Weekend Tangent: What Canada does about racial slurs and abuse in public: jail time

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s what a place like Canada does when you have a thing like racially-motivated slurs and abuse: They give the abuser jail time.  In fact, more than the prosecution was seeking.  Fancy that.  I’ve been told on more than one occasion to “go back to my own country” (even after naturalization, and once by a professor in my own university), and nobody has ever anything about it.  Sad, innit?  Arudou Debito

ENDS

Economist London on corrupt public prosecutors in Japan

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s an article I spotted last week in my issue of The Economist. Not sure I’ve ever heard of 官尊民卑 referred to below, but I certainly have heard of how skewed towards the prosecution Japan’s criminal justice system is. Here’s one symptom of the problem — falsification of evidence by prosecutors — which came to light only because the judge did the unusual step of bucking the system. Arudou Debito

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Japan’s judiciary on trial
Prosecutors or persecutors?
A legal scandal may spark reform of the Japanese judicial system
The Economist London, Oct 14th 2010 | TOKYO

http://www.economist.com/node/17259159

AMONG the four-character idioms that all Japanese schoolchildren must learn is kan son min pi (“respect officials, despise the people”). It defines the traditional relationship of individuals as subservient to the state—among whose representatives none is accorded more authority than the public prosecutor. The great privilege this confers on the role, however, can lead to its abuse.

A run of recent legal scandals, including wrongful convictions and brutal incarcerations, has tested respect for Japan’s criminal-justice system. The latest example, alleged evidence-tampering by a high-flying prosecutor and a cover-up by his bosses, has rallied many who want to see more regard for individual rights and greater checks on state power. The prosecutor in question, Tsunehiko Maeda, allegedly changed the date of a file on a computer disk that was being used as evidence against a woman accused of involvement in a massive benefit fraud. When Mr Maeda admitted this to his superiors, they are said to have ordered him to produce a report explaining how it happened “unintentionally”. On October 11th the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office dismissed Mr Maeda, the chief prosecutor in Osaka’s special investigative unit, and pressed charges against him.

The scandal has hit a nerve. Japan takes pride in one of the world’s lowest crime rates. But it also has a fishily high conviction rate, at 99.9%. That matches China’s and is far above rates in the West (see chart). In their defence, Japanese lawyers say that the country’s under-resourced state prosecution service is only able to bring the strongest cases to trial. Fear of failure, with which all Japan’s bureaucrats are imbued, reinforces a reticence to test weaker cases in court. According to a former Tokyo district court judge, a single courtroom loss can badly damage a prosecutor’s career. A second can end it.

Yet the recent scandals suggest that miscarriages of justice are all too common. So do several quirks of the justice system, which weigh the scales against the accused. Suspects can be held for up to 23 days without charge, for example. They often have little access to a lawyer and none during questioning. Police interrogations commonly last up to ten hours and are rife with mental and verbal abuse. On October 7th a businessman in Osaka produced a surreptitious recording of his seven-hour “voluntary” questioning, in which the police threaten to hit him and destroy his life.

Part of the problem is that Japan has too few lawyers; one tenth the number per head of Britain (see chart, again). That is largely because the government makes it remarkably difficult to become one. For years it set the bar exam pass-rate at around 3%, though it has recently increased it to 25%. This reflects a fear, in a conflict-shy country, that more lawyers will make society more litigious, not more just.

Recent reforms have improved matters a little. A sort-of jury system, introduced last year, has a panel of six citizens review cases alongside judges, who ultimately pronounce on them. This system produced its first acquittal in June. A more important change, says Kazuko Ito, a lawyer specialising in wrongful-conviction cases, would oblige prosecutors to disclose any mitigating evidence. Former prosecutors also urge judges to be more skeptical about the word of prosecutors and the police.

In Mr Maeda’s shabby case, the court threw out much of the evidence and acquitted the accused. Mr Maeda’s supervisors have also been arrested. Now a titillated Japanese public looks forward to prosecuting the prosecutors.
ENDS

Not only China, Japan eyes India for tourist influx, eases visas

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  As another move by the GOJ to stimulate our economy through tourism (first big move was the Chinese back in July), we have the easing of visa restrictions for subcontinental Indians too.  Good idea.  Arudou Debito

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Visa to Japan will come easy after PM visit
By Amitav Ranjan

Indian Express.com Sat Oct 23 2010, courtesy of JM
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Visa-to-Japan-will-come-easy-after-PM-visit/701268

Visiting Japan for business or holiday will be easier after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s official tour to the country starting Sunday. After negotiating for four years, the two countries are set to sign a memorandum that will provide longer duration visas to Indians.

The new visa deal will benefit businesspersons the most who —on receipt of a request letter from “a duly recognized company” or from chambers of commerce or industry or trade groups —will be eligible for a five-year multiple-entry visa instead of the current “short-term” 90-day visa. Their dependents will automatically be eligible for three-year multiple entry visas. These applicants will also be exempt from submitting a host of supporting documents.

Tourists employed with listed firms, government or public sector undertakings and eminent persons will also be exempt from furnishing proof of funding their stay or presenting confirmed air tickets to apply for the 90-day visa. Additionally, those traveling in package tours run by operators (designated by Japan and registered in India) will get single entry 90-day visa with the tour operator merely submitting the package booking documents.

ENDS

Japan Times: Eikaiwa Gaba: “NJ instructors independent contractors w/o labor law coverage”, could become template for entire industry

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Dovetailing with yesterday’s post on NJ’s treatment at unemployment agency Hello Work, here’s more on how weak NJ’s position can be when they ARE hired, in this case by Eikaiwa company Gaba, who says their NJ staff aren’t covered by Japanese labor laws. Arudou Debito

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THE JAPAN TIMES Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010
THE ZEIT GIST
Gaba teachers challenge ‘contractor’ status
Union fears employment model could mark first step on slippery slope for eikaiwa firms
By JAMES McCROSTIE, courtesy of the author

Instructors first formed a union in September 2007 and, according to union members, met with company representatives for talks. However, managers always refused to enter into serious negotiations, arguing the instructors were not employees and, as itaku — independent contractors — weren’t covered by Japanese labor laws.

Determining who qualifies as an employee and who can be classed as an independent contractor isn’t always clear. However, the method in which workers are scheduled and their place of work are important considerations…

In its financial report, the company argues that because it doesn’t designate working time or location and doesn’t give specific instructions for lesson content, it considers its instructors to be independent contractors…

Japan’s Statistics Bureau’s annual Labor Force Survey shows the number of nonregular workers has increased steadily since 1999, after the Japanese government started relaxing regulations to make it easier for companies to hire workers outside their regular employment system. In 1999, 25.6 percent of Japan’s labor force was classified as nonregular. By 2009 the figure had increased to 33.7 percent.

Employing instructors as independent contractors allows Gaba to reduce labor costs… Combs warns that instructors at other schools may also face being shifted to independent contractor status in the future.

“Gaba lowers the bar on the entire industry, and it will tempt other companies to try the same thing,” he says.

Ringin agrees that the stakes are high in the union’s battle with Gaba over the individual contractor issue.

“If Gaba gets away with using the itaku system, Berlitz and the other chains would be crazy not to follow.”

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20101019zg.html
ENDS

Allegations that GOJ’s Hello Work refuses NJ applicants, as evidenced by “Japanese Only” employer Zeus Enterprise of Tokyo Ginza

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s missive from a Mr. Jiasheng Kang Yoshikawa, who claims that government-run unemployment agency Hello Work not only segregates by nationality for job offers, but also promotes companies that refuse otherwise qualified candidates just because their hiring practices are “Japanese Only”.  He provides evidence that Zeus Enterprise Inc. of Tokyo Ginza is doing just that.  Since the Labor Standards Law forbids employment discrimination by nationality, the fact that a GOJ agency is doing this is shocking indeed.  But hardly out of character, alas.  Have a read.  Blogged with the author’s permission.  Arudou Debito

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October 22, 2010

Hello Debito, I’m a Chinese-Canadian living in Japan and I am very supportive of your effort on anti-racism in Japan.

You mentioned in your website that you welcome people to submit “Japanese only” signs if they see one. So I decided to do so although this is from a company website on recruiting, not an actual shop sign.

I’m currently in the middle of looking for a job. I’ve been living in Japan for 10 years and because of my Asian look, Japanese language skill, and my adopted Japanese last name (from my wife), I have been facing less discrimination when applying a job, compared to many other foreigners. However every time when I visit the hellowork’s foreigner section, I can always hear some employers routinely refusing applications from foreign residents, especially those from regions such as Africa, Middle East, and Southeast Asia. The foreign residents section itself is a discriminatory practice too as foreign residents have no other choice but are required to visit a segregated “foreigner section”, even though in my case I do not need any language interpretation or counselling on Japanese life.

When I visited hellowork last week, as usual I have the staff phoning hiring businesses to introduce me as an applicant. Because all the jobs I apply require high level of trilingual (English, Japanese, Chinese) skill, most companies do not mind my background as a foreigner, however Zeus Enterprise, upon hearing that I’m a foreigner from the hellowork staff, rejected me as a valid applicant, saying that this position is for “Japanese only”.


Source: http://www.zeus-enterprise.co.jp/recruit/b_coordinator.html

What I feel frustrated is that as a government agency, and as a “specialist” to assist foreign residents, hellowork’s foreign section never actively counter-argue with employers. In almost all instances they’ll simply say “I understand” and hang up, without stating that it’s a discriminatory practice and is against general human rights.

I also find it appalling that Zeus Enterprise even dare to indicate their “Japanese only” requirement on their website. (Most companies nowadays only reject verbally but do not dare to write so explicitly on job postings).

I’ll follow your suggestion to visit the local Jinken Yogo Bu for a discussion.

It will be great if there are more discussions on job discrimination against foreign and foreign-looking residents with legal employment right in Japan.

All the support from Chiba.

Jiasheng Kang Yoshikawa

Yachiyo, Chiba
ends

Hate crimes in Fukui: Car burned, “Gaijin GET OUT” message left at local mosque; flagburning at Indian restaurant

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. Here are some sketchy details from the media about hate crimes in Fukui. For the record. People who know more about this case on the ground, please feel free to comment.  A few days have passed since these events hit the news, and so far no visible police follow-up.  Arudou Debito

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Car burns in front of Fukui mosque
The Japan Times, Friday, Oct. 22, 2010

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20101022b1.html

FUKUI (Kyodo) A car in front of a mosque in the city of Fukui was found on fire early Wednesday and sign saying “Foreign people [gaijin] GET OUT” written in a mix of Japanese characters and English letters was found posted at the two-story building, police said Thursday.

The possible arson case follows an incident at an Indian restaurant 1.5 km away last month, when a flag was burned and a similar sign posted, they said.

The burning station wagon, owned by a Malaysian student, was discovered at around 1:15 a.m. in the parking lot of the mosque, according to police. There were no injuries.

ENDS

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Also by Kyodo:

‘Foreign people GET OUT’ sign on mosque as car torched in parking lot
Japan Today, Thursday 21st October, 2010

http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/foreign-people-get-out-sign-on-mosque-as-car-torched-in-parking-lot#show_all_comments

FUKUI — A car parked in front of a mosque in Fukui City was torched early Wednesday in what police believe is an arson case, and a sign saying, ‘‘Foreign people GET OUT’’ was posted at the two-story building, police said Thursday.

Police also said that a flag at an Indian restaurant about 1.5 kilometers from the building was set on fire and a similar sign posted in September, they said.

The car, a Malaysian student’s station wagon, was set on fire at around 1:15 a.m. in the mosque’s parking lot, but no one was injured, according to police.

The mosque in the capital of Fukui Prefecture can accommodate up to 80 people to attend services, according to its website.
ENDS
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モスクの駐車場で車両火災 外国人中傷の張り紙も 福井
朝日新聞 2010年10月22日
http://mytown.asahi.com/areanews/fukui/OSK201010210137.html

ボンネット付近が燃えたワゴン車と、福井モスクの建物=福井市文京3丁目

福井市文京3丁目のイスラム教礼拝所「福井モスク」駐車場で20日未明、ワゴン車の一部が焼ける火事があった。モスクには外国人を中傷するような張り紙があったといい、福井署が放火事件とみて調べている。

同署などによると、20日午前1時15分ごろ、駐車場に止めてあったマレーシア人留学生のワゴン車のエンジン下部付近から出火。エンジンルームや車内の一部が焼けたが、けが人はなかった。

モスクの利用者によると、建物に「外人 get out」(出て行け)と書かれた張り紙があったという。現場から南東に約1.3キロの同市学園2丁目のインド料理店では9月10日、店頭にあったインド国旗が燃やされ、同じ時間帯に近くの駐車場で普通乗用車のフロント部分が焼ける不審火があった。同署が関連を調べている。

モスクは2009年5月設立で、70〜80人が利用できる施設。利用者のほとんどが福井大学の留学生で、多い時は40人ほどが礼拝に集まるという。マレーシア人の留学生の男性(26)は「これまでトラブルはなかったからショックだ。心の狭い人がいるのかもしれないけれど、僕たちはずっと周りの人と仲良くやってきたし、日本人全体に怒りはない」と話した。(笹川翔平)
ENDS

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イスラム排斥? モスク駐車場やインド店で不審火 福井
産經新聞 2010.10.21 12:18
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/crime/101021/crm1010211223010-n1.htm

「福井モスク」前の駐車場で、エンジン付近が燃えたワゴン車=21日午前11時、福井市
福井市のイスラム教礼拝堂の駐車場で20日未明、ワゴン車が出火していたことが21日、分かった。モスク1階には「外国人出て行け」と英字交じりの張り紙があり、福井署は放火の可能性があるとみて調べている。
約1.5キロ離れたインド料理店でも9月、のぼりが燃え同様の張り紙がされ、福井署が関連を調べている。
同署によると、福井市文京3丁目の「福井モスク」で20日午前1時15分ごろ、駐車したワゴン車のエンジン付近が激しく燃える不審火があった。けが人はなかった。
現場はJR福井駅北西約2キロの福井大そばで、マレーシア人留学生が止めた車だったという。モスクは平成21年5月に建立され、70~80人が礼拝できる2階建て。
バングラデシュ人の留学生は「非常に残念。モスクが燃やされると思うと怖い」と話していた。

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福井のモスク駐車場で車放火か インド料理店でも
西日本新聞 2010年10月21日 12:26 カテゴリー:社会
http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nnp/item/204862

「福井モスク」前の駐車場で、エンジン付近が燃えたワゴン車=21日午前11時、福井市
福井市のイスラム教礼拝堂の駐車場で20日未明、ワゴン車が出火していたことが21日、分かった。モスク1階には「外国人GET OUT(出て行け)」と記した張り紙があり、福井署は放火の可能性があるとみて調べている。

約1・5キロ離れたインド料理店でも9月、のぼりが燃え同様の張り紙がされ、福井署が関連を調べている。

同署によると、福井市文京3丁目の「福井モスク」で20日午前1時15分ごろ、駐車したワゴン車のエンジン付近が激しく燃える不審火があった。けが人はなかった。

現場はJR福井駅北西約2キロの福井大そばで、マレーシア人留学生が止めた車だったという。モスクは2009年5月に建立され、70~80人が礼拝できる2階建て。

バングラデシュ人の留学生は「非常に残念。モスクが燃やされると思うと怖い」と話していた。

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ENDS

CJFF: Immigration raids Filipino family home, husband has heart attack

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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CJFF writes:

October 21, 2010

For press/blog release…

Afternoon of October 13, 2010 immigration officers questioned Victor de la Cruz in his work site at Gako Ishikaya located at the basement of Tokyo’s Shimbashi station of JR line. The immigration officer is asking if he and his wife, Susan Lubos de la Cruz who is an employee of an African embassy and Victor as her dependent are real husband and wife. There is no established case and Victor went home afterwards.

Today, October 20, 2010 at around 11:30 a.m. the immigration officers went to the home of Mr. and Mrs. de la Cruz in Meguro-ku and Victor was alone in the house. Later an immigration officer who gave his name as Mr. Kato of Shinjuku immigration with telephone number 03 5155 0496 called Susan, the wife of Victor, informing that they, the immigration officers, sent Victor to the National Organization Tokyo Medical Center at around 1:00 p.m. Victor suffered heart attack and in comatose given a 10-20 % chance to live by the doctor as of this writing (October 20, 2010, 11:50 pm).

