DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 5, 2016

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 5, 2016

Hello Newsletter Readers. Two previews this month:

1) “Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin” a mockumentary film by Primolandia Productions starring Debito Arudou, seeking Kickstarter funding for the next 30 days.

“Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin” is a mockumentary that focuses on a Caucasian expat living in Japan who, after receiving a blow to the head, wakes up believing that he is a member of an ultranationalist right wing group (the “uyoku dantai”). An idealistic amateur “director” (in the scheme of the mockumentary) is making a documentary film about this odd character because he believes that it will propel his own filmmaking career towards prominence. As the director and his subject’s views begin to diverge though, things begin to fall apart. “Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin” is a story about identity, delusion, myopic nationalism, ascendent conservative trends in Japan’s current government, other big words, and how those beliefs do not accurately reflect the political and social reality of Japanese society. Only the best ingredients for a controversial comedy! Stars Debito Arudou. Kickstarter funding campaign open for the next 30 days.

Movie Trailer and more info at http://www.debito.org/?p=14032
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/primolandia/go-go-second-time-gaijin?token=3490749a

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2) My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 98: “Police still unfettered by the law, or the truth.” June 6, 2016.

I was alerted by a Debito.org Reader that police in Ibaraki Prefecture were putting official notices up in hotels requiring “all foreign guests” to submit passports at check-in for photocopying. They claimed this was encoded in Japanese law, but they were lying. In fact, we exposed this police practice of bending the law in the JT back in 2005, but Ibaraki clearly ignored it. I posit that this is because Ibaraki happens to host one of Japan’s worst Immigration Detention Centers, and the police have gotten away with so much rule breaking towards foreigners that they’ve come to believe they can even lie about the laws they are sworn to enforce. Enjoy.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/06/05/issues/japans-police-still-unfettered-law-truth/

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Table of Contents:

POLICING EVER TIGHTENING IN JAPAN
3) Telegraph: Tourists in Japan to use fingerprints as ‘currency’ instead of cash; another case of Gaijin as Guinea Pig
4) YouTube video of Tokyo Police using excessive force to subdue a Non-Japanese in public
5) Mainichi: LDP new Constitution draft differentiates between ‘big’ and ‘small’ human rights, the latter to be subordinated “in times of emergency”. Yeah, sure.

UPDATES BOTH GOOD AND BAD TO PAST ISSUES
6) JT: Diet passes Japan’s first law to curb hate speech. Hurrah, but.
7) The 2nd Great Gaijin Massacre in Japan’s education system, with 5-year contracts coming due in 2018 (2023 for uni profs).
8 ) GOJ busybodies hard at work alienating: Shinjuku Foreign Residents Manual assumes NJ criminal tendencies; Kyoto public notices “cultivate foreign tourist manners”
9) “Japan’s Under-Researched Visible Minorities: Applying Critical Race Theory to Racialization Dynamics in a Non-White Society”. Journal article in Washington University Global Studies Law Review 14(4) 2015

And finally…

10) My previous Japan Times column JBC 97: “Enjoy your life in Japan, for the moments” (May 2, 2016)

By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito)
Debito.org Newsletter Freely Forwardable

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POLICING EVER TIGHTENING IN JAPAN

3) Telegraph: Tourists in Japan to use fingerprints as ‘currency’ instead of cash; another case of Gaijin as Guinea Pig

Telegraph: Visitors to Japan may soon be able to forget the hassle of having to change money – with the launch of a new system enabling fingerprints to be used as currency. The system, which will launch this summer, aims to make shopping and checking into hotels faster and more convenient for overseas visitors, according to the Yomiuri newspaper.

It will involve foreign visitors first registering their details, including fingerprints and credit card information, in airports or other convenient public locations. The new system will also enable the government to analyse the spending habits and patterns of foreign tourists.

Registered tourists will then be able to buy products, with taxes automatically deducted, from select stores by placing two fingers on a small fingerprint-reading device. The fingerprint system will also be used as a speedy substitute for presenting passports when checking into hotels, which is currently a legal obligation for overseas tourists, according to reports.

