Vacationing Debito.org for the summer, my next JT column Aug 2 on “why it’s difficult to make long-term J friends as a NJ resident”

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「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. It’s that time of the year again (perfect Hokkaido summer!), and it’ll soon be time for me to jump on the bike and do the rounds.  I’ll be vacationing the blog for a little while (meaning comments will take some time to be approved; please be patient).  I will be back from time to time, with JT articles and podcasts, but barring natural disasters like last March’s we won’t be updating daily.  It’s just too nice outside and life’s too short.

Let me just mention that my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column will be a fat one (1400 words) on something we discussed here on Debito.org some weeks ago — why so many NJ long-termers seem to find it hard to find long term Japanese friends (particularly male ones).  That will be out Tuesday August 2, so enjoy!  Arudou Debito

Association for Psychological Science paper: “Ironic effects of anti-prejudice messages”; claims programs to decrease prejudices may actually increase if the prejudiced people feel they are having negative ideology forced upon them.

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「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

In this penultimate post before vacationing Debito.org for the summer, here’s some food for thought.  According to this upcoming paper, telling prejudiced people to stop being prejudicial may be less effective than spreading a message of why diversity and equality are important to people being discriminated against.  So maybe for all these years I’ve been going about this the wrong way.  Arudou Debito

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Paper: Ironic effects of anti-prejudice messages

Published in the Association for Psychological Science

Public release date: 7-Jul-2011
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-07/afps-ieo070711.php
Contact: Divya Menon dmenon@psychologicalscience.org, courtesy Olaf

Organizations and programs have been set up all over the globe in the hopes of urging people to end prejudice. According to a research article, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, such programs may actually increase prejudices.

Lisa Legault, Jennifer Gutsell and Michael Inzlicht, from the University of Toronto Scarborough, were interested in exploring how one’s everyday environment influences people’s motivation toward prejudice reduction.

The authors conducted two experiments which looked at the effect of two different types of motivational intervention – a controlled form (telling people what they should do) and a more personal form (explaining why being non-prejudiced is enjoyable and personally valuable).

In experiment one; participants were randomly assigned one of two brochures to read: an autonomy brochure or a controlling brochure. These brochures discussed a new campus initiative to reduce prejudice. A third group was offered no motivational instructions to reduce prejudice. The authors found that, ironically, those who read the controlling brochure later demonstrated more prejudice than those who had not been urged to reduce prejudice. Those who read the brochure designed to support personal motivation showed less prejudice than those in the other two groups.

In experiment two, participants were randomly assigned a questionnaire, designed to stimulate personal or controlling motivation to reduce prejudice. The authors found that those who were exposed to controlling messages regarding prejudice reduction showed significantly more prejudice than those who did not receive any controlling cues.

The authors suggest that when interventions eliminate people’s freedom to value diversity on their own terms, they may actually be creating hostility toward the targets of prejudice.

According to Dr. Legault, “Controlling prejudice reduction practices are tempting because they are quick and easy to implement. They tell people how they should think and behave and stress the negative consequences of failing to think and behave in desirable ways.” Legault continues, “But people need to feel that they are freely choosing to be nonprejudiced, rather than having it forced upon them.”

Legault stresses the need to focus less on the requirement to reduce prejudices and start focusing more on the reasons why diversity and equality are important and beneficial to both majority and minority group members.

###
For more information about this study, please contact: Lisa Legault at lisa.legault@utoronto.ca.

The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article “Ironic Effects of Anti-Prejudice Messages: How Motivational Interventions Can Reduce (but also increase) Prejudice” and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Divya Menon at dmenon@psychologicalscience.org.

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 18, 2011

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 18, 2011

Table of Contents:

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DEEP THOUGHTS FROM DEEP THINKERS
1) M.G. “Bucky” Sheftall academic paper on “Shattered Gods” and the dying mythology of “Japaneseness”
2) Peter Tasker in Foreign Policy Magazine: “Japan will rebuild, but not how you think”.
Takes opportunity of Japan’s worst postwar disaster to re-advance outmoded Chrysanthemum Club-ism.
3) Terrie’s Take on how Japanese companies are too “addicted” to cheap Chinese “Trainee” labor to hire unemployed Japanese
4) Donald Keene prattles on about why he’s naturalizing in SAPIO, even takes a cheap shot at NJ
5) Tokyo Gov Ishihara bids for 2020 Olympics through earthquake sympathy vote; also calls for Japan to have nukes, military conscription, and military-led government

THE MONTHLY MODICUM OF BAD SOCIAL SCIENCE
6) Bad social paradigms encouraging bad social science: UC Berkeley prof idiotically counts “flyjin” for H-Japan listserv
7) Reuters Expose: Japan’s ‘throwaway’ nuclear workers, including NJ “temporary temps”
8 ) 2011’s annual GOJ Spot the Illegal Alien campaign enlists Tokyo Metro, deputizes general public with posters of cute and compliant NJ

LET’S NOT LEAVE OUT EXCLUSIONISM
9) Zaitokukai Neonazis march in Tokyo Shibuya July 9, 2011, with ugly invective
10) BV inter alia on J bureaucrat exclusionary attitudes when registering his newborn multicultural child at Shibuya Kuyakusho
11) Mark Austin reports that Otaru, site of the famous onsen lawsuit, still has a “Japanese Only” establishment, “Monika”
12) Kyodo: Soccer S-Pulse coach Ghotbi wants to meet banned fans over racial banner
13) Joel Legendre-Koizumi on the J media’s blackout on PM Kan’s proposals

PORTENTS OF THE FUTURE
14) Adidas assesses the “history of poor treatment of migrant workers in Japan”, now monitoring JITCO in conjunction with other major overseas outsourcers
15) US State Department report 2011: “Japan’s Foreign trainee program ‘like human trafficking'”
16) Asahi: NJ Nurse trainees leave Japan despite 1-year extension to taking qualifying test
17) Quoted in Asia Weekly: “Falling birthrate, rising life expectancy afflict Japan”
18 ) Child Abductions Issue: How Japan’s debate on defining “Domestic Violence”, the loophole in enforcing the Hague Treaty, is heading in the wrong direction
19) Weekend Tangent: The euphoria of collective attack and parental alienation syndrome

PODCASTS
20) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 14 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on naturalizing in Japan (part 1 of 3)
21) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 21 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on J naturalization process (part 2 of 3)
22) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 28 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on naturalizing and name changes in Japan (part 3 of 3)
23) PODCAST: NPR All Things Considered on Arudou Debito’s naturalization July 3, 2003
24) PODCAST: NPR All Things Considered on Brooklynite Anthony Bianchi’s election to Inuyama City Council, April 30, 2003
25) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JULY 1, 2011: FCCJ Book Break on IN APPROPRIATE, June 28, 2011

… and finally…
26) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column July 5, 2011: “Lives such as Daniel’s deserve to be honored in these pages”
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By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
Podcast subscription available on iTunes (search term Debito.org), RSS feed at debito.org, Twitter arudoudebito.
Freely Forwardable

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DEEP THOUGHTS FROM DEEP THINKERS

1) M.G. “Bucky” Sheftall academic paper on “Shattered Gods” and the dying mythology of “Japaneseness”

What follows is an academic paper that changed my world view about Japan earlier this year. Written by friend M.G. “Bucky” Sheftall, and presented at the Association of Asian Studies annual convention in Honolulu, Hawaii, on April 3, 2011, it talks about how Japan’s culture is dysfunctional and, put more metaphysically, unable to fill the need of a people to “deny death”. This will on the surface be difficult to wrap one’s head around, so read on, open the mind wide, and take it all in. Reprinted here with permission of the author and revised specially for Debito.org. Concentrate. It’s like a dense episode of the X-Files. And it will raise fundamental questions in your mind about whether it’s worth one’s lifetime doing service to and learning about a dying system, which is ascriptive and exclusionary in nature, yet essentially serving nobody.

Sheftall: In a single paragraph of brutal candor, Richie verbalized a certain metaphysical malaise in the Japanese condition that I had been vaguely aware of since arriving in the country in 1987. Outside of the jeremiads and diatribes of right-wing pundits, this metaphysical malaise (or lacuna, as I have referred to it above) is generally kept politely hidden — like an embarrassing family secret jealously protected — although I had caught many glimpses and snippets of it here and there during my long years in Japan, most often and vividly in the sake-lubricated lamentations of older Japanese men (especially those old enough to remember life when the Meiji cosmology was still vibrant and functional). Moreover, it explained the grievously conflicted belief systems (i.e., torn between lingering loyalty to the Meiji cosmology vs. necessary adjustments to the undeniable realities of the postwar present) I had observed to more or less of a degree among virtually all of the Japanese war veteran subjects of my ethnographic project. My subjects had gradually revealed their lingering emotional turmoil over the collapse of the Meiji cosmology to me over our months and years of acquaintance with displays ranging from self-deprecating humor and passive resignation on some occasions, to painful and unrestrained expressions of profound grief, humiliation, and snarling hinekuri resentment on others. But it was not until I encountered Richie’s passage — which is worth quoting at length here — that I could really grasp the “pathology”, if you will, of this “metaphysical malaise”:

Richie: “In the decades following the war Japan has vastly improved in all ways but one. No substitute has ever been discovered for the certainty that this people enjoyed until the summer of 1945 … Japan suffered a trauma that might be compared to that of the individual believer who suddenly finds himself an atheist. Japan lost its god, and the hole left by a vanished deity remains. The loss was not the emperor, a deity suddenly lost through his precipitate humanization. It was, however, everything for which he and his whole ordered, pre-war empire had stood. It was certainty itself that was lost. And this is something that the new post-war world could not replace”(120-121).

http://www.debito.org/?p=9147

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2) Peter Tasker in Foreign Policy Magazine: “Japan will rebuild, but not how you think”.
Takes opportunity of Japan’s worst postwar disaster to re-advance outmoded Chrysanthemum Club-ism.

To take us through the holiday weekend (and shortly before I vacation this blog for the summer), let’s have a discussion about this article by Peter Tasker which achieved a prominent spot in a prominent policymaker’s magazine.

The article offers hope that Japan will rebuild. But it also cherry-picks economic statistics to show that Japan isn’t as bad economically as all that (he even dismisses the “Lost Decade(s)”; does Mr. Tasker get out of Tokyo much?). And, more oddly, he takes the opportunity of Japan’s worst postwar disaster to swipe at the “Revisionists” (the contrapose to the “Chrysanthemum Club”), particularly the late Chalmers Johnson. The C-Club, a group of scholars with great sway in US-Japan Relations for just about the entire Postwar Era, generally tends to explain away most of Japan’s disinclination to follow international rules and norms by citing their own conjured-up sacerdotal cultural oddities and esoterica (or, less charitably, “intellectual chicanery” and “uncritical apolog[ism] for Japan”). It preys on the fact that it knows more Japanese words and concepts than most Western readers do, and cites them even if they aren’t grounded in much. And woe betide any competing point of view to come in and spoil the US-Japan Relationship love-in.

True to form, in the best rewarmed Reishauer, Mr. Tasker acclaims the country’s “extraordinary social cohesion and stoicism” in the name of “social stability” and “national self-respect”, thanks to “mutual respect, not victory in competition”, and of course, “gaman” and “shimaguni konjo”. This overseas school of thought once again portrays poor, poor Japan as perpetually misunderstood by the West, not as a corporatist state that serves its citizenry at times pretty poorly and seeks little consent from its governed. As Japan’s per capita incomes keep dropping, people (particularly new employment market entrants) find themselves less able to advance or improve their lives, the flaws of the state have come ever more into stark relief thanks to Fukushima.

For this time, Fukushima’s increasing radiation exposure is not something that can wait like a regular disaster (such as the slow recovery efforts after the Kobe Earthquake of 1995). Meanwhile, the ineffectual state keeps covering up information, shifting safety standards for radioactivity, and exposes more people and the international food chain to accumulating toxin. Yet it’s this much-vaunted public “stoicism” (as opposed to feelings of powerlessness and futility) that is precisely what will do people in. Mr. Tasker’s citing of the alleged common belief that “the janitor in your apartment building is not a representative of ‘the other’. He is you.” may be something the Japanese are being told to tell themselves (although I can’t find any sources for that), but I don’t believe this attitude will going to be a constructive source for recovery this time. Fukushima will, however, eventually become a source of “grand-mal victimization”, as a substitute for solution and revolution, as the malcontents who might do something will give up and/or just flee. We will quite possibly see an exodus (if there isn’t an unreported one going on already) of Japanese (which has happened periodically before during the other times Japan’s economic system broke down; hence the immigrant Japanese communities in places like South America, Hawaii, and California) from this system which quite simply cannot fix itself, and the people feel powerless to demand better even as they get slowly poisoned.

The difference this time is that the breakdown in the state is spreading toxins beyond its own borders, unabated four months later, with no end in sight. I wonder if Mr. Tasker would offer any revisions to his article now. But I doubt it. His politics come through pretty clearly below.

