DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 14, 2007

mytest

Morning everyone:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 14, 2007

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1) ANSWER FROM ALEX KERR re HIS JAPAN TIMES COMMENTS
2) TAKAHASHI SPEECH ON REMILITARIZING JAPAN AT U OF CHICAGO
3) LATEST CRAZINESS FROM J JUDICIARY: SURROGATE MOTHERHOOD
4) NATURALIZED KOREAN-J RUNS FOR OSAKA PREF ASSEMBLY
5) PROTEST RE LABOR BILL: COMPANIES MUST REPORT THEIR FOREIGN WORKERS
6) SUCCESSFUL PROTEST: CHANGING “TORUKO” TO “SOAPLAND”
7) JAPAN TIMES: SHIGA GOVERNOR BACKS ANTI-DISCRIM LAW

and finally…
NORTHERN TERRITORIES DISPUTE… OVER A CASE OF BEER
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By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan

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1) ANSWER FROM ALEX KERR RE HIS JAPAN TIMES COMMENTS

I wrote last newsletter (http://www.debito.org/?p=321) about DOGS AND DEMONS author Alex Kerr’s rather dismissive comments in the Japan Times a while back, re the methods people (particularly me) utilize to raise issues in Japan. They weren’t The Japanese Way, in his view. Then a bowdlerized version of his comments were used in Wikipedia’s Arudou Debito entry. Matt Dioguardi then provided historical context to show that the trend of silencing the minority voice through ideological social othering is a timeworn tactic (not that Alex was consciously aiming to do that).

Within 24 hours, Alex commented back:

============ ALEX’S RESPONSE =================
April 7, 2007 8:41:47 PM JST
Dear Debito, Alex Kerr here. I see that there has been some discussion in your newsletter about my Japan Times interview of Oct 2005. It goes to show that you can never be too careful about what you say, because it lives on for years, and can even reappear and be enshrined (in distorted form) on Wikipedia.

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that in the meantime I’ve become quite an admirer of yours — to the extent that I’m a regular reader of your newsletter, and have recommended it to many friends. As you can see from the original Japan Times interview, my take even at that time was basically favorable. Since then I’ve learned more about what you do, and I’m greatly impressed by the thoroughness with which you approach the various gaijin and racism issues in Japan. Among other things, your newsletter is a goldmine of information, which is why I’ve become an avid reader.

I must admit that I began by feeling not very comfortable with your approach — but this could be due to personal circumstances and preferences. I understand that you are doing things in the Japanese way in the sense that you pursue official legal and social channels. At the same time, your style is undoubtedly combative: confronting people with what they are doing and facing them with the consequences.

It’s the not way I work personally, and my own experience is that the Japanese have welcomed and accepted the very critical things I say because my style is to speak quietly, from “within”. However, this is appropriate to my work, which is mostly in the field of traditional culture, tourism, city planning, and the environment. Those are fields in which the classic Japanese low-key and sympathetic attitude works.

But given the field which is your specialty, there is no doubt that a stronger, more direct approach is appropriate. You are bringing these issues into consciousness in the media and among society at large in a way that the traditional quiet approach could never succeed in doing. Otherwise, what you have to say would disappear in the usual muffled silence that surrounds these issues in Japan.

It’s proof that there is no one way to do things. For me, the old-style Japanese way works. For you, there’s a different way — and I respect that.

As I understand it, anyone can write in and edit a Wikipedia entry. So I suggest that you, or a friend of yours, amend that Wikipedia article to indicate that I wholly support your activities and your methods. I think I speak for many foreigners resident in Japan when I say that I feel very grateful that you’re out there paying attention. Best wishes, Alex
============ RESPONSE ENDS =================

Somebody then altered Wikipedia to reflect this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arudou_Debito). Thanks to Alex for commenting so quickly, thoroughly, and positively.

