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

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 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 Amazon.co.jp 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.  Arudou Debito

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

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 28, 2010)
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T101127002588.htm

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 documents in question are thought to have been leaked via file-sharing software on Oct. 28. The book is printed in the same format as the documents.

One foreign resident whose name and address are listed in the book has called for it to be immediately recalled from bookstores. However, since the MPD has not officially admitted a leak took place, they cannot suspend publication or take other measures.

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.

One African man whose name and those of his family are in the book told The Yomiuri Shimbun he was worried how this would affect his family, and that he wanted the police to halt the book’s publication. He said he had not yet seen the book.

The MPD maintains it is still investigating the case, and has not confirmed whether the information is authentic. A senior police official said, “At present, it’s difficult for the MPD to protest the publication or demand its suspension.”

Masao Horibe, professor emeritus at Hitotsubashi University, said the publication of the data in book form could be called a human rights violation since it increases its distribution, even though the information was already available on the Internet.

“Some might argue people have the freedom to publish or know about the data. But this book is just raw unedited data, not like a newspaper would carry. I think it’s questionable whether the publication of this book is in the public interest,” he said.

Author Go Egami said the police should halt publication of the book and admit the leaked data was genuine, because its authenticity is obvious to anyone who has seen it.

“I think the government neglected the [terror information] leak because they were distracted by the coast guard’s trouble with the Chinese fishing boat,” he said.
ENDS

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‘MPD data’ book wreaks havoc / Foreign residents who had private info exposed express fear, anger
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 29, 2010), Courtesy of JK

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T101128002788.htm

People who saw their personal information published last week in a book containing what is believed to be police antiterrorism documents are expressing anger and fear over the fallout they could face.

Many foreign residents had their photos and family members’ names revealed in the book, which some bookstores have removed from their shelves. It also carries personal information about investigators of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Public Security Bureau, as well as data on police informants.

It has been about one month since the suspected leak came to light, but the MPD has yet to confirm the data belongs to the department, only saying it is still verifying the validity of the documents. The police have not taken any action, such as requiring the publisher to stop sales of the book.

Experts have called on the MPD to quickly admit the data is real and take action.

Published by Tokyo publishing house Dai-San Shokan, the 469-page book is titled “Ryushutsu ‘Koan Tero Joho’ Zen Deta” (Leaked police terrorism info: all data) and hit the shelves Thursday.

The book carries the names, photos and addresses of foreign residents who have apparently been subject to MPD investigations, as well as those of MPD bureau investigators in charge of international terrorism.

An African man living in the Kanto region whose photo and family members’ names were carried in the book said: “After the documents were leaked online, a disease I’ve had for a long time got worse because of the stress. I’m shocked the information became a book so soon. I was just trying to forget about it.”

Another foreign resident of Tokyo said his home telephone number was carried in the book. “The publishing company didn’t contact me in advance. Now that the information’s in a book–not just on the Internet–I wonder what’ll happen to me and my family?” he said.

The book is on sale in Tokyo bookstores and via other channels, but some retailers have voluntarily decided not to sell copies. The Shinjuku branch of Kinokuniya Co. put 60 copies on sale Saturday morning, only to take it off the shelves when it realized the contents were inappropriate, but not before several copies had been sold.

MPD making no progress

The MPD did not notice the leak until Oct. 29 when it received a tip from a private telecommunications firm. Since then, the MPD’s position has been that it is verifying whether the data found online were in fact internal documents.

The MPD is stuck, because if it admits internal information was leaked, it will likely lose the trust of foreign authorities, according to a senior MPD official. One document contains an apparent request by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation for cooperation in investigations.

The entire MPD is involved in the investigation into the leak–not only the Public Security Bureau but also the Personnel and Training Bureau, which investigates scandals involving police officers, and the Administration Bureau, which is in charge of information control.

A former senior official of the Public Security Bureau said “the data is absolutely the bureau’s internal documents” and includes top secret items. The data was leaked onto the Internet through a server in Luxembourg, making it difficult for investigators to track where it originated. The MPD has asked the company operating the server for cooperation, but it has yet to be given any communications records.

The MPD maintains it is unable to take any action against the publisher because it has not officially confirmed the data came from the organization.

Police appear to be divided on how to handle the problem. Some say the MPD should never admit a leak occurred, but others believe they should admit at least part of the documents are internal and take necessary action as soon as possible.

The data has continued to spread online across the globe via file-sharing software. NetAgent Co., a Tokyo private information security firm, said as of Thursday, the data had been downloaded onto 10,285 computers in 21 countries and regions.
ENDS

WSJ: Domestic Group Appeals for Overhaul of Japanese Immigration

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 really good article from the WSJ which reports a lot of things that Debito.org has been saying for many years now (categories here and here).  Glad to see it gaining traction even domestically.  Arudou Debito

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Group Appeals for Overhaul of Japanese Immigration
Wall Street Journal NOVEMBER 24, 2010, courtesy of KC
By MARIKO SANCHANTA

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704526504575634151044954866.html?mod=WSJASIA_hpp_SecondTopStories

TOKYO—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.

Courtesy WSJ

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.

“Foreign employment may create employment for the Japanese—it’s bridging Japan with the rest of the world,” said Yasushi Iguchi, a professor at Kwansei Gakuin University and a member of the policy council.

Despite Japan’s stance that it doesn’t accept unskilled foreign workers, these days, Chinese cashiers are a common sight at Tokyo’s ubiquitous convenience stores; South Asian clerks are becoming more plentiful at supermarkets and on construction sites. Their ability to work in these positions is often thanks to numerous loopholes in Japan’s immigration policy, which allows students studying in Japan to work a certain number of hours a week. The country also has a technical internship program that allows younger workers to come into Japan and work as a “trainee” for a year, though this has been maligned as a cheap way to exploit foreign workers and pay them menial wages.

Mr. Kan’s government has said it wants to double the number of high-skilled foreign workers as part of its strategy to revive Japan in its growth strategy report compiled in June. The government is eyeing the introduction of a points-based system, in which it gives favored immigration treatment to foreigners depending on their past careers, accomplishments and expertise. The government also aims to increase the number of foreign students to 300,000 through initiatives such as allowing them to accept credits earned in foreign colleges and accepting more foreign teachers.

But this doesn’t mean more foreigners will necessarily want to come to Japan: in 2009, the number of foreigners who live in Japan fell for the first time in nearly half a century. Only one group bucked the trend: the Chinese, one of the few minority groups to increase its presence last year. Chinese nationals now make up nearly a third of Japan’s foreign population.

“If we stop discussing this and stop reforming, our system will be inadequate to cope with the realities,” said Mr. Iguchi. “In rural areas, we can’t maintain local industries—it will increase our competitiveness.”
ENDS

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

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. 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. Anyone espying these deliberations in English as well, please send link and article, thanks. Arudou Debito

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障害者差別禁止法案を検討へ
NHK News 2010年11月24日 4時21分 courtesy AK
Video at http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20101124/k10015410031000.html
政府の「障がい者制度改革推進会議」は、3年後の国会で、障害を理由とした差別の禁止と、被害を受けた場合の救済などを目的とした法律の制定を目指すとしており、有識者を中心とした専門の作業部会を設け、具体的な問題点の検討に入ることになりました。

政府は、ことし1月、障害者への支援策を障害者自身の視点から改める必要があるとして、障害がある人とその家族が委員の半数以上を占める「障がい者制度改革推進会議」を設け、今の障害者基本法の抜本的な見直しを進めています。そして、3年後、平成25年の国会で、障害を理由とした差別の禁止と、障害者がそうした被害を受けた場合の救済を目的とした法律の制定を目指すとして、「推進会議」のもとに大学教授や弁護士などが参加する専門の作業部会を設け、検討に入ることになりました。作業部会では、当面は2か月に1度の割合で会合を開き、諸外国の差別禁止法について、それぞれ、法律を制定するまでにどのような議論が行われたのかを調査したり、障害者差別に関する具体的な事例について、自治体や関係団体からヒアリングを行うなど、具体的な問題点の検討を進めることにしています。

ENDS

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

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 a Weekend Tangent, here’s how China is handling their census, according to the LA Times.  What’s interesting as far as Debito.org 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.  Arudou Debito.

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Chinese census takers have their work cut out for them
Evaded because of privacy concerns, they use the element of surprise.
THE WORLD
LA Times November 10, 2010, By Barbara Demick

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/nov/10/world/la-fg-china-census-20101110

BEIJING — How do you count 1.3 billion or so people?

Here in China this week: Door-to-door.

Politely.

Covering your dirty shoes with plastic wrappers before entering homes as you provide reassurance that sensitive information — about residency permits or babies who violate China’s one-child policy — will not be shared with other authorities.

But beware of dogs.

China on Wednesday is completing the world’s largest census, one so big that it has required 6 million census takers, more than the entire population of many countries. This is the sixth nationwide census China has conducted, its first since 2000, and one with a few new wrinkles.

In an effort to tally China’s staggering migrant population, estimated at more than 200 million, census takers are seeking to count people where they live, rather than at the homes where they have their hukous, or residency permits. Until a decade ago, people who had moved to big cities without permits could be arrested and deported.

Census takers have also offered stronger assurances this time that the information they collect will remain confidential. Data on family planning, taxes, landownership and residency permits are all, at least in theory, kept private by the census.

“This is only about statistics, but people are worried that they could get fined for having an extra child and they’ll avoid the census,” said Duan Chengrong, head of the population department at Renmin University. “Like in the U.S., the Chinese these days are paying more attention to their privacy.”

Before the 10-day census, the Chinese government began a massive awareness — some might say propaganda — campaign. Large green banners garlanded across streets throughout the country read: “Conducting a census — establishing a harmonious society.”

In alleys near the Beijing South Railway Station, where migrants from the countryside live in housing not much larger than some American bathrooms, census takers make repeat visits at different times of the day, hoping to catch otherwise elusive residents by surprise.

“They come sometimes at 10 p.m. to find us,” said a woman from Anhui province who was washing clothes in an outdoor sink.

At a neighborhood committee office, a 64-year-old woman wearing a Mao Tse-tung button on her red jacket said that she had barely slept since the census started. “The population is so mobile. And some won’t open the door. We just keep going back until we find them,” she said.

The life of a census taker is not easy. Their pay is about $150 for a month’s work and many report being bitten by dogs. In one neighborhood in the southern city of Guangzhou, 11 of 32 workers had quit by the third day of the census, according to the Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper.

Difficulties in getting information are sometimes even greater in wealthy neighborhoods than in poor ones. A Chinese journalist who went out with census takers during a preliminary census in August reported that only one resident opened the door in a posh gated community of 39 villas in the suburbs of Beijing. Often nobody answered even though people could be seen behind closed curtains.

“The rich worry more about their privacy. They may have second or third homes or mistresses they’re hiding away,” said Zhou Xiaozheng, a sociologist at Renmin University. “But it’s true of ordinary people as well; they’re not willing to cooperate with the government the way they used to in the old China.”

Many say they have been reassured by the government’s declaration that information cannot be used to levy fines, which often run as high as six times an annual income for extra births.

Census methods have varied by location. Millions in Beijing received Short Message Service communications on their cellphones instructing them to cooperate. In some neighborhoods, census takers have offered towels or shopping bags as token gifts to coax people into answering the questions. Elsewhere, census takers have been allowed to call in the police if residents refuse to answer the door.

Similar to the census process in the United States, most people are given a standard 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.

The census data are expected to be published in April. Among the questions of keenest interest to demographers: How many people have migrated from their homes in the countryside to work in the cities? How much has the male- female ratio been skewed by the traditional preference for sons with a one-child policy in place? How has the ethnic balance changed in sensitive areas such as Tibet and Xinjiang where minorities complain that an influx of Han Chinese is diluting their cultures?

And, in the end, the ultimate census question: Just how many Chinese are there, really? At the last count, a decade ago, the figure was 1.27 billion. United Nations estimates put China’s population today near 1.4 billion.

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 27, 2010

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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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 27, 2010

Table of Contents:
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SAD STORIES
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

SPY STORIES
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

STUPID STORIES
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.

FUTURE STORIES
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

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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, Daily blog updates and RSS at www.debito.org
Freely Forwardable

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SAD STORIES

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

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…'”

http://www.debito.org/?p=7759

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2) Japan Times: MEXT in line to deliberate on ijime after grade schooler Uemura Akiko suicide

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7785

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

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 crnjapan.net): 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7926

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7771

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5) My college mentor, Chalmers Johnson, dies at 79

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…

I am one of those mentored by Chal in San Diego. As the Japan Times obit mentions:

“Debito Arudou, a columnist for The Japan Times, was a student of Johnson’s at the University of California at San Diego in the early 1990s. He said that in the classroom, Johnson was the voice of Zeus.

“‘He never suffered fools gladly, but everything he said was meticulously researched. He presented his ideas with verve,’ Arudou said…”

http://www.debito.org/?p=7860

You can read a funny report about our last meeting in 2005, during a California trip. Page down quite a bit…

http://www.debito.org/californiatrek2005.html

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SPY STORIES

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

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 Debito.org — 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?

http://www.debito.org/?p=7818

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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”

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7781

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

With the rerelease of an article I wrote last year (I am reading all my old articles in order for the Debito.org 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7723

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

I get letters like this on a daily basis (thanks everyone; can’t respond to all). This one dovetails with something Debito.org 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 Debito.org 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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7721

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

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 Debito.org 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7747

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STUPID STORIES

11) Daily Yomiuri eikaiwa columnist Mike Guest misrepresents not only the record, but also his own academic credentials

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, and blame-shifting continues unabated online. This pattern of misrepresenting the record is most unbecoming behavior for a columnist who deals with educational issues in trusted professional forums.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7850

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12) Fun and Games at MOFA Passport Renewal — almost denied a passport because of one letter

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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7750

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13) Weird broadside from Japan Helpline’s Ken Joseph Jr. on Facebook: Claims my naturalization queers my campaigning

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.)

http://www.debito.org/?p=7769

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

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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7789

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

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.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=7910

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FUTURE STORIES

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

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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7745

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

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.”…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7794

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

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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7616

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

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 1940s), 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 JPY6,000 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7767

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20) CBC interview with me on Japan’s shrinking population and prospects for immigration

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.

Listen at http://www.debito.org/?p=7831

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21) For Educators in Japan: National EFL Job Satisfaction Survey

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:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NZZ85RV

On-line survey for elementary, middle, and high school language teachers:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/D5LM52D

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… and finally …

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

THE JAPAN TIMES: JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN
‘Homogeneous,’ ‘unique’ myths stunt discourse
By DEBITO ARUDOU
Courtesy
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20101102ad.html
Version with links to discussion and sources at
http://www.debito.org/?p=7719

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All for today. In Tokyo for most of next week, will try to have news to you about my next Japan Times column, out December 7! Thanks for reading!

Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 27, 2010 ENDS

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

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Hi Blog.  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 crnjapan.net):  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?  Arudou Debito

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35 Year – old French Father kills self after loss of children in Japan.
Ambassade de France au Japon, November 24, 2010

http://www.ambafrance-jp.org/
Translation to English, courtesy of crnjapan.net
http://crnjapan.net/The_Japan_Childrens_Rights_Network/itn-fdksij.html

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.
ENDS

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ORIGINAL FRENCH
Décès de M. Arnaud Simon – Message de condoléances de l’Ambassadeur
Ambassade de France au Japon, 24 novembre 2010

http://www.ambafrance-jp.org/spip.php?article4220

Notre compatriote Arnaud Simon s’est donné la mort vendredi 19 novembre. Enseignant le Français à Tokyo, il était âgé de 35 ans et vivait au Japon depuis 2006.

