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

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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

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…

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

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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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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:

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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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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog 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.

justbecauseicon.jpg

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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