Mainichi: Miss Universe Japan Ariana Miyamoto spurns ‘half Japanese’ label, seeks end to prejudice. Good, but article in English only, not for Japanese-reading audience.

Mainichi: As Japan’s internationalization continues, the country’s representatives in competitions abroad are also becoming increasingly diverse. The 31-man roster of the national rugby team that so electrified Japan in the recent Rugby World Cup, for example, boasted no less than 10 players born outside the country. And then there is Ariana Miyamoto, who this year became the first mixed-race woman to be crowned Miss Universe Japan.

“There are foreigner athletes representing Japan, and then there’s also me,” Miyamoto, 21, told the Mainichi Shimbun in a recent interview. “I think Japanese society has changed a bit, but it still has a ways to go.” Miyamoto, the daughter of an African American father and Japanese mother, is set to represent Japan in the annual Miss Universe pageant on Dec. 20 this year. Though she has become a positive symbol of Japan’s internationalization, when she was selected to represent Japan in the pageant, she was also the target of many Internet attacks that she “doesn’t look Japanese.” […]

“I want to end racial prejudice,” said Miyamoto, adding that this was her reason for auditioning to represent Japan at the Miss Universe pageant. […] Meanwhile, the Japanese sports world is also looking more diverse, with Japan-born athletes like high school sprinter Abdul Hakim Sani Brown and baseball player (and recent Nippon Professional Baseball draftee) Louis Okoye making their mark. “I don’t want to be summed up with the word ‘haafu’ (half),” said Miyamoto, referring to the Japanese colloquial term for those with one foreign parent. “It’s the same as saying they’re not really Japanese,” she went on, and expressed hope that the presence of mixed race Japanese people like herself will eventually be considered completely natural.

COMMENT: I am increasingly impressed by the resilience of Ms. Miyamoto in keeping her message on track. Bravo. However, the Japanese media is making sure her message of tolerance and inclusiveness is being contained and rendered ineffectual. This article in English, for example, was not featured as a Japanese article, for a Japanese-reading audience. Which, naturally, is the audience that most needs to hear it and be convinced by it. Here is a screen capture of web search engine for the Mainichi in Japanese, where the article does not exist. Keep at it, Ms. Miyamoto, and someday your message may even get through the editors of Japan’s most liberal daily national newspaper.

ABC News Radio Australia interviews me on multiethnic Japanese Ariana Miyamoto’s crowning as Miss Japan 2015

Very briefly (as it’s a busy time here at the Colorism Conference — plus another blog post out tomorrow on my upcoming JT column), here is a link to my recent interview last weekend with ABC NewsRadio Australia, on the crowning of multiethnic Japanese Ariana Miyamoto as Miss Japan. Listen to it at:
http://www.abc.net.au/newsradio/content/s4207325.htm

Mainichi: “Not Japanese Enough?” Bog-standard article about Miss Japan Miyamoto Ariana’s fight against racial discrim in Japan, not in Japanese for J-audience

I’ve been withholding comment on the very good news about Miyamoto Ariana’s ascension to the role of Miss Japan, and for the role that she is taking on of her own volition to fight “racial discrimination” (yes, explicitly jinshu sabetsu — something that the J-media generally refuses to even acknowledge exists in Japan). What I’ve been waiting for is how the J-media (as opposed to the predictable reaction from the J-xenophobes) would react to her activism. And here’s a good example from the Mainichi Shinbun: (A few comments follow the article.)

Mainichi: At first glance, Ariana Miyamoto does not look like an ordinary Japanese woman. But the 21-year-old model and former bartender speaks the language like a native and thinks and acts like a typical Japanese her age. In March, she became the first mixed race contestant to be crowned “Miss Universe Japan,” but not everyone cheered the result…

Debito: Okay, a few points: 1) The opening paragraph, where the article says, “But the 21-year-old model and former bartender speaks the language like a native and thinks and acts like a typical Japanese her age.” Well, she IS a native speaker of Japanese, and she IS a typical Japanese her age. Because she IS a Japanese. 100%. Even she says so. Front-loading the articles to reinforce the narrative that she isn’t a Japanese because she has mixed roots is one major problem in this unnecessary debate about Miyamoto-san’s identity….

