DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 3 2007: SPECIAL ON THE BLAME GAME

mytest

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 3, 2007
SPECIAL REPORT: THE BLAME GAME
HOW JAPAN IS BLAMING FOREIGNERS FOR ITS OWN ILLS

By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
http://www.debito.org, debito@debito.org
Freely Forwardable

Hello All. It’s been a full month since my last newsletter (see why at http://www.debito.org/?p=457), and a lot of articles (I’m still blogging around one a day) have piled up at the Debito.org blog (http://www.debito.org/index.php). But there is a common thread within: How Japan is systematically blaming Non-Japanese (NJ) for any social problem it can, often for political gain.

This post is structured thus:

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) FANFARE FOR THE COMMON MAN
2) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR LABOR AND CRIME PROBLEMS
3) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR SCHOOL PROBLEMS
4) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR MILITARY PROBLEMS
5) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR SPORTS PROBLEMS
6) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR SHIPPING PROBLEMS
7) HOW THE GOJ INTENDS TO DEAL WITH IT:
RIOT POLICE, CHECKPOINT CHARLIE, AND SHORTENED VISAS

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

1) FANFARE FOR THE COMMON MAN
(Sung to the tune of “Blame Canada”, from the South Park Movie. Yes, I wrote it.)

Times have changed, don’t you see, Japan is getting worse
Sudden disagreements, to conflict we are adverse
What’s different from back then, to what we have today?
It’s Gaijin, they shouldn’t be in this country anyway!

Blame Foreigners, Blame Foreigners!
With those bulbous little noses, only take them in small doses
Blame Foreigners, Blame Foreigners!
Dye the aikokushin into our beautiful land.

Taking jobs that we don’t want, their stinky kids in schools
Marrying our military secrets, disobeying our vague rules
Outdoing us in our sports, crime is rife now if you please
Listen to Ishihara, time to call out the Riot Police!

Blame Foreigners, Blame Foreigners!
It seems that everything’s gone wrong since the Gaijin came along!
Blame Foreigners, Blame Foreigners!
We must blame them for our budgets
For all the tax monies that we can get!!

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

2) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR LABOR AND CRIME PROBLEMS

I’ve written at length (http://www.debito.org/?cat=16) on how Japan has been taking in huge numbers (now well over a million souls) of NJ workers to keep its factories from migrating overseas, due to the high cost of domestic labor. Now, surprise surprise, there are people who are unaccounted for both as overstayers and even escapees from a bad situation (i.e. GOJ rackets to bring them in as cheap, disposable labor)!

==================================
NEARLY 10,000 FOREIGNERS DISAPPEAR FROM JOB TRAINING SITES IN JAPAN 2002-2006
Japan Today/Kyodo News, Monday, July 2, 2007

http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/411066

TOKYO A total of 9,607 foreigners, mostly Asians, ran away from job training sites in Japan between 2002 and 2006 in an apparent attempt to look for better working conditions elsewhere, according to the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau…
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=475
==================================

==================================
IMMIGRANT WORKERS IN JAPAN CAUGHT IN A REAL RACKET
The Japan Times, Sunday, July 1, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20070701pb.html

The debate over whether Japan should allow foreign workers in to make up for current and future labor shortages is dominated by the so-called foreign trainee program, which is overseen by the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization (JITCO). The program is itself the subject of a debate, which boils down to the age-old Japanese dynamic of honne vs. tatemae.

The tatemae (given reason) of the program is to bring workers from developing countries to Japan to learn Japanese techniques that they can later put to use back home. The honne (real reason) of the program is to legally let small and medium Japanese companies import cheap labor. According to a recent series of articles in the Asahi Shimbun, the Japanese public for the most part still buys the tatemae explanation, even though the media has been reporting for years that many foreign trainees come to Japan for the express purpose of making money.

