Holiday Tangent: Hanif Kureishi on UK’s Enoch Powell: How just one racist-populist politician can color the debate in an entire society

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Hi Blog, and Happy Impending Holidays. As a Holiday Tangent, the Guardian offers an excellent account of life for migrants, immigrants, and citizens of color in a society in flux (Great Britain in the 1970s, as it adjusted to the effects of a post-empire Commonwealth).  It depicts well how one racist-populist politician, Enoch Powell, could affect an entire society, and though fear-mongering invective effectively accelerate the othering and subordination of residents.

But that was just one person.  Imagine the effects of a proliferation of Enoch Powellesque racists and fearmongerers throughout a society, such as the leader of a party (Hiranuma Takeo), the governor of the capital city (like Ishihara Shintaro), or the Prime Minister of an entire country (like Abe Shinzo), or Japan’s entire national police force (see here, here, and here in particular).  Enoch had his effects, and Kureishi can now look back with some degree of “the past is a foreign country” relief.  Japan cannot.  Not right now.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Hanif Kureishi: Knock, knock, it’s Enoch
The novelist and screenwriter remembers the effect of Enoch Powell – it’s impossible not to summon his ghost now that immigration is again centre of the political stage
The Guardian, Friday 12 December 2014, courtesy of PKU
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/dec/12/enoch-powell-hanif-kureishi

I was 14 in 1968 and one of the horrors of my teenage years was Enoch Powell. For a mixed-race kid, this stiff ex-colonial zealot – with his obscene, grand guignol talk of whips, blood, excreta, urination and wide-eyed piccaninnies – was a monstrous, scary bogeyman. I remember his name being whispered by my uncles for fear I would overhear.

I grew up near Biggin Hill airfield in Kent, in the shadow of the second world war. We walked past bomb sites everyday. My grandmother had been a “fire watcher” and talked about the terror of the nightly Luftwaffe raids. With his stern prophet’s nostalgia, bulging eyes and military moustache, Powell reminded us of Hitler, and the pathology of his increasing number of followers soon became as disquieting as his pronouncements. At school, Powell’s name soon become one terrifying word – Enoch. As well as being an insult, it began to be used with elation. “Enoch will deal with you lot,” and, “Enoch will soon be knocking on your door, pal.” “Knock, knock, it’s Enoch,” people would say as they passed. Neighbours in the London suburbs began to state with some defiance: “Our family is with Enoch.” More skinheads appeared.

It was said, after Powell mooted the idea for a Ministry of Repatriation, that we “offspring”, as he called the children of immgrants, would be sent away. “A policy of assisting repatriation by payment of fares and grants is part of the official policy of the Conservative party,” he stated in 1968. Sometimes, idly, I wondered how I might like it in India or Pakistan, where I’d never been, and whether I’d be welcomed. But others said that if we were born here, as I was, it would be only our parents who would be sent back. We would, then, have to fend for ourselves, and I imagined a parentless pack of us unwanted mongrels, hunting for food in the nearby woods.

Repatriation, Powell said, “would help to achieve with minimum friction what must surely be the object of everyone – to prevent, so far as that is still possible, a major racial problem in the Britain of AD2000.” It was clear: if Britain had lost an empire and not yet recovered from the war, our added presence would only cause more strife – homelessness, joblessness, prostitution and drug addiction. Soon the indigenous whites would be a “persecuted minority” or “strangers” in their own country. It would be our turn, presumably, to do the persecuting.

The influence of Powell, this ghost of the empire, was not negligible; he moved British politics to the right and set the agenda we address today. It’s impossible not to summon his ghost now that immigration is once again the subject of national debate. Politicians attack minorities when they want to impress the public with their toughness as “truth-tellers”. And Powell’s influence extended far. In 1976 – the year before the Clash’s “White Riot” – and eight years after Powell’s major speeches, one of my heroes, Eric Clapton, ordered an audience to vote for Powell to prevent Britain becoming a “black colony”. Clapton said that, “Britain should get the wogs out, get the coons out,” before repeatedly shouting the National Front slogan “Keep Britain White”.

A middle-class, only child from Birmingham, socially inept and repressed, Powell had taken refuge in books and “scholarship” for most of his life. He was perhaps happiest during the war, spending three years in military intelligence in India. Like a lot of Brits, he loved the empire and colonial India, where he could escape his parents and the constraints of Britain. Many Indians were intimidated by and subservient to British soldiers, as my family attested. Like most colonialists, Powell was a bigger, more powerful man in India than he’d have been in England. No wonder he was patriotic and believed giving up the empire would be a disaster. “I had always been an imperialist and a Tory,” he said.

On his return in 1945, Powell went into politics. Like the grandees he aspired to be, he took up churchgoing and fox-hunting. Before his speeches on race, he was an obedient, relatively undistinguished servant of the state. But he was also, in fact, a proto-Thatcherite: a supporter of the free market and lower taxes with a utopian vision of unregulated capitalism where, miraculously, everything people required would be provided by the simple need for profit. Soon, as Thatcher said, there would be no alternative.

But, in 1968, that great year of newness, experimentation and hope, when people were thinking in new ways about oppression, relationships and equality, there was a terrible return. This odd Edwardian figure popped up into public life, and decided to became a demagogue. Richard Crossman, in his diary of 1968, worried about Powell’s celebrity appeal to “mass opinion, right over our parliament and his party leadership”.

Appealing to the worst in people – their hate – is a guaranteed way to get attention, but it is also fatal. Powell talked in whole sentences and was forever translating Herodotus, so was known for his cleverness. But he wasn’t smart enough to resist the temptation of instant populism for which he traded in his reputation. Racism is the fool’s gold, or, rather, the crack cocaine of politics. The 1970s was a dangerous time for people of colour – the National Front was active and violent, particularly in south London, and it was an ignoble sacrifice for Powell to attack the most vulnerable and unprotected, those workers who had left their homes to come to Britain. He elevated his phobia to a political position, and there was no going back.

Like many racists, Powell was nostalgic in his fantasies: before all this mixing, there was a time of clarity and plenitude, when Britishness was fixed and people knew who they were. Powell refused to allow his certainties to come into contact with reality. He had wanted to know India, but barely troubled himself with Britain and, apart from some weekends in Wolverhampton, lived most of his life in Belgravia.

