrats retire to plush jobs. The practice, known as “amakudari,” or “descent from heaven,” is viewed as a source of corruption and waste.

Motoyuki Odachi, head of a budget review panel that examined JET, said taxpayers are getting ripped off.

“There’s a problem with the organization itself,” said Odachi, an upper house member from central Japan. “This program has continued in order to maintain ‘amakudari.'”

JET’s administrators tried to defend themselves at a public hearing in late May and submitted planned reforms, including a 15 percent slimmer budget this fiscal year. The council has allocated about $10 million for the program, which includes airfare, orientation costs and counseling services. Teachers’ salaries are paid by the towns and cities that hire them. Several government ministries cover other JET-related costs, such as overseas recruitment.

Odachi expects his panel’s recommendations will be adopted as formal policy later this year.

“Whether that means zero (money) or half, we don’t know yet,” he said. “But our opinion has been issued, so (JET) will probably shrink.”

Kumiko Torikai, dean of Rikkyo University’s Graduate School of Intercultural Communication and the author of several books on English education in Japan, says JET has outgrown its usefulness and needs an overhaul.

“Bringing thousands of JETs to Japan is not a good investment for the country’s taxpayers in this day and age of an already globalized world,” Torikai said.

ENDS

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Japan Times Tuesday, July 27, 2010
THE ZEIT GIST
Ex-students don’t want JET grounded
Eric Johnston and Kanako Nakamura ask ‘children of JET’ whether the program deserves to be on the chopping block
By Eric Johnston and Kanako Nakamura (excerpt)

The case for JET
The JET program is one of — perhaps the only — project carried out by the Japanese government during the bubble-economy years of the late 1980s and early 1990s to promote kokusaika (internationalization) that actually had some success.

Since its inception, over 50,000 young foreigners have come to Japan to teach English and share their cultures with young Japanese who would otherwise not likely have been able to speak directly with a foreign teacher. These young people have also benefited local education by improving the abilities of Japanese teachers of English.

Upon return to their home countries, they act as unofficial goodwill ambassadors for Japan, and their experience as a JET is looked upon favorably by employers such as the U.S. State Department. For a relatively small investment on the part of taxpayers, the JET program has created huge returns, welcoming generations of non-Japanese who have, and will, go on to promote better relations between Japan and their own country and expose Japanese to the outside world in unprecedented ways.

The case against
The JET program is a relic of the go-go days of the bubble-economy years, when any half-baked idea could get government funding if it had the word “kokusaika” attached to it. Since its inception, over 50,000 young foreigners with few, if any, teaching credentials have come to Japan and partied for a year at taxpayer expense. They have usually enjoyed their stay, but their effectiveness in improving the English language ability of their students was never quantitatively measured and, given Japanese students’ performances on international English tests, is questionable at best.

Because most JET teachers are from North America, Europe or Australasia, the program promotes an “Anglo-Saxon” view of the world that disregards the importance of other cultures.

A JET’s presence in the classroom with Japanese teachers can actually be disruptive to classroom discipline, while the need for their colleagues to assist them with personal matters due to the language barrier places extra burdens on school staff.

Upon return to their countries, they land the same jobs others who were in Japan get, and it’s naive to think most JETs will be goodwill ambassadors.

At a time of fiscal austerity and when thousands of native English-speakers — many with teaching qualifications, Japanese language ability and a much better understanding of Japanese culture — can be hired as contract workers from private firms depending on local needs and at lower cost, why should Japanese taxpayers continue to subsidize the JET program?

The ex-students’ view…

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100727zg.html

Asahi: South Korea, China overtaking Japan in ‘cool’ culture battle, whatever that means

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Hi Blog.  Here are two articles about an economic phenom I’ve never quite gotten the hang of:  the “coolness” of a country.  The Asahi frets that Japan is losing out to other Asian countries in “coolness”, whatever that means.  There is an actual department within METI dealing with “cool”, BTW, and an article below talks about “Japan’s Gross National Cool”, again, whatever that means.  Sounds like a means for former PMs like Aso to create manga museums and bureaucrats to get a line-item budget for officially studying “soft power”.  Ka-ching.

But in all fairness, it’s not only Japan.  Brazil is doing something similar with its quest for  “soft power” (but more as an understated tangent to its economic growth, according to The Economist London).  And of course, PM Blair had “Cool Brittania”.  So this may be just an extension of trying to measure the value of services as well as hard material goods, or a hybrid thereof.  It’s just that with “soft power” comes the potential for some equally soft-focus science — how can you be “losing” to other countries in something so hard to measure?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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South Korea, China overtaking Japan in ‘cool’ culture battle
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN 2010/07/26

http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201007250293.html

In industry as well as sports, Japan has found itself trailing in the footsteps of China and South Korea.

Those two neighbors are now threatening Japan’s place in the cultural realm as well.

Between July 1 and 4, the Japan Expo in Paris attracted manga and anime fans from around Europe. In recent years, about 150,000 people have taken part.

In one section of the event, however, signs were displayed for manhwa, the Korean term for manga.

For the first time in the 11-year history of the expo, the manhwa sign was displayed through the efforts of the Korea Creative Content Agency, a South Korean government agency.

Tetsuya Watanabe, the official in charge of the Cool Japan section at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, could not hide his shock at the strides being made by South Korea.

“There may come the day when this event is overwhelmed by manhwa,” Watanabe said.

South Korea has been stressing the fostering of its cultural industry from the 1990s and the Korea Creative Content Agency plays an important role in that effort.

The agency operates mainly through about 180 billion won (about 13.3 billion yen or $152.1 million) in government subsidies. Among its main roles are drawing up a strategy to move into foreign markets as well as to develop individuals in the cultural industry.

Agency President Lee Jae-woong said, “In the 21st century, the cultural industry will lead all industries. That is the recognition of the South Korean government.”

In addition to manga, South Korea is also making major efforts in film, even as Japanese directors such as Hayao Miyazaki and Takeshi Kitano have received international acclaim.

A new base for South Korean cinema is now under construction at the Haeundae seaside resort area in Busan.

A roof measuring about 1.5 times the size of a soccer pitch is supported by what looks like tree limbs.

The site will eventually become the main venue for the Pusan International Film Festival.

The film center is scheduled for completion in September 2011 and the South Korean and Busan city governments have invested a total of 162.4 billion won.

An area of about 60,000 square meters, including the film center, will also eventually house facilities to train animators. Two years from now, government agencies in charge of the film industry will move to Busan from Seoul.

South Korean government officials want to turn the area into an Asian film hub.

In the background lies the success of the Pusan International Film Festival which began in 1996.

The scale of the festival expanded with the aggressive backing provided by the national and local governments.

From 1998, a new project was begun to bring together movie producers and investors from various Asian nations.

From 2005, a program was begun to have movie directors and others give lectures to individuals aspiring to careers in the movie industry.

Such efforts rapidly improved international recognition of the film festival.

One result is that the number of world premieres offered at the Pusan International Film Festival reached 98 last year, far outpacing the 26 presented at the Tokyo International Film Festival, which has an older history, having begun in 1985.

This year’s Pusan International Film Festival, to be held in October, will have a budget of about 10 billion won (700 million yen), about 4.5 times the budget of the first festival. Three-quarters of the budget is being covered by the central and city governments.

The Korea Creative Content Agency’s Lee said, “When moving into global economic markets, efforts should also be made to improve the level of cultural industry. Improving culture will improve the image of a nation and heighten the product value of manufactured goods. The South Korean government is well aware of that connection.”

China is also making efforts to improve its cultural industry. In 2007, the Communist Party convention placed cultural soft power as a major national policy.

In addition to movies and publishing, China has in recent years emphasized anime. Anime industrial bases have been constructed in about 20 locations in China, including Dalian, Tianjin and Changsha.

A number of anime companies with more than 1,000 employees have since emerged.

Those efforts were evident at the Tokyo International Anime Fair held in March in the Ariake district of Tokyo.

Of the 59 companies from abroad, 38 were from China, while only 16 were from South Korea.

The Chinese city of Chongqing held meetings at a Tokyo hotel during the fair that brought together anime companies based in Chongqing with Japanese companies.

Wu Jiangbo, deputy director of the Cultural Market Department of China’s Culture Ministry, said, “The anime fair is an important platform to publicize China’s works and companies.”

The central government has a heavy hand in developing China’s anime industry.

A high-ranking Culture Ministry official said, “The market has grown to 100 billion yuan (1.3 trillion yen), about six times the Japanese market.”

However, Chinese officials are not satisfied with the current situation.

Wu said, “Although there are now about 5,000 anime companies in China, there is no company recognized around the world. We want to foster a first-class company on a global scale.”

In the past, Chinese companies were nothing more than subcontractors for the Japanese anime industry.

Now, there is more equality in the relationships.

In June, a news conference was held in Shanghai to announce the start of production of a Chinese-language anime movie based on a Japanese TV anime, “Ikkyu-san,” that was popular during the 1980s in China.

The movie version will be jointly produced by Toei Animation Co. of Tokyo and the Shanghai Media Group.

Hidenori Oyama, senior director at Toei Animation, said of the project, “It will be a first step to move into the Asian market.”

However, those on the Chinese side have bigger plans in mind.

They are targeting the generation that grew up watching Ikkyu-san, an anime about a Buddhist monk, as well as their children.

Wang Lei, a vice president with the Shanghai Media Group, said, “If this succeeds in China, we want to sell it in Southeast Asia.”

Chinese Cultural Minister Cai Wu said, “We have learned a lot about cultural policy from Japan and South Korea. In particular, the policy of South Korea has been wise because even though it is a small nation it has achieved economic development and has exported many aspects of South Korean culture.”

Trying to keep up, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry established the section for Cool Japan in June.

One official said, “We want to heighten Japan’s brand image through a strategic overseas marketing move in such areas as anime, design and fashion, and tie that into economic growth.”

ENDS

Related:

日本政府は先月18日、新成長戦略を発表し、海外で人気が高い日本のアニメやマンガなどのコンテンツ「クール・ジャパン」の輸出促進を重点的な成長分野に位置付けた。国営新華社通信が伝えた。

文化産業大国である日本の文化コンテンツは世界で人気を集めている。日本のファッションはアジアひいては世界の流行を長年リードしており、日本のアニメも世界のアニメ市場において揺るぎない地位を獲得している。観光業も世界市場でトップクラスにある。

日本の文化産業は強い競争力を持つ。米政治アナリスト、ダグラス・マグレイ(Douglas McGray)氏が米外交専門誌「外交(Foreign Policy)」に「日本の国民総クール度(Japan’s Gross National Cool)」と題する小論を発表し、日本のアニメや音楽、テレビゲーム、家電製品、ファッション、グルメなど日本のポップカルチャーが持つ国際的影響力を高く評価した。その後「クール・ジャパン」が魅力溢れる日本のポップカルチャーを指す代名詞として使われるようになった。見方を変えれば、「クール・ジャパン」は日本のソフトパワーを象徴するものと言える。

日本のソフトパワーの強さは、コンテンツ産業を長年重視してきた日本の政策とかかわりがある。日本は『著作権法』『文化芸術振興基本法』『コンテンツの創造、保護および活用の促進に関する法律』など関連の法律を実施してきた。麻生太郎氏が外相と首相を務めていた時期には、「マンガ外交」を打ち出した。デジタル技術の普及後も、日本は知的財産権の保護やコピー防止に関する技術の開発に努め、インターネット時代にあってもコンテンツの著作権をしっかりと保護してきた。

日本は最近、文化産業に関する新たな措置を打ち出した。経済産業省はアニメ商品の輸出を促進するため、世界戦略拠点を北京に開設した。さらに同省の製造産業局(METI)が「クール・ジャパン室」を設置、デザインやアニメ、ファッション、映画の輸出を含む文化産業の促進のほか、海外市場の開拓や人材育成などの企画立案、支援推進策の政府横断的実施に乗り出している。「クール・ジャパン」を軸として、文化産業の輸出促進に向けた官民一体の取り組みが進められている。

6月中旬に日本政府が発表した新成長戦略でも「クール・ジャパン」の海外展開が新成長戦略の重点に位置付けられた。海外の番組枠の買い取りやデジタル配信の強化、海外コンテンツの流通規制の緩和・撤廃、海賊版の防止などの措置を通じて、民間企業を中心としたクール・ジャパンの海外展開をはかる。新成長戦略では、2020までにアジアにおけるコンテンツ収入1兆円を実現することを目標として掲げている。

日本の産業は転換期にある。文化産業を新成長戦略の重要な分野に位置付けていることは、産業転換の重要な現れだ。政府の後押しを背景として、文化産業は日本経済成長をけん引する重要な柱と成長していくだろう。

New separate blog with details about taking Japanese citizenship, in English, written by other fellow naturalized Japanese

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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Hi Blog. Late last June a naturalized Japanese friend of mine set up a website devoted solely to offering information to people interested in taking out Japanese citizenship (or of course for those who just have a curiosity about what’s involved). Written by people who have actually gone through the process (yours truly included). See it at:

http://www.turning-japanese.info/

Debito.org was once pretty much the source for that in English, but the data there is out of date in places (of course, it’s been a decade). This collection of modern and variable experiences from the increasingly-visible naturalized Japanese citizens (word has it your treatment by MOJ officials depends quite a bit on your race and national origin; I believe as a White former American I had a comparatively easy time of it) is a valuable addition to the canon, and I wanted to devote today’s blog entry to point you towards it.

Topics thus far covered there:

    High-fidelity MS Word and OpenDocument Japan naturalization forms
    FAQ: Which is more difficult: permanent residency or naturalization
    Comparison: The U.S. Citizenship Test on Video
    Misinformation: justlanded.ru: Japanese citizenship
    The three types of naturalization
    Misinformation: eHow: How to become a Japanese Citizen
    FAQ: Do you have to speak perfect Japanese to naturalize?
    FAQ: How much paperwork is involved?
    FAQ: Can I have an official Japanese name even if I don’t naturalize?
    What the Ministry of Justice website says about naturalization
    Analyzing the Application Procedures
    FAQ: Do you have to be a permanent resident or special permanent resident to naturalize?
    Your newly acquired right to vote: Using the web to know your candidates
    FAQ: Do you have to take a Japanese name if you naturalize?
    FAQ: How much does it cost to naturalize?
    Becoming Japanese is becoming more expensive for Americans
    Japanese “Naturalization Permission Application Guidance” booklet
    Renouncing Former Nationalities
    My first visit to the Nationality Section

and more.

http://www.turning-japanese.info/

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Shame on Berlitz Japan for its court harassments, firing teacher for having cancer

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. Shame on Berlitz Japan for its harassment of employees in court, and for firing people for their union activities (illegal under labor law) and for having cancer. This sort of thing should not be allowed in a civilized labor union market. But of course, especially in Japan’s Eikaiwa market, that’s assuming a lot. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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The Japan Times Tuesday, July 27, 2010
ZEIT GIST: UPDATE
Talks drag on, teachers fired in Berlitz case
By JAMES McCROSTIE, courtesy of Kevin (excerpt)

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100727a1.html

After 20 months of legal wrangling, neither side has managed to snag a win in Berlitz Japan’s ¥110 million lawsuit against five teachers and their union, Begunto.

On the recommendation of the case’s lead judge, the company and union have been in court-mediated reconciliation talks since December. The agreement to enter the talks came after a year of court hearings into the suit…

Louis Carlet, one of the union officials being sued, describes progress at the once-a-month, 30-minute negotiating sessions as “glacially slow.”…

The battle between Berlitz Japan and Begunto began with a strike launched Dec. 13, 2007, as Berlitz Japan and its parent company, Benesse Corp., were enjoying record profits. Teachers, who had gone without an across-the-board raise for 16 years, struck for a 4.6-percent pay hike and a one-month bonus. The action grew into the largest sustained strike in the history of Japan’s language school industry, with more than 100 English, Spanish and French teachers participating in walkouts across Kanto.

On Dec. 3, 2008, Berlitz Japan claimed the strike was illegal and sued for a total of ¥110 million in damages. Named in the suit were the five teachers volunteering as Begunto executives, as well as two union officials: the president of the National Union of General Workers Tokyo Nambu, Yujiro Hiraga , and Carlet, former NUGW case officer for Begunto and currently executive president of Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union (Tozen)…

Another of the teachers named in the suit, Catherine Campbell, was fired earlier this month after taking too long to recover from late-stage breast cancer cancer. In June 2009, Campbell took a year of unpaid leave to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Because Berlitz Japan failed to enroll Campbell in the shakai hoken health insurance scheme, she was unable to receive the two-thirds wage coverage it provides and had to live with her parents in Canada during treatment. The company denied Campbell’s request to extend her leave from June to Sept. 2010 and fired her for failing to return to work.

Berlitz Japan work rules allow for leave-of-absence extensions where the company deems it necessary.

“If cancer is not such a case, what would be?” Campbell asks. “On one hand, I’m lucky to be alive and healthy enough to even want to go back to work, so everything else pales in comparison,” she explained. “But on the other, the company’s decision does seem hard to understand. The leave is unpaid, and I don’t receive any health benefits, so it wouldn’t cost Berlitz anything to keep me on; and for me, it’s that much harder to restart my life without a job.”

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100727a1.html

Japan Times: Another NJ death in Japanese Immigration custody while being “subdued”; details as yet unclear

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. In another case of NJ dying in Immigration’s custody, we have a person who came to Japan this weekend, apparently felt ill, allegedly tried to escape from Immigration’s questioning, and died in custody after “being subdued”.

Now while there are insufficient details to determine whether foul play was involved, it has been documented how rough Immigration can be towards people in their care, with for example “being subdued” leading to death in the Suraj Case earlier this year. Since Immigration (aka “Japan’s Bouncers”) still hasn’t come clean about what happened there, this is yet another case worth mentioning on Debito.org.  JT article follows, courtesy of Kevin. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Japan Times Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Ailing Kansai arrival dies after interrogation, bid to flee
By ERIC JOHNSTON

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100727a5.html

OSAKA — A 55-year-old African man complaining of illness who arrived at Kansai airport Sunday evening with a Belgian passport died after a lengthy interrogation and escape attempt, immigration officials said Monday.

The man, whose name is being withheld by authorities, landed at Kansai International Airport from Ghana via Dubai at about 6:20 p.m. Sunday. Saying he felt ill, he was put in a wheelchair and taken to the immigration line upon arrival, according to the officials.

He refused to cooperate with immigration officials, who couldn’t determine why he was in Japan, and was taken to the airport immigration office for further questioning, said immigration official Yuichi Suzuki.

Immigration officials said his passport appeared valid and no suspicious substances were found in his luggage. At around 9:30 p.m., after nearly three hours of questioning, the man no longer appeared to need a wheelchair.

At about 10:30 p.m., Suzuki said, the man suddenly tried to flee the immigration office and was subdued by police and immigration officials.

He stopped moving and collapsed and an ambulance was called, but he died about an hour after arriving at a hospital in the city of Izumisano, about 15 minutes from the airport.
ENDS

Yomiuri: New “lay judges” in J judiciary strict about demanding evidence from prosecutors, give ‘benefit of doubt’. Well, fancy that.

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Hi Blog.  Here’s an article (I can’t find in Japanese) regarding what’s happening in Japan’s “Lay Judge” system (i.e. generally bringing six common folk to sit on Japanese juries as “saiban’in”, with three other real judges offering “legal guidance”, as in, keeping an eye on them).  Well, guess what, we have “Runaway Juries”, by Japanese standards!  They’re getting in the way of the public prosecutor (who gets his or her way in convicting more than 99.9% of cases brought to Japanese criminal court) and offering acquittals!  Well, how outrageous!  Given what I know about the Japanese police and how they arrest and detain suspects (particularly if they are existing while foreign), I doubt they are right 99.9% of the time.  And it looks like some of the saiban’in would agree.  But here’s a lament by the Yomiuri about how those darn lay judges (how belittling; why aren’t they just “jurists”?) are getting in the way.  Good.  Raise the standard for burden of proof.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Lay judges strict about ‘benefit of doubt’
Mariko Sakai, Takashi Maemura and Mayumi Oshige / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers
Yomiuri Jul. 21, 2010, Courtesy of TTB

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20100721TDY03T04.htm

Three complete or partial acquittals were handed down in lay-judge trials in June and July, in which the principle of giving the benefit of the doubt to defendants in criminal trials was strictly applied. As a result, some prosecutors believe it is becoming harder and harder to persuade lay judges that defendants are guilty.

There have been about 620 rulings rendered in trials involving lay judges since the launch of the system in May last year. Most were guilty rulings, as the facts of the cases were not in dispute. However, June and July saw sentences of not guilty in trials at the Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court, Chiba District Court and Tokyo District Court.

Prosecutors have already appealed the sentence in the Chiba District Court case, in which the defendant was indicted on suspicion of smuggling stimulant drugs in three chocolate cans from Malaysia to Narita Airport in Chiba Prefecture.

This is the first appeal to be filed involving a lay judge trial.

In a case of arson, trespassing and theft tried at the Tokyo District Court, the prosecution has decided to appeal the ruling to a high court. The defendant was sentenced to 18 months in prison for trespassing and theft but acquitted of arson.

In both of these cases, prosecutors did not have confessions from the defendants or strong material evidence, and thus tried to prove the defendants’ guilt with circumstantial evidence.

