Finance Minister Aso apologizes if ‘single-race nation’ remark (essentially denying Japan’s officially-recognized multiethnic society) was “misunderstood”

Asahi: After more than a century of forced assimilation and discrimination, the Ainu people were finally recognized as indigenous under legislation enacted in May 2019. But [Finance Minister Taro Aso] apparently forgot about that legislation when he gave a speech at a Jan. 13 meeting with his supporters in his electoral turf of Nogata, Fukuoka Prefecture. “There is no other nation but (Japan) where a single race has spoken a single language at a single location and maintained a single dynasty with a single emperor for over 2,000 years,” said Aso, who is also deputy prime minister. “It is a great nation.” “If my remarks caused a misunderstanding, I apologize and will correct them” Aso said after a Cabinet meeting in Tokyo. [On Jan. 14 he] sort of apologized: “I have no intention of denying the government’s policy.”

COMMENT:  Now, watching an LDP dinosaur making statements like this (who keeps getting re-elected) is frustrating as hell. However, a) it’s refreshing that he “sort of apologized” (we’ve had plenty of these fossilized statements in the past not even getting that much, or even being doubled-down upon by bonafide bigots who nevertheless get re-elected); and b) we have official policy enacted last year (as noted in my annual JT Top Ten Human Rights List for 2019) that has declared the Ainu an indigenous people, meaning Japan is officially multiethnic.  Even Asole himself wasn’t going to (officially) contradict that.  Good news, sort of.

Foreign Minister Kouno Taro asks world media to use Japanese ordering of names (Abe Shinzo, not Shinzo Abe) in overseas reportage. Actually, I agree.

Washington Post: Ahead of a series of important international events in Japan, including a visit from President Trump this weekend, Japan’s foreign minister has said he will issued a request to foreign media: Call our prime minister Abe Shinzo, not Shinzo Abe.

“The new Reiwa era was ushered in, and we are hosting the Group of 20 summit. As many news organizations write Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, it is desirable for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s name to be written in a similar manner,” said foreign minister Taro Kono at a news conference Tuesday, according to the Mainichi Shimbun.

Or perhaps we should say, Kono Taro said that? Kono is the foreign minister’s family name, just as Abe is the Japanese prime minister’s family name. The Japanese diplomat says the family name should be first when referred to in English, as it is when it is written or spoken in Japanese.

COMMENT: Believe it or not, I agree with Kouno Taro. This post is to explain why. Opening the floor to discussion…

Former PM Aso’s last mail magazine: still a sore loser

I am convinced that I have made the right
decision to prioritize policy over politics.

I am also confident that I have advanced the correct policies on
the North Korean issue, the fight against terrorism, and measures
to counter piracy, with an aim to safeguard the nation and the
people.

However, my inadequacy led to this result. I offer a frank apology
and take sincere heed of the people’s voice, determined to make
a fresh start. Safeguard what must be safeguarded. Reform to
safeguard what must be safeguarded. Change what must be changed.
This is the essence of conservative politics.

Aso Cabinet Email Mag: Aso explains himself away to the outside world as he asks for renewed power

Aso Cabinet Email Mag, on the eve of the dissolution of his administration:

The responsibility of politics is none other than to safeguard people’s daily lives and to protect Japan.

As I am in a position of responsibility, I must clarify the fiscal revenues for policies and the path to restore fiscal health in the long term. I must also show a clear diplomatic vision to protect the people. I will work together with the people to create a vision of the future of Japan.

How do we balance the enhancement of the social security system, such as pensions, medical care, and nursing care, with the rebuilding of public finances? How do we work with the international community to address the North Korean issue, which threatens the security of Asia, and the piracy issue, and to fight against terrorism?

For these difficult issues, I will listen to what the people have to say and dedicate myself to fulfilling my political responsibility to safeguard people’s daily lives and to protect Japan.

MMT on Aso Admin’s plans for “secure society”: reforms in five areas. But not immigration.

Japan Today: A government expert panel proposed to Prime Minister Taro Aso on Monday that Japan needs to reform five areas centering on employment in order to construct a ‘‘secure’’ society amid widening social and financial disparities…

To realize a secure society, the panel called for reforms in five areas—employment, child rearing, education, medical care and pensions, with employment being the central axis in a coordinated reform of all five areas.

COMMENT: But not immigration. Still taboo. The semi-official taboo now looks pretty official to me.

Japan Times: PM Aso “stimulus plan” bribe taking flak, also still unclear if NJ get handout

Japan Times: Criticism for a planned ¥2 trillion cash handout program, formally decided by the government led by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito on Wednesday, hasn’t ceased over the weekend, reviving the memory of the 1999 coupon program that cost ¥700 billion but had little benefit for the economy.

Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa, appearing on a TV news program Saturday, waved a ¥10,000 bill before the camera and argued that the government should not be scattering cash around among people with no strategic economic focus.

“The previous coupon handout program boosted the individual consumption portion of gross domestic product by only 0.1 percent. The Economic Planing Agency admitted that it had little economic effect,” Matsuzawa pointed out.

Dozens of governors and mayors similarly have called on the government to spend that amount of money, if ever it will, with a clear strategic focus.

“(The government ) will spend ¥2 trillion, which is equal to the budget of the Tottori Prefectural Government for five years. I cannot even visualize that amount of money,” Tottori Gov. Shinji Hirai said Thursday.

Under the program announced by Prime Minister Taro Aso, the government plans to distribute ¥12,000 to every citizen, plus an additional ¥8,000 for each child 18 or younger and elderly person 65 or older. Whether foreigners will be covered has not been decided yet.

Japan Times Zeit Gist on PM Aso’s connection to WWII forced labor

Japan Times: After evading the issue for more than two years, Taro Aso conceded to foreign reporters on the eve of becoming prime minister that Allied POWs worked at his family’s coal mine in Kyushu during World War II.

But Aso’s terse admission fell far short of the apology overseas veterans’ groups have demanded, while refocusing attention on Japan’s unhealed legacy of wartime forced labor by Asians and Westerners.

Calls for forced labor reparations are growing louder due to Prime Minister Aso’s personal ties to the brutal practice, as well as his combative reputation as a historical revisionist. The New York Times recently referred to “nostalgic fantasies about Japan’s ugly past for which Mr. Aso has become well known.” Reuters ran an article headlined “Japan’s PM haunted by family’s wartime past.”

Three hundred Allied prisoners of war (197 Australians, 101 British and two Dutch) were forced to dig coal without pay for Aso Mining Co. in 1945. Some 10,000 Korean labor conscripts worked under severe conditions in the company’s mines between 1939 and 1945; many died and most were never properly paid…

Courts in Japan and former Allied nations have rejected legal claims by ex-POWs, so the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Norway have all compensated their own surviving POWs. Hundreds of British and Dutch POWs and family members have made reconciliation-style visits to Japan in recent years as part of the Tokyo-sponsored Peace, Friendship and Exchange Initiative. Stiffed by the U.S. government, American POWs have also been excluded from Japan’s reconciliation schemes — a situation they say Prime Minister Aso has a special responsibility to correct…

First Aso Cabinet member resigns — tripped up (inter alia) by comments regarding Japan’s ethnic mix

Well, well, what surprising news tonight. Ministry of Transport etc. resigned today over comments he made, among others, about Japan’s ethnic homogeneity. As I wrote two days ago, I’m pleased that comments like these aren’t allowed to pass any more.

Then again, it’s probably not so surprising — given a litany of comments this twit has a habit of making — such as calling Japan’s largest teacher’s union a “cancer for Japanese education”. See article below.

In the longer view, however, this resignation isn’t all that earth-shattering. This first Aso Cabinet was always meant to be a stopgap measure until the next election in a month and change. But it can’t help the LDP’s image to have this much “thoroughbredness” (or, in my view, inbredness — the media has talked a lot about Aso and company’s relatives as political giants) — and it will (hopefully) convince the voters that the Tired Old Party needs a break from power.

The Aso Cabinet gaffes start from day one: Minister retracts “ethnically homogeneous Japan” remark

AP: New transport minister Nariaki Nakayama on Friday apologized over his controversial remarks that included calling Japan “ethnically homogenous,” in face of criticism triggered not only from opposition parties but from ruling party members. While Nakayama denied resigning over his verbal gaffes, made just a day after he assumed the post under Prime Minister Taro Aso, opposition parties called for his dismissal and said they will question Aso’s responsibility for appointing the minister…

Similar previous remarks by lawmakers that Japan is a mono-racial society drew protests mainly from the Ainu indigenous people in Japan.

