DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 8, 2007

mytest

Hello Blog. Arudou Debito in Sapporo here. It’s been a month since the last newsletter (I took a break in August; hope you did too), but here’s a roundup of what’s been going down:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 8, 2007

Contents:
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1) DISCRIMINATION AT “HOLIDAY SPORTS CLUB” CHAIN, BY JIM DUNLOP
2) TPR ON US HR 151 ON COMFORT WOMEN, AND WHY IT’S NOT A BAD THING
3) THE IDUBOR CASE: INCARCERATION WITHOUT EVIDENCE, WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
4) MOFA ALLOWS CONVICTED DISRUPTER INTO HUMAN RIGHTS MEETING (UPDATED)
5) THREE JAPAN TIMES COLUMNS ONLINE
… along with RESPONSE TO DOREEN SIMMONS ON ASASHORYU SCANDAL
6) IJUUREN PUBLISHES NGO POLICY PROPOSALS ON MINORITIES IN JAPAN

and finally…
7) GREGORY CLARK DEFENDS PM MIYAZAWA’S CORRUPTION, AND MY RESPONSE
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By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, freely forwardable)

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1) DISCRIMINATION AT “HOLIDAY SPORTS CLUB” CHAIN, BY JIM DUNLOP

Debito.org has been proud to offer a forum for those who bring up issues about life and social issues in Japan (I can’t be everywhere at once ), and am glad to turn over the keyboard to Jim Dunlop for this excerpt:================EXCERPT BEGINS========================
HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AT A WELL-KNOWN JAPANESE GYM CHAIN
“YOUNG, HEALTHY JAPANESE PEOPLE ONLY, PLEASE!”

By Jim Dunlop, August 30, 2007
drinkacupofcoffee AT gmail.com

Holiday Sports Club is a chain of gyms/exercise centers all across Japan.
http://www.holiday-sc.jp/
There are about 33 locations spanning Honshu and one in Hokkaido. (This also happens to be the club where my wife and I are currently members). Since we joined this gym, a number of issues have arisen that I think need to be made public and brought to the attention of anyone who may be considering supporting this business. Be aware, that if you are either a foreigner, or have any sort of physical disability, you may be discriminated against, or even prevented from joining. Here’s the scoop:
================EXCERPT ENDS==========================

Full report at
http://www.debito.org/?p=550

I thank Jim for writing his report well and concisely (I could simply blog it without edits), and welcome other writers in future. Other contributions to Debito.org from Sakanaka Hidenori, Chong Hyang Gyun, and Eric Johnston on pertinent issues at
http://www.debito.org/publications.html#otherauthors

Speaking of good writing:

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2) TPR ON US HR 151 ON COMFORT WOMEN, AND WHY IT’S NOT A BAD THING

Trans Pacific Radio keeps on pumping out good critique and even better essays. One I found most informative was on the US House of Representatives Resolution on the Comfort Women (passed July 30).

================EXCERPT BEGINS========================
…The negative view, that the US is meddling in the affairs of a sovereign Japan, is even more porous than the positive view.

For starters, as I mentioned above, the US House, through this Resolution, is not advocating, much less taking any action against Japan. There is nothing in H.R. 121 that suggests that even the House thinks Japan should take it seriously. Constituents of a member of the US House of Representatives, Mike Honda of California, made a complaint and Representative Honda took that complaint to the appropriate Congressional committee, in this case the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Representative Tom Lantos, also of California. The propriety of the Committee’s actions in this case should not be in doubt. Since when have governments or governmental agencies been concerned only with their own actions or incidents that occur on their own soil? Should the House Committee on Foreign Affairs be taken to task for condemning what is now going on in Darfur? Few outside of the Sudanese government would say so.

But when it comes to now peaceful Japan, such actions, even in the form of flaccid nudges, become “meddling.”

There is no meddling. No agent of any part of the US government is trying to change any internal policy in Japan. The closest thing to this would be the resolution that states that Japan “should educate current and future generations about this horrible crime while following the recommendations of the international community with respect to the ‘comfort women’.” This, though, is not telling Japan how to educate its children or plan its school curricula.

Meddling requires at least some hint of action.

The first two times H.R. 121 was set to face a vote in the Foreign Affairs Committee, it was taken off the agenda due to pressure from the six-figure-a-month Japan lobby in Washington. Pressure was put on members of Congress and diplomatic strings were pulled to silence the issue.

Members of the Government of Japan took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post demanding that the Resolution not be passed and Ryozo Kato, Japan’s Ambassador to the United States, threatened strained or damaged relations should the Resolution pass.

