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  • DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 28, 2010

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on February 28th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi All. Before I start this Newsletter:

    QUICK REQUEST

    Calling all Debito.org Readers: “Japanese Only” signs in Kansai, Nagoya, and Kanto areas? For March 2010 UN inspection.

    I have just heard that the United Nations will be coming to visit Japan again in late March to see how she’s doing regarding keeping her promise to eliminate with racial discrimination.

    I know for a fact that “Japanese Only” etc. signs and rules are up around Japan in various guises and places of visit. I have been asked to help out giving a tour of these places in the Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, and/or Tokyo areas.

    So let me ask Debito.org Readers: Do you know of any places open to the public in these areas that explicitly refuse NJ (or those who look like NJ) entry and service? The best places actually have a sign up saying so. If so, please send me (to debito@debito.org) 1) a snap photo (cellphone ok) of the sign, 2) a snap of the storefront with the sign visible, 3) the name and approximate address of the place and date of photos. I’ll do the rest. Thanks for helping out.

    Now back to…

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 27, 2010
    Table of Contents:

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    WHY THINGS DON’T CHANGE
    1) Dejima Award for racist Sumo Kyoukai: Decides to count naturalized Japanese as foreigners and limit stables to one “foreigner”
    (this will be the subject of my next JAPAN TIMES JUST BE CAUSE column, due out March 2, 2010)
    2) Colin Jones and Daily Yomiuri on J judiciary’s usurpingly paternal attitudes re families post-divorce
    3) SMJ/NGO combined report for UN CERD Committee regarding Japan’s human rights record
    4) Kyodo & Mainichi: 14 prefectures now oppose NJ PR suffrage (Debito.org names them)

    WHY THINGS ARE CHANGING
    5) International community serves demarche to MOFA re Int’l Child Abductions Issue, Jan 30 2010
    6) Int’l Child Abductions Issue: USG formally links support to GOJ re DPRK abductions with GOJ’s signing of Hague Treaty
    7) Japan Times: Foreign press pulling out of Japan in favor of China
    8 ) Kyodo: NJ “Trainees” win Y17 million for trainee abuses by employer and “broker”
    9) DailyFinance.com: McDonald’s Japan loses big, shutting 430 outlets, thanks in part to “Mr James” campaign
    10) Japan Times: Immigration dropping social insurance requirement for visa renewal
    11) Comfort Hotel Nagoya unlawfully tries Gaijin Card check on NJ resident, admits being confused by GOJ directives

    THEN THERE IS OUTRIGHT NASTINESS
    12) Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP flyer, likens granting NJ PR suffrage to UFO alien invasion. Seriously.
    13) Mainichi: Rwandan Refugee applicant jailed for weeks for not having photograph on GOJ-issued document
    14) Ariel updates experience with not-random Gaijin Card and Passport Checks by Narita cops
    15) Day Care Center in Tokorozawa, Saitama teaches toddlers “Little Black Sambo”, complete with the epithets
    16) Kyodo et.al falls for NPA spins once again, headlines NJ “white collar crime” rise despite NJ crime fall overall
    17) Laura Petrescu, MEXT Scholar, update: Bowing out of Japan, reasons why.

    TANGENTS
    18) Olympic Tangent: US-born Reed siblings skate for “Team Japan” despite one being too old to have dual nationality
    19) UK Independent: Toyota’s problems being pinned on foreign parts.
    20) Debito.org Poll: “Are you rooting for Team Japan in the Vancouver Olympics?” Vote on any blog page http://www.debito.org
    21) LA Times: “Korea activists target foreign English teachers”
    22) Odd treatment of “naturalized” people (guess who) by Air Canada/Canadian Government at Narita Airport
    23) Dentistry in Canada, wow, what a difference!

    … and finally …
    24) SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO column on Middle Age (full text)
    /////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
    Daily Blog Updates, RSS, and Newsletter signups at www.debito.org
    Freely Forwardable

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

    WHY THINGS DON’T CHANGE

    1) Dejima Award for racist Sumo Kyoukai: Decides to count naturalized Japanese as foreigners and limit stables to one “foreigner”
    (this will be the subject of my next JAPAN TIMES JUST BE CAUSE column, due out March 2, 2010)

    In one more step to define Japan’s slide into international irrelevance, the national sport (kokugi) has decided to turn not only exclusionary, but also undeniably racist. The Japan Sumo Association announced this week that it will no longer count naturalized Japanese sumo wrestlers as “real Japanese”. Then it will limit each stable to one “foreign” wrestler, meaning “foreignness” is a matter of birth, not a legal status. This is a move, we are told by the media, to stop sumo from being “overrun with foreign wrestlers”.

    That means that if I wanted to become a sumo wrestler, I would become a foreigner again. Even though I’ve spent nearly a quarter of my life (as in close to ten years) as a Japanese citizen in Japan.

    Well, f*** you very much, Sumo Kyoukai. You are the shame of Japan. And I’ll talk more about it on March 2, so get a copy of the Japan Times!

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6026

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    2) Colin Jones and Daily Yomiuri on J judiciary’s usurpingly paternal attitudes re families post-divorce

    One more piece in the puzzle about why divorces with children in tow in Japan are so problematic. As we’ve discussed here before umpteen times, Japan does not allow joint custody (thanks to the Koseki Family Registry system etc.), nor does it guarantee visitation rights. Following below is another excellent article by Colin Jones on why that is — because Japan’s paternalistic courts and bureaucrats believe they know more than the parents about what’s best for the child. It’s one more reason why I believe that without substantial reforms, nobody should marry (Japanese or NJ) and have children under the Japanese system as it stands right now.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5919

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    3) SMJ/NGO combined report for UN CERD Committee regarding Japan’s human rights record

    The Government of Japan comes under review this month in Geneva by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. I was invited to submit a chapter for a report to the UN by the NGO Solidarity with Migrants Japan (SMJ) on how Japan is doing with enforcing it.

