DEBITO.ORG
Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle's Home Page

New ebooks by ARUDOU Debito

  • Book IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan
  • Archive for April, 2011

    Kansai Time Out Feb ’08 on “Power and the People: Masaki Hisane keeps watch on Japan’s nuclear industry”

    Posted by arudou debito on 30th April 2011

    Masaki Hisane offers this sobering report in the now-defunct Kansai Time Out, February 2008, in an article on the horrible safety record of Japan’s nuclear power industry. Reprinted here as a matter of record only, since it the KTO archives seem to have disappeared. FYI

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Tangents | No Comments »

    Columnist Dan Gardner: “Why Japan took the nuclear risk”: Quick-fix energy during 1973-4 Oil Shocks

    Posted by arudou debito on 29th April 2011

    Gardner: The Japanese government undertook a rapid expansion of nuclear power after the oil shocks of the early 1970s to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign energy, despite the high earthquake risk in the region…

    Why risk it? Why should we build and operate nuclear power plants knowing that they do pose real dangers, whatever the magnitude of those dangers may be? And why, in particular, would Japan build nuclear power plants on land that so often buckles and heaves?…

    The Japanese miracle was built on a foundation of cheap energy -mostly oil, mostly from the Middle East. The oil embargo of late 1973 plunged the world into the frightening recession of 1974, and no one suffered worse than Japan.

    “The recent period of Japanese glory, from 1969 to 1973, when it seemed a small, distant country would overtake the giants of the West, lasted longer than a dream, but it has ended with dramatic suddenness,” wrote Donald Keene, an American professor of Japanese culture, in the New York Times. It was March 3, 1974. “The same people who only a few months ago were talking and acting as if the future held unlimited possibilities of economic expansion now gloomily announce, not without a touch of masochism, that they live in a country completely at the mercy of others for survival.”

    Many Japanese were sure their country would sink back into poverty. The old fears of mass starvation and environmental ruin returned. “Prophecies of disaster abound,” Keene noted.

    The Japanese government responded with a sweeping, multi-pronged campaign to reduce Japan’s dependency on Middle Eastern oil. Conservation and energy-efficiency was a major component. So was a rapid expansion of nuclear power.

    Of course the Japanese knew their seismological reality. Indeed, Japanese earthquake science and engineering is the best in the world. But the Japanese also knew the danger of the status quo. It was a trade-off…

    Posted in Cultural Issue, History, Japanese Government, Tangents, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 5 Comments »

    Ekonomisuto gives better articles on effects of both NJ leaving Japan and tourists avoiding Japan

    Posted by arudou debito on 28th April 2011

    The Ekonomisuto Weekly of March 26, 2011, devotes three pages to the effects of the Fukushima Disasters on both Japan’s tourism/export and NJ labor markets. In the vein of how Japanese media coverage has been unsympathetic, even critical, of NJ leaving Japan, page three is of particular note. It offers harder numbers of NJ departures (although again with no comparison with Japanese movement), does not stoop to a tone of blame, and even accepts that NJ have a choice to work in other countries, so Japan had better take some measures to make itself more attractive to NJ labor or else. That’s more like it.

    I have long found the policymaking attitude of “working in Japan should be its own reward, so we needn’t try to make things more hospitable for foreign labor” puzzling, so this article is refreshing. I’ll be dealing with that attitude in part in my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column, to be published in the Tuesday, May 3 edition of the JT. Enjoy.

    Posted in Gaiatsu, Labor issues, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | No Comments »

    Mainichi: “Industries left short-handed after NJ workers flee Japan following nuke accident”

    Posted by arudou debito on 27th April 2011

    Here’s another article tying together more pinpoint data of NJ leaving Japan, with a focus on Chinese. Spare a tear for those poor, poor Japanese industries who took advantage of so many cheap temporary NJ workers, and are now crying because the NJ aren’t sticking around to be potentially irradiated as well as exploited:

    Mainichi: Tens of thousands of worried foreign workers left Japan shortly after a crisis at the nuclear power plant that was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, causing serious labor shortages in some industries.

