DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOV 27 2006

mytest

Good evening all. Recent articles on my blog have reached saturation point, so here’s a roundup:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOV 27, 2006
This post is organized thusly:

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1) OTARU ONSENS CASE NOW TEACHING MATERIAL
2) GAIJIN CARD CHECKS OUTSIDE “SAKURA HOUSE”
3) UPDATE ON KITAKYUSHU EXCLUSIONARY RESTAURANT
4) J TIMES ON TOURISM PROMOTION, WITH LETTER TO THE ED
5) TBS: FUJIWARA NORIKA BUMPS ARUDOU DEBITO
6) KYODO: MOCK JURY TRIAL SPRINGS FOREIGN MANSLAUGHTERER
7) JALT PALE ROUNDTABLE ON ACADEMIC EMPLOYMENT
and finally…
8) WASH POST: GOJ CREATING SUSHI POLICE FOR OVERSEAS J FOOD
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This and future material available in real time by subscription at
http://www.debito.org/index.php

1) OTARU ONSENS CASE NOW TEACHING MATERIAL

The Otaru Onsens Case (http://www.debito.org/otarulawsuit.html) refuses to fade into obscurity, thank goodness. Still, the facts of the case are being increasingly bleached out as time goes on. Witness how in this English teaching book discussing the case for educational purposes:

From “Shift the Focus”, Lesson 4: “Discrimination, or Being Japanese…?” pp 18-21, on the Otaru Onsens Case. Sanshusha Pubilshing Co., Ltd. February, 2006. Written by Colin Sloss.

After developing the case to make it appear as if I was doing this all on my own, the dialog continues:

======== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
Some foreigners who had been living in Japan for a long time, lets [sic] call them “old Japan hands,” objected to the claim that this was discrimination and should be stopped. Their argument, as I understand it, was that trying to make Japan like other countries would, in fact, make Japan less distinct and more ordinary. Japan, as it is now (regardless of any problems it may possess, such as discrimination and racism), should be appreciated because of its uniqueness. Ultimately, this argument is romantic, condescending and resistant to the globalization of Japan. Lafcadio Hearn could be said to represent an extreme of this kind of thinking. During the late Meiji Period, Hearn was strongly against the Westernization of Japan, which he feared would destroy the charms of old Japan. Such hopes, though understandable, tend to be disappointed with the changing times.
======== EXCERPT ENDS ===================
Entire dialog at http://www.debito.org/?p=88

COMMENT:
While I am happy that the issue has been condensed and replicated for future discussion in an educational setting, I wish the author could have gotten a little closer to the facts of the case. Perhaps included the fact that there was more than one Plaintiff in the case (Olaf and Ken), not just me alone.

I also think he should take less seriously the intellectual squirrelling afforded those postulating pundits he calls “old Japan hands”, found chattering away on places like NBR. They are hardly representative of the foreign resident community in Japan, the proprortionally-shrinking English-language community in Japan, or of anything at all, really. Except perhaps old grouches and bores.

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2) GAIJIN CARD CHECKS OUTSIDE “SAKURA HOUSE”

Received a mail (I get a lot of these, especially on weekends) from people wanting some advice. This time, a person named Alisa told me about how cops keep hanging out outside the “gaijin guesthouses” of Sakura House (http://www.sakura-house.com) essentially to snare foreigners (this is not the first time I’ve heard about this, by the way):

======== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
Anyway this morning I was stopped by three men in black jackets (windbreakers) and one of them flashed me a badge. They asked me if I had my “card”. Even though I had read your article, I was running late for work and was extremely frazzled at being approached like that. I could feel my Japanese fumbling but did manage to ask “nan de desuka?”. They told me that they had heard that some sakura house people had overstayed their visa and were “just checking”. They went to far as to ask my room number and whether I lived alone. They made double sure to check the address on the back of my card and sent me on my way. I was very insulted and humiliated at being stopped like that…
======== EXCERPT ENDS ===================
Entire email at http://www.debito.org/?p=86

Alisa even took the trouble to print up copies of the law regarding these instant checkpoints for the benefit of fellow residents
(see http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#gaijincard)
and to contact Sakura House about the harassment.