Finally, in contrapose to the media’s much vaunted “Japanese earthquake without looting” canard, I enclose at the very bottom two articles for the record substantiating ATM machine and convenience store theft in the earthquake areas. A friend also noted a Kyodo wire entitled “684 million yen stolen from ATMs in hardest-hit prefectures” that made the July 16 Japan Times but he says can’t be found archived anywhere. “Stoicism and social cohesion”? People are people. Shit happens and people react. Let’s not obfuscate this with cultural canards aiming at advancing the outdated politics and analytical rubric of the Chrysanthemum Club.

http://www.debito.org/?p=9248

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3) Terrie’s Take on how Japanese companies are too “addicted” to cheap Chinese “Trainee” labor to hire unemployed Japanese

Received this this morning from Terrie Lloyd. Very much worth reading, as it shows the damage done by the market aberration (if you believe in free markets as the final arbiter of fairness) of holding labor costs artificially low — you get resistance to ever raising them again once business gets used to those costs as being “normal”. As wages and working conditions in Japan continue their race to the bottom, it seems that two decades of NJ “Trainee” near-slave and slave labor will come back to haunt the Japanese economy after all.

Terrie Lloyd: According to an article in the Japan Times on Thursday, quoting numbers from a Labor Ministry report released earlier in the week, there are now 2.02m people in Japan receiving welfare checks, more than any time since 1952. “Welfare” in Japan is apparently defined as financial assistance offered by the government to a household when its total income falls below the national minimum.

Presumably a big contributor to this record number of needy people has been the Great East Japan earthquake in March. The level of joblessness has soared to around 90% of employable survivors in the worst hit areas, and by the end of May about 110,000 were out of work and applying for the dole at various Hello Work offices in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures.

So, one would think that with this excess capacity of workers, many of whom are from the agricultural, fisheries, and manufacturing industries, juxtaposed with the phenomenon of disappearing Chinese trainee workers from factories around the same regions, less than half of whom are yet to return, that there would be a slew of local hirings to make up the shortfall. Certainly after the Chinese trainees fled the disaster areas, there were plenty of news reports of employers grumpily saying, “We can’t trust Chinese employees, next time we’ll hire locals.”

But are they following through with local hiring offers? Our guess is “not”.

The reason is because a Japanese breadwinner from Iwate on unemployment, or even welfare, can still receive 2-5 times more than the Chinese trainees do for the same jobs. The factory and farm operators may grizzle about their “unreliable” Chinese employees, but without this source of ultra-cheap labor, they have no way of being able to compete with the flood of goods and produce coming in from China itself. The fact is that thousands of small companies all over Japan are addicted to cheap trainee labor from China and elsewhere, and to go local they would soon go out of business…

http://www.debito.org/?p=9108

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4) Donald Keene prattles on about why he’s naturalizing in SAPIO, even takes a cheap shot at NJ

Here we have Donald Keene, our newest future Japanese naturalized citizen at age 88, prattling on in Sapio about how nice and wonderful Japanese society and culture is (citing things that happened a generation or two ago), and how he’s happy to become part of a culture so rich and able to regenerate itself after the tsunami (despite, he laments, the lack of domestic interest in Japanese culture by Japanese people; clearly in Donald’s world, culture makes the man).

This is all excusable as harmless personal preference and geriatric navel-gazing except, at the bottom of the first page, his cheap and ignorant swipe at non-Japanese (who, allegedly after coming here to make money, flee in the face of danger). Perhaps if he had had the same stake as younger people who live here full-time and languish in less elite jobs, he might understand better why some people didn’t stay in Japan, as I argued in this Japan Times column. No matter. (Oh, and we won’t deal with ongoing events and lies from Fukushima; criticism of Japan would annoy Donald’s hosts and spoil the Sapio article.)

I guess it just goes to show you that grumpy old men regardless of nationality have to latch onto the “good old days” somewhere; fortunately our Donald feels like he has a culture and a circle of friends here that encourage that. Enjoy yourself here, Donald. Just don’t bad-mouth other people who are also coming here and trying to make a life, even if eventually they decide that there are greener pastures and fairer opportunities elsewhere. At 88, you won’t have to endure Japan’s non-academic workplace culture, let alone be on this mortal coil long enough, for any denouement.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8999

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5) Tokyo Gov Ishihara bids for 2020 Olympics through earthquake sympathy vote; also calls for Japan to have nukes, military conscription, and military-led government

Okay, Tokyo, you asked for this when you revoted in this creep for a fourth term last April. Now not only is racist xenophobe and Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro using the Tohoku Earthquake (which he originally called “divine retribution for Japan’s egoism”) as sympathy fodder for a renewed Olympic bid, but also, according to ANN News, he is calling for Japan to have nuclear weapons (in order to be taken seriously on the world stage, comparing it to a Mah-Jong game), military conscription, and even a military government!

Well, in my view this was only a matter of time, especially since Ishihara, if he’s not just flat-out senile, is of a generation (the Showa Hitoketa) which venerates Japan’s military past without actually serving in the military and experiencing the horrors of the Pacific War. He’s basically a warrior of words. And, again, the Tokyo electorate keeps putting him in a place where he can use those words for great effect and audience. Including advocating siphoning off funds from disaster reconstruction for the purpose of circus.

Yomiuri: Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has expressed his intention to bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics… The message that Tokyo wants to host the 2020 Games as proof of Japan’s recovery from the catastrophic earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis — just as the 1964 Tokyo Olympics were symbolic of the nation’s rebuilding from the ashes of World War II … will likely be able to obtain empathy from many countries…

Nation must be united…

We realize the government must currently place top priority on securing funds to finance restoration and reconstruction projects from the March 11 disaster. But sooner or later the government will need to clarify its stance toward hosting the Olympics in this country.

The government should proactively study the feasibility of hosting the 2020 Games in tandem with such bodies as the Tokyo metropolitan government and Japanese Olympic Committee.

http://www.debito.org/?p=9132

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THE MONTHLY MODICUM OF BAD SOCIAL SCIENCE

6) Bad social paradigms encouraging bad social science: UC Berkeley prof idiotically counts “flyjin” for H-Japan listserv

I have a real rib-tickler for you today. Here we have an academic employed at UC Berkeley trying to squeeze flawed data into an already flawed paradigm — not just that of “gaijin” [sic], but also of “flyjin” — as she goes around Tokyo counting NJ as if they were rare birds (or, rather, rarer birds, according to her presumptions under the rubric).

I raise this on Debito.org because it’s amazing how stupid concepts from Planet Japan somehow manage to entice apparently educated people elsewhere to follow suit, and… I’ll just stop commenting and let you read the rest:

==========================
H-JAPAN (E)
June 19, 2011
From: Dana Buntrock, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley

For those of you who have not yet returned to Japan since 3/11, it may be helpful to understand how significant the absence of “gaijin” is in the capital, a point noted more than once on this list.

I am using the term “gaijin” here to refer to racially differentiated (non-Asian) individuals, including those who appear to be from the Indian subcontinent. If mixed-race children were with a non-Asian parent, I counted them. I also counted one woman in a version of the headscarf worn by Moslem women, seen from behind, and her child (in a stroller), because the attire was clearly non-Japanese in nature. That is, I tended to err on the side of counting individuals as being foreign…
==========================

OKAY, ONE MORE COMMENT FROM DEBITO: It’s also disappointing to see the racial term “gaijin” thusly being picked up unproblematized in academic circles, but that’s a long-standing terminology that people just seem to laugh off as grounded in general use. But see how it feeds into a general idiocracy and flawed paradigms vis-a-vis scholarship on Japan?

http://www.debito.org/?p=9123

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7) Reuters Expose: Japan’s ‘throwaway’ nuclear workers, including NJ “temporary temps”

Here is a deep article from Reuters this month on how deep the rot goes in Japan’s labor market and safety practices regarding nuclear power. It’s germane to Debito.org because even NJ workers have been hired and exposed to radiation in Japan — without proper recordkeeping. Guess that’s one of the advantages of utilizing NJ laborers — they are the “temp temps” (my term) that escape any official scrutiny because imported labor “sent home” after use is somebody else’s problem.

Reuters: [I]n 1997, the effort to save the 21-year-old [Fukushima] reactor from being scrapped at a large loss to its operator, Tokyo Electric, also included a quiet effort to skirt Japan’s safety rules: foreign workers were brought in for the most dangerous jobs, a manager of the project said.

“It’s not well known, but I know what happened,” Kazunori Fujii, who managed part of the shroud replacement in 1997, told Reuters. “What we did would not have been allowed under Japanese safety standards.”

The previously undisclosed hiring of welders from the United States and Southeast Asia underscores the way Tokyo Electric, a powerful monopoly with deep political connections in Japan, outsourced its riskiest work and developed a lax safety culture in the years leading to the Fukushima disaster, experts say…

At Fukushima in 1997, Japanese safety rules were applied in a way that set very low radiation exposure limits on a daily basis, Fujii said. That was a prudent step, safety experts say, but it severely limited what Japanese workers could do on a single shift and increased costs.

The workaround was to bring in foreign workers who would absorb a full-year’s allowable dose of radiation of between 20 millisieverts and 25 millisieverts in just a few days…

It is not clear if the radiation doses for the foreign workers were recorded on an individual basis or if they have faced any heath problems. Tepco said it had no access to the worker records kept by its subcontractors. IHI said it had no record of the hiring of the foreign workers. Toshiba, another major contractor, also said it could not confirm that foreign workers were hired.

http://www.debito.org/?p=9162

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8 ) 2011’s annual GOJ Spot the Illegal Alien campaign enlists Tokyo Metro, deputizes general public with posters of cute and compliant NJ

It’s that time of the year again, when the GOJ has its monthlong campaign to enlist the general public in spotting illegal aliens. Just to make sure that anyone can feel empowered to do Immigration’s job to spot check a NJ’s Gaijin Card (when, according to the Gaitouhou, only officials given policing powers by the MOJ are empowered to demand this form of ID), here we have a poster in a public place, issued by Tokyo Metro, with all sorts of cutesy NJ happily complying with the rigmarole. After all, the small print notes that that these NJ are causing “all kinds of problems” (well, at least they’re being less demonized this time; making them well dressed and cute was a nice touch). And also after all, the slogan is “ru-ru o mamotte kokusaika” (internationalization done by the rules); which is fine, except it would be nice if the police followed their own rules regarding enforcement of Gaijin Card checks. Poster follows, received June 23, 2011.

http://www.debito.org/?p=9156

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LET’S NOT LEAVE OUT EXCLUSIONISM

9) Zaitokukai Neonazis march in Tokyo Shibuya July 9, 2011, with ugly invective

Once again we have the Zaitokukai demonstrating in Shibuya last Saturday, once again blurring the line between freedom of speech and the expression of racist hate speech. As hate speech in Japan is not an illegal activity (and a debate with our Resident Gaijin Handler last April had him making contrary yet ultimately unsubstantiated claims; let me head him off at the pass here), this will continue, and quite possibly continue to legitimize and foment, public expressions of xenophobia in Japan, and the perpetual unappreciation of NJ as residents, taxpayers, and mere human beings. Here’s the video, and here’s another video with them getting violent towards somebody, date and more details unclear. Very ugly stuff. And it will continue, if not get worse, until hate speech and the concomitant violence is made illegal.

http://www.debito.org/?p=9224

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10) BV inter alia on J bureaucrat exclusionary attitudes when registering his newborn multicultural child at Shibuya Kuyakusho

BV’s crie du coeur: A few weeks ago my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Not a “half” (I am British, my wife is Japanese) but a “full” person we hope will have a wonderful bicultural future. I felt encouraged when my Japanese father-in -law, who is in his 70s, beamed at her and me and said “nice mikksu!” …

But when my wife broached the subject of [our daughter’s] dual nationality with the [Shibuya Ward Office] official, the tone turned hard.

“No, she can only be registered in your name.” What about her dual nationality “No, she has no dual nationality. She is Japanese.”

Until this point, I could understand the position of the official. Not support it, but I could see the point of view. We need as many new kids as possible. This is Japan. We think she is Japanese. But it was the following elements that really angered my wife:

But as the father is English, doesn’t she get a choice? she asked.

“No, she is Japanese. This is not like America, you know, where anyone can get nationality just by being born there,” the bureaucrat spat out, obviously scornfully.

“This is JAPAN. She has Japanese blood. She is Japanese.” (My emphasis, but I could hear the horrible little person on the other end of the phone…)

Wife: But can’t she choose later?

“No, she is Japanese!”

My wife shouted down the phone to the effect of: “How dare you tell me my daughter’s business? She can be Japanese or English, or both if she wants, because she can keep both passports.”

