DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 1, 2016

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 1, 2016

Fundraising for Debito.org: 2016 20th Anniversary Campaign for Donations via Paypal

As Debito.org celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year in March, I want to thank Readers for all of their support throughout the decades. The research and archiving done here has helped thousands of people and enabled me to create books, including my recent magnum opus, “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books / Rowman & Littlefield, 2015/2016)

This year, and I would like to do something unprecedented: Launch a 20th Anniversary Fundraising Drive.

Naturally, there are costs of hosting and safeguarding against online elements who would sooner see Debito.org taken down (they succeeded in doing so once). There are also projects I would like to support if possible, and having funds available under the aegis of Debito.org would be beneficial for supporting this website further. So if over the years you have found the thousands of documents and information sites on Debito.org helpful, please consider giving something back for all the volunteer work. Donations by Paypal accepted. Please remit to debito@me.com at Paypal, and please indicate in a message there whether or not you would like your gift acknowledged on Debito.org (and if so, using what moniker). Thank you all again for reading and supporting Debito.org!
http://www.debito.org/?p=13748

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Table of Contents:

TIGHTENING THE NOOSE ON DOMESTIC DISSENT
1) ABC News Australia: Video on PM Abe’s secretive and ultra-conservative organization “Nippon Kaigi”
2) Sankei column by Okabe Noburu suggesting Japanese language tests for foreign correspondent visas, to weed out their “anti-Japan” biases
3) JT on corporate threats to student activists’ futures (SEALDs in particular); this is probably why they suddenly turned craven
4) O’Day in APJ: Japan Focus: “Differentiating SEALDs from Freeters, and Precariats: the politics of youth movements in contemporary Japan”

TRAGIC UPDATES
5) Suraj Case: Tokyo High Court rules Immigration Bureau not responsible for killing him during deportation
6) ALTs (“outsourced” English teachers) earning slave wages (or less) working for Japanese public schools
7) JT: Sakanaka argues success of ‘Abenomics’ hinges on immigration policy (old article from May 2014; not much has changed)
8 ) JT: Japan’s public baths hope foreign tourists and residents will keep taps running; oh, the irony!

TERRORISTIC XENOPHOBIA
9) Nagoya anonymous neighborhood poster warning of crime that “may have been committed by foreigners”: vigilantism that should be officially discouraged, but no.
10) Tangent: McNeill in No.1 Shimbun: “Into the Valley of the Trolls”: Is ignoring them really an effective strategy?

TRYING TO HELP
11) Asahi: Survey: Discrimination encountered by 42% of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward; Asahi wants NJ resident opinions
12) Asahi and JT: Osaka adopts Japan’s first anti-hate-speech ordinance
13) HJ on Mainichi article on “Preventing Illegal Hires of Foreigners”; what about campaigns to prevent illegal ABUSES of foreign workers?
14) Ben Shearon on RetireJapan, helping people living in Japan learn more about personal finance, investing, readying for retirement

… and finally…

15) My Japan Times JBC 95, “Osaka’s move on hate speech should be just the first step” Feb. 1, 2016
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By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito)
Newsletter Freely Forwardable

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TIGHTENING THE NOOSE ON DOMESTIC DISSENT

1) ABC News Australia: Video on PM Abe’s secretive and ultra-conservative organization “Nippon Kaigi”

Here is an excellent bit of investigative journalism done by the Australians on an organization that the USG would do well to do their own research on (and the US media pay due attention to): PM Abe’s Nippon Kaigi, which threatens to undo just about everything The Occupation did to demilitarize Postwar Japan and defang its self-destructive ultranationalism. Why hasn’t anyone else done a good in-depth report on them, even after this report came out over a year ago? Because it’s probably not something people want to believe–that the belligerent elements of Prewar Japan are not only ascendant, they are already well-organized within Japan’s highest echelons of government. A transcript follows, but I strongly recommend people click on the link and watch the video at the ABC News Australia Lateline program to get the full effect. http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2015/s4364818.htm

LATELINE: It’s been described as one of the most influential political organisations in Japan. Nippon Kaigi, or Japan Conference, has an impressive list of members and advisors, including the Prime Minister and much of his cabinet. But very little is known about this right-wing nationalist lobby group which aims to reshape Japanese politics and policies and even change the Constitution. It operates mostly out of the public eye, but North Asia correspondent Matthew Carney gained rare access to file this exclusive story for Lateline.

http://www.debito.org/?p=13806

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2) Sankei column by Okabe Noburu suggesting Japanese language tests for foreign correspondent visas, to weed out their “anti-Japan” biases

Here’s an interesting column by one of our favorite newspapers, the Sankei Shinbun, famous for its anti-foreigner slants. Their columnist, Okabe Noburu, Senior Reporter for Diplomatic Issues, links a lack of language ability in foreign reporters to their tendency to hold “anti-Japan” biases. In a meandering column that brings in all sorts of anti-immigration slants itself, Okabe finally reaches the conclusion that maybe Japan might make language tests a condition for visas for foreign correspondents. That way they’ll have a “correct” view of Japan. Without any intended irony, it seems that Okabe, who seems to claim competency in English (enough to pick on ethnic accents in English), holds biased views himself despite.

Okabe: After the war, because English people don’t like manual labor, they brought in immigrants from former colonies, such as Asia, Africa, and the West Indies, but recently there has been a huge influx of people from Eastern Europe and the Middle East, so British society’s multiculturalization and multiethnicification has been proceeding. The immigrant problem is one of a history of empire. The English spoken by this variety of races has several “country accents” mixed in, so it’s hard to understand. Even English has been hybridized.

When I applied for my visa I had to take an English test. As language ability had not been demanded of me as an exchange student in the 1990s or during my half-year posting in Russia in the 1990s, this struck me as odd. However, after being dispatched, I came to the painful realization that understanding England meant first acquiring the language.

