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  • DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 4, 2012

    Posted by arudou debito on June 5th, 2012

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    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 4, 2012

    Hi Newsletter Readers. Before I get to the table of contents, advance word about my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column, Tuesday, June 5, 2012. It follows up on my JBC column last month on “Microaggressions“ (see below), my most hotly-debated column ever (with >5200 Facebook “Likes” and nearly two weeks in the JT “Top Ten Most Read” online (nearly a week of that at #1)), an entire HAVE YOUR SAY reader response page, and a JT Poll on the subject that occasioned more than 6000 responses. Thanks very much for the debate, everyone. Opening paragraphs:

    ============ EXCERPT BEGINS ============
    APOLOGIAS OF APOLOGISM (title submitted to editor)
    Japan Times JBC #52 June 5, 2012, by ARUDOU, Debito

    Last month’s column on “Microaggressions” was my most debated yet. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    So this month let’s explore how the “microaggression” dynamic works in all societies, and why some people live in denial of it. Brace yourself for a bit of theory:

    All societies, when defining themselves, decide who is “us” and who is “them.” So do countries. In the name of sovereignty, nation-states must decide who is a “member” (i.e., a citizen) and who is “not” (i.e., a foreigner). (If they didn’t, there’d be no point to citizenship.)

    Nation-states also perpetuate themselves by creating a feeling of “community” for their citizens – national narratives, invented traditions, and official shared histories. So the concept of “Who is ‘us’?” gets created, reinforced, and generationally encoded through the media, public policy, primary education, etc.

    What about encoding “Who is ‘them’?” It is by nature a process of differentiation…
    ============ EXCERPT ENDS ============

    Now on with the Newsletter:

    Table of Contents
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////
    “MICROAGGRESSIONS”
    1) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column May 1, 2012, “Yes, I can use chopsticks: the everyday ‘microaggressions’ that grind us down”
    2) Japan Times HAVE YOUR SAY column solely devoted to the May 1 JBC column on “Microaggressions”
    3) Japan Times May 1, 2012 JBC “Microaggression” column now translated into Taiwanese Chinese.

    OTHER INTERESTING OPINIONS
    4) Baye McNeil’s “Loco in Yokohama” blog brings up uncomfortable truths in the debate on racism in Japan
    5) Iida Yumiko on the nation-state, and how it includes people in the national narrative for its own survival (or in Japan’s case, how it doesn’t)
    6) USG Asst Sec of State links post-divorce Japan child abductions with DPRK abductions of Japanese
    7) Discussion: Aly Rustom on “Ways to fix Japan”

    DEEPLY FLAWED OPINIONS
    8 ) JT Editorial: Tokyo Metro Govt fuels “Flyjin” myth with flawed survey; yet other NJ who should know better buy into it
    9) Yomiuri scaremongering: Foreign buyers snap up J land / Survey shows foreigners use Japanese names to hide acquisitions
    10) WSJ: “‘Expats’ Say Goodbye to Gaijin Card”, needs more research beyond “Expat” conceits
    11) Kyodo: Municipalities to deny services to illegal NJ; Kuchikomi: Rising NJ welfare chiselers “social parasites”

    … and finally…

    12) Commemorating the Japan Times Community Page’s 10th Anniversary, a brief column by Arudou Debito, May 8, 2012
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////

    By ARUDOU, Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
    Freely Forwardable

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

    “MICROAGGRESSIONS”

    1) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column May 1, 2012, “Yes, I can use chopsticks: the everyday ‘microaggressions’ that grind us down”

    JBC: Microagressions, particularly those of a racialized nature, are, according to Dr. Derald Wing Sue in Psychology Today (Oct. 5, 2010), “the brief and everyday slights, insults, indignities, and denigrating messages sent to (visible minorities) by well-intentioned (members of an ethnic majority in a society) who are unaware of the hidden messages being communicated.”

