DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 23, 2018

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 23, 2018

Table of Contents:
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ASSIMILATION AND ITS DUES
1) Naomi Osaka’s US Open victory over Serena Williams: Congratulations, but I don’t think you know what you’re getting yourself into.
2) JT/Kyodo: Immigration Bureau to be upgraded to Immigration Agency April 2019. Baby steps towards Immigration Ministry with actual immigration policy?
3) GOJ sets targets for importing even more NJ temp labor, Kyodo editorializes on how badly Japan needs NJ

ASSIMILATION AND ITS MISINTERPRETATIONS
4) Farrah on Hamamatsu’s city-sponsored “Gaijin Day” event: Problematic wording and execution, esp. given the history of Hamamatsu, and who attended.
5) NYT: Dr. Sacko, Kyoto Seika University’s African-Born President, claims no experience of racism in Japan. Just of “being treated differently because he doesn’t look Japanese”. Huh?
6) Daily Show’s Trevor Noah controversy on French World Cup team: “Africa won the World Cup”. Debito.org disagrees with French Ambassador’s protest letter.
7) Kyodo/Mainichi: Japan increases “nuclear security” before 2019 Rugby World Cup, 2020 Olympics (again, insinuating NJ are potential terrorists)
8 ) TJ on “Doing a Debito”: Gaijin Carded at Nagoya Airport and Airport Comfort Inn

… and finally…

9) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 112: “What about we stop it with the ‘whataboutism’?” (July 16, 2018)
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By Debito Arudou Ph.D. (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito)
The Debito.org Newsletter is, as always, freely forwardable.

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ASSIMILATION AND ITS DUES

1) Naomi Osaka’s US Open victory over Serena Williams: Congratulations, but I don’t think you know what you’re getting yourself into.

I want to say congratulations to Naomi Osaka for winning the US Open last weekend, soundly defeating her hero and template, tennis legend Serena Williams. But Ms. Osaka, I don’t think you have idea what you’ve gotten yourself into by deciding to play for Japan.

Debito.org has talked extensively in the past how Japan puts undue pressure on its athletes (especially in international competitions, since national pride and issues of superiority-inferiority come into play very quickly), sometimes with fatal results. Doubly so for “haafu” Japanese, since questions about their identity and loyalties seep in to complicate things further. There are plenty of examples of Japanese with diverse backgrounds being discounted or disqualified from being “true” Japanese when they don’t win something (such as international beauty pageants). But when they do win (as seen numerous times with Japan’s Nobel Laureates, many of whom have long left Japan, taken foreign citizenships, and even said that they wouldn’t have gotten their achievements if they had remained in Japan), it’s suddenly because they are “Japanese”. But most of that support will only continue if she continues to win. Otherwise, given Japan’s constant self-conception as radicalized entities, she’d be losing tournaments because of her mixed-ness (as has been claimed about Japan’s rugby teams and figure skaters). She’s not pure enough as a haafu to measure up.

So why do it? The NYT notes why Ms. Osaka’s father decided she should represent Japan: “”If Osaka played under the American flag, it’s very unlikely that these [highly-lucrative] opportunities would exist. Japanese companies would have no reason to court her and U.S. brands would have other higher-ranked young guns to consider, like Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens. But as Japan’s top-ranked player, Osaka has the full attention of the country’s top brands, whose sponsorship fees can run far higher than those of their Western counterparts.”

Then all Ms. Osaka’s talent and youthful energy may wind up being frittered away dealing with Japan’s pressure on their sports representatives — a pressure of perfectionism that expects Japanese champions to remain champions no matter what. In essence, this approach, decided by Ms. Osaka’s father, to make her a bigger-fish-in-a-smaller-pond may backfire, becoming the millstone around her neck: a drag that could shorten her overall career if not her life. Again, I congratulate Ms. Osaka on her success, and wish her the best of luck. But I really don’t think she knows what she’s gotten herself into.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15145

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2) JT/Kyodo: Immigration Bureau to be upgraded to Immigration Agency April 2019. Baby steps towards Immigration Ministry with actual immigration policy?

