Table of Contents:
1) Japan Times: J Govt’s pandemic border policy highlights their taking advantage of insecure legal status of foreign residents
2) “Tired Panda” on how rural tax authorities specialize in targeting foreign taxpayers for audit. And Japan aims to be Asia’s #1 financial hub? Hah.
3) “Educating the Non-Japanese Underclass”, my Shingetsu News Agency “Visible Minorities” Col 2, Sept 17, 2019, link to full text
… and finally…
4) My SNA Visible Minorities 17: NIKE JAPAN Advertisement on Japan’s Visible Minorities does some good (Dec 21, 2020)
Table of Contents:
JT: Inequity between the treatment of Japanese and non-Japanese residents, including those with established residency status and decadeslong careers here, brought back to the surface long-standing frustrations over apparent struggles with multiculturalism in the nation, stirring debate on the status of foreign residents here and the extent of Japan’s preparedness for an influx of foreign workers that had been anticipated before the pandemic struck.
As questions linger over the government’s intentions behind the controversial rules, records and reports from behind the scenes of Japan’s fight against the pandemic have begun to emerge.
They highlight the limits of the nation’s immigration strategy, with decisions apparently made ad hoc amid chaos, and reveal the insecure status of foreign nationals in Japan and underlying discriminatory attitudes within society toward immigrants and expatriates…
SNA (Tokyo) — In a shocking series of exposés at the beginning of this month, the Mainichi Shinbun reported that minority children of workers in Japanese schools were being segregated from their Japanese peers, put in classes for the mentally disabled, and systematically denied an education.
For years now, according to Ministry of Education surveys, schools have subjected their non-native foreign minority students to IQ tests. The results were striking: Non-Japanese children were found to have “developmental disorders” at more than double the rate of the general Japanese student population.
Striking, but not all that surprising—since these tests assessed IQ via culturally-grounded questions, on things like Japanese shogunates and tanabata festivals. They also considered a lack of Japanese language skills an “intellectual” disability.
Let that sink in. Try claiming that your Japanese students are dim because they aren’t proficient in English, and then watch how long you remain an educator.
But here’s where the bad science turns evil… Read the full text at http://www.debito.org/?p=15744
In the wake of treating Non-Japanese Residents like they’re riddled with extra Covid contagion, here’s yet another example of how Non-Japanese taxpayers are treated with extra suspicion — with bored tax auditors even in the most rural areas of Japan dedicated to ferreting out rank-and-file sneaky foreigners’ assets and earnings socked away overseas. Courtesy of Debito.org Reader “Tired Panda”, edited and reproduced here with permission.
According to numerous sources, “Japan has explicitly stated its goal is to make Tokyo the number one financial city in Asia… Japanese officials see an opportunity to lure the Asian headquarters of global financial firms to Tokyo as Hong Kong struggles under new scrutiny from Beijing.” In a business climate like the one being described by “Tired Panda” below, who wound up giving up Permanent Residency status after being zapped by local tax authorities, this seems unlikely to happen in Japan.
Tired Panda: It started with my tax accountant in [Katainaka Prefecture], who I have used for several years, suddenly asking me to declare my worldly assets, including how many mountains I owned. Being unaware of any such requirement, I was stunned by this and resisted but my accountant said just roughly write it down and as long as it’s under 5,000,000 you’ll be OK. Just sign it.
The tax department audited me a couple of years ago covering a period of 5 years. They have two young recruits whose full-time job is to concentrate on foreigners. They speak no English. They produced figures suggesting I had been evading taxes over this time and the amount of tax payable. They would not say what shares or investments were the source of the income and I had no way of disputing any figures. I’m aware that tax losses can be carried over to offset gains but they would not recognize this for my foreign investments, saying something about a “blue paper”. I made a start on trying to track everything over the years, but gave up when it became evident that unless something was in the format they required, such as a statement from Monex Japan, they would not accept it. They also slapped a penalty on each of the year’s taxes, compounding over the five year period. It became obvious that it was futile and I paid a substantial amount.
I thought this was the end of that horrifically stressful saga and I would make sure to try and do everything required and account for everything down to the last cent. I decided to revoke my permanent residency as I can’t see myself living indefinitely in this country which is forever tightening the tax noose in an effort to pay for the aging population. With the sponsorship of my company and using the new points system I changed to “Highly Skilled Professional (i) (b)” status…
Happy New Year 2021! A lot is going on around the world, but personally I’m under the weather. I got COVID. That’s why I haven’t been blogging too much at the moment. When I’m out of the woods healthwise, I’ll be writing again. Thanks for reading!
Table of Contents:
MEDIA PULLS US FORWARD AND BACK
1) NIKE JAPAN ads featuring Japan’s Minorities and Visible Minorities taking solace and courage from doing sports
2) Unknown news chyron of Govt panel that apparently blames foreigners for spreading Covid. However, FNN News tells a different story: one of assisting foreigners. Let’s be careful to avoid disinformation (UPDATED).
3) United Nations human rights experts say Japan was wrong to detain former Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn; owes him compensation
FULL TEXT SNA ARTICLES ARCHIVED
4) Full text of my first SNA column is now archived on Debito.org: “The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite” (Feb 2, 2019)
5) Full text of my first “Visible Minorities” column now archived on Debito.org: “Debito’s New Column for Shingetsu News Agency” (Aug 19, 2019)
… and finally…
6) My latest SNA VM column 16: “US Elections Repudiate Trump’s Japan-Style Ethnostate”, suggesting that the US might be taking real steps towards a post-racial society
2020 was a watershed year for Japan’s foreign residents
By Debito Arudou, The Japan Times, Just Be Cause, Dec 31, 2020
“May you live in interesting times,” goes the famous curse. By that standard, 2020 was captivating. One thing affected everyone worldwide: COVID-19. And in Japan, our international community was hit particularly hard by public policy regarding its containment.
There were many other issues worth mentioning, however. For example, the Education Ministry announced an increased budget for language support in schools for non-Japanese children next year — a promising sign. However, Japan’s continued mistreatment of those kept in immigration detention centers, and an officially acknowledged incident of “hate speech” in Kitakyushu that went unpunished, were also steps backward from the goal of an inclusionary society.
We don’t have space for them all, so below are the top five issues I feel were of greatest impact to Japan’s non-Japanese residents in 2020, in ascending order.
5) Black Lives Matter in Japan…
Read the rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2020/12/31/issues/japan-2020-foreign-resident-issues/
It’s been nearly two years since I wrote my first feature piece for the Shingetsu News Agency (the only independent English-language media left in Japan not toeing a Japanese government line; please subscribe) after the rightward editorial swing over at The Japan Times. All of my columns are behind a paywall, unfortunately, but now with the acknowledgment of SNA, I am now reprinting my columns in full on Debito.org after one year has passed since publication. Here’s an excerpt to my first “Visible Minorities” column, followed by a link to the full article in the Debito.org original timeline:
Visible Minorities: Debito’s New Column for the Shingetsu News Agency
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, AUG 19, 2019 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMNS
My name is Debito Arudou (or Arudou Debito, if you prefer), that guy from Sapporo who started writing about Japan from the early 1990s on a long-dead mailing list called the Dead Fukuzawa Society. I wrote so much there that I decided to archive my writings on a webpage. Debito.org soon blossomed into an award-winning reference site on life and human rights in Japan, and later a platform for newspaper articles and fieldwork research on racial discrimination. After moonlighting at places like the now-defunct Asahi Evening News and Japan Today, I began writing in 2002 a column for Japan Times, first under Zeit Gist and then Just Be Cause. Decades later, here we are with a new monthly column at the Shingetsu News Agency, under the title Visible Minorities. I chose this title for two reasons…
Full article text now archived at http://www.debito.org/?p=15720
SNA — Nike’s television advertisement depicting a multiethnic Japan stands out as a bright spot to close out the dreadful year of 2020. Entitled “We Will Continue Moving: Myself and the Future,” the two-minute ad depicts a series of diverse Asian youths pensive about their lives in Japan.
[…] The takeaway message in a final montage of voices is the treatment they’re getting is not something they should have to tolerate. They shouldn’t have to wait for a world where they can live “as is,” without concealing themselves.
Now, before I say why this advertisement is important, let’s acknowledge some caveats. One is that this is from Nike Japan, and like all corporations their motivation is to make money. It is a stunt to attract attention and sell products. Moreover, Nike taking a high road with social justice issues is a bit ironic, given their history of child labor and sweatshops. Above all, human rights and business do not always mix well, and businesspeople are essentially opportunists. So let’s first not delude ourselves to think Nike is primarily motivated by altruism.
