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  • A personal hero, Chong Hyang Gyun, retires her nursing post at 60

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on April 5th, 2010

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    Hi Blog.  Although I like to devote Mondays to “bigger news”, I’d like to take this day to salute a personal hero of mine, former nurse Chong Hyang Gyun, a Zainichi Korean who, like any other qualified civil servant in Japan, expected to be promoted commensurate with her experience and dedication.

    But not in Japan.  She in 1994 was denied even the opportunity to sit the administrative civil service exam because, despite her being born in Japan, raised in Japan, a native speaker of Japanese, and a taxpayer in and contributor to Japan like any other, she was still, in the eyes of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, a “foreigner”, therefore not to be trusted with administrative power over Japanese (the old “Nationality Clause”, kokuseki joukou, struck again).

    So she sued for the right to sit the exam nearly twenty years ago.  Over more than ten years she lost, won, then ultimately lost in the Supreme Court, which, in a landmark setback for civil rights and assimilation, ruled there was nothing unconstitutional in denying her the right to chose her occupation and employment opportunities.

    Now she’s retired as of April 1 (although rehired and working fewer hours).  I’m just grateful that she tried.  Some occupations are completely denied to NJ, including public-sector food preparation (for fear that NJ might poison our bureaucrats) and firefighting (for fear that NJ entering Japanese houses and perhaps damaging Japanese property might cause an international incident), that it becomes ludicrous for NJ to even consider a public-service job in Japan.(*)  Especially if the “glass ceiling” (in fact, an iron barrier, thanks to the Supreme Court) means you can never reach your potential.  The Chong-san Case made that clear, to Japan’s shame.

    A report on workplace discrimination in Japan from Chong-san (Japanese) archived on Debito.org here.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    (*) Apologies for the lack of links to substantiate the firefighting and food preparation claims.  My source was “Darling wa Gaikokujin” mascot Tony Laszlo’s Issho Kikaku website, which dozens of activists worked on in the late 1990’s, whose historical archives have all since mysteriously disappeared now that Issho Kikaku is moribund.

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

    Korean worker who sued Tokyo govt retires
    The Yomiuri Shimbun Apr. 3, 2010, Courtesy of JK
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20100403TDY03T02.htm

    Public health nurse Chong Hyang Gyun was all smiles when she retired from the Tokyo metropolitan government recently, even though it had refused to let her seek promotion because of her South Korean nationality.

    A second-generation Korean resident of this country, Chong sued the metropolitan government in 1994, demanding she be allowed to take a promotion exam for a managerial post. The trial went on for 10 years of Chong’s 22-year career with the metropolitan government.

    Ultimately, Chong was not able to be promoted because the Supreme Court overturned her victory in a lower court. Upon her retirement, however, she smiled and said, “I have no regrets.”

    Chong officially retired Wednesday, as she had reached her mandatory retirement age of 60.

    Chong was born in Iwate Prefecture. In 1988, she was hired as the first non-Japanese public health nurse to work for the metropolitan government.

    Her application to take the internal exam to become a manager was refused, however, because of the metropolitan government’s “nationality clause,” which prohibits the appointment of non-Japanese employees to managerial posts.

    The Tokyo District Court decided against her in 1996, ruling that the metropolitan government’s action was constitutional.

    In 1997, the Tokyo High Court ruled that the metropolitan government’s decision violated the Constitution, which guarantees the freedom to choose one’s occupation, and ordered the Tokyo government to pay compensation to Chong.

    The metropolitan government appealed this decision and in 2005, the Supreme Court nullified the high court ruling and rejected Chong’s demand.

    After Chong openly expressed her disappointment at a press conference about the Supreme Court ruling, she received critical e-mails and other messages. Chong also said she sometimes felt it was hard to stay in her workplace.

    However, a sizable number of her colleagues and area residents understood her feelings.

    “I was supported by many people. I enjoyed my job,” Chong said.

