DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 25, 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
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 25, 2008
Table of Contents:
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GOOD NEWS
1) LDP’s Kouno Taro submits J dual nationality proposal to Diet
… and a majority of respondents to a Debito.org survey want it to go even further
2) Asahi NP Op-Ed urges J to make education compulsory for NJ children too
3) Japan Times update on granting children of mixed J/NJ parentage citizenship
4) FYI: People working for American companies in Japan are covered by US Civil Rights Law

BAD SCIENCE, BETTER SCIENCE
5) Japan Times: PM Aso “stimulus plan” bribe taking flak, still unclear if NJ get handout
6) Ibaraki Pref Police put up new and improved public posters portraying NJ as coastal invaders
7) One year after Japan reinstitutes fingerprinting for NJ, a quick retrospective
8) Kyodo: SDF’s Tomogami revisionist history shows cosiness between J military and right-wing nationalists
9) Japan Times on GOJ’s new efforts to boost tourism to 20 million per annum
10) GOJ Survey says “53% fear public safety problem from increased NJ tourists, want policy measures”
11) Negative survey of NJ employers by J headhunting company “Careercross” to make “employers see their own bias”
12) Compare: Good survey of “non-Japanese citizens in Sapporo” by Sapporo City
13) Thoughtful essay in the Yomiuri on the word “Gaijin” by Mike Guest

BTW…
14) Speaking in Iwate next weekend: four speeches in E and J

… and finally…
15) Next Japan Times column December 2: Stray Thoughts on Obama’s Election
and how the Bush Admin has spoiled it for activists here in Japan

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

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GOOD NEWS
1) LDP’s Kouno Taro submits J dual nationality proposal to Diet

LDP panel mulls easing law on dual citizenship
Mixed couples’ kids could have two nationalities
By MINORU MATSUTANI Staff writer
The Japan Times: Friday, Nov. 14, 2008

Liberal Democratic Party member Taro Kono said Thursday he has submitted a proposal to an LDP panel he heads calling for the Nationality Law to be revised to allow offspring of mixed couples, one of whom being Japanese, to have more than one nationality

While the proposal allows for multiple nationalities, the government will not let Japanese hold nationalities of countries or regions that Japan does not recognize as nations, including North Korea.

Also under the proposal, foreigners would be able to obtain Japanese citizenship without giving up their original one. But the proposal does not say whether those who had had multiple nationalities and gave up one or more to retain their Japanese citizenship can regain other nationalities.

The proposal would also affect babies born in countries that grant nationality to those born there regardless of their parents’ nationalities, including the United States, Brazil and Australia.

=================

Thanks to Kouno Taro, LDP Dietmember, for submitting a proposal to the Diet, after a good think about dual nationality following the paradoxes of Japanese-born American citizens winning Nobel Prizes. Let’s hope the proposal goes somewhere. It’s about time the unnecessary identity sacrifices of enforced mononationality are resolved. There is no need in this day and age to force multicultural people to legally deny themselves the existence of international roots.
http://www.debito.org/?p=2008

Visit his website. He’s certainly taking a lot of nasty flak from anonymous Net xenophobes for this…
http://www.taro.org

… and a majority of respondents to a Debito.org survey want his proposal to go even further

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DEBITO.ORG POLL (NB: Hardly scientific, but anyway…)
LDP Dietmember Kouno Taro has proposed to the Diet that Japan allow Dual Nationality. Do you agree?

1) Should go farther. Anybody, including people who naturalize into Japan, even Zainichi with North Korean roots, should qualify for dual. (58%, 105 Votes)
2) Actually, I think Kouno Taro’s proposal with caveats (see blog entry) has it about right. (28%, 50 Votes)
3) No, dual nationality is a bad idea. Keep things as they are. (10%, 18 Votes)
4) Indifferent, don’t know, can’t say etc. (4%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 180, as of this sending
=================

Vote if you want yourself on any debito.org blog page

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2) Asahi NP Op-Ed urges J to make education compulsory for NJ children too

Asahi: So it seems obvious that a new clause must be added to the Fundamental Law of Education, for example, to ensure such children receive the education that is rightfully theirs.

