Japanese hotel and restaurant bars all Non-Japanese — in Bangalore, India! And it’s shut down by the local Indian govt. within days

mytest

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Hi Blog.  This case you might have heard about already, but in terms that Debito.org has talked about for decades, there are no surprises here:  A “Japanese Only” Japanese restaurant has been discovered turning away “foreigners” in a foreign land — India.  Well, turning away all “non-Japanese”.  Because, you see, “Japanese” is not a function of nationality.  It’s a function of racialized tribalism.

In other words, no matter where you are in the world, under Japanese binary sensibilities, there are two types of people:  Japanese and NJ — not Japanese and “foreigners”.  Overseas, Japanese technically become foreigners.  But not in exported Japanese contexts such as Japanese restaurants.  So again, Japanese society’s exclusionary view of the world anytime, anywhere, becomes perfectly understandable when looked at through this binary rubric.

Fortunately, not all societies let this sort of racism pass without comment or sanction.  And India, despite being saddled with a horrible caste system, is no exception.  Within weeks after exposure, it was partially shut down after notice from the Greater Bangalore City Corporation on explicit charges of racial discrimination — something Japan simply cannot do.  Articles follow.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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‘Only Japanese, no Indian people, ma’am’
Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Jun 24, 2014, 02.00 AM IST

Howard Murphy, a Brit, too was barred from the restaurant in Uno-In. ‘It is just racist,‘ Murphy told Bangalore Mirror
By : Tapasya Mitra Mazumder & Afsha Khan, Courtesy of JK
http://www.bangaloremirror.com/bangalore/cover-story/Only-Japanese-no-Indian-people-maam/articleshow/37097278.cms,

Unabashedly racist, Uno-In Hotel bars all other nationals; ironically, its head and staff are Indians

The hotel makes no bones about it. Its website categorically states: Located in Bangalore, we are a hotel exclusively for Japanese. Situated on Langford Cross Road in Shanthinagar, Hotel Uno-In, which also houses a Japanese rooftop restaurant called Teppen, has a policy of not allowing access to Indians, or for that matter, any other non-Japanese nationals.

Adjacent to the KTM showroom, Uno-In started two years ago with the sole aim of catering to Japanese nationals visiting the city for work or tour. It’s clear the hotel is not eager to advertise its presence as a hand-painted sign on the mouth of the road is the only giveaway to the place situated at the cul-de-sac.

Based on an incident (we will come back to it later) that happened a few months back, these reporters visited the hotel with a colleague and got a first-hand taste of the discriminatory attitude. The moment they stepped foot into the lobby and expressed a desire to have lunch at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant Teppen, they were told ‘Indians’ were not allowed. Below is a transcript of the recorded conversation that took place with Nic U Iqbal, MD and CEO of Nippon Infrastructure which runs the hotel.

BM Reporter: Hi. We are here for Teppen.

Hotel Staff: Yes, but only Japanese people allowed ma’am. No Indian people.

Reporter: No, we were not told that. A friend of ours recommended the place to us and said it has amazing Japanese food.

Hotel: Hi, I am Nic. This is a dedicated place for Japanese people alone.

Reporter: No, but we heard so much about this place from our Japanese friends.

Hotel: I know but we really don’t do that. It is really hard to maintain the quality system and we just have Japanese corporate people visiting us. We are the Nippon group and we have tie-ups with our own Japanese companies. Their people come to us. The entire hotel is for the Japanese alone and we don’t entertain anyone else.

After about five minutes of cajoling, we were allowed in with Iqbal stating, “I run the whole show so you can go in as my guests.” The afterthought of a welcome seemed to be directly linked to the absence of any Japanese guests (and hence no one at all) in the restaurant.

Recalling an ‘incident’ in March, Amisha Garg Agarwal, director (strategy planning), Percept/H said, “A couple of months back some colleagues accompanied our Japanese clients to the hotel for lunch. But they didn’t allow my colleagues in, stating, ‘Indians are not allowed’, despite the clients insisting they be permitted into the restaurant.”

She says when they sought an explanation, they were told Indians demanded Indian and vegetarian food. “We have heard about many more such cases from our Japanese friends in the city,” she said.

Ishiro Takazuma (name changed on request), a Japanese advertising professional who frequently travels to Bangalore for work, said that during one of his initial sojourns, he had stayed at the Uno-In and knew the food there was good. So when some Japanese colleagues were in the vicinity along with a couple of Indian colleagues a couple of months back, he recommended Uno-In’s restaurant. “We have never had any problem there before but our Indian colleagues were stopped from accompanying us into the restaurant. They relented on our insistence, though. I understand their policy of catering only to Japanese clients and their rights to reservation, but they should not have stopped our Indian friends from entering the place when they were with us.”

The ‘rights of admission reserved’ rule is in the realm of ambiguity at best. When we asked the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the issuing authority for trade licences, about how far an establishment can go in its ‘right of admission reserved’ rule, the officials had no clue. ”We have never come across it till now. We issue licences, check if the health, safety and cleanliness standards are being maintained. Nothing beyond it,” said an official.

When Bangalore Mirror contacted Uno-In’s Iqbal for comment, he said they had no qualms in admitting any customer, but they mainly catered to the needs of those residing in their corporate houses, mostly comprising the Japanese. “It is not a walk-in restaurant which is why we haven’t even publicised it as a restaurant. We do not have the infrastructure to function as a full-fledged restaurant which is why we have limited it to only Japanese delegates. And we do not entertain anyone else apart from Japanese people. However, if people come and request to have a Japanese meal, we do not mind catering to their requests.” That, based on experiences earlier by some Bangaloreans and the reporters is bunkum.

‘IT IS JUST RACIST’

To its credit, Uno-In seems to be ‘fair-handed’ in its racism. BANGALORE MIRROR sent a Brit to see if they will have a different set of rules, in typically Indian fashion, for the whites. Howard Murphy , founder of Amurco and from Manchester, was told on Monday lunch hour by the receptionist that the place is ”restricted to Japanese” and denied him entry. “Later another person — I presume he was the manager — came and said the same thing…that the place is meant only for Japanese. It’s just racist.”

An African PhD student, Charles Mwiriji Keega, was our next decoy. His experience: “We parked the bike outside.A guard opened the gate for us and I said I want to eat lunch here. He guided me to the place where the restaurant was. An executive officer came to me here and along with him four other people who seemed like heads at the restaurant came. They (all Indians) saw me and said that it’s not a restaurant first. I could see the tables there. So told them that. Then one guy came and told me that this is only for Japanese. He got a bit angry and tried to chase me out. They told me to go eat elsewhere. I said that I wanted to have Japanese food. He got annoyed with me and started to bully me out.”

SO WHAT’S ON THE MENU?

With entry banned to non-Japanese, Bangalore Mirror just had to eat at Uno In’s open-air cafe to satiate its curiosity pangs. Having virtually begged to be let in, here goes the accidental review, without any fear or favour. Not that it will help you, unless you are a Japanese reading this

So how does this exclusively-for-Japanese restaurant look inside? Teppen, an open-air cafe on the fourth floor of Uno-In, exudes the air of an office cafeteria. Since we were the only customers — and Indians at that — the staff was initially a touch wary but eased up after we returned their bow and smiled. The menu carried just the Japanese names of the dishes which is understandable considering its clientele. A waiter pointed out the chicken items, and even a vegetarian dish, he thought we may prefer over-fried pork with the skin on.

As we had heard of Daikon (radish), we decided to order that hoping it might be served with a dressing of vinegar and sesame. But the bowl of raw, shredded radish placed in front of us was unseasoned. We, thus, sincerely apologise if this isn’t Japanese etiquette, but we doused it in the soya sauce placed on our table to alter it to suit our palate. What we could make out was that most items on the menu were set meals – essentially a protein served on a platter with rice, miso soup, pickled cucumber and raw vegetables.

It suffices here to say that we left with the knowledge that we had got a taste of authentic Japanese food. For what it’s worth, the fried jumbo shrimps enveloped in thick hot and crispy batter and the miso soup with tofu cubes went down well, but if anybody wants to have sushi, they will need to come here for dinner as they aren’t available at lunch.

ENDS
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Bangalore shuts down ‘Japanese only’ hotel
The Mail Online India, By ARAVIND GOWDA
PUBLISHED: 18:40 EST, 2 July 2014
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2678420/Bangalore-shuts-Japanese-hotel.html

All over: Uno-in hotel in Bangalore, a Japanese-only restaurant, has been closed down

A ‘Japanese only’ hotel, which allegedly did not entertain Indians and other foreign nationals in its restaurant, has been closed down by the Greater Bangalore City Corporation (GBCC) on charges of racial discrimination.

The Uno-Inn Hotel – set up two years ago in central Bangalore by a local entrepreneur in association with the Nippon Infrastructure Company to cater to the growing number of Japanese visitors – shot to limelight after it allegedly stopped Indians, British and Africans from entering the roof-top restaurant.

The 30-room hotel and the restaurant were meant exclusively for Japanese tourists and businessmen visiting the city.

Last week, a few Bangaloreans, who decided to try out the Japanese restaurant at the hotel, were shocked when they were reportedly informed that they were unwelcome there.

This shocked the locals, who duly brought the matter to the notice of the GBCC.

Recently, GBCC officials visited the hotel and detected various violations by the management.

Consequently, the GBCC locked 10 out of the 30 rooms of the hotel and issued a notice to the hotel to comply with the local laws.

But the hotel management contended that Indians and other foreign nationals were welcome at their restaurant.

The GBCC is not authorised to initiate any action against the hotel management for its alleged racial discrimination, and only the law enforcement agencies were entitled to initiate action against the hotel.

ENDS

SITYS: JT publishes lawyer’s analysis of J-cops’ arbitrary “stop and frisk” procedures. It’s now actually worse for NJ than Debito.org has reported before (correctly)

mytest

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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)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. Hokay, let’s go over this issue one more time on Debito.org (the previous times from here): the ability of J-cops to racially profile and subject any “foreigner” to arbitrary Gaijin Card ID-checks. I offered advice about what to do about it (print and carry the actual laws around with you and have them enforced).

Last time I talked about this (in my Japan Times column last April), I noted how laws had changed with the abolition of the Foreign Registry Law, but the ability for cops to arbitrarily stop NJ has actually continued unabated. In fact, it’s expanded to bag searches and frisking, with or without your permission (because, after all, NJ might be carrying knives or drugs, not just expired visas).

Well, as if doubting the years of research that went into this article (and affirmed by Japanese Administrative Solicitor Higuchi Akira in our book HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS), the JT put up a “featured comment” saying that my article was wrong and a source for misinformation:

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MM333:  I’m sorry, but the information in this article and on the website describing the powers of the police to stop foreigners and demand passports or residence cards for any reason ‘whenever’ is inaccurate. The law does not give the police in Japan arbitrary powers to conduct suspicionless questioning.

As specified in Article 23 of the ‘Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act’ (see below), a police officer may demand to see a passport or residence card if it is in the execution of his/her duties, in other words only when s/he is doing what s/he is empowered to do by the ‘Police Duties Execution Act’ or other relevant acts.

The main duties of the police are specified in the ‘The Police Duties Execution Act’ (see below). The duties of the police are of course very wide ranging but they are not unlimited. In a nutshell, the police may question someone if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person has committed a crime, is about to commit a crime or the person may have information about a crime.

