DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 8, 2009

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 8, 2009

Table of Contents:

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PUSHES ONE WAY
1) Kyodo: Municipal govts call for GOJ agency to help foreigners. Again.
2) Way cool Coldwell Banker SAPPORO SOURCE advertisement offering assistance with NJ apartment searches
3) Aly Rustom on how he got out of a Gaijin Card Check by J-cops
4) Michael Moore lambastes GOJ for being fingerprinted at border during his first Japan trip

PUSHES BACK
5) Anti-NJ suffrage protests in Shibuya Nov 28 2009. The invective in flyers and banners: “Japan is in danger!”
6) Int’l Child Abduction issue update: Chinese found guilty in J court of abducting daughters, MOFA sets up panel on issue
7) ADDENDUM: Paul Toland on US Congressional side of Japan Child Abductions Issue
8 ) Kyodo: numerical figures on how many NJ took last April’s “Nikkei Repatriation Bribe”

SOME PERSONAL PROJECTS
9) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST NOV 30, 2009 (listen at Debito.org or download from iTunes)
10) Advice re Japan Law Society, Tokyo/Osaka association of NJ lawyers: they really won’t pay you if they invite you to speak
11) Co-authored chapter in new Akashi Shoten book on “American Diaspora” (English text)
12) Letter to 4 Dietmembers re my recent JT article on immigration policy (see immediately below)

… and finally …
13) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Dec 1 2009 on making Japan more attractive to immigrants (with links to sources)
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By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org)
Sapporo, Japan
RSS feeds, Daily blog updates etc at http://www.debito.org
Freely Forwardable

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PUSHES ONE WAY

1) Kyodo: Municipal govts call for GOJ agency to help foreigners. Again.

We have the news of local governments calling upon the national government to do something to help the NJ residents under their charge. Some things just aren’t amendable without national government directives. Like a dedicated agency to deal with immigration.

That’s good news. The problem is, these local governments have been doing this for years now: Consider the Hamamatsu Sengen (2001), Toyoda Sengen (2004) and Yokkaichi Sengen (2006), which demanded just about the same thing. And it will be the same thing I demand in my next Japan Times column, due out next Tuesday, December 1. Have a read.

Local governments want to be nice to their NJ. It’s just that the elite Edokko bureaucrats in Kasumigaseki just don’t care. They don’t want to help NJ settle and make a life here. The people in charge of NJ affairs, mostly the Ministry of Justice, just want to control and police them. And that is pretty short-sighted, given that Japan needs immigration, and the less attractive Tokyo’s mandarins make Japan look to immigrants, the more likely the ones that will help Japan most will pass Japan by for better opportunities in other more open societies. Again, more in my JT article at the very bottom of this Newsletter.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5284

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2) Way cool Coldwell Banker SAPPORO SOURCE advertisement offering assistance with NJ apartment searches

I found a really open-minded real estate agent in Sapporo advertising on the back cover of the latest SAPPORO SOURCE magazine. They promise bilinguality in negotiations and paperwork, full explanations, full disclosure of properties on offer, and full service. They’ll even help with guarantorship, regardless of nationality. Excellent. Give this place some business and let it be a template for how realtors should behave in Japan. Scan of the advertisement enclosed.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5331

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3) Aly Rustom on how he got out of a Gaijin Card Check by J-cops

Quick missive from Aly Rustom a couple of weeks ago. This is how he dealt with a Gaijin Card Checkpoint by cops in Ueno last week, apparently successfully. He asked for their ID and dared to try to photograph it, and the cop. FYI. Link included on what your rights are when the Police State Tendencies have you in their sights.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5221

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4) Michael Moore lambastes GOJ for being fingerprinted at border during his first Japan trip

