DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 12, 2007

This Newsletter podcasted here, in case you’d rather listen instead of reading:

This week’s contents:

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1) NEW JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE TUES NOV 13 ON NEW WORKPLACE GAIJIN CARDING

2) NJ FINGERPRINTING UPDATE:
A) PROTEST WORKS: NARITA INSTITUTES NEW SEPARATE LINES FOR RESIDENTS
B) RECENT MEDIA: FP “AN UNMITIGATED PR DISASTER FOR THE GOJ”, “INEFFECTIVE”
C) CUTE ANIMATION RE FINGERPRINTING: DOWNLOAD AND SPREAD AROUND
D) TUES NOV 20, NOON, ASSEMBLE AND PROTEST AT JUSTICE MINISTRY

3) JAPAN TIMES: US GOVT FORCED PM ABE TO BACK DOWN RE COMFORT WOMEN
4) LA TIMES: HOW J POLICE IGNORE CERTAIN CRIMES. LIKE MURDER.
5) IHT/ASAHI, METROPOLIS, NUGW ON EIKAIWA NOVA BANKRUPTCY AFTERMATH
6) NOV 17 FED OF BAR ASSOC (NICHIBENREN) MEETING RE DIVORCE AND JOINT CUSTODY

…and finally…
7) UPCOMING SPEECH TOKYO NOV 18, “NO BORDER” GROUP ANNUAL MEETING

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By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
Daily blog updates, Newsletter archives, and podcasts at http://www.debito.org/index.php
Freely forwardable

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1) NEW JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE TUES NOV 13 ON NEW WORKPLACE GAIJIN CARDING

First off, just wanted to advise readers to get a copy of the Japan Times tomorrow (Tuesday, Wednesday in the provinces).

I have an article coming out in the Community Page regarding the new Employment Policy Law, promulgated Oct 1, 2007, forcing all employers to report all their foreign workers to the Health, Labour, and Welfare Ministry. And how it’s already causing policy creep–to the point where any gaijin getting any money from any source is being Gaijin Carded.

The lay of the land and the letter of the law. And what you can do about it.
Tomorrow in the Japan Times. Have a look.

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2) NJ FINGERPRINTING UPDATE:

A) PROTEST WORKS: NARITA INSTITUTES NEW SEPARATE LINES FOR RESIDENTS
Received a scanned pamphlet from somebody who passed through Immigration last week. Reads:

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Important Information from Immigration Bureau

…We will change the booth for your immigration inspection, as shown below:
BOOTH ONE: JAPANESE PASSPORT, SPECIAL PERMANENT RESIDENT
BOOTH TWO: RE-ENTRY PERMIT HOLDER
BOOTH THREE: FOREIGN PASSPORT

Those who have re-entry permit (except for special permanent residetns), please make a queue at the dedicated lane for RE-ENTRY PERMIT HOLDER.
Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau Narita Airport Branch

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See original at http://www.debito.org/?p=701

COMMENT: You see, protest does have an effect. Residents (i.e. those who have paid the “Gaijin Homecoming Tax” by getting a Re-Entry Permit) are now no longer lumped in together with tourists.

But it still hasn’t resolved the problem of how this is going to impede businesspeople (especially APEC Business Travel Card holders), not to mention the issues of treating every non-Japanese as a potential Typhoid Mary or Osama Junior. And it’s still done to you every time.

Or the fact that the letter of the law is still not being followed nationwide. As Steve Koya poignantly commented at Debito.org:

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We have a loophole, or at least a stay of execution! All we need is a decent lawyer and we can stop this legislation.

It is a simple argument, following on from my note yesterday about the Automatic gates. A chat to Sapporo Immigration confirmed that there were no plans to have the gates at Chitose or at any other airport other than Narita, giving lack of time and money as a reason.

Well, despite the fact they may have no time or insufficient funds, unfortunately Immigration are required by the new law to make the Automated Gates available to non-Japanese residents, at all airports within 18 months from the promulgation of the legislation, 24th May 2006. There is no “Only Narita” clause, there is no post promulgation amendment.

If they are not able to apply the law, then it should be rescinded. You could also state that failure to apply the law in full would also make it non-binding, so refusing to give your prints would theoretically not be illegal.

All we need is a decent lawyer! Amnesty, show us your muscle!
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http://www.debito.org/?p=701#comments

Me again. Extra booth or not, I still say you should not be separated from your Japanese families. Stand together in the same line, everyone.

