APJ-Japan Focus’s Jeff Kingston on PM Abe and postponement of 2020 Tokyo Olympics; plus the inhumanity of the Japanese Govt

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I hope all Debito.org Readers and their loved ones are safe and well during this time of pandemic.

It’s time to talk about the politics of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and how Prime Minister Abe has put Japan at risk for the sake of a sports meet.

Dr. Jeff Kingston of Temple University Japan has posted a salient article today about the politicking between Abe’s minions and and the International Olympic Committee, and how Abe may exploit any crisis he exacerbated for his own political benefit.  It’s very much worth a read:

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Kingston Abstract: Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has been widely criticized for ineptitude in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Keen to host the Olympics in 2020, he put public health at risk. Strong international criticism finally forced the IOC and Abe to accept the inevitable and defer the Olympics until 2021. Now both parties are now trying to claim credit for making this decision. The Japanese policy of limiting testing kept policymakers and citizens in the dark and handicapped responses to the outbreak. As the number of infections surges, the government is playing catch up. The combination of an accelerating COVID-19 outbreak in Japan and imminent global economic recession will hit Japan hard and could lead to Abe’s ouster. For now, there are growing concerns that he may exploit this crisis to advance his political agenda of constitutional revision.

Read the whole article at:

https://apjjf.org/2020/7/Kingston.html

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COMMENT:  It bears articulating here that Japan (despite a number of premature “rosy” reports bordering on the typical “Japan is unique, special, and immune to world trends“) is now probably going to see its infected cases ramp up and people die.  For much the same reason that Trump initially called the pandemic a “hoax” (buying some time for him and his buddies to sell off their stock before the market crashed), Abe forewent systemic and widespread infection testing to make sure case numbers stayed low (even excluding the infected Diamond Princess cruise ship passengers, who were largely Japanese, from the national tally).  All because the people who have money would rather risk the lives of the elderly and immunocompromised (as happened in the 1980s with Japan’s Health Ministry and HIV-tainted blood) than let any economic impacts of postponing an Olympics reduce their political power or their already-stuffed wallets.

If the rich and powerful are so concerned about the economic well-being of the people who actually man and power national economies, they should re-seed much of their money back into subsidizing the incomes of people who can’t work during lockdown (while governments should pass national policies to temporarily suspend rents, mortgages, and rents on commercial properties).  So that people can all get through this crisis faster by hunkering down in place.  Not make things worse by being forced to work, contaminating each other in clusters, getting sick all at once and dying of insufficient care after overloading hospitals.  Tycoons could also drop a few hundred million on scientific research facilities and production of various PPEs to keep our health-care professions functional on the front lines.  (I’m sure they can get along just fine with their remaining few hundred millions.)

The short-sightedness and greed of people richer than God who won’t subsidize consumers and taxpayers (who have long subsidized THEIR lives) is astonishing.  Especially since a dead consumer/taxpayer and their remaining resentful kith and kin is of no use to them either.  This should be pointed out at every opportunity.

Instead (and this where the Debito.org subject matter comes in), we have Japanese media trying to blame foreigners again.  We’ve already seen the regular knee-jerk reaction (seen in health scares ere: e.g., “NJ have AIDS” (1986), “NJ have SARS” (2003)) of treating it as a “Chinese virus” (singling out Yokohama’s Chinatown).  Or even just portraying it as a general “foreign virus” and shutting out all “foreign” customers (including NJ residents who haven’t been abroad, but not Wajin who have).  But since we can’t blame foreign tourists anymore (world tourism has screeched to a halt), we’re now seeing regular media portraying it as a “returnee” virus (where Japanese returning from infected gaikoku are stigmatized).

Anything but blame the government for their political decision not embarrass or disrupt by testing widely and bringing on the lockdown. People will die for this.  Again, all for the sake of a sports meet.  Read Kingston above for more.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

======================
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Japan’s reaction to coronavirus: Bigots excluding NJ residents from restaurants. Saitama Korean schools denied protective mask distribution because they might “sell off” the masks.

mytest

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Hi Blog. As was expected (since this sort of thing is happening worldwide), the bigots unfettered by any laws against racial discrimination in Japan are doing what they do best — bigotry. While I’m aware that in a time of pandemic it’s nice to have more uplifting articles, this blog has been designed to catalog life and human rights issues in Japan. Let’s keep at it, showing how racists are portraying Covid-19 as a “foreign” virus, and making sure that foreigners don’t get the same public service or protections against it:

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Local government in Japan excludes Chosen Gakko from public mask distribution
By Cho Ki-weon, Tokyo correspondent, Hankyoreh (Korean Independent Newspaper)
Posted on Mar. 12, 2020
http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/932345.html

PHOTO: Korean-Japanese and Japanese citizens protest the Japanese government’s decision to exclude Chosen Gakko schools from its complimentary children’s education policy in November 2019. (Hankyoreh archives)

A decision by a local government in Japan not to include Chosen Gakko (Korean school) kindergartners in its distribution of masks for novel coronavirus prevention has sparked protests from affected communities.