    NGO Report Regarding the Rights of Non-Japanese Nationals, Minorities of Foreign Origins, and Refugees in Japan.

    Prepared for the 76th United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Session February 2010
    Compiled and published by: Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)

    CHAPTER 2 Race and Nationality-based Entrance Refusals at Private and Quasi-Public Establishments By Debito Arudou. Page 7

    As I conclude:

    “In conclusion, the situation is that in Japan, racial discrimination remains unconstitutional and unlawful under the ICERD, yet not illegal. Japan has had more than a decade since 1996 to pass a criminal law against RD. Its failure to do so can only be interpreted as a clear violation of ICERD Article 2(1): “States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay [emphasis added] a policy of eliminating racial discrimination.” We urge the Committee to make the appropriate advisements to the Japanese government to pass a law against racial discrimination without any further delay.”

    Enjoy. Let’s see how the UN and GOJ respond. Here’s how the GOJ responded in 2008 — read and guffaw at their claim that they have taken “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination”.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6000

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    4) Kyodo & Mainichi: 14 prefectures now oppose NJ PR suffrage (Debito.org names them)

    Kyodo: Local assemblies in 14 of Japan’s 47 prefectures have adopted statements in opposition to giving permanent foreign residents in Japan the right to vote in local elections since the Democratic Party of Japan took power last year, a Kyodo News tally showed Monday.

    Before the launch last September of the new government under Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama who supports granting local suffrage, 31 prefectural assemblies took an affirmative stance, but six of them have turned against it since then.

    (Those open-minded prefectures are: Akita, Yamagata, Chiba, Ibaraki, Toyama, Ishikawa, Shimane, Kagawa, Oita, Saga, Nagasaki and Kumamoto, plus Saitama and Niigata)

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5955

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    WHY THINGS ARE CHANGING

    5) International community serves demarche to MOFA re Int’l Child Abductions Issue, Jan 30 2010

    Various media: Envoys of eight countries met the Japanese foreign minister Jan 30, 2010, to press the government to sign a treaty to prevent international parental child abductions.

    Activists say that thousands of foreign parents have lost access to children in Japan, where the courts virtually never award child custody to a divorced foreign parent.

    Japan is the only nation among the Group of Seven industrialised nations that has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention that requires countries to return a child wrongfully kept there to their country of habitual residence.

    In the latest move to urge Tokyo to sign the convention, envoys from Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and the United States expressed their concerns to Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada…

    The envoys’ visit to Okada followed their meeting with Justice Minister Keiko Chiba in October, as they hope Japan’s new centre-left government, which ended a half-century of conservative rule in September, will review the issue.

    Activist groups estimate that over the years up to 10,000 dual-citizenship children in Japan have been prevented from seeing a foreign parent.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5892

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    6) Int’l Child Abductions Issue: USG formally links support to GOJ re DPRK abductions with GOJ’s signing of Hague Treaty

    Commenter PT: For years now, going back to the release of the Megumi Yokota movie back in late 2006/early 2007, we have been trying to point out the hypocrisy of the Japanese government in insisting that the United States support their efforts to get back their 17 citizens abducted to North Korea between 27 and 33 years ago, while continuing their ongoing state sponsored kidnapping of hundreds of American children to Japan. Well, it looks like we have finally reached the point where the United States Government has once and for all pointed this hypocrisy out to the Japanese Government.

    Kyodo: A senior U.S. government official has warned Japan that its failure to join an international treaty on child custody may have adverse effects on Washington’s assistance to Tokyo in trying to resolve the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals, diplomatic sources said Saturday.

    Kurt Campbell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, made the remarks to senior Japanese Foreign Ministry officials during his visit to Japan in early February and strongly urged the Japanese government to become a party to the treaty, the sources said…

    He noted that there is something in common in the sorrows felt by Japanese people whose children were abducted by North Korea and by Americans whose children were taken away by their Japanese spouses, the sources said…

    Japan has been largely reluctant to do so, with a senior Foreign Ministry official saying, “It does not suit Japanese culture to treat parents, who have brought back their children to the country, as criminals.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5950

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    7) Japan Times: Foreign press pulling out of Japan in favor of China

    In a new trend of “Japan Passing” (a play on the old debate-stifling term “Japan Bashing”, except this time it refers to Japan being passed over in importance as the purported “leader of Asia”, in favor of China), we see the ultimate effect of Japan’s closed-door policies towards the outside world (including immigration) — foreign correspondents pulling out and closing up shop, turning fading economic superpower Japan into an international media backwater by degrees. It’s sad to see the FCCJ (who accepted me as an associate member earlier this year, thanks) dwindling this much. But after “two lost decades” of Japan’s economic stagnation and the previous decade criminalizing and excluding immigrants, culminating in a policy push to send them “home” despite all their contributions, it’s just one more chicken coming home to roost.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5804

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    8 ) Kyodo: NJ “Trainees” win Y17 million for trainee abuses by employer and “broker”

    Kyodo: The Kumamoto District Court awarded more than Y17 million in damages Friday to four Chinese interns who were forced to work long hours for low wages in Kumamoto Prefecture.

