PTA-recommended “Chagurin” mag puts propaganda article “Children within the Poverty Country of America” in Japan’s 6th-Grader classrooms

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader Stephanie sent me this eye-opening email a few days ago. I’ll let her tell the story (citing and redacting with permission), and comment at the very bottom after the article being cited:

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November 25, 2012
Hello Debito. I really don’t know if this falls under an area of concern that you might want to get involved with but…

My daughter is a 6th grader at a small country public school here in Hokkaido. Every month they get a magazine called “Chagurin” (I think it may be JA sponsored). Anyways, she looks forward to reading these as they have interesting articles and ideas. But this month in the December issue there is an article called “Hikon Taikoku America no Kodomotachi” [Children of the Poverty Great-Power Country of America]. After reading it she told her teacher she did not think parts of it were true, the teacher said it was written so it is true.

She brought this article home to us and translated it. I am so … what is the word…disappointed, mad…it is just not right that this lady writes an article with so many false statements and big generalizations. There are parts of truth but presented in a negative way.

Basically saying America is not a good place and no matter where you go you will see people living in tents in the parks. Other points — the poorer you are the fatter you are (which implies people are fat because they are poor). The health care is poor and it costs 150.000 yen to get one filling! Because people can not afford this they do not go to the dentist they in turn can not bite right, have interviews or get jobs.

One more thing. If you take a look at the photo with the boy with the “bad teeth” — as soon as I saw this photo I doubted those teeth are real. They remind me way too much of the fake halloween wax costume teeth I always had growing up. I sent the photo to a dental hygienist who has been working in America 20+ years and she said “In my 20+ years I have never seen teeth like these. They look like the fake halloween teeth.” When I write the author of the article I will be asking her for the photographer’s info to clarify the facts behind this photo.

I think you can glean more by reading this yourself so I will attach the article, front cover, and back page.

My issue is not that some people feel this way. My issue is that this magazine is for elementary students who, after reading it, believe it. I have plenty of issues with America but also feel very strongly about not writing or portraying all of America based on one area of America. This author says things that are downright wrong and then goes on to tell the kids that they should always seek to find out the truth … that angers me. Can you imagine a counter part article printed in the States about Japan based on one person’s narrow vision of an area and experience in Japan. I have a friend who works in a H.S. in Japan — the students write graffetti on the walls and throw desks out the window — should I write an article for all US children to read about the downfall of Japanese schools?

I will write the magazine, the author, and whoever else I can think of but truly I think we will only turn an ear if more than one person writes to discuss this.

Is this something you can write about? Maybe call or write the magazine?

Also, above the magazine name on the front of the magazine and the back page that I am sending you it says something about “JA group” If this is backed by JA do you have an idea of who I could write with JA as well? Please let me know. And thank you. Regards, Stephanie

PS: I have an email below that I am preparing to send the Chagurin magazine regarding the article I just wrote you about. I can only send this in English — unless you, or someone you know might be willing to translate this. It would need to be on a volunteer basis as I really can’t afford to pay anything beyond 1,000 yen at this time — and my own Japanese is poor beyond the daily chit chat. Thanks, Stephanie
—————————————————————–

Dear Chagurin Editor,

My 6th grade daughter borrowed her school’s “Chagurin” magazine, December 2012 issue. She enjoys reading the Chagurin magazine, but was surprised when she read the article “Hikontaikoku America no kodomotachi”

While this article does have some truths — the majority of the article is not only negative but also filled with generalizations and falsehoods.

It is not true that in “doko no machi ni itemo” you will find parks filled with tents. We live in Japan, but we are from America. In all of our experience of living and traveling America — we have never seen a park with homeless people in tents. It may be true for a few select areas of America, but not as Mika Tsutsumi writes in her article. This is incorrect and a huge generalization.

It is not true that one filling at the dentist costs 150.000 yen. That is nowhere near true and is completely outrageous. It would cost around $100.

And it is not true that because of the expense of filling one tooth people can not interview and get jobs. That, again, is a huge generalization.

I am saddened that you would allow such a negative article with several falsehoods to be printed for young children in Japan to read and believe!

We love Japan. We love America. Both countries have strengths and weaknesses. Both can learn from each other. But to write an article in either country that takes an experience of one person in one area and then paint it as truth for the whole country — that is just wrong.

I come from a multi-cultural background and I raise my children here in Japan so they too can experience a new culture and way of thinking. It is disappointing for me to have my daughter read this article and then talk with her teacher, telling her that the article was not true and the teacher responds that it is written and so must be true. And sadder yet, to have the Japanese children that read this article actually believe it.

I believe the only way to make this right is to write a retraction of the article, clarifing the falsehoods and generalizations.

I know an ALT who teaches at a public school in Japan. The students at that school write on the walls, don’t listen to teachers, sneak off and smoke in the school, and throw desks out the window. Shall I take this experience and write an article for a children’s magazine in America about the demise of the Japanese school system?

Of course I would not. But I hope you can understand what I am saying. I am truly disappointed in the printing of this article. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely, Stephanie
ENDS

UPDATE JANUARY 2013:  CHAGURIN EDITORS RESPOND, ADMIT ERRORS IN ARTICLE

=======================================
CHAGURIN MAGAZINE COVER DECEMBER 2012
Note that this magazine is put out by the JA Group “as a magazine to further the education of children’s dietary lifestyles”), and is recommended by the Japan National Parent-Teachers’ Association.

FIRST PAGE OF ARTICLE
The author is credited as Tsutsumi Mika, a native of Tokyo who was at the United Nations Development Fund for Women (commonly known as UNIFEM) and Amnesty International’s NYC division, before landing her current job at Nomura Securities America. One of her books is also entitled “Report from the Field: The Poverty Great-Power Country of America” (Iwanami Shoten Inc.).  The article’s headline: “Children in Poverty Great-Power Country of America”, where in the subtext notes that the site of the “American Dream” is now a place where one in seven people live in poverty, and children are also being affected (“sacrificing” (gisei), is the word used). “Let us learn what is happening in America, and think about it together!” is the conclusion.
(all pages enlargable by clicking on image)

SECOND PAGE OF ARTICLE
Question raised: “Is it true that the number of people without homes is increasing in America?”
Answer proffered: “There are many tents where people who have been forcefully evicted from their homes have to live.” (Among other claims, the article notes how this can be found in parks in any town — and Tsutsumi even takes care to note that it affects Whites as much as Blacks and Latinos!)

THIRD PAGE OF ARTICLE
Question raised: “Is it true that the poorer an area you’re in, the more fat children there are?”
Answer proffered: “Because all they can afford is junk food, children with decrepit bodies and teeth are increasing.”

FOURTH PAGE OF ARTICLE
Question raised: “Is it true that even if you get sick, you can’t go to hospital?”
Answer proffered: “It’s the world’s most expensive place for medical costs, where one hospitalization can cost you all your assets.” This is also the page with the claim that a single tooth filling will cost you 150,000 yen, and the suspiciously bad teeth on a photographed child.

FIFTH PAGE OF ARTICLE
Question raised: “Is it true that one out of every two school students teachers quit school within five years?”
Answer proffered: “This is one of the many evils (heigai) from tests that only evaluate people based upon point scores”. [Seriously, this criticism despite Japanese society being famous for its “examination hells”.]

SIXTH PAGE OF ARTICLE
Question raised: “Is it true that the number of children [sic] who graduate high school and enter the army are increasing?”
Answer proffered: “With the poverty, future options for youth are disappearing”.

SEVENTH PAGE OF ARTICLE (the best one yet!)
Question raised: “What can we [readers] do so that we don’t wind up like America?”
Answer proffered: “If you have questions, find things out for yourself, and develop an eye that can see through to the truth”. It claims that Japan is on the same road as America, what with the homeless, the TPP and resultant outsourcing overseas etc. One of the questions that Tsutsumi suggests we subject to critical thinking is “Why are hamburgers so cheap?”

BACK PAGE OF MAGAZINE
Gives profiles of the editors behind this propaganda piece. The editor of this article, Mogi Kumiko, notes how it was so frightening that it made her break out in goosebumps.

Mogi encourages people to send in their feelings about the article. That address is:

Tokyo Shinjuku-ku Ichigaya Funagawara Machi 11.  Postcode 162-8448
Chagurin’s website is at http://www.ienohikari.net/press/chagurin/
The sponsors, Ie-No-Hikari (funded by the Japan Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives), can be found at http://www.ienohikari.net/ja/
(And in case you were wondering, the doggerel name for the magazine apparently comes from Child-Agricultural-Green.)

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: Y’know, I am quite partial to the succinct definition of “propaganda” given by The Problem of the Media (2004) author Robert W. McChesney: “The more people consume your media, the less they’ll know about the subject, and the more they will support government policy.” That I believe is exactly what is happening with this magazine.

I have seen these kinds of dirty tricks rolled out by the goons in Japan’s agricultural sector before. Remember the whole rice kyousaku back in 1995, when rice had to be imported, but the “good stuff” was blended with Japanese, American and Chinese-made Japonica, while the lower-quality stuff was sold as is and called “Thai rice” to make sure a firewall was maintained between “Japanese” and “foreign” rice? I do, and The Ministry of Dirty Tricks itself (Nourinshou) has done the same thing with other agricultural goods, including apples back in the 1990s and imported beef/longer Japanese intestines back in the 1980s.

Of course, now we have a more international audience in Japan’s schools, who can see through the propaganda because they have experiences outside of Japan. It’s immensely disingenuous for author Tsutsumi to advocate a critical eye toward the truth yet fall into the propagandizing camp herself. Especially to an audience of Sixth Graders nationwide. But catch them while they’re young, and you will instill fear in them of not only America, but the outside world for a lifetime.

Wonder when the JA will give us the same straight poop on Japan’s irradiating food chain. Arudou Debito

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

UPDATE JANUARY 2013:  CHAGURIN EDITORS RESPOND, ADMIT ERRORS IN ARTICLE

Kyodo: UN HRC prods Japan on sex slaves, gallows. But the elephant in the room still remains no law against racial discrimination in Japan

mytest

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Hi Blog.  The UN Human Rights Council has once again prodded Japan to do something to improve its record on human rights (and this time the GOJ, which must submit a report every two years, actually submitted something on time, not eight years overdue as a combined “Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Combined Report”).  Here’s how the media reported on their interplay:

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

Japan Times Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012

U.N. prods Japan on sex slaves, gallows
Kyodo
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121104a8.html

GENEVA — A panel under the U.N. Human Rights Council has endorsed some 170 recommendations for Japan to improve its human rights record, including Tokyo’s handling of the so-called comfort women issue, the euphemism for the Imperial army’s wartime sex slaves.

The Universal Periodic Review’s working group, which is tasked with examining the human rights records of all U.N. member states, compiled 174 proposals for Japan in a report summarizing the findings from a session held last week.

While the recommendations are not legally binding, Japan has been asked to provide a response by March, when the Human Rights Council will convene for a regular session at the United Nations office in Geneva.

During last week’s session, China, North and South Korea, and numerous other countries proposed that Japan recognize its legal responsibility and provide adequate compensation to women forced into sexual slavery across Asia by the Imperial army before and during the war.

Other recommendations include the safeguarding of Japanese citizens’ right to lead a healthy life, in light of the enormous amount of radioactive fallout spewed over a vast area by the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. The town of Futaba, which found itself in the center of the nuclear storm since it cohosts the wrecked plant, had actively campaigned for the inclusion of this right.

The report also called on Japan to abolish the death penalty after more than 20 countries, including prominent EU member states, objected to its continued use of capital punishment.

ENDS

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

Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Wednesday 31 October (afternoon)

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/Highlights31October2012pm.aspx

(Disclaimer: The following brief is intended for use of the information media and is not an official record. The note provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review and does not cover all points addressed. An official summary of the meeting can be found in the Working Group report.)

[NB:  Emphasis in bold italics added by Debito.org.]

State under review Japan
Represented by a 30-member delegation headed by Mr. Hideaki Ueda, Ambassador in charge of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Documents To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Japan page of the UPR website
Troika * Bangladesh, Libya, Peru
Opening statement by State under review Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Japan page of the UPR extranet )

  • The head of delegation noted that in July 2009 Japan ratified the Convention on enforced disappearance and in April 2010, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs set up the Division for the Implementation of Human Rights Treaties;
  • In March 2011, Japan extended a standing invitation to the Special Procedures and the Special Rapporteur on the right to health was visiting the country next month;
  • In September 2012, the Cabinet adopted a decision confirming the content of a Bill to establish a Human Rights Commission  which will be an independent body compliant with the Paris Principles;
  • The Government of Japan was of the view that the application of the death penalty was unavoidable in the case of the most heinous crimes and therefore considered that the immediate abolition of the death penalty was not appropriate;
  • Japan has been working to realize a gender-equal society in various fields based on the Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality formulated in December 2010;  furthermore, an Action Plan for Economic Revival through Women’s Active Participation was formulated for a gender-equal society;
  • Japan drew up an Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons in 2009 and in July 2011 the Government compiled guidelines outlining the measures to be taken by the concerned ministries and agencies engaged in combatting in persons;
  • Japan was carrying out intensive institutional reforms concerning persons with disabilities and was moving towards an early ratification of the Convention of the rights of persons with disabilities, which it has already signed;
  • In June 2008, the Diet adopted a resolution calling for the recognition of the Ainu as an indigenous people and in July 2009 the Advisory Council for the Future Ainu Policy proposed basic principles for the future Ainu policies aiming to build a rich and cohesive society where Ainu people can live with a sense of pride;
  • Noting that 19 months had passed since the earthquake of March 2011, the head of delegation stated that in order to achieve reconstruction the Government was committed to alleviating the continuing hardship of the people affected by the disaster and was decisively carrying out reconstruction projects without delay;
  • Responding to questions posed in advance, a member of the delegation noted that per the Constitution of direct or indirect discrimination was prohibited in Japan; as far as children who were born out of wedlock, provided that the authorities were notified of the birth the registration of the child’s birth was permissible;
  • In response to questions posed by States during the review, the delegation noted that the majority of Japanese people were of the view that the death penalty was unavoidable and that a life sentence in place of a death sentence was unfair for the prisoner as they were not given the possibility of release;
  • Discrimination in recruitment, wage disparity and dismissal on the basis of pregnancy were prohibited by law.
Participants In total 79 States participated in the dialogue:  28 HRC members and 51 observers  (Statements available onthe Japan page of the UPR extranet)
Positive achievements Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The promotion of disaster reduction policies and efforts to respect human rights during the reconstruction;
  • The extension of a standing invitation to the Special Procedures;
  • Measures to uphold the rights of the child and to combat human trafficking;
  • Steps to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities;
  • Initiatives to prevent violence against women and to advance women’s rights and the Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality;
  • Achievements in the field of socio-economic development and the realization of the MDGs.
Issues and Questions Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Plans envisaged to abolish the death penalty or impose a moratorium;
  • Efforts to reform the prison/detention system and to uphold the rights of prisoners;
  • Measures to address cases of child abduction and child pornography;
  • Plans to set up a national human rights commission in compliance with the Paris Principles;
  • Steps to enhance the gender equality and eliminate gender stereotypes;
  • Anti-discrimination legislation, particularly targeting migrants and disabled persons.
Recommendations States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Japan. These pertained to the following issues, among others:

