JT: “Japan’s NJ workers reach record 1.28 million with labor crunch”; more grist for the grinder

mytest

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Hi Blog.  It’s that time of year again, when the GOJ releases the annual stats for NJ residents (i.e., 2.3 million); in this case, as per the article below, the annual stats for NJ laborers, since not all NJ can work).  So let’s get to them:

Kyodo reports that there are more NJ laborers in Japan (1.28 million) than ever in Japan’s modern measured history, and this is largely due to the temporary NJ “Trainees” being brought in under Japan’s “no unskilled labor” unskilled-labor visa policy.

The big news is that Chinese and now Vietnamese are the two biggest foreign worker nationalities in Japan (I assume the 338,950 Zainichi Korean Special Permanent Residents were not counted as “foreign workers” here), followed by Filipinos and Brazilians (yes, they’re coming again) and Nepalese.

So all the official transgressions against NJ laborers a decade ago are forgotten, and ever more victims of Japan’s revolving-door visa market are arriving to be exploited and sent home.  Seems NJ never learn, but this new crop will find out soon enough.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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Japan sees foreign workers climb to record 1.28 million as labor crunch continues
JAPAN TIMES/KYODO NEWS, JAN 27, 2018
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/01/27/national/japan-sees-foreign-workers-climb-record-1-28-million-labor-crunch-continues/

The population of foreign workers set a record of about 1.28 million in late October as rapidly graying Japan continued to rely on foreign trainees and students to make up for its labor shortage, the labor ministry said Friday.

The total of 1,278,670 is 18 percent higher than last year and the highest since comparable data became available in 2008, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

Chinese led the way with 372,263 workers, up 8 percent on year, followed by the Vietnamese, whose numbers soared 40 percent to 240,259, accounting for 35 percent of the increase.

Filipinos came in third at 146,798, up 15.1 percent, followed by Brazilians at 117,299, up 10.0 percent, and Nepalese at 69,111, up 31.0 percent.

By residential status, permanent residents and spouses of Japanese climbed 11 percent to reach 459,132, while students with part-time jobs rose 24 percent to 259,604 from a year ago. The number of technical interns meanwhile grew 22 percent to 257,788.

Due to the tight labor market, Japan’s recovering economy and shrinking population, many of the technical interns and students are being hired to perform unskilled labor for low wages to fill serious manpower shortages.

While the government has opened its doors to professionals specializing in information technology and other specific fields, it does not officially welcome unskilled laborers to avoid public debates on immigration, which has long been a sensitive issue.

Foreign specialists comprise a small portion of the incoming workers, and many are hired by small firms with fewer than 30 employees, according to the ministry.

In the manufacturing industry, 40 percent of them were trainees brought in under the state-sponsored technical intern training program. In the service sector, which includes the hotel and restaurant industries, 60 percent were students.

As many foreigners seeking to gain skills or education are treated as laborers, the situation has raised concerns about corporate exploitation and the abuse of student visas for working purposes.

Japan relies heavily on foreign labor, and experts and scholars have been urging more public debate on immigration policy as Japan’s society continues to gray and shrink.

ENDS

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JT: “Coming of age: 1 in 8 new adults in Tokyo are not Japanese”; underanalyzed stats posing as media peg

mytest

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Hi Blog. And while I’m on the subject of questionable social science in journalism, let’s have a gander at this hopeful article in the JT, talking about how “1 in 8 new adults in Tokyo are not Japanese”.

Now that Japan’s Juuminhyou registry system no longer requires citizenship for actual Japan residency, foreign residents can actually be counted like real people (albeit not as the general Japanese demographic population, alas). That has enabled this article to offer a bit of statistical sleight-of-hand, as in saying that Japan is internationalizing because lots of emerging-adult non-citizens came of age in 2017, i.e., 13% of Tokyo’s population.

That’s fine, and a positive development as far as Debito.org is concerned. But not something all that headline-grabbing as a bellwether. After all, the article barely mentions the NJs’ visa status. Are these Permanent Residents who can stay here forever, and make a difference without fearing the loss of their visa? Or are they on something shorter and thus sweepable (or bribable) with the thud of a bureaucratic stamp of “nonrenewal”? (The article mentions the uptick in student and “trainee” visas; precisely my point.  This is not immigration; it’s a reflection of stopgap labor movement.)

And the true measure of internationalization — international Japanese citizens (i.e., Japanese children of international roots) — are not counted at all, once again showing the “embedded racism” of the process (by deliberately reducing Japan’s level of “foreignness” to more comfortable levels by only counting “pure” foreigners in isolation). Then what is a more newsworthy stat?  How about the record numbers each year of NJ residents with Permanent Residency?  That never seem to make much news blip. No wonder. That would actually mean something IS changing.

Instead, we get soft stats in soft newspaper articles like these. Again, fine, but we Old Japan Hands are getting rather sick of hearing prematurely how “Japan is changing” in the media, and getting our hopes up unnecessarily. Let’s have our journalists use some critical thinking and focus on more meaningful trends (such as the stat cited at the very bottom about Tokyo’s overall numbers of NJ residents; albeit again without accounting for visa status). Dr. Debito Arudou

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Coming of age: 1 in 8 new adults in Tokyo are not Japanese, ward figures show
BY REIJI YOSHIDA, STAFF WRITER
THE JAPAN TIMES, JAN 10, 2018 (excerpt)
Courtesy https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/01/10/national/coming-age-1-8-new-adults-tokyo-not-japanese-ward-figures-show/

Monday was Coming-of-Age Day, when thousands of new Japanese adults celebrated turning 20 while wearing traditional kimono in commemoration ceremonies.


