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From Debito's doctoral research:

Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

  • Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination
  • (Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield HB 2015, PB 2016)

    Click on book cover for reviews, previews, and 30% discount direct from publisher. Available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle eBook on

  • Book IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan
  • Archive for November, 2010

    Yomiuri: ‘Leaked MPD data’ out as book / Documents published as is; names of police, NJ informants revealed

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

    This breaking news from the weekend compounds just how sinister the activities of the Japanese police can be. First spying on people in the name of combating terrorism because they’re Muslims or connected to Muslims, then losing control of the information to the point where it becomes a book on sale to the public. Shame on you, Metropolitan Police Department. Imagine how big a scandal this would have been if Japanese people had been treated similarly.

    Now, of course, since this is embarrassing to the police, the book (as per checks with and an in-person check at Kinokuniya Sapporo yesterday) is no longer being sold. Good. But that sure was quick, compared to how much comparative time and effort it took for the Gaijin Hanzai Ura Files Mook in 2007 (which I believe the police contributed information to) to go off-market. Seems to me less the need to protect individual NJ than for the police to cover their collective ketsu. Whatever. The book is off the market. The materials for it shouldn’t have been collected in the first place.

    Yomiuri: A Tokyo publishing house has released a book containing what are believed to be Metropolitan Police Department antiterrorism documents that were leaked onto the Internet last month.

    Released by Dai-San Shokan Thursday, the book contains the personal information of Muslim residents in this country, such as their names and addresses.

    Akira Kitagawa, president of the publisher, said he decided to put out the book “to raise questions about the laxity of the police’s information control system.”…

    The 469-page book, titled “Ryushutsu ‘Koan Tero Joho’ Zen Deta” (Leaked police terrorism info: all data), is on sale at some bookstores, but several major publishing agents have refused to distribute it.

    If the documents are authentic, the book contains the names and photos of foreign residents being monitored by the 3rd Foreign Affairs Division at the Public Security Bureau of the MPD, the names of people who have cooperated with the police, and the photos and addresses of police officers involved in terrorism investigations.

    Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, GAIJIN HANZAI mag, Human Rights, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media | 7 Comments »

    WSJ: Domestic Group Appeals for Overhaul of Japanese Immigration

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

    WSJ: A powerful group of politicians, academics and business leaders is set to launch an unusual campaign to urge Japan to pry open its doors to foreigners, saying the country’s survival hinges on revamping its immigration policy.

    Japan has one of the most restrictive immigration policies in the world, and the debate over whether to allow more foreigners to settle in the country has long been a contentious, politically charged issue for the nation. But recently, calls to allow more foreign workers to enter Japan have become louder, as the aging population continues to shrink and the country’s competitiveness and economic growth pales in comparison with its neighbor to the west: China. A minuscule 1.7% of the overall Japanese population are foreigners, compared with 6.8% in the United Kingdom and 21.4% in Switzerland, according to the OECD.

    The 87-member policy council of the Japan Forum of International Relations, a powerful nonprofit research foundation, will on Thursday launch a half-page advertisement in the country’s leading newspapers, urging Japan to rethink its immigration policy. They also submitted their policy recommendations to Naoto Kan, the country’s prime minister.

    “If Japan wants to survive in a globalized world economy and to advance her integration with the burgeoning East Asian economy, she essentially has no other choice but to accept foreign migrants,” the advertisement says.

    The policy council has issued several recommendations, including allowing more skilled workers to enter the labor market, particularly in industries where there are shortages of domestic workers, such as construction and the auto industry. Under economic-partnership agreements with Indonesia and the Philippines, Tokyo has allowed nurses and nursing-care specialists from these countries to enter Japan, but applicants are subjected to a grueling test in Japanese that only three people have passed. The council says these tests have to be made easier…

    Posted in Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 19 Comments »

    Weekend Tangent: NHK: GOJ enshrining more rights for handicapped. Hope for same for NJ?

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

    We might have the image of the DPJ being too bogged down in politics to get much done. But as NHK reports below (be sure to watch video too from the link), we have some pretty impressive lawmaking being done by a more liberal government for one underprivileged segment of Japanese society — the handicapped.

    The committee’s deliberations are saying the things we want guaranteed vis-a-vis human rights for human beings — including protections enshrined in law. With this precedent and degree of enlightenment, can we but hope that they could someday stretch it to include non-citizens? The linkage, however tenuous, is there. Have a read

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Human Rights, Tangents, 日本語 | 4 Comments »

    Weekend Tangent: LA Times: PRC Census also measures for ethnicity, unlike Japan’s Census

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

    LAT: “Similar to the census process in the United States, most people [in China] are given a standard [census] form with a few basic questions: 18 of them centering on names, ages, occupation. Ethnicity is also asked, but not religion, that being a sensitive subject in a communist country that is officially atheist. One-tenth of the population, meanwhile, was selected for a longer, 45-question form that includes queries about income, savings, the type of water one drinks (tap or boiled) and the number of bathrooms in the house…”

