Update: Police seem to have dropped the case of TV tarento Peter Barakan getting assaulted by last December. In his words, they have done “absolutely zilch”, even though they found the car, they found somebody in the car, they found the mace. Yet the suspect didn’t get the regular 23-day interrogation one would expect if a NJ had assaulted by a Japanese. I guess a lack of “100% certainty” means police can drop the case completely.
On Dec 8, 2007, famous TV NJ Peter Barakan was attacked with four others by an unknown assailant, who sprayed them with mace shortly before he was to give a speech. The assailant got away in a rental car, meaning the crime was quite premeditated. Is this the next rung on the ladder regarding treatment of NJ in Japan? Peter Barakan himself answers Debito.org, and notes that even though they tracked down the car (with the mace and a driver inside), nobody was arrested. Try doing that to a Japanese public figure and see what happens…
Peter Barakan: “I’m writing today to let you know about a radio show on NHK’s AM radio in which I’ll be taking part. It’s “Iki-iki Hotline,” on Thursday Dec. 6th, from 5 to 6 pm, and is the fourth of five shows on topics related to foreigners in Japan. I intend to talk about the new immigration fiasco, among other things, but they take faxes, emails, and in some cases phone calls from listeners during the show, which is live. I met with the director today, and he said he would welcome input from foreign residents…”
Table of Contents:
THE SEISMIC SHOCK OF 2014
1) In a stunning decision, Japan’s Supreme Court overturns Fukuoka High Court, rules that NJ Permanent Residents (etc.) not automatically eligible for social welfare benefits
2) JT: Colin Jones on NJ rights after the Supreme Court welfare verdict of July 2014: None but what MOJ bureaucrats grant you
OTHER WEIRDNESS AND DENIALISM
3) SITYS: JT publishes lawyer’s analysis of J-cops’ arbitrary “stop and frisk” procedures. It’s now actually worse for NJ than Debito.org has reported before (correctly)
4) Unsuccessful protest against instatement of NJ CEO at Takeda Pharma: Note weird narratives of exclusionism
5) Japanese hotel and restaurant bars all Non-Japanese — in Bangalore, India! And it’s shut down by the local Indian govt. within days
6) BLOG BIZ: Debito.org’s Google Page Rank drops from 4 to Zero overnight. Unsure why
7) JT: Japan needs to get tough on hate speech: U.N. experts and columnist Eric Johnston; why I doubt that will happen
8 ) AFP: “Tarento Rola changing DNA of Japanese pop culture”. I wish her well, but the hyperbolic hype is not warranted
9) JDriver on J Driver License renewals and questionable legality of residency/Gaijin Card checks to ferret out “illegal overstayers”
10) Asahi’s AERA Mag July 14, 2014: Special on NJ in J globalized companies, says “Offices without NJ will not succeed”. Yet again panders to stereotypes
11) Yomiuri: TV shows to get foreign-language subtitles by 2020 for “foreign visitors” to Tokyo Olympics. Nice, but how about for NJ residents now?
… and finally…
12) Japan Times JBC 77 July 3, 2014,”Complexes continue to color Japan’s ambivalent ties to the outside world”, modified version with links to sources
AFP: In celebrity-obsessed Japan with its conveyor belt of 15-minute stars, fashion model and “talent” Rola is blazing a meteoric trail at the forefront of a galaxy of mixed-race stars changing the DNA of Japanese pop culture. Turn on the TV and there’s no escaping the bubbly 24-year-old of Bengali, Japanese and Russian descent—she even dominates the commercial breaks. A marketing gold mine, Rola smiles down celestially from giant billboards, her wide eyes and girlie pout grace magazine covers and she even greets you at vending machines. But Rola, who settled in Japan when she was nine, has done it by turning the entertainment industry on its head, her child-like bluntness slicing through the strict convention that governs Japanese society.
