BBC, Yomiuri etc.: LDP now pushing revisionistic, jingoistic and militaristic agenda from above and below, with “Return of Sovereignty Day”, booths at Niconico Douga geek festival

mytest

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Hi Blog.  You have to hand it to zealots in political power for their singlemindedness and clarity of message.  The extreme-right leaders of the LDP are pursuing their agenda with messianistic fervor from both above and below, opening booths and putting in Prime Ministerial appearances at online geek festivals, and even enlisting the Emperor to push an overtly politicized agenda of historical revisionism.  Consider these news items:

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Japan marks ‘return of sovereignty’ day
BBC News, 28 April 2013, Courtesy of JK
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22330635

emperorjapansovereigntyday
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko gave added weight to the event

Japan has for the first time marked the anniversary of the end of the allied occupation, which followed its defeat in World War II.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the “restoration of sovereignty day” would give Japan hope for the future and help it become “strong and resolute”.

The event is seen as part of Mr Abe’s nationalist campaign.

He is also pushing for a revision of Japan’s pacifist constitution to ease tight restrictions on the armed forces.

It was during last year’s election campaign that Mr Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) proposed the event to mark the day in 1952 when the San Francisco Peace Treaty took effect, formally ending WWII and the allied occupation.

“I want to make this a day when we can renew our sense of hope and determination for the future,” the 58-year-old said in front of officials gathered in Tokyo.

“We have a responsibility to make Japan a strong and resolute country that others across the world can rely on,” he said.

Protests
It was the latest in a series of events and remarks that have angered Japan’s Asian neighbours.

Mr Abe infuriated China and South Korea when he suggested he may no longer stand by the wording of an apology issued in 1995 for Japan’s war-time aggression, saying the definition of “aggression” was hard to establish.

China also strongly objected to the visits by several cabinet members and 170 MPs this month to the Yasukuni war shrine, which is seen as a symbol of Japan’s imperialistic aggression.

Sunday’s ceremony was also controversial with some Japanese. Thousands of people on the southern island of Okinawa took to the streets to denounce the event as a betrayal.

Okinawa was invaded by US marines in 1945 and was not returned to Japan until 1972.

Nearly three-quarters of US troops stationed in Japan under a bilateral treaty are based in Okinawa.

ENDS

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Right-wing Yomiuri’s less critical and more maudlin take on the event:

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Japan in Depth / Rethinking Japan’s sovereignty
The Yomiuri Shimbun April 30, 2013 Courtesy of JK
By Yuichi Suzuki and Tetsuya Ennyu / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000176268

Same photo as above’s caption:  Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, sends off the Emperor and Empress after a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the restoration of the nation’s sovereignty held Sunday at Kensei Kinenkan hall in Tokyo.

In hosting a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the restoration of the nation’s sovereignty after its defeat in World War II, the government apparently aimed at encouraging the people to deepen their perceptions of national sovereignty.

Also behind the government’s decision to sponsor the ceremony is the perceived threat to the nation’s sovereignty, as well as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pursuit of constitutional revision, observers said.

The ceremony was held Sunday in Tokyo to mark the 61st anniversary of the effectuation of the San Francisco Peace Treaty on April 28, 1952, which ended the postwar Occupation of Japan by Allied forces.

After speeches by Abe, the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president of the House of Councillors, the Suginami Junior Chorus performed, easing the atmosphere with clear singing voices.

The chorus sang such popular songs as “Te no hira o taiyo ni” (Palms in the sun) and “Tsubasa o kudasai” (Please give me wings), as well as “Asu to iu hi ga” (The day called tomorrow), a song in support of people affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

These songs, which the emcee described as being full of hope for the future, were performed because the government deliberately staged the event to foster a future-oriented atmosphere, taking into account criticism it had received that holding such a ceremony is indicative of a reactionary and rightist inclination.

It was Takeshi Noda, chairman of the LDP Research Commission on the Tax System, who called on Abe and others to organize such a ceremony.

Noda began suggesting the idea about a decade ago. He believes it is necessary to give the people an opportunity to ponder why the nation lost its sovereignty by considering as a set the April 28 anniversary of the restoration of independence and the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, the day the nation announced its acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration. He calls the Aug. 15 anniversary “the day of humiliation for losing [the nation’s] sovereignty.”

Efforts made by Noda and his followers bore fruit when the LDP, then an opposition party, held a people’s forum to mark the sovereignty restoration anniversary on April 28 last year at its party headquarters.

Abe, who was not the party leader at the time, delivered a video message, saying: “[The nation’s] failure to thoroughly review the Occupation period right after sovereignty was restored has left serious problems. The next [task for us] is [to revise] the Constitution.”

Event reflects Abe’s intent

Holding the government-sponsored ceremony was mentioned in the so-called J-File, in which the LDP explained in detail its manifesto for the House of Representatives election last year and its plan to hold ceremonies on National Founding Day on Feb. 11, and Takeshima Day on Feb. 22.

Of the three, however, only the sovereignty ceremony has been realized so far.

The prevailing view is that Abe’s strong intention to amend the Constitution had much to do with the event.

During recent interviews and on other occasions, Abe has repeatedly emphasized that “When the Constitution was enacted, Japan had yet to become independent…The Constitution was, as one might put it, created by the occupation forces. We haven’t made any constitution on our own.”

Abe’s strong desire to establish the nation’s own constitution was seen to have coincided with the holding of the ceremony.

During the ceremony, lower house Speaker Bunmei Ibuki said: “What does the restoration of the nation’s sovereignty mean? The most important thing is that the people have the right to decide the law and the systems within their own territory.”

Yet the nation’s territory and sovereign power have been threatened daily.

China’s maritime surveillance ships have repeatedly intruded into Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. Meanwhile, the Takeshima islands have been illegally occupied by South Korea, and Russia has been intensifying its effective control over the northern territories off Hokkaido.

The current situation, in which the nation’s sovereignty is in unprecedented danger, also appears to have fueled Abe’s desire to hold the latest ceremony.

As for the future of the recent ceremony, Abe has not made his intention clear.

“This is not the kind of the event that is to be held every year,” he said.

The attendance of the Emperor and the Empress at the ceremony was included in the decision the Cabinet made March 12 to hold the ceremony. It seems the Imperial couple attended as part of their official duties at the request of the Cabinet, with whom final responsibility for the ceremony lies.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, the Cabinet briefed the agency on the purpose of the ceremony. On the basis of the Cabinet’s explanation, the agency requested the attendance of the Imperial couple at the ceremony.

Festive mood toned down

“Especially noteworthy is the fact that Okinawa Prefecture, which experienced heavy casualties in cruel infantry battles, remained outside of Japan’s control for the longest period,” Abe said in his speech, referring to the fact that Okinawa Prefecture remained under U.S. administration 20 years after Japan regained its sovereignty.

Abe called for the people to deeply respect the hardships the Okinawan people endured during and after the war.

Okinawa Prefecture was separated from Japan when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect on April 28, 1952. As U.S. forces continued to expropriate land and construct bases in Okinawa Prefecture long after that time, some Okinawans regard April 28 as a “day of humiliation.”

However, it cannot be certain that the prime minister and those around him were fully aware of the backlash and mixed feelings of Okinawans regarding the ceremony.

Abe expressed his intent to hold the ceremony at the House of Representatives’ Budget Committee on March 7, but made no mention of Okinawa at the time. A government official said Abe’s “snub” incited mistrust and anger among residents of Okinawa Prefecture.

However, in his responses to questions in the Diet and other occasions, Abe said, “If Japan had not restored its independence, negotiations [for the reversion of Okinawa to Japan] would have been impossible.”

The ceremony was shortened to 40 minutes from the initially planed 60 minutes, as festive programs were cut shortly before the ceremony.

“Decorations for the ceremony were toned down to the absolute minimum,” said a government official.

After the ceremony, Okinawa Vice Gov. Kurayoshi Takara, who was in attendance, told the press: “[Abe] paid consideration to the problems of Okinawa Prefecture. I accepted his speech.” However, he added, “I can empathize with those who assembled in Ginowan in protest of the ceremony.”
ENDS

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Then we get to an even bigger surprise than this:  The PM finding the time to put in an appearance at a local geek festival, sponsored by Internet snakepit of bullies and right-winger refuge 2-Channel’s corporate body, Niconico Douga a few days ago!

 

avwatchniconicodouga2043013

 

All screen captures from http://av.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/news/20130430_597889.html.  Article courtesy of JJS, who comments:

Wanted to point your attention to this as it seems like one of those things that will be passed up, glossed over, or completely go unseen by most people.  I guess NicoNico video held some type of “Big Conference” called 「ニコニコ超会議2」. It appears at first to be some gathering for tech-heads and geek culture of all kinds. But scroll down a bit to the section 自衛隊や在日米軍、各政党も参加 and you’ll see that Abe came to participate…essentially campaigning at the event. Nico Nico played a big role in one of the debates he proposed be put online, live. But to outright be campaigning at this event seems out of the norm and certainly a bending of the rules. Even more disturbing is the show of military hardware with tie-ins to cute “moe” characters, etc. There is something rotten in Nagatacho and it all seems to be going “according to plan.”

Thanks.  Here’s the screen capture outlining the details of the event.

avwatchniconicodouga043013

 

It even talks about the “movement on Japan’s Internet”, which manga/geek fan and rejuvenated political zombie Aso Taro (currently in the Abe Cabinet as the Deputy PM) no doubt appreciates.  Given how there is even a word nowadays coined to describe the bullying tactics of the Internet Rightists (Netto Uyoku, or Neto-uyo), a sympathetic hearing was no doubt granted by this swarm of birds of a feather).