JT: The Justice Ministry will upgrade its Immigration Bureau to an agency from April to deal with an anticipated influx of foreign workers, Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa said at a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday. With the government seeking to accept more foreign workers from April and introducing a new status of residence amid a serious labor crunch across industries, the Justice Ministry will be conducting “a fundamental revision of the Immigration Bureau” and is currently finalizing the establishment of a new agency that will oversee immigration, Kamikawa said. […]

COMMENT: The GOJ is starting to take NJ influx more seriously now, with a ministerial upgrade (from Bureau to Agency). When it becomes a full-fledged Ministry that explicitly says “Immigration” in it (as in, Imin-Shou), not a “Bureau/Agency for Processing National Influx” (which is what the Nyuukoku Kanri Kyoku literally is), with an actual Immigration Policy, then Debito.org will be a bit more cheery. That raises hope that someday the GOJ will actually want NJ to stay and become productive members of society and citizens, not revolving-door visa recipients.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15129

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3) GOJ sets targets for importing even more NJ temp labor, Kyodo editorializes on how badly Japan needs NJ

Debito.org has been charting for decades just how much Japan reflexively distrusts NJ, and wants them in and out of here as soon as possible without settling down (hence no official immigration policy). Yet, in case you wonder why this is still an issue, here’s yet another article demonstrating why Japan NEEDS NJ labor, and intends to import even more (and as ever, temporarily):

Kyodo: The government has set a target of accepting 10,000 Vietnamese caregivers by the summer of 2020 to address a chronic labor shortage in the nursing sector, an official said Wednesday… Due to the country’s rapidly graying population, the labor ministry estimates a need for an additional 550,000 caregivers in fiscal 2025 compared to the fiscal 2016 total… Japan is also considering inviting caregivers from other countries, including Indonesia and Cambodia, the official said. As of March last year, there were roughly 1.9 million carers in Japan. The labor ministry estimates Japan will need about 2.45 million care workers in fiscal 2025, at which point the people belonging to the baby boomer generation born in the late 1940s will all be 75 years or older, meaning the need for nursing care service will almost certainly increase…

COMMENT: Oddly enough (or rather, not so oddly), Japan’s corporate sector is again asking for more cheap labor without taking into account that they are importing people, not raw materials. And of course, as argued below in the second Kyodo JT article on the same day, there is at best mumbled support for actual immigration.

This isn’t a sustainable long-term strategy, and everybody knows it. But they go through the kabuki for as long as possible. I daresay someday soon somebody will advocate Middle-Eastern-Oil-Countries’ style labor importation (where foreigners do all the work, and wind up outnumbering the leisured citizen class), since we’ve already had one major Japanese pundit crazily arguing for instituting South-African-style Apartheid in Japan. Except for one problem with ever considering an oil-economy model: Japan is not an oil economy. And again, Japan’s other silly policy balloon — robotizing society — doesn’t work either because robots don’t pay taxes.

In sum, Debito.org advocates that Japan consider a real immigration policy to make NJ migrants into permanent residents and citizens. It’s the only way, as myself and the UN (not to mention the Japanese Government itself!) have argued for decades, to avert Japan’s otherwise unavoidable demographic crisis.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15107

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ASSIMILATION AND ITS MISINTERPRETATIONS

4) Farrah on Hamamatsu’s city-sponsored “Gaijin Day” event: Problematic wording and execution, esp. given the history of Hamamatsu, and who attended.

FARRAH: In late-August, an ALT friend of mine from Kansai told me about this event that was happening in Hamamatsu, called, “Gaijin Day”. Amused and slightly offended by the wording, she was actually interested in coming all the way down to my neck of the woods to attend it. The flyer for the event went viral in many expat groups on social media, and posts were flooded with comments about the title of the event. I figured that the organizers chose to call this event “Gaijin Day” to get lots of attention, and they did.

