DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 28, 2021: END YEAR SPECIAL

SPECIAL: “Visible Minorities: Human Rights Top Ten for 2021”, Shingetsu News Agency, Dec 27, 2021 by Debito Arudou

GOOD NEWS
1) US Embassy in Japan tweets warning against Japanese police practice of “racial profiling”: Bravo. About time.
2) Miyazaki International College cut their elderly professors’ salaries by 20%. After a 7-year battle, Fukuoka High Court rules this illegal. A victory for foreign plaintiffs too.
3) Senaiho Case against Yamanashi City for “Hair Police” school bullying: A very rare victory for the Plaintiffs! (UPDATE: Full court decision attached)
4) Good 2018 JT article on Japanese Nationality Law. Upshot: Don’t give up NJ citizenship after naturalizing into Japan

OTHER NEWS
5) My SNA VM28: “Japan’s Fast Breeder Reactor of Racism.” Summarizes book “Embedded Racism” First and Second Editions, Nov 22, 2021
6) My SNA VM27: “The Bright Side of Japan’s ‘Culture of No’.” Surprise! Debito has something positive to say about Japan. Oct 18, 2021
7) My SNA VM7: “Japan’s Botched Response to the Diamond Princess Coronavirus isn’t Racism; it’s Stupidity”, Feb 17, 2020 (archiving link to full text)
…and finally…
8 ) Debito’s SECOND EDITION of “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books, 2022), fully revised and updated, now on sale

US Embassy in Japan tweets warning against Japanese police practice of “racial profiling”: Bravo. About time.

US Embassy: “The U.S. Embassy has received reports of foreigners stopped and searched by Japanese police in suspected racial profiling incidents. Several were detained, questioned, and searched. U.S. citizens should carry proof of immigration and request consular notification if detained.”

COMMENT: We’ve been warning about racial profiling by Japanese police on Debito.org for many years now. (We’ve even gone so far to call it “standard operating procedure” in public policing.) Finally the US Embassy is now warning its own citizens against it. Well, good, and long overdue.  Because when the US Embassy weighs in on things like this (such as instant Gaijin Card Checks at hotels, shady street Gaijin Card Checks by people posing as Japanese police, and instant pee-pee drug tests for people who “look foreign” in Roppongi), the GOJ sits up and takes notice (and stops the pee-pee tests, for example).  And in yesterday’s instance, it’s newsworthy enough to be reported quite widely in other media. Bravo US Embassy.  Do more of this. Since Japan’s minorities are so disenfranchised that we’ll get no public policy to stop this, the only avenue available is pressure from public exposure from abroad.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 27, 2019

Table of Contents:
WHOLESALE ALIENATION BY OFFICIALDOM

1) Dejima Award #7: Nagoya City officially classifies “Foreigner City Denizens” to include “naturalized persons, children of international marriages, people with foreign cultures or roots in their backgrounds”. Viva Eugenics.
2) MH Fox translation: “Gangsters and foreigners have no rights”, by Hiroshi Ichikawa (former prosecutor) on jiadep.org.
3) Mainichi: “‘Prison camps for Brazilians’: Foreign kids in Japan being ushered into special education.” Perpetuates the Japan-“educated” NJ underclass.
4) “Educating the Non-Japanese Underclass”, my Shingetsu News Agency “Visible Minorities” Col 2, Sept 17, 2019.
5) Senaiho Update 3: Civil suit to be launched over school “Hair Police” forced-haircut bullying of student in Yamanashi JHS (UPDATED).