And in case you were wondering if these geeks were just hikikomori types more interested in using up their room’s inventory of kleenex than thinking militaristic thoughts, consider this screen capture from the event:

avwatchniconicodouga3033013

This ain’t something harmless like the KISS Army, folks.  It’s the “Kiss our collective asses, world!” army being summoned through the LDP’s messages melding nationalism, militarism, and naked political ambition.  Something wicked is not only this way coming, it is already here.  If the LDP gets its way and converts this tone of agenda into real public policy, Japan is heading for remilitarization all over again.  Arudou Debito

NYT: Violating IOC rules, Tokyo Gov Inose bad-mouths other 2020 Olympic bidders, particularly Istanbul for being “Islamic”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  We’ve talked about Tokyo’s Olympic bids for 2016 and 2020 before on Debito.org (I see them as basically a vanity project for Japan’s elite ruling class to convince themselves that the outside world is still paying attention to them, especially after successful bids in Beijing 2008 and Pyeongchang (South Korea) 2018).  But here’s an interesting development:

According to the New York Times, Tokyo Governor Inose Naoki (a good writer and analyst (see also here) before he became Vice-Governor then Governor, and from whom I expected more intelligence and sophistication) is taking cheap shots at other Olympic bidders, violating IOC rules.  Particularly at Istanbul for its religious and ethnic/economic composition, Inose has said, “Islamic countries, the only thing they share in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes”.  He also said that other countries lack “Tokyo’s excellent sense of hospitality”.

Funny, that.  As if Japan does not have classes of its own based upon economic clout or connections to a ruling elite.  And of course, there’s the frequent claim by Japan’s promoters of lack of infrastructure and development elsewhere.  Never mind how that infrastructure doesn’t seem to be taking care of its hundreds of thousands of victims and homeless after the Tohoku Disasters more than two years afterwards.

(More on how irredeemably broken Japan’s system is in fact hereherehereherehereherehere, and here)

But you see, we’re not holding the Olympics in Fukushima.  And we’ll take advantage of Fukushima by trying to claim a sympathy vote for Tokyo in their stead.  Also never mind that unfettered discrimination against domestic minorities in a society also violates the Olympic Charter.  So much to see when you scratch the surface.

There were some subsidiary arguments about Japan’s aging society, which Inose turned on their head to say that healthy seniors are the sign of a healthier society.  That’s fine — that’s just boosterism.  But then he violates IOC rules again by denigrating:  “I’m sure people in Turkey want to live long.  And if they want to live long, they should create a culture like what we have in Japan. There might be a lot of young people, but if they die young, it doesn’t mean much.”

See what I mean about a lack of sophistication?  I guess the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree (as Inose is an Ishihara Shintaro protege, and Ishihara is a bonafide bigot (see also here).  Or else Inose has been so steeped in the dominant discourse of Japan being a unique and peerlessly rich, homogeneous, developed society, that he actually has come to believe it himself.  Hence the blind spots cluttering his analysis.  Put it down to the effects of being steeped in affluence and power.

As submitter MH notes about what he calls Inose’s “idiotic, xenophobic and downright racist comments”, “One doesn’t have to extrapolate too far to see how a racist landlord or real estate agency might feel a certain (ingrained) justification for banning foreigners.”  Quite.  So much for Japan’s “excellent sense of hospitality”.  Arudou Debito

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In Promoting His City for 2020 Games, Tokyo’s Bid Chairman Tweaks Others
By KEN BELSON
The New York Times: April 26, 2013, courtesy of MH
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/sports/in-praising-its-olympic-bid-tokyo-tweaks-the-others.html

With less than five months to go before the International Olympic Committee chooses a city to host the 2020 Summer Games, the three remaining bidders — Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo — are increasing their efforts to win over delegates and the public.

The Olympic committee’s rules prohibit bid committee members from directly criticizing other bids. Instead, the bidders often highlight the perceived strengths of their bids to note delicately what they believe to be their rivals’ shortcomings, something known in the communications industry as counter-positioning.

Naoki Inose, the governor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and chairman of the Tokyo 2020 bid, has often done that, highlighting his city’s extensive and efficient transportation system, as well as the financial and technical wherewithal to build first-class sports sites and housing for the athletes. He has also noted that, like Paris and London, Tokyo has hosted the Summer Games before, a claim that Istanbul and Madrid cannot make.

But Inose has also pushed the boundaries of rhetorical gamesmanship with occasionally blunt and candid statements about how his city compares with the competition, particularly Istanbul, which he has suggested is less developed and less equipped to host the Games.

“For the athletes, where will be the best place to be?” Inose said through an interpreter in a recent interview in New York. “Well, compare the two countries where they have yet to build infrastructure, very sophisticated facilities. So, from time to time, like Brazil, I think it’s good to have a venue for the first time. But Islamic countries, the only thing they share in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes.”

Asked later to elaborate on his characterization of Istanbul, a spokesman said Inose meant that simply being the first Islamic country to hold the Olympics was not a good enough reason to be chosen, just as being the first Buddhist country or the first Christian country would not be, either.

The spokesman said Inose did not mean to refer to “class.”

Istanbul is an Olympic finalist because it is an international city in one of the fastest-developing countries in the region. A member of NATO, Turkey straddles Europe and Asia and is a bridge between Christianity and Islam. With its emerging middle class, Turkey has become a political and economic powerhouse in the region.

This is Istanbul’s fifth bid to host the Olympic Games. In a statement, the city’s bid committee declined to address comments made by rival bidders.

“Istanbul 2020 completely respects the I.O.C. guidelines on bidding and therefore it is not appropriate to comment further on this matter,” the statement said.

The International Olympic Committee does not look kindly on overtly harsh attacks by bidders, and occasionally it sends letters of reprimand to those who break with protocol, former bidders said.

According to Article 14 of the Rules of Conduct for bidders: “Cities shall refrain from any act or comment likely to tarnish the image of a rival city or be prejudicial to it. Any comparison with other cities is strictly forbidden.”

Though untoward comments rarely disqualify a bid, they could raise doubts in the minds of I.O.C. delegates about the trustworthiness of a bidder.

“The reason the rule is there is that if someone deviates from it, it triggers a chain reaction,” said Mike Moran, chief spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee from 1978 to 2002 and a senior communications counselor for New York’s bid for the 2012 Summer Games. “The I.O.C. is very serious about their protocols.”

Moran added that negative comments by bidders would probably not hurt a bid, although “you never know how a comment might influence those I.O.C. members.”

At several points in the interview, Inose said that Japanese culture was unique and by implication superior, a widely held view in Japan. He noted that the political scientist Samuel P. Huntington wrote in his book “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” that Japan was unlike any other culture.

Inose also pointed to polls that showed 70 percent of Tokyoites in favor of hosting the Summer Games, up from 47 percent last year. The well-received London Games, he said, have helped generate enthusiasm and confidence that Tokyo can host a similarly successful event.

Tokyo, he added, is exceptional because the Imperial Palace, which is largely off-limits to residents and visitors, forms the city’s core while bustling activity surrounds it. “The central part of Tokyo has nothingness,” he said. “This is a unique way that society achieved modernization.”

Inose brushed aside the notion that Olympic delegates may favor Istanbul’s bid because Turkey has a far younger population than Japan and thus is fertile ground for developing the next generation of Olympic enthusiasts. While population growth has stalled in Japan, the population of Tokyo has grown because of an influx of younger people, he said. He added that although Japan’s population is aging, its elderly are reasonably healthy.

“We used to say that if you are poor, you have lots of kids, but we have to build infrastructure to accommodate a growing population,” Inose said. “What’s important is that seniors need to be athletic. If you’re healthy, even if you get older, health care costs will go down. The average age is 85 for women and 80 for men, so that demonstrates how stress-free” Japan’s society is.

“I’m sure people in Turkey want to live long,” he added. “And if they want to live long, they should create a culture like what we have in Japan. There might be a lot of young people, but if they die young, it doesn’t mean much.”

Inose has drawn distinctions between Japan and other cultures in other settings, too. When he visited London in January to promote Tokyo’s bid, he said Tokyo and London were sophisticated and implied that Istanbul was not.

“I don’t mean to flatter, but London is in a developed country whose sense of hospitality is excellent,” Inose told reporters. “Tokyo’s is also excellent. But other cities, not so much.”
ENDS

Japan Times: “Student seeking Kyoto flat told: No foreigners allowed”, and how NJ tie themselves in mental knots

mytest

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Hi Blog. This JT article has been sent to me by lots of people and has stirred up quite a bit of debate in cyberspace. Frankly, I’m a little surprised (albeit happily) that this was in any way treated as news. I thought that this sort of thing was so normalized a practice that people largely ignored it, treated it as part of the background noise/inconvenience of living in a place like Japan. Kudos to the reporter and the Ryuugaku student for taking it up afresh.

It has always been to Debito.org’s great chagrin that we have no page (aside from some “pinprick protest” posts and solutions herehere, here, here, here, and here) dedicated to exclusionary businesses within the rental market. Partially because landlords don’t hang up a shingle saying “Japanese Only” that we can take a picture of to name and shame (like we can and have done for exclusionary businesses open to the public). Racist landlords can instead launder their discrimination through third parties like realtors, keeping incidents scattered and individualized and more or less on the downlow, and making Japan’s rental market a racialized minefield for NJ residents.

One thing that can be done (in the Ryuukoku University case mentioned in the JT article below) is for the university co-op to simply refuse to do business with or advertise apartments to anyone on campus for places with exclusionary practices or landlords. Deny them the lucrative student market. This has to be done systematically back to combat the systematic practices in place. This should be standard practice at all universities, and it is something students (Japanese and NJ) should push for.  I know of one place that is considering doing so (more later).

But one of the reasons why this situation persists is not only due to the lack of a law in Japan protecting people from discrimination by race and national origin in the private sector.  It is also due to the pedants, apologists, and self-hating gaijin (see the copious comments below the JT article) who riddle debates with cultural relativism, general relativism (e.g., “discrimination happens to everyone in Japan and everywhere in the world”), apologism based upon culturally-based conflict and guilt by association, chauvinism and “the foreigner must have done something wrong” merely by existing in Japan, and red-herring points including privacy and landlord rights (overlooking the fact that landlords already have quite significant power already just as property owners in this situation — before you get to their carte-blanche privilege to be racists).  These cyberspace sharks argue against themselves and deter people from banding together and helping each other.  They also help to keep discrimination in Japan normalized.  We had the same debates during the Otaru Onsens Case (1999-2005, immortalized in all their glory within our new Tenth Anniversary eBook “Japanese Only” on Amazon for $9.99), but fortunately they did not carry the day back then because we won our lawsuits against the racists.