The other point worth mentioning is the attention that the ad got: 11 million views so far on YouTube. Naturally, internet trolls, xenophobes, and haters got triggered. Unfortunately, even responsible media (such as the AFP and BBC) gave them oxygen by reporting their overblown calls for a boycott, then fumbled the issue by getting soundbites from unqualified “experts” with no real training in Japan’s history of civil rights, social movements, or race relations issues. These rubes missed the mark by denouncing Nike Japan as a “foreign brand,” or dismissing these kids as “outside voices.”
This is worse than just lazy journalist hackery. This fumble was a missed opportunity to highlight issues that have long been ignored in Japan’s media—the existence of a growing number of visible minorities. So let’s make up for that in this column by acknowledging that Nike Japan’s ad was a big step in the right direction…
Rest of the article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/12/21/visible-minorities-nike-japan-does-some-good/ Read it before it goes behind a paywall on Friday.
The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, February 2, 2019
Excerpt: On January 28, the Japan Times published an opinion piece titled, “How Japanese is Naomi Osaka?” Author Kunihiko Miyake “felt something odd” about how the multiethnic tennis champ could ever “represent Japan.” Miyake’s article is indicative of how the quality of analysis has slipped under the Japan Times’ new ownership, and suggests how the purposes of the organization have changed…
[Miyake’s] half-baked column is indicative of something much larger—a decline in analytical prowess due to the editorial changes at the Japan Times in recent years.
The Japan Times came under new ownership in June 2017 by the media group News2u Holdings, a PR company. In an unexpected editorial shift, last November the Japan Times announced that it would henceforth be rewording the “potentially misleading” (and internationally-recognized) terms “Comfort Women”—which is already a direct translation of the official euphemism of ianfu—as “women who worked in wartime brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.” Likewise, the term “forced laborers” would now be rendered merely as “wartime laborers,” following the new government policy.
Aside from journalistic concerns about cramming a wordy term into concise articles, it wasn’t hard for media observers to understand this as a response to government pressure, already manifest in Japanese media and world history textbooks, to portray Japan’s past in a more exculpatory light…
Full article text now archived at http://www.debito.org/?p=15541
Reader JK sent me this link to the following NIKE JAPAN advertisement for discussion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G02u6sN_sRc
Entitled “動かしつづける。自分を。未来を。” (Lit: We will continue moving. Myself. And the Future.”, which is a bit different from the official title of “The Future Isn’t Waiting”), the subject is of Japan’s school-age Minorities and Visible Minorities facing social othering in Japan, and finding solace and courage in themselves by becoming good at sports.
It’s dated November 27, 2020, and been viewed nearly 10 million times as of this writing. According to the Japan Times, it’s inspired a “fiery online response”: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/12/02/national/social-issues/japan-nike-ad/
The BBC adds, a bit disingenuously: “Many Japanese do not like to be told by outside voices to change their ways,” said Morley Robertson, a Japanese-American journalist. “But if a foreigner demonstrates a deep understanding of Japanese culture or Japanese rules, then those same Japanese who would otherwise take offence will gush forth with praise.”
Steve McGinnes, the author of Surfing the Asian wave: How to survive and thrive in the new world order, believes the advert is an “own goal”. “Endemic racism is going to be a sensitive topic in any culture. But Nike should not think, as a foreign brand, that it is appropriate for them to point it out to their hosts. “They are crudely putting a spotlight onto a subject that many feel should be off-limits to guests. It’s a huge own goal for Nike.”… “In 2020, should America or an American brand be taking the high ground on racism and telling the rest of the world what they are doing wrong?” adds Mr McGinnes. “Clearly, a lot of Japanese people think they shouldn’t.” https://www.bbc.com/news/business-55140846
I’ll reserve my comment for later. But I don’t believe this is an “own goal” for Nike. And how self-assured can these pundits be that these are “outside voices”?
AP: A panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations said Monday that former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan and has urged “compensation” for him from the Japanese government. The Japanese government denounced the report as a “totally unacceptable” viewpoint that will change nothing in the country’s legal process.
In its opinion published Monday, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Ghosn’s arrest in Japan in late 2018 and early 2019 was “arbitrary” and called on Japan’s government to “take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr Ghosn without delay.” A determination of whether detention is arbitrary is based on various criteria, including international norms of justice…
Japan’s system has been repeatedly criticized by human rights advocates. The panel cited previous concerns about Japan’s so-called daiyo kangoku system of detention and interrogation that relies heavily on confessions and could expose detainees to torture, ill-treatment and coercion.
COMMENT: I wrote back in January in that Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan’s gaijin gulag was the right move — not least because Japan’s heavy-handed prosecutorial powers and treatment of criminal suspects is in itself a violation of human rights. Now it turns out the United Nations would agree. Given that Japan has been shamed for decades over its human rights record, and still has not passed a criminal law against racial discrimination as promised under international treaty it signed a quarter century ago (yes, way back in 1995!), I doubt this will mean much. But at least it’s a delicious vindication for our advocacy camp.
SNA (Tokyo) — The US elections captured the world’s attention. No wonder. Given America’s hegemony as an economic, political, cultural, and military power, the results underpin the future of geopolitics and world order.
But here’s another angle: This election offers the world some insights into how countries painfully evolve into multiethnic, post-racial societies. It even demonstrated how enfranchised people would rather destroy their governing system than relinquish power.
Fortunately, they didn’t win. Let’s recount some important facts.
The contest between incumbent Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was indeed, as depicted in campaign slogans, a battle for the “soul of America.”
At stake was whether Trump’s nepotistic, corrupt administration—one that shamelessly used whatever means they could to perpetuate their power, punish political enemies, and undermine democracy both domestic and worldwide—would get four more years; or whether America’s place as a world leader, for better or worse, would be restored to less capricious leadership, with policymaking sane enough to keep its own citizens alive in a self-inflicted pandemic.
Clearly American voters chose the latter course; Biden won. He got five million more votes in an election where more people voted for a president than ever before, with voting rates on track to be among the highest in modern US history. […]
[There are of course some caveats, and] given the current status of Trump refusing to concede the election, and his lackeys interfering with a transition to the presumptive winner, it’s clear that no matter who wins, Republicans feel they are the only ones entitled to run the country. They view cheating, sabotage, soliciting foreign interference, and spreading unscientific conspiracy theories as fair play. The United States’ 233-year experiment in democracy be damned; 73 million voters in this election agreed with Trump’s authoritarianism. The intractable polarization of American politics is complete.
Still, the fact remains that this election was a repudiation of Trump, and, in retrospect, it’s a textbook example of democracy in action. […]
Ultimately, the history books will remember this about the past four years: Trump was the worst president in American history—the only one who was impeached, served only one term, and lost the popular vote. Twice.
Well, good for the United States. But there are also lessons here for Japan, particularly its minorities: how countries make slow and painful transitions to a post-racial society…
Read the rest on SNA at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/11/16/visible-minorities-us-elections-repudiate-trumps-japan-style-ethnostate/
A screenshot of an unknown news has a chyron indicating that some government panel states, “Foreigners have different languages and customs, so we can’t thoroughly enforce policies against the spread of [Covid] infections.” By implication, this means that foreigners are being seen as an obstacle to the safety of Japanese society because of their differences. The screenshot is starting to multiply around the mediasphere, which is why it’s been sent to me multiple times.
However, a Debito.org Reader sends me a FNN news videos which, at minute 1:30, says, “Bunkakai de wa, kurasutaa e no taiou ya, kotoba no chigai de soudan ya jushin ga okureru gaikokujin no tame ni ichigenteki na soudan madoguchi o setchi suru koto ni tsuite giron shiteimasu.”
Or (my translation):
“At this panel, they are debating about whether to set up a unified consultation center to deal with clusters and with foreigners and who face delayed medical consultations and treatments due to language differences.”
That’s quite a different take! According to FNN, this panel seems to be trying to assist, not exclude or blame. I welcome others who find more clarifying media about this event. Meanwhile, my point is to be careful. Foreigners have been so perpetually offset and treated as exceptions from the regular population that this could reflexively feel like a repeat performance. But let’s be careful that this reflex does not lead to disinformation.
