Allegations that GOJ’s Hello Work refuses NJ applicants, as evidenced by “Japanese Only” employer Zeus Enterprise of Tokyo Ginza

Yoshikawa: Hello Debito, I’m a Chinese-Canadian living in Japan and I am very supportive of your effort on anti-racism in Japan.

You mentioned in your website that you welcome people to submit “Japanese only” signs if they see one. So I decided to do so although this is from a company website on recruiting, not an actual shop sign.

I’m currently in the middle of looking for a job. I’ve been living in Japan for 10 years and because of my Asian look, Japanese language skill, and my adopted Japanese last name (from my wife), I have been facing less discrimination when applying a job, compared to many other foreigners. However every time when I visit the hellowork’s foreigner section, I can always hear some employers routinely refusing applications from foreign residents, especially those from regions such as Africa, Middle East, and Southeast Asia. The foreign residents section itself is a discriminatory practice too as foreign residents have no other choice but are required to visit a segregated “foreigner section”, even though in my case I do not need any language interpretation or counselling on Japanese life.

When I visited hellowork last week, as usual I have the staff phoning hiring businesses to introduce me as an applicant. Because all the jobs I apply require high level of trilingual (English, Japanese, Chinese) skill, most companies do not mind my background as a foreigner, however Zeus Enterprise, upon hearing that I’m a foreigner from the hellowork staff, rejected me as a valid applicant, saying that this position is for “Japanese only”…

Yomiuri: GOJ sky-pie policy proposes to deal with rural population decrease with resettlement info websites, and robots!

Yomiuri: In an effort to address population declines in provincial areas, the government plans to create a database to provide people thinking of moving from urban to regional areas with information about potential destinations, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned. The government hopes to encourage more urbanites to move to regional areas by making it possible for them to extensively search for information on such issues as residency and welfare services anywhere in the country…

The government plans to promote the development of robots for use in the service industry, such as at hotels and pubs, to cope with the industry’s worsening problems of labor shortages and heavy workloads, according to sources. In September, the government is expected to establish a panel dubbed the “committee for the realization of the robot revolution,” which will comprise manufacturers and users of robots, and plans to subsidize programs judged to have bright prospects.

COMMENT: Of course, the Yomiuri diligently types it down and offers it up uncritically, with the typical pride of showing off “Japan’s stuff”. The policy assumption is that if you offer people information, they’ll magically want to move out to the countryside — up to now they were just chary because they didn’t know where they could get an onigiri in Nakamura-son, Inaka-Ken.

That’s unrealistic. It’s not a matter of lack of information. It’s a matter of lack of economic opportunity for Japan’s largely white-collar labor force (the “potential migrants” being mentioned, of course, are Japanese) being offered out in The Boonies. Hasn’t the GOJ gotten the memo yet after more than a quarter century of Japanese turning their noses away from 3K blue-collar work? Not to mention the inevitable “Taro-come-lately” outsider treatment from the locals that greets many Japanese urbanites deciding to move out of the cities? Fact is, Japan’s ruralities are even giving their land away for FREE, and it’s not stemming the exodus from.

Moreover, how about that other proposal below of introducing more robots in service areas to produce the 3K stuff? Laced within that Industrial Policy is an appeal to national pride, as in Japan’s future as a world leader in robot use (without the actual substance of practicality behind it). Ooh, our robots can produce bentos? Can yours, France? Then what: build robots to consume what robots produce? No matter what, offering robots as replacements for humans in the labor market inevitably overlooks how this does nothing to revitalize Japan’s taxpayer base, because ROBOTS DO NOT PAY TAXES.

There is another option, the unmentionable: Immigrants assuming the mantle of Japan’s farming economy and rural maintenance. No, you see, that would be a security risk. Too high a local foreign population would mean those areas might secede from Japan! (Seriously, that is the argument made.)…

Amazing new Cabinet survey finds “81% welcome ‘foreigners’ of Japanese descent”. Festival of cognitive dissonance!

Kyodo: More than 80 percent of respondents in a new poll said they are open to foreign nationals of Japanese descent living in the nation, the Cabinet Office reported. The office’s first survey of its kind, released Thursday, found 80.9 percent of respondents expressed openness to living alongside those with Japanese ancestry, including Brazilian and Peruvian descendents of Japanese immigrants. Only 12.9 percent opposed the idea.

JDG: “It’s a brilliantly pointless piece of reporting, for the sake of massaging the egos of the Japanese readers, and assuring them that Japan is a ‘modern’ country… J-public are finally willing to accept foreigners… as long as they are ‘Japanese’ foreigners… I feel like I have gone back in time 5 years. The same politicians are back, the same old economic policies are back, and now Japan wants all those Nikkeijin they paid to go home, to come back too?”

RM: Hopefully government officials will use this survey to promote further initiatives to empower the Nikkei (and hopefully other non-Japanese) in Japan. Publicly conducting the survey, posting it on the Cabinet Office website, and releasing it to the press, may indicate that the government is testing public support for such initiatives.

DEBITO: Bingo! As has been noted before on Debito.org, the Cabinet, in its sessions last summer on how to “accept” NJ into Japanese society for future economic vitality, only showed interest in the treatment of Nikkei. Nikkei, you see, are somehow part of “us” (due to Wajin blood conceits), and it looks like Japan’s policymakers are going to give the old failed Nikkei worker importation strategy another try, and cite this “shooting fish in a barrel” survey to support it.

