Kyodo: NJ “Trainees” win ¥17 million for trainee abuses by employer and “broker”

Kyodo: The Kumamoto District Court awarded more than ¥17 million in damages Friday to four Chinese interns who were forced to work long hours for low wages in Kumamoto Prefecture.

The court ordered that the union Plaspa Apparel, which arranged the trainee work for the four, to pay ¥4.4 million and that the actual employer, a sewing agency, pay ¥12.8 million in unpaid wages.

It is the first ruling that held a job broker for foreign trainees liable for their hardships, according to lawyers representing the four interns.

朝日:外国人研修生、ブローカー介在禁止に 法務省 MOJ: Brokers to be banned for NJ Trainees

朝日:外国人に日本の企業で知識や技術を身につけてもらう外国人研修・技能実習制度について、法務省は、受け入れ機関などに対して示している運用の指針を初めて改定する。制度は、安上がりな労働力の確保に利用されるなど、本来の狙いからかけ離れた運用が横行しているのが実情。このため、ブローカーを介在した受け入れを明確に禁止するなど改善を図る。

Reuters: Japan’s foreign asylum seekers tricked into Fukushima radiation clean-up

Here’s a scoop involving several layers of odious. It’s not just a matter of Japan’s poor or homeless (or other foreigners) being exploited for dangerous and life-threatening jobs cleaning up the radioactive mess in Fukushima. Now Japan’s government is quite possibly complicit in tricking foreign ASYLUM SEEKERS into doing the dirty work, for the sake of being granted extensions to their visa (which turned out to be “a false promise”). All this under conditions where, according to the Reuters article below, “more than half of the 1,020 companies involved in decontamination violated labor and safety laws”. Further, as submitter JDG notes, “Asylum seekers in Japan tricked into doing nuclear decontamination work in Fukushima because when they get over-dosed on radiation and contaminated, the J-gov can always reject their asylum applications and deport them after all, right?”

As Debito.org has noted before, there is a metaphorical radioactivity to Fukushima that overwhelms law and order and corrodes all sense, bringing out the corrupt criminal underbelly of Japan’s bureaucratic and political worlds. Fukushima’s running-sore of an issue has undermined all integrity at the eventual expense of lives, particularly those of the most powerless in society. Six years after the event, the whitewashing of the issue continues.

Unsuccessful protest against instatement of NJ CEO at Takeda Pharma: Note weird narratives of exclusionism

Japan’s largest drug maker, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., last month tapped a NJ (a Frenchman by the name of Cristophe Weber) to be its next CEO. This occasioned protests by the founding Takeda family and dissident shareholders, because hiring a NJ to be its leader would allegedly be abhorrent.

Relativism first: We’ve of course had protests and government interventions in other countries when foreigners buy up a strategically-important company. (Let me date myself: I remember the Westland helicopters scandal when I was living in England back in the 1980s!) So business xenophobia is not unique to Japan, of course.

But check out the narratives of justification for the exclusionism being proffered with straight faces:

A NJ CEO of a Japanese company would be “bad for the morale of Japanese employees”. (Why?)
A NJ CEO would necessarily result in “technological transfer overseas” (i.e., NJ are untrustworthy).
This would mean “finances or research and development would be entrusted to NJ” (Would it? This is an unaccountable dictatorship? This is not an issue of NJ-dom: Remember the corruption of the Olympus case, and they were all Japanese at the helm — until a NJ became the whistleblower.)
A NJ CEO is tantamount to a hostile “takeover by foreign capital” (again, those trust issues).
This particular NJ is unknowledgable of Japan’s health care industry of the “traditions and corporate culture” of Takeda (i.e., NJ are ignorant about Japan and Japan’s permutations of industry).

Imagine those arguments being made if a Japanese helmed an overseas company (we already had a Japanese in 2009 placed at the helm of, for example, the Japan Society in New York — an organization founded in 1907 by powerful Americans to explore Japanese society). Accusations of racism would probably fly. But in Japan, not so much. These knee-jerk exclusionary discourses are that hegemonic.