    After foreign governments lifted their temporary evacuation advisories issued in the wake of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, many Americans and Europeans started coming back to Japan, albeit gradually. But workers from neighboring countries such as China have yet to do so.

    Chinese people in particular — mostly students and trainees — had occupied key parts of the workforce in many Japanese industries, and therefore if they continue to stay out of Japan for an extended period of time, they could have a grave impact on the industries and force firms to review their business strategies or cut production.

    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Labor issues, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 17 Comments »

    Donald Keene to naturalize, in a show of solidarity with the Japanese people, at age 88.

    Posted by arudou debito on 26th April 2011

    Octogenarian scholar and Japan specialist Donald Keene has announced his intention to become a Japanese citizen, and move to Japan in light of the Tohoku Disasters. Well, good for him.

    Submitter JK notes, “While I respect Keene’s accomplishments as an academic, I can’t help but feel that his writings are a reflection of a person inhabiting a self-constructed bubble Japan whose universe is made up of haiku masters, poets, and scholars.” There are also a few comments on Japan Probe that make light of his (in)decision given his advanced age.

    A bit harsh, but I do find the logic — of linking a show of solidarity in the face of a crisis with a decision as personal as changing one’s nationality (and in Japan’s case, abrogating one’s former nationality) — a bit discomfiting. As per Keene’s comments below, he’s basically falling into the ancient bad habit (a la Lafcadio Hearn’s day) of treating the Japanese people as monolithic. Plus he won’t have to live quite as long with his (last-minute) decision compared to younger people who really plighted their troth here and naturalized. A nice, but oddly-reasoned, gesture on Keene’s part.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, NJ legacies | 18 Comments »

    Nikkei reports on the effect of “nihon saru gaikokujin”, aka Fly-jin, with some pretty shaky journalistic practices

    Posted by arudou debito on 25th April 2011

    Here’s yet another article from a more reputable source, the Nihon Keizai Shinbun, talking about the phenomenon of NJ allegedly leaving Japan behind and having an adverse effect on Japan’s economy.

    For the record, I don’t doubt that NJ have left Japan due to the Tohoku Disasters. I just have my doubts that a) it’s any more significant than the Japanese who also left, yet get less nasty media coverage (I have yet to see an article comparing both J and NJ “flight” in terms of numbers), b) it’s worth blaming NJ for leaving, since Japanese overseas would probably do much the same if advised to do so by their government in the face of a disaster, and c) the media is actually doing their job investigating sources to nail down the exact statistics. Let’s see how the Nikkei does below: Some bogus journalistic practices unbecoming of something as trusted as the Nikkei, to wit:

    Providing a generic photo of people drinking at a Tokyo izakaya and claiming that they’re talking about repatriating NJ (that’s quite simply yarase).

    Providing a chart of annual numbers (where the total numbers of NJ dropped in 2009 in part due to the GOJ bribing unemployed Brazilian workers to leave), which is unrelated to the Tohoku Disasters.

    Relying on piecemeal sources (cobbling numbers together from Xinhua, some part-timer food chains, an eikaiwa, a prefectural employment agency for “Trainee” slave labor, and other pinpoint sources) that do not necessarily add up to a trend or a total.

    Finishing their sentences with the great linguistic hedgers, extrapolators, and speculators (in place of harder sources), including “…to mirareru”, “… sou da”, “there are cases of…” etc. All are great indicators that the article is running on fumes in terms of data.

    Portraying Japanese companies as victimized by deserting NJ workers, rather than observing that NJ thus far, to say the least, have helped Japan avoid its labor shortage (how about a more positive, grateful tone towards NJ labor?, is what I’m asking for).

    And as always, not comparing their numbers with numbers of Japanese exiting. Although the article avoids the more hectoring tone of other sources I’ve listed on Debito.org, it still makes it seems like the putative Great Flyjin Exodus is leaving Japan high and dry. No mention of course in the article of how many of these NJ might also be leaving Japan because they have no stake in it, i.e. are stuck in a dead-end or part-time job with no hope of promotion, advancement, or leadership within their corporate sector.

