Archive for May, 2011
Posted by debito on 31st May 2011
The Sankei reports on May 25 that the Ministry of Justice will be loosening some of its strictures on NJ visas (the Sankei uses the word nohouzu in its headline; I’m not 100% sure of the nuance but it sounds like “a wild and endless expansion of favorable treatment regarding NJ entry visas”; rather snotty, but that’s the Sankei for ya).
The new Immigration policy is directed at NJ with very high skills (koudo jinzai — a good idea) and their families (who will also be allowed to work; wow, that’s a change!), will have a points system for evaluation (another good idea), will offer longer visa periods (5 years), and will loosen the specificity between work visas. It’s being touted as a means to make Japan more appealing to NJ labor (you had better!).
Sounds like a step in the right direction. But it’s still 中途半端. What’s missing is GOJ guaranteeing some degree of protection of labor and civil rights after NJ get here. And what about qualifications? Just try practicing law, medicine, or most other licensed skills in Japan now without going through the rigmarole of domestic certification, with walls so high (cf. the NJ nurses from Indonesia and The Philippines over the past few years) that almost all NJ applicants fail (and, magically, have to return home as usual after three years, just like any other revolving-door “Trainee” or “Researcher” NJ laborer).
This isn’t the first time a points system etc. has been floated (only to die the death of a thousand meddling bureaucrats) either. I guess the mandarins are realizing what a fix Japan is in without NJ labor. But if this kind of policy is going to happen at all, the almighty MOJ has to be the one proposing it. Then perhaps the waters will part for Moses. Let’s wait and see.
But this is on balance “good” news. But not “great” news unless the GOJ also does something to force domestic actors to treat NJ nicely. Which is doubtful.
Posted in Good News, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 12 Comments »
Posted by debito on 30th May 2011
The government will seek to introduce a system to enable people who claim to be victims of human rights violations to file complaints with the United Nations and other international organizations based on global treaties, sources said Thursday.
Details will be worked out among officials from relevant government bodies, mainly the Justice Ministry and the Foreign Ministry, and the government intends to obtain Cabinet consent on the matter by the end of the year, the sources said.
The individual complaint system is based on international treaties governing the protection of human rights. Under the system, when perceived rights violations are not addressed after an individual has exhausted all possible means under a country’s legal system, the person can file a complaint with certain international organizations. The relevant organization then issues warnings or advisories to the nation if it recognizes the individual’s case as a human rights violation.
After an international organization gives its opinion or recommendation to a signatory nation of the relevant international treaty, the country is asked to investigate the cases based on the international organization’s views and report back to it…
The government is considering accepting the system via Cabinet consent on the following treaties: the
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Japanese Government, United Nations | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 28th May 2011
Today I’d like to write about something that came to mind when I was listening to National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” podcast of February 21, 2011, which interviewed author and Columbia University professor Eric Foner for his book “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery”. (NPR information site on this show, excerpt from the book, and link to audio recording here.)
It was an excellent interview, shedding insights on just how entrenched unequal treatment towards people was in a system that on paper and in its very declaration of independence proclaimed that all men are created equal. I found similarities in the attitudes that people have towards foreigners in Japan, based not only on recent confessions by a public prosecutor that criminal jurisprudence training seeks to systematically deny human rights to foreigners, but also consequent twitter comments that justified the status quo of unequal treatment for foreigners. It shows just how far Japan as a society (not to mention the GOJ’s Bureau of Human Rights, which itself misunderstands the very concept of human rights in its surveys and awareness raising efforts; see my Japan Times article, “Human Rights Survey Stinks: Government effort riddled with bias, bad science”, of October 23, 2007) has to go before it understands that concepts of human rights are universal, not based upon citizenship.
