Debito writes the Hokkaido Section in FODOR’S Guidebook on Japan, 20th Edition, out now

mytest

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Novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog. I’m happy to announce that more than a year after writing my piece within (and what with major disasters in Japan naturally setting back the publication date), FODOR’S has just released their JAPAN Guide, 20th Edition (of which I got a copy yesterday, thanks!).

I was privileged to be allowed to write their Section on Hokkaido, so if you can’t get enough of my writing, get yourself a copy!

Scans of the cover, Table of Contents, and my opening essay on what’s so nice about Hokkaido are below. Enjoy! Arudou Debito

(Click images below to expand in browser)

EXCERPTS END

JT Community Page 10th Anniversary: Write a Haiku, win a copy of Debito’s HANDBOOK

mytest

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

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Hi Blog. As I wrote last week, next week heralds a celebration of the Tenth Anniversary of the Japan Times’ Tuesday Community Page. As I’ve written about 100 articles and JBC columns for it so far, I’ll be doing double duty next week with two articles, one in commemoration, and one a regular JBC column (more on the topic shortly before publication).

This week, however, in anticipation, the JT announced that it would be offering FIVE free copies of Akira Higuchi and Arudou Debito’s bilingual HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS (more on it here), which has been a solid and steady seller, what with all the information about getting the right visa, getting a steady job, getting settled for a permanent life in Japan, and dealing with problems and issues that may come up. Table of Contents and reviews here.

That’s right, five free copies of HANDBOOK, and all you have to do is write a Haiku in English about Japan — “the good, the bad and the ugly”. Some examples (there are many more at the link) by Zeit Gist contributor Colin Jones this week include:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120424lg.html

Random card checking
Fingerprints at the airport
Yokoso Japan!

Non-Japanese folk
Have constitutional rights
Except when they don’t

Barred from the hot springs
for invisible tattoo
It says “foreigner”

Now, those are my kinda Haiku. And no doubt we’ll have some anti-Debito ones too (taste the irony of being rewarded by the very person you’re dissing!). Go for it!  Submit via:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/community-anniversary.html

Happy Anniversary, Community Page!  Arudou Debito

Tsukuba City’s resolution against NJ suffrage passed in 2010, a retrospective in the wake of alarmism

mytest

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

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Hi Blog. I’ve sat on this for more than a year. Now that the whole debate on “granting foreigners suffrage will mean the end of Japan” has probably died down a bit, it’s time that we look back on what happened then, and on the aftermath wrought by people losing their heads.

After the Democratic Party of Japan came to power in 2009, after decades of mostly unbroken and corrupt Liberal Democratic Party rule, there was hope for some new inclusive paradigms vis-a-vis NJ in Japan, one of their smaller party planks was granting NJ (undecided whether NJ would be Permanent Resident or Zainichi Special Permanent Resident) the right to vote in local elections (like other countries do). This, alas, occasioned much protest and alarmist doomsaying about how Japanese society would be ruined by ever enfranchising potentially disloyal foreigners (“They’d concentrate in parts of Japan and secede to China!”, “Kim Jong-Il will now have influence over Japan!”), and suddenly we had regional governments and prefectures passing petitions (seigan) stating that they formally oppose ever giving suffrage to foreigners.

The Tsukuba City Council was no exception, even though Tsukuba in itself is an exceptional city. It has a major international university, a higher-than-average concentration of NJ researchers and academics, a centrally-planned modern showcase living grid with advanced communication networks, and one of Japan’s two foreign-born naturalized citizens (Jon Heese; the other city is Inuyama’s Anthony Bianchi) elected to its city council. Yet Tsukuba, a city designed to be one of those international communities within Japan, was given in December 2010 a petition of NJ suffrage opposition to consider signing and sending off to the DPJ Cabinet. Here’s the draft:

I was sent a copy of this shortly after it came out, and was asked what counterarguments to it, if any, I would present if I could. Here’s most of what I said:

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

December 18, 2010
1) Why is it necessary to express our opposition to this? Is there a petition out there expressing our support of this? No, because calmer heads do not see any alarm in giving NJ the vote. Responding in this way is just alarmism (kiyuu in Japanese, use this word in specific — I’ve found it makes people shudder in shame at themselves). Why ride the wave of panic and xenophobia being created by the xenophobic right-wing into passing a petition we will regret later? It looks bad for our international city of Tsukuba, with so many educated NJ residents, contributors, and taxpayers, to do so.

2) “Naturalization” is offered as a solution for the right to vote. But as you and I know as naturalized citizens, naturalization is a difficult procedure, with arbitrary rules, judgments, and treatment of candidates differing by nationality. Other countries have allowed their Permanent Residents to vote in local elections and suffered no ill-effects, including New Zealand, Canada, and parts of the United States. Do not think that this is something you can cite in support of this petition.

3) As for the constitutional issue, the Asahi wrote on July 5 in an editorial:

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

Some say foreigner suffrage goes “against the Constitution.” However, it is only natural to construe from the Supreme Court ruling of February 1995 that the Constitution neither guarantees nor prohibits foreigner suffrage but rather “allows” it.

The decision on foreign suffrage depends on legislative policy.

In an age when people easily cross national borders, what kind of society does Japan wish to become? How do we determine the qualifications and rights of people who comprise our country and communities? To what extent do we want to open our gates to immigrants? How do we control social diversity and turn it into energy?

