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(NOTE: SEE UPDATE BELOW, with new information that makes this post seem more and more like a false alarm. Thanks to everyone who commented with corrections. I have made appropriate corrections and strike-outs.)
Hi Blog. Here’s another example of how NJ are not being trusted. Employees under the auspices of the JET Programme in Naha, AET, are being required to provide a urine sample in order to get a job. This apparently doesn’t apply to Japanese workers, naturally, as Japanese obviously couldn’t possibly use drugs. But foreigners, well, you know the story — they’re powerless guests here on the GOJ’s good graces, so their dignity and equal treatment in the workplace can be overlooked in the name of crime prevention. We’ve seen this attitude from the police in Tokyo Azabu, who conducted similar “I-Pee” urine tests on NJ exiting bars in Roppongi without a warrant in 2009 just for tits and giggles, and because, after all, they’re the Japanese police so sod you. Now we see police powers expanding beyond the NPA (as they did when unlawfully deputizing hotels to smoke out illegal aliens back in 2005) and into private-sector/public-sector eikaiwa. Expect more of the same for whatever reason dreamable up.
I wonder what JET’s administrative arm, CLAIR, has to say about this. I wonder if they even know. Feel free to tell them and see if we can get a comment.
Commenter from submitter XY follows. Arudou Debito
March 23 and 25, 2012
Dear Debito, Naha city now requires all AETs to take a urine test. Only the AETs, not the Japanese teachers. I thought I would bring this to your attention, as you are the right one to handle this type of situation. Can you give advice on how to deal with it. As AETs are blocked from forming any type of organization or union to fight against this type of BS. here is the link:
Notice on the second set of requirements where it tells the prospective applicant to turn in health related materials, it includes urine analysis. This is for drug testing, and only applies to AETs.
Go ahead and put it up. I do wish to remain anonymous as I know this can affect future employment possibilities. Let me give you the full story. A friend of mine recently finished his contract with his current BOE. He had applied to the Naha BOE and another local BOE. When his interview came up he was notified about all the things he had to turn in for possible employment. One of the things he was notified that he had to turn in was a urine analysis. He double checked this, as he has been here some 20+ years, and never heard of a teacher having to turn in this before. This is due to the spat of drug cases that has occurred here on island. Here is the other URL he gave me:
Anyway this really irked me when I heard about this and I decided to tell you about it because this is the bs that a lot of private AETs have to put up with.
UPDATE MARCH 31: JTES ALSO REQUIRED TO SUBMIT TO URINALYSIS, SO THIS MEASURE ALSO APPLIES TO JAPANESE AS WELL
Courtesy of Olaf:
Conclusion: I still don’t think this is what some claim to be a mere “routine physical” (I think, given what I know about J employers’ access to health records, it is in fact a drug test, given the prior media shock of JETs and drugs in Okinawa), but if it’s applied across the board to Japanese and NJ as well, it’s not really a Debito.org issue. Might be an invasion of privacy issue, but not one necessarily of unfairness towards NJ, so that’s better discussed elsewhere. So Readers are welcome to continue to comment on this issue below, but unless we receive new information from the original claimant(s), I’m going to have to declare this one a false alarm and offer my apologies. Sorry, and thanks to Olaf. Arudou Debito
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Hi Blog. In an important decision regarding how Japanese nationality is granted, the Tokyo District Court ruled constitutional on March 23, 2012, that if a person with Japanese blood is born overseas and has another nationality, and if the parents have not registered the child with Japanese authorities within three months of birth, Japanese nationality will be denied.
The possibility of discrimination seemed to make no difference in this ruling, as paternity and wedlock don’t seem to be an issue. Place of birth is, meaning this ruling erodes the primacy of Japan’s jus sanguinis (citizenship by blood) conceits in favor somehow of jus soli (citizenship by birthplace).
A Tokyo court ruled as constitutional March 23 a clause in the nationality law which stipulates that children of Japanese nationals born overseas who have acquired foreign nationality cannot get a Japanese passport unless their parents take steps to obtain nationality within three months of birth.
The district court was ruling in a lawsuit filed against the Japanese government by 27 Philippine nationals who were fathered by Japanese between 1986 and 2007.
They were unable to gain Japanese nationality because their parents were unaware of the requirements in the nationality law.
The clause on stating intentions within three months of birth was added to Article 12 of the revised nationality law in 1985.
The decision was the first concerning the law’s clause, according to the Justice Ministry.
The plaintiffs argued that the stipulation was discriminatory because it amounted to reserving nationality based on birthplace, thereby going against the spirit of Article 14 of Japan’s Constitution, which guarantees equality for all.
In the ruling, Presiding Judge Makoto Jozuka explained the legislative purpose of the clause was to prevent individuals from holding dual nationality without a legitimate reason to claim Japanese nationality.
However, the court granted the request of one plaintiff on grounds that the individual had taken steps to acquire Japanese nationality.
One of the plaintiffs, Hiroko Ishiyama, 21, broke down in tears at a news conference after the ruling.
“My father is Japanese,” she said. “I have the right to become Japanese.”
She said her father did not know of the provision in the nationality law and missed the three-month deadline to file for Japanese nationality by one week.
Her younger sister has Japanese citizenship, as her parents filed the request within the prescribed period.
“I want to work and live in Japan,” Ishiyama said. “If there is a chance to acquire Japanese nationality, even if it is 1 percent, I want to get it.”
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Hi Blog. This week I gave a couple of presentations on my campus, one that I will share with everyone:
It’s about the whole “Flyjin” phenomenon, where the Japanese media was outright accusing NJ of deserting their posts and fleeing Japan. I’ve already written a column on this for the Japan Times (where I argued that if true, so what? It’s not as if NJ have been made to feel welcome or settled in Japan). But this time, now that the data is in, I argue that the phenomenon was a myth to begin with. Statistics show that a) NJ populations dropped most in ethnic groups (the Brazilians) that are not clustered around Touhoku to begin with, and b) the accusations in the Shuukanshi that NJ criminals were banding together to commit crime were false, as NJ crime dropped even further in 2011 (to levels not seen since 1993 — NPA crime statistics have to go as far back now as 1982 now to somehow depict a “rise”). Also discussed are the unexamined hypocrisies of Ishihara scaring the public in 2000 about the probability of “foreigner riots” during a natural disaster (which never happened; the bigot still got re-elected a month after the disasters anyway), and the Japanese fleeing Bangkok during the flooding last October (taking their Thai workers with them; on special temporary visas of course). And other important information that got drowned out in the NJ blame game/scapegoating (such as other issues of discrimination, including hotel refusals of Japanese “flyjin” fleeing Touhoku, and more accurate facts from the ground).
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Hi Blog. I’ve been studying in recent months the dynamic of “othering” and concomitant practices of racism at the nation-state level. Lotsa food for thought for me there, of course.