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2) TAKAHASHI SPEECH ON REMILITARIZING JAPAN AT U OF CHICAGO

Great speech (available as a podcast from the link below) from the University of Chicago’s International and Area Studies Multimedia Outreach Service (CHIASMOS). (Thanks to Fiona for notifying me):

==================================
“Postwar Japan on the Brink: Militarism, Colonialism, Yasukuni Shrine”
by Professor Tetsuya Takahashi, University of Tokyo

March 6, 2007

Professor Takahashi’s writings, including his 2005 bestseller, The Yasukuni Issue, make unmistakably clear that the role of the Shrine is antithetical to democratic values in Japan and to reconciliation with Asia, which requires acknowledgment of the harms inflicted through colonialism and war. The subject of his lecture is Japan at a crossroads today, its hard-won postwar democratic values at stake as never before.
==================================

Available as a podcast and/or video at:
http://chiasmos.uchicago.edu/events/takahashi.shtml

Delivered in Japanese, with excellent translation by Dr. Norma Field (author, “In the Realm of a Dying Emperor”, http://ealc.uchicago.edu/faculty/field.shtml), there are no excuses for not listening on either side of the linguistic fence!

EXCERPT (minute 120):
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“At the outset of my talk, I referred to the Tomita Memorandum as having been used by those who wanted to criticize the Prime Minister’s official visits to Yasukuni Shrine. However, I think that in the medium future, it is possible that that memorandum could be used in the opposite way–i.e. to clear the way for official visits by the Emperor himself. This past summer, in 2006, Foreign Minister Aso, an extremely influential politician, proposed that in order to revive the path for Imperial worship, the [Yasukuni] Shrine should be nationalized again. Such a proposal by such an influential politician is one we can not afford to overlook.

“It is the case that between 1969 and 1974, the LDP proposed legislation that would remove Yasukuni Shrine from its non-special status and make it again subject to State support. However, in that period, from 1969 to 1974, there was too strong a worry that this would lead to the revival of militarism, and this legislation was not enacted. However, now, thirty years later, influential politicians in the LDP are stating that the State should remove, according to its own judgment, the Class-A War Criminals from Yasukuni Shrine, secure the understanding of China and Korea, and then make it possible to nationalize Yasukuni Shrine, make it possible for Yasukuni Shrine to have regular visits from the Prime Minister and the Emperor.

“I think that what I laid out earlier is that Triadic System stands a very good chance of being revived now. Namely, with the revision of Article 9, and the establishment of a force that is openly recognized to be an army, with the revision of the Fundamental Law of Education already effected in December of 2006 building in patriotic education. And then, the possibility of nationalizing Yasukuni Shrine–so that if there are deaths on the battlefield that occur, given the newly-established army, then these people will be enshrined in the national shrine and honored by the Prime Minister and the Emperor.

“I hope that you can understand now why I cannot accept that the problem of Article 9 is merely a problem with the Class-A War Criminals. I should have added that all these things could be happening according to this scenario with no objections coming from China and Korea*because the Class-A War Criminals have been disposed of.”
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(Transcript by Arudou Debito)

Very eye-opening talk, and well worth the listen during your commute to work. I’ve been in touch with Dr Field since, and feel a very verdant shade of envy over her translation abilities!

Shifting gears from sense to nonsense:

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3) LATEST CRAZINESS FROM J JUDICIARY: SURROGATE MOTHERHOOD

In his fascinating new JAPAN LAW blog (http://www.redhead.jp/japanlaw) by friend Joe Jones, charting developments which interest the foreign lawyer (gaiben) community, we have yet another facet of Japanese citizenship up for dispute:

The trend for infertile couples to seek Surrogate Mothers (i.e., and at the risk of sounding a bit crass: borrowing another woman’s womb to bring a child to term after in vitro fertilization and surgical impregnation).

Japan’s Supreme Court recently ruled that the woman giving birth, not the woman who contributed her DNA, is to be recognized as the legal mother. Now throw in the new question of paternity (“he’s my dad, but she’s not my mom… er, what?”) and you have yet another forehead-slapper from our ever-sagacious judiciary.

Defeats the whole purpose of Surrogate Motherhood, in my view, and throws in extra monkey wrenches should Japanese wish to use extranational surrogates to help with Japan’s low birthrate. (This is precisely what happened; see article from China Post below.)

The Japanese government (and the popular public) has long had the unofficial attitude that the uterus is the Property of the State, not the property of the mother (shikyuu (or hara) wa karimono) (See “WOMENSWORD” by Kittredge Cherry, p 87-88). So I guess this is the next logical extension.