At first I thought that it would merely be a spectacle of foreigners flying into Japan to perform. But when I looked at the list, it was a bunch of people who were sansei/yonsei, Japanese people of mixed-heritage who lived in the Tokai region. I was immediately offended by the name of the event at that point. This is my fifth year living in Hamamatsu, and I’ve done extensive ethnographic research on Brazilian and Peruvian immigrant communities since November of last year. I know that referring to such an established part of the Japanese diaspora as merely “gaijin” was inaccurate and disrespectful. The worst part of all was that the Hamamatsu City Government and HICE Center (Hamamatsu Foundation for International Communication and Exchange) were the main sponsors for the event. […]

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: First, it is disappointing that the site of Gaijin no Hi is Hamamatsu. Given Hamamatsu’s special history with NJ residents (particularly its very progressive Hamamatsu Sengen of 2001), using exclusionary language such as “Gaijin” (given its history as an epithet as well; see below) feels truly, as Farrah put it, regressive. Have they also learned nothing from the Toyoda Sengen of 2004 and Yokkaichi Sengen of 2006? Second, about that word Gaijin. As I’ve argued before, it’s essentially a radicalized epithet with “othering” dynamics similar to “nigger”. My arguments for that are in my Japan Times columns here, here, and here. Bad form, Hamamatsu. You should know better by now. And if not by now, how much will it take? That’s the power of Embedded Racism: It even overcomes history.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15135

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5) NYT: Dr. Sacko, Kyoto Seika University’s African-Born President, claims no experience of racism in Japan. Just of “being treated differently because he doesn’t look Japanese”. Huh?

People in Japan are still accepting the antiquated notion of “race” as an abstract, biological concept. As opposed to a socially-constructed one that differs from society to society in its definitions and enforcement, or as a performative one that is created through the process of “differentiation”, “othering”, and subordination. So strong is this centuries-old belief that even Mali-born naturalized Japanese Dr. Oussouby Sacko, recently-elected president of Kyoto Seika University (congratulations!), made the bold statement in the New York Times that his differential treatment in Japan is not due to racism: “Dr. Sacko, a citizen of Japan for 16 years, says he is treated differently because he does not look Japanese. But he distinguished that from racism. ‘It’s not because you’re black,’ he said.”

Sorry, that’s not now modern definitions of racism work anymore, Dr. Sacko. Differential treatment of Visible Minorities in Japan is still a racialization process. But I guess anyone can succumb to the predominant “Japan is not racist” groupthink if it is that strong. Read the NYT article below for fuller context. But the questions remain: Is this a form of Stockholm Syndrome? A cynical attempt to parrot the narrative for the sake of professional advancement? A lack of awareness and social-science training on the part of a person, despite fluency in several languages, with a doctorate in a non-social science (engineering/architecture)? I’m open to suggestion. Especially from Dr. Sacko himself, if he’s reading.

In any case, congratulations, Dr. Sacko. But I would suggest you utilize your position also to raise awareness about the very real issues of racism in Japan, not attempt a mitigating or denialist approach.

http://www.debito.org/?p=14968

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6) Daily Show’s Trevor Noah controversy on French World Cup team: “Africa won the World Cup”. Debito.org disagrees with French Ambassador’s protest letter.

Trevor Noah, host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”, pointed out early last month how the ethnically-diverse French Soccer Team won the 2018 World Cup, what with a significant number of their players of African origin. He summarized it as a joke: “Africa won the World Cup!” This occasioned a letter of protest from Gerard Araud, Ambassador of France to the U.S (excerpt):

“As many of the players have already stated themselves, their parents may have come from another country, but the great majority of them, all but two out of 23 were born in France. They were educated in France. They learned to play soccer in France. They are French citizens. They’re proud of their country, France. The rich and various backgrounds of these players are a reflection of France’s diversity. France is indeed a cosmopolitan country. But every citizen is part of the French identity. Together they belong to the nation of France. Unlike in the United States of America, France does not refer to its citizens based on their race, religion, or origin. To us, there is no hyphenated identity. Roots are an individual reality. By calling them an African team, it seems like you’re denying their French-ness. This, even in jest, legitimizes the ideology which claims whiteness is the only definition of being French.”