Susan learned that her husband heart have stopped beating for an hour before Victor was sent to the hospital. Upon arriving home, Susan found all of their things and belonging are scattered and she also learned from the immigration officers that they went to their house to look for evidence if their marriage is real or not.

The fact is Victor and Susan have been married since 1989 or 21 years now and have been living together in the same house in the past 15 years in Japan. Susan and Victor have three children.

Susan, a member of Gabriela-Japan, a chapter of the Philippine national women organization Gabriela with 2 seats in the Philippine House of Representatives, is asking her organization for legal assistance and possibly to question the Immigration Bureau about the legality of their actions. Nobody knows what transpired and what kind of treatment, pressure, or intimidation or whatever the immigration officer employed to make Victor to suffer from heart attack. Susan is also doubtful about the legality of the immigration officers’ action in raiding her house.

The Gabriela-Japan, together with its Philippine national chapter Gabriela Philippines and its parliament representatives in the Philippine House of Representatives, is launching the JUSTICE FOR VICTOR AND TO ALL FOREIGN MIGRANTS VICTIMS OF UNJUST ACT OF AUTHORITIES, ABUSE OF POWER AND MALTREATMENT. The campaign network will seek to unite various groups and individuals to push for legal actions in demanding the Ministry of Justice and legal courts to rule on the legalities on handling the Victor case.

The Justice for Victor Campaign Network is calling on all foreign migrants support groups and justice loving people of Japan to joint the cause. As initial move, we are asking all the network supporters to make a barrage of inquiry to the Justice Ministry regarding their knowledge about the Victor case and to register our strongest protest against excessive use of power of immigration officials in raiding foreign migrants suspects that cause the sufferings and being in state of comatose of Victor at present.

For all interested parties to join the Justice for Victor Campaign Network please send an email to sa_ryo AT hotmail DOT com

Justice for Victor and to all foreign migrants victims of authorities excessive abuse of power!

Cesar V. Santoyo
Mission Director, Center for Japanese-Filipino Families (CJFF)

http://home.att.ne.jp/banana/cjff/homepage.htm
ENDS

Yomiuri: Tokyo bathhouses scrub up to lure NJ visitors. My, how the worm turns. Why couldn’t they have done this ten years ago?

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. My, my, how the worm turns. Check out how the International Terminal at Haneda Airport has gotten Tokyo bathhouses all abuzz about profit. All those customary fears about foreigners and their troublemaking ways (cf. the Otaru Onsens Case) simply evaporate when there’s the whiff of a tidal wave of tourist money to be had.

Come back foreigners, all is forgiven! Never mind about all the hand-wringing ten plus years ago, or about actually protecting them with any laws against potential refusals nationwide.  This at places with owners who aren’t quite so magnanimous (or open-minded) at restaurants, hotels, etc. No doubt if there are any problems or outright xenophobia, it’ll be depicted as the foreigners’ fault all over again. Arudou Debito

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Tokyo bathhouses scrub up to lure visitors
Yomiuri Shinbun, Oct. 22, 2010 Shinji Hijikata / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer, Courtesy of JK

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T101021004174.htm

Public bathhouses in Ota Ward, Tokyo, are bubbling with excitement at the prospect of a flood of foreign visitors the new-look Haneda Airport will bring.

Thursday’s opening of a new runway and terminal at Haneda make the airport an international hub, an opportunity the bathhouses hope will stop their business going down the drain.

The Ota public bathhouse association has made posters in four foreign languages, which explain local bathing manners, such as entering the bathtub after washing your body. It also plans to visit local public baths with foreign residents on Oct. 31–the day when regular international flights go operational at Haneda.

Factories and public bathhouses mushroomed in the ward during the postwar economic growth period. Although the number of public baths has declined to less than one-third of its peak, Ota Ward is home to 57 bathhouses–the most among Tokyo’s 23 wards.

Ota and its neighboring area have been known for the “kuroyu” hot spring, which has distinctive brown-black or topaz water. Ota also boasts of the most hot springs of the capital’s 23 wards, the majority of which are being tapped by public bathhouses.

Ota’s abundance of public baths and proximity to Haneda have given the association plenty of scope to target foreign customers. The illustrated posters will be put up at bathhouses in the ward to help foreign customers who are not familiar with Japanese bathing manners. Its member bathhouses have upgraded their Web sites to offer information in four foreign languages.

This month, the association started a stamp rally in which people who visit 20 of the ward’s bathhouses receive special furoshiki cloths with an illustration of Haneda and other gifts. On Oct. 31, 30 foreign residents of Ota Ward will join a walking tour that will take in public baths and other noted locations in the ward. The association hopes the foreign participants will pass on word of Ota’s bathhouses to people in their native countries.

Kazuyuki Kondo, chairman of the association and owner of Hasunuma Onsen, believes the increase in early-morning and late-night flights at Haneda could be just what the doctor ordered for bathhouses in the ward. Kondo said one man who recently planned to take an international flight came to his bathhouse late one night, saying, “I wanted to soak in a hot spring before my departure.”

Kondo, 59, said, “I want people to come to nearby hot springs and public baths instead of waiting [for their flights] at the airport.”
ENDS

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元々日本語の記事

銭湯 世界へ羽ばたけ…羽田国際化目前の大田区

ポスター、イベント…外国客にPR 自分がデザインした特製風呂敷を手にする近藤さん。国際化を控えた羽田空港も描かれている  21日の羽田空港国際化を目前に控え、地元・大田区内の銭湯が、外国人客の誘致に

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/tokyo23/news/20101020-OYT8T00096.htm – 2010/10/20 00:00 – 別ウィンドウ表示

はこの記事となった。なぜかは不明だ。

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

にぎわいのテークオフ
羽田空港に新ターミナル
(2010年10月22日 読売新聞)
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/tokyo23/news/20101020-OYT8T00096.htm

羽田沖を遊覧する屋形船(21日)
新国際線旅客ターミナルがオープンした羽田空港は21日、午前5時過ぎに1番機が到着し、夜明け前から本格稼働した。始発電車から続々と訪れる渡航者や見物客の対応のため、航空会社や空港関係者も暗いうちから慌ただしく動き回り、「24時間空港」らしい門出となった。(土方慎二)

早朝に記念行事 次々と行われた記念行事の第1号は、ターミナルに新駅を開業した京急電鉄。午前5時半前に車両前部を花であしらった記念電車が到着し、航空ファンならぬ鉄道ファンらが新駅オープンを祝った。目黒区の会社員、山崎幸太さん(33)は「これまで鉄道一筋だったけど、今度は海外も行こうかな」と笑顔を見せた。

大きな旅行かばんを持った人が目立ち始めた6時過ぎ、3階出発ロビーでターミナルの開業セレモニーが始まった。旅行客らが見守る中で倉富隆・空港長らがテープカット。出発1番機となる韓国・金浦(キムポ)行きの日本航空機に乗り込んだ千葉県富里市の会社役員、細井卓さん(59)は、「偶然仕事が重なった。まさか1番機に当たるとは」と幸運を喜びながら、「海外客を呼ぶ時に羽田は便利なので好都合。さらに便利になってほしい」と期待を寄せた。

江戸期の街並みをイメージしたショッピング街「江戸小路」。和食店や和雑貨屋などの店舗が朝から営業を始め、ターミナル一のにぎわいを見せた。甘味喫茶店「京はやしや」の原敬之さん(31)は、「定期便が就航する31日からが本当の勝負。外国人が多いと思うが、うちの味を変えることなく、和の味を堪能してほしい」と意気込んだ。

屋形船から見物 羽田沖ではこの日午後、地元の観光協会に招待された地元住民ら約400人が屋形船に乗り込み、海上から運用開始された新滑走路(D滑走路)を眺めた。あいにくの雨で滑走路の姿はおぼろげだったが、品川区の松永紀昭さん(70)は、「雨もまた一興。新滑走路は次の楽しみにとっておきたい」と話した。

ENDS

CRNJapan’s checklist for avoiding J child abductions during marital problems

mytest

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

Hi Blog.  CRNJapan.net contacted me yesterday with a very useful checklist of things to do to legally protect yourself against child abductions IN .  Along the lines of Debito.org’s “What to do if…?” page, this is one-stop shopping (if not a little paranoia-inducing) info site if you feel your relationship with a Japanese spouse is on the rocks.

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.

Remember, in Japan there is no protection against abduction, no joint custody thanks to the koseki Family Registry system, no real guarantees of child visitation, and generally whoever kidnaps the kids gets to keep them even if you go to Family Court here. More at crnjapan.net.

Excerpt sans links follows:

http://www.crnjapan.net/The_Japan_Childrens_Rights_Network/res-jicck.html

Just In Case:  A Parental Abduction Preparedness Checklist

The Japan Children’s Rights Network in response to the ever increasing number of International Parental Abductions to Japan has released a preparation guide for all of those in intimate relationships / Marriage with a Japanese citizen.  This guide is the “get your affairs in order” guide to making sure that when and if your Japanese significant other abducts your child you are prepared.  Please email webmaster@crnjapan.net with any questions / additions.

Here is a checklist of things to do if you are about to get a divorce, or if you are worried that the Japanese parent might try to take your children at some time in the future.  (Some of this applies generally to all kinds of child abduction and is advisable to do anyways, even if you are not worried right now.)  Some applies only if you are in Japan, and some applies only if you are not.

Make sure to store all information in a safe place where the child’s other parent cannot get to it, such as a safe deposit box that only you can enter, or a friend or relative’s home.  Also, to help ensure that others do not misuse this information, you as the parent should be the only person to keep this information about your child. You should be wary of gadgets and gimmicks that purport to protect your child or any sort of data-collection or registration services that store information about your child.  There is no substitute to collecting and storing this information yourself.

The List (a pre-divorce checklist)

1.Make sure that your marriage is registered on your Japanese spouse’s Family Registry. (koseki).

2.Make sure that you are registered on the Japanese spouse’s Family Registry. (koseki) as the parent of each of your children.  (You can order these from outside Japan with forms from here.)

3.Get copies of Japanese spouse’s Family Registry. (koseki) and a current Residency Registration (juminhyou) from the appropriate local government office.  Note that foreign spouses are never listed on the actual juuminhyou, but if you ask, they may list you in the remarks section.  Make sure to request this so that you have proof that you were living together.  (Some government offices still wont do it, but many will.)…

Rest at

http://www.crnjapan.net/The_Japan_Childrens_Rights_Network/res-jicck.html

ENDS

Mainichi & Asahi: “4 arrested for helping Cambodian men work illegally”. Odd, given shysterism of Trainee Visa program

mytest

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

Hi Blog.  Three articles here describing police actually arresting people (Japanese employers, too) for NJ employment visa violations.  Interesting, given all the shysterism that goes on under the Trainee Visa etc. programs that necessitate civil (not criminal) court cases for redress, and involve few arrests.  I guess it’s more important to employ people on proper visas than to employ them humanely.  Get the visa right, and you can do whatever you want to your NJ workers.  Perhaps that’s precisely what the Trainee Visa was designed to enable:  Cheap exploitable NJ labor for companies in trouble.

Read on.  Comment from submitter follows.

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

4 arrested for helping Cambodian men illegally work at supermarket
(Mainichi Japan) October 18, 2010, Courtesy of JK

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20101018p2a00m0na007000c.html

FUKUOKA — The president of an information technology (IT)-related company and three others were arrested on Oct. 18 for helping three Cambodian men come to Japan under the guise of IT engineers and illegally work at a supermarket, police said.

Arrested for violating the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law were Lim Wee Yee, 39, president of the IT company in Iizuka who is a Malaysian national; Takashi Miyazaki, 40, president of the Kurume Chimakiya supermarket chain; his younger brother and board member Yoji Miyazaki, 36; and Masaru Sakai, 30, the operator of another supermarket.

The elder Miyazaki has admitted to the allegations while the three others have denied any wrongdoing, according to investigators.

The Fukuoka Regional Immigration Bureau is considering deporting the three Cambodian men.

The four suspects conspired to help the three Cambodian men aged 24 to 27 come to Japan in early December last year on special work visas by disguising them as IT engineers at Lim’s company, and illegally work at Kurume Chimakiya supermarket, prefectural police allege.

The bearers of special work visas for IT engineers can stay and work in Japan for up to five years while those holding ordinary work visas can work here for only three years.

When they were secondary school students, the three Cambodian men got acquainted with Sakai, who was teaching Japanese in Cambodia as a volunteer, sources involved in the investigation said.

In summer last year, shortly before they graduated from university, Sakai approached them again and solicited them to work at a supermarket in Japan, according to the sources.

Fukuoka Prefectural Police investigators suspect that Sakai mediated between Lim and the elder Miyazaki.

ENDS

Submitter JK notes:
My take is that Mr. Sakai had a genuine interest in these guys as human
beings when he met them in Cambodia, and wasn’t merely looking for some
foreign labor to exploit (otherwise why take on the risk and hassle, and
why deny the allegations 「不法就労させていた認識はない」?).

Now it would have been nice if there was some actual investigation into
Mr. Sakai’s motives (read: human element in reporting). Instead we’re
left with another story about how The Man is cracking down on illegals.
Sheesh!

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

Original Japanese:

不法就労助長:容疑のIT会社社長らを逮捕 福岡県警など
毎日新聞 2010年10月18日
http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20101018k0000e040035000c.html

福岡県警などは18日、IT技術者名目でカンボジア人3人を来日させ、同県久留米市内のスーパーの倉庫で働かせたとして、同県飯塚市のIT関連会社「マルテック」社長でマレーシア国籍のリム・ウィイ容疑者(39)=飯塚市下三緒=ら4人を出入国管理法違反(不法就労助長)容疑で逮捕した。また、県警は福岡入国管理局と合同で同社など関係先約20カ所を同法違反容疑で家宅捜索した。

県警によると、「マルテック」は、国の「地域再生計画」に基づく支援措置の対象として認定されていた。認定企業は、外国人IT技術者を受け入れる際、入国審査にかかる時間が短縮されるなど優先措置がある。地域再生計画に絡む不法就労事件の摘発は全国初。

他に逮捕されたのは、同県久留米市のスーパーチェーン「くるめチマキヤ」社長、宮崎貴吏(たかし)(40)=久留米市山川町▽宮崎容疑者の実弟で同社役員、陽吏(ようじ)(36)=久留米市善導寺町島▽リム容疑者の知人で、飯塚市のスーパー経営、酒井優(31)=飯塚市枝国=の各容疑者。

容疑は、共謀のうえ24~27歳のカンボジア人男性3人を、IT技術者として「マルテック」が雇用する形をとり、昨年12月5日、出入国管理法に基づく「特定活動」の在留資格で入国させ、国の資格外活動の許可を受けずに「くるめチマキヤ」で働かせたとしている。

県警によると、宮崎貴吏容疑者は容疑を認めているという。▽リム容疑者は「商品の在庫管理システム開発の勉強をさせていた」▽陽吏容疑者は「どういう経緯で彼らが働いているか分からない」▽酒井容疑者は「不法就労させていた認識はない」--とそれぞれ否認しているという。

関係者によると、カンボジア人3人は中学生だったころ、カンボジアでボランティアで日本語教師をしていた酒井容疑者と知り合い、大学卒業を控えた昨年夏、酒井容疑者から「日本のスーパーで仕事がある」と勧誘されたという。県警は、酒井容疑者が、リム容疑者と宮崎両容疑者の仲介をしたとみている。

福岡入国管理局は、カンボジア人男性3人について強制送還する方向で検討している。【伊藤奈々恵、河津啓介】
ENDS

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

Asahi: IT技術者で来日、スーパーで働かせ月給5万円 福岡
朝日新聞 2010年10月19日, Courtesy of DC
http://www.asahi.com/national/update/1018/SEB201010180009_01.html

「外国人IT技術者」の在留資格で入国した20代のカンボジア人男性3人をスーパーで不法に働かせていたとして、福岡県警と福岡入国管理局は18日、同県飯塚市下三緒(しもみお)、ITソフト開発会社「マルテック」社長リム・ウィイ容疑者(39)ら4人を出入国管理法違反(不法就労助長)の疑いで逮捕し、発表した。

ほかに逮捕されたのは、飯塚市枝国、会社経営酒井優(31)、同県久留米市山川町、食品販売「くるめチマキヤ」社長宮崎貴吏(40)と弟で同市善導寺町島、同社役員陽吏(36)の3容疑者。県警によると4人のうち、兄の貴吏容疑者以外は容疑を否認しているという。

県警外事課によると、4人は共謀し、昨年12月5日に24〜27歳のカンボジア人男性3人をIT技術者の在留資格で来日させながら、実際は久留米市内のスーパー倉庫内で野菜詰めなどの資格外の作業をさせた疑いがある。

酒井容疑者はカンボジアの日本語学校講師だった2001年ごろ、生徒だった3人と出会ったという。3人が大学卒業を控えた昨夏、「日本のスーパーで仕事がある」と勧誘。知人のリム容疑者のマルテックと雇用契約を結ばせ、IT技術者の在留資格で12月に来日させたという。

だが、来日後、3人は宮崎貴吏容疑者が経営するスーパーに勤務し、そこから給料を受け取っていたという。ビザ申請時とは違う同市内のアパートに住み、月給5万円で1日8時間以上働いていたという。今年7月上旬、「スーパーでカンボジア人3人が厳しい労働条件で働かされている」との情報が県警などに寄せられたという。

福岡入管によると、IT技術者の資格なら、従来の技術者の就労資格よりも2年長い5年間の滞在が可能になる。

また、マルテックは国の地域再生計画に認定された飯塚市の「e—ZUKAトライバレー構想」の指定企業で、指定企業と雇用契約を結んだIT技術者のビザ審査は通常よりも優先されるという。こうした地域再生計画を悪用して、不法就労させる行為が表面化するのは初めてという。

飯塚市などによると、マルテックは1999年にマレーシアから九州工業大に留学していたリム容疑者らが設立した留学生による国内初のベンチャー企業で、04年に株式会社化した。資本金は800万円で、代表取締役のリム容疑者ら役員3人、従業員は10人。
ENDS

Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.

mytest

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

Hi Blog. After a half-month interlude of light and reason (as in September 30 to October 17), where it actually looked like a Japanese courtroom was actually going to be nice to somebody and rule against The State, another court has come along and put things back to normal. Read on below.