Also, the police must offer assistance if they believe that the person is a danger to themselves or others (this is why the police may stop someone when they are riding a bicycle without a light at night even though the police may have other motives for the stop).

They may also stop you if they believe you might be a victim of a crime (As when they stop you on your bicycle and ask if you have registered it in light of all the thefts in the area) or if your acts may endanger anyone with a view to preventing any crime from occurring. The police also have additional duties imposed on them by other laws. For example, executing warrants under the ‘Code of Criminal Procedure’ or issuing fines under the ‘Road Transportation Act’.

Therefore, the police in Japan are not legally permitted to randomly stop anyone whether Japanese or foreign and demand to see their passport or residence card. The reason for this is quite simple and obvious. If the police randomly stop someone, they cannot have reasonable grounds to suspect that any crime has been committed, whether that be overstaying a visa or any other crime.

There is no doubt that in practice police in every country may try to exceed their powers, but it is quite another thing to assert that the police actually have the right to do this. In may interest people to know that the laws imposed on the police in Japan with regards to questioning are actually more restrictive as compared with the US (ie. Stop and Frisk) or the UK (ie. CJPOA Section 60).

I would recommend that everyone read the law themselves and consult a Japanese attorney if they have questions about the law. I would also ask the Japan times to have this article reviewed by a Japanese attorney and corrections made where appropriate to avoid misinformation being spread.

(Article concludes with cited laws.  See the bottom of the JT article at the top of the comments section.)
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Well, I’m not a lawyer (I can just read the laws; but naturally that doesn’t count in the face of an anonymous commenter of unknown credentials), so the JT was probably just thinking it should cover its glutes. However, eventually the JT DID consult a lawyer and ran the following article — where it’s even worse than I argued:

The lawyer is essentially suggesting that you had better cooperate with the police because the laws will not protect you — especially if you’re in a “foreigner zone” of Tokyo like Roppongi. Excerpt:

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Legal hurdles are high when it comes to seeking redress
Limits on ‘stop and frisk’ open to interpretation by Japan’s police and courts
BY AKIRA ISHIZUKA, The Japan Times, July 20, 2014
Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/07/20/how-tos/limits-stop-frisk-open-interpretation-japans-police-courts/

JT:  In short, the police are permitted to:

1) stop a person for questioning, and, if they try to escape, to seize them (although the officers are not allowed to restrain or arrest them).

2) question them (although they have no obligation to answer these questions).

3) request (but not force) them to accompany the officers to a nearby police station or police box for the questioning.

[NB: ALL OF THESE THINGS HAVE BEEN SAID ON DEBITO.ORG FOR YEARS NOW.  CORRECTLY.]

4) frisk them with or without consent. (This is not written in the act, but precedents have established this. Basically, the frisking is limited to patting down over their clothing.)

Legal precedents in these cases have tended to stress the importance of balancing the public’s right to privacy with the necessity and urgency of the specific investigation and the public interest in preventing the crime the individual stopped by the police was suspected of being involved in. […]

Regarding the profiling, considering it was in Roppongi, which has a bit of a reputation for crime involving foreigners, the police officials could probably come up with a number of explanations for why they stopped [a NJ named P], such as a suspicion that he was carrying or selling drugs. It is unlikely that any judge would rule that this was a case of profiling and that the questioning was illegal.

As for the frisking, it was legal for the officers to pat P down over his clothes and bag, even without his consent. However, it would be illegal if an officer searched inside P’s pockets or clothing without consent or intentionally touched his genital area, even over his clothes. […]

So, in conclusion, what can you do if you are approached and questioned by police officers? Cooperating may be the smartest option and the fastest way to get the whole ordeal over as quickly as possible, but if you don’t feel like being cooperative, you can try asking the police officers what crime they are investigating and attempt to explain that you are not doing anything illegal, clearly express the will to leave and then do just that. Don’t touch the police officers, don’t run and don’t stop walking — and don’t forget to turn on the recorder on your smartphone in front of the officers, thus making it clear that you have evidence of any untoward behavior.

You cannot be forced to turn the recorder off, no matter what the police officers yell at you. Best of luck!

===========================
Akira Ishizuka is an attorney with the Foreigners and International Service Section at Tokyo Public Law Office, which handles a wide range of cases involving foreigners in the Tokyo area (www.t-pblo.jp/fiss; 03-6809-6200). FISS lawyers address readers’ queries once a month. Questions: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp

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COMMENT: You know there’s something seriously wrong with a system when legally all you have is luck (and a cell phone recorder) to protect you from official arbitrary questioning, search, seizure, and racial profiling by Japanese cops. Even a lawyer says so. So that’s definitive, right?

Now, then, JT, what misinformation was being spread here by my previous article? How about trusting people who give their actual names, and have legal experience and a verified research record (several times before in past JT articles)? And how about deleting that misinformative “featured comment” to my column?

SITYS.  Dr. ARUDOU Debito

JT: Japan needs to get tough on hate speech: U.N. experts and columnist Eric Johnston; why I doubt that will happen

mytest

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Hello Blog.  In the wake of last week’s shocking decision that NJ of any status have no automatic right to their paid-in social welfare benefits, here’s another push for increased protections for Japan’s minorities that looks unlikely in this current political climate to come to pass, despite both the court rulings and the gaiatsu pressure from overseas:

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NATIONAL / SOCIAL ISSUES
Japan needs to get tough on hate speech: U.N. experts
Japan Times/JIJI JUL 16, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/16/national/social-issues/get-tough-hate-speech-u-n-experts/

Japan came under pressure at a U.N. meeting Tuesday to do more to help stop hate speech that promotes discrimination by race or nationality.

“According to information we received, there have been more than 360 cases of racist demonstrations and speeches in 2013, mainly in Korean neighborhoods in Tokyo,” Yuval Shany from Israel, one of the experts at the U.N. Human Rights Committee, said at the meeting in Geneva.

Shany asked Japan whether it is considering adopting legislation to address hate and racist speech.

Existing laws in Japan do not allow police to intervene to stop hate speech demonstrations, Shany said at the meeting held to review the civil and political rights situation in Japan.

“It seems almost nothing has been done by the government to react to Japanese-only signs which have been posted in a number of places,” Shany said.

Another committee member, Zonke Majodina from South Africa, asked if Japan has “plans to enact a national anti-discrimination law, for direct and indirect discrimination, applying to both public and private sectors, complying with international standards and ensuring equal protection to everyone.”

Elsewhere in the meeting, committee members questioned whether human rights are protected in Japan under the country’s capital punishment system, as well as its system designed to provide equal employment opportunities for men and women.

The review is scheduled to continue into Wednesday when it is expected to cover the issue of “comfort women” who were forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels.

This is the committee’s first review of Japan in six years. The committee is set to announce recommendations for improvement on July 24.

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NATIONAL | VIEW FROM OSAKA
Time for legislation to prevent spread of hate speech
BY ERIC JOHNSTON, JUL 19, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/19/national/time-for-legislation-to-prevent-spread-of-hate-speech/

On July 8, the Osaka High Court ruled that, yes, standing in front of a primary school while kids are in class, shouting through a megaphone that they and their parents are not human, and then vandalizing the school’s property, is legal discrimination.

The decision against the anti-Korean group Zaitokukai for its actions at a pro-North Korean school in Kyoto is welcomed by all civilized people and will likely (unless the notoriously conservative Supreme Court hears the case) end one of the more high-profile hate speech cases seen in Kansai or elsewhere in Japan.

However, the Kyoto incident is just one of many involving what some countries legally define, and ban, as hate speech. Yet Japan, citing freedom of expression, is reluctant to confront the issue.

Given the official silence and unofficial tolerance, it’s hardly surprising that hate speech is on the rise, especially in Kansai:

• In 2011, a Zaitokukai representative visited a Nara museum running a temporary exhibition on Japan’s occupation of Korea. He later showed up in front of the museum and hurled insults at people of “burakumin” (social outcast class) origin, since the museum also has a permanent exhibition on the buraku people. Thankfully, the man was forced to pay ¥1.5 million — not for making derogatory remarks against Koreans or buraku people, per se, but for “defamation of the museum.”

• In a particularly shocking case, a 14-year-old girl in Osaka’s traditional Korean district of Tsuruhashi participated in a February 2013 anti-Korean demonstration by shouting through a megaphone that she wanted to kill all of the Koreans in the area.

When comments by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto about Japan’s prewar “comfort women” system being necessary at the time were added to the mix a few months after the Tsuruhashi incident, Osaka found itself with a reputation both inside and outside of Japan as an intolerant city under mob rule, a place where misogynists, bigots and hate-mongers can say whatever they want without fear of social or legal reprisals.

The good news is that, finally, more and more people in Osaka and the Kansai region are fighting back against the haters.

Counter-demonstrations against Zaitokukai in particular are increasing. At the same time, there is a feeling among many here that, as Osaka and Korea have a deep ties, things will work themselves out.

But that’s the problem. What’s needed now is not “historical perspective,” “understanding” or “respect,” but legislation ensuring protection and punishment. This is precisely because perspective, understanding and respect alone will not stop hate speech — especially that directed at new groups or those who have not traditionally been as ostracized as ethnic minorities.

Rest of the article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/19/national/time-for-legislation-to-prevent-spread-of-hate-speech/

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As Eric noted, there is the muscle (such as it is) of Japan’s judiciary recently supporting something like this:

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NATIONAL / CRIME & LEGAL
Japanese high court upholds ruling against anti-Korean activists’ hate speech
KYODO, JUL 8, 2014

The Osaka High Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that branded as “discriminatory” demonstrations staged near a pro-Pyongyang Korean school by anti-Korean activists who used hate-speech slogans.

A three-judge high court panel turned down an appeal by the Zaitokukai group against the Kyoto District Court decision ordering that it pay about ¥12 million in damages to the school operator, Kyoto Chosen Gakuen.

The order also banned the group from staging demonstrations near the school in Minami Ward, Kyoto.

Presiding Judge Hiroshi Mori said in the high court ruling that Zaitokukai members staged the demonstrations near the school with the intention of spreading anti-Korean sentiment among Japanese people.

Mori said Zaitokukai members’ activities were not intended to serve the public interest and that the group’s actions seriously damaged the school’s provision of ethnic education.

The ruling found that eight Zaitokukai activists staged anti-Korean demonstrations near the school three times between 2009 and 2010, using loudspeakers to denounce those inside.

They yelled slogans, accusing the students of being “children of North Korean agents” and demanding that all ethnic Koreans be kicked out of Japan.

The activists posted footage of their activities on the Internet.

In October 2013, the Kyoto District Court accepted a lawsuit by the school operator, ordering the nationalist group to pay damages and noting that Zaitokukai’s activities run counter to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which came into force in 1969. Japan ratified the convention in 1995.

During the high court hearings, Zaitokukai argued that their members exercised their rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, and argued that the damages were excessive.

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/08/national/crime-legal/japanese-high-court-upholds-ruling-anti-korean-activists-hate-speech/

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For the record, here’s how people deal with it in other countries, such as, oh, the European Parliament and France:

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WORLD / SOCIAL ISSUES
Polish MEP’s racial slur sparks anger
AFP-JIJI JUL 17, 2014

STRASBOURG, FRANCE – A far-right Polish MEP outraged lawmakers gathered in the European Parliament on Wednesday by comparing the continent’s unemployed youth to “niggers” in the U.S. South.