(Photo courtesy of Reuters and the JT)

But it was not only Japanese citizens who observed the personal milestone in the country. In fact, this year more than 1 in every 8 new adults in Tokyo’s 23 wards are not Japanese citizens, figures compiled by The Japan Times show.

According to data provided by the 23 ward offices, 10,959 new non-Japanese adults live in central Tokyo, or 13 percent of the 83,764 new adults living in the city.

[…]

New adults are defined as those who turned 20 or will turn 20 between April 2, 2017 and April 1 of this year. Those with dual citizenship of Japan and another country are counted as Japanese citizens. In Japan, those with dual citizenship are obliged by law to choose one of the two nationalities by the age of 22.

The ratios look particularly high given that foreign residents accounted for only 4.4 percent of the 9.3 million people living in Tokyo’s 23 wards as of January 2017.

[…]

Experts attributed Tokyo’s recent surge in the number of young non-Japanese to a flood of foreign residents coming with student and training visas.

Japan is suffering from a labor shortage in part because its working population is shrinking due to a low birth rate. This has helped attract a vast number of young foreign workers, in particular to the capital, said Toshihiro Menju, managing director at the Japan Center for International Exchange in Tokyo.

“This trend will continue over the long run. So Japan should not deal with it through ad hoc measures,” he said.

Japan has officially banned the immigration of unskilled foreign laborers, but it has allowed numerous foreign workers to come and work with student and so-called technical trainee visas, Menju said.

According to the metropolitan government, those who live in the city with student visas nearly doubled from 58,764 in 2012 to 104,889 last year.

[…]

Meanwhile, Nobuharu Hikiba, an official with the metropolitan government in charge of policies for foreign residents, also noted that the total number of foreign residents has continued its increase in Tokyo recently and that more foreign residents are staying for longer periods in the capital.

According to the Justice Ministry, the number of foreign residents in Tokyo’s 23 wards surged 25.5 percent from 2013 to hit 410,650 in 2017.

ENDS

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Hawaii’s false alarm missile attack of Jan 13, 2018. JT reports: “Hawaii residents spooked but Japanese sanguine”. Poor reporting and social science.

mytest

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Hi Blog. Making news (especially in the United States) was the alert on January 13 sent throughout Hawaii that the islands were under nuclear attack. And there were a number of reports of final messages to loved ones and otherwise panicked behavior as people tried to make use of their final moments. Fortunately, it turned out to be a false alarm, but the local government kept us in suspense for 38 minutes.  That is where the news is — the incompetence of local authorities coupled with international tensions fanned by an incompetent president.

But leave it to the Japan Times to try to draw sociocultural lines around the event. With the smarmy title, “False-alarm missile alert spooks Hawaii residents but Japanese sanguine,” it tried to paint Japanese as preternaturally calm while Americans were panicked. Drawing from a humongous sample size of three — yes, three — “Japanese”, the JT reported juicy quotes such as this:

[Megumi] Gong, [a housewife and college student from Shizuoka Prefecture who has lived in Honolulu for the last three years], characterized the differences between how Americans and Japanese reacted as “fascinating.” “I don’t know if it is a sense of crisis or an obsession with life, or whether one is more accustomed to emergency situations, but the difference in the responses is fascinating,” she said. Japanese, Gong said, “are afraid” but “aren’t panicked” — a kind of “it cannot be helped” attitude. “We don’t call our family to say I love you. We still go to work,” she said. “Also, we give up fast,” as if we “will die if the missile” comes. We “can’t do anything.”

Such is the blindness of transplant diaspora, who act, without any apparent social science training, as Cultural Representative of All Japan, wheeled out to represent an entire society of more than 100 million as a “we” monolith, and taken seriously by media merely by dint of her having Japanese background.  And in contrast, at least one of my contacts in Hokkaido (which also had a DPRK missile alert (for real) over Oshima Hantou and Erimo last September) would disagree with the lack of local panic.

When I raised the faulty social science on the JT discussion board, one respondent pointed out:

I believe one of the points of the article is to show contrast between those that are familiar with situations like this, and those that are not. Some people have a tendency to rely on either experience, or some sort of education that dictates initial reaction. When people cannot extrapolate a clear path of action based on an educated or experienced mindset, they have nothing to rely on, so they ignorantly panic instead. If anything, this article tells me that the “locals” need a solid plan they can focus on when the next alarm goes off. Ignorance can certainly be disastrous.

That point would be fair enough.  Except that the article didn’t actually say that.  It just smarmily made the case that Americans panic and Japanese don’t — by temperament, not by training.

As for the local panic point:  I’m in Hawaii too, and I didn’t even know about the missile alert until it was called off as a false alarm.  (January 13 just so happens to be my birthday, and I was sleeping in.)  Why?  Because nobody in my neighborhood panicked.  Some reports made it seem to be more of a Waikiki thing, which calls into question how many of these tourists were “Americans” in the first place.