But this came across my computer screen a few days ago and I think it worth reposting. Two articles, one journalistic, one from scientists at Psychology Today, on “Microaggression”, and how subtle practices of social “othering” in everyday interactions are difficult to deal with without getting (or sounding) paranoid. It happens on a daily basis to minorities and people of differences in any culture, to be sure. But in Japan, methinks, it gets dismissed as merely a Japanese cultural practice (“curiosity”, the product of the ubiquitous “shimaguni konjou“, the way many Japanese reconfirm themselves as “different” and “unique” as defined in contrast to the NJ, etc.). It’s not necessarily a willful act of racialization (and I would put it down to more of a “dominant group” issue rather than a “White” issue, so the analysis can cross societies), but is is definitely an aggressive act of “othering” (as in, assuming through the line of questioning, and against all evidence to the contrary that comes out in conversation, that someone is “different”) on the micro level. And when it happens often enough, it become a macro phenomenon. The advantage is, in English, there is a word for it. Not in Japanese, which makes it tougher to deal with. Again, lots of food for thought. Have a read. Arudou Debito
Maybe it’s the dim lighting, or maybe it’s the soft 80s rock – but there’s something about catching a taxi alone at night that gives cab drivers the illusion they’re on a speed date with you. At least that’s one way of explaining the huge number of uncomfortably intimate conversations I’ve had with taxi drivers over the years.
There are the standard ice-breakers – whether I’m single, what I do, where I’d been, and it usually ticks along politely until I get one question wrong.
Driver: “So, where are you from?” Me: “Oh, I grew up here.” Driver: “But I mean, where are you from, originally? What are you Thai? Malaysian?”
And that, I’ve come to recognise, is my cue to provide a solid explanation for being Asian. Of course, I could’ve mentioned I was born in Hong Kong from the start, but what if they decide to compliment me on my English? It’d be rude to take credit for what’s practically the only thing I speak.
Interestingly, the question of ancestry hardly ever comes up in casual banters for my Anglo Saxon friends (although they too are descended from immigrants). We may laugh at the overwhelming percentage of Republican voters who still believe Barack Obama is Muslim, but even in a truly multicultural society like ours, are certain cultural and religious backgrounds perceived as more ‘authentically Australian’ than others?
The term ‘microagression’ was first coined by psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce in 1970 to describe the everyday things we say or do which causes someone to feel ‘othered’. Originally a racially-related phenomenon, its definition has since evolved to include any subtle verbal or non-verbal communication that conveys insensitivity towards a person’s sex, social status, physical appearance or sexuality.
Microaggressive remarks can often come in the form of back-handed compliments. For example, “She’s gorgeous for a big girl” or “I would never be able to tell you’re GAY!” Essentially, they are messages that appear innocent enough on the surface but contain ‘demeaning meta-communications’ to its recipients.
According to Columbia University psychologist Derald Wing Sue, “Most people… harbour unconscious biases and prejudices that leak out in many interpersonal situations.” Just think of all the talk-back radio rants that begin with “Now, I’m not racist/ sexist/ homophobic, but …” or any number of ‘well-meaning’ comments that finish with: [chuckle] “No offence”. And since most ‘microaggressors’ are genuinely unaware of any wrongdoings, this makes it nearly impossible to confront the situation without evoking paranoia.
Ironically, Sue’s research also found that most of us are actually better at handling overt acts of discrimination than subtle insults, because at least the former has “no guesswork involved” whereas victims of microaggression are “often left to question what actually happened”.
The challenge ultimately lies in making the invisible visible – however ‘insignificant’ it may be. And we can do this, writes Cultural Anthropologist Zara Zimbardo, by “returning the gaze”: “In feminist discourse, it’s when “the targeted ‘other’ look[s] back at the non-target “norm”, putting them in the spotlight of scrutiny.” Viral videos like S**t White Girls Say to Black Girls or the Microaggression Project – where contributors are encouraged to submit snippets of microaggressive insults – are great examples of putting the spotlight on the myriad ‘invisible things’ that make up a marginalised experience.
In the end, this is an awkward subject because it often requires well-meaning people to reflect on their own bias and privilege. Sure, you may object to racism, but do you speak really, reaaally slowly when you order Thai home delivery? Perhaps no one sums up the value of self-awareness better than David Foster Wallace in his famous ‘This is water’ speech:
“Two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?””
It’s surprising what goes unnoticed sometimes.
Not too long ago, I (Asian American) boarded a small plane with an African American colleague in the early hours of the morning. As there were few passengers, the flight attendant told us to sit anywhere, so we choose seats near the front of the plane and across the aisle from one another.
At the last minute, three White men entered the plane and took seats in front of us. Just before takeoff, the flight attendant, who is White, asked if we would mind moving to the back of the aircraft to better balance the plane’s weight. We grudgingly complied but felt singled out as passengers of color in being told to “move to the back of the bus.” When we expressed these feelings to the attendant, she indignantly denied the charge, became defensive, stated that her intent was to ensure the flight’s safety, and wanted to give us some privacy.
Since we had entered the plane first, I asked why she did not ask the White men to move instead of us. She became indignant, stated that we had misunderstood her intentions, claimed she did not see “color,” suggested that we were being “oversensitive,” and refused to talk about the matter any further.
Were we being overly sensitive, or was the flight attendant being racist? That is a question that people of color are constantly faced with in their day-to-day interactions with well-intentioned White folks who experience themselves as good, moral and decent human beings.
The Common Experience of Racial Microaggressions
Such incidents have become a common-place experience for many people of color because they seem to occur constantly in our daily lives.
When a White couple (man and women) passes a Black man on the sidewalk, the woman automatically clutches her purse more tightly, while the White man checks for his wallet in the back pocket. (Hidden Message: Blacks are prone to crime and up to no good.) A third generation Asian American is complimented by a taxi cab driver for speaking such good English. (Hidden Message: Asian Americans are perceived as perpetual aliens in their own country and not “real Americans.”)
Police stop a Latino male driver for no apparent reason but to subtly check his driver’s license to determine immigration status. (Hidden message: Latinas/os are illegal aliens.) American Indian students at the University of Illinois see Native American symbols and mascots – exemplified by Chief Illiniwek dancing and whooping fiercely during football games. (Hidden Message: American Indians are savages, blood-thirsty and their culture and traditions are demeaned.)
In our 8-year research at Teachers College, Columbia University, we have found that these racial microaggressions may on the surface, appear like a compliment or seem quite innocent and harmless, but nevertheless, they contain what we call demeaning meta-communications or hidden messages.
What Are Racial Microaggressions?
The term racial microaggressions, was first coined by psychiatrist Chester Pierce, MD, in the 1970s. But the concept is also rooted in the work of Jack Dovidio, Ph.D. (Yale University) and Samuel Gaertner, Ph.D. (University of Delaware) in their formulation of aversive racism – many well-intentioned Whites consciously believe in and profess equality, but unconsciously act in a racist manner, particularly in ambiguous situations.
Racial microaggressions are the brief and everyday slights, insults, indignities and denigrating messages sent to people of color by well-intentioned White people who are unaware of the hidden messages being communicated. These messages may be sent verbally (“You speak good English.”), nonverbally (clutching one’s purse more tightly) or environmentally (symbols like the confederate flag or using American Indian mascots). Such communications are usually outside the level of conscious awareness of perpetrators. In the case of the flight attendant, I am sure that she believed she was acting with the best of intentions and probably felt aghast that someone would accuse her of such a horrendous act.