===

Perception gap

According to lawyer Koshi Murakami, a former division chief of the Tokyo High Court, the sentences of not guilty were handed down in these cases due to professional judges and lay judges’ different understanding of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard for deciding whether a defendant is guilty.

“Even if they doubt a piece of circumstantial evidence, professional judges decide whether a defendant is guilty after a comprehensive review of other pieces of evidence,” Murakami said. “However, lay judges may consider a not guilty decision if they are suspicious of even one piece of evidence.”

The ruling in the Tokyo District Court case says there is a strong possibility the defendant committed the arson. However, a great deal of weight was given to the fact that there was a window of about five hours and 20 minutes in which the fire could have been set to the victim’s residence, and therefore it cannot be denied that a third person could have committed that crime.

In the smuggling case at the Chiba District Court, the ruling says, “The court acknowledges as a fact that the defendant thought the cans he received in Malaysia might have contained drugs.”

However, it also says, “It is going too far to say that he must have known the actual content of the cans,” focusing on the fact that the defendant agreed to a customs official’s demand for an X-ray inspection of the cans, among other things.

Given this tendency, a senior prosecution official said, “Prosecutors need to not only explain each piece of evidence at trials, but also persuade lay judges to decide guilty or not guilty based on the whole picture of material and circumstantial evidence.”

===

Selection of evidence

These three not-guilty rulings have senior prosecutors increasingly worried that the bar for achieving convictions in lay judge trials has been raised, according to a senior prosecution official.

The Supreme Public Prosecutors Office has begun studying what points lay judges consider important, and certain issues have already come to light.

In the Tachikawa case, which involved fraud and robbery resulting in injuries, the defendant was indicted on suspicion of robbing three women with a friend on separate occasions, injuring one woman seriously and buying a bracelet with a credit card they stole. He was convicted of the robberies, but acquitted of the fraud.

During the trial, the prosecution did not submit as evidence a security video that recorded conversations between a shop clerk and the defendant and his accomplice.

The prosecution decided it was unnecessary to submit the videotape and did not preserve it because of the consistent statements given by the defendant, the accomplice and the clerk in the course of the investigation.

However, one of the trial’s lay judges criticized the prosecution for its choice.

“I felt the prosecution was overly optimistic not submitting the security video record, which is very objective evidence,” said company employee Nanako Sugawara, 62.

“From now on, objective pieces of evidence such as video tapes must be preserved until all hearings related to a case are finished,” a senior official at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office said, reflecting on the trial. “We have to improve our investigation methods so that we can prove our allegations regardless of who is chosen as lay judges.”

A man who was a lay judge at the Chiba District Court case had some advice for the prosecution.

“I felt the reward of 300,000 yen [the defendant was promised for transporting the drugs] was rather small. Prosecutors should have explained more about the standard rewards for drug mules,” he said.

A veteran judge said: “Prosecutors are choosing evidence based on standards like those they used for trials handled only by professional judges. They should reexamine their methods so they don’t overlook evidence that would particularly appeal to lay judges.”
ENDS

More racism in NPA police posters, this time Kanagawa Ken Yamate police and big-nosed “int’l NJ crime groups”. (UPDATE: Contrast with same Kanagawa Police site in English: “we patrol community hoping smiles of residents never vanish.” Retch.)

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. For a nice bite-size Sunday post, dovetailing with yesterday’s post on the NPA’s whipping up fear of foreign crime gangs, here we have the Kanagawa Police offering us a poster with racist caricatures of NJ, and more minced language to enlist the public in its Gaijin Hunt. Check this out:

(Click on image to expand in browser.)
From http://www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/ps/32ps/32pic/32004_47.pdf, courtesy lots of people.

Now let’s analyze this booger. In the same style of fearmongering and racist police posters in the past (see for example here, here, here, and here), we have the standard NJ conks and wily faces. Along with a crime gang stealing from a jewelry store (nothing like getting one’s hands dirty, unlike all the white-collar homegrown yakuza crime we see fewer posters about).

The poster opens with employers being told to check Status of Residences of all the NJ they employ. Of course, employers who employ NJ usually sponsor them for a visa, so this warning shouldn’t be necessary. I guess it’s nicer than warning the employer that if they do employ overstayers, the employer should also be punished. But again, we hear little about that. It’s the NJ who is the wily party, after all.

Then we get the odd warning about overstayers (they say these are lots of “rainichi gaikokujin”, which is not made clear except in fine print elsewhere that they don’t mean the garden-variety NJ) and their links to “international crime groups” (although I haven’t seen convincing statistics on how they are linked). Then they hedge their language by saying “omowaremasu” (it is thought that…), meaning they don’t need statistics at all. It’s obviously a common perception that it’s “recently getting worse” (kin’nen shinkoku ka).

Next paragraph offers the standard “threat to Japanese social order” (chi’an) presented by visa overstayers and illegal workers (even though overstayers have gone down steadily since 1993), and asks for the public’s assistance.

Then it brings in the heroic Kanagawa Police, and how they will be strengthening their controls over these big-hootered shifty-eyed NJ from now on, and asks for anyone with information about illegal NJ to drop by any cop shop or police box (even though police boxes I’ve reported unlawful activities to have told me to take my crimes elsewhere; I guess NJ criminality is a higher priority).

Finally, we have the places to contact within the Kanagawa Police Department. We now have a special “international crime” head (kokusai han kakari), a “economic security” head (keizai hoan kakari), and a “gaiji kakari“, whatever that is shortened for (surely not “gaikokujin hanzai jiken“, or “foreign crime incidents”). Such proactiveness on the part of the NPA. I hope they sponsor a “sumo-yakuza tobaku kakari” soon.

Anyone else getting the feeling that the NPA is a law unto itself, doing whatever it likes in the purported pursuit of criminals, even if that means racial profiling, social othering of taxpayers and random enforcement of laws based upon nationality (even a death in police custody with impunity), and manufacturing consent to link crime with nationality?

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UPDATE:  Compare and contrast with the English version of PR for the same police department, courtesy of crustpunker:

http://www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/eng/eng_idx.htm

Not only is it a disingenuous lie, its contents are utterly banal.  And since I can’t find the gaiji kakari under “Section Information” in English, so I doubt the overall accuracy as well.

This is linked from this even nastier Kanagawa Police site regarding NJ:

http://www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/mes/mese2001.htm

我が国に向けられる諸外国からの有害活動は、様々な形で活発に展開されています。平成17年と18年には、在日ロシア情報機関員が民間企業の技術者をターゲットとして先端科学技術を違法に入手していた事件を摘発しています。また、平成20年には、国際原子力機関(IAEA)が、北朝鮮の核処理施設における視察をした際、日本製の真空排気装置を発見したことを端緒に捜査を開始し、台湾経由による北朝鮮向け真空ポンプ等の不正輸出事件を摘発しました。

ここでは、これら対日有害活動の一部を紹介し、我が国の国益を害する不法行為に関する 情報提供をお願いしています。
rest at above website

ENDS

Kyodo: NJ crime down once again, but NPA spin says NJ crime gangs “increasingly” targeting Japan, whines about difficulty in statistically measuring NJ crime

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 the semiannual NPA NJ crime propaganda campaign, claiming once again some kind of “increase”.  Before, we had decreases in crime depicted as an increase, depending on what crime you looked at or what language the article was in.  Now it’s the NPA, in the face of a 40% admitted drop in “NJ criminals rounded up” since  2004, giving the spin of doubting its own statistics.  What’s next, saying NJ are more likely to commit crime because of their criminal DNA?  (Actually, Tokyo Gov Ishihara beat them to that nearly a decade ago; dead record due to Tony Laszlo’s Issho Kikaku, so Japanese here.)

Here’s the report being referred to in pdf format:

http://www.npa.go.jp/sosikihanzai/kokusaisousa/kokusai6/rainichi.pdf

Note how last month’s police raids of NJ junkyard businesses was done in time  for the survey.  Gotta say something, act as though they’re doing something, even if it doesn’t seem like they found much.

Also note how on the bottom of page two of the report, they give a definition that the “gaikokujin” they’re referring to are not those here with PR status, the Zainichi, the US military, or “those with unclear Statuses of Residence” (what, refugees?  certainly not visa overstayers).  Okay.  Pity the media doesn’t mention that.  Nor is it mentioned that although this report is supposed to deal with “international crime”, it is just titled “Rainichi Gaikokujin Hanzai no Kenkyo Joukyou” (lit. The Situation of Cases of Crimes by Foreigners Coming to Japan).  I guess just talking about garden-variety crime by NJ (back in the day when it was allegedly going up) isn’t convenient anymore.  You have to narrow the focus to find the crime and shoot the fish in the proverbial barrel — it gets the headlines that attribute crime to nationality, even somehow allows you to doubt your own statistics.  Moreover enables you to claim a budget to “establish a system in which investigators across the nation would be able to work in an integrated manner to counter crimes committed by foreigners” (as opposed to an integrated manner to counter crimes in general).

More on the issue at Debito.org here.  Let’s see what the NPA spin is next time.  Fascinatingly bad science.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

NPA says foreign crime groups increasingly targeting Japan
Kyodo News Friday 23rd July, 2010, Courtesy of JK and KG and many others

http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/npa-says-foreign-crime-groups-increasingly-targeting-japan

TOKYO — International criminal organizations are increasingly targeting Japan as members of such groups, the locations where they commit crimes and their victims have become more multinational, the National Police Agency said in its white paper released Friday.

While members of foreign crime groups have tended to stay in Japan for a short period of time to steal or engage in other criminal activities then flee overseas, such groups are now coordinating with crime syndicates in Japan and repeatedly committing crimes using existing ‘‘criminal infrastructure,’’ according to the annual paper.

In analyzing the globalization of crime, the document points to underground banks, groups specializing in arranging fake marriages and scrap yards in the suburbs as examples of such infrastructure.

Police inspected in June a total of more than 400 yards in Japan. One reason was to see whether they were being used as a base for global criminal activities. Some scrap yards were found to have been used to disassemble stolen cars and heavy machinery to export parts.

The number of foreigners rounded up last year on suspicion of being involved in criminal activities was about 13,200, down roughly 40% from 2004 when the number peaked.

‘‘The extent of how much crime has become globalized cannot be grasped through statistics,’’ the paper says, attributing part of the reason to difficulties in solving crimes committed by foreigners—which are more likely to be carried out by multiple culprits than those committed by Japanese.

To counter the trend, the agency set up in February an office specializing in collecting and analyzing intelligence on crimes committed by foreigners.

It aims to establish a system in which investigators across the nation would be able to work in an integrated manner to counter crimes committed by foreigners.

ENDS

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

UPDATE

Foreign criminals building up Japanese operations, threatening public order: NPA
(Mainichi Japan) July 23, 2010 Courtesy of MS
Globe-spanning foreign criminal organizations have secretly been building up their operations in Japan in recent years, according to a National Police Agency (NPA) white paper for fiscal 2010 submitted to the Cabinet on July 23.

According to a special “globalized crime” section of the report, the types of crimes perpetrated by foreigners in Japan are changing at the same time as criminal activity involving the movement of people money and the flow of information over borders is building — presenting what the agency emphasizes is “a threat to public order.”

The globalization of crime “could very well cause a tectonic shift in the public order of our nation,” the report declares. “From this point on, law enforcers are required to respond to the situation in an appropriate manner.”

Previously, crimes perpetrated by foreigners tended to be of the “hit and run” variety, committed during short-term stays in Japan and followed with the criminal fleeing the country. However, in recent years, cases of global foreign criminal organizations targeting Japan, and the formation of criminal groups in Japan made up of foreigners from many countries, have been conspicuous — a trend dubbed “the globalization of crime.”

As an example, the report cites a 2007 tear gas spray attack on a jewelry store clerk and theft of a 280 million yen tiara from the shop in Tokyo’s Ginza area by a Montenegrin group called the “Pink Panther” gang. It also details a 2006-2009 scam by a primarily Nigerian group that used fake credit cards to buy electronics from volume dealers, which they then sold to used electronics shops. Another example is a Pakistani, Cameroonian, Sri Lankan and Japanese group which stole heavy construction equipment in some 500 cases from 2002 to 2008, dismantled them and exported the parts.

There are also cases of foreigners involved in drug dealing, smuggling counterfeit goods, Internet-based computer hacking and money laundering, and some of them in connection with Japan’s own yakuza criminal organizations.

This year, the NPA is formulating a strategy to counter the globalized crime trend, and has set up a special “globalized crime countermeasures” unit. The agency is also strengthening cooperation and information exchanges with foreign public security agencies via diplomatic channels and Interpol. It is also building on extradition treaties for the smooth extradition of criminals.
ENDS

警察白書:「グローバル化」脅威に 外国人犯罪に焦点

毎日新聞 2010年7月23日

http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20100723k0000e040042000c.html

警察庁は23日、10年版警察白書を閣議に報告した。特集「犯罪のグローバル化と警察の取り組み」を組み、世界的規模の犯罪組織が近年、日本で暗躍する実態を解説した。国境を超えた人、カネ、情報の行き来が活発になるなか、外国人犯罪に質的な変化が起きていると指摘。「治安への脅威になっている」と強調している。【鮎川耕史】

従来の外国人犯罪は、短期滞在の在留資格で来日し、犯行後すぐに海外に逃走する「ヒット・アンド・アウエー」型が典型だった。

最近は、世界規模で活動する組織が日本を標的にするケースや、多国籍のメンバーで組織を構成しているケースが目立ち、「犯罪のグローバル化」と呼ばれている。

象徴的な事件として白書は、モンテネグロ人らの組織「ピンクパンサー」が東京・銀座の貴金属店で店員に催涙スプレーを吹きかけ、2億8000万円相当のティアラ(王冠形の髪飾り)を奪った事件(07年)▽ナイジェリア人を中心とするグループが、偽造クレジットカードで家電量販店からだまし取った電化製品を古物商で換金していた事件(06~09年)▽パキスタン人、カメルーン人、スリランカ人、日本人で構成するグループが、自動車や建設用重機を狙って約500件の窃盗を繰り返し、「ヤード」と呼ばれる作業場で解体したうえ、海外へ輸出していた事件(02~08年)--などを挙げている。

覚せい剤の密売、偽ブランド品の密輸、インターネット上の不正アクセス、マネーロンダリングでもグローバル化は進み、日本の暴力団とのつながりが判明した事件もある。

警察庁は今年、犯罪のグローバル化に対する戦略プランを策定し、情報の収集・分析を担当する「犯罪のグローバル化対策室」を発足させた。国際刑事警察機構(ICPO)や外交ルートを通じた外国治安当局との情報交換や捜査協力も強化。国外に逃亡した容疑者の特定や所在の確認、犯罪人引き渡し条約に基づく引き渡しなどでも連携を深めている。

白書は「(犯罪のグローバル化は)わが国の治安に地殻変動を引き起こす要因となりかねない。今後、組織をあげて的確に取り組むことが求められる」としている。

ENDS

Toyota QC and “culture” again, says it will increase safety by dealing with mechanical and cultural defects, with Japanese-only review panel

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 an update to the whole Toyota and safety issues (with people blaming them on cultural differences), now we have news that Toyota is actually going to “review defect measures” and “beef up quality controls” using “outsiders” for “independent scrutiny”.

I myself am not all that optimistic.  Toyota is, as the article says below, essentially “keeping it in the family”.  After previously penalizing an American QC expert for his scrutiny, they’ve anointed a blue-ribbon panel of experts who are Japanese only. Yeah, that’ll learn ’em about “cultural differences”, all right. Especially since the article below once again quotes Toyota as still trying to “bridge a cultural gap”.  As if culture is any factor here in making unsafe cars safe.  Enforced cluelessness.

Meanwhile, a US federal grand jury is subpoenaing Toyota to make sure the documentation doesn’t also continue to “stay in the family”. That article and video below too. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Toyota to study quality panel’s recommendations
By YURI KAGEYAMA (AP) – July 13, 2010 Courtesy of MD

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jTG7SuUsayqE6bO9GPluAfU5blewD9GTVER00

TOKYO — Toyota will start studying an assessment of the company’s quality control conducted by four outside experts to help beef up quality controls at the recall-battered automaker under a program that began in March to review defect measures.

Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday it was tackling a number of improvements, including analyzing each accident and consumer complaint more thoroughly and boosting communication with journalists and other outsiders to be better at ensuring quality.

Toyota, the world’s top automaker, has seen its once sterling image for quality plunge since October after recalling more than 8.5 million vehicles around the world with defective gas pedals, faulty floor mats, software glitches and other problems.

Despite vowing to improve quality, the automaker has in some cases discouraged independent scrutiny. Electronic messages obtained by The Associated Press in the U.S. show Toyota was frustrated with Southern Illinois University Professor David Gilbert, whose research indicated that electronics might be to blame for unintended acceleration problems in Toyota cars.

The messages show Toyota not only tried to cast doubt on his findings but also made clear it was displeased. One Toyota employee questioned whether he should be employed by the university, which has long been a recipient of company donations.

In steps disclosed Monday as under way, Toyota said it is boosting collaboration between Toyota’s quality-related divisions and its legal division, beefing up training among employees to get a better grasp of customers’ views on vehicle troubles, and trying to obtain more input from third-party experts.

Toyota has added four academic and consumer experts, who were recommended by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers, which is not directly affiliated with Toyota. They are Hiroshi Osada, professor of management at the Tokyo Institute of Technology; Noriaki Kano, honorary professor at Tokyo University of Science; Yasuo Kusakabe, chairman of the Automobile Journalist Association of Japan and Yoshiko Miura, general manager at the Japan Consumer’s Association.

“Especially pressing is the need for establishing guidelines to steer crisis-management activity by the president and other members of senior management,” the panel said in a summary of their report. “Also pressing is the need for bridging the culture gap between Japan and other nations in public relations activities.”
ENDS

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

SEC and Federal Grand Jury Are Investigating Toyota
Toyota Subpoenaed Over Sudden Acceleration Cases
By MATTHEW JAFFE and MARK SCHONE
ABC NEWS Feb. 22, 2010

A federal grand jury in New York and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into sudden acceleration in Toyotas.

VIDEO:  Koua Fong Lee, in prison for vehicular homicide, says Camry’s brakes didn’t work
Article and video at http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/toyota-subpoena-sec-federal-grand-jury-toyota-acceleration-investigation/story?id=9910971

The grand jury in the Southern District of New York issued a subpoena on February 8 asking Toyota and its subsidiaries to “produce certain documents related to unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles and the braking system of the Prius.”

According to documents filed with the SEC, Toyota also received a voluntary request and a subpoena from the Los Angeles office of the SEC on February 19 asking for production of “certain documents including those related to unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles and the company’s disclosure policies and practices.”
ENDS

UPDATE: Additional thoughts on the DPRK Spy Kim Hyon Hui Japan Visit: The Big Con

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Hi Blog. As an addendum to this morning’s blog on the Kim Hyon Hui Japan Visit, more food for thought from a friend. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

THE BIG CON

TOKYO –Japan’s government took its “Yokoso Japan!” campaign to a new level Tuesday, throwing out the welcome mat for a foreigner who murdered 115 people, providing her with an entrance visa no questions asked, whisking her through customs, and offering her a ride to a former Prime Minister’s summer home.

Kim Hyon Hui, a wannabe actress-turned-terrorist who blew up a 747 filled with 115 people back in 1987 when she was a North Korean agent and who got the death penalty, only to see it revoked for reasons that are still unclear, arrived at Haneda airport Wednesday by special charter plane from her home in South Korea. Ms. Kim saw Japan’s fine hospitality at its best, and was even given her own motorcade to former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s summer home in Karuizawa. No delays at train stations or red lights for our Ms. Kim!

Ms. Kim had agreed to her Japanese vacation to discuss what she says she knows about Megumi Yokota, who was kidnapped to North Korea in 1977, and Yaeko Taguchi, another abductee who trained Ms. Kim in Japanese. Showing that Japan’s love for Korean actors continues, the stylish Kim is quite a celebrity among the families of the abductees and their political and bureaucratic supporters. Gushing like a schoolboy, Mr. Yokota admitted to reporters Wednesday that Ms. Kim was quite a looker, while Mrs. Yokota noted men always like a pretty face. Good looks, svelte figure, fashionable suit, an air of mystery and sophistication. . .who cares if she’s a cold-blooded killer (the bereaved relatives of those she killed?-Ed.)

For her part, Ms. Kim was nothing but diplomatic during her visit. Demonstrating the kind of social grace her hosts no doubt appreciated, one of her demands before coming to Japan was a room with a kitchen so should could make some Japanese meals for her Japanese friends—the same kind of meals Yaeko Taguchi taught her to make (presumably at gunpoint–Ed.). But a thorough search of all homes, restaurants, and hotels between Narita and Karuizawa failed to turn up a kitchen capable of whipping up a proper meal for Ms. Kim. So Hatoyama stepped in and graciously offered to have her over to his place for dinner.

