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Hi Blog. One of the more interesting proposals from the new DPJ-run Administration is suffrage for Special Permanent Residents. The Cabinet is ready to send a bill to the Diet so that Permanent Residents (in American terms, essentially “Green Card holders”) obtain the right to vote in local elections.
Regardless of whether you support or disapprove (Debito.org is in support, given how difficult it can be to get PR in Japan, not to mention how arbitrary the naturalization procedures are), what is interesting is the invective in the debate by people who oppose it. Numerous and very visible demonstrations by right-wing fringe elements (who also seem to get all xenophobic at, say, Hallowe’en being celebrated in Japan) are resorting to daft arguments that defy calm and common sense. Here are some photos and flyers, received from a witness of one demonstration in Shibuya November 28, 2009, courtesy of ER. Drink in the alarmism and panic by people who are probably going to lose the debate. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
PHOTOS FROM THE PROTESTS (click to expand in browser)
Lower flyer with PM Hatoyama proclaims with menace that the DPJ is trying to give foreigners the right to vote. Chinese and Korean flags background text that is illegible. Upper flyer proclaims opposition to the suffrage measure, declaring it unconstitutional, and throwing in a red herring that American league baseball players Ichiro and Matsui wouldn’t get suffrage in the US. (Okay. But Ichiro and Matsui aren’t AFAIK Permanent Residents there, nor at this time clearly immigrants; and would these opponents of suffrage for foreigners here be in opposition if fellow members of Team Japan COULD as foreigners vote in the US? Somehow I doubt it.)
The sound trucks and picketers in Shibuya depict “JAPAN IS IN DANGER” (nihon ga abunai), and “BLOCK THE DISSOLUTION (kaitai) OF JAPAN”. If I read correctly the yellow sign on the sound truck on the left, they are even claiming that Okinawa will even be snatched away if suffrage goes through! Not sure how that follows, but anyhoo…
This shirt lumps together a completely hitherto unestablished linkage between NJ suffrage and the Protection of Human Rights Bill (the jinken yougo houan, which is another item these alarmists get all dry-throated about). (And for those kanji nerds, the upper kanji are read soumou kukki, which I have looked up and pieced together a translation for; but never mind — it’s pretty esoteric.)
And finally, some more basic “We won’t give the vote to foreigners.” “Now this is a threat to Japan”, etc.
Freedom of speech allows more interesting arguments to be made in their flyers (click on image to expand in your browser), some of which I daresay would qualify as hate speech under UN Treaty:
This one makes the case that granting NJ suffrage is bad because:
1) It gives voting rights to people that don’t want to naturalize (i.e. don’t want to become Japanese), yet want to participate in the politics of this easy-to-live-in country Japan. (Oh, but you see, it’s so easy to naturalize, after all. Not.)
2) They have voting rights already in their home country of nationality (yet want to participate… repeated argument)
3) They don’t want to give up their special rights as Zainichi (such as tax breaks (??)) [even though not all PR are Zainichi, i.e. descendants of former colonial citizens of empire, generational foreigners born in Japan yet not citizens, usually Korean or Chinese “Special Permanent Residents”] (yet want to… repeated argument)
4) There are illegal overstayers and illegal entrants amongst these Permanent Residents [wait, that’s contradictory; that’s not how the visa system works], therefore criminals (yet want to… you get the idea).
5) There are some PRs who hold grudges against Japanese and Japan… [oh?]
6) They will vote for Diet candidates who will allow in huge amounts of immigrants from their mother countries. [I bet these people would make the same argument to take away voting rights from anyone they perceive would vote against their interests. They don’t believe in plurality and majority rule, I guess, even when they are in the majority.]
And more. The final question, with a poke at the DPJ, “We ask you, as Japanese citizens, ARE YOU [GODDAMN] SERIOUS?” [emphasis added to accommodate for expanded font size and boldface]
This one’s all about protecting Japan from DPJ Dietmembers who are “selling the country off”, with little thunderbolts stabbing photos and points (particularly against Dietmember Madoka Yoriko, the Dietmember apparently submitting the suffrage proposal). Labelled as discriminatory against Japanese (!!), we’ve now rolled into this protest the gaikokujin jinken kihon hou (Basic Law for Human Rights for NJ), which has been on the drawing board for over a decade now) but now suddenly in the crosshairs (naturally; it just might come to fruition). Arguments against it include how it will empower Chinese and North Koreans (the perpetual boogeymen in these debates — it even asserts that the Chinese Embassy is controlling things), and how after only five years they could get the power to vote! (Methinks they don’t actually know how difficult it is to get PR.) And more. Love how the invective changes font sizes for individual kanji to project even more alarmism.