Anyway, the exclusionists (who only hold 1-2% of total shares, so they’re basically soukaiya) did not win out, and Weber became CEO. Nyah. Some referential articles about the Takeda Pharma Case follow.

Reuters Special Report on Japan’s “Trainee System” as “Sweatshops in Disguise”: Foreign interns pay the price for Japan’s labor shortage

REUTERS: The most recent government data show there are about 155,000 technical interns in Japan. Nearly 70 percent are from China, where some labor recruiters require payment of bonds worth thousands of dollars to work in Japan. Interns toil in apparel and food factories, on farms and in metal-working shops. In these workplaces, labor abuse is endemic: A 2012 investigation by Japanese labor inspectors found 79 percent of companies that employed interns were violating labor laws. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare said it would use strict measures, including prosecution, toward groups that repeatedly violated the laws or failed to follow its guidance in their treatment of technical interns.

Critics say foreign interns have become an exploited source of cheap labor in a country where, despite having the world’s most rapidly ageing population, discussion of increased immigration is taboo. The U.S. State Department, in its 2013 Trafficking in Persons report, criticized the program’s use of “extortionate contracts”, restrictions on interns’ movements, and the imposition of heavy fees if workers leave. […]

Not long after [Trainees Lu, Qian and Jiang’s] arrival, the [Burberry outsourcing] apparel association took the women’s passports and passed them to Kameda in violation of Japanese law protecting interns’ freedom of movement, according to the lawsuit. An Ishikawa Apparel Association spokeswoman, who declined to give her name, said the group does not conduct inappropriate supervision and training, but declined further comment citing the lawsuit.

At the factory, Lu, Qian and Jiang’s overtime stretched to more than 100 hours a month, the lawsuit says. A timesheet prepared with data supplied by Kameda to the Japanese labor standards bureau shows Lu logged an average of 208 hours a month doing overtime and “homework” during her second year in Japan. That is equivalent to almost 16 hours a day, six days a week. Japanese labor policy considers 80 hours of overtime a month the “death by overwork” threshold.

For this, Lu earned about 400 yen, about $4, an hour at Kameda, the timesheet shows. The local minimum wage at the time was 691 yen an hour, and Japanese law requires a premium of as much as 50 percent of the base wage for overtime. […]

Japan faces a worsening labor shortage, not only in family-run farms and factories such as Kameda but in construction and service industries. It is a major reason that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration is planning a further expansion of the trainee program.

Weird stats from Jiji Press citing MHLW’s “record number of NJ laborers” in Japan. Yet Ekonomisuto shows much higher in 2008!

JIJI: The number of foreign workers in Japan stood at 717,504 at the end of last October, up 5.1 percent from a year before, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Friday. The figure was the highest since it became mandatory for employers to submit reports on foreign employees to the ministry in 2007.

COMMENT: Okay, there’s something fishy going on here. Check out this cover from Ekonomisuto of January 15, 2008, now more than six years ago, which puts the figure of NJ working in Japan at more than 930,000 (the すでに93万人 in the subtitle after the yellow kanji) — a helluva lot more than the allegedly record-breaking 717,504 quoted in the article above.

I have the feeling that statistics somewhere are being kneaded for political ends (unsurprisingly), as you note. We must show a recovery of sorts no matter what (ironically now pinning part of it on NJ workers in Japan), making Abenomics a bubble in thought as well as in economic stats. What a shame that JIJI seems to be parroting the ministerial line of calling it record-breaking without any research or critical thinking.

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the more standardized statistics from the Ministry of Justice (not MHLW) which shows how many NJ are registered as LIVING in Japan. NJ do a lot more in Japan than just work, and the figure given for Brazilians in Japan (95,505) seems remarkably small compared to the hundreds of thousands that lived (or used to live) in Japan in previous years.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 69, Nov 7 2013: “Japan brings out big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S.” about PM Abe’s charm offensive through Gaijin Handler Kitaoka Shin’ichi

Last month in Hawaii I attended a speech titled “Japan’s new National Security Strategy in the Making” by a Dr. Shinichi Kitaoka. A scholar and university president, Dr. Kitaoka is deputy chairman of the “Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security” within the Shinzo Abe administration.