Janusz Korwin-Mikke, the outspoken leader of the royalist and libertarian Congress of the New Right party, delivered the remark during a speech to deputies decrying the existence of minimum wage laws.

Comparing job-seeking youth to black laborers in the American South during the 1960s, Korwin-Mikke said: “Four millions humans lost jobs. Well, it was four million niggers. But now we have 20 millions Europeans who are the Negroes of Europe.

“Yes, they are treated like Negroes!

“We must destroy the minimum wage and we must destroy the power of trade unions,” the 72-year-old added, before being shouted down in the parliament session.

The Socialist coalition immediately called on Korwen-Mikke to apologize or resign over what it called the “worst insult of racist discrimination and humiliation.”

“What Mr. Korwin-Mikke has preached did not only offend those that have a different skin color, but everyone who is inspired by the European values of dignity and equality,” said Italian Socialist Cecile Kyenge, who is of Congolese origin.

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/17/world/social-issues-world/polish-meps-racial-slur-remark-sparks-anger/

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Front National politician sentenced to jail for ape slur
Anne-Sophie Leclere handed nine-month prison term for comparing French justice minister to chimpanzee
Agence France-Presse in Cayenne
The Guardian, Wednesday 16 July 2014 13.20 EDT
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/16/french-national-front-politician-sentenced-to-jail-monkey-slur-christiane-taubira

A former local election candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) in France has been sentenced to nine months in prison for comparing the country’s justice minister, who is black, to an ape.

Anne-Sophie Leclere provoked a storm last year when she compared Christiane Taubira to an ape on French television and posted a photomontage on Facebook that showed the justice minister, who is from French Guiana, alongside a baby chimpanzee. The caption under the baby ape said “At 18 months”, and the one below Taubira’s photograph read “Now”.

Leclere was an FN candidate in Rethel, in the eastern Ardennes region, for the 2014 local elections, but the FN soon dropped her and went on to do well in the March polls.

On Tuesday, a court in Cayenne, French Guiana’s capital, sentenced her to nine months in jail, banned her from standing for election for five years, and imposed a €50,000 (£39,500) fine. French Guiana is an overseas département of France and is inside the European Union. It also handed the FN a €30,000 fine, putting an end to a case brought by French Guiana’s Walwari political party, founded by Taubira.

The court went well beyond the demands of prosecutors, who had asked for a four-month jail sentence and a €5,000 fine.

Leclere, who was not present in the court, said that she would appeal. The FN said it would also appeal, denouncing the sentences as “appalling” and criticising the trial as a “trap”, as the party was unable to find a lawyer in Cayenne to defend it.

In a television appearance last year, Leclere said she would prefer to see Taubira “in a tree swinging from the branches rather than in government”.

“She is wild,” Leclere said, adding: “I have black friends and it doesn’t mean I call them monkeys.”

Leclere has since defended her comments, saying that while clumsy, they were not racist. She said the photo montage was a joke, and added: “The photo was posted on my Facebook page and I took it off a few days later. I was not the creator of this photograph.”

Taubira has been on the receiving end of several racial slurs over the past year. Not long after Leclere’s comments, the far-right weekly newspaper Minute published a cover featuring a picture of Taubira and headlines that read: “Crafty as a monkey” and “Taubira gets her banana back”.

In French, getting your banana back is roughly the equivalent of recovering the spring in your step.

Joel Pied, of Walwari, said Tuesday’s court decision was “historic and beneficial”. He said: “A prominent institution of the republic recognises that the Front National is punishable by law and that it’s a racist party. We hope this decision will mark a milestone.”

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Thanks for the reference to our work, United Nations.  So there is precedent, example, template, and international embarrassment.  Will this result in a law in Japan against hate speech (ken’o hatsugen)?  I say again: not in the foreseeable future, sadly.  As noted on Debito.org many times, we have had all four of these pressures in Japan for decades now (not to mention an international treaty signed in specific), yet we still can’t get a law against racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu) in Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

In a stunning decision, Japan’s Supreme Court overturns Fukuoka High Court, rules that NJ Permanent Residents (etc.) not automatically eligible for social welfare benefits

mytest

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Hi Blog. There has already been an enormous outpouring of outrage at Friday’s Supreme Court decision in Japan’s NJ communities, so Debito.org will echo those sentiments and provide a forum for them to also be expressed here.

In an event sure to make my year-end top ten most important human rights issues of 2014, Japan’s highest court just overturned the Fukuoka High Court’s 2011 decision, ruling that an octogenarian granny who, despite being born in Japan, living her life here as a Zainichi Special Permanent Resident, and contributing to Japan’s social welfare systems, has no right to the benefits of her contributions because she’s foreign (i.e., not “kokumin”).  More comment after the articles:

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NATIONAL / SOCIAL ISSUES
Foreign residents can’t claim welfare benefits: Supreme Court
Japan Times/KYODO JUL 18, 2014, Courtesy lots of people
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/18/national/social-issues/top-court-rules-non-japanese-residents-ineligible-welfare-benefits/

The Supreme Court ruled Friday that foreigners with permanent residency status are ineligible for welfare benefits, overturning a decision by the Fukuoka High Court that had acknowledged their eligibility under the public assistance law.

The decision by the top court’s Second Petit Bench concerned a lawsuit filed by an 82-year-old Chinese woman with permanent residency who was born and grew up in Japan.

The woman applied for welfare benefits with the Oita municipal office in Oita Prefecture in December 2008 but was denied the benefits on the grounds she had some savings.

The woman then filed a suit demanding that the city’s decision be repealed. She is now receiving the benefits because the municipality accepted her welfare application in October 2011.

While the recipients of welfare benefits are limited to Japanese nationals by law, the government issued a notice in 1954 saying foreigners should be treated in accordance with the public assistance law.

Since the government limited recipients to Japanese nationals and foreigners with permanent residency in 1990, municipalities have exercised their discretion in doling out the benefits.

In October 2010, the Oita District Court rejected the plaintiff’s suit, saying that denying the public assistance law to foreigners was within the discretion of a municipal government.

In November 2011, however, the Fukuoka High Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, saying that foreigners with permanent residency have been protected under the public assistance law.
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最高裁が初判断「外国人は生活保護法の対象外」
NHK 7月18日 17時49分, Courtesy PKU
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20140718/k10013123601000.html

日本に住む外国人が生活に困窮した場合、法的に生活保護の対象になるかどうかが争われた裁判で、最高裁判所は「法律が保護の対象とする『国民』に外国人は含まれない」とする初めての判断を示しました。

生活に困窮した外国人への生活保護費の支給は、永住資格を持つ人や難民認定された人などを対象に、人道上の観点から自治体の裁量で行われています。
これについて、永住資格を持つ大分市の中国国籍の女性が起こした裁判で、外国人が法的にも保護の対象になるかどうかが争いになり、2審の福岡高等裁判所が「法的な保護の対象だ」と判断したため、国が上告していました。
18日の判決で最高裁判所第2小法廷の千葉勝美裁判長は「生活保護法が保護の対象とする『国民』に外国人は含まれない」とする初めての判断を示しました。
そのうえで「法的保護の対象を拡大するような法改正もされておらず、外国人は自治体の裁量による事実上の保護の対象にとどまる」と指摘して、2審の判決を取り消しました。
今回の最高裁判決はあくまで法律の解釈を示したもので、自治体が裁量で行っている外国人への生活保護には直ちに影響を及ぼさないものとみられます。

原告弁護士が判決を批判
判決について、原告の弁護士は会見で「法律の中の『国民』ということばだけを見て、実態に踏み込んでいない形式的な判断だ。外国人に生活保護を受給させるかどうかは行政の自由裁量だと最高裁がお墨付きを与えるもので問題だ」と批判しました。
さらに「外国人は日本で生活してはいけないと言っているのと同じで、安倍内閣は成長戦略の一環として外国人の受け入れを拡大するとしながら、一方でセーフティネットは認めないというのなら日本にこようとする外国人はいないだろう。なんらかの形で外国人の受給について法律の改正をしなければならない」と指摘しました。

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COMMENT:  The implications of this are pretty obvious:  NJ can be taxed and exploited at will, but if there’s ever a question of the local government not thinking that NJ deserve social welfare benefits, too bad, because they’re not guaranteed.  We’ll just take your money and deprive you of any guarantee that you’ll ever any equal benefit from it.

I’ve written about this case numerous times before.  Excerpts:

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Kyodo: Court overrules Oita Pref who tried to deny a 78-year-old NJ welfare benefits

Kyodo: A Japanese court repealed on Thursday a decision by Oita Prefecture in southwestern Japan not to examine a request from a 78-year-old Chinese woman to look into a decision by Oita City that rejected her application for welfare benefits.

A three-judge panel at the Oita District Court acted on a suit filed by the woman, who has obtained permanent residency status in Japan, against the Oita prefectural government decision that turned away the woman’s request, filed in February last year, to examine the Oita municipal government decision not to provide welfare benefits to her.

The prefectural government dismissed the woman’s request without examining it, saying she was not eligible to seek benefits because she does not have Japanese nationality.

In Thursday’s ruling, the district court said the prefectural government must review the municipal government decision in line with the woman’s request, and decide whether she should be given benefits.

Presiding Judge Kenji Kanamitsu brushed aside the prefectural government’s argument that the city’s decision not to provide her with benefits was a ”unilateral administrative action” against a foreigner who has no right to seek welfare benefits, and not an ”administrative decision” as she claimed, whose appropriateness can be reviewed under the administrative appeal law.

Judge Kanamitsu said the woman is ”obviously” eligible to ask the prefectural government to review the municipal government decision.

”An application for welfare benefits has been rejected, and it means the same to the applicants, regardless of their nationalities,” the judge said…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7563

BUT

17) Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.

After a half-month interlude of light and reason (as in September 30 to October 18), where it actually looked like a Japanese courtroom was actually going to be nice to somebody and rule against The State, another court has come along and put things back to normal:

Mainichi: The Oita District Court ruled on Oct. 18 that foreigners with the right to permanent residence but without Japanese citizenship are not entitled to welfare benefits, rejecting the claims of a 78-year-old Chinese woman who sued after being denied benefits by the Oita city government…

According to the ruling, the woman has Chinese nationality but was born in Japan and holds the right to permanent residence. In December 2008, the woman applied to the welfare office in Oita city for welfare payments, but was turned down with the reason that she had “a comfortable amount of money” in her savings.

The main issues of the trial became whether the woman held the right as a foreigner to receive welfare payments and whether her financial status justified her receiving aid…”

COMMENT: Gee, that was quick by Japanese judicial standards! I guess they know the value of putting the kibosh on something before the floodgates open: Can’t have all the goddamn foreigners expecting to have rights to something like our social welfare benefits, especially at an advanced age.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7639

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

Then, as the clock continues to run out for this superannuated NJ, we now have another flip, fortunately in the more inclusive direction:

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

Court rules noncitizens are eligible for welfare

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 17, 2011), courtesy of lots of people
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T111116006297.htm

FUKUOKA–The Fukuoka High Court ruled Tuesday that permanent residents in in Japan with foreign nationalities are eligible to receive public welfare assistance, overturning a lower court ruling.

