My Japan Times JBC 118: “Remain calm when stopped by the police”, on what to do if stopped by Japanese police for an Instant ID Checkpoint, Jan 20, 2020

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Hi Blog.  I’ve written about this many times before, but the JT commissioned me to write up this quick sidebar to a separate article about Japan police racial profiling on a NJ student of color (who has been cited on Debito.org before).

I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no failsafe method that will work in all situations, given the enormous power of policing agencies in Japan.  However, submitting to unlawful and racialized enforcement of the law is not something Debito.org can abide.  So here goes.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
Remain calm when stopped by the police in Japan
BY DEBITO ARUDOU, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, JAN 20, 2020
Courtesy https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2020/01/20/issues/remain-calm-when-stopped-police-japan/
justbecauseicon.jpg

Visible minorities in Japan are in a tough spot in a country where the police have a lot of arbitrary power and few enforceable checks (as we’ve been witnessing recently with the Carlos Ghosn case). As a result, we are facing two decades of police-promoted narratives of “the foreigner” as a visa overstayer and criminal.

What follows is my advice on what to do if you face a sudden ID check on the street — that is, assuming you don’t want to simply surrender your zairyū kādo (residence card) and eventually get on with your day. This is just a brief outline, you can find more details online at debito.org/whattodoif.html.

  1. Ask why you are being stopped: Ask if this is a “shokumu shitsumon” (police questioning of personal details). If yes, the law requires probable cause that a crime has been or is about to be committed, and the display of POLICE ID upon your request. If it is not, ask if you may leave.
  2. Ask to see their ID: “Sumimasen. Keisatsu techō o misete kudasai” will do. Write it down and/or take a picture of it. This will no doubt agitate, but without this record there is no personal accountability.
  3. Use your phone (or ask a friend) to start recording: You do not need consent and, even if done surreptitiously, a recording is admissible in court. They will tell you to put the phone away, but at least leave the audio on. No recording may result in a “he-said, she-said” outcome and nobody is likely to believe your side. It may also preemptively temper the cops’ behavior somewhat, but there’s no guarantee it won’t go the other way.
  4. Ask if compliance is optional (nin’i desu ka): If they ask to go through your backpack, pockets and wallet, you have the option to refuse the search without a warrant (reijō). Try: “Reijō ga nakereba, kekkō desu.” (“Without a warrant, no thank you.”)
  5. Above all, remain calm and polite, and never raise your voice: That can be difficult when surrounded by a phalanx of suspicious cops. But, as in other societies, the threshold of “resisting arrest” in Japan is arbitrary, and a judge will take the police officer’s word over yours in custody.

Arm yourself with the requisite vocabulary. Demonstrating some fluency with your statutory rights will also act as a natural check on abuses. Cops around the world take advantage of the ignorance of their targets, so if you come off as informed and confident, things might go smoother.

There’s no surefire means of getting out of an ID check (except perhaps getting your own personal chief of police to vouch for you except perhaps getting your own personal chief of police to vouch for you), but doing a few of these things might help you feel less powerless afterward. Good luck.

ENDS

======================
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SNA Visible Minorities Col 6: “Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move”, Jan 20, 2020 (UPDATED with full text)

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Hi Blog.  Here’s my latest column from the Shingetsu News Agency.  Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities: Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move

http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/01/20/visible-minorities-carlos-ghosns-escape-from-japan-was-the-right-move/

SNA (Tokyo) — I have to admit more than a twinge of sympathy for Carlos Ghosn’s Great Escape.

Ghosn, the former CEO of Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault, was arrested in November 2018 on the initial suspicion of falsifying his compensation levels, and subjected to more than a year of Japan’s “hostage justice.” That is, he was held hostage to a judicial system that detains you until you confess to a crime, and subjects you to days, weeks, months, or conceivably even years of interrogation and tortuous conditions until you crack. Understandably, most do crack, and Japan’s conviction rate after indictment is famously more than 99%.

But as you have probably heard, at the end of December Ghosn suddenly turned up in Lebanon, one of three places he has citizenship. Out on bail in Japan, he made a daring escape that people are still trying to piece together, including man-sized musical instrument cases, an uncharacteristic lack of Japanese border security, and a mysterious visit to Lebanon’s president by Japan’s state minister for foreign affairs mere days before Ghosn jumped bail.