She cut the phone and looked at me. She said: “The Japanese system is broken.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=9201

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11) Mark Austin reports that Otaru, site of the famous onsen lawsuit, still has a “Japanese Only” establishment, “Monika”

Mark Austin: On Monday evening, after I’d visited the onsen at the Dormy Inn, where I was staying, I asked a receptionist at the hotel if she could recommend a pub or bar where I could have a beer and something to eat. She pointed me in the direction of the area west of the railway. I walked there and found loads of “snack” bars, which I didn’t want to enter. Then I found Monika and was told by a Mr. XXXXX that I wasn’t welcome there.

I pointed out to Mr. XXXXX (in Japanese) that his refusal to serve me constituted racial discrimination (I used the phrase “jinshu sabetsu”) and he agreed that it was, and defended this by merely saying, “Ma, sho ga nai.”

After about 10 minutes, I gave up (politely) arguing with Mr. XXXXX and left…

As an employee of the Otaru Tourism Association, I’m sure you’ll agree that your job description is to try to boost the local economy as much as possible by advertising the many attractions of Otaru, a beautiful city with a rich history in which foreigners played an important part from the late 19th century, to Japanese and non-Japanese people alike. In Otaru, foreigners (residents and tourists) and Japanese spend the same currency — yen. Is it asking too much that we be treated the same, as far as possible?

http://www.debito.org/?p=9187

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12) Kyodo: Soccer S-Pulse coach Ghotbi wants to meet banned fans over racial banner

We have some proactive treatment against discrimination towards a NJ coach in Japan’s soccer leagues. Witness the reaction of other fans towards a nasty fan banner singling him out by his nationality, attributing to him behavior that is unrelated and unwarranted: criticism and the taking of responsibility. Good. Regardless of whether one might argue this actually constitutes “racism” or not, it is still indicative of the zero tolerance of discrimination that should be (and is, under FIFA) a hallmark of world sport leagues worldwide, including Japan’s.

I am, however, of two minds about manager Ghotbi meeting the nasty fans to somehow enlighten them. It on one hand seems a good PR strategy — engage and convince the nasties that their targets are humans with feelings after all. On the other hand, it may encourage other trolls who want attention (not to mention get a meeting with a famous NJ — just insult them and you get an audience) to do the same thing — and enough of these banners and people may start claiming “cultural misunderstandings” as justification (you get that with nasty slogans against NJ in Japanese baseball, e.g., the racist banners against Warren Cromartie). In my experience it doesn’t always work to talk to discriminators (sometimes their names exposed to social opprobrium is enough), but sometimes it does, and at least there is social opprobrium and media attention this time. Let’s keep an eye on this and see how it flies. Hopefully buds get nipped.

Kyodo: Shimizu S-Pulse manager Afshin Ghotbi has turned the other cheek toward two Jubilo fans who have been indefinitely banished from Iwata games for hoisting a racially motivated banner in the Shizuoka derby two weeks ago, wanting to meet them to try to raise international awareness throughout the J-League.

The two teenage Jubilo supporters were outlawed by their club on Monday after writing a banner that read, ”Ghotbi, stop making nuclear weapons,” in the May 28 J-League contest between Shimizu and Iwata at Outsourcing Stadium… Ghotbi, the ex-Iran national coach who is in his first season in Japan at Shimizu, is Iranian-American…

Yet rather than further fry the two fans amid arguably the nastiest controversy between the Shizuoka-based clubs, [Ghotbi] wants a clear-the-air meeting with the pair to stamp out racism in the J-League for good…

http://www.debito.org/?p=9085

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13) Joel Legendre-Koizumi on the J media’s blackout on PM Kan’s proposals

JLK, on PM Kan June 28, 2011 press conference: Unbelievable! Most questions were mere bullying and nothing concrete. Except the Mainichi and two free lance reporters the rest was on a hunt on the chief of the government. Media played themselves the Nagatacho’s game. I was shocked to see that the only of the 2 good questions asked to PM Kan was by Mr. Shimada, a free lance reporter. A good validated comment and question about actions since and after the triple catastrophes (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear contamination) and how Japan’s social aspect has changed since 3/11 and the implications in actions and behaviors of the society. Kan started to answer on his philosophy and his expectation regarding Japanese population and I really noticed he was continuing explaining and elaborating his ruling concrete plan. Fabulous. But then NHK TV suddenly cut the answers of Prime Minister Kan — very articulated ones. He offered a vision of the present and the future after these exceptional disaster circumstances, I was astonished by Kan’s words.

So now, it’s clear. One knows one cannot truly rely on kisha clubs press releases. Luckily but minor impact, Kan’s comment is available on the web page of the Kantei. Now !! Why on earth do the media shut up the prime minister when he is presenting the most important policy speech of reconstruction after Japan chaos of March 11? Would the US cut B. Obama at a major speech? Would France cut N. Sarkozy live talks on such issues? During a press conf?…

http://www.debito.org/?p=9167

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PORTENTS OF THE FUTURE

14) Adidas assesses the “history of poor treatment of migrant workers in Japan”, now monitoring JITCO in conjunction with other major overseas outsourcers

Supplementing yesterday’s report from Terrie Lloyd, concerning the aberrations from Japan’s addiction to underpaid NJ labor, Adidas (yes, the sports goods maker) suggests, as submitter Crustpunker says, “It is more or less common knowledge what goes on here regarding migrant workers I mean, ‘trainees’.”

Talk about an open secret. It only took about two decades for the GOJ to amend the laws, of course so Japan’s industry (not to mention overseas sourcers) got away with plenty while the going was good. Nevertheless, no doubt we’ll soon have laments in the Japanese media about how our industry must now suffer since either a) Japanese are underemployed, or b) Japanese industry is being hurt by NJ labor refusing to be exploited anymore. Sob away.

Adidas concludes: There is, regrettably, a history of poor treatment of migrant workers in Japan and it is not a situation which will change overnight, even with this new legislation. So we recognise that we have a role to play in improving the system for migrant workers. In collaboration with several other brands including Nike, Gap and Disney, the adidas Group has set up quarterly meetings with Japanese vendors, suppliers, government representatives and JITCO. Working together the brands are helping to bring more transparency to the Intern Training Programme and establish a standard for acceptable recruitment fees as well as offer capacity building and training on applying the immigration and labour laws.

http://www.debito.org/?p=9116

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15) US State Department report 2011: “Japan’s Foreign trainee program ‘like human trafficking'”

Yomiuri: Regarding conditions for foreign trainees in Japan, the [US State Department] noted “the media and NGOs continued to report abuses including debt bondage, restrictions on movement, unpaid wages, overtime, fraud and contracting workers out to different employers — elements which contribute to situations of trafficking.” The Japanese government has not officially recognized the existence of such problems, the report said. It also said Japan “did not identify or provide protection to any victims of forced labor.”

Asahi: The report said, “Japan is a destination, source, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking… The State Department recommended the Japanese government strengthen efforts to investigate, prosecute and punish acts of forced labor, including those that fall within the foreign trainee program.

COMMENT: The U.S. State Department report text in full included in this blog entry.

http://www.debito.org/?p=9171

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16) Asahi: NJ Nurse trainees leave Japan despite 1-year extension to taking qualifying test

The GOJ is trying to plug the leak of NJ trainee nurses leaving Japan despite their best efforts on the qualifying exam. But after all these years of insufficient institutional support, it’s too little, too late, and disorganized at that; according to the Asahi article below, morale is clearly low for them. Mayhaps the jig is up, and word is getting round at last that the NJ nurse training program was after all just another guise for a revolving-door labor force?

Asahi: Many Indonesian nurse trainees who failed their exams have returned home amid confusion over who would be allowed to stay for another year to retake the test.

The government decided to allow 68 of the 78 Indonesians who failed this year’s nursing exam to stay and take another exam next year. But 25 of the 91 Indonesians who took the exam in March have already left.

“I first heard about an extended stay some time ago, but I was not given any details,” said a woman in her 30s who failed the exam and left in April. “After all, I think we are not needed.”…

[Another] woman, who failed in the exam by a slight margin, knew she could be allowed to stay. But she said she has lost her enthusiasm to work in Japan because of a lack of support from the government.

http://www.debito.org/?p=9095

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17) Quoted in Asia Weekly: “Falling birthrate, rising life expectancy afflict Japan”

China Daily/Asia Weekly: An obvious concern is whether fewer tax-paying workers will be able to support more benefit-claiming retirees. Japan’s healthy personal savings may help in that regard. A more human question is, “Who will provide the daily care the elderly require?”…

In 2010, of the 257 Filipinos who took the [qualifying exam to become a healthcare worker in Japan], only one passed. The success rate for Filipinos and Indonesians over the first two years of the program was also less than 1 percent, prompting some to regard the exam as a contrivance designed to restrict foreign professionals’ period of stay.

“Japan has long maintained a tacit revolving-door policy for migrant labor,” says Arudou Debito, a naturalized- Japanese human-rights activist and researcher on internationalization.

“The Japanese government imports cheap young workers during their most productive labor years, but under short-term work visa regimes to ensure they don’t settle here. In that sense, what is happening to the caregivers and nurses is completely within character.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=9176

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18 ) Child Abductions Issue: How Japan’s debate on defining “Domestic Violence”, the loophole in enforcing the Hague Treaty, is heading in the wrong direction

Here is a report from a Debito.org reader who translates how the debate on Domestic Violence in Japan (being cited as a reason to create loopholes in Japan’s enforcement of the upcoming signatory status with the Hague Treaty on Child Abductions) is being stretched to justify just about any negative behavior (including non-tactile acts) as “violent”. And note how the checklist of “violent” acts below approaches the issue with the woman as perpetual victim and the man as perpetrator. If accepted as the standard definition, imagine just how much further this will weaken the fathers’ position in any Japanese divorce negotiation.

NGO Sayasaya: Checklist for Women
Please check any of these if you have experienced them:

He sulks if I deviate in any way from what he has requested of me.
He quickly blames me whenever something goes wrong.
When I go out alone, he calls my cell phone regularly.
He is reluctant to associate with my friends and parents.
He is angry if I come home late…

Checklist for Men
Please check any of these if you have experienced them:

I have yelled at her.
I wish that she would only have eyes for me.
Sometimes I don’t answer her when she wants to talk to me.
While speaking with her, I have stood up and got close to her.
She has thought that I made fun of her…

Source: Dr. Numazaki Ichirou “Why Do men choose violence?”

According to Professor Numazaki, the producer of this list, a check mark next to even ONE item indicates a DV event. (For women who checked off one item, they have been a victim of DV and, for men, any checks indicate that that man was a perpetrator of DV.)

http://www.debito.org/?p=9099

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19) Weekend Tangent: The euphoria of collective attack and parental alienation syndrome

As a Weekend Tangent, and a corollary to yesterday’s blog post about the debate on definitions of Domestic Violence in Japan, here is a discussion from a psychologist on what sort of person will probably be most likely to take advantage of “violence” that is not physically violent in nature: a bully, who uses collective attack and parental alienation as a means to extract revenge on a spouse. Under Japan’s increasingly blurry definitions of serious matters of violent behavior, this means that bullies will also be able to enlist the authorities’ help in carrying out their bullying.

Psychologist: The emotionally abusive bully who engages in mobbing (or parental alienation) revels in the excitement produced by their animosity. It produces a pleasurable buzz or rush in them. Westhues (2002) refers to this as “the euphoria of collective attack.”

Parental Alienation and Personality Disorders…

http://www.debito.org/?p=9103

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PODCASTS

20) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 14 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on naturalizing in Japan (part 1 of 3)

ARUDOU DEBITO ON JAPANESE NATURALIZATION PROCESS. Writeup from KQED-FM, San Francisco NPR:

“Pacific Time correspondent Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan, gives the first of three talks on the why and how of the process he underwent as a Caucasian American to become a naturalized Japanese citizen.”

Duration four minutes, broadcast on KQED-FM’s Pacific Time weekly radio segment December 14, 2000.

This is a time capsule of attitudes a decade ago, mere weeks after becoming a Japanese citizen, part one of three. Enjoy.

http://www.debito.org/?p=9208

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21) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 21 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on J naturalization process (part 2 of 3)

http://www.debito.org/?p=9210

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22) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 28 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on naturalizing and name changes in Japan (part 3 of 3)

http://www.debito.org/?p=9212

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23) PODCAST: NPR All Things Considered on Arudou Debito’s naturalization July 3, 2003

ARUDOU DEBITO ON JAPANESE NATURALIZATION. Writeup from NPR’s “All Things Considered” program:

“NPR’s Eric Weiner tells the story of David Aldwinckle, a New York native who has taken the rare step of becoming a citizen of Japan. An outspoken man, David Aldwinckle rejects the notion that there’s one Japanese way of doing anything — an attitude that gets him into trouble sometimes. Yet he was able to get through the rigorous process of securing Japanese citizenship.”

