DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 2, 2012
Hello Debito.org Newsletter Readers. A brief one this month, as I’ve been working on other projects. But there are as always some issues here that might warrant your attention.
First off, my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 50 will be coming out tomorrow, Tuesday, April 3, on octogenarian Donald Keene and the myths he promoted while publicly hugging himself when he applied (and received, justifiably) Japanese citizenship last month: that of NJ as criminal and fleer in the face of the Tohoku disasters. Now that the stats are in on foreign crime and emigration from Japan during 2011, it’s time to debunk these myths, and even expose not a few inconsistencies in The Don’s behavior itself.
The challenge during this column was one of tone: to take a person to task for his actions while not appearing to “meanly bash an old, old man” (as people will inevitably claim in their ever-angry Letters to the Editor). Sorry, but Keene’s behavior these past few months has been ignorant, ignominious, and unbecoming a man of his stature and research abilities, and he deserves to be called out on it. Especially since it affects NJ, which he himself once was. Have a read tomorrow!
Table of Contents:
SOME FALSE ALARMS:
1) Naha City now requires JETs/AETs and JTEs to provide urine sample (drug test?) for contract renewal
2) Mainichi: 23 percent of Japan’s top firms eager to employ more NJ. Why this is not newsworthy.
3) Asahi & AFP on GOJ proposals re observing Hague Child Abduction Treaty, more loopholes such as NJ DV, and even bonus racist imagery
SOME WARRANTED ALARMS:
4) Asahi: Tokyo District Court rules denying J citizenship to children born overseas with one J parent constitutional
5) Discussion: Reader Eric C writes in with an argument for “giving up on Japan”. What do you think?
BUILDUP TO MY COLUMN THIS MONTH:
6) Powerpoint presentation on the J media-manufactured Myth of “Flyjin”; stats are in, lies are exposed
7) Congratulations Donald Keene on getting Japanese citizenship. Now stop making yourself out to be somehow morally superior to NJ.
8 ) Psych Today and DailyLife.com on “Microaggression”, an interesting way to look at subtle social “othering”
… and finally…
9) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 49: “Japan’s revolving-door immigration policy hard-wired to fail”
By ARUDOU, Debito (firstname.lastname@example.org, www.debito.org, twitter arudoudebito)
SOME FALSE ALARMS:
Naha City now requires JETs/AETs and JTEs to provide urine sample (drug test?) for contract renewal
In one of the rare blog posts to blow up in my face, we had a JET down in Okinawa write in with written evidence from the Naha Board of Education that urine tests (along with X-rays, etc) will be required for contract renewal for AETs, with claims that this was only required for NJs. After putting this up on Debito.org with my typical acerbic assessments of discrimination towards NJ, people wrote in agreeing with Naha BOE’s claim a) that this is but a routine physical, and b) supplying written evidence that this is also being applied to JTE Japanese contract workers in the same position. Why I still believe this is a drug test (as there has been a scandal with two JETs in Okinawa getting drugs in the mail recently) — for why should an otherwise optional regular physical suddenly be a requirement for a job renewal? — it became less an “unfairness to NJ” issue than an “invasion of privacy” issue, which meant I had to retract and apologize for my original assertions. However, it did occasion a productive discussion on how Japanese employers increasingly feel it is their right to snoop on their employees’ health just because they’re paying for the health test. In Naha’s case, if you don’t comply with the snoop, you’re fired. Read what transpired at
Mainichi: 23 percent of Japan’s top firms eager to employ more NJ. Why this is not newsworthy.
Mainichi: Some 23 percent of Japan’s top 122 companies are considering employing more foreigners starting from next year, citing plans for overseas expansion as their main incentive, a Mainichi survey has revealed. Sixty-two companies, some 50.8 percent of all firms surveyed, further answered that they are likely to hire more foreign employees in the next 10 years as well. Conversely, 45 companies, or 36.9 percent, answered that their foreign employee numbers will remain unchanged. There were no firms that plan to decrease foreign employment from current figures.
COMMENT: Well, seems that trumpeting that Japanese companies want to hire foreigners is becoming a periodic media thing (the last survey put up on Debito.org was featured in the Asahi back in April 2010). But saying you want something is not news; actually doing it, is. But the lack of job-placement support for NJ graduates of Japanese universities, and the treatment of Michael Woodford (who rose through the ranks to CEO over decades of dedication to the company, only to be sacked for “cultural reasons” in a sea of corruption), do not inspire hope.
Asahi & AFP on GOJ proposals re observing Hague Child Abduction Treaty, more loopholes such as NJ DV, and even bonus racist imagery
AFP: Japan’s government on Friday approved a bill to join a pact on settling cross-border child custody rows, opening the way for its adoption after years of foreign pressure.
Asahi: In an outline of procedures for the Hague Convention on international child-custody disputes, a government panel has proposed allowing court officials to forcibly remove a child from a Japanese parent to return him or her to the country of habitual residence… The subcommittee proposed that factors, such as the risk that the child will face violence back in the country of habitual residence and a situation in which it is difficult for the parents to take custody of the child, be considered.
