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  • Colin Jones on NJ rights after the Supreme Court welfare verdict of July 2014: None but what MOJ bureaucrats grant you

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on August 6th, 2014

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    Hello Blog. In what is for me the best JT article of the year (and well worth bumping my JBC column to next week), Colin Jones lifts the lid off Japanese constitutional and legal history and shows definitively the evolution of rights for non-citizens (or lack thereof). Occasioned by the recent Japan Supreme Court verdict which states that NJ are not guaranteed social welfare, the article’s upshot is this:

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

    Think you’ve got rights as a foreigner in Japan? Well, it’s complicated
    The Japan Times, August 6, 2014, BY COLIN P.A. JONES

    Excerpt: This newspaper’s well-intentioned July 27 editorial declaring that the social safety net should be for all taxpayers is perfectly understandable — particularly given that the petitioner was an elderly Chinese who was born and spent her whole life here. Unfortunately, it is a mistake to equate feeding the maw of whatever tax-fueled Leviathan nation state you happen to live in with being entitled to anything from it in return. This is particularly true in Japan, where by law it is generally more important that one of your parents be Japanese than where you were born, raised or paid taxes. After all, being a dutiful taxpayer alone won’t get your visa renewed or keep you from getting kicked out of the country; why should it get you a welfare payment either?

    Thus, if you live here on a foreign passport, you might want to snuggle up in a comfy chair and read through the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, since for most purposes, that is your constitution. Having its roots in an Occupation-era decree modeled after U.S. immigration laws then in effect (missing some important features, as will be discussed later), the ICRRA did not become a “law” until 1982, when it was amended in connection with Japan’s accession to the U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. I say it is your constitution because in 1978, the Supreme Court acknowledged that most constitutional protections did extend to foreigners, but only within the framework of the immigration laws and regulations, including the broad administrative discretion granted by these to Ministry of Justice officials.

    So, you can pay your taxes, participate in that anti-nuclear demonstration and maybe even have a run-in or two with the cops, but at the end of the day your ability to live in Japan may ultimately be at the discretion of a bureaucrat’s view of some of the very subjective standards set forth in the immigration laws and regulations, such as whether you have been “good” or “engaged in the activities related to your residence status.” In my experience bureaucrats are generally nice, and most of the time it is probably more work for them to kick you out than to let you stay, particularly if you have a Japanese spouse and/or children. But it is probably safer to assume that you do not have any right to be in Japan; that being the case, assumptions about rights to welfare or just about anything else would seem equally suspect.

    It is worth bearing in mind that Japan’s Korean population was divested of its Japanese nationality by nothing more than a Ministry of Justice interpretation of the 1952 peace treaty — an interpretation that paid little heed to what effect that would have on the people effectively rendered stateless as a result. That was a different era, of course, but if push comes to shove in any dispute with the government, it is probably safe to expect that you will lose, and nothing in the Constitution will likely affect that outcome.

    This should be obvious to anyone familiar with Japan’s system of immigration detention and deportation, which exists in an parallel dimension where due-process requirements and the constitutional protections against arrest, detention and punishment do not apply, because the deprivations of freedom and deportations are not punitive and the administrative process by which cases are resolved are not “trials.”

    An Occupation-era ordinance that would have established a system of oversight through separate quasi-judicial commissions was never put into force, leaving the whole process comfortably within the control of the Ministry of Justice. In any case, by the logic of the Supreme Court decision mentioned above, those who are not in the country in accordance with the ICRRA may not be entitled to constitutional protections anyway.

    Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/08/06/issues/think-youve-got-rights-foreigner-japan-well-complicated/
    ////////////////////////////////

    COMMENT:  Well, this has been but one event in the death of the NJ communities by a thousand cuts (and the source of a number of smug comments by some saying “See, NJ really don’t belong in Japan, and if they want to, they should naturalize.”  As if it’s their fault for not doing so.  And as I’ve said before, that is no panacea; if you are a Visible Minority, you still will not receive equal treatment in Japanese society.)