Duration 4 minutes 45 seconds, broadcast on National Public Radio July 3, 2003. Enjoy!

http://www.debito.org/?p=9214

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24) PODCAST: NPR All Things Considered on Brooklynite Anthony Bianchi’s election to Inuyama City Council, April 30, 2003

NPR ON BROOKLYNITE ANTHONY BIANCHI’S ELECTION TO INUYAMA CITY COUNCIL, broadcast on National Public Radio April 30, 2003. Writeup from NPR:

“NPR’s Melissa Block talks with Tony Bianchi, a Brooklyn native who was elected to the Inuyama city council in Japan last Sunday, about his campaign and its outcome. Bianchi is a naturalized Japanese citizen and the first person of North American origin ever to be elected to public office in Japan.”

Duration 4 minutes 15 seconds. Enjoy!

http://www.debito.org/?p=9219

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25) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JULY 1, 2011: FCCJ Book Break on IN APPROPRIATE, June 28, 2011

In this podcast: Book Break at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan on my new book “IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan”. June 28, 2011, Tokyo Yurakucho, with a large discussion on child abductions after divorce in Japan.

The presentation and Q&A in its entirety. 1 hour 20 minutes. No cuts. Enjoy!

http://www.debito.org/?p=9197

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… and finally…

26) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column July 5, 2011: “Lives such as Daniel’s deserve to be honored in these pages”

JUST BE CAUSE
Lives such as Daniel’s deserve to be honored in these pages
By DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times: Tuesday, July 5, 2011

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110705ad.html

Photo of Daniel at the blog. Excerpt:

One problem with our NJ brethren who leave us — through returning to their native countries, finding opportunities elsewhere, or, in Daniel’s case, death — is the disappearance of institutional memory. With a constant recycling of people, we as a community often know little of what happened before us, and have to start again from scratch.

That is the ultimate disempowerment: the ability to erase someone’s life work by not recognizing it.

This is why, at least in the case of death, we have an obligation to honor and remember NJ lives and efforts. Otherwise what is the point of making those efforts in the first place?

So let me propose a corrective measure: obituaries in The Japan Times. We should offer, say, a “Legacy Corner,” where someone who knew a recently deceased NJ of note well can submit a eulogy for possible publication. This way a print record remains of what they contributed to Japan and to us.

Many overseas newspapers, including The Guardian, already have this system in place. So should the JT…

http://www.debito.org/?p=9184

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All for today. Should be taking a break for the summer, meaning back by September or so so stop by Debito.org in the interim!

Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
Podcast subscription available on iTunes (search term Debito.org), RSS feed at debito.org, Twitter arudoudebito.
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 18, 2011 ENDS

Peter Tasker in Foreign Policy Magazine: “Japan will rebuild, but not how you think”. Takes opportunity of Japan’s worst postwar disaster to re-advance outmoded Chrysanthemum Club-ism.

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog.  To take us through the holiday weekend (and shortly before I vacation this blog for the summer), let’s have a discussion about this article by Peter Tasker which achieved a prominent spot in a prominent policymakers’ magazine.

The article offers hope that Japan will rebuild.  But it also cherry-picks economic statistics to show that Japan isn’t as bad economically as all that (he even dismisses the “Lost Decade(s)”; does Mr. Tasker get out of Tokyo much?).  And, more oddly, he takes the opportunity of Japan’s worst postwar disaster to swipe at the “Revisionists” (the contrapose to the “Chrysanthemum Club”), particularly the late Chalmers Johnson.  The C-Club, a group of scholars with great sway in US-Japan Relations for just about the entire Postwar Era, generally tends to explain away most of Japan’s disinclination to follow international rules and norms by citing their own conjured-up sacerdotal cultural oddities and esoterica (or, less charitably, “intellectual chicanery” and “uncritical apolog[ism] for Japan”).  It preys on the fact that it knows more Japanese words and concepts than most Western readers do, and cites them even if they aren’t grounded in much.  And woe betide any competing point of view to come in and spoil the US-Japan Relationship love-in.

True to form, in the best rewarmed Reishauer, Mr. Tasker acclaims the country’s “extraordinary social cohesion and stoicism” in the name of “social stability” and “national self-respect”, thanks to “mutual respect, not victory in competition”, and of course, “gaman” and “shimaguni konjo“.  This overseas school of thought once again portrays poor, poor Japan as perpetually misunderstood by the West, not as a corporatist state that serves its citizenry at times pretty poorly and seeks little consent from its governed.  As Japan’s per capita incomes keep dropping, people (particularly new employment market entrants) find themselves less able to advance or improve their lives, while the flaws of the state have come ever more into stark relief thanks to Fukushima.

For this time, Fukushima’s increasing radiation exposure is not something that can wait like a regular disaster (such as the slow recovery efforts after the Kobe Earthquake of 1995).  Meanwhile, the ineffectual state keeps covering up information, shifting safety standards for radioactivity, and exposing more people and the international food chain to accumulating toxin.  Yet it’s this much-vaunted public “stoicism” (as opposed to feelings of powerlessness and futility) that is precisely what will do people in.  Mr. Tasker’s citing of the alleged common belief that “the janitor in your apartment building is not a representative of ‘the other’. He is you.” may be something the Japanese are being told to tell themselves (although I can’t find any sources for that), but I don’t believe this attitude is going to be a constructive source for recovery this time.  Fukushima will, however, eventually become a source of “grand-mal victimization”, as a substitute for solution and revolution, as the malcontents who might do something will give up and/or just flee.  We will quite possibly see an exodus (if there isn’t an unreported one going on already) of Japanese (which has happened periodically before during the other times Japan’s economic system broke down; hence the immigrant Japanese communities in places like South America, Hawaii, and California) from this system which quite simply cannot fix itself, and the people feel powerless to demand better even as they get slowly poisoned.

The difference this time is that the breakdown in the state is spreading toxins beyond its own borders, unabated four months later, with no end in sight.  I wonder if Mr. Tasker would offer any revisions to his article now.  But I doubt it.  His politics come through pretty clearly below.

Finally, in contrapose to the media’s much vaunted “Japanese earthquake without looting” canard, I enclose at the very bottom two articles for the record substantiating ATM machine and convenience store theft in the earthquake areas.  A friend also noted a Kyodo wire entitled “684 million yen stolen from ATMs in hardest-hit prefectures” that made the July 16 Japan Times but he says can’t be found archived anywhere.  “Stoicism and social cohesion”?  People are people.  Shit happens and people react.  Let’s not obfuscate this with cultural canards aiming at advancing the outdated politics and analytical rubric of the Chrysanthemum Club.  Arudou Debito

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The Island Nation
Japan will rebuild, but not how you think. And 20 years of misread history holds the clues.

BY PETER TASKER | Foreign Policy MARCH 24, 2011
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/03/24/the_island_nation

“When my mother was 10, she was evacuated to Sendai and saw the whole town get bombed flat. My father experienced the big air-raids on Yokohama. Their generation started out when there was nothing left of Japan but smoking ruins. Don’t worry about us — we’ll definitely recover this time too.”

So read an email I received a few days ago from a family friend, a professor of literature at a prestigious Japanese university. It served as further confirmation that the earthquake that hit Japan on March 11 may have shifted the land mass of the main island by six feet, but the country’s extraordinary social cohesion and stoicism haven’t budged an inch.

In a sense, Japan has been waiting for a crisis just such as this to show its inherent strengths. The foreign media have been hyperventilating over the question of whether Japan can rebuild (and improve upon) its economy. This misconceived idea stems from the frenzy of the 1980s, when foreign writers and academics lauded and feared Japanese industrial might. But when the Japanese economy stagnated, the praise and warnings turned to lectures and self-congratulation, as the West patted itself on the back for having bested the Japanese threat. But this analysis of the rise and fall of Japan’s economy misses the point. In my three decades of residence here, Japan’s underlying reality has changed a lot less than volatile foreign perceptions.

The Japanese economic miracle had nothing to do with competitiveness or the supposed omniscience of Tokyo’s elite bureaucrats; it had everything to do with the resilience of ordinary Japanese people and the country’s deep reservoir of social capital. And when Japan’s economy faltered during the “lost decades,” this likewise had nothing to do with a stodgy growth model or Tokyo’s elite bureaucrats having dug their heads into the sand. Japan was urged to make radical economic reforms by many foreign observers, who were then disappointed by Tokyo’s glacial progress in making them. But economic efficiency was never the end goal, whether Japan’s economy was rising or falling. It was social stability. And this foundation has survived two tough decades and is now a national insurance policy being paid out in the aftermath of the recent disaster.

Japan will rebuild its economy, probably with impressive speed. But don’t expect to see a plethora of Japanese billionaires emerging, along the U.S. or Chinese model, or the adoption of hostile takeovers, Reagan-Thatcher-style supply-side reforms, and the rest of the neoliberal agenda. Instead Japan will dig deep into its own values to forge a 21st-century version of the “rise from the smoking ruins.”

If modern Japan has a common ethic, it’s based on mutual respect, not victory in competition. The most potent symbols of this Japanese sense of social cohesion are the dowdy blue overalls worn by Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his ministers at news conferences and other public appearances since the earthquake. The idea is to express solidarity with the workers at the front line and reduce the sense of separation between rulers and ruled. This was a strategy also employed by the legendary business leaders of Japan’s 1960s golden era. Soichiro Honda, for example, attended meetings with bankers in his overalls.

Indeed, the Japanese public looks back on the 1960s not primarily as a time of rapid growth, but as one of shared purpose and real equality. The 1980s, on the other hand, when Japan became a huge player on the world stage, is viewed with ambivalence. Justifiably so, as it led to the inflation of the “bubble economy,” a period of manic speculation that makes America’s subprime housing disaster look tame by comparison. Japan does gaman (endurance) superbly. It copes with the challenges of success less well.

This point was deeply misunderstood in the 1980s, when Japan inspired a mixture of respect and dread on the global stage, particularly in the United States. A group of academics and writers, most prominently the late Chalmers Johnson of the University of California, came up with the idea that the Japanese industrial challenge was so formidable that it required “containment,” just as Soviet communism had.

Almost everything these experts said turned out to be spectacularly wrong. They had misread the causes of Japan’s postwar success. The supposedly farsighted technocrats praised by Johnson in his 1982 book, MITI and the Japanese Miracle, were the same people who tried to stop Honda from getting into the auto market, poured public money into sunset industries, and built nuclear power plants on a tsunami-prone coast at sea level.

The biggest mistake was to overlook the Japanese social consensus that interpreted international economic competitiveness not as an end in itself, but as an indication of national self-respect.

The generation of Japanese brought up amid the postwar devastation was driven by a hunger to reconstruct everything — their lives, their society, their country’s standing in the world. Once Japan was strong enough to be left alone, the target had been achieved.

After the collapse of the bubble economy in 1990, Japan did indeed descend into stagnation and banking crisis. At the time it seemed as if Japan’s policymakers and bankers were uniquely incompetent in their fumbling attempts to tackle the problems. With the hindsight offered by the global financial crisis, it is clear that there are no easy fixes to the damage caused by the implosion of a large-scale bubble. And the United States is not one to judge: Washington has refused to make Wall Street take the harsh medicine it urged on Japan a decade earlier.

By the early years of this century, however, Japan had largely worked through its post-bubble malaise, and its economic performance started to improve. The Japanese corporate sector returned to record margins. The percentage of Japanese exports going to the emerging world soared to much higher levels than those from the United States and Europe. And corporate Japan’s spending on research and development was 50 percent higher (as a percentage of sales) than U.S. and European competitors.

There are two reasons that this went largely unremarked. First, economists usually discuss GDP without reference to currency markets, but this can obscure what’s really going on. Japan’s tight monetary policy has caused the yen to strengthen significantly against the dollar and dollar-linked currencies — which raises the global purchasing power of Japanese households and corporations. In comparison, U.S. growth looks impressive when denominated in dollars, but not so much when taking into account the weak dollar policy followed by Messrs. Greenspan and Bernanke. If denominated in Japanese yen, U.S. GDP has been stagnant for the past 10 years.

Second, Japanese economic output per worker actually ran ahead of U.S. levels in the 2003-2008 period. Sure, U.S. GDP growth has been boosted — but largely by the rising total number of workers, itself a result of population increase, mainly caused by immigration. This obscures what’s really happening to living standards. If the well-being of the mass of citizens is the goal of policy, Japan’s performance this century does not justify the “lost decade” sound bite.

Foreign observers often see mass immigration as a cure-all for Japan’s demographic problem. It hasn’t happened and it isn’t likely to: In the Japanese hierarchy of needs, social cohesion ranks higher than top-line growth. Japanese opinion tends to focus on the potential downsides of large-scale immigration: Inequality would probably rise; the wages of low-earning native workers would likely be deflated by the new competition, while the upper-middle class would benefit from the services of inexpensive cleaners, handymen, and baby sitters. The Japanese also fear a dilution of shimaguni konjo, the “island nation spirit” that has helped them cope with a series of disasters of apocalyptic proportions.