Before being posted, I was a member of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan. I was pained to see foreign reporters who couldn’t function in Japanese broadcasting their “anti-Japan” slants to the world. How about Japan making Japanese language ability a condition for foreign correspondents getting a visa? It might lead to a correct understanding of Japan.

http://www.debito.org/?p=13713

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3) JT on corporate threats to student activists’ futures (SEALDs in particular); this is probably why they suddenly turned craven

JT: Opposition to the government’s aggressive push to loosen restrictions on the use of military force is being heard from many corners. The beacon for students opposing the bills has been the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy, or SEALDs. Under the slogan of protecting “freedom, peace and democracy,” these students have loudly voiced their opposition to the government’s push for militarization at protests around the country.

SEALDs have put paid to two tired tropes that have been regularly trotted out over the years about Japan’s students: first, that they have no interest in politics, and second, that student social movements here are a thing of the past. Inspired by SEALDs, even high schoolers and mothers who had never before engaged in social activism have taken to the streets to demand that our country commit to never again waging war, and that our youths are never asked to kill those of other countries. Jumping on the bandwagon have been the elderly, under the collective banner of OLDs, and even the middle-aged, or MIDDLEs.

This resolute, relentless movement has already begun to have a clear impact on our society. The recent drop in support for the Abe government is at least in part a result of grass-roots movements such as SEALDs. One Liberal Democratic Party member of the Lower House tweeted: “SEALDs members just don’t want to go off to war, i.e., their actions are based on extreme selfishness.” […]

For politicians chomping at the bit to deploy Japan’s forces overseas, SEALDs are apparently quite an irritant. An independent member of the Yukuhashi city assembly in Fukuoka Prefecture also stuck his foot firmly in his mouth when he riffed on a comment by one SEALDs member that “we tremble at the thought of going to war.” Shinya Kotsubo parodied it on his blog on July 26, titling his article “SEALDs members should tremble at the thought that they’ll never get a job.” He explained further, writing, “You are demonstrating now while you’re students, so don’t come crying when no one will hire you later on.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=13768

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4) O’Day in APJ: Japan Focus: “Differentiating SEALDs from Freeters, and Precariats: the politics of youth movements in contemporary Japan”

O’Day: SEALDs is suggesting that students can use some of the freedom that their positioning affords for political engagement, instead of channeling it into more traditional activities like sports clubs and social circles, that tend to dominate students’ leisure time. Yet SEALDs is also proposing something more significant than a reallocation of students’ time—they are also attempting to construct a different kind of political identity among college students. Another SEALDs member explained it this way:

“Our movement is not our life; it is a part of our life not our whole life. I went to class yesterday as usual, and we have rappers, people who do music, people who just study, people who are trying to be teachers, we have all kinds of people, and our movement is a part of what we do in our life but not our whole life. If you focus on the movement and movement only, you will become narrow.”

What this SEALDs member is suggesting is a reconfiguration of what constitutes student political identity. SEALDs is essentially showing other students that it is acceptable to seriously engage political ideas, without become radical, or having to completely devote themselves to the cause. SEALDs is challenging an all-or-nothing orientation to politics that tends to cleave most students into taking either an apolitical stance, or fully committing to a cause that will likely marginalize them. Instead, SEALDs is coming up the middle with a proposition that you can be a regular student, have conventional ambitions, aspire to a middleclass life, and still carve out a piece of yourself that is informed and engaged with political issues. If this proposition is hardly radical, it is currently resonating with a broad spectrum of students.

O’Day in APJ: Japan Focus: “Differentiating SEALDs from Freeters, and Precariats: the politics of youth movements in contemporary Japan”

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TRAGIC UPDATES

5) Suraj Case: Tokyo High Court rules Immigration Bureau not responsible for killing him during deportation

JT:  In a reversal, the Tokyo High Court determined Monday that the government was not responsible for the 2010 death of a Ghanaian alledgedly subjected to excessive force by immigration authorities while being deported. In overturning a lower court’s ruling, presiding Judge Izumi Takizawa said the level of physical force used by officials to restrain Abubakar Awudu Suraj, who was 45 years old at the time of his death, was “not illegal” and even “necessary.” “Immigration authorities’ effort to subdue him was necessary to ensure his deportation would go smoothly,” Takizawa said. “They are not culpable” for his death, the judge concluded.

COMMENT: This case has become a farce. The Tokyo High Court has just ruled that nobody is responsible for killing him. In the ultimate blaming of the victim, the judge, named Takizawa Izumi, essentially ruled it all an issue of heart failure. Just an accident. It was even, quote, “necessary.” Despite the Japan Times calling his death “brutal” back in 2011. Clearly human life is cheap if it’s foreign in a Japanese Gaijin Tank. Once again, NJ in Japan can be killed with impunity (more in “Embedded Racism”, Chapter Six).

http://www.debito.org/?p=13764

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6) ALTs (“outsourced” English teachers) earning slave wages (or less) working for Japanese public schools

This post deals with Government-sponsored slave wages (or worse) for NJ educators within the Japanese public school system through the cost-cutting “Assistant Language Teachers” (ALTs) “outsourcing” system–a backdoor way for local governments to get cheaper JETs than having to go through the national government’s JET Programme (where wages and work conditions are more fixed at a higher standard). The cost-cutting for the ALTs has gotten to the point (inevitably) where the ALTs are no longer being paid a living wage. Here’s the math in video form, courtesy of the Fukuoka General Union:

CAPTION: This is an actual example on how impossible it is to live on the salary of a dispatched ALT working at a Kitakyushu City Board of Education public school. Though they are full time teachers they only have 1000 yen a day to spend on food and nothing else. They just can’t survive on this low wage.
北九州市の市立中学校で働く派遣の語学指導助手の給料の実態。可処分収入は月3万円、­それはすべて食費に使うと1日1000円ぐらい。フルタイムの先生なのに貧困層。現実­です。

As further background to the ALT issue, here is a Japan Times Letter to the Editor by Chris Clancy:

http://www.debito.org/?p=13814

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7) JT: Sakanaka argues success of ‘Abenomics’ hinges on immigration policy (old article from May 2014; not much has changed)