According to a Mar. 11 report in the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) newspaper Choson Sinbo, the city of Saitama in Saitama Prefecture excluded Saitama Korean Kindergarten and private academies from its plans to distribute 240,000 of the city’s stockpile of masks to employees working in daycare centers, kindergarten, after-school academies, and senior citizen facilities in Saitama. Upon learning of this, the principal of Saitama Korean Kindergarten inquired with the city on Mar. 10 and was told by a city official that the Korean kindergarten “is not considered a facility under Saitama city guidance and oversight, and instruction cannot be provided in cases where the masks are used inappropriately,” the newspaper reported. Representatives of the Korean kindergarten visited the city hall on Mar. 11 to protest, describing the measure as an “unforgivable action” that “cannot be ignored in human rights or humanitarian terms,” the newspaper said.

Difficulties in acquiring masks have become an issue in Japan due to the effects of the novel coronavirus outbreak. The Japanese government is currently planning to purchase 20 million masks in bulk for distribution to senior citizen facilities and daycare centers.

Kyodo News also reported a Saitama city employee as suggesting that masks might be “sold off” if provided to Korean kindergartens. A city official apologized for the remarks to the principal on Mar. 11, calling them “inappropriate,” the agency reported. It also reported a Saitama city official as expressing that the mask distribution targets may be reconsidered.
ENDS

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さいたま市 マスク配布、朝鮮学校幼稚部を除外 「転売されるかも」職員発言に市幹部謝罪
毎日新聞2020年3月11日
https://mainichi.jp/articles/20200311/k00/00m/040/328000c

さいたま市役所で、マスクの平等な配布を求める埼玉朝鮮初中級学校幼稚部の朴洋子園長(右手前)ら=11日午後
新型コロナウイルスの感染防止策として幼稚園や保育園に備蓄マスクを配布しているさいたま市が、埼玉朝鮮初中級学校の幼稚部(同市大宮区、園児41人)を配布対象から外していたことが11日、関係者への取材で分かった。幼稚部の関係者らが同日、市に平等に配布するよう抗議し、市幹部が配布対象を再考すると表明した。

市職員が幼稚部に配布しないと10日説明した際に、配ったマスクが「転売されるかもしれない」との趣旨の発言をしたことも分かり…
Rest behind paywall at https://mainichi.jp/articles/20200311/k00/00m/040/328000c

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朝鮮学校の幼稚園、マスク配布対象外に さいたま市
新型肺炎・コロナウイルス 高絢実
朝日新聞 2020年3月11日 23時36分
https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASN3C7RH3N3CUTNB00C.html

さいたま市が幼稚園や保育所などの職員らにマスクを配布する中で、埼玉朝鮮初中級学校の幼稚部(同市大宮区)が対象外となっている。11日、学校関係者や保護者ら約20人が市役所を訪れ、配布の対象とするよう求めた。

市は9日から、子どもを預かっている公立・民間施設の職員用にマスク約9万3千枚の配布を開始。幼稚部の朴洋子(パクヤンジャ)園長(61)は翌10日に報道で配布を知り、市に問い合わせた。朴園長によると、市から「(朝鮮学校が分類される)各種学校は市の管轄ではないため、配布したマスクがどう使われるかを監査できない」という旨の説明を受けたという。

学校は2日から休校。幼稚部は通常通りだが、心配な場合は休むことを認めており、全園児41人中、37人が通園しているという。通園バスの運転手を含めて、職員は7人。朴園長は「正直びっくり。こういう非常事態でウイルスを広めないために配っているのに、除外ということがまかり通るのかと思う」と話した。

市は朝日新聞の取材に「備蓄しているマスクに限りがあるので、市が監査できる所管施設を対象にした」と話した。(高絢実)
ENDS

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Tokyo Ramen Restaurant Won’t Allow Foreigners Because Of Coronavirus
By Brian Ashcraft, Kotaku.com, 2/20/20
https://kotaku.com/tokyo-ramen-restaurant-wont-allow-foreigners-because-of-1841805078/

Ueno Sanji, a ramen restaurant in Tokyo, is only allowing Japanese customers due to COVID-19 concerns. The owner (pictured) claims that this is not discrimination but his duty to protect his family, his employees and his loyal customers.
The Owner of Ueno Sanji

There have been around 75,000 cases of people infected with coronavirus in China, followed by 104 in South Korea and another 87 in Japan. Internationally, coronavirus has led to incidents of anti-Asian discrimination and xenophobia. However, the same is also happening within Asia towards Chinese people:

At Ueno Sanji, a ramen restaurant in Tokyo, an English language sign was posted reading, “Sorry!! Japanese Only Sorry!!”

