BLOG BIZ: Vacationing Debito.org for a few weeks for the Summer

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Hi Blog.  It’s that time of the year again in the Northern Hemisphere, when people are supposed to go out and enjoy the delightful (if hot) weather (or in any case take a vacation).  I’ll do the same for Debito.org for a few weeks (excepting the days my next Japan Times JBC column comes out).  I’ll be a little slow on approving comments, so please be patient.  Enjoy the rest of August and into September!  Arudou Debito

Summer Tangent: Korea Times on racial discrimination in South Korea: Striking parallels with Japan

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I’m about to vacation the blog for a few weeks for the summer, but before I do, here’s some food for thought about the debate on discrimination in this part of the world.  Contrast the Korea Times article below about racial discrimination in South Korea with any article about racial discrimination in Japan.  I see striking parallels, especially given my experience as a naturalized Caucasian Japanese myself.  The debate in South Korea seems to be falling into similar mental traps and policy-level blind spots.

(And in case you’re wondering, no, sorry, I’m not going to engage “Japan Lite” columnist Amy Chavez’s recent ill-considered column on racial discrimination; she essentially makes the argument that we “foreigners” should stop acting like “spoiled children”, and instead essentially be grateful for being discriminated against as minorities in Japan — as it will give us “compassion” for the plight of minorities in our “home countries” (as opposed to insights on how to prevent discrimination happening to our friends and children in Japan).  I’m avoiding it for the same reason I didn’t engage columnist Gregory Clark back in 2009 when he claimed that “antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people”  (also because Chavez has a history of writing silly racialized columns like this one in 2009).  It just seems that everyone has an opinion about “racism” and “discrimination”, but few have either the training or the insight for how to deal with it in ways that don’t simply reflect their biases arising from their position in society (something CRT calls “structural determinism“).  In Chavez’s case, her argument (which she unsophisticatedly tries to apply universally to “we foreigners”), has simply become a self-loathing expression of her White Guilt; I’ll let others such as Black Tokyo or Loco in Yokohama take that issue on with more verve and insight (as Black Tokyo did Clark)).

Anyway, back to the article, for some real insights.  Arudou Debito

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Are we bigots?
Foreigners say Koreans biased against blacks
By Jonathan Breen. The Korea Times 2013-07-16
http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2013/07/116_139377.html
Courtesy of TKS

Alex, an Ethiopian by birth, is a naturalized Korean, so he was shocked when a bar in Seoul refused him entry because of the color of his skin.

“I went to a bar in Itaewon and they said, ‘Sorry, we don’t want any blacks,’” said the 31-year-old, who asked to be identified only by his first name. “I showed them my I.D. card to show them I am a Korean, but they said no.

“Koreans don’t think there is a lot of discrimination in Korea, but there is,” he said.

Four years ago Indian professor Bonojit Hussain won a landmark case in a Seoul court for racial abuse. The incident led to the introduction of legislation to ban discrimination based on race or nationality, but the bills have stalled in the National Assembly.

But is xenophobia a widespread problem or is it exaggerated based on a few well-publicized incidents?

Sabine Etienne, a black American exchange student in Korea, is writing a thesis on Korea’s immigration policy. “Xenophobia is definitely an issue in Korea, it is an issue of acceptance,” she said. “The process of becoming a citizen is very long and hard and I think foreigners never feel like they are on the same level as Koreans.”

Despite this, there are several high-profile examples of foreigners who have found acceptance as naturalized Koreans, including the Philippines-born lawmaker Jasmine Lee and German-born Lee Charm, the current head of the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO).

Lee, whose birth name was Bernhard Quandt, became a Korean citizen in 1986. On becoming KTO chief in 2009 he said, “I am so deeply moved that I’ve been finally accepted as a Korean. All my regrets about naturalizing have vanished.”

However, Alex, who is married to a Korean, complains about a lack of acceptance from Koreans, including from his wife’s family.

“My wife’s family didn’t accept me at first, now they are saying they are more open, but it is still tough. We see them one maybe two times a year. It is not like family,” he said.

Alex added that he has decided to postpone having children because of the hostility he has experienced in Korea. “Until I see change I don’t want to have kids.”

In a report submitted to the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in 2003, the Korean government explained that the “homogeneity of the Korean people and the relative lack of multiethnic experiences have been conducive to prejudice against foreign cultures and people.”

But Hyung-il Pai, a professor of Korean history at the University of California, argues in her book, “Constructing ‘Korean’ Origins,” that the idea of a pure Korean race is a myth constructed by Japanese colonial scholars and Korean nationalists.

The archaeological record actually shows that Korea’s historical development reflected diverse influences from throughout Northeast Asia.

Nonetheless, “Race as the basic unit of analysis in Korean history was the pedestal on which the nation was built. Race or blood was considered the most critical factor in Korean identity formation,” she explained about modern Korean attitudes on history.

These views have become accepted wisdom among Koreans. “I think there has only been one race in Korea, and we have a long history ― we were very closed off for a long time,” said Jun Dae-un, a student.

“Korea didn’t attack other people, they were always attacked by other countries. That is why Koreans are not very open-minded to foreigners, we think ― ‘they can steal my things, my jobs, my chances,’” he said.

Korea’s isolation from most of the rest of the world during the Joseon Kingdom has contributed to the belief that Korea is a cultural and racial homogenous society.

