DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 31, 2008

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Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi all. Happy Hallowe’en. Off again this weekend speaking, so let’s get this off to your inboxes:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 31, 2008

Table of Contents:
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1) Japan Focus runs E translation of Asahi Oct 5 2008 article on discrimination in Japan
2) Govt websites don’t include NJ residents in their tallies of “local population”
3) AP: Economic downturn already resulting in NJ layoffs in Japan, but NJ not counted in unemployment figures
4) SR on Shounan Shinkin Bank in Chigasaki, refuses bank accounts to NJ who can’t read and speak Japanese
5) MX on “Gaijin” harassment in Tokyo elementary school

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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
Freely forwardable

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1) Japan Focus runs E translation of Asahi Oct 5 2008 article on discrimination in Japan

Japan’s Entrenched Discrimination Toward Foreigners
The Asahi Shimbun October 5, 2008

Translation by Arudou Debito

From the Introduction by David McNeill:

Will Japan ever overcome its distrust of foreigners? This question has been forcefully posed in various guises, most notably perhaps by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights Doudou Diene. In 2005 he concluded after a nine-day investigation in Japan that the authorities were not doing enough to tackle what he called Japan’s “deep and profound racism” and xenophobia, particularly against its former colonial subjects. The report appeared to vindicate the work of campaigners such as naturalized Japanese Arudou Debito, who argue that Japan needs, among other things, an anti-discrimination law.

“Now, unusually perhaps for a major national newspaper, the Asahi Shimbun has waded into the debate with a major article on the issue. Titled, “Opening the nation: Time to make choices,” the article recounts tales of discrimination by long-term foreign residents before looking at how Japan compares to other nations, including perhaps its nearest equivalent, South Korea. A lively illustration helps makes the point that foreigners sometimes feel like second-class citizens. The Asahi concludes that the dearth of laws here protecting the livelihoods or rights of non-Japanese makes the country somewhat unique. “In other countriesthere is almost no example of foreigners being shut out like this.” Interestingly, the Asahi did not translate the article for its foreign edition…”

http://www.japanfocus.org/_The_Asahi_Shimbun-Japan_s_Entrenched_Discrimination_Toward_Foreigners

http://www.debito.org/?p=1971

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2) Govt websites don’t include NJ residents in their tallies of “local population”

Mark in Yayoi pointed out a singular thing to me the other night — that the Tokyo Nerima-ku website lists its population in various subsections. Then puts at the top that “foreigners are not included”.

We already saw in yesterday’s blog entry that NJ workers are not included in unemployment statistics. Now why aren’t NJ taxpayers also included as part of the “general population”?

So did a google search and found that other government websites do the same thing!

Hard to complain about “Japanese Only” signs on businesses when even the GOJ excludes foreigners from official statistics. And it’s also harder to believe the GOJ’s claim to the UN that it has taken “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination”. How about measures such as counting foreigners as taxpayers and members of the population? Stunning.

http://www.debito.org/?p=1972

And of course, don’t forget this, from Debito.org too

Population rises 1st time in 3 years
The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug 1, 2008

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20080801TDY01306.htm

The nation’s population grew for the first time in three years to 127,066,178 in the year to March 31, up 12,707 from a year earlier, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said Thursday.

The figure was based on resident registrations at municipal government offices and does not include foreign residents…
http://www.debito.org/?p=1860

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3) AP: Economic downturn already resulting in NJ layoffs in Japan, but NJ not counted in unemployment figures

AP: “Brazilian Stenio Sameshima came to Japan last year with plans to make a bundle of money at the country’s humming auto factories. Instead, he’s spending a lot of time in line at employment agencies.

“The 28-year-old is one of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of foreigners who are among the first laborers in Japan to lose their jobs as the global financial crisis eats into demand for cars, trucks and motorcycles, government officials say.

“The layoffs are also the first evidence that the mushrooming economic crisis in the United States and elsewhere is shaking the Japanese labor market, presaging further trouble if the downturn persists or deepens

“The government does not track the number of jobless foreigners, but local officials, workers and employment agencies tell of hundreds of workers like Sameshima let go by companies linked to topflight producers – Toyota, Honda, Yamaha

“Yet, working conditions are precarious. Foreigners are often hired through temporary employment agencies, so they can be easily fired. They live in company housing, so they lose their apartments when they lose their jobs. There hasn’t been a marked increase in homelessness, but anecdotes of foreigners having to move in with friends or relatives abound”

The unemployment rate is a very political thing in Japan, as the GOJ likes to boast worldwide how (artificially) low unemployment is. I guess it’s clear now that bringing in NJ labor has an extra benefit not only are they cheap, you don’t count them if they lose their jobs!
http://www.debito.org/?p=1959

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4) SR on Shounan Shinkin Bank in Chigasaki, refuses bank accounts to NJ who can’t read and speak Japanese

Language ability is being increasingly used by more types of businesses nationwide as a means to refuse NJ service. As we saw last Newsletter, insurance agencies (such as AXA Direct Insurance, http://www.debito.org/?p=1951) are rejecting NJ for not enough language (however determined). Now consider Shounan Shinkin Bank in Chigasaki, near Tokyo, as reported by SR:

“We had asked her to open a bank account in Shounan Shinkin Bank where we all have our accounts; the school account as well as the employees’ accounts.

She had been there 2 times with her parents in law (both Japanese) but Shounan Bank and their dep. manager had rejected her request and DID NOT open her bank account! The reason is “she doesn’t speak Japanese and she can’t read it” )…

We contacted the Financial Service Agency to see what they think, and they have told us it is totally absurd but there is nothing they can do! Then, we contacted the Shounan Shinkin honten and they confirmed their rule. After a short exchange of opinions and requests between the main office and my Japanese staff, they promised to apologise and open our teacher’s account. She won’t though!

When I went to the bank to close down my accounts, I had a long chat with the department manager. I asked him to show me the written form of their rule but they didn’t have it, or wouldn’t show it…
http://www.debito.org/?p=1978

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5) MX on “Gaijin” harassment in Tokyo elementary school

Here’s a letter from a father who felt the diversity-stripping effects of the word “gaijin” firsthand, when his Japanese daughter first entered a Tokyo grade school:

“My daughter XXXXXX is quite excited to be an ichi nen sei next year and was looking forward to [her first visit to grade school], but it turned out to be a bit of a nightmare.

“In one of the classes they were visiting, a boy pointed at XXXXXX and shouted “Gaijin da! Gaijin ga iru!” The teacher went on “teaching” as if nothing was happening, while the shouts grew louder and soon the entire class was pointing and staring at poor XXXXXX, who was in complete shock. Ultimately, my wife had no choice but to leave the classroom and try to console XXXXXX.

“I can’t say this came as a complete surprise, as XXXXXX does indeed look quite “European,” but it was depressing that the teacher saw no reason to intervene in some way to make the experience less mortifying for my daughter. If this had occurred on the street it would have been bad enough, but it is even more disheartening that it happened at a school, a place that should be at the forefront of efforts to curb stupid racial discrimination…”
http://www.debito.org/?p=1970

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All for now. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 31, 2008 ENDS

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