Séparé de sa femme depuis mars dernier, il était père d’un petit garçon de 20 mois dont il avait cherché en vain à obtenir la garde. Notre communauté est en deuil et je présente en son nom toutes nos condoléances à sa famille et à ses proches.

Personne ne peut se prononcer avec certitude quant aux raisons qui ont poussé un homme aussi jeune à commettre un geste aussi terrible. M. Simon avait toutefois fait part récemment à la section consulaire de notre ambassade à Tokyo des difficultés qu’il éprouvait pour rencontrer son fils et il est très probable que la séparation d’avec son enfant a été un des facteurs déterminants. Ceci nous rappelle à tous s’il en était besoin la souffrance des 32 pères français et des deux cents autres cas recensés par les autorités consulaires comme étant privés de fait de leurs droits parentaux.

Il est bien évident que nos paroles et nos actes sont peu de choses face à une situation aussi dramatique, mais je tenais à rappeler l’action déterminée des autorités françaises et de cette Ambassade en lien avec ses partenaires allemands, américains, australiens, belges, britanniques, canadiens, colombiens, espagnols, hongrois, italiens et néo-zélandais pour demander au Japon de ratifier la Convention de La Haye sur les aspects civils de l’enlèvement international d’enfants et procéder rapidement à un examen individuel des dossiers afin de trouver des solutions appropriées là où elles sont possibles, en fonction des circonstances.

Il s’agit de l’intérêt des enfants, que personne n’a le droit de priver de l’un de leurs parents. Il s’agit également de prendre en compte la souffrance des pères dont nous avons aujourd’hui une tragique manifestation.

Service d’Information et de Communication (24 novembre)
ENDS

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OFFICIAL JAPANESE VERSION

アルノー・シモン氏の訃報 に対する 駐日フランス大使のお悔やみ
在日フランス大使館
http://www.ambafrance-jp.org/spip.php?article4221

私たちの同朋であるアルノー・シモン氏が11月19日(金)、自ら命を絶ちました。享年35歳、2006年から日本に滞在され、東京でフランス語教師をしていらっしゃいました。

シモン氏には生後20ヶ月の男の子がおり、本年3月のパートナーとの別離以来、親権を得ようと努力しましたがかなえられませんでした。フランス人コミュニティーを代表して、ご親族の皆様方に深い哀悼の意を表します。

若くしてこれほどまでに恐ろしい行為に及んだ理由について、確信を持って断言できる人は誰もいません。しかしシモン氏は最近、ご子息との面会が非常に難しい旨、当館の領事部に訴えており、お子さんとの別離が決定的な原因のひとつである可能性は非常に高いと言えます。このことは、同じような境遇にある32人のフランス人の父親たちや、世界中の領事関係部局が把握している限り約200名存在する、親としての権利を行使できていない方々の苦悩を、私たちに想起させます。

これだけの悲劇に対して私たちが発言や行動をもってできることは限られています。しかしフランス当局および当館は、ドイツ、アメリカ、オーストラリア、ベルギー、イギリス、カナダ、コロンビア、スペイン、ハンガリー、イタリア、そしてニュージーランドと共に、日本国に対し、国際的な子の奪取の民事面に関するハーグ条約を批准し、早急に個々の案件を検討に付し、可能な場合には、それぞれの置かれた状況に即した適切な解決法を見出すよう、断固として要請しております旨、ここに改めて確認致します。

焦点となっているのは子供たちの利益であり、片方の親との接触を妨げる権利は誰にもありません。また、この悲劇的な例が物語るように、父親たちの苦悩も考慮しなければならないのです。

Service d’Information et de Communication (11月24日)
ENDS

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

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 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. Arudou Debito

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Firms pan U.K. immigration plan
Cuts in investment threatened if cap is placed on skilled workers
The Japan Times, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010
, courtesy of Getchan
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20101120a1.html
By WILLIAM HOLLINGWORTH
Kyodo News

LONDON — Japanese firms are threatening to review future plans to invest in Britain if the new government follows through with its proposal to put an annual cap on immigration levels.

Corporate executives have told ministers that moves to limit the number of skilled people from outside the European Union who can be employed in Britain will seriously harm their businesses.

Japanese firms are particularly concerned about plans to curb the number of senior staff who can engage in short-term intracorporate transfers, as well as limits on recruiting skilled staff from outside the EU.

Britain’s new center-right government has decided to cap immigration due to growing concern that non-EU citizens are taking jobs away from the British.

In July, an interim cap was imposed on skilled workers, but ICTs are currently exempted. But a new cap will be introduced in April, and ministers are consulting on how big it should be and which sectors should be covered, including possibly ICTs.

Critics say Indian ICTs to Britain have been conducted in order to acquaint staff with information technology functions so the work can later be sent overseas. They also claim there are plenty of unemployed British IT workers who could perform the jobs.

The government is aiming to bring immigration down to “tens of thousands” each year compared with hundreds of thousands under the previous government.

Japanese firms say it is unfortunate that a new system designed to crack down on abuses might hamper those who have always followed the rules.

“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.

The local Japanese automakers, which regularly transfer high-tech engineers from Japan to Britain, have been lobbying hard to get ICTs exempted from the proposed cap. The urgency is underlined by the fact that both Nissan Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. have just announced major new investments in environment-friendly cars.

But the newly imposed cap on skilled workers is already impacting Japanese firms in Britain.

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.”

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20101120a1.html

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Japanese firms lobby British government to rethink immigration plans

Kyodo News/Japan Today, November 23, 2010, courtesy of MMT

http://japantoday.com/category/lifestyle/view/japanese-firms-lobby-british-government-to-rethink-immigration-plans#show_all_comments

LONDON —

Japanese firms are threatening to review future investments in Britain if the government goes ahead with plans to put an annual cap on immigration levels.

Company bosses have told ministers that moves to limit the number of skilled citizens from outside the European Union that can be employed in Britain will seriously harm their businesses.

Japanese firms are particularly concerned about plans to curb the number of senior staff who can be transferred from Japan on a short-term basis, or intra-corporate transfers, as well as limits on recruiting skilled staff from outside the European Union.

The new center-right government has decided to impose a cap on immigration due to growing concern that non-EU citizens are taking jobs that could be done by skilled British people.

In July, an interim cap was imposed on skilled workers but ICTs are currently exempted. A new cap will be introduced in April and ministers are consulting on the size of the cap and which sectors should be covered, including possibly ICTs.

Critics say some Indian ICTs to Britain have been conducted in order to acquaint staff with information technology functions so that the work can later be offshored. They also claim that there are plenty of unemployed British IT workers who could carry out the jobs.

The government is aiming to bring immigration down to ‘‘tens of thousands’’ each year from hundreds of thousands under the previous government.

Japanese firms say it is unfortunate that a new system designed to crack down on abuses could hamper those who have always followed the rules.

Patrick Macartney, manager at the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Kyodo News, ‘‘The JCCI has communicated to UK 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 UK.’‘

Japanese car companies in Britain, which regularly transfer high-tech engineers from Japan to Britain, have been lobbying the government hard to exempt ICTs from the proposed new cap. The urgency is underlined by the fact that both Nissan Motor Co and Toyota Motor Corp have just announced major new investments in eco-friendly cars.

But the newly imposed cap on skilled workers is already impacting on Japanese firms in Britain.

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 UK to continental Europe. We are thinking about such contingency plans.’‘

And speaking at the same event, Stephen Gomersall, the European chief executive of Hitachi Ltd said, ‘‘There’s a danger that immigration legislation which is justified on totally different grounds can have operational consequences for sophisticated Japanese manufacturers.’‘

The British Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee has studied the idea of a cap and taken evidence from Professor David Metcalf, chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee, the government’s independent adviser on migration issues.

He told members about an encounter with Japanese executives ‘‘hostile’’ to the cap. They told him, ‘‘We provide huge foreign direct investments into the UK. Are you saying that it may be difficult for us to get our people in?’‘

The committee has warned that if the cap is set too high it could have a negative effect on business. Members recommend ICTs to Britain for under two years should be exempted.

The government says that it is listening to the concerns of the business community and recognizes the need to administer the cap flexibly.

Some analysts have speculated that the government could exempt certain sectors from the cap.

Firms are currently allowed to recruit skilled workers from outside the European Union if they are unable to fill posts with the local population or the job is on a list of ‘‘shortage occupations.’‘

Due to concern over immigration levels, Britain has already curbed the number of unskilled workers accepted into the country and placed tougher restrictions on student visas.

ends

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

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.  There is a person out there (one of many, no doubt) who takes a dim view of what we do here at Debito.org.  To the point of saying things in a published column we did not say.  Have a read of this.  Comment from me follows.

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EFL News, October 29, 2010

The Uni-Files
A candid look at EFL life and lessons from a university teacher’s perspective.
By Mike Guest, Miyazaki University

http://www.eltnews.com/columns/uni_files/2010/10/today_a_unifiles_interview_wit.html

An “interview” with controversial human rights activist Orudo Debiru
Categories:  Amusement/Fiction foreigners in Japan

Today- a Uni-files interview with the controversial activist and newspaper columnist Orudo Debiru

(For those who don’t know, Orudo Debiru is 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. He is also wholly fictional and if he happens to resemble some actual person from say, Hokkaido, that’s because you, dear reader, made an unwarranted connection. Today he joins us with one of his most ardent, and equally fictional, supporters- Jay Newbie).

Uni-files: Debiru, in a recent newspaper article you argued that even non-Japanese living outside Japan, including those who have never set foot in Japan, should have the right to vote in Japanese elections. You also argued that they should be eligible for all the public and social services offered by the Japanese government, including pensions and welfare benefits. This seems to be a bit radical don’t you think?

Debiru: No. Otherwise you’re discriminating between Japanese people and non-residents. Why should only Japanese have access to the benefits of ‘Team Japan’?

Newbie: Japan owes something to the world. It can’t just always be take, take, take. Japan has to give in return.

Debiru: Japan is the only ‘developed’ county that doesn’t provide the vote for it’s non-citizens who live elsewhere.

Uni-files: Really? No country in the EU does that, nor do Canada, U.S., or Australia.

Debiru: What other countries do is irrelevant! What’s right is right! Are you saying that it is right for Japan to be discriminatory?

Uni-files: Debiru, you and your supporters often mention that some attitudes, policies, or states of affairs occur ‘only in Japan’ among developed countries. It seems that you buy into notions of Japanese uniqueness or exclusivity. Do you?

Debiru: Not at all! The notion of Japanese uniqueness is a nationalist myth!

Newbie: Of all developed countries, only the Japanese think of themselves as being unique. It seems to be part of the Japanese mentality. They believe whatever the government tells them. You won’t find this type of belief in Western countries anymore, only in Japan.

Uni-files: Ok. Let’s move on. You’ve also blogged about “how the Japanese authorities plan to incarcerate all foreign residents as a precaution against the foreign criminals”. I haven’t come across any such policy statements. Can you ground this?

Debiru: Well, I was scouring the internet looking for anything that might prove my preconceptions about the ulterior motives of the Japanese authorities when I came across another blogger who talked about how his upholsterer in Inaka Prefecture thought he had overheard a conversation at a vegetable stand about the local district council becoming more vigilant about registering foreigners for social services and helping them with securing housing. And I can substantiate it too- with a link to the blog. Anyway, to me, being told to ‘stay in your house’ in this manner is equivalent to incarceration. And the registration is clearly a way of rounding up the foreigners- just like a crminal [sic] dragnet.

Newbie: In any civilized country this would cause mass rioting in the streets. But because the Japanese are such compliant sheep, not to mention the blatant racism here, no one will stand up for us. The Japanese just pretend that foreigners don’t exist. They stare at us like we’re from another planet.

Uni-files: That must be tough for them to do, both ignoring your existence and staring at you at the same time!

Debiru: This is just the start of the whole racist process. Next thing you know, your pension is declared null and void and your ‘ha-fu’ kids are kicked out of school for not being Japanese enough.

Newbie: Wow, Debiru. That was your best answer yet!

Uni-files: Let me ask about these racism charges a bit. For example, I know that you oppose the fingerprinting of non-Japanese at airports but can this really be called racist? After all, it is based upon citizenship, right? For example, Debiru, you are racially Caucasian but, as a Japanese citizen, you don’t have to be fingerprinted. And someone who is racially ‘Japanese’- although Japanese isn’t even a racial category- but doesn’t hold a Japanese passport still has to be fingerprinted. So while it may be other things, how can you say it is ‘racist’?

Debiru: Don’t feed the troll, Newbie. Don’t feed the troll.

Uni-files: Ok, nect [sic] question. Regarding a specific recent blog entry of yours… You recently criticized the city of Sonzainashi for exploiting non-Japanese. Apparently, the city authorities had developed a ‘Welcome Foreign Guests’ plan in which selected hotels, hot springs, eateries, bars and so on offered English information and services and had started a promotional campaign that actively encouraged non-Japanese to visit. So, what was the thrust of your criticism?

Debiru: When they carry out this facile, deceitful put-on for non-Japanese they’re only doing it because they want their business. “Let’s take the foreigner’s money away from them” is the real motivation. ‘Yohkoso Japan!’- Yeah, right!

Newbie: I consider it a form of robbery; another way of victimizing us, the weakest members of this society.

Uni-files: You guys seem to be very negative about anything to do with Japan, even when Japan scores an apparent success.

Newbie: That’s because Japan places everyone into an us and them paradigm. They do it all the time. They have institutionalized the formula. They use it to justify oppressive policies. We would never do that in the U.S. We have laws that forbid it and an education system that teaches us not to do so.

Uni-files:So, given that Debiru is Japanese, would you put him among that number?

Newbie: Well, I mean, he’s not really a Japanese in the same way they are. (Debiru stares at Newbie). Well I mean, like, he’s not exactly Japanese like them. So to speak. He’s a different Japanese from all the other Japanese. (Debiru continues staring at him). Well, of course he’s just the same as them in that he’s a Japanese citizen. But Debiru is more…ummm… progressive. (Debiru smiles).

Uni-files: OK. Back to the point. Wouldn’t you at least agree that public order and efficiency here is quite excellent?

Debiru: Japanese public order is maintained by coercion and implicit threat. It’s fifty years behind most other countries in this regard.

Uni-files: OK. How about robotics? Or even toilet technology?

Newbie: Robotics here is 36 years behind every other country in the world. And Japan is 23 years behind as far as toilets go.

Uni-files: On what basis can you make such bold claims?

Newbie: Three months ago in the U.S., before I came to Japan, I visited another state for the first time. And their toilets were better than here. Not as xenophobic.

Uni-files: Ok. How about manga and animation? Surely Japan’s ranking in these…

Newbie: You sound like a Japan apologist, acting as if racism never occurs here. Like nothing ever happened in Nanjing!

Debiru: Speaking of which, China has overtaken Japan as the world’s #2 power so Japan can’t possibly be leaders in those fields and therefore must be on the decline in all catgories.[sic] And it is this frustration at being a washed up, has-been society that it causing Japanese to lash out at foreigners.

Uni-files: Really? How so?

Debiru: It happens all the time. Read my blog.

Uni-files: I don’t doubt that there are individual cases but I don’t see it as systemic.