Here’s another target for Zeus’s lightning bolts. Much the same arguments as above (except now accusing the media in being complicit in stifling the debate; that’s rich), except the focus is on the next “sell-out”, Dietmember Yamaoka Kenji and his treasonous gang promoting NJ suffrage and the dissolution of Japan, by merely giving a few hundred thousand NJ (far less than 1% of the entire Japanese population, and scattered around Japan) the right to vote. Maa, you get the idea. Moving on:
Next on the laundry list of grievances against NJ is the claim that the Tsushima Islands (not the Takeshima/Tokdo disputed rocks, but the much larger islands in the channel between South Korea and Kyushu) will be invaded by Korea! Being wheeled out for speeches is pet former LDP xenophobe Hiranuma Takeo (from Okayama; I watched him get reelected in August with a comfortable margin — see his website and enjoy his depiction in English lamenting about how kids nowadays are ignorant of the date his family mansion was burned down) and pet former Japanese military revisionist Tamogami Toshio (who is clearly more in his element with extreme rightists after being kicked out of the JSDF last year). Oh, but these events bring out the self-important, don’t they. Particularly those who predict that any concessions towards foreigners means that Japan gets carved up.
And here’s a petition saying that Yonaguni Island, just off Taiwan, needs a JSDF military base to protect against Chinese invasion of Okinawa. Just imagine what cases these nutcases would come up with if Japan actually had any international land borders.
And here we have the webs the DPJ weaves (as opposed to the webs that the perpetually incumbent LDP wove during its 50 plus years in power): Supporters include leftist extremists and labor unions, socialists, revolutionary laborers, the Chuukakuha, Nikkyousou, the Red Army, North Korean group Chousen Souren, South Korean Mindan, the Buraku Liberation League, the Yakuza, the media (controlled by the DPJ regarding what you see and hear; again, that’s rich), and the kitchen sink. Great fun.
In the same vein of how the DPJ has totalitarian powers, this last flyer declares that PM Hatoyama believes the Japanese Archipelago is not the property of the Japanese. And the DPJ’s grand plans include Okinawa getting 30 million Chinese (and, oh, giving Okinawa to China), and the abovementioned Human Rights Bill (which will allegedly enable searches without warrants, and has no Nationality Clause within to ensure that people who man the enforcement mechanisms are kept secure from foreigners). And of course that NJ suffrage thingie. But of course you’re not hearing about all this because the DPJ controls the media. Naturally.
48 comments on “Anti-NJ suffrage protests in Shibuya Nov 28 2009. The invective in flyers and banners: “Japan is in danger!””
One cannot help but think that Japanese ‘education’ has failed, and that the art of critical thinking and reflection has all but vanished. Two words come to mind: “Zieg Heil!”
The whole thing, particularly the poster about DPJ’s alleged supporters look so McCarthyesque. And the usage of the English for the name and address columns about the form on Yonaguni is so tragicomically funny. Which foreigner will sign such a petition? Those black-truck lunatics!
Three potentially flawed reasons for not supporting the local suffrage among permanent residents:
1. It’s not what foreigners should want. They should want to real deal, citizenship. What’s really needed is citizenship that is *explicitly* moot on the subject of dual or multiple citizenship. Citizenship should be construed as a right gained at some point after one has taken up residence in Japan (in regards to “foreigners.”). It is absolutely *not* some kind of weird commitment to the state.
2. By granting half-measures, it gives an excuse to not grant the whole thing. Does the “foreign” community want to be ameliorated or given what it really deserves. The more partial fixes accepted, the more difficult it becomes to get what is really deserved. Fighting for this might be, ironically, counter productive to easing naturalization laws.
3. Actually, reading some of the (frivolous) arguments above, I think a lot of their thunder would be stolen by focusing on naturalization. It’s a right, it’s an entitlement at some point. It’s not some gift bestowed upon the fortunate few by an almighty state. A few changes here and there, piecemeal to the naturalization process could potentially make a big difference, and might even be less controversial. Why this silly focus on the right to vote in local elections? It seems counter productive. I’m half suspicious this is intentional.
You know, this kind of extreme overreaction and phony rhetoric makes those people sound more like paranoid schizophrenics than xenophobes, IMO… though I guess they aren’t mutually exclusive.