Mizuho Fukushima, leader of the Social Democratic Party, said, “Is he ignorant of a Diet resolution which all the members (of both houses of the Diet) supported?” referring to the parliamentary resolution that urged the government to recognize the Ainu as an indigenous people and to upgrade their status as they have led underprivileged lives under the past assimilation policy.

Glimmers of hope: New PM Aso does not single out NJ as potential terrorists or agents of crime

New PM Aso had a good press conference last night to launch his new cabinet, and good news as far as Debito.org goes is that he didn’t try to bash foreigners and link crime and terrorism to them. Contrast that with his behavior as Public Management Minister in the 2003 Koizumi Cabinet. Perhaps he read a critical Japan Times expose back then and saw sense?

J Times’ Philip Brasor on Sasebo Shooting: “Japan faces up to a world of gun crime”

More on the Sasebo Sports Club Shooting (where the media rampantly speculated a gaijin dunnit just because the shooter was tall). Seems according to Philip Brasor of the Japan Times, the willful exceptionalism that Japan practices as part of its national narrative (“Gun crimes are a foreign problem, not something that happens in our peaceful society”–alluded to by PM Fukuda shortly afterwards) has made it quite blind to just how deep gun control problems go here. Excellent investigative journalism sorely lacking in the vernacular media, and the media treatment of the issues proves it.

Aso says Japanese better diplomats due to hair and eye color

“Japan’s outspoken foreign minister said “blue-eyed, blond” Westerners probably would not be as successful as the Japanese in Middle East diplomacy. Aso: “Japan is doing what the Americans can’t do. The Japanese are trusted. It’s probably no good with blue eyes and blond hair,” he was quoted as saying by the papers, referring to projects in Jordan River Rift Valley initiated by Japan.” Along with more articles on Aso’s past and NYT Editorial of Feb 2006.

Jun 6 2006: 2 mil gaikokujin, foreign crime, Kouno Taro, Sorimachi Katsuo

1) FOREIGN POPULATION TOPS 2 MILLION FOR FIRST TIME
2) PM CANDIDATE KOUNO TARO WANTS TO LIMIT FOREIGN POPULATION TO 3%
3) PUNDIT SORIMACHI KATSUO BLAMES FOREIGN CRIME ON A LENIENT JUDICIARY
4) EXCERPTS OF “DANGER! HUMAN RIGHTS BILL” BOOK ONLINE
5) NEW ALIEN REGISTRATION DETAILS
6) UPDATE ON TRAVEL AGENCIES: ESTIMATES NOW COST MONEY?
7) UPDATE ON POLICE HOME VISITS: ANSWERING QUESTIONS IS OPTIONAL
8) UPCOMING CONFERENCE ON MULTICULTURALISM BY IJUUREN, SAPPORO 6/24-5
9) UPCOMING CONFERENCE ON LABOR RIGHTS BY UTU, TOKYO JUNE 25

Reuters and ABC News: Tokyo 2020 chief Mori makes sexist remarks at Olympics meeting. It’s been within character for decades now, so retire him.

ABC News: Mori, an 83-year-old former prime minister of Japan, made the remarks during an executive meeting of the Japanese Olympic Committee that was held online Wednesday. When giving his “private opinion” about the committee’s goal of increasing the number of female board directors from 20% to more than 40%, Mori expressed concern about how that would affect the length of meetings, according to a report by The Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest daily newspapers. […]

“A meeting of an executive board that includes many women would take time,” Mori was quoted as saying by the newspaper. “Women are competitive. When someone raises his or her hand and speaks, they probably think they should speak too. That is why they all end up making comments.” [..] Speaking at a hastily-prepared press conference on Thursday, Mori confirmed he made the comments and offered an apology. “It was an inappropriate remark that went against the spirit of the Olympics and Paralympics,” he said. “I deeply regret it and would like to sincerely apologize to anyone whom I have offended.” When asked about the calls for his resignation, Mori told reporters: “I’m not considering resigning.” […]

COMMENT FROM SUBMITTER MG: “Just wanted to send another bit of good Debito fodder from our ol’ buddy Mori Yoshiro. Just another reminder of what a terrible choice it was to hire this jerk to head an Olympics that really should just never have been handed to Japan in the first place when there was still a ruined Tohoku that needed rebuilding. Were it not for the long-term economic consequences that will follow my beloved adopted home country due to folly of these Games, I would surely enjoy the schadenfreude of a group of elites getting egg all over their face.”

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: Mori, one of Japan’s least-popular Prime Ministers ever, is the type of Japan elite dinosaur zombie politician (in the same vein as equally useless Former PM Aso Taro) who feels he can say whatever bigoted thing pops into his head (as I cover in this blog entry, he’s made many other racist statements), and not be held accountable.  Because he never really has. Despite being a lousy leader, he just keeps on getting jobs leading things — such as high-profile sports committees (the Rugby World Cup in 2019) that turn into international embarrassments.  As it has again today. To Japan, tolerating Mori Yoshiro is like tolerating gaffes from the UK’s Prince Philip.  But Mori is not royalty, endured only because his position is essential upholding an apparently sacrosanct system.  He should be retired from public service immediately even if he refuses to resign. It’s obviously long overdue.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 15, 2021

Table of Contents:
1) Reuters and ABC News: Tokyo 2020 chief Mori makes sexist remarks at Olympics meeting. It’s been within character for decades now, so retire him.
2) Kyodo: Japan developing GPS tracking system for foreign travelers as “anti-virus measure”. So Covid is now another international event, justifying more policing of foreigners only?
3) Kyodo: Tokyo District Court rules in favor of Japan’s ban on dual nationality. My, what paranoia and hypocrisy
4) Full text of SNA VM column 3 now archived on Debito.org: “Racial Profiling at Japanese Hotel Check-Ins”, October 23, 2019
… and finally…
5) My SNA Visible Minorities column 18: “Latest visa rules could purge any foreigner” (Jan 18, 2021), on how Covid countermeasures disproportionately target Non-Japanese against all science or logic

BBC, Yomiuri etc.: LDP now pushing revisionistic, jingoistic and militaristic agenda from above and below, with “Return of Sovereignty Day”, booths at Niconico Douga geek festival

You have to hand it to zealots in political power for their singlemindedness and clarity of message. The extreme-right leaders of the LDP are pursuing their agenda with messianistic fervor from both above and below, opening booths and putting in Prime Ministerial appearances at online geek festivals, and even enlisting the Emperor to push an overtly-politicized agenda of historical revisionism.

BBC: Japan has for the first time marked the anniversary of the end of the allied occupation, which followed its defeat in World War II. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the “restoration of sovereignty day” would give Japan hope for the future and help it become “strong and resolute”. The event is seen as part of Mr Abe’s nationalist campaign. He is also pushing for a revision of Japan’s pacifist constitution to ease tight restrictions on the armed forces… “I want to make this a day when we can renew our sense of hope and determination for the future,” the 58-year-old said in front of officials gathered in Tokyo. “We have a responsibility to make Japan a strong and resolute country that others across the world can rely on,” he said.

Yomiuri: Also behind the government’s decision to sponsor the ceremony is the perceived threat to the nation’s sovereignty, as well as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pursuit of constitutional revision, observers said. Takeshi Noda, chairman of the LDP Research Commission on the Tax System… He believes it is necessary to give the people an opportunity to ponder why the nation lost its sovereignty by considering as a set the April 28 anniversary of the restoration of independence and the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, the day the nation announced its acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration. He calls the Aug. 15 anniversary “the day of humiliation for losing [the nation’s] sovereignty.”… Abe … delivered a video message, saying: “[The nation’s] failure to thoroughly review the Occupation period right after sovereignty was restored has left serious problems. The next [task for us] is [to revise] the Constitution.”

Yomiuri then suddenly opines: Yet the nation’s territory and sovereign power have been threatened daily. China’s maritime surveillance ships have repeatedly intruded into Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. Meanwhile, the Takeshima islands have been illegally occupied by South Korea, and Russia has been intensifying its effective control over the northern territories off Hokkaido. The current situation, in which the nation’s sovereignty is in unprecedented danger, also appears to have fueled Abe’s desire to hold the latest ceremony.