UPDATE NOV 14:
Ph.D. Candidate Anoma van der Veere has kindly tweeted out his research indicating some media sensationalism is going on here. Access the thread beginning at https://twitter.com/anomav/status/1327117586249568256?s=21&fbclid=IwAR0gIPlDs9K6X8tH87UWEuafZDYEM9XrgLobf7LI2luRRJgnStztEdka9n4
Screen captures follow, for the record.
Just a personal note. I’ve been relatively slow on the draw here on Debito.org recently because of the busy-ness of the semester. I usually aim for one blog post per week, sometimes two if there’s a monthly Shingetsu News Agency column in the works.
But this semester has been a busy one, what with three classes — two of them new, and one of them an elite writing seminar. When I’m not Zooming my classes live, I’m creating the next powerpoint lecture. And when I’m not doing that, I’m grading. And when not that, I’m doing background research on area politics.
All of that draws down whatever writing energy I have left at the end of the day, and especially on a day like this (Election Day in the United States, which is basically Christmas for us Political Scientists), every day is some kind of teachable moment.
Not to worry: Debito.org has been going strong for a quarter-century now, and will continue whenever I have the time and energy (even if that means a week or three between blog posts). It’s just that kind of a semester. And as always, I’m open to anonymized guest authors saving me energy by giving me copy-pastable reports of things going on around them in Japan. We’re still a venue for life-in-Japan issues.
SNA: Japan’s Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that Japan’s foreign residents have no “right of sojourn,” i.e., to leave Japan temporarily and expect to return. (Japan Times columnist Colin Jones called it a “reverse Hotel California”–you can leave any time you like, but can never check back in.)
That means that even if you invested your entire life in Japan, married a Japanese, had children, paid taxes, bought property, started a business, and even achieved Permanent Residency (which by definition should be a legitimate claim to reside here forever), nothing you did matters… Hypothetically, if push comes to shove, a Permanent Resident will have the same status as any foreign tourist at the border.
Well, that hypothetical came true last April when, due to Covid, Japan decided to bar all foreigners from re-entering Japan–even though Japanese could still return and merely quarantine. No other developed country does this, and there is no science indicating that Japanese passports offer enhanced epidemiological protection. It was purely arbitrary…
From October 1, Japan announced it would open its borders to foreign residents under certain conditions. But it turns out that, realistically, these conditions are still a ban. Consider “George,” a foreign resident of Japan who told Debito.org his experience returning to Japan from Europe this month…
In sum, Japan’s October revised re-entry system is still a means to discriminate against foreigners. By arbitrarily creating a tight 72-hour hour window requiring special paperwork unattuned to the realities of Covid testing overseas (especially when the test is meaningless if you get infected on the plane), Japan’s bureaucrats merely deflected international criticism from its regular racism by replacing it with new, improved racism.
Table of Contents:
1) W on Japan’s Kafkaesque and faulty re-entry procedures (even after October revisions to “open borders to Re-entry Visa foreign residents”): More elaborate racist barriers now.
2) Oct 1, 2020’s new govt regulations for NJ Resident Re-Entry: Not much of a change. Racialized barriers still up; instead, “business travelers” and “foreign tourists” may soon be prioritized
3) Dejima Award #9: Again to Japan Rugby Football Union, for classifying naturalized Japanese players as “foreign”, in violation of Japan Nationality Law.
… and finally …
4) My latest SNA VM column 14: “Visible Minorities: Weaponizing the Japanese Language”, on how Foreign Minister Motegi’s discriminatory treatment of Japan Times reporter Magdalena Osumi is part of a bigger phenomenon
This is an eyewitness account (redacted to remove personal identifiers) of a Permanent Resident of Japan, married to a Japanese for decades, who as a European went through re-entry procedures that apply to foreigners only (regardless of visa status) and not Japanese. The Japanese Government claims they have made things easier for Non-Japanese re-entrants since October 1, but Debito.org Reader W would beg to differ below. This Kafkaesque ordeal will no doubt resonate with those who are used to Japanese bureaucracy, and doubly so when they see how racism (the belief that having a Japanese passport somehow makes you less contagious) is as usual part of the mix.
W: Thank you for follow up on re-entry ban issue. It is very important that someone is trying to do something with this discriminatory measures. Here is my personal investigation. I have had enough with lack of clarification and just assumptions by posters around various news venues. I spoke with one of the Japanese Embassies in Europe to ask about the procedure. They were very kind and helpful. I would advise everyone to contact them in the country you are staying, not to read the “assumptions” in other media. I also asked about my Japanese spouse who is always with me in the same country where we spent the last half year. Let me start from her, because her case is short.
Well, my spouse doesn’t need anything even though we would re-enter together from the same country where we lived together. Japanese don’t need to prove negative Covid exposure (through a PCR test) prior to return to Japan. However, I as a foreigner need a) a PCR test, administered in the foreign country 72 hours before departure, and b) a “Confirmation Letter” with “Certificate of Testing for COVID-19” signed and sealed by the lab by the foreign country that conducted this PCR test.
Let me summarize what I went through:
Japanese Embassy – Apply for Confirmation Letter. 1h drive one way (probably not required anymore since Suga became PM).
3 Days later
Japanese Embassy – Pick up confirmation letter. 1h drive one way
PCR test (lucky they opened just recently a lab close to me)
Next day go back to the lab to stamp and sign the Japanese document by a doctor. This is only when test comes back negative.
Step 4 (when all above is done):
Airlines require to fill in (or rather tick boxes) on their own document. This must be done prior to boarding.
Japan now requires another form to be filled in once inside the plane to “catch” early those at high risk who may be infected and may need hospitalization. (This is not a failsafe; anyone can lie on any forms, including these given by airlines.)
Another PCR in Japan at the airport upon arrival. (Other countries, such as Germany, respect certificates issued elsewhere when showed at the border, and next PCR is not necessary then.)
Again, Japanese citizens only need a Japanese passport and a PCR test administered by Japan after arrival. As if Japanese citizens are less contagious just because of their passport.
October 1, 2020 was announced to be a new day for Japan’s racist border controls. From last April until then, all foreigner border crossers were legally treated as if they were a special source of contagion, affected differently by COVID than somehow-immune Japanese, and banned from entry. Further, unlike any other advanced industrialized country, the Japanese Government banned re-entry even to all Non-Japanese Residents with valid visas. Naturally, as covered before on Debito.org (see here, here, here, here, and here), this racist policy has separated families and destroyed NJ lives and livelihoods.
People have protested this, and media has questioned the actual science behind this differential treatment. So on October 1, the government “changed” its policy to allow in “mid- to long-term visa” holders. But as protest petitioner Sven Kramer points out: “Getting a negative PCR test result 72 hours before departing for Japan is a necessary requirement. I strongly welcome this reopening. As I have implied in the other status update one month ago, I personally can accept this overseas test requirement for foreign nationals who want to newly enter Japan. But it should be limited to new entries only. However, the government still is bestowing this requirement on all foreign residents, not distinguishing between new entry and re-entry (only special permanent residents and diplomats are exempt). It is my sincere belief that, at least when it comes to epidemiological issues, the procedure for re-entry should not be different per nationality.”
Ironically, there’s also the issue of the Japanese Government now considering prioritizing “business travelers” and “foreign tourists” for special entry exemptions. However, as usual, it seems our actual taxpaying NJ Residents (including “Green-Card”-holding regular Permanent Residents) with families and lives in Japan don’t matter as much.
Kyodo: Three naturalized Japanese citizens found themselves on the wrong side of a decision that essentially restricts their ability to work as professional rugby players in their adopted homeland. The Japan Rugby Football Union on Friday confirmed that the three, including two who are eligible to play for Japan in the Olympics, will continue to be denied Japanese status within the Top League simply because they are not eligible to play for Japan’s national rugby 15s side, the Brave Blossoms.
The purpose of the rule passed in 2016 to restrict Japanese status to those eligible to play for the Brave Blossoms was, according to Top League Chairman Osamu Ota, to bolster the strength of the national team. The argument that it discriminates against Japanese citizens was not enough to sway the JRFU. The ruling leaves former All Black Isaac Ross, ex-New Zealand sevens player Colin Bourke and former Australia sevens player Brackin Karauria-Henry to be treated in the Top-League as ‘non-Japanese.’ “The JRFU’s motto of ‘One Team’ and the Top League’s ‘For All’ aren’t consistent with their actions,” [ex-New Zealand sevens player Colin Bourke] said.