Now for the disclaimers: I am aware that apparently linking the treatment of NJ in Japan to slaves in America is not an apt comparison (although Japan’s “Trainee/Researcher” system for importing cheap NJ labor has encouraged widespread labor abuses, child labor, and, yes, even slavery). I am aware that most NJ are in Japan of their own free will (if one ignores the forced labor of many Zainichi ancestors), whereas slaves were brought to the US by force. Et cetera. But the two concepts are related if not co-joined, as racial discrimination and justified unequal treatment is common to them both. What I want you to think about as you read the interview is how the contemporary debate arena and concepts of fundamental equality were blurred in both Pre-Civil-War USA and are still being blurred in contemporary Japan, tying the hands of even someone as able and firm in his convictions as Abraham Lincoln.
Excerpt of the interview follows. Quick comment from me below.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Cultural Issue, Discussions, History, Human Rights | 24 Comments »
Posted by debito on 26th May 2011
The chief prosecutor in the Saga City Agricultural Co-op case, now known to be a frame-up, spoke at a symposium held in Tokyo on May 23, 2011, offering a revealing discussion of the surprising reality of the training he received when he joined his department. “We were taught that yakuza and foreigners have no human rights,” he disclosed, and “public prosecutors were taught to make up confessions and then have suspects sign them.” Describing how terrifying this warped training system is, he added that “after being trained in that way, [he] began to almost believe that this was natural.” The person making the statements about his erstwhile workplace was former public prosecutor Hiroshi Ichikawa…
Mr. Ichikawa was appointed to the Yokohama District Public Prosecutor’s Office in 1993. He said that in his first year, a superior prosecutor taught him that “yakuza and foreigners have no human rights.” Describing his experiences, he mentioned that that superior said, “Foreigners don’t understand Japanese, so you can use whatever threatening language you like if it’s in Japanese.” The same superior also said that when investigating one foreign suspect, he held a pointed awl in front of the suspect’s face and shouted abuse at the suspect in Japanese. “‘That’s how you get them to confess,’ the superior said.”
In his third year, a superior taught him how to obtain a confession; this consisted of the prosecutor taking a document filled with whatever the prosecutor chose to say, threatening the suspect with it, and obtaining the suspect’s signature. What if the suspect refused to sign? “If the suspect resisted, my boss said, I should say that the document was my [investigation], not his [confession form],” said Mr. Ichikawa.
COMMENT FROM MARK IN YAYOI: The Twitter comments that follow [this article] are dispiriting — nobody seems to notice the fundamental incongruousness of discussing members of a criminal organization and people who happen to have different nationalities in the same breath. And then there are the other commenters who support the idea of certain people not having human rights. Others claim that foreign embassies should be the ones to guarantee the rights of immigrants. They miss the fundamental meaning of ‘human’ rights: rights are inherent aren’t handed down by the government! The government can restrict certain people’s rights, but the default state is not ‘zero rights’.”
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Social Science, Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese police/Foreign crime, 日本語 | 20 Comments »
Posted by debito on 25th May 2011
This is a bit of a tangent, but what affects citizens will also affect non-citizens as well (especially so, actually), so here goes:
The Mainichi reported yesterday that two men who were wrongfully committed of a crime were finally released. The problem is that it was a 44-year ordeal for them, thirty years of it spent in prison. And they are not the only examples of this lack of due process. As the article says, “The case has become the seventh in postwar Japan involving the acquittal in a retrial of defendants previously sentenced to death or life imprisonment.”
I’ve said before (after experiencing now six civil court cases that have all been riddled with absolute illogic) that the Japanese judiciary is pretty fucked up. So this is an example of how fucked up the Japanese criminal justice system is. This deserves to be known about. So know about it. (You can also read about it in my novel IN APPROPRIATE.)
NB: Before all you relativists start looking for examples of wrongful convictions in other countries that were later overturned, don’t even bother. For a) it doesn’t justify it happening here, and b) How much of this rigmarole and unaccountability will happen in other healthy judiciaries? Thirty years is a sizeable chunk of a person’s life lost!
Is the Japanese justice system more concerned about looking like it never makes mistakes than about rectifying past ones and avoiding future ones?
