DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 1, 2021

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 1, 2021

Table of Contents:
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MEDIA PULLS US FORWARD AND BACK

1) NIKE JAPAN ads featuring Japan’s Minorities and Visible Minorities taking solace and courage from doing sports
2) Unknown news chyron of Govt panel that apparently blames foreigners for spreading Covid. However, FNN News tells a different story: one of assisting foreigners. Let’s be careful to avoid disinformation (UPDATED).
3) United Nations human rights experts say Japan was wrong to detain former Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn; owes him compensation

FULL TEXT SNA ARTICLES ARCHIVED
4) Full text of my first SNA column is now archived on Debito.org: “The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite” (Feb 2, 2019)
5) Full text of my first “Visible Minorities” column now archived on Debito.org: “Debito’s New Column for Shingetsu News Agency” (Aug 19, 2019)

… and finally…
6) My latest SNA VM column 16: “US Elections Repudiate Trump’s Japan-Style Ethnostate”, suggesting that the US might be taking real steps towards a post-racial society

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By Debito Arudou, Ph.D (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito)
Debito.org Newsletters as always are freely forwardable.

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1) NIKE JAPAN ads featuring Japan’s Minorities and Visible Minorities taking solace and courage from doing sports

Reader JK sent me this link to the following NIKE JAPAN advertisement for discussion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G02u6sN_sRc
Entitled “動かしつづける。自分を。未来を。” (Lit: We will continue moving. Myself. And the Future.”, which is a bit different from the official title of “The Future Isn’t Waiting”), the subject is of Japan’s school-age Minorities and Visible Minorities facing social othering in Japan, and finding solace and courage in themselves by becoming good at sports.

It’s dated November 27, 2020, and been viewed nearly 10 million times as of this writing. According to the Japan Times, it’s inspired a “fiery online response”: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/12/02/national/social-issues/japan-nike-ad/

The BBC adds, a bit disingenuously: “Many Japanese do not like to be told by outside voices to change their ways,” said Morley Robertson, a Japanese-American journalist. “But if a foreigner demonstrates a deep understanding of Japanese culture or Japanese rules, then those same Japanese who would otherwise take offence will gush forth with praise.”

Steve McGinnes, the author of Surfing the Asian wave: How to survive and thrive in the new world order, believes the advert is an “own goal”. “Endemic racism is going to be a sensitive topic in any culture. But Nike should not think, as a foreign brand, that it is appropriate for them to point it out to their hosts. “They are crudely putting a spotlight onto a subject that many feel should be off-limits to guests. It’s a huge own goal for Nike.”… “In 2020, should America or an American brand be taking the high ground on racism and telling the rest of the world what they are doing wrong?” adds Mr McGinnes. “Clearly, a lot of Japanese people think they shouldn’t.” https://www.bbc.com/news/business-55140846

I’ll reserve my comment for later. But I don’t believe this is an “own goal” for Nike. And how self-assured can these pundits be that these are “outside voices”?

http://www.debito.org/?p=16328

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2) Unknown news chyron of Govt panel that apparently blames foreigners for spreading Covid. However, FNN News tells a different story: one of assisting foreigners. Let’s be careful to avoid disinformation (UPDATED)

A screenshot of an unknown news has a chyron indicating that some government panel states, “Foreigners have different languages and customs, so we can’t thoroughly enforce policies against the spread of [Covid] infections.” By implication, this means that foreigners are being seen as an obstacle to the safety of Japanese society because of their differences. The screenshot is starting to multiply around the mediasphere, which is why it’s been sent to me multiple times.

However, a Debito.org Reader sends me a FNN news videos which, at minute 1:30, says, “Bunkakai de wa, kurasutaa e no taiou ya, kotoba no chigai de soudan ya jushin ga okureru gaikokujin no tame ni ichigenteki na soudan madoguchi o setchi suru koto ni tsuite giron shiteimasu.”
Or (my translation):
“At this panel, they are debating about whether to set up a unified consultation center to deal with clusters and with foreigners and who face delayed medical consultations and treatments due to language differences.”

That’s quite a different take! According to FNN, this panel seems to be trying to assist, not exclude or blame. I welcome others who find more clarifying media about this event. Meanwhile, my point is to be careful. Foreigners have been so perpetually offset and treated as exceptions from the regular population that this could reflexively feel like a repeat performance. But let’s be careful that this reflex does not lead to disinformation.

