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  • IPS: Xenophobia May Hamper Economic Growth

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, 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:

    http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#gaijinimages

    http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police

    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

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

    LABOUR-JAPAN:

    Xenophobia May Hamper Economic Growth

    By Suvendrini Kakuchi

    Inter Press Service News Agency, May 8, 2007

    http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=37549

    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)

    ENDS

    5 Responses to “IPS: Xenophobia May Hamper Economic Growth”

    1. Nikuashi Says:

      question: i have been studying the japanese language for about 13 years now, and i have compiled a large number of dictionaries both paper and electronic (not to mention the internet resources available) but i have only found one with a translation for the word “XENOPHOBIA”, 外国人恐怖症. i began to ask a few teachers last year, and i described what the term means but the few other teachers i asked didnt know of a translation. is there a more common, less medical sounding term to use in during race relations discussions? is it gramatically correct to say that an idea is 鎖国臭い?

      ———————————

      –NOWADAYS, IN THE NGO AND ACTIVIST COMMUNITIES, IT HAS BECOME POPULAR TO RENDER “XENOPHOBIA” IN THE KATAKANA–ゼノフォビア. IT CAME OUT AS SUCH IN MY COMPUTER’S KOTOERI PROGRAM WITHOUT PROBLEM, AND ALSO WAS JUST FOUND IN MY SEIKO ELECTRONIC COMPUTER (SR-T6500) IN THE “PERSONAL KATAKANA-GO JITEN”. IT IS A WORD, ALBEIT NOT IN AS COMMON USAGE AS MANY WOULD LIKE. NOT MUCH POINT IN ASKING OTHER TEACHERS IF THEY ARE NOT SPECIALISTS IN THE FIELD (AS IT IS STILL LARGELY A TECHNICAL TERM). THANKS FOR YOUR QUESTION. DEBITO

    2. Stories about foreigners and courts » Japan Law Blog Says:

      […] When you really DON’T want to go to court in Japan: “Prosecutors in Sao 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. … Higaki was quoted in the media as saying the reason why he fled was because he feared ‘discrimination’ as a foreigner in Japanese courts.” (more) A very valid concern. […]

    3. Turner Says:

      “On average, foreigners are paid around 15,000 US dollars annually, almost half the minimum considered necessary to live in this country.”

      I’m really ignorant on this one – just wanted to gather more information. The largest non-Asian minority in Japan is Brazilian, correct? What kind of jobs are they referring to for about 930 yen/hour?

      =======================
      –I ASKED THE AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE FOR MORE DETAILS ON THIS LAST NIGHT (SINCE SHE’S ON MY MAILING LISTS). THAT FIGURE SHOULD BE EVEN LOWER GIVEN HOW HIGH WAGES ARE FOR THE PRIVILEGED NON-JAPANESE WHO ARE ON EXPAT PACKAGES, DIPLOMATIC JUNKETS, AND IN THE FINANCIAL/LEGAL SERVICES. IF I GET AN ANSWER, I WILL LET MY MAILING LISTS/BLOG KNOW.

      AS FOR THE BRAZILIANS, PERUVIANS, CHINESE, ETC: THERE ARE PLENTY OF JOBS OUT THERE: AUTOMOTIVE (BRAZILIANS ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE KEPT TOYOTA COMPETITIVE ENOUGH TO RISE TO THE NUMBER TWO SLOT), REGULAR FACTORY WORK, YOU NAME IT. MORE ON THIS IN SHUUKAN DIAMONDO JUNE 5 2004, SCANNED AT
      http://www.debito.org/shuukandiamondo060504.html
      DEBITO IN SAPPORO

    4. debito Says:

      More on the Milton Higaki Case and its effects…

      Govt eyes Brazil extradition treaty
      Hiroaki Matsunaga / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent
      Yomiuri Shinbun Aug. 23, 2007

      http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20070823TDY02007.htm
      Courtesy of Michael H. Fox

      Visiting Foreign Minister Taro Aso and his Brazilian counterpart, Celso Amorim, on Tuesday agreed the two nations would set up a working panel to discuss concluding a bilateral treaty on extraditions and other related issues.

      The panel will comprise government officials in charge of judicial affairs, and the first meeting of section chief-level officials could be held in Tokyo as early as this autumn, sources said.

      The panel also will take up issues including international judicial assistance, which is expected to help expedite legal procedures both in civil and criminal cases, as well as the handover of criminals.

      With a growing number of Brazilian nationals living in Japan, the Japanese government is keen to improve legal mechanisms between the two nations.

      However, the Brazilian Constitution stipulates that, in principle, Brazilian nationals accused of a crime should not be extradited, a fact that some observers say could complicate negotiations.

      Currently, with no extradition treaty in place between the two countries, the Japanese government can only ask the Brazilian authorities to punish Brazilian nationals using domestic laws, even if they have committed a crime in Japan and then returned home.

      During a meeting with Amorim, Aso reportedly hailed the Brazilian government’s handling of Japan’s requests on these matters, saying, “We appreciate that the Brazilian government has responded promptly to Japan’s requests to punish [Brazilian offenders.]”

      Aso is said to have proposed the establishment of the working panel and Amorim accepted the proposal, according to the sources.

      Japan has signed extradition treaties with South Korea and the United States.

      As of 2006, 92 Brazilians believed to have committed crimes in Japan had fled overseas.

      In the case of a Japanese Brazilian [Milton Higaki] who allegedly killed a female high school student in a hit-and-run incident in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, in 1999, a trial was held in Brazil in February–the first of its kind–following demands by the Japanese government that he be arrested and tried.

      A body established by cities home to large Brazilian communities, such as Hamamatsu and Ota, Gunma Prefecture, and related support organizations, have called for the early signing of an extradition treaty between the two nations.

      ENDS

    5. Uchujin-The Blog | I Wear Black On The Outside. Says:

      […] Now that the narative is over , anyone who knows me will be expecting me to launch into a screaming rant on the topic of racism and xenophobia in Japan. […]

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