    Once again, it’s pretty flawed social science. The Nikkei could, and should, do better, and if even the Nikkei of all media venues can’t, that says something bad about Japanese journalism when dealing with ethnic issues. Read the article for yourself.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Labor issues, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 16 Comments »

    Zakzak headlines that NJ part-time staff flee Yoshinoya restaurant chain, and somehow threaten its profitability

    Posted by arudou debito on 20th April 2011

    More on the Open Season on NJ. Here is Internet news site Zakzak headlining that Yoshinoya, famous beef bowl chain restaurant, is being affected by the “big-volume escaping of NJ part-timers”. It apparently has lost a quarter of its NJ staff (over 800 souls) fleeing from the fears of radiation from the Tohoku Disasters. Then Zakzak gives us the mixed news that Yoshinoya is still profitable compared to its losses the same period a year ago, but is expected to take a hit to its profits from the Disasters.

    Not sure how that relates, but again, the headline is that NJ are fleeing and that it’s raising doubts about whether the company is still “okay”. Even though Zakzak notes that the company is filling in the gaps with Japanese employees (er, so no worries, right? The Disasters, not the alleged NJ flight, are the bigger threat to solvency, no?). So… journalistically, we’ll hang the newsworthiness of a company’s profitability on the peg of “escaping NJ”?

    If we’re going to have this much NJ bashing, how about an acknowledgement of how much NJ labor has meant to Japan and how we’re thankful for it, so please don’t leave?

    Nah, easier to bash them. Takes the heat off the company for their own variably profitable business practices, and creates more attractive headlines for the media. It’s a win-win situation against the bullied and disenfranchised minority.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Labor issues, Media, NJ legacies, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 14 Comments »

    Fukushima Japanese refused service at hotels etc., plus famous excluder/embezzler Toyoko Inn up to old tricks; requires guests unlawfully sign waivers just to stay

    Posted by arudou debito on 19th April 2011

    Two articles of note for today. One is from the Yomiuri about the Toyoko Inn, that hotel with a history of not only embezzling monies earmarked for Barrier-Free facilities for handicapped clients, but also wantonly racially profiling and unlawfully refusing entry to NJ clients. Less than a week after the Tohoku Disasters, the Yomiuri reports, Toyoko Inns in Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, and Ibaraki Prefectures were requiring customers to sign waiver contracts, absolving Toyoko of any responsibility should disaster strike. No signature means you couldn’t get accommodation, which is under the Hotel Management Law (and the Consumer Contract Law, mentioned below), unlawful. What a piece of work Toyoko Inn is. Again, hotels doing things like this deserve to be boycotted for bad business practices.

    Then there are the knee-jerk hotels in Japan who go into spasm to deny service whenever possible. If it’s the case of NJ guests (27% of Japanese hotels surveyed, according to a 2008 GOJ survey, indicated they want no NJ guests at all), things get even more spastic: Either a) they Japanese hotels get deputized by the NPA to racially profile their clients, refusing foreign-looking people entry if they don’t show legally-unnecessary ID, or b) they put signs up to refuse NJ clients entry because they feel they “can’t offer sufficient service” (seriously), or c) they refuse NJ because of whatever “safety issue” they can dredge up, including the threat of theft and terrorism, or even d) they get promoted by government tourist agencies despite unlawfully having exclusionary policies. What a mess Japan’s hotel industry is.

    As for Japanese guests? Not always better. Here’s the latest mutation: The Yomiuri reports places are refusing Japanese people too from irradiated Fukushima Prefecture because they think they might be glowing:

    As the article lays out, it’s not just a hotel (although hotels have a particular responsibility, even under the law, to offer refuge and rest to the paying public). A gas station reportedly had a sign up refusing Fukushima Kenmin (they must think Fukushimans spark!), while complaints came in to official soudan madoguchi that a restaurant refused Fukushimans entry and someone had his car defaced. In all, 162 complaints reportedly came in regarding fuhyou higai, or roughly “damages due to disreputation” of being tarred by the disasters. Now that’s an interesting word for a nasty phenomenon.

