DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 11, 2011

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IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hello Debito.org Newsletter Readers. It’s been awhile (about two months), and a lot of blog entries have piled up over the past two months. Sorry. Let me send you two Newsletters in quick succession over the next few days. Arudou Debito

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 11, 2011

Table of Contents:
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TOPICS OF PERSONAL INTEREST
1) Warning to Debito.org Commenters about being cyber-stalked; don’t use your real name as moniker anymore
2) Post #2000! Special Discussion: Making “friends” in Japan, successfully?
3) FCCJ Book Break evening June 28 for my book IN APPROPRIATE in Yurakucho, Tokyo. Let me know if you want to go.
4) Review of IN APPROPRIATE and interview at JETAA-NY’s Examiner.com
5) IN APPROPRIATE now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble
6) Donald Keene to naturalize, in a show of solidarity with the Japanese people, at age 88
7) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST MAY 7, 2011: Speech at Otaru Shoudai Dec 5, 2011: “The Otaru Onsens Case, Ten Years On”
8 ) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JUNE 1, 2011

AFTERSHOCKS OF 3/11
9) Columnist Dan Gardner: “Why Japan took the nuclear risk”: Quick-fix energy during 1973-4 Oil Shocks
10) Kansai Time Out Feb ’08 on “Power and the People: Masaki Hisane keeps watch on Japan’s nuclear industry”
11) AFP: Japan tells tourists says ‘it’s safe’ to come back, with budgets to dispel “public misperceptions about the effects of the nuclear disaster”
12) Ekonomisuto gives better articles on effects of both NJ leaving Japan and tourists avoiding Japan
13) Nikkei reports on the effect of “nihon saru gaikokujin”, aka Fly-jin, with some pretty shaky journalistic practices
14) Mainichi: “Industries left short-handed after NJ workers flee Japan following nuke accident”
15) Zakzak headlines that NJ part-time staff flee Yoshinoya restaurant chain, and somehow threaten its profitability
16) JT/Kyodo: NJ key to Japan’s recovery, says Iokibe Makoto, chair of GOJ Reconstruction Design Council. Well, fancy that.
17) Nikkei Business magazine special (May 2, 2011) on the future and necessity of NJ labor to Japan
18) Sankei: MOJ proposes easier visas for importing “higher quality” NJ labor; neglects to offer NJ stronger civil or labor rights
19) Christopher Dillon, author of “LANDED: The Guide to Buying Property in Japan”, on earthquake insurance in Japan
20) Mainichi: “American teacher in Sendai stays in Japan to help with volunteer efforts”
21) Mainichi: “Many foreign residents wish to stay in Japan despite disaster: survey”
22) Tangent: “Foreigners Looking to Adopt Japanese Earthquake Orphans Need Not Apply”

… and finally …
23) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 39: “Better to be branded a ‘flyjin’ than a man of the ‘sheeple'” (May 3, 2011)
(This is a culmination of all the articles cited above.)
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By Arudou Debito
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter arudoudebito
Freely Forwardable

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TOPICS OF PERSONAL INTEREST

1) Warning to Debito.org Commenters about being cyber-stalked; don’t use your real name as moniker anymore

Anonymous Debito.org Reader: Hi Debito, I just wanted to let you know that last week on ‘tepido naruhodos’ page, I saw a thread that included a large amount of communication between some posters about the posters on debito.org. They were discussing that of that date they had collectively identified 63 debito posters through e-mail addresses and social media sites.

I don’t know if you were aware of this, or if it was brought to your attention. The posts on that subject disappeared at some point around the weekend. Quite frankly, I think that they are a strange bunch. I think tepido naruhodo/Ken YN/LB lives in my area, but I can’t identify and confront him on this issue.

I don’t know if you might want to warn your readers that they might be stalked, or if you have ideas for other action.

