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  • DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 20, 2009

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on February 21st, 2009

    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 20, 2009
    Table of Contents

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    POLICING
    1) Yomiuri et al. on new “Zairyuu Cards” to replace “Gaijin Cards”
    2) Zainichi also get cards, although with relaxed conditions
    3) GOJ claims victory in “halving overstayers” campaign, maintains myth that NJ fingerprinting did it
    4) Japan Times Zeit Gist on Noriko Calderon, born in Japan, child of overstayers, and deportation

    NJ CRIME EXPOSURE: MEDIA EXCESSES AND RESTRAINTS
    5) Japan Today on Spa! magazine’s expose of “Monster Gaikokujin” running amok in Japan
    6) Full four pages of Feb 17 2009 SPA! article on “Monster Gaikokujin” scanned
    7) Mainichi: 3 Chinese arrested over paternity scam to get child Japanese citizenship
    8 ) Asahi: NJ overstayers finding housing through name laundering ads

    A MIXED BAG OF POTENTIAL LEGAL PRECEDENTS
    9) Japan Times Zeit Gist on Berlitz’s lawsuit against unions for “strike damage”
    10) The Economist on international divorce and child custody (Japan passim)
    11) Japanese stewardesses sue Turkish Airlines for discriminatory employment conditions

    …and finally…
    12) Fun and Games at Hokuyo Bank: Extra questions for the gaijin account holder
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    By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, Daily blog updates at www.debito.org
    Freely Forwardable

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    POLICING

    1) Yomiuri et al. on new “Zairyuu Cards” to replace “Gaijin Cards”

    The new policing system for NJ is slowly materializing. This week’s news had the GOJ proposal for new improved “Gaijin Cards”.

    Yomiuri says it’s to “sniff out illegals” and to somehow increase the “convenience” for foreigners (according to the Yomiuri podcast the same day). It’s still to centralize all registration and policing powers within the Justice Ministry (not local governments), and anyone not a Special Permanent Resident (the Zainichis, which is fine, but Regular Permanent Residents who have no visa issues with workplace etc.) must report minute updates whenever there’s a lifestyle change, on pain of criminal prosecution. Doesn’t sound all that “convenient” to me. I’m also not sure how this will be more effective than the present system in “sniffing out illegals” unless it’s an IC Card able to track people remotely. But that’s not discussed in the article.

    I last reported on this on Debito.org nearly a year ago, where I noted among other things that the very rhetoric of the card is “stay” (zairyuu), rather than “residency” (zaijuu). For all the alleged improvements, the gaijin are still only temporary.

    A couple of bits of good news included as a bonus in the article is that NJ Trainees are going to be included for protection in the Labor Laws. And there will be a relaxation of the Reentry Permit program. Good. Finally. Read on.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2381

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    2) Zainichi also get cards, although with relaxed conditions

    Next installment in the proposed new NJ policing regulations: How the Zainichi (“Special Permanent Residents”, i.e. the generational foreigners in Japan, descendants of former citizens from Imperial colonies) get cut a few breaks, but still have to carry a card 24-7 or else.

    Also mentioned below are how “medium- and long-term residents” (are we talking one-year visas, three-year visas, and/or Regular Permanent Residents?) are getting different (and improved) treatment as well. Okay, but this system is now getting a bit hazy in terms of terminology and application. It’s about time to find the proposal ourselves in the original Japanese, and lay things out online clearly where there are no space constraints. Eyes peeled, everyone. Let us know on Debito.org if you find it.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2406

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    3) GOJ claims victory in “halving overstayers” campaign, maintains myth that NJ fingerprinting did it

    The GOJ has patted itself on the back for being about to reach its goal of halving the number of overstaying NJ by the target date of 2010.

    Congrats. But piggybacking on this cheer is the lie that fingerprinting NJ at the border helped do it.

    Wrong. As we’ve discussed on Debito.org before, fingerprinting and collecting other biometric data at the border does not result in an instantaneous check. It takes time. In fact, the first day of the fingerprinting program back in November 20, 2007, they raised a cheer for snagging NJ at the border, it was for passport issues, not prints. And the GOJ has never publicly offered stats separating those caught by documentation and those fingered by biometric data (nor have we stats for how many were netted before the fingerprinting program was launched, to see if if it really made any difference). So we let guilt by associated data justify a program that targets NJ regardless of residency status and criminalizes them whenever they cross back into Japan. Bad social science, bad public policy, and now rotten interpretations of the data.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2382

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    4) Japan Times Zeit Gist on Noriko Calderon, born in Japan, child of overstayers, facing deportation

    What could turn out to be a landmark case is that of Noriko Calderon, a NJ born to two NJ overstayers entering Japan on false passports more than a decade ago, who face deportation, but have support and legal representation to the GOJ to try to force the issue of her needing to stay. It will be interesting to see how this turns out, as thin edge of the wedge questions are raised in the article below. Excerpt:

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    Commentary on many blogs has also been negative. “We can’t allow foreigners who came here illegally to stay,” wrote one critic on the free bulletin board 2channel. “If we do, many more will come to have children here and claim citizenship.”

