DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 30, 2019

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 30, 2019

Table of Contents:
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VISA ISSUES, SOME LETHAL

1) SCMP: “Japan: now open to foreign workers, but still just as racist?” Quotes Debito.
2) Mainichi: New “open door” visa programs violate basic NJ human rights (now including marriage and children), don’t resolve cruel detention centers, and still curb actual immigration and assimilation
3) Reuters: Yet another NJ detainee dies after hunger strike after 3 years in Japan “detention center”; time for a change in labeling
4) SCMP: Japan needs thousands of foreign workers to decommission Fukushima nuclear site. High irony alert: First blame NJ, then have them clean up your deadly messes.

VISAS BEING MADE AN ISSUE
5) Yomiuri: GOJ now requiring hospitals (unlawfully) demand Gaijin Cards from NJ as a precondition for medical treatment
6) Mark: New Discriminatory Policy by Rakuten Mobile Inc., now “stricter with foreigners”, refusing even Todai MEXT Scholarship Students cellphones
7) Anonymous on Ethical Issues/Discriminatory practices being carried out by Todai and Kyodai against MEXT scholars
8 ) Kyodo: Half of foreigners in Tokyo experienced discrimination: ARIC survey
9) My Japan Times JBC 115: “Know your rights when checking in at an Airbnb” (Apr 17, 2019)

… and finally…
10) Foreign Minister Kouno Taro asks world media to use Japanese ordering of names (Abe Shinzo, not Shinzo Abe) in overseas reportage. Actually, I agree.

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By Debito Arudou Ph.D. (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito)
Debito.org Newsletter is Freely Forwardable

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VISA ISSUES, SOME LETHAL

1) SCMP: “Japan: now open to foreign workers, but still just as racist?” Quotes Debito.

SCMP: Activists point out, however, that the Japanese government’s new regulations that relax visa requirements for workers from abroad mean that there will soon be tens of thousands of additional foreigners living in Japanese communities.

“It’s a net positive that Japan is bringing over more people, since that may help normalise the fact that non-Japanese are contributing to Japanese society,” said Debito Arudou, author of Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination.“ But it is disappointing that Japan still is not doing the groundwork necessary to make these newcomers want to stay and contribute permanently,” he said.

“The new visa regime still treats these non-Japanese entrants as ‘revolving-door’ workers, with no clear path to permanent residency or citizenship.“ And – as the surveys seem to indicate – one fundamental flaw in these plans is that non-Japanese are insufficiently protected from the bigotry found in all societies,” Arudou said.

“Japan still has no national law against racial discrimination, remaining the only major industrialised society without one. Even government mechanisms ostensibly charged with redressing discrimination have no enforcement power. Tokyo needs to pass the laws that make racial discrimination illegal, empower oversight organisations and create an actual immigration policy instead of a “stop-gap labour shortage visa regime”, he said.

“At the very least, tell the public that non-Japanese workers are workers like everyone else, filling a valuable role, contributing to Japanese society and are residents, taxpayers, neighbours and potential future Japanese citizens,” he added.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15660

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2) Mainichi: New “open door” visa programs violate basic NJ human rights (now including marriage and children), don’t resolve cruel detention centers, and still curb actual immigration and assimilation

The Mainichi updates us on how Japan’s oft-toted “wider open door” new visa regimes make sure any actual immigration is held in check, with continuing draconian and deadly treatment for detained NJ. The Mainichi calls them “haphazard immigration policies”, but that’s inaccurate. Japan still has no policy in place to encourage newcomers become immigrants (imin, i.e., firmly-established taxpaying residents and citizens). Au contraire, they’re still part of what Debito.org has called a “revolving-door” visa policy that has been in place for nearly thirty years now (what with the “Trainee” and “Technical Intern” programs that won’t even call NJ laborers “workers” (roudousha) in order to avoid granting them some legal protections), to make sure we take them in young, fresh and cheap, and spit them out when they’re too expensive or past their working prime.

For those who fall afoul of this exploitative system, they face being made an example of within cruel “gaijin tank” detention centers (which don’t fall under minimum standards covering prisons), which in effect send a deterrent message. It’s similar to what’s happening in the concentration camps now being run by the US Customs and Border Patrol (which, given that 45’s supporters are in thrall to Japan’s putative ethnostate, should not be too surprising).

