Posted by debito on May 9th, 2007
Hi Blog. Here’s another article outlining the social damage created by Japan’s close-to-a-decade (since April 2000, see my book JAPANESE ONLY) of media, police, and governmental targeting of NJ as agents of crime and social instability: Even when the press finally decides to turn down the heat, the public has a hard time getting over it.
More on the history of the GOJ’s anti-foreign campaigns starting from:
One more stat from the article below:
“On average, foreigners are paid around 15,000 US dollars annually, almost half the minimum considered necessary to live in this country.”
Hope to see this substantiated more fully elsewhere so we can cite it in future. That’s quite a bellwether wage differential.
Debito in Sapporo
Xenophobia May Hamper Economic Growth
By Suvendrini Kakuchi
Inter Press Service News Agency, May 8, 2007
Courtesy of Hans ter Horst
TOKYO, Apr 30 (IPS) – Junko Nakayama, 56, refuses to believe that the number of foreigners arrested for crimes is decreasing as per statistics released by the National Policy Agency.
”There are an increasing number of foreigners, mostly Asian, in the area where I live and they look menacing. I am now very nervous when I walk back home from the train station in the evening,” she says.
Nakayama, who works in an international company, is not alone. Surveys indicate that more Japanese — over 70 percent in a poll — believe that the influx of foreigners into Japan is posing a threat to the country’s famed domestic peace. The notion is fuelled, say activists, by sensationalism in the media over crimes committed by overseas workers.
Accepting foreign migrant workers and treating them equally has been a long simmering debate in Japan where pride in national homogeneity is deep-rooted.
Says Nobushita Yaegashi at Kalaba No Kai, a leading grass roots group helping foreign labour: �-?’Despite new steps to allow foreign workers into Japan, they are viewed as cheap labour not as individuals who have the right to settle down and make a life in Japan. This policy reveals Japan’s xenophobia and is represented in the media.”
The debate over foreigners and crime was highlighted in January when prosecutors in San Paulo, Brazil, charged Milton Noboru Higaki, a former Brazilian worker in Japan, with professional negligence in a hit-and-run case in 1999.
Higaki, a Brazilian of Japanese descent, fled to Brazil four days after the incident that killed a high school girl Mayumi Ochiai, then 16. Her parents then pursued Higaki in his home country in a case that hailed in Japan as a step forward in ensuring judicial accountability of foreigners. Brazil and Japan have no extradition accord and Brazil’s laws forbid the handover of its nationals to foreign countries.
In 2005, Chinese nationals topped the list of foreigners arrested for crime. Nikkei, or second and third generation, Brazilians came next. According to justice ministry figures there are 320,000 of Nikkei living in Japan, working mostly in factories.
�-?The Yomiuri’, Japan’s largest daily, commented on Feb. 17 in an editorial titled �-?Fleeing foreign criminals should be tried in Japan’, said �-?’crimes committed by foreign residents is a serious problem”. The editorial called for a “stringent stance by the Japanese authorities in not allowing foreign criminals to escape punishment.”
But Yasuko Morioka, a human rights attorney, says the media would have done better to focus on the lack of laws to protect foreigners’ rights in Japan. �-?’There is no doubt that provision for access to professional interpretation, documents in their native language, and a legal hearing that considers the rights of foreign foreign workers is largely lacking in Japan,” she explained to IPS.
Morioka said there is no attempt to link crimes committed by Japanese-Brazilian workers to the abuses they suffer — poor working conditions, denial of education for children due to language barriers, discrimination and gross state negligence.
Japan is an attractive labour market for Asian and Latin American overseas workers given the high value of the Japanese yen. On average, foreigners are paid around 15,000 US dollars annually, almost half the minimum considered necessary to live in this country.
Eagerly sought after by small manufacturing companies and farms for cheap labour, they are considered essential to stay competitive against rapid globalisation.
Activists also say Japanese employers easily get away without paying compensation or providing relief when foreign employees are injured during work on the grounds of the lack of documented visas or access to an established system where workers can report this abuse.
Indeed, Higaki was quoted in the media as saying the reason why he fled was because he feared ‘discrimination’ as a foreigner in Japanese courts.
”The charge is understandable,” said Morioka, who is lobbying hard, with the Japan Lawyers Association, for the government to pass legislation that will guarantee the right of foreigners to be treated equally in the host country.
Experts warn that resistance to accepting migrant workers on an equal basis in Japan can result in a host of social problems that can only be blamed on government policies.
According to Hidenori Sakanaka, a former justice ministry official, Japanese companies are desperate to take in foreign workers to make up for a drastic population decline that can only worsen in the coming years.
Japan needs immigrant workers because its own population is both aging and declining. In 2005, deaths outnumbered births by 10,000. From 2006 onwards, the population was projected to dwindle steadily with some projections saying that Japan’s population, currently standing at 127 million, could dwindle to around 100 million by 2050. (FIN/2007)