DEBITO.ORG PODCAST MARCH 1, 2011

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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debitopodcast

Hi Blog. As a quick break to the blog break, here is my latest DEBITO.ORG PODCAST. It is a speech in Japanese I made to the 48th Annual Hokkaido High School Research Convocation on Friday, January 7, 2011.

The speech is in Japanese. Two hours. No cuts. Includes the Q&A.  Follow along with the accompanying powerpoint presentation I’m reading from at http://www.debito.org/koukoutaikai010711.ppt

Fri January 7, 2011: 講演「情報化社会と人権問題について」。第48回 北海道高等学校教育研究大会 主催。研究主題:「未来を担う人を育む北海道高等学校の創造」。有道 出人 講演者

2時間でカットなし(質疑応答込み)。使用したパワーポイントはこちらからダウンロードできます。http://www.debito.org/koukoutaikai010711.ppt

UPDATE on my new novel: It’s done.

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
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Hi Blog.  This is just an update to tell you that after two weeks of intensive writing and revising, I have successfully written my first novel.

What’s it about?  Well, right now, about 141 pages.

Sorry, old joke zone.

No, actually it’s about child abductions in Japan.

I’ve already sent out a preliminary draft to several readers to for some feedback.  Once that’s back in, I think I should have the book on sale sometime in March.

More information as it comes available!  Thanks you for reading Debito.org!  Arudou Debito

Debito.org Blog will be on vacation until April. Writing my next book.

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.  This is just to tell you that I will be vacationing Debito.org until April 2011, so that I can concentrate on writing my next book.

Sorry about this, but the Blog takes about an hour or more out of my day every day and as such is a major time bandit.  Same with reading and approving every comment.  So let me just say ja shitakke ne for a little while.

I will of course still put up podcasts and my Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE columns the day after they come out.  But comments and the like will take a while to approved, as will answers to emails to me directly.

Please be patient.  As always, thanks for reading and commenting to Debito.org.  See you again in April.  Arudou Debito

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 4, 2011

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 Debito.org Newsletter Readers. This Newsletter will tidy up some loose ends, I will be vacationing Debito.org (and the Newsletter) until April 2011, so that I can concentrate on writing my next book.

Sorry about this, but the Blog takes about an hour or more out of my day every day and as such is a major time bandit. Same with reading and approving every comment. So let me just say ja shitakke ne for a little while.

I will of course still put up podcasts and my Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE columns the day after they come out. But comments and the like will take a while to approved, as will answers to emails to me directly.

As always, thanks for reading and commenting to Debito.org. See you again in April.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 4, 2011

Table of Contents:
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1) JT’s Philip Brasor on BBC QI show and atomic-bombings and “victim ownership of historical narrative”
2) Kyodo: MOFA Survey shows divided views on GOJ signing of child custody pact
3) Japan Times on what needs to be deregulated for Japan’s future as an Asian business hub
4) NYT: Japan society puts up generational roadblocks, wastes potential of young
5) Weekend Tangent: Economist.com compares GDPs of US states with whole countries
6) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST FEBRUARY 1, 2011
7) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Feb 1, 2011: “Naturalized Japanese: foreigners no more”
8 ) Japan Times JBC/ZG Column Jan 4, 2010: “Arudou’s Alien Almanac 2000-2010”

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By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
Freely Forwardable

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1) JT’s Philip Brasor on BBC QI show and atomic-bombings and “victim ownership of historical narrative”

Here’s an excellent column on the recent “humor” segment on the BBC show QI, derided by officials and family as “insensitive” because it was connected to the Japan atomic bombings. The author then links it to the issue of DPRK abductions of Japanese, where deviation from the official line of “they’re still alive over there” is taboo, and comes up with an interesting conclusion: He who owns the “narrative” on this history (particularly as a victim) gets to dictate how it is represented in the media. Very insightful indeed. I can see how this analytical paradigm can be applied to the realm of human rights and racial discrimination in Japan — how NJ are often not allowed to “own” their own narratives in Japan. Worth a think about.