COMMENT: The line to draw is simple: Do you have legal Japanese citizenship or don’t you? If yes, then you are a Japanese, and you are to be treated as one like everyone else. That’s what the Japanese Nationality Law says. And any further caveats or qualifiers render the status (and the entire point) of naturalization in Japan meaningless. Moreover, it is extremely disrespectful towards the naturalized, who are compelled by the Nationality Law to give up any other citizenships. What is the point of that sacrifice if naturalization performatively does not award equality?
Sadly, this decision is not surprising for the Japan Rugby Football Union, given their long history of outright racism. In 2011, they blamed a poor showing in the 2011 Rugby World Cup on “too many foreign-born players on the team”and then ethnically-cleansed their ranks. Japan JFRU former president Mori Yoshiro, an unreconstituted racist (and extremely unpopular former Prime Minister) who considered the Reid figure-skating siblings to be “naturalized” (despite them having Japanese citizenship since birth) and therefore unworthy to represent Japan, just happens to also head up Japan’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic efforts. I have little doubt he had a hand in this. So once again, we are in a position to award a rare “Debito.org Dejima Award”, reserved only for the most head-spinningly obvious examples of racism in Japan, to the JRFU. This is only our ninth awarded, but it’s the second time the JRFU has received it. And four of the nine Dejimas have been for official racism within Japanese sports.
Might it not be time for Japanese-Haitian-American tennis champ Osaka Naomi (already quite vocal over BLM) to consider speaking up against discrimination against her fellow Visible Minorities in Japan’s athletics? Would be nice.
Visible Minorities: Weaponizing the Japanese Language
Shingetsu News Agency, SEP 21, 2020 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
On August 28, Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan’s foreign minister, was giving an official press conference to reporters in Japanese. A foreign reporter for Japan Times, Magdalena Osumi, asked some questions in Japanese. When Osumi followed up on a point he left unclear, Motegi responded to her in English.
Osumi then retorted in Japanese, “You needn’t treat me like I’m stupid. If we’re talking in Japanese, please answer in Japanese.” Damn right.
How many times has this happened to you? You ask a question in Japanese of a shop keep, clerk, passerby, or somebody on the other end of a telephone, and they flake out because you got some words in the wrong order, had an accent, or just have a foreign face? Many automatically assume that because you’re foreign-looking or -sounding, you must be able to speak English. So they reply in English.
Or how many times, as a budding Japanese language learner, were you told that what you just said “is not Japanese,” not “it’s not correct Japanese”? Just a flat-out denial, as if your attempt is in some alien tongue, like Klingon.
This phenomenon, where it’s either “perfect Japanese” or you get linguistically gaijinized, is odd. It’s also based upon a myth…
Read the rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/09/21/visible-minorities-weaponizing-the-japanese-language/
The video of that Motegi press conference is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdlt9n5FDUU (watch from around minute 2 onwards)
Table of Contents:
1) Reuters: Tennis star Osaka Naomi “a Jesse Owens of Japan”. I don’t think the comparison is apt, yet. She should also speak out for Japan’s Visible Minorities.
2) Updated petition against Japan Foreign Resident Re-Entry Ban: Still discriminatory: Requires extra hurdles for all NJ only, including extra GOJ permissions and overseas Covid tests
3) Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities 13: “Japan’s Cult of Miserable Happy”, Aug 24, 2020, questioning whether “omotenashi” Japan is actually all that hospitable to anyone, what with such a strong “culture of no”
I support the fact that Osaka Naomi is bringing to light racial injustice in the world, and is willing to take a stand in public to do so. However, this is a stand against racial injustice in another country. Not in Japan.
This is an easier target because a) Japan has long taught about racism in other countries (particularly America’s) as part of a narrative that racism “happens elsewhere, not here”, so this unfortunately plays into Japan’s grander deflection strategy; and b) this protest doesn’t imperil her sponsorship in Japan, where her money is coming from.
Yet racism, as this blog and my research have covered for more than a quarter century, is alive and “practiced undisturbed” (according to the United Nations) in Japan. That’s worth protesting. So is racism in America, of course. But there are plenty of high-profile voices involved in that already. What is sorely needed is someone standing up for the equal and nondiscriminative treatment of, for example, Japan’s Visible Minorities (a group Osaka is a member of).
Others have tried, such as VM Japanese beauty queens Miyamoto Ariana and Yoshikawa Priyanka, and their careers in Japan suffered as a result. Osaka Naomi, as Debito.org has argued before, has a stronger immunity card to criticize Japan if she so chooses. It’s still unclear she will ever choose to.
Petition: Since September 1, 2020, all legal non-Japanese residents of Japan can leave and reenter the country. This is a very important and uplifting development. With this most recent easing of restrictions, almost all points of this petition were met.
However, one vital point of this petition (equal treatment of all legal residents at the border regardless of nationality) is still not fulfilled. Only non-Japanese residents have to apply for a Receipt for Request of Re-entry at the Immigration Services Agency before departing from Japan. No explanation in given why this is necessary and why a valid residence card and the normal reentry permit is not enough. Furthermore, only non-Japanese residents (except for diplomats and special permanent residents) have to take a PCR test abroad within 72 hours before the departure for Japan. However, this requirement can nobody meet who stays in a country which does not test people without symptoms or does not deliver the results on time. And anyway, the PCR test at the Japanese port of entry should suffice. Residents of Japan have Japanese health insurance. This is why they are entitled to treatment in Japan if the PCR test at the Japanese airport should turn out to be positive.
Requesting negative PCR tests before going to Japan should be limited to non-Japanese who want to newly enter Japan. This requirement should not be bestowed upon legal residents, who have their livelihoods already in Japan. Therefore, this petition is going to continue until the requirement of PCR tests abroad is abolished for all legal residents of Japan regardless of nationality.
SNA: These are sobering times for Japan fans. Thanks to the pandemic, even the most starry-eyed and enfranchised foreigners are having their bubbles burst, realizing that their status in Japan, no matter how hard-earned, matters not one whit to Japan’s policymakers.
As covered elsewhere, current Immigration policy dictates that Japanese citizens can leave and re-enter the country at will, as long as they subject themselves to testing and quarantine upon return. But that doesn’t apply to Japan’s resident non-citizens, who still generally get barred from re-entry…
Targeting all foreigners only as vessels of virus makes it clearer than ever that Japan’s requirements for membership are racist. It strips yet another layer of credibility from the “Cool Japan” trope, such as the overhyped “culture of hospitality” (omotenashi) during Japan’s buildup to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Since this is an opportune time to remove layers of lies from Japan’s narrative, let’s address another one: That Japan is an unusually hospitable place…
Table of Contents:
THE EMBEDDED RACISM IN JAPAN’S BORDER POLICIES
1) The text of the Ministry of Justice’s “Foreigner Re-Entry Ban”, on paper. Debito.org Readers are invited to offer their experiences in practice.
2) Human Rights Watch calls for law against racial discrimination in Japan, in light of COVID and BLM
3) Followup: Mark proposes a class-action lawsuit, against Japan Govt for Foreign Resident Travel Ban, to Human Rights Watch Japan
SAME WITH JAPAN’S UNIVERSITIES
4) Former student reports on how “Tokyo International University segregates and exploits its foreign students”
SOME BETTER NEWS
5) Cabby on “Ten Days in May: A Memorable Japan Hospital Experience during the COVID-19 Crisis”
6) “A Despotic Bridge Too Far”, Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 12 on Japan’s racist blanket ban on Foreign Resident re-entry
John Doe: “Tokyo International University (TIU), located in Kawagoe, Saitama, was founded in 1965. In 2014, they launched the new English Track (E-Track) program, where major courses would be taught entirely in English. The program catered to foreign students who did not speak Japanese, mostly from developing countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, or Thailand. This allowed them to study a supposedly rigorous curriculum for a cheaper price compared to those in English-speaking countries such as the U.S. or Australia. Foreign students can also apply for a scholarship which reduces their tuition in full or in part, making the program even more attractive to them. On paper, the E-Track program at TIU sounds good, and to me, it seemed so when I applied to it in 2017. But, starting from 2018, things changed suddenly and it is no longer what it used to be now. I will explain […]
“I do not recommend TIU as a place for foreign students coming to Japan to learn Japanese skills to study. You will only be used as a means to teach their Japanese students English. Not only that, if you are a foreign student at TIU, then it is possible that you are being scammed out of your hard-earned money. It appears that they are trying to exploit their foreign students not only academically but also financially.”