Well, let the hand-washing preclude any hand-wringing. Response from Sakura House:

======== SAKURA HOUSE RESPONSE BEGINS ===============
Dear Ms. Alisa West
Thank you very much for your staying at Sakura House.

In fact, Japanese police officer or imigration [sic] officer has a right to check your passport, visa status and alien registration card. If they ask you to show your passport, you have to show it to them. This is a leagal [sic] action. They do that kind of inspection without informing.

With best regards,
Takuya Takahashi
======== SAKURA HOUSE RESPONSE ENDS ===============

Pity Mr Takahashi doesn’t know the law better. It’s not quite that simple. So much for helping out his renters.

As I’m sure I’ll get nitpickers with short memories or attention spans thinking this is much ado, a few reminders from the record accumulating on debito.org:

Re the developing tendency towards racial profiling in Japan:
“Here comes the fear: Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents”
Japan Times May 24, 2005
http://www.debito.org/japantimes052405.html

“Justice system flawed by presumed guilt
Rights advocates slam interrogation without counsel, long detentions”
The Japan Times: Oct. 13, 2005
http://www.debito.org/japantimes102305detentions.html

An excellent summary from the Japan Times on what’s wrong with Japan’s criminal justice system: presumption of guilt, extreme police powers of detention, jurisprudential incentives for using them, lack of transparency, records or accountability during investigation, and a successful outcome of a case hinging on arrest and conviction, not necessarily on proving guilt or innocence. This has long since reached an extreme: almost anything that goes to trial in a Japanese criminal court results in a conviction.

Point: You do not want to get on the wrong side of the Japanese police, although riding a bicycle, walking outside, renting an apartment etc. while foreign seems more and more to incur police involvement.

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3) UPDATE ON KITAKYUSHU EXCLUSIONARY RESTAURANT

At the beginning of this month, I told you about a restaurant in Kitakyushu which refuses service to foreigners. I was tipped off by a victim at a JALT national conference, and sure enough, I too was initially refused service as well. More details at http://www.debito.org/?p=69

Well, after sending letters on November 9 to the Kitakyushu Mayor, the tourism board, the local Bureau of Human Rights, the local newspaper, and JALT Central, I am pleased to report that I have had official responses.

The City International Affairs Desk (kokusai kouryuu bu) called me on November 20 to tell me that they had called the restaurant in question and straightened things out. No longer, they were assured, would foreigners be refused there.

The Bureau of Human Rights also called me on November 19 to get some more facts of the case. They would also be looking into them. “Go give them some keihatsu,” I urged them. They said they would.

Now, all we need is a letter from the Mayor’s Office and/or from JALT Central and we have a hat trick. I appreciate the concern given this matter (I have known many Bureaus of Human Rights, such as Sapporo’s, which couldn’t give a damn–even if it’s something as clearly discriminatory as the Otaru Onsens Case). Probably should write this up as a website later on to give people templates on how to work through administrative channels to deal with discrimination. Sure would help if we had a law against this sort of thing, though…

On that note:

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4) JAPAN TIMES ON TOURISM PROMOTION, WITH LETTER TO THE EDITOR

On November 10, Kyodo reported that Japan is going to add to Koizumi’s “Yokoso Japan” campaign to bring over more tourists from Europe:

======== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
Staff at the Japan National Tourist Organization are also hoping to attract spa-lovers by promoting Japanユs many “onsen” (hot springs) and Buddhist retreats.

The campaign “Cool Japan–Fusion with Tradition” officially kicked off at this week’s World Travel Market in London, an annual trade fair that attracts more than 5,000 exhibitors. This year, 202 countries will be there.

The latest promotion follows the successful “Visit Japan Campaign” in Europe in 2003, which helped boost number of tourists traveling to Japan. Britain currently sends the most visitors to Japan from Europe, followed by Germany and France.