  • Abolishing the death penalty or establishing a moratorium on its use, and establishing a national dialogue in this regard; and considering imposing a life sentence in place of a death sentence;
  • Reforming the detention system (Daiyo Kangoku) to bring it in line with international standards;
  • Defining discrimination in national legislation in line with the CERD and prohibiting all forms of discrimination including on the basis of age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or nationality and adopting specific legislation to outlaw direct and indirect racial discrimination and guaranteeing access to effective protection and remedies through competent national courts;
  • Strengthening efforts to promote and protect the rights of migrants including through public awareness and implementing a comprehensive anti-discrimination law providing effective protection against discrimination against persons with disabilities;
  • Facilitating the acquisition of nationality by all children born on its territory who would otherwise be stateless and ensuring free birth registration;
  • Taking further steps to raise public awareness of, and to eliminate gender stereotypes against women and ensuring greater political representation and participation of women in public life;
  • Conducting a comprehensive study on the situation of minority women and developing a national strategy to improve living conditions for minority women;
  • Taking measures acceptable to the victims of the issue of so-called “comfort women” who were forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War;
  • Adopting a plan of action to combat sexual exploitation of children, child pornography and prostitution and to provide assistance to victims of sexual exploitation, and reviewing legislation with a view of criminalizing the possession of child pornographic materials;
  • Step up efforts to establish a national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principles;
  • Protecting the right to health and life of residents living in the area of Fukushima from radioactive hazards and ensuring a visit of the Special Rapporteur on the right to health in that connection;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments:  the Convention on the rights of migrant workers, the Palermo protocol on human trafficking, OP to the CESCR, the 2nd OP to the ICCPR, the OPCAT, the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the 3rd OP to the CRC,  the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, and the OP to CEDAW.
Adoption of reportof Working Group The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Japan is scheduled to take place on Friday, 2 November
  • The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR. 

Media contact: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org
============================

DETAILED SOURCES

http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12667&LangID=E

http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,,,JPN,4562d8cf2,506d55922,0.html

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/JPSession14.aspx

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

So you see, once again the GOJ is avoiding the topic of creating a legal framework to protect people against racial discrimination — claiming it’s already forbidden by the Japanese Constitution (but as we’ve stressed here umpteen times, no explicit law in the Civil or Criminal Code means no enforcement of the Constitution).  But all the UN HRC seems to be able to do is frown a lot and continue the talk shop.  Further, the UN still chooses the word “migrants” over “immigrants”, which makes NJ (and their J children) who need these rights look like they’re only temporary workers — the “blind spot” continues.  Meanwhile, Fukushima and the death penalty seem to have sucked all the oxygen out of the debate arena regarding other human rights issues.

What follows is what Japan submitted to the HRC for consideration.  As you can see, it’s basically cosmetic changes, open to plenty of bureaucratic case-by-case “discretion”, amounting to little promise of fundamental systemic or structural changes.  Arudou Debito

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

From http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/506d542e2.pdf
A/HRC/WG6/14/JPN/1
(screen captures of section pertinent to Debito.org, pages 15-16)

ENDS

SITYS: IC Chips in new NJ Gaijin Cards are remotely scannable, as witnessed in USG’s Faraday Envelopes to protect cardholders’ privacy

mytest

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Hi Blog.  A little follow-up on something I have been reporting on for years now:

As Readers of Debito.org know, Japan instituted its new Gaijin Cards (Zairyuu Kaado, or ZRK) from July 15, 2012, promising to promote the “convenience” of NJ residents by streamlining bureaucratic procedures.  But as I have argued, the Ministry of Justice’s main interest is not the convenience of NJ (or else it would have not left NJ in legal limbo when Japan’s Postal Authorities arbitrarily decided not to honor the old Gaijin Cards as a valid form of ID any longer — even though the MOJ acknowledged the old Gaijin Cards issued by them were still legal for at most three more years).  No, the MOJ’s interest is in policing NJ (well, “administering” (kanri) is how they benignly put it, as they explicitly noted in their Cabinet-level presentation last May about how to “co-exist” with NJ in future — essentially by cracking down on visa overstayers further).

To that end, the ZRK has an embedded IC Chip with RFID technology, which, as I have argued for years now, is a means to remotely track NJ in a crowd and beef up racial profiling.  After all, if the NPA scans a crowd and sees somebody walking while visibly “foreign”, they now have probable cause to stop them for one of their patented ID checkpoints formerly permitted under the Foreign Registry Law.  Hey you, gaijin, why aren’t you showing up on our scanners?  Woe betide the naturalized citizen or Japanese of international roots, who now have the burden of proving somehow that they are not “foreign”…

(As an aside, I have been told by at least one legal expert that spot checks are apparently no longer legally permitted, since the Foreign Registry Law has been abolished, but never mind — it’s still happening.  In fact, I just heard word the other day that somebody who got zapped for a Gaijin Card check in Tokyo wasn’t carrying it, had to be escorted home for proof of valid visa, and after showing it was still slapped with a 200,000 yen fine.  Waiting for final confirmation on that…)

However, here’s where the SITYS (See I Told You So) comes in:  People who should know better have constantly argued that I’m donning a tinfoil hat for saying that embedded IC Chips are remotely trackable, and will be used not only for identity theft (for NJ only, since only they are legally required by law to carry ZRK at all times or face criminal penalty), but also for enhanced policing.  No amount of evidence presented (even “the scan-proof travel pouches” long on sale) has convinced them.  So let’s try again:

Look, even the US Government acknowledges that their cards (in this case, my friends’ “Green Card” and Global Entry Card) need to be issued with Faraday Cage envelopes “to protect their privacy”.  If these cards were not remotely trackable, why would the USG bother issuing them with the following instructions?

“Green Card” Faraday Envelope:

Global Entry Card Faraday Envelope:

Do you think the GOJ will ever issue a Faraday Envelope to NJ with their ZRKs?  Nosiree.  That would defeat the point of inserting the IC Chip in the first place.  (For the record, taking off the tinfoil hat and wrapping it around your card protects your privacy — until you get remotely racially profiled, of course…)

Remember, protecting the privacy of NJ is not a priority of the MOJ.  As far as they’re concerned, NJ have no right to privacy, for who knows what they’ll get up to in Japan if they’re not properly “administrated”?

So let’s face facts, everyone:  Embedded chips are there to track NJ and legally NJ only.  No more denialism please.  SITYS.  Arudou Debito

NYT on Donald Keene “becoming one of them”, in an underresearched article that eulogizes the man before time

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I didn’t know the New York Times was in the habit of writing eulogies before their subject dies.  But that’s essentially what happened earlier this month with their write-up on Donald Keene.

Frequent readers of Debito.org will remember why I take such a dim view of Keene’s ignominious actions at the twilight of an illustrious career.  I’ve devoted a Japan Times column to how a scholar of his standing used poor social science in his public statements alluding to the “Flyjin Myth” and the fiction of foreigners as criminals.  Despite this, Keene has still refused to acknowledge any of the good things that NJ residents have done (not only in terms of disaster relief “in solidarity” with “The Japanese”, but also on a day-to-day basis as workers, taxpayers, and non-criminals).  Nor has Keene amended his public statements in any way to reflect a less self-serving doctrine — thus elevating himself while denigrating others in his social caste.  In essence, Keene has essentially “pulled up the ladder behind him”, stopping others from enjoying the same trappings of what the NYT claims is “acceptance”.  Thus, how NJ sempai in Japan (even after naturalization) eat their young to suit themselves is a fascinating dynamic that this article inadvertently charts.

This article represents a missed research opportunity for an otherwise incredibly thorough reporter (Martin has written peerless articles on Fukushima, and I simply adored his report on the Ogasawaras).  How about this for a research question:  Why else might The Don have naturalized?   I say it doesn’t involve the self-hugging cloaked as some odd form of self-sacrifice.  How about investigating the fact that while gay marriage is not allowed in Japan, adoption (due to the vagaries of the Koseki Family Registry system) is a common way for same-sex partners to pass on their inheritance and legacies to their loved ones — by making them part of their family.  Naturalization makes it clear that there will be no extranationality conceits to interfere with the smooth transfer of claims.  This article could have been a fine peg to hang that research on.

Not to mention the fact that even seasoned journalists at the NYT can fall for The Fame:  Ever hear of the old adage that enables many a minority to receive the veneer of “acceptance” despite all the racialized reasons to deny it?  It’s called:  “They’ll claim us if we’re famous.”   Yes, so many lovely “thanks” from strangers in coffee shops; but as I’ve written before, The Don sadly won’t be around for any denouement once The Fame inevitably fades.

(Then we get to a few semantic issues unduly unsophisticated for the NYT:  the old stereotypes within about Japan as “a racially homogeneous nation” — haven’t we gotten beyond that yet?  Well, there is a sop thrown in to qualify the reconfirmed Flyjin Myth with “many foreign residents and even Japanese left the country.”  Yes, EVEN Japanese left Japan.  Huh.  Of course, under normal circumstances, NJ would never stay and Japanese would never leave, even if the food chain is getting irradiated and the GOJ, as Martin has so assiduously reported in the past, has been unforthright about it.  But that’s me putting on my semantic “microaggression” cap; excuse the digression…)

Anyway, if one gives the NYT the benefit of the doubt here, I think the tack of the article should have been, “A person has to jump through THIS many hoops in order to be considered ‘one of them’ [sic] in Japan?  Go through all of this, and you should be ‘accepted’ by the time you are, oh, say, ninety years old.”  Instead, this development is portrayed as a mutual victory for The Don and Japan.

Why is this not problematized?  Because this article is a eulogy — it’s only saying the good things about a person (not yet) departed, and about a society that will not realize that it needs New Japanese who are younger and able to do more than just feebly salve (instead of save) a “wounded nation”.  That’s the bigger metaphor, I think, The Don’s naturalization represents to today’s Japan.  Arudou Debito

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

New York Times, November 2, 2012
Lifelong Scholar of the Japanese Becomes One of Them
By MARTIN FACKLER, courtesy of AH

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/03/world/asia/with-citizenship-japan-embraces-columbia-scholar.html

TOKYO — WITH his small frame hunched by 90 years of life, and a self-deprecating manner that can make him seem emotionally sensitive to the point of fragility, Donald Keene would have appeared an unlikely figure to become a source of inspiration for a wounded nation.

Yet that is exactly how the New York native and retired professor of literature from Columbia University is now seen here in his adopted homeland of Japan. Last year, as many foreign residents and even Japanese left the country for fear of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear accident that followed a deadly earthquake and tsunami, Dr. Keene purposefully went the opposite direction. He announced that he would apply for Japanese citizenship to show his support.

The gesture won Dr. Keene, already a prominent figure in Japanese literary and intellectual circles, a status approaching that of folk hero, making him the subject of endless celebratory newspaper articles, television documentaries and even displays in museums.

It has been a surprising culmination of an already notable career that saw this quiet man with a bashful smile rise from a junior naval officer who interrogated Japanese prisoners during World War II to a founder of Japanese studies in the United States. That career has made him a rare foreigner, awarded by the emperor one of Japan’s highest honors for his contributions to Japanese literature and befriended by Japan’s most celebrated novelists.

Dr. Keene has spent a lifetime shuttling between Japan and the United States. Taking Japanese citizenship seems a gesture that has finally bestowed upon him the one thing that eludes many Westerners who make their home and even lifelong friendships here: acceptance.

“When I first did it, I thought I’d get a flood of angry letters that ‘you are not of the Yamato race!’ but instead, they welcomed me,” said Dr. Keene, using an old name for Japan. “I think the Japanese can detect, without too much trouble, my love of Japan.”

That affection seemed especially welcome to a nation that even before last year’s triple disaster had seemed to lose confidence as it fell into a long social and economic malaise.

During an interview at a hotel coffee shop, Japanese passers-by did double takes of smiling recognition — testimony to how the elderly scholar has won far more fame in Japan than in the United States. A product of an older world before the Internet or television, Dr. Keene is known as a gracious conversationalist who charms listeners with stories from a lifetime devoted to Japan, which he first visited during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

BUT what is perhaps most remarkable about Dr. Keene is that Japan, a racially homogeneous nation that can be politely standoffish to non-Japanese, has embraced him with such warmth. When he legally became a Japanese citizen this year, major newspapers ran photographs of him holding up a handwritten poster of his name, Kinu Donarudo, in Chinese characters. To commemorate the event, a candy company in rural Niigata announced plans to build a museum that will include an exact replica of Dr. Keene’s personal library and study from his home in New York.

He says he has been inundated by invitations to give public lectures, which are so popular that drawings are often held to see who can attend.

“I have not met a Japanese since then who has not thanked me. Except the Ministry of Justice,” he added with his typically understated humor, referring to the government office in charge of immigration.

With the patient air of someone who has tussled with Japanese bureaucracy before, he listed what he called the absurd requirements imposed upon him to take Japanese citizenship, including documentation to prove his completion of elementary school in New York City. Still, in a nation that welcomes few immigrants, Dr. Keene’s application was quickly approved. To become Japanese, Dr. Keene, who is unmarried, had to relinquish his American citizenship.

His affection for Japan began in 1940 with a chance encounter at a bookstore near Times Square, where Dr. Keene, then an 18-year-old university student at Columbia, found a translation of the Tale of Genji, a 1,000-year-old novel from Japan. In the stories of court romances and intrigue, he found a refuge from the horrors of the world war then already unfolding in Europe and Asia.