    The court ordered that the union Plaspa Apparel, which arranged the trainee work for the four, to pay Y4.4 million and that the actual employer, a sewing agency, pay y12.8 million in unpaid wages.

    It is the first ruling that held a job broker for foreign trainees liable for their hardship…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5868

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    9) DailyFinance.com: McDonald’s Japan loses big, shutting 430 outlets, thanks in part to “Mr James” campaign

    Article: McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) is closing 430 restaurants in Japan, the latest sign of the faltering economy in the Asian country — The Golden Arches has been struggling in Japan for a while. Last year, a marketing campaign featuring “Mr. James,” a geeky, Japan-loving American, was denounced as an offensive flop, according to Time.com. McDonald’s has tried to appeal to Japanese tastes with wassabi burgers, chicken burgers and sukiyaki burgers. A Texas Burger, with barbecue sauce, fried onions, bacon, cheese and spicy mustard, proved to be a hit. But consolidated sales at McDonald’s Japan fell 10.8% last year. Profit is expected to plunge 54.7% this year.

    COMMENT: Kinda makes you believe in karma. Zamaa miro.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5964

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    10) Japan Times: Immigration dropping social insurance requirement for visa renewal

    Some good news worth bringing up here for discussion. The upcoming Immigration guideline changes that would have required enrollment in Japan social insurance for visa renewals has been dropped, or at least deleted from their checklist of requirements.

    On balance, this is a good thing. I have heard plenty of complaints from NJ saying how they would have to stump up full back payments for insurance that their employer should have paid half of (but utilized the cut-off starting point of 30 hours/week for “full-time” mandatory employer insurance contributions by employing their NJ staff contractually for 29.5 hours), or be denied a visa renewal. Of course, Japan’s (pretty weak) labor law enforcement bodies should have gone after these exploitative employers, but Immigration instead did the quick and dirty (and, yes, sensible) step you see below of just snipping out the guideline. It’s still a good thing, in that pressure for flexibility in the system for NJ who may have otherwise been shafted both ways by the system did win out.

    First a Japan Times article excerpt, then a rebuttal from Debito.org Reader TA sent to the editor of the Japan Times, regarding the conflict of interest the advocate Free Choice Foundation has in this issue, et al.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5907

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    11) Comfort Hotel Nagoya unlawfully tries Gaijin Card check on NJ resident, admits being confused by GOJ directives

    Pursuant to the discussions we’ve had on Debito.org about exclusionary hotels, here’s an email I got last month regarding Comfort Hotel Nagoya’s treatment of a NJ customer, and how Debito.org empowered her to stand up for herself. Well done. Even the management says the administrative guidance offered by the authorities, as in the law requiring ID from NJ tourists vs. the official (but erroneous) demands that all NJ show ID, is confusing them. And since I’ve pointed this out several times both in print and to the authorities (and the US Government itself has also asked for clarification) to no avail, one can only conclude that the GOJ is willfully bending the law to target NJ (or people who look foreign) clients just because they think they can. Don’t let them. Do what SM did below and carry the law with you.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5733

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    THEN THERE IS OUTRIGHT NASTINESS

    12) Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP flyer, likens granting NJ PR suffrage to UFO alien invasion. Seriously.

    Here’s something I received the other day from Debito.org Reader XY. It’s a flyer he found in his mailbox from the Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP, advising people to “protect Japan and vote their conscience” (although they can’t legally use the word “vote” since it’s not an official election period). It talks about how “dangerous” it would be to grant NJ PR local suffrage.

    I’ve given some of the con arguments here before (from radical rightists loons like Hiranuma and co.), but this time it’s seventeen more mainstreamers (from a party which would otherwise be in power but for people voting their conscience last August) offering a number of questionable claims…

    My favorite bit is the illustration at the bottom. “JAPAN, LET’S PROTECT OURSELVES!!” Love how it’s an angry-looking alien ship with its sights on our archipelago. NJ as invading alien!! And I remember back in the day when we had a UFO Party waiting to cart us all away! How times change when there’s a real policy up for debate.

    But seriously folks, this isn’t some podunk backwater like Dejima Award Winner Setaka Town in Fukuoka. This is Edogawa-ku, the easternmost ku of Tokyo proper, right across the river from Chiba, with more than half a million registered residents. It’s not the type of place for xenophobic alarmist politicians to immaturely paint the spectre of an alien invasion in a serious debate.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6017

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    13) Mainichi: Rwandan Refugee applicant jailed for weeks for not having photograph on GOJ-issued document

    Here’s a case of how the GOJ can be incredibly insensitive towards how the J cops police NJ: Not issuing them documents properly just in case they get snagged for Gaijin Card checks:

    Mainichi: “A Rwandan man seeking refugee status in Japan has been held in custody for over two weeks, on suspicion of violating the Immigration Control Law.

    The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and refugee relief organizations are requesting his release, police said.

    The 30-year-old was arrested on Jan. 7 for failing to present valid identification after stopped by local police in the Aichi Prefecture city of Kita-Nagoya, according to his lawyer. He was carrying a copy of the receipt for his refugee status application, but the document was deemed invalid without a photograph.”

