Tangent: NPR: journalist Tom Ricks and how Western society operates best when it assumes an objective reality, and values facts over opinions

mytest

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Hi Blog. Tangent today on something that made me think.  I was listening to NPR the other day when I heard the following segment from NPR Fresh Air with Terry Gross: “Churchill, Orwell And The Fight Against Totalitarianism”, dated May 22, 2017.  Gross interviewed Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Tom Ricks, who said the writings of Winston Churchill and George Orwell still resonate today, and who discussed the caliber of the generals serving in the Trump administration.  Ricks, the author of the new book “Churchill And Orwell: The Fight For Freedom”, and writer of the blog The Best Defense for Foreign Policy magazine, had this to say at the very end of the interview.  Gross sets up the question:

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

GROSS: I want to quote something that you write in your book “Churchill And Orwell: The Fight For Freedom.” And again, this is a book – it’s a kind of dual biography and looking at how their political views evolved and how it was reflected in their writing and their hatred of both fascism and Stalinism.

So you write (reading aloud) “the fundamental driver of Western civilization is the agreement that objective reality exists, that people of goodwill can perceive it and that other people will change their views when presented with the facts of the matter.”

So I’d like you to talk to how that reflects on Churchill and Orwell and how that reflects today.

RICKS: That’s the last line in the book. And if – I’m glad you read it because if there’s anything I have to say I learned from this experience of reading and re-reading thousands upon thousands of words by Churchill and Orwell over the last three and half years, it’s that. That’s my conclusion – that this is the essence of Western society and, at its best, how Western society operates.

And it’s – you can really reduce it to a formula. First of all, you need to have principles. You need to stand by those principles and remember them. Second, you need to look at reality to observe facts and not just have opinions and to say, what are the facts of the matter? Third, you need to act upon those facts according to your principles.

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

COMMENT:  The point of this exchange was to conclude with how this fact-based (as opposed to opinion-based) dynamic has broken down over time, especially in current American politics.  And having lived in a society for an extended period where the search for the truth is less important than understanding power, and the existence of an objective reality is constantly doubted if not outright dismissed, I think it’s a good idea to keep this segment in mind on a personal level.  Periodically renew your commitment to fact-based inquiry towards an objective reality, and undertake decision-making with the flexibility to change your mind when presented with the facts.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

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Kyodo: “A year after enactment of hate speech law, xenophobic rallies down by nearly half”, but hateful language continues, mutates

mytest

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Hi Blog. Good news, according to Kyodo below, is that the number of hate-speech rallies in Japan has gone down significantly. Some mixed news, however, is that haters have found ways to temper their hate speech so that it avoids extreme invective (such as advocating death and destruction), but continues nonetheless with the public denigration of minorities and outsiders. Hence the new law is working, but it’s causing sophistication and subtlety in message. Sort of like replacing “Japanese Only” signs with “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”, and in practice only applying the rule to foreign-looking people.

Hence the need for something more comprehensive. Stage Two of anti-racism legislation, as Ryang Yong Song of the Anti Racism Information Center says in the article, would be this: “For the last year, discussions only focused on what is hate speech and the scope of freedom of expression, but that is not enough. A law is needed to ban all kinds of discrimination including ethnicity, birth and disability.”

As Debito.org has been advocating for decades, let’s have that law against racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu teppai hou).  A law against hate speech is good, but it’s a half-measure. Dr. Debito Arudou

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A year after enactment of hate speech law, xenophobic rallies down by nearly half
KYODO/JAPAN TIMES MAY 22, 2017
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/22/national/social-issues/year-enactment-hate-speech-law-xenophobic-rallies-nearly-half/

The number of xenophobic rallies in which ultra-right-wing groups use discriminatory language has dropped by nearly half in the 11 months since the Diet enacted a law to deter hate speech, the National Police Agency said.

While statistics show some positive impact from the law, legal experts are starting to point out its limitations because groups are finding ways to circumvent it by modifying their language at rallies to avoid obvious epithets but still express the same kind of bigotry.

From June 3, 2016, through the end of April, police nationwide tallied 35 demonstrations involving hate speech versus 61 in the same period a year earlier.

[…]

Designed to curb hate speech, the law urges the central and municipal governments to take measures to eliminate discrimination. However, it stops short of prohibiting or penalizing such speech for fear that doing so would violate the constitutional right to freedom of expression.