As with most controversies that don’t touch directly on the lives of average people, the only related news that makes an impression is the sensational kind…
http://www.debito.org/?p=475
==================================

And even when workers do escape the slums and poverty built into the visa system, this is what can happen:

==================================
RACISM SURFACES OVER BID BY FOREIGNER TO BUY LAND, SETTLE
06/29/2007 The Asahi Shinbun

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200706290148.html

FUKUROI, Shizuoka Prefecture Fearful that they would be inviting crime to their neighborhood, residents blocked an attempt by a Japanese-Brazilian man to buy land on which to build a house. The local regional legal affairs bureau said their actions constituted a “violation of human rights” and told the parties involved that if a similar situation occurred in the future they should handle it better…

One resident, citing a perception that Brazilians are prone to committing crimes, said, “I feared that something might happen.”… In the end, the man was forced to purchase property elsewhere…
http://www.debito.org/?p=465
==================================

That’s right–blame foreigners for their alleged crime, and prevent them from ever assimilating their way out of it.

More on Japan’s penchant for targeting and exaggerating NJ crime:
http://www.debito.org/opportunism.html
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police
http://www.debito.org/ishiharahikokusaika.html
http://www.debito.org/?cat=10

For example, look at the anti-crime flyer distributed June 2007 by Ikuno-ku Ward Office police and various crime-prevention dilettantes:
(Japanese original, visible at http://www.debito.org/?p=473)

==================================
HELP US STOP ILLEGAL LABOR AND FOREIGN OVERSTAYERS!

[Complete with images of Illegal overstayers, long-nosed fraudulent grooms, passport forgers, and illegal workers. All including blondies, of course.]

THESE DAYS WHERE FOREIGN CRIME IS RISING FAST

[Even though, according to the Mainichi Feb 9 2007, it’s dropping.
http://www.debito.org/?p=218
So is, according to Immigration, foreign overstaying.
http://www.debito.org/crimestats.html ]

CHECK THE STATUS OF RESIDENCE AND PERIOD OF STAY ON THEIR PASSPORTS, TO ENSURE YOU EMPLOY A FOREIGNER PROPERLY!!

THERE WILL BE PENALTIES FOR EMPLOYERS WHO EMPLOY FOREIGNERS NOT PERMITTED TO WORK, AS WELL AS THOSE WHO ACT AS INTERMEDIARIES.

WE ASK YOU TO COOPERATE IN ORDER TO GIVE US A SAFE AND LIVABLE TOWN ENVIRONMENT WITHIN IKUNO-KU.

IKUNO SANGYOU ROUDOUSHA KOKUSAIKA TAISAKU RENRAKU KYOUGIKAI
OSAKA FU IKUNO POLICE STATION, CONTACT 06-6712-1234
==================================

Found on car windows in an area with a high Zainichi Korean population, this announcement is being distributed by the Ikuno Sangyoukai
http://www.ikuno.or.jp/1_1.htm Phone 06-6757-2551

Of course, the odd thing about this flyer is, as eruditely pointed out by Andrew at The Community:

==================================
I know this will probably sound obvious, but some of my concerns regarding the leaflets are:

— They are directed at employers. Passport forgery and bogus marriages, while illegal, are not something a potential employer can or should police. Any revised posters should not mention the other two offenses at all. They should merely remind employers that hiring foreign workers with inappropriate visa status is illegal and to check this status.

— The caricatures are racist and would be more appropriate in World War II propaganda. It also implies that all foreign nationals are physically distinguishable from the Japanese population, and furthermore hints that those with illegal status are readily identifiable. Lose them in any reprints.

— Again, as the leaflets are aimed at employers, statements of “rapidly rising foreigner crime” are irrelevant, not to mention highly questionable. Lose them.

Essentially, if it is necessary to alert businesses to the fact that hiring foreign workers without the correct visa status is a criminal act, fine. Just don’t try to use perceptions of crime by foreign nationals as justification.
==================================

Of course, as somebody else pointed out, how are you to trust NJ passports anymore when they too might be forgeries?