「憲法違反」との主張もある。しかし、1995年2月の最高裁判決は、憲法は外国人地方選挙権を保障も禁止もしておらず「許容」している、と判断したと読むのが自然だ。付与するかどうかは立法政策に委ねられている。

カネやモノ同様、ヒトも国境を軽々と越えゆく時代。日本はどんな社会をめざすのか。国や地域をかたちづくる構成員の資格や権利をどう定め、どれだけ移民に門戸を開き、多様性をコントロールしつつどう活力に変えるか。

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

Sources for the Asahi and more here:

http://www.debito.org/?p=7147

http://www.debito.org/?s=suffrage+constitution

Other related articles of note, for more inspiration:

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20091201i1.html

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100202ad.html

In sum, I suggest people appeal to common sense and level-headedness. Why do we need a negative petition like this at all? This is mere alarmism fomented by right-wing xenophobes who do not even consider naturalized citizens to be “real Japanese” (http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100202ad.html). Do we want them to tell our city government to join in the beying anti-foreign chorus, when one of the beneficiaries of your open-minded public was your very election? Can we betray them by passing this? Don’t give in to fear. We don’t need to say something nasty about our foreign residents and taxpayers. We don’t need to say anything about this issue at all. Just don’t pass this petition. Is what I would argue. ENDS

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

Unfortunately, the petition did pass, and Tsukuba City joined the ranks of the alarmists after being scared by the xenophobes; the suffrage proposal had gone down in flames nationally during 2010 anyway, so this was but a capstone.  Sad, really. Despite the opposition to the petition that people like Jon mounted, people fell for the shouting down, and it just demonstrated just how disenfranchised and unable to answer alarmist accusations NJ in Japan are.

Here’s hoping Tsukuba City unpasses this petition. (They can, you know, if Tottori Prefecture is any guide.) Arudou Debito

Yomiuri: J population falls record 259,000 in 2011 (as does NJ pop.); Keidanren think tank sees ROK surpassing J GDP by 2030

mytest

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

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Hi Blog.  Here are two sobering articles regarding Japan’s unsustainability.  The first indicates that Japan’s population decrease is, as predicted, accelerating, dropping by a record quarter-million in 2011 alone.  Now, let’s acknowledge the caveats:  This may be a blip due to the horrendous year that 2011 was for Japan.  However, the death toll from the triple disasters is only estimated (highball) at around 20,000, less than a tenth of the overall fall in Japanese population.  Moreover, if people say that this is due to people fleeing the country (meaning they’ll come back when the coast is clear, i.e., the fall is but temporary), okay, but then, I can’t help but point out, it’s clear the preponderance of the “flyjin” phenomenon is, once again, not due to NJ fleeing.  So I’m not so sure that “fleeing” is the cause either.  I’ll just chalk this development as more evidence of Japan’s unsustainability without immigration.

The second article is, I believe, more alarmist and latently jingoistic — appealing to nationalism to get Japan to pull its socks up.  A think tank affiliated with Keidanren (and we know how influential they are in the public policy realm — through them we got our new NJ cheap labor visa regimes from 1990 onwards) is saying that, horrors, Japan will not only drop in the world rankings (which we’ve anticipated for quite a while now due to demographics), THEY’LL FALL BEHIND SOUTH KOREA!!  Why South Korea (as opposed to, say, Spain)?  Because that would be a blow to national pride — a former colony and perpetual rival that we’ve always felt superior to (and who can apparently only use but the simplest cameras) shaming us in the world economy rankings!

Whether or not these predictions come true is irrelevant (after all, as Debito.org Reader Charuzu has pointed out in comments elsewhere, if and when the ROK and the DPRK reunify the costs will be horrendous) — if you don’t want this to become a self-fulfilling prophecy and have the Koreans lord it over us, DO SOMETHING!!, is basically the underlying call.  After all, we’ve had warnings for well over a decade now that Japan’s population is going to fall and cause economic stagnation, and that didn’t change public policy all that much.  It seems that only appeals to nationalism (and this time, targeting foreigners outside Japan, not within, as the latter strategy merely eliminated NJ labor and immigration as a possible solution), not appeals to logic, will pull Japan out of an economic nosedive.  Arudou Debito

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

Japan’s population falls 259,000 in 2011

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 19, 2012), courtesy of JK
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120418005881.htm

Japan’s population plunged more than 250,000 in the year until Oct. 1, with the number of children declining precipitously during this period, according to the government.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry’s Current Population Estimates put the population at 127,799,000, down 259,000 from a year ago, a record 0.2 percent decline since comparable data became available in 1950.

The number of children aged up to 14 against the total population was a record low 13.1 percent, while the number of people aged 65 or older was the highest ever at 23.3 percent.

The population estimates, which are based on national censuses carried out every five years, include foreign residents.

To calculate the total population, the internal affairs ministry used data from the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on natural changes in population–the number of births minus deaths–and social changes–the number of persons who entered Japan minus those who left.

This is the third time Japan’s population has decreased following 2005 and 2009, but the number of births was the lowest ever at 1,073,000.

With deaths outnumbering births by 180,000, the population in the natural change category declined for the fifth year in a row. The decrease is widening year by year.