Dr. Keene later described it as his first encounter with Japan’s delicate sense of beauty, and its acceptance that life is fleeting and sad — a sentiment that would captivate him for the rest of his life.

When the United States entered the war, he enlisted in the Navy, where he received Japanese-language training to become an interpreter and intelligence officer. He said he managed to build a rapport with the Japanese he interrogated, including one he said wrote him a letter after the war in which he referred to himself as Dr. Keene’s first P.O.W.

LIKE several of his classmates, Dr. Keene used his language skills after the war to become a pioneer of academic studies of Japan in the United States. Among Americans, he is perhaps best known for translating and compiling a two-volume anthology in the early 1950s that has been used to introduce generations of university students to Japanese literature. When he started his career, he said Japanese literature was virtually unknown to Americans.

“I think I brought Japanese literature into the Western world in a special way, by making it part of the literary canon at universities,” said Dr. Keene, who has written about 25 books on Japanese literature and history.

In Japan, he said his career benefited from good timing as the nation entered a golden age of fiction writing after the war. He befriended some of Japan’s best known modern fiction writers, including Yukio Mishima and Kenzaburo Oe. Even Junichiro Tanizaki, an elderly novelist known for his cranky dislike of visitors, was fond of Dr. Keene, inviting him to his home. Dr. Keene says that was because he took Japanese culture seriously.

“I was a freak who spoke Japanese and could talk about literature,” he joked.

Japanese writers say that Dr. Keene’s appeal was more than that. They said he appeared at a time when Japan was starting to rediscover the value of its traditions after devastating defeat. Dr. Keene taught them that Japanese literature had a universal appeal, they said.

“He gave us Japanese confidence in the significance of our literature,” said Takashi Tsujii, a novelist.

Mr. Tsujii said that Dr. Keene was accepted by Japanese scholars because he has what Mr. Tsujii described as a warm, intuitive style of thinking that differs from what he called the coldly analytical approach of many Western academics. He said that this has made Dr. Keene seem even more Japanese than some of the Japanese novelists whom he has studied, like Mr. Mishima, an ultranationalist influenced by European intellectual fads.

“Keene-san is already a Japanese in his feelings,” Mr. Tsujii said.

Now, at the end of his career, Dr. Keene is again helping Japanese regain their confidence, this time by becoming one of them. Dr. Keene, who retired only last year from Columbia, says he plans to spend his final years in Japan as a gesture of gratitude toward the nation that finally made him one of its own.

“You cannot stop being an American after 89 years,” Dr. Keene said, referring to the age at which he got Japanese citizenship. “But I have become a Japanese in many ways. Not pretentiously, but naturally.”
ENDS

Archiving Tottori’s 2005 Jinken Ordinance (the first and only one ever passed, then UNpassed, penalizing racial discrimination in Japan) to keep it in the historical record

mytest

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Hi Blog. Archiving something important today: The text of the first law explicitly against (inter alia) racial discrimination in Japan that was passed (and then subsequently UNpassed by a panicky public). Although I have already written about this subject before, let me give you the story in more detail, then finish with the text of the jōrei so it does not disappear from the historical record.

On October 12, 2005, after nearly a year of deliberations and amendments, the Tottori Prefectural Assembly approved a human rights ordinance (tottori-ken jinken shingai kyūsai suishin oyobi tetsuzuki ni kansuru jōrei) that would not only financially penalize eight types of human rights violations (including physical abuse, sexual harassment, slander, and discrimination by “race” – including “blood race, ethnicity, creed, gender, social standing, family status, disability, illness, and sexual orientation”), but also set up an investigative panel for deliberations and provide for public exposure of offenders.  Going farther than the already-existing Ministry of Justice, Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yōgobu, which has no policing or punitive powers), it could launch investigations, require hearings and written explanations, issue private warnings (making them public if they went ignored), demand compensation for victims, remand cases to the courts, and even recommend cases to prosecutors if they thought there was a crime involved. It also had punitive powers, including fines up to 50,000 yen. Sponsored by Tottori Governor Katayama Yoshihiro, it was to be a trial measure — taking effect on June 1, 2006 and expiring on March 31, 2010.  It was a carefully-planned ordinance, created by a committee of 26 people over the course of two years, with input from a lawyer, several academics and human rights activists, and three non-citizen residents. It passed the Tottori Prefectural Assembly by a wide margin: 35-3.

However, the counterattack was immediate.  The major local newspaper in the neighboring prefecture, the Chūgoku Shimbun (Hiroshima), claimed in its October 14 editorial entitled, “We must monitor this ordinance in practice,” that the ordinance would “in fact shackle (sokubaku) human rights.”  Accusations flew that assemblypersons had not read the bill properly, or had supported abstract ideals without thinking them through. Others said the governor had not explained to the people properly what he was binding them to.  Internet petitions blossomed to kill the bill.  Some sample complaints (with my counterarguments in parenthesis, for brevity):  a) The ordinance had only been deliberated upon in the Assembly for a week (though it was first brought up in 2003 and discussed in committees throughout 2005); b) The ordinance’s definitions of human rights violations were too vague, and could hinder the media in, for example, investigating politicians for corruption (even though the ordinance’s Clause 31 clearly states that freedom of the press must be respected); c) Since the investigative committee was not an independent body, reporting only to the Governor, this could encourage arbitrary decisions and cover-ups (similar to the Bureau of Human Rights, which reports only to the secretive Ministry of Justice); d) This invests judicial and policing powers in an administrative organ, a violation of the separation of powers (which means that no oversight committee in Japan is allowed to have enforcement power — but this calls into question the many other ordinances in Japan, such as those governing garbage disposal, mandating fines and incarceration).

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (Nichibenren) sounded the ordinance’s death knell in its official statement of November 2, 2005: Too much power had been given the governor, constricting the people and media under arbitrary guidelines, under a committee chief who could investigate by diktat, overseeing a bureaucracy that could refuse to be investigated.  This called into question the policymaking discretion of the committees that had originally drafted it, and the common sense of the 35 Assemblymembers who overwhelmingly passed it.  The government issued an official Q&A to allay public concern, and the Governor said problems would be dealt with as they arose, but the original supporters of the ordinance, feeling the media-sponsored and internet-fomented pressure, did not stand up to defend it.  In December and January 2006, the prefecture convoked informal discussion groups containing the Vice-Governor, two court counselors, four academics, and five lawyers (but no human rights activists), where arguments to rescind the bill included how appointed untrained public administrators ostensibly cannot act as judges.  On March 24, 2006, less than six months after passing the ordiance, the Tottori Prefectural Assembly voted unanimously to suspend it indefinitely.  “We should have brought up cases to illustrate specific human rights violations.  The public did not seem to understand what we were trying to prevent,” said Mr. Ishiba, a representative of the Tottori Governor’s office.  “They should have held town meetings to raise awareness about what discrimination is, and created separate ordinances for each type of discrimination,” said Assemblywoman Ozaki Kaoru, who voted against the bill both times.  Governor Katayama resigned his governorship in April 2007, saying that ten years in office was enough.  The ordinance was later resubmitted to committees in 2007, where it was voted down for the last time. As of this writing, the text of the ordinance, Japan’s first legislation explicitly penalizing racial discrimination, has been removed entirely from the Tottori Prefectural website.

The fact that this former law has been removed entirely from the legislative record is a crime against history, and an unbefitting end to a template of human-rights legislation so needed in Japan.  So let me, for the purposes of keeping a record of the casualty of this catastrophic event, blog the entire text of the Ordinance on Debito.org to keep it web searchable:

Courtesy http://web.archive.org/web/20080329214102/http://www.pref.tottori.jp/jinken/jorei-kyusai.html

とりネッ ト >  人権局 > 鳥取県人権 侵害救済推進及び手続に関する条例

鳥取県人権侵害救済推進及び手続に関する条例

目次

  • 第1章  総則(第1条−第3条)
  • 第2章  人権侵害救済推進委員会(第4条−第15条)
  • 第3章  人権侵害に対する救済手続(第16条−第28条)
  • 第4章  適用上の配慮(第29条−第33条)
  • 附則

第1章 総則

  • (目的)
    第1条  この条例は、人権の侵害により発生し、又は発生するおそれのある被害の適正かつ迅速な救済又はその実効的な予防に関する措 置を講ずることにより、人権が尊重される社会の実現に寄与することを目的とする。
  • (定義)
    第2条  この条例において「人権侵害」とは、次条の規定に違反する行為をいい、行政機関による同条の規定に違反する行為を含むもの とする。
    2  この条例において「虐待」とは、身体に外傷が生じ、若しくは生じるおそれのある暴行、心理的外傷を与える言動若しくは性的いや がらせをし、又は養育若しくは介護を著しく怠り、若しくは放棄することをいう。
    3  この条例において「人種等」とは、人種、民族、信条、性別、社会的身分、門地、障害、疾病又は性的指向をいう。
    4  この条例において「社会的身分」とは、出生により決定される社会的な地位をいう。
    5  この条例において「障害」とは、継続的に日常生活又は社会生活が相当な制限を受ける程度の身体障害、知的障害又は精神障害をい う。
    6  この条例において「疾病」とは、その発症により日常生活又は社会生活が制限を受ける状態となる感染症その他の疾患をいう。
  • (人権侵害の禁止)
    第3条  何人も、次に掲げる行為をしてはならない。
    (1) 人種等を理由として行う不当な差別的取扱い又は差別的言動
    (2) 特定の者に対して行う虐待
    (3) 特定の者に対し、その者の意に反して行う性的な言動又は性的な言動を受けた者の対応によりその者に不利益を与える行為
    (4) 特定の者の名誉又は社会的信用を低下させる目的で、その者を公然とひぼうし、若しくは中傷し、又はその者の私生活に関する事実、肖像そ の他の情報を公然と摘示する行為
    (5) 人の依頼を受け、報酬を得て、特定の者が有する人種等の属性に関する情報であって、その者の権利利益を不当に侵害するおそれがあるもの を収集する行為
    (6) 身体の安全又は生活の平穏が害される不安を覚えさせるような方法により行われる著しく粗野又は乱暴な言動を反復する行為
    (7) 人種等の共通の属性を有する不特定多数の者に対して当該属性を理由として不当な差別的取扱いをすることを助長し、又は誘発する目的で、 当該不特定多数の者が当該属性を有することを容易に識別することを可能とする情報を公然と摘示する行為
    (8) 人種等の共通の属性を有する不特定多数の者に対して当該属性を理由として不当な差別的取扱いをする意思を公然と表示する行為

第2章 人権侵害救済推進委員会

  • (設置)
    第4条  第1条に規定する目的を達成するため、人権侵害救済推進委員会(以下「委員会」という。)を設置する。
  • (委員会の職務)
    第5条  委員会は、人権侵害による被害の救済及び予防に関する職務を行う。
  • (組織)
    第6条  委員会は、委員5人をもって組織する。
    2  委員は、非常勤とする。
    3  委員会に委員長を置き、委員の互選によりこれを定める。
    4  委員長は、委員会の会務を総理し、委員会を代表する。
    5  委員長に事故があるとき、又は欠けたときは、委員長があらかじめ指名する委員が、その職務を代理する。
  • (任命)
    第7条  委員は、人格が高潔で人権に関して高い識見及び豊かな経験を有する者のうちから、議会の同意を得て知事が任命する。
    2  委員のうち男女いずれか一方の数は、2人以上となるように努めなければならない。
    3  委員のうちには、弁護士となる資格を有する者が含まれるように努めなければならない。
  • (任期)
    第8条  委員の任期は2年とし、再任されることができる。
    2  委員の任期が満了したときは、当該委員は、後任者が任命されるまで引き続きその職務を行うものとする。
  • (身分保障)
    第9条  委員は、次の各号のいずれかに該当する場合を除いて、在任中その意に反して解任されない。
    (1) 禁錮以上の刑に処せられたとき。
    (2) 委員会により、心身の故障のため職務の遂行ができないと認められたとき、又は職務上の義務違反その他委員たるに適しない非行があると認 められたとき。
  • (解任)
    第10条  知事は、委員が前条第1号に該当するときは、その委員を解任しなければならない。
    2  知事は、委員が前条第2号に該当するときは、議会の同意を得てその委員を解任することができる。
  • (委員の責務)
    第11条  委員は、公平かつ適切にその職務を遂行しなければならない。
    2  委員は、職務上知ることができた秘密を漏らしてはならない。その職を退いた後も、同様とする。
    3  委員は、在任中、政党その他の政治的団体の役員となり、又は積極的に政治運動をしてはならない。
  • (委員会の会議)
    第12条  委員会の会議は、委員長が招集し、その議長となる。
    2  委員会の会議は、委員の3分の2以上の出席がなければ開くことができない。
    3  委員会の議事は、出席者の3分の2以上の多数により行う。
    4  委員会は、必要があると認めるときは、事案の当事者その他の関係者、学識経験者等の出席を求め、その意見を聴くことができる。
  • (委員の除斥)
    第13条  委員は、次に掲げる場合には、その職務の執行から除斥される。
    (1) 委員又はその配偶者若しくは配偶者であった者が、事案の当事者であるとき。
    (2) 委員が、事案の当事者の四親等内の血族、三親等内の姻族若しくは同居の親族であるとき、又はあったとき。
    (3) 委員又はその配偶者若しくは二親等内の血族が、その従事する業務について事案の当事者と直接の利害関係があるとき。
    2  前項に規定する除斥の原因があるときは、委員会は、職権又は申立てにより、除斥の決定をする。
    3  除斥の申立てがあったときは、その申立てについての決定が確定するまで当該事案に係る職務の執行を停止しなければならない。
  • (報告)
    第14条  委員会は、第21条若しくは第24条第1項の規定による措置を講じたとき、又は同条第3項の規定による公表を行ったとき は、当該措置又は公表の 内容を、知事を経由してその日以降の最初の議会に報告しなければならない。
    2  委員会は、毎年度、この条例に基づく事務の処理状況について報告書を作成し、知事を経由して議会に提出しなければならない。
    3  前項の報告書には、第24条第1項の規定により行った県の機関に対する勧告について、その具体的内容を明記するものとする。
  • (事務局)
    第15条  委員会の事務を処理させるため、委員会に事務局を置く。
    2  事務局に事務局長その他の職員(以下「事務局の職員」という。)を置く。
    3  第11条及び第13条の規定は、次条第2項の規定により同条第1項の相談を行う事務局の職員及び第18 条第4項の規定により同項の調査を行う事務局の 職員について準用する。

