Hello folks. On the road in Tokyo. But that’s no excuse to avoid sending a
JANUARY 25, 2007
This week’s topics:
1) IVAN HALL NOV 3 2006 JALT SPEECH ON DEBITO.ORG
2) ENDGAME FOR JAPAN’S QUEST FOR UNSC SEAT?
3) METROPOLIS ON INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTIONS
4) AP PRIMER ON J IMMIGRATION ISSUES
a) How to deal with Japanese police ID checkpoints: have personalities.
b) Amorously noisy bathers cause trouble at onsen. Ban them too?
c) Yunohana’s “Japanese Only” sign copied into online video game.
d) First Debito.org Dejima Award: Town approves university only if no foreign students allowed
“JAPANESE ONLY” T-SHIRTS ON SALE AGAIN AT DEBITO.ORG
Collated by Arudou Debito (email@example.com)
Updates in real time on my blog at http://www.debito.org/index.php
(accessible when it’s not being inundated with hits
from cyberelements allegedly defending “freedom of speech”)
1) IVAN HALL NOV 3 2006 JALT SPEECH ON DEBITO.ORG
Dr. Ivan P. Hall is author of seminal work CARTELS OF THE MIND (Norton 1997), which described the systematic ways Japanese “intellectual cartels” in influential sectors of thought transfer (the mass media, researchers, academia, cultural exchange, and law) shut out foreign influences as a matter of course.
It was he who coined the important phrase “academic apartheid”, he who inspired a whole generation of activists (myself included) to take up the banner against imbedded “guestism” in the gaijin community, and he who has been a great personal friend and encourager in many a dark hour when all seemed hopeless in the human rights arena.
Now in his seventies and entitled to rest on his laurels, we at JALT PALE proudly invited him to speak and bask in the glow of the next generation of activists.
He gave a marvellous speech in Kitakyushu on November 3, 2006. It is my pleasure to premiere the full text to the general public on debito.org:
[By writing CARTELS] I wanted to advertise the striking parallel to Japan’s much better known market barriers. In an era of incessant trade disputes, the foreign parties seeking to open Japan’s closed market were for the most part unaware of this complementary set of “softer” intellectual barriers that powerfully reinforce those “harder” economic barriers. They do so by impeding the free flow of dialogue and disputation with the outside world, and through their encouragement of a defensive, insularist attitude on the Japanese side
What about the attitude involved here? The way of thinking behind the exclusionary system of 1893 was best stated by Inoue Testujiro, the well-known Tokyo University philosopher and Dean of the Faculty of Letters in the 1890s, reflecting back on that time:
“In principle, professors at Japanese universities should all be Japanese. Accordingly, we managed to dismiss the foreign instructors from the Faculties of Medicine, Law, and Science, so that there was not one of them left. Every field should be taught exclusively by Japanese staff–the number of foreigners should gradually be reduced and ultimately eliminated altogether.” [Cartels of the Mind, p. 102]
Foreigners, Inoue continued, were to be hired only for the one thing they presumably could do better than the Japanese–to teach their own native languages.
One university trend clearly in sync with Japan’s rightward ideological swing is the now well-advanced barring of native speakers from the decades-long practice in many places of having them–as enrichment to their language instruction–convey some substantive knowledge about their own countries and cultures as well.
One of the leaders of university English language instruction in Japan is the Komaba campus at Todai, where there is great distress about the way PhD-holding foreign scholars are now strictly forbidden to digress from the new textbook. I have a copy here–it’s called On Campus–and it’s full of lessons on subjects like “Walking off Your Fat,” “Coffee and Globalization,” or “Why is Mauna Kea Sacred to Native Hawaiian People?” Not only are these teachers being forced to serve up something close to intellectual pap, but, more significantly, a pap that is devoid of any reference to the history, society, or culture of the English-speaking countries themselves–matters which I understand are deliberately downplayed if not off limits.
There is one area, however, where those of us fighting these issues are constrained only by our own lack of intellectual resourcefulness, honesty, and courage–and that is precisely this crucial arena of ideas and public persuasion. This means, more than anything else, writing–and, above all, the writing of books, for the simple reason that only books can be so thorough, so long-lasting, and so widely disseminated and reviewed (as long as you and/or your publisher work hard to promote it).