“We opened to other countries quite late. It was late compared, for example, to Japan or China. So we are not used to seeing foreigners,” said Charyong, a painter, who wants to be identified only by her first name.

“And we kind of believe this concept that says we are Han people, the Han race, like we are all the same blood, we are not mixed race, compared with Japan for example ― Japan is very mixed race. People believe we are all one race, one blood,” she said.

“That is an underlying concept ― people are not thinking about it all the time ― but it is the basis for our culture, so when we see foreigners we think they are different. We notice the difference, we notice that they are not the same,” she continued.

Some believe that discrimination against foreigners is also based on a mixture of racial and class prejudices.

“The extent of xenophobia is heightened among foreign migrant workers who have darker skin colors because they are easily identified,” said Rev. Frank Hernando from the Presbyterian Church in Korea. “And (they) are perceived by Koreans as coming from very poor economic and social backgrounds.”

He said that Filipino migrant workers are often subject to verbal and physical abuse and sexual harassment in the workplace because of these attitudes.

Other foreigners also spoke of their economic background as a cause for Korean discrimination.

“Koreans don’t like people from countries with worse economic situations than their own,” said Shylean Ghosh, an Indian worker at a garment factory in Uijeongbu. “If you are from America they like you, if you are from somewhere like India, like me, even if you have a lot of money they look down on you. If you are from America but have no money, they still don’t look down on you.”

Kim Padernal, a Filipino embassy driver in Seoul, said, “Koreans think they are better than us, because Korea is a progressive, successful economy, and the Philippines is poorer.”

Artist Charyong said Koreans don’t think of migrant workers as equals. “People think their (migrants’) country must be worse than Korea, because they are here working, and they work for what is so little money.” She added that Americans have a more positive image because of their help and support during the Korean War and their long-term presence in the country as a result.

Shin Gi-Wook, a professor of sociology at Stanford University, California, feels Korean attitudes toward foreigners are “hierarchical.”

“Korean racism is hierarchical in the sense that Koreans view white Caucasians more positively than Southeast Asians,” he said. “Koreans are not used to living with different ethnic or racial groups but with the influx of migrant labor and foreign brides, Koreans need to learn (to live) with ethnic non-Koreans.”

Kim Doo-nyeon, a law professor at Jungwon Univeristy, blames the local media for, spreading feelings of xenophobia.

“There is a tendency in the media to assume and exaggerate foreigners or illegal immigrants as future criminals,” he said. “The media is very responsible for xenophobia in Korea. They must stop producing news that is going to make people hate foreigners.”

Charyong added, “When people see something they don’t know it is often their first reaction to defend themselves from it because they don’t know what it is.

“I think the solution is more exposure to foreign culture.”

END

Japan’s “hate speech” debate proceeds apace, but not sinking in, according to university survey cited in Mainichi

mytest

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Hi Blog. After the now-famous incidents (fortunately) earlier this year of the “Kill All Koreans” march in Tokyo and the “Tsuruhashi Korean massacre” speech in Osaka, hate speech has become a topic for discussion in Japan’s media. Here are some examples (courtesy MS, click on image to expand in browser):

nikkansports041513
Nikkan Sports April 15, 2013

chuunichishinbun051013
Chunichi Shinbun May 10, 2013.

NikkanGendai13Aug13
Nikkan Gendai August 13, 2013.

And here’s one from Yuukan Fuji, July 6, 2013, with the view for bad-mouthing Koreans:
YukanFuji070613

Good. Have the debate, good, bad, and ugly.  That said, it doesn’t seem to be making much of an impact, according to the Mainichi:

///////////////////////////////////////////////
The Hate Speech Problem: More than 60% don’t know about it, according to an awareness survey of college students.
Mainichi Shinbun, Aug 8, 2013, translation by Arudou Debito (corrections as always welcome)

In the wake of public demonstrations in places including Tokyo and Osaka displaying hate speech towards Zainichi Koreans, about 1000 students in Osaka area universities were surveyed for their awareness of the problem. It was revealed that more than 60% did not know about the hate speech.

Touyou University Department of Sociology’s Izawa Yasuki, who carried out this survey, analyzed the results as follows: “It could be said that many young people have no idea how they should take in the problems of Asia, because they were not given the materials to discern these things during their primary and secondary education,” noting the significant number of people who did not answer the survey at all.

The survey was also carried out by Zainichi Korean youth leagues headquartered in Osaka during June and July. It mainly surveyed youths in Tokyo and Osaka between the ages of 18 to 23, with 1014 responses.

According to this, the students who knew about the hate speech problem totaled 35%. When asked about what they thought about it, over 70% replied that “they should absolutely desist” or “it’s undesirable”, while 10.3% said they thought nothing of it and 7.4% said they felt the same way as the hate speechers.

In addition, more than 70% replied that then had no Zainichi Korean friends. Also, more than 70% indicated that they felt that their school instruction in modern Asia/Japanese history was insufficient.