I initially blogged this even though it is not really a “foreigner issue” (except to say people had better not outsource overseas if they want their babies to have Japanese nationality, let alone legal ties to mom).

But then something happened on April 11 which made it *precisely* a foreigner issue. More after Joe’s report…

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SURROGATE CHILDREN ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE SURROGATE
Posted by Joe Jones April 3, 2007

The Supreme Court ruled on March 24 that children born to a surrogate mother are not legally the children of their biological parents. The Court came to this conclusion based on the Civil Code provision (art. 772) that maternity is recognized by giving birth to the child. The Court also deemed that enforcing a US court order which reached the opposite conclusion would violate public policy. This overturns a Tokyo High Court ruling passed down in October, which recognized the parental rights of the biological parents.

The story here is not that the Supreme Court is against surrogate parents. Rather, they give priority to strict construction of the Civil Code, which was drafted long before surrogate parenting was on the horizon. This viewpoint almost invites the Diet to pass a new statute to fill out this hole–an especially likely proposition when you consider that the mother of these children is a TV personality who will probably push for public support. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is being characteristically mum about the whole thing, however, so this may require more publicity before it moves forward.

Why not adopt? For one thing, the children’s “natural mother” would forever be recorded in the family’s koseki (family register), the document which evidences their relationship. Paternity may be an interesting issue as well. Under the Civil Code, there is a presumption that a child was sired by the husband of its mother. The mother’s husband may disavow paternity, and another man may claim paternity, but either claim must go through the Family Court, one of Japan’s more well-traveled bureaucratic nightmares. Until the paternity of the biological father is established, the children may not even be construed as Japanese citizens.

See PDF of the decision at
http://www.redhead.jp/japanlaw/2007/04/03/surrogate-children-are-the-children-of-the-surrogate/
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JAPAN COURT REJECTS SURROGATE TWINS
The China Post 2007/3/24

By Carl Freire TOKYO, AP
http://www.chinapost.com.tw/news/archives/asiapacific/2007324/105406.htm

…The nation’s top court struck down a September 2006 Tokyo High Court decision ordering a local government to accept Aki Mukai, a television personality, and her husband Nobuhiko Takada’s registration of their two boys…

The Supreme Court cited in its decision a Japanese law that presumes the woman who gives birth to a child is its mother.

…Mukai can no longer have children of her own after undergoing a hysterectomy because of cancer.

Friday’s ruling upheld a November 2005 Tokyo Family Court verdict that found in favor of the local government’s decision to reject their registration request. Local authorities had refused to register the twins because the Justice Ministry said Mukai could not be recognized as the boys’ mother…

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the case highlighted the need for discussion and debate. “How we should think about the parent-child relationship is a fundamental problem for us as human beings,” Abe told reporters Friday evening.
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ENDS

Then on April 12, 2007, TV show Tokudane did a long report on Mukai and Takada:

They refused to file paperwork to acknowledge the paternity of husband Takada over their two children within a deadline, which was April 12. Because, according to the show:

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1) The mother of the children would be listed as “Cindy” (the surrogate), not Mukai Aki.
2) “Cindy” legally relinquished all ties to the children, and a Nevada court established the full parentage of Mukai and Takada over the twins.
3) They promised both Cindy and the courts that “Cindy” would be fully left out of future proceedings.
4) The inability of Japanese courts to uphold Nevada court rulings and birth certificates (based upon Meiji-Era laws which are based upon ancient ways of establishing parentage–since modern methods, such as DNA testing, didn’t exist) would make registering “Cindy” an illegal act (in Nevada), and the breaking of a promise made to her.

———————————————-

Meaning that now Mukai and Takada are the proud parents of two American (and only American) citizens, since the courts have refused Mukai maternity status, and there is no other way to establish citizenship (except by legal adoption–which will still not resolve the problem of listing the surrogate mother) through the Koseki system. As the show pointed out, this means:

———————————————-
1) The children (now three years old) must get visas, and keep renewing them.
2) The children must register as foreigners, and carry Gaijin Cards 24-7, or face criminal charges, once they reach Junior-High age.
3) The children have no automatic right to compulsory education (gimu kyouiku), guaranteed only to citizens in Japan.
4) The children cannot vote.
5) The children cannot participate in the democratic process.
6) The children have no automatic inheritance rights (short of the parents writing a Will).