Ghosn is now making good on his threat to expose everything that happened to him while in custody. His multilingual press conference in Beirut two weeks ago was breathtaking to watch, full of documentation, pointed fingers, and hot-tongued accusations of the human rights denied to Japan’s incarcerated.

This has been covered exhaustively worldwide, so what more is there to say? My perspective comes as a person who also tried to change Japanese rules and practices, and found that The System similarly fought back dirty.

I’m talking about the Otaru Hot Springs Case.  In 1999, some friends and I challenged Japan’s lack of a law against racial discrimination, as manifest in signs up on businesses nationwide saying “Japanese Only.” Places with these “no foreigners allowed” rules included public bathhouses, restaurants, shops, bars, public facilities, and even hotels, schools, hospitals, realtors, and other public services essential to life in Japan.  People were (and still are) arbitrarily being refused service because they “look foreign” to proprietors, and that includes allegedly “foreign-looking” Japanese citizens.

We first took several exclusionary cases to the court of public opinion, where we had some initial victories (signs coming down and the rules changed).  But soon Japanese media began putting up resistance (similar to what Ghosn noted in his press conference) to reasoned, informed, and factual public debate.

It’s all described in detail in my book “Japanese Only” (ebook available for a buck on Amazon), but some of the media strategies we faced were similar, including:

  1. Media quoting the proponents of the exclusionary status quo at length, less so the arguments of the critics;
  2. Media portraying the proponents as somehow pitiable, as “keepers of the faith” in “traditional Japan.”  Exclusions by physical appearance were soon construed as essentially normal, regular, or even necessary practices that keep Japanese in business;
  3. Media portraying the critics as “Japan bashers,” “Japan haters”, and generally “anti-Japan.”  Moreover, since foreigners were involved in the issue:
  4. Media portraying the issue of as a matter of “cultural misunderstandings by foreigners who don’t understand Japan” and “outsiders and guests disrespectfully telling poor old Japan what to do.”

After that, public debate almost completely elided the issue of racism.  The consequences were that issues of fair and equal treatment under the law were mooted, which affected the judicial outcome when we eventually took this case to court.

This enabling of exclusionism also empowered the militant “netto-uyo” (internet right-wing trolls) to inject anger, fear and loathing into the debate.  Then came the hate mail and death threats (which I still get to this day) to our homes, neighborhoods and workplaces.  With this came the hairy eyeballs from our neighbors and colleagues, meaning it was now somehow our fault for causing all this trouble.  Thus by standing up for our rights, we had brought all this upon ourselves.

Point is, I think Ghosn and I would have a lot to talk about.

Granted, there are caveats to this comparison.  Ghosn’s is a criminal case and ours was civil.  We were not arrested, fired from our jobs (luckily), or put in jail for months.

But I really get Ghosn.  I understand why he decided to do a runner.  It wasn’t just because he was denied access to his wife for months as a means to break him down psychologically.  It wasn’t just because prosecutors have decisive power over the evidence (even exculpatory evidence) submitted to court.  It wasn’t just because they decided to have separate trials for each charge, and the first trial would probably begin in 2021 and then take years.  And it wasn’t just because there is a separate and unequal jurisprudential track for foreigners than for Japanese (as detailed in my book “Embedded Racism”, Chapter 6).

It was that given this level of legalized bullying over the accused in Japan, Ghosn knew he wouldn’t get a fair trial with the presumption of innocence—neither in the courtroom nor in the court of public opinion.  And he was exactly right.

Even Japan’s Justice Minister demanded Ghosn return and “prove his innocence.”  That was not a gaffe.  That’s exactly the system in Japan.  And he would never be able to prove it when the courts and media follow the same presumption:  you got arrested, so you must have done something wrong to bring The System down upon yourself.  You’ll never get a fair hearing because your side will not be heard.  Not within Japan, anyway.  Especially as a foreigner.

I am aware that Ghosn’s skipping bail like this means foreigners will probably never be granted bail again.  (Then again, almost no foreigners are anyway.)   I am also aware that becoming a fugitive from justice just makes you look guiltier.  Moreover, the fact that Ghosn could actually escape is testament to his level of privilege, unlike the multitudes of suspects, foreign and Japanese, caught in the wringer without the wherewithal and connections to flee.

But there is no other way but Ghosn for Japan’s judicial excesses to finally be brought to light in the international arena.  I care less about one rich man’s escaping justice for possible white-collar crimes than about all the innocent people taken hostage by Japan’s unfettered police and sadistic prosecutors, who are less interested in finding the truth than in losing face by losing a case.

