My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 88: “U.S. green-lights Japan’s march back to militarism”, on America’s historical amnesia in US-Japan Relations, June 1, 2015

mytest

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Hi Blog. My monthly Japan Times columns have moved to the first Monday of the month.  This time I’m talking about the geopolitics and historical amnesia behind PM Abe’s April visit to the United States, and what all the misdirected fanfare means not only for Asia as a region, but also NJ residents in Japan. Please have a read and feel free to comment below.

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/05/31/issues/u-s-greenlights-japans-march-back-militarism/

U.S. green-lights Japan’s march back to militarism
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito, The Japan Times, June 1, 2015
JUST BE CAUSE Column 88 for The Japan Times Community Page

As I’ve often written, I’m a big proponent of the historical record — if for no other reason, so we can look back at the past and learn from our mistakes.

That has been a major issue for the current Japanese government. As hundreds of historians have publicly stated, the Shinzo Abe administration has been systematically working to deny (or in Abe-speak, “beautify”) Japan’s worst wartime ugliness, on an increasingly obvious quest to reconfigure Japan as a military power. In other words, the right is marching the country back to the Japan that nearly annihilated itself 70 years ago.

But I’m even more disappointed with the historical amnesia of the Americans. Abe’s standing-ovation tour of the United States in April, during which the two allies established the new Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation, has basically helped Abe further destabilize the region.

That’s awful news. The U.S., Japan’s strongest ally and chaperone for most of its foreign policy, is, given Japan’s powerless leftist opposition, basically the only one who can stop this. The U.S. has great sway over Japan due, again, to history. After World War II, America did an outstanding job of enabling Japan to get rich — thanks in part to its provision of advantageous trade and exchange-rate agreements and a subsidized security umbrella.

As the Asian extension of America’s Marshall Plan (a means to keep European countries from warring again by making them economically integrated, interdependent and successful, rather than leaving them to exact wartime reparations and revenge), Japan’s economic success is still seen amongst Washington’s foreign policy wonks as proof of their ability to foster democracy worldwide.

But the U.S., now assuming the post-Cold War mantle of world’s policeman, is undermining that goal by continuing to meddle in Japan’s politics.

We first saw this happen in the “reverse course” of 1947, when it was clear that China was going communist. Back then, Washington feared that labor unions might gather enough strength to force Japan into a similar leftist lurch (as seen in Italy, where the Americans also intervened and set Italian politics back into an unstable, corrupt funk that lasted decades).

So, in the name of “containing communism” at the dawn of the Cold War, the U.S. released the Japanese war criminals they hadn’t executed, who then went on to become prominent politicians, businessmen, organized-crime figures — even a prime minister.

It also basically handed back the levers of power to Japan’s prewar governing elites — for example, by reviving the zaibatsu industrial war-machine conglomerates (as keiretsu cartels), overlooking the domination of the education system by historical revisionists and blood-nationalists (the education ministry has since steadily reinstituted prewar traditions of suppressing history and enforcing patriotism), forgiving egregious war misdeeds (through the overgenerous Treaty of San Francisco in 1952), and allowing the re-creation of Japan’s military (as “Self-Defense Forces”) soon after the U.S. Occupation ended.

The blowback, however, is that America has been constantly snake-charmed by those elites. Their professional “gaijin handlers” (see “Japan brings out big guns to sell remilitarization in the U.S.,” Just Be Cause, Nov. 6, 2013) have decades of experience of playing the anticommunism card to suppress their mortal enemies — Japan’s leftists.

Even as Japan embarked on the road to recovery, the U.S. made sure that “our bastards” (to paraphrase at least one American president) remained in power, creating a shadowy electoral slush account for the Liberal Democratic Party called the “M-Fund,” and fostering a one-party state that lasted several decades.

Then came the infamous U.S.-Japan Security Treaty amendments in 1960, forced upon the Japanese electorate without due process, causing enormous public opposition, riots and social damage, both in terms of property and political polarization.

This overt circumvention of Japan’s democratic institutions stunted the political maturation of Japan’s civil society: Japan never had, for example, the healthy subsequent antiwar grass-roots activism that unseated leaders worldwide in the late 1960s and beyond. As prominent American analysts themselves put it, Japan became an economic giant but a political pygmy.

Fast-forward to April 2015 and Abe’s U.S. tour. Despite years of media and academic attention on Abe’s revisionism, the U.S. bestowed upon him honors that no other Japanese PM has enjoyed, essentially legitimizing Abe’s campaigns worldwide.

Contrast this with how non-LDP left-leaning prime ministers have been treated: President Bill Clinton publicly humiliated Morihiro Hosokawa in 1994, and Washington hobbled Yukio Hatoyama five years ago (see “Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy,” JBC, June 2, 2010) on trade, military-base issues and reordered relations with China. Both PMs were so discredited that they were soon swept away by LDP re-elections, with reenergized conservatives on the rebound making reforms that set the stage for Japan’s recidivism today.

Why are the Americans resuscitating these toxic security guidelines? Simple: to contain China. But, to return to my original point, has Washington learned nothing from history? Can’t they see that the Cold War has been over for decades, and replacing the Soviet Union with China is a bad fit?

Granted, one can make a convincing case that China’s attitude towards democratic institutions ill-befits the Pax Americana. But the PRC is not the USSR — if anything, it’s precisely what the Marshall Planners would have wanted to happen to China.

China’s rapid economic growth and heavy integration into the world market, both as its factory and lender of last resort, indicates that it shall not (and should not) be so easily contained. Containment strategies drawn up by George Kennan 68 years ago are clearly obsolete.

Unfortunately, Washington seems eager to start Cold War II, with Japan again acting as America’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier” in Asia. Except this time, it does not have an American at the steering wheel in Tokyo, and the blood-nationalist in charge is a descendant of the ruthless right, bent on settling old personal scores and putting Japanese weapons and military forces overseas.

I don’t think the Americans are fully aware of what they are encouraging. Abe will erode the very democratic institutions (including the pacifist Constitution) the U.S. established to “cure” Japan’s war-like tendencies in the first place.

Abe has already enacted the means to engineer public opinion through media censorship, half-truths and big lies, as well as to intimidate critics and punish whistle-blowers.

Now, freshly emboldened after his trip to Washington (he even recently sent his “liberal” wife to visit war-celebrating Yasukuni Shrine), Abe will soon legally reconstitute the mythological version of Japan — the one that made so many Japanese support total war and carry out continent-wide genocide.

If you think I’m exaggerating, look again at history. Japan has swung back from liberalism before, after the “Taisho Democracy” of the 1920s. The flowering of democratic institutions, moderate tolerance of dissent and unprecedented prosperity did happen, but it only lasted about 15 years before the ruthless right took over.

This time it lasted much longer, but Japanese society has numerous bad habits that foster a reverse-engineering into militarism. Five years ago I thought remilitarization inconceivable after generations of a pacifist narrative, but seeing now how fast Japan has snapped back is cause for great alarm. This will be confirmed beyond doubt once we see the revival of prewar politics by assassination, the natural progression from the current trends of intimidation and death threats.

This will certainly abet Japan’s domestic conversion from a mild police state into a much harsher one. And then what? If the past 15 years are any guide, Japanese society’s latent suspicion of outsiders will manifest itself in the targeting of its non-Japanese residents with even more force.

Why? Because it can. They’re here and subject to our laws. If they don’t like it, they should leave. Because Japan is for the Japanese, as the blood-nationalists would define them.

Look out, non-Japanese residents, you’re going to attract even more attention now — as lab rats for Japan’s nascent foreign policy. Nice work, America, “Arsenal of Democracy.” History shows that once again, you’ve encouraged more arsenal than democracy.

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Debito’s own 20-year-old historical archive of life and human rights in Japan is at www.debito.org. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Monday of the month. Comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 31, 2015

mytest

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 31, 2015
Table of Contents:

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HOW BAD IT’S GETTING

1)  Arimura Haruko, Minister for the Empowerment of Women: Immigration is a “Pandora’s Box”, offers weird Team Abe arguments to justify
2)  Online media outlet Japan Today acquired by right-wing Fuji Media Holdings, meaning Japan Times is last E-media news organization independent of J-media conglomerates
3)  J Times Kingston on Abe’s intimidation of media: You know it’s getting bad when even apologist bigot Gregory Clark complains about Rightists targeting him
4)  Debito.org Dejima Award #6 to Mishima Village, Kagoshima Prefecture, for subsidizing outsiders to move and live there — unless they are foreign
5)  Japan at Expo Milano 2015: Official display claims Japan is a land of “harmonious diversity” (in English). SRSLY? Yep. Let’s parse.
6)  Tangent: NYT Op-Ed: Foreigners Are Attacking … American TV, within US TV programs. Contrast with Japan.

… and finally …

7)  Japan Times JBC 87 May 4, 2015: Interview with M.G. Sheftall: “Japan-U.S. effort to tell Kamikaze suicide pilots’ stories dodges controversy, wins praise”
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By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (debito@debito.orgwww.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito)
Freely Forwardable

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HOW BAD IT’S GETTING

1)  Arimura Haruko, Minister for the Empowerment of Women: Immigration is a “Pandora’s Box”, offers weird Team Abe arguments to justify

Now let’s get to the narrative by Team Abe on immigration. Despite calling for the expansion of the officially-sanctioned system of often-slavery that the “Trainee” Program constitutes (even cynically saying that we need cheap temporary foreign labor for constructing the 2020 Olympics), and the recognized need for caregivers below, we have a government official below charged with empowering people (a worthy goal in itself) also advocating the disempowerment of others — not giving people who would be contributing to Japan any stake in its society.

That’s one thing. Another is how this Minister for the Empowerment of Women Arimura Haruko is justifying this organized disenfranchisement of NJ. Despite being married to a NJ herself, she uses him as a fulcrum (his family in Malaysia forcing their Indonesian nanny to sleep on the floor), alleging that mistreatment of immigrants is something that naturally happens (okay, without their proper enfranchisement, yes) and that it would be “unthinkable in Japan” (oh, is she as a government official ignorant of the much bigger abuses of that “Trainee” program that have been going on for more than two decades)?

Completing the effect of working backwards from preset conclusions, Arimura then brings the song home by blaming foreigners for their own disenfranchisement: alleging their terroristic tendencies (a common trope for the past decade since PM Koizumi in 2005), and how bringing them here would be a “Pandora’s Box”:

Bloomberg: Japan should fix its shrinking workforce by enabling women to work, before turning to the ‘Pandora’s box’ of immigration, the country’s minister for the empowerment of women said in an interview last week. Haruko Arimura, a 44-year-old mother of two, said Japan must act fast to change a trend that could otherwise see the workforce decline by almost half by 2060. But she warned if immigrants were mistreated — something she’d witnessed overseas — it raised the risk of creating resentment in their ranks.