Poor reportage, Japan Times.  You can do better than this.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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New Years Eve 2017 TV Blackface Debate in Japan (again): Referential Links

mytest

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Hi Blog. With the recent broadcast of an “Eddie Murphy homage” (with Japanese tarento Hamada Masatoshi doing blackface) on one of the most-watched shows in Japan all year, Debito.org feels a need at least to mention that there is a hot debate going on about whether Blackface is appropriate in other societies (such as Japan) with a different history of race relations.


(Courtesy of The Japan Times)

My opinion is that doing Blackface is almost always a bad thing, due to its historical connotation regardless of context. And I add the caveat of “almost always” while struggling to think of any exception, except for purposes of historical grounding behind the issue. (And it’s not limited to blackface: Debito.org has covered racialized media in Japan, broadcast without input from the minorities affected, many times in the past, including here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)  And the fact that this is happening again despite a similar Blackface incident not two years ago (which ended up with the broadcast being cancelled a priori) is merely willful ignorance on the part of Japan’s media outlets.

But that’s all I’ll say. I think Baye McNeil has a lock on the issue, and I’ll just refer Debito.org Readers to his most recent Japan Times column, at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/01/10/our-lives/time-japan-scrub-off-blackface-good/

Even better is a YouTube panel discussion sponsored by The Japan Times that involves McNeil, Anthropologist Dr. John G. Russell of Gifudai, and YouTuber Aoki Yuta.

Dr. Russell’s comments about Japan’s history with Blackface (there is in fact a history, despite the narrative that Japan is ignorant therefore innocent) are particularly salient. Watch if you want a definitive conclusion to the issue of Blackface in Japan for yourself. Dr. Debito Arudou

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A Top Ten for 2017: Debito’s Japan Times JBC 110: “In 2017, Japan woke up to the issue of discrimination”

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

Hi Blog. As is tradition, here is JBC’s annual countdown of the top 10 human rights events as they affected non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan over the past year, as published in The Japan Times.

ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
In 2017, Japan woke up to the issue of discrimination [NB: I didn’t write the headline.]
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
THE JAPAN TIMES, JAN 3, 2018

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/01/03/issues/2017-japan-woke-issue-discrimination/

(Version with links to sources.)

In ascending order:

10) As Japan’s population falls, NJ residents hit record

Figures released in 2017 indicated that Japan’s society is not just continuing to age and depopulate, but that the trends are accelerating. Annual births fell under 1 million — a record low — while deaths reached a record high. The segment of the population aged 65 or older also accounted for a record 27 percent of the total.

In contrast, after four years (2010-2013) of net outflow, the NJ resident influx set new records. A registered 2.38 million now make up 1.86 percent of Japan’s total population, somewhat offsetting the overall decline.

Alas, that didn’t matter. Japanese media as usual tended to report “Japan’s population” not in terms of people living in Japan, but rather Nihonjin (Japanese citizens), indicating once again that NJ residents simply don’t count.

9) ‘Hair police’ issue attracts attention with lawsuit

Japan’s secondary schools have a degree of uniformity that stifles diversity. And this trend reached its logical conclusion with the news that one school was forcing children with natural hair color that’s anything but black to dye and straighten their locks.

We talked about dyeing a decade ago (“Schools single out foreign roots,” July 17, 2007), noting its adverse effects on children’s physical and mental health. Yet the Asahi Shimbun reported in May that 57 percent of surveyed Tokyo metropolitan high schools still require “proof of real hair color.” In Osaka, it’s more like 80 percent.

Last October a student filed suit against Osaka Prefecture for mental anguish. Kaifukan High School in the city of Habikino had forced her to dye her naturally brown hair every four days, regardless of the rashes and scalp irritation. When even that proved insufficiently black, she was barred from a school festival and deleted from the school register.

The tone-deaf school justified this by saying, “Even a blond-haired foreign exchange student dyed her hair black.” This lawsuit’s outcome will signal whether Japan’s increasingly diverse student population can ever escape this kind of institutionalized harassment. But at least one student is standing up for herself.

8) Five-year limit on contract employment backfires

As reported in the JT by Hifumi Okunuki (“‘Five-year rule’ triggers ‘Tohoku college massacre’ of jobs,” Nov. 27, 2016), Japan’s Labor Contract Law was revised in 2013 to increase worker job security. To put an end to perennial full-time contracted employment, anyone working more than five years on serial fixed-term contracts will now be able to switch to normalized full-time noncontracted (seishain) status if they wish.

However, the law was not retroactive and the clock started ticking on April 1, 2013, so as the five-year deadline approaches this coming April, employers are now terminating contracts en masse: Last April, Tohoku University told 3,200 employees their current contracts would be their last.

But contract law has a special impact on NJ workers, as many endure perpetual contracted status (especially educators in Japan’s university system). The five-year rule has now normalized the practice of periodically “vacationing” and “rehiring” NJ to avoid continuous contracts, while encouraging major companies to finagle NJ employees’ working conditions by offering them “special temp status” (for example, explicitly capping contracts at less than five years).

Hence the bamboo ceiling remains alive and well, except it’s been expanded from just filtering out foreign nationals to affecting anyone.