[last paragraph untranslated because it’s not really relevant or scientifically significant]
//////////////////////////////////////////////////

ヘイトスピーチ問題:6割以上知らず…大学生ら意識調査
毎日新聞 2013年08月08日
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130808-00000084-mai-soci

東京や大阪などで在日コリアン排斥などを掲げる「ヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)」デモなどを巡り、大都市圏の大学生ら約1000人に意識調査をしたところ、6割以上がヘイトスピーチの問題を知らなかったことが分かった。無回答も目立ったといい、調査を実施した東洋大社会学部の井沢泰樹教授(教育社会学)は「多くの若者はアジアの問題をどう受け止めるべきか、判断できる材料を(学校教育の中で)与えられてこなかったのではないか」と分析する。

調査は在日コリアン青年連合(事務局・大阪)と共同で6〜7月に実施。東京、大阪などの18〜23歳を中心に計1014人が回答した。

それによると、ヘイトスピーチの問題を知っていたのは全体の35%。どう思うかを聞いたところ、「絶対やめるべきだ」「よくないと思う」の合計が7割を超えたが、「何とも思わない」(10.3%)、「共感する」(7.4%)との回答もあった。

また、全体の約7割が身近に在日コリアンの友人や知人はいないと回答。日本とアジアの近現代史を巡る学校での歴史教育について、7割超が「不足」と感じていた。

一方、17〜39歳の在日コリアン91人にも調査を実施。ヘイトスピーチを知る前後での変化を問う設問では、同じ在日の友人を求めるようになった(8人)▽日本人が怖くなった(7人)▽在日と知られるのを避けるようになった(6人)−−などの回答が並んだ。【小泉大士】

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

COMMENT: Although surveys like these are generally easy to poke holes in methodologically (I skipped translating the last paragraph because, for example, the sample size was too small), I think that we can still broach a conversation here about how hate speech (even examples of it advocating murder and massacre) should be registering more of a shock within “peaceful Japan” than it apparently is. Of course, we can say that college students as a survey sample are more interested in playing video games, drinking and getting laid than soaking in the news. But when something is REALLY shocking in Japan, there’s enough carpet-bombing media debate on it that it certainly appeared in my college classrooms, and I doubt that has happened in this case. What do others think? I offer no clear conclusions on this case in point, so I put it under “Discussions” for looser moderation. Arudou Debito

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 66: “Ol’ blue eyes isn’t back: Tsurunen’s tale offers lessons in microcosm for DPJ”, Aug 5, 2013

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Hi Blog. Thanks for making my article once again one of the top-read articles on the day of publication!  Arudou Debito

justbecauseicon.jpg
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Ol’ blue eyes isn’t back: Tsurunen’s tale offers lessons in microcosm for DPJ
By ARUDOU Debito
JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 66 FOR THE JAPAN TIMES COMMUNITY PAGE
August 6, 2013
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/08/05/issues/ol-blue-eyes-isnt-back-tsurunens-tale-offers-lessons-in-microcosm-for-dpj/
Version with links to sources

Spare a thought for Marutei Tsurunen, Japan’s first European-born naturalized immigrant parliamentarian. He was voted out in last month’s House of Councilors election.

You might think I’d call it tragic. No. It was a comeuppance.

It needn’t have turned out this way. Squeaking into a seat by default in 2001, Tsurunen was later reelected in 2007 with a reaffirming mandate of 242,740 proportional representation votes, sixth in his party. Last month, however, he lost badly, coming in 12th with only 82,858.

For a man who could have demonstrated what immigrants (particularly our visible minorities) can do in Japan, it was an ignominious exit — so unremarkable that the Asahi Shimbun didn’t even report it among 63 “noteworthy” campaigns.

However, Tsurunen offers lessons in microcosm for his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), and on why Japan’s left wing was so spectacularly trounced in the last two elections.

Tsurunen became an MP partly because, as a Caucasian Newcomer, he offered protest voters something different (even visibly) from established expectations. But he wasn’t a sphinx. He said he would speak up for outsiders, promote intercultural tolerance, and support laws banning discrimination in housing and employment (New York Times, Mar. 8, 2002).

However, mere months later he distanced himself from “foreigner issues.” In a 2002 interview, he told me that his basic policy was to hitch his fortunes to the DPJ. Quote:

“There will be cases, such as international problems, where… I will have to vote along party lines, even if it is at odds with my personal convictions… After all, if I don’t follow party discipline, I will be expelled from the party. Then I won’t be able to do my job. I will maintain my ability to say my own opinion, but at important times I will be a party man. That’s how I stand.”

That’s not much of a stand. Yet as the DPJ’s fortunes rose to become a viable ruling party, Tsurunen became more invisible.

Where was Tsurunen (or his staff) when the United Nations visited the Diet on May 18, 2006, presenting preliminary findings about racial discrimination in Japan?

When the DPJ took power and began presenting significant proposals enfranchising outsiders, such as suffrage for Permanent Residents and anti-discrimination laws, where was Tsurunen when opposition debates became racialized and xenophobic?

When bigoted politicians such as Shintaro Ishihara and Takeo Hiranuma began questioning the loyalty of Japanese with “foreign ancestors” (“Last gasps of Japan’s dying demagogues”, JBC May 4, 2010), why wasn’t Tsurunen standing up for himself? After all, if not him, who? (The most vocal protests were from Mizuho Fukushima, the leader of a different party altogether.)

Not only did Tsurunen fail to influence the debate, he even relinquished control over his own public narrative and identity.

He famously gaijinized himself in the Japan Times (“Mind the gap, get over it: Japan Hands,” Dec. 28, 2010) by calling himself a “foreigner,” and telling people to accept and work with their fate as permanent outsiders.

Despite some public backpedaling and capitulation, Tsurunen’s attitude never changed, and even after twelve years in office he never tried to transcend mere first impressions of being Japan’s First Gaijin MP.