According to the estimates, the number of children aged up to 14 totaled 16,705,000, a record low, while the elderly population rose 268,000 from a year ago to 29,752,000, an all-time high.

“The figures indicate the pace of the nation’s graying is accelerating,” an internal affairs ministry official said.

In the social change category, the population fell 79,000 from a year ago. Of them, non-Japanese residents who lived in Japan for 90 days or longer fell 51,000, the largest decline ever.

In looking at the child population, working generation (15 to 64) and the elderly, the ministry said the elderly outnumbered the child population in 46 of the 47 prefectures. Okinawa Prefecture was the exception.

In Hokkaido and 23 other prefectures, people aged 75 or older outnumbered children.

The impact of the last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake and the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were seen in the population estimates, particularly in the number of people who left Japan.

Fukushima Prefecture saw the largest decrease in population, with a 1.93 percent decline from a year ago.

Iwate Prefecture suffered a 1.21 percent drop, followed by a 1.03 percent decline in Akita Prefecture and a 0.91 percent plunge in Miyagi Prefecture.

ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////////
The Japan Times, Thursday, April 19, 2012 (excerpt)

S. Korea poised to overtake Japan in GDP per capita by 2030: report

By MINORU MATSUTANI Staff writer, Courtesy of DB

A think tank affiliated with the Keidanren business federation is predicting that South Korea will pass Japan in gross domestic product per capita around 2030.

The 21st Century Public Policy Institute also says in a report issued Monday that Japan could even be dropped from the category of developed countries by 2030 unless the low birthrate and dwindling population are addressed. 

“A declining population and the world’s fastest aging society will combine to have significant effects on the economy,” the report says.

“Unless something is done, we are afraid Japan will fall out of the league of advanced nations and again become a tiny country in the Far East.”

The institute assumes the population will drop to 116.6 million in 2030 from 128.1 million in 2010, with the percentage of working age people falling to 49.1 percent from 51.4 percent. Under these assumptions, the institute laid out four scenarios in GDP per capita.

In all but the most optimistic one, South Korea tops Japan in GDP per capita.

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120419f2.html

Japan Times Community Page 10th Anniversary: Vote for your favorite article at JT by May 5

mytest

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

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Hi Blog. Let me commemorate a special event. The Japan Times Community Page, a forum for NJ issues etc. that comes out every Tuesday, is celebrating its 10th Anniversary next month. They are having a retrospective and competition (with prizes) for choosing the best article (I have had the honor of contributing about a hundred so far), and you can vote online at the JT from the link and article below.

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

A decade serving the community
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/community-anniversary.html
On May 8, the Japan Times will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Community pages, which have been providing news, analysis and opinion by, for and about the foreign community in Japan since May 9, 2002. To mark the occasion, we are asking readers to pick their favorite Zeit Gist article of the past decade, be it a memorable scoop, informative feature or scathing critique.

In return, The Japan Times is offering readers the chance to win a B4-size poster (above) illustrated by longtime Community artist Chris Mackenzie.

Alternatively, winners can opt for one of 10 copies of “3.11: One Year On,” a 64-page Japan Times Special Report bringing together JT articles from the past year about the triple disasters in Tohoku and their aftermath. Please state your preference on the form below. This offer ends at 5 p.m. JST on Friday, May 5.

The following are the Community editor’s picks of just some of the standout Zeit Gist articles of the last decade. Some were chosen because they help tell the story of of the last 10 years in Japan, others because the articles proved to be extremely popular – and in some cases simply because they are great reads.

Please feel free to pick another story from among the close to 500 Zeit Gists

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

Short list of the editor’s picks at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/community-anniversary.html

Debito has two of those articles listed, “Punishing foreigners, exonerating Japanese” (on skewed criminal jurisprudence by nationality), and “Demise of crime magazine historic” (on the GAIJIN HANZAI magazine and how we not only got it off the shelves, but also helped drive the slimy publisher bankrupt). Or you can see titles and links to all the Community Page articles I’ve ever written, with one-line synopses, at http://www.debito.org/publications.html#JOURNALISTIC

(The one I think I’m most proud of, for the record, is “FORENSIC SCIENCE FICTION:  Bad science and racism underpin police policy” (January 13, 2004))

I will also be doing double-time next month when, in addition to my regular column, I’ll be offering a 600-word retrospective as the Community Page columnist and contributor from the beginning.

Anyway, The Community Page has been a good thing, giving not only a sense of NJ community but also of legacy, so let’s give it due commemoration. Thanks as always for reading both here and there. Arudou Debito

Cracked.com: Racialized characters in Japanese video games

mytest

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

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Hi Blog.  As Japan switches its economic clout into more “soft power” issues (i.e., selling its culture instead of its hardware; cf. METI’s promotion of “Cool Japan”), we are seeing instances of where Japan’s conceits and “blind spots” (i.e., a lack of cultural sensitivity towards, for example, minorities both in Japanese society and in other societies) have seeped into its output, with imperfect filters in place.