    Good news is that these problems are at least being reported in the media as a social problem, and Fukushima Prefecture is asking the national government to address them. Let’s hope the GOJ takes measures to protect Fukushima et.al. from further exposure to “fuhyou” and discrimination. Might be a template for getting the same for NJ. (Okay, probably not, but it’s still the right thing to do.)

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., 日本語 | 12 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 15, 2011

    Posted by arudou debito on 16th April 2011

    Table of Contents:

    NJ PORTRAYED AS PART OF THE PROBLEM

    1) Asahi Tensei Jingo (Vox Populi) Mar 20 offers ponderous column with gratuitous alienation of NJ
    2) Wall Street Journal joins in bashing alleged NJ “fly-jin exodus”: “Expatriates tiptoe back to the office”
    3) Tokyo Sports Shinbun blames closure of Tokyo Disneyland not on power outages, but on NJ!
    4) Rumors of “Foreign Crime Gangs”; rapes and muggings, while tabloids headline “all NJ have flown Japan” etc.
    5) SNA: “GOJ targets harmful internet rumors”, including the earthquake being caused by foreign terrorism
    6) Tokyo Governor Election April 10 posts “expel the barbarians, Japan for the Japanese” openly xenophobic candidate, gets over 6000 votes

    NJ AS PART OF THE SOLUTION

    7) NJ helping Japan during this crisis: James Gibbs on his Miyagi Rescue Efforts
    8 ) John Harris on how Coca Cola could help Japan save a nuclear power plant’s worth of power: Switch off their 5.5 million vending machines
    9) Thinking of donating blood in Japan? Mutantfrog translates the regulations on who can’t.

    RELATED ARTICLES OF NOTE

    9) Tokyo Gov Ishihara calls the tsunami “divine punishment” to wipe out the “egoism” of Japan. Yet wins reelection.
    10) The Nation.com on Tohoku Earthquake has shaken Japan Inc.
    11) AOL News: WikiLeaks: Cables Show Japan Was Warned About Nuclear Plant Safety
    12) Weekend Tangent: NYT: “Japanese Workers Braved Radiation for a Temp Job” in Japan’s nuclear industry
    13) Japanese cartoon for kids depicting Fukushima nuclear issue as power plants with constipation!

    … and finally…

    14) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 38, April 5, 2011 on Tohoku: “Letting radiation leak, but never information”

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    SNA: “GOJ targets harmful internet rumors”, including the earthquake being caused by foreign terrorism

    Posted by arudou debito on 15th April 2011

    SNA: A new project team has been created by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, the National Police Agency, and METI to combat “rumors” deemed harmful to Japanese security in the wake of the March 11 disaster.

    Specifically, these government organizations asserted in a press release that the damage caused by earthquakes and by the nuclear accident are being magnified by irresponsible rumors, and that the government must take steps against this trend for the sake of the public good…

    The Telecom Services Association reveals that the following requests have thus far come from the government:
    March 17: Erase descriptions of the earthquake as a man-made event
    March 24: Erase descriptions about the manufacturers of the troubled nuclear reactors
    March 28: Erase claim that the earthquake was caused by foreign terrorism…

    COMMENT: Here we have GOJ agencies working to stem malicious rumors from proliferating online, including those targeting NJ. Good. It’s also presented (by a news blog) as a debate between those who feel they have a right to know (and feel betrayed by the official media as an information source) and those who feel they can say anything they like about anybody thanks to freedom of speech. It’s a fine line, to be sure, but I’m glad to see somebody official trying to tackle (or, rather, at least thinking about tackling) the issue of hate speech against NJ. But without clear legal guidelines about what constitutes “hate speech” (or for that matter, “immoral information”) in Japan, those who don’t trust the government will no doubt foresee a wave of official censorship.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Media | 10 Comments »

    Tokyo Sports Shinbun blames closure of Tokyo Disneyland not on power outages, but on NJ!