7) Hate-speech law has concrete effects

Despite concerns about potential infringement of freedom of speech, a hate speech law was enacted in 2016 to, among other things, specifically protect foreign nationals from public defamation. It worked: Kyodo reported last year that xenophobic rallies, once averaging about one a day somewhere in Japan, were down by nearly half. Racialized invective has been softened, and official permission for hate groups to use public venues denied.

Of course, this hate speech law is not legislation with criminal penalties against, for example, racial discrimination. And it still assumes that noncitizens (rather than, for example, members of “visible minorities” who happen to be citizens) need special protection, incurring accusations of favoritism and “reverse discrimination.”

Nevertheless, according to the Mainichi, haters have been chastened. A report quotes one hate rally attendee as saying that before the law change, “I felt like anything I said was protected by the shield of ‘freedom of speech’… I felt safe because I knew the police officers would protect us. It felt like we had the upper hand.”

Not so much anymore.

6) Pension system qualification lowered to 10 years

Last year saw an important amendment to Japan’s state pension (nenkin) rules. Until last August, you had to invest a minimum of 300 months, or 25 years, in the various schemes to qualify for payouts after reaching retirement age.

Japan thus turned workers into “pension prisoners” — if you ever took your career elsewhere, you would get at most a small lump-sum payout from Japan, and possibly zero from your new country of residence for not paying in enough. (It was especially punitive toward Japan’s South American workers, who forfeited pensions when bribed by the government to “return home” during 2009’s economic downturn.)

Although things have improved under bilateral totalization agreements (where pension payments in designated countries get counted toward Japan’s 25-year minimum), this year Japan lowered the bar to the more reasonable 10 years. (More on this at www.debito.org/?p=14704.)

Of course, this does not resolve the fact that Japan will have the highest proportion of pensioners anywhere on Earth. Payouts and minimum retirement ages will be revised accordingly to make the pension worth little. But still, it will not be zero, and payments can be claimed anywhere in the world when you’re ready.

5) Renho resigns, Democratic Party withers

In 2016, in an unprecedented move, a member of an ethnic minority became the leader of a major Japanese political party. Alas, that party was the Democratic Party (formerly the Democratic Party of Japan), which in 2017 crumbled into nothing.

Renho, a Taiwanese-Japanese who served in Cabinets under two DPJ prime ministers, was a popular reformer. (She was re-elected in 2010 with a record number of votes for her district.) However, last year her integrity was questioned when it emerged that she had technically retained dual citizenship by not formally renouncing her Taiwanese nationality. That was rectified in July, but weeks later Renho resigned, ostensibly to “take responsibility” for a poor DP showing in the Tokyo prefectural election. From there, the DP downward-spiraled into virtual oblivion.

Many Japanese politicians have been tainted by scandal merely for associating with foreign types (for example, former DPJ Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara in 2011). Renho, alas, could not escape the stigma of her own putative “foreignness” — a huge setback for Japan’s politically invested ethnic minorities.

4) ‘Trainee’ program expanded, with ‘reforms’

Since 1993, to offset a labor shortage in Japan’s rusting small-firm industries, the government has been providing unskilled labor under an ostensible training program for foreign workers.

However, because “trainees” were not legally “workers” protected by labor laws, the program was rife with abuse: exploitation under sweatshop conditions, restrictions on movement, unsafe workplaces, uncompensated work and work-site injuries, bullying and violence, physical and mental abuse, sexual harassment, death from overwork and suicideeven slavery and murder.

Things have not improved in recent years. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry announced that about 70 percent of some 5,200 companies that accepted trainees in 2015 violated laws, and in 2016 a record 4,004 employers engaged in illegal activities. The program is so rotten that even the United Nations demanded Japan scrap it.

So guess what: In 2014, Prime Minster Shinzo Abe announced it would be expanded. Once restricted to the construction, manufacturing, agricultural and fishery industries, as of November it also includes nursing and caregiving. New opportunities were also proposed in “special economic zones” (so that foreign college graduates with Japanese language skills can pull weeds and till farmland — seriously). Furthermore, visas will be longer-term (up to five years).

To counter the abuses, the government also launched an official watchdog agency in November to do on-site inspections, offer counseling services to workers and penalize miscreant employers. But labor rights groups remain skeptical. The program’s fundamental incentives remain unchanged — not to actually “train” foreign laborers (or even provide Japanese language instruction), but rather to exploit them as cheap unskilled labor.

So expect more of the same. Except that now the program will ingest even more foreign workers for longer. After all, uncompetitive factories will continue to use cheap labor to avoid bankruptcy, construction will expand due to the Olympics, and more elderly Japanese will require caregivers.

3) North Korean missile tests and the fallout

Last year North Korea, the perpetual destabilizer of East Asia, commanded even more worldwide attention than usual (even popularizing the obscure word “dotard” among native English speakers). Flexing its muscles as a probable nuclear power, it test-fired missiles over Japan. The Japanese government responded by calling 2017 “the most severe security environment since the end of World War II” and warned regions of launches via the J-Alert system, while local authorities ran duck-and-cover-style nuclear attack drills.

This is but the most recent episode in a long history of Japan-North Korea reactionary antagonism. However, Japan is particularly wary of the possibility of infiltration. Members of the North Korean diaspora live in Japan (attending ethnic schools with photos of the Kim dynasty on their walls), with established networks for smuggling, money laundering and kidnapping of Japanese.