UPDATE NOV 14:
Ph.D. Candidate Anoma van der Veere has kindly tweeted out his research indicating some media sensationalism is going on here. Access the thread beginning at https://twitter.com/anomav/status/1327117586249568256?s=21&fbclid=IwAR0gIPlDs9K6X8tH87UWEuafZDYEM9XrgLobf7LI2luRRJgnStztEdka9n4
Screen captures follow, for the record.

http://www.debito.org/?p=16293

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3) United Nations human rights experts say Japan was wrong to detain former Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn; owes him compensation

AP: A panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations said Monday that former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan and has urged “compensation” for him from the Japanese government. The Japanese government denounced the report as a “totally unacceptable” viewpoint that will change nothing in the country’s legal process.

In its opinion published Monday, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Ghosn’s arrest in Japan in late 2018 and early 2019 was “arbitrary” and called on Japan’s government to “take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr Ghosn without delay.” A determination of whether detention is arbitrary is based on various criteria, including international norms of justice…

Japan’s system has been repeatedly criticized by human rights advocates. The panel cited previous concerns about Japan’s so-called daiyo kangoku system of detention and interrogation that relies heavily on confessions and could expose detainees to torture, ill-treatment and coercion.

COMMENT: I wrote back in January in that Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan’s gaijin gulag was the right move — not least because Japan’s heavy-handed prosecutorial powers and treatment of criminal suspects is in itself a violation of human rights. Now it turns out the United Nations would agree. Given that Japan has been shamed for decades over its human rights record, and still has not passed a criminal law against racial discrimination as promised under international treaty it signed a quarter century ago (yes, way back in 1995!), I doubt this will mean much. But at least it’s a delicious vindication for our advocacy camp.

http://www.debito.org/?p=16319

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FULL TEXT SNA ARTICLES ARCHIVED

4) Full text of my first SNA column is now archived on Debito.org: “The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite” (Feb 2, 2019)

It’s been nearly two years since I wrote my first feature piece for the Shingetsu News Agency (the only independent English-language media left in Japan not toeing a Japanese government line; please subscribe at http://shingetsunewsagency.com) about the editorial swing over at The Japan Times. That text has been behind a paywall ever since. With the acknowledgment of SNA, I am now reprinting my columns in full on Debito.org after one year has passed since publication. Here’s an excerpt, followed by a link to the full article in the Debito.org original timeline.

Excerpt: On January 28, the Japan Times published an opinion piece titled, “How Japanese is Naomi Osaka?” Author Kunihiko Miyake “felt something odd” about how the multiethnic tennis champ could ever “represent Japan.” Miyake’s article is indicative of how the quality of analysis has slipped under the Japan Times’ new ownership, and suggests how the purposes of the organization have changed…

[Miyake’s] half-baked column is indicative of something much larger—a decline in analytical prowess due to the editorial changes at the Japan Times in recent years.

The Japan Times came under new ownership in June 2017 by the media group News2u Holdings, a PR company. In an unexpected editorial shift, last November the Japan Times announced that it would henceforth be rewording the “potentially misleading” (and internationally-recognized) terms “Comfort Women”—which is already a direct translation of the official euphemism of ianfu—as “women who worked in wartime brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.” Likewise, the term “forced laborers” would now be rendered merely as “wartime laborers,” following the new government policy.

Aside from journalistic concerns about cramming a wordy term into concise articles, it wasn’t hard for media observers to understand this as a response to government pressure, already manifest in Japanese media and world history textbooks, to portray Japan’s past in a more exculpatory light…

Full article text now archived at http://www.debito.org/?p=15541

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5) Full text of my first “Visible Minorities” column now archived on Debito.org: “Debito’s New Column for Shingetsu News Agency” (Aug 19, 2019)

SNA: My name is Debito Arudou (or Arudou Debito, if you prefer), that guy from Sapporo who started writing about Japan from the early 1990s on a long-dead mailing list called the Dead Fukuzawa Society. I wrote so much there that I decided to archive my writings on a webpage. Debito.org soon blossomed into an award-winning reference site on life and human rights in Japan, and later a platform for newspaper articles and fieldwork research on racial discrimination. After moonlighting at places like the now-defunct Asahi Evening News and Japan Today, I began writing in 2002 a column for Japan Times, first under Zeit Gist and then Just Be Cause. Decades later, here we are with a new monthly column at the Shingetsu News Agency, under the title Visible Minorities. I chose this title for two reasons…

Full article text now archived at http://www.debito.org/?p=15720

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… and finally…

6) My latest SNA VM column 16: “US Elections Repudiate Trump’s Japan-Style Ethnostate”, suggesting that the US might be taking real steps towards a post-racial society

SNA: The US elections captured the world’s attention. No wonder. Given America’s hegemony as an economic, political, cultural, and military power, the results underpin the future of geopolitics and world order.