    Posted by arudou debito on 14th April 2011

    Debito.org is pleased to announce another Japan Official(TM) Open Season on NJ. We get these fads occasionally, like “NJ have AIDS” (1986), “NJ have SARS” (2003), “NJ are criminals” (2000-4).

    Now, with the advent of “Fly-jin” (or the variant “Bye-jin” — which is better, some might retort, than being “Die-jin”), it’s now “NJ are deserters”. And they can be conveniently blamed for various social ills. Here, I’ll anticipate a couple:

    1) “Fly-jin” are responsible for Japan’s lack of English ability because they fled their posts as English teachers. (Not so far-fetched, since they have been blamed in the past for the same thing because conversely “NJ have been in Japan too long”)…

    2) “Fly-jin” are responsible for our fruits and vegetables becoming more expensive, since NJ “Trainees” deserted their posts as slaves on Japanese farms and left things rotting on the vine…

    3) “Fly-jin” are responsible for a further decrease in Japan’s population, since some of them took Japanese citizens with them when they deserted Japan…

    4) “Fly-jin” are responsible for a downtick in Japan’s shipping industry, since NJ accounted for 90% of Japan’s maritime crews…

    5) “Fly-jin” are responsible for diplomatic snafus, since our NJ proofreaders at national government agencies did a runner…
    (Here, here’s what NJ have been blamed for in the past. Join in on the game.)

    Okay, that’s still fiction. But who says people in Japan aren’t creative? I never anticipated NJ being blamed for the closure of Tokyo Disneyland, as the Tokyo Sports Shinbun does on April 14, 2011:

    No, it’s not due to power outages or rolling blackouts or anything like that. They have to have NJ faces as dancers and people in parades, therefore no parade, no Tokyo Disneyland. We’re closed, and it’s your fault, NJ. Makes perfect sense, right? Enjoy the Open Season on you, NJ, while it lasts. I anticipate it’ll dissipate with the radiation levels someday.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Labor issues, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 15 Comments »

    More J media regarding NJ within earthquake-stricken Japan: Rumors of “Foreign Crime Gangs”; rapes and muggings, while tabloids headline “all NJ have flown Japan” etc.

    Posted by arudou debito on 13th April 2011

    As promised, here we have a record of how domestic media is either reporting on nasty rumors denigrating NJ, or circulating those nasty rumors themselves. The GOJ is taking measures to quell the clacking keyboards, but the tabloids (roundly decried for spreading exaggerated information overseas about the state of radioactivity from Fukushima) are still selling papers by targeting NJ regardless. (There’s a lot of text in Japanese below; keep paging down. Brief comments in English sandwiched between.)

    First, the Asahi and Sankei report “dema” swirling about saying that foreigners are forming criminal gangs (echoes of 1923′s rumored Korean well poisonings, which lead to massacres) and carrying out muggings and rapes. Yet Sankei (yes, even the Sankei) publishes that there hasn’t been a single reported case (glad they’re setting the record straight):

    The GOJ is also playing a part in quelling and deleting internet rumors, thank goodness: Still, that doesn’t stop other media from headlining other (and still nasty) rumors about how (bad) NJ are heading south towards Tokyo (soon rendering Ueno into a lawless zone). Or that NJ are all just getting the hell out:

    Fellow Blogger Hoofin has made an attempt to mathematically debunk this alleged phenomenon of “Fly-Jin”, noting that the person to coin this phrase has since commented with a bit of regret at being the butterfly flapping his wings and setting this rhetorical shitstorm in motion (much like GOJ shill Robert Angel regretting ever coining the word “Japan bashing”). We have enough anti-NJ rhetorical tendencies in Japan without the NJ community contributing, thank you very much.