I sat in because I wanted to see how a representative of Japan’s government would explain away Abe’s militaristic views to an American audience.

Dr. Kitaoka did not disappoint. He was smooth. In impeccable English, to a packed room including numerous members of Hawaii’s military brass, he sold a vision of a remilitarizing Japan without a return to a prewar militarized Japan. (You can see the entire speech at http://www.vimeo.com/77183187.)

He laid out how Japan would get around its ban on having a military beyond a “self-defense force,” i.e., one that could project power beyond its borders. It would be the same way Japan got around its constitutional ban on having any standing military at all: Japan would once again reinterpret the wording of the Constitution.

His logic: If Japan has a sovereign right to “individual self-defense” (i.e., the right to attack back if attacked), it also has an inherent sovereign right to “collective self-defense” (i.e., the right to support Japan’s allies if they are attacked). A reinterpretation must happen because, inconveniently, it is too difficult to reform the Constitution itself.

That legal legerdemain to undermine a national constitution should have raised eyebrows. But…

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 57, November 6, 2012: “If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on”

JT JBC: On Oct. 25, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara announced his resignation from office. He now plans to stand for election to the Diet as head of a new conservative party. He suggested political alliances with other conservative reactionaries and xenophobes, including Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan) chief Takeo Hiranuma (Just Be Cause, Feb. 2, 2010). And all before a Lower House election that must be held within two months.

I say: Bring it on. Because it’s time for somebody to make clear which way Japan is heading.

The world’s media has largely misunderstood — or misrepresented — what kind of an elected official Ishihara is, often portraying him as a “nationalist” (which sounds like a patriot). He is in fact a hate-mongering racist bigot.

This is the man, remember, who began his governorship by calling for foreigners to be rounded up on sight in the event of a natural disaster — for they might (unprecedentedly) riot! Cue one natural disaster in 2011: No riots. Yet no retraction. Thus he got a free pass.

This is also a man who goes beyond the standard right-wing denials of the dark side of Japanese history, such as the Nanjing Massacre and the “comfort women.” He has called the 2011 tsunami “divine retribution” for Japan’s sins, insinuated that Africans in Japan are unintelligent, said commentators on Japan “don’t matter” if they’re foreign, likened foreign judo practitioners to “beasts,” claimed Chinese are criminals due to their “ethnic DNA,” called parts of Tokyo with higher foreign populations “hotbeds of crime” too scary for even Japanese crooks to enter, and stigmatized Japanese politicians who support more rights for foreigners by saying they must have foreign roots themselves (as if Japanese with tainted bloodlines are somehow unpatriotic).

He has also stated that old women are “useless” and “toxic” to civilization, gays “gadding about” are “pitiable,” French is unqualified as an international language because of its counting system — and so on ad nauseam, painting grotesque caricatures of foreigners and minorities in broad, bigoted strokes. Just listing them all would take up my entire column.

Yet, instead of pillorying this piece of work out of office, the media has generally dismissed his statements as “gaffes.” But a gaffe is technically an error or an unintended misstatement — and Ishihara’s are too frequent to be anything but deliberate.

Sadly, due to the limited attention span inherent in media cycles, Ishihara managed to out-stare the press. They then excused their own lack of tenacity by treating his outrageous comments like a personality quirk, as if he suffers from a particularly offensive form of Tourette’s — effectively handing him a free pass. Passes got freer after one re-election. Then another…

NJ topic du jour: Yomiuri, Mainichi, Nikkei pile on re free papers ads encouraging NJ “criminal behavior”, deemed “criminal infrastructure”

Related to my FCCJ article posted here a couple of days ago, we have the J-media now piling on about “harmful ads in the free newspapers aimed at foreigners”, encouraging criminal behavior. This is a national issue of course (as I argued before, articles/campaigns about foreign crime take priority, even drown out good news (or any news) about NJ residents in Japan), and essentially the same article becomes common to the major papers (submitter JK sends the Yomiuri, Mainichi, and Nikkei).

