DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 15, 2021

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 15, 2021
Table of Contents:
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BAD SCIENCE:
1) Reuters: “No foreign spectators at Tokyo Olympics”: Japan takes the Gold Medal for Discrimination with a “Japanese Only” Olympics?
2) Richard Lloyd Parry in Times London: “Cancel Tokyo 2020 Olympics”. Yet even this respected reporter sloppily implies Japan’s Covid numbers are contingent on foreigners

WORSE SOCIAL SCIENCE
3) Harvard Prof. Ramseyer criticized for poorly-researched revisionist articles on Japan’s WWII “Comfort Women” sexual slavery. Actually, Ramseyer’s shoddy and intemperate research is within character, based on my experience.
4) School “Hair Police” lose case in Osaka (kinda): Court awards the victim a pittance, but calls enforced hair coloring has “reasonable and legitimate educational purpose”. Another setback for Visible Minorities.
5) Archiving SNA VM5: “Local Governments Classifying Japanese Citizens as Foreigners”, Dec. 16, 2019 (link to full text)
6) Archiving SNA VM4: “The Xeno-Scapegoating of Japanese Halloween”, Nov 18, 2019 (link to full text)

… and finally…
7) SNA VM 19: “Yoshiro Mori’s Overdue Comeuppance”, Feb 15, 2021, on how the former Japan Olympics Chair melded misogyny with racism — for decades!
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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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BAD SCIENCE:
1) Reuters: “No foreign spectators at Tokyo Olympics”: Japan takes the Gold Medal for Discrimination with a “Japanese Only” Olympics?

Reuters: Japan has decided to stage this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics without overseas spectators due to public concern about COVID-19, Kyodo news agency said on Tuesday, citing officials with knowledge of the matter… Kyodo said the government had concluded that welcoming fans from abroad would not be possible given public concern about the coronavirus and the detection of more contagious variants in many countries, Kyodo cited the officials as saying…

Most Japanese people do not want international visitors to attend the Games amid fears that a large influx could spark a resurgence of infections, a Yomiuri newspaper poll showed. The survey showed 77% of respondents were against allowing foreign fans to attend, versus 18% in favour. Some 48% said they were against allowing any spectators into venues and 45% were in favour.

COMMENT: I would hope that means that Non-Japanese Residents of Japan are allowed to get tickets and spectate. But I’m not at all confident that will happen. First, how will authorities enforce that, given the “Japanese Only” practices widespread in Japan that historically have barred entry or participation to anyone who is foreign, moreover doesn’t “look Japanese”? (This includes Japanese sports; see for example here, here, here, and here.) After decades of studying these practices, my educated guess is that this entry ban will be applied to any person considered to be “Non-Japanese”, not just NJ tourists from overseas; and that includes online ticket sales. Meaning anyone with a foreign-sounding name online will be denied a ticket, and a foreign-looking face denied entry at the door.

Second, what completely astonishes me is the poor physical and social science happening here. Authorities have once again missed the point is the fact that ANY gathering during a pandemic is potentially a super-spreader event. The virus is already in Japan, spread by Japanese, and thus Japanese spectators will infect each other, of course. So if safety is a concern, why aren’t they barring ALL spectators?

http://www.debito.org/?p=16480

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2) Richard Lloyd Parry in Times London: “Cancel Tokyo 2020 Olympics”. Yet even this respected reporter sloppily implies Japan’s Covid numbers are contingent on foreigners

Richard Lloyd Parry, a very respected journalist and author, has come out with a sensibly-argued Op-Ed in The Times London in favor of cancelling the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. But even then he words things carelessly when he writes:

“[…] Japan […] compared to the pandemic mess in the rest of the rich world [has] been doing well. With twice the population of Britain, Japan has registered about a tenth the number of coronavirus cases and one twentieth the deaths. This has nothing to do with vaccination, which has hardly begun in Japan — only a few tens of thousands of health workers have been jabbed — but rather good hygiene and an almost complete ban on foreign visitors. Now the government threatens to sacrifice these gains for the sake of money and prestige.”

COMMENT: Portraying Japan’s apparent success at lower case numbers as due to an almost complete ban on “foreign visitors” is neither helpful nor accurate. As Mr. Lloyd Parry surely must have known (since the ban affected him too as a Japan resident), this ban included foreign residents, not just visitors. Not to mention that the British Covid variant was verifiably brought into Japan by Japanese. Implicitly framing Covid as a “foreign virus” brought in by “foreign visitors” makes Japan seem to be a hermetically-sealed environment until the foreigners came in; and now “the government threatens to sacrifice these gains” from its apparent isolationism. This rhetoric isn’t that far removed from calling it the “Chinese Virus” or the “Kung Flu”. And we’ve seen the dreadful results of that kind of carelessness.