第3章 人権侵害に対する救済手続

  • (相談)
    第16条  委員会は、人権侵害に関する問題について、相談に応ずるものとする。
    2  委員会は、委員又は事務局の職員に前項の相談を行わせることができる。
  • (救済の申立て等)
    第17条  何人も、本人が人権侵害の被害を受け、又は受けるおそれがあるときは、委員会に対し救済又は予防の申立てをすることがで きる。
    2  何人も、本人以外の者が人権侵害の被害を受け、又は受けるおそれがあることを知ったときは、委員会に対しその事実を通報するこ とができる。
    3  第1項の申立て又は前項の通報(以下「申立て又は通報」という。)は、当該申立て又は通報に係る事案が次のいずれかに該当する 場合は、行うことができ ない。
    (1) 裁判所による判決、公的な仲裁機関又は調停機関による裁決等により確定した権利関係に関するものであること。
    (2) 裁判所又は公的な仲裁機関若しくは調停機関において係争中の権利関係に関するものであること。
    (3) 行政庁の行う処分の取消し、撤廃又は変更を求めるものであること。
    (4) 申立て又は通報の原因となる事実のあった日(継続する行為にあっては、その終了した日)から1年を経過しているものであること(その間 に申立て又 は通報をしなかったことにつき正当な理由がある場合を除く。)。
    (5) 申立て又は通報の原因となる事実が本県以外で起こったものであること(人権侵害の被害を受け、又は受けるおそれのある者が県民である場 合を除 く。)。
    (6) 損害賠償その他金銭的補償を求めるものであること。
    (7) 現に犯罪の捜査の対象となっているものであること。
    (8) 関係者が不明であるものであること。
    (9) 前各号に掲げるもののほか、その性質上、申立て又は通報を行うのに適当でないものとして規則で定めるものであること。
    4  知事は、前項第9号の規則の制定又は改廃をしたときは、これを議会に報告しなければならない。
    5  申立て又は通報は、文書又は口頭ですることができる。
  • (調査)
    第18条  委員会は、前条第1項の申立てがあったときは、当該申立てに係る事案に関して必要な調査を行わなければならない。
    2  委員会は、前条第2項の通報があったときは、当該通報に係る事案に関して必要な調査を行うことができる。
    3  委員会は、人権侵害の被害の救済又は予防を図るため必要があると認めるときは、職権により調査を行うことができる。
    4  委員会は、委員又は事務局の職員に調査を行わせることができる。
    5  調査は、犯罪捜査のために認められたものと解してはならない。
  • (関係者の協力等)
    第19条  委員会は、前条に規定する調査に関し必要があると認めるときは、当該調査に係る事案に関係する者に対して、事情の聴取、 質問、説明、資料又は情 報の提供その他の必要な協力を求めることができる。
    2  前項の規定による協力の要請を受けた調査に係る事案の当事者は、法令で特段の定めがある場合その他正当な理由がある場合を除 き、当該調査に協力しなけ ればならない。
    3  第1項の規定による協力の要請を受けた関係行政機関は、当該協力の要請に応ずることが犯罪の予防、鎮圧又は捜査、公訴の維持、 刑の執行その他公共の安 全と秩序の維持(以下「公共の安全と秩序の維持」という。)に支障を及ぼすおそれがあることにつき相当の理由があると当該関係行政機関の長が認めるとき は、当該協力の要請を拒否することができる。
    4  第1項の規定による協力の要請を受けた関係行政機関は、当該協力の要請に対して事実が存在しているか否かを答えるだけで公共の 安全と秩序の維持に支障 を及ぼすおそれがあるときは、当該事実の存否を明らかにしないで、当該協力の要請を拒否することができる。
  • (調査結果の通知等)
    第20条  委員会は、第18条に規定する調査を行ったときは、当該調査に係る事案の当事者に対し、その調査結果の内容を書面により 通知するものとする。
    2  委員会は、前項の規定による通知をするときは、通知の相手方に対し、調査結果の内容について再調査を申し立てることができる旨 及び申立てをすることが できる期間を教示しなければならない。
    3  第1項の規定により通知を受けた者は、当該調査結果の内容について不服があるときは、当該通知を受けた日から2週間以内に、そ の理由を記載した書面に より、委員会に再調査を申し立てることができる。
    4  委員会は、前項の規定による申立てに理由があると認めるときは、再度第18条に規定する調査を行わなければならない。
  • (救済措置)
    第21条  委員会は、第18条に規定する調査の結果に基づき、人権侵害による被害を救済し、又は予防するため必要があると認めると きは、次に掲げる措置を 講ずるものとする。
    (1) 人権侵害の被害を受け、又は受けるおそれのある者及びその関係者(以下「被害者等」という。)に対し、必要な助言、関係公的機関又は関 係民間団体 等の紹介、あっせんその他の援助をすること。
    (2) 人権侵害を行い、若しくは行うおそれのある者又はこれを助長し、若しくは誘発する行為を行う者及びその関係者(以下「加害者等」とい う。)に対 し、当該行為に関する説示、人権尊重の理念に関する啓発その他の指導をすること。
    (3) 被害者等と加害者等の関係の調整を図ること。
    (4) 犯罪に該当すると思料される人権侵害について告発すること。
  • (調査及び救済手続に当たっての配慮)
    第22条  委員会は、第18条に規定する調査を行い、又は前条に規定する措置を講ずるに当たっては、当該調査に係る事案の当事者に よる自主的な解決に向け た取組が促進されるよう十分配慮しなければならない。
  • (調査及び救済手続の終了等)
    第23条  委員会は、調査を開始した後において、当該調査に係る事案が第17条第3項各号のいずれかに該当することが明らかになっ たときは、調査又は救済 措置を中止し、又は終了するものとする。
    2  委員会は、調査を開始した後において、人権侵害による被害が確認できず、又は生ずるおそれがないことが明らかであるときは、調 査又は救済措置を中止 し、又は終了することができる。
    3  委員会は、前2項の規定により調査又は救済措置を中止し、又は終了したときは、理由を記載した書面により、その旨を申立人又は 通報者に通知しなければ ならない。ただし、通報者の所在が匿名その他の理由により分からないときは、この限りでない。
  • (是正等の勧告等)
    第24条  委員会は、生命若しくは身体に危険を及ぼす行為、公然と繰り返される差別的言動、ひぼう若しくは中傷等の重大な人権侵害 が現に行われ、又は行わ れたと認める場合において、当該人権侵害による被害を救済し、又は予防するため必要があると認めるときは、第21条に規定する措置を講ずるほか、次に掲げ る措置を講ずるものとする。
    (1) 加害者等に対し当該人権侵害をやめ、又はこれと同様の行為を将来行わないよう勧告すること。
    (2) 加害者等に対し人権啓発に関する研修等への参加を勧奨すること。
    2  前項第1号に掲げる勧告を受けたときは、当該加害者等は、委員会に対し、当該勧告に関して行った措置を報告しなければならな い。
    3  委員会は、第1項第1号に掲げる勧告を行ったにもかかわらず、当該加害者等が正当な理由なく当該勧告に従わないときは、その旨 を公表することができ る。
    4  委員会は、第1号及び第2号に該当するときは申立人、通報者及び被害者等に、第3号に該当するときは申立人、通報者、被害者等 及び加害者等に通知する ものとする。ただし、通報者の所在が匿名その他の理由により分からないとき、その他正当な理由があるときは、この限りでない。
    (1) 第1項の規定により措置を講じたとき。
    (2) 第2項の規定により加害者等から報告があったとき。
    (3) 前項の規定により公表したとき。
  • (弁明の機会の付与等)
    第25条  委員会は、前条第1項第1号の規定による勧告又は同条第3項の規定による公表を行うときは、あらかじめ当該加害者等に対 し、弁明の機会を与えな ければならない。
    2  弁明は、委員会が口頭ですることを認めたときを除き、弁明を記載した書面(以下「弁明書」という。)を提出してするものとす る。
    3  弁明をするときは、証拠書類等を提出することができる。
  • (弁明の機会の付与の通知等)
    第26条  委員会は、弁明書の提出期限(口頭による弁明の機会の付与を行う場合は、その日時)までに相当な期間をおいて、当該加害 者等に対し、次に掲げる 事項を書面により通知するものとする。
    (1) 原因となる事実
    (2) 弁明書の提出先及び提出期限(口頭による弁明の機会の付与を行う場合には、その旨並びに出頭すべき日時及び場所)
  • (訴訟援助)
    第27条  委員会は、第18条に規定する調査に係る人権侵害の被害者等若しくはその法定代理人又はこれらの者から委託を受けた弁護 士から委員会が保有する 当該人権侵害に関する資料の閲覧又は写しの交付の申出を受けた場合において、当該人権侵害に関する請求に係る訴訟を遂行するために必要があると認めるとき は、申出をした者に当該資料(事案の当事者以外の者の権利利益を不当に侵害するおそれがある部分を除く。)の閲覧をさせ、又は写しを交付することができ る。
    2  委員会は、前項の規定により資料の閲覧をさせ、又は写しの交付をした場合において、当該被害者等が当事者となっている当該人権 侵害に関する請求に係る 訴訟の相手方若しくはその法定代理人又はこれらの者から委託を受けた弁護士から当該資料の閲覧又は写しの交付の申出を受けたときは、申出をした者にその閲 覧をさせ、又は写しを交付しなければならない。
    3  前2項の規定により資料の写しの交付を受ける者は、当該写しの作成及び送付に要する費用を負担しなければならない。
  • (罰則)
    第28条  第11条第2項(第15条第3項において準用する場合を含む。)の規定に違反して秘密を漏らした者は、1年以下の懲役又 は50万円以下の罰金に 処する。
    2  正当な理由なく第19条第2項の規定に違反して調査を拒み、妨げ、又は忌避した者は、5万円以下の過料に処する。

第4章 適用上の配慮

  • (人権相互の関係に対する配慮)
    第29条  この条例の適用に当たっては、救済の対象となる者の人権と他の者の人権との関係に十分に配慮しなければならない。
  • (不利益取扱いの禁止)
    第30条  何人も、この条例の規定による措置を求める申立てをしたことを理由として、不利益な取扱いを受けない。
  • (報道の自由に対する配慮)
    第31条  この条例の適用に当たっては、報道機関の報道又は取材の自由その他の表現の自由を最大限に尊重し、これを妨げてはならな い。
  • (個人情報の保護)
    第32条  この条例の適用に当たっては、個人情報の保護について配慮しなければならない。
  • (委任)
    第33条  この条例に定めるもののほか、この条例の施行に関し必要な事項は、規則で定める。

附則

  • (施行期日)
    1  この条例は、平成18年6月1日から施行する。ただし、次の各号に掲げる規定は、当該各号に定める日から施行する。
    (1) 第7条第1項中議会の同意を得ることに関する部分  公布の日
    (2) 第2章(第7条第1項中議会の同意を得ることに関する部分を除く。)及び第28条第1項の規定  平成18年4月 1日
    (3) 第28条第2項の規定  平成18年10月1日
  • (この条例の失効)
    2  この条例は、平成22年3月31日までに延長その他の所要の措置が講じられないときは、同日限り、その効力を失う。
  • (この条例の失効に伴う経過措置)
    3  この条例の失効の際現に第18条に規定する調査を行っている事案については、同条から第27条までの規定は、前項の規定にかか わらず、同項に規定する日 後も、なおその効力を有する。この場合においては、同日に在任する委員が、その任期にかかわらず、引き続きその職務を行うものとする。
  • 4  委員又は事務局の職員であった者が職務上知ることができた秘密については、第11条第2項及び第15 条第3項の規定は、附則第2項の規定にかかわら ず、同項に規定する日後も、なおその効力を有する。
  • 5  この条例の失効前にした行為及び前2項の規定によりなおその効力を有することとされる場合におけるこ の条例の失効後にした行為に対する罰則の適用につ いては、なお従前の例による。ENDS

Interesting debate on martial arts as newly required course in JHS under Japan’s Basic Education Law reforms

mytest

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Hi Blog. Something that came up on one of the mailing lists I’m on (a JALT group called PALE) is an interesting debate on physical education in Japan as part of cultural education in Japan — the new requirement for students to take a martial art in Junior High School as an attempt to “transmit tradition” and develop one’s inherent inner Japanese-ness.

My basic objection with all this education on “what it means to be Japanese” (which reasserted itself with former PM Abe’s reforms of the Basic Law of Education in 2006 to foster “an attitude that loves the nation“) is that, given the binary approach to “being Japanese” (especially when defined as “being unique”, with an added contrast to “being foreign”), it encourages people of NJ roots to be excluded (or else to deny their own diversity as incompatible). But the debate on PALE added a new dimension — an unnecessary degree of danger, given how martial attitudes in Japan often invite physical brinkmanship in unaccountable sports coaches over their young athletes. It’s tangental to the discussion of diversity in Japanese education, but read on as it’s good food for thought. Used with permission. Arudou Debito

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October 2, 2012
From RA
[PALE] Concerns about compulsory judo in junior high schools

PALErs:  Although not directly connected to PALE’s brief, this issue is so important to anyone involved in the Japanese education system that it deserves exposure on this forum.

As most of you will know, traditional martial arts became compulsory in junior high schools this year.

This is a direct result of the new Fundamental Law of Education introduced the last time Abe was prime minister (so nice to see him back at the helm of the LDP!) which called for a return to traditional Japanese values.

In most cases the martial art that has been chosen is judo.

Many parents of young children are very concerned about this.

Since 1983 there have been 108 recorded deaths of children in judo class or school club activities in Japan. With a huge increase in the number of participants it can be assumed that the death rate will increase in the future.

Nobody has been prosecuted for any of these deaths.

As a result, a group of parents and activists have set up the Japan Judo Accidents Victim Association.