Essentially, North Korea’s international recklessness and habitual stupidity empower Japan’s warmongers and xenophobes to reinforce Japan’s bunker mentalities. They’ve successfully created domestic policies (such as the new “anti-conspiracy law”) that curtail civil, political and human rights for foreign and Japanese nationals alike — all legitimized based on the fear of North Koreans gaining even an iota of power in Japan.

Thus, North Korea’s antics ruin Japan’s liberal society for everyone. And last year Kim Jong Un upped the ante.

2) Abe glides to fifth electoral victory

In October, PM Abe won his fifth straight election (Lower House 2012, Upper House 2013, Lower House 2014, Upper House 2016, and this time Lower House 2017). No Japanese leader has ever enjoyed such a winning streak. But why?

Abe’s success is partly down to an aging society being predictably more conservative. No political party in the democratic world has held on to power as long as Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party. Voting LDP, particularly in rural Japan, where votes count more than urban ones do, is often generational habit.

It’s also partly due to an opposition in disarray: After the DP stumbled and fell, the newly formed Kibo no To (Party of Hope) (whose policies weren’t all that different from the LDP’s) soured under the leadership of mercurial Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike — who resigned as party head, effectively abandoning her baby, in November.

And, to give due credit, it’s partly because Abe offers reassuring policies that, as usual for the LDP, sloganize stability and preservation of the status quo over concrete results or necessary reforms.

As far as Japan’s NJ residents are concerned, this election offered no good news. No party offered any policy improvements whatsoever for Japan’s international residents. (As noted above, how could they, what with North Korea’s missiles flying overhead?)

But xenophobia in fact had political traction: A prerequisite for DP politicians to defect to Kibo no To was a pledge to oppose suffrage rights for NJ permanent residents — for fear, they openly argued, that NJ would swarm into a voting bloc and take control over regions of Japan!

In sum, 2017’s election was not a rout of the opposition as has been seen before; the ruling coalition even lost a few seats. Moreover, the biggest victors, a new Constitutional Democratic Party streamlined of wishy-washy former DP members, offered a clear voice to the strong opposition among Japanese to changing the Constitution.

That said, JBC believes those changes will probably happen anyway, because despite this year’s scandals (e.g., the Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Gakuen school debacles), five wins at the ballot box have made it clear that voters are just fine with Abe in power, whatever he does.

1) Government human rights survey of foreign residents

In March, the Justice Ministry released the results of a nationwide survey of NJ about the discrimination they face. It offered valuable insights: Nearly 40 percent of respondents looking for a place to live in the past five years had been refused for being foreign (and this did not include multiple rejections); more than a quarter gave up on a place after seeing a “no foreigners” clause.

Twenty-five percent of respondents looking for work said they had been rejected for being foreign, and nearly a fifth said they had received a lower salary for the same reason. Nearly 30 percent said they were targeted by race-based insults. More than 37 percent said they supported a law against “foreigner discrimination” (sic).

There’s lots more (see “Time to act on insights on landmark survey,” JBC, April 26), and even with all the caveats (e.g., excluding Japan’s visible-minority citizens, who tend to be treated as foreigners, and offering no questions about discrimination by officialdom, such as police street ID checks or the manufacturing of fictitious foreign crime waves), it’s an unimpeachable set of official stats that may, despite the xenophobic political climate, result in future antidiscrimination policies.

Bubbling under:

Osaka cuts sister-city ties with San Francisco as “comfort women” wartime sex slavery issue heats up.

Turkish resident Ibrahim Yener wins discrimination lawsuit against Osaka car agency — without using a lawyer.

In an international child custody dispute, Japan’s Supreme Court OKs defying a Hague Convention return order from a U.S. court, enabling future child abductions to Japan regardless of the treaty.

Record numbers of foreign tourists come to Japan and spend.

More NJ deaths in official custody, including those incarcerated at immigration detention centers and a New Zealander who died while strapped to a bed at a psychiatric hospital.

Charles Jenkins, U.S. Army deserter to North Korea and husband of a Japanese woman abducted to the same country, dies in Niigata Prefecture at age 77.

ENDS

=======================================
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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 3, 2018

Hello Newsletter Readers, and Happy New Year. My annual Top Ten Human Rights Events as they affected NJ residents in Japan in 2017 comes out tomorrow in the Japan Times, so please have a look. But before that, here is the latest Newsletter:

Table of Contents:
//////////////////////////////////////

MORE NJ REFUSALS:

1) XY: My experience with a Harajuku shop keeper – “F*ckin Foreigner kill” racist signs and threatened violence
2) Bitcoin purchasing and racial profiling by Quoinex and BITPoint Japan: Hurdles for NJ customers only
3) Debito quoted in South China Morning Post article: “Why is racism so big in Japan?”
4) Working on 2017’s Top 10 Human Rights Events that affected NJ residents of Japan. What do you think should be included?

