DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 15, 2011

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 15, 2011
SPECIAL ON THE DISASTERS IN TOHOKU

Hi Blog. Here is a sampling of some of the articles that appeared on Debito.org (which took a break from hiatus briefly) regarding the March earthquake and the aftermath, particularly how it affected NJ in Japan.

Table of Contents:
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NJ PORTRAYED AS PART OF THE PROBLEM

1) Asahi Tensei Jingo (Vox Populi) Mar 20 offers ponderous column with gratuitous alienation of NJ
2) Wall Street Journal joins in bashing alleged NJ “fly-jin exodus”: “Expatriates tiptoe back to the office”
3) Tokyo Sports Shinbun blames closure of Tokyo Disneyland not on power outages, but on NJ!
4) Rumors of “Foreign Crime Gangs”; rapes and muggings, while tabloids headline “all NJ have flown Japan” etc.
5) SNA: “GOJ targets harmful internet rumors”, including the earthquake being caused by foreign terrorism
6) Tokyo Governor Election April 10 posts “expel the barbarians, Japan for the Japanese” openly xenophobic candidate, gets over 6000 votes

NJ AS PART OF THE SOLUTION

7) NJ helping Japan during this crisis: James Gibbs on his Miyagi Rescue Efforts
8 ) John Harris on how Coca Cola could help Japan save a nuclear power plant’s worth of power: Switch off their 5.5 million vending machines
9) Thinking of donating blood in Japan? Mutantfrog translates the regulations on who can’t.

RELATED ARTICLES OF NOTE

9) Tokyo Gov Ishihara calls the tsunami “divine punishment” to wipe out the “egoism” of Japan. Yet wins reelection.
10) The Nation.com on Tohoku Earthquake has shaken Japan Inc.
11) AOL News: WikiLeaks: Cables Show Japan Was Warned About Nuclear Plant Safety
12) Weekend Tangent: NYT: “Japanese Workers Braved Radiation for a Temp Job” in Japan’s nuclear industry
13) Japanese cartoon for kids depicting Fukushima nuclear issue as power plants with constipation!

… and finally…

14) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 38, April 5, 2011 on Tohoku: “Letting radiation leak, but never information”

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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
Freely Forwardable

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NJ PORTRAYED AS PART OF THE PROBLEM

1) Asahi Tensei Jingo (Vox Populi) Mar 20 offers ponderous column with gratuitous alienation of NJ

Check out this Asahi Shinbun editorial (Japanese, then English), which offers an assessment of the victimization of Japan by 3/11, and insinuates that NJ in Japan are deserting us in our time of need:

Asahi Shinbun column Mar 20, 2011: This past weekend, there were fewer foreigners than usual to be seen in Tokyo’s typically busy Ginza and Omotesando districts. Not just tourists from abroad scrambled to leave Japan, but also business travelers, students and reportedly even diplomats.

While I am deeply grateful to people around the world for their moral and material support, I understand too well that rebuilding our country is ultimately the task of none but the Japanese…

Let us all believe that, and let us stand by our fellow citizens who survived the catastrophe. We have nowhere to go back to, except this country of ours, which we must rebuild again out of the rubble.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8713

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2) Wall Street Journal joins in bashing alleged NJ “fly-jin exodus”: “Expatriates tiptoe back to the office”

Here we have the Wall Street Journal joining in the NJ bashfest, publicizing the word “flyjin” for the Japanese market too (making one question the claim that the pejorative is restricted to the English-language market). Gotta love the Narita airport photo within that is deftly timed to make it seem as if it’s mostly NJ fleeing. “Good-natured hazing” is how one investment banker puts it below, making one wonder if he knows what hazing means. Anyway, here’s another non-good-natured article about how the aftershocks of the earthquake are affecting NJ.

WSJ: The flight of the foreigners — known as gaijin in Japanese — has polarized some offices in Tokyo. Last week, departures from Japan reached a fever pitch after the U.S. Embassy unveiled a voluntary evacuation notice and sent in planes to ferry Americans to safe havens. In the exodus, a new term was coined for foreigners fleeing Japan: flyjin.

The expat employees’ decision to leave is a sensitive cultural issue in a country known for its legions of “salarymen”: loyal Japanese employees whose lives revolve around the office, who regularly work overtime and who have strong, emotional ties to their corporations and their colleagues.