Their English language web site is here:

http://judojiko.net/eng/

I hope that PALE can do its bit to spread awareness of this serious issue.  Yours, RA

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From: MP

Thanks RA,
For me the most important link was on the left side for the Al-Jazeera program broadcast from Osaka. The older Japanese judoka/MD is opposed to the new system. I’ve forwarded the link to all PE teachers at my place.  Yours, MP

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From:  EF

I had not heard about this so I appreciate you sharing the information. I do think that an important aspect of your alarm is missing. 108 Children have died in 27 years of judo practice in schools – but there’s no mention of the total # of youth who participated safely in judo (which I’d guess is in the thousands nationwide). So, while the death of 108 children is sad, it’s not the alarmist statistic the website is portraying. How many children are killed walking to school along crowded narrow streets? How many are killed riding bicycles on busy roads? I don’t know but I’d guess it’s no small number either.

The fact that, “Nobody has be prosecuted for any of these deaths.” does not necessarily mean that it’s a conspiracy to hide the facts. Maybe all 108 were deemed to be accidents – something that’s VERY common among youth sports programs worldwide. Let us consider our own childhoods; if a person was injured playing sports, was there a lawsuit or criminal proceedings for all cases? These 108 cases which resulted in death (which the website states were due primarily to brain injury) could have been tragic accidents by kids not paying attention to how they were flipping or being flipped. Without further details of each case, it’s premature to throw up our arms in protest against the implementation of judo in junior high schools.

Sports are dangerous and a measure of risk is involved in simply rising from one’s futon in the morning. Throwing up alarm flags to stop children from learning a traditional Japanese sport which teaches discipline and self-defense–something which I think many would argue is lacking in today’s youth—is not a prudent step in the big scheme of things. You may argue that their goal is not to ban judo, but to “to support victims and find ways to reduce death and serious injury among students” as stated on their website. But the tone of the language implies to me that they desire more than just an “improved safety regime.” If I am misreading this, I apologize.

I agree that an emphasis on safety needs to be made so that we can minimize risk, but banning a sport because somebody might get hurt is like banning bicycles because someone in the past had an accident (a current policy at my daughter’s junior high school). Thank you for allowing me to voice my concerns about the power of PALE’s membership jumping behind this issue without truly looking at the big picture. Have a great week and let the flaming commence. Yours, EF

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From: RA

EF, thank you for your questions.

First of all there are quite a lot of options available between banning a sport and making it compulsory. So, yes you are misreading the site if you think it is calling for a ban. Although you are free to contact the campaign organisers if you want more clarification.

If you want further details of each accident, please go back to the site and click on ‘Download’ and look at the details of the deaths.

There are some heat stroke and heart attack cases but most deaths are due to brain contusions or subdural hematomas. These are directly caused by being thrown. There are also some suffocations caused by choke holds (sometimes by the teacher). This is NOT the same as falling off a bike. You are not supposed to fall of a bike or ride it into a fast moving car. You ARE supposed to throw your opponent in judo. I know almost nothing about judo and how someone is able to protect themselves when they fall. Clearly there are techniques for doing this and equally clearly they are not working for many school children in Japan. Making everyone do judo will only make this problem worse.

I do not agree with your implied notion that there is an acceptable number of deaths and serious injuries for any school sport. Rugby is a sport where serious injury can occur. However, over the years there have been changes in the rules of rugby in order to (successfully) reduce the number of accidents. Maybe this is the way to go with judo in schools.

On the subject of criminal prosecution, take a look at this Japan Times article from 2010:

Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010
108 school judo class deaths but no charges, only silence
Fatalities since ’83 highest rate in any sport; brain injuries abound
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20100826f1.html

It describes some tragic cases where the police did try to get prosecutions but public prosecutors threw the case out.

It may be only a matter of time before a prosecution does stick. The only question is how many children will die between now and then.

Someone who knows judo much better than me (and is a fan) told me that judo is the most dangerous legal two-person sport: more dangerous than boxing. Is it a smart idea to make this sport compulsory for 12-year-old boys and girls?

As far as I have been able to find out deaths in judo world-wide are extremely rare – except in Japan.

With the making of judo compulsory it is a statistical certainty that the number of deaths will increase in the future if nothing serious is done to change the way judo is taught in Japan. Yours, RA

PS:  You asked us to think of our own childhoods and the accidents that are bound to occur in school games. Well, when I think back I can clearly remember boys coming in to school on Monday morning with injuries sustained over the weekend in various sporting fixtures. I remember broken arms, black eyes, missing teeth etc. usually from rugby games. I knew one boy who lost his front teeth by, as he put it, ‘unwisely trying to catch a cricket ball in my mouth’. I think the closest I ever came to serious injury myself was when I was chased by a wild horse during a cross country run (but I managed to escape up a tree). When I was a teacher in a school near London I had to apply First Aid to a boy whose bare foot had been spiked by another boy’s running shoe. Try as I might I can’t think of any case of a child being killed or put in a coma during a school sporting activity in my school or any nearby schools. And the atmosphere is much more safety conscious in the UK now than it was then. We need to seriously ask if schools in Japan are doing all they can to protect the children in their care, and if they can learn from best practice in other school systems.

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From CB:

“Hai sai” (Okinawa dialect for konnichi wa) from Okinawa, everyone.

I think EF shares some good points (RE: it is always possible to overprotect children by erring too much on the side of safety…in fact, Stephen Pinker in his new book “The Better Angels of Our Nature” posits that one of the unfortunate side effects of the worldwide decline in violence is that kids are coddled and overprotected too much – e.g., being discouraged from playing outside due to kidnapping fears…child kidnapping by strangers is in fact extremely rare in developed nations).

However, 108 judo-related deaths in what are supposedly supervised classrooms still raises some alarms for me…namely, how qualified are the judo teachers, and what, if any, nation-wide mechanisms are in place to ensure adequate qualifications and quality control of said judo instructors? In fact, I think that someone brought up in a similar thread on PALE a number of months ago some stats showing that there are a fair number of unqualified judo instructors in Japanese schools. This wouldn’t surprise me – remember when the MonKaSho rushed English into elementary schools a few years ago without ensuring adequate EFL teacher training for the homeroom instructors who were expected to add English teaching to their already ridiculously busy schedules?

This compulsory judo has similar potential to be problematic (though with more serious consequences than a lack of EFL training of course!) if the new teachers in schools where judo instruction introduced for the 1st time are being rushed into these classrooms without proper training.

My daughter attends a private jr. high school in Okinawa where karate instruction has been mandatory for many years (as a way to promote Okinawan culture – this prefecture is the birthplace of karate). I doubt that karate will be replaced any time soon by judo, given the high pedigree of karate here, which also ensures that all instructors – 3 or 4 black belt teachers per class of 35 students – are well-qualified…I observed one of my daughter’s karate classes and was duly impressed by the teachers…in fact, Sakura-chan seems to think that some of them are “too strict” with regards, for example, to how the kids tie their belts. This is a good sign to me that they are watching kids very closely for safety, etc…indeed, that seemed to be the case during the class I observed.) Cheers, CB

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From: JT

I’ve done martial arts for almost 30 years, my first martial art was judo, when I was in second grade, and my father went with me (he received his black belt in an alternate system to Kodokan judo, Kodenkan in Hawaii, under Seishiro Okazaki) and I have a sandan in judo, so I’m more sympathetic to EF’s points.

As for learning how to fall, one usually first learns ukemi, which is how to take breakfalls. Having taught adults how to take breakfalls, it is much better to teach it to students when they are young. Less mass so less chance of injury, and more youthful flexibility. I do think some things should be done to make it safer. I have been told and I pass it on to my aikido students that learning how to fall is probably a bigger safety factor than thinking how martial arts is going to protect you from being mugged because whenever you don’t see a curb, or miss a step, you may need to fall correctly. I remember when I was a kid and my father got tripped by the dog running just in front of his feet at the top of 6 concrete steps at our house. He went down doing a judo style breakfall and got up afterwards. Later found out that he had cracked two ribs, but that is far better than breaking his neck.

I also think that there should be some compulsory sport in school. While the ideal would be to have several sports that students can choose from, judo has a number of advantages in terms of cost, facilities and participation. Judo also has an advantage in that it permits students of all sizes and builds to adequately participate. Team sports would have problems not only from the nature of the sport (how can you be sure students are getting the exercise they need), but also from the fact that students of particular builds are favored, while I can’t think of any other individual sports that provide exercise over the full range of body movements, with the possible exception of wrestling, though that is problematic for women (especially with male teachers) and has many of the same injury possibilities as judo. Swimming might be the ideal, but that is season dependent and requires specialised facilities.

I do worry that poor teachers, both those with inadequate training and those with behavioral problems are a worry, but I think that is more a problem with the way Japanese schools are staffed and their hierarchical nature. However, I don’t think that should be an indictment of judo.

For high schools, the compulsory sport is either judo or kendo iirc. I’m not sure about numbers, but kendo has the possibility of some particularly horrific injuries, specifically shattered shinai (practice swords made up of 4 bamboo slats) blinding or, in the worse case, killing practitioners when they go thru the eye and enter the brain. Furthermore, the gear makes it difficult to assess student injuries or problems like heatstroke until it is potentially too late.

I do think there are some things that should be done to improve safety as RA suggests. In junior judo in the US, chokes and armbars are not permitted and tsutemi waza (sacrifice techniques) are generally not taught. I realize that Japanese might balk at ‘watering down’ judo, but in the glance over the listed fatalities caused by judo, shime waza (chokes) seems to be a big factor. In addition, many of the other fatalities in the longer list occurred in tournament competitions. This problem arises when a match is fought and the person who is being thrown doesn’t want to lose the match and so refuses to take the ukemi and is thrown so that they hit their head or techniques that are even more risky (in that they don’t permit the uke (the person being thrown) much option in the ukemi) are used. While it is a judo fatality, I see it as the result of competition rather than the inherent nature of judo.

Again, I am biased, but judo is a great sport to learn as a kid, it lets you develop balance and strength without over emphasizing any particular part of the body, it requires very little money and ideally gives you a certain amount of confidence. Yours, JT

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

From: MP

I too am biased. I haven’t done it for years but I like judo. My
first introduction was in college and I recall that the teacher had
us loosening up and only practicing falls for the first classes.
(Note: Most universities in Japan do not have mandatory PE classes
but the University of Tsukuba does. Some students like this. Some
don’t.) Our small university has one campus for the visually
impaired. Judo is one of the main sports (the others are sound table
tennis, floor volleyball and blind soccer) and this year one of our
girls went to the Paralympics in London. Also, some of our students
join the U of Tsukuba clubs. It’s a great sport for the blind
because they can compete on an equal basis. But having said that,
after watching the Al-Jareeza program that was done in Osaka, and
listening to the interviewed parents and doctor, and seeing the boy
in the hospital bed, and reading the postings on this list, I have
some real concerns about the compulsory classes.  Yours, MP

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

From: EF

First, let me thank JT and MP for their input and insight into the world of judo. I’ve never played judo but my brother did in university and for a bit thereafter (he stopped when he moved to an Indian Reservation due to lack of partners). I agree, Robert, that it’s a very dangerous sport and the causes of death bear witness to this fact (thank you for directing me to the details).

In reviewing the list, there did seem to be about 25 or 30 which were incidental deaths not directly attributable to the sport itself but occurred in proximity to practice or competitions (heat stroke, dehydration, other medical issues, etc.). One pattern which was readily apparent was that the vast majority were due to the judoka’s head striking the mat and them suffering brain injuries / hematomas. I hope that this organization is able to push for the possibility of having the students wear headgear (similar to that worn in wrestling) to protect against such injuries. Doing so would add cost to the sports program (which I’m sure is already underfunded) so the likelihood may be low, but I do think it best to support this move as a group.

Anyway, thanks for raising this discussion and for everyone who added their two cents. I will definitely raise my concerns at the PTA meeting should I hear that my daughter’s school adopts compulsory judo in PE.

DEBATE ENDS

BBC: Japan’s pseudoscience linking personality traits to blood types. I say it dumbs society down.

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Hi Blog. Here’s something that’s been on my mind for years, and probably on other Readers’ minds too: The emphasis on blood in Japan in determining one’s status in society.

The BBC below talks about the hegemony of discourse in Japan linking personality traits to blood types. Most of the developed world with any social science training has debunked this. There is of course other quackery of the same ilk (horoscopes/palmistry etc.), but they are hardly taken seriously (they don’t matter in, for example, job interviews). But “blood”-based conceits encourage much more dangerous habits.  As noted below, they have historical connections with eugenics, Master-Race theories and Social Darwinism (i.e. that people can be sorted into personality “types” based upon birth-determined genotypical markers) which, in extreme cases, have led to pogroms and genocide.

Yet in Japan, blood-based theories of social behavior hold significant sway. In my opinion (based upon my current research), a conceit with “blood” not only legitimizes a lot of bad science (both physical and social), but also converts a lot of latent racializing tendencies into “old-school racism” (I say “old school” because most social scientists nowadays acknowledge that racism is a social construct, not a biological one).  In some cases, for example, one has to be “pure-blooded” in order to be, for example, a “real” Japanese. Thus it doesn’t just allegedly determine personality — it determines one’s legal standing in society. More on that from me some other time.

In any case, in society such as Japan’s that has this amount of weight put on hierarchy, having a quack science like this (so normalized that people can profit handsomely from it) avails people with poor analytical skills of one more factor to “sort, categorize, typify, and even stigmatize” people for things that are simply not their fault. It’s one more way of taking the individual out of the equation for personal behavior.

Simply put, this pseudoscience fosters horrendously bad habits. For in Japan, once the “blood type” equation is expanded beyond the allegedly “uniform and homogeneous society” trope, people become more susceptible to engaging in racial profiling towards “foreigners” — once the invisible genetic markers get expressed as visible phenotypical ones.

In sum, dumb ideas with common currency dumb down an entire society. And personality typing by blood is one of the dumbest. Arudou Debito

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

OPENING SIDEBAR

A minister quits

In July 2011, Minister for Reconstruction Ryu Matsumoto resigned after being criticised for making insensitive remarks. He blamed his blood type.

“I would like to offer my apologies for offending the people in the disaster-hit areas. I thought I was emotionally close to the disaster victims, but I lacked sufficient words and my comments were too harsh.

“My blood’s type B, which means I can be irritable and impetuous, and my intentions don’t always come across.

“My wife called me earlier to point that out. I think I need to reflect about that.”

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

Japan and blood types: Does it determine personality?
By Ruth Evans Courtesy of DK
BBC News 4 November 2012

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20170787

Are you A, B, O or AB? It is a widespread belief in Japan that character is linked to blood type. What’s behind this conventional wisdom?