Our research and those of many social psychologists suggest that most people like the flight attendant, harbor unconscious biases and prejudices that leak out in many interpersonal situations and decision points. In other words, the attendant was acting with bias-she just didn’t know it. Getting perpetrators to realize that they are acting in a biased manner is a monumental task because (a) on a conscious level they see themselves as fair minded individuals who would never consciously discriminate, (b) they are genuinely not aware of their biases, and (c) their self image of being “a good moral human being” is assailed if they realize and acknowledge that they possess biased thoughts, attitudes and feelings that harm people of color.
To better understand the type and range of these incidents, my research team and other researchers are exploring the manifestation, dynamics and impact of microaggressions. We have begun documenting how African Americans, Asian Americans, American Indians and Latina(o) Americans who receive these everyday psychological slings and arrows experience an erosion of their mental health, job performance, classroom learning, the quality of social experience, and ultimately their standard of living.
In my book, Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender and Sexual Orientation (John Wiley & Sons, 2010), I summarize research conducted at Teachers College, Columbia University which led us to propose a classification of racial microaggressions. Three types of current racial transgressions were described:
• Microassaults: Conscious and intentional discriminatory actions: using racial epithets, displaying White supremacist symbols – swastikas, or preventing one’s son or daughter from dating outside of their race.
• Microinsults: Verbal, nonverbal, and environmental communications that subtly convey rudeness and insensitivity that demean a person’s racial heritage or identity. An example is an employee who asks a co-worker of color how he/she got his/her job, implying he/she may have landed it through an affirmative action or quota system.
• Microinvalidations: Communications that subtly exclude negate or nullify the thoughts, feelings or experiential reality of a person of color. For instance, White people often ask Latinos where they were born, conveying the message that they are perpetual foreigners in their own land.
Our research suggests that microinsults and microinvalidiations are potentially more harmful because of their invisibility, which puts people of color in a psychological bind: While people of color may feel insulted, they are often uncertain why, and perpetrators are unaware that anything has happened and are not aware they have been offensive. For people of color, they are caught in a Catch-22. If they question the perpetrator, as in the case of the flight attendant, denials are likely to follow. Indeed, they may be labeled “oversensitive” or even “paranoid.” If they choose not to confront perpetrators, the turmoil stews and percolates in the psyche of the person taking a huge emotional toll. In other words, they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
Note that the denials by perpetrators are usually not conscious attempts to deceive; they honestly believe they have done no wrong. Microaggressions hold their power because they are invisible, and therefore they don’t allow Whites to see that their actions and attitudes may be discriminatory. Therein lays the dilemma. The person of color is left to question what actually happened. The result is confusion, anger and an overall draining of energy.
Ironically, some research and testimony from people of color indicate they are better able to handle overt, conscious and deliberate acts of racism than the unconscious, subtle and less obvious forms. That is because there is no guesswork involved in overt forms of racism.
Many racial microaggressions are so subtle that neither target nor perpetrator may entirely understand what is happening. The invisibility of racial microaggressions may be more harmful to people of color than hate crimes or the overt and deliberate acts of White supremacists such as the Klan and Skinheads. Studies support the fact that people of color frequently experience microaggressions, that it is a continuing reality in their day-to-day interactions with friends, neighbors, co-workers, teachers, and employers in academic, social and public settings…
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Hi Blog. I was going to write on something else today, but I got this letter as a post comment this morning. It’s considered and considerate — usually letters on this topic are nasty flames, criticizing me personally for ever doing what Debito.org has been doing for (as of next month) fifteen years now. And it’s also a useful exercise to think about why we do the things that we do.
I won’t answer it, for now. I’ll open it up for discussion here on Debito.org and see how other people think. Thanks for writing in, Eric. Arudou Debito
////////////////////////////////// Eric C
Submitted on 2012/03/18 Debito: Thank you on behalf of all NJ who have lived in Japan or are living in Japan. You are doing brilliant work. I agree with almost everything you say and do and I am in awe of your energy, perseverance and spirit.
However, the more I read your site and columns and learn about your story, the more I find myself wondering why you keep trying. I lived in Japan for years and I did what you did, but on a lesser scale: I fought discrimination, xenophobia and racism as hard as I could. I like to think I gave as good as I got, if not better. I caused a fair bit of hell at my local kuyakusho, at immigration, with the police and with various random racist folks. That’s not to say I went around with a chip on my shoulder: I had a lot of Japanese friends, spoke the language well and really tried to fit in. But, finally, I decided to leave Japan and I don’t regret it. Not for a second. Every day I’m out of there, I give thanks that I had the balls and foresight to leave.
My question to you is why do you keep trying? I don’t want to be negative, but I think even you have to admit that Japan and the Japanese are not really going to change. Not in any meaningful way. They are xenophobic to the core, perhaps even genetically so. The society is feudal, with only the flimsiest veneer of legality. There is no real law – power and connections are all that matter. Japan reached a highpoint of openness and internationalization in the early 90s, and it’s been rapidly closing and going backwards since then. As the country stagnates and gets poorer, it’s going to become less and less welcoming to foreigners. I mean, the mayors of the three main cities in Japan are all nationalists and, most likely, racists.
Frankly, I don’t even think it’s worth trying to change Japan. They’re not worth it. Let them go their own miserable way to stagnation and backwardness. Let the world pass them by. Japan is like a stubborn old geezer in your neighborhood who does something offensive (letting his dog bark all night, for instance). You know that arguing with him is a waste of time. The only sensible thing to do is move away. Fuck him, to be direct about it.
You’ve fought the good fight, Debito, and a lot of gaijin owe you a huge debt of gratitude. But, for your own peace of mind, why not let someone else take up the burden? Or, better yet, wouldn’t it be best for all NJ to simply pack up and leave and let the Japanese do whatever it is they want to do? Let them sing the kimigayo morning, noon and night. Let them teach English so poorly that no one can speak it. Let them lobotomize their kids in the name of educating them. Let them claim that their actions in WWII were one vast charitable mission to spread peace and love throughout the world. Let them sink slowly into the swamp of their own bloody minded ignorance.
It’s not our job to “fix” their society. It’s not our job to educate them about how the world really works. It’s not our job to try to bring them into the modern world.
Sorry, this is a bit of a downer of a post, but anyone who knows Japan as well as you know it must surely realize that the defining characteristic of modern Japan is the inability to change. They’re so stubborn that if you ask them to change, they’ll consciously avoid changing just to spite you. I mean, why do you think they keep whaling and dolphin killing when it requires vast government support to keep doing it? They do it precisely because the world tells them to stop.
I say, leave them to it and live your own life.
UPDATE: The author has offered more lengthy and elaborate comments below here and here. You might want to read them first before going on to everyone else’s.
Submitter JK comments: “I would say this is good news, so long as the leadership of these 28 firms don’t conduct themselves like Olympus. The companies cited (i.e. Fast Retailing and Aeon) seem to ‘get it’…for these two cases, would you say that, ‘Don’t work for a Japanese company as an NJ and expect equality and upward mobility’ is still applicable?”