    But what I’d like to have clarified is Colin’s point about whether or not people (particularly non-citizen permanent residents) who pay taxes really have no rights to expect the benefits from The State.  Although Colin’s approach is strictly legalist (naturally), I would conjecture that they do (I have seen first-hand how foreigners are allowed to have much greater senses of entitlement here, for example, in the United States) or at least should.  But the relativists (who insist that Japan is no outlier in this regard; they so want to be right in their own minds that they will even support unequal treatment that affects them adversely) will not take Debito.org seriously even if I start citing laws from overseas.

    So let me ask Debito.org Readers to assist me in doing a little research.  Let’s find some law journals and other academic research written by specialists that give comparative rights for non-citizen residents in an international light.  Here are two research questions, with research boundaries incorporated:

    • Are non-citizen residents (particularly permanent residents, as taxpayers) entitled to the same social welfare benefits (e.g., unemployment, child support, and other safety-net measures designed to  rescue citizens from destitution) in other developed countries?  (Let’s say the G8, or widen it out to the OECD if necessary.)  
    • Do guarantees of civil and human rights guaranteed in the national constitutions of developed countries also apply to “all people/residents”, including non-citizens, or are they strictly reserved for citizens, as they apparently are in Japan?

    Note that we are not looking for absolute equality (that’s impossible, otherwise there would be no benefit to citizenship).  But simply put:  Do foreign residents receive the same guarantee against various social adversities elsewhere as a legally-enshrined human right, or not?

    Please send us some links to some articles in the comments section, with pertinent excerpts/abstracts included.  Let’s spend some time researching this.  I’ll let this blog entry be the anchor site until next week, when my column comes out on how racial discrimination makes whole societies go crazy.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

    20 Responses to “Colin Jones on NJ rights after the Supreme Court welfare verdict of July 2014: None but what MOJ bureaucrats grant you”

    1. Mumei Says:

      > “See, NJ really don’t belong in Japan, and if they want to, they should naturalize.”

      That’s an easy thing to say. However, the main obstacle to naturalization is the requirement to relinquish other citizenships. I know many NJ who have expressed a desire to naturalize but are unwilling to give up other citizenships. Remove that ridiculous requirement and I’m sure that there will be a drastic increase in naturalization.

    2. Welp Says:

      “Do foreign residents receive the same guarantee against various social adversities elsewhere as a legally-enshrined human right, or not?”

      The UK for example provides the right to family life for all individuals, not just citizens – Japan certainly does not even entertain the notion that you have the right to reside in Japan because your family members reside here as well, be they citizens or not.
      America, for example, automatically confers permanent residency on spouses of citizens as soon as their spouse immigrates on a CR-1/IR-1 visa (spouse visa). In Japan there is no automatic path to permanent residency for spouses of citizens – the requirements /may/ be relaxed, but again, it really comes down to the mood the bureaucrat handling your case is in more than anything else.

    3. Welp Says:

      I should have mentioned as well, that Article 8 (the right to family life) is an article of the European convention on Human Rights, and is applicable to all signatories (all 48 Council of Europe member states). You can basically just go through http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_convention_on_human_rights and then sit back and wonder why you don’t even have a fraction of a percent of the rights in Japan that are accorded to all human beings in Europe – there are additional protocols that include prohibitions on discrimination, guarantees of freedom of religion, restriction of the death penalty, the right to appeal in criminal matters (deportations, anyone?), prohibitions of retrials in the case of acquittals (Japanese prosecutors would hate that one), compensation for victims of miscarriages of justice (that one too), and so on.

      Europe (and the west in general – yes, even the red-headed stepchild, America) really puts Japan to shame all around when it comes to recognizing all people as humans who also have basic rights.

    4. Chester Says:

      On one thread, a particular blogger who shall remain nameless was commenting, saying that “America is the same as Japan on this.”

      I looked it up, and it appeared that, yes, America does not offer federal-level benefits to non-citizens. In particular, Social Security benefits are designed specifically for citizens.

      What this particular blogger failed to notice, however, was that there are systems in place specifically to fill in this gap – a quick Google showed that California has a special welfare system set up just for non-citizens.