While relaxing in luxury and surrounded by a phalanx of police security to guard against terrorist threats (such as panels advocating cuts in the police budget–Ed ), the woman who murdered 115 people to please her “Great Leader”’ was feted by not only the families of the abudctees but also Japanese government officials anxious to learn from Ms. Kim about the fate of a few Japanese like Megumi Yokota who were abducted to North Korea. Obviously, former spy Kim’s motives for her first-class trip to Japan cannot be questioned, as her memory of alleged sightings of Megumi Yokota nearly a quarter century ago are, of course, ironclad, crystal clear, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Yes, Ms. Kim did suffer a memory loss when she originally told Japanese officials she’d never met Megumi Yokota. But that was then and this is now. The Japanese government is quite happy to learn she has regained her memory, calling it a miracle and dismissing cynics who wonder whether Kim’s memory loss was restored with the aid of both hypnosis and secret bank accounts in Switzerland, Macau, or the Cayman Islands.

So busy were Japanese officials with their one-woman “Yokoso Japan!” on behalf of Ms. Kim and her testimony about children abducted from Japan by foreigners in violation of domestic and international law that readers will surely sympathize with our nation’s overworked and understaffed bureaucracy when they insist they have no time to meet with Americans, Canadians, British, Germans, French, Indians, or anyone else who would like–just a few minutes, if you please — to discuss the issue of children abducted to Japan by Japanese in violation of domestic and international law.

It makes perfect sense, of course. Not even the Prime Minister’s summer home could accommodate the number of people who would have to be invited to that backyard BBQ, so why risk damaging Japan’s reputation internationally by running short on yakuniku, ice, and Pokki sticks? We certainly don’t want that.

Tomorrow, Ms. Kim will conclude her excellent adventure with a helicopter tour of Mt. Fuji. Once she offers her final bows to her Japanese hosts in the departure lounge of Haneda airport, the rest of the world will be left wondering if the would-be thespian-turned-spy-turned-mass-murderer-turned-grand-tourist has just concluded a performance worthy of an Oscar. For Ms. Kim may be grounded in Stalinist-Marxist dogma and the philosophy of juche. But look over your shoulder. That’s the ghost of P.T. Barnum, winking at Ms. Kim in admiration and approval for her thorough understanding of his business philosophy.
ENDS

North Korean spy and terrorist skirts Immigration, gets to stay in Hatoyama summer home, due to Yokota Megumi Case

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 friend most poignantly pointed out to me yesterday evening, something’s very wrong with Japan’s current top news story:

“Have you been following the reaction to the treatment given that ex-North Korean spy who blew up a plane and murdered 115 people, yet came to Japan as a VIP and is now staying at Hatoyama’s Karuizawa retreat? David McNeil and Justin McCurry did pieces with a hint of outrage, especially David, who noted that, if Japanese authorities had bothered to follow the immigration law, she would have been arrested. To be fair, some Japanese journalists noted last night (on TBS, I think) that something isn’t quite right.

“You may be interested to know that the group “Bring Abducted Children Home” is pretty upset as well, noting that the Japanese government rolls out the red carpet for a mass murderer just because she might have some information on Japanese children who were kidnapped out of Japan but doesn’t want to deal with anybody seeking a meeting about Japanese children kidnapped back to Japan by a Japanese parent.”

Quite.  As far as I recall, not a peep about the terrorism on NHK 7PM last night.  Only the meeting with the Yokotas and all the smiles.  Elite politics indeed trumps all.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Former North Korean spy who bombed jet welcomed by Japan
By David McNeill in Tokyo
The Independent, Wednesday, 21 July 2010

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/former-north-korean-spy-who-bombed-jet-welcomed-by-japan-2031254.html

It has all the ingredients of the most far-fetched spy story: a beautiful North Korean woman destined to become an actress opts instead for a career in espionage. Brainwashed to despise the North’s southern neighbour, she bombs a Korean Air jet in 1987 reportedly on the direct orders of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, killing 115 people. When captured, she attempts to kill herself by biting into a cyanide pill but is stopped by a guard. Her accomplice dies from the same method.

Yesterday, this exotic product of the Cold War touched down in Tokyo under heavy police guard. Kept isolated from media scrutiny by government handlers, Kim Hyon-hui will spend the next few days briefing them on her extraordinary career and facing the families of Japanese people who were abducted by Pyongyang in a bizarre military programme to train spies. Among them is the son of Yaeko Taguchi, her Japanese teacher who was whisked away by North Korean spies in 1978 and never returned home.

Ms Kim’s story, her direct connection to the Japanese abductees and her unlikely redemption, enthrals Japan. Such is the interest in her here that the authorities have waived rules that should have prevented her from setting down in the country at all. She will spend much of her time here staying in the holiday home of the former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama.

ENDS

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Ex-North Korea spy to help solve Japan’s abduction mystery
Kim Hyon-hui may have information on Japanese nationals kidnapped by North Korean spies during the cold war
guardian.co.uk Tuesday 20 July 2010 16.26 BST
By Justin McCurry

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/20/north-korea-spy-japan-abductions

A former North Korean spy who carried out one of the deadliest plane bombings of the cold war has arrived in Tokyo to help solve the mystery surrounding Japanese nationals abducted by Pyongyang.

Kim Hyon-hui was sentenced to death after being convicted of bombing a South Korean airliner in 1987, killing all 115 people on board, but was later pardoned and went on to write a bestselling autobiography about her life as a secret agent.

She flew in to Tokyo after the Japanese authorities waived strict immigration controls to allow her to meet the relatives of two Japanese citizens snatched by North Korean agents in the late 1970s.

Hyon-hui says she was tutored by a woman who is among several Japanese abducted by North Korean spies at the height of the cold war. She may also have information about Megumi Yokota, who was taken from near her home, aged 13, in the late 1970s.

Kim’s visit comes at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula, coinciding with reports that a North Korean cabinet official who led talks with the South, has been executed, and as Seoul and Washington announced a joint naval exercise designed to remind Pyongyang of the formidable military forces it would confront should a conflict break out.

Kwon Ho-ung, who headed the North’s negotiating team from 2004-07, was executed by firing squad, according to the Dong-a Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper. His death appears to be part of a purge of “impure” officials connected with policy failures. In March, the regime executed two officials responsible for a botched currency revaluation.

Next week’s naval exercise will send a “clear message” to the North following the sinking in March of a South Korean naval vessel, the US defence secretary, Robert Gates, told reporters in Seoul .

“These defensive, combined exercises are designed to send a clear message to North Korea that its aggressive behaviour must stop, and that we are committed to together enhancing our combined defensive capabilities,” he said.

Gates and the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, will tomorrow visit the demilitarised zone, the heavily fortified border separating the two Koreas, in a show of support for Washington’s ally.

Hyon-hui, who arrived in Japan before dawn under tight security, was due to meet the parents of Yokota, who was snatched as she walked home from badminton practice near her home on the Japan Sea coast in 1977. Her parents refuse to believe North Korean claims that she suffered from a mental illness and committed suicide in 1994.

Kim was also due to meet the relatives of Yaeko Taguchi, who was abducted in 1978, aged 22. Hyon-hui claims that Taguchi subsequently became her live-in Japanese teacher for more than a year-and-a-half in the early 1980s.

Critics denounced this week’s visit as a stunt designed to deflect attention from Japan’s failure to establish the fates of Yokota and other abductees. Hyon-hui has already spoken to some of the victims’ families and is not expected to offer any new information.

During a 2002 summit with Japan’s then prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, admitted that the regime had abducted 13 people and used them to teach spies how to pass themselves off as Japanese. It allowed five of them to return home later that year, but insisted the remaining eight had died.

Hyon-hui quickly gained notoriety for the attack on the Korean Air jet, which came as Seoul was preparing to host the 1988 summer Olympics. She and Kim Seung-il, a male spy, posed as a Japanese father and daughter and boarded KAL flight 858 from Baghdad to Seoul, planting a time bomb in a luggage rack before getting off at Abu Dhabi. The plane later exploded over the Andaman Sea near Burma.

They were arrested two days later in Bahrain, where they tried to kill themselves by swallowing cyanide capsules hidden in cigarettes. Kim Seung-il died, but Kim’s cigarette was snatched from her before she could ingest a lethal dose.

Kim was extradited to Seoul, where she was sentenced to death in March 1989. She was pardoned the following year after the then South Korean president, Roh Tae-woo, accepted she had been brainwashed into carrying out the bombing on the orders of communist North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-sung.

Kim, 48, married one of the South Korean intelligence officers who investigated her and donated the proceeds from her autobiography to the families of the bombing’s victims.

Last year, she told Taguchi’s relatives in a meeting in South Korea that the abducted woman may still be alive, contradicting Pyongyang’s claim that she died in a traffic accident in 1986.

The former spy, who is due to return to South Korea on Friday, is reportedly staying at the mountain retreat of the former prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, who resigned last month.
ENDS

NYT has video and article on JITCO NJ “Trainee” Program, including sweatshop conditions and karoushi

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Hi Blog. Following The Economist London, The Old Grey Lady (the overseas paper the GOJ cares most about) has finally gotten around to reporting in depth on the abuses in the JITCO NJ “Trainee” program, including the exploitative work conditions and even death. Good. The NYT article also reports that pay and treatment reforms have taken place since July 1, but cast doubt on their effectiveness. Anyway, good to have this out on video and in text. This is probably why the GOJ is so loath to acknowledge any of the 127 “Trainee” deaths mentioned below as from overwork — it makes headlines overseas.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo.

Training Programs or Sweatshops?
From across Asia, about 190,000 migrant trainees toil in Japanese factories and farms. Allegations of labor abuses against these workers are widespread.
New York Times July 20, 2010, Courtesy of Bendrix

http://video.nytimes.com/video/2010/07/20/business/global/1247468469055/training-programs-or-sweatshops.html

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

Japan Training Program Is Said to Exploit Workers
By HIROKO TABUCHI
NYT July 21, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/21/business/global/21apprentice.html?_r=1

HIROSHIMA, Japan — Six young Chinese women arrived in this historic city three summers ago, among the tens of thousands of apprentices brought to Japan each year on the promise of job training, good pay and a chance at a better life back home.

Instead, the women say, they were subjected to 16-hour workdays assembling cellphones at below the minimum wage, with little training of any sort, all under the auspices of a government-approved “foreign trainee” program that critics call industrial Japan’s dirty secret.

“My head hurt, my throat stung,” said Zhang Yuwei, 23, who operated a machine that printed cellphone keypads, battling fumes that she said made the air so noxious that managers would tell Japanese employees to avoid her work area.

Ms. Zhang says she was let go last month after her employer found that she and five compatriots had complained to a social worker about their work conditions. A Japanese lawyer is now helping the group sue their former employer, seeking back pay and damages totaling $207,000.

Critics say foreign trainees have become an exploited source of cheap labor in a country with one of the world’s most rapidly aging populations and lowest birthrates. All but closed to immigration, Japan faces an acute labor shortage, especially for jobs at the country’s hardscrabble farms or small family-run factories.

“The mistreatment of trainees appears to be widespread,” said Shoichi Ibusuki, a human rights lawyer based in Tokyo.

From across Asia, about 190,000 trainees — migrant workers in their late teens to early 30s — now toil in factories and farms in Japan. They have been brought to the country, in theory, to learn technical expertise under an international aid program started by the Japanese government in the 1990s.

For businesses, the government-sponsored trainee program has offered a loophole to hiring foreign workers. But with little legal protection, the indentured work force is exposed to substandard, sometimes even deadly, working conditions, critics say.

Government records show that at least 127 of the trainees have died since 2005 — or one of about every 2,600 trainees, which experts say is a high death rate for young people who must pass stringent physicals to enter the program. Many deaths involved strokes or heart failure that worker rights groups attribute to the strain of excessive labor.

The Justice Ministry found more than 400 cases of mistreatment of trainees at companies across Japan in 2009, including failing to pay legal wages and exposing trainees to dangerous work conditions. This month, labor inspectors in central Japan ruled that a 31-year-old Chinese trainee, Jiang Xiaodong, had died from heart failure induced by overwork.

Under pressure by human rights groups and a string of court cases, the government has begun to address some of the program’s worst abuses. The United Nations has urged Japan to scrap it altogether.

After one year of training, during which the migrant workers receive subsistence pay below the minimum wage, trainees are allowed to work for two more years in their area of expertise at legal wage levels. But interviews with labor experts and a dozen trainees indicate that the foreign workers seldom achieve those pay rates.

On paper, the promised pay still sounds alluring to the migrant workers. Many are from rural China, where per-capita disposable income can be as low as $750 a year. To secure a spot in the program, would-be trainees pay many times that amount in fees and deposits to local brokers, sometimes putting up their homes as collateral — which can be confiscated if trainees quit early or cause trouble.

The Japan International Training Cooperation Organization, or Jitco, which operates the program, said it was aware some companies had abused the system and that it was taking steps to crack down on the worst cases. The organization plans to ensure that “trainees receive legal protection, and that cases of fraud are eliminated,” Jitco said in a written response to questions.

Ms. Zhang says she paid $8,860 to a broker in her native Hebei Province for a spot in the program. She was assigned to a workshop run by Modex-Alpha, which assembles cellphones sold by Sharp and other electronics makers. Ms. Zhang said her employer demanded her passport and housed her in a cramped apartment with no heat, alongside five other trainees.

In her first year, Ms. Zhang worked eight-hour days and received $660 a month after various deductions, according to her court filing — about $3.77 an hour, or less than half the minimum wage level in Hiroshima. Moreover, all but $170 a month was forcibly withheld by the company as savings, and paid out only after Ms. Zhang pushed the company for the full amount, she said.

In her second year, her monthly wage rose to about $1,510 — or $7.91 an hour, according to her filing. That was still lower than the $8.56 minimum wage for the electronics industry in Hiroshima. And her employers withheld all but $836 a month for her accommodations and other expenses, according to her filing.

And as her wages went up, so did her hours, she said, to as many as 16 a day, five to six days a week. Modex-Alpha declined to comment on Ms. Zhang’s account, citing her lawsuit against the company.

As part of the government’s effort to clean up the program, beginning July 1, minimum wage and other labor protections have for the first time been applied to first-year workers. The government has also banned the confiscating of trainees’ passports.

But experts say it will be hard to change the program’s culture.

Economic strains are also a factor. Although big companies like Toyota and Mazda have moved much of their manufacturing to China to take advantage of low wages there, smaller businesses have found that impossible — and yet are still pressured to drive down costs.

“If these businesses hired Japanese workers, they would have to pay,” said Kimihiro Komatsu, a labor consultant in Hiroshima. “But trainees work for a bare minimum,” he said. “Japan can’t afford to stop.”

For almost three years, Catherine Lopez, 28, a trainee from Cebu, the Philippines, has worked up to 14 hours a day, sometimes six days a week, welding parts at a supplier for the Japanese carmaker Mazda. She receives as little as $1,574 a month, or $7.91 an hour — below the $8.83 minimum wage for auto workers in Hiroshima.

Ms. Lopez says Japanese managers at the supplier, Kajiyama Tekko, routinely hurl verbal abuses at her cohort of six trainees, telling them to follow orders or “swim back to the Philippines.”

“We came to Japan because we want to learn advanced technology,” Ms. Lopez said.

Yukari Takise, a manager at Kajiyama Tekko, denied the claims. “If they don’t like it here,” she said, “they can go home.”

But after inquiries by a reporter for The New York Times, a company that organizes the trainee program in Hiroshima, Ateta Japan, said it had advised Kajiyama Tekko to recalculate the wages it pays foreign trainees and ordered it to grant the vacation days owed to the trainees.

“They may have pushed the trainees too hard,” said Hideki Matsunishi, Ateta’s president. “But you must also feel sympathy for the companies, who are all struggling in this economy.”
——————

Jiang Yiyi and Yasuko Kamiizumi contributed reporting from Tokyo, and Tyler Sipe from Hiroshima.
ENDS

NEWS FLASH: Japan Times Eric Johnston doing article on JET, wants to talk to former students taught by JETs ASAP

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Hi Blog. Forwarding. Arudou Debito

Tue, July 20, 2010, 4:50PM
To: Debito.org
From: “Eric Johnston”
Dear All,

I’d like to ask a favor. If any of you know of Japanese students, or former students, who recently (within the past five years) were taught by JET teachers and would like to share their experience and opinions on the experience for an article I’m doing, please have them contact me, in English or Japanese, at eric.johnston@japantimes.co.jp. I would prefer to use their names and the general area they live in, but I won’t mention their school name or the name of their teacher.

Many apologies for the last minute request, but I’d need to talk or e-mail them by noon on Thursday (July 22nd).

Regards,
Eric Johnston, Reporter
The Japan Times

ENDS

JIPI’s Sakanaka on Gaijin Tank detentions for visa overstays: Put a maximum time limit on them

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Hi Blog.  Here we have JIPI’s Sakanaka-san in the Japan Times speaking out from a position of authority again in favor of NJ, this time regarding Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers (aka Gaijin Tanks for visa overstayers) and their conditions.  As has been discussed here before, Gaijin Tanks are not prisons; they do not fall under the penal code for incarceration conditions, there is no arraignment before a judge or court sentence to fulfill, and there is no time limit to how long you can be incarcerated for visa violations in Japan.  This has deleterious effects on the physical and mental health of detainees, of course.  So Mr S. is quite magnanimously (given Japan’s racially-profiling law enforcement) offering a compromise limit of one year behind bars.  Think there will be any takers?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

The Japan Times, Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Ex-immigration boss: detentions too long (except)
By MINORU MATSUTANI, Courtesy lots of people.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100714f1.html

Illegal residents should not be held in detention for more than one year because any longer causes too much stress, a former chief of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau said, noting extended incarceration led to two hunger strikes at detention centers this year, one of which followed suicides.

“One year of confinement is mentally tough,” Hidenori Sakanaka, now director general of the independent think tank Japan Immigration Policy Institute, said in a recent interview with The Japan Times. “If that becomes a rule, bureau officials will try really hard to investigate thoroughly whether detainees warrant deportation or temporary release. They will work efficiently.”

He said he was unsure if applying a one-year rule would lead to an increase in detainees being granted temporary release or would trigger a rise in deportations, but added, “the Immigration Bureau must stop suicides and hunger strikes.”

There is no limit on how long the government can hold foreign residents deemed to be in Japan illegally. The Immigration Bureau’s Enforcement Division said 71 inmates out of 442 being held in three detention centers in Ibaraki, Osaka and Nagasaki prefectures had been confined for more than a year as of May 31.

Dozens of detainees went on hunger strikes lasting more than a week at the East Japan Immigration Control Center in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, in May and at the West Japan Immigration Control Center in Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, in March. They were demanding better treatment, including limiting their incarceration to six months…

The hunger strikes failed to win any concessions...

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100714f1.html

Holiday Tangent: My Schofill family roots include Cherokee and lots of American South skeletons

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Hi Blog.  As today is a holiday, here’s a Holiday Tangent of a completely personal nature:

About six weeks ago I received out of the blue two fat books from a distant relative.  Information on the Schofill Clan, hand-collated from family history and lore.

I have gone through four name changes in my life:  I was born 1965 as David Christopher Schofill, was adopted after divorce by my stepfather around 1971 to become David Christopher Aldwinckle, became Sugawara Arudoudebito (due to koseki woes) when I naturalized into Japan 2000, and then had the Sugawara legally removed from my koseki in 2006 by Japanese court weeks after my divorce to become Arudou Debito.  Hiya.

But I have been so far removed from family, any family, my entire life (birth father, step father, and mother all moved far away from their birth roots, and my mother severed almost all contact with the Schofill Clan after the divorce; I’ve furthermore been excommunicated by my parents since my naturalization) that receiving these fat books of family lore was a very pleasant surprise and unprecedented experience for me.

So here’s what I’ve gleaned:  I have a picture of Philip Schofill, my great great great great grandfather, born March 31, 1803 in Lexington, South Carolina.

This is of course a photo of him (undated) at an advanced age, when photography was possible.  He died March 3, 1891 at the age of 88 (quite an accomplishment for that era).  It seems male longevity runs in the family (happy to see), but so does, from what I’ve also heard, alcoholism, violence, and ill-temper (the last one I can understand:  I’ve felt the spiral of rage plenty of times; why do you think I write so much?)  If bad habits don’t get you first (my major vice is high-fat foods), looks like I come from good stock for a long life.  But Philip above, from his visible demeanor and also family lore, was a nasty-sounding cuss.  The family, from the American South (and England before that), has plenty of Southern predispositions, including slaves (Philip was apparently “mean” towards them, to put it mildly), deaths in the Civil War, and possible KKK connections.  Not something I’m particularly proud to be related to.  But it’s history, and should be acknowledged.  Philip also has a history of remarriage, getting his second wife at age 83!  I’m not sure I’ll wait that long.

The oddly-spelled name of Schofill (often confused with Schofield), according the materials I received, “was found to be spelled Schofield, Schofill, Scofil, Scoldfield, Scovel, Scovill, Coffell, and others.  The different spellings were noted on wills, land records, census reports, etc.  Since many people could not read or write, whoever was doing the writing spelled names as they were sounded.”  Hence I’ve gone through life with a name that nobody will ever quite get without a spelling, be it Schofill, Aldwinckle, Arudoudebito, or Arudou.  It also makes me very sensitive towards spelling and pronouncing other people’s names correctly (my favorite so far is Dimagmaliw, a Filipine name).