The quiet strength of today’s Japan is that the janitor in your apartment building is not a representative of “the other.” He is you. In fact, there are thousands of janitors in apartment buildings across Japan who cut the same rumpled figure as Kan in his blue overalls. It is this Japanese narrative of a shared suffering and renewal against all odds that will drive Japan’s post-quake development. We may wish the Japanese to become more like us, but that isn’t going to happen. As they set about the task of recovery, they will become more like themselves.

===========================
Peter Tasker is a Tokyo-based investor and commentator.
ENDS

SUPPLEMENTAL ARTICLES:

700 M. Yen Stolen from ATMs in 3 Prefs Hardest Hit by March Disaster
http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2011071500046

Tokyo, July 14 (Jiji Press)–Some 684.4 million yen in total was stolen from automated teller machines between March 11, the day of the major earthquake and tsunami, and the end of June in three prefectures hardest hit by the disaster, Japan’s National Police Agency reported Thursday.

The number of thefts targeting ATMs at financial institutions and convenience stores reached 56, while the number of attempted such thefts stood at seven in the northeastern Japan prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, the agency said.

Fukushima Prefecture accounted for 60 pct of the number of cases and the amount stolen, with the impact of the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant being blamed for the high figure.

No similar cases were reported in March-June 2010. ATM thefts rose sharply after the disaster, but the situation in the prefecture is now under control, the police said.

Some 750 police officers are patrolling areas around the nuclear power plant.
(2011/07/15-05:01)

No. of crimes in 1st half down for 9th straight year

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/archive/news/2011/07/15/20110715p2g00m0dm003000c.html

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The number of criminal cases reported to or detected by police in Japan in the January-June period fell 7.1 percent from a year earlier to 711,837, the ninth straight year of decline for the first half of the year, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

The number of crimes for which suspects were questioned totaled 223,662, down 7.2 percent, involving 146,585 suspects, down 5.2 percent. The ratio of the number of crimes in which suspects were questioned remained unchanged at 31.4 percent.

In the wake of the March 11 earthquake-tsunami and nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, many thefts and property crimes were reported in the hardest hit Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, the NPA said.

Some 684 million yen was stolen from March to June at convenience stores and automated teller machines in evacuated areas.

The number of burglaries also increased, jumping 109.1 percent to 481 cases in Fukushima Prefecture alone. Burglaries at empty stores rose 35.7 percent to 19 cases in Iwate, by 75.8 percent to 225 cases in Miyagi, and by 57.4 percent to 107 cases in Fukushima.

However, the overall number of offenses violating the Penal Code in the three prefectures dropped in the March-June period. Overall the number dropped by 16.3 percent to 6,895 in Miyagi, by 15.1 percent to 2,135 in Iwate and by 21.4 percent to 5,058 in Fukushima.

Throughout Japan, a total of 51 cases of fraud and criminal business scams involving donations for the March disaster victims were also registered, with damage amounting to about 12.6 million yen, the police said.

(Mainichi Japan) July 15, 2011

ENDS

Zaitokukai Neonazis march in Tokyo Shibuya July 9, 2011, with ugly invective

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog.  Once again we have the Zaitokukai demonstrating in Shibuya last Saturday, once again blurring the line between freedom of speech and the expression of racist hate speech.  As hate speech in Japan is not an illegal activity (and a debate with our Resident Gaijin Handler last April had him making contrary yet ultimately unsubstantiated claims; let me head him off at the pass here), this will continue, and quite possibly continue to legitimize and foment, public expressions of xenophobia in Japan, and the perpetual unappreciation of NJ as residents, taxpayers, and mere human beings.

Here’s the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdt6yxZEzUI

Comment with the video:  “Go home now! ” “You are cockroaches. ” Stupid Racist “Zairtokukai” shout to the Koreans living in Japan.

Zaitokukai – They’re The group of Neo Nazi in Japan. They hate Chinese, Koreans and so foreigners. They always shout racist slogans. They are a group of ethnocentrism, and a group of the worst racial discrimination. Conscientious people in Japan fear that they injure foreigners. We hope many people of the world to know about the hidden crisis in Japan.

Here’s another video with them getting violent towards somebody, date and more details unclear:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6EU552n7Ms&feature=related

Very ugly stuff. And it will continue, if not get worse, until hate speech and the concomitant violence is made illegal. Arudou Debito

PODCAST: NPR All Things Considered on Brooklynite Anthony Bianchi’s election to Inuyama City Council, April 30, 2003

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「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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NPR ON BROOKLYNITE ANTHONY BIANCHI’S ELECTION TO INUYAMA CITY COUNCIL, broadcast on National Public Radio April 30, 2003.  Writeup from NPR:

“NPR’s Melissa Block talks with Tony Bianchi, a Brooklyn native who was elected to the Inuyama city council in Japan last Sunday, about his campaign and its outcome.  Bianchi is a naturalized Japanese citizen and the first person of North American origin ever to be elected to public office in Japan.”

Duration 4 minutes 15 seconds.  Enjoy!

[display_podcast]

PODCAST: NPR All Things Considered on Arudou Debito’s naturalization July 3, 2003

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「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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ARUDOU DEBITO ON JAPANESE NATURALIZATION.  Writeup from NPR’s “All Things Considered” program:

“NPR’s Eric Weiner tells the story of David Aldwinckle, a New York native  who has taken the rare step of becoming a citizen of Japan.  An outspoken man, David Aldwinckle rejects the notion that there’s one Japanese way of doing anything — an attitude that gets him into trouble sometimes.  Yet he was able to get through the rigorous process of securing Japanese citizenship.”

Duration 4 minutes 45 seconds, broadcast on National Public Radio July 3, 2003.  Enjoy!

PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 28 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on naturalizing and name changes in Japan (part 3 of 3)

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「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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ARUDOU DEBITO ON CHOOSING A JAPANESE NAME.  Writeup from KQED-FM, San Francisco NPR:

“Pacific Time correspondent Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan, gives the last of three talks on the why and how of the process he underwent as a Caucasian American to become a citizen of Japan, and discusses the complex process of choosing a legally mandatory Japanese name.”

Duration three minutes, broadcast on KQED-FM’s Pacific Time weekly radio segment December 28, 2000.  (NB:  They cut off my bad pun at the end of my essay:  “It’s the game of the name.”)

This is a time capsule of attitudes a decade ago, mere weeks after becoming a Japanese citizen.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito still in Sapporo

[display_podcast]

PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 21 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on J naturalization process (part 2 of 3)

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「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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ARUDOU DEBITO ON JAPANESE NATURALIZATION PROCESS.  Writeup from KQED-FM, San Francisco NPR:

“Pacific Time correspondent Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan, gives the second of three talks on the why and how of the process he underwent as a Caucasian American to become a naturalized Japanese citizen.”

Duration three minutes, broadcast on KQED-FM’s Pacific Time weekly radio segment December 21, 2000.

This is a time capsule of attitudes a decade ago, mere weeks after becoming a Japanese citizen, part two of three.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito still in Sapporo

[display_podcast]

PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 14 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on naturalizing in Japan (part 1 of 3)

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「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

ARUDOU DEBITO ON NATURALIZING IN JAPAN.  Writeup from KQED-FM, San Francisco NPR:

“Pacific Time correspondent Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan, gives the first of three talks on the why and how of the process he underwent as a Caucasian American to become a naturalized Japanese citizen — which was officially granted on 10 October 2000.”

Duration four minutes, broadcast on KQED-FM’s Pacific Time weekly radio segment December 14, 2000.

This is a time capsule of attitudes a decade ago, mere weeks after becoming a Japanese citizen.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito still in Sapporo

[display_podcast]

BV inter alia on J bureaucrat exclusionary attitudes when registering his newborn multicultural child at Shibuya Kuyakusho

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  A friend of mine sends this crie du coeur about bureaucratic attitudes towards multicultural children in Japan’s most cosmopolitan city, at the Shibuya Ward Office, no less.  Have a read.  Used with permission.  Arudou Debito

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

In Praise of Pediatrics but Why Bother if You Steal the Future?
July 7, 2011, by “Bitter Valley”

A few weeks ago my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Not a “half” (I am British, my wife is Japanese) but a “full” person we hope will have a wonderful bicultural future. I felt encouraged when my Japanese father-in -law, who is in his 70s, beamed at her and me and said “nice mikksu!”  Good one!

I’ve promised myself that I am not going to get needled by the word “haafu” despite the fact that I don’t like it. I’ve talked to a lot of people I trust people who are my friends who are Japanese and they assure me that it’s meant as a complement. In fact women friends tell me they are jealous, and they wish they had a “haafu” as well. I still don’t like the fact that there are jarring connotations with the word and basically I would rather our daughter be considered as a person first, and not a person instantly differentiated on others based on her racial heritage. But I figure you pick and choose your battles and respect the culture you are living in, right?

Fine, right? Great. Mixed race kids of the world are the future anyway. Or so I figure.

Perhaps not in Japan, but that’s Japan’s grave to dig, isn’t it. If you’d rather have a robot help you in your own age than have a foreigner, then I think you deserve your selfish loneliness.

My dad-in-law, a traditional Japanese otosan in just about every department, is fine with me as a son-in-law. He’s able to look beyond his programming (gaijin are worse than us, better than us, gaijin are automatically this and that…gaijin…yawn)….

He’s already the doting dad-in-law. And one of my august aunties, who loves to drop names of the LDP politicians she rubs shoulders with (or maybe hair net line, she’s not that tall), you know, young radical progressives such as Nakasone and Fukuda, ASKED me to become a father, as she couldn’t have kids.

So great, mixed race, bi-nationality kids are fine with my in all other respects, conservative in-laws and inner family. Another comfy warm blanket of love enveloping my beautiful little infant daughter?

Well- NOT, according to the petty bureaucrats at Shibuya Ward Office.

But that’s getting ahead of things. I want to split this message into two parts. The first part is about the wonderful care my wife received at one of Japan’s leading pediatrics hospitals. The second half contrasts it to the shabby and stultifying misinformation she received from nobody local administrators in the ward office.

In Praise of Pediatrics

First of all, praise where praise is due. While I’ve had the odd “miss” going to a yabuisha (the neighborhood quack clinic). The best advice I’ve had from friends about going to the local clinic down the road is know what’s wrong with you first, and you’ll be fine.

But I’ve found Japan’s health service has done me fine over the last decade. Over the years, due to stress, age, Karate competitions and injuries, and even the odd car crash, I’ve broken bones and been rushed at low speed (c’mon, you know what I mean) in ambulances to around half a dozen hospitals in Japan and been saved from at least one life-threatening condition. My wife jokes that I’ve been carted around so many hospitals in Tokyo that I could write a tour guide. And I’ve found that at least the younger doctors who have treated me in major hospitals have been excellent. You have to have a lot of confidence in a stranger who is going to stick a huge needle through your back into your lung to drain it. And, as much as one can be fine about such things, most doctors I’ve had in this country have engendered confidence.

However this is submission is about my wife and daughter, not me.

Thanks to the staff at the 国立成育医療研究センター研究所, the National Center for Child Health and Development, my wife and child were pulled, lovingly and caringly, through a difficult situation. Rushed to hospital just as it turned June, the hospital managed to stop our daughter (due date July 21) being born at 32 weeks and facing weeks in an incubator, worries about her little lungs. Of course survivability is virtually guaranteed at that stage, although as an expectant father, you’d be worried about the virtually — virtually just doesn’t cut the mustard when you are talking about your own daughter. And long term health consequences are really reduced at a birth at 32 weeks, compared to a very early pre-term birth. Basically the doctor said every day in the womb is a better day for our daughter’s future.

Two and a half weeks strapped into drips in both arms was a small price to pay for a beautiful little girl born naturally.

The key message is that all the system worked as it should, and the result was a beautiful baby girl. Our local clinic spotted the symptoms early. We were informed exactly what was going on. They immediately put my wife on medication and attempted to stabilize her. They then quickly decided my wife’s condition required specialists. Instead of the nearest major hospital, they whisked her off to Japan’s number one pediatrics hospital.

Before the decision was made to take them to the National Center, we already knew the permutations, everything was done with our knowledge and consent.

And it was the same at the National Center. Where the majority of the doctors — yes the doctors — are women. If you are as cynical about Japan as I have become in some areas, then this will be a pleasant surprise. And there are male nurses there as well. It’s a great place to have a baby, frankly.

If you take away the stress and worry of the whole affair, we were treated just superbly. Dr. K (in her mid-30s) would come on duty when she was off when I rushed from the office (usually trying to get there by about 19:30) and make time to tell me exactly what was going on. She gave us permutations, told us what the options were at each stage.