JPN_GUY: The positive reaction to mixed-race models is certainly better than not wanting them on screen. It’s “anti-racist” and to be welcomed. To a certain extent, I guess it does show Japan is becoming more open and tolerant. But like most things, it’s not that simple. For one thing, all these women are stunning beautiful. Everyone loves a good-looking girl. We knew that already! But not all mixed race people in Japan could, or even want to be, celebrities. Kids like mine just want normal lives. They might want to be a lawyer, a pilot, a shipbuilding engineer or a dental technician. As I said, the high visibility of mixed-race people in better than being vilified and ignored, for sure. But it’s also a sign of fetishism, and a refusal to see mixed race people as just “one of us”. Celebrities are “special” by definition. Ironically, that’s why visible minorities have less difficulty breaking into this field.
DEBITO: Of course, most “tarento” blaze and then fizzle without making any real impact, least of all “changing the DNA Japanese pop culture” as this article and its pundits claim. Rola in particular does not seem to be consciously promoting any increase in social tolerance of “haafu” — she’s just doing her thing, entertaining with a new (or actually, not all that new, but for now fresh-sounding) schtick as an ingenue. Of course. That’s her role as an entertainer. This has been the role of so many other entertainers, including the Kents (Kent Derricott made his pile and returned to the US to buy his mansion on the hill in Utah for his family; Kent Gilbert did much the same and lives in Tokyo with a residence in Utah as well), Leah Dizon (remember her?, already divorced from the Japanese guy who made the baby bump the speed bump in her career; she’s trying to make a comeback in Japan while based in Las Vegas), Bob Sapp, Chuck Wilson, and many, many more that I’m sure Debito.org readers will recount in comments below.
Sadly, none of these people have really made or will make a long-term impact on Japan’s mediascape. The best long-seller remains Dave Spector, who is a very, very exceptional person in terms of persistence and media processing (not to mention stellar language ability), but even he makes little pretense about being anything more than an “American entertainer” for hire. Other impactful persons I can think of are Peter Barakan and perhaps these people here. So it’s not non-existent. But it’s not powerful enough to permit “Doubles” to control their self-image in Japan, either.
I wish Rola well. I hope she continues to make the media splash she’s making. But the overhype can be fatal for many an entertainer when people eventually tire of her current incarnation. Even if Rola becomes “successful” by revamping her act to become more substantial, she’ll just be as subsumed and co-oped as Miyazawa Rie or Becky is. Or as forgotten as Leah Dizon within a few years. Let’s hope not, and let’s hope that she becomes a long seller. But I doubt it. Because the ingenue trail she is blazing (or rather, is being blazed for her by her agents) of the “sexy-baby-voice tarento” genre has never really allowed for that.
JBC: That brings us to the point of this column: What might have been meant, and what comes across in the article, are the common misunderstandings that we long-termers should understand and avoid.
One issue to consider is what trail is being blazed, since Mr. Lewis offered his three wise men up as examples of “foreigners” who have “made it” in Japan.
Congratulations to them. Seriously. However, they are not really templates for others. Given the extraordinary hoops these gents had to jump through, they are the exceptions that prove the rule — that the barriers to success are too high for most non-Japanese to get over.
In fact, if they still feel that they are “foreigners” after a generation of life here and Japanese citizenship, then there’s something fundamentally wrong with the template.
The bigger issue, however, is the image these high-profile long-termers are projecting when they still refer to themselves publicly as “foreigners.” Not only are they avoiding the appropriate status (after a century here, they should be calling themselves “immigrants”), but it also has knock-on effects that go beyond them as individuals.
These attitudes imperil the ethnic identities of Japanese children of international marriages…
In Dec. 28’s Japan Times, Charles Lewis wrote a respectful Zeit Gist column asking three fellow wise men (sumo wrestler Konishiki, musicologist Peter Barakan and Diet member Marutei Tsurunen) about their successful lives as “foreigners” in Japan. Despite their combined century of experience here, the article pointed out how they are still addressed at times like outsiders fresh off the boat.
Their coping strategy? Essentially, accept that you are a foreigner in Japan and work with it.
That is fine advice for some. But not for us all. I talked to three other wise men, with Japanese citizenship and a combined tenure of more than 50 years here, who offered a significantly different take…
Read the rest tomorrow in the Japan Times!
