Mainichi: In just 10 months, the number of foreign visitors to Japan has already smashed through the 20 million mark for the year, surpassing the previous annual record of about 19.74 million arrivals set in 2015. [..]. Now the government is shooting for 40 million in 2020, the year of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. The wave of people coming to see Japan is a welcome development on many fronts, especially as our country’s population ages and begins to decline, particularly in the countryside. There are, of course, direct and obvious economic benefits from so many visitors shopping, eating and filling Japan’s hotel rooms. However, the tourism boom has also made companies and regional communities more outward-looking in their thinking, and that’s deeply significant. […] What’s important is to avoid viewing visitors to our shores as mere consumers. The government has declared it wants to see foreign visitors drop 8 trillion yen in Japan in 2020. There’s nothing wrong with setting a numerical target in and of itself, but focusing solely on visitor spending could lead to a nasty trip-up.
Submitter JK: Hi Debito: The GOJ wants foreign visitors spend a couple trillion yen the year the Olympics comes to town, so why not strike while the iron is hot and use this as leverage against xenophobic establishments by calling them out on their behavior (i.e. “there’s this shop down the way that excludes anyone foreign-looking — surely that reflects poorly on Japan and hurts the government’s numbers.”)?
Debito: Agreed. And that’s the big blind spot in this editorial. It talks about the shortcomings of tourism policy focusing only on infrastructure and profit, but neglects to mention the issues of how a police force dedicated to racial profiling (especially at hotels), or how being refused service somewhere just because the proprietor has a “thing” about foreigners (and can get away with it because Japan has no law against racial discrimination), can really ruin a visit. “Cultivating Japan fans” is one way of putting it, “stopping xenophobes” is another. And that should be part of formal GOJ policy as well.
Shiki: My name is Shiki, and I’m a long term resident in Japan, having been living for almost 9 years now, and I’m actually in the process of naturalization. I wanted to report about the most horrible experience I’ve had in Japan, which happened on October 25, 2016, at a Hotel called “Sakura Hotel Jimbocho”. […]
In the registration they asked for my nationality, which is something I’ve never been asked before. And it said that “Foreigners were required to show their passports”, so I looked at this, and saw your posts about the subject, and then I just thought “Thet are just doing this for the tourists”, so I just left the default that was “Japanese” in nationality. […] I just said “I’m not a tourist”, then this guy asked me if I was Japanese, and I told him that no but that I was not a tourist and didn’t even had my passport with me.
So he then started to ask for my Residence Card, and I told him that my Residence Card contained private information, so I was not comfortable showing it, and then the guy, late at night told me that then they could not take me as a guest unless I showed them my residence card.
[…] proceeded to say that it was “hotel policy”, and that if I didn’t wanted to comply with “hotel policy” I was free to search for another hotel. […] He proceeded to make excuses that he dodn’t knew about the [Hotel Management] law, that he has to report foreigners to the police, and almost telling me that he was gping to “get scolded” by the police if they saw my name without any ID.
I told him it wasn’t my problem, and that he just needed to show the police that I have an address in Japan. He told me that police was going to scold him for not giving the ID of a foreigner, and when I asked him how would they even know if I’m a foreigner and not of Japanese nationality, he proceeded to make a racist statement about how “He can tell by their face, or their accent”. I told him that was racist and he proceeded to once again threaten me about “returning me my money” even after was I told him…
JSAC: “From the immigration crisis in Europe to the growing tensions around racism and law enforcement in the United States, discussion of institutionalized racism, exclusionary rhetoric in the media, and legal barriers to equality seems essential now more than ever. In his most recent book […] cultural critic, activist, and scholar Debito Arudou attempts to spark just such a discussion. A critical analysis of Japan’s treatment of visible minorities (people living in japan who do not display phenotypical Japanese traits) and the legal, political, and social mechanisms that perpetuate the exclusion of such minorities from various aspects of Japanese society, Embedded Racism is extremely well timed. Arguing that racism operating through various institutions in Japan is akin to experiences of racism in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere, Arudou’s carefully constructed work attempts to debunk the dominant narrative of Japanese exceptionalism, which he claims provides an escape from accountability to the rest of the world. Describing how structural racism behind institutional, legal, social, and media narratives influences the degree to which “outsiders” are constructed and consequently excluded from essential social and legal protections, Embedded Racism is an important contribution to the fields of geography, cultural, and area studies […]”
AFP: The Justice Ministry will conduct its first large-scale survey on racism in Japan as discrimination becomes a growing social concern, a report said Sunday. The survey will cover 18,500 foreign residents 18 or older, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said, adding that the results will be released by the end of March and reflected in new policies. […] The questions will ask whether respondents have experienced or seen racial discrimination in daily life or in the workplace, and what action they want the government to take to eliminate it, the report said. […] No comment on the report was available from the ministry Sunday.
COMMENT: Interesting development here. Given that most surveys on foreigners and government policy on foreigners don’t ask foreign residents for their input (this is a society that even excludes foreign residents from official population tallies; see here and here), this is a positive development. If any Debito.org Readers get this survey, please scan it before you fill it out and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and let’s see how the survey has been written up. Too many questions posed by the GOJ re foreigners slant them to produce negative outcomes — including even questioning that racism exists. It’d be nice (not to mention more scientific) if that didn’t happen this time.
U.S. and Japan elections: scary in their own ways
Subtitle: American political campaigns can be frighteningly tribal while fear of the foreign permeates polls here
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito, October 31, 2016
Column 102 for the Japan Times Community Page
Happy Halloween. Let’s talk about something really scary: elections in the United States and Japan. I say scary because these countries are the No. 1 and No. 3 largest economies in the world, not to mention representative democracies considered too big to fail. Yet the way things are going is truly frightening.
Let start with election campaigns in the U.S., since they are probably very familiar and fresh to readers:
The U.S.: two tribes go to war […]
Read the rest in The Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/10/30/issues/u-s-japan-elections-scary-ways/
Table of Contents:
1) Japan Scholar Tessa Morris-Suzuki reviews book “Embedded Racism” in journal Japanese Studies, calls it “important, courageous and challenging”
SPECIAL ON EFFECTS OF NEW HATE SPEECH LAW
2) Mainichi: After Osaka hate speech ordinance adopted, daily xenophobic marches decrease, hateful language softened
3) Mainichi: Effect of new anti-hate speech law spreads to executive, judicial branches
4) Mainichi: Court orders anti-Korean group to compensate woman over hate speech
5) Kyodo: Japan’s laws against hate speech piecemeal, lack teeth
6) Mainichi Editorial: Japan needs effective hate speech law to stamp out racist marches
… and finally…
7) My Japan Times JBC column 101: “US and Japan votes: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” (Oct 3, 2016)
To cap off this month of discussion on Debito.org about Japan’s new hate speech laws, check out what the Mainichi (clearly a supporter, given their generous coverage of the issue, particularly enforcement problems) said about a bill at the national level back in April. It passed in June. This article offers a good accounting of just how much work went into getting the local governments to take a stand on the issue, and how grassroots movements do indeed influence national policy in Japan.
Mainichi: In 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination advised the Japanese government to take resolute action against hate speech, and to enact anti-hate speech legislation. There are also strong domestic calls for a government response to hate speech. In January of this year, the city of Osaka enacted the country’s first anti-hate speech ordinance. In addition, more than 300 local government assemblies across Japan have adopted a written statement calling on the central government to take appropriate legal action against hate speech, while staying within the Constitutional right to freedom of expression. In these acts, we can see a definite fear that Japan will lose the trust of the international community if hate groups continue to peddle their poisonous polemics unhindered. […]
The LDP-Komeito bill defines hate speech as unjust discrimination. The bill differs greatly from the opposition’s version, which seeks to regulate a wider range of discriminatory acts and calls for the outright ban on hate speech. Neither bill, however, lists a punishment for hate speech violations. To the contrary, we believe that Japan needs a law that clearly defines hate speech, preventing broad interpretations that could be warped into threats to the freedom of expression. The law should also include provisions that will have some practical effect, such as giving authorities the power to deny hate groups the use of public facilities and roads for demonstrations.