    COMMENT: What’s interesting as far as goes is that, despite some claims of Chinese homogeneity thanks to the Han majority, the PRC apparently DOES survey for ethnicity. Unlike the GOJ. Again, that’s the hegemony of homogeneity in Japan.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Japanese Government, Tangents | 4 Comments »


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

    Table of Contents:
    1) Mainichi: Bullying of Filipina-Japanese grade schooler in Gunma leads to suicide: NHK ignores ethnicity issue in reports
    2) Japan Times: MEXT in line to deliberate on ijime after grade schooler Uemura Akiko suicide
    3) French Embassy reports French father of abducted child in Japan commits suicide
    4) TV America’s Most Wanted on unsolved questionable death of an American in Shinjuku Aug 2010. Any press in Japan?
    5) My college mentor, Chalmers Johnson, dies at 79

    6) Japan Times: Leaked documents reveal Tokyo Police spies on Muslim residents, tries to make snitches of them
    7) Ministry of Justice website justifying crime prevention measures
    due to “frequent occurrence of serious crimes committed by foreign nationals and increase in transnational crimes”
    8 ) Eido Inoue on improbable remote tracking of RFID next-generation “Gaijin Cards”; yet “scan-proof” travel pouches now on sale
    9) WB and me on what NJ tourists also need in Japan — security against NPA harassment
    10) Eyewitness report on how NPA is targeting NJ in Gotanda as security risk for APEC Summit in Yokohama

    11) Daily Yomiuri eikaiwa columnist Mike Guest misrepresents not only the record, but also his own academic credentials
    12) Fun and Games at MOFA Passport Renewal — almost denied a passport because of one letter
    13) Weird broadside from Japan Helpline’s Ken Joseph Jr. on Facebook: Claims my naturalization queers my campaigning
    14) Japan Times Amy Savoie on int’l child abductions and the manufacturing of consent for it within Japan
    15) Japan businesses cry foul over UK visa regime, threaten pullout. Fancy that happening to the GOJ.

    16) The Independent (UK) on Japan’s rising nationalism as Japan slips in world rankings
    17) UK Guardian compares South Korea’s relatively open-minded future with Japan’s possible “Second Edo Period” of insulation
    18) Times Higher Education on MEXT: “Japan’s entrenched ideas hinder the push to attract more foreign students and staff”
    19) Eurobiz Magazine’s Tony McNicol on the future abolition of the “Gaijin Tax” Re-Entry Permits
    20) CBC interview with me on Japan’s shrinking population and prospects for immigration
    21) For Educators in Japan: National EFL Job Satisfaction Survey

    … and finally …

    22) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Nov 2, 2010: ‘Homogeneous,’ ‘unique’ myths stunt discourse in Japan Studies

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    French Embassy reports French father of abducted child in Japan commits suicide

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

    The latest in a series of tragedies through child abductions by Japanese because Japan’s laws and Family Court do not prevent them (more at The tragedy is clearly not only that of children being deprived of a parent. On November 19, a Left-Behind Parent deprived himself of his life. As reports the French Embassy in French and Japanese on November 24. English translation first, then official texts from the Embassy. We’ve had government after government denouncing this practice, GOJ, as the French Embassy puts it so eruditely below. How much longer must it go on?

    French Embassy: Our compatriot Arnaud Simon killed himself Friday, November 19. The French teacher in Tokyo, he was 35 years old and lived in Japan since 2006.

    Separated from his wife since last March, he was the father of a boy of 20 months he had sought unsuccessfully to gain custody. Our community is in mourning and I present on behalf of all our condolences to his family and loved ones.

    Nobody can speak with certainty about the reasons why a man so young to commit an act so terrible. Mr. Simon, however, had recently expressed to the consular section of our embassy in Tokyo of its difficulties to meet his son and it is very likely that the separation from her child was a determining factor. This reminds us all if need be suffering fathers of the 32 French and two hundred other cases identified by consular authorities as being deprived of because of their parental rights.

    It is clear that our words and deeds are little face a dramatic situation, but I wanted to remind the determined action of the French authorities and the Embassy in connection with its German partners, American, Australian, Belgian, British, Canadian, Colombian, Spanish, Hungarian, Italian and New Zealand calling on Japan to ratify the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and expedite a review of individual records to find appropriate solutions where they are possible, depending on circumstances.

    It is the interests of children, that nobody has the right to deprive one of their parents. It is also to take into account the suffering of the fathers we have today is a tragic event.

    Posted in Child Abductions, 日本語 | 15 Comments »

    Japan businesses cry foul over UK visa regime, threaten pullout. Fancy that happening to the GOJ.

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

    Here’s another entry for the “shoe on the other foot” department — how Japan businesses squeal “foul!” when they face visa restrictions on their Japanese hires within Britain, and threaten sanctions and pullouts. Imagine if a foreign government were to try to do that to Japan for its visa programs, which are technically designed to give backdoor preferential treatment to unskilled workers? I’m pretty sure people would comment that the GOJ has the right to regulate its borders as it sees fit. Never mind comity, I guess.