The above tweet reads: “Starting today, as a countermeasure to the coronavirus, [this restaurant] is Japanese only. I have a responsibility to protect my family, my staff and Sanji junkies. Please understand that this is not discrimination.”

On Twitter, people replied in Japanese that this was in fact discrimination and even hate speech. Others pointed out that viruses don’t pay attention to nationality.

Considering that Japan has the third most cases in the world of the virus, with Japanese nationals infected with coronavirus, Ueno Sanji’s proclamation seems especially odd.

Wrote one Twitter user in Japanese, “If you are really worried about the coronavirus, then you should refuse all customers.”

ENDS

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They are not alone:
Courtesy https://twitter.com/345triangle/status/1238776189482754048


(Click on image to expand in your browser.  H/T to SM)

The Japanese sign below it reads:

“INFORMATION ABOUT POLICIES TAKEN AGAINST CORONAVIRUS

“Thank you very much for being a loyal patron of our establishment.

“At the moment the Coronavirus is also greatly infecting Japan.  As far as our establishment goes, our foremost thoughts are on everyone’s safety, so our staff is periodically cleaning and disinfecting everything.  

“Additional measures include (largely illegible to these 55-year-old eyes, but nothing mentioning foreigners; anyone with sharper vision than mine is welcome to translate).  Please understand in advance that in rare circumstances there will be a bit of a smell, but this will have no physical effect on you.

“Finally, we shall make every effort to prevent the spread of infection, so we would appreciate your understanding and cooperation.”

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

COMMENT:  In other words, to this restaurant this is a “foreign virus” that warrants careful cleanliness for the sake of Japanese customers but outright exclusion for foreigners, including foreign residents who pose the same risk factors as any Japanese who hasn’t traveled abroad (and not including Japanese who have).

I contacted the person who tweeted these pictures, Sam Byford, a week ago for more information about the location of these signs, but no response.  It might be in Kichijouji, so keep an eye out.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 8: “No Free Pass for Japan’s Shirking Responsibility”, Mar 16, 2020

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Hi Blog. I know everyone’s talking about the Coronavirus (and I do here too, for a bit). But my latest column backs the lens up to see this all in a larger context of Japan’s perpetual bad habits, and how they get a “free pass” even when those habits have adverse effects on the rest of the world. Especially when Japan is being held up as a model by many as a system that helps the powerful evade responsibility and transfer blame. Have a read.

One more note: Nowhere else in Japan but an independent news press like the Shingetsu News Agency would publish an article like this. This article will be behind a paywall in a few days, so please chip in $5 a month (I pay more) at the venue for access.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities: No Free Pass for Shirking Responsibility
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, VISIBLE MINORITIES COLUMN 8
MARCH 16, 2020 by DEBITO ARUDOU
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/03/16/visible-minorities-no-free-pass-for-shirking-responsibility/

SNA (Tokyo) — There’s an oft-used expression in Japanese: sekinin tenka. Best translated as “passing the buck,” it’s a reflex of dodging blame for one’s own actions by transferring responsibility to others. For too long, Japan has done so on the world stage with impunity—even when it affects the world adversely.

Let’s start with, since it’s timely, the 3.11 Fukushima nuclear meltdown that took place nine years ago this month. While the earthquake and tsunami are not Japan’s fault, situating a nuclear power plant so perilously close to the coastline is; as is the perpetually-botched response of containment and leakage (even the willful dumping) of irradiated water into the Pacific Ocean.

Contrast that with the attention and criticism (and even a TV series) Russia got for Chernobyl, where the situation has finally been contained in a sarcophagus. In Japan, officials instead blamed world standards of safe radiation levels for being alarmist (adjusting them upwards for domestic political purposes) and declared Fukushima produce safe for consumption.

Even more timely is how sekinin tenka influenced Japan’s Covid-19 response…

Read the rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/03/16/visible-minorities-no-free-pass-for-shirking-responsibility/

======================
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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 16, 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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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 16, 2020

Hello Newsletter Readers. My latest SNA Visible Minorities column 8 has just come out. Excerpt:

==============================
No Free Pass for Japan’s Shirking Responsibility
By Debito Arudou
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, March 16, 2020
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/03/16/visible-minorities-no-free-pass-for-shirking-responsibility/

SNA (Tokyo) — There’s an oft-used expression in Japanese: sekinin tenka. Best translated as “passing the buck,” it’s a reflex of dodging blame for one’s own actions by transferring responsibility to others. For too long, Japan has done so on the world stage with impunity—even when it affects the world adversely.

Let’s start with, since it’s timely, the 3.11 Fukushima nuclear meltdown that took place nine years ago this month. While the earthquake and tsunami are not Japan’s fault, situating a nuclear power plant so perilously close to the coastline is; as is the perpetually-botched response of containment and leakage (even the willful dumping) of irradiated water into the Pacific Ocean.