A moment’s reflection (which probably would have happened if Lloyd Parry were talking about minorities in Britain, especially at the editorial stage) would have brought about the realization that these are people we’re talking about, and how issues are couched in the media affects them, particularly if they’re Japan’s disenfranchised minorities. If it were my article, I would have said “Japan strongly limited international travel”, which doesn’t zero in on foreigners in specific.

http://www.debito.org/?p=16470

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WORSE SOCIAL SCIENCE
3) Harvard Prof. Ramseyer criticized for poorly-researched revisionist articles on Japan’s WWII “Comfort Women” sexual slavery. Actually, Ramseyer’s shoddy and intemperate research is within character, based on my experience.

Making waves in Japan Studies recently is Harvard professor J. Mark Ramseyer’s recent academic publication in the March 2021 issue of the International Review of Law and Economics on Japan’s WWII “Comfort Women” sexual slavery. He claims, in a companion article in right-wing Sankei media group’s Japan Forward, “pure fiction”. Quote: “But the claims about enslaved Korean comfort women are historically untrue. The Japanese army did not dragoon Korean women to work in its brothels. It did not use Korean women as sex slaves. The claims to the contrary are simply ー factually ー false.”

While this issue is a contentious one (and my standpoint on it is visible in the way I phrased it), I will leave it up to the experts to opine on what’s wrong with Ramseyer’s claims, his extremely flawed research, and its implications for the field in general. The Asia-Pacific Journal–Japan Focus is a good place to start. Quoting Prof. Dudden (link).

Instead, what I CAN talk about is how J. Mark Ramseyer and I have butted heads (in a sense) in the past. When scholar Ivan P. Hall released his landmark book “Cartels of the Mind” in 1997, exposing Japan’s “intellectual closed shops” in the fields of academic faculty (“Academic Apartheid”), legal practices, journalism, and higher education in general, it sent shockwaves throughout US-Japan Relations (and really launched my activism in earnest). You can read all about the issues raised as pertain to unequal treatment of Japan’s NJ academics here (link).

Somehow, the reputable Journal of Japanese Studies published a hatchet-job review (including typos) from Ramseyer (fresh from getting his new job *with tenure* at Harvard Law) that was dismissive, snarky, and even poorly researched (self-acknowledging that his impressions are “haphazard”; one source is a sample size of one from a Christmas card!). According to Debito.org’s Archives from 1999, Ramseyer wrote: (continues). My point is that this type of sloppy and politically-motivated research is within character for Harvard Professor Ramseyer.

UPDATE FEB 25, 2021: According to the Yonhap News Agency, Ramseyer has done it again in a separate new academic paper, claiming that the Ethnic Koreans massacred during the Japan 1923 Kanto Earthquake were in fact marauding gangs who “torched buildings, planted bombs, poisoned water supplies” and murdered and raped people!

http://www.debito.org/?p=16435

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4) School “Hair Police” lose case in Osaka (kinda): Court awards the victim a pittance, but calls enforced hair coloring has “reasonable and legitimate educational purpose”. Another setback for Visible Minorities.

Japan Today: [A] teen attending Kaifukan Prefectural High School in the town of Habikino, Osaka Prefecture […] was repeatedly told that she had to dye her brown hair black. The girl insisted that brown was her natural hair color, but the school says that three different teachers examined the roots of the girl’s hair and found them to be black, which they took as proof that she had been coloring her hair.

Eventually the girl, who is now 21 years old, claims she was told “If you’re not going to dye your hair black [i.e. back to black, in the school’s opinion], then there’s no need for you to come to school.” Feeling pressured and distressed, the girl did indeed stop attending classes, and the school then removed her name from her class seating chart and student roster. But instead of seeing the school’s administrators on campus, the woman decided to see them in court, and in 2017 filed a lawsuit over the incident, asking for 2.2 million yen in compensation.

On Tuesday an Osaka district court handed down its ruling, finding neither side to be completely in the right. Presiding judge Noriko Yokota recognized the validity of the school to set and enforce rules relating to coloring hair, saying “Such rules have been established as having a reasonable and legitimate educational purpose, and so maintaining student discipline is within the discretion of the school.”

COMMENT: So in terms of legal precedent, the Osaka District Court has established that rules that enable teachers to scrutinize student hair follicles, and bully kids who don’t have what they consider to be “normal” coloration, are just an acceptable part of Japanese education. It has done nothing less than approve of institutionalized bullying and enforced conformity with a racialized bent. The natural attributes of Visible Minorities should be celebrated, not treated as aberrations, singled out in public, and suppressed.

http://www.debito.org/?p=16430

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5) Archiving SNA VM5: “Local Governments Classifying Japanese Citizens as Foreigners”, Dec. 16, 2019 (link to full text)

SNA: According to the Japanese government, our resident Non-Japanese (NJ) population reached yet another new record, at 2.8 million last June. Last April, Japan started offering new visa regimes to greatly expand the NJ labor force, in response to Japan’s aging society and shrinking population. This, plus steady numbers of permanent residents, international marriages, and naturalizing citizens, are expanding our multicultural and multiethnic communities.