Back to this issue:  I look forward to Debito.org Readers sharing their stories of exclusionary landlords and realtors in the Comments Section. Do try to give names, places, and dates if you can. And if you have any visuals of clear exclusionary rules, please send them to me at debito@debito.org and I’ll find ways to include them with your comment. Arudou Debito

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Student seeking Kyoto flat told: No foreigners allowed
Campus cooperative says it is powerless to prevent landlords from discriminating
BY SIMON SCOTT
The Japan Times April 23, 2013, courtesy of lots of people
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/04/23/issues/student-seeking-kyoto-flat-told-no-foreigners-allowed/

After spending 2½ years living the quiet life in buttoned-down Shiga Prefecture, Ryukoku University student Victor Rosenhoj was looking forward to moving into bustling central Kyoto, where things promised to be more lively and international. First, though, he needed to find a suitable apartment, so he picked up a copy of the student magazine, Ryudaisei No Sumai, from the cooperative store on campus.

Thumbing through it, Rosenhoj, originally from Belgium, came across an attractive and affordable place just a stone’s throw from Gojo Station in the downtown area. His heart set on the apartment, he made an appointment at the student co-op on the university’s Fukakusa campus, which arranges accommodation for students in the Kyoto area.

When he pointed to the apartment he was interested in, the shop manager told him that no foreigners were allowed to rent the place.

“Well, the very first moment I was told that, I thought I had misheard something. But it soon became clear that it wasn’t a misunderstanding,” Rosenhoj said. “I felt both hurt and angry at the same time, though it took a while for those feelings to really reach the surface.”

Rosenhoj said one of the things that surprised him the most was the “matter-of-fact way” the manager informed him that the apartment was off-limits to foreigners. After Rosehoj confronted the manager about the issue, he says he was somewhat apologetic about it, but at the same time dismissive of the idea that it could be construed as racial discrimination by a foreign customer.

Rest of the article and comments at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/04/23/issues/student-seeking-kyoto-flat-told-no-foreigners-allowed/
ENDS

RocketNews: Automatic PR Status awarded to grads of Kyoto universities? Positive proposal by Kyoto Governor that will come to naught

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s something interesting.  It will come to naught, of course, but it shows how local governments are much more responsive to the needs of NJ than the central government (which is dominated by the control-the-borders-and-police-foreigners-only mindset of the Ministry of Justice).  Although the central government occasionally deigns to listen to the locals (especially when they band together and say, “Our NJ residents need this!” as per the Hamamatsu Sengen of 2001), ultimately the regular blind spots prevail, and I think they will in this case too (as awarding Permanent Residency is the job of the MOJ, not local governments).  Arudou Debito

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Japanese Permanent Resident Status to be Awarded to Overseas Students? A New Appeal by the [Governor] of Kyoto
RocketNews24, April 15, 2013 by Andrew Miller, courtesy of JK and others
http://en.rocketnews24.com/2013/04/15/japanese-permanent-resident-status-to-be-awarded-to-overseas-students-a-new-appeal-by-the-mayor-of-kyoto/

On April 10, the [Governor] of Kyoto Keiji Yamada made public his intentions to appeal to the government to award overseas students who graduate from Kyoto [universities] with the right to permanent residence. It is a proposal entitled ‘Kyoto University Special Ward’ and also incorporates other supportive measures for foreign students. With a decrease in student intake within Japan in recent years, it is hoped that by providing incentives for academically skilled overseas students, Kyoto will not only be able to compete with other cities like Tokyo but will also be able to add a new lease of life to its cultural city.

The plan to introduce incentives for overseas students came to light after The Japanese Business Federation and Kyoto’s prefecture office held a panel discussion on how to revive the town. The same prefecture estimated that due to decrease in birth rates, the number of students enrolling in university was also likely to see a significant decrease in years to come. Looking at the birth rate statistics from 2011, it is predicted that the 160,000 students currently residing in Kyoto will see a 25,000 student decrease in the future.

On the other hand, the number of overseas students currently residing in Kyoto is 6,000. According to research carried out by Kyoto Prefecture, several universities in Singapore have over a 60 percent foreign student uptake. What’s more, the same students are awarded the right to permanent residence upon graduating. Singapore is no doubt leading the way in attracting, and fostering, talent from abroad.

At the same panel discussion, Kyoto’s [Governor] was enthusiastic about providing an environment like Singapore in which to support foreign students with finding employment after graduation, and nurturing talent through education.

With air of conviction, Kyoto’s [Governor] put his proposition to the panel:

“What I’d like to ask you to consider is whether overseas students who graduate from Kyoto [universities] and take part in the city’s job training program can be given permanent resident status. I’d like to work with everyone in producing an effective policy.”

It is reported that at the end of the discussion all the parties were keen to provide a fertile ground in which to foster a “University utopia” and backed the mayor’s proposal. Kyoto Prefecture is set to cooperate with the parties concerned and appeal to the government to put this measure in place during the year.

ENDS

Original article linked from RocketNews:

京の留学生に永住権を 府が「大学生特区」提案へ
京都新聞 4月10日(水)
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130410-00000024-kyt-l26

京都府の山田啓二知事は10日、京都の大学を卒業した留学生に対し、永住権が申請できる資格を付与するなどの支援策を盛り込んだ「京都大学生特区」を国に提案する方針を明らかにした。国内の学生が減るなか、世界から優秀な学生を取り込んで都市間競争に勝ち残り、地域の活性化を図りたい考え。

京都経済同友会と府庁(京都市上京区)で行った「大学のまち・京都」を考える懇談会で明らかにした。

府によると、2011年生まれの人の大学入学推計は、出生数の減少で、11年に入学した人に比べ17・2%減になる見込みで、京都でも現在約16万人いる学生数が約2万5千人減る計算になるという。一方、京都の大学の留学生は現在、約6千人。府の調査では、シンガポールには学生の3分の2を留学生が占める大学があり、卒業後には永住権が与えられる。留学生の獲得で先行しているという。

山田知事は同友会から、オール京都体制での人材育成策や留学生の生活・就職支援を求めた提言書を受け取り、「京都の大学を卒業して、オール京都でやった職業訓練コースを受けた人には永住権の申請ができるぐらいの便宜を(留学生に対し)はかってもらえないか。(経済団体の)みなさんとともに、思い切った施策を打っていきたい」と話した。

府や京都市、京都大、経済団体などのトップでつくる「京都の未来を考える懇話会」は、税制優遇や研究・起業支援などが柱の「大学ユートピア特区」を提唱しており、府は今後、関係団体と連携して本年度中にも国に特区申請を行う予定。

ENDS

Harbingers of further insularity: J international marriages way down, as are J students studying abroad

mytest

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Hi Blog. We have some more harbingers of Japan’s retreat into itself. International marriages are way down, and so are Japanese students studying abroad.

First, check out this significant stat about international marriage:  At last measurement, international marriage figures (in blue) have dropped by about 25% since their peak in 2006! (International divorce figures, in yellow, have crept up too.)

mofaintlmarriage19792010

(Courtesy the Foreign Affairs Ministry http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/press/pr/wakaru/topics/vol82/index.html. (I’ll talk a little more about the contents of this page shortly, as the focus is on international divorce and the probable consequences of Japan’s signing the Hague Convention on Child Abductions.)

I call it significant because it removes one of the fundamental means to Japan’s increased diversity.  If Japan’s perennially low birthrate means fewer children, having fewer international marriages means probably fewer international Japanese children.  And this will quite possibly lead to further marginalization of the “half” population as a temporary “blip” in international coupling (last seen as a “social problem” with the Postwar konketsuji mixed-blood children, publicly stigmatized for being “bastard children of prostitutes”; see Fish, Robert A.  2009.  “‘Mixed-blood’ Japanese:  A Reconsideration of Race and Purity in Japan.”  Pp. 40-58 in Weiner, ed., Japan’s Minorities: The Illusion of Homogeneity.  2nd ed.  Sheffield:  Routledge.)

As a tangent, note the normalized racialization of the GOJ’s illustration above, where the “foreigner” is male and blue-eyed.  Even though the majority of Japanese-foreign marriages are not “Western male” either in terms of marriages in general or even foreign husbands in specific, perpetually!  So says MHLW:

mhlwmarriagestatt19502009Courtesy http://www.mhlw.go.jp/toukei/saikin/hw/jinkou/suii09/marr2.html

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

Next up, consider how Japanese students are not going overseas much (according to the Japan Times, they are being significantly outdistanced by, for example, the South Koreans and Chinese):

Jstudentsstudyabroad8310Courtesy of http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/04/19/national/high-schoolers-dream-of-ivy-league/ and JJS.

That said, I’m a bit skeptical about whether this trend means a great deal, as I don’t think people who study abroad necessarily become more broad-minded or open to outside ideas (and Japanese society has structural mechanisms for marginalizing students who leave the system anyway).  Moreover, the domestic discourse nowadays is finding ways to rationalize away the need, for example, to study a foreign language at all.  Nevertheless, I would argue that these trends are not particularly good for Japan, as they are not only harbingers of insularity, but also encouraging even further insularity in addition to recent trends I have written about before.  Arudou Debito

Discussion: “Bignose” on Cute “Kobito-zukan” comic characters for kids and NJ control fantasies?

mytest

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Hi Blog. In the vein of the recent discussion on treatment of NJ in Japanese media, here’s food for thought from a Debito.org Reader under the pseudonym “Bignose”.  I’m intrigued but not 100% convinced, so I’ll open this one up under the Discussions heading for lighter moderation. Arudou Debito

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

Cute Kobito and Control Fantasies?
January 6, 2012

Hi Debito, It’s Bignose here.Remember those stereotypical pictures of Caucasian gaijin so beloved in this country? Looks like theeeey’re back with a vengeance!  I am filing this with you to see what you and other readers think.

Initially I thought the point I want to make might be a stretch; that I might be being hypersensitive. It’s possible to see insults where there are none, or that comments received are misinterpreted through cultural misunderstandings, poor language ability, things taken out of context. So I am going to be quite careful what I say. But after long, long experiences living in Japan, to put it in a nutshell, I smell a rat.