As an interesting aside, the Mainichi below mentions how Japan even ethnically cleansed itself of Iranians in the 1990s, which can and will happen again. Now public policy is going one step further — trying to nip any possibility of marriage and children with Japanese. There are even bans on NJ on certain work visas having international liaisons, marriage, and children! For all the new “open-door” visas being advertised, it’s clear that NJ are still seen more as work units than human beings.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15634

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3) Reuters: Yet another NJ detainee dies after hunger strike after 3 years in Japan “detention center”; time for a change in labeling

REUTERS: A Nigerian man died in a Japanese immigration detention center this week, an official said on Thursday, bringing to an end a hunger strike an activist group said was intended to protest his being held for more than three years. It was the 15th death since 2006 in a system widely criticized over medical standards, the monitoring of detainees and how guards respond to a medical emergency…

RINK, a group supporting detainees at the center, told Reuters the Nigerian had been on hunger strike to protest his lengthy detention. Another 27 foreigners are on hunger strike at a detention center in Ushiku, northeast of Tokyo, said a separate group supporting detainees at that facility. Some of them have gone without food for 47 days, said Kimiko Tanaka, a spokeswoman for the group… Two other men at Ushiku have been detained for five years, she said. “The reality of a lengthy detention is nothing but a human rights violation,” Tanaka said.

COMMENT: Dovetailing with last week’s blog entry about how Japan’s new “open door” visa programs violate basic human rights, here’s the old classic “closed door” policies aimed to punish bureaucratic transgressions by perpetually detaining people under conditions that don’t fall under standards for sufficient monitoring (because technically, they’re not “prisons”). Policywise, they’re meant to be a deterrent — part of a separate judicial track for foreigners in Japan with fewer human rights (full details on this in “Embedded Racism” Ch. 6). Separate and lethal.

Again, given how Japan’s ethnostate policies are an inspiration for xenophobes and racial supremacists worldwide, I would argue that these longstanding inhumane “Gaijin Tanks” are a working model for the “concentration camps” (the political term of debate in the US these days) for detainees along the American southern border. Except politicians in Japan don’t have the cojones to call them anything but benign-sounding “detention centers” — after all, who in any position of power cares about the plight of foreigners in Japan?

http://www.debito.org/?p=15691

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4) SCMP: Japan needs thousands of foreign workers to decommission Fukushima nuclear site. High irony alert: First blame NJ, then have them clean up your deadly messes.

SCMP: Anti-nuclear campaigners have teamed up with human rights activists in Japan to condemn plans by the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to hire foreign workers to help decommission the facility.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) has announced it will take advantage of the government’s new working visa scheme, which was introduced on April 1 and permits thousands of foreign workers to come to Japan to meet soaring demand for labourers. The company has informed subcontractors overseas nationals will be eligible to work cleaning up the site and providing food services… Activists are far from convinced working at the site is safe for anyone and they fear foreign workers will feel “pressured” to ignore the risks if their jobs are at risk.

COMMENT: In the wake of renewed interest in nuclear disasters thanks to HBO’s miniseries “Chernobyl” (which I watched from more of a political science perspective than a popcorn disaster movie), I harked back to the Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown of 2011. There was a similar outcome, in that the fiasco demonstrated the shortcomings of a system built upon institutional lying. However, the main difference was that Fukushima helped bring down the government (the DPJ), but, unlike the Soviet system, not the architects of this corrupt system in the first place (the LDP), who remain in power stronger than ever.

But as far as Debito.org is concerned, the other big difference is that the Soviets didn’t import foreigners to do their cleanup. Unlike Japan, as Debito.org has pointed out for many years now — to the point where TEPCO not only tricked Japan’s poor or homeless into doing this dirty work, but also NJ asylum seekers! Kudos to the SCMP for reporting on an angle the overseas media has largely ignored.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15639

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VISAS BEING MADE AN ISSUE

5) Yomiuri: GOJ now requiring hospitals (unlawfully) demand Gaijin Cards from NJ as a precondition for medical treatment

Related to recent discussions about public refusals of service for either not complying with (unlawful) demands for NJ ID, or denial of service anyway when people in charge arbitrarily decide a visa’s length is not long enough, mentioned below is a move by the GOJ to require hospitals demand Gaijin Cards etc. (as opposed to just requiring medical insurance cards (hokenshou), like they would from any Japanese patient) as a precondition for providing treatment to sick NJ. Granted, the Yomiuri article below notes that for Japanese patients, the government is “considering” requiring a Japanese Driver License etc. as well, because the hokenshou is not a photo ID. But once again, NJ are clearly less “trustworthy” than the average Japanese patient, so NJ will have more (again, unlawful) rigmarole first.