MORE ALIENATION JUST FOR KICKS

6) XY on being racially profiled–by a designated police task force looking for “bad foreigners”–for a traffic fender bender caused by someone else!
7) Reuters: Japanese police urged to take “light-touch” towards NJ during Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup. Yeah, sure.
8 ) ICI Hotel Kanda unlawfully requires ID from all “foreign guests”, including NJ residents of Japan, as a precondition for stay; claims it’s demanded by Tokyo Metropolitan Police (UPDATED).
9) Last word on NJ hotel passport checks (thanks to a lawyer): It’s as Debito.org has said for more than a decade: NJ Residents are exempt from showing any ID.
10) My Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities col 3: “Racial Profiling at Japanese Hotel Check-Ins”, October 23, 2019.
11) Fujisankei-owned Japan Today posts article on “What to do if stopped by J police” for Rugby World Cup visitors, after consulting with Debito.org. Then does not acknowledge Debito.org and leaves out valuable advice.
12) Kyoto JET Programme teacher TS on being made homeless due to xenophobic landlord, and Kyoto Board of Education (who found the apartment) refuses to help.
13) Dr. Oussouby Sacko, African-born President of Kyoto Seika U, speaks at JALT, shows more blind spots re racism and tokenism.

… and finally…
14) “The Xeno-Scapegoating of Japanese Halloween”, my SNA Visible Minorities Col 4, Nov 18, 2019.

Fujisankei-owned Japan Today posts article on “What to do if stopped by J police” for Rugby World Cup visitors, after consulting with Debito.org. Then does not acknowledge Debito.org and leaves out valuable advice

JDG:  Right wing Sankei owned Japan Today put out this ‘what to do if you get stopped by the police in Japan’ article for the Rugby World Cup.
https://japantoday.com/category/features/lifestyle/What-to-do-if-you-are-stopped-by-the-police-in-Japan
Half the article about having fun and getting travel insurance, the other half about complying with all police requests because, y’know, cultural differences. Failure to blindly comply with police stop requests will be ‘escalating the situation’ and grounds for arrest because, y’know, cultural differences. What about police discrimination and your rights? ‘Don’t believe all the hoopla you read online’. Basically article’s advice is: If stopped by Japanese police, do as you are told.

COMMENT: Japan Today in fact consulted with Debito.org for this article in advance, then left out important information that might advise NJ of their actual rights — as a matter of “opinion”.

I acknowledge the editor’s courteous inquiries at the beginning, and appreciate his efforts to find out the most current information; I also acknowledge that his article is very helpful for the most part. However, by leaving out other information that might help readers protect themselves when deliberately targeted for harassment by police, it ends up toeing the Japanese Police’s standpoint that NJ aren’t supposed to have any rights. That’s also the standard line that much of the purportedly “foreigner-friendly” media maintains — just do as you’re told like a good “guest” and all will go well.  Until it doesn’t, of course.

Racial profiling in Japan is Standard Operating Procedure for the Japanese police, and that should be acknowledged somewhere, not simply worked around or removed as a matter of “opinion”. Despite a discussion with the editor afterwards, I remain convinced that this editorial bent was due to Japan Today being owned and operated by the “gaijin handlers” at the right-wing Fujisankei group. A record of our correspondences and the article in question are hereby archived on Debito.org.

Sept. 19, 1999: 20th Anniversary of the Otaru Onsens Case today: Kindle eBooks “Japanese Only” and “Guidebook” are now downloadable for (almost) free

September 19, 1999 was a watershed day in my life, when my family, friends, and I visited the “Japanese Only” Otaru public baths and exposed discrimination in Japan incontrovertibly as racial in nature. It has been exactly twenty years to the day since then, and not enough has changed.  People (including Japanese citizens) are still being refused services in Japan based upon whether they “look foreign”.  The police still engage in racial profiling as standard operating procedure to ferret out “illegal foreigners”.  There still is no law against racial discrimination in Japan’s Civil or Criminal Code. Japan remains a signatory to the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination, where it promised (since 1995) to “undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms”. Nearly a quarter-century later, this clearly has not happened.

All of this has been charted and cataloged in great detail in my book “Japanese Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan”. To commemorate twenty years of GOJ negligence following a case that changed the dialog on discrimination in Japan, my “Japanese Only” Kindle eBook is now free to download on Amazon.com. Well, nearly free. Amazon requires that I charge something, unfortunately. The minimum price is 99 cents US. So I’ve set that price for the book in all countries effective immediately. Similarly, my book for how to cope with life in Japan and make a good living here, “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan”, is now also nearly free. 99 cents.