In a sense, to me, the theme I am about to raise resonates with the issue over “Mr. James,” remember, our lovable goofy Kakakana Japanese spewing junk food munching baseball fan? I know you received a lot of criticism about raising this issue. For me the acid test is what would happen if the boot was on the other foot. If a major junk food conglomerate in the U.S. was selling teriyaki burgers flaunted by a slit-eyed, bespectacled, broken Engrish speaking salariman hairi lecommending TERIAKI BURGA, how would the Japanese embassy feel about it. I am not sure they would be happy happy happy about it all.

To the item at hand. It’s about othering and control fantasies referring to a “lost paradise” (a shitsuraken perhaps?) that was Japan when foreigners were cute and mainly for entertainment.

A few nights ago my wife (who is Japanese) and I and our infant child were having dinner at a friend’s place. Our friend is a longstanding one, she’s known and worked with my wife when they were at a major Japanese advertising company 15 years ago and our friend, who is in her 40s, is a professional and an account manager. She speaks reasonably fluent English and has done home stays, a year abroad, etc.

So the three of us were round our friend’s place where she cooked a lovely dinner and then she introduced us to a “must watch” waraibangumi called こびとづかん. I was very interested because as a father I monitor Japanese kids programs my wife wants to show our child quite closely, avoiding programs that I think are problematical (too cute, squealing, gender stereotypes and having very young performers, especially young girls, performing adult routines…and it’s not only my wife and I that find groups such as AKB48 extremely disturbing and problematic on many, many levels). I always try to balance out any media experiences my child has with Japanese media with alternatives in English, either from the U.S. or the UK, for example.

kobitozukan

Courtesy http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/singing_d_more/GALLERY/show_image.html?id=61443344

So my friend put on several こびとづかん segments from her DVD collection:
https://www.youtube.com/results?client=safari&rls=en&q=こびとづかん&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=w1

As I watched it, I thought fine, fine, it looks like a decent story, very entertaining. But I wondered, why is this kiddies program so entertaining for adults? Why is it such a hit? My friend’s eye were glowing, and she was clearly getting very excited.

By the second minute I started to find the patronizing tone grating, largely because it reminds me of how I am still sometimes treated by Japanese people dealing with gaijin, you know as if we are some sort of stupid alien pets. Or perhaps sometimes it’s just trying to be kind and well meaning to the alien. Or perhaps it’s just me, I was thinking.

As soon as our little critter appeared in the third minute, I realized I felt a little bit uncomfortable, but I couldn’t put my finger on why.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95dEI_hCwIQ

[NB:  Note that the newspaper put down as a cage to catch the critter is in English…]

Then suddenly in just on the 4th minute, our friend starting squealing in laugher. As our stupid but harmless character [kakure momojiri] she loved so much because he was so cute was inching his way up the trap showing his pink ass, our friend squealed out “XXXXX-san, it looks just like YOU!” and she started giggling uncontrollably.

kakuremomojiri

I went along with it but I felt even more unsettled. I do want to say that her friend has never seen my (admittedly) pink-ish ass and secondly I don’t think our lovable momo-munching kobito friend looks like me. I’m relatively slim, even if I am not as young as I used to be.

But when our little friend ….whoops!…bikkuiri !!! hilariously plopped into the tender trap prepared for him, the yen started to fall, so to speak.

Before I go any further, I’d like readers to look at the other pictures from the set of characters for this series:

http://shop.kobito-dukan.com

Notice anything?

Bignoses! They all look like that older grumpy University English teacher you had that you didn’t really like and had to put up with, with his strange alien ideas and his attitude problem at not playing the game and being “yasashii,” i.e. entertainment.

They even have blackfaced “kokujin” characters with even bigger flatter noses and big lips.

Where are the Asian characters? There are none.

As I watched further, more things fell into place. The lovable western looking kobito is lured into a world thinking he’s going to get his nice juicy peach, not knowing in fact that he’s going to be completely controlled as a lovable pet that is going to be patted and taken care of until his part is played.

It struck me why this children’s program such a huge hit with adults. On one level they are great stories, but I really am not sure that it is a good lesson to take creatures out of nature and turn them into entertainment pets. But as they are not humans and with only limited intelligence, no harm done, no doubt! Yep, an there are many more problematical kiddies programs out there involving sexualization and gender stereotyping, violence and etc. and all sorts of garbage from just about anywhere you care to name in the world.

But on another level, this to me seems all about appealing to the control fantasies of othering gaijin. Controllable kobito lovingly lured into traps by their own stupidity to be cared for and controlled and as entertainment for Japanese.

I thought about it and I thought about it. I said to my wife, am I being oversensitive? She was completely confused. So I said, well, what if all these kobito had slanted eyes and were yellow and this was a U.S. show. Would you feel comfortable about it. Then the penny dropped for her too.

There is a lot more could say at this point, but I just wanted to share this with other Debito readers to see what they thought.  “Bignose.”

ENDS

New book: “Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight” by Hepburn & Simon (Columbia UP, 2013). Includes Japan.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  After using the resources and contacts of Debito.org, the author of the following book, Stephanie Hepburn, contacted me two days ago to say that her research on worldwide human trafficking, including Japan, has just been published by Columbia University Press.  I am pleased to notify Debito.org Readers as follows:

HepburnHumanTraffcover

Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight
By Stephanie Hepburn and Rita J. Simon
Purchase links:

Columbia University Press: http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-16144-2/human-trafficking-around-the-world
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Human-Trafficking-Around-World-Hidden/dp/023116145X
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/human-trafficking-around-the-world-stephanie-hepburn/1113895525

Published by Columbia University Press, this unprecedented study of sex trafficking, forced labor, organ trafficking, and sex tourism across twenty-four nations highlights the experiences of the victims, perpetrators, and anti-traffickers involved in this brutal trade. Combining statistical data with intimate accounts and interviews, journalist Stephanie Hepburn and justice scholar Rita J. Simon create a dynamic volume sure to educate and spur action.

Among the nations examined is Japan, which has not elaborated a comprehensive anti-trafficking law. Although the government took a strong step forward in its 2009 Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons by acknowledging that sex trafficking is not the only form of human trafficking, forced-labor victims continue to be marginalized. As a result of ethnocentric policies, the government prohibits foreign unskilled laborers from working in Japan. But the disparity between the nation’s immigration posture and its labor needs has created a quandary. With a demand for inexpensive labor but without an adequate low wage labor force, Japan uses the government-run Industrial Training Program and Technical Internship Program to create a temporary and low-cost migrant workforce for employers. The stated purpose of the program is to transfer skill, technology, and knowledge to persons of other nations and thereby play a central role in the economic growth of developing nations, specifically those in East Asia. Instead, it has created opportunities for exploitation and human trafficking.

“I recommend this comprehensive study to anyone wanting to understand the fight against the modern day slave-trade. The book stands apart by augmenting nation by nation accounts of trafficking realities with critiques of existing local anti-trafficking measures and consideration of local obstacles. Supported by diverse sources, the authors set forth clear policy recommendations to combat trafficking.”—Lori J. Johnson, staff attorney, Farmworker Unit, Legal Aid of North Carolina

“This volume demonstrates ways that global migration policies and programs facilitate human trafficking by focusing on enforcement rather than promoting uniform labor standards. Its broad focus help readers compare practices between countries and understand the transnational impact of national legislation and policies on human trafficking around the globe.”—Gretchen Kuhner, author of the American Bar Association’s Human Trafficking Assessment Tool Report

“Stephanie Hepburn and Rita J. Simon demonstrate that economics, geography, civil unrest, societal inequality, and gender disparities play a major role in how trafficking manifests itself.”—Christa Stewart, New York State Office of Human Trafficking, Office of Temporary Disability Assistance

“Stephanie Hepburn and Rita J. Simon delve beneath the surface of policies and legislation within the various countries they study by involving those who are involved at a grassroots level and have come up with a fascinating account of these practices.”—Carol Bews, assistant director, Johannesburg Child Welfare Society

Stephanie Hepburn is an independent journalist whose work has been published in Americas Quarterly, USA Today U-Wire, Gender Issues, and the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Rita J. Simon is a University Professor in the School of Public Affairs and the Washington College of Law at American University in Washington, D.C.

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

I have not read the book yet, but it looks to be an important work and am pleased to tell you about it.  Arudou Debito

ENDS

TV Tokyo bangumi: “Why did you come to Japan?” interviews NJ arrivals at Narita, reifies mainstream media discourse of NJ as tourists, not residents

mytest

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Hi Blog. Check this out, courtesy of Japan Today:

tvtokyoNJwhatareyoudoinghere
Courtesy http://www.japantoday.com/category/picture-of-the-day/view/what-are-you-doing-here

Submitter JDG argues:
====================================
Saw this story on Japan Today (link): It’s a story about a poster campaign to advertise a TV show where NJ straight off the plane are asked why they came to Japan. In the poster, ‘talent(less)’ J-celebs, and a variety of caricatured NJ are proffering answers (‘maid’ cafes, lolitas, etc).

“I think that there are two ways of looking at this.

“The first is that they are proceeding from the false assumption that all NJ in Japan are visitors who must be here for some uniquely crazy ‘Japanese’ experience that they can’t get at home, and plays into the myth that there are no NJ long term residents who are here because of their jobs, or family connections. Whilst ignorant and not very helpful for understanding the wide variety of NJ identities, it is a common enough mistake for the Japanese to make.

“However, my second thought is that this poster is an inadvertent and unintended insight into a darker aspect of Japanese psychology on the NJ issue. What if we suppose that this poster is not the product of some ignoramus who genuinely knows nothing of NJ realities in Japan, and believes the myth totally? What if this poster simply reflects a more widespread and deep rooted opinion that NJ shouldn’t be living in Japan because they have families or business here? What if the poster is deliberately not offering reasons such as ‘I’m here because I’m on the board or directors of (insert J-company here)’, or ‘I’m here to get my children back’, or ‘I’m here with the IAEA to inspect your reactors’?

