DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 4, 2011

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Hi Debito.org Newsletter Readers. This Newsletter will tidy up some loose ends, I will be vacationing Debito.org (and the Newsletter) until April 2011, so that I can concentrate on writing my next book.

Sorry about this, but the Blog takes about an hour or more out of my day every day and as such is a major time bandit. Same with reading and approving every comment. So let me just say ja shitakke ne for a little while.

I will of course still put up podcasts and my Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE columns the day after they come out. But comments and the like will take a while to approved, as will answers to emails to me directly.

As always, thanks for reading and commenting to Debito.org. See you again in April.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 4, 2011

Table of Contents:
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1) JT’s Philip Brasor on BBC QI show and atomic-bombings and “victim ownership of historical narrative”
2) Kyodo: MOFA Survey shows divided views on GOJ signing of child custody pact
3) Japan Times on what needs to be deregulated for Japan’s future as an Asian business hub
4) NYT: Japan society puts up generational roadblocks, wastes potential of young
5) Weekend Tangent: Economist.com compares GDPs of US states with whole countries
6) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST FEBRUARY 1, 2011
7) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Feb 1, 2011: “Naturalized Japanese: foreigners no more”
8 ) Japan Times JBC/ZG Column Jan 4, 2010: “Arudou’s Alien Almanac 2000-2010”

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By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
Freely Forwardable

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1) JT’s Philip Brasor on BBC QI show and atomic-bombings and “victim ownership of historical narrative”

Here’s an excellent column on the recent “humor” segment on the BBC show QI, derided by officials and family as “insensitive” because it was connected to the Japan atomic bombings. The author then links it to the issue of DPRK abductions of Japanese, where deviation from the official line of “they’re still alive over there” is taboo, and comes up with an interesting conclusion: He who owns the “narrative” on this history (particularly as a victim) gets to dictate how it is represented in the media. Very insightful indeed. I can see how this analytical paradigm can be applied to the realm of human rights and racial discrimination in Japan — how NJ are often not allowed to “own” their own narratives in Japan. Worth a think about.

JT: Yamaguchi’s daughter told Kyodo News that her own family had joked about her father’s experience, but that doesn’t mean British people can do the same. The reason they can’t, she said, is that Great Britain is a “country that has nuclear weapons.” But it’s not within the purview of “QI” to make such distinctions. Britain may possess nukes, but the guests on the show certainly don’t; and for all we know they may be opposed to their country’s policy of deterrence. No, the real reason they don’t have a right to joke about Hiroshima, at least from the Japanese critics’ point of view, is that they aren’t atomic bomb victims themselves.

The same line of reasoning informs the suit that the parents of Keiko Arimoto, one of the Japanese people abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and ’80s, brought against veteran journalist Soichiro Tahara in July 2009. Earlier that year, Tahara speculated on a TV Asahi talk show that Arimoto and another abductee, Megumi Yokota, were dead and that the Foreign Ministry knew they were dead. Akihiro and Kayoko Arimoto believe that their daughter is still alive, and Tahara’s remarks caused them great “mental suffering,” so they sued him for damages.

On the program in question, Tahara was discussing Japan’s policy toward North Korea and questioned the wisdom of predicating any engagement with NK on the communist state’s first returning all remaining abductees to Japan. “But North Korea says they’re dead,” Tahara said, “and even the Foreign Ministry knows they’re not alive.” Unofficially, Tahara’s remark is taboo: One cannot publicly put forth the opinion that the abductees may be dead, because their families have stated that they believe they aren’t. In Japan, the families own the abductee narrative because they are victims, and owning the narrative means you get to control how it’s told…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8515

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2) Kyodo: MOFA Survey shows divided views on GOJ signing of child custody pact

Here’s some news on a MOFA survey that was skewed (by dint, for one thing, of it only being rendered in Japanese only, effectively shutting out many opinions of the NJ side of the marriage) linguistically to get results that were negative towards the signing of the Hague Convention on Child Abductions. Even then, MOFA got mixed results (as in, more people want the GOJ to sign the Hague than don’t, but it’s a pretty clean three-way split). Nice try, MOFA. Read the survey for yourself below and see what I mean.

In any case, the bureaucrats, according to Jiji Press of Feb 1 (see bottom of this blog post), seem to be gearing up to join the Hague only if there is a domestic law in place for Japan to NOT return the kids. I smell a loophole in the making.

NHK’s “Close Up Gendai” gave 28 minutes to the issue on February 2, 2011 (watch it here), in which they gave less airtime than anticipated to portraying Japanese as victims escaping to Japan from NJ DV, and more instead to the Japanese who want Japan to sign the Hague so they can get their kids back from overseas. Only one segment (shorter than all the others) gave any airtime to the NJ side of the marriage — but them getting any airtime at all is surprising; as we saw in yesterday’s blog entry, NJ don’t “own the narrative” of child abductions in Japan…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8524

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3) Japan Times on what needs to be deregulated for Japan’s future as an Asian business hub

Japan Times Community Page: What do those companies need from you in addition to a secure environment in which to develop intellectual property? They need locations in Japan that are convenient to airports that provide access to a broad swath of Chinese cities. They’d also like those locations to be relatively near to urban centers that offer employees attractive housing, dining and entertainment options.