The Justice Ministry has shown municipal governments examples of hate speech, including phrases that urge others to “kill people” of a certain nationality, “throw them into the ocean,” tell them to “return to their homeland” or describe them as “cockroaches.”

But Satoko Kitamura, a lawyer investigating hate speech rallies, told the Diet earlier this month that organizers have been “contriving ways so that (their demonstrations) will not be recognized as adopting hate speech.”

She said participants in demonstrations in Tokyo, Saitama and Fukuoka raised signs that said “Die Korea” or chanted a slogan that said, “Please enter the Sea of Japan.”

“The Justice Ministry is calling on municipal governments to take into consideration the contexts and meaning of the expressions. As long as there are people who feel they are targeted and offended, such language must also be considered hate speech,” Kitamura said.

Iruson Nakamura, a 47-year-old journalist whose mother is a Korean resident of Japan, said, “(Hate-motivated) demonstrations have continued and online speech that incites discrimination is uncontrolled. Prohibitive measures must be sought by amending the law or enacting ordinances.”

Read whole article at:
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/22/national/social-issues/year-enactment-hate-speech-law-xenophobic-rallies-nearly-half/
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Japan’s High School Hair Police: Asahi on “Survey: 57% of Tokyo HSs demand hair-color proof”. Still.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Ten years ago I wrote a JT column on Japan’s “Hair Police”, i.e., how Japanese schools force their kids of diverse backgrounds to conform to a Wajin ideal of “black straight hair” imposed by inflexible school rules, and dye their hair black.  It’s recently been revisited by the Asahi and Business Insider.com.

As I wrote back then, the damage to children is both physiological (Google “hair coloring” and “organ damage” and see what reputable sources, such as the American Journal of Epidemiology and the National Institutes of Health, have to say about side effects: lymphatic cancer, cataracts, toxins, burns from ammonium persulfate), and psychological.  And yet it persists.

And not as a fringe-element trend — the majority of Tokyo high schools (the most possibly cosmopolitan of the lot) police hair color.  In any case, woe betide Japan’s Visible Minorities for daring to not “look Japanese” enough.  Here are the two articles, the second of which actually references my old JT column.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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Survey: 57% of Tokyo high schools demand hair-color proof
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN May 1, 2017, courtesy of AT
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201705010035.html

Photo: Some Tokyo-run high schools ask guardians to sign and seal a form to verify students’ claims of having naturally light-colored or curly hair. (Ippei Minetoshi)

Nearly 60 percent of public high schools in Tokyo ask students with light-colored hair for proof, such as childhood photos, that these locks are their “real hair,” an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.

Many schools run by the Tokyo metropolitan government prohibit their students from dyeing or perming their hair as part of the dress code. The system of asking for “proof of real hair” was introduced to prevent schools from scolding or humiliating students whose hair is not naturally black.

The Asahi Shimbun interviewed all 173 full-time high schools run by the Tokyo metropolitan government on whether they ask students to submit forms of “proof of real hair.”

Ninety-eight of the 170 schools that responded to the survey answered “yes,” representing 57 percent of all schools contacted.

At least 19 schools ask their students to submit pictures of themselves as infants or junior high school students to prove the true color of their hair, the survey showed.

“Some students insist that their hair is natural even though it is dyed,” said a teacher at a metropolitan-run school in Setagaya Ward. “We ask their parents to confirm these claims as their responsibility.”

The style of the form varies from school to school. Most schools ask guardians to describe their children’s hair, such as, “My child’s hair is brown,” on the forms. The guardians’ seals are required to validate the information.

The number of students who submit the forms ranges from a few to a few dozen every year at each school.

Many schools hand out forms to new students who appear to have dyed or permed hair at a school information session attended by their guardians before the beginning of the academic year.

The school said the forms are intended to avoid unnecessary problems with the students if they are admitted. But the forms also show that the school is making efforts in providing “non-academic guidance.”

As the nation’s birthrate declines, competition between public schools and private schools to secure enrollees has intensified. Strict discipline can be a strong selling point.

Katsufumi Horikawa, chief of the guidance department at Tokyo’s board of education, said asking for proof of natural hair “is a valid process to prevent mistaken warnings to students (with naturally non-black or curly hair) and making them feel bad.”

However, he expressed concerns that some schools are going too far.

“Photographs are private documents, and extra consideration to protect personal rights is needed,” Horikawa said.

