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Hi Blog. When doing research last blog entry, on how Japan Times columnist Gregory Clark led the Apologist counterattack on criticism of Japan for institutionalized racism (as witnessed at the time by the Ana Bortz Case of 1998-9 and the Otaru Onsens Case of 1999-2005), I discovered that one of his most xenophobic columns, entitled “Problematic Global Standards” of November 1, 1999 (weeks after the Bortz verdict in Shizuoka District Court made clear that racism, none other, existed within these shores) has long been deleted from the Japan Times archive. I think after reading it you might understand why a publisher would be embarrassed for ever publishing it, but deletion from a newspaper archive without a retraction is simply not on. I happen to have a hard copy of it in my archives:
Let me also type it out in full now, so it becomes word-searchable by the search engines for posterity. Bigots, media fabricators, and profiteers like Clark deserve to be hoisted by their own petard. Enjoy. Arudou Debito
PROBLEMATIC GLOBAL STANDARDS
By Gregory Clark
The Japan Times, Monday, November 1, 1999
The Japanese are preoccupied nowadays with something called “global standards.” Spelled out clumsily in “katakana” English, “gurobaru sutandaado” has every implication of a backward, inferior Japan rightly despised by the civilized world for its failure to reform itself in our Western image.
It is true there are some Japanese standards that need to be reformed. The apathy towards social evils like “yakuza,” bike gangs and tobacco is one. Corruption in conservative political and business circles seems endless.
The education system could learn much not just from the West, but also from Taiwan or Singapore, particularly at the tertiary level.
But for every Japanese minus there is usually more than a more-than-compsenating plus. Over the years, the Japanese have evolved a value system that for all its faults has created the advanced and reasonably stable society that most of us come here to enjoy.
Or, to put it another way, for all the global standards that Japan should be emulating, there is usually any number of Japanese standards that the rest of us should emulate — particularly the ones that say people should be honest and reasonably polite to each other.
Which is where the sad story of the Hamamatsu jewelry shop owner fined recently for racial discrimination becomes relevant.
That Japan is remarkable for its lack of organized theft is no secret. One result is that even jewelry merchants feel little need to take little precautions.
Another is that Japan has become a paradise for Chinese, Vietnamese, Middle-Eastern and Latin American gangs keen to exploit this lack of precaution. To date they have managed to pull off close to 100 major jewelry heists, not to mention any number of big-haul raids on pachinko parlors.
With jewelry thefts, one ploy is to have someone, often a female accomplice, visit the targeted store in advance and pretend to show a purchasing interest while checking out details for the planned theft later.
Another is for the accomplice to create a disturbance, and while Japan’s fuss-sensitive shop assistants have their attention diverted, others in the gang pretending to be customers empty the unlocked display boxes.
Needless to say, this gives Japan’s jewelry merchants something of a problem. That some may have decided that their best defense is to ban all foreign-looking would-be customers from their stores is not very surprising.
But that, precisely, is where the man in Hamamatsu came unstuck. His district has a large Latin American-origin workforce. Having already suffered two robberies, he saw fit to deny entrance to a woman of Latin appearance who turned out to be a Brazilian journalist.
She also happened to be legalistic (another “global standard” Japan need not rush to adopt) and since Japan did not have a relevant law, the shop owner was charged under a U.N. antidiscrimination convention that Japan had signed. Found guilty, he was fined Y1.5 million.
No doubt the judge involved saw the U.N. connection as the ultimate in global standards. Many in the media here were equally enthusiastic. Few seem to have considered the corollary, namely that from now on not just the jewelers but anyone in the merchandise business will have to embrace another “global standard” — the one that says they should regard all customers as potential criminals to be welcomed with guns, guards, overhead cameras, and squinty-eyed vigilance.
True, discrimination against foreigners can be unpleasant, and in Japan it includes refusals to rent property. But as often as not, that is because they do not want to obey Japan’s rules and customs.
Refusal to respect the culture of a host nation is the worst form of antiforeign discrimination.
This clash between “global standards” and Japanese standards leaves its detritus in other areas.
Japanese standards say that there are times when an economy functions better if rival companies can get together, sometimes with customers, to agree on prices and market share. Unfettered competition can easily lead not just to monopolies, but also to very damaging “over-competition” (“kato kyoso”) as Japanese firms, with their strong survivalist ethic, struggle to keep alive.