The high court accepted an appeal by a 79-year-old woman who is a permanent resident in Japan with Chinese nationality. She filed the lawsuit, claiming that the Oita city government illegally rejected her request for public welfare assistance.

Presiding Judge Hiroshi Koga said in the ruling, “Foreign citizens with permanent residency [in Japan] are legally guaranteed the same status as Japanese citizens who receive the same treatment.”

The high court overturned the Oita District Court’s ruling and nullified the Oita city government’s decision not to grant the woman public welfare benefits.

According to a lawyer for the plaintiff, it is the nation’s first court ruling to present a legal basis for foreign permanent residents in Japan to receive public welfare benefits.

According to the ruling, the woman applied for the public welfare at the Oita city government in December 2008, but the city government rejected her request.

The point at issue in the lawsuit was whether the Daily Life Protection Law can be applied to noncitizens.

Full blog entry at http://www.debito.org/?p=9658

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And as I wrote in my Japan Times column of January 3, 2012, where I was ranking the Top Ten Human Rights Issues of 2012 for NJ in Japan:

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

6.  Oita denial of benefits overturned

News photo

In 2008, Oita Prefecture heartlessly rejected a welfare application from a 78-year-old Chinese (a permanent resident born in Japan) because she is somehow still a foreigner. Then, in a shocking ruling on the case two years later, the Oita District Court decreed that NJ are not automatically eligible for social welfare. Finally, in November, this stubborn NJ, in her 80th year, won a reversal at the Fukuoka High Court — on the grounds that international law and treaty created obligations for “refugees (sic) (to be accorded) treatment at least as favorable as that accorded to their nationals.”

What caused the confusion was that in 1981, the Diet decided that revising the public welfare law to eliminate nationality requirements was unnecessary, since practical application already provided NJ with benefits. Three decades later, Oita Prefecture and its district court still hadn’t gotten the memo.

Bravo for this NJ for staying alive long enough to prize her case away from xenophobic local bureaucrats and set congruent legal precedents for all NJ.

Full article at http://www.debito.org/?p=9837

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

And now the pendulum has swung again, with a great big Bronx Cheer for all NJ in Japan.

My final thought on this for now is how the online commenters (who consistently blame NJ for anything bad that happens to them) spin this one against the plaintiff?  It’s a challenge:  She’s an 82-year-old granny Zainichi living her entire life in Japan trying to get her tax benefits back, for heaven’s sake.  Still, the reflexes are kicking in.  We’ve already had one person commenting at the Japan Times about how this ruling was a means to deal with “illegal immigrants” somehow (the JT immediately spotted this as trolling and deleted it; wish they would be more proactive with my columns, as trolls keep derailing any meaningful debate).  Any more gems out there, go ahead and quote them in the Comments section below.  A ruling this egregiously anti-NJ becomes an interesting psychological experiment to see how far the self-hating gaijin will go to deny they have any rights to anything whatsoever in Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

UPDATE JULY 25, 2014: THIS VERY BLOG ENTRY GETS CITED IN THE SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST.  THANKS!

Anger erupts over court denial of welfare to foreign permanent residents of Japan
Japanese Supreme Court rules that a Chinese permanent resident is not entitled to payouts even though she has paid taxes all her life
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST : Monday, 21 July, 2014,
Julian Ryall in Tokyo
http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1557063/anger-erupts-over-court-denial-welfare-foreign-permanent-residents-japan

Activists, analysts and foreign residents of Japan have reacted with dismay to a decision by the Supreme Court that foreigners with permanent residency are not entitled to welfare benefits.

Friday’s ruling by the highest court means that even foreign nationals born in Japan, who have spent all their lives in the country and paid their taxes, national insurance premiums and state pension requirements are still not guaranteed to receive financial support when they need it.

The Supreme Court’s decision overturned an earlier ruling by the Fukuoka high court that granted welfare to an 82-year-old Chinese woman who was born and raised in Japan.

The woman had applied for assistance to the municipal office in Oita prefecture in December 2008, but her request was refused because she had savings. The woman launched a legal case demanding that the decision be reversed on the grounds that she had paid taxes to the national and prefectural governments throughout her life.

In the first ruling of its kind, the Supreme Court stated that, from a legal standpoint, permanent foreign residents do not qualify for public assistance because they are not Japanese.

The ruling apparently gives local authorities across Japan the legal right to halt financial assistance to non-Japanese residents. The fact that many municipalities across the country are facing economic hardship may increase the risk of city governments seeking to exercise that right.

“It’s shameful,” said Eric Fior, a French national who owns a language school in Yokohama and who has lived in Japan for more than a decade.

“It’s bad enough that foreign residents do not have the right to vote at any level in Japan, but when you pay your taxes and contribute to the pension scheme, it’s something of an insult to be told that you have no right to get some of that money back when you need it,” he said.

“I imagine that many foreign residents will be asking themselves why they have to pay their taxes.”

The Oita case has been followed closely by Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese who was born in the United States and has become a leading rights activist after being refused access to a public bath in Hokkaido because he is “foreign”.

“The implications of this are pretty obvious,” Arudou wrote in his most recent blog posting. “Non-Japanese can be taxed and exploited at will, but if there’s ever a question of the local government thinking that nonJapanese deserve social welfare benefits, too bad because they’re not guaranteed,” he wrote.

“We’ll just take your money and deprive you of any guarantee that you’ll ever get any equal benefit from it.”

The post has generated heated comment. One person wrote: “The sheer pettiness and nastiness of the court’s decision just disgusts me.”

Other posters said the decision would have an impact on the government’s campaign to attract skilled foreign nationals to work in Japan in an effort to combat the dramatically shrinking population.

Conservatives have applauded the court’s decision.

“The state cannot provide benefits to all the poor people who come to Japan,” said Yoichi Shimada, a professor of international relations at Fukui Prefectural University.

“The problem in this particular case is that the woman chose not to take Japanese nationality and chose to remain Chinese,” he said. “If Japan allowed all foreign residents unlimited access to welfare, then the country would go bust.”

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Foreigners riled over welfare ruling
ENDS

AFP: “Tarento Rola changing DNA of Japanese pop culture”. I wish her well, but the hyperbolic hype is not warranted

mytest

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Hi Blog. I’m coming to this issue a few days late, but this article has made an enormous splash in media worldwide. It’s about the latest “haafu” celebrity phenom, Rola, or Satou Eri. Read on, then I’ll comment:

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Rola changing DNA of Japanese pop culture
By Alastair Himmer
AFP/Japan Today/Japan Times/et al. ARTS & CULTURE JUL. 15, 2014, courtesy of TJL
Rola changing DNA of Japanese pop culture
Japanese fashion model and TV personality Rola poses for photographs during an interview with AFP in Tokyo on May 20, 2014

In celebrity-obsessed Japan with its conveyor belt of 15-minute stars, fashion model and “talent” Rola is blazing a meteoric trail at the forefront of a galaxy of mixed-race stars changing the DNA of Japanese pop culture.

Turn on the TV and there’s no escaping the bubbly 24-year-old of Bengali, Japanese and Russian descent—she even dominates the commercial breaks.

A marketing gold mine, Rola smiles down celestially from giant billboards, her wide eyes and girlie pout grace magazine covers and she even greets you at vending machines.

But Rola, who settled in Japan when she was nine, has done it by turning the entertainment industry on its head, her child-like bluntness slicing through the strict convention that governs Japanese society.

“Whenever people told me to speak politely, I never worried about it,” she told AFP in an interview. “I’m not talking down to anyone. I’m not a comedian, it’s just how I am. It’s just being open-hearted and trying to make people open theirs.”

But it is not just her quirky charm that is breaking down barriers. Japan’s largely mono-ethnic society—a culture where skin whitening creams are still huge business—has long been mirrored by its entertainment industry.

Rola and host of others are beginning to change that.

Half-British singer and actress Becky is another superstar with model looks and a huge fan base in Japan, while half-French newscaster Christel Takigawa helped Tokyo win the 2020 Olympic vote as the city’s ambassador for “cool”.

Their rise to fame mirrors a shift in attitudes in Japan, which only opened its doors to the outside world in the middle of the 19th century and where foreigners—those without Japanese nationality, even if they were born here—make up less than two percent of a population of 127 million.

“Being of mixed race was once looked down upon,” said sociologist Takashi Miyajima. “Now foreign entertainers are admired in Japan as something untouchable. You could even say they benefit from positive discrimination.”

Rarely now do you see TV shows without at least one “haafu” (the Japanese pronunciation of “half”, meaning “mixed race”), such has been the shift.

“Young Japanese women want to be like Rola,” said psychologist Yoko Haruka, a regular on Japanese TV. “They buy the same clothes, bag. It’s like a cartoon world, the baby-face effect.

“She has the foreign look: long legs, small face, but because she is ‘half’, she’s not an object of envy at all. She’s an idol like Madonna was, but closer and easier to relate to.”

Rola’s trademark puffing of the cheeks, ditzy catchphrases, infectious giggle and carefree charm have helped make Japan’s most famous ‘It Girl’ a smash hit with legions of adoring fans.

She believes the shifting landscape has had a positive effect on Japan.

“Nationality isn’t important,” she said, dressed in tight blue jeans under a floral one-piece. “I used to think Japanese people weren’t open and should lighten up. But Japan has become brighter.

“People copying me is cool,” she added in her helium voice. “If I can do one thing to help bring a tiny improvement to Japan, that’s great.”

Born of a Bangladeshi father and a half-Japanese, half-Russian mother, Rola’s eccentricities helped overcome the language barrier when young, once turning up at elementary school in pajamas she mistook for her new uniform.

“Normally if you can’t communicate it’s frustrating but I only have fun memories of childhood,” she said. “When I was small I’d play with Barbie dolls and the next day I’d jump in the river with boys catching crayfish or playing with turtles. Maybe that’s why I use a lot of hand gestures. I naturally just made friends.”

In a culture that once might have passed over her darker tone, Rola’s exotic looks have clearly helped—she was scouted by a modelling agency on the streets of Tokyo when she was in high school.

Following in the footsteps of mixed-race glamor girls such as Jun Hasegawa and racing driver Jenson Button’s fiancee Jessica Michibata, Rola has also taken peak-time television by storm.

Japan can take its celebrity worship to extremes, David Beckham once having a giant chocolate statue dedicated to him in Tokyo while his mohican hairstyle triggered a personal grooming craze among local women during the 2002 World Cup.

“I don’t get stressed (by fame),” said Rola. “People come up to me on the street and go ‘Hi, Rola!’ as if I’m their friend.”

When not shooting commercials for everything from cosmetics or beer to headache pills or battered octopus balls, Rola is at the gym—or fishing.

“When the next trends hit, the ‘half’ (mixed race) boom will calm down a bit,” said Haruka. “But that might take a while.”

For now, Rola’s girl-next-door innocence continues to bewitch.

Asked to sum herself up in one word, she closes her eyes and offers: “A salmon, maybe. They’re not just tasty, they swim hard up rivers, so they’re tough little critters.”