JK comments: I find it odd that on the one hand, the NPA is focused on ads in free papers enticing foreigners to perform criminal acts, whereas on the other hand, the NPA has, to my knowledge, yet to report on the number of pachinko parlors that paid out tokens / goods to players which were converted into cash (read: gambling, a criminal act!). To me, it’s obvious that the NPA is being selective in investigating potential criminal acts because in the case of the ads in the free papers, NJ are specifically involved.”

Yomiuri: Many ads encouraging criminal behavior such as working illegally and entering into fake marriages have been carried by free newspapers aimed at foreigners, according to a police survey.

The survey, conducted by the National Police Agency in May and June, said 736 harmful ads were found in papers distributed in commercial and entertainment districts around the nation.

The NPA will ask publishers of free papers not to run ads encouraging criminal activity. It also may pursue criminal charges against publishers allowing such ads to appear in their papers.

Mainichi adds: The NPA has named the services and means of communication that promote crimes as “crime infrastructure.”

US State Department report 2011: “Japan’s Foreign trainee program ‘like human trafficking'”

Yomiuri: Regarding conditions for foreign trainees in Japan, the [US State Department] noted “the media and NGOs continued to report abuses including debt bondage, restrictions on movement, unpaid wages, overtime, fraud and contracting workers out to different employers–elements which contribute to situations of trafficking.” The Japanese government has not officially recognized the existence of such problems, the report said. It also said Japan “did not identify or provide protection to any victims of forced labor.”

Asahi: The report said, “Japan is a destination, source, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking… The State Department recommended the Japanese government strengthen efforts to investigate, prosecute and punish acts of forced labor, including those that fall within the foreign trainee program.

COMMENT: The U.S. State Department report text in full included in this blog entry.

Yomiuri on “Lehman Shock” and Japan’s foreign crime: Concludes with quote that “living in harmony with foreign residents might be just a dream”

The Yomiuri is in full trumpet about foreign crime again — this time concluding (in an article that does develop the causes of some severe NJ suffering) with a quote from an elderly somebody about coexistence with foreigners being perhaps but a dream. A friend of mine offlist was quite critical of yesterday’s NYT article as an “anecdote-laden piece of fluff”. Okay, but check this one out: Nothing but anecdotes and nary a reliable stat in sight.

One thing I’m not quite getting is the connection between Lehman and foreign crime. Is Japan’s economy so fragile that one event could ruin it? Don’t businesses make their own decisions, or sovereign countries have responsibility over their own fiscal and monetary policies? Or is this another way of pinning Japan’s woes on foreigners?

NYT has video and article on JITCO NJ “Trainee” Program, including sweatshop conditions and karoushi

NYT: For businesses, the government-sponsored trainee program has offered a loophole to hiring foreign workers. But with little legal protection, the indentured work force is exposed to substandard, sometimes even deadly, working conditions, critics say.

Government records show that at least 127 of the trainees have died since 2005 — or one of about every 2,600 trainees, which experts say is a high death rate for young people who must pass stringent physicals to enter the program. Many deaths involved strokes or heart failure that worker rights groups attribute to the strain of excessive labor.

The Justice Ministry found more than 400 cases of mistreatment of trainees at companies across Japan in 2009, including failing to pay legal wages and exposing trainees to dangerous work conditions. This month, labor inspectors in central Japan ruled that a 31-year-old Chinese trainee, Jiang Xiaodong, had died from heart failure induced by overwork.

Under pressure by human rights groups and a string of court cases, the government has begun to address some of the program’s worst abuses. The United Nations has urged Japan to scrap it altogether…

The Japan International Training Cooperation Organization, or Jitco, which operates the program, said it was aware some companies had abused the system and that it was taking steps to crack down on the worst cases. The organization plans to ensure that “trainees receive legal protection, and that cases of fraud are eliminated,” Jitco said in a written response to questions…

As part of the government’s effort to clean up the program, beginning July 1, minimum wage and other labor protections have for the first time been applied to first-year workers. The government has also banned the confiscating of trainees’ passports.