Anyway, if the Cabinet is so keen on taking surveys, how about its perpetually embarrassing (and, as I’ve reported in the Japan Times, very flawed) Cabinet Survey on Human Rights that it conducts every four years? I just found the 2012 version, a year late, made public with significantly less fanfare. Perhaps because the results in the past were far more revealing about Japan’s cognitive dissonance regarding human rights, meaning a large proportion don’t support granting equal human rights to foreign humans! You see, human rights for NJ, by the very nature of having to ask this kind of question, are optional in Japan. Less so, it would seem based upon this new Cabinet survey, for the “foreigners” with the right bloodline. Which is the conceit that this new Cabinet survey is pandering to.

Ultimately, I believe the GOJ will once again fall into the same old shortsightedness (like so many other societies) of wanting “workers” only to discover later they brought in “people”. And then, as before, society will seek to denigrate if not get rid of them as soon as they actually have needs (such as health care to provide, children to educate, lifestyles that reflect their backgrounds, retirement pensions to pay, political power to cede) that run counter to the original national plans…

GOJ embryonic policymaking reboot for “co-existence with foreigners”: Some good stuff, but once again, policy about NJ without any input from them

John Morris at H-JAPAN: A committee has been set up within the Cabinet Office of Japan, composed of the vice-ministers of the Cabinet Secretariat, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Ministiry of Law, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Education etc, Health etc, Agricutlure etc, Industry etc, Land etc, Police to investigate and recommend policy on “co-existence with foreigners”. Information on the committee can be found at the following URL:
http://www.cas.go.jp/jp/seisaku/kyousei/index.html
The documentation provided here gives a very succinct summary of what the government (national level bureaucrats?) of Japan think about “foreigners” here, and how they formulate their perceptions of what the “problems” are, and very vaguely hint at where they see future solutions.

SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS: This is not the first time the organs of the Japanese government have talked about “coexistence with foreigners” (gaikokujin to no kyousei shakai jitsugen), but more likely than not these happen at the local level (cf. the Hamamatsu Sengen, which happened repeatedly from over a decade ago yet was studiously ignored at the national level). Now that discussion on this is taking place at the national, Cabinet level, this is a positive development. However, these meetings (two so far, the first one was less than an hour) at the outset show the hallmarks of so much Japanese policymaking: a biased agenda (with all the normalized invective of “wagakuni” (our country) semantically offsetting those foreigners (who have to “co-exist” with Japanese, not merge into one polity)) regarding the policy treatment of people without any input from the people being treated. Inevitable blind spots, such as an overemphasis on Nikkei and children’s education, are already latent in the materials below. In any case, this is a very interesting and rare view into the dialogs and mindsets behind the creation of public policy re NJ in Japan. More detailed summaries and analysis follow below.

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Dec. 6, 2011, on the effects of a lack of “fairness” as a strong cultural value in Japan

JBC: These past few columns have addressed fundamentally bad habits in Japanese society that impede positive social change. Last month I talked about public trust being eroded by social conventions that permit (even applaud) the systematic practice of lying in public.

This month, let’s discuss the lack of cultural value invested in “fairness.”… The point is, you are simply less human in Japan without Japanese nationality, and institutional practices back that up.

One reason these practices can be perpetuated is that the Japanese public tacitly (and not so tacitly) acquiesces to them, instead of reflexively helping foreigners fight against them. I believe the root cause is how little cultural value is generally assigned to “fairness.”…

Only an ironclad guarantee of “fairness,” a cornerstone of liberal societies and held in as high regard as “Do unto others . . .” will ensure equal opportunity and essential civil, political and human rights. One has to believe this, and have it promoted constantly in the public arena to raise awareness, until it too becomes an unquestioned given….

That’s simply not the expectation in a society as rigidly hierarchical as Japan’s, hard-wired to see shades of superior and subordinate in just about every possible interaction (down to the linguistics).

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 18, 2011

Table of Contents:
DEEP THOUGHTS FROM DEEP THINKERS
1) M.G. “Bucky” Sheftall academic paper on “Shattered Gods” and the dying mythology of “Japaneseness”
2) Peter Tasker in Foreign Policy Magazine: “Japan will rebuild, but not how you think”.
Takes opportunity of Japan’s worst postwar disaster to re-advance outmoded Chrysanthemum Club-ism.
3) Terrie’s Take on how Japanese companies are too “addicted” to cheap Chinese “Trainee” labor to hire unemployed Japanese
4) Donald Keene prattles on about why he’s naturalizing in SAPIO, even takes a cheap shot at NJ
5) Tokyo Gov Ishihara bids for 2020 Olympics through earthquake sympathy vote; also calls for Japan to have nukes, military conscription, and military-led government

THE MONTHLY MODICUM OF BAD SOCIAL SCIENCE
6) Bad social paradigms encouraging bad social science: UC Berkeley prof idiotically counts “flyjin” for H-Japan listserv
7) Reuters Expose: Japan’s ‘throwaway’ nuclear workers, including NJ “temporary temps”
8 ) 2011’s annual GOJ Spot the Illegal Alien campaign enlists Tokyo Metro, deputizes general public with posters of cute and compliant NJ