“Many developed countries have experienced immigration,” she said in her Tokyo office. “The world has been shaken by immigrants who come into contact with extremist thinking like that of ISIL, bundle themselves in explosives and kill people indiscriminately in the country where they were brought up,” Arimura said. “If we want to preserve the character of the country and pass it on to our children and grandchildren in better shape, there are reforms we need to carry out now to protect those values.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=13314

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2)  Online media outlet Japan Today acquired by right-wing Fuji Media Holdings, meaning Japan Times is last E-media news organization independent of J-media conglomerates

Something rather important happened within Japan’s English-language media landscape last month, and it’s only now starting (after some prodding) to come to light: Another NJ media voice has been absorbed by Japanese conglomerates: Japan Today, an online media outlet founded in 2001 by NJ.

This matters. Back in the 1990s we had a number of other outlets employing NJ reporters and offering a degree of news that served and spoke to the NJ communities in Japan (those that read English, anyway). Since then almost all of them have withered or winked out. Left-leaning Mainichi Shimbun succumbed to economic pressures and made its English-language daily into an online-only outlet that is a mere shadow publication (moreover succumbed to the pressure of online trolls by crucifying their reporters who dared translate scandalous Japanese tabloid media for their popular WaiWai column). The Centrist-Right Asahi Evening News, to bust their unionizing NJ employees, fired all of their reporters and now merely offers a translation service for what they write in Japanese (their presses closed down completely in 2010). Rightist Yomiuri Shinbun whitewashed itself by recently changing its name of its English-language publication from Daily Yomiuri to the anodyne and root-free The Japan News, and since it takes any criticism of Japan by a NJ as a personal affront, it basically marginalized its English-langauge staff into writing book reviews and fluff pieces before Asahi-ing them into proofreaders also. The last major national news outlet, the Sankei Shinbun, never bothered projecting their farther-right views into English. Until now, when it bought up Japan Today.

That just leaves the Japan Times as a serious news outlet outside of Japanese conglomerate control. I am proud to be amongst their ranks as a columnist pushing for media independence from a current political milieu under PM Abe increasingly intolerant of criticism. But even they have seen their Community Pages drop from four days per week to two. So support your Japan Times however and whenever you can, everyone. They’re all that are left, and if they get absorbed, it’s pretty clear that they’ll just become a mouthpiece for the Japanese corporate narrative all over again.

http://www.debito.org/?p=13286

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3)  J Times Kingston on Abe’s intimidation of media: You know it’s getting bad when even apologist bigot Gregory Clark complains about Rightists targeting him

JT: “[Government officials] have become more numerous, blatant and unapologetic,” [US-based journalist Ayako Doi] says, adding that the government is targeting both Japanese and non-Japanese critics alike. Japan Times columnist Gregory Clark says the atmosphere of intimidation has become exceptionally “ugly,” attributing it to a “right-wing rebound and revenge.”

“Something strange is going on,” he says, citing recent attacks on progressive media. “Particularly given that Tokyo keeps talking about its value identification with the West.” […] Clark himself was publicly defamed for his alleged anti-Japanese views because he raised some questions about government and media representations concerning the North Korean abductions of Japanese nationals. Following that, he says his university employer received a cascade of threatening letters demanding he be sacked. “Requests to write articles for the magazines and newspapers I had long known dried up,” Clark says. “Invitations to give talks on Japan’s lively lecture circuit died overnight. One of Japan’s largest trading companies abruptly canceled my already-announced appointment as outside board director with the vague excuse of wanting to avoid controversy.”

COMMENT: That’s how bad it’s getting for NJ in Japan — even the worm has turned. But given the history of fabrications, profiteering from pandering, and columns so bigoted and xenophobic (one entitled “Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people”, and another essentially denying racism in Japan) that one had to be deleted from the Japan Times archives), I’m not sure you have a leg to stand on here, Greg. After all, isn’t discriminating against you a right for Japanese people? You made your bed, now sleep in it.

http://www.debito.org/?p=13316

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4)  Debito.org Dejima Award #6 to Mishima Village, Kagoshima Prefecture, for subsidizing outsiders to move and live there — unless they are foreign

As Japan’s depopulation proceeds and the countryside continues to empty out, we have seen ruralities offering FREE land if people will only build, move, and live there. Now we have another place offering even more generous terms. From The Japan Times, May 25, 2015: “The village of Mishima, composed of the small islands of Takeshima, Iojima and Kuroshima, has been trying to lure people to move there by offering the choice of a calf or a ¥500,000 lump sum, plus another ¥100,000 to help with moving expenses.”

But then… “Of all the emails the village received in the two-week period between the end of April and mid-May, 90 percent came from Serbians, Croatians and Brazilians, a local official said Monday,.. The official said that eventually, for various reasons, the village decided not to accept any of the applicants… “People are not aware that life here is not as simple as they imagined,” he said, adding that the language barrier may lead to problems of communication.”

Oh. Suddenly, life there is tough. So tough they’ll turn people away, sight unseen. If those people happen to be foreign. How open-minded. I assume the next argument will be that if the place becomes overrun with foreigners, they will vote to secede from Japan. Seriously, this argument has been made before. So allow me to award the Village of Mishima in Kagoshima Prefecture a coveted Debito.org Dejima Award, granted only to those who display eye-blinkingly stupefying bigotry and closed-mindedness that defies all logic, reason, and entreaty.

http://www.debito.org/?p=13327

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5)  Japan at Expo Milano 2015: Official display claims Japan is a land of “harmonious diversity” (in English). SRSLY? Yep. Let’s parse.

An interesting exercise in propaganda is Japan’s display at the Expo 2015, currently underway in Milano, Italy. It is a useful exercise to parse out the themes, memes, and dialectic within the display, as it is a good example of how Japan officially wants to be seen by the outside world. For example, chew on this word salad (the Exhibit Message) and digest the tropes:

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Japan’s agriculture, which coexists with nature, cherishing all forms of life. Japan’s nutritionally balanced diet, as represented by the traditional menu of “one soup, three dishes” that is rich with diverse fermented foods and plant proteins. Japan’s cherished food culture, produced and nurtured by tradition and innovation. Building upon the spirit of mutual respect and appreciation of coexisting diversity, we will creatively address global issues to pioneer a bright future.
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That’s amazingly easy to poke holes in, even before we get to calling Japan “diverse”. The government makes its case, and I perforate away in this blog entry. Opening:

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Scene Ⅱ DIVERSITY
● The diversity and additional development of Japan’s agriculture, food, and food culture

There is a great variety of agriculture in the world, with diverse food to match. Similarly in Japan, unique agriculture, food and food cultures have been cultivated in the various regions according to weather and climate, with additional developments based on learning from the world. In this zone, visitors will fully realize the diversity of Japan and the world by taking in an overview of more than 1000 content items related to agriculture, food and food culture…
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http://www.debito.org/?p=13296

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6)  Tangent: NYT Op-Ed: Foreigners Are Attacking … American TV, within US TV programs. Contrast with Japan.

In a previous blog entry, I mentioned the disenfranchisement of foreigners from Japanese media (with Fuji buying up Japan Today), and my upcoming book (out in November) will discuss further the effects of that in terms of tolerance of difference and counteracting public defamation. As a Debito.org Tangent, let’s contrast this with the degree of access that foreigners in America have to influence the domestic narrative and talking points. I don’t know how unusual this is on a country-to-country scale (Debito.org Readers are welcome to mention the foreign anchors/pundits holding court outside the US and Japan), but given the influence that American media has worldwide, this is not a small matter. The NYT does a survey:

NYT: American late-night television shows have probably never had so many anchors with foreign accents as they will have soon. Trevor Noah, a South African comedian, will become at least the third non-American native to host a popular TV comedy show later this year when he takes over “The Daily Show” from Jon Stewart. He will join two Britons, John Oliver of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” and James Corden, who recently started hosting “The Late Late Show” on CBS.

http://www.debito.org/?p=13183

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… and finally …

7)  Japan Times JBC 87 May 4, 2015: Interview with M.G. Sheftall: “Japan-U.S. effort to tell Kamikaze suicide pilots’ stories dodges controversy, wins praise”

THE JAPAN TIMES: ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
Japan-U.S. effort to tell suicide pilots’ stories dodges controversy, wins praise
BY DR. DEBITO ARUDOU. MAY 3, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/05/03/issues/japan-u-s-effort-tell-suicide-pilots-stories-dodges-controversy-wins-praise/

Dr. M.G. Sheftall, professor of modern Japanese history at Shizuoka University and author of “Blossoms in the Wind: Human Legacies of the Kamikaze,” was in Honolulu last month for the dedication of a temporary exhibition about the Tokkō kamikaze suicide pilots aboard the battleship USS Missouri, the site of Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II. JBC sat down for an interview with Dr. Sheftall about the kamikaze phenomenon and what makes this exhibition unique.

Q: So, what’s going on here?

You’ve witnessed something very historic, because the exhibit is the first about any kind of Japanese military activity in the modern era ever held outside of Japan with Japanese cooperation — in this case, with the Chiran Peace Museum on the kamikaze in southern Kyushu.

What makes the USS Missouri an especially relevant venue is that it is to my knowledge only one of two still-existing ships — the other being the USS Intrepid — that were actually hit by kamikaze during the war. The USS Missouri was hit on April 12, 1945, exactly 70 years ago.

There’s a feel-good aspect to this story — very hard to do when you’re talking about kamikaze attacks. The bomb on the plane that hit the Missouri did not detonate. The wreckage spilled onto the deck and amidst that was the pilot’s remains. When the crew was putting out the fire, the initial reaction had been to hose his remains off the deck. But the captain of the USS Missouri, William Callaghan, announced to the crew: “No, we’re going to give him a proper military burial. Now that he’s dead, he’s not the enemy anymore. He’s just another human being, like you and me, who died for his country.”

The next day the crew formed on deck to consign their fallen former enemy to the depths with full naval honors. They even made a Japanese flag shroud from old unused signal flags.

I think that’s a nice story. If there can be some recognition of humanity even in such circumstances, that shows hope for human beings in an otherwise insane and irrational situation dominated by hatred and fear.