If children of foreign nationality are legally obliged to receive compulsory education, local governments would have to check to ensure they have been enrolled in school.

The authorities would of course let guardians decide whether to enroll the children in international schools or Japanese public schools, but either way, they would have to ensure the children were actually attending school.

A revised system like this would also improve awareness among foreign residents about their children’s right to an education.

The government must tackle this problem seriously and implement measures to promote enrollment of foreign children in public or other schools.

Such steps might include providing subsidies to international schools, producing and distributing free Japanese-language learning textbooks and assigning Japanese-language teachers to teach Japanese as a second language to children of foreign nationality.

The future of these children is at stake. I strongly urge the government to make elementary and junior high school education compulsory for children of foreign nationality, too.
http://www.debito.org/?p=2061

==============================
COMMENT: Good. Keep it up. The more columns like these keeping the issue alive, the better. Previous one earlier this year here:
http://www.debito.org/?p=1020

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3) Japan Times update on granting children of mixed J/NJ parentage citizenship

Japan Times: Many observers of the Nationality Law have welcomed the government’s proposed revision approved Tuesday by the Cabinet that will soon allow hundreds of children born out of wedlock to Japanese men and foreign women to obtain Japanese nationality if the father recognizes paternity even after birth…

The scheduled amendment is in line with the June 4 Supreme Court ruling that a provision of the law on the status of children born out of wedlock was unconstitutional.

Today, the law still reads that a child born out of wedlock between a Japanese father and a foreign mother can get Japanese nationality only if the father admits paternity during the mother’s pregnancy, or if the couple get married before the child turns 20, but not after birth.

Thus, children whose fathers acknowledge paternity after their birth are not granted Japanese nationality, which the top court declared a violation of equal rights.

The proposed revision stipulates that children born out of wedlock whose fathers recognize paternity, regardless of the timing of the acknowledgment, can obtain Japanese citizenship.
http://www.debito.org/?p=1991

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4) FYI: People working for American companies in Japan are covered by US Civil Rights Law

For the Americans (and anyone else) working in US multinational companies: The US Equal Employment Opportunities law applies even in Japan, and if you are being treated unfairly (and that includes being given contract employment while Japanese get regular employment), you can bring a charge under US law and call for US labor commission mediation even in Japan. Fact is, people working for American multinational companies have double labor rights/civil rights protections both American and Japanese. And apparently the American government links to the civil rights authorities of other countries/unions like Canada and the EU. More on the USG EEOC site.

Further, HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS AND IMMIGRANTS TO JAPAN has been helping people define their terms and anchor their arguments. Happy to hear.

FYI: People working for American companies in Japan are covered by US Civil Rights Law

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BAD SCIENCE, BETTER SCIENCE
5) Japan Times: PM Aso “stimulus plan” bribe taking flak, also still unclear if NJ get handout

Japan Times: Criticism for a planned 2 trillion cash handout program, formally decided by the government led by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito on Wednesday, hasn’t ceased over the weekend, reviving the memory of the 1999 coupon program that cost 700 billion but had little benefit for the economy.

Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa, appearing on a TV news program Saturday, waved a 10,000 bill before the camera and argued that the government should not be scattering cash around among people with no strategic economic focus.

“The previous coupon handout program boosted the individual consumption portion of gross domestic product by only 0.1 percent. The Economic Planing Agency admitted that it had little economic effect,” Matsuzawa pointed out.

Dozens of governors and mayors similarly have called on the government to spend that amount of money, if ever it will, with a clear strategic focus.

“(The government ) will spend 2 trillion, which is equal to the budget of the Tottori Prefectural Government for five years. I cannot even visualize that amount of money,” Tottori Gov. Shinji Hirai said Thursday.

