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  • Archive for December, 2012

    Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 59, “Top Ten Human Rights Events for 2012″, out January 1, 2013

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 31st December 2012

    My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column will be coming out in a little over 24 hours. The topic: My annual round-up of the Top Ten Human Rights Issues that affected NJ residents in Japan in 2012. I do this every year, and it’s fun (although rather arduous, as I essentially have to write ten tiny stand-alone essays of under 200 words each, then put them in a hierarchy). I won’t give away what made the list this year (I also have five other issues that “bubbled under”). Enjoy!

    UPDATE: Here it is: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20130101ad.html

    Posted in Articles & Publications | 1 Comment »

    Japan now a place to avoid for international labor migration? NHK: Even Burmese refugees refusing GOJ invitations, electing to stay in Thai refugee camp!

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 29th December 2012

    In this time of unprecedented migration of labor across borders (click to see some international labor migration stats from the ILO and the OECD), I think increasingly one can make a strong case that Japan is being seen as a place to avoid. As I will be mentioning in my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column (out January 1, 2013), as part of my annual countdown of the Top Ten most influential human rights issues in 2012 affecting NJ in Japan, Japan’s “revolving-door” visa regimes (which suck the most productive work years out of NJ while giving them fewer (or no) labor law protections, and no stake in Japanese society — see here and here), people who are even guaranteed a slot in Japan’s most difficult visa status — refugees (see also here) — are turning the GOJ down! They’d rather stay in a Thai refugee camp than emigrate to Japan. And for reasons that are based upon word-of-mouth.

    That’s what I mean — word is getting around, and no amount of faffing about with meetings on “let’s figure out how We Japanese should ‘co-exist’ with foreigners” at the Cabinet level is going to quickly undo that reputation.

    Immediately below is the article I’m referring to. Below that I offer a tangent, as to why Burmese in particular get such a sweetheart deal of guaranteed GOJ refugee slots. According to media, “From 1982 to 2004, Japan accepted only 313 refugees, less than 10 per cent of those who applied. Even after its rules were slightly liberalized in 2004, it allowed only 46 refugees in the following year. Last year it accepted only 34 of the 954 applicants. Those numbers are tiny in comparison with Canada, which accepted more than 42,000 refugees last year, despite having a much smaller population than Japan. But they are also tiny in comparison to European countries such as France and Italy. On a per capita basis, Japan’s rate of accepting refugees is 139th in the world, according to the United Nations.” This means that Burmese make up between a third to a half of all refugees accepted! Why? As a holiday tangent, consider the elite-level intrigue of a wartime connection between the Japanese Imperial Army and SLORC…

    Posted in Gaiatsu, History, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Tangents, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 61 Comments »

    Good news: Rightist sentenced to a year in jail for harassing company using Korean actress in their advertising

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 27th December 2012

    A bit of good news. A member of a nasty Rightist group was sentenced to a year in jail for harassing a Japanese company for using a Korean actress in its advertising. That’s hopeful, as we are seeing examples of xenophobia in Japan going beyond internet and political-arena bile (as well as signposted exclusionism) and into the street for race-bating and interpersonal confrontation. Without some kind of brake like this court decision, it’s only a matter of time before somebody goes too far and we have race riots in Japan.

    I would have liked to have seen a little more detail in the article below about the timeline of the harassment. I can speak from personal experience that it can take a year or more between an event and a conclusive court decision in Japan, so how responsive is Japan’s judiciary being here? Also, note that this case is not punishing somebody for hate speech against an ethnic group or a person in Japan — it’s protecting a Japanese company against threatening behavior, a bit different. I will be more reassured when we have a (similarly criminal, not civil) case involving arrest, prosecution, and jail time for an individual threatening an individual on the grounds of his/her ethnicity/national origin. But I don’t think that will happen under the current legal regime, as “the government does not think that Japan is currently in a situation where dissemination of racial discriminatory ideas or incitement of racial discrimination are conducted to the extent that the government must consider taking legislative measures for punishment against dissemination of racial discriminatory idea, etc. at the risk of unjustly atrophying lawful speech…” That assessment was made by the MOFA to the UN more than a decade ago. Given what I see are xenophobic tidings in Japan these days, I think it’s time for an update.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Lawsuits, Media | 14 Comments »

    Wishing everyone a happy holiday season and end-year 2012

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 26th December 2012

    Just a brief note (amongst the time zones — it’s currently first thing in the morning of Christmas here) to wish all Readers, fans, and yes, even opponents, of Debito.org the happiest Christmas/Boxing Day/End-Year Week imaginable with good tidings from all.

    Although a quarter-century in Japan (where Xmas Eve is perhaps more celebrated than Xmas Day, and both are work days regardless) has gotten me out of the habit of Xmas cards, presents, and the regular consumerist trappings of the day, I for one am looking forward to some turkey roll (sans gravy or potatoes — diet!) cooked in the dormitory oven and some instant ginger snaps (okay, diet phooey!) today. Let us know if you like what today holds (or yesterday held) for you in the Comments Section.

