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  • DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 10, 2010

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on April 10th, 2010

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    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 10, 2010
    SOME ODDS AND ENDS OVER THE PAST FEW WEEKS

    Table of Contents:

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    ODDS
    1) MHLW clamps down on NJ spongers of system claiming overseas kids for child allowances. What spongers?
    2) More Juuminhyou idiocies: Dogs now allowed Residency Certificates in Tokyo Itabashi-ku. But not NJ residents, of course.
    3) Yomiuri: 3 Filipina and Indonesian GOJ EPA nurses pass exam (less than 1% of total, after two years)
    4) Asahi: Prof pundit on Toyota uses “culture” benkai to explain auto recall issues
    5) More anti-NJ scare posters & publications, linking PR suffrage to foreign crime and Chinese invasion
    6) List of countries with voting rights for non-citizens, with Japan of the group the absolutist outlier

    ENDS
    7) A personal hero, Chong Hyang Gyun, retires her nursing post at 60
    8 ) Japan Times update on current J child abductions after divorce & Hague Treaty nego: USG still pressuring GOJ
    9) Mainichi: Supreme Court defamation ruling sounds warning bell over online responsibility
    10) Japan Times on a “Non-Japanese Only” sushi restaurant in Okinawa
    11) Fun Facts #14: JK provides budgetary stats to show why current immigration-resistant regime is unsustainable

    AN ISSUE THAT SHOULD NOT HAVE FIZZLED OUT
    12) Japan Times & Sano Hiromi on violence towards NJ detainees at Ibaraki Detention Center, hunger strike
    13) Japan Times front pages NJ abuses at Ibaraki Immigration Detention Center, updates from Sano-san
    14) UPDATE: Ibaraki Detention Center Hunger Strikers pause strike, arrange meetings
    15) Japan Times on Ibaraki Detention Ctr hunger strikers: GOJ meeting because of UN visit?
    … then, kerplunk, the issue dies…?

    … and finally …

    16) Tangent: Japan Times on staggering the Golden Week holidays across the J archipelago
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, Daily Blog Updates at www.debito.org
    Freely Forwardable

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

    ODDS

    1) MHLW clamps down on NJ spongers of system claiming overseas kids for child allowances. What spongers?

    In mid-March we had a storm in a teacup about DPJ policy re child allowances: If NJ also qualified for child support, politicians argued, some hypothetical Arab prince in Japan would claim all 50 of his kids back in Saudi Arabia. Well, thanks to that storm, we have the Health Ministry creating policy within weeks to prevent NJ from potentially sponging off the system. As submitter JK notes, “What follows is article on why MHLW feels the need to clamp down on those untrustworthy foreigners; never mind about the lack of data.”

    Well, that’s proactive policymaking in Japan. In the same way that anti-terrorism policy that targets foreigners only was proactive (although it took a few years to draft and enact). Here, the bureaucrats could just do it with a few penstrokes and call it a “clarification”, without having to go through the pesky political process.

    But the assumption is, once again, that a) foreigners are untrustworthy and need extra background checks, and b) any policy that might do something nice for the Japanese public needs to be carefully considered by viewing it through the “foreigner prism”, for who knows what those people might do to take advantage of our rich system? “What-if” panicky hypotheticals without any data win the debate and govern policymaking towards NJ again.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6443

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

    2) More Juuminhyou idiocies: Dogs now allowed Residency Certificates in Tokyo Itabashi-ku. But not NJ residents, of course.

    Debito.org Reader KC just submitted two articles (I had heard about this, but was busy with other stuff and neglected to blog it, sorry) about Tokyo Itabashi-ku giving Residency Certificates (juuminhyou) to dogs. Fine, but how about foreigners? They are still not allowed to get their own.