What’s also an interesting find is that Philip Schofill’s father was, according to family legend, a Cherokee Indian by the name of Red Feather, before marrying a settler and taking the name Reese Busbee.  Here’s a photo (undated):

So that means that I’m 1/128th Cherokee, which translates to about a pound and a half of my flesh; better not diet).  Might matter in Canada.

Every family has some interesting stuff within, good and bad.  It’s history.  And I want to thank the senders of those lovingly hand-crafted family history books for clueing me in after close to a half-century of my lifespan.  Tangent ends.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Sunday Tangent: Japan Times columnist CW Nicol (a whaling supporter) on why “The Cove’s” Taiji dolphin culls bother him

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Hi Blog.   As another angle to the subject of the documentary The Cove, here we have Japan Times naturalist columnist (and fellow naturalized citizen) C.W. Nicol offering his view on what’s going on in Taiji. What’s interesting is his take on the matter of animal cruelty. Although he supports whaling as an issue and has no truck with tradition involving hunting of wild animals, what gets him is what the hunt does to the people in the neighborhood. I’m reminded of what goes on at Pitcairn Island (you get a society removed enough long enough from the authorities, they’ll invent their own rules, even if at variance with permissible conduct in society at large, and claim it as tradition). It was another reason for me personally to feel the conduct at Taiji is reprehensible.

The problem is that although Taiji is a small community, once it’s claimed to be “Japanese tradition”, you get one of the world’s most powerful economies behind it.  Then all manner of issues (Japan bashing, economics, a general dislike at the national level of having outsiders telling Japan what to do, fear of right-wing repercussions, and corruption of culturally-tolerant debate arenas overseas) adhere and make the debate murky. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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The Japan Times Sunday, July 4, 2010
OLD NIC’S NOTEBOOK
A meeting of minds (excerpt)
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fe20100704cw.html
Last month, dolphin-welfare campaigner Ric O’Barry visited me in the Nagano hills, where we discussed the Taiji dolphin cull and what’s happening to marine mammals worldwide
By C.W. NICOL

In 1958, just before my 18th birthday, I went along on an Inuit hunt for seals in the Canadian Arctic. That was the first time I tasted that rich, dark red — almost black — meat, and it was like nothing else I had eaten before. I loved it.

Inuit hunters still used kayaks back then (and so did I) and I felt nothing but admiration for those men who went out into icy waters in such a flimsy craft, risking their lives to bring back food, fuel and the raw material for boots and clothing. In the many trips I have made to the Arctic since then, that feeling has never changed.

Then, in 1966, I first sailed aboard a whale-catcher, with a mixed Canadian and Japanese crew, hunting for sei and sperm whales off the west coast of Canada. Whale meat was on sale in pretty well every fish shop in Tokyo in the early 1960s when I first came to this country, so I had already come to appreciate its taste. Since then I have been on many marine mammal hunts — for seals, beluga, walrus and whales — and I retain enormous respect for the courage, skill and seamanship of those who take food from the sea.

That, however, is a stance that has made me unpopular with many antiwhaling folk around the world.

Nonetheless, in October 1978 I went to Taiji in Wakayama Prefecture to live in the town for a year and research the history and culture of Japanese whaling for a book I aimed to write — a book that turned out to be my novel, “Harpoon.” The anti-whaling movement was beginning to display some nasty anti-Japanese tendencies just then, and I thought it might be mollified by some understanding, through my book, of the whalers’ long background…

What horrified me in Taiji was that the dolphins were not harpooned, and thus secured to be quickly dispatched. Instead, the hunters were simply throwing spears into a melee of the animals swimming in a small inlet they had sealed off from the sea, hitting them here and there. Then they’d retrieve the spear by hauling in a rope tied to it and hurl it again or use it close up to stab with. This was a far cry from the efficiency — and respect for life, and death — of an Inuit hunter or a whaler at sea.

That first time I witnessed the Taiji killings, I saw a dolphin take 25 minutes to die, while on another hunt I saw one that thrashed and bled for a horrible 45 minutes before it succumbed to its wounds. Killing, if justified and necessary, should surely be merciful and quick — yet I even saw an old grandmother laughing at a dolphin’s death throes and pointing out the animal to the small child with her as if it was some kind of joke. That really hurt and shook my belief in people.

In addition to this catalog of horrors, though, as a former marine mammal research technician in Canada, it shocked me that all those dolphins were being captured and killed with no government inspector or fisheries biologist on hand to take data and monitor the kill. I protested about what was going on to the fishermen, and to Town Hall officials in Taiji. I even went to Tokyo and protested to a senior official in the Fisheries Agency, but he just sneered and said, “What does it matter, they die anyway.”…

Rest of the article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fe20100704cw.html

Yet another story of child-custody misery thanks to Japan’s insane family laws and enforcement

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Hi Blog.  Forwarding the below from a friend.  This is just another case of many where we have people (regardless of nationality, but thanks to the Koseki System NJ are in a particularly weak situation, particularly regarding international child abduction) doing awful things to their children after divorce simply because they can, and the authorities will do little or nothing to stop it.  I have of course written on the subject of divorce and post-divorce before (here and here, for example), but let me say at this juncture that for me it has gotten much, much worse over the past few years.  (I still myself have seen my kids maybe six times over the past six years, but now there is a development that someday I’ll tell you about, when I have drawn some conclusions and have some lessons from it.)

Meanwhile, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because it is a harsh reality:

As Japan’s Family Laws stand now, nobody — regardless of nationality — should get married to a Japanese and have kids.  Because if you divorce — or even separate — somebody will quite likely lose them completely.

Read on for yet another example of that.  Even more examples and case studies at the Japan Children’s Rights Network here.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

(日本語は英語の後)

(Please forward this message to everyone you know in Japan.)

On 25 March 2010, three children were abducted from their Tokyo home … by their own mother. All three were taken against their will.

Twenty days later, one child escaped, phoned for help, and was rescued. The abusive and mentally unstable mother immediately moved again and changed the remaining two children’s names … again.

The police consider this a family issue and will not help. The slow-moving family court has not made one ruling since this occurred, even though a petition for a return of physical custody was filed immediately after the children’s abduction.

More than 100 days has already passed, and your help is now being requested to find the abducted boys and return them to the home, neighborhood, school, friends, and family they have known their entire life –a  family that embraces all aspects of their mixed heritage.

Please look over the photos at the website below and keep an eye out for these two boys.

http://www.savetheboys.net

e-mail: Contact@savetheboys.net

If you are tired of these primitive grab-and-runs quietly sanctioned by Japan’s ineffective family court structure, help us stop this one by keeping an eye out for these boys so that they can be returned home.

You can help. We NEED your help.

Please.

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

COLLATED PERSONAL NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR, A PERSON I MET IN PERSON YEARS AGO AND CAN VOUCH FOR HIS CHARACTER:

July 7 and 8, 2010

Dear Debito, I would like to request your help finding my two sons, who will be 10 and 7 this year.

Here’s a brief summary of what happened. I have been in Japan for nearly 20 years (married for 17), and I filed for divorce in January when I could no longer accept my wife’s increasing abuse of my three children (I have a daughter who just turned 13). My wife has also been in an ongoing affair since 2007. My wife and I began mediation, and at the end of March, she suddenly abducted all three children and disappeared.

After 20 days, my daughter was able to escape and phone for help, and I was able to rescue her. Her mother then immediately moved again. She has taken a leave of absence from work and even changed the boys’ names, but we do know that the boys are enrolled in a public school (1st and 4th grade) and are probably in or around Tokyo.

The family court has been incredibly ineffective (they won’t even interview the boys, and haven’t made any rulings), so after over 100 days of trying to go through the system to return these boys to their home, it appears that the only hope for doing so is to make this happen on our own…

The savetheboys website has been created, and I would like to ask for your help and the help of everyone possible to find these boys so that they can be safely returned to their home. Feel free to blog what I sent you in the initial e-mail or the text below. My only request is that you try to keep my family name out of it for the moment.

I certainly do appreciate your assistance.

Last weekend, my daughter and I saw “The Cove,” and the producer began the movie by announcing that their team initially desired to obtain footage by going through all the proper channels, but eventually had to resort to more extreme measures after encountering such staunch resistance.

That is the way I feel about this website and my actions now. I did not want to put that website up, and I resisted for quite a while. After nearly 20 years in Japan, I wanted to let this play out and give the system the opportunity to carefully examine this case and fix an obvious wrong. Instead, so many within the system have exhibited behavior that is unprofessional, biased, and outright dishonest. In particular, I find the dishonesty of so many “adults” to be troubling, and it leaves me with a really bad taste in my mouth.

If I did not actually go out and rescue my own daughter–against the advice of many, by the way–she would still be captive, even though she phoned begging for help.

Thank you again, Debito. Thank you so much. ENDS

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

(これを日本に住んでいる人、誰でも良いので転送してください。)

お願いします。私の弟達を助けてください。

2010年3月25日、私達3人兄弟は母によって東京都の自宅・・・から連れさられ、私 達3人とも自らの意思で連れていかれたわけではありませんでした。

20日後、私1人は自宅に電話をし、助けてもらいました。その事を知った母親はすぐ に残りの2人・・・を連れて引越しました。

警察はこれを親の問題だと考え、助ける事はしませんでした。のんびりと進む家庭 裁判所は母が子供を誘拐したというのに何も進歩を遂げません。

子供達が消えてから長い3ヶ月が過ぎました。そした今、私の弟達を探してください という事を皆さんにお願いしています。あの弟達を彼らの思い出の家、近所、学 校、友達、それと家族のもとへ戻してあげるのを手伝ってください。

下のリンクから弟達の写真などを見てください。もしかしたら彼らを町で見かける かもしれません。もし見つけたら連絡してください。お願いします。

http://www.savetheboys.net

e-mail: Contact@savetheboys.net

もしあなたが今、この日本の家庭裁判所や日本国にウンザリしているのなら私の弟 達が家に戻れるように探す事で私達に力を貸してください。お願いします。

あなたが私達を助けられます。私達はあなたの助けが必要です。

お願いします。どうか助けてください。

(これを日本に住んでいる人、誰でも良いので転送してください。)

ENDS

Economist London on Japan’s treatment of Chinese: Welcome tourist money, work “Trainees” to death

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Hi Blog. A couple of days after this issue appeared in Kyodo and on Debito.org, the Economist London had an article in its print and online version. (If Debito.org is an inspiration for your articles, may we say how grateful we are for the extended audience.) With even more research and quotes, and a comparison with another issue also recently discussed on Debito.org (how Chinese money is affecting the tourist economy), here’s the article. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

The Chinese in Japan
Department stores and sweat shops
It’s one Japan for rich Chinese shoppers, another for low-skilled workers
Jul 8th 2010 | TOKYO Economist.com

http://www.economist.com/node/16542515

MANY Japanese strive to keep up egalitarian appearances. Porsche drivers keep their cars tactfully hidden away. Houses of the well-heeled are unflashy. In the finest department stores, even the demure “elevator girls” are treated with impeccable politeness.

But when it comes to the way Japan treats its nouveau riche neighbour, China, different rules apply. Two events this month betray the double standards with which Japanese officialdom treats China’s rich and poor. On July 1st Japan relaxed visa requirements for well-off Chinese tourists. It was not stated how much anyone needed to earn to apply for one. But as long as they had at least a gold credit card and a solid professional or civil-service job to go back to, they were free to come to Japan, to shop until they dropped.

Far from the bright lights of Japan’s shopping districts, however, young Chinese working in small industrial firms get anything but red-carpet treatment. On July 5th Kyodo, a news agency, reported that 21 Chinese were among 27 foreign trainees who died last year on a government-sponsored skills-transfer scheme for developing countries that over the past four years has brought in an average of 94,000 workers a year, mostly from China.

Of the 27, nine died of heart or brain diseases, four died while working and three committed suicide. A few days earlier officials confirmed that a 31-year-old Chinese trainee who died in 2008 after clocking up about 100 hours a month of overtime was the victim not of heart failure, as originally reported, but of “karoshi”, the Japanese affliction of death from overwork.

Japan International Training Co-operation Organisation, the outfit set up by five government ministries to oversee the skills-transfer programme, refuses to discuss the deaths. But Lila Abiko, of the Lawyers’ Network for Foreign Trainees, an NGO, says many guest-workers do so much low-paid overtime—with the support of their employers—that they literally work themselves to death. The mortality rate from heart disease and other stress-related ailments among trainees in their 20s and 30s is almost double that of Japanese of the same age, she says. “Japan is the richest country in Asia, yet this programme is exploiting poor Chinese like slaves.”

Japan’s shrinking population is at the root of both phenomena. As domestic spending declines, Japan needs wealthy Chinese tourists to help prop up the local economy, and low-skilled Chinese trainees to help man its factories. Figures for both have climbed (see chart).

The worse the demographics become, the more useful it may be for Japan to have China on its doorstep. But for the moment, the best many Chinese can say about Japan is that they love its products. That is not the basis for an enduring affinity.
ENDS

Mainichi/Kyodo: J companies will boost hiring of NJ by 50%! Yeah, sure.

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. Since this past week’s theme seems to be on NJ employment issues, here we have an article (which I can’t find in any original Japanese on the Mainichi site, have a look yourself) talking about how some Japanese companies are going to add more NJ to their staff!  By up to 50%!  My my, we’ve heard that before.  Not just recently in the Asahi last April (where respondents who had been through the hiring process recently smelled tripe and onions; as did the Yomiuri April 2009).  We heard this tune back in the Bubble Years too (one of the reasons why people like me came here in the late 1980s).  We were made promises that simply were not kept.  Remains to be seen, then as now.  Just saying it will happen don’t make it so.  Feels to me like somebody’s talking up the Japanese job market.

And even if they do hire as many as they say, will they have the smarts to offer them job conditions that will keep them on board?  Or will they fall back into the hackneyed practice of assuming that job applicants should just feel grateful for the honor to work for a Japanese company?  Hah.  I think people are more informed than that nowadays.

Opinions?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Japanese firms to boost hiring of foreigners by up to 50%
(Mainichi Japan) July 6, 2010, courtesy of JK.

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/business/news/20100706p2g00m0bu057000c.html

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Major Japanese firms are planning to boost hiring of foreign nationals by up to 50 percent of their new recruits in fiscal 2011, officials of the companies said Tuesday.

Fast Retailing Co., the operator of the popular Uniqlo casual clothing chain, major convenience store chain Lawson Inc. and Rakuten Inc., which operates the largest Internet mall in Japan, are planning to recruit foreigners mainly from Asian countries including China, Taiwan and Malaysia, according to the officials.

As they are expanding global operations especially in emerging markets in Asia amid shrinking domestic sales, the three companies are accelerating operations to hire Asian graduates in their home countries and those studying at Japanese universities.

The firms hope to promote them to company executives in the future to lead their operations in the Asian markets, the officials said.

Fast Retailing said it is planning to hire about 300 foreigners, which accounts for about 50 percent of its planned new recruits for the year starting in April next year.

The company hopes to hire people who can work on its plan to open more shops in China and those who can serve as shop managers in Malaysia and Taiwan, where it plans to open its first outlets.

President Tadashi Yanai said it will further increase the hiring rate of foreign employees in fiscal 2012, with a plan for up to two-thirds of 1,000 planned new recruits to be foreigners.

Lawson is boosting recruitment of foreign students graduating from Japanese universities. It will continue hiring about 20-30 percent of its new recruits from such students from Asian countries, it said. It has already hired 66 foreign graduates in three years from fiscal 2008, which account for 20 percent of all the new recruits.

Rakuten said it will hire 150 foreigners among 600 new recruits it plans to employ in fiscal 2011.

It has agreed with China’s top Internet search engine Baidu Inc. to form a joint venture to launch an online mall in China in the second half of this year and hopes to utilize Chinese engineers to come up with services attracting customers in the Chinese market.

Other than the three companies, Panasonic Corp. has also been boosting its employment of foreigners. In fiscal 2011, it plans to increase the number of such employees to 1,100, up by 50 percent from the previous year, the company said, adding that the figure will account for 80 percent of the whole recruitment for the year.

ENDS

NJ population falls in 2009 for the first time since 1961

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.  In probably the most significant news germane to Debito.org this year, we have for the first time in nearly a half-century (48 years) the population of NJ decreasing in Japan.  Looks like the “Nikkei Repatriation Bribe” was very effective indeed.

To try to take the edge off this bad news, I have an Ishihara joke at the end of this blog post if you’re interested.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Number of registered foreigners marks 1st fall since 1961
Kyodo/Japan Today Wednesday 07th July 2010, 06:00 AM JST

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/number-of-registered-foreigners-marks-1st-fall-since-1961

TOKYO — The number of registered foreign residents of Japan declined 31,000 from a year earlier to around 2.186 million as of the end of 2009, marking the first year-on-year fall since 1961, the Justice Ministry said Tuesday. The ministry’s immigration bureau attributed the fall to a decline in job offers in areas with manufacturing businesses, including automakers, amid the global recession.

The number of foreign residents came to 674,000 in the first survey in 1959 before falling to 640,000 in the second survey in 1961, after which it continued to increase, topping 2 million in 2005, according to the bureau. By prefecture, Aichi, the home of auto giant Toyota Motor Corp., saw the largest decline with a fall of 13,600 from the year before to 215,000, followed by Shizuoka, where the number fell 9,800 to 93,000. There was a significant drop in the number of Brazilian nationals, the third-largest foreign population in Japan, from around 312,000 to 267,000.

The number of foreign residents increased in the Tokyo metropolitan area, including Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures, mostly because the urban region still attracts workers for food service industries, according to the bureau.

外国人登録者数、初めて減少 09年、金融危機影響か

朝日新聞 2010年7月6日19時58分

http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0706/TKY201007060604.html

法務省は6日、2009年末現在の外国人登録者数は218万6121人で、過去最高だった08年末に比べ3万1305人減ったと発表した。毎年の統計を取り始めた1961年以降、初めて減少に転じた。入国管理局は「世界金融危機の影響で、南米から来た日系人が多く出国したことが原因ではないか」とみている。

国籍別では、1位の中国は約2万5千人増えて約68万人。一方で、3位のブラジルが約4万5千人減少し約26万7千人、5位ペルーが約2300人減って約5万7千人など、南米出身者の登録者数が大幅に減少した。2位の韓国・朝鮮(約58万人)、6位の米国(約5万2千人)は微減、4位のフィリピン(約21万人)は微増だった。

在留資格別では、日系2世に多い「日本人の配偶者等」が約22万2千人で約2万4千人減ったほか、日系3世などが該当する「定住者」も約22万2千人で、約3万6千人減少した。都道府県別では愛知県で約1万3千人、静岡県で約9800人の減少。日系人が働く自動車工場などが多い地域で、減少が目立った。

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

The Ishihara joke, source unknown:

“Tokyo Governor Ishihara has long declared crows in Tokyo to be a public nuisance, so he was offering a cash prize to anyone who could figure out a way to get rid of them, such as creating a recipe to make them edible etc.

“One day, a man walked into the Tokyo Governor’s office claiming to have the solution to the crow problem.  Ishihara granted him an audience.

“The man pulled out a box and opened it.  Inside was a Golden Crow, which took wing and began flying circles around Ishihara’s office.

“‘This is the solution?’ Ishihara grumbled impatiently.  The man said, ‘Wait, open a window and let him outside.’

“A functionary charged with opening windows was summoned, and the Golden Crow flew out, resuming his airborne circle over the city of Tokyo.

“In due course, all the other crows in Tokyo began following the Golden Crow, flying round and round in a huge cloud.  Then suddenly, the Golden Crow flew out to sea, and crashed into Tokyo Bay.

“All the other crows followed suit and drowned.  Tokyo was de-crowed.

“Ishihara flashed his vulpine smile.  ‘Well done!’  And as he pulled out the cash prize, he asked:

“‘Now, do you think you can come up with a Golden Gaijin?'”

ends

Asahi editorial supports NJ PR Suffrage, published during election-period debates

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.  In the middle of the election period, here’s a surprising editorial from the Asahi — in support of NJ PR Suffrage!  The ruling DPJ dropped it from their manifesto, and most parties that took it up as an issue (LDP, Kokumin Shintou (rendered below as People’s New Party) and Tachiagare Nippon (i.e. Sunrise Party, hah)) used it to bash NJ and try to gain votes from xenophobia (didn’t matter; the latter two still did not gain seats from it).  Anyway, here’s the strongest argument made by mainstream Japanese media in support of it.  And it’s a doozy.  Thanks Asahi for injecting some tolerance into the debate.  Maybe it made a difference in voting patterns.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

EDITORIAL: Foreigners’ voting rights
Asahi Shimbun 2010/07/06 Courtesy of JK

http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201007050358.html

The June 28 edition of the Sankei Shimbun wrote in its editorial that voters should pay close attention to the different arguments from political parties regarding “the framework of this country.” On this, we agree.

The point in question is whether to grant permanent foreign residents the right to vote in local elections. Since we can’t see any obvious differences between the two major parties on economic and foreign policies, foreign suffrage is one of the major issues that has split the nation.

In their election manifestoes, New Komeito, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party pledge to achieve foreign suffrage. Other parties, like the Liberal Democratic Party, the People’s New Party, the Sunrise Party of Japan and Your Party, are opposed to the change.