Q: How many ships were sunk in the kamikaze campaigns?

http://www.debito.org/?p=13288

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That’s all for this month.  Thanks for reading!
Dr. ARUDOU, Debito at Debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 31, 2015 ENDS

Debito.org Dejima Award #6 to Mishima Village, Kagoshima Prefecture, for subsidizing outsiders to move and live there — unless they are foreign

mytest

eBooks, Books, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. As Japan’s depopulation proceeds and the countryside continues to empty out, we have seen ruralities offering FREE land if people will only build, move, and live there.

Now we have another place offering even more generous terms. From The Japan Times, May 25, 2015:

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

[…] The village of Mishima, composed of the small islands of Takeshima, Iojima and Kuroshima, has been trying to lure people to move there by offering the choice of a calf or a ¥500,000 lump sum, plus another ¥100,000 to help with moving expenses.

The generous offer — which is temporarily on hold while officials rethink the conditions — includes monthly grants for the first three years of residence, ranging from ¥85,000 a month for a single person to ¥100,000 for married couples. Also on offer are three-bedroom houses for rent at low prices, and subsidies for child delivery.
==================================

Sweet. Locals have been trying to lure people here since 1990. That is, until the wrong kind of people began inquiring:

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

[…] Of all the emails the village received in the two-week period between the end of April and mid-May, 90 percent came from Serbians, Croatians and Brazilians, a local official said Monday, adding that the village office has also received more than a dozen phone calls from foreigners.

The official said that eventually, for various reasons, the village decided not to accept any of the applicants. Most who applied gave up on their plans to relocate after they were discouraged by the reality of the situation, or had only been looking for an easy escape from the pressure of daily life.

“People are not aware that life here is not as simple as they imagined,” he said, adding that the language barrier may lead to problems of communication.

“It’s a small village. There is no hospital and finding a job here is not a piece of cake,” he said, adding that most people seemed discouraged after learning about the hurdles they might face.

“People here can take advantage of the bountiful nature, fresh air and beautiful landscapes, and it’s a good place to live a quiet life,” the official said, describing the more appealing aspects of starting a new life there…
==================================

Oh. Suddenly, life there is tough. So tough they’ll turn people away, sight unseen. If those people happen to be foreign.

How open-minded. I assume the next argument will be that if the place becomes overrun with foreigners, they will vote to secede from Japan. Seriously, this argument has been made before.

So allow me to award the Village of Mishima in Kagoshima Prefecture a coveted Debito.org Dejima Award, granted only to those who display eye-blinkingly stupefying bigotry and closed-mindedness that defies all logic, reason, and entreaty. We’ve only granted five of these before in the twenty years Debito.org has been in existence, so Mishima is in exceptional company. May the mindsets you display die out before all the people do in your isolated little speck of the world. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Entire source article visible at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/25/national/overseas-interest-in-relocation-campaign-surprises-kagoshima-village/

ENDS

Arimura Haruko, Minister for the Empowerment of Women: Immigration is a “Pandora’s Box”, offers weird Team Abe arguments to justify

mytest

eBooks, Books, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
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If you like what you read and discuss on Debito.org, please consider helping us stop hackers and defray maintenance costs with a little donation via my webhoster:
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Hi Blog.  Now let’s get to the narrative by Team Abe on immigration.  Despite calling for the expansion of the officially-sanctioned system of often-slavery that the “Trainee” Program constitutes (even cynically saying that we need cheap temporary foreign labor for constructing the 2020 Olympics), and the recognized need for caregivers below, we have a government official below charged with empowering people (a worthy goal in itself) also advocating the disempowerment of others — not giving people who would be contributing to Japan any stake in its society.

BloombergArimura051215

That’s one thing.  Another is how this Minister for the Empowerment of Women Arimura Haruko is justifying this organized disenfranchisement of NJ.  Despite being married to a NJ herself, she uses him as a fulcrum (his family in Malaysia forcing their Indonesian nanny to sleep on the floor), alleging that mistreatment of immigrants is something that naturally happens (okay, without their proper enfranchisement, yes) and that it would be “unthinkable in Japan” (oh, is she as a government official ignorant of the much bigger abuses of that “Trainee” program that have been going on for more than two decades)?


https://youtu.be/wt__lHCuH5g

Completing the effect of working backwards from preset conclusions, Arimura then brings the song home by blaming foreigners for their own disenfranchisement:  alleging their terroristic tendencies (a common trope for the past decade since PM Koizumi in 2005), and how bringing them here would be a “Pandora’s Box”.

Suck on the bitter lozenge that is Team Abe’s world view, and read on to see how this probably otherwise well-intentioned minister married to a NJ has to play Twister with illogic and weird social science to justify a warped narrative.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Japan Cabinet minister wary of opening ‘Pandora’s box’ of immigration
by Isabel Reynolds and Maiko Takahashi
Bloomberg, May 12, 2015
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-05-12/japan-minister-says-get-women-working-before-immigration-option
Commentary by the usual suspects at The Japan Times May 13, 2015 at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/13/national/social-issues/japan-must-put-women-work-opening-pandoras-box-immigration-female-empowerment-minister/

Japan should fix its shrinking workforce by enabling women to work, before turning to the ‘Pandora’s box’ of immigration, the country’s minister for the empowerment of women said in an interview last week.

Haruko Arimura, a 44-year-old mother of two, said Japan must act fast to change a trend that could otherwise see the workforce decline by almost half by 2060. But she warned if immigrants were mistreated — something she’d witnessed overseas — it raised the risk of creating resentment in their ranks.

“Many developed countries have experienced immigration,” she said in her Tokyo office. “The world has been shaken by immigrants who come into contact with extremist thinking like that of ISIL, bundle themselves in explosives and kill people indiscriminately in the country where they were brought up,” Arimura said.

“If we want to preserve the character of the country and pass it on to our children and grandchildren in better shape, there are reforms we need to carry out now to protect those values.”

Some economists have urged the government to accept more foreigners to make up for a slide in the working age population. While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has noted there is a need for workers from overseas to help with housework and care of the elderly, he’s promoted female workers instead — appointing Arimura to the new post last year to spearhead the effort.

Arimura, whose husband is from Malaysia, said more immigration could add to social tension. For example, she felt uneasy when she saw one of her husband’s relatives make an Indonesian nanny sleep on a hotel floor while family members slept in beds.

“It’s a matter of course over there, but it would be unthinkable in Japan,” she said. “It would build up dissatisfaction with society.”

Few Foreigners
Japan’s working-age population may fall as low as 44.2 million by 2060 from 81.7 million in 2010, according to a projections from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. At the same time, people aged 65 or over will rise to almost 40 percent of the population.

Relying only on women to make up the shortfall may be difficult, given that one in three wants to be a full-time housewife, according to a survey published by the government in 2013. About 60 percent leave their jobs when they have their first child.

Increased immigration poses its own challenges in Japan. Cultural barriers to outsiders are rooted in a two-century isolationist policy under the Tokugawa Shogunate, which banned most immigration until 1853. A genre of writing called nihonjinron focuses on the theory that the Japanese are a unique people.

The number of registered foreign residents has been flat since 2006 at just over 2 million. That’s out of a population of about 127 million.

‘Precious’ Lifestyles
Public attitudes toward new arrivals may be changing. About 51 percent of Japanese support a more open immigration policy, according to a survey published by the Asahi newspaper last month. Some 34 percent oppose the idea.

“There are things we should do before we talk about that Pandora’s box,” Arimura said.
Her task is to convince voters that putting more women to work is the best solution. She said she realized the policy could cause confusion among backers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party given its past support for traditional family arrangements.

The government has no intention of interfering with the “precious” lifestyles of women who want to devote themselves to their families, Arimura said. Instead, she said it wanted to support those who might otherwise be forced to abandon careers because of family responsibilities, or who wish to resume working after raising children.

Female Managers
Arimura described as “a good start” a new draft bill obliging employers with more than 300 staff to publish gender breakdown statistics and plans to promote women. While non-compliance carries no penalty, she said the legislation would give a picture of how women are faring at work and pointers on the problems they face.

While Abe wants women to fill 30 percent of management positions by 2020, he faces an uphill task. Women accounted for just over 8 percent of management positions in private-sector companies employing more than 100 people last year, according to government data.

“In terms of tackling the low birth rate and promoting women, the next five or 10 years will decide the trend for Japan, whether it goes up or down,” Arimura said. “In a way, it’s the last chance.”

ENDS

J Times Kingston on Abe’s intimidation of media: You know it’s getting bad when even apologist bigot Gregory Clark complains about Rightists targeting him

mytest

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Hi Blog. Now here’s a wonderful turn of events that I can’t help feeling a bit karmic about.

Gregory Clark, columnist for the Japan Times and xenophobic perpetual denier of racism in Japan (he’s even had a JT column entitled “Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people“!), has gone beyond petty whines about, say, how he couldn’t enforce his White Privilege and make Roppongi police arrest some “African touts” because they were “hecklers”.  Now he’s complaining about something far more serious — about being targeted by Japan’s right wing. Check out this excerpt from Jeff Kingston’s most recent commentary in the Japan Times:

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

From “Are forces of darkness gathering in Japan”, by Jeff Kingston, Japan Times, May 16, 2015

JT: “[Government officials] have become more numerous, blatant and unapologetic,” [US-based journalist Ayako Doi] says, adding that the government is targeting both Japanese and non-Japanese critics alike.

Japan Times columnist Gregory Clark says the atmosphere of intimidation has become exceptionally “ugly,” attributing it to a “right-wing rebound and revenge.”

“Something strange is going on,” he says, citing recent attacks on progressive media. “Particularly given that Tokyo keeps talking about its value identification with the West.” […]

Clark himself was publicly defamed for his alleged anti-Japanese views because he raised some questions about government and media representations concerning the North Korean abductions of Japanese nationals. Following that, he says his university employer received a cascade of threatening letters demanding he be sacked.

“Requests to write articles for the magazines and newspapers I had long known dried up,” Clark says. “Invitations to give talks on Japan’s lively lecture circuit died overnight. One of Japan’s largest trading companies abruptly canceled my already-announced appointment as outside board director with the vague excuse of wanting to avoid controversy.”

Lamentably, he added, “You cannot expect anyone to come to your aid once the nationalistic right-wing mood creators, now on the rise, decide to attack you. Freedom of speech and opinion is being whittled away relentlessly.”

/////////////////////////////////////////////
Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/05/16/commentary/forces-darkness-gathering-japan/

COMMENT: That’s how bad it’s getting for NJ in Japan — even the worm has turned. But it’s pretty rich for Clark to say this given the past fabrications and intimidations, not to mention decades of profiteering from pandering to those forces that have now turned against him. As for claims of “defamation”, how about the long-standing vituperative (okay, I’ll use his favorite word: “ugly”) criticism doled out towards anyone who questioned the system and its unfairness to anyone else in a similar position as a long-term resident (and in my case, a citizen) of Japan?