Under the program announced by Prime Minister Taro Aso, the government plans to distribute 12,000 to every citizen, plus an additional 8,000 for each child 18 or younger and elderly person 65 or older. Whether foreigners will be covered has not been decided yet.
http://www.debito.org/?p=2065

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COMMENT: A great suggestion from a friend was that if they really want to stimulate the economy effectively and equitably, how about dropping the Consumption Tax (at 5%) to zero for one full month?

That way, anyone who spends money will get a tax rebate. And it will definitely stimulate consumption, since we had that month’s tax holiday from “temporary gasoline taxes” in April, and drivers rushed to the pumps to take advantage.
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080501a2.html

A consumption tax holiday doesn’t involve high administration costs, registering people to get their rebate, or even separate consumers by nationality.

Is it so hard for people in government to come up with a wheeze as simple as this?

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6) Ibaraki Pref Police put up new and improved public posters portraying NJ as coastal invaders

The police and coast patrollers are out in force again in Ibaraki Prefecture, warning the public to be vigilant against “illegal entrants” (as in people who enter the country surreptitiously) and “illegal laborers”. Again, the title, “STOP THEM AT THE SHORES AND PROTECT”. Found on the wall at Tomobe Station in Mito, Ibaraki on Friday, October 24th, 2008.

Er, I dunno why Ibaraki Prefecture feels the need to do this. Again. It’s certainly not the prefecture with the longest coastline in Japan, nor does it have a huge number of NJ residents or entrants, compared to Tokyo, Gifu, Shizuoka, or Aichi (whose police have not used the same degree of “coastal invader” alarmism).

And you just gotta love the image of not only our subduing boys in blue armed with machine guns (I’m no expert in firepower, but that looks like an automatic weapon to me on his back), but also a military force in green at the bottom left disembarking from a transport like it’s D-Day.

This is, alas, not the first time Ibaraki Prefectural police have resorted to this rubric, or these kinds of posters. See last year’s version immediately following, although back then they were less armed and militarized. I guess the NJ invasion of Ibaraki Prefecture is proceeding apace. As always, your taxes at work. Including those of the NJ being portrayed.
http://www.debito.org/?p=2057

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7) One year after Japan reinstitutes fingerprinting for NJ, a quick retrospective

It’s already been a year since Japan reinstituted fingerprinting for most NJ on November 20, 2007. There are still concerns about its application, its efficacy, the sweetheart GOJ deal to quasi-American company Accenture to make these machines, the long lines at the border due to faulty machines, the lumping in of Permanent Residents with tourists, the official justifications in the name of preventing terrorism, infectious diseases, foreign crime, you name it.

Anyway, time for a brief retrospective:

Here’s an article from Maclean’s Magazine (Canada) from last March which I think puts it all pretty well. Also a letter from a friend who has a (Japanese) wife in the airline industry who gets caught in the NJ dragnet just because she doesn’t “look Japanese” enough for police in the airport.

The shockwaves and indignations were so palpable that people banded together to form FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association), a lobbying and interest group to represent the interests of the “Newcomer” immigrants to Japan.

There’s a whole heading on fingerprinting on this blog at
http://www.debito.org/?cat=33

but see two special issues of the DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER on the subject here
http://www.debito.org/?p=676
http://www.debito.org/?p=788

There’s also a special section on Debito.org for people to add their personal experiences with Immigration upon entering or returning to Japan, with 57 responses as of today. Any more?
http://www.debito.org/?p=2062

And I’m not the only one protesting, FYI:
Nov 20 NGO Public gathering: 1-year anniversary of the NJ fingerprinting program
http://www.debito.org/?p=2013

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8) Kyodo: SDF’s Tomogami revisionist history shows cosiness between J military and right-wing nationalists

Kyodo: Sacked air force chief Toshio Tamogami testified in parliament Tuesday over his controversial war essay but his unapologetic rhetoric only highlighted a large difference in perception with the government regarding Japan’s role in World War II.

His testimony also posed a question even among Self-Defense Forces officers about whether the 60-year-old former general was ever fit for the post of Air Self-Defense Force chief of staff and prompted politicians to have second thoughts about the effectiveness of their efforts to maintain civilian control of the defense forces

Revelations about Tamogami’s cozy links with a nationalist real estate businessman who organized the competition was also among topics taken up by the committee.