    With best wishes to all, Arudou Debito in Honolulu, where he is not missing snow one whit.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, debito.org blog and website biz, Tangents | 4 Comments »

    Al Jazeera: “The mighty downfall of Japan’s tech giants” due to the lack of diversity in thought and innovation

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 23rd December 2012

    A bit of a diversion today, as we get into business issues. The reason why this article is germane to Debito.org is the claim that the lack of diversity within Japanese company ranks, as well as within corporate outlooks, is partially to blame for two of Japan’s mighty tech giants being downgraded to “junk” status in terms of credit rating. While I’m not an expert on tech business or marketing, I find the quote below by Gerard Fasol, that “even today, many of these Japanese companies have a complete focus on Japan. All the board members are Japanese men in their 60s and 70s. All the core members are Japanese and anybody who is not Japanese is automatically a second-class citizen in these companies,” rings true. Especially in light of what happened to former Olympus CEO Michael “incompatible with traditional Japanese practices” Woodford. Most of “traditional Japan” (which places great cultural value on hierarchy) reflexively will not surrender power to “a foreigner” under any circumstances. And as this article seeks to point out, that habit stifles innovation as Japanese society ages.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 27 Comments »

    “Japanese Only” hospital Keira Orthopaedic Surgery in Shintoku, Tokachi, Hokkaido. Alleged language barrier supersedes Hippocratic Oath for clinic, despite links to METI medical tourism

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 20th December 2012

    Submitter Hillary: Today, I was experiencing a problem with my foot; I thought I broke a toe over the weekend. I spoke with a Japanese Teacher of English with whom I work with and she offered to call a clinic in neighbouring Shintoku and accompany me to the clinic after school for treatment. She made the telephone call in Japanese and was advised of their location and hours of business and took down their information. Once we arrived there, she spoke with reception and a man (presumably a doctor) motioned to me, making the “batsu” gesture and said (in Japanese) that the clinic’s system doesn’t allow for the treatment of foreigners because of our inability to understand Japanese. I looked at my colleague for confirmation on what I heard and she looked completely dumbstruck…

    COMMENT: I called Keira Seikei Geika Iin first thing in the morning JST on December 18, 2012, and talked to a man who did not give his name. He apologetically confirmed that his institution does not take foreigners. The reason given was a language barrier, and that it might cause “inconvenience” (meiwaku). When asked if this did not constitute discrimination, the answer given was a mere repeat of the meiwaku excuse and apology. When asked about having an interpreter along to resolve any alleged language barrier, the answer became a mantra. I thanked him for his time and that was the end of the conversation.

    As part of a long list of “Japanese Only” establishments, which started with bars and bathhouses and has since expanded to restaurants, stores, barber shops, internet cafes, hotels, apartments, and even schools denying NJ service, has now taken the next step — denying NJ medical treatment. If even Japanese hospitals defy the Hippocratic Oath to treat their fellow human beings, what’s next? I have said for at least a decade that unchecked discrimination leads to copycatting and expansion to other business sectors. Now it’s hospitals. What’s next? Supermarkets? And it’s not even the first time I’ve heard of this happening — click here to see the case of a NJ woman in child labor in 2006 being rejected by 5 hospitals seven times.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Human Rights, SITYS, 日本語 | 41 Comments »

    Japan’s lurch to the right has happened, as predicted. DPJ routed, LDP and Ishihara ascendant in Dec 2012 LH Election

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 17th December 2012

    It’s been said that people get the democracy that they deserve. Although unduly harsh, that rings true today, as the results of 2012′s election have absolutely routed the DPJ and placed the old-school LDP/Koumeitou alliance and the even older-school Ishihara Party, pardon, Japan Restoration Party (JRP) with a greater than 3/4 majority (LDP/KMT at 324, JRP 54) as a total in the 480-seat Lower House. (Source: Yomiuri 12/17/12) This is well over the 320 votes necessary to override the Upper House’s vetoes, and essentially makes Japan’s bicameral legislature unicameral. This new parliamentary composition could very well squeeze out a revision to the Self-Defense Forces (calling it what it really is: a standing military that should be unconstitutional) as well as force a “revision of the pacifist American-made Japanese Constitution” out of this. My synopsis of this election, and future prospects for the direction Japan is now heading, follow below.

    In brief: Keep an eye on what happens from now, folks, because I think that once the sake cups have been drained and hangovers recovered from, these people are going to get to work with a vengeance. Because for this generation of old-schoolers (such as Ishihara), there’s not much time left for the Wartime Generation to undo all the Postwar liberalizations of Japan that have helped make Japan rich without overt remilitarization and aggression. For these fans of a martial Japan, who only value, respect, and covet a world in terms of power and hierarchy, revenge will be sweet.

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, SITYS | 89 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 58, Dec. 11, 2012: “Do Japan a favor: Don’t stop being a critic”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 12th December 2012

    JBC Intro: Remember grade school, when the most demanding question put to you was something as simple as “What color do you like?” Choose any color, for there is no wrong answer.

    This is the power of “like,” where nobody can dispute your preference. You don’t have to give a reason why you like something. You just do.