May the lessons of the Otaru Onsens Case reverberate and help everyone in Japan have equal access to public goods and facilities.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 18, 2019

Table of Contents:
MORE OFFICIAL OVERREACTION TO NJ INVITED INFLUX
1) Record 2.73 million NJ residents in Japan in 2018; media also shoehorns in mention of NJ crime, without mention of NJ contributions
2) MC on new Minpaku Law and NJ check-ins: Govt. telling AirBnB hostels that “foreign guests” must have passports photocopied etc. Yet not in actual text of the Minpaku Law. Or any law.
3) XY: Hotel calls cops on NJ Resident at check-in for not showing passport. And cops misinterpret laws. Unlawful official harassment is escalating.
4) Fox on getting interrogated at Sumitomo Prestia Bank in Kobe. Thanks to new FSA regulations that encourage even more racial profiling.
5) “Gaikokujin Appetizer Charge” in Osaka Dotonbori restaurant? Debito.org investigates.

THE SENAIHO CASE OF SCHOOL HAIR POLICING TAKEN TO COURT
6) Senaiho on criminal complaint against Jr High School “Hair Police” in Yamanashi
7) UPDATE: Senaiho on the stacked Board of Education committee investigating his Yamanashi jr. high school Hair Police complaint
8 ) UPDATE 2: Senaiho School Bullying in Yamanashi JHS: How people who file complaints for official harassment get harassed back
9) NYT: Hair policing soon to be treated as “racial discrimination” by NYC Commission of Human Rights. Compare with JHS & HS Hair Police in Japan.

HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN
10) Debito.org’s stance on the Carlos Ghosn Case, at last: A boardroom coup making “thin legal soup” that might shame Japan’s “hostage justice” judicial system into reform
11) Debito article in Shingetsu News Agency: “The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite” (Feb 2, 2019)

… and finally…
12) Japan Times JBC 114, “Top Ten Human Rights Issues for NJ in Japan for 2018” column, “Director’s Cut” with links to sources

UPDATE: Senaiho on the stacked Board of Education committee investigating his Yamanashi jr. high school Hair Police complaint

What follows is an update about Senaiho’s case, i.e., overzealous enforcers of school rules in Japan’s compulsory education system who essentially become the “Hair Police”. This phenomenon particularly affects NJ and Japanese of diverse backgrounds, who are forced by officials to dye and/or straighten their naturally “Non-Asian” hair just to attend school.

Bullying is rife in Japanese education, but when it’s ignored (or even perpetuated) by officialdom, this feeling of powerlessness will leave children (particularly those NJ children with diverse physical features targeted for “standing out”) and their families scarred for life.  (As discussed at length in book “Embedded Racism”, pg. 154-5.)  As reported on Debito.org last month, after months of playing by the rules established by the local Board of Education, Senaiho finally lodged a formal criminal complaint against his daughter’s school officials, and it’s smoking out hidden documents.  This blog entry is an update to the case, where he has managed to uncover just how stacked the system is against him, and why he was entirely correct to pursue this issue through criminal, not Board of Education, channels.  

This is one of the worst-kept secrets about Japan — its underdeveloped civil society generally leaves the government to do everything, and the cosy relations between government officials means a lack of independent investigation and oversight.  Coverup becomes Standard Operating Procedure.  Hence “kusai mono ni futa o suru” (“put a lid on that which stinks” — instead of actually cleaning it up) isn’t a bellyaching grumble — it’s a PROVERB in Japan.

Your kid having trouble in Japanese school?  Keep an eye on this case and learn a few alternative avenues for recourse.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 1, 2016

Table of Contents:
GOOD NEWS
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

LESS GOOD
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.

MORE BAD
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.