LET’S NOT LEAVE OUT EXCLUSIONISM
9) Zaitokukai Neonazis march in Tokyo Shibuya July 9, 2011, with ugly invective
10) BV inter alia on J bureaucrat exclusionary attitudes when registering his newborn multicultural child at Shibuya Kuyakusho
11) Mark Austin reports that Otaru, site of the famous onsen lawsuit, still has a “Japanese Only” establishment, “Monika”
12) Kyodo: Soccer S-Pulse coach Ghotbi wants to meet banned fans over racial banner
13) Joel Legendre-Koizumi on the J media’s blackout on PM Kan’s proposals

PORTENTS OF THE FUTURE
14) Adidas assesses the “history of poor treatment of migrant workers in Japan”, now monitoring JITCO in conjunction with other major overseas outsourcers
15) US State Department report 2011: “Japan’s Foreign trainee program ‘like human trafficking'”
16) Asahi: NJ Nurse trainees leave Japan despite 1-year extension to taking qualifying test
17) Quoted in Asia Weekly: “Falling birthrate, rising life expectancy afflict Japan”
18 ) Child Abductions Issue: How Japan’s debate on defining “Domestic Violence”, the loophole in enforcing the Hague Treaty, is heading in the wrong direction
19) Weekend Tangent: The euphoria of collective attack and parental alienation syndrome

PODCASTS
20) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 14 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on naturalizing in Japan (part 1 of 3)
21) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 21 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on J naturalization process (part 2 of 3)
22) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 28 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on naturalizing and name changes in Japan (part 3 of 3)
23) PODCAST: NPR All Things Considered on Arudou Debito’s naturalization July 3, 2003
24) PODCAST: NPR All Things Considered on Brooklynite Anthony Bianchi’s election to Inuyama City Council, April 30, 2003
25) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JULY 1, 2011: FCCJ Book Break on IN APPROPRIATE, June 28, 2011

… and finally…
26) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column July 5, 2011: “Lives such as Daniel’s deserve to be honored in these pages”

Terrie’s Take on how Japanese companies are too “addicted” to cheap Chinese “Trainee” labor to hire unemployed Japanese

Received this this morning from Terrie Lloyd. Very much worth reading, as it shows the damage done by the market aberration (if you believe in free markets as the final arbiter of fairness) of holding labor costs artificially low — you get resistance to ever raising them again once business gets used to those costs as being “normal”. As wages and working conditions in Japan continue their race to the bottom, it seems that two decades of NJ “Trainee” near-slave and slave labor will come back to haunt the Japanese economy after all.

Terrie Lloyd: According to an article in the Japan Times on Thursday, quoting numbers from a Labor Ministry report released earlier in the week, there are now 2.02m people in Japan receiving welfare checks, more than any time since 1952. “Welfare” in Japan is apparently defined as financial assistance offered by the government to a household when its total income falls below the national minimum.

Presumably a big contributor to this record number of needy people has been the Great East Japan earthquake in March. The level of joblessness has soared to around 90% of employable survivors in the worst hit areas, and by the end of May about 110,000 were out of work and applying for the dole at various Hello Work offices in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures.

So, one would think that with this excess capacity of workers, many of whom are from the agricultural, fisheries, and manufacturing industries, juxtaposed with the phenomenon of disappearing Chinese trainee workers from factories around the same regions, less than half of whom are yet to return, that there would be a slew of local hirings to make up the shortfall. Certainly after the Chinese trainees fled the disaster areas, there were plenty of news reports of employers grumpily saying, “We can’t trust Chinese employees, next time we’ll hire locals.”

But are they following through with local hiring offers? Our guess is “not”.

The reason is because a Japanese breadwinner from Iwate on unemployment, or even welfare, can still receive 2-5 times more than the Chinese trainees do for the same jobs. The factory and farm operators may grizzle about their “unreliable” Chinese employees, but without this source of ultra-cheap labor, they have no way of being able to compete with the flood of goods and produce coming in from China itself. The fact is that thousands of small companies all over Japan are addicted to cheap trainee labor from China and elsewhere, and to go local they would soon go out of business….

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 1, 2010

Table of Contents:
NOW THAT’S MORE LIKE IT…
1) Economist London on corrupt public prosecutors in Japan
2) Not only China, Japan eyes India for tourist influx, eases visas
3) CRNJapan’s checklist for avoiding J child abductions during marital problems
4) Weekend Tangent: What Canada does about racial slurs and abuse in public: jail time
5) Weekend Tangent: Discovering how cheap, yes cheap, parts of Japan are becoming
6) Yomiuri: Tokyo bathhouses scrub up to lure NJ visitors. My, how the worm turns. Why couldn’t they have done this ten years ago?
7) Referential website of note: Asia Pacific Memo at UBC

CHOTTO MATTA…!
8 ) Allegations that GOJ’s Hello Work refuses NJ applicants, as evidenced by “Japanese Only” employer Zeus Enterprise of Tokyo Ginza
9) JT’s Philip Brasor analyzes J media claims of bias towards Ichiro’s and Hakuho’s sports records
10) Mainichi & Asahi: “4 arrested for helping Cambodian men work illegally”. Odd, given shysterism of Trainee Visa program
11) NYT on Japan’s deflation: “Japan, Once Dynamic, Is Disheartened by Decline”
12) CJFF: Immigration raids Filipino family home, husband has heart attack
13) New Book: “In Defense of Japan: From the Market to the Military in Space Policy” by Pekkanen and Kallender-Umezu
14) CNNGo.com does odd article on “Controversial Activist David Schofill” and NJ refusals at hotels and onsens
15) NHK 7AM this morning: Offer coupons at Narita Airport to NJ with “preferential exchange rates”. The catch is…

