Asahi: SMJ protests proposed “compulsory reporting of foreign workers” bill


Hi Blog. I included this a part of my previous newsletter, but I’ve found that things tend to get buried in long posts if they don’t come out as individual blog entries (and it’s harder for people to comment and discuss). So here you go:

People often say that human rights are a low priority in Japan, or that the Japanese polity is docile with rare protest. This is completely false. You just don’t hear about it. And when you do in the major media, coverage can often be pretty shallow. Witness this:

Asahi Shinbun April 10, 2007

(Thanks to Mark Schreiber. Translated by Arudou Debito, original Japanese at

On April 10, civil rights groups, including “Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan” (Imin Roudousha to Rentai suru Zenkoku Network), convened an assembly at the Diet’s Upper House Kaikan in Nagatacho, Tokyo, to protest a proposed revision to the labor laws requiring all companies to report their foreign workers to the authorities.

The groups oppose the proposal out of concerns for potential privacy concerns and discrimination towards foreign workers.

The proposed revision expressly aims to improve the general employment situation, where foreigners are employed illegally or under horrendous conditions, to make clear the responsibility of the employer and create an appropriate administration of employment.

Up to now this reporting was optional. Making this obligatory with fines for all companies, the new system will be expanded to require workers’ names, ages, and visa status.

April 10’s assembly had the participation of human rights lawyers and foreign workers. By strengthening administrative powers, “This law will take away foreign laborers’ employment opportunities, and make discrimination a fixed practice,” they protested.

COMMENT: Based on this article alone, it’s hard for the reader to understand what SMJ is all up in arms about. They sound jinken baka (human-rights-oriented to a fault). Space concerns notwithstanding, I wish the reporter had given more depth to the counterarguments involved.

In SMJ’s own words (sorry, only in Japanese):
(see the first article dated March 23, 2007)

The point is, people do protest these things. And if the media paid more attention, so would the rest of Japan. Even the English version of the Asahi didn’t think this worthy of translation for the Anglophone community. Doing my best to rectify that at, Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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