The issue just keeps on rolling…

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B) RECENT MEDIA: FP “AN UNMITIGATED PR DISASTER FOR GOJ”, “INEFFECTIVE”, UNWIELDY

An article in the LA Times yesterday said everything we’ve been saying, for a big US Pacific Coast audience with close ties to Japan (the article even includes Justice Minister Hatoyama sexing up his arguments with his alleged terrorist friends):

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JAPAN’S WELCOME MAT GETTING PRICKLY
New rules requiring fingerprints and digital photos of visitors are revealing about attitudes toward foreigners, critics say.
From the Los Angeles Times November 11, 2007

By Bruce Wallace
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-screening11nov11,1,4675245.story?coll=la-headlines-world&ctrack=8&cset=true

Japan’s justice minister… even offered a bizarre personal anecdote to explain how easy it was for non-Japanese to sneak into the country. “A friend of my friend is a member of Al Qaeda,” Kunio Hatoyama told foreign reporters in Tokyo, saying that the man had entered Japan numerous times using fake passports and disguises. Hatoyama later backtracked slightly on his story, distancing himself from any connection to Al Qaeda and raising suspicions that he had embellished his anecdote to press the case for fingerprinting foreigners.
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http://www.debito.org/?p=724

Terrie’s Take this morning went even further:
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General Edition Sunday, November 11, 2007 Issue No. 445

We’ll say up front that the proposed measures have been an unmitigated public relations disaster for the Japanese government and the Justice Ministry in particular. Although the basic idea was to cooperate with the USA and other nations to try to catch potential terrorists at the borders, the measures have in fact proven to be disjointed, unorganized, and ultimately unworkable. They have also managed to infuriate pretty much every long-term, tax-paying, foreign resident in Japan.
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http://www.debito.org/?p=724

Other articles highlighted other issues passim, about not only the unwieldiness of this policy, but also its ineffectiveness:

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WILL ENTRY CHECKS CROSS THE LINE?
Fingerprinting foreigners won’t stop terrorists, critics say
By Jun Hongo, The Japan Times: Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20071108f1.html

…[E]xperts doubt whether [the FP policy] will even stop potential terrorists from entering the country. Under the procedure, visitors whose biometric data match those on confidential terrorist watch lists will be denied entry to Japan. The lists are believed to include one compiled by the U.S. government and contain the names of about 750,000 “terror suspects.” Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama has said Japan will cooperate with U.S. authorities in exchanging immigration data.

But Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Program on Technology and Liberty, said the U.S. watch list is “bloated and full of inaccuracy.”…

“The U.S. immigration policy is a total failure,” Steinhardt warned, expressing concern that Japan’s version of biometric verification will likely be built on a flawed foundation. “It’s full of mistakes. That is the reality in the U.S. and it’s likely to become reality in Japan,” Steinhardt said. “Whether or not the loss of liberty is worth the security gained is not a question * because no security is gained.”…

Naoto Nikai, an Immigration Bureau official, …wouldn’t answer whether foreign mothers traveling with Japanese infants would be separated at immigration gates. “The immigration officer at the airport will (make the judgment),” Nikai said….
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http://www.debito.org/?p=709

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ARRIVING OUTSIDE NARITA WILL BE WORSE
By Eric Johnston, The Japan Times November 8, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20071108f2.html

OSAKA As annoying as the new fingerprinting procedure will be for non-Japanese going through immigration at Narita International Airport, it is going to be much worse for foreign residents who don’t live in the Tokyo area.

Unlike at Narita International Airport, those passing through regional airports will have to go through the fingerprint registration process every time they re-enter Japan. This is because only Narita, which handled half of all non-Japanese coming into the country in 2006, will introduce a new automated system that officials hope will speed up the new rules requiring most foreigners to have their fingerprints and photographs taken upon entry…

To date, airports have usually allowed foreigners with alien registration cards and re-entry permits to pass through immigration counters reserved for Japanese nationals.