BASTA!
16) Kyodo: Court overrules Oita Pref who tried to deny a 78-year-old NJ welfare benefits
BUT
17) Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.
18) Hate crimes in Fukui: Car burned, “Gaijin GET OUT” message left at local mosque; flagburning at Indian restaurant
19) Japan Times: Eikaiwa Gaba: “NJ instructors independent contractors w/o labor law coverage”, could become template for entire industry
20) Fukuoka General Union info site on how BOEs are outsourcing ALTs through dispatch companies, not through JET Programme
… and finally …
21) My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Tues Nov 2: How the “Cult of Japan’s Uniqueness and Homogeneity” interferes with good scholarship on Japan

Japan Times: Eikaiwa Gaba: “NJ instructors independent contractors w/o labor law coverage”, could become template for entire industry

Dovetailing with yesterday’s post on NJ’s treatment at unemployment agency Hello Work, here’s more on how weak their position can be when they ARE hired, in this case by Eikaiwa company Gaba, who says their NJ staff aren’t covered by Japanese labor laws:

JT: Instructors first formed a union in September 2007 and, according to union members, met with company representatives for talks. However, managers always refused to enter into serious negotiations, arguing the instructors were not employees and, as itaku — independent contractors — weren’t covered by Japanese labor laws.

Determining who qualifies as an employee and who can be classed as an independent contractor isn’t always clear. However, the method in which workers are scheduled and their place of work are important considerations…

In its financial report, the company argues that because it doesn’t designate working time or location and doesn’t give specific instructions for lesson content, it considers its instructors to be independent contractors…

Japan’s Statistics Bureau’s annual Labor Force Survey shows the number of nonregular workers has increased steadily since 1999, after the Japanese government started relaxing regulations to make it easier for companies to hire workers outside their regular employment system. In 1999, 25.6 percent of Japan’s labor force was classified as nonregular. By 2009 the figure had increased to 33.7 percent.

Employing instructors as independent contractors allows Gaba to reduce labor costs… Combs warns that instructors at other schools may also face being shifted to independent contractor status in the future.

“Gaba lowers the bar on the entire industry, and it will tempt other companies to try the same thing,” he says.

Ringin agrees that the stakes are high in the union’s battle with Gaba over the individual contractor issue.

“If Gaba gets away with using the itaku system, Berlitz and the other chains would be crazy not to follow.”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 24, 2010

Table of Contents:
INTERESTING VIEWS
1) Singapore Straits Times: Lee Kwan Yew advises Japan not to accept immigrants who don’t look Japanese
2) David McNeill interviews ultranationalist Sakurai Makoto, lays bare his illogical invective
3) Former J employees sue Prada for sexual and power harassment, TV claims “racial discrimination”
4) Yomiuri, Terrie’s Take offer thoughtful essays on easing language hurdles for NJ on a tight deadline, such as Filipine or Indonesian nurses
5) Further reading: Indonesian “care givers” and those pesky qualifying exams: a means to maintain “revolving door” NJ job market?
6) Times London on “Peter Rabbit Tax”: Optional 5GBP surcharge for Japanese tourists in England derided as “discriminatory”
7) Meat67 on “City of Urayasu Globalization Guidelines” Survey
8 ) Suraj Case of death during deportation makes The Economist (London)
9) JALT PALE NEWSLETTER May 2010 (pdf file)

NEWS YOU CAN USE
10) Terumi Club refuses NJ for travel fares and tours, has cheaper fares for Japanese Only. Like H.I.S. and No.1 Travel.
11) Takasago Hotel, Fukushima-ken, has “rooms all full” if lodger is NJ
12) Japan Times: Housing glut resulting in more assistance for NJ renters, e.g., Japan Property Management Association
13) Matthew Apple on how to take child care leave in Japan. Yes, even in Japan. Sanctioned by the GOJ.
14) Sunday Tangent: Cato Institute on dealing with police racial profiling in general
15) MOJ: Numbers of people naturalizing into Japan 1999-2008
16) NYT: More American Expatriates Give Up US Citizenship

… and finally …
17) DEBITO.ORG BLOG POLL: “What do you think about the whole Okinawa Futenma Issue?”

Matthew Apple on how to take child care leave in Japan. Yes, even in Japan. Sanctioned by the GOJ.

Excerpt: “My child care leave officially started on April 1, 2010, but the process of applying for leave started about half a year prior to that. Technically, I was required to give about one month’s notice before applying for leave, according to the Act on the Welfare of Workers Who Take Care of Children or Other Family Members Including Child Care and Family Care Leave (one of the longest names on record, perhaps?). However, I was asked in November, 2009, by the General Affairs Office of my school to check with my department head for “permission” to take child care leave.

Said permission notwithstanding, the General Affairs Chief promised me at the time that, in the event the Department Head refused or evaded, he was prepared to support me in my claim as to the legality of taking child care leave. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that, and I was given permission to apply for the leave.

