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  • DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 19, 2009

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on April 19th, 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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 19, 2009

    Table of Contents:
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    JAPAN SLOWLY RUNNING DOWN
    1) Economist: First mention of Japan’s “two lost decades”:
    Calls into question efficacy of “Japan Inc” business model
    2) Mainichi: Kofu Laundry taken to cleaners over abuses of Chinese “trainees”
    3) See I told you so #2: Oct-Jan 1000 “Trainees” repatriated, returning to debts.
    4) Yomiuri: NJ students brought to J universities by the bushelful, but given little job assistance
    5) In contrast: Korea Times: South Korea proposes dual citizenship

    HISTORY AND HISTORICAL EVENTS
    6) Japan Times on the Calderon Noriko Case: “The Battle for Japan’s Future” and fascist demo on YouTube
    7) Calderon Case: Two protesters against right-wing demo arrested, supporters group established
    8 ) Sunday Tangent: NPR interview with late scholar John Hope Franklin: feel the parallels
    9) Peru’s Fujimori really gets his: 25 years jail for death squads

    PLEAS FOR HELP
    10) Michael Collison Case: “Fired from Interac after death of infant daughter”
    11) Friend requests advice on how to approach JHS PTA, regarding repainting rundown school
    12) Filmmaker requests interviewees for documentary on NJ visa overstayers

    … and finally…
    13) Sapporo Screening of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES Thurs Apr 23 7PM HIBA
    14) Japan Times on Tokyo Takadanobaba SOUR STRAWBERRIES screening

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

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    JAPAN SLOWLY RUNNING DOWN
    1) Economist: First mention of Japan’s “two lost decades”: Calls into question efficacy of “Japan Inc” business model

    The Economist (London): To lose one decade may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. Japan’s economy stagnated in the 1990s after its stockmarket and property bubbles burst, but its more recent economic performance looks even more troubling. Industrial production plunged by 38% in the year to February, to its lowest level since 1983. Real GDP fell at an annualised rate of 12% in the fourth quarter of 2008, and may have declined even faster in the first three months of this year. The OECD forecasts that Japan’s GDP will shrink by 6.6% in 2009 as a whole, wiping out all the gains from the previous five years of recovery.

    If that turns out to be true, Japan’s economy will have grown at an average of 0.6% a year since it first stumbled in 1991 (see top chart). Thanks to deflation as well, the value of GDP in nominal terms in the first quarter of this year probably fell back to where it was in 1993. For 16 years the economy has, in effect, gone nowhere

    Japan’s second lost decade holds worrying lessons for other rich economies. Its large fiscal stimulus succeeded in preventing a depression in the 1990s after its bubble burstand others are surely correct to follow today. But Japan’s failure to spur a strong domestic recovery a decade later suggests that America and Europe may also have a long, hard journey ahead.

    COMMENT: I think the evidence is mounting that using the Americans as a economic crutch was the key to Japan’s postwar growth. If Japan wants to stick to the same “crutch economy” to power itself, it had better shut its uyoku up and get friendlier with China, because that’s probably going to be the export purchaser of the future. Otherwise, consider the consumer-led economy being proposed by The Economist in this article.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2933

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    2) Mainichi & Yomiuri: Kofu Laundry taken to cleaners over abuses of Chinese “trainees”

    Mainichi: The Kofu Labor Standards Inspection Office has sent documents to public prosecutors accusing a dry-cleaning company president of violating labor and wage laws by making Chinese trainees work for pay below the minimum wage…

    Uchida was reported to prosecutors over the alleged failure to pay about 11.15 million yen to six female trainees from China aged in their 20s and 30s, during the period between February 2007 and July 2008.

    The office also reported a 37-year-old certified social insurance labor consultant from Chuo, Yamanashi Prefecture, to public prosecutors accusing him of assisting in the violation of both laws by providing assistance to Uchida and other related parties.

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

    Yomiuri: The Justice Ministry says it has found irregularities at a 452 companies and organizations that hosted foreign trainees last year.

    Officials of the ministry said it had confirmed that the companies and organizations violated labor laws, such as by paying lower-than-minimum wages to foreign trainees. Of the total, 169 cases of entities making trainees work unpaid overtime were found and 155 cases concerned other labor law violations such as payment of illegally low wages…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2960

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    3) See I told you so #2: Oct-Jan 1000 “Trainees” repatriated, returning to debts.