Michael Moore: “I landed at the airport and the customs people asked me for my fingerprints. I’m 55 years old and I’ve never been fingerprinted in my life, partly because I’ve never figured out the right kind of crime to commit, and partly because there’s no reason to fingerprint me. So I stepped up to the counter and they said please put your fingers here. And I said, Why? I didn’t refuse, I just asked why. And they immediately called in a supervisor and took me away. They told me, You have to be fingerprinted. And I said, I’ve never been fingerprinted. I have privacy rights, this is a democracy, right? They said, OK, so you want to be deported to the United States. I said, No, so they took me into a room and brought in another supervisor, even higher, and he said I could either voluntarily give my fingerprints and enter the country or they would forceably put me back on a plane back the US. So it’s a lose-lose situation, I said, and he said, But you do this in the United States, when we visit the United States. And I said, Well, that’s wrong. You have a passport, you took my picture, you X-rayed me. I don’t understand the fingerprint. It’s like, if no one stands up and says every now and then, we have rights as individuals. This is a privacy issue. I’ve not committed any crime, so therefore you’re not deserving of my fingerprints. So we went back and forth and they read me my rights, which I brought along. They had me read in English. I read that. My wife had already gone through the line and my friends were waiting, so I reluctantly gave in, but I gave them a different finger than my index one. I was allowed in the country at that point.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=5347

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PUSHES BACK

5) Anti-NJ suffrage protests in Shibuya Nov 28 2009. The invective in flyers and banners: “Japan is in danger!”

One of the more interesting proposals from the new DPJ-run Administration is suffrage for 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.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5353

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6) Int’l Child Abduction issue update: Chinese found guilty in J court of abducting daughters, MOFA sets up panel on issue

Three articles (two with original Japanese) below charting a couple of interesting developments regarding Japan as an international haven for child abductions.

The first article is what happens when the shoe’s on the other foot, and the NJ parent goes on trial for allegedly abducting his or her child from Japan — the Japanese authorities eventually convict the NJ. Asahi reports a Chinese father was found guilty (sentence suspended) in Japanese court of successfully, shall we say, “committing a Savoie” — actually getting his Japanese-Chinese daughters out of Japan (moreover after a J court awarded his ex-wife custody). The story follows below, but one of the daughters came back to Japan from China and stayed on, and the father came over to get her — whereupon he was arrested and put on trial. Now the mother wants Japan to sign the Hague Convention to protect Japanese from abductions (well, fine, but neither China nor Japan is a party, so there you go; oddly enough, accusations of spousal abuse — as in this case — are being leveled conversely as reasons for Japan NOT to sign the Convention). Just sign the damn thing, already.

The second article is from the Mainichi highly critical of the Japanese consulate in Shanghai for renewing the daughters’ J passports without consent of the J mother overseas. Even though this is standard operating procedure when a Japanese spouse wants to bring the children back to Japan from overseas. It only seems to make the news when the valve is used against the Japanese spouse.

Final irony: Quoth the judge who ruled in this case, “It is impossible to imagine the mental anguish of being separated for such a long time from the children she loved.” Well, that works both ways, doesn’t it? Why has there never been a child returned by a Japanese court to a NJ parent overseas? Why didn’t this matter in, for example, the Murray Wood Case, when overseas courts granted custody to the NJ father yet the Saitama Family Court ruled against him? And how about the plenty of other cases slowly being racked up to paint a picture that NJ get a raw deal in Japanese courts?

The third article (following the original Japanese versions of the first two) is how Minister Okada of the Foreign Ministry is setting up a special task force on this issue. Good. But let’s see if it can break precedent by acknowledging that NJ have as much right to access and custody of their children as Japanese do. Dubious at this juncture.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5387

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7) ADDENDUM: Paul Toland on US Congressional side of Japan Child Abductions Issue

Paul Toland: “Finally, I concluded by reading the following quote from Secretary Clinton on her first trip to Japan “I cannot imagine what it must feel like to have lost family members, and for so many years, never have heard anything about them or from them. I don’t know if I’ll be meeting as a secretary of state anymore than I will be meeting with them as a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister. It’s important that their plight is not forgotten. I attach great importance to the abduction issue.” I then dropped the bomb that she was not talking about our issue, but rather she was talking about the abduction of Japanese citizens to North Korea over 30 years ago, and concluded bybsaying that Secretary Clinton has never once addressed our issue in any public forum OR met with a single left behind parent.

