DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 4, 2016

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 4, 2016

Table of Contents:

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GOOD NEWS
1) Japan Times: Celebrating Japan’s multiethnic Rio 2016 Olympians: Meet the athletes challenging traditional views of what it is to be Japanese
2) “Deep in Japan” Podcast interviews Debito on Racism in Japan and book “Embedded Racism” (UPDATED: Goes viral in Poland, more than 8000 listens)
3) Finger Lakes Times: Former Genevan, now a Japanese citizen and author, details his experiences in book on racism in Japan

SAME OLD SHAME OLD
4) Asahi: Japan’s Supreme Court approves police surveillance of Muslim residents due to their religion: Next up, surveilling NJ residents due to their extranationality?
5) Japan Center for Michigan Universities: Report and video interview of Muslim Lawyer Hayashi Junko on issues faced by Muslims in Japan (surveillance by police, including of Japanese kith and kin)
6) Nikkei: Japan begins clearing path for foreign workers. Really? Let’s analyze the proposals.
7) Nikkei Asian Review wrongly reports “Japanese law requires hotels to check and keep copies of foreigners’ passports”. Corrected after protest, but misreported text still proliferates
8 ) TIME Magazine and Japan Times on how online trolls (particularly Reddit) are ruining the Internet and media in general

… and finally…
9) Japan Times JBC column 99, “For Abe, it will always be about the Constitution”, Aug 1, 2016
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By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito
Debito.org Newsletters Freely Forwardable

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GOOD NEWS

1) Japan Times: Celebrating Japan’s multiethnic Rio 2016 Olympians: Meet the athletes challenging traditional views of what it is to be Japanese

JT: Japan is home to 2.2 million foreign residents, and like it or not, a growing number of them are marrying Japanese citizens. The number of international marriages increased tenfold between 1965 and 2007, with registered new multiracial couples peaking at 40,272. Due to tighter immigration rules, the number has since dropped considerably, but marriages between Japanese and foreign nationals still make up roughly 1 in 30 unions — and around 1 in 10 in Tokyo.

However, no matter how common international marriages are today, Japanese society still sets the children of these couples apart. They may have grown up as Japanese citizens or be fluent at the language, but many complain of feeling excluded or discriminated against because of their backgrounds. These individuals’ struggles in dealing with their classification as hāfu (half) have been recounted numerous times in the media, particularly by bicultural figures in the public eye.

Some of these children, however, grow up to be Olympians — flying the flag for Japan and challenging the conventional definition of what it means to be Japanese. At the Rio Olympics, more than any before, multicultural Japanese athletes have been a notable presence in the stadiums. Here are profiles of some of these athletes — those who have given their all in Rio for Team Japan, broken the glass ceiling and possibly even opened up minds in their homeland. (List follows with photos)

http://www.debito.org/?p=14168

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2) “Deep in Japan” Podcast interviews Debito on Racism in Japan and book “Embedded Racism” (UPDATED: Goes viral in Poland, more than 8000 listens)

Podcast: Deep in Japan, by Jeff Krueger
Title: “Debito: Racism in Japan”
Released: Aug 14, 2016
In this podcast, I interview writer, researcher, activist, Japan Times columnist, naturalized Japanese citizen and, most recently, author of the amazing book, Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination,” Dr. Arudou Debito. If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Debito’s books and articles, visit his award-winning blog at www.debito.org.

COMMENT: Jeff did a lot of research for this podcast, including reading 400-page book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” in three sittings, and investigating much of the anti-activist narrative in Japan. I had a listen to it this morning, and think it’s probably the best interview I’ve ever had done.

http://www.debito.org/?p=14160

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3) Finger Lakes Times: Former Genevan, now a Japanese citizen and author, details his experiences in book on racism in Japan

My old hometown newspaper in Geneva, NY, interviewed me for a local article.

http://www.debito.org/?p=14143

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SAME OLD SHAME OLD

4) Asahi: Japan’s Supreme Court approves police surveillance of Muslim residents due to their religion: Next up, surveilling NJ residents due to their extranationality?

Asahi: Muslims can still be monitored in Japan solely based on their religion, while in the United States courts are cracking down on granting such approval. An appeal by 17 Muslim plaintiffs accusing police of snooping on them was dismissed by the Japanese Supreme Court in late May, which upheld lower court decisions.

The plaintiffs argued that “carrying out surveillance of us on grounds of our religion amounts to discrimination and is a violation of the Constitution” in the lawsuit filed against the Tokyo metropolitan and the central government. Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department had been keeping close tabs on Muslims solely because of their religion, reasoning it was pre-empting possible terrorism. […]

The recent Japanese case came to light in 2010 after 114 articles from internal MPD documents containing personal information on Muslim residents in Japan were leaked online. Data included names, photos, addresses, employers and friends.