JT: Yamaguchi’s daughter told Kyodo News that her own family had joked about her father’s experience, but that doesn’t mean British people can do the same. The reason they can’t, she said, is that Great Britain is a “country that has nuclear weapons.” But it’s not within the purview of “QI” to make such distinctions. Britain may possess nukes, but the guests on the show certainly don’t; and for all we know they may be opposed to their country’s policy of deterrence. No, the real reason they don’t have a right to joke about Hiroshima, at least from the Japanese critics’ point of view, is that they aren’t atomic bomb victims themselves.

The same line of reasoning informs the suit that the parents of Keiko Arimoto, one of the Japanese people abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and ’80s, brought against veteran journalist Soichiro Tahara in July 2009. Earlier that year, Tahara speculated on a TV Asahi talk show that Arimoto and another abductee, Megumi Yokota, were dead and that the Foreign Ministry knew they were dead. Akihiro and Kayoko Arimoto believe that their daughter is still alive, and Tahara’s remarks caused them great “mental suffering,” so they sued him for damages.

On the program in question, Tahara was discussing Japan’s policy toward North Korea and questioned the wisdom of predicating any engagement with NK on the communist state’s first returning all remaining abductees to Japan. “But North Korea says they’re dead,” Tahara said, “and even the Foreign Ministry knows they’re not alive.” Unofficially, Tahara’s remark is taboo: One cannot publicly put forth the opinion that the abductees may be dead, because their families have stated that they believe they aren’t. In Japan, the families own the abductee narrative because they are victims, and owning the narrative means you get to control how it’s told…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8515

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2) Kyodo: MOFA Survey shows divided views on GOJ signing of child custody pact

Here’s some news on a MOFA survey that was skewed (by dint, for one thing, of it only being rendered in Japanese only, effectively shutting out many opinions of the NJ side of the marriage) linguistically to get results that were negative towards the signing of the Hague Convention on Child Abductions. Even then, MOFA got mixed results (as in, more people want the GOJ to sign the Hague than don’t, but it’s a pretty clean three-way split). Nice try, MOFA. Read the survey for yourself below and see what I mean.

In any case, the bureaucrats, according to Jiji Press of Feb 1 (see bottom of this blog post), seem to be gearing up to join the Hague only if there is a domestic law in place for Japan to NOT return the kids. I smell a loophole in the making.

NHK’s “Close Up Gendai” gave 28 minutes to the issue on February 2, 2011 (watch it here), in which they gave less airtime than anticipated to portraying Japanese as victims escaping to Japan from NJ DV, and more instead to the Japanese who want Japan to sign the Hague so they can get their kids back from overseas. Only one segment (shorter than all the others) gave any airtime to the NJ side of the marriage — but them getting any airtime at all is surprising; as we saw in yesterday’s blog entry, NJ don’t “own the narrative” of child abductions in Japan…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8524

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3) Japan Times on what needs to be deregulated for Japan’s future as an Asian business hub

Japan Times Community Page: What do those companies need from you in addition to a secure environment in which to develop intellectual property? They need locations in Japan that are convenient to airports that provide access to a broad swath of Chinese cities. They’d also like those locations to be relatively near to urban centers that offer employees attractive housing, dining and entertainment options.

They need those tax breaks you’ve offered, but they need greater assurance from your government that the deals they cut in establishing operations here will last longer than, well, your party’s likely tenure in power. The cost of setting up a regional research and development center makes the tax holiday you’re offering a very minor inducement, especially as your offer has an imminent expiration date.

They need immigration policies that will let them decide what employees are required to staff their facility, and if you run into your counterparts at the ministries of education and justice, you might let them know that English- and other foreign language-speakers may be required, which may disqualify many of the Japanese citizens you’d like to see get jobs. And of course, they’ll need a streamlined visa procedure for any foreign workers, even if those workers are brown-skinned Asians.

They need you to create a business environment that is quickly and easily navigable by foreigners, i.e. in English, and that is, above all, flexible. Businesses need to be able to do whatever they need to do to operate, survive and thrive, without stumbling over bureaucratic obstacles all the time.

What they don’t need, Minister, is a Japan “that can say ‘no.’ ” Business investors need to hear “yes” and “no problem” and “we can get that done for you yesterday.”