PHOTO CAPTION: Foreign students studying in Japan listen as a company representative explains his firm’s recruitment plan during a recruitment seminar held at Pasona headquarters in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Oct. 16. (Mainichi)
Some 23 percent of Japan’s top 122 companies are considering employing more foreigners starting from next year, citing plans for overseas expansion as their main incentive, a Mainichi survey has revealed.
Sixty-two companies, some 50.8 percent of all firms surveyed, further answered that they are likely to hire more foreign employees in the next 10 years as well.
Conversely, 45 companies, or 36.9 percent, answered that their foreign employee numbers will remain unchanged. There were no firms that plan to decrease foreign employment from current figures.
The survey, conducted between mid-November and mid-December 2011, sought responses from top executives of leading firms including Fast Retailing Co., Aeon Co., Dai Nippon Printing Co., and Hitachi Ltd.
A strong inclination for hiring foreign employees was observed mainly among companies with overseas expansion ambitions. Fast Retailing Co., the owner of casual wear chain Uniqlo, stated “more overseas shops” as the main reason for the increase, while Aeon Co., another retail giant, cited the necessity of increasing employees from other Asian countries due to the company’s plans for further expansion on the continent.
Meanwhile, companies judged economic prospects in Japan as either declining or about the same as last year. Nearly 90 percent of all companies expressed concern over the rising yen as their prime economic anxiety.
Asked to assess current economic conditions, 66 firms (54.1 percent) answered they had remained unchanged — a sharp increase from the total of 44 firms (37 percent), which gave the same answer in last year’s July-August survey.
There were no companies that judged current economic conditions as “improved” and only 34 firms (27.9 percent) answered that the economy is gradually improving. The figures were higher during last year’s survey, when a total of 62 companies (52.1 percent) said the economy was improving.
Meanwhile, 21 companies (17.2 percent) judged current economic conditions as either “deteriorating” or “gradually deteriorating,” yet another sharp increase from last year’s 13 companies (10.9 percent) that said so in the 2011 survey.
Europe’s ongoing debt crisis, the yen’s appreciation, and the influence of Thailand’s floods are believed to be some of the reasons behind companies’ worsened economic outlook.
The survey also found that nearly half of all companies (59 firms, or 48.4 percent) believe the economy will stay unchanged in the near future, while 43 firms (35.2 percent) said they expect it will improve.
Furthermore, when asked what the future held for Japan’s employment system, 36 companies answered that they foresee an increase in mid-career recruitment ten years from now, while 20 firms chose “enforcement of merit-based salary” among the provided multiple-choice suggestions.
TOKYO — Japan’s government on Friday approved a bill to join a pact on settling cross-border child custody rows, opening the way for its adoption after years of foreign pressure. The cabinet approved the bill that would mean Japan signing the 1980 Hague Convention. It would extend custody rights to non-Japanese parents whose children are moved to Japan by their former spouse. The bill is now set to be debated in parliament. Japan is the only major industrial nation that has not signed the treaty and has been pressured in recent years by the United States and other countries to do so. Japanese courts almost never grant custody to foreign parents, particularly fathers, when international marriages break up. ENDS
In an outline of procedures for the Hague Convention on international child-custody disputes, a government panel has proposed allowing court officials to forcibly remove a child from a Japanese parent to return him or her to the country of habitual residence.
In its draft proposal on Jan. 23, a subcommittee of the Legislative Council, an advisory panel to the justice minister, also said the child will not have to be returned if he or she may face violence from the parent back in the other country.
Japan has been under pressure to join the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which is designed mainly to deal with cross-border “abductions” by parents following broken international marriages.
The government plans to draw up a bill for domestic procedures based on the panel’s proposal and seek Diet approval during the ordinary session that opened on Jan. 24.
The United States and European countries have been pressing Japan to join the Hague Convention. Passage of the bill will pave the way for Japan’s accession.
But it is still unclear whether the bill will pass the Diet because some lawmakers, both in the ruling and opposition parties, are opposed and the government has other priority legislation, such as the consumption tax hike.
The convention stipulates that it is not necessary to return a child if there is a significant risk that the child will suffer damage physically and/or mentally.
The subcommittee proposed that factors, such as the risk that the child will face violence back in the country of habitual residence and a situation in which it is difficult for the parents to take custody of the child, be considered.
Specific cases cited include: the parent demanding custody of the child commits acts of violence against the other parent in front of the child; the parent in a foreign country is addicted to drugs or alcohol; and the Japanese parent who returns with the child may be arrested.
A family court, in Tokyo or Osaka, will be responsible for deciding whether a child will have to be returned. Hearings will be held behind closed doors.
If a Japanese parent refuses the decision to return the child to the country of habitual residence, the court will order him or her to make a monetary payment. If the parent refuses to comply, the court will seize his or her property.
If the parent refuses to hand over the child for two weeks, court execution officers may forcibly remove the child from the parent.
The execution officers will be authorized to persuade parents to obey the court order and search for children. If they encounter resistance from parents, they can ask for support from the police.
These procedures will only cover cases that occur after Japan joins the Hague Convention and will not apply retroactively.
The Justice Ministry estimates that Japan will handle several dozen cases a year.
“I am afraid that children might be returned unconditionally unless detailed standards are established, including consideration of psychological violence,” Michiko Kanazumi, a lawyer familiar with domestic violence cases, said.
Kanazumi also said experts will have to be present when execution officers remove the child from the parent.
“When they suddenly try to remove the child, he or she will cry and resist,” she said.
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Hi Blog. Good news. Congratulations to The Don for getting his Japanese citizenship, and on what looks to be an expedited schedule (of only four months, according to the Yomiuri below. Of course; the guy is in his ninetieth year!) I think it’s good that an old man can realize his twilight dreams, and take advantage of opportunities that he has clearly earned as a contributor to Japan in the world.
Quoth Donald in the above press conference: 「日本人として犯罪を起こさないことを誓います」(As a Japanese, I swear not to commit any crimes.)
That said, I don’t believe that gives him license to continuously bad-mouth other NJ, whom he yet again essentially accuses of desertion, according to the Asahi article trumpeting the news of his successful application below (translation mine):
“…[Keene] received Japanese Permanent Residency, but after the Great East Japan Earthquake, knowing about the large numbers of foreigners that distanced themselves from Japan, he said, ‘I came to Japan, where I will always stay. I believe in Japan, is what I wanted to broadcast.'”
And it shows a remarkable naiveté regarding Japan and life in general, since will you never have to face a life in Japan as a non-elite NJ laborer in Japan; moreover, as I’ve said before, as a nonagenarian you won’t be around for any denouement. Just shut up and take your kudos with grace, already, without denigrating others. Do something to lose that “mean-old-man” stink you’re repeatedly and needlessly airing in public. Arudou Debito
Here’s the Yomiuri’s take, with The Don not only bashing NJ and coming here for the sake of “enduring hardships with the Japanese”, but also traipsing off to Africa and India next month, like most Japanese can to escape their hardships.