    Japan Times: “The JCCI has communicated to U.K. ministers and officials in September its strong concerns about the introduction of further limits on non-EU immigration and the possible impact on the existing operations and future investment of Japanese companies in the U.K.,” said Patrick Macartney, manager at the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry…

    Katsuji Jibiki, a human-resources manager at Mitsubishi Electric Europe, revealed at a recent business seminar that his firm has been denied work permits to recruit about 30 engineers from outside the European Union.

    He said, “These days we have big difficulties with work permits. Every year the government changes the policy and it is a big headache for us.”

    Jibiki added that if the problems persist “there is a possibility of transferring our regional headquarters from the U.K. to continental Europe. We are thinking about such contingency plans.”

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Gaiatsu, Labor issues, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept. | 24 Comments »

    ELT News and Daily Yomiuri columnist Mike Guest misrepresents not only the record, but also his own academic credentials

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

    Mike Guest, a columnist for the Daily Yomiuri newspaper, had a mean-spirited spoof interview on the ELT News website of a person named “Orudo Debiru”, a “naturalized Japanese citizen, originally from the U.S. His main claim to fame is his activism for human rights, especially the rights of non-Japanese in Japan” — and whose first choice for Japanese name after naturalization was “Martin Luther King”. (Mr Guest asserts that any associations with the author of this blog are our fault, “unwarranted connections”.) Interestingly enough, after misrepresenting in print both my opinions (there are no quotes, only apparent paraphrases) and the people who contribute to this blog, we gave him the same scrutiny. That’s how we found out that he also misrepresents his own academic credentials (which he even claimed were “similar to mine”) by publicly stating in lecture and in print that he graduated from a university he did not graduate from. Yet Mr Guest doesn’t quite seem to understand the gravity of this issue, as his antagonism, dismissiveness, defensiveness, blame-shifting, and deception continue unabated online. This pattern of misrepresenting the record is most unbecoming behavior for a columnist who deals with educational issues in trusted professional forums.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Education, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., Tangents | 53 Comments »

    Charity Concert in Sapporo: “The Happy Prince”

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

    Tom Goetz: November 20, 2010
    Ladies and Gentlemen, your attention please.

    Please mark December 9, 2010 6:30 pm on your calendars for a Christmas Charity Concert at the Sapporo Baptist Church.

    Oscar Wilde’s “The Happy Prince” will be featured in a show that features music, narration, and dance. Doors open at 6. Show starts at 6:30. Tickets are 2,000. Proceeds go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Project Santa Sapporo.

    The Make-A-Wish Foundation reaches out to families with children who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. And, as the name says, the child’s wish is granted. For many, it is a trip to the Tokyo Disneyland, but some from warmer climes want to make a snowman here in Hokkaido. And, sadly, a Make-A-Wish trip is often a child’s last best memory. So, please help make dreams come true for kids whose time is short and who could really use come cheer.

    Posted in Tangents | Comments Off on Charity Concert in Sapporo: “The Happy Prince”

    My college mentor, Chalmers Johnson, dies at 79

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

    James Fallows: I have just heard that Chalmers Johnson died a few hours ago, at age 79, at his home near San Diego. He had had a variety of health problems for a long time.

    Johnson — “Chal” — was a penetrating, original, and influential scholar, plus a very gifted literary and conversational stylist. When I first went to Japan nearly 25 years ago, his MITI and the Japanese Miracle was already part of the canon for understanding Asian economic development. Before that, he had made his name as a China scholar; after that, he became more widely known with his books like Blowback, about the perverse effects and strategic unsustainability of America’s global military commitments. Throughout those years he was a mentor to generations of students at the UC campuses at Berkeley and San Diego…

    Posted in Education, History | 7 Comments »

    For Educators in Japan: National EFL Job Satisfaction Survey

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

    Forwarding: Dear colleagues: My name is Douglas Meyer, and I have been an EFL teacher in Japan for about 14 years now. Recently, I have become more and more interested in the wide-ranging working conditions at various schools in Japan, and what other teachers thought about their job. I did some looking, and found that there is very little information on this topic.

    So, as a personal research project, I started to work last fall on two surveys which aim to paint a picture of the language teacher, his or her thoughts, opinions, and ideas on a number of language-related issues that we all face. If you have 5-10 minutes, I would greatly appreciate your input via the on-line survey links below. It is 100% anonymous, and I will make the results available to anyone upon request.

    On-line survey for college and university language teachers:

    On-line survey for elementary, middle, and high school language teachers:

    Posted in Education, Labor issues | Comments Off on For Educators in Japan: National EFL Job Satisfaction Survey

    Times Higher Education on MEXT: “Japan’s entrenched ideas hinder the push to attract more foreign students and staff”

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

    THE: Frequently used as an empty slogan in the expansive years of Japan’s economic growth, internationalisation has once more been chosen as a watchword by the government – this time as the foundation for attempts to revive the country’s moribund education system.

    With only two of its institutions appearing in the top 100 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2010-11, Japan’s standing has been adversely affected by a dearth of international students and scholars.

    In an attempt to address the issue, the Ministry of Education last year introduced the “Global 30” project, which has set a target for more than 130 undergraduate and graduate courses to be conducted entirely in English by April 2013.

    But in the wake of cuts to public spending, the ambitious plan to involve 30 colleges has been whittled down to 13 institutions seen as future “global education hubs”.