Take for example one of my favorite sites for procrastination and indulging in hilarious writing:  Cracked.com.  They have a pretty good research staff, and have dug up several instances of Japanese video games (since Japan dominates the industry) that are, as they put it, “politically incorrect” (today’s word for “racist”, since you can still be “politically incorrect” yet use it as a source of, say, humor; but it’s still the same “othering”, racializing, and subordinating process).  Here’s the link:

http://www.cracked.com/article_16885_the-6-most-politically-incorrect-video-game-moments.html

I won’t appropriate the text or the images because it’s better presented there.  But we have examples of:

  • Gay characters in the Sega’s VENDETTA street-fighting game the dry-hump everything as a weapon, and in BARE KNUCKLE 3 that mince about flamingly etc. (these were left in the Japanese version but removed from the overseas versions and in subsequent versions).
  • Blackface and n*gger-lipped characters in Nintendo’s SQUARE NO TOM SAWYER game (which never got released in the US; wonder why).
  • GEKISHA BOY, where street-animal African-Americans come in three types:  “street pimp, prostitute, and Michael Jackson”.
  • Sega’s DJ BOY, which features a stereotypical Big Black Mama shooting fireballs out of her anus.

And plenty more.  As Cracked.com demonstrates, the Japanese market generally keeps these (and other) stereotypes and conceits alive and well (as if Japan doesn’t need to worry about how they affect public perceptions of minorities in Japan), while for overseas markets things get sanitized (or not, occasioning protests and backpedaling) when Japanese sellers suddenly develop a “sensitivity”.

Some (including Cracked.com) might call it “innocent”.  I won’t.  Especially when the racist versions are allowed to remain on sale in Japan regardless (“for domestic consumption only“, in that allegedly impenetrable “secret code” that many Japanese seem to think the Japanese language is).

If Japan really wants to keep its cultural exports viable, maybe it should attempt understand how other people anywhere, including within Japan, might feel about being represented in such a fashion.  Or, if stereotyping is used as a source of humor, allow for everyone to be “fair game” (which, I have argued before, doesn’t happen enough in Japan; there is certainly ample Japanese protest when Japanese get similarly stereotyped).  Arudou Debito

Bryant in UCLA Law Review on oppressiveness of Family Registry (koseki) and Household Registry (juuminhyou)

mytest

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

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Hi Blog.  One of my research readings is Taimie Bryant, “For the Sake of the Country, for the Sake of the Family:  The Oppressive Impact of Family Registration on Women and Minorities in Japan” (39 UCLA Law Review Rev. 1991-1992).

You can read it from this link as a pdf here:

Tamie Bryant.Family Registries

While this is more than two decades old now, it still resonates, with just about everything you need to know about the subtle (but very definite) “othering” processes found in Japan’s Family Registry (koseki) and Household Registry (juuminhyou) Systems.  It gives the history of each (the koseki’s historical role in rooting out Christians, the juuminhyou’s role in census taking and tracking people), and then gives us some vagaries that arise from it:

  • The doctor who temporarily lost his license to practice medicine because he offered pregnant women an alternate means to register their children rather than have them   aborted to avoid the shame and stigma of illegitimacy.
  • The woman professor who wished to continue using her maiden name professionally after marriage despite her university telling her that she could only be identified as per her husband’s koseki.
  • The women who sued Nissan for discrimination because they were denied standard corporate allowances just because as women they were not registered as “head of household” (setai nushi).

It also very neatly unpacks:

1) the genealogical tracing of family for generations by corporations and prospective marriage families to see if the person was a Burakumin, or had aberrant behavior from other family members,

2) the hierarchical structure of Japan as a remnant of the prewar ie seido and how upper-class family values and structures were officially foisted upon the rest of Japanese society,

3) the power of the normalization of labeling, and how the state’s attitudes towards anti-individualism (as these are dossiers on the family, not just the individual) as seen in this system creates a socially-constructed reality of constant subordination,

4) the difficulty in fighting or reforming this system because of its normalization (although people have been trying for generations), as it is difficult to prove discriminatory intent of a system with no targetable individual discriminator (and with a plausible deniability of unintended consequences). 

5) How ethnic minorities in Japan are excluded and invisible because they simply aren’t listed as “spouse” or even “resident” on either form (Debito.org has talked about this at length in the past).

What the article does not get into is unfortunate:

1) How other nationalities (as in, foreigners in general) are also left out; this paper is still in the era of seeing excluded foreigners as Zainichi, whereas all other foreigners are merely temporary; this was before the boom in the number of Ippan Eijuusha (Regular Permanent Residents, the “Newcomers”) that surpassed the Zainichi “Oldcomers” in number in 2007. 

2) How divorce under this system means one parent loses all title to his or her children (since after divorce they can only go on one koseki);

3) How people get around this system by gaming it.

One game is how gay couples get linked to one another for inheritance and other family-dependent purposes.  Same-sex marriage is not allowed in Japan.  However, people CAN adopt each other, something Bryant does discuss in her article, and those ties are just about as dissoluble as a marriage.

This is one other (unmentioned, of course) reason why I believe Donald Keene recently naturalized.  If he remained a foreigner in Japan, he could be adopted, but his name would not be listed properly on the koseki and juuminhyou and no rights or benefits would accrue either way.  However, if his partner adopts him after he becomes a Japanese citizen, then all the benefits accrue.  Good for Don, of course (and my beef, remember, is not with him making these life choices, which he should do, but with him portraying himself as somehow morally superior to other NJ, something the Japanese public, according to a recent fawning Japan Times article, seems to buy into).  But wouldn’t it be nice if Don, who seems to be speaking a lot in public these days about how things aren’t to his liking, would also speak out about these vagaries of the Family Registry System?