Contrast that with the attention and criticism (and even a TV series) Russia got for Chernobyl, where the situation has finally been contained in a sarcophagus. In Japan, officials instead blamed world standards of safe radiation levels for being alarmist (adjusting them upwards for domestic political purposes) and declared Fukushima produce safe for consumption.

Even more timely is how sekinin tenka influenced Japan’s Covid-19 response…

Read the rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/03/16/visible-minorities-no-free-pass-for-shirking-responsibility/

Debito.org anchor site at http://www.debito.org/?p=15978

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

One more note: Nowhere else in Japan but an independent news press like the Shingetsu News Agency would publish an article like this. This article will be behind a paywall in a few days, so please chip in $5 a month (I pay more) at the venue for access.

Now on with the Newsletter:

Table of Contents:

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DIVERSITY AND ITS ADVERSARIES

1) 2020 Tokyo Olympics drops Ainu performance from its Opening Ceremonies, despite 2019 law officially recognizing and promoting them as an indigenous people in Japan
2) BBC: “Is Japan embracing diversity?” A Pollyannaish article highlighting a few celebrity examples without data on broad public attitudes or government policy re immigration
3) DF on Chugoku bank unlawfully demanding to check NJ customers’ visa stay durations and photocopy their Gaijin Cards, or face discontinuation of service
4) Senaiho “Hair Police” School Bullying Case Update 4: Civil lawsuit launched against school bullies, gaining traction with other international couples
5) “Gaikokujin Shimin”: Kawaguchi City Mayor Okunoki (kinda) answers a query about the racialized application of this term that officially makes Japanese into “foreigners” (UPDATED)

RECENT DEBITO COLUMNS

6) SNA Visible Minorities Col 6: “Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move”, Jan 20, 2020
7) 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

… and finally…

8 ) My SNA Visible Minorities column 7: “Japan’s Botched Response to the Diamond Princess Coronavirus isn’t Racism; it’s Stupidity”, Feb 17, 2020

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By Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
(debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito)
Debito.org Newsletters are freely forwardable

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DIVERSITY AND ITS ADVERSARIES

1) 2020 Tokyo Olympics drops Ainu performance from its Opening Ceremonies, despite 2019 law officially recognizing and promoting them as an indigenous people in Japan

Guardian: Japan’s commitment to the rights of its indigenous people has been questioned after organisers of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics dropped a performance by members of the Ainu ethnic minority from the Games’ opening ceremony. Members of the Ainu community, originally from Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, had been expecting to showcase their culture to the world in a dance at the Olympic stadium, but learned recently that the plans had been scrapped. The Tokyo 2020 organising committee said the performance had been dropped from the ceremony due to “logistical constraints”. “Unfortunately, this particular Ainu dance performance could not be included because of logistical constraints related to the ceremonies,” it said in a statement to the Guardian.

COMMENT: Now that overseas media has finally decided to pick up this story, let’s open a dedicated blog entry to it. Debito.org’s take is that including the Ainu performance for the world to see would have too clearly contradicted the postwar-created and carefully-curated narrative of Japan as a homogeneous monocultural monoethnic society. In contrast to how numerous Opening Ceremonies elsewhere have showcased the diversity of the hosting country, this is an enormous slap in the face to the Ainu not only socially, but also legally, given the 2019 law that finally recognizes them as Japan’s indigenous people, and promises to help promote their culture. First chance they get, the GOJ fumbles it.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15947

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2) BBC: “Is Japan embracing diversity?” A Pollyannaish article highlighting a few celebrity examples without data on broad public attitudes or government policy re immigration

BBC: Ahead of the Rugby World Cup held in Japan last year, a Japanese sports magazine, asked the national team’s captain, “Why are there so many foreigners in Japan’s squad?” The 31-year-old captain, Michael Leitch, originally from New Zealand, answered (in Japanese), “Because that’s how Japan is today. The rugby national team reflects the reality of current Japan, and also anticipates the future of Japan. As a team, we can embody and show society just how important diversity is.”
[…]
In Japan, rugby is famous for the phrase “no-side”, meaning once the referee blows the whistle to end the match, there are no more foes, only fellow players. While this phrase is no longer widely used, it has lodged itself firmly in the national consciousness of Japan. Athletes there with foreign roots are still called “players from a foreign country”. But in a country where the concept of wa is considered a fundamental virtue, there is hope that an increasingly visible “other” Japan in a changing society can lead it to being the natural state of things.

COMMENT: Here we have another one of those hopeful “Japan is changing” articles we get from time to time. BBC Reporter Okazaki clearly starts from a tack and then works backwards to find evidence to support it. But as Submitter FB pointed out quite succinctly, the article “highlights a few celebrity examples without any data on broad public attitudes or government policy towards immigration. The fact that 3rd generation ethnic Koreans aren’t citizens is the most telling fact of intransigence towards diversity.” Touche.