Gee, that was quick by Japanese judicial standards! I guess they know the value of putting the kibosh on something before the floodgates open: Can’t have all the goddamn foreigners expecting to have rights to something like our social welfare benefits, especially at an advanced age.  Arudou Debito

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

Foreigners have no right to welfare payments, rules Oita District Court
(Mainichi Japan) October 18, 2010, Courtesy of KS, JK, and lots of other people

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20101018p2a00m0na013000c.html

OITA — The Oita District Court ruled on Oct. 18 that foreigners with the right to permanent residence but without Japanese citizenship are not entitled to welfare benefits, rejecting the claims of a 78-year-old Chinese woman who sued after being denied benefits by the Oita city government.

In the ruling, Presiding Judge Yasuji Isshi said, “The Livelihood Protection Law is intended for Japanese citizens only. Welfare payments to non-citizens would be a form of charity. Non-citizens do not hold a right to receive payments.”

The court rejected the woman’s requests that it overturn the city’s decision and order the commencement of payments. The woman intends to appeal. The ruling is the first in the country to deal with the issue of welfare payments to people with foreign citizenship and permanent residency in Japan.

According to the ruling, the woman has Chinese nationality but was born in Japan and holds the right to permanent residence. In December 2008, the woman applied to the welfare office in Oita city for welfare payments, but was turned down with the reason that she had “a comfortable amount of money” in her savings.

The main issues of the trial became whether the woman held the right as a foreigner to receive welfare payments and whether her financial status justified her receiving aid.

“Excluding foreign citizens from the protection of welfare benefits is not unconstitutional,” said Isshi. He did not say anything about the woman’s financial status in the ruling, effectively indicating that any such discussion was overruled by the issue of nationality.

ENDS

——————————–

Original Japanese story

大分・生活保護訴訟:永住外国人、受給権なし 地裁が初判決
毎日新聞 2010年10月18日 東京夕刊
http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/archive/news/2010/10/18/20101018dde041040058000c.html
外国籍であることなどを理由に大分市が生活保護申請を却下したのは違法として、同市の中国籍の女性(78)が処分取り消しや保護開始決定を求めた訴訟の判決が18日、大分地裁であった。一志泰滋裁判長は「生活保護法は日本国籍者に限定した趣旨。外国人への生活保護は贈与にあたり、受給権はない」として女性の請求をいずれも退けた。永住外国人の生活保護受給を巡る判決は初めてという。女性側は控訴する方針。

判決によると、女性は日本生まれで永住資格を持つ中国人。08年12月、大分市福祉事務所に生活保護申請をしたが「女性名義の預金が相当額ある」として却下された。

外国人の受給権の有無と、経済状態などからこの女性が要保護者に当たるかが争点だった。

一志裁判長は受給権について「永住外国人を保護対象に含めないことが憲法に反するとは言えない」と述べ、女性の経済状態についての判断まで示さず、事実上の門前払いとした。【深津誠】
ENDS

NHK 7AM this morning: Offer coupons at Narita Airport to NJ with “preferential exchange rates”. The catch is…

mytest

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

Hi Blog.  Related to my post last Saturday talking about how things were becoming cheaper in a deflationary Japanese economy:

Something came on NHK News this morning at 7AM that nearly induced reverse peristalsis on my corn flakes due to excessive laughter.  Deep breath:

The exchange rate this morning was 81 yen and change to the dollar.  The (well-grounded) complaint is that this is discouraging tourism to Japan and purchases from NJ tourists, due to things being make more expensive upon exchange.

So NHK was breathlessly reporting (live) from Narita Airport this morning how authorities had come up with a great wheeze to stimulate spending!

Ready for it?

“PREFERENTIAL RATE COUPONS!!”

Meaning that if you hold one of these coupons (they provided a graphic with a big-nosed (of course) gaijin clutching this precious slip of paper), you would get a discount on your exchange from dollars (or whatever) into yen.

And that preferential rate would be?

Ready for it?

(Rips the Post-It off the graphic…)

30 SEN!!

Yes, 0.3 OF A YEN discount off your yen exchange rate!!

They even conveniently calculated with a couple more graphic Post-Its how much you would save.  Tourists, if they could see beyond their proboscis to spending some 2300 USD or so, the amount saved would be…

Ready for it?

(Rips the Post-It off the graphic…)

EIGHT DOLLARS!!

My god, I’m surprised people aren’t lining up!  The main NHK announcers also found this decidedly uncooworthy.

They also gave a rupo afterwards (with some token NJ tourists praising Japanese food) at a Narita cafeteria that was also taking drastic (and I mean DRASTIC!) measures to encourage consumption of their meals, by dropping some prices a few hundred yen.  Some fried chicken had been reduced from 700 to 500 yen!  (Albeit this price was arguably overpriced in the first place; a captive-market airport economy tends to do that.)  We had some grateful NJ tourists praising the move, and closeups of one slurping noodles with a big grin.

For all the money they saved from the preferential coupons (provided they carry a few thousand dollars in cash on them during their stay), they could get one free entree from this cafeteria AND a can of Coke from a vending machine — and still have a few yen change!!  Roll up!  Roll up!

File under cluelessness.

Seacrest Out!

CNNGo.com does odd article on “Controversial Activist David Schofill” and NJ refusals at hotels and onsens

mytest

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

Hi Blog.  Friend Curzon alerted me to this odd little article yesterday on CNNGo.com:

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

Japan invites tourists — but there may be no room at the inn for foreigners
Controversial activist claims dodgy non-Japanese policies blight Japan’s hotel industry despite relaxed VISA laws
By Robert Michael Poole 6 July, 2010

http://www.cnngo.com/tokyo/life/japan-invites-tourists-theres-no-room-inn-338470

Encouraged by the boost to the economy that Chinese tourists have been giving, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada announced only last week that VISA restrictions will be eased to allow mid-level income earners from China to make the grade. Previously only wealthy Chinese could make it through immigration, but the necessary income level of VISA applicants is being cut from 250,000 yuan (36,000 U.S. dollars) per year to just 60,000, which the government believes makes a further 16 million Chinese eligible.

The problem though, as highlighted in a column in today’s Japan Times, is that Japanese hotels are not only legally entitled to discriminate and bar non-Japanese, but many make false excuses to avoid foriegners [sic] of any sort staying in their premises. “Japanese only” signs appear not just in hotels, but at onsens (hot springs), bars, restaurants and entertainment venues too.

Despite this sometimes leading to (successful) lawsuits, including a famous case against Yunohana onsen in Otaru, Hokkaido by activist David Schofill in 2001, a government survey in 2008 found 27% of hotels did not want any non-Japanese staying with them. Schofield [sic]– better known today by his Japanese name Debito Arudou and renowned for being an outspoken and sometimes controversial activist — found excuses from hotel staff ranging from “In case of an emergency, how can we communicate with non-Japanse [sic] effectively to get them out of a burning building?” to not having western-style beds.

Most curious though, is the Toyoko Inn chain of hotels which has opened a ‘Chinese-friendly’ branch in Susukino, Sapporo. Perhaps they were encouraged by the news of the largest tour group ever to visit Japan — 10,000 workers and families from Pro-Health, a Beijiing [sic]-based health product company. According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, they’ll reach Japan on Ocober [sic] 9th. Probably best to avoid the queues at immigration that day.

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

COMMENT: My name was once Schofill, when I was born and before I was adopted.  The source for my name was Good Ole Wikipedia (see the troubles I’ve had with them here), increasingly the source for busy journalists, it seems.

Anyway, I posted the following response to the article yesterday:

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

I wish the reporter had at least gotten my name right. I haven’t been called by my last name Schofill (or the permutation Schofield in the next line) since about 1972, and was (as my blog, www.debito.org, has always indicated) David Aldwinckle.

While I appreciate the attention to the issue, I should think a more thorough attempt at research is more appropriate under the banner of CNN.

PS: The hotel in question is [not “Chinese-friendly”] — it is indeed “Chinese Only”. Even the Japanese media has reported it as such, and a call to them revealed that they even refuse Japanese tourists. http://www.debito.org/?p=6864

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

The above comment was approved this morning with apologies and corrections to the name (not yet to “foriegner” etc., however).  Here’s hoping reporters at CNNGo enable their computers to run a spell check, and avail themselves of enough time to conduct research on controversial subjects that goes deeper than Wikipedia.

But seriously, thanks again for the attention to the issue.  Arudou Debito

NYT on Japan’s deflation: “Japan, Once Dynamic, Is Disheartened by Decline”

mytest

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Hi Blog. In yesterday’s blog entry, Doug gave us a comment referencing a NYT article on the effects of a long recession, deflation, and overall economic slippage in world rankings on Japanese society. The bit that resonated with me came at the very end:

////////////////////////////////////////////////
Japan, Once Dynamic, Is Disheartened by Decline
By MARTIN FACKLER
Published in the New York Times October 16, 2010

…Deflation has also affected businesspeople by forcing them to invent new ways to survive in an economy where prices and profits only go down, not up.

Yoshinori Kaiami was a real estate agent in Osaka, where, like the rest of Japan, land prices have been falling for most of the past 19 years. Mr. Kaiami said business was tough. There were few buyers in a market that was virtually guaranteed to produce losses, and few sellers, because most homeowners were saddled with loans that were worth more than their homes.

Some years ago, he came up with an idea to break the gridlock. He created a company that guides homeowners through an elaborate legal subterfuge in which they erase the original loan by declaring personal bankruptcy, but continue to live in their home by “selling” it to a relative, who takes out a smaller loan to pay its greatly reduced price.

“If we only had inflation again, this sort of business would not be necessary,” said Mr. Kaiami, referring to the rising prices that are the opposite of deflation. “I feel like I’ve been waiting for 20 years for inflation to come back.”

One of his customers was Masato, the small-business owner, who sold his four-bedroom condo to a relative for about $185,000, 15 years after buying it for a bit more than $500,000. He said he was still deliberating about whether to expunge the $110,000 he still owed his bank by declaring personal bankruptcy.

Economists said one reason deflation became self-perpetuating was that it pushed companies and people like Masato to survive by cutting costs and selling what they already owned, instead of buying new goods or investing.

“Deflation destroys the risk-taking that capitalist economies need in order to grow,” said Shumpei Takemori, an economist at Keio University in Tokyo. “Creative destruction is replaced with what is just destructive destruction.”
////////////////////////////////////////////////

Whole article at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/world/asia/17japan.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

COMMENT:  The homey explanation of complex economics aside (which few can comment on with certainty due to the unusualness of a deflationary economy), the reason why this passage resonated with me:

As a friend of mine’s brother (who works for a major US insurance company) said to me the other night, I am “upside down” in terms of my house loan.

I recently had my house (a 49.5-tsubo structure on 169 tsubo of land), purchased in 1997, appraised. Under current market prices, I was told that I could get 65,000 yen in monthly rent should I ever try to rent it out.

However, I am paying around 115,000 yen PER MONTH in terms of mortgage, plus three months of rent out of my Bonus twice a year. Not to mention property taxes per annum of about 102,000 yen (down slightly from two years ago), and some insurance of about 60,000 yen per year. All told under current exchange rates, I have to make more than USD 25,000 per year just to feed the home front.

And if heaven forfend I were to sell the house, the market for second-hand homes is such that the house itself is basically worthless. Essentially only the land is worth something. The plot was purchased for 12,000,000 yen back in ’97. The next-door plot, of equal size and back then of equal price, is now being signposted as going for 4,500,000 yen. Event then, the plot is still unsold. So I don’t fancy my chances for recouping much of anything should I try to unload my property.  Then I would still be saddled with a vestigial loan balance with nothing to gain from it.

Of course, it was understood back then when I bought the house that it was not an investment in terms of money, but rather a chance for me to carve out a world of my own design within Japan — with a house designed to my family’s specifications with enough space to grow and be comfortable.  A place of our own.  With a lawn to cut.

It was meant to be a “Happily Ever After” scenario.  But then again few of those fairy-tale scenarios withstand the Test of Time.  I didn’t count on my asking for a divorce, on no longer living under that roof,  or on my salary going down by about a quarter as the loan premiums went up.  As frequent readers of Debito.org know, my ex and kids are still living there (I didn’t want to boot my kids out of the house they were growing up in) and I’m covering everything except utilities.  Hence my “Upside Down Mortgage” is going from financial Albatross to increasingly unsustainable.  Something’s gotta give, sooner or later.  I just hope it won’t be personal bankruptcy.

As one of Debito.org’s goals is to cover the life of one person living in Japan as a form of case study (so people can avoid and learn from my mistakes), I’ll keep you advised someday on what happens next.

When I came to Japan I said I wanted to live like other Japanese.  According to the NYT article above, it seems I’m doing just that.  Arudou Debito

Weekend Tangent: Discovering how cheap, yes cheap, parts of Japan are becoming

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I just finished a first draft of an update of the Hokkaido chapter in a famous travel guidebook (tell you more later after it hits the press), and thought I’d tell you what I noticed:

Japan is becoming surprisingly attractive for tourism.  One thing I’ve seen when traveling overseas is just how surprisingly expensive things are — like, say, dining out.  Inflation, Euro-currency-inflation, tips and service charges of ten to twenty percent, etc. have made eating in a sit-down restaurant a rather unattractive option (when traveling I usually self-cater, visiting overseas supermarkets where things are far cheaper).

In contrast, Japan’s currency sans inflation, a stable tax regime, and deflationary prices in many sectors have ultimately kept prices the same while they gradually rise overseas. After all these years of hearing about Japan as “the place where you goggle at hundred-dollar department store melons”, it’s finally reached a point where generally speaking, it’s now become cheaper in Japan.  While travel costs seem about the same (if not slightly higher in some cases due to fuel-cost-appreciation), once you get here, you’re able to predict costs, stick to budgets, and pay comparatively less without hidden fees creeping in.

Then look at Hokkaido, which is becoming a bargain destination.  It’s possible to get a relatively cheap flight up here (20,000-30,000 yen RT) if you plan accordingly and time it right.  Then once here (especially if you get a package tour subsidized by the Hokkaido government to include a few nights in a hotel), tourists make out.  As far as this guidebook went, just about every hotel I checked had reduced their rates (compared to the previous edition) substantially — some by half! Making them substantially cheaper than comparable hotels I saw overseas.  Further, dining out is very cheap (in Sapporo Susukino, for example, you can get a 2-hour tabe-nomi-houdai all you can eat and drink for about 3500 yen).  I can see why tourism is booming up here.  Good.  We’re no longer the poorest prefecture, IIRC.