At the moment, it remains unclear if fingerprinting and photographing machines will be set up at immigration counters reserved for Japanese citizens. During the initial period after Nov. 20, it could be the case that foreign residents will have to stay in the lines for foreign visitors only. “That policy may change after Nov. 20, but it depends on the airport,” said Takumi Sato, an Immigration Bureau official in Tokyo…

According to the Immigration Bureau, about 8.1 million foreigners passed through the immigration centers at 10 airports and eight ports in 2006. About 50 percent arrived via Narita, while about another third entered via Kansai, Chubu, New Chitose and Fukuoka airports. The remainder arrived at Haneda and smaller, international terminals at airports in Sendai, Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, Hiroshima, and Hakodate, Hokkaido, while a little more than 187,000 people, or 1.1 percent of the total, arrived by ship.
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http://www.debito.org/?p=705

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D) CUTE ANIMATION RE FP ISSUE: DOWNLOAD AND SPREAD AROUND

A great bit of gif anime from UTU’s Nick Wood protesting the FP policy. It’s hard to describe here in words, but visually it’s pretty much spot on… It’s already been sighted on other blogs, so help yourself. View and download from here:

Welcome to Japan.gif

Download it from here and use as you like:

http://www.debito.org/WelcometoJapan.gif

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E) TUES NOV 20, NOON, ASSEMBLE AND PROTEST AT JUSTICE MINISTRY

Excerpting from the public appeal from Amnesty International Japan and Solidarity for Migrants Japan:

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…Japan’s version of the US-VISIT Program is so laden with problems, and passed without adequate deliberation by the Diet, that we call for the government and the Justice Ministry to immediately suspend it. To this end, we will assemble before the Justice Ministry on the day of its promulgation, November 20, 2007, for a public action and protest. We call on the public to join us at noon that day and lend your support and participation.

———————————-
DATE: Tuesday, November 20, 2007
TIME: Noon (public action will take 30 minutes to an hour)
PLACE: Ministry of Justice, Kasumigaseki, Tokyo (Goudou Chousha #6)
(Subway Marunouchi Line to Kasumigaseki Station, Bengoshi Kaikan exit)
ACTIVITIES: Sound truck with speeches
Placards, Message boards (NO TO FINGERPRINTING, FINGERPRINTING NON-JAPANESE IS DISCRIMINATION, “NON-JAPANESE” DOES NOT MEAN “TERRORIST” etc. Create your own slogan and bring your own sign!)

———————————-
CONTACT:
Amnesty International Japan (Tel 03-3518-6777)
http://www.amnesty.or.jp/
Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ) (Tel 03-5802-6033)
http://www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net/
See you there!
=========================

Entire text of AI/SMJ’s Appeal here (English, then Japanese original)
http://www.debito.org/?p=708
http://www.debito.org/?p=707
Concurrent public action, signature campaign by a group called Privacy International at
http://www.debito.org/?p=698

Now’s your chance, people. Don’t like what’s happening? Do something. You won’t be alone.

Anyway, life is not all fingerprinting. Let’s move on to some great news coverage of issues Debito.org has long been concerned about:

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3) JAPAN TIMES: US GOVT FORCED PM ABE TO BACKTRACK RE COMFORT WOMEN

Last March, blogs like mine followed how former Prime Minister Abe tried to deny there was any “coercion” involved in the WWII “Comfort Women” (i.e. sex slaves) servicing the Japanese Imperial Army in its colonies and war zones. You can trace the Arc of Abe, from denial to hair-splitting to no comment to deflection to apology through his cabinet, through
http://www.debito.org/?p=293

Back then, I wondered aloud how belated apologies like this (apologies tend to mean less when they come after being demanded, especially over a long wait) were indicate of any “coercion”–on Abe? How much pressure was put on him, and from where?

Well, the Japan Time/Kyodo News recently answered that question:

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U.S. GOT ABE TO DROP DENIAL OVER SEX SLAVES
Kyodo News, from The Japan Times: Friday, Nov. 9, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20071109a2.html

The United States warned Japan in March that Washington could no longer back Tokyo on the issue of North Korea’s past abductions of Japanese unless then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reversed his contentious claim that there was no proof that the Imperial forces forced women and girls into sexual slavery during the war, sources revealed Thursday.

The warning, delivered by U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer to a senior government official, prompted Abe to change his stance and announce that he stands by Japan’s 1993 official statement of apology to the “comfort women,” as they are euphemistically known, the sources said….
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Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=293#comment-90922

COMMENT: Whaaa…? When I read this, I thought this article had popped in from another dimension: This US administration, which created Guantanamo Concentration Camp and actively resorts to kidnap and third-party torturing, excuse me, renditioning, actually caring about human rights? Putting pressure on Abe to change his stance regarding the Sex Slaves issue? Pinch me.

But let’s get into even weirder territory…

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4) LA TIMES: HOW J POLICE IGNORE CERTAIN CRIMES. LIKE MURDER.