      I didn’t dig deeper than that. This particular blogger who was commenting is an especially disingenuous person – the last time I encountered him in a comments thread, he was unapologetically using racial slurs on a YouTube thread. So I didn’t really see a reason to spend any more time refuting him, since everything he said was a non sequitur to begin with.

      But, at the very least, there are SOME systems in America for non-citizens, though not all are available for non-citizens. Also, I do seem to recall some of the Bush regime’s lawyers arguing that non-citizens don’t have rights under the constitution as a way to justify Guantanamo Bay. So the America comparison is a bit more complicated, I think.

    5. Piglet Says:

      In France, social and public programs are based on residency rather than citizenship. There is even an health coverage system for illegal immigrants and homeless (which doesn’t depend on Social Security but on State funding). Restricting social benefits to French and European citizens alone has been for years in the political manifesto of the National Front far-right party (which is unfortunately getting strong support among the electorate). Such a program does not have the support of other political parties, and it is arguable that such a restriction would contravene European law anyway.

    6. Piglet Says:

      Concerning constitutional rights, the French constitution applies equally to citizens and non-citizens.
      Source: http://www.legislationline.org/topics/country/30/topic/10/subtopic/32

      “The main provisions relating to fundamental rights are included in the body of Constitutional laws which apply equally to citizens and non-citizens. The Constitution of the fifth Republic of 1958 has preserved integrally the principles and norms included in the Declaration des Droits de l’Homme of 1789 and the Preambule de la Constitution du 27 October 1946 as its own “Bill of Rights”. In these constitutional laws, are included norms about non-discrimination, equal rights of all to work at equal conditions, to health care and social security, to access to education. Thus Foreign children, regardless of the legal or not legal status of their parents have an inalienable right of access to public schooling in France according to its Constitutional laws.”

    7. James Annan Says:

      The underling issue is, I think, that japan doesn’t really get the concept of rights. At least, not personal rights. Pretty much everything takes place only with permission of the authorities, which is (for the most part) given, but it’s not because the individual actually had the right…

      So when the authorities decide against you, you are screwed with no recourse.

    8. dude Says:

      7 James Annan: You’ve captured it!
      In “group responsibility” Japan, individual rights are not only not valued, but the majority of Japanese people don’t have a clue whether they exist, or, if it is important that they exist.

      Carry this thought to its logical end:
      The majority rules, not based on logic or persuasion but because they are the majority.
      This is at the core of Japanese culture, therefore, difficult to remove, even surgically.
      Japanese people must remain the majority, at least in Japan.
      Granting foreigners rights erodes the rights enjoyed by Japanese people (they think).

      To be fair, Japan, Inc. will screw over its own people, if necessary or convenient, albeit they usually single out the disenfranchised, unconnected ones…

      If too many ‘foreigners’ start collecting pensions (that they have earned), what will stop the GOJ from just changing the law? Nothing…

    9. Doug Says:

      All persons, whether they be citizens or NJ, have the right of due process. This means you will always have the right to go to court. Going to court is a basic fundamental universal right.

      There is only way to take things out of the hands of the bureaucrats and law makers and to win your rights in Japan and that is to sue the MOJ and any and all immigration officials in court for any trivial reason and to pursue your case vigorously all the way to the Supreme Court and to get a ruling. Once the Supreme Court makes a ruling either in your favor or against you, then it is on the law books and will no longer be in the hands of the bureaucrats.

      There are only so many bureaucrats in the MOJ and they only have so many hours in a day. Yet on any given day, there are almost 1000 NJ in their offices getting their paper work renewed. In total there are 2.1 million NJ in Japan. That number is at least 10,000 time larger than the total number of bureaucrats and all public officials in Japan.

      Once you take them to court on any matter, no matter how trivial it may seem, they still have to vigorously defend themselves in court which costs them time and money and time away from their desk. The important point is not whether you win, but whether you fight. They have a lot to loose(to you) and you have no rights anyway and nothing to loose except your time and your money. But you have a whole lot to gain. Because if they are lazy, or sick, or tired, or just don’t care and don’t defend themselves vigorously in court, they might loose their case which means you will win your case and possibly new and additional rights you never had before, like the right to vote or at a minimum gain the attention of a law maker who takes pity on your poor lot to submit bills on your behalf.