COMMENT: This article seems a bit too much in thrall to the possibilities of the new technology to pay sufficient attention to the possible abuses of fingerprinting (and no attention to the history of fingerprinting in Japan in particular). Culturally speaking, fingerprinting in Japan is associated with criminal activity, which is why so many Japanese (and let alone other NJ and Zainichi Korean minorities) are reluctant to have their fingerprints taken (let alone be forced to carry ID) and stored in a leaky government database. That’s why once again, the Gaijin as Guinea Pig phenomenon is kicking in — where it’s the powerless people in a society who are having government designs for social control being foisted upon them first, before it gets suggested as policy for the rest of the population.

http://www.debito.org/?p=13926

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4) YouTube video of Tokyo Police using excessive force to subdue a Non-Japanese in public

Al: In the wake of the case of Mr. Suraj, the Ghanian who was killed by Japanese immigration during a botched deportation, I’d like to share a video of clear use-of-excessive-force by Tokyo police on NJ (video). Though we don’t know what the NJ did or how they took him to the ground, clearly he is already on the ground, subdued with 3 officers on top of him.

The disturbing part is the officer who is sitting on his lower back, applying unnecessary and excessive pressure to bend his spine. Why was this necessary?? He’s already on the ground, with his hands behind his back, and poses no threat to any of the officers. He’s clearly in a lot of pain, which shows in his voice. The officer sitting on his lower back could have simply just pinned his legs to the ground rather than bending his spine the way he does in the video. The officers are from Tokyo as can be seen by the 「警視庁」emblem on their uniforms.

Please get this video out as it is a disturbing case of excessive use-of-force on an NJ. Additionally, I find that use-of-force by Japanese police tends to be very arbitrary, without any clear goal or regulating doctrine. I myself have had my arms grabbed and pulled out of a department store for an ID check.

YouTube video of Tokyo Police using excessive force to subdue a Non-Japanese in public

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5) Mainichi: LDP new Constitution draft differentiates between ‘big’ and ‘small’ human rights, the latter to be subordinated “in times of emergency”. Yeah, sure.

Mainichi: How puzzling. A question-and-answer booklet that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has created to explain its draft revision of the Constitution claims there are two types of human rights: the big ones and the little ones.

The concept of “big human rights” and “small human rights” appears in the booklet’s section on the LDP draft Constitution’s controversial “state of emergency” provision, which allows for temporary restrictions on human rights and concentration of authority in the Cabinet in the case of an emergency such as an armed attack from external forces, disturbances in social order due to domestic turmoil, or major disasters. Following the massive earthquakes in Kumamoto and its surrounding areas in mid-April, the government and the LDP have ramped up their argument that such a provision is necessary to carry out rescue and recovery efforts as smoothly as possible.

The Q&A booklet states that protecting the lives, bodies and properties of the people is the state’s utmost priority not only in times of peace but also in times of emergency. So far, so good. But it’s what follows that throws me for a loop. “Some are of the opinion that fundamental human rights should not be restricted even in times of emergency,” the booklet reads. “But we believe that it is possible that in order to protect big human rights such as people’s lives, bodies and properties, we could be forced to place restrictions on smaller human rights.”

It’s pretty clear what the LDP means by “big human rights.” But what are the “smaller human rights” that the party refers to? I contacted the LDP Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution. The person who responded, however, simply kept repeating that “it would be helpful if you could read it as it is written.” That was precisely the problem, though. I couldn’t understand what had been written. […]

The LDP’s Q&A booklet notes that the LDP draft Constitution does not deviate from the party’s understanding that fundamental human rights are inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being. If that is actually the case, however, the concept of a “big” or “small” human right should not even come up.

Mainichi: LDP new Constitution draft differentiates between ‘big’ and ‘small’ human rights, the latter to be subordinated “in times of emergency”. Yeah, sure.

