Kicking off my first installment of FUN FACTS–an occasional series of interesting articles blogged for posterity. Asahi Shinbun of Feb 7, 2007 talks about PM Abe’s vision of “doushuusei”, the consolidation of prefectures, to cut down on local government costs and maybe even devolve more power to self-sufficient local governments. If Japan’s 47 local governments were cut down to eleven regions, this would produce the following results…
Here’s an article which will hopefully start the pendelum swinging backwards on the whole “foreigners are potential criminals” starting point whenever NJ interact which the police. Some advice follows from the US Embassy (gleaned after a recent email exchange over yet another case of post-assault police negligence) which would have made my closing comments a little more informative.
Foreigners who turn to Japan’s justice system for help find themselves ignored. Is incompetence to blame—or racism?
METROPOLIS MAGAZINE #677 MARCH 16, 2007
By Oscar Johnson
It’s business as usual as Japan Inc. takes on the world’s political arenas with spin doctoring over “Comfort Women” etc., to feint with the left hand while fiddling with the right. Distract with snow jobs while whitewashing the historical record. Only this time I think we’ve got enough people on the ground over here who know what our government is doing for a change. David McNeill releases an excellent article for the Irish Times, while Norimitsu Onishi, on an incredible roll these days, continues unearthing for the New York Times.
Hi Blog. I’ve written a few essays on the problems with divorce in Japan in the past. (see artery site at http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#divorce Well, the BBC is projecting the same thing as I have: that yesterday’s pension reforms are going to bring about a few changes in the artificially low divorce rates in Japan. Wait and …
1) SAKANAKA ESSAY ON NEW FRAMEWORK FOR J IMMIGRATION POLICIES
2) KEIDANREN WANTS MORE FOREIGNERS
3) NIIGATA PREF CITY TO ABOLISH “NATIONALITY CLAUSE”
4) TOKYO GOVERNORSHIP HEATS UP: ASANO DECRIES ISHIHARA’S XENOPHOBIA
5) PM ABE: “OK OK, I APOLOGIZE FOR THE ‘COMFORT WOMEN’ ALREADY”. KINDA.
6) FOREIGN MINISTER ASO: DIPLOMACY AS A MATTER OF HAIR AND EYE COLOR
7) MANUAL: BEWARE FOREIGN P*NISES! WITH CHART OF SIZES
8) DEBITO.ORG UPDATES: KARA KIKAN, NATURALIZATION, APARTMENT “SHIKIKIN” REFUND
9) MEDIA UPDATES: JET INTERVIEW, DEBITO.ORG MAKES JAPANZINE’S BEST FOR 2007
10) 2-CHANNEL UPDATE: NISHIMURA WILL PAY FINES “ONLY ON PAIN OF DEATH”
11) CONCLUDING GAIJIN HANZAI ISSUE WITH JT AND J FOCUS ARTICLES
and finally… JAPANESE ONLY T-SHIRTS ALSO ON SALE IN FRONT OF JR TOKYO STATION
A LOT of optimism attended the birth of the UN Human Rights Council, created last year by a 170-4 vote of the General Assembly. Whereas the United States kept on the sidelines (and confirmed this month it would stay away), many Western states saw the new body as an improvement on the discredited Human Rights Commission it replaced. But now some of the commission’s critics are fretting that the Geneva-based council may prove only a little better, or perhaps even worse, than its predecessor…
Good news. Local newspaper Niigata Nippou reports that another city government, Jouetsu, intends to abolish the “Nationality Clause” (kokuseki joukou), the guideline enforced by many local, regional, and national government agencies that only citizens may hold administrative positions (kanrishoku) in the Japanese civil service. This echoes similar moves in other Niigata Prefecture cities, including the Niigata City government as well. Bravo.
Interview up at BigDaikon, with discussion, and JapanZine mentions Debito.org in their annual roundup of the best of the net on Japan in their March 2007 issue.
Trace the Arc of Abe, from denial to hair-splitting to no comment to deflection to apology through his cabinet. However, belated apologies like this (just by simple human nature, apologies tend to mean less when they come after being demanded, especially over a long duration) will have the irony of a similar debate: Just how much “coercion” was there behind this? And how does this affect the sincerity of the act? Stay tuned.
I participated in a strike on March 24 in downtown Sapporo (Minami 1 Nishi 3) organized by the National Union of General Workers–Tokyo Nanbu (http://www.nugw.org). Four long-term workers in Berlitz (branch now owned by ELS) were summarily fired without sufficient reason, in a pretty clear attempt at union busting. This was joined by two other strikes at Berlitz in Shinjuku and Fukuoka at the same time.