    Watanabe calls comments like that “a joke.” “Do people who say those things have any idea how difficult it is to come to a country like Japan and live for years hiding from the authorities? Do they know what it is like to raise a child illegally here?”

    He estimates that there are between 100 to 200 similar cases around the country — illegal families with children who have been born and raised here. Amnesty is unlikely, meaning dozens more legal battles are likely in the coming years. Like Noriko, most of the children speak only Japanese and have never been to the “home” they are being sent back to…

    Last year a group of 80 lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party led by former party Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa proposed allowing foreigners in Japan to increase to 10 percent of the population by 2050, the clearest statement on the issue so far.

    “There is no effective cure to save Japan from a population crisis,” said the group. “In order for Japan to survive, it must open its doors as an international state to the world and shift toward establishing an ‘immigrant nation’ by accepting immigrants and revitalizing Japan.”

    But Watanabe says such newfound openness stands in stark contrast to the way foreign workers already here are treated. “I want to ask Nakagawa-san and the LDP: ‘If Japan can’t accept families like the Calderons who have been living here for years, how can we invite more?’ “
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    http://www.debito.org/?p=2303

    EPILOGUE: MOJ ruled that Noriko can stay in Japan, but her parents cannot.

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    A MIXED BAG OF POTENTIAL LEGAL PRECEDENTS

    5) Japan Today on Spa! magazine’s expose of “Monster Gaikokujin” running amok in Japan

    It seems the “NJ blame game” I mentioned earlier this year (http://www.debito.org/?p=2135) is still continuing in the Japanese media. Japan Today reports tabloid magazine Spa! coining a special word to describe “monster gaikokujin” wreaking havoc and laying waste to Japan. Of course, Japanese tourists are ever so well behaved, and they don’t do things like deface an Italian world heritage site and the like. And Japanese overseas don’t commit crime. Never ever. But imagine the howls of protest in the J media (and the J embassies) should the Italian media decry “mostruoso niapponese”. Ah well. More bad social science by media that seems convinced that the Japanese language is some kind of secret code unintelligible to the outside world. Opening paragraphs:

    “They get into jacuzzis at onsens still covered with body soap, punch out taxi drivers and so on. Here we pursue the mode of life of the foreigners who swagger in our faces during Japan’s recession!”

    This week’s issue of Spa! (Feb 17) then proceeds with a four-page polemic against foreign tourists and residents titled “Report of Monster Foreigners on the Rampage.”

    Spa! employs the word “monga” for this phenomenon, a neologism of created by combining “monsutaa” (monster) and “gaikokujin” (foreigner).

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2301

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    6) Full four pages of Feb 17 2009 SPA! article on “Monster Gaikokujin” scanned

    For your discussion are the full four pages of the SPA! magazine article on how NJ (rendered “monster gaikokujin”, abbreviated to “Monga” to save space) are coming to Japan and doing bad bad things. Have a read.

    A brief synopsis of the article starts (predictably) at Tsukiji, giving the reader a picture of the disruptive behavior of NJ fish-kissers and the like, flitting onwards to onsens (boy, that dead horse never gets tired), then on to “Monga” of monstrous sexual desire, propositioning Maiko as if they were prostitutes (and libidinous Chinese photographing their lap-dancers), drunk black people with video cameras terrifying a chaste Akiba Maid (who wasn’t too shy about posing maidly for the article), Koreans fouling hotel refrigerators with kimchee, etc. Of course, the nationality or the race is always identified and linked with the behavior (we are, after all, talking about breeds of NJ).

    Then you turn the page for more detailed case studies of NJ depravity: An Australian who assaults a taxi driver (the latter just wants to tell the world that “it’s not only the evil-looking foreigners that are frightening — even the likes of White people who look like they work for world-class companies will do this”). A Turk who uses his looks and language skills to become a sexual predator. And a Filipina overstayer who plans to use her feminine wiles to land a life here.

