Allegations of more rough stuff from Rightist Zaitokukai against anti-nuclear demos, yet anti-nuclear demonstrators get arrested

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" 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

Hi Blog. There have been demonstrations against nuclear power recently in Japan (one in Tokyo that at one estimate attracted 60,000 demonstrators). And of course there have counter-demonstrations against the demonstrations. However, one group, claimed to be Zaitokukai in a video below (with its own history of violent and property-damaging demonstrations) gave exhortations to police to inflict violence on the anti-nuke protesters (if not getting rough with the protesters themselves). Yet as usual the Japanese police do not arrest or hinder the Rightists (examples hereherehere, and within the movie Yasukuni), instead taking action against the Leftists — arresting two in the following video.

One Japanese woman and one French man. The two arrested offer their account of what happened here:

FCCJ Press Conference on this issue today, along with an eyewitness account of the demonstration from the H-Japan listserv reproduced below.  Courtesy of NS and others. Arudou Debito

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“Peaceful Rally Ended with Dozens in Handcuffs”

Time: 2011 Sep 29 15:00 – 16:00
Summary:
PRESS CONFERENCE
Karin Amamiya , Author
Kojin Karatani, Philosopher
Eiji Oguma, Keio University Assistant Professor
Satoshi Ukai , Hitotsubashi University Professor
Courtesy http://www.fccj.or.jp/node/6921
Language:
The speech and Q & A will be in Japanese with English interpretation

Description:
Police arrested 12 demonstrators at a peaceful rally in Shinjuku against nuclear power plants on September 11. Five of the 12 are still in police custody, being held without charge. The arrestees included a French national and his Japanese partner.

Police changed the route for the demonstration just before nearly 10,000 people gathered for the march. During the demonstration, witnesses say the police intentionally divided the protesters into small groups then deliberately provoked sections of the crowd. The incident has barely been reported by the Japanese press, and even some of the few reports that were published alleged misbehavior on the part of the protesters based not on actual observation but entirely on police accounts.

Some allege that this particular group of protesters have been targeted by police because they are made up primarily of young people rather than the middle-aged and older protesters who turn up at many such events. In other words, the police seem to fear the politicization of the young more than other age groups.

Are the Japanese police trying to silence political dissent through a systematic campaign of intimidation against the young in particular? Are the democratic rights to protest being observed in practice by those who claim to be protecting Japan’s social order? This event is an opportunity to reflect upon these crucial issues.

Scholars, writers and political analysts have issued a joint statement denouncing police suppression of the September 11 rally. The harsh measures against a peaceful protest may have enormous implications for the future in Japan. Come and hear what the speakers have to say and judge for yourself.

Please reserve in advance, still & TV cameras inclusive. Reservations and cancellations are not complete without confirmation.

Professional Activities Committee
Posted by Akiko Saikawa on Mon, 2011-09-26 15:37
ENDS

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Begin forwarded message:

From: “H-Japan Editor, Rikiei Shibasaki”
Date: September 26, 2011
To: H-JAPAN@H-NET.MSU.EDU
Subject: H-Japan (E): 60,000 in Sayonara Genpatsu Demo in Tokyo; a politics of survival; women looking out for their, and Japan’s, children…
Reply-To: H-NET/KIAPS List for Japanese History

H-Japan
September 26, 2011

Date: Sun, 25 Sep 2011
From: “David H. Slater”

Although it was obscured by typhoon 15 (does it never end here in Japan?),
more than 60,000 people marched through Tokyo in the “Sayonara Genpatsu”
Demonstration on Sept. 19th before the rains came.

Here is a video that captures the scene and some of the speakers, who
included Oe Kenzaburo, Yamamoto Taro, Sakamoto Ryuichi, and a moving Mutou
Ruiko (if you watch until the end of the clip).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5Q5cRWpQaU
And a short English clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzT-t4qguYA
And a collection of pictures from a photo journalist:
http://blog.uchujin.co.uk/2011/09/anti-nuclear-protest-tokyo-19th-september-2011/

Here is an English article
http://old.news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110919/ap_on_re_as/as_japan_anti_nuclear_protest
(Notice how Yahoo categorizes this: as “old news” [reproduced below])

There was some of the same sort of “precarity” matsuri atmosphere, but with
a wider age range of marchers, including the older people and young families
we saw earlier in the summer were there also; more walking, less dancing,
and more smaller conversations going on, too. Also, in the area where I was
standing, many unions were there.

The discourse that has long been in the alternative media and activist
movements is now increasingly in the mainstream media and popular
understandings, and can seen everywhere: de-politicization. This story, as
rendered in both the mainstream press and in activist statements, town
meetings and causal conversation, begins with the a political failure–of
the Japanese government to provide reliable information and support. The
government’s political failure leads to ‘non-political’ alternatives taken
by ‘non-political’ citizens.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6gCDG-BE2M&feature=player_embedded

As things were breaking up, I asked one man why he had come. He said that he
was not a very politically active man, but thought that this was important.
A woman, apparently his wife, jumped in to explain, “This is not political.
We are here as part of common sense. As a mother, we have to think about
what to feed our children and where to live, especially if
the government won’t give us the reliable information. It is
our responsibility to figure out how the children will live, how to
survive.” Many if not most of the speakers call upon this discourse in some
form. The word “kodomo” (child) is often used in signs and posters

A politics of survival? A discourse that recasts the most political issue of
3.11 as something not political, outside of the political, more fundamental
and more relevant than politics? Of course, there it is nothing new in Japan
to label somethings “political” and others not. As in other countries,
“political’ here means cynical, self-serving, the opposite of civic-minded.
No one wants to be called “political.” Rather, people want to identify their
cause as of ‘economic necessity’ or a ‘national priority’ or best of all,
‘common sense.’

What is somewhat different is that now, the spokesman for this discourse
is, well, not a man at all. The image of a woman with her children, doing
the one thing that is the most mainstream (conservative?) socially
sanctioned, culturally valued and politically prioritized (if economically,
still a challenge to many) to women in today’s Japan: protecting her
children and the future of Japan. While this rendering of a woman’s role as
mother in a family (rather than in the workplace or community), its identity
with the state’s priority can also make it a powerful alternative voice,
against the state’s support of nuclear power via the danger of
radiated vegetables.

In the spring and early summer, when mothers marched against the power
plants, it got large press, for example:
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/member/member.html?mode=getarticle&file=nn20110709f2.html
And when mothers speak out today, their voices are far more valued than
those precarious part-time workers who we let clean up the mess in the power
plants. These woman’s voices are much more often amplified in our press
coverage than the other population in Japan’s core constituency at risk:
farmers. (Is it that we imagine the mothers to be our middle-class futures
while the farmers to be a dying hold-over from an agrarian past? Good link
on Cows and Farmers protesting in Tokyo here:
http://www.culanth.org/?q=node/417)

Why the failure to get townships relief and aid is not the primary political
issue today is another question…

David H. Slater, Ph.D.
Faculty of Liberal Arts
Sophia University, Tokyo

————————-End H-Japan Message————————

Thousands march against nuclear power in Tokyo

AP
Protesters in costume perform during the anti-nuclear demonstration  in Tokyo, Japan, Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. Chanting "Sayonara nuclear power" and wa
AP – Protesters in costume perform during the anti-nuclear demonstration in Tokyo, Japan, Monday, Sept. 19, …
By MALCOLM FOSTER, Associated Press – Mon Sep 19, 11:28 am ET

TOKYO – Chanting “Sayonara nuclear power” and waving banners, tens of thousands of people marched in central Tokyo on Monday to call on Japan’s government to abandon atomic energy in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident.

The demonstration underscores how deeply a Japanese public long accustomed to nuclear power has been affected by the March 11 crisis, when a tsunami caused core meltdowns at three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex.

The disaster — the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl — saw radiation spewed across a wide part of northeastern Japan, forcing the evacuation of some 100,000 people who lived near the plant and raising fears of contamination in everything from fruit and vegetables to fish and water.

“Radiation is scary,” said Nami Noji, a 43-year-old mother who came to the protest on this national holiday with her four children, ages 8-14. “There’s a lot of uncertainty about the safety of food, and I want the future to be safe for my kids.”

Police estimated the crowd at 20,000 people, while organizers said there were three times that many people.

In addition to fears of radiation, the Japanese public and corporate world have had to put up with electricity shortages amid the sweltering summer heat after more than 30 of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors were idled over the summer to undergo inspections.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who took office earlier this month, has said Japan will restart reactors that clear safety checks. But he has also said the country should reduce its reliance on atomic energy over the long-term and explore alternative sources of energy. He has not spelled out any specific goals.

Before the disaster, this earthquake-prone country derived 30 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. Yet Japan is also a resource-poor nation, making it a difficult, time-consuming process for it to come up with viable alternative forms of energy.

Mari Joh, a 64-year-old woman who traveled from Hitachi city to collect signatures for a petition to shut down the Tokai Dai-ni nuclear plant not far from her home, acknowledged that shifting the country’s energy sources could take 20 years.

“But if the government doesn’t act decisively now to set a new course, we’ll just continue with the status quo,” she said Monday. “I want to use natural energy, like solar, wind and biomass.”

Before the march, the protesters gathered in Meiji Park to hear speakers address the crowd, including one woman from Fukushima prefecture, Reiko Muto, who described herself as a “hibakusha,” an emotionally laden term for survivors of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Those evacuated from around the plant remain uncertain about when, if ever, they will be able to return to their homes.

An AP-GfK poll showed that 55 percent of Japanese want to reduce the number of nuclear reactors in the country, while 35 percent would like to leave the number about the same. Four percent want an increase while 3 percent want to eliminate them entirely.

The poll, which surveyed 1,000 adults between July 29 and Aug. 10, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

Author Kenzaburo Oe, who won the Nobel literature prize in 1994 and has campaigned for pacifist and anti-nuclear causes, also addressed the crowd. He and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, who composed the score to the movie “The Last Emperor,” were among the event’s supporters.

ENDS

Japan Times guest column: “Top 10 most useless Japanese Prime Ministers” (I contribute Murayama)

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" 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

Hi Blog. I was invited last week to contribute a bio of who I thought was one of Japan’s “most useless” Prime Ministers.  I was surprised to find that Murayama was not taken.  So here’s my writeup (#5, ordered by when they held office).  There are nine other biographies done by some very knowledgable writers and observers of Japan, so have a read of them here.  Enjoy!  (And if you think there are some even more useless PM notables, mention them in the Comments Section below — but give concrete reasons why, please!). Arudou Debito

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The Japan Times, Tuesday, Sep. 27, 2011
THE ZEIT GIST

No-nos for Noda: Japan’s top 10 most useless PMs

(excerpt, illustration by Chris Mackenzie)

5. Tomiichi Murayama (1994-96)

News photo

Short tenures, imprudent public statements, poor character judgment, weakness under pressure — when we think of useless prime ministers, all this seems like standard operating procedure. However, Tomiichi Murayama’s particular brand of uselessness was peerless. Essentially, everything he touched turned to sh-te.

It’s not as if Murayama had a hard act to follow. His predecessor, Tsutomu Hata, only lasted two months, and was most famous for arguing (when agriculture minister) that beef imports were unnecessary because Japanese have long intestines.

But Murayama was a case study in gutless leadership. His pattern of playing evasive games with the media and the Diet served him poorly during 1995’s Kobe quake, when it took him a day to recognize the disaster and send assistance — and several days more before he even visited the site.

Even potentially notable acts stunk. Murayama’s general apology for Imperial war atrocities was caveated into meaninglessness by both sides of the political spectrum, not to mention overseas observers. He barely developed a concrete platform beyond the perpetual narrow-focus leftist issues (the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty and war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution), while ironically giving even more power to the already very-powerful Japanese police (through the Anti-Subversive Activities Act, a reaction to the Tokyo sarin gas attacks).

He was the first Socialist Party prime minister, and the last. Having made a Faustian bargain to take the top job, he then proceeded to sell his party’s soul so blatantly that in his wake the Socialists were moribund and fractured. He proved to Japan’s voters that the left cannot govern, putting the corrupt Liberal Democrats back in power for 13 more years.

No other PM can be credited with setting back Japan’s development into a two-party democracy while killing his own party in the process. Yet. For that, he gets my vote not only as Japan’s most useless, but also its flat-out worst postwar prime minister.

Debito Arudou is the Just Be Cause columnist for The Japan Times
The other nine Most Useless Japanese Prime Ministers can be found on the Japan Times at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110927zg.html

ENDS

Patrick McPike on USG’s underestimated numbers re Japan’s abducted children (only about 2.6% of J kids see both parents after divorce), plus online petition to Obama Admin

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" 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

Hi Blog.  Dovetailing with the current thread on Child Abductions in Japan, here is an argument made by Patrick McPike that the US State Department is grossly underestimating the numbers of children abducted from one parent following separation and/or divorce in Japan.  Read on.  The most staggering statistic is, “only about 2.6% of the 245,000 children affected by divorce [in Japan] will be allowed visitation” with their second parent.  That’s unhealthy for a society as a whole, to say the least.  Arudou Debito

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Child Abduction in Japan… The REAL Numbers – part 1.

Posted on September 1, 2011 by pmcpike

(excerpt)

Unfortunately, child abduction in Japan is a major epidemic. Equally unfortunate is the fact that so few people are aware if it. Part of the reason for this could be the fact that the “official numbers” reported by the US Department of State are so wrong – and they know it.

According to the US Department of State [DoS], the current number of cases are as follows:

  • Since  1994, the Office of Children’s Issues has opened  230 cases involving 321 children abducted to or wrongfully retained in Japan.
  • As of January 7, 2011, the Office of Children’s Issues has  100 active cases involving 140 children.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo reports an additional 31 cases in which both parents and the child(ren) reside  in Japan but one parent has been denied access to the child(ren).

The DoS further acknowledges on their website that, “To date, the Office of Children’s Issues does not have a record of any cases resolved through a favorable Japanese court order or through the assistance of the Japanese government.”