One more blog entry about hate speech in Japan (because these developments are important and deserve archiving, as they set the tone for how the new law will be enforced and possibly lead to laws against other forms of racial discrimination). The Mainichi articles thus far archived on Debito.org (here, here, and here) have talked about the positive developments of people being called to account for their hateful speech, and the chilling effect (for a change) over anti-foreign public rallies. Yet Kyodo below makes a case that the law does not go far enough:
Kyodo: Japan’s first hate speech law, which took effect in June, was created in line with Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression, and Article 13, which guarantees basic human rights. Experts, though, say the law is flawed because it lacks both a stated prohibition of hate speech and carries no punishment for perpetrators.
In July, an ordinance to curb hate speech took effect in the city of Osaka. It helped minimize threatening expressions, including “Die!” and “Kill them,” but did little to curb slurs like “the crime rate among Korean people is high.” Yet the environment surrounding offensive displays appears to be changing. Kawasaki announced on May 31 it would not allow the organizer of a hate speech demonstration to use a park following past remarks and activities. In Osaka, police called for “a society free of discrimination.” But perpetrators of discriminatory behavior have turned their attention to the political arena…
This is the third article of three talking about the progress being made under the recent adoption of local laws against hate speech in Japan, in this case a court case against official hate group Zaitokukai:
Mainichi: The Osaka District Court on Sept. 27 ordered a citizens’ group that holds hate speech rallies targeting Korean residents in Japan to pay 770,000 yen in compensation to a Korean woman over defamation carried out by the group and its former chairman. Freelance writer Lee Sin Hae, 45, filed the lawsuit against “Zainichi Tokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai” (literally, “citizens’ group that does not forgive special rights for Korean residents of Japan,” or “Zaitokukai”) and its former chairman Makoto Sakurai, 44, demanding 5.5 million yen in compensation for defamation by fueling discrimination against Korean residents through hate speech campaigns.
According to the ruling, after Lee contributed an article criticizing hate speech to an online news site, Sakurai called her “an old Korean hag” at rallies his group organized in Kobe’s Sannomiya district and targeted her on Twitter using a discriminatory word for a Korean person sometime between 2013 and 2014 when he was the head of the group. Presiding Judge Tamami Masumori acknowledged that some of the things Sakurai had said and tweeted invaded her personal rights and concluded such actions constituted insults banned under the U.N. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination…
This is the second article of three talking about the progress being made under the recent adoption of local laws against hate speech in Japan.
Mainichi: A new law aimed at eliminating hate speech campaigns, which instigate rejection of specific racial or ethnic groups from local communities, came into force on June 3. While the legislation has proven effective in some parts of the country, such as in Kawasaki where the court handed down a provisional injunction banning a hate speech rally in an area home to many Korean residents, there remain challenges that need to be addressed.
On June 5, a hate speech demonstration in Kawasaki was called off after participants were surrounded by hundreds of citizens protesting against the rally and police urged them to discontinue the event. The organizers terminated the rally after demonstrators paraded only about 10 meters down the road, in what was going to be the country’s first such demonstration since the anti-hate speech law came into effect. […] The June 2 provisional injunction issued by the Yokohama District Court’s Kawasaki branch also quoted the same international treaty, as well as the anti-hate speech law that had just been enacted in May. The ruling called hate speech rallies “illegal actions that infringe upon the personal rights for leading a peaceful life” and pointed out that grossly illegal hate speech campaigns, such as repeating loud chants with bullhorns, lie “outside the bounds of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression guaranteed under the Constitution.” […]
Signs of change are also emerging in police responses over the issue. In step with the anti-hate speech law coming into effect, the National Police Agency issued a notice to prefectural police departments across the country asking them to strictly respond to hate speech demonstrations by making full use of existing legislation such as that against defamation and contempt. […] Yasuko Morooka, a lawyer who authored a book titled “Hate Speech towa nanika” (What is hate speech?), hails the anti-hate speech legislation, saying, “The law provides support for courts, local bodies and police in making a decision on their strict responses to hate speech.”
The new law, however, has its own limits. In order to provide relief to victims who suffered damage from hate speech, they still need to prove in detail violations of their personal rights and defamation, just as they needed to before the law came into effect. The June 2 provisional injunction banning a hate speech rally became viable as there existed crystal-clear damage in Kawasaki, where the organizers of the planned rally had repeatedly staged similar demonstrations on about a dozen occasions.
Scholar Morris-Suzuki’s concluding paragraph: In the final sections of Embedded Racism, the author looks to the future, without great optimism, but with some clear and cogent suggestions for steps that the Japanese government should take if it truly wishes to make Japan a more open society. These include passing strong and effective laws against discrimination, strengthening the powers of the Bureau of Human Rights, reforming the citizenship and family registration systems, and legalising dual nationality. Arudou also argues for the involvement of non-citizens in the processes of creating new policies affecting foreign residents. He expresses little confidence that the Japanese authorities will respond to such ideas, but his critique of Japan’s embedded racism and his proposals for change certainly deserve to be read by policy makers, as well as by scholars of Japan. This is an important, courageous and challenging book, and it casts a sharp light on problems which are often ignored or veiled, but which have profound consequences for the present and future of Japanese society.
Debito: When Japan’s first actual law against hate speech was passed in January this year, critics (naturally) decried it as a means to stifle freedom of speech. I took exception to that, saying that it was a step in the right direction, at least. Recent articles in the Mainichi Shinbun seem to bear that out. Here is one of three, talking about the positive effects of the law, where once-daily hate rallies are down, xenophobic language is softened and made less normalized, administrative organs now have means of enforcement, and even court cases are ruling in favor of targeted victims. Good. Read on:
Mainichi: Mun Gong Hwi, an ethnic Korean, […] says, “In a street demonstration by a hate group in April, there was a moment when one participant started to use blatantly offensive language to attack Koreans, and the organizers hurried to stop them. The number of hate demonstrations has also fallen greatly since around the time of the ordinance taking effect.” […]
The response of police and the government administrations to hate marches has also changed. On June 5, just after the execution of the new law, the Kawasaki Municipal Government refused to give permission for a park to be used for a protest targeting the social welfare corporation “Seikyu-sha,” which gives support to the many ethnic Koreans living in the city’s Sakuramoto district. Additionally, the Kawasaki branch of the Yokohama District Court called the hate speech demonstrations “an illegal violation of human rights” and prohibited them from being held near the Seikyu-sha building. Kanagawa Prefectural Police gave permission for the demonstration to be held in a different street location, but protesters staged a sit-in. The police urged the organizers to call off the demonstration for safety reasons, and it was canceled. […]
The thinking of those putting out hate speech and the (essential) content of what they say may not change, but at least on the surface we can see the effects of the countermeasures. It seems (for example) that the organizers are not allowing demonstrators who often say extremist things to have bullhorns. Preventing hate marches through the law thus depends not on cracking down on such actions, but on government policies that put a stop to discrimination.
JBC: I love elections. Anywhere. It’s fascinating to see how politicians craft public appeals. No matter how flawed the process, it’s how nation-states recharge their legitimacy and publicly reaffirm their mandate to govern.