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Tangents | 16 Comments »
Posted by debito on 24th May 2011
Getting back to business, here is an excellent series of articles on how important NJ labor has been and will be to Japan’s future. Eighteen pages on the whos, whats, and why-you-should-cares in the Nikkei Business magazine dated May 2, 2011.
After the cover (Title: Kieta Gaikokujin Roudou Ryoku: Nihonjin dake de shokuba o mamoreru ka, or “Disappeared NJ Labor Force: Can Japanese maintain the workplaces by themselves?”) and table of contents, we open with a splash page showing Chinese waiting for their bags at the airport carousel after returning to China.
Pages 20 through 23 give us an assessment of NJ labor in several business sectors: Restaurants, Textiles, Finance, Convenience Stores, Agriculture, IT, Education, Tourism, and Airflight, headlining that the NJ labor force has “evaporated”.
Pages 24 and 25 give us the raw data, noting that the majority of NJ (55%) work in small companies of less than 100 employees, and that the near majority of NJ laborers (44%) are Chinese. The point is that “a closed Japanese labor market is impossible”.
Pages 26 and 27 give us a close up about a farm that lost none of its workers, and even asked (for a change, given the Japanese media) what NJ thought. It was all part of the magazine’s suggestions about what should be done to improve things and give NJ a stake: Accountability, Bonds, Careers, and recognizing Diversity. Even offered suggestions about how to simplify Japanese.
Pages 27 and 28 are the “money shot”, where the article says most of the things that we have said all along here on Debito.org and in my Japan Times articles: You can’t keep on using people as simple throwaway labor and expect them to stay, and you can’t keep doing things like bribe people to go back (as was done with the Nikkei in 2009) or make hurdles too high to get over (as is being done with NJ nurses) and expect a sustainable labor force.
Good stuff. And about bloody time. Scans of pages in gallery form below.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues, Practical advice, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 7 Comments »
Posted by debito on 22nd May 2011
Anonymous Debito.org Reader: Hi Debito, I just wanted to let you know that last week on ‘tepido naruhodos’ page, I saw a thread that included a large amount of communication between some posters about the posters on debito.org. They were discussing that of that date they had collectively identified 63 debito posters through e-mail addresses and social media sites.
I don’t know if you were aware of this, or if it was brought to your attention. The posts on that subject disappeared at some point around the weekend. Quite frankly, I think that they are a strange bunch. I think tepido naruhodo/Ken YN/LB lives in my area, but I can’t identify and confront him on this issue.
I don’t know if you might want to warn your readers that they might be stalked, or if you have ideas for other action.
COMMENT: I have been cyberstalked by these creeps (and others; there is even a site devoted to the possibility of my being Jewish merely because I’m an activist) for many years now. And I am sorry that these creeps are now trying to use the same tactics towards other posters on this site. How vicious. And hypocritical. These creeps decry their lack of freedom of speech on this blog (I no longer approve their posts here; one look at the tone and commentary on the Tepido et.al sites will give you an indication why), yet are taking action not only against me, but also against others who express themselves here, just because they don’t agree with Debito.org Readers or with me personally.
I’m no certified mental health specialist, but I would say that these anonymous creeps (who remain mostly anonymous, of course, to evade any semblance of responsibility or maturity) have an unhealthy obsession with me personally and the issues on this site. Makes one wonder if they devote any time to having a real life away from the keyboard.
I suggest that Debito.org Readers, when you post, from now on avoid using your real name. Choose a unique moniker and stick with it. Protect yourself from the shit I have to deal with on a daily basis.
Posted in debito.org blog and website biz | 69 Comments »
Posted by debito on 20th May 2011
AFP: Japanese business leaders launched a campaign Thursday to woo tourists back to Japan after the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that sent foreigners fleeing the country.
“I would like to say: Japan is safe,” said Atsutoshi Nishida, the chairman of Toshiba, told a high-powered gathering of travel and tourism executives and officials from around the world.