Shibuya Police asking local “minpaku” Airbnb renters to report their foreign lodgers “to avoid Olympic terrorism”. Comes with racialized illustrations

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.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE 98, “Ibaraki Police still unfettered by the law, or the truth”, June 6, 2016 (UPDATED with links to sources)

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…

Debito.org Commenting Guidelines

Hello Readers of the Debito.org Blog. I created this blog on June 17, 2006 (as an offshoot of the Debito.org Web Archive, established April 15, 1996) not only as an information source, but also as a potential forum for readers to comment upon issues raised. I read every comment on this blog and consider them all for approval. Not all of them will make it through (in fact, about a quarter don’t, on both sides of the political fence). This page outlines the basic posting policy guidelines I use.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 2, 2015

Table of Contents:
1) Japan Times JBC 93 Nov 2, 2015: “Tackle embedded racism before it chokes Japan”, summarizing my new book out this week
2) Asahi TV: Police training drill in Tokyo on how to deal with jewelry thieves brandishing knives. Oh, and they’re “foreign” thieves.
3) “Foreign Driver” stickers appearing on Okinawan rental cars
4) Japan Times: Japan sanctioning mass ‘slave labor’ by duping foreign trainees, observers say
5) Japan moving on to the next sucker societies for cheap or slave labor: Cambodia and Vietnam
6) Paul Toland Case Update: Japan as a “black hole” for parental child abductions — Family Court lawsuit & press conference to raise awareness of issue
7) “Onsen-Ken Shinfuro Video”: Japan Synchro Swim Team promotes Oita Pref. Onsens — and breaks most bathhouse rules doing so. Historically insensitive.
8 ) My Japan Times JBC 92 Oct. 5, 2015: “Conveyor belt of death shudders back to live”, on how Abe’s new security policy will revive Prewar martial Japan
… and in case you thought I was being alarmist with JBC 92…
9) CSM: Reviving Shinto: Prime Minister Abe tends special place in Japan’s soul for mythology

“Foreign Driver” stickers appearing on Okinawan rental cars

In another turn of logic in Japan, where differentiation between foreigners and Japanese is so normal that it’s standard operating procedure for a significant amount of public policy, we have a case where “Foreign Driver” stickers have been created in Okinawa to call public attention to rental cars rented by foreigners. (image) Of course, with this constant differentiation comes the facile logical conclusion by policymakers that foreigners get into accidents BECAUSE they are foreigners. And presto, more public policy that once again targets foreigners. All the heart marks and polite language below in the “Foreign Driver” sign can’t overcome that fact. Anyone want to find out if domestic NJ residents with Japanese driver licenses, who of course also become tourists if they travel within Japan, also get stuck with this sticker?

Fukuoka Now Magazine: The number of foreign visitors renting cars is on the rise. In fiscal 2014, the number of car rentals around Fukuoka Airport jumped 250% to 6,572. Meanwhile, the Kyushu District Transportation Bureau offers a ¥2,500 2-day “all-you-can-drive” expressway pass. In the three-month period of last October to December, about 2,000 foreign tourists used the service, and the bureau expects this year’s numbers to outstrip last year’s. In Okinawa, a spate of minor accidents has led car rental shops to put “Foreigner Driving” stickers on cars rented to foreign tourists.“I keep an eye out for rental cars with wa license plates now,” admits a local taxi driver, referring to the rental car license plates whose numbers are prefaced by the hiragana character wa (わ).

NHK on Fukushima: Offering all-expense-paid junkets to NJ journalists, interviews for NJ residents who experienced disasters. What’s the catch?