During this season of the world’s most-watched presidential campaign, JBC will assess “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of how the United States and Japan run their elections. […] I want to talk about the expression of political culture and momentum that has grown from generations of campaigning, and how it brings out the “good” (things that are healthy for a representative democracy), the “bad” (things that aren’t), and the “ugly” (the just plain ludicrous)…
Read the rest in the Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/10/02/issues/comparing-elections-u-s-japan-good-bad-ugly/
Table of Contents:
THE OPPOSITION FACES OPPOSITION
1) JT: Democratic Party Leader Renho and the “pure blood” mythos (covered in detail in book “Embedded Racism”)
2) JT: Renho nationality furor exposes Japan’s deeply embedded gender bias
A GOOD MONTH FOR MEDIA APPEARANCES
3) Debito panelist on Al-Jazeera program “The Stream”: “The politics of identity in Japan” after Yoshikawa Priyanka’s pageant victory
4) ABC NewsRadio Australia, Japan in Focus: The winner of Miss World Japan, Yoshikawa Priyanka, prompts another racial debate. Interviews Debito
5) Deep in Japan Podcast, Debito Interview Pts. 2 and 3 on book “Embedded Racism” and issues of racial discrimination etc. in Japan
6) Discussion: Should I stay or should I go? What’s your personal threshold for staying in or leaving Japan?
7) Book “Embedded Racism” now discounted to $34.99 if bought through publisher directly, using promo code
… and finally…
8 ) Japan Times column Sept. 5, 2016: “JBC marks 100 columns and a million page views”
Colin Jones has come up with another insightful column, with a legalistic spine, in regards to how Japanese nationality has historically been awarded (until 1985, through fathers only, not mothers) until it was challenged. And, true to their nature in Japanese jurisprudence, Tokyo courts sided with the status quo (of discriminating against international children with Japanese mothers), and it wasn’t until the Diet amended the laws before they changed their tune. Yet, as Colin points out, the stigma still remains, especially in light of the debate regarding DP leader Renho’s true “Japaneseness”, a dual-nationality flap that never should have been an issue in the first place, –regardless of whether you are proponent of single nationality or double (I fall in the latter camp). Read the article for a breathtaking tour through Japan’s convoluted legal logic.
Jones: In short, decades after her birth, Renho is still being punished for having a Japanese parent who was female rather than male. Renho’s case thus offers a stark illustration of the deeply rooted structural impediments faced by women in Japan even today.
It also demonstrates the Japanese establishment’s general inability to acknowledge the past. The fact that such blatant government-sanctioned discrimination existed until the 1980s simply disappears into the memory hole, a hole that probably exists because the people who ran Japan back then are essentially the same as those who run it today.
Jeff Krueger’s Deep in Japan Podcast features the last interview of three (the first is here, the second here) with me about the issues of racism and discrimination in Japan, covered in book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination”.
Available at iTunes and Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/deep-in-japan/dr-debito-iii-racism-and-discrimination-in-japan
Jeff Krueger’s insightful Deep in Japan Podcast features the second interview of three (the first is here) with me about the issues of racism and discrimination in Japan, covered in book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination”
Available at iTunes and Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/deep-in-japan/debito-13-embedded-racism
JT: “It’s no coincidence that [opposition party leader Murata] Renho’s detractors are the same people who are against allowing a female emperor. “Pure blood” ideology is at the root of Yawata’s philosophy — the “scoop” about Renho’s dual nationality was merely a delivery device. The law means nothing to them because their faith is invested in an occult mythos about the unbroken Imperial line. [Journalist] Kosugi Misuzu insists these beliefs amount to “racism,” since they limit the rights of some people born and raised in Japan due to genetics. Asahi reported on July 6, 2014 — well before the Renho controversy — that the pure blood faction wants to kick out permanent Korean residents as well as anyone with dual citizenship by making all Japanese sign a loyalty oath. They are not just rightists, said the paper, they are “anachronisms.”
“[Former bureaucrat] Yawata Kazuro says Renho can’t be trusted because she doesn’t use her Japanese married name and gave her children names that “sound Chinese.” These value judgments should mean nothing in a democracy. Zakzak, another Sankei organ, adds to the din by saying that Japanese people do not like the idea of someone with dual citizenship “rising to the top.” What about best-selling Japanese-American singer Hikaru Utada and all those bicultural athletes at the Rio Olympics? For that matter, what about former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, who was allowed to settle here and escape prosecution in his native country by asserting his Japanese nationality?”
COMMENT: All of these issues, particularly the “pure blood” conceit, have been brought up passim in book “Embedded Racism: Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination in Japan”. Renho herself features prominently in the book (Chapter Seven), given that Japan’s racist politicians have questioned her loyalty many times before — for example when she was a Cabinet member in the previous DPJ government — simply because she’s to them a mudblood. And they can get away with it because the “pure blood” narrative is so strong.
For the second year in a row, Japan has crowned a biracial woman the winner of a major beauty pageant, reviving a conversation in the island nation about race, xenophobia and what it means to be Japanese. Japan is frequently labeled as one of the most homogeneous countries in the world, but some say this is a myth that discounts the minorities living there and stifles dialogue about discrimination in the country.
In May, Japan passed its first anti-hate speech law in an attempt to curb racism and xenophobia. While critics sceptical about the law’s effectiveness poked holes in the bill, many have applauded the government for taking steps toward addressing what they say is an often ignored issue. Some have viewed Priyanka Yoshikawa’s Miss World Japan win as a sign the country is becoming more open to diversity. Others argue Japan has been open for a long time, and stories suggesting otherwise are reinforcing antiquated stereotypes.
Panelists: Miss World Japan beauty pageant winner Yoshikawa Priyanka, Edward Sumoto, Baye McNeil, Aoki Yuta, and Arudou Debito.
ABC NewsRadio’s Eleni Psaltis presents Japan in Focus, a new program that takes a close look at significant political and cultural developments in Japan.
This week: For the second year in a row a bi-racial woman has won a beauty pageant in Japan, prompting a racial debate; Japan has issued a warning that its businesses may withdraw from the UK once it leaves the European Union; and the Japanese telecoms giant Softbank has bought the British smartphone chip-designing company ARM for more than $30 billion.
Eleni Psaltis speaks to Dr Debito Arudou from the University of Hawaii; Nigel Driffield, a Professor of international business at Warwick business school in the UK; and Dr Harminder Singh, a senior lecturer in Business Information Systems at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand.
Some weeks ago a Debito.org Reader posed an interesting question to the Comments Section. Let me rephrase it like this:
What is your threshold for remaining in a society? Are there any conditions which will occasion you to consider an exit strategy?
Caveats: Of course, this can apply to anyone anywhere. But a) since this is a blog about Japan, and b) people who have chosen to live in another society for whatever reason have the experience of moving from one place to another (hence “hometown inertia” is not a factor), let’s make this specific to people who are living (or have lived) in Japan.
What would have to happen (or did happen) for you to have to decide to move out of Japan?
It’s an interesting hypothetical. For some expats/residents/immigrants in history, even a war was not enough (see the interesting case of William Gorham). So it’s all a matter of personal preference. What’s yours?
JBC: The day I proposed this column to my editors back in 2008, I knew it would be a hard sell. Fortunately, I had a track record. I had been writing Zeit Gist articles (45 of them) every two months or so for the Community Page since 2002, and the JT was looking for new ways to serve the community beyond pages commemorating “Swaziland Independence Day” (which is Tuesday, incidentally). International goodwill and advertising revenue are all very well, but what about offering practical information for non-Japanese (NJ) residents making a better life here, or drawing attention to emerging domestic policies that affect them?