ENDS

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COMMENT:  First off, I wish Rola well.  I hope she continues to make the media splash she’s making.  I of course prefer that people think that “Haafu” (or rather, “Doubles”) are desirable rather than derisible.  On this note, a commenter on Japan Today offered a very erudite comment, so let me quote it:

=============================================
jpn_guy JUL. 14, 2014 – 09:46AM JST
The positive reaction to mixed-race models is certainly better than not wanting them on screen. It’s “anti-racist” and to be welcomed. To a certain extent, I guess it does show Japan is becoming more open and tolerant.

But like most things, it’s not that simple. For one thing, all these women are stunning beautiful. Everyone loves a good-looking girl. We knew that already! But not all mixed race people in Japan could, or even want to be, celebrities. Kids like mine just want normal lives. They might want to be a lawyer, a pilot, a shipbuilding engineer or a dental technician.

As I said, the high visibility of mixed-race people in better than being vilified and ignored, for sure. But it’s also a sign of fetishism, and a refusal to see mixed race people as just “one of us”. Celebrities are “special” by definition. Ironically, that’s why visible minorities have less difficulty breaking into this field.

The complex impact of mixed-race celebrity is well illustrated by the fact that “half-French newscaster Christel Takigawa” is actually a fully Japanese citizen by the name of Takigawa Masami – the name she used when she began her career. Apparently, so many people rang in to ask why someone with a Japanese name did not “look Japanese”, the producers forced her to use her “foreign-sounding” middle name, so that it better matched her face.

In other words, Takigawa’s success is dependent on people setting her apart as foreign even though she is Japanese. A few years ago, another TV presenter (Yutaka Hasegawa) referred to her disparagingly as “that foreigner” (ano gaijin), although to be fair he was heavily criticized by her fans (though not reprimanded by his employer).

Another example is the comedian and fully Japanese citizen Horita Seiki Antony who markets himself as “Antony”.

I remember reading about cases of mixed-race people with traditional Japanese sounding names being asked “where do you get off having that name with a face like that?”

It’s great to see all sorts of people on TV. When you get to know people, Japan is generally a warm and friendly society. But we should be very careful in making the broad claim that that Rola and her colleagues are “breaking down barriers in Japan’s largely mono-ethnic society”.

Through no fault of their own, they are sometimes perpetuating the stereotype of the exotic other.

When local people treat mixed race people and foreign people in non-celebrity fields just like anyone else, then we will have true progress.
=============================================

Complete agreement, especially with the sociology. As for the media angle, I think the longer people like us have been here, we become skeptical of the “latest thing” after seeing so many “tarento” fizzle out without much impact. As another Japan Today commenter put it: “Back in the ’60s it was Karmen Maki and Ann Lewis. In the 70s there were Linda Yamamoto, Kathy Nakajima, Saori Minami and a cutsie singing trio with the stage name Golden Half. In the 80s, Rie Miyazawa, Anna Umemiya, etc. Nothing new under the sun.”

Of course, most “tarento” blaze and then fizzle without making any real impact, least of all “changing the DNA Japanese pop culture” as this article and its pundits claim. Rola in particular does not seem to be consciously promoting any increase in social tolerance of “haafu” — she’s just doing her thing, entertaining with a new (or actually, not all that new, but for now fresh-sounding) schtick as an ingenue. Of course.  That’s her role as an entertainer.  This has been the role of so many other entertainers, including the Kents (Kent Derricott made his pile and returned to the US to buy his mansion on the hill in Utah for his family; Kent Gilbert did much the same and lives in Tokyo with a residence in Utah as well), Leah Dizon (remember her?, already divorced from the Japanese guy who made the baby bump the speed bump in her career; she’s trying to make a comeback in Japan while based in Las Vegas), Bob Sapp, Chuck Wilson, and many, many more that I’m sure Debito.org readers will recount in comments below.

Sadly, none of these people have really made or will make a long-term impact on Japan’s mediascape. The best long-seller remains Dave Spector, who is a very, very exceptional person in terms of persistence and media processing (not to mention stellar language ability), but even he makes little pretense about being anything more than an “American entertainer” for hire.  Other impactful persons I can think of are Peter Barakan and perhaps these people here.  So it’s not non-existent.  But it’s not powerful enough to permit “Doubles” to control their self-image in Japan, either.

Again, I wish Rola well, like I wish any broad-minded entertainer well, but I believe she is just riding a trendy wave at the moment.  Her schtick is as filling and substantial to consume as cotton candy — take one bite and you get nothing left in your mouth. Especially since any little-girl act has a very short shelf life. That’s why the headline of “Changing the DNA of Japanese pop culture” is simply too high an expectation. Celebrating Rola as if she’s the next Beatles is a bit hollow and ahistorical, when Japan has never had a Beatles in terms of gaijin tarento.

This overhype (even the academics cited are going along for the ride, one of whom carelessly errs by calling her “foreign”) can be fatal for many an entertainer when people eventually tire of her current incarnation. Even if Rola becomes “successful” by revamping her act to become more substantial, she’ll just be as subsumed and co-oped as Miyazawa Rie or Becky is. Or as forgotten as Leah Dizon within a few years. Let’s hope not, and let’s hope that she becomes a long seller. But I doubt it.  Because the ingenue trail she is blazing (or rather, is being blazed for her by her agents) of the “sexy-baby-voice tarento” genre has never really allowed for that.

Bonne chance.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

JDriver on J Driver License renewals and questionable legality of residency/Gaijin Card checks to ferret out “illegal overstayers”

mytest

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Hi Blog. We’ve discussed on Debito.org before the rigmarole of NJ drivers in Japan getting J Driver Licenses, being subjected to extra intrusive procedures that are of questionable legality. Well, a Debito.org Reader decided to do his civic duty and ask for some reasons why. And this is what he found out. Read on and feel free to contribute your own experiences. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

//////////////////////////////////////////////
July 13, 2014
Hi Debito, I’m a long time reader, but rarely have time to comment. I’ve had a pretty disheartening, if not entirely surprising, experience recently when I went to renew my drivers license and thought I’d share it with you and perhaps your readers if you find it worthwhile to share.

As you might know, residents of foreign citizenship (外国籍の方 in the bureaucratic parlance) are required to show their residence cards or in other way demonstrate their status of residence when getting or renewing their drivers license. Obedient citizen as I am, of course I went along with it and presented it when asked, but I did make clear I would like to be clarified on the legal basis for such a request. I didn’t expect that the person doing the registration would know something like this off the top of their head, but I was intended on talking to someone eventually who could point to this and that paragraph of this or that law that governs these circumstances.

So after all the procedure was finished and I got my license, I went to the window I was told I’d get my questions answered. The first person could only, after quite a while, produce the Immigration law article 23, which only says that you are in general required to present the passport or the residence card when the police and other authorities ask for it “in the execution of their duties.” So I asked for a specific law or ordinance that shows that in this concrete case it is indeed their duty to ask for the card. I got sent to her boss, who again only wasted my time with the same answer (Immigration law) and got irritated and dismissed me, but not before arranging for me to see the final boss of bosses, who should be able to answer my, I thought very simple, question i.e. what is the legal basis for what you’re doing?

Neither the last guy could legitimize the demand in legal terms, so we agreed that he will research it and call me later to let me know. He did call later the same day, only to tell me that after all, the legal basis would have to be in the Immigration law, because he couldn’t find any other! He said it is all done to prevent the “illegal overstayers” from getting drivers license, as if that, or any other goal, would justify working outside of legal framework.

I was flabbergasted that apparently no one in the whole Koto drivers center (江東試験場) knew the legal basis of their actions. I understand the receptionists, but I went four stages up their hierarchy and still nobody could justify their demands in legal terms. I’ve read the law on traffic before I went there and knew it did not specify this (道路交通法 http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S35/S35HO105.html) but I revisited it again afterwards. Neither it, nor the other major traffic law (道路法 http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S27/S27HO180.html) even mention status of residence or residence cards at all, and most certainly not when specifying the circumstances in which the authorities can refuse to issue you the license (physically unfit, alcoholism etc) It actually specifically states that they must issue you the permit if these do not apply, and you’ve passed the test (Article 90
公安委員会は、前条第一項の運転免許試験に合格した者(当該運転免許試験に係る適性試験を受けた日から起算して、第一種免許又は第二種免許にあつては一年を、仮免許にあつては三月を経過していない者に限る。)に対し、免許を与えなければならない。)

So I am now faced with an inevitable conclusion that they asking for residence cards is likely ILLEGAL. Of course, this is a condition which only applies to foreign residents, so it is unlikely to cause a national uproar, but it is nevertheless very unsettling, and not only for NJ, which might be the primary target at present. My biggest problem in all this is that they seemed genuinely baffled that someone is asking for a legal basis for their conduct, and the inability of the whole place to come up with a justification. It seems to me the bureaucracy is very much used to acting outside the legal framework, or at the very least, do not think of their daily work as something done only on the firm basis of law.

I would be very much interested to hear your and your readers thoughts and perhaps similar experiences. I am seriously considering refusing to show the card next time, but bring the printed letter of the law which says they are obliged to issue me with a permit.

Sincerely, JDriver

Asahi’s AERA Mag July 14, 2014: Special on NJ in J globalized companies, says “Offices without NJ will not succeed”. Yet again panders to stereotypes

mytest

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Hi Blog. On the heels of our prior discussion about the Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s “scandal” about having the audacity to put a NJ as CEO of the company (shock horror! Think of how much the company will be compromised!, was the narrative), here’s a special issue by left-leaning AERA magazine of July 14, put out by the (left-and-right-leaning, depending on the editor) Asahi News Corp, on Japan’s “global companies”.  Its big headline is that offices that are not multinational in terms of staff “will not succeed”. (Somebody tell that to Takeda Pharma’s xenophobes!)

Aera.0714

(Click on image to expand in browser.  Courtesy of MS.)

You might think this is a forward-thinking move, but AERA also resorts to the same old media tropes about NJ.  For example, it puns on the seminal TV show of more than a decade ago called “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo, Nihonjin” with a bit on “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo, Japanese workplaces”.  Not to appear dated, it also refers to Koko Ga Hen’s current incarnation “YOU Wa Nani Shi Ni NIhon E” (What did YOU [sic] come to Japan to do?), with a poll of twenty (a scientifically-significant sample!! /sarcasm) real-live NJ residents of Japan saying what they find unsatisfactory about Japan.  There’s also a discussion between two J pundits on immigration (yep; how about polling an immigrant?), a comparison between NJ transplant schools modeled on the Indian, Chinese, and Canadian education systems (why?  dunno), and the coup de grace — the influential Oguri Saori manga “Darling wa Gaikokujin being riffed on to talk about “Darling wa Damenzu Gaikokujin“.

This is about J women marrying NJ “Wrong men” (from a manga title, a polyglot word of Dame (J)  and Mens (E?)) who are penniless, unfaithful, or violent (and in this case, according to AERA, from less-economically-developed countries, viz. the newly-coined word “kakusa-kon“, or economically-tiered marriages), because the NJ get a visa, and the women get the relief (iyashi) of having less to lose (financially or materially) after the breakup. Whaa….?

Yep, even when we resort to the hackneyed stereotypical tropes (gotta love the swarthy smitten NJ in the illustration; clearly by the skin tone there’s kakusa there), we still have to pander to prejudices by including some nasty ones.