But here’s another angle: This election offers the world some insights into how countries painfully evolve into multiethnic, post-racial societies. It even demonstrated how enfranchised people would rather destroy their governing system than relinquish power.

Fortunately, they didn’t win. Let’s recount some important facts.

The contest between incumbent Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was indeed, as depicted in campaign slogans, a battle for the “soul of America.”

At stake was whether Trump’s nepotistic, corrupt administration—one that shamelessly used whatever means they could to perpetuate their power, punish political enemies, and undermine democracy both domestic and worldwide—would get four more years; or whether America’s place as a world leader, for better or worse, would be restored to less capricious leadership, with policymaking sane enough to keep its own citizens alive in a self-inflicted pandemic.

Clearly American voters chose the latter course; Biden won. He got five million more votes in an election where more people voted for a president than ever before, with voting rates on track to be among the highest in modern US history. […]

[There are of course some caveats, and] given the current status of Trump refusing to concede the election, and his lackeys interfering with a transition to the presumptive winner, it’s clear that no matter who wins, Republicans feel they are the only ones entitled to run the country. They view cheating, sabotage, soliciting foreign interference, and spreading unscientific conspiracy theories as fair play. The United States’ 233-year experiment in democracy be damned; 73 million voters in this election agreed with Trump’s authoritarianism. The intractable polarization of American politics is complete.

Still, the fact remains that this election was a repudiation of Trump, and, in retrospect, it’s a textbook example of democracy in action. […]

Ultimately, the history books will remember this about the past four years: Trump was the worst president in American history—the only one who was impeached, served only one term, and lost the popular vote. Twice.

Well, good for the United States. But there are also lessons here for Japan, particularly its minorities: how countries make slow and painful transitions to a post-racial society…

Read the rest on SNA at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/11/16/visible-minorities-us-elections-repudiate-trumps-japan-style-ethnostate/

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That’s all for the New Year! May 2021 be healthy, happy, stable, and sustainable for everyone out there! Debito

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 1, 2021 ENDS

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11 comments on “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 1, 2021

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Red-faced Suga government comes down heavy on the NJ-blaming with reconstruction minister Nishimura declaring;
    ‘ In addition, foreign residents who breach the 14-day quarantine rule will have their resident status revoked and be subject to deportation, Nishimura’

    Just like that. So much for ‘country of law’.
    Meanwhile, Japan-born Japanese are free to come and go as they please, using public transport to do it, and there is no legal requirement for bars and restaurants to close! (Never mind rush hours trains!)
    Despite the fact that the country is effectively closed to entry for NJ, it’s *still* their fault.
    Welcome to the new ‘chained country’.

    https://japantoday.com/category/national/update2-japan-to-halt-entry-of-all-nonresident-foreign-nationals

    Reply
    • ” a man who returned from Britain dined with multiple people during his 14-day self-isolation period and caused the spread of a new strain of the virus.”
      They don’t say the nationality this time. I bet its a Japanese man, then!

      (Dined with multiple people; I can imagine the dialog. Awwww, taro san, Igirisu no gaeri ka. Nomi ni ikou yo. Covid no shinpai gomu yo; daijoubu, daijoubu Mantra. Genki so desu no de). Japan, a country where aisatsu and carousing trumps everything else. Or maybe it was “work” or Alcohol harassment. I am not being completely facetious here; remember how the NJ PR handler explained Fukushima away as “Japanese culture to blame” (and thus, shouganai) )
      Reminds me a bit of that. Ditto no rule for Japanese, deportation for NJs. Thats “Japanese culture” so Free Pass…..

      Reply
    • Ah yes, it just keeps getting better, doesn‘t it? I find this bit hilarious: „ He said the new measures will be taken from Thursday because of a recent case where a man who returned from Britain dined with multiple people during his 14-day self-isolation period and caused the spread of a new strain of the virus.“

      Nowhere does the article mention that this guy was a Japanese national, yet all foreign residents are being punished because of this guy. Meanwhile Japanese nationals who break the quarantine rules will have their names disclosed. So basically, no punishment at all, just a slap on the wrist. But foreign residents will immediately have their whole lives destroyed. „So much for ‘country of law’“ indeed.