So question number 1 that arises: What is behind the missing 130 cases?

Wait, did you catch that?  DoS has admitted to opening 230 cases.  Has acknowledged that Japan has never returned any children.  But somehow only has 100 active cases.  We will get back to this…

Another interesting “official number” is 31.  The number of cases “acknowledged” by the Department of State, where the foreign parent is being denied access to their child after separation or divorce has occurred within Japan.  This number, frankly, is just completely shameful.

Based on research done by both Law Professors in Japan and by Left-Behind Parents, we know that these cases number into the thousands.

In the english translation (Translation by Matthew J. McCauley of University of Washington’s Law School) of a paper written by Professor Tanase in 2009  (who has also been used as a consultant by DoS) he states, using statistics provided by various Japanese sources, that:

“ Over 251,000 married couples separated in 2008, and if this number is divided by the 726,000 marriages in the same year, roughly one out of every 2.9 marriages will end in divorce. Out of all divorcing couples, 144,000 have children, equaling about 245,000 children in all. Seeing as roughly 1.09 million children were born this year, about one out of every 4.5 children will experience divorce before reaching adulthood. Even with the increase in visitation awards, only about 2.6% of the 245,000 children affected by divorce [in Japan] will be allowed visitation. “

To simplify it:  Out of 245,000 children who’s parent’s are divorced in Japan ONLYabout 6300 children will be allowed to maintain some level of contact with their “non-custodial parent” (We’ll get back to how custody is determined).  The remaining 238,700 children have one parent ceremoniously cut completely and suddenly from their life – often being punished, either emotionally or physically, by the “custodial parent” if they ask to continue to see the removed parent.

In addition, based on statistics provided by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (and gathered by Left-Behind Parent: John Gomez):

  • From 1992 to 2009, there have been 7,449 divorces between an American and a Japanese in Japan.
  • Of those Americans, 6,208 were men, and 1,241 were women.
  • According to the statistics, there is, on average, one child per divorce in Japan

So when you take 7,449 divorces (each with an average of 1 child based on the above statistics) and use Professor Tanase’s 2.6% estimate (which should be expected to be higher than would actually apply to foreign parents), that leaves you with approximately 7,255 children of US citizens (just counting data up to 2009) that are being denied access to their US parent.

On top of that there are at least four “X-factors”:…

Read the rest of the site at:

http://letterstomysons.com/2011/09/01/child-abduction-in-japan-the-real-numbers-part-1/

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

From: Patrick McPike

Subject: White House Petition Regarding Japan and International Child Abduction
Date: September 22, 2011

I just started a petition on the White House Petitions site, We the People.
Will you sign it? http://wh.gov/gKV And then share it?

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

PUBLICLY press Japan for the return of Abducted US Children and provide transparent dialogs with Japan on this issue.

Hundreds, if not thousands (Child Abduction in Japan… The REAL Numbers – http://bit.ly/pteCAe ), of US Citizen Children have been abducted to, or retained in, the country of Japan.

Japan has never returned a single child, has no legal concept of “joint-custody”, no enforcement of visitation, no requirement for rules of evidence on claims of DV.

The US Congress, in HR1326, has publicly condemned Japan and demanded the immediate return of this children.

However, the Executive Branch has only held back-room discussions. Additionally, there are persuasive claims the DoS is significantly downplaying the number of actual cases.

There needs to be complete transparency into this process, and public condemnation of Japan. These are our country’s children. We the people deserve to know if they are being traded for bases or other government goals.

Go to: http://wh.gov/gKV

ENDS

BAChome.org: President Obama addresses Japan Child Abduction Issue with Japan’s PM Noda, demands preexisting abduction cases be included

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" 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

Hi Blog.  Got this last night from Paul Toland at BAChome.org.  Very proud of you all.  You’ve turned individual feelings of pain and powerlessness into a social movement, with negotiations at the highest echelons of international relations.  Well done!  Arudou Debito

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

From: Paul Toland
Subject: Historic Day – President Obama addresses Japan Child Abduction
To: crc-japan@yahoogroups.com
Date: Thursday, September 22, 2011, 1:48 PM

Hello all,

Yesterday was an historic day. For the first time ever, the Japan Child Abduction issue reached the highest levels of our government. President Obama addressed the issue, to include both the Hague Convention and resolution of existing cases, in his meeting with Prime Minister Noda in New York yesterday.

This you tube link will take you directly to the remarks made by Assistant Secretary Campbell in the State Department briefing regarding the President’s meeting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsAI3C_1zOY

For those who cannot view the link, the exact statement is here:

AS Campbell: “The President also very strongly affirmed the Japanese decision to enter into The Hague Convention – asked that this – on Child Abduction – asked that these steps be taken clearly and that the necessary implementing legislation would be addressed. He also indicated that while that was an important milestone for Japan, that – he also asked the Japanese prime minister and the government to focus on the preexisting cases, the cases that have come before. The prime minister indicated that very clearly, he knew about the number of cases. He mentioned 123. He said that he would take special care to focus on these particular issues as we – as Japan also works to implement the joining of The Hague Convention, which the United States appreciates greatly.”

Many thanks to ALL who have worked this issue for the past 15 years to get us to this point. You all contributed in some way. From Walter and Brian, who co-founded CRC 15 years ago, to all who continue that work today.

Attached is a letter from BAC Home to the President, delivered last week to the White House on behalf of BAC Home by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.

Additionally, I have attached a letter sent to the President by Congressman Chris Smith asking that the President address the issue. We all owe a great deal of thanks to Congressman Smith, and the members of BAC Home wish to personally thank him for referring to the BAC Home organization in his letter to the President.

Letters as PDFs:

Mr President (BAChome)_2011_09_15

Pres Obama (Congressman Smith) Japan

 

JPG versions:

It is now our duty and obligation to keep this issue at this high level, and push for further public discussion of this issue by our government officials, until we are reunited with our children.

Sincerely, Paul Toland
BAChome.org, P.O. Box 16254, Arlington, VA 22215 • www.BAChome.org • BAChome@BAChome.org

ENDS

BAChome.org: Official correspondence re nonfeasance and negligence by US Consulate Osaka regarding the Mary Lake Child Abduction Case (allegations of USG refusing assistance to US citizen child)

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" 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

Hi Blog. Today’s entry is regards to the Mary Lake Case, which was covered on Debito.org some weeks ago, and caused some controversy (including trolling emails) regarding differing accounts of treatment of a US citizen minor who unsuccessfully asked for protection and sanctuary from US Consulate Osaka.  Here is a followup series of emails between concerned Left-Behind Parents at BAChome.org and the US State Department. Reproduced with permission. Arudou Debito

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

From: Paul Toland [mailto:pptoland@…]
Sent: Friday, August 26, 2011 8:04 AM
To: Campbell, Kurt M; Loi, James L; Jacobs, Janice L; Kennedy, Patrick F; Burns, William J; Steinberg, James B; spower@nss.eop.gov; sduncan@nss.eop.gov; Posner, Michael H; Busby, Scott W; cpowell@nss.eop.gov; MacLeod, Margaret G; Payne, Beth A; vvause@state.gov; Eye, Stefanie B; Jacobs, Susan S
Subject: Incident at Osaka Consulate

Two days ago, a kidnapped child in one of the most high-profile Japan abduction cases (Mary Victoria Lake) showed up at a US Consulate in Japan asking to be rescued and sent home to her lawful parent in the United States. The consuate denied her request and sent her back to her kidnapper. This action was beyond incompetent. It was reprehensible, disgraceful,disgusting,and un-American.

This is the third time State has failed this parent. Twice previously, State illegally issued passports for his daughter without obtaining the father’s signature, even after it had been established that her father was the lawful parent and the mother was a wanted kidnapper.

I am at a loss for words. I can only say that it is very clearly apparent now to all parents victimized by the crime of parental child abduction that the State Department clearly places relations with foreign nations over the safety, well-being and lives of American citizen children. Absolutely sickening.

Paul Toland
Commander, US Navy
Only living parent of Erika Toland, Abducted to Japan 2003.

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

From: Jacobs, Janice L
Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate
To: “Paul Toland” Cc: “Campbell, Kurt M” , “Loi, James L” , “Kennedy, Patrick F” , “Burns, William J” , “Steinberg, James B” , spower@nss.eop.gov, sduncan@nss.eop.gov, “Posner, Michael H” , “Busby, Scott W” , cpowell@nss.eop.gov, “MacLeod, Margaret G” , “Payne, Beth A” , vvause@state.gov, “Eye, Stefanie B” , “Jacobs, Susan S”
Date: Friday, August 26, 2011, 8:12 AM

Dear Commander Toland:
We have received your e-mail regarding the Lake case. The information you are reporting regarding recent events at Consulate Osaka is factually incorrect. While we cannot provide details to you due to statutory requirements in the Privacy Act, we have been in contact with the child’s father, who is aware of what actually transpired. I can assure you that U.S. Consulates in Japan, along with all other consular facilities around the world, stand ready to assist any child wrongfully removed from parental custody and do so on a regular basis.
Sincerely,
Janice L. Jacobs
Assistant Secretary
Bureau of Consular Affairs
SBU
This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

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

From: Paul Toland [mailto:pptoland@]
Sent: Friday, August 26, 2011 1:02 PM
To: Jacobs, Janice L
Cc: Campbell, Kurt M; Loi, James L; Kennedy, Patrick F; Burns, William J; Steinberg, James B; spower@nss.eop.gov; sduncan@nss.eop.gov; Posner, Michael H; Busby, Scott W; cpowell@nss.eop.gov; MacLeod, Margaret G; Payne, Beth A; vvause@state.gov; Eye, Stefanie B; Jacobs, Susan S
Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate

Assistant Secretary Jacobs, My information comes from the father. I have emails from him and have spoken to him. I would tend to believe his story. While I was not actually at the Consulate, I tend to believe what William is telling me, because he has not lied to me before.

Here is the email from Mr. Lake:

Wednesday Morning I got a email from Virginia Vause my newest case worker (#7 so far.) She told me that Mary had showed up at consulate and asked to be sent home. She also told me that Mary had asked them to put her up in a hotel. They refused. They apparently called my ex and got some sort of agreement that Mary could spend the night with her and then return to the consulate the next morning. Ms Vause said that the Osaka consulate had tried to call me. They called my land line instead of my cell. They didn’t leave a message because I only had a generic message on the machine and they were worried about so called privacy issues. So they sent Mary home. They also failed to send me an email.

I had several calls from Ms Vause and State that day. I was upset about Mary being sent home. I was worried that her mother had gotten physical with her again and that she might run away. I mean they must have some sort of accommodations at these places. Ms Vause informed me that the consulate could not get Mary a room because she was a minor. She also stated that the State department could not legally take custody of Mary without my written permission and that if they had taken Mary in someone from the consulate would have to be with her at all times. Her voice gave me the impression that this would have been an outrageous imposition to the consulate staff. According to her this is the law regarding these situations. At no time during the 4 plus years I have had a case with OCI has anyone, including the 7 different case workers I have had, ever told me that I need to give them written permission to take custody of my daughter.

In the afternoon the cost of the ticket became an issue. Apparently NCMEC is out of money for tickets. Then there was an issue raised by the consulate in Osaka, that the cost of a one way ticket was more than the guidelines allowed them to spend and that they couldn’t purchase a ticket without permission of Washington.

Note 1, I was asked to write a form letter saying that I was unable to afford the cost of the tickets. That is true. I have been unemployed since early June.

Note 2, The consulate was looking at the cost of a one way ticket. Approximately $3500. That is what their guidelines dictate and the maximum they could spend is $3000. However the cost of a roundtrip ticket is $2500.

Note 3, there was never any discussion about sharing the cost. It was over there guidelines so no ticket.

Now all this occurred between 0830 am and 900pm Wednesday. There were other calls to and from NCMEC. I got the Pensacola Police involved. Sgt Donohoe PPD is a wonderful man that alerted NCMEC and other law enforcement agencies. 845 pm Ms Vause called and said that Mary had not shown up at the consulate but had called and asked for a week to think about coming back. There was also the issue of the cost of the tickets which I could not afford. She suggested that I contact friends and relatives to see if I could round up the money for a ticket.

Today Thursday she called to talk to me about a repatriation loan. That I would have to submit these forms to State and that once they were processed they would be on file and that if Mary EVER DID THIS AGAIN then the forms would be in my file and the ticket could be bought with no problem. She told me that it would take a week or more to process this. She did mention that I should keep my receipts and that there was a chance NCMEC would reimburse me at a later date.

This is just another example of how the State department has mishandled my case.

ENDS

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

From: Payne, Beth A Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor
To: “Paul Toland” , CAPTLAKE@MCHSI.COM
Cc: “Campbell, Kurt M” , “Loi, James L” , “Kennedy, Patrick F” , “Burns, William J” , “Steinberg, James B” , spower@nss.eop.gov, sduncan@nss.eop.gov, “Posner, Michael H” , “Busby, Scott W” , cpowell@nss.eop.gov, “MacLeod, Margaret G” , vvause@state.gov, “Eye, Stefanie B” , “Jacobs, Susan S” , “Jacobs, Janice L” , Allison.Hollabaugh@mail.house.gov, bac-home@googlegroups.com, Ariana_Reks@boxer.senate.gov, brianna.keilar@cnn.com, RoosJV@state.gov, Sarah.M.Netter@abc.com, Sharon.Santurri@mail.house.gov, JDonohoe@ci.pensacola.fl.us, dbergsan@gmail.com
Date: Thursday, September 1, 2011, 5:25 AM

Dear Mr. Lake and Cdr. Toland:

Thank you for your emails of August 26 regarding your concerns about Mary Lake and the Department of State’s response to her request for assistance last week in Osaka. While our policy is to discuss case-specific questions and concerns only with the parent and his or her designated representatives, Mr. Lake’s most recent Privacy Act Waiver allows us to speak about his case with other people and we can, therefore, respond simultaneously to your inquiries in order to clarify the status of this case. We regret that Mr. Lake has misunderstood many of the facts concerning the events of last week, and we hope this email helps to clarify what took place, and reassures you both that consular staff in Osaka and in the Office of Children’s Issues responded to Mary’s requests and offered to provide her the assistance she initially requested.