中東外交「青い目、金髪は駄目」＝人種引き合いに日本の貢献強調−麻生外相発言 ヤフーニュース 3月21日21時1分配信 時事通信 http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20070321-00000098-jij-pol 麻生太郎外相は21日午後、長崎県時津町で講演。日本独自の中東和平外交として、ヨルダン渓谷の開発を進める「平和と繁栄の回廊」構想に触れ、「米国人にできないことを日本がやっている。日本人というのは信用がある。青い目で金髪だったら多分駄目よ」と述べた。 外相は「われわれは幸いにして黄色い顔をしている。そこ（中東）で搾取をしてきたとか、ドンパチ、機関銃撃ったとか一回もない」と語った。中東での日本の貢献を強調するのが真意とみられるが、外交と人種や外見を重ね合わせた表現には欧米などから批判を受ける可能性がある。 最終更新:3月21日21時1分 ENDS
“Japan’s outspoken foreign minister said “blue-eyed, blond” Westerners probably would not be as successful as the Japanese in Middle East diplomacy. Aso: “Japan is doing what the Americans can’t do. The Japanese are trusted. It’s probably no good with blue eyes and blond hair,” he was quoted as saying by the papers, referring to projects in Jordan River Rift Valley initiated by Japan.” Along with more articles on Aso’s past and NYT Editorial of Feb 2006.
Now, for the first time, part of “Nyukan Senki” has been translated into English in the hopes that the outside world will better be able to follow, and perhaps even participate in the discussions, formal and informal, that are taking place in Japan. Readers lacking a deep familiarity with Japanese politics should understand that, within the official debate (a debate that human rights NGOs, liberal opposition politicians have little or no influence over and which foreigners are entirely absent) Sakanaka is far more concerned about the enactment of a humane but realistic immigration policy than many of the other politicians, bureaucrats, academics, and senior corporate leaders with similar levels of political clout.
Some odds and sods waiting to be webbed: Concluding articles to the GAIJIN HANZAI Case for posterity (Japan Times and Japan Focus), an article on how your overseas work can count towards a J pension (kara kikan), other countries’ attitudes towards citizenship (some deprive it at will, some sell it), and, yes, a handbook cautioning J women about foreign men because of drug use and penis size…
University of Hyogo and International University of Health and Welfare (Tochigi) are added to the more than 100 universities now blacklisted for bad employment practices. Also included is a resurrected essay on your employment rights after repeated contract renewals.
Yomiuri: Nishimura has up to now been the defendant in more than 50 civil suits nationwide, and the great majority of them have been losses for him. Unpaid damages and penalties assessed for not following injunctions and court rulings have now amassed to around 5 million dollars US. However, Nishimura has hardly ever paid up. Justifying this, Nishimura said, “If you turn deadbeat, nobody’s going to make you pay. With rules as stupid as this country has, it would be idiotic to pay up.” Huh?
Asano criticized the incumbent, Shintaro Ishihara, for his repeated discriminatory remarks against people of different nationalities, particularly Chinese and Koreans. “It’s a big problem that the governor of Tokyo pointed the finger at specific nationalities and (suggested) the majority of them are criminals,” said Asano, a former Miyagi governor. “Many foreign nationals live in Tokyo because they love Japan. They also pay taxes here, and we shouldn’t ignore that,” he said. “What will be important is to come up with ways in which we can provide opportunities for them to make full use of their strength for Tokyo and Japan.”
1) “JAPANESE ONLY” SIGNS: “PURE-BLOODED JAPANESE ONLY–NO WAR ORPHANS etc.”
2) GAIJIN HANZAI MAG UPDATE: WERE THE POLICE BEHIND IT?
I SPECULATE YES, IN BOTH JAPAN TIMES (TOMORROW) AND ON JAPAN FOCUS
3) 2-CHANNEL UPDATE: NOW 43 CASES OF LIBEL LEFT UNREQUITED
4) CONFUSED BY COMFORT WOMEN DEBATE? THE DEFINITIVE ARTICLE ON JAPAN FOCUS
5) TRANS-PACIFIC RADIO INTERVIEW RE KOKUSAIKA, POLITICS etc.
6) NEW BATCH OF “JAPANESE ONLY” T-SHIRTS NOW ON SALE
The Japanese Business Federation, Keidanren, has recommended to the government that the immigration
requirements for foreign engineers’ visas be relaxed, to encourage a larger number of people to come work here, particularly in IT.