    In adult society, however, things are more complicated. When talking about, say, governments, societies or complicated social situations, a simple answer of “I like it” without a reason won’t do.

    Yet simply “liking” Japan is practically compulsory, especially in these troubled times. With Japan’s swing towards the political right these days (to be confirmed with this month’s Lower House election), there is ever more pressure to fall in line and praise Japan.

    “Liking” Japan is now a national campaign, with the 2007 changes to the Basic Education Law (crafted by our probable next prime minister, Shinzo Abe) enforcing “love of country” through Japan’s school curriculum. We must now teach a sanitized version of Japanese history, or young Japanese might just find a reason not to “like” our country…

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Exclusionism, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 44 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 10, 2012

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 12th December 2012

    Table of Contents:
    GOOD NEWS
    1) Updated 2nd Edition of HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, & IMMIGRANTS to Japan now on sale

    MORE BAD SOCIAL SCIENCE
    2) PTA-recommended “Chagurin” mag puts propaganda article “Children within the Poverty Country of America” in Japan’s 6th-Grader classrooms
    3) NYT on Donald Keene “becoming one of them”, in an underresearched article that eulogizes the man before time
    4) SITYS: IC Chips in new NJ Gaijin Cards are remotely scannable, as witnessed in USG’s Faraday Envelopes to protect cardholders’ privacy
    5) Irony: GOJ pushes citizen ID law despite outcry over J privacy rights. Sadly, never similar concerns for NJ privacy, natch.
    6) BBC: Japan’s pseudoscience linking personality traits to blood types. I say it dumbs society down.

    DEBATES WITHOUT END
    7) Kyodo: UN HRC prods Japan on sex slaves, gallows. But the elephant in the room still remains no law against racial discrimination in Japan
    8 ) Interesting debate on martial arts as newly required course in JHS under Japan’s Basic Education Law reforms
    9) 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
    … and finally…
    10) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 57, November 6, 2012: “If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on”

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Irony: GOJ pushes citizen ID law despite outcry over J privacy rights. Sadly, never similar concerns for NJ privacy, natch.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 7th December 2012

    As a follow-up to the Debito.org post a few weeks ago on putting trackable chips on all non-citizens, we have the same kind of push happening for Japan’s citizens (as per this old article that got buried in my draft blog posts, sorry) for very different express reasons (except for the oft-claimed “convenience” of those being identified, with the unescapable whiff of policing). That said, note how whenever there is an issue involving the infringement of civil/human rights for “citizens”, there is also an ameliorating push to protect those rights with legislation (see second article below). For “foreigners”, however, all civil, political, and human rights are essentially left to the mandate of the policing Ministry of Justice, which frequently makes a hash of things. But all this public concern over, say, privacy rights (whereas foreigners in Japan have had no guaranteed right to privacy in the Postwar Era, since the creation of the Foreign Registry Law)… Again, it’s one differentiation within Japan’s discourse that alienates Newcomers and Oldcomers, and sets the stage for making disenfranchised exceptions for people who don’t appear to be “Japanese”. Have a think about this dichotomy, and how the GOJ a) normalizes discrimination, while b) ironically tries to foist the same style of rights abrogations on the general public that have been long-tested upon the “gaijin guinea pigs”.

    Japan Press: The Noda Cabinet approved bills at its meeting on February 14 that will assign an identification number to every citizen and every company, without regard to concerns over privacy abuse or to apprehensions about the possibility of having to pay more in taxes in order to receive better welfare services. The identification system will collate personal information currently administrated under different programs such as for pension, healthcare, and taxation. The government states that it wants to implement a national ID system in January 2015.

    There is now growing concern that such a national identity system could lead to invasion of privacy issues and may also be used to restrict government social security payments. The government claims that a national ID system will provide easier access to social welfare programs for low-income families. If that is the aim, it can use other means to provide benefits. What is the government’s true motive?

    Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., 日本語 | 11 Comments »

    2nd Edition of HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, & IMMIGRANTS to Japan on sale Dec 2012, updated

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 3rd December 2012

    I’m very happy to announce that at long last (it takes a number of months to get things through the publishing pipeline), the Second Edition of HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS AND IMMIGRANTS TO JAPAN goes on sale in December 2012.

    This long-selling bilingual guide to life in Japan, co-authored with legal scrivener Akira Higuchi, has assisted thousands of readers and engendered rave reviews. Its goal has been to assist people to live more stable, secure lives in Japan, and walks the reader through the process of securing a better visa, getting a better job (even start one’s own business), troubleshooting through difficult situations both bureaucratically and interpersonally, establishing one’s finances and arrangements for the next of kin, even giving something back to Japanese society. It is a one-stop guide from arrival in Japan through departure from this mortal coil, and now it has been updated to reflect the changes in the Immigration and registry laws that took place in July 2012. Get ready to get yourself a new copy!

    (Oh, and my Japan Times JBC column has been postponed a week due to a major scoop this week that will fill the Community Page…)

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Articles & Publications, Good News, Handbook for Newcomers, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues, Practical advice, 日本語 | 4 Comments »