Noah counterargued: “Why can’t they be both? Why is that duality only afforded a select group of people? Why can’t they not be African? What they’re arguing here is, ‘In order to be French, you have to erase everything that is African…?” So what are they saying when they say, ‘our culture’? So you cannot be French and African at the same time, which I vehemently disagree with… I love how African they are, and how French they are. I don’t take their French-ness away, but I also don’t think you have to take their their African-ness away.” He concluded, “And that is what I love about America. America is not a perfect country, but what I love about this place is that people can still celebrate their identity in their American-ness.”

COMMENT: Debito.org’s take on this is probably not hard to guess. We agree with Noah’s argument that hyphenated identities can, should, and in fact must exist, as a) hyphenated identities are a reality (people are diverse, and they shouldn’t have to suppress them for national goals of homogeneity); b) they are a personal choice, to include as one’s self-determined identity, and not the business of The State to police; and c) the alternative incurs too many abuses…

http://www.debito.org/?p=15116

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7) Kyodo/Mainichi: Japan increases “nuclear security” before 2019 Rugby World Cup, 2020 Olympics (again, insinuating NJ are potential terrorists)

Kyodo: As part of the country’s efforts to boost counterterrorism steps before hosting the major sporting events, the government will aim at enforcing related laws in September 2019, in time for the Rugby tourney kicking off on Sept. 20 that year… Hospitals and companies and the like would be required to install surveillance cameras near their storage sites for radioactive materials. The containers must be kept in rooms with solid doors and manuals and communication equipment must be provided for personnel to deal with intruders, to prevent such materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.

Amid the globally mounting threat of terrorism, the International Atomic Energy Agency advised countries in January 2011 to take measures to better manage radioactive materials. Tokyo, however, has yet to introduce these steps due to its need to deal with the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

COMMENT: Entry #715 in the continuing saga of Japan’s “Blame Game”, where Non-Japanese are falsely blamed for all manner of unrelated things. The IAEA has recommended sensible precautions. Yet the GOJ has taken its time to implement them since 2011. It’s only suddenly seeing the light because of “intruders”, clearly in this case meaning NJ coming to Japan during the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Clearly? Yes. You’re telling me Japan didn’t have issues of “intruders” before this? It does have “terrorists”, but so far they’ve all been Japanese (i.e., Aum, The Red Army, etc).

As I wrote in my Japan Times column last week, “Japan invites over waves of foreign nationals (be they workers, tourists or diplomats), hate speech and reactionary policies emerge.” I mentioned there about the weird new minpaku laws stopping AirBnB style homestays with the general public (because NJ might be ISIS terrorists or child molesters!). This new policy has a similar Embedded Racism, and it’s unproblematized in the article above.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15089

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8 ) TJ on “Doing a Debito”: Gaijin Carded at Nagoya Airport and Airport Comfort Inn

Submitter TJ: I’m an American married to a Japanese, and we’re on an adventure doing standby flights from Japan to overseas. However, unluckily we got bumped at Nagoya Airport. So we checked into a Comfort Inn at the airport in my (Japanese) spouse’s name. He filled out the card for our twin room. But the receptionist looked at me and said that she needed to photocopy my passport. But I know from Debito.org that she doesn’t have the legal obligation to photocopy my passport, or even see any ID, when I have a Japanese address as a Japanese resident, and I told her so. So she said she needed to copy my “Gaijin Card”, or Zairyuu Residence Card.

I gave her a chotto matte kudasai… and dug out that nifty Japanese paper you posted on Debito.org years ago and I held it up to her to read, showing her the letter of the law that says that ID is only required for tourists, not for residents of Japan, including foreign residents. Another receptionist came over to investigate, and I repeated that I live in Japan permanently. Basically, the other woman’s attitude was since my Japanese spouse was with me, I didn’t have to hand any ID to be photocopied. Because I’m “one of the good ones”. Not a win, but I don’t think she expected me to stand my ground the way I did. Thanks to Debito.org. But then I got carded again by Nagoya Airport Security for sitting in the airport lobby while foreign…

http://www.debito.org/?p=15121

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… and finally…

9) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 112: “What about we stop it with the ‘whataboutism’?” (July 16, 2018)

JBC 112: These are troubling times for human rights activists. For 27 years I’ve been writing about civil, political and human rights for non-Japanese (NJ) and other minorities in Japan. And I’ve never been more confused.