So my pitch was that the JT needed a regular columnist on human rights and issues of social justice. And I was convinced there was enough material for a monthly. They weren’t as convinced, and they were especially nonplussed at my suggestion for a column title: “Just Be Cause”!? But shortly afterwards JBC got the green light, and on March 4, 2008, the first column was published — on why activism is frowned upon in Japan (because it’s associated with extremism). And off we went.
Nearly 10 years and 100 columns later, it is clear that, like the Debito.org archive (started 20 years ago, one of the oldest continuous personal websites on Japan) and daily blog (now 10 years old), JBC is in it for the long haul. In this special anniversary column, let’s look back at what JBC has covered. The themes have been, in order of frequency:
Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/09/04/issues/jbc-marks-100-columns-million-page-views/
Table of Contents:
1) Japan Times: Celebrating Japan’s multiethnic Rio 2016 Olympians: Meet the athletes challenging traditional views of what it is to be Japanese
2) “Deep in Japan” Podcast interviews Debito on Racism in Japan and book “Embedded Racism” (UPDATED: Goes viral in Poland, more than 8000 listens)
3) Finger Lakes Times: Former Genevan, now a Japanese citizen and author, details his experiences in book on racism in Japan
SAME OLD SHAME OLD
4) Asahi: Japan’s Supreme Court approves police surveillance of Muslim residents due to their religion: Next up, surveilling NJ residents due to their extranationality?
5) Japan Center for Michigan Universities: Report and video interview of Muslim Lawyer Hayashi Junko on issues faced by Muslims in Japan (surveillance by police, including of Japanese kith and kin)
6) Nikkei: Japan begins clearing path for foreign workers. Really? Let’s analyze the proposals.
7) Nikkei Asian Review wrongly reports “Japanese law requires hotels to check and keep copies of foreigners’ passports”. Corrected after protest, but misreported text still proliferates
8 ) TIME Magazine and Japan Times on how online trolls (particularly Reddit) are ruining the Internet and media in general
… and finally…
9) Japan Times JBC column 99, “For Abe, it will always be about the Constitution”, Aug 1, 2016
TIME: This story is not a good idea. Not for society and certainly not for me. Because what trolls feed on is attention. And this little bit–these several thousand words–is like leaving bears a pan of baklava.
It would be smarter to be cautious, because the Internet’s personality has changed. Once it was a geek with lofty ideals about the free flow of information. Now, if you need help improving your upload speeds the web is eager to help with technical details, but if you tell it you’re struggling with depression it will try to goad you into killing yourself. Psychologists call this the online disinhibition effect, in which factors like anonymity, invisibility, a lack of authority and not communicating in real time strip away the mores society spent millennia building. And it’s seeping from our smartphones into every aspect of our lives.
The people who relish this online freedom are called trolls, a term that originally came from a fishing method online thieves use to find victims. It quickly morphed to refer to the monsters who hide in darkness and threaten people. Internet trolls have a manifesto of sorts, which states they are doing it for the “lulz,” or laughs. What trolls do for the lulz ranges from clever pranks to harassment to violent threats. There’s also doxxing–publishing personal data, such as Social Security numbers and bank accounts–and swatting, calling in an emergency to a victim’s house so the SWAT team busts in. When victims do not experience lulz, trolls tell them they have no sense of humor. Trolls are turning social media and comment boards into a giant locker room in a teen movie, with towel-snapping racial epithets and misogyny. They’ve been steadily upping their game…
Japan Times: This sort of behavior is not new. Trolls — individuals who purposely send insulting and threatening messages to comments sections and social media sites — may be an Internet-specific phenomenon, but the impulses that drive them are general and eternal. Some say the difference is less ideological than psychological: serial harassers hide behind masks to express their grievances with the world, regardless of political leanings. But ideology, or at least the presumption of a “position,” is always the delivery device for the grievance. […] Media outlets should prevent intimidation any way they can, but they’re failing their mission if they don’t stand up to it.
COMMENT: This is dangerous stuff. As the veteran of many years of online death threats myself, Cyberstalking is still stalking, and Japan no longer tolerates it like it used to outside of the Internet. Debito.org reiterates its stance that something should be done to make these anonyms into real people taking responsibility for their statements. To me, that means registering real names under traceable conditions, as has happened (abortively) in South Korea. Short of that, the trolls will continue to sour and soil the online environment, depriving others of the freedom of speech the trolls themselves allegedly cherish (and use as their excuse for abuse) by remaining anonymous, immune to the same critique and exposure they mete out to others.
My old hometown newspaper in Geneva, NY, interviewed me for a local article.
The Economist (London) recently has had a couple of articles on immigration to and even naturalization into Japan (here and here), so it looks like PM Abe’s alleged pushes to liberalize Japan’s NJ labor market (despite these other countering trends here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) are gaining traction in the overseas media. Let’s take a representative sample of the narrative being spun by the Japanese media (in this case the Nikkei, Japan’s WSJ) for overseas consumption, and see if it holds up to scrutiny. For example:
Nikkei: The government looks to ease residency requirements for guest workers. The Justice Ministry will recognize certified foreign care workers as specialists worthy of the corresponding visa status. Japan currently admits care workers through economic partnership agreements, but those are limited to countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines. The number of guest workers is expected to increase by allowing care givers who learn Japanese or professional skill sets at educational institutions to work in Japan.
Necessary legislation is to be enacted during the extraordinary Diet session this fall, with the measures taking effect next fiscal year. The government also seeks quick passage of legislation to add the care worker category to Japan’s Technical Intern Training Program, which provides support to developing nations.
COMMENT: They tried that before. Until the Indonesians and Filipinas realized they were being exploited by a revolving-door visa system that deliberately set the bar too high for passing, and decided to pass on Japan altogether. So Japan’s policymakers are moving on to the next sucker societies: Cambodia and Vietnam. Which, note, are also not kanji-literate societies; if the GOJ really wanted to get people to pass the nurse literacy test, they would get nurses from China or Chinese-diaspora countries. The fact that they won’t speaks volumes about true policy intentions. As does the final sentence, where they admit that it’s just an expansion of the”Trainee” slave-labor program, exempt from Japan’s labor laws protection.
There is nothing in this policy trial-balloon article that constitutes actual immigration, i.e., bringing in people and making them into Japanese citizens with equal protection guaranteed under the law. Until that happens, there is no discussion here worthy of headlining this as a “cleared path” for foreign workers. It’s merely more of the same exploitation of imported laborers in a weakened position by government design.
JT: Japan is home to 2.2 million foreign residents, and like it or not, a growing number of them are marrying Japanese citizens. The number of international marriages increased tenfold between 1965 and 2007, with registered new multiracial couples peaking at 40,272. Due to tighter immigration rules, the number has since dropped considerably, but marriages between Japanese and foreign nationals still make up roughly 1 in 30 unions — and around 1 in 10 in Tokyo.
However, no matter how common international marriages are today, Japanese society still sets the children of these couples apart. They may have grown up as Japanese citizens or be fluent at the language, but many complain of feeling excluded or discriminated against because of their backgrounds. These individuals’ struggles in dealing with their classification as hāfu (half) have been recounted numerous times in the media, particularly by bicultural figures in the public eye.
Some of these children, however, grow up to be Olympians — flying the flag for Japan and challenging the conventional definition of what it means to be Japanese. At the Rio Olympics, more than any before, multicultural Japanese athletes have been a notable presence in the stadiums. Here are profiles of some of these athletes — those who have given their all in Rio for Team Japan, broken the glass ceiling and possibly even opened up minds in their homeland. (List follows with photos)
Podcast: Deep in Japan, by Jeff Krueger
Title: “Debito: Racism in Japan”
Released: Aug 14, 2016
In this podcast, I interview writer, researcher, activist, Japan Times columnist, naturalized Japanese citizen and, most recently, author of the amazing book, Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination,” Dr. Arudou Debito. If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Debito’s books and articles, visit his award-winning blog at www.debito.org.