SCMP: “Tennis queen Naomi Osaka a role model, says ‘Indian’ Miss Japan Priyanka Yoshikawa”. A little more complex than that.

SCMP: Japanese tennis sensation Naomi Osaka not only hit the cash jackpot with her historic US Open victory – she struck a blow for racial equality, according to a former Miss Japan… Priyanka Yoshikawa, who two years ago was crowned Miss Japan, believes Osaka can also help break down cultural barriers in a country where multi-racial children make up just two per cent of those born annually.

“Japan should be proud of her – she can definitely break down walls, she will have a big impact.” Osaka, who has a Japanese mother, a Haitian father and was raised in the United States, is set to shine a light on what it means to be Japanese, predicts Yoshikawa. “The way she speaks, and her humbleness, are so Japanese,” said the 24-year-old… Unlike Yoshikawa and Miyamoto, Osaka speaks hardly any Japanese after moving to Florida with her family as a toddler. “It’s not about language,” insists the Tokyo-born Yoshikawa, who was bullied because of her skin colour as a child… “But she’s what she thinks she is. If you think you’re Japanese, you’re Japanese.”… “But it’s still going to take more time for people to think ‘haafu’ can be Japanese,” she warned. “We need more people like Naomi.”

COMMENT: Indeed. Japan needs more people like Naomi. And like Priyanka. And Ariana Miyamoto. And Murofushi. And Asuka Cambridge.  And Bekki.  And Jero.  And Darvish.  And Miyazawa Rie.  And Umemiya Anna.  And Hiroko Grace. And Kinugasa “Iron Man” Sachio. And any number of other “haafu” celebrities in Japan who have made history over generations, but barely made a dent in diversifying Japan’s racialized self-concept of “Japaneseness” being predominantly pure-blooded.  I’m not sure what’s different this time. Again, Debito.org is very happy to cheer on Ms. Osaka as she navigates her way through Japan’s adult society and through the trappings and pitfalls of sports fame. But it’s far too soon to be this optimistic that any real change has happened or will happen. As we’ve seen from the world-class people above, it takes a lot more than one tennis star to undo this degree of “Embedded Racism”. Where’s the “tipping point”?

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 8, 2015

Table of Contents:
WEIRD INCENTIVE SYSTEMS
1) WSJ: PM Abe Shinzo First Non-American to Win Conservative Hudson Institute Award — and other American neocons egging on Japan’s remilitarization
2) 20th Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon Japan tour registration is “Japanese Only”: “Applications from non-Japanese runners ‘invalid’, deposit payment not refunded.”
3) UPDATE: Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon Japan tour “Japanese Only” registration is sanitized to include NJ residents, but “Japanese Citizenship” remains requirement on actual registration page
4) Mainichi: Miss Universe Japan Ariana Miyamoto spurns ‘half Japanese’ label, seeks end to prejudice. Good, but article in English only, not for Japanese-reading audience.

BETTER INCENTIVE SYSTEMS
5) Asahi & Mainichi: “No Hate” “No Racism”, “Refugees Welcome” say protesters at Tokyo anti-discrimination rally. Bravo.
6) JT: Court orders NHK to compensate NJ Anchorwoman who fled Japan during Fukushima crisis for lost salary: So much for “Flyjin” myth.
7) Eleven touristy articles of mine about touring Sapporo, Hokkaido, and environs, published by Netmobius
… and finally …
8 ) My Japan Times JBC Col 93: “Tackle embedded racism before it chokes Japan”, summarizing my new book “Embedded Racism”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 5 2015

