DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 22, 2020

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 22, 2020

Hello Debito.org Newsletter Readers. First, my latest SNA column out today talks about BLM Japan protests, offering advice for avoiding pitfalls when advocating for minorities in Japan:

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Visible Minorities: Advice to Activists in Japan
Shingetsu News Agency, Visible Minorities Column 11
By Debito Arudou (excerpt)

SNA (Tokyo) — Sparked by the George Floyd murder by police in America last month, street protests against official violence towards minorities and disenfranchised peoples have sprung up worldwide. Japan has been no exception. Within recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations, a wider range of people are finally decrying, for example, the Japanese police’s racial profiling and violence towards visible minorities. This column would like to point out some of the pitfalls that activists may face in Japanese society, based upon my experience fighting against racial discrimination here for nearly thirty years. Please read them in the helpful spirit they are intended.

1) Remember that, in Japan, activists are seen as extremists
2) Keep the debate focused on how discrimination affects everyone in Japan
3) Be wary of being fetishized
4) Be ready for the long haul
5) Control your own narrative

Full writeup at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/06/22/visible-minorities-advice-to-activists-in-japan/
Anchor site on Debito.org for comments at http://www.debito.org/?p=16123
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Now on with the Newsletter.

Table of Contents:

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JAPAN OFFICIALDOM SHOWS ITS XENOPHOBIC COLORS

1) Dejima Award #8: NJ resident returnees from abroad officially treated like contagion, barred from reentry unlike Japanese returnees. And unlike any other G7 country.
2) Discriminatory govt financial assistance for students: All Japanese can apply, but foreign students must be in top 30% of class. MEXT’s rationale: “Many NJ students go home anyway and don’t contribute to Japan’s future.”
3) Online petition: Oppose Japan’s generic reentry ban on Foreign Residents even after essential travels since April 3, 2020

SO DO JAPAN’S UNDERCOVER RACISTS
4) Mainichi: Japan, US academics demand NHK explain offensive BLM anime. And how about all the others (including NHK) in the past?
5) Info on Black Lives Matter demos in Japan in response to excessive police force towards a Kurdish Resident; also the backlash of right-wing Tokyo Katsushika-ku Assemblyman Suzuki Nobuyuki: “expel any foreign demonstrators”.

And finally…

6) My SNA Visible Minorities col 10: “The Guestists and the Collaborators”, May 18, 2020, on how long-term NJ leverage their newfound privilege against other NJ Residents (e.g., Donald Keene, Tsurunen Marutei, and Oussouby Sacko)

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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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JAPAN OFFICIALDOM SHOWS ITS XENOPHOBIC COLORS

1) Dejima Award #8: NJ resident returnees from abroad officially treated like contagion, barred from reentry unlike Japanese returnees. And unlike any other G7 country.

JT: “The coronavirus pandemic has prompted authorities worldwide to introduce entry restrictions on border traffic. But regulations in Japan have sparked a particularly strong reaction from its international community, as it is the only Group of Seven member denying entry to long-term and permanent residents and has set no clear criteria for their return. The approach has left many foreign nationals in limbo — those who had headed overseas in earlier stages of the pandemic are now stuck abroad and face uncertainty about their careers and lives in Japan, whereas those who remain here fear that leaving the country would jeopardize their future as well…

“As the virus continued to spread, causing more than 4 million confirmed infections, some countries such as India have even banned their own citizens from returning home in hopes of limiting transmission. But most developed countries, while urging locals to refrain from nonessential travel, have exempted legal residents alongside citizens from their travel bans, albeit under mandatory quarantine. In contrast, under Japan’s regulations imposed April 3, all foreign nationals, including those with permanent residence status and their non-Japanese spouses, and those who are married to Japanese nationals, will be subject to the measure if they try to return to Japan from any regions affected by the pandemic…”

COMMENT: For this reason, Debito.org awards a coveted “Dejima Award” (only its eighth so far) to the Ministry of Justice (particularly Justice Minister Mori Masako). Dejima Awards are reserved for only the most eye-blinkingly obvious and inexcusable examples of racism perpetrated by Japan’s racists and authorities. Thanks for deciding once again that foreigners’ lives simply don’t matter to you. Only foreign residents have to make the choice between exiting Japan and losing their livelihoods here or staying in Japan missing a life event there. How callous and inhumane. And oh so very typical of the cold-blooded Japanese bureaucracy.

http://www.debito.org/?p=16095

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2) Discriminatory govt financial assistance for students: All Japanese can apply, but foreign students must be in top 30% of class. MEXT’s rationale: “Many NJ students go home anyway and don’t contribute to Japan’s future.”