The essay contest was organized by hotel and condominium developer Apa Group and its head Toshio Motoya, a friend of Tamogami. Apa Group is also known for its support of hawkish former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

On top of that, an orchestrated submission of essays by ASDF personnel is also suspected.

Tamogami also denied in the parliamentary session that he received any inappropriate benefits from Motoya’s side and that he had played a role in the organized submission of essays.

But the ministry has found that in addition to Tamogami, 94 of the 235 essay submissions came from the ASDF.

Another senior official of the ministry questioned the fairness of the essay contest saying, “It must have been fixed.”
http://www.debito.org/?p=2004

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I was asked for my opinion earlier this month in the Comments section of my blog. In brief, this is how I answered:

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— Tamogami was forced to resign. Good. He did not capitulate. Fine with me (it is his opinion). But the media I’ve seen so far skirts the issue. It’s not a matter of whether what he said was appropriate for his position within the SDF. It is an issue about whether what he says is historically accurate. (It is not.) And until these historical issues are finally laid to rest (through, as UN Rapporteur Doudou Diene suggested, a history book of the region written and approved by scholars from all countries involved), this is just going to keep happening again and again. Exorcising the elephant in the room, i.e. the ghost of Japan’s wartime past (particularly as to whether it was a war of aggression or liberation), must be done sooner or later. It is still not being done and debunked, and that means the SDF person can just use “freedom of speech” as his cloaking device and compare Japan to the DPRK (as he has done) and just gain sympathy for the Rightists. There. Debito
========================

Unfortunately, I don’t see any diversion from this path even as the debate, as Kyodo reports above, goes to the Diet. The debate has gone into issues of civilian control (meaning, to freedom-of-speechers on both sides of the political spectrum, mind control), and Tamogami is setting himself up to become a martyr to the right wing. Again, the tack should also include, is what he saying historically accurate? Again, it is not.

The honest study of the history of any country is going to reveal things that a nation is ashamed of, and one must include that as part of the national narrative. The Tamogamis, Obuchis, Abes, and Asos are just going to have to live with that. And part of the process is bringing historical fact of Japan’s conquering, Imperialist past into the debate.

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9) Japan Times on GOJ’s new efforts to boost tourism to 20 million per annum

The Japan Times runs an interview with Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Yoshiaki Honpo, who says that Japan’s ailing regional economies can be revitalized by tapping the sightseeing potential of growing Asian countries. He recommends easing visa restrictions, since NJ tourists spend 5 to 15 times more than Japanese tourists.

However, how about easing restrictions at the hotels themselves? According to an attendee of one of his speeches in Nagano, he will “leave alone” those 27% of hotels surveyed who do not want NJ tourists. Odd that a member of the administrative branch would recommend the nonenforcement of laws governing hotels in Japan.

Honpo seems to think economic pressure will resolve all. Even though it hasn’t in other similar situations, such as apartment rentals, and leaving exclusionary (and, in this case, illegal) rules in place have caused spillover into other business sectors, copycatting because they can. Humph.
http://www.debito.org/?p=2003

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10) GOJ Survey says “53% fear public safety problem from increased NJ tourists, want policy measures”

We have an interesting little quickie article here in Japanese, describing how 53% of respondents to a government survey “are worried about public safety, and want some policy measures taken” with the proposed increase of NJ tourism. Nice of the GOJ to anticipate public fear and public need for security measures against NJ. Some more leading questions, please? Hey, the NJ are fair game in GOJ surveys, it seems. See what I mean at
http://www.debito.org/?p=2067
Not to mention what’s covered next:

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11) Negative survey of NJ employers by J headhunting company “Careercross” to make “employers see their own bias”

Here is an interesting survey by J headhunting company “Careercross”. One read through it and it’s evident the loaded questions (for NJ employers of Japanese) are angling to expose apparent negative predispositions that foreigners evidently have towards their Japanese subordinates. Even a response back from the company itself justifying the survey is indicative, as if it’s going to teach the foreign bosses a lesson about themselves:

=================================

date: Tue, Nov 11, 2008 at 1023 AM
subject: CareerCross survey

Thank you very much for contacting us on Friday and for taking part in our survey.