In a word, what I am urging here is a much more active “protesting against the protest against protest”– if you follow me! That is to say, a much more active counter-attack on the apologia for continued discrimination– including all those special pleadings, culturalist copouts, and wacky non-sequiturs (some of them even from the judicial bench) that have gone without challenge for so long as to have gained the status of common wisdom– thereby inflicting real damage to the cause.
Read it all to see how the history of thought unfolded towards the foreign community in Japan, afresh from a world-class scholar and an eyewitness.
2) ENDGAME FOR JAPAN’S QUEST FOR UNSC SEAT?
I have the feeling that Japan may be approaching checkmate on getting its permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
Using the appointment of Ban Ki Moon as the new UN Secretary General as an opportunity to put some wind behind their sails, the GOJ has gotten their ducks lined up: the major world powers (sans China) are falling for Japan’s arguments of quid pro quo.
Opening with a primer article from Drini at Inter Press. Then Japan Times on Europe’s and Bolton’s support. Comment from me follows.
Japan’s eyes still on UN seat
Asia Times January 3, 2007
By Suvendrini Kakuchi
…Analysts contend that the resumption of the drive for Security Council reform this year, which follows the disastrous rejection in 2005, reflects several important developments in Japanese diplomacy after the election of former leader Junichiro Koizumi and Abe, both conservatives…
Indeed, Abe, along with conservative policymakers, argue that Japanese contributions to the UN are almost 20% of the annual budget, second only to the United States, which should make a permanent seat in the Security Council along with the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China, which pay lower fees, totally natural.
In addition, wrote the Yomiuri newspaper, Japan’s largest daily, Japan has also contributed in the way of calling for arms reduction, improvement of the UN Secretariat’s functioning, and a fair calculation of contribution of ratios for member fees.
“But,” noted the newspaper pointedly, “such sensible recommendations have never been implemented. The Security Council’s special privilege, the UN’s unique structure and the difficulty of multinational diplomacy are behind Japan’s inability to get its voice heard.”
GENERAL ASSEMBLY SUPPORT “OVERWHELMING”
Japan deserves permanent UNSC seat, Bolton says
Japan Times January 17, 2007
By ERIC PRIDEAUX Staff writer
Japan should be granted a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, as more than two-thirds of General Assembly states would support this despite expected opposition from China, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton said Tuesday.
“I think Japan still has overwhelming support in the General Assembly,” said Bolton, an outspoken foreign-policy conservative and advocate of the U.S. invasion of Iraq who stepped down as ambassador in December..
Bolton argued that as the second-largest contributor to U.N. finances after the U.S., and as a participant in peacekeeping operations around the world, Japan possesses more than enough clout to ask the General Assembly to vote for the charter revision needed to give it a permanent Security Council seat.
As one of five countries currently holding permanent seats, China–which has misgivings about Japan having a permanent UNSC seat–can veto Japan’s bid, a fact Bolton readily acknowledged. That, however, should not be a deterrent, he added…
Mr. Abe’s bold security agenda
The Japan Times Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2007
…The new thinking underlying Mr. Abe’s trip was signaled on the day of his departure with the elevation of the Japan Defense Agency to become the Ministry of Defense. That move sets the stage for a shift in defense planning as Japan attempts to take on new international responsibilities. Central to that new role is permanent membership on the U.N. Security Council:
Mr. Abe made that case in meetings with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Jacques Chirac and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and won support from them all…
COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:
Why do I oppose Japan’s bid for the UNSC? It’s not just because I find all this talk of financial contribution as some legitimization of Japan’s standpoint rather odd (should UNSC seats be up for sale?).
It’s more because Japan has a nasty habit of signing treaties and not following them.
Two shining examples: The Convention on Civil and Political Rights and The Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Or not signing treaties at all, such as the Hague Convention on Child Abduction (more on this at the CRN Website, at http://crnjapan.com/issues/en/japannotsignedhagueconvention.html
The UN CCPR Committee and the UN in general (http://www.debito.org/japanvsun.html), most recently UN HRC Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene in 2005 and 2006 (http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html), has cautioned Japan about this for well over a decade. Yet Japan continues to ignore the findings or do anything significant to change the situation (such as pass a law against racial discrimination, now eleven years overdue).