In an interesting development, NHK is offering opportunities for NJ (both journalist and resident) to give their views on the “The 2011 Great Tohoku, Japan Earthquake and Tsunami”. For example:

==================
NHK is looking for non-Japanese journalists to cover stories in the Tohoku region. All the expenses are paid by NHK. NHK Enterprises will soon start the production of a new series program. Its title is “Tomorrow: Japan, beyond 3.11”. NHK will air this series from April 2013 and NHK Enterprises will produce 30 episodes in one year. The synopsis of this series is as follows;
A huge disaster attacked Japan. It was as if it denied the civilization which we build in 20th and 21st century. But many new movements begin in all over Japan. They are about ecology, new energy, industry, education, community, mental care and etc. Many experts and scientists are working hard to build the future of Japan not only in Tohoku area but also all over Japan. They think they have to utilize the precious experience of disaster.In this series, a foreign journalist, presenter or editor of TV, radio, or website will visit the places where new movements begin. And this series will depict the process of his or her discovery and will ask his or her impression. It will tell us the new things which Japanese people have not recognized…
==================

Quite an opportunity, and for all expenses paid. This opportunity is also being echoed within a call to GaijinPot for NJ residents to give their views:

=============================
NHK is seeking to interview those who had experienced The 2011 Great Tohoku, Japan Earthquake & Tsunami while living in Japan. They will film your unique perspective and experience on the disaster, and it impacted your life in Japan. The interview will take place for the special documentary program in February to be aired in March…
EXAMPLE:
**** My 3.11 memory *****
“That night I walked home with what seemed like every other person in Tokyo. My abiding memory of that walk was the good spirits, friendly nature and calm resolve to get home shared by everybody…”
=============================

NHK in fact has a history of using NJ to advance an agenda, for example using a quite willing supplicant in Tarento Daniel Kahl to portray overseas media as being biased regarding reportage on Fukushima (something Debito.org has had opinions about in the past). Consider this five minutes (!!) of NHK airtime devoted to Kahl for the newsworthy gesture of making a grandstanding YouTube video. It’s hard to believe that the above proposals won’t be put to the same ends, which is why I created this blog entry to discuss it.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 3, 2011

Table of Contents:
MOVEMENT ON HAGUE CONVENTION AND JAPAN CHILD ABDUCTIONS ISSUE
1) BAChome: President Obama addresses Japan Child Abduction Issue with Japan’s PM Noda, demands preexisting abduction cases be included
2) BAChome: Official correspondence re nonfeasance and negligence by US Consulate Osaka regarding the Mary Lake Child Abduction Case (allegations of USG refusing assistance to US citizen child)
3) Patrick McPike on USG’s underestimated numbers re Japan’s abducted children (only about 2.6% of J kids see both parents after divorce)
4) CRN: Left Behind Parents launch expert witness, consulting services to prevent International Parental Abduction
5) MOFA invites public comment on Japan re the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, until Oct 31

SEX! YES, SEX!
6) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Sept 6, 2011, “‘Sexlessness’ wrecks marriages, threatens nation’s future”
7) DEBITO.ORG POLL: “For Readers married to a Japanese, how often on average do you have sex with your spouse?”
8 ) “The Douzo Effect”: One case study of a sexless marriage in Japan, by SexyLass

ISSUES OF POLITICS, PUBLIC EXPRESSION, MEDIA, RHETORIC, AND SOCIAL CONTROL
9) FCCJ No.1 Shimbun: “Nothing has changed”, my article on J media blind spots towards NJ residents over the past quarter century
10) NJ topic du jour: Yomiuri, Mainichi, Nikkei pile on re free papers ads encouraging NJ “criminal behavior”, deemed “criminal infrastructure”
11) Allegations of more rough stuff from Rightist Zaitokukai against anti-nuclear demos, yet anti-nuclear demonstrators get arrested
12) Discussion: JK on the oversimplistic panacea of slogan “Ganbare Nippon/Tohoku” etc.
13) Japan Times HAVE YOUR SAY Column offers reader feedback to my Aug. 6 JBC column on how difficult it seems to make long-term Japanese friends
14) Best review yet of my novel IN APPROPRIATE (and no, the reviewer does not rave about the book)
… and finally…
15) Japan Times guest column: “Top 10 most useless Japanese Prime Ministers” (I contribute Murayama)

Japan Times guest column: “Top 10 most useless Japanese Prime Ministers” (I contribute Murayama)

I was invited last week to contribute a bio of who I thought was one of Japan’s “most useless” Prime Ministers. I was surprised to find that Murayama was not taken. So here’s my writeup (#5, ordered by when they held office). There are nine other biographies done by some very knowledgable writers and observers of Japan, so have a read of them at the Japan Times from this link here. Enjoy!