COMMENT: I have been cyberstalked by these creeps (and others; there is even a site devoted to the possibility of my being Jewish merely because I’m an activist) for many years now. And I am sorry that these creeps are now trying to use the same tactics towards other posters on this site. How vicious. And hypocritical. These creeps decry their lack of freedom of speech on this blog (I no longer approve their posts here; one look at the tone and commentary on the Tepido et.al sites will give you an indication why), yet are taking action not only against me, but also against others who express themselves here, just because they don’t agree with Debito.org Readers or with me personally.

I’m no certified mental health specialist, but I would say that these anonymous creeps (who remain mostly anonymous, of course, to evade any semblance of responsibility or maturity) have an unhealthy obsession with me personally and the issues on this site. Makes one wonder if they devote any time to having a real life away from the keyboard.

I suggest that Debito.org Readers, when you post, from now on avoid using your real name. Choose a unique moniker and stick with it. Protect yourself from the shite I have to deal with on a daily basis.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8979

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2) Post #2000! Special Discussion: Making “friends” in Japan, successfully?

To commemorate May 15, Debito.org’s 2000th blog post since 2006 (yes, it’s been almost five years since Debito.org went daily as a blog), I would like to devote the next day or two to an important discussion regarding assimilation.

I got together with some old friends for beers some time ago (we do this whenever I’m in town), who all together have a combined tenure of more than a century of experiences living in Japan. We’re all English-native Caucasian males, for what it’s worth.

Our conversation suddenly took an interesting turn when one of our group asked a poignant question:

“How many of us have any Japanese friends with whom we can get together like this and talk as much in depth?”

There was a long pause, and we all realized, when it came to Japanese males, the answer was zero. Yes, zero.

We all said we had made Japanese female friends (we are guys, after all), finding J-women more curious and open-minded than their male counterparts (and that included relationships that weren’t all physical).

But not Japanese men.

Several theories abounded…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8933

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3) FCCJ Book Break evening June 28 for my book IN APPROPRIATE in Yurakucho, Tokyo. Let me know if you want to go.

FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS CLUB OF JAPAN (FCCJ)
Book Break

“IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan”
By ARUDOU Debito

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 from 6.15 pm to 8.30 pm
FCCJ, Yurakucho, Tokyo (directions via www.fccj.or.jp)
(The speech and Q & A will be in English)

If you would like to attend and are not a FCCJ member, please let me know via debito@debito.org (please put “Invitation to FCCJ Book Break” in subject line) and I will add you to the guest list. (Please be absolutely sure you can attend, because I have to pay for any no-shows out of my own pocket). Thanks.

http://www.debito.org/?p=9072

More on IN APPROPRIATE at http://www.debito.org/inappropriate.html

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4) Review of IN APPROPRIATE and interview at JETAA-NY’s Examiner.com

Examiner.com: Divorce is tough, but divorce in Japan — especially if you’re a foreigner with kids — is a nightmare, explains Sapporo-based author Arudou Debito in his new book, “In Appropriate: A Novel of Culture, Kidnapping, and Revenge in Modern Japan”.

Originally raised in rural upstate New York as David Aldwinckle, Debito is a 23-year resident of Japan who obtained Japanese citizenship (and a name change) in 2000. As the Just Be Cause columnist at The Japan Times newspaper, his nonfiction books include Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants, and Japanese Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan.

A longtime watchdog for foreigners’ rights in Japan, Debito’s first English-language novel takes a scalpel to the polite, friendly facade that tourists typically experience. In Appropriate examines the downright ugly aspects of Japanese life when a father is cut from all ties with his children post-divorce, which is not only common in Japan, but upheld by 19th century law. In this exclusive interview, Debito discusses his personal experiences that inspired the book, his history as an activist, and his thoughts on the future of Japan.

Q: You’ve been known as an activist for over a decade and have published non-fiction works on the subject. What inspired you to write about child abduction in Japan, and what were your goals?

DEBITO: My goal with In Appropriate was to expose a dire social problem, as usual. But this time I thought fiction would be the better medium. Doing what I do, I hear a lot of stories about broken marriages in Japan, and having gone through a nasty divorce myself (seeing my children only about six times since 2003), I know a little bit about child abduction. What goes on in Japan beggars belief, but it’s hard to zero in on one non-fiction case and expect it to cover the scope of the problem.