———————————————-

Now my opinion: I’m very proud of Mukai and Takada standing up for themselves like this. The ruling is ludicrous. And it may inspire lawmakers to update the citizenship laws to reflect modern realities.

Moreover, this case (attracting great attention due to the couple’s celebrity status) might even point out what a raw deal foreigners have in Japan (particularly regarding education and inheritance), even if they ARE born here.

SOME REFERENTIAL LINKS ON THE CASE:

Japan Times Saturday, March 24, 2007. “Top court: No registry for pair born to surrogate”
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070324a3.html

Japan Times Wednesday, Apr. 4, 2007. “READERS IN COUNCIL Shoddy ruling on baby twins”
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/rc20070404a4.html

Tokyo High Court’s reasoning in 2005 when rejecting Mukai and Takada’s case (basing it more upon public morals than maternity issues):
Japan Times: Tuesday, May 24, 2005 “High court rejects registering babies by surrogate mother”:

Presiding Judge Sota Tanaka of the Osaka High Court: “Surrogate birth poses a serious humanitarian concern as it treats a person as a reproductive tool and causes danger to a third person through pregnancy and giving birth. The contract for such surrogate births violates public order and morals and is invalid, as it could cause a serious feud over the child.”
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/nn20050524a5.html

The Nanny State, which refuses to believe that individuals can contract between themselves and decide their own best interests (even when it comes to reproductive rights), strikes again.

Now for a follow-up to last Sunday’s election:

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4) NATURALIZED KOREAN-J RUNS FOR OSAKA PREF ASSEMBLY

Here’s a campaign I was not aware of (again, Sapporo is a long, long way from Tokyo and Osaka): A naturalized Korean-Japanese’s campaign for a prefectural seat in Osaka, campaigning his Korean roots overtly.

I’m not going to spoil the surprise and tell you how it turned out until the end of the article…

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FOREIGN VOICE
Asahi Shinbun 04/06/2007

By Hiroshi Matsubara, Staff writer
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200704060113.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=338

TAKATSUKI, Osaka Prefecture: Lee Kyung Jae has repeatedly urged Korean children in Japan to cherish their ethnic roots. He has arranged festivals that promote Korean culture and long battled discrimination directed at Korean communities.

But to take his efforts to the next level, Lee, a 53-year-old second-generation Korean resident of Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, did what had been considered unthinkable: He gave up his long-cherished Korean nationality.

Members of Korean communities have argued that one’s nationality is essential to their identities. Yet when they seek voting rights for foreign residents in Japan, they are met with the legal provision that only Japanese citizens can cast ballots.

So Lee and others decided to take an ironic method. They obtained Japanese nationality to bring the voices of foreign residents to local and national politics.

“As I have spent all my life as a minority, I am keenly aware of the rights of the elderly, the disabled and others who are regarded as socially weak,” he told passers-by at JR Settsu-Tonda Station recently.

“I would like to ask voters to sympathize with the sentiments of foreign residents and allow me to become the first Korean-Japanese assembly member in Osaka,” he said…

He is the first candidate of foreign origin who has run in a local or national election on a campaign to represent the interests of an ethnic group, according to the Korean Residents’ Union in Japan (Mindan)….

After graduating from high school, Lee set up a citizens group to teach Korean children about their ethnic roots and to organize cultural festivals. He was also involved in human rights movements for non-Japanese, including the campaign aimed at abolishing the mandatory fingerprinting of foreigners for their alien registration.

In addition, he has joined the movement for foreign residents’ suffrage in local elections since the early 1990s.

Although Lee has won praise for his work, his campaign faces a serious problem: Many members of his main support base are not allowed to vote.

At the end of 2005, Osaka had 142,712 people with Korean nationalities, or 24 percent of 598,687 Koreans nationwide.

Lee is now counting on Koreans who have obtained Japanese nationality, whose number may exceed those who have maintained their Korean nationalities.