In a remarkable double-bill this week from Bruce Wallace, we have another article tying a heckuva lot of things together. And left me with a tremor down my spine…

================================
JAPAN’S POLICE SEE NO EVIL
The boy had been badly beaten but his death was ruled natural.
The case was closed in an official culture that discourages autopsies.
From the Los Angeles Times November 9, 2007
By Bruce Wallace, Los Angeles Times

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-autopsy9nov09,1,5774455.story?coll=la-headlines-world

...As is common in Japan, Aichi police reached their verdict on how [brutalized sumo wrestler Tokitaizan] Saito died without an autopsy. No need for a coroner, they said. No crime involved.

Only 6.3% of the unnatural deaths in Aichi are investigated by a medical examiner, a minuscule rate even by nationwide standards in Japan, where an autopsy is performed in 11.2% of cases…

But Saito’s case has given credence to complaints by a group of frustrated doctors, former pathologists and ex-cops who argue that Japan’s police culture is the main obstacle. Police discourage autopsies that might reveal a higher homicide rate in their jurisdiction, and pressure doctors to attribute unnatural deaths to health reasons, usually heart failure, the group alleges.

Odds are, it says, that people are getting away with murder in Japan, a country that officially claims one of the lowest per capita homicide rates in the world… “All the police care about is how they look to people; it’s all PR to show that their capabilities are high,” Saikawa says. “Without autopsies, they can keep their percentage [of solved cases] high. It’s all about numbers.”…

Many police examinations of the body are cursory, he alleges, sometimes nothing more sophisticated than a visual examination.

Take the case in January 2006, when financial advisor Hideaki Noguchi was found dead in an Okinawa hotel with knife wounds. Noguchi was a close associate of Takafumi Horie, the brash founder of the Internet company Livedoor, which had just been the target of a nationally televised police raid and seen most of its multibillion-dollar value evaporate.

But despite being a central figure in a sensational criminal investigation and privy to Livedoor secrets, police declared Noguchi’s death a suicide. They did not ask for an autopsy, and the body was cremated.

Or take the suicide in April of Agriculture Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka, who was found hanged in his Tokyo apartment. Matsuoka was embroiled in a scandal involving the misappropriation of political funds that suggested a broad system of organized influence peddling. Even though Matsuoka’s troubles were destabilizing the government, and his death occurred just hours before his scheduled appearance to answer questions before a parliamentary committee, no autopsy was conducted to ensure that he had not died from something other than hanging.

A day later, Shinichi Yamazaki, a businessman implicated in the same scandal, plunged to his death in a parking lot outside his Yokohama apartment. No autopsy was conducted in that case either…
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Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=713

COMMENT: Chilling. And I took a deep breath and said to myself, “What if somebody wanted to shut up Debito.org?” It worked for whistleblowing film director Itami Juuzo…

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5) IHT/ASAHI, METROPOLIS, NUGW ON NOVA BANKRUPTCY AFTERMATH

Two good articles on the aftermath of the NOVA bankruptcy. One from the IHT/Asahi, the other from Metropolis Magazine:

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ASAHI WEEKLY
Cover Story: Nova fallout
IHT/Asahi: November 8, 2007
BY HIROSHI MATSUBARA, STAFF WRITER

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200711080113.html

… G.communication group, a consulting firm based in Nagoya, will reopen at least 30 Nova schools and says it hopes to rehire the Nova staff.

As for Nova’s former president, Nozomu Sa[ru]hashi, he looks set to face criminal charges shortly for failing to pay billions of yen in wages to his employees, sources said.

Some former Nova teachers are in such dire financial straits they are having to rely on their former students to feed them.
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Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=710

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THE DECLINE AND FALL OF NOVA
Japan’s largest employer of foreigners comes to an ignominious end
By Ken Worsley
Metropolis Magazine November 9, 2007, Issue #711

http://metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/recent/bulletin.asp

In a sense, Sahashi has been playing into the hands of bankruptcy administrators who seek to pin the blame for Nova’s woes on him alone. His selfishness, petulance, disdain for employees and customers, and lack of business acumen make him an exceedingly worthy scapegoat. As this article was going to print, Sahashi remained incommunicado, and the bankruptcy administrators seem to be hoping that the worse he looks, the more the firm will appear as an innocent victim of his tyranny.