Debito.org Reader TJL forwards a message from an Indian exchange student in Tokyo. It seems that making sure no foreign resident leaves Japan (because only foreigners won’t be let back in, even if they’re Permanent Residents) isn’t enough hardship — now Japan is making it more difficult for them to live here. Jobs are disappearing with the pandemic, affecting the arubaito economy and students in particular. So the Ministry of Education (MEXT) has launched a program to assist all students in Japan in financial distress, with up to 200,000 yen cash paid out. That is, unless they’re ryuugakusei (foreign exchange students). Even though foreign students already face enough hurdles to their success and stability of life in Japan, MEXT has decided only the NJ who are in the top 30% of their class qualify. (Naturally, Japanese slacker students need not worry — they’re all part of the tribe.)

MEXT’s justification, according to the Kyodo article below, is “いずれ母国に帰る留学生が多い中、日本に将来貢献するような有為な人材に限る要件を定めた”, or “In any case, what with many exchange students returning to their home countries, we decided to limit applications only to those promising people of talent who will be contributing to Japan’s future.” Boy, that’s full of presumptions. Read on for a letter from the Indian exchange student, a MEXT opinion portal, and other materials in Japanese.

UPDATE: More conditions have come to light thanks to Kyodo News’s investigative journalism:
“According to the ministry, requirements for program eligibility include a reduction of over 50 percent in the monthly income from part-time jobs used to support tuition fees and, in general, a yearly allowance of less than 1.5 million yen from family. The student must also be living outside of home.

“In addition, foreign students must be achieving high marks and have attained a grade point average of at least 2.30 in the past academic year. This accounts for the top 25 to 30 percent of students, the ministry said. Foreign students must also have a monthly attendance rate of over 80 percent, receive less than an average 90,000 yen allowance per month excluding registration and tuition fees, and not be a dependent of someone in Japan earning more than 5 million yen a year. On top of the conditions, those “deemed by their institutions as unable to continue their studies due to financial difficulties” will be eligible for the handouts, the ministry said.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=16086

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3) Online petition: Oppose Japan’s generic reentry ban on Foreign Residents even after essential travels since April 3, 2020

SK: I am Sven Kramer, a scholar of Japanese studies based in Japan. Today, I would like to focus your attention on a private initiative I have started: a Japanese-English bilingual online petition against the de facto complete generic denial of reentry to foreign residents of Japan (including permanent residents and eminent relatives of Japanese citizens). On April 3, 2020, the government of Japan has implemented an almost complete closure of her borders to foreign residents on valid long-term visas (only the “special permanent residents” are exempt), while every Japanese citizen regardless of actual residency is allowed in.

This regulation affects more than 2,000,000 foreign residents of Japan, who cannot reenter Japan for the foreseeable future even after traveling abroad for a very good reason (e.g. the death of a family member in the country of origin), and are thus in danger of using their livelihoods here. I anticipate that among those affected, a significant number should be scholars based at Japanese universities receiving this mailing list. According to my current knowledge, Japan is the only country on Earth with a liberal democratic constitution, that has implemented such a nonsensically discriminatory reentry restriction, which in my opinion cannot be justified even with the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a significant difference to the policy of India, which reportedly has implemented an entry ban on all people regardless of citizenship/nationality. Furthermore, we don’t need to get into deflections of about how dictatorial countries currently behave in this crisis.

I have watched the situation silently but with an uneasy feeling for almost two months, but after reading this article by „Tōyō Keizai Online“ that quotes some of the outrageous things going on behind the scenes without leading to any progress, I had enough. As a long-term foreign resident of Japan I could not keep silent any longer, so on May 28 I have started the following online petition at “change.org”: http://chng.it/GN9Wp2Sj
– Please sign, if you share my opinion that the government of Japan immediately should allow reentry of returning foreign residents of Japan under the same quarantine regulations that are applied to Japanese citizens.
– Please help me spreading the word, if you agree with me on this.

http://www.debito.org/?p=16103

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SO DO JAPAN’S UNDERCOVER RACISTS

4) Mainichi: Japan, US academics demand NHK explain offensive BLM anime. And how about all the others (including NHK) in the past?

Mainichi: Academics in Japan and the United States submitted a letter to NHK on June 12 demanding the Japanese public broadcaster clarify why it broadcast an anime explainer of Black Lives Matter protests that was subsequently condemned as racist, and that it also outline its views on the matter and possible preventive measures. In their five-page letter to the NHK, the experts in U.S. studies describe the video as “including content that cannot be overlooked.” Among its 13 signatories are professor Fumiko Sakashita of Ritsumeikan University in Tokyo and professor Yasumasa Fujinaga of Japan Women’s University, also in the capital. The letter is addressed to the NHK president, as well as the heads of the international news division and the News Department. The writers say they will recruit supporters in both the U.S. and Japan.