Here’s some good news for a change, where Cabby writes about a good experience he had in Japanese hospital in Okayama, Central Japan. With all the stories Debito.org has covered about how COVID has affected NJ Residents adversely, this story comes a welcome respite:
Ten Days in May: A Memorable Japan Hospital Experience during the COVID-19 Crisis
By Cabby, Exclusive to Debito.org, May 17, 2020
As if submerged in a deep dark viscous pool and slowing ascending to the surface, I awoke in the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital with doctor and two nurses in attendance. My vision was unfocused and mind disoriented. I saw I was enclosed in some type of clear vinyl box with what seemed like a wooden frame. The first external sound was that of a doctor asking if it was all right. My first mumbled utterance, “Where am I?” was answered with Okayama University Hospital I.C.U. The next words from the doctor were, “Is it okay for us to remove the ventilator? We need it for another patient.”
My confused reply . . . “What ventilator? What time is it? The doctor informed me it was Saturday afternoon and that I had been unconscious for about 26 hours. He asked once more about the ventilator. I now assume there was a matter of urgency to the request but at the time I was still quite groggy and did not even understand why I was on a ventilator. I answered, “if you think it is OK. You’re the doctor.” It was removed and in it’s place a large clear plastic oxygen mask was positioned over my nose and mouth.
As I began to regain a semblance of mental clarity I could see that I was in a large room with many patients. At the foot of the bed was a large blue and gray high-tech machine of some sort and a nurse sitting behind it. She was focused on a laptop computer resting on the surface of a tray in front of the mass of the machine. Before long the doctor returned and informed me that they were going to move me to a different part of I.C.U. to lessen the threat of COVID-19 infection. He also told me that I had been tested upon admittance and the results were negative. This was not my primary concern at the time. The very professional staff proceeded to wheel my bed along with the blue and gray machine down a short hallway to a somewhat more secluded section of the ward…
Mark: I would like to point the fact that foreigners in Japan (including me) have been severely affected by a political decision implemented in the form of a travel ban. As a consequence, thousands of families in Japan have been divided and many have suffered mental distress. As a majority of foreign residents in Japan have low socioeconomic status, it is almost impossible for most “gaikokujin” to challenge the Travel Ban in courts in Tokyo (due to lawyer’s expenses).
I have been in contact with some academics and lawyers in Japan and one of them suggested the idea of filling a “Class Action Lawsuit” in Tokyo because the “Travel Ban” violates Article 14 of Japan’s Constitution:
Article 14. All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.
An American Lawyer at an International Firm in Tokyo privately agreed but recommended proceeding in court via an NGO. Would it be possible for Human Rights Watch Japan to fill a “Class Action Lawsuit” to protect migrants, refugees and all the foreign community in Japan? Others are welcome to contact Human Rights Watch Japan and offer their support.
UPDATE AUG 10, 2020 FROM MARK:
Debito.org readers are welcome to write how the travel ban affected you and your family. Please send a copy of your experience in your native language to: email@example.com
We are collecting evidence for a lawsuit and need your help! Any language is acceptable; English, Japanese, Romance languages (French, Spanish, Italian), Chinese, Korean, etc.
HRW (machine translated): “Black Lives Matter” (black lives are also important) and a protest against racism spread from the United States to the world and were held in Japan. The Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is also ratified by Japan, is said to include not only racial discrimination but also discrimination based on skin color and ethnicity.
Even in Japan, there are people who have been exposed to discrimination and prejudice, such as Koreans living in Japan. According to a Ministry of Justice survey released in 2017, 25% of the people were refused employment because they were foreigners, and about 40% were refused. About 11% of people consulted somewhere because of discrimination. The fact that the victim is crying himself to sleep instead of getting assistance becomes apparent.
Before the spread of the new coronavirus, Japan had a chronic shortage of manpower and the government created a new status of residence. Once the infection is settled, it will return to the situation of actively accepting foreigners. It must be said that Japan is not ready for a society that lives with many people of different races, ethnicities, religions, and nationalities.
For many years, I have thought that Japan, like many developed countries, needs to enact “Racism Prevention Law.” The effect of the government’s rule is easy to understand, considering the fact that societies have changed significantly in the fields of hiring, dismissal, and sexual harassment in the decades since the Equal Employment Opportunity Law was enacted. Though far from true gender equality, it would be horrifying if there were no law.
Now is the time to start discussing anti-racism laws.
SIM: The manner in which the government has taken this policy of banishing any legal resident with a foreign passport from returning to their livelihood, their family and any assets that they hold if they set one foot outside Japan because of a virus that cannot see the color of said passport is underhand to say the least. Adding insult to injury is the law on which the MoJ is basing this discriminatory treatment. From a document called “Regarding refusal of landing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (novel Coronavirus)” on the MoJ website, I have found that the legislation relied upon is Article 5 of Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act which reads as follows:
“Article 5 (1) A foreign national who falls under any of the following items is denied permission to land in Japan:
“Paragraphs (i) to (xiii) (abbrev.)
“(xiv) Beyond those persons listed in items (i) through (xiii), a person whom the Minister of Justice has reasonable grounds to believe is likely to commit an act which could be detrimental to the interests or public security of Japan.”
Basically, this shows that the government of Japan believes that, with the outbreak of COVID-19, notwithstanding the fact that we may be legal residents and taxpayers, anybody with a foreign passport is a ‘danger’ to the nation and should be banished if they dare to venture outside of its borders.
DEBITO: Debito.org invites Readers to comment on their experiences with the Ministry of Justice at the border. Whether it’s a) you left and re-entered without incident, b) you inquired about leaving in advance and received information that inspired or dispelled confidence in the process, c) you received an unexpected surprise at the border despite all the information you had, d) you wound up in exile, etc., please let us know. Please use a pseudonym. What follows are some excerpts of some of what I’ve heard so far:
SNA (Tokyo) — How bad does it have to get? I’m talking about Japan’s cruelty and meanness towards its Non-Japanese residents. How bad before people think to step in and stop it?
I think we now have an answer to that due to Japan’s recent policy excluding only foreigners from re-entry at its border, even if they’ve lived here for decades, as a by-product of the Covid-19 pandemic. Japanese re-entrants get let in after testing and quarantine; no other G7 country excludes all foreigners only.
Consequently, many Non-Japanese residents found themselves stranded overseas, separated from their Japanese families, lives and livelihoods, watching their investments dry up and visa clocks run out without recourse. Or perhaps found themselves stranded within Japan, as family members abroad died, and the prospect of attending their funeral or taking care of personal matters in person would mean exile.
However, protests against this policy have been unusually mainstream, including institutions who have been for generations largely silent regarding other forms of discrimination towards foreigners in Japan. Consider these examples of how institutionalized and embedded racism is in Japan:
You’re probably aware that Japan has long advertised itself as a “monocultural, homogeneous society,” denying that minorities, racial or ethnic, exist within it. But did you know that Japan still refuses to include Non-Japanese residents as “people” in its official population tallies? Or to list them on official family registries as “spouses” of Japanese? Or that Japan’s constitution expressly reserves equality under the law for Japanese citizens (kokumin) in its Japanese translation? This complicates things for all Non-Japanese residents to this day…
Read the entire article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/07/20/visible-minorities-a-despotic-bridge-too-far/
Table of Contents:
JAPAN’S BLANKET BAN ON FOREIGN RESIDENT RE-ENTRY
1) German journalism on Japan Govt’s COVID policy: Tohoku’s Dr. Oshitani: Foreigners (not Japanese) brought it in. And that’s why govt policies specifically exclude only foreigners, even NJ Permanent Residents.
2) Japan’s National Universities call on the Education Ministry to protect int’l students from expulsion and exclusion (a report from Debito.org Reader Mark)
3) American Chamber of Commerce in Japan calls on J govt to cease “double standard restricting [Foreign Japan Residents’] travel, economic, and familial opportunities based on nationality” in Coronavirus policy
WANT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT?
4) NHK TV’s racist video explaining Black Lives Matter for a children’s news program: Why their excuse of “not enough consideration made at broadcast” is BS
5) SNA Visible Minorities Column 11: Advice to Activists in Japan in general (in the wake of the emergence of the Black Lives Matter Japan Movement), June 22, 2020.