    They include, in Japan’s case, verbal cues (such as “You speak such good Japanese!” — after saying only a sentence or two — or “How long will you be in Japan?” regardless of whether a non-Japanese (NJ) might have lived the preponderance of their life here), nonverbal cues (people espying NJ and clutching their purse more tightly, or leaving the only empty train seat next to them), or environmental cues (media caricatures of NJ with exaggerated noses or excessive skin coloration, McDonald’s “Mr. James” mascot (JBC, Sept. 1, 2009)).

    Usually these are unconscious acts grounded in established discourses of interactions. Nobody “means” to make you feel alienated, different, out of place, or stereotyped.

    But microaggressions are also subtle societal self-enforcement mechanisms to put people “in their place.” For NJ, that “place” is usually the submissive status of “visitor” or “guest,” with the Japanese questioner assuming the dominant position of “host” or “cultural representative of all Japan.”

    It’s a powerful analytical tool. Now we have a word to describe why it gets discomfiting when people keep asking if you can use chopsticks (the assumption being that manual dexterity is linked to phenotype), or if you can eat nattō (same with taste buds), or if you’ll be going “home” soon (meaning Japan is just a temporary stop in your life and you don’t belong here). It can even help you realize why it’s so difficult for the NJ long-termer to become a senpai in the workplace (since NJ subordination is so constant and renewed in daily interaction that it becomes normalized).

    Now let’s consider microaggression’s effects. Dr. Sue’s research suggests that subtle “microinsults and microinvalidations are potentially more harmful (than overt, conscious acts of racism) because of their invisibility, which puts (visible minorities) in a psychological bind.”

    Rest of the article and continuing commentary at
    http://www.debito.org/?p=10168

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

    2) Japan Times HAVE YOUR SAY column solely devoted to the May 1 JBC column on “Microaggressions”

    The Japan Times on May 22 devoted its entire community page column section to reader responses regarding my May 1, 2012 Just Be Cause column on “Microaggressions”. (And yes, most listed were actually quite positive.) I think that’s plenty today for a blog entry. Have a read starting from http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120522hs.html and feel free to comment on them below (if you wish to comment on the article itself on Debito.org, go here). And yes, the old column once again got put back in the JT Online Top Ten Most Read Stories! Thanks for reading and commenting, everyone!

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10240

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

    3) Japan Times May 1, 2012 JBC “Microaggression” column now translated into Taiwanese Chinese

    Someone in Taiwan named “Chopsticks Master” said they got a lot out of my most recent Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column on “Microaggressions”, and kindly translated it into Taiwanese Chinese. Thanks very much! I can’t read the Chinese myself, but FYI, pass it around if you like. Any more languages out there people want to translate it into?

    I won’t excerpt it here due to potential mojibake. See it and the discussion on it here:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10233

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

    OTHER INTERESTING OPINIONS

    4) Baye McNeil’s “Loco in Yokohama” blog brings up uncomfortable truths in the debate on racism in Japan

    Since the debate on “Microaggressions” and racialized treatment of people in Japan went into full swing over the past month, one other blog has been offering a good deal of insight as to how people are ultracentrifuged for special treatment in Japan by race, and how those people being ultracentrifuged likewise treat each other in a racialized manner. Such are the habits fostered by this dread social disease called racism, and in Japan’s case it’s good to have a different take on it at last.

    Baye McNeil, author of the new book “HI, MY NAME IS LOCO AND I AM A RACIST”, has a dynamic blog called “Loco in Yokohama” I think you ought to check out. He writes about racism in Japan with a fresh brazenness that I think many Debito.org Readers might find interesting. His 4-part (so far) series entitled, “Why do Gaijin Clash Over the Issue of Racism in Japan” is what drew me in.

    Links and quick summaries of those four parts below, and you should read the posts in order. If you’re at all interested in how you (and your multiethnic children) are being slotted in the subordinated “gaijin” category in Japan not only by Japanese, but by other NJ, you will want to read these and have a think.