You can do it, I’m sure, and your efforts will pay large economic dividends for decades to come.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8485

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4) NYT: Japan society puts up generational roadblocks, wastes potential of young

Continuing with the theme of what reforms Japanese society needs to face the next century, here’s Martin Fackler from the NYT making the case about the structural barriers that waste the potential of youth in Japan. Bit of a tangent, but not really. Fresh ideas and entrepreneurial energy (regardless of nationality) should be welcomed as revitalizing, but as Fackler writes, the sclerotic is turning necrotic and people are seeking opportunities elsewhere.

NYT: An aging population is clogging the nation’s economy with the vested interests of older generations, young people and social experts warn, making an already hierarchical society even more rigid and conservative. The result is that Japan is holding back and marginalizing its youth at a time when it actually needs them to help create the new products, companies and industries that a mature economy requires to grow.

A nation that produced Sony, Toyota and Honda has failed in recent decades to nurture young entrepreneurs, and the game-changing companies that they can create, like Google or Apple — each started by entrepreneurs in their 20s.

Employment figures underscore the second-class status of many younger Japanese. While Japan’s decades of stagnation have increased the number of irregular jobs across all age groups, the young have been hit the hardest.

Last year, 45 percent of those ages 15 to 24 in the work force held irregular jobs, up from 17.2 percent in 1988 and as much as twice the rate among workers in older age groups, who cling tenaciously to the old ways. Japan’s news media are now filled with grim accounts of how university seniors face a second “ice age” in the job market, with just 56.7 percent receiving job offers before graduation as of October 2010 — an all-time low.

“Japan has the worst generational inequality in the world,” said Manabu Shimasawa, a professor of social policy at Akita University who has written extensively on such inequalities. “Japan has lost its vitality because the older generations don’t step aside, allowing the young generations a chance to take new challenges and grow.”…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8480

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5) Weekend Tangent: Economist.com compares GDPs of US states with whole countries

As a Weekend Tangent, here is The Economist with a fascinating chart comparing GDPs of US states with whole countries. Click on the Population button to do the same for country populations as well. Just thought I’d throw this up, as it is an interesting concept. Note that Japan (and China) are too big to included. Let’s hope Japan stays that way.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8442

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6) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST FEBRUARY 1, 2011

In this podcast, I read aloud:

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 18, “Unlike Humans, Swine Flu is Indiscriminate”, on the the lessons to be learned from Japan’s public panic due to the Swine Flu Pandemic, and how to avoid discrimination arising from it (August 4, 2009).

Japan Times ZEIT GIST Community Page Article 51/JUST BE CAUSE Column 19, ” McDonald’s Japan’s “Mr James” campaign: Why these stereotyping advertisements should be discontinued”. (September 1, 2009)

Plus interim excerpts from Tangerine Dream “White Eagle” and an excerpt of another song from Duran Duran’s most recent album, “All You Need is Now”. Title: “Being Followed”.

22 minutes. Enjoy!

http://www.debito.org/?p=8495

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7) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Feb 1, 2011: “Naturalized Japanese: foreigners no more” (full text)

JUST BE CAUSE
Naturalized Japanese: foreigners no more
Long-termers hit back after trailblazing Diet member Tsurunen utters the F-word

[NB: Not my title; too confrontational. I was trying to be respectful in tone in this article to my dai-senpai.]
By DEBITO ARUDOU
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110201ad.html
Debito.org discussion at http://www.debito.org/?p=8509

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8 ) Japan Times JBC/ZG Column Jan 4, 2010: “Arudou’s Alien Almanac 2000-2010”

THE TOP TENS FOR 2010 AND THE DECADE
ZEIT GIST 54 / JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 35 FOR THE JAPAN TIMES
The Japan Times, Tuesday, January 4, 2011

DRAFT NINE, VERSION AS SUBMITTED TO EDITOR (Director’s Cut, including text cut out of published article)
WORD COUNT FOR DECADE COLUMN #5-#2: 988 WORDS
WORD COUNT FOR 2010 COLUMN #5-#2: 820 WORDS
Version with links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=8324

Download Top Ten for 2010 at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110104ad.html
Download Top Ten for 2000-2010 at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110104a1.html
Download entire newsprint page as PDF with excellent Chris Mackenzie illustrations (recommended) at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/images/community/0104p13.PDF

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Again, thanks for reading and commenting to Debito.org. See you again in April.

Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 4, 2011 ENDS

Kyodo: MOFA Survey shows divided views on GOJ signing of child custody pact, despite best efforts to skew

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
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Hi Blog. Here’s some news on a MOFA survey that was skewed (by dint, for one thing, of it being rendered in Japanese only, effectively shutting out many opinions of the NJ side of the marriage) linguistically to get results that were negative towards the signing of the Hague Convention on Child Abductions. Even then, MOFA got mixed results (as in, more people want the GOJ to sign the Hague than don’t, but it’s a pretty clean three-way split). Nice try, MOFA. Read the survey for yourself below and see what I mean.

In any case, the bureaucrats, according to Jiji Press of Feb 1 (see bottom of this blog post), seem to be gearing up to join the Hague only if there is a domestic law in place for Japan to NOT return the kids.  I smell a loophole in the making.

NHK’s “Close Up Gendai” gave 28 minutes to the issue on February 2, 2011 (watch it here), in which they gave less airtime than anticipated to portraying Japanese as victims escaping to Japan from NJ DV, and more instead to the Japanese who want Japan to sign the Hague so they can get their kids back from overseas. Only one segment (shorter than all the others) gave any airtime to the NJ side of the marriage — but them getting any airtime at all is surprising; as we saw in yesterday’s blog entry, NJ don’t “own the narrative” of child abductions in Japan. Arudou Debito

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Survey shows divided views on Japan’s signing of child custody pact
Kyodo News/Japan Today,  Thursday 3rd February 2011, courtesy AW

http://japantoday.com/category/national/view/survey-shows-divided-views-on-japans-signing-of-child-custody-pact

TOKYO — An online survey by the Foreign Ministry showed Wednesday that people who have directly been involved in the so-called parental ‘‘abductions’’ of children as a result of failed marriages were divided on Japan’s accession to an international treaty to deal with child custody disputes.

Of 64 respondents to the questionnaire posted on the website of the Foreign Ministry and its 121 diplomatic missions abroad between May and November last year, 22 were in favor of Japan joining the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, while 17 were against the idea.

The remaining 25 respondents did not make their stance clear, said Parliamentary Vice Foreign Minister Ikuo Yamahana at a press conference.

The convention provides a procedure for the prompt return of children to their habitual country of residence when they are wrongfully removed or retained in the case of an international divorce. It also protects parental access rights.

Those seeking Japan’s accession to the convention said Tokyo should no longer allow unilateral parental child abductions as the country is perceived overseas as an ‘‘abnormal’’ nation for defending such acts.

People opposed to Japan’s signing of the treaty said the convention ‘‘doesn’t fit with’’ Japanese culture, values and customs and urged the government to protect Japanese nationals fleeing from difficult circumstances such as abusive spouses and problems in foreign countries.

Some pointed to the disadvantages faced by Japanese parents seeking a local court settlement on child custody abroad, such as expensive legal fees and the language barrier.

Yamahana said the government led by the Democratic Party of Japan will further examine the possibility of joining the convention based on the results of the online survey. ‘‘We will discuss what we can do to ensure the welfare of children,’’ he said.

International pressure on Tokyo to act on the parental abduction issue has been growing, with legislative bodies in the United States and France recently adopting resolutions that call for Japan’s accession to the treaty.

At present, 84 countries and regions are parties to the Hague Convention. Of the Group of Seven major economies, only Japan has yet to ratify the pact.

Of the 64 respondents, 18 said they have abducted children and 19 said their children have been taken by their former spouses. A total of 27 said they have been slapped with restrictions on traveling with their children because Japan is not a party to the Hague Convention.

By country, 26 respondents were linked to parental abduction cases in the United States, followed by nine in Australia and seven in Canada.
ENDS

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Reprising a Debito.org Blog entry from May 27, 2010, when this survey first hit the news:

Debito:  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has just started asking for opinions from the public regarding Japan’s ascension to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (which provides guidelines for dealing with cases of children being taken across borders without the consent of both parents, as well as establishing custody and visitation; all past Debito.org articles on the issue here.).

Sounds good until you consider the contexts.  We’ve already had a lot of Japanese media portraying the Japanese side of an international marriage as victims, fleeing an abusive NJ.  Even the odd crackpot lawyer gets airtime saying that signing the Hague will only empower the wrong side of the divorce (i.e. the allegedly violent and-by-the-way foreign side), justifying Japan keeping its status as a safe haven.  Even the Kyodo article below shies away from calling this activity “abduction” by adding “so-called” inverted quotes (good thing the Convention says it plainly).