I guess the real question is… who’s truly behind all this? Someone’s got to be pulling the strings. Anyway, they can scream all they want I think change is inevitable in the long term.
I think point five on the flyer is that huge numbers of foreigners will immigrate, and then vote for “giin” who will support their mother countries rather than Japan (not that they’ll vote for people supporting immigration). Of course, “giin” will naturally make people think of National Diet members, which has nothing to do with this proposal.
I heard from someone that there is a Korean plot to take Tsushima by having all the Zainichi Kankokujin move their honseki to Tsushima and vote in a local government that will vote to secede. I explained that foreigners don’t have a honseki and have to be registered where they live, and told her not to believe everything she reads on the internet…
It’s possible to oppose local suffrage for foreigners without being anti-foreigner (after all, it is really rare on a global scale; the US doesn’t have it), but these people certainly aren’t managing it.
Incidentally, Hiranuma isn’t in the LDP any more. He’s the leader of the “Group for Upholding the Interest and Life of the Nation”. It was rumoured to be joining the New People’s Party a couple of weeks ago, which would have brought it into the DPJ coalition. (“Rumoured” meaning that Yomiuri Shinbun reported on the story.) That doesn’t appear to have happened, however.
— Regarding paragraph three: The Japan Times says in the article I linked to above: “Globally, at least 38 countries — including many EU nations, the United States and South Korea, to name a few — currently allow local-level voting rights for resident foreigners.”
As for the rumor in the last paragraph, I heard it too. The original proposal that was reported on the wide shows was that xenophobe Hiranuma, loose cannon Kamei Shizuka, and Tanaka Yasuo (the man of the mole on the nose and quite leftist policies) were going to somehow bridge the wide intellectual gulf between them and party together. Nothing since, however. This is one reason why Debito.org likes to stay away from rumors until the last minute or until they come to fruition…
The material toward the end is quite comforting insofar as it’s quite obviously written by raving lunatics. Hopefully, its sheer madness will serve to override the more dangerous previous information – dangerous because that earlier info. might seem more plausible to the politically unaware.
I saw this same protest last weekend (11/28) at the South exit of Shinjuku station. The speaker was also shouting arguments along the same lines that had no basis of common sense. It was a good thing, however, that not many people were stopping to listen to them. Guess most Japanese people know when some of their fellow countrymen are speaking gibberish.
The US doesn’t have local suffrage for foreigners on a national level. It looks like a few municipalities do, but as far as I can tell it’s a very small number. South Korea does, which rather explains why they are pushing for a reciprocal agreement. On the other hand, according to http://www.immigrantvoting.org/material/world.html#KOREA, a grand total of 6,726 foreigners got the right to vote. (They seem to require permanent residence plus three years, and those small numbers suggest that permanent residence is rather hard to get in SK.) Most of the EU countries only have local suffrage for other EU citizens, although quite a few seem to have wider agreements. The EU is a special case; citizens of any EU country also have the right to live and work in any other EU country, but that’s not the same as abandoning immigration controls. Only the Nordic countries seem to have blanket suffrage for foreigners.
So, to be a bit more precise: Extension of local suffrage to all permanent residents at the national level is rare. Even South Korea doesn’t have it (not quite), the US doesn’t, and most EU countries don’t.
My point about Hiranuma is that describing him as “pet LDP xenophobe” is wrong; he is no longer in the LDP. It’s like describing Hatoyama as the LDP prime minister.
In any case, I think local suffrage for permanent residents would be a good thing, and send a strong signal that Japan is becoming more welcoming of foreigners. I just don’t think that not getting it is necessarily a sign of discrimination. Although, as noted, quite a few of the opponents do seem to be xenophobes.
— Hiranuma ran under the LDP banner in the elections last August. Thanks for the update on his current status.
I ran into a gaggle of these people in Nagoya outside of Kanayama station no less than THREE seperate times (swear they memorized my schedule). They were touting the line however that all Japanese would be forced to speak English and how the Japanese youth wouldn`t have a country left to call their own (won`t somebody PLEASE think of the children?!) Then the speaker spotted me (with my Japanese/Canadian baby in tow) trying to take a mobile phone photo of their banners and went ballistic calling my baby `garbage` and telling me to `get out of Japan` or `go home`. Anyway, it`s a whole lotta hot air. My in-laws were shocked that I couldn`t vote in the last election, they had no idea that I `wasn`t allowed`, same with my husbands entire family. They figured since I married a Japanese man and had a baby here and for all intents and purposes am staying most likely for the rest of my life that I should get the same treatment as native Japanese. They are learning, and being disappointed in the government and the citizenry, that fair and equal treatment isn`t just a given. However, I see blowhard protests like this one almost a good sign that local sufferage is at least possible and possible enough to get the nutters out and scared!