But experts say it will be hard to change the program’s culture… “If these businesses hired Japanese workers, they would have to pay,” said Kimihiro Komatsu, a labor consultant in Hiroshima. “But trainees work for a bare minimum,” he said. “Japan can’t afford to stop.”

Thoughts on GOJ Upper House Election July 11, 2010: A DPJ loss, but not a rout, regardless of what the media says.

Background: The Upper House of Japan’s Diet (parliament) has a total of 242 seats. Half the UH gets elected every three years, meaning 121 seats were being contested this time. Of the ones not being contested, the ruling DPJ, which has held the majority of UH seats (through a coalition with another party) since 2007, had the goal of keeping that majority. To do that, the DPJ had to win 55 seats plus one this time (since they already had 66 seats not being contested this election). The opposition parties (there are many, see below) had the goal of gaining 66 seats plus one (since 55 of theirs were not being contested this election) to take the UH majority back. Here’s how the numbers fell this morning after yesterday’s election:

DPJ won 44 (and their coalition partner lost all of theirs).
Non-DPJ won 77.

Totals now come up to 106 (a loss of ten) seats for the DPJ, meaning they lost their absolute Upper House majority thanks to a coalition partner party (Kokumin Shintou) losing all their contested seats (three). Thus the DPJ lost control of the Upper House.

However, this does not mean that somebody else assumes power of it. Nobody is close to forming a Upper House majority, meaning there will be some coalition work from now on. After breaking down the numbers on this blog, conclusions:

DPJ lost this election, there’s no other spin to be had. But it was not a rout (like the UH election of 2007 against the LDP was, see here). Consider this:

Number of electoral districts where DPJ came out on top where they weren’t on top before (in other words, electoral gains as far as DPJ is concerned): None.

Number of electoral districts where DPJ stayed on top or kept their seat same as last election (in other words, no change for the worse): 22

Number of electoral districts where DPJ lost but lost before anyway (in other words, the status quo of no electoral gains held): 10

Number of electoral districts where DPJ flat out won before but lost a seat this time (this is the bad news, electoral losses): 12

Conclusion: The DPJ essentially held their own in a near-majority of contested electoral districts. They did not gain much, but did not lose big. In fact, in all multiple-seat constituencies, at least one DPJ candidate won (see below)…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 28, 2010

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 27, 2010
Table of Contents:

WHY THINGS DON’T CHANGE
1) Dejima Award for racist Sumo Kyoukai: Decides to count naturalized Japanese as foreigners and limit stables to one “foreigner”
(this will be the subject of my next JAPAN TIMES JUST BE CAUSE column, due out March 2, 2010)
2) Colin Jones and Daily Yomiuri on J judiciary’s usurpingly paternal attitudes re families post-divorce
3) SMJ/NGO combined report for UN CERD Committee regarding Japan’s human rights record
4) Kyodo & Mainichi: 14 prefectures now oppose NJ PR suffrage (Debito.org names them)

WHY THINGS ARE CHANGING
5) International community serves demarche to MOFA re Int’l Child Abductions Issue, Jan 30 2010
6) Int’l Child Abductions Issue: USG formally links support to GOJ re DPRK abductions with GOJ’s signing of Hague Treaty
7) Japan Times: Foreign press pulling out of Japan in favor of China
8 ) Kyodo: NJ “Trainees” win Y17 million for trainee abuses by employer and “broker”
9) DailyFinance.com: McDonald’s Japan loses big, shutting 430 outlets, thanks in part to “Mr James” campaign
10) Japan Times: Immigration dropping social insurance requirement for visa renewal
11) Comfort Hotel Nagoya unlawfully tries Gaijin Card check on NJ resident, admits being confused by GOJ directives

THEN THERE IS OUTRIGHT NASTINESS
12) Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP flyer, likens granting NJ PR suffrage to UFO alien invasion. Seriously.
13) Mainichi: Rwandan Refugee applicant jailed for weeks for not having photograph on GOJ-issued document
14) Ariel updates experience with not-random Gaijin Card and Passport Checks by Narita cops
15) Day Care Center in Tokorozawa, Saitama teaches toddlers “Little Black Sambo”, complete with the epithets
16) Kyodo et.al falls for NPA spins once again, headlines NJ “white collar crime” rise despite NJ crime fall overall
17) Laura Petrescu, MEXT Scholar, update: Bowing out of Japan, reasons why.