Debiru: If it isn’t systemic, why would I have so many blog posts? That’s all the proof you need! Anyway, just on our way over to this interview the taxi driver spat at us, called us ‘Dirty foreigners’ and told us to ‘Get out!”.

Uni-files: Wow! In twenty years in Japan I have never even come close to experiencing anything remotely like that. Can you elaborate? He spat at you?!

Debiru: Well, he was making disgusting sucking sounds with his teeth so that you could hear the saliva washing around. To me that’s spitting.

Uni-files: I wouldn’t call that spitting…

Debiru: Stay on topic! The point is he would never have done that if the passenger was visibly Japanese.

Uni-files: I see. And he called you a ‘dirty foreigner’?

Debiru: Well he called us “gaikokujin no kata”.

Uni-files: But that’s a very polite way of just saying ‘foreigner’! Where’s the ‘dirty’ part?

Newbie: Well we already know that the Japanese are racist and xenophobic so we can safely assume what he must have been thinking.

Uni-files: And the ‘Get out!’ part?

Newbie: He asked us where we wanted to “get out”. (awkward silence). It’s semantics.

Debiru: Not only that but I am not a foreigner. I’m a Japanese citizen. (starts sniffling) I was… racially profiled!

Newbie: (patting Debiru’s slumping shoulders) There, there. Now you are a racial profiling survivor!

Debiru (brightening up): If Japan had an anti-discrimination law with any teeth he’d have his ass hauled off to jail.

Newbie: Exactly. And you know what, you’ll never see the weak-kneed Japanese media or the history textbooks pick up on stories like this either. They don’t want to hear about these high-octane truths.

Debiru: This is precisely why we need laws against racism, xenophobia, being opposed to immigration, questioning multiculturalism, and other wrong and hateful thoughts.

Uni-files: So you’re in favor of more state authority and policing over what people think?

Debiru: Are you kidding? The police and judiciary here are totally inept and corrupt. They should stay out of people’s lives… ummm…except for the lives of those people who hold unhealthy views.

Uni-files: One more thing about this case. You say that you were racially profiled because the taxi driver believed that you were a foreigner, which by the way, is a mistake that most non-Japanese would probably make as well. But how do you know that the driver was in fact Japanese. Couldn’t he have been ethnically Korean or Chinese? In other words, didn’t you profile him equally?

Debiru: (closes his eyes) Don’t feed the troll, don’t feed the troll.

Uni-files: Ok. Last question. I’m wondering how you chose your Japanese name.

Debiru: It’s the closest phonetic approximation to my previous name. In fact, I asked to have a different, more suitable name first but was refused by the [iyami deleted] Japanese authorities.

Uni-files: And what name was that?

Debiru: Martin Luther King.

Leave a comment (47)

http://www.eltnews.com/columns/uni_files/2010/10/today_a_unifiles_interview_wit.html

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

Author’s Profile at ELT News
Mike Guest is Associate Professor of English in the School of Medicine at the University of Miyazaki. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, he has been living, working, and researching in Japan (not to mention lounging in the professors-jacuzzi and taking lengthy, fully-funded research trips to 5-star beach resorts in Bora-Bora) for almost twenty years.

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COMMENT:  What a card.  Well, for those unfamiliar with Mr Guest, he is a columnist at ELT News and the Daily Yomiuri (I even wrote about one of his DY columns here at Debito.org, favorably).  However, what inspired a column of this caliber and tone in the ELT News (under the heading of “a candid look at EFL life and lessons from a university teacher’s perspective”) is a bit beyond me.  Its fallacious attributions (these statements are not quotes from me; if Mr Guest had critiqued actual quotes — and lordy knows there are years of my words online he could have referred to — that would have been better, no?  Better yet, why not just interview me?), the presumption that people who support or comment at Debito.org must be malinformed Newbies, the general mean-spiritedness of it all, et cetera — are quite unbecoming for a person aiming to be a respected opinionist by taking puerile pot-shots at people on professional educational fora.

Especially in the Comments section where, amongst other obnoxious ripostes, he had this to say:

Alright, since Mr Guest decided to compare academic credentials, I decided to research his.  Here’s what I found at his university website, where he has a one-year contract as an English teacher:

This looks okay, until you do some research.  Aston University is a distance learning school in Birmingham UK that does indeed offer his degree (probably this one here).  Fine.

However, Regent College is NOT the University of British Columbia, one of Canada’s top universities.  Regent College is a Christian Studies school next door to UBC.  As was confirmed with Regent College the other day:

=========================
Subject: RE: Degree
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2010
From: Regent College Admissions

Thanks for your email. Regent College is a completely separate institution from UBC. We have some partnerships/affiliations with UBC, but a degree awarded from Regent College is solely from Regent and unrelated to UBC entirely. [emphasis added]

I hope this helps – please don’t hesitate to ask if you have further questions! If you are interested in receiving information about our MDiv degree, I’d be happy to send you our MDiv materials.

Blessings,
Amy Petroelje, Inquiries and Housing Coordinator
Regent College
5800 University Blvd Vancouver, BC V6T 2E4

phone 604.224.3245 toll.free 800.663.8664 fax 604.224.3097
www.regent-college.edu
www.facebook.com/regentcollege
www.twitter.com/regentcollege

=========================
email ends

So when I asked Mr Guest about his qualifications last week after his presentation at JALT Nagoya, here’s what he claimed:

SOUND FILE:  mikeguestUBC112010

Reconfirmed.  No possible misunderstanding about (putting UBC in parentheses) on his school katagaki.  He says UBC only, no mention of Regent College.  He has misrepresented his educational background.

Now, some might say that this might just be a form of shorthand, for an audience that might not know what Regent College is — as Mr Guest argued shortly afterwards:

SOUND FILE:  doctorguest112010

but as even his alma mater acknowledges, a degree from Regent College is not a degree from UBC.  It’s like saying somebody who graduated from Ithaca College, or Cornell College for that matter, graduated from Cornell University.  Not an ethical thing for an educational professional to do, especially when he wishes to establish himself as a credible critiquer of educational matters.

So if Mr Guest wants to scrutinize others, I hope he will accept the same public scrutiny.  Sadly, I’m not sure he will.  The following, written shortly after our first meeting at JALT Nagoya on a site called “Tepido.org” (an interesting choice of venue; it’s a website devoted *solely* to trashing me personally and people who contribute to Debito.org, run by blogger Mr Ken Yasumoto-Nicolson and toy store employee Mr Lance Braman), indicates that Mr Guest’s antagonism, dismissiveness, defensiveness, and blame-shifting continue unabated:

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

Mike Guest Says:
November 21st, 2010 at 7:51 am

http://tepido.org/heterogeneous-responses/182#comment-1204

It’s funny that this discussion about credentials should come up here now. Yesterday, Debito attended my presentation at the JALT Conference in Nagoya and confronted me afterwards. I wasn’t really surprised. First, during the Q and A session, he asked what my credentials were. A left-field question to be sure and I knew that he was up to something. Later he came to the front as I was packing up, with a bit of a manic gleam in his eye, a voice recorder in his hand, looking like an intrepid young reporter who’s ‘gonna take yer ass downtown’, and began a prepared spiel, trying very hard to be intimidating (but looking me to me a bit more like a caricature).

He said (among other things) that I was a fraud because I had misrepresented my academic credentials (I imagine this will be up on his site soon if not already). For the record, the crux was this: I have a BA from Simon Fraser Univ. (Canada) in Philosophy, an MSc in Applied Linguistics from Aston U. (U.K.) and a Masters in Theology from the graduate theological seminary on the UBC campus, Regent College. Regent issues its own independent degrees because of its religious affiliation, despite sharing the UBC campus and facilities, some teaching staff, plus several credits and classes (many of which I took for classical languages and linguistics). I also did an ESL teaching certificate course at UBC but whatever….

Anyway, when I mentioned a ‘Master’s from UBC’ in answer to his credentials question, Debito reacted like he had just found a photo of me in a compromising situation with a goat, thererafter harping upon my misrepresenting myself as having graduated from UBC.

Of course, way back when the personnel at my current university wanted to know my academic background I naturally went into detail about the relationship between Regent (the theological seminary) and UBC. Why hide anything? But when some guy asks you this from a crowd at an ESL presentation you’re not going to go into great detail. People don’t know what the theological school at UBC’s name is. It’s like if someone abroad asks where you live in Japan- you live in Chiba but you work in Tokyo. So you say Tokyo. No one expects the interlocutor to start suddenly playing prosecutor.

Debito also added that “we” (who?) had contacted Regent in Canada to find out about its relation to UBC and had also checked out my U of Miyazaki database in advance. So this underscores what I wrote in my parody, about his habit of scouring about in search of ways to find any potential striking point in any perceived adversary and then blowing the results out of proportion as if this credentials quibble constituted a weighty riposte to my earlier criticisms of him.

The upshot of this seems to be that Debito took umbrage at a comment I made here on Tepido about us having the same credentials. My comment had been in response to someone on his site saying that Mike Guest is in an isolated university bubble (or words to that effect), arguing that if someone wants to devalue my opinion based upon the claim of being an out-of-touch egghead, the same must apply to Debito. Instead, Debito seemed to take this as an invitation to an academic pissing match, and when confronting me in Nagoya, duly informed of his Ivy League school pedigree, which apparently trumps all: “So, we don’t have the same credentials do we, Mike?”

Well, I guess that’s true in a sense. For example I have two masters degrees whereas… oh, wait a second. None of this has any bearing on the validity or non-validity of my original criticisms of Debito does it? It’s just a sad attempt at rank pulling- arguing from assumed authority. I don’t know where Regent ranks in terms of thological seminaries, but even if my education was limited to Uncle Peter showing me how to bait a hook, my criticisms of Debito remain. Fishing for quibbles in how I answer an awkward question on-the-spot from the audience at an ESL presentation is rather pathetic But you know he’s going to do stuff like this.

I tried to talk with him after this, seeing if he might pull out of Debito mode but what followed was basically stonewalling on his behalf (plus a few choice words aimed in my direction) and eventually I gave up. I just look at it this way- it’s Debito being Debito. I expected a reaction from him at some point- after all, I took a shot at him and he’s trying to take one back- but the fact is that I just lose interest in these kind of one-dimensional people. I’ve already spent too much time writing about him…

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

(NB:  I might add that Mr Guest suggested I “switch to decaf” during those four allegedly unantagonistic and disinterested attempts to talk with me.  Again, what a card.)

Clearly, Mr Guest doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of what he’s done.  I have no truck with someone’s right to hold opinions about someone and express them in public.  But there are limits, of course — as in, are those opinions accurate?  If not, there should be scrutiny to make those inaccuracies clear.  However, it’s hard to scrutinize someone hiding behind “parody” to claim somebody said something he never said (it absolves Mr Guest of the responsibility of providing evidence or doing verifiable research). Makes one question the professionality of the ELT editors, who should be offering better safeguards to preserve the integrity of their forum.

However, scrutinizing someone’s alleged professional background is much simpler.  You don’t say you graduated from a place you did not graduate from and expect to be treated as an honest professional.

And you don’t pick on people like this (misrepresentation of the record is definitely a pattern in Mr Guest’s world) without expecting some scrutiny yourself.  Now face the scrutiny.  Like an adult.

That’s why I decided to go ahead with this expose on Debito.org.  People can make their own decisions about what kind of future relationship they wish to maintain with Mr Guest as a columnist, scholar, and professional.  Arudou Debito

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

UPDATE NOVEMBER 27

The deceptions continue.  Mr Guest writes:

“Regent is a Theology School located on the UBC Endowment Lands. Many facilities are shared. If you want to do a Master’s degree in Theology you go to Regent, because UBC can’t offer Theology courses. Several credits I took as part of this Master’s I took at regular UBC classes (mostly linguistics) since some courses are cross-transferable. I also did an EFL teacher training course at UBC.”

http://www.eltnews.com/columns/uni_files/2010/10/today_a_unifiles_interview_wit.html#comment-1447

“Regardless, if you want to do a Graduate degree in Theology at UBC you have to attend Regent or Vancouver School of Theology. Both are on the campus but are required to issue their own degrees as religious institutions. At both you can take classes and get cross credits from the standard UBC curricula and have full access to all UBC facilities. I used this to take linguistics courses- which were not offered at Regent. I also did a further ESL certification course at UBC.”

http://tepido.org/more-handbags/187#comment-1288

COMMENT:  Let’s cut through the fog.  Nowhere on your degree from Regent College, the one you cite as part of your academic credentials, does it say “University of British Columbia”.  They are not the same institution.  Claiming UBC on your employer’s website and at JALT, and insinuating as such online, does not change that.

Charity Concert in Sapporo: “The Happy Prince”

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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Forwarding. Arudou Debito

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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.

The Sapporo Project Santa is the work of Phred Kaufman. Each year he sequesters donations from various businesses to fill his Santa sacks. Project Santa serves four childrens’ group homes. Many of these children live in such homes because their parents cannot cope. Substance abuse, spouse abuse, and child abuse mixed with a slow economy make for a sad scenario for all too many children. So, please help to bring smiles to the faces of children who cannot be with their families this Christmas. Santa came last year, he is coming this year. Please help.

Please download the attachments to find out more about “The Happy Prince.” To reserve tickets, please contact:

Atsuki Koide: 090-2872-6855 or a2ki51de@yahoo.co.jp

The performance will be in Japanese.

Thank you very much and let’s sell out the hall!

Thomas Goetz

My college mentor, Chalmers Johnson, dies at 79

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It is with great sadness today that I blog about Chalmers Johnson, who died yesterday at age 79.  I was one of those students mentioned below that he mentored at the University of California, San Diego.  I last saw him at his home for dinner back in 2006.  I’m very unhappy to hear that we won’t be able to do that again.  Arudou Debito

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OBITUARY:  CHALMERS JOHNSON
The Atlantic Monthly, November 21, 2010

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/11/chalmers-johnson/66853/
BY 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. (Photo source here.)

cj_7355.jpg

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.

Johnson and his wife and lifelong intellectual partner Sheila were generous and patient with me, as I was first trying to understand the world they had studied and analyzed. I vividly remember spending an afternoon in the early 1990s on the sunny patio at their house in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, north of the UCSD campus. I’d moved back from Japan, was working on a book about it, and spent hours writing notes as fast as I could as Johnson described Douglas MacArthur’s mistakes and (occasional) successes during the U.S. Occupation of Japan, and why Japan’s economy was unlikely to open itself on the Western model, even if U.S. or British economists kept giving lectures about the importance of deregulation. I have never concentrated harder as I tried to be sure to capture his bons mots.

Johnson would have been about 60 at the time. Even then he suffered from a rheumatoid or gout-like condition that caused him swelling and pain. “It all goes so fast,” I remember him saying. He made good use of his time. Sympathies to Sheila Johnson and their many friends.

ENDS

For Educators in Japan: National EFL Job Satisfaction Survey

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Hello Blog.  Forwarding.  Arudou Debito

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

Hello Debito,

Douglas again, with the National EFL Job Satisfaction Survey links. Please take a look at the post below, check out the surveys, and consider if this is something you’d like to help disseminate. Perhaps you could pair it with a future blog on foreign workers…

Sincerely yours,
Douglas Meyer.
M.Sc.Ed. (TESOL) 教育学英語教授法修士(応用言語学)

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:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NZZ85RV

On-line survey for elementary, middle, and high school language teachers:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/D5LM52D

Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey. If you don’t mind, would you please forward this message (with links) to 3 or 4 friends? The results will only be useful if several hundred teachers respond. Thank you very much.