The ace in the hole for the human rights activists is the UNSC seat, which is all the GOJ really cares about here. Its sense of entitlement is to me more due to a matter of national pride and purchasing power. Less about acting like a developed country keeping its promises as a matter of course.
Give this seat to Japan, and there is no incentive for the GOJ do anything at all regarding its human rights record (quite the opposite–the GOJ will probably feel further justified in continuing doing nothing since it got this far anyway).
Probably should send the leadership of the supporting countries some germane newspaper articles, for what they are worth. Any citizens out there willing to contact their embassy or national offices overseas? Help yourself to these links to pertinent articles at the bottom of my blog entry on this subject:
3) METROPOLIS ON INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTIONS
An update (thanks to Metropolis for defying the general trend of the media, which usually takes up an issue and then drops it without conclusion because it is no longer “fresh news”) on Japan’s record regarding child abductions after the breakup of international marriages.
Remember the Children
One year on, has anything changed in the fight against international child abduction?
Metropolis Magazine, January 19, 2007
Last January, Metropolis publicized the plight of parents fighting for access to children abducted by Japanese spouses (http://metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/618/feature.asp). A year on, few can report any progress…
As we reported 12 months ago, no Japanese court has ever caused a child abducted to Japan by a Japanese parent to be returned to the child’s habitual residence outside Japan. Part of the problem is that Japan is not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which works to ensure the prompt return of abducted children to their country of habitual residence.
There is no reason to hope for change any time soon: Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it is still studying the document, more than 25 years after its inception. “Japan continues to be a haven for international child abduction, and I see no sign of any improvement,” says Jeremy D. Morley, a New York attorney who specializes in international child custody cases. The problem, he says, goes much deeper than simply the ratification of a document.
“The Hague Convention requires that each signatory country have effective courts that can issue prompt, fair and non-discriminatory orders that are then promptly enforced,” Morley explains. “For this reason, Japan would likely be in default of the convention shortly after its effective date.”
“In custody matters, the Japanese system merely rubberstamps the status quo,” Morley says. That means the parent that has physical possession of the children is guaranteed legal custody, and since parental child abduction is not a crime in Japan, the result is a system that indirectly encourages abduction. “It is ‘finders keepers, losers weepers’ in its rawest and most cruel form,” Morley says.
I will say that there is a documentary movie in the works on the Murray Wood Case, mentioned in the opening of the Metropolis article. I can’t give you more details at this time, but I will when the directors are good and ready.
More on Murray case at the Children’s Rights Network website at http://www.crnjapan.com/people/wom/en/. Kudos to the Canadian Government for doing their job–actually helping out their citizens overseas!
4) AP PRIMER ON J IMMIGRATION ISSUES
Pretty good article rounding up what we’ve been saying so far about the issues of Japanese immigration, particularly that of guest workers-cum-immigrants from South America reaching double-digit percentages of the population of some Japanese towns.
The article says few things which readers of this and other mailing lists don’t already know. But I’m glad to see this issue receiving wider attention overseas. Quite often it takes “gaiatsu” (overseas pressure) from exposure before the GOJ is ever shamed into doing something about its own social problems. For what do the policymaking elites care about these people? They care more about how it tarnishes Japan’s reputation overseas.
Japan Mulls Importing Foreign Workers
Associated press, courtesy of Salon.com
By JOSEPH COLEMAN Associated Press Writer
…”We want people to study Japanese and learn our rules before coming here,” Oizumi Mayor Hiroshi Hasegawa, whose business card is in Portuguese. “Until the national government decides on an immigration system, it’s going to be really tough.”…
For the government to increase those numbers would be groundbreaking in a nation conditioned to see itself as racially homogeneous and culturally unique, and to equate “foreign” with crime and social disorder….
[Oizumi] City Hall officials are clearly overwhelmed trying to plug the holes in a social system that seems to assume that everyone living in Japan is Japanese….
