Posted by debito on March 29th, 2007
Hello Blog. Good news. Local newspaper Niigata Nippou reports that another city government, Jouetsu, intends to abolish the “Nationality Clause” (kokuseki joukou), the guideline, enforced by many local, regional, and national government agencies, that only citizens may hold administrative positions (kanrishoku) in the Japanese civil service.
Non-Japanese, even those born in Japan with Japanese as their first language (as generational diaspora of former citizens of empire–the Zainichis), have been systematically excluded from even qualifying to sit examinations for Japan’s bureaucracy. Moreover, the Supreme Court decided in 2005, in defiance of Article 14 barring discrimination, that excluding a Zainichi Korean named Chong Hyang Gyun from sitting her admin exam for the Tokyo Government was constitutional!
Proponents of the Nationality Clause say inter alia that it is for security reasons, as you apparently cannot allow untrustworthy foreigners (especially those apparently shifty North Koreans) to hold jobs in, for example, firefighting and civil-service food preparation. Hell, you can’t trust a foreigner with a fire ax and potential damage to our Japanese property (potential insurance problems and international incidents), and what if they poisoned us during a busy lunchtime and took over! Or if proponents can’t be bothered to overthink the situation, they just punt and say that if anyone seriously wants to become a bureaucrat, they should naturalize, as many other countries require nationality for their civil-service jobs.
Both of these types of arguments overgeneralize and misrepresent the situation, as opponents point out. Namely, that if Japan had nationality laws like its fellow developed countries, there wouldn’t be more than a quarter of a million “Zainichis” lying in legal limbo for five generations now–they would be citizens already and eligible to take the exams anyway.
So the Nationality Clause is being slowly been done away with in municipalities (except those with bunker mentalities towards internationalization, such as Tokyo Met). Here’s an example: Jouetsu City, on the Japan-Sea side in SW Niigata Prefecture. Bravo.
Translating the article from Niigata Nippou for the record. Referential websites follow the article. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
JOUETSU CITY TO COMPLETELY ABOLISH THE NATIONALITY CLAUSE
Niigata Nippou March 28, 2007
(Japanese original) or
The City Government of Jouetsu made clear on March 27 its aims to completely abolish the Nationality Clause for its 2008 employee hires. Mayor Konoura Masayuki said as such during question time for the city’s March regular monthly meeting.
Jouetsu City removed the Nationality Clause for employment in the Arts and Child Care in 1995, and from Welfare employees in 2003. From 2008, it will remove the restriction from all city government employment, including civil engineers and construction.
As part of its General Plan for Human Rights, drawn up in 2002, Jouetsu had been condsidering abolishing this clause entirely. Mayor Konoura explained, “We wanted to take this up during 2007 entrance exams for employees.”
The City of Minami Uonuma in Niigata Prefecture also abolished the Nationality Clause for civil-service entrance exams in 2007. The City of Niigata has also indicated that it is considering a similar abolition.
OTHER MOVES BY LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO ABOLISH THE NATIONALITY CLAUSE (Kobe, Kochi, Osaka, Kawasaki)
MORE ON CHONG HYANG GYUN CASE
ZNet February 4, 2005
More historical links (1995) from:
In her own words at Debito.org (Japanese):
AN APPRAISAL OF JAPAN’S ASSIMILATION POLICIES, MENTIONING THE NATIONALITY CLAUSE PASSIM (Japan Focus, January 12, 2006)
LIKEWISE PROBLEMS WITH JAPAN’S TREATMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RESIDENTS, AND PROPOSED SOLUTIONS (again passim)