Here’s an article that is about a year and a half old, but it’s remarkable how much the landscape of the debate on immigration into Japan has not changed since. We have immigration proponent Sakanaka Hidenori (of whom I am a fan: I cite him extensively in book “Embedded Racism”, and deal with the arguments below in Ch. 10) meeting with people who are only concerned about money, and arguing that immigration is also important for them to keep their fix. Meanwhile, from a political standpoint, it is clear in the article below that Abe and his power elite aren’t really going to budge on the issue either: To them, foreign residents are merely temporary workers, who should come here and contribute but not expect a stake in their investments into this society. Not really news, I guess, but the issue is laid out so nakedly clear here, especially in the last half of the article.:

JT: “What are immigrants? The U.S. is a country of immigrants who came from all around the world and formed the (United States). Many people have come to the country and become part of it. We won’t adopt a policy like that,” Abe said on a TV program aired April 20, [2014] “On the other hand, it is definitely true that Japan’s population will keep shrinking and Japan will see a labor shortage in various production fields,” Abe said, adding he will consider easing regulations on issuing three- to five-year visas. “It’s not an immigrant policy. We’d like them to work and raise incomes for a limited period of time, and then return home,” Abe said.

Among the core supporters of LDP lawmakers, including Abe himself, are nationalistic voters opposed to welcoming large numbers of unskilled foreign laborers, who are now barred from Japan. They fear that bringing in such people would increase the crime rate and deprive Japanese of job opportunities in the still-sluggish economy. This concern seems to be shared by a majority of Japanese. According to a poll by the daily Yomiuri Shimbun in April, while 74 percent of the 1,512 polled said they believe population decline will hurt Japan’s economy and contribute to its decline, 54 percent said they opposed bringing in more foreigners versus 37 percent who backed the idea.

http://www.debito.org/?p=13724

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8 ) JT: Japan’s public baths hope foreign tourists and residents will keep taps running; oh, the irony!

In yet another example of how Japan’s economy is not going to save itself unless it allows in and unlocks the potential of its foreign residents, here we have the flashpoint issue for “Japanese Only” signposted exclusionism: public baths (sento or onsen). As per the Otaru Onsens Case (which has inspired two books), we had people who did not “look Japanese” (including native-born and naturalized Japanese citizens) being refused by xenophobic and racist bathhouse managers just because they could (there is no law against it in Japan).

Now, according to the Japan Times below (in a woefully under-researched article), the bathhouse industry is reporting that they are in serious financial trouble (examples of this were apparent long ago: here’s one in Wakkanai, Hokkaido that refused “foreigners” until the day it went bankrupt). And now they want to attract foreign tourists. It’s a great metaphor for Japan’s lack of an immigration policy in general: Take their money (as tourists or temporary laborers), but don’t change the rules so that they are protected against wanton discrimination from the locals. It’s acceptance with a big, big asterisk.

Admittedly, this is another step in the right direction. But it’s one that should have been done decades ago (when we suggested that bathhouse rules simply be explained with multilingual signs; duh). But alas, there’s no outlawing the racists in Japan, so this is one consequence.

http://www.debito.org/?p=13740

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TERRORISTIC XENOPHOBIA

9) Nagoya anonymous neighborhood poster warning of crime that “may have been committed by foreigners”: vigilantism that should be officially discouraged, but no.

Submitter PC: “This notification was in my mailbox this morning… It says that there were a number of burglaries in my neighborhood the other day & it is believed that the criminal is a foreigner and to be careful about taking precautions… My first thought: how do they know it was a foreigner?!? My second thought was: what kind of message does this give to the children who live here? Is it only me that thinks this smacks of discrimination?”

The flyer reads (translation by Debito):
!! URGENT MESSAGE !!
! BREAK-INS WHEN YOU’RE NOT HOME ! (akisuu)
!! BE ON CLOSE GUARD !!
Today (January 29, 2016), there were several break-ins at our apartment complex.
It is thought that the culprits were foreigners, and there is a danger of them returning to commit more crimes.
Anti-crime measures by each family are a matter of course, but it is also very important for residents to watch out for each other and ask around.
Be on guard at all times.

COMMENT: I’m not sure which is worse: The thefts themselves, the anonymous warning, or the accusation that foreigners are behind it. Especially given that theft is the most common crime in Japan by far and it is almost always committed by Japanese. Again, these sorts of vigilante moves without anyone taking responsibility for spreading rumors are precisely what stir up passions and target people (sometimes with fatal consequences). This should be discouraged by the authorities, but unfortunately it isn’t. In fact, it’s precisely the same tactics the Japanese police use (see Arudou “Embedded Racism” Ch. 7).

http://www.debito.org/?p=13827

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10) Tangent: McNeill in No.1 Shimbun: “Into the Valley of the Trolls”: Is ignoring them really an effective strategy?

McNeill: For most correspondents, it has become an unpleasant morning ritual: opening the laptop and wading through abusive tweets and mail. One of my recent articles, on Japan’s plunging press-freedom rankings provoked this response: “You’re anti-Japanese scum. Japan grows weaker because left-wing traitors here mix with the likes of you. Get out, moron.”

That’s mild compared to the slurs that percolate on the Twitter feeds of star reporters. Hiroko Tabuchi, former Tokyo correspondent for the New York Times, recalls a stream of invective laced with sexual and ethnic smears (see sidebar).Justin McCurry, Tokyo correspondent for the Guardian has been branded an “ultra-leftist North Korean spy” and repeatedly invited to “Fack off.”

Many reporters trudge the path taken by McCurry, from engagement to frustration, and resignation. “I have tried several different ways to deal with trolls, from snapping back to taking the time to dream up what, in my mind at least, is a rejoinder so withering that it will surely be the final word on the matter. It never is, of course.” Increasingly, he says, he reaches for the Twitter mute button: When trolls send an abusive message now “they are simply pissing into cyberspace.”