The best thing about it is that she would make decisions to push for a natural birth, if (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) were to happen, whereas the older consultant (a man) was pushing for a caesarian. At every stage Dr. K made sure that we were informed, got our consent, gave us a run-down of the risks and possibilities, permutations. And, the point has to be made, in no baby or patronizing Japanese. Friendly, professional, matter-of-fact.

It was one of the times when I felt in this country that I was being treated as an intelligent, middle aged person, and not as a gaijin. Why should I be so surprised about this? Why, in my mid-40s should I just not accept this? Is this not natural?

Which brings us back to earth in part II of this long missive- dealing with the petty bureaucrats in “Bitter Valley.”

Bitter Valley

One of the things I have noticed in dealing with Shibuya Kuyakusho’s gaijin section, or what I would call brainwashed Japanese people who can speak English and are always putting barriers between themselves and gaijin while professing to do the opposite, is how we are always put back to square one.

I might own a couple of properties here, run a company, write books, be recognized as an expert in my field OUTSIDE Japan’s petty bureaucracy, but when it comes to dealing with these people, it’s always back to square one.

You are a gaijin, and therefore we will treat you as one.

In my dealings with petty bureaucrats in Shibuya Ward Office, I’ve faced the ridiculous situation where the bureaucrat will completely ignore me and just talk to my wife, mouth baby Japanese at me, tell me how good my Japanese is for doing basic things like writing my address or something. You’ll understand what comes next — and then fail to completely understand me when I ask a real question, or completely disengage when I attempt a real conversation, so that my wife re-repeats what I have told the other person. You know, the terrible triangle — we’ve all had it. I’ll say something. The person will look at me stunned or ignore me. My wife will repeat what I said. The person will engage with her and ignore me. Yes, this has happened to me at successive times at Shibuya Ward Office.

I am used to these petty insults- these people are trained to be stupid and in my cynical mind, I sometimes think getting one over the gaijin is just about the only fun they have in their petty drab paper shuffling experiences. You know, the fact that you speak read and write Japanese means nothing. You are a gaijin and you are zero. This is the basic mind set. You get people who are actually human about things, but IMO, there is almost no one more guaranteed to gaijinize you than a bureaucrat.

My wife has hitherto regarded these sort of situations as dealing with petty insects, really. To maintain the wa she never looses her temper with them, and puts up with it, although she did open up when the tax office were being particularly lazy in dealing with one of our issues. I watched as FIVE people shuffled our bits of paper around several desks at a sort of necral pace.

As for me, my core attitude is: who on earth are these people? You gotta have wa? Give me a break. Don’t patronize me!

Overall though my wife is a model of patience (she has to be, putting up with me for a start), and while on my side, tends to choose the path of least resistance to get whatever bureaucratic crap has to be got through gotten through.

But not this time. Oh no.

This time, the boot was firmly on her foot.

For the first time she was dealing with the biracial/ cultural future of our daughter close up, in focus.

Just before she was discharged from the hospital she decided to call up Shibuya-ku to find out about the teisuzuki for dealing with our little mite’s registration. I overheard the call.

My wife is already depressed that I am just a footnote on the family honseki, which she regards as a real shitsurei to me. You know, what the hell am I then, some kind of fucking appendage? Who are the racists who would do that to someone? Of course its the homusho, and frankly, they don’t give a fuck. It’s their country, they must protect the Yamato Race, and gaijin are either help or entertainment, and either way, are to be policed. End of story for them.

Let’s move on with the story.

But the attitude of the petty bureaucrat really shocked her. It was a time of really waking up to the situation. She was asking about registration, and the conversation got very heated about my daughter’s family name.

I am in the middle of changing my name by deed poll to reflect our daughter’s biracial heritage and also to pay respect to my wife’s family.

Why I am bothering to do this is to respect them, who have been completely supportive of me and repeatedly defended me against those who would gaijinize me (police, petty customs officials, etc.) by defending me as one of us, our family. I figured that if my wife’s conservative family would bring me inside and protect and defend me against anyone trying to to divide and rule us, I should honor them.

But when my wife broached the subject of dual nationality with the official, the tone turned hard.

“No, she can only be registered in your name.” What about her dual nationality “No, she has no dual nationality. She is Japanese.”

Until this point, I could understand the position of the official. Not support it, but I could see the point of view. We need as many new kids as possible. This is Japan. We think she is Japanese. But it was the following elements that really angered my wife:

But as the father is English, doesn’t she get a choice? she asked.

“No, she is Japanese. This is not like America, you know, where anyone can get nationality just by being born there,” the bureaucrat spat out, obviously scornfully.

“This is JAPAN. She has Japanese blood. She is Japanese.” (My emphasis, but I could hear the horrible little person on the other end of the phone…)

Wife: But can’t she choose later?

“No, she is Japanese!”

My wife shouted down the phone to the effect of: “How dare you tell me my daughter’s business? She can be Japanese or English, or both if she wants, because she can keep both passports.”

She cut the phone and looked at me.

She said: “The Japanese system is broken.”

We are seriously thinking of getting out of this country and its antediluvian attitudes to race and nationality. I just think this nationality by blood stuff is, quite frankly, racist. My wife thought it grossly unprofessional to flat-out misinform her about our daughter’s future.

To me, the tragedy is in the irony of the fact that Japan has a finely tuned, modern, caring, forward-thinking medical system that fought for our daughter’s life on the one hand, and a tired jaded, petty and racist legal system that would seek to deny her basic freedoms as a potential citizen of Japan or England.

It seems that one end of the Japan’s bureaucracy has invested a fortune in preserving and nurturing and promoting life, while another part of the bureaucracy seems intent on stunting it. I went from being a father to being a gaijin and an issue to be swept away like it didn’t exist in the bureaucrat’s mind. My wife is Japanese. Our daughter is Japanese, because she has Japanese blood. I am nowhere.

Thanks a lot. Cheers. But actually, up yours.

Japan’s koseki system and the sort of petty nationalism/xenophobia exhibited to my wife hark back to 19th century racism and imperialism. It made my wife, who was recovering, sick.

It would of course be shocking and horrifying if Japan had trapped its attitude to medicine, health and healing to 19th century attitudes and assumptions. Yet the legal system in this country seems trapped in some sort of filthy 19th backwater of stupidity and ignorance.
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JULY 1, 2011: FCCJ Book Break on IN APPROPRIATE, June 28, 2011

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「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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In this podcast:

Book Break at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan on my new book “IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan“.  June 28, 2011, Tokyo Yurakucho, with a large discussion on child abductions after divorce in Japan.

The presentation and Q&A in its entirety.  1 hour 20 minutes.  No cuts.  Enjoy!

If you would like to download the powerpoint I used and follow along, click here.

[display_podcast]

Mark Austin reports that Otaru, site of the famous onsen lawsuit, still has a “Japanese Only” establishment, “Monika”

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Mark Austin reports the following.  In light of Otaru’s long and rather pathetic history of refusing NJ (and NJ-looking Japanese) customers entry to their bathhouses etc., one would hope that the authorities by now might be a bit more proactive in preventing this sort of thing from happening again.  Used with permission of the author.  Arudou Debito

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

From: Mark Austin
Subject: Re: From Otaru tourism association
Date: June 30, 2011 4:29:24 AM GMT+09:00
To: annai@otaru.gr.jp
Cc: XXXXXXXX@otaru.gr.jp

Dear XXXX-san,

Thanks very much for your mail.

I very much appreciate your kind attention to the matter of my being denied entry to a business establishment in Otaru simply because I’m not Japanese.

Thank you for taking my complaint seriously.

Of course, I fully understand that the food bar Monika may have had trouble with foreigners in the past. I’ve heard that Russian sailors in Otaru sometimes get drunk and behave badly.

I must say that I truly sympathize with the situation of Monika and other eating/drinking establishments in Otaru that have had trouble with non-Japanese people.

However, I strongly feel that banning all foreigners is not the way to solve any problems that Otaru businesses have with non-Japanese people.

As for myself, I am a British citizen who has permanent residency in Japan. I moved to this country in 1990. I now work in Bangalore, India, as a visiting professor at a journalism school, but my home is Japan. I visited Otaru on Monday to give a lecture at Otaru University of Commerce.

On Monday evening, after I’d visited the onsen at the Dormy Inn, where I was staying, I asked a receptionist at the hotel if she could recommend a pub or bar where I could have a beer and something to eat. She pointed me in the direction of the area west of the railway. I walked there and found loads of “snack” bars, which I didn’t want to enter. Then I found Monika [I think this is the place — Ed] and was told by a Mr. XXXXX that I wasn’t welcome there.

I pointed out to Mr. XXXXX (in Japanese) that his refusal to serve me constituted racial discrimination (I used the phrase “jinshu sabetsu”) and he agreed that it was, and defended this by merely saying, “Ma, sho ga nai.”

After about 10 minutes, I gave up (politely) arguing with Mr. XXXXX and left.

I felt very hurt, angry and frustrated.

I hope you’ll take a look at this United Nations report on racial discrimination in Japan, which finds that the Japanese government is not living up to its promises to stop Japanese businesses discriminating against foreigners.

The rude treatment given to me on Monday night in Otaru would be unthinkable in my country, or other European countries, or the United States, and, I guess, most other democracies in the world that I’ve visited.

As an employee of the Otaru Tourism Association, I’m sure you’ll agree that your job description is to try to boost the local economy as much as possible by advertising the many attractions of Otaru, a beautiful city with a rich history in which foreigners played an important part from the late 19th century, to Japanese and non-Japanese people alike. In Otaru, foreigners (residents and tourists) and Japanese spend the same currency–yen. Is it asking too much that we be treated the same, as far as possible?

I should tell you that I have a huge admiration and respect for Japan, the country where I’ve lived almost half my life very happily. One thing I don’t like about Japan, however, is its thinking that it is somehow “exceptional”–that normal rules that apply everywhere else in the world don’t apply here. According to this thinking, Japan is “in” the world, but not “of” the world.

If pubs, restaurants and bars in Otaru (and elsewhere in Japan) have problems with foreigners, here’s what they should do:

1 Call the police.

2 Film and photograph the troublemakers (using cell phones or CCTV).

3 Ban individual troublemakers.

4 Ask the local government to contact the foreign ministry of the troublemakers’ country, requesting that foreign ministry to advise its citizens how to behave properly in Japan (the British Foreign Ministry regularly issues such advisories to British citizens traveling abroad; I don’t know if the foreign ministries of China or Russia, two countries whose citizens regularly visit Otaru, do so).

5 Post notices in various languages giving advice on acceptable/unacceptable behavior (that is now standard with onsen and sento, which is good).

Thanks again, XXXX-san, for your kind attention to my complaint. I would like to say, respectfully, that I expect some sort of concrete resolution to this problem (in other words, not just a vague promise of “We’re sorry, and we’ll try to improve the situation”), and I’ll be very happy to help you achieve that result in any way I can.

Best regards,

Mark Austin
Visiting Professor
Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media
Bangalore, India

ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column July 5, 2011: “Lives such as Daniel’s deserve to be honored in these pages”

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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JUST BE CAUSE
Lives such as Daniel’s deserve to be honored in these pages
By DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times: Tuesday, July 5, 2011
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110705ad.html

I had a shock in May with the death of a close friend, Daniel, a long-term Japan resident in his sixties who had been in bad health. We were close and I’ll miss him.

But my shock was less due to Daniel’s passing, more to the postmortem reaction of the people around him, and to how the system processed him. None of us even knew he was in hospital; I didn’t hear about his death for nearly two weeks. As Daniel had once invited me to be an executor of his estate, I would have hoped to have been one of the first told, since he had no wife, children or kin in Japan.

Instead — and this is only what I’ve managed to piece together — he went to a hospital after some troubling symptoms, fell into a coma, and died thereafter. His body was kept at the hospital for quite some time waiting to be claimed. His former employer, despite Daniel’s decades of service, has apparently not even acknowledged his passing. Moreover, although I do not suspect foul play, the cause of death has still not been made clear to us.

This is unacceptable. Daniel was a dedicated educator and activist for human rights, renowned for his involvement in groups such as Amnesty International. Generous with his time, he spent his final years visiting people wrongfully incarcerated in Japanese prisons or left to rot in Immigration detention centers. He cared about people, particularly non-Japanese, who were victims of abusive systems ignored by society. Yet in the end, he too was just a John Doe on ice in some hospital.

My point is, people should not be falling off the face of the Earth like this.

In last month’s column I talked about the lack of cohesiveness and social disempowerment within the English-speaking communities due to our lack of minority consciousness as a diaspora in Japan.

Related to this is another problem: the lack of awareness of non-Japanese legacies — of lifetimes devoted to making Japan a better place.

One problem with our NJ brethren who leave us — through returning to their native countries, finding opportunities elsewhere, or, in Daniel’s case, death — is the disappearance of institutional memory. With a constant recycling of people, we as a community often know little of what happened before us, and have to start again from scratch.

That is the ultimate disempowerment: the ability to erase someone’s life work by not recognizing it.