At any rate, the conditions of the leave were that I had to be already employed for over 12 months, that I had to be able to continue working at the same company after the leave ended, and that I would not be paid at all during the leave. The last condition hurt; I was even told that not being paid during leave would additionally impact on my retirement pay from the school as well as national pension… Last week, I was further informed that I could receive some financial support from the government to help care for my daughter. The official form is administered by Hello Work (surprisingly), and all funds come from unemployment insurance. Basically, I get 30% of my base salary until my daughter turns one year old, and then six months after I go back to work, I get an additional 20% as a bonus.”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 7, 2010

SPECIAL ON THE UNITED NATIONS AND NGO FRANCA MARCH 2010 TOUR
UNITED NATIONS RAPPORTEUR BUSTAMANTE COMES TO TOWN MAR 23-31

1) UN CERD Recommendations to GOJ Mar 2010 CERD/C/JPN/CO/3-6, takes up our issues well
2) FRANCA meeting with UN Rep Bustamante yesterday: How it went, with photos
3) Table of Contents of FRANCA information folder to UN Rep Bustamante, Mar 23
4) Japan Times: UN Rep Bustamante meets Calderon Noriko, comments on GOJ harsh visa system that separates families
5) Assn of Korean Human Rights RYOM Munsong’s speech text to UN Rep Bustamante, Mar 23
6) Mar 31 UN Rep Bustamante’s Full Press Release on Japan’s Human Rights Record
7) Download audio podcast of UN Rep Bustamante Mar 31 press conference

MORE FRANCA WORKS, INCLUDING NGO JIPI INTERFACE
8 ) FRANCA Sendai Meeting Proceedings, Photos and Project Ideas
9) Mar 27 2010 NGO FRANCA Tokyo meeting minutes
10) NGO Japan Immigration Policy Institute requests information from, meetings with NJ Residents
11) March 29, 2010 FRANCA/JIPI speech on why Japan needs immigration: Download my powerpoint presentation (Japanese)
12) Going back: Japanese porkbarrel airports as “infrastructure in a vacuum”,
and how JR duped me into buying a train ticket to nowhere

… and finally …
13) Japan Times prints my speech to UN Rep Bustamante on “blind spot” re Japan immigrants

Debito.org Exclusive: Full UN Rapporteur Bustamante March 31 press conference on Japan’s human rights Mar 31 2010 downloadable here as a podcast

(Debito.org) TOKYO MARCH 31, 2010 — Dr Jorge A. Bustamante, United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants, gave an hourlong press conference at United Nations Information Center, United Nations University, Japan.

Assisted by the International Organization for Migration and Japan’s civil society groups, Dr Bustamante concluded nine days, March 23 to March 30, of a fact-finding mission around Japan, making stops in Tokyo, Yokohama, Hamamatsu, and Toyoda City. He met with representatives of various groups, including Zainichi Koreans, Chinese, Brazilians, Filipinos, women immigrants and their children, “Newcomer” immigrant and migrant Non-Japanese, and veterans of Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers.

He also met with Japanese government representatives, including the ministries of Education, Foreign Affairs, and Justice. He also met with local government officials in Hamamatsu City (including the Hamamatsu “Hello Work “ Unemployment Agency), the mayor of Toyoda City, and others.

He debriefed the Japanese Government today before his press conference.

The press conference can be heard in its entirety, from Dr Bustamante’s entrance to his exit, on the DEBITO.ORG PODCAST MARCH 31, 2010, downloadable from this blog entry. Duration: One hour five minutes. Unedited. I ask a question around minute 40.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 11, 2009

IMMIGRATION AND JAPAN’S FUTURE
1) DIJ Tokyo Symposium 2009: Japan’s Demographic Science overtaken by anti-immigration politics
2) Tokyo Trip June 2-5 overview, plus report on NJ nurses and caregiver program talks at DIJ
3) Asahi: More NJ “trainees”, “interns” face dismissal
4) Mainichi: Foreign researchers, tech experts may get preferential immigration treatment
5) Asahi on future of Japanese pension plans: oldies below poverty line
6) Sunday Tangent: Shinjuku-ku issues its own quadralingual guidebook to life in Tokyo
7) Protest IC Chipped Gaijin Cards every Tuesday anytime between 9AM-12:30PM, Diet Building, Tokyo

TANGENTS
8 ) Sunday Tangent: DPJ submits bill to limit seshuu seijika (hereditary politicians)
9) Japan Today Kuchikomi: Oddly includes NJ stats in article on gang rape at Kyoto U of Education
10) Sugaya Case: M-J on policing and Japanese jurisprudence

FOLLOW-UPS
11) Bankrupt Eikaiwa NOVA’s Saruhashi admits wrongdoing in court
12) Sumo Stablemaster gets his for Tokitaizan hazing death
13) More on fingerprinting, tracking people electronically, and RFID technology

… and finally…
14) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Jun 2 2009: “The issue that dares not speak its name” (full text)

Asahi: More NJ “trainees”, “interns” face dismissal

Asahi: During the five months until February, more than 1,500 trainees and interns returned to their countries without spending the full three years here.

These difficulties highlight the program’s lack of a sufficient safety net. Interns are required to pay for unemployment insurance, but they often find it hard to receive benefits…

According to Zhen Kai, who gives advice to foreign trainees and interns at the Gifu Ippan Rodo Kumiai, a Gifu-based labor union for workers at small businesses, an increasing number of interns are refusing to be let go before the end of their three-year stints.

They remain at corporate dormitories without pay while negotiating with their employers to have their dismissals reversed.