Comment: An even bigger surprise was that PM Abe found the time to put in an appearance at a local geek festival, sponsored by Internet snakepit of bullies and right-winger refuge 2-Channel’s corporate body, Niconico Douga a few days ago! Submitter JJS comments: “Wanted to point your attention to this as it seems like one of those things that will be passed up, glossed over, or completely go unseen by most people. I guess NicoNico video held some type of ‘Big Conference’ called 「ニコニコ超会議2」. It appears at first to be some gathering for tech-heads and geek culture of all kinds. But scroll down a bit to the section 自衛隊や在日米軍、各政党も参加 and you’ll see that Abe came to participate…essentially campaigning at the event. Nico Nico played a big role in one of the debates he proposed be put online, live. But to outright be campaigning at this event seems out of the norm and certainly a bending of the rules. Even more disturbing is the show of military hardware with tie-ins to cute “moe” characters, etc. There is something rotten in Nagatacho and it all seems to be going ‘according to plan.'”

Quite. The zealots leading the LDP have melded nationalism, militarism, and naked political ambition. Something wicked is not only this way coming, it is already here. If the LDP gets its way and converts this tone of agenda into real public policy, Japan is heading for remilitarization all over again

Tangent: Tsutsumi Mika’s crooked Jewish character “Goldberg” in her “USA Poverty Superpower” manga. Ironic, again, given that…

I’ve devoted a couple of blog entries (here and here) plus a Japan Times column to propagandizing journalist Tsutsumi Mika, who has had her “Poverty Superpower of America” book series adapted for Japanese grade-school audiences nationwide and a manga-reading Japanese public.

I’ve already gone into detail elsewhere about the latent journalistic problems with her reportage (not the least the outright falsification of evidence), and the implicit ironies involved with her demonizing a foreign society as a cautionary tale to audiences without sufficient training in comparative cultural study and critical thinking.

Now here’s another irony, sent to me by a friend who wishes to remain anonymous. Further inspection of Tsutsumi’s works reveals an odd attitude towards Jews. Consider this excerpt from her “Poverty Superpower of America” manga, courtesy of Amazon Japan: Here we have a Jew named “David Goldberg” from a financial agency selling bogus house loans to an immigrant Mexican family before the whole US derivatives crisis. Goldberg announces himself as “the ally of the weak” before destroying all of their hopes and dreams.

I wonder what the Jewish anti-defamation leagues would make of Tsutsumi’s Jewish crook? The American Embassy (unlike the Japanese Embassy) is pretty lackadaisical about how the US is portrayed in Japan’s media. But I doubt, say, the Simon Wiesenthal Center would be.

Kyodo: Tokyo District Court rules in favor of Japan’s ban on dual nationality. My, what paranoia and hypocrisy

In a landmark ruling yesterday (see articles below) first testing the waters for allowing Japanese to have more diverse roots in a legal sense, the Tokyo District Court has just ruled that Japanese who obtain other citizenships do not have constitutional protections from being subsequently deprived of Japanese citizenship. This means:

a) If you as a Japanese citizen naturalize in another country, then when the Japanese government decides to take away your Japanese citizenship, you have no legal recourse under the Japanese Constitution.  It can be unilaterally revoked at the government’s discretion.

b) If you as a native-born Japanese citizen have dual nationality due to having international parents, and if you do not declare to the Japanese government that you are a Japanese citizen only (and have renounced all other citizenships by age 22 — as Osaka Naomi, referred to below, reportedly did), then the Japanese government can revoke your Japanese citizenship and not deprive you of any Constitutionally-guaranteed rights.

Conclusion:  Essentially, nothing has changed in practice.  The lower judiciary has essentially just made its stance against dual nationality clear.  Take into account that this ruling, handed down by a notoriously conservative branch of Japan’s judiciary (yes, Tokyo District and High Courts are actually well-known around the Japanese legal community for their very conservative judgments), has merely affirmed what was already true: “two passports = untrustworthy”.  And their legal reasoning mentioned in the articles below reflects that logic, based upon paranoid pre-war arguments about individual mixed allegiances threatening the motherland, etc., with no need to update for the complexities of the modern world.  Should the plaintiffs decide to appeal this case, then the Tokyo High Court and probably eventually the Supreme Court will affirm the lower court’s ruling.  So it’s definitive.

What to do about it:  Continue to follow Debito.org’s advice:  If you have two passports, you always claim to be solely Japanese by age 22 but secretly keep renewing your foreign passport.  The Japanese government is still not fully enforcing any draconian “show us a revoked foreign passport by age 22 or we will revoke your Japanese citizenship” towards all its citizens with international roots.  Given Japan’s dropping population, that’s probably not in its interest.  But if the Japanese government ever gets around to doing that, based upon yesterday’s ruling, as far as the Japanese judiciary is concerned it will have free rein.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 20, 2020

Table of Contents:
1) My SNA Visible Minorities Col 6: “Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move”, Jan 20, 2020
2) 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 (updated for the Great Escape)
3) Finance Minister Aso apologizes if ‘single-race nation’ remark (essentially denying Japan’s officially-recognized multiethnic society) was “misunderstood”
4) My SNA Visible Minorities column 5: “Local Governments Classifying Japanese Citizens as Foreigners”, Dec. 16, 2019
5) “Every Foreign Guest must present passport for photocopying” at Hotel Crown Hills Kokura; Japanese Police up to same old unlawful tricks in Fukuoka Prefecture

… and finally…
6) My Japan Times JBC column 117: The annual Top Ten for 2019 of human rights issues as they affected NJ residents in Japan

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 30, 2019

Table of Contents:
VISA ISSUES, SOME LETHAL
1) SCMP: “Japan: now open to foreign workers, but still just as racist?” Quotes Debito.
2) Mainichi: New “open door” visa programs violate basic NJ human rights (now including marriage and children), don’t resolve cruel detention centers, and still curb actual immigration and assimilation
3) Reuters: Yet another NJ detainee dies after hunger strike after 3 years in Japan “detention center”; time for a change in labeling
4) SCMP: Japan needs thousands of foreign workers to decommission Fukushima nuclear site. High irony alert: First blame NJ, then have them clean up your deadly messes.

VISAS BEING MADE AN ISSUE
5) Yomiuri: GOJ now requiring hospitals (unlawfully) demand Gaijin Cards from NJ as a precondition for medical treatment
6) Mark: New Discriminatory Policy by Rakuten Mobile Inc., now “stricter with foreigners”, refusing even Todai MEXT Scholarship Students cellphones
7) Anonymous on Ethical Issues/Discriminatory practices being carried out by Todai and Kyodai against MEXT scholars
8 ) Kyodo: Half of foreigners in Tokyo experienced discrimination: ARIC survey
9) My Japan Times JBC 115: “Know your rights when checking in at an Airbnb” (Apr 17, 2019)

… and finally…
10) Foreign Minister Kouno Taro asks world media to use Japanese ordering of names (Abe Shinzo, not Shinzo Abe) in overseas reportage. Actually, I agree.

Excellent Japan Times feature on dual citizenship in Japan: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy leaves many in the dark

JT: The nationality law officially obliges those who have multiple citizenships by birthright to choose one by the age of 22. But in fact, possibly hundreds of thousands have maintained multiple nationalities and to date the government has never cracked down on any of them. In response to questions over the number of dual nationals, the Justice Ministry confirmed to The Japan Times that some 890,000 people were or are in a position to have dual nationality. This figure is based on official family registries maintained by local municipalities between 1985 and 2016, and includes people who have declared or forfeited Japanese citizenship, as well as people assumed to have multiple nationalities based on their birthright.

“If I were forced to decide which citizenship to retain and which citizenship to relinquish, I would view it as which culture and which nation am I to abandon.” According to a survey conducted by The Japan Times of 1,449 people with dual nationalities, 76.8 percent maintain dual citizenship while 23.2 percent decided to forfeit one of their passports. The same survey showed that 39.5 percent of multiple passport holders “always” switch passports depending on the country they enter, while 37.3 percent “sometimes” switch passports. With the government’s official position becoming more divorced from a globalizing society where a large number of people maintain dual nationalities, many have to rely on word-of-mouth for information on what they see as an important, life-changing decision regarding their citizenship.

COMMENT: This lengthy feature from The Japan Times conducts original research on dual nationality in Japan, and gives vital insights into the game of legal chicken played by the Japanese Government to get people to forfeit their dual nationality (and by extension, part of their identity), all for mere allegiance to the fiction that Japan is monocultural and homogeneous. This suppression of diversity must stop, but few are taking notice. That is, until recently, when it’s become clear that “Japan-Claiming” of diverse Japanese such as Osaka Naomi helps with the other thing the insecure Japanese Government craves: respect and recognition for excellence on the world stage.