But the “global standards” imposed on postwar Japan say otherwise. They insist that competition has to be free and unfettered. All and any cooperation between companies — the dreaded “dango” phenomenon — is a crime.
So Japan compromises. Dango that happen to be exposed are evil. The others are OK. What it should be doing is preventing dango that aim simply to jack up prices, while encouraging those that bring order to markets and help customers.
A recent victim of this expose standard was a small group of cast-iron pipe makers that had colluded on prices, mainly to rescue a weak competitor from bankruptcy. For its generosity, the group had its executives arrested and paraded as criminals.
Curious, the United States, which helped impose this anti-dango standard also condemned Fujitsu’s famous Y1 bid for a large Hiroshima computerization contract. The bid was a typical result of what can happen in Japan when competition is free and unfettered.
Nagging Western demands for unfettered competition in Japan’s finance industry and an end to government control over the banking system also led indirectly to the bubble economy and Japan’s current economic plight.
The same standards also managed to wreck the Asian economies two years ago, and then endorsed strong criticisms of Malaysia and Hong Kong for the state interventions that were crucial for rescuing those two economies from the wreckage imposed on them by Western speculators.
It’s time Japan, and much of the rest of the world, worked out their own standards.
Gregory Clark is president of Tama University
17 comments on “Resurrecting Gregory Clark’s embarrassingly xenophobic Japan Times column on “Global Standards” Nov 1, 1999, quietly deleted without retraction from JT Online archives”
OMG…He actually wrote “squinty eyed” in an article about Japan!
Seriously though, what an idiot!
Interesting…. If I’m not mistaken, he’s suggesting that Japan’s property bubble would have been prevented if Japan had rejected global standards of free and fair competition, and allowed some kind of “land cartel” to become established.
Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but is Clark proposing a return to feudalism?
No offence meant, and I am a fan of the site, but as a regular reader I am sometimes left to wonder when you and Gregory Clark (or Gregory Clark and you) are both going to get over this long running mutual public spat…
— You make it sound as if it’s something personal, a tiff just between us two. Nuh-uh. He’s fighting against your right to exist in Japan with equal rights and dignity. And I’m fighting against that. It’s not something to “get over”. It’s bigotry to combat. Duh?
the dreaded “dingo” phenomenon
What, did they eat our babies?
I know this is a serious issue and we shouldn’t be laughing, but… that spell check, it’ll get you every time. ^^;
— Argh! Typos dogging me.
> since Japan did not have a relevant law, the shop owner was charged under a U.N. antidiscrimination convention that Japan had signed. Found guilty, he was fined Y1.5 million.
Wait, so it is possible to held someone accountable under CERD alone?
— No, as usual, Clark doesn’t get the details of the case right. Here’s the judgment translated.
@ BlondeGuyInJapan #3
GC is a J-gov lackey who takes every opportunity to pocket the pieces of silver on offer for telling the rest of us that Japan is so special, basic human rights don’t apply to us here. He is ‘Apologist #1’ in my book. I have to confront his inverted racism/white guilt/treachery now, so that my children don’t have to (that is to say, so that my children will be recognized as ‘people’ rather than just ‘haafu’ Japanese).
Given that the Japan Times circulation is only in Japan and, I would guess, the main subscribers to it are Japanese (individuals or institutions), I wonder if Clark understands the irony of a foreigner telling Japanese people not to listen to foreigners.
By his example of the jewelry shop owner being previously robbed twice (he doesn’t say those previous crimes were perpetrated by non-Japanese but his silence implies it. I wonder if it was? Could Japanese people ever rob other Japanese people? I don’t think so!) he’s trying to defend racist exclusion of non-Japanese by Japanese. That’s what racism is.
The bottom line is that every other developed society in the world has decided that it’s NOT OK to treat people of minority races badly, by arbitrarily restricting them from the normal everyday activities that the others enjoy, because they are a minority race in the country where they live. That’s what racism is.
[Aside: Non-citizens (of any country) know that they are restricted from some activities that are reserved for citizens only, such as the right to vote in national elections. That’s fine, and not racist because it’s based on nationality, not race, and because there is nothing arbitrary about it.]