    This negligence on the part of otherwise thorough policing in Japan is worse than ironic. It should be unlawful — harassing, even incarcerating, otherwise law-abiding NJ just because they got zapped by racial profiling in the first place.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5830

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    14) Ariel updates experience with not-random Gaijin Card and Passport Checks by Narita cops

    Ariel on the continuing saga of the bored Narita Cops and their Gaijin Check Practice on Caucasian NJ: “One or two of the officers would periodically search for someone to check. They were most certainly not being random, they would stand in the flow of traffic and scan those passing by until someone caught their fancy and then they’d make a bee-line for them. I saw them stop a total of 11 people, ALL of whom were caucasian, and all of whom were walking alone or in pairs. None of the 11 protested, but then again they all had luggage and/or had just exited customs, so it’s quite possible they were mostly tourists. I did not see them stop any other NJs (black, latino, etc), but strangely there seemed to be only caucasians and asians in the terminal at the time (yes, I looked). The only time I saw the officers speak to an asian was when a young woman approached an officer and asked for directions.

    Granted this is essentially all anecdotal evidence, but it seems pretty clear that the police at Narita have been instructed to engage in active racial profiling. The oddest thing to me though is that these officers don’t seem to care about finding dangerous people, rather they seem to be targeting people who seem to be easy to approach and won’t make a fuss in order to make a quota and give the appearance that they are doing something to combat crime and terrorism. Is it just me, or is this the opposite of what the goal of airport security should be? Instead of keeping an alert watch out for legitimately suspicious people they are wasting half of their time stopping people they don’t think pose any threat!”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5901

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    15) Day Care Center in Tokorozawa, Saitama teaches toddlers “Little Black Sambo”, complete with the epithets

    Guest writer Mark Thompson: A daycare center named Midori Hoikuen, or Green Daycare Center, in Tokorozawa City in Saitama Prefecture, located just 30 minutes by train from Ikebukuro station in Tokyo, has been teaching hate speech to three-year old children daily, despite the protests of the parents of at least one biracial child in the class.

    Here is a quick translation of some of the frightening lyrics from the song the children are being taught to enjoy singing daily at the daycare center in Tokorozawa:

    “Little Black Sambo, sambo, sambo
    His face and hands are completely black
    Even his butt is completely black”

    The daycare center’s excuse is that since all of the children have already learned the title Little Black Sambo, there will be no change in the title whatsoever. The staff have continued to teach the use of the discriminatory word “sambo” and encourage the children to enjoy using it.

    Please take the time to contact the daycare center yourself, either in English or Japanese, and raise your concerns about the daycare center’s teaching of hate speech to young children. It will only take a minute of your time and contact information is provided below.

    Please also make your voice heard, by sending a carbon copy to Tokorozawa City Hall, Department of Daycare Services, which has been informed of this issue. Although technically a private institution, the parents [of the biracial child] were originally instructed by the city of Tokorozawa that their child would have attend daycare there.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6009

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    16) Kyodo et.al falls for NPA spins once again, headlines NJ “white collar crime” rise despite NJ crime fall overall

    It’s that time of year again. Time for the National Police Agency (NPA) Spring Offensive and Media Blitz against foreign crime. Article, then comment, then some original Japanese articles, to observe yet again how NJ are being criminalized by Japanese law enforcement and our domestic media:

    No. of white-collar crimes by foreigners up by 31.2% in 2009
    Thursday 25th February, 2010 Kyodo News

    TOKYO The National Police Agency detected 964 white-collar crimes by visiting foreigners in Japan last year, up 31.2% from the previous year, it said Thursday. The number of visiting foreigners charged with such crimes came to 546, up 7.9%, according to the NPA. It said notable among the crimes was teams using faked credit cards.

    The overall number of crimes committed by all foreigners in the reporting year fell 11.1% to 27,790, with 13,282 people, down 4.3%, charged, the NPA said.

    COMMENT: Yep. Same old same old. Parrot the NPA: Highlight the NJ crime rises, and play down the fact that NJ crime overall has gone down. And of course no depiction of J “white collar” (whatever that means) crime numbers, nor their ups or downs to give a sense of scale.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6040

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    17) Laura Petrescu, MEXT Scholar, update: Bowing out of Japan, reasons why.

    Guest Blog Entry: This is Laura Petrescu again — the MEXT scholarship grantee who shared her studying experience with you all last year.

    First of all, for those of you wondering why my story would be worth an update, here’s a little food for thought: what happened to me, and to other foreign students who were too bitter or too afraid to come out in the open, isn’t just a problem of one individual who couldn’t quite get used to living and studying here. It’s an entire system that rounds up gifted high-school graduates from around the world and brings them to Japan, but stops there; there are no follow-ups, no inquiries about students’ problems and general well-being, and everything is left to the universities where said graduates are placed. And, as I tried to point out in my other essay, some of these universities are not prepared to accommodate and deal with foreign students.

    I’ve decided to waive my scholarship and return to my home country. There are two reasons for my decision. [snip] Prospective MEXT students need to know all this. Having this information can help them decide whether it’s worth to spend five years here, re-learn everything they thought they knew about Japan, struggle to fit in, be treated questionably time and again, and possibly not learn anything beyond the absolute basics of their field, just to get a piece of cardboard that says they graduated from a Japanese university. Not to mention that the allowance is hardly enough to get by once they get kicked out of their dorm — and everyone gets kicked out of their dorm after a year (or two, if they’re lucky), and most of the small university taxes are NOT paid by MEXT (I had to pay roughly 80.000 JPY when I enrolled, no idea what those were for, but there you go). Add that to the cost of moving to another city (which most foreign students have to do after their preparatory year) and later on, the key money, etc., required to move to an apartment or mansion, and it’s obvious that not only the students, but also their families will probably have to make considerable efforts as well.