Anyway, Bryant writes an excellent paper.  Read it.  Arudou Debito

JDG on self-appointed Hanami Vigilantes in Osaka harassing NJ

mytest

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

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Hi Blog.  As spring gets underway in the population centers of Japan and people go out partying under the cherry trees, here’s a rather unpleasant development that JDG reports:  anti-gaijin vigilantes, who take it upon themselves to police people they suspect of potential unsavory behavior (in a reportedly less than micro-agressive manner) under rules they purport to know.

This isn’t the first time, of course, Debito.org has heard about anti-NJ vigilanteism in bored power-hungry Japanese ojisan.  There is the officially-sanctioned stuff (“Japan Times: NPA to entrust neighborhood assoc. with more policing powers, spy cameras” Debito.org July 1, 2009), and even the Chounaikai neighborhood associations (historically used to help the prewar Kenpeitai Thought Police increase their snooping abilities). But there are also “citizens’ groups” (see “TV Asahi ‘Super Morning’ rupo re Shibuya Center Gai citizen patrols harassing buskers, NJ“, Debito.org January 10, 2011) and other busybodies interfering with and taking nosey pictures of NJ going about their business in public (ending up as fodder in places like Gaijin Hanzai Magazine). Then there’s the quick mobilization of society whenever NJ are around anyway (as in the Hokkaido G8 Summit of 2008, where “local residents” and “advisors” hundreds of kilometers away were summoned to defend Japan from within (see The Japan Times “SUMMIT WICKED THIS WAY COMES, The G8 Summit gives nothing back, brings out Japan’s bad habits”, April 22, 2008, where “3000 amateur “local residents” and “neighborhood associations” in Ikebukuro and Shinjuku, [were called upon] to “watch for suspicious people” around “stations and important facilities”).

Golly, compared to this, self-appointed hanami police look like nothing. Except when you fall under their dragnet for harassment just for sitting on a blue tarp while foreign. Is this happening to anyone else? Arudou Debito

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April 10, 2012

Hi Debito, Hope you are well. Just wanted to share this story with you, maybe some of your readers have had similar experiences.

On Sunday (8th April) I went via Hankyu Kurakuenguchi station to Shukugawa, where along the river bank many people enjoy hanami every year. It is (apparently) a very highly rated location on a national scale.

I have been meny years with Japanese friends, and have never had a problem. However, this was the first year that I went early and alone in order to secure a nice spot. Shukugawa has rules on it’s website (such as no ‘reserving’ of a spot with unattended blue sheets, and you must not enter the roped off areas around the tree roots), which I read in advance.

I arrived at 10.30 am, and immediately I found a nice spot and stopped, then some old guy started hassling me to move on, saying that I wasn’t allowed to stop there. I told him to shut up, and then ignored him (thinking he was just some grumpy old codger), but as I was setting out my sheet and blanket, four more old guys came along to join him, and tried telling me that the place I was in was off limits. I pointed to the Japanese groups set up all around me, and asked ‘What about them?’, but the old guys just ignored my question, and told me that they would call the police if I tried to give them any trouble.

I know I wasn’t breaking any of Shukugawa’s rules, so I just ignored them and waited for the rest of my group to arrive. For the next hour the group of five old guys stood over me, coming over every 5 minutes to ask me if I was going to move on, or asking me if I didn’t think that I was selfish by taking up so much room (one blue sheet), and even taking my photo twice. I told them that it was against the law to take my photo without my permission. I took theirs only after that (see attached photo).


When my NJ and Japanese friends turned up, the old guys took off pretty sharpish.

I realize that this is not an earth-shattering case of discrimination, but I think it is important because:

a) I wasn’t breaking any rules. By taking my photo, the old guys are breaking the law.
b) I don’t like unelected volunteer jobsworths bullying people around.

I want to make sure that other NJ know their rights when confronted by old gits like this. Sincerely, JDG

ENDS

Mainichi: JHS teacher arrested for defrauding insurance companies by repeatedly claiming his luggage was stolen by foreigners!

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
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. Chalk this one up to the idiocracy that springs up whenever unquestioned hegemonic discourse (i.e., “foreigners commit crime”) in a society leads to too much giving the benefit of the doubt. We have some Japanese guy (a junior high school teacher, no less) repeatedly “losing” his luggage while traveling and then successfully getting insurance paid out on it due to claims of “thefts by foreigners”. (The idiot did it with enough frequency that cops became suspicious because they remembered his claims.)

Frauds and blaming foreigners are nothing new. I wrote a whole Japan Times column in 2007 on how foreigners have been targets of a “Blame Game” for many years now. But often it goes beyond comical. We have a trucker in 2004 who overslept his appointment and then formally blamed it on being kidnapped by foreigners. We have a bosozoku biker gang that same year who killed somebody and tried to blame it on a foreign gang.  And we have murder suspects in 2006 who tried to blame a homicide on a lurking “blond man” (in a city with very few foreigners to boot).

Clearly the “foreign crime wave” which was fabricated by Tokyo Gov. Ishihara from 2000 has cast a long shadow. As submitter Becky says, “No wonder they get microaggressive, look at all the crime we commit!” Arudou Debito

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Police nab man for allegedly claiming theft of non-existent luggage
Mainichi Japan April 05, 2012, courtesy of Becky
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120405p2a00m0na011000c.html
(no Japanese version found)

OSAKA — A man was arrested here on April 4 for allegedly reporting a non-existent bag stolen at Kansai International Airport and claiming insurance money for it.