There’s more up there, so other comments?  Mine is that even if J companies take things to heart and hire more NJ employees, I’m worried that 1) like before, it’ll only be on a “contingency” basis (to take the NJ out for a test drive, meaning the hiring process is two-tiered and unequal, with less job security for the NJ), and 2) it’ll just happen because it’s “trendy”.  NJ have been hired as “pet gaijin” (as was common practice during the “Bubble Years”; I know) to show off how “international” the company has become, without ever allowing NJ employees to play any real part in the company’s future.  Just plonking NJ in your office doesn’t necessarily mean much (until NJ become, for example, managers).  And when they do, the Takeda-styled soukaiya mentioned last blog entry will no doubt protest it anyway (if not fire you for doing the right thing about J-boss corruption, a la Olympus).

Sorry to rain on what may be a positive trend (I’d much rather have them acknowledge that J companies cannot remain insular than not, of course), but I’m not sure AERA is encouraging real non-insularity.  Especially when even they can’t keep the discussion serious and refrain from painting NJ with negative stereotypes.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Unsuccessful protest against instatement of NJ CEO at Takeda Pharma: Note weird narratives of exclusionism

mytest

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Hi Blog. I’m coming to this story a bit late (it was first brought up here within comments to a different post), so my apologies — I’m running this blog on a 4-5 day cycle so I can have a life outside of cyberspace. Anyway, check this out, for the record:

Japan’s largest drug maker, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., last month tapped a NJ (a Frenchman by the name of Cristophe Weber) to be its next CEO. This occasioned protests by the founding Takeda family and dissident shareholders, because hiring a NJ to be its leader would allegedly be abhorrent.

Relativism first: We’ve of course had protests and government interventions in other countries when foreigners buy up a strategically-important company. (Let me date myself: I remember the Westland helicopters scandal when I was living in England back in the 1980s!) So business xenophobia is not unique to Japan, of course.

But check out the narratives of justification for the exclusionism being proffered with straight faces:

  1. A NJ CEO of a Japanese company would be “bad for the morale of Japanese employees”. (Why?)
  2. A NJ CEO would necessarily result in “technological transfer overseas” (i.e., NJ are untrustworthy).
  3. This would mean “finances or research and development would be entrusted to NJ” (Would it? This is an unaccountable dictatorship? This is not an issue of NJ-dom: Remember the corruption of the Olympus case, and they were all Japanese at the helm — until a NJ became the whistleblower.)
  4. A NJ CEO is tantamount to a hostile “takeover by foreign capital” (again, those trust issues).
  5. This particular NJ is unknowledgable of Japan’s health care industry of the “traditions and corporate culture” of Takeda (i.e., NJ are ignorant about Japan and Japan’s permutations of industry).

Imagine those arguments being made if a Japanese helmed an overseas company (we already had a Japanese in 2009 placed at the helm of, for example, the Japan Society in New York — an organization founded in 1907 by powerful Americans to explore Japanese society). Accusations of racism would probably fly. But in Japan, not so much. These knee-jerk exclusionary discourses are that hegemonic.

Anyway, the exclusionists (who only hold 1-2% of total shares, so they’re basically soukaiya) did not win out, and Weber became CEO. Nyah. Some referential articles about the Takeda Pharma Case follow. Dr. ARUDOU Debito

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Takeda family protests putting foreigner at drug maker’s helm
June 22, 2014 The Yomiuri Shimbun
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001369207

The founding family of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., the nation’s largest drug manufacturer, is in revolt against the management’s plan to install a Frenchman as the company’s first foreign president.

The firm’s former executives are joining the founding family to thwart a plan to appoint Christophe Weber, 47, president at a shareholders meeting on Friday. But there is little possibility the decision will be reversed. The revolt indicates a deep-rooted aversion among some Japanese toward foreigners assuming top corporate posts.

Weber was headhunted from major British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline.

As a result of its repeated acquisition of huge foreign makers, non-Japanese account for two-thirds of Takeda’s employees. The installation of Weber as president and chief operating officer of the 230-year-old company is seen as a symbol of the firm’s expectations for his international perspective.

About 110 people comprising members of the founding family and the firm’s former executives in April submitted a jointly signed letter of protest to the company. They warned:

—If Weber becomes president and Takeda is acquired by a major foreign firm, Takeda’s superior drug-making technologies may be lost if transferred overseas.

—There is a feared brain drain of Takeda’s researchers, as this could lead to the firm making the same mistakes as major Japanese electrical appliance manufacturers.

Judging Weber’s appointment as president as tantamount to a “takeover by foreign capital,” they stressed that they would never allow finances or research and development to be entrusted to a non-Japanese.

Comparing a foreign president to a takeover by a foreign capital may very well be a leap of logic. Those who submitted the letter of protest hold a mere 1 percent to 2 percent of total shares.

One of the Takeda founding family members, who signed the letter, said: “Weber does not know anything about the Japanese health care industry. He does not know about the tradition and [corporate] culture of Takeda Pharmaceutical, either. It is absurd to install such a person as president.”

As a reason for Weber’s appointment, Takeda Pharmaceutical said: “It was a result of screening candidates from both inside and outside the company with an eye to fairness. Employees will be able to learn a great deal from working under his leadership, as he has been active in global business.”

The company declined to comment on the specific points made in the letter of protest, referring only to the upcoming shareholders meeting.

Takeda Pharmaceutical was established in 1781 in Osaka as a brokerage firm for crude drugs. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Takeda began importing Western drugs ahead of domestic competitors.

The current president, Yasuchika Hasegawa, took over the post in 2003 from Kunio Takeda, a descendent of the founding family. Hasegawa has promoted globalization of the company’s operations by acquiring foreign companies and headhunting non-Japanese from rival firms to appoint them to executive posts.

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Interview: New Takeda President Sees Developing Talent as Priority
By ERIC PFANNER and KANA INAGAKI
The Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2014
http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/07/01/interview-new-takeda-president-sees-developing-talent-as-priority/

PHOTO: Christophe Weber, president and chief operating officer of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., speaks during a news conference in Tokyo on April 2, 2014.

Days after shareholders of Japan’s largest drugmaker, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., approved the company’s first foreign president, the company said it was moving to develop internal talent so it wouldn’t necessarily have to look outside its ranks for a successor the next time around.

The new president, Christophe Weber, who is French, said Tuesday in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that talent development and retention was one of 10 management priorities he and a team of Takeda executives had identified for the coming months. Mr. Weber’s appointment had raised concerns that Takeda lacked managers with the skills to oversee the company’s international expansion.

The news followed a stormy annual meeting last week, where a group of more than 100 shareholders questioned Takeda’s globalization strategy, which has included acquisitions of drugmakers like Nycomed of Switzerland and Millennium Pharamaceuticals of the United States. The appointment of foreign managers like Mr. Weber was bad for the morale of Japanese employees, the dissidents said.

Shareholders overrode those concerns by an overwhelming margin in a vote that Mr. Weber and Yasuchika Hasegawa, the company’s chief executive, described as an endorsement of Takeda’s globalization strategy. While many Japanese companies have been moving to expand internationally as the domestic market stagnates, few have taken the radical step — for a Japanese company — of hiring foreign top executives.

“The globalization of Takeda is good for Japanese employees and it is good for Japan,” Mr. Weber said. “I hope that we’ll have my own internal successor as well.”

Mr. Weber, who joined the company in April, said he had spent his first three months listening to Takeda employees’ concerns and planned to announce a strategy by the end of the year.

“There is a certain fear of the unknown,” he said. “My hope is that they will see that what we’re doing is good for everybody, especially for Japanese employees.”

Mr. Weber is joining Takeda at a sensitive time for pharmaceutical companies in Japan, amid heightened regulatory scrutiny on ethical issues.

Prosecutors in Tokyo said Tuesday they had charged the Japanese unit of Novartis AG with altering research data to make a blood pressure drug, Diovan, appear more effective than competing products. Novartis said it would review the charges and that it had taken steps to improve oversight in Japan.

Takeda, too, has faced scrutiny of its drug promotions, and in March admitted to using “inappropriate expressions” in ads for a hypertension medicine, Blopress, after questions were raised about the accuracy of a graph.

“I think our case is quite different from the Novartis case,” Mr. Hasegawa said, adding that the company had put in place measures to improve oversight.

“The challenge is always how are we sure that 100% of our employees have the same understanding” of the company’s values, Mr. Weber said.
ENDS

BLOG BIZ: Debito.org’s Google Page Rank drops from 4 to Zero overnight. Unsure why

mytest

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Hi Blog. Just a bit of Blog Biz for today. A concerned Debito.org Reader wrote:

=========================================
On Jun 16, 2014, a Debito.org Reader wrote:

Debito, I could be in error, but it looks like your Google page rank has been reduced from 4 to 0. I would talk to someone who knows about this stuff and ask them what’s up. If I am correct, you should regard that as a serious issue.

It’s a mystery to me: I use a Safari on my mac. There’s a plug-in that gives you page rank, so I always see it when I visit a site:
http://any-tech.ws/page-rank/

I think yours has always been 4 or 5. Perhaps 5, which is *really* good for a site like yours. I don’t recall ever seeing another site’s ranking just suddenly disappear. It could just be a glitch. But I doubled checked this — and your page rank is not showing up anywhere:
http://checkpagerank.net/index.php

GooglePageRank070514

(Google Page Rank according to the above link as of July 5, 2014)

My best suggestion would be to check Google’s webmasters toolkit. If you don’t have an account, I would create one, it’s very helpful. Often they will tell you if there is a problem.

[NB:  I have done this.  The Google web masters toolkit has indicated after a scan that there is nothing problematic about this site, and thus offer no avenue for query or appeal to Google.]

Your page rank is an important factor in how well your site ranks in search engines. It’s not the *only* factor — but it’s the one most closely related to your web authority. If this *just* happened — you might not notice an immediate impact, but over time the traffic you receive from Google would begin to decline.

If you are the *only* person with a webpage about a particular topic, you’ll continue to rank in Google’s search engine. If you and 100 other sites are taking on the same topic, you’ll fall to the bottom of the list. You have a massive archive, so on many topics, *only* you have a page — you’ll get traffic on those pages. But on competitive topics, your traffic will fall off. Does that make sense?

Unless this is all a weird glitch. In which case maybe nothing will happen. You could just monitor it for a while …

Sincerely, a Debito.org Reader.

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

I have, and I still don’t know weeks later what happened and what it all means.  I have also checked the page ranking of other sites (such as sites that do online stalking), and they are not zero, despite being nowhere near Debito.org’s external back links, referring domains, back links, or PR Quality.  Clearly something’s fishy.