Table of Contents:
ENFORCING JAPAN’S NATIONAL NARRATIVE
1) Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus carries full text of my interview with Dr. Herbert Ziegler on GOJ pressure to censor his history book of “Comfort Women”
2) NYT Opinion: Mindy Kotler on “The Comfort Women and Japan’s War on Truth”, an excellent primer on the issue
3) Kyodo: Japan didn’t meddle with U.S. “Comfort Women” textbook, Japanese Ambassador to US Sasae claims; meanwhile GOJ panel established to “Restore the Honor and Trust of Japan”
4) Renewed GOJ projections of hard and soft power: Yomiuri argues for remilitarization “to protect J-nationals abroad”, Reuters reports GOJ reinvestment in overseas universities, claims “no strings attached”
5) ABC News Radio Australia interviews me on multiethnic Japanese Ariana Miyamoto’s crowning as Miss Japan 2015
6) Koike Yuriko in World Economic Forum: “Why inequality is different in Japan” (= because “We Japanese have a deeply ingrained stoicism”)

ENFORCING JAPAN’S SECURITY
7) JT: “Should Japan beef up its anti-terrorism measures?” Renewed political opportunism to further erode Postwar civil liberties, go soft on right-wing groups
8 ) Suspicious recent death of NJ after being “restrained” on the street by Tokyo Police in daytime warrants more investigation and attention
9) PNS: Deaths of unknown persons in the custody of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police: At least 5 in past year
10) Japan Today: Narita airport ends ID security checks for non-passengers

MISC
11) Spoke at Washington University at St. Louis Law School Colorism Conference April 3, on skin color stigmatism in Japan

… and finally…
12) Japan Times JBC 85, Mar 5 2015: “US author recounts ‘lecture’ he got about ‘comfort women’ from uninvited Japanese guests”, with targeted textbook text on Debito.org for the record

BBC: “Is Japan embracing diversity?” A Pollyannaish article highlighting a few celebrity examples without data on broad public attitudes or government policy re immigration

BBC: Ahead of the Rugby World Cup held in Japan last year, a Japanese sports magazine, asked the national team’s captain, “Why are there so many foreigners in Japan’s squad?” The 31-year-old captain, Michael Leitch, originally from New Zealand, answered (in Japanese), “Because that’s how Japan is today. The rugby national team reflects the reality of current Japan, and also anticipates the future of Japan. As a team, we can embody and show society just how important diversity is.”
[…]
In Japan, rugby is famous for the phrase “no-side”, meaning once the referee blows the whistle to end the match, there are no more foes, only fellow players. While this phrase is no longer widely used, it has lodged itself firmly in the national consciousness of Japan. Athletes there with foreign roots are still called “players from a foreign country”. But in a country where the concept of wa is considered a fundamental virtue, there is hope that an increasingly visible “other” Japan in a changing society can lead it to being the natural state of things.

COMMENT: Here we have another one of those hopeful “Japan is changing” articles we get from time to time. BBC Reporter Okazaki clearly starts from a tack and then works backwards to find evidence to support it. But as Submitter FB pointed out quite succinctly, the article “highlights a few celebrity examples without any data on broad public attitudes or government policy towards immigration. The fact that 3rd generation ethnic Koreans aren’t citizens is the most telling fact of intransigence towards diversity.” Touche.  

So let’s just draw a line in the sand here with a clear litmus test:  At a bare minimum, until Japan’s historical aberration of “Zainichi” status is finally resolved by the Japanese government, and “generational foreigners” are legally accepted as diverse AND Japanese, Japan can never claim to be truly accepting of diversity.  Full stop.  Do that, and then we’ll start talking about how “Japan is changing” for a news peg.  For one cannot ignore the historical contributions and sacrifices of Japan’s minorities, particularly the Zainichi, no matter what cosmetic overtures one might make in public towards a few token Visible Minorities for the sake of overseas media consumption.

Japan Times JBC 114 DIRECTOR’S CUT of “Top Ten for 2018” column, with links to sources

Now that the clicks have died down on my latest Japan Times JBC column of January 28, 2019 (thanks for putting it in the Top Ten trending articles once again), what follows is the first final draft I submitted to the Japan Times for editing on December 29, 2018.  I blog this version because a lot of information is lost (inevitably) as we cut the word count from 2800 to 1600 words. (I generally put everything in the first final draft, then cut it down to fit the page; that way we don’t overlook anything and have to backtrack.)