That said, any economy increasingly being powered by tourism suffers from two major flaws:  1) a fickle market, and 2) residents may be enjoying an income, but in general the reason why things are getting cheaper here are because people are making less money themselves.  As they say:  Nice place to visit.  Wouldn’t want to live here.  Because the resident economy and the higher-income tourist economy is by nature fundamentally different in its buying and spending power.

I’m not speaking as an expert in any of these fields.  I just thought I’d comment on something I’ve observed over the past couple of days and open up the blog to discussion.  Anyone else noticing these trends?  Arudou Debito

Referential website of note: Asia Pacific Memo at UBC

mytest

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Hi Blog. One of my hosts at the University of British Columbia turned me on to a website I thought deserved a bit more attention: their “Asia-Pacific Memo”. Although not all about Japan (Japan in overseas academia is losing out big time these days to China, (sadly) understandably), it has a lot of food for thought about how to interpret current events in Asia. Have a look:

http://www.asiapacificmemo.ca/

Japan-specific topics here:

http://www.asiapacificmemo.ca/category/japan

Some recent topics, according to their RSS:

China’s Directed Public Receives Nobel Peace Prize
Asia Pacific Memo
Saturday, 7:37 AM
Memo #28 (Text and Video)

North Korean Leadership Succession: What Does the First Party Conference in 44 Years Tell Us?
Asia Pacific Memo
Oct 8, 8:17 AM
Memo #27

Islands Crisis between Japan and China: Power Shift and Institutional Failure
Asia Pacific Memo
Sep 29, 8:18 AM
Memo #24

65 Years After The Asia Pacific War: The End of History Politics?
Aug 26, 2010
Memo #15

Arudou Debito

Fukuoka General Union info site on how BOEs are outsourcing ALTs through dispatch companies, not through JET Programme

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s an informative page from the Fukuoka General Union on how local boards of education are outsourcing ALTs through dispatch companies in place of actual JETs through the JET Programme.  Excerpt follows:

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

THE ALT SCAM
By the Fukuoka General Union
Throughout Japan Boards of Education have been moving away from the JET program in favour of outsourcing ALT jobs to dispatch companies. In Fukuoka it has come to the point that most BOEs subcontract out their work.

This page is aimed to shed some light on the current systems that operate to the detriment of ALTs – who are practically all non-Japanese (NJ).

– Why do BOEs outsource ALT teaching jobs.
– The difference between direct employ, sub-contract and dispatch contracts.
– What is illegal about a sub-contract ALT working at a public school.
– The tender bid process.
– How much money do dispatch companies make from ALTs?
– Dispatch company ALT and health insurance.
– How dispatch companies and BOEs get rid of ALTs they don’t like.
– Ministry of Education tells BOEs to directly employ ALTs – BOEs ignore directive.
– Labour Standards Office issue reprimand, BOE has head in the sand.
– How the sub-contracting system damages other teachers in the industry.
– Why the Fukuoka General Union is fighting for direct employment.
– Reference materials
– You Tube news reports on the ALT sub-contracting issue (Helps explain the situation to Japanese teachers)

Why do BOEs outsource ALT teaching jobs.
Up until a few years ago most local governments procured their Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) through the JET program. However, with local government budgets tightening, they began looking for ways to cut expenditure. The cost of keeping a JET was about 6 million yen per year, so when they were approached by dispatch companies which offered to do it for less they jumped on the bandwagon. But not only did they save money, they outsourced the management of the ALTs, getting the dispatch company to take on the troublesome chore of getting the ALT accommodation, assimilating them into Japanese society and taking care of any trouble that arises. Like a cancer the number of non-JET ALTs at public schools increased to a point where they make up the bulk of ALTs in Fukuoka (and other) Prefectures. To outsource the ALT teaching jobs, they have determined that it is a “service” (業務 gyomu)…

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

Rest at http://fukuoka.generalunion.org/alt/index.html

Here’s an old article from the Mainichi I had lingering in my archives on this subject, to give you an idea just how widespread the practice is.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

偽装請負:千葉・柏市小中61校で認定 外国人指導助手不在に
毎日新聞 2010年4月17日 東京朝刊, Courtesy JH
http://mainichi.jp/life/edu/news/20100417ddm041040164000c.html
◇せんせいは偽装請負でおやすみです
千葉県柏市の市立小中学校全61校で3月末まで英語を教えていた外国人の指導助手(ALT)23人について、厚生労働省千葉労働局が、業務請負契約なのに学校の指揮下で働いていたとして13日付で違法な「偽装請負」と認定した。是正指導を受けた市教委が16日発表した。これにより、学校はALTの授業が新年度始められない事態に直面。同様の実態は全国的に多数あるとみられ、影響が広がる可能性がある。

柏市教委によると、同市のALT民間委託は00年に始まり、07~09年度の3年間は東京都内の業者に委託。同期間のALT23人が3月末に契約期限切れを迎えた。これに対し、ALTを支援する労働組合「千葉労連東葛ユニオン」が市教委に雇用継続を求める一方、千葉労働局に「偽装請負だ」と申し立て、労働局が調査していた。

市教委は新年度から、業務請負を労働者派遣契約に切り替え、新たに別のALTを受け入れる予定だった。ところが、過去3年間のALTが実質は派遣労働の「偽装請負」と認定され、派遣期間が3年を超えると直接雇用申し入れの義務が生じるとする労働者派遣法の規定や、新たに派遣契約を結ぶには3カ月間以上空けるとする厚労省の指針により、新年度からのALT受け入れができなくなった。市教委は3カ月後の7月以降、ALTの授業を再開する方針だ。

文部科学省国際教育課は昨年8月、ALTの業務委託契約について直接雇用や派遣に切り替えるよう全国の自治体教委に通知。その直後の調査で、全国670教委が業務委託契約を締結しており、うち439教委は「見直しの予定はない」と回答した。同課は「各教委は労働局に相談して適切な対応を取ってほしい」としている。【早川健人】

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

■ことば

◇偽装請負
業務を受注した請負会社が単に労働者を送り込み、発注元の指揮下で仕事をさせる行為。実態は派遣労働と変わらない。本来の業務請負契約は、請負会社が労働者を指揮して仕事をさせる。偽装請負は使用者責任があいまいになるとして、職業安定法や労働者派遣法で禁止されている。

毎日新聞 2010年4月17日 東京朝刊
ENDS

New Book: “In Defense of Japan: From the Market to the Military in Space Policy” by Pekkanen and Kallender-Umezu

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here are some excepts of a new book out from Stanford University Press on Japan’s space policy.  “In Defense of Japan: From the Market to the Military in Space Policy” by Pekkanen and Kallender-Umezu.  A complete tangent to what we do here at Debito.org, the book deserves an audience (reviewers have been a bit chary) given the subject matter:  how easy it would be for Japan to become not only a nuclear power, but a military superpower in space should the situation in Asian geopolitics grow ugly.  I happen to know one author (Paul, who gave me a copy) and the spouse of the other (Saadia, whose husband hosted me for a speech at UW years ago), and am happy to do them a favor and offer a little exposure here.

I haven’t read the book yet (received it Saturday, only gave it a thumb-through), but others might want to.  Cover, ISBN, blurbs, and scans of the first three pages follow.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Kyodo: Court overrules Oita Pref who tried to deny a 78-year-old NJ welfare benefits

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Here’s a bit of good news, albeit a bit incomplete based upon this article alone.  May there be more outcomes like this.  Pity these things happen to the elderly too.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Decision not to examine foreigner’s request on welfare benefits repealed in Oita
Japan Today/Kyodo Friday 01st October, 2010, Courtesy of Clankshaft

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/decision-not-to-examine-foreigners-request-on-welfare-benefits-repealed-in-oita

OITA — A Japanese court repealed on Thursday a decision by Oita Prefecture in southwestern Japan not to examine a request from a 78-year-old Chinese woman to look into a decision by Oita City that rejected her application for welfare benefits.

A three-judge panel at the Oita District Court acted on a suit filed by the woman, who has obtained permanent residency status in Japan, against the Oita prefectural government decision that turned away the woman’s request, filed in February last year, to examine the Oita municipal government decision not to provide welfare benefits to her.

The prefectural government dismissed the woman’s request without examining it, saying she was not eligible to seek benefits because she does not have Japanese nationality.

In Thursday’s ruling, the district court said the prefectural government must review the municipal government decision in line with the woman’s request, and decide whether she should be given benefits.

Presiding Judge Kenji Kanamitsu brushed aside the prefectural government’s argument that the city’s decision not to provide her with benefits was a ‘‘unilateral administrative action’’ against a foreigner who has no right to seek welfare benefits, and not an ‘‘administrative decision’’ as she claimed, whose appropriateness can be reviewed under the administrative appeal law.

Judge Kanamitsu said the woman is ‘‘obviously’’ eligible to ask the prefectural government to review the municipal government decision.

‘‘An application for welfare benefits has been rejected, and it means the same to the applicants, regardless of their nationalities,’’ the judge said.

The Chinese woman has filed a separate suit against the Oita municipal government seeking a repeal of its decision not to provide welfare benefits to her. The district court is scheduled to give a ruling on the suit on Oct. 18.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has not recognized foreigners’ legal rights to seek welfare benefits but has instructed prefectural governments to act ‘‘similarly’’ with cases of Japanese nationals in deciding on applications for such benefits from foreigners.

ENDS

JT’s Philip Brasor analyzes J media claims of bias towards Ichiro’s and Hakuho’s sports records

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s a very interesting and nuanced article about differing treatment of sports figures in the media:  Ichiro in the US vs. Hakuho in Japan.  Excerpt follows.  Worth a read during the holidays.  Debito back in Sapporo

The Japan Times Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010
MEDIA MIX by Philip Brasor
Media racism: How unsportsmanlike

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20101003pb.html

Local favoritism is built into organized sports. At the macro level you have whole countries rooting for national teams at the Olympics or the World Cup. At the micro level you have fans cheering a hometown boy who plays for a team far away. By the same token, nationalistic fans denigrate opposing countries’ players in international tournaments, while athletes from outside a locality may not receive the same level of local enthusiasm as those who grew up there.

In its Sept. 30 issue, Shukan Shincho attempted to build a story on two recent events: Hakuho’s breaking of Chiyonofuji’s record for consecutive sumo victories, and Ichiro Suzuki’s milestone 3,500th hit as a professional baseball player. That these events occurred within 24 hours of each other was irresistible, and Shincho wanted to connect them in a way that was guaranteed to attract attention. The headline of the article was, “Ichiro’s and Hakuho’s racism problem.”

Both athletes are strangers in foreign lands; or, at least, they started that way. Ichiro has been an outfielder for the Seattle Mariners in the United States since he entered the Major Leagues in 2001 after nine years playing in Japan’s Pacific League, and he has consistently been one of the game’s best hitters in both countries. Hakuho was born and raised in Mongolia, and is now the sole yokozuna (grand champion) in what is an ancient and traditional Japanese sport. Shincho’s point is that because both are “foreigners,” they do not receive the same attention and respect from the media and the public in their respective countries as native athletes, despite the enormity of their achievements.

Shincho claims that Ichiro’s 3,500th hit, a landmark that very few players in the history of the major leagues have reached, was virtually ignored by the American press. The reason, according to the magazine, is that Ichiro compiled this record in two countries, and Americans don’t take Japanese baseball seriously. To support this theory, the reporter quotes Japanese sports writers and baseball players who make the case that Ichiro’s talent is superior to that of the vast majority of currently active American baseball players.

As proof that Americans don’t evaluate Japanese players equally, the opinion of retired major leaguer Pete Rose is cited…

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20101003pb.html

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 9, 2010

mytest

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 9, 2010

Table of Contents:
///////////////////////////////////////////////
STEPS FORWARD AND BACK
1) Paul Toland on US House of Representatives vote against child abductions to Japan 416-1
2) Globe and Mail (Canada): “A black sun rises in a declining Japan”
3) Police notice: “Oreore Sagi” and other theft crimes with NJ crime placed in the proper context
4) Sendaiben and MB on Narita Airport again, this time both before and after entry
5) Discussion: Oguri Saori’s “Darling wa Gaikokujin” manga series: Does it help NJ assimilate?
6) Nagasakitabi.net uses “gaijin” stereotypes (blond wigs and fake noses) to push their website on TV

OTHERS “DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT”
7) “Pinprick Protests”: Chand Bakshi fights back against “NJ ID Checkpoint” hotel, gets apology
8 ) “Pinprick Protests”: NJ refusing to comply with GOJ Census?
9) Japan Times “Richard Cory” updates us on child custody woes and systematic bias against NJ fathers
10) Japan Times “Richard Cory” on child custody woes part 2: Who abducts wins

TANGENTS APLENTY
11) Weekend Tangent: My great grandmother’s veal turkey stuffing recipe
12) Travel Tangent: Hell to pay at LAX
13) Transit Tangent: Visited Tokyo DisneySea and tried not to enjoy myself, unsuccessfully
14) Cultural Tangent: American Soap Operas vs. Japanese Houmu Dorama
15) Just for fun: What are the going rates for English private lessons in your neck of Japan?

… and finally…
16) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Oct 5 2010: “Census blind to Japan’s true diversity”
///////////////////////////////////////////////

By Arudou Debito from Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
Daily Blog updates, RSS, commentary, and podcasts at www.debito.org
Freely Forwardable

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

STEPS FORWARD AND BACK

1) Paul Toland on US House of Representatives vote against child abductions to Japan 416-1

Media: The U.S. House of Representatives turned up the pressure Wednesday on Japan, strongly urging Tokyo to return immediately half-Japanese children that lawmakers say have been kidnapped from their American parents.

The House voted overwhelmingly for a nonbinding resolution that “condemns the abduction and retention” of children held in Japan “in violation of their human rights and United States and international law.”

The resolution, which passed 416 to 1, also calls for Japan to allow Americans to visit their children and for Tokyo to join a 1980 international convention on child abduction that would allow for the quick return of the children to America.

Democratic Rep Jim Moran told reporters that the resolution sends a strong signal to Japan that the U.S. Congress “is watching and expecting action.”

Republican Rep. Chris Smith said, “Americans are fed up with our friend and ally Japan and their pattern of noncooperation.”

The Japanese Embassy said in a statement that Japan is sympathetic to the plight of children caught in custody battles between Japanese and American citizens and “is continuing to make sincere efforts to deal with this issue from the standpoint that the welfare of the child should be of the utmost importance.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=7556

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

2) Globe and Mail (Canada): “A black sun rises in a declining Japan”

Globe and Mail makes a case that a groundswell of far-rightism in Japan is even worrying the traditional far-rightists:

“Until recently, it was the likes of Mitsuhiro Kimura that worried Japan’s political mainstream. The leader of the far-right Issuikai movement, he counted Saddam Hussein and French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen among his allies, and created friction with Japan’s neighbours by loudly denying the country’s Second World War crimes.

But now Mr. Kimura is among those concerned about a new breed of extremists, who are capitalizing on the bruised pride and swelling anger in Japan with a brand of politics that makes even a friend of the former Iraqi dictator uncomfortable. As this country staggers through a second decade of economic stagnation, and suffers the indignation of being eclipsed by historic rival China, there’s a common refrain coming from the growing ranks of this country’s young and angry: Japan must stand up for itself — and that foreigners are to blame for the country’s ills.

Take the past week alone. Infuriated by a perceived Japanese climbdown in a dispute with China over an island chain that both nations claim, right-wingers tossed smoke bombs at the Chinese consulates in the cities of Fukuoka and Nagasaki. Another man was arrested with a knife in his bag outside the Tokyo residence of Prime Minister Naoto Kan. On Friday, a motorcade of 60 cars organized by a right-wing group briefly surrounded a bus carrying Chinese tourists in Fukuoka, prompting Beijing to issue a warning to its citizens about the dangers of visiting Japan…”

http://www.debito.org/?p=7577

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3) Police notice: “Oreore Sagi” and other theft crimes with NJ crime placed in the proper context

Here we have the Hokkaido police issuing a warning (procured from a Sapporo post office ATM area last February) about “Oreore Sagi” (“Hey Mom, it’s me, I need money fast” fraud) and other types of snatch and grab thefts. As you can read below, we have 1) a shyster phoning some old mom claiming to be her son and asking for emergency funds to be sent to an account, 2) a cash card being used for theft because the owner uses his or her birthday as their PIN number, 3) people storing their inkans too close to their bankbooks, 4) mysterious people distracting marks so they can snatch their belongings, and 5) call the police immediately if they think they’ve been a victim of crime.