I reiterate that the Consular Officer in charge of American Services in Osaka and the Office of Children’s Issues together report a very different version of what happened. I have examined the steps and action taken since Mary first contacted the Consulate, and I can confirm that all action was proper, thorough, and responsive.

To ensure that I address all of your stated concerns, I am responding below with interlinear comments to the email that Mr. Lake wrote ([formatted in bold and] in italics) and which Cdr. Toland forwarded to me on August 26:

Wednesday Morning I got a email from Virginia Vause my newest case worker (#7 so far.) She told me that Mary had showed up at consulate and asked to be sent home. She also told me that Mary had asked them to put her up in a hotel. They refused. They apparently called my ex and got some sort of agreement that Mary could spend the night with her and then return to the consulate the next morning.

Mary called the Consulate at 5:00 p.m. on August 24 and requested that a consular officer contact her father to ask him to either fly her home or pay for long-term hotel accommodations in Japan. She did not visit the consulate. A consular officer in Osaka spoke with Mary at length and confirmed that she felt safe with her mother for the evening, that she was not in danger, and that she did not wish to leave her mother’s house that evening. Mary told the consular officer she would call again in the morning. The Consulate immediately notified the Office of Children’s Issues and began coordinating travel arrangements for the next day. The next morning, Mary called the consulate to report she would remain in Japan with her mother for the time being.

I had several calls from Ms Vause and State that day. I was upset about Mary being sent home. I was worried that her mother had gotten physical with her again and that she might run away. I mean they must have some sort of accommodations at these places. Ms Vause informed me that the consulate could not get Mary a room because she was a minor. She also stated that the State department could not legally take custody of Mary without my written permission and that if they had taken Mary in someone from the consulate would have to be with her at all times. Her voice gave me the impression that this would have been an outrageous imposition to the consulate staff. According to her this is the law regarding these situations. At no time during the 4 plus years I have had a case with OCI has anyone, including the 7 different case workers I have had, ever told me that I need to give them written permission to take custody of my daughter.

As soon as Ms. Vause in the Office of Children’s Issues received word from the Consulate that Mary was trying to reach her father, she called Mr. Lake and relayed Mary’s message. At that point, Mr. Lake stated that he could not pay for her airline ticket and that he would soon depart the country for a six-week work assignment. In her phone call with Mr. Lake, Ms. Vause was focused on the primary objectives of passing Mary’s message, determining if someone would be available to receive her in Florida, and determining if Mr. Lake could purchase her ticket home. The question of hotel lodging and/or refuge was not her focus because Mary did not request refuge or an alternative place to stay that evening. We are very concerned with Mary’s well-being and if there had been any indication that Mary’s welfare was in jeopardy, I assure you both that the Consulate would have taken immediate action to protect her. When necessary, consular officials will allow U.S. Citizen children in need of protection to stay at our facilities until appropriate lodging can be arranged.

In the afternoon the cost of the ticket became an issue. Apparently NCMEC is out of money for tickets. Then there was an issue raised by the consulate in Osaka, that the cost of a one way ticket was more than the guidelines allowed them to spend and that they couldn’t purchase a ticket without permission of Washington.
Note 1, I was asked to write a form letter saying that I was unable to afford the cost of the tickets. That is true. I have been unemployed since early June.
Note 2, The consulate was looking at the cost of a one way ticket. Approximately $3500. That is what their guidelines dictate and the maximum they could spend is $3000. However the cost of a roundtrip ticket is $2500.
Note 3, there was never any discussion about sharing the cost. It was over there guidelines so no ticket.

Upon learning that Mr. Lake was unable to pay for his daughter’s travel home, both Consulate and Children’s Issues officers began searching for alternate funding sources, including funding from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and a possible repatriation loan. While we were moving forward on this request in order to facilitate travel that day, Mary called the Consulate and reported that she wished to remain in Japan with her mother for the time being. Ms. Vause relayed this message to Mr. Lake immediately and continued to discuss funding options and procedures in case Mary did decide that she wished to travel to Florida.

Please allow me to clarify how the repatriation loan program works. The cost of a child’s travel to the United States, even in abduction cases, is the responsibility of the parent. In the event that a parent cannot cover the cost of the airline ticket, the U.S. government is able to provide a repatriation loan through a program that includes certain criteria that must be met in order to demonstrate need and to ensure eventual repayment. I regret that a repatriation loan cannot be set up in advance. Ms. Vause suggested to Mr. Lake, after Mary decided not to travel, that she’d check in after a week, and that Mr. Lake proceed with the paperwork required for a repatriation loan so that it could be quickly issued if Mary changes her mind again, thus enabling us to act very quickly to provide a plane ticket. Please let me emphasize that a repatriation loan is intended to provide emergency financial assistance when no other funds are available. We did consider Mary’s desire to return home to be an emergency and were prepared to assist Mr. Lake with obtaining such funds. We would also be happy to facilitate a transfer of funds if Mr. Lake is able to cover the costs of a plane ticket.

Now all this occurred between 0830 am and 900pm Wednesday. There were other calls to and from NCMEC. I got the Pensacola Police involved. Sgt Donohoe PPD is a wonderful man that alerted NCMEC and other law enforcement agencies. 845 pm Ms Vause called and said that Mary had not shown up at the consulate but had called and asked for a week to think about coming back. There was also the issue of the cost of the tickets which I could not afford. She suggested that I contact friends and relatives to see if I could round up the money for a ticket.

Today Thursday she called to talk to me about a repatriation loan. That I would have to submit these forms to State and that once they were processed they would be on file and that if Mary EVER DID THIS AGAIN then the forms would be in my file and the ticket could be bought with no problem. She told me that it would take a week or more to process this. She did mention that I should keep my receipts and that there was a chance NCMEC would reimburse me at a later date.

We feel we must reiterate at this point the fact that a repatriation loan was offered, and would have been available if Mr. Lake had been unable to pay for Mary’s return flight home.

This is just another example of how the State department has mishandled my case.

While we regret that Mr. Lake does not feel that he has been well-served by the Department of State, the U.S. Consulate in Osaka and Children’s Issues continue to have Mary’s well-being at the top of our priorities. At this point, the Consulate in Osaka strongly wishes to facilitate a phone call between Mary and Mr. Lake, as they have done in the past, to allow for further discussion about Mary’s future. As always, we stand ready to assist any child wrongfully removed from his or her home of habitual residence. I trust this information is useful to both of you.
Sincerely,

This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

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

From: Paul Toland [mailto:pptoland@]
Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2011 5:20 PM
To: CAPTLAKE@MCHSI.COM; Beth APayne
Cc: Kurt MCampbell; James LLoi; Patrick FKennedy; William JBurns; James BSteinberg; spower@nss.eop.gov; sduncan@nss.eop.gov; Michael HPosner; Scott WBusby; cpowell@nss.eop.gov; Margaret GMacLeod; vvause@state.gov; Stefanie BEye; Susan SJacobs; Janice LJacobs; Allison.Hollabaugh@mail.house.gov; bac-home@googlegroups.com; Ariana_Reks@boxer.senate.gov; brianna.keilar@cnn.com; RoosJV@state.gov; Sarah.M.Netter@abc.com; Sharon.Santurri@mail.house.gov; JDonohoe@ci.pensacola.fl.us; dbergsan@gmail.com
Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor

Ms. Payne, We are very disappointed with the answers provided in your email below and have prepared the attached response. We hope you and everyone else you included on this email string will read it. We look forward to your response. Sincerely, Commander Paul Toland, US Navy

ATTACHED RESPONSE

===========================================
September 15, 2011
Beth Payne, Director Office of Children’s Issues U.S. Department of State, SA-29 2201 C Street NW, SA-29 4th floor Washington, DC 20520-2818

Ms. Payne,
Mr. Lake has indicated that he is willing to provide a sworn affidavit that Ms. Vause told him his daughter Mary appeared in person at the Osaka consulate. However, even taking you at your word that Mary Lake called the consulate, we are simply distraught that the consulate employees did not do more to facilitate her rescue and return to her lawful parent.

Imagine that William Lake’s wife had abducted their daughter from Florida to Arizona instead of from Florida to Japan, and Mary Lake had called the authorities in Arizona asking them to “fly her home.” Those authorities would have kept Mary on the phone until they facilitated her rescue and brought the felon criminal abductor to justice. Now we understand that in an overseas environment, the State Department does not have the authority to physically go to the child in Japan to facilitate the rescue, but the State Department certainly had both the DUTY and OBLIGATION to obtain the same end result… to facilitate the rescue Mary Lake by asking the child victim of this felony crime to come to the consulate so they could then coordinate her rescue, yet this was never done.

You state that Mary “did not request refuge or an alternative place to stay that evening.” Are you seriously trying to place the burden and responsibility of having to request refuge upon a minor child who has been kidnapped and held in a foreign country for six years? She may not even understand such a concept. She called and reached out to the only American refuge she could find at the US Consulate, and they burdened her with an adult responsibility, eventually turning her away back to her captor?

And how, exactly, did you “confirm that (Mary) felt safe” with her felon kidnapper, and that she “was not in danger”? Your own Foreign Affairs Manual, Chapter 7, states “children involved (in abduction) have almost always been subjected to a traumatic experience.” What mental health worker counseled Mary Lake to determine her mental and emotional well being following six years of being held captive as a kidnapped child in a foreign land? If no mental health worker was available, then it was the State Department’s duty and obligation to err on the side of caution for Mary’s protection and proceed as if she was subjected to severe mental and physical trauma until a professional could determine otherwise. The consular officer was in no position to act as a medical provider in determining Mary’s physical and emotional state over the phone.

The State Department’s inability (or unwillingness) to try to talk Mary Lake into traveling to the consulate appears to be a failure of the State Department to acknowledge that the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) makes parental child abduction a felony crime and makes the perpetrator of that crime a felon criminal. The very fact that Mary is a child victim of a felony crime being held in a foreign land by a felon criminal is, in and of itself, enough to put Mary Lake “in danger.”

The State Department’s failure to act during the brief window of time available to rescue Mary allowed her to disappear again into the black hole abyss of Japan, to join the other 374 children abducted to Japan since 1994, none of whom has ever been returned.

We ask you to answer one simple question…if Mary Lake were kidnapped by a STRANGER and held in Japan for six years, and then contacted the US Consulate asking them to “fly her home”, would the consulate actions have been any different, and if so, why? The State Department’s DUTY to Mary Victoria Lake is no different than to any other victim of a felony crime, and for you to treat it otherwise is simply a flagrant disregard for the law.

We notice you also cc’d some of the press on your email response, yet you did not address our concerns about the fact that the State Department illegally issued a passport to William’s felon criminal wife, without obtaining William’s signature in violation of Public Law 106-113, Section 236. This, at least, tells us that IPKCA is not the only law that the State Department is in the habit of ignoring when it suits your purposes.

The State Department has conducted years of meetings, talks, meetings, talks, meetings and talks, but not a single parent has been able to even see their child as a result. This latest incident with William Lake’s daughter only further exacerbates the left-behind parent community’s total and complete loss of confidence in the State Department’s ability to protect our children. What happened to Mary Victoria Lake could have happened to any of our children, and this incident fills us with fear and anxiety that if a window of opportunity someday opens for the rescue of our children, State Department will simply shut that window, as they did with Mary Lake, rather than actually try to return our children.

Sincerely,
Paul Toland, National Coordinating Director
Douglass Berg, Eastern Regional Director
Randy Collins, Southwest Regional Director
Jeffery Morehouse, Pacific Northwest Regional Co-Director
Brett Weed, Pacific Northwest Regional Co-Director
Dr. Christopher Savoie, Midwest, Regional Director
P.O. Box 16254, Arlington, VA 22215 • www.BAChome.org • BAChome@BAChome.org
ENDS

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

UPDATE:

From: Payne, Beth A (payneba @state.gov)
Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor
To: “Paul Toland” (pptoland @)
Date: Friday, September 30, 2011

Dear Commander Toland:

Thank you for your letter of September 15, on behalf of the BACHome organization, expressing your disappointment with the information I provided to you on September 1, regarding the Department of State’s actions in the active abduction case involving Mary Lake. I regret that our response left you unsatisfied.

The Office of Children’s Issues, in coordination with U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide, is committed to protecting the welfare of abducted children. Facilitating their return to the United States is one of our top priorities. We recognize the emotional pain that left-behind parents face while separated from their children, and we will be ready to discuss additional details of Mary’s case with her father, should he wish to resume contact with our office.

For more information about the Department of State’s role in International Parental Child Abduction, please visit our website at http://www.travel.state.gov/abduction/abduction_580.html .

Yours Sincerely,
Beth Payne
Director, Office of Children’s Issues

ENDS

Discussion: JK on the oversimplistic panacea of slogan “Ganbare Nippon/Tohoku” etc.

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 Japan\" 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. Submitter JK also wrote a brief essay on “Ganbare”, and how it seems more than just a bit facile for the times we live in. Food for thought. I’ll put this under “Discussions”, which means I’ll comment less and allow more comments through (as long as they do not go ad hominem and do stick to point, of course). What do Debito.org Readers think? Arudou Debito

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

September 17, 2011
From JK

Hi Debito: I wanted to share this with you on a side thread not connected to debito.org as it’s been on my mind for a while now.

I’ve been pondering the following question — “If I had to boil down the essence of what it is to be Japanese using a single expression, what would it be?”.

My answer is 「頑張れ」.

And the situation in 釜石市 epitomizes this.

Brief synopsis of 釜石市: it is 90% mountains and 10% flat land — the former is basically a glorified fishing village that was wiped out by the March tsunami.