This survey is an important part in understanding the attitudes and perceptions of foreign employers as it applies to their Japanese hires. Actually the survey is, as you had pointed out, slightly on the negative side which we feel is important in getting straight answers about negative perceptions that a foreign boss may have. We do not think that a “fell good” survey would not bring out information of value.

Please not that it was myself and our Japanese staff, with the help of our foreign staff, that came up with these questions. We hope this survey will be useful for both employers to see their own bias as well as Japanese working at companies for a foreigner.

Thank you again for participating in our survey.
Best regards,
Masayuki Saito
Director COO
C.C.Consulting K.K.
Tel: 03-5728-1861 Fax: 03-5728-1862

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Put on your thinking caps, readers of Debito.org. What would you do if presented with a biased survey in order to use a J headhunting company? Read the full survey blogged here…
http://www.debito.org/?p=2007

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

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 (down to the phrasing of the questions) survey put out by the Sapporo City Government.

(They do these once or twice a decade; their last one was in 2001, and they completely rewrote this one in early 2008 after a lot of groundwork from other city offices and help from their NJ staff, they 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 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 their template.
http://www.debito.org/?p=2014

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13) Thoughtful essay in the Yomiuri on the word “Gaijin” by Mike Guest

Mike Guest: Why is it that even the less easily offended among us at certain times find the term “gaijin” (or even “gaikokujin”) awkward or irritating? I would like to offer a few linguistic answers to this question.

Words are never inherently rude or inappropriate in and of themselves but become marked as such through a failure to follow the norms of propriety. For example, it is perfectly acceptable to refer to Prof. Wilson as “Wilson” when simply discussing his theories with a colleague, or even when making a reference to him in a presentation where he is not present. But it would be very insulting to address him personally that way. Likewise, in the case of “gaijin” we should note if it is being used as a form of address or as a reference. One Japanese saying something like, “A lot of gaijin like this restaurant” to another can hardly be said to be pejorative (and in fact many non-Japanese too use “gaijin” in precisely this manneras it can be a very useful classifier), whereas addressing a non-Japanese as “Gaijin” very much violates the norms of forms of address and therefore marks it as rude or hostile.

We should also consider register. In official and formal situations, Japanese speakers use “gaikokujin” rather than “gaijin” for the same reason that they refer to “a person” not as “hito” but as “kata” and generally avoid using “kare” and “kanojo” (he and she). These words are not inherently impolite or pejorative but they do not meet the standards of distance required by a formal register of language. Using “gaijin” in such a situation would therefore mark it negatively…
http://www.debito.org/?p=2009

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BTW…
14) Speaking in Iwate next weekend: four speeches in E and J

Four speeches next weekend in Iwate. Do attend if you like. Speech with Japanese title is in Japanese. FYI, Debito

===================================
Fri Nov 28, 2008, Iwate University, Speech 2:45 -3:45PM, “Nihonjin to wa nan darou, Amerika-kei nihonjin kara mita kenkai”
also 6:20 to 7:50 PM, “What is Internationalization in 21st Century Japan?”

Sun Nov 30, 2008, Iwate JALT, CORRECTED TIME 1:30 TO 4:30 PM, “An Afternoon with Arudou Debito”,
Aiina, the Iwate prefectural public building near Morioka Station

Mon Dec 1, 2008, Iwate Prefectural University, 2:40-4:10PM, Kyoutsuu Kyougi Tou Classroom 101
“What is Internationalization in 21st Century Japan?”

===================================

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…and finally…

15) Next Japan Times column December 2: Stray Thoughts on Obama’s Election
and how the Bush Admin has spoiled it for activists here in Japan

Heads up! Get yourself a copy next week!

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That’s all for today. Thanks for reading, as always!

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 25, 2008 ENDS

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