“There is a split between [the Japanese and foreigners] on where their allegiances lie. In Japan, the company and family are almost one and the same, whereas foreigners place family first and company second,” said Mark Pink, the founder of financial recruitment firm TopMoneyJobs.com, based in Tokyo.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8738

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3) Tokyo Sports Shinbun blames closure of Tokyo Disneyland not on power outages, but on NJ!

Debito.org is pleased to announce another Japan Official(TM) Open Season on NJ. We get these fads occasionally, like “NJ have AIDS” (1986), “NJ have SARS” (2003), “NJ are criminals” (2000-4).

Now, with the advent of “Fly-jin” (or the variant “Bye-jin” — which is better, some might retort, than being “Die-jin”), it’s now “NJ are deserters”. And they can be conveniently blamed for various social ills. Here, I’ll anticipate a couple:

1) “Fly-jin” are responsible for Japan’s lack of English ability because they fled their posts as English teachers. (Not so far-fetched, since they have been blamed in the past for the same thing because conversely “NJ have been in Japan too long”)…

2) “Fly-jin” are responsible for our fruits and vegetables becoming more expensive, since NJ “Trainees” deserted their posts as slaves on Japanese farms and left things rotting on the vine…

3) “Fly-jin” are responsible for a further decrease in Japan’s population, since some of them took Japanese citizens with them when they deserted Japan…

4) “Fly-jin” are responsible for a downtick in Japan’s shipping industry, since NJ accounted for 90% of Japan’s maritime crews…

5) “Fly-jin” are responsible for diplomatic snafus, since our NJ proofreaders at national government agencies did a runner…

Okay, that’s still fiction. But who says people in Japan aren’t creative? I never anticipated NJ being blamed for the closure of Tokyo Disneyland, as the Tokyo Sports Shinbun does on April 14, 2011:

No, it’s not due to power outages or rolling blackouts or anything like that. They have to have NJ faces as dancers and people in parades, therefore no parade, no Tokyo Disneyland. We’re closed, and it’s your fault, NJ. Makes perfect sense, right? Enjoy the Open Season on you, NJ, while it lasts. I anticipate it’ll dissipate with the radiation levels someday.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8775

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4) Rumors of “Foreign Crime Gangs”; rapes and muggings, while tabloids headline “all NJ have flown Japan” etc.

As promised, here we have a record of how domestic media is either reporting on nasty rumors denigrating NJ, or circulating those nasty rumors themselves. The GOJ is taking measures to quell the clacking keyboards, but the tabloids (roundly decried for spreading exaggerated information overseas about the state of radioactivity from Fukushima) are still selling papers by targeting NJ regardless. (There’s a lot of text in Japanese below; keep paging down. Brief comments in English sandwiched between.)

First, the Asahi and Sankei report “dema” swirling about saying that foreigners are forming criminal gangs (echoes of 1923’s rumored Korean well poisonings, which lead to massacres) and carrying out muggings and rapes. Yet Sankei (yes, even the Sankei) publishes that there hasn’t been a single reported case (glad they’re setting the record straight):

The GOJ is also playing a part in quelling and deleting internet rumors, thank goodness: Still, that doesn’t stop other media from headlining other (and still nasty) rumors about how (bad) NJ are heading south towards Tokyo (soon rendering Ueno into a lawless zone). Or that NJ are all just getting the hell out:

Fellow Blogger Hoofin has made an attempt to mathematically debunk this alleged phenomenon of “Fly-Jin”, noting that the person to coin this phrase has since commented with a bit of regret at being the butterfly flapping his wings and setting this rhetorical shitstorm in motion (much like GOJ shill Robert Angel regretting ever coining the word “Japan bashing”). We have enough anti-NJ rhetorical tendencies in Japan without the NJ community contributing, thank you very much.

Besides (as other Debito.org Readers have pointed out), if the shoe was on the other foot, do you think Japanese citizens living overseas would refuse to consider repatriating themselves out of a stricken disaster area (and do you think the media of that stricken country would zero in on them with the same nasty verve?).