UPDATE: Here it is: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110201ad.html
Table of Contents:
1) Japan Times Community Page on long-termer coping strategies in Japan,
where even Dietmember Tsurunen seems to advocate accepting your foreign status and working with it
2) Dietmember Tsurunen offers clarification and apology for calling himself a foreigner in Japan Times article
3) Japan Times publishes reactions to their Dec. 28 article on Old Japan Hands accepting their foreigner status
4) My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Feb 1 critiques the “naturalized but still foreign” rubric
5) AP video: Sting talks to Ric O’Barry on “The Cove” and dolphin slaughters
6) Weekend Tangent: The future of Eikaiwa: AFP: Robots replace english teachers in SK
ODD AND STRANGE
7) QB House Tameike Sannou, Tokyo, requires Japanese language ability for a haircut (UPDATE: Sign has been replaced)
8 ) “To De-Sign or Not to De-Sign”: A debate about what to do re exclusionary signs
9) Tangent: End of an era: Asahi Evening News presses to close
10) TMC reports on TV Asahi “Super Morning” rupo re Shibuya Center Gai citizen patrols harassing buskers, NJ
11) AFP: Otemon Gakuin Univ finally apologizes for Indian student suicide in 2007, still refuses to comment if racially-motivated bullying
12) Tangent: BBC show QI gets scolded by J media and embassy for insensitivity re atomic bombings
13) Suspected murderer of Lindsay Ann Hawker, Ichihashi Tatsuya, publishes book about his experiences. Ick.
14) Caroline Pover on protesting Gentosha Inc’s publication of Ichihashi’s book after Lindsay Ann Hawker’s murder
15) DEBITO.ORG POLL: What’s your take on suspected murderer Ichihashi Tatsuya’s book on his experiences
evading arrest for the homicide of Lindsay Ann Hawker? (Multiple responses OK)
16) FCCJ No.1 Shimbun: A killing separation: Two French fathers suicide 2010 after marital separation and child abduction
17) Yomiuri on “Lehman Shock” and Japan’s foreign crime: Concludes with quote that “living in harmony with foreign residents might be just a dream”
18) AP: Japan population shrinks by record numbers in 2010. NYT: Its workers aging, Japan turns away immigrants.
19) NY Consulate Japan’s Kawamura Yasuhisa offers more rosy picture of immigration to Japan in NYT Letter to the Editor
20) Economist.com offers microcosm of Nagasaki as example of Japan’s urban decline
THIS IS MORE LIKE IT
21) Kyodo: Tourism to Japan hits new record high in 2010
22) Japan Times: Otaru Beer, with NJ braumeister, revolutionizing microbrews and beerdrinking styles in Japan
23) JT on Rita Taketsuru, Scottish mother of Japan’s whisky industry, and her connections to Nikka’s factory in Yoichi, Hokkaido
24) MOFA now requiring consent of both parents for their child’s J passport renewal
25) Hollywood Reporter: JT “Richard Cory” child abduction story optioned as possible movie/TV production
26) Tangent: Elderly J activists sue GOJ to allow different last names after marriage
27) Japan Times et.al: Suraj Case of death during deportation sent to prosecutors
The Japan Times yesterday published letters to the editor regarding Charles Lewis’s December 28 article in the Japan Times, on old Japan hands Konishiki, Peter Barakan, and Tsurunen Marutei, and their coping strategies for living in Japan long-term.
The letters remind me of the parable of the blind men feeling up the elephant and describing what it looks like: One feels the trunk and thinks an elephant is like a snake or a tree branch, one feels the legs and thinks an elephant is like a pillar, one feels the tail and think it’s like a rope, one feels the ears and thinks it’s like a fan, one feels the tusk and thinks it’s like a pipe, one feels the belly and thinks it’s like a wall, etc. It’s a great metaphor for not getting the big picture.
As for the letters, each author gives the article a feel and offers their take, and it’s a bit of a mess…
Japan Times: The Japan Times talked to three well-known, popular foreigners who have made it to the top of their fields in Japan about their views on surviving and thriving as a foreigner in Japanese society.