In contrast, the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s manifesto says nothing about the issue. When the DPJ was formed, its party platform said foreign suffrage should be “realized quickly.” After gaining power, then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and then Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa were eager to make this happen.

But the DPJ’s coalition partner, the People’s New Party, and some local assemblies reject the idea. Even some DPJ members are against the move.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in the Diet, “While there is no change in the party’s position, there are different opinions that the parties must discuss.” With both Ozawa and Hatoyama gone, it seems that the engine behind foreign suffrage has stalled.

More than 2.2 million foreign residents are registered in Japan, and 910,000 of them have been granted permanent resident status. Japan is already a country comprising people with various backgrounds. It is appropriate to have those people rooted in their local communities to share the responsibility in solving problems and developing their communities.

It is also appropriate to allow their participation in local elections as residents, while respecting their bonds to their home nations.

In its new strategy for economic growth, the government says it will consider a framework for taking in foreigners to supplement the work force. To become an open country, Japan must create an environment that foreigners find easy to live in.

An Asahi Shimbun survey in late April and May showed that 49 percent of the respondents were in favor of foreign suffrage while 43 percent were against it.

Since public opinion is divided, the DPJ, which put the issue on the public agenda, should not waffle but should give steady and persuasive arguments to the public.

The LDP is raising the tone of its criticism, saying foreigners’ voting rights, along with the dual surname system for married couples, is a policy that will “destroy the framework of this country.” The party apparently wants to make the voting rights issue a major conflicting point between conservatives and liberals.

Some opponents express concerns about the negative effects on national security. However, this kind of argument can nurture anti-foreign bigotry and ostracism. It sounds like nothing more than an inward-looking call for self-preservation.

Some say foreigner suffrage goes “against the Constitution.” However, it is only natural to construe from the Supreme Court ruling of February 1995 that the Constitution neither guarantees nor prohibits foreigner suffrage but rather “allows” it.

The decision on foreign suffrage depends on legislative policy.

In an age when people easily cross national borders, what kind of society does Japan wish to become? How do we determine the qualifications and rights of people who comprise our country and communities? To what extent do we want to open our gates to immigrants? How do we control social diversity and turn it into energy?

Politicians need to discuss the suffrage issue based on their answers to these questions. The issue of foreign residents’ voting rights is a prelude to something bigger.

–The Asahi Shimbun, July 5 2010

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

外国人選挙権―多様な社会への道を語れ
朝日新聞 社説 2010年7月5日(月)
http://www.asahi.com/paper/editorial20100705.html

「国のかたち」をめぐる各党の主張の違いに注目したい、と産経新聞が6月28日付「主張」(社説)に書いている。その点には同感である。

特に、永住外国人に地方選挙での投票権を認めるか、否か。経済や外交で2大政党の違いが見えにくい中、日本を大きく分ける論点の一つだ。

参院選に向けたマニフェストや公約に、公明党、共産党、社民党が「実現を」と書き込んだ。反対を打ち出したのは自民党、国民新党、たちあがれ日本、みんなの党などだ。

情けないのは民主党である。マニフェストでは一言も触れていない。

結党時の基本政策で「早期実現」と掲げた同党は、政権交代後、鳩山由紀夫前首相や小沢一郎前幹事長が意欲を示した。ところが、連立を組む国民新党や地方議会から反対が起きた。党内にも否定的な声はある。菅直人首相は国会で「党の姿勢に変更はないが、様々な意見があり、各党の議論が必要」と答弁。小鳩両氏の退場もあり、急にエンジンが止まったかのようだ。

外国人登録者は220万人を超え、永住資格を持つ人は91万人。日本はすでに多様なルーツを持つ人で構成されている。地域社会に根付いた人に、問題解決や街づくりの責任を分かち合ってもらう。母国とのつながりは尊重しつつ、住民として地方選挙への参加を認めるのは、妥当な考え方だ。

政府の新成長戦略では、海外人材の受け入れ制度を検討するという。開かれた国に向け、外国人の住みやすい環境づくりは避けて通れない課題だ。

朝日新聞の4~5月の調査では賛成49%、反対43%。世論は割れている。であればこそ、議論を提起した民主党は、旗を出したり引っ込めたりせず、粘り強く説得を続けるべきだろう。

自民党などは、夫婦別姓と並び「国のかたちを壊す」政策だと、批判を強める。「保守対リベラル」の対立軸に位置づける狙いもありそうだ。

「離島が乗っ取られる」「安全保障に悪影響を及ぼす」といった反対論がある。だが、こうした見方は外国人の敵視や排斥を助長しかねない。内向きの防御論にしか聞こえない。

「憲法違反」との主張もある。しかし、1995年2月の最高裁判決は、憲法は外国人地方選挙権を保障も禁止もしておらず「許容」している、と判断したと読むのが自然だ。付与するかどうかは立法政策に委ねられている。

カネやモノ同様、ヒトも国境を軽々と越えゆく時代。日本はどんな社会をめざすのか。国や地域をかたちづくる構成員の資格や権利をどう定め、どれだけ移民に門戸を開き、多様性をコントロールしつつどう活力に変えるか。

政治家は、そうしたビジョンまで視野に入れて賛否を論じ合うべきだ。選挙権の問題は、入り口に過ぎない。

ENDS

Thoughts on GOJ Upper House Election July 11, 2010: A DPJ loss, but not a rout, regardless of what the media says.

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Hi Blog. As Debito.org does every election (see some past entries here and here), we offer our assessment of what happened. All information is gleaned from the newspapers (Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri, and Doshin) that came out the next morning, with some analysis from looking at the hard numbers. I am not a politico or insider, just somebody with a healthy interest in the democratic process in Japan, putting his undergraduate Government degree to work:

THE GOAL OF THIS ELECTION FOR THE RULING DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF JAPAN (DPJ)

The Upper House of Japan’s Diet (parliament) has a total of 242 seats. Half the UH gets elected every three years, meaning 121 seats were being contested this time. Of the ones not being contested, the ruling DPJ, which has held the majority of UH seats (through a coalition with another party) since 2007, had the goal of keeping that majority.  To do that, the DPJ had to win 55 seats plus one this time (since they already had 66 seats not being contested this election). The opposition parties (there are many, see below) had the goal of gaining 66 seats plus one (since 55 of theirs were not being contested this election) to take the UH majority back. Here’s how the numbers fell this morning after yesterday’s election:

DPJ won 44 (while their coalition partner lost all of theirs).
Non-DPJ won 77.

Totals now come up to 106 (a loss of ten) seats for the DPJ, meaning they lost their absolute Upper House majority, thanks to a coalition partner party (Kokumin Shintou) losing all their contested seats (three).  Thus the DPJ lost control of the Upper House.

However, this does not mean that somebody else assumes power of it.  Nobody is close to forming a Upper House majority, meaning there will be some coalition work from now on. Breaking down the numbers:

  • Ruling DPJ won 44 (a loss of ten seats).
  • The former ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP conservative status quo) won 51 seats, a total gain of 13.
  • Koumeitou (KMT a “Buddhist Party”, think the Mormons creating their own party in the US) won 9 seats, a loss of two.
  • Japan Communist Party (JCP) won three seats, a loss of one.
  • Shintou Kaikaku (a populist reform party made up of LDP defectors led by very popular Masuzoe Youichi) won one seat, a loss of four.
  • Shamintou (DSP, a left-wing party and former DPJ coalition member led by Fukushima Mizuho) won two seats, a loss of one.
  • Tachiagare Nippon (TAN, a fringe xenophobic right-wing party made up of LDP defectors) won one seat, breaking even.
  • Minna no Tou (MNT, a self-professed “entrepreneurial” party made up of LDP defectors) won ten seats, a gain of ten.
  • Kokumin Shintou (KMS, an erratic rightish party in the DPJ coalition) won no seats, a loss of three.
  • The Happiness Realization Party (a loony party founded by a religious cult) won nothing, again.
  • Unaffiliateds (i.e. no party affilation, independents) won no seats, a loss of one.

Source: http://www2.asahi.com/senkyo2010/

Hence somebody has to start power brokering to reach the majority of 121 plus one, since the second-strongest party, the LDP, now only has a total of 84 seats.  Even with its perennial coalition buddy, KMT, that’s still only 19 more.  Methinks (and only methinks) the biggest winner in this election MNT (eleven seats total) will probably join in with the LDP and KMT, but that still only adds up to 114.  Speculation is rife but inconclusive at this time.

PULLING THE RAW NUMBERS APART

DPJ lost this election, there’s no other spin to be had.  But it was not a rout like the media has been portraying (using words like taihai and haiboku — compare it with a real rout like the UH election of 2007 against the LDP, see here).  Consider this:

Number of electoral districts where DPJ came out on top where they weren’t on top before (in other words, electoral gains as far as DPJ is concerned):  None.

Number of electoral districts where DPJ stayed on top or kept their seat same as last election (in other words, no change for the worse): 22
(Oita, Kochi, Okayama, Nara, Mie, Shiga, Yamanashi, Hiroshima, Hyogo, Kyoto, Osaka, Gifu, Nagano, Aichi, Shizuoka, Tokyo, Ibaraki, Niigata, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, and Hokkaido).

Number of electoral districts where DPJ lost but lost there before anyway (in other words, the status quo of no electoral gains): 10
(Okinawa (the DPJ did not contest a seat there anyway, but the previous winner was Unaffiliated), Kagoshima, Yamaguchi, Shimane (although loser there was KST, a DPJ coalition partner), Ehime, Wakayama, Fukui, Toyama, Gunma, and Akita.)

Number of electoral districts where DPJ flat out won before but lost a seat this time (this is the bad news, electoral losses): 12
(Nagasaki, Saga, Kumamoto, Kagawa, Tokushima, Tottori, Ishikawa, Saitama, Tochigi, Chiba, Aomori, and Yamagata)

Conclusion:  The DPJ essentially held their own in a near-majority of contested electoral districts.  They did not gain much, but did not lose “big”.  In fact, in all multiple-seat constituencies, at least one DPJ candidate won (see below).

———————————–

Here’s another spin:

As I said, many districts have multiple seats, and in every one at least DPJ candidate won. But the number of electoral districts where DPJ stayed on top, same as last election: 3
(Kyoto, Niigata and Fukushima)

Where they did not: 15
(Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Hyogo, Osaka, Nagano, Gifu, Aichi, Shizuoka, Tokyo, Chiba and Kanagawa (from two seats to one in each place), Saitama, Ibaraki, Miyagi, and Hokkaido.)

Source: Hokkaido Shimbun July 12, 2010, page 20.

However, if I were a DPJ spin doctor, I would say:  Most multiple constituencies had two DPJ candidates competing against one another (against only one LDP candidate, as in Hokkaido), and since they sucked the votes from each other, generally one DPJ won and one lost.  If only one DPJ candidate had run, then he or she would probably have come out total on top ahead of the LDP candidate, and there would not be so many second-place DPJ finishes.

The unquestionably biggest DPJ loss was Kanagawa, where they not only completely lost a seat to the upstart MNT, but also unseated was Chiba Keiko, the current Justice Minister, a proponent of separate surnames after marriage (fufu bessei) and an opponent of the death penalty. This is a big loss for the left wing of the already ideologically-fractious DPJ.

THE BEST NEWS AS FAR AS DEBITO.ORG IS CONCERNED:

We have discussed here how certain parties were bashing foreigners to gain votes (it happened pretty hard in Renho’s district in Tokyo).  It didn’t work.  Renho won her district easily.  Moreover, the right-wing fringe parties (TAN, with racist leaders Hiranuma and Ishihara) only got one seat (and it was a celebrity — the DPJ did the same with “Yawara” Tani Ryoko) from the PR vote (if you can’t get one there, you’re pretty much useless as a party), meaning TAN is down one seat from before.  KMS, also a foreigner-bashing party, got no seats this time at all.  Hah.  Serves you right.

But anyway, the media is spinning this as a big loss, even though ruling parties (except the ones that have been governing for fifty years and have the power of precedent or no viable opposition party) generally lose a bit in midterm elections (because of an inevitable degree of voter alienation from, say, disappointed and defeated expectations, or from having to create winners and losers from their decisions).  This was no exception.  But the LDP once governed for years without the support of the Upper House (much weaker than the Lower House, which the DPJ still controls), so the DPJ can do the same.  I doubt the DPJ is taking LDP leader Tanigaki’s calls this morning for an immediate dissolution of the Diet and a full general election at all seriously.  I’m not.  Nothing revolutionary is coming out of this election.  ‘Cos the results aren’t that dramatic.  Despite what the media would have you believe.

All for now.  Insufficient sleep and a rotten result in the World Cup last night (what awful refereeing!), and this is the best I can come up with for now.  Additional thoughts from everyone else?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 11, 2010

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Hello All. On this Election Day in Japan, let me send you:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 11, 2010

Table of Contents:

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CALLS FOR CHANGE, WELL MAYBE NOT:
1) JET Programme on GOJ chopping block: Appeal from JQ Magazine and JETAA in NYC (plus Debito.org Poll)
2) Powerpoint presentation: “Japan Past the Point of No Return”
3) Alarmist Nikkei Business cover re Chinese business practices: “Chapan: Your new boss is Chinese”
4) Japan Times: LDP & rightists still clinging to anti NJ PR Suffrage, even though not an issue in this election
5) Metropolis Mag has thoughtful article regarding the convoluted debate for NJ PR suffrage
6) Japan Times Zeit Gist on how NJ can participate in Japanese elections
7) Japan Times & Kyodo: Foreign “trainees” dying at rate of two to three a month, takes two years for one to be declared “from overwork” (karoushi), more than a quarter from “unknown causes”
8 ) IMADR Connect Magazine article on recent UN visit by High Commissioner of Human Rights to Japan May 2010

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, WELL MAYBE NOT:
9) Japan Times’ Colin Jones on Japanese enforcement of vague laws: “No need to know the law, but you must obey it”
10) FCCJ No.1 Shimbun & Jiji on Japanese police’s extralegal powers, and how that power corrupts
11) Kyodo: Police raid car scrap yards run by NJ, suspecting them as “breeding grounds for crime”
12) NYT guest column on racial profiling of Japanese for “looking too tall and dark”. Just like arrest of “foreign-looking” Japanese back in 2006.
13) TBS: Daring heist of expensive watches in Sapporo. So daring it might have been foreigners!, says Hokkaido Police
14) J protesters of “The Cove” lose injunction in Yokohama District Court, cannot stop screenings, so they target people’s homes for intimidation
15) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JULY 1, 2010

TANGENTS
16) Newsweek: Immigrants do not increase crime
17) How the US deals with Arizona racial profiling: Federal lawsuits and Jon Stewart humor
18) Activist Junichi Sato on International Whaling Commission corruption and GOJ/NPA collusion
19) Canada spending even more than Japan this time on G8/G20 summits. However, controversy ensues.
20) Yours is no disgrace, World Cup Japan Team. Otsukare. I hope the J media does not spin this as a loss.
21) Sunday Tangent: “A Growing Love for ‘Cool Japan'” by Akira Yamada (of MOFA)

… and finally …

22) JUST BE CAUSE column July 6, 2010: “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry”: how government agencies want NJ tourists yet are accessories to excluding them (full text)
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By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
Daily Blog updates and RSS feeds at http://www.debito.org. Twitter arudoudebito
Freely Forwardable

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CALLS FOR CHANGE, WELL MAYBE NOT

1) JET Programme on GOJ chopping block: Appeal from JQ Magazine and JETAA in NYC (plus Debito.org Poll)

Dear Mr. Arudou: Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Justin Tedaldi, and I am the editor of JQ Magazine New York, a publication of the JET Programme Alumni Association of America’s New York Chapter. I also write about Japanese culture in New York for Examiner.com. I lived in Kobe City for about two years, and my first work experience out of school was as a coordinator for international relations with the JET Programme.

I’m a longtime follower of your site (over ten years), and I would like to ask your help on behalf of all the JETs worldwide. As part of Japan’s efforts to grapple with its massive public debt, the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Program may be cut. Soon after coming into power, the new government launched a high profile effort to expose and cut wasteful spending. In May 2010, the JET Program and CLAIR came up for review, and during the course of an hourlong hearing, the 11-member panel criticized JET, ruling unanimously that a comprehensive examination should be undertaken to see if it should be pared back or eliminated altogether. The number of JET participants has already been cut back by almost 30 percent from the peak in 2002, but this is the most direct threat that the program has faced in its 23-year history.

We are asking JET Program participants past and present, as well as other friends of the program to speak out and petition the Japanese government to reconsider the cuts. Please sign this petition in support of the grassroots cultural exchange the JET Program has fostered and write directly to the Japanese government explaining the positive impact the Program has made in your life and that of your adopted Japanese community.

http://www.change.org/petitions/view/save_the_jet_program

Very lively discussion at http://www.debito.org/?p=7134

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

DEBITO.ORG POLL:
Rumor has it that the JET Programme is on the chopping block. What should the GOJ do about JET?

Options:

  • Nothing: Keep the JET Programme as is.
  • Tweak: Keep the JET Programme but adjust the fundamental goals/budget.
  • Slash: Eliminate the JET Programme entirely.
  • Something else.
  • Don’t know.

Vote at any blog page at http://www.debito.org (right-hand column)

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6973

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7005

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4) Japan Times: LDP & rightists still clinging to anti NJ PR Suffrage, even though not an issue in this election

The LDP and other rightists are still playing up the NJ PR Suffrage Issue, even though it’s not even a platform plank in this election (the DPJ Manifesto does not mention it this time) in a rather lame (and xenophobic) attempt to gather votes. Nothing quite like bashing a small, disenfranchised minority to make yourself look powerful and worthy of governance. Excerpt follows:

Japan Times: Whether to grant permanent foreign residents voting rights for local-level elections and allow married couples to keep their respective surnames have become contentious issues ahead of the July 11 Upper House election.

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan, which advocates the introduction of foreigner suffrage and separate surnames for married couples if desired, faces strong opposition from conservatives in the Liberal Democratic Party and small parties, including its own ruling bloc partner.

Aichi Prefecture voters, however, are puzzled by the conservatives’ fervor because the topics have yet to stir national debate…

The LDP and small conservative parties set out to oppose the ideas in their platforms, vying with the DPJ, which has liberal views on these issues. Some homemakers, who used to be the last to become involved in politics, now speak to people at the weekly rally of Inoue’s group held at Kanayama Station in Nagoya.

“The pride of this country that has been built up by the Yamato (Japanese) race must be passed down to our children, otherwise there will be no future for the country,” said Masahito Fujikawa, 49, an LDP-backed candidate in the Aichi electoral district…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7105

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6987

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

In an article cited in the above 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6996

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7) Japan Times & Kyodo: Foreign “trainees” dying at rate of two to three a month, takes two years for one to be declared “from overwork” (karoushi), more than a quarter from “unknown causes”

Kyodo: Twenty-seven foreign nationals who came to Japan for employment under a government-authorized training program died in fiscal 2009, the second worst figure on record, government officials said Monday. The number was the second largest, following the 35 foreign nationals who died in fiscal 2008. This could trigger moves toward revising the government program, first launched in 1993, as a number of irregular practices have recently been observed, such as having foreign trainees work for long hours with below-minimum wages.

Separate Kyodo: A labor office in Ibaraki Prefecture will acknowledge that a Chinese national working as an intern at a local firm under a government-authorized training program died from overwork in 2008, marking the first foreign trainee “karoshi” death from overwork, sources said Friday…

COMMENTS: Taste the ironies in these articles. First, how in 2009, the death of 27 “Trainees” (i.e. people brought over by the GOJ who as people allegedly “in occupational training” don’t qualify as “workers” (roudousha) entitled to labor law protections) is only the SECOND worst figure on record. Second, how we have close to a third (as in eight NJ) of the total dying of “unknown causes” (as if that’s a sufficient explanation; don’t they have autopsies in Japan to fix that? Oh wait, not always.) Third, how about the stunning ignorance of the sentence, “a number of irregular practices have recently been observed, such as having foreign trainees work for long hours with below-minimum wages”. If the Kyodo reporter had bothered to do research of his media databases, he’d realize it’s hardly “recent” at all. And it’s not being fixed, despite official condemnation in 2006 of the visa regime as “a swindle” and death after death (at a rate two to three per month) racking up. Karoushi was a big media event way back when when Japanese were dying of it. Less so it seems when NJ are croaking from it. Finally, look how it only took about two years for “a labor office” to admit that a NJ “trainee” had been worked to death, given the hours he worked that were a part of the record? Gee whiz, what Sherlocking! How many more people have to die before this exploitative and even deadly system is done away with?

http://www.debito.org/?p=7111

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8 ) IMADR Connect Magazine article on recent UN visit by High Commissioner of Human Rights to Japan May 2010

Here is NGO International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), based in Tokyo, with their periodical in English on the issue. They inter alia are the group who keeps bringing over the UN for briefings (here and here), and have kept various committees appraised of GOJ progress (or mostly lack thereof), and answered GOJ benkai justifying inaction re human rights (example here). Their May 2010 edition talks about the UN’s May 14 visit to hear cases of discrimination in Japan. FYI.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6999

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CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, WELL MAYBE NOT:

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

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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7076

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10) FCCJ No.1 Shimbun & Jiji on Japanese police’s extralegal powers, and how that power corrupts

Further exploring the theme of the Japanese police’s extralegal powers and how power corrupts, here are two articles outlining cases where the Japanese police can arrest people they find inconvenient:

XX comments on Jiji Press article: In this news item a man who does not like the police has been putting up notices near crime scenes that say “Congratulations on not catching the killer.” He was arrested and prosecutored for violating the Minor Crimes Act. Interestingly, the Minor Crimes Act does not seem to have any offenses which cover what he did. Minor technicality, I guess.