Satoshi Kita, a 39-year-old junior high school teacher, received a 236,433-yen travel insurance payout after claiming his bag containing a laptop computer and other items had been stolen by a foreign couple near the airport train station on Aug. 4 last year, when he returned from a trip to Taiwan. An officer with the Osaka Prefectural Police’s Kansai airport station who remembered Kita’s original theft report became suspicious of his claims after reviewing airport security camera footage that showed Kita had not been carrying the bag in question.

“It’s absolutely true that I submitted a fake theft report,” Kita was quoted as telling police.

Police also suspect Kita may have pulled the same trick on four other occasions, including an August 2006 incident in which he claimed his overnight bag had been stolen from a bench while he was giving directions to a foreigner, for which he claimed 320,000 yen in insurance benefits. He has also filed theft claims at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and in Seoul.
ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 50, April 3, 2012: Donald Keene should engage brain before fueling ‘flyjin,’ foreign crime myths

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
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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justbecauseicon.jpg

The Japan Times Tuesday, April 3, 2012
JUST BE CAUSE Column 50
Keene should engage brain before fueling ‘flyjin,’ foreign crime myths
(Original title:  “Let’s put some myths to rest”)
By ARUDOU, DEBITO
Courtesy of http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120403ad.html

Congratulations to Donald Keene, who was granted Japanese citizenship last month with great media fanfare. At 89 years young and after a lifetime contributing to world scholarship on Japan, he truly deserves it.

Unfortunately, while receiving all the kudos, Keene demonstrated that he had fallen for two of Japan’s media-manufactured myths about non-Japanese (NJ) residents: 1) that they are responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime in Japan, and 2) that they fled Japan (as “flyjin”) in disproportionate numbers due to the Tohoku disasters.

In media reports, both when he applied for citizenship last November and when he got it on March 7, Keene said repeatedly that he was naturalizing to “encourage,” “endure hardships” and “show solidarity” with the Japanese people as a Japanese — unlike, the media also repeatedly reported him as saying, the large number of foreigners who left Japan after the earthquakes.

He also joshed at a March 7 press conference, quote, “As a Japanese, I swear not to commit any crimes.”

Very funny. You know a public discourse has become hegemonic when you can joke about it. But when you have an iconic (former) NJ promoting falsehoods about NJ, we need to put them to rest.

First, about foreign crime: As has been discussed in these pages before (Zeit Gist, Feb. 20, 2007, Oct. 7, 2003, and Oct. 4, 2002), the National Police Agency has performed all kinds of statistical magic to inflate NJ crime figures. Hence the rise of foreign crime over the past decade has been, to put it mildly, disproportionately reported in both scope and degree. As always, 99 percent of crime in Japan is committed by Japanese.

Even more so now. According to the most recent NPA figures (www.npa.go.jp/sosikihanzai/kokusaisousa/kokusai/H23_Z_RAINICHI_ZANTEI.pdf), foreign crime has dropped every year without pause since its peak in 2005. In fact, by more than half — so precipitously that the NPA includes crime numbers from 1982 (when there were far fewer NJ here anyway) to depict some kind of comparative rise.

Last year was no different, with crime falling by double-digit percentages in every major category, to below levels last seen in 1993! This matters because Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara infamously predicted in 2000 that in the event of a natural disaster (and 2011 had at least two), “bad foreigners” would riot and need rounding up by the Self-Defense Forces.

Clearly none of that happened. Yet the public discourse of NJ as criminal, as promoted by grumpy (or acidulously jokey) geriatrics, hasn’t changed.

Now let’s look at the renewed flyjin discourse, since Keene’s self-promotion as a paragon of virtue now threatens to similarly tar NJ as deserters.

I have talked about flyjin before (Just Be Cause, May 3, 2011), essentially arguing, “So what if NJ left? It’s not as if they were made to feel welcome and a part of Japan.”

But now that last year’s statistics are in we need an update — because it’s clear the whole flyjin phenomenon was a myth.

According to the Ministry of Justice (www.moj.go.jp/content/000094842.pdf), the NJ population registered with the government (so as to leave out NJ tourists, who must depart within three months anyway) dropped for the third straight year in 2011, by 55,671 souls, or 2.6 percent. This is little different than 2010’s drop of 51,970, or 2.4 percent — meaning this is an ongoing trend little changed by the disasters.

Moreover, look at the largest drop in terms of nationality: Brazilians, falling by nearly 9 percent, for more than a third of the total. Where are Brazilians clustered? Around Nagoya, nowhere near the disaster areas.

The point is, NJ migration (in a science riddled with caveats and complications) was happening anyway for two reasons unrelated to Tohoku: 1) because NJ are the first downsized whenever our labor market goes sour, and 2) because it is standard operating practice within Japan’s visa regimes to boot out unwanted NJ workers (JBC, March 6, 2012, and April 7, 2009).