    COMMENT: This is bad news for Japanese institutes of higher education, which sorely need students due to the declining birthrate, and for Japan’s industrial prowess, which is poorly served by a system that cannot reap the benefits of international students being trained through our tax monies for our job market.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5863

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    TANGENTS

    18) Olympic Tangent: US-born Reed siblings skate for “Team Japan” despite one being too old to have dual nationality

    Olympics are the topic du jour, so let’s bring up something that relates to Debito.org.

    Debito.org Reader JPS sent me a comment yesterday with some links (thanks, see below) pointing out how once again in Japan, citizenship and dual nationality are political issues, not legal ones. We have dual nationals (in the case below, the Reeds, two Japanese-Americans) skating for Team Japan.

    For the record, I’m fine with that. Participate however you can in whatever team you choose as long as you’re doing so properly under Olympic rules. The problem is that under Japan’s rules, legally one of the Reeds should not be a dual national anymore — she had to choose one by age 22 and didn’t. But for the sake of politics and medals, we’re bending the laws yet again — claiming people as ours only when it suits us.

    Let’s just face reality, and allow dual nationality in Japan. Period. Then we have fewer identity problems and conflicts of interest.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5973

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    19) UK Independent: Toyota’s problems being pinned on foreign parts.

    Oh how the mighty have fallen. Toyota, once the #1 automaker worldwide (well, for a spell) after years of building on a sterling reputation created over decades for quality and service, has finally fallen to earth. I don’t think Shadenfreude is the natural order of things when titans stumble, but what I’ve always been miffed at is how little Toyota officially acknowledges the secret to their success is imported NJ workers helping them cut costs through low wages. (I could never find any official stats on how many NJ are part of the Toyota system within Japan.) I was wondering if someone would be blaming the foreigners for sloppy parts. Well, it turns out, they kinda are. Read on:

    In Toyota City, recalls are blamed on foreign components
    By David McNeill
    The Independent (UK) Wednesday, 3 February 2010…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5924

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    20) Debito.org Poll: “Are you rooting for Team Japan in the Vancouver Olympics?”

    Options:

    • Of course! Japan is my country and/or my home, and I support the home team!
    • No, I support a different country, ‘cos it’s my home, etc.
    • I don’t support “Teams”. I support individual athletes doing their personal best.
    • I don’t buy into this “Medal Count” and nationalism hooey.
    • Go anybody!
    • Don’t know / Don’t care / etc.

    Vote on any blog page http://www.debito.org

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    21) LA Times: “Korea activists target foreign English teachers”

    Creepy LA Times article on vigilante Korean otaku group stalking “English teachers”: “The volunteer manager of a controversial group known as the Anti-English Spectrum, Yie investigates complaints by South Korean parents, often teaming up with authorities, and turns over information from his efforts for possible prosecution.

    Outraged teachers groups call Yie an instigator and a stalker.

    Yie waves off the criticism. “It’s not stalking, it’s following,” he said. “There’s no law against that.”

    Since its founding in 2005, critics say, Yie’s group has waged an invective-filled nationalistic campaign against the 20,000 foreign-born English teachers in South Korea.

    On their website and through fliers, members have spread rumors of a foreign English teacher crime wave. They have alleged that some teachers are knowingly spreading AIDS, speculation that has been reported in the Korean press…”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5889

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    22) Odd treatment of “naturalized” people (guess who) by Air Canada/Canadian Government at Narita Airport

    I had an odd experience on Feb 5 at the hands of Air Canada in Narita. I was paged shortly before boarding along with about four other people to come to the Air Canada desk at the gate.

    They asked to see my passport. I obliged. Then they asked (whole exchange in Japanese):

    “You’re naturalized, right?” Yes.

    “What was your nationality before?”

    I paused and told them that was unessential information.

    “So you are unwilling to say?”

    I asked what this information was necessary for.

    “We’re just asking.”

    “No you’re not. Who needs this information? You as the airline?”

    “No, the Canadian Government wants it. They’re an immigration country. They’re trying to avoid faked passports.”

    Whaaaa…?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5934

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    23) Dentistry in Canada, wow, what a difference!

    Quick blog entry for today, as I recover from 9.5 hours of dental work over three days at an excellent Edmonton dentist’s. It wasn’t a comfortable experience, to be sure, but it wasn’t painful (I had a tooth pulled at age 7 or 8 — that set me on the straight and narrow when it comes to cleaning my teeth assiduously; five cavities at once this time were the first fillings I’ve had in about fifteen years.) And all told, I spent about 9 and a half hours in the dentist chair. Boy my mouth feels awful, but my teeth feel good.

    But this is what happens when you’re as paranoid of Japanese dentists as I am. My last teeth cleaning (in Japan) was about five years ago — and it was so bad (the doc wore gloves but a very stained smock) that they gave me an ultrasound (no scaling below the gums afterwards), then a flossing — and snapped the floss on what was left behind. I told them to start again. Cost 3000 yen all told. Got what I paid for. No doubt the black calculus that my Canadian dental hygienist scraped out (and proudly showed me a huge fleck of) was missed back then. Ugh.

    So, how are other people’s experiences with dentistry in Japan? Floor is open to discussion.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6002

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    … and finally …

    24) SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO column on Middle Age (full text)

    ON MIDDLE AGE
    SAPPORO SOURCE Column 7, for publication in the January-February 2010 issue
    By ARUDOU Debito
    DRAFT SIX VERSION AS SUBMITTED TO SAPPORO SOURCE

    I turned 45 this month on January 13th. Now I can probably say my life is half over. With current average lifespans, I’ll be lucky to make it to age ninety. But this milestone occasions some thoughts about one’s “Middle Age”.