FCCJ Number 1 Shimbun: Semba retired from the Ehime Prefectural Police in March, after 36 years on the force. At 24, he had been the youngest officer in the history of the prefectural force to be promoted to the rank of sergeant, but he says his refusal to falsify expenses forms that were funneled into a vast slush fund meant that he was never promoted again, was regularly transferred between unappealing assignments and had his handgun taken away on the grounds that he might kill himself or pose a danger to others.

“The Japanese police are a criminal organization and the senior officers of the force are all criminals,” Semba said. “Of all the companies and organizations in Japan, only the ‘yakuza’ and the police commit crimes on a daily basis. That includes building up slush funds and it was because I refused to participate in that that I stayed in the same position for all those years.”

Semba alleges that JPY40 billion is systematically racked up from falsified travel expenses and fictitious payments to individuals who assist the police in their investigations. Pretty much every officer in the country is involved in the scam, he claims, and they do not speak out because they are all too busy climbing the ranks to try to get their hands on a larger share of the pie.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7011

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7044

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12) NYT guest column on racial profiling of Japanese for “looking too tall and dark”. Just like arrest of “foreign-looking” Japanese back in 2006.

Here we have a good opinion piece in the NYT (the overseas paper the GOJ takes most seriously) from a Japanese (not a NJ, so there’s no possible excuse of a “cultural misunderstanding”) who looks suspicious to Japanese police simply because she is taller and darker than average. So she gets zapped for racial profiling (a word, as she acknowledges, is not in common currency in nihongo). Well, good thing she didn’t get arrested for looking “too foreign” and not having a Gaijin Card, which happened back in February 2006 (article enclosed below).

As I have said on numerous occasions, racial profiling by the NPA is a serious problem, as it will increasingly single out and multiethnic Japanese as well. I am waiting one day to get leaked a copy of the NPA police training manuals (not available to the public) which cover this sort of activity and scrutinize them for latent racist attitudes (we’ve already seen plenty of other racism in print by the Japanese police, see for example here, here, and here). But scrutiny is one thing the NPA consistently avoids. So this is what happens — and victims have to take it to outside media to get any attention.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7172

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

Sapporo was given a thrill on June 25 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7051

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14) J protesters of “The Cove” lose injunction in Yokohama District Court, cannot stop screenings, so they target people’s homes for intimidation

Kyodo: The Yokohama District Court has banned a Tokyo civic group from staging protests around a movie theater in Yokohama that plans to screen the Oscar-winning U.S. documentary “The Cove” about a controversial dolphin hunt in Japan, its Japanese distributor said Friday.

The court decision on the injunction Thursday prohibits making loud speeches within a 100-meter radius of the movie theater and entering the movie theater without permission, the distributor Unplugged Inc. said.

As the movie theater is planning to screen the film from July 3, scores of people from the Tokyo group staged street protests around the theater on June 12. The theater applied to the court for an injunction to ban such protests.

The theater said it will show the movie as scheduled. The film, which was mostly shot in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, partly with hidden cameras, won the 2010 Academy Award for best documentary.

Ric O’Barry: Last week we had some important successes in Japan — several theater owners came forward and committed to show the film and we also won a key injunction in a Yokohama court against the group protesting the film. Unfortunately, the “protestors” are ramping up, employing their worst tactics to date.

This week they moved to the Yokohoma theater owner’s home, and when that didn’t work they moved on to his mother’s home:

(YouTube video): As you can see, the woman is elderly. She has nothing to do with the distribution of the film. This is intimidation of the lowest order.

We tried to engage or critics — inviting them to participate in open forums, but they refused. Rather than discuss the issues they engage in highly aggressive bullying tactics to shut down the film. I personally believe they are being paid to protest and don’t really have a point of view. I don’t even think they care about Taiji. There only goal is to keep people from knowing the truth, no matter what it takes.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7067

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15) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JULY 1, 2010

In this podcast:

  • Japan Times ZEIT GIST Community Page Article 46, “Punishing Foreigners, Exonerating Japanese”, on growing evidence of judicial double standards towards NJ (March 24, 2009)
  • Japan Times ZEIT GIST Community Page Article 47/JUST BE CAUSE Column 14, “Golden parachutes for Nikkei only mark failure of race-based policy”, on the failure of Japan’s labor visa policies, and the repatriation bribe of the Nikkei (April 7, 2009)

Plus interim excerpts from Tangerine Dream “White Eagle” and concluding with Duran Duran’s “Breath After Breath” (Wedding Album, 1993).

26 minutes. Enjoy!

http://www.debito.org/?p=7089

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TANGENTS

16) Newsweek: Immigrants do not increase crime

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 of Freakonomics argue 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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=6969

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17) How the US deals with Arizona racial profiling: Federal lawsuits and Jon Stewart humor

We’ve recently been discussing racial profiling on this blog, comparing what’s happening in Arizona with new immigration laws vs what goes on as SOP in Japanese police law enforcement and gaijin harassment.

What’s interesting for me is how the US deals with it: They actually discuss it. First watch this Jon Stewart Daily Show excerpt (courtesy of Dave Spector) on the subject and then we’ll woolgather:

Let’s recount the important differences apparent in this video:

1) In the US, they have not only a presidential administration making clear statements against racial profiling, but also a judiciary filing federal suit against errant state policy that would condone that. Imagine either of those happening in Japan.

2) In the US, the voices of minorities are actually being heard — and listened to — somewhere. Imagine THAT happening in Japan!

3) In the US, police training materials and the actual text of law enforcement are coming under scrutiny! Imagine… oh you get the idea.

4) In the US, they have things such as satire and sarcasm to enable people to take this apart with the very powerful tool of humor, and an investigative media that can hold people accountable for what they say and do! (God bless the Daily Show!)

http://www.debito.org/?p=7180

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18) Activist Junichi Sato on International Whaling Commission corruption and GOJ/NPA collusion

For a Sunday Tangent, here is a hard-hitting article (thanks CNN) showing how activism against a corrupt but entrenched system gets treated: Detention and interrogation of activists, possible sentencing under criminal law, and international bodies turning a blind eye to their own mandate. Lucky for the author (and us) he is out on bail so he could write this. He wouldn’t be bailed if he were NJ. More on the IWC’s corruption in documentary The Cove — yet another reason why the bully boys who target people’s families (yet don’t get arrested for their “activism”) don’t want you to see it.

Sato opens with: After just two days of closed-door negotiations, the leaders who had gathered at the International Whaling Commission in Agadir, Morocco, announced no agreement was reached on the IWC chair’s proposal to improve whale conservation.

Greenpeace did not support the proposal, but we had hoped governments would change it to become an agreement to end whaling, not a recipe for continuing it.

It is particularly disappointing to me, because my professional commitment to end the whale hunt in my country of Japan — which led to the exposure of an embezzlement scandal at the heart of the whaling industry — has come at significant personal cost.

The investigation I conducted with my colleague, Toru Suzuki, led to our arrests in front of banks of media outlets who had been told about it in advance.

The homes of Greenpeace office and staff members were raided. Seventy-five police officers were deployed to handcuff two peaceful activists. We were held without charge for 23 days; questioned for up to 10 hours a day while tied to chairs and without a lawyer present. We are now out on bail awaiting verdict and sentencing, expected in early September.

If I can risk my future to bring the fraudulent Japanese hunt to an end, if whaling whistle-blowers are prepared to risk their lives to expose the corruption, how can it be that the IWC has yet again failed to take the political risk to pressure my government to end the scientific whaling sham?…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7114

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=6977

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

I just wanted to say the final 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7070

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21) Sunday Tangent: “A Growing Love for ‘Cool Japan'” by Akira Yamada (of MOFA)

As a Sunday Tangent, here we have an essay from a GOJ shill doing what I call “turning a frown upside down” (I know — I do it myself enough.) He makes the case that a waning Japan is not so waning. It’s emerging as a carrier of “cool”, as in culturally-based “soft power”. Funny to see this screed appearing before a bunch of academics in an academic network, making all manner of hopeful assertions not grounded in much reliable evidence. It’s just trying to tell us how much the world in fact still “loves” Japan. Well, clearly the author does. Enjoy.

“A Growing Love for “Cool Japan”” by Akira Yamada: Japan may appear defensive on the economic and political fronts. Has the world lost interest in an aging Japan whose economy will fall to third largest? There is, however, a side of Japan that is the object of ever stronger and deeper affection around the globe: Japanese popular culture, particularly anime (Japanese animation) and manga.

It will be no exaggeration to say that the world’s interest in and admiration for Japanese pop culture has grown dramatically in the first decade of the 21st century, thanks partly to the global spread of the Internet. This fact, however, is not well known around the world, even in Japan. Not many of the readers of the AJISS-Commentary, either Japanese or non-Japanese, likely have a clear understanding of the whole picture.

Although the exact number is unknown, there may be well over 100 events annually organized around the world featuring Japanese pop culture, anime and manga in particular, and attracting more than 10,000 participants. If events with several hundred or thousand participants are included, the number would be countless. Events focusing on Japanese pop culture are growing continuously both in numbers and in size. The largest event of this kind, “Japan Expo” held annually in Paris since 2000, brought in a record 164,000 participants in 2009. It is said that Brazil had several events with more than 100,000 participants…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7170

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… and finally …

22) JUST BE CAUSE column July 6, 2010: “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry”: how government agencies want NJ tourists yet are accessories to excluding them (full text)

The Japan Times: Tuesday, July 6, 2010JUST BE CAUSE
Japan’s hostile hosteling industry
By DEBITO ARUDOU

Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100706ad.html
Version with links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=7145

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Thanks for reading! Enjoy the election that probably won’t change much. I will. I voted.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
Daily Blog updates and RSS feeds at http://www.debito.org. Twitter arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 11, 2010 ENDS

Sunday Tangent: “A Growing Love for ‘Cool Japan'” by Gaijin Handler Akira Yamada (of MOFA)

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  As a Sunday Tangent, here we have an essay from a GOJ gaijin handler doing what I call “turning a frown upside down” (I know — I do it myself enough.)  He makes the case that a waning Japan is not so waning.  It’s emerging as a carrier of “cool”, as in culturally-based “soft power”.  Funny to see this screed appearing before a bunch of academics in an academic network, making all manner of hopeful assertions not grounded in much reliable evidence.  It’s just trying to tell us how much the world in fact still “loves” Japan.  Well, clearly the author does.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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From: H-Japan Editor
Date: July 7, 2010 12:44:35 PM MDT
To: H-JAPAN@H-NET.MSU.EDU
Subject: H-JAPAN (E): AJISS-Commentary on “Cool Japan” by Akira Yamada
Reply-To: H-NET/KIAPS List for Japanese History
Courtesy of Peach

H-JAPAN
July 7, 2010

From: Japan Institute of International Affairs

Editor: Akio Watanabe
Editorial Board: Masashi Nishihara, Naoko Saiki, and Taizo Yakushiji
Online Publisher: Yoshiji Nogami

AJISS-Commentary No. 95
“A Growing Love for “Cool Japan”” by Akira Yamada

[Akira Yamada is Deputy Director General of International Cooperation Bureau & African Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan.The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and should not be attributed to The Association of Japanese Institutes of Strategic Studies.]

http://www.jiia.or.jp/en_commentary/201007/07-1.html

Japan may appear defensive on the economic and political fronts. Has the world lost interest in an aging Japan whose economy will fall to third largest? There is, however, a side of Japan that is the object of ever stronger and deeper affection around the globe: Japanese popular culture, particularly anime (Japanese animation) and manga.

It will be no exaggeration to say that the world’s interest in and admiration for Japanese pop culture has grown dramatically in the first decade of the 21st century, thanks partly to the global spread of the Internet. This fact, however, is not well known around the world, even in Japan. Not many of the readers of the AJISS-Commentary, either Japanese or non-Japanese, likely have a clear understanding of the whole picture.

Although the exact number is unknown, there may be well over 100 events annually organized around the world featuring Japanese pop culture, anime and manga in particular, and attracting more than 10,000 participants. If events with several hundred or thousand participants are included, the number would be countless. Events focusing on Japanese pop culture are growing continuously both in numbers and in size. The largest event of this kind, “Japan Expo” held annually in Paris since 2000, brought in a record 164,000 participants in 2009. It is said that Brazil had several events with more than 100,000 participants.

These events feature not only pop culture such as anime, manga and fashion, but almost all aspects of Japanese culture, including traditional culture. They are basically organized and attended by local people alone with no Japanese involvement. When asked, these young participants will happily tell you about their passion for and keen interest in the excellent manga works and unique fashion produced in Japan. They are devoted Japanophiles who express their wish to visit Japan and their passion to learn and disseminate the Japanese language and culture. Their interest in Japan goes far beyond the scope of pop culture. There is no doubt that the largest factor motivating foreigners to learn the Japanese language today is the appeal of Japanese anime and manga. It should also be added that there is an ever growing interest in Japanese girls’ fashion, which revolves around the keyword kawaii (cute).

Such keen interest in Japanese pop culture is being exhibited not just in developed or neighboring countries, in which we can assume people have easy access to relevant information. Young people expressing their love for Japanese anime and manga are growing in number in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East as well as in the Mekong region, including Myanmar and Laos.

Why do Japanese anime and manga attract so many young people around the world? This is a difficult question, but one possible answer is their diversity and universality. Born out of long and fierce competition, the work of Japanese pop culture artists has acquired an appeal not only for children but also for full-grown adults.

The popularity of Japanese anime and manga goes far beyond what one might imagine. There was one occasion on which a Japanese expert was set aback when he gave a lecture in Italy. When he asked the audience whether they liked Japanese anime, a student from Rome responded in a matter-of-fact way, “Professor, we have grown up with Japanese anime!” In the world of the Internet, you can sense that people around the world are connected via their love and passion for Japanese pop culture. A country that moves and excites young people around the world with its continuous production of high-quality anime, manga and fashion – that is what Cool Japan is.

****************
AJISS-Commentary is an occasional op-ed type publication of The Association of Japanese Institutes of Strategic Studies (AJISS) consisting of three leading Japanese think tanks: Institute for International Policy Studies (IIPS), The Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA), and Research Institute for Peace and Security (RIPS).

http://www.jiia.or.jp/en/commentary/

ENDS

Saturday Tangent: How the US deals with Arizona racial profiling: Federal lawsuits and Jon Stewart humor

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. We’ve recently been discussing racial profiling on this blog, comparing what’s happening in Arizona with new immigration laws vs what goes on as SOP in Japanese police law enforcement and gaijin harassment.

What’s interesting for me is how the US deals with it: They actually discuss it. First watch this Jon Stewart Daily Show excerpt (courtesy of Dave Spector) on the subject and then we’ll woolgather:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Latino 911!
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

So let’s recount the important differences apparent in this video:

1) In the US, they have not only a presidential administration making clear statements against racial profiling, but also a judiciary filing federal suit against errant state policy that would condone that. Imagine either of those happening in Japan.

2) In the US, the voices of minorities are actually being heard — and listened to — somewhere. Imagine THAT happening in Japan!

3) In the US, police training materials and the actual text of law enforcement are coming under scrutiny! Imagine… oh you get the idea.

4) In the US, they have things such as satire and sarcasm to enable people to take this apart with the very powerful tool of humor, and an investigative media that can hold people accountable for what they say and do! (God bless the Daily Show!)

These are some things that societies with healthier civil societies have at their disposal for analysis and debate.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

NYT guest column on racial profiling of Japanese for “looking too tall and dark”. Just like arrest of “foreign-looking” Japanese back in 2006.

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. Here we have a good opinion piece in the NYT (the overseas paper the GOJ takes most seriously) from a Japanese (not a NJ, so there’s no possible excuse of a “cultural misunderstanding”) who looks suspicious to Japanese police simply because she is taller and darker than average. So she gets zapped for racial profiling (a word, as she acknowledges, is not in common currency in nihongo). Well, good thing she didn’t get arrested for looking “too foreign” and not having a Gaijin Card, which happened back in February 2006 (article enclosed below).

As I have said on numerous occasions, racial profiling by the NPA is a serious problem, as it will increasingly single out and multiethnic Japanese as well. I am waiting one day to get leaked a copy of the NPA police training manuals (not available to the public) which cover this sort of activity and scrutinize them for latent racist attitudes (we’ve already seen plenty of other racism in print by the Japanese police, see for example here, here, and here). But scrutiny is one thing the NPA consistently avoids. So this is what happens — and victims have to take it to outside media to get any attention. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Too Tall for Japan?
The New York Times, July 8, 2010, Courtesy lots of people
By KUMIKO MAKIHARA

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/08/opinion/08iht-edkumiko.html?_r=1&hpw

TOKYO — Racial profiling had never struck me as a personal issue. I am a Japanese woman living in Japan after all, where less than 2 percent of the population is foreign. And even among that sliver of a share, the majority is Asian. How could racial profiling exist if most everyone looks the same?

I was awakened from such naïveté a few years ago when I started getting pulled aside by police, apparently to see if I was an illegal immigrant. On three occasions, officers sidled up to me at busy train stations, flashing their badges and asking me where I was headed. When they concluded I was a Japanese national, they sent me on my way.

Earlier this year, two officers approached me as I was exiting Tokyo Station and asked to see an ID and the contents of my purse. I refused their repeated requests while demanding an explanation until one of the officers finally told me, “You are tall and dark-colored and look like a foreigner.” He then added, “Every day we catch four to five overstays this way,” referring to immigrants with expired visas.

I was stunned by the officer’s blatant profiling of me based on what I perceive as my only slightly unusual features: a bit taller than average height and a shade of a sun tan. But microscopic vision for sniffing out differences is a common trait among the Japanese who are often uncomfortable with dealings outside of their familiar zones.

The officers who approached me on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant were presumably acting on Japan’s Police Duties Execution Law. It states: “A police officer may stop and question any person who has reasonable ground to be suspected of having committed or being about to commit a crime.”

The Japanese law is broader than the controversial legislation in the U.S. state of Arizona that goes into effect this month, which allows police to confirm someone’s immigration status only after stopping the person on other grounds. “The same thing as in Arizona has been in place in Japan for a long time without much criticism,” says my cousin and lawyer Genichi Yamaguchi.

Most Japanese are unaware of these racially motivated checks. But even if they knew about them, it is questionable how much they would object. Profiling is a common practice here with casual exchanging of personal information. The details collected from a business card or queries such as asking where one attended university or what blood type one is serve as clues to allow people to predict how each party will behave.

As a single parent who has lived overseas and is blood type A, I am stereotyped as hard-nosed enough to have decided to go it alone, blithe from surviving dealings with all sorts of people and having the seriousness attributed in popular beliefs here to people of my blood group.

Such typecasting takes on racist overtones when applied to foreigners. “Chinese don’t know train manners,” I overheard a man say recently in response to a Chinese woman talking loudly on her cellphone in the compartment. On a bus tour of the Western city of Nara, several Japanese passengers complained that the Filipinos aboard who had trouble keeping up with the rushed sightseeing pace “don’t understand ‘dantai kodo,”’ or group behavior. When one of the Filipinos went to the restroom, a Japanese woman grumbled that she should have held back in deference to the group schedule. Such intolerance — when the government is on a major campaign to increase tourism to the country, and just this month eased visa application requirements for Chinese visitors.

There are even disturbing signs that Japanese increasingly don’t want to bother trying to understand the unfamiliar territory beyond their borders. Only one student from Japan entered Harvard University’s freshman class last year, bringing the total number of full-time Japanese undergraduates to five, compared to a total of 36 from China and 42 from South Korea.

A 2007 Web-based survey by the Nomura Research Institute revealed a growing reluctance to live overseas among younger Japanese. While 33 percent of men and 23.9 percent of women in their 60s and older said they would have some aversion to either themselves or their spouses going to work overseas, the share of people with that sentiment reached 42.9 percent and 38.9 percent respectively for people in their 20s.

The next time a police officer stops me, I plan to explain that suspecting me of a crime simply because I look foreign constitutes racial profiling. Only there is no term for the practice in the Japanese language.

Kumiko Makihara is a writer and translator living in Tokyo.