Meanwhile, xenophobic websites continue to rail and rant against NJ, since hate speech in Japan is not an illegal activity: Here’s but one example (which has escaped the notice of the GOJ as yet, calling for the execution of foreign criminals and throwing their bodies into the sea); I’m sure readers can find more and post them in the Comments Section below:

People always need someone to blame or speak ill of, I guess. I’ll talk more soon about how Japanese from Fukushima are also being targeted for exclusion. However, it seems that hate speech directed towards NJ is less “discriminate”, so to speak — in that it doesn’t matter where you came from, how long you’ve been here, or what you’re doing or have done for Japan; as long as you’re foreign in Japan, you’re suspect and potentially subversive. Just as long as one can anonymously bad-mouth other people in billets and online, one can get away with it. Again, this is why we have laws against hate speech in other countries — to stem these nasty tendencies found in every society.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8711

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5) SNA: “GOJ targets harmful internet rumors”, including the earthquake being caused by foreign terrorism

SNA: A new project team has been created by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, the National Police Agency, and METI to combat “rumors” deemed harmful to Japanese security in the wake of the March 11 disaster.

Specifically, these government organizations asserted in a press release that the damage caused by earthquakes and by the nuclear accident are being magnified by irresponsible rumors, and that the government must take steps against this trend for the sake of the public good…

The Telecom Services Association reveals that the following requests have thus far come from the government:

March 17: Erase descriptions of the earthquake as a man-made event
March 24: Erase descriptions about the manufacturers of the troubled nuclear reactors
March 28: Erase claim that the earthquake was caused by foreign terrorism…

COMMENT: Here we have GOJ agencies working to stem malicious rumors from proliferating online, including those targeting NJ. Good. It’s also presented (by a news blog) as a debate between those who feel they have a right to know (and feel betrayed by the official media as an information source) and those who feel they can say anything they like about anybody thanks to freedom of speech. It’s a fine line, to be sure, but I’m glad to see somebody official trying to tackle (or, rather, at least thinking about tackling) the issue of hate speech against NJ. But without clear legal guidelines about what constitutes “hate speech” (or for that matter, “immoral information”) in Japan, those who don’t trust the government will no doubt foresee a wave of official censorship.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8785

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6) Tokyo Governor Election April 10 posts “expel the barbarians, Japan for the Japanese” openly xenophobic candidate, gets over 6000 votes

Let’s now start looking at some aspects of what appears to be a Post 3-11 Backlash against NJ. Let’s start with the Tokyo Governor’s Election, due April 10.

We already have one overtly racist incumbent, Ishihara Shintaro, whom I’ve heard is alas the favorite to win, again. But also on the bill is this noticeably nasty candidate Furukawa Keigo, who advocates by his very slogan the expulsion of foreigners from his jurisdictions (pedants might counter that he’s only referring to Chinese and Koreans, but a) that doesn’t make it any better, and b) you think he’s only stopping there?).

Here’s Furukawa’s public campaign announcement:

Safeguard the capital. Safeguard Japan. Japan belongs to the Japanese people.

Now more than ever, we should resolutely expel the foreign barbarians

Eject foreigners from Tokyo.
(By foreigners, I mean mainly Chinese (the pejorative “Shinajin” used for this) and north and south Koreans. In other words, the foreigners who are thought to be causing harm to Japan.

1. Change the law so that foreigners cannot purchase land in Tokyo-to.
2. Absolutely opposed to voting rights for foreigners!!
3. Ban the the use of officially recognized Japanese aliases used by so-called “Zainichi” Koreans.
4. Make conversion of pachinko shop premiums into cash illegal…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8726

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NJ AS PART OF THE SOLUTION

7) NJ helping Japan during this crisis: James Gibbs on his Miyagi Rescue Efforts

As I shift the focus of Debito.org to how NJ residents are being bashed in Japan post 3-11 despite their best efforts, it’s first prudent to start giving an example or two of how NJ are actually trying to help. Others who are similarly helping out are welcome to submit their stories here either by email (debito@debito.org) or as a comment below. Well done, James. Debito

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

Report on the Miyagi trip this past Sunday after our Saturday fundraising efforts.
By James Gibbs. April 1, 2011

After holding a fundraising event on Mar.26, the following day we delivered donated items along with a fully-loaded van of food and clothes to Onagawa next to Ishinomaki City, which is just north of Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture. I’ve made the following brief report on the trip along with first-hand observations on the situation and suggestions for future assistance as I know everyone is wanting to do something to help…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8721

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8 ) John Harris on how Coca Cola could help Japan save a nuclear power plant’s worth of power: Switch off their 5.5 million vending machines

John Harris writes: Across eastern Japan we are experiencing rolling power cuts and train service cuts to compensate for the nuclear plant outages. This interruption of normal life hugely ramps up public anxiety.