Anyway, any crackdown on this sort of thing should focus on the punishment towards the employer, not on the evils of the employee. It is not a Chicken-or-Egg situation. Japan’s factories are bringing and keeping NJ workers here in the first place, legally and illegally. But enforcing that would go against blaming the easier target of the disenfranchised…

Give the phone numbers in Ikuno-ku a call, see what’s on their mind. I dare ya. Meanwhile, let’s look at how the children of immigrants are being treated:

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

3) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR SCHOOL PROBLEMS

I mentioned in late May about the Hair Police found in Japan’s schools (http://www.debito.org/?p=412), and how they are allegedly forcing international students to dye their natural hair color to black.

Well, now according to Japan’s wild Weeklies, NJ are being disruptive of the natural ordeure as well:

==================================
TEACHERS CRYING FOUL OVER UNHYGIENIC KIDS
Mainichi Shinbun WAIWAI Page June 26, 2007, from Sunday Mainichi Issue Dated July 8, 2007

http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/waiwai/news/20070626p2g00m0dm005000c.html

Japanese schools are getting filled with more kids that stink, according to Sunday Mainichi (7/8). Growing disparity between the country’s haves and have-nots is believed to be behind the increase in unhygienic children.

But broken homes and the increasing number of foreigners in Japan are also being blamed…

“There seems to be a lot of trouble surrounding couples where an older Japanese man has married a young Southeast Asian woman who’s come to Japan to make some money,” an education insider says.

One teacher approached a Japanese father and spoke of how his wife, who worked as a nightclub hostess and saved whatever she could while living in squalor in Japan so she could build a palatial home in her native country. The teacher, pointing out that Japan is living through an age of internationalization, encouraged the father to help his child learn Tagalog, the native tongue of his mother’s homeland, the Philippines. The teacher was shocked by the father’s response.

“There’s no need to do that,” the teacher tells Sunday Mainichi the 60-something Japanese father said. “If Japan had won that war, they’d all (Filipinos) be speaking Japanese by now.”
http://www.debito.org/?p=458
==================================

That’s just about as convenient a rewriting of history as I’ve ever seen in Japan… And kudos to the anonymous “education insiders”, who pop up like troglodytes whenever somebody needs a nasty quote.

Speaking of international conquests:

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

4) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR MILITARY PROBLEMS

I had heard rumors of Japan’s Self Defense Forces’ disinclination towards NJ from cyberspace:

==================================
My current spouse is in the SDF and the other day I learned a very disturbing fact about the nature of our relationship… when he is on base and when he talks to his military associates I am Japanese.

The reason for this he says is a very old rule in the SDF that members are not allowed to fraternize with foreigners. Period. And that while the penalty for him is negligible (normal disciplinary action, which judging from the times he’s stayed over late and arrived late at base can’t be that bad) his violation of this rule could bring the military police to my doorstep for interrogation and a search and seizure of my electronic equipment. He believes it’s more doubtful as I’m non-Asian but says this has happened recently with the Chinese wives of SDF personnel….

This situation with him I find sadly comical. Already he has to keep large parts of his hobby at my house lest his superiors think he’s a communist out against the emperor and now with me he has to leave all his photos of me at my house. On his cell phone he uses the Japanese version of my name for my information and my e-mail address is kept anonymous like all these English texts are from some stranger with no connection. A bit depressing.
http://www.debito.org/?p=460
==================================

Now a crackdown against collaborators and consorters has hit the press:

==================================
MSDF OFFICERS WITH FOREIGN SPOUSES TO BE MOVED FROM SENSITIVE POSTS
Japan Today, Thursday, June 28, 2007

http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/410685

TOKYO The Maritime Self-Defense Force plans to move officers with foreign spouses away from posts with access to military secrets after sensitive data was leaked through an officer with a Chinese wife, the Sankei Shimbun reported Wednesday….

The paper said the move is aimed at protecting military secrets in the wake of an embarrassing leak of confidential information on the U.S.-developed high-tech Aegis combat system, the conservative daily said….