THE CONTROVERSIES CONTINUE:
5) Mainichi: Ex-hate speech group core member regretful on anniversary of clampdown law. SITYS. Hate speech laws matter.
6) Flawed academic article on Otaru Onsens Case et al.: “Discrimination Against Foreigners in Japan”, in Journal of Law and Policy Transformation
7) Reuters: “Who is Kazuo Ishiguro?” Japan asks, but celebrates Nobel author as its own. Very symptomatic of Japan’s ethnostate.
8 ) The “Franco-American Flophouse” blog entry on “Debito”

TANGENTS:
9) Racism in US World Series against baseball pitcher Yu Darvish: Immediately punished, and turned into learning opportunity
10) October 2017 Lower House Election Briefing: LDP wins big again, routs Japan’s left wing, but some silver linings to be had

… and finally…

11) Japan Times JBC 109: “‘Attach the evidence and wait for your day in court,’ says Turkish plaintiff after Osaka victory”

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By Debito Arudou (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, twitter @arudoudebito)
The Debito.org Newsletter as always is freely forwardable

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MORE NJ REFUSALS:
1) XY: My experience with a Harajuku shop keeper – “F*ckin Foreigner kill” racist signs and threatened violence

XY: Hi Debito, I’m a long-term resident of Japan and I’m writing to you to share and get you to share my encounter yesterday with a racist shopkeeper in Takeshita dori in Harajuku.  It started with racist signs [photos included] and ended with him threatening me with violence.
Excerpt:
===========================
…At that point I decided that there was no way I was going to spend any money in his shop, and anything I bought there would just feel bad so I told him that I no longer wanted the bag. He cursed me out for being cheap and wasting his time (although in fact I was going to buy the bag and already had my money out).

Later after I had finished my other business I decided to get photos of the signs so I could publicize his nastiness, so I went back to the shop and took photos. He yelled at me to stop taking photos and I told him I was only taking photos of the signs and not of his merchandise.

Then he grabbed something and went to hit me with it.

I screamed in shock and ran out of the shop. Totally shaken by this experience I decided to walk down to the large police station around the corner. I wanted to make a report because I felt it needed to be on record. The police refused to take a report and told me I should call 110 next time…

http://www.debito.org/?p=14832

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2) Bitcoin purchasing and racial profiling by Quoinex and BITPoint Japan: Hurdles for NJ customers only

Shiki: Recently I’ve been signing up for Bitcoin and other crypto exchanges in Japan. Most vendors have presented no problem, they follow the law in which they have the obligation to ask for an official ID, just like PayPal does in Japan, for which I have been sending the front of my Personal Number Card (My Number Card), and then they send you a post card to your address to confirm you actually live there. That’s what these exchanges and basically any virtual money company in Japan is required to do by law.

Except for 2 exchanges, Quoinex and BITPoint. I registered with the major Japanese exchanges like bitFlyer and Coincheck among other minor exchanges. With all of them I used my Personal Number Card, and no one told me I had to do something different because of my face. But like these 2 exchanges, more and more companies who like racial profiling are starting to ask for the Residence Card for extra-legal purposes, basically discriminating in the way people are able to open accounts or register to services based on their nationality unless you comply with some extra requirements.

One of the worst examples of this is AU, which is starting to reject foreigners for buying phones in multiple payments, if the expiration of their current status in Japan does not exceed the payment timeframe for their phones, which is usually 2 years. This basically means that if your current stay permit is of 1 year, or your stay is about to expire in less than 2 years, you won’t be able to get a phone at the same price as Japanese people. Let’s remember that the maximum stay period in Japan for most visas is of 5 years, and that you cannot renew your stay until 3 months prior to the expiration date of your current permit, which I would make the case that it excludes most foreigners under a non-permanent residency status.

Just like the My Number law states very clearly that it is illegal for someone who isn’t required by law to ask for your “My Number”, or taking copies of the part of your card which shows the actual number, I think we require a law to stop people who for asking for someone’s Residence Card if they aren’t legally required to do so. In some respects I would argue that the information inside the Residence Card is in many respects just as sensitive as your “My Number”, and asking for it is an invasion of privacy at best.

http://www.debito.org/?p=14820

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3) Debito quoted in South China Morning Post article: “Why is racism so big in Japan?”

SCMP: The hand-written sign in the entrance of a cosmetics shop in Japan might have been shocking to many Chinese, but to some observers its message was all too familiar. The sign, which said Chinese people were not allowed to enter, caused outrage when images of it were posted on Chinese websites last month.

Within 24 hours, the store’s owner Pola Inc ordered the sign to be removed and vowed to suspend operations at the outlet. Pola acknowledged the notice had caused “unpleasant feelings and inconvenience to many people” and said it would deal with the situation “gravely”. In contrast with the anger in China, the incident attracted little coverage in Japan and received only brief mention in the few media outlets that covered it at all.

That seeming lack of interest doesn’t surprise Debito Arudou, a human-rights activist who was born David Schofill in California and became a naturalised Japanese citizen in 2000. Discrimination is a sad fact of life in Japan, according to Arudou, and if anything, it is becoming more frequent – and more blatant…

http://www.debito.org/?p=14824

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4) Working on 2017’s Top 10 Human Rights Events that affected NJ residents of Japan. What do you think should be included?

I’m working on my annual Top 10 Human Rights Events of 2017 that affected NJ residents of Japan. (Here’s the list for 2016.) Do Debito.org Readers have any suggestions about what should make the list?

Remember a) these must be events, not just ongoing issues (although they could be events that punctuate or illustrate the larger issue), b) these events must have occurred in 2017, and c) they must have a distinct effect on NJ residents in Japan.