Anyone out there know anything about this?  I would appreciate the feedback and advice.  Thanks.  Now back to the issues of human and civil rights and life in Japan that Debito.org has constantly and fearlessly covered for nearly two decades…  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 3, 2014

mytest

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 3, 2014
Table of Contents:
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

FOREVER UNDER THE RADAR:

1) Japan’s population tally in media still excludes NJ residents; plus J political misogyny and appeals to gaiatsu
2) Reuters Special Report on Japan’s “Trainee System” as “Sweatshops in Disguise”: Foreign interns pay the price for Japan’s labor shortage

ON THE RADAR AND INFLUENCING PUBLIC OPINION:

3) World Cup 2014: Held in Brazil, but causes tightened police security in Tokyo due to alleged possibility of “vandalism”
4) J-Govt. “We are Tomodachi” Newsletter Vol. 4 , June 2014 offers fascinating insights into PM Abe Admin mindsets
5) MLB J-baseball player Kawasaki Munenori doing his best to speak English to North American media. Debito.org approves.
6) Fodor’s Travel Guide on Japan 2014 features two chapters on Hokkaido and Tohoku written by Debito

… and finally…

7) My Japan Times JBC column 76: “Humanize the dry debate about immigration”, June 5, 2014

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

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

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

FOREVER UNDER THE RADAR:

1) Japan’s population tally in media still excludes NJ residents; plus J political misogyny and appeals to gaiatsu

Debito.org Reader JK offers the following links and commentary about two important subjects: 1) The unwillingness of Japan’s media to count NJ as “residents” in official population tallies (despite NJ inclusion on the juumin kihon daichou Resident Registry since 2012), and 2) the widespread misogyny in Japan’s policymaking arenas that has no recourse but to appeal to pressure from the outside world (gaiatsu) for assistance (as NJ minorities clearly also must do).

Speaking to the first point in particular: Before we even touch upon the lousy demographic science, how insulting for NJ once again to simply “not count” as part of Japan’s population. Some J-articles have minced words by qualifying the ethnically-cleansed statistic as “the population of Japanese people” (nihonjin no jinkou). But others (see the Nikkei below) simply render it as “Japan’s population” (nihon no jinkou). When they eventually get around to mentioning that NJ are also here, they render them as “nihon ni taizai suru gaikokujin” (NJ “staying” in Japan, as opposed to zaijuu “residing”). How immensely arrogant and unappreciative of all that NJ residents do for Japan!

Yomiuri: Japan’s population on Jan. 1 of this year was down 0.19 percent from a year before at 126,434,964, falling for the fifth straight year, the internal affairs ministry said Wednesday. The figure was calculated based on Japan’s resident registry network system and does not include foreign residents.

Mainichi: A Tokyo metropolitan assemblywoman [Shiomura Ayaka], who was subjected to sexist jeers during a recent assembly meeting, stressed that the heckling came from more than one person as she spoke at a news conference for the foreign media. […] The Tokyo metropolitan assembly voted down on Wednesday a resolution that called for identifying assembly members who heckled an assemblywoman last week with sexist remarks, with disapproval by the Liberal Democratic Party delegation, the biggest group in the assembly.

JK comments: The quote I’d like to focus on is this: “The incident has caused deep embarrassment to Japan which is preparing to host the Olympics.” Soo…. seeing as how the political option got voted down twice, it looks to me like the only option Shiomura has to effect change in the gikai is via pulling the shame lever in form of a Kisha Club press conference. My take is that this move is intended to generate attention with gaiatsu as a real and possible side effect. Assuming this is case, can your conclusion to the Urawa “Japanese Only” Soccer Banner Case (i.e. Gaiatsu is basically the only way to make progress against racial discrimination in Japan) be generalized to include political misogyny as well?

http://www.debito.org/?p=12482

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2) Reuters Special Report on Japan’s “Trainee System” as “Sweatshops in Disguise”: Foreign interns pay the price for Japan’s labor shortage

REUTERS: The most recent government data show there are about 155,000 technical interns in Japan. Nearly 70 percent are from China, where some labor recruiters require payment of bonds worth thousands of dollars to work in Japan. Interns toil in apparel and food factories, on farms and in metal-working shops. In these workplaces, labor abuse is endemic: A 2012 investigation by Japanese labor inspectors found 79 percent of companies that employed interns were violating labor laws. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare said it would use strict measures, including prosecution, toward groups that repeatedly violated the laws or failed to follow its guidance in their treatment of technical interns.

Critics say foreign interns have become an exploited source of cheap labor in a country where, despite having the world’s most rapidly ageing population, discussion of increased immigration is taboo. The U.S. State Department, in its 2013 Trafficking in Persons report, criticized the program’s use of “extortionate contracts”, restrictions on interns’ movements, and the imposition of heavy fees if workers leave. […]

Not long after [Trainees Lu, Qian and Jiang’s] arrival, the [Burberry outsourcing] apparel association took the women’s passports and passed them to Kameda in violation of Japanese law protecting interns’ freedom of movement, according to the lawsuit. An Ishikawa Apparel Association spokeswoman, who declined to give her name, said the group does not conduct inappropriate supervision and training, but declined further comment citing the lawsuit.

At the factory, Lu, Qian and Jiang’s overtime stretched to more than 100 hours a month, the lawsuit says. A timesheet prepared with data supplied by Kameda to the Japanese labor standards bureau shows Lu logged an average of 208 hours a month doing overtime and “homework” during her second year in Japan. That is equivalent to almost 16 hours a day, six days a week. Japanese labor policy considers 80 hours of overtime a month the “death by overwork” threshold.

For this, Lu earned about 400 yen, about $4, an hour at Kameda, the timesheet shows. The local minimum wage at the time was 691 yen an hour, and Japanese law requires a premium of as much as 50 percent of the base wage for overtime. […]

Japan faces a worsening labor shortage, not only in family-run farms and factories such as Kameda but in construction and service industries. It is a major reason that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration is planning a further expansion of the trainee program.

http://www.debito.org/?p=12470

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ON THE RADAR AND INFLUENCING PUBLIC OPINION:

3) World Cup 2014: Held in Brazil, but causes tightened police security in Tokyo due to alleged possibility of “vandalism”

JT: Tokyo police will deploy about 800 officers in the Shibuya area Sunday to control crowds and reduce jams, noise and possible vandalism as Japan faces Cote d’Ivoire in the opening round of soccer’s World Cup. “We expect considerable congestion with soccer fans, shoppers and tourists,” a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department said Wednesday. “We will take necessary security measures to ensure a smooth traffic flow, control the congestion and prevent trouble.”

COMMENT: Sooo…. once again we see the bad precedents established by bringing any major international event to Japan. I’ve written before on the bad precedents set by, for example, the G8 Summits (where foreigners anywhere in Japan, even hundreds of miles away in Hokkaido!, are cause for NPA crackdowns in the capital). And also the same with the 2002 World Cup, where the media was whipped into a frenzy over the possible prospect of “hooligans” laying waste to Japan and siring unwanted babies from rapes. (seriously). This time, in 2014, the games are thousands of miles away in Brazil. But the NPA has still gotta crack down! The paranoia, bunker mentalities, even outright falsification of data in order to justify a more-policed Japan are reaching ever more ludicrous degrees.

http://www.debito.org/?p=12460

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4) J-Govt. “We are Tomodachi” Newsletter Vol. 4 , June 2014 offers fascinating insights into PM Abe Admin mindsets

Any good organization wanting public approval (or in this case, approval from its geopolitical “friends”) does outreach. And this very professional online magazine issued yesterday from the Abe Administration, called “We are Tomodachi”, is worth an introduction to Debito.org Readers. It offers fascinating insights into what the PM Abe Administration is thinking (or trying to convince you it is thinking — something few branches of Japan’s governmental organs do in any convincing detail even for its citizens). As The Economist (London) recently noted, Abe is “Japan’s most purposeful prime minister for many years”, and herein many of Abe’s purposes are clearly argued in well-proofed English, albeit in all their stiff transparency. Here’s the Table of Contents: […]

Part travel guide, part geopolitical gaijin handling, part cultural screed (cue those shakuhachis!), “We Are Tomodachi” magazine is a great read to deconstruct how the Abe Administration is trying to march the Post-Bubble discourse on Japan back into the first-generation Postwar discourse. Ah, those were the days, when Japan’s elites had near-total control over Japan’s image in the world, and so few outsiders had any understanding (or or had experienced Japan in great depth) that they would ever be taken seriously by anyone who wasn’t a “real Japanese” (moreover, the handful of NJ who did know something could be co-opted as anointed cultural emissaries; they’re still trying to do it within this very magazine). No, since then millions of people have since experienced Japan beyond the GOJ boilerplate, have lived and invested their lives in Japan, and have learned the Japanese language. So the dialogue is not so easily controlled by the elites anymore. (PM Abe’s Gaijin Handlers: If you’re dropping in on Debito.org again, Yokoso and enjoy our Omotenashi!)

So, Gaijin Handlers, here’s a lesson on what to avoid next time: What irritates people like us who know better is your cultivated mysticism in elite conversations about anything cultural in Japan. Consider this example of bogus social science (depicted as a “secret”) from page 72:

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“The Japanese have a reputation for being taciturn and hard to communicate with. Probably the most difficult part of Japanese communication for people from other countries is the way people here converse wordlessly. When people are standing silently at some natural attraction, they’re using their five senses to feel nature and commune with it. So if you notice some quiet Japanese in such a spot, you might try joining them in their silence, taking in everything around you with all your senses: light, wind, sky, clouds, sounds, smells. Because even when nobody is talking, there is plenty of communication going on in Japan.”
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This is a juicy claim for deconstruction under a number of genres of social science. The biggest confusion you’re going to cause in NJ tourists and newbies will come when they confront the amount of noise at many a tourist trap (especially from those trying to “nigiyaka” the place up with their megaphoned music), and wonder how they’re supposed to use all their five senses like the mystical Japanese apparently do. Logically, this also means the purported J-silence around awkward conversations could be due to the inscrutably “shy” Japanese trying to take NJ in with all their five senses too (I wonder what happens when they get to “Smell”, “Touch”, or “Taste”?). What rubbishy analytical tools. And it’s one reason why so many people (Japanese and NJ) go nuts in Japan, because they’re constantly told one thing yet experience another.

http://www.debito.org/?p=12448

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5) MLB J-baseball player Kawasaki Munenori doing his best to speak English to North American media. Debito.org approves.

While we’re on the subject of sports, here’s something that I found very positive: A Japanese baseball player for the Toronto Blue Jays named Kawasaki Munenori doing his darnedest to meet the domestic press (video here): I have written in the past about how certain other Japanese athletes overseas do it differently. In fact, my very first newspaper column (in the Asahi Evening News — remember when it was titled that?) way back in 1997 was a grumble (what else? I’m Debito) on how J-baseball pioneer Nomo Hideo (remember him?) was skiving in terms of trying to connect with his adoptive community (article here).

I will admit right now that I’m no expert on sports, but from what I’ve seen (and I’m welcome to correction/updates), many of Japan’s athletes overseas don’t bother to publicly learn the language, or connect all that much with their local community. Baseball superstar Ichiro is the immediate example that comes to mind, as AFAIK he assiduously avoids American media; some might justify it by saying he’s all business (i.e., focused on the game) or trying to avoid gaffes. But I still think it comes off as pretty snobby, since these sportsmen’s lives are being supported by fans, and they should give something back.

If I had a hotline into their brain, I would tell them to go further — exhort them to countermand the dominant discourse that English is too hard for Japanese to learn well. And then I would exhort even further: J sportsmen in the big leagues get treated pretty well (especially salarywise — that’s why they’re no longer playing in Japan!), yet you never hear them speaking up about the shoe on the other foot, on behalf of the often lousy and discriminatory treatment many NJ sportsmen get treated in Japan (imagine if the United States put such stringent foreigner limits on their baseball team rosters, for example; contrast it with how many foreign players (more than a quarter of the total in 2012) MLB actually absorbs!)