    Also interesting is our respective positions in the blogosphere. As Baye himself points out, I’m White, and he’s Black (or whatever label you want to use: Caucasian/African-American etc.), and how we get treated by NJ as vehicles of the debate is a facet little covered in discussion (case in point: the “Tepido” Stalkers are friendly towards him, natch — ‘cos they don’t to be branded as “racists”). So let’s read some Baye and cue up on that issue before we get into my next Japan Times Just Be Cause Column (out June 5), where I will offer “Microaggressions Part Two”.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10248

    NB: The “Stalker Site” went defunct soon after this blog post came out.

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

    5) Iida Yumiko on the nation-state, and how it includes people in the national narrative for its own survival (or in Japan’s case, how it doesn’t)

    Simplifying Dr. Iida’s points: Every country has to convince the people who live within it to accept that a) there is a country that they are members of, and b) that there are rules they have to follow in order to be members (obeying the laws, paying taxes, potentially giving up one’s life to defend it, etc.). When power becomes this unquestioned, it becomes (to use Gramsci’s word) “hegemonic”, in other words, normal enough to be invisible and generally unquestioned. Almost all people on this planet, born into a nation-state, accept that they are members of one country of another (by dint of having a passport, a tax home, accountability before the law etc.) and play by the rules because that’s how they were socialized.

    But there is a give-and-take here. The nation-state must give its members four things in order for them to adopt the rules of play and pass them down to the next generation. These are, according to Iida above:

    1) A shared memory of the past (i.e., a national narrative) that links them all,
    2) A sense of community, with moral obligations to it,
    3) A world view that makes sense,
    4) Hope for the future that other people share.

    Fine. Now, as this relates to Debito.org: What do NJ in Japan get? None of this, really. And that’s why NJ are given incentives not to stay: It goes beyond mere “alienation” — it is a fundamental, egregious, and probably fatal flaw in Japan’s nation-state dynamic of eliminating newcomers from the national narrative.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10215

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

    6) USG Asst Sec of State links post-divorce Japan child abductions with DPRK abductions of Japanese

    Some news on the Japan Child Abductions Issue, where Japan has long set itself up as a safe haven for one parent to abscond with their child following separation or divorce (regardless of whether the marriage was international or domestic), what with no joint custody and no guaranteed child visitation in Japan. Thanks to the Koseki Family Registry system, the divorced couple becomes strangers to each other, and children go on only one parent’s koseki (with the other parent losing all legal title and access to their kids unless the custodial parent approves). In cases of international/intercontinental separation or divorce, the Japanese partner can abduct their child to Japan (since Japan is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, and the Japanese embassy does not enforceably require the permission of both parents to issue a Japanese child a Japanese passport), and that’s it — the kids are gone. Japanese courts have always ruled that the absconder has established “habitual residence” in Japan by dint, so who dares wins. Meanwhile, despite international protests about the GOJ not being a signatory to the Hague, Japan has been dragging its feet for years now on signing (and as I have argued in the past, will probably caveat its way out of enforcing it anyway, as it has done with other treaties (like the CERD and the ICCPR)).

    Finally, enough has become enough for sensible people. According to articles below, US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell has once again come out in public making a link between the irony of all the tragedymaking regarding Japanese being kidnapped decades ago by the DPRK (which is indeed a tragedy, yes), yet the lack of tragedy over Japanese still kidnapping international kids. Good. We’ve made that comparison before here on Debito.org, and were roundly condemned by the usual suspects for doing so. (And, as a related tangent, I’ve probably criticized the most by people misquoting me as advocating that foreigners shouldn’t marry Japanese. No, for the record, I’m saying NOBODY, Japanese or NJ, should get married and have children under the insane family law system in Japan; the risks are too great if parents separate).