Accepting the group’s invitation to host the next Global Travel and Tourism Summit in Tokyo in April 2012, Nishida said he hoped to welcome participants to a Japan at “full strength” by then.
International travel to and from Japan plunged after the 9.0 magnitude quake March 11 off Sendai, Japan that sent a tsunami surging through nuclear power complexes along the coast, magnifying a disaster that killed 15,000 people. While tourism represents only a small part of economy impacted, it is an important bellwether of confidence in Japan.
In the immediate aftermath of the quake, the number of tourists arriving in the country dropped by more than 50 percent, and leisure travel collapsed by 90 percent, according to the Japanese Tourism Agency…
Japanese officials said their campaign to bring back tourism will begin with education campaigns to dispell what they say are public misperceptions about the effects of the nuclear disaster. Only later will they proceed to ad campaigns and the like to get tourists to come back, they said…
Nishida contended it was misleading to put the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear complex on a par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, telling reporters the release of radiation in that meltdown “dwarfed” the amounts released in Japan.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Tourism, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 28 Comments »
Posted by debito on 19th May 2011
hello debito. we have never met but i wanted to make you aware of a friend of mine who has been imprisoned in japan for the last 5 months without being charged. it’s a bit of a long story, but i met nathan about 4 years ago when he first came to japan from the states to pursue his photography. to make a long story short, he met a japanese woman, got her pregnant, they got married then all hell broke loose. he has been in prison for apparently trying to abduct his child and take her back to the states. until recently i had had no contact with him except a letter in which he asked me to donate money to japan’s relief effort, then i saw this video…
i am leaving japan at the end of may, so until then i will try to get his case some more attention. i hope that this message does not fall on deaf ears nor blind eyes. any suggestions are welcome, but this is more to make you aware of his situation.
all i ask is that you watch the video and perhaps forward it to anyone you think might be able to help him. thanks! sl
Posted in Child Abductions, Human Rights, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 22 Comments »
Posted by debito on 18th May 2011
Get a load of this:
Kyodo — Large numbers of foreigners will be needed to help revive the farming and fishery industries in areas damaged by the March 11 mega-quake and tsunami, the head of a reconstruction panel said Friday.
“It is important to draw human resources, including permanent foreign residents” to the hard-hit Tohoku region, Makoto Iokibe, chair of the Reconstruction Design Council, said at the Japan National Press Club.”
COMMENT: As submitter CJ commented: “What foreigner WOULDN’T leap at the opportunity to perform manual labor all day bathed in background radiation while being treated like a potential criminal and expected to leave when no longer needed, sacrificing pension contributions in the course of doing so?”
Touche. Especially since day laborers are now a hot commodity for hot radioactive reactor cleanups, see below. Get freshly-imported foreign workers doing this instead and you’ll have no family in Japan complaining…
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 16 Comments »
Posted by debito on 15th May 2011
To commemorate today, Debito.org’s 2000th blog post since 2006 (yes, it’s been almost five years since Debito.org went daily as a blog), I would like to devote the next day or two to an important discussion regarding assimilation.
I got together with some old friends for beers some time ago (we do this whenever I’m in town), who all together have a combined tenure of more than a century of experiences living in Japan. We’re all English-native Caucasian males, for what it’s worth.
Our conversation suddenly took an interesting turn when one of our group asked a poignant question:
“How many of us have any Japanese friends with whom we can get together like this and talk as much in depth?”
There was a long pause, and we all realized, when it came to Japanese males, the answer was zero. Yes, zero.
We all said we had made Japanese female friends (we are guys, after all), finding J-women more curious and open-minded than their male counterparts (and that included relationships that weren’t all physical).
But not Japanese men.
Several theories abounded…
Posted in Cultural Issue, debito.org blog and website biz, Discussions, Immigration & Assimilation | 83 Comments »
Posted by debito on 14th May 2011
Amanda Harlow: Dear Professor Dobson, I am writing to you to complain about the choice of cover design for the third edition of “Japan’s International Relations”.