COMMENT: Jeff did a lot of research for this podcast, including reading 400-page book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” in three sittings, and investigating much of the anti-activist narrative in Japan. I had a listen to it this morning, and think it’s probably the best interview I’ve ever had done.
UPDATE AUGUST 18: Podcast goes viral in… Poland! (Thanks to this popular vlog.) Now at 6700 listens on Soundcloud alone! Thanks!
JCMU: On July 23, 2016 the Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU) in Hikone welcomed Junko Hayashi, Japan’s first female Muslim attorney, to speak about Islam and the issues faced by Muslims in Japan. In a recent court battle, Mrs. Hayashi represented Japanese Muslims that were being observed by the Japanese government for no reason other than the fact that they were Muslims. Their surveillance came to light after information gathered by police was accidentally leaked to the public on the internet. Despite this, Japanese courts ruled that there was no constitutional violation and that the threat of international terrorism outweighed any right to privacy held by the plaintiffs. […]
In the interview, Mrs. Hayashi lamented that “all Muslims are equal to criminal suspects” in Japan. She noted that because of prejudice against practitioners of Islam, she and the rest of the Japanese Muslim community are denied personal and privacy rights enjoyed by most other citizens. “Their rights are violated and they can’t do anything about it,” Mrs. Hayashi explained. The stereotypes of Muslims have little factual support, as no acts of terrorism have been carried out by Muslims in Japan to Mrs. Hayashi’s knowledge. To redress this discrimination and support those affected by the government’s continued surveillance, she hopes to start a human rights organization.
COMMENT: And from this, it’s but a few steps until approving surveillance of Non-Japanese residents as “criminal suspects”. And from that their kith and kin. Japan’s Police State is returning.
Nikkei: Visitors to Japan will be able to use their fingerprints instead of passports to identify themselves at some hotels thanks to technology introduced by a Tokyo venture. With financial help from the economy and industry ministry, Liquid will start offering a fingerprint-based authorization system by March in a bid to increase travel convenience. Some 80 hotels and Japanese-style inns in major tourist spots like Hakone and Atami, two hot spring resort areas not far from Tokyo, will be among the first to install the system. More inns and hotels will follow. […]
Japanese law requires hotels to check and keep copies of foreigners’ passports. But the economy ministry and the ministry of labor have decided to treat “digital passports” as legitimate alternatives.
Reader XY to the Nikkei: This article contains an incorrect statement: “Japanese law requires hotels to check and keep copies of foreigners’ passports.” In fact, Japanese law requires hotels to check the passports of foreigners who don’t have an address in Japan. The most important point is that the law does not apply to all foreigners but to foreign tourists who do not have an address in Japan. This is a matter of concern to many who live in Japan and occasionally are asked for passports based on a misunderstanding of the law. A second point is that keeping copies of passports is not mentioned in the law — it is a directive from the police. The law only calls for keeping records.
Nikkei: Thank you so much. We will check the Ryokan Law and see if we need to change the sentence.
Comment: Nikkei corrected it to remove the last paragraph mentioning that sentence entirely — and that’s about as close as we’ll ever get to them admitting they made a mistake. But as we’ve written here many times before, the National Police Agency keeps lying about their lawgiven powers regarding tracking foreign guests at Japanese hotels. XY wonders if somebody at the NPA wasn’t involved in creating this misinformed article. It wouldn’t be the first time, and a recent (and very funny) article came out over the weekend describing how the Japanese Police have historically stretched laws to outlaw public behavior they basically just personally disliked. Just another example of how Japan is actually a mild (or sometimes not) police state. And that’s even before we get to the whole issue of re-fingerprinting NJ and the flawed reasoning behind it.
Asahi: Muslims can still be monitored in Japan solely based on their religion, while in the United States courts are cracking down on granting such approval. An appeal by 17 Muslim plaintiffs accusing police of snooping on them was dismissed by the Japanese Supreme Court in late May, which upheld lower court decisions.
The plaintiffs argued that “carrying out surveillance of us on grounds of our religion amounts to discrimination and is a violation of the Constitution” in the lawsuit filed against the Tokyo metropolitan and the central government. Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department had been keeping close tabs on Muslims solely because of their religion, reasoning it was pre-empting possible terrorism. […]
The recent Japanese case came to light in 2010 after 114 articles from internal MPD documents containing personal information on Muslim residents in Japan were leaked online. Data included names, photos, addresses, employers and friends.
The leaked data showed that the documents were compiled in a style of a resume on each individual, along with a record of tailing them. Compensation of 90 million yen ($874,000) was awarded to the plaintiffs by the Tokyo District Court and the Tokyo High Court, which ruled there was a “flaw in information management.” However, the plaintiffs appealed because the courts stated “surveillance of Muslims” was “unavoidable” in order to uncover terror plots. The top court sided with lower court rulings, declaring the surveillance was not unconstitutional.
COMMENT: The obvious extension of this legitimization of racial profiling (defined as using a process of differentiation, othering, and subordination to target a people in Japan; it does not have to rely on phenotypical “looks”) is that for “national security reasons” the next step is to target and snoop on all foreign residents in Japan. Because they might be terrorists. The National Police Agency et al. have already been justifying the targeting of NJ as terrorists (not to mention as criminals, “illegal overstayers”, holders of “foreign DNA”, and carriers of contagious diseases). And Japan’s Supreme Court has now effectively given the green light to that too. The noose further tightens around NJ residents in Japan.
Table of Contents:
1) Ten years of Debito.org’s Blog: June 17, 2006. And counting.
2) Book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Press 2016) now out early in paperback
3) Brief comments on the July 2016 Upper House Election: The path is cleared for Japan’s Constitutional revision
4) Meanwhile back in Tokyo: Gov candidate Koike Yuriko allegedly spoke at anti-foreign hate group Zaitokukai in 2010
5) Zaitokukai xenophobic hate group’s Sakurai Makoto runs for Tokyo Governorship; his electoral platform analyzed here (UPDATED: he lost badly)
6) One reason why human rights are not taken seriously in Japan: Childish essays like these in the Mainichi.
7) Shibuya Police asking local “minpaku” Airbnb renters to report their foreign lodgers “to avoid Olympic terrorism”. Comes with racialized illustrations
8 ) TV “Economist” Mitsuhashi Takaaki on foreign labor in Japan: “80% of Chinese in Japan are spies”: “foreigners will destroy Japanese culture”
9) Overseas online info site Traveloco.jp’s “Japanese Only” rules: “People with foreign-sounding names refused service”
10) Kyodo: Foreign laborers illegally working on farms in Japan increases sharply [sic]. How about the J employers who employ illegally?
11) CG on increased exit taxes on health insurance and residency when you change jobs and domiciles in Japan
AND ON A HAPPIER NOTE:
12) Ivan Hall’s new book: “Happier Islams: Happier US Too!” A memoir of his USIS stationing in Afghanistan and East Pakistan. Now available as Amazon Kindle ebook.
JBC: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scored a hat trick this election, and it reaffirmed his mandate to do whatever he likes. And you’re probably not going to like what that is.
Of those three victories, the first election in December 2012 was a rout of the leftist Democratic Party of Japan and it thrust the more powerful Lower House of Parliament firmly into the hands of the long-incumbent Liberal Democratic Party under Abe. The second election in December 2014 further normalized Japan’s lurch to the far right, giving the ruling coalition a supermajority of 2/3 of the seats in the Lower House.
