DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 20, 2020

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 20, 2020
Table of Contents

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1) Calling Debito.org Readers: How is life for you in COVID Japan?
2) COVID-inspired racism as NJ Residents are separated and “othered” from fellow Japan taxpayers by Dietmembers and bureaucrats
3) Japan’s reaction to coronavirus: Bigots excluding NJ residents from restaurants. Saitama Korean schools denied protective mask distribution because they might “sell off” the masks.
4) APJ-Japan Focus’s Jeff Kingston on PM Abe and postponement of 2020 Tokyo Olympics; plus the inhumanity of the Japanese Govt

And finally…
5) Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 8: “No Free Pass for Japan’s Shirking Responsibility”, Mar 16, 2020
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By Debito Arudou, Ph.D (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito)
Debito.org Newsletters are, as always, freely forwardable.

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1) Calling Debito.org Readers: How is life for you in COVID Japan?

I’d like to hear how life during pandemic is going in Japan from you. Hearing about how government policy and civil society affects Debito.org Readers is just as important as any old essay from me. Let me open the floor for discussion in the Comments Section by asking a few prompt questions:

1) Have you witnessed the effects of Japanese Government policy, especially when compared with what’s being put into effect in other countries (such as official calls at the local level for social distancing, the state of emergency in several prefectures, etc.)? How would you gauge their effectiveness?

2) Have you been or do you know of anyone who has been sick with COVID? Has anyone you know been tested yet? How were they processed by officials and treated by their peers/neighbors?

3) How is your workplace reacting to this pandemic? Are your bosses giving you space to distance, or is it still basically business as usual with rudimentary PPE (i.e., masks etc.)? Is there any resistance to working from home? If so, what and why?

4) Is there still panic buying of products, and if so, what are there currently shortages of? Any pet theories as to why?

5) Do you see much difference in your treatment by Japanese society or media for being NJ (or a Visible Minority) due to the pandemic? Are things better, worse, or basically the same?

6) What (national and local) media messages are you seeing about NJ in Japan?

For example. And if you’re not in Japan, please tell us where you are and what’s going on around you, too (and if you can, compare it with Japan). Thanks. We’re looking forward to your stories.

http://www.debito.org/?p=16024

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2) COVID-inspired racism as NJ Residents are separated and “othered” from fellow Japan taxpayers by Dietmembers and bureaucrats

We are witnessing the logical extension of generations of Wajin not seeing “foreigners” as part of Japan, i.e., where minorities are apparently nonexistent in Postwar Japan’s “monocultural, monoethnic homogeneous society” narrative. It thus follows that Non-Japanese regardless of residency status in Japan are perpetually classified and treated as “guests”, subject to the whims of the Wajin majority to grant them any human rights, legal status, or access to public services. Book “Embedded Racism” has taken up this issue in great detail.

Now in this time of pandemic crisis, we’re seeing people revert to type and say that “foreigners don’t deserve the same government support as Japanese”, even though NJ Residents are paying taxes and living in Japan like any other people. The most recent manifestation has been self-hating Upper House Dietmember Onoda Kimi, an American-Japanese (father is American) representing Okayama (this place seems to spawn racists). She argues on Twitter that NJ Residents should not be granted the same access to proposed government cash subsidies for taxpayers in financial hardship. As does fellow Lower House Dietmember Sugita Mio (who has come out as anti-LGBT in the past). And then there are the government agencies listed below who are resorting to SOP to differentiate, “other”, and subordinate NJ Residents as a matter of course.

http://www.debito.org/?p=16010

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3) Japan’s reaction to coronavirus: Bigots excluding NJ residents from restaurants. Saitama Korean schools denied protective mask distribution because they might “sell off” the masks.