Although international child abductions in other countries have gotten some press, the situation in Japan is much, much worse. Child abductions and parental alienation in Japan are, in a word, systematic — meaning they are hardly uncommon between Japanese, too (former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi is a famous example; he never saw one of his sons for nearly two decades). One parent after a divorce is generally expected to disappear, and have little to no contact with the children anymore. In Appropriate was meant as a primer to the issue.

Japan has no system of joint custody or guaranteed visitation rights, and under this system I cannot recommend anyone, Japanese or non-Japanese (NJ), get married under it and consider having children. The risk is too great. We need fundamental reform of the Family Registry System and the laws governing divorce and child custody first.

Q: Give us a basic overview on the phenomenon of kidnapping and left-behind parents in Japan…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8865

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5) IN APPROPRIATE now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

http://www.amazon.com/Appropriate-culture-kidnapping-revenge-modern/dp/1257026402/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1307193366&sr=8-2

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-appropriate-arudou-debito/1031214600?ean=9781257026401&itm=1&usri=arudou%2bdebito

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6) Donald Keene to naturalize, in a show of solidarity with the Japanese people, at age 88

Octogenarian scholar and Japan specialist Donald Keene has announced his intention to become a Japanese citizen, and move to Japan in light of the Tohoku Disasters. Well, good for him.

Submitter JK notes, “While I respect Keene’s accomplishments as an academic, I can’t help but feel that his writings are a reflection of a person inhabiting a self-constructed bubble Japan whose universe is made up of haiku masters, poets, and scholars.” There are also a few comments on Japan Probe that make light of his (in)decision given his advanced age.

A bit harsh, but I do find the logic — of linking a show of solidarity in the face of a crisis with a decision as personal as changing one’s nationality (and in Japan’s case, abrogating one’s former nationality) — a bit discomfiting. As per Keene’s comments below, he’s basically falling into the ancient bad habit (a la Lafcadio Hearn’s day) of treating the Japanese people as monolithic. Plus he won’t have to live quite as long with his (last-minute) decision compared to younger people who really plighted their troth here and naturalized. A nice, but oddly-reasoned, gesture on Keene’s part.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8824

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7) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST MAY 7, 2011: Speech at Otaru Shoudai Dec 5, 2011: “The Otaru Onsens Case, Ten Years On”

This month’s offering is a recording of one of my speeches given in English last December at Otaru University of Commerce, Hokkaido, Japan, sponsored by Dr. Shawn Clankie. Q&A included. It’s my standard presentation on the Otaru Onsens Case with some updates (especially given that the site of the famous standoffs with “Japanese Only” bathhouses took place in this very town) on how things have or have not changed.

Two hours 20 minutes (yes, I can speak for that long, and people seem to listen). No cuts. Enjoy. You can also watch it as a youtube video with my powerpoint presentation from here.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8884

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8 ) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JUNE 1, 2011

In this podcast:

1. Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 20, “Savoie Case shines spotlight on Japan’s ‘disappeared dads'”. (October 6, 2009)
2. Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 21, “Demography vs. Demagoguery”, on how politics has pervaded Japanese demographic science, making the topic of “immigration” taboo for discussion as an option. (November 3, 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: “Before The Rain”.

http://www.debito.org/?p=9041

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AFTERSHOCKS OF 3/11

9) Columnist Dan Gardner: “Why Japan took the nuclear risk”: Quick-fix energy during 1973-4 Oil Shocks

Gardner: The Japanese government undertook a rapid expansion of nuclear power after the oil shocks of the early 1970s to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign energy, despite the high earthquake risk in the region…

Why risk it? Why should we build and operate nuclear power plants knowing that they do pose real dangers, whatever the magnitude of those dangers may be? And why, in particular, would Japan build nuclear power plants on land that so often buckles and heaves?…

The Japanese miracle was built on a foundation of cheap energy -mostly oil, mostly from the Middle East. The oil embargo of late 1973 plunged the world into the frightening recession of 1974, and no one suffered worse than Japan.