TANGENTS
18) Olympic Tangent: US-born Reed siblings skate for “Team Japan” despite one being too old to have dual nationality
19) UK Independent: Toyota’s problems being pinned on foreign parts.
20) Debito.org Poll: “Are you rooting for Team Japan in the Vancouver Olympics?” Vote on any blog page http://www.debito.org
21) LA Times: “Korea activists target foreign English teachers”
22) Odd treatment of “naturalized” people (guess who) by Air Canada/Canadian Government at Narita Airport
23) Dentistry in Canada, wow, what a difference!

… and finally …
24) SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO column on Middle Age (full text)

SMJ/NGO combined report for UN CERD Committee regarding Japan’s human rights record

The Government of Japan comes under review this month in Geneva by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. I was invited to submit a chapter for a report to the UN by the NGO Solidarity with Migrants Japan (SMJ) on how Japan is doing with enforcing it.

NGO Report Regarding the Rights of Non-Japanese Nationals, Minorities of Foreign Origins, and Refugees in Japan.

Prepared for the 76th United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Session February 2010
Compiled and published by: Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)

CHAPTER 2 Race and Nationality-based Entrance Refusals at Private and Quasi-Public Establishments By Debito Arudou. Page 7

As I conclude:

“In conclusion, the situation is that in Japan, racial discrimination remains unconstitutional and unlawful under the ICERD, yet not illegal. Japan has had more than a decade since 1996 to pass a criminal law against RD. Its failure to do so can only be interpreted as a clear violation of ICERD Article 2(1): “States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay [emphasis added] a policy of eliminating racial discrimination.” We urge the Committee to make the appropriate advisements to the Japanese government to pass a law against racial discrimination without any further delay.”

Enjoy. Let’s see how the UN and GOJ respond. Here’s how the GOJ responded in 2008 — read and guffaw at their claim that they have taken “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination”.

UK journalist seeks interviews with Asian NJ wives in rural Japan

Request: I am a journalist based in the UK and coming to Japan in February/March to research a couple of stories, one of which is the issue of Asian women being encouraged to immigrate into Japan and marry into rural Japanese families.

I want to talk about the problem in farming community of there being a shortage of Japanese-born women because increasingly more are abandoning the countryside for the cities and hence there are many ‘drives’ to get Japanese men in rural communities to marry and produce children…

More specifically, I want to get the personal stories of some of the Asian wives who have come to Japan to marry into rural families. Would you know any such women that may be willing to talk to me about their experiences (they can keep anonymity of course if they want to).

Also, I would like to find (though this may be harder!) someone who is involved in the so-called ‘marriage brokering agencies’ – either someone who has contact with the agencies who play a role in sending women from Asian countries to Japan or, someone in Japan with a connection to local authorities who may have officially encouraged the practise.

Momoyama Gakuin Daigaku blocks online campus access to Debito.org. Just like Misawa Air Force Base.

As a Sunday article, let me forward two collated emails that I received from a student at Momoyama Gakuin Daigaku. He sent proof that his university blocks campus access to Debito.org.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard of Debito.org being too truthy for some places with internal attitudes to maintain. Such as the American Air Force Base in Misawa, Aomori Prefecture. (I know for a fact they didn’t like me exposing both the “Japanese Only” signs right outside their base and the organized blind-eying both they and the City of Misawa gave it.) So instead of dealing with the problem, they dealt with the messenger, by making sure that anyone on base cannot see what you’re seeing now. It’s to them Non-Operational Information, I guess. Or, as Momoyama seems to indicate, it might give students in Japan too much of an education.