The leaked data showed that the documents were compiled in a style of a resume on each individual, along with a record of tailing them. Compensation of 90 million yen ($874,000) was awarded to the plaintiffs by the Tokyo District Court and the Tokyo High Court, which ruled there was a “flaw in information management.” However, the plaintiffs appealed because the courts stated “surveillance of Muslims” was “unavoidable” in order to uncover terror plots. The top court sided with lower court rulings, declaring the surveillance was not unconstitutional.

COMMENT: The obvious extension of this legitimization of racial profiling (defined as using a process of differentiation, othering, and subordination to target a people in Japan; it does not have to rely on phenotypical “looks”) is that for “national security reasons” the next step is to target and snoop on all foreign residents in Japan. Because they might be terrorists. The National Police Agency et al. have already been justifying the targeting of NJ as terrorists (not to mention as criminals, “illegal overstayers”, holders of “foreign DNA”, and carriers of contagious diseases). And Japan’s Supreme Court has now effectively given the green light to that too. The noose further tightens around NJ residents in Japan.

http://www.debito.org/?p=14145

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5) Japan Center for Michigan Universities: Report and video interview of Muslim Lawyer Hayashi Junko on issues faced by Muslims in Japan (surveillance by police, including of Japanese kith and kin)

JCMU: On July 23, 2016 the Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU) in Hikone welcomed Junko Hayashi, Japan’s first female Muslim attorney, to speak about Islam and the issues faced by Muslims in Japan. In a recent court battle, Mrs. Hayashi represented Japanese Muslims that were being observed by the Japanese government for no reason other than the fact that they were Muslims. Their surveillance came to light after information gathered by police was accidentally leaked to the public on the internet. Despite this, Japanese courts ruled that there was no constitutional violation and that the threat of international terrorism outweighed any right to privacy held by the plaintiffs. […]

In the interview, Mrs. Hayashi lamented that “all Muslims are equal to criminal suspects” in Japan. She noted that because of prejudice against practitioners of Islam, she and the rest of the Japanese Muslim community are denied personal and privacy rights enjoyed by most other citizens. “Their rights are violated and they can’t do anything about it,” Mrs. Hayashi explained. The stereotypes of Muslims have little factual support, as no acts of terrorism have been carried out by Muslims in Japan to Mrs. Hayashi’s knowledge. To redress this discrimination and support those affected by the government’s continued surveillance, she hopes to start a human rights organization.

COMMENT: And from this, it’s but a few steps until approving surveillance of Non-Japanese residents as “criminal suspects”. And from that their kith and kin. Japan’s Police State is returning.

http://www.debito.org/?p=14151

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6) Nikkei: Japan begins clearing path for foreign workers. Really? Let’s analyze the proposals.

The Economist (London) recently has had a couple of articles on immigration to and even naturalization into Japan (here and here), so it looks like PM Abe’s alleged pushes to liberalize Japan’s NJ labor market (despite these other countering trends here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) are gaining traction in the overseas media. Let’s take a representative sample of the narrative being spun by the Japanese media (in this case the Nikkei, Japan’s WSJ) for overseas consumption, and see if it holds up to scrutiny. For example:

Nikkei: The government looks to ease residency requirements for guest workers. The Justice Ministry will recognize certified foreign care workers as specialists worthy of the corresponding visa status. Japan currently admits care workers through economic partnership agreements, but those are limited to countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines. The number of guest workers is expected to increase by allowing care givers who learn Japanese or professional skill sets at educational institutions to work in Japan.

Necessary legislation is to be enacted during the extraordinary Diet session this fall, with the measures taking effect next fiscal year. The government also seeks quick passage of legislation to add the care worker category to Japan’s Technical Intern Training Program, which provides support to developing nations.

COMMENT: They tried that before. Until the Indonesians and Filipinas realized they were being exploited by a revolving-door visa system that deliberately set the bar too high for passing, and decided to pass on Japan altogether. So Japan’s policymakers are moving on to the next sucker societies: Cambodia and Vietnam. Which, note, are also not kanji-literate societies; if the GOJ really wanted to get people to pass the nurse literacy test, they would get nurses from China or Chinese-diaspora countries. The fact that they won’t speaks volumes about true policy intentions. As does the final sentence, where they admit that it’s just an expansion of the”Trainee” slave-labor program, exempt from Japan’s labor laws protection.