Based upon that, what do you think mattered last year? Please let us know in the Comments Section below.

http://www.debito.org/?p=14828

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THE CONTROVERSIES CONTINUE:
5) Mainichi: Ex-hate speech group core member regretful on anniversary of clampdown law. SITYS. Hate speech laws matter.

Mainichi: To mark the one year anniversary of the anti-hate speech law coming into effect on June 3, the Mainichi Shimbun interviewed a 38-year-old man who formerly participated actively in anti-Korean and anti-foreigner hate speech demonstrations to the extent of becoming a leading member. He spoke about his experience and the actions that he now deeply regrets. […] When asked about what fueled his extreme behavior, he offered the authorization of the use of roads for demonstrations and the many dispatched police officers that surrounded the events. “Because we had received permission to use the road, I felt like anything I said was protected by the shield of ‘freedom of speech,’” he remembered. “Even if opposition groups surrounded our demonstrations, I felt safe because I knew the police officers would protect us. It felt like we had the upper hand.”

COMMENT: The Mainichi gives us an interesting case study of how one Wajin became a participant in hate speech groups, how he felt empowered due to the fact there was (at the time) no enforceable hate speech law in Japan, and how he eventually became disillusioned with the movement. While completely anecdotal and single-case, if we get enough of these, patterns emerge, and aggregated case studies eventually can become meaningful surveys (as the fieldwork resulting from the Otaru Onsens Case demonstrated, as it morphed into the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments and a doctoral dissertation study). Let us begin the first step of understanding how and why people hate, and hopefully more people will realize why societies should make hate speech legally culpable.

http://www.debito.org/?p=14648

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6) Flawed academic article on Otaru Onsens Case et al.: “Discrimination Against Foreigners in Japan”, in Journal of Law and Policy Transformation

The Otaru Onsens Case, one of the most prominent lawsuits against racial discrimination in Japan’s history, continues to live on both in law and social-science academic journals. The most recent, “Discrimination Against Foreigners in Japan”, came out last July in the “Journal of Law and Policy Transformation”. It cites a lot of online sources (but not the definitive book on the case, “Japanese Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan”).

However, if this paper was from a student in my Research Methods class, I would dock points for a number of things here, not least the lack of peer-reviewed sources cited. It’s essentially taking all the work from Debito.org and rehashing it as a show-and-tell for academic credit, moreover without reading the most recent books and analyses on cases since then; plus it has a number of typos and a rather glib final conclusion that: “[A]s it correctly noted [sic] by Yoshio Sugimoto[,] ‘contemporary Japanese society is caught between the contradictory forces of narrow ethnocentrism and open internalization [sic]’. This proves the fact [sic] that passing laws at all levels of government outlawing discrimination in Japan is just a matter of time.” As written, I don’t logically follow.

(I have the feeling even the article title was readjusted by the gatekeepers to revert the issue back to “foreigner discrimination”, making it once again an issue of nationality, and glossing over the fact that one of the excluded plaintiffs in the Otaru Onsens Case was in fact NOT foreign. Moreover, reading the Abstract below, I note how even the summary must include a disclaimer that the “foreigners” are partially to blame for their being discriminated against “due to differences in language, religion, custom and appearance as well”.)

Anyway, congrats I guess on keeping the issue and the information in circulation, and for getting this into the research canon past the academic gatekeepers who would rather not see discrimination in Japan as racial in nature.

http://www.debito.org/?p=14750

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7) Reuters: “Who is Kazuo Ishiguro?” Japan asks, but celebrates Nobel author as its own. Very symptomatic of Japan’s ethnostate.

Last October, Briton Kazuo Ishiguro, who writes exclusively in English, won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Predictably, Japan’s media boasted that a third Japanese writer (with the caveat that he was Japan-born) had won a Nobel. Well, not really. Imagine, say, Germany claiming as their own all the Nobel-laureate scientists of the Deutsch diaspora living abroad, even those without actual German citizenship, for however many generations?

In Japan, this highly-questionable social science is hardly problematized. As noted below by Reuters, a similar claim was laid to Shuji “Slave” Nakamura, inventor of the LED, who due to his foul treatment by Japan’s scientific and academic communities quite actively disavows his connections to Japan (in fact, he urges them to escape for their own good). Same with Yoichiro Nambu, who got Nobelled as a team in 2008 for Physics, who had been living in the US since the 1960s, was a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, and had even relinquished Japanese citizenship and taken American.

I suspect this is for massaging a rather insecure national pride. Also because it is largely unquestioned under the concept of Japan as an ethnostate, where nationality is directly linked to blood ties. That is to say, anyone who is of Japanese blood can be claimed as a member of the Japanese societal power structure (i.e., a Wajin). And the converse is indeed true: Even people who take Japanese citizenship who lack the requisite Wajin blood are treated as foreign: Just ask Japan’s “naturalized-but-still-foreign” athletes in, say, the sumo wrestling or rugby communities.