    As part of the same initiative, Japan has also set a target to increase the number of international students in the country to 300,000 by 2020 from the current figure of 130,000…

    Posted in Education, Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 10 Comments »

    The Independent (UK) on Japan’s rising nationalism as Japan slips in world rankings

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

    Independent: Most Tokyo districts will fortunately never experience Makoto Sakurai and his noisy flag-waving mob. But the city’s normally quiet Moto-Azabu area is home to the Chinese embassy and there are few countries Sakurai hates more than China. His group’s favourite insult – directed at the embassy via megaphone – is shina-jin roughly equivalent to “chink”.

    “The Chinese are making fools of us,” said Sakurai, a baby-faced 30-something and the unlikely ringleader of what one academic calls: “Japan’s fiercest and most dangerous hate group today.” Like many nationalists, he is infuriated by what he sees as Chinese expansionism.

    “If Japan had any guts, it would stand up to them,” he said.

    Two decades ago, Japan was the rising Asian upstart that was barging its way on to the world’s front pages. “We are virtually at the mercy of the Japanese,” The LA Times famously blared in 1989, after a slew of high-profile takeovers by Japanese companies. Now it’s faltering Japan’s turn to tremble at the power of foreign capital; Chinese capital.

    Japan’s conservative media have been sounding alarm bells all year as the rumblings from China’s economic juggernaut grow louder. In a 24-page feature in March, the right-wing Sapio magazine warned that China is set to “buy up Japan”, noting how Chinese conglomerates are gobbling up real estate and forests and even eyeing uninhabited islands around Japan’s coast. Another magazine ran a front-page story titled “Your next boss could be Chinese”.

    Japan’s insecurity at its reduced status has been hammered home this week in a dispute with another neighbour. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s decision to visit one of four islands off northern Japan, seized by Moscow after the Second World War, was called “regrettable” by Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Sakurai’s followers were more blunt – and bitter. “Russia and China are both taking advantage of Japan’s weakness,” said one. “China has a dagger pointed at Japan’s heart – what are we going to do about it?”

    The disputes could not have come at a worse time…

    Posted in Blog Polls, Gaiatsu, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 24 Comments »

    CBC interview on Japan’s shrinking population and prospects for immigration

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

    CBC Radio One, Nov 16, 2010 – Pt 2: Japan’s Population Crash

    The population of Japan is shrinking. Other countries have tackled that problem by embracing immigration. But Japan is an unusually homogenous — some say xenophobic — country. And the idea of a multi-cultural solution is ruffling some feathers.

    Japan Population Crash – Sakanaka Hidenori

    The population of Japan is officially shrinking. In 2005 — the latest year for which data is available — deaths outnumbered births by 10,000 people. At that rate, Japan’s population will drop by more than 15 per cent over the next 40 years. On top of that, Japan’s population is an aging one … facing fears of labour shortages and economic stagnation in the world’s third-largest economy.

    Other countries have responded to declining population pressures by increasing immigration. But Japan is an unusually homogenous nation. And the idea of multi-culturalism ruffles a lot of feathers.

    Sakanaka Hidenori spent 35 years urging his country to bring in more immigrants. He is the former Director of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau. And in 2005 he wrote, Immigration Battle Diary, a book that details his own experiences and lays out a manifesto for the future of Japanese immigration policy. Sakanaka Hidenori is now the Executive Director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute. He joined us from Tokyo this morning, as part of our project, Shift. Our producer, Chris Wodskou provided the translation.

    Japan Population Crash – Ito Peng

    Arudou Debito was born in the United States. He’s a naturalized citizen of Japan. He married a Japanese woman, and they had two daughters. But he’s not very optimistic when it comes to increasing immigration to Japan. We aired his story to illustrate why.

    For more on how Japan has reached this demographic reckoning… And what the rest of the world should take from it, we were joined by Ito Peng. She’s the Associate Dean of Interdisciplinary and International Affairs at the University of Toronto.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Immigration & Assimilation, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 8 Comments »

    Eurobiz Magazine’s Tony McNicol on the future abolition of the “Gaijin Tax” Re-Entry Permits

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

    Eurobiz Magazine a couple of months ago ran an article talking inter alia about something I’ve called the “Gaijin Tax” for more than a decade now — the Re-Entry Permit system. Thought of by some as a way of punishing the Zainichi Koreans etc. for staying behind in Japan (given all the incentives for them to leave after being stripped of colonial Japanese citizenship, moreover registered as foreigners in the late 1940’s), the Re-Entry Permit actually is a tax with a profit motive — even the lecturer cited by Tony McNicol below states this openly about its proposed abolition:

    Without re-entry permit income, currently ¥6,000 for multiple re-entry, the changes are likely to lighten the government’s coffers. “This is a huge reduction in our revenue,” said Matsuno. “The Ministry of Finance is angry.”