For too long now, Japan has gotten a free pass for its human rights abuses and torture of suspects.  Ghosn is in the best position possible to blow the lid off this system and bring international pressure for reforms.

Ghosn can clear his name for his personal benefit if he likes.  But as long as he winds up improving conditions for others incarcerated in Japan, I say support him in this quest.  Let’s see if he can reform Japan’s vicious criminal justice system when we couldn’t reform Japan’s racist social justice system.

ENDS

======================
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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 20, 2020

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 20, 2020

Hello Debito.org Newsletter Readers, and Happy New Year!

Today marks a first for me: the first time two articles of mine have come out on the same day. First, an excerpt of an opinion piece on Carlo Ghosn’s Great Escape on SNA, then a sidebar in the Japan Times on what to do if you’re stopped by the Japanese police for one of their Instant ID Checkpoints. This on the heels of my annual Japan Times Top Ten Human Rights Issues as they affected NJ residents of Japan, which came out on January 6, 2020.

So instead of previewing my latest article before getting to the Table of Comments, let me fold them right into the Newsletter:

Table of Contents:
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1) My SNA Visible Minorities Col 6: “Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move”, Jan 20, 2020
2) Debito.org’s stance on the Carlos Ghosn Case, at last: A boardroom coup making “thin legal soup” that might shame Japan’s “hostage justice” judicial system into reform (updated for the Great Escape)
3) Finance Minister Aso apologizes if ‘single-race nation’ remark (essentially denying Japan’s officially-recognized multiethnic society) was “misunderstood”
4) My SNA Visible Minorities column 5: “Local Governments Classifying Japanese Citizens as Foreigners”, Dec. 16, 2019
5) “Every Foreign Guest must present passport for photocopying” at Hotel Crown Hills Kokura; Japanese Police up to same old unlawful tricks in Fukuoka Prefecture

… and finally…

6) My Japan Times JBC column 117: The annual Top Ten for 2019 of human rights issues as they affected NJ residents in Japan
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By Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito)
Debito.org Newsletters as always are freely forward able

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1) My SNA Visible Minorities Col 6: “Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move”, Jan 20, 2020

I have to admit more than a twinge of sympathy for Carlos Ghosn’s Great Escape.

Ghosn, the former CEO of Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault, was arrested in November 2018 on the initial suspicion of falsifying his compensation levels, and subjected to more than a year of Japan’s “hostage justice.” That is, he was held hostage to a judicial system that detains you until you confess to a crime, and subjects you to days, weeks, months, or conceivably even years of interrogation and tortuous conditions until you crack. Understandably, most do crack, and Japan’s conviction rate after indictment is famously more than 99%.

But as you have probably heard, at the end of December Ghosn suddenly turned up in Lebanon, one of three places he has citizenship. Out on bail in Japan, he made a daring escape that people are still trying to piece together, including man-sized musical instrument cases, an uncharacteristic lack of Japanese border security, and a mysterious visit to Lebanon’s president by Japan’s state minister for foreign affairs mere days before Ghosn jumped bail.

Ghosn is now making good on his threat to expose everything that happened to him while in custody. His multilingual press conference in Beirut two weeks ago was breathtaking to watch, full of documentation, pointed fingers, and hot-tongued accusations of the human rights denied to Japan’s incarcerated.

This has been covered exhaustively worldwide, so what more is there to say? My perspective comes as a person who also tried to change Japanese rules and practices, and found that The System similarly fought back dirty…

Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/01/20/visible-minorities-carlos-ghosns-escape-from-japan-was-the-right-move/

Anchor site for comments at http://www.debito.org/?p=15907

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2) Debito.org’s stance on the Carlos Ghosn Case, at last: A boardroom coup making “thin legal soup” that might shame Japan’s “hostage justice” judicial system into reform (updated for the Great Escape)

Ed’s note Dec 31, 2019: Updating this post from Feb 2019 because of Carlos Ghosn’s reemergence in Beirut, having somehow escaped from the clutches of the Japanese judiciary. The best article I’ve found on this event is on the daily beast here. Debito.org has come down decisively in favor of Ghosn’s escape, as Ch 6 of book “Embedded Racism” depicts Japan’s judiciary as decidedly against justice for NJ caught in their “hostage justice” system. Fact is, Ghosn never stood a chance of a fair trial, especially in light of allegations that have surfaced later that indicate Nissan’s own (Japanese) CEO is just as guilty of similar “criminal behavior” that did not result in arrests. Read on for the reason why Debito.org believes the Ghosn case was a flimsy one from the start:

http://www.debito.org/?p=15548

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3) Finance Minister Aso apologizes if ‘single-race nation’ remark (essentially denying Japan’s officially-recognized multiethnic society) was “misunderstood”