Item 4) below in particular is germane to Debito.org. It mentions (in passing) that grabbers might say “you dropped some money” or “your clothes are dirty”, or speak to you in a foreign language. After distracting you, then they run off with your cash or bag.

Fine. It’s in context of other crimes committed by Japanese. Compare it with some past NPA posters making foreigners out to be the main culprits, including racist caricatures (which are fortunately avoided above), like this nasty one with darkies speaking katakana:

I think this new one is a definite improvement. Perhaps we’re getting listened to.

One more thing: About this “Oreore Sagi” fraud phenomenon. One thing I’ve always wondered is, are parents so distant from their children nowadays that they can’t recognize their own child’s voice on the phone? I don’t understand how they get duped. Explain, somebody?

http://www.debito.org/?p=7116

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4) Sendaiben and MB on Narita Airport again, this time both before and after entry

Sendaiben Sept 29: Just came back through Narita and gave my usual calm and friendly rant to the immigration officer (she wasn’t particularly impressed -got a very curt “if you don’t comply you can’t come in”). Fair enough.

I then had a thought. The re-entry permit holder line anywhere I’ve been has been by far the shortest. I have never had to wait more than a minute or so, unlike the Japanese citizens who often have long lines (and let’s not talk about the tourist lines, which are often pretty bad). I can also take my family through with me (even though they have Japanese passports) and save them time standing in line too.

If you think of the re-entry line as a VIP line that requires additional security (fingerprints), does that not make the whole thing easier to swallow? After all, it’s not such a big deal, is it? It’s not worth getting het up about every single time we come back into the country, is it?

Sadly, that doesn’t work for me, however much I would like it to. I really dislike the policy, which seems pointless and needlessly offensive to me.

I will keep complaining, although I make sure I do so in a calm and friendly manner (the immigration officers on the desks didn’t make the rules, so there is no point being hostile to them). However, as public servants, they should know how the public feels about the policies they carry out: thus it is my right to talk about it in a calm and reasonable way

Ironically it is this more than anything else which is pushing me to naturalize: I don’t need the grief every time I come home. What does everyone else think?

http://www.debito.org/?p=7554

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5) Discussion: Oguri Saori’s “Darling wa Gaikokujin” manga series: Does it help NJ assimilate?

We’ve recently had a decent discussion come up within the comments section of a blog entry, and it’s good enough to warrant its own entry.

The topic was Oguri Saori’s “Daarin Wa Gaikokujin” (My Darling is a Foreigner), a best-selling series of manga depicting the life of a quirky bilingual foreigner by the name of “Tony” who marries a Japanese woman. The manga chronicles the different personalities of the husband and wife as they deal with issues in Japan, create a life and a family together, travel from one place to another, and generally try to get inside “Tony’s mind”. There are several books under Oguri’s authorship (at least one with real-life husband Tony Laszlo’s co-billing — his “Guide to Happiness”), and even a movie earlier this year, not to mention an English translation, subway and train PSAs, and an ANA advertising deal. It’s a very influential economic juggernaut that has spawned imitators (there are other “Darling”-types of books connected with different nationalities), and now with “DWG with baby” on board the epic is anticipated to continue for some years to come.

The question for Debito.org Readers: Is the DWG manga series really working in NJs best interests? As in, as far as Debito.org is concerned, helping NJ to assimilate, be treated as equals and moreover residents of Japan?

I came out in my last blog entry and said I wasn’t sure it is. Let me give my standpoint and open the floor up for discussion:

http://www.debito.org/?p=7531

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6) Nagasakitabi.net uses “gaijin” stereotypes (blond wigs and fake noses) to push their website on TV

Debito.org Reader RN sends this:

September 19, 2010

Hi Debito, Hope all is well. Not sure if I’ve told you this before but I own a Slingbox in Fukuoka which allows me to watch live Japanese television from home here in the USA. This evening I was watching (FBS) and saw a commercial that was apparently trying to depict two Japanese people feeling like they were in a foreign country while on vacation. To make them look “foreign” they placed large noses and blonde hair on them and made them speak Japanese with a distinct foreign accent. It kind of reminded me of the whole McDonald’s Mr. James deal (not as blatant but still made me think, “What the heck?!”). I was attempting to put together screen shots, etc. for you (as my Slingbox allows me to pause and back up) but I found the commercial on YouTube. The company is XXXXX [which links to an English site sponsored by the “Nagasaki Prefecture Convention and Visitors Bureau”]. Here is the CM link:

http://www.debito.org/?p=7523

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OTHERS “DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT”

7) “Pinprick Protests”: Chand Bakshi fights back against “NJ ID Checkpoint” hotel, gets apology

Here is a report from Chand Bakshi on how he called “basta” to a hotel that was racially profiling its customers, demanding all visually-looking NJ submit to an ID check and copy — claiming erroneously that this was required by law. Chand followed up on this to the point where he got capitulation and an apology. Well done.

This is actually pretty effective. The hotel I usually stay at in Tokyo has on various occasions (depending on how I was dressed) tried to Gaijin Card me too. I told them (and later followed up with an explanation to the management) that this only applied to tourists; NJ with Japanese addresses are not required to show ID. Of course, that’s not what the NPA would have hotels believe — they have explicitly instructed hotels to inspect and photocopy ID of ALL NJ. Which is why we must fight back against this invitation to racial profiling, as Chand has below.

In my case, my Tokyo hotel yesterday asked me if I had a domestic address upon check-in (which I’m fine with). I pointed to my name on the check-in card and said, check your records — I’m not only a Japanese, but also a frequent customer. Got a deep apology. But at least now my hotel chain is more sophisticated in its approach.

Read on for Chand’s report…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7580

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8 ) “Pinprick Protests”: NJ refusing to comply with GOJ Census?

KD: “Hi Debito, Today a lady rang my door and kindly asked me to fill out the census papers. As you probably remember from previous censuses, in the spirit of civil disobedience I refuse to participate with the census, in protest of long-term resident NJ’s not having the right to vote in local elections.

I discussed this with the lady who brought the census papers. She clearly understood my position and also brought up some points herself why it was strange that long-term NJ have no voting rights.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I do not intend to be an activist, but I thought that perhaps other people who follow you might be interested in the idea of protesting our lack of voting rights in this way.

In itself it won’t get us voting rights, but it does send a message. Sending that message, whenever we can, and in every way we can, is important.”

What do others think?

http://www.debito.org/?p=7536

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9) Japan Times “Richard Cory” updates us on child custody woes and systematic bias against NJ fathers

Japan Times: In December 2009, shortly after I detailed my fears in this column (Zeit Gist, Nov. 3, 2009) about my wife’s ongoing affair potentially resulting in me losing custody of my children, family life got even worse as she became increasingly physically abusive toward our children. In fact, the police visited my home after one incident in December and recommended that I take my daughter to the Child Guidance Center (jidosodanjo) so that we could determine how to best handle her mother’s violent behavior. Over the next few months, my daughter was interviewed twice at the Child Guidance Center and a few times at her public elementary school.

Unfortunately, as we neared the abduction date, bias against her American father started to become evident. Exactly two weeks before her abduction, her female school principal met privately with my daughter, who summarized her principal’s comments as follows: “Your mother might be violent, but we know she’s a very nice mother on the inside. She will change one day. She’s just stressed right now.”

Two days before the abduction, the school principal and two child welfare officers met with my daughter in the principal’s office, and just hours after returning home, my daughter reported the following exchange between her and one of the welfare officers, an older Japanese woman: “And then she said, ‘Who are you going to choose?’ And I said, ‘Because Mama beats me, I want to go to Daddy’s side. I’m going to choose Daddy.’ Then she said, ‘Your mother does all the stuff at home, like cooking and doing the clothes and stuff like that, so I think it would be better if you choose your mother.’ “

http://www.debito.org/?p=7545

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10) Japan Times “Richard Cory” on child custody woes part 2: Who abducts wins

Japan Times: Look at my case (and what the judge wrote in her custody ruling in July). My wife had admitted to the following:

● More than three years of ongoing adultery (“The reason for the breakup of the marriage was the respondent’s adultery”); Giving large sums of money (JPY7.7 million) to her lover to help him pay off his gambling debt (“Respondent lent a large sum of money to her colleague”);

● Taking my children on dates to bet on horse racing;

● Being currently on medication for various disorders (“Respondent became mentally ill and started seeing a doctor in or around January 2010 and worried about her insufficient communication with the children”);

● Physically abusing her own spouse and children (“Respondent attacked petitioner . . . and used physical power that cannot be justified as discipline against the children”).

Her own daughter fled from her after being abducted, and then testified against her. Moreover, my wife did not even petition for custody of the children until four months after I filed for divorce and custody. I even submitted a video showing my wife with not one of the bruises or injuries she claimed to have sustained the day before the video was taken. And we even had eyewitness testimony of her trying to injure herself. Could my case be any stronger?

Nevertheless, when the judge awarded me physical custody of my daughter, she also awarded physical custody of the boys to their mother. The reason: “There’s no big problem (with the boys staying where they are).”

Based on such reasoning, you can bet the bank that this judge would have awarded custody of all three children to my wife had I not been able to rescue one. And the judge would probably have given me custody of them all had they all been able to get free.

Japan’s family court is simply a facade designed to make an unevolved system appear civilized.

Let’s not kid ourselves. In Japan, “possession of the children” trumps the “best interests of the children” every time, particularly when the “best interests of the children” are never even addressed. And when you have a country that is pouring great sums of money into a system that shuffles children off to hidden locations whenever a parent makes an unverified DV claim, the state, in essence, becomes complicit in the abduction of the children…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7548

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TANGENTS APLENTY

11) Weekend Tangent: My great grandmother’s veal turkey stuffing recipe

In honor of upcoming Canadian (and soon American) Thanksgiving:
APPOLONIA MENDIS CYPCAR’S TURKEY STUFFING
From Arudou Debito, great grandson, Debito.org
(for a 13-14 lb turkey)

1 lb ground veal
1/2 box of saltines (box 1 1b size) ground coarsely
1 pint whole milk
1/2 lb butter
4 eggs beaten
salt and pepper to taste

It’s the taste I miss most from the USA.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5796

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12) Travel Tangent: Hell to pay at LAX

Here is a summary of the hell I went through at LAX. It wasn’t passport control. It was the simply awful treatment everyone has to go through regardless of nationality, unbecoming of a first-world airport. Seems like the American airline industry is on a race to the bottom for standards of customer service. Some airports have already essentially become bus stations. Other American airport horror stories welcome, in hopes that someone will care about outsiders’ opinions as much as the Japanese airports do.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7499

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13) Transit Tangent: Visited Tokyo DisneySea and tried not to enjoy myself, unsuccessfully

I’m currently writing you from LAX from the United Airlines lounge, and am pretty zoned out at the moment what with the jetlag. Today I’ll write something a little more off-topic and talk about something more cultural: DisneySea.

I’m not generally one for theme parks. I’ve been to the occasional traveling show (cue Cher song), visited a neighborhood place a couple of times called Roseland in Canandaigua, NY (with Roaring Twenties/WWII equivalents of video games — “The Feather Dance” and “Shoot Down the Zero!”, anyone?), enjoyed the Santa Cruz Boardwalk (highlights — seeing Eighties bands doing nostalgia tours, and enjoying the video arcade with the crowded corner offering video games like Pac-Man, Gorf, Tron, and Asteroids to the post-Pong generation), gone to Six Flags in a couple of places, and been to Disneys in Anaheim and Orlando. I find the nickle-and-diming of concessions and the dodginess of the Carny booths kinda get to me.

And when I said to some drinking buddies on Saturday that I would be going to DisneySea with a friend (this would be my first time to go to Tokyo Disneyland), all the guys groaned and said, “Jeez, that’s a place for couples, all sappy’n’shit!”, while their girlfriends all gave a collective sigh of “ii naaa…” It’s the Happiest Place on the Planet(TM), they kept saying.

But I checked my machismo at the door and went anyway…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7494

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14) Cultural Tangent: American Soap Operas vs. Japanese Houmu Dorama

Completely self-indulgent tangent, but I will relate it back to Japan. I watched on a complete whim the very last episode of American soap opera “As the World Turns”. It’s been going on for 54 years, with some characters apparently going on (according to Entertainment Weekly; it’s not as if I watch this stuff) for nearly forty. It has even been parodied by the Carol Burnett Show as “As the Stomach Turns” (god I miss Carol’s comedy; what happened to her?); the soap opera has, however, outlasted her. Until now.

I watched it and felt that the parody was appropriate. Fascinating was that every scene (this was a final tie-up all the relationships, making them all “happy ever after”, no drama necessary) ended with a hug if not a hug and a kiss. Every scene, seriously. As if all conflict, inner or outer, was healed by the power of hugs. In general, I find the more lower-market (as in, shooting for a larger, “average” audience, real or imagined) the American programs aimed for, the higher the hug frequency. And the mantra of the ATWT’s last show was that “we all lead normal lives”, real or imagined. Ewg. (The commercials, aiming for a female audience of course, stressed family security and warmth of the hearth; it added to this different world of “normalness” I’ve never really been a party to.) The last scene (there was no retrospective, no cast bows at the end saying goodbye like on some American farewell stage shows) showed the anchoring-character of the doctor leaving his office for retirement, switching off his light, and leaving a spotlight on this cheesy globe (out of place in the dark-panelled room) doing, you guessed it, a long spin… Just in case you lack comprehension of metaphor.

Contrast that with the “home dramas” of Japan that I’ve managed to sit through…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7513

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15) Just for fun: What are the going rates for English private lessons in your neck of Japan?

I often get requests from people online who think about moving to Japan and supplementing their Eikaiwa income with “private lessons”, i.e. your own cottage industry of meetings with an individual or groups in an informal setting and at an hourly rate. They inquire how efficacious that plan my be.

I usually caution people against that, since the Bubble-Era fees are long gone (I was pulling down JPY10,000 an hour once upon a time). Moreover, the Post-Bubble “McDonaldization of Eikaiwa” (as I have heard it described on other listservs) by the NOVAs and ECs have driven average rates for English teaching down to hardscrabble levels, meaning people without a full-time job with health insurance and benefits will probably not be able to make a living on private lessons alone.

But that’s just what’ve I heard. I haven’t done many privates for years now (Sapporo’s market rates, if you can get privates at all, appear to be around JPY2000-3500 an hour). I thought I’d ask Debito.org Readers around Japan what they’re getting/can get for private lessons (in English or in any language you teach) in their local area. Let us know.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7542

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… and finally…

16) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Oct 5 2010: “Census blind to Japan’s true diversity”

Census blind to Japan’s true diversity
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010
By DEBITO ARUDOU

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20101005ad.html
Commentary at http://www.debito.org/?p=7574

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All for a little while. I’m still going to be writing more and blogging less, so the next Newsletter will probably be in early November. Enjoy Canadian Thanksgiving, Canucks!

Arudou Debito from Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
Daily Blog updates, RSS, commentary, and podcasts at www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 9, 2010 ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 12, 2010 (forgot to blog)

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(Sorry, forgot to blog this last month.  Just realized it as the time approached for this month’s Newsletter.)

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 12, 2010

Hello all. It’s been a long, hot summer, with minimal blogging, and at the start of this month I got a call from a self-described “religious checker of Debito.org”, worried about my welfare after so few updates. Well, summer was touring Hokkaido. Points of interest: Niseko, Noboribetsu, Eniwa-Dake and Shikotsuko, Biei, Monbetsu, Saromako, Abashiri, Yanbetsu, Utoro, Shiritoko Goko and Kamuiwakka, Notsuke Hantou, Nemuro, Nosappu Misaki, Kiritappu, and Akkeshi. Capped by driving the 550 kms circuitously between Nemuro back to Sapporo in one day. Now it’s trips to Tokyo and Canada (speaking at UBC in at JSAC in late September, and the Japan Writers’ Conference in Tokyo in early October). Thanks for reading and caring, Debito.org Readers. Now for the Newsletter:

Table of Contents:

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DEVELOPMENTS
1) The 2010 Japan Census from October 1: Flash GOJ multilingual site explaining what it’s all about
2) Summer Tangent: DailyFinance.com on Japan’s generation-long economic stagnation leading to a lost generation of youth
3) Keishicho Kouhou on organized crime in Japan: Places NJ gangs in context for a change
4) Wash Post: “Strict immigration rules may threaten Japan’s future”, focus on nursing program
5) Thrice-convicted crooked Dietmember Suzuki Muneo gets his: Supreme Court rejects appeal, jail time looms
6) Kyodo: Japan to join The Hague Convention on Child Abduction. Uncertain when.