Sincerely yours,
Douglas Meyer.
M.Sc.Ed. (TESOL) 教育学英語教授法修士(応用言語学)
Osaka, Japan.
Inquiries welcome at: efljobsurvey@hotmail.com
ENDS

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

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Hi Blog.  Currently at JALT, so a quick one for today.  In the spirit of education in Japan, here’s an article from Times Higher Education talking about the pull for and push against importing students to fill spaces in Japan’s universities.  Funny they should want more NJ academics — they should give them better jobs.  But after more than a century of  “Academic Apartheid”, not likely.  Arudou Debito

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Japan’s open-door policy hinges on an attitude shift
Times Higher Education 14 October 2010, Courtesy of DK
Entrenched ideas hinder drive to attract more foreign students and staff, writes Michael Fitzpatrick

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=413828&c=1

Japan’s move to open its doors wider to foreign students and academics has come up against entrenched practices, budget cuts and a general ambivalence towards true “internationalisation”.

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.

From a pot of ¥3.2 billion (£24 million), selected universities will receive ¥200 million to ¥400 million per annum over the next five years to recruit students and lecturers and to help with additional administrative costs.

Participating universities are expected to use these funds to recruit between 3,000 and 8,000 international students.

The scheme also aims to encourage universities to hire more overseas lecturers to teach the new courses. Currently only 3.5 per cent of tutors in Japanese universities are foreigners, and most of these are engaged in teaching English.

Japan is not alone in Asia in its determination to increase the number of foreign students and faculty. China, which has long been one of the world’s largest exporters of students, is pursuing a similar strategy, with its “C9 consortium” of nine research universities tasked with attracting 10 per cent of undergraduate students from other countries.

The Chinese government has made funding available to increase the number of courses taught in English to help participating universities achieve this goal.

In Japan, however, progress has so far been limited, according to Paul Snowden, dean of the School of International Liberal Studies at Waseda University in Tokyo.

“The effort to attract more foreign students is stepping up faster than the effort to attract more faculty,” said Professor Snowden, a Briton who grew up in Essex and is the first foreign dean at a Japanese university.

“Commensurate attempts to attract foreign faculty are not generally made. Waseda as a whole, with its eyes on rising in the world rankings, recognises the principle, but has not yet put it into sufficient practice.”

Island mentality

There are many factors contributing to the formidable barriers that prevent universities beefing up their roster of foreign staff, Professor Snowden said.

State universities do little to help foreign faculty achieve tenure, and recruitment ads are often posted only in Japanese and on obscure government websites. There is also a general reluctance to hire foreigners, as Japanese universities either prefer very long-term commitments or offer only “guest-style” short contracts.

“Attitudes have long been against foreign recruitment, and that needs to change,” Professor Snowden said.

He said it is common to encounter the view: “We’ll only take foreigners of Nobel prize standard – otherwise why should we deprive Japanese people of jobs?”

So far, the recipients of Global 30 funding have all been elite universities.

However, smaller colleges that see the educational merits of international liberal arts-type courses are also introducing foreign students to their own campuses and encouraging – or even making compulsory – a period of overseas study for their home students.

With initiatives of this kind running in parallel to the government-sponsored project, “even though the figure of 300,000 is unlikely to be reached, at least numbers will rise”, Professor Snowden said.

ENDS

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

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Hi Blog.  Here’s another article from David McNeill on how the power shift in Asia is fueling domestic xenophobic jingoism.  Although we’ve seen far too much coverage of this raving right-wingnut Sakurai in recent months, the point is still valid that people here are feeling (or at least the domestic media is promoting the feeling) that Japan is being squeezed by emerging neighboring economic powers.  How that will affect Japan’s treatment of its NJ residents is something Debito.org and journalist contributors should keep an eye on.  (A recent Debito.org Poll, currently fifth from the top, indicates that Readers don’t think it will matter much. Hope so.)  Arudou Debito on his way to JALT Nagoya

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

The Independent, November 5, 2010
Japan: The land of the rising nationalism
By David McNeill
The emergence of China as an economic superpower is bringing out the jingoism in the Japanese

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/japan-the-land-of-the-rising-nationalism-2125690.html

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. The summer news that China overtook Japan as the world’s No 2 economy – a position Japan had held for four decades – has sparked painful soul-searching in a country that was once seen as a serious economic rival to America. Indications of Japan’s decline are all around. Per capita GDP fell from fourth in the world in 2001 to 22nd last year. Its share of global production has fallen below 10 per cent for the first time since 1982; its economy grew by a pallid 0.8 per cent in the decade till 2009. After years of government pump priming, public debt approaches 200 per cent of GDP – the worst in the developed world.

Blue-chip firms like Sony and Hitachi have lost their lustre. Last year’s decision by Toyota, once the gold standard of manufacturing, to eventually recall 14 million cars seemed symbolic of a faltering global brand – Japan Inc. Yasuchika Hasegawa, president of Takeda Chemicals, summed up Japan’s sense of crisis this year when he said: “We need a new vision or we face the decline of our nation.”

Japan is still struggling to deal with the fallout from a separate territorial dispute with Beijing over the Senkaku (as they are known in Japan) or Daiyou (as they are known in China) islands. China pressured Tokyo into releasing the captain of a fishing boat that had collided with a coastguard vessel in waters claimed by Japan, in part by choking off supplies of rare earth minerals – vital for the electronics industry. The timing of the maritime spat confirmed some fears that China’s expanding economic clout is increasingly matched by political and military muscle.

“Lots of nations disagree, but it doesn’t get down to an eyeball-to-eyeball game of chicken,” says Jeff Kingston, a China expert in Temple University Japan. “It’s about the huge shift of power from Japan toward China over the last 15 years.

“It’s about who gets to call the shots in Asia – the US or China and China is saying it wants a bigger say and the key issue is for the US to decide if it wants to cede more space to them – and history is not littered with good examples of that.”

All of which could be used to paint a very bleak picture of one of the planet’s most important bilateral relationships, were it not for cold economic facts. China gobbled up a record 19 per cent of Japan’s total exports last year, while Japan in turn bought 22 per cent of its imports from China. Two decades of often bit

ter disputes over history, territory and politics have failed to knock the onward march of economic progress off course: China last year overtook the US to become Japan’s most important trading partner.

In Tokyo’s upscale Matsuzakaya department store, a couple of miles from where Sakurai and his supporters shout racist-tinged invective at the Chinese embassy, a very different picture of Sino-Japan relations is on show. Like thousands of Japanese businesses struggling with inert domestic demand, this crusty shopping landmark is turning its gaze to an alluring new customer and as such has had to hire Mandarin-speaking staff to deal with the influx of Chinese customers. “They turn their noses up at Chinese-made goods,” explains Le Hui, one of the new assistants. “They want Japanese and European brands.”

Long seen by Japanese companies as a source of cheap labour, China is increasingly now a market for tourism and finished Japanese products. For China, meanwhile, Japan is not only an important market but a source of advanced technologies and investment. “For China to continue along its path of development, it needs a peaceful environment and a good relationship with Japan,” says Zhu Jianrong, a professor of international relations at Tokyo’s Toyo Gakuen University, who is optimistic the current tension can be overcome.

Still, the political impact of Japan’s growing despondency is unpredictable as it adapts, sometimes uncomfortably, to the growing Chinese bulk. One ominous route for frustrations was on display after the freeing of the Chinese captain, which was greeted with fury by Sakurai and some 3,000 other nationalists, who protested at the Chinese embassy.

The Yukan Fuji tabloid newspaper branded the release dogeza gaiko – appeasement diplomacy; Tokyo’s right-wing governor Shintaro Ishihara said the Chinese were acting like “gangsters” and that it was time for Japan to seriously consider developing nuclear weapons. One hero of the neo-nationalist movement, Toshio Tamogami – a sacked former air force general – even floated the possibility of war. The end result was to “increase Japanese insecurity on the one hand and greater dependency on the US on the other,” points out Mark Selden, a veteran Japan-watcher based at Cornell University in the US. That twin-punch deals a serious blow to what was once seen as a potentially promising initiative of the centre-left Democrat (DPJ) government.

The previous prime minister Yukio Hatoyama flirted with what he dubbed Yuai – a fraternal relationship with old enemy China that could have brought both sides closer: more political and cultural exchanges, an EU-style Asian market, even a military alliance were discussed.

With Hatoyama gone and both sides again in the political trenches, that initiative seems for now to be dead in the water. Prime Minister Kan, under fire for his handling of both the Chinese and Russian disputes, is suffering the consequences with approval ratings now below 40 per cent. Old rivals like former prime Minister Shinzo Abe are making political hay, advocating a much tougher diplomatic line in street protests and editorials.

Even mainstream publications like the Nikkei business daily are fuelling anti-Chinese sentiment, airing speculation – unproven – that Chinese cash is buying up Japanese land as a hedge against future food shortages at home. Conservative publications have honed in on the scenic area around Lake Kawaguchi, close to national icon Mt Fuji, where Chinese investors this year snapped up 17 luxury houses. Sakurai’s group, the Citizens League to Deny Resident Foreigners Special Rights, is far to the right of the mainstream press advocating, among other things, the expulsion of long-term Chinese residents and a beefed-up military.

But he believes the political tide is turning his way. “Japan has been asleep for a long time,” he says. “It’s time we woke up.”
ENDS

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

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Hi Blog.  Here’s an interview I was invited to give in early October with Canada’s CBC Radio One, which was broadcast yesterday. Thanks for that, CBC.  Link to where you can listen to it, and the writeup on their website follows:

http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2010/11/16/nov-1610—pt-2-japans-population-crash/

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CBC Radio One, Nov 16, 2010 – Pt 2: Japan’s Population Crash, courtesy of MH&P.

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.

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COMMENT:  I come in from minute 11:55.  Sounds like I was in good voice that morning (we got to the radio station in Calgary at 8:30AM for a 9AM interview.  Good thing we did; the interviewer was late, and questions were a bit half-baked; it seemed as if she had forgotten our appointment).

Frankly, I’m a bit disappointed with the contents.  There was a good interactive interview with Sakanaka-san, who deserves it.  Also one with Dr Peng.  But all I got was a short storytelling of the Otaru Onsens Case (and an incomplete one at that — I never got my bit in about how even a naturalized citizen was treated by Yunohana Onsen, so Dr Peng then responds that it’s too bad foreigners got treated that way even though it’s not an issue of nationality); nothing else from a significantly longer interview.  Instead, we got Dr Peng talking inter alia about naturalization — incorrectly, too; one does not need a sponsor to naturalize (it’s not a work visa), one’s identity need not be that subsumed, etc.  Why doesn’t the person who actually went through the process get asked about it?  Because I’m not sure a question about it was actually prepared for my interview (don’t remember; it’s been six weeks).  Also would have liked a bit more research done and mentioned on my katagaki too (plenty of people marry and have children in Japan, so I would hope they contacted me because they thought I had something a bit more authoritative to say).

Ah well.  At least the subject of Japan’s future and the need for a possibility of immigration was broached.  Thanks for that, CBC.  Arudou Debito

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

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Hi Blog.  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.  Arudou Debito

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Eurobiz Magazine August 2010
Your new alien registration card
Changes under the new Japanese immigration system

http://www.eurobiz.jp/content/2010/august/columns/event-report
By TONY MCNICOL, courtesy of the author

Applying and paying for a re-entry permit has long been an unavoidable nuisance for foreign businesspeople traveling out of Japan. But during a recent EBC organised event at the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation it was announced that the “gaijin tax” will soon be no more. It was just one of a raft of changes to the law explained to attendees by Hiroaki Matsuno, a deputy director at the Ministry of Justice.

The government plans to bring the revised regulations into force by July 2012 at the latest, and the Ministry of Justice is already busy at work on the details. Matsuno, who took up his current post a few months ago, has been working till midnight almost every day, he said.

The biggest change is that, rather than two tiers – immigration bureau for visas and local ward or city office for alien registration cards – everything will now be handled by the Ministry of Justice. For the first time, mid- to long-term foreign residents will come under the juminhyo (residence registry) system; good news for legal foreigners, but bad news for illegals who will not be able to receive the replacement for the current alien registration card – or services such as government healthcare.

In principle the new “residence card”, which will basically replace the “status of residence” stamp in passports, will be issued at the airport at the time of landing. “But we can’t afford to place machines at all of Japan’s airports,” stressed Matsuno. (Japan currently has over 80 airports). For those arriving in the boondocks, the card will be sent by post.

For some changes to details on the card, say a change in employer, reporting to the immigration bureau will be required by law. The ministry is investigating the use of proxies, said Matsuno, but has not yet made a decision. The ministry is also considering allowing notification by post or through the internet.

Hopefully, the changes will reduce work for the immigration bureau and shorten queues in their offices (a relief for those who have run the gauntlet of the Shinagawa bureau). “We have been very sorry to keep people waiting,” said Matsuno. Most visa categories will be extended from three to five years, and the residence card will expire after the same period. There will also be a change in the re-entry permit. Mid- to long-term foreign residents will now be exempt from needing a re-entry permit as long as they re-enter Japan within 12 months. (The re-entry permit system will remain for other cases.)

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.”

Rest of the article at
http://www.eurobiz.jp/content/2010/august/columns/event-report

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

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Hi Blog. 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. Well taken. More on the issue at the Children’s Rights Network Japan site. Arudou Debito

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The Japan Times Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010
HOTLINE TO NAGATACHO
Japan must end the scourge of parental child abduction
AMY SAVOIE, Tennessee

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20101109hn.html

(Dr. Amy Savoie is the wife of Christopher Savoie. In August 2009, Savoie’s children were abducted from the U.S. to Japan by his ex-wife. A few weeks later, he was arrested while trying to reclaim his children. Last month marked the one-year anniversary of his release from Yanagawa prison in Fukuoka Prefecture. Send submissions of between 500 and 600 words to community@japantimes.co.jp)

To the government of Japan:

For years, the Japanese government refused to acknowledge that parental child abduction was even a problem, but this issue has finally become too big to ignore. In September, Virginia Rep. Jim Moran warned Japan that Congress “is watching and expecting action.” Now the Japanese authorities are, at long last, talking about child abduction to the media and to foreign governments, although they are unfortunately doing so in a highly guarded and disingenuous manner, often with the complicity of the Japanese press, who use “quotes” when discussing “abduction” in order to minimize the “issue.”…

• Excuse #4: These are not really abductions. The parents are merely coming home to Japan.

Perhaps Japan was the abducting parent’s original home (where the abductor grew up), but “home” for the children was the country where custody had already been decided, i.e. where the children had been living at the time of the abduction. So this “coming home” argument is specious and hypocritical.

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…

Rest of the letter at

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20101109hn.html

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  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 Debito.org — 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?  Arudou Debito

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

The Japan Times Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010
THE ZEIT GIST
Muslims in shock over police ‘terror’ leak
Japan residents named in documents want explanation — and apology — from Tokyo police force

By DAVID McNEILL

This time last month, Mohamed Salmi says he was just another anonymous foreigner living and working in Japan. Today he fears his life here may be over, and receives phone calls from reporters asking him if he is an al-Qaida “terrorist.”

“I’ve no idea why they have picked on me,” says the Algerian, who has lived and worked in Japan for over 20 years and is married to a Japanese national. “My wife and I are still struggling to believe it.”

Salmi’s name was one of several released in extraordinary leaked documents from a counterterrorism unit of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s Public Security Bureau. Listed as “terrorist suspects,” the men are Muslims who live and work here, in many cases for decades.