But McCurry says it’s important to understand the difference between legitimate criticism and trolling. “I’ve had my share of critical emails, tweets and Facebook postings,” he says. “When the point is made in a temperate manner and, more importantly, with a real name attached, I take in what has been said and, if necessary, respond. But I regard this as reader feedback, not trolling.”

Debito: One thing I might add, as a longtime veteran of being targeted by trolls, is that it’s worse for some of us than you mentioned above. For example, I have numerous online stalkers, who dedicate many electrons on cyberspace (even devote whole websites and hijack Biographies of Living People on Wikipedia) not only to misrepresent my arguments, but also to track my personal life and advocate that I come to harm. I’ve endured death treats for decades, and I can’t conclude that merely ignoring trolls and hoping they’ll go away is an effective answer either. After all, as propaganda masters know, if enough people claim something is true, it becomes true, as long as through constant repetition they gain control over the narrative.

I for one never visit these stalker sites, but lots of people who should know better do look at them without sufficient critique, and (as you noted above) assume that my not commenting about their false allegations is some kind of admission in their favor. What the stalkers actually get out of all this wasted energy truly escapes me…

http://www.debito.org/?p=13774

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TRYING TO HELP

11) Asahi: Survey: Discrimination encountered by 42% of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward; Asahi wants NJ resident opinions

Asahi: Around 42.3 percent of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward “often” or “sometimes” feel discriminated against by Japanese people, particularly during searches for a home, a survey showed. In comparison, 47.2 percent of non-Japanese in the ward said they “never” or “not too often” experience such discrimination, according to the survey by the Shinjuku Ward government.

The situation most cited for prejudice or discrimination against foreign residents was “when they were searching for a place to live,” at 51.9 percent, followed by “when they were working,” at 33.2 percent, and “when they were going through procedures at a public agency,” at 25.6 percent.

COMMENT: Note that the Asahi is also asking for feedback from NJ readers: “The Asahi Shimbun is also seeking opinions from foreign residents about life in Japanese communities at the AJW website. Please send in your contributions in English to asahi_forum@asahi.com”. Please do so. Many of you are already, like it or not, Visible Minorities. Now be Visible Residents.

http://www.debito.org/?p=13770

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12) Asahi and JT: Osaka adopts Japan’s first anti-hate-speech ordinance

Good news. Japan finally has something on the books that deals with hate speech in Japan, giving it definition and scorn: A local ordinance (jourei) in Osaka. The bad news is that this ordinance does not criminalize or penalize the perpetrator, or give much support to the victim. As Eric Johnston notes below, there are no fines for haters, insufficient help for victims, and little more than an official frowning-at (a “naming and shaming”) of people who are probably beyond shame.

However, one bright side is that naming and shaming is precisely what Debito.org does to racist exclusionary “Japanese Only” businesses (that is basically all Debito.org can do, of course). The reason why this is a source of brightness is that our naming and shaming has occasioned criticism from apologists for being “un-Japanese” in approach. This ordinance now officially makes the approach Japanized. So there.

And given that the last attempt to do something like this, a decade ago, ended in dismal failure (where anti-discrimination legislation in Tottori was passed and then UNpassed), I have the feeling that this time the legislation will stick. It’s a step in the right direction, and Debito.org salutes Osaka for finally getting something on the books.

http://www.debito.org/?p=13757

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13) HJ on Mainichi article on “Preventing Illegal Hires of Foreigners”; what about campaigns to prevent illegal ABUSES of foreign workers?

ILLEGAL EMPLOYMENT OF FOREIGNERS
Demanding Prevention with Handbills
Mainichi Shinbun, December 8, 2015 (translation by HJ)

Hoping to prevent illegal employment of foreigners and illegal foreign residency, on December 7th the Akabane police department held a flyer-distribution campaign around JR Akabane station, distributing handbills, which urge the proper hiring of foreigners, to restaurant owners and area residents. Other than police officials, city officials and Tokyo immigration bureau officials also participated, for a total of about 20 participants. They also distributed a ‘Foreign Laborers’ Employment Manual,’ created by the city, and introduced the penal regulations for business owners who knowingly employed illegal foreign laborers. A police official stated that in light of the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, more foreigners are expected to be visiting Japan, so ‘from here on out we want to regularly urge caution’ [in regards to illegal foreign residency/employment].
==================================

Comment by HJ: What I noticed particularly is the lack of any effort to cite any statistics that might justify this blatantly fear-mongering use of taxpayer money. No citation of illegal foreign employment statistics, or what harm such infractions might meaningfully bring on society, or really any attempt to establish any reason for this “campaign” at all. It’s as if there’s no need at all to demonstrate why this behavior is necessary or what occasioned it in the first place. We want to urge caution about illegal employment practices…because why? They’re on the rise? They cost taxpayers lots of money last year? There’s a lack of procedural knowledge? Where’s the handbilling to remind employers not to abuse their foreign employees? Haven’t we already seen many instances where that factually does occur? Where’s the “regular cautioning” about that? The whole thing is just completely disgusting.

http://www.debito.org/?p=13761

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14) Ben Shearon on RetireJapan, helping people living in Japan learn more about personal finance, investing, readying for retirement

Ben Shearon: I’ve been living in Japan for fifteen and a half years working as an English teacher. A few years ago I became interested in personal finance, and in December 2013 I started a website called RetireJapan. RetireJapan exists in order to help people living in Japan learn more about personal finance, investing, and getting ready for retirement in English.

Personal finance can seem complex and intimidating, and there are a lot of companies that would love to take your money. The only way to make good choices is to learn as much as you can. RetireJapan includes information about Japan-specific resources, including NISA tax-sheltered investing accounts, kyoshutsu nenkin ‘J401k’ accounts, and the national pension scheme, as well as more general personal finance topics such as how to find money to save and what to do with it once you have some. As well as the website and blog I also conduct seminars and workshops around Japan. Check out the site and get in touch if you would like me to speak to your group. You can also send me questions via the site: http://www.retirejapan.info/blog/blog-101

http://www.debito.org/?p=13809

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… and finally…

15) My Japan Times JBC 95, “Osaka’s move on hate speech should be just the first step” Feb. 1, 2016

On Jan. 15, the Osaka Prefectural Assembly passed the first local ordinance against hate speech in Japan. JBC sees this as a step in the right direction.