ACTIVISM ON BOTH SIDES
7) NYT: “New Dissent in Japan Is Loudly Anti-Foreign”
8 ) Success Story: Takamado English Speech Contest reform their “Japanese Only”, er, “Non-English Speakers Only” rules
9) Meeting with US Embassy Tokyo Sept 9, regarding State Dept. Country Reports on Human Rights
10) Asahi: Zaitokukai arrests: Rightist adult bullies of Zainichi schoolchildren being investigated
11) “The Cove” Taiji Dolphin protesters cancel local demo due to potential Rightist violence
12) Japan will apologize for Korean Annexation 100 years ago and give back some war spoils. Bravo.
13) Sendaiben digs deeper on those Narita Airport racially-profiling Instant NPA Checkpoints
14) M-Net Magazine publishes FRANCA March 2010 report to UN Rapporteur in Japanese

INTERESTING TANGENTS
15) Economist.com summary of Amakudari system
16) Coleman Japan Inc. has instructions “For Japanese Consumers Only”
17) Discussion: “If you could change one thing about a society…”

… and finally …
18) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column: ‘Don’t blame JET for Japan’s bad English”
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By Arudou Debito, currently in Tokyo in air conditioning
Daily Blog updates at www.debito.org, email debito@debito.org, twitter arudoudebito
Freely Forwardable

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DEVELOPMENTS

1) The 2010 Japan Census from October 1: Flash GOJ multilingual site explaining what it’s all about

Japan is gearing up to take another big Census of the population come October. This time, fortunately, we have a flash site explaining what it’s all about in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, and English.

Jolly decent of the GOJ to make the effort to explain what’s going on, if in prime Japanicana schoolteacher style.

As for the Census itself. I’ve always had a problem about it not measuring people (using optional questions) about their ethnicity (minzoku). Up until now, respondents were always asked about their nationality (kokuseki), never their roots, meaning someone like me can’t indicate anywhere that I’m ethnically an American-Japanese (amerika kei nihonjin). But I see that as political: This way Japan in government statistics officially remains the nondiverse Monocultural Society, with only 1.6% or so of the population as “foreign”. If anyone sees that being handled differently this time, please let us know.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7449

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2) Summer Tangent: DailyFinance.com on Japan’s generation-long economic stagnation leading to a lost generation of youth

Daily Finance.com: What happens to a generation of young people when:

They are told to work hard and go to college, yet after graduating they find few permanent job opportunities?
Many of the jobs that are available are part-time, temporary or contract labor?
These insecure jobs pay one-third of what their fathers earned?
The low pay makes living at home the only viable option?
Poor economic conditions persist for 10, 15 and 20 years in a row?

For an answer, turn to Japan. The world’s second-largest economy has stagnated in just this fashion for almost 20 years, and the consequences for the “lost generations” that have come of age in the “lost decades” have been dire. In many ways, Japan’s social conventions are fraying under the relentless pressure of an economy in seemingly permanent decline.

While the world sees Japan as the home of consumer technology juggernauts such as Sony and Toshiba and high-tech “bullet trains” (shinkansen), beneath the bright lights of Tokyo and the evident wealth generated by decades of hard work and Japan Inc.’s massive global export machine lies a different reality: increasing poverty and decreasing opportunity for the nation’s youth.

Suddenly, It’s Haves and Have Nots

The gap between extremes of income at the top and bottom of society — measured by the Gini coefficient — has been growing in Japan for years. To the surprise of many outsiders, once-egalitarian Japan is becoming a nation of haves and have-nots.

The media in Japan have popularized the phrase “kakusa shakai,” literally meaning “gap society.” As the elite slice prospers and younger workers are increasingly marginalized, the media has focused on the shrinking middle class. For example, a best-selling book offers tips on how to get by on an annual income of less than 3 million yen ($34,800). Two million yen ($23,000) has become the de-facto poverty line for millions of Japanese, especially outside high-cost Tokyo.

More than one-third of the workforce is part-time as companies have shed the famed Japanese lifetime employment system, nudged along by government legislation that abolished restrictions on flexible hiring a few years ago. Temp agencies have expanded to fill the need for contract jobs as permanent job opportunities have dwindled.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7409

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3) Keishicho Kouhou on organized crime in Japan: Places NJ gangs in context for a change

Got this from friend MS yesterday, a monthly publication from the Tokyo Police letting us know what they’re up to regarding fighting crime. In this case, the Yakuza. Have a look:

I’m happier with this than usual. Yes, we have the regular report on the evils that foreign criminals get up to. But this time, it’s not a major focus, and it’s within a context of all the other evils that Japanese criminals get up to.

Fine. Go get the bad guys. Just don’t make it seem the bad guys are bad because they are foreign. As the past NPA notices have taken great pains (and taxpayer outlay) to make clear (archive here at Debito.org).

This is an improvement. It provides context as well as content. And the appropriate weight.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7466

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4) Wash Post: “Strict immigration rules may threaten Japan’s future”, focus on nursing program

Here’s more information that we’re making public seeping into overseas media. Nothing terribly new to regular readers here (but no doubt new to many readers overseas). But brace yourself for the Comments section of this article, full of the nastiness that goes beyond cultural relativity. Amazing how immigrants are the eternal bashables, told to abide by whatever vague rules the nativists come up with (and don’t always follow themselves), told to accept inferior wages and working conditions, and told to go home if they have any problems or complaints. Worse yet is when the government is essentially saying the same thing by setting up hurdles that are nearly insurmountable. As the article gets into below. Enjoy.

Wash Post: “There’s a lack of urgency or lack of sense of crisis for the declining population in Japan,” said Satoru Tominaga, director of Garuda, an advocacy group for Indonesian nurse and caretaker candidates. “We need radical policy change to build up the number” of such workers. “However, Japan lacks a strong government; if anything, it’s in chaos.”

When Japan struck economic partnership agreements with Indonesia and the Philippines, attracting nurses and caretakers wasn’t the primary objective. Japan sought duty-free access for its automakers to the Southeast Asian market. Accepting skilled labor was just part of the deal.

But by 2025, Japan will need to almost double its number of nurses and care workers, currently at 1.2 million. And because of the test, substandard language skills, not substandard caretaking skills, are keeping the obvious solution from meeting the gaping need.

The 998 Filipino and Indonesian nurses and caretakers who’ve come to Japan since 2008 all have, at minimum, college educations or several years of professional experience. Nurses can stay for three years, with three chances to pass the test. Other caregivers can stay for four years, with one chance to pass. Those who arrive in Japan take a six-month language cram class and then begin work as trainees.

They are allotted a brief period every workday — 45 minutes, in Paulino’s case — for language study. Many also study for hours at night.

“The language skills, that is a huge hurdle for them,” said Kiichi Inagaki, an official at the Japan International Corporation for Welfare Services, which oversees the program. “However, if you go around the hospital, you understand how language is important. Nurses are dealing with medical technicalities. They are talking to doctors about what is important. In order to secure a safe medical system, they need a very high standard of Japanese.”

Advocates for foreign nurses and caregivers do not play down the importance of speaking and understanding Japanese. But they emphasize that the Japanese characters for medical terminology are among the hardest to learn; perhaps some jargon-heavy portion of the certification test, they say, could be given in English or workers’ native language.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7348

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5) Thrice-convicted crooked Dietmember Suzuki Muneo gets his: Supreme Court rejects appeal, jail time looms

Good news. Former LDP kingpin (now in his own little Hokkaido-based Party of One) Suzuki Muneo, who was twice convicted in lower courts of corruption charges, has just been convicted a third time by having his appeal rejected by the Supreme Court.

This ‘orrible little man has been of concern to Debito.org for many years now, because he has shown just how some people (one of us Dosanko, no less) are above the law. His life as case study demonstrates how in Japanese politics, a bent LDP bigwig could manipulate public policy (he was once known as the Shadow Foreign Minister, establishing under-the table kickback relationships — using GOJ discretionary budgets — with places like Russia and Tanzania, putting “Muneo Houses” in places like the Northern Territories (which he claimed were within his electorate in Outback Hokkaido). Not only that, he could get reelected despite repeated convictions just by appealing to a higher court. See more on Muneo here, and here’s a contemporary essay from 2002 (shortly before his downfall) depicting what shenanigans he was up to in real time.

Well, it only took eight years since his arrest to get this guy properly sentenced, but there you go: That’s how slowly our judiciary moves. Muneo faces jail time and loss of Diet seat. Good. Sadly, we’re bound to see this guy turn up again like a bent yen coin in our pocket. He’ll be incarcerated for a couple of years, wait out his five-year ban on running again, and no doubt throw his hat back in the ring before he hits his seventieth birthday. Hokkaido people can be that desperate to elect this man (one of the most charismatic Japanese politicians I’ve ever met) and he’ll be back protesting the rapaciousness of the Public Prosecutor. Article excerpt from the Japan Times follows.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7484

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6) Kyodo: Japan to join The Hague Convention on Child Abduction. Uncertain when.

The GOJ just said it will join the Hague Convention (on Child Abductions, not child custody, as entitled below; guess that’s more palatable to readers), something sorely needed in in a society which acts as a haven for international child kidnapping after divorce. It’s an important announcement, with a couple of caveats: 1) It hasn’t happened yet (or it’s uncertain when it will happen, so it’s not quite news), and 2) it’s unclear, as the article notes (and many Debito.org Readers believe, according to a recent poll here) that Japan will properly enforce it if it does ratify (as it has done in the past with, say, the Convention on Racial Discrimination) with laws guaranteeing joint custody and/or visitation rights. Good news, kinda. Wait and see.

Kyodo: Japan has decided to become a party to a global treaty on child custody as early as next year amid growing calls abroad for the country to join it to help resolve custody problems resulting from failed international marriages, government sources said Saturday.

The government will develop domestic laws in line with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which provides a procedure for the prompt return of ”abducted” children to their habitual country of residence and protects parental access rights, the sources said.

Complaints have been growing over cases in which a Japanese parent, often a mother, brings a child to Japan without the consent of the foreign parent, or regardless of custody determination in other countries, and denies the other parent access to the child…

However, the government has yet to determine when to ratify the treaty, as it is expected to take time to develop related domestic laws because of differences in the legal systems of Japan and other signatory nations.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7419

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ACTIVISM ON BOTH SIDES

7) NYT: “New Dissent in Japan Is Loudly Anti-Foreign”

NYT: The [xenophobic] protests also signaled the emergence here of a new type of ultranationalist group. The groups are openly anti-foreign in their message, and unafraid to win attention by holding unruly street demonstrations.

Since first appearing last year, their protests have been directed at not only Japan’s half million ethnic Koreans, but also Chinese and other Asian workers, Christian churchgoers and even Westerners in Halloween costumes. In the latter case, a few dozen angrily shouting demonstrators followed around revelers waving placards that said, “This is not a white country.”

Local news media have dubbed these groups the Net far right, because they are loosely organized via the Internet, and gather together only for demonstrations. At other times, they are a virtual community that maintains its own Web sites to announce the times and places of protests, swap information and post video recordings of their demonstrations.

While these groups remain a small if noisy fringe element here, they have won growing attention as an alarming side effect of Japan’s long economic and political decline. Most of their members appear to be young men, many of whom hold the low-paying part-time or contract jobs that have proliferated in Japan in recent years.

Though some here compare these groups to neo-Nazis, sociologists say that they are different because they lack an aggressive ideology of racial supremacy, and have so far been careful to draw the line at violence. There have been no reports of injuries, or violence beyond pushing and shouting. Rather, the Net right’s main purpose seems to be venting frustration, both about Japan’s diminished stature and in their own personal economic difficulties…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7446

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8 ) Success Story: Takamado English Speech Contest reform their “Japanese Only”, er, “Non-English Speakers Only” rules

Debito.org (via The Community) originally reported about a decade ago that the Takamado English speech contest, for junior-highschooler English speaking ability name-sponsored by a member of the Japanese royalty, was refusing foreign children enrolled in Japanese schools entry. This might seem reasonable, since native English speakers competing with Japanese L2 students would indeed have an unfair advantage.

However, Takamado’s rules excluded ALL foreigners, including those from countries that are not native English-speaking countries (such as Chinese or Mongolians). Moreover, the rules also excluded ALL Japanese who had foreign blood, as far back as grandparents.

So I wrote about it for The Community. Nothing happened. Then I wrote about it for The Japan Times back in 2004. Then something happened. I checked the rules for Takamado yesterday, and they’ve been revised to be more sophisticated about deeming who has a linguistic advantage. A foreigner is no longer just a foreigner and not a blanket tainter of Japanese student blood. Pays to say something. No longer is it a blanket system of “a foreigner is a foreigner is a foreigner”, and the attitude is less that any foreigner is a blanket tainter of Japanese student blood. Okay, better. Pays to say something. Especially in print.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7423

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9) Meeting with US Embassy Tokyo Sept 9, regarding State Dept. Country Reports on Human Rights

Yesterday three friends and I visited the US Embassy in Tokyo to discuss employment and other issues of discrimination in Japan. The consular official who received us, a Mr Thomas Whitney, kindly gave us 90 minutes to give as much information as we liked for consideration in the US State Department Country Reports on Human Rights, an annual report given by the USG on individual countries that has in past years included information on even the Otaru Onsens Case (thanks). What follows are the summaries provided in advance of what we would say. Here’s mine, since it’s shortest:

The Japanese Government (GOJ) has a history of not abiding by its treaty obligations. With “Japanese Only” signs and rules in businesses nationwide (despite unlawfulness under both the Japanese Constitution and the UN CERD) and clear and present inequality towards non-Japanese in both the workplace and in protections under the law, Japan still has no national law with penalties against racial discrimination. The GOJ continues to make arguments to the UN against adopting one (i.e., freedom of speech and the efficacy of the Japanese judiciary for redress), while abuses towards non-Japanese and ethnically-diverse Japanese worsen (e.g., new and overt examples of hate speech and xenophobia, racist statements by politicians and media, even targeting of naturalized citizens for suspicion and exclusion). The GOJ has had more than a decade (having effected the CERD in 1996) to make legislative attempts to rectify this system, and its negligence presents ill precedent for abiding under future treaty signings (such as the Hague Convention on Child Abductions). Friends must help friends break bad habits, and gentle international pressure to assist the GOJ under a new reformist administration move in the right direction is a good thing for all concerned.

NB: Since our focus was on employment issues, I cited my experiences with TADD and Ambassador Mondale back in 1995 (See Ivan Hall CARTELS OF THE MIND), and the systematic full-time contracting of NJ in academia as witnessed through the Blacklist of Japanese Universities. I also mentioned that the GOJ has constantly refused attempts to release hard numbers on how many NJ academics in Japan have contracts vs tenure compared to Japanese academics getting contracts vs tenure (see more on this Academic Apartheid here). I also tied everyone’s presentations at the end with a request for USG visits to the Ministries of Education and Labor (following on Mondale’s precedent), to express awareness of the problem and the desire for proper enforcement of existing labor laws (if not the creation of a law against racial discrimination). Finally, I gave Mr Whitney the FRANCA handouts I gave the United Nations last March regarding general issues of discrimination in Japan (here and here).

http://www.debito.org/?p=7480

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10) Asahi: Zaitokukai arrests: Rightist adult bullies of Zainichi schoolchildren being investigated

We’ve seen plenty of cases where Far-Right protesters who harass and even use violence towards people and counter-demonstrators doing so with impunity from the Japanese police (examples here, here, here, and within the movie Yasukuni). However, it looks as though they went too far when this case below was brought up before a United Nations representative visiting Japan last March, and now arrests and investigations of the bullies are taking place (youtube video of that event here, from part two). Good.

Asahi: Senior members of a group of “Net rightists” who hurled abuse at elementary schoolchildren attending a pro-Pyongyang Korean school were arrested by police on Tuesday.

The group, part of a new wave of extreme nationalist groups that use video-sharing websites to promote their activities, targeted children at Kyoto Chosen Daiichi Elementary School in the city’s Minami Ward with taunts including “Leave Japan, children of spies” and “This school is nurturing North Korean spies.”