“These are exaggerations, of course, but the point that I am making is that this poster in itself is a tool of devision, disenfranchisement, exclusion, subjugation, and othering. All that, and created with a lack of self-awareness in the process? A frightening indicator of the extent to which discrimination is normalized in japanese society.”
====================================

I would concur in particular with the aspect of maintaining the dominant discourse in Japan of NJ as “guests”, i.e., “temporary visitors, not residents”, mixed in with the shades of “Cool Japan” that helps Japanese society revalidate and even fetishize itself through foreigners.

But it’s essential (by definition) that this revalidation message remain positive — as in, “Japan is a nice place that is polite to everyone, especially its guests”. That is one of the positive aspects of “guestism” — hosts don’t get their status quo challenged. After all, why would somebody spend so much money and fly in just to come and bad-mouth the place? It’s a pretty safe and not-at-all-random sampling that will probably match the TV network’s editorial and entertainment conceit.  (And on the off-chance if not, no need to broadcast the views of quite clearly rude people.)

Media enforcement of Guestism has a long history, really. Back in 2009, Debito.org caught NHK asking specifically for NJ guests on its “COOL JAPAN” program “who have lived in Japan for less than one year”, as if they would have more insights on Japan than somebody who has lived in Japan longer. Like, say, for example, participants in the reviled and acclaimed bangumiKOKO GA HEN DA YO, NIHONJIN” (1998-2002; even my fellow plaintiffs and I were allowed to appear regarding the Otaru Onsens Case), which featured diversity of opinion in all its screaming glory, but still allowed NJs to speak in their own words in Japanese.  KKGHDYN was probably the high water mark of Japan’s assimilation of NJ viewpoints into Japan’s generally foreign-resident-free media (one that shuts itself off so effectively from NJ voices in Japan that nearly HALF, i.e., 46%, of all respondents (Japanese, natch) to a recent Cabinet survey didn’t even know that Nikkei Brazilians have been living in Japan on a special visa status for the past two decades!), but after the “foreigner as criminal” GOJ and media blitz of the 2000s, we’re right back to Bubble-Era-and-before attitudes towards NJ in the domestic media.

So in the end, asking people, “So how do you like Japan?” mere minutes after landing is probably within character.  But it’s awful media representation.  Arudou Debito

Now on Amazon Kindle and Barnes&Noble NOOK: Debito’s eBook novel “IN APPROPRIATE”, on child abductions after divorce in Japan: $9.99

mytest

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Hi Blog. Following up on my last blog post about JAPANESE ONLY: Otaru Onsens Case coming out as a special edition eBook, I am pleased to announce that my nonfiction novel, “IN APPROPRIATE: A Novel of Culture, Kidnapping, and Revenge in Modern Japan“, is now downloadable from Amazons worldwide and Barnes & Noble as a Kindle or NOOK eBook. Price: $9.99.

ELECTRONIC DOWNLOAD FROM AMAZON.COM WORLDWIDE IN KINDLE FORMAT (at USD$9.99)

ELECTRONIC DOWNLOAD FROM BARNES&NOBLE.COM IN NOOK FORMAT (at USD$10.00)

In Appropriate cover

My first published foray into fiction, IN APPROPRIATE is a thriller about child abductions in Japan after divorce — where one parent loses all custody and access in Japan regardless of nationality. It is an amalgam of several actual cases of child abduction framed on a fictional character, Gary, an American who falls for a Japanese girl in college, then follows her back to Japan during its Bubble Era aftermath. Not only does IN APPROPRIATE chart the progress of Gary’s assimilation into Japanese society, it also marks the slow but steady decline of fortunes for everyone in Japan as the economy sours and opportunities shrink. Gary also realizes that he has married into an elite Japanese family whose priorities regarding his children’s future do not match his, and he eventually realizes that he will have to do something drastic to save them.

Praise from readers of IN APPROPRIATE has been very positive. Only yesterday I got this feedback:

“Just bought online and finished reading your Kindle book ‘IN APPROPRIATE.’ Pretty good short read. You should come up with another using Gary and where he left off in Thailand. I especially liked it being a short read that I could finish in one sitting. I enjoyed your first fiction book and hope you come out with another.”

Other readers might concur:

“ARUDOU Debito’s depiction of how quickly life gets turned upside down by the crazy family rules in Japan will do more than just grab your attention. It will make you cry at the strange and deplorable tale of love lost in Japan. IN APPROPRIATE sheds necessary light on the twisted norms and laws in Japan that not only allow, but also encourage parents to abduct their children from one another. A must-read primer on the issue.”Eric Kalmus, Children’s Rights Network Japan (www.crnjapan.net), and Left-Behind Parent.

“IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito is a work of fiction, full of fact… I read the book twice; once to check the facts and once to feel the emotions. There is no other way to describe this but say that on both fronts, the book hits home. Many people reading this will not believe it, but as somebody that has ‘been there and done that”‘ I can honestly say this is one of the most powerful books I have ever read… If an inside, in-depth view of Japan is what you are after, then this book is for you.”John Evans, Left-Behind Parent.

“I am not a left-behind parent but I am a Japan Veteran. I first went to Japan planning to spend a year and in the end spent 7 years of my life there. I married a Japanese, have two kids, and now live back in my home country with my wife and kids. Reading through Gary’s early experiences with Japan and the culture was like reading my own diary. Thankfully the second half of the book wasn’t. The book is engaging, informative, and authentic. I highly recommend IN APPROPRIATE. At the end I wanted more. Some will take that as a criticism but it’s because I began to care about some of the characters and I wanted to know more. Without a doubt the book will appeal more to us Japanophiles, but a good story is a good story. I’ve read a lot of Japan-centric fiction, both good and bad. I classify this as great, and look forward to future fictional works by Debito.”Steve Fylypchuk

More information, reviews, and ordering details at http://www.debito.org/inappropriate.html.

ELECTRONIC DOWNLOAD FROM AMAZON.COM WORLDWIDE IN KINDLE FORMAT (at USD$9.99)

ELECTRONIC DOWNLOAD FROM BARNES&NOBLE.COM IN NOOK FORMAT (at USD$10.00)

Sample first chapter readable for free at these outlets as well.

Thanks for reading Debito.org, and if you like what you read here, consider supporting the site by downloading a copy of IN APPROPRIATE and/or JAPANESE ONLY.  You get the same good read you get here, and both are now very affordably priced at $9.99 or local currency equivalent anywhere in the world.  Arudou Debito

New eBook: “JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Onsens Case”, 10th Anniv Edition with new Intro and Postscript, now on Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook $9.99

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I am pleased to announce the eBook release of my book “JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan” Tenth Anniversary Edition, available for immediate download for Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble NOOK.

The definitive book on one of Japan’s most important public debates and lawsuits on racial discrimination, this new edition has a new Introduction and Postscript that updates the reader on what has happened in the decade since JO’s first publication by Akashi Shoten Inc.  A synopsis of the new book is below.

You can read a sample of the first fifteen or so pages (including the new Introduction), and download the ebook at either link:

Price:  $9.99 (a bargain considering JO is currently on sale on Amazon Japan used for 3100 yen, and at Amazon.com used for $390.93!), or the equivalent in local currency on all other Amazons (935 yen on Amazon Japan).

If you haven’t read JO yet (as clearly some media presences, like TV Tarento Daniel Kahl or decrier of “bathhouse fanatics” Gregory Clark, have not; not to mention “My Darling is a Foreigner” manga star Tony Laszlo would rather you didn’t), now is a brand new opportunity with additional context.  Here’s the Synopsis:

SYNOPSIS OF THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY EDITION OF eBOOK “JAPANESE ONLY”

If you saw signs up in public places saying “No Coloreds”, what would you do? See them as relics of a bygone era, a la US Segregation or South African Apartheid? Not in Japan, where even today “Japanese Only” signs, excluding people who look “foreign”, may be found nationwide, thanks to fear and opportunism arising from Japan’s internationalization and economic decline.

JAPANESE ONLY is the definitive account of the Otaru Onsens Case, where public bathhouses in Otaru City, Hokkaido, put up “no foreigners allowed” signs to refuse entry to Russian sailors, and in the process denied service to Japanese. One of Japan’s most studied postwar court cases on racial discrimination, this case went all the way to Japan’s Supreme Court, and called into question the willingness of the Japanese judiciary to enforce Japan’s Constitution.

Written by one of the plaintiffs to the lawsuit, a bilingual naturalized citizen who has lived in Japan for 25 years, this highly-readable first-person account chronologically charts the story behind the case and the surrounding debate in Japanese media between 1999 and 2005. The author uncovers a side of Japanese society that many Japanese and scholars of Japan would rather not discuss: How the social determination of “Japanese” inevitably leads to racism. How Japan, despite international treaties and even its own constitutional provisions, remains the only modern, developed country without any form of a law against racial discrimination, resulting in situations where foreigners and even Japanese are refused service at bathhouses, restaurants, stores, apartments, hotels, schools, even hospitals, simply for looking too “foreign”. How Japan officially denies the existence of racial discrimination in Japan (as its allegedly homogeneous society by definition contains no minorities), until the Sapporo District Court ruled otherwise with Otaru Onsens.

JAPANESE ONLY also charts the arc of a public debate that reached extremes of xenophobia: Where government-sponsored fear campaigns against “foreign crime” and “illegal foreigners” were used to justify exclusionism. Where outright acts of discrimination, once dismissed as mere “cultural misunderstandings”, were then used as a means to “protect Japanese” from “scary, unhygienic, criminal foreigners” and led to the normalization of racialized hate speech. Where even resident foreigners turned on themselves, including Japan Times columnist Gregory Clark’s repeated diatribes against “bathhouse fanatics”, and future “My Darling is a Foreigner” manga star Tony Laszlo’s opportunistic use of activism to promote his own agenda at the expense of the cause. Where the plaintiffs stay the course despite enormous public pressure to drop the lawsuit (including death threats), and do so at great personal risk and sacrifice. Remaining in print since its first publication in 2003, JAPANESE ONLY remains a testament to the dark side of race relations in Japan, and contains a taut story of courage and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Now for the first time in ebook format, this Tenth Anniversary Edition in English offers a new Introduction and Postscript by the author, updating the reader on what has changed, what work remains to be done, and how Japan in fact is reverse-engineering itself to become more insular and xenophobic in the 2010s. Called “a reasoned and spirited denunciation of national prejudice, discrimination, and bigotry” (Donald Richie, legendary Japanologist), “clear, well-paced, balanced and informative” (Tom Baker, The Daily Yomiuri), “a personal and fascinating account of how this movement evolved, its consequences and how it affected those who participated in it” (Jeff Kingston, The Japan Times), and “the book of reference on the subject for decades to come and should be required reading for anyone studying social protest” (Robert Whiting, author of You’ve Gotta Have Wa), JAPANESE ONLY is a must-read for anyone interested in modern Japan’s future direction in the world and its latent attitudes towards outsiders.