The documents, which have been obtained by The Japan Times, contain vast amounts of personal information, including birthplaces, home and work addresses, names and birthdays of spouses, children and associates, personal histories and immigration records. Even the names of local mosques visited by the “suspects” are included.

In most cases, the causes of the initial police suspicion appear to have simple explanations. Salmi’s former work as a travel agent placed him in contact with Arab students, businessmen and diplomats.

“I had a lot of ambassadors as clients,” says the 47-year-old, who now works for a Japanese construction company. “I can’t believe this is enough to put me on a list of suspects.”

Apparently released via file-sharing software, the files and the background on how they were compiled reveal that Japanese police, under pressure from U.S. authorities, trawled Tokyo in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, in search of intelligence data among the city’s tiny Muslim community. According to victims of the leak, in some cases the Security Bureau tried to recruit them as spies…

Rest of the article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20101109zg.html

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

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 is a thoughtful essay alleging that Japan will lose out to South Korea due to the latter’s relative openness.  If true, that bodes ill for those of us making a life on this side.  I’ll put this article up for discussion for people who know enough about both countries to make a comparison.  Arudou Debito

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Japan’s dangerous deglobalised dream
South Korea’s economy has gone from strength to strength, while Japan’s stagnation may turn into a ‘New Edo’ era
Guy Sorman, guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 9 November 2010, courtesy of TK

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/09/japan-dangerous-deglobalised-dream

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.

Historically squeezed between its two giant neighbours, China and Japan, South Korea had long been perceived as an underdog with a fuzzy cultural identity. In Asia, however, Japan’s leaders are not waiting for the Seoul summit to take a closer look at South Korea. South Korea was formerly a Japanese colony (1910-1945) and the natives were treated like an inferior race. Today, South Korean’s economy has been growing annually by 5% on average for 10 years, whereas Japan grew by 0.42% per year during the same period.

One could argue that South Korea is not yet a mature economy and is only catching up with a more advanced Japan. This was the case in the 1970s, but no more. Whereas China’s growth is fuelled by low-cost labour as millions of peasants enter the industrial economy, this is not the South Korean recipe for success, which has been driven by private entrepreneurship, innovation and quality products: Samsung and Hyundai, not cheap wages, are South Korea’s growth engines.

Another key to South Korea’s success story is the well-balanced relationship between stable governments and the private sector. This was clearly demonstrated late last year when a South Korean consortium won a contract to build four nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates late last year, beating out the French.

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.

The Japanese still live comfortably, better by one-third than the South Koreans, thanks to their past investments. Japanese companies abroad remain profitable and Japan is still the global leader in high-tech niches like electronics or carbon fibres. For example, Apple’s iPhone and Boeing’s latest aeroplane rely heavily on Japanese-patented innovations. These comparative advantages may keep Japan above water for a while, but only until China or South Korea catch up.

One would thus expect Japan to be anxiety-ridden, but it is not. True, new forms of poverty and unemployment are rising, but they remain well hidden behind family solidarity or corporate customs. Companies reduce their superfluous employees’ annual bonuses, but do not get rid of them. Young Japanese tend not to work before their 30s, and married women stay at home.

Political parties that rely on an ageing constituency are not tempted to call for change. The sort of shaky short-term political coalitions that rule Japan nowadays prefer to buy time through so-called public stimulus, or to preserve inefficient companies with subsidies. Twenty years of such shortsighted policies, whatever the party in power, have fuelled government debt, hindering private investment.

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.” The first Edo collapsed when the United States navy opened up the Japanese market with the arrival of Commodore Perry’s “black ships” in 1853. Will the second Edo be able to resist Chinese ambitions? “The New Edo era needs a strong Japanese army,” admits Inose.

This second Edo era may sound like a poetic utopia, but it has some influence: Sakakibara observes that Japanese students do not study abroad anymore and that “nobody learns English”. At a time when South Koreans are becoming more globalised, learning English, and welcoming a growing number of immigrants, Japan is entering a “deglobalisation process”.

That is a worrying trend, and not only for Japan: South Korea can hardly stand alone as the lone Asian democracy. If the Japanese do not wake up from their Edo dream, Asia might very well become a Chinese empire.

Will this be debated at the G20? Not openly, but certainly in the corridors.
ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  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 of this tone from a person of this standing, mere hours after I friend him.

(Screen captures of my Facebook page where he tries to hijack an unrelated thread; printed, names other than Ken’s and mine redacted, and scanned.)

BROADSIDE ENDS

COMMENT:  I’m not sure why KJJ has it in for me.  I met him just once (during the Kobe Earthquake of 1995) when I went down to Kobe from Sapporo on my own dime to volunteer under the auspices of Japan Helpline.  It wasn’t a long encounter, I doubt KJJ remembers me.  But during the Otaru Onsens Lawsuit he hit me with a similar broadside, claiming online that our refusal at Onsen Osupa in Otaru was a lie because he allegedly managed to wangle his way in (this has never been substantiated, although Osupa’s “Japanese Only” signs certainly were, as was Osupa’s refusal of us on September 19, 1999).  He also popped up from time to time on an old yahoogroups discussion list called “Shakai” (half deleted by Tony “Darling Foreigner” Laszlo) under a different name “Kenichi Suzuki” with similar broadsides.  That said, we never corresponded directly like this online until Monday, when he asked to be friended.

Don’t know what’s eating him, but a person who makes himself out to be this important should show more decorum in his comments.  Leaving a record of unprofessional broadsides (of questionable veracity to boot) like this is quite unbecoming.  And unconstructive, given that we should all be working towards the same goals.  Arudou Debito

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. 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?   Arudou Debito

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

The Japan Times Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010
Suicide prompts major bullying study
Kyodo News, courtesy of DK

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.

Uemura’s mother found the 12-year-old hanging by a scarf from a curtain rail in her room Oct. 23. It is believed the girl took her own life due to bullying at school that apparently started sometime last year after her mother, who is from the Philippines, visited the school for an event.

After an initial denial, Niisato Higashi Elementary School admitted Monday she had been a frequent target of abuse by classmates.

The education ministry said Tuesday it has told prefectural boards of education to conduct periodic surveys on bullying.

The ministry also urged schools and local-level authorities to cooperate with families of schoolchildren to deal with the problem.

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20101111a6.html

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

The Japan Times Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010

EDITORIAL

Cause of a girl’s suicide

On Oct. 23, Ms. Akiko Uemura, a sixth-grade girl in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture, died after hanging herself. On Nov. 8, Kiryu’s board of education made public a report saying she had been psychologically bullied. It denied a cause-and-effect relationship between the bullying and her suicide. But on Oct. 25, Mr. Yoichi Kishi, principal of the municipal Niisato Higashi Primary School, said school authorities had known that the girl “was not in good condition as indicated by her isolation at lunch time.” We wonder why the school could not act soon enough to prevent her suicide…

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.

Whole Editorial at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20101111a2.html

ENDS

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

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
FUGITIVES
AMW CASE FILE
Unknown Hoon Scott Kang Killer
Hoon Kang was in a coma for several days after cops say he accidentally fell.
America’s Most Wanted Website, courtesy of BG
http://www.amw.com/fugitives/case.cfm?id=75251

The Call

Like any concerned parent, Sung Won Kang was a little worried about his teenage son who would be vacationing in Japan, especially since his son’s cell phone didn’t have international service to call home.

Nineteen-year-old Hoon “Scott” Kang of Buford, Ga., was teaching English in South Korea. He told his father that he and two fellow teachers had exciting vacation plans in Tokyo. As the trio prepared to leave for their trip, Hoon called his dad from the airport in Seoul and reassured his father that everything would be fine. He would call home if he needed anything.

A few days later, Sung Won did get a phone call: His son was missing.

Police say that the next time anyone saw Scott, he was found lying in an emergency stairwell of 15 Collins Building, a high rise that houses several clubs.

Big Plans, Bright Future

Sung Won Kang and his wife, Geyeon, immigrated from Seoul in 1993. Like many other Korean immigrants, they gave their kids American names: Scott and Rebecca. Sung Won and Geyeon worked hard to give their kids a wonderful life. They were all proud to be living as Americans, but Scott was exceptionally patriotic. In high school, he joined ROTC and wanted to enlist in the Army one day to help serve his country.

In 2009, Scott graduated from North Gwinnett High School and was on track to realize his dream of becoming a lawyer and politician. Scott received a scholarship from ROTC that allowed him to enter the international business program at Fordham University in New York. Since his scholarship only covered his tuition, Scott still needed money for his food and lodging, and times were tight. That’s when his father suggested that Scott apply for an English teaching job in South Korea, where instructors from the United States were in high demand. Scott decided it was a great idea – not only would he be able to earn money for school, he could better learn his parents’ native tongue. He decided to take a year off from college and to be sure he saved his money, Scott would send his checks home to his dad. Everything was going well, and Sung Won couldn’t be prouder of his eldest son. In August, when Scott decided to take some time off, it was supposed to be a week of fun and exploration.

The Vacation

On Aug. 24, Scott and his friends spent their first day in Tokyo taking in the scenery. That night, they went to the Shinjuku District, a place known for its rowdy nightlife. Scott broke off from the group around 10:30 p.m. to wander on his own. When Scott’s dad got the phone call from Japan, his son was missing, after he didn’t return to his friends.

Later that same day, Minsook Lee, a guardian of one of the men who was with Scott that night, called Sung Won to report that they found Scott — he was in a local hospital, fighting for his life. Police say he was hospitalized after someone discovered Scott, lying in an emergency stairwell of 15 Collins Building, a high-rise that houses several clubs. He was unconscious and blood was trickling from his left ear.

While Scott’s parents rushed to Tokyo, Minsook instinctively took photos and video of Scott in the hospital. By the time Scott’s parents arrived, he had been in a coma for several days. He passed away the following day.

When Scott’s father met with Japanese police, he says investigators showed him surveillance video taken inside an elevator, in the same building where Scott was found. According to Scott’s dad, the video shows Kang in the elevator shortly after 11 p.m. with a man in a black hat. Scott apparently made a gesture with both hands out, as if to say “I don’t have anything,” and the man appeared to punch Kang in the stomach, his father told AMW. Scott was found around 1:30 a.m. in the stairwell between the sixth and seventh floors. Sung Won believed his son was the victim of an attempted robbery, but Japanese police reached a different conclusion.

Sung Won tells AMW that Japanese police ruled it was an accidental death — that Scott had too much to drink that night and fell down two flights of stairs. Scott’s family and friends didn’t accept that explanation and called the U.S. Embassy, pressing for more solid answers. Eventually, investigators reopened the case.

AMW decided to take the case as well, and John Walsh and his team traveled to Tokyo to shoot the story. Members of the Kang family’s church raised money to send Sung Won to Japan, and he participated in the shoot. During that visit, Sung Won was able to meet with Japanese police again, and this time, they had a different assessment. Cops apparently believe that the two men were shaking hands in the elevator. They recently identified the man from the surveillance video as an employee of a bar in the same building, but cops haven’t charged him with any crime.

The Kang family is aching for answers half a world away. Family and friends are now trying to help garner support, encouraging people to reach out to their state representatives about the suspicious death of Hoon “Scott” Kang. With America’s Most Wanted and its global reach, they’re hoping to get some justice. If you can help, call our Hotline 1-800-CRIME-TV. Remember, you can remain anonymous.

Television Airings:
»November 6, 2010
ENDS

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

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 what Debito.org has been saying all along (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here): The policing agencies are justifying any programs dealing with crime by blaming it on the foreigners.

As a source, here’s the Ministry of Justice itself in 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 on and try to suppress a wry smirk. Arudou Debito

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THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
Recovery of public safety

Undated article, courtesy of XY, English original
http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/issues/issues04.html

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.

Under such circumstances, the Government, aiming at restoration of Japan as “the safest country in the world”, inaugurated the Ministerial Meeting Concerning Measures against Crime, which formulated in December 2003 “The Action Plan for the Realization of a Society Resistant to Crime”, and the Conference is actively promoting comprehensive measures such as various countermeasures against crime including shoreline countermeasures, the consolidation of a social environment under which it is difficult to commit crimes, and the strengthening of the structure of agencies and organs responsible for public safety.

Based on the important issues shown in this plan (Action Plan for the Realization of a Society Resistant to Crime), the Ministry of Justice submitted the Bill for Partial Amendment to the Penal Code and other related laws to the Diet, which raised the terms of statutory penalties for heinous and serious crimes and extended the statute of limitations for prosecution, and this Law has been in force since the beginning of 2005. Further, the Ministry of Justice, in order to better protect the economy and society from organized crime and suchlike, is engaged in getting legislation passed, including criminal provisions, to combat the obstruction of compulsory execution, which is also necessary for ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; as well as legislation for measures against high-tech crimes, thereby enabling ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime.

In order to deal effectively with the frequent occurrence of serious crimes committed by foreign nationals and the increase in the number of transnational crimes, it is necessary to make the procedure for gathering evidence from abroad more effective and to enhance cooperation between the investigative authorities of foreign countries and Japan. As part of such enhancement of cooperation, the Japanese Government has concluded the Treaty between Japan and the United States of America on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (entered into force on 21 July 2006) and the Treaty between Japan and Korea on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (entered into force on 26 January 2007). These treaties have made it possible to send and receive requests not through diplomatic channel but directly between the Ministry of Justice or other competent authorities of Japan and the Ministry of Justice of respective countries, enabling the expediting of procedures. The Japanese Government is also negotiating with Hong Kong, Russia and China to conclude the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. The Ministry of Justice is in the position of developing cooperation with other countries in the future.

The Bill for Partial Amendment to the Penal Code and Other Related Laws has been submitted to the 2005 Ordinary Session of the Diet, which is necessary to ratify the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and to cope with the modern crime of violation of the right to liberty, for example, confinement for long periods and the heinous kidnapping of minors, and this Law has been in force since July 2005.

In order to stabilize the public security of the nation, preventing the re-offending of offenders who have committed crimes or delinquency is also important.

Penal institutions including prisons, juvenile prisons and detention houses, are now suffering from a severe overcrowding of inmates and it is thought that this may adversely affect the treatment given by the institutions. Therefore the Ministry is striving to solve the problem by such means as the construction of prisons using private financial initiatives (PFI). Furthermore, in order to find a way to enable the large numbers of Chinese inmates, who are one of the causes of overcrowding, to be transferred to their home country, the Ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is working toward early conclusion of a bilateral treaty between Japan and China and continues dialogues with China.

In addition, the Ministry is striving to prevent inmates from re-offending by improving the treatment programs for the rehabilitation and smooth resocialization of inmates.

In the field of rehabilitation of offenders in the community, the Ministry of Justice is aiming to smoothly enforce the Offenders Rehabilitation Act, which was passed by the Diet and was promulgated in June 2007 and to ensure fair application of the Act in order to improve and strengthen the offenders rehabilitation system in the community.

The Offenders Rehabilitation Act shall be enforced on a date which is specified by a Cabinet Order within a period not exceeding one year from the day of promulgation (June 15, 2007). However, some articles of the Act which relate to support of crime victims were already enforced on December 1, 2007. In order to carry out balanced probation, parole, and improvement of the system of cooperation between rehabilitation workers in the private sector such as volunteer probation officers, and public officers, the Ministry of Justice is striving to strictly enforce the lower laws and ordinances which lay down the detailed regulations of the bill of the Offenders Rehabilitation Act. In addition, the Rehabilitation Bureau is endeavoring to establish strong rehabilitation of offenders in the community in a way which will fulfill the expectations of the citizens in the future.