So let’s just draw a line in the sand here with a clear litmus test: At a bare minimum, until Japan’s historical aberration of “Zainichi” status is finally resolved by the Japanese government, and “generational foreigners” are legally accepted as diverse AND Japanese, Japan can never claim to be truly accepting of diversity. Full stop. Do that, and then we’ll start talking about how “Japan is changing” for a news peg. For one cannot ignore the historical contributions and sacrifices of Japan’s minorities, particularly the Zainichi, no matter what cosmetic overtures one might make in public towards a few token Visible Minorities for the sake of overseas media consumption.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15953

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3) DF on Chugoku bank unlawfully demanding to check NJ customers’ visa stay durations and photocopy their Gaijin Cards, or face discontinuation of service

From time to time Debito.org gets sent information from NJ residents being harassed by Japanese officialdom and businesses for the most basic things. Such as checking into a hotel or using a bank. Or being treated as objects of mistrust in official “Blame Games”. Or being demanded unnecessary steps just to live their daily lives or conduct regular business. It encourages racial profiling even further, in addition to what you already have at Japan’s hotels and other public accommodation, police instant ID checkpoints, and tax agencies. (See here too).

Such as the following case below, where Chugoku Bank is demanding a Visa Check in order to maintain (not open; maintain) a bank account. (In their words, “we have elected to confirm the period of stay for customers whose period of stay and other details have not been confirmed” Meaning their nosying into somebody’s visa status is not even under the pretense of some legal requirement.) And of course, in this era of identity theft that even foreign governments warn you against, Chugoku Bank wants to make a photocopy of the person’s ID, it turns out, for no reason whatsoever but reflex.

Submitter DF: Hi Debito, I recently got the attached postcard from my bank, Chugoku Ginkou. It says that I have to go in and verify that I am in the country legally to keep using my bank account. I went in today and they wanted to make a photocopy of my card. Is this legal? They claimed that they are doing so at the request of the government, which I’m sure is true, and that they need a copy for “filing”, which I am not sure is true. I told them that the card can usually only be requested by a police officer or an immigration agent. I finally relented only after they explained that they also photocopy other customer’s driver’s licenses. I offered my driver’s license, but they declined. I noticed that other than my visa status (PR), there is really no info on there that they don’t already have. Who is in the right here, legally?

http://www.debito.org/?p=15881

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4) Senaiho “Hair Police” School Bullying Case Update 4: Civil lawsuit launched against school bullies, gaining traction with other international couples

Here’s the latest update from NJ resident Senaiho (previous updates three, two, and one here), whose daughter was not only bullied by school peers, but also had her hair forcibly cut by schoolteachers in public, causing her so much PTSD that she dropped out of school. This is yet another incident of Japan’s institutionalized school bullying of children of color that Debito.org has long called “the Hair Police”. Bullying is rife in Japanese education, but when it’s ignored (or even perpetuated) by officialdom, this feeling of powerlessness will leave children (particularly those NJ children with diverse physical features targeted for “standing out”) and their families scarred for life. (As discussed at length in book “Embedded Racism”, pg. 154-5.)

The difference now is that Senaiho has launched an actual civil court case. Over more than a year now Senaiho has tried other channels, such as taking it before school authorities and asking for criminal investigations, and all they have gotten is stonewalling and official coverup. So now he’s suing the bullies themselves. Let’s see what precedent this is going to set. Given that others are now standing up against insanely intrusive Japanese school conformity rules (“burakku kousoku”, including warmer clothes in winter, freedom of assembly or travel, and even the color of their underwear!), this may be a landmark case. Meanwhile, Senaiho offers an update with a newspaper clip below.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15932

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5) “Gaikokujin Shimin”: Kawaguchi City Mayor Okunoki (kinda) answers a query about the racialized application of this term that officially makes Japanese into “foreigners” (UPDATED)

As we’ve talked at length before (it even topped my annual JT Top Ten Human Rights Issues for 2019), city governments have been using a racialized definition of local residents, namely “Gaikokujin Shimin”, that officially classifies even naturalized Japanese citizens, Japanese children with foreign roots, or anyone with connections to a foreign land as “foreigners”. Submitter ABC below offers a letter sent to the Kawaguchi City Government asking for clarification of the uses and effects of this official term. Thankfully, Kawaguchi City Mayor Okunoki Nobuo answered Submitter ABC. I enclose the query, Okunoki’s answer, and my (updated) translation of the answer, below.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15921

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RECENT DEBITO COLUMNS

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

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/

Debito.org anchor site at http://www.debito.org/?p=15907

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7) 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

JBC: 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:

1) Ask why you are being stopped. 2) Ask to see their ID. 3) Use your phone (or ask a friend) to start recording. 4) Ask if compliance is optional, and/or ask for a warrant. 5) Above all, remain calm and polite. Arm yourself with the requisite vocabulary to do all this, contained in this article.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15914

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… and finally…

8 ) My SNA Visible Minorities column 7: “Japan’s Botched Response to the Diamond Princess Coronavirus isn’t Racism; it’s Stupidity”, Feb 17, 2020

The Diamond Princess cruise ship case (which has been discussed extensively on Debito.org this past week) fell within my SNA monthly column window this time, so here’s my take on it:

Visible Minorities: Japan’s Botched Response to the Coronavirus
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, Feb 17, 2020

SNA (Tokyo) — The drama of cruise ship Diamond Princess, currently moored at Yokohama and quarantined by Japan’s Health Ministry due to some of the 3,700 passengers and crew testing positive for the coronavirus, is a human rights crisis.