Keene becomes Japanese citizen
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 9, 2012), courtesy of JK
Donald Keene speaks to The Yomiuri Shimbun in Tokyo on Thursday morning after learning he has been granted Japanese citizenship.
Donald Keene, a prominent scholar of Japanese literature and culture, has been granted Japanese citizenship, the Justice Ministry announced in a government gazette issued Thursday.
Keene, 89, decided to permanently live in Japan following the Great East Japan Earthquake.
A professor emeritus at Columbia University, Keene studied Japanese literature and culture after serving as an interpreter for U.S. forces during the Pacific War.
Regarded as an authority in the field, he received the Order of Culture in 2008.
He expressed his intention to obtain Japanese citizenship after the March 11 disaster.
“I love Japan,” Keene said, while explaining his decision to move to Japan at a press conference following his last lecture at Columbia University. He now lives in Tokyo.
Keene expresses gratitude
Keene expressed his joy over the news that he has been granted the Japanese citizenship in an exclusive interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun at his home in Tokyo on Thursday.
“I’m so glad to finally be able to become Japanese,” a smiling Keene said.
“If my decision encourages the Japanese people, it’s a great joy.”
Keene was informed of the decision by phone by a Justice Ministry official on Thursday morning. He said he expressed his appreciation to the official, repeatedly saying, “Thank you.”
Right after the March 11 disaster, Keene saw the stoic suffering of people in the Tohoku region on TV.
Worried over the news that an increasing number of foreigners were leaving the country, Keene made up his mind to permanently live in Japan. “I wanted to endure the hardships with the Japanese, who had taken good care of me, at a difficult time like this,” he said.
Keene applied for Japanese citizenship in November last year.
He wondered how long it would take to obtain citizenship, but officials only told him it would take some time. He sometimes expressed his anxiety to people around him, saying, “As I’m already 89 years old, I don’t have much time left.”
In the end, he obtained his citizenship in only about four months.
“Donald Keene” became his pen name, and his Japanese name is now Kiin Donarudo.
Starting next month, he will travel by ship to India and Africa for vacation.
“[After returning to Japan], I’ll continue to work more diligently in a suitably Japanese way. I also want to contribute to areas affected by the disaster,” he said with a smile.
Last December, the Japanese government announced that a new visa regime with a “points system” would be introduced this spring.
It is designed to attract 2,000 non-Japanese (NJ) with a “high degree of capability” (kōdo jinzai), meaning people with high salaries, impeccable educational and vocational pedigrees, specialized technical knowledge and excellent managerial/administrative skills.
Those lucky foreign millionaire Ph.Ds beating a path to this land of opportunity would get preferential visa treatment: five-year visas, fast-tracking to permanent residency, work status for spouses — even visas to bring their parents and “hired housekeepers” along.
Sweet. But then comes the fine print: You must get 70 points on the Justice Ministry’s qualifying scale (see www.moj.go.jp/content/000083223.pdf) And it’s tough, really tough. Take the test and see if you qualify (I don’t). Symptomatic of decisions by committee, it’s a salad of idealized preferences without regard for real-world application. There’s even a funny sliding scale where you get more points the longer you’ve worked, yet fewer points the older you get.
Interesting is how low Japanese language ability is weighted: only 10 points — in a “bonus” category. One would have assumed that people communicative in Japan’s lingua franca would be highly prized (especially when the call for kōdo jinzai is in Japanese only).
However, I would argue the opposite: Crowds of NJ completely fluent in Japanese are exactly what the government does not want. Visa regimes with illiterate foreigners facing insurmountable hurdles are what maintain Japan’s revolving-door labor market.
For example, consider 2008’s visa program to import elderly-care nurses from the Philippines and Indonesia.
These NJ were all qualified nurses in their own countries, so their only real obstacle was the Japanese language. Yet this visa program required that they pass the same nursing exam that native speakers sit. Within a time limit of three years. Otherwise they lose their visas and get sent home.
This, coupled with a full-time job (of humiliating unskilled labor, including bathing patients and setting tables) and insufficient institutional support for learning kanji, ensured they would fail. And they did: The Yomiuri (Jan. 5) reported that 95 percent of the Indonesians tested over the past three years did not pass — and more than half (even one of those who did pass) have gone home. Future applications have since dried up.
This begs the question: If learning written Japanese was so important, why didn’t the government hire nurses from kanji-literate China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan? Because, I guess, that would be too easy, and we’d get hordes of skilled Chinese. Undeterred by policy failure, the country being asked next for nurses is — drum roll, please — Vietnam.
Now consider another regime: 1990s nikkei South Americans’ special “repatriation” visas.
The nikkei were invited to come to this country based on the assumption that somehow their Japanese blood would make them more assimilable (see Just Be Cause, April 7, 2009). Wrong. So, after nearly two decades of working full-time keeping Japan’s export industries price-competitive, the nikkei were told after 2008’s economic downturn that they were no longer employable. Because of — you guessed it — their lack of Japanese ability.
The government offered only 1 percent of the nikkei any retraining, and the rest for a limited time only a free plane ride home (forfeiting their unemployment insurance and pension claims, natch).
I think we can safely say that Japan’s working-visa regimes (including, if you think about it, even the JET Programme) are deliberately designed to discourage most NJ from ever settling here. Given this context, let’s now consider this new “points system.”
While I am in favor of having an objective and reviewable program (for a change) for granting visas, it is still no substitute for a real immigration policy. All of Japan’s visas are temporary migration policies; this new one just aims for a rich elite with a housekeeping entourage.
Not to worry: It will fail to bring in any significant numbers of foreigners. By design. For in this era of unprecedented levels of international migration, think about the incentives available to all governments to use exclusivity as a weapon.
Here’s what I mean: One of the prerogatives of a sovereign nation-state is the ability to make laws about who is a “member” of its society (i.e., a citizen) and who isn’t (i.e., a foreigner).
Axiomatic is that citizens have full rights and foreigners have fewer, meaning that the latter is in a weakened position in society.
This is how countries exploit people: Give them visas that don’t let them get too settled, because foreigners who stay indefinitely might put down roots, agitate for more rights as contributors to society, even — shudder — take out citizenship and expect to be treated like citizens.
So Japan’s visa regimes use criteria that practically guarantee foreigners stay disenfranchised — such as low language ability. After all, an unassimilated foreign populace without the means to communicate their needs remains the perpetual “other.” Then you can siphon off their best working years, send them home with a simple visa nonrenewal, and never have to pay back their social contributions and investments.
But if a nation-state can set boundaries on membership, it must also set criteria for how people can surmount those boundaries and graduate into becoming members — in this case, making foreigners into Japanese citizens.
If it doesn’t, it becomes clear that the goal is to deliberately create a weakened subset of the labor force that can be politically disenfranchised and permanently exploited. This can go on for generations, as the zainichi Koreans and Chinese might attest.
However, for Japan these visa scams are no longer sustainable. Demographically, Japan needs more laborers to pay its taxes, work its factories and service sectors, and support its aging society. It needs measures to make Japan open enough to get people to stay — like, for instance, a law against racial discrimination, protecting residents regardless of nationality from prejudice and inequality. But no.