To ensure balanced and effective probation, the Ministry of Justice implements the following from the viewpoint of the appropriate roles for probation officers and volunteer probation officers: guidance and assistance by probation officers who give direct and intensive supervision to persons who need special consideration for treatment, reinforcement of direct participation by probation officers for persons who need focused treatment, implementation of special treatment programs for sex offenders, violent offenders and drug abusers. In addition, assisting in securing employment is extremely important to prevent re-offending. Therefore, the Ministry of Justice promotes finding employment together with public employment security offices to support probationers and parolees in finding work, promotes measures for work security in a variety of industries and fields through cooperation with the ministries concerned, and promotes the National Halfway House Project.

Concerning antiterrorism measures, the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (hereinafter to be referred to as the Immigration Control Act), was revised in the regular session of the Diet in 2005 in order to include new counter-terrorism measures, based on the Action Plan for the Prevention of Terrorism (decided on December 10, 2004 by the Headquarters for the Promotion of Countermeasures against International Terrorism including International Organized Crime) and the amended Act entered into effect in December of 2005.

Further, according to the plan, the ordinary Diet Session in 2006 amended the Immigration Control Act. The revision included the introduction of (i) regulations requiring foreign nationals to provide fingerprints and other personal identification at the landing examination, (ii) regulations regarding the grounds for deportation of foreign terrorists, and (iii) regulations requiring the captains of ships and other vessels entering Japan to report in advance information regarding crewmembers and passengers.

With regard to North Korea, the Public Security Intelligence Agency is collecting and analyzing information such as abduction, nuclear and missile issues, in order to contribute to providing solutions. Further, the Agency is endeavoring to consolidate its intelligence collection mechanism by intensifying and expanding its intelligence network and its cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies in order to prevent the occurrence of terrorist attacks by international terrorist organizations, and to clarify the actual state of such organizations as well as to detect international terrorism related activities in Japan, while making efforts to actively promote the Government’s “Action Plan for the Prevention of Terrorism” with other agencies and organizations concerned. With regard to Aum Shinrikyo (the Aum cult), taking into consideration that there is no fundamental change in its dangerous nature even after the cult split into the main stream group and the Joyu group in May 2007, the Agency is strictly implementing the measure to place the groups under surveillance thereby clarifying the organizations themselves and their activities and providing local governments at their request with the results of the surveillance, thus trying to secure the safety of the public and ease the fears and the anxiety of the Japanese people.

(Criminal Affairs Bureau, Correction Bureau, Rehabilitation Bureau, Immigration Bureau, Public Security Intelligence Agency, and Public Security Examination Commission)
ENDS

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

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.  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 Debito.org 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.  Arudou Debito

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November 5, 2010

Hey Debito, Just to keep you abreast of a recent NPA excuse for a ‘stop and search’ shambles, here’s my story.

I have been living in Tokyo for around eight years now and this was the first time I have ever been stopped. I was on my way to meet a client in Gotanda in Tokyo on November 3rd and as I went through the ticket gate at approximately XXXpm [daytime] there were two regular police officers waiting on the other side. I saw one of them clock me and registered that he had decided to stop me for whatever purpose. Resigned to my fate, I watched him beeline his way towards me and gesture for me to stop. I took out my earbuds and responded to his question (“Can you speak Japanese?”) with a polite, “just a little.” Suprisingly, he then spoke English to me and continued to do so for the rest of the time I was delayed (I am not a fluent speaker of Japanese so I was quite happy to stay in my native tongue rather than struggle along with what little I know). First he asked if I had any I.D. such as a passport or Registration Card so I obligingly opened my bag, got out my wallet, closed my bag and handed him my I.D. I then asked him why he had stopped me and what he said was, and still is, the shocker of this whole story for me. He said that they were stopping foreigners “because of the APEC meeting being held in Yokohama.” I will refrain from launching into what I think about this ridiculous statement but I’m sure you can imagine my chagrin, so to speak. When I asked him why he had chosen to stop me, he then said that they were focusing on searching foreigners bags for “dangerous goods” and asked if it wouldn’t be too much trouble to have a look inside my bag. I said no, he couldn’t look inside my bag. He was a bit flummoxed at this and had to gather himself in order to proceed correctly. First he called over his sidekick and asked him to fill in the relevant form with my Registration details – sidekick obviously hadn’t done this before as he had a hard time guessing which bits of info to write down and had to check more than twice with the guy I was dealing with – then, he confirmed that I had just said “no” and asked me again if he could look inside my bag. We went back and forth a couple more times. Next he asked me to cooperate and that it wouldn’t take much time; I said I was cooperating and asked him if he thought I wasn’t cooperating. We went back and forth a couple more times. The discussion went round in circles a little longer but I must stress that at no point was he ever threatening or aggressive, and neither was I. In the end, I asked for his name and I.D., which he obligingly gave me. Once I had taken this down I opened my bag to put my notebook back and allowed him to have a look inside – by this time it was getting close to my appointment and I wanted to get on with my day. The one thing I forgot to ask him before I showed him the inside of my bag was if I could leave now, once they had taken my Registration details. It’s easy to think about it in retrospect… He only gave the inside of my (fairly sizable backpack, messenger style) bag a cursory look even after the reason he gave for the search, too! – I guess he supposed I would refuse if he asked to open the other bags which were inside my bag (soft lunch bag, quality waterproof bag with spare clothes, book bag). At least, in the end, he was polite, even though he was persistent. The whole affair took about 10 minutes of my time and I can’t help feeling like I was the victim of some inane body-count for administration purposes only.

Police Officer Seiya NC 217 of the Osaki Police Station looked like he was still in his 20’s and had been tasked with the job of targeting foreigners for the sole purpose of satisfying his superiors that Japan was doing it’s bit to ‘fight’ terrorism. I’m sure he believed in what he was doing and most likely still does but I’m also sure that he and many others like him have no clue that targeting foreigners and not even considering the idea that terror can be home-spun is not only hypocritical (and ironic – sarin gas, anyone?) but ultimately damaging to the good nature, honesty and humility of the vast majority of Japanese people in this country.

Isn’t there something I should download from your blog that would be ideal for explaining why I refuse to have my bag searched?

Best regards, rock on and keep banging that hammer, Debito.

Anonymous

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

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.  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 「出る杭は打たれる」.”

Articles follow.  Arudou Debito

UPDATENHK completely ignores issue of Akiko’s ethnicity as a source of her bullying in multiple reports.  See Comments Section below.

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Picture of classroom out of control emerges in wake of bullied 6th grader’s suicide
(Mainichi Japan) November 5, 2010, Courtesy lots of people

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20101105p2a00m0na005000c.html

MAEBASHI — Two weeks since the suicide of a sixth grader in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture, a picture of a classroom out of control has begun to take shape.

Akiko Uemura, 12, who was found hanged by a scarf in her room on Oct. 23, transferred from an elementary school in Aichi Prefecture when her family moved to Kiryu in October 2008. It was after her Filipino mother visited the school on parents’ visitation day in 2009 that Akiko’s classmates began commenting on her appearance.

After Akiko began sixth grade this past April, classmates started saying that she smelled bad and asked her if she bathed. Akiko appealed to her parents to let her transfer to another school, saying that she was willing to walk to school no matter how far. Her parents sought advice from the school on numerous occasions, and considered moving elsewhere once Akiko finished elementary school.

In late September, Akiko’s classmates began to sit as far away from her as possible at lunchtime despite their homeroom teacher’s admonitions to stay in designated groups. According to Akiko’s mother, Akiko asked a classmate to eat lunch with her in mid-October, only to be refused.

On Oct. 19 and 20, Akiko stayed home from school. Her homeroom teacher called her at home to encourage her to come to school on the next day, as the class was going on a field trip. On Oct. 21, however, some of Akiko’s classmates questioned her about why she only came to school when there was a special event and whether she was otherwise playing hooky, and Akiko came home in tears.

Akiko stayed home from school again on Oct. 22, and when her homeroom teacher visited her home that evening — when her parents happened to be at work — to report on the school’s decision to abolish lunchtime groupings, no one answered the door. On Oct. 23, Akiko woke up around 9 a.m. and had breakfast. When her mother looked into her room around noon, she was hanging from a curtain rail by a scarf that she had been knitting for her mother.

No suicide note has been found, but after her funeral on Oct. 26, manga entitled “Friends Are Great!” that Akiko appears to have drawn before her suicide was found. In a letter addressed to Akiko’s former classmate in Aichi that was found on Oct. 29, Akiko wrote: “I’m going to Osaka for junior high. So we might pass through Aichi. I’ll visit you if I can!”

Meanwhile, the faces of 15 classmates found in a photo taken during an overnight school trip when Akiko was in fifth grade were crossed out with what looked like ballpoint pen, and in response to a question from an autograph book asking what she wanted if she were granted one wish, she had written, “make school disappear.”

At Akiko’s elementary school, located among farms and new residential areas, the sixth grade students were divided into two homerooms. One classmate said, “There was a group of students who bullied Akiko. She looked really sad when they said things like ‘Get of the way’ and ‘Go away.’ No one tried to stop them.”

Another classmate said that other students had no choice but to go along with the bullying. “There were a few people who were at the center of the group, and the other students were too scared to defy them. The class was in chaos.”

ENDS

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Father of schoolgirl suicide victim says daughter was teased about mom’s nationality
(Mainichi Japan) October 27, 2010

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20101027p2a00m0na007000c.html

KIRYU, Gunma — A man who says his 12-year-old daughter’s suicide was triggered by bullying at school has told the Mainichi that his wife’s Filipino nationality may have been one of the reasons for the bullying.

Ryuji Uemura, 50, made the comment on the possible cause of the bullying of his daughter Akiko, who committed suicide in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture, in an interview with the Mainichi on Oct. 26.

“I think the fact that her mother was a Filipino was also one of the causes of the bullying,” he said.

Uemura said that when his daughter was in the fifth grade in 2009, her 41-year-old mother went to her school for a class observation day for the first time. At the time Akiko’s classmates teased her about her mother’s appearance, and after that she started to be bullied.

The 12-year-old’s memorial service was held at a funeral hall in Gunma Prefecture on Oct. 26, with about 90 people from her school and others in attendance. All 38 students in her class attended the funeral, complying with a request from the school.

“We’re very sad that she suddenly passed away. We hope she will rest in peace,” a boy representing the students said in a speech at the ceremony.

Speaking in a wavering voice, Uemura told participants, “Akiko got lonely and she always said she wanted to make lots of friends. I believe she is being watched over by her classmates today and is happy.”

ENDS

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Original Japanese stories

馬・小6自殺:願いは「学校消す」 学級崩壊、孤立深め
毎日新聞 2010年11月5日
http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20101105k0000m040124000c.html

群馬県桐生市の市立新里東小6年、上村明子さん(12)が自宅で首つり自殺をしてから間もなく2週間。「臭い、あっち行け」。一部の同級生からそんな言葉を投げつけられていた彼女は、6年の2学期になると給食も独りで食べるようになっていた。担任がほかの児童に決められた席で食べるよう指導しても状況は変わらなかったという。両親や学校関係者の説明を基に過程を振り返ると「学級崩壊」の中で孤立を深めていった彼女の姿が浮かぶ。【喜屋武真之介、塩田彩、鈴木敦子、角田直哉】

明子さんの家族は派遣社員の父竜二さん(50)と母(41)、小4の妹(10)。家族によると、父親の仕事の都合で転居を重ね、08年10月に愛知県から新里東小に転校した。4校目の小学校だった。

■         ■

09年4月 5年生に進級。父親によると、フィリピン出身の母が授業参観に訪れてから一部の同級生に容姿の悪口を言われるようになった。

今年4月 6年生に進級。「臭い」「風呂に入っているのか」などと言われるようになり、両親に「どんなに遠い学校でも歩いて行く」と転校を訴えるようになった。両親は学校側にたびたび相談し、中学進学を機に引っ越すことも考えていた。

9月18日 運動会。以後、明子さんのクラス(児童数39人)では授業中に児童がふざけたり、私語にふけるようになった。

同28日 担任(40代の女性教諭)は席の間隔を広げれば私語などがやむと考え、縦8列の席を6列に減らした。しかし児童たちは給食時、給食の班(5人程度)ではなく、席を移動して友達同士で食べるようになり、明子さんは孤立した。

10月14日 担任は校長らに相談の上、再び席替えを実施。給食の班替えも行った。

同18日 再び明子さんが給食で孤立するようになった。

母親によると、勇気を出してクラスメートに「一緒に食べよう」と頼んだことがあったが「また、今度ね」と断られたという。

同19日 明子さんが学校を欠席。

同20日 再び欠席。担任が「あすは社会科見学があるから、出てくれるかな」と電話をする。

同21日 社会科見学に出席した明子さんは一部の同級生から「なんでこういう時だけ来るの」「普段はずる休み?」などと言われ、泣きながら帰宅。

同22日 再び学校を欠席。学校側はこの日、給食の班を廃止。全員を黒板に向かって食べさせた。夜、担任が上村さん宅に報告に行ったが、共働きの両親は留守で、インターホンの呼び出しに返事はなかった。

同23日 明子さんは午前9時ごろ起床、朝食を食べた。正午ごろ、母が部屋をのぞくと、母のために編んでいたマフラーをカーテンレールにかけ、首をつっていた。

■         ■

明子さんの遺書は見つかっていない。しかし10月26日の告別式後、自殺直前に描かれたとみられる漫画が自宅で見つかった。タイトルは「やっぱり『友達』っていいな!」。同29日に見つかった愛知の元同級生にあてた手紙には「中学になったら大阪に行くんだ。だから愛知県を通るかもしれない。できたら会いに行くね!」とつづられていた。

一方、自室に残されていた5年の林間学校時の集合写真には、同級生15人の顔にボールペンの先のようなもので「×」印がつけられていた。「もしもひとつだけ願いがかなうなら?」との質問が書かれた市販のプロフィル帳には「学校を消す」と書かれていた。

明子さんの小学校は学区内に農村と新興住宅地が混在する。6年生は2クラスだけで、児童の一人は「上村さんをいじめるグループがあった。上村さんは『ちょっとどいて』『あっち行って』と言われ、悲しそうな顔をしていた。注意する人はいなかった」。別の児童はこうも言う。

「いじめの中心になる子が何人かいて、ほかの子は何をされるか分からないから逆らえない。クラスはバラバラで学級崩壊みたいな感じだった」

ENDS

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桐生・小6自殺:同級生が母の悪口 いじめのきっかけか
毎日新聞 2010年10月27日
http://mainichi.jp/life/edu/news/20101027k0000m040121000c.html

群馬県桐生市立新里東小6年、上村明子さん(12)が自殺し、父竜二さん(50)が「学校でのいじめが原因」と訴えている問題で、竜二さんは26日、毎日新聞の取材に「母親がフィリピン人であることもいじめの原因の一つだと思う」と述べた。

竜二さんによると、明子さんが5年生だった09年、母親(41)が初めて授業参観に訪れた。その際、明子さんは同級生から母親の容姿について悪口を言われた。その後、いじめられるようになった。

一方、明子さんの告別式が26日、同県みどり市の斎場で営まれ、学校関係者ら約90人が最後の別れを告げた。同じクラスの児童38人も学校の呼びかけに応じ、全員が参列した。

児童代表の男児が「突然亡くなってしまってとても悲しい。安らかに眠れるよう願っています」と弔辞を述べると、竜二さんは「明子は寂しがりやだったので、友達をたくさん作りたいといつも言っていた。今日は学校の同級生に見守られ、喜んでいると思う」と声を震わせながらあいさつした。【塩田彩、角田直哉】
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 1, 2010

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

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 1, 2010

Table of Contents:
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NOW THAT’S MORE LIKE IT…
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

CHOTTO MATTA…!
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) CNNGo.com 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…

BASTA!
16) Kyodo: Court overrules Oita Pref who tried to deny a 78-year-old NJ welfare benefits
BUT
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

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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, RSS and daily updates at www.debito.org
Freely Forwardable

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NOW THAT’S MORE LIKE IT…

1) Economist London on corrupt public prosecutors in Japan

Economist: 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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7693

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

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.