I’m not sure you have a leg to stand on here, Greg.  After all, isn’t discriminating against you a right for Japanese people?

I’ll let Debito.org Reader JDG conclude this blog entry:

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

JDG:  Please spare a moment’s thought for the plight of Gregory Clark. Even though this has happened to him (and seriously, see how low an opinion of him is held in the article ‘Our Other Man in Japan’), I have to say that such intimidation and discrimination, EVEN against Gregory Clark, is deplorable (in fact, when you or I are discriminated, we get the whole apologist slapdown. When it happens to Clark, suddenly it’s ‘The Forces of Darkness’! I mean what is this? Lord of the Rings?). I just wish that he’d used all his years of access to policy makers to work to improve the lot of NJ in Japan, rather than for his own personal gain, and IMHO, vain pride and sense of self-entitlement.

Anyhow, starting with that time he got annoyed with the police because they didn’t care who he was, and therefore didn’t arrest some black guys for him, he seems to have just gone downhill. What’s next? Black vans outside his house, and bullets from the uyoku in the post?

Since I read in previous articles about Gregory that he was loaded and flush with cash from property deals and public speaking, I won’t be asking Debito.org readers to donate any money to get Gregory off the street, nor will I be asking any of you to ‘adopt an Australian’ for $5 a month (or anything like that).

Dear Greg,
If you’re reading this, you always have a home here with us (maybe. I dunno, after all, it’s Dr. Debito’s page, and you’ve been kind of critical of him in the past. Just sayin’.). What I mean is, now that you’ve seen Japan ‘through the looking glass’ as it were, had your bubble burst, and have experienced the kind of discrimination that you always said didn’t exist for NJ in Japan, anytime you want to pitch in and lend a weighty hand in this struggle for human rights, we (well, I guess ‘I’, after all, I can’t speak for the others) would welcome you, and your past sins would be forgiven, as it were (again, that’s an ‘I’ statement).

Yours sincerely, JDG (the kind of NJ you wouldn’t have given the time of day to).

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

ENDS

Tangent: NYT Op-Ed: Foreigners Are Attacking … American TV, within US TV programs. Contrast with Japan.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  In my previous blog entry, I mentioned the disenfranchisement of foreigners from Japanese media, and my upcoming book (out in November) will discuss further the effects of that in terms of tolerance of difference and counteracting public defamation.  As a Debito.org Tangent, let’s contrast this with the degree of access that foreigners in America have to influence the domestic narrative and talking points.  I don’t know how unusual this is on a country-to-country scale (Debito.org Readers are welcome to mention the foreign anchors/pundits holding court outside the US and Japan), but given the influence that American media has worldwide, this is not a small matter.  The NYT does a survey below.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Foreigners Are Attacking … American TV!
By VIKAS BAJAJ New York Times MARCH 30, 2015
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/31/opinion/foreigners-are-attacking-american-tv.html

American late-night television shows have probably never had so many anchors with foreign accents as they will have soon. Trevor Noah, a South African comedian, will become at least the third non-American native to host a popular TV comedy show later this year when he takes over “The Daily Show” from Jon Stewart. He will join two Britons, John Oliver of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” and James Corden, who recently started hosting “The Late Late Show” on CBS.

Mr. Noah is an unconventional choice to host a show on American television, which has had plenty of British actors and comedians over the years. He was born to a black Xhosa mother and a white Swiss father and is from a country where mixed race unions are still uncommon. And, perhaps most important, many Americans have never heard or seen him perform.

But Mr. Noah’s foreignness might be just what the “The Daily Show” and American television broadly need. It is hard to remember now, but when Mr. Stewart took over the show and later spun off “The Colbert Report,” fake news was not a big part of our comedy diet. Yes, there was the Weekend Update segment on “Saturday Night Live,” but it came on just once a week and did not always deliver the goods.

Maybe what we really need now is to have foreigners apply their brand of satire to the United States — its politics, culture and race relations — to tell us something about ourselves that our homegrown comedians are not capturing. And they can perhaps also enlighten us about what’s funny and tragic in the rest of the world as Mr. Oliver has done ably on his show. Aside from a few jokes about Europe, most late-night shows rarely dwell on international subjects.

Still, Mr. Noah’s appointment has disappointed some fans of “The Daily Show” who had hoped that Comedy Central would pick a woman like Samantha Bee, who is leaving the show to start her own satirical program on TBS. It is disappointing that none of the several late-night shows on the air now are hosted by a woman. Perhaps, Ms. Bee will so successfully shatter that glass ceiling that the executives at other networks will seek out more women to be hosts.

There will probably also be criticism from some quarters that Mr. Noah, Mr. Oliver and Mr. Corden represent a foreign invasion of television that is depriving hard-working American comedians of important jobs. Just last week, a columnist for Deadline.com suggested that some deserving white actors were not getting roles on new TV shows because the industry was designating many more characters as reserved for nonwhite actors.

I for one am looking forward to Mr. Noah’s stint in the anchor chair. I found his three appearances on “The Daily Show” to be funny in a unique way — watch him explain why it was bad for the United States to try to lure top chess players away from other countries. And I laughed at clips of his standup act in which he mimics the odd speaking style of President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. I hope he is just as unsparing to our politicians.

ENDS

Online media outlet Japan Today acquired by right-wing Fuji Media Holdings, meaning Japan Times is last E-media news organization independent of J-media conglomerates

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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Hello Blog.  Something rather important happened within Japan’s English-language media landscape last month, and it’s only now starting (after some prodding) to come to light:  Another NJ media voice has been absorbed by Japanese conglomerates:  Japan Today, an online media outlet founded in 2001 by NJ (and — full disclosure — for whom I worked for two years as one of their founding columnists until they stopped paying me properly).

This matters.  Back in the 1990s we had a number of other outlets employing NJ reporters and offering a degree of news that served and spoke to the NJ communities in Japan (those that read English, anyway).  Since then almost all of them have withered or winked out.  Left-leaning Mainichi Shimbun succumbed to economic pressures and made its English-language daily into an online-only outlet that is a mere shadow publication (moreover succumbed to the pressure of online trolls by crucifying their reporters who dared translate scandalous Japanese tabloid media for their popular WaiWai column).  The Centrist-Right Asahi Evening News, to bust their unionizing NJ employees, fired all of their reporters and now merely offers a translation service for what they write in Japanese (their presses closed down completely in 2010).  Rightist Yomiuri Shinbun whitewashed itself by recently changing its name of its English-language publication from Daily Yomiuri to the anodyne and root-free The Japan News, and since it takes any criticism of Japan by a NJ as a personal affront, it basically marginalized its English-langauge staff into writing book reviews and fluff pieces before Asahi-ing them into proofreaders also.  The last major national news outlet, the Sankei Shinbun, never bothered projecting their farther-right views into English.  Until now, when it bought up Japan Today.

That just leaves the Japan Times as a serious news outlet outside of Japanese conglomerate control.  I am proud to be amongst their ranks as a columnist pushing for media independence from a current political milieu under PM Abe increasingly intolerant of criticism.  But even they have seen their Community Pages drop from four days per week to two.  So support your Japan Times however and whenever you can, everyone.  They’re all that are left, and if they get absorbed, it’s pretty clear that they’ll just become a mouthpiece for the Japanese corporate narrative all over again.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

The Japan Times, NATIONAL
Japan Today says it will retain foreign perspective despite acquisition by conglomerate Fuji Media
BY TOMOKO OTAKE, STAFF WRITER, MAY 10, 2015

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/10/national/japan-today-says-it-will-retain-foreign-perspective-despite-acquisition-by-conglomerate-fuji-media/

Japan Today, a popular news website bought by a Fuji Media Holdings group company last month, will stick to its motto of presenting news “through the perspectives of foreigners” despite the change in ownership, the media conglomerate says.

Fuji TV-Lab, a subsidiary of Fuji Media Holdings, Inc., announced April 7 that it had acquired GPlus Media Co., which runs several English-language websites, including Japan Today and classifieds ads site GaijinPot.

GPM, founded in 2001 by two expat entrepreneurs, is now headed by Tadashi Tokizawa, president and CEO of Fuji TV-Lab, a website production company under the Fuji Media group. GPM’s founders will stay on as directors, an FMH spokeswoman said in an email to The Japan Times.

“GPM will enhance its reporting ability and its entertainment information by joining the FMH,” the spokeswoman said. “The firm also will seek tie-ups with other companies under the FMH media conglomerate. . . . The (GPM) founders Peter Wilson and Erik Gain will continue to provide comprehensive advice from the perspectives of foreign entrepreneurs.”

In the month since the acquisition by the Fuji group, which has the Fuji Television Network under its wing and the conservative daily Sankei Shimbun as an affiliate, no drastic change has been observed on the Japan Today website, which provides a wide variety of news on Japan in English mostly via foreign wire services and in-house articles citing vernacular media.

Since late March, articles citing Fuji TV and Sankei — mostly about crime and other social news — seem to have become more conspicuous, though the site still uses other news sources.

The Sankei Shimbun is known for its often hawkish take on politics. In February, it drew fire when it ran an Op-Ed piece by conservative writer Ayako Sono, who called for immigrants of different ethnic groups to live in separate places — a statement widely taken as endorsing racial segregation.

Fuji TV, meanwhile, has been somewhat neutral in its editorial stance, with its strengths lying in entertainment and cultural content.

ENDS

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

OFFICIAL CORPORATE STATEMENT

GPlus Media acquired by Fuji Media Holdings group company
April 7, 2015
http://blog.gplusmedia.com/en/gplus-media-acquired-by-fuji-media-holdings-group-company/

Fuji TV-Lab, LLC (President & CEO: Tadashi Tokizawa, Fuji TV-Lab), a subsidiary of Fuji Media Holdings, Inc. (President & COO: Hideaki Ota, FMH), has announced the acquisition of GPlus Media Co., Ltd. (GPM).

[Prestige English media in Japan]
GPM, a pioneer media company targeting the international community in Japan and abroad, operates several leading English websites such as Japan Today, which covers breaking news from Japan, and GaijinPot, which offers job and lifestyle information for foreigners in Japan and global readers who are interested in Japan.

[Matching needs]
The Japanese government has set an annual target of 20 million foreign visitors to Japan in 2020 for the Tokyo Olympic/Paralympics Games and GPM expects this will increase the demand for media targeting foreign residents and visitors to Japan at an accelerated pace.

[Future Strategies]
In the context of this trend, GPM joins the FMH group to strengthen its ability to connect foreign residents and visitors to Japanese companies and people.