      Any win in your favor, no matter how small chips away at and ever so slowly errodes the most minute bit of bureaucratic power they have one atom at a time, otherwise, this would not be a law abiding country. And one court case after another, their hands become tied up as they loose their discretion and powers and you win your rights or at least what you think should be your rights by any other industrialized nation standards that does not openly and actively promote racism, discrimination and bigotry. There is no other avenue that you have other than due process.

      You have to tie them up in court and bog them down in the mud. Just sue them over any trivial matter you can think of and be prepared to fight a 7 year battle in court. They can throw an unlimited amount of yen at the problem, but they can’t throw an unlimited amount of time at the problem. The numbers are in the NJ’s favor. If you think something is “totally illegal” prove it in court but don’t be satisfied until you have a supreme court ruling in your favor because that is the only ruling that will stick.

      If you want to fight something in court, I will donate some money to the cause.

    10. Chester Says:

      You kind of have to remember: democracy has been in Japan LESS than 100 years. Unlike baseball, democracy is not simplistic and easy for everyone to understand. And note that baseball has taken a fascist flavor in Japan – with uniforms, and brutal practice schedules. Cultures don’t change that easily, and democracy is a very, very, very new idea here.

      My experience, is that a lot of people I know hate the government in Japan – but they don’t know HOW to fight the government. So it might also be possible that Japanese people understand human rights – but they don’t understand FIGHTING for human rights.

      And you have to remember, that’s how culture works: you can import one idea without importing another. Japanese people imported baseball, but they didn’t import sportsmanship. They imported suits, but they didn’t import a lot of the rules surrounding them. They imported pizza, but they didn’t import the decency to not-put mayonnaise on it.

      So, I have to disagree that the Japanese don’t understand or value human rights – but that the cultural systems that GO WITH human rights haven’t settled in completely. Democracy is still very, very young here.

      But there WERE human rights activists in Japan before the war. A lot of them came from my prefecture. Of course, many of these guys resembled white Americans – for example, Itagaki Taisuke was an activist for Japanese democracy – and also desperately wanted to invade Korea. So there was definitely a lot of “human rights for me, but those people over there aren’t actually human” going on in Japan, much like America.

      Of course, all that got crushed by the war. But even during the war, the state needed Kenpaitai secret police to maintain the status quo. So the past hundred-fifty years or so has been incredibly tumultuous for the Japanese people in terms of what human rights exists in this country.

      Japan is still a very young democracy, but I think it’s totally unfair to say that Japanese people just don’t get human rights.

    11. WanderingDave Says:

      James Annan in #7 is correct. In the grand scheme of human history, rights are a novel, abstract, and idealistic concept. Traditional human societies, which have evolved to defend the resources (especially land) of “my people” (all others be damned), have no truck with such concepts as “rights”. They deal instead in duties and privileges. And this is not pie in the sky, this is realpolitik — the powerful tell the weak what they need to do to earn their good graces, and the weak are afforded protection from various forms of hardship and hassle in exchange for doing what they are told.

      I really think Confucius would scoff at the notion of “rights”. I’d love to hear him debate John Locke. I think he’d say that “rights” are a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, an opiate of the masses sold under the guise of sublime philosophy, to hide the fact that we go about our days and do as we please entirely at the mercy of those powerful enough to do with us what [I]they[/] please. The trick for the powerful in the West is to keep up this illusion while at the same time using the weak for their own purposes.