That, dear readers, is meddling….
================EXCERPT ENDS==========================

This is what the blogosphere can do best–present an alternative viewpoint from a dedicated researcher, and amplify it with good writing (unscathed from the again “nicely, nicely” tendencies of corporate journalism beholden to advertisers).

Have a read (or better yet, a listen; Garrett is a good reader) at
http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/08/02/the-comfort-women-resolution-hr-121-passed-why-thats-not-bad/

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3) THE IDUBOR CASE: INCARCERATION WITHOUT EVIDENCE, WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

On January 22, 2007, more than seven months ago, Osayuwamen IDUBOR, a Nigerian national and owner of a bar in Yokohama was arrested and formally charged on February 9, 2007, of raping a Japanese woman in the early morning hours of November 1, 2006. He is currently in the Yokohama Detention Center (kouchi shisho) where he remains to this day. His lawyer, a Mr Tsurusaki of Yokohama, petitioned for his release on May 21, 2007, but was refused by the court. Report from his lawyer at
http://www.debito.org/?p=537

Mrs. Idubor’s (a Polish national) has told me in several phone conversations that her husband’s health is deteriorating. She has seen in prison visits that he has a rash all over his scalp, his hair is falling out, and there is blood coming from his ear. She says that police have denied him access to a hospital and sufficient medical treatment (similar to the Valentine Case, http://www.debito.org/valentinelawsuit.html).

UPDATE: On September 3, there was another court hearing (proceedings at http://www.debito.org/?p=547). It was unsuccessful. The court interpreter (which the court appoints) was incompetent, and the judge didn’t understand Mrs. Idubor’s testimony. So they have to repeat the hearing and Osayuwamen has to languish in jail another month.

That hearing will take place on October 11, 2PM, Yokohama District Court. Open to the public. Attend if you like.

Then there will be one more hearing after that, apparently. Which means Osayuwamen will be lucky to be sprung from the clink by the end of 2007.

Why can’t he be sprung now? We have witnesses saying he didn’t do it. We have no material evidence saying he did. Why the presumption of guilt to this degree? My steadily intruding suspicion is that he’s being treated as more of a flight risk because he’s a foreigner (i.e. he might flee the country), although my sources indicate that nobody has the right to a speedy trial in this country anyway.

Meanwhile, Osayuwamen rots in jail (quite literally) for another few months–and the court can’t get its act together enough to even get a competent interpreter? How unprofessional. And cruel and unusual punishment.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

1) The Idubors are having trouble making ends meet, given that they are paying for a lawyer and Mrs. Idubor is running the bar in his place. So you can:

a) Contribute to their legal funds through their bank account:
===================
Osayuwamen Idubor
Mizuho Bank LTD. , Tokyo
Machida branch
A/C NO.: 116-2788496

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

b) Stop by their bar and buy a drink. It’s in Yokohama, and a friend of mine stopped by a few days ago (on a completely coincidental recommendation from a different bar) and said it’s very nice:

===================
Big Ys Cafe
Yokohama-shi Naka-ku
Yamashita-cho 106-3
Laport Motomachi 104
Tel. 045-662-2261

===================
Its open from 18:00 till morning. Map there:
http://www.debito.org/bigycafemap.xls
http://www.debito.org/bigycafemap.htm

c) Join Mrs Idubor when she visits her husband every weekday in prison. She might be able to take two visitors with her each day. Contact me at debito@debito.org (please entitle your email “Idubor visit request”) and I’ll forward your email to her.

In any case, thanks for reading. Your attention and assistance is very helpful to the Idubors at a time like this.

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4) MOFA ALLOWS CONVICTED DISRUPTER INTO HUMAN RIGHTS MEETING (UPDATED)

On August 31, 2007, a public meeting (iken koukan kai, reference site at http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/press/event/jinshu.html) on the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Tokyo, was disrupted and sabotaged by right-wing troublemakers. Shouting epithets and arguments designed to wind up the human-rights NGOs, the unidentified right-wingers managed to bring the meeting to a standstill, while the six ministries attending the meeting showed a complete inability to keep the meeting under control.

Proceedings ended a half hour early without hearing the opinions of all the attendees, and my opinion is mixed on whether or not the impasse could have been avoided by not taking the bait. In any case, it is a sign to this author that the ultraconservative elements within Japan are not only taking notice of the gain in traction for human rights in Japan, they are doing their best to throw sand in the deliberation process. We will have to develop a thicker skin towards these elements in future, as this is probably only the beginning.