“The recent period of Japanese glory, from 1969 to 1973, when it seemed a small, distant country would overtake the giants of the West, lasted longer than a dream, but it has ended with dramatic suddenness,” wrote Donald Keene, an American professor of Japanese culture, in the New York Times. It was March 3, 1974. “The same people who only a few months ago were talking and acting as if the future held unlimited possibilities of economic expansion now gloomily announce, not without a touch of masochism, that they live in a country completely at the mercy of others for survival.”

Many Japanese were sure their country would sink back into poverty. The old fears of mass starvation and environmental ruin returned. “Prophecies of disaster abound,” Keene noted.

The Japanese government responded with a sweeping, multi-pronged campaign to reduce Japan’s dependency on Middle Eastern oil. Conservation and energy-efficiency was a major component. So was a rapid expansion of nuclear power.

Of course the Japanese knew their seismological reality. Indeed, Japanese earthquake science and engineering is the best in the world. But the Japanese also knew the danger of the status quo. It was a trade-off…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8708

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10) Kansai Time Out Feb ’08 on “Power and the People: Masaki Hisane keeps watch on Japan’s nuclear industry”

Masaki Hisane offers this sobering report in the now-defunct Kansai Time Out, February 2008, in an article on the horrible safety record of Japan’s nuclear power industry. Reprinted here as a matter of record only, since it the KTO archives seem to have disappeared. FYI

http://www.debito.org/?p=8853

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11) AFP: Japan tells tourists says ‘it’s safe’ to come back, with budgets to dispel “public misperceptions about the effects of the nuclear disaster”

AFP May 19: Japanese business leaders launched a campaign Thursday to woo tourists back to Japan after the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that sent foreigners fleeing the country.

“I would like to say: Japan is safe,” said Atsutoshi Nishida, the chairman of Toshiba, told a high-powered gathering of travel and tourism executives and officials from around the world.

Accepting the group’s invitation to host the next Global Travel and Tourism Summit in Tokyo in April 2012, Nishida said he hoped to welcome participants to a Japan at “full strength” by then.

International travel to and from Japan plunged after the 9.0 magnitude quake March 11 off Sendai, Japan that sent a tsunami surging through nuclear power complexes along the coast, magnifying a disaster that killed 15,000 people. While tourism represents only a small part of economy impacted, it is an important bellwether of confidence in Japan.

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, the number of tourists arriving in the country dropped by more than 50 percent, and leisure travel collapsed by 90 percent, according to the Japanese Tourism Agency…

Japanese officials said their campaign to bring back tourism will begin with education campaigns to dispell what they say are public misperceptions about the effects of the nuclear disaster. Only later will they proceed to ad campaigns and the like to get tourists to come back, they said…

Nishida contended it was misleading to put the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear complex on a par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, telling reporters the release of radiation in that meltdown “dwarfed” the amounts released in Japan.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8974

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12) Ekonomisuto gives better articles on effects of both NJ leaving Japan and tourists avoiding Japan

The Ekonomisuto Weekly of March 26, 2011, devotes three pages to the effects of the Fukushima Disasters on both Japan’s tourism/export and NJ labor markets. In the vein of how Japanese media coverage has been unsympathetic, even critical, of NJ leaving Japan, page three is of particular note. It offers harder numbers of NJ departures (although again with no comparison with Japanese movement), does not stoop to a tone of blame, and even accepts that NJ have a choice to work in other countries, so Japan had better take some measures to make itself more attractive to NJ labor or else. That’s more like it.

