DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 1, 2009

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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 FEBRUARY 1, 2009
Table of Contents:
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IRONIES
1) Outrage over Mie-ken teacher criminalizing students thru fingerprinting. Well, fancy that.
2) The Australian Magazine 1993 on Gregory Clark’s modus operandi in Japan
3) Tsukiji Fish Market reopens, the NJ blame game continues
4) BBS 2-Channel’s Nishimura sells off his golden goose
(and my upcoming JT column Feb 3 on 2-Channel and Japan’s Bully Culture)
5) IHT on Buraku Nonaka vs Barack Obama
6) Kyodo/JT: Death penalty obstructs “presumption of innocence” in Japanese justice
7) Irish Times on Jane v. NPA rape case (she lost, again)
8 ) Kirk Masden on NJ crime down for three years, yet not discussed in media.

NOT TAKING IT LYING DOWN
9) Kyodo: Brazilian workers protest layoffs at J companies
10) Wash Post on GOJ efforts to get Brazilian workers to stay
11) Google zaps Debito.org, later unzaps thanks to advice from cyberspace
12) Southland Times on how New Zealand deals with restaurant exclusions
13) Question on Welfare Assistance (seikatsu hogo) and privacy rights
14) UN News on upcoming Durban human rights summit and Gitmo

… and finally …
15) Documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES on Japan’s hidden NJ labor market
Japan Roadshow March 20 – April 1
Screenings in Tokyo, Tsukuba, Hikone, and Okayama confirmed
more being arranged in Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Sapporo

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

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IRONIES
1) Outrage over Mie-ken teacher criminalizing students thru fingerprinting. Well, fancy that.

I received word a couple of days ago from James and AS about a schoolteacher in Mie-ken who dealt with a suspected theft by taking everyone’s fingerprints, and threatening to report them to the police. He hoped the bluff would make the culprit would come forward, but instead there’s been outrage. How dare the teachers criminalize the students thusly?

Hm. Where was that outrage last November 2007, when most NJ were beginning to undergo the same procedure at the border, officially because they could be agents of infectious diseases, foreign crime, and visa overstays? How dare the GOJ and media criminalize NJ residents thusly?

I’m not saying what the teacher did was right. In fact, I agree that this bluff was inappropriate. It’s just that given the sudden outrage in the media over human rights, we definitely have a lack of “shoe on the other foot” -ism here from time to time.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2186

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2) The Australian Magazine 1993 on Gregory Clark’s modus operandi in Japan

At the start of this decade, I republished an article in the JALT PALE Journal (Spring 2001) regarding Gregory Clark, his business acumen regarding language teaching in Japan, and his motivations for being who he is in Japan.

Gregory Clark has recently called attention to himself with a bigoted Japan Times column, questioning our legitimacy to have or even demand equal rights in Japan. As people debate his qualifications and motives all over again, I think it would be helpful to reproduce the following article in a more searchable and public venue. Like the Debito.org blog.

I have heard claims that this article in The Australian was met with threat of lawsuit. Obviously that came to naught. Since The Australian has given me direct permission to reproduce this article in full, let me do so once again here. Choice excerpt:

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Greg Clark is the first of nine children sired by Sir Colin Clark, a famous economist and statistician who is credited with measuring and describing concepts in the thirties that are part of everyday economic jargon these days. While working with one of the centuries most influential economists, John Maynard Keynes, at Cambridge University, Colin Clark coined and refined such terms as gross national product, and primary, secondary, and tertiary industry…

Colin Clark was also the subject of a thesis just after the war by a young Japanese economist called Kiichi Miyazawa, who then rose through the bureaucratic and political ranks to become prime minister, a connection that hasn’t hurt his son since he arrived in Tokyo. Japan’s leading conservative daily, The Yomiuri Shimbun, also listed Clark as an academic contact of the country’s new Prime Minister, Morihiro Hosokawa…