But there’s a deeper pattern in this policy creep. Recall the “Gaijin as Guinea Pig” syndrome we’ve discussed on Debito.org for well over a decade now: Public policies to further infringe upon civil liberties are first tested out on the Gaijin — because foreign residents even Constitutionally have much fewer civil liberties — and then those policies are foisted on the general public once the precedent is set. So once again, the GOJ is taking advantage of the weakened position of NJ to assume more government control over society.

NB: There’s also a meaner attitude at work: Note in the last paragraph of the article below the echoes of 1980’s “foreigners have AIDS” paranoia creeping into LDP policy justifications once again. I say “mean” because the point would have been made by just stopping at “the person fraudulently used somebody else’s insurance”. And I’m sure presenting a Gaijin Card would have fixed the AIDS issue! (Not to mention that the GOJ apparently WANTS people to get AIDS screening, especially if they’re visibly foreign!) Such ill-considered policymaking signals!

Meanwhile, don’t expect equal treatment as a patient if you get sick while foreign. It’s official policy.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15214

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6) Mark: New Discriminatory Policy by Rakuten Mobile Inc., now “stricter with foreigners”, refusing even Todai MEXT Scholarship Students cellphones

MARK: I would like to make public a New Discriminatory Policy being implemented systematically in Rakuten Mobile. It seems that the company recently decided to deny the service to foreign customers. I have living in Japan for 2 years. When I arrived, I applied online for their service and they accepted my application immediately. This week, I tried to make a contract online for 2 friends that just came to Japan. Their online application was rejected 3 times without providing the reason. I checked everything in their application and was correct. They uploaded their scanned residence card and the quality of the image was perfect. Also the contents of the application were correct.

Hence, we went to a Rakuten Mobile Store in Ikebukuro on the afternoon of April 23. They asked for their residence cards: after seeing the residence card they denied the service arguing that the company just established new rules and are now stricter with foreigners.The 2 persons that were denied the service have a valid visa until April 2021 (2 years). They are graduate students at the University of Tokyo as me. They didn’t ask anything about the applicants. They just turned down the request based on being foreigners. I asked the reason and the lady was ashamed and said that recently the Company has began to be stricter with foreigners. I replied back saying that 2 years ago my application was accepted under the same conditions and the lady was ashamed. It seems to be a new a discriminatory policy set by a well-known company.

COMMENT: Here’s another example of how unequal treatment in customer service, when predicated upon things such as visa status (which is in fact none of the company’s business), leaves NJ open to discrimination. According to Submitter “Mark”, this is affecting people on Student Visas, where denial of service is apparently new and arbitrary. He describes his experience at Rakuten Mobile below. It’s tough enough for NJ to do the basics for life in Japan, such as open a bank account or rent an apartment. Now NJ students can’t even get a cellphone from Rakuten. Alas, this is in fact nothing new (I’ve written about NTT DoCoMo’s unequal policies before, which were so silly that they eventually abandoned them after the information came out in one of my Japan Times columns). But it still should be known about, so people can take their business elsewhere, if possible. Anyone know of an alternative cellphone company with less discriminatory policies?

http://www.debito.org/?p=15641

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7) Anonymous on Ethical Issues/Discriminatory practices being carried out by Todai and Kyodai against MEXT scholars

What follows are more travails of foreign and exchange students (not to mention foreign academics employed under this system) who think that studying in Japan is like studying or working at universities in other developed countries.

Debito.org has talked about this flawed system before, as in about a decade ago, when it comes to lack of institutional support for foreign scholarships (to the point where students just give up and leave) or even having sufficient university support when being systematically rejected for an apartment for being a foreigner! Even when the GOJ signals that it wants a more “open-door policy” for more foreign students and staff, what with the Global 30 Project funding from the Ministry of Education (MEXT), the Times Higher Education reported that Japan’s “entrenched ideas hinder” that from happening. And the THE wrote that article back in 2010, meaning that nearly a decade later things still aren’t getting much better. Read on for Anonymous’s report below on the Kafkaesque ordeal he/she had just trying to transfer schools, even those anointed under MEXT’s Global 30 Project.

Forewarned is forearmed, prospective students considering Japan as a destination. Know what you’re getting into or suffer an enormous bump in the road on your way to a terminal degree in your field.