People have been asking what got cut (and yes, the original version mentions Michael Woodford and Jeff Kingston), so the piece below is quite a bit different from what appeared in the Japan Times here (meaning it shouldn’t draw away any readers from the JT version; in fact, it will probably spur more views from readers wanting to compare). Also, having links to sources matter, so here it all is, including my regular acerbic tone.

“Nippon Claimed” multiethnic tennis star Osaka Naomi gets “whitewashed” by her sponsor. Without consulting her. Compare with singer Crystal Kay.

Multiethnic tennis star Osaka Naomi, whom we’ve talked about on Debito.org before in the context of Japan’s “Nippon Claiming” (where a mudblood is “claimed” to be a “Japanese”, full stop, as long as she’s at the top of her game; otherwise her mixed-ethnicity becomes a millstone), has now been claimed to the point of “whitewashing”. Yes, her Haitian-American heritage has been washed away in the Japanese media. By one of her main sponsors, no less.  And they did it without clearing it with her first.

Osaka herself commented: “”I don’t think they did it on purpose to be, like, whitewashing or anything, but I definitely think that the next time they try to portray me or something, I feel like they should talk to me about it.”

Well, yeah. But unless Osaka takes active measures to control her image (to look, as she puts it, “tan”), the default standard in the Japanese media (which hasn’t been able to accept other celebrities in Japan of mixed heritage as “Japanese” unless they “look like Japanese”) is to bleach their skin color. Doubt that? Consider what happened to singer Crystal Kay…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 27, 2019

Table of Contents:
THE FAULTY DYNAMIC OF “NIPPON CLAIMING”
1) Japan Times JBC Col 113: “Warning to Naomi Osaka: Playing tennis for Japan can seriously shorten your career” (Sep. 19, 2018)
2) SCMP: “Tennis queen Naomi Osaka a role model, says ‘Indian’ Miss Japan Priyanka Yoshikawa”. A little more complex than that.
3) “Nippon Claimed” multiethnic tennis star Osaka Naomi gets “whitewashed” by her sponsor. Without consulting her. Compare with singer Crystal Kay.

SHENANIGANS
4) Fuji TV’s “Taikyo no Shunkan”: Reality TV targeting NJ as sport. Again.
5) Japan Times officially sanitizes WWII “comfort women” and “forced laborers”. Pressure on my JT Just Be Cause column too.
6) Excellent Japan Times feature on dual citizenship in Japan: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy leaves many in the dark

GOOD NEWS?
7) Nikkei: Japanese-Brazilians snub Tokyo’s diaspora residency program, attracting exactly ZERO applications after starting 3 months ago
8 ) BBC: Fukuoka Hilton Hotel refuses entry to Cuban Ambassador due to “US sanctions”. J authorities call action “illegal”. How quaint.

HOT DISCUSSIONS ON DEBITO.ORG
9) Nikkei Asian Review: “In rural Japan, immigrants spark a rebirth”. An optimistic antidote to the regular media Gaijin Bashing
10) Senaiho on criminal complaint against Jr High School “Hair Police” in Yamanashi
11) SendaiBen on “Anytime Fitness” Sports Gym Gaijin Carding him, and how he got them to stoppit
12) JT: GOJ Cabinet approves new NJ worker visa categories. Small print: Don’t bring your families. Or try to escape.
13) Surprising survey results from Pew Research Center: Japan supportive of “immigration”

… and finally…
14) Pop Matters.com: Interview with Activist and Writer Debito Arudou on Foreigners’ Rights in Japan

Japan Times JBC Column 104: The Top Ten Human Rights Events of 2016

Japan’s human rights issues fared better in 2016
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times, Jan 8, 2017, Column 104 for the Community Page

Welcome back to JBC’s annual countdown of the top issues as they affected Non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan. We had some brighter spots this year than in previous years, because Japan’s government has been so embarrassed by hate speech toward Japan’s minorities that they did something about it. Read on:

No. 10) Government “snitch sites” close down after nearly 12 years…

Rest of the article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/01/08/issues/japans-human-rights-issues-fared-better-2016/
Version with links to sources now up on Debito.org

Japan Times JBC 90: “Claiming the right to be Japanese AND more”, Aug 3, 2015

Here’s my next Japan Times JBC Column 90, disputing the discourse that people 1) have to “look Japanese” in order to be “Japanese”, and 2) cannot be Japanese AND something else (such as a different nationality, “race”, or ethnicity). I make the case that many things such as these, once ascribed from birth, are now a matter of personal choice — and that person must claim it (in the face of constant identity policing) in order to own it.