    For two years from 2006, Chong worked on Miyakejima island, helping residents deal with difficulties resulting from their prolonged evacuation.

    Just before her retirement, Chong visited health care centers in Tokyo and other related facilities as chief of a section for preventing infectious diseases and caring for mentally handicapped people.

    She was rehired from April as a nonregular employee at her workplace’s request, but she will work fewer days.

    “I’ve been tense ever since filing the lawsuit, trying not to make any mistakes in other areas. Now I can finally relax,” Chong said.

    Chong recently has been interested in supporting Indonesian nurse candidates in Japan. During the New Year holidays, she held a gathering to introduce them to Japanese culture.

    “Now that a greater number of foreigners are in Japan, society as a whole should think about how to assimilate them,” Chong said.

    She said she believed her lawsuit has helped raise those kind of questions.
    ENDS

    在日保健師定年「悔いなし」…昇任に国籍の壁

    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20100327-OYT1T00524.htm

    (2010年3月28日20時29分 読売新聞)
    管理職試験の受験資格を求めて勤務先の東京都を提訴し、最高裁で逆転敗訴した在日韓国人2世の保健師、鄭香均(チョンヒャンギュン)さん(60)が3月末で、定年を迎える。

    22年間の在職中、10年を裁判に費やし、結局昇任は果たせなかったが、「悔いは全くない」と語る表情は晴れやかだ。

    岩手県生まれの鄭さんは、1988年に都の外国籍保健師第1号として採用された。管理職試験に挑戦しようとしたが、外国人を登用しないという都の「国籍条項」を理由に拒否され、94年に提訴した。

    96年の東京地裁判決は、都の措置を合憲と判断して請求を棄却。97年の2審判決は都の措置を「職業選択の自由などを定めた憲法に違反する」と判断し、慰謝料支払いを命じたが、都が上告。最高裁は2005年、2審の違憲判決を破棄し、請求を棄却した。

    記者会見で落胆を率直に口にした鄭さんに、批判のメールなどが多数届いた。職場で「居づらい」と感じることもあった。

    一方で、同僚や地域には、思いを理解してくれる人も多く、「多くの人に支えてもらった。仕事は楽しかった」と振り返る。

    06年から2年間三宅島で勤務し、長期の避難生活を経て様々な悩みを抱える島民らの支援にあたった。現在は係長として都内の保健所などを回り、感染症対策や精神障害者のケアに携わる。

    4月からは職場の要望もあり、都に再任用されるが、勤務日数は少なくなる。「提訴以来、ほかのことでつまずいたらいけないと常に緊張していた。やっとほっとできる」と笑顔で語る。

    最近は、来日したインドネシア人看護師候補者らの支援に関心があり、正月に自宅で日本文化を紹介する集いを開いたことも。

    「これだけ外国人が増えたのだから、どう受け入れるのか社会全体で考えなければ」。自分の裁判がそうした問題の提起につながったのでは、と思っている。

    (2010年3月28日20時29分 読売新聞)
    ENDS

    5 Responses to “A personal hero, Chong Hyang Gyun, retires her nursing post at 60”

    1. Kevin Says:

      Thank you, Chong-san, that you had the courage to stand up and fight for what you believe is right.

      It is regrettable that your case was over turned in the end, but I can only hope that others will be like you and fight for a change.

      Thank you once again and I hope you enjoy your retirement.

    2. Len Says:

      I wish I could have this in Japanese. I know a few that would like to see this. But I understand how time consuming doing that (for many a worth-reading article) is.

      To Chong-san, given the time and context you lived in this country, I applaud your living testimony and perseverance. I hope the right people will realize the injustice of holding back a fellow human being, especially one that desired to contribute herself for the greater benefit. I am sorry your case was overturned, but your life’s effort is beyond reproach and ruling. Indeed, I hope your legacy will have an impact for us all.

      Respectfully.

      – Just dug up and added the Japanese version.

