DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 16, 2009

mytest

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. It’s been a month (happy new year!), so here comes a fat one:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 16, 2009
Table of Contents:

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BAD SCIENCE
1) Gregory Clark argues in Japan Times that “Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people”
2) Japan Times Zeit Gist followup on Dec’s Otaru Onsen lawsuit analysis
3) Sankei: A manual to help NJ “illegal overstays” evade police
4) Kyodo: Special unemployment office being studied, only for “NJ workers with PR”
5) AP/Guardian on Japan’s steepest population fall yet, excludes NJ from tally
6) Kyodo: NJ to be registered as family members (residents?) by 2012
7) AFP and Yomiuri: How to get around J border fingerprinting: Tape!
8 ) Tokyo High Court overrules lower court regarding murder of Lucie Blackman:
Obara Joji now guilty of “dismemberment and abandonment of a body”

BAD BUSINESS
9) German documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES preview, with Debito interview
10) Japan Times on NJ workers: No money for food or return flight
11) Japan Times on future J housing markets, tax regimes, and why J houses are built so crappily

MULTICULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS
12) Excellent Japan Times roundup on debate on J Nationality Law and proposed dual citizenship
13) Another excellent JT article on dual nationality and the conflicts within
14) Japan Times on international trends towards allowing citizens to become multinational
15) Economist on Japanese immigration and conservatism giving way
16) All registered NJ will in fact now get the 12,000 “economic stimulus” bribe
17) Japan Times Zeit Gist on Chinese/Japanese bilingual education in Japan

HOLIDAY TANGENTS
18 ) Xmas List: Ten things I think Japan does best
19) Retrospective: 10 things that made me think in 2008
20) Humor: Cracked Mag Online on unappetizing restaurants
21) Humor: Robin Williams stand-up comedy on Obama’s election
22) Humor: “Beware of the Doghouse”: For you men with thoughtless holiday gifts
23) History tangent: Japan Times FYI on Hokkaido development

… and finally…
24) Interview with Debito on TkyoSam’s Vlog: Shizzle!

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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org Daily Blog updates at http://www.debito.org
Freely Forwardable

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BAD SCIENCE

1) Gregory Clark argues in Japan Times that “Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people”

Y’know, life is never boring. Here’s yet another piece about the Otaru Onsens Case that came out in yesterday’s Japan Times. This time from that person with a very questionable record of dealing with the facts, Gregory Clark.

Clark provides no surprises as he rides his “bathhouse fanatics” hobby horse once again, and gets (as he has since 1999) the same old facts wrong. Actually, he gets even more facts wrong this time: Despite calling himself “closely involved” in the case, he gets the very name of the exclusionary onsen wrong. He even forgets once again (after repeated past public corrections that were even printed in the Japan Times) that there was more than one plaintiff in the successful lawsuit.

The rest is self-hating anti-gaijin invective with errors and illogic galore. If the Japan Times isn’t bothering with fact checks anymore, they should just put this bigoted old fool out to pasture. Clark is not worth the trouble to print or debate with anymore.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2128

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2) Japan Times Zeit Gist followup on Dec’s Otaru Onsen lawsuit analysis

Last month the Japan Times put a cat amongst the pigeons last December with a Zeit Gist column about the Otaru Onsens Case, decrying the court ruling against racial discrimination as undermining Japanese society.

It caused quite a stir, according to my editor, with most of the comments coming in critical of the thesis. Some of the responses were worth a reprint as a follow-up column, and that came out last week. Have a read. And yes, I briefly responded too (although only on this site as a comment), which I paste at the very bottom. Choice excerpt from the published rebuttal:

“De Vries’ primary objection to the Arudou judgment is that “the case was fought and won on the issue of racial discrimination when the policy being employed by the Yunohana onsen could more accurately be described as the racial application of ‘group accountability.’ “

“Racial application of group accountability” sounds so much nicer than boring old “racial discrimination,” doesn’t it? The question is whether there really is any difference between the two. Sadly, De Vries offers no logical reasons why we should see his preferred version of these two (identical) concepts as being anything other than a new name for the same old discredited idea. To deny access to public facilities to an innocent individual because of the color of their skin is simply wrong, regardless of who is doing it or what their motives are.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=2122