Peter Barakan is a British musicologist and commentator who arrived in 1974. Konishiki is a Hawaiian former sumo great who has spent 27 years in Japan. Tsurunen Marutei is the first foreign-born member of the Diet’s House of Councilors of European descent. Originally from Finland, he has lived here for 42 years.
So how do these three Japan hands — who have racked up over a century in the country between them — stay sane under the barrage of compliments that can push even the greenest, most mild-mannered gaijin over the edge from time to time? What witty retorts do they have in their armory for when they are told they use chopsticks well?
Tsurunen: “I say thank you.”
It seems that while coming up against and confounding stereotypes — e.g. the awkward, Japanese-mangling foreigner — can make some foreigners feel they aren’t being taken seriously, seasoned veterans have learned to blow this off — or even revel in it…
Table of Contents:
NEW PET PEEVES
1) The ludicrousness of Japan’s Salary Bonus System: How it contributes to Japan’s deflationary spiral
2) Health insurance advocate “Free Choice Foundation” is fronting US health insurance business
3) One NJ exchange student’s rotten experience as a J MOE-MEXT ryuugakusei
4) Mainichi: Senior Immigration Bureau officer arrested on suspicion of corruption
5) NPA now charging suspect Ichihashi with Hawker murder, not just “abandoning her corpse”. Why the delay?
6) Bern Mulvey JALT presentation on flawed MEXT university accreditation system
OLD PET PEEVES:
7) Kyodo: GOJ responsible for hardship facing Ainu, incl racial profiling by J police on the street!
8 ) GS on Michael Moore’s rights to complain about being fingerprinted at Japanese border
9) US Congress Lantos HR Commission on J Child Abductions issue: Letters to Obama & Clinton, my submission for Congressional Record
10) UN News: “Ending complacency key to fighting discrimination worldwide”
11) EU Observer: “Racism at shocking levels” in European Union
12) Debito.org Podcast December 20, 2009 (with un-serious articles for a change)
13) Behind the scenes from Copenhagen EcoSummit (COP15), Eric Johnston blog
14) Headachingly bad Japan travelogue by Daily Beast’s “new travel columnist” Jolie Hunt. Whale on it.
15) Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column out Tues January 5, 2010.
Topic: Roundup: The most significant human rights advances in Japan in 2009.
… and finally …
16) SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO column Dec 2009: Top 9 Things I Like about Japan (full text)
Now here’s what I don’t get. Ichihashi’s charge has been upgraded from corpse abandonment to outright murder. But why wasn’t it before? What new information has been brought out since his apprehension? Police already knew about the body, the disposed-of hair, the fact that she accompanied Ishihashi to his apartment and was last seen there. And now suddenly his DNA matches bodily fluid found on her corpse. But didn’t the police know all of this before? It’s not as though Ichihashi’s interrogation revealed him admitting any new information (after all, he’s not talking).
Why is it that he gets charged with mere corpse abandonment (something that frequently happens when a NJ gets killed) up until now, whereas if something like this is done to a Japanese victim (as posters with Ichihashi’s fellow murder suspects indicate), it gets a full-blown murder charge? Why the delay until now? I wish I had the information to answer these questions.
Final thing I find odd: Good for father Mr Hawker being tenacious about this case. There are plenty of other murders (Tucker Murder, Honiefaith Murder, Lacey Murder, and Blackman Murder) and assaults (Barakan Assault) of NJ that the NPA and the criminal courts gave up on all too easily. Does the family of the NJ victim have to pursue things more doggedly than the police before the NPA will actually get on it (as they had to do for Lucie Blackman’s killer, and he still got acquitted for it)? It only took the NPA close to three years to get Ichihashi, and that was after a tip from a face change clinic (not any actual police investigation).
Why this half-assedness for crimes against NJ? Sorry, there’s lots of things here that just don’t make sense, and they point to different judicial standards for NJ victims of J crime.
Excerpt: Examine any justice system and patterns emerge. For example, consider how Japan’s policing system treats non-Japanese. ZEIT GIST has discussed numerous times (Jul. 8 2008, Feb. 20 and Nov. 13 2007, May 24 2005, Jan. 13 2004, Oct. 7 2003) how police target and racially profile foreigners under anti-crime and anti-terrorism campaigns.