I have long found the policymaking attitude of “working in Japan should be its own reward, so we needn’t try to make things more hospitable for foreign labor” puzzling, so this article is refreshing. I’ll be dealing with that attitude in part in my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column, to be published in the Tuesday, May 3 edition of the JT. Enjoy.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8836

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13) Nikkei reports on the effect of “nihon saru gaikokujin”, aka Fly-jin, with some pretty shaky journalistic practices

Here’s yet another article from a more reputable source, the Nihon Keizai Shinbun, talking about the phenomenon of NJ allegedly leaving Japan behind and having an adverse effect on Japan’s economy.

For the record, I don’t doubt that NJ have left Japan due to the Tohoku Disasters. I just have my doubts that a) it’s any more significant than the Japanese who also left, yet get less nasty media coverage (I have yet to see an article comparing both J and NJ “flight” in terms of numbers), b) it’s worth blaming NJ for leaving, since Japanese overseas would probably do much the same if advised to do so by their government in the face of a disaster, and c) the media is actually doing their job investigating sources to nail down the exact statistics. Let’s see how the Nikkei does below: Some bogus journalistic practices unbecoming of something as trusted as the Nikkei, to wit:

Providing a generic photo of people drinking at a Tokyo izakaya and claiming that they’re talking about repatriating NJ (that’s quite simply yarase).

Providing a chart of annual numbers (where the total numbers of NJ dropped in 2009 in part due to the GOJ bribing unemployed Brazilian workers to leave), which is unrelated to the Tohoku Disasters.

Relying on piecemeal sources (cobbling numbers together from Xinhua, some part-timer food chains, an eikaiwa, a prefectural employment agency for “Trainee” slave labor, and other pinpoint sources) that do not necessarily add up to a trend or a total.

Finishing their sentences with the great linguistic hedgers, extrapolators, and speculators (in place of harder sources), including “…to mirareru”, “…sou da”, “there are cases of…” etc. All are great indicators that the article is running on fumes in terms of data.

Portraying Japanese companies as victimized by deserting NJ workers, rather than observing that NJ thus far, to say the least, have helped Japan avoid its labor shortage (how about a more positive, grateful tone towards NJ labor?, is what I’m asking for).

And as always, not comparing their numbers with numbers of Japanese exiting. Although the article avoids the more hectoring tone of other sources I’ve listed on Debito.org, it still makes it seems like the putative Great Flyjin Exodus is leaving Japan high and dry. No mention of course in the article of how many of these NJ might also be leaving Japan because they have no stake in it, i.e. are stuck in a dead-end or part-time job with no hope of promotion, advancement, or leadership within their corporate sector.

Once again, it’s pretty flawed social science. The Nikkei could, and should, do better, and if even the Nikkei of all media venues can’t, that says something bad about Japanese journalism when dealing with ethnic issues. Read the article for yourself.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8806

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14) Mainichi: “Industries left short-handed after NJ workers flee Japan following nuke accident”

Here’s another article tying together more pinpoint data of NJ leaving Japan, with a focus on Chinese. Spare a tear for those poor, poor Japanese industries who took advantage of so many cheap temporary NJ workers, and are now crying because the NJ aren’t sticking around to be potentially irradiated as well as exploited:

Mainichi: Tens of thousands of worried foreign workers left Japan shortly after a crisis at the nuclear power plant that was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, causing serious labor shortages in some industries.

After foreign governments lifted their temporary evacuation advisories issued in the wake of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, many Americans and Europeans started coming back to Japan, albeit gradually. But workers from neighboring countries such as China have yet to do so.

Chinese people in particular — mostly students and trainees — had occupied key parts of the workforce in many Japanese industries, and therefore if they continue to stay out of Japan for an extended period of time, they could have a grave impact on the industries and force firms to review their business strategies or cut production.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8830

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15) Zakzak headlines that NJ part-time staff flee Yoshinoya restaurant chain, and somehow threaten its profitability

More on the Open Season on NJ. Here is Internet news site Zakzak headlining that Yoshinoya, famous beef bowl chain restaurant, is being affected by the “big-volume escaping of NJ part-timers”. It apparently has lost a quarter of its NJ staff (over 800 souls) fleeing from the fears of radiation from the Tohoku Disasters. Then Zakzak gives us the mixed news that Yoshinoya is still profitable compared to its losses the same period a year ago, but is expected to take a hit to its profits from the Disasters.