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UPDATES BOTH GOOD AND BAD TO PAST ISSUES

6) JT: Diet passes Japan’s first law to curb hate speech. Hurrah, but.

JT: Japan’s first anti-hate speech law passed the Diet on Tuesday, marking a step forward in the nation’s long-stalled efforts to curb racial discrimination. But the legislation has been dogged by skepticism, with critics slamming it as philosophical at best and toothless window dressing at worst.

The ruling coalition-backed law seeks to eliminate hate speech, which exploded onto the scene around 2013 amid Japan’s deteriorating relationship with South Korea. It is the first such law in a country that has long failed to tackle the issue of racism despite its membership in the U.N.-designated International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Critics, however, have decried the legislation as ineffective. While it condemns unjustly discriminatory language as “unforgivable,” it doesn’t legally ban hate speech and sets no penalty.

COMMENT: Debito.org cannot wholeheartedly support this law for the reasons noted in the JT article: It defines “hate speech” only narrow-band (only covering legal residents of Japan), it doesn’t actually encode punishments or penalties, and it joins all of Japan’s other laws that ineffectually ban things only in principle and get ignored in practice (such as Japan’s Equal Employment Opportunity Law, which has not curbed male-female wage and promotion differentials one whit outside of a lengthy and risky Japanese court process). It is, as critics say below, mere window-dressing to make Japan look like a “civilized” country to its neighbors. That said, I’m going to opt that it’s better to have some law that acknowledges the existence of a problem (as opposed to what’s been going on before; even the article indicates below there was a hate rally on average more than once a day somewhere in Japan). Let it potentially chasten xenophobes and indicate that minorities in Japan are here to stay and deserve dignity, respect, and the right to be unstigmatized.

JT: Diet passes Japan’s first law to curb hate speech. Hurrah, but.

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7) The 2nd Great Gaijin Massacre in Japan’s education system, with 5-year contracts coming due in 2018 (2023 for uni profs).

This is an update to the Ninkisei Issue within Japan’s Academic Apartheid Education System, where foreign educators are given perpetual contracts. A contracted position may not sound bad to Western ears, but Japan’s tertiary education system (the second largest in the world) generally does not contract full-time Japanese educators. Since most full-time Japanese enjoy permanent tenure from day one of hiring, a contract becomes a term limit only for foreigners. Abuses of the system include “The Great Gaijin Massacre” of 1992-1994, where most foreign faculty above the age of 35 in National Universities (kokuritsu daigaku) found their contracts were not being renewed — in a successful attempt by the Ministry of Education to bring in younger, cheaper foreigners. Since these veteran teachers had not paid into overseas pension plans (and decades of Japanese pension payments are nonrefundable), they could not simply “go home”. They got stuck with part-time work with no benefits to pay house loans, kids’ college tuition, or fulfill pension plans. According to Ivan Hall’s CARTELS OF THE MIND (WW Norton, 1998), there are more full-time foreign faculty with permanent tenure in one American university than in all of Japan! Not to mention a systemwide disdain (“academic apartheid”) towards foreign educators regardless of qualification, seeing them merely as cheap disposable labor. See the Blacklist of Japanese Universities, a list of institutions with breathtakingly unequal employment policies, at www.debito.org/blacklist.html

Now for the update. Let’s see what happened to the survivors a quarter century on. The upshot is that their turn to be fired is now coming. According to labor union expert CF:
================================
“I have given it a nickname – the “2018 Cliff” If you have been working from (April) 2013 continually on renewable contracts, then (March) 2018 will be 5 years of employment, therefore on April 1 2018, if you demand permanent employment, the company must keep you on as permanent – until retirement (albeit on the pre-2018 conditions) from April 2019. To avoid this, companies will be dumping staff before the end of March 2018 to avoid the transfer to permanent status (無期転換). For better or worse, universities and research facilities deadline is 2023, so employees have an extra 5 years’ grace. The Cliff is coming, and many will be pushed off.
================================

COMMENT: So this is what NJ who persevered and contributed the bulk of their working lives to Japanese society, get at the end: An unceremonious dumping onto the job market, with no new place to go, and skills that will not easily transfer to their country of origin. And often before their MINIMUM 25 years (yes!) of required Japan-pension contributions are fulfilled. People seeking to make a life in Japan: Beware!