Blood is one thing that unites the entire human race, but most of us don’t think about our blood group much, unless we need a transfusion. In Japan, however, blood type has big implications for life, work and love.

Here, a person’s blood type is popularly believed to determine temperament and personality. “What’s your blood type?” is often a key question in everything from matchmaking to job applications.

According to popular belief in Japan, type As are sensitive perfectionists and good team players, but over-anxious. Type Os are curious and generous but stubborn. ABs are arty but mysterious and unpredictable, and type Bs are cheerful but eccentric, individualistic and selfish.

About 40% of the Japanese population is type A and 30% are type O, whilst only 20% are type B, with AB accounting for the remaining 10%.

Morning television shows, newspapers and magazines often publish blood type horoscopes and discuss relationship compatibility. Many dating agencies cater to blood types, and popular anime (animations), manga (comics) and video games often mention a character’s blood type.

A whole industry of customised products has also sprung up, with soft drinks, chewing gum, bath salts and even condoms catering for different blood groups on sale.

Blood types, however, are simply determined by proteins in the blood. Although scientists regularly try to debunk these beliefs, they remain popular in Japan. One reason often given is that in a relatively uniform and homogenous society, it provides a simple framework to divide people up into easily recognisable groups.

“Being the same is considered a good thing here in Japanese society,” says translator Chie Kobayashi. “But we enjoy finding little differences that distinguish people. On the other hand, it can also lead to bad things being said about the minority B and AB types.”

It was only in 1901 that the ABO blood group system was discovered by the Austrian scientist Karl Landsteiner. His Nobel prize-winning work made it possible to identify the different blood groups, paving the way for transfusions to be carried out safely.

Theorists of eugenics later hijacked his research during the inter-war years, with the Nazis using his work to further their ideas of racial supremacy.

It was also adopted by Japan’s militarist government in the 1930s to train better soldiers, and during World War II, the Imperial Army is reported to have formed battle groups according to blood type.

The study of blood types in Japan gained mass appeal with the publication of a book in the 1970s by Masahiko Nomi, who had no medical background. More recently, his son Toshitaka went on to promote it further through a series of popular books – he also runs the Institute of Blood Type Humanics. He says his aim is not to judge or stereotype people, but simply to make the best of someone’s talents and improve human relationships.

Between them, father and son have published dozens of books on the subject, not just the handful of bestsellers.

These beliefs have been used in unusual ways.

The women’s softball team that won gold for Japan at the Beijing Olympics is reported to have used blood type theories to customise training for each player. Some kindergartens have even adopted methods of teaching along blood group lines, and even major companies reportedly make decisions about assignments based on employees’ blood types.

In 1990 the Asahi Daily [sic] newspaper reported that Mitsubishi Electronics had announced the creation of a team composed entirely of AB workers, thanks to “their ability to make plans”.

These beliefs even affect politics. One former prime minister considered it important enough to reveal in his official profile that he’s a type A, whilst his opposition rival was type B. Last year a minister, Ryu Matsumoto, was forced to resign after only a week in office, when a bad-tempered encounter with local officials was televised. In his resignation speech he blamed his failings on the fact that he was blood type B.

Not everyone sees the blood type craze as simply harmless fun.

It sometimes manifests itself as prejudice and discrimination, and it seems this is so common, the Japanese now have a term for it – bura-hara, meaning blood-type harassment. There are reports of discrimination against type B and AB groups leading to children being bullied, the ending of happy relationships, and loss of job opportunities.

Despite repeated warnings, many employers continue to ask blood types at job interviews, says Terumitsu Maekawa, professor of comparative religion at Tokyo’s Asia University and author of several books about blood groups. He’s critical about sweeping popular beliefs about blood types.

“We can point out some general tendencies as a group, but you can’t say this person is good or bad because of their blood type.”

His own research, he says, is based more on empirical research rather than popular superstition. In his books he explores the theory that predominant blood types may determine religious beliefs and societal norms.

In the Western world, O and A types make up almost 85% of people, but in India and Asia, B types predominate. Japan, he says, is unusual in Asia in that it has more variety of blood types.

“A type societies tend to be characterised by monotheism such as Christianity and Judaism, with one fundamental analysis of human beings and a strong sense of societal norms. But societies dominated by B types are more prone to polytheism – like Buddhism and Hinduism – with lots of gods, and they think people are all different.”

Professor Maekawa, himself type B, says in Japan his blood group is often criticised for being too individualistic and selfish.

“It isn’t very nice. But it doesn’t annoy me or hurt me, because it has no scientific basis at all.”

In a smart state-of-the-art clinic busy with lots of people donating blood, director Akishko [sic] Akano says he’s not aware that the negative image of certain blood types has an impact on their work, or dissuades minority B and AB types from coming forward. A bigger problem in Japan’s rapidly ageing society, he says, is persuading enough young people to volunteer as blood donors.

In the next room, I find Masako, lying on a bed strapped to a quietly purring machine as a nurse takes samples. This is the eighth time she’s given blood. Her blood type is AB, which is rare as it accounts for only 10% of people in Japan.

“People sometimes don’t like me,” she tells me. “They think I am weird and strange. Lots of people tell me they don’t understand what I am thinking about.”

Although Masako laughs as she tells me this, it seems that in Japan, no amount of scientific debunking can kill the widely held notion that blood tells all.

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


CLOSING SIDEBAR
What’s your blood type?

The main blood group system is ABO, with four blood types: A, B, O, AB
Rhesus system, for which you can be positive or negative, is the second most important with regard to blood transfusions.

In total there are 32 recognised blood group systems, which all have either positive or negative indicators.

The discovery of the latest two blood types – Langereis and Junior – were announced by researchers from Vermont earlier this year.

Four books describing the different blood groups characteristics became a huge publishing sensation, selling more than five million copies.

ENDS

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 57, November 6, 2012: “If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on”

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justbecauseicon.jpg

The Japan Times, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012
JUST BE CAUSE
If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121106da.html or
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121106ad.html, whichever you prefer
By ARUDOU Debito
Column 57 for the Japan Times Community Page

On Oct. 25, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara announced his resignation from office. He now plans to stand for election to the Diet as head of a new conservative party. He suggested political alliances with other conservative reactionaries and xenophobes, including Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan) chief Takeo Hiranuma (Just Be Cause, Feb. 2, 2010). And all before a Lower House election that must be held within two ten months.

I say: Bring it on. Because it’s time for somebody to make clear which way Japan is heading.

The world’s media has largely misunderstood — or misrepresented — what kind of an elected official Ishihara is, often portraying him as a “nationalist” (which sounds like a patriot). He is in fact a hate-mongering racist bigot.

This is the man, remember, who began his governorship by calling for foreigners to be rounded up on sight in the event of a natural disaster — for they might (unprecedentedly) riot! Cue one natural disaster in 2011: No riots. Yet no retraction. Thus he got a free pass.

This is also a man who goes beyond the standard right-wing denials of the dark side of Japanese history, such as the Nanjing Massacre and the “comfort women.” He has called the 2011 tsunami “divine retribution” for Japan’s sins, insinuated that Africans in Japan are unintelligent, said commentators on Japan “don’t matter” if they’re foreign, likened foreign judo practitioners to “beasts,” claimed Chinese are criminals due to their “ethnic DNA,” called parts of Tokyo with higher foreign populations “hotbeds of crime” too scary for even Japanese crooks to enter, and stigmatized Japanese politicians who support more rights for foreigners by saying they must have foreign roots themselves (as if Japanese with tainted bloodlines are somehow unpatriotic).

He has also stated that old women are “useless” and “toxic” to civilization, gays “gadding about” are “pitiable,” French is unqualified as an international language because of its counting system — and so on ad nauseam, painting grotesque caricatures of foreigners and minorities in broad, bigoted strokes. Just listing them all would take up my entire column.

Yet, instead of pillorying this piece of work out of office, the media has generally dismissed his statements as “gaffes.” But a gaffe is technically an error or an unintended misstatement — and Ishihara’s are too frequent to be anything but deliberate.

Sadly, due to the limited attention span inherent in media cycles, Ishihara managed to out-stare the press. They then excused their own lack of tenacity by treating his outrageous comments like a personality quirk, as if he suffers from a particularly offensive form of Tourette’s — effectively handing him a free pass.

Passes got freer after one re-election. Then another. Then another. The default theory became: Ishihara must be doing something right. Either voters actually like him, or they are just overlooking his bigoted outbursts because they have no other viable choice (or are sick of sloganeering milquetoast politicians in general).

My take is simply that Ishihara chooses his targets wisely. He never goes after the majority (who might vote him out). Good at sensing the weak minority voice behind any issue, he makes himself appear powerful at their expense — especially when he targets foreigners, who can’t vote anyway.

I also think people (including reporters) are generally suckers for celebrities and power-brokers, especially when they’re charismatic bullies picking on people. It’s amusing to watch people squirm — as long as you’re not the one being bashed.

Bearing all this in mind, Ishihara quitting his job can only be a good thing — for two reasons.

One is that the fool is giving up his self-legitimizing bully-pulpit-for-life. He’s lost the power to threaten to raid Metropolitan Tokyo’s tax coffers for bank bailouts, purchases of geopolitically sensitive ocean dots, relocation of the world’s largest fish market to a polluted empty lot, or hosting Olympic Games.

He also no longer has Japan’s most centralized police force (keishichō) at his disposal — one which, as Edward Seidensticker noted, can convert Tokyo into “a police city” whenever necessary (Zeit Gist, Apr. 22, 2008). Ishihara can no longer target people he dislikes with the same degree of public authority.

But the other, more important reason is because it’s time for the world to stop doling out free passes and realize just how far rightward Japan is swinging.

The Japan Times has reported many times (ZGs, Oct. 4, 2002, May 4, 2005, Feb. 20, 2007, Aug. 28, 2007, May 4, 2010, etc.) how Ishihara and his ilk have egregiously blamed outsiders for Japan’s domestic social ills (including crime, terrorism, subversive activities and a general undermining of all things “Japanese”) and gotten xenophobic public policies to match. However, these gradual developments have been largely ignored by outside observers and decision-makers.

Remember, the only thing that can really shame Japan into clamping down on xenophobia and chauvinism is the feeling they’re being watched by the world — i.e., gaiatsu (outside pressure). Yet international organizations, such as the International Olympic Committee, still treat Ishihara’s proposals as if they are legitimate. Again, where are the international boycotts to protest this man’s history of hate-mongering?

So, Ishihara putting his cards on the table will speak definitively about Japan’s future direction. If Ishihara gets his way (and he will win election to the Diet, comfortably) and gets, say, a Cabinet post or the prime ministership, he will legitimize a path for all the young budding Rightists (such as Hashimoto, who is half Ishihara’s age) to push their agenda of remilitarizing Japan and rekindling an ahistorical love for its fascist past.

This will finally get people to sit up and realize how much of a threat postmodern Japan — a state addicted to a discourse of self-victimization while scapegoating others for its own problems — is to stability in Asia.

If Ishihara doesn’t get his way (and becomes one of the many grumbling parliamentary pinheads within a fringe party, hamstrung by the omnipotent bureaucracy Ishihara himself so loathes), this will take the wind out of the sails of Japan’s Rightists — who are so desperate for attention they’ve reinstalled Shinzo Abe as leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (even though he lacked the stomach for the job the last time he was prime minister).

Either way, I say again: Bring it on. By abdicating his otherwise permanent job, Ishihara is making one last gamble at age 80. And he’s doing it out of the hubris and addiction to power seen in other old men (such as former Peruvian President and Ishihara crony Alberto Fujimori), who have spent too long in self-affirming sound chambers surrounded by sycophants.

These megalomaniacs have convinced themselves that as part of an elite ruling class, whatever they want they will get. In Fujimori’s case, the twit gave up his extradition-proof safe haven in Japan to seek re-election back in Peru (JBC, May 5, 2009). He is now serving life in a Peruvian jail.

In Ishihara’s case, a seat in the Diet may wind up being his final sequestration. It certainly ain’t no Tokyo governorship.

Go for it, Ishihara! Let’s see what you’ve got in the time you have left. Show us clearly, once and for all, how Japan intends to position itself for the future — so the rest of the world can start making plans.

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

Debito Arudou’s latest writing is the Hokkaido section of the Fodor’s Japan travel guide. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 6, 2012

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER TUESDAY NOVEMBER 6, 2012

Hello Readers. I would give you a sneak preview of my latest JT column, with an advisory to read it Tuesday Japan Time. But I was too busy to put out this Newsletter yesterday, so let me give you a teaser opening and then a link:

=====================================
If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on
By ARUDOU Debito
JUST BE CAUSE Column 57 for the Japan Times Community Page

On Oct. 25, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara announced his resignation from office. He now plans to stand for election to the Diet as head of a new conservative party. He suggested political alliances with other conservative reactionaries and xenophobes, including Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan) chief Takeo Hiranuma (Just Be Cause, Feb. 2, 2010). And all before a Lower House election that must be held within two months.

I say: Bring it on. Because it’s time for somebody to make clear which way Japan is heading…

Rest is at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121106da.html
=====================================
It’s already in the Top Ten Most Read Articles of the day, thanks.

Now on with the Newsletter:

Table of Contents:
///////////////////////////////////////////

TECTONIC SHIFTS

1) AP: Where Japan’s Post-Fukushima rebuild cash really went: Corruption and coverup on grand scale in a crisis that even TEPCO admits “could have been avoided”
2) Wash Post: A declining Japan loses its once-hopeful champions (including Ezra Vogel!) — as Japan is eclipsed by an ascendant China
3) Sakanaka in Japan Times: Japan as we know it is doomed, only immigrants can save it

INCREDULITY

4) Japan Times: Japan Post Office unilaterally decides old “Gaijin Cards” no longer acceptable ID, despite still valid under MOJ
5) Kyodo: NJ on welfare (unlike Japanese on welfare) now need to pay pension premiums, says Japan Pension Service
6) Shuukan Kin’youbi: Protests against NJ businesses in Tokyo turn ugly, yet J media compares Chinese protests against J businesses to Kristallnacht
7) BV: “Victimizing the Young, Featherbedding the Old?” On how Japan’s elite bureaucratic rot is adversely affecting Japan’s children
8 ) ZakSPA!: “Laughable” stories about “Halfs” in Japan, complete with racialized illustration

ROUGH DRAFTS

9) Ishihara resigns Tokyo Governorship, seeks Diet seat as new party head. I say bring it on.
10) The first version of my Oct 2012 JT JUST BE CAUSE column (rejected for publication) blogged for your comments, on “sanctioned reality”: Do you “get” it?