Until now, there was no way to define what “hate speech” was, let alone take any measures against it. Defining a problem is fundamental to finding a solution.

Moreover, passing an ordinance makes a general statement to society that the existence of hate speech is not only undeniable but also impermissible. This matters, given Japan’s high tolerance for racist outbursts from public officials, and clear cases of bullying and intimidation that have otherwise been protected under “freedom of speech” (genron no jiyuu). Osaka has made it clearer that there is a limit to what you can say about groups of people in public.

However, this still isn’t quite at the stage where Osaka can kvell. There are no criminal or financial penalties for haters. An earlier version of the ordinance offered victims financial assistance to take their case to court, but that was cut to get it passed. Also, an adjudicating committee (shinsa-kai) can basically only “name and shame” haters by warning and publicizing them on a government website — in other words, it can officially frown upon them.

Even the act of creating a law against hate speech has invited criticism for opening up potential avenues to policymaker abuse. They have a point: tampering with freedom of speech invites fears, quite reasonably, about slippery slopes to censorship. So let’s address the niggling question right now: Should there ever be limits put on what you can say? JBC argues yes…

http://www.debito.org/?p=13776

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That’s all for this month. See you next month! Thanks for reading! Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 1, 2016 ENDS

23 comments on “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 1, 2016

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Japartheid!

    Kyoto city starts one-year trial of taxi apartheid!

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/01/national/kyoto-taxis-specializing-foreign-tourists-begin-one-year-trial/

    Kyoto city has started a special taxi service just for ‘gaijin’ with a special ‘gaijin taxi rank’, and a special ‘gaijin line’ at Kyoto station because some Kyoto taxi drivers have refused to stop for NJ passengers.

    Instead of dressing this up as some kind of ‘omotenashi’ initiative to help foreign tourists, why not address the problem rather than the symptom? Why not punish taxis drivers who refuse NJ passengers?

    Oh, yeah, of course, they can’t be punished because Japan had no laws against racial discrimination.
    Japan has no laws for this, because ‘there is no racism in Japan’.
    So, rather than punish the racist taxi drivers (who don’t exist?), Kyoto City has to ignore the problem and ‘invent’ a response that is even more discriminatory!

    After all, can’t punish racist drivers for ‘their right to discriminate against gaijin’, can we?
    Can’t tell people that this is a real problem, and have Japanese waiting for a taxi actually SEE a Japanese taxi driver being racist to NJ (have to hide this problem, just like all the Fukushima mess). Hmmm, what to do….?

    Make the gaijin line up way over there! Way over there where the Japanese don’t have to look at them!
    Continue ignoring the problem. That’ll fix it…

    See, the thing is, I wouldn’t mind if taxi drivers had a little sticker in the window that said they can communicate in English, or Chinese (or whatever), and the customer (who is GOD in Japan after all!) could decide for themselves if they were up for a cultural challenge or not, but this Kyoto system is just segregation, plain and simple.

    Next they’ll be asking us to sit AT THE BACK OF THE BUS.

    And how much is this language training costing, and who is paying? Are Kyoto residents going to be over-joyed to see their Kyoto City-tax pay for taxi drivers English and Chinese lesson for the sake of NJ tourists, OR…

    Are segregated taxis going to come with a special NJ charge?

    The fact that there is NO ONE in the entire power structure of Kyoto City who can realize that this is a discriminatory and racist policy that rewards and apologizes for racist Kyoto City taxi drivers rather than punishing them, shows just how much Kyoto City (and Japanese society in general) hasn’t got a clue of what racism and discrimination are, and how they work (never mind how to address it).

    Expect to see this initiative rolled out nationwide in the run-up to the Olympics (because Japan KNOWS what you gaijin want! it’s called ‘O-MO-TE-NA-SHII’!).
    Japan resident NJ should expect all taxis to blast pass them without stopping when they try to hail them, they’ve got an excuse now!

    By way of contrast, here’s a private taxi company is Osaka that started around the clock language support in four different languages for it’s taxi drivers to help communicate with NJ customers. I bet they aren’t getting a huge injection of time, effort, and tax payers cash from city hall, despite doing it the right way;

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/11/23/national/kansais-omotenashi-hospitality-foreigners-may-model-japan/

    Reply
  • Anonymous says:

    Japartheid!

    Yes, upcoming dictionary entry.

    (Now j-gov workers must try to illegally coerce all top dictionaries to cancel this new entry. )

    Japartheid.

    #Japartheid #KyotoJapartheid #KyotoTaxiJapartheid #HotelJapartheid #ApartmentJapartheid #Japartheid2016

    #ComeToJapanAndBeTreatedLikeBlacksInThe50sItsGreatCompaniesAreAllowedToRaciallyDiscriminate2016JapanJapartheid

    Just to let future readers know, the topic in Jim’s comment above continues at: debito.org/?p=13844

    Reply
  • Jim di Griz says:

    Total tangent, but last week I noticed that there is the start of a media flap in Japan about the likelihood of Trump becoming POTUS, especially given his remarks about Japan non-tariff trade barriers;

    http://www.japantoday.com/smartphone/view/politics/bashing-by-trump-baffles-japan

    Of course, criticism of Japan in anyway means that he has been labelled a ‘Japan basher’.

    Now, I have no intention on commenting about Trump as a person in any what what-so-ever, and make the following point only to talk about Japan;

    My wife and I just had lunch with her friend and friends husband, and the pair of them expressed that they were really worry that Trump might become president because he is ‘really racist’ and if he is elected, it shows that ‘all Americans are secretly racist’ too!

    I replied that I thought Trump was no different to Hashimoto, Ishihara, Kawamura, Abe, Aso, and a great many other elected Japanese racists, but does this mean that all Japanese are also secretly racist?