    For those who came in late, brief background on the issue: NJ get a different registry certificate, are not automatically listed on their families’ Residency Certificates unless they request it and only if the bureaucrat in charge believes they are “effective head of household”, and are not counted as “residents” anyway in some population tallies despite paying residency taxes). Japan is the only country I know of (and definitely the only developed country) requiring citizenship for residency. This is said to be changing by 2012. But I won’t cheer this legal “vaporware” until after it happens, and it still comes after the humiliation of long allowing sea mammals and cartoon characters their own residency certificates overnight. To wit: Tamachan (sealion, Yokohama 2003), Tetsuwan Atomu (cartoon character, Niiza City, 2003), Crayon Shinchan (cartoon character, Kusakabe City, 2004), Ku-chan (seal, Kushiro City, 2009), etc. More on the issue here.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6419

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

    3) Yomiuri: 3 Filipina and Indonesian GOJ EPA nurses pass exam (less than 1% of total, after two years)

    Success at last, for some. For less than one percent of all the NJ nurses brought over on a special trilateral visa program, to help care for Japan’s aging society, we have some overcoming quite difficult hurdles to stay — including passing a difficult Japanese nursing exam within three years that challenges even native speakers. For the overwhelming majority of NJ, however, it’s bye bye and thanks for your three years of unsupported toil, and we look forward to replacing you with more dupes on yet another GOJ revolving-door work visa plan. More on the difficulties of the nursing program in the words of the nurses themselves on Debito.org here.

    Yomiuri: Two Indonesians and one Filipina have become the first foreign nurses to pass Japan’s national nursing qualification test after work experience at Japanese hospitals under economic partnership agreements, the health ministry said Friday.

    The three are among the 370 foreign nurses who have visited this country under an EPA-related project launched in fiscal 2008, hoping to pass the nursing exam after receiving Japanese-language training and gaining working experience under the supervision of Japanese nurses.

    In 2009, 82 foreign nurses took the exam, but all failed. This year, 254 such nurses applied for the test, with the two Indonesians and one Filipina passing it, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6322

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

    4) Asahi: Prof pundit on Toyota uses “culture” benkai to explain auto recall issues

    Debito.org Reader BT commenting about culture once again being invoked as a defense:

    Here’s an interview about Toyota recalls in the US, with “Hideo Kobayashi, a visiting professor at Yokohama National University’s Center for Risk Management and Safety Sciences”. I’m talking specifically about these two quotes:

    “Q: Wasn’t Toyota’s confidence in product quality one of the factors that led to its sloppy handling of the situation?

    A: Can what people in Japan consider “good quality” be also considered good in the United States, which has a more diversified population?

    Japanese people generally have high driving skills and similar physical features. But the United States, whose society was more or less built by immigrants, has people with various physical features and behavioral patterns. To get a driver’s license, you don’t need the sort of skills that are required in Japan..”

    (The “we’re superior” routine)

    And,

    “Q: Some say the reaction to Toyota’s problems has an aspect of “Japan bashing” about it. What is your view?

    A: With American companies such as General Motors Corp. going under and Toyota doing well in sales, there naturally is an aspect of Japan bashing. But this is something that has to be overcome.”

    (The “poor, poor Japan” routine)…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6064

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

    5) More anti-NJ scare posters & publications, linking PR suffrage to foreign crime and Chinese invasion

    Following up on some previous Debito.org posts (here and here) on how the debate on NJ PR suffrage has devolved into hate speech, here is how bad it’s getting. We have anonymous flyers appearing in people’s snailmailboxes accusing NJ of being criminals (and linking it to not granting suffrage), fomenting anti-Chinese sentiment with threats of invasion and takeover, and even a book capitalizing on the fear by saying that granting NJ the vote will make Japan disappear. Read on to see scans:

    This is why we need laws against hate speech in Japan — to prevent the knock-on effects of fear by anonymous bullies being further fanned by the profit motive and marketing sharks.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6182

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

    6) List of countries with voting rights for non-citizens, with Japan of the group the absolutist outlier

    Although the issue may be moot due to the DPJ suspending the submission of PR NJ suffrage “for the time being”, here’s an essential fact of the case — what other countries allow non-citizens to vote, and at what level, as of 2006. As you can see, of the select countries (even the US has some local rights for non-citizens), only Japan is absolutist in terms of this sector of civil rights. And the fact that the Japan-born Zainichi “generational foreigners” are also excluded makes Japan a further outlier.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6209

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    ENDS

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

    I’d like 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.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6384

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    8 ) Japan Times update on current J child abductions after divorce & Hague Treaty nego: USG still pressuring GOJ