    Besides (as other Debito.org Readers have pointed out), if the shoe was on the other foot, do you think Japanese citizens living overseas would refuse to consider repatriating themselves out of a stricken disaster area (and do you think the media of that stricken country would zero in on them with the same nasty verve?).

    Meanwhile, xenophobic websites continue to rail and rant against NJ, since hate speech in Japan is not an illegal activity: Here’s but one example (which has escaped the notice of the GOJ as yet, calling for the execution of foreign criminals and throwing their bodies into the sea); I’m sure readers can find more and post them in the Comments Section below:

    People always need someone to blame or speak ill of, I guess. I’ll talk more soon about how Japanese from Fukushima are also being targeted for exclusion. However, it seems that hate speech directed towards NJ is less “discriminate”, so to speak — in that it doesn’t matter where you came from, how long you’ve been here, or what you’re doing or have done for Japan; as long as you’re foreign in Japan, you’re suspect and potentially subversive. Just as long as one can anonymously bad-mouth other people in billets and online, one can get away with it. Again, this is why we have laws against hate speech in other countries — to stem these nasty tendencies found in every society.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, 日本語 | 19 Comments »

    Wall Street Journal joins in bashing alleged NJ “fly-jin exodus”: “Expatriates tiptoe back to the office”

    Posted by arudou debito on 12th April 2011

    Here we have the Wall Street Journal joining in the NJ bashfest, publicizing the word “flyjin” for the Japanese market too (making one question the claim that the pejorative is restricted to the English-language market). Gotta love the Narita airport photo within that is deftly timed to make it seem as if it’s mostly NJ fleeing. “Good-natured hazing” is how one investment banker puts it below, making one wonder if he knows what hazing means. Anyway, here’s another non-good-natured article about how the aftershocks of the earthquake are affecting NJ.

    WSJ: The flight of the foreigners—known as gaijin in Japanese—has polarized some offices in Tokyo. Last week, departures from Japan reached a fever pitch after the U.S. Embassy unveiled a voluntary evacuation notice and sent in planes to ferry Americans to safe havens. In the exodus, a new term was coined for foreigners fleeing Japan: flyjin.

    The expat employees’ decision to leave is a sensitive cultural issue in a country known for its legions of “salarymen”: loyal Japanese employees whose lives revolve around the office, who regularly work overtime and who have strong, emotional ties to their corporations and their colleagues.

    “There is a split between [the Japanese and foreigners] on where their allegiances lie. In Japan, the company and family are almost one and the same, whereas foreigners place family first and company second,” said Mark Pink, the founder of financial recruitment firm TopMoneyJobs.com, based in Tokyo.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 18 Comments »

    Weekend Tangent: NYT: “Japanese Workers Braved Radiation for a Temp Job” in Japan’s nuclear industry

    Posted by arudou debito on 10th April 2011

    NYT: Mr. Ishizawa, who was finally allowed to leave, is not a nuclear specialist; he is not even an employee of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the crippled plant. He is one of thousands of untrained, itinerant, temporary laborers who handle the bulk of the dangerous work at nuclear power plants here and in other countries, lured by the higher wages offered for working with radiation. Collectively, these contractors were exposed to levels of radiation about 16 times as high as the levels faced by Tokyo Electric employees last year, according to Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, which regulates the industry. These workers remain vital to efforts to contain the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plants.

    They are emblematic of Japan’s two-tiered work force, with an elite class of highly paid employees at top companies and a subclass of laborers who work for less pay, have less job security and receive fewer benefits. Such labor practices have both endangered the health of these workers and undermined safety at Japan’s 55 nuclear reactors, critics charge.

    “This is the hidden world of nuclear power,” said Yuko Fujita, a former physics professor at Keio University in Tokyo and a longtime campaigner for improved labor conditions in the nuclear industry. “Wherever there are hazardous conditions, these laborers are told to go. It is dangerous for them, and it is dangerous for nuclear safety.”