Moreover, if this column does what the Japanese media steadfastly refuses to do (that is, compare Japanese with NJ numbers), we can see that according to the government Statistics Bureau (www.stat.go.jp/data/jinsui/pdf/201203.pdf), the numbers of “Japanese flyjin” last year (that is, those who actually left the country, as opposed to the indubitably higher numbers who moved away from the danger zones domestically) also increased: A net 24,889 Japanese left Japan in March and April 2011 alone.

And, as a brief but indicative tangent, consider the comparative migration patterns of “Japanese flyjin” during Thailand’s disastrous floods last October. Not only did Japanese not remain in Thailand “in solidarity,” they also took Thai workers with them (on one-time temporary six-month visas, of course) so as not to disrupt Japanese factory production schedules.

The hypocrisy is palpable. And from what I have seen, the Thai media did not bash either the Japanese fleers or the Thai temps as deserters.

The point is, Keene has made his life one of careful, disciplined research, and he should have tapped this wealth of knowledge and reactivated his critical faculties before shooting off his mouth like this.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not to impugn Keene’s life choices — he can live where he likes and take out whatever citizenship he desires. But he should not be denigrating other people’s complex and personal life decisions (many made with careers to consider and families in tow) based upon flawed paradigms about NJ — paradigms fabricated by a sensationalist media and grounded in a discourse of prejudice and hypocrisy.

If he does, he should be called out on it like anyone else. And in that spirit, let’s consider a few inconsistencies:

Keene has said that he wants to live out his remaining years in Japan out of respect to the “resilient spirit of the Japanese people in a traumatic situation.” However, Kyodo reported on March 9 that this move was “partly because travel (between his homes in America and Japan) had become physically demanding.” At his advanced age, that’s understandable. But why so much public self-hugging for naturalizing?

Moreover, what sort of support in “solidarity” for the Tohoku victims will Keene be involved in? The Yomiuri on March 9 notes that this month he’s traveling by ship to India and Africa for vacation. As soon as he gets back, he said, “I’ll continue to work more diligently in a suitably Japanese way. I also want to contribute to areas affected by the disaster.”

Like how? Collecting and driving supplies up to Fukushima? Volunteering to help out at gymnasiums sheltering displaced people? Organizing international fund drives? Moving rubble around, as so many NJ residents who did not “flee Japan” have already done?

Here’s one thing Keene could do: Publicly retract his denigrating statements with apologies, and acknowledge the good that NJ have done for Japan all along — working here for decades, paying taxes, raising families, and living lives that fly in the face of the hegemonic yet unquestioned discourse that “NJ disrupt Japanese society.”

People who rise to mythical status should not perpetuate myths themselves. For someone who’s spent his life helping the outside world understand Japan, it’s ignominious indeed that Keene would now do the opposite for outsiders in Japan.

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

Debito Arudou’s latest book is “In Appropriate” (www.debito.org/inappropriate.html) Twitter arudoudebito. Discussions on this issue on Debito.org at debito.org/?p=10017. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments on this issue to community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 2, 2012

mytest

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

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 2, 2012

Hello Debito.org Newsletter Readers. A brief one this month, as I’ve been working on other projects. But there are as always some issues here that might warrant your attention.

First off, my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 50 will be coming out tomorrow, Tuesday, April 3, on octogenarian Donald Keene and the myths he promoted while publicly hugging himself when he applied (and received, justifiably) Japanese citizenship last month: that of NJ as criminal and fleer in the face of the Tohoku disasters. Now that the stats are in on foreign crime and emigration from Japan during 2011, it’s time to debunk these myths, and even expose not a few inconsistencies in The Don’s behavior itself.

The challenge during this column was one of tone: to take a person to task for his actions while not appearing to “meanly bash an old, old man” (as people will inevitably claim in their ever-angry Letters to the Editor). Sorry, but Keene’s behavior these past few months has been ignorant, ignominious, and unbecoming a man of his stature and research abilities, and he deserves to be called out on it. Especially since it affects NJ, which he himself once was. Have a read tomorrow!

Table of Contents:

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SOME FALSE ALARMS:
1) Naha City now requires JETs/AETs and JTEs to provide urine sample (drug test?) for contract renewal
2) Mainichi: 23 percent of Japan’s top firms eager to employ more NJ. Why this is not newsworthy.
3) Asahi & AFP on GOJ proposals re observing Hague Child Abduction Treaty, more loopholes such as NJ DV, and even bonus racist imagery

SOME WARRANTED ALARMS:
4) Asahi: Tokyo District Court rules denying J citizenship to children born overseas with one J parent constitutional
5) Discussion: Reader Eric C writes in with an argument for “giving up on Japan”. What do you think?

BUILDUP TO MY COLUMN THIS MONTH:
6) Powerpoint presentation on the J media-manufactured Myth of “Flyjin”; stats are in, lies are exposed
7) Congratulations Donald Keene on getting Japanese citizenship. Now stop making yourself out to be somehow morally superior to NJ.
8 ) Psych Today and DailyLife.com on “Microaggression”, an interesting way to look at subtle social “othering”

… and finally…
9) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 49: “Japan’s revolving-door immigration policy hard-wired to fail”
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By ARUDOU, Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, twitter arudoudebito)
Freely Forwardable

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SOME FALSE ALARMS:

Naha City now requires JETs/AETs and JTEs to provide urine sample (drug test?) for contract renewal