Going forward, GPM will make the best use of the FMH group’s prestige and marketing know-how and resources in order to enhance existing GPM businesses as well as Fuji TV-Lab’s web-based business and the FMH group’s human resources, real estate and advertising businesses, and to develop new business fields such as health, education, food and entertainment.

In addition, GPM will focus on a diversification of its business through a solution service including marketing support and production of contents for Japanese companies which are engaged in the ever-growing inbound business, holding events for foreigners and the possibility of collaboration with the MICE / IR business.

[Management]
GPM co-founders, Peter Wilson and Erik Gain, will continue being engaged in the new management team, and strive to help GPM enhance the FMH group’s corporate value.

[About GPM]
Company Name:  GPlus Media Co., Ltd.
Address:  Minotomi Bld. 3F, Shiba Koen 3-1-1, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Nature of Business:  Operation of branded websites for the foreign community in Japan.
Founded:  2001
URL:  http://gplusmedia.com

[About Fuji TV-Lab]
Company Name:  Fuji TV-Lab, LLC
Address:  2-4-8, Daiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Nature of Business:  Operation of web-based service, production of contents, etc.
Founded:  2006
URL:  http://www.fujilab.jp

[Press Contact]
GPlus Media Co., Ltd.:Yagishita / Iwama
TEL:03–5403–7781 FAX:03–5403–2775

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

日本語

株式会社フジ・メディア・ホールディングス傘下への 移行のお知らせ
2015年4月07日
http://blog.gplusmedia.com/ja/gplus-media-acquired-by-fuji-media-holdings-group-company-ja/

株式会社ジープラス・メディア(本社:東京都港区、創業者:ピーター・ウィルソン及びエリック・ゲイン、以下「GPM社」)は、株式会社フジ・メディア・ホールディングス(本社:東京都港区、代表取締役社長:太田英昭、以下「FMH」)の傘下にあるフジテレビラボLLC合同会社(本社:東京都港区、代表:時澤正、以下「フジテレビラボ」)の子会社となりましたので、お知らせいたします。

【外国人に高い認知度を誇るウェブサイト】
GPM社は、英字ニュースサイト「Japan Today」や、求人情報を中心とした生活情報全般を提供する「GaijinPot」など外国人にとって重要なサービスを2001年から提供し続けており、日本で生活する外国人からの圧倒的な支持と高い認知度を誇っております。

【合致したニーズ】
2020年東京オリンピック・パラリンピックに向けて、政府は年間の訪日外国人旅行者数を2,000万人とする目標を掲げており、日本における外国人向けメディアの需要は加速度的に高まると想定される中、日本最大のメディアグループであるFMHグループ傘下となることで、お互いの強みを活かした相乗効果で、より多くの日本人と外国人とのつながりを広め様々な事業機会を創出できる好機と捉えております。

【今後の展開】
GPM社は、フジテレビラボのインターネット事業やFMHグループが既に行っている人材事業、不動産事業、広告事業との連携を図ることで、日本在住の外国人に向けた人材ビジネスをさらに充実させるとともに、医療、教育、グルメ、エンターテインメントなど新分野への事業展開を目指します。また、ますます増加が見込まれるインバウンド事業に取り組む日本企業へのマーケティング支援、コンテンツ制作などのソリューション事業、FMHグループの知見を活かした外国人向け大型イベントの開催やMICE/IR事業と連携の可能性も探るなど、事業の強化・多様化に注力してまいります。

【経営方針】
創業者であるピーター・ウィルソン及びエリック・ゲインは、今後も引き続き経営陣の一員としてGPM社の経営に関与し、今まで以上に日本の国際化に邁進し、さらなる事業の発展に一丸となって取り組んでいきます。

【GPM社の概要】
企業名 株式会社ジープラス・メディア
所在地 東京都港区芝公園3–1–1 美濃富ビル3階
事業内容 英字ニュースや外国人向け生活情報などを提供するウェブサイトの運営
設立年 2001年
URL http://gplusmedia.com

[フジテレビラボの概要]
企業名 フジテレビラボLLC合同会社
所在地 東京都港区台場2–4–8
事業内容 WEBサービスの運営、コンテンツの制作、システムの開発など
設立年 2006年
URL http://www.fujilab.jp

≪この件に関する報道関係の方々からのお問い合わせ先≫
株式会社ジープラス・メディア 広報室 担当:柳下 岩間
TEL:03–5403–7781 FAX:03–5403–2775

ENDS

Japan at Expo Milano 2015: Official display claims Japan is a land of “harmonious diversity” (in English). SRSLY? Yep. Let’s parse.

mytest

eBooks, Books, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  I think an interesting exercise in propaganda (which all nation-states indulge in, of course, but with differing degrees of popular acceptance as reality) is Japan’s display at the Expo 2015, currently underway in Milano, Italy.  (H/T to Debito.org Reader Max for pointing this out.).  It is a useful exercise to parse out the themes, memes, and dialectic within the display, as it is a good example of how Japan officially wants to be seen by the outside world.

For example, chew on this word salad (the Exhibit Message, courtesy of http://www.expo2015.jp/en/about/exhibition/):

====================================
Japan’s agriculture, which coexists with nature, cherishing all forms of life.
Japan’s nutritionally balanced diet, as represented by the traditional menu of “one soup, three dishes” that is rich with diverse fermented foods and plant proteins.
Japan’s cherished food culture, produced and nurtured by tradition and innovation.
Building upon the spirit of mutual respect and appreciation of coexisting diversity, we will creatively address global issues to pioneer a bright future.
====================================

Wow, I can poke holes in that pretty easily.  All forms of life including, say, oh, near-extinct fireflies, or overfished tuna or culled dolphins if you include aquaculture?  A “balanced diet” that includes whole separate candy and snack aisles in supermarkets, not to mention hell to pay if you ever want to eat vegetarian or vegan?  And “coexisting diversity”? Hang on a minute, let me catch my breath.  Okay, yes, let’s talk about that one, as it is germane to Debito.org (other Readers can parse other bits for themselves — there’s a lot to digest).  Here is the case they make, English original:

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

Scene Ⅱ DIVERSITY
●The diversity and additional development of Japan’s agriculture, food, and food culture
There is a great variety of agriculture in the world, with diverse food to match. Similarly in Japan, unique agriculture, food and food cultures have been cultivated in the various regions according to weather and climate, with additional developments based on learning from the world. In this zone, visitors will fully realize the diversity of Japan and the world by taking in an overview of more than 1000 content items related to agriculture, food and food culture.

The “Diversity Waterfall” will pour diverse content extending from production areas to the dining table to provide an interactive experience. When content floating in the waterfall basin is touched, related information will display.

As visitors enter the room, they will launch the Japan Pavilion application on their smartphones installed in advance. Set properly, their areas will light up in blue. When a visitor touches an image that interests her, the image will move to a position in front of her and load onto her smartphone. Images acquired in this exhibit area will be accumulated and can be seen along with other content on the archives page when the app is accessed after leaving the pavilion.

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

Original Japanese from http://www.expo2015.jp/about/exhibition/

Scene Ⅱ DIVERSITY
●日本の農と食、食文化の多様性、さらなる拡がり
世界には様々な農業があり、それに応じた多種多様な食があります。また日本でも同様に、気候や風土に応じて各地域で独自の農と食、食文化が育まれ、世界か らも学びながら、さらなる拡がりをみせています。このゾーンでは農と食、食文化に関する1,000を超えるコンテンツを一望することで、世界と日本の「多様性」を実感していただきます。

産地から食卓まで多種多彩なコンテンツが流れ落ちる「ダイバーシティの滝」。滝壺に漂うコンテンツに手を触れると、関連する様々な情報が映し出されるインタラクティブ体験を提供。

室 内に入り、あらかじめインストールしておいたスマートフォンの日本館アプリを起動させ、正しくセットすると自分のエリアが青く発光。興味のある画像にタッ チすると、その画像が体験者の目の前に移動し、スマートフォンに取り込まれます。退館後にアプリにアクセスすると本展示エリアで取得した画像が蓄積されて おり、その他のコンテンツもアーカイブページで閲覧することができます。

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

COMMENT: I of course am not knocking how good Japanese food is.  But it’s an interesting way to define “diversity” by basically equating it with “unique”.  Part of “diversity” in my view is being exposed to differences, and accepting those differences from The Other as part of The Self (e.g., and this is just sticking to food:  Canada claims poutine, the US claims pizza, Italy claims pasta, and France claims couscous as part of their own representative cuisines — even though they have strong and often-forgotten roots from outside).  Japan in any other context would portray itself as “homogeneous” (it still claims “uniqueness” in the display, natch), which is quite different than “diverse”.

This may be a matter of semantics not translating well, but since the display even appropriates the English word for its own use (similar snickers if not derisive scoffs would occur if a Japanese word were used in an odd context in a foreign language:  “Kamikaze” drinks, for example), I think it’s fair game for similar scoffs and claims of inaccuracy.  Especially when it’s being used for the purposes of portraying Japan as somehow “open” and “exposed” to significant differences in any real sense — ironic when you consider how often Japan’s food culture is unwelcoming to a diverse customer base.  Then once you get out of Japan you realize how REALLY diverse the world is — think cuisine in any major world city with its patchwork of ethnic cuisines cooked up by immigrants; even Honolulu’s far-flung island-constrained food culture is arguably more “diverse” than what you’d see just about anywhere in Japan.

What’s being portrayed in the Milano display is essentially “diversity within a terrarium” (gosh, look at all our different kinds of flora and fauna, and how they coexist harmoniously within our fishbowl!).  Thus I think the creators of this display have little idea what “diversity” really is.

Anyway, let me get back to why we’re bothering with this silliness on Debito.org.  We’ve done these sorts of discourse analyses here before, for example, with foreign crime reportage and the xenophobic bunker mentalities that exist within Japan’s police forces.  But let’s have a good look at how the GOJ wishes to present itself to the world:  As “Cool” (as in hip), “Harmonious with Nature” (old trope — don’t forget Japan’s unique four seasons!), and even, astoundingly, as “diverse” (in a land that in the Postwar Era did an about-face when shedding its “diverse” empire to become “homogeneous”; see Oguma Eiji, A Genealogy of “Japanese” Self-Images).