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3) Sankei: manual to help NJ “illegal overstays” evade police

Mark in Yayoi translates yet another inflammatory article from the Sankei Shinbun, warning police that even overfriendly foreigners may be suspicious, thanks to some mail-in underground manual on how to evade police ID Checkpoints:

“We’ll teach you how to get away when the police stop you on the street!” This is the catch copy for a manual that is now circulating, instructing illegal aliens on how to escape from police questioning. Supposedly it was sold through newspapers and free magazines aimed at Chinese and Koreans in Japan. Organized Crime Bureau No. 1 of the National Police Agency has obtained this manual, and is sending warnings to each police station. The police are strengthening their vigilance as these newspapers, carrying illegal advertisements, are becoming breeding grounds for crime [hanzai no onshou]

“Here is another interesting technique. File a ‘lost item report’ at all the police boxes in the area. Then, on the same day, go to one of them and get the report erased, saying that ‘the person who found my wallet got in touch with me’. In the evening, when you pass that police box, greet them [aisatsu] yourself and say ‘my wallet has been returned’. By saying hello to them three times a day, they’ll think of you as one of the area’s ‘polite foreigners [reigi tadashii gaikokujin da na]’, and you’ll be able to walk by without fear.”

The Bureau has circulated an internal memo to police stations warning that illegal aliens are using these methods to escape detection, and have advised the police to take care in questioning people [shokumu shitsumon jou no chuui o yobikaketa]. There is no applicable law, however, making sale of this manual a crime.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2126

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4) Kyodo: Special unemployment office being studied for NJ workers with PR

Here’s some very mixed news. The GOJ will study how to offer help unemployed NJ to make sure inter alia their kids stay in school. Thanks, but then it limits the scope to Permanent Residents. Probably a lot more of the NJ getting fired are factory workers here on visas (Trainee, Researcher, etc) that give the employer the means to pay them poorly and fire them at will already. So why not help them? Oh, they and their kids don’t count the same, I guess. Considering how hard and arbitrary it can be to get PR in the first place, this is hardly fair. Expand the study group to help anyone with a valid visa.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2124

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5) AP/Guardian on Japan’s steepest population fall yet, excludes NJ from tally

Here’s a bit of a sloppy article from the AP that the Guardian republished without much of a fact-checking (don’t understand the relevance of the throwaway sentence at the end about J fathers and paternity). Worse yet, it seems the AP has just accepted the GOJ’s assessment of “population” as “births minus deaths” without analysis. Meaning the population is just denoted as Japanese citizens (unless you include of course babies born to NJ-NJ couples, but they don’t get juuminhyou anyway and aren’t included in local govt. tallies of population either).

Er, how about including net inflows of NJ from overseas (which have been positive for more than four decades)? Or of naturalized citizens, which the Yomiuri reported some months ago contributed to an actual rise in population? Sloppy, unreflective, and inaccurate assessments of the taxpayer base.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2117

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6) Kyodo: NJ to be registered as family members (residents?) by 2012

Good news if this actually comes to fruition: The ludicrous system of registering NJ separately from J in residency certificates (juuminhyou) may be coming to an end. According a Kyodo article (that is too deficient in detail — Japan Times, do another article in depth, please!), we’ll start seeing NJ registered with their families in three years. And hopefully as real, bonafide residents too (even though this is still not clear thanks to Kyodo blurbing). At least we’ll see the end of the ridiculous gaikokujin touroku zumi shoumeisho and the invisible NJ husbands and wives.

More on why the current registry situation is problematic here, including not being included in official local government tallies of population.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2101

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7) AFP and Yomiuri: How to get around J border fingerprinting: tape!

Here’s an update about that old fingerprinting at the border thingie “to prevent terrorism, infectious diseases, and foreign crime”. Here’s one way how you get around it: special tape on your fingers! Two articles on this below.