Again, sports isn’t quite my field, and if you think I’m being inaccurate or unduly harsh, speak up! People have in the past: Here’s an archived discussion we had nearly twenty years ago about Nomo in specific; I daresay that despite all the trailblazing Nomo did, and the wave of Japanese baseball players going overseas to seek fame and fortune, little has changed in terms of giving back.

That’s why Kawasaki is such a lovely exception, doing his level best to connect. His earnestness is very endearing. Debito.org gives two thumbs up! May more follow his example.

http://www.debito.org/?p=12323

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6) Fodor’s Travel Guide on Japan 2014 features two chapters on Hokkaido and Tohoku written by Debito

Here is my latest publication, expanded this time from one chapter to two:
FODOR’S Japan 2014 Travel Guide
Two full chapters on tourism in Hokkaido and Tohoku
Pp. 707-810. ISBN 978-0-8041-4185-7.
Available from Amazon.com (for example).
Here are some excerpts. Get a copy, or advise your touring friends to get a copy!

http://www.debito.org/?p=12473

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… and finally…

7) My Japan Times JBC column 76: “Humanize the dry debate about immigration”, June 5, 2014

Opening: Japan’s pundits are at it again: debating what to do about the sinking demographic ship. With the low birthrate, aging and shrinking society (we dropped below 127 million this year) and top-heavy social security system, Japan’s structural problems will by many accounts spell national insolvency.

However, we’re hearing the same old sky pies: Proposals to plug the gaps with more Japanese babies, higher retirement ages, more empowered women in the workplace — even tax money thrown at matchmaking services!

And yet they still won’t work. Policymakers are working backwards from conclusions and not addressing the structural problems, e.g., that people are deserting a depopulating countryside for urban opportunities in an overly centralized governmental system, marrying later (if at all) and finding children too expensive or cumbersome for cramped living spaces, having both spouses work just to stay afloat, and feeling perpetual disappointment over a lack of control over their lives. And all thanks to a sequestered ruling political and bureaucratic elite whose basic training is in status-quo maintenance, not problem-solving for people they share nothing in common with.

Of course, proposals have resurfaced about letting in more non-Japanese (NJ) to work…

Full article with links to sources and comments at
http://www.debito.org/?p=12437

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That’s all for this month. See you in August for more mirth and mayhem!

Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, twitter @arudoudebito)
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 3, 2014 ENDS

Japan Times JBC 77 July 3, 2014,”Complexes continue to color Japan’s ambivalent ties to the outside world”, modified version with links to sources

mytest

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COMPLEXES CONTINUE TO COLOR JAPAN’S AMBIVALENT TIES TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD

JAPAN TIMES JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 77
Published July 3, 2014, amended version from unanticipated edits with links to sources.

Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/07/02/issues/complexes-continue-color-japans-ambivalent-ties-outside-world/

Hang around Japan long enough and you’re bound to hear the refrain that the Japanese have an inferiority complex (rettōkan) towards “Westerners” (ōbeijin).

You’ll hear, for example, that Japanese feel a sense of akogare (adoration) towards them, wishing Japanese too had longer legs, deeper noses, lighter and rounder eyes, lighter skin, etc. You’ll see this reflected in Japan’s advertising angles, beauty and whitening products, and cosmetic surgery. [Endnote 1]

This can be quite ingratiating and disarming to the (white) foreigners being flattered, who have doubtless heard complementary refrains in Western media about how the short, humble, stoic Japanese are so shy, self-deprecating and appreciative.

But people don’t seem to realize that inferiority complexes have a dark side: They justify all kinds of crazy beliefs and behavior.

For example, Japan’s pundits have already begun arguing that Japan’s disappointing performance in the World Cup in Brazil was partly down to the fallacy that Japanese bodies are smaller and weaker than those of foreigners. Japan’s sports leagues have long used this belief to justify limiting foreign players on teams — as if it somehow “equalizes” things.

This “equalization” is not limited to the infamous examples of baseball and sumo. The National Sports Festival (kokutai),[2] Japan’s largest amateur athletic meeting, bans almost all foreigners. Japan’s popular Ekiden footrace bans all foreigners from the first leg of the marathon, and from 2007 has capped foreign participants on teams at two (the logic being that the Ekiden would become “dull” (kyōzame) without a Japanese winning).[3]

Who is a “foreigner”? It’s not just a matter of citizenship: The Japan Sumo Association decided to count even naturalized Japanese citizens as “foreign” in 2010, in clear violation of the Nationality Law. (Somebody, please sue!)

These limitations also apply to intellectual contests. Until 2006, Japan’s national Takamado English Speech Contests barred all people (including Japanese) with “foreign ancestry”. This included non-English-speaking countries, the argument being that any foreign blood somehow injects an unfair linguistic advantage. (After 2006, Takamado provided a list of English-speaking countries whose descendants would continue to be ineligible.)

This is atrocious reasoning. But it is so hegemonic because of Japan’s long history of race-based superiority studies.

In 1875, Yukichi Fukuzawa (the man gracing our ¥10,000 note) wrote an influential treatise called “An Outline of a Theory of Civilization.” Borrowing from Western eugenics, he reordered the world to correlate levels of civilization with skin color.[4]

White-hued people were at the top, dark-skinned people at the bottom. Naturally for Fukuzawa, Asians were ranked just below whites. And, naturally, Japanese were the most “civilized” of the Asians.

The West has largely moved on from this dangerous bunkum, thanks to the “master race” excesses of World War II and Nazi Germany’s Final Solution. However, Japan’s social sciences still largely ascribe to century-old social stratification systems that see race as a biological construct, and bloodlines and blood types as determinants of behavior.

So far, so Japanese Society 101. But the point I want to stress here is that inferiority complexes are counterintuitively counterproductive.

I say counterintuitive because they foster feelings not of humility towards people they admire, but of anger. Yes, anger.

Harvard University anthropologist Ayu Majima discusses this in her 2013 essay “Skin Color Melancholy in Modern Japan.” She talks about how the elites of the Meiji Era (1868-1912) (who would set Japan’s nascent national narratives) felt a sense of “distance, inferiority and disjuncture towards the West.”[5]

Distance was a big theme back then. Although Japan is of course geographically Asian, with deep historical connections to China, Fukuzawa and other Meiji Era elites advocated that Japan “quit Asia and enter Europe” (datsu-a nyū-ō).

So that’s what happened. Over several decades, Japan industrialized, militarized, colonized and adopted the fashions and trappings of “Western civilization.” Japan sought recognition and acceptance from the West not as an inferior, but as a fellow world power. Japan wanted the sense of distance to disappear.

But that didn’t happen. Japan’s elites were shocked when the League of Nations (the precursor to the United Nations) refused to include in its 1919 Covenant an anti-racial discrimination clause that Japan (yes!) had demanded. More shocking was when Japan was treated like a “colored,” “uncivilized” nation under America’s Asian Exclusion Act of 1924.[6]

This is where the psychology of inferiority complexes is generally misunderstood. When people try this hard for validation and don’t get it, it doesn’t engender the passive humility and must-try-harder attitudes so often gushed about in the Western media regarding Japan.

Majima argues, “While an inferiority complex is generally regarded as a sense of inferiority towards oneself, it should rather be regarded as a sense of indignity and anger towards the lack of recognition of one’s worth . . . for not being recognized, approved or admitted by the important ‘other.’ “

So instead you get isolation, loneliness, anxiety and scant sense of belonging. (I’m sure you long-termers who feel unrecognized for all your efforts to “fit in to Japan” can relate to this.)

How did Japan react to being rebuffed? Policymakers declared that Japan neither belonged to the East nor the West. It isolated itself.

Worse, according to Majima, “Japan sought to identify itself through the unstable ‘distance’ between self and others as ‘tradition.’ “

Ah, tradition. Lovely thing, that. It turns this angry mindset from a phase in Japan’s history into part of its permanent self-image.

This feeling of isolation gave rise to Japan’s “cult of uniqueness,” and it dominates Japan’s self-image today, constantly vacillating between superiority and inferiority when dealing with foreigners. This “tradition” of ranking oneself in comparison with others, particularly in terms of degrees of civilization, has become ingrained as cultural habit and reflex.

And that’s why inferiority complexes are counterproductive for Japan’s relationship to the outside world: They make it more difficult for “foreigners” to be seen and treated as individuals. Instead, they get thrust into the impossible role of national or cultural representative of a whole society.

They also make it more difficult for Japanese to be neutral towards foreigners. Rather, the default reflex is to see them in terms of comparative national development and civilization.

These complexes also interfere with constructive conversations. For if acceptance, recognition and superlative praise of Japan as a safe, peaceful, developed country are not forthcoming from the outsider, insult and anger almost inevitably ensue. After all, criticism of Japan besmirches its self-image as a civilized society.

This is especially true when it comes to issues of racial discrimination in Japan. Japanese society is loath to admit it ever happens here — because racial discrimination is not what “civilized” societies do. I will discuss this in a future column.

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Debito Arudou received his Ph.D. from Meiji Gakuin University in International Studies in April. Twitter: @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments: community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDNOTES:

[1] Ashikari, Mikiko. 2005. “Cultivating Japanese Whiteness: The ‘Whitening’ Cosmetics Boom and the Japanese Identity.” Journal of Material Culture 10(1): 73-91.

[2] References includeArudou Debito, “A level playing field? National Sports Festival bars gaijin, and amateur leagues follow suit.” Japan Times, September 30, 2003; “Sumo shutout in Fukushima.” Japan Times, September 30, 2003; “Top court upholds foreigner ban.” Japan Times, June 12, 2004. See also Douglas Shukert’s testimonial about his case at www.debito.org/TheCommunity/kokutaiproject.html. Also, JASA’s information on the Kokutai is at www.japan-sports.or.jp/kokutai/, in English at www.japan-sports.or.jp/english (which makes no mention of nationality requirements for participants).

[3] Sources include “Foreign students can’t start ekiden.” Asahi Shinbun, May 24, 2007; “Let’s be fair, let Japanese win.” Deutsche Press-Agentur, October 4, 2007. The official site for the High School Ekiden is at www.koukouekiden.jp. Restrictions on “foreign exchange students” are at www.koukouekiden.jp/summary/point.html (items 5 and 6), and prior race results are at www39.atwiki.jp/highschoolekiden.

[4] Dilworth, David A. et al. trans. 2009. Yukichi Fukuzawa: An Outline of a Theory of Civilization. New York: Columbia University Press.

[5] Majima, Ayu. 2013. “Skin Color Melancholy in Modern Japan: Male Elites’ Racial Experiences Abroad, 1880s-1950s.” In Kowner, Rotem, and Walter Demel, eds., Race and Racism in Modern East Asia: Western and Eastern Constructions. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

[6] Cf. Lauren 1988; Kearney 1998; Dikötter 2006.  Even then, as Russell (in Weiner, ed. 2009:  99) notes, “[Japan’s] rhetoric of racial equality left much to be desired, for not only did Japan’s racial equality clause not question the right of League members to possess colonies (at the time Japan was also seeking [a new colony in China]) but its demand for ‘fair and equal treatment’ applied only to ‘civilized nations’ (bunmei koku) and League member states – not to their colonies and subject peoples.  Japan’s ruling elites were less interested in securing equality for non-whites than in ensuring that Japan, as a sovereign nation and member of the League, would be afforded the same privileges as Western nations…”

ENDS