As part of the “Cool Japan” campaign, staff are sending out brochures on “manga” (comic books) and animation-related attractions, along with information on Japan’s cutting-edge architectural sights…

This year, representatives from a ryokan are on hand to advise travel agents and tour operators on how to promote traditional forms of leisure. Many Europeans do not think of Japan as place to relax and staff at JNTO are keen to change that.
======== EXCERPT ENDS ===================
Rest of the article at http://www.debito.org/?p=87

That’s fine. But as a friend of mine pointed out in a letter he got published in the Japan Times:

============== LETTER BEGINS ====================
Obstacle to increased tourism
By HIDESATO SAKAKIBARA, Jamaica, New York
The Japan Times, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/rc20061119a6.html

Regarding the Nov 10 article “Japan works on a makeover to attract more Europeans”:

While it is admirable to see the the Japan National Tourist Organization making efforts to draw more foreign tourists, our government officials are omitting one important thing–the promulgation of a law making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race or nationality.

The article states that JNTO staff are “hoping to attract spa-lovers by promoting Japanユs many onsens (hot springs) and Buddhist retreats.” But what about the many onsen that refuse entry to those who don’t look Japanese (including Japanese citizens)? What impression will “young tourists” get when they seek to enter discriminatory bars, hotels, discos, pubs (izakaya) and other spots only to be greeted with the words “Japanese Only?”
============== LETTER ENDS =====================

Well done. We need more people pointing out this fact as often as possible. I keep on doing it, but I say it so often (and alone) that to some I probably sound like a health warning on a cigarette box. If others say it as well, it makes the message come from more quarters, and increases credibility (i.e. I’m not just a lonely voice in the wilderness).

I encourage everyone to keep pointing out the elephant in the room thusly. Thanks for doing so, Hidesato.

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5) TBS: FUJIWARA NORIKA BUMPS ARUDOU DEBITO

No, it’s not what you might think. I reported last newsletter that TBS noontime program “Pinpon” would be doing a segment on Nov 18, regarding Internet BBS and frequent host of libel “2-Channel” (http://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html). Thought the issue had reached a saturation point. Hell, they even flew up a producer and hired a camera crew on a moment’s notice all the way up to Sapporo just for an interview.

Well, guess what–the story got bumped for extended segments on Clint Eastwood’s new movie on Iwo Jima and supermodel Fujiwara Norika’s on-again/off-again engagement to some dork, er, nice guy.

Anyhoo, I called up the producer again ten days later. She says that the network wants a response from 2-Channel’s Administrator Defendant Nishimura Hiroyuki before airing. They’re still waiting for a response, unsurprisingly.

Ah well, that’s it then. Nishimura communicates with the press only by blog, as a recent story in AERA (http://www.debito.org/?p=48) indicates. He’s not going to make a TV appearance on this.

Meanwhile, the story cools, by design. S o might as well assume the TV spot is cancelled. Sigh. Sorry to inflict lunchtime TV on you, everyone.

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6) KYODO: MOCK JURY TRIAL SPRINGS FOREIGN MANSLAUGHTERER

This was sent to me by a reporter friend which caused bewilderment in both him and me.

Japan will be reinstituting trial by jury (they had it before between 1928 and 1943, according to Wikipedia entry for 陪審制) in 2009. This will be for criminal cases, and there will be six laypeople and three judges on the jury (given the GOJ’s nannying instincts, you can’t trust the people with too much power, after all).

Kyodo reported extensively on Nov 23 about a mock trial to test the system. But what an intriguing test case to use:

======== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
Citizen judges on Thursday came out with a mixed verdict on a Briton, who was indicted for bodily injury resulting in death, at a mock trial in Osaka.

Paul Lennon, 36-year-old English teacher, stood trial at the mimic court, sponsored by the Osaka Bar Association, on the assumption that he kicked a Japanese man because he thought the man had assaulted a woman, although the man was just caring for his drunken girlfriend. The man died after falling down on a street and hitting his head…

Some citizen judges argued the defendant’s act was excessive as he should have realized its danger as a karate master, while others said it was not excessive, based on testimony of the witness that the victim collapsed dizzily, arguing that he would have fallen fast if the karate grade-holder had kicked him hard.

While the citizen judges did not reach a consensus, Takashi Maruta, a professor at Kwansei Gakuin University law school, said after observing the conference, “The mock trial showed ordinary citizens can develop reasonable and persuasive debates.”
======== EXCERPT ENDS ===================
Rest of the article at http://www.debito.org/?p=83

I don’t know what the Osaka Bar Association is anticipating by putting a foreigner on mock trial like this, but there you have it. My reporter friend writes:

“Not sure what to make of this. Should I be disappointed that they chose a foreigner as the defendant in their mock trial or pleased that the jury didn’t necessarily lock him up and throw away the key just because he wasn’t Japanese?”