…[T]he Emeritus Professor of Economics at the ANU, Heinz Arndt, who supervised Clark’s Ph.D at the ANU until his student quit “to my utter disgust” just before he finished, remembers the problem this way. “Drysdale and the whole group were not happy about bringing him into the project, partly because he was in Tokyo, and partly because of differences in approaches and temperament. In other words, he is an extremely difficult person who thinks that anybody who disagrees with him is a complete idiot.”
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http://www.debito.org/?p=2168

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3) Tsukiji Fish Market reopens, the NJ blame game continues

Good news in that Tsukiji Fish Market, closed due to “unmannerly foreigners” (according to the Japanese-language press), has reopened to the public with more security (good), with intentions to move to a location more accessible to visitors (good again, in retrospect). The bad news is that the J-media (even NHK) has been playing a monthlong game of “find the unmannerly foreigner” (even when Japanese can be just as unmannerly) and thus portray manners as a function of nationality.

It’s a soft target: NJ can’t fight back very well in the J-media, and even Stockholm-Syndromed self-hating bigoted NJ will bash foreigners under the flimsiest pretenses, putting it down to a matter of culture if not ill-will. Bunkum and bad science abounds. Japan Times article and a word from cyberspace follows.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2135

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4) BBS 2-Channel’s Nishimura sells off his golden goose
(and my upcoming JT column Feb 3 on 2-Channel and Japan’s Bully Culture)

After years of online threats against me (by people who can neither do research or demonstrate any reading comprehension) for apparently either bankrupting their beloved 2-Channel, or taking it over through lawsuit victory (both untrue, but anonymous Netizen bullies never held truth or fact in high regard), 2-Channel founder and coordinator Nishimura Hiroyuki sold off his golden goose. One which he claimed made him a comfortable living and a safe haven from libel lawsuits.

No longer. If he ever sets foot in the real world, with a real salary and a real traceable bank account, he’ll never earn money again. There are dozens of people who have an outstanding lien on his assets thanks to court rulings against him. I am among them. He knows that. Let’s see how many steps this abetting polluter of cyberspace can keep ahead of the authorities.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2140

Moreover, next week Tuesday (Weds outside major metropolitan areas), February 3, my next JUST BE CAUSE column will discuss the 2-Channel pheomenon in relation to Japan’s strong bully culture, and how it is further empowered by the tendency toward anonymity. Get a copy!

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5) IHT on Buraku Nonaka vs Barack Obama

What with the Obama Presidency, there is a boom in “change” theory, with press speculation whether a landmark incident that so countermands a society’s history could likewise do the same in other (apparently historically-intransigent) societies. Here’s an article on the NYT/IHT on what happened when a minority in Japan, a member of the Buraku historical underclass, got close to the top job, and what the current blue-blooded leader (Aso) allegedly did to stop it. The article about former Dietmember Nonaka Hiromu ends on a hopeful note, but I’m not so positive.

Quoting from one of my Japan Times articles, December 18, 2007:
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After the last election, 185 of 480 Diet members (39%) were second- or third- (or more) generation politicians (seshuu seijika). Of 244 members of the LDP (the ruling party for practically all the postwar period), 126 (52%) are seshuu seijika. Likewise eight of the last ten Prime Ministers, andaround half the Abe and Fukuda Cabinets. When the average turnover per election is only around 3%, you have what can only be termed a political class.
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Until the electorate realizes that their legislative body is a peerage masquerading as an elected body, and vote out more technically-inherited seats, “change” in terms of minority voices being heard will be much slower in coming.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2130

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6) Kyodo/JT: Death penalty obstructs “presumption of innocence” in Japanese justice

This is not a “NJ issues”-specific post (although issues of criminal justice ultimately affect everybody, except maybe bent cops). But this short article on a presentation, regarding the aftermath of the famous 1948 Teigin Bank Poisoning Incident (where a bank robber posed as a doctor, told everybody that there had been an outbreak of dysentery, and to take medicine that was actually poison; themes of Milgram’s Experiment), calls into question the use of the death penalty not as a preventive deterrent or a form of Hammurabian justice, but as a weapon during interrogation. I have brought up issues of “presumption of guilt” (where the accused has to prove his innocence, despite the Constitution) here before. This too-short article is still good food for thought about the abuses of power, especially if governing life and death. Choice excerpt:

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“The death penalty is a ‘weapon’ for investigators. They could tell suspects, ‘You will be hanged if you do not admit to the charges,’ ” he said.