July’s election delivered the Upper House to Abe. And how. Although a few protest votes found their way to small fringe leftist parties, the LDP and parties simpatico with Abe’s policies picked up even more seats. And with the recent defection of Diet member Tatsuo Hirano from the opposition, the LDP alone has a parliamentary majority for the first time in 27 years, and a supermajority of simpaticos. Once again the biggest loser was the leftist Democratic Party, whose fall from power three years ago has even accelerated.
So that’s it then: Abe has achieved his goals. And with that momentum he’s going to change the Japanese Constitution.
Amazingly, this isn’t obvious to some observers. The Wall Street Journal, The Economist (London), and Abe insiders still cheerfully opined that Abe’s primary concern remains the economy — that constitutional reform will remain on the backburner. But some media made similar optimistic predictions after Abe’s past electoral victories…
Read the rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/07/31/issues/abe-will-always-constitution/
As Debito.org’s second post on the upcoming July 31, 2016 Tokyo Governorship race, I just wanted to cover the candidacy of the anti-foreign vote, particularly Sakurai Makoto, “former leader” of the officially-certified xenophobic hate group Zaitokukai. Here’s his campaign poster:
While this bullying berk hasn’t a snowball’s chance of winning, thank goodness, it’s still a bellwether of Japan’s general tolerance of hate speech that a person like this would be taken seriously enough to allow a candidate who espouses hatred of whole peoples (and believe me he’s not alone, pre-hate speech law). So let’s take a look at his party platform, since that’s what we do here. Here are the seven points of his platform:
Another quick one as the weather deteriorates. Tropical Storm Darby is about to hit Hawaii. Hopefully the damage won’t be too severe, but we’re anticipating heavy rainfall and flash floods. Will keep you posted as the situation develops.
UPDATE: The storm hit us during yesterday afternoon and dumped in some places 2-4 inches of rain per hour. Downtown Honolulu, particularly Ala Moana, Chinatown, and the main road arteries were flooded to the point of cars floating. I personally received reports of people stranded in traffic between exits for hours on the H1. That said, it was far more rain than wind, and life is getting back to normal already on this sunny Monday morning. This rare hit of Oahu by a tropical was nothing like Iniki’s hit of Kauai in 1992, which damaged several areas beyond repair. Nor is it like the storm that flooded UH Manoa in 2004 and almost killed several library students attending class in the basement.
For those who haven’t been following Japanese politics (recently it’s been a pretty dismal science), there’s another race you might want to follow — that of the race for Tokyo Governorship on July 31, 2016. This matters, because Tokyo is 1) Japan’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, one of few with a still-growing population (as Japan’s countryside continues to depopulate and die) and even significant foreign resident enclaves; 2) a world city, cited by at least one international ranking system (Monocle, incidentally partially owned by a Japanese publisher) as the world’s “most livable city”; and 3) the city with the highest GDP (according to the Brookings Institution, even adjusted for PPP) in the world — in fact, according to the IMF, Tokyo alone is the ninth-largest economy in the world, larger even than Brazil, and easily over a third of Japan’s entire GDP (at 36%).
So who gets elected governor of this capital city area should matter to the world. And it has, at least to the world’s third-largest economy. Tokyo set the trend for electing far-right xenophobic governors by electing (several times) Ishihara “I wanted a war with China” Shintaro, who legitimized a xenophobic program within Tokyo environs to the point where bullying of foreigners became normalized throughout Japan (see also book “Embedded Racism” Ch. 7). And with that, far-right hate group Zaitokukai and similar groups became emboldened to hold anti-foreign rallies (some that advocated the “killing of all Koreans”) on a daily basis in recent years. Not to mention that Tokyo is hosting the 2020 Olympics. Given the degree of centralization of, well, everything that matters in Japan in Tokyo, as Tokyo does, so does the rest of Japan.
That’s why the Tokyo Governorship has been a controversial seat this century. First, Governor Ishihara used it as a bully pulpit to justify destabilizing the rest of Asia. Then his hand-picked successor, former Vice-Governor and investigative writer Inose Naoki resigned after a payola scandal. His successor, TV personality and pundit Masuzoe Yoichi similarly recently resigned after a payola scandal. Now the seat has become a referendum of the two leading parties, the waxing and right-shifting Liberal Democratic Party of PM Abe Shinzo, and the waning leftist Democratic Party still trying to recapture some momentum. And into the breach has dived LDP former cabinet member Koike Yuriko, who may even be a favorite to win.
But not so fast. According to Zaitokukai, Koike spoke at their organization back in 2010. Koike is known as a person who flip-flops between parties and positions often, but this is a bit too far for Debito.org’s comfort. Is this the type of person that Tokyoites want?
The Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU) in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, is proud to welcome Junko Hayashi, Japan’s first female Muslim attorney, to speak about Islam and the issues faced by Muslims in Japan. In a recent court battle, Ms. Hayashi represented Japanese Muslims that were being watched by the Japanese government for no reason other than they are Muslims. The surveillance of these Japanese citizens came to light after information gathered by police was accidentally leaked on the Internet. Japanese courts ruled that there was no constitutional violation and that the threat of international terrorism outweighed any privacy right held by the plaintiffs.
Muslim culture is an important part of Michigan culture, making JCMU the ideal place to host this event. JCMU is also a place where people from many different cultures come together to learn about culture and language while exchanging ideas that make our world a better place. It is JCMU’s hope that the Islamophobia gripping much of the Western world can be avoided in Japan through education and mutual understanding.
Ms. Hayashi will present at JCMU (1435-86 Matsubara-Cho, Hikone-Shi, Shiga-Ken 522-0002) on July 23, 2016 in both English and Japanese. People interested in attending the lecture can register by email at email@example.com. The English language lecture will start at 17:00, with the Japanese lecture following at 19:00. For further information about JCMU and its programs please see our website English website at jcmu.isp.msu.edu and our Japanese website at www.jcmu.net. Flyer enclosed at this blog entry.
Commentators have talked about the deception behind this election (that Abe kept the talk on economics instead of his pet project of reforming Japan’s American-written 1945 Constitution in ways that are neither Liberal nor Democratic), about how Japan’s opposition have been so disorganized that they haven’t put up much more than an “anyone-but-Abe” policy stance, and about how PM Abe probably won’t go after the Constitution for a while.
But I would disagree. What more does Abe need in terms of confirmed mandate? As I said, he’s won three elections solidly (probably better than even former PM and LDP party-leader template Koizumi did), he’s essentially gotten a supermajority in both houses of Parliament, and these wins will be seen as public affirmation that Abe’s on the right track (especially within the ranks of the LDP itself; he already regained the LDP presidency running unopposed). Abe has made it quite clear constantly since he’s been anywhere close to power that he wants a return to Japan’s past (foreigner-uninfluenced) glories. Now nothing is really stopping him, short of a national referendum.
And despite opinion polls saying that people don’t want bits or all of Japan’s Constitution changed, I don’t think the Japanese public is all that scared of that happening anymore. Not enough to vote significantly against him at election time. My take is that Japan is becoming a more geriatric society, and with that more politically conservative. That conservatism I don’t think extends to old documents seen as imposed as part of Victors’ Justice. As of this writing, I will be surprised if a) Abe doesn’t push for Constitutional revision, and b) it doesn’t succeed. Clearly the Japanese public keeps handing Abe the keys to do so.
Sales of book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books, November 2015) in hardcover have been outstanding. In less than a year after being published, WorldCat says as of this writing that 83 of the world’s major academic libraries worldwide (including Stanford, Cornell, UC Berkeley, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton) already have it in their collections.