That’s why it’s worth revisiting this older JT article. The takeaway is this: As the JT has also recently reported, there is no real penalty from the Japanese Government for not surrendering your non-Japanese nationality:  “There have been no reported instances of dual nationals by birth having their citizenship revoked.” So as Debito.org has always advised: Declare Japanese nationality and quietly keep renewing your foreign passport. The foreign government will not tell the Japanese authorities (it’s none of their business), and the Japanese authorities cannot strip you of a foreign nationality (or even confiscate a foreign passport–it’s the property of the foreign government). Only you can give one up. So don’t.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 16, 2018

Table of Contents:
CHANGES IN POLICY
1) Japan lowering age of adulthood to from age 20 to 18 in 2022: Also means Japan’s dual nationals now must declare by age 20, not 22.
2) Japan Times: Preferential visa system extended to foreign 4th-generation Japanese [sic]: Allowing even NJ minors to build Olympic facilities!
3) Reuters/Asahi: New “minpaku” law stifles homesharing with tourists, on grounds insinuating foreigners are “unsafe” for children walking to school! (or ISIS terrorists)
4) JT/JIJI: Japan plans new surveillance system to centralize NJ residents’ data. (Actually, it’s to justify police budgets as crime overall continues to drop.)
POLICY NEEDED
5) NHK World: Japan’s social media “rife” with fake rumors after recent Osaka quake, including foreigner “thefts and burglaries”, “looting convenience stores”. Again.
…and finally…
6) Tangent: What I Learned Today #1: Hitler showed a documentary to Scandinavia, and got them to surrender in 1940.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 7, 2018

Table of Contents:
OLYMPICS ISSUES
1) Wash Post: South Korea’s naturalized athletes in the PyeongChang Olympics; beyond treated as mercenaries?
2) Wash Post: “NBC apologizes to Koreans for Olympics coverage praising Japan’s brutal occupation”, rightly so
GOOD STATS AT LAST
3) Kyodo: Official stats on NJ “Trainee” work deaths & accidents; 2x higher than J worker deaths, and likely understated
4) JT: “Japan’s NJ workers reach record 1.28 million with labor crunch”; more grist for the grinder
BAD STATS AS USUAL
5) JT: “Coming of age: 1 in 8 new adults in Tokyo are not Japanese”; underanalyzed stats posing as media peg
6) Hawaii’s false alarm missile attack of Jan 13, 2018. JT reports: “Hawaii residents spooked but Japanese sanguine”. Poor reporting and social science.
FIGHTING BACK
7) Asahi: Japanese living abroad plan unprecedented lawsuit demanding dual citizenship. Bravo!
8 ) New Years Eve 2017 TV Blackface Debate in Japan (again): Referential Links
… and finally…
9) A Top Ten for 2017: Debito’s Japan Times JBC 110: “In 2017, Japan woke up to the issue of discrimination”

Asahi: Japanese living abroad plan unprecedented lawsuit demanding dual citizenship. Bravo!

Here’s something interesting and something to support if you are a Japanese living abroad — the maintenance of your legal identity in the form of dual nationality.

The Asahi reports that several Japanese citizens in Europe unprecedentedly plan to sue the government to abolish the law forcing Japanese to pick one nationality if they take another. Some emigres also want to undo the damage and restore their Japanese nationality.

Naturally, Debito.org wholeheartedly supports this effort.  For too long the embedded binary of “you’re either Japanese or you’re not” (an Ichi-ro or a Ze-ro) has done untold social damage to people of multiple ethnicities and identities.  Nobody in power has ever really listened to them, so now it’s time for the monoethnic Japanese abroad, who want inclusivity for their newfound diversity, to take up the charge.  

Here’s hoping they get heard.  Because others who have championed this sort of thing (such as MP Kouno Taro nearly a decade ago) got nowhere even in their own ruling political party.  Enough Japanese already have dual.  Let’s have the law reflect reality (and not institutionalize identity policing) at last.

October 2017 Lower House Election Briefing: LDP wins big again, routs Japan’s left wing, but some silver linings to be had

As is tradition on Debito.org (see previous writings here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), after a Japanese election we analyze the results:

WINNERS AND LOSERS:
The LDP won big, retaining its absolute 2/3 majority beyond 310 seats in the assembly. But it wasn’t an unqualified win. It retained exactly the same number as last time. However, KMT lost five seats from the 34 it had pre-election.

However, the protest vote by people who wanted a party to keep Japan’s Constitution as it is (the CDP), won bigger, going from 15 seats from its DPJ/DP politicians to a full 55. Message: The DPJ is dead, long live its spirit in the CDP.

The losers were just about everyone else. Koike’s Hope Party dropped from 57 to 50 seats, the far-right Japan Restoration Party (Nihon Ishin no Kai) from 14 to 11, the far-left Communist Party from 21 to 12, and the tiny socialist Social Democratic Party (Shamintou) holding steady at two seats.

The biggest losers were the party-unaffiliated politicians (mushozoku) on both sides. The ones leaning left went from 27 seats to 21, while the ones leaning right went from eleven to one! Part of this is that due to the Proportional Representation vote (which only applies to official parties), these independents had to win in single-seat constituencies. But the bigger reason seems to be that brand recognition these days sells well: Either you stampeded with the herd under the LDP’s umbrella, or you went for a party flavor du jour (which quickly soured under Koike’s Hope, but clearly flowered under the CDP).

More past writings and analysis follow:

Irish Times: Abe Admin in trouble due to ultranationalistic kindergarten Moritomo Gakuen, its perks, and its anti-Korean/Chinese racism

Here’s a story that people have been talking about for quite some time in the Comments section of Debito.org (but sandbagged by other projects, I haven’t quite gotten to until now, thanks to this good round-up article by Dr. David McNeill): Schools fostering ultra-rightist narratives even from a kindergarten age (in this case, the Moritomo Gakuen Case in Osaka, with its former honorary principal being PM Abe’s wife).

One thing I’ve always wondered about these nationalistic schools designed to instill “love of country” and enforce patriotism from an early age (which are, actually, not a new phenomenon, see also here): How are they supposed to deal with students who are of mixed heritage, or of foreign descent? As Japan’s multiethnic Japanese citizen population continues to grow thanks to international marriage, are these students also to be taught that love of country means only one country? Or that if they are of mixed roots, that they can only “love” one side?

This sort of jingoism should be on its way out of any developed society in this increasingly globalizing world. But, alas, as PM Abe toadies up to Trump, I’m sure the former will find plenty of things to point at going on in the USA to justify Japan’s renewed exclusionism, and “putting Japan first” through a purity narrative. Still, as seen below, the glimmer of hope is the charge that this school’s funny financial dealings (and their anointment of Abe’s wife as “honorary principal”) might in fact be the thing that brings down the Abe Administration (if it does, I’ll begin to think that Japan’s parliamentary system is actually healthier than the US’s Executive Branch). And that Japan’s hate speech law has in fact bitten down on their racist activities. An interesting case study in progress.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEB 19, 2017

Table of Contents:
MEDIA NORMALIZING DISCRIMINATION
1) JT: “Japan’s shared dwellings are evolving to meet diverse needs of tenants”: Basically NJ tenants on same level as pets
2) Reuters: Japan’s NJ workers reach record 1 million; but fine print overlooked, e.g., conflating “Trainees” with “Workers”
3) Kyodo: Trainee program, small firms drive rise in Japan’s foreign worker numbers. More data, same misleading gloss.
4) Wash Post & BBC: “Japan gets first sumo champion in 19 years”. Really? What oddly racist triumphalism from foreign press!
5) Ueno Chizuko, fabled feminist Sociology Prof. Emeritus at Tokyo U, argues in newspaper column that Japan will never accept foreigners, and Japanese should just decline into poverty together. Geriatrically rigid rigor.
MISC
6) Japan Times: Group drawing on long-term NJ residents to help newcomers navigate life in Japan
7) Problematic Fukuoka Pref. Police sign warning against “Foreign Travelers in Rental Cars”
8 ) Pacific Affairs journal book review of “Embedded Racism”: “a timely and important contribution to social and scholarly debates about racial discrimination in Japan”
… and finally…
9) Japan Times JBC Column 104: The Top Ten Human Rights Events of 2016

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.

JT on Japan’s Brave Blossoms rugby team: “Imagining a Japan that thinks beyond blood and binary distinctions”

One important item that Debito.org has been negligent in celebrating is the victories of the Japan “Brave Blossoms” multiethnic rugby team. They did very well, finishing ninth in the world rankings, even unexpectedly beating South Africa in a match, and part of that was claimed as being due to their multiethnic mix.