    Two bonus sidebars blame Lonely Planet guidebooks of encouraging NJ “eccentricities” and give you a Binaca Blast of Benjamin Fulford. Benjamin, safe behind sunglasses, asserts that 1) Caucasians let the natural “effeteness” of the Japanese people go to their head, and that 2) he’s being targeted by the yakuza and how Mossad is involved and er, dunno what this point is doing here. Holy cow, the shuukanshi got hijacked for Ben’s personal agenda! (BTW, not mentioned is how Ben is now a Japanese citizen. I guess now he feels qualified to pontificate from the other side of the mirror glasses how “Doing as the Romans do” is universal.)

    See for yourself. Here are scans of the pages:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=2315

    QUICK ANALYSIS FROM DEBITO: This article is far less “brick through the window” than the “GAIJIN HANZAI” magazine a couple of years back. It acknowledges the need for NJ to be here, and how they’re contributing to the economy (not “laying waste” to Japan as the very cover of GH mag put it). They even mozaic out the NJ faces. From the very title, SPA! even mostly avoids the use of the racist word “gaijin” in favor of “gaikokuijn” even as it tries to mint a new epithet. And it’s trying to get at least some voice of the “foreign community” involved (even if it’s Benjamin Fulford, who can find a conspiracy in a cup of coffee). It’s an improvement of sorts.

    That said, it still tries to sensationalize and decontextualize (where is any real admission that Japanese do these sorts of things too, both domestically and internationally?), and commits, as I keep saying, the unscientific sin of ascribing behavior to nationality, as if nationalities were breeds of dogs with thoroughbred behaviors. Again, if you’re going to do a story on foreign crime (and it should be crime, not just simple faux pas or possible misunderstandings), talk about the act and the individual actor (yes, by name), and don’t make the action part of a group effort. Doing so just foments prejudice.

    But I’m sure the editors of SPA! are plenty sophisticated to know that. They’re just pandering to sell papers. I’m just glad it’s not worse. Perhaps after all these years I’m getting jaded.

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    7) Mainichi: 3 Chinese arrested over paternity scam to get child Japanese citizenship

    Here’s an article in the Mainichi about a new form of crime: NJ falsifying paternity under Nationality Law revisions to try to claim Japanese citizenship. No doubt in the current NJ Blame Game climate we’ll get the Right Wing and wary xenophobes citing this as cases of NJ and the evils they do, and that we cannot give an inch (or amend any laws in future) to make life easier for NJ to immigrate and have their rights protected (after all, they might turn around and use potential legal loopholes as a means for criminal activity).

    But to me (and this is not to excuse their crime) this issue is a matter of forgery that only NJ can do (after all, Japanese already have citizenship), and this is what criminals (again, regardless of nationality) get up to. People forging names for, say, fake bank accounts (and we won’t even get into white-collar crime and business fraud) happens aplenty in Japan, and not all of it makes the news. So I say: Whenever it happens, catch it, expose it, report it, and punish it, regardless of nationality. But don’t say NJ are doing it because NJ (especially Chinese, according to Tokyo Gov Ishihara) are more likely to commit crime.

    Fortunately, the Mainichi doesn’t take that tack. It just reports the facts of the case. Good.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2341

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    8 ) Asahi: NJ overstayers finding housing through name laundering ads

    Continuing this mini-series in the uncovered permutations of NJ crime, Asahi reports that overstaying NJ involved in other types of crime are finding housing through a guarantor name laundering scheme.

    Again, we’re getting another article (same as yesterday’s blog) just reporting the facts of the case (without resorting to quoting some “expert” about how this is indicative of NJ or Chinese character etc.). And it does report that this laundering is going through a Japanese person (and includes his name). All good. Ironically, it seems as though it may be difficult to prosecute the guarantor for fraud (the NJ, however, would lose his housing contract). So punishment looks a tad one-sided. Again, there is a strong tendency to punish the employee not the employer, the user not the broker, as happens surprisingly often, say, for employers of overstayers and human traffickers. It’s the NJ who gets it in the neck.

    Anyway, the guarantor system in Japan is a flawed one. We have people of any nationality unable to rent a place without a guarantor, and landlords all too often refuse to rent to a NJ even with a guarantor. It’s unsurprising to me that NJ would be finding a way around the system (they gotta live somewhere) and J brokers profiting from it. I’m just hoping that things like this won’t be further fodder for saying that NJ renters are worthy of suspicion (when this guarantor brokerage system is the subject of this article; after all, the system wouldn’t fly without a Japanese guarantor). To me (and again, this is not to diminish the crimes these perps are committing), Asahi reporting in such detail on the other crimes being committed by the NJ is a tad superfluous to the fraud cases at hand. Glad the quality of reportage is improving, in any case.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2347

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    A MIXED BAG OF PRECEDENTS
    9) Japan Times Zeit Gist on Berlitz’s lawsuit against unions for “strike damage”

    Here’s a landmark case, dismissed by activists as a “frivolous claim”, which will affect unions profoundly in future if the right to strike (a right, as the article notes, which is guaranteed by the Japanese Constitution Article 28 under organization and collective bargaining) is not held sacrosanct by a Japanese court.