    Of course, my wife’s friends couldn’t see my point, they didn’t have a clue about Hashimoto, Ishihara, Kawamura, Abe, Aso, and a great many other elected Japanese racist comments, and lunch turned into a disaster where my wife had ‘married a racist’.

    I would advise other readers of debito.org to prepare for an anti-American backlash from ‘victim Japan’ (with a total lack of awareness of the hypocrisy), if Trump wins the nomination (never mind the Presidency. Never mind if you yourself aren’t even American, in fact).

    Reply
  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    @ JDG #3,

    I was thinking that myself. Months ago, when Trump made some anti-Hispanic comments, the Japanese media were all over it.
    Where were they when Ishihara et al made their (far more relevant to Japan than Trump’s) racist comments?
    [cue the sound of crickets chirping]

    Reply
  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @JDG, #3

    Contrary to what is so called “Japan bashing,” many of those media/newspapers addressing Japan’s problems are not really bashing at all. Its’ funny because plenty of pro-Japan establishments including government media watchdogs, right-wingers, Japologist, online-paid trolls are all out attacking left-leaning media and journalists for honest criticism, but they so far remain silent on a school yard bully. Kind of cowards Japan is now having in the office.

    Reply
  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Another tangent, but does anyone remember Japan Probe?

    About 10 years ago it used to be full of interesting Japanese gossip rag stories translated into English, but then it suddenly became a hot-bed of right-wing Japanese view-points, apologism and anti-Chinese and anti-Korean xenophobia.

    Then it just stopped being updated.

    Well now it’s been updated! But (given the way it was headed) bizarrely it is blasting Japanese xenophobia and poor record on refugees.

    Pop over and read the comments if you’d like to see some of the posters who attack Dr. Debito’s JBC comments sections getting totally confused about whether they are defending Japan Probe’s new stance or not!

    Reply
  • Baudrillard says:

    @ Jim, well they brought Trump up over lunch! They can dish it out but they cant take ANY perceived slight. Hyper sensitivity, that’s Japan.

    But I think many Japanese do not see themselves as responsible for the politicians they elect (or give tacit mandates to). Its part of that helpless, “shoganai” feeling.

    Reminds me of a quote by Joseph Beuys (who lived under the Nazis) “Most people (today) feel trapped by their surroundings. This leads to the destruction of their inwardness”

    Which is part and parcel of the top down Hierarchical thinking.

    Erai Ojisans from famous, “good” families know best. Lets just follow tradition.

    And that’s what the Abe elite wants them to think. Its “rude” and “uppity” to think otherwise or try to rise above your J-station.

    Reply
  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Wow!
    This is staggering!

    This guy built a career as ‘talento’ based on the idea that his father was American-Irish-Japanese, but it turns out he was always just ‘Japanese’, it seems.
    There’s that ‘gaijin, but so Japanese’ fetishism exposed.

    But what he actually got fired for was telling everyone he graduated from Harvard. Except that he didn’t.

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/16/national/tv-news-commentator-steps-following-exposure-fake-academic-background/

    Hmm…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7850

    Reply
  • @Jim #8

    That is a shocking example of someone (J-team) pretending to be someone they aren’t (American-J).

    I wonder if J-team posters PRETENDING to be American-J posters, post at sites critical of J-Gov?

    http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-23695896
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/08/14/israel-students-social-media/2651715/

    J-Gov has staff trying to influence universities/publishers: do they sometimes even infiltrate online?

    In addition to employing obvious J-defenders online, does J-Gov employ not-so-obvious infiltrators too?

    Perhaps Shinichiro Kawakami was simply a private liar. Perhaps the J-Gov also employs fake-liberal fake-bi-cultural liars?

    Claims of “I’m on your side, trust me, because I’m liberal / bi-cultural / spent time in America” are meaningless claims.

    It’s easy to lie about one’s background, so be vigilant folks: don’t trust characters, check the MESSAGE within each and every sentence.

    Reply
  • Jim Di Griz says:

    @ Anonymous #9

    Good point!

    I recently noticed this ‘character’ commenting on Japan Times in a Japanese right-wing way every time, and signing each comment thus;

    “Park McGraw
    Experimental Physicist
    Former US Navy, 4th Con. Gen. Military (from Spanish American War)
    Candidate for President of the United States of America”

    He seems to be a total nut-job. A google search for this pro-nuclear, pro-Japanese nationalist shows him threatening the POTUS.

    I actually thought that it was a ham-fisted J-gov propaganda effort to ‘massage’ the international narrative of Japan, but this guy is (really) for real.

    Kind of like ‘Texas Daddy’ and ‘OssanAmerica’, the internet has the amazing ability to offer a forum to those who have never been to Japan to tell us who live here just how good we’ve got it!

    Reply
  • Baudrillard says:

    Sean McArdle Kawakami faking a gaijin background doesnt surprise me; Japan is the place where countless people re-invent themselves. Its not a bad thing in itself if one needs a prop, and equalizing advantage, or is simply running away from something in their past.

    When faced with discrimination, I myself have claimed to be “1/3 Japanese”- the impossibility of which goes over a surprisingly large number of people’s heads. (by my logic, the length of time spent in Japan is equivalent to how Japanese you are, and if the J System will not reward the time and effort I invested here, I will do what everyone else here does to get something out of it, which is quite simply…

    TO LIE. USO MO HOUBEN. That’s Tokyo/writ large Japan, a relationship between postmodern IMAGES.

    Anon above says ” don’t trust characters, check the MESSAGE within each and every sentence.”

    But Anon, the medium IS the Message. Ever notice that what someone in Japan with a certain image is saying either nothing, or a complete load of incohernet rubbish, and yet they get a good response?

    Because its all about feeling over communication. Logic doesnt really work in Japan, you can see that in street sales and nampa daily.

    “I’m on your side, trust me, because I’m liberal / bi-cultural / spent time in America” may be meaningless, but as we have seen with Kawakami, it has worked for years to a domestic Japanese Audience.