In contrast to the crude caricatures of people of colour perpetrated by Powell, the Guyanese-born, Cambridge-educated writer ER Braithwaite – who served in the RAF before becoming a teacher in the East End because he couldn’t get a job as a engineer – writes in detail about race between the late-40s and the mid-60s. Three important works in particular, To Sir, With Love, Reluctant Neighbours and Choice of Straws engage with this era. From this clear-eyed, brave novelist we learn about the everyday humiliations, abuse and remarks that people of colour had to face after being invited to help run the NHS and transport system. To make the future it wanted, Britain needed the best doctors, engineers, architects, artists and workers of all kinds, and it imported them, before insulting them.

Powell liked to complain about every vile “imputation and innuendo” made about him; he was keen to be a martyr and victim. Braithwaite, for his part, really suffered. He catalogues the systemic and degrading exclusion from jobs and housing that so disillusioned immigrants about the British with their babble about fairness, liberty and the mother country. His books describe the rage and hate that relentless humiliation inevitably engenders – as colonialism did, in its time. Powell probably intuited the simple idea that tyranny creates resistance, and grasped that future conflicts would be caused by the tyranny he supported, hence his apocalypticism.

Powell developed his own schoolmasterish look. Always in black, sometimes in a long overcoat and occasionally in a little homburg, he was punky and subversive, and came to enjoy making everyone furious with his provocations. And he had the cheek to call us “a roomful of gunpowder”. He didn’t fit in; but he certainly liked to disorientate and traumatise us. After he spoke, we were in freefall; we didn’t know where or who we were. Powell wanted to confirm us as outsiders, as unintelligible and unwanted, but this helped us clarify things and created resistance. Out of Clapton’s statements, for instance, came Rock Against Racism, created by artists, musicians and activists to combat fascism. Then there was identity politics. We were not nothing; we had histories and, unlike him, we had futures.

Powell was creating the conflict he claimed to be the solution to. He soon found himself supported by the National Front. Powell had called himself a Nietszchean as a young man, but Nietzsche would have hated the wretched appeal to the mob or herd. Powell was merely addressing the bitter rabble, and, for so fastidious a man, this would have been distasteful, and he must have considered how incapable our intelligence can be when it comes to protecting us from the temptations of self-destruction.

He cheated his followers, because all he gave them was the brief thrill of superiority and hatred. Nothing substantial altered in the world, and the wild, amoral capitalism that developed from his Hayek-inspired economic vision created wealth for some, but otherwise had no respect for the homes or jobs of Powell’s followers, nor for the other things he cared about – tradition, national borders, patriotism or religion.

Although he was attacked and condemned by students wherever he went, he didn’t trouble himself to think about the profound social changes sweeping the country, as young people attempted to liberate themselves from the assumptions of the past. Britain wasn’t decaying, it was remaking itself, even as it didn’t know how the story would end.

In London now, if you stroll through the crowds on a bright Sunday afternoon near the museums and decorated shop fronts, even for those of us who have been here for years, this multiracial metropolis – less frantic than New York, and with more purpose than Paris, and with its scores of languages – seems like nothing that has ever been made before. And it grows ever more busy, bustling and compelling in its beauty, multiplicity and promise, particularly for those of us who remember how dull and eventless London could seem in the 70s, especially on Sundays.

Britain survived Powell and became something he couldn’t possibly have envisioned. He was a pessimist and lacked faith in the ability of people to cooperate with one another, to collaborate and make alliances. The cultural collisions he was afraid of are the affirmative side of globalisation. People do not love one another because they are “the same”, and they don’t always kill one another because they are different. Where, indeed, does difference begin? Why would it begin with race or colour?

Racism is the lowest form of snobbery. Its language mutates: not long ago the word “immigrant” became an insult, a stand-in for “paki” or “nigger”. We remain an obstruction to “unity”, and people like Powell, men of ressentiment, with their omens and desire to humiliate, will return repeatedly to divide and create difference. The neoliberal experiment that began in the 80s uses racism as a vicious entertainment, as a sideshow, while the wealthy continue to accumulate. But we are all migrants from somewhere, and if we remember that, we could all go somewhere – together.

ENDS

Grauniad: Police in Japan place anti-Korean extremist group Zaitokukai on watchlist; good news, if enforced

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Hi Blog. Some interesting news here. According to the Grauniad (article below), hate group Zaitokukai (which has been part of a group publicly advocating the killing of Japan’s generational Korean residents, the Zainichi) has been placed on a National Police Agency “watchlist” as a threat to law and order.

That is good news.  However, I wonder if it will deter Zaitokukai’s bullying activities, where they can verbally abuse, knock down, and even punch (watch the video to the end) an old man who counterdemonstrates against them:

Where were the police then?  (Or then? Or then? Or then? Or then? Or then? Or within the movie Yasukuni?)

As Debito.org has argued before, the Japanese police have a soft touch for extreme-rightists, but take a hard line against extreme(?) leftists.  So placing this particular group on a watch list is a good thing.  As having laws against violence and threats to law and order is a good thing.  Alas, if those laws are not enforced by Japan’s boys in blue, that makes little difference.  We will have to wait and see whether we’ll see a softening of Zaitokukai’s rhetoric or Sakurai Makoto’s bullying activities.

Meanwhile, according to the Mainichi Shinbun at the very bottom, local governments (as opposed to the foot-dragging PM Abe Cabinet) are considering laws against hate speech (well, they’re passing motions calling for one, anyway).  That’s good too, considering that not long ago they were actually passing panicky resolutions against allowing Permanent Residents (particularly those same Zainichi) the right to vote in local elections.  Methinks that if the world (e.g., the United Nations) wasn’t making an issue of Japan’s rising hate speech (what with the approaching 2020 Tokyo Olympics and all), this would probably not be happening.  In other words, the evidence suggests that it’s less an issue of seeing the Zainichi as fellow residents and human beings deserving equal rights, more an issue of Japan avoiding international embarrassment.  I would love to be proven wrong on this, but the former is a much more sustainable push than the latter.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Police in Japan place anti-Korean extremist group Zaitokukai on watchlist
Ultra-nationalist group, which claims to have 15,000 members, deemed a threat to law and order
By Justin McCurry in Tokyo
The Guardian, Thursday 4 December 2014 10.29 EST
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/04/police-japan-rightwing-anti-korean-extremist-group-zaitokukai-watchlist

Police in Japan have placed a rightwing extremist group on its watchlist for the first time amid growing international pressure to crack down on a rise in hate speech against the country’s Korean community.