Anonymous: When I applied for an extension to transfer to the University of Kyoto, the University of Tokyo’s rival university, the University of Tokyo had full control of whether to recommend or not recommend me to MEXT. This obviously poses ethical problems, and I was pretty quick to complain to the international office. Why on earth, I asked, am I being evaluated for a scholarship selection by a university who could potentially favor its own scholarship extension applicants, and who I will not be going to next year? At the very least, the University of Kyoto should be evaluating me as it is their university that I passed and would be going to. Lo and behold, I was mysteriously rejected – mid January, and two and a half months before I was about to enter graduate school. This permanently messed up any chance I had of pursuing my graduate studies, and consequently caused numerous other problems. I was forced to scramble to find a job last minute, in order to avoid financial ruin and being deported.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15680

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8 ) Kyodo: Half of foreigners in Tokyo experienced discrimination: ARIC survey

Kyodo: TOKYO (Kyodo) — Nearly half of the foreigners living in Tokyo have experienced racial discrimination, according to a survey released Tuesday by a civic group. In the survey conducted by the Anti Racism Information Center, a group organized by scholars, activists and university students, 167 of 340 respondents including students said that they have suffered discriminatory treatment such as being told not to talk in a language other than Japanese. Some working as retail shop cashiers said customers asked for Japanese cashiers, according to the face-to-face questionnaire survey conducted in February and March in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward. Among them, a Nepalese man who works at a drugstore said one customer told him that he or she does not like to see a foreigner working as a cashier and asked for someone else. A Chinese respondent who works at a convenience store said that a colleague told the respondent not to speak Chinese when the respondent was asked for directions by a Chinese-speaking customer. There were also cases where foreigners had apartment rental applications rejected. Some said they were denied entry into stores, but none of the respondents took their case to a public office dealing with such issues.

COMMENT: This survey is not quite on the scale or scope of the previous Ministry of Justice one Debito.org covered (and I wrote two Japan Times columns about) in 2017, since it has a smaller sample size, has a more targeted surveyed group, and is confined to the Tokyo area. But it’s nevertheless better than the very biased one the GOJ did twelve years ago. It also deserves a mention on Debito.org as it quantifies the degree and patterns of discriminatory behavior out there. ARIC, the group doing the survey, is on the right track recording issues of domestic racism and hate speech. Let’s have more surveys in other places, and get data quantified and triangulated nationwide. Enough of these, and recorded isolated incidents eventually merge into patterns, and ultimately concretely-measured trends that justify public policy fixes.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15622

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9) My Japan Times JBC 115: “Know your rights when checking in at an Airbnb” (Apr 17, 2019)

JT: Last year, the government passed a law covering minpaku, which is when people rent out space on their properties to travelers (a la Airbnb). The law is part of an effort to regulate accommodations amid a tourism boom ahead of the 2020 Olympics. One issue for non-Japanese travelers, though, has been whether they must show ID such as a passports at check-in.

For hotels, which fall under the Hotel Business Law, the regulation has always been this: For any adult, Japanese or non-Japanese, who has an address in Japan, ID is not required. You just write your contact details in the guest registry. However, for guests who don’t reside in this country, displaying ID (i.e., your passport) is required.

Seems straightforward so far, right? But as has been reported several times over more than 10 years of this column, the police (and occasionally the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare) have confused things. Some hotels have been instructed that all “foreign guests” must show ID, specifically their passports…

Rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2019/04/17/issues/know-rights-checking-airbnb/
Anchor site at http://www.debito.org/?p=15625
More information at http://www.debito.org/?p=15559

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… and finally…

10) Foreign Minister Kouno Taro asks world media to use Japanese ordering of names (Abe Shinzo, not Shinzo Abe) in overseas reportage. Actually, I agree.

Washington Post: Ahead of a series of important international events in Japan, including a visit from President Trump this weekend, Japan’s foreign minister has said he will issued a request to foreign media: Call our prime minister Abe Shinzo, not Shinzo Abe.

“The new Reiwa era was ushered in, and we are hosting the Group of 20 summit. As many news organizations write Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, it is desirable for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s name to be written in a similar manner,” said foreign minister Taro Kono at a news conference Tuesday, according to the Mainichi Shimbun.

Or perhaps we should say, Kono Taro said that? Kono is the foreign minister’s family name, just as Abe is the Japanese prime minister’s family name. The Japanese diplomat says the family name should be first when referred to in English, as it is when it is written or spoken in Japanese.

COMMENT: Believe it or not, I agree with Kouno Taro. This post is to explain why. Opening the floor to discussion…

http://www.debito.org/?p=15669

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That’s all for this Newsletter! Thanks for reading!
Debito Arudou Ph.D.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 30, 2019 ENDS

7 comments on “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 30, 2019

  • cynical.nj says:

    Human rights perhaps might be a good idea …
    but if you’re a woman, well, IDK – after all, Japan has a unique culture, so we better keep the balance :rolleyes:

    “[The challenge is that] we can’t really apply western feminism to Japan because we have different cultures, backgrounds, and traditions. If we just apply western culture, [and their version of feminism,] sometimes it doesn’t work—it won’t work. So I think balance is really important.”

    https://savvytokyo.com/kutoo-what-do-women-in-japan-think-about-the-movement/ (Sankei-owned website)

    If this quote is not made up, I am truly sad…

    Reply
  • Jim Di Griz says:

    I ‘love’ this article from Japan Times.
    Headline and content make it sound as though Japanese police are struggling to help lost NJ tourists due to lack of linguistic ability, but (ball dropped!) the last few paragraphs give it away; ‘intensity of the questioning’ and ‘focusing on…interrogations’.