Not sure how that relates, but again, the headline is that NJ are fleeing and that it’s raising doubts about whether the company is still “okay”. Even though Zakzak notes that the company is filling in the gaps with Japanese employees (er, so no worries, right? The Disasters, not the alleged NJ flight, are the bigger threat to solvency, no?). So… journalistically, we’ll hang the newsworthiness of a company’s profitability on the peg of “escaping NJ”?

If we’re going to have this much NJ bashing, how about an acknowledgement of how much NJ labor has meant to Japan and how we’re thankful for it, so please don’t leave?

Nah, easier to bash them. Takes the heat off the company for their own variably profitable business practices, and creates more attractive headlines for the media. It’s a win-win situation against the bullied and disenfranchised minority.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8804

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16) JT/Kyodo: NJ key to Japan’s recovery, says Iokibe Makoto, chair of GOJ Reconstruction Design Council. Well, fancy that.

Get a load of this:

Kyodo:  Large numbers of foreigners will be needed to help revive the farming and fishery industries in areas damaged by the March 11 mega-quake and tsunami, the head of a reconstruction panel said Friday.

“It is important to draw human resources, including permanent foreign residents” to the hard-hit Tohoku region, Makoto Iokibe, chair of the Reconstruction Design Council, said at the Japan National Press Club.”

COMMENT: As submitter CJ commented: “What foreigner WOULDN’T leap at the opportunity to perform manual labor all day bathed in background radiation while being treated like a potential criminal and expected to leave when no longer needed, sacrificing pension contributions in the course of doing so?”

Touche. Especially since day laborers are now a hot commodity for hot radioactive reactor cleanups, see below. Get freshly-imported foreign workers doing this instead and you’ll have no family in Japan complaining…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8930

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17) Nikkei Business magazine special (May 2, 2011) on the future and necessity of NJ labor to Japan

here is an excellent series of articles on how important NJ labor has been and will be to Japan’s future. Eighteen pages on the whos, whats, and why-you-should-cares in the Nikkei Business magazine dated May 2, 2011.

After the cover (Title: Kieta Gaikokujin Roudou Ryoku: Nihonjin dake de shokuba o mamoreru ka, or “Disappeared NJ Labor Force: Can Japanese maintain the workplaces by themselves?”) and table of contents, we open with a splash page showing Chinese waiting for their bags at the airport carousel after returning to China.

Pages 20 through 23 give us an assessment of NJ labor in several business sectors: Restaurants, Textiles, Finance, Convenience Stores, Agriculture, IT, Education, Tourism, and Airflight, headlining that the NJ labor force has “evaporated”.

Pages 24 and 25 give us the raw data, noting that the majority of NJ (55%) work in small companies of less than 100 employees, and that the near majority of NJ laborers (44%) are Chinese. The point is that “a closed Japanese labor market is impossible”.

Pages 26 and 27 give us a close up about a farm that lost none of its workers, and even asked (for a change, given the Japanese media) what NJ thought. It was all part of the magazine’s suggestions about what should be done to improve things and give NJ a stake: Accountability, Bonds, Careers, and recognizing Diversity. Even offered suggestions about how to simplify Japanese.

Pages 27 and 28 are the “money shot”, where the article says most of the things that we have said all along here on Debito.org and in my Japan Times articles: You can’t keep on using people as simple throwaway labor and expect them to stay, and you can’t keep doing things like bribe people to go back (as was done with the Nikkei in 2009) or make hurdles too high to get over (as is being done with NJ nurses) and expect a sustainable labor force.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8945

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18) Sankei: MOJ proposes easier visas for importing “higher quality” NJ labor; neglects to offer NJ stronger civil or labor rights

The Sankei reports on May 25 that the Ministry of Justice will be loosening some of its strictures on NJ visas (the Sankei uses the word nohouzu in its headline; I’m not 100% sure of the nuance but it sounds like “a wild and endless expansion of favorable treatment regarding NJ entry visas”; rather snotty, but that’s the Sankei for ya).