    Middle Age enables one to look both forward and back — with the health and vim of a younger person, and the clarity of an elder. It’s like being on top of a hill: I can look behind at where I came from, and look ahead (with better focus than ever) at where I’ll probably be going.

    Let’s reflect upon our adult experiences (admittedly, for people like us lucky enough to live in developed countries). In our reckless Twenties, many of us had no idea where we would be twenty years from now. Still, did it matter? We were finishing our educations, starting our careers, or even selecting partners to walk the course of life with. For many, however, it was too soon to “settle down”. Hey, we hadn’t even lived our first 10,000 days yet. What was the rush?

    Then came our Thirties, and it was time to “grow up” and start considering some “investments”: What did we want to “do” with our lives? How could we convert a “job” into a “career”? Who really were our “good friends”? Who would we spend our leisure time with? And with our body clocks ticking, it was time to decide if we wanted to reproduce or not. This meant changing any relationship that had developed out of love, or habit, into legal ties. If and when children popped out, we had the responsibility of providing stability. Then we had to repeat the questions above.

    But for me, for half a decade now, it’s been the Forties. Once we get more than halfway into our second set of 10,000 days, things tend to come into stark relief. Some people can see where their chosen paths will end, and wonder if they made the right decisions. Many experience a very real Midlife Crisis — as in, coming to terms (or not) with a fundamental question: “Is this all there is to life?” This is a time when people suddenly make wrenching decisions that stun onlookers: “Why would you work so hard for so long to get where you are now, and then give it all up?” The answer: They just weren’t happy with what they got.

    The Forties are also in some ways an awkward age, particularly in Japan. We are not young enough to get away with some youthful excesses and mistakes. Yet we are not visibly old and grey enough to be entitled to filial piety, or coast along on the respect for the elderly found in Asian societies. And for many, our present salary is hardly munificent, especially up here in Hokkaido, making us wonder how we’ll ever afford our kids’ upcoming college tuition. Will our investments help them with their investments as they bud off?

    Middle Age is also a midpoint in the aging process. Many realize that genes and life’s experiences have aged our peers quite differently. We can look at Facebook photos of high school friends we haven’t seen for decades, and see how they’ve turned out. Some are relatively unchanged, except for the extra kilograms or the cue-ball pate. Others have become exactly like their parents — fenced in, furrowed, domesticated, surrounded by their lusty studs and fillies. Some are, incredibly, even ready to become grandparents. (Myself, I come off looking like a Beat Poet with a full head of hair, for which I am grateful.)

    Now looking forward, as the Fifties, Sixties, and Beyond (hopefully) loom, we had better recognize some limitations and make some personal pacts. For soon all of the things we took for granted — physical stamina, libido, corporal mobility and integrity, mental faculty, and the reckless optimism of youth — will be dimming if not going to seed.

    Then pops up the “R-word” — “Retirement” — something many thought only old fogies worry about. But now it’s our turn. Many will have paid enough years into their pension plans and still wonder if they will get enough back to take care of themselves. And others will realize that their hopes and dreams, maybe even the thought of changing and improving the world, will quite possibly not come to fruition. So they either reconcile themselves to a quiet life, cultivating a hobby to keep their minds awake and bodies moving, or make themselves known as community leaders and volunteers, if not potential political candidates (representative democracy, after all, favors the older and experienced).

    It is a luxury of this age to appreciate that every life stage has its benefits. But Middle Age in particular endows the self-aware with the knowledge of how to make adjustments to maximize self-worth and happiness. What makes you happy? And what will you do to achieve it before you die? If not now, when?

    Of course, there are the nostalgic types, who hark back wistfully and say, “I wish I was, say, sixteen again.” Yes, reminiscing has its uses, but I believe it should not be a life view. I’m one of those (probably rare) people who rarely looks back, and when I do, I realize I have never been happier than now. From my current perspective as a 45-year-old, I consider that very lucky indeed.

    Let’s hope my second — and third — 10,000 days occasion the same emotions when I look back. “Look back NOT in anger”, one can hope.
    ENDS
    927 WORDS

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    That’s all for this month! Sorry for the fat Newsletter this time, and thanks for reading!
    Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
    Daily Blog Updates, RSS, and Newsletter signups at www.debito.org
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 27, 2010 ENDS

    3 Responses to “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 28, 2010”

    1. John (Yokohama) Says:

      Some wonderful backwards attitudes expressed here:

      This time it is the Koreans invading planet Japan…

      http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/s-korean-land-purchase-in-tsushima-stirs-security-concerns

      S Korean land purchase in Tsushima stirs security concerns
      Kyodo News Sunday 28th February 2010

      TSUSHIMA —
      Located just about 50 kilometers off the Korean Peninsula, the Japanese border island of Tsushima has recently witnessed an influx of South Korean tourists. But Korean land and property acquisitions following the boom in tourism have caused ripples among some islanders and conservative Japanese politicians concerned about national security.

      Long touted as a ‘‘natural fortress,’’ the 700-square-km territory of some 36,000 people, about 90% of which is mountains and forests, has been on the front line of Japan’s defense. At present, some 700 Self-Defense Force members are stationed on the island to keep guard over the coastal areas.