In the midst of all this, the 5,510,000 vending machines across Japan* are still operating. According to a report I read years ago, these machines require electricity equivalent to the output of an entire nuclear power plant.

The most power-hungry are the soft-drink machines that have both refrigeration and heating (for hot canned coffee). Coca-Cola has perhaps the largest network of beverage machines across Japan. Unlike domestic rivals, as a global company Coca-Cola must listen to consumers around the world. So if concerned Americans, Canadians, Europeans and everyone else speak up forcefully, Coke must act. And Japanese domestic operators will be forced to follow suit.

So, please, spread this message via email, Twitter and Facebook to everyone you know. And please email Coca-Cola’s CEO asking him to pull the plug on his vending machines in Japan.

Coca-Cola knows they have a problem, as you can tell by the message on their corporate website:

http://www.debito.org/?p=8659

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9) Thinking of donating blood in Japan? Mutantfrog translates the regulations on who can’t.

Roy Berman at Mutantfrog translates the Japanese Red Cross’s regulations on who cannot donate blood in Japan. I can’t. So if you want to help bloodwise, check here first to make sure you don’t get disqualified for your trouble.

http://www.mutantfrog.com/2011/03/13/who-can-and-can-not-donate-blood-in-japan/

Debito.org Comments at
http://www.debito.org/?p=8636

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RELATED ARTICLES OF NOTE

9) Tokyo Gov Ishihara calls the tsunami “divine punishment” to wipe out the “egoism” of Japan. Yet wins reelection.

Kyodo: Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara apologized Tuesday for his remark that the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami last week represented “divine punishment” of the Japanese people who have been tainted with egoism.

COMMENT: This from a man who claimed in public a decade ago that foreigners in Japan would riot in the event of a natural disaster (er, such as this one?) and that the SDF should be deployed to round them up — and also questioned the kokutai loyalties of citizens who have foreign roots. It seems this time, by issuing an unusual retraction (you think he’ll ever retract the foreigner riots claim now that it hasn’t happened?), he realized that this particular Senior Moment was going too far.

But this old fool has long lost the mental software governing prudence befitting a person in high office. For a milder (but concrete) example, check out this video, where Ishihara gets all snitty because he was trying to make another speech about how the world was not going the way he wants it (when asked to offer a few seconds of encouragement to runners in this year’s Tokyo Marathon on February 27). Watch to the very end where you hear him characteristically grumbling about being cut off mid-rant:

http://www.debito.org/?p=8648

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10) The Nation.com on Tohoku Earthquake has shaken Japan Inc.

The Nation.com: But even as Japan was reeling from the disaster’s death toll — which is expected to surpass 20,000 — and growing increasingly frightened by the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s nuclear reactor complex, there was growing unease at the lack of straight information from both the government and Tepco, a utility with a troubled history of lies, cover-ups and obfuscation dating back to the late 1960s.

The information gap became an international issue on March 16, when US Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair Gregory Jaczko openly contradicted the Japanese government by declaring that water in one of Tepco’s reactors had boiled away, raising radiation in the area to “extremely high levels.” He recommended evacuation to any Americans within fifty miles of the site — nearly double the evacuation zone announced by the Japanese government (which immediately denied Jaczko’s assertions). TheNew York Times piled on the next day with a major article that pilloried the Kan government. “Never has postwar Japan needed strong, assertive leadership more — and never has its weak, rudderless system of governing been so clearly exposed,” the reporters declared.