Report from Momoyama student follows, along with his unsuccessful efforts to get it “unblocked”. Arudou Debito, webmaster of the site just too hot for some institutions to handle.

Yomiuri: Scriveners aid illegal marriages, work

Hi Debito: OK, this is good:

“Yomiuri: Scriveners aid illegal marriages, work”

I assume that the clerks in question are going out of their way to assist foreigners in obtaining residency permits (even to the point of placing ads in newspapers) due to bribery (as opposed to benevolence), and that this behavior is motivated by said clerks’ cognizance of loopholes in the immigration control law.

If so, then there’s nothing less than a government-backed residency permit black market at work, which, I might add, shows no signs of going away — a simple to fix the problem would be to amend the immigration control law to punish the clerks as needed, but is that what’s happening? No. Instead the issue is being given superficial treatment…

Update putting the pieces together: upcoming IC Gaijin Cards, RFID hackability, next generation police walkie-talkie, and NPA access to TASPO information

Last May I put out an article in the Japan Times about the (now approved) IC Chips in revamped Gaijin Cards. How they would enable the police forces to remotely track foreigners in a crowd, and how data would be less secure from hackers.

Not unsurprisingly, I was told I was exaggerating. But it’s hard in this day to exaggerate the reach and rate of development of technological advances (who would have thought we would have this very medium to communicate through a little over ten years ago?). So here are some sources showing how 1) ID Chips and RFID technology is eminently hackable and remotely trackable, 2) how police already have IC scanning ability in their walkie-talkies, and 3) how the Japanese police in particular are using ID cards beyond their originally-intended purpose to track crime. I don’t think I was exaggerating at all.

Revamped article on the Nikkei Repatriation Bribe

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

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

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

Sunday Tangent: Economist on Japan buying LNG from Sakhalin (finally!) and Hokkaido’s missed opportunities

I spotted this recent Economist article (I have a paper subscription; call me retro) over lunch yesterday, and was surprised to see that Japanese industry, after decades of wait (see article below), has finally bought Russian fuel. About time.

Living in Hokkaido for more than twenty years now has given me a number of insights by osmosis regarding our extremely proximate Russian neighbor (in three places — Wakkanai, Nemuro, and Rausu — mere kilometers away), and how that affects business.

First, Japanese and Russians tend not to get along. We still have no peace treaty (merely an armistice) with Russia after the 1945 seizure of the Northern Territories (and the big loss of southern Sakhalin, still called by its prewar name “Karafuto” by not a few Hokkaidoites). We also get occasional articles in the Hokkaido Shinbun reminding the public of pre-surrender Soviet submarine raids off Rumoi, and the impending invasion of northern and eastern Hokkaido before McArthur stepped in. Old people still remember postwar Russian concentration camps and forced repatriations from lands they feel they rightfully settled. And even today, the rough-and-tumble nature of the Russian that Hokkaidoites most frequently come in contact with (the sailor) was at the heart of the exclusionism behind the Otaru Onsens Case. The Japanese military, excuse me, “Self Defense Forces” still have a very strong presence up here (even building our snow sculptures) to ward off possible Soviet invasions, and keep us from getting too friendly with (or receive too many Aeroflot flights from) the Rosuke.

Second, Hokkaido has for years been unable to take advantage of the goldmine just off their shores. Potential deals with Sakhalin have not only been stymied by foot-dragging government bureaucrats (and the occasional businessman who, according to business contact Simon Jackson of North Point Network KK, cite business deals gone sour with the Soviets around three or four decades ago!). The most ludicrous example was where overseas energy interests were considering opening offices in Sapporo in the early 1990s (for Sapporo’s standard of living was far higher than that of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk). But they took one look at the toolshed that was essentially the Hokkaido International School back then and decided their relocated families needed better educational opportunities. The Hokkaido Government has since rectified that with a much nicer building for HIS, but it remains in the annals of bungled policy and opportunities. Thus Sapporo missed out on all the gobs of riches that oil money provides anywhere (viz. Edmonton or Calgary) as the end of the era of cheap petroleum makes exploration and development economically feasible just about anywhere.