The around 1-minute-20-second animated video that the letter discusses was originally shown on NHK news program “Kore de Wakatta! Sekai no Ima” (Now I Understand! The World Now) and shared on the broadcaster’s official Twitter account on June 7. It was intended as an explanation for the demonstrations that began in the U.S. after George Floyd, a black man, was killed by a white police officer kneeling on his neck. It features a muscular, vested black man shouting about economic inequality in the U.S., and makes no reference to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. The letter to NHK described the depiction of the man as stereotypical, saying, “He is given an excessively muscular appearance, and speaks in an emphatically coarse and violent way.” It added that in the U.S., “This stereotype has a history of being used to legitimize lynching of black people and the loss of their lives from police brutality.”

NHK: “We at NHK would like to sincerely apologize for a computer animation clip posted on our Twitter account. […]. The one-minute-21-second clip aimed to show the hardships, such as economic disparity, that many African Americans in the US suffer. However, we have decided to take the clip offline after receiving criticism from viewers that it did not correctly express the realities of the problem. We regret lacking proper consideration in carrying the clip, and apologize to everyone who was offended.”

DEBITO: I call BS. NHK knew full well what these subcontracted segments are like, as this subcontractor been hired before for other Japanese TV programs (example below). That’s what that subcontractor has done for years. NHK just expected that this would be for “domestic consumption only” and the Gaijin wouldn’t see it, (because after all, “foreigners” don’t watch Japanese TV (because Japanese is too hard a language for them to understand). That’s also BS. And NHK (not to mention most of Japan’s other media, see a list in this blog entry) still hasn’t learned their lesson after all these decades.

http://www.debito.org/?p=16111

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5) Info on Black Lives Matter demos in Japan in response to excessive police force towards a Kurdish Resident; also the backlash of right-wing Tokyo Katsushika-ku Assemblyman Suzuki Nobuyuki: “expel any foreign demonstrators”.

As you know, following the George Floyd et al. killings by police in America, there is an international wave of condemnation towards institutionalized racism and brutality in law enforcement. Japan is not exempt from this (in fact, institutionalized embedded racism is one of the reasons Debito.org exists, and the Japanese police are notorious for their normalized racial profiling), and a recent case (see Reuters article below) of a Kurdish man being assaulted by police during a traffic stop has made news. Given this flashpoint, a Black Lives Matter movement of protecting minorities against state-sponsored unchecked violence has taken wing around Japan. Please join in if you’re interested. Information website here: https://blacklivesmattertokyo.carrd.co/

Bravo. Meanwhile, as SNA has pointed out, certain elements within Japan have a problem with any Non-Japanese trying claiming their rights in Japan even through peaceful public protest: “Veteran anti-foreign rightwinger Nobuyuki Suzuki, currently a Katsushika Ward assemblyman, demands that any foreigner who engages in a street protest should be tracked down by the police and expelled from the country.” After all, according to the Suzukis of Japan, foreigners don’t belong here. They aren’t kokumin, and because they are only here by permission of the government, by definition they should not protest; they should be just good little Guests or get out. Japan for the Japanese. You know the mantra. Even though public demonstrations (for example, by NJ workers in labor unions) are perfectly legal, and have been going on for decades. That’s why social movements should crest and clean these exclusionary bigots out of government. And Debito.org will add its voice in support.

http://www.debito.org/?p=16105

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And finally…

6) My SNA Visible Minorities col 10: “The Guestists and the Collaborators”, May 18, 2020, on how long-term NJ leverage their newfound privilege against other NJ Residents (e.g., Donald Keene, Tsurunen Marutei, and Oussouby Sacko)

SNA: In a recent SNA Speakeasy on “Foreign Residents in the Coronavirus Era,” I argued that Non-Japanese (NJ) must band together and be vocal about claiming what’s due them as taxpayers. We shouldn’t wait for the government to deign to divvy out what it thinks foreigners want, as if it’s the omotenashi (hospitality) Japan offers any guest. Instead, NJ residents should be telling the government what they want, on their terms; trying to influence policy agendas that affect them by, for example, participating in local government forums and policy deliberation councils (shingikai).

People have been advocating this for years. Why isn’t it happening as often as it should? Because NJ (especially those in the English-language communities) collectively suffer from something I call “guestism”: falling for the fiction that they are merely “guests” in Japan subject to the whims of the Japanese “hosts.” Their mantra is “It’s their country, not mine. Who am I to tell them what to do?”