    What a piece of work our government can be. Charging for visas for foreigners and passports for nationals is one thing (and I just paid 16,000 yen for a new ten-year Japanese passport; ouch). But charging foreigners for their addiction to going “home” (or for even daring to leave Japan) with their visa held hostage, well, that’s just as I’ve suspected all along — a mean-spirited means to sponge off the NJ population. Good riddance to it.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Good News, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 19 Comments »

    Japan Times Amy Savoie on int’l child abductions and the manufacturing of consent for it within Japan

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

    Thoughtful letter to the editor in the Japan Times on the International Child Abductions Issue. Excerpting the most interesting part for me — the rhetoric the media uses to keep the public unconsciously supporting the “home team” as their apparent members keep kidnapping kids to Japan with impunity:

    Amy Savoie: The government tries to convey that it is justifiable for Japanese parents to “take kids home to Japan” (tsure-kaeri or tsurete-kikoku), but when a foreign parent takes the children to another country (that parent’s home country), the Japanese call it kidnapping (tsure-sari) or abduction (rachi). The Japanese government and media behave duplicitously every time they pretend these unilateral relocations (relocating without permission from the other parent) are not the same thing.

    Instead of describing both situations only as tsure-sari (or only as tsure-kaeri), the Japanese government cleverly (and intentionally) uses different sets of words that convey two totally different meanings depending on who the kidnapper is…

    Posted in Child Abductions, Cultural Issue, Japanese Government, Media | 47 Comments »

    Japan Times: Leaked documents reveal Tokyo Police spies on Muslim residents, tries to make snitches of them

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

    In probably one of the most important developments of the year (thanks again to the Japan Times Community Page, consistently offering one great expose after another), we have actual substantiation of the Tokyo Police extending their racial profiling techniques to target Muslim residents of Japan. Not only are they spying on them and keeping detailed files, they are trying to turn them against one another as if they’re all in cahoots to foment terrorism.

    We all suspected as such (the very day I naturalized, I got a personal visit from Japan’s Secret Police asking me to inform on any Chinese overstayers I might happen to know; they said they read — perhaps as assiduously as some of my Internet stalkers). Now we have proof of it. Shame, shame on a police force that has this much unchecked power. Do I smell a return to Kenpeitai tactics?

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 6 Comments »

    UK Guardian compares South Korea’s relatively open-minded future with Japan’s possible “Second Edo Period” of insulation

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

    Guardian: In mid-November, all eyes will shift to Seoul when G20 leaders convene for the first time in the South Korean capital. The choice is long overdue, as South Korea is a remarkable success story: in one generation – the South Koreans, formerly pummelled by civil war, under constant threat from their northern communist brethren, long mired in poverty, and ruled by military dictators for 40 years – have built the world’s 13th largest economy and Asia’s most vibrant democracy…

    The Japanese knew how to co-ordinate state and private-sector goals in the 1970s, but then lost their way. “We should now emulate the South Koreans,” says Eisuke Sakakibara, a leading Japanese economist, who was one of the architects of the Japanese “miracle” of the 1980s. Japanese in search of a miracle now travel to Seoul.

    “In Japan, 1990 to 2000 was called the ‘lost decade,'” says the free-market economist Fumio Hayashi. Now Japan is completing its second lost decade. Hayashi and Sakakibara – indeed, most Japanese economists – more or less agree on the fundamental reason for such spectacular stagnation: the Japanese have stopped working hard. Fewer hours worked, longer vacations, and a declining population (since 2005) have, predictably, undermined Japanese growth. To turn this situation around, says Sakakibara, “the Japanese should work more, have more children, and allow immigration.” But the incentives to make any of this happen are just not there…

    More strikingly, stagnation has found its promoters in Japan itself. A leading public intellectual Naoki Inose, who is also Tokyo’s vice governor, has declared that “the era of growth is over.” When Japan was threatened by western imperialism, he says, the country had to open up (in 1868) and modernise. This process has been completed. Japan is now ready to reconnect with its own tradition of social harmony and zero growth.

    Referring to the 1600-1868 period, Inose calls this future the New Edo era: “A smaller population will enjoy the sufficient wealth that has been accumulated, and, from now on, it will invest its creativity in refining the culture.”…

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Exclusionism, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 41 Comments »

    Weekend Tangent: Weird broadside from Japan Helpline’s Ken Joseph Jr. on Facebook

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

    Last Monday morning I got a request for a friending on Facebook by a Ken Joseph Jr. For those who have heard the name, he’s one of the advice columnists for the Japan Times Lifelines Page, and according to his website (email registry required), “Ken Joseph Jr. is an international columnist and speaker. He appears regularly on CNN, Foxnews, BBC, ITN and numerous radio outlets worldwide to give commentary on the news of the day from a background of personal experience. His columns regularly run in newspapers worldwide.”

    So imagine my surprise when I get a broadside from a person of this standing, mere hours after I friend him, accusing me of losing the argument by taking out Japanese citizenship (“Becoming Japanese negated your ability to stand up for the international community”), claiming I look like a nut for ever doing so, and demanding I get my American passport back. Problem is, the exchange makes him look more nutty, sad to say. And a number of other people soon jumped in to dispute the claims of ineffectuality.

    (Screen captures of my Facebook page where he tries to hijack an unrelated thread; printed, redacted, and scanned.)