As expected (since this sort of thing is happening worldwide), the bigots unfettered by any laws against racial discrimination in Japan are doing what they do best — bigotry — portraying Covid-19 as a “foreign” virus, and making sure that foreigners don’t get the same public service or protections against it:

Hankyoreh: According to a Mar. 11 report in the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) newspaper Choson Sinbo, the city of Saitama in Saitama Prefecture excluded Saitama Korean Kindergarten and private academies from its plans to distribute 240,000 of the city’s stockpile of masks to employees working in daycare centers, kindergarten, after-school academies, and senior citizen facilities in Saitama. Upon learning of this, the principal of Saitama Korean Kindergarten inquired with the city on Mar. 10 and was told by a city official that the Korean kindergarten “is not considered a facility under Saitama city guidance and oversight, and instruction cannot be provided in cases where the masks are used inappropriately,” the newspaper reported. […] Kyodo News also reported a Saitama city employee as suggesting that masks might be “sold off” if provided to Korean kindergartens.

Kotaku: Ueno Sanji, a ramen restaurant in Tokyo, is only allowing Japanese customers due to COVID-19 concerns. The owner (pictured) claims that this is not discrimination but his duty to protect his family, his employees and his loyal customers. At Ueno Sanji, a ramen restaurant in Tokyo, an English language sign was posted reading, “Sorry!! Japanese Only Sorry!!” […] The above tweet reads: “Starting today, as a countermeasure to the coronavirus, [this restaurant] is Japanese only. I have a responsibility to protect my family, my staff and Sanji junkies. Please understand that this is not discrimination.” On Twitter, people replied in Japanese that this was in fact discrimination and even hate speech. Others pointed out that viruses don’t pay attention to nationality.

Finally, Tokyo NJ Resident Sam Byford tweeted a photo from a local establishment with a sign in English refusing service to all foreigners due to the Coronavirus, with a sign in Japanese below advising customers that disinfecting measures will be taken but the shop was still open to them. A request to Byford for more information on the location of this establishment received no reply.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15975

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4) APJ-Japan Focus’s Jeff Kingston on PM Abe and postponement of 2020 Tokyo Olympics; plus the inhumanity of the Japanese Govt

It’s time to talk about the politics of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and how Prime Minister Abe has put Japan at risk for the sake of a sports meet. Dr. Jeff Kingston of Temple University Japan has posted a salient article today about the politicking between Abe’s minions and and the International Olympic Committee, and how Abe may exploit any crisis he exacerbated for his own political benefit. It’s very much worth a read.

Kingston Abstract: Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has been widely criticized for ineptitude in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Keen to host the Olympics in 2020, he put public health at risk. Strong international criticism finally forced the IOC and Abe to accept the inevitable and defer the Olympics until 2021. Now both parties are now trying to claim credit for making this decision. The Japanese policy of limiting testing kept policymakers and citizens in the dark and handicapped responses to the outbreak. As the number of infections surges, the government is playing catch up. The combination of an accelerating COVID-19 outbreak in Japan and imminent global economic recession will hit Japan hard and could lead to Abe’s ouster. For now, there are growing concerns that he may exploit this crisis to advance his political agenda of constitutional revision.

Comment: All because the people who have money would rather risk the lives of the elderly and immunocompromised (as happened in the 1980s with Japan’s Health Ministry and HIV-tainted blood) than let any economic impacts of postponing an Olympics reduce their political power or their already-stuffed wallets. The short-sightedness and greed of people richer than God who won’t subsidize consumers and taxpayers (who have long subsidized THEIR lives) is astonishing. Especially since a dead consumer/taxpayer and their remaining resentful kith and kin is of no use to them either. This should be pointed out at every opportunity.

Instead (and this where the Debito.org subject matter comes in), we have media trying to blame foreigners again. We’ve already seen the regular knee-jerk reaction (seen in health scares ere: e.g., “NJ have AIDS” (1986), “NJ have SARS” (2003)) of treating it as a “Chinese virus” (and singling out Yokohama’s Chinatown). Or even just as a general “foreign virus” and shutting out all “foreign” customers. But since we can’t blame foreign tourists anymore (world tourism has screeched to a halt), we’re now seeing regular media portraying this as a “returnee” virus, where Japanese returning from infected gaikoku are stigmatized. Anything but blame the government for their political decision not embarrass or disrupt by testing widely and bringing on the lockdown. People will die for this. Again, all for the sake of a sports meet.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15999

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And finally…

5) Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 8: “No Free Pass for Japan’s Shirking Responsibility”, Mar 16, 2020

SNA (Tokyo) — There’s an oft-used expression in Japanese: sekinin tenka. Best translated as “passing the buck,” it’s a reflex of dodging blame for one’s own actions by transferring responsibility to others. For too long, Japan has done so on the world stage with impunity—even when it affects the world adversely.