International labor is bypassing Japan for other rich countries — those with more accommodating labor practices, more open import/export markets, a more internationally useful language to learn, and a less irradiated food chain.
Japan has the option to believe that immigrants do not belong in Japan’s future. On the other hand, potential immigrants have the option to watch from afar as Japan withers into an economic backwater. Again, by design.
A health ministry panel is urging the government to keep holding the national nursing test for foreign examinees in Japanese, despite strong calls to let them take it in their mother tongues.
At a meeting last week, the panel also opposed the idea of introducing a foreign-language nursing exam in combination with a Japanese-language aptitude test for foreign applicants seeking nursing licenses.
Amid a nationwide nurse shortage, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will use the report to pick a specific plan for the nurse test to be held this month.
The pass rate for foreign nurse candidates is pathetic at just 4 percent. This includes those undergoing preparatory training in Japan under bilateral economic partnership agreements.
The panel concluded that the present system should be retained as nurses must be able to accurately understand doctors when updating medical records and reading them.
The decision is likely to discourage foreign nurse candidates and the Japanese medical facilities training them. ENDS
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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 5, 2012
Hi Newsletter Readers. Before I begin, let me give you as always a sneak preview of my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 49, coming out March 6, 2012 (tomorrow), on how the GOJ’s visa regimes in fact constitute an anti-immigration policy:
======== PREVIEW BEGINS ============ WHAT’S THE POINT OF A VISA “POINTS SYSTEM”? (tentative title)
Last December, the Japanese government announced that a new visa regime with a “points system” would be introduced this spring.
It is designed to attract 2,000 non-Japanese (NJ) with a “high degree of capability” (koudo jinzai), meaning people with high salaries, impeccable educational and vocational pedigrees, specialized technical knowledge and excellent managerial/administrative skills […]
Sweet. But then comes the fine print. You must get 70 points on the Justice Ministry’s qualifying scale (see http://www.moj.go.jp/content/000083223.pdf). And it’s tough, really tough. […]
Interesting is how low Japanese language ability is weighted: only 10 points — in a “bonus” category. One would have assumed that people communicative in Japan’s lingua franca would be highly prized.
However, I would argue the opposite: Crowds of NJ completely fluent in Japanese are exactly what the government does NOT want. Visa regimes with illiterate foreigners facing insurmountable hurdles are what maintain Japan’s revolving-door labor market.
For example, consider 2008’s visa program to import elderly-care nurses from the Philippines and Indonesia…
========== PREVIEW ENDS ============
Read the rest tomorrow in the Japan Times! Now on with the Newsletter:
Table of Contents:
HISTORICAL WRONGS, ABERRATIONS, AND AMNESIA 1) Levin: J citizens of empire stripped of Japanese nationality in 1952, made into Zainichi by bureaucratic fiat — by a simple MOJ office circular (kairan)! 2) Mainichi and JT: Nagoya mayor Kawamura repeatedly denies Nanjing Massacre, joins ranks of revisionist J politicians 3) Mainichi/Kyodo: NJ crime down again, but once again only reported in English and apparently not in J Mainichi, Asahi, Yomiuri, or Sankei 4) Mainichi: NHK Press publishes book about NJ “underground reality” (e.g., prostitution, fake marriages and citizenships, profiteering). Contrast with interview with freewheeling cannibal Sagawa Issei.
BLOWBACK 5) Yomiuri: Language hurdle trips up Indonesian nurses in 4-year-old GOJ EPA program, and they’re leaving. By design, methinks. 6) Asahi: Registered NJ population drops again in 2010, GOJ to institute policy of “points system” for future NJ visas this Spring 7) Mainichi: NJ held by immigration sharply down after reviewing rules 8 ) Jeff Smith on Yahoo Japan auctioneer denying foreign bidders, and what he did about it
… and finally… 9) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column #48: “These are a few of my favorite things about Japan”, Feb. 7, 2012 /////////////////////////////////////////
By Arudou Debito (email@example.com)
RSS and biweekly blog updates at www.debito.org, Twitter arudoudebito
HISTORICAL WRONGS, ABERRATIONS, AND AMNESIA
1) Levin: J citizens of empire stripped of Japanese nationality in 1952, made into Zainichi by bureaucratic fiat — by a simple MOJ office circular (kairan)!
While doing research two days ago, I ran across this curious footnote in journal article (Levin, Mark, “Essential Commodities and Racial Justice”; Journal of International Law and Politics (NYU, Winter 2001) 33:419, at 500, footnote 288), which tells us a lot of something quite remarkable about how much extra-parliamentary legislative power is invested in Japan’s bureaucracy: The power to strip entire peoples of their Japanese citizenship (despite their colonial contributions and experience, including fighting and dying in the Imperial Army) by fiat. By kairan, even.
Levin: The involuntary de-naturalization [of hundreds of thousands of Koreans and Taiwanese persons resident in Japan] was accomplished by administrative fiat, interpreting the Nationality Lw under an implicit association with the 1951 Peace Treaty between Japan and the Allied Powers. “In 1952, nine days before the Peace Treaty came into force, the Director-General of the Civil Affairs Bureau in the Ministry of Justice issued a Circular Notice [an internal government document] to the officials concerned, announcing that all Koreans, including those residing in Japan, were to lose their Japanese nationality.” … Although Japanese courts, including the Supreme Court, have consistently upheld the legality of this act, Iwasawa persuasively argues that the court rulings were analytically unsound, that Japan’s action violated international standards regarding nationality, and that the action was unconstitutional because the act “runs counter to Article 10 of the Constitution, which provides, ‘The conditions necessary for being a Japanese national shall be determined by hōritsu [statutes].’ The question should have been settled by a statute enacted by the Diet.”
This degree of extralegal power — to the point of a simple office memo to disenfranchise for generations an entire minority in Japan — shows just how abusive and capricious Japan’s mandarins can be — and the judiciary will back them up.
2) Mainichi and JT: Nagoya mayor Kawamura repeatedly denies Nanjing Massacre, joins ranks of revisionist J politicians
Here’s another Japanese politician, Nagoya Mayor Kawamura Takashi, playing to type (as in, playing to a Rightist historical revisionist base) by reportedly denying that the Nanjing Massacre in WWII China ever took place. He’s not alone. The Japan Times article below is particularly good, as it includes other deniers and their dates in Japan’s political discourse, showing there is a longstanding arc to this discourse.
There may be a political dimension. As a commenter mailed me, “Because I have lived in Nagoya for over 20 years, Mayor Kawamura’s atrocious lack of tact really makes me cringe. We’ve seen it before with these old boys. They reach a certain age and feel they can afford to throw caution to the wind. However, there may be some background here that isn’t being aired. The Chinese apparently had their sites on a prime piece of land near Nagoya Castle and wanted to build a consulate or trade related facility of some kind. There is local opposition. So it’s possible that the Mayor deliberately wanted to piss them off.” Interesting if true. Let’s have that investigated.