I did some research, and it turns out that this place has been flattened by tsunami, not once, not twice, but three times prior to 2011 (specifically, 1896, 1933, and 1968).

The city council is floating various reconstruction plans, such as making the sea wall higher, raising the elevation of the land, better evacuation response and improved shelters, a ‘dual-layer’ approach, etc. The plans are either not feasible (project cost is too high and/or schedule cannot be met in time to prevent another tsunami disaster) or cannot guarantee the safety of the citizens and/or their property (people must be evacuated into shelters, not all will make it in time, those who do make it will survive, but their dwelling and belongings will be destroyed).

It appears to me that 釜石市 as a city is untenable unless the national government or fishing industry is going to do something to ensure that this city can last for more than 50 years at a time (e.g. shoulder the cost of a 10-meter high sea wall). If neither entity values the existence 釜石市 enough to make this happen, then in my opinion, the city need not exist.

But I have not seen or heard this point addressed. 「諦め」, it seems, is not an option on the table if certain conditions are not met to ensure the long-term survival of 釜石市. I have, however seen and heard a great deal of 「頑張れ東北!」 and 「頑張れ日本!」.

As you can see, 頑張れ is not always appropriate — it can only take you so far, and then that’s it. The key of course is to know when to 頑張れ and when to 諦め, and I don’t see much critical thinking along these lines taking place at the moment.

On a related note, 「頑張れ日本!」 and 「頑張れ東北!」come across to me as over-simplistic panaceas for Japan’s / Touhoku’s woes, and because of this, I resent the use of these expressions.

Cordial Regards, JK

P.S. Compare and contrast 「頑張れ」 with “La Joie de vivre”, the essence of what it is to be French IMO.

ENDS

NJ topic du jour: Yomiuri, Mainichi, Nikkei pile on re free papers ads encouraging NJ “criminal behavior”, deemed “criminal infrastructure”

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. Related to my FCCJ article posted here a couple of days ago, we have the J-media now piling on about “harmful ads in the free newspapers aimed at foreigners”, encouraging criminal behavior. This is a national issue of course (as I argued before, articles/campaigns about foreign crime take priority, even drown out good news (or any news) about NJ residents in Japan), and essentially the same article becomes common to the major papers (submitter JK sends the Yomiuri, Mainichi, and Nikkei).

When I said to JK: “Thanks for these, but not sure what angle to pursue. People will (groundfully) counterargue that these sorts of activities advertising ways for people to break the law should be rightfully reported and stamped out. What would you say to them?”, JK counterargued:

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

“Hi Debito: I would say that I find it odd that on the one hand, the NPA is focused on ads in free papers enticing foreigners to perform criminal acts, whereas on the other hand, the NPA has, to my knowledge, yet to report on the number of pachinko parlors that paid out tokens / goods to players which were converted into cash (read: gambling, a criminal act!).

“To me, it’s obvious that the NPA is being selective in investigating potential criminal acts because in the case of the ads in the free papers, NJ are specifically involved.

“Wouldn’t it be great if the NPA, instead of reporting that x% of ads offered illegal employment, and y% of ads offered brokerage services, etc., reported that x% cash paid out was converted from pachinko parlor tokens, and y% of cash winnings was from stuffed animals?”

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

Point taken. Finally, JK sends a positive article towards NJ (regarding something cultural), but like I said in my FCCJ article, that gets confined to local papers. Might be because it’s a local event/issue, but so does anything positive towards NJ seem. It’s the negative stuff that becomes part of NPA campaigns against “foreign crime”, not the positive stuff ever becoming, say, a national GOJ campaign for “up with people”. Not the best examples, but anyhoo, good timing for these mild cases in point to illustrate a phenomenon I brought up. Arudou Debito

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

Over 730 ads for overstayers, fake marriages uncovered
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 16, 2011)
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T110915005701.htm

Many ads encouraging criminal behavior such as working illegally and entering into fake marriages have been carried by free newspapers aimed at foreigners, according to a police survey.

The survey, conducted by the National Police Agency in May and June, said 736 harmful ads were found in papers distributed in commercial and entertainment districts around the nation.

The NPA will ask publishers of free papers not to run ads encouraging criminal activity. It also may pursue criminal charges against publishers allowing such ads to appear in their papers.

According to the survey, 58 free papers distributed in Tokyo and 24 other prefectures have carried such ads. Of them, 26 were aimed at Chinese and 22 at Koreans. Others were for Filipinos and Brazilians living in Japan.

The free papers carrying the ads also contain information on daily life services and restaurant information for foreigners.

Forty percent of the ads, or 291, offer illegal employment, with some recommending work in sex-related establishments.

Twenty-four percent of the ads, or 174, offer brokerage services to falsify residential qualifications or social status. They included such messages as: “We seek illegal overstayers who want to marry a Japanese” and “We can change your illegal entry status to a legal one.”

The Metropolitan Police Department has uncovered a number of cases involving illegal work and fake marriages, including some in which readers successfully asked specialists in administrative procedures and others who carried ads in the papers for residential status.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////

Ads promoting criminal acts found in free papers for foreigners
(Mainichi Japan) September 15, 2011
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110915p2a00m0na001000c.html

A number of advertisements encouraging crimes are carried in free papers for foreign residents in Japan, the National Police Agency (NPA) has found.

According to the NPA, a total of 736 ads promoting criminal acts were carried in 58 free papers providing living information to Chinese, South Korean, Brazilian and other foreign residents in Japan in their respective mother tongues between May and June. Many of the ads involved such wrongful acts as overstaying visas and illegal work.

The NPA has requested the publishers of those free papers not to carry such inappropriate ads.

By content, 39.5 percent of the ads were about job placement; 23.6 percent about disguised mediation of certificates and status; 20 percent about soliciting unauthorized sales; and 6 percent about introducing residences.

“International marriage: We welcome those whose visas will soon expire. Will introduce partners immediately,” one ad says, while another says: “Hostess immediately needed. With or without a visa.” Yet another ad reads, “(We will introduce) nominees or guarantors. All Japanese.” Some advertisers falsely identify themselves as administrative scriveners, while others suggest assisting fake marriages and overstaying visas.

The NPA has named the services and means of communication that promote crimes as “crime infrastructure.”
ENDS
///////////////////////////////////////////////

犯罪助長広告:外国人向け無料紙58紙に736件--警察庁調査
毎日新聞 2011年9月15日 東京朝刊
http://mainichi.jp/select/wadai/archive/news/2011/09/15/20110915ddm041040067000c.html

国内在住の外国人向けに生活情報を提供するフリーペーパーに、犯罪を助長するような広告記事が多数掲載されていることが警察庁の調査でわかった。不法な滞在や就労につながるものが目立ち、警察は発行者に対して不正な広告を掲載しないよう要請している。

調査は5~6月に全国的に実施。中国人、韓国人、ブラジル人などを対象に、母国語で発行される58紙に計736件の問題広告が見つかった。文面は「国際結婚 ビザの期限がもうすぐの方歓迎 すぐに紹介」「ホステス急募 ビザ不問」「名義人・保証人(のあっせん) 全部日本人」などで、行政書士を名乗ったり、偽装結婚や不法残留の手助けを示唆するものもある。

広告内容の内訳は、就労あっせん39・5%▽資格・身分の偽装仲介23・6%▽(無許可・無登録の)地下営業20%▽住居あっせん6%--など。警察庁は犯罪を助長するサービスや通信手段を「犯罪インフラ」と規定している。【鮎川耕史】
ENDS
///////////////////////////////////////////////

外国人向けフリーペーパー 不正広告、58紙で736件
日本経済新聞 2011/9/15 0:29
http://www.nikkei.com/news/category/article/g=96958A9C93819695E3E6E2E0878DE3E6E2EBE0E2E3E39191E3E2E2E2;at=ALL

全国の警察が、繁華街などで配られる外国人向けのフリーペーパーを5~6月に調査したところ、偽装結婚や偽装養子縁組の仲介などをうかがわせる不正な広告が58紙で計736件掲載されていたことが14日、警察庁のまとめで分かった。

「国際結婚 20~50歳の在日中国女性募集 ビザの期限がもうすぐの方歓迎」「証明書発行 日本全国3日でお届け」といった表現が並んでいたといい、警察当局は発行者に広告の掲載打ち切りなどを要請している。

問題のある広告は25都道府県で見つかり、不法就労のあっせんなど求人関係が291件、偽装結婚や偽装養子縁組など資格や身分の偽装仲介が174件など。国別では中国人向けが531件で最多。次いで韓国153件、ブラジル39件の順。

警察庁は、偽装結婚や他人名義の携帯電話などを、詐欺やサイバー犯罪など別の犯罪を起こしやすくする「犯罪インフラ」と定義し、取り締まりを強化。一環としてフリーペーパーの情報収集を全国の警察に指示した。
ENDS
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Now for the positive one towards NJ, local paper only. Submitter JK comments, “Too bad stories like these are the exception and not the rule.”

母国の昔話:日本生まれの子に文化伝えたい 江南在留の外国人、紙芝居制作へ /愛知

毎日新聞 2011年9月15日 地方版

http://mainichi.jp/area/aichi/archive/news/2011/09/15/20110915ddlk23040285000c.html

ブラジル人やフィリピン人、中国人など37カ国約1600人が生活している江南市で、母国に伝わる昔話を伝えていこうと、市国際交流協会が外国語の紙芝居の制作を始めた。協会の早瀬裕子運営委員長は「この取り組みが親子の触れあいを増やし、母国への関心を高めてもらえれば」と話している。【渡辺隆文】

多くの外国人の子どもたちは、日本で生まれたり、幼少期に来日しており、自国の文化に親しむ機会が少ない。日本語が堪能な一方で、母国語を話すことがほとんどないため、両親との会話が困難という子どもも多いという。

紙芝居は同市で生活するブラジルやフィリピンなど人数が多い5カ国に絞って、それぞれ外国語と日本語を併記し、2人1組になって制作している。

ブラジル出身で来日17年目の杉原アンジェラマリ子さん(37)は、森にすむ妖精が動物や木々を守り自然の大切さを教えるブラジルの昔話「クルピーラ」を選んだ。杉原さんは「両親から聞かせてもらった時を思い出しながら作った」と話す。また、フィリピン出身で来日25年目の青山ルーイさん(44)は、何事に対しても優しい心で接すると幸せになるという「イボンアダルナ」を制作しており、「フィリピンには紙芝居はない。すごく楽しい気持ちで取り組んでいる」と笑顔をみせる。

紙芝居は年内の完成を目指しており、来年早々には発表会を開く計画だ。プロジェクターでも上映できるようにするという。完成後は他の自治体への貸し出しも予定している。問い合わせは市生涯学習課(0587・54・1111)。
ENDS

FCCJ No.1 Shimbun: “Nothing has changed”, my article on J media blind spots towards NJ residents over the past quarter century

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 Japan\" 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.  Last month the FCCJ‘s No.1 Shimbun invited me to give my opinion about “blind spots” in the Japanese media vis-a-vis Japan’s foreign communities.  Here’s what I wrote.  After a quarter century observing this, it was nice to put it all together in my mind.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito

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

Nothing has changed 

After 25 years, little change for the better seen in the media’s coverage of foreigners

by Arudou Debito

Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, No.1 Shimbun, September 2011.

Courtesy http://no1.fccj.ne.jp/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=481:nothing-has-changed&catid=71:sept-11&Itemid=101

Full September 2011 No.1 Shimbun with all articles at http://no1.fccj.ne.jp/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=71&Itemid=101

No.1 Shimbun archives here.

In the quarter century I have been examining the treatment of foreigners in both the English and vernacular media, I have seen little improvement. In fact, in many ways it’s gotten worse. The foreign element has been increasingly portrayed as the subterfuge that will undermine Japanese society. To crib from a famous book title, Japan has become not only the “system that soured,” but also the “media that soured.”

When I first got here in the mid-1980s, at the start of Japan’s bubble era, non-Japanese (NJ) were seen as quirky “misunderstood outsiders,” treated with bemusement for their inability to understand “Japan’s unique culture.” NJ were here to help Japan learn English and internationalize itself into its hard-earned echelon as a rich country in the international community. After all, Japan had just surpassed the per-capita gross domestic product of its mentor – the United States – so the media was preparing the public for Japan’s new role as oriental ambassador to the West.

Up in Sapporo, where I have spent most of my time, designs for NJ were a little less heady, but we were then treated like “honored guests” (if not “rare birds” to be sighted with joy). We enjoyed instant comparative-culture ambassador status, complete with token slots in newspapers and talk shows, to offer bright visions of Japan’s modern, tolerant, America-ish future (like the guest instructors who were brought over to modernize Japan during the “catch-up” phase of the Meiji Era). The local print and broadcast media offered us polite winces for our error-filled (and perpetually uncorrected – so darn cute!) Japanese, and we tolerated wasabi-laden food in front of the cameras.

However, the tacit understanding behind this century-old ersatz cultural ambassadorship is that ambassadors are temporary. Someday we would go home with the afterglow of pleasant memories, as a former guest of a faraway land with red lanterns and paper walls and all that. But that didn’t happen. Over a million NJ, your correspondent included, liked it here so much they stayed on.

Then Japan’s bubble economy burst in the 1990s. As economic indicators plateaued then headed south, the media mood subtly shifted. Perennially feel-good broadcasts (I remember one TV show entitled “Sports and News” – yes in that order) shifted to programs dedicated to “turning that frown upside down”; when they ran out of good news to report, they switched more to comedy and food shows.

Fortunately, these NJ media guests were still the “misunderstood outsiders,” only this time more as curiosities to be examined under Japan’s “pigeonhole everyone in cultural boxes” version of social science (visible in broadcasts such as “Koko Ga Hendayo Nihonjin,” a watershed show that pitted 100 motley Japanese-speaking NJ panelists against several even more motley Japanese tarento). This time, however, thanks to new visa regimes importing cheap NJ labor to preserve the competitiveness of Japan’s export industries (and keep farms and smaller factories from going bankrupt), NJ were now more culturally and linguistically fluent. They were beginning to speak for themselves, shape their own media image, and even possibly establish themselves as immigrants. But by the turn of the century, Japanese conservatives began to use the media to put the kibosh on.