Let’s start with, since it’s timely, the 3.11 Fukushima nuclear meltdown that took place nine years ago this month. While the earthquake and tsunami are not Japan’s fault, situating a nuclear power plant so perilously close to the coastline is; as is the perpetually-botched response of containment and leakage (even the willful dumping) of irradiated water into the Pacific Ocean.

Contrast that with the attention and criticism (and even a TV series) Russia got for Chernobyl, where the situation has finally been contained in a sarcophagus. In Japan, officials instead blamed world standards of safe radiation levels for being alarmist (adjusting them upwards for domestic political purposes) and declared Fukushima produce safe for consumption.

Even more timely is how sekinin tenka influenced Japan’s Covid-19 response…

(Behind paywall now, sorry. Please become a patron of SNA and support independent journalism in Japan.)

Debito.org anchor site at http://www.debito.org/?p=15978

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That’s all for this month. Thanks for reading!
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 20, 2020 ENDS

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10 comments on “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 20, 2020

  • This is not directly about foreigners but is certainly a discrimination and human rights issue:
    some healthcare workers are quitting their jobs fearing their family will be stigmatized by fear of the disease.

    “Some nurses are complaining that nurseries are refusing to accept their children out of fear they might be infected and spread the coronavirus.” “A nurse at the same hospital said she was told by a nursery school that it would not look after her child unless she stops working.” “In some cases, results don’t seem to matter. Some nurses’ family members have been told by their employers not to come to work, although the nurses themselves tested negative for the virus.” etc.

    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/04/25/national/tokyo-front-line-hospital/

    Reply
    • David Markle says:

      I predict that if things don’t improve or get worse, it’s only a matter of time before n.j. become the object of people’s frustrations.

      Reply
  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Oh, I don’t know. The J-government has hardly lifted a finger beyond allowing the closure of schools. Everything else is too little, too late, badly communicated, and poorly comprehended. There is no sense of crisis due to restrictive testing requirements making (to us, unreliable nonsense, to the Japanese public a nuisance) of Japan’s covid case figures.
    The only real disruption is that some entertainment businesses have closed to avoid becoming a ‘cluster’ (with associated negative press publicity), and parents struggling to provide daycare for out of school children.
    It’s hardly any kind of ‘soft lockdown/lockdown lite’ at all for most, who continue on with a mask (phew, safe) and reliance on Japanese ‘cleanliness’ myths.
    Of course, the j-government isn’t ignoring the pandemic, they are understating it on purpose to limit any economic impact on the multitude of japanese businesses that pour millions into LDP coffers.
    And should the public be in any way alarmed, Abe has set up the strawman argument that the current constitution forbids him from bending legislation written for other pandemics to counter this one (since when has Abe been squeamish about ‘reinterpreting’ the constitution?), and that his much prized goal of ‘constitutional revision’ is the only alternative. He’s telling anyone feeling anxious that it’s really their fault for not letting him do it (and perhaps he feels that they deserve what they are getting for not wanting revision on his watch, after all, he is a political blue-blood silver-spooner who claims to have received this ‘mission’ in a vision whilst visiting Ise shrine).
    He is an entitled brat, how could he not think ‘how dare they!’ when the majority specifically say they don’t want constitutional revision by him?

    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/04/29/national/survey-japan-divided-emergency-clause-constitution/

    It’s kind of a ‘phoney war’ against coronavirus in Japan; the government (and Tokyo’s governer) are playing it for personal political gain, whilst hoping that enough people don’t keel over and die at their desks/on trains/in the back of ambulances unable to find hospitals with vacant ICU beds, that they can avoid having to actually implement any meaning mitigation.
    JMHO, YMMV.