An interesting think-piece (that says much of what Debito.org has been saying for decades, and it’s nice to see that others share that view in print) came out in the Japan Times last October. I’ll excerpt bits below that are pertinent to the rugby issue. Bear in mind, however, that rugby in Japan has been decried as being TOO foreign in the past, and seen as a reason why Japan was losing (which was why the team was afterwards ethnically cleansed (see Embedded Racism p. 156), albeit clearly temporarily). Then, once Japan wins, those very same characteristics are claimed as the reason why. It would be nice if someday people would just keep analysis on the level of the talents of individual players, but that’s pretty far off (what with the beating of nationalistic drums every Olympics).

Anyway, Debito.org (belatedly) congratulates the Brave Blossoms on a job well done, and wishes them well in the future. Sport can have a positive effect too on social tolerance. As long as your teams wins, of course.

JT: The recent heroics of Japan’s team in the Rugby World Cup — three wins in the group stage, including the historic nail-biting victory over South Africa — pave the way for two potentially positive outcomes: a bright future for rugby on these islands, and, just maybe, a template to discuss identity and belonging in Japan.

It was obvious to anyone watching the Brave Blossoms’ games that of the 31 players included in Japan’s squad, some of the players did not appear — how should we put it? — typically Japanese. In fact, 11 players were born outside Japan — the same number, incidentally, as for the Welsh and Scottish teams. Under current rugby union rules, a player can be considered for selection for the national team if, amongst other considerations, they have lived in the country for three consecutive years. But in 2015, how do we define “typically Japanese”? Do we do so through blood, race and ethnicity? Or would we not be better off opening up the field, and, much like the vaunted rugby squad, considering new ideas, while relegating outdated terms and modes of thinking to the sin bin?

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”

CSM: Reviving Shinto: Prime Minister Abe tends special place in Japan’s soul for mythology

CSM: The decision to host the G-7 summit near Ise underscores Abe’s devout Shinto faith. Yet his commitment to Japan’s indigenous religion has led to far more than symbolic gestures. He and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have pursued a wide range of Shinto-inspired policies – from more openly embracing Japan’s imperial heritage to reforming aspects of Japanese education and even re-evaluating the country’s wartime record – with the explicit goal of renewing what they say are traditional values.

As old perhaps as Japan itself, Shinto has no explicit creed or major religious texts. Its adherents pray to “kami,” spirits found in objects both living and inanimate, and believe in a complex body of folklore that emphasizes ancestor worship. But as Japan modernized in the late 19th century, officials made Shinto the state religion, and Japanese were taught to view​ the emperor as having divine stature. The religion became closely associated with Japanese militarism, leading to its separation from state institutions after World War II.

Shinto struggled for decades to find a place in postwar Japan, and given the religion’s history, some critics see the country’s newfound interest in it as a sign of simmering nationalism at best. At worst, they describe it as a reprise of the official State Shinto of imperial Japan. But among conservatives it reflects a palpable fear that Japan has somehow gone adrift after two decades of economic stagnation, rampant materialism, and the rise of neighboring China. Many believe the time has come for the religion to regain its rightful place in the public sphere.

“Shinto is refusing to be restricted to the private and family life,” says Mark Mullins, a professor of Japanese studies at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. “There is this sense that Japan needs to get back what it lost after World War II and that this will be good for the nation.”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 5, 2015

Table of Contents:
DEFENDING THE NEW STATUS QUO
2) Another Gaijin Handler speaks at East-West Center: Dr. Nakayama Toshihiro, ahistorically snake-charming inter alia about how Japan’s warlike past led to Japan’s stability today (Sept. 15, 2015)
3) Tangent: Economist on “Japan’s Citizen Kane”: Shouriki Matsutaro; explains a lot about J-media’s interlocking relationship with J-politics
4) JK on emerging GOJ policies towards refugees & immigration, still not allowing them to stay in Japan: “tourists yes, refugees & immigrants no”

SHINING A LIGHT ON AREAS NEEDING CHANGE
5) Nikkei interview with Japan’s most famous naturalized former Zainichi Korean: SoftBank’s Son Masayoshi
6) Honolulu Civil Beat: Cultural Exchange Program or a Ticket to Sweatshop Labor? Contrast US with J example of exploitative visa conditions
7) Yomiuri: More Japanese public baths OK tattooed visitors (particularly NJ) for 2020 Olympics: suddenly it’s all about showing “understanding of foreign cultures”

… and finally…
8 ) Japan Times JBC 91 Sept 7, 2015: Why Japan’s Right keeps leaving the Left in the dust

Nikkei interview with Japan’s most famous naturalized former Zainichi Korean: SoftBank’s Son Masayoshi

Son: I decided to go against the tide and become the first among my relatives to use Son as my family name. I won’t go into the reasons and the origin of this issue, but if you are born into one of those families of Korean descent, you are subject to groundless discrimination. There are many children who undergo such hardship. When I was in elementary and junior high school, I was in agony over my identity so much that I seriously contemplated taking my own life. I’d say discrimination against people is that tough.

Then you might ask why I decided to go against all my relatives, including uncles and aunts, and started to use the Korean family name, Son. I wanted to become a role model for ethnic Korean children and show them that a person of Korean descent like me, who publicly uses a Korean surname, can achieve success despite various challenges. If my doing so gives a sense of hope to even just one young person or 100 of them, I believe that is a million times more effective than raising a placard and shouting, “No discrimination.”

COMMENT: While I don’t really see Son’s sensitivity towards minorities in Japan translating into flexibility towards NJ residents in SoftBank’s business practices (SoftBank, like NTT DoCoMo, demands a deposit from its NJ customers (to the tune of 100,000 yen) in order to get an iPhone subscription (something not mentioned on its Japanese site). I also have a friend from overseas who, during his monthlong journeys around Japan, had his phone hacked into, and was saddled with a $1400 internet bill on his credit card when he went back; protests to the company were met with a, “You’re a foreigner, so you must have misunderstood how to use our phone; you’re just trying to skip out on paying your bill,” reception from SoftBank. This despite SoftBank having him on record renting the very same phone five times before and paying without incident.), Son is being interviewed by the Nikkei as a discrimination fighter. This is the first I’ve heard of him doing this (and I hope this article also came out in Japanese), so let’s hope he continues in this vein. And that SoftBank knocks off its hypocritically discriminatory business practices.

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

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 4, 2015

Table of Contents:
GOOD NEWS
1) Debito.org Post #2500: Dr. M.G. “Bucky” Sheftall’s speeches at the opening of “Kamikaze” suicide pilots exhibit aboard USS Missouri, Apr 10 and 11, 2015
2) Kyodo: Summary Court overturns fine levied on Filipino-Japanese man after Osaka police botch assault probe — that punished him for defending himself against drunk Japanese assailants!

SAME OLD, SAME OLD
3) Tokyo sushi shop Mizutani, with 2 Michelin stars, refuses NJ customers; awaiting Michelin Guides’ response
4) Kyodo: Ryukoku U exchange student denied “No Foreigner” Kyoto apartment in 2013; MOJ in 2015 decides it’s not a violation of human rights!
5) FCCJ’s Number One Shimbun on how GOJ is leaning on critical foreign correspondents (incl. accusing them of being on Chinese payroll!)

AN INTERESTING TANGENT
6) 1912 essay: “Japanese Children are no Menace in Hawaii” (from a “Prosperity-Sharing System for Plantation Laborers” handbook), with surprisingly inclusive arguments
… and finally…
7) My Japan Times JBC Column 86 April 6, 2015: “Japan makes more sense through a religious lens”

FCCJ’s Number One Shimbun on how GOJ is leaning on critical foreign correspondents (incl. accusing them of being on Chinese payroll!)

Germis: What is new, and what seems unthinkable compared to five years ago, is [foreign correspondents] being subjected to attacks from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – not only direct ones, but ones directed at the paper’s editorial staff in Germany. After the appearance of an article I had written that was critical of the Abe administration’s historical revisionism, the paper’s senior foreign policy editor was visited by the Japanese consul general of Frankfurt, who passed on objections from “Tokyo.” The Chinese, he complained, had used it for anti-Japanese propaganda.

It got worse. Later on in the frosty, 90-minute meeting, the editor asked the consul general for information that would prove the facts in the article wrong, but to no avail. “I am forced to begin to suspect that money is involved,” said the diplomat, insulting me, the editor and the entire paper. Pulling out a folder of my clippings, he extended condolences for my need to write pro-China propaganda, since he understood that it was probably necessary for me to get my visa application approved. Me? A paid spy for Beijing? […] The heavy handedness has been increasing over the past few years […] MoFA officials now seem to openly attack critical reporting. I was called in after a story on the effect the prime minister’s nationalism is having on trade with China. I told them that I had only quoted official statistics, and their rebuttal was that the numbers were wrong. […]

I’ve heard of an increase in the number of lunch invitations from government officials to foreign correspondents, and the increased budgets to spread Japanese views of World War II, and the new trend to invite the bosses of foreign correspondents deemed too critical (via business class, of course). But I would suggest the proponents tread carefully, since these editors have been treated to – and become inured to – political PR of the highest caliber and clumsy efforts tend to have an opposite effect. When I officially complained about the Consul’s comments about my receiving funds from China, I was told that it was a “misunderstanding.”