Also, just so that people are aware that your fingerprints are NOT cross-checked immediately within the database: I have a friend who always uses different fingers when he comes back into Japan (index fingers one time, middle fingers the next, alternating; Immigration can’t see), and he has NEVER been snagged (on the spot or later) for having different fingerprints from one time to the next. Try it yourself and see. Anyway, if people are getting caught, it’s for passports, not fingerprints.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2115

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8 ) Tokyo High Court overrules lower court regarding murder of Lucie Blackman:
Obara Joji now guilty of “dismemberment and abandonment of a body”

Serial rapist and sexual predator Obara Joji on December 16 had his “innocent on the grounds of lack of evidence” lower court decision overturned by the Tokyo High Court, with Lucie Blackman’s rape and murder now added to his long list of crimes against women. A hair was split between actual murder and just doing nasty things to her corpse, but for people outraged about the rather odd consideration of evidence in this case (which I in the past have indicated might have something to do with a J crime against a NJ, as opposed to the opposite), this is a victory of sorts. Given that Obara got away with a heckuva lot before he was finally nailed (including some pretty hapless police investigation), I wonder if the outcome of his cases will be much of a deterrent to other sociopathic predators out there. Anyway, this verdict is better than upholding the previous one, of course. Two articles at:

http://www.debito.org/?p=2098

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BAD BUSINESS

9) German documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES preview, with Debito interview

SOUR STRAWBERRIES, a German-Japanese documentary about Japan’s labor migration and human rights, came out in Germany in September. I’m thrilled to report that segments they filmed of me exposing Kabukichou JAPANESE ONLY signs (and in the full movie, the oddities of one of the exclusionary business owners) made the coming-attractions reel. You can see it at:

http://www.debito.org/?p=2108

The movie will be coming to Japan in March, more later on Debito.org.

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10) Japan Times on NJ workers: No money for food or return flight

Japan Times: With the global economic downturn, many Japanese workers face a not very Merry Christmas or Happy New Year as they lose their jobs or see wages or hours cut.

But the bad economy is hitting the country’s foreign workers particularly hard, with nongovernmental organization volunteers warning that many who have been laid off face not only losing their homes and access to education in their mother tongue, but also that emergency food rations are now being distributed to the most desperate cases.

“Of the nearly 300 people who attend my church, between 30 and 40 of them have already lost their jobs, and I expect more will soon be laid off as companies choose not to renew their contracts. Many of those who have lost their jobs have no place to live or get through the winter,” said Laelso Santos, pastor at a church in Karia, Aichi Prefecture, and the head of Maos Amigas, an NGO assisting foreign workers and their families.

“We’re currently distributing about 300 kg of food per month to foreigners nationwide who are out of work. I’m afraid the amount of food aid needed will increase as the number of out-of-work foreigners increases,” Santos said.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2118

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11) Japan Times on future J housing markets, tax regimes, and why J houses are built so crappily

Here’s another excellent article from Philip Brasor of the Japan Times, regarding future Japan housing markets and taxation laws (and why houses in Japan aren’t built to last, or be resaleable). Should cause a twinge or two in the homeowners out there, myself included.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2111

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MULTICULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS

12) Excellent Japan Times roundup on debate on J Nationality Law and proposed dual citizenship

Here’s an excellent Japan Times roundup of the debate which came out of nowhere last year regarding Japan’s loopy nationality laws, which were once based on what I would call a “culture of no”, as in rather arbitrary ways to disqualify people (as in babies not getting J citizenship if the J father didn’t recognize patrimony before birth).

A Supreme Court decision last year called that unconstitutional, and forced rare legislation from the bench to rectify that late in 2008. Now the scope of inclusivity has widened as Dietmember Kouno Taro (drawing on the shock of a former Japanese citizen getting a Nobel Prize, and a confused Japanese media trying to claim him as ours) advocates allowing Japanese to hold more than one citizenship. Bravo. About time.

The article below sets out the goalposts for this year regarding this proposal (and uses arguments that have appeared on Debito.org for years now). In a year when there will apparently be a record-number of candidates running in the general election (which MUST happen this year, despite PM Aso’s best efforts to keep leadership for himself), there is a good possibility it might come to pass, especially if the opposition DPJ party actually takes power.