The new Immigration policy is directed at NJ with very high skills (koudo jinzai — a good idea) and their families (who will also be allowed to work; wow, that’s a change!), will have a points system for evaluation (another good idea), will offer longer visa periods (5 years), and will loosen the specificity between work visas. It’s being touted as a means to make Japan more appealing to NJ labor (you had better!).

Sounds like a step in the right direction. But it’s still … What’s missing is GOJ guaranteeing some degree of protection of labor and civil rights after NJ get here. And what about qualifications? Just try practicing law, medicine, or most other licensed skills in Japan now without going through the rigmarole of domestic certification, with walls so high (cf. the NJ nurses from Indonesia and The Philippines over the past few years) that almost all NJ applicants fail (and, magically, have to return home as usual after three years, just like any other revolving-door “Trainee” or “Researcher” NJ laborer).

This isn’t the first time a points system etc. has been floated (only to die the death of a thousand meddling bureaucrats) either. I guess the mandarins are realizing what a fix Japan is in without NJ labor. But if this kind of policy is going to happen at all, the almighty MOJ has to be the one proposing it. Then perhaps the waters will part for Moses. Let’s wait and see.

But this is on balance “good” news. But not “great” news unless the GOJ also does something to force domestic actors to treat NJ nicely. Which is doubtful.

http://www.debito.org/?p=9004

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19) Christopher Dillon, author of “LANDED: The Guide to Buying Property in Japan”, on earthquake insurance in Japan

Forwarding from Christopher Dillon, author of “LANDED: The Guide to Buying Property in Japan”, which Debito.org recommended a year ago:

“Hi Debito, If your readers are interested in learning about the Japanese earthquake insurance system, I’ve put the insurance chapter of my book on-line here: http://dilloncommunications.com/blog/?p=2113

I’ve also included links to related information in English and Japanese. Stay safe, and congratulations on book IN APPROPRIATE.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=8665

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20) Mainichi: “American teacher in Sendai stays in Japan to help with volunteer efforts”

Mainichi: With the nuclear plant crisis and continuing aftershocks, many foreign assistant English teachers have left Japan to return to their home countries, but one assistant language teacher (ALT) here chose to stay behind and do what he could for volunteer efforts.

Greg Lekich, 31, is an American ALT who teaches English at a high school in Sendai. Together with around 10 others, he has been doing volunteer work such as shoveling mud and helping clean people’s debris-filled houses. He says that he has many friends and students he has taught in Japan, and has grown used to where he lives now. He says he does not have plans to leave the country any time soon.

Lekich was born in Philadelphia. He spent a year of college learning Japanese and came to the country in 2004. After teaching English in Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture, and other locations, he started work as an ALT at Miyagi Hirose High School and Miyagiken Technical High School from 2007.

When the earthquake struck on March 11, Lekich was in the teacher’s room at Miyagi Hirose High School. It was his first experience of a large earthquake. Following the instructions of the school staff, he evacuated to the athletic field outside. After walking for three hours to return home, he used the Internet to check on the safety of his foreign friends.

As the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant was added to the list of disasters, many foreigners in Japan began leaving the country. However, Lekich stayed in Sendai. His father, a former nuclear plant safety engineer, told him that under the circumstances, he didn’t think his son needed to worry so much about the radiation. His mother said she was worried, but asked him to do what he thought was right.

Lekich decided to volunteer. Together with other teachers in the prefecture, he made the website “Teachers for Japan,” through which he and the others have posted English videos of the disaster-hit areas and collected money for those orphaned by the quake or tsunami. He also helps with relief work such as cleaning debris in houses three or four days a week in Wakabayashi Ward in Sendai and the cities of Ishinomaki and Tagajo…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8890

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21) Mainichi: “Many foreign residents wish to stay in Japan despite disaster: survey”

Related to the debunkable claims of “Fly-jin” NJ deserting Japan in its time of need, here is an article in the media with a survey of how NJ are actually by-and-large NOT wanting to be “Fly-jin”. Good.