My Japan Times JBC Column 86 April 6, 2015: “Japan makes more sense through a religious lens”

JBC: Ever noticed how Japan — and in particular, its ruling elite — keeps getting away with astonishing bigotry? Recently Ayako Sono, a former adviser of the current Shinzo Abe government, sang the praises of a segregated South Africa, advocating a system where people would live separately by race in Japan (a “Japartheid,” if you will). But that’s but the latest stitch in a rich tapestry of offensive remarks.

Remember former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s claim that “old women who live after losing their reproductive function are useless and committing a sin,” or his attribution of Chinese criminality to “ethnic DNA” (both 2001)? Or former Prime Minister Taro Aso admiring Nazi subterfuge in changing Germany’s prewar constitution (2013), arguing that Western diplomats cannot solve problems in the Middle East because of their “blue eyes and blond hair,” and advocating policies to attract “rich Jews” to Japan (both 2001)? Or then-Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone declaring Japan to be “an intelligent society” because it was “monoracial,” without the “blacks, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans” that dragged down America’s average level of education (1986)?

Although their statements invited international and domestic protest, none of these people were drummed out of office or even exiled to the political wilderness. Why? Because people keep passing off such behavior as symptomatic of “weird, quirky Japan,” i.e., “They say these things because they are Japanese – trapped in uniquely insular mentalities after a long self-imposed isolation (sakoku).”

Such excuses sound lame and belittling when you consider that it’s been 160 years since Japan ended its isolation, during which time it has successfully copied contemporary methods of getting rich, waging war and integrating into the global market.

This treatment also goes beyond the blind-eyeing usually accorded to allies due to geopolitical realpolitik. In the past, analysts have gone so gaga over the country’s putative uniqueness that they have claimed Japan is an exception from worldwide socioeconomic factors including racism, postcolonial critique and (until the bubble era ended) even basic economic theory!

So why does Japan keep getting a free pass? Perhaps it’s time to start looking at “Japaneseness” through a different lens: as a religion. It’s more insightful…
===================================

Read the rest in the Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/04/05/issues/viewed-religious-lens-japan-makes-sense/. This will be the anchor site, so feel free to comment below.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 4, 2015

Table of Contents:
ON BIRTHDAYS AND BIRTHDAY PRESENTS
1) I turned 50 years old on January 13, 2015. Photo on the day.
2) A debate I’ve been having on whether birthdays are to be celebrated or not. Discuss.
3) Lawyer threatens Debito.org in 2009 re a 1993 article in The Australian Magazine on Japan pundit Gregory Clark. Had received reprint permission, so nothing came of it.
NOW BACK TO BUSINESS AS USUAL
EXCLUSIONISM
4) IPC Digital et al.: Shizuoka Iwata City General Hospital doctor refuses care to Brazilian child, curses out parents and tells them to “die” (kuso, shine)
5) Khaosod (Thailand): Taxi Association Condemns ‘No Japanese Passengers’ Sign
MIXED MESSAGES
6) Nobel Prize winner Dr. Shuji “Slave” Nakamura urges Japan’s youth to “get out of Japan”
7) Fukuoka Subway Poster Contest winner: Rude Statue of Liberty “overdoes freedom”, takes space from J passengers
MISPLACED HOPE
8 ) Yomiuri: GOJ sky-pie policy proposes to deal with rural population decrease with resettlement info websites, and robots!
9) Japan Times: Japan’s “Omotenashi” (“selfless hospitality”) not in tune with what visitors want, NJ expert warns
…and finally…
10) My Japan Times JBC 83 Jan 1, 2015: “Hate, Muzzle and Poll”: Debito’s Annual Top Ten List of Human Rights News Events for 2014

Fun Facts #19: JT: Supreme Court denying welfare for NJ residents inspires exclusionary policy proposals by fringe politicians; yet the math does not equal the hype

JT: But the July ruling [that found permanent residents of Japan legally ineligible for public assistance] has given momentum to some forces, including those harboring anti-foreigner sentiments and advocates of cutting “waste” in government spending, to try to limit foreigners’ access to welfare. The minor opposition party Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations), co-founded by ultranationalist Shintaro Ishihara, plans to submit bills to the extraordinary Diet session that would give destitute foreigners a year to choose between two extremes: becoming naturalized citizens or leaving the country.

The move follows an August proposal, by a team of lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Democratic party tasked with eliminating wasteful state spending, to restrict welfare assistance to foreigners. “The welfare outlays to foreigners run up to ¥122 billion per year,” the Aug. 4 report by the LDP team said. “We must say it is difficult to maintain the status quo.” The team also said the government “should create guidelines (on public assistance) for foreigners who arrive in Japan, and consider deporting those who cannot maintain a living.”

JT commenter: “According to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Japan’s total social welfare benefits reached ¥103.487 trillion in fiscal 2010, topping ¥100 trillion for the first time.”
Source: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2012/12/12/editorials/footing-for-social-welfare/

Okay, so in Japan, the total welfare budget is 103.487 trillion yen. But only 0.122 trillion yen of that goes to foreigners, so that means that the other 103.365 trillion yen are going to Japanese people! Here, let’s do some math:

103.487 trillion yen / 127 million Japanese = Each Japanese person is, on average, sucking 814,858 yen per year from the welfare system!

Now let’s do the math for foreigners:
122 billion yen / 2 million foreigners = Each foreigner is, on average, sucking 61,000 yen per year from the welfare system!

Japan’s GDP is 536,122,300,000,000 yen (over 536 TRILLION yen). So 122 billion yen is less than 0.03% of Japan’s economy. Basically, Shintaro Ishihara with his Jisedai no Tou, and the LDP, are wasting countless hours of time on something that, at best, will save Japan 0.03% of its GDP. To make an analogy, I make about $28,000 a year. So this is the same as me OBSESSING and LOSING SLEEP AT NIGHT over how I can save $8 per year.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 9, 2014

Table of Contents:
HATE SPEECH AND THE BLAME GAME

1) Blame Game #433: JT on “Rumors of Foreign Looters in Hiroshima Unfounded”, “Social Media Rehashes Historical Hate”, and Economist on unoptimistic outcomes re hate speech law
2) Asahi Editorial: PM Abe and his Cabinet picks must clarify stance on Zaitokukai, racism
3) JT on hate speech and GOJ’s connections to organized crime: “Yakuza do what Abe Cabinet’s Yamatani can’t”
4) Blame Game #432: J-Cast.com reports Mt. Fuji is covered in human poop, speculates due to increase in foreign tourists

OUTRIGHT MEANNESS AND DECEPTION
5) JT: Ishihara and Hiranuma’s conservative party to submit bill halting welfare for needy NJ a la July Supreme Court decision
6) 2014 MOFA pamphlet explaining Hague Treaty on Child Abductions to J citizens (full text with synopsis, including child-beating NJ father on cover & victimized J mothers throughout)
7) SCMP (Hong Kong) on MOFA Hague Pamphlet: “‘Racist’ cartoon issued by Japanese ministry angers rights activists”, cites Debito.org (UPDATE: Also makes Huffington Post Japan in Japanese & Al Jazeera)

GOOD NEWS
8 ) Quoted in BBC Brasil (original Portuguese & machine E translation): “Japan receives criticism from the UN after wave of xenophobia in the streets”
9) Debito receives his Ph.D. Sept. 18, 2014, at Meiji Gakuin University ceremony. Photo included.

… AND FINALLY… (I forgot to append my column to the Newsletter last month, so here are two of them this month)
10) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 78, August 14, 2014, “Past victimhood blinds Japan to present-day racial discrimination”
11) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 79, on Japan’s Visible Minorities, Sept. 4, 2014 (version with links to sources)

Blame Game #433: JT on “Rumors of Foreign Looters in Hiroshima Unfounded”, “Social Media Rehashes Historical Hate”, and Economist on unoptimistic outcomes re hate speech law

Continuing on with the theme of Japan’s Blame Game (as in, blame foreigners for any social ill that you don’t want to take responsibility for), this blog entry talks about the phenomenon of blame speech morphing into hate speech (not that far of a stretch, given the irresponsible nature of anonymous social media). We have people conjuring up fake stories of foreigners looting after natural disasters that got so bad that even the Japanese police (who are not positively predisposed to foreign residents in the first place — they’re usually on the front lines of blaming them for foreign crime and the undermining of Japanese society) are stepping in to defend them (article included).