As proof, check out one of his pamphlets shortly before this election, where he even metaphorically offered to “change the color of his (blue) eyes” (“me” no iro kaete, i.e., change his mind). Now that’s what I call racialized pandering!

tsurunenmarutei2013pamphletcrop

See full pamphlet at http://www.debito.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/tsurunenmarutei2013pamphlet.jpg

So in the end, what was Tsurunen’s agenda? Unclear, because he let others dictate it.

As did the DPJ. And that’s why they fell from power.

To give them some credit, Japan’s politics has entrenched difficulties for newcomers. The DPJ inherited a system corrupted by decades of LDP rule and patronage, firmly nestling Japan in now more than two “lost decades” of economic stagnation. Yet regime change was so inconceivable that the 2009 election had to popularize a new word in Japanese (seiken kōtai) to reflect a new party coming to power.

The DPJ also had the bad luck of the March 11, 2011 disasters happening on their watch. Given how badly Japan’s nuclear industry botched their job (plus refused to cooperate with the DPJ), this would spell doom for any party in power.

Nevertheless, here’s where the DPJ is culpable:

During its short time in power, the DPJ made some impressive policy proposals in very clear precedent-setting manifestos. The problem is that during the crucible of public debate, they didn’t stand by them.

The DPJ’s first major sign of fragility was their policy cave-in vis-à-vis the US Government over American bases in Okinawa (JBC, “Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy”, Jun. 1, 2010).

This eventually cost us our first DPJ prime minister, and gave glass jaws to future policy proposals sent into public policy brawls. Increased welfare services? Bogged down. Historical reconciliation with neighbors? Lame. Renewable energy? Nixed. Any other issues than border disputes? Weak.

Eventually, the DPJ could neither control their party narrative nor or set the public agenda. By the time PM Noda took charge, the electorate and the media were somehow convinced that a gridlocked Diet (due to the LDP’s machinations) was the DPJ’s fault!

Allowing the LDP to set the agenda is particularly fatal in a society that fixates on brands (and the LDP is THE default political brand of Postwar Japan), and generally roots for winners rather than underdogs. (After all, if the media is constantly telling you that the DPJ is going to lose, why would you waste your vote on them?)

Contrast this with how clear the LDP has been about their intentions over the past year, even if it includes erasing Postwar democratic liberalism.

This column argued last November (“If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on”) that Japan’s Right should show their true colors, so the electorate could decide if they wanted a Diet of historical revisionists, bigots, and xenophobes. The debate was indeed in technicolor. And last December, with the DPJ’s resounding electoral defeat, voters decided that xenophobia was okay with them.

Then this column argued last February (“Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan will suffer”) that if both Houses of Parliament went LDP in July, this would bring about radical constitutional revisions affecting civil liberties. Last month, voters apparently decided that was okay too. Thus a perfect storm of politics had completely routed Japan’s Left.

But many Leftists still deserved to lose their position in the Diet because they were too timid or disorganized to carve a space for themselves in Japan’s political narrative. We knew more about who they were not (the LDP), rather than who they were.

Similarly, Tsurunen will be remembered as a person with insufficient self-awareness of his role in Japanese politics. He openly called himself an “outsider,” then refused to fight for issues that concerned outsiders. Like Tsurunen, the DPJ ultimately accepted their fate as permanent outsiders.

So, barring an unlikely “no-confidence” vote, we have around three more years of LDP coalition rule. During this time in the political wilderness, Japan’s Left had better learn the power of controlling their own narrative, and grasp the fact that the party in power should set the terms of debate on public policy. If they ever want to be insiders again, seize the agenda accordingly.

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

Debito Arudou’s updated “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” is now available as a downloadable e-book on Amazon. See www.debito.org/handbook.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community pages of the month. Send comments and ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.
ENDS

Yomiuri on “Points System” visa: “Too strict”, few takers, under review by Justice Ministry (which institutionally will never be able to fix it)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  An attempted panacea to Japan’s lack of formal immigration policy floated many moons ago (and discussed here and here) was a “Points System” visa, here to bring “higher-skilled” workers (koudo jinzai).  I critiqued it for its probable failure in the Japan Times here.

The failure has officially happened.  Even the Justice Ministry admits below that the visa regime has attracted few people, and that, as Debito.org has reported before, is because its requirements are too strict.

But to me it’s no wonder it failed.  It’s not merely (as alluded below) an issue of criteria, but rather institutionalized treatment of immigrants.  We saw attitudes towards immigration last summer when ministries debated how immigrants should be treated, and cross-ministerial officials only weakly offered the same old hackneyed conclusions and lessons unlearned:  Privilege granted to Nikkei with the right bloodlines, more attention devoted to how to police NJ than how to make them into Japanese citizens (with their civil and human rights protected), insufficient concern given for assimilation and assistance once NJ come to Japan, and almost no consultation with the NJ who are already in Japan making a life as to what assistance they might need.