      The number of South Korean tourists to the island about 130 km northwest of Fukuoka has been on the rise since the launch in 1999 of a high-speed boat service linking Busan and the island in 90 minutes at the shortest distance, according to Tsushima city officials.

      The number of Korean visitors hit 72,349 in 2008 propelled by the won’s strength against the yen, before falling to 45,266 in 2009 due to the global economic crisis and the won’s sharp fall relative to the Japanese currency, they said.

      Even though tourism was estimated in 2008 to have generated 2.1 billion yen and 260 jobs on the island suffering from depopulation, the revelation that a land lot adjacent to a Maritime Self-Defense Force facility was occupied by a lodge mainly accommodating South Korean fishermen alarmed some local residents and conservative politicians.

      ‘‘Although the MSDF says the presence of the lodge does not cause any problem in its activities, we feel as if we are being kept under surveillance’’ by the South Koreans, said Masayoshi Matsui, who heads the local chapter of the Japan Conference, a group of conservatives.

      The transaction of the land lot in 2007, which was originally owned by a Japanese pearl farming company, was made under the name of a local Japanese resident, and it did not cause any legal concerns as the area was not part of the city planning, according to the Tsushima officials.

      Behind the concerns of some islanders and conservative Japanese politicians is the passage of an ordinance in March 2005 by South Korea’s Masan city assembly that designated June 19 as ‘‘Daemado (Tsushima) Day,’’ claiming the island as a South Korean territory.

      The assembly of South Korea’s southern port city said the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the last dynasty on the Korean Peninsula, dispatched its navy to conquer Tsushima, which was said to be a base for Japanese pirates, on the day in 1419.

      The total land area known to be held by South Korean entities accounts for only 0.007% of the island, but those alarmed by the move feared that these places could harbor Korean spies and guerrillas who smuggle themselves into Tsushima.

      Tanju Matsui, another member of the Japan Conference and a representative of Shinto followers at a local shrine, said he is especially worried about the government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s attempt to introduce a bill to give foreign residents local suffrage.

      ‘‘In a small community like Tsushima, there is a possibility that the city assembly and the mayoral post could be taken over by Koreans,’’ he said.

      Japan does not allow permanent foreign residents, most of whom are those of Korean descent, to vote in elections. There are strong calls among them for the right to vote in local polls on the grounds that they pay taxes as local residents, but the envisioned bill does not provide those foreigners with the right to run for office.

      Eriko Yamatani, a House of Councillors member of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, has been calling for special legislation on Tsushima to restrict land sales to foreigners and introduce measures to boost the local economy without heavily depending on Korean tourists. She heads a Diet members’ group to protect Japanese territories.

      However, city officials promoting Tsushima to South Koreans downplay the security concerns as they aim to further increase the number of Tsushima-bound Korean tourists to 100,000.

      Kenichiro Motoishi, head of the city’s tourism and industry promotion office, pointed out that the central government has tried to support the economy of remote islands to maintain the country’s territorial integrity since the 19th century, but failed to do so because of its weak financial base.

      ‘‘If they spend money here, we don’t care if they are Japanese or South Koreans,’’ Motoishi said. ‘‘We cannot overlook the transactions concerning national sovereignty, but otherwise they are welcome. What’s the difference between the Korean property purchase and the Japanese acquisition of Rockefeller Center?’‘

      At the height of Japan’s asset-inflated bubble economy in the late 1980s, Mitsubishi Estate Co acquired a controlling stake in the operator of the New York building, triggering an outcry in the United States.

      About a dozen South Korean veterans demonstrated in front of Tsushima city hall in July 2008 to claim their territorial rights over the island, but those kinds of people are rare, he said.

      Hong Kun Ho, manager of Tsushima Daea hotel run by the group based in South Korea’s Pohang that also operates the high-speed vessels to and from Busan said almost all the customers at his hotel are Koreans who visit the island on a two- to three-day package tour.

      Many of the Korean visitors are in their 50s or older and go fishing and mountaineering in the ‘‘quiet and relaxing atmosphere’’ of the island, he said.

      Hong defended the South Korean lodge next to the MSDF precinct, saying he believes it did not intentionally choose the site because of its proximity to the military facility.

      He also said the number of troubles involving Korean tourists in Tsushima seems to have declined with both Koreans and Tsushima residents getting accustomed to each other. In the city’s streets, supermarkets and public toilets, there are signs written in the Korean alphabet.

      Hong said his company is eager to expand its business in Tsushima and hopes to increase the number of resort hotels as well as develop a golf link.
      ENDS

    2. John (Yokohama) Says:

      And here:

      “The government has abandoned proposing a bill to grant local voting rights to permanent foreign residents in Japan during the current Diet session, in the face of intense opposition from coalition partner People’s New Party (PNP).”

      http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20100227p2a00m0na009000c.html

      DPJ postpones bill to grant local voting rights to permanent foreign residents

      The government has abandoned proposing a bill to grant local voting rights to permanent foreign residents in Japan during the current Diet session, in the face of intense opposition from coalition partner People’s New Party (PNP).

      “It’s extremely difficult for the government to sponsor such a bill due to differences over the issue between the ruling coalition partners,” said Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi.

      Now, the attention is focused on whether ruling and opposition parties will launch a campaign to pass the bill as legislator-initiated legislation.

      The suffrage bill was expected to be based on a draft that the DPJ prepared before it took over the reins of government, and it proposes to grant local suffrage to foreign residents from countries with which Japan has diplomatic ties. The DPJ’s proposal will cover some 420,000 Korean and other special permanent residents — both those who arrived in Japan before World War II and their offspring — as well as about 490,000 foreign residents from other countries.

