WHO IS KILLING THE GREAT MAILING LIST ARCHIVES OF JAPAN?
By Arudou Debito
December 23, 2006
(NB: The title is not meant to be sensational–merely a pun on the 1978 movie title, “Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?” The movie was a comedy. This report is, unfortunately, deadly serious. It is an update of a Dec 7 report, archived at http://www.debito.org/?p=108, because yet another mailing list has since been deleted.)
1) GOOD NEWS: KUME HIROSHI’S APOLOGY MAKES ASAHI SHINBUN
THANKS TO DISCOVERY OF THE ISSUE ON INTERNET ARCHIVES
2) THE DEATH OF THE ISSHO KIKAKU, AND NOW THE SHAKAI ARCHIVES
3) THE GREAT HYPOCRISY UNDERLYING THIS CASE
4) CONCLUSIONS: FIVE YEARS LATER, WHY SPEAK OUT NOW?
1) THE GOOD NEWS FIRST:
KUME HIROSHI’S APOLOGY MAKES ASAHI SHINBUN
We open this report with a newspaper article:
========= ARTICLE BEGINS ================
Newscaster regrets anti-foreigner quip
December 21, 2006 BY MARIKO SUGIYAMA, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Atonement, it seems, can never come too late. Newscaster Hiroshi Kume has apologized for a disparaging remark he made 10 years ago about foreigners speaking Japanese.
The comment offended a number of foreign residents in Japan, prompting some people to formally complain to TV Asahi Corp. that aired the remark. At the time, Kume was a presenter on TV Asahi’s evening news program, then called News Station.
The program aired in October 1996 and featured a report on India in which an Indian spoke fluent Japanese, according to Debito Arudou, 41. Arudou, who was born in the United States as Dave Aldwinckle and is now a naturalized Japanese, is active in efforts to protect the rights of foreigners.
Kume blurted out on the program, “Isn’t it better to see a foreigner speaking in broken Japanese?”
Arudou and others complained to the TV station that many foreign nationals are studying Japanese and trying to integrate into society.
He posted details of the protest on his Web site. Kume did not respond at the time, according to Arudou.
But on Dec. 1, Kume sent an e-mail message to Arudou, saying, “Thinking deeply, I realize this was quite a rude remark and I regret this as being narrow-minded.”
Kume told The Asahi Shimbun: “I recently learned on the Internet about the protest. I didn’t know 10 years ago.”
Arudou, in turn, said, “I was surprised but happy that an influential individual such as Kume did not neglect what he said in the past and tried to make things right.”
========= ARTICLE ENDS ================
(See what Kume saw at http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#kume)
Very happy to see this happening. As I said above, I’m elated when somebody in authority displays a conscience. And I’m also glad the media has taken this up to show that amends can be made.
But what this brings to light is the power of Internet archives. If I had not archived this on debito.org, Kume would never have seen it…. Which is why maintaining a record of the past is a serious matter.
2) THE DEATH OF THE ISSHO KIKAKU, AND NOW THE SHAKAI ARCHIVES
Information about the Kume Hiroshi Gaffe was also archived elsewhere–on a site called Issho Kikaku (http://www.issho.org). This domain is run and webmastered by Tony Laszlo, currently well-known as the star of the best-selling manga series “MY DARLING IS A FOREIGNER” (Daarin Wa Gaikokujin), created and rendered by wife Oguri Saori.
However, the Issho Kikaku archives, once open to the public, have been closed to the public since December 4, 2005, more than a year ago.
This is tragic. These archives contained the volunteer efforts of and reports from hundreds of researchers, essayists, and activists. These archives also had great historical value, as they charted the change in awareness in the mid-1990’s of the English-speaking foreign community in Japan. With the development of Japan’s Internet, foreigners went online, mobilized, and worked to change their status in Japan from “mere misunderstood guest who should shut up and behave” to “taxpaying resident with enforceable rights”.