    The following Japan Times article wouldn’t normally be put up on Debito.org yet because the negotiation is ongoing (covering much the same argumentative ground as already reported here), and nothing necessarily decisive has been decided. However, a new development in the USG’s constant-looking pressure on the GOJ to sign the Hague, and do something about its citizens using Japan as a haven for child abductions after divorce, is the fact that somebody official is bothering to answer the GOJ claim that obeying the Hague would mean sending back J children to be endangered by an abusive NJ parent (I’ll take that as a slur, thank you). Excerpts from the JT article below.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6238

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    9) Mainichi: Supreme Court defamation ruling sounds warning bell over online responsibility

    Take this, 2-Channel:

    Mainichi:  Just because a piece of information is published on the Internet, viewers do not necessarily deem it to be of low credibility. So ruled the Supreme Court recently in a defamation suit in which a man was accused of slandering a restaurant operator on his own Web site, saying that the company was affiliated with a cult.

    The top’s court’s ruling secures a guilty verdict that ordered the man to pay 300,000 yen in compensation. It was the first ruling to confirm that the conditions for establishing defamation were not relaxed on the Internet.

    Considering that people are often slandered, have their privacy violated, and sometimes even suffer human rights violations on the Internet — where users can post comments anonymously — the Supreme Court’s decision can be deemed appropriate.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6258

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    10) Japan Times on a “Non-Japanese Only” sushi restaurant in Okinawa

    I had heard numerous reports about a place down in Okinawa that turned away Japanese customers (or, rather, charged them an exorbitant fee for membership) in favor of NJ. It made print today in the Japan Times Zeit Gist Column. Excerpted here.

    Now, while I can’t personally condone this activity, I will admit I have been waiting for somebody to come along and do this just to put the shoe on the other foot. Let’s see how people who defended the exclusionism of “troublemakers” who just happened to be foreign-looking (hiya Gregory Clark) in the Otaru Onsens Case et.al., react to somebody excluding “troublemakers” who just happen to be Japanese. And watch the hypocrisy and “Japanese as perpetual victim” arguments blossom.

    If this winds up getting “Japanese Only” signs down everywhere, this will have been a useful exercise. Somehow, I don’t think it will, however. Japanese in Japan are never supposed to be on the losing end of a debate on NJ issues.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6402

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    11) Fun Facts #14: JK provides budgetary stats to show why current immigration-resistant regime is unsustainable

    Frequent commenter and contributor to Debito.org JK offers a follow-up about a recent article featured here on Debito.org, about the NJ nurse import program (one that as of this time is doomed to become yet another revolving-door visa program). He offers some “Fun Facts”, as in budgetary statistics, about why the current visa regime discouraging labor imports but not immigration is unsustainable. Read on.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6366

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

    AN ISSUE THAT SHOULD NOT HAVE FIZZLED OUT

    12) Japan Times & Sano Hiromi on violence towards NJ detainees at Ibaraki Detention Center, hunger strike

    Let me forward something to you about conditions in Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers (better known as “Gaijin Tanks”) — an activist named Sano-san who wants to draw long-overdue attention to widespread abuse of NJ in these notorious extralegal prisons. Link to Japan Times article substantiating Sano-san’s claims follows her email. Reporters, be in touch with her (or me at debito@debito.org) if you want more information.

    The extralegal powers of Japan’s police forces are atrocious, and they are especially bad when people fall completely outside the legal system (as in, NJ detainees not tried and convicted criminals, with a term-limited sentence and minimum prison conditions as stipulated by law; these are people who can be held indefinitely in crowded conditions, without oversight, access to exercise, medical care, hygiene, etc.) They just happen to be NJ (because Gaijin Tanks cannot hold Japanese) and thus remain shrouded in even more secrecy than usual (as people assume they’re full of riffraff trying to come in and take advantage of Rich Citadel Japan) and operate under the media radar. Trying to remedy that.

    Sano-san: Ibaraki Detention Center is a very brutal and abusive place to be. Since March 8th, about 80 male detainees are doing hunger strike.