It’s a pretty racist state of affairs. One I discuss in depth in acclaimed book “Embedded Racism”(Lexington Books, 2015). And, as I argue in its closing chapter, one that will ultimately lead to the downfall of a senescent Japan.

http://www.debito.org/?p=14769

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

8 ) The “Franco-American Flophouse” blog entry on “Debito”

It’s been a busy autumn for me, so in lieu of saying something more elaborate, I think I’ll just put up this link and let people comment:
https://francoamericanflophouse.wordpress.com/2017/04/03/debito/

The blog, “The Franco-American Flophouse”, is a thoughtful one by Victoria Ferauge, who advertises herself and interests as:
“Born in Seattle, USA. Generation Xer. Lived on 3 continents (North America, Asia and Europe). Country agnostic. Mother of two Frenchlings. Cancer survivor (so far). Passionate about culture, language, international migration, citizenship law.”
I recommend a browse around.

http://www.debito.org/?p=14557

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

TANGENTS:
9) Racism in US World Series against baseball pitcher Yu Darvish: Immediately punished, and turned into learning opportunity

BleacherReport: Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel has reportedly been suspended for the first five games of next season after making a racist gesture aimed at Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish in Game 3 of the World Series… Gurriel homered off Darvish in the second inning of Houston’s 5-3 win on Friday. After returning to the dugout, television cameras showed Gurriel pulling down on the corners of his eyes. He apologized for the incident following the game.

WaPo: …Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Yuli Gurriel of the Houston Astros without pay for five games at the beginning of next season for making a racially insensitive gesture and yelling an anti-Asian insult at Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish during Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night. It is not expected that the players’ union will contest the discipline.

Gurriel’s immediate expression of remorse after the game, as well as a full apology and a desire to meet Darvish personally to apologize, may have helped the Astros first baseman avoid being suspended during this World Series.

Just as pertinent, Darvish, after saying that Gurriel’s acts were “disrespectful” to Asians around the world, wrote in a tweet that, “I believe we should put our effort into learning rather than to accuse him. . . . Let’s stay positive and move forward instead of focusing on anger. I’m counting on everyone’s big love.”

COMMENT: I rather like the attitudes taken by officialdom (immediate response to tamp down on racist expressions) and by the target (anger but optimism that this will be a lesson learned). I’m just a bit worried that the typical reaction in the Japanese press will be, “Well, discrimination happened to one of ours! Disgraceful! You see? Our racism towards others is just what everyone does worldwide. So there’s little need to address it here.” I doubt it will be seen as a “teaching moment”, beyond saying that racism happens in other countries to us Japanese, not in Japan. That’s the standard narrative reinforced in standardized education in Japan, and that’s why when you see it happen in Japan, it’s less likely to have constructive outcomes like these. Now that is a wasted opportunity. Well done, US MLB and all parties to this incident.

http://www.debito.org/?p=14789

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10) October 2017 Lower House Election Briefing: LDP wins big again, routs Japan’s left wing, but some silver linings to be had

As is tradition on Debito.org (see previous writings here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), after a Japanese election we analyze the results:

WINNERS AND LOSERS:
The LDP won big, retaining its absolute 2/3 majority beyond 310 seats in the assembly. But it wasn’t an unqualified win. It retained exactly the same number as last time. However, KMT lost five seats from the 34 it had pre-election.

However, the protest vote by people who wanted a party to keep Japan’s Constitution as it is (the CDP), won bigger, going from 15 seats from its DPJ/DP politicians to a full 55. Message: The DPJ is dead, long live its spirit in the CDP.

The losers were just about everyone else. Koike’s Hope Party dropped from 57 to 50 seats, the far-right Japan Restoration Party (Nihon Ishin no Kai) from 14 to 11, the far-left Communist Party from 21 to 12, and the tiny socialist Social Democratic Party (Shamintou) holding steady at two seats.

The biggest losers were the party-unaffiliated politicians (mushozoku) on both sides. The ones leaning left went from 27 seats to 21, while the ones leaning right went from eleven to one! Part of this is that due to the Proportional Representation vote (which only applies to official parties), these independents had to win in single-seat constituencies. But the bigger reason seems to be that brand recognition these days sells well: Either you stampeded with the herd under the LDP’s umbrella, or you went for a party flavor du jour (which quickly soured under Koike’s Hope, but clearly flowered under the CDP).

More past writings and analysis follow:

http://www.debito.org/?p=14780

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

… and finally…

11) Japan Times JBC 109: “‘Attach the evidence and wait for your day in court,’ says Turkish plaintiff after Osaka victory”

JBC: On Aug. 25, the Osaka District Court handed down a landmark ruling in a discrimination lawsuit.

Ibrahim Yener, a Turkish national and 14-year resident of Japan, was refused service last October by an Osaka used car dealer, which stated in an email (text at www.debito.org/?p=14743) that they would not serve foreign customers. The car company also stipulated that even if the customer legally holds Japanese citizenship, they would only sell to people who could “hold their own (sonshoku ga nai) against native speakers” in terms of Japanese language ability (as determined solely by the car company).

Yener felt this was discriminatory, filed suit and won. The presiding judge said that it “was based on prejudice that a foreigner would cause trouble and does not justify the discriminatory treatment.” But what made this case particularly noteworthy is that Yener navigated Japan’s legal system all by himself — without a lawyer.

Thus this case offers potential lessons for other non-Japanese or international Japanese who face similar discrimination. JBC contacted Yener last week to find out more about the thinking behind bringing the case…

http://www.debito.org/?p=14773

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That’s all for the first Debito.org Newsletter of 2018. Thanks for reading, and may there be more human rights advances in the coming year! We’ll keep you posted!
Debito Arudou Ph.D.
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 3, 2018 ENDS

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