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

This has happened before, only worse for the victim:

<誤認逮捕>旅券不携帯で逮捕の女性、実は日本人 埼玉

( 2006年02月28日 00時37分 )
毎日新聞社 Courtesy of Kaoru

埼玉県警川口署は27日、入管法違反容疑(旅券不携帯)で逮捕した女性(28)が実は同県川口市在住の日本人だったと分かり、釈放したと発表し た。女性が言葉を発せず、容姿などから外国人と判断したという。

同署によると、25日午後7時40分ごろ、川口市内の路上を歩いていた女性にパトロール中の署員3人が職務質問。署員は女性の容姿が東南アジア出 身者に似ており、名前や国籍を尋ねたところ、小さな声で「日本人です」と言ったきり何も話さなくなったため、署に任意同行した。女性は署でも日本語の質問 に対し無言を通したため、同署は「外国人」と判断。パスポートの不所持を確かめて同容疑で逮捕した。

女性は逮捕後に家族の名前を紙に書き、母親に確認すると娘と分かって誤認逮捕が判明した。母親は「娘は知らない人とは話をしない性格」と話してい たという。

金川智署長は「女性には大変迷惑をかけた。今後指導を徹底し、再発防止に努める」としている。【村上尊一】

Police erroneously arrest ‘Asian-looking’ Japanese woman on immigration law breach

Mainichi Shinbun Tuesday, February 28, 2006 at 07:01 EST

SAITAMA — The Saitama prefectural police on Monday arrested a Japanese woman on suspicion of violating the immigration law but later released her after discovering that she was a Japanese national, police officials said.

The police had judged that the unemployed woman, 28, was not Japanese because she looked like a foreigner of Asian descent and that she carried an envelope written in Portuguese, the officials said. The woman was questioned by a policeman around 7:40 p.m. on Saturday in Kawaguchi. She told the officer that she was Japanese, but stopped answering further questions, the officials said. The woman’s family said she is not good at speaking with strangers.

ENDS

JET Programme on GOJ chopping block: Appeal from JQ Magazine and JETAA in NYC

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 with permission.  Comment from me below.

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

From: magazine@jetaany.org
Subject: URGENT: JET Programme in Danger – An Impassioned Request for your Help
Date: July 6, 2010 4:59:39 AM JST
To: debito@debito.org

Dear Mr. Arudou:

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Justin Tedaldi, and I am the editor of JQ Magazine New York, a publication of the JET Programme Alumni Association of America’s New York Chapter. I also write about Japanese culture in New York for Examiner.com. I lived in Kobe City for about two years, and my first work experience out of school was as a coordinator for international relations with the JET Programme.

I’m a longtime follower of your site (over ten years), and I would like to ask your help on behalf of all the JETs worldwide. As part of Japan’s efforts to grapple with its massive public debt, the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Program may be cut. Soon after coming into power, the new government launched a high profile effort to expose and cut wasteful spending. In May 2010, the JET Program and CLAIR came up for review, and during the course of an hourlong hearing, the 11-member panel criticized JET, ruling unanimously that a comprehensive examination should be undertaken to see if it should be pared back or eliminated altogether. The number of JET participants has already been cut back by almost 30 percent from the peak in 2002, but this is the most direct threat that the program has faced in its 23-year history.

We are asking JET Program participants past and present, as well as other friends of the program to speak out and petition the Japanese government to reconsider the cuts. Please sign this petition in support of the grassroots cultural exchange the JET Program has fostered and write directly to the Japanese government explaining the positive impact the Program has made in your life and that of your adopted Japanese community.

http://www.change.org/petitions/view/save_the_jet_program

Any effort you can make to pass along the petition link below or include as a posting on your site would be most appreciated. I am also open to e-mail interviews for the Examiner if you would like to discuss this further.

Thank you for your attention, and please let me know if you have any other questions.

Best regards,

Justin Tedaldi
Editor
JQ Magazine New York
http://jetaany.org/magazine

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

To: uschapters@yahoogroups.com; aadelegates@yahoogroups.com
From: president@jetaany.org
Date: Mon, 5 Jul 2010 12:21:09 -0700
Subject: [uschapters] Save JET and JETAA – Sign the Petition

Mina-sama:

As you recently were notified, the JET Program and JETAA are on the chopping block. More detail can be found at the link below.

In addition to sending your anecdotes and JET Return On Investment stories/videos to Steven Horowitz at stevenwaseda@jetwit.com, please sign the petition below to demonstrate your support. This is for anyone to sign, so please forward to your friends and family to demonstrate the hundreds of thousands of people that have been positively impacted by these meaningful programs. Thank you for your support.

http://www.change.org/petitions/view/save_the_jet_program

Sincerely,
Megan Miller Yoo
President, JETAANY

APPEAL ENDS

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

COMMENT: I have of course written about JET in the past:
http://www.debito.org/?p=294
And here:
http://www.debito.org/HAJETspeech.html

In sum, although I have never been a JET myself, I am a fan of the JET Programme. The program has its flaws, but overall its aim, of ameliorating insular tendencies within Japanese society, is an earnest and genuine one. I would be sad to see JET go, as its loss would be a detriment to Japan’s inevitable future as a multicultural society.

Sign the online petition if you want. I have. What are other people’s thoughts and experiences about JET? Is it fat to be cut from the budget, or an indispensable part of Japanese intercultural education? Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UPDATE: I just remembered, I did a paper on JET’s goals way back when. You can read the full text of it here.

研究ノート

INTERNATIONALIZATION THROUGH TRANSPLANT EDUCATORS:
THE JET PROGRAMME PART ONE
By David C. Aldwinckle, Assistant Professor
Faculty of Liberal Arts, Hokkaido Information University
Hokkaido Jouhou Daigaku Kiyou
Vol 11, Issue 1, September, 1999


Keywords: Internationalization, Public Policy in Japanese Education, The JET Programme

SUMMARY

Internationalization, or kokusaika, has become a buzzword in Japan through its attempts to become an outward-looking, “normal” country in international circles. To this end, the Japanese government over the past ten years has sponsored the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, which offers educational internships of one to three years for young college graduates from English-speaking countries. These teachers, acting as assistants to native Japanese English teachers in Japan’s smaller-town junior and senior high schools, have been expressly charged with increasing Japanese contact with foreign countries at the local level. As the first in a series, this research paper will seek to outline the structure of JET, critique its goals, and briefly focus upon its operations in one locale, Hokkaido, as a means of case study.
http://www.debito.org/JETjohodaikiyo999.html

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column July 6, 2010: “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry”: how government agencies want NJ tourists yet are accessories to excluding them

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justbecauseicon.jpg

The Japan Times, Tuesday, July 6, 2010
JUST BE CAUSE
Japan’s hostile hosteling industry
By DEBITO ARUDOU
Draft eleven with links to sources and alternate conclusion

Online version at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100706ad.html

As you may know, Japan has no national civil or criminal legislation outlawing and punishing racial discrimination, meaning businesses with “Japanese only” signs aren’t doing anything illegal.

Problem is, I’m not sure it would matter if such a law existed.

To illustrate, consider one business sector that — technically — cannot exclude customers by race or nationality: hotels. Article 5 of Japan’s Hotel Management Law (ryokan gyoho, or HML) says that licensed accommodations cannot refuse service unless 1) rooms are full, 2) there is a threat of contagious disease, or 3) there is a issue of “public morals” (as in shooting porno movies there, etc.).

SOURCEhttp://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#refusedhotel

However, as discussed here last week (“No need to know the law, but you must obey it,” Zeit Gist, June 29), the law in Japan can be a mere technicality.

The HML is frequently ignored. Quick online searches (try Rakuten or Jalan) soon uncover hotels either outright refusing non-Japanese (NJ) lodgers, or, more circumspectly, those that say, “We don’t take reservations from NJ without addresses in Japan” (which is still unlawful).

SOURCE:  Jalan:  (recently amended to say “NJ without domestic contact addresses” refused)

Rakuten:  (now amended to say “no bookings from overseas”)

Still excluding:  http://travel.rakuten.co.jp/HOTEL/18497/18497_std.html

When I call these hotels and ask why they feel the need to exclude (it’s my hobby), their justifications range from the unprofessional to the cowardly.

Most claim they can’t provide sufficient service in English (as if that’s all that NJ can speak), so naturally it follows that they won’t provide NJ with any service at all. Or they say they have no Western-style beds (I wonder if they worry about people using chopsticks too?).

More clever managers claim “safety” (the trump card in Japanese culture), as in: “In case of an emergency, how can we communicate with NJ effectively to get them out of a burning building?” (When I ask how they would deal with blind or deaf Japanese customers, they become markedly less clever.)

The nasty managers hiss that NJ steal hotel goods or cause trouble for other guests, thus making it a crime issue. (After all, Japanese guests never get drunk and rowdy, or “permanently borrow” hotel amenities themselves, right?)

This attitude in Japanese hotels is surprisingly widespread. According to a 2008 government survey, 27 percent of them said they didn’t want any NJ customers at all.

SOURCEhttp://www.debito.org/?p=1940

Some might claim this is no big deal. After all, you could go someplace else, and why stay at a place that doesn’t want you there anyway? At least one columnist might claim that culturally insensitive NJ deserve to be excluded because some of them have been bad guests.

Fortunately, these apologist fringe opinions do limited damage. However, when a government agency allows — even promotes — the systematic exclusion of NJ clients, we have a real problem with the rule of law in Japan.

Consider the curious case of the Fukushima Prefectural Tourist Association ( www.tif.ne.jp ). In September 2007, I was notified that their English site was offering member hotels two preset options for “acceptance of foreigners” and “admittance of foreigners” (whatever that difference may be). Of the 142 hotels then listed, 35 chose not to accept or admit NJ customers.

SOURCE: http://www.debito.org/?p=1941

I contacted FPTA and asked about the unlawfulness. A month later their reply was they had advised all 35 hotels that they really, really oughta stop that — although not all of them would. For its part, FPTA said it would remove the site’s “confusing” preset options, but it could not force hotels to repeal their exclusionary rules — FPTA is not a law enforcement agency, y’know. I asked if FPTA would at least delist those hotels, and got the standard “we’ll take it under advisement.”

Case closed. Or so I thought. I was doing some followup research last December and discovered that even after two years, FPTA still had the option to exclude on their Japanese Web site. And now nine times more hotels — 318 — were advertised as refusing NJ (gaikokujin no ukeire: fuka).

SOURCE: http://www.debito.org/?p=5619

I put the issue up on Debito.org, and several concerned readers immediately contacted FPTA to advise them their wording was offensive and unlawful. Within hours, FPTA amended it to “no foreign language service available” (gaikokugo taio: fuka).

This sounds like progress, but the mystery remains: Why didn’t FPTA come up with this wording in Japanese on its own?

Moreover, unlike the Japanese site, FPTA’s English site had stopped advertising that NJ were being refused at all. So instead of fixing the problem, FPTA made it invisible for NJ who can’t read Japanese.

Furthermore, when researching this article last month, I discovered FPTA had revamped its site to make it more multilingual (with Korean and two Chinese dialects, as well as English). However, the multilingual site buttons for searching accommodations led to dead links (the Japanese links, however, worked just fine).

On May 24, a Mr. Azuma, head of FPTA’s Tourism Department, told me it was taking a while to reword things properly. I asked if the past two years plus six months was insufficient. Miraculously, in time for this article, the foreign-language links are now fixed, and no more excluders can be found on the site.

However, the underlying problem has still not been fixed. Another NJ recently alerted me to the fact that the only hotel in Futaba town, Fukushima Prefecture, refused him entry on May 2. He had made the mistake of going up alone to the front desk and asking in Japanese if he could have a room. Management claimed none were available.

Suspicious, he walked outside and had his Japanese wife phone the hotel from the parking lot. Presto! A twin room was procured. She walked in, got the key, and all was sparkly.

When I phoned the hotel myself to confirm this story, the manager claimed that a room had just happened to open up right after my friend left. Amazing what coincidences happen, especially when this hotel — also featured on the FPTA Web site — advertises that they “can’t offer services in foreign languages” (or, it seems, even if a foreigner speaks a nonforeign language).

SOURCES: here and here

Let’s connect some dots: We have public policies working at cross-purposes. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism wants more NJ to visit and pump money into our economy, with Japan relaxing visa requirements for mainland Chinese tourists as of July 1. Yet the Ministry of Justice and other law enforcement agencies just want to keep policing NJ, and that includes deputizing hotels. This is why since 2005 they’ve been demanding hotels photocopy all NJ passports at check-in — again, unlawful (Zeit Gists, Mar. 8 and Oct. 18, 2005).

Of course, this assumes that anyone pays attention to the laws at all.

Japan’s lack of legal support for hapless NJ tourists (not to mention residents) — who face unfettered exclusionism precisely where the HML says they shouldn’t — are thus finding local government bodies conspiring against them.

SOURCES: http://www.debito.org/japantimes030805.html
http://www.debito.org/japantimes101805.html

Brains cooked yet? Now get a load of this:

As of June 1, the Toyoko Inn chain, already saddled with a history of poor treatment of NJ and handicapped customers, opened up a “Chinese only” hotel in Sapporo. When I called there to confirm, the cheery clerk said yes, only Chinese could stay there. Other NJ — and even Japanese — would be refused reservations!

I asked if this wasn’t of questionable legality. She laughed and said, “It probably is.” But she wasn’t calling it out. Nor was anyone else. Several articles appeared in the Japanese media about this “exclusively Chinese hotel,” and none of them raised any qualms about the legal precedents being set.

SOURCES:  Toyoko’s history: http://www.debito.org/olafongaijincarding.html
and http://www.debito.org/?p=797
and http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20060128a1.html
Sapporo Chinese Only: http://www.debito.org/?p=6864

So what’s next? More hotels segregated by nationality? Separate floors within hotels reserved for Chinese, Japanese and garden-variety gaijin? What happens to guests with international marriages and multiethnic families? Are we witnessing the Balkanization of Japan’s hosteling industry?

SOURCEhttp://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hbo1xSifyRFYI3LW95Zfu_4u-drwD9GKOE8G0

Folks, it’s not difficult to resolve this situation. Follow the rule of law. You find a hotel violating the HML, you suspend its operating license until they stop, like the Kumamoto prefectural government did in 2004 to a hotel excluding former Hansen’s disease patients.

SOURCEhttp://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20040217a3.html

Oh wait — the ex-Hansen’s patients were Japanese, so they deserve to have their legal rights protected. It sucks to be NJ: The laws, such as they are, don’t apply to you anyway — if they are applied at all. Yokoso Japan.

ALTERNATIVE CONCLUSION (not chosen):

Oh wait — the ex-Hansen’s patients were Japanese, so they deserve to have their legal rights protected.

Sucks to be NJ: Let NJ in our orderly society, and they cause so much confusion that people don’t even feel the need to obey the law anymore. Now that even Japanese are being excluded, no doubt NJ will be blamed for disrupting the “wa” once again. Yōkoso Japan.

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 on this issue to community@japantimes.co.jp

Japan Times & Kyodo: Foreign “trainees” dying at rate of two to three a month, takes two years for one to be declared “from overwork” (karoushi), more than a quarter from “unknown causes”

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. First the articles, then my comments:

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

27 foreign trainees died in Japan in FY 2009
Japan Today/Kyodo News Tuesday 06th July 2010, 06:44 AM JST, Courtesy of Yokohama John

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/27-foreign-trainees-died-in-japan-in-fy-2009

TOKYO Twenty-seven foreign nationals who came to Japan for employment under a government-authorized training program died in fiscal 2009, the second worst figure on record, government officials said Monday. Most of the workers who died in the year that ended in March were in their 20s to 30s, officials of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

Of the 27, nine died of brain or heart diseases, four died while working, three died by suicide, three died in bicycle accidents and the remainder died from unknown causes, the officials said.

By country, 21 came from China, three from Vietnam, two from the Philippines and one from Indonesia, they said.

The number was the second largest, following the 35 foreign nationals who died in fiscal 2008. This could trigger moves toward revising the government program, first launched in 1993, as a number of irregular practices have recently been observed, such as having foreign trainees work for long hours with below-minimum wages.

Shoichi Ibusuki, a lawyer who is an expert on the issue, said, ‘‘Many trainees who died of brain or heart diseases could have actually died from overwork, while those who killed themselves could have committed suicide induced by overwork.’’
ENDS
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT: Taste the ironies in this article. First, how in 2009, the death of 27 “Trainees” (i.e. people brought over by the GOJ who as people allegedly “in occupational training” don’t qualify as “workers” (roudousha) entitled to labor law protections) is only the SECOND worst figure on record. Second, how we have close to a third (as in eight NJ) of the total dying of “unknown causes” (as if that’s a sufficient explanation; don’t they have autopsies in Japan to fix that? Oh wait, not always.) Third, how about the stunning ignorance of the sentence, “a number of irregular practices have recently been observed, such as having foreign trainees work for long hours with below-minimum wages”. If the Kyodo reporter had bothered to do research of his media databases, he’d realize it’s hardly “recent” at all. And it’s not being fixed, despite official condemnation in 2006 of the visa regime as “a swindle” and death after death (at a rate two to three per month) racking up. Karoushi was a big media event way back when when Japanese were dying of it. Less so it seems when NJ are croaking from it.

Now for the second article (excerpt):

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

‘Karoshi’ claims first foreign trainee
The Japan Times, Saturday, July 3, 2010, Courtesy of JK

MITO, Ibaraki Pref. (Kyodo) A labor office in Ibaraki Prefecture will acknowledge that a Chinese national working as an intern at a local firm under a government-authorized training program died from overwork in 2008, marking the first foreign trainee “karoshi” death from overwork, sources said Friday.

The male trainee, Jiang Xiaodong, had worked since 2005 at Fuji Denka Kogyo, a metal processing firm in the city of Itako, Ibaraki Prefecture, but died of cardiac arrest in June 2008 in company housing at age 31.

He worked more than 100 hours overtime in his last month, the Kashima labor standards inspection office said.

Jiang’s relatives are separately claiming he worked more than 150 hours overtime in his second year and after. However, he was only given two days off in a month, they claimed.

According to a group of lawyers trying to raise the issue of the trainee program’s abuse by many employers as a source of cheap labor, this will be the first intern karoshi. The lawyers also accuse the government of having lax oversight of trainee working conditions.

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100703a4.html
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT CONTINUED: So it only took about two years for “a labor office” to admit that a NJ “trainee” had been worked to death, given the hours he worked that were a part of the record? Gee whiz, what Sherlocking! Lax oversight indeed. How many more people have to die before this exploitative and even deadly system is done away with? Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Japan Times: LDP & rightists still clinging to anti NJ PR Suffrage, even though it’s not an issue in this election

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.  We haven’t talked too much about the upcoming July election (mainly because it’s not that big a deal, what compared with the seiken koutai election last August) for the Upper House, but here’s a little article that is germane to Debito.org:  The LDP and other rightists are still playing up the NJ PR Suffrage Issue, even though it’s not even a platform plank in this election (the DPJ Manifesto does not mention it this time) in a rather lame (and xenophobic) attempt to gather votes.  Nothing quite like bashing a small, disenfranchised minority to make yourself look powerful and worthy of governance.  Excerpt follows.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Japan Times Saturday, July 3, 2010, courtesy of JK

CHUBU CONNECTION
Foreigner suffrage, separate surnames stir passions in poll runup

Whether to grant permanent foreign residents voting rights for local-level elections and allow married couples to keep their respective surnames have become contentious issues ahead of the July 11 Upper House election.

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan, which advocates the introduction of foreigner suffrage and separate surnames for married couples if desired, faces strong opposition from conservatives in the Liberal Democratic Party and small parties, including its own ruling bloc partner.

Aichi Prefecture voters, however, are puzzled by the conservatives’ fervor because the topics have yet to stir national debate…

The LDP and small conservative parties set out to oppose the ideas in their platforms, vying with the DPJ, which has liberal views on these issues. Some homemakers, who used to be the last to become involved in politics, now speak to people at the weekly rally of Inoue’s group held at Kanayama Station in Nagoya.

“The pride of this country that has been built up by the Yamato (Japanese) race must be passed down to our children, otherwise there will be no future for the country,” said Masahito Fujikawa, 49, an LDP-backed candidate in the Aichi electoral district.

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100703cc.html

Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out tomorrow Tues July 6, on Japan’s unlawfully exclusionary hotel industry

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Just to let you know, tomorrow Tues July 6 (Weds in the provinces) sees my 29th Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column.

This time it’s a double-length column on Japan’s hostile hosteling industry, where even when a law expressly states under what conditions hotels can exclude customers (and these conditions do not include race or nationality), the law gets ignored as hotels bar foreigners from entry.  Furthermore, we have at least one regional government tourism agency expressly promoting hotels which bar or restrict NJ customers.  When you even have a government agency being unlawful, you know we have a serious problem with the rule of law in Japan.

Get a copy of my column tomorrow at newsstands.  Thanks for reading!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UPDATE:  Here’s a link to it:

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100706ad.html

Sunday Tangent: CNN: Activist Junichi Sato on International Whaling Commission corruption and GOJ/NPA collusion

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Hi Blog.  For a Sunday Tangent, here is a hard-hitting article (thanks CNN) showing how activism against a corrupt but entrenched system gets treated:  Detention and interrogation of activists, possible sentencing under criminal law, and international bodies turning a blind eye to their own mandate.  Lucky for the author (and us) he is out on bail so he could write this.  He wouldn’t be bailed if he were NJ.  More on the IWC’s corruption in documentary The Cove — yet another reason why the bully boys who target people’s families (yet don’t get arrested for their “activism”) don’t want you to see it.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

IWC’s shame: Japan’s whale slaughter
By Junichi Sato, Special to CNN
CNN.com June 25, 2010 courtesy of SS

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/06/24/sato.iwc.whales/?fbid=c0Tcz4-EM8-

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Junichi Sato, colleague face charges after finding corruption in Japan’s whaling industry
Sato: He and Toru Suzuki were held, questioned, often taped to chairs, for 23 days
Sato says Japan uses guise of “scientific research” to slaughter whales
Sato: As IWC does nothing, Iceland, Norway and Japan kill 30,000 whales
Editor’s note: Junichi Sato is the Greenpeace Japan program director, overseeing advocacy efforts for the international environmental organization’s Japanese branch.