In response, local governments have been trying to accommodate the diversity through new concepts and policies. It started in earnest as far back as 2001 with the Hamamatsu Declaration, where multiple cities and towns near Shizuoka Prefecture called upon the national government to assist them in providing their NJ residents with education, welfare benefits, and streamlined administration. Since then, local governments have generally made positive proposals in good faith.

But sometimes they get it wrong. Last month, Debito.org reported how the city of Nagoya uses a very problematic term in their documents: Gaikokujin Shimin. The closest translation would be a “foreigner city resident/citizen” (as opposed to, er, a gaikokujin kokumin, the contradictory “foreigner Japanese citizen”?). But the point is that people covered by this term officially belong in the city as dwellers and participants.

The concept sounds inclusive until you see how it’s officially being defined. According to one of Nagoya city’s “General Plans,” dated August 2018, a Gaikokujin Shimin is, as I translate it from the text: “In addition to people with foreign nationalities with an address within Nagoya city, people like those who obtained Japanese citizenship, children born from international marriages, people with foreign cultures in their backgrounds, and people who have foreign roots.”
Let’s mull that over:

http://www.debito.org/?p=15883

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6) Archiving SNA VM4: “The Xeno-Scapegoating of Japanese Halloween”, Nov 18, 2019 (link to full text)

A year after publication, Debito.org is archiving the full text of my Shingetsu News Agency columns with permission. Column 4, published back in November 2019, was a variation on the Gaijin Blame Game that goes on in Japan whenever Japanese authorities want to tighten their control over society further. The opening follows:

SNA (Tokyo) — “Madness.” “Mayhem.” “Chaos unfolded.” “Anarchic behavior.” “Police try to subdue massive crowds running amok.” That was how one single article in the Japan Times depicted the big party at Shibuya Crossing last Halloween Night. Other media echoed similarly riotous language, noting the heavy police presence and suspended alcohol sales. Sheer anarchy! Reading all that, you could be forgiven for thinking Shibuya was set aflame and Hachiko knocked off his plinth. But drop by sometime; everything is still there just fine.

Why the alarmist attitude towards Halloween? We don’t see it for the revelry at, say, Japanese sporting events, where Hanshin Tigers fans take over Shinkansens and leap into Osaka rivers; or for annual Seijinshiki Coming of Age Days, where binge drinking and youthful hijinks disrupt boring official ceremonies; or any time of the year in entertainment districts nationwide, with public urination, people passed out on sidewalks or subways, and drunk chinpira picking fights.

Why not? Because those things are normalized. After all, it’s often hard for adults in Japan to have fun without alcohol, and excesses are tolerated as anzen-ben, a “safety valve” for letting off steam given the stresses of life. Why isn’t Halloween treated the same? Because…

http://www.debito.org/?p=15841

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… and finally…

7) SNA VM 19: “Yoshiro Mori’s Overdue Comeuppance”, Feb 15, 2021, on how the former Japan Olympics Chair melded misogyny with racism — for decades!

SNA: When I started writing this month’s column, Yoshiro Mori, an 83-year-old fossil of Japanese politics, was still president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organising Committee, where he had come under fire for comments claiming that women in leadership positions “talk too much,” cluttering meetings with competitive chatter. He has since resigned, but in the wake has come much media commentary about Japan’s sexism and women’s disenfranchisement.

Photos appeared showing meetings of top-level Japan business organizations (such as Keidanren) that look like old-boy clubs. Pundits noted that Japan has slipped in the World Economic Forum’s gender-empowerment index to 121st place out of 153 countries measured (the lowest amongst the developed countries, behind China, Zimbabwe, Brunei, and Myanmar). And my favorite: Japan idiotically sending a man (Kono Taro) to the world’s first meeting of women foreign ministers in 2018.

All this has occurred despite former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s much-touted policy of unlocking the women workforce as the “greatest potential for the growth of the Japanese economy.” He would create “a society in which women can shine.” Mori’s sexist comments make clear that hasn’t happened.

So let’s focus on what Mori himself represented: the worst of Japan’s politics, melding misogyny with racism…

Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/02/15/visible-minorities-yoshiro-moris-overdue-comeuppance/
Anchor site for commentary at http://www.debito.org/?p=16426
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That’s all for this month. Thanks for reading! Debito

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 15, 2021 ENDS

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