Asahi: After more than a century of forced assimilation and discrimination, the Ainu people were finally recognized as indigenous under legislation enacted in May 2019. But [Finance Minister Taro Aso] apparently forgot about that legislation when he gave a speech at a Jan. 13 meeting with his supporters in his electoral turf of Nogata, Fukuoka Prefecture. “There is no other nation but (Japan) where a single race has spoken a single language at a single location and maintained a single dynasty with a single emperor for over 2,000 years,” said Aso, who is also deputy prime minister. “It is a great nation.” “If my remarks caused a misunderstanding, I apologize and will correct them” Aso said after a Cabinet meeting in Tokyo. [On Jan. 14 he] sort of apologized: “I have no intention of denying the government’s policy.”

COMMENT: Now, watching an LDP dinosaur making statements like this (who keeps getting re-elected) is frustrating as hell. However, a) it’s refreshing that he “sort of apologized” (we’ve had plenty of these fossilized statements in the past not even getting that much, or even being doubled-down upon by bonafide bigots who nevertheless get re-elected); and b) we have official policy enacted last year (as noted in my annual JT Top Ten Human Rights List for 2019) that has declared the Ainu an indigenous people, meaning Japan is officially multiethnic. Even Asole himself wasn’t going to (officially) contradict that. Good news, sort of.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15900

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4) My SNA Visible Minorities Col 5: “Local Governments Classifying Japanese Citizens as Foreigners”, Dec. 16, 2019

SNA (Tokyo) — According to the Japanese government, our resident Non-Japanese (NJ) population reached yet another new record, at 2.8 million last June. Last April, Japan started offering new visa regimes to greatly expand the NJ labor force, in response to Japan’s aging society and shrinking population. This, plus steady numbers of permanent residents, international marriages, and naturalizing citizens, are expanding our multicultural and multiethnic communities.

In response, local governments have been trying to accommodate the diversity through new concepts and policies. It started in earnest as far back as 2001 with the Hamamatsu Declaration, where multiple cities and towns near Shizuoka Prefecture called upon the national government to assist them in providing their NJ residents with education, welfare benefits, and streamlined administration. Since then, local governments have generally made positive proposals in good faith.

But sometimes they get it wrong. Last month, Debito.org reported how the city of Nagoya uses a very problematic term in their documents: Gaikokujin Shimin. The closest translation would be a “foreigner city resident/citizen” (as opposed to, er, a gaikokujin kokumin, the contradictory “foreigner Japanese citizen”?). But the point is that people covered by this term officially belong in the city as dwellers and participants.

The concept sounds inclusive until you see how it’s officially being defined. According to one of Nagoya city’s “General Plans,” dated August 2018, a Gaikokujin Shimin is, as I translate it from the text: “In addition to people with foreign nationalities with an address within Nagoya city, people like those who obtained Japanese citizenship, children born from international marriages, people with foreign cultures in their backgrounds, and people who have foreign roots.” (Original Japanese: 名古屋市内に住所を有する外国籍の人のほか、日本国籍を取得した人や国際結婚によって生まれた子どもなど外国の文化を背景に持つ人など、外国にルーツを持つ人。) Let’s mull that over:

Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/12/16/visible-minorities-local-governments-classifying-japanese-citizens-as-foreigners/

Comments at http://www.debito.org/?p=15883

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5) “Every Foreign Guest must present passport for photocopying” at Hotel Crown Hills Kokura; Japanese Police up to same old unlawful tricks in Fukuoka Prefecture

Submitter MR: I made a reservation for a buddy on Japanese-language Rakuten Travel (楽天トラベル) website at the Hotel Crown Hills Kokura. At check in tonight (12/9/19) at around 7:45PM, the Front Desk asked for his passport to photocopy. He is a Permanent Resident (永住者), so I intervened and told them so. They then immediately withdrew the request for the passport, but still asked for and checked his Gaijin Card (在留カード).