    3. jjobseeker Says:

      Hey Debito:
      Some fairly interesting news over the weekend with former Economy Minister Yosano quitting the LDP, but it looks like he and our pal, Hiranuma Takeo, want to start a new political party!

      http://mainichi.jp/select/seiji/news/20100402k0000e010044000c.html
      http://mainichi.jp/select/seiji/news/20100405k0000e010023000c.html

      Here’s the interesting “conspiracy theory” of the day. Today’s broadcast of Super Morning on TV Asahi seems to suggest that Yomiyuri’s Watanabe and the ever popular Governer Ishihara are giving their support behind-the-scenes. Hmmm. Hiranuma? Ishihara? Watanabe? If we want to talk about enemies to positive and constructive discussion about integration in Japan, I think one is about to be born. I wonder what they’ll call the new Party?

      I vote for “Get off my lawn” Party.

      – Good. The more they fracture, probably the less likely they’ll be in power. Smoke out these bigots from hiding and get them to show their xenophobia in all its nasty glory.

      平沼赳夫氏:4月中にも新党発足 保守の「第3極」目指す
      毎日新聞 2010年4月2日
       無所属の平沼グループを率いる平沼赳夫元経済産業相は2日午前、東京都内で記者団に「早ければ早いほど新しい党を立ち上げるのは望ましい」と述べ、今月中にも新党を発足させる考えを明らかにした。今夏の参院選で民主党の単独過半数獲得を阻止し、民主、自民両党に続く保守勢力の「第3極」結集を目指す。

       平沼氏は05年衆院選の際に郵政民営化に反対して自民党を離党。かねて参院選前の新党結成を目指す考えを示していた。

       平沼氏は、政党要件を満たす5人以上の国会議員確保についても「最低要件は満たす状況になっていると言える」と自信を示した。グループには小泉龍司、城内実両衆院議員がいるが、平沼氏は「新党設立メンバーには入らないが、将来は参画してくれるのではないか」と述べ、両氏以外に新党への賛同者がいることを示唆した。しかし、具体名は明らかにしなかった。

       また、新党を目指して先月自民党を離党した鳩山邦夫元総務相との連携については「私は全然接触していない」と述べ、否定的な見解を示した。

       公職選挙法86条の7は、「任期満了日の90日前にあたる日から7日以内」に中央選挙管理会に政党名を届け出るよう求めている。今回改選の参院議員の任期満了は7月25日のため、平沼氏が4月26日から5月2日までに新党を届け出れば、ほかの政党は同一または酷似した名称を使用できなくなる。平沼氏は「それは当然、意識には入るが、それを超えて早ければ早いほどいい」と述べ、「政党名保護」のためにも新党結成を急ぐ考えを示した。【坂口裕彦】

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

      与謝野氏:新党結成へ平沼氏らと詰めの協議
      毎日新聞 2010年4月5日
       自民党に離党届を提出した与謝野馨元財務相と無所属の平沼赳夫元経済産業相らは5日夜、東京都内で会談し、8日の新党結成を目指し党名や基本政策など詰めの協議を行う。自民党の園田博之前幹事長代理も5日午後、党本部に離党届を提出した。園田氏と同党の藤井孝男元運輸相も与謝野氏らの会合に出席する。

       与謝野氏は5日、自民党の青木幹雄前参院議員会長と中曽根康弘元首相を相次いで訪ねて報告。青木氏は「頑張ってやりなさい」と述べたという。

       平沼氏は6日、自民党を離党した鳩山邦夫元総務相と会談する予定。鳩山氏は5日午前、都内で記者団から「新党参加の打診はあったか」と問われ、「もちろんそれはある」と述べた。【木下訓明】
      ENDS

    4. betty boop Says:

      i would like to thank her for all her hard work on all fronts. it speaks volumes that they didn`t want let her retire completely. a person valued. my hat is off to her!!!!

    5. Shayne Bowden Says:

      Power to her for fighting the crooked system supported by Ishihara Shintaro and his lot. Chong Hyang Gyun is an inspiration!!!

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