    Just another Performance in the J- Theater of the Absurd.

    Reply
  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    Faking a degree from a prestigious overseas institution is nothing new either.
    I seem to recall a number of years back some politician who claimed to have graduated from a major American university, while in fact he was unable to answer questions fielded to him in simple English!

    Reply
  • Yes Baudrillard 🙂 My wife and her parents often say, when (with the purpose of solving problems and bettering the lives of our family) I share true, logical, facts: “We’re not interested in truth! We aren’t interested in logic! We aren’t interested in facts!”

    Seriously. I swear we all should buy little “go-pro” style cameras, strap them to our heads (or place them within a baseball cap) and film all day every day the absurd stances folks raised in this “Uso mo houben / Uso no hou ga houben / Uso DAKE ga houben” culture which APPROVES of and even PREFERS lying to others and lying to themselves.

    Imagine the amazing documentaries of daily life interactions in Japan we could create, which we ourselves could enjoy watching and which the world in general would probably be highly entertained and enlightened by watching.

    Lies, lies, and lying about the lies. All day, every day. Plus lots of law violations as well.

    A culture of selfishness which doesn’t CARE about the fact that this lying creates suffering to all the people who are being lied to. Lying to others hurts others, but this culture doesn’t care about others. Lying to themselves hurts themselves, but even this culture doesn’t even care about hurting themselves. Murderously selfish PLUS self-harming suicidal, quite an ironic paradox.

    My point about staying vigilant, when listening to spoken words and reading typed words is: we should not let down our guard and start “trusting” any person (especially online “person” characters who very well might be the opposite of what they portray). We should focus on, “What feeling is this speaker/writer trying to make us feel. And what outcome would probably occur if we uncritically assumed sentence X or sentence Y to be true.”

    Often we humans naively accept into our lives various characters who we assume are “trustworthy”, and then, here comes the problem: we lazily stop doing the work of critical thinking about each and every word they write. Which leads to “trustworthy” characters mass-broadcasting sentences (whether on Fuji TV or even here in the Debito comment section) sentences which change people’s feelings and change people’s actions.

    Paid broadcasters and unpaid broadcasters, accidental lies and purposeful lies, deception comes from us listeners foolishly trusting characters in the first place and not remaining critical of “what feelings are these words trying to lead folks to feel, what actions are these words trying to lead folks to do.”

    And yes Baudrillard, about us finally deciding to “do as the romans do” by employing the officially approved “lying is fine” action which this culture approves of and encourages, I too often give the impression of being a nationalized citizen of Japan.

    For example, whenever showing I.D. actually IS a requirement [for ALL customers, regardless of looks] for some certain service I want, for example opening up a bank account, renting an apartment, whatever) the only I.D. I ever show is my KANJI ONLY KokuminKenkoHoken Card.

    Since I properly Kanjified myself long ago (using the technique once posted here http://www.debito.org/?p=9718#comment-307793) folks looking at my I.D. card ASSUME that I have become a Japanese citizen (and thus a person who can more easily sue and win lawsuits about law violations.) When they look at my government issued card, and then look back at my caucasian face in shock and surprise, I help encourage their assumption by smiling and saying, “Sou da yo, Nippon: cha-cha-cha!”

    And yes, nowadays I have even entered the Japanese-culture-approved mode of lying to the extent of even bold-faced claiming, “Nippon-Shutokusha da yo: ki o tsukete!” to prevent and stop folks from thinking I am “a mere gaijin whom they can violate the rights of without fear of penalty.”

    They want to lie about the laws and about the fact that their actions are violating the laws, well, then I in return will lie about having Japanese citizenship. Dear Japan, if you want me to be honest about my citizenship, stop treating non-Japanese-citizens here in Japan as second-class-citizens.

    Now, perhaps Shinichiro Kawakami is reading this post and thinking, “Yeah, Anonymous has a good reason to lie about himself, and I did too! I, like Anonymous, had to lie about my background: to survive in Japan!”

    Ha. The truth is, I think we should consider the possibility of the following question: “Does the government of Japan actually attempt to manipulate the feelings of the general population, by placing actors in various broadcasting positions of trust (in all media outlets, including and increasingly ESPECIALLY online), and thus is this one particular discovery of ‘an independent private individual lying about his background’ actually the tip of the iceberg of HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of Japanese Government Employees whose missions are to gain trust and deliver well-crafted-messages with the goal of changing listeners’ feelings and changing listeners’ actions?”

    Reply
  • PS – @Baudrillard – Your “I’m one-third Japanese (San-bun-no-ichi Nihon-jin)” sentence is much appreciated.

    That sentence happens to be one-third TRUE (since, as you explained, logically the length of TIME spent immersed in Japanese culture in Japan should be the major factor to how Japanese one is)…

    …and one-third a LIE (which justifiably attempts to receive a proper reward for the time and energy we have spent here adapting ourselves to this culture [the hoped for reward, of this “I’m Japanese” lie, is simply: lessening the amount of daily unlawful second-class treatment])…

    …and one-third a JOKE (a joke which at the same time tests the intelligence of the listener, because if the listener is not intelligent enough to realize, “That fraction doesn’t make any sense” then the person we are speaking with is truly a non-thinking idiot, which gives us a nice little internal chuckle to observe.)

    Just like in The Office, when Michael claimed to be “Two-fifteenths Native American.”

    One-third Japanese: Love it!

    Thanks for sharing that. I’m adding it to my repertoire, for survival AND internal entertainment, when acting in this post-modern absurdity-performance stage called Japan. 🙂

    Reply
  • All those stupid, yet widely publicised, stories of Tokyo Zoo (amongst others) showing how well they can capture escaped animals, thus do not fear; using a couple of guys in a drag pantomime suit of a zebra/horse/hippo etc are like most things here…left wanting!
    Seems their ‘efforts’ to train and teach and educate their staff fall on deaf ears and highlight the lack of thinking/behaviour beyond the collective. This story sums it up..