The 2nd Great Gaijin Massacre in Japan’s education system, with 5-year contracts coming due in 2018 (2023 for uni profs).

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8 ) GOJ busybodies hard at work alienating: Shinjuku Foreign Residents Manual assumes NJ criminal tendencies; Kyoto public notices “cultivate foreign tourist manners”

Despite all the campaigns to increase foreign tourism and “prepare” Japanese society for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, sometimes Debito.org feels like suggesting people just avoid Japan’s sweaty-headed public-servant busybodies, who spend our tax monies to further alienate NJ residents and tourists from the rest of Japanese society. Check these out:

Yomiuri: With breaches of etiquette by foreign tourists becoming a problem in tourist spots nationwide, local communities are using signboards featuring illustrations, pictograms and manga to inform visitors of how best to behave. These moves are aimed at helping foreign tourists understand Japanese etiquette and rules, in order to prevent such trouble, but some are concerned that the signs could spoil the scenery at tourist spots.

Shinjuku Foreign Resident Manual: “Helping you avoid getting caught up in criminal activity and have a peaceful and safe time in Japan.” With pages on how to avoid “criminal activities” such as not sorting your garbage properly, smoking outside of designated areas, and talking loudly on the phone while on the train or bus.

Submitter Concerned NJ says: This guide still has me angry that this sort of view of “foreigners” is still persisting—maybe even growing—as the Olympics approach; worse, it is being promoted by a government agency. I have been stopped by the Japanese police many times (for no reason other than being “foreign-looking”) and treated like a criminal when I simply pass through the train station, and I’ve seen similar treatment at the station of other “foreigners.” So after those experiences, pamphlets like this that further the view of non-Japanese in Japan as criminal-prone imbeciles really rub me the wrong way. There are plenty of guides for residents of Japan that do NOT take this approach with non-Japanese residents when explaining laws and helpful services that have been translated to other languages.

Comment from Debito: I understand full well the need for cautioning people when tourists, or anyone, are disrespectful towards local sights and environments. But creating reactionary media that stigmatizes foreigners as if they are natural-born criminals or incorrigible rule-breakers (i.e., naturally unable to follow rules because they are foreigners) is equally disrespectful. Care must be taken and tact used to avoid belittling guests, not to mention alienating NJ residents, and busybodies who get paranoid about any strangers darkening their doorsteps must not have free rein to overthink countermeasures (for it soon becomes an invitation to xenophobia).

GOJ busybodies hard at work alienating: Shinjuku Foreign Residents Manual assumes NJ criminal tendencies; Kyoto public notices “cultivate foreign tourist manners”

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9) “Japan’s Under-Researched Visible Minorities: Applying Critical Race Theory to Racialization Dynamics in a Non-White Society”. Journal article in Washington University Global Studies Law Review 14(4) 2015

Abstract: Critical Race Theory (CRT), an analytical framework grounded in American legal academia, uncovers power relationships between a racialized enfranchised majority and a disenfranchised minority. Although applied primarily to countries and societies with Caucasian majorities to analyze White Privilege this Article applies CRT to Japan, a non-White majority society. After discussing how scholarship on Japan has hitherto ignored a fundamental factor within racialization studies—the effects of skin color on the concept of “Japaneseness”—this Article examines an example of published research on the Post-WWII “konketsuji problem.” This research finds blind spots in the analysis, and re-examines it through CRT to uncover more nuanced power dynamics. This exercise attempts to illustrate the universality of nation-state racialization processes, and advocates the expansion of Whiteness Studies beyond Caucasian-majority societies into worldwide Colorism dynamics in general.