The education board of Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, said it is “aware of the practice at several high schools.” Also in the Tokyo metropolitan area, Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures said they do not have information about the practice.
ENDS

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Most Tokyo high schools demand students prove their real hair color, study finds
Business Insider.com, by Chris Weller
May 4, 2017, courtesy of BS
http://www.businessinsider.com/japanese-students-hair-color-2017-5

In the US, dress-code violations might include an offensive t-shirt or a mini skirt. In Japan, a dye job can do you in.

According to a new survey published by Tokyo news outlet The Asahi Shimbun, 57% of public high schools in the city require students to prove that their hair color is natural.

The measure is designed to uphold strict Japanese standards regarding physical appearance: In addition to prohibiting students from perming or dyeing their hair, many Japanese schools mandate crisp, respectable dress and don’t allow overly long or unkempt hair.

According to Asahi Shimbun, 98 of the 170 schools surveyed by the paper had such a policy in place. The number of children who’d been made to prove their hair color was real ranged from a few to a few dozen during the most recent school year.

“Some students insist that their hair is natural even though it is dyed,” one teacher told Asahi Simbun. “We ask their parents to confirm these claims as their responsibility.”

Unlike the US, Japan’s population is fairly homogeneous. As a result, the culture often places a premium on uniformity — even slight deviations from the norm tend to stand out, and provoke criticism in more conservative circles.

Natsuko Fujimaki, a Tokyo-based entrepreneur, says this is where the Japanese concept of majime comes into play. The term refers to a preference for order, tidiness, and often perfectionism. It tracks closely with a desire to stay reserved and sensible in comportment.

“They try to follow the rules for everything,” Fujimkai [sic] tells Business Insider.

In order to prove that a student’s hair is natural, schools will often ask parents to submit childhood photos depicting the kid’s hair color. In less extreme cases, parents only need to verify in writing (with a signature) that their child’s hair hasn’t been treated in any way.

The practice is not new. Even a decade ago, some schools required students to prove they hadn’t dyed or curled their hair. In extreme cases, schools would even require foreign-born students to dye their hair to conform to the rest of the student body as part of a forced assimilation process.

“Every week teachers would check if Nicola was dyeing her hair brown,” a Brazilian-born student named Maria told Japan Times of her sister, Nicola, in 2007. “Even though she said this is her natural color, she was instructed to straighten and dye it black. She did so once a week. But the ordeal traumatized her. She still has a complex about her appearance.”

Hair dye and perms aren’t the only beauty choices subject to Japanese dress-code standards. Many male students can’t wear spiky or messy hairstyles, allow their hair to cover their eyes, or let it grow past their collars. Some schools require female students to pin their hair back “in a way that does not interfere with classroom instruction,” as one school’s code put it.

According to Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s falling birth rate plays a role in these rules. With fewer students to fill the schools, public and private schools have started competing for parents’ attention. One strategy they’ve adopted: Highlight their strict hair policies to show how majime they are about education, in hopes parents will be impressed by the rigor.

Some critics say the requirement that students prove their hair is natural violates their privacy.

Meanwhile, advocates allege it does the students a favor, since one verification process can prevent headmasters from constantly asking whether a child’s hair is real. They say asking for initial proof ends up sparing kids even greater psychological harm.
ENDS

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

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Asahi: Joe Kurosu MD on ineffectually low doses of medicine for NJ patients and bureaucratic intransigence

mytest

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Hi Blog. In our previous blog entry, Debito.org Reader StrepThroat brought up the issue of Japanese medical prescription doses being too low to be effectual for some larger patients, particularly larger NJ patients used to larger doses overseas. Some respondents recommended taking double the dose and going to the doctor again for refill of the prescription, while others self-medicated with overseas supplements, and still others mentioned falling through the system entirely (particularly when it came to painkillers).

Joe Kurosu MD, who runs a clinic in Shimokitazawa, adds to this discussion in a January 2010 series of opinion pieces in the Asahi Shinbun, by saying:

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

Asahi:  “For reasons that are unclear, however, the indicated maximum dose is often significantly lower than that which is standard in other parts of the world. Difference in physical frame and incidents of side effects are some of the purported reasons, but a scientifically convincing basis is lacking.

“A significant number of resident foreign nationals currently receive health care through the Japanese national health insurance system, but are ill-served because of these dosage standards.