This is why, at least in the case of death, we have an obligation to honor and remember NJ lives and efforts. Otherwise what is the point of making those efforts in the first place?

So let me propose a corrective measure: obituaries in The Japan Times. We should offer, say, a “Legacy Corner,” where someone who knew a recently deceased NJ of note well can submit a eulogy for possible publication. This way a print record remains of what they contributed to Japan and to us.

Many overseas newspapers, including The Guardian, already have this system in place. So should the JT.

The JT already offers briefs on deceased Japanese politicians and assorted muckety-mucks (as well as interviews with perfectly healthy Japanese bureaucrats and international representatives). Yet there is scant print on the NJ who lived here and gave so much of themselves to our society (not to mention read this paper).

I think it is particularly incumbent on The Japan Times to do this. Rival English-language papers are less NJ-community-minded. After all, they have long purged most of their NJ full-time staff and reporters, and generally supplement whatever news they don’t import with translated in-house articles (replete with nativist and exclusivist Japan-centric editorial slants). The JT, the only independent English daily paper in Japan, is in the best position to continue providing information for the NJ community to live better, more informed lives here.

After all, the Japanese media rarely recognizes the efforts of long-term NJ in Japan. NJ are apparently just supposed to come here to work and then “go home.” Even if they live most of their lives and die here.

We should not support this attitude. Otherwise, all that remains of the NJ long-termer is a fungible gaijin on a gurney. As happened to Daniel.

We owe people like him more. We owe ourselves more. Let’s make space for eulogy and legacy, and help create a stronger institutional memory. Prove wrong the institutionalized fiction that only Japanese can change Japan.
=========================

Debito Arudou’s new novel, “In Appropriate,” is on sale (www.debito.org/inappropriate.html) Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Comments: community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS

Quoted in Asia Weekly: “Falling birthrate, rising life expectancy afflict Japan”

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign 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.  No comment to this article as my comment is embedded.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito

Falling birthrate, rising life expectancy afflict Japan
By MONTY DIPIETRO in TOKYO
China Daily/Asia Weekly, July 1-7, 2011, courtesy of the author
http://www.cdeclips.com/files/asiapdf/20110701/cdasiaweekly20110701p05.pdf

Japan is aging, and fast. In fact, already it is the most aged nation in human history. A falling birthrate and rising life expectancy have tilted the nation’s demographics such that 23.1 percent of the population is now aged 65 and over – a figure that has almost doubled in the past 20 years. By 2025, Japanese who are 65 and above are expected to comprise 30 percent of the population, and by 2050 the fi gure could rise to 40 percent, with a signifi cant proportion over 80 years of age. The 2050 projection shows Japan’s population, currently 127 million, dipping under 100 million.

An obvious concern is whether fewer tax-paying workers will be able to support more benefit-claiming retirees. Japan’s healthy personal savings may help in that regard. A more human question is, “Who will provide the daily care the elderly require?”

In many countries, the solution to shortages in healthcare providers has been to bring in foreign professionals. According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, 13,014 Filipino nurses found employment abroad in 2009. Leading hiring countries were Saudi Arabia (9,623), Singapore (745) and the United Arab Emirates (572). Japan accounted for just one during the same year.

Under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Japan has signed similar agreements with other Southeast Asian and Pacific Rim countries), the country pledged to import foreign caregivers and nurses, primarily from the Philippines and Indonesia. But these healthcare professionals can stay for only three years, as trainees and on a limited salary. To continue to work in Japan, they must pass a test involving the reading and writing of some 2,000 kanji characters. If they fail to do so before their three years are up, they are sent home.

In 2010, of the 257 Filipinos who took the test, only one passed. The success rate for Filipinos and Indonesians over the first two years of the program was also less than 1 percent, prompting some to regard the exam as a contrivance designed to restrict foreign professionals’ period of stay.

“Japan has long maintained a tacit revolving-door policy for migrant labor,” says Arudou Debito, a naturalized- Japanese human-rights activist and researcher on internationalization.

“The Japanese government imports cheap young workers during their most productive labor years, but under short-term work visa regimes to ensure they don’t settle here. In that sense, what is happening to the caregivers and nurses is completely within character.”

Says Professor Takeo Ogawa, founder of Kyushu-based NGO Asian Aging Business Center, “Although the Economic Partnership Agreement has brought caregivers and nurses to Japan, there are many issues with the program. I believe the Japanese system of qualifi cation for caregivers and nurses is too complex for promoting international migration.

The system here is like the Galapagos – a too-specialized evolution in a specific atmosphere. Regarding our aging society, we need to start to look at global standards for qualifying caregivers and nurses, such as the European Care Certifi cate.”

“Although inviting foreign workers is still a minority opinion in Japan, without foreign workers we cannot maintain the Japanese social system,” says Ogawa. “We need to make fundamental changes to address our labor shortage. For example, Japan still does not have an immigration law. Without such policy changes, it will be much more diffi cult to improve the situation, not only for the elderly but also for other areas of our economy.”

One factor working in Japan’s favor is the robust and selfless disposition of its elderly population. Many continue to work through their 70s and beyond. Garnering headlines in recent weeks was the Skilled Veterans Corps, a group of seniors led by retired engineers, who volunteered to help repair the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, with the reasoning that they will likely die by natural causes before the eff ects of radiation exposure take hold. Japanese government nuclear adviser Goshi Hosono took the flak when he dismissed the group as a “suicide corps”. The nation was enamored.

As a last-chance alternative to importing foreign caregivers and nurses, Japan is aggressively exploring the use of robots to care for its elderly. A 7.6 billion yen ($93.7 million), fi ve-year Home-use Robot Practical Application Project has so far yielded talking kitchen appliances and networked vital sign monitors, interactive electronic companion pets, smart wheelchairs, hoisting androids and movementand ambulation-assisting skeleton suits. Robot care initiatives have met with mixed views from the elderly, who are increasingly living alone, and dying alone.

“I don’t know about all this robot technology, because it is still under development,” says Shigeyoshi Yoshida, executive director of the Japan NGO Council on Aging, which represents about 60 aging groups across Japan. “But quick action is required; our culture does not change quickly enough. I know that personally; I would not want a robot taking care of me in my old age. I’d much prefer a young lady!”

ends

My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out tomorrow, Tues July 5, on the ignored legacies of NJ in Japan and what to do about them.

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign 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. Just a quick note to let you know that tomorrow sees my 41st Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column, this time another segment on how NJ can help themselves in the face of perpetual disempowerment in Japanese society.

A friend of mine died last May, and it came as a shock just how fast and without fanfare he disappeared from the face of the Earth (or rather, from Japanese society). One of the problems with NJ status is that once they leave (in this case, by death), their institutionalized memory often winks out. I propose a very simple way the Japan Times could help prevent this. A simple column for a change with a point that needed to be said sometime, so why not now. Have a read! Arudou Debito

UPDATE:  Here it is:  http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110705ad.html Up for commentary tomorrow.

US State Department report 2011: “Japan’s Foreign trainee program ‘like human trafficking'”

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign 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.  Pretty self explanatory.  Japan’s “Trainee” program is now acknowledged by a significant authority on the subject to contribute to human trafficking.  Read on.  The U.S. State Department report text in full after articles from the Asahi and the Yomiuri.  Arudou Debito

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U.S. State Department blasts Japan in human trafficking report
BY HIROTSUGU MOCHIZUKI CORRESPONDENT
2011/06/30 The Asahi Shimbun

http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201106290187.html

WASHINGTON–The U.S. State Department sharply criticized Japan’s industrial training and technical internship program in its annual report on human trafficking, citing various abuses against foreign trainees by their employers.

The Trafficking in Persons Report, released June 27, urged the Japanese government to dedicate “more government resources to anti-trafficking efforts.”

Referring to the “foreign trainees program,” the report noted “the media and NGOs continued to report abuses including debt bondage, restrictions on movement, unpaid wages … elements which contribute to … trafficking.”

The State Department recommended the Japanese government strengthen efforts to investigate, prosecute and punish acts of forced labor, including those that fall within the foreign trainee program.

The latest report covered 184 countries and regions, the largest number ever. They were classified into four categories–Tier 3, the worst rating, Tier 2 Watch List, Tier 2, and Tier 1, countries whose governments fully comply with standards set under the U.S. trafficking victims protection act.

Japan was ranked Tier 2, second from the top category, for the seventh consecutive year. Tier 2 indicates countries and regions whose governments do not fully meet the minimum standards in protecting victims of human trafficking, but are making efforts to comply with the standards.

The report said, “Japan is a destination, source, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.
ENDS

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

Foreign trainee program ‘like human trafficking’
The Yomiuri Shimbun, (Jun. 29, 2011)
Kentaro Nakajima / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent, Courtesy of JK

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/world/T110628004796.htm

WASHINGTON–The U.S. State Department said in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report that some conditions faced by participants in Japan’s foreign trainee program were similar to those seen in human trafficking operations.

According to criteria set under the U.S. trafficking victims protection act, enacted in 2000, the report released Monday classified 184 countries and territories into four categories: Tier 3, the worst rating; Tier 2 Watch List; Tier 2; and Tier 1.

Japan was rated Tier 2 for the seventh consecutive year. Tier 2 indicates countries and territories whose governments do not fully meet the act’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to do so.

Twenty-three countries, including North Korea, were classified as Tier 3.

Regarding conditions for foreign trainees in Japan, the report noted “the media and NGOs continued to report abuses including debt bondage, restrictions on movement, unpaid wages, overtime, fraud and contracting workers out to different employers–elements which contribute to situations of trafficking.”

The Japanese government has not officially recognized the existence of such problems, the report said.

It also said Japan “did not identify or provide protection to any victims of forced labor.”

The foreign trainee program, run by a government-related organization, is designed to help foreign nationals, mainly from China and Southeast Asian nations, who want to learn technology and other skills by working for Japanese companies.

The majority of trainees are Chinese, who according to the report “pay fees of more than 1,400 dollars to Chinese brokers to apply for the program and deposits of up to 4,000 dollars and a lien on their home.”

The report said a NGO survey of Chinese trainees in Japan found “some trainees reported having their passports and other travel documents taken from them and their movements controlled to prevent escape or communication.”

ENDS

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

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT REPORT TEXT IN FULL
Courtesy GW, JK, SS, and others.

OFFICE TO MONITOR AND COMBAT TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
Trafficking in Persons Report 2011
JAPAN (Tier 2)
http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2011/164232.htm

Japan is a destination, source, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Male and female migrant workers from China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and other Asian countries are sometimes subject to conditions of forced labor. Some women and children from East Asia, Southeast Asia, and in previous years, Eastern Europe, Russia, South America, and Latin America who travel to Japan for employment or fraudulent marriage are forced into prostitution. During the reporting period, there was a growth in trafficking of Japanese nationals, including foreign-born children of Japanese citizens who acquired nationality. In addition, traffickers continued to use fraudulent marriages between foreign women and Japanese men to facilitate the entry of these women into Japan for forced prostitution. Government and NGO sources report that there was an increase in the number of children identified as victims of trafficking. Japanese organized crime syndicates (the Yakuza) are believed to play a significant role in trafficking in Japan, both directly and indirectly. Traffickers strictly control the movements of victims, using debt bondage, threats of violence or deportation, blackmail, and other coercive psychological methods to control victims. Victims of forced prostitution sometimes face debts upon commencement of their contracts as high as $50,000 and most are required to pay employers additional fees for living expenses, medical care, and other necessities, leaving them predisposed to debt bondage. “Fines” for misbehavior added to their original debt, and the process that brothel operators used to calculate these debts was not transparent. Some of the victims identified during the reporting period were forced to work in exploitative conditions in strip clubs and hostess bars, but were reportedly not forced to have sex with clients. Japan is also a transit country for persons trafficked from East Asia to North America. Japanese men continue to be a significant source of demand for child sex tourism in Southeast Asia.

Although the Government of Japan has not officially recognized the existence of forced labor within the Industrial Trainee and Technical Internship Program (the “foreign trainee program”), the media and NGOs continue to report abuses including debt bondage, restrictions on movement, unpaid wages and overtime, fraud, and contracting workers out to different employers – elements which contribute to situations of trafficking. The majority of trainees are Chinese nationals who pay fees of more than $1,400 to Chinese brokers to apply for the program and deposits – which are now illegal – of up to $4,000 and a lien on their home. An NGO survey of Chinese trainees in Japan, conducted in late 2010, found that workers’ deposits are regularly seized by the brokers if they report mistreatment or attempt to leave the program. Some trainees also reported having their passports and other travel documents taken from them and their movements controlled to prevent escape or communication.