      I think Jared Diamond figured out Japan better than anyone, the same way he figured out the rise of the West. Japan got very, very lucky geographically. Lush forests, ample rainfall, a climate cold enough to select out the lazy but not cold enough to be bitterly inhospitable, seas teeming with life, a large amount of livable land for an island group so far from any continental mainland, islands close enough to one another to allow travel between them, but none of them close enough to the mainland to allow easy invasion. Prof. Diamond explains how Japan was unique in supporting a dense population of nomadic hunter gatherers who made pottery (!) stably for tens of millennia. Diamond goes on to compare Japan’s complex and weighty set of social rules — and its fierce insularity — to the same features seen in the native peoples of the temperate-rainforest-clad Pacific Northwest, a place with very similar natural geography and climate to Japan. He speculates that many assumptions the Japanese approach the natural world and other people with were cultivated and entrenched long ago in the Jomon period, and that the sense Japanese people have of having a very different outlook on the world and their place in it from people from anywhere else may be quite well founded.

      It may very well be that Japan is one of the best and only examples of Confucius’ (and many others) idea of a benevolent dictatorship coming to fruition. It’s a place that almost always had enough for everyone, and perfected a complex and largely native system for distributing it quasi-equitably in a top-down fashion, so as to reduce the potential for unrest (wa, harmony!). They were able to do this because they had no influx of newcomers to disrupt this system and plunder the place’s ample food, water, and lumber. They never had any need to evolve the concept of rights, because they were able to live stably with only the old fashioned notions of privileges of in-group membership garnered by loyalty to the tribe.

      So they signed a UN declaration? Whoop-de-doo. This is kind of like saying my local mob boss stops at zebra crossings for old ladies. Even if he’s untouchable enough to run her down for sport, he knows making a show of following the little rules of getting along make it a lot easier to break the big ones when no one’s looking. Suppose Japan had won WWII and rewritten the US constitution, to include verbiage referring to “the individual’s duty to the government, and the privileges he shall receive upon fulfillment thereof…”. The American people and their puppet local government would just chortle and shrug and say, “Mkay, sure, we’ll sign that, whatever that means…” and then would have done things our way when our occupying masters weren’t looking.

    12. Anonymous Says:

      @WanderingDave #11 Yes, just as gazelles having “rights” to not be eaten by lions, is a fantasy, so too: the poor having “rights” to not be taken advantage of by the rich, is a fantasy.

      Your summary above, WanderingDave, is refreshingly realistic. Please do Wander in here to Debito’s more frequently. :)

      Here is a similar summary about our lack of rights, whether here in Japan or anywhere, by George Carlin, enjoy:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9-R8T1SuG4

    13. Anonymous Says:

      PS – Since George Carlin explanation about all human beings’ lack of rights happened to include the Japanese Internment case in his summary above, I feel Debito readers should also know about the Niihau Incident which caused that, in which American citizens of Japanese ancestry became murderous against other Americans just by hearing a few sentences in Japanese from a Japanese soldier:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niihau_Incident

      In the official Navy report, authored by Navy Lieutenant C. B. Baldwin and dated January 26, 1942, Baldwin wrote, “The fact that the two Niʻihau Japanese who had previously shown no anti-American tendencies went to the aid of the pilot when Japanese domination of the island seemed possible, indicate likelihood that Japanese residents previously believed loyal to the United States may aid Japan if further Japanese attacks appear successful.”

      To tie this back to our discussion, it seems that the recent supreme court ruling by a Japanese judge shows that nothing has changed here in Japan, the loyalty of each person with Japanese ancestry favors those of Japanese ancestry.

      No equal rights for foreigners in Japan is what this supreme court ruling officially declares. The only surprise here is that now the Japanese majority doesn’t seem to care about the world majority knowing how deeply the racial discrimination is practiced, accepted, and officially approved, here in Japan in 2014. :(

    14. Enginerd Says:

      “Are non-citizen residents (particularly permanent residents, as taxpayers) entitled to the same social welfare benefits (e.g., unemployment, child support, and other safety-net measures designed to rescue citizens from destitution) in other developed countries? (Let’s say the G8, or widen it out to the OECD if necessary.)”