COMMENT: The hotel displayed yet another multilingual sign (Japanese, English, Korean, Chinese, and Arabic) produced by the Japanese Police that ignores the law and encourages racial profiling. This one not only lists the approval of the Fukuoka Prefectural Police (and erroneously cites the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare), but also all Fukuoka Prefectural Public Health Departments (Fukuoka Kennai Kaku Hokenjo). Even though we’ve already had at least one Hokenjo (in Mito) correct the overzealous local police before on the letter of the law, which is:

If you have an address in Japan, you do not have to show any ID at a hotel check in. Just write that address in the hotel guest book. That goes for Japanese and NJ residents of Japan. The law on hotel (and minpaku) ID checks only applies to foreign tourists without an address in Japan. So demand it be it enforced.

Meanwhile, if you want to do what Debito.org Reader Onur did some months ago, contact the local Hokenjo and get the law corrected. Clearly the Japanese police are not going to police themselves. Or if you want to do something to stop this happening to you, download a file substantiating that you don’t have to show any ID as a resident of Japan here: http://www.debito.org/newhotelpassportlaw.jpg

http://www.debito.org/?p=15863

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… and finally…

6) My Japan Times JBC column 117: The annual Top Ten for 2019 of human rights issues as they affected NJ residents in Japan, Jan 6, 2020

For over a decade, Just Be Cause has recapped the previous year’s biggest human rights and human rights-related issues that have affected the non-Japanese community in Japan.

With the start of a new decade upon us, I thought it would be appropriate to mix a little of what was going on in 2019 and connect it to the broader topics that came up during the 2010s. Some are victories, some are losses — some are dangerous losses — but all of the entries below (in ascending order) are at the very least highly relevant to all of us.

Bubbling under:
• The Ainu Recognition Law passes last February, meaning Japan is officially multiethnic.
• Donald Keene, scholar who opened Japanese literature to the world but senselessly portrayed fellow NJ residents as criminals and cowards, dies aged 96.
• Sadako Ogata, UN superstar for refugees who did surprisingly little for refugees in Japan, dies aged 92.
• Yasuhiro Nakasone, assertive former Prime Minister with a history of claiming Japan’s superior intelligence due to a lack of ethnic minorities, and of operating wartime “comfort women” stations, dies aged 101.
• Shinzo Abe becomes Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister.

10) Otaru Onsens Case, 20 years on
9) Diversity in Japanese sports
8) Japan’s students challenge draconian rules (hair and underwear policing, etc)

See if your favorite issue made the Top Ten (yes, Ghosn did, again). Read the rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2020/01/06/issues/japan-international-community-2019/

Comments at http://www.debito.org/?p=15894

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That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!
Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 20, 2020 ENDS

======================
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Finance Minister Aso apologizes if ‘single-race nation’ remark (essentially denying Japan’s officially-recognized multiethnic society) was “misunderstood”

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Books, eBooks, and more from Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (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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All donations go towards website costs only. Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog.  To kick off the new year, here’s a bit of typical “We Japanese are Unique” narrative maintenance — that for once isn’t going unchallenged.  Because this year, there’s an official leg for protests to stand on.  Read on:

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

Aso apologizes if ‘single-race nation’ remark misunderstood
Asahi Shimbun, By MASAHIRO KAKIHANA/ Staff Writer
January 14, 2020, Courtesy of lots of people
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ202001140019.html

Finance Minister Taro Aso on Jan. 14 sort of apologized for saying Japan has been a single-race nation for more than two millennia, a remark that ignored the existence of the Ainu people and other ethnic groups.

His remark also conflicted with the government’s policy, approved by the Cabinet in September, to make efforts to support the Ainu people and eradicate discrimination against them.

“If my remarks caused a misunderstanding, I apologize and will correct them” Aso said after a Cabinet meeting in Tokyo. “I have no intention of denying the government’s policy.”

After more than a century of forced assimilation and discrimination, the Ainu people were finally recognized as indigenous under legislation enacted in May 2019.

But Aso apparently forgot about that legislation when he gave a speech at a Jan. 13 meeting with his supporters in his electoral turf of Nogata, Fukuoka Prefecture.

“There is no other nation but (Japan) where a single race has spoken a single language at a single location and maintained a single dynasty with a single emperor for over 2,000 years,” said Aso, who is also deputy prime minister. “It is a great nation.”

Aso also brought up the Japanese team’s impressive performance at the Rugby World Cup last year, saying, “As it turned out, Japan became ‘one team’ by mixing various nations.”