As for the Teigin case, more than 30 justice ministers refused to sign the execution order, and Yasuda told the audience of about 50, “They must have had concerns over the possible discovery of the real culprit, but they refused to release Hirasawa to save the ‘honor’ of the legal system.”
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http://www.debito.org/?p=2194

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7) Irish Times on Jane v. NPA rape case (she lost, again)

Excerpt:
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Jane is one of hundreds of women assaulted by US military personnel annually around the world, including in Japan, home to over 80 American bases and about 33,000 troops. The military presence is blamed for over 200,000 mostly off-duty crimes since the Japan-America Security Alliance was created in the early 1950s.

The bulk are petty offences but in one of the most notorious, a 12-year-old schoolgirl was raped and left for dead by three US serviceman on the southern island of Okinawa, reluctant home to nearly three-quarters of all US military facilities in Japan.

That 1995 crime shook the half-century alliance, sparking huge anti-US rallies and cries of “never again”. Last year a 14-year-old was raped by a US marine, one of several similar assaults against Japanese and Filipino women.

Protests forced the US military to set up recently a “sexual assault prevention unit”. Opponents say, however, that the incidents are an inevitable consequence of transplanting young and often traumatised trained killers into a local population they neither know nor respect.

Tensions between locals and the military are exacerbated by extraterritorial rights enjoyed by US personnel under the Status of Forces Agreement, which often allows them to avoid arrest for minor and sometimes even serious crimes. The agreement was reinforced by a recently uncovered deal between Washington and Tokyo to waive secretly jurisdiction against US soldiers in all but the most serious crimes, according to researcher Shoji Niihara.
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http://www.debito.org/?p=2164

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8) Kirk Masden on NJ crime down for three years, yet not discussed in media.

The NPA has released crime stats for NJ, and foreign crime is down again. For the third year in a row. Despite the unwavering increase in NJ population. But you wouldn’t know it by reading the media. You would have, however, if NJ crime had gone up, as past media campaigns have bent over backwards to report. So now we’ve got the media instead bending over backwards to bash NJ for being “unmannerly” and spoiling it for everyone. Who’s spoiling what for whom?, I daresay. Kirk Masden comments with a scan of the crime stat chart in this blog entry.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2132

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NOT TAKING IT LYING DOWN
9) Kyodo: Brazilian workers protest layoffs at J companies

I’m glad the media is picking this up. People who have been here for decades are being laid off. And instead of getting the representation that shuntou regularly entitles regular Japanese workers, they’re resorting to the only thing they have left (save repatriation): Taking it to the streets.

A reliable source told me yesterday that he expects “around 40%” of Brazilian workers to return to Brazil. They shouldn’t have to: They’ve paid their dues, they’ve paid their taxes, and some will be robbed of their pensions. They (among other workers) have saved Japanese industries, keeping input costs internationally competitive. Yet they’re among the first to go. A phenomenon not unique to Japan, but their perpetual temp status (and apparent non-inclusion in “real” unemployment stats, according to some media) is something decryable. Glad they themselves are decrying it and the media is listening.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2134

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10) Wash Post on GOJ efforts to get Brazilian workers to stay

Excerpt:
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“Our goal is to get [NJ workers] to stay,” said Masahiko Ozeki, who is in charge of an interdepartmental office that was established this month in the cabinet of Prime Minister Taro Aso. “As a government, we have not done anything like this before.”

Japanese-language courses, vocational training programs and job counseling are being put together, Ozeki said, so immigrants can find work throughout the Japanese economy. There is a shortage of workers here, especially in health care and other services for the elderly.