Now my publisher has brought it out in paperback early for classroom use (it usually takes a year or two before that happens). Price: Less than half the hardcover price, at $49.99. It currently occupies the first spot of Lexington’s Sociology Catalog this year under Regional Studies: Asia (page 33).
Now’s your chance to get a copy, either from the publisher directly or from outlets such as Amazon.com. Read the research I spent nearly two decades on, which earned a Ph.D., and has for the first time 1) generated talk within Japanese Studies of a new way of analyzing racism in Japan (with a new unstudied minority called “Visible Minorities”), and 2) applied Critical Race Theory to Japan and found that the lessons of racialization processes (and White Privilege) still apply to a non-White society (in terms of Wajin Privilege).
Get the book that finally exposes the discrimination in Japan by physical appearance as a racialization process, and how the people who claim that “Japan has only one race, therefore no racism” are quite simply wrong. Further, as the book argues in the last chapter, if this situation is not resolved, demographically-shrinking Japanese society faces a bleak future.
Here we have an online information site called Traveloco.jp, which apparently reserves its services “for Japanese Only living abroad”. This is another permutation of Japanese corporate practices erecting arbitrary firewalls between people due to their nationality, ethnicity, etc., or, in Traveloco.jp’s case, “having a name that does not appear to be Japanese”. I wonder how “Arudou Debito” would fare. And as MT says below, why can’t anyone who can read and write Japanese be allowed service?
I want them to review their policies, so that everyone (regardless of race) who is capable to communicate in Japanese could use the site with no discrimination against them – especially not based on their western-like names (if it is not a “Japanese” name)! My correspondence with them speaks for itself. And these are young entrepreneurs, not just some old folks, but the Y-generation!!! This sentiment and notion of Japaneseness is routed very very deeply even in these young men, who are getting their foot in the door of the start-up world.
CG: I was hoping to ask you a question. I’ve done a fair amount of searching online and haven’t found an answer, and the people directly involved in the issue can’t (or won’t) give a plausible answer either. Recently I switched jobs and moved to a new town here after over ten years working for the previous town’s 教育委員会 [BOE]. When I received my final paycheck, they deducted twice the normal tax amount for 社会保険 [shakai hoken; health and pension insurance] and three times the normal amount for 住民税 [juuminzei; local residency taxes]、helping themselves to an extra over ８万円 [80,000 yen]。 Have you heard of such a situation before? The fact that I can’t find any information about such a “moving tax” or get clear answers strikes me as very strange. If you have a moment, I’d be very glad to know your thoughts.
MY THOUGHTS: Not sure. Anyone out there with this experience who figured out what was going on?
A Shibuya Police poster reads:
WE ARE ASKING FOR INFORMATION FROM MINPAKU HOSTELERS
“Minpaku” is defined as the service of offering paid accommodation using empty rooms etc. from individual homes.
To prevent terrorism and for the success of the Olympics, we need information from everyone
We are especially asking for information from individually-standing homes doing Minpaku.
Please call the Shibuya Police Department, Head of Crime Prevention, at 3498-0110 ext 2612.
That’s the literal translation of the text. Note how there is no reference whatsoever textually about foreigners. However, contextually, in the margins there are illustrations of eight racialized “foreigners” of ostensibly European, African, and Middle-Eastern extractions complete with differentiated eye color, hair color, skin color, and facial hair. Note how there is no representation of “Asian” foreigners, even though they make up the majority of Japan’s tourists. I guess they’re not the type that Shinjuku cops are looking for.
My comments about this are seasoned to the point of predictably: 1) Once again, Japan’s police are using racial profiling to determine who is a foreigner as well as a terrorist. 2) Japan’s police are rallying the public to do their bidding on unlawful activities (i.e., scaring them with the threat of terrorism into reporting their foreign lodgers to the police, which neither minpaku nor actual hotels are required to do). 3) The use and proliferation of racialized caricature seems to be normalized standard operating procedure with Japan’s police. (Why not? Nobody’s going to stop them when they keep Japan’s public constantly afraid of foreigners to the point of normalized targeting.) And 4), as I have written before, Japan is not mature enough as a society to host these international events, for the National Police Agency whips everyone up into a frenzy about foreign crime, hooliganism, and/or terrorism. And then the NPA uses the events to clamp down on civil liberties for everyone. Thus there is insufficient check and balance to keep these bunker-mentality bureaucrats from exaggerating their mandate. The Tokyo Olympics are still more than 4 years away. Expect even more of this embedded racism to surface into full-blown state-sponsored xenophobia in the meantime.
Watch this short video about Mitsuhashi Takaaki, a commentator, writer, TV personality, seminarist (juku), failed LDP candidate, and blogger about things he considers to be politics and economics. It shows how normalized bigotry is in Japan — to the point of silliness. Once you get past the stupid tic Mitsuhashi has with pushing up his eyeglasses (redolent of aspiring Hollywood wannabes of the 1910s-1930s who thought their cute catchphrase, gesture, or sneeze would fuel an entire career), you realize what he’s enabling: Japanese media to espouse xenophobia.
In the video he’s critical of PM Abe’s policies (ignorantly portraying Abe as a proponent of importing foreign labor in order to undercut Japanese workers’ salaries), but he goes beyond economics and into bigotry: about Chinese (depicted as invading hordes with queue hairstyles, where he claims that “80% are spies” [source, please?]) and foreigners in general (they will “destroy Japanese culture”). The research gets so sloppy that it reaches the point of silliness (they even misspelled TPP as “Trance Pacific Partnership”). Watch the video yourself, but not as a lunch digestion aid.
In the end, Mitsuhashi is just an IT dork relishing his time in the sun, riding a patriotic wave while dividing, “othering”, and bullying minorities for his own financial gain. Again, it’s one more indication that the long-awaited next generation of “more liberal Japanese” will be just as narrow-minded as the previous one.
Mainichi: The new hate speech law is what you might call a “principle law,” as it has no provisions for punishing violators. Furthermore, it only protects “those originally from nations outside this country” who are “living legally in Japan.” As such, it does not outlaw discrimination against Japanese citizens or foreigners applying for refugee status, among other groups. However, the supplementary resolution that accompanied passage of the law states, “It would be a mistake to believe that discrimination against groups not specifically mentioned in the law is forgivable.” I suppose we can say that the Diet essentially stated, “Discrimination is unforgiveable in Japan.” […]
I have read a paper based on research conducted outside Japan that showed that ethnically diverse workplaces produce more creative ideas than those dominated by a single race or nationality. In contrast to working with people who understand one another from the get-go, getting people with wildly varying perspectives and ways of thinking together in one place apparently sparks the easy flow of groundbreaking ideas.
So, talk to someone different than yourself. Even if that’s impossible right away, you will come to understand one another somehow. It’s time to put an end to knee-jerk hatreds, to discrimination and pushing away our fellow human beings. With the new hate speech law, Japan has finally become a country where we can say, “We will not tolerate discrimination.”
COMMENT: While this article is well-intentioned, and says most of the things that ought to be said, the tone is pretty unsophisticated (especially if you read the Japanese version — the English version has been leveled-up somewhat). I have always found it annoying how discussions of human rights in Japan generally drop down to the kindergarten level, where motherly homilies of “we’re all human beings”, “let’s just get along” and “talking to somebody different will solve everything” are so simplistic as to invite scoffing from bigots who simply won’t do that…
Today (June 17, 2016) marks the Tenth Anniversary of founding of the Debito.org Blog (as opposed to the Debito.org Website, which has been in existence this year for 20 years).