But now we have the MOFA officially asking for public opinions from the goldfish bowl.  Despite the issue being one of international marriage and abduction, the survey is in Japanese only.  Fine for those NJ who can read and comment in the language.  But it still gives an undeniable advantage to the GOJ basically hearing only the “Japanese side” of the divorce.  Let’s at least have it in English as well, shall we?

Kyodo article below, along with the text of the survey in Japanese and unofficial English translation.  Is it just me, or do the questions feel just a tad leading, asking you to give reasons why Japan shouldn’t sign?  In any case, I find it hard to imagine an aggrieved J parent holding all the aces (not to mention the kids) saying, “Sure, sign the Hague, eliminate our safe haven and take away my power of custody and revenge.”  That’s why we need both sides of the story, with I don’t believe this survey is earnestly trying to get.  Arudou Debito

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Japan conducts online survey on parental child abductions
Kyodo News/Japan Today Wednesday 26th May, 06:29 AM JST

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-conducts-online-survey-on-parental-child-abductions

TOKYO — Japan began Tuesday soliciting views via the Internet on the possibility of the country ratifying an international convention to deal with problems that arise when failed international marriages result in children wrongfully being taken to Japan by one parent.

The online survey by the Foreign Ministry asks people who have been involved in the so-called parental ‘‘abductions’’ to Japan of children of failed marriages what they think about Japan’s accession to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

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

The convention provides a procedure for the prompt return of such ‘‘abducted’’ children to their habitual country of residence and protects parental access rights.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has suggested that he is considering positively Japan’s accession to the Hague Convention and ratifying it during the next year’s ordinary Diet session.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said at a regular news conference Tuesday that the government will examine opinions collected through the online survey in studying the possibility of joining the convention. The questionnaire will be posted on the website of the Foreign Ministry and its 121 diplomatic missions abroad, he said.

At present, 82 countries are parties to the Hague Convention. Of the Group of Eight major powers, Japan and Russia have yet to ratify the treaty.
ENDS

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TEXT OF THE MOFA SURVEY

Courtesy http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/press/event/files/ko_haag.doc

「国際的な子の奪取の民事面に関する条約(ハーグ条約)」に関するアンケート

【問1】 国境を越えた子供の移動に関する問題の当事者となり、以下のような経験をしたことはありますか。なお、回答に当たり、個人名などは挙げていただく必要はありません。

●国境を越える形で子供を連れ去られたり、やむなく子供と一緒に移動せざるを得なかったこと (その事情も含めて教えてください。) (回答)

●外国で裁判をして、裁判所の命令等により国境を越える移動に制限が加えられたこと (回答)

●差し支えなければ、以下の事項についても教えてください。 -子供の年齢: -父母の別: -子供に対する親権の有無: -関係ある国の名前:

【問2】 ハーグ条約の存在やその内容をご存知でしたか。 (回答)

【問3】 これまで我が国がハーグ条約を締結していないことについてどのようなご意見をお持ちですか。 (回答)

【問4】 日本がハーグ条約を締結することになれば、ご自身又は類似の境遇に置かれている方々にどのような利益・不利益があると思いますか。 (回答)

【問5】 その他ハーグ条約や国際的な子の連れ去り問題についてご意見があれば、お書きください。 (回答)

お名前(       )

ご連絡先(      )

場合によって当方からさらに詳細についてお伺いするために連絡をとらせていただくことは,

(1)差し支えない (2)希望しない

ご協力に感謝申し上げます。

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

UNOFFICIAL ENGLISH TRANSLATION

SURVEY REGARDING THE HAGUE CONVENTION ON THE CIVIL ASPECTS OF INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION

Question 1:  Have you ever had an experience like the ones below regarding the problem of children being moved across borders? You do not have to reveal anyone’s names in your answers:

— There was a child abducted across an international border / you had no choice but to move with your children (please give details):
— You had a court trial in a foreign country and your border movements were restricted by a court order. (Response space)

— If convenient, please tell us about the following conditions:  Age of the child: — Whether you are the mother or the father — Whether you had custody of the children / The name of the relevant country (Response space)

Question 2: Did you know the existence and the content of the Hague Convention? (Response space)
Question 3: Do you have an opinion about Japan not becoming a party to the Hague Convention so far? (Response space)
Question 4: If Japan were to sign the Hague Convention, you think there would be any advantages or disadvantages given to people in similar circumstances, or yourself? (Response space)
Question 5: If you have any comments about the issues – child abduction and the Hague Convention and other international issues, please state them below: (Response space)

Name

Contact details

There may be cases where we need to contact you to receive more details on your case.  Would contacting you be possible? (Yes/No)

Thank you for your cooperation.