2009 looks to be an interesting year indeed, as one more cornerstone of legal exclusionism in Japan looks set to crack.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2116

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13) Another excellent JT article on dual nationality and the conflicts within

Here’s another article from the toshiake excellent series in the Japan Times on Japan’s loopy nationality laws: This time talking about what some people who are the projects of J-NJ unions in Japan face in terms of legality and societal treatment. It raises the question we’ve been asking here on Debito.org for more than a decade now: Why do we have to force these people to give up part of themselves to be Japanese? What good does it do them, and how does it serve the interests of the State to put people through this identity ordeal? Enough already. Allow dual nationality and be sensible. You’ll get more Nobel Prizes. Choice excerpt:

“The number of international marriages in Japan has steadily increased over the years, peaking in 2006 at 44,701, accounting for 6.5 percent of all marriages that year according to health ministry statistics. The number of children born with multiple nationalities is believed to have been increasing accordingly, with unofficial government estimates predicting that there were 530,000 as of 2006.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=2123

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14) Japan Times on international trends towards allowing citizens to become multinational

Excerpt: As of 2000, around 90 countries and territories permitted dual citizenship either fully or with exceptional permission, according to the “Backgrounder,” published by the Center for Immigration Studies in the United States, and “Citizenship Laws of the World” by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Since the reports came out, several countries have lifted bans on dual nationality. As a consequence, there are more than 90 countries backing dual nationality by default today.

“The trend is dramatic and nearly unidirectional. A clear majority of countries now accepts dual citizenship,” said Peter Spiro, an expert on multi nationality issues at Temple University Beasley School of Law. “Plural citizenship has quietly become a defining feature of globalization.”

The change in jus sanguinis countries first grew prominent in European countries, followed by some South American and Asian states, largely as a result of economic globalization and the expansion in people’s mobility over the past few decades.

Europe’s general acceptance of dual nationality is stated in the 1997 European Convention on Nationality, which stipulates that while member states can define their own citizens, they must at least allow children of international marriages and immigrants to hold dual nationality.

This was a major shift from traditional attitudes in the region, stated in a 1963 convention that supported the single nationality principle.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2125

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15) Economist on Japanese immigration and conservatism giving way

Here’s another roundup, this time from The Economist on how conservatives just don’t have the answers regarding Japan’s future anymore (with their wan and waning hope that immigration can somehow be avoided). Good also that this article is coming from The Economist, as it has over the past eighteen months done mediocre stuff on Japan’s future demographics without mentioning immigration at all. And when it later mentioned NJ labor in follow-up writings, it merely inserted one token sentence reflecting the Japan conservatives’ viewpoint. It seems even the conservatism within my favorite newsmagazine is also giving ground. Bravo.

Excerpt: “The answer is self-evident, but conservatives rarely debate it. Their notion of a strong Japan — i.e, a populous, vibrant country — is feasible only with many more immigrants than the current 2.2m, or just 1.7% of the population. (This includes 400,000 second- or third-generation Koreans who have chosen to keep Korean nationality but who are Japanese in nearly every respect.) The number of immigrants has grown by half in the past decade, but the proportion is still well below any other big rich country. Further, immigrants enter only as short-term residents; permanent residency is normally granted only after ten years of best behaviour…

“For the first time, however, an 80-strong group of economically liberal politicians in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), led by Hidenao Nakagawa, a former LDP secretary-general, is promoting a bold immigration policy. It calls for the number of foreigners to rise to 10m over the next half century, and for many of these immigrants to become naturalised Japanese. It wants the number of foreign students in Japan, currently 132,000, to rise to 1m. And it calls for whole families to be admitted, not just foreign workers as often at present.

“The plan’s author, Hidenori Sakanaka, a former Tokyo immigration chief and now head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, envisages a multicultural Japan in which, he says, reverence for the imperial family is an option rather than a defining trait of Japaneseness. It’s a fine proposal, but not very likely to fly in the current political climate, especially at a time when the opposition Democratic Party of Japan is fretting about the impact of immigration on pay for Japanese workers.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=2120

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16) All registered NJ will in fact now get the 12,000 “economic stimulus” bribe

After dallying with thoughts of excluding NJ taxpayers, then allowing only those NJ with Permanent Residency and Japanese spouses, the GOJ has just announced that all registered NJ will get the 12,000 yen-plus economic stimulus bribe. Seasons Greetings.