Imagine a jewelry shop in any major western country refusing to open it’s doors to black customers because of fear of ‘black crime’. That’s what racism is. I’m not saying it’s never happened, but we, as people of developed countries have decided that it will not be allowed, we have laws on the books, and there are strong repercussions for anyone who breaks the laws. Strong. Not a piddling 1.5 million yen.
[Aside: for readers not aware, that equals very roughly 15 thousand US dollars – I have a small suspicion that Clark intended to mislead some foreign readers by including the term ‘million’ here and not saying ‘YEN’, but instead writing the yen symbol, and without giving a conversion of what that would be in US dollars. ‘Million’ is impressive in English!]
Clark is not an expert on law. Not an expert on crime. Not an expert on international standards practices. Certainly not an expert on internationalization.
I forget, why are we listening to him again?
— Because he has a bully pulpit in the JT (one that is read quite well online in the best media archive in Japan), and some degree of pull in the vernacular and the bureaucracy due to his family history and connections. Not to mention, as I am archiving here, a record of embarrassing gaffes that have a habit of disappearing from the record in retrospect. He should be remembered for what he is: a long-term toady who has been rewarded very, very well for decades for being a self-loathing self-serving gaijin. He acts as a template for others to similarly sell themselves by denigrating others by ethnicity.
“No offence meant, and I am a fan of the site, but as a regular reader I am sometimes left to wonder when you and Gregory Clark (or Gregory Clark and you) are both going to get over this long running mutual public spat…”
Fantastic, thanks for the opportunity to make a point! And here it is:
In Japan for certain, but also in other places such as in the US with the idiotic media preoccupation with showing ‘both sides’ there seems to be a very dangerous tendency for those who’s ‘harmony’ is easily disturbed to think that there are valid differing points of view on all subjects. It urks me most when lay people apply this to scientific matters: ‘global warming: it’s just a theory’, but it is equally problematic in the case of repression and human rights: ‘the government’s right to protect the people from threats justifies our treatment of ‘. You can see it’s effect all over the world.
So here is some news for Blonde Guy: Most things, and I do mean most, are either right or wrong. The way we are treated as foreigners in Japan is wrong. Perhaps you live in an english teacher’s or diplomat’s bubble and don’t have to deal with it (too much). I don’t, and so I often do have to. There are not two sides to this, my rights are mine. Period.
I don’t know where to email you Mr. Debito. So please excuse me if I’m on the wrong site…I just wanted to suggest on issues regarding the Hague Cinvention Treaty…would you Help me in making this a topic in one of your columns?
Apparently, a lot are involved, a ,ot are frustrated and desperate regarding Japan’s judiciary…yesterday I was told right smack to my face by ‘help services’ over the phone that Japan is the most reacist country jn the world..though I wanted to admit he was right, I still felt that with a little hel
Why not try and make a difference? Who knows what changes could bring, right?
— I have written on the child abductions after divorce issue in the past. See Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE on Savoie Child Abduction Case and Japan’s “Disappeared Dads”, October 6, 2009.
I don’t disagree with the general thrust of your argument, but I really hate it when people say things like: “There are not two sides to this, my rights are mine. Period.”
I’m afraid the world isn’t that simple. Everybody has rights. Myriad, contradicting rights. The jewelry merchant could just as easily have said (and probably did at some point): “My shop is mine. Period. And I know for a fact that most Latinos who come in here are casing the joint. Would you let someone into your home if you had good reason to believe that they were planning to rob you?”
The idea that you have the absolute right not to be discriminated against simply because racism is bad is naive. Adultery is bad, but I do not have the absolute, legally enforceable right not to be cuckolded. Well, not in Japan or the West. In Indonesia matters would be different.
Western society has chosen to recognise your right not to be discriminated against is because it recognises that racial discrimination is especially pernicious. Pernicious enough that your right not to be discriminated against overrides the shopkeeper’s right to refuse customers he considers undesirable.
The problem we have in Japan is that, although Japan does have racial discrimination laws, they appear to be a foreign import rather than something that has arisen from Japan’s own awareness of the harm caused by racial discrimination. This is why, even though I sometimes disagree with him, I’m still a fan of Debito and his efforts to raise Japan’s awareness of the harm caused by racism.
— Thank you. But correction: Japan has no law in its civil or criminal code against racial discrimination, as we have said here for well over a decade now.
Forgive my ignorance, but I thought the shopkeeper was fined ¥1.5 million. (Or was that fine overturned on appeal?)