JT: Short tenures, imprudent public statements, poor character judgment, weakness under pressure — when we think of useless prime ministers, all this seems like standard operating procedure. However, Tomiichi Murayama’s particular brand of uselessness was peerless. Essentially, everything he touched turned to sh-te…

He was the first Socialist Party prime minister, and the last. Having made a Faustian bargain to take the top job, he then proceeded to sell his party’s soul so blatantly that in his wake the Socialists were moribund and fractured. He proved to Japan’s voters that the left cannot govern, putting the corrupt Liberal Democrats back in power for 13 more years.

No other PM can be credited with setting back Japan’s development into a two-party democracy while killing his own party in the process. Yet. For that, he gets my vote not only as Japan’s most useless, but also its flat-out worst postwar prime minister.

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

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

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

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

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

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 38, April 5, 2011: “Letting radiation leak, but never information”

One lingering afterglow [of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster] will be a feeling of betrayal of the public trust. We were told that nuclear power was safe. One assumes, not unreasonably, that this means no leaks. Zero emissions. Hence, the public should have zero tolerance for any man-made radiation. We should reject ex post facto reassurances that this amount of millisieverts is insignificant, the same as an X-ray, an airplane flight, etc. Sometimes the government’s advice was so unscientific that it tried the patience of an educated society. (In a land of poorly insulated housing, being told to “just stay indoors” is clearly stopgap.)

My point is that the public has been kept in the dark for generations about the risks of nuclear power, settling for cute cartoon characters that deliberately and persistently underinform us. Yet when the industry screws up, who takes the fallout?

Not Japan’s nuclear firms. Tepco, remember, similarly botched things after radiation leaks at Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, in 1999 and the Kashiwazaki- Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture in 2007. Yet these Homer Simpsons remain in charge, despite, according to Wikileaks, repeated warnings from overseas specialists about their outmoded and lackluster safety standards (in a land of extreme seismic activity, no less). In a society that, if anything, overcompensates in the name of safety, why is nuclear energy such a glowing exception?…

Alleged “mistranslation” at Kyodo News of AKB48 ingenue’s anti-crime activities: Asking nationality of perp SOP for 110 calls?

RY: I stumbled across your website several years ago and began following you again recently. Thank you for your work. I found this article on the Japan Today site [about an AKB48 member doing public service for the NPA:

Quote: She calmly asked, “Is anybody injured? What nationality was the culprit?” to gauge the situation before passing the information on to a nearby patrol car. When asked about her impressions of the experience, Maeda replied, “You’ve got to ask the right questions and get the information to officers as quickly as possible, and that it is not as easy as it sounds.”]

I read it to my husband who is Japanese and he replied “It must be in the manual”… I personally find it cumbersome to try to remember the difference for when to call 110/119 but now we are supposed to determine the nationality of the perp as well!? Why not easier questions such as gender/height/build/hair color?”

COMMENT: Making it more interesting is that afterwards Kyodo News and Japan Today removed this bit about questioning nationality, called it a mistranslation, and rendered it “How many suspects were there?” Sorry, I don’t buy it. NPA, your racial-profiling slip is showing. Nice try keeping it out of the media.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 8, 2009

Table of Contents:
PUSHES ONE WAY
1) Kyodo: Municipal govts call for GOJ agency to help foreigners. Again.
2) Way cool Coldwell Banker SAPPORO SOURCE advertisement offering assistance with NJ apartment searches
3) Aly Rustom on how he got out of a Gaijin Card Check by J-cops
4) Michael Moore lambastes GOJ for being fingerprinted at border during his first Japan trip