To be sure, Tokyo’s response to the disaster has been erratic, and the paucity of information about Fukushima was one of the first complaints I heard about the situation from my friends in Japan. But much of the criticism poured on Japan has obscured the many ways its political system has shifted since a 2009 political earthquake, when the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was swept out of power for the first time in fifty years. The changes, particularly to people who remember the government’s pathetic response to the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, which killed nearly 6,500, have been striking.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8732

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11) AOL News: WikiLeaks: Cables Show Japan Was Warned About Nuclear Plant Safety

AOL News: The Japanese government has said it is doing all it can to contain the crisis at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which was critically damaged in last week’s earthquake. But according to U.S. diplomatic papers released by WikiLeaks, that atomic disaster might have been avoided if only the government had acted on earlier safety warnings.

An unnamed official from the International Atomic Energy Agency is quotedin a 2008 cable from the American embassy in Tokyo as saying that a strong earthquake would pose a “serious problem” for Japan’s nuclear power stations. The official added that the country’s nuclear safety guidelines were dangerously out of date, as they had only been “revised three times in the last 35 years.”

Following that warning, Japan’s government pledged to raise security at all of its nuclear facilities,reports The Daily Telegraph, which published the cable. But questions are now being asked about whether authorities really took the nuclear watchdog’s worries seriously…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8689

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12) Weekend Tangent: NYT: “Japanese Workers Braved Radiation for a Temp Job” in Japan’s nuclear industry

NYT: Mr. Ishizawa, who was finally allowed to leave, is not a nuclear specialist; he is not even an employee of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the crippled plant. He is one of thousands of untrained, itinerant, temporary laborers who handle the bulk of the dangerous work at nuclear power plants here and in other countries, lured by the higher wages offered for working with radiation. Collectively, these contractors were exposed to levels of radiation about 16 times as high as the levels faced by Tokyo Electric employees last year, according to Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, which regulates the industry. These workers remain vital to efforts to contain the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plants.

They are emblematic of Japan’s two-tiered work force, with an elite class of highly paid employees at top companies and a subclass of laborers who work for less pay, have less job security and receive fewer benefits. Such labor practices have both endangered the health of these workers and undermined safety at Japan’s 55 nuclear reactors, critics charge.

“This is the hidden world of nuclear power,” said Yuko Fujita, a former physics professor at Keio University in Tokyo and a longtime campaigner for improved labor conditions in the nuclear industry. “Wherever there are hazardous conditions, these laborers are told to go. It is dangerous for them, and it is dangerous for nuclear safety.”

Of roughly 83,000 workers at Japan’s 18 commercial nuclear power plants, 88 percent were contract workers in the year that ended in March 2010, the nuclear agency said. At the Fukushima Daiichi plant, 89 percent of the 10,303 workers during that period were contractors. In Japan’s nuclear industry, the elite are operators like Tokyo Electric and the manufacturers that build and help maintain the plants like Toshiba and Hitachi. But under those companies are contractors, subcontractors and sub-subcontractors — with wages, benefits and protection against radiation dwindling with each step down the ladder…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8755

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13) Japanese cartoon for kids depicting Fukushima nuclear issue as power plants with constipation!

Here’s a novel way to explain away the entire Fukushima debacle — as a problem of nuclear waste. See video below for kids depicting Fukushima as a constipated patient who can be cured by “doctors” and “medicine”. Note how radiation is depicted as “farts”, merely amounting to “a bad smell”. English subtitles included.

If only the diagnosis and cure were so simple. Or the metaphor more accurate.

Anyway, this is part of the process of lulling the Japanese public into complacency (keeping public calm and order as people in the path of the disaster merely wait for it to play itself out). How much more distortion and deception can an educated people take?

http://www.debito.org/?p=8679

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… and finally…

14) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 38, April 5, 2011 on Tohoku: “Letting radiation leak, but never information”

The Japan Times Tuesday, April 5, 2011

JUST BE CAUSE Column 38
Letting radiation leak, but never information
By ARUDOU DEBITO
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110405ad.html
Debito.org Comments at http://www.debito.org/?p=8740

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Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito

====================
Debito’s new novel “IN APPROPRIATE: A Novel of Culture, Kidnapping, and Revenge in Modern Japan”, now on sale.
Information site with reviews and ordering details at
http://www.debito.org/inappropriate.html
If you like the information the Debito.org Newsletter brings you, please consider supporting Debito.org by buying a book.

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 15, 2011 ENDS

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