A janitor, a snack bar operator, an electrician and a company employee, all men in their 30s and 40s, are suspected of playing leading roles in the demonstration near the school on Dec. 4 last year.

On Tuesday, police began questioning four people, including Dairyo Kawahigashi, 39, an executive of Zainichi Tokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai, which literally means, “a citizens group that does not approve of privileges for Korean residents in Japan,” and is known as Zaitokukai for short.

Police also searched the Tokyo home of the group’s chairman, Makoto Sakurai, 38…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7406

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11) “The Cove” Taiji Dolphin protesters cancel local demo due to potential Rightist violence

To: Members in “The Cove” — Save Japan Dolphins
UPDATE: Sept.1 Taiji events cancelled
Received August 20, 2010

For several important reasons, we have decided to cancel our plans in Taiji, Japan for Sept. 1st (the first day of the annual dolphin slaughter.)

Most importantly, we received word that an extreme nationalist group known to be violent is set to confront us in Taiji. Our work in Japan has never been about physical confrontation. Since “The Cove” premiered in theaters earlier this Summer, we believe we are making progress by bringing the truth to the people of Japan about the dolphin slaughter and about mercury-poisoned dolphin meat in markets. We will not play the game that the nationalist groups want us to play — we will not have it become “us versus them.” — The militant nationalist groups may gather as they like in Taiji; we will be elsewhere in Japan, talking to the media, explaining the problem, and making sure the public understands that we are not there to fight, but to work together.

COMMENT: The development above has stirred mixed feelings in me because: 1) The decision to cancel and move elsewhere the demonstration is understandable because we don’t want violence to mar the demos (and I think some of the groups will make good on their threat of violence — the police have a habit of not stopping public violence if it’s inflicted by the Right Wing. Only a violence-free demo will reassure an already tetchy Japanese public that not all demonstrators are extremists.

Yet 2) In principle, giving in to bullies only makes them stronger, and if the Rightists are able to deter demos in Taiji by threatening violence, then what’s to stop them from threatening the same elsewhere? Whenever any group is able to successfully hold public safety hostage, violence (or the threat of it) will in fact be more encouraged. This is just an internal debate I have going on inside of me. What do others think? Blog poll also included.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7432

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12) Japan will apologize for Korean Annexation 100 years ago and give back some war spoils. Bravo.

In another big piece of news, Japan is taking another step closer to healing the wounds around Asia of a cruel colonial past by saying sorry to South Korea. Good. Bravo. Sad that it took a century for the apologies and return of some war spoils, but better now than never. Let’s hope it further buries the ahistorical revisionist arguments that basically run, “We were invited to Korea, and did them a favor by taking them over.” — arguments that help nobody get over the past or help with neighborly Asian cooperation.

Kyodo: Prime Minister Naoto Kan is scheduled to release a statement for South Korea on Tuesday regarding the centenary later this month of Japan’s annexation of the Korean Peninsula, ruling party lawmakers said Monday.

The statement will include a phrase expressing deep remorse and apologizing for Japan’s colonial rule, stating also that Japan will return cultural artifacts taken from the peninsula that South Korea has been demanding, according to sources familiar with the matter…

On the transfer of cultural artifacts, the items in question are believed to be held by the Imperial Household Agency, including the Joseon Wangsil Uigwe, a meticulous record of Korean royal ceremonies and rituals.

The statement to be released Tuesday will only be directed at South Korea, whereas the Murayama statement apologized to Asian victims of Japan’s past aggression, the sources said.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7397

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13) Sendaiben digs deeper on those Narita Airport racially-profiling Instant NPA Checkpoints

Sendaiben: Flying out of Narita on September 5th, I had a few hours to kill after connecting from Sendai. I was alone, reading on a bench in the restaurant area. After about 20 minutes, a young and very pleasant policeman came up and asked to see my passport in passable English. I replied in Japanese, and we had an interesting conversation. Unfortunately I was mentally unprepared for all of this, so gave him my passport from which he noted down all the details. I refused to provide a contact phone number, however…

Some important points:

1. It seems that the whole exercise is voluntary, something he mentioned when I refused to provide the phone number.

2. I reminded him of the law on the management of personal information, but he was unable to tell me why they needed my passport details or how long they would be kept on file.

3. He claimed it was a random check but that they asked ‘people who seemed foreign’. I asked him to ask some Asian people next, and he said he would

The whole thing seemed like a training exercise, down to the silent sempai observing from ten metres away…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7461

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14) M-Net Magazine publishes FRANCA March 2010 report to UN Rapporteur in Japanese

Here is my FRANCA report last March delivered to UN Rapporteur Jorge Bustamante, rendered into Japanese (English original from here).

http://www.debito.org/?p=7029

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INTERESTING TANGENTS

15) Economist.com summary of Amakudari system

For a Summer Tangent, here’s a good summary of Japan’s Amakudari system, and its effects on politics and prospects for reform. The Economist has come a long way from when I first read it back in the Eighties, when it basically assumed that Japan’s postwar economic miracle was due to theoretical economic efficiencies (as opposed to a closed captive domestic market and sweetheart-deal overseas trade access). Now they have people here on the ground (well, one that I’ve met, and I found him knowledgeable and impressive) who aren’t blinkered by mere Adam-Smithism and clearly know their way around. Good. Have a read. It’s short and sweet.

Economist: A swathe of high-ranking bureaucrats from Japan’s biggest ministries began in new posts on July 30th, doled out as part of an annual summer rite. A gaggle of even more senior ones were asked to retire — and immediately won cushy, lucrative jobs at quasi-public agencies and private foundations. Some were even sent to companies in industries they had previously regulated.

The practice is called amakudari (meaning “descent from heaven”). It has long reflected unhealthily close relations between bureaucrats and business, distorting the work of civil servants on the look out for a plum job, and burdening firms with the deadweight of ex-pen pushers serving as “senior advisers”. At its worst, it lets civil servants enrich themselves, pay back vested interests and resist economic reform. One reason why Japan’s banking crisis in the 1990s took so long to fix was because former senior staff from the finance ministry and Bank of Japan had moved to the banks that needed fixing. They pressed their former deputies to bail them out on soft terms, and then failed to carry out much-needed surgery…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7403

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16) Coleman Japan Inc. has instructions “For Japanese Consumers Only”

As a lighter post, Debito.org Reader SW sends these words and a silly instruction booklet from Coleman Japan Inc., saying their instructions are “For Japanese Consumers Only”.

I think Coleman HQ (in the US) has let their oversight of their licensee go a bit, allowing the assumption that only Japanese can read Japanese. A bit of sense and sensitivity would have rendered it as “For Consumers in Japan Only” (which I’ve seen enclosed for some products in terms of warranties). Or else this needn’t be put on the form at all: I doubt anyone will panic if they see a page of gibberish as long as there is another page with something legible. But this carelessness has left a bit of a sour taste in one consumer’s mouth, quite unnecessarily.

Or, more to the point, considering how anally-retentive people can get here about rules, business practices, outside impressions, what have you, it’s a stark contrast to see this much carelessness and half-assedness in preparation and presentation. It should be out of character. The fact that it’s not, i.e. we see half-assed and careless translations like these all the time (and this time from an American-brand licensee, no less), gets to the point where it begs a lot of questions about sensitivity and cultural awareness, not to mention professionality…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7390

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17) Discussion: “If you could change one thing about a society…”

In one of my nights out here in Tokyo (we have a lot of deep conversations), friend HippieChris brought up an interesting question:

“If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about a society, what would that be?”

I thought I’d pose that to the blog. Rules are: What one thing would you change about Japan, and what one thing would you change about your society of origin, if different? Two places. (It’s a useful exercise. It’s actually surprisingly difficult to find something fundamentally changeworthy about your society of origin, since it’s hard for a fish to see the water in the fishbowl until s/he’s been out of it for awhile.)

I’ll start:

The one thing I’d change about Japan would be the lack of “Do Unto Others…” Not enough people see a problem as something that warrants attention because it doesn’t affect them. “Hey, that’s your problem, not mine, so why create more bother for myself by considering it or asking for it to stop?” The lack of a universal, “this hurts people, so stoppit” has created numerous issues for me in my calls for “Japanese Only” signs to come down, for example. A common attitude: “Well, it doesn’t affect me”, meaning they’re not going to be stopped by the sign, has let countless apathetics off the hook of caring. Even if we try to say, “Well, what if you went overseas and it happened to you?” doesn’t always work either: They just say, “Well, I’m not going overseas.” For all the trappings of the “Omoi Yari” society, people here are surprisingly diffident about the plights of others, not walking a mile in their shoes. Magic-wanding that away would take care of a lot of social ills that affect people who aren’t in the majority.

The one thing I’d change about the United States would be the arrogance. It’s amazing how much ignorance the “We’re Number One” attitude breeds, shutting Americans off to so many cultural influences. Worse yet, a common assumption that everyone wants to be American, and that every society is eventually going to be (or want to be) like America, makes people blind to alternative ways of life (not a good thing when you’re trying to promote democracy as a system overseas; that ultimately puts more Americans in harm’s way). A sobering belief that other people might be happy in their “foreign lifestyles”, even might find objectionable the things that Americans take for granted without much reflection (e.g., food as fuel, judging value in terms of money, seeing success as how rich you are, etc.), might open a few doors to a more self-examined life.

These aren’t all that different, actually. The undercurrent is the need to understand the values and life choices of others, and treat them with the respect they deserve. But that’s my magic wand. How about other Debito.org Readers? I’d rather people offer their visions rather than take apart mine (participate in the exercise rather than be a critic, please). Go for it.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7489

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… and finally …

18) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column: ‘Don’t blame JET for Japan’s bad English”

NB: This article became the #1 most read article all day last Tuesday, then very unusually remained #2 all day Wednesday before bumping back up to #1 again. It’s probably the most-read article I’ve ever written for the JT. Enjoy.

The Japan Times Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010
JUST BE CAUSE
Don’t blame JET for Japan’s poor English
By DEBITO ARUDOU
Courtesy
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100907ad.html
Feedback and links to sources at
http://www.debito.org/?p=7474

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All for today. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito of Sapporo, Japan

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 12, 2010 ENDS

Weekend Tangent: My great grandmother’s veal turkey stuffing recipe

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  This is some serious business for me, although a tangent for others (but not so as Canadian Thanksgiving is mere days away; American readers, stock up!).

This here’s a family recipe, handed down through now four generations, for the thing I miss the most about the US:  turkey stuffing.  As any aficionado of turkeys knows, if the stuffing is subpar, then the turkey also comes out dry and bland (this is one of the reasons why so many Japanese I believe find turkey underwhelming, and don’t know what the fuss is about).

I grew up on this, but since I can’t get it here (turkeys cooked here are often killed by a soy sauce, not a butter, base; they are smoked up here in Hokkaido rather than baked as well, which to me is underwhelming), there’s no reason why I shouldn’t propagate this recipe worldwide.  It’s very simple.  The only thing you have to do is convert Imperial to metric, and Bob’s Your Uncle.  From my great grandmother Appolonia Mendis Cypcar, born in Southern Poland, emigrated to the US at the turn of the 20th Century, survivor of one of the world’s biggest nautical disasters (the capsizing of The Eastland in Chicago harbor on July 24, 1915), survivor of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 (my great grandfather Mendis did not survive it), survivor of the Great Depression, who died at the age of 96 in the 1980s.

APPOLONIA MENDIS CYPCAR’S TURKEY STUFFING
From Arudou Debito, great grandson, Debito.org

(for a 13-14 lb turkey)

  1. 1 lb ground veal
  2. 1/2 box of saltines (box 1 1b size) ground coarsely
  3. 1 pint whole milk
  4. 1/2 lb butter
  5. 4 eggs beaten
  6. salt and pepper to taste

And that’s it. Mix together and stuff family turkey as normal.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito in Tokyo

“Pinprick Protests”: Chand Bakshi fights back against “NJ ID Checkpoint” hotel, gets apology

mytest

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

Hi Blog. Here is a report from Chand Bakshi on how he called “basta” to a hotel that was racially profiling its customers, demanding all visually-looking NJ submit to an ID check and copy — claiming erroneously that this was required by law. Chand followed up on this to the point where he got capitulation and an apology. Well done.

This is actually pretty effective. The hotel I usually stay at in Tokyo has on various occasions (depending on how I was dressed) tried to Gaijin Card me too. I told them (and later followed up with an explanation to the management) that this only applied to tourists; NJ with Japanese addresses are not required to show ID. Of course, that’s not what the NPA would have hotels believe — they have explicitly instructed hotels to inspect and photocopy ID of ALL NJ. Which is why we must fight back against this invitation to racial profiling, as Chand has below.

In my case, my Tokyo hotel yesterday asked me if I had a domestic address upon check-in (which I’m fine with). I pointed to my name on the check-in card and said, check your records — I’m not only a Japanese, but also a frequent customer. Got a deep apology. But at least now my hotel chain is more sophisticated in its approach.

Read on for Chand’s report. Thanks Chand. Arudou Debito in Tokyo

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October 7, 2010

Dear Debito,

I’d like to share a recent experience I had with a hotel that was discriminating against NJ and it’s somewhat positive outcome.

I live in Kyushu and took a trip to Nagasaki with a Japanese friend; we decided to stay at the Richmond Hotel in Nagasaki. It’s one of a countrywide chain.

http://www.richmondhotel.jp/en/nagasaki/index.php

When we checked in the staff asked for my passport or gaijin card. Now, since living in Japan I’ve had my share of bad hotel experiences, refused service etc, but I tend not to get too upset when asked for my gaijin card as I realize its often a communication error and what the staff really want is any ID from all customers and they just presume NJ are unlikely to have Japanese driving licenses etc. So I offered the staff my Japanese driving license instead. However they wouldn’t accept it. They wanted a gaijin card or passport only. I explained to them that as a resident of Japan it wasn’t required that I show my gaijin card to a hotel and any ID should suffice. They continued to insist I had to give them my gaijin card and I refused. I brought up the topic of discrimination and the staff seemed to have an automatic English response,

‘It is not discrimination, it is required by law, please understand.’

Finally they accepted my driving license, as ID and all seemed ok, check in completed they handed over our keys and wished us a happy stay. I then realized they hadn’t asked my Japanese friend for any ID. I asked them why they hadn’t checked my friend. Their reply was ‘only gaikokujin need to show ID, please understand.”

I started telling them off again much to the embarrassment of my Japanese friend, a supervisor came and said rudely the now all too familiar line. ‘It is not discrimination, it is required by law, please understand’

I asked what law, and was told ‘the Ryokan Gyouhou, please understand it is not discrimination.’

As an avid debito.org reader I was pretty sure this was incorrect, but there was the chance the law had changed and more importantly my Japanese friend was becoming frustrated/embarrassed and wanted to get on with sightseeing so I let the issue drop.

When I returned home I check with Debito that the Ryokan Gyouhou hadn’t changed and contacted the hotel again via telephone.

I got explained my unhappiness to various staff who where much more friendly over the phone than they had been in person. The lobby staff still kept saying it was required by law, but when I asked them if they had actually read the Gyouhou as I had they passed me up the management chain.

Finally I got to a lady who told me it wasn’t actually the law but was in fact a request from the Nagasaki police, she listened to my concerns that I basically summarized as:

* NJ are particularly sensitive to discrimination in hotels as we are sometimes refused service.

*NJ aren’t required by law to give their gaijin cards to hotel staff, they should ask for ID only, insisting on the gaijin card could be discrimination and ideally the word ‘gaijin card’ should never come out of hotel staff’s mouths.

* Requiring ID from NJ and not Japanese is discrimination, no argument about it.

*Its racial profiling as my children could look NJ despite holding Japanese citizenship. And why wasn’t my Japanese friend checked in case they were Zainichi Korean as they too hold gaijin cards.

*If they’re collecting this data on NJ what is being done with it?

She said she understood, and that they were just following the police’s instructions. Nothing was done with the copies of the IDs and they were shredded after a month.

I told her as the copy of my ID had been copied under a discriminatory policy I would like it returned to me.

The lady said she couldn’t approve that but would get her boss to call me in a few days.

A few days later the manager, a Mr. Motoyama contacted me, he was very apologetic. They said that they were sorry they had offended me, and they would return the copy of my ID.