In its annual security report published this week, the National Police Agency said Zaitokukai, an ultra-nationalist group that claims it has 15,000 members, should be considered a potential threat to law and order.

Zaitokukai calls for the end to welfare and other “privileges” afforded to about half a million non-naturalised members of Japan’s ethnic Korean community, including the descendants of labourers brought over from the Korean peninsula to work in mines and factories before and during the second world war.

It frequently holds demonstrations, often in parts of cities such as Tokyo and Osaka with large Korean populations. Its supporters have described ethnic Koreans as “criminals” and “cockroaches” and called for them to be killed. Police said Zaitokukai and other far-right groups had held more than 100 rallies in the first 10 months of this year.

The police agency report – which usually targets members of Japan’s vast network of yakuza gangs – warned Zaitokukai was a potential threat to the public due to its “extreme nationalist and xenophobic” ideology.

Zaitokukai’s inclusion in the security watch list is unprecedented and comes months after Eriko Yamatani, who as minister for public security is Japan’s most senior police official, failed to publicly condemn the group.

Yamatani was invited to distance herself from Zaitokukai this October after a 2009 photograph emerged of her with Shigeo Masuki, then a senior member of the group. She told journalists she did not recall the photograph being taken, adding that it was not appropriate to comment on the policies of individual groups.

“Japan has a long history of placing great value on the idea of harmony and respecting the rights of everyone,” she said.

In July, a court in Osaka ruled that a Zaitokukai demonstration held near a school in Kyoto with links to a North Korean residents group amounted to racial discrimination.

In October, Osaka’s mayor, Toru Hashimoto, confronted Zaitokukai’s then leader, Makoto Sakurai, during a one-on-one debate, labelling him and his supporters racists who were not welcome in the city. The debate ended after just a few minutes, with both men hurling insults at each other and, at one point, appearing on the verge of physical violence.

The UN committee on the elimination of racial discrimination has called on Japan to address hate speech and incitement to racist violence during demonstrations, and to punish public officials and politicians who disseminate hate speech. This week South Korea’s national assembly adopted a resolution urging Japan to take similar measures.

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ヘイトスピーチ:法規制求める意見書 地方議会続々採択

毎日新聞 2014年12月20日 15時00分

 http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20141220k0000e040211000c.html, courtesy of BS.

 社会問題化しているヘイトスピーチについて、国による法規制などを求める意見書の採択が地方議会で相次いでいる。背景には、在日コリアンへのヘイトスピーチを人種差別と認めた判断が確定した今月9日の最高裁決定があり、19日に可決された3自治体の意見書にはいずれも決定の内容が盛り込まれた。意見書に拘束力はないが、差別や偏見をあおる行為に「NO」を表明する動きが全国で広がり始めた。

「2020年には東京五輪・パラリンピックが開催されるが、ヘイトスピーチを放置することは、国際社会における我が国への信頼を失うことにもなりかねない。法整備を速やかに行うことを強く求める」

さいたま市議会は19日、こう記された意見書案を全会一致で可決した。多文化共生政策に取り組んできた高柳俊哉議員(民主)は「市内ではJリーグのサポーターが差別的な横断幕を掲げる問題もあった。住民に一番近い立場の議会から要望を国に伝えることは意義がある」と話す。

堺市議会と鳥取県議会も同日、国に法整備などを求める意見書を可決。採択に向けた活動を進めてきた同市議会の山口典子議員(無所属)は「人種差別を禁止する法律を持たない先進国などありえない。排外主義団体が公共施設を使って活動していることにも憤りを感じる」と語る。

国に対策を促す地方議会の意見書を巡っては、東京・国立(くにたち)市議会が今年9月に全国で初めて可決。国連の人種差別撤廃委員会が8月に政府による法規制を日本に勧告した影響とみられ、名古屋市と奈良県議会も9月議会で採択した。

流れを後押ししたのが「在日特権を許さない市民の会」(在特会)の街頭宣伝活動を人種差別と認め、在特会側に約1200万円の賠償を命じた1、2審判決が確定した最高裁決定で、この12月議会では長野県▽福岡県▽京都府向日(むこう)市▽埼玉県宮代(みやしろ)町▽東京都東村山市▽同葛飾区−−などで可決された。

ヘイトスピーチの問題に詳しい師岡康子弁護士は「住民生活に密着した地方が国に毅然(きぜん)と態度表明をする意味は大きい。地方独自の取り組みを始めているところもあり、国は速やかに対策に取り組むべきだ」と指摘する。【小泉大士】

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG ELECTION SPECIAL DECEMBER 2014: A clear LDP victory, normalizing Japan’s Rightward swing

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Hi Blog. As is by now tradition on Debito.org, we offer a briefing on the recent Japanese Lower House election in a way that is germane to our Readers — with analysis on angles affecting our lives in Japan that might not otherwise be covered. For the record, I do this as a college-degree holder in Political Science with decades of interest (and training) in Japanese political processes. I also have great interest in this field (especially in Hokkaido politics, because I know many of the politicians due to working with them from the Otaru Onsens Case onwards).  I’ll skip the basics of how Japan’s political system is structured (you can get that from here) and go straight to the analysis:

DEBITO.ORG ELECTION SPECIAL DECEMBER 2014

In the Japanese media run-up to this election, there was enough narrative of doomsaying for opponents to PM Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), what with Japan’s Left in disarray and Japan’s Right ascendant after 2013’s electoral rout.  The LDP was to “win big by default” in a “landslide victory”.

The day after the election, we can say that yes, Abe won, but “big” is a bit of a relative term when you look at the numbers.  (All figures, as always, are sourced from major Japanese sources such as the Asahi and the Yomiuri Shinbuns, as of Monday December 14, 2014, 6AM JST.  All possible “spins” are mine.)

THE SUMMARY:  LDP WINS, BUT NOT SURPRISINGLY

Let’s take a look at Asahi’s excellent electoral map and make some observations (click on image to expand in browser):

electionmap2014asahi

This map of Japan by prefecture shows a lot of blue seats (signifying the LDP/Koumeitou Souka Gakkai alliance), demonstrating that the LDP held most of its seats.  (Notable exception:  Okinawa, which said “none of the above”, refusing to elect a single LDP, Koumeitou (KMT), or Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) candidate, and putting a Communist at the top.)