      The campaign to enact legislation on foreign suffrage in local elections dates back to 15 years ago.

      Encouraged by the 1995 Supreme Court ruling that “foreign suffrage is not banned by the Constitution,” over 1,500 local assemblies adopted a resolution to support and promote legislation to grant local suffrage to permanent foreign residents in Japan — some 910,000 people as of the end of 2008.

      However, as the passage of the bill becomes a real possibility along with the change of government, various views have emerged.

      The National Association of Chairpersons of Prefectural Assemblies held an interparty discussion meeting on local suffrage for permanent foreign residents on Feb. 9 in Tokyo.

      “It’s not the time for national isolation,” said Azuma Konno, a House of Councillors member of the DPJ, as he explained the party’s policy on the legislation at the meeting, raising massive jeers and objections from participants.

      “We can introduce legislation which will make it easier for foreigners to be naturalized,” said Kazuyoshi Hatakeyama, speaker of the Miyagi Prefectural Assembly, while Kochi Prefectural Assembly Vice Speaker Eiji Morita countered, saying: “The DPJ excluded the suffrage bill from its manifesto for last summer’s election.”

      The Mie Prefectural Assembly, in which DPJ members form the largest political group, was the only chapter to support the granting of local suffrage to permanent foreign residents.

      “The argument against suffrage rings of ethnic nationalism,” said Speaker Tetsuo Mitani.

      The fact that the DPJ’s legislation plan met with strong opposition during the meeting highlighted the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)’s strong sway over local assemblies, where its members manage to remain as the largest political group.

      Opponents of the bill argue that it is unreasonable for the central government to make decisions on regional electoral systems while pledging to promote decentralization of authority. Furthermore, the national association of chairpersons adopted a special resolution calling on the government to focus more on the opinions of local assemblies on Jan. 21.

      During the LDP Policy Research Council’s national meeting on Feb. 10, LDP lawmakers instructed its prefectural chapters to promote resolutions opposing foreign suffrage at respective local assemblies, in a bid to undermine the Hatoyama administration and the DPJ in cooperation with regional politics.

      According to the chairpersons’ association, before the change of government last summer, a total of 34 prefectures supported the granting of local suffrage to foreign residents; however, eight reversed their positions after the DPJ came into power. The trend is expected to accelerate further, pointing to antagonism between the nation’s two largest political parties, as well as the conflicts between the DPJ-led national government and local governments.

      Meanwhile, the recent political confrontation has raised concerns in the Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan), which seeks realization of the suffrage bill.

      The Chiba Prefectural Assembly, which adopted the resolution supporting foreign suffrage in 1999, reversed its position in December last year.

      “We cannot believe they overturned their own decision,” said an official at Mindan’s Chiba Prefecture branch. The branch, which has a close relationship with LDP lawmakers, had owed the prefecture’s previous decision to support the suffrage bill to the efforts of LDP members in the prefectural assembly.

      The Ibaraki Prefectural Assembly, too, is one of the eight local assemblies that went from for to against suffrage. Mindan’s Ibaraki branch has also expressed its disappointment, saying: “Assembly members are using the issue as part of their campaign strategy for the coming election.”

      According to the National Diet Library, foreign residents are granted local suffrage in most major developed countries.

      The PNP has also declared strong objection to the bill, saying “It could stimulate ethnic sentiment in the wrong way.”

      PNP leader and Minister of State for Financial Services Shizuka Kamei stressed his strong opposition against the measure, saying his party would not allow the enactment of the suffrage bill.

      Moreover, the DPJ itself seems to be split over the issue. Although the foreign suffrage bill is an “important bill” that DPJ Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa has been promoting, a forceful submission of the bill could cause a rift within the party, and the discussion over the matter has stalled.

      “Considering the future relationship between Japan and South Korea, we should clarify the government’s policy,” said Ozawa, who showed strong enthusiasm for the realization of the suffrage bill during his meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Seoul last December. Hatoyama agreed.

      Ozawa apparently aims to pass the bill before this summer’s House of Councillors election in a bit to win Mindan’s support for the DPJ.

      DPJ executives had agreed to submit the proposal as a Cabinet bill, not as a lawmaker-initiated legislation, during a meeting on Jan. 11.

      However, Cabinet members were slow to react to Ozawa’s move, with Haraguchi insisting the legislation be led by lawmakers, saying: “The legislation is related to the foundations of democracy, and it’s questionable whether the Cabinet should take the initiative in this.” One DPJ senior member said: “If we promote the bill forcibly, it will cause a split in the party.”

      “Consensus within the ruling coalition is a minimum requirement for realizing the legislation. It’s not an easy task,” said Hatoyama on Saturday.

      After all, the government was forced to abandon submitting a foreign suffrage bill to the ongoing Diet session.

      (Mainichi Japan) February 27, 2010
      ENDS

    3. Mike Says:

      If the conservatives want to count naturalized citizens as foreigners then perhaps it’s time to do a reverse Admiral Perry and close off Japan/Nippon. Since their population is decreasing in about a decade the may be more reasonable to becoming a melting pot similar to America, not perfect by any means but better then waht appears to be going on. Of course a more reasonable approach would be to vote these morons out. Since Japan is a jus sanguinis state as opposed to Jus soli state, there will be problems. They need to repeal the Nationality Law of 1950 and allow dual nationality.

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