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  • Compare: Good survey of “non-Japanese citizens in Sapporo” by City

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on November 18th, 2008

    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 Blog.  I mentioned yesterday about Careercross’s lousy survey of NJ employers, with loaded and leading questions galore about how NJ bosses apparently view their J subordinates.  Contrast it with this thorough, culturally-sensitive survey (down to the phrasing of the questions) put out by the Sapporo City Government.  Courtesy of Olaf, who got surveyed (I didn’t, of course.)

    They do these once or twice a decade; their last one was in 2001, and they completely rewrote the 2008 version after a lot of groundwork from other city offices and help from their NJ staff, the International Relations Department told me last month.

    Now this is how you do a survey.  I’ve seen a lot of crappy ones over the years.  (Government agencies seem to be incredibly inept at good social science.  Consider this periodic survey from even the PM Cabinet regarding human rights, where they offer rights for other humans (NJ) as optional, not required!  Keeps incurring the wrath of the United Nations.)  Not Sapporo.  Other cities should take note of this and use it as a template.  So should Careercross.

    Survey in English (cover plus 19 pages), then Survey in Japanese (cover plus 19 pages):

    Well done!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    11 Responses to “Compare: Good survey of “non-Japanese citizens in Sapporo” by City”

    1. MD Says:

      I like how all the kanjis have the hiragana reading. Thoughtful.

    2. HO Says:

      No one is free from blindness of his own. Why don’t we suppose we were Zainichi Koreans who live in Japan for generations and read through the questionnaire? Isn’t it irritating?

      For example,

      Q.39 This question is for those who have children. How good is your child’s Japanese?
      1. Almost no problems, including at school
      2. Almost no problems in daily life, but finds it difficult to understand lessons in Japanese at school
      3. Able to communicate with Japanese friends but sometimes has difficulty
      4. Poor

      Ask the same question to African Americans in the US, changing “Japanese” to “English”. I would expect a strong protest by them.

      The questionnaire is written from Westerners’ viewpoint who are new to the City. It is not so culturally-sensitive as it claims.

    3. Tod Says:

      Certainly a vast improvement over the Careercross test in a number of ways. However, in the interest of constructive criticism, there are two issues that I think could be improved:

      1) The English version strips the diacritics from long vowels making it difficult to interpret. That should be an easy fix.

      2) The Japanese version has furigana for all of the kanji. It reads like it was written for a child. While I fully recognize that the survey is written for NJ, no assumptions between citizenship and linguistic ability should be made.

      Of course you can not please everyone, but these are my thoughts.

    4. adamw Says:

      one question
      on the one about childrens language proficiency why isnt there “no language problems at school” as an option??
      why do they assume that because a child has at least one non japanese parent then he cant speak japanese??

    5. Drew Says:

      Nice assumption that residents from Philippines will be women, though…

    6. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      HO, I think the survey is clearly meant for people who aren’t culturally or linguistically Japanese. The Zainichi Koreans are classified as “foreign” only because the Japanese government chooses to classify them that way, or because they themselves choose not to be Japanese. The English-speaking world (and indeed much of the world in general) is filled with such descendants of recent immigrants, and such people are citizens like everyone else.

      If the government is being insensitive to anyone, it has only its superiors in Tokyo to blame.

      Tod, I agree on the furigana, but must admit that the problem of considering adult language learners to be like children is hardly unique to Japan. Still, it doesn’t hurt to have the furigana on, and I’ll take the embarrassment of reading something that looks like it’s for kids if it means others can find the words in therir dictionaries more easily. (Also, until WWII, newspapers routinely included furigana on almost every word. Wouldn’t mind seeing this come back, as it would help children’s literacy quite a bit.)

      The problem of not indicating the long vowels is, I think, a simple matter of the typist not being able to enter them. This is something that will solve itself in the next decade or so as computers become more sophisticated. A decade ago, vowels with macrons weren’t even included in most fonts; now they are, and on Macs you can type them on the US Extended keyboard (for example) with “option-A” plus the letter.

      My only tiny quibble would be how they don’t leave much of a way to answer for people who don’t learn Japanese, with the reason being that their current ability is already sufficient. Maybe they want us to always be shooting for self-improvement!

    7. mark urray Says:

      It is a bit surprising–or maybe not–to see that all the questions dealing with language are topped by the choice of having “ALMOST no difficulty.” The people who fashioned this questionaire cannot conceive that anybody without Japanese nationality can have simply “NO difficulty” in speaking, reading, or writing Japanese. Or, for that matter “other languages.” They seem take for granted that every human was somehow born with one native language that s/he masters perfectly (a notion evidently not modeled on Prime Minister Aso’s Japanese reading ability, ha!), and all others are a matter of greater or lesser “difficulty.”

    8. David Says:

      Mark, Adam and HO,

      I think that you are making more of an issue about the wording of the language questions than is warranted. Personally, I would word it in the way it was worded in the survey. I am a bit pedantic at times and even though I am a native English speaker I would be lying if I said I had “NO difficulty” with English, particularly when I was at school. The assumption could be that like Aso san, everyone has problems with languages at some time.

      – Quite. Oddly enough, HO himself made less of an issue of Careercross’s biased (by their own admission) survey. In fact, he had no issue with it. In his words, “I don’t see anything wrong with the questionnaire.” Couldn’t be because I liked one but not the other, now, could it? Naw. :)

    9. ralph Says:

      Do not fill in these obtrusive “surveys”. No possible good to you can come of replying to such questions. They are totally tatemae. MEANINGLESS. Why cooperate with your enemies at the shiyakusho anyway? Believe me, they do not want to help you! Nothing will change because, that is the last thing they wish to do.

    10. adamw Says:

      david,

      do you really believe the nonsense you are writing??

      do you think they are going to send a survey to parents of “pure ” japanese asking if their kids have difficulties at school with japanese?

      this survey goes out to nj who are married to japanese as well as nj couples.
      its a completely offensive assumption that japanese school kids have to have japanese language problems because one of their parents in nj.
      and its just furthering the offensive prejudice of mixed race children not being japanese in some way.

      (of course th assumption that kids of nj couples have to have language problems is also unacceptable)

    11. Steve Says:

      Hi Debito :)

      I happened to read about the Urayasu survey,
      http://www.debito.org/?p=6046#comments
      and you mentioned this Sapporo survey was good,
      so I came to this thread to read the Sapporo survey.
      The survey seems to be missing above, so I googled it.

      Just in case anyone is interested, here are the links:
      http://www.city.sapporo.jp/kokusai/news/file/en.pdf
      http://www.city.sapporo.jp/kokusai/news/survey.html

      And here is a summary of the results of that survey:
      http://www.city.sapporo.jp/kokusai/news/file/summary.pdf

      And here is the full report of the results of that survey:
      http://www.city.sapporo.jp/kokusai/news/file/report_all.pdf
      From page 117 to page 124 you can read people’s free answers. :)

      – Thanks very much for this!

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