As the debate intensifies over allowing more foreign workers into Japan to make up for the coming labor shortage, human rights groups have recently stepped up efforts to push for a law against discrimination. Yet despite calls from not only human rights nongovernmental organizations but also the United Nations for such a law, the central government says separate legislation is not needed because the Constitution provides sufficient protection against discrimination. “You can’t talk about a truly effective policy for bringing in more foreign laborers without including the need for an antidiscrimination law that offers them legal protection once they settle in Japan,” said Masao Niwa, an Osaka-based human rights attorney and a leading advocate for such a law.
Hi Blog. Here’s a pretty much perfect article on the “Comfort Women” Issue at Japan Focus, which ties everything we need for this debate together: The USG and GOJ’s reaction to the issue, the UN’s reports, the background of the primary agents in the process of denial, and all contextualized within a comparison of Nazi …
–HI BLOG. FORWARDING A THOUGHTFUL POST FROM “THE COMMUNITY” MAILING LIST. AUTHOR IS MATT DIOGUARDI. DEBITO IN SAPPORO On Feb 28, 2007, at 1:12 PM, Kirk Masden wrote: I don’t know if Abe will be made to regret it but he should be. Abe’s defense strikes me as more problematic than the original gaff. Abe …
SUPPORT THE CAUSE RAISE AWARENESS OF THE ISSUE BUY A “JAPANESE ONLY” T-SHIRT Hi Blog. Thanks to the quick sell-out of the first salvo (thanks everyone!), I just got a new batch of “JAPANESE ONLY” T-shirts in yesterday (thanks Todd): They come in the following colors and sizes: BLUE: American sizes (i.e. larger than corresponding …
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 13, 2007: SPECIAL EDITION: THE “COMFORT WOMEN” ISSUE, PM ABE, AND THE MEDIA: SUPPORTING THE HOME TEAM AT ALL COSTS
I believe what happened in the GAIJIN HANZAI mag case is an historical event–the first time we’ve seen the “Newcomer” immigrants band together and show their muscle as an economic bloc. In an upcoming essay on this, I also speculate on who the publisher, “Joey H. Washington”, is. I believe it is the police. Hear me out…
Hello Blog. The Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments in Japan, with signs and policies restricting or forbidding “foreigners” entry, has just been updated on Debito.org. One place refused a naturalized Japanese, another has a sign refusing all people without “pure Japanese blood”, including Chinese, War Orphans, people with Chinese blood mixed in, and naturalized citizens. That deals me out. It’s the worst sign I’ve ever seen, and naturally I’ve seen a lot.
Two nice Washington Times articles on issues we’re covering on this blog: UN Rep Doudou Diene’s recent Japan visit, and the forces working against Japan’s inevitable internationalization (including Ed Minister Ibuki’s comments, PM Abe’s support of Japan’s alleged homogeneity, and “Japanese Only” signs nationwide). Bravo.
Trans-Pacific Radio March 8, 2007 interviews Debito Arudou. Debito touches upon how he came to be a social activist, the cultural politics of Japanese identity, acceptance of him as a Japanese and his work in the Japanese and foreign communities, Japan’s educational system, the ‘Japanese Only’ phenomenon, Education Minister Ibuki Bunmei, human rights and butter, the state of the Democratic Party of Japan, what sort of law against discrimination he would like to see in Japan…and his hopes for Japan’s future.
Terrie’s Take of March 4, 2007, offers a good summary of the issues pertaining to the growing body of information regarding divorce in Japan and the horrible aftermath, particularly for international couples.
Hiroyuki Nishimura, the operator of the nation’s largest Internet message board, 2channel, has lost at least 43 of more than 50 civil lawsuits filed against him in Tokyo and elsewhere over defamation and other charges, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.