Specific cases cited include: the parent demanding custody of the child commits acts of violence against the other parent in front of the child; the parent in a foreign country is addicted to drugs or alcohol; and the Japanese parent who returns with the child may be arrested.
COMMENT: Love the invective that one sees time and again in the Japanese media and GOJ debates, where we have the appearance of victimized Japanese females being harassed by NJ males (including even the threat of domestic violence), when in fact child abduction and parental alienation happens between Japanese too, given that there is no joint custody or guaranteed visitation rights in Japan. Check out this article below from the Asahi last January. Bonus: The newspaper’s pictorially racist portrayal of the non-Distaff Side of the international couple. And that’s before you even get to the unlikely prospect of Japan actually ever enforcing the Hague (see here also), just like it never enforces the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination. The discourse will continue as such.
SOME WARRANTED ALARMS:
Asahi: Tokyo District Court rules denying J citizenship to children born overseas with one J parent constitutional
In an important decision regarding how Japanese nationality is granted, the Tokyo District Court ruled constitutional on March 23, 2012, that if a person with Japanese blood is born overseas and has another nationality, and if the parents have not registered the child with Japanese authorities within three months of birth, Japanese nationality will be denied.
This fruity ruling is in contrast to the Supreme Court’s June 2008 landmark ruling regarding Japanese-Filipina plaintiffs in a similar situation, where their Japanese nationality would be recognized despite similar bureaucratic registry snafus (as in, Japanese paternity not being recognized within a certain time frame, and if the child was born out of wedlock). That ruling was justified in part by the judges candidly admitting that lack of Japanese nationality would mean clear and present discrimination in Japan towards these people. (In a related note, the GOJ months later declared a “false paternity” panic, and declared countermeasures were necessary; wheels turn slowly within the Japanese judiciary — perhaps this ruling is a countermeasure to keep the Half riffraff out.)
The possibility of discrimination seemed to make no difference in this ruling, as paternity and wedlock don’t seem to be an issue. Place of birth is, meaning this ruling erodes the primacy of Japan’s jus sanguinis (citizenship by blood) conceits in favor somehow of jus soli (citizenship by birthplace).
Granted, Japanese judges are a fruity lot, and District Court rulings are often overturned for their fruitiness (see the McGowan Case, where an African-American plaintiff was refused entry to an eyeglass store by a manager who expressly disliked black people, and the judge said it was unclear that refusal was due to him being black; and the Oita Zainichi Chinese Welfare Case, which tried to rule that foreigners were not eligible for social welfare, despite it being made legal by the Japanese Diet since 1981! — see here also under item six). Let’s hope there is an appeal and this gets taken before a less fruity court.
Discussion: Reader Eric C writes in with an argument for “giving up on Japan”. What do you think?
I got a post comment the other day that occasioned a lot of debate on Debito.org last month. It’s considered and considerate — usually letters on this topic are nasty flames, criticizing me personally for ever doing what Debito.org has been doing for (as of April) fifteen years now. And it’s also a useful exercise to think about why we do the things that we do.
Eric C: Thank you on behalf of all NJ who have lived in Japan or are living in Japan. You are doing brilliant work. I agree with almost everything you say and do and I am in awe of your energy, perseverance and spirit.
However, the more I read your site and columns and learn about your story, the more I find myself wondering why you keep trying. I lived in Japan for years and I did what you did, but on a lesser scale: I fought discrimination, xenophobia and racism as hard as I could. I like to think I gave as good as I got, if not better. I caused a fair bit of hell at my local kuyakusho, at immigration, with the police and with various random racist folks. That’s not to say I went around with a chip on my shoulder: I had a lot of Japanese friends, spoke the language well and really tried to fit in. But, finally, I decided to leave Japan and I don’t regret it. Not for a second. Every day I’m out of there, I give thanks that I had the balls and foresight to leave.
My question to you is why do you keep trying? I don’t want to be negative, but I think even you have to admit that Japan and the Japanese are not really going to change…
BUILDUP TO MY COLUMN THIS MONTH:
Powerpoint presentation on the J media-manufactured Myth of “Flyjin”; stats are in, lies are exposed
This week I gave a couple of presentations on my campus, one that I will share with everyone: It’s about the whole “Flyjin” phenomenon, where the Japanese media was outright accusing NJ of deserting their posts and fleeing Japan.
I’ve already written a column on this for the Japan Times (where I argued that if true, so what? It’s not as if NJ have been made to feel welcome or settled in Japan). But this time, now that the data is in, I argue that the phenomenon was a myth to begin with. Statistics show that a) NJ populations dropped most in ethnic groups (the Brazilians) that are not clustered around Touhoku to begin with, and b) the accusations in the Shuukanshi that NJ criminals were banding together to commit crime were false, as NJ crime dropped even further in 2011 (to levels not seen since 1993 — NPA crime statistics have to go as far back now as 1982 now to somehow depict a “rise”).