He made the same “single-race nation” remarks at another meeting held in Iizuka, Fukuoka Prefecture, on the same day.

In 2005, Aso, who was then minister of public management, home affairs, posts and telecommunications, made very similar statements, which drew protests from the Hokkaido Utari Association, now the Ainu Association of Hokkaido.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Jan. 14 said of Aso’s latest remarks: “I heard that (he) has no intention of denying the government’s policy concerning the Ainu people.”
ENDS

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COMMENT:  Now, watching an LDP dinosaur making statements like this (who keeps getting re-elected) is frustrating as hell.  However, a) it’s refreshing that he “sort of apologized” (we’ve had plenty of these fossilized statements in the past not even getting that much, or even being doubled-down upon by bonafide bigots who nevertheless get re-elected); and b) we have official policy enacted last year (as noted in my annual JT Top Ten Human Rights List for 2019) that has declared the Ainu an indigenous people, meaning that Japan is now officially a multiethnic country.  Even Asole himself wasn’t going to (officially) contradict that.

Again, it’s a bit too much to expect an electorate like Japan’s (one that generally only backs winners, as can be seen in six decades of rule by the same corrupt and morally-bankrupt political party) to vote out somebody on a controversy that few care about. (After all, sadly, how many in Fukuoka give a toss about long-vanquished aborigines in faraway Hokkaido?  Not enough to reach a critical voting mass in 2005.)

What we can do to “bright-side” this event is to note that the unproblematized “monoethnic-pure-race” narrative was indeed challenged.  In public and in the media.  Successfully enough to get a sort-of public backpedaling.  Which was one of the reasons for establishing that official recognition in the first place.  Good news, sort of.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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My Japan Times JBC column 117: The annual Top Ten for 2019 of human rights issues as they affected NJ residents in Japan, Jan 6, 2020

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Hi Blog and Happy New Year. Here’s my Annual Top Ten for The Japan Times.  Thanks for putting this column in the Japan Times Top Five for several days running!

Let’s start with some Bubbling Unders/Notable Obits with didn’t make the cut for space concerns, and excerpt the rest. Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
‘Low IQ’ kids, parental rights and problematic terminology dogged Japan’s international community in 2019
BY DEBITO ARUDOU, Column 117 for the Japan Times Community Page, January 6, 2020
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2020/01/06/issues/japan-international-community-2019/

For over a decade, Just Be Cause has recapped the previous year’s biggest human rights and human rights-related issues that have affected the non-Japanese community in Japan.

With the start of a new decade upon us, I thought it would be appropriate to mix a little of what was going on in 2019 and connect it to the broader topics that came up during the 2010s. Some are victories, some are losses — some are dangerous losses — but all of the entries below (in ascending order) are at the very least highly relevant to all of us.

Bubbling under:
The Ainu Recognition Law passes last February, meaning Japan is officially multiethnic.
Donald Keene, scholar who opened Japanese literature to the world but senselessly portrayed fellow NJ residents as criminals and cowards, dies aged 96.
Sadako Ogata, UN superstar for refugees who did surprisingly little for refugees in Japan, dies aged 92.
Yasuhiro Nakasone, assertive former Prime Minister with a history of claiming Japan’s superior intelligence due to a lack of ethnic minorities, and of operating wartime “comfort women” stations, dies aged 101.
Shinzo Abe becomes Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister.

10) Otaru onsen, 20 years on

In September 1999, several international couples (including myself) tried to take a public bath at an onsen (hot-spring bath) in Otaru, Hokkaido, but were met with a “Japanese Only” sign rather than friendly customer service. The people who looked insufficiently “Japanese” (including myself and one of my daughters) were refused entry, while those who did (including a Chinese foreign resident) were allowed in.

The same onsen refused me entry again even after I became a Japanese citizen, and a group of us took them to court. The case, which went all the way to Japan’s Supreme Court, found the onsen guilty of “discriminating too much,” while the city of Otaru — which was also sued for not enforcing the United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination that Japan had ratified in 1996 — was found not liable.

Twenty years later, “Japanese Only” signs are still posted in places and Japan is still not living up to its international treaty commitments, with no national law protecting non-Japanese communities from racial discrimination.

9) Diversity in sports…

See if your favorite issue made the Top Ten (yes, Ghosn did, again).  Read the rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2020/01/06/issues/japan-international-community-2019/

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