This is ironic, since NHK has recently reported there have been 1200 burglaries in post-disaster Fukushima and perps are Japanese (article). And it’s not the first time that the authorities have had to step in and dispel rumors targeting NJ residents. Consider what happened weeks after the 2011 Fukushima disasters. Rumors were circulating about foreign crime all over again and had to be tamped down upon (article). Despite the fact that crime was occurring and probably not due to NJ (article). Note how J crime naturally causes considerably less media panic. But since there are no legal restrictions on hate speech in Japan, if you can’t say something nice about people, say it about foreigners. And there is in fact a long history of this sort of thing going on (article), what with the massacre of Korean residents back in 1923.

To be sure, hate speech has finally become an issue in Japan. A recent NHK survey has shown that a vast majority of the Japanese public think hate speech is a problem, and a near-majority think that legislation is needed (article). That said, I remain unoptimistic about how things will turn out, especially given the bent of the current administration. The Economist (London) appears to share that view, even hinting that it may be used to stifle pertinent criticisms of the government (as opposed to nasty speculation about minorities and disenfranchised peoples) (article).

So what to do? I still remain in support of a law against hate speech (as is the United Nations), i.e., speech that foments fear, hatred, and related intolerance towards disenfranchised peoples and minorities in Japan. Those are the people who need protection against the powerful precisely because they are largely powerless to defend themselves as minorities in an unequal social milieu. The Japanese government’s proposed definition of hate speech (taken from the NHK article above) of 「人種や国籍、ジェンダーなどの特定の属性を有する集団をおとしめたり、差別や暴力行為をあおったりする言動や表現行為」(behavior or expressive activity that foments discrimination or violence toward, or disparages people belonging to groups distinguished by race, citizenship, gender etc.) is a decent one, and a good start. Where it will go from here, given the abovementioned extremities of Japan’s current right-wing political climate, remains to be seen.

JT: Ishihara and Hiranuma’s conservative party to submit bill halting welfare for needy NJ a la July Supreme Court decision

In a show of xenophobia mixed with outright meanness, Japan’s political dinosaurs (we all know what a nasty person Ishihara Shintaro is, but remember what kind of a bigot Hiranuma Takeo is too) will propose legislation that will officially exclude NJ taxpayers down on their luck from receiving the benefits to social welfare that they have paid into. Put simply, they are seeking to legislate theft. Oh, and just in case you think “if you want equal rights in Japan, you should naturalize”, they’ve thought of that too, and according to the article below are calling for naturalization to become more stringent as well.

This is on the heels of a dumbfoundingly stupid Supreme Court decision last July that requires Japanese citizenship for access to public welfare benefits. I’ve heard people say that all this decision did was clarify the law, and that it won’t affect the local governments from continuing to be more humanitarian towards foreign human residents. But you see, it HAS affected things — it’s now encouraged rightists to codify more exclusivity, not leftists more inclusivity. In this currently far-right political climate in Japanese politics and governance, more exclusionism, not less, will become normalized, as long as the mindsets and actions of these horrible old men are allowed to pass without comment or critique.

Well, that’s one reason Debito.org is here — comment and critique — and we say that these old bigots should have their legacy denied. But remember, it’s not as simple as waiting for the Old Guard to die off (Nakasone Yasuhiro, remember, is still alive and pretty genki at age 96), because a new generation of conservative elites are waiting like a row of shark’s teeth to replace the old. Be aware of it, and tell your voting Japanese friends about how this affects you. Because no-one else can with such conviction. You must do all that you can so your legacy, not theirs, wins.

My Japan Times JBC column 76: “Humanize the dry debate about immigration”, June 5, 2014, with links to sources

Opening: Japan’s pundits are at it again: debating what to do about the sinking demographic ship. With the low birthrate, aging and shrinking society (we dropped below 127 million this year) and top-heavy social security system, Japan’s structural problems will by many accounts spell national insolvency.

However, we’re hearing the same old sky pies: Proposals to plug the gaps with more Japanese babies, higher retirement ages, more empowered women in the workplace — even tax money thrown at matchmaking services!

And yet they still won’t work. Policymakers are working backwards from conclusions and not addressing the structural problems, e.g., that people are deserting a depopulating countryside for urban opportunities in an overly centralized governmental system, marrying later (if at all) and finding children too expensive or cumbersome for cramped living spaces, having both spouses work just to stay afloat, and feeling perpetual disappointment over a lack of control over their lives. And all thanks to a sequestered ruling political and bureaucratic elite whose basic training is in status-quo maintenance, not problem-solving for people they share nothing in common with.

Of course, proposals have resurfaced about letting in more non-Japanese (NJ) to work….

IPC: Five female Japanese students reported twice raping a Peruvian classmate in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka

Debito.org Reader IA comments: This week I read about a horrific case of ijime in Shizuoka Ken, a Peruvian girl was raped by five [female] classmates. The worst part is the authorities just bow the head and said they could only offer money nothing else. I’ll give you more details if you want. I’m trying to find the news in English or Japanese and I also sent an e-mail to the Spanish newspaper where I read about it to get more information in your language. This is awful I want to vomit. If the case was from the opposite side I’m sure the reaction could be different.

No doubt it would. I don’t know about the money part, but this apparently is the rumor circulating around the Peruvian community in Japan. Anyone else heard about this, especially in the J-media? If you haven’t, I bet you also haven’t heard about the Herculano Murder Case, either. I hope it won’t suffer the same fate. Machine-translated Spanish newspaper article from International Press on this case follows.

UPDATE APRIL 23, 2014: The Peruvian Embassy is getting involved.
UPDATE APRIL 24, 2014: The Peruvian Consul visits Fujinomiya, secures the cooperation of the authorities, but the family leaves town, having learned that the abuses allegedly took place on school grounds and were were filmed and photographed.

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column January 7, 2014: “The empire strikes back: The top issues for NJ in 2013”, with links to sources

Happy New Year to all Debito.org Readers. Thank you as always for reading and commenting. 2014 has a few things looming that will affect life for everyone (not just NJ) in Japan, as I allude to in my Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column of January 7, 2014:

“The empire strikes back: The top issues for NJ in 2013″
By ARUDOU, Debito, Column 71 for the Japan Times Community Pages

Welcome to JBC’s annual countdown of 2013’s top human rights events as they affected non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan. This year was more complex, as issues that once targeted NJ in specific now affect everyone in general. But here are six major events and five “bubble-unders” for your consideration:

6. Fukushima is complicated by xenophobia
5. Japan to adopt Hague treaty
4. Visa regimes get a rethink
3. Hate speech turns murderous
2. LDP holds both Diet chambers
1. The state secrets law

Bubbling under:
11. Marutei Tsurunen, Japan’s first foreign-born Diet member of European descent, loses his seat.
10. Donald Richie, one of the last of the first postwar generation of NJ commentators on Japan, dies aged 88.
9. Beate Sirota Gordon, one of the last living architects of the liberalizing reforms within the postwar Japanese Constitution, dies at 89.
8. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto takes a revisionist stance on Japanese history regarding the wartime sex-slave issue and reveals his camp’s political vulnerability.
7. Tokyo wins the 2020 Olympics, strengthening the mandate of Japan’s ruling class and vested construction interests

Discussion: Osaka Mayor Hashimoto and GOJ WWII Sexual Slavery System: A brave debate that is suddenly and disingenuously circumspect

Below are Hashimoto’s statements to foreign press shortly before he appeared at the FCCJ on May 27. While I am disinclined to comment on the historical specifics (as I haven’t studied the WWII Sexual Slavery aka Comfort Women Issue sufficiently to make informed statements), I will say this about what Hashimoto’s doing: He’s bringing the issue to the fore for public scrutiny.

Bring this before public scrutiny in itself is a good thing. Too many times we have had bigoted, racist, sexist, and plain ahistorical statements by Japan’s public officials downplayed by the media, resulting in predictable backpedaling and claiming that comments were “for a domestic audience only”. This is typically followed by snap resignations without sufficient debate or correction (or, in recent years, people not resigning at all and just waiting for the next media cycle for things to blow over), undercarpet sweeping, and a renewed regional toxic aftertaste: How Japan’s elite status in Asia under America’s hegemony allows it to remain historically unrepentant and a debate Galapagos in terms of historical accountability. Japan’s media generally lacks the cojones to bring the xenophobic and bigoted to account for their statements (after all, Hashimoto to this day has not developed a filter for his role as public official; he still talks like the outspoken lawyer he was when appearing on Japanese TV as a pundit). So having him show some unusual backbone before the foreign press is something more Japanese in positions of power should do. Let’s have the debate warts and all, and let the historians debunk the ahistorical claims being made. But the claims have to be made clearly in the first place before they can be debunked.