    Japan Times: Detainees allege abuse at Kansai holding center
    Guards meting out harsh treatment behind the walls of Ibaraki immigration facility, say inmates

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6166

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    13) Japan Times front pages NJ abuses at Ibaraki Immigration Detention Center, updates from Sano-san

    Japan Times: At least 70 detainees at the West Japan Immigration Control Center, which has long been criticized by human rights groups and Diet members, have been on a hunger strike since Monday, center officials and volunteers helping them confirmed Thursday.

    Activist Sano-san reports: Our group decided not to use [name deleted's] name on articles that goes to public from now on. He has hepatitis B and has fever since December. Obviously bad health condition. But the center is not taking to him to the hospital, and also did I mention that they share the same razor to shave? We talked to Nishimura at the center, but they denied it , and said that each razor has the number so that the detainee will know which one is his. Detainees said there is no number on the razor. Nishimura also said that razors are sterilized after detainees use them.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6171

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    14) UPDATE: Ibaraki Detention Center Hunger Strikers pause strike, arrange meetings

    Sano-san: The detainees decided to suspend their hunger strike temporarily.
    They had dinner on Friday, the 19th.
    They have decided two things 1) volunteers and detainees are going to negotiate with the center starting from Tuesday on March, 23rd.
    2) if their demands are turned down, they will re-start the hunger strike.

    In the background of this, a member of a House of Councilors, Konno Azuma, questioned about the hunger strike to the Minister of Justice (Keiko Chiba) at a national assembly.
    He also referred to factual investigation.
    Media has picked up the story of the hunger strike, and it strongly influenced the center…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6241

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    15) Japan Times on Ibaraki Detention Ctr hunger strikers: GOJ meeting because of UN visit?

    Addendum to yesterday’s post on the Ibaraki Gaijin Tank Hunger Strikers and the upcoming meetings with the government. The Japan Times has put out another article, which I will excerpt from. It also hints at the timing of it, wondering whether it’s due to Special Rapporteur Bustamante (to whom I will be talking tomorrow, wish me luck) visiting Japan. Which means, once he leaves, things go back to the ignored normal? Fortunately, according to the article below, we have some traction within the ruling party on this issue as well, so let’s hope in the end we see progress. Although, as noted before, Japan’s police forces have quite extreme (and unaccountable) powers, especially as regards treatment of NJ, so unless some legal changes are made to this largely extralegal system itself, the amount of oversight necessary in an already abusive system is pretty demanding.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6245

    … then, kerplunk, the issue dies…?

    I have received no word since on what’s going on. Rumor has it there was a turf battle between the NGOs covering this issue and they shut down their links to the media. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen plenty of times before. Sad, given how important this issue is. I’ll blog any news I get in future.

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

    … and finally …

    16) Tangent: Japan Times on staggering the Golden Week holidays across the J archipelago

    Japan Times: A Japan Tourism Agency panel headed by Vice Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Kiyomi Tsujimoto is currently discussing ways to divide the nation into five different zones whose Golden Week holidays would be staggered by zone. The panel is also calling for the creation of a five-day holiday in the autumn — a so-called Silver Week — that would again be staggered by region and spread over five different periods.

    In one of the two proposals on the table, Golden Week and Silver Week would be spread over five weeks, instead of one week; while the other proposal would, more confusingly, see the five zonal Golden Week and Silver Week periods overlapping each other a little to occupy a total span of 2 1/2 weeks each.

    The agency’s logic goes like this. If people travel at different times, the yawning gap in travel costs between the peak and off-peak seasons would become smaller, making tourism affordable for more people. Tourists would also likely enjoy their vacations more, as they would experience less frustrating congestion, and so they would feel more inclined to travel more frequently and thus end up pumping more money into the tourism-related sectors of the economy. This would also help to stabilize the employment of people working in these sectors.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6309

    COMMENT: For the record, I think it’s a great idea (I am so fed up of having crappy weather during the GW holidays in Hokkaido; can’t do much outside yet, don’t want to go anywhere and face the crowds; and little money to do so even if I did), and would like to see it put into practice.

