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  • Yonatan Owens’ excellent riposte Letter to the Editor re J Immigration policy

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on December 27th, 2009

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    Hi Blog.  A quick one, while I’m away (apologies to The Who).  I’m currently in Monbetsu, Hokkaido, enjoying a few days of post-Xmas cheer (quite a lot of it, I might add).  As a lovely present, I saw two supportive letters in the Japan Times countering the four nasty ones that came out last week (the ones I mention proving that some people really do suck).  One letter is here.  The other one, eminently satisfying, is below.  I love it when people stand up for themselves.   Thanks for writing in, folks.  Arudou Debito in Monbetsu

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    The Japan Times Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009
    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20091222hs.html
    READERS IN COUNCIL
    Civil rights and immigration issues
    By YONATAN OWENS Oita

    Regarding the Dec. 22 article “Level playing field for immigrants: responses“: I am not surprised to see that the people who kindly told columnist Debito Arudou to mind his own business and let Japan do as it wishes have given up on Japan and left, will do so soon, or do not even live here. Maybe the ones who really should be minding their own business are those who have given up on their claim to a life here in the first place.

    I am not interested in hearing how Japan has long had a fabulous system concerning immigration and how the “Western countries” should learn something from Japan’s example. The Western countries mentioned have long, complex histories of occupation, enslavement and violence in the same nations whose immigrants they now bemoan receiving.

    Likewise, Japan has ethnic Chinese and Koreans who live here in a state of permanent limbo, half-assimilated, half-excluded. Japan also has many Southeast Asians who are looking for opportunities in the same nation that once came looking for opportunities in their nations. Like “the West,” Japan has a responsibility toward these individuals and cannot simply ignore them now that it is no longer socially acceptable to exploit them.

    The question of civil rights in Japan is real and the question of immigration will soon be as well. Japan cannot simply turn back the clock and expel the foreigners. To avoid future confrontation and hardship for everyone — Japanese and foreigners alike — these issues require serious consideration. Some of us here are not just expatriates or perpetual tourists; some of us are trying our hardest to lead a normal life in the land that we live in and love. If you won’t help, why get in the way?
    ENDS

    7 Responses to “Yonatan Owens’ excellent riposte Letter to the Editor re J Immigration policy”

    1. HO Says:

      >Like “the West,” Japan has a responsibility toward these individuals (Southeast Asians).

      I have hard time making out his point. Why does Japan have responsibility towards Southeast Asians “like the West”? What responsibility does the West have toward them?

    2. Manule Says:

      I don’t know about southeast asians, but latin americans of japanese descent like myself were invited to come here on Technical Training programs and the last thing we got was that, instead we worked hard and long hours to help the growing industrial momentum of the time, and now that things have cooled down there are some ungrateful who pretend to ignore our contribution to this country. I believe there is a moral responsability.

    3. James Annan Says:

      HO,

      I believe the point is that Japan has a responsibility towards (descendants of) those it exploited, as the West does to (the descendants of) those it exploited – the groups of exploited differ in each case.

    4. D.B. Cooper Says:

      What responsibility does the West have toward them?

      Interference by the West in the affairs of the peoples of Asia was long and brutal. The cost in human life and suffering of imperialism and colonialism is truly appalling not to mention the plundering of wealth and raw materials. The so called advanced nations exploited and enslaved whole peoples and condemned them to lives of misery.

      India – French, Dutch and British before British expanded control in 1757.
      Sri Lanka- conquered by Portugal(1505), the Netherlands (1656), and then Britain (1796).
      Macau – Portuguese colony, first European colony in China (1557).
      Hong Kong – British colony from 1841 to 1997.
      Malaysia- Portuguese then British.
      Singapore – Portuguese then British.
      Burma – merged with India by the British from 1886 to 1937.
      Indonesia and surrounding islands – occupied by the Dutch.
      Indo-China – French; including Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
      Thailand – nominally independent, but subject to British and French influence.
      Philippines – Spanish until revolt of 1896, then acquired by the U.S. after the Spanish-American War of 1898 for $20 million.

      I think the West bears a huge responsibilty both morally and financially to somehow make amends to the peoples of Southeast Asia but I fear it is a debt that will never be repaid.

    5. Yonatan Says:

      The comment was meant to mean like “the West” has a responsibility towards the various countries that they occupied in the past (France to Algeria, England to India, America to native Americans and to people from various countries it has waged dirty wars in, etc.) Since they trimmed down my response, it seems a little out of context.

      This was the original:

      “I am not surprised to see that of the people who kindly told Arudou to mind his own business and let Japan do as it wishes, all of them have either given up on Japan and left, will do so soon, or do not even live here. Maybe the ones who really should be minding their own business are those that have forfeited their claims to a life here in the first place.

      I am not interested in hearing how Japan has long had a fabulous system concerning immigration and how the so-called “Western countries” have failed and should learn something from Japan’s example. The “Western countries” mentioned have long, complex histories of occupation, enslavement, and violence in the same nations that they now bemoan receiving immigrants from. Likewise, Japan has the ethnic Chinese and Koreans that now live here in a state of permanent limbo, half-assimilated, half-excluded. Japan also has many Southeast Asians who are now looking for opportunities in the very same nation that once came looking for opportunities in their own nations. Like “the West,” Japan has a responsibility towards these individuals and cannot simply ignore them now that it is now longer socially acceptable to exploit them anymore.

      The question of civil rights in Japan is real and the question of immigration will soon be as well. Japan cannot simply turn back the clock and expel the foreigners anymore than it can to not go to war. To avoid future confrontation and hardship for everyone- ethnically Japanese and not -these issues require serious consideration. Some of us here are not just expatriates or perpetual tourists. Some of us are trying our hardest to lead a normal life in the land that we live in and love. If you won’t help, why get in the way?”

    6. Ariel Says:

      HO, I think the writer is referring to the aftermath of colonialism. “The West”, and later Japan, seriously interfered with the development of that part of the world when they were forcefully occupying them, so the idea that Southeast Asians immigrating to Europe, North America, and Japan should be treated fairly and compassion does not strike me as unreasonable. In fact, it seems like a bare minimum in terms of morality.

    7. HO Says:

      Yonatan and all, thank you for clarifying.

      I do not think colonization in the past should be linked to immigration today. A country accepts immigrants for its own good. The immigration from a developing country to a developed country brings prosperity to the developed country, whereas the same means loss of human resource for the developing country. It is not an amendment for colonization. Official development assistance should be the way to amend the past.

      Chinese and Koreans, especially in their second generation, can assimilate into Japanese society through naturalization, cannot they?

      – Not as simple as that, HO, and you know it. I think I’ve suggested in the past you get to know some Zainichis. Still bleating on without missing a beat or bothering to do any research, I see.

      Oh, yes, and ODA. Take our money, keep your aliens. It’s in the same vein as Japan’s policy towards refugees. But now I’m digressing…

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