This cartoon panders to the worst stereotyping of Japanese people and I feel this is a surprising choice for a respected British institution such as the University of Sheffield. If this was a mob of Japan-bashers on the streets of China, or a crazy nationalistic website I would not be surprised. But the School of East Asian Studies? Really?
Is it meant to be ironic? If so, I think this illustration would be better as an inside picture and not used on the cover of a book that is supposedly about international relations.
Here in Japan (I live in Sapporo with my Japanese husband and family) there are endless gaijin-bashing images and Debito Arudou, a friend of mine, is a well known activator on discrimination issues – if he found this image of a non-Japanese on a Japanese book cover we would all shake our heads and groan.
Can you possibly think again before publication? Sincerely, Amanda Harlow, Sapporo
Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Education, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Tangents | 20 Comments »
Posted by debito on 13th May 2011
Here’s some news dovetailing with Japan’s unwillingness to abide by international treaty.
Japan, one of the United Nations’ largest financial contributors, has been pushing hard for decades now for a seat on the U.N. Security Council (last time in 2006), effectively to have a place at the table and more powerful voting rights with fellow big, rich, powerful nations. The GOJ has even signed treaties and created domestic laws, according to scholar John M. Peek (see below), just to make it look better internationally, i.e., more like a modern, responsible nation in the international arena. However, after signing these treaties, Japan has been quite constant in its unwillingness to actually create domestic laws to enforce international agreements (cf. the CERD), or when laws are created, they have little to no enforcement power (cf. the Equal Employment Opportunity Law, which has done little after more than a quarter century to ameliorate the wide disparity in wages between men and women in Japan).
The fact is, the GOJ does this stuff for window dressing. Now once it accomplishes its goal of getting an UNSC Seat, it will have no further incentive to sign, abide by, or obey international treaties at all. We have stated this to the United Nations at every opportunity.
Which is why Britain’s sudden turnaround to support Japan’s bid is so eye-blinkingly blind. It seems we are milking our disasters (partially caused by our government’s malfeasance in the first place) to get an international sympathy vote now. How cynical and opportunistic.
Read on for an excerpt of a research paper I wrote citing Dr. Peek above, regarding the GOJ’s history of insincere negotiations vis-a-vis international human-rights agreements. I believe Japan will similarly ratify yet unfollow the Hague Convention on Child Abductions as well. And not even bother to ratify much else once it gets on the UNSC.
Posted in Child Abductions, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, United Nations | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 12th May 2011
In light of Chris Savoie’s U.S. court victory the other day, where his ex-wife was ruled guilty of inter alia false imprisonment of their kids in Japan, let’s look at the bigger picture — whether or not there will be official measures taken to stop this sort of thing happening again. One means is the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, to which Japan is not a signatory, and it shows.
Japan has once again made intimations (see JT article below) that it has plans to not only consider but even perhaps join the Convention, with a schedule of when it will perhaps join being announced this month.
This should be good news, but I’m not hopeful. Japan made similar intimations about joining this Convention more than three years ago (see Asahi article below that), so has clearly been less than keen. Moreover, during the domestic debates since then, lots of other intimations have been made that Japan will sign but will then create domestic laws and other loopholes so it doesn’t have to follow it.
This is within character. Japan has done precisely the same thing with other international agreements, including the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (signed by Japan all the way back in 1995), which has similarly been exceptionalized to the point where we have no national law in the criminal code outlawing or forbidding racial discrimination and hate speech.
The point is, I’m not hopeful. And I’ll say it again: Nobody, Japanese or NJ, should get married to a Japanese and have children under the current system in Japan. Divorce in Japan generally means one parent loses the kids. And I believe that will continue regardless of Japan’s agreeing to the Hague.
Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Japanese Government, United Nations | 13 Comments »
Posted by debito on 11th May 2011
Congratulations to Chris Savoie on his massive U.S. court victory against his ex-wife for, inter alia, false imprisonment of his children in Japan.