This is what happens when you put a people-handling policy solely in the hands of a policing agency (i.e., the Justice Ministry):  Those people being perpetually treated as potential criminals.  There is automatically less focus on what good these people will do and latent suspicion about what harm they might.  It doesn’t help when you also have an administrative regime trying to find any excuse possible to shorten visas and trip immigrants up to “reset the visa clock” for Permanent Residency, through minor administrative infractions (not to mention the fact that changing from your current visa to this “Points System” visa resets your “visa clock” once again).  It’s official ijiwaru, and without a separate ministry (i.e., an Imincho) specifically dedicated configuring immigration or integration into Japanese society, things will not be fixed.  Arudou Debito

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Few foreigners tempted by points system
August 7, 2013. The Yomiuri Shimbun, courtesy of JK
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000435956

A points-based preferential immigration system expected to attract 2,000 highly skilled foreign professionals to Japan annually accepted only 17 foreigners in its first 11 months, a dismal result that has prompted the government to review the criteria experts have blamed for the low number, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The system was adopted by the government last May to encourage skilled foreigners to take up residence in Japan and help boost Japanese economic growth. It gives these specialists privileges such as a shorter minimum-required period of stay for obtaining permanent residence.

Foreigners doing research at universities and other institutions, those with professional skills and corporate managers are eligible to use the system. They are given points in accordance with such criteria as academic credentials, professional and scholastic achievements and promised annual income.

For instance, a researcher with a doctorate who will work at an academic institution is awarded 30 points, while one with a master’s degree gets 20 points. Applicants who get at least 70 points in total are recognized as “highly skilled professionals” and can receive preferential immigration treatment including the right to acquire permanent residence within five years instead of the normal 10; permission for a spouse to work here; and permission to bring a parent to Japan to help look after the professional’s children.

However, only 17 foreigners were admitted to Japan under the point system between May 2012 and early April this year. This number rose to 434 when foreigners who were already in Japan and successfully applied for the system are added. The total includes 246 from China, 32 from the United States, 19 from India and 16 from South Korea.

In April and May, an expert panel at the Justice Ministry discussed reports that the current criteria were too strict.

One criticism was that the yearly income guideline was based on the salary of company workers, making it difficult for researchers at universities with lower yearly incomes to gain high points. Another was that only applicants with a yearly income of at least 10 million yen are allowed to have a parent accompany them to Japan.

After hearing these reports, the goverment began considering the easing of the criteria. Some possibilities include raising the points given for research papers submitted or patents obtained from the current ceiling of 15 points, shortening the minimum-required period of stay from five years to three for applying for permanent residence, and allowing foreigners on lower yearly incomes to bring an accompanying parent.

These issues will be worked out among the Justice, Foreign and Health, Labor and Welfare ministries, with the government planning to amend the system by year-end.

The government’s policy of increasing the number of foreigners to be admitted into Japan via the points system was specified in its growth strategy compiled in June.

“To help our country win in the global competition for excellent manpower, we’ll review the system and call on universities and companies to make better use of it,” said a senior official at the Justice Ministry, which is in charge of immigration control.

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 5, 2013

mytest

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 5, 2013
THE UPPER HOUSE ELECTION, PRELUDE AND AFTERMATH

Table of Contents:
////////////////////////////////////
PRELUDE
1)  Scholar Morris-Suzuki on the rebranding of PM Abe for foreign consumption, contrasted with his “reverse postwar political reforms” goals set out in his manifesto
2)  Anti-Korean Upper House candidate Suzuki Nobuyuki wants Japan closed to immigrants and rearm it with nukes

ELECTION REPORT
3)  2013 Election Brief: The rout of Japan’s Left is complete with a crushing LDP Upper House Victory
4)  Assessing outgoing MP Tsurunen Marutei’s tenure in the Diet: Disappointing

AFTERMATH
5)  Japan Focus: “Japan’s Democracy at Risk: LDP’s 10 Most Dangerous Proposals for Constitutional Change” by Lawrence Repeta (UPDATED with Aso’s Nazi admiration gaffe)
6)  Japan Times: Politicians silent on curbing hate speech, and post-election I see no pressure to do so
7)  WSJ: Abenomics’ Missing “Third Arrow: The absence of immigration reform from Abenomics bespeaks a deeper problem”
8 ) Latest addition to Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments: “Japanese Speaker Only” Okinawa Moromisato Karaoke Maimu

…and finally…
9)  Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 65, “Police ‘foreign crime wave’ falsehoods fuel racism”, July 8, 2013
////////////////////////////////////

By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.orgwww.debito.org, twitter arudoudebito)
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
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Freely Forwardable

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

PRELUDE

1)  Scholar Morris-Suzuki on the rebranding of PM Abe for foreign consumption, contrasted with his “reverse postwar political reforms” goals set out in his manifesto

Morris-Suzuki: The current popularity of the Abe administration in no way reflects public enthusiasm for these grand political designs. It is, instead, a response to the government’s economic stimulus package, and to Abe’s skill in making optimistic statements, which convey a sense of leadership to a population weary of political uncertainty and economic malaise. In the end, the Abe government’s performance should and will be judged, not on any political labels, but on the impact that it has on Japanese society and on Japan’s relations with its region and the world. It is possible that Abe may yet choose to focus on the vital tasks of creating a basis for a strong Japanese economic future and improving relations with Japan’s neighbours, rather than pursuing the ideological agendas of anti-liberalism and “escape from the postwar regime”.

In the meanwhile, though, those who care about the future of Japanese society should not allow the dazzle of verbal juggling to induce a political version of the Gruen Transfer. The prime minister’s ideology may be re-branded for the global market, but the old adage remains: buyer beware.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11660

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2)  Anti-Korean Upper House candidate Suzuki Nobuyuki wants Japan closed to immigrants and rearm it with nukes

Suzuki Nobuyuki, a candiate for Tokyo in the Upper House for the far-right Restoration Party Shinpuu (New Winds, not to be (easily) confused with Ishihara’s Restoration party), calls for the end of relations with Korea, and an end to immigration (imin). Oh, and he also wants Japan to rearm itself with nuclear weapons (kakubusou) — now that’s even fodder for Japan’s increasingly isolationist future.