    Of roughly 83,000 workers at Japan’s 18 commercial nuclear power plants, 88 percent were contract workers in the year that ended in March 2010, the nuclear agency said. At the Fukushima Daiichi plant, 89 percent of the 10,303 workers during that period were contractors. In Japan’s nuclear industry, the elite are operators like Tokyo Electric and the manufacturers that build and help maintain the plants like Toshiba and Hitachi. But under those companies are contractors, subcontractors and sub-subcontractors — with wages, benefits and protection against radiation dwindling with each step down the ladder…

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Labor issues, Tangents | 3 Comments »

    Asahi Tensei Jingo (Vox Populi) Mar 20 offers ponderous column with gratuitous alienation of NJ

    Posted by arudou debito on 9th April 2011

    Check out this Asahi Shinbun editorial (Japanese, then English), which offers an assessment of the victimization of Japan by 3/11, and insinuates that NJ in Japan are deserting us in our time of need:

    Asahi Shinbun column Mar 20, 2011: This past weekend, there were fewer foreigners than usual to be seen in Tokyo’s typically busy Ginza and Omotesando districts. Not just tourists from abroad scrambled to leave Japan, but also business travelers, students and reportedly even diplomats.

    While I am deeply grateful to people around the world for their moral and material support, I understand too well that rebuilding our country is ultimately the task of none but the Japanese…

    Let us all believe that, and let us stand by our fellow citizens who survived the catastrophe. We have nowhere to go back to, except this country of ours, which we must rebuild again out of the rubble.

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Tourism, 日本語 | 35 Comments »

    Tokyo Governor Election April 10 posts “expel the barbarians, Japan for the Japanese” openly xenophobic candidate

    Posted by arudou debito on 8th April 2011

    Let’s now start looking at some aspects of what appears to be a Post 3-11 Backlash against NJ. Let’s start with the Tokyo Governor’s Election, due April 10.

    We already have one overtly racist incumbent, Ishihara Shintaro, whom I’ve heard is alas the favorite to win, again. But also on the bill is this noticeably nasty candidate Furukawa Keigo, who advocates by his very slogan the expulsion of foreigners from his jurisdictions (pedants might counter that he’s only referring to Chinese and Koreans, but a) that doesn’t make it any better, and b) you think he’s only stopping there?).

    Here’s Furukawa’s public campaign announcement:

    Safeguard the capital. Safeguard Japan. Japan belongs to the Japanese people.

    Now more than ever, we should resolutely expel the foreign barbarians

    Eject foreigners from Tokyo.
    (By foreigners, I mean mainly Chinese (the pejorative “Shinajin” used for this) and north and south Koreans. In other words, the foreigners who are thought to be causing harm to Japan.

    1. Change the law so that foreigners cannot purchase land in Tokyo-to.
    2. Absolutely opposed to voting rights for foreigners!!
    3. Ban the the use of officially recognized Japanese aliases used by so-called “Zainichi” Koreans.
    4. Make conversion of pachinko shop premiums into cash illegal…

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Japanese Politics, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 30 Comments »

    NJ helping Japan during this crisis: James Gibbs on his Miyagi Rescue Efforts

    Posted by arudou debito on 7th April 2011

    As I shift the focus of Debito.org to how NJ residents are being bashed in Japan post 3-11 despite their best efforts, it’s first prudent to start giving an example or two of how NJ are actually trying to help. Others who are similarly helping out are welcome to submit their stories here either by email (debito@debito.org) or as a comment below. Well done, James. Debito

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

    Report on the Miyagi trip this past Sunday after our Saturday fundraising efforts.
    By James Gibbs. April 1, 2011
    After holding a fundraising event on Mar.26, the following day we delivered donated items along with a fully-loaded van of food and clothes to Onagawa next to Ishinomaki City, which is just north of Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture. I’ve made the following brief report on the trip along with first-hand observations on the situation and suggestions for future assistance as I know everyone is wanting to do something to help…

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, NJ legacies | 11 Comments »

    My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 38, April 5, 2011: “Letting radiation leak, but never information”

    Posted by arudou debito on 6th April 2011

    One lingering afterglow [of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster] will be a feeling of betrayal of the public trust. We were told that nuclear power was safe. One assumes, not unreasonably, that this means no leaks. Zero emissions. Hence, the public should have zero tolerance for any man-made radiation. We should reject ex post facto reassurances that this amount of millisieverts is insignificant, the same as an X-ray, an airplane flight, etc. Sometimes the government’s advice was so unscientific that it tried the patience of an educated society. (In a land of poorly insulated housing, being told to “just stay indoors” is clearly stopgap.)