Those who want this idiotic rhetoric to be true will be the only ones who believe it to be so.
If the new government continues pressing for a progressive plan for a Japan that includes its foreign population, I fear there may be a few black buses driven into businesses and constituency offices, some fire-bombings, and maybe some random drive-by shootings in the Tokyo area in our near future.
Point #1 of the first poster (“they don’t want to naturalise but still want to vote anyway”) is maybe the only one that holds any real water. Naturalisation isn’t easy for sure, and while I am all for relaxing the conditions of naturalisation such as allowing dual-nationality, it’s certainly not impossible or “arbitrary” in its current implementation – statistics show that around 99% of applications are successful, and I’m willing to bet that permanent residency applications don’t even come close to that. And its certainly no harder than any other 1st world country.
This further proves that, when right-wingers say “foreigners,” they are specifically targeting Koreans and Chinese, and foreign residents from other countries such as America and European nations are virtually non-existant. Just shows how wide their view towards this issue is…
Could you clarify: your lead in paragraph says Special PR but when I clicked through to the article it was not clear that the proposed bill is only for Special PR. Which is in the proposed bill: Special or plain vanilla PRs? Thank you.
— My goof. Changed the second sentence after reading the JT FYI article but forgot to do the first. Sorry. According to the JT, it’s all PRs, Regular and Special.
Sorry, I just wanted to interject on this one bit that disturbed me a little…
> (who also seem to get all xenophobic at, say, Hallowe’en being celebrated in Japan)
WRONG. Nobody’s upset over foreigners celebrating Halloween. People are upset over foreigners taking over train cars and causing mayhem, which is what the argument was all about. I personally don’t like this trend either, especially when their excuse is “Japanese drink in train cars too! I’ve seen them!” (sure, you’ll always find black sheep in any society, but that’s no excuse to fall to their level). I’m against the train take-over party too, because it’s a huge embarrassment for us foreigners who are at least trying to live in Japan in an orderly fashion. And no, I am not against celebrating Halloween altogether, whether you’re Japanese or not.
— Nobody? Er, did you read some of the invective with the Hallowe’en issue? Some of the “Protestants” didn’t want foreign festivals like Hallowe’en imported into Japan period (see photo six here). The issue was expanded to include the Kitchen Sink, as these xenophobes are wont to do.
Thanks for the clarification. I was hoping it was the latter as I am a not-so-special PR.
In any event, it seems like a lot of the hate over the voting issue is directed at the zainichi.
Sorry, didn’t notice that link posted on the comments section of the article linked on the above quote (only read the main article). But I still feel that the protest against this party started back in 2007 as a protest against their behavior, not Halloween itself, and the right-wingers in that photo seems to me like they jumped on the bandwagon, albeit after the problem has become pretty much non-existant.
The striking thing about these protests aren’t the message but the size, frequency and implicit approval of them.
These guys get floor space at Shibuya crossing almost every week (or so it seems…) with at least a small turn-out of supporters. What kills me are the hundreds of Japanese who walk by the demonstration. Most foreigners I know see this as a good sign, “Thank God they’re not paying any attention to those wack-jobs,” etc. But I don’t. Instead, I see hordes of passer-bys implicitly agreeing with them.
Think about it, can you name any hate-group who could protest in Times Square, Picadilly, or any other major metropolitan crossing, with at least some confrontaion by the pedestrians? I can’t. And I certainly couldn’t think of any that could do it on a near-weekly basis.
We laugh at the surface of these nutcases, but I’m terrified by the deep-seeded racism that they espouse and that the Japanese masses give quiet approval.
I didn’t know Hiranuma ran under the LDP banner. That made me double check. (He’s leading a Diet group critical of the LDP, but in Japan I guess that’s not strictly incompatible with membership.) http://www.hiranuma.org/new/profile.html says that he’s independent. Wikipedia says that he ran as an independent in the election, as well, and quit the LDP over the Post Office, but Wikipedia isn’t exactly reliable.