There is nothing in this policy trial-balloon article that constitutes actual immigration, i.e., bringing in people and making them into Japanese citizens with equal protection guaranteed under the law. Until that happens, there is no discussion here worthy of headlining this as a “cleared path” for foreign workers. It’s merely more of the same exploitation of imported laborers in a weakened position by government design.

http://www.debito.org/?p=14156

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7) Nikkei Asian Review wrongly reports “Japanese law requires hotels to check and keep copies of foreigners’ passports”. Corrected after protest, but misreported text still proliferates

Nikkei: Visitors to Japan will be able to use their fingerprints instead of passports to identify themselves at some hotels thanks to technology introduced by a Tokyo venture. With financial help from the economy and industry ministry, Liquid will start offering a fingerprint-based authorization system by March in a bid to increase travel convenience. Some 80 hotels and Japanese-style inns in major tourist spots like Hakone and Atami, two hot spring resort areas not far from Tokyo, will be among the first to install the system. More inns and hotels will follow. […]

Japanese law requires hotels to check and keep copies of foreigners’ passports. But the economy ministry and the ministry of labor have decided to treat “digital passports” as legitimate alternatives.

Reader XY to the Nikkei: This article contains an incorrect statement: “Japanese law requires hotels to check and keep copies of foreigners’ passports.” In fact, Japanese law requires hotels to check the passports of foreigners who don’t have an address in Japan. The most important point is that the law does not apply to all foreigners but to foreign tourists who do not have an address in Japan. This is a matter of concern to many who live in Japan and occasionally are asked for passports based on a misunderstanding of the law. A second point is that keeping copies of passports is not mentioned in the law — it is a directive from the police. The law only calls for keeping records.

Nikkei: Thank you so much. We will check the Ryokan Law and see if we need to change the sentence.

COMMENT: Nikkei corrected it to remove the last paragraph mentioning that sentence entirely — and that’s about as close as we’ll ever get to them admitting they made a mistake. But as we’ve written here many times before, the National Police Agency keeps lying about their lawgiven powers regarding tracking foreign guests at Japanese hotels. XY wonders if somebody at the NPA wasn’t involved in creating this misinformed article. It wouldn’t be the first time, and a recent (and very funny) article came out over the weekend describing how the Japanese Police have historically stretched laws to outlaw public behavior they basically just personally disliked. Just another example of how Japan is actually a mild (or sometimes not) police state. And that’s even before we get to the whole issue of re-fingerprinting NJ and the flawed reasoning behind it.

http://www.debito.org/?p=14149

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8 ) TIME Magazine and Japan Times on how online trolls (particularly Reddit) are ruining the Internet and media in general

TIME: This story is not a good idea. Not for society and certainly not for me. Because what trolls feed on is attention. And this little bit–these several thousand words–is like leaving bears a pan of baklava.

It would be smarter to be cautious, because the Internet’s personality has changed. Once it was a geek with lofty ideals about the free flow of information. Now, if you need help improving your upload speeds the web is eager to help with technical details, but if you tell it you’re struggling with depression it will try to goad you into killing yourself. Psychologists call this the online disinhibition effect, in which factors like anonymity, invisibility, a lack of authority and not communicating in real time strip away the mores society spent millennia building. And it’s seeping from our smartphones into every aspect of our lives.

The people who relish this online freedom are called trolls, a term that originally came from a fishing method online thieves use to find victims. It quickly morphed to refer to the monsters who hide in darkness and threaten people. Internet trolls have a manifesto of sorts, which states they are doing it for the “lulz,” or laughs. What trolls do for the lulz ranges from clever pranks to harassment to violent threats. There’s also doxxing–publishing personal data, such as Social Security numbers and bank accounts–and swatting, calling in an emergency to a victim’s house so the SWAT team busts in. When victims do not experience lulz, trolls tell them they have no sense of humor. Trolls are turning social media and comment boards into a giant locker room in a teen movie, with towel-snapping racial epithets and misogyny. They’ve been steadily upping their game…

Japan Times: This sort of behavior is not new. Trolls — individuals who purposely send insulting and threatening messages to comments sections and social media sites — may be an Internet-specific phenomenon, but the impulses that drive them are general and eternal. Some say the difference is less ideological than psychological: serial harassers hide behind masks to express their grievances with the world, regardless of political leanings. But ideology, or at least the presumption of a “position,” is always the delivery device for the grievance. […] Media outlets should prevent intimidation any way they can, but they’re failing their mission if they don’t stand up to it.