    Mainichi: More than 1,000 foreign trainees involved in government programs were forced to return home as sponsor companies have been suffering from the deteriorating economy, a government survey has revealed “Most of the trainees took out a loan of about 700,000 yen to 1 million yen to come to Japan,” said a representative of Advocacy Network for Foreign Trainees in Tokyo’s Taito Ward. “If they return home before their contract period ends, they will be left in debt.

    COMMENT: Here come the stats. The “Trainees” (mostly Chinese workers in Japanese farms and factories), which I discussed in part in my most recent Japan Times article, are being sent home in large numbers, to face debts. Oh well, they’re not Nikkei. They don’t get any assistance. Just the promise of a “review” by May 2009, something people have been clamoring for since at least November 2006! Yet it only took a month or so for the GOJ to come up with and inaugurate something to help the Nikkei, after all (see above JT article). But again, wrong blood.

    I think we’ll see a drop in the number of registered NJ for the first time in more than four decades this year. Maybe that’ll be See I told you so #3. I hope I’m wrong this time, however.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2949

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    4) Yomiuri: NJ students brought to J universities by the bushelful, but given little job assistance

    Yomiuri: According to the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), the number of foreign students studying in Japan at universities, graduate schools and junior colleges has been on the rise in recent years. As of May 1 last year, a record 123,829 foreign students were studying in Japan, up 5,331 from the previous year. About 60 percent of the foreign students came from China, followed by students from South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam, according to JASSO.

    Many students from Asia hope to work in Japan. However, only 10,262 students were able to obtain working visas in 2007 after finding jobs. Many students ended up returning to their home countries after failing to find work.

    The employment situation for foreign students has gone from bad to worse due to the economic downturn. According to the Tokyo Employment Service Center for Foreignersa job-placement office for foreign residentsthere were 252 job listings targeting foreign students graduating in March available at the center as of Jan. 31, down 54 from the same period last year.

    COMMENT: Continuing with the theme of “bringing people over but not taking care of them” (a la the “Trainees” and the Nikkei), here we have GOJ entities beefing enrollment of depopulated Japanese universities with NJ students, then leaving them twisting in the wind when it comes to job searches.

    See comments section for opinions of people actually experiencing the constrictions of the GOJ to the point where they can’t make ends meet in Japan at

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2955

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    5) In contrast: Korea Times: South Korea proposes dual citizenship

    Korea Times Editorial: It’s good news for foreigners that they can get Korean citizenship without giving up their own nationality from the latter part of this year at the earliest. The Ministry of Justice plans to present a bill to the National Assembly by June in a move to offer dual citizenship to foreigners with ample potential to contribute to national development. The plan is to allow dual citizenship on a limited basis to cope with the worsening brain-drain problem and attract talented foreigners into the country.

    It was inevitable that the country would ease its ban on dual citizenship in the era of globalization and a multicultural society. We believe the ministry has made the right decision to improve our national competitiveness by drawing more talented foreign professionals to the country. In fact, the rigid single-nationality regulation has been an impediment to foreigners’ activities and their life here. Thus, the possible softening of the regulation will enable more foreigners to better contribute to Korean society.

    According to official statistics, 170,000 people have given up their Korean citizenship over the last 10 years, while only 50,000 have obtained it. This means that the county suffers from a brain drain of more than 10,000 people every year. In separate developments, South Korea is steadily becoming a multicultural society. The number of foreign residents in the country has already reached one million, accounting for over 2 percent of the total population. And the ratio is likely to hit 5 percent in 2020.

    COMMENT: Your homework, should you choose to accept it: Compare and contrast with Japan.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2971

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    HISTORY AND HISTORICAL EVENTS
    6) Japan Times on the Calderon Noriko Case: “The Battle for Japan’s Future” and fascist demo on YouTube

    David McNeill of the Japan Times makes an interesting point about the Calderon Noriko Case, where the parents of a Japan-born Philippine adolescent were forcibly repatriated for overstaying, but the adolescent is allowed to remain in Japan without her parents on a tenuous one-year visa. It’s become an ideological tug-of-war between liberals (who want more humanistic immigration policies) and conservatives (who don’t want to encourage illegal-alien copycatting, and, yes, do resort to “purity of Japan” invective), in an inevitable and very necessary debate about Japan’s future.