So far, government funding for these emerging programs is limited slightly more than $2 million, far less than will be needed to assist the tens of thousands of foreign workers who are losing jobs and thinking about giving up on Japan. But Ozeki said the prime minister will soon ask parliament for considerably more money exactly how much is still being figured out as part of a major economic stimulus package to be voted on early this year.

The government’s effort to keep jobless foreigners from leaving the country is “revolutionary,” according to Hidenori Sakanaka, former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau and now director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, a research group in Tokyo.

“Japan has a long history of rejecting foreign residents who try to settle here,” he said. “Normally, the response of the government would have been to encourage these jobless people to just go home. I wouldn’t say that Japan as a country has shifted its gears to being an immigrant country, but when we look back on the history of this country, we may see that this was a turning point.”
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http://www.debito.org/?p=2154

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11) Google zaps Debito.org, later unzaps thanks to advice from cyberspace

Tangent: Google notified me earlier in January that they would be delisting Debito.org from its search engines for cloaked text inserted on our site. Yet Google wouldn’t reveal on what page it’s on so we could fix the problem. We couldn’t find it. So we were stuck with an unfair delisting and that was that. This oddly-enforced policy may affect other websites and blogs as well.

Fortunately, helpful advice from people in cyberspace put us back on the list. Have a gander on how things were resolved just in case it happens to you.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2129

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12) Southland Times on how New Zealand deals with restaurant exclusions

As another template about “what to do if…” (or rather, a model for what the GOJ should be more proactive about) when you get a restaurant refusing customers on the basis of race, ethnicity, national background, etc., here’s an article on what would happen in New Zealand. Here’s a Human Rights Commission and a media that actually does some follow-up, unlike the Japanese example. Then again, I guess Old Bigoted Gregory would rail against this as some sort of violation of locals’ “rights to discriminate”. Or that it isn’t Japan, therefore not special enough to warrant exceptionalism. But I beg to disagree, and point to this as an example of how to handle this sort of situation.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2127

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13) Question on Welfare Assistance (seikatsu hogo) and privacy rights

Got a question from TtoT at The Community that deserves answering. In these days of mass layoffs and people on unemployment insurance, apparently the welfare offices are able to call up relatives and check to see if applicants really are financially as badly off as they say. As the poster points out below, there are privacy issues involved. Anyone know more about this? If so, comments section. Thanks.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2160

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14) UN News on upcoming Durban human rights summit and Gitmo

Two posts from UN NEWS that are tangental but within the pale of Debito.org.

First up is news about the next big human rights summit in Durban, South Africa. The last one was at the beginning of this decade. Those interested in attending (I would, but again, no money) might want to start making plans.

Second, I was asked recently by a friend, “What do you want to see Obama do immediately after taking office?” I answered back with a question, “You mean personally, or big-picture?” Both. “Okay, personally, state publicly that the USA will not support any application by Japan to the UN Security Council until it honors its treaty promises, including passing an enforceable law against racial discrimination.” But that’s easily backburnerable. “But big-picture, I want to see Obama close Guantanamo, that running sore of human-rights abuses that is arguably doing more to encourage anti-American sentiment worldwide than anything else.”

Well, the big-picture was precisely what Obama took steps to do his first working day in office. Bravo. And the UN recognizes it as such.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2143

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… and finally …

15) Documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES on Japan’s hidden NJ labor market
Japan Roadshow March 20 – April 1
Screenings in Tokyo, Tsukuba, Hikone, and Okayama confirmed
more being arranged in Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Sapporo

A documentary on “Japan’s Hidden Workers” and human rights, with Debito appearing as tour guide to exclusionary signs in Kabukichou, Tokyo. Directed by Tilman Koenig and Daniel Kremers of Leipzig. Preview of the movie here. Due for showings in Japan in March 2009, so please notify Debito if you’d like him to stop by your area between March 20 and April 1. Promotional PDF of the movie with stills of scenes all available at

http://www.debito.org/?page_id=1672

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Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 1, 2009 ENDS

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