COMMENT: This is dangerous stuff. As the veteran of many years of online death threats myself, Cyberstalking is still stalking, and Japan no longer tolerates it like it used to outside of the Internet. Debito.org reiterates its stance that something should be done to make these anonyms into real people taking responsibility for their statements. To me, that means registering real names under traceable conditions, as has happened (abortively) in South Korea. Short of that, the trolls will continue to sour and soil the online environment, depriving others of the freedom of speech the trolls themselves allegedly cherish (and use as their excuse for abuse) by remaining anonymous, immune to the same critique and exposure they mete out to others.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11842

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… and finally…

9) Japan Times JBC column 99, “For Abe, it will always be about the Constitution”, Aug 1, 2016

JBC: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scored a hat trick this election, and it reaffirmed his mandate to do whatever he likes. And you’re probably not going to like what that is.

Of those three victories, the first election in December 2012 was a rout of the leftist Democratic Party of Japan and it thrust the more powerful Lower House of Parliament firmly into the hands of the long-incumbent Liberal Democratic Party under Abe. The second election in December 2014 further normalized Japan’s lurch to the far right, giving the ruling coalition a supermajority of 2/3 of the seats in the Lower House.

July’s election delivered the Upper House to Abe. And how. Although a few protest votes found their way to small fringe leftist parties, the LDP and parties simpatico with Abe’s policies picked up even more seats. And with the recent defection of Diet member Tatsuo Hirano from the opposition, the LDP alone has a parliamentary majority for the first time in 27 years, and a supermajority of simpaticos. Once again the biggest loser was the leftist Democratic Party, whose fall from power three years ago has even accelerated.

So that’s it then: Abe has achieved his goals. And with that momentum he’s going to change the Japanese Constitution.

Amazingly, this isn’t obvious to some observers. The Wall Street Journal, The Economist (London), and Abe insiders still cheerfully opined that Abe’s primary concern remains the economy — that constitutional reform will remain on the backburner. But some media made similar optimistic predictions after Abe’s past electoral victories…

http://www.debito.org/?p=14130

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That’s all for this month. Thanks for reading!
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 4, 2016 ENDS

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15 comments on “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 4, 2016

  • An interesting comment labelled at the current crop of extreme politicians that use bigotry and fear in their language.

    “The UN’s human rights chief has launched a scathing attack on Western populist politicians, branding them “demagogues and political fantasists”…..” *

    He should also state Asian too. Since this comment rings very true here in Japan:

    “…”All seek in varying degrees to recover a past, halcyon and so pure in form, where sunlit fields are settled by peoples united by ethnicity or religion. A past that most certainly, in reality, did not exist anywhere, ever.”….” Just like Abe et al, with their rose tinted Edo period glorious days glasses!

    * http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37281738

  • For a second year in a row…..good 🙂

    “Miss Japan won by half Indian Priyanka Yoshikawa…..” *

    “…”I know a lot of people who are haafu and suffer,” she said. “When I came back to Japan, everyone thought I was a germ.”….”We are Japanese,” Ms Yoshikawa told AFP news agency. “Yes, my dad is Indian and I’m proud of it, I’m proud that I have Indian in me. But that doesn’t mean I’m not Japanese.”…”

    Oh dear the racial “purity” of those rose tinted glass of Abe et al is being shattered, again!…what next??

    * http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-37283518

  • @ Jim, not really. Being born in Japan and being accepted as such, is a different issue from opposing unfettered East European and massive refugee influx to places they themselves decry as having little in common with, or being bossed around by German banks and horrible, unaccountable, EU corporatist agenda.

    As Tony Benn, leftist champion of the underdog and anti racist famously said, “I cannot hand away powers lent to me (to the EU)”. It is not a left-right issue. Plenty on the left also favour Brexit. E.g. The Beast of Bolsover, Dennis Skinner. https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-e4af-Beast-of-Bolsover-Im-voting-out

    So it is the UN human rights chief here generalizing. Lets not trivialize the Japanese issue here with comparisons to the global stage.

  • @ Baudrillard, #4

    When you say stuff like this;

    “being bossed around by German banks and horrible, unaccountable, EU corporatist agenda”, you lose all credibility for me.

    ‘German banks’? You mean the Central European Bank?
    ‘EU corporatist agenda’? You mean all that tariff free exporting and importing UK business can do?

    — That’s it. Thread terminated. No more posts regarding Brexit that are not in some way related back to Japan will be approved. And that means on any blog post. This is a blog about Japan.

  • This article in Japan Times annoys me;

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2016/09/28/commentary/japan-commentary/japanese-society-deteriorating/

    It annoys me because it says that Japanese society can be seen to be deteriorating because Japanese people are discriminating against Japanese with disabilities (which I agree is deplorable), but discrimination against NJ can be discounted since NJ are so few in Japan.