      I’m in Germany currently, but don’t quote me as perfect truth (not an expert on this topic, fortunately never had to rely on government assistance)

      First of all, there are several “tiers” of status for foreigners, basically asylum seeker, limited resident (ie. various visas) and unlimited residency. Each tier has their own attributes on what you can/cannot do and what assistance you can/cannot get. Also, due to the system of EU-integration, foreigners from EU member states are given preferred treatment compared to non-EU foreigners, almost to the level of native citizen.

      concerning the matter of social welfare benefits:

      Asylum seekers get a welfare equivalent assistance, yes. But this is unsurprisingly the lowest, most reglemented tier. You have no right to free residency, you are housed in a designated asylum house, and if you want to work you need the agencys approval for that (to prevent exploitation and labor-dumping, I guess). As you can imagine, society has the usual debates about this: (I’m exaggerating for demonstrative purposes) bleeding heart leftists are whining about how inhumane it is that we don’t give every foreigner that comes along immediately all the money we have, on the other hand cold hearted conservatives are all about how we should kick these useless and dangerous parasites out all at once (of course, they’re couching their language). The actual truth is probably somewhere in the middle: Asylum status IS meant to be a temporary relief so refugees can sit out the worst here in safety while eventually going back to their homelands, and as long as they’re here it’s probably best not to culturate a too simple and tempting dependency-reliance. After all, these really are people who have never paid a cent into the social systems (opposed to other working foreigners). And if they decide they really want to stay here, they can (after some time and stuff) “upgrade” to the next legal tier.

      non-EU foreigner:
      If you had a job before and have already paid a certain minimum amount/time into the social system, you can apply for most “regular” benefits. If you are basically just “fresh off the boat”, never had worked in Germany before and are basically just here to collect some of our sweet sweet welfare, you’ll probably just be kindly asked to leave and try to mooch off your homelands social system like you’re supposed to. Exception, if you come from some desolate warzone so we can’t humanely send you back, see asylum paragraph above.

      EU foreigner:
      Jackpot! Same thing as above, and we can’t really kick you out. You are eligible for all the welfare, unemployment, child support and other assistance you want, and depending on how you look at it, you can even get them without having ever paid into the system. This is actually a hot current issue, the EU is trying to push through this “coordinated union of social systems” stuff that means no EU-foreigner should be discriminated and denied any service that a native would get. Technically that could mean anybody could get any assistance from anywhere, but in reality it’s not like hordes of Germans are going to migrate to Romania and mooch off their social security, of course not because of the different social standarts in the different countries it does in effect always mean people are moving from poor countries to rich countries. You can imagine how popular this practice is among the gracious hosts (and that the EU, being mostly made up of those “lower” countries itself, is try to force this on us, to their benefit). The perception is that those countries are using this integration mechanism to “export” their social security cases, and the fact that you can even get child support and family assistance for Relatives who are not even here with you but in their home countries isn’t helping the case. A regular german doesn’t quite understand why he should subsidize not just you here, but also the large family you left back home in some romanian village.
      Now, that’s just of course the perception. How the reality is, if this “welfare tourism” is really an important problem, again depends on who you ask. Leftists are of course all about how this is just a RACIST bogeyman, conservatives would like you to believe it’s rampant and the downfall of our beautiful country is imminent. Again, I’m looking at it through the middle – no, most people who come here are probably honest folk who are looking for good work, pay taxes and should get all the hospitality – and compensation for their contributions – they deserve (after all, I’m also just one of those immigrants and Germany gave me the chance to prosper), but yes abuses do exist and need to be adressed. There really are bad apples, and if you allow them to fester and spoil it creates problematic areas (and I don’t think the problem is just that we hosts haven’t been accommodating enough and didn’t throw enough money at them to please integrate) like in german/french/english/etc inner city neighborhoods where I can actually almost understand Japanese sentiment that says “Well, if THIS is what immigration looks like, we’re better off having none of it…”

      “Do guarantees of civil and human rights guaranteed in the national constitutions of developed countries also apply to “all people/residents”, including non-citizens, or are they strictly reserved for citizens, as they apparently are in Japan?”