The fact that people around the world believe a lot of these contradictory tropes about Japan (to channel Alanis Morissette:  it’s ancient yet modern, open yet closed, peaceful yet martial, sober yet drunk etc.) is one of the reasons I believe that people get so confused and mentally-drained when they actually experience Japan and try to square away these official fabrications and half-truths (see Paris Syndrome).  Then when locals often assume the mantle of Cultural Representative of All Japan to The Foreigner to perpetuate these boilerplates, it actually contributes to the distance between people, making one’s respect diminish due to an apparent lack of critical thinking.  All this for the sake of preserving a national narrative built on poor social science, and created, as you see, by Japan’s ruling elites, in this case JETRO (assisted by MAFF, aka the Ministry of Dirty Tricks, one of the most duplicitous ministries in Japan).

In effect, you are seeing not just the Big Lie, but the Baldfaced Big Lies, created to show only Japan’s “good side” no matter how distanced from reality it so provably is.  We’ve seen it before plenty, but it’s really out in force during the PM Abe Era — not even a sense of irony to Japan’s propaganda anymore. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Entire text in order, for the record:

Exhibit message

Japan’s agriculture, which coexists with nature, cherishing all forms of life.
Japan’s nutritionally balanced diet, as represented by the traditional menu of “one soup, three dishes” that is rich with diverse fermented foods and plant proteins.
Japan’s cherished food culture, produced and nurtured by tradition and innovation.
Building upon the spirit of mutual respect and appreciation of coexisting diversity, we will creatively address global issues to pioneer a bright future.

Exhibit Scenes
PROLOGUE

●The world of aioi, where people and nature coexist

The front video screen will narrate the aioi (two tree trunks growing from one root) of people and nature. Paintings and calligraphic works will express the country of Japan blessed by rain and the destruction/regeneration of the environment as caused by humans. Lights and shadows, life and death… the various phenomena that seem to conflict yet cannot exist without the other shall be sculpted into Japanese language. The walls on the left and right will resemble a series of Ukiyoe prints, a Japanese cultural asset that is familiar in Europe. These will render the story “The Life of Rain,” tracing the abundant water that nurtures Japan’s soil over the course of four seasons. The entrance will be like a picture scroll to represent the country of Japan where people and nature live hand in hand. At the same time, it will serve to bring visitors into the world of the Japan Pavilion.

Scene Ⅰ HARMONY

●Japan’s food production centers that are respectful of nature and cultivate a rich variety of bounties

Developed amid steep land and a climate of abundant rain and humidity, Japan’s paddies retain and cover the land surface with water, creating native soil that preserves rich vegetation and biodiversity. This not only provides bounties of food for people, it also serves to control nature that sometimes brings harm such as floods and droughts. We will introduce this type of scheme as part of Japan’s agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry that coexists with nature, using the symbol of storks, which cannot make a habitat unless a rich ecosystem is maintained.

A magical space that combines the endless reflection of half-mirrors installed on the walls with video systems. The latest projection mapping technology will render Japan’s rural scenery of the four seasons.

ZONE 01
Image CG + text message

ZONE 02
A journey of Japan’s production regions, guided by a stork. The exhibition experience will be interactive in a space surrounded by video.

Scene Ⅱ CORRIDOR

●A long, narrow corridor of hospitality, evocative of the stone pavement in a Japanese-style garden

The seasons will be depicted in the corridor with sound and smell to introduce the scenery and festivals of the four seasons that can be seen around Japan.

Elements such as hanging scrolls with pressed flower art and aromas will create the aura of the seasons, while eight show windows with video systems will be placed on the wall.
Amid this, we will introduce rural scenery, creatures and festivals of the four seasons. Speakers will emit sounds reminiscent of each of the seasons.

Scene Ⅱ DIVERSITY

●The diversity and additional development of Japan’s agriculture, food, and food culture

There is a great variety of agriculture in the world, with diverse food to match. Similarly in Japan, unique agriculture, food and food cultures have been cultivated in the various regions according to weather and climate, with additional developments based on learning from the world. In this zone, visitors will fully realize the diversity of Japan and the world by taking in an overview of more than 1000 content items related to agriculture, food and food culture.

The “Diversity Waterfall” will pour diverse content extending from production areas to the dining table to provide an interactive experience. When content floating in the waterfall basin is touched, related information will display.

As visitors enter the room, they will launch the Japan Pavilion application on their smartphones installed in advance. Set properly, their areas will light up in blue. When a visitor touches an image that interests her, the image will move to a position in front of her and load onto her smartphone. Images acquired in this exhibit area will be accumulated and can be seen along with other content on the archives page when the app is accessed after leaving the pavilion.

Scene Ⅱ LEGACY

●Traditional wisdom and techniques that link to the future. Japanese cuisine is food of the future.

One soup, three dishes; fermentation and sun-drying; soup stock and umami; seasoning in the mouth; varied food culture according to region and season. We will appeal that the rich wisdom and techniques deeply ingrained in Japanese food since ancient times can become universal values and serve as food of the future, contributing to a healthy diet for people around the globe.

A showcase packed with the traditional wisdom and techniques applied to Japanese food. The Japanese diet with its excellent nutritional balance, exemplified by the classic “one soup, three dishes” menu, will also be shown with graphics.

SceneⅢ INNOVATION

●Japan’s creative solutions that uniquely address global issues

We will introduce Japan’s approach of mutual recognition and respect for the world’s variety of food production and diets while executing richly unique initiatives. Of this, we will share issues of global scale such as agriculture/food standardization, uneven food supply distribution, and nutritional imbalance. As steps to resolve these, we will propose the establishment of cooperative associations based in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industry and local communities to improve lifestyles; the traditional Japanese diet with excellent nutritional balance; and sustainable agricultural production initiatives that coexist with nature. We will also introduce international contributions of food and food production assistance that cross borders and advanced technology such as science and engineering that extend beyond the boundaries of disciplines

This future lab space will visualize the various issues faced by the globe today and introduce Japan’s newest technology developments and international initiatives to help resolve these. At the Future Globe Stage at the front, characters such as Morizo & Kiccoro, a stork, and a robot will appear to introduce Japan’s solutions to the various global issues, interweaving a story that will resonate with the emotions.

●Interactive Globe

Interactive Globes will introduce global-scale food issues and Japan’s solutions in response, using large data images and photos.

Scene Ⅳ COOL JAPAN DESIGN GALLERY

●The captivating cool Japan produced by tradition and innovation

Ingredients of the four seasons and tableware according to cuisine play important roles in Japan’s food culture. The shapes and designs of Japanese tableware, as well as the traditional techniques to create them, have been passed down through generations and are used every day as traditional crafts. This exhibition zone that also serves as a gallery space extending from the space to the tableware. Here, up-and-coming artisans of traditional crafts throughout Japan inherit and evolve traditional techniques to create various tableware that shall be communicated to the world as “Cool Japan Design.”

Stylish “Cool Japan Dining” cultivated by tradition and innovation. This area introduces the diverse reach of Japanese food culture developed through the coexistence of artisan techniques and cutting-edge design.

Scene Ⅳ FOYER – JAPAN SHOW CASE

●Captivating “Cool Japan” content

This zone is the lobby area for the Live Performance Theater. In addition to theater guidance, the Japan Show Case will show videos introducing the charms of Japan, such as anime, fashion and other new lifestyle information, tourism resources throughout Japan, and traditional culture. We will also introduce the latest technology tapped at the Japan Pavilion, as well as the newest agriculture and food technologies.

Scene Ⅴ LIVE PERFORMANCE THEATER

●The sentiments and bonds between people that start from the dining table. Japanese food is a global food that connects to the world.

The words itadakimasu and gochisosama express gratitude toward all people involved in food as well as toward the bounties of nature. Sharing these words deepens family bonds, cultivates friendships and expands the circle of communication. With shows that create a sense of unity by actively engaging the audience, visitors will experience how Japanese food can be global, connecting people around the world with smiles.

The restaurant-style theater wraps up the Japan Pavilion. Visitors watch shows from dining table-like seats. This arena theater-style emphasizes that this is a dining space with a sense of solidarity, in contrast with the conventional theater space where the audience faces front. Dining table-style audience seats are arranged in an arc surrounding the center stage, where cast members will perform according to the program. These will bring a sense of unity through interaction via media tables surrounded by the audience, cast performances and large-screen video spatial presentations. This will be a dynamic entertainment theater that actively engages the audience so that people from around the world can share sentiments, joy and smiles.

Spring presentation image.
The show progresses according to the four seasons.

A media table with multiple video displays. Each visitor can enjoy the interaction.

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

Original Japanese, full text:

展示メッセージ

あらゆる生命を慈しみ、自然と共生する日本の農。
多様な発酵食品や植物性蛋白質を中心とした一汁三菜に代表される
栄養バランスに優れた日本の食。
伝統と革新によって生み出され育まれた多彩な日本の食文化。
『共存する多様性』を相互に尊重し感謝する精神を礎に、地球的課題に独創的に取り組み、
明るい未来を切り拓く。
展示シーン
PROLOGUE

●人と自然が共に生きる相生(あいおい)の世界

人と自然の「相生」を物語る正面の映像スクリーンでは、雨に恵まれた日本と、人による環境破壊と再生を、書画で展開します。光と影、生と死、相反するようで、どちらかが欠けても存在できない様々な事象を、日本語の彫刻に。その左右の壁面には、ヨーロッパにも馴染みある日本文化浮世絵の連作のように見立て、日本の壌土を育む豊かな水の、四季をめぐる物語「雨の一生」。エントランスを一つの「絵巻物」のようにし、人と自然が共に生きる日本を、日本館の始まりの空間として表現します。
SceneⅠ HARMONY

●自然と寄り添い、多様な恵みを育む日本の食の産地

多雨・多湿な気候で急峻な土地に切り拓かれた日本の水田は、水をその土地に留め、地表を水が覆うことにより、豊かな植生と生物多様性を保持する国土を生み出しました。そして、人びとはそこから食の恵みを得ると同時に、洪水や渇水など、時に災いをもたらす自然をも治めてきました。このような営みを、自然と共生する日本の農林水産業として、豊かな生態系が維持されなければ生息できない「コウノトリ」をシンボルに紹介します。

壁に設置されたハーフ・ミラーの無限反射と映像装置を組み合わせた幻想的な空間。
最新のプロジェクションマッピング技術により、四季折々の農村風景を演出。

ZONE 01
イメージCG+テキストメッセージ

ZONE 02
コウノトリに誘われ、日本の産地を巡る旅。映像に囲まれた空間で、インタラクティブに展示体験できる。
SceneⅡ CORRIDOR

●日本庭園の石畳をイメージさせる細長い「おもてなし」の回廊空間

回廊では、音と香りで季節感を演出し、日本各地で見られる四季折々の風景と祭事を紹介。

「押し花アート掛け軸」や「香り演出」など季節感を醸し出す演出を施し、壁面には映像装置が設置された8つのショーウィンドーを配置。
その中で「四季折々の農村風景と生き物たち、四季の祭り」を紹介します。また、指向性スピーカーにより季節感のある音の演出も展開します。
SceneⅡ DIVERSITY