Debito.org has talked about the Savoie Case for quite some time now (do a search), but I devoted a Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column to it back in October 2009. I’m personally glad he’s staying the course, and seeking judicial recourse that is amounting to legally-binding agreement. This is setting an important precedent regarding the issue of international child abduction, and drawing attention to a long-neglected problem. Arudou Debito
PS: Note the lame (if not just plain inaccurate) headline by the Japan Times/Kyodo News on this, “Wife fined for taking children to Japan”; makes it sound like she got punished for being a tourist. Get on the ball. Call it what it is: Child abduction.
Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Lawsuits | 25 Comments »
Posted by debito on 10th May 2011
Hi Debito. On a visit to Kobe for Golden Week, I came across a bar worthy of your Rogues’ Gallery of exclusionary establisments. Ironically, it was a soul music bar called Soul Love, with a sign featuring album covers of soul artists, including prominent Motown acts, who presumably would not be welcome inside the bar.
〒650-0011 兵庫県神戸市中央区下山手通１丁目３－１０ TEL 078-321-6460
The bar was located on Higashimon Dori, a prominent thoroughfare in Sannomiya, one of Kobe’s major entertainment districts.
Following are links to photos I took of their sign reading ‘Excuse me Japanese people only,’ as well as the main sign for the business, which includes a phone number…
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, debito.org blog and website biz, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies | 40 Comments »
Posted by debito on 9th May 2011
Did you like my most recent Japan Times column on the “Fly-jin” bashing?
If so, please write in to the Japan Times and say so (email@example.com).
Internet bullies are writing in and once again trying to reassert their control over the debate.
Don’t let them anymore. Offer some balance.
Here’s the Rationale: [...]
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 8th May 2011
Related to the debunkable claims of “Fly-jin” NJ deserting Japan in its time of need, here is an article in the media with a survey of how NJ are actually by-and-large NOT wanting to be “Fly-jin”. Good.
The problem is, it seems (after a short search) that this article has come out in English only — there is no link to the “original Japanese story” like many Mainichi articles have. So this may sadly may not be for domestic consumption. Or it may be available on Kyodo wire services (but again, not in Japanese for Mainichi readers). Sigh
Mainichi: More than 90 percent of foreigners studying or working in Japan expressed willingness to continue staying in the country despite the March 11 disaster, according to a recent online survey by a supporting group for them.
The International Foreign Students Association conducted the survey between March 22 and 26, to which 392 people responded. Of the respondents, 60 percent were students and the remaining 40 percent were graduates, while more than 90 percent of them were from China, Taiwan and South Korea.
Those who are willing to stay in Japan said, “Because I like Japan,” or “At a time like this, I think I want to work together (with Japanese) to help the recovery,” according to the Tokyo-based nonprofit organization.
Posted in Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, NJ legacies | 4 Comments »
Posted by debito on 7th May 2011
This month’s offering is a recording of one of my speeches given in English last December at Otaru University of Commerce, Hokkaido, Japan, sponsored by Dr. Shawn Clankie. Q&A included. It’s my standard presentation on the Otaru Onsens Case with some updates (especially given that the site of the famous standoffs with “Japanese Only” bathhouses took place in this very town) on how things have or have not changed.
Two hours 20 minutes (yes, I can speak for that long, and people seem to listen). No cuts. Enjoy. You can also watch it as a youtube video with my powerpoint presentation from here.
Posted in Podcasts | 2 Comments »
Posted by debito on 6th May 2011
Forwarding from Christopher Dillon, author of “LANDED: The Guide to Buying Property in Japan“, which Debito.org recommended a year ago:
“Hi Debito, If your readers are interested in learning about the Japanese earthquake insurance system, I’ve put the insurance chapter of my book on-line here: http://dilloncommunications.com/blog/?p=2113
I’ve also included links to related information in English and Japanese. Stay safe, and congratulations on book IN APPROPRIATE.”