Portions of this record can also be found in the archives of the seminal but now dead “Dead Fukuzawa Society”. (http://firstname.lastname@example.org) Good thing these archives still exist.
However, the Issho Kikaku Mailing List archives, once a part of yahoogroups, were deleted several years ago. Information on and evidence of the list’s existence at http://www.debito.org/enoughisenough.html
When asked about moribund Issho.org in December of this year, Tony Laszlo said, in his final mail to the Shakai Mailing List (also an Issho Kikaku project), quote: “ISSHO Kikaku’s website is still in renewal… Tending to a new baby boy is keeping the webmaster busier than he had expected.” (December 10, 2006)
(That email–courtesy of a former Shakai member deeply troubled by these developments–is archived here:
I archive it on debito.org because, since then, the Shakai Mailing List archive has also been deleted.)
Congratulations on the birth. But this is an unsatisfactory excuse. The average gestation period of a human being is a little over nine months, not a full year. And as a poster to the NBR mailing list pointed out:
“…Tony can take months, years, decades, whatever to work on a “revamp” of ISSHO.org if he wants to. But there is no reason to REMOVE ALL THE CONTENT that was previously there while doing this work. Keep the old site running until the work is done, and then make the switch by simply changing the URL of the top page. It’s a simple task, and something that just about any website does while working on improvements.”
What’s more, despite all the busyness (and a millionaire’s income from the manga, meaning financially he can devote all his time to househusbandry, if not webmastering), Tony Laszlo is finding time to write articles again for the Shukan ST, not to mention appear in public as “Representative, Issho Kikaku” at a November 26, 2006, meeting of new NGO “No-Borders”: (See http://www.zainichi.net Click under the left-hand heading “nettowaaku ni sanka suru soshiki, kojin” . If that archive has also mysteriously disappeared, refer to http://www.debito.org/noborders120706.webarchive)
So that means there have been three archives done away with: Shakai, Yahoogroups Issho, and Issho.org–all under the aegis of Issho Kikaku. What’s next–the older yahoogroups archive for Shakai (May 2000 to Oct 2003)? Go visit it while it’s still there:
What’s going on?
3) THE GREAT HYPOCRISY UNDERLYING THIS CASE
I worked in tandem for years with Tony Laszlo and Issho.org, particularly in a Issho subgroup called BENCI (I’d send you more information on it, but, again, the Issho.org files have disappeared). I created, wrote, and maintained the BENCI webarchive. We had a falling out. I left the group.
Meanwhile, I had long since been archiving the Otaru Onsens Lawsuit website on debito.org. (http://www.debito.org/otarulawsuit.html) To this day it is still up there, along with its Japanese equivalent, serving as a citeable record for academics, lawyers, media, activists, and other interested parties as consistently one of the top twenty (of thousands) of accessed sites on debito.org.
Laszlo then told me to take related materials on debito.org down due to “violation of copyright”. Even though I never signed a waiver of my copyright, nor agreed in any way to waive it, nor received any remuneration for my writings. Yet according to Issho Kikaku former Co-Moderator Bern Mulvey, an eyewitness to this case, Laszlo was considering a lawsuit against me for “appropriation and misuse of Issho documents”:
December 13, 2006:
I was a member of ISSHO from the late 90s. Like Debito
and several other people, I was a also a member of the
Benci Project–the action group within ISSHO Kikaku which
took action against businesses with discriminatory
practices. Finally, I was co-moderator of the ISSHO
KIKAKU forum until June of 2001; hence, I have a pretty
good grasp of the details regarding Tony’s threatened
lawsuit (and other actions) against Debito.
Tony’s “issues” with Debito came out long before JAPANESE
ONLY was published first in Japanese (2003). Even when I
was co-moderator, there was a push from Tony to have
Debito removed from the ISSHO list because of his
“redundant” website and “misuse” of ISSHO documents. The
talk of suing Debito began then as well–ostensibly to
protect the accessibility and sanctity of the archived
materials, ironic given that said materials have
apparently been erased completely and permanently.