… and finally…

11) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 56 on the Senkakus/Takeshima Disputes: “Revisionists marching Japan back to a dangerous place” 

///////////////////////////////////////////
By ARUDOU Debito (debito@debito.org. www.debito.org. Twitter arudoudebito
Freely Forwardable

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

TECTONIC SHIFTS

1) AP: Where Japan’s Post-Fukushima rebuild cash really went: Corruption and coverup on grand scale in a crisis that even TEPCO admits “could have been avoided”

For all the talk we have had in the past of Japan’s efficient government and incorruptible bureaucracy (dating from, oh, perhaps Chalmers’ MITI AND THE JAPANESE MIRACLE — even Transparency International still ranks Japan higher than say, oh, the US, France, or Spain in its “Corruption Perceptions Index 2011″), one major factor that not only despirits a nation but also steals its wherewithal is an unaccountable administrative branch robbing the public coffers blind. In this case, the GOJ is reportedly siphoning off disaster funds that had been earmarked to save people’s lives and livelihoods and diverted to support completely unrelated projects. The news below goes beyond the fact that TEPCO and the GOJ have finally admitted their collusion to cover up their malfeasance in preventing the nuclear meltdown (article archived below — note that the investigative committee was led by a NJ). It shows, as Debito.org first mentioned back in December 2011 (and repeated in a different incarnation last July) that our first “see I told you so” moment (where even our critics would not capitulate for being wrong about corruption and coverup) stating that Japan’s control-freak governance system in Japan is irredeemably broken, was ever more right all along.

AP: About a quarter of the US$148 billion budget for reconstruction after Japan’s March 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster has been spent on unrelated projects, including subsidies for a contact lens factory and research whaling. The findings of a government audit buttress complaints over shortcomings and delays in the reconstruction effort. More than half the budget is yet to be disbursed, stalled by indecision and bureaucracy, while nearly all of the 340,000 people evacuated from the disaster zone remain uncertain whether, when and how they will ever resettle… Among the unrelated projects benefiting from the reconstruction budgets are: road building in distant Okinawa; prison vocational training in other parts of Japan; subsidies for a contact lens factory in central Japan; renovations of government offices in Tokyo; aircraft and fighter pilot training, research and production of rare earths minerals, a semiconductor research project and even funding to support whaling, ostensibly for research, according to data from the government audit released last week. A list of budget items and spending shows some 30 million yen went to promoting the Tokyo Sky Tree, a transmission tower that is the world’s tallest freestanding broadcast structure. Another 2.8 billion yen was requested by the Justice Ministry for a publicity campaign to “reassure the public” about the risks of big disasters.

AP: The utility behind Japan’s nuclear disaster acknowledged for the first time Friday that it could have avoided the crisis. Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said in a statement that it had known safety improvements were needed before last year’s tsunami triggered three meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, but it had feared the political, economic and legal consequences of implementing them. “When looking back on the accident, the problem was that preparations were not made in advance,” TEPCO’s internal reform task force, led by company President Naomi Hirose, said in the statement. “Could necessary measures have been taken with previous tsunami evaluations? It was possible to take action” by adopting more extensive safety measures, the task force said… Investigative reports compiled by the government and the parliament panels said collusion between the company and government regulators allowed lax supervision and allowed TEPCO to continue lagging behind in safety steps.

http://www.debito.org/?p=10706

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

2) Wash Post: A declining Japan loses its once-hopeful champions (including Ezra Vogel!) — as Japan is eclipsed by an ascendant China

The Washington Post’s Chico Harlan does a very good article summarizing what it was once like for us “Bubble Era” veterans, and how views of Japan were once either Japan as the perfectible society to be emulated or as the irresistible wave of the future (as in, in addition to the pop-culture economic bellwethers listed below, Michael J. Fox’s boss in BACK TO THE FUTURE II being a Japanese).

Now, as the article indicates below, it’s all collapsed, and former boosters have now become pessimists (with even Japan championer Ezra Vogel now turning his attention to China!). Here in Hawaii, the Chinese consumer is ascendant, with the likely domination of Chinese over Japanese language on store signs fairly soon. In this year’s remake of TOTAL RECALL, the exotic language being used in the background was no longer Japanese (a la BLADE RUNNER), but rather Chinese. Check out the dominant kanji in this greeting card: Mainland Chinese (with Japanese far receding). I think this trend will continue as Japan is eclipsed not only by China but even South Korea (Gangnam Style on last week’s episode of SOUTH PARK anyone? It’s Japan with more color and better pronunciation of diphthongs…) in terms of economics, politics, and visions of the future.

WASH POST: Jesper Koll, an economist who’s lived in Japan for 26 years, says it’s not easy for him to keep faith in a country that’s shrinking, aging, stuck in protracted economic gloom and losing fast ground to China as the region’s dominant power. “I am the last Japan optimist,” Koll said in a recent speech in Tokyo.

Indeed, the once-common species has been virtually wiped out. It was only two decades ago that Japan’s boosters — mainly foreign diplomats and authors, economists and entrepreneurs — touted the tiny nation as a global model for how to attain prosperity and power. But the group has turned gradually into non­believers, with several of the last hold­outs losing faith only recently, as Japan has failed to carry out meaningful reforms after the March 2011 triple disaster. The mass turnabout has helped launch an alternative — and increasingly accepted — school of thought about Japan: The country is not just in a prolonged slump but also in an inescapable decline.

http://www.debito.org/?p=10698

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3) Sakanaka in Japan Times: Japan as we know it is doomed, only immigrants can save it

Japan Times: Japan as we know it is doomed. Only a revolution can save it. What kind of revolution? Japan must become “a nation of immigrants.”

That’s a hard sell in this notoriously closed country. Salesman-in-chief — surprisingly enough — is a retired Justice Ministry bureaucrat named Hidenori Sakanaka, former head of the ministry’s Tokyo Immigration Bureau and current executive director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, a private think tank he founded in 2007.

“Japan,” he said in a recent telephone interview, “is on the brink of collapse.” […] No nation, barring war or plague, has ever shrunk at such a pace, and as for aging, there are no historical precedents of any kind. The nation needs a fountain of youth. Sakanaka claims to have found one. Japan, he said, “must welcome 10 million immigrants between now and 2050.” […] It sounds fantastic, and in fact, Sakanaka acknowledges, would require legislation now lacking — anti-discrimination laws above all.

http://www.debito.org/?p=10690

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INCREDULITY

4) Japan Times: Japan Post Office unilaterally decides old “Gaijin Cards” no longer acceptable ID, despite still valid under MOJ

MMT: An interesting bit of news that was on the JT homepage this week. It seems that although the alien registration card is considered equal to the new zairyu card until July 2015 by the government, it appears not for certain government agencies. Japan Post has a notice on their homepage stating that foreign residents can no longer use the alien registration card as of July 9th, 2012 (or in other words, the same day the zairyu card became available). How the post office can reject ID which is still valid and basically force longer-term residents into changing over their cards immediately is beyond my comprehension.

As a further bit of news regarding this story, I called the immigration help line on October 1, 2012, to see if they were aware of this development. The staff informed me that yes, the alien registration card is still valid, as stated and acts as one’s zairyu card until July 9th, 2015. When I asked if they were aware that the Japan Post officially began rejecting the alien registration card the very same day the zairyu card became available, they replied that perhaps in cases such as with banks and the post office, you may have to switch over to the new card in order to have acceptable ID. I quickly pointed out that since the government (namely, the Ministry of Justice, no less) has deemed this ID to be equal to the zairyu card for a further three years, shouldn’t it be unacceptable (unlawful?) for any any semi-government agency or private business to reject it? They agreed that my argument “made sense.”

The immigration staff then suggested that if my alien registration card is rejected by the post office or other place of business that I should give them the number for the Tokyo Immigration administration office (03-5796-7250) so that the post office can call them and get a clarification. It was at that point that I hinted that perhaps it was the job of the immigration department to inform all relevant agencies to stop making arbitrary rules regarding which government-issued ID they will choose to accept: to which I got no answer. Strange, indeed.

http://www.debito.org/?p=10632

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5) Kyodo: NJ on welfare (unlike Japanese on welfare) now need to pay pension premiums, says Japan Pension Service

Kyodo: Japan Pension Service has drawn up a guideline that renders foreign residents on welfare no longer eligible for a uniform waiver from premium payments for the public pension, effectively a turnaround from a long-held practice of treating them equally with Japanese, sources familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

Human rights activists said it is tantamount to discrimination based on nationality. In fiscal 2010, roughly 1.41 million households were on public assistance. Around 42,000 were households led by foreign residents.

In a reply dated Aug. 10 to a query from a local pension service office, JPS, a government affiliate commissioned to undertake pension services, said, “Public assistance benefits are provided to foreigners living in poverty as done so for Japanese nationals, but foreigners are not subject to the law on public assistance.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=10679

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6) Shuukan Kin’youbi: Protests against NJ businesses in Tokyo turn ugly, yet J media compares Chinese protests against J businesses to Kristallnacht

Something came up over the past month that deserves mention on Debito.org when it comes to putting all the “violent protests against Japan” into some perspective. Something that was not given much audience in the Japanese media — far-rightists targeting domestic minorities in Japan due to the recent flap over some offshore rocks.

Yes, people say “both sides are guilty of saber rattling and banging nationalist drums.” But one thing I like to remind people is: Who picked this most recent fight over the Senkakus? And who keeps perpetually stirring things up by having what I would consider a denialist view of history when it comes to being an aggressor and colonizer over the past hundred years? Sorry, but many of Japan’s prominent leaders do. And they (deliberately, in this case) serve to stir up passions overseas. Then when people overseas protest this, who then suddenly claims that the foreigners are overreacting or Japanese are being targeted and victimized? Japan’s leaders. And Japan’s media, to rally the rest of the public.

However, Japan’s victimization trope is being overplayed. Japanese media, according to the Japan Times, is turning up the invective to compare Chinese protests to Kristallnacht.

Well, consider the following domestic actions by Japanese far-rightists against not just foreign business communities overseas, but actual NJ residents of Japan who have been living in Japan for generations (who, by all reasonable standards — including fighting and dying for the Japanese Empire — should be Japanese citizens by now). Are we seeing the same comparisons to Krystallnacht? And will we see those comparisons in the media once we get glass in the gutter and bloodied faces? If the standard for violence in Japan is also “verbal” (as in kotoba no bouryoku), then we’re on our way.

Stop it, everyone, before you do something you might regret later. (Then again, perhaps not, if Japan’s revisionist attitudes towards history continue to hold sway.)

http://www.debito.org/?p=10659

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7) BV: “Victimizing the Young, Featherbedding the Old?” On how Japan’s elite bureaucratic rot is adversely affecting Japan’s children

Guest author “Bitter Valley” is back again with another thing he wants to get off his chest. I think he should, so here it is. One of my pet theories about Japan’s swing towards insularity and conservatism is that as people get older (and Japan as a society is doing just that demographically), they get more politically conservative and resistant to change — or at least change that is not in their best interests. And as “Bitter Valley” points out, it means an inordinate weighting of political power and economic resources in favor of the old at the expense of the young (especially since the very young have no vote, ever fewer numbers, and few political and civil rights to begin with). This is manifesting itself in ways that BV thinks are worth mentioning in Japan’s most cosmopolitan city. Given how centralized political power is in Japan, what happens here will set precedents for the rest of the nation.

BV: Hi Debito, this is “Bitter Valley” again. We’ve just had some terrible news that the second major children’s facility we have access to in Shibuya, the Kodomo no Shiro (Kiddies Castle) is closing down in 2015. It’s a bit of a hammer blow for us, as we have already just lost the Jidokaikan (Tokyo Children’s Center), which is going to be demolished for another old people’s home. Regardless of what might really behind the closures (more on this later) it’s going to lower the quality of life for kids and mums and dads in Shibuya (and wider afield) considerably.

Both children’s facilities are/were two of the only major educational/ fun/ accessible/ cheap (no or low cost) play centers. Both, incidentally, were/are tremendous resources for Shibuya’s large ratio of multinational kids. Parents of older children say that there are schools with most classes not only have one but several multiracial or foreign or Japanese but of NJ parentage in classes. Increasingly it’s seen as no big deal. That’s great, at least to non-knuckleheads and/or racists. But the closures suck. First of all the Tokyo Children’s Hall (Jidokaikan) was shut down last year and this spring…

http://www.debito.org/?p=10687

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8 ) ZakSPA!: “Laughable” stories about “Halfs” in Japan, complete with racialized illustration

Debito.org Reader CJ submits the following ZakSPA! page talking about Japan’s genetic internationalization in tabloid style: How “funny” it is to be a “half.” Reading through the articles (enclosed below), I’m of two minds about this. On one hand, it’s good to have the media acknowledging that there are Japanese kids of diverse roots and experiences out there, with some tone of saying how silly it all is that so many people get treated in stereotypical ways (with a “roundtable of halfs” at the end giving their own views on the situation). On the other hand, the level of discourse gets pretty low (“some foreigner talked to me in Narita Airport in English and it was so frightening I felt like crying”), and an opportunity to actually address a serious issue of how Japan has changed is wasted on parts laughing, parts crybabying, parts confirmation that treating people as “different” because they look “different” is a natural, if not inevitable, part of life in Japan. I’ll let Debito.org Readers read for themselves and decide whether this important topic is being broached properly.

http://www.debito.org/?p=10674

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ROUGH DRAFTS

9) Ishihara resigns Tokyo Governorship, seeks Diet seat as new party head. I say bring it on.

Something very important happened a few days ago when Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro made a surprise announcement that he would resign his governorship, launch a new political party, and run for a Diet seat in the next Lower House election due in two months.