However, the LDP did not increase its seats — according to the table under the bar chart, the LDP went from 293 to 291 seats, meaning it lost 2.  The bigger winner was ally party KMT, which went from 31 to 35, thus increasing the ruling coalition’s hold over the Lower House by two seats to 326.

I suspect that this may be due to the postwar record low turnout this election, as KMT has an excellent “get-out-the-vote” mechanism within its Souka Gakkai religious followers. (KMT also tells its followers which people to vote for, so as to split their votes efficiently in multiple-seat constituencies; i.e., they don’t mostly vote for one and only get one candidate in instead of both).  A lower voter turnout means a higher proportion of the total voting KMT in an election.

So my read of this election is LDP didn’t lose, but they didn’t win astoundingly big, either.  That said, they’re still big enough in the Diet to have a supermajority and override any Upper House vetoes (unlikely anyway, as the Upper House is also in the LDP’s hands after 2013’s election).

OTHER WINNERS AND LOSERS

The other big winner was the Japan Communist Party, which went from 8 seats to 21.  This was due I believe to the lack of a viable opposition Left and people wanting to put their protest vote somewhere in this election.  The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the ruling party from 2009 until 2012 when they were soundly dismissed from office in a landslide LDP victory, also picked up seats (73, up from 62).  So there was a significant protest vote against Abe, but not nearly enough to stem any of Abe’s future plans.  More on those in a minute.

The big loser, however, was far-right racist xenophobe MPs Hiranuma Takeo and Ishihara Shintaro’s Jisedai no Tou (the alleged Party for Future Generations).  They plummeted from 19 seats to 2!  Thus, fortunately their foreigner-bashing policy planks and their anti-NJ policy proposals did not pay off.  These geriatrics had split off from the younger-looking far-right Ishin no Tou (Japan “Innovation” Party, most famously represented by charismatic Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Touru), which also lost one seat to become 41, but didn’t lose bigger allegedly due to a last-minute rally to get out the Proportional Representation (hireiku) vote.

CANDIDATES OF PARTICULAR INTEREST TO DEBITO.ORG READERS

In Tokyo, we had two fortunate losses from the Right and one close shave for the Left.

First, for the Left, former Prime Minister Kan Naoto of the DPJ lost his seat in the popular vote to the local LDP candidate in Tokyo 18-ku.  He was, however, resurrected in the Proportional Representation vote, so he’s still in.  However, the DPJ’s current party head, Kaieda Banri, lost his seat.

On the other hand, far-rightists such as remilitarist Tamogami Toshio (who ran under the Jisedai no Tou banner) did not get elected.  In fact, Tamogami ended up at the very bottom of the pile for his electoral district in Tokyo 12-ku.  Clearly he overestimated his popular appeal (not hard to do, given how disproportionately noisy his supporters are; further, he got 611,000 votes in the last Tokyo Governor’s election), garnering only 39,233 votes.  We haven’t seen the last of this creep, but this might give people a reality check about how far Rightism can go.

Now check out what happened to former Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro.  He will now retire from Japanese politics ignominiously as the person who gave up his bully pulpit as the Tokyo Governor in 2012, in a now ill-considered bid to secure greater power as a Dietmember.  He also ended up at the very bottom of the pile this time in his party’s Proportional Representation votes, which is quite a shameful way for a man of this stature and history to go.  Good riddance to you, sir.

CONCLUSIONS

In sum, the Far-Right (Jisedai) suffered most in this election, while the Far-Left (JCP) picked up more protest votes than the Center-Left (DPJ).  My read is that disillusioned Japanese voters, if they bothered to vote at all, saw the LDP/KMT as possibly more centrist in contrast to the other far-right parties, and hedged their bets.  With the doomsaying media awarding Abe the election well in advance, why would people waste their vote on a losing party unless they felt strongly enough about any non-issue being put up this election?

Nevertheless, the result will not be centrist.  With this election, Japan’s lurch to the Right has been complete enough to become normalized.  PM Abe will probably be able to claim a consolidated mandate for his alleged fiscal plans, but in reality his goals prioritize revising Japan’s “Peace Constitution” and eroding other firewalls between Japan’s “church and state” issues (e.g., Japan’s remilitarization, inserting more Shinto/Emperor worship mysticism in Japan’s laws, requiring more patriotism and “love of country” in Japan’s education curriculum, and reinforcing anything Japan’s corporatists and secretive bureaucrats don’t want the public to know as “state secrets”).

All of this bodes ill for NJ residents of Japan, as even Japanese citizens who have “foreign experiences” are to be treated as suspicious (and disqualified for jobs) in areas that the GOJ deems worthy of secrecy.  And as Dr. Jeff Kingston at Temple University in Japan notes, even the guidelines for determining what falls into that category are secret.  Nevertheless, it is clear that diversity of opinion, experience, or nationality/ethnicity is not what Japan’s planners want for Japan’s future.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan Election 2014: “Why taboo?” Grotesque foreigner-bashing cartoon by Hiranuma’s Jisedai Party, features “Taboo Pig” sliced in half over NJ welfare recipients “issue”

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Hi Blog.  As everyone in Japan probably knows (as they cover their ears due to the noise), it’s election time again, and time for the sound trucks and stump speeches to come out in force until December 14. (BTW, a magnificent take on Japan’s elections by Colin Jones at the JT is here.)  And with that, sadly, comes the requisite foreigner bashing so prevalent in recent years in Japan’s election and policy campaigns (see for example here, herehere, here, here, here, and here).

Here’s 2014’s version, from “The Party for Future Generations” (Jisedai no Tou; frontman:  racist xenophobe Dietmember from Okayama 3-ku Hiranuma Takeo), courtesy Debito.org Reader XY:

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

Dec. 8, 2014
Hello Debito, Thanks again for taking a look at the P&G video before.

Today I ran across this election campaign video that isn’t as bad as the usual CM fare, but seems to suggest that 8 times as many foreigners as native Japanese are receiving welfare hand-outs. Here’s the lyrics (from the video’s own description):

②生活保護タブーを斬る!篇

なぜだブー!なぜタブー?
日本の生活保護なのに日本国民なぜ少ない
僕らの税金つかうのに外国人なぜ8倍
なぜだブー!なぜタブー?