The bad thing going on here, in my view, is that Hashimoto is rationalizing and normalizing sexual slavery as a universal part of war — as if “blaming Japan” is wrong because everyone allegedly did it. In his words, “It would be harmful, not only to Japan but also to the world, if Japan’s violation of the dignity of women by soldiers were reported and analyzed as an isolated and unique case, and if such reports came to be treated as common knowledge throughout the world.” That is: Japan did nothing all that wrong because it did nothing unusually wrong.

Hashimoto is also denying that the GOJ was “intentionally involved in the abduction and trafficking of women”. And that is wrong both morally and factually. It is also wrong because working backwards from a conclusion of relativism. People (especially those of Hashimoto, Abe, and Ishihara’s political bent) have the tendency to not want to view their “beautiful country” “negatively” as the bad guy in the movie. Therefore their countrymen’s behavior must have been within context as part of the “normal”, because to them it is inconceivable that people could possibly have acted differently in the same circumstances.

But not only is this a dishonest assessment of history (EVERY country, yes, has a history that has shameful periods; the trick is not to cover them up, as Hashimoto’s ilk seeks to do, down to Japan’s education curriculum), but it is also disingenuously circumspect: For Hashimoto’s ilk, not only must Japan be seen ACCURATELY (as they see it), it must be seen NICELY. That’s simply not possible for certain time periods in Japan’s history.

At least Hashimoto is willing to boldly present that side for people to shoot down. Hopefully he will lose his political career because of it, for a man like this is unfit to hold political office. But it is more “honest” than the alternative.

Hashimoto’s statements follow in English and Japanese, plus an AJW article on the FCCJ Q&A. After that, let’s have some comments from Debito.org Readers. But an advance word of warning: Although this falls under Discussions (where I moderate comments less strictly), the sensitive and contentious nature of this subject warrants a few advance ground rules: Comments will NOT be approved if a) they seek to justify sexual slavery or human trafficking in any form, b) they try to claim that Hashimoto was misquoted without comparing the misquote to his exact quote, or c) they claim historical inaccuracy without providing credible historical sources. In sum, commenters who seek to justify Hashimoto’s ahistorical stances will have to do more homework to be heard on Debito.org. Conversely, comments will more likely be approved if they a) stick to the accuracy or logic of Hashimoto’s statements, b) talk about the debate milieu within Japan regarding this topic, c) take up specific claims and address them with credible sources. Go to it. But make sure in the course of arguing that you don’t sound like Hashimoto and his ilk yourself.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 13, 2013

Table of Contents:

DISINGENUOUSNESS, AS USUAL
1) NYT Editorial: Japan’s “Unnecessary Nationalism”, re the trappings of GOJ’s rightward swing
2) BBC, Yomiuri etc.: LDP now pushing revisionistic, jingoistic and militaristic agenda from above and below, with “Return of Sovereignty Day”, booths at Niconico Douga geek festival
3) JDP: Abe criticizes rise of hate speech in Japan, calls it “dishonorable” and counter to “The Japanese Way of thinking”. My, how disingenuous.
4) NYT: Violating IOC rules, Tokyo Gov Inose bad-mouths other 2020 Olympic bidders, particularly Istanbul for being “Islamic”
5) Tangent on Sexual Minorities: Gay marriage trends worldwide, and how Japan’s Douseiaisha do it: Donald Keene’s marriage by Koseki adoption

MORE STRAWS FOR THE CAMEL’S BACK
6) JT: Japan’s minimum retirement age to increase to 65 by 2025
7) Japan Times: “Student seeking Kyoto flat told: No foreigners allowed”, and how NJ tie themselves in mental knots
8 ) RocketNews: Automatic PR Status awarded to grads of Kyoto universities? Positive proposal by Kyoto Governor that will come to naught
9) Harbingers of further insularity: J international marriages way down, as are J students studying abroad
10) TV Tokyo bangumi: “Why did you come to Japan?” interviews NJ arrivals at Narita, reifies mainstream media discourse of NJ as tourists, not residents
11) Discussion: “Bignose” on Cute “Kobito-zukan” comic characters for kids and NJ control fantasies?

… and finally…
12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 62, Apr 2, 2013: “Tweak the immigration debate and demand an upgrade to denizen class”

NYT: Violating IOC rules, Tokyo Gov Inose bad-mouths other 2020 Olympic bidders, particularly Istanbul for being “Islamic”

We’ve talked about Tokyo’s Olympic bids for 2016 and 2020 before on Debito.org (I see them as basically a vanity project for Japan’s elite ruling class to convince themselves that the outside world is still paying attention to them, especially after successful bids in Beijing 2008 and Pyeongchang (South Korea) 2018). But here’s an interesting development: According to the New York Times, Tokyo Governor Inose Naoki (a good writer and analyst before he became Vice-Governor then Governor, and from whom I expected more intelligence and sophistication) is taking cheap shots at other Olympic bidders, violating IOC rules.

Particularly at Istanbul for its religious and ethnic/economic composition, Inose has said, “Islamic countries, the only thing they share in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes”. He also said that other countries lack “Tokyo’s excellent sense of hospitality”. Funny, that. As if Japan does not have classes of its own based upon economic clout or connections to a ruling elite.

And of course, there’s the frequent claim by Japan’s promoters of lack of infrastructure and development elsewhere. Never mind how that infrastructure doesn’t seem to be taking care of its hundreds of thousands of victims and homeless after the Tohoku Disasters more than two years afterwards. But you see, we’re not holding the Olympics in Fukushima. And we’ll take advantage of Fukushima by trying to claim a sympathy vote for Tokyo in their stead. Also never mind that unfettered discrimination against domestic minorities in a society also violates the Olympic Charter. So much to see when you scratch the surface.

There were some subsidiary arguments about Japan’s aging society, which Inose turned on their head to say that healthy seniors are the sign of a healthier society. That’s fine — that’s just boosterism. But then he violates IOC rules again by denigrating: “I’m sure people in Turkey want to live long. And if they want to live long, they should create a culture like what we have in Japan. There might be a lot of young people, but if they die young, it doesn’t mean much.”

See what I mean about a lack of sophistication? I guess the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree (as Inose is an Ishihara Shintaro protege, and Ishihara is a bonafide bigot). Or else Inose has been so steeped in the dominant discourse of Japan being a unique and peerlessly rich, homogeneous, developed society, that he actually has come to believe it himself. Hence the blind spots cluttering his analysis. Put it down to the effects of being steeped in affluence and power.

As submitter MH notes about what he calls Inose’s “idiotic, xenophobic and downright racist comments”, “One doesn’t have to extrapolate too far to see how a racist landlord or real estate agency might feel a certain (ingrained) justification for banning foreigners.” Quite. So much for Japan’s “excellent sense of hospitality”.

Letters from J human rights groups to the visiting Olympic Committee re Tokyo 2020: Discrimination in Japan violates IOC Charter

The International Olympic Committee is currently in Japan considering Tokyo as a venue for the 2020 Summer Games. In light of recent events that point to clear examples of discrimination and advocacy of violence towards, for example, Koreans (see below), human rights groups in Japan are advocating that the IOC understand that these actions violate the Olympic Charter and choose their venue accordingly. Articles, photos, and letters follow from the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (Nichibenren), Tanaka Hiroshi in the Mainichi Shinbun, and sources demonstrating that, for example, all GOJ educational subsidies for Korean ethnic schools have been eliminated as of 2013 from government budgets.

Academic Tessa Morris-Suzuki might agree with the assessment of rising discrimination, as she documents on academic website Japan Focus the protection of xenophobic Rightists and the police harassment of their liberal opponents. Her conclusion: “But there is no rule of law if the instigators of violence are left to peddle hatred with impunity, while those who pursue historical justice and responsibility are subject to police harassment. There is no respect for human rights where those in power use cyber bullying in an attempt to silence their opponents. And democracy is left impoverished when freedom of hate speech is protected more zealously than freedom of reasoned political debate.” Have a look.

SITYS. This is yet but another example of Japan’s clear and dangerous swing to the Right under PM Abe. And granting an Olympics to this regime despite all of this merely legitimize these tendencies, demonstrating that Japan will be held to a different standard regarding discrimination. Wake up, IOC.