Back on the main topic. At least two of the flyers claim to be the products of individuals, not groups. Do you (or anyone) know why they are saying that explicitly?
(My mind is still boggling at the idea of letting 30 million Chinese into Okinawa. That’d be a population density of about 15,000 per square kilometre, which is triple that of Tokyo-to.)
— UPDATE DEC 7: I just checked my election records. Hiranuma did indeed run as an independent (not LDP) in last August’s election. I apologize for the error and stand corrected.
Andy, I’m sorry, but that’s one of the most ill-considered comments I’ve ever read. The foreigners you know are correct.
A) In a country that has free speech, you can’t just get rid of protesters, no matter how racist they are. As long as they are not physically threatening someone, they are well within their right to spout nonsense.
B) Since when does passer-by mean someone in agreement? The protesters are uyoku – they’re a radical fringe element of Japanese society that have historically shown little restraint against hurting naysayers. Pedestrians ignore them because they don’t want to deal with the very real and dangerous consequences of confronting this kind of group. They walk by knowing that these are just a bunch of crazy hoodlums, and can continue on their way with little trouble.
Andy’s point above is a good one. I know that confrontation is not the ‘Japanese way’ for most – these nutjobs excluded – but whenever nutty nationalists try to stage these kinds of things in NZ, Britain, Aussie, Canada &c. they’re usually outnumbered by a bigger number of locals counter-protesting. The absence of counter-protestors in Shibuya has always sat uneasily with me.
Don’t these demonstrators need the permission of the police and the train company to hold these rallies?
Has the Shibuya police station taken a position on their activities? How about those overzealous “Shibuya Center-Gai Patrol” people? If their main objective is peace and quiet in Shibuya, I can’t imagine them appreciating these uyoku nuts at all. Do they have an opinion?
Oops Debito, a bit of a typo there “Lower flyer with PM Hosokawa ” it`s PM Hatoyama, correct?
— Of course. Sorry. Correction made, thanks. I don’t know why I keep doing that.
Not that it really matters, but the 300 million people thing was all about tourism.
Something like 300 million person-days (e.g. 3 nights by one person is 3 person-days).
DPJ wants to draw Chinese tourists to Okinawa or something.
So, if anyone ever has a ‘conversation’ with these nuts, please point out that it is not an attempt to draw 300 million Chinese immigrants. I guess they consider every Chinese coming to Japan is planning to stay for good…
I just happened to be in Tokyo that day and passed through the fairly thick crowd listening to this dude ranting. I didn’t quite understand what he was screaming about, until I showed my friend the pictures I took of the banners. I’m just glad it was peaceful, but it is quite disturbing, particularly because most of the Japanese people I have talked with about this issue (as well as other issues concerning foreigners) either know next to nothing about it, and/or have no opinion (or maybe don’t want to tell me). This group includes doctors, teachers, researchers, and others. Whether they are uninformed due to a lack of media coverage, or just apathetic, I just hope they will have their garbage filters on if and when they hear this nonsense.
I don’t see these kinds of protests very often, aside from the occasional truck rolling by spewing some ish, but like Chuckie was saying, where are all the people standing up for the other side? Are there any counter-protests or people demonstrating in support for foreigners rights? In Shibuya, or elsewhere?
Frodis – Did you hear about the dude that got into Hatoyama’s office and smashed his computer!? Apparently he was angry at the suffrage proposal.
I think that many nationalist groups are not adverse to violence (quite the opposite in fact), and yet there are never a lack of counter-protestors. In England, if the National Front or BNP stage a protest or rally, you’ll find the UAF gathering in equal or greater numbers to condemn them. There’s even a right wing hitlist called Redwatch, which you can find on google, which still doesn’t seem to dissuade them.
Having said that, I wouldn’t say the passers-by are necessarily agreeing either. It has always seemed to me that the majority of Japanese people just don’t see this kind of thing as being THEIR problem, and feel no responsibility to argue with the nationalists on the behalf of NJ. In fact, if I raise any NJ issues in my classroom for discussion, the response is pretty much “so?” and a shrug of the shoulders.
I’ve got lots of theories on why that might be, but I have to say I’m still pretty unsettled to see these people being given a forum in such a mainstream area on such a regular basis, and no-one appearing to challenge them.
One funny moment from the protest on saturday though; I saw a guy having a very serious conversation with one of the protestors and taking one of his little paper flags, before turning around, walking three feet, making eye contact with a group of foreigners and immediately hiding it in his jacket and scurrying off. Must have been the courage of his convictions.