Here’s a link to the video that skips to the offending verse 30 seconds in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7ilGGkne-I&feature=youtu.be&t=30s

This can’t be accurate, surely? Am I missing something in translation? I’d be very grateful if you’d let me know.

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

COMMENT:  Well, that IS what they’re saying.  Here are some screen captures:

nazetaboojisedainotou1

COMMENT:  “We will slice taboos,” says Jisedai’s slogan.  Now check out the “Taboo Buta“(Taboo Pig) dancing around mockingly:

nazetaboojsedainotou20142

COMMENT: In their song and dance (text below), they’re offsetting foreigners with “Japanese citizens”, and asking why “our taxes” (bokura no zeikin) are being used more for foreigners by a factor of eight:

nazetaboojisedainotou20143

And then the coup de grace:

nazetaboojiseidanotou20144

Ouch.  I guess these people are inured to grotesque images involving swordplay, but I’m not.  Ick… Moving on:

Hiranuma’s people claim this is a “taboo topic” to cut through (as if to tempt the voters with a “forbidden fruit” discussion), but people have been talking about this issue plenty — even making some mean-spirited policy proposals in recent months).  For this ilk, labeling any discussion that they are on the losing end of as “taboo” is a frequent trope, so as to claim victimization through alleged suppression of their free speech.  And it’s hardly ever true.  It isn’t in this case.

Below, they’re also slicing pigs in half about limited 1) discussions in general, 3) working mothers, and 4) the Comfort Women Wartime Sexual Slaves (teleplay text courtesy of their above mentioned YouTube site):

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

Published on Dec 3, 2014
「タブーブタのウタ♪」 20万回再生突破→第2弾作っちゃいました!
第2弾 「タブーブタ第2」 → http://youtu.be/i2RsUaOCb9M

①タブーを斬る!篇

なぜだブー!なぜタブー?
ホントのことでも言わない
なぜかみんな知らぬふり
クサイものにはフタをして
都合わるいと見ないふり
なぜだブー!なぜタブー?

②生活保護タブーを斬る!篇

なぜだブー!なぜタブー?
日本の生活保護なのに
日本国民なぜ少ない
僕らの税金つかうのに
外国人なぜ8倍
なぜだブー!なぜタブー?

③女性の社会進出タブーを斬る!篇

なぜだブー!なぜタブー?
子育て犠牲にしてまで
なぜ働けと言うの?
子育てがんばるママさんも
輝く女性のはずなのに
なぜだブー!なぜタブー?

④慰安婦問題のタブーを斬る!篇

なぜだブー!なぜタブー?
慰安婦問題でっちあげ
なぜだもっと怒らない?
真相わかった今だから
そこは世界に言わないと
なぜだブー!なぜタブー?

タブーを斬る!
次世代の党
http://jisedai.jp

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

Now then, Jisedai doesn’t look to fare well in this election, so probably some Debito.org Readers will relax and say this is just how fringe politics works in democracies.  However, Debito.org is concerned about this normalization of NJ bashing — to the point of believing that blaming foreigners for just about anything gains you political capital.   Look how this alleged “NJ welfare cheats” issue has become one of Jisedai’s four (well, three, actually, since the first issue mentioned is a grumble instead of a substantive claim) planks in their platform.  Even though, as we have discussed here earlier, this is a non-issue.

There’s more rotten to say about this upcoming election, of course (again, read Colin Jones’ take and then take a shower), but how it affects NJ in Japan is Debito.org’s focus, so there you go.  Here’s hoping Japan’s electorate will slice through the bullshit politics on offer, but I doubt it.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Quiet NJ Success Story: Go game master and naturalized citizen Seigen Go dies at age 100

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Hello Blog. Here’s something that might go relatively unnoticed unless we bring it up here at Debito.org:

//////////////////////////////////////
Go master Seigen Go dies
The Yomiuri Shimbun
December 01, 2014
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001757079, courtesy of JK.

Go master Seigen Go, heralded as the strongest professional player in the Showa era, died of old age early Sunday morning at a hospital in Odawara, Kanagawa Prefecture. He was 100.

Funeral services will be held with only close relatives in attendance, but a more public farewell ceremony is expected to be held at a later time.

Go was born in 1914 in Fujian Province, China. His talent at go was recognized at an early age, and in 1928 he came to Japan at the age of 14. Go became a disciple of Kensaku Segoe, a seventh-dan player, and was quickly promoted to third dan the following year. He was granted the ninth dan in 1950 and became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 1979.

In 1933, Go and fifth-dan player Minoru Kitani announced a new strategy focusing on the center of the board, which has become the basis of modern go strategy.

Go dominated professional circles until his retirement in 1984, waging fierce battles with top players.
ENDS

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

Why does this matter to Debito.org? As submitter JK notes:

Hi Debito: IMO there’s more going on here than just a typical obituary — to me, the article is an NJ success story. BTW, it’s a shame the article doesn’t detail Go’s decision to naturalize at 65 instead of earlier (e.g. 1950 when he reached ninth dan).

Quite. We hear all sorts of provincial navel-gazing whenever somebody foreign dominates a “Japanese” sport like sumo (to the point where the Sumo Association has to change to rules to count naturalized Japanese as “foreign”, in violation of the Nationality Law). Maybe there was that kind of soul-searching when Go ascended, I don’t know (it was two generations ago). But it is a remarkable legacy to leave behind, and I wonder if there are any Go-nerds out there who might give us some more background. Like JK, I think there’s a deeper story here. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

My Japan Times JBC Column 82: “Time to Burst your Bubble and Face Reality”, December 4, 2014

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Hi Blog. I want to say thank you to everyone who read this and made it the the #1 most-read article at the JT Online for two days, and again for a number of days later!  Dr ARUDOU, Debito:

justbecauseicon.jpg
TIME TO BURST YOUR BUBBLE AND FACE REALITY

By Debito Arudou
JBC 82 for the Japan Times Community Page
December 4, 2014

Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/12/03/issues/time-burst-bubble-face-reality/

I want to open by saying: Look, I get it.

I get why many people (particularly the native speakers of English, who are probably the majority of readers here) come to Japan and stay on.

After all, the incentives are so clear at the beginning. Right away, you were bedazzled by all the novelty, the differences, the services, the cleanliness, the safety and relative calm of a society so predicated on order. You might even have believed that people are governed by quaint and long-lamented things like “honor” and “duty.”