ENDS
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Jiji Press — the loophole in the making

子の返還拒否、法的に担保=ハーグ条約締結で検討―政府
時事通信 2011年2月1日(火) Courtesy of Chris Savoie
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20110201-00000065-jij-pol

政府は1日の閣議で、国際結婚が破綻した場合の親権争いの解決ルールを定めたハーグ条約について「締結の可能性を真剣に検討している」とする答弁書を決定した。締結する場合の対応に関しては「条約の規定を踏まえ、国内法で子の返還拒否事由を規定することを検討したい」との方針を示した。自民党の浜田和幸参院議員の質問主意書に答えた。
政府は1月25日の副大臣級会議で条約加盟の検討を始めたが、加盟すれば家庭内暴力から逃れて帰国した子どもを元の国に返還することになりかねないとの慎重論も強い。政府としては、こうした子どもの返還制限を法的に担保することで、懸念を取り除く狙いがあるとみられる。
最終更新:2月1日(火)12時53分
ends

JT’s Philip Brasor on BBC QI show and atomic-bombings and “victim ownership of historical narrative”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s an excellent column on the recent “humor” segment on the BBC show QI, derided by officials and family as “insensitive” because it was connected to the Japan atomic bombings.  The author then links it to the issue of DPRK abductions of Japanese, where deviation from the official line of “they’re still alive over there” is taboo, and comes up with an interesting conclusion:  He who owns the “narrative” on this history (particularly as a victim) gets to dictate how it is represented in the media.  Very insightful indeed.  I can see how this analytical paradigm can be applied to the realm of human rights and racial discrimination in Japan — how NJ are often not allowed to “own” their own narratives in Japan.  Worth a think about.  Arudou Debito

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MEDIA MIX
Cultural insensitivity no laughing matter
By PHILIP BRASOR

The Japan Times, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20110130pb.html

The tempest in a teapot whipped up by a segment on the British quiz-cum-comedy show “QI” has prompted debate on cross-cultural sensitivity. The BBC has apologized for the segment, which, contrary to a statement issued by Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, did not make fun of its subject, the late Tsutomu Yamaguchi, who was a victim in both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. If anything, it made fun of the British railway system, which was found wanting in comparison to Japan’s.

The main complaint is that any exploitation of the atomic bombings for the purposes of levity is hurtful to the survivors, their families and the Japanese people in general, regardless of the content or target of the joke. The laughs, in this instance, were evinced by the irony of the situation: A man who was burned in one atomic bombing was able to board a train to go to a city where he suffered — and survived — another. Depending on your threshold for humor, insult was added to injury when some of the guests on the show tried to make jokes (“He never got the train again, I tell you”), which is what they’re paid to do.

Just as there’s no accounting for taste, it’s difficult to make a case for comedy that may strike some as being in bad form, especially when the gag isn’t particularly funny; but the argument here is not really about whether Yamaguchi’s fateful journey qualifies as a cosmic joke. The point is: Who gets to say how people should react to it?

Yamaguchi’s daughter told Kyodo News that her own family had joked about her father’s experience, but that doesn’t mean British people can do the same. The reason they can’t, she said, is that Great Britain is a “country that has nuclear weapons.” But it’s not within the purview of “QI” to make such distinctions. Britain may possess nukes, but the guests on the show certainly don’t; and for all we know they may be opposed to their country’s policy of deterrence. No, the real reason they don’t have a right to joke about Hiroshima, at least from the Japanese critics’ point of view, is that they aren’t atomic bomb victims themselves.