Schooling is compulsory in Japan until age 16, but only for citizens. So foreign kids can skip school with impunity. Arrangements such as special Japanese classes for newcomers are ad hoc and understaffed. Many of the foreigners aren’t entitled to pensions or the same health benefits as Japanese workers because they’re hired through special job brokers…
Corporate leaders are prime movers. “We can create high-value and unique services and products by combining the diversity of foreigners and the teamwork of the Japanese,” said Hiroshi Tachibana, senior managing director of Japan’s top business federation, Keidanren.
But government officials are so touchy about the subject that they deny the country has an immigration policy at all, and insist on speaking of “foreign workers” rather than “immigrants” who might one day demand citizenship….
Now for a change of pace, for sanity’s sake:
5) HUMOR SECTION
First up are two hilarious articles from the Mainichi WAIWAI page, with translations and reports of articles from Japan’s wild Shuukanshi weekly magazines. Shuukanshi are a significant and wildly influential sector of Japan’s media which cannot be overlooked. Truth be told, the WAIWAI page a guilty pleasure, especially given the excellent writing skills of the translators.
a) HOW TO DEAL WITH J POLICE INSTANT ID CHECKPOINTS: HAVE PERSONALITIES
Busty babe puts pushy policemen in their place
Mainichi Daily News Waiwai Page January 11, 2007
A chance encounter on a Tokyo street gave a spunky half-American model a chance to make sure the capital’s uncouth law enforcers copped a blast, according to Shukan Asahi (1/19).
DJ-cum-model Yurika Amari … was making up for some rough handling she received from the long arm of the law after they suspected she was up to no good apparently because her big bust and lanky looks made her stand out from the crowded streets of Tokyo’s Shibuya district.
Amari, whose father is an American, was walking along the streets in late December when a couple of uniformed cops came up and grabbed her from behind. They whirled her around and demanded she tell them whether she was a foreigner and if she could speak Japanese.
One of the cops reached for Amari’s handbag. When she refused to give it to him, he snatched it away from her and began rifling through it. When the fuzz failed to find anything untoward, they began walking away, but Amari wasn’t letting them off so easily after what they’d just put her through. She asked their names and they simply flashed their police notebooks (the Japanese equivalent of a Western cop showing their badge) and sauntered off.
Amari filed a complaint with the MPD over the way the cops had handled her. She demanded a meeting with the officers who had accosted her and an apology. She ended up speaking to their boss, who refused to apologize for their behavior. With police refusing to express any regret, Amari asked for–and was given–the opportunity to educate the police on boorish behavior.
Amari spoke for about 1 hour to around 80 police officers, most of them men in their 40s and 50s…
Quite a tactic to get your points across–be eye candy for a buncha slavering cops. Now, why haven’t I ever thought of that?!
What the rest of us shomin can do at
b) AMOROUSLY NOISY BATHERS CAUSE TROUBLE AT ONSEN? SHALL WE BAN THEM TOO?
This is an old article, which I’ve sat on until now–I was advised by the translator not to take this seriously, as this is, after all, a Weekly. The story is probably apocryphal. But it’s hilarious enough to pass on to you, with a little comment at the end.
Randy young couples play scrub-a-dub at rural hot springs
Mainichi Waiwai Page, October 6, 2005
“Our inn has a large common bath, plus four smaller private spas that can be rented by guests,” says the “kami” female proprietor at a ryokan (Japanese-style inn) in Shizuoka’s Atagawa Onsen. “The private baths are available for rental on a round-the-clock basis. Of late, they’ve been taken over by young couples, who are quite… noisy, if you know what I mean.”…
“We certainly want couples who come here to be able to enjoy a romantic interlude,” the kami at another rural spa tells Shukan Jitsuwa. “But they get pretty messy in their lovemaking. Employees have told me when they go into the bathing areas to clean up, they can see obvious traces that sex took place. Since other people use the baths too, they should at least be considerate enough to wipe up after they finish.
“Japan’s traditional hot spring culture regards this kind of behavior as absolutely disgraceful!” she complains.