Not that the duties and sacrifices necessary to maintain this order necessarily applied to you as a non-Japanese (NJ). As an honored guest, you were excepted. If you went through the motions at work like everyone else, and clowned around for bonus points (after all, injecting genki into stuffy surroundings often seemed to be expected of you), you got paid enough to make rent plus party hearty (not to mention find many curious groupies to bed — if you happened to be male, that is).

Admit it: The majority of you stayed on because you were anesthetized by sex, booze, easy money and the freedom to live outside both the boxes you were brought up in and the boxes Japanese people slot themselves in.

But these incentives are front-loaded. For as a young, genki, even geeky person finding more fun here than anywhere ever, you basked in the flattery. For example, you only needed to say a few words in Japanese to be bathed in praise for your astounding language abilities! People treated you like some kind of celebrity, and you got away with so much.

Mind you, this does not last forever. Japan is a land of bubbles, be it the famous economic one that burst back in 1991 and led two generations into disillusionment, or the bubble world that you eventually constructed to delude yourself that you control your life in Japan.

You don’t. Unless you marry an elite whose family funds your whims, you’ll discover that as you get older, opportunities narrow and doors close.

The first major life stage might be getting married — so easy to do here. Then you’d better lose the Peter Pan lifestyle and find a way to support your sudden kids. Or you’ll never see them again after the divorce.

Then you finally land that steady job that might lead to a career. But it’s hard enough nowadays for Japanese in their 20s and 30s to land secure employment (let alone climb the corporate ladder), so why should Johnny Foreigner cut in? Even if you manage to, people often assume tokenism and don’t take you seriously. The bamboo ceiling is pretty impenetrable.

But what about your trusty Genki Gaijin shtick? You’ll look jolly silly doing it as a geriatric, playing the perpetual dancing monkey, never the organ grinder.

Finally, as is true for everyone in Japan, the older you get, the less wriggle room you have in your career. Good luck comfortably changing jobs in your 40s or 50s. Most of the influential and reasonably self-actualized people in Japan are elites who spent their lives marrying into connections and cultivating Old-Boy networks, awaiting the right time to be catapulted into the next generation of leaders. NJ OBs in powerful positions? Unlikely.

Part of that is by design: Enough NJ live the life of Riley and assume the future will take care of itself. After all, for their fellow unambitious and unobtrusive Japanese corporate drones, it will; except that they will likely live a pre-designed, boring and “normal” workaday life taken care of by the state.

But for NJ, given the recent court decision about their welfare benefits, the perpetual weakness of their contract employment, and employers not paying into their pension systems with impunity, a “normal” career is not at all guaranteed. NJ have to be vigilant at an age when everyone else seems to be partying.

Another part is the shocking realization in many NJ (especially in those brought over during the 1980s Golden Age of Kokusaika (“internationalization”) who are now reaching late middle age and retirement) that they were working under a delusion: They were never seen as a colleague in the workplace. More as a pet.

This became evident as younger Japanese co-workers, who had less qualifications, time or experience in the company, got promoted over them. After all, what self-respecting Japanese wants some NJ as their senpai (senior) in the workplace? Suddenly, despite following all the rules, NJ didn’t get the same rewards.

So, after a quarter-century in Japan, I get it. And here’s what you oughta get by now:

If NJ don’t do something outside the bubble they’ve lived in so far, they might end up as some anonymous dead gaijin on a gurney, unremembered and unmourned, merely cremated and disposed of by authorities unsure of your next of kin. I’ve seen it happen — an accelerating number of times.

Why? Parables such as the one about “boiled frogs” come to mind (i.e., the frog who never noticed the temperature of the water around him rising until it was too late to jump out), but more insightful is what Pierre Bourdieu called the “illusio,” i.e., the belief that the great lifetime “game” we all agree to play is worth playing, and the fiction we collectively choose to follow is reality.

The fiction we have been accepting as reality is: Japan will treat NJ equally as long as they play the game by Japanese rules. This shows a sore lack of self-reflection about the NJ’s place in Japanese society, where those rules are stacked against them properly assimilating. It’s not because NJ always elect to be treated like guests. Guest treatment is in fact the default.

For example, have you ever noticed how difficult it is for NJ to become established in Japan’s essential, respected and licensed jobs — e.g., as doctors (and nurses), lawyers, engineers, administrative-level bureaucrats, etc.? Instead, where are they consigned? Factories, education, tenuous entrepreneurship, contracted tech, as nonadministrative corporate drones, and in entertainment. These jobs are basically fungible and expendable. And they are the default.

That’s why NJ must learn how to become “hosts.” By this I mean that they must offer Japan something that cannot be dismissed as a mere trifle or token effort.

That skill must be precious enough that NJ residents can choose to deny it to Japan, should they ever want to reclaim their power, self-respect and dignity. The NJ who exclusively do what Japan needs, and who cannot be replaced with a Japanese substitute (for example, people acting as indisposable ambassadors of Japanese knowledge — e.g., Ed Reischauer, Donald Richie or Donald Keene), can hold their skills hostage and become secure, respected, even immortal.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but face reality: What do you have to offer Japan? I’m not asking if there is something you do well; I’m asking: After all these years, is there something that you can do that Japan positively cannot live without? If not, then Japan can easily live without you, and you could be headed for the gurney.

No doubt people will decry this column. Look, I “get” that too, for it’s a natural part of illusio maintenance. People trapped in their bubbles will fight to their last breath to avoid having them burst. Facing the reality of their perpetual second-class caste status would force them to admit that they made a mistake by submitting to Japan’s default subordination processes — that they traded their entire life for something that they ultimately found no stake in.

Criticize away if that makes you feel better. It’s more comforting to play the game and party on. For now. But as your twilight years approach, you’ll look back in anger and wish you’d created a different bubble. Japan as an entire society does too, what with all this wasted human potential, as it fades into international irrelevance.