The next phase, which has essentially continued to the present day, overtly began on April 9, 2000, when recently elected archconservative Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara made his famous “Sangokujin” speech. He claimed that some NJ were “repeatedly committing heinous crimes,” and called for the Self-Defense Forces to round up NJ in the event of a natural disaster as they would (unprecedentedly) riot. Even in light of the Tohoku disasters, where this has been proven as utterly false, there has been no amendment or retraction. But this speech emboldened Japan’s reactionaries (particularly its police, fortified by its new internal “Policymaking Committee Against Internationalization”) to see rampant NJ bashing as politically viable.

The 2000s saw the “reverse course” of the more liberal 1980s and 1990s. The National Police Agency launched biannual media campaigns against foreign criminals and “illegal overstayers,” showing how NJ were somehow committing more crime than Japanese as drug smugglers, gun runners and general disturbers of the peace. The agency offered images of foreigners invading Japan’s shores and pillaging its citizens, and established online “snitch sites” for anyone to anonymously rat on NJ suspected to be an “illegal overstayer.”

The established media was exceptionally compliant in disseminating this propaganda. They reported NPA crime announcements verbatim as writ, without analysis of the faulty claims and flawed statistics (e.g., reporting NJ crimes separately, however small, and as percentages – not as raw numbers – and without any contextual comparison with crimes committed by Japanese). By the end of the decade, the media was bending over backwards to criminalize NJ. Even when overall NJ crime declined, newspapers pinpointed selective crime rises, headlined crime falls in their English articles while marking it out as a rise in the same Japanese article, or manufactured news on the prospect of NJ crime rises.

In sum, the “blind spot” of Japanese media is that hardly any of it treats NJ as actual residents, with needs, concerns, and a stake in Japan. Local media do give spots on how NJ community events are faring, with the occasional update on social problems facing stricken foreign families. But that generally happens in areas with “high” concentrations of registered NJ residents (around 10% of total local population, achieved in increasingly fewer places as the NJ population drops). Rarely does NJ community news leak into more national arenas (unless, of course, it concerns foreign crime). Hardly anywhere in the Japanese-language media is a constant “voice” or venue granted to NJ regulars to offer an alternative viewpoint of life in Japan. (Please note, and this is not meant as a criticism, but tarento regulars like Dave Spector are first and foremost entertainers, rarely spokespeople for minorities, and foreign tarento have in fact visibly declined in number compared to their bubble era heyday.) Thus, unabashed bashing of NJ in the Japanese media goes unanswered without check or balance.

Have things improved since March 11? I would argue not. In March and April, Japanese media bashed NJ afresh. Despite foreign governments issuing advisories for their citizens to take evasive action during the disasters (which overseas Japanese in the same position would have followed), NJ were blamed for cravenly running away, deserting their posts (remember the “flyjin,” rendered in Japanese as nihon o saru gaikokujin?) and looting. Once again, there was no comparison with AWOL Japanese, and no questioning of Ishihara’s 2000 prediction that foreigners would run amok. Predictably, that frenzy has died down, and some media outlets have reported on the volunteerism and generosity of NJ in relief efforts. But in the end, I believe that NJ will get at most a token expression of gratitude (as I did from the Kobe Government – a “thanks” sticker that I treasure – for going down and helping out during the 1995 quake), but not what they really need – a consistent, national-level public recognition of their longstanding contributions to Japanese society.

The Japanese media is hard-wired against seeing Japan as anything but the “realm of the Japanese people,” with outsiders not allowed to “join the club” and express their views over time as insiders. Moreover, Japan’s reflexive media bashing of the outsider will continue to isolate it from the outside world. As both the Japanese and foreign populations continue to dwindle, along with the dimming of Japan’s future prospects, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

ENDS

Japan Times HAVE YOUR SAY Column offers reader feedback to my Aug 2 JBC column on “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Foreigner”, how difficult it seems to make long-term Japanese friends

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 Japan\" 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. Here are some comments from Japan Times readers regarding my August JUST BE CAUSE column, “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Foreigner”, how difficult it seems to make long-term Japanese friends. Good stuff within, as well as the prerequisite hate mail. A friend commented that I’d probably still get hate mail if I posted a cure for cancer! 🙂 Have a read. Arudou Debito

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Tuesday, Sep. 13, 2011

The Japan Times

HAVE YOUR SAY

The loneliness — or otherwise — of the long-distance foreigner

The Japan Times received a large number of readers’ emails in response to Debito Arudou’s Just Be Cause column published Aug. 2, headlined “The loneliness of the long-distance foreigner.” Here, belatedly, are a selection.

News photo

The elephant in the room

This topic is something of a elephant in the room for most foreigners I know, including myself. The number of close Japanese friends we have between us is close to zero — and not for want of trying on our part!…

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110913hs.html

Best review yet of my novel IN APPROPRIATE (and no, the reviewer does not rave about the book)

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 Japan\" 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. The thing a writer likes most, aside from (hopefully) the craft of writing itself, is to be read. The second thing is, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, is praise. But praise (or even agreement) is a huge luxury in my field. This is why whenever I put something on the market (as I have with six other books), I hope that reviewers, if they give a negative review, will at least do me the courtesy of reviewing the book, not the author. But in this small literary corner (i.e., books in English on Japan) where we have very few rewards (or awards) for quality, having a professional review one’s book professionally is also a huge luxury.

That’s why I’m pleased to mention Amanda Harlow’s review of my most recent book, novel “IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan”  (which just came out on Amazon Japan, so save shipping!), was featured on the Being A Broad website last week. She doesn’t really dig the book. But she actually DOES talk about the book both in terms of content and context, and offers ways in which the book might have in her opinion been better. The job of the reviewer is not simply to say what’s right or wrong about any work, but also to suggest improvements — offer the creator something he or she could learn from this experience to put into the next effort. Amanda does this, and I thank her for it.

Contrast this with hatchet jobs elsewhere — the mean-spirited and politically-motivated negative review of IN APPROPRIATE in the Japan Times (where the critic even “winces” at my very columns, and seems to think that my having the audacity to create Japanese characters for a book means I’m reducing all Japanese to stereotypes; no wonder — the JT editor in charge refused to review the book until ordered to by his boss, so I guess this is how revenge is sweet). Or this one of “JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Onsens Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan”, where the reviewer reviews the author far more than the book. Or this one of the same book, where the reviewer (with whom I had a falling-out with beforehand for an ambush of an interview) compares a work of non-fiction unfavorably with a comic book, and faults the former for not being as funny.

It’s a pretty nasty world out there, and it’s easy to be a critic. It’s harder to be a good critic, and people like Amanda Harlow I would like to salute and thank for a critique well done, even if she didn’t like the book much.  I of course don’t agree with all her assessments, but I think this review is fair and I can learn something from it.  Thanks.  Arudou Debito

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Book Review: In Appropriate
BY AMANDA HARLOW
Being A Broad.com review, September 8, 2011

Courtesy http://networkedblogs.com/mHuIh

Is it a novel?
Is it an opinion piece?
Is it a fact-packed academic essay?
Is it a thinly disguised auto-biography?
What is In Appropriate by Debito Arudou?
Unfortunately, all of the above.

Arudou, a former American and naturalised Japanese, is best (and worst) known as Japan’s most passionate non-Japanese residents’ rights campaigner–he of the struggles to highlight onsen and bars banning foreigners, worker rights, flyjins, and more.

Recently, he’s turned his attentions to When International Marriages Go Bad in Japan and, in particular, the many-headed monster of who gets access to, or custody of, the kids. In spring 2011, Japan finally caved to diplomatic and campaigners’ pressure and announced it would prepare legislation to bring the country in line for joining the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Japanese divorcees have long been excluded from their children’s future by a deadly combination of custom and law, but the campaign around the Hague Convention signing arose when non-Japanese parents (mainly fathers?) started fighting the status quo.

So this book is timely, and, with the speed at which legislation tends to move in Japan, will sadly probably remain timely for a while yet. It’s also a first foray into fiction for Arudou, the busy blogger and commentator.

Here is a novel about a young American guy who marries a Japanese woman, comes to Japan, has kids…and then it all unravels. Along the way we learn all about the customs and laws of divorce and child access and custody…and a whole lot more.

Our hero, Gary Schmidt, a callow youth from small-town US, gets his Japanese girlfriend pregnant. He does the decent thing and comes to Japan to marry her and raise a family. Instead, he finds himself the unwelcome son-in-law of the Matsunaga family of Fukuoka. When the English teaching business is going well, life seems good, and Gary even becomes a naturalised Japanese. However, as the economy slides at the turn of the millennium and the shine wears off the internationalisation bauble, his business and then his family life suffer. Divorce and the threat that he may never see his kids again force Gary into a desperate plot to rescue/abduct them into the hoped-for haven of the American Consulate in Fukuoka.

There are strong similarities with the Christopher Savoie case, but I imagine with enough details changed to keep the lawyers at bay.

Using fiction to explore social/political/legal issues can be an excellent way to get across facts and opinion. The author draws us in with entertainment and weaves in nitty-gritty which we might skip over in a newspaper or documentary.

However, In Appropriate isn’t a seamless weave of fiction and fact. It’s more like a hastily tacked together patchwork of Arudou’s undoubtedly vast files on human-rights issues in Japan. Gary Schmidt can hardly make a move in the novel without unleashing a couple of paragraphs of facts or opinion or statistics concerning Life in Japan.

He arrives at Narita and we get a tsunami of information about “The Eye” that guards/guides public behavior in Japan; how foreigners are natural suspects; how airport staff work; immigration lines for aliens; government terrorism fears; Chiba police checks; lunchboxes; I.D. checks and the Foreign Registry Law, Section 13, Clause 2…

STOP! Stop already! The guy just arrived at the airport.

And so it continues. Facts drowning out the fiction is the main weakness of the book. Main characters such as Keiko, Gary’s wife, remain barely drawn. In Chapter two, she is the shy foreign-language student tasting independence in the US–and then just the obedient daughter under-parental-thumbs for the rest of the book. A story about a marriage and its problems needs more depth about its protagonists. Keiko’s parents too remain cyphers for the Japanese System rather than crafted characters in their own right. The book gives Keiko’s father, Katsumaro, a bonsai-size biography to explain his anti-American feeling and one set speech where he lambastes Gary for his failings–but for a relationship spanning 14 years, it is thinly drawn.

Did Gary and Katsumaro never have male-bonding time together in an onsen? Drink together? Did this family never have happy times? There isn’t space in the novel to find out. One page has Gary suggesting a move Stateside to Keiko…only a page or two later we are into locked doors and talks about divorce.

Among other things, the novel needs a sympathetic character who gives the justification for the opposing attitude to post-divorce child access: that being brought up by one parent is best for the child and less confusing. No, I don’t agree with that–but I have a few wonderful Japanese friends and students who actually do. In Appropriate only gives us the legal situation and there is no space for the view of ordinary people who just think a clean break with a painful past is better for children.

In the Author’s Note, Arudou refers to his own divorce and subsequent lack of contact with his children. Maybe that is all too recent and raw to let him write too closely a portrayal of a Japanese woman and a family in crisis. But a more likely scenario is that he could not control the free-flow torrent of facts from his office and computer files, via his brain and on into the computer screen draft of In Appropriate. I’m linked with Arudou through Facebook and I know from his status updates that he was polishing off chapters at a rapid rate through Golden Week. He’s a great marshaller of information.

The fiction vs. facts problem does matter, though, if we are to follow Gary’s misadventures in Japan with general interest. I live in Japan and am the happy child of divorced parents who both played a big part in my life, so I’m interested in this story. Not sure of how someone with only a passing interest in Japan would feel. There is a story to be told here: How does an ordinary guy end up being dragged through the legal and media glare in Japan? It could happen to you…yes you…the non-Japanese resident in Japan who thinks all is well in your expat world. Maybe this book could be handed out to young foreign grooms at wedding chapels throughout Japan–beware marriage to a Japanese woman and the power of her family! Hold your kids close!

The Japan of the book is not the Japan of JET program recruitment talks or Yokoso! tourist campaigns because, apart from bento boxes, Gary’s world doesn’t seem too happy. We leap from Japanese sex lives to citizenship, then the economy and post-Bubble recession, off onto a sidetrack of “relaxed education,” and eikaiwa in quick succession, and into the home straight with family life, child rearing, divorce, Japan police detention, and the courts. I was grateful that Arudou isn’t really into food preparations and safety standards, or the effects of plastics on hormones–otherwise Gary would not even be able to buy his beloved bento in peace.

Interestingly, the strongest section of the novel are those regarding child rescue/abduction at the American Consulate in Fukuoka. I don’t think Arudou is writing from personal experience here, but through his campaigning activities he has certainly absorbed the emotion and details from those fathers who have and it makes sad, painful reading. The facts are so bizarre they don’t need any fictional dressing.

Who is the book for? I have an acquaintance, a non-Japanese man going through marrital problems at the moment. Should I give it to him? Would he enjoy it? Learn from it? I’m not sure. Newbies in Japan? Would they enjoy the portrayal of the country’s dark sides? Those of us living her already may recognise many of Gary’s experiences, but probably hope that our own family situation could never descend into this hell.

In Appropriate is probably best viewed as a testament to the hundreds(?) or thousands(?) of foreign spouses, mainly men, who have lost their children after divorce with a Japanese national.

One day, many years from now, will Arudou’s own daughters pick up this book in the bargain bucket of a English-language bookshop and wonder–was Japan really still like this in the opening years of the 21st century? Will they understand their father’s anguish?