A 33-year-old petty officer allegedly obtained confidential data on the Aegis system without authorization… However, an unconfirmed newspaper report later said the leak may have occurred by accident when the officer was swapping pornography over the Internet.
http://www.debito.org/?p=460
==================================

Great. Some sukebe officer gets caught with his hand in his till, and now all NJ spouses are suspect? Imagine the uproar that would ensue in, say, the US, if the US military or State Department (with their high numbers of international spouses) were to engage in these sorts of practices. Security clearances notwithstanding, I doubt they would get away with treating their employees as untrustworthy just because they married foreigners, naturally all suspicious as spies!

It gets funnier:

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

5) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR SPORTS PROBLEMS

Debito.org reported in May 2007 how the All Japan High School Athletic Federation banned NJ runners from participating in the first leg of the HS championships.
http://www.debito.org/?p=417

Now the restrictions are spreading to other sports:

==================================
GROUPS TRY TO LEVEL PLAYING FIELD BY LIMITING FOREIGN PLAYERS
06/29/2007 The Asahi Shinbun

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200706290152.html

The slogan of high school sport associations could be: If you can’t beat ’em, ban ’em. The associations have introduced tough restrictions on foreign students because they are trouncing the Japanese athletes in sports such as the ekiden relay marathon, basketball and table tennis.

The restrictions followed protests from Japanese fans who say the superior ability of the foreign students is making the sporting events dull…

Sumio Shokawa, secretary-general of the All Japan High School Athletic Federation’s track and field division, said an ekiden fan sent an e-mail complaining: “No Japanese students are shown on TV. That was like an African championship.” Another disgruntled e-mailer told Shokawa: “The schools bring the foreign students here just to publicize the names of their schools. They are not suitable for high school sport competitions.”
==================================

Did we hear that right? MAKING SPORTING EVENTS DULL?? How about encouraging people to try harder in the spirit of fair play?

A friend of mine disputes whether this is actually going on:

==================================
As I mentioned when I posted this on FG, I know quite a bit about school athletics and their workings here in Japan. As a result, I do not hear this disgruntled or angry fan BS. As a matter of fact, I have not heard anything about the Kenyan students and other African [student runners], other than they are quite fast. What I smell here is the losing coaches using this together with the usual “Ware Ware Nihonjin” crowd, to try to get rid of the edge.

Normally, the All Japan Sports Associations only entertain complaints or requests from the leagues, the schools (read the kantokusan-tachi), local governments, or in flagrant incidents, act themselves on incidents which impact on their sport. Only an extremely large number of complaints from fans would make them take this type of action, and it would have to be a truly large number to make them jump consensus to make this type of ruling.

I really suspect it is a testing of the waters to see what other issues they can explore. There have been major on-going discussions about exchange students in HS baseball and its impact. Primarily the Brazilians. Most of this is probably not racial as much as it is backlash to the large number of the big pro stars bailing out of Japan and going to the States. There has been major calls for more protectionism i.e. the driving question if that of “What will happen to Nippon no Yakyu?”…
http://www.debito.org/?p=417#comment-27381
==================================

Still, gotta feel sorry for all those NJ kids going to high school in Japan. By dint of their birth, they are told they aren’t allowed to do their best in sports? Kinda defeats the purpose of these events, wouldn’tcha think?

But I don’t think the organizers of these events really understand what “being sporting” is all about. To them sports are great, as long as Japanese win.

And as is always the case, once you can get away with discrimination in one sector, others copycat, as can be seen in the spread nationwide of exclusionary JAPANESE ONLY signs on multiple business sectors.

It’s long been a policy (with some recent loosening of restrictions) in the Kokutai National Sports Festivals. So if it happens in a tax-funded national event where people can qualify for something serious like the Olympics, it’s a credible enough rule that any amateur league can mimic. And now clearly have.

These twits should look what’s going on in Sumo these days, with their more open rules:
==================================
LATEST SUMO BANZUKE SHOWS ONE THIRD OF TOP RANKED ARE NJ
Debito.org, June 29, 2007, full details at

http://www.debito.org/?p=464
==================================

Or actually, perhaps they are. We wouldn’t want other sports to go the way of the “kokugi”, now, would we.