The problem is, it seems (after a short search) that this article has come out in English only — there is no link to the “original Japanese story” like many Mainichi articles have. So this may sadly may not be for domestic consumption. Or it may be available on Kyodo wire services (but again, not in Japanese for Mainichi readers). Sigh.

Mainichi: More than 90 percent of foreigners studying or working in Japan expressed willingness to continue staying in the country despite the March 11 disaster, according to a recent online survey by a supporting group for them.

The International Foreign Students Association conducted the survey between March 22 and 26, to which 392 people responded. Of the respondents, 60 percent were students and the remaining 40 percent were graduates, while more than 90 percent of them were from China, Taiwan and South Korea.

Those who are willing to stay in Japan said, “Because I like Japan,” or “At a time like this, I think I want to work together (with Japanese) to help the recovery,” according to the Tokyo-based nonprofit organization.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8889

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22) Tangent: “Foreigners Looking to Adopt Japanese Earthquake Orphans Need Not Apply”

Faux News: Foreigners looking to adopt a Japanese child orphaned by the recent earthquake may be surprised to know their help, in that respect, is not wanted at the moment.

“I have been receiving many strange emails, from mostly U.S., and was asked, ‘I want girl, less than 6 months old, healthy child,’ Tazuru Ogaway, director of the Japanese adoption agency Across Japan, told FoxNews.com. “I honestly tell you such a kind of emails makes Japanese people very uncomfortable, because for us, sound like someone who are looking for ‘what I want’ from our terrible disaster.”

In the wake of the massive January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, countries around the world almost immediately began fast-tracking adoptions from the troubled country. The United States alone took in 1,090 Haitian children as part of a Special Humanitarian Parole granted immediately following the disaster, according to the State Department’s 2010 Annual Report in Intercountry Adoptions.

But Martha Osborne, spokeswoman for the adoption advocacy website RainbowKids.com, said Japan and Haiti couldn’t be more different when it comes to adoption.

“You see that in developing nations, there’s no outlet for these children and the people left in the wake of the disaster are completely impoverished and unable to care for them, and in that case even extended relatives often say that the best case for the child is to be adopted because there are no resources,” Osborne told FoxNews.com. “But in Japan that’s just not the case, it’s a fully developed nation that’s capable of caring for its own children.”

Osborne said a dwindling population, as well as strong family ties in the country, makes adoption fairly unnecessary, because children who can’t be cared for by their parents are usually taken in by other relatives.

“I don’t believe there’s going to be a true orphan situation in Japan in the wake of this disaster. I do not believe that there are going to be children without any ties to relatives — that extended family system is going to consider that child their child,” she said.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8706

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… and finally …

23) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 39: “Better to be branded a ‘flyjin’ than a man of the ‘sheeple'” (May 3, 2011)

This is a culmination of all the articles cited above:

JBC: The past two months have been uncomfortable for Japan, and for the country’s foreign residents. Non-Japanese (NJ) have been bashed in the media, unreservedly and undeservedly, as deserters in the face of disaster.

Consider the birth of the epithet “fly-jin.” A corruption of the racist word gaijin for foreigners, it appeared in English-language media as a label for NJ who apparently flew the coop in Japan’s time of need. The Japanese media soon developed its own variants (e.g., Nihon o saru gaikokujin), and suddenly it was open season for denigrating NJ…

I saw no articles putting things into perspective, comparing numbers of AWOL NJ with AWOL Japanese. Cowardice and desertion were linked with extranationality.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t doubt that many NJ did move due to the Tohoku disasters. But my question is: So what if they did?… Why should Japan care if NJ are leaving? Japan hasn’t exactly encouraged them to stay…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8870
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Another Newsletter will be up here tomorrow, and then we should be all caught up. Thanks as always for reading!
Arudou Debito
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 11, 2011 ENDS

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