More reviews at http://www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html
ends

JT: Japan’s minimum retirement age to increase to 65 by 2025

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Hi Blog. Here’s something interesting for those of you working in Japan and intending to stay on until retirement. Those of you who have done the research (see also our HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS TO JAPAN) will know that (aside from a quickie lump-sum you can withdraw if you’ve only paid in for a few years and are leaving Japan) you have to pay into Japan’s mandatory pension system for 300 months (i.e., 25 years) or you don’t get anything back. Further, you can’t collect it until the mandatory retirement age, which was 60, but now has been raised to 61 and soon will be raised to 65, according to the Japan Times. So that means that even if you want to stop work early even after paying in for 300 months, you simply cannot collect. This is also assuming that, given the decreasing population and increasing pensioners, Japan’s pension system will even be solvent by the time you reach retirement age. Something to think about. Other issues of import raised in the Japan Times article link as well. Arudou Debito

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Mandatory retirement takes a leap forward
BY MARK SCHREIBER
The Japan Times, March 24, 2013
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/03/24/national/mandatory-retirement-takes-a-leap-forward/

[excerpt] …Americans saw nothing odd about staying on the job until reaching age 65.

Now finally, Japan is catching up. From next month, when the 2013 fiscal year begins, the revised Law Concerning Stabilization of Employment of Older Persons takes effect, and the mandatory retirement age, defined as the minimum age for payout of social security pensions — last raised from 55 to 60 years in 1998 — will go up to 61, and then increase incrementally at the rate of one year of age every three years, until 2025, when the mandatory retirement age reaches 65.

Over the long term, the new statute is expected to have profound effects on hiring, the wage structure and many other aspects affecting the nation’s corporate culture.

Yet Japan, with its declining birthrate and aging population, clearly had to do something to maintain the size of its labor force (which was 62.98 million as of 2010). Mass immigration, one of its few other options, has been proposed numerous times over the years, but for reasons too numerous to raise here keeps getting put on the back burner.

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/03/24/national/mandatory-retirement-takes-a-leap-forward/

ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 62, Apr 2, 2013: “Tweak the immigration debate and demand an upgrade to denizen class”

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Hi Blog.  Thanks to everyone who read my article, as it has been trending within the most-read articles within the past couple of days once again this month.  Here it is on the blog for commentary with links to sources.  Enjoy!  Arudou Debito

justbecauseicon.jpg
Tweak the immigration debate and demand an upgrade to denizen class
BY ARUDOU Debito
The Japan Times, Just Be Cause Column 62, published April 2, 2013
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/04/02/issues/tweak-the-immigration-debate-and-demand-an-upgrade-to-denizen-class/
Version below with links to sources

Crucial to any public discussion is defining the terms of debate. However, often those terms must be redefined later because they don’t reflect reality.

One example is Japan’s concept of “foreigner,” because the related terminology is confusing and provides pretenses for exclusionism.

In terms of strict legal status, if you’re not a citizen you’re a “foreigner” (gaikokujin), right? But not all gaikokujin are the same in terms of acculturation or length of stay in Japan. A tourist “fresh off the boat” has little in common with a noncitizen with a Japanese family, property and permanent residency. Yet into the gaikokujin box they all go.

The lack of terms that properly differentiate or allow for upgrades has negative consequences. A long-termer frequently gets depicted in public discourse as a sojourner, not “at home” in Japan.

Granted, there are specialized terms for visa statuses, such as eijūsha (permanent resident) and tokubetsu eijūsha (special permanent resident, for the zainichi Korean and Chinese generational “foreigners”). But they rarely appear in common parlance, since the public is generally unaware of visa regimes (many people don’t even know foreigners must carry “gaijin cards”!).

Public debate about Japan’s foreign population must take into account their degree of assimilation. So this column will try to popularize a concept introduced in the 1990s that remains mired in migration studies jargon: denizen.

Denizenship,” as discussed by Tomas Hammar of Stockholm University, is a mid-step between migrant and immigrant, foreigner and citizen — a “quasi-citizenship.” In his 1990 book “Democracy and the Nation State,” Hammar talks about three “entrance gates” for migrants to become citizens: 1) admission to the country, 2) permanent residency, and 3) acquisition of full citizenship.

Denizens have passed the second gate, having become resident aliens who have been granted extensive civil and social citizenship rights — including national and/or local suffrage in some countries.

Although denizens lack the full political rights of a citizen, scholars of international migration note that countries are increasingly giving denizens faster tracks to full citizenship, including relaxation of blood-based nationality (e.g., in Sweden, Holland, Switzerland and Germany), official guidance in naturalization procedures after obtaining permanent residency (e.g., United States), greater tolerance for dual citizenship (e.g., Mexico) and some electoral rights (e.g., European Union). [all claims within books by scholars below, but some quick references here]

A similar discussion on denizenship has taken place in Japanese academia, thanks to Atsushi Kondo (1996), Chikako Kashiwazaki (2000) and Akihiro Asakawa (2007) et al., all of whom rendered the term in katakana as denizun, translating it as eijū shimin (permanent “citizens,” so to speak).

Perhaps this will come as no surprise, but their extensive research highlighted the comparatively closed nature of Japanese immigration policy. Japan has been an outlier in terms of citizenship rules, going against the trend seen in other advanced democracies to enfranchise denizens.

For example, Japan has an intolerance of dual nationality, high hurdles for achieving permanent residency, arbitrary and discretionary rules for obtaining full citizenship, few refugees, and strict “family” blood-based citizenship without exception for future generations of denizens (which is why Japan is still home to hundreds of thousands of zainichi “foreigners” 60 years after their ancestors were stripped of Japanese citizenship).

Essentially, Japan does not recognize denizenship. This was underscored during recent debates on granting local suffrage rights to permanent residents (gaikokujin sanseiken). Opposition politicians stated clearly: If foreigners want the right to vote, they should naturalize.

Sadly, steps to humanize the debate, by incorporating the perspectives of long-term residents themselves, were not taken, creating a tautology of disenfranchisement. The antireformers eventually won the debate, retrenching the binary between “foreigner” and “citizen” and obscuring the gray zones of long-term residency.

There are long-standing systemic issues behind this entrenchment. As Kashiwazaki notes: “The system of naturalization is not designed to transform foreign nationals promptly into Japanese nationals. Restriction on naturalization corresponds to the government’s stance on border control, namely that Japan does not admit immigration for the purpose of permanent settlement.”

As discussed on these pages numerous times, the firewall keeping foreigners from ever becoming settlers is maintained by Japan’s revolving-door visa regimes, strict punishments for even slight administrative infractions that “reset the visa clock,” and a permanent “police the foreigners” credo from a Justice Ministry not configured for immigration or integration.

This has a long history. As Japan’s “Immigration Bureau” has argued repeatedly after it designed the postwar rules on any foreign influx (here in 1959): “Since Japan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, policies of controlling both population growth and immigration are strongly called for. It should therefore be a government policy to severely restrict the entry of foreigners into Japan. Particularly because there are undesirable foreigners who would threaten the lives of Japanese nationals by criminal activity and immoral conduct.”

After a high water mark of “internationalization” in the 1990s, Japan’s conservatives in the 2000s (backed up by periodic official “foreign crime” and “visa overstayer” campaigns to scare the public) managed to stem the tide of liberalization seen in other advanced democracies, turning Japan into an immigration Galapagos increasingly reactionary towards outsiders — even as demographics force Japan’s decline.

Like the people it represents, denizenship as a concept remains invisible within Japan’s public discourse, oblivious to how foreigners actually live in Japan. Categorically, people are either gaikokujin or nihonjin. Rarely if ever are the former termed eijūsha, eijū shimin, imin or ijūsha (immigrants).

Let’s tweak the terms of debate. If you’re planning on living in Japan indefinitely, I suggest you get your neighbors warmed up to the fact that you as a non-Japanese (let’s at least avoid the dislocated, transient trappings of the generic word “foreigner”) are not merely gaikokujin. You are jūmin (residents). And as of 2012, most of you now have a jūminhyō (residency certificate) to prove it.

Then spread the word through the grass roots, such as they are. Upgrade your status and mollify the binary. Or else you’ll just be stuck in a rhetorical limbo as something temporary and in transit. Not good for you, not good for Japan.

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

Debito’s most recent publication is “Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance” in The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus (japanfocus.org/site/view/3907) Twitter: @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Pages of the month. Comments: community@japantimes.co.jp.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 31, 2013

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 31, 2013

Table of Contents:
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THE UGLY SIDE OF JAPAN’S RIGHTWARD SHIFT (1): BIGOTRY AND HATRED

1) Feb 9 2013 Tokyo Shin-Ohkubo Anti-Korean demonstrator slogans: “Good or Bad, Kill All Koreans” etc.
2) Letters from J human rights groups to the visiting Olympic Committee re Tokyo 2020: Discrimination in Japan violates IOC Charter
3) My latest academic paper on Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus: “Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance”

4) Interesting cases: naturalized Japanese sues city councilor fiance who jilted her for Korean ethnicity, Pakistani parents file criminal complaint for injurious school bullying, Hatoyama Yukio officially called “traitor” for not toeing official party line on Senkaku/Nanjing issues

THE UGLY SIDE OF JAPAN’S RIGHTWARD SHIFT (2): ELITE DOMINANCE AND INSULARITY

5) Prof. Kashiwazaki Chikako: Japan’s Nationality Law and immigration policy deviates from current international legal norm
6) SITYS: GOJ’s new “Points System” to attract “higher-skilled” NJ being reviewed due to dearth of applications, impossibly high hurdles
7) JT/Kyodo: Record high applicants for J refugee status. Why media fixation on refugees? Because they are a bellwether of Japan’s “legitimacy as a competent, advanced, Western democracy”
8 ) Asahi: Business leaders call for law to allow firing of workers without justification: i.e., the gaijinization of all workplaces
9) JT on “Kyakkan Setsu vs. Nibun Setsu”: Grey zones in compensation for “work hours” in Japan

… and finally…

10) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 61 March 5, 2013: “Child’s quibble with U.S. ‘poverty superpower’ propaganda unravels a sobering story about insular Japan”

PLUS bonus follow-up:
11) Tangent: Tsutsumi Mika’s crooked Jewish character “Goldberg” in her “USA Poverty Superpower” manga.