But the bias goes beyond cops and into criminal prosecution, with Japanese courts treating suspects differently according to nationality. We’ve already discussed how judges discount testimony from foreigners (ZG Aug. 14 2007), but here’s the emerging pattern: If you are a Japanese committing a crime towards a non-Japanese, you tend to get off lightly. Vice versa and you “haven’t a Chinaman’s chance,” as it were…
JUDICIAL TREATMENT OF NJ VICTIMS OF CRIME
1) Filipina allegedly killed by J man, let out of jail despite suspicion of killing another Filipina in past
2) Japan Times et al on homicide of Scott Tucker: “likely to draw leniency”
3) Tokyo Police apparently drop case of Peter Barakan’s assault
4) Yomiuri and Japan Times on Matthew Lacey Case:
Fukuoka Police dismiss NJ death by blow to the head as “dehydration”
JUDICIAL TREATMENT OF NJ ACCUSED OF CRIME
5) “Hostage Justice”: Swiss woman acquitted of a crime,
but detained for eight months anyway during prosecution’s appeal
6) Two articles from The Economist on bent Japanese criminal justice system, death penalty
7) Rough Guide on what to do if and when arrested in Japan
8) Yuyu Idubor’s Statement to High Court April 23, 2008, letters from prison parts five and six
SYSTEMATIC POLICE TREATMENT OF NJ EVEN WITHOUT CRIME
9) Japan Today: Male Shinjuku cops rough up Singaporean women during “passport check”
(with link to Japan Probe site with information about possible police identity fraud)
10) Hiragana Times July 2006 on NJ police brutality by Toyonaka, Osaka cops
11) Potential Olympic torch problems in Nagano? All the more reason to target NJ!
12) Asahi, Mainichi, and Yomiuri: Replacement “Gaijin Card” system, increasing police powers
13) Japan Times: Critics deride future extra policing of NJ under new proposed registration policy
WHY THIS IS UNJUST: JAPAN’S EXTREME POLICE POWERS
14) Reuters: Study says immigrants and crime rate not linked
15) Japan Times ZEIT GIST: G8 Summit and the bad “security” habits brought out in Japan
1) Debito’s latest Japan Times Column, which came out on December 18, 2007, on the beginning of the end: How Japan’s xenophobia and closed-mindedness towards the outside world is now clearly not only hurting non-Japanese residents, but also destroying Japan for everyone–putting its very position as Asia’s leader and representative in jeopardy.
2) James Fallows of the Atlantic Monthly writes more poignantly and succinctly on what’s wrong with fingerprinting at Japan’s border than Debito could ever hope to.
3) TV personality and music aficionado Peter Barakan is attacked by an unknown assailant in public–he and his hosts at a speech are pepper-sprayed, in a clearly-planned assault with even a rented getaway car. Even though the police track down the car, the spray, and even a person inside, no arrests are made!
1) MY NEXT COLUMN IN THE JAPAN TIMES DEC 18 2007
ON HOW XENOPHOBIA AND SHORT-SIGHTED POLICYMAKING IS DESTROYING JAPAN
2) SASEBO GYM SHOOTING: SOME MEDIA SPECULATES THAT A NJ DID IT.
WRONGLY. YET NO RETRACTION.
3) TV TARENTO PETER BARAKAN ATTACKED, PREMEDITATED TEARGASSING–
WITH RESPONSE FROM PETER HIMSELF
4) THE AUSTRALIAN/JAPAN TODAY ON KANAGAWA POLICE RAPE CASE LAWSUIT LOSS
5) MEDIOCRE ECONOMIST SURVEY ON JAPAN BUSINESS DEC 1 2007
6) MAINICHI WAIWAI: HOMI DANCHI AND JAPANESE-BRAZILIAN FRICTIONS IN AICHI
7) ALBERTO FUJIMORI REALLY GETS HIS–6 YEARS’ PRISON; AND THAT’S NOT ALL
8) UN UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS 60TH ANNIVERSARY DEC 10, 2007
9) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST DEC 8, 2007
with links to more than two months’ of previous podcasts…