The Covid-19 outbreak that originated in China has killed more than 1700 people and sickened tens of thousands.

Here’s my take: Surprise! I’m not going to argue that the prison-ship conditions are due to racism, but more a matter of official stupidity…

Read the rest at the Shingetsu News Agency website at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/02/17/visible-minorities-japans-botched-response-to-the-coronavirus/

Debito.org anchor site at http://www.debito.org/?p=15942

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That’s all for this month! Thanks for reading!

By Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
(debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito)
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 16, 2020 ENDS

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DF on Chugoku bank unlawfully demanding to check NJ customers’ visa stay durations and photocopy their Gaijin Cards, or face discontinuation of service

mytest

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Hi Blog.  From time to time Debito.org gets sent information from NJ residents being harassed by Japanese officialdom and businesses for the most basic things.  Such as checking into a hotel or using a bank.  Or being treated as objects of mistrust in official “Blame Games”.  Or being demanded unnecessary steps just to live their daily lives or conduct regular business. It encourages racial profiling even further, in addition to what you already have at Japan’s hotels and other public accommodation, police instant ID checkpoints, and tax agencies.  (See here too).

Such as the following case below, where Chugoku Bank is demanding a Visa Check in order to maintain (not open; maintain) a bank account.  (In their words, “we have elected to confirm the period of stay for customers whose period of stay and other details have not been confirmed”  Meaning their nosying into somebody’s visa status is not even under the pretense of some legal requirement.)  And of course, in this era of identity theft that even foreign governments warn you against, Chugoku Bank wants to make a photocopy of the person’s ID, it turns out, for no reason whatsoever but reflex.

As “immigrants are not to be trusted” mindsets proliferate around democracies worldwide, remember where many of them take their cues from:  Japan.  PM Abe, remember, is “Trump before Trump“, and even Abe had his antecedents.  Another milepost on the march towards normalized ethnostatism worldwide.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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From: DF
Subject: Being made to show my gaijin card to my bank
Date: December 12, 2019
To: “debito@debito.org”

Hi Debito,

I recently got the attached postcard from my bank. It says that I have to go in and verify that I am in the country legally to keep using my bank account.

(click on image to expand in your browser)

I went in today and they wanted to make a photocopy of my card. Is this legal? They claimed that they are doing so at the request of the government, which I’m sure is true, and that they need a copy for “filing”, which I am not sure is true.

I told them that the card can usually only be requested by a police officer or an immigration agent. I finally relented only after they explained that they also photocopy other customer’s driver’s licenses. I offered my driver’s license, but they declined. I noticed that other than my visa status (PR), there is really no info on there that they don’t already have.

Who is in the right here, legally?

You may use my story on your site, there must be other people getting this kind of notice from their banks. Initials DF is fine.

Do you know of the specific law that states who may or may not request or copy a zairyuu card? I tried to look, but didn’t find it.

I want to email Chugoku Bank’s head office and try to get them to change their policy at all of the banks, not just my branch. I also want my photocopy returned to me.

I don’t begrudge the workers at the branch, the teller tried to make a copy, I stopped her and she said that the postcard mentioned a copy. We looked at it together and it doesn’t say anything about a copy. She immediately bailed out to a higher authority and I saw that man make a phone call. He then called me over to a private side booth to talk to me. Everybody was professional and polite, but they were just given the wrong information.

If I can quote the law to them and get a reply, I can give a follow-up for your blog.

Thank you for your assistance, DF

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From Debito:  Hi DF. You are still in the right, legally.  The thing is, the laws I have (the Gaitouhou) pertain to the old Gaijin Card, which is very clear who can inspect the Gaijin Card.  Only police, Immigration Officials, and MOJ representatives.

“The Foreign Registry Law, Section 13, Clause 2. Foreigners, when asked to show their Gaijin Cards by immigration investigation officials (as outlined in separate laws), police, coast guard, or any other national or local public official or group empowered by the Ministry of Justice as part of the execution of their duties, must show.” https://www.debito.org/instantcheckpoints2.html

Now that the Gaitouhou is no more, I’m not sure what the new laws are.  I can’t seem to find them either.  I’ve asked around, but gotten no response.  I’m not a lawyer, so it’s time for the legal experts to weigh in, as they have done (in our favor) in terms of ID checks of NJ residents of Japan at hotels.