“I told the Congressman AND the press that it was up to them to spur the State Department into action. As parents, we have tried and tried, but now it is up to Congress and the Press to move the State Department forward in making this issue a central issue of US Foreign Policy.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=5408

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8 ) Kyodo: numerical figures on how many NJ took last April’s “Nikkei Repatriation Bribe”

After the GOJ instituted the “Nikkei Repatriation Bribe” last April 1, bribing people with Japanese blood (only) to give up their visas, pension, and whatever contributions they made to Japan for a paltry lump-sum, “get out of our country and be somebody else’s problem” exchange, we have some possible figures coming out on perhaps how many people actually took it.

On average over the past decade, the registered NJ population in Japan has risen by about 50,000 per year. According to the figures below, we may have the first fall in the NJ population in more than four decades. Let’s wait and see, but the GOJ may have in fact succeeded in what I believe are the long-standing plans to keep the NJ labor market on a revolving-door, non-immigrant footing. As I will be writing next Tuesday in my Japan Times column, this is what happens when you leave immigration policy in the hands of elite xenophobic bureaucrats in the Justice Ministry.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5269

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SOME PERSONAL PROJECTS

9) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST NOV 30, 2009 (listen at Debito.org or download from iTunes)

In this edition of the Debito.org Podcast for November 30, 2009, I will be reading three of my Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE columns:

  • “Good News from Grass Roots”, Tuesday, June 4, 2008
  • “Summit Wicked This Way Comes”, Tuesday, April 23, 2008
  • “July forecast: rough, with ID checks mainly in the north”, Tuesday, July 2, 3008

Interspliced are excerpts from Duran Duran and Tangerine Dream “White Eagle”, as always. Enjoy.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5305

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10) Advice re Japan Law Society, Tokyo/Osaka association of NJ lawyers: they really won’t pay you if they invite you to speak

I gave a seminar for the Japan Law Society in Osaka a year ago, something that was even applied for legal profession education credit overseas. Checking my records recently I realized I never got paid anything for it. Contacted, they replied that they never were going to pay me anyway (not even the general minimum standard in Japan of 5000 yen for travel expenses).

More fool me, you might say, for accepting the invitation. I guess the lesson to be learned here is that when the Japan Law Society invites you as a speaker and then says it will not pay you, take it seriously. It won’t. But that’s in my opinion quite unprofessional and deserves to be known about. Professionals who want related professional assistance should be willing to compensate the provider for the service. That’s how the system works when professionals are involved.

http://www.debito.org/?p=4901

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11) Co-authored chapter in new Akashi Shoten book on “American Diaspora” (English text)

I got a copy last month of a book in which I’ve co-authored a chapter with Jens Wilkinson. Entitled “Yo-roppa, Roshia, Amerika no Diasupora” (The European, Russian, and American Diaspora), published by Akashi Shoten Inc. (which published all my other books, thanks), the book is in Japanese. Scanned cover front and back and Table of Contents follow as images (click to enlarge in browser). And the English translation of the chapter follows in full afterwards for your reference. Excerpt:

“Most of the chapters in this book look at the movements of an interconnected minority people in response to some crisis. This chapter is fundamentally different in tone. Here, we discuss the movements of people from the United States of America, a country unusual in both current circumstances (the sole superpower in the world today, projecting power across what we will argue is an “empire”), and history (one of a minority of the world’s countries which were founded upon immigration, meaning that America itself has been the beneficiary of migrating Diasporas).