Here’s his newspaper blurb (click on image to expand in your browser): It has the typical right-wing tropes about a strong country with sufficient autonomy to defend itself from Chinese invasion, defending Japan’s honor by weeding out “masochistic” (jigyaku) history from education and reestablishing the family unit along traditional lines (no doubt meaning bringing back the Ie Seido), returning Japan to its status as the “world’s safest country” by bringing back the “world’s safest energy source,” nuclear power, and kicking out immigrants so they don’t take jobs away from Japanese (even though NJ were brought in as official policy during Japan’s labor shortage to do the dirty jobs Japanese don’t want in the 3K sector; oh, never mind — facts don’t matter to these people). Nasty ideology seeing the light of day these days in Japan. Are there still people not becoming alarmed yet? The stuff coming out of the mainstream involving constitutional revisions is even scarier.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11664

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ELECTION REPORT

3)  2013 Election Brief: The rout of Japan’s Left is complete with a crushing LDP Upper House Victory

It’s as predicted (if not encouraged) by Japan’s media: The rightist Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), along with its coalition partner “Buddhist Party” Kōmeitō (KMT), won an outright majority in Japan’s Upper House.

Yesterday’s election was to be a referendum on the past six months of Prime Minister Abe, who was previously PM last decade in a spectacularly inept LDP administration that went down in flames in less than a year. Although political Pollyannas said Abe would be restrained between January and July due to this election (indeed, he vacillated somewhat on his stance towards historical revisionism, such as Japan being involved in wars of aggression and wartime sexual slavery), Abe still made the election more about temporary economic upturns with a hint of constitutional reform — asking for a mandate to resolve the gridlocked Diet (gridlock he had caused, it should have been noted), while occasionally raising alarmist fears about outsiders and Japan’s sovereignty. Meanwhile, the DPJ could not make the main issue of the election how the LDP’s proposed constitutional reforms would abrogate everyone’s constitutional rights. The LDP’s campaign slogan was in fact “Take back and return Japan” (Nihon o tori modosu); readings by scholars noted that this meant taking Japan back not from the DPJ, but from a Postwar constitution back to something Prewar. So much for restraint.

Let’s crunch some election statistics, with charts, and make some conclusions: Here’s the makeup of how the seats went by prefectural electoral district: Almost every prefecture went LDP. Japan’s rightward shift is especially clear when you compare it to the distribution in the 2010 and 2007 Upper House elections (see charts).

Now, as for assembly seat distributions: As denoted in the larger horizontal bar chart above, a 2/3 majority has been reached in the Upper House if one coalitions the LDP (at 115), KMT (at 20), JRP (at 9) and the Minna no Tō (at 18). This means a reform of Japan’s Constitution is now very possible if not probable.

Next, to see how much of a rout this election was for the DPJ, consider this bar chart for this election alone, not including seats that were not up for election this time: The biggest seat getters were the LDP/KMT coalition at 76. They had 44 before this election. The other fringe parties, Minna no Tō (politically wild-card) went from 3 to 8, JRP (ultra rightist) went from 2 to 8, and JCP (leftist communist) went from 3 to 8. Clearly the biggest loser was the DPJ, which dropped from 44 to 17. The Right is now clearly in control of the Upper House. That same conclusion is even more easily drawn if you look at the Proportional Representation vote…

Now, regarding for two elections that were of note to Debito.org: Two candidates were notable a) for their underwhelmingness (Japan’s first European-born MP Tsurunen Marutei) and b) for their rabid xenophobia (the anti-Korean candidate Suzuki Nobuyuki). Headlines:

1) XENOPHOBE SUZUKI NOBUYUKI GETS MORE THAN 1% OF TOKYO ELECTORATE
2) TSURUNEN LOSES HIS SEAT. NOT EVEN CLOSE

In fact, Tsurunen (who was running nationally under PR) got close to the same number of votes as Suzuki (who was running in Tokyo only), which I find decidedly scary.

CONCLUSION: I think Abe will now see this as vindication of his mandate, and we’ll see even more pushing of his rightest agenda to undo as many Postwar reforms as possible. Those will become very visible in the coming weeks. Vigilance.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11679

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4)  Assessing outgoing MP Tsurunen Marutei’s tenure in the Diet: Disappointing

In keeping with the upcoming Upper House Election in Japan in less than one week (July 21), one member whose seat is up for renewal is Tsurunen Marutei, the septagenarian Finland-born naturalized Japanese. He has spent a great proportion of his life in Japan running for elections in local positions (successfully), then nationally (not so successfully, but finally squeaking in on the last rung of Proportional Representation seats by “kuri-age”, when the person who got in instead, Ōhashi Kyosen, gave up his seat in disgust with Japan’s political system). Tsurunen then won his second six-year term in 2007. This was significant, since it could be argued that Tsurunen now had a more secure mandate thanks to his works.

However, next week Tsurunen looks likely to lose his Diet seat. And in Debito.org’s opinion, so be it. On the eve of this rather ignominious end to what should have been a noteworthy political career, let’s assess here what Tsurunen accomplished: As far as Debito.org is concerned, very little….