“The maximum daily doses indicated on package inserts of standard medications for high blood pressure, diabetes and depression, for example, are one-quarter to one-half of the standard doses in other countries for the identical drug. […]

“In any case, if the government requires foreign nationals to join the [National Health Insurance] system, it must be willing to provide services appropriate to that population. If this is not possible, then buying in the system should be voluntary […] I urge the government and relevant authorities to return autonomy to the physicians so the medications can be prescribed appropriately for the patient, whether or foreign or Japanese, based on science and clinical judgment, rather than [mechanically applying the dosage levels indicated on the package inserts].”
//////////////////////////////////////////

Here are scans of Dr. Kurosu’s articles in English and Japanese, courtesy of Dr. Kurosu himself (pctclinic.com) and RJ.

PDF versions here (click on link):
Kurosu2
KurosuArticleJP

There was another question as to whether Japanese medical testers screen for Japanese as an ethnicity (or “race”) when it comes to clinical trials.  Well, yes they do — as demonstrated here in Hawaii when I saw an ad in our campus newspaper back in 2012 calling for “Japanese” people to volunteer for a series of clinical trials “to help Japanese people”, sponsored by Covance.  I inquired (as a Japanese citizen), but was told that they were only interested in “ethnic Japanese” (including those who didn’t have Japanese citizenship, but had “Japanese blood”).  Oh well.  Missed out on my body mass.

Many thanks to everyone for helping make Debito.org a valuable resource and forum. Dr. Debito Arudou

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Reader StrepThroat: Medical prescriptions for foreign patients gauged to ineffectual children’s doses, regardless of patient size considerations

mytest

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Hi Blog.  We’ve dealt with cases of hospitals refusing to treat NJ patients before (see some cases here).  Here’s something that’s never come up on Debito.org before:  How even when NJ receive treatment, medicines may be ineffectual due to low dosages.  Check this out.  I’m not a doctor (well, not one that can write prescriptions), so I hope members of the medical community can weigh in on this one.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

From: StrepThroat
Subject: Fwd: Indirect discrimination in prescriptions?
Date: May 6, 2017
To: debito@debito.org

Dear Debito,

I don’t tend to get sick often but just my luck, I was hit with some evil form of strep throat just as Golden Week started. After hours of hunting down an open hospital, and then another hour or so to hunt down an open pharmacist, I had my prescription antibiotic cut down to 2/3rds the prescription at the pharmacy. Apparently the doctor had taken my size into consideration when writing the prescription…but the pharmacists called him out on it exceeding the maximum daily dosage. I protested but was ultimately left with what the rest of the world considers a children’s dosage. After speaking with the pharmacist, doctor, and other pharmacists, what I found was the maximum dosage of certain medications is regulated by law and the maximum dosages for sales within Japan are determined by trials done exclusively on ethnic Japanese. I’m hardly a huge guy but at 75kg, I’m surely larger than the average Japanese. so this results in less than ideal dosages for nearly everything. For example, this time I was given:

acetaminophen:

Extra Strength Tylenol is 1000mg every 6 hours.
Normal Tylenol is 650mg every 6 hours.
Childrens Tylenol is 500mg every 6 hours.
Japanese Calonol is 400mg every 6 hours.

clarithromycin:

Overseas recommended dosage is 250-500mg twice a day.
Japanese dosage is 200mg twice a day.

Huscode 741 combo pills

Overseas adult dosage is 3 pills, 3 times a day.
Overseas children’s dosage is 2 pills 3 times a day.
Japan dosage is 2 pills, 3 times a day.

Basically, strict regulation of dosage size, based on the average ethnic Japanese rather than a more reasonable system based on body weight or age like in other countries. The end result is ineffective, children’s dosing or less for those of us who don’t fit the garigari average Japanese body size standard.

Probably not intentional racism but the narrow-minded mindset to use only locals for domestic Japanese consumptions means at the end of the day, it is likely to affect most NJ patients as well as any Japanese that are larger than the average Japanese. Every doc and pharmacist agreed the dosages were too small but gave the usual shogainai/gamanshikadekinai answers.

Sincerely yours, StrepThroat

========================
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UPDATE:  Asahi: Joe Kurosu MD on ineffectually low doses of prescription medicine for NJ patients and bureaucratic intransigence, in the Asahi Shinbun http://www.debito.org/?p=14616

Nikkei: ‘No foreigners allowed’: Survey shows heavy discrimination in Japan (which editorializing Nikkei Asian Review tries to excuse and dismiss)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Following my most recent JBC column on the MOJ Foreign Residents Survey (which showed significant and substantial rates of “foreigner discrimination” in Japan, particularly in housing), we have the right-of-center Nihon Keizai Shinbun (roughly equivalent to the Wall Street Journal in stature and tone) offering their interpretation of the Survey.  Note the editorializing (which I will point out within the article below [in square brackets]) to try to be discounting or dismissive of the report — trying to pass it off as somehow “worries” about mere cultural misunderstandings, or issues not serious enough to seek help for.