      Reply
      • Jim Di Griz says:

        Yeah!
        And what about the Japanese families//children/dependents/employees of the NJ to be deported?
        Again, throwing some meat to their racist base, whilst having no idea what being ‘resident’ actually entails.
        They’re going to split up families and close businesses? Really? Tinpot dictator stuff, without thinking even one step ahead.

        Reply
  • David Markle says:

    https://tinyurl.com/yxtbw3dc

    “Japan’s health ministry plans to establish a system to effectively track foreign nationals who tested positive for coronavirus after entering the country.
    The authorities currently register the names and nationalities of foreigners entering Japan at quarantine stations.
    But the database is separate from the nationwide system called HER-SYS, which was launched last May to grasp the country’s coronavirus situation in real time.
    The ministry is now working to link the two data systems using the passport numbers of travelers so that health authorities across the country can share the information swiftly.
    Officials plan to connect the two systems later this month.”

    Maybe I am paranoid, but does this mean that any foreigner who enters the country and passes through immigration with a negative test/after the 14 day self-quarantine period, who then contracts the virus, will be tracked or all foreigners will continue to be tracked in case they develop the infection and don t behave? Some might say: Nooooo… this is just for people who have recently entered the country!

    Hmmmm. I get nervous when officials start “connecting systems” because someone with less than innocent intentions always seems to find a way to use the system for their own nefarious purposes in my humble experience.

    Reply
    • Jim Di Griz says:

      Meanwhile, you have to ‘qualify’ for an official test by having symptoms- asymptomatic people squeeze into packed trains, schools, and restaurants blissfully infecting others and contributing to the 60%+ cases whose ‘infection routes are unknown’.
      Sure, you can go to a private testing center and pay between 20-30,000¥ for a test, but those testing positive aren’t included in the J-government’s official tally, nor are they under anything other than a moral obligation to go home and isolate.
      Meanwhile, whilst the vast majority of imported cases are caused by Japanese nationals re-entering the country, the ‘narrative’ is still ‘danger! Gaijin!’.
      What happened to Koike asking for another state of emergency if Tokyo cases went over 400 again? Never happened.
      What happened to Koike’s promise of 60,000 daily tests in Tokyo? Never happened.
      What happened to Abe’s promise of 100,000 national tests per day? Never happened.
      The Tokyo Olympics aren’t going to happen. As soon as a narrative to establish that it isn’t the J-Government’s fault is constructed, there may be more action.
      But ultimately, it will always all be ‘the gaijin’s fault’.

      Reply
      • While I agree with the : narrative’ part, especially as far as Yahoo comments are concerned, and also am pretty sure the Olympics aren’t gonna happen, allow me to point out that

        1. Koike did ask for another emergency although it took her long enough (and more new cases than 400)

        2. Private testing is now about 1/10 th of the price you mentioned, i.e. not 2-3 man but 2-3k https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/12/24/national/science-health/private-covid-19-testing/

        3. Asymptomatic cases may be finally tested in March https://news.yahoo.co.jp/articles/71f533a3e1df3838600358c5b0ed2869e3bd9979 (too bad it’s Mar 2021 not Mar 2020…)

        Reply
        • Jim Di Griz says:

          I don’t mean to be contrary for the sake of it but;
          1. How many weeks after Tokyo daily cases went above 400 again did it take for Koike to request SOE? Months.
          2. Yeah, I see this all over the internet, that private testing is just 2-3 thousand yen. Strangely, I can only find a test center in the 20-30 thousand yen range. It seems to be something that was offered once in Tokyo, and got a lot of propaganda coverage, and now is repeated constantly in conversation on the internet.
          3. Asymptomatic cases MAY (?) be tested at government test centers in March 2021? I’ll believe it when I see it, but it’s not happening NOW, one year into the pandemic.

          Let’s not BS each other.

          Reply
          • Jim Di Griz says:

            Well, at least you accept that point #1 was an unreliable ‘vow/pledge’ and that number #3 depends on us having to effectively trust people who’ve proved untrustworthy.
            As a side note, maybe change handle to ‘optimistic in the face of all previous disappointments NJ’?
            As for me, if I want to rah-rah along with the propaganda, I’ll watch NHK or read Nikkei Shinbun, not debito.org comments.

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