=============================
JBC: “A Japanese passport? You don’t look Japanese.” I get this all the time. Understandably: Most people don’t expect a Caucasian to have Japanese citizenship.

It’s just a shame they so carelessly articulate their surprise. No matter where I go, a natural curiosity about my background soon turns into vocalized judgment.

“What an unusual name. Where are you from?”
Me: “Japan” (or, “Born in the U.S., lived in Japan,” if I’m feeling chatty).
Their most common response: “But you don’t look Japanese.”

Or Customs and Immigration at any border: “What’s with the Japanese passport?”
“I’m a naturalized Japanese citizen.”
Again, “You don’t look Japanese.” (That’s the milder reaction. In Jamaica, officials took my passport around the office for a laugh. In the U.S., they rendered me to secondary for a few hours of waiting and inquisition until I missed my next flight. Seriously.)

Trying to dodge these questions by saying “It’s a long story” often doesn’t cut it. (American official: “Oh? We’ve got time.”) Having to school everyone about my background on a daily basis gets tiring, and biting my lip through many an intrusive and sometimes humiliating experience leaves psychological “triggers” after a while.

I realized that last month on vacation in Canada, when a bank teller asked for my ID. Passport presented, out it popped: “It’s funny you have a Japanese passport. You don’t look Japanese.” I snapped back: “Let’s not go there. Lose the racism and complete the transaction.”…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 2, 2015

Table of Contents:
THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE FOR NJ WITH THE REACTIONARY-NATIONALIST ABE ADMINISTRATION
2) Discussion: Abe rams through Japan’s new security guidelines: How will this affect NJ and Visible Minorities in Japan?
3) Japan Times: Govt “Snitch Sites” being used to target Zainichi Koreans for harassment
4) Kyodo: “Overseas work, study seen as negative point for hiring anyone handling state secrets” Such as multiethnic Japanese?
5) Mainichi: “Not Japanese Enough?” Bog-standard article about Miss Japan Miyamoto Ariana’s fight against racial discrim in Japan, not in Japanese for J-audience

MISCELLANY
6) Update to Canada bank racism issue: Fascinating FB conversation gets me to capitulate
7) “Gaikokujin ja arimasen: An Analysis of the Interactive Construction and Contestation of Being a Foreigner in Japan”, an academic paper by Dr. Cade Bushnell analyzing the conversation I had with Yunohana management during Otaru Onsen Case
… and finally …
8 ) Japan Times Just Be Cause 89, “Media redraw battle lines in bid for reach”, on Fuji network’s acquisition of Japan Today.com, July 6, 2015

ABC NewsRadio Australia, Japan in Focus: The winner of Miss World Japan, Yoshikawa Priyanka, prompts another racial debate. Interviews Debito

ABC NewsRadio’s Eleni Psaltis presents Japan in Focus, a new program that takes a close look at significant political and cultural developments in Japan.

This week: For the second year in a row a bi-racial woman has won a beauty pageant in Japan, prompting a racial debate; Japan has issued a warning that its businesses may withdraw from the UK once it leaves the European Union; and the Japanese telecoms giant Softbank has bought the British smartphone chip-designing company ARM for more than $30 billion.

Eleni Psaltis speaks to Dr Debito Arudou from the University of Hawaii; Nigel Driffield, a Professor of international business at Warwick business school in the UK; and Dr Harminder Singh, a senior lecturer in Business Information Systems at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand.
http://www.abc.net.au/newsradio/content/s4535998.htm