Sincerely, Debito

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BBC: “Is Japan embracing diversity?” A Pollyannaish article highlighting a few celebrity examples without data on broad public attitudes or government policy re immigration

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Hi Blog.  Here we have another one of those hopefulJapan is changing” articles we get from time to time (and from long ago; for example here and here and here and here).  This time from the BBC, where the reporter takes up a number of issues we’ve been dealing with for decades here on Debito.org.  Reporter Okazaki clearly starts from a tack (e.g., “there is hope that an increasingly visible “other” Japan in a changing society can lead it to being the natural state of things”), and then works backwards to find evidence to support it.

As Submitter FB pointed out quite succinctly, the article “highlights a few celebrity examples without any data on broad public attitudes or government policy towards immigration. The fact that 3rd generation ethnic Koreans aren’t citizens is the most telling fact of intransigence towards diversity.” Touche.

So let’s just draw a line in the sand here with a clear litmus test:  At a bare minimum, until Japan’s historical aberration of “Zainichi” status is finally resolved by the Japanese government, and “generational foreigners” are legally accepted as diverse AND Japanese, Japan can never claim to be truly accepting of diversity.  Full stop.

Do that, and then we’ll start talking about how “Japan is changing” as a news peg.  For one cannot ignore the historical contributions and sacrifices of Japan’s minorities, particularly the Zainichi, no matter what cosmetic overtures one might make in public towards a few token Visible Minorities for the sake of overseas media consumption.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Is Japan embracing diversity?
By Eri Okazaki, BBC, 24th February 2020, courtesy of FB
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200131-is-japan-embracing-diversity

Ahead of the Rugby World Cup held in Japan last year, a Japanese sports magazine, asked the national team’s captain, “Why are there so many foreigners in Japan’s squad?”

The 31-year-old captain, Michael Leitch, originally from New Zealand, answered (in Japanese), “Because that’s how Japan is today.”

Leitch went on to say, “The rugby national team reflects the reality of current Japan, and also anticipates the future of Japan. As a team, we can embody and show society just how important diversity is.” [Ed:  My, how the worm turns.]

The game wasn’t about the individual players

The home team – made up of players from South Africa, New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Korea and of course Japan – whipped up a frenzy of passion throughout the country and across the world by reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in the history of Japanese rugby.

PHOTO: Pieter Labuschagne, originally from South Africa, is one of several foreign-born players on Japan’s national rugby team (credit: Newscom/Alamy Live News)

The fervour surrounding the games on Japanese soil, and the success of the Japanese team, was unprecedented. But beyond sport, there was another conversation bubbling underneath the surface. About what it means to “be Japanese” in modern day Japan.

And how does this fit into Japan’s ostensibly homogenous narrative?

Who am I?

Some people in Japan still view their society as a mono-ethnic. Japan’s sense of national identity and what it means to “be Japanese” is deeply engrained.

This comes from layers of historical context; sakoku – an isolationist policy that lasted for over 200 years, which massively limited both migration and imports – as well as assertions from Japanese politicians’ over the years that they are a “homogenous society” and that the distinct nature of the country comes from being “one nation, one civilisation, one language, one culture and one race.”

PHOTO: In March every year, Japanese students attend career seminars and submit job applications as part of shūshoku katsudō (credit: Alamy)

And at first glance, it might seem like that on the surface. Take the traditional job-hunting practice of shūshoku katsudō for instance. In early April every year, thousands of university students dressed in ubiquitous black suits and carrying a briefcase can be seen traipsing the streets in search of jobs at the most reputable firms in the country. You can see why some still accuse Japan of homogeneity.

But that’s not actually the case.

Japan has several minority communities in addition to their foreign residents. The indigenous Ainu who have only been officially recognised by the Japanese government since 2019 as well as the Ryūkyūans or Okinawans. There are also the Burakumin or so-called “hamlet people” once considered the lowest caste in Japan’s now-abolished feudal.

And then there are groups who are considered to be foreigners despite being long-term residents over several generations such as the zainichi. The word simply means “living in Japan” but is most commonly used to refer to ethnic Koreans and their descendants who remained after being brought to Japan during the occupation of Korea from 1910 until the end of World War II in 1945.

PHOTO:  New policies will see Japan welcoming more foreigners (credit: Alamy)

While the majority of these Koreans left Japan when the war ended, some 600,000 remained but over time, lost “imperial citizenship” that original settlers were given. The first generation were long-term residents of Japan without Japanese citizenship. As time went on, some of the next generation did apply and receive naturalisation.

In Japan, citizenship is determined by jus sanguinis or the nationality of your parents as opposed to place of birth. For that reason, Japan-born zainichi are counted as foreign residents in government figures.