“Many ethnic Koreans apparently opt to live as Japanese by hiding their ethnic origins, and I hope my campaign will be an opportunity for them to solidify their ethnic identity or to openly express it to their Japanese neighbors,” Lee said….

Lee estimates that his electoral district of Takatsuki and the town of Shimamoto have several thousand Korean-Japanese who are eligible to vote. He said he will need about 13,000 votes to win a seat on the prefectural assembly. That means he needs votes from the Japanese as well…

“But even if my campaign ends in failure, I hope it will encourage future generations to aspire to become political representatives of their ethnic group.”

During a preliminary campaign for the Upper House election in July, Kim Jeong Ok, a second-generation Korean in Tokyo, recently visited local chapters of Mindan. He asked Mindan members to collect votes from Japanese members of their families, as well as neighbors and ethnic Koreans who have obtained Japanese nationality.

“I decided to run for the election because the relatively homogeneous composition of the Diet is the primary cause of the rapid nationalistic swing of politics today,” Kim, 51, said.

Kim, who works at a nonprofit organization that supports disabled people, obtained Japanese nationality in December 2005 in a bid to campaign in the Upper House election. He will run on the ticket of opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) in the proportional representation part of the election.

But Kim said his campaign will not be easy. Even his relatives, including five siblings, who use Japanese names will not openly support him for fear of revealing their ethnicity…. (IHT/Asahi: April 6,2007) ENDS
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ELECTION RESULTS:
Mr Lee lost. Badly. There were five seats to fill, six candidates. Here are the numbers, courtesy of the Osaka Prefectural Election Admin Committee:

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LDP YOSHIDA Toshiyuki 30,385 votes
Komei HAYASHI Kenji 27,921
DPJ OHMAE Hideyo 26,980
JCP MIYAHARA Takeshi 20,342
SDP OZAWA Fukuko 19,475
Unaffiliated I Kyon Je (LEE Kyung Jae) 2,543

TOTAL 127,646 votes
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He’s at the bottom. Not even close. Ouch.

Rumor had it (from–where else–2-channel etc.) that he wanted to discriminate against Japanese after he got elected (“nan to shite mo Nihonjin o sabetsu shite shinitai”).
http://www.osaka-minkoku.info/news/20070409-1068.htm
Hard to believe he would be so stupid to say something like that.

But I can’t seem to find a website dedicated to his campaign telling his own story and combatting this smear campaign. That’s pretty odd too.

Matt Dioguardi did find more sites (with his last name rendered in kanji as “LEE”, not hiragana “I”) with the possible speech taken out of context:
http://www.debito.org/?p=338#comment-15197

But since image is everything in these sorts of things, Mr Lee should have done something to make it easier for casual or harried researchers to hear his side. Pity. Anyway, thanks for trying.

Now then, let’s shift focus to two protests done by minorities in Japan, one in progress, one that worked:

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5) PROTEST RE LABOR BILL: COMPANIES MUST REPORT THEIR FOREIGN WORKERS

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ASSEMBLY TO PROTEST PROPOSED LAW REVISION
TO MAKE OBLIGATORY CORPORATE REPORTING OF FOREIGN WORKERS
Asahi Shinbun April 10, 2007

(Translated by Arudou Debito, original Japanese at
http://www.debito.org/?p=339

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.
ENDS
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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):
http://www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net/Japanese/Japanese.html
(see the first article dated March 23, 2007)

The point is, people do protest these things. They just don’t get sufficient coverage. Likewise the following, from the Mainichi talking about a man who apparently single-handedly got the word “Toruko” (Turkish bath) signs removed from what are now “Soaplands” etc. (places which offer deluxe massages, if you will):

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6) SUCCESSFUL PROTEST: CHANGING “TORUKO” TO “SOAPLAND”

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PERSONALITY PROFILE:
MR NUSRET SANCAKLI, THE PERSON WHO GOT “TORUKO” (TURK) REMOVED FROM “SOAPLANDS”

Mainichi Shinbun, March 7, 2007. Translated by Arudou Debito. Original Japanese at
http://www.mainichi-msn.co.jp/shakai/wadai/news/20070407k0000m070152000c.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=322

…It was 1981 when Mr Sancakli came to Japan from Turkey [rendered in Japanese as “Toruko”] as an exchange student to study earthquakes, and had been here about six months. In the evening twilight he saw a place named after his home country and went to investigate.