Much of the criticism directed at Debito from ISSHO and
Benci members was over how the collected documents and
other evidence–the fruits of a number of people’s
efforts–were being “appropriated” by Debito for his
supposedly “selfish” ends. The book was ostensibly just
another example of this–e.g., how dare Debito even
reference the ISSHO/Benci information?! (Note that there
was also a more legitimate anger over Debito’s use of
internal correspondence in the book.)
Of course, what Tony and others conveniently overlooked
was that much (80%?) of the archival information had been
gathered by Debito himself. I was one of Debito’s few
defenders when all this came down, and helped scuttle
Tony’s lawsuit (supposedly “on behalf of” BENCI members,
of which I was one). Indeed, I wonder, now that Tony has
taken down all documentation of 6 years of often
successful activism–almost all of it the results of
INTENSE effort he “ordered” but did not assist in–how his
former defenders live with themselves. Two of the most
vicious, at least, owe Debito a public apology.
For a long time, Tony justified his attacks on Debito
partly by asserting the need to ensure the archival
resources we created would remain open to everyone. Now,
they are gone, and I do not understand why. I am glad,
however, that Debito stood his ground and kept whatever
archives he could up at debito.org.
We (Bern, Olaf Karthaus, Ken Sutherland, and myself) dispute the claims Laszlo made. Please see this historical website, written in 2001, and released for the first time today with updates for this report at:
It contains the remaining record of what went on in the Issho Kikaku Mailing list. It may also offer some insights on why these archives might want to disappear.
Then in 2004, my publisher was contacted by Laszlo’s lawyer. According to a letter dated August 13, 2004:
Laszlo, through a very famous TV lawyer named Kitamura Yukio, was formally threatening me with a lawsuit, claiming, quote, “violation of copyright, invasion of privacy, and libel” for the publication of my book “JAPANESE ONLY”.
In a face-to-face meeting we had at Kitamura’s offices in late August, he demanded that sales of the book cease.
What’s ironic, given Laszlo’s claims, is that Tony Laszlo, a journalist by byline, has himself taken materials verbatim from an Internet mailing list (Issho’s), without permission from or notification of the source. Then used them for personal remuneration in a Nihongo Journal article, dated December 1999. Archive at:
He was also not above using his journalist byline in a published journal (Shuukan Kin’youbi, April 18, 2003) to put out a clarion call for help to deal with “a recent publication using copyrighted materials without permission”.
Anyway, the lawsuit came to naught. And we got on with our lives. Until now.
4) CONCLUSIONS: WHY SPEAK OUT NOW?
Note that I wrote the above “enoughisenough” website above more than five years ago. Why didn’t I release it then?
Because I was worried that this would just be construed as a personal squabble. Seen as a petty dispute between two alpha males who just can’t get along, or who are somehow jousting for the pole position of “Mr Kokusaika” etc. Or, as time went on and the DAARIN WA GAIKOKUJIN turned him into a media superstar, seen as sour grapes for him getting rich and famous on his wife’s talents.
So I let things go. I just thought that he could do his thing, I could do mine. Even after he threatened me with a lawsuit for me doing my thing and writing books. Let it go, life’s too short, I thought.
Unfortunately, once the above decisions were made to delete whole archives and begin a process of whitewashing over history, I realized that this was going too far.
The destruction of public records is verifiable public damage. First he threatens to sue people over information he claims is copyright Issho.org. Then that information becomes unavailable to the public anyway.
The sad thing is that, even if Webmaster Laszlo eventually decides to let the Issho.org archives come back to life, the yahoogroups Issho and Shakai mailing list archives are gone forever.
This is irreversible. It is unforgivable. And should be known about.
December 23, 2006
SPECIAL REPORT ENDS
Previous report of this matter (Dec 7, 2006) available on this blog at