Now the ACCJ has spoken out against the Japanese government’s coronavirus policy treatment of NJ Residents that you see nowhere else in fellow developed countries. This is in addition to the Japan Association of National Universities’ similar call on behalf of international students:
ACCJ: The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) today issued a second statement [included below] in response to re-entry travel restrictions placed on residents of Japan who are not Japanese citizens and called on the Government of Japan to provide fair and equal treatment for all residents regardless of nationality. “Foreign residents of Japan who have made a decision to build a life here and contribute to the Japanese economy should not be subject to a double standard restricting their travel, economic, and familial opportunities based on nationality,” said Christopher J. LaFleur, ACCJ Chairman. “While we applaud and support the Japanese government’s efforts to manage the COVID-19 crisis, a resident’s nationality provides no basis on which to assess risk or assign travel privilege in relation to COVID-19.”
Foreign nationals actively and positively contribute to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan. The ACCJ statement expresses concern among our international business community that the prohibition currently in place is detrimental to Japan’s long-term interests…
“Such individuals, especially those with permanent residency (eijuken) and their accompanying family members or those who are immediate family members of Japanese nationals, and those with long-term working visas and their accompanying family members, need to be allowed to enter Japan under the same conditions as Japanese citizens to continue living and working in this country. Such foreign nationals are actively and positively contributing to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan… At minimum, Japan should adopt the approach of other G7 countries to allow foreigners with established residency status and their immediate family members to depart and enter the country on the same basis as Japanese nationals.”
Mark, a graduate student at a Japanese university, sends word that Tokyo University’s International Student Support Group has been doing its job assisting its NJ students, noting that the Japan Association of National Universities has made demands to the Ministry of Education clearly advocating on behalf of international students in Japan. The latter on the national government to (ISS’s translation):
1) ensure that the international students and researchers who already obtain a status of residence can have the continued education and research opportunities by promptly allowing them to re-enter Japan. Also, it should be based on a thorough infection prevention measures.
2) promptly resume the visa application process at Japanese Embassies/Consulates for international students (new students) and newly hired international researchers, carefully monitoring the infection situation in each country.
Now, while this isn’t on the scale of what you get in the United States, where a very large front of universities, states, and even corporations lined up lawsuits to defend international students from getting their student visas revoked by the Trump Administration if they were taking online-only classes (resulting in the Trump Administration actually backing down yesterday, mere days after ICE unilaterally declared it policy). But for Japan it’s a start. And a rather rare example of organizations that aren’t “activist groups” advocating on behalf of NJ rights (especially since the GOJ’s activities lately have been especially isolationist and xenophobic). And since these are Japan’s flagship universities, including Toudai, it’s a precedent and a template. Bravo. Mark’s report follows:
A couple of weeks ago, we covered on Debito.org a flap about TV network NHK (“the BBC of Japan“) broadcasting a racialized anime to Japanese kids explaining the Black Lives Matter movement in America. It portrayed African-Americans as scary, angry, thieving, sinewy stomping and guitar-strumming urban folk. With a few more stereotypes thrown in. (And note that there wasn’t even a mention of George Floyd.)
Here is the NHK video in question, with translation version afterwards. Soon after, on June 9, according to the Mainichi Shinbun, NHK apologized for the video, saying, “There was not enough consideration made at broadcast”, and removed the program was removed from its online streaming services.
Debito.org cries BS about NHK’s claims of “not giving enough consideration”, because in fact, NHK hired this production crew BECAUSE they are famous for creating these outlandish videos. They’re evidently the same crew who did sequences for legendary TV show “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo Nihonjin” some decades ago. Consider the similarity in style between the above NHK sequence and this “Koko Ga Hen” segment, as analyzed by Kirk Masden. Also witness the tone of this “Koko Ga Hen” segment from February 28, 2001.
Given that “Koko Ga Hen” routinely racialized and othered its foreign panelists for the purposes of entertainment and maintaining the constant Japanese media narrative of foreigners as scary outsiders, I aver that NHK knew exactly what it was doing when it subcontracted out to those producers. NHK just didn’t expect to be called out on it.
When the Japanese media observes omertà on how Japan’s policymakers engage in racist politics, it’s sometimes up to overseas media to expose it. Debito.org Reader Maximilian Doe offers a full report from German media: How even Japan’s scientists (particularly a Dr. Oshitani Hitoshi, professor of virology at Tohoku University, and leader of the health advisors to the Japanese government) couched COVID as an overseas contagion, not something also brought into Japan by Japanese (such as the cruise ship Diamond Princess). This led to policies that reflectively exclude all “foreigners” (including NJ Residents with valid visas) from entry or even quarantine.
OSHITANI: Spread of COVID-19 in Japan had two major waves so far. The first wave was originated by people with travel history to Wuhan and other places in China. From January to early February, the number of cases from China found in Japan was 11. Of course, there were considered to be more imported cases from China in reality, but it was likely somewhere around several tens to about a hundred. These people traveled to Japan for sightseeing or other purposes, and later, through places where people congregate, such as sports gyms and small concert houses, transmissions spread across the country including Hokkaido, Tokyo, Aichi, and Osaka. This first wave had come under control by mid March with number of cases relatively low, but the second wave came as the first wave was calming down. Second wave was originated by infected people from a wide range of countries, such as Europe, US, Southeast Asia, and Egypt. We confirmed about 300 cases who had entered Japan from such countries, so the actual number of cases who entered Japan is estimated to be around 1,000 ~ 2,000. Although local transmissions of the second wave in Japan began in early February, infected people from abroad were coming to Japan and able to move around the country almost without any restriction, until the government put restrictions on travel at the end of March. This resulted in a large outbreak.
SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: Virologist and government advisor Hitoshi Oshitani says: “The data clearly shows that Japan’s measures were more effective than those of Western countries.” No G7 country has so few Covid-19 fatalities as Japan. The high standard of hygiene of the Japanese is also claimed as an additional reason for this. Now the government of the right-wing conservative Prime Minister Shinzō Abe wants to make sure that foreigners will not cause the next wave.
COMMENT FROM DOE: These German articles are not hard proof whether Dr. Oshitani is actively okay with shutting out even legal residents or not, but in combination with the Japanese and English articles published on the website of Oshitani’s lab I get the impression that he and his team of other advisors had a very strong influence, if not the most critical influence, on the government implementing this current entry ban. I also think that it’s enough evidence that he at least doesn’t care about the problem for stranded NJ residents. A curious behavior for an academic or one of Japan’s national apex universities, since universities are those “businesses” disproportionately affected by this. Besides this he’s clearly responsible for the – let’s say – special testing policy Japan has implemented. I’d like to hear your thoughts about this.
COMMENT FROM DEBITO: My thoughts are there is a pattern here. Foreigners, as we’ve seen from the days of AIDS, SARS, and even the Otaru Onsens Case, are more likely to be seen as riddled with contagion, and treated as such by policymakers either with benign neglect or overt reactionary policies. However, instead of having a government and civil society that rightfully points out that associating disease with citizenship leads to racism, in Japan we get blanket exclusion. And it’s even backed up by Japan’s scientists.
SNA: Within recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations, a wider range of people are finally decrying, for example, the Japanese police’s racial profiling and violence towards visible minorities. […] This column would like to point out some of the pitfalls that activists may face in Japanese society, based upon my experience fighting against racial discrimination in Japan for nearly thirty years. Please read them in the helpful spirit they are intended.
1) Remember that, in Japan, activists are seen as extremists
2) Keep the debate focused on how discrimination affects everyone in Japan
3) Be wary of being fetishized
4) Be ready for the long haul
5) Control your own narrative
Full writeup on SNA at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/06/22/visible-minorities-advice-to-activists-in-japan/
Table of Contents:
JAPAN OFFICIALDOM SHOWS ITS XENOPHOBIC COLORS
1) Dejima Award #8: NJ resident returnees from abroad officially treated like contagion, barred from reentry unlike Japanese returnees. And unlike any other G7 country.
2) Discriminatory govt financial assistance for students: All Japanese can apply, but foreign students must be in top 30% of class. MEXT’s rationale: “Many NJ students go home anyway and don’t contribute to Japan’s future.”
3) Online petition: Oppose Japan’s generic reentry ban on Foreign Residents even after essential travels since April 3, 2020
SO DO JAPAN’S UNDERCOVER RACISTS
4) Mainichi: Japan, US academics demand NHK explain offensive BLM anime. And how about all the others (including NHK) in the past?