“The situation is grave,” Zhen said.

Canceling a worker’s training or internship in the middle is allowed only when a business goes bankrupt or is in serious trouble. Because of visa restrictions, interns technically work under an arrangement with organizations, such as local chambers of commerce and industry, that accept them for member companies.

This means that if fired at the midpoint in their training, they are not eligible to work for ordinary companies or receive new job information at Hello Work public job placement centers.

While a Justice Ministry guideline urges groups and businesses to find new jobs for their dismissed interns, in practice help is rare.

Revamped article on the Nikkei Repatriation Bribe

How has a government policy for a developed country disintegrated into something so ludicrous, where even officially sanctioned exclusionism has a hierarchy?…

Put bluntly, the policy is: train one percent (5,000) to stay; bribe the rest to go and become some other country’s problem. In fact, the government stands to save a great deal of money by paying the nikkei a pittance in plane fares and repatriation fees, while keeping their many years of pension contributions (usually about 15% of monthly salary). By using this economic sleight-of hand, offering desperate people short-term cash if they foresake their long-term investments, this anti-assimilation policy becomes profitable for the government, while beggaring foreigners’ retirements…

This is what happens when people are brought into a country by official government policy, yet for unofficial purposes at odds with official pledges. Japan has no immigration policy. It then becomes awkward for the government to make official pronouncements on how the new workforce is contributing to the economy, or why it should be allowed to stay. So the workforce remains in societal limbo. Then when things go wrong — in this case a tectonic macroeconomic shift — and the policy fails, it is the foreigners, not the government, who bear the brunt.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE: Apr 7 2009: ‘Golden parachutes’ for Nikkei only mark failure of race-based policy

Japan Times: Under an emergency measure drawn up by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party only last month, from April 1 the Japanese government is offering nikkei — i.e. workers of Japanese descent on “long-term resident” visas — a repatriation bribe. Applicants get ¥300,000, plus ¥200,000 for each family dependent, if they “return to their own country,” and bonuses if they go back sooner…

Let this scheme sink in for a minute. We now have close to half a million nikkei living here, some of whom have been here up to 20 years, paying in their taxes and social security. They worked long hours at low wages to keep our factories competitive in the world economy. Although these policies have doubled Japan’s foreign population since 1990, few foreigners have been assimilated. Now that markets have soured, foreigners are the first to be laid off, and their unassimilated status has made them unmarketable in the government’s eyes. So now policy has become, “Train 1 percent (5,000) to stay, bribe the rest to be gone and become some other country’s problem.”

Sound a bit odd? Now consider this: This scheme only applies to nikkei, not to other non-Japanese workers also here at Japan’s invitation. Thus it’s the ultimate failure of a “returnee visa” regime founded upon racist paradigms.

Audience reactions to documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES roadshow March 21-April 1

Some various and sundry thoughts on audience reactions to the excellent SOUR STRAWBERRIES documentary as we finish up the last screenings (thinking about another August-September tour, so book me if you’re interested), and consider what the movie may mean in the context of international labor migration. In sum, SOUR STRAWBERRIES may be a testiment to the last days of Japan’s internationalized industrial prowess, as people are being turfed out because no matter how many years and how much contribution, they don’t belong. Have to wait and see. But to me it’s clear the GOJ is still not getting beyond seeing NJ as work units as opposed to workers and people. Especially in these times of economic hardship. I’m seeing it for myself as the movie tours.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 16, 2009

Table of Contents:

=========================================================
BAD SCIENCE
1) Gregory Clark argues in Japan Times that “Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people”
2) Japan Times Zeit Gist followup on Dec’s Otaru Onsen lawsuit analysis
3) Sankei: A manual to help NJ “illegal overstays” evade police
4) Kyodo: Special unemployment office being studied, only for “NJ workers with PR”
5) AP/Guardian on Japan’s steepest population fall yet, excludes NJ from tally
6) Kyodo: NJ to be registered as family members (residents?) by 2012
7) AFP and Yomiuri: How to get around J border fingerprinting: Tape!
8 ) Tokyo High Court overrules lower court regarding murder of Lucie Blackman:
Obara Joji now guilty of “dismemberment and abandonment of a body”

BAD BUSINESS
9) German documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES preview, with Debito interview
10) Japan Times on NJ workers: No money for food or return flight
11) Japan Times on future J housing markets, tax regimes, and why J houses are built so crappily

MULTICULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS
12) Excellent Japan Times roundup on debate on J Nationality Law and proposed dual citizenship
13) Another excellent JT article on dual nationality and the conflicts within
14) Japan Times on international trends towards allowing citizens to become multinational
15) Economist on Japanese immigration and conservatism giving way
16) All registered NJ will in fact now get the 12,000 “economic stimulus” bribe
17) Japan Times Zeit Gist on Chinese/Japanese bilingual education in Japan

HOLIDAY TANGENTS
18 ) Xmas List: Ten things I think Japan does best
19) Retrospective: 10 things that made me think in 2008
20) Humor: Cracked Mag Online on unappetizing restaurants
21) Humor: Robin Williams stand-up comedy on Obama’s election
22) Humor: “Beware of the Doghouse”: For you men with thoughtless holiday gifts
23) History tangent: Japan Times FYI on Hokkaido development

… and finally…
24) Interview with Debito on TkyoSam’s Vlog: Shizzle!
=========================================================

All registered NJ will in fact now get the 12,000 “economic stimulus” bribe

After dallying with thoughts of excluding NJ taxpayers, then allowing only those NJ with Permanent Residency and Japanese spouses, the GOJ has just announced that all registered NJ will get the 12,000 yen-plus economic stimulus bribe. Seasons Greetings.