    As per articles below, the Japanese press is of course rallying the public behind the home team via editorial camouflaged as news (it’s hard to discern even what Campbell actually said). It’s even trying to instruct the Japanese public how English is different than Japanese. You see, if a North Korean kidnaps a Japanese, its “abduction” (rachi). But if a Japanese kidnaps an international child, its “tsuresari” (taking along and disappearing). But you see, the English language is inflexible — it only has one word for this action: “abduction”. So it’s all one big “linguistic misunderstanding”. Even though, in either case, abduction is what it is.

    And if you really want to take this issue to the next level of linkage, consider this comment from a friend:

    “As noted in Wikipedia, “In 1944, the Japanese authorities extended the mobilization of Japanese civilians for labor to the Korean peninsula. Of the 5,400,000 Koreans conscripted, about 670,000 were taken to mainland Japan . . .” And the Japanese have the audacity to complain about 20 or so Japanese abducted to North Korea? The Japanese government should apologize and compensate the 5 million Koreans conscripted 70 years ago before uttering a single word about the actions of North Korea 35 years ago.”

    So underlying all of this is an issue of hypocrisy, and now the GOJ is probably going to have to resort to its only real defense when cornered on an issue: agonistic posturing and outrage — trying to derail the issue in favor of maintaining “The Relationship”. People have fallen for this before (after all, the US wants to keep its military bases and its market to sell inter alia weaponry). But I’m not sure this issue is really big enough (I think Masumoto has an inflated sense of his own power) to do that. Let’s keep our eyes on this one, since it’s a good case study of gaiatsu and GOJ policy in the making.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10191

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

    7) Discussion: Aly Rustom on “Ways to fix Japan”

    Rustom: It has taken me over a year to write this piece. I have put my heart and soul into making this reading as concise as possible. This is a small essay on the problems of Japan, and my personal opinion on how to fix them.

    These days, Japan is suffering from a lot of socioeconomic problems. Whenever I talk to people and ask how can we fix them, no one ever has an answer. Everyone just folds their arms, tilts their head and says “Muzukashii” (Its difficult) Well, I do have a few solutions.
    I have written a small piece here on how to solve these problems. I have written this as a foreigner who has lived in Japan for over ten years and has the unique perspective of looking at things from both the inside and the outside.

    It is not my intention to try to tell Japan or it’s people what to do. Nor do I have any delusions of grandeur that the Japanese will all of a sudden sit up and take notice of what I have to say. I am only writing this to show that there are concrete steps that can be taken to heal Japan, and that all it takes is a little bit of thinking outside the box to make this happen. I am also hoping that this small piece will at least start up some degree of discourse which will eventually lead to some level of action sometime in the future. I also felt the need to vent, as I see a beautiful country being destroyed since no one wants to take the helm and do what needs to be done. So without further ado, let’s start:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10229

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

    DEEPLY FLAWED OPINIONS

    8 ) JT Editorial: Tokyo Metro Govt fuels “Flyjin” myth with flawed survey; yet other NJ who should know better buy into it

    The Japan Times came out with an editorial last Sunday, entitled “Flyjin rather few,” which talked about a recent Tokyo Metropolitan Government survey of NJ in Tokyo, carried out to ascertain how many stayed or left after the disasters of March 2011 and beyond. The survey was trying to see if the “Flyjin” phenomenon really happened, and in doing so, the JT notes, potentially resuscitated the invective of Japanese media and xenophobic pundits branding NJ as deserters.

    The JT editorial is a doozy. Not only does it demonstrate that “the vast majority of foreigners in Tokyo stayed right where they were — in Tokyo”, it also castigates the whole thought process behind it: “The survey did little to focus on what can be done to ensure that all residents of Tokyo be given clear information about conditions and constructive advice about what to do in the event a similar disaster strikes in Tokyo in the near future.”

    “The ‘flyjin’ issue, besides being a derogatory term, was always a tempest in a teapot. Surveys that find information to help improve communications are important, but it is the actions that follow that really count. The metropolitan government should prepare a means to give all residents of Tokyo, whatever nationality they are, trustworthy information during emergencies so safe, sensible decisions can be made.”