ブロクの皆様、こんにちは。日本語でお久しぶりです。２ちゃんねるはここまで誹謗で被害を起していますが、責任者は責任を取らぬ。いつごろ日本は司法府をきちんと拘束力を与えられますか。 いきさつは http://www.debito.org/?cat=21 http://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html 有道 出人 ＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝ ２ちゃんねる管理者、敗訴４３件も制裁金４億円不払い 読売新聞 2007年3月5日14時30分 http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20070305it05.htm?from=top インターネット掲示板「２ちゃんねる」への誹謗（ひぼう）中傷の書き込みなどを巡り、管理者西村博之氏（３０）を相手取り、名誉棄損などを訴える民事訴訟が全国で５０件以上起こされ、少なくとも４３件で西村氏側の敗訴が確定していることが読売新聞の調べでわかった。 この結果、西村氏に命じられた賠償額は約５８００万円、仮処分命令などに従わないことによる「制裁金」が１日当たり約８８万円、累計約４億３４００万円に上るが、西村氏が自ら支払いに応じたケースはほとんどないと見られる。原告側は勝訴にもかかわらず賠償を得られない状態で、ネットの無法状態と司法の限界が露呈した形だ。 西村氏に対する訴訟は２００１年以降、東京地裁だけで５０件以上が起こされ、うち４０件の敗訴が確定。ほかにも札幌、大阪、神戸の各地裁で計３件の敗訴が確定している。 訴えの内容は、〈１〉書き込みの削除請求〈２〉プロバイダー責任法に基づく、書き込んだ人の発信者情報の開示請求〈３〉書き込みを放置した管理者責任を問う損害賠償請求——がほとんどだ。このうち、０１年７月に東京都内の動物病院経営者が「えげつない病院」などと書き込まれたとして提訴した訴訟では、４００万円の賠償命令が確定。昨年１月にも、北海道の大学助教授が「人種差別者」「精神異常者」などと書き込まれたとして賠償を求めた訴訟で、１１０万円の賠償を命じた判決が確定している。 西村氏は多くの裁判で弁護士を付けず、裁判を欠席しているため、原告側請求を認める判決がほとんど。また西村氏は控訴などを余りしないため、敗訴確定が相次いでいる。 読売新聞の調査によると西村氏は、書き込み削除請求のうち１１件、開示請求のうち３件には、裁判所の命令に応じた。 しかし賠償金支払いを命じられた２１件で自ら賠償金を支払ったケースはなかった。このため９件の原告側は、西村氏の財産を差し押さえようと強制執行の手続きを取った。しかし回収できたのは、４件計三百数十万円にとどまっている。 差し押さえがうまくいかないのは、西村氏名義の銀行口座を突き止めても残高が少なかったり、西村氏が取締役を務める会社から「役員報酬は払っていない」と回答されたりしたため。 書き込み削除や情報開示については、当事者が仮処分を申し立てることが多い。被告が判決や仮処分命令に従わない場合は、裁判所が原告側の請求に基づき、命令に従うまで１日当たり一定額の制裁金支払いを義務付ける「間接強制」を行うことがある。 西村氏に間接強制が適用されたケースは確認できただけで５件。現在、１日約８８万円の支払い義務が発生しており、３月１日現在の累計は４億３４００万円に膨らんでいる。 読売新聞は西村氏に対し２月下旬以降、電子メールで取材を申し込んでいるが、返答がない。 （2007年3月5日14時30分 読売新聞） ENDS
Passing this on from Louis Carlet, a close personal friend of mine and one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever met. I have attended the past two “March in March”es (they’re great fun), and recommend that you do too if you care about Immigration to Japan and your job security. Seriously. Bloggers, pass this information around!
Now the Western media has their peg to unzip the Abe Adminstration’s overt right-wing historical revisionist bent. Newsweek did a puff piece on Abe’s wife (comparing her to Jackie O) not too long ago, sigh. Now Abe undoes her image control with these revelations. NYT and Time Magazine aritcles follow. Remember that Abe tried this on NHK in 2001 before he was PM, forcing NHK to re-edit a historical piece involving the Comfort Women some years ago. J Times Sources included, as well as an update showing Abe backpedalling and containing links to statements before the US Congress on this issue. Go Mike Honda, go! More updates include March 7 Kyodo article as the GOJ continues to make a hash of the issue, and NYT interviews victims March 8. Then Abe blames the media for misconstruing him and clams up. NYT editorial and Kouno Statement of 1993 included. As well as lots more media debate and academic analysis.
LINKS TO RECENT SPEECHES AND HANDOUTS
along with FCCJ SPEECH WITH UN RAPPORTEUR DOUDOU DIENE TRANSCRIPT
2) BUTTER AND METABOLIC SYNDROME: IBUKI AND PM ABE DISS HUMAN RIGHTS
along with DIENE’S COUNTERCOMMENT: SCOOP FOR JAPAN TIMES
3) WHAT OTHER SOCIETIES DO ABOUT DISCRIMINATION: JAPAN, TAKE NOTE
4) JAPAN TIMES ON MYTH OF JAPAN’S CRIME WAVE. HOW THE POLICE AND MEDIA ABET
5) ASAHI: TOKYO JH SCHOOL REFUSES CHILD ADMISSION FOR BEING FOREIGN
6) ASAHI: NEED TO BROADEN DEFINITION OF “JAPANESE”
The first case is about hate speech in the US, where somebody wrote an essay for a prominent media outlet on why he hates black people. Look at how other media and the anti-defamation leagues (not to mention national politicians) immediately pounced on it.
You don’t see that happening often enough in Japan–and when human rights groups and activists like us do react (often successfully), we get accused of “Western moralizing” (a la Gregory Clark), cultural imperialism, or worse of all censorship or denial of freedom of speech.