Rest of the article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20110130pb.html
ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Feb 1, 2011: “Naturalized Japanese: foreigners no more”

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Hi Blog.  Now up for commentary before Debito.org vacations for February and March, here we have an article that was the #1-read article on The Japan Times Online all day yesterday.  Thanks everyone for reading!  Arudou Debito

justbecauseicon.jpg

The Japan Times, February 1, 2011

JUST BE CAUSE

Naturalized Japanese: foreigners no more
Long-termers hit back after trailblazing Diet member Tsurunen utters the F-word

[NB: Not my title; too confrontational.  I was trying to be respectful in tone in this article to my dai-senpai.]
By DEBITO ARUDOU
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110201ad.html

In Dec. 28’s Japan Times, Charles Lewis wrote a respectful Zeit Gist column asking three fellow wise men (sumo wrestler Konishiki, musicologist Peter Barakan and Diet member Marutei Tsurunen) about their successful lives as “foreigners” in Japan. Despite their combined century of experience here, the article pointed out how they are still addressed at times like outsiders fresh off the boat.

Their coping strategy? Essentially, accept that you are a foreigner in Japan and work with it.

That is fine advice for some. But not for us all. I talked to three other wise men, with Japanese citizenship and a combined tenure of more than 50 years here, who offered a significantly different take.

Takuma (who asked to be identified by only his first name), a university professor who was granted Japanese citizenship last year, felt “puzzled” by the attitudes — particularly Tsurunen’s quote, “We are foreigners and we can’t change the fact. . . . It’s no problem for me to be a foreigner . . . I always say I am a Finn-born Japanese.”

Takuma: “That’s a bit absurd. It’s as if he’s contradicting himself in the same breath. I would understand if he said something like, ‘I accept that I am often viewed as a foreigner, or that people mistakenly take me as a foreigner.’ It’s sad that he would refer to himself as a ‘foreigner’ — when in fact he isn’t.”

Kento Tanaka (a pseudonym), a corporate manager in Osaka, even felt a degree of indignation.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion and lifestyle, and if you wish to see yourself as a foreigner in Japan no matter what, that’s fine. But it’s very strange for a naturalized Diet member to call himself a ‘foreigner,’ he said.

“Mr. Tsurunen in particular knows Japan’s Nationality Law, and has worked on committees dealing with it. It makes no sense for a legal representative of Japan to contradict the laws of the land like this. He made these statements in English, right?”

I confirmed with the author that yes, Mr. Tsurunen’s original quotes were rendered as is from the original English.

Kento: “Then I think he should consider clarifying or retracting. What’s the point of taking out Japanese citizenship if he undermines the status for us naturalized (citizens)? Like it or not, he represents us.”

Kaoru Miki, a technical writer in the video games industry, concurs.

“I agree Mr. Tsurunen should know better. I wouldn’t call myself a foreigner, no. Foreign-born, sure, or even ‘British’ when casually referring to my background. But not foreign. Ever. Just on general principle. Unfortunately, it’s an easy trap to fall into when the author of the JT article makes sweeping statements like: ‘It is still also a fact that no matter how long a foreigner lives in this country they will never shed their outsider status in the eyes of most native-born Japanese.’ “

“I often hear this kind of anecdotal hearsay bandied as fact, but it really doesn’t hold water. Exclusionary establishments exist, sure, but outside of guesting systems like the JET Programme or exchange students, it’s been my experience that people are for the most part accepted as is.

“Being asked for the 1011th time if you can use chopsticks may be tiresome, but it’s a far cry from being treated as an outsider, and to claim otherwise cheapens the experiences of those that face genuine discrimination,” argues Kaoru.

“Back to Mr. Tsurunen. The way I read his comments — and I’m assuming he meant ‘foreign-born,’ not ‘foreign’ — is that you don’t need to pretend to be something you’re not in order to fit in.

“Mr. Tsurunen’s being born and brought up outside of Japan is something that will never change (i.e. in that sense, always a foreigner), and he doesn’t feel he needs to take up kendo, learn to make sushi, and walk around the house in yukata while listening to enka all the time (i.e. pretend to be Japanese) just to be accepted here.

“It’s an extension of the ‘there is no single Japanese way’ concept that Debito has always been a proponent of. Given Mr. Tsurunen’s achievements, I’d be surprised if he hadn’t meant something along these lines,” Kaoru wrote in an e-mail.