PUSHES BACK
5) Anti-NJ suffrage protests in Shibuya Nov 28 2009. The invective in flyers and banners: “Japan is in danger!”
6) Int’l Child Abduction issue update: Chinese found guilty in J court of abducting daughters, MOFA sets up panel on issue
7) ADDENDUM: Paul Toland on US Congressional side of Japan Child Abductions Issue
8 ) Kyodo: numerical figures on how many NJ took last April’s “Nikkei Repatriation Bribe”

SOME PERSONAL PROJECTS
9) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST NOV 30, 2009 (listen at Debito.org or download from iTunes)
10) Advice re Japan Law Society, Tokyo/Osaka association of NJ lawyers: they really won’t pay you if they invite you to speak
11) Co-authored chapter in new Akashi Shoten book on “American Diaspora” (English text)
12) Letter to 4 Dietmembers re my recent JT article on immigration policy (see immediately below)

… and finally …
13) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Dec 1 2009 on making Japan more attractive to immigrants (with links to sources)

Int’l Child Abduction issue update: Chinese found guilty in J court of abducting daughters, MOFA sets up panel on issue

Three articles (two with original Japanese) below charting a couple of interesting developments regarding Japan as an international haven for child abductions.

The first article is what happens when the shoe’s on the other foot, and the NJ parent goes on trial for allegedly abducting his or her child from Japan — the Japanese authorities eventually convict the NJ. Asahi reports a Chinese father was found guilty (sentence suspended) in Japanese court of successfully, shall we say, “committing a Savoie” — actually getting his Japanese-Chinese daughters out of Japan (moreover after a J court awarded his ex-wife custody). The story follows below, but one of the daughters came back to Japan from China and stayed on, and the father came over to get her — whereupon he was arrested and put on trial. Now the mother wants Japan to sign the Hague Convention to protect Japanese from abductions (well, fine, but neither China nor Japan is a party, so there you go; oddly enough, accusations of spousal abuse — as in this case — are being leveled conversely as reasons for Japan NOT to sign the Convention). Just sign the damn thing, already.

The second article is from the Mainichi highly critical of the Japanese consulate in Shanghai for renewing the daughters’ J passports without consent of the J mother overseas. Even though this is standard operating procedure when a Japanese spouse wants to bring the children back to Japan from overseas. It only seems to make the news when the valve is used against the Japanese spouse.

Final irony: Quoth the judge who ruled in this case, “It is impossible to imagine the mental anguish of being separated for such a long time from the children she loved.” Well, that works both ways, doesn’t it? Why has there never been a child returned by a Japanese court to a NJ parent overseas? Why didn’t this matter in, for example, the Murray Wood Case, when overseas courts granted custody to the NJ father yet the Saitama Family Court ruled against him? And how about the plenty of other cases slowly being racked up to paint a picture that NJ get a raw deal in Japanese courts?

The third article (following the original Japanese versions of the first two) is how Minister Okada of the Foreign Ministry is setting up a special task force on this issue. Good. But let’s see if it can break precedent by acknowledging that NJ have as much right to access and custody of their children as Japanese do. Dubious at this juncture.

Foreign Policy.com on Savoie Case: US Govt advised father Chris to get children to Fukuoka Consulate! Plus lots more media.

Foreign Policy.com reports something interesting, and if true, exposes a deeper grain of irresponsibility within the USG:

“Even before Savoie traveled to Japan, he contacted the State Department’s Office for Citizen Services to ask for advice on how to get his children out of Japan. State Department officials advised Savoie that because a U.S. court had awarded him sole custody on Aug. 17, he could apply for new passports for the children if he could get them to the Fukuoka consulate.”