      The basic human rights stuff is guaranteed in the constitution. There’s also non-discrimination laws, of course. Details on “civic” stuff is understandably (as it pertains sovereignity) a bit more nuanced. For example, (EU) foreigners in residency may be allowed to vote in local county council elections. Certain business/tax stuff and other legal subtleties may involve some reservations and (common sense) restrictions though. But all in all, I as a naturalized citizen, had at no point felt much hindrance or obstacles. I am however not the official authority on this, of course, just a subjective experience.

    15. XY Says:

      I agree with the gist of earlier posters about the limited utility of rights talk in Japan. A very strong case can be made that even in liberal societies like US, UK, and Holland, the notion of rights has served more to justify and preserve pre-existing socioeconomic relations than to defend the downtrodden. It’s not practical for me to make an extended argument here, so I’ll direct anyone who’s interested to a few books: “Liberalism: A Counter-History” by Domenico Losurdo, “The Invention of Capitalism” by Michael Perelman, “The Racial Contract” by Charles W. Mills, and “Between Equal Rights” by China Mieville. The title of the last one comes from Marx’s maxim that between equal rights, force decides.

    16. john k Says:

      The main issue is that “rights” as western countries understand them, or rather its citizens, can be traced back to the Magna Carta of 1215…and in England, its roots even further back to several Dukes/Earls who gave their servants some rights, circa C8th onwards. The trouble is that this is ONLY for such countries and everyone tends to forget that Japan has never had such ‘rights’ for its citizens. This is not to say Japan has never had laws, because it has. The Taiho code in 702 and the Yoro code of 718 formed the basis of a “legal” system. But it was not equal for all, each “class” of citizen had different rules such as Daimyo’s, samurai etc….sound familiar??!! There has never really been the concept of equal rights for all no matter where one is in the society…even today. Especially when the social laws…from those Tahio/Yoro codes trump the new “legal” ones.

      In this day and age of instant travel and messaging which makes the world as large as the palm of our hands (for tablets/model phones for instant access etc), it is far too easy to assume that the laws which govern our own lands are the same everywhere else…clearly they are not. Years ago when travelling around the world, the first thing I would do is quickly establish the basic does and don’ts…from a social and legal stand point, just in case! Reason being it is not my country. Even when travelling in a country that speaks the same language as my mother tongue….beyond that, there are no more similarities…it is an easy trap to get caught into assuming the same language spoken = same laws/rights. I got pulled over by a policeman simply for walking across the street just as I normally did in the UK, nothing wrong with that…can’t do in the US!

      This is an interesting article reminding travellers of that very simple procedure, check before you go:

      “..Most Brits abroad risk flouting local laws by failing to research them before going on holiday, figures suggest…”Laws and customs vary widely from country to country and visitors should respect them to avoid causing offence or even being arrested…”

      My friends back home or work colleagues i liaise with all “assume” Japan is…well, the image that it bends over backwards to make sure you have of it….but when i explain some simple truths of Japan and the reality they tend to be rather shocked!

      * http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28677004

      In this technology and instant travel world, most people tend to forget that advances in technology does not mean an equal advance with social/legal laws of the country, just because it has technology.

      The same is true for democracy. Just being able to vote does not equal democracy. Democracy, the the ‘true’ sense, only occurs when the infrastructure and institutions are in place and have balances and cheeks to prevent abuse and with the separation of church and sate. Just look at Egypt, good example. If these are not in place…it may be called democracy..but not as we know it Jim :)

    17. dude Says:

      13 Anonymous –
      The Niihau Incident is an eye opener, to be sure. But it alone did not lead to the internment of Americans of Japanese origin (If it was such a big concern in Hawaii, more Japanese would have been interred in Hawaii, rather than on the mainland).The Black Dragon Society (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Dragon_Society) was the real reason. The Black Dragons, or Kokuryukai, were active in sabotage, and spying, in Japanese communities in the U.S. mainland and in Brazil.