That brings us to the point of this column: What might have been meant, and what comes across in the article, are the common misunderstandings that we long-termers should understand and avoid.

One issue to consider is what trail is being blazed, since Mr. Lewis offered his three wise men up as examples of “foreigners” who have “made it” in Japan.

Congratulations to them. Seriously. However, they are not really templates for others. Given the extraordinary hoops these gents had to jump through, they are the exceptions that prove the rule — that the barriers to success are too high for most non-Japanese to get over.

In fact, if they still feel that they are “foreigners” after a generation of life here and Japanese citizenship, then there’s something fundamentally wrong with the template.

The bigger issue, however, is the image these high-profile long-termers are projecting when they still refer to themselves publicly as “foreigners.” Not only are they avoiding the appropriate status (after a century here, they should be calling themselves “immigrants”), but it also has knock-on effects that go beyond them as individuals.

These attitudes imperil the ethnic identities of Japanese children of international marriages.

Our wise men and many international children are probably here for life. But there is a fundamental difference between them. Long-termer immigrants came over here by choice, and most arrived as fully formed adults — with the choice to keep or subsume their ethnic identity.

Children of international roots are not offered that same choice. Born and raised here, and often left to their own devices within the Japanese educational system, they have an ethnic identity thrust upon them at a more malleable age, often based upon their physical appearance. That’s why we have to be careful when using “foreigner” in a way that conflates nationality (a legal status) with ethnicity (a birth status).

It is accurate for Mr. Tsurunen to say, as he did, that he is a “Finn-born Japanese.” However, as Kento pointed out above, it is inaccurate to say that a naturalized person is still a “foreigner.”

Personal choice of identity, coping strategy, whatever — a high-profile immigrant should be careful never to condone, or miscommunicate that he condones, this conflation. Otherwise, we will have a lot of ethnic Japanese children who call Japan their native land, yet are labeled and treated as “foreigners” — because the famous adult “foreigners” do it.

Instead, we long-termers should be using our status to promote the freedom of choice of identity for international children — helping them learn about retaining their ethnic roots within Japan, and helping other people understand that it is possible to be “Japanese” yet retain non-Japanese ethnic roots.

Mr. Tsurunen declined to comment for this article. In responses to many e-mails about the original article, his office released the following comment in Japanese (my translation):

“I wish to thank everyone for their comments. As people have pointed out, my use of the English word ‘foreigner’ was inappropriate. I was trying to express that I am not a ‘Japan-born Japanese’ and used ‘foreigner,’ but strictly speaking I should have said ‘foreign-born person,’ or, as I said in the article, ‘Finn-born Japanese.’

“I regret using expressions that gave rise to misunderstandings, and would like to offer my apologies.”

Let’s give Takuma the last word on coping strategies for immigrants who are less famous, but also comfortable and successful in Japan:

“Personally, I don’t get angry — or even a little bit upset — when someone refers to me as a ‘foreigner.’ But I do calmly say, ‘Actually, I’m Japanese now,’ and explain if necessary.

“Regardless, I don’t think it’s necessary to fight or argue with everybody over this issue. Just calmly state your case, and leave it at that. There will always be close-minded people — and we have to admit there are a lot of Japanese who have a narrow view on the issue of nationality — but most Japanese are pretty accepting.

“The concept of ‘being accepted as a Japanese’ is very fuzzy and can be interpreted in many ways. I have found that most Japanese — much more so than my foreign colleagues, friends and family — are very accepting of my new nationality. Mostly, though, I just want to be accepted as me — an individual — not as a nationality.”

Words to the wise.

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 FEBRUARY 1, 2011

mytest

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In this podcast:

  1. Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 18, “Unlike Humans, Swine Flu is Indiscriminate”, on the the lessons to be learned from Japan’s public panic due to the Swine Flu Pandemic, and how to avoid discrimination arising from it (August 4, 2009)
  2. Japan Times ZEIT GIST Community Page Article 51/JUST BE CAUSE Column 19, ” McDonald’s Japan’s “Mr James” campaign: Why these stereotyping advertisements should be discontinued”. (September 1, 2009)

Plus interim excerpts from Tangerine Dream “White Eagle” and an excerpt of another song from Duran Duran’s most recent album, “All You Need is Now”. Title: “Being Followed”.

22 minutes.  Enjoy!