Also discussed are the unexamined hypocrisies of Ishihara scaring the public in 2000 about the probability of “foreigner riots” during a natural disaster (which never happened; the bigot still got re-elected a month after the disasters anyway), and the Japanese fleeing Bangkok during the flooding last October (taking their Thai workers with them; on special temporary visas of course). And other important information that got drowned out in the NJ blame game/scapegoating (such as other issues of discrimination, including hotel refusals of Japanese “flyjin” fleeing Touhoku, and more accurate facts from the ground).
Congratulations Donald Keene on getting Japanese citizenship. Now stop making yourself out to be somehow morally superior to NJ.
Good news. Congratulations to The Don for getting his Japanese citizenship, and on what looks to be an expedited schedule (of course; the guy is in his ninetieth year!). I think it’s good that an old man can realize his twilight dreams, and take advantage of opportunities that he has clearly earned as a contributor to Japan in the world.
That said, I don’t believe that gives him license to continuously bad-mouth other NJ, whom he yet again essentially accuses of desertion, according to the Asahi article trumpeting the news of his successful application below (translation mine):
“…[Keene] received Japanese Permanent Residency, but after the Great East Japan Earthquake, knowing about the large numbers of foreigners that distanced themselves from Japan, he said, ‘I came to Japan, where I will always stay. I believe in Japan, is what I wanted to broadcast.’”
The Yomiuri adds: Worried over the news that an increasing number of foreigners were leaving the country, Keene made up his mind to permanently live in Japan. “I wanted to endure the hardships with the Japanese, who had taken good care of me, at a difficult time like this,” he said… Starting next month, he will travel by ship to India and Africa for vacation.
Psych Today and DailyLife.com on “Microaggression”, an interesting way to look at subtle social “othering”
Two articles, one journalistic, one from scientists at Psychology Today, on “Microaggression”, and how subtle practices of social “othering” in everyday interactions are difficult to deal with without getting (or sounding) paranoid. It happens on a daily basis to minorities and people of differences in any culture, to be sure. But in Japan, methinks, it gets dismissed as merely a Japanese cultural practice (“curiosity”, the product of the ubiquitous “shimaguni konjou”, the way many Japanese reconfirm themselves as “different” and “unique” as defined in contrast to the NJ, etc.). It’s not necessarily a willful act of racialization (and I would put it down to more of a “dominant group” issue rather than a “White” issue, so the analysis can cross societies), but is is definitely an aggressive act of “othering” (as in, assuming through the line of questioning, and against all evidence to the contrary that comes out in conversation, that someone is “different”) on the micro level. And when it happens often enough, it become a macro phenomenon. The advantage is, in English, there is a word for it. Not in Japanese, which makes it tougher to deal with.
Psychology Today: The term racial microaggressions, was first coined by psychiatrist Chester Pierce, MD, in the 1970s. But the concept is also rooted in the work of Jack Dovidio, Ph.D. (Yale University) and Samuel Gaertner, Ph.D. (University of Delaware) in their formulation of aversive racism – many well-intentioned Whites consciously believe in and profess equality, but unconsciously act in a racist manner, particularly in ambiguous situations.
Racial microaggressions are the brief and everyday slights, insults, indignities and denigrating messages sent to people of color by well-intentioned White people who are unaware of the hidden messages being communicated. These messages may be sent verbally (“You speak good English.”), nonverbally (clutching one’s purse more tightly) or environmentally (symbols like the confederate flag or using American Indian mascots). Such communications are usually outside the level of conscious awareness of perpetrators. In the case of the flight attendant, I am sure that she believed she was acting with the best of intentions and probably felt aghast that someone would accuse her of such a horrendous act.
Our research and those of many social psychologists suggest that most people like the flight attendant, harbor unconscious biases and prejudices that leak out in many interpersonal situations and decision points. In other words, the attendant was acting with bias-she just didn’t know it. Getting perpetrators to realize that they are acting in a biased manner is a monumental task because (a) on a conscious level they see themselves as fair minded individuals who would never consciously discriminate, (b) they are genuinely not aware of their biases, and (c) their self image of being “a good moral human being” is assailed if they realize and acknowledge that they possess biased thoughts, attitudes and feelings that harm people of color.
To better understand the type and range of these incidents, my research team and other researchers are exploring the manifestation, dynamics and impact of microaggressions. We have begun documenting how African Americans, Asian Americans, American Indians and Latina(o) Americans who receive these everyday psychological slings and arrows experience an erosion of their mental health, job performance, classroom learning, the quality of social experience, and ultimately their standard of living…
… and finally…
Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 49: “Japan’s revolving-door immigration policy hard-wired to fail”
The Japan Times, Tuesday, March 6, 2012
JUST BE CAUSE
Japan’s revolving-door immigration policy hard-wired to fail
By DEBITO ARUDOU
Discussion and links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=10010
All for this month! Thanks for reading!
ARUDOU, Debito at www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 2, 2012 ENDS