Japan’s ryokan industry, unfortunately, is in the throes of an unprecedented recession, and as such is hardly in the position to turn away business. But still…
But still… (and not to pour cold water on the humors here, but), assuming truthiness, I await the onsen notice saying “No amorously moist couples allowed!” next to the JAPANESE ONLY sign.
c) FIRST DEBITO.ORG DEJIMA AWARD: SETAKA TOWN
This Letter to the Editor appeared in the Japan Times. Thanks to G for the tip. Comment from me follows:
READERS IN COUNCIL
Town opts for isolation policy
The Japan Times, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007
By CHRIS FLYNN in Fukuoka
As the new year begins, we are approaching the “awards” season: the Academy Awards, Grammies and my favorite, the Darwin awards (given to people who improve the human-gene pool as part of the natural-selection process by accidentally killing or sterilizing themselves during a foolish or careless mistake). I would like to propose a new award: the “Dejima Awards,” given to those in Japan who actively try to shield themselves from foreigners and foreign influence, culture and ideas.
I would like to nominate the Setaka Town Assembly (Fukuoka Prefecture) for this year’s award. The town was trying to attract a university to establish a campus in town, and in the process asked for comments from the townsfolk.
A group of residents submitted a deposition opposing a campus that did not reject foreign students. They were worried about the crime such students would bring. That’s right–the residents wanted a university as long as there were no foreign students. The town assembly voted to accept the proposal without debate.
COMMENT: I assume the Japan Times checks its facts before publication, and Chris Flynn is somebody I know and trust from his days at radio station Love FM in Fukuoka. So I doubt the story is bogus. More substantiation and comment at http://www.debito.org/?p=170
Anyway, I like his idea of creating this kind of award as a form of raspberry. Too many times these stupidities and rustic paranoia seize the zeitgeist and create idiotic policy. The option of exposure for what this action clearly constitutes–xenophobia–is a viable one.
Thus may I award (if that would be alright with Chris) the first Debito.org Dejima Award to the Setaka Town Assembly for its foresight in anticipating the criminal element in all foreign students.
d) YUNOHANA’S “JAPANESE ONLY” SIGN COPIED ONTO ONLINE VIDEO GAME
Well, here’s another a surprise. Incorporated into one of the world’s most popular online video games (a first-person shoot ﾔem up called “Counter Strike, Condition Zero” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counter-Strike), with customizable characters, weapons, and backgrounds), there is a scene where our hero gunman faces a door with a JAPANESE ONLY sign!
Screen captures at:
Believe it or not, that is sign a copy and paste from the Otaru Yunohana Onsen sign (up between 1998 and 2000), defendant in a lawsuit for racial discrimination between 2001 and 2004 (which it lost). More on that at http://www.debito.org/otarulawsuit.html (I was one plaintiff in that case.)
Amazing to think how far this case and lawsuit has entered the popular culture. Not only has it been featured on entrance and final exams for law degrees in Japan (not to mention overseas textbooks studying Japanese law), I’m told it also has been cited as one of the twenty most influential postwar law cases in a Waseda University law publication!
Now it’s been slipped into a video game? I wonder if as the gunman character I could have used the gun to shoot the sign up. Oh, well, I can dream, can’t I?
Thanks to Dan for notifying me. Hmm… wonder what’s on the other side of that doorway? Not a screen capture of me wearing a T-shirt with a target on it, I hope.
Speaking of T-shirts:
“JAPANESE ONLY” T-SHIRTS ON SALE AGAIN AT DEBITO.ORG
Back by popular demand…
T-shirts with an authentic “JAPANESE ONLY” sign emblazoned on their chest.
Perfect for night wear, street wear, underjacket wear, and bar conversation starters!
Shirt is high-quality heavy cotton and comes in American sizes L and XL, in Blue and Black.
See photos of the shirt (guess who’s modelling it?), prices, and ordering details (bank transfer or Paypal) at
Why am I doing this? Because many people would rather pretend these JAPANESE ONLY signs do not exist. Too bad. They do.
Show your support. Help spread awareness of the problem in the best of satirical traditions, by wearing your heart on your sleeve, and the issue on your chest!
Price: 2500 yen including postage anywhere.
Buy one from me directly at one of my upcoming speeches and it’s 2000 yen (i.e. sans the price of postage).
All for today. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito in Tokyo
JANUARY 25, 2007 DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER ENDS