Quite. A real head scratcher. Anyway, what odd things make the news. With all the events jockeying for your attention, why so much space devoted to this highly-contrived fake court case? And I fail to see how this is any harbinger of the future of Japanユs upcoming jury system. Surely they could have come up with a more average case to test a jury with?

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7) JALT PALE ROUNDTABLE ON ACADEMIC EMPLOYMENT

I mentioned the JALT meeting above. Our interest group PALE (http://www.debito.org/PALE) held a roundtable on Nov 3 to discuss future employment issues in Japan’s academia. Panelists were Jonathan Britten, Michael “Rube” Redfield, Pat O’Brien, Evan Heimlich, and Ivan Hall. Introduction to a collation I made of the event:

======== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
Continuing the Roundtable forum that packed the hall at JALT 2005, five PALE members paneled a meeting to discuss a variety of issues relevant to the conference’s theme of “Community, Identity, and Motivation”. All presentations touched in some way upon employment issues, including issues of job security, union representation, the relationship of nationality to job description and employment terms, and the growing role of dispatch teaching arrangements in Japanese universities. They dealt explicitly or implicitly with the proper roles and responsibilities of PALE and JALT in managing these issues.
======== EXCERPT ENDS ===================
Full writeup at http://www.debito.org/?p=80

and finally…

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8) WASH POST: GOJ CREATING SUSHI POLICE FOR OVERSEAS J FOOD

This article is making the rounds of the communities out there (at least three people have sent me the link), so I’ll forward this on to fill the gaps.

Yes, the Japanese Government will be establishing a bonafide committee to police the quality and authenticity of Japanese food restaurants overseas.

======== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
TOKYO – On a recent business trip to Colorado, Japan’s agriculture minister popped into an inviting Japanese restaurant with a hankering for a taste of back home. What Toshikatsu Matsuoka found instead was something he considered a high culinary crime–sushi served on the same menu as Korean-style barbecued beef.

“Such a thing is unthinkable,” he said. “Call it what you will, but it is not a Japanese restaurant.”

A fast-growing list of gastronomic indignities–from sham sake in Paris to shoddy sashimi in Bangkok–has prompted Japanese authorities to launch a counterattack in defense of this nation’s celebrated food culture. With restaurants around the globe describing themselves as Japanese while actually serving food that is Asian fusion, or just plain bad, the government here announced a plan this month to offer official seals of approval to overseas eateries deemed to be “pure Japanese.”…

A trial run of sorts was launched this summer in France, where secret inspectors selected by a panel of food specialists were dispatched to 80 restaurants in Paris that claimed to serve Japanese cuisine. Some establishments invited the scrutiny, while others were targeted with surprise checks. About one-third fell short of standards–making them ineligible to display an official seal emblazoned with cherry blossoms in their windows or to be listed on a government-sponsored Web site of Japanese restaurants in Paris.
======== EXCERPT ENDS ===================
Rest of the article at http://www.debito.org/?p=84

I think you can imagine where I’ll be going with my comment on this, but anyway:

Certification as “real” and “pure Japanese”, hmmm? Sort of like the beauty contests in the Japanese community in Hawaii I read about a decade ago open only to people with “pure Japanese blood”?

Anyway, I know Japan is a nation of foodies, but fighting against overseas restaurants tendency towards “fusion food”? Especially since, as the article notes, so much of Japanese food is from overseas, anyway? Tenpura, castella, fried chicken (“zangi” where I come from), even ramen!

And what if J restaurants innovate, and want to offer something from another country on the menu (such a Chinese or a Vietnamese dish)? Will it have to be offered in J restaurants first in Japan before it can be offered in J restaurants overseas as “authentic Japanese cuisine”? Silly, silly, silly.

This culinary Balkanization seems to be yet another way to give some retired OBs some work after retirement. What better way than for them to take money from either the restaurants or the J taxpayer than by offering the good ol’ “certifications”?

Anyway, food for thought. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

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That’ll do it for this newsletter. Thanks for reading.

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOV 27 2006 ENDS

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