Debito Arudou’s “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants to Japan” is available on Amazon. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

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

Read the rest in the Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/12/03/issues/time-burst-bubble-face-reality/. And this will be the anchor site for the article, so comment both below and at the JT if you like. As always, thanks for reading! Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 4, 2014

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 4, 2014
Table of Contents:
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1) Ministry of Justice Bureau of Human Rights 2014 on raising public awareness of NJ human rights (full site scanned with analysis: it’s underwhelming business as usual)

2) “Japanese Only” nightclubs “W” in Nagoya and newly-opening “CLUB Leopard” in Hiroshima

3) Japan Procter & Gamble’s racialized laundry detergent ad: “Cinderella and the Nose Ballroom Dance”

4) Mainichi: Thousands of anti-hate speech demonstrators take to Tokyo streets Nov 2, 2014

5) Louis Carlet et al. on the misunderstood July 2014 Supreme Court Ruling denying welfare benefits to NJ: “no rights” does not mean automatic NJ denials

6) University of Hawaii at Manoa Center for Japanese Studies presents, “Japan’s Visible Minorities: Appearance and Prejudice in Japanese Society”, by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

And finally…

7) Japan Times JBC 81, Nov 5 2014, “Does social change in Japan come from the top down or bottom up?”
/////////////////////////////////////

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

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

1) Ministry of Justice Bureau of Human Rights 2014 on raising public awareness of NJ human rights (full site scanned with analysis: it’s underwhelming business as usual)

Debito.org Reader: Debito, I saw an internet banner ad on the asahi.com website that along with a cartoon figure, posed the question “gaikokujin no jinken mamotteru?” [Are you protecting the human rights of NJ?] I thought I must have been seeing things, but clicking through I landed on a Japan Ministry of Justice page offering advice on how to protect the rights of non-Japanese.
http://www.moj.go.jp/JINKEN/jinken04_00101.html
It seems that this is a campaign is part of Japan’s push to ready the country for the 2020 Olympics, addressing issues such as ryokan denying service to non Japanese. Definitely a nice change from the focus on hooliganism leading up to the World Cup in 2002.

Debito: I would agree. It’s much better to see Non-Japanese as people with rights than as rapacious and devious criminals who deserve no rights because, according to the Ministry of Justice’s own surveys, NJ aren’t as equally human as Japanese. And this is not the first antidiscrimination campaign by the Japanese Government, in the guise of the mostly-potemkin Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu, or BOHR) nominally assigned to protect human rights in Japan (which, as Debito.org has pointed out before, have put out some pretty biased and insensitive campaigns specifically regarding NJ residents in Japan). And did I mention the Japanese Government in general has a habit of portraying important international issues in very biased ways if there’s ever a chance of NJ anywhere getting equal treatment or having any alleged power over Japanese people? It’s rarely a level playing field or a fair fight in Japan’s debate arenas or awareness campaigns.

So now that it’s 2014, and another influential Olympics looms, how does the BOHR do this time? (And I bother with this periodic evaluation because the Japanese Government DOES watch what we do here at Debito.org, and makes modifications after sufficient embarrassments…) I’ll take screen captures of the whole site, since they have a habit of disappearing after appearing here. Here’s the top page:

http://www.debito.org/?p=12144

Conclusion: Again, much talk about NJ and their lives here with minimized involvement of the NJ themselves. As my friend noted, it’s better this than having NJ openly denigrated or treated as a social threat. However, having them being treated as visitors, or as animals that need pacifying through Wajin interlocutors, is not exactly what I’d call terribly progressive steps, or even good social science. But that’s what the BOHR, as I mentioned above, keeps doing year after year, and it keeps their line items funded and their underwhelming claims of progressive action to the United Nations window-dressed.

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

2) “Japanese Only” nightclubs “W” in Nagoya and newly-opening “CLUB Leopard” in Hiroshima

Two more places to add to the roster of “Japanese Only” Exclusionary Establishments in Japan, and this time, they are places that Japan’s youth frequent: nightclubs (nothing like catching them when they’re young and possibly more open-minded…)

1) Nightclub “W”
名古屋市中区栄3-10-13 Wビル 6F&7F
TEL 052-242-5705

Contributor SM writes: Last night I was in downtown Nagoya (Sakae) and I saw this sign posted at the entrance of a large dance club called “W.” There was a very buff bouncer beside the sign. I approached him and asked if I’d be allowed to go in. He apologized and said no. I asked if it was because of dress code or because I was foreign. (I was in a nice outfit, having gone out for dinner with my husband earlier.) He said it was because I was foreign. I asked why this was a policy. He said it was the rule of management, and he had to enforce it. I took some photos (although he had said no photos allowed.) He didn’t try to stop me from taking the photos, we said good night, and went on our way.

2) CLUB Leopard in Hiroshima (opening December 5)
住所 広島市中区流川町7-6
第五白菱ビルB1F TEL 082-569-7777
It also has a pretty impressive website:
http://clubleopard.jp, and here is a very impressive number of rules that all patrons must follow, including those NJ who apparenty can’t be patrons: “DO NOT ENTER NON-JAPANESE”

http://www.debito.org/?p=12846

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3) Japan Procter & Gamble’s racialized laundry detergent ad: “Cinderella and the Nose Ballroom Dance”

Debito.org Reader: Dear Dr. Arudou, Thank you for your continued work raising awareness on issues of race here in Japan. Have you seen this latest ad campaign for Bold detergent, [which retells the Cinderella story with exaggerated noses on their Caucasian characters]?
Full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjFsvkm7pws
Campaign website: http://boldbutoukai.com/

Debito: After ANA airlines got pretty badly stung for its “change the image of Japan” (into a Caucasian Robert Redford lookalike) ad earlier this year, Toshiba got slapped for their racialized home bread maker ad, and McDonald’s Japan faced enough pressure that they terminated their “Mr. James” burger campaign early, one wonders whether Japan’s advertisers will ever learn their lesson that grounding their product in racialized stereotypes is pretty bad form. Imagine if you will some overseas company marketing an “Asian” product that was so delicious, it made your incisors go all “Asian buck teeth” reaching out to eat it? No doubt Japan’s patrol of internet police would soon start howling racism and lobbying the company (and Japan’s missions abroad) to send out protests and orders to withdraw the ad campaign. People making fun of Asian “slanted eyes” has been criticized before, and withdrawn with apologies. So what about this? Do you think Procter & Gamble HQ in the US would approve of this?

http://www.debito.org/?p=12821

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4) Mainichi: Thousands of anti-hate speech demonstrators take to Tokyo streets Nov 2, 2014