(CNN) — After just two days of closed-door negotiations, the leaders who had gathered at the International Whaling Commission in Agadir, Morocco, announced no agreement was reached on the IWC chair’s proposal to improve whale conservation.

Greenpeace did not support the proposal, but we had hoped governments would change it to become an agreement to end whaling, not a recipe for continuing it.

It is particularly disappointing to me, because my professional commitment to end the whale hunt in my country of Japan — which led to the exposure of an embezzlement scandal at the heart of the whaling industry — has come at significant personal cost.

The investigation I conducted with my colleague, Toru Suzuki, led to our arrests in front of banks of media outlets who had been told about it in advance.

The homes of Greenpeace office and staff members were raided. Seventy-five police officers were deployed to handcuff two peaceful activists. We were held without charge for 23 days; questioned for up to 10 hours a day while tied to chairs and without a lawyer present. We are now out on bail awaiting verdict and sentencing, expected in early September.

If I can risk my future to bring the fraudulent Japanese hunt to an end, if whaling whistle-blowers are prepared to risk their lives to expose the corruption, how can it be that the IWC has yet again failed to take the political risk to pressure my government to end the scientific whaling sham?

Since the IWC’s moratorium on commercial whaling came into force in 1986, Japan has continued to hunt whales under the guise of “scientific research,” making a mockery of the moratorium. By claiming that slaughtering thousands of whales, in waters designated a whale sanctuary no less, is a scientific experiment needed to understand whales, Japan has violated the spirit and intention of the moratorium as well as the Southern Ocean Whaling Sanctuary.

Iceland and Norway have simply ignored the moratorium. Those two nations, together with Japan, have killed more than 30,000 whales since then. I have always opposed my country’s hunt, which is why I decided to join Greenpeace. While it may be an emotionally charged political issue outside Japan, domestically it barely causes a political ripple. In 2006, Greenpeace decided to focus the bulk of its anti-whaling campaign in Japan to bring the issue home.

Wholly funded by Japanese taxpayers, the whaling program has produced no peer-reviewed scientific research and has been repeatedly told by the IWC that the so-called research is not needed or wanted. All it has produced is a massive bill for the taxpayers and tons of surplus whale meat that the Japanese public does not want to eat. It has also produced endless rumors and allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

Two years ago, following a tip from three former whalers turned whistle-blowers, my colleagues at Greenpeace Japan and I began a public interest investigation and discovered that indeed, corruption runs deep.

All three whalers claimed that whale meat was routinely embezzled, with the full knowledge of government and whaling fleet operator officials. Greenpeace eventually intercepted one of nearly 100 suspicious boxes coming off the ships.

Although its contents were labeled as cardboard, 23.5 kilograms of prime whale meat were inside, destined for a private address.

On May 15, 2008, we handed over the box to the authorities, with additional evidence of the crime. Initially the Tokyo district prosecutor began to investigate. But we were eventually charged with trespass and theft of the whale meat, valued at nearly 60,000 yen (about $550 at the time). We face from 18 months up to 10 years in jail for exposing the truth behind an industry that is financially, morally and scientifically bankrupt.

The U.N.’s Human Rights Council on Arbitary Detention has ruled that our human rights have been breached and the prosecution is politically motivated. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed her concern about our case. Amnesty International, Transparency International, two Nobel Peace Prize laureates, countless international legal experts, politicians and more than half a million individuals have raised their voices in opposition to the prosecution.

We will be tried and sentenced in September, more than two years after we first exposed the corruption. But the scandal does not end there. Just last week, more allegations emerged that Japan engages in vote-buying and bribery to keep its whaling fleet in the water.
But the truth is that Japan’s whaling program relies on secrecy and corruption to stay afloat.

And yet, the IWC continues to close its doors and ears to the reality of Japan’s commercial whaling. I came to Morocco in the hope that this, the International Year of Biodiversity, could mean an end to all commercial whaling, but I leave knowing that governments are only interested in taking strong public positions on whales but not in taking action to save them, not even behind closed doors.

Mine and Toru’s political prosecution is a clear sign that Japan has no intention of easily letting go of its debt-ridden whaling program. There are too many vested interests inside the government. That is not surprising. What is more disappointing is that those vested interests have gone unchallenged by the IWC, the body set up to conserve whales.

It may be surprising that in this day and age, and given the huge public interest in the issue, conversations about saving whales are held in secret. But the truth is that Japan’s whaling program relies on secrecy and corruption to stay afloat.

After two years of negotiations, this year’s meeting could have been an opportunity for the IWC to actually move forward and end the status quo. But its collective failure means that 24 years after the establishment of the moratorium on commercial whaling, Japan, Iceland and Norway will continue again to hunt whales with impunity.

I challenge the commission to throw open its doors and shine a spotlight on the corruption that is so evident, investigate all the allegations affecting the IWC that have been laid clearly before it on numerous occasions and realize that it is not only Japan’s international reputation that has been tainted by the failure in Agadir.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Junichi Sato.

ENDS

IMADR Connect Magazine article on recent UN visit by High Commissioner of Human Rights to Japan May 2010

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Hi Blog.  Here is NGO International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), based in Tokyo, with their periodical in English on the issue.  They inter alia are the group who keeps bringing over the UN for briefings (here and here), and have kept various committees appraised of GOJ progress (or mostly lack thereof), and answered GOJ benkai justifying inaction re human rights (example here).  Their May 2010 edition talks about the UN’s May 14 visit to hear cases of discrimination in Japan.  FYI.  Click on any image to expand in browser.  Courtesy of IMADR.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

ends

DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JULY 1, 2010

DEBITO.ORG PODCAST

debitopodcast

In this podcast:

  1. Japan Times ZEIT GIST Community Page Article 46, “Punishing Foreigners, Exonerating Japanese”, on growing evidence of judicial double standards towards NJ (March 24, 2009)
  2. Japan Times ZEIT GIST Community Page Article 47/JUST BE CAUSE Column 14, “Golden parachutes for Nikkei only mark failure of race-based policy”, on the failure of Japan’s labor visa policies, and the repatriation bribe of the Nikkei (April 7, 2009)

Plus interim excerpts from Tangerine Dream “White Eagle” and concluding with Duran Duran’s “Breath After Breath” (Wedding Album, 1993).

26 minutes.  Enjoy!

J protesters of “The Cove” lose injunction in Yokohama District Court, cannot stop screenings, so they target people’s homes for intimidation

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Hi Blog.  News re “The Cove” documentary:  The Japanese judiciary last week ruled that protestors are out of line by protesting at movie theaters and trying to stop the showing of the film.  So the bully boys are practicing their sound-trucking tactics at people’s homes, pressuring their families and neighbors to get them to stop screenings.

We’ve had one critic on this blog call this “good old fashioned activism“, but we for one during the Otaru Onsens Case (or any case we’ve taken up) have never gone to “Japanese Only” business-owners’ homes with megaphones, harassed their mothers, or made a scene in front of their neighbors.  Our tactics were raising the debate in the media, negotiating with decisionmakers and people involved, and taking the issue before intermediaries.  All above board.  That proved very time-consuming and often ineffectual outside of a courtroom (and even then).  Is this intimidation and bullying the best “activism” in Japan?  Perhaps effective, it’s just not our style.  And if we had used these tactics, I’m sure they would have engendered great criticism and damaged our cause.  But some shame-practitioners are shameless themselves.  As are some critics, it seems.  Read on.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Court bans protests over documentary ‘The Cove’
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20100625p2g00m0dm026000c.html
(Mainichi Japan) June 25, 2010

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) — The Yokohama District Court has banned a Tokyo civic group from staging protests around a movie theater in Yokohama that plans to screen the Oscar-winning U.S. documentary “The Cove” about a controversial dolphin hunt in Japan, its Japanese distributor said Friday.

The court decision on the injunction Thursday prohibits making loud speeches within a 100-meter radius of the movie theater and entering the movie theater without permission, the distributor Unplugged Inc. said.

As the movie theater is planning to screen the film from July 3, scores of people from the Tokyo group staged street protests around the theater on June 12. The theater applied to the court for an injunction to ban such protests.

The theater said it will show the movie as scheduled. The film, which was mostly shot in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, partly with hidden cameras, won the 2010 Academy Award for best documentary.

“The Cove” has drawn criticisms from some Japanese groups who claim that it is anti-Japanese. They have been intimidating theaters planning to show the film, leading three of the theaters in Tokyo and Osaka as well as universities in Tokyo to cancel the screenings.

The film will be screened at six movie theaters in Tokyo and five other Japanese cities from July 3, despite protests that caused earlier screenings to be canceled, the distributor said earlier.

The five other cities where the film will be screened are Osaka, Sendai, Yokohama, Kyoto and Hachinohe in Aomori Prefecture. They will be followed by cinemas in 16 other locations across Japan, including Hiroshima, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Okinawa.
(Mainichi Japan) June 25, 2010
ENDS

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「コーヴ」抗議の街宣禁止 横浜地裁が仮処分決定
2010/06/25 14:02 【共同通信】
http://www.47news.jp/CN/201006/CN2010062501000505.html

横浜地裁は25日までに、日本のイルカ漁を批判的に描いた米映画「ザ・コーヴ」を上映予定の横浜市の映画館「横浜ニューテアトル」に抗議活動をした東京都内の団体に対し、同館周辺での街宣活動などを禁じる仮処分決定をした。

配給会社アンプラグド(東京)によると、仮処分決定は24日付。映画館の半径100メートル以内で大声で演説することや、無許可で館内に立ち入ることを禁じている。

同館は7月3日からコーヴを上映予定だが、6月12日にこの団体から上映に抗議する数十人規模の街宣行為を受け、アンプラグドと協議して地裁に仮処分申請していた。

同社は「上映差し止めを求める抗議行動は悪質で、当然の決定。上映予定に変更はない」としている。

ENDS
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From: apps+mwmxywxr@facebookappmail.com
Subject: Successes and Setbacks
Date: July 1, 2010 12:18:05 PM JST

Bulletin from the cause: “The Cove” – Save Japan Dolphins
Posted By: Fonda Berosini
To: Members in “The Cove” – Save Japan Dolphins
Successes and Setbacks

Last week we had some important successes in Japan – several theater owners came forward and committed to show the film and we also won a key injunction in a Yokohama court against the group protesting the film. Unfortunately, the “protestors” are ramping up, employing their worst tactics to date.

This week they moved to the Yokohoma theater owner’s home, and when that didn’t work they moved on to his mother’s home:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsd85HxakUc&feature=related

As you can see, the woman is elderly. She has nothing to do with the distribution of the film. This is intimidation of the lowest order.

We tried to engage or critics – inviting them to participate in open forums, but they refused. Rather than discuss the issues they engage in highly aggressive bullying tactics to shut down the film. I personally believe they are being paid to protest and don’t really have a point of view. I don’t even think they care about Taiji. There only goal is to keep people from knowing the truth, no matter what it takes.

To this end it’s clear they – and whoever is funding them – aren’t giving up and our Japanese distributor is small with a very limited budget. Earth Island has been helping with promotion and security, but much more will be needed if we want to expand beyond these six theaters. We have 17 theaters on hold right now.

[…]
Thanks,
Ric O’Barry
Save Japan Dolphins

ENDS

FCCJ No.1 Shimbun & Jiji on Japanese police’s extralegal powers, and how that power corrupts

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Hi Blog.  Further exploring the theme of the Japanese police’s extralegal powers and how power corrupts, here are two articles outlining cases where the Japanese police can arrest people they find inconvenient.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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6都府県の殺人現場に張り紙=「未逮捕おめでとう」男書類送検―軽犯罪法違反容疑
2010年6月24日13時51分配信 時事通信 Courtesy of XX
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20100624-00000099-jij-soci
東京都世田谷区の一家4人殺害事件などの現場付近に、「未逮捕おめでとう」などと書いた張り紙をしたとして、警視庁捜査1課は24日までに、軽犯罪法違反容疑で、会社員の男(29)=群馬県邑楽町=を書類送検した。
同課によると、男は「小さいころから警察が嫌いだった」と述べ、容疑を認めている。埼玉、千葉、東京、愛知、大阪、兵庫各都府県で「15件ぐらいやった」とも話しているという。
送検容疑は今月初旬から中旬、一家4人殺害事件(2000年12月)と板橋区の資産家夫婦殺人放火事件(09年5月)、江東区の質店夫婦殺害事件(02年12月)の現場付近に、「故一家に捧ぐ」「犯人未逮捕一周年おめでとうございます」などと書かれた紙を張った疑い。
同課によると、板橋の現場には「あ」と書かれた紙と線香を「ハ」の字の形に並べ、笑い声を模したものもあった。

XX notes: So golly, apparently it actually is a crime to criticize the police. In this news item a man who does not like the police has been putting up notices near crime scenes that say “Congratulations on not catching the killer.” He was arrested and prosecutored for violating the Minor Crimes Act. Interestingly, the Minor Crimes Act does not seem to have any offenses which cover what he did. Minor technicality, I guess. Interesting law to read though – it is a crime to cut in line, among other things…
http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S23/S23HO039.html

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On the Wrong Side of the Law
by Julian Ryall
Japanese Police Branded as ‘Criminals’ by One of their Own

Number 1 Shimbun, June 2010
http://www.fccj.or.jp/node/5758

Haruhiko Kataoka is remarkably composed. For a man who has only recently been released from prison after completing a sentence of one year and four months for a crime that he is adamant he did not commit, his self-control is admirable. Even more so when one takes into account Kataoka’s insistence that he was framed by the police for the death of one of their officers, and that the legal system colluded in sending an innocent man to prison.

When he spoke at a press conference at the Club in April, there was no disguising Kataoka’s determination to continue the fight to clear his name.

There have been a number of high-profile cases that have gone against the police and judicial authorities in recent months – perhaps most famously the exoneration of Toshikazu Sugaya in March after he served more than 17 years in prison on the strength of inaccurate DNA evidence and a coerced confession to the sexual assault and murder of a girl aged 4 in Ashikaga in 1991. But Toshiro Semba, a former police officer who is supporting Kataoka’s claims, says these cases involving the Japanese police – which he describes as “a criminal organization” – are just the tip of the iceberg.

Kataoka’s head-on collision with the forces of law and order here began on the afternoon of May 3, 2006, as he was behind the wheel of a bus containing 22 students and three teachers on National Route 56 in Kochi City. After slowly pulling out of a restaurant parking lot – and observing all the appropriate safety precautions, he insists – a motorcycle being driven by a uniformed member of the Kochi Prefectural Police drove into the right side of his vehicle.

At the instant the accident happened, Kataoka says the bus was at a complete halt, a claim that he says has been backed up by the students and teachers aboard the vehicle as well as the principal of Niyodo Junior High School, who was in a passenger car following the bus.

As he tried to help the injured motorcyclist, another police officer who happened to be passing intervened and arrested Kataoka on the spot. When he reached the local police station, he was told that the officer on the motorcycle had died.

Taken back to the site of the accident later in the day, he was told to describe what had happened, but was not permitted to get out of the police patrol car. Kataoka says he could not even see the part of the road where the collision occurred. After being questioned for two days – and repeatedly told that the officer’s death was his fault – Kataoka was released.

“It was only eight months later that I was given an opportunity to explain what had happened, after I was summoned to the Kochi District Prosecutors’ office,” he said. “But the description of the accident they gave me then was beyond my belief.”

The prosecutors told Kataoka the accident had been entirely his fault due to his negligence to confirm that the road was clear, and that he was being charged with professional negligence resulting in death. To support their case, the police showed him photos of tire skid marks on the road.

“Since the bus was stopped, I told them, there was no way it could have made the skid marks,” he said. “It was then that I realized I was in a very problematic situation.

TESTIMONY DISMISSED

“From the moment the accident happened, the police had a scenario in which all the blame was put on me, and they didn’t even bother to carry out a proper on-site investigation.”

Kataoka had not given up the belief that his name would be cleared as, he reasoned, he would at least be able to explain what had really happened on Route 56 in court. He says he “had trust in Japan’s trial system.”

Instead, the testimony of the school principal and a teacher who had been aboard the bus were dismissed by Judge Yasushi Katata of the Kochi Local Court, on the grounds that their comments “lacked a realistic basis.” The testimony provided by the police officer who had been passing the scene of the accident on another motorcycle, however, was perfectly acceptable to the court because “testimony by a fellow officer is not necessarily unreliable.”

The court also accepted the tire skid marks put forward by the prosecution, which provided scientific analysis that the bus was moving at a speed of 14 kph while the motorcycle was traveling at between 30 kph and 40 kph. That contradicted another eye-witness statement that the police motorcycle was doing 60 kph. Judge Katata dismissed that suggestion as simply difficult to believe.

Kataoka was found guilty and sentenced to one year and four months in prison – with the judge taking a swipe at the defendant in his summing up by saying that he had failed to show feelings of remorse.

An appeal was immediately launched, with Kataoka’s lawyers carrying out exhaustive tests on an identical bus that revealed that even if the vehicle had been moving at the speed prosecutors insisted, it would only have left a skid mark measuring 30 cm long. Instead, police were presenting evidence of skid marks measuring 1 meter for the front right tire and 1.2 meters for the left tire. Kataoka says there are other discrepancies in the evidence, including the fact that the marks were not parallel. Fortunately for the police case, they claimed the marks had completely disappeared the day after the accident. And they refused to hand over the negatives of the photos of the skid marks, which could have been used to prove Kataoka’s innocence.

Even confronted with this evidence, the Takamatsu High Court dismissed Kataoka’s appeal.

“The judge said there was no reason to reopen the investigation,” Kataoka said. “He merely dismissed all the evidence that was unfavorable to the police and tried to cover up the criminal actions of the police against me.”

The Supreme Court reacted in the same way.

“I believe the courts have discarded the very principles of the judicial system and are only trying to cover up the wrongful actions of the police,” Kataoka said. “But I cannot allow that to happen. This case is not special at all and there have been many victims of criminal actions by the police and the failure of the powers that be to carry out full investigations.

“How can I put my faith in the justice system when the facts of a case are fabricated?”

JAPANESE MEDIA SLAMMED

And Kataoka reserves a healthy dose of scorn for the Japanese media.

“It is up to the media to follow up on cases such as this, but they looked away,” he said. “I was interviewed by the local media in Kochi, but no stories ever appeared.

“It is the responsibility of the Japanese media to report these events, but they cannot face up to the police,” he added.

Sitting alongside him, Semba nodded in agreement, adding that the system of kisha clubs “exists to conceal what is problematic for the police.” And he added that the media’s failure to report on these issues means that every day, more false charges are filed against innocent people.

Semba retired from the Ehime Prefectural Police in March, after 36 years on the force. At 24, he had been the youngest officer in the history of the prefectural force to be promoted to the rank of sergeant, but he says his refusal to falsify expenses forms that were funneled into a vast slush fund meant that he was never promoted again, was regularly transferred between unappealing assignments and had his handgun taken away on the grounds that he might kill himself or pose a danger to others.

“The Japanese police are a criminal organization and the senior officers of the force are all criminals,” Semba said. “Of all the companies and organizations in Japan, only the ‘yakuza’ and the police commit crimes on a daily basis. That includes building up slush funds and it was because I refused to participate in that that I stayed in the same position for all those years.”

Semba alleges that ¥40 billion is systematically racked up from falsified travel expenses and fictitious payments to individuals who assist the police in their investigations. Pretty much every officer in the country is involved in the scam, he claims, and they do not speak out because they are all too busy climbing the ranks to try to get their hands on a larger share of the pie.

“The money is spent by senior officer on purchasing cars, buying homes and entertainment,” he said, pointing to the example set by Takaji Kunimatsu, the former commissioner general of the National Police Agency who was shot by an unidentified assailant outside an apartment amid the Aum Shinrikyo cult investigations in 1995.

Even though Kunimatsu was on a civil servant’s wages, Semba alleges, he had two apartments worth a combined ¥80 million. And Semba says the gunman was able to get close enough to nearly kill him because Kunimatsu’s bodyguards had apparently been given the night off (for reasons that discretion prevents Number 1 Shimbun from mentioning).

“Japanese journalists all know this but they won’t report it,” Semba said.

Similarly, he said they know that the charges against Kataoka are based on falsified evidence, but the police are not held accountable.

Semba has written a series of books about police corruption and given 88 lectures around the country on his experiences, the vast majority of them while he was still a serving officer. He was never disciplined for his whistle-blowing, he believes, because the police do not want a court case in which all their dirty laundry can be aired in public.

Semba is still clearly a thorn in the side of the force – two plainclothes officers attended the press conference at the Club and took notes on what was said – and he half-joked that it is “a miracle that I am still alive.”

“If I was in a senior position in the police, I would definitely eliminate Semba,” he said. “I’m the police’s worst enemy. But it is those who have already given up their lives that are the strongest.” ❶

Julian Ryall is the Japan correspondent of The Daily Telegraph.

ENDS