Will the strategy of separating Sahashi from the firm he wrecked succeed? Nova’s bankruptcy administrators claim that they have found a few firms interested in taking over the company’s operations, but this time they’re not naming names. Nova supposedly has until the second week of November to find a “sponsor,” or else it will be forced to go into a bankruptcy liquidation process.
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Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=710
with great links to where former NOVA employees can get help.
Now for the union’s perspective:

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From: Louis Carlet (carlet@jca.apc.org)
Subject: [Nambu FWC] Nova and G
Date: November 11, 2007 10:16:04 AM JST
To: action@nambufwc.org

Members, much happened yesterday regarding the Nova case. At 10am and 2pm at locations throughout the country, Nova’s trustee held information sessions explaining various aspects of the coming Nova bankruptcy and explaining G Education’s offer to hire all Nova teachers who want to be hired at the same working conditions they had before…

We also last night joined forces with General Union to tell the trustee, Noriaki Takahashi, that former conditions are not enough. Both unions (Nambu and G.U.) submitted to him several demands, including full enrollment of all teachers in shakai hoken and open-ended employment. Other demands included a fund to protect student tuition advances. The trustee said he agreed with all the demands…
Louis Carlet
NUGW Tokyo Nambu

http://www.nugw.org
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http://www.debito.org/?p=715

Again, it pays to protest. And get organized. Do so.

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6) NOV 17 FED OF BAR ASSOC (NICHIBENREN) MEETING RE DIVORCE AND JOINT CUSTODY

Following up on the headlining topic last newsletter, on the “FOR TAKA AND MANA” documentary film screening and fundraiser taking place December 11, 2007 (http://www.debito.org/?p=685)

The issue of joint custody (which is not allowed in Japan, meaning one parent is nearly always cut off from their child(ren) after divorce) is also gaining some traction with lawyers in Japan.

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From: CRN Japan’s Mark Smith
Subject: [Community] JFBA joint custody seminar in Tokyo on Nov 17
Date: November 11, 2007

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations [Nichibenren] will be having a seminar in Tokyo entitled “Divorce and Children 2: Thinking of Joint Custody”.

This is not just for lawyers, so if you speak Japanese and are in Tokyo on November 17, from 13:00 to 17:00, you may want to attend. Their website page with more information about this event is here.
http://www.nichibenren.or.jp/ja/event/071117.html

Might be a good thing to have a lot of non-Japanese show up so that they saw that the problem is not restricted to Japanese.

Mark Smith, Children’s Rights Network Japan
http://www.crnjapan.com/en/
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Back to the “FOR TAKA AND MANA” documentary film fundraiser.
http://www.debito.org/?p=685
Please do support this event. Spread the word. Attend. Contribute.
Even put a movie poster newly up at Debito.org:
http://www.debito.org/?p=696

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…and finally…

7) UPCOMING SPEECH TOKYO NOV 18, “NO BORDER” GROUP ANNUAL MEETING

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NO BORDER 2007
LIVING TOGETHER IN ONE SOCIETY
Round Table Discussion
Hosted by the Volunteer Network of Foreign Residents in Japan

More Information at http://zainichi.net/

Objective: Following last year’s event, a round table discussion session will be held with the aim to assist individuals in their efforts in networking. Through discussion, this event aims to create an opportunity for individuals to consider the experiences of foreign residents and Japanese nationals with various cultural backgrounds in Japan.

18 November 2007, 10:00 – 17:00
Hosei University Ichigaya Campus, Boissonade Tower 26F, Sky Hall

http://www.hosei.ac.jp/hosei/campus/annai/ichigaya/access.html

Entrance free. Participants are free to enter and leave the event venue as they wish.
Active participation is welcome and encouraged during the round table discussion session.

Part 1 (10:00 – 12:30)
Is there a place for Japanese of foreign descent in Japanese Society?

Discussing the multiplicity of what it means to be Japanese: Is there a place for Japanese nationals of various ethnic backgrounds in Japanese Society?

Defining the Issue: Presentation of the movie, “The New Foreign Residents of Japan” (Shin-Zainichi Gaikokujin)

Presentation 1: Gen Masayuki
Presentation 2: Elnaz Jalali, Nady

12:30 – 14:00 Lunch Break (Light lunch is served)

Part 2 (14:00 – 16:30)
What is necessary for a system to support a new Lifestyle?

Presentation 1: Kim Kyon Ju (Chukyo University)
Presentation 2: Inoue Hiroshi (Keidanren–Japan Business Federation)
Presentation 3: Arudou Debito (Hokkaido Information University)

Part 3 16:30-17:30 No Border Live
MORE INFORMATION AT http://zainichi.net/

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That’s all for today! Thanks for reading!

Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
Daily blog updates, Newsletter archives, and podcasts at
http://www.debito.org/index.php
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 12, 2007 ENDS

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