Indian Express: 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7676

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

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.)…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7651

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

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. Fancy that. 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?

Calgary Herald: A Calgary man who made racial slurs and spit in the face of a woman waiting to catch a bus has received a six-month jail sentence — twice the punishment the Crown was seeking…

Juzwiak said Richardson told the woman she was an immigrant and should go back to her own country. He spat on her, then threatened her and a man came to her rescue…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7697

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

I finished earlier this month 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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7619

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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?

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.

Tokyo bathhouses scrub up to lure visitors (Yomiuri Shinbun, Oct. 22, 2010)

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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7654

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7) Referential website of note: Asia Pacific Memo at UBC

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

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CHOTTO MATTA…!

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

Yoshikawa: 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”…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7661

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

Japan Times: 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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7571

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

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.

Mainichi: 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7647

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

NYT: 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.”

COMMENT: This passage resonated with me because…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7626

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

CJFF: 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…

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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7664

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7600

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

Friend Curzon alerted me to this odd little article 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, CNNGo.com, 6 July, 2010

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 — 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 effectively to get them out of a burning building?” to not having western-style beds…

Er, activist David Who…?

http://www.debito.org/?p=7629

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15) NHK 7AM October 17: Offer coupons at Narita Airport to NJ with “preferential exchange rates”. The catch is…

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?…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7635

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BASTA!

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

Kyodo: 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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7563

BUT

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

After a half-month interlude of light and reason (as in September 30 to October 18), 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:

Mainichi: 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…

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…”

COMMENT: 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7639

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

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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7668

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

Dovetailing with post above on NJ’s treatment at unemployment agency Hello Work, here’s more on how weak their 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:

JT: 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.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=7678

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

FGU: 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” (gyomu)…

http://www.debito.org/?p=6537

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… 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

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…

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All for now. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, RSS and daily updates at www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 1, 2010 ENDS

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

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Hi Blog. 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.”

I pointed to the passport and said that ARUDOU is how it has always been spelled. “And if you check your records, you will see we have had this discussion before, both in 2000 when you first issued me a passport, and in 2007 when my name was changed legally to ARUDOU DEBITO after my divorce.”

She flipped over the application to the back where I had filled out a new special section (once a separate sheet, now as of June 2009 part of the application form) for irregular and foreign spellings/renderings. “Here it is spelled as you want it. ARUDOU DEBITO. But on the obverse of this application you must spell it ARUDO. That’s Hepburn Style. For our records. That is how we officially convert Japanese script into Romaji.” She pointed to the list of complete official transliterations for every set of kana possible in Japanese.

Me:  “I don’t think you know just how flawed the Hepburn System can be, ma’am.  You still have old spellings like Honma rendered as HOMMA. That will not be read “hon-ma” by anyone who does not understand Japanese. I had a friend by the name of Monma who was constantly annoyed because Customs read her name MOMMA. I think you ought to consider allowing more flexibility in Romajinization. That would include me.”

She reiterated that these were the rules and would I not just cross out the U on my last name for the MOFA’s recordkeeping purposes?

“That’s fine,” I said, “but I don’t care about your records. My name is spelled ARUDOU.  Always has been.  I will determine my own identity, thank you very much.”

She called over someone more senior who handled me for the rest of the day, a very friendly but persistent old man who reiterated the drill about how names were supposed to be spelled.

I told him I wasn’t going to be told how to spell my own name. Especially when it’s in my own native language. “I’ve had bureaucrats try to correct me on the stroke order of how I write a number 5.  That’s pretty arrogant.  I know how to write a number 5. I learned it as a native in my schooldays. If you want to correct my stroke order of a 五 in kanji, then fine. But I will not allow bureaucratic cultural insensitivity and arrogance to dictate how I should use the Roman alphabet to alphabetize my own name.”

Mr. Senior said, “But you see, it will come out as you want on the passport thanks to the way you wrote it on the back. ARUDOU. Is there any possible damage that could be done just by deleting that U at the end having it entered in our records properly as ARUDO?”

“Yes. ARUDO is not me. ARUDOU is. I have had many years of dealing with alternate katakanizations of my original names ARUDOUINKURU DEBITTO — so much so that it was difficult to track my nenkin records down. No thanks. It is ARUDOU on my passport now, and I will always have it rendered as ARUDOU in any records of me as such.

“I don’t think you understand just how critical this is to my identity.   Unlike most people, I chose my name.  It is me.  My choice was after a lot of time spent living in Japan, qualifying to be a citizen, and going through a rigorous test to become Japanese.   A name is the most important possession a person can have. I will not bend on this. I didn’t in 2000 or 2007. I won’t now.”

Mr. Senior went back behind the counter and shortly thereafter came out with a frown. He said:

“If you don’t cross this U off your name, I regret to inform you that we will not be able to accept or process your application.”

I gave him the stare I gave the camera for my passport picture (which does not allow smiles).

Only without the Mona Lisa upturned corners of the mouth. And held it.  For quite some time.  And said, “You would deny me my right to travel overseas just because of a letter U? Who do you think you are?

“You accepted my spelling as ARUDOU twice before. Now you will again. Check your records. Back in 2000, I went into the back room with one of your supervisors and handwrote a moushitatesho, which said that if there were any problems arising from the extra U on my name, that I would take full responsibility. Go on. Check.

“If you can find any document where I wrote my name as ARUDO in the past, then I will oblige. Otherwise you will. Because you did before. Now check.”

He did.

About a half hour later (I played a lot of Bejewelled on my iPod), he came back and offered me a deep bow.

“We found your moushitatesho in our records.  It is as you say.  We will accept your application as is. And we apologize for the delay and hassle.”

“I understand.  But don’t you think it’s time for you to relax your rules now that there are more international and multicultural Japanese citizens with more individual name spellings?  Would it really break your computer to render us as we would like to be rendered, within reason?”

Mr. Senior:  “I will pass your case onto the relevant authorities for consideration.”

“Thanks very much.  But will I have to go through this every ten years?”

“Hopefully not.  But in a decade I’m not sure I’ll still be here.  I’m getting grey, as you can see.”

“I’m sure customers like me aren’t helping with the grey hairs.”

We shared a laugh and eventually parted on very good terms.  Me especially, because I like being listened to (and I like winning arguments, of course).  But I really feel as though he finally came round to understanding why I was being so goddamn stubborn.  It only took about two hours.

I still think it’s about time for the GOJ to loosen its top button a bit and allow for some flexibility in names.  We’ve finally gotten some degree of breathing space in what constitutes a “Japanese name” after naturalization.  We’ve even gotten some flexibility in how a name is rendered on a passport.  Now let’s hope that we can at least have some wriggle room regarding the almighty Hepburn System.  The Monmas of the world who don’t like to be made into mothers (not to mention the 大岡s, who have to live with OOKA (ooka ooka ooka shaka, hooked on a feeling!) or OHOKA (おまえ、アホか?)) I think would sincerely appreciate that.  What’s the point of forcing people to render their names into a system that people can’t read properly?  ArudoU Debito

ENDS

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

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.  I get letters like this on a daily basis (thanks everyone; can’t respond to all).  This one dovetails with something Debito.org 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 paltry 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 Debito.org 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.  Arudou Debito

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

November 2, 2010

Hello Debito, My name is WB and I have been following your site for 3 years by now. Let me start by saying that I was very doubtful and cynical of what you mentioned in regards to racism and discrimination in Japan as I’ve noticed none when I first went there for a short 2 week trip on Dec 2008 (Narita’s fingerprints aside). As a matter of fact, I still have some reservations towards the way you approach things, though my opinion of you changed dramatically after I went back to Japan for a 3 month stay last summer.

I went on a tourist visa to Osaka to practice and learn martial arts. My experience in that regards was fantastic and I’ve have the pleasure to meet amazing people during my trip. My experiences with police checkpoints, however, we nothing but scary. During my 3 month stay, I’ve been stopped 5 times, once by undercover detectives simply because I was gaijin. Once I was stopped on my bike, asked for my residency card (which naturally, I didn’t have because I am a tourist!) and escorted back to my home like a criminal, had my privacy intruded, handed my passport to the officers to see it being inspected to the very finest bit as if I gave them some letter full of anthrax or something. One of the officers was apologetic but the other one was rude and warned me harshly. I protested but that got things escalating so I backed down with a “hai, wakarimashita” and breathed a sigh of relief as they went away from my place.

The ensuing days had left me in fear. I quickly looked in the internet for some practical solutions and yours was what I found. I printed the Japanese laws tidbit you posted and had a copy of my passport in my pocket all the times. Carrying my passport all the time is out of the question! What if I lost it here or there? Terrible treatment awaits me if they decided to check on me when that happens! Thankfully, the next few checkpoints after this incident went smoothly, but I was always in a state of fear (for a “crime” that I didn’t commit).

The passport thing also extends to hotels it seems. I went to Shikoku for a 3 day trip and I’ve been asked for my passport in two hotels I stayed in. Failure to do so apparently means that they have to deny me service. I didn’t have my passport at that time, but I managed to convince them to accept my Canadian ID. If you think of it, they’re just following “the rules”, and since my Canadian ID had an name, address, and personal information on it; I was able to “get around” those rules.

Let me stress again that my experiences there were more positive than negative, and I am hopeful to return there once again. However, I can now understand what most NJ face in their daily life. I still have don’t like some of the aggressiveness in your opinions, but I am glad that you’re putting up the fight. Your site provided me with important information at a time of need….Thank you.

PS: I am unable to connect to your site here (Nova Scotia) for the past 2 months. I had to use an anonymous surf proxy to view it. What gives…??

Regards, WB
ENDS

Friend looking for tenant for his house in Yokohama

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. 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. Arudou Debito

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

http://sabbaticalhomes.com/OfferedDetails.aspx?id=46015&i=Home_Rent_House_Rental_Yokohama_Japan

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

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.  With the rerelease of an article I wrote last year (I am reading all my old articles in order for the Debito.org 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.

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

EIDO INOUE WRITES:

There has been a lot of concern these days about the inclusion use of NFC (near field communications) technology, which is a type of RFID (radio frequency identification), being included in the successor to the Japanese ARC (alien registration card), the 在留カード {zairyū kādo} (non-Japanese residence card). In this comment, I’ve summed up, per Debito’s request, some of the back and forth Q&A that has been occurring on other blogs:

Q: What sort of wireless technology is in these new cards? Is it reliable? Is it proven?
A: The card’s IC chip will use JIS X 6322 type B standards, which is basically the Japanese translation of ISO 14443 type B standards. This is the exact same international standard used for both Japanese and overseas e-passports, as well as Japanese driver’s licenses and the 住基カード {jūki kādo} (Japanese citizen residency card).

Q: What will be inside these chips?
A: The same information that’s printed outside the card:
* full passport/English legal name, date of birth, sex, nationality & domicile/state/locale
* resident address in Japan
* [visa] status, and status length / expiration date
* visa status grant date
* residency card number and expiration/renewal date
* work restrictions, if any
* any permitted activities outside of visa status
* color photograph

Special Permanent Residents, however, will only have the following on their cards:
* full passport/English legal name, date of birth, sex, nationality & domicile/state/locale
* resident address in Japan
* special permanent resident number and renewal date
* color photograph

Technically speaking, the 在留カード {zairyū kādo} (non-Japanese residence card) will be called and labeled as a 特別永住者証明書 {tokubetsu eijūsha shōmeisho} (Special Permanent Resident Identification [Card]) for people with this status.

[ the only thing that will not be on the chip but on the outside of the card will be the Ministry of Justice’s seal. Note that there’s much less information on this card than the ARC: no passport info, head of household, employer, etc. ]

Non-Japanese that have kanji names with their governments will have the kanji on the cards. In the case that the kanji is Chinese Simplified or Traditional and can’t be represented with using Japanese character sets, it will be converted to Japanese form.

[it was not clear from the literature I read what characters were permitted and what were not and what underlying character set encoding, such as JIS X 0208 or Unicode, would be used. It was also unclear to me from reading the literature as to whether non-Japansese without official government registered Kanji names, such as Japanese-Americans or those who just want a Kanji (or kana or hybrid) name, even if it’s 当て字 {ateji}]

Customs/airport officials plan to register / use the alphabet passport form and not the Kanji [even if it’s Japanese] form of the name as inputting / copying the kanji name takes too much time.

Unlike the previous ARC cards, there is no plan to list aliases (either katakana or kanji).

[It does not say how non-Japanese, who have Japanese aliases for anti-discrimination or other purposes, will prove what their registered legal alias is]

Years on the card will be specified in Western (ex. 2010) system, not Japanese (ex. H.22 or 平成22) system. Dates will be in Y M D order, and the fields will be labeled [so you know which is the month and which is the date]. Sex will be specified with a “M” or “F” [as opposed to 「男」, 「女」, 「♂」, or 「♀」].

[This should make the card more comprehensible to non-Japanese officials if you attempt to use it as ID overseas]

If a full name is too long for one line, it will be broken into multiple lines.

[better than the ARC and the Japanese driver’s license, which continued long (ie. Brazilian) names onto the back of the card]

Q: If the information inside the chips is the same as the information written on the outside of the card, what’s the point?
A: Three main points:

1. reduction of data entry errors (no hand copying the info from the card to some other system)
2. speed of processing (depends on the operator, processes, & hardware/software implementation)
3. [primary official reason] preventing the creation of completely bogus identifications using high tech printing, copying and manufacturing technology that is available to even amateurs today.

The info on the chip is digitally “signed” (a certificate validating that no information has been added, changed, or deleted) using PKCS (public-key cryptography standards). So long as the signing key is kept secure by the government, it’s mathematically impossible to recreate a government’s digital signature/certificate associated with a bogus identity. Now, you can clone (that is, copy the certificate along with the entire ID, including the photograph, without adding or removing anything) a digital ID. But that’s not the purpose of the certificate. The signature prevents somebody from creating a bogus ID from scratch. These days, thanks (?) to advances in technology accessibility, most professional and even some amateur forgers can create a phony identity card (“Taro McLovin”), mimicking holograms, blacklight ink, microprint, etc., that is so good it can fool a professional trained inspector.

But even the most powerful governments in the word have yet to break the modern strength digital signature/certificate algorithms — because the best mathematicians, working for the best spook agencies (NIST, NSA) in the world, created the system based on principles of impossible to solve quickly mathematics (ie. using ultra large prime numbers), then publicized all their work to have it checked by the other best mathematicians in the world. Based on what mathematicians have known for literally thousands of years, and taking into account the current state of Moore’s Law, the crypto should theoretically be safe from brute force attack for literally eternity. Where things fail is due to errors in implementing the algorithms, or theft/discovery of the secret keys, not in the algorithms themselves.