I hope so.
ENDS

“The Douzo Effect”: One case study of a sexless marriage in Japan, by SexyLass

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 Japan\" 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. In line with the current thread on sexuality in Japan, what follows is a testimony by a NJ female, Sexylass, about how she got into (and got out of) a sexless marriage. She also talks about “The Douzo Effect” — the chilling effect that forced sexuality has on a relationship. Have a read. Arudou Debito

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The Douzo Effect
By SexyLass
September 7, 2011

I have always had a penchant for the exotic or the different. It is not the ordinary Australian girl that marries a Japanese man. There are a few of us but the most commonly-held scenario is Western men marrying Asian women (even if more Japanese men in fact marry foreign women). I love Asian faces and even though I am separated now from my Japanese husband something inside me still gets very excited when I see a good looking Asian man.

I studied Japanese at university as a mature age student and then I moved to Japan when I was thirty so I could really immerse myself into the Japanese language. I was a very lonely Western woman shagging the local temple’s Japanese monk whenever he could ‘come over and see me’ type of thing.

I met my (future) husband on a Japanese dating website for other lonely types. He spoke to me in Japanese. This was refreshing as the sexy monk who knew English never spoke to me in Japanese. This new man, lets call him Ken, charmed me by speaking to me slowly in Japanese, the way that every person in Japan expected me to speak to them in English so I could surreptitiously teach them English. Instead Ken did this for me in Japanese. Though we could probably have very well conversed in English as he had lived in America for a year of his life.

I stopped shagging the local monk and Ken and I spoke on the phone every night for several months in Japanese. We developed a long distance relationship over the phone. We had a lot of phone sex. I really believed that he was into it and his libido seemed quite similar to mine, that is, that he needed to have sex a lot. I had more long distance phone sex with Ken than I could count. Things looked very promising though we hadn’t yet met.

Ken began sending me gifts. It started with boxes of English versions of Japanese comic books. He sent me the English version of The Parasite and a few others because he wanted me to read what he read. He also sent me an orange wallet and said he had bought two so we could be like a ‘real Japanese couple’ with matching wallets. The gifts got bigger and more extravagant as time went on. There was an ice cream maker, boxes of chocolates and cartons of Lotte and Meiji chocolates, about as much as a convenience store would sell in a week perhaps. He also used to send me lots of chilled packages of meat. There was a lot of lamb, as Ken wanted me to experience the taste of his region. There were also a lot of sausages and beef and potatoes.

After a few weeks Ken convinced me to delete my profile from the dating website where we had met. I wasn’t keen to do it, but I felt obliged to with all the gifts I was getting and accepting from him. The gifts seemed never ending. I deleted my profile from the dating website.

I decided that I didn’t want to live in the same town as the monk anymore and that the only way to really emotionally leave the monk was to also physically leave the town where we both lived. So I got a better job in another prefecture. No longer was I going to be the English Conversation school slave catching trains all over Matsuyama all day from 6 in the morning till 10 at night with classes interspersed throughout train trips each day. I was going to be a different kind of English slave, an 8am to 4pm English slave. I had got a job as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) for a dispatching company. I was happy as I was going to be in Japanese schools hearing Japanese all day and although I was employed to teach English, at least I was going to be immersed in a more Japanese atmosphere. I had not come all the way to Japan to be told I could only speak English all day every day. I had studied Japanese as my university major so I wanted some kind of cultural immersion. I was happy to be going to work as an ALT.

When I arrived in the new town there was one more phone call from the monk but I sent him an angry text saying not to contact me anymore as I could no longer provide him with the emotional support he needed. That is to talk to him on the phone every night when he would call me after he had drunk a bottle of whiskey. The monk had alcohol issues. He had drained me spiritually for too long.

In the new town, the phone relationship and the phone sex continued with Ken. And so did the presents, as Ken sent me presents to settle in. These presents were too extravagant and really should have been a warning bell about Ken’s personality. I should have had them returned but I was poor and lonely and I was in love with him.

So I accepted the brand new fridge, washing machine, TV, couch, bed, vacuum cleaner, and microwave. It was over the top but the presents kept arriving. I emailed my mum and my best friend in Australia and they suggested to me that it was a dubious situation and that I should suspect something was wrong with Ken. Really I should have, someone who I had never even met in person was furnishing my flat with brand new appliances. I had heard lots of outrageous stories of generosity in Japan from other non-Japanese and I thought it was just that, Japanese generosity. I didn’t have much money at the time and I welcomed the gifts.

I enjoyed my new job as an ALT in Nagoya, I was hearing Japanese every day and some teachers in some staff rooms would speak to me in Japanese. Six months went by and Ken came down south to meet me. He was everything I hoped for, tall, dark and handsome and he took me out and he kissed me passionately on the first day. That night we slept together but that should have been a warning sign too. Although we had kissed lots of times that day I had to seduce him to sleep with me. He had got me excited through the day with lots of kissing and I thought he wanted the same thing as I did, wild hot sex. I thought he was really into me like I was into him. Though it seemed I did all the work and it was over within a minute. Oh well I thought, must have been the ‘first time excitement’ for Ken and he will probably take more time as he becomes more relaxed with me.

The next day Ken surprised me with tickets to his hometown. I stayed a week in with him and also met his parents. The meeting with the parents went well. They were kind and accepting of me in the first instance. The rest of the time we drove around his prefecture exploring and staying in various Japanese inns. There was enough sex in that week of our meeting for me to be satisfied. Once per night, and though it was at my initiation it didn’t phase me as he seemed to enjoy it. I was so happy to have met such a lovely man like Ken. I felt I had found true love.

Another thing that really makes sense to me now in hindsight is that I didn’t mind the lack of sex so much then, or lack of initiation by Ken as I had had some Australian boyfriends that wanted it all night every night. At that time I was relieved to have found someone that didn’t need sex three or four times a night. Though at the time Ken was probably wondering about this woman that had him ‘working’ every night. He was probably just being too polite and Japanese to talk about the fact that he didn’t want to do it so much.

It was a gorgeous week spent in his part of Japan and I went back down south with love in my heart for Ken. Six months later I quit my ALT job and moved prefectures to be with Ken.

I remember the day I arrived in Ken’s town; it was cold, wet, slushy and snowy. There was another warning sign when I turned up at the family noodle shop where Ken worked. I turned up and he didn’t seem too phased, he just kind of said “hi” and gave me the keys to his LDK (one room flat). His dad was in the shop and he wasn’t overly friendly either, though I had met him before. Perhaps Ken hadn’t even told his parents I was moving there. I mean it could be possible they had been quite shocked to see me actually turn up to live with their son.

I got a job as an ALT on the JET Program and life began as a live-in couple. We weren’t even living together a few months and the affection from him began to noticeably diminish. I remember one occasion when he came home after work and took my pants off. Ken went down on me, but only for about a minute, it didn’t last long, and that was the only time Ken ever went down on me in the whole 10 years we stayed together. Just once for a minute. Could you imagine just having intimate oral sex only once in your defacto or married life?

You might wonder why I stayed with him. I loved him and didn’t pay too much attention to the lack of sex at the beginning. Though I thought it was unusual I didn’t realise it was going to be a very serious problem in our marriage. But as he started to refuse my affections it became an enormous source of angst for me. It was a puzzle that I couldn’t solve, something he refused to talk about and something that I just hoped would get better and not worse as time went by. He wanted to be together all the time, just never sexually. I persisted to try and talk to him about the sexlessness but every time I would try to discuss it he refused to talk about it coming back each time with the same answer “nan no hanashi o shiteiru?” (what are you going on about?). We were both in denial that the marriage was not a normal marriage. I even suggested divorce back then but he refused to talk about that too.

Despite the pain of continuous sexual rejection I believed he truly loved me and I loved him and wanted to marry him. He never agreed or proposed though I suggested it. One day he completely surprised me by taking me to his parents’ house and announced that we were going to get married. I was shocked. And his mother must have been too as she burst into tears and hugged me hard for ages. Such a great show of emotion from Ken’s Japanese parents was quite phenomenal. Twelve months later we went to Australia and got married in my hometown.

The night before I flew out to Australia to get married I met a friend downtown for a coffee. I told her I didn’t really want to get married but my mother and his parents had gone to great expense and that I felt I had to go through with it. Really I shouldn’t have been so stupid, and so dishonest. I should have been assertive enough to cancel the wedding and at least pay my mum back for any money she had spent. I should have been a runaway bride but I was delusional. There is no excuse really, obviously I just needed to learn a very hard lesson.

So we were married. After a short honeymoon in Australia we went back to Japan and we never had sex again unless I insisted on it or initiated it. It was demoralising. It was shameful. Even in the first week of marriage I found strange messages on his phone of meeting rendezvous arrangements between him and various people. I thought they were potential girlfriends but in hindsight I think they must have been prostitutes. I confronted him and said I wanted an annulment. I didn’t care anymore and even told his parents about it, his parents screamed at him and he never did it again. Looking back I should have relied on my instinct. If you feel something is wrong in your relationship, well it is. If you think your partner is playing up, they generally are, what you feel is not imaginary.

It was like a prison sentence, not a marriage. I felt like I was in a sexual prison. The life sentence was that I would never have sex again with my husband but not with anyone else either because in the hope that things could get better I chose to be faithful to this man. I would get angry about it, then I would argue with him, then he would do something nice for me, take me out or buy me a present or tell me that he loved me. Each time he convinced me to stay in the marriage with him for love. This pattern continued for years. I would get angry and confront him and he’d convince me to stay, then I would calm down for a while always hoping for the best, thinking that one day our marriage might become slightly sexually normal. By normal I mean possibly we might have sex once a year or once every six months. I know now that if things don’t start out as you’d like they are not going to change into what you would like. I really seem to need to learn the hard way.

————————–

After five years I was tired of teaching English in Japan. And there weren’t many employment opportunities for non-Japanese where we lived. I wanted to broaden my employment prospects. Ultimately I planned to return to Australia and I hoped to get a job as a Japanese translator or interpreter. I thought I would try and get into an Australian university that offered the best course in translation and interpreting. I had to pay an invigilator and that person needed to be a lecturer working at a university in Japan. I didn’t know anyone so I took a chance and emailed a fairly well known teacher and writer. I will call him John. I emailed him and asked him to come over to my place and proctor me for a fee. John agreed.

And so John came over and invigilated me. I didn’t pass. My Japanese still wasn’t as good as I had hoped it was. Though John stayed for a cup of tea and a biscuit and we chatted. It was great to get to know John. He was divorced from a Japanese woman and as a matter of course we got talking about our Japanese marriages. I spilled over that I was in a sexless marriage with a great guy. How is that for an oxymoron, sexless marriage but great guy? “He doesn’t satisfy me or give me much affection, but he is a top guy, a good husband.” John identified too that his ex-wife had also given him years of sexless marriage. We made jokes about the ridiculousness of sexless marriages, and shared demoralising stories. Most importantly though I was given some comic relief to laugh at such a sad situation, being in a marriage when clearly one person didn’t want to be intimate with the other anymore. And possibly never had really wanted to.

One of John’s stories really stood out. He coined it the ‘Douzo Effect’. John recalled to me that similarly to me he had hounded his wife a fair bit as to when they would have sex again. To appease him, he told me that one night she got in the shower, dried herself off, then with a towel around her laid on their bed and said ‘douzo’. John was horrified and completely turned off. It was as though she was offering herself, her body but she was not actually interested in any of the sex that would take place. Literally offering herself for him to do with what he wanted to do with her, but she wouldn’t be there emotionally, just physically. As demoralising as it was we still laughed a lot about this story. And so the Douzo Effect was born. I never thought I would experience the Douzo Effect. John said another thing to me that day that really made sense too, “if you don’t like who you yourself are when you are with a person, it is time to get out of the relationship”. I listened and understood those words but didn’t act on them. I just kept hoping things would get better.

So life went on and I continued to check Ken’s phone. There was no sign of anything clandestine and in my denial I convinced myself Ken just wasn’t a sexual person. Ken got a spouse visa and came back to Australia with me and we moved in with my mother for 12 months. Later we moved into my townhouse which I had bought ten years previously. He got various jobs. He became mentally unstable. Countless times I tried to hug him and he would physically push me away. On the few occasions when I did initiate sex and we did it, his forehead would be all tight and frowning when we were in the act. It looked like he was physically repulsed by me. It was always with me on top and him on the bottom. He was too lazy to even make an effort to try any other positions. As long as he didn’t have to do anything and could just lay there he would ‘participate’.

It was a couple of years later when it happened to me. After years of very little sex and fruitless discussions (initiated by me) with Ken about the marriage the Douzo Effect became reality. I had all but given up trying to resolve the problem of our sexless marriage with Ken but I still mentioned it as a joke sometimes. I think I had already forgotten about it by the time he got back from his shower and laid on his bed (as we were sleeping in separate beds by then). I went into his room to say goodnight and he said to me ‘douzo’ as he lay there naked on a towel on his single bed. I couldn’t believe it, years later exactly the same thing that John had shared with me was happening to me. Needless to say I was completely turned off and didn’t take up the offer.

That was the last time I even talked about sex with him again. The Douzo Effect had turned me off so much I stopped even mentioning anything about our sexlessness. I began to completely give up on the marriage. I gave up trying to communicate with him about it and in my mind wondered how I could continue in a marriage with a man that never wanted to have sex with me ever again. I often wondered if I would experience mutual affection or sex again in this lifetime, before I died. I knew that my marriage was not a real marriage. By then I had even talked about my sexless situation with my family. My mother, my brothers and my sister-in-law knew about my sexless marriage. It was all so shameful for me. Before I had met Ken I had never spoken to my family about my sex life, that kind of thing did not feel right. But I had become so desperate and my self image was so distorted I couldn’t help sharing the details of my stupid situation with family and even workmates. In hindsight I think the sharing about it was the beginning of me emotionally leaving the marriage. By verbalising the situation I was beginning to clear a pathway out of the marriage. Though getting out was a long process.