●日本の農と食、食文化の多様性、さらなる拡がり

世界には様々な農業があり、それに応じた多種多様な食があります。また日本でも同様に、気候や風土に応じて各地域で独自の農と食、食文化が育まれ、世界からも学びながら、さらなる拡がりをみせています。このゾーンでは農と食、食文化に関する1,000を超えるコンテンツを一望することで、世界と日本の「多様性」を実感していただきます。

産地から食卓まで多種多彩なコンテンツが流れ落ちる「ダイバーシティの滝」。滝壺に漂うコンテンツに手を触れると、関連する様々な情報が映し出されるインタラクティブ体験を提供。

室内に入り、あらかじめインストールしておいたスマートフォンの日本館アプリを起動させ、正しくセットすると自分のエリアが青く発光。興味のある画像にタッチすると、その画像が体験者の目の前に移動し、スマートフォンに取り込まれます。退館後にアプリにアクセスすると本展示エリアで取得した画像が蓄積されており、その他のコンテンツもアーカイブページで閲覧することができます。
SceneⅡ LEGACY

●未来につながる伝統の知恵と技。日本食は「未来食」

「一汁三菜」「発酵・天日干し」「出汁・うま味」「口内調味」「地域や季節に応じた多様な食文化」など、古来より日本食に込められた様々な知恵と技が、普遍的な価値となって、地球上の人びとの健康的な食生活に貢献する「未来食」となることを訴求します。

日本食に込められた伝統の知恵と技が凝縮されるショーケース。「一汁三菜」など栄養バランスに優れた日本の食生活もグラフィカルに紹介。

SceneⅢ INNOVATION

●地球的課題に対し独創的に取組む「日本のクリエイティブ・ソリューション」

世界の様々な食料生産や食生活を、互いに認め合い尊重しながら、独創性に富んだ取組みを行う日本の姿勢を示します。その中で、農業や食の画一化、食料の偏在化と栄養バランスの偏りなどの地球規模の課題を共有し、その解決に向け、農林水産業と地域社会に根ざして人びとの生活を向上させる協同組合組織の確立、栄養バランスに優れた伝統的な日本型食生活、自然と共生する持続的な農業生産の取組みなどを提案し、国境を越えた食と食料生産支援の国際貢献や科学・工学など分野を越えた先端技術なども紹介します。

現代の地球が抱える様々な問題を可視化し、課題解決に向けた日本の最先端の技術開発や国際貢献の取り組みを紹介するフューチャー・ラボ空間。正面の「Future Globe Stage」ではモリゾー・キッコロ、コウノトリ、そしてロボットといった様々なキャラクターが登場し、地球が抱える課題に対する日本のソリューションの数々を情緒的なストーリーに織り交ぜてご紹介します。

●触れる地球(Interactive Globe)

食にまつわる地球規模の課題や、それらに対する日本のソリューションを、ビッグデータや写真画像を「触れる地球(Interactive Globe)」で用いながらインタラクティブに紹介。

SceneⅣ COOL JAPAN DESIGN GALLERY

●伝統と革新がもたらす“クールジャパンダイニング”

日本の食文化では、四季折々の食材や料理に合わせた食器も大切な役割を演じます。和食器の形やデザイン、それを作り出す伝統のワザが現代にも伝承され、伝統的工芸品として日常に使われています。このゾーンは、空間から食器に至るまで、トータルプロデュースされたギャラリー空間です。その中で、新進気鋭のアーティストによる感性を伝統で培われた匠のワザにより表現した様々な和食器を、伝統の技を継承し発展させる「クールジャパンダイニング」として世界に発信していきます。

伝統と革新がもたらすスタイリッシュな「クールジャパンダイニング」。「匠の技」と「先端デザイン」の共存による日本食文化の多様な広がりを紹介。
SceneⅣ FOYER – JAPAN SHOW CASE

●魅惑的な“クールジャパンコンテンツ”

このゾーンはライブパフォーマンスシアターのウェイティング空間です。シアターガイダンスの他、アニメ、ファッションなどの最新ライフスタイルや、日本各地の観光資源、伝統文化の魅力を映像で紹介する「ジャパンショーケース」です。
また、日本館で活用される新技術や農と食に関する新技術も合わせて来場者に紹介します。

SceneⅤ LIVE PERFORMANCE THEATER

●食卓から始まる人びとの想い、絆。日本食は世界をつなぐ「地球食」

食に関わる全ての人びとや自然の恵みに対する感謝の気持ちを表す言葉「いただきます」や「ごちそうさま」。
この言葉を共有することで、家族の絆を深め、友情を育み、コミュニケーションの輪を拡げていきます。一体感のある観客参加型のショー演出を通して、日本食が、世界の人びとを笑顔でつなぐ「地球食」となることを体感していただきます。

日本館の締めくくりとなる、レストランスタイルのシアターでは、来館者がダイニングテーブル風の客席に着席してショーを観賞。正面性のある一般的なシアター空間ではなく、ダイニング空間であることを重視した、一体感のある円形劇場スタイル。弧を描くように並ぶダイニングテーブル風の客席に囲まれたセンターステージでは、演出の進行に合わせてキャストがパフォーマンスを行う。観客が囲むメディアテーブルのインタラクションとキャストのパフォーマンス、大型映像空間演出により、一体感のあるショーを展開。世界の人々の思いがつながり、笑顔となって喜びを分かち合う、ダイナミックな参加型エンタテインメント・シアター。

春の演出イメージ。日本の四季に合わせてショーが進行。

複数の映像ディスプレイを配したメディアテーブル。来場者一人一人がインタラクションを楽しめる。
展示紹介映像

ENDS

Japan Times JBC 87 May 4, 2015: Interview with M.G. Sheftall: “Japan-U.S. effort to tell Kamikaze suicide pilots’ stories dodges controversy, wins praise”

mytest

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Hello Blog. Here’s the opening to my latest Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column. There will be a longer version containing the whole hourlong interview with Dr. Sheftall out in a few days. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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THE JAPAN TIMES: ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
Japan-U.S. effort to tell suicide pilots’ stories dodges controversy, wins praise
BY DR. DEBITO ARUDOU. MAY 3, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/05/03/issues/japan-u-s-effort-tell-suicide-pilots-stories-dodges-controversy-wins-praise/

Dr. M.G. Sheftall, professor of modern Japanese history at Shizuoka University and author of “Blossoms in the Wind: Human Legacies of the Kamikaze,” was in Honolulu last month for the dedication of a temporary exhibition about the Tokkō kamikaze suicide pilots aboard the battleship USS Missouri, the site of Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II. JBC sat down for an interview with Dr. Sheftall about the kamikaze phenomenon and what makes this exhibition unique.

Q: So, what’s going on here?

You’ve witnessed something very historic, because the exhibit is the first about any kind of Japanese military activity in the modern era ever held outside of Japan with Japanese cooperation — in this case, with the Chiran Peace Museum on the kamikaze in southern Kyushu.

What makes the USS Missouri an especially relevant venue is that it is to my knowledge only one of two still-existing ships — the other being the USS Intrepid — that were actually hit by kamikaze during the war. The USS Missouri was hit on April 12, 1945, exactly 70 years ago.

There’s a feel-good aspect to this story — very hard to do when you’re talking about kamikaze attacks. The bomb on the plane that hit the Missouri did not detonate. The wreckage spilled onto the deck and amidst that was the pilot’s remains. When the crew was putting out the fire, the initial reaction had been to hose his remains off the deck. But the captain of the USS Missouri, William Callaghan, announced to the crew: “No, we’re going to give him a proper military burial. Now that he’s dead, he’s not the enemy anymore. He’s just another human being, like you and me, who died for his country.”

The next day the crew formed on deck to consign their fallen former enemy to the depths with full naval honors. They even made a Japanese flag shroud from old unused signal flags.

I think that’s a nice story. If there can be some recognition of humanity even in such circumstances, that shows hope for human beings in an otherwise insane and irrational situation dominated by hatred and fear.

Q: How many ships were sunk in the kamikaze campaigns? …

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Rest of the article up at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/05/03/issues/japan-u-s-effort-tell-suicide-pilots-stories-dodges-controversy-wins-praise/.

Feel free to comment below.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 4, 2015

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 4, 2015

 

Table of Contents:

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GOOD NEWS

1) Debito.org Post #2500: Dr. M.G. “Bucky” Sheftall’s speeches at the opening of “Kamikaze” suicide pilots exhibit aboard USS Missouri, Apr 10 and 11, 2015

2) Kyodo: Summary Court overturns fine levied on Filipino-Japanese man after Osaka police botch assault probe — that punished him for defending himself against drunk Japanese assailants!

SAME OLD, SAME OLD

3) Tokyo sushi shop Mizutani, with 2 Michelin stars, refuses NJ customers; awaiting Michelin Guides’ response

4) Kyodo: Ryukoku U exchange student denied “No Foreigner” Kyoto apartment in 2013; MOJ in 2015 decides it’s not a violation of human rights!

5) FCCJ’s Number One Shimbun on how GOJ is leaning on critical foreign correspondents (incl. accusing them of being on Chinese payroll!)

AN INTERESTING TANGENT

6) 1912 essay: “Japanese Children are no Menace in Hawaii” (from a “Prosperity-Sharing System for Plantation Laborers” handbook), with surprisingly inclusive arguments

… and finally…

7) My Japan Times JBC Column 86 April 6, 2015: “Japan makes more sense through a religious lens”

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

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GOOD NEWS

1) Debito.org Post #2500: Dr. M.G. “Bucky” Sheftall’s speeches at the opening of “Kamikaze” suicide pilots exhibit aboard USS Missouri, Apr 10 and 11, 2015

To celebrate Debito.org’s 2500th Blog Post (not including all of the other sites for example here, here, and here in the ten years before the blog was established), I am proud to have the privilege of putting up two important speeches by friend and colleague Dr. M.G. “Bucky” Sheftall of Shizuoka University, author of “Blossoms in the Wind: Human Legacies of the Kamikaze” (Penguin, 2005)

These speeches were given on April 10 and 11, 2015, to commemorate the opening of a temporary exhibit of historical artifacts and records of “Kamikaze” suicide pilots. This important exhibition is currently below decks for at least the next six months aboard the USS Missouri (yes, the site where Japan surrendered and ended WWII), anchored at Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii. It is open to the public, featuring things from the Chiran Peace Museum near Kagoshima, Kyushu, never before seen outside of Japan. I was in attendance at both events, and it made several US newspapers (the front page of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription only), on Hawaii NewsNow, and the Los Angeles Times) as well as some Japanese media. The ceremony itself took place on the 70th Anniversary of a suicide pilot colliding with the Missouri (its bomb did not explode), with many people on both sides of the Pacific in attendance.