This is why, when discussing the situation of Americans living abroad, we will argue that may need a new paradigm to describe an “American Diaspora”– if there actually is one…”

http://www.debito.org/?p=5260

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12) Letter to 4 Dietmembers re my recent JT article on immigration policy (see immediately below)

Just to let you know, last Friday I faxed four Dietmembers (PM Hatoyama, MOJ Minister Chiba, Minister Fukushima, and Tsurunen) a quick handwritten letter in Japanese, and a copy of the original newsprint article of my most recent Japan Times column on immigration policy proposals. Copy of the cover letter enclosed. Article I’m referring to immediately follows.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5389

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… and finally …

13) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Dec 1 2009 on making Japan more attractive to immigrants

Version with links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=5295

A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD FOR IMMIGRANTS
Policy suggestions to make Japan more attractive to newcomers

By Arudou Debito
JUST BE CAUSE Column 22 / ZEIT GIST Column 51
Published in the Japan Times Tues Dec 1, 2009

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20091201ad.html
DRAFT ELEVEN, as submitted post revisions to the Japan Times

For the first time in Japan’s postwar history, we have a viable opposition party in power, one that might stick around long enough to make some new policies stick. In my last column for 2009, let me suggest how the Democratic Party of Japan could make life easier for Japan’s residents — regardless of nationality.

My proposals can be grouped into four categories: immigration, policing, human rights protections and public relations. Each in turn:

I) Immigration. Despite Japan’s looming demographic disaster — you know, the aging society and population drop due to low birthrates and record-long life spans — we still have no immigration policy. No wonder: The people charged with dealing with Non-Japanese (NJ) — i.e. the Ministry of Justice’s Immigration Bureau and sundry business-sector organizations ● just police NJ while leeching off their labor. Essentially, their goal is to protect Japan from the outside world: keep refugees out, relegate migrant workers to revolving-door contracted labor conditions, and leash NJ to one- to three-year visas. For NJ who do want to settle, the Justice Ministry’s petty and arbitrary rules can make Permanent Residency (PR) and naturalization procedures borderline masochistic.

This cannot continue, because Japan is at a competitive disadvantage in the global labor market. Any immigrant with ambitions to progress beyond Japan’s glass ceiling (that of either factory cog or perpetual corporate flunky) is going to stay away. Why bother learning Japanese when there are other societies that use, say, English, that moreover offer better lifetime opportunities? It’s time we lost our facile arrogance, and stopped assuming that the offer of a subordinate and tenuous life in a peaceful, rich and orderly society is attractive enough to make bright people stay. We also have to be welcoming and help migrants to settle.

Suggestions: 1) We need a new immigration ministry, independent of the Ministry of Justice, to supplant the Immigration Bureau. It would decide clear and public standards for:

● what kinds of immigrants we want

● how we can give immigrants what they want, and

● how to make immigrants into Japanese, both in law and in spirit.

2) We need to loosen up a little. This would mean implementing policies often standard in countries with successful records of assimilating immigrants, such as:

● less time-consuming and arbitrary standards for awarding PR and citizenship

● faster-track PR and job-finding assistance for graduates of our schools and universities

● dual (or multiple) nationality

● citizenship granted by birth in Japan (not just blood)

● equal registration as “residents” (not merely as foreigners on separate rosters to police and track)

● equal access by merit to credit and loans (most credit agencies will not lend to NJ without PR)

● stable jobs not segregated by nationality (and that includes administrative-level positions in the civil service)

● qualifying examinations that allow for non-natives’ linguistic handicaps, including simplified Japanese and furigana above kanji characters

● visa programs that do not split families up

● periodic amnesties for long-term overstayers who have been contributing to Japan in good faith, and

● minority schools funded by the state that teach children about their bicultural heritage, and teach their parents the Japanese language

It’s not all that hard to understand what immigrants need. Most want to work, to get ahead, to make a better life for their children — just like any Japanese. Recognize that, and enforce equal access to the fruits of society — just like we would for any Japanese.

II) Policing. As in any society, police are here to maintain law and order. The problem is that our National Police Agency has an explicit policy mandate to see internationalization itself as a threat to public order. As discussed here previously, NPA policy rhetoric talks about protecting “citizens” (kokumin) from crimes caused by outsiders (even though statistics show that the insiders, both in terms of numbers and percentages, commit a disproportionate amount of crime). This perpetual public “othering and criminalizing” of the alien must stop, because police trained to see Japan as a fortress to defend will only further alienate NJ.