Not least because the United States, the putative paragon of human rights, has been flouting them. Remember, this is a country so cocksure about its own record that its State Department offers annual “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” for each United Nations member. Yet President Donald Trump has been undermining international norms of law, justice and society — and with the glee of a super-villain.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, recently we’ve seen U.S. leadership abrogate numerous treaties, erode well-established security and trade regimes (such as NATO and the G7), cozy up to the world’s most authoritarian regimes and mimic their tactics, invoke the language of white nationalism to dehumanize minorities, and foment a culture of fear, loathing and vindictive reprisal towards anyone not in their ideological camp.

Speaking of camps, who would have ever imagined that the U.S. would put foreign children in cages? Create “tender-age” internment centers for toddlers separated from their families at the border? Force 3-year-olds to represent themselves in American immigration courts? Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy for undocumented migration and asylum seekers is so cruel that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights denounced it as “unconscionable” and “illegal” under international law. Hours later, the U.S. petulantly withdrew from the Human Rights Council, of which it had been a charter member since 1947.

In Just Be Cause’s view, the worst thing about these rapid-fire shocks to the system is not the confusion but the distraction. Presidential historian Jon Meacham, author of “The Soul of America,” pointed out how Trump “owns our mind space” in what he calls “the world’s longest hostage siege.” We are prisoners of a self-promoting celebrity so adept at managing news cycles that he sucks the oxygen from other issues.

So this is where we arrive at the big question of this column: How can JBC focus on human rights in Japan given the distractions in America?…

http://www.debito.org/?p=15077

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That’s all for this month. Thanks for reading!
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 23, 2018 ENDS

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2 comments on “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 23, 2018

  • Wanted to post this under the recent ‘Taikyo no Shunkan’ article, but realized it was too off topic so let me post this here.
    —————————————————————
    Since the end of the article got to me, allow me to share two personal stories from my current that came to my mind after reading the final paragraph.

    > will there be any retractions[1], apologies[2] for stereotyping

    Based on personal experiences:
    [1]Wouldn’t expect that.
    [2]Maybe.. although depends on what is your definition of apology.
    =================================
    Story 1:
    Posted a comment on the company intranet under an article aboutforeign interns interacting with a group of local kids.

    The interns were reported to have visited X, Y, and Z – all famous tourist attractions.. with the names quoted in katakana, not kanji. (reminded me of that famous tv trope with NJ speaking Japanese and having to use all-katakana subtitles…)

    To which I posted something along the lines of: ‘Why is this katakana? Don’t make fun of on people’s non-native-level pronunciation, esp. since you most likely have your own pronunciation issues while speaking another language’.

    Site admin’s reaction (*apparently a manager of sorts): We are sorry, we didn’t mean to pick on them. We will try to think about the wording more carefully next time.
    [*did NOT change that katakana to kanji]

    My response: Maybe no malicious intent indeed, but the fact that in effect you managed to other interns still stands…
    ======================================
    Story 2:
    Another article on the company intranet [different author this time]. Report from a western branch of the company, with the shacho being refered to as ‘-san’. [Mr. James, anyone..?!]

    I wrote a letter to the author why did they do this; after all, the default way of referring to adults in a business setting in Japanese is ‘-san’, isn’t it? (and surely the author wouldn’t refer to OUR shacho this way, would they? – I added)

    Approximate reply: ‘sorry, didn’t mean to be disrespectful, but that’s the way I called him in English so it was subconscious.. will try to have this in mind’
    Furthermore, this time no retraction as well – the author did NOT change -san to -san; finally, another article by same author issued a couple weeks later featured the same towards another higher up from another western country..
    ====================================
    Am I crazy?
    What would you do if you were me in the case of Stories 1 and 2?

    Reply

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