I’ll let Bucky tell the rest of the story. First the shorter speech of April 11, then the longer one with more context and intents of April 10. Read and have a think about how some people are wresting control of Japan’s wartime narrative into a less jingoistic direction.

http://www.debito.org/?p=13229

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2) Kyodo: Summary Court overturns fine levied on Filipino-Japanese man after Osaka police botch assault probe — that punished him for defending himself against drunk Japanese assailants!

47News.jp (article below) reports that the Ministry of Justice Legal Affairs Bureau has refused to acknowledge “No Foreigners” apartments as a violation of human rights. This is the outcome of a case back in 2013, where an exchange student at Ryuukoku University was denied a flat despite going through the Student Union, and he took it to the Bureau of Human Rights for the official word on the subject. More than two years later (presumably the poor chap wasn’t living on the street in the interim), the MOJ determined that the foreigner-averse landlord had not violated anyone’s human rights, refusing to elaborate further. Great. Job well done and great precedent set, BOHR.

Two things of note: One is a media bias. Note how once again the 47News.jp article portrays the issue incorrectly in this scan of the sidebar illustration: It’s not “Foreigner Discrimination” (gaikokujin sabetsu no jirei). It’s racial discrimination, because the first case they cite (the Otaru Onsens Case in 1999) eventually has a Japanese being refused too. Yet the Japanese media will almost always refuse to undermine the incorrect narrative that racial discrimination never happens in Japan.

Second thing is that Japan’s generally ineffective Potemkin Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu) has a long history of blind-eyeing the very thing it’s charged with protecting against. As further evidence of its ineffectuality – even complicity with discriminators – here is an example where the Sapporo BOHR advised a local government (Otaru) that it has no legal obligation to pass ordinance against racial discrimination, only suggesting that the city make such an ordinance if it considers it necessary. This is a scan of a BOHR document from my book “Japanese Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan” (Tokyo: Akashi Shoten) , pg. 347 in the English version:

Further, the BOHR has denied information to claimants on the pretext of protecting claimants from their own privacy, so I wholeheartedly agree with the exchange student’s complaints about the lack of transparency. So this latest event of saying a blanket exclusionary policy as not a violation of human rights is but one more example to record on Debito.org for posterity.

http://www.debito.org/?p=13185

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SAME OLD, SAME OLD

3) Tokyo sushi shop Mizutani, with 2 Michelin stars, refuses NJ customers; awaiting Michelin Guides’ response

AFP: A top notch Michelin-starred sushi restaurant in Tokyo on Monday defended its special reservation rules for foreigners after a report in Japan it had refused to accept a booking from a Chinese customer. Sushi Mizutani, which has two of the coveted Michelin stars, told AFP it has an “across-the-board policy” of not accepting bookings by non-Japanese customers—unless they are made through a hotel concierge or a credit card company.

“Non-Japanese customers may not show up for their reservations,” a member of the staff at the restaurant said, adding employees do not have the foreign language proficiency to explain requirements to patrons. “We prepare fish for the number of expected customers and have to turn down other requests for booking sometimes. We simply cannot afford it if people don’t show up. “We don’t think it is anything discriminatory,” he said… No one from the Michelin Guide was available for comment.

COMMENT: Given the relativism and exceptionality that pervades the world’s treatment of Japan (giving it a free pass for some pretty egregious examples of racism), I would be rather surprised if Michelin took their stars away. Let’s wait and see.

http://www.debito.org/?p=13271

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4) Kyodo: Ryukoku U exchange student denied “No Foreigner” Kyoto apartment in 2013; MOJ in 2015 decides it’s not a violation of human rights!

JDG: Well, this is an interesting case. Now, if we take the poor reporting to mean that ‘Filipino-Japanese’ = naturalized Japanese citizen of NJ descent, this story is quite telling.

Naturalized Japanese citizen is stopped in Osaka by two drunk Japanese guys, who grab his shirt collars whilst shouting at him. The naturalized Japanese punches one in the face in self-defense and is arrested, charged, goes to court, and is fined.

The Japanese assailants, since they are ‘victims’ of their own victims self-defense, are not apprehended, and win compensation from their victim!

Thankfully, this was over-turned at a [summary] court. But the fact that it played out like this clearly shows the intense institutional racism of the Japanese police and legal system. In effect, if you are Japanese, you can commit assault (by western standards) on NJ (well, anyone who was not born Japanese), and the legal system recognize you as the victim if you are injured whilst attempting assault!

http://www.debito.org/?p=13269

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5) FCCJ’s Number One Shimbun on how GOJ is leaning on critical foreign correspondents (incl. accusing them of being on Chinese payroll!)

Germis: What is new, and what seems unthinkable compared to five years ago, is [foreign correspondents] being subjected to attacks from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – not only direct ones, but ones directed at the paper’s editorial staff in Germany. After the appearance of an article I had written that was critical of the Abe administration’s historical revisionism, the paper’s senior foreign policy editor was visited by the Japanese consul general of Frankfurt, who passed on objections from “Tokyo.” The Chinese, he complained, had used it for anti-Japanese propaganda.

It got worse. Later on in the frosty, 90-minute meeting, the editor asked the consul general for information that would prove the facts in the article wrong, but to no avail. “I am forced to begin to suspect that money is involved,” said the diplomat, insulting me, the editor and the entire paper. Pulling out a folder of my clippings, he extended condolences for my need to write pro-China propaganda, since he understood that it was probably necessary for me to get my visa application approved. Me? A paid spy for Beijing? […] The heavy handedness has been increasing over the past few years […] MoFA officials now seem to openly attack critical reporting. I was called in after a story on the effect the prime minister’s nationalism is having on trade with China. I told them that I had only quoted official statistics, and their rebuttal was that the numbers were wrong. […]

I’ve heard of an increase in the number of lunch invitations from government officials to foreign correspondents, and the increased budgets to spread Japanese views of World War II, and the new trend to invite the bosses of foreign correspondents deemed too critical (via business class, of course). But I would suggest the proponents tread carefully, since these editors have been treated to – and become inured to – political PR of the highest caliber and clumsy efforts tend to have an opposite effect. When I officially complained about the Consul’s comments about my receiving funds from China, I was told that it was a “misunderstanding.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=13205

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AN INTERESTING TANGENT

6) 1912 essay: “Japanese Children are no Menace in Hawaii” (from a “Prosperity-Sharing System for Plantation Laborers” handbook), with surprisingly inclusive arguments

Essay on Japanese immigrants to Hawaii, 1912, Conclusion: There have been born in Hawaii both Chinese and Japanese, educated here to man’s and woman’s estate, and, going back to their own country, have found themselves entirely at variance and out of sympathy with things there. Provision is made in Hawaii for the sound education of all its youth of all nationalities, in a public school system not surpassed in any state or territory of the mainland. Education is free and compulsory. A school is kept open for forty-two weeks in the year in the remotest country districts. It would he an anomaly to find an adult Hawaiian who can not read and write, most of them in both English and Hawaiian. This laudable foresight in providing means for the training of the young originated with the early missionaries, whose descendants, many of whom are now men and women of wealth and social influence, are leaders in all the activities that make for the betterment of the rising generation of all our races. Interest in education is not confined to any one class. Planters, business men, lawyers, doctors—all urge upon every legislature the importance of generous provisions for the education of the youth of the land.

There is nothing in evidence thus far to show that the Japanese-American citizen will not make as loyal and trustworthy an American as the other races and nationalities that have been absorbed by the American body politic and are now numbered among the Americans who set the highest standards of citizenship. Of course Hawaii is doing something new in this connection. But the first fruits of the Chinese-American gives every promised that the American influence in Hawaii over the Oriental of the Far East will be as bene-flcient and will develop as certainly a good and loyal American as the Americanism of the Eastern and Middle States in its influence on the Oriental of the Asia Minor, Russia and the population of what is in general terms the Near East. No American need worry over the future of Hawaii’s Americanism if the present immigration policy, agreeable to both Japan and the United States, is followed out. That is, to allow Hawaii to assimilate what Oriental population it already has, and at the same time balance the proportions by allowing, for a time a larger immigration of toilers from Europe.

http://www.debito.org/?p=13169

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… and finally…

7) My Japan Times JBC Column 86 April 6, 2015: “Japan makes more sense through a religious lens”

JBC: Ever noticed how Japan — and in particular, its ruling elite — keeps getting away with astonishing bigotry? Recently Ayako Sono, a former adviser of the current Shinzo Abe government, sang the praises of a segregated South Africa, advocating a system where people would live separately by race in Japan (a “Japartheid,” if you will). But that’s but the latest stitch in a rich tapestry of offensive remarks.

Remember former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s claim that “old women who live after losing their reproductive function are useless and committing a sin,” or his attribution of Chinese criminality to “ethnic DNA” (both 2001)? Or former Prime Minister Taro Aso admiring Nazi subterfuge in changing Germany’s prewar constitution (2013), arguing that Western diplomats cannot solve problems in the Middle East because of their “blue eyes and blond hair,” and advocating policies to attract “rich Jews” to Japan (both 2001)? Or then-Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone declaring Japan to be “an intelligent society” because it was “monoracial,” without the “blacks, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans” that dragged down America’s average level of education (1986)?

Although their statements invited international and domestic protest, none of these people were drummed out of office or even exiled to the political wilderness. Why? Because people keep passing off such behavior as symptomatic of “weird, quirky Japan,” i.e., “They say these things because they are Japanese – trapped in uniquely insular mentalities after a long self-imposed isolation (sakoku).”

Such excuses sound lame and belittling when you consider that it’s been 160 years since Japan ended its isolation, during which time it has successfully copied contemporary methods of getting rich, waging war and integrating into the global market.

This treatment also goes beyond the blind-eyeing usually accorded to allies due to geopolitical realpolitik. In the past, analysts have gone so gaga over the country’s putative uniqueness that they have claimed Japan is an exception from worldwide socioeconomic factors including racism, postcolonial critique and (until the bubble era ended) even basic economic theory!

So why does Japan keep getting a free pass? Perhaps it’s time to start looking at “Japaneseness” through a different lens: as a religion. It’s more insightful…

http://www.debito.org/?p=13199

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That’s all for this month. Thanks for reading!
Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 4, 2015 ENDS