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  • Archive for July, 2010

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 31st July 2010

    Here are two articles talking about 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.

    AP: 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.

    JT: 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.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Education, Gaiatsu, Japanese Government | 7 Comments »

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

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

    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?

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Japanese Government, Media, Tangents, 日本語 | 16 Comments »

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

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

    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.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Practical advice | 2 Comments »

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

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

    Japan Times: 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…

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Injustice, Labor issues, Lawsuits | 17 Comments »

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

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

    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.

    Posted in Human Rights, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 13 Comments »

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

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

    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.

    Yomiuri: 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…

    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.”…

    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.”

    Posted in Injustice, Japanese Government, Tangents | 11 Comments »

    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.)

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

    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:

    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)…

    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?

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Labor issues, 日本語 | 18 Comments »

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

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

    Kyodo reports 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.)

    Here’s the report being referred to in pdf format:
    http://www.npa.go.jp/sosikihanzai/kokusaisousa/kokusai6/rainichi.pdf

    Note how on the bottom of page two, they give a definition that the “gaikokujin” they’re referring to do not mean 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).

    Let’s see what the NPA spin is next time. Fascinatingly bad science.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Issho.org/Tony Laszlo, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 4 Comments »

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

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

    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.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, Ironies & Hypocrisies | 5 Comments »

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

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

    Excerpt: 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!…

    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.

    Posted in Child Abductions, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government | 13 Comments »

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

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

    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.

    Posted in Child Abductions, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 4 Comments »

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

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

    NYT: 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…

    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…

    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… “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.”

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 7 Comments »

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

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

    Eric Johnston: 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

    Posted in Media | 3 Comments »

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

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

    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?

    Japan Times: 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…

    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…

    Posted in Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese police/Foreign crime | No Comments »

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

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

    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.

    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.

    Posted in History, Tangents | 17 Comments »

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

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

    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.

    Nicol: 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.”…

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Food, Gaiatsu, Japanese Government, Tangents | 18 Comments »

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

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

    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.

    Posted in Child Abductions, Injustice, 日本語 | 18 Comments »

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

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

    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:

    Economist: MANY Japanese strive to keep up egalitarian appearances… 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…

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 4 Comments »

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

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

    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….

    COMMENT: 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?

    Posted in Discussions, Labor issues | 19 Comments »

    NJ population falls in 2009 for the first time since 1961

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

    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.

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, 日本語 | 30 Comments »

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

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

    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.

    Asahi: 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.

    Posted in Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Politics, Media, 日本語 | 16 Comments »

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

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

    Background: 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 (and 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. After breaking down the numbers on this blog, conclusions:

    DPJ lost this election, there’s no other spin to be had. But it was not a rout (like the UH election of 2007 against the LDP was, 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

    Number of electoral districts where DPJ lost but lost before anyway (in other words, the status quo of no electoral gains held): 10

    Number of electoral districts where DPJ flat out won before but lost a seat this time (this is the bad news, electoral losses): 12

    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)…

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media | 20 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 11, 2010

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

    Table of Contents:
    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)

    Posted in Newsletters | 1 Comment »

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

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

    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.

    “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…

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, Tangents | 14 Comments »

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

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

    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!)

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Cultural Issue, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Media, Tangents | 7 Comments »

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

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

    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.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 15 Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 8th July 2010

    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

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Education, Japanese Politics | 90 Comments »

    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

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

    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. … However, the Hotel Management Law 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).

    Furthermore, 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….

    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…

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Tourism | 22 Comments »

    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”

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

    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?

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Media | 5 Comments »

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

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

    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…

    Posted in Exclusionism, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Japanese Politics | 18 Comments »

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

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

    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!

    UPDATE: Here’s a link to it: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100706ad.html

    Posted in Articles & Publications | Comments Off

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

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

    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?…

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Tangents, United Nations | 18 Comments »

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

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 3rd July 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.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Problematic Foreign Treatment, United Nations | 1 Comment »

    DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JULY 1, 2010

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 2nd July 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!

    Posted in Podcasts | No Comments »

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

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

    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.

    Posted in Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, 日本語 | 44 Comments »

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

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

    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 ¥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.

    Posted in Injustice, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits, Media, 日本語 | 12 Comments »