Citation: Debito Arudou, Japan’s Under-Researched Visible Minorities: Applying Critical Race Theory to Racialization Dynamics in a Non-White Society, 14 Wash. U. Global Stud. L. Rev. 695 (2015).

Download from http://www.debito.org/?p=13976
http://openscholarship.wustl.edu/law_globalstudies/vol14/iss4/13/

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And finally…

10) My previous Japan Times column JBC 97: “Enjoy your life in Japan, for the moments” (May 2, 2016)

This column was #1 for two days at the JT Online. Thanks for reading. In case you missed it, here are the opening paragraphs:

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JBC 97: After more than 30 years of studying Japan, I’ve learned to appreciate one thing people here do well: living in the moment.

By that I mean there seems to be a common understanding that moments are temporary and bounded — that the feelings one has now may never happen again, so they should be enjoyed to the fullest right here, right now, without regard to the future.

I can think of several examples. Consider the stereotypical honeymooning couple in Hawaii. They famously capture every moment in photographs — from humdrum hotel rooms to food on the plate. They even camcord as much as they can to miss as few moments as possible.

Why? Safekeeping. For who knows when said couple will ever get back to Hawaii (or, for that matter, be allowed to have an extended vacation anywhere, including Japan)? Soon they’ll have kids, demanding jobs, meticulous budgets, and busywork until retirement. No chance in the foreseeable future to enjoy moments like these.

So they frame a beachside photo atop the TV, preserve a keepsake in a drawer, store a dress or aloha shirt far too colorful to ever wear in public — anything to take them back to that precious time and place in their mind’s eye. (Emperor Hirohito reputedly treasured his Paris Metro ticket as a lifetime memento, and was buried with his Disneyland souvenir Mickey Mouse watch.)

Another example: extramarital love affairs. Sleeping around is practically a national sport in Japan (hence the elaborate love hotel industry), and for a good reason: the wonderful moments lovers can surreptitiously capture. It’s a vacation from real life. For chances are their tryst is temporary; it fills a void. But how pleasant their time is in their secret world!

My latest Japan Times column JBC 97: “Enjoy your life in Japan, for the moments” (May 2, 2016)

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That’s quite enough for this month. See you next month, and please support Debito.org’s projects by visiting the website or Kickstarter.

Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 5, 2016 ENDS

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4 comments on “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 5, 2016

  • Hahahaha…don’t ya just love these old wrinklies that wish to keep Japan in the Edo period and are so far removed from real life:

    “Japan’s Olympic team has been warned by the president of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee not to “mumble” the national anthem…..Athletes who cannot sing the anthem should not be considered to be Japan’s representatives,” the Asahi newspaper reports him as saying….”

    Progress Japanese style 🙂

    * http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-36710738

    Reply
  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    @ John K #1

    What the BBC article fails to mention was that the powerpoint slide instructing the athletes to sing said 独唱 (solo) rather than an instruction for all to sing!

    Another issue is simply that the tune is difficult to sing to (it sounds like a funeral dirge in my opinion). Add to the complication that many of the athletes were schooled at a time when there was opposition to the anthem in educational circles. While I can’t find anything particularly offensive or overly nationalistic in the lyrics, I can’t find anything inspiring either – something about “until pebbles grow into boulders covered with moss” is hardly likely to invoke feelings of pride.

    Reply
  • Another interesting article on the beeb website:

    “How Japan came to believe in depression….” **

    “.. Up until the late 1990s in Japan, “depression” was a word rarely heard outside psychiatric circles. Some claimed this was because people in Japan simply did not suffer depression. They found ways to accommodate these feelings while somehow carrying on with life. And they gave low moods aesthetic expression – in art, in film, in the enjoyment of cherry blossom and their fleeting beauty….”

    The report also provides a link the the author, whom gave further insights (worth downloading before it is removed from the BBC play list):
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07cv0y4
    in a 4 part series.

    ** http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-36824927

    Reply

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