Anyway, for IDs with digital signature certificates, the forger is going to have no choice but to clone, in its entirety, somebody’s existing digital ID when they make a fake ID. Which means they’re going to have to look an awful lot like the person whose identity they stole because the picture data is calculated with the certificate’s hash. Plus they’re going to have to hope that the identity theft victim didn’t report the ID as stolen / lost or that the victim unknowingly had their ID scanned in a place that would be logically impossible for a followup scan of the cloned card. For example, a digital ID gets scanned in Hokkaidō, then the exact same digital ID with the same serial number gets scanned by another police officer in Fukuoka 5 minutes later; a computer will pick up on that.

Now, if there’s a fingerprint encoded in the chip (which is not the case for Japanese passports or the 在留カード {zairyū kādo} but is true for new European passports) and digitally signed, then even if the fraudster looks like the victim in the digitally signed photograph, they’re out of luck. They can’t remove or change the fingerprint without invalidating the certificate.

Q: Can a civilian or official read my card from a distance?
A: Extremely doubtful. The way the cards work is that while they have no power source of there own; they are powered by a minute amount of power they induce from their radio frequency for no more than a fraction of a second, and this power gives them the strength to produce a very faint signal that can only be practically read reliably by another device that’s less than four or 5cm away. The chips contain power regulators, so even if you send an extra strong signal to the chip in an effort to give the chip more power to work with, it does not produce a stronger return signal.

This is why you can see a lineup of Suica/Pasmo/Icoca/PiTaPa electronic wicket gates in a train station: the radio waves produced by those gates, which are no more than a meter apart, are so faint that each gate can’t hear and interfere with the radio waves being produced by the gates right next to it.

The maximum field range of a ISO 14443 device is less than 10cm. The maximum range that professionals have managed to get out of a ISO 14443 device in a laboratory (meaning neither the card or the reader can move for a long time, the room’s air is shielded from radio noise, and the lab’s using a very nonstandard reader) is 20cm: the length from the tip of your little finger to the tip of your thumb on an average outstretched hand.

Because the return signal from the chip inside the card is constant no matter how how power you throw at it, the only way you’re going to increase the range is by using a larger antenna. But even then there are limits, as the signal is so weak that it’s literally drowned out by the radio noise that permeates the real world.

Some professionals have speculated that, given a large enough (a very non-portable antenna; it would need to be mounted and not hand held), it is possible to increase the maximum range of ISO 14443, in a laboratory (not real world) setting, to 50cm: the length from your wrist to your elbow.

Anything longer than 20cm is suspect; anything longer than 50cm is science fiction, in my opinion.

Q: Could a crowd of people (assuming they’re in range of a reader), or even a whole bag of cards, be scanned en mass?
A: Even if it was possible to read ISO 14443 cards from a distance, ISO 14443 is designed to only work with one card at a time. It is not possible to have one reader read multiple cards, have many readers read one card, or have many readers read many cards.

It’s a matter of laws of physics (two signals being in the exact same frequency) and the way the devices were designed. Mobile phones, Bluetooth, and WiFi have very sophisticated and complicated protocols to allow them to share and operate and be individually addressed in a range of airspace, jumping and across (sometimes thousands) of frequencies and channels, sometimes using more than one simultaneously, in an elaborate cooperative ballet to prevent two devices from using the exact same airspace at the same time.

ISO 14443, on the other hand, not only doesn’t have these protocols, but in fact was specifically designed to not share airspace with anything else. There are specific fail-safe parts of the protocol that are designed to make the card/reader shut down, back out, and shut up if it detects something else using its airspace for safety/reliability reasons. It also has safety procedures to handle cases where it doesn’t have enough power or a good enough signal to complete a transaction: Everyone knows it’s futile to try to yank away your payment card or try to swipe your card for only a split second in an effort to fool the vending machine into making a transaction without having your balance debited.

If you’ve ever had two Suica Cards and/or a Japanese driver’s license in the same wallet, you know that the readers will refuse to work or will only work with one card. Again, this is not just a limitation of the technology, it is by design.

Q: But what if somehow somebody comes up with way that allows for eavesdropping of a card talking to a reader (from afar or near)? Am I safe?
A: Some people on the Internet have claimed even farther ranges than what we mentioned above: such as detecting the presence of a signal at 20 meters and actually discerning the digital bits at 10 meters. None of these claims have been independently confirmed or verified, and even if we give them the benefit of the doubt and believe for the sake of argument that it’s possible, nobody has shown they can break the cryptography gleaned from real devices in the field in real world situations.

To an eavesdropper, most ISO 14443 cards “sound alike.” This means they all — be it your e-passport or your U.S. Passport Card or your Japanese driver’s license or your FeLiCa based Suica/Pasmo/Icoca/PiTaPa or your PayPass credit card or your Japanese Taspo tobacco age-verification card — talk on the same frequency (13.56 Mhz). Furthermore, the transaction that occurs between the reader and the card is encrypted, so even if a bad person had such a clear signal that they were able to discern the individual digital bits going back-and-forth between the reader and card, it would be useless for determining the payload or even the type of card being used in most cases.

Thus, just because the card, either in your hand or concealed in a wallet, of you or the person next to you is or isn’t “ squawking” and you are or are not doesn’t mean somebody can figure out that “that person is a foreigner and that person is not” due to the presence or absence of a 13.56 Mhz encrypted squawk. That squawk could be anything, from a Japanese passport to a London train commuter Oyster Card.

NOTE: Some security journals have speculated that it may be possible to perform literally a “man-in-the-middle” attack in some cases. This means putting something physically between (the 10cm) space of air between the card and the reader that is big enough to ensure that the reader and card can’t hear each other; the bad spy device acts as a “relay” between the legit card and reader. So when you swipe, you should be absolutely sure you’re swiping the real legit reader and not something placed directly on top of it.

Q: Even if they can’t read the contents of my card, can a civilian or official detect that I’m in possession (or that I’m not in possession) of a 在留カード {zairyū kādo} (non-Japanese residence card) without my knowledge?
A: No. The reason for this in answered both in the previous question and the following question. You could easily fool an eavesdropper into thinking you swiped any arbitrary ISO 14443 Type B card that uses encryption by simply using another, completely different and unrelated ISO 14443 Type B card. You could purchase and carry your own battery powered USB portable [dummy] reader in a purse or bag, for example.

Q: Can a civilian or official read my card without my knowledge if they’re very near or next to me?
A: Japanese [and U.S. and E.U., but not all countries] e-passports, and yes, the new 在留カード {zairyū kādo} (non-Japanese residence card) have BAC (basic access control).

This means you have to know some piece of information that’s either on the card or in your head to read it.

Even if somebody manages to covertly (say, on a crowded train or bus) get a portable skimmer close enough [less than 10cm] to your back pocket, purse, bag, or briefcase to pick up your card, they still need to know some things that are on the card in order to read it.

NOTE: Not all NFC cards and RFID use this extra access control and/or encryption. So you don’t want to carry all your cards unprotected / unshielded in your back pocket. It is possible to obtain special, practical shielded slips for ISO 14443 based technology (tin foil hats sold separately). Some ISO 14443 technology (such as many, including Japanese, passports) already include a shielding envelope or technology integrated into the device. However, the presence of the shielding does not mean that the shielding is the last or only or even best line of defense against skimming; it is merely one component in a suite of many security components for the passport & residency card, already built-in by design, that would have to be compromised. To stay on topic, the NFC cards which are the discussion of the Q&A, such as Japanese passport, driver’s license, and yes, the 在留カード {zairyū kādo} (non-Japanese residence card), do implement and enforce BAC in addition to encrypting their point-to-point sessions with the readers.

Q: Can private enterprises read the IC chip?
A: Yes. The MoJ [Ministry of Justice] plans to publish the specifications for reading information from the card. However, they can’t override BAC (see above) which means a private enterprise would not be able to read your card without your knowledge.

[ This is interesting. The literature I have specifically mentions that society, especially financial institutions and mobile phone companies, needs a reliable domestic photo id for non-Japanese residents. ]

Q: What if the chip isn’t working? What if the private enterprise doesn’t have a reader? Is there an alternative electronic way to verify the card without the chip? Will I be hauled off to the police box if my chip isn’t working?
A: The MoJ [Ministry of Justice] is also going to make a website available for checking cards (which presumably could be accessed by even mobile phone browsers). The website will accept the card’s number and one other piece of information from the card to prevent people from randomly guessing 在留カード {zairyū kādo} (non-Japanese residence card) numbers. The literature suggests that this extra information be the card renewal/expiration date.

Upon submitting the number, the website will simply return 有効 {yūkō} (valid) or 失効 {shikkō} (invalid). To protect private information, no other information (such as name, date of birth, nationality, visa status, etc.) will be returned.

ENDS

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

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO (donning his tinfoil hat):

One conflict I always notice from my side of the spectrum is the inherent mistrust of scientists — when they claim a new technology, open to all manner of theoretical abuses, is “safe”.  This is the same camp that tends to blame the scientists on the Manhattan Project for opening Pandora’s Box with The Bomb.

Continuing in that vein in an attempt to contrapose aarguments to Eido’s research above, a whole bunch of “what ifs” and “whys” that are not all that unreasonable quickly come to mind:

1) WHAT IF the sacred encryption keys get cracked or leaked somehowCan happen quite easily, if not in part due to government error, see here.  And hackers are forever getting increasingly sophisticated.  It’s hard to imagine the “eternity” scenario in a place when it’s techie vs. techie, and one is but a few steps ahead of the other.  The risk is too great — once the door is open, identity theft becomes possible.

2) WHAT IF the realm of “science fiction” becomes “science fact”? We once thought manned flight (with or without gravity), or portable computers, or even gigabytes of data stored in tiny places were impossible, but technology, again, has a habit of catching up and deleting the “im” prefix.  Encryption notwithstanding, decrypting computers are getting faster and smarter all the time.

3) WHY are foreigners only required to be IDed by private businesses (last two Qs above)?  Actually, I can answer that one.  Because the NPA feels the irrepressible need to track people that could commit crime.  And because they can’t do that to Japanese citizens due to the outrage — witness the flop of the Juuki Netto system.  People just don’t want to be forced to carry ID in this society, much less tracked by it.  It’s just happening to foreigners because they can’t stop it.  And it increases the Japanese police’s power by deputizing the private sector.  This is just common sense — give the police anywhere in the world extra power, and they will feel fully justified in using it to accomplish their goals until they’re told they’ve gone too far (and in Japan, they insufficiently are).

4) WHY is that same private sector now advertising preventative measures against RFID technology? Check this out — a scan-proof pouch for your valuables now on sale in travel shops in Japan (seen because I went and renewed my passport on Tuesday):

Unless this is Snake Oil (and Eido himself points out that non-contact scanning is possible), how do we deal with this?  By saying that the distance is too small or the definition of the signal is too vague to matter?  Again, I will raise the technology argument to say that once the leap is possible, it’s only a matter of degree.  This may be tinfoil-hat-ism, but to me it’s like saying, “Don’t worry about The Bomb; if there is fallout from an unlikely attack, there are anti-radiation pills you can take.”  Sorry, I don’t believe in having to put the Genie back in the Bottle.  Especially since the reasons for this measure are less a technological inevitability than a political necessity (i.e., tightened policing of the only people you can police this way, since society in general wouldn’t dare accept it).  If this is scary enough to the general public for it to be used as a preventative marketing ploy, then the foreigners should also count as members of the general public who are entitled to be scared.  Just fobbing it off on a “it probably won’t happen” “eternity scenario” ignores the political realities behind these moves.

Alright, I’ll stop there.  Let’s have a discussion.  Arudou Debito

ENDS

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

mytest

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justbecauseicon.jpg

‘Homogeneous,’ ‘unique’ myths stunt discourse
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010
By DEBITO ARUDOU

Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20101102ad.html

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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_immigrant_population

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.

Search academic databases for publications in Japan Studies. Quite a few of them (some with Japanese authors espousing their own uniqueness) toe the line of “Japan behaves this way because it is homogeneous, etc.” Scholar Harumi Befu has written books on how this has crystallized into a pseudoscience called Nihonjinron, affecting debate worldwide.

http://tinyurl.com/2c93xbx

There is a political dimension to all this: the politics of maintaining the status quo.

The Japanese government funds chairs and departments (especially in Japan) to influence the direction of Japan Studies, and is nowadays attracting students to focus on “soft power,” “cool Japan” cultural exotica.

http://www.studyjapan.go.jp/en/

http://www.studyinjapan.org.my/

http://www.jasso.go.jp/study_j/scholarships_e.html

http://www.meti.go.jp/english/policy/mono_info_service/creative_industries/creative_industries.html

The point is, ruling elites in Japan are perfectly happy with Japan being portrayed as preternaturally intransigent — due to historical, cultural, geographical or whatever reasons — because they like Japan as it is.

However, for the rest of the people living in Japan, this status quo is sending us down a road of obsolescence.

It is clear that Japan is in a deflationary spiral with a crushing national debt and an aging workforce. Paradigm shifts are necessary, and ideas should also be welcome from knowledgeable people overseas. But some advice, bound or blinded by the cult of uniqueness, becomes muted, veers off-target or is never even offered in the first place.

This doesn’t happen everywhere. Boffins have little reservation in telling, for example, Russia what to do about its economy. Why not Japan? Because of ingrained fears about being insensitive or culturally imperialistic towards this modern-day Galapagos.

It hardly bears saying, but societies of living beings are not preserved in amber. There are constant economic, political and demographic pressures requiring changes in thought and direction. In Japan’s case, the aging society will probably lead to increased immigration and a niche-market economy, where certain things are done well, but no longer on the scale of a world power. People both inside and outside Japan will have to come to terms with that.

Yet some data sets relevant to this transition are not open to scholarship. I mentioned here last year (JBC, Nov. 3, 2009) how Japan’s demographic scientists are not including a fundamental numerator in their equations (i.e., inflows) by refusing to even discuss immigration. I also argued last month (JBC, Oct. 5) that Japan’s census, which only surveys for nationality, not ethnicity, is ignoring the possibility that there might be multiethnic Japanese here already. This is despite all the racial intermarriage, multiethnic Japanese children, naturalized citizens, and the fact there are more permanent-resident foreigners here than ever before.

Scholars should be demanding more official data on this. Instead, we are getting the Dr. Frinks of the world spouting spurious claims based on the false premise that the absence of information indicates homogeneity.

Let’s have more sophistication in the discourse. Japanology now offers the world an excellent opportunity to study how a modern, developed and educated society learns to cope with a fluctuating place in the world. Nihonjinron should be seen and dismissed for what it is: a static ideology, existing for a nostalgic public looking for a comfortable self-identity, a ruling elite unwilling to face a fundamentally different future, or an overseas audience craving exotica over science.

This means we should have a moratorium on superlatives, such as linking the “U-word” with Japan. All societies have their singular aspects, to be sure, but we should never lose sight of the fact that we’re all one big human family with more communalities than differences. To belabor the obvious, no society is “uniquely unique.”

Fixating on Japan’s illusory “uniqueness and homogeneity” takes energies away from studying the very real problems that Japan, like any other country, will be facing this century. Let’s demand better scholarship and help Japan cope with — if not get out of — this mess.

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
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG PODCAST NOVEMBER 1, 2010

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DEBITO.ORG PODCAST

debitopodcast

In this podcast:

  1. 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)
  2. 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!

[display_podcast]

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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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 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.  Arudou Debito

UPDATE:  Here it is:

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20101102ad.html