They need those tax breaks you’ve offered, but they need greater assurance from your government that the deals they cut in establishing operations here will last longer than, well, your party’s likely tenure in power. The cost of setting up a regional research and development center makes the tax holiday you’re offering a very minor inducement, especially as your offer has an imminent expiration date.

They need immigration policies that will let them decide what employees are required to staff their facility, and if you run into your counterparts at the ministries of education and justice, you might let them know that English- and other foreign language-speakers may be required, which may disqualify many of the Japanese citizens you’d like to see get jobs. And of course, they’ll need a streamlined visa procedure for any foreign workers, even if those workers are brown-skinned Asians.

They need you to create a business environment that is quickly and easily navigable by foreigners, i.e. in English, and that is, above all, flexible. Businesses need to be able to do whatever they need to do to operate, survive and thrive, without stumbling over bureaucratic obstacles all the time.

What they don’t need, Minister, is a Japan “that can say ‘no.’ ” Business investors need to hear “yes” and “no problem” and “we can get that done for you yesterday.”

You can do it, I’m sure, and your efforts will pay large economic dividends for decades to come.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8485

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4) NYT: Japan society puts up generational roadblocks, wastes potential of young

Continuing with the theme of what reforms Japanese society needs to face the next century, here’s Martin Fackler from the NYT making the case about the structural barriers that waste the potential of youth in Japan. Bit of a tangent, but not really. Fresh ideas and entrepreneurial energy (regardless of nationality) should be welcomed as revitalizing, but as Fackler writes, the sclerotic is turning necrotic and people are seeking opportunities elsewhere.

NYT: An aging population is clogging the nation’s economy with the vested interests of older generations, young people and social experts warn, making an already hierarchical society even more rigid and conservative. The result is that Japan is holding back and marginalizing its youth at a time when it actually needs them to help create the new products, companies and industries that a mature economy requires to grow.

A nation that produced Sony, Toyota and Honda has failed in recent decades to nurture young entrepreneurs, and the game-changing companies that they can create, like Google or Apple — each started by entrepreneurs in their 20s.

Employment figures underscore the second-class status of many younger Japanese. While Japan’s decades of stagnation have increased the number of irregular jobs across all age groups, the young have been hit the hardest.

Last year, 45 percent of those ages 15 to 24 in the work force held irregular jobs, up from 17.2 percent in 1988 and as much as twice the rate among workers in older age groups, who cling tenaciously to the old ways. Japan’s news media are now filled with grim accounts of how university seniors face a second “ice age” in the job market, with just 56.7 percent receiving job offers before graduation as of October 2010 — an all-time low.

“Japan has the worst generational inequality in the world,” said Manabu Shimasawa, a professor of social policy at Akita University who has written extensively on such inequalities. “Japan has lost its vitality because the older generations don’t step aside, allowing the young generations a chance to take new challenges and grow.”…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8480

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5) Weekend Tangent: Economist.com compares GDPs of US states with whole countries

As a Weekend Tangent, here is The Economist with a fascinating chart comparing GDPs of US states with whole countries. Click on the Population button to do the same for country populations as well. Just thought I’d throw this up, as it is an interesting concept. Note that Japan (and China) are too big to included. Let’s hope Japan stays that way.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8442

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6) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST FEBRUARY 1, 2011

In this podcast, I read aloud:

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 18, “Unlike Humans, Swine Flu is Indiscriminate”, on the the lessons to be learned from Japan’s public panic due to the Swine Flu Pandemic, and how to avoid discrimination arising from it (August 4, 2009).

Japan Times ZEIT GIST Community Page Article 51/JUST BE CAUSE Column 19, ” McDonald’s Japan’s “Mr James” campaign: Why these stereotyping advertisements should be discontinued”. (September 1, 2009)

Plus interim excerpts from Tangerine Dream “White Eagle” and an excerpt of another song from Duran Duran’s most recent album, “All You Need is Now”. Title: “Being Followed”.

22 minutes. Enjoy!

http://www.debito.org/?p=8495

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7) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Feb 1, 2011: “Naturalized Japanese: foreigners no more” (full text)

JUST BE CAUSE
Naturalized Japanese: foreigners no more
Long-termers hit back after trailblazing Diet member Tsurunen utters the F-word

[NB: Not my title; too confrontational. I was trying to be respectful in tone in this article to my dai-senpai.]
By DEBITO ARUDOU
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110201ad.html
Debito.org discussion at http://www.debito.org/?p=8509

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8 ) Japan Times JBC/ZG Column Jan 4, 2010: “Arudou’s Alien Almanac 2000-2010”

THE TOP TENS FOR 2010 AND THE DECADE
ZEIT GIST 54 / JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 35 FOR THE JAPAN TIMES
The Japan Times, Tuesday, January 4, 2011

DRAFT NINE, VERSION AS SUBMITTED TO EDITOR (Director’s Cut, including text cut out of published article)
WORD COUNT FOR DECADE COLUMN #5-#2: 988 WORDS
WORD COUNT FOR 2010 COLUMN #5-#2: 820 WORDS
Version with links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=8324

Download Top Ten for 2010 at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110104ad.html
Download Top Ten for 2000-2010 at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110104a1.html
Download entire newsprint page as PDF with excellent Chris Mackenzie illustrations (recommended) at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/images/community/0104p13.PDF

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Again, thanks for reading and commenting to Debito.org. See you again in April.

Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 4, 2011 ENDS

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