A little academic expostulating, if I may: One of the things that Japan has never undergone (as opposed to, say, Germany) is a postwar examination of its colonialist/imperialist past, as Postcolonialism as an analytical paradigm seems to have passed Japanese academia by (as have many rigorous intellectual disciplines, in favor of, say, the unscientific pseudo-religion that is Nihonjinron). Even proponent Edward Said was blind to it, by binding us to an East-West divide when encapsulating his theory of lack of minority voices in the world’s historical discourse as “Orientalism”, meaning Japan became an “Oriental” country (as opposed to a fellow colonial empire builder) and thus immune to the analysis. Partially because of this, Japan lacks the historical conversation (and is ignored overseas for not undertaking it) that would include and incorporate the minority voices of “sangokujin” (i.e., the former peoples of empire) et.al as part of the domestic discourse.
And this is one reason why fatheads like Kawamura are able to keep on reopening old wounds and refuse to face the dark side of Japan’s history — a history which, if an honest accounting of history is done everywhere, every country has.
3) Mainichi/Kyodo: NJ crime down again, but once again only reported in English and apparently not in J Mainichi, Asahi, Yomiuri, or Sankei
Here we have the biannual report on NJ crime, as always used to justify further prevention and crackdowns on NJ as potential criminals (justifying all manner of NPA budgets and racial profiling). But the news this time is good, in that NJ crime is down. Significantly so.
Good. But here’s the thing: If it’s bad news (i.e., foreign crime goes up), then it gets splashed all over the place and a media panic ensues about a reemergent foreign crime wave. However, when is good news (i.e., foreign crime goes down), one of three things happen:
1) The Japanese police find some way to portray it as a rise, 2) The Japanese media find some way to headline it as a rise (while even, famously, depicting it as a fall in the English headline), 3) They ignore it completely. Foreigners can only ever be news if they’re criminals.
To support this last assertion, look how the above article was featured in the Mainichi online only in English, as a copy of a Kyodo wire. And doing a Google news search in Japanese, (search terms gaikokujin hanzai and the newspaper title), I could not find a similar article on this news on the Mainichi, Asahi, Yomiuri, or Sankei Shimbun sites (search as of February 23, 2012).
Instead, you get Japanese sites, for example Zakzak News below, concurrently and ironically talking about how dangerous Japanese society has become due to foreign crime (despite it going down), and saying how having a “kokumin bangou” to identify all citizens by number is now indispensable (since, as Zakzak says below, foreigners now speak Japanese!!). Fine, have that conversation if you want, but don’t blame it on foreign crime.
This perpetual criminalization of foreigners in Japan is nothing short of hate speech. On an official scale. And you get a regular fit of it twice a year regardless of what NJ residents do (or don’t do).
4) Mainichi: NHK Press publishes book about NJ “underground reality” (e.g., prostitution, fake marriages and citizenships, profiteering). Contrast with interview with freewheeling cannibal Sagawa Issei.
Speaking of Japanese media profiteering off NJ by peddling images of them to the public (after in some cases killing them first, e.g., Ichihashi Tatsuya, Sagawa Issei), here we have a quick book review of some author depicting NJ adding to the undercurrent of Japan’s crimes and misdemeanors (N.B., in two articles that are quite different in English and Japanese, as the Mainichi is quite prone to doing). While I haven’t read the book to see if there is any element of, “If these guys had better opportunities in Japan, they might not resort to these trades” (i.e., it’s not because NJ are intrinsically predisposed to criminality, despite what other Japanese media has nakedly asserted), it still panders to the latent NPA-promoted public prejudices of “foreigner as criminal”, sensationalizing the lives of NJ residents in Japan. Pity. There is significantly less media about the regular lawful contributions NJ make to Japanese society. But I guess a book about someone who does his or her day job, brings home the paycheck to put food on the table, spends the weekends playing with the kids, pays taxes on time, and takes on neighborhood association duties, isn’t fodder for selling scads of sensationalism. But I betcha that’s much closer to the “reality” for far more NJ in Japan.
Mainichi:How much do we know about the real lives of Japan’s foreigners? This is the question that Kota Ishii, a spirited non-fiction writer, raises in his new book, “Nippon ikoku kiko — zainichi gaikokujin no kane, seiai, shi” (Journey through foreign Japan: The money, love, sex and death of foreigners in Japan)… Ishii, who has published several books on prostitution, slums and underground businesses in Asia, sheds light this time on different foreign communities in Japan.
The book introduces a South Korean who has conquered the Japanese sex industry by undercutting prices; an Israeli man with an expired visa who pays a Japanese woman to marry him to obtain Japanese nationality; Chinese who flee from the country after obtaining citizenship, and many other examples that portray the reality of “underground” foreign communities in Japan. Because there are so many fake marriages initiated by foreigners in Japan, some international matchmaking companies even provide compensation to victims, Ishii writes.
5) Yomiuri: Language hurdle trips up Indonesian nurses in 4-year-old GOJ EPA program, and they’re leaving. By design, methinks.
Speaking of GOJ visa statuses with high to insurmountable hurdles, here’s how the years-long (started in 2008) bilateral program to bring over nurses from The Philippines and Indonesia to work in Japan’s medical system is doing: As predicted. Precisely due to “language barriers”, NJ are being relegated to lower-skilled labor and then sent home (or else, as you can also see below, going home by themselves after having enough of it all). Again, this is the point of Japan’s visa regimes — make sure migrants never become immigrants, siphon off the best working years of their lives, send them back for whatever excuse or shortcoming you can come up with, then bring in a new batch of dupes filled with false hopes. That way you keep the revolving-door labor market revolving, and never let NJ settle down here and get their due for their tax and pension payments. How nice. But as I’ve written before, it’s been the perpetual SOP for the GOJ.
Yomiuri: More than half of 104 Indonesian nurses who came to Japan in 2008 through a bilateral economic partnership agreement to obtain nursing licenses have returned home, due mainly to difficulties meeting Japanese language requirements, it has been learned.
Through the EPA program, Indonesian nurses have been allowed to work in Japanese hospitals for three years as assistant nurses who take care of inpatients. They are all licensed nurses in Indonesia. The program requires they pass an annual national nursing certification test during their three-year stay.
However, only 15 of the first group of 104 nurses who came to Japan from Indonesia passed the national exam. Among the 89 who failed the exam, 27 were granted special permission to extend their stay if they wished to because they managed to score a certain number of points on the previous exam. These nurses will take the national exam again in February.
The remaining 62 returned to Indonesia by the end of August, though they were still eligible to take the national exam. Only four of them will return to Japan to take the February exam, meaning the remaining 58 have likely given up working in Japan.
6) Asahi: Registered NJ population drops again in 2010, GOJ to institute policy of “points system” for future NJ visas this Spring
To continue a salvo of blog entries on NJ migration/immigration to Japan, here are two articles from the vernacular press. The first one talks about the MOJ’s institution of a “points system” for future NJ visas, in order to encourage “foreign researchers, doctors, managers and people with specialized knowledge or skills” to come to Japan — with higher value accruing to those with good educational pedigrees, higher salaries, etc. “People with more than 70 points” will be considered “higher-degree people with capabilities” (koudo jinzai), with an annual quota of about 2000 souls. They’ll get special benefits like easier visa conditions for wives and children (something currently reserved for those here on foreign expat packages in the financial markets), and five-year waits for Permanent Residency (instead of the usual ten for those not married to Japanese), and no doubt more. It’s scheduled to start from this Spring.