Fuller report at
http://www.debito.org/?p=544

Comparative report on what happened last MOFA Hearing (July 28, 2006) on this subject at
http://www.debito.org/?p=543.

UPDATE:

I received a call on September 3 from someone else who attended the meeting, about one of the attendees:

A Mr Nishimura Shuuhei, who sat in the back of the room that day, has a history of being taken to court for his behavior of disrupting public meetings on the Comfort Women issue. According to my source, he was sentenced for “illegal obstruction of official duties” (iryou gyoumu bougai–a charge I don’t completely understand myself) on October 4, 2001, at the Yokohama District Court, to 1 year and 6 months of prison, suspended for five years.

Despite his criminal record of disrupting public meetings and acting as agent provocateur, the MOFA allowed Nishimura to attend this meeting, and help disrupt it.

This issue was taken before the Bureau of Human Rights this morning, but my source indicates that they do not intend to do much about it (agreed, see my experience with the BOHR at http://www.debito.org/policeapology.html –they even have a history of advising the Otaru City Government in the Otaru Onsens Case that “there will be no penalty” if they neglect to pass any laws against racial discrimination: http://www.debito.org/jinkenyougobu112999.jpg)

The GOJ shows little willpower indeed to deal with issues of hate speech, or even show resolve to keep their meetings calm and debate reasoned. Then again, this may be an excuse for the GOJ to say they’ll hold no more meetings, since there’s a chance they’ll only end in organized chaos. More thoughts on that at
http://www.debito.org/?p=544

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5) THREE JAPAN TIMES COLUMNS ONLINE
… along with RESPONSE TO DOREEN SIMMONS ON ASASHORYU SCANDAL

Despite the holiday, I am pleased to say that the Japan Times Community Page published three of my columns (that’s 39 so far over five years; time to ask for a raise ), on the Valentine Case, the National NJ Blame Game, and the Asashoryu Scandal and Sumo’s Excesses.I’ve already sent versions of these out to many of my lists, but they are all blogged (as “Director’s Cuts”) at
http://www.debito.org/publications.html#JOURNALISTIC

Grand Dame of Sumo Doreen Simmons kindly commented on co-authored COUNTERPOINT essay (with James Eriksson, http://www.debito.org/?p=542) to correct a point of fact. She also wrote an article in the Kansai Time Out (September 2007) on the Asa controversy. Courtesy of Steve, in PDF format, downloadable for those nowhere near a KTO-selling outlet from Debito.org here:
http://www.debito.org/asasimmonskto.pdf

First have a look at it. Then here’s what I think about it:

================COMMENT FROM DEBITO BEGINS================
I don’t claim to know anywhere even near what Doreen knows, but my reaction is one of general disappointment with her essay. It’s not all that well written (it goes kerplunk at the end, with no conclusion), indicating to me that like movie director Kurosawa Akira, she’s gotten too senior in society to take an edit.

James thought there was no new ground covered, just rehash plus history. I would agree–there’s nothing covered in depth, such as examining the possible motives re WHY Asa is being carpeted this much now. The media has jumped on Asa in the past, but this time all things seem to be in confluence–so well that one could make an argument that the JSA is trying to force Asa out by making things too uncomfortable for him to stay. He could thus quit without tarnishing Sumo’s Mongolian connection. Bit of a stretch, yes. But let’s allude to it even if only to eliminate it.

Even though historically, as Doreen noted in her article, Asa is getting plenty more rope compared to other defrocked wrestlers, James and I see the JSA even going so far as fanning the flames around Asa themselves, in order to take the heat off their own excesses. It’s not as if Asa has all the same tools at his disposal (such as they are in the Sumo world) as a regular J rikishi to defend himself. He’s not even a native speaker.

In sum, Doreen is not at all questioning the very fabric of Sumo, which helps create these uncontrollable sumo “frankensteins” that the JSA have to reel in from time to time. My feeling after reading is that Doreen was just informing us how much she knows about the sport, and indirectly chiding anyone for commenting on Sumo at all without her level of knowledge (which she’ll impart at her convenience, thank you very much).

That was certainly the feeling I got when I asked Doreen for comment before I submitted the above essay to the Japan Times. Her response (excerpt):

========DOREEN’S RESPONSE=====================
“There is so much to take issue with, and it would take a couple of hours at least. Although I was extremely busy before, I found time to point out just one glaring error, in the Onaruto story–but why should I clean up somebody else’s article free of charge? If invited, I will be happy to write a rebuttal–for a fee.”
========DOREEN’S RESPONSE ENDS=================

Sorry to have bothered her. Also glad she was paid for her opinions (such as they are) by the KTO, not me.