      This article (http://www.sfmuseum.net/war/dewitt0.html) sums it up:

      2. The evacuation was impelled by military necessity. The security of the Pacific Coast continues to require the exclusion of Japanese from the area now prohibited to them and will so continue as long as that military necessity exists. The surprise attack at Pearl Harbor by the enemy crippled a major portion of the Pacific Fleet and exposed the West Coast to an attack which could not have been substantially impeded by defensive fleet operations. More than 115,000 persons of Japanese ancestry resided along the coast and were significantly concentrated near many highly sensitive installations essential to the war effort. Intelligence services records reflected the existence of hundreds of Japanese organizations in California, Washington, Oregon and Arizona which, prior to December 7, 1941, were actively engaged in advancing Japanese war aims. These records also disclosed that thousands of American-born Japanese had gone to Japan to receive their education and indoctrination there and had become rabidly pro-Japanese and then had returned to the United States. Emperor-worshipping ceremonies were commonly held and millions of dollars had flowed into the Japanese imperial war chest from the contributions freely made by Japanese here. The continued presence of a large, unassimilated, tightly knit and racial group, bound to an enemy nation by strong ties of race, culture, custom and religion along a frontier vulnerable to attack constituted a menace which had to be dealt with. Their loyalties were unknown and time was of the essence. The evident aspirations of the enemy emboldened by his recent successes made it worse than folly to have left any stone unturned in the building up of our defenses. It is better to have had this protection and not to have needed it than to have needed it an not to have had it – as we have learned to our sorrow.

      Note:
      Japan was nationalistic in the 1860’s.
      Japan was nationalistic through its occupation of Taiwan & Korea.
      Japan was nationalistic in WW2, and afterwards.
      in 2014 Japan is still denying foreigners & ethnic minorities equal rights, and exhibiting nationalistic tendencies… is anyone really surprised?

      So, you either have to “visibly” assimilate into Japanese society (difficult for non-Asians), or be an apologist to be accepted.

    18. Markus Says:

      @14, Enginerd, because you mention Germany. I happen to know a couple of Japanese in the Düsseldorf area (known as “little Tokyo” in Germany) who came there for work but apparently liked it so much they never returned. How did they do it? The key is to have a well-paid job, i.e. be able to support yourself long term, and not become a burden for the German taxpayer. If you are able to to that for five years in a row and there are no other problems (clean criminal record), then you automatically receive permanent residency (Niederlassungserlaubnis in German, translates as “permit to settle”). This is a status that is very hard to revoke, even if you do become unemployed and have to apply for government payments after the five year hurdle. If you have this “Niederlassungserlaubnis”, you will never have to deal with immigration again (immigration offices in Germany are quite unlike Shinagawa – it’s always a one on one meeting at the local “City Office” in a friendly setting, with people who can and will speak English to you. There’s free coffee too). You do not have to “extend” this status, it will be with you until the end.
      Best thing about a country of law is that nobody can deny you this thing without an official reason. There’s no “lottery” like in Japan where you have to beg for a longer extension and still might not get it. In Germany, and other EU countries, there are clear rules on all these processes, and should you be treated wrong or a mistake was made, the authorities in question have to explain themselves. As these are laws, you can go to court if needed.

    19. TJJ Says:

      The Supreme Court of Japan doesn’t even understand the notion of Human rights, so how can there be any useful discussion in the public forum?

      Yes, the Supreme court of Japan said that it is necessary to obtain nationality in order for basic human rights to be guaranteed in Japan.

      That is a fundamental misunderstanding of human rights. “Human” right apply to ALL humans. It’s in the name. How stupid can you get?

    20. john k Says:

      Don’t ya just love these grumpy old farts:

      “Conservative party to submit bill halting welfare for needy foreigners….Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations) said Tuesday it plans to submit a revised bill to the extraordinary Diet session this fall to exclude poverty-stricken non-Japanese residents from receiving welfare benefits..”**

      And as if that is not enough:

      “..The conservative opposition party, headed by Takeo Hiranuma, was officially established on Aug. 1 after breaking from Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party). Its basic policies, unveiled in July, include denying non-Japanese residents the right to vote in national or local elections as well as introducing stricter standards for foreigners to obtain citizenship…”

      Oh yeah, it is so easy to vote here and getting citizenship!!!

      ** http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/08/26/national/conservative-party-submit-bill-halting-welfare-needy-foreigners/

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