Well, that didn’t happen. More media (not only on Savoie Case) in this blog entry, including accusations of Savoie being tortured in prison (it would be tantamount to such under international standards, as the UN has stated about Japan in the past), a divorced international family containing a child with a medical condition being financially strangled by court limbo, and Noriko Savoie reportedly complaining that she was treated “like a babysitter” and cheated out of money in the divorce settlement! Boy I’m glad I’m not a divorce lawyer.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 8, 2009

SPECIAL ON THE SAVOIE CHILD ABDUCTION CASE
Table of Contents:
THE STORY BREAKS
1) CNN and NBC TODAY Show: American Christopher Savoie attempts to recover his abducted kids,
is turned away from Fukuoka Consulate, arrested for “kidnapping”
2) CBS EARLY SHOW on the Case
3) US Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) calls for action against Japan’s child abductions, introduces legislation to US Congress
4) Brett Weed on US State Dept Human Rights Bureau’s willful ignorance of Japan’s child abduction

THINGS GET MESSY
5) Tokyo Shinbun and Mainichi weigh in on Savoie
6) More media on the Savoie (CNN, CBS, Stars&Stripes, AP, BBC, Japan Times, local TV). What a mess.
7) Court Transcripts of Christopher vs. Noriko Savoie
8 ) My final thoughts on Savoie in Japan Times column (plus more media: WSJ, NYT, CNN)

TRYING TO DISENTANGLE
9) Terrie’s Take offers the best piece yet on the Savoie Case
10) CNN on the upcoming documentary FROM THE SHADOWS re Japan’s Child Abductions issue
11) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Oct 6 column on Savoie and Japan’s “Disappeared Dads” (full text)

12) DEBITO.ORG BLOG POLL: 39% think Christopher did the right thing. But…

… and finally … something lighter
13) SOUR STRAWBERRIES Cinema Debut Oct 10th-30th every day, Cine Nouveau Osaka Kujo

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE on Savoie Child Abduction Case and Japan’s “Disappeared Dads”

Japan Times: But as with all social problems left to fester, things are only getting worse. U.S. Congressman Chris Smith announced Sept. 29 that reported child abductions have increased “60 percent in the last three years.” No doubt contributing to this rise is the grapevine effect among expat Japanese — a quick Web search shows that all a potential abductor needs do is board a plane to Japan and they’re scot-free.

Injustice breeds drastic actions. How long before a vigilante parent takes the law so far that somebody gets injured or killed?

Japan wants to avoid a demographic nightmare as its population drops. International marriage is one solution. But this threat of abduction is now a prime deterrent to marrying any Japanese. One domestic spat with a threat to kidnap the kids and conjugal trust is permanently destroyed.

But just signing the Hague convention won’t fix things. Japan has, after all, inked umpteen international treaties (like the above-mentioned UNCRC), and ignores them by not enacting enforceable domestic laws. I don’t anticipate any exception here: Japan giving more parental rights to non-Japanese through treaties than they would their own citizens? Inconceivable.

What’s necessary is more radical…

NPR’s Geoff Nunberg on semantics and their control over public debate

Pursuant to my Japan Times’ JUST BE CAUSE column earlier this month (June 2, “The issue that dares not speak its name“), where I talked about how the domestic media and GOJ deliberately refrain from couching the debate on racial discrimination in those exact terms — “racial discrimination” — and how that affects public awareness in Japan of the issue.

Here’s an excerpt of a June 3, 2009 US National Public Radio “Fresh Air” interview with UC Berkeley linguist Geoff Nunberg (June 4 podcast, from minute seven) which explores exactly the same topic, regarding the American media’s treatment of the debate on “torture”…

The point is, if we can keep the word “racial discrimination” (as defined under UN treaty) at bay in Japan — call it “foreigner discrimination”, “discrimination by physical appearance”, or even “cultural differences” and “misunderstandings” — we can keep at bay the moral disapproval that comes with it. We can also keep the plausible deniability in the public arena that something very bad (as opposed to just “bad” or “misunderstood”) is going on, one that requires legislation to prevent it. This sort of thing happens everywhere when people play with words to dull or obfuscate debate.

Be aware of how this works. And be prepared to correct people who wish to shift the terms of debate away from the cold, hard truth. That discrimination against foreigners can be, or is in most cases, the same as discrimination by race.