In one of the rare blog posts to blow up in my face, we had a JET down in Okinawa write in with written evidence from the Naha Board of Education that urine tests (along with X-rays, etc) will be required for contract renewal for AETs, with claims that this was only required for NJs. After putting this up on Debito.org with my typical acerbic assessments of discrimination towards NJ, people wrote in agreeing with Naha BOE’s claim a) that this is but a routine physical, and b) supplying written evidence that this is also being applied to JTE Japanese contract workers in the same position. Why I still believe this is a drug test (as there has been a scandal with two JETs in Okinawa getting drugs in the mail recently) — for why should an otherwise optional regular physical suddenly be a requirement for a job renewal? — it became less an “unfairness to NJ” issue than an “invasion of privacy” issue, which meant I had to retract and apologize for my original assertions. However, it did occasion a productive discussion on how Japanese employers increasingly feel it is their right to snoop on their employees’ health just because they’re paying for the health test. In Naha’s case, if you don’t comply with the snoop, you’re fired. Read what transpired at

http://www.debito.org/?p=10062

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Mainichi: 23 percent of Japan’s top firms eager to employ more NJ. Why this is not newsworthy.

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.

COMMENT: Well, seems that trumpeting that Japanese companies want to hire foreigners is becoming a periodic media thing (the last survey put up on Debito.org was featured in the Asahi back in April 2010). But saying you want something is not news; actually doing it, is. But the lack of job-placement support for NJ graduates of Japanese universities, and the treatment of Michael Woodford (who rose through the ranks to CEO over decades of dedication to the company, only to be sacked for “cultural reasons” in a sea of corruption), do not inspire hope.

http://www.debito.org/?p=9850

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Asahi & AFP on GOJ proposals re observing Hague Child Abduction Treaty, more loopholes such as NJ DV, and even bonus racist imagery

AFP: 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.

Asahi: 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… 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.

COMMENT: Love the invective that one sees time and again in the Japanese media and GOJ debates, where we have the appearance of victimized Japanese females being harassed by NJ males (including even the threat of domestic violence), when in fact child abduction and parental alienation happens between Japanese too, given that there is no joint custody or guaranteed visitation rights in Japan. Check out this article below from the Asahi last January. Bonus: The newspaper’s pictorially racist portrayal of the non-Distaff Side of the international couple. And that’s before you even get to the unlikely prospect of Japan actually ever enforcing the Hague (see here also), just like it never enforces the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination. The discourse will continue as such.

http://www.debito.org/?p=9902

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SOME WARRANTED ALARMS:

Asahi: Tokyo District Court rules denying J citizenship to children born overseas with one J parent constitutional

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.

This fruity ruling is in contrast to the Supreme Court’s June 2008 landmark ruling regarding Japanese-Filipina plaintiffs in a similar situation, where their Japanese nationality would be recognized despite similar bureaucratic registry snafus (as in, Japanese paternity not being recognized within a certain time frame, and if the child was born out of wedlock). That ruling was justified in part by the judges candidly admitting that lack of Japanese nationality would mean clear and present discrimination in Japan towards these people. (In a related note, the GOJ months later declared a “false paternity” panic, and declared countermeasures were necessary; wheels turn slowly within the Japanese judiciary — perhaps this ruling is a countermeasure to keep the Half riffraff out.)

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).

Granted, Japanese judges are a fruity lot, and District Court rulings are often overturned for their fruitiness (see the McGowan Case, where an African-American plaintiff was refused entry to an eyeglass store by a manager who expressly disliked black people, and the judge said it was unclear that refusal was due to him being black; and the Oita Zainichi Chinese Welfare Case, which tried to rule that foreigners were not eligible for social welfare, despite it being made legal by the Japanese Diet since 1981! — see here also under item six). Let’s hope there is an appeal and this gets taken before a less fruity court.

http://www.debito.org/?p=10060

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Discussion: Reader Eric C writes in with an argument for “giving up on Japan”. What do you think?

I got a post comment the other day that occasioned a lot of debate on Debito.org last month. 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 April) fifteen years now. And it’s also a useful exercise to think about why we do the things that we do.

Eric C: 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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=10041

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BUILDUP TO MY COLUMN THIS MONTH:

Powerpoint presentation on the J media-manufactured Myth of “Flyjin”; stats are in, lies are exposed

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).

Download my powerpoint presentation on this at http://www.debito.org/flyjin032012.pptx
Discussion of it at http://www.debito.org/?p=10055

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

Congratulations Donald Keene on getting Japanese citizenship. Now stop making yourself out to be somehow morally superior to NJ.

Good news. Congratulations to The Don for getting his Japanese citizenship, and on what looks to be an expedited schedule (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.

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.’”

The Yomiuri adds: 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… Starting next month, he will travel by ship to India and Africa for vacation.

http://www.debito.org/?p=10017

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Psych Today and DailyLife.com on “Microaggression”, an interesting way to look at subtle social “othering”

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.

Psychology Today: 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…

http://www.debito.org/?p=10051

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… and finally…

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 49: “Japan’s revolving-door immigration policy hard-wired to fail”

The Japan Times, Tuesday, March 6, 2012
JUST BE CAUSE
Japan’s revolving-door immigration policy hard-wired to fail
By DEBITO ARUDOU
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120306ad.html
Discussion and links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=10010

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All for this month! Thanks for reading!
ARUDOU, Debito at www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 2, 2012 ENDS