    Oops, fail! I guess that racist police state gestapo crap wasn’t supposed to make it into the article.

    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/07/03/national/tokyo-police-grapple-growing-demand-foreign-language-services/

    “To meet the growing demand, the MPD is looking to contract additional civilian interpreters, as well as conducting language classes for officers stationed in police boxes.

    The MPD also plans to introduce a translation app for officer smartphones by around this summer. The service will be equipped with audio translation features for English, Chinese and six other languages, as well as text translation features for roughly 30 languages including Arabic.

    “If police officers on the ground become able to handle cases involving foreign individuals by themselves, the center staff will be able to focus on interpreting for interrogations,” said Kenichiro Kinoshita, the officer in charge of interpreting management at the center.”

    Reply
  • AnonymousJJK says:

    Dr. Debito, i think this story also deserves coverage on debito.org

    No More Paternity Harassment, No More Maternity Harassment! 職場のハラスメントを失くそう!
    Part 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlbIGSX-1Gs

    Paternity Harassment Update — PART 2 パタハラ裁判続報、直前で中止?!
    Part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0wM_sr82As

    Glen Wood: “Paternity Harassment: Glen Wood vs. Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley” @FCCJ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OsTwLlApmU

    Reply
  • Jim Di Griz says:

    NJ coming to Japan to provide the ECONOMIC LIFEBLOOD Japan DESPERATELY needs will need to speak Japanese and can’t bring their spouses. Not surprising that Japan is failing its target by about 90%.

    On the other hand…
    If you work for the IOC, you can get a special 1 year working visa that lets you bring your spouse and kids!
    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/07/28/national/foreign-nationals-involved-tokyo-olympics-prep-get-special-long-stay-visas/

    I’m waiting for the ‘IOC Dependents’ NJ crime-wave! It’s coming for sure, right?

    With their special visa status and ID cards, I wonder if they will return to their home countries having experienced being refused rental properties, bank accounts, phone contracts etc? What’s the betting that one look at their visa status will get them the full O-MO-TE-NA-SHI treatment and they will return home blissfully unaware of daily realities?
    Or…
    Will they be subject to all the same crap other long-term NJ are forced to endure once they start working in Japan as opposed to sightseeing it?

    Reply
  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Japan’s ‘Moral Education’ textbooks get the roasting they deserve for the whole ‘Japan has four seasons’, ‘NJ are selfish’, and ‘just because something isn’t illegal does mean you can do it’ oppressive fascism. Oh, and ‘human rights’? (Mumble, mumble, something, oh, don’t you worry about ‘human rights’). This is indeed what happens when there is the ‘terrible mismatch between the shrinking supply of young people and the growing demands of older people feeling naturally entitled to tell them what to do.’

    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2019/08/07/issues/seven-lessons-japanese-morality-textbook/

    Reply
  • Jim Di Griz says:

    This is interesting;
    Temple in Kyoto has a ‘robot priest’. But let’s examine that claim a little more closely- it’s more of an automaton of the type that’s been around forever with a silicon face and hands. The rest is all exposed machinery. And it just sits there, immobile, with a screen mounted in front displaying a translation of its Japanese language audio recordings that it plays.
    Now of course the temple owners are talking this up as a ‘robot’ and Japanese-centric world view tells them that since it’s a robot, and this is Japan, that Japan is a world leader in robots, therefore their (feeble) claim that this machine is a ‘robot’ MUST ring true! Myopic world view demands it! Except….
    NJ see this ‘robot’ and totally deride it.
    This NJ derision is, in the view of the temple priest, not because this robot is a kind of ‘seen it a million times before automaton’ (because Japanese robots are so advanced, right?), but because of NJ prejudice (those NJ and their prejudices, huh? Thankfully the Japanese don’t suffer from any of those….).

    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/08/15/business/tech/kyoto-temple-puts-faith-robot-priest-drawing-praise-japanese-scorn-westerners/

    — One more thing: Some might say a robot is quite a good metaphor for a religious practitioner…

    Reply

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