    In other words, the JT was easily able to see through the stupid science (e.g., the singling out of NJ, the small sample size, limiting it to Tokyo residents, the lack of clear aim or rigor in methodology, and ultimately its lack of conclusion: “The survey did little to better understand all Tokyoites’ complicated reactions to the crisis.”)

    Yet people who should know better, and who should be advocating for the needs of the NJ Communities in Japan, are already citing this survey as somehow indicative. Japan Probe, for example, states that this survey “confirms Post-3/11 “Flyjin” Phenomenon / 25 Percent of Tokyo’s Foreign Residents Fled”, and apparently “deals a major blow to certain bloggers who have claimed that the “flyjin” phenomenon was a myth”.

    One of those certain bloggers indeedy would be me. And I gave much harder and rigorous numbers from all of Japan and from the central government and for the entire year, clearly exposing the “Flyjin” phenomenon as myth in my April Japan Times column. Hence, there’s no clearer interpretation of Japan Probe’s conclusion than the will to live in obtuse denial.

    But that’s what keeps hatenas hovering around my head. Wouldn’t it be nicer if online resources like Japan Probe (which calls itself “The web’s no.1 source for Japan-related news and entertainment”) would work for the good of the NJ communities it purports to inform? It did do so once upon a time, for example, during the whole GAIJIN HANZAI mook debacle, where Japan Probe was instrumental in helping get the racist magazine on foreign crime off the shelves and the publisher bankrupted. But now, why try so hard, as the Japan Times Editorial above saliently notes, “to exaggerate the extent of foreigners leaving the country and impugn their motives for leaving”?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10181

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    9) Yomiuri scaremongering: Foreign buyers snap up J land / Survey shows foreigners use Japanese names to hide acquisitions

    Dear Debito: Just found the article linked below on Yomiuri’s website which gives some food for thought. The article comments on Yomiuri’s own survey in which prefectural governments were asked “about the number of land acquisitions by foreigners and the size of the land acquired” The article also includes the usual ingredients for fear mongering, starting with:

    “In one example in which a Japanese name was used to disguise a land transaction, a Chinese in his 40s living in Sapporo bought 14 hectares of mountain forest and other lands near the Niseko area in Hokkaido last autumn. For this transaction, he used the name of a Japanese real estate company.”
    and concluding with:
    “It’s necessary to establish an ordinance on land transactions at a local level so that local governments are fully aware of the owners of land and water sources,” said Makoto Ebina, a professor at Otaru University of Commerce who participated in a discussion on the ordinance in Hokkaido.”However, as many land transactions are unclear because names are borrowed, it’s important to carefully check out each transaction,” Ebina said.

    The title of the article which reads ” Foreign buyers snap up land / Survey shows many people use Japanese names to hide acquisitions” already says it all actually. The only thing missing was a link to Ishihara’s bid for donations to buy the Senkaku islands which can be found here >> http://www.metro.tokyo.jp/INET/OSHIRASE/2012/04/20m4r200.htm and here http://www.chijihon.metro.tokyo.jp/senkaku.htm

    COMMENT: One other thing I will point out is that although this has been made a fuss of before (back in 2010, particularly regarding water supply — after all, like domestic ethnic minorities were erroneously accused of doing during the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, foreign buyers might poison it!), it’s ironic that now people are getting scared about foreigners buying up, say, Niseko — for that’s been going on for quite awhile, up to now a lot of Australians etc. (who for reasons unfathomable to me love snow ) making the purchases. While there were some expected grumbles from the locals, it wasn’t seen as “an issue of national security” until now.