We’ve done a lot. As of today, Debito.org has 2605 blog posts, 29,537 read and approved comments from Debito.org Readers, and probably around a hundred published articles archived with links to sources here. It has been the archive for at least one Ph.D. research, and cited as the source for many more publications by independent scholars, researchers, and journalists.
The award-winning Debito.org website remains the online domain of record concerning human rights for Non-Japanese residents and Visible Minorities in Japan, and long may it continue.
Kyoto: The number of foreign laborers working illegally on farms across the nation rose threefold over the three year period ending in 2015, according to government data. The findings highlight the difficulties facing Japan’s agricultural sector, including labor shortages and the advanced age of many of the country’s farmers.
Among all the illegal foreign workers subject to deportation in 2015, the greatest number — 1,744 or 21.9 percent — had worked in the farming sector. That was up from 946 in 2014, 695 in 2013, and 592 in 2012, according to the Justice Ministry. The ministry also found illegal farm workers were “concentrated on farms in Ibaraki and Chiba prefectures, which are easily accessible from Tokyo.”
The average age of the nation’s farmers is now 66.4 years old, and the fact so many have no one to succeed them has become a serious social issue. “I just cannot keep my business afloat unless I hire (illegal laborers), even if it means breaking the law,” said a 62-year-old farmer in Ibaraki.
Comment from Submitter BGIO: I love the way that the headline is “Foreign laborers illegally working on farms in Japan increases sharply” when in reality it should have been more along the lines of “Japanese agricultural employers continue to flout trainee laws and illegally exploit foreign workers from developing countries”, or alternatively “percentage of foreign workers from developing countries exploited by Japanese agriculture sector worker rises to 7% (1,744 of 24,000) of those employed in ‘trainee’ scheme”. But then such headlines would require the type of objective and balanced media coverage than has long been missing in what has the temerity to call itself ‘journalism’ in this country.
Comment from Submitter JDG: If it wasn’t for the LDP letting it’s voters illegally employ NJ, those voters and their farming culture would be over! No wonder Ibaraki police are so crazy; they are being told one thing by the government and then expected to turn a blind eye to the NJ underpinning the local economy! That conflict of interest must be causing them trauma!
Debito.org is proud to announce that longtime friend and colleague Dr. Ivan P. Hall, author of the landmark books “Cartels of the Mind” and “Bamboozled: How America Loses the Intellectual Game with Japan”, has just come out with his latest book: “Happier Islams: Happier US Too!: Afghanistan: Then a Land Still at Peace. East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh): There, an Island of Toleration, 1958-1961”. It is his long-awaited memoir of being stationed as a young man with the USIS as a cultural attache.
Book Summary: As a fragile peace in Afghanistan breaks down once again in 2016, and as machete murders in broad daylight of progressive intellectuals by radical zealots erode the rare heritage of religious toleration in secularist Bangladesh, Ivan Hall with grace and wry wit brings back to life for us today – in a chronicle penned then and there – the now totally counterintuitive “Happier Islams” he experienced as a young cultural officer with the U.S. Information Service, sent out in 1958-1961 to promote America’s good name in Muslim South Asia.
In Kabul a half century ago Islam though forbiddingly traditional was still politically quiescent. In Dacca, East Pakistan (today’s Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh) a less rigid type of Islam had long accommodated its large Hindu minority. And a “Happier US,” too, as American diplomats worked in lightly guarded embassies, personal safety taken for granted, enjoying an individual and political popularity unthinkable throughout the Muslim world today.
Rare as a memoir by an active embassy officer (rather than scholar or journalist) about a still dictator-run Afghanistan totally at peace in the late 1950s, Hall’s story also offers a unique glimpse into Dacca’s lively America-savvy intelligentsia as of 1960. Illustrated by 200 color photos taken at the time, and updated with geopolitical backgrounders for his two posts then and now, Hall’s narrative also casts a critical eye on the bent of his USIS employer at the height of the Cold War for short-term political advocacy at the expense of long-term cultural ties. By way of contrast his prologue and epilogue limn the heartwarming American genius for private sector “cultural diplomacy he witnessed or took part in during his years “before and after,” in Europe and Japan.
Table of Contents:
1) “Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin” a mockumentary film by Primolandia Productions starring Debito Arudou, seeking Kickstarter funding for the next 30 days.
2) My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 98: “Police still unfettered by the law, or the truth.” June 6, 2016.
POLICING EVER TIGHTENING IN JAPAN
3) Telegraph: Tourists in Japan to use fingerprints as ‘currency’ instead of cash; another case of Gaijin as Guinea Pig
4) YouTube video of Tokyo Police using excessive force to subdue a Non-Japanese in public
5) Mainichi: LDP new Constitution draft differentiates between ‘big’ and ‘small’ human rights, the latter to be subordinated “in times of emergency”. Yeah, sure.
UPDATES BOTH GOOD AND BAD TO PAST ISSUES
6) JT: Diet passes Japan’s first law to curb hate speech. Hurrah, but.
7) The 2nd Great Gaijin Massacre in Japan’s education system, with 5-year contracts coming due in 2018 (2023 for uni profs).
8 ) GOJ busybodies hard at work alienating: Shinjuku Foreign Residents Manual assumes NJ criminal tendencies; Kyoto public notices “cultivate foreign tourist manners”
9) “Japan’s Under-Researched Visible Minorities: Applying Critical Race Theory to Racialization Dynamics in a Non-White Society”. Journal article in Washington University Global Studies Law Review 14(4) 2015
10) My previous Japan Times column JBC 97: “Enjoy your life in Japan, for the moments” (May 2, 2016)
Japan’s police are at it again: Lying about the law. A reader with the pseudonym Onur recently wrote to me about his experience in the city of Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, when he checked into a hotel. Even though Onur clearly indicated he was a legal resident of Japan with a domestic address, clerks demanded he present his passport for photocopying. They pointed to a sign issued by the Ibaraki Prefectural Police.
But that poster has three great big stripy lies: 1) “Every foreign guest must present their passport” 2) “which must be photocopied” 3) “under the Hotel Business Law” — which states none of these things. Not to mention that Japan’s registered foreign residents are not required to carry around passports anyway.
What’s particularly egregious about this sign is that the Japanese police know better — because we told them so a decade ago. The Japan Times first exposed how police were stretching their mandate in “Creating laws out of thin air,” Zeit Gist, March 8, 2005, and, later, two updates: “Ministry missive wrecks reception,” ZG, Oct. 18, 2005, and “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry,” Just Be Cause, July 6,2010.
It made an impact. Even the usually noncommittal U.S. Embassy took action, posting in their American Community Update of May 2005: “After we sought clarification, according to the Environmental Health Division, Health Service Bureau, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the new registration procedure at lodging facilities does not apply to foreigners who are residents of Japan but only to tourists and temporary visitors. If you write a Japanese address on the check-in sheet, hotels are not supposed to ask for your passport.”
Right. So why do the Ibaraki police still feel they can lie about the laws they are entrusted to uphold? Because … Ibaraki. I’ll get to that shortly…
The story: “Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin” is a mockumentary that focuses on a Caucasian expat living in Japan who, after receiving a blow to the head, wakes up believing that he is a member of an ultranationalist right wing group (the “uyoku dantai”). An idealistic amateur “director” (in the scheme of the mockumentary) is making a documentary film about this odd character because he believes that it will propel his own filmmaking career towards prominence. As the director and his subject’s views begin to diverge though, things begin to fall apart. “Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin” is a story about identity, delusion, myopic nationalism, ascendent conservative trends in Japan’s current government, other big words, and how those beliefs do not accurately reflect the political and social reality of Japanese society. Only the best ingredients for a controversial comedy. Starring Debito Arudou. Kickstarter funding support page link enclosed.