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By ARUDOU, Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, twitter arudoudebito)
Freely Forwardable

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THE UGLY SIDE OF JAPAN’S RIGHTWARD SHIFT (1): BIGOTRY AND HATRED

1) Feb 9 2013 Tokyo Shin-Ohkubo Anti-Korean demonstrator slogans: “Good or Bad, Kill All Koreans” etc.

It was only a matter of time. Debito.org has reported on anti-NJ demonstrations in the past (start here). And after the Takeshima/Dokdo Islands dispute, public displays of xenophobic hatred by Japan’s strengthening Right Wing has been increasingly directed towards Zainichi Koreans in their Tokyo neighborhoods (see here).

Now comes the next step: Public demonstrations advocating violence and death, marching through an ethnic Korean neighborhood in Tokyo for maximum effect and impact. They are happening. Check out these photos of demonstrator signs, taken February 9, 2013, courtesy of a human rights lawyer and used with permission. Here is a video of that demonstration, taken in Shin-Okubo along Meiji Doori and Ohkubo-Doori on February 9, 2013:

COMMENT: “KOREANS: HANG YOURSELVES, DRINK POISON, LEAP TO YOUR DEATHS.” “GOOD OR BAD, KILL ALL KOREANS.” At this rate, it is only a matter of time before these threats of violence become real. Still holding out hope that “Japan is a peaceful, nonviolent society” and is therefore somehow exceptional? Heed this warning: People are people anywhere you go, and when encouraged in this way to resort to violence, eventually there will be blood. Time to wake up and recognize what is happening in Japan before it is too late.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11234

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2) Letters from J human rights groups to the visiting Olympic Committee re Tokyo 2020: Discrimination in Japan violates IOC Charter

The International Olympic Committee is currently in Japan considering Tokyo as a venue for the 2020 Summer Games. In light of recent events that point to clear examples of discrimination and advocacy of violence towards, for example, Koreans (see below), human rights groups in Japan are advocating that the IOC understand that these actions violate the Olympic Charter and choose their venue accordingly. Articles, photos, and letters follow from the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (Nichibenren), Tanaka Hiroshi in the Mainichi Shinbun, and sources demonstrating that, for example, all GOJ educational subsidies for Korean ethnic schools have been eliminated as of 2013 from government budgets.

Academic Tessa Morris-Suzuki might agree with the assessment of rising discrimination, as she documents on academic website Japan Focus the protection of xenophobic Rightists and the police harassment of their liberal opponents. Her conclusion: “But there is no rule of law if the instigators of violence are left to peddle hatred with impunity, while those who pursue historical justice and responsibility are subject to police harassment. There is no respect for human rights where those in power use cyber bullying in an attempt to silence their opponents. And democracy is left impoverished when freedom of hate speech is protected more zealously than freedom of reasoned political debate.” Have a look.

SITYS. This is yet but another example of Japan’s clear and dangerous swing to the Right under PM Abe. And granting an Olympics to this regime despite all of this merely legitimize these tendencies, demonstrating that Japan will be held to a different standard regarding discrimination. Wake up, IOC.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11240

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3) My latest academic paper on Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus: “Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance”

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 9, No. 3, March 4, 2013.
Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance
By Arudou Debito
ABSTRACT
Japan’s swing to the right in the December 2012 Lower House election placed three-quarters of the seats in the hands of conservative parties. The result should come as no surprise. This political movement not only capitalized on a putative external threat generated by recent international territorial disputes (with China/Taiwan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and with South Korea over Takeshima/Dokdo islands). It also rode a xenophobic wave during the 2000s, strengthened by fringe opposition to reformers seeking to give non-Japanese more rights in Japanese politics and society.

This article traces the arc of that xenophobic trajectory by focusing on three significant events: The defeat in the mid-2000s of a national “Protection of Human Rights” bill (jinken yōgo hōan); Tottori Prefecture’s Human Rights Ordinance of 2005 that was passed on a local level and then rescinded; and the resounding defeat of proponents of local suffrage for non-citizens (gaikokujin sanseiken) between 2009-11. The article concludes that these developments have perpetuated the unconstitutional status quo of a nation with no laws against racial discrimination in Japan.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11273

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4) Interesting cases: naturalized Japanese sues city councilor fiance who jilted her for Korean ethnicity, Pakistani parents file criminal complaint for injurious school bullying, Hatoyama Yukio officially called “traitor” for not toeing official party line on Senkaku/Nanjing issues

Here are a couple of interesting cases that have fallen through the cracks recently, what with all the higher-level geopolitical flurry and consequent hate speech garnering so much attention. With not much to link them thematically except that these are complaints made into public disputes, let me combine them into one blog post and let them stand for themselves as bellwethers of the times.

First up, we have a criminal complaint filed with the police for classroom bullying resulting in serious injury due to his Pakistani ethnicity. This is one of a long line of cases of ethnic bullying in Japan, once again with insufficient intervention by authorities, and we’re lucky this time it hasn’t resulted yet in PTSD or a suicide. Like it has in these cases here with an ethnic Chinese schoolgirl, with an Indian student in 2007, or a Filipina-Japanese student in 2010 (in the last case NHK neglected to mention ethnicity as an issue). Of course, even here the Mainichi declines to give the name of the school involved. Whatever happened to perennial promises of a “major bullying study” at the ministerial level a couple of years ago to prevent things like this? Or of grassroots NGO actions way back when?

Next, here’s an article about a victim fighting back. We have a thirty-something city councilor (in another unnamed local government in Hyougo-Ken) who proposed (in writing) to a woman (now 28, who accepted), then broke it off as soon as he heard that she was a Japanese citizen with a Zainichi Korean grandfather (horrors — how that might damage his political career!, he said). So in October of last year (appearing in an article dated January 28, 2013), she sued him for 2.4 million yen. Stay tuned. Interesting to see if the outcome will indicate how, once again, naturalization still doesn’t make a former NJ a “real Japanese” in elite society’s eyes:

And finally, courtesy of japanCRUSH last January, we have this interesting titbit: “Japanese defense minister Onodera Itsunori is the latest politician to enter the fray by calling former prime minister Hatoyama Yukio a ‘traitor’ on a television programme. Onodera’s remark came after Hatoyama commented to Chinese officials that the Senkaku Islands should be recognised as disputed territory, rather than Japanese territory, during his trip to China. Interestingly, Hatoyama caused further controversy this week when he apologised for the Nanjing massacre.”

So this is what it’s coming to. Dissent from prominent Japanese (who, in Hatoyama’s case, are no longer even political representatives) who act on their conscience, deviate from the saber-rattling party line, and show any efforts at reconciliation in this era of regional brinkmanship get decried as “traitors”. Doesn’t seem like there is much space for tolerance of moderate or diverse views (or people) anymore.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11117

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THE UGLY SIDE OF JAPAN’S RIGHTWARD SHIFT (2): ELITE DOMINANCE AND INSULARITY

5) Prof. Kashiwazaki Chikako: Japan’s Nationality Law and immigration policy deviates from current international legal norm

Over the years I have gotten from many corners (particularly from people who have not researched things too deeply) how “jus sanguinis” (law of blood) requirements for Japanese citizenship are not all that far from the international norm, and how Japan’s Nationality Law (which requires blood ties to a Japanese citizen for conferral of Japanese nationality) is but one example of many in the community of nations that confer nationality/citizenship by blood.

Well, I knew both from experience and in my gut that there was something wrong with that. I felt that Japan’s method of conferring nationality/citizenship was quite specially exclusive (for example, we’ve had half a million Zainichi former citizens of Empire excluded from full “Denizenship” (see below) in Japanese society for three Postwar generations now, and only a tiny number of people becoming naturalized Japanese citizens every year). This exclusion (which every nation does when deciding national membership, but…) has been done in ways unbecoming of a country with the reputation of being a legitimate, competent, advanced Western democracy — one Japan has had since its emergence as a “rich society” in the 1980s — and thus expected to take on a greater role in international cooperation (such as acceptance of refugees) by accepting international legal norms (such as signing and enforcing international treaties).

Now I’ve found something in writing from someone who HAS researched things deeply, Prof. Kashiwazaki Chikako at Keio, and she too finds that Japan’s policies towards the outside world are outside the international norm. Excerpts from one of her writings follows:

Conclusion: It has never been policy in Japan, despite all the promises we heard in the “Kokusaika” 1980s about “getting in, making the effort to work hard in Japanese companies, learning the language and culture, and ultimately becoming Japanese like everyone else”, to let immigrants stay or make it easier for them to stay. So it’s not going to happen (no matter what recent flawed GOJ Cabinet opinion polls claim about the public’s “no longer rejecting” NJ), because of official government policy not to let people settle, and because policymakers don’t trust foreigners to ever be “Japanese”…

http://www.debito.org/?p=11260

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6) SITYS: GOJ’s new “Points System” to attract “higher-skilled” NJ being reviewed due to dearth of applications, impossibly high hurdles

Asahi: A policy initiative designed to encourage highly skilled foreign professionals to come and stay in Japan is not working out as the Justice Ministry had envisioned. In fact, the point-based system has proved so unpopular that it is being reviewed only a year after it was introduced. […] According to the Justice Ministry, less than 1,000 will likely be certified in the initial year, compared with 2,000 that officials had expected.