================COMMENT ENDS==========================
http://www.debito.org/?p=551

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6) IJUUREN PUBLISHES NGO POLICY PROPOSALS ON MINORITIES IN JAPAN

Solidarity with Migrants Japan (SMJ, Ijuuren) has just published a book you might be interested in ordering:

*********************
Living Together with Migrants and Ethnic Minorities in Japan
NGO Policy Proposals

*********************
Table of Contents
Preface
Terms

Part I: At the Crossroads of Migrants Policies
Chapter 1: Toward the Future of Harmonious Multiethnic and
Multicultural Coexistence
Chapter 2: Enactment of Legislation for Human Rights and Harmonious
Coexistence

Part II: Over Individual Issues
Chapter 3: Right to Work and Rights of Working People
Chapter 4: Rights of Migrant Women
Chapter 5: Human Rights for Families and Children
Chapter 6: Education of Children
Chapter 7: Healthcare and Social Security Services
Chapter 8: Local Autonomy and Foreign Residents
Chapter 9: Opening the Gates to Refugees
Chapter 10: Detention and Deportation
Chapter 11: The Right to Trial
Chapter 12: Eliminating Racism and Discrimination against Foreigners

Publisher: Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (Ijuuren, SMJ)
Date of publication: July 31, 2007, 1st English edition
Price: JPY 1500 (excluding mailing cost)
ISBN 4-87798-346-8 C0036

This book is translated from the Japanese version published in 2006.

More information on both books at
http://www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net/Japanese/Japanese.html

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and finally…

7) GREGORY CLARK DEFENDS PM MIYAZAWA’S CORRUPTION, AND MY RESPONSE

Old friend Greg Clark has no shortage of opinions (doubtless he would say the same about me), and he makes the pretty plain in his bimonthly column in the Japan Times.

In his column last July, Greg wrote an epitaph-style Japan Times column/ode about his old friend, former Prime Minister Miyazawa Kiichi, who was facing mixed reviews in the J press at the time of his death for not dealing with the Bubble Economy properly.

Greg defends his old friend with aplomb. So much so that he excuseth too much, in my opinion–even Kiichi’s corruption. First his column, then my unpublished letter to the editor in response.

================EXCERPT BEGINS========================
NOT TO BLAME FOR ‘BUBBLE’–MIYAZAWA KNEW ECONOMICS
The Japan Times: Monday, July 16, 2007

By GREGORY CLARK
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20070716gc.html

Obituaries for former Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, who died recently at age 87, agreed that he was a statesman and a genuine internationalist. But some–those from Nikkei, Japan’s leading economic media group, especially–also criticized him as a Keynesian economist responsible for Japan’s economic troubles in recent years. It is time to set the record straight…

He was criticized for involvement in the so-called Recruit scandal. In fact, that nonscandal was simply an attempt by the Recruit company to make sure its issues of new shares went into the hands of responsible people it liked rather than the usual collection of gangsters, speculators and corrupt securities companies that dominated new share issues at the time. The fact that many of its share recipients made profits was largely because almost-new shares issues were profitable in Japan’s go-go stock markets at the time.
================EXCERPT ENDS==========================

I sent a letter to the editor to the Japan Times, which after two months is probably not going to be printed. Here it is:

========LETTER TO THE EDITOR BEGINS===========
Greg Clark shows his true colors in his most recent editorial (“Miyazawa knew economics”, July 16). Not as some kind of economist, but as an embedded elite.

Whatever intellectual sleight of hand he wishes to employ (to pedestal one of the few prime ministers ever booted out by a “no confidence” vote) still doesn’t excuse the fact that Greg is using puffery to defend a friend. Even going so far as to justify Miyazawa’s corruption in the Recruit Scandal.

Thankfully, Greg acknowledges that Miyazawa and he were buddies, thanks to the latter’s connections to father Sir Colin Clark. But unmentioned is that Greg’s coming over here immediately landed him in Japan’s elite society. All foreigners should be so lucky.

For all Greg’s bully pulpiting about the excesses of Japan’s power brokers, for him to try to explain away this much about a man like Miyazawa proves the axiom that power corrupts.

========LETTER TO THE EDITOR ENDS============
http://www.debito.org/?p=554

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That’s quite enough for today. Thanks to everyone for reading and supporting Debito.org!

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
Daily blog entries at http://www.debito.org/index.php
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 8, 2007 ENDS

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