    “Runaway Japanese zebra dies in golf course lake….” *

    Perhaps they mistook the zebra for an escaped asylum seeker….hopeless and incompetent, typical keystone kops.

    * http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35878778

    Reply
  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Does anyone remember ‘Gaijin Crime Files’, the racist anti-NJ magazine full of dubious crime stories made with the help of the NPA?

    Well try this!

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/23/asia-pacific/crime-legal-asia-pacific/japanese-australian-jailed-singapore-sedition-website-incited-racial-hatred/

    A Japanese lady who has naturalized as an Australian citizen, and lives in Australia with her Singaporean husband, has set up a website called ‘The Real Singapore’, where she ‘exposes’ the evil acts that foreigners commit in Singapore!

    On that basis alone, it seems that she is a few sandwiches short of a picnic, but when you read the story, it seems that she has been running this website with fake and racist anti-foreigner stories precisely as click-bait in order to generate ad revenue.

    I guess that since she is Japanese (but now Australian!), she doesn’t make the connection that she is a visible minority in her adopted country, and a potential target of racism, making her a HYPOCRITE for inciting people in other countries to be racist! (after all, she is too chicken to make a site called ‘The Real Australia’, in case anyone doorsteps her).

    I also guess that she doesn’t see any problem with not disclosing to her readers that she;
    A) Doesn’t live in Singapore.
    B) Isn’t Singaporean.
    C) Is in fact an immigrant herself (from a country that wasn’t Singapore, to another country not called Singapore).

    In fact, she only goes to Singapore on holidays (so it can’t be all that bad, right?).

    I want to nominate this woman as the first recipient of a new Debito.org award (Dr. Debito, please choose a suitable name for this award, I was thinking maybe something like ‘Japartheid Trophy’ or ‘Cognitive Dissonance Cup’), for demonstrating a total lack of awareness of the reality of their own situation, where ‘but I’m Japanese’ trumps objective realities (y’know, like the passport they hold).

    Reply
  • Baudrillard says:

    @ Jim, at least the racist Japanese woman in Singapore has been convicted and given a prison sentence of 10 months. BUT
    1. She has a month to put her affairs in order
    2. She is 8 months pregnant

    so lets see if she either “does a flyjin” and runs back to Japan, or gets the Japan Embassy/Abe to intercede on her behalf!

    Reply
  • Jim di Griz says:

    Tokyo Police Dept. spent ¥21million of your tax to make 10 min ‘drama’ to show the (English speaking?) world ‘how safe’ Japan is;

    http://www.japantoday.com/smartphone/view/crime/tokyo-police-release-pr-video-in-english-to-assure-foreign-visitors-japan-is-safe

    Why dubbed into American English?
    Why focusing on elaborate fake 24 style terror plots?
    Why most of the criminals NJ?
    Why all criminals speak English?
    Why SO MANY female Japanese cops?
    Why no J-police ‘carding’ NJ in a large bullying group?
    Why no human rights violations after arrest?

    This video is a FANTASY on a par with Lord of the Rings!
    Why is it being put out now, 4 years before the Olympics?

    Reply
  • Interesting article in the UK’s Financial Times, about Japan’s elderly committing crimes to stay financially stable and to buy food/rent etc. But one needs subscription to view the whole article.

    The search function, page 2, shows the link:
    http://search.ft.com/search?q=japan&t=all&fa=people%2Corganisations%2Cregions%2Csections%2Ctopics%2Ccategory%2Cbrand&s=-lastPublishDateTime&curations=ARTICLES%2CBLOGS%2CVIDEOS%2CPODCASTS&highlight=true&p=2

    March 27, 2016

    Reply
  • Baudrillard says:

    @ Jim,”the video praised the acting skills of all policemen, saying they were “better than professional actors.”

    I guess they had a lot of practice pretending to obey the law in the Theatre of the Postmodern Absurdity that is “Japan”, a “relationship between images” as Debord would call it.

    Theyre all acting all the time- man in police uniform acts official, so must be obeyed, man with punch perm and tattoo, likewise. Man in suit equals salaryman. Woman in maternity dress equals “shufu” and mum (that’s what happened with my J-ex, and is partly why she is an ex- I couldn’t handle a relationship with an image, playing a new, fake role, but I digress into postmodern analyis).

    Reply
  • Jim di Griz says:

    Japan wants your biometric data and credit card details, because? (Mumble, mumble) omotenashi (something)!

    http://www.japantoday.com/smartphone/view/technology/govt-to-test-biometric-cashless-payments-for-foreign-tourists

    Of course, what the really want is to build a biometric database of every NJ who goes through Japan because it fits the narrative that only NJ commit crimes, and of course Japanese companies can exploit the Big Data gathered for financial gain (and the J-gov will be the one selling it to them- NJ privacy doesn’t matter!).
    Additionally, with Japan’s terrible record on personal data security, what comeback do tourists have when they find out their bank info has been leaked/sold?

    http://www.japantoday.com/smartphone/view/technology/govt-to-test-biometric-cashless-payments-for-foreign-tourists

    Omotenashi truly is ‘telling people what they want’.

    Reply
  • Well….dip me in tar cover me in feathers and call me birdy!!…is this some serious reporting i finally seeing by the BBC:

    “The Japanese magazine shaking up the cosy media club….It brought down a minister and a politician, practically destroyed the careers of a popular celebrity and a news commentator and nearly broke up one of Japan’s biggest boy bands…
    ‘Culture of fear’
    It is a worrying trend in a country which has fallen from 11th to 72nd ranking in the World Press Freedom Index in the last six years….”

    And by Markio Oi at that too!!

    * http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35557838

    Reply
  • My my..even Rupert W-H is starting to do some serious reporting in Japan now. This spot light wont go down well for him….he’ll be moved on or ostracised by locals if he continues this!

    “Anti-poaching activists have accused Japan of fuelling the illegal ivory trade by allowing tusks to be legally registered without the need to provide proof of where they were bought or how old they are…..”

    * http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-36156241

    Reply

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