Still, eventually some NJ live here long enough, develop deep connections and language abilities, and even become Japanese citizens. Some transform into community leaders, prominent business owners and spokespeople, media mavens, and elected officials. They are definitely no longer “guests.”

But once they earn due respect and authority, another problem comes up: Many squander their position by becoming “collaborators.”

Instead of using their power for good, such as showing other NJ how to follow in their footsteps and to assimilate and enfranchise themselves, collaborators pull the ladder up behind them. They actively consort with the powers-that-be to preserve their privilege and to undermine other NJ Residents.

For example, consider Marutei Tsurunen, Donald Keene, and Oussouby Sacko…
Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/05/18/visible-minorities-the-guestists-and-the-collaborators/ (paywall)

Anchor site for comments at http://www.debito.org/?p=16075

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That’s all for this month. Thanks for reading!
Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 22, 2020 ENDS

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6 comments on “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 22, 2020

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Naomi Osaka demonstrates my point that she doesn’t understand Japan, and that she doesn’t understand how racist Japan is by posting a meme of a surprised monkey on her twitter account, and receives backlash from Japanese internet denizens;

    https://japantoday.com/category/sports/naomi-osaka-called-racist-by-racists-after-posting-meme-in-response-to-covid-19-cases

    Wasn’t she born with innate unspoken understanding of Japanese culture that all Japanese have? I mean, the newspapers go on and on about her ‘humility’ being proof of this (as opposed to say, poor interpersonal skills. But then again…), and yet she seems oblivious to how incensed Japanese become when compared/likened to monkeys. Major fail. And then gets told SHE’S anti-Japanese racist and ‘not Japanese’ and she is a ‘black monkey’ (just a few bad apples, right Naomi?).
    Welcome to the distorted ‘logic’ world of Japaneseness ‘myths’ Naomi. Do some reading up on the subject and come back with an opinion in 10 years or so.

    Reply
    • This. “Another irony is that the “yellow-monkey” slur is pretty much obsolete; it’s only really mentioned by Japanese and hearkens back to Meiji times. ”

      I have never heard it. Except when used by drunken oyaji Japanese in some kind of self-hate, gaijin entrapment/baiting scenario.

      Reply
      • Jim Di Griz says:

        Yeah, the yellow monkey thing goes back to the war; Japanese troops portrayed as monkeys swinging rapidly through the jungle to capture Singapore in one propaganda picture documented by Dower. I’ve never seen it used in modern times, except as you mention, when used by Japanese.
        Me: I went to see an apartment today, and I liked it, but when the letting agent called the owner, he said ‘no gaijin!’.
        Japanese ‘friend’: Eeeh…white people call us yellow monkeys, isn’t that so? So what are you claiming you’re discriminated against now?
        Total non-sequitor. Some Japanese people suffered some discrimination from some white people at some time, so now I have to accept all racism from all Japanese people that want to exhibit it towards me. Forever.
        Hmm…

        Reply
  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Just a public service announcement.*
    I’ve worked out what’s going on with the Japan Times giving Jasper Koll his weekly ‘rah-rah-go-Abenomics’ opinion piece that bears no resemblance to Japan reality whatsoever and reads like it was written by some one who’s never even been to Japan on holiday.
    His constant full-on optimism that Japan is on the brink of economic greatness because Japan is so special and led by such an insightful leader constantly fails to materialize as a fact to the extent that I was almost ready to put money on it that he was some kind ‘deep-troll’ playing the ‘long-game’ and that his articles were total Onion style parody.
    But no!
    He’s for real. His wife is Kathy Matsui head of Goldman Sachs Japan investment. This is why Koll uses every article to ‘explain’ why Japan’s economic future is so bright, you should bank on it. And Abe lauds Kathy Matsui for introducing him to ‘womanomics’, disowning it as a term he got from her. Check out her Wikipedia page.
    And since JT (as Dr. Debito has documented) is now owned by one of Abe’s buddies, it perfectly explains why they print Koll’s column that defies all journalistic standards by totally misrepresenting Japan to an extent that NJ who have lived there laugh/cry, and why Koll doesn’t know what he’s talking about;
    He’s got an agenda- juice his wife’s business, and he’s so deep in Abe’s pocket I don’t think he’s seen sunlight for years (let alone Japan).

    *Maybe you all already knew all this and I’m just really slow on the uptake. I apologize.

    Reply
  • David Markle says:

    Didn’t SNA do a speakeasy with him recently on the “pandemics effect on Japan”? That was a rah-rah! for Abe and friends. hmmm. What’s going on there?

    Reply
  • The Japan Times has become state propaganda in practice !

    It is really amazing how Jasper Koll makes an effort to distort reality ! Now it makes more sense his propaganda articles !

    Thank you Jim Di Griz !

    Reply

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