The US, for one, has long progressed beyond that. They don’t necessarily arrest the perpetrator, but in the following case, the media and pundits came through to debate him down.
In a similar example in Japan, the GAIJIN HANZAI magazine, the Japanese press just about completely ignored it, and it was up to us domestic bloggers and activists to tell the distributors to disavow. Which they did, eventually. But it wouldn’t have happened otherwise, because civil society is not sufficiently developed here (not to mention is suppressed by “press club” media cartels, even more so than in the US) to set things right and make the debate arena a fair fight.
This is what prominent J politicians (even people like Education Minister Ibuki Bunmei–contrast with Nancy Pelosi below) would pooh-pooh as “human rights metabolic syndrome”? Phooey. I think it’s time, given Bunmei’s Butter comments, for people to realize that Japan’s suffering from too few human rights enforcement mechanisms, not too many. This is what people should be doing in any society.
Here’s another section on what other societies do regarding unfair or unequal treatment: The local government’s human rights protection organs investigate and make the issue public. Unlike Japan, where the similar human rights organ, the Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougo bu) is all but utterly ineffectual. As is the expose press coverage.
“Currently, the most important law on education in Japan, as well as the very Constitution, does not guarantee the right to education for children with foreign nationalities. Our eldest daughter, who has only Brazilian nationality, was once denied entrance to a public junior high school in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, when trying to transfer from a school in Brazil at the age 15 in the ninth grade. Officials said our daughter was a year older than the proper age for obligatory education. They explained that exceptions cannot be made because the obligatory education system does not apply to a child without Japanese nationality.”
Ed Minister Ibuki Bunmei and PM Abe are joined at the hip on this issue, where Ibuki says that paying too much attention to human rights will be detrimental to Japanese society (comparing it to ingesting too much butter and getting Metabolic Syndrome). Oh, and some racial purity comments thrown in as well. Back to business at usual by the clowns in the LDP. Asahi, JT, Daily Telegraph, Kyodo report, with links to UN and Amnesty comments
Exclusive to the Japan Times: Quotes from UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene re Ibuki Bunmei’s dismissive remarks about human rights.
Transcript of Luncheon with UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene and Arudou Debito, Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, Feb 16, 2007. Now reformatted with links, addendum, and photo.
Tokyo Speech Details: Luncheon at FCCJ with UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene, “Racial Discrimination in Japan: Is Anything Changing?” Speech for Amnesty International Group 78 “2 Channel and Freedom of Speech”. Finally, Speech for Roppongi Bar Association: “Foreign Residents and the Japanese Legal System”.
After receiving more than 10 complaints, Family Mart took a closer look at the magazine. “When we read it, we found some expressions to be discriminatory and decided to stop selling the book,” said the spokesman, who spoke on condition oanonymity. On Feb. 5, the firm ordered all its 6,800 outlets nationwide to remove the
magazine from the shelves and shipped them back to Eichi. It said that of the 15,000 copies in stock — of the 20,000 to 30,000 that had been printed — 1,000 were sold.
Hi Blog. Updated a section of my “What do do if…” artery site, where people can troubleshoot for some problems which may arise for them while living in Japan. The most recent addition as follows: Debito http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#deposit ///////////////////////////////////////////////////// WHAT TO DO IF… …you want to get your deposit (shikikin) back from your landlord when moving …
“In March of 2005, after overstaying their visas, the family of VU VAN THANG applied for special permission to remain in Japan. Their applications are currently being reviewed by the Kobe branch of the Department of Immigration… I strongly urge you to grant visas to these fine people, and allow them to continue to dwell in Japan and contribute to a healthy multicultural society.”
Last week, The Japan Times ran a Bloomberg interview with Shintaro Ishihara in which the proudly provocative Tokyo governor followed up his contention that foreigners were behind the city’s rising crime rate. He challenged his interviewers to go to Roppongi and see for themselves. “Africans — and I don’t mean African-Americans — who don’t speak English are there doing who knows what,” he said.
You expect such careless bluster from Ishihara, but his statement deserves scrutiny. One explanation for the governor’s popularity is the way he is seen to reflect what his supporters think is common sense. What are non-American black people doing in Japan? It must be something bad…
Hi Blog. Side by side with the United Nations. It’s like a dream. Wish me luck. Hope I do well. Debito ============================ THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS CLUB OF JAPAN (FCCJ) PRESENTS: Professional Luncheon Debito Arudou & Doudou Diene Racism In Japan – Is Anything Changing? 12:00-14:00 Monday, February 26, 2007 (The speech and Q & A …