    Aha, but there you go. There are foreigners and then there are FOREIGNERS! In this case, it’s apparently those sneaky Chinese we have to fear. Gotcha. Makes perfect sense if you’re a Japanese policymaker, a xenophobe who thinks that Chinese are trying to carve up Japan, or an editor at the Yomiuri, I guess. Good company to be within.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10163

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    10) WSJ: “‘Expats’ Say Goodbye to Gaijin Card”, needs more research beyond “Expat” conceits

    Here we have the Wall Street Journal up to its old tricks: Representing the “Expat” community’s attitudes towards Japan, doing “Japan Real Time” research that is essentially navel-gazing about Japan from a skyscraper window (or a computer screen, as it were).

    Even though the reporter, Sarah Berlow, parrots much of the net-researched stuff (courtesy of the GOJ, sharing the same blinkered viewpoint of life in Japan for NJ residents) accurately, check this bit out:

    “New residents will instead be given a “residence card” similar to the ones Japanese citizens carry, except for a special marking designating the holder’s nationality.”
    Err… wrong. Japanese citizens have no residence cards to carry, as we’ve discussed here on Debito.org for years.

    And how about this: “These new changes come as the government attempts to increase this number [of foreigners entering Japan], to an “era of 25 million foreign visitors to Japan” by 2020, a goal established in 2011.”

    Err… foreign tourists never had to carry Gaijin Cards in the first place (only people who had to register with residency visas of three months and up), so these changes have no connection and will have no effect. Does Ms. Berlow even have a residency visa in Japan so she might know about this from personal experience? If not, there are whole books on this, ones so easy even the busy-getting-rich-off-their-Expat-packages-and-enjoying-their-Expat-Bubble-Enclaves Expats can read them (cf. HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS), so bone up.

    And there is no mention of the RIFD Gaijin Card Chipping for the new “Gaijin Residency Cards” only, something I’ve made a fuss about in the past. Ms. Berlow uses the word “track” in regards to NJ within the article, which is appropriate, for reasons she probably didn’t research enough to anticipate. RFID enables remote tracking of people’s credit card numbers, to begin with.

    And with technological advances, as I’ve argued before, it is only a matter of time and degree before it’s capable at long distances — if it’s not already. Don your tinfoil hats, but RFID technology is already being used in military drone guidance systems for long-distance precision targeting. You think the GOJ’s going to abdicate its wet-dream ability to keep physical track of potential foreign “illegal overstayers”, now that it has the ability to RFID chip every foreign resident from now on? Oh well, the “Expats” need not worry. They’re not in Japan forever.

    Finally, what’s the reason I’m jumping on the WSJ so much? Because, as I’ve said, they’re up to their old tricks. Don’t forget, it was the WSJ who first broke (and legitimized in English and Japanese) the story about the fictitious “Flyjin” Phenomenon, setting the agenda to tar the NJ who left (or worse, stayed for the stigma). Thus the WSJ’s record of “spoiling things” for NJ in Japan is on par with what critics claim Debito.org does. Sorry, we might not have their media reach or legitimacy, but at least we do better research here, for free. That’s a deal even a non-”Expat” can afford.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10242

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    11) Kyodo: Municipalities to deny services to illegal NJ; Kuchikomi: Rising NJ welfare chiselers “social parasites”

    We’ve had a discussion recently as part of Debito.org Comments about one of the side-effects of Japan’s new residency-certificate registration (juuminhyou) coming up in July. People suspect that the GOJ is using this revision as a means not only to make sure that local governments aren’t being “soft” on NJ visa overstayers (by denying them benefits even the Kyodo article below acknowledges they are entitled to), but also to check whether all NJ residents are registered and paying into Japan’s social insurance system. This is controversial because plenty of Japanese also opt out of the system, and also because it will possibly become a means to say, “Pay in or no visa renewal,” something that citizens obviously cannot be threatened with.

    This is yet another example of social Othering on a policy level (if you want to tighten things up, you should do it across the board for everyone in Japan, not just NJ), not to mention with some pretty stiff potential penalties (back paying into the system may run into the tens and hundreds of man yen, which can be financially insurmountable, and unjust especially when some employers in Japan have conveniently forgotten to pay in their half of the NJ employee’s social insurance when hiring NJ full time). Thus NJ get uprooted from Japan due to their employer’s negligence.