    My point is that the public has been kept in the dark for generations about the risks of nuclear power, settling for cute cartoon characters that deliberately and persistently underinform us. Yet when the industry screws up, who takes the fallout?

    Not Japan’s nuclear firms. Tepco, remember, similarly botched things after radiation leaks at Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, in 1999 and the Kashiwazaki- Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture in 2007. Yet these Homer Simpsons remain in charge, despite, according to Wikileaks, repeated warnings from overseas specialists about their outmoded and lackluster safety standards (in a land of extreme seismic activity, no less). In a society that, if anything, overcompensates in the name of safety, why is nuclear energy such a glowing exception?…

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 10 Comments »

    The Nation.com on Tohoku Earthquake has shaken Japan Inc.

    Posted by arudou debito on 5th April 2011

    The Nation.com: But even as Japan was reeling from the disaster’s death toll—which is expected to surpass 20,000—and growing increasingly frightened by the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s nuclear reactor complex, there was growing unease at the lack of straight information from both the government and Tepco, a utility with a troubled history of lies, cover-ups and obfuscation dating back to the late 1960s.

    The information gap became an international issue on March 16, when US Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair Gregory Jaczko openly contradicted the Japanese government by declaring that water in one of Tepco’s reactors had boiled away, raising radiation in the area to “extremely high levels.” He recommended evacuation to any Americans within fifty miles of the site—nearly double the evacuation zone announced by the Japanese government (which immediately denied Jaczko’s assertions). TheNew York Times piled on the next day with a major article that pilloried the Kan government. “Never has postwar Japan needed strong, assertive leadership more—and never has its weak, rudderless system of governing been so clearly exposed,” the reporters declared.

    To be sure, Tokyo’s response to the disaster has been erratic, and the paucity of information about Fukushima was one of the first complaints I heard about the situation from my friends in Japan. But much of the criticism poured on Japan has obscured the many ways its political system has shifted since a 2009 political earthquake, when the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was swept out of power for the first time in fifty years. The changes, particularly to people who remember the government’s pathetic response to the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, which killed nearly 6,500, have been striking.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, History, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 7 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG PODCAST APRIL 1, 2011

    Posted by arudou debito on 3rd April 2011

    This month’s offering is a recording of a speech given in English last December at Sophia University, Tokyo. Their writeup:

    Liberal Democracy and the Japanese Judiciary System
    Is Japan’s Judiciary System Befitting a Modern Democracy?

    Chris Pitts, AITEN (Amnesty International Tokyo English Network)

    Mr. Pitts will be examining the general framework of the criminal investigation procedure in Japan and the trial process; how these structures fail to protect the rights of the accused; and the extent that these shortcomings have been criticized by Japanese Federation of Bar Associations & the UN Committee on Torture.

    Arudou Debito 有道 出人 (NGO FRANCA)

    The outspoken foreigners’ rights activist will then discuss the ways in which certain elements within a modern democratic judiciary system can work to undermine the civil liberties of the individuals within that democracy; and ask: Are there authoritarian elements within the Japanese judiciary system? And are they undermining the civil liberties of those living within Japanese society?

    Sophia Political Society
    Thursday, December 2, 2010
    From 5:30-7:00 in Bldg 4 Rm 175

    Q&A included, with questions from the floor from the Sea Shepherd (yes, that Sea Shepherd). One hour 40 minutes. No cuts. Enjoy.

    Posted in Podcasts | No Comments »