Well, all I can say is go ahead and feel free to counter-protest. Nothing is stopping you from doing so – although, I guarantee the police will be there soon to protect you from the right-wingers. If you don’t believe me, maybe you should review an article from this very site:
YouTube: right-wing xenophobia: how the rightists will resort to intimidation and even violence to shut people up
The uyoku is not just some group of crazies, it’s a group of crazies with friends in the mafia – i.e. militant rightists. The Japanese people understand this, as well as a lot of foreigners, and would rather avoid confrontation with kind of element.
If you’re really looking for an antithesis the uyoku, you should look up sayoku – this is the equally crazy group of leftist protesters who often violently clash with the rightists:
Sayoku vs. Uyoku
To Andy, the BNP seems to be getting close to this level in England recently,
And to Debito, there is similar activity in Saitama.
Got a leaflet in the post two weeks ago in a similar vein, scanned versions in direct email to follow.
Sorry if this is completely out of coontext but I just wanted to warn people regarding the new Tokyo GAS CM which is basically a bunch of cliché on Foreigners including the ” I Love Roppongi “, I think it’s even worse than Mc Donalds ad.
— Thanks. But we need some links or some way to see it. Obviously those of us outside of Tokyo are going to miss it. You can suggest these topics by writing to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
Poor these LDP orphans, they are crying left behind in the streets.
With this new government we will see many of their whims I guess and also how big is their consensus in a very emotional Japanese society.
I have to agree with comment number 3 from Matt at anarchyJapan, as crazy as his moniker is, in that supporting sanseiken may damage the coalition for dual citizenship and thus equality. I might even be mollified to accept PR if it gained me some extra rights, which would reduce my incentive to press for dual citizenship. To prevent that from happening, probably it would be better in the long term to not grant sanseiken and to allow dual nationality and implement a law against racial discrimination.
On the other hand, with the right to vote in local elections, it is possible that foreigners would gain enough influence to force politicians to pander to us a little, which might eventually make the passage of a law against racial discrimination easier.
I am not sure which is the stronger force, but if local elections have pretty limited impact on national politics, it is probably the former. If they are really influential, maybe the latter is true.
This type of thing makes me wish I wasn’t so lazy and studied my Japanese more so I could read and understand everything they are saying and then get into pointless arguments with them, telling them how wrong they are and have them not listen to me.
Your link shows what seems to be an anti-war demonstration with some anti-racism, anti-Yasukuni and other things thrown in. The fascists seem to be holding a counter demonstration and trying to beat-up the protesters and the police seem to be stopping them.
I don’t think that the antithesis of crazy, violent, racist fascists is peaceful protesters the fascists are trying to attack. Maybe this is just a bad example of what you are trying to show?
I have participated in protests like this before, with thankfully less need for so many police, and I will do so again in the future. I don’t think I’m crazy, but I’m sure there are those who would disagree.
RE: Yaz’s message above, I think he is referring to the CM here:
Granted I have never seen a t-shirt that says “I love Roppongi” (though I have seen “I love Akihabara”) but I don’t think this CM is nearly as bad as McDonald’s.
— Thanks for this. I agree, it’s not as bad as “Mr James”. Now let’s get back on point.
I wrote a post on your blog about this issue a few months ago when you began writing about the possibility of NJ suffrage rights.
One of the signs you have shown above contends that Ichiro wouldn’t get suffrage rigths in the USA, so Japan shouldn’t give suffrage rights to NJ citizens.
The signs claim that non USA citizens don’t get suffrage rights is not entirely true. First, if you look at the longstanding history of the USA, non citizens had suffrage rights from the very time of the formation of the USA. In fact “no taxation without representation” was a rallying cry for Independence. It wasn’t until the last century that suffrage rights were taken away from non citizens. Additionally, at the local level many local governments allow non USA citizens to vote in local elections. Which, is exactly what is being proposed here in Japan. There has not been a proposal to grant NJ suffrage rights in National elections, merely local ones.
Therefore, once again I urge all J and NJ people alike to take, with a grain of salt, what these overblown, self-important, zealous, xenophobic bigots say about “the sky falling down – and Japan being at risk from foreigners”.
The situation with Ichiro and Matsui in the US isn’t quite the same as what PRs in Japan face. Ichiro and Matsui, and every other baseball player who’s been in the US for many years, are free to take US nationality without any obligation to renounce their original one.