Fine, let’s have an objective and reviewable system for immigration (or in Japan’s case, just plain old inward migration), but there are two assumptions here, 1) that people are still simply beating a path to Japan now as a matter of course (when by now there are plenty of other rich countries in the region that are better at, say, foreign languages and import infrastructure, not to mention without an irradiated food chain), and 2) a guarantee of things that are fundamental to making a life here without harassment for being different (such as, say, oh, a law against racial discrimination, and checks and balances against a police force that sees racial profiling, street harassment, and even home invasion as part of its mandate). Japan has had plenty of opportunity to take some safeguards against this, and the fact that it won’t yet still wants to get people to live here anyway to offset its demographic crisis is just plain ignorant of reality.
The second article talks about the effects of a society with institutions that aren’t all that friendly or accountable for its excesses — the second drop of the registered NJ population in two years, after a rise over 48 straight years. I talked about this briefly in my January Japan Times column (as one of the Top Ten Human Rights Events for 2011), so for the record, here is a vernacular source. I think, sadly, that people are starting to wise up, and realize that Japan isn’t all that open a place to settle.
7) Mainichi: NJ held by immigration sharply down after reviewing rules
Speaking of incarceration of NJ under unreviewed circumstances (start here), here is what happens when the GOJ suddenly starts, as encouraged by the United Nations and even domestic think tanks such as JIPI, to actually REVIEW its own rules: They discover that not as many NJ need to be incarcerated. Quite a few of not as many. Very high percentages, even.
Well, how about that. Glad this happened, and got some press too. May it happen more often, so that the NPA and Immigration realize that there are some boundaries to their power of interrogation and incarceration, even if (and especially if) the incarcerated happen to be NJ (who are even, according to here as well as the article below, committing suicide rather than take any more of this inhumane treatment).
Mainichi/Kyodo: The number of foreign nationals detained one year or longer by Japanese immigration officials dropped significantly after a review of procedural rules for a more flexible approach in response to criticisms about the treatment of long-term detainees, data for last year showed… The Japanese government came under fire for its long-term detentions in 2007 by the United Nations, which recommended that detention periods should be limited…
Those who were held for at least one year totaled 47, down sharply from 115 at the end of 2009. The Justice Ministry said it has been actively releasing those who are subject to deportation but it sees no need for holding in custody since July 2010… The number of foreign nationals detained one year or longer by Japanese immigration officials dropped significantly after a review of procedural rules for a more flexible approach in response to criticisms about the treatment of long-term detainees, data for last year showed.
8 ) Jeff Smith on Yahoo Japan auctioneer denying foreign bidders, and what he did about it
Here we have some naked xenophobia and related intolerance in interpersonal internet auctions. I have heard of numerous cases like these on Japanese internet outlets, where sellers simply refuse to sell to somebody with money if the buyer happens to be bearing money while foreign (and nothing would come of it from moderators). But here’s a report of what one person, Jeff Smith, decided to do about it. As he says, auction forums in Japan need to step up with rules to honor bona fide transactions, because that’s the entire point of money as a means of transaction — it is not foreign currency even if the buyer is foreign. Let’s wait and see what Yahoo Japan decides to do about it, if anything.
Jeff Smith: Something I came upon last night while looking for guitars on Yahoo Auctions, Japan. This individual ignoramus had the nerve to actually write in his or her auction that foreigners would be denied the right to buy said item once found to be foreign, NJ or otherwise: The statement here is as follows in English:
“Winners please be aware of the message I send upon auction close. I will not accept new bidders who do not reply, or people with bad manners. New bidders are to respond within 48 hours, and those that do so will be allowed to pay for the item. In addition, due to troubles that have occurred, I am not accepting any foreign bidders with a score under 30 rating. [This was actually changed this morning, Feb. 15, 2012: originally it said I will accept NO FOREIGN WINNERS, period.] If I find that the winner is a foreigner after the auction ends, I shall void the auction at my convenience.”
Amazed that this person could even have the gall to write in such a manner, I contacted the seller with a message as follows…
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Hi Blog. While doing research two days ago, I ran across this curious footnote in journal article (Levin, Mark, “Essential Commodities and Racial Justice”; Journal of International Law and Politics (NYU, Winter 2001) 33:419, at 500, footnote 288), which tells us a lot of something quite remarkable about how much extra-parliamentary legislative power is invested in Japan’s bureaucracy: The power to strip entire peoples of their Japanese citizenship (despite their colonial contributions and experience, including fighting and dying in the Imperial Army) by fiat. By kairan, even. Read on:
288. The involuntary de-naturalization [of hundreds of thousands of Koreans and Taiwanese persons resident in Japan] was accomplished by administrative fiat, interpreting the Nationality Lw under an implicit association with the 1951 Peace Treaty between Japan and the Allied Powers. “In 1952, nine days before the Peace Treaty came into force, the Director-General of the Civil Affairs Bureau in the Ministry of Justice issued a Circular Notice [an internal government document] to the officials concerned, announcing that all Koreans, including those residing in Japan, were to lose their Japanese nationality.” IWASAWA, [“International Law, Human Rights, and Japanese Law” 52, 299 n. 35 (1998)], at 130-31…; see also MORRIS-SUZUKI [“Reinventing Japan: Time, Space, Nation” 11 (1998)], at 190; Foote, [“Japan’s ‘Foreign Workers’ Policy: A View from the United States”, 7 Geo. Immigr. L.J. (1993)] at 724-25. Although Japanese courts, including the Supreme Court, have consistently upheld the legality of this act, Iwasawa persuasively argues that the court rulings were analytically unsound, that Japan’s action violated international standards regarding nationality, and that the action was unconstitutional because the act “runs counter to Article 10 of the Constitution, which provides, ‘The conditions necessary for being a Japanese national shall be determined by hōritsu [statutes].’ The question should have been settled by a statute enacted by the Diet.” See IWASAWA… at 131-34; see also cases [Port, “The Japanese International Law ‘Revolution’: International Human Rights Law and Its Impact in Japan”, Stan. J. Int’l. L. 139 (1991)]. Iwasawa’s work is not scholarship from the radical fringes. Professor Iwasawa belongs to the law faculty at Tokyo University and is one of the leading authorities on international public law in Japan.
This degree of extralegal power — to the point of a simple office memo to disenfranchise for generations an entire minority in Japan — shows just how abusive and capricious Japan’s mandarins can be. And the judiciary will back them up!
Another interesting anecdotal case of bureaucratic attitudes to the laws that should be governing them (“That’s just a law,” my correspondent claims the bureaucrats said when arbitrarily denying him Permanent Residency under “secret guidelines”), can also be found here.
Be aware. As evidenced above, the rule of law in Japan is quite weak, especially regarding the control by and the control of Japan’s bureaucracy. This will not be news to any Japanese lawyer, but for laypeople thinking that Japan (and the treatment of NJ) is not in fact governed by anonymous bureaucrats, FYI. Arudou Debito