Eventually there was no sex at all and by this point I no longer tried to have sex with him. After years of trying I no longer WANTED to have sex with him. We had not kissed for years. If he held my hand or sat next to me I would push him away, the same way he had physically pushed me off him for years. He had hurt me so much that I would not let him back in. I got fatter and ate more and more.

Despite Ken not wanting to have sex with me he desperately wanted a child and wanted me to go through the IVF process. He wanted an incubator. Thank goodness I was barren. I entertained this stupid thought and to cure my infertility I had an operation to get fibroids removed from my uterus. At the time I thought it would be my last chance at having a child. Funnily enough Ken’s grandmother had had the same operation. Her operation was so successful that she had produced four children after, one being Ken’s father.

After my operation when I was full of stitches and could barely walk Ken became mentally unstable and was in the end committed to a mental hospital for a few weeks. His family rang me and abused me and said that it was my fault that he had had his breakdown. That was interspersed with phone calls asking me to call the mental hospital and to interpret for them. After one too many abusive phone calls, I said to his mother that they would need to come to Australia to get him out and that they would need to do it through the Japanese consulate. They did, I didn’t hear from them much after that. They came and picked up Ken and took him back to Japan for lots of promised therapy.

Ken phoned me and mailed me from Japan as though nothing was wrong. In no uncertain terms I told him to stop calling me and in the emails I said I definitely didn’t want him in my life anymore. Ken was either angry or depressed before he finally broke down. He exhibited behaviours that didn’t correspond with friendship let alone marriage. He needed professional help. I did not like the person I had become in the marriage either. I had to begin to look after myself.

Unannounced, Ken turned up on my doorstep three months later. He said he was sleeping in his car. I felt sorry for him and took him back. He lived with me again for another twelve months. We never had sex again. We continued to sleep in separate rooms for those 12 months. I had become a mother figure to him. He wanted to stay in this mother-son marriage but again I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt that he was just using me for a place to live by then. He was also planning to set up a business despite being mentally unstable and having severe health problems related to his diabetes.

I suggested he find a share-house and so instead of calmly looking for a place online or in the paper he left in a wild rage. I did not throw him out, he chose to leave the way he did.

I heard from my sister-in-law who he had gone to visit and complain about me to, that he was sleeping in his car again. I was worried about him so I checked his mail. I know that is wrong but I was genuinely worried about him. I learnt that he had been sleeping in his car and emailing prostitutes and arranging meetings.

He had emailed a woman and arranged to buy her used knickers for the sum of $60 in a car park at night. Strangely though he had been coming back to my house during the day when I was at work and doing the dishes and putting the rubbish out. Buying used knickers at night and house chores by day.

After I discovered what he was up to, the proof that Ken still had sexual desires just not with me, I sent him a text asking for my key back. I also let him know that he wasn’t welcome in my house anymore. He returned my key and took the last of his things. I didn’t tell him I knew about the prostitutes, knickers or other strange mails. It was not going to resolve anything by this stage.

I have not seen him since and I don’t wish to. I still miss him, but I realise I am probably missing the Ken that I want him to be and not the Ken that he really is. I would rather be single and a bit lonely than to live in that lonely prison of a marriage. A marriage where I couldn’t have sex with my partner but I couldn’t have sex with anyone else either. I plan to have sex again with someone who mutually wants to have sex with me before I die at least. Now I have the freedom I should have granted myself long ago. I should have ended the relationship and not married but hindsight is only valuable if we treat it as a learning experience.

Basically Ken is a good person and despite everything that happened between us I wish him all the best. I hope he is ok but we don’t need to be married anymore, that is for sure. I think we are just two people that were getting older and got married for all the wrong reasons. We certainly aren’t the first and wont be the last.

—————————–

You might wonder why I stayed for so long, ten years with this man. I took my marriage vows seriously and tried to make the best of the marriage. I continuously hoped for the best, that things would get better. I even convinced myself at times that things could be worse and that I would be able to stay in a sexless marriage. Clearly the truth is that Ken didn’t desire me, he wanted a wife who played his mother. He is still interested in sex, just not with me.

It is really important that a couple agree about sex before they get married. No one is going to change and it is really important that your idea of marriage is the same idea of your partner’s idea of marriage, before you sign up. People get married for the wrong reasons. I did. I was lonely and I was worried about my age and finding someone. I also thought I had met the most wonderful man. He was kind, hardworking, funny, cooked well and always wanted to be with me. I ignorantly thought everything would work out for the best.

Being single now is great. I don’t plan on getting married again. I have a pretty good job and have interesting hobbies. I wouldn’t mind a sex friend or two but that’s all. I don’t want to live with anyone again. I am not holding out for Mr Right or even Mr Fantastic. I am not even searching for anyone. I am enjoying my life, my friends, my work and my hobbies. I like who I am and I will not stay in a relationship again because I think I have to.

EPILOGUE

Recently I took a risk and asked an acquaintance on a date. I didn’t expect anything to come of it but since I wrote my story I have had sex with this lovely man. He worships my body with his. Sleeping with him in the last few weeks has boosted my self-image and self-esteem more than thousands of dollars worth of therapy ever could. I don’t know where this relationship will go and am not worried either. I am enjoying the intimacy. The new man never directly or indirectly criticises my body. He accepts me and loves me for who I am. I did not realise how much the sexless marriage had damaged my self esteem until I finally had mutually desired sex again. The sex I am having now has done more for me than any therapy would ever do. I cannot emphasise that enough for anyone who is coming out of a sexless marriage. Hallelujah I am a woman again, a desirable beautiful woman.

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG POLL: “For Readers married to a Japanese, how often on average do you have sex with your spouse?”

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. At the suggestion of one of our Debito.org Readers, following my most recent Japan Times column on the subject of sexuality in Japan, I have created a DEBITO.ORG POLL (see right hand column under my book illustration) asking:

“For Readers married to a Japanese, how often on average do you have sex?” (with your spouse, you wiseacres!)

The options are:

  • More than once a week.
  •  About once a week.
  •  Less than once a week but more than once a month.
  •  About once a month.
  •  Less than once a month.

If this poll applies to you, please vote.  See right hand column on this blog page under my IN APPROPRIATE book illustration.  Your answers strictly confidential, of course.  Arudou Debito

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Sept 6, 2011, “‘Sexlessness’ wrecks marriages, threatens nation’s future”

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 Japan\" 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.  Thanks to everyone for reading and making this article the #2-most read article on the Japan Times online for most of the day yesterday.  Here it is up for commentary.  Arudou Debito

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justbecauseicon.jpg

The Japan Times Tuesday, Sep. 6, 2011

‘Sexlessness’ wrecks marriages, threatens nation’s future

Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110906ad.html

In its cover story last month, The Economist newsmagazine looked at the issue of “Asia’s lonely hearts: Why Asian women are rejecting marriage and what that means.” It offered many reasons — including economics, education level, changes in family structures and gender roles, divorce difficulties, and demographics — for why many Asian women (and of course, by extension, Asian men) are marrying later or not at all.

 I commend The Economist’s well-intentioned attempt at dealing with an important social issue. But its discussion left one major stone unturned: sex. 

At the risk of turning this month’s scribbling into a Hugh Hefner column, I think it incumbent upon those of us planning a life in Japan to consider a fundamentally unhealthy social phenomenon: how sexuality in Japan is downplayed, if not encouraged to be omitted completely, from many married lives.

First, an axiom: Healthy adults have sex throughout their lives, and this should not necessarily change just because people get married.

However, in Japan it often does.

A “sexless marriage,” according to the Japan Society of Sexual Sciences, is generally defined as one where couples have sex less than once a month.

Sumie Kawakami, in her book “Goodbye Madame Butterfly: Sex, Marriage, and the Modern Japanese Woman,” cites a 2006 joint survey by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare and the Japan Family Planning Association that found more than a third (34.6 percent) of all Japanese married couples could be classified as “sexless.”

This is a rise from earlier surveys and should be discussed in Japan as a social problem. After all, Japan has a falling population and a birthrate at the bottom of the world’s scales — demographic trends that garner more than their fair share of media attention.

But sexlessness is hardly seen as problematic in Japan. Quite the opposite. Hark back to the 1990s, when the sekkusuresu state was portrayed in the media positively, even as a natural outcome of marriage.

There is of course plenty of coupling and intimacy before matrimony (as I’m sure many of our readers can attest), but once kids are in the picture (people are even discouraged from having intercourse while pregnant), sex can decrease markedly or even become nonexistent for a habit-forming period of time.

Ask why and the reasons are usually forthcoming: One side is often “too tired,” “It’s a nuisance,” or the kids are sleeping in the same bed, etc. The more cynical cite the cruel aphorism, “You don’t need bait for a fish already caught”.

But there is a fundamental difference here from attitudes in other developed societies, where sex even into old age (“orgasms at sixty!” on supermarket shelves, and don’t forget Oprah, Dr. Phil, etc.) is seen regardless of family lifestyles as a healthy and essential part of a relationship.

Not in Japan, oddly in this “must try harder” society.

Then this discouraging set of expectations gets recycled back into our media and becomes self-perpetuating. Group-think gets people off the hook from trying to maintain intimacy, while people made to feel they “want sex too much” are sometimes told to take their loins elsewhere. No wonder sleeping around in Japan is a national pastime.

One might say this is just an outcome of modern life in a crowded society. But similar modern pressures and overcrowding exist in other countries.

Consider a more worldwide sampling of the issue.

In 2005, Durex, the world’s largest condom maker, conducted a Global Sex Survey (see www.durex.com/en-jp/sexualwellbeingsurvey/documents/gss2005result.pdf) involving 317,000 respondents in 41 countries. The survey found that Japanese had the least sex in the world, at 45 times a year — far less than second-from-bottom Singapore (73 times a year), and even farther from the world average (103 times a year, meaning twice a week).

Moreover, less than a quarter (24 percent) of Japanese surveyed said they were “happy” with their sex lives, significantly lower than the global average of 44 percent.

Durex’s more recent Sexual Wellbeing Survey, involving 26,000 interviews from 26 countries, found Japan at the bottom again with even lower results (15 percent satisfied).

One might counter that everyone exaggerates or is reticent about their sexuality, skewing the stats. But in international comparisons, Japanese are rarely shy about presenting an upbeat image of their society to the world. Such low figures for Japan say to me that people are being brutally honest about sex, or that a lack of sexuality is not perceived as something negative.

This matters. It is one more disincentive to marry in Japan. Indeed, why lock yourself into a marriage to someone who becomes a sibling instead of a spouse?

Sex life is not part of the dialog on the decline in Asian marriage. But in Japan’s case, it should be.

It is Japan’s worst-kept secret.

Arudou Debito’s novel “In Appropriate” is now on sale (www.debito.org/inappropriate.html) Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Twitter arudoudebito. Send comments to community@japantimes.co.jp. Responses to last month’s column, “The loneliness of the long-distance foreigner,” will be published and posted online next Tuesday.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 5, 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 Japan\" 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

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 5, 2011

Hi Debito.org Newsletter Subscribers. Let me start off with a heads-up about my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out tomorrow, Tuesday, September 6, 2011, on Japan’s Worst-Kept Secret: Sex Lives! Here’s the opening:

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In its cover story last month, The Economist newsmagazine looked at the issue of “Asia’s lonely hearts: Why Asian women are rejecting marriage and what that means.” It offered many reasons — including economics, education level, changes in family structures and gender roles, divorce difficulties, and demographics — for why many Asian women (and of course, by extension, Asian men) are marrying later or not at all.

I commend The Economist’s well-intentioned attempt at dealing with an important social issue. But its discussion left one major stone unturned: sex.

At the risk of turning this month’s scribbling into a Hugh Hefner column, I think it incumbent upon those of us planning a life in Japan to consider a fundamentally unhealthy social phenomenon: how sexuality in Japan is downplayed, if not encouraged to be omitted completely, from many married lives…
////////////////////////////////////////

Read the rest of the column here and now!  It will be up for commentary tomorrow.  http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110906ad.html

Now for the Newsletter. It’s a short one, since I have been taking time out this summer to detox myself from the Internet:

Table of Contents:

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1) BAChome: US Consulate Osaka refuses to aid American citizen child abducted in Japan who came to them for help
2) Sendaiben on MOJ interview for his naturalization, went badly: GOJ now requires applicants become STATELESS?
3) It’s time for the naysayers to capitulate regarding the Fukushima Crisis; referential articles
4) Excellent Japan Times article on GOJ reforms (and probable non-reforms) of child custody system post-divorce
5) 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.

…and finally…

6) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column, August 2, 2011, “The loneliness of the long-distance foreigner”, about the difficulty for NJ to make long-term J friends
////////////////////////////////////////

By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org)
Archives, Comments, RSS, and more at www.debito.org. Twitter arudoudebito
Freely Forwardable

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1) BAChome: US Consulate Osaka refuses to aid American citizen child abducted in Japan who came to them for help

BAChome: On August 24, 2011, 14 year-old Mary Victoria Lake, a U.S. citizen, who was kidnapped by her mother and taken to Japan in 2005, in one of the most high-profile international kidnapping cases in the United States, walked into the U.S. consulate in Osaka, Japan. She asked to be rescued from her kidnapper, an act of enormous bravery by a teenager who has been cut off from her father and held captive overseas for the past six years. Indifferent and incompetent U.S. Consular officials refused to aid or rescue her and instead sent her back to her kidnapper…

This is third and latest episode of gross negligence by the Department of State toward Mr. Lake and his daughter. Twice previously, they illegally issued passports for his daughter without obtaining the father’s signature, even after it had been established that her father was the lawful parent and the mother was a wanted kidnapper.

Almost all of the existing cases involve at least one parent who is Japanese. This case however is a clear exception. Neither one of the victims nor the kidnapping mother are of Japanese ancestry. There is simply no reason for Mary to be held in Japan. However, no one from the White House or The State Department is publicly demanding the return of Mary Victoria Lake or any of the other 374, and more realistically, thousands of American children held captive there.