To acquire a US green card without attempting to gain citizenship means actively choosing to live in the US as a foreigner, which partially explains the US law that requires green card holders to carry that ID with them, unlike any other foreign national in the US.
Contrast this with the lack dual nationality in Japan. To vote in Japan, you have to give up not just your right to vote elsewhere, but possibly your right to live outside Japan as well. Ichiro could always return to Japan to live even if he took US citizenhip.
Meat67, I’m not sure what you’re looking for, but if you keep watching the video, you’ll see protesters holding Japanese flags with an X through the red circle, and you’ll even see a sign that says revenge against Japan. Those are the people I’m talking about. They are examples of the group of very vocal and sometimes violent protesters known as sayoku.
I’m not going to continue to fill Debito’s blog up with links, so if you want to see more, just head over to YouTube. Most of the videos are stupid and recorded by the uyoku themselves, but the sayoku are generally anti-Japan and show up during anti-suffrage uyoku protests. Specifically, there were a couple of clashes during the peak of the Calderon issue.
I expect Debito is right on balance to support these measures (we should defer somewhat to the experts) however I worry that by focusing efforts on obtaining the right for NJ PRs to vote it is diverting the attention away from the more legitimate attempts to bring Japanese treatment of NJ up to international standards – a measure that is overdue and difficult for anyone to oppose and instead on to a measure which is far easier for the opposition to take issue with – they can point out that in most foreign countries only citizens get voting rights. I am also not sure if those who have not made the commitment to become citizens should get voting rights. (I think the question of the special permanent residents may be a special case – its hard to see why they shouldn’t have voting rights).
Mark in Yayoi: To naturalise in the USA, you need to take the Oath of Allegiance, the first clause of which is “that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;” (see http://www.uscis.gov/files/article/M-476.pdf, page 28). I don’t believe that the USA enforces that vigorously, but then I don’t believe Japan does, either. As I recall, it was the US that pressured Mr Arudou into renouncing his US citizenship after taking Japanese. (And, incidentally, the UK allows you to resume citizenship after renouncing it. The first time, no questions asked.)
I’ve written about this on my blog, in Japanese because that’s the language that the people who need to hear contrary opinions speak. http://www.davidchart.com/nihongo/2009/12/06/1997/
— As I’ve written here many times before, and I’ve linked to sites on Debito.org from here before (including the US State Department), the US allows Dual Nationality. My stepfather (British-born) naturalized into the US in the 1970’s and still retains both. Oaths notwithstanding. Can we put this to rest, please?
Send this stuff to the IOC, the UN, Amnesty International, etc. (minus personal comments, just translations as accurate as possible). Let the international community know that there is still a lot of people here (with connections to the government) that harbor these archaic feelings toward a simple matter of letting people who are contributing to their own society through work, taxes, etc. have basic rights and abilities to determine part of their future. It was pretty surprising to see this morning that Governor Ishihara appeared on Fuji’s Warai Ii To Omou as their Telephone Chokin guest (STILL spouting all types of excuses and rhetoric why Tokyo didn’t get the Olympics–now claiming 84% of Tokyoites favor the games in Tokyo) then introducing his “friend” Tamogami Toshio as the following day’s guest. (Ishihara was preceded by Chiba Governor Morita Kensaku). Since Sundays are only a digest of the week’s shows, they didn’t show too much, but as with everyone who appears on that segment of the program, he peddled books, had a nice big poster of something military related, etc. When guys like these are getting airtime on shows like that, there certainly seems to be a lot more work to be done.
I was also there that night taking photographs some of which can be seen at http://www.demotix.com/news/anti-foreigner-voters-rights-demo-tokyo
Can I just say having photographed rightwingers on and off for a while now that to take a stand against these guys is dangerous. They find out where you live and they will hurt you and your family if they think you have offended them. They have even killed people. I know photographers who have had to run for their lives when their newspaper`s or agency`s affiliations have been found out. That night one of the organisers on the van aggressively pressured me for my name and agency and it was hard to get away without giving it, I had to literally hide in the crowd after that. I did see one drunken man disagree with them and he had to be rescued and shielded by police for a long time after the demo had finished. Also if you think people don`t argue with them go to Yasukuni on the 15th and watch how debate can quickly turn into assault. To stand up to the Uyoku takes some serious balls, some have it but the reason most Japanese people were not taking much notice of the events that night was probably because, like us, they don`t have. Plus it`s Shibuya people! Many young Japanese don`t care about politics and policy that does not affect them. I personally would like to see duel nationality become law and legislation put in place to make racial discrimination difficult and punishable. I don`t personally see the need for permanent residents that have no family ties here or were not born here to get the vote. It is pretty easy to get permanent residency status if you are married which doesn`t mean you are in the least understanding or caring of the nuances and mores of Japanese culture. The people there that night were idiots true but I saw two foreigner incidents that shocked and aggrieved me in their ignorance and stupidity too. One was a white man clapping away at the speeches, when i asked him if he knew what he was applauding he said he did but really liked the little white balloons with the red dots on them. I hope he was joking but the inability of him to understand the gravity of the company he kept in what i`m sure he thought was a great success of cultural interchange was numbing. The other was just plain stupid, two bull-necked US military types walking past the crowd and shouting “Shut the F**K Up!” to the noise. No wonder they don`t want to give some of us the vote!