The Government of Japan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Although Japan provided a modest grant to IOM for the repatriation of foreign victims identified in Japan, the government’s resources dedicated specifically to assist victims of trafficking were low, particularly relative to Japan’s wealth and the size of its trafficking problem. During the year, the government published a manual for law enforcement and judicial officers on identifying trafficking victims and developed a Public Awareness Roadmap to increase prevention of trafficking in Japan. The government also reported some efforts to punish and prevent trafficking of women for forced prostitution. Nonetheless, the government made inadequate efforts to address abuses in the foreign trainee program despite credible reports of mistreatment of foreign workers. Although the government took some steps to reduce practices that increase the vulnerability of these workers to forced labor, the government reported poor law enforcement against forced labor crimes and did not identify or provide protection to any victims of forced labor. In addition, Japan’s victim protection structure for forced prostitution remains weak given the lack of services dedicated specifically to victims of trafficking.

Recommendations for Japan: Dedicate more government resources to anti-trafficking efforts, including dedicated law enforcement units, trafficking-specific shelters, and legal aid for victims of trafficking; consider drafting and enacting a comprehensive anti-trafficking law prohibiting all forms of trafficking and prescribing sufficiently stringent penalties; significantly increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and assign sufficiently stringent jail sentences to acts of forced labor, including within the foreign trainee program, and ensure that abuses reported to labor offices are referred to criminal authorities for investigation; enforce bans on deposits, punishment agreements, withholding of passports, and other practices that contribute to forced labor in the foreign trainee program; continue to increase efforts to enforce laws and stringently punish perpetrators of forced prostitution; make greater efforts to proactively investigate and, where warranted, punish government complicity in trafficking or trafficking-related offenses; further expand and implement formal victim identification procedures and train personnel who have contact with individuals arrested for prostitution, foreign trainees, or other migrants on the use of these procedures to identify a greater number of trafficking victims; ensure that victims are not punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; establish protection policies for all victims of trafficking, including male victims and victims of forced labor; ensure that protection services, including medical and legal services, are fully accessible to victims of trafficking by making them free and actively informing victims of their availability; and more aggressively investigate and, where warranted, prosecute and punish Japanese nationals who engage in child sex tourism.

Prosecution

The Japanese government took modest, but overall inadequate, steps to enforce laws against trafficking during the reporting period; while the government reportedly increased its law enforcement efforts against forced prostitution, it did not report any efforts to address forced labor. Japan does not have a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, but Japan’s 2005 amendment to its criminal code, which prohibits the buying and selling of persons, and a variety of other criminal code articles and laws, could be used to prosecute some trafficking offenses. However, it is unclear if the existing legal framework is sufficiently comprehensive to criminalize all severe forms of trafficking in persons. These laws prescribe punishments ranging from one to 10 years’ imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and generally commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes. During the reporting period, the government reported 19 investigations for offenses reported to be related to trafficking, resulting in the arrest of 24 individuals under a variety of laws, including immigration and anti-prostitution statutes. Given the incomplete nature of the government’s data, it is not clear how many of these involve actual trafficking offenses. The government convicted 14 individuals of various trafficking-related offenses, though most were convicted under statutes other than those for human trafficking crimes. Of these 14 convicted offenders, six received non-suspended jail sentences ranging from 2.5 to 4.5 years plus fines, six received suspended jail sentences of approximately one to two years plus fines, and one was ordered to only pay a fine. Ten cases were not prosecuted for lack of evidence. These law enforcement efforts against sex forms of trafficking are an increase from the five convictions reported last year. The National Police Agency (NPA), Ministry of Justice, Bureau of Immigration, and the Public Prosecutor’s office regularly trained officers on trafficking investigation and prosecution techniques, including training programs conducted by IOM and NGOs. In July 2010, the government distributed a 10-page manual to assist law enforcement, judicial and other government officers in identifying and investigating trafficking offenses and implementing victim protection measures.

Nonetheless, Japan made inadequate efforts to criminally investigate and punish acts of forced labor. Article 5 of Japan’s Labor Standards Law prohibits forced labor and prescribes a penalty of one to 10 years’ imprisonment or a fine ranging from $2,400 to $36,000, but is generally limited to acts committed by the employer. A July 2010 government ordinance bans the practices of requiring deposits from applicants to the foreign trainee program and imposing fines for misbehavior or early termination. Despite the availability of these prohibitions, however, authorities failed to arrest, prosecute, convict, or sentence to jail any individual for forced labor or other illegal practices contributing to forced labor in the foreign trainee program. The government investigated only three cases of suspected forced labor during the reporting period. Most cases of abuse taking place under the foreign trainee program are settled out of court or through administrative or civil hearings, resulting in penalties which are not sufficiently stringent or reflective of the heinous nature of the crime, such as fines. For example, in November 2010, the Labor Standards Office determined that a 31-year-old Chinese trainee officially died due to overwork; although he had worked over 80 hours per week for 12 months preceding his death without full compensation, the company received only a $6,000 fine as punishment and no individual was sentenced to imprisonment or otherwise held criminally responsible for his death.

In addition, the government failed to address government complicity in trafficking offenses. Although corruption remains a serious concern in the large and socially accepted entertainment industry in Japan, which includes the prostitution industry, the government did not report investigations, arrests, prosecutions, convictions, or jail sentences against any official for trafficking-related complicity during the reporting period.

Protection

The Government of Japan identified more victims of sex trafficking than last year, but its overall efforts to protect victims of trafficking, particularly victims of forced labor, remained weak. During the reporting period, 43 victims of trafficking for sexual purposes were identified, including a male victim – an increase from the 17 victims reported last year, though similar to the number identified in 2008 (37), and lower than the number of victims identified in each of the years from 2005 to 2007. Japanese authorities produced a manual entitled, “How to Treat Human Trafficking Cases: Measures Regarding the Identification of Victims” that was distributed to government agencies in July 2010 to identify victims of trafficking. The manual’s focus, however, appears to be primarily on identifying the immigration status of foreign migrants and their methods of entering Japan, rather than identifying indicators of nonconsensual exploitation of the migrants. It is also unclear if this manual led to the identification of any victims and whether it was used widely throughout the country. Some victims were reportedly arrested or detained before authorities identified them as trafficking victims. Japan failed to identify any victims of forced labor during the reporting period despite ample evidence that many workers in the foreign trainee program face abuses indicative of forced labor. The government has no specific protection policy for victims of forced labor and it has never identified a victim of labor trafficking. Moreover, services provided to identified victims of trafficking for forced prostitution were inadequate. Japan continues to lack dedicated shelters for victims of trafficking. Of the identified victims, 32 received care at government shelters for domestic violence victims – Women’s Consulting Centers (WCCs) – but these victims reportedly faced restrictions on movement outside of these multi-purpose shelters, and inadequate services inside them. Due to limitations on these shelters’ space and language capabilities, WCCs sometimes referred victims to government-subsidized NGO shelters. For instance, due to the government’s continued lack of protection services for male victims of trafficking, the one male victim identified during the reporting period received services at an NGO shelter. IOM provided protection to 20 foreign victims of trafficking during the reporting period with government funding. Although the government paid for victims’ psychological services and related interpretation costs in the WCC shelters, some victims at NGO shelters did not receive this care. A government program exists to pay for all medical services incurred while a victim resides at the WCC, but the system for administering these services is not well organized and, as a result, some victims of trafficking did not receive all available care. The government-funded Legal Support Center provides pro bono legal services to destitute victims of crime, including trafficking victims, but information about available service was not always provided to victims in the government and NGO shelters. If a victim is a child, the WCC works with a local Child Guidance Center to provide shelter and services to the victim; the government reported that one victim was assisted in this manner during the reporting period. Furthermore, while authorities reported encouraging victims’ participation in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers, victims were not provided with any incentives for participation, such as the ability to work or otherwise generate income. In addition, the relative confinement of the WCC shelters and the inability of victims to work led most victims to seek repatriation. A long-term residency visa is available to persons identified as trafficking victims who fear returning to their home country, but only one person has ever applied for or received this benefit.

Prevention

The Japanese government made limited efforts to prevent trafficking in persons during the reporting period. The Inter-ministerial Liaison Committee continued to meet, chaired by the cabinet secretary, and agreed on a “Public Awareness Roadmap” and released posters and distributed brochures aimed at raising awareness of trafficking. More than 33,000 posters and 50,000 leaflets were distributed to local governments, police stations, community centers, universities, immigration offices, and airports. NGOs, however, reported that this campaign had little effect and failed to reach the consumers of commercial sexual services. The Immigration Bureau conducted an online campaign to raise awareness of trafficking and used flyers to encourage local immigration offices to be alert for indications of trafficking. In July 2010, the government amended the rules of the foreign trainee program to allow first-year participants access to the Labor Standards Office and to ban the use of deposits and penalties for misbehavior or early termination, in order to prevent conditions of forced labor within this program and provide increased legal redress to participants of the program. The government did not report its efforts to enforce the ban on deposits and it is unclear whether the new rules contributed to a reduction in the number of cases of misconduct committed by the organizations that receive the interns. NGO sources report that brokers have instructed participants to deny the existence of these deposits or “punishment agreements” to Japanese authorities. The government continued to fund a number of anti-trafficking projects around the world. For years, a significant number of Japanese men have traveled to other Asian countries, particularly the Philippines, Cambodia, and Thailand, to engage in sex with children. Japan has the legal authority to prosecute Japanese nationals who engage in child sex tourism abroad and arrested one man under this law in February 2011; a total of eight persons have been convicted under this law since 2002. Japan is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.
ENDS

 

 

Joel Legendre-Koizumi on the J media’s blackout on PM Kan’s proposals

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. Reporter Joel Legendre-Koizumi of RTL France had this very poignant comment on Facebook on June 28, 2011, which he has nicely granted me permission to post on Debito.org (provided I don’t over-comment on it — which I won’t, so I’ll stop here). Have a read. It’s an insider’s view on how the Japanese media is getting in PM Kan’s policymaking. A complete tangent, but worthy of a wider audience.  Arudou Debito

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

Yesterday night 2215, at the Prime Minister Kan press conference at Kantei, Nagatacho, Tokyo. By Joel Legendre-Koizumi, RTL France reporter, informal Facebook comment

Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Courtesy http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=247905685224086&set=a.179594385388550.49429.100000139696684&type=1&theater

Unbelievable! Most questions were mere bullying and nothing concrete. Except the Mainichi and two free lance reporters the rest was on a hunt on the chief of the government. Media played themselves the Nagatacho’s game. I was shocked to see that the only of the 2 good questions asked to PM Kan was by Mr. Shimada, a free lance reporter. A good validated comment and question about actions since and after the triple catastrophes (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear contamination) and how Japan’s social aspect has changed since 3/11 and the implications in actions and behaviors of the society. Kan started to answer on his philosophy and his expectation regarding Japanese population and I really noticed he was continuing explaining and elaborating his ruling concrete plan. Fabulous. But then NHK TV suddenly cut the answers of Prime Minister Kan… very articulated ones. He offered a vision of the present and the future after these exceptional disaster circumstances, I was astonished by Kan’s words.

So now, it’s clear. One knows one cannot truly rely on kisha clubs press releases. Luckily but minor impact, Kan’s comment is available on the web page of the Kantei. Now !! Why on earth do the media shut up the prime minister when he is presenting the most important policy speech of reconstruction after Japan chaos of March 11? Would the US cut B. Obama at a major speech? Would France cut N. Sarkozy live talks on such issues? During a press conf? Unbelievable. Then I asked again and again. No-one dares to say a word. His political death as current prime minister is planned? I am told by a close friend of Kan that the Kantei kisha club never forgave Kan’s administration to open the kisha club to other members of the national and international press… One reason certainly to explain the DIVIDE between what Naoto Kan said and what the press prints!

Following is the kind of things which supports the nasty pressure against Kan’s administration that you can read in the local media after last night press conf’. quotes:

“Prime Minister Naoto Kan has named Ryu Matsumoto as reconstruction minister and Goshi Hosono as minister in charge of resolution to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster. The additional cabinet posts were created on Monday. “The move is to assuage the heavy criticism Prime Minister Kan has received for his lack of leadership in handling the March 11 catastrophe.” (Said who?) Prime Minister Kan has gone so far as to agree to resign (pushed by who?) but only after Japan is on solid footing and the passage of budget bills and a renewable energy measure. “I’m aiming at stepping down after achieving those bills” said Kan on Monday. Hosono, (he is Kan’s successor in policies) who has been director of the nuclear task force, will be in charge of power conservation.” (At last a positive note of policy reported): “Kan explained that “the main purpose of the new appointments is to push for reconstruction from the disaster and to take steps to prevent another nuclear accident.” ” End of quotes.

I have to say that Akira was not uninformed when he commented with a certain passion yesterday on my fb wall about the way the media do the OMERTA on Kan’s policies. One word of advice, one friend told me again yesterday: “Just don’t! Just don’t trust national media* about Nagatacho and Japan’s politics, reporters report but editors CUT!”

* 5 main TV and 5 main newspapers.

ENDS