This is probably the first time NJ have ever been treated equally positively with citizens (save for, perhaps, access to Hello Work unemployment agency) with a voter stimulus package. See, it pays to complain.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 16, 2008

////////////////////////////////////////////////////
THINK OF THE CHILDREN…
1) Terrie’s Take on how NJ workers are the first to go in adverse economic conditions
2) Mainichi: Brazilian ethnic school closing due to NJ job cuts
3) Jason’s blog on next employment steps in Japan for NJ
4) Japan Times: Eric Johnston on Gunma NGO stopping ijime towards NJ students
5) AP: US court rules Japan has jurisdiction in child joint custody case
6) Sydney Morning Herald: Little Hope for Japan’s Abandoned Fathers

OTHER THINKS:
7) Grauniad: Japan comes down hard on Greenpeace whaling activists
8) Thoughts on seeing the Dalai Lama at the FCCJ Nov 3, 2008
9) Economist.com: Bilateral agreements to give US servicemen immunity from Japanese criminal procedure

… and finally…
10) Travelling around Japan in New Years’ and March. Want me to come speak?
Join me for Tokyo beers in January?
////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Terrie’s Take on how NJ workers are the first to go in adverse economic conditions

Terrie’s Take November 3 on how economic downturn is affecting Japanese companies: First to go have been the foreign workers in overseas plants. Two weeks ago, Nissan announced that it would cut its workforce by 1,680 people at its Barcelona assembly plant — one of two major plants the company has in Europe. This is almost 1/3 of all the people working at that facility and represents the halting of one of the 3 production shifts. Sales of vehicles in Spain have plunged 24% in the last 9 months, and when the numbers finally come out at the end of the year, we expect that sales for this current quarter might be almost non-existent. Indeed, Peugot has said that it expects a 17% fall in auto sales in Q4 in Western Europe. We think the final numbers will be worse and Japanese firms will share blood shed.

Certainly Toyota knows this, and so the company is laying off another category of “outsiders” — non-permanent workers at its factories here in Japan. Apparently the company employs 6,800 contract workers, also known as fixed-term workers, a number which is 2,000 down from March and 4,000 down from the peak of 10,800 employed in 2004. Back then, non-permanents accounted for 30% of the company’s total workforce. The thing about these contract workers is that so long as they are employed for less than 36 months, then the company can flexibility lay them off in times of hardship — as will many other companies around the country now that Toyota has set the pace.

In addition, in Q2, June-August this year, Toyota laid off an extra 8,000 temporary workers — for a total of around 10,000 redundancies so far this year. Are you seeing these numbers in the major newspapers? Not really. This is probably because Japan’s number one advertiser is sitting on an estimated JPY4trn (US$40bn) of cash reserves (not including other assets) which make it difficult for the company to defend its actions in the Japanese context of being needed to be seen to be looking after your own. In this respect, the message clearly is that you need to be a full-time employee to be considered “one of the Toyota family”. Otherwise you’re just a squatter…

So, given that there are at least 755,000 foreigners (as of 2006) working here in Japan, and probably another 350,000 or so working illegally, you can bet that this group will be another at-risk segment to lose their jobs. The AP article says that the government HELLO WORK centers used to get about 700 foreigners looking for jobs each month, but in August due to the massive layoffs by auto manufacturers, the numbers of foreign newly jobless people doubled to 1,500 a month. Local officials note that the number of Japanese applicants has not changed appreciably (yet) — so clearly Toyota, Honda, and Yamaha are dumping on their Brazilian-Japanese and Chinese workers first.

AP: Economic downturn already resulting in NJ layoffs in Japan, but NJ not counted in unemployment figures

AP: “Brazilian Stenio Sameshima came to Japan last year with plans to make a bundle of money at the country’s humming auto factories. Instead, he’s spending a lot of time in line at employment agencies.

“The 28-year-old is one of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of foreigners who are among the first laborers in Japan to lose their jobs as the global financial crisis eats into demand for cars, trucks and motorcycles, government officials say.

“The layoffs are also the first evidence that the mushrooming economic crisis in the United States and elsewhere is shaking the Japanese labor market, presaging further trouble if the downturn persists or deepens…

“The government does not track the number of jobless foreigners, but local officials, workers and employment agencies tell of hundreds of workers like Sameshima let go by companies linked to topflight producers – Toyota, Honda, Yamaha…

“Yet, working conditions are precarious. Foreigners are often hired through temporary employment agencies, so they can be easily fired. They live in company housing, so they lose their apartments when they lose their jobs. There hasn’t been a marked increase in homelessness, but anecdotes of foreigners having to move in with friends or relatives abound…”

How political — the unemployment rate is a very political thing in Japan, as it likes to boast worldwide how (artificially) low unemployment is. I guess it’s clear now that bringing in NJ labor has an extra benefit — not only are they cheap, you don’t count them if they lose their jobs!