With a rapidly ageing population, Japan has opened up its immigration policies to fill an acute labour shortage. In 2018 the government signed a bill to allow for hundreds of thousands of workers to come to Japan to work in specific sectors such as construction, nursing and farming.

But how will Japan deal with the changing face of its population?

Half or whole?

Japanese people of mixed heritage have long been known in Japan as hafu (meaning, half). Coined in the 1970s, some believe it’s a divisive term which on the one hand means multi-ethnicity while on the other means “not whole.” In fact, another term – daburu – meaning double began to be used in the 1990s as a way emphasising what is gained by being mixed race rather than what is missing. But in practice hafu is a more widely used term.

There have been several high-profile Japanese people of mixed race in the spotlight in recent years which has highlighted that there are still issues to be addressed.

Former Miss Japan, Ariana Miyamoto, knows first-hand the struggles of a perceived sense of “being Japanese”.

Miyamoto, 25, represented Japan at the 2015 Miss Universe pageant. She was born in Nagasaki, in southern Japan, to a Japanese mother and an African-American father. As a child growing up in Japan, she says she was bullied because of her dark skin. And when she became the first woman of mixed parentage to be chosen as Miss Japan, she was targeted by online abuse from those who claimed she “isn’t Japanese”, and “isn’t fit to represent Japan”.

PHOTO: Miss Japan Ariana Miyamoto has spoken out about the racial abuse she has received (credit: TORU YAMANAKA/AFP via Getty Images)

But Miyamoto used her new-found fame to become a champion for others like herself, who are of mixed heritage.

And when Priyanka Yoshikawa of Japanese and Indian parents was chosen as Miss Japan for the Miss World pageant the following year, she credited her win to Miyamoto, saying she had helped show “mixed girls the way”.

And Miyamoto says things changed dramatically for her personally when Naomi Osaka won the US Tennis Open and by association, people’s attitude towards her changed completely.

It’s obvious, I’m tan. It’s pretty obvious – Naomi Osaka

Japan’s leading tennis player was born in Japan to a Haitian father and Japanese mother and brought up in the US. Osaka is now ranked number three in the world but her success and visibility in the public eye has highlighted a perception that to “be Japanese” you must look and talk a certain way. The Japanese media often pointedly asked Osaka in post-game press conferences to “reply in Japanese” even though she is not fluent in the language.

PHOTO: Tennis player Naomi Osaka’s success has helped to change attitudes around multiculturalism in Japan (credit: Getty Images)

Japanese food company, Nissin, was also accused of “whitewashing” after it depicted Osaka with white skin and brown hair in an animated advert. Osaka responded by saying, “It’s obvious, I’m tan. It’s pretty obvious.” The company, a sponsor of the Japanese tennis team apologised, saying it had meant no offence and vowed to “pay more attention to diversity issues in the future.”

It was reported in October 2019 that Osaka has chosen Japanese nationality and gave up her US citizenship. Under Japanese law, those with dual citizenship must choose one before their 22nd birthday.

Osaka, for her part, is bemused by it all saying in an interview: “People start saying I’m American ’cause I live in America or I’m Haitian because my dad is Haitian, I’m Japanese ’cause my mom’s Japanese. I don’t know, I’d rather they just focus on the tennis.”

Living in harmony

Shahran Ishino first travelled from Tehran to Tokyo in 2002 as a student, and now holds Japanese citizenship. He runs a consulting firm that promotes the creation of a working environment conducive to both Japanese and foreign nationals.

Ishino believes Japan’s rugby team actually achieved a state that Japanese society has aspired to for centuries. And it was because of the team’s diversity, not in spite of it.

“The game wasn’t about the individual players,” he says, “it was about the team as a whole. That’s very Japanese. It was the very epitome of the Japanese virtue of wa (harmony).”

PHOTO: Iranian-born Shahran Ishino now works with companies to promote multi-cultural workplaces in Japan (credit: BBC)

The concept of wa could be argued as the very essence of the Japanese character. It denotes a sense that group values are more important the individual and therefore conformity to social norms is needed to achieve this state.

But Ishino takes a more nuanced view: “I believe the Japanese spirit of ‘wa’ is a truly wonderful thing. In the rugby team, the Japanese players accept the foreign players, and the foreign players are eager to do well along with their Japanese teammates. They performed well together as a team, everyone pulling together. Of course, they win or lose as the Japanese team, because that’s what they are.”

In Japan, rugby is famous for the phrase “no-side”, meaning once the referee blows the whistle to end the match, there are no more foes, only fellow players. While this phrase is no longer widely used, it has lodged itself firmly in the national consciousness of Japan.

Athletes there with foreign roots are still called “players from a foreign country”. But in a country where the concept of wa is considered a fundamental virtue, there is hope that an increasingly visible “other” Japan in a changing society can lead it to being the natural state of things.
ENDS
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