    Language school Berlitz, shortly after a request was filed with the authorities for an investigation of its employment practices, sued Begunto labor union for damages due to strikes. Although the article stops short of saying the epiphany-inducing words “union-busting activities”, Berlitz seems to playing for time in court, not even offering their reasons for their lawsuit by the appointed court date. Keep an eye on this case, readers. Excerpt:

    ———————————-
    According to Hideyuki Morito, an attorney and Professor of Law at Sophia University, “There are four checkpoints as to propriety of the strike.” The striking union must be a qualified union under the Labor Union Act and the strike must be related to working conditions. The means of the strike must also be legal, so striking union members can’t occupy offices or interfere with operations. “In short, all they can do is not work ,” says Morito. Finally, unions must “try to bargain collectively with the employer before deciding to go on a strike and give a notice in advance when they will strike.”

    Tadashi Hanami, professor emeritus at Sophia University, outlined what the company must prove to win. “The outcome of the court judgment depends almost entirely on whether the company can provide enough evidence to convince the judge that some of the union activities were maliciously carried out in order to intentionally cause undue damage, by disturbing normal running of day-by-day school business, thus exceeded the scope of legally protected bona fide collective actions as a kind of harassment.”
    ———————————-
    http://www.debito.org/?p=2365

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    10) The Economist on international divorce and child custody (Japan passim)

    The Economist print edition last week had a thorough story (albeit not thorough enough on Japan) on what divorce does to people when it’s international. Of particular interest was that in Japan, the article noted, you don’t comparatively lose much money, but you lose your kids. It also mentions Japan’s negligence vis-a-vis the Hague Convention on child abduction. Excerpt:

    ———————————-
    “Japan has not signed [the Hague Convention] either — the only member of the rich-country G7 not to have done so. Canada and America are leading an international effort to change that. Foreign fathers, in particular, find the Japanese court system highly resistant to attempts even to establish regular contact with abducted and unlawfully retained children, let alone to dealing with requests for their return. Such requests are met with incomprehension by Japanese courts, complains an American official dealing with the issue. “They ask, ‘Why would a father care that much?’” Countries edging towards signing the Hague Convention include India, Russia and mainland China. But parents whose ex-spouses have taken children to Japan should not hold their breath: as Ms Thomas notes, even if Japan eventually adopts the Hague Convention, it will not apply it retrospectively.”
    ———————————-

    First Canada’s media and government,then America’s ABC News, then the UK’s Grauniad, and before The Economist came Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald. The story continues to seep out about Japan as a problematic party to a divorce and as a haven for child abduction. Now what we need is ever more big-impact media outlets such as The Economist to devote an entire story to it.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2299

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    11) Japanese stewardesses sue Turkish Airlines for discriminatory employment conditions

    Japanese stewardesses are suing Turkish Airlines for unfair treatment and arbitrary termination of contract. They were also, according to some news reports I saw on Google and TV, angry at other working conditions they felt were substandard, such as lack of changing rooms. So they formed a union to negotiate with the airline, and then found themselves fired.

    Fine. But this is definite Shoe on the Other Foot stuff, especially given the conditions that NJ frequently face in the Japanese workplace. Let’s hope this spirit of media understanding rubs off for NJ who might want to sue Japanese companies for the same sort of thing.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2215

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    …and finally…

    12) Fun and Games at Hokuyo Bank: Extra questions for the gaijin account holder

    Had a little adventure on February 10 at Hokuyo Bank, Hokkaido’s biggest, where I found out that any foreign money transfers regardless of amount were to be asked questions about purpose. Even those well under (by a factor of 40) threshold amounts under domestic and international money laundering guidelines. Why? Because it’s at the bank’s discretion, and in application that means people with funny-sounding names keep getting targeted for suspicious questions. Ah well, it’s not only Hokuyo. Hokkaido Bank has a history of doing it too. But at least Dougin apologized for it and said they’ll do better. Hokuyo just asks for our understanding. Read all about my funny little excursion into the world of the Columboes at Hokuyo, and the comments from NJ who reveal the same thing happens to them…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2293

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    That’s all for today. Thanks to everyone as always for reading!
    Arudou Debito
    Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 20, 2009 ENDS

    One Response to “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 20, 2009”

    1. shirley Says:

      More power to you!!!May God bless you with health and strenght to fight discrimination here in japan..Ive been a victim so many times…thnk u for ur articles,it helps me a lot.

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