It has become starkly apparent to the parents victimized by the crime of parental child abduction that the Department of State clearly values the relations with foreign nations over the safety, well-being and lives of U.S. citizen children being held captive in Japan.

http://www.debito.org/?p=9332

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2) Sendaiben on MOJ interview for his naturalization, went badly: GOJ now requires applicants become STATELESS?

Here is a report from Sendaiben about his experiences going through the rigmarole (found in every country) for naturalization. His most recent experience, however, was for him very negative and even off-putting, ultimately being told that he would have to render himself STATELESS in order to obtain Japanese citizenship.

Quite a different experience from what I went through more than a decade ago. And this is the country that encourages people to naturalize if they want rights? What a crock.

Sendaiben:I had a new case officer, a youngish guy in his mid-30s. He was brusque to the point of rudeness throughout our interactions, neglecting to use polite Japanese and ignoring me for extended periods several times. Not in the slightest bit friendly or encouraging, our interview went more or less as follows:…

4. He went on to explain how the system had changed from the last time I had it explained to me. For UK nationals, towards the end of the application process, there is a requirement that they formally renounce their UK citizenship, and obtain written proof of this from the UK government. At this point they become stateless, and are given special permission to remain in Japan until the naturalization process is complete. If the application is successful, they then receive Japanese citizenship. If unsuccessful, the UK will return citizenship upon request once…

I was actually very discouraged by this. Now, I am fairly sure that if I went ahead and applied, I would probably be successful. I have a good job, a Japanese family, I have been living here for eleven years, and am fairly well-integrated into society. I like Sendai, and plan to live here for a while, if not for good. However, I don’t need to naturalize, and probably won’t bother for at least another couple of years (when I will probably call up the Sendai Houmukyoku and hope that I get a more pleasant case officer).

http://www.debito.org/?p=9277

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3) It’s time for the naysayers to capitulate regarding the Fukushima Crisis; referential articles

Fukushima is a mess, just like we suspected it would be. More than five months later, the Japanese public still has insufficient information about what’s going on down there, and people are being slowly poisoned as radiation percolates through the food chain and begins to be picked up overseas. As I’ve said before, this is Japan’s long-burning tyreyard fire, and there is still no end to the crisis in sight.

But one other thing also has to be said. Back in March, when Debito.org merely had the audacity to raise some questions about the situation and the information we were getting, we were roundly criticized for being “alarmist”, “ignorant”, “wrong”, “reputation-damaging”, and even “racist”. One even said, “The greatest health effects of all nuclear incidents have been due to the anxiety that people like you are doing their best to ramp up. Thanks a lot for contributing to the problem.” That’s pretty bold — as if we were trying to instigate a panic and damage people’s health just because we wanted to know more information (which the nuclear industry worldwide keeps a lid on, down to the very science, to keep the public in the dark about their shenanigans and corruption).

Well, guess what critics — five months later, clearly YOU were wrong.

The Fukushima Crisis has exposed the inability of the GOJ (whether you mean politician or bureaucrat) to respond in a timely or safe manner, to follow the rules and safety standards (even changing safe radiation levels to suit political exigency), to show proper leadership or even adequate concern for its citizens in harm’s way, to release facts of the case so that people could make an informed decision, or to acknowledge there had even been a meltdown (something other observers knew based upon reasoned analysis of reactors’ output, but the GOJ would not admit), for months! The political culture which enables people in power in Japan to evade responsibility is now slowly poisoning Japanese society, if not eventually parts of the world, and that has to be addressed in the arena of public opinion.

Back in March, we at Debito.org did try to err on the side of caution and give some benefiting of the doubt (even shutting ourselves up when we had insufficient information). We wanted to wait and see how the cards fell. They clearly fell in favor of our original assertions that we were not being told the full story, and that things were far worse than was being let on. Now, critics, let’s have some honest capitulation on your part. You know who you are. It’s so easy to be a critic, but much harder to admit you’re wrong. Have the cojones to do that, especially about something as serious and society-changing as this.

Some referential articles follow, showing 1) the slow poisoning of children by Fukushima (NHK World), 2) how deep the institutional rot runs (NY Times), 3) more on the science of radioactivity and how seriously matters are not being taken (Japan Focus), and 4) the new attempts at spin-doctoring the situation, for starters.

http://www.debito.org/?p=9314

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4) Excellent Japan Times article on GOJ reforms (and probable non-reforms) of child custody system post-divorce

Colin Jones: Those focused on the government’s stumbling efforts to protect the children of Fukushima from radioactive contamination may find this hard to believe, but Japanese family law just got more child-friendly — maybe. If Japan finally signs the Hague Convention on child abduction, as it appears it will, it could become even more so. There is a big “maybe” here too, so it remains to be seen whether these two steps taken by the Diet will steer the country away from its status as a black hole for parental abduction or leave it treading the same sorry path.

On May 27 a law was passed amending a number of provisions in the Civil Code relating to children and their parents. First, Article 766 of the code was revised to require parents seeking a cooperative (i.e., nonlitigated) divorce to decide upon visitation, child support payments and other matters relevant to their children’s upbringing after divorce. Furthermore, the new provision says that the welfare of the children must be the primary consideration when these matters are decided…

Meanwhile, on the Hague Convention front, a legislative committee appears to be considering domestic legislation that will ensure no abducted child ever has to be returned after Japan signs it. A basic premise of the convention is that judicial determinations about children after their parents separate should be made in the country where the children have been living. Children who are unilaterally removed to another country should thus promptly be located and returned to their country of habitual residence…

Based on current proposals that I have seen, Japanese authorities may be allowed to refuse to return a child if (a) either the child or taking parent have been subject to abuse (including “violent words”), (b) the taking parent cannot return to the child’s home country because of fear of criminal prosecution upon return, (c) the taking parent is the primary caregiver but cannot raise the child in the home country for financial or other reasons, or (d) the helpfully vague “there are other circumstances” making return potentially harmful to the child.

http://www.debito.org/?p=9309

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5) 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.

Paper: 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 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.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=9235

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…and finally…

6) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column, August 2, 2011, “The loneliness of the long-distance foreigner”, about the difficulty for NJ to make long-term J friends

The Japan Times Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011
JUST BE CAUSE
The loneliness of the long-distance foreigner
By ARUDOU DEBITO
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110802ad.html
Blog entry with copious comments at http://www.debito.org/?p=9289

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All for now. Thanks for reading! Have another read again tomorrow at the Japan Times!
Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org)
Archives, Comments, RSS, and more at www.debito.org. Twitter arudoudebito

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 5, 2011 ENDS

BAChome: US Consulate Osaka refuses to aid American citizen child abducted in Japan who came to them for help

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 Japan\" 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.  Here’s the USG demonstrating how much it cares for the welfare of its American citizens abroad (despite being one of the few countries that taxes its citizens abroad).  One might make the case that the USG’s missions abroad are basically to project hegemony and maintain weapons sales.  I wouldn’t, though, never ever.  But this case is a nonsense and the State Department’s negligent Office of Children’s Issues should hang its head in shame and make people accountable for refusing to help.  Arudou Debito

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

U.S. Consulate in Japan Gives Kidnapped Child Back To Her Captor
Osaka, Japan – August 31, 2011 BAChome.com, courtesy EK and TK
Different version at http://www.crnjapan.net/The_Japan_Childrens_Rights_Network/itn-mltabsd.html

On August 24, 2011, 14 year-old Mary Victoria Lake, a U.S. citizen, who was kidnapped by her mother and taken to Japan in 2005, in one of the most high-profile international kidnapping cases in the United States, walked into the U.S. consulate in Osaka, Japan. She asked to be rescued from her kidnapper, an act of enormous bravery by a teenager who has been cut off from her father and held captive overseas for the past six years. Indifferent and incompetent U.S. Consular officials refused to aid or rescue her and instead sent her back to her kidnapper.

Her father, William Lake, was later informed of his daughter’s attempted return by caseworker Virginia Vause from the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues (OCI). During the multiple conversations with Ms. Vause that day, he learned that the consular officials had made a single attempt to call him at his residence. They did not to leave him a voicemail nor did they attempt to contact him on his cell phone or send an email. When Mr. Lake brought up the issue of why his daughter was turned away from the consulate, he was told that the consulate would not assist in his daughter’s rescue because they needed to have his written authorization to take her into custody. Furthermore, if Mary was taken into custody the Consulate would have to assign a staff member to stay with her until her return to the U.S., an inconvenience that the State Department refused to accept. They also needed him to sign an agreement, in advance, to repay any airline costs. These documents would take at least a week to process once OCI sent and received them.

None of the other parents we have checked with, who have been fighting for the return of their children for years, were aware of these consular requirements. State Department caseworkers had failed to inform them either out of negligence or purposeful deception, which leaves all internationally abducted children exposed to the same risk.

According to U.S. Department of State figures there are 268 cases involving 374 American citizen children who have been kidnapped to Japan since they started keeping track in 1994. OCI Division Chief Stefanie Eye has acknowledged “that our data is based entirely on proactive reporting and that because our database was designed primarily as a case management tool, it is difficult to provide statistical data with complete accuracy.”

Based on our statistical analysis, Bring Abducted Children Home (BACHOME.org) has estimated 4,417 American children have lost significant, meaningful access to their parent after divorce in Japan and by international abduction. Each one of these is a human rights violation.

This is third and latest episode of gross negligence by the Department of State toward Mr. Lake and his daughter. Twice previously, they illegally issued passports for his daughter without obtaining the father’s signature, even after it had been established that her father was the lawful parent and the mother was a wanted kidnapper.

Almost all of the existing cases involve at least one parent who is Japanese. This case however is a clear exception. Neither one of the victims nor the kidnapping mother are of Japanese ancestry. There is simply no reason for Mary to be held in Japan. However, no one from the White House or The State Department is publicly demanding the return of Mary Victoria Lake or any of the other 374, and more realistically, thousands of American children held captive there.

It has become starkly apparent to the parents victimized by the crime of parental child abduction that the Department of State clearly values the relations with foreign nations over the safety, well-being and lives of U.S. citizen children being held captive in Japan.

Bring Abducted Children Home
BACHOME.org

Contact:
Paul Toland
ptoland@BAChome.org
ENDS

Sendaiben on MOJ interview for his naturalization, went badly: GOJ now requires applicants become STATELESS?

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 Japan\" 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.  Here is a report from Sendaiben about his experiences going through the rigmarole (found in every country) for naturalization.  His most recent experience, however, was for him very negative and even off-putting, ultimately being told that he would have to render himself STATELESS in order to obtain Japanese citizenship.

Quite a different experience from what I went through more than a decade ago.  And this is the country that encourages people to naturalize if they want rights?  What a crock.  Arudou Debito

///////////////////////////////////////////////////
From: Sendaiben
Subject: Sendai Houmukyoku Interview
July 15, 2011

A couple of people asked me to write up my recent (well, relatively recent, given that it happened just before the earthquake) experience of talking to the Houmukyoku (Ministry of Justice office) in Sendai about naturalizing as a Japanese citizen.

I have talked to them before on a couple of occasions (most recently in 2008 or so) where they explained the procedure and the necessary paperwork, then asked me to come back when it was all done. The people I spoke to in the past were relatively friendly and encouraging, and treated me in a professional and courteous manner. I came out of the interviews fairly enthusiastic about naturalizing.

Fast forward two and a half years, when I finally had all the paperwork together. Gathering all the required pieces of paper was extremely time-consuming in my case, for a few reasons:

1. the UK has a fairly decentralized record keeping system
2. my parents both died over twenty years ago, so I was not able to get certain dates and other information from them
3. I was born outside the UK

It took several weeks of effort over a period of a couple of years to get hold of the various birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates that I needed for my immediate family (parents and brother). I understand I will also need the full range of Japanese documents (koseki touhons, ARC printouts, tax certificates, etc.), but this will be relatively simple to do here in Sendai and as these documents expire within a few months of issue I haven’t bothered to get them yet.

I called the Houmukyoku in February and arranged to go in for an interview in early March (the Sendai office tends to take two or three weeks to make an appointment).

I had a new case officer, a youngish guy in his mid-30s. He was brusque to the point of rudeness throughout our interactions, neglecting to use polite Japanese and ignoring me for extended periods several times. Not in the slightest bit friendly or encouraging, our interview went more or less as follows:

1. I explained that I had been in before, and that I was coming in again to confirm my understanding of the process. I presented all the documents I had.
2. The officer admitted everything was in order, then asked me to fill in some forms (including a statement of intent). My handwritten Japanese in terms of kanji recall is very poor, as I do all my writing on computers and phones. Because of this, I looked up several kanji on my phone while writing.
3. The officer seized upon this as a reason why I would not be eligible to naturalize, and suggested I “go away and learn Japanese”. I should explain that I have passed the JLPT 1 and kanji kentei 7, both of which should have served as proof that my Japanese is good enough for naturalization purposes. My case officer disagreed 🙂
4. He went on to explain how the system had changed from the last time I had it explained to me. For UK nationals, towards the end of the application process, there is a requirement that they formally renounce their UK citizenship, and obtain written proof of this from the UK government. At this point they become stateless, and are given special permission to remain in Japan until the naturalization process is complete. If the application is successful, they then receive Japanese citizenship. If unsuccessful, the UK will return citizenship upon request once.
5. I gathered my notes, thanked him, and left.

I was actually very discouraged by this. Now, I am fairly sure that if I went ahead and applied, I would probably be successful. I have a good job, a Japanese family, I have been living here for eleven years, and am fairly well-integrated into society. I like Sendai, and plan to live here for a while, if not for good. However, I don’t need to naturalize, and probably won’t bother for at least another couple of years (when I will probably call up the Sendai Houmukyoku and hope that I get a more pleasant case officer).

I am a bit disappointed though. I would have thought Japan would be encouraging people to naturalize, rather than doing everything possible to discourage them.

Hong Kong or maybe Singapore are starting to look more attractive. We’ll see how it goes.

Sendaiben

ENDS