Suggestions: To make the NPA citadel more open and accountable, we must:

● create clear guidelines for the NPA to stop racial profiling in basic interactions, and create an agency for complaints about police that is not managed by the police

● amend laws (particularly the Foreign Registry Law; NJ should also be covered by the Police Execution of Duties Law, which forbids searches without probable cause) so that NJ are no longer more vulnerable than Japanese vis-a-vis random street investigations

● make NPA manuals public (to see how police are being trained to deal with NJ), then revise and retrain so that police see their mandate as protecting everyone (not just citizens)

● hire non-native speakers as police to work as interlocutors in investigations

● create “whistleblower status” to protect and shelter NJ who provide evidence of being employed illegally (currently, overstayers reporting their exploitative employers to the police are simply arrested, then deported to face reprisal overseas)

● take refugee issues away from the Justice Ministry and give them to a more flexible immigration ministry — one able to judge asylum seekers by conditions in their countries of origin, and by what they can offer Japan

III) Human rights protections. Once immigrants become minorities here, they must be protected from the xenophobes found in any society.

Suggestions:

● Grant the Bureau of Human Rights (or an independent human rights bureau within the proposed immigration ministry) enforcement and punitive powers (not to mention create an obligation to make the results of their investigations public).

● Strengthen labor laws so that, for example, abusive and unlawful contracts are punished under criminal law (currently, labor disputes are generally dealt with by time-consuming civil courts or ineffectual labor tribunals).

● Create and enforce laws upholding the spirit of pertinent United Nations treaties, including the Conventions on Civil and Political Rights, the Rights of the Child, and the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

● Most importantly — and this underpins everything — create a criminal law against racial discrimination. Include criminal penalties to stop all those places we know so well (businesses, hotels, landlords etc.) enforcing “Japanese Only” rules with impunity.

Of course, some of these proposals are practically impossible to adopt now, but we had better get the public softened up to them soon. The smart migrants won’t come if they know they will remain forever second-class residents, even if they naturalize. Their rights are better protected in other countries, so that’s where they’ll head instead of our fine shores.

IV) Public relations. This is the easiest task, because it won’t involve much tax outlay. The government must make clear statements, as Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama did last month at an APEC summit, indicating that immigration is a good thing for Japan, and stress the positive contributions that NJ have made so far. The media have focused too heavily on how NJ can’t sort their garbage. Now it’s time to show the public how NJ will sort us out for the future.

We are about to start a new decade. This past one has been pretty rotten for NJ residents. Recall the campaigns: Kicked off by Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s “Sankokujin Speech” in 2000, where he called upon the Self-Defense Forces to round up foreigners in the event of a natural disaster, we have had periodic public panics (al-Qaida, SARS, H1N1, the G8 Summits and the World Cup), politicians, police and media bashing foreigners as criminals and terrorists, the reinstitution of fingerprinting, and increased NJ tracking through hotels, workplaces and RFID (radio-frequency identification) “gaijin cards”. In other words, the 2000s saw the public image of NJ converted from “misunderstood outsider” to “social destabilizer”; government surveys even showed that an increasing majority of Japanese think NJ deserve fewer human rights!

Let’s change course. If Hatoyama is as serious as he says he is about putting legislation back in the hands of elected officials, it’s high time to countermand the elite bureaucratic xenophobes that pass for policymakers in Japan. Grant some concessions to non-citizens to make immigration to Japan more attractive.

Otherwise, potential immigrants will just go someplace else. Japan, which will soon drop to third place in the ranking of world economies, will be all the poorer for it.

ENDS

1381 WORDS

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That’s all for this Newsletter. Thanks as always for reading!
By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org)
Sapporo, Japan
RSS feeds, Daily blog updates etc at http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 8, 2009 ENDS

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