    I don’t see how anyone would object (except for perhaps the tourist industry itself, which might oddly enough prefer to keep charging peak rates.) That said, when it was first floated on TV’s Toku Da Ne a couple of weeks ago, the (old fart) panel was almost uniformly against it! Some said they don’t take any holiday during that time period anyway (oh, that’s thinking outside of your lifestyle!), and head anchor Ogura even woodenheadedly said, “What would the media call the holiday? I can’t think of a name. So I oppose it.” That’s one reason I don’t bother watching the self-indulgent and intellectually incestuous Toku Da Ne much anymore.

    That said, a Debito.org Poll on this (http://www.debito.org/?page_id=1851) had me in the vast minority. As did blog commenters (http://www.debito.org/?p=6309#comments), who supported instead the (even less attainable, in my view) notion that people should be allowed to take their holidays when they want. The poll is still open, feel free to vote on it.

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

    That’s all for today. That should get us caught up on past news for the next couple of weeks or so. Thanks for reading!
    Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, Daily Blog Updates at www.debito.org
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 10, 2010 ENDS

    2 Responses to “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 10, 2010”

    1. John (Yokohama) Says:

      “Lawmakers oppose giving foreign residents right to vote”, Japan Today, April 18

      ‘The right to vote for foreigners will ruin Japan.’‘ Ya, Yokoso indeed.

      =================
      Lawmakers oppose giving foreign residents right to vote
      Sunday 18th April, 04:53 AM JST
      http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/lawmakers-voice-opposition-to-giving-foreign-residents-right-to-vote

      TOKYO —
      A group of conservative lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties on Saturday voiced their opposition to proposed legislation to enfranchise permanent foreign residents for local elections. Shizuka Kamei, who leads the People’s New Party, addressed a gathering of people against the proposed legislation in Tokyo, saying, ‘‘The right to vote for foreigners will ruin Japan.’‘

      ‘‘It will not be enacted during the current parliamentary session because the People’s New Party has invoked a veto (within the government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama),’’ said Kamei, who is a cabinet member within the tripartite coalition government.

      While Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan is aiming to pass the legislation, at least one member is apparently opposed.

      Jin Matsubara, a House of Representative member of the DPJ, told the meeting, ‘‘There is an argument that Europe is positive about enfranchising foreigners, but that does not hold water in Japan. I am unequivocally opposed. It’s my belief that it is necessary to faithfully speak up (about the issue) within the party.’‘

      Meanwhile, Mizuho Fukushima, a cabinet member and leader of the Social Democratic Party of Japan that partners the DPJ and PNP in the government, reiterated her endorsement of the proposed legislation.

      ‘‘It’s not about all foreigners and it’s also limited to local elections,’’ she told reporters in Odate, Akita Prefecture. ‘‘Participation in the local community is necessary, as some countries have approved it.’‘

      Objections to the bill were also expressed by opposition lawmakers at the Tokyo meeting. Tadamori Oshima, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, ‘‘We must protect Japan’s sovereignty. I am absolutely opposed.’‘

      Yoshimi Watanabe, leader of Your Party, suggested that enfranchising foreign residents is a vote-buying tactic. ‘‘The Democratic Party says livelihood is the No. 1 issue, but in fact aren’t elections their No. 1 business?’’ he said.

      Takeo Hiranuma, who leads the just launched Sunrise Party of Japan, said he ‘‘will stake his life in fighting’’ against the legislation.
      ENDS

    2. John (Yokohama) Says:

      “Foreigner suffrage opponents rally
      Conservative politicians express outrage at DPJ plan”, Japan Times, April 18, 2010
      http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100418a1.html

      “Our Constitution grants those with Japanese nationality voting rights in return for their obligation to pay taxes,” he said. “Granting suffrage to those without Japanese nationality is clearly a mistake in national policy.”

      Yes, but foreigners are also are obliged to pay taxes, pay medical, pay into the pension system, etc.

      “Taking the podium to a round of applause, Kamei emphasized his party’s role in preventing the government from submitting the bill to the Diet, and said that “it was obvious that granting suffrage will destroy Japan.””

      Gee, by voting for a Japanese citizen someone with PR status would be destroying Japan? On what planet?

      “…whose conservative ranks have argued against granting suffrage, insisting that permanent foreign residents must first become naturalized citizens.”

      … where they will be still discriminated against due to their skin color despite being a Japanese citizen.

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