    The question that hasn’t been asked yet is, would these conservative protesters (see YouTube video of their nasty demonstration here, courtesy of Japan Probe) have the balls to do this to a 13-year-old girl if she were Japanese? Somehow I doubt it. I think they’re expecting to get away with their (in my view heartless) invective just because Noriko’s foreign. Anyway, an excerpt of the JT article follows.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2990
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    7) Calderon Case: Two protesters against right-wing demo arrested, supporters group established

    The Community: This is an email I got through a left-leaning mailing list which describes a ‘Foreigner Expulsion’ demonstration that happened in Saitama, which passed right by the elementary school of the Philipino Calderon family whose case has recently come to national attention.

    Apparently a ‘kyuuenkai’ (support group) has been set up for two people arrested protesting against the demo. Here is their blog, and an example of the blog by the rightists…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3005

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    8 ) Sunday Tangent: NPR interview with late scholar John Hope Franklin: feel the parallels

    Sunday Tangent: An interview with the late John Hope Franklin, historian of the Negro experience in North America. I excerpt a section where he’s trying to buy a house in Brooklyn. Should ring some bells with any NJ trying to rent a place and/or get credit in Japan. One more historical template for why we need a law against racial discrimination here too.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2966

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    9) Peru’s Fujimori really gets his: 25 years jail for death squads

    LIMA, Peru (AP) Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison Tuesday for death squad killings and kidnappings during his 1990s struggle against Shining Path insurgents.

    The court convicted the 70-year-old former leader, who was widely credited for rescuing Peru from the brink of economic and political collapse, of “crimes against humanity” including two operations by the military hit squad that claimed 25 lives…

    Fujimori, who proclaimed his innocence in a roar when the 15-month televised trial began, barely looked up, uttering only four words “I move to nullify” before turning, waving to his children, and walking out of the courtroom at the Lima police base where he has been held and tried since his 2007 extradition from Chile…

    Fujimori’s congresswoman daughter, Keiko, called the conviction foreordained and “full of hate and vengeance.” She said it would only strengthen her candidacy for the 2011 presidential race.

    “Fujimorism will continue to advance. Today we’re first in the polls and will continue to be so,” she said outside the courtroom. She has vowed to pardon her father if elected.

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

    COMMENT: In my humble but loud opinion, this is good news:

    Former Peruvian Prez Alberto Fujimori, who ran a corrupt government, parachuted into Japan for sanctuary in 2000 (getting a Japanese passport without due process), lived the life of a Tokyo elite with full impunity (despite extradition demands and an Interpol warrant for kidnapping and murder), bogged off back to Chile on private jet in 2005 to run for election in Peru (not to mention run for election here in Japan; the fool lost in both places). Then the fool was arrested upon landing and later extradited back to Peru for trial. Yesterday he finally got his: A jail sentence for a quarter-century for executive excesses. As in death squads. In complement to the six years he got in December 2007 for lesser charges.

    Good. Rot there, you dreadful man.

    Debito.org has said time and again why I have it in for this creep. It’s not just because he leapfrogged genuine candidates for Japanese citizenship (claiming it by blood and spoils within weeks of faxing a resignation letter to Peru, from a Tokyo hotel!). It’s because a person like this could spoil it for every other Nikkei in South America. What other country would want to elect another possible Fujimori after all this? Sorry, as wrongfully racist as that sentiment is, clear criminal activity is not going to help the assimilation and social advancement of others like him. That man is quite simply a destroyer of anything that gets in his way.

    But Fujimori, like many leaders in Latin American countries (think Simon Bolivar, Santa Anna, the Perons, or Porfirio Diaz), seems to have nine lives. And his elected daughter is jockeying to become president and pardon him. (Chip off the old block. Now that’s an important national priority and a key campaign plank! Kinda like another president invading Iraq to avenge his father)

    BTW, I saw on the Discovery Channel on April 7 a Canadian documentary about the siege of the Japanese Ambassador to Peru’s house in 1996-7. When the commandos were on tiptoe for 34 hours ready to go in, deputy Montesinos was trying to contact Fujimori to get final approval. Guess what. It took a while to reach him, because he was dealing with personal stuff his divorce hearing! One would think a looming assault on your biggest national donor’s sovereign territory would take ultrapriority for a president. Not a president like FJ.