Now that the DPJ has gone down in flames, so will he; Tsurunen as the election looms clearly has little he can use to recommend himself for his job except the color of his eyes. This unremarkable politician, who once said he’d fight for the “outsiders”, in the end did little of that. In fact, it seems Tsurunen fought only for himself, wanting a Diet seat only as a matter of personal ambition and status — to be Japan’s first at something. Even if it was to occupy what he seems to have made into a sinecure. Same as any politician, people might argue. But Tsurunen, with all the visibility and potential of Japan’s first foreign-born and Visible-Minority Japanese MP, squandered a prime opportunity to show what Visible Minorities in Japan can do.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11633

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AFTERMATH

5)  Japan Focus: “Japan’s Democracy at Risk: LDP’s 10 Most Dangerous Proposals for Constitutional Change” by Lawrence Repeta (UPDATED with Aso’s Nazi admiration gaffe)

Meiji University law professor Lawrence Repeta has written up an important article about the probable outcomes and motivations of the specific texts (and subtexts) behind the LDP’s proposed constitutional revisions. Frightening stuff, especially from a human-rights perspective. And it looks to me like it may come true with PM Abe’s Upper House win last weekend.

Repeta: 2. Elevating maintenance of “public order” over all individual rights

The LDP would revise key language of Article 12 of the Constitution to read that the people “shall be aware that duties and obligations accompany freedoms and rights and shall never violate the public interest and public order.…”

What are these “duties and obligations”? The LDP doesn’t say. Such open-ended language would serve as an invitation to zealous officials eager to identify duties and obligations that may limit or even override individual rights. The most disturbing aspect of this text, however, is that “freedoms and rights” would be subordinated to “public interest and public order.” “Freedoms and rights” are specified in the present text of the constitution, but the new expression “public interest and public order” is undefined. In their Q&A pamphlet, LDP authors explain,

“Public order” here is “social order” (shakai chitsujo); it means peaceful social life (heibon na shakai seikatsu). There is no question that individuals who assert human rights should not cause nuisances to others.

So the LDP target appears to be individuals who “assert human rights” and thereby “cause nuisances to others.” Although the public order limitation would apply to all constitutional rights, we can expect that it would have an especially powerful chilling effect on speech rights and other forms of protest. Every public march or other political demonstration slows traffic and causes “nuisances” to others. Most democratic societies accept such inconveniences as a necessary cost of freedom, especially for protection of the right to speak out. Japan’s courts have shown little respect for such rights, however, repeatedly ruling in favor of police action to manage public demonstrations and otherwise restrict public speech.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11795

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6)  Japan Times: Politicians silent on curbing hate speech, and post-election I see no pressure to do so

Here’s Eric Johnston surveying how last winter’s hate speech finally blew up into a social issue during the spring (enough so that even Abe had to publicly disavow it), then did not gain enough political traction to become a campaign issue during the election. It’s a shame, really, as how people voice their opinions about groups of people in public have profound effects on how those groups will be treated both in public debate and in public policy. Even with PM Abe’s Facebook record of jingoistic and revisionistic “mobilization of the otakusphere”, voters indicated last week that they didn’t care. If anything, they gave Abe a strengthened mandate to continue in this vein. So even though this article talks about events before the Upper House election, I foresee no change to how hate speech is used to continue Japan’s rightward swing in Japan’s social discussions and politics. There is simply no pressure to.

JT: Over the past six months or so, it has been the rightist group Zaitokukai that has been responsible for much of the hate speech. Arita said this was not a coincidence. “Zaitokukai was established during the “right-leaning” Abe’s first administration in 2006 and 2007, and started escalating their aggression after the resurgence of (Abe’s) Liberal Democratic Party and the advent of his second administration last year,” Arita said. Judging from Abe’s rhetoric in May, Arita doubts the prime minister in particular would be seriously inclined to sign on to any sincere legislative effort to ban such virulent talk.

“In the most recent edition of the monthly magazine Bungei Shunju, Abe was asked about hate speech. His response was ‘I leave this matter to the good conscience of the average Japanese,’ ” Arita said. “But politicians must take responsibility for trying to resolve this issue. The fact that Abe can make such a comment fills me with doubt about how seriously he’s taking it.” Nor do most Diet members seem to want to mull legal bans.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11646

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

7)  WSJ: Abenomics’ Missing “Third Arrow: The absence of immigration reform from Abenomics bespeaks a deeper problem”

One of the things that the LDP has been good at during this election cycle has been controlling the agenda. By diverting attention away from contentious constitutional reform by talking about economic reform (or at least the promise of it), Abe and Co. have used imagery of loosing “three arrows” (monetary easing and fiscal stimulus, then eventually structural reforms). The Economist (London) on June 15 wondered if “Abenomics” had “failed before it even properly began”.

As Debito.org and others have been saying for years now, you can’t have sustained growth without a healthy and energetic workforce, especially as society ages, pensioners crowd out taxpayers, and public works continue to fill in the gaps and crowd out entrepreneurship. And if you want youth, energy, and entrepreneurialism, you cannot beat immigration and the Can-Do Make-Do Spirit of the Immigrant.

But the strong xenophobic tendencies of the LDP and the dominant fringes within the ruling side of Japan’s politics have made this currently politically untenable. And here’s the Wall Street Journal giving us their take on why a serious immigration policy should have been one of the GOJ’s “arrows”:

WSJ: If there’s one reform that’s symbolic of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s eponymous program to rejuvenate the Japanese economy, it’s immigration. By importing new consumers and workers, immigration is crucial to stimulating domestic capital investment by companies. By expanding the taxpaying population base, it improves the government’s fiscal position. Immigration will facilitate foreign direct investment, boosting productivity.