5) Info on Black Lives Matter demos in Japan in response to excessive police force towards a Kurdish Resident; also the backlash of right-wing Tokyo Katsushika-ku Assemblyman Suzuki Nobuyuki: “expel any foreign demonstrators”.
6) My SNA Visible Minorities col 10: “The Guestists and the Collaborators”, May 18, 2020, on how long-term NJ leverage their newfound privilege against other NJ Residents (e.g., Donald Keene, Tsurunen Marutei, and Oussouby Sacko)
Mainichi: Academics in Japan and the United States submitted a letter to NHK on June 12 demanding the Japanese public broadcaster clarify why it broadcast an anime explainer of Black Lives Matter protests that was subsequently condemned as racist, and that it also outline its views on the matter and possible preventive measures. In their five-page letter to the NHK, the experts in U.S. studies describe the video as “including content that cannot be overlooked.” Among its 13 signatories are professor Fumiko Sakashita of Ritsumeikan University in Tokyo and professor Yasumasa Fujinaga of Japan Women’s University, also in the capital. The letter is addressed to the NHK president, as well as the heads of the international news division and the News Department. The writers say they will recruit supporters in both the U.S. and Japan.
The around 1-minute-20-second animated video that the letter discusses was originally shown on NHK news program “Kore de Wakatta! Sekai no Ima” (Now I Understand! The World Now) and shared on the broadcaster’s official Twitter account on June 7. It was intended as an explanation for the demonstrations that began in the U.S. after George Floyd, a black man, was killed by a white police officer kneeling on his neck. It features a muscular, vested black man shouting about economic inequality in the U.S., and makes no reference to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. The letter to NHK described the depiction of the man as stereotypical, saying, “He is given an excessively muscular appearance, and speaks in an emphatically coarse and violent way.” It added that in the U.S., “This stereotype has a history of being used to legitimize lynching of black people and the loss of their lives from police brutality.”
NHK: “We at NHK would like to sincerely apologize for a computer animation clip posted on our Twitter account. […]. The one-minute-21-second clip aimed to show the hardships, such as economic disparity, that many African Americans in the US suffer. However, we have decided to take the clip offline after receiving criticism from viewers that it did not correctly express the realities of the problem. We regret lacking proper consideration in carrying the clip, and apologize to everyone who was offended.”
DEBITO: I call BS. NHK knew full well what these subcontracted segments are like, as this subcontractor been hired before for other Japanese TV programs (example below). That’s what that subcontractor has done for years. NHK just expected that this would be for “domestic consumption only” and the Gaijin wouldn’t see it, (because after all, “foreigners” don’t watch Japanese TV (because Japanese is too hard a language for them to understand). That’s also BS. And NHK (not to mention most of Japan’s other media, see a list in this blog entry) still hasn’t learned their lesson after all these decades.
As you know, following the George Floyd et al. killings by police in America, there is an international wave of condemnation towards institutionalized racism and brutality in law enforcement. Japan is not exempt from this (in fact, institutionalized embedded racism is one of the reasons Debito.org exists, and the Japanese police are notorious for their normalized racial profiling), and a recent case (see Reuters article below) of a Kurdish man being assaulted by police during a traffic stop has made news. Given this flashpoint, a Black Lives Matter movement of protecting minorities against state-sponsored unchecked violence has taken wing around Japan. Please join in if you’re interested. Information website here: https://blacklivesmattertokyo.carrd.co/
Bravo. Meanwhile, as SNA has pointed out, certain elements within Japan have a problem with any Non-Japanese trying claiming their rights in Japan even through peaceful public protest: “Veteran anti-foreign rightwinger Nobuyuki Suzuki, currently a Katsushika Ward assemblyman, demands that any foreigner who engages in a street protest should be tracked down by the police and expelled from the country.” After all, according to the Suzukis of Japan, foreigners don’t belong here. They aren’t kokumin, and because they are only here by permission of the government, by definition they should not protest; they should be just good little Guests or get out. Japan for the Japanese. You know the mantra. Even though public demonstrations (for example, by NJ workers in labor unions) are perfectly legal, and have been going on for decades. That’s why social movements should crest and clean these exclusionary bigots out of government. And Debito.org will add its voice in support.
SK: I am Sven Kramer, a scholar of Japanese studies based in Japan. Today, I would like to focus your attention on a private initiative I have started: a Japanese-English bilingual online petition against the de facto complete generic denial of reentry to foreign residents of Japan (including permanent residents and eminent relatives of Japanese citizens). On April 3, 2020, the government of Japan has implemented an almost complete closure of her borders to foreign residents on valid long-term visas (only the “special permanent residents” are exempt), while every Japanese citizen regardless of actual residency is allowed in.
This regulation affects more than 2,000,000 foreign residents of Japan, who cannot reenter Japan for the foreseeable future even after traveling abroad for a very good reason (e.g. the death of a family member in the country of origin), and are thus in danger of using their livelihoods here. I anticipate that among those affected, a significant number should be scholars based at Japanese universities receiving this mailing list. According to my current knowledge, Japan is the only country on Earth with a liberal democratic constitution, that has implemented such a nonsensically discriminatory reentry restriction, which in my opinion cannot be justified even with the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a significant difference to the policy of India, which reportedly has implemented an entry ban on all people regardless of citizenship/nationality. Furthermore, we don’t need to get into deflections of about how dictatorial countries currently behave in this crisis.
I have watched the situation silently but with an uneasy feeling for almost two months, but after reading this article by „Tōyō Keizai Online“ that quotes some of the outrageous things going on behind the scenes without leading to any progress, I had enough. As a long-term foreign resident of Japan I could not keep silent any longer, so on May 28 I have started the following online petition at “change.org”: http://chng.it/GN9Wp2Sj
– Please sign, if you share my opinion that the government of Japan immediately should allow reentry of returning foreign residents of Japan under the same quarantine regulations that are applied to Japanese citizens.
– Please help me spreading the word, if you agree with me on this.
JT: “The coronavirus pandemic has prompted authorities worldwide to introduce entry restrictions on border traffic. But regulations in Japan have sparked a particularly strong reaction from its international community, as it is the only Group of Seven member denying entry to long-term and permanent residents and has set no clear criteria for their return. The approach has left many foreign nationals in limbo — those who had headed overseas in earlier stages of the pandemic are now stuck abroad and face uncertainty about their careers and lives in Japan, whereas those who remain here fear that leaving the country would jeopardize their future as well…
“As the virus continued to spread, causing more than 4 million confirmed infections, some countries such as India have even banned their own citizens from returning home in hopes of limiting transmission. But most developed countries, while urging locals to refrain from nonessential travel, have exempted legal residents alongside citizens from their travel bans, albeit under mandatory quarantine. In contrast, under Japan’s regulations imposed April 3, all foreign nationals, including those with permanent residence status and their non-Japanese spouses, and those who are married to Japanese nationals, will be subject to the measure if they try to return to Japan from any regions affected by the pandemic…”
COMMENT: For this reason, Debito.org awards a coveted “Dejima Award” (only its eighth so far) to the Ministry of Justice (particularly Justice Minister Mori Masako). Dejima Awards are reserved for only the most eye-blinkingly obvious and inexcusable examples of racism perpetrated by Japan’s racists and authorities. Thanks for deciding once again that foreigners’ lives simply don’t matter to you. Only foreign residents have to make the choice between exiting Japan and losing their livelihoods here or staying in Japan missing a life event there. How callous and inhumane. And oh so very typical of the cold-blooded Japanese bureaucracy.
Debito.org Reader TJL forwards a message from an Indian exchange student in Tokyo. It seems that making sure no foreign resident leaves Japan (because only foreigners won’t be let back in, even if they’re Permanent Residents) isn’t enough hardship — now Japan is making it more difficult for them to live here. Jobs are disappearing with the pandemic, affecting the arubaito economy and students in particular. So the Ministry of Education (MEXT) has launched a program to assist all students in Japan in financial distress, with up to 200,000 yen cash paid out. That is, unless they’re ryuugakusei (foreign exchange students). Even though foreign students already face enough hurdles to their success and stability of life in Japan, MEXT has decided only the NJ who are in the top 30% of their class qualify. (Naturally, Japanese slacker students need not worry — they’re all part of the tribe.)