    Did the writer never consider that NJ are so few in Japan precisely because discrimination against them is so immense? Clearly not.

  • Baudrillard says:

    @Jim, above.” driven by beliefs…just like the Nazis.”Japan was never denazified properly. Not “like” the Nazis, they WERE Nazis. Unit 731’s Shiro Ishii was let off- they used both NJs and the disabled as test subjects in their horrific sadistic “experiments”.

    Lets not mince our words here (like the author of this article). Japan should be taken to task perpetually and tarred with the Nazi brush until meaningful human rights reform is implemented.

    Personally when I first visited Japan in the 80s as an (honored, temporary) guest with some trepidation I got the impression that they were “letting me off” from the preset, poor treatment/exclusion of, e.g. Asian gaijin, and that I should be grateful.

    Which seems to be carried over in the mindset that the right to live/work in Safety Unique-lo Japan temporarily as an NJ is a reward in itself- hence the lack of real incentives or rights.

    The article goes on to say “PM Abe may be no racist” (is the journalist covering himself?) but I rather think his so called immigration “policy” or lack of reflects the “soft” racist default trad mindset of a certain demographic, usually male.

    The seeds of discrimination were already there. Scratch the western veneer, its all still underneath, swept under the carpet.

  • @Jim

    ” In Japan, racial and religious minorities are quite limited in numbers. Instead, people with disabilities and illnesses become the target of social bullying. ”

    I can’t tell whether he’s saying racism against minorities doesn’t happen or if it’s not important. It’s such lazy writing.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Baudrillard #8 & TJJ #9

    It’s just so symptomatic of ‘lazy thinking’ more than anything else, and in my experience constructive feedback of the failings of buying into such lazy thinking is a sure fire way to start a “If you hate Japan so much, why don’t you just go home?” response as a diversion from having to take a look at themselves, in my experience. I have never met a Japanese who didn’t reach for this ‘nuclear option’ when I as an ‘outsider’ (thanks for the discrimination btw) present any critical analysis of any aspect of Japan.

    I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences.

  • Baudrillard says:

    @ Jim, I oft say to my Gaijin Handler that being an NJ (non person?) is akin to being disabled (or at least disenfranchised) in Japan. Obviously this is a tad crass, but I dont have the energy or time to waste debating, so my one liners take an increasingly radical yet brief form to end the conversation, like any talk of WW2 or Japan as victim memes, the classic “Ah, Hitler/Nazis no tomodachi da ne. Naru hodo.”

    What I don’t get is why they think a citizen of the western allies is ever going to accept their version of The Narrative. They too are wasting their energy.

    We aren’t going to talk to these discriminatory people. they do not deserve to be engaged or even listened to.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Baudrillard #12,

    Funny you should bring that up!
    I’ve always felt that many Japanese suffer from ‘false self’;

    ‘”False Self”, by contrast, Winnicott saw as a defensive facade[1] — one which in extreme cases could leave its holders lacking spontaneity and feeling dead and empty, behind a mere appearance of being real.’

    Due to;

    ‘ “Other people’s expectations can become of overriding importance, overlaying or contradicting the original sense of self, the one connected to the very roots of one’s being”.’

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/True_self_and_false_self

  • Baudrillard says:

    @ Jim, absolutely true.” lacking spontaneity and feeling dead and empty, behind a mere appearance of being real.’” is also so post modern, being a combination of over rationalization, a life that holds no surprises as Weber would say, and the preference for the fake, over the real. The Simulacra has replaced the real or original (self).

    Tokyo especially is in the fourth, terminal stage of this process:
    ‘The fourth stage is pure simulation, in which the simulacrum has no relationship to any reality whatsoever. Here, signs merely reflect other signs and any claim to reality on the part of images or signs is only of the order of other such claims. This is a regime of total equivalency, where cultural products need no longer even pretend to be real in a naïve sense, because the experiences of consumers’ lives are so predominantly artificial that even claims to reality are expected to be phrased in artificial, “hyperreal” terms. ”

    Any naïve pretension to reality as such is perceived as bereft of critical self-awareness, and thus as oversentimental.”

    This last sentence also reminds me of derisive reactions to the “Gaijin” challenges to this J reality.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulacra_and_Simulation

  • Baudrillard says:

    Japan and Anime- “where cultural products need no longer even pretend to be real”.
    No wonder J society is “deteriorating”. Abe, Aso and co, the entire right wing, are complete fantasists.

    Just imagine saying to a 19th century philosopher like Marx and Engels, who were interested in the conditions of the working class, that in less than 200 years an East Asian country’s main product would be unreal, animated “idols”.

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