— Actually, they don’t want to give ANY of you the vote. And it has nothing to do with the behavior of spectators or potential counterprotesters.
Gotta love the “Even Ichiro and Matsu can’t vote” argument.
Wada Akiko, Kitano Takeshi and Oh Sadaharu can’t vote here. Your point is?
And “These people don’t want to naturalize, but…”
I’m sure the right wingers would oppose the voting rights of naturaized citizens too.
Icarus, I watched the whole video. I did see the X through the flag but not the revenge.
I don’t see how putting an X through a flag is the same a threatening or beating up people. Because it is a representation of a country, a flag is a potent symbol. If you are protesting the current government or its policies using the flag seems like a good choice. As for the revenge, what for? Since I don’t know, it makes it more difficult to comment. Most of the time though, revenge is pointless and counterproductive.
What do you mean by anti-Japan? From my understanding of the left in Japan that is hardly the case. They may be opposed to the policies of the current and/or past administrations but that doesn’t mean they are anti-Japan. I was opposed to most of the policies of the past administration and some of those of current one. Does that make me “anti-Japan”? I’m sorry, I don’t mean to harp, but I find the whole word “anti-Japan” to be problematic and it gets my back up.
I am sure that the left here is sometimes violent, but I would wager that in Japan most of the violence is in self defence as the right, or really, the fascists don’t seem to have a problem beating the crap out of people.
As we see from many of the above posters, a lot of people are afraid to disagree. I think that says a lot about what these fascists are really about. I think actually, that is the most worrying thing about these people, their ability to shut up people who disagree with them. I think it is good that people who are not afraid show up at these anti-suffrage protests and try to present a different opinion, and just as important, show these fascists that they can’t scare everyone so that they can have their way.
This conversation is getting a bit diluted so I’ll just go back to your original post to clarify:
It seems that you were looking for a video of fighting between extreme-left and extreme-right protesters, but what my original intention with that video was to show that the group exists, nothing more. If you are looking for fights between the groups you can find more videos on YouTube by searching for 左翼.
And unfortunately these posts are just getting off topic, but the left you are referring to you in your post is the mainstream left. You can’t really compare a mainstream group to a radical one. If you are looking for historical examples of extreme leftist behavior in Japan, you might want to check out student protests during the Vietnam war, or perhaps the Japanese Red Army – old examples, but will explain more about the ‘anti-Japan’ you were asking about.
— And it’s extremely facile to equate even the radical left with “anti-Japan” sentiment. Does that the radical right are “pro-Japan”? Let’s raise the level of debate, shall we?
Interesting they even didn’t use the word “gaijin”…Even far-right groups are so PC these days… 😛
HO, as you of all people should know, “gaijin” is usually reserved for those of certain ethnotypes. The biggest “threat” here are the Zainichi Koreans and Chinese… and, like it or not, they don’t fall into a clear physically different race.
I saw my first anti-NJ sufferage protestors outside my local station today. One one each major exit, not saying anything and desperately trying to hand out their leaflets. I saw all of one person take one over a 10 minute period. Even the Communist Party draw more support than that!
A sour-faced old man and a sour-faced middle-aged woman. They seemed so pathetically lonely that I almost went up to them to take a leaflet – no-one else was taking any!
If they show up again, I’ll try to get a photo.
I think I’ve scored the topical hat-trick this week – delivering the goods on Hiranuma, running accross the anti-NJ sufferagers, and dealing with kids who think that breaking the rules is OK if they say “haro”…
— Thanks for helping out with raising good issues!