“We got a gaijin here,” he heard from inside, and several women in their undergarments appeared. [It was a brothel.] He couldn’t understand how this country he loved and his home country could have gone so far off track. He thought about his 19-year-old wife, Hadie, who had also accompanied him to Japan, and locked his feelings deep inside.

But one day, when he and his wife on the way home by subway, an elderly woman asked where they were from. She was still a bit rusty in Japanese, so she answered, “I go to Toruko with him”. The old women began to shake and blush, to Mrs Sancakli’s embarrassment. So he explained to his wife for the first time what “Toruko” meant in Japan: “Turkish baths”*with sexual services.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” she said over and over, and said she wanted to go back home to Turkey. So Sancakli said , “If it’s the last thing I do, I promise you I’ll get ‘Toruko’ off those signs.”

He came back to Japan in the summer of 1984. He went on a pilgrimage to tell politicians and the media what a “hammam”, a real Turkish bath, was like. There were instant repercussions, and within a few months all “Toruko” signs were gone [and changed into “Soaplands”]….
ENDS
=========================

Essentially, the article depicts Mr Sancakli as a man motivated by shame and love of his wife, country, and Japan. Fine. But somehow I don’t think it’s so simple that he spoke to some media and politicians and they automatically saw the error of their ways–and within a few months got “Toruko” nationwide to change their signs at their own expense.

Call me cynical, but it’s gotta be a little more behind it than that. A bit of pressure from the Turkish government, perhaps? Anybody out there know? Wish the article had bothered to tell us.

What old friend Wikipedia has to say (in a surprisingly thorough entry from people in the field):

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Soaplands were originally called toruko-buro meaning Turkish bath. A Turkish scholar, Nusret Sancakli, set off on a newspaper campaign to denounce Japan’s Turkish girls and the so-called Turkish baths they worked in,”[2] and the word “soapland” was the winning entry in a nationwide contest to rename the brothels.[3]

Footnotes: Peter Constantine, Japan’s Sex Trade: A Journey Through Japan’s Erotic Subcultures, (Tokyo: Yenbooks, 1993), 37-8.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soapland
=========================

Anyway, I offer this up to show that once again, it is possible for one person to make a difference. Well done, Mr Sancakli.

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7) JAPAN TIMES: SHIGA GOVERNOR BACKS ANTI-DISCRIM LAW

Sorry to be months late on this one: A Japan Times article from last August I missed because I was doing one of my cycletreks around Hokkaido. Better late than never.

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SHIGA GOVERNOR BACKS ANTIDISCRIMINATION LAW
The Japan Times Thursday, Aug. 24, 2006

By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20060824a2.html
Courtesy of The Community and Steve Silver

OSAKA: Shiga Gov. Yukiko Kada said Wednesday [August 23, 2006] she generally supports the creation of a national law to ban racial discrimination.

“Yes, at first glance, I support such a law,” Kada said. “But Shiga Prefecture still needs more hard data on the condition of foreign residents before deciding what policies to support.”

In May, nearly 80 human rights groups around Japan, and the United Nations, urged the country to enact legislation to guarantee the rights of foreigners and to show people thinking of moving here that the government will protect their legal rights.

However, many people in the central government and business who are pushing for more foreign labor oppose legislating against discrimination. Some say it would be better to change the attitude of society to be more tolerant of foreigners…

Shiga has about 30,000 foreigners, including about 14,000 Japanese- Brazilians. In the Kansai region, it has the largest ratio of foreign residents who have moved there in the last two decades to Japanese. Many of them came to work in auto-parts factories.

“Compared with Gunma and Shizuoka prefectures, which also have large populations of Japanese-Brazilians, the debates and policy measures for integrating foreigners into the community have not advanced very far in Shiga,” she said.
ENDS
==============================

Point is, there are indeed people in the government, particularly at the local level, who see sense and speak it: Japan needs a law to ban racial and other forms of discrimination. They are doing things in their own way which shouldn’t be overlooked.