Posted in Practical advice | 1 Comment »
Posted by debito on 4th May 2011
JBC: The past two months have been uncomfortable for Japan, and for the country’s foreign residents. Non-Japanese (NJ) have been bashed in the media, unreservedly and undeservedly, as deserters in the face of disaster.
Consider the birth of the epithet “fly-jin.” A corruption of the racist word gaijin for foreigners, it appeared in English-language media as a label for NJ who apparently flew the coop in Japan’s time of need. The Japanese media soon developed its own variants (e.g., Nihon o saru gaikokujin), and suddenly it was open season for denigrating NJ…
I saw no articles putting things into perspective, comparing numbers of AWOL NJ with AWOL Japanese. Cowardice and desertion were linked with extranationality.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t doubt that many NJ did move due to the Tohoku disasters. But my question is: So what if they did?… Why should Japan care if NJ are leaving? Japan hasn’t exactly encouraged them to stay…
Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Labor issues, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 35 Comments »
Posted by debito on 3rd May 2011
Examiner.com: Divorce is tough, but divorce in Japan—especially if you’re a foreigner with kids—is a nightmare, explains Sapporo-based author Arudou Debito in his new book, “In Appropriate: A Novel of Culture, Kidnapping, and Revenge in Modern Japan”.
Originally raised in rural upstate New York as David Aldwinckle, Debito is a 23-year resident of Japan who obtained Japanese citizenship (and a name change) in 2000. As the Just Be Cause columnist at The Japan Times newspaper, his nonfiction books include Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants, and Japanese Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan.
A longtime watchdog for foreigners’ rights in Japan, Debito’s first English-language novel takes a scalpel to the polite, friendly façade that tourists typically experience. In Appropriate examines the downright ugly aspects of Japanese life when a father is cut from all ties with his children post-divorce, which is not only common in Japan, but upheld by 19th century law. In this exclusive interview, Debito discusses his personal experiences that inspired the book, his history as an activist, and his thoughts on the future of Japan.
Q: You’ve been known as an activist for over a decade and have published non-fiction works on the subject. What inspired you to write about child abduction in Japan, and what were your goals?
DEBITO: My goal with In Appropriate was to expose a dire social problem, as usual. But this time I thought fiction would be the better medium. Doing what I do, I hear a lot of stories about broken marriages in Japan, and having gone through a nasty divorce myself (seeing my children only about six times since 2003), I know a little bit about child abduction. What goes on in Japan beggars belief, but it’s hard to zero in on one non-fiction case and expect it to cover the scope of the problem.
Although international child abductions in other countries have gotten some press, the situation in Japan is much, much worse. Child abductions and parental alienation in Japan are, in a word, systematic—meaning they are hardly uncommon between Japanese, too (former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi is a famous example; he never saw one of his sons for nearly two decades). One parent after a divorce is generally expected to disappear, and have little to no contact with the children anymore. In Appropriate was meant as a primer to the issue.
Japan has no system of joint custody or guaranteed visitation rights, and under this system I cannot recommend anyone, Japanese or non-Japanese (NJ), get married under it and consider having children. The risk is too great. We need fundamental reform of the Family Registry System and the laws governing divorce and child custody first.
Q: Give us a basic overview on the phenomenon of kidnapping and left-behind parents in Japan….
Posted in Articles & Publications, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 1 Comment »
Posted by debito on 2nd May 2011
Out tomorrow will be my latest JUST BE CAUSE column in the Japan Times. I actually wrote a piece in defense of the so-called “Fly-jin”, the NJ who are being treated like deserters for protecting their own, deciding to put some distance between themselves and situations they consider dangerous post-Fukushima.
I ask the question: “So what if many NJ did leave Japan? Do you think Japan thus far has been all that encouraging of them to stay?”
I think some people might find this view refreshing and cathartic, given the increasing sociopathy I’m feeling within the already-disenfranchised NJ as they bully their own. 1400 words, have a look tomorrow.
UPDATE: Here it is: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110503ad.html
Posted in Articles & Publications | Comments Off