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

‘No foreigners allowed’: Survey shows heavy discrimination in Japan
40% are refused housing because they are not Japanese
NIKKEI ASIAN REVIEW, April 6, 2017, Courtesy of JH
By TSUBASA SURUGA, Nikkei staff writer
http://asia.nikkei.com/Japan-Update/No-foreigners-allowed-Survey-shows-heavy-discrimination-in-Japan

TOKYO — Nearly 40% of foreign residents seeking housing in Japan are turned down because they are not Japanese, according to a new government survey. Roughly the same percentage also report being refused housing due to the lack of a Japanese guarantor.

[Aha.  So let’s immediately mitigate the problem by saying it’s a systemic issue, one that applies to Japanese too.  Even though it’s a lot tougher for NJ to get guarantors because they don’t have family or other “credible” connections in Japan, meaning it’s still slanted against the NJ renter regardless.]

Nearly 27% of the 2,044 foreign respondents who had sought new housing within the past five years reported giving up on a potential residence after discovering a notice saying “no foreigners allowed.”

“The landlord told [me and my husband] that the house is not for foreigners,” a Filipino woman in her forties was quoted as saying in the survey, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Justice.

“We visited a different real estate agent, but they said a Japanese guarantor was required,” she said. “We explained that we were both permanent residents, only to be declined because we did not meet the conditions.”

These rejections, however, are not necessarily motivated by racism.

[But that’s not what the survey says.  This is the Nikkei offering their interpretation.  And look at their reasoning:]

Many landlords fear they may not be able to communicate easily with foreign tenants. Other reasons for refusal to rent include worries that foreign tenants will not follow Japanese customs, such as taking off their shoes inside the house.

[And that’s not racism?  Presuming that foreign tenants cannot communicate?  And justifying the denial of housing due to unfounded “worries” that people allegedly WON’T TAKE OFF THEIR SHOES!?  How would Nikkei editors feel if they were stationed overseas, but were refused apartments because of landlord “worries” that Japanese eat too much rice and might clog the toilets with their BMs?  (We already get enough Japanese grousing about racism when they get seated in an overseas restaurant too close to the toilet.)  On what planet would this not be interpreted as a normalization of prejudice expressed performatively as racism?  I guess Planet Nikkei.]

The survey, the first of its kind conducted by the government, was aimed at obtaining a detailed understanding of human-rights abuses faced by foreigners as Japan at a time when the country is preparing from a dramatic influx in foreign visitors due to the coming of 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The number of foreign residents reached an all-time high of 2.38 million at the end of 2016, up 6.7% on the year, according to the ministry.

The survey was conducted by the Center for Human Rights Education and Training across 37 areas nationwide between November and December last year. The organization mailed surveys to 18,500 foreign residents and received 4,252 responses.

Chinese and South Koreans combined accounted for over half of the adult respondents, followed by Filipinos, at 6.7%, Brazilians, 5.2%, and Vietnamese, 4.8%.

Of the 2,788 respondents who either worked in Japan or were looking for work here, 25% said they were denied employment because they were not Japanese. The report suggested that language ability did not appear to be the problem, as nearly 95% of those respondents said they spoke conversational, professional-level or fluent Japanese.

About 20% of those working in Japan said they received lower pay than their Japanese counterparts in the same job.

Nearly 30% of all respondents said they had been the target of derogatory remarks or insults due to their ethnic background in the past five years. Of those respondents, about 80% called the experience “unpleasant” or “unacceptable.” However, only 11% had sought help or consultation in response.

[And what’s the point of pointing out like this that they hadn’t sought help or consultation?  That it’s their fault for not seeking help, or that it wasn’t serious enough an issue to bother?  Perhaps they know by now that seeking official assistance in Japan is generally meaningless (see for example here, here, and here)]
ENDS

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So many little needles, Nikkei, so little tolerance for news that reflects badly on Japan.  That’s why getting rid of Japan’s embedded racism is so difficult — it’s embedded in even the most mainstream of publications and discounted for whatever reasons plausible.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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