As I have written before, some local governments are abolishing the “Nationality Clause”. Tottori Prefecture even passed its own anti-discrimination law (before it was UNpassed months later). Several city governments around Gifu and Shizuoka Prefectures themselves have been working since 2001 (starting from a signed declaration called the Hamamatsu Sengen) to get the national government to take specific measures to secure better systems re education, social security, and registration for their NJ residents. (Links to dedicated websites on these events from http://www.debito.org/?p=323)

Even though the mayor of Hamamatsu (Mr Kitawaki) recently lost his seat, a student friend of mine offered this brief comment:

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“I don’t know what Kitawaki’s replacement will mean for Hamamatsu in particular, but the gaikokujin shuujuutoshi kaigi seems pretty well institutionalized by now. More and more cities are joining in making appeals to the central government–I think the count is up to 18 cities now. And I think next year the leadership goes to Minokamo-shi in Gifu prefecture, where the mayor is fairly dedicated to foreigner policies. Will keep you updated when I hear more and write all of this down.”
==============================

An aside: Notice how the JT article mentions the typical “chicken-and-egg” arguments which keep derailing the debate: Change society before changing the law.

Sort of like asking rapists and stalkers nicely to desist their naughtiness before you pass a law against rape and stalking.

It’s preposterous, but, I might add, historically not unique to Japan. Read some of the arguments raised in the Lincoln-Douglas Slavery Debates of 1858 (http://www.nps.gov/archive/liho/debates.htm) or by the US South supporting segregation in the 1950s, and you’ll see remarkable similarities in the points raised by people on the wrong side of history.

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and finally…
NORTHERN TERRITORIES DISPUTE… OVER A CASE OF BEER

Finishing up with some humor. Nothing like a little casual illegal entry to help make one of the world’s disputed borders (the Northern Territories, islands seized by USSR at the end of WWII and reason why there is no peace treaty to this day (only an armistice) between Japan and Russia) more disputed.

Especially when Russian news agency TASS reports that it’s over a case of beer.

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RUSSIAN FISHERMEN DROPPING INTO JAPAN TO BUY BEER DETAINED
ITAR-TASS 08.04.2007, 06.20

http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=11413576&PageNum=0

TOKYO, April 8 (Itar-Tass): A Russian fisherman catching sea urchins decided to “drop into” Japan quickly to buy beer and was arrested on Saturday for illegally entering the country.

The incident took place in Nemuro on the eastern coast of Hokkaido close to the Southern Kuriles.

The Japanese police said, referring to the detained man’s words, that he together with his colleagues fished near the Southern Kuriles. While his fellow fishermen picked sea urchins from the seabed, the 29-year-old man decided to quickly go on a rubber pneumatic boat with an engine to Nemuro to buy beer. He presented a 10,000-yen bill (about 83 dollars) and bought a box of bottles of beer.

However, members of a local fishing cooperative informed police about the suspicious boat, and the police thwarted the attempt of the man, who had no documents to enter Japan, to leave Nemuro.

The man was arrested at 11:48 local time (06:48 Moscow time), about an hour after he reached the coast. He remained in the police office in Nemuro. The police suppose the fisherman had no bad intentions, but say he had alcohol smell.

Japanese authorities informed the Vladivostok sea rescue centre that the detained person was a crewmember from a Russian schooner. Supposedly, the vessel is from the Sakhalin port of Nevelsk.

The Nemuro police do not remember such incidents happening ever before. At the same time, 30 years ago, in 1977, Soviet border guards detained a Japanese who managed to swim to Signalny Island that is within the territory claimed by Japan.
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Thanks to http://www.fuckedgaijin.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17556

And as the posters of this site poignantly ask, whatever happened to the beer?

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All for now. Thanks for reading!

Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FOR APRIL 14, 2007 ENDS

One comment on “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 14, 2007

  • im not so sure if mr sancakli of turkey waa very successful in his struggle of changing thev toruko buro to souapland becasue i saw that sign in oiihiro hokkaido and it was the same signs ezcept it was not Toruko buro but Koruto to buro meaning the wrote the words of トルコ ぶろ AS コルト びろ . to ru ko as ko ru to, not much change i guess !

    Reply

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