    Ecch. Again, what a dreadful man.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2945

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    PLEAS FOR HELP
    10) Michael Collison Case: “Fired from Interac after death of infant daughter”

    What follows is a story of a person, in his own words, who dealt with a language company called Interac in Yokohama, which disciplined him for being late for classes despite his explanation that his pregnant wife was undergoing complications. The baby eventually died. And Interac said they would not be renewing his contract. Read on. Suggest the labor unions be informed of this.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2993

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    11) Friend requests advice on how to approach JHS PTA, regarding repainting rundown school

    Dear Debito.org: I’m looking for advice here. I went to my child’s JHS today for about the 4th time in the last year. Again I was struck and depressed by how dingy it looked. It got me to thinking that the kids don’t take pride in the place and this leads to and has led to a lot of serious problems.

    I came home and wrote the following and am wondering if it or I can do any good. Can I translate this and say this, to the School and Principal? to the School Board?, to the Mayor?, publicly to the PTA at their general meeting in 2 weeks? Is it too rude? Could you say it more diplomatically? How? Would you? Could you? Does it have a chance of succeeding?

    Please feel free to comment on any one of the paragraphs numbered below.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2939

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    12) Filmmaker requests interviewees for documentary on NJ visa overstayers

    Adrian Francis: I am an Australian documentary filmmaker living in Tokyo. I am currently researching a documentary about illegal workers in Japan. Their plight has been in the spotlight in recent months due to the Calderon family case, and more generally, against a background debate about the role of immigration in present and future Japan. Like the Calderons, many illegal workers in Japan are important contributors to this country, but are not acknowledged as such by the police, a sensationalist media, or official government policy. My aim is to make a film that can give illegal workers themselves some kind of voice in a public discussion about their role.

    At this stage I’m thinking purely in terms of research. I understand that this is a highly sensitive topic, and for the people themsleves it could potentially involve deportation or incarceration. If you, or someone you know is in this situation, I would very much like to hear about your/their experiences. I would be happy to communicate in any form that is most comfortable – email, phone, or in person.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3027

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    … and finally…
    13) Sapporo Screening of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES Thurs Apr 23 7PM HIBA

    More on how to get there and what the movie is about at
    http://www.debito.org/?page_id=1672

    To whet your appetite:

    14) Japan Times on Tokyo Takadanobaba SOUR STRAWBERRIES screening

    Japan Times review: The plight of foreign “trainees” in Japan, who often provide cheap labor at factories and in farm fields with no access to labor rights protection, is usually not something you discuss leisurely over a cup of coffee or a mug of beer. But people who showed up last month at Ben’s Cafe in Tokyo had an opportunity to do just that at the screening of a German-Japanese collaboration, the documentary film “Sour Strawberries.”

    Tensions rise toward the end of the film, when Chinese trainees who sought help from a labor union are forcibly taken to Narita airport to be sent back to their countries.

    The subsequent scuffle — between the workers and the private security guards hired by the employer — was videotaped by union officials and provided to the filmmakers to be incorporated into the film. Another highlight is where Arudou takes the film crew to Kabukicho — Tokyo’s night-life mecca in Shinjuku — for a showdown with officials from a nightclub with a sign out front saying “Japanese only.”…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2988

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    All for today! Thanks for reading! If you’d like to come speak somewhere near you, please be in touch via debito@debito.org. Planning another nationwide tour of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES late-Aug, early-Sept this year. Dates already booked: Okayama (Aug 30), Tokyo (Sept 10 and 12).

    Arudou Debito
    Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 19, 2009 ENDS

    One Response to “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 19, 2009”

    1. Tornadoes28 Says:

      Regarding Japan’s two lost decades, I think the biggest problem is Japan’s national debt. Huge government debt is probably the single biggest drag on an nations economy. If people think America as a national debt problem, they should look at Japan. Japan’s national debt per capita is now almost twice as large as America’s. For this reason, Japan is in serious long-term trouble.

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