I told him I was concerned that this was going to happen again and what was their hotel was going to do about it. Mr. Motoyama said he would inform head office of the error and in his own hotel advise the staff to follow the Gyomhou not the instructions of the police and that this shouldn’t happen again.

I asked him if this was because of the 2005 memo. (previously discussed on debito.org at http://www.debito.org/japantimes101805.html and www.debito.org/newhotelpassportlaw.jpg)

However Mr. Motoyama informed me that the police had asked for the information to be collected in 2007 when they visited the hotel in person.

They had been collecting copies of all ‘gaijin’s ‘ cards since then but hadn’t actually been passing them to the police, just shredding them after a month.

A few days later the copy of my ID and an apology letter arrived in the post. (see JPEG attached.)

So this all had a fairly satisfactory outcome, however it’s frustrating to constantly have hassle when traveling. Here the hotel staff were just being stupid. They had an automatic English response ready with their ‘It is not discrimination, it is the law please understand.” so, they must’ve been getting complaints fairly regularly. They should’ve read the Ryokan Gyouhou.

But the real culprits here are the police, I can understand how a Japanese might be tempted to follow instructions from the police without checking first if it was the law or not. Now I haven’t contacted the police (yet), but this hotel problem isn’t going to be solved one hotel at a time or even one police station at a time. It needs sorting out once and for all and I think we can do it.

We need to create some kind of guide/pamphlet/oshirase explaining the law. Maybe use some cute characters, ‘anti-sabetsu chan or something’. Then we need to get it to every hotel in the country.

So if anyone wants to help out with this project over the next few months, has some ideas, or contacts, especially with how to distribute any notices we make to literally 1000’s of hotels drop me a line at my email address:

chandbakshi AT gmail DOT com

To avoid the spam filters mark it ‘hotels’ or something. I’ll look forward to hearing from people.
Chand
ENDS

Globe and Mail (Canada): “A black sun rises in a declining Japan”

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. The Globe and Mail (Canada) makes a case that a groundswell of far-rightism in Japan is even worrying the entrenched far-rightists.  Putting this article up for comments. While in Canada, I was contacted by the CBC Radio One for an interview on Japan’s immigration issues (that interview happened on Monday morning, recorded in Calgary). Perhaps this issue is making the rounds within Canadian media?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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October 5, 2010
A black sun rises in a declining Japan
By MARK MacKINNON
From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail (Canada)
Amidst another decade of economic stagnation, far-right nationalism threatens the country’s foundation

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/asia-pacific/a-black-sun-rises-in-a-declining-japan/article1744434/
Courtesy of MS and AC

Until recently, it was the likes of Mitsuhiro Kimura that worried Japan’s political mainstream. The leader of the far-right Issuikai movement, he counted Saddam Hussein and French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen among his allies, and created friction with Japan’s neighbours by loudly denying the country’s Second World War crimes.

But now Mr. Kimura is among those concerned about a new breed of extremists, who are capitalizing on the bruised pride and swelling anger in Japan with a brand of politics that makes even a friend of the former Iraqi dictator uncomfortable. As this country staggers through a second decade of economic stagnation, and suffers the indignation of being eclipsed by historic rival China, there’s a common refrain coming from the growing ranks of this country’s young and angry: Japan must stand up for itself – and that foreigners are to blame for the country’s ills.

Take the past week alone. Infuriated by a perceived Japanese climbdown in a dispute with China over an island chain that both nations claim, right-wingers tossed smoke bombs at the Chinese consulates in the cities of Fukuoka and Nagasaki. Another man was arrested with a knife in his bag outside the Tokyo residence of Prime Minister Naoto Kan. On Friday, a motorcade of 60 cars organized by a right-wing group briefly surrounded a bus carrying Chinese tourists in Fukuoka, prompting Beijing to issue a warning to its citizens about the dangers of visiting Japan.

No one was hurt in any of the incidents. But they highlight a tide of rising nationalism that is just one of the new social ills afflicting a country that 20 years ago was the richest and most stable on the planet. Two consecutive “lost decades” and a dearth of political leadership – five prime ministers in the past four years – have unmoored Japan.

“There is a deepening sense that society is at an impasse,” Mr. Kan told an extraordinary session of Japan’s parliament convened last week. He went on to list off Japan’s many and deepening problems: economic stagnation; rising unemployment; an aging society and the highest suicide rate in the developed world.

One issue Mr. Kan didn’t mention is that more and more Japanese are turning away from traditional politics and embracing extremist ideologies laced with chilling hints of the country’s militaristic history.

On Saturday, an estimated 2,700 rightists marched through Tokyo’s main shopping district, decrying the government’s perceived weakness in the dispute with Beijing and calling for Chinese and Koreans to leave Japan. Several smaller anti-Chinese and anti-foreigner marches took place again Sunday, with some in the crowd wearing military-style black uniforms and others waving the Rising Sun flag the country’s military flew while conquering nearly all of East Asia during the Second World War.

“If you are not tough enough to stand up for Japan, get out of Japan! We need to fight against China!” a member of the extremist Zaitokukai movement shouted through a bullhorn Sunday morning, his anger echoing through the high-end shopping malls and coffee shops of Tokyo’s Shibuya district.

Another marcher switched targets when it was his turn at the bullhorn. “Throw illegal immigrants into Tokyo Bay!” he yelled to loud cheers from his fellow marchers and silent stares from shoppers who paused to watch the procession. If anyone disagreed with the sentiment, no one said so publicly.

The weekend rallies were organized over the Internet by new right-wing organizations that, unlike their predecessors, don’t play by the staid rules of Japanese politics. Dubbed the “Net far right” by local media and police, groups such as Zaitokukai have capitalized on the anger and despair many Japanese feel as this proud country struggles to come to grips with its economic malaise, as well as a sense that Japan is losing relevance and respect on the international stage. Founded three years ago, Zaitokukai claims to have more than 10,000 active members, with several times that number quietly following them and reading their xenophobic postings online.

“These Net right-wingers have no rules, no restrictions … . I’m against this kind of hate speech, these ugly comments. Their thoughts and ideas are okay, but the way they express them is not,” said Mr. Kimura, whose own Issuikai movement made headlines earlier this year by hosting an international gathering of right-wingers, including Mr. Le Pen, that featured a visit to the controversial Yasukuni shrine, which honours Japanese war dead, including several convicted war criminals.

The return of Japanese extremism is in many ways unsurprising. While economists fret over the country’s slow overall growth and the threat of deflation, it’s the microeconomic picture that can be truly shocking.

With unemployment at a historic high of over 5 per cent – a number that understates the problem since many Japanese have given up looking for work altogether – the newly homeless now fill the country’s parks and Internet cafés. Twenty-three per cent of Tokyo schoolchildren will rely on government aid for things such as school supplies this year. Depression stalks the country and 26,500 people committed suicide in 2009, the highest rate in the world. If the Great Recession is over, it doesn’t feel like the recovery has started yet in Japan.

As in Europe 80 years ago, blame for the country’s troubles has fallen on foreigners. The No. 1 target is ethnic Koreans who live in Japan (Zaitokukai is the Japanese acronym for the group’s unwieldy formal title, Citizens’ Group That Will Not Forgive Special Privileges for Koreans in Japan), followed by the Chinese. A liberalized immigration system, which pundits across the spectrum agree is desperately needed to help deal with a rapidly aging population, is considered too sensitive to touch for any politician concerned about keeping his job in the next election.

“There are of course some similarities with the fascist and Nazi movements. Those who join Zaitokukai are the jobless and the underemployed, those on the periphery of the established society. They’re disheartened, and they have a lot of frustration,” said Gemki Fujii, a right-wing intellectual and author. However, he said that Zaitokukai is doomed to remain a fringe group because few Japanese admire the group’s abrasive tactics.

But the xenophobia that Zaitokukai helps spread via the Internet and its street demonstrations appears to be taking hold in Japan, which has a long tradition of isolating itself from the world. Racist comments about the country’s ethnic Korean and Chinese citizens are startlingly common, while other foreigners – including some long-term residents of Japan – say they also feel increasingly unwelcome, and complain of police harassment and rules that prevent non-Japanese from renting homes or gaining professional tenure.

While many of Japan’s neighbours – including China and both North and South Korea – say Tokyo still needs to do more to atone for its wartime misdeeds, academics say the country is moving in the opposite direction.

“There’s been a re-emergence of a right-wing, nationalistic discourse and reinterpretation of history,” said Koichi Nakano, an associate professor of political science at Sophia University in Tokyo. “Go into a Tokyo bookstore and you’re bound to run into piles of books that would not be acceptable in Western society – Holocaust denials and the such. If it were Germany, there would be a big scandal in the international community. But because it’s Japan and [the books are] in Japanese, it makes it kind of invisible.”

Despite its status as one of Japan’s leading academic institutions, even Sophia University found itself on Zaitokukai’s target list last year when a small crowd gathered in front of the campus gates to shout “Christians, get out of Japan!”

“Badmouthing Chinese or Koreans in a very racist way is so abundant that it doesn’t even offend people any more,” Prof. Nakano said. “There was a taboo and now the taboo is gone. They kind of things they say, even in the late 1990s were almost unthinkable.”
ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Oct 5 2010: “Census blind to Japan’s true diversity”

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. Back from abroad, currently in Tokyo recovering from jetlag, getting ready for my speech at Nihon University this Sunday. Here’s my column from yesterday for commentary.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg
Census blind to Japan’s true diversity

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010

By DEBITO ARUDOU
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20101005ad.html

It’s that time of the decade again. By now, all households in Japan should have received and submitted Japan’s National Census (kokusei chousa), a survey taken every five years expressly to assist in policymaking, drawing up electoral districts and other matters of taxation and representation. This of course includes non-Japanese (NJ) on visas of three months or longer. Get yours?

This time the Japanese government did some nice things for NJ: It offered a multilingual website (Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese and English) explaining the hows and whys of the census. It also offered the census itself in 27 different languages, along with enhanced privacy protection measures. You can send the form in yourself, for example, so you don’t have some nosy census-taker peering over your shoulder (with the white-hot curiosity some people display over anything an NJ does).

Class act. A golden “Attaboy!” from this columnist.

However, one thing is still unfortunately being overlooked in the census: Japan’s ethnic diversity.

Postwar Japan has officially maintained (justified in part by the feel-good pseudoscience of nihonjinron) that Japan is a monocultural, monoethnic and homogeneous society.

It wasn’t until 1997 that the government officially recognized that any kind of minority even exists in Japan (the Ainu), and it took until 2008 before the Diet passed a resolution recognizing the Ainu as an indigenous people “with a distinct language, religion and culture.”
http://www.debito.org/?p=1719

Nevertheless, this time around Japan’s census does not measure for ethnicity (minzoku). It still measures only for nationality (kokuseki). In other words, on the form you indicate that you are Japanese or that you are miscellaneous (indicate nationality).

So what does that mean for the Ainu? They are Japanese citizens, of course, but their indigenous status remains unaccounted for.

Then how about naturalized citizens? I of course wrote down “Japanese” for my nationality on the census. But I would also have liked to indicate that I am a hyphenated Japanese — a Japanese with American roots, an Amerika-kei Nihonjin.

But it’s not just about me. How about children of international marriages? My kids are just as American as they are Japanese, so why not have it formally acknowledged? It would be in other societies with ethnic diversity. Why can’t we show how genetically diverse Japanese society is, or is becoming?

Because of politics. I believe the government still wants to maintain the image of Japan’s ethnic homogeneity, as it justifies a lot of status-quo policymaking (e.g., a closed-door refugee regime, no official immigration policy, the firm and oft-repeated belief that Japan is not and will never be an “immigration nation”).

After all, Japan’s identity is currently based on the ideals of cultural and even racial purity. Why would one dare to collect official data that would undermine that?

The official reason I keep getting from the Census Bureau is that this is a privacy issue. Asking people for their ethnic backgrounds is apparently too personal.

So you’re saying other questions on the census, such as household income, are not? Our personal information, according to your flash website, is properly protected anyway, right? If privacy is a concern, why does Japan have such an intrusive, even door-to-door, census at all?

Again, the government says it is for the creation of good policy in Japan. Which means, by extension, that matters of diversity and ethnicity are not part of good policymaking?

Sure, it’s nice to believe that by not making an issue of one’s roots, naturalized and multiethnic Japanese are officially treated the same as any other Japanese. But invisibility and accuracy are two different things. If accuracy is what the census is aiming for, it would be better to acknowledge that people of a wide range of ethnicities hold Japanese nationality.

Here a statistic the government already knows: International marriages in Japan have increased from 30,000 to 40,000 couples per year this past decade. Assuming not unreasonably that each couple has two children, mathematically Japan must be home to hundreds of thousands of multiethnic Japanese children. We would know better how many if we only asked.

Moreover, we have more naturalized citizens in Japan than ever before. That matters.

My suggestion: To alleviate privacy concerns, make ethnicity an optional question on the census form. Other questions are optional. Why not this one?

Be accurate. Count us as hyphenated citizens if that’s what we choose. Because like it or not, Japan is becoming multiethnic. Better get some policies ready for it.

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
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010

ENDS

Sendaiben and MB on Narita Airport again, this time both before and after entry

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. Have just finished giving a presentation and partaking in a PhD workshop at the University of British Columbia (getting ready for those sucked all the time out of blogging, sorry). But we have some updates to some recent posts on how Immigration (and extensions thereof) is treating people crossing borders and afterwards. Sendaiben and MB comment:

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September 29, 2010
From Sendaiben:

Just came back through Narita and gave my usual calm and friendly rant to the immigration officer (she wasn’t particularly impressed -got a very curt “if you don’t comply you can’t come in”). Fair enough.

I then had a thought. The re-entry permit holder line anywhere I’ve been has been by far the shortest. I have never had to wait more than a minute or so, unlike the Japanese citizens who often have long lines (and let’s not talk about the tourist lines, which are often pretty bad). I can also take my family through with me (even though they have Japanese passports) and save them time standing in line too.

If you think of the re-entry line as a VIP line that requires additional security (fingerprints), does that not make the whole thing easier to swallow? After all, it’s not such a big deal, is it? It’s not worth getting het up about every single time we come back into the country, is it?

Sadly, that doesn’t work for me, however much I would like it to. I really dislike the policy, which seems pointless and needlessly offensive to me.

I will keep complaining, although I make sure I do so in a calm and friendly manner (the immigration officers on the desks didn’t make the rules, so there is no point being hostile to them). However, as public servants, they should know how the public feels about the policies they carry out: thus it is my right to talk about it in a calm and reasonable way 😉

Ironically it is this more than anything else which is pushing me to naturalize: I don’t need the grief every time I come home. What does everyone else think?

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MB adds what happens once within the pale:

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July 14, 2010
From MB:

It seems that Narita cops still practice racial profiling even after all the protests lodged at their office in Narita…this is sad because it shows we foreigners count like zero.

I frequently use Narita and to say the truth this was the first time I saw this bad practice at work. Hearsay is one thing, seeing something with your eyes is very different and I have to be honest to say that I got angry.

In the open space just before the Narita Express entrance two policemen
had stopped two people and were asking them various things.

Those two people of course were also showing their passports. They were foreigners. At that point I took one picture. I thought to myself, “Well, they will also stop Japanese….”. So I purposedly waited nearby to see what the two cops would do next.

When I saw that the next people they stopped were foreigners too I began to feel angry. Welcome to Japan.

Then, after these two people the policemen stopped another couple of…. foreigners.

All of this lasted like 30 minutes and they only stopped foreigners (all white, no asians etc.).

I also walked around to see if they stopped me but they didn’t. Maybe I look “mendokusai” ? One of the two cops looked at me after I was staring him for a long time but he didn’t make any move. The pattern I noticed is:

Target:
– white only
– two people for two cops
– tourist looking type
– normal looking person (with this I mean
those people they stopped were not really “suspicious” looking !!)

The cops always asked for:
– passports
and, this is interesting, I also noticed that in all three cases they talked to their targets for a while, THEN, when they were about to let them go, they asked again, casually, for some last thing (which I couldn’t hear). I am curious to know what it was…

The pattern was something like: “Thanks, now you may go. (then with a surprised face) Ah…I forgot to ask….”

I really do hope they also start stopping anybody not only practice dummies. This practice doesn’t make me feel safer at all, instead it makes me think of all those people that just pass through Narita without any fear to be stopped by these robo-cops.

ENDS