I say bring it on. This xenophobic old bigot (now 80) has fallen for one of the oldest tricks in the book: self-delusion, brought on by decades of megalomania and ideological sound-chambering within a cadre of sycophants — which Alberto Fujimori (an old friend of Ishihara and his elite ruling circles) similarly fell for when the self-deluded demagogue buggered off back to Chile (forfeiting his unextradictable safe haven in Japan) to stand for reelection in Peru. Fujimori, as you know, was then extradited to Peru for trial and is now doing essentially life in prison. But I digress.

I say bring it on for two reasons. One is that even if elected (which he will be, under Japan’s Proportional Representation system — the main avenue for celebrity schmoes to pad their resume and stroke their egos), Ishihara can do less damage as a Dietmember of a fringe party (analysts already are beginning to doubt the strength of the Rightist alliance between other fringe parties) than as Governor of Tokyo, with an entire Metropolitan Police Force (the strongest and most influential in all of Japan) at his disposal to target people he doesn’t like. One of the reasons he says he resigned his Diet seat in 1995 after 25 years in office is because of his frustration with the powerlessness of the Diet in the face of the pervasive Japanese bureaucracy (which, as he correctly claims, rules the country). Now he’s going right back to that same Diet, and I think he thinks he’ll stop at nothing short of becoming PM (He won’t. He won’t live long enough. Osaka Mayor Hashimoto is the bigger threat at half the age.)

The other reason is because it’s time to put some cards on the table. The Center-Left in Japan (in the form of the DPJ) tried their liberalizations (with NJ PR local suffrage, etc.) and lost badly due to the hue and cry over how NJ, if given any power in Japan, would automatically abuse it and destroy Japan). The image in Japanese politics nowadays is of a rightward swing. Alright, let’s see just how rightward. Japan’s bureaucrats like things just the way they are (their sole purpose is to keep the status quo as is, even if that means Japan irradiates itself and strangles itself to death demographically). It would take a miracle (something I think not even Ishihara is capable of) to dismantle that system. If Ishihara wins, Japan’s rightward swing is conclusive, and the world will have to stop ignoring a resurgent militarist xenophobic Japan. If Ishihara loses, that will take a lot of wind out of Rightist sails and push the country back towards centrism.

In this poker game, I believe Ishihara will lose. And NJ in Japan have already won a victory by having that bigot abdicate his throne/bully pulpit as leader of one of the world’s largest cities.

http://www.debito.org/?p=10694

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10) The first version of my Oct 2012 JT JUST BE CAUSE column (rejected for publication) blogged for your comments, on “sanctioned reality”: Do you “get” it?

Before I wrote my monthly Japan Times column on the Senkakus/Takeshima Disputes published on Oct 2, I wrote a completely different column that approached the issue from the back door: How Japan’s enormous focus on “genuine” and “legitimate” leads to diversity getting subsumed. And when it leads to diversity in opinion being subsumed, you get a society that is particularly susceptible to top-down control of not only the dominant social discourse, but also the very perception of reality within a society. And that leads us to crazy ideas such as a few far offshore rocks being worth all this fuss.

Heavy stuff. Unfortunately, the people who approve columns at The Japan Times didn’t “get” it, even after two major rewrites and sixteen drafts. (Actually, in all fairness it wasn’t only them — two other friends of mine didn’t “get” it either. But two of my friends in academia did. And we suspect that it was just too “Ivory Tower” for a journalistic audience.) So eight hours before deadline, I rewrote the damn thing entirely, and what you saw published is the result.

But The Japan Times suggested that I blog it and see what others think. So here it is: The column on the Senkakus/Takeshima Disputes that I wanted to run. I think there are plenty of ideas in there that are still worth salvaging. But let me ask you, Debito.org Readers: Do you “get” it?

http://www.debito.org/?p=10656

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… and finally…

11) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 56 on the Senkakus/Takeshima Disputes: “Revisionists marching Japan back to a dangerous place”

The Japan Times
Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012
JUST BE CAUSE
Revisionists marching Japan back to a dangerous place
By ARUDOU DEBITO
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121002ad.html
Version with comments and links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=10645

ENDS

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All for this month! Thanks for reading! ARUDOU Debito
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER TUESDAY NOVEMBER 6, 2012 ENDS

AP: Where Japan’s Post-Fukushima rebuild cash really went: Corruption and coverup on grand scale in a crisis that even TEPCO admits “could have been avoided”

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Hi Blog. This story has hit a lot of newspapers worldwide.  I’ll just blog the first article I saw, and other Debito.org Readers who find articles that cover points not mentioned here can add them to the Comments Section.

For all the talk we have had in the past of Japan’s efficient government and incorruptible bureaucracy (dating from, oh, perhaps Chalmers’ MITI AND THE JAPANESE MIRACLE — even Transparency International still ranks Japan higher than say, oh, the US, France, or Spain in its “Corruption Perceptions Index 2011”), one major factor that not only despirits a nation but also steals its wherewithal is an unaccountable administrative branch robbing the public coffers blind.  In this case, the GOJ is reportedly siphoning off disaster funds that had been earmarked to save people’s lives and livelihoods and diverted to support completely unrelated projects.

The news below goes beyond the fact that TEPCO and the GOJ have finally admitted their collusion to cover up their malfeasance in preventing the nuclear meltdown (article archived below — note that the investigative committee was led by a NJ).  It shows, as Debito.org first mentioned back in December 2011 (and repeated in a different incarnation last July) that our first “see I told you so” moment (where even our critics would not capitulate for being wrong about corruption and coverup) stating that Japan’s control-freak governance system in Japan is irredeemably broken, was ever more right all along.

And more Japanese elites, as I am hearing through as-yet inconclusively-researched channels, are moving overseas to set up transplant Japanese communities away from this strangler-fig bureaucracy.  More on that later if we get something conclusive.  Arudou Debito

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Where Japan’s rebuild cash really went
Associated Press/The New Zealand Herald, Wednesday Oct 31, 2012
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10844050

About a quarter of the US$148 billion budget for reconstruction after Japan’s March 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster has been spent on unrelated projects, including subsidies for a contact lens factory and research whaling.

The findings of a government audit buttress complaints over shortcomings and delays in the reconstruction effort. More than half the budget is yet to be disbursed, stalled by indecision and bureaucracy, while nearly all of the 340,000 people evacuated from the disaster zone remain uncertain whether, when and how they will ever resettle.

Many of the non-reconstruction-related projects loaded into the 11.7 trillion yen budget were included on the pretext they might contribute to Japan’s economic revival, a strategy that the government now acknowledges was a mistake.

“It is true that the government has not done enough and has not done it adequately. We must listen to those who say the reconstruction should be the first priority,” Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said in a speech to parliament on Monday.

He vowed that unrelated projects will be “strictly wrung out” of the budget.

But ensuring that funds go to their intended purpose might require an explicit change in the reconstruction spending law, which authorizes spending on such ambiguous purposes as creating eco-towns and supporting “employment measures.”

Among the unrelated projects benefiting from the reconstruction budgets are: road building in distant Okinawa; prison vocational training in other parts of Japan; subsidies for a contact lens factory in central Japan; renovations of government offices in Tokyo; aircraft and fighter pilot training, research and production of rare earths minerals, a semiconductor research project and even funding to support whaling, ostensibly for research, according to data from the government audit released last week.

A list of budget items and spending shows some 30 million yen went to promoting the Tokyo Sky Tree, a transmission tower that is the world’s tallest freestanding broadcast structure. Another 2.8 billion yen was requested by the Justice Ministry for a publicity campaign to “reassure the public” about the risks of big disasters.

Masahiro Matsumura, a politics professor at St. Andrews University in Osaka, Japan, said justifying such misuse by suggesting the benefits would “trickle down” to the disaster zone is typical of the political dysfunction that has hindered Japan’s efforts to break out of two decades of debilitating economic slump.

“This is a manifestation of government indifference to rehabilitation. They are very good at making excuses,” Matsumura told The Associated Press.

Near the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, which suffered the additional blow from the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, recovery work has barely begun.

More than 325,000 of the 340,000 people evacuated from the disaster zone or forced to flee the areas around the nuclear plant after the March 11, 2011, disaster remain homeless or away from their homes, according to the most recent figures available.

In Rikuzentakata, a fishing enclave where 1,800 people were killed or went missing as the tsunami scoured the harbor, rebuilding has yet to begin in earnest, says Takashi Kubota, who left a government job in Tokyo in May 2011 to become the town’s deputy mayor.

The tsunami destroyed 3,800 of Rikuzentakata’s 9,000 homes. The first priority, he says, has been finding land for rebuilding homes on higher ground. For now, most evacuees are housed, generally unhappily, in temporary shelters in school playgrounds and sports fields.

“I can sum it up in two words speed and flexibility that are lacking,” Kubota said. Showing a photo of the now non-existent downtown area, he said, “In 19 months, there have basically been no major changes. There is not one single new building yet.”

The government has pledged to spend 23 trillion yen over this decade on reconstruction and disaster prevention, 19 trillion yen of it within five years.

But more than half the reconstruction budget remains unspent, according to the government’s audit report.

The dithering is preventing the government, whose debt is already twice the size of the country’s GDP, from getting the most bang for every buck.

“You’ve got economic malaise and political as well. That’s just a recipe for disaster,” said Matthew Circosta, an economist with Moody’s Analytics in Sydney.

Part of the problem is the central government’s strategy of managing the reconstruction from Tokyo instead of delegating it to provincial governments. At the same time, the local governments lack the staff and expertise for such major rebuilding.

The government “thinks it has to be in the driver’s seat,” Jun Iio, a government adviser and professor at Tokyo University told a conference in Sendai. “Unfortunately the reconstruction process is long and only if the local residents can agree on a plan will they move ahead on reconstruction.”

“It is in this stage that creativity is needed for rebuilding,” he said.

Even Sendai, a regional capital of over 1 million people much better equipped than most coastal communities to deal with the disaster, still has mountains of rubble. Much of it is piled amid the bare foundations, barren fields and broken buildings of its oceanside suburb of Arahama.

Sendai quickly restored disrupted power, gas and water supplies and its tsunami-swamped airport. The area’s crumbled expressways and heavily damaged railway lines were repaired within weeks.

But farther north and south, ravaged coastal towns remain largely unoccupied.

More than 240 ports remain unbuilt; in many cases their harbors are treacherous with tsunami debris.

Like many working on the disaster, Yoshiaki Kawata of Kansai University worries that the slow progress on reconstruction will leave the region, traditionally one of Japan’s poorest, without a viable economy.

“There is almost no one on the streets,” he said in the tiny fishing hamlet of Ryoishi, where the sea rose 17 metres. “Building a new town will take many years.”

Even communities remain divided over how to rebuild. Moving residential areas to higher ground involves cumbersome bureaucratic procedures and complicated ownership issues. Each day of delay, meanwhile, raises the likelihood that residents will leave and that local businesses will fail to recover, says Itsunori Onodera, a lawmaker from the port town of Kesennuma, which lost more than 1,400 people in the disaster.

“Speed,” he says, is the thing most needed to get the region back on its feet. -AP

ENDS

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TEPCO ADMITS FUKUSHIMA CRISIS COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED
By Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press
NATIONAL OCT. 13, 2012, courtesy of JDG
http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/tepco-admits-fukushima-crisis-could-have-been-avoided

TOKYO — The utility behind Japan’s nuclear disaster acknowledged for the first time Friday that it could have avoided the crisis.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said in a statement that it had known safety improvements were needed before last year’s tsunami triggered three meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, but it had feared the political, economic and legal consequences of implementing them.

“When looking back on the accident, the problem was that preparations were not made in advance,” TEPCO’s internal reform task force, led by company President Naomi Hirose, said in the statement. “Could necessary measures have been taken with previous tsunami evaluations? It was possible to take action” by adopting more extensive safety measures, the task force said.

The task force said TEPCO had feared efforts to better protect nuclear facilities from severe accidents such as tsunamis would trigger anti-nuclear sentiment, interfere with operations or increase litigation risks. TEPCO could have mitigated the impact of the accident if it had diversified power and cooling systems by paying closer attention to international standards and recommendations, the statement said. TEPCO also should have trained employees with practical crisis management skills rather than conduct obligatory drills as a formality, it said.

The admissions mark a major reversal for the utility, which had defended its preparedness and crisis management since the March 2011 tsunami. The disaster knocked out power to the Fukushima plant, leading to the meltdowns, which forced massive evacuations and will take decades to clean up.

The statement was released after TEPCO held its first internal reform committee meeting, led by former U.S. nuclear regulatory chief Dale Klein. His five-member committee oversees the task force’s reform plans.

“It’s very important for TEPCO to recognize the needs to reform and the committee is very anxious to facilitate the reform necessary for TEPCO to become a world-class company,” Klein told a news conference. “The committee’s goal is to ensure that TEPCO develops practices and procedures so an accident like this will never happen again.”

The reform plans aim to use the lessons learned at TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in northern Japan. The cash-strapped utility wants to restart that plant, but TEPCO officials denied the reform plans are aimed at improving public image to gain support for the plant’s resumption.

“The reforms are intended to improve our safety culture, and we have no intention to link it to a possibility of resuming the (Kashiwazaki-Kariwa) plant,” said Takafumi Anegawa, the TEPCO official in charge of nuclear asset management. “We don’t have any preconditions for our reforms.”

The Fukushima Daiichi plant has been substantially stabilized but is still running on makeshift equipment as workers continue their work to decommission the four damaged reactors, which could take several decades.

Additional safety measures have been installed at nuclear power plants nationwide since the accident under the government’s instructions, including enhancing seawalls, adding backup power and cooling water sources, and developing better crisis management training. But plant operators will be required to take further steps as a new nuclear regulatory authority launched in September steps up safety requirements.

Investigative reports compiled by the government and the parliament panels said collusion between the company and government regulators allowed lax supervision and allowed TEPCO to continue lagging behind in safety steps.

Despite records indicating a major tsunami had once hit off Japan’s northern coast, TEPCO took the most optimistic view of the risk and insisted that its 5.7-meter-high seawall was good enough. The tsunami that struck Fukushima Dai-ichi was more than twice that height.

The company had said in its own accident probe report in June that the tsunami could not be anticipated and that the company did the best it could to bring the critically damaged plant under control, although there were shortfalls that they had to review. TEPCO bitterly criticized what it said was excessive interference from the government and the prime minister’s office.

TEPCO’s Anegawa said the task force plans to compile by the end of the year recommendations “that would have saved us from the accident if we turn the clock back.”
ENDS