— No. There was no appeal. But that is not relevant. Do some reading. Just because there was a court victory does not mean there is a law. In fact, as it says in the court transcripts which you could read in English now (do consider doing so), the LACK of a domestic law was precisely the reason why the CERD was applied.
The jewelry merchant could just as easily have said (and probably did at some point): “My shop is mine. Period. And I know for a fact that most Latinos who come in here are casing the joint. Would you let someone into your home if you had good reason to believe that they were planning to rob you?”
I wish you’d just go and read the judgement on the case, it would only take you a couple of minutes and save you writing a load of bollocks.
‘With certain exceptions—such as placing merchandise in a
storehouse, or conducting mail-order sales (where the merchandise is introduced to customers)—managers who run stores like defendants’ do not have the freedom to restrict target customers, place restraints on who may enter.’
Since your house is not on the high street and open to the public, the comparison with the store is childish and the Japanese exceptionalist defence is irrelevent.
I bet GC may be one of the most annoying initials that give many NJ a curse. I found several hits when I googled Gregory Clark. Here’s the list of the individuals named GC:
1. Gregory Clark (economist)– a full-time professor at UC Davis, born and raised in Scotland
2. Gregory Clark, an American scholar of rhetoric and English at Bringham Young University.
3. Gregory (Greg) Clark, a Canadian Journalist(1892 – 1977)
4. Gregory, David Clark, a British Conservative Party politician, MP
5.Gregory S. Clark, House of Representatives(Re. Vt)
The one appearing frequently in JT is probably the worst one I have ever seen. It’s not even in the list.
Debito, couldn’t you use your influence at the JT to bring this kind of issue to the fore?
As one of their most widely-read contributors I’m sure you would have some sway in these matters.
What I’d most like to see though, is someone like Chris Johnson take up the issue in international media, and bring some global attention and gaiatsu to bear on this state-sanctioned apologist. I think it would shine a light on what most of us are up against in our struggles within this society.
@ Pitarou. You are of course quite wrong to say Japan has laws against discrimination.
Japan had only adopted the bare postmodern facade of westernization-what The Economist site that Icarus introduced to us on another thread as “Full Democracy” (haha)- before the Korean War kicked in and MacArthur and gang got distracted. Things like foreign residents’ rights in Japan (other than military personnel, who were basically excluded and exempt from e.g. Japanese courts) and deregulation of the insurance/pension market etc were not addressed or imposed. No time and of little importance at the time. They did not foresee millions of NJS settling in Japan 50 years later.
Thus, Japan has no law as it did not affect “Japanese”, only “outsiders”. We need more bi racial or NJ legislators, and they do exist, athough anathema to the Ishihara geriatrics.
@Debito & Baudrillard
I understand, now. I made the mistake of not drawing the distinction between domestic law, and international treaties that Japanese courts choose to apply. Thank you for clarifying.
Either you’re a highly trained speed reader, or you haven’t actually read the judgment yourself. It takes more than a couple of minutes.
I’m not inclined to get into a debate on this matter but, for the record, I think you missed my point entirely.
“Western society has chosen to recognise your right not to be discriminated against is because it recognises that racial discrimination is especially pernicious. Pernicious enough that your right not to be discriminated against overrides the shopkeeper’s right to refuse customers he considers undesirable.”
Interesting interpretation. I would have thought that it had more do to with the right to a fair trial or having to actually commit a crime prior to being accused of one.
I recall a particularly obnoxious cop in Eugene, Oregon–who after blocks of unsuccessful attempts to catch me in the act, and having raced his squad car up another street at probably 80 mph to cut me off–stopped me on my bicycle one night and declared in his most authoritative voice, “You were about to bicycle on the street without a light.” Perhaps you both attended the same school of civics? Are you confusing things with some concept of Napoleonic law, ironically practiced in some countries south of the border?
Also, Pitarou, my understanding was that Japan does have a law against discrimination, but unfortunately they seem to have forgotten to attach any punishment to its violation.
As for Gregory Clark, and as Mexicans might say, “en mi pueblo lo conocemos por otro nombre.” Where do these people come from and why do they always seem to land in Japan?
— For the umpteenth time, Japan has no law in its Civil or Criminal Code against racial discrimination. Having a clause in its Constitution, alas, doesn’t count as an enforceable law.