    Reply
    • David Markle says:

      This J politician does a pretty good job of explaining why Japan is _____d. It’s because it has to import 70% of it’s good and exports lots of things. In the present world, that system is breaking down. He argues the government should do more to prepare, which most naive citizens would agree with, however I am sceptical they have our best interests at heart.
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YG9P2XHxdqU&feature=youtu.be

      Reply
  • Dr. Arudō, I stumbled across this article on Twitter today. It is literally foreign criticism of the government’s attempts to patch up foreign criticism. Jeff Kingston is also quoted. Definitely worth a read.

    As an aside, #安倍やめろ is a hashtag going around on Twitter lately. If anyone isn’t feeling in a terribly good mood, I recommend taking a glance at all the tweets that include it. It should definitely give you at least some reason to smile.

    Reply
    • Very good article by the Washington Post. I love the comment by Xcurrent though: “Looks like some some of that $22M is ending up in the comments section.”

      The sad thing is that you don’t even have to pay anything to these apologist people. They will always defend Japan, even if the ruling class of Abe and friends break the constitution and their own laws. It’s also scary how the international media doesn’t report on all the things Abe has done to shut down critic media inside Japan. Hopefully everyone can see his true nature now that he started going after international critics too.

      Reply
  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Interesting article in the Japan Times (I know, I know, I’m supposed to have stopped reading this);

    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2020/05/16/commentary/japan-commentary/bad-english-conspiracy-theory/

    Author posits (tongue-in-cheek) that Japanese elites internationally undermine effective English language teaching and learning in the school system.
    In a deft attempt to undermine his own hypothesis (after all, it’s tongue-in-cheek’!) he blows his cover with the incredulous statement that Japanese policy makers are ‘too savvy and sophisticated’ to intentionally sabotage English language learning!
    I wonder why he didn’t mention that postwar Japan staffed its Ministry of Education with former Kempeitai (Japan’s wartime version of the Gestapo), and investigate what the rationale and effect of this was?
    It’s not a tongue-in-cheek ‘joke’ when it’s true.
    Japan Times is ‘gaslighting’ it’s readers.

    —- Source on the Kenpeitai staffing?

    Reply
    • Jim Di Griz says:

      I can’t remember Dr. Debito. It was something I read way back. I feel like I want to attribute it to Dower, but that doesn’t seem his style. I could have been Max Hastings, Nemesis, but I’ve got a stronger hunch that it’s Gordon, Postwar Japan as History.
      If anyone more recently read than I can place it, I’d be appreciative.

      Reply
  • AnonymousOG says:

    Almost too small of a cafe to even care, but anyway,
    here’s another Race-Based-Entry-Denial restaurant,
    denying a fluent-in-Japanese human for being white:

    “Today I wanted to go to a cafe but it had a large ‘Japanese [race] only’ sign at the door. When I tried to get a seat, sure enough, I was rejected due to my appearance.”

    “I’ve been living in Japan for a long time, and I communicate in Japanese daily, so it wasn’t a “language barrier” kind of issue.”

    “My wife said the place has some really good cakes, so we cycled 20 mins to get there. Then we saw the sign.”

    “Apparently the sign hadn’t been there pre-corona, so I guess it’s supposed to be a ‘coronavirus countermeasure’.”

    “In this case, they explicitly meant ‘no foreigners allowed’, because of the coronavirus. The same kind of racist treatment black people are getting in China right now.”

    “I think it’s crazy a cafe in downtown Sapporo would refuse customers based on race in this day and age.”

    https://tinyurl.com/JapaneseRaceOnly
    https://tinyurl.com/PiipuruPiipu
    https://tinyurl.com/Report-Part1
    https://tinyurl.com/Report-Part2

    “White culture” has duly outlawed Race-Based-Entry-Denial.
    “Japanese culture” has NOT outlawed Race-Based-Entry-Denial.
    So, the logical current term for that action should be “Japanese-ness.”

    Sadly we need to preempt an 11th “that action is Whiteness” claim here.
    Face it, Japan-culture-pride-holders, your country is lagging behind humanity.
    If you don’t like “losing face” (メンツを失う), Japan must outlaw Race-Based-Entry-Denial.

    Reply

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