MEXT’s justification, according to the Kyodo article below, is “いずれ母国に帰る留学生が多い中、日本に将来貢献するような有為な人材に限る要件を定めた”, or “In any case, what with many exchange students returning to their home countries, we decided to limit applications only to those promising people of talent who will be contributing to Japan’s future.” Boy, that’s full of presumptions. Read on for a letter from the Indian exchange student, a MEXT opinion portal, and other materials in Japanese.
UPDATE: More conditions have come to light thanks to Kyodo News’s investigative journalism:
“According to the ministry, requirements for program eligibility include a reduction of over 50 percent in the monthly income from part-time jobs used to support tuition fees and, in general, a yearly allowance of less than 1.5 million yen from family. The student must also be living outside of home.
“In addition, foreign students must be achieving high marks and have attained a grade point average of at least 2.30 in the past academic year. This accounts for the top 25 to 30 percent of students, the ministry said. Foreign students must also have a monthly attendance rate of over 80 percent, receive less than an average 90,000 yen allowance per month excluding registration and tuition fees, and not be a dependent of someone in Japan earning more than 5 million yen a year. On top of the conditions, those “deemed by their institutions as unable to continue their studies due to financial difficulties” will be eligible for the handouts, the ministry said.”
SNA: In a recent SNA Speakeasy on “Foreign Residents in the Coronavirus Era,” I argued that Non-Japanese (NJ) must band together and be vocal about claiming what’s due them as taxpayers. We shouldn’t wait for the government to deign to divvy out what it thinks foreigners want, as if it’s the omotenashi (hospitality) Japan offers any guest. Instead, NJ residents should be telling the government what they want, on their terms; trying to influence policy agendas that affect them by, for example, participating in local government forums and policy deliberation councils (shingikai).
People have been advocating this for years. Why isn’t it happening as often as it should? Because NJ (especially those in the English-language communities) collectively suffer from something I call “guestism”: falling for the fiction that they are merely “guests” in Japan subject to the whims of the Japanese “hosts.” Their mantra is “It’s their country, not mine. Who am I to tell them what to do?”
Still, eventually some NJ live here long enough, develop deep connections and language abilities, and even become Japanese citizens. Some transform into community leaders, prominent business owners and spokespeople, media mavens, and elected officials. They are definitely no longer “guests.”
But once they earn due respect and authority, another problem comes up: Many squander their position by becoming “collaborators.”
Instead of using their power for good, such as showing other NJ how to follow in their footsteps and to assimilate and enfranchise themselves, collaborators pull the ladder up behind them. They actively consort with the powers-that-be to preserve their privilege and to undermine other NJ Residents.
For example, consider Marutei Tsurunen, Donald Keene, and Oussouby Sacko…
Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/05/18/visible-minorities-the-guestists-and-the-collaborators/
Table of Contents:
PROPAGANDISTS AND COLLABORATORS
1) Kyoto City issues comic book on local street safety to grade schoolers, created by Kyoto Seika Univ & Kyoto International Manga Museum, portraying “foreigners” as unintelligible ill-mannered tourists!
2) Kyoto City manga denigrating “foreigners”, produced by Kyoto Seika University, has naturalized African-Japanese citizen Dr. Oussouby Sacko as University President!
NJ TREATMENT DURING THE PANDEMIC
3) Debito interviewed by Shingetsu News Agency’s “Speakeasy” forum: “Japan’s Foreign Residents in the Coronavirus”, Apr 27, 2020
… and finally …
4) Debito’s SNA column: “Pandemic Releases Antibodies toward Non-Japanese”, Visible Minorities col 9, April 20, 2020
A little over a week ago, Debito.org issued a report from a Kyoto NJ Resident who protested an official comic book, issued by the City of Kyoto to local grade schoolers, depicting NJ only as noisy English-speaking tourists, litterers, and loiterers. And how local residents managed to get Kyoto City to remove that comic with a phone call of protest. (Even that blog post had an impact: It smoked out a Gaijin Handler who tried to blame us as a foreign “troublemaking demographic” wasting Japan’s money.) That’s fine. The irony here was that the people who developed this comic were Kyoto Seika University and the Kyoto International Manga Museum — “international” places you think would know better than to encourage prejudice.
Well, I’m not sure why this didn’t dawn on me sooner, but as pointed out on FB, Kyoto Seika University just happens to have a naturalized Malian-Japanese named Dr. Oussouby Sacko as its President (see Debito.org posts on him here and here). I wonder if he was aware of this project, and if he would have anything to say about it now? Given Dr. Sacko’s flawed social science training regarding how racism works, and his apparent obliviousness about his own privilege in Japan, I’m not so sure. (Dr. Sacko’s only apparent public contact is at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Anyway, here is Kyoto Seika University’s statement of principles, undersigned by the man himself. How does this square with being involved in encouraging prejudice in Japan’s grade-schoolers?
In lieu of a longer blog entry, here’s an interview I had with the Shingetsu News Agency, in one of their “Speakeasys” (YouTube, 25 minutes). I’m making the case that the GOJ could be doing a much worse job taking care of their NJ Residents, but that’s because people have been vigilant about potential human rights abuses. It could very easily revert to racist and exclusionary habits if systems get overloaded or panic hits. Also, I argue that it’s also incumbent upon NJ Residents themselves to step out of their “Guestism” mentalities and claim their due as taxpayers and residents.
As I recently said in an interview with the Shingetsu News Agency, people who live in Japan (including NJ Residents) have to speak up if they feel they are being unfairly treated or depicted in public. And they do, sometimes with success.
Consider the case of RJO below, who writes that he saw a Kyoto Government comic book (ironically, scripted and edited by Kyoto Seika University, in conjunction with the Kyoto International Manga Museum!) issued to local grade-school children about traffic safety (a concern in Kyoto for commuting kids). Amidst other concerns, the booklet veered off on a tangent to target and alienate “foreigners” (not to mention Visible Minorities) as loud, ill-mannered loiterers and litterers.
That’s the NJ Community’s only appearance in the comic — as guests (not residents). Of course, according to eyewitness reports (and personal experience), this is in spite of all the ill-mannered loud littering Japanese around Kyoto as well. (Those kind of manners, you see, are exogenous to Japan. Even an elementary school student knows that. Now!)
The good news is that RJO and a friend took this up on Facebook, then directly with the City Government. Within hours the downloadable link to this pamphlet disappeared! RJO tells his story below. Good job. Again, if you live here as a Resident, you have to make yourself known as one sometimes. Demand non-differential treatment. And definitely demand not to be alienated in a primary school setting!
My regular monthly Visible Minorities column is out at the Shingetsu News Agency, where I talk about how Japan is reverting to exclusionary type (egged on by an unaccountable ruling elite) when dealing with minorities in pandemic times. People in Japan are generally “live and let live” and “keep calm and carry on” when it comes to treating each other. It’s Japan’s incompetent leaders (notably a self-hating haafu American-Japanese politician named Onoda Kimi) who normalize discrimination in the name of shifting blame, I’m arguing. Here’s the column’s opening:
SNA (Tokyo) — Pandemics can bring out the best in people. Newton came up with theories on calculus, optics, and gravity while in quarantine. Shakespeare wrote some of his best plays, and Edvard Munch created iconic paintings in isolation. Even today, we’re seeing heroes in the health care industry, volunteers sewing and distributing basic personal protective equipment, neighbors checking up on each other, and leaders stepping up their organizational skills. When the daily normal becomes a struggle between life and death, we see what people are really made of.
In Japan, we’re seeing much of the “keep calm and carry on” mettle found in a society girded for frequent natural disasters. But that grit hasn’t trickled upward to Japan’s political elite, which has ruled largely without accountability for generations, and at times like these appears particularly out of touch. More concerned about the economics of cancelling the Tokyo Olympics than about the safety of the general public, Japan’s policymakers haven’t conducted adequate Covid-19 testing, exercised timely or sufficient social distancing, or even tallied accurate infection statistics.
As happened in prior outbreaks, such as SARS and AIDS, leaders have deflected blame onto foreigners. First China, then outsiders in general, starting with the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship (which, despite a third of its passengers being Japanese citizens, was even excluded from Japan’s coronavirus patient tallies). But treating outsiders like contagion has consequences: Society develops antibodies, and Japan’s already-normalized discrimination intensifies. Consider the case of Mio Sugita, a Liberal Democratic Party Lower House Diet Member from Tottori…
Read the rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/04/20/visible-minorities-pandemic-releases-antibodies-toward-non-japanese/