COMMENT: We’ve talked about Japan’s “Points System” before on Debito.org, where I took a dim view of it as just another “revolving door” labor visa regime to bring people over, leech off their prime working lives, and then boot them back home without letting them settle and reap the rewards for contributing to Japanese society (cf. the “Trainees”, the “Nikkei Returnees”, and the “foreign caregivers“, all of whom I have written about for the Japan Times). Well, now, in yet another episode of SITYS (“See I Told You So”), Asahi reports the “Points System” is going through similar “revisions” as the visa scams above due to a dearth of applications. As I thought would happen — the PS’s qualifying hurdles are simply too high. Even if one assumes good faith in Japan’s policymakers (some of whom do see the slow-motion demographic disaster in progress due to crushing public debt unsupportable by a society that is shrinking and aging) who might want to treat “foreign laborers” as people, Japan’s bureaucrats are so paranoid about NJ somehow “abusing” the system that they make it practically impossible for anyone to ever “use” the system to their benefit. Again, the GOJ keep wanting “workers” and discover to their surprise later that they imported “people”, with livelihood needs beyond mere work hours converted into “the privilege of living in Japan”. These policy failures will keep happening again and again until NJ are treated as “people”, and given a fair chance by the GOJ at becoming “Japanese” (with transfers of political, economic, and social power — and that includes input at the policymaking stage too). But I still don’t see that happening anytime soon.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11300

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7) JT/Kyodo: Record high applicants for J refugee status. Why media fixation on refugees? Because they are a bellwether of Japan’s “legitimacy as a competent, advanced, Western democracy”

Making national news whenever statistics come out is how Japan deals with (i.e., mostly rejects) refugees. I was always curious about why refugee numbers have always been considered newsworthy (when there are many other significant NJ-related statistics that merit more fanfare but don’t, such as the number of “Newcomers” with Permanent Residency overtaking the “Oldcomer” Zainichis with Special Permanent Residency in 2007, representing a sea change in the composition of permanent immigrant NJs in Japan). But then I found something in an academic writing that put things in perspective: Acceptance of refugees are one bellwether of Japan’s acceptance of international norms, as part of its “greater role in international cooperation” and an attempt “to increase its legitimacy as a competent, advanced Western democracy”. First the most recent news article, then the academic article to put it in perspective:

Kyodo: In 2011, there were 21 foreigners recognized as refugees, but for 2012, the number fell to 18. Since Japan began its refugee recognition system in 1982, there have been 14,299 people who applied and 616 who were recognized as refugees.

Kashiwazaki: Since the mid-1970s, Japan has come into prominence in the international arena as a major player in the world economy. Internationalization became a slogan for the new direction of the country, with demands from both within and abroad to open, to take a leadership role, and to assume international responsibility. For the Japanese government, successful economic development provided the opportunity to assume a greater role in international cooperation and to increase its legitimacy as a competent, advanced Western democracy. To do so would require accepting an emerging set of international legal norms, including those in the area of citizenship…

The end of the Vietnam War in 1975 generated refugees from Indochina. In the same year, the G7 Summit meeting was established. As the only Asian country admitted to membership in the G7 Summit, Japan was obliged to take some steps to accommodate refugees… With the acceptance of refugees, the Japanese government was compelled to join relevant international conventions. Japan acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural, Rights in 1979, and then ratified the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees in 1981.

COMMENT: Japan basically only acceded to these international norms and agreements as a vanity project — a matter of “not looking like an outlier” in the international community. Not because policymakers had any good-faith interest in helping NJ or outsiders in need come to Japan and settle. That’s why we see honne hiccoughs from time to time (like the one in 2010 when a 78-year-old Zainichi granny was denied social welfare by Oita Prefectural Government — where a court ruled that “Welfare payments to non-citizens would be a form of charity”. So much for those international treaties guaranteeing equal treatment being respected by Japan’s judiciary!). We’ve also seen how Japan simply will not pass a law against racial discrimination (despite signing another international agreement, the UN CERD, in 1995) — and will in fact counteract anyone who does. So in this context, Kyodo’s reporting that “since Japan began its refugee recognition system in 1982, there have been 14,299 people who applied and 616 who were recognized as refugees,” should come as no surprise. The GOJ has no intention of keeping its international treaty promises. They are merely national self-esteem boosters, not real guidelines or goals.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11282

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8 ) Asahi: Business leaders call for law to allow firing of workers without justification: i.e., the gaijinization of all workplaces

Asahi: Business leaders at a government panel have proposed that employers in Japan be allowed to fire workers at their discretion as a way to improve the nation’s economic growth. Members of the Industrial Competitiveness Council called March 15 for rules that will, in principle, allow employers to dismiss regular employees freely if the workers are compensated with “re-employment support.” The council is chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

COMMENT: Debito.org has previously discussed the curious phenomenon of “Gaijin as Guinea Pig”, where future reforms that put the general public at a disadvantage to the elite are first tested out and normalized through application on Japan’s foreigners. For example, “Academic Apartheid” (the practice of contracting all NJ educators while granting Japanese educators tenure from day one in Japan’s higher education system) gave way to contract employment for every educator in 1997. More examples here. Now according to the Asahi we have the previous legally-enshrined practice of making all workers (roudousha) protected by Japan’s labor laws being chipped away at. Previously seen in the labor-law exemption given NJ workers under “Trainee” Visas (e.g., foreign factory workers, farm laborers, caregivers), we are now seeing a similar push to exempt all Japanese workers from labor law protections. Japan hopes to make themselves more attractive to international labor migration when they’re in process of making an exploitative labor market even more so, for everybody? Again, deserves to be known about.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11308

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9) JT on “Kyakkan Setsu vs. Nibun Setsu”: Grey zones in compensation for “work hours” in Japan

As our last post talked about labor law issues (and the proposal to abridge Labor Standards in favor of greater “flexibility” to dismiss labor without reasons), here’s an important article that came out in the Japan Times last December that I was waiting to get to, discussing issues once again of employer power over employees: When is a person under the authority of his or her employer, deserving compensation as “work time”? Okunuki talks about important cases in a very enlightening article about just how grey “work hours” are, and underscoring how powerless Japanese employees are regarding all that overtime going unpaid — how many people take things to court or to labor unions to fight under this precedent, or are even aware of “kyakkan setsu vs. nibun setsu”?. And the proposal we discussed last blog entry is to give even more power to employers?

JT: The Labor Standards Law sidesteps a proper definition, and labor law scholars fall into two camps over how a work hour should be defined. One subscribes to what is known as kyakkan-setsu, roughly translating as “objective theory.” This camp argues that work hours are the entire time during which the employee can objectively be considered to be under the authority of her or his employer.

The nibun-setsu (two-part theory) camp, on the other hand, splits work hours into “core” and “peripheral” work hours, with the status of the latter gray area between strictly defined work hours and break time to be determined through agreement between the employer and employed.

The gold standard in case law regarding work hours is the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki Shipyard case. The Supreme Court’s Petty Bench on March 9, 2000, rejected outright the nibun-setsu approach and backed the kyakkan-setsu interpretation. Let’s examine the case.

http://www.debito.org/?p=10918

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… and finally…

10) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 61 March 5, 2013: “Child’s quibble with U.S. ‘poverty superpower’ propaganda unravels a sobering story about insular Japan”

JT JBC: Last November, a reader in Hokkaido named Stephanie sent me an article read in Japan’s elementary schools. Featured in a sixth-grader magazine called Chagurin (from “child agricultural green”) dated December 2012, it was titled “Children of America, the Poverty Superpower” (Hinkon Taikoku Amerika no Kodomotachi), offering a sprawling review of America’s social problems.

Its seven pages in tabloid format (see debito.org/?p=10806) led with headlines such as: “Is it true that there are more and more people without homes?” “Is it true that if you get sick you can’t go to hospital?” and “Is it true that the poorer an area you’re in, the fatter the children are?”

Answers described how 1 out of 7 Americans live below the poverty line, how evicted homeless people live in tent cities found “in any town park,” how poverty correlates with child obesity due to cheap junk food, how bankruptcies are widespread due to the world’s highest medical costs (e.g., one tooth filling costs ¥150,000), how education is undermined by “the evils (heigai) of evaluating teachers only by test scores,” and so on.

For greater impact, included were photos of a tent city, a fat lady — even a kid with rotten-looking picket-fence teeth. These images served to buttress spiraling daisy chains of logic: “As your teeth get worse, your bite becomes bad, your body condition gets worse and your school studies suffer. After that, you can’t pass a job interview and you become stuck in poverty.”

The article’s concluding question: “What can we do so we don’t become like America?”…

http://www.debito.org/?p=11245

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PLUS bonus follow-up:
11) Tangent: Tsutsumi Mika’s crooked Jewish character “Goldberg” in her “USA Poverty Superpower” manga.

I’ve devoted a couple of blog entries (here and here) plus a Japan Times column to propagandizing journalist Tsutsumi Mika, who has had her “Poverty Superpower of America” book series adapted for Japanese grade-school audiences nationwide and a manga-reading Japanese public.

I’ve already gone into detail elsewhere about the latent journalistic problems with her reportage (not the least the outright falsification of evidence), and the implicit ironies involved with her demonizing a foreign society as a cautionary tale to audiences without sufficient training in comparative cultural study and critical thinking.

Now here’s another irony, sent to me by a friend who wishes to remain anonymous. Further inspection of Tsutsumi’s works reveals an odd attitude towards Jews. Consider this excerpt from her “Poverty Superpower of America” manga, courtesy of Amazon Japan: Here we have a Jew named “David Goldberg” from a financial agency selling bogus house loans to an immigrant Mexican family before the whole US derivatives crisis. Goldberg announces himself as “the ally of the weak” before destroying all of their hopes and dreams.

I wonder what the Jewish anti-defamation leagues would make of Tsutsumi’s Jewish crook? The American Embassy (unlike the Japanese Embassy) is pretty lackadaisical about how the US is portrayed in Japan’s media. But I doubt, say, the Simon Wiesenthal Center would be.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11252

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That’s all for this month. Thanks for reading!

ARUDOU, Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, twitter arudoudebito)
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 31, 2013 ENDS