All of that makes immigration reform precisely the kind of bold and deep change Mr. Abe promises. But the thing that makes immigration reform most emblematic of Abenomics is that despite its importance to Japan’s future, it is almost entirely absent from the agenda…

Investors have lately panned Abenomics, rightly, for its lack of daring. Optimists hope this is a political calculation that a month before a major election is no time to introduce bold reforms, and that more and better is on the way later. But reflection on the immigration problem raises a different prospect. Any meaningful reform will be deeply disruptive—whether in terms of new immigrants let in, small farms consolidated and old farmers retired, new businesses started and old firms bankrupted. In all the hubbub about Abenomics, everyone forgot to ask whether Japan really wants the upheaval needed to restart growth. Unless and until Japanese are willing to tolerate such changes, Abenomics will be more wish than reality.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11634

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8 ) Latest addition to Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments: “Japanese Speaker Only” Okinawa Moromisato Karaoke Maimu

The Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments, an information site constructed by Debito.org and its supporters to catalog the spread of “Japanese Only” establishments nationwide, has added yet another karaoke parlor to its collection. As per the entry:
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Uruma

Okinawa City Moromizato (Okinawa Pref)
Karaoke Hall Maimu
(沖縄市諸見里1−1−2 Ph (098) 931-9114、カラオケの店舗)
Website: http://www.top-music.co.jp/sub_30.html (which does not mention their exclusionary rules)

SIGN: “THIS PLACE IS ONLY FOR JAPANESE SPEAKER!”

Submitter Justin rightly notes: “Shop is located near Kadena US Air Force base. While these signs are a step up from completely discriminating against all NJ, it is ridiculous that they can get a sign saying people who can’t speak Japanese are not admitted, but can’t have someone translate a paper listing the ‘rules and regulations of the shop’ in English.”

Quite. Plenty of hotels (especially the pre-disaster Fukushima ones) use the same excuse. And Maimu’s English translation is quite good, so this “language barrier” feels more like an excuse just to exclude like the ones proffered by Onsen Yunohana back in 2001.

The Rogues’ Gallery Moderator also wonders how Maimu will be testing customers’ language ability, what the sufficient linguistic thresholds are to “pass”, and if it will be only be enforced on people who “look foreign”. Also, since their website also says children are welcome (and has no rules to bar deaf or blind people), I wonder if Maimu is as worried about potential communication problems during emergencies with them? No, I bet it’s just “foreigners” that cause “inconvenience to our customers”.

Another one duly recorded. Any more places like this out there, Debito.org Readers? Submissions welcome as per the parameters up at the Rogues’ Gallery.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11663

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

…and finally…

9)  Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 65, “Police ‘foreign crime wave’ falsehoods fuel racism”, July 8, 2013

Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/07/08/issues/police-foreign-crime-wave-falsehoods-fuel-racism/
Version with graphics embedded in text and links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=11647

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

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

Arudou Debito (debito@debito.orgwww.debito.org, twitter arudoudebito)
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 5, 2013 ENDS

Latest addition to Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments: “Japanese Speaker Only” Okinawa Moromisato Karaoke Maimu

mytest

eBooks, Books, and more from ARUDOU Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
https://www.facebook.com/BookInAppropriate

Hi Blog. The Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments, an information site constructed by Debito.org and its supporters to catalog the spread of “Japanese Only” establishments nationwide, has added yet another karaoke parlor to its collection. As per the entry:

http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Uruma

Okinawa City Moromizato (Okinawa Pref)
Karaoke Hall Maimu
(沖縄市諸見里1−1−2 Ph (098) 931-9114、カラオケの店舗)

Website: http://www.top-music.co.jp/sub_30.html (which does not mention their exclusionary rules)
okinawakaraokemaimustore

 

(Courtesy of Maimu Website)

okinawakaraokemimefront071413

(Note exclusionary sign on left wall before the staircase.  Photos taken July 14, 2013, courtesy of Justin. Click on photo with sign to expand in browser)

okinawakaraokemimesign071413

SIGN:  “THIS PLACE IS ONLY FOR JAPANESE SPEAKER!”

Submitter Justin rightly notes: “Shop is located near Kadena US Air Force base. While these signs are a step up from completely discriminating against all NJ, it is ridiculous that they can get a sign saying people who can’t speak Japanese are not admitted, but can’t have someone translate a paper listing the ‘rules and regulations of the shop’ in English.”

Quite. Plenty of hotels (especially the pre-disaster Fukushima ones) use the same excuse.  And Maimu’s English translation is quite good, so this “language barrier” feels more like an excuse just to exclude like the ones proffered by Onsen Yunohana back in 2001.

The Rogues’ Gallery Moderator also wonders how Maimu will be testing customers’ language ability, what the sufficient linguistic thresholds are to “pass”, and if it will be only be enforced on people who “look foreign”.  Also, since their website also says children are welcome (and has no rules to bar deaf or blind people), I wonder if Maimu is as worried about potential communication problems during emergencies with them?  No, I bet it’s just “foreigners” that cause “inconvenience to our customers”.

Another one duly recorded.  Any more places like this out there, Debito.org Readers?  Submissions welcome as per the parameters up at the Rogues’ Gallery.  Arudou Debito