Finally, here’s the best one of all, saved for last, about how NJ are being used for political boondoggle:

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

6) BLAME FOREIGNERS FOR SHIPPING PROBLEMS

Asahi Shinbun reports that foreign nationals account for more than 90 percent of crews of ocean-going vessels operated by Japanese companies. So the transport ministry plans to offer tax breaks to increase the percentage of Japanese crew on their ships. For security reasons?

==================================
MOVE EYED TO RAISE JAPANESE CREW NUMBERS
05/22/2007 The Asahi Shinbun

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200705210339.html

The transport ministry plans to offer tax breaks to shipping companies which drastically increase the percentage of Japanese crew on their ships, sources said.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport aims to increase the number of Japanese crew members by about 50 percent in 10 years to secure stable maritime transportation, an integral part of the nation’s trading infrastructure…

The transport ministry’s move was prompted by concern there would be too few people to operate ships if natural disasters, political turmoil or other emergencies flared in the home nations of non-Japanese crew members…
http://www.debito.org/?p=411
==================================

Uh… I don’t see the connection. Now NJ crew are threatening Japan’s ships too? By NOT being available?

Once again, Japan’s industry cuts costs by hiring cheap foreign labor, and somehow finds itself in a predicament–warranting tax benefits? Smells like porkbarrel to me.

Just bring up arguments of “self-sufficiency” and “security” (this time coupled with a fear of NOT being able to rely on foreigners), and watch the public purse strings fly open.

**********************************************

With all this blame gaming going on, I’m surprised somebody hasn’t blamed the foreigners for, say, the state of Japan’s low level of English.

Oh wait, somebody has. Kitakyushu University’s Noriguchi Shinichiro last year in the Asahi Shinbun:

==================================
http://www.debito.org/?p=65
“I am frequently asked whether Japanese are by nature adept at becoming proficient speakers of English. My answer is no. It is very difficult for us to become fluent speakers of English. There are three reasons for this; the Japanese mentality, the characteristics of the Japanese language and the homogeneous nature of this nation.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=34
“In particular, native speakers who have lived in Japan for more than 10 years tend to have adapted to the system and have become ineffective as teachers–this is also partly because their English has become Japanized and is spoken to suit the ears of their Japanese students.”
==================================

But let’s return to how to deal with the more serious problems of immigration and Japan’s future.

True to form, the GOJ too is shifting the blame, cracking down on the NJ instead of thinking about the reasons they’re here in the first place:

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

7) HOW THE GOJ INTENDS TO DEAL WITH IT:
RIOT POLICE, CHECKPOINT CHARLIE, AND SHORTENED VISAS

My previous DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTERwas on the current debate within the policymakers on what to do about NJ workers. I’ve since written a paper developing the issue more fully for my June 23, 2007 speech at the Asian Studies Conference Japan (http://www.debito.org/publications.html#SPEECHES).

Eric Johnston’s also done a great round-up of the issues here:
==================================
COMPETING FOREIGN-WORKER PLANS FACE OFF
JUSTICE CHIEF’S PROPOSAL TO OPEN DOORS, BRIEFLY, FOR ALL SECTORS CAUSES STIR
The Japan Times Thursday, June 7, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070607f1.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=443
==================================

The heaviest actor in this debate, the Ministry of Justice, is encouraging an entire revamp of the visa system. MOJ Minister Nagase advocates a system where it’s clear that NJ workers are only here for up to three years, then out for good (which ironically would disincentivize any employer from actually needing to “train” their “Trainees”). Just make the revolving-door system clear and admit we only want NJ as unskilled labor, to pound sheet metal and clean pig sties. And let’s hope the quality of worker we get and underpay doesn’t commit any crimes.