Kandai PR Harassment: Why you don’t let non-Immigration people make Immigration decisions…

Here’s why you don’t let amateurs make decisions involving Immigration. Kansai University is harassing one of its teachers for proof of Re-Entry Permit or else they’ll report him as illegal. Despite the fact he is not leaving the country (and needs no REP) and doesn’t need a visa–because he’s a Permanent Resident! Ill-thought-out policy once again falls on the shoulders of the NJ.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 19, 2007

1) JAPAN TIMES: WORKPLACE GAIJIN CARD CHECKS, WALLET-SIZED LAWS
2) FINGERPRINTING UPDATE:
OFFICIAL INSTRUCTIONS FROM NARITA AIRPORT
KOBE REGATTA & ATHLETIC WANTS IN ON FP PROTEST
ACCJ OFFERS THEIR VIEW OF LOBBYING FOR “CONCESSIONS”
MORE PROTESTS: T-SHIRTS AT JALT, “WANTED” POSTERS
FORMER GIANTS PITCHER YAMAMOTO PROFITEERS, GETS FP FOR MONEY
OFFER YOUR FP EXPERIENCES AT IMMIG AFTER NOV 20 AT DEBITO.ORG

3) ECONOMIST: YOMIURI OWNER WATANABE INTERFERES WITH POLITICS, AS USUAL
4) OSAKA REALTOR HAS CATALOG WITH “GAIJIN OK” [sic!] APARTMENTS; WHAT TO DO
5) CRIES DU COEUR FROM INTL RESIDENTS RE POLICE GAIJIN CARD SHAKEDOWNS
6) UN REP DOUDOU DIENE WARNS RACISM INCREASINGLY VIOLENT WORLDWIDE
7) SPEECHES ON JOB SEARCHES, NOVA COLLAPSE AT JALT TOKYO THIS WEEKEND
8) VALENTINE CASE NEXT COURT HEARING TUES NOV 20 11AM
(SAME PLACE AS AMNESTY MOJ FP PROTEST AT NOON–SO DO BOTH!)

…and finally…
9) “NO BORDERS” MEETING NOV 18: KOKUSAIKA AND KEIDANREN LAID BARE

Japan Times on Gaijin Carding in workplace, and downloadable wallet-size Gaijin Card laws from Erich Meatleg

Excerpt from Japan Times article re how laws have changed to enable all employers to run Gaijin Card Checks on their foreign staff, just like any cop on the corner. Except that the laws are a little more sophisticated than that–download wallet-sized color-coded versions of them for the next time you’re racially profiled.

IHT/Asahi and Metropolis: Two good articles on NOVA bankruptcy aftermath

TwIHT/Asahi: “Some former Nova teachers are in such dire financial straits they are having to rely on their former students to feed them.” Metropolis: “In a sense, [former NOVA President Sa[ru]hashi has been playing into the hands of bankruptcy administrators who seek to pin the blame for Nova’s woes on him alone. His selfishness, petulance, disdain for employees and customers, and lack of business acumen make him an exceedingly worthy scapegoat. As this article was going to print, Sahashi remained incommunicado, and the bankruptcy administrators seem to be hoping that the worse he looks, the more the firm will appear as an innocent victim of his tyranny.”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCT 20, 2007

1) NEW MHLW DIRECTIVE: ALL COMPANIES MUST CHECK & REGISTER THEIR NJ WORKERS
2) GLOBE & MAIL ON GOJ’S NASTY IMMIG AND REFUGEE POLICIES
3) ASAHI: UNHYGIENIC FOOD IN IMMIGRATION GAIJIN TANK TRIGGERS HUNGER STRIKE
4) ASAHI: NJ DIES DURING POLICE “SNITCH SITE” HOME ID CHECK
5) IDUBOR CASE UPDATE: DENIED RELEASE, NEXT HEARING IN TWO MONTHS!
6) WHAT TO DO IF… YOU ARE THREATENED WITH EVICTION
7) TEMPLATE PROTEST LETTERS RE UPCOMING FINGERPRINT LAWS

…and finally…
8) FORTHCOMING ARTICLES IN JAPAN TIMES AND METROPOLIS
ON REINSTATING FINGERPRINTING AND GOJ CABINET HUMAN RIGHTS SURVEY

New MHLW requirements Oct 1: Employers must report their NJ workers to the govt

Hi Blog. I’ve been getting a lot of questions recently from people being approached by their employers and asked for copies of their Gaijin Cards. The MHLW says, in its link below:  平成19年10月1日から、すべての事業主の方には、外国人労働者(特別永住者及び在留資格「外交」・「公用」の者を除く)の雇入れまたは離職の際に、当該外国人労働者の氏名、在留資格、在留期間等について確認し、厚生労働大臣(ハローワーク)へ届け出ることが義務付けられます。(届出を怠ったり、虚偽の届出を行った場合には、30万円以下の罰金の対象となります。) “From October 1, 2007, all employers are now legally bound to formally submit (by todoke) to the Minister of Health, Labor, and …

Kobe Shinbun on new GOJ requirements on employers to report NJ laborers

Kobe Shinbun: Beginning October 1st, according to new amendments in the Employment Promotion Law, all firms employing foreign workers will be obliged to report employment conditions to labour offices. The goal of the reforms are two fold – to provide foreigner workers with job support and to help curb illegal employment. As awareness about the amendments is still relatively low, officials at the Hyogo Labour Department are eager to distribute leaflets to business groups. However, some have pointed out the danger that such reforms might invite new kinds of prejudice toward foreigners.