    Posted in Discussions, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Tangents | 52 Comments »

    Japan Times: MEXT in line to deliberate on ijime after Uemura Akiko suicide

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

    The uproar on the Uemura Akiko Suicide has led to ministerial-level action. Good news, in that something is being done about bullying in Japanese schools. Bad news is that somebody has to die before something is done (and these crackdowns on ijime are periodical things anyway; once the furore dies down, well… let’s just wait for the next victim and we’ll have another cry and outcry).

    Of course, the elephant in the room is the racially-motivated nature of the bullying, which does not seem to be being addressed. If you don’t address one of the root causes (a racial background being used as ammunition), you aren’t gonna fix things. Duh. Doesn’t anyone out there in ministry land have a degree in education?

    Japan Times: The education ministry will conduct a nationwide survey of bullying in schools following the suicide last month of sixth-grader Akiko Uemura, in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture.

    Japan Times Editorial: Why does the board of education deny a cause-and-effect relationship between the bullying and her suicide? It appears as if the board and school authorities refused to squarely deal with the tragedy and their responsibility in the case.

    Posted in Education, Exclusionism, Good News, Human Rights, Japanese Government | 10 Comments »

    TV America’s Most Wanted on unsolved questionable death of an American in Shinjuku Aug 2010. Any press in Japan?

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

    In line with yesterday’s theme of foreign crime (in this case, crimes perpetrated against the foreign), has anyone heard of this case of a questionable death (ruled by police as an accident) of an American in Shinjuku last August in the domestic media? If the reverse were true (a US tourist killing a Japanese), you bet we’d hear about it, and have all manner of people screaming about how tourists are now part of the alleged foreign crime wave we must protect Japanese from.

    I hope I don’t have to make the argument again that there is a double standard of justice and attention depending on whether the perp or the victim is Japanese or not, like I did in the Japan Times March 2009.

    Posted in Gaiatsu, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Tourism | 12 Comments »

    Ministry of Justice website justifying crime prevention measures due to “frequent occurrence of serious crimes committed by foreign nationals and increase in transnational crimes”

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

    MOJ: “In the past Japan was proud of its image in the world of being an exceptionally safe country, but in recent years, the number of criminal cases that have been identified by the authorities has increased remarkably, while the clearance rate has dropped drastically and remains at a very low level, which makes the deterioration of public safety an issue of grave concern to the nation. In particular, exceptionally violent crimes attracting public attention and the occurrence close at hand of many offences committed by youngsters or by foreign nationals coming to Japan are making people uneasy about the maintenance of public order. In addition, since computers and high-level information technology such as the Internet have become a common feature of daily life, new crimes abusing such advanced technology have risen in number. Further, effective measures against international terrorism such as the multiple terrorist attacks on the United States, and efforts toward solving problems concerning the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea, are needed…” (Cosigned by Criminal Affairs Bureau, Correction Bureau, Rehabilitation Bureau, Immigration Bureau, Public Security Intelligence Agency, and Public Security Examination Commission)

    COMMENT: Well, that’s what I would call an unrepentant Bunker Mentality Mode. It’s hard not to read this as, “We were a safe society until the foreigners came along and spoiled everything for us. So now we have to crack down on the foreigners and Japanese who deal with them.” Great. Of course, we have no purely homegrown crime here, such as the Yaks, right? Why is “Recovery of Public Safety” so firmly linked in “foreigner issues”? Because they’re a soft target, that’s why. Read the whole MOJ website entry and try to suppress a wry smirk.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics | 20 Comments »

    Eyewitness report on how NPA is targeting NJ in Gotanda as security risk for APEC Summit in Yokohama

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

    In case you haven’t heard, the latest APEC Summit is coming up in Yokohama this weekend. Aside from the regular boilerplate on places like NHK about how we’re gearing up to greet and communicate effectively with foreigners (with some smattering on the security measures — cops on every corner looking busy and alert etc.), we once again are hearing next to nothing (if any media is talking about this, please send source) about how security means targeting NJ as potential criminals and terrorists.

    It’s one thing to have Police State-style lockdowns. It’s another matter of great concern to for those lockdowns to encourage racial profiling. This seems to happen every time we have any major international summitry (see past articles here, here, here, and here), and as usual no media seems to question it. An eyewitness account redacted only in name that happened last week in Gotanda, Tokyo, quite a distance from the Yokohama site, follows. Anyone else out there getting racially profiled and zapped by the fuzz? Make sure you mention the whens and wheres, please. Thanks.

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, G7/G8 Summits, Japanese Government, Media | 38 Comments »

    Mainichi: Bullying of Filipina-Japanese grade schooler in Gunma leads to suicide: NHK ignores ethnicity issue in reports

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

    For the record, here are some of the Mainichi’s articles on a recent suicide of a multiethnic Japanese due to classroom bullying. Uemura Akiko, a Filipina-Japanese grade schooler, was found dead by hanging three weeks ago in an apparent suicide, and evidence suggests that this was after being bullied for her Philippine ethnicity. Given the number of international marriages in Japan, I think we’re going to see quite a few more cases like this unless people start realizing that a multicultural, multiethnic Japan is not just something theoretical, but here and now. We need an official, MEXT and board-of-education approach of zero tolerance towards kids (who are, of course, going to tease each other no matter what) who choose to single people out due to their race or ethnic background.