No actor in the debate explicitly states that NJ should actually be encouraged to immigrate to Japan, of course. Although that is what Debito.org has stated time and time again is going to happen no matter what.
http://www.debito.org/japanfocus011206.html

So with the sand-ostriching comes a renewed manning of the defenses, which of course apply to “illegals” and “terrorists” (which never apply to Japanese, naturally):

IBARAKI NATIONAL POLICE AGENCY ON HOW TO DEAL WITH NJ: RIOT POLICE

Ibaraki NPA flyer found June 2007 reads:
=============================
STOP THEM AT THE SHORES, PROTECT [OUR COUNTRY].
PLEASE COOPERATE IN STOPPING ILLEGAL ALIENS AND THEIR ILLEGAL ENTRY.
CONTACT IBARAKI PREFECTURAL POLICE HQ
029-301-0110

Sponsored by the Ibaraki Prefectural Police Coast Guard Cooperative Union (Ibaraki ken keisatsu kaigan keikai kyouryoku rengokai)
=============================
See it at http://www.debito.org/?p=448

Nothing like six riot police (seven, actually–look closely) in full regalia to protect us from the alien horde. Er, can a horde be one person? Anyway, yet another example of overreaction and targeting by the government towards NJ. More examples of the same at:
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police
http://www.debito.org/opportunism.html

Sure, raise awareness about overstayers and illegal entrants. But don’t make it seem as though there’s an invasion afoot, and that you need measures this extreme.

As for the rest of you “good foreigners” out there (yes, that includes you Permanent Residents too), you get yours whenever you cross Japan’s border:

=============================
MOJ WEBSITE ON REINSTATED FINGERPRINTING AT IMMIGRATION FROM NOV 2007
Debito.org June 17, 2007

http://www.debito.org/?p=454

Lovely bit of Japanicana at the GOJ online TV network. Except that as well as being kinda weird and laughably amusing, it’s deadly serious about targeting foreigners as potential terrorists.

Friend just sent me a link to a new site talking about the new Immigration procedures coming into effect in November 2007, which will involve taking fingerprints and photographing of all “foreign visitors” crossing the border into Japan.
http://nettv.gov-online.go.jp/prg/prg1203.html

This will, however, not be restricted to “foreign visitors”. It will be applied to everyone BUT (quoting the MOJ website, English original):
————————————————–
1. Persons under the age of 16
2. Special status permanent residents
[i.e. the Zainichi generational “foreigners”, which means regular-status permanent-resident immigrants are NOT exempt]
3. Those performing actions which would be performed [sic] by those with a status of residence, “diplomat” or “official government business”

————————————————–

This means even people who are long-term residents will get fingerprinting reinstated, despite having it abolished after decades of protest in 1999. (See article on this at http://www.debito.org/fingerprinting.html) And upon reentry, you will be separated from the Japanese members of your families (as the system stands right now, according to yesterday’s research, http://www.debito.org/?p=454), and forced to stand in the Foreigners’ Line for due processing regardless of how long you’ve lived here.

And this time, if you don’t comply with the biometric data taken every time you reenter, you can’t take it to court (like Kathy Morikawa and others did). You’re just refused entry at the border.

GOJ’s justification? Prevention of terrorism, and the “safety of foreign visitors”. Save them from themselves.

The video in English is a hoot too, wheeling out a few token foreigners of color hamming it up, and agreeing to have their privacy violated on suspicion of terrorism.

But the irony here is that all the terrorist activities that have happened so far in Japan (from Aum on down) have been Japanese. The association of foreigners with terrorism is pretty presumptuous, and historically inaccurate.
=============================

Why is the GOJ doing this? Because it can. If the government were really serious about combatting terrorism, they would fingerprint everybody. But they can’t. They tried this before years ago with widespread protest. Look what happened to the failed Juki-Net system with universal ID cards (it was even ruled unconstitutional in December 2006, see http://www.debito.org/?p=97)

REFERENTIAL LINKS, tracing the arc of this policy through Japan Times articles, and further feedback and research on this subject from cyberspace from:
http://www.debito.org/?p=454
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

All for today. Sorry this newsletter is so long this time. Don’t blame me. It was the Gaijin wot made me do it.

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
DEBITO.ORG JULY 3, 2007 NEWSLETTER ENDS

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