This is probably the first time NJ have ever been treated equally positively with citizens (save for, perhaps, access to Hello Work unemployment agency) with a voter stimulus package. See, it pays to complain.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2104

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17) Japan Times Zeit Gist on Chinese/Japanese bilingual education in Japan

A rupo in the Japan Times Community Page from a member of the Chinese Diaspora in Japan, on the Chinese Diaspora in Japan. And how some are being educated to believe that they are bicultural, bilingual, and binational. Good.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2110

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HOLIDAY TANGENTS:

18) Xmas List: Ten things Japan does best

Here’s something I posted on Christmas Day as a present to readers: The top ten things I think Japan does better than just about everyone else.

I include Toilet Culture, Calligraphy Goods, Packaging, Anime, Public Transportation, and several others I’m not going to list up here ‘cos I think you might enjoy reading the essay straight through (yes, I’ve put in a couple of rather surprising topics).

This is an antidote to those people convinced I don’t like Japan.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2099

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19) Retrospective: 10 things that made me think in 2008

I opened 2009 with my annual essay noting ten things that caused me to think quite a bit last year. Some things I partook in (books and media and whatnot) might also be interesting for you to delve into as well. For what they’re worth, and in no particular order: Iijima Ai’s death, 2008 Cycletrek, FRANCA, Toyoko G8 Summit, California Trip 2008, ENRON and SICKO movies, two Francis Wheen books, my Japan Times column, Ken Burns THE WAR, and HANDBOOK for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2114

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20) Humor: Cracked Mag Online on unappetizing restaurants

More humor for a national holiday: Some restaurants (according to Cracked Magazine, which I thought was a poor second cousin to Mad Magazine, until I started reading the cutting online version) that defeat their purpose by offering food in very unappetizing ways.

Now I don’t believe for a second that there is a place in Roppongi that allows you to diddle your meal before you eat it (in fact, I found this Cracked site due to a trackback to Debito.org exposing the source as the deep-sixed Mainichi Waiwai). But it’s still a good read, and I love the (what seems to be verified) idea of airborne meals even if it’s a hoax.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2107

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21) Humor: Robin Williams stand-up comedy on Obama’s election

More festivities for the end of days. Here’s a very funny stand-up piece by Robin Williams (introduced by an oddly wheelchair-bound former Minister of Silly Walks) regarding Obama’s election and the outgoing Bush Administration. Courtesy again of Dave Spector. Enjoy.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2106

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22) Humor: “Beware of the Doghouse”: For you men with thoughtless holiday gifts

A festive humor entry, particularly for hetero men readers out there: A link to the “Beware of the Doghouse” website, something well worth looking at because it’s a smart, funny, and well-produced five-minute mini-movie about men who don’t think deeply enough about what sorts of gifts to give their wife/female partner. See if you can find out what company created it…

http://www.debito.org/?p=2103

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23) History tangent: Japan Times FYI on Hokkaido development

A nice concise history of Hokkaido from the Japan Times. Fills in quite a few blanks about how and why we up in Japan’s Great White North got here in the first place.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2093

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… and finally…

24) Interview with Debito on TkyoSam’s Vlog: Shizzle!

Recently I sat down with Sam (a prolific vlogger, or video blogger), who turned his passport-sized camera on me for a bit of the young lingo and beer and chicken basket. What you don’t see is how afterwards we repaired with a group of friends for a lot more beers and some fascinating conversation with a drunk that Sam handled admirably. Sam grew up on manga and anime, and talks like those characters fluently (which is perfect for reducing any other pop-culture-immersed J-drunk into titters and tears). Yoyoyo, word! Feel the generation gap of the Bubble-Era-Older-Hand meets J-Pop Awsum Dude. Shizzle! And it’s a fun interview too.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2119

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That’s quite enough for one Newsletter. Thanks for reading!

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, Daily Blog updates at http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 16, 2009 ENDS

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