Good news. With the upswell in hate speech in Japan, particularly against Zainichi Koreans, we have social antibodies kicking in, with public counterdemonstrations on Nov. 2 to say that this behavior is unacceptable. Of course, this is only the second time that the anti-racists have demonstrated, as opposed to the many, many, many times the pro-racism forces have turned out on the streets. But it is a positive step that Debito.org salutes, and I hope that they will take a more proactive (as opposed to reactive) approach to set the public agenda. That agenda should be: punitive criminal laws against hate speech and racial discrimination in Japan. For the lack of legislation in Japan means that the xenophobic elements can essentially do as they please (short of breaking already-established laws involving more generic violence towards others) to normalize hatred in Japan. And they will probably succeed in doing so unless it is illegal. My fear is that opponents of public hatred might think that just counter-demonstrating is sufficient, and if hate speech ever dies down, they’ll think problem solved. As the United Nations agrees, it won’t be.

http://www.debito.org/?p=12794

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5) Louis Carlet et al. on the misunderstood July 2014 Supreme Court Ruling denying welfare benefits to NJ: “no rights” does not mean automatic NJ denials

Two months ago Debito.org wrote on the aftermath of the Supreme Court of Japan’s ruling that NJ have “no right” to social welfare (seikatsu hogo) because they are not citizens (http://www.debito.org/?p=12769). I have been hearing rumblings that the media have been misinterpreting this ruling due to linguistics and politics, and that an adjudged no legal right has not resulted in denials. I submit to you the corrections from Tozen Union’s Louis Carlet, with a followup from another Debito.org Commenter that are simply too good to languish within comments. Nevertheless, as noted in that earlier Debito.org post, the point remains that there are some very nasty and xenophobic people in Japan’s political system who are capitalizing on what people think the Supreme Court said. Which may mean, in this increasingly ultra-rightist political climate, that the effect might ultimately be the same.

CARLET: [Japan Times’] Otake’s article is mistaken on two major points. First, the Supreme Court in no way found foreigners ineligible for welfare. Second, the ruling, far from landmark, upheld the status quo. The highest court overturned the High Court’s actual landmark ruling which said that foreigners have “quasi rights” to welfare. Up until then foreigners never had the “guaranteed right” (kenri) to welfare but they were and are eligible just like Japanese citizens.

I think the problem is mistranslation. Kenri means a guaranteed right whereas “no right” in English suggests ineligible. The only difference arising from not having the kenri is that if the welfare office rejects an application from a citizen then the Japanese person can appeal the decision to the office. A foreigner with no kenri for welfare cannot appeal at the office but only in court. That is the ONLY difference between how foreigners and Japanese are treated by the welfare office. Foreigners get welfare just like Japanese do. In fact the plaintiff currently gets welfare although originally rejected.

OSFISH: The clarification that needs to be repeated over and over again is that “welfare” here does not mean “welfare” in its biggest sense of all social expenditures, such as pensions, health costs, unemployment insurance and so on. It does not mean shakai hoken in any sense at all. Welfare in this limited sense is a means-tested benefit for people who have fallen through the gaps of insurance-based social protection because they cannot contribute, or are not under the umbrella of a contributor. The main recipients are long-term disabled, single mothers (abandoned by their partners) and elderly with inadequate or no pension rights. It is a completely different system to shakai hoken and operates on a different logic of desert and eligibility. Broadly speaking, the same social insurance/social assistance split operates in large parts of the industrialised world. Japan more or less imported its system from Europe.

To repeat: welfare here does not mean shakai hoken. Please rest easy, and do NOT consider opting out based on this ruling; it’s got nothing legally or logically to do with shakai hoken. And in any case, welfare is not being taken away. People in dire straits need to know that.[…]

[According to this GOJ source] 66% of all recipients are Koreans – almost all probably zainichi SPRs: a group that really stretches the concept of “foreign”, I’m sure you’ll agree. Of those Koreans, and quite disproportionately compared to other groups, around half of the recipients are old people. I would hazard a guess that this is a strong reflection of the economic disenfranchisement of the first post-war generation of zainichi. These are people who were disproportionately not properly or poorly integrated into the economy and welfare system. (For what it’s worth, incomer “foreigners” claim less than their “share”, but this shouldn’t be too surprising or interpreted as anything meaningful, as residence status is attached to visa status, is attached to good evidence of financial stability. Of course there are going to be fewer incomer recipients.)

Let’s combine this fact that Koreans make up the bulk of recipients with the far-right party’s suggestion that “foreign” recipients should naturalise or leave. For a westerner claiming social assistance, it would be very hard indeed to naturalise if you could not demonstrate financial stability. It’s pretty much out of the question. However, for zainichi Koreans, that financial stability condition doesn’t apply. The rules for SPR naturalisation are not strict. So it looks to me like an attempt to coerce elderly impoverished zainichi Koreans into giving up their nationality and identity. That’s why this relatively small amount of budget money matters to these thoroughly unpleasant people.

http://www.debito.org/?p=12811

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6) University of Hawaii at Manoa Center for Japanese Studies presents, “Japan’s Visible Minorities: Appearance and Prejudice in Japanese Society”, by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

I spoke at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Campus November 7, 2014, on my doctoral research.  Here’s the flyer:

http://www.debito.org/?p=12805

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And finally…

7) Japan Times JBC 81, Nov 5 2014, “Does social change in Japan come from the top down or bottom up?”

Opening: This month I would like to take a break from my lecture style of column-writing to pose a question to readers. Seriously, I don’t have an answer to this, so I’d like your opinion: Does fundamental social change generally come from the top down or the bottom up?

By top down, I mean that governments and legal systems effect social change by legislating and rule-making. In other words, if leaders want to stop people doing something they consider unsavory, they make it illegal. This may occur with or without popular support, but the prototypical example would be legislating away a bad social habit (say, lax speed limits or unstandardized legal drinking ages) regardless of clear public approval.

By bottom up, I mean that social change arises from a critical mass of people putting pressure on their elected officials (and each other) to desist in something socially undesirable. Eventually this also results in new rules and legislation, but the impetus and momentum for change is at the grass-roots level, thanks to clear public support.

Either dynamic can work in Japan, of course…
(Your thoughts on the question welcome here and at the JT site.)

http://www.debito.org/?p=12798

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That’s all for 2014.  See you in 2015 with my annual countdown of the Top Ten Human Rights Events!  And as always, thanks for reading and contributing to Debito.org!  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 4, 2014 ENDS