    I for one haven’t done enough research on what’s going to happen in coming months under the new system (my scrivener colleague in the visa industry himself too is waiting and seeing), but when it becomes plainer it’ll be discussed here. What IS plainer is that the Japanese media is already gearing up to portray the perpetual scapegoats for Japan’s social ills — NJ — this time as welfare spongers and social parasites. See the second article below.

    Note that all of the things that are being alleged against foreign “welfare chiselers” in that article I’ve heard and seen being done by Japanese too (especially the fake marriage bit — but what’s not covered in the article is how a NJ visa changes when a divorce occurs, so it’s not that “easy”). But one need not mention that inconvenient detail. NJ shouldn’t be here anyway if they’re going to commit, er, the same crimes that Japanese commit. Once again, social Othering and scapegoating of a disenfranchised minority is SOP in Japan for lots of social ills — and worse yet, the specter of “foreign hordes taking advantage of Japan’s overgenerous system” sells newspapers and alienates the aliens. Nothing less than media-bred xenophobia.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10135

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    … and finally…

    12) Commemorating the Japan Times Community Page’s 10th Anniversary, a brief column by Arudou Debito, May 8, 2012

    As the very popular and quite influential Community Page at the Japan Times celebrated its 10th Anniversary this week, I was asked (along with their former editor and best reporter) to say a few words as their featured columnist (now for four years plus). Here’s what I said. There are links to other celebratory articles below that. Enjoy, and congrats Community Page. You’re doing great things. Thanks for being there for our writings, and for us.

    ZG: Having been an infrequent contributor to other publications, I was impressed by the comparative professionalism at The Japan Times: I was never forced to toe any editorial line by the Community Page (unlike, say, the vanity projects that pass for English-language newspapers at the Asahi and Yomiuri, who tend to take criticism of Japan in English by NJ authors as a personal affront). It was also nice that the JT paid its contributors the amount as promised promptly, something relatively rare in this business.

    Honesty has served the Community Page well. Over the past decade, we have had hundreds of contributors writing exposes on subjects few other domestic outlets would touch, including unequal hiring practices due to nationality, the merits of unionization, international divorces from the studiously ignored NJ partner’s perspective, the Japanese judiciary’s systematic discrimination against claimants based on race or social origin, the biased treatment of NJ crime by police and the media, public policies and government statements that latently and blatantly disenfranchise whole peoples in Japan, one’s rights under the law and revised visa regimes, and even new takes on the perennial debate over the epithet “gaijin.”

    Where else in our domestic media could this motley collection of journalists, scholars, pundits, activists and general malcontents consistently splash their views across a page (now two) every Tuesday — and have their presence permanently recorded in this country’s best online archive of English articles on Japan?

    For that matter, where else in Japan’s media does anyone even acknowledge that there is a “community” of NJ in Japan, or offer authoritative information specifically for the benefit of this community? Only here.

    Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=10193

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

    That’s all for this month. Thanks for reading! May good debates continue!
    Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 4, 2012 ENDS

    2 Responses to “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 4, 2012”

    1. DR Says:

      OFFLINE For your reference: http://enenews.com/japan-nuclear-expert-almost-8000-square-miles-like-radiation-control-area-after-fukushima

    2. hi Says:

      Hi. Have you read this article on the nuclear ambition of Japan?
      http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/s/article/2012062190070419.html?ref=rank
      Japan has changed its law to allow use of nuclear power for its national security.
      The clause 平和の目的に限り “only for the purpose of peace” is still in the law, but the meaning has totally changed. Previously it meant that nuclear power is allowed to be used “only for civil purpose”. Now it means “to defend peace”.
      I think this change will meet international criticism in light of nuclear nonproliferation treaty.
      I also wonder how many of ordinary Japanese know this major policy change of their government.

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