    As submitter JK puts it, “This is why IMO, having a law against racial discrimination on the books is only part of the solution — what is really needed is a mental shift towards creating a culture of racial inclusion. There is no future for a Japan whose modus operandi is ‘The nail that sticks out…'”

    Posted in Education, Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 57 Comments »


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

    Table of Contents:
    1) Economist London on corrupt public prosecutors in Japan
    2) Not only China, Japan eyes India for tourist influx, eases visas
    3) CRNJapan’s checklist for avoiding J child abductions during marital problems
    4) Weekend Tangent: What Canada does about racial slurs and abuse in public: jail time
    5) Weekend Tangent: Discovering how cheap, yes cheap, parts of Japan are becoming
    6) Yomiuri: Tokyo bathhouses scrub up to lure NJ visitors. My, how the worm turns. Why couldn’t they have done this ten years ago?
    7) Referential website of note: Asia Pacific Memo at UBC

    8 ) Allegations that GOJ’s Hello Work refuses NJ applicants, as evidenced by “Japanese Only” employer Zeus Enterprise of Tokyo Ginza
    9) JT’s Philip Brasor analyzes J media claims of bias towards Ichiro’s and Hakuho’s sports records
    10) Mainichi & Asahi: “4 arrested for helping Cambodian men work illegally”. Odd, given shysterism of Trainee Visa program
    11) NYT on Japan’s deflation: “Japan, Once Dynamic, Is Disheartened by Decline”
    12) CJFF: Immigration raids Filipino family home, husband has heart attack
    13) New Book: “In Defense of Japan: From the Market to the Military in Space Policy” by Pekkanen and Kallender-Umezu
    14) does odd article on “Controversial Activist David Schofill” and NJ refusals at hotels and onsens
    15) NHK 7AM this morning: Offer coupons at Narita Airport to NJ with “preferential exchange rates”. The catch is…

    16) Kyodo: Court overrules Oita Pref who tried to deny a 78-year-old NJ welfare benefits
    17) Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.
    18) Hate crimes in Fukui: Car burned, “Gaijin GET OUT” message left at local mosque; flagburning at Indian restaurant
    19) Japan Times: Eikaiwa Gaba: “NJ instructors independent contractors w/o labor law coverage”, could become template for entire industry
    20) Fukuoka General Union info site on how BOEs are outsourcing ALTs through dispatch companies, not through JET Programme
    … and finally …
    21) My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Tues Nov 2: How the “Cult of Japan’s Uniqueness and Homogeneity” interferes with good scholarship on Japan

    Posted in Newsletters | 1 Comment »

    Weekend Tangent: Fun and Games at MOFA Passport Renewal — almost denied a passport because of one letter

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

    This will no doubt be put into the “shake your head in disbelief at Debito’s stubbornness” file by some, but here goes:

    Last Tuesday my Japanese passport expired. Yes, it’s been more than ten years since I became a Japanese citizen. What that means to me is a topic for another blog entry someday. But what happens every time I go in to the Foreign Ministry’s Passport Renewal Office happened again like clockwork — it’s becoming a MOFA tradition.

    So I went in on Tuesday and filled out my application as per normal (answer all the “you better say no” questions, mostly along the line of “are you a terrorist or criminal?”, correctly), and got all checked as normal: current passport (MOFA will later give it back cancelled, unlike, for example, international driver licenses issued in Japan), juuminhyou, koseki touhon (these were actually not necessary if the passport is still valid, which it was, darn it), and mug shot.

    But as is traditional, we got into a dispute about how to spell my name.

    Clerk: “You have to spell it in Hepburn Style. That means ARUDO or ARUDOH, not ARUDOU.”

    Here we go…

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Cultural Issue, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 23 Comments »

    WB and me on what NJ tourists also need in Japan — security against NPA harassment

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

    I get letters like this on a daily basis (thanks everyone; can’t respond to all). This one dovetails with something is increasingly focusing attention upon: Japan’s attempts to rebrand itself as a “cool tourist destination”. This is fine, of course, but if you’re going to make it easier for NJ tourists (such as Chinese or Subcontinental Indians) to visit, you better make sure that they have a good time while here. And I certainly see some room for improvement there.

    I was waking up to NHK last Monday morning, and in line with their general cluelessness about how to treat NJ (such as acclaiming 30-sen discount coupons for exchange rates), this time they were surveying airport tourists about what they’d like to see done to make Japan more attractive. Some of the advice was decent (such as making clear on menus the contents of food, as in, what items are safe for vegetarians or diabetics). But others were of the “whiny” variety (as in, “In America, we have menus in English”; this in a land where menus are very conveniently visual indeed). Nice try, but if you’re trying to appeal to Asian-Region tourists, why not ask more Asian tourists what THEY want, NHK?

    But one thing is of course being overlooked — how tourists and NJ in general are being targeted and harassed by police for instant passport checks. It starts at Narita Airport, where the Narita Police are essentially using gaijin for target practice. And as Readers keep hearing here, it keeps happening once inside as well. Witness this letter below, redacted only in name.

    Point is, if you want to make Japan a more attractive tourist destination, please heel your police dogs, GOJ. The NPA is spoiling the party with its racial profiling and treating NJ as suspicious. Being treated as a criminal can really spoil one’s vacation…

    Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Japanese Government, Tourism | 7 Comments »

    Friend looking for tenant for his house in Yokohama

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

    A friend of mine is looking for someone to stay short or long-term in Yokohama (three months and up preferable). Happy to help get the word out. Details as follows:

    Beautiful furnished spacious modern 4-bedroom house for rent in Yokohama, near international schools, min. 3 months, ¥140,000 negotiable. Contact

    Posted in Tangents | No Comments »

    Eido Inoue on improbable remote tracking of RFID next-generation “Gaijin Cards”; yet “scan-proof” travel pouches now on sale

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

    With the rerelease of an article I wrote last year (I am reading all my old articles in order for the Podcast, so listen here or read it here) is a revisitation of an argument I made about the next-generation “Gaijin Cards” (Zairyuu Kaado), with imbedded IC Chips. I expressed a fear that these “smart cards” will be remotely scannable, meaning the NPA will be able to zap a crowd and smoke out who’s foreign or not (whereas Japanese citizens have no legal obligation to carry ID 24/7 backed up with criminal punishment) — or will further justify racial profiling of people like me who look foreign but aren’t.

    Techie Eido Inoue, a naturalized J citizen himself, writes here on invitation to address this argument. He was worried that this topic might get a bit geeky (he has in fact made it very readable, thanks), but never mind, this needs to be discussed by people in the know. However, please do read or page down to the end, where I have some basic counterarguments and a scan of something I saw the other day in a travel shop — a “scan proof” pouch for your valuables on sale! Read on.

    Posted in Discussions, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 20 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Nov 2, 2010: ‘Homogeneous,’ ‘unique’ myths stunt discourse in Japan Studies

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 3rd November 2010

    Japan Times: Last month I attended an international lecture by one of Japanology’s senior scholars. I’ll call him Dr. Frink. Decorated by the Japanese government for his contributions to the field, he talked about Japan as a “unique” state that never really changes, even as it slips to third place behind China’s economy.

    One reason he gave for this was that “Japan is still the most homogeneous society in the world.” He defined homogeneity by citing Japan’s tiny percentage of resident foreigners.

    That was easily disputed after a quick Google search (the lecture hall had Internet; welcome to the 21st century). I raised my hand afterwards and pointed out that some 60 countries were technically “more homogeneous” than Japan, as they have smaller percentages of foreigners, foreign-born residents and immigrants.

    According to the United Nations, as of 2005, Japan’s percentage (listed at 1.6 percent, which means that the zainichi, or Japan-born foreigners, are also included) was still larger than Kenya’s (1 percent), Nigeria’s (0.7 percent), India’s (0.5 percent) and China’s (excluding Hong Kong and Macau, 0.3 percent). Of course, given the boom in international migration this decade, many countries are net exporters of immigrants. But herein lies the flaw in linking monoculturality to an absence of foreigners: Don’t all these allegedly “homogeneous” countries (including Japan) also acknowledge ethnic minorities within their borders?

    However, this column will focus on a much deeper problem in Dr. Frink’s school of scholarly discourse: The fixation on Japan’s “uniqueness,” and how a cult of Japanese homogeneity interferes with good social science…

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Education, Japanese Government, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 14 Comments »


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

    In this podcast:

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 15, “FUJIMORI GETS HIS: Japan left shamed”, rounding up the intriguing case of sociopath Alberto Fujimori, former president of Peru, who raped a country, claimed refuge in Japan, then flew back to Chile to face arrest, extradition, and life imprisonment (May 5, 2009)
    Japan Times ZEIT GIST Community Page Article 47, “IC YOU: Bugging the Alien”, on how the new Gaijin Cards (with IC Chips inside) will increase policing of NJ residents more than ever before (May 19, 2009)
    Plus interim excerpts from Tangerine Dream “White Eagle” and a remix of a famous Duran Duran tune (I won’t tell you which, have a listen!).

    22 minutes. Enjoy!

    Posted in Podcasts | No Comments »

    Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Tues Nov 2: How the “Cult of Japan’s Uniqueness and Homogeneity” interferes with good scholarship on Japan

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

    This is just to advise you that on this coming Tuesday, November 2 (in print Wednesday November 3 in the Boonies), my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column will be coming out.

    Topic: I attended an international conference last month, where a senior scholar of some renown gave a lecture on Japan’s uniqueness, saying that Japan is still the most homogeneous society in the world. Homogeneity he defined as the number of foreigners in Japanese society.

    Armed with Google (we had Internet access in the lecture hall), I raised my hand and an issue with the claim…

    And that starts the column. Have a read on Tuesday…

    UPDATE: Here it is:

    Posted in Articles & Publications | Comments Off on Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Tues Nov 2: How the “Cult of Japan’s Uniqueness and Homogeneity” interferes with good scholarship on Japan


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