Third, as the article demonstrates below, Tokyo seems to be skipping over Hokkaido again with its first LNG deal. If we had set up the infrastructure when we had the chance, we could be getting some of that value-added. Granted, doing business in Russia (what with the shady elements posing as dealers and administrators) is pretty risky. But it seems in keeping with the historical gormlessness of Hokkaido (what with all the crowding out of entrepreneurial industry through a century of public works), and the maintenance of our island as a resource colony of the mainland. See an essay I wrote on this way back in 1996, and tell me if much has changed.

In fact, it seems the only reason Japan has come round to dealing with Sakhalin at all is because increasingly mighty China is squeezing them out of the market, according to The Economist below.

Japan Times FYI column explaining Japan’s Bubble Economy

On this snowiest of snowy days in Hokkaido, let me send out an excellent writeup from the Japan Times regarding the Japan I first came to know: The Bubble Economy. I first arrived here in 1986 as a tourist, and came to look around for a year in 1987. It was one great, big party. By the time I came back here, married, to stay and work, in 1991, the party was winding up, and it’s been over (especially up here in Hokkaido) ever since. Surprising to hear that it only lasted about five years. Eric Johnston tells us about everything you’d ever want to know in 1500 words about how it happened, how it ended, and what its aftereffects are. If you’re stuck inside today, have a good read. Excerpt:

“Economic historians usually date the beginning of the bubble economy in September 1985, when Japan and five other nations signed the Plaza Accord in New York. That agreement called for the depreciation of the dollar against the yen and was supposed to increase U.S. exports by making them cheaper.

But it also made it cheaper for Japanese companies to purchase foreign assets. And they went on an overseas buying spree, picking off properties like the Rockefeller Center in New York and golf courses in Hawaii and California.

By December 1989, the benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average had reached nearly 39,000. But beginning in 1990, the stock market began a downward spiral that saw it lose more than $2 trillion by December 1990, effectively ending the bubble era…

What was Japan like during those years? For many people, it was one big, expensive party. The frugality and austerity that defined the country during the postwar era gave way to extravagance and conspicuous consumption. Stories of housewives in Nara sipping $500 cups of coffee sprinkled with gold dust or businessmen spending tens of thousands of dollars in Tokyo’s flashy restaurants and nightclubs were legion. One nightclub in particular, Julianna’s Tokyo, become the symbol for the flashy, party lifestyle of the entire era.

Japan’s inflated land prices made global headlines. The Imperial Palace was reported to be worth more than France. A ¥10,000 note dropped in Tokyo’s Ginza district was worth less than the tiny amount of ground it covered…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 20, 2009

POLICING
1) Yomiuri et al. on new “Zairyuu Cards” to replace “Gaijin Cards”
2) Zainichi also get cards, although with relaxed conditions
3) GOJ claims victory in “halving overstayers” campaign, maintains myth that NJ fingerprinting did it
4) Japan Times Zeit Gist on Noriko Calderon, born in Japan, child of overstayers, and deportation

NJ CRIME EXPOSURE: MEDIA EXCESSES AND RESTRAINTS
5) Japan Today on Spa! magazine’s expose of “Monster Gaikokujin” running amok in Japan
6) Full four pages of Feb 17 2009 SPA! article on “Monster Gaikokujin” scanned
7) Mainichi: 3 Chinese arrested over paternity scam to get child Japanese citizenship
8 ) Asahi: NJ overstayers finding housing through name laundering ads

A MIXED BAG OF POTENTIAL LEGAL PRECEDENTS
9) Japan Times Zeit Gist on Berlitz’s lawsuit against unions for “strike damage”
10) The Economist on international divorce and child custody (Japan passim)
11) Japanese stewardesses sue Turkish Airlines for discriminatory employment conditions

…and finally…
12) Fun and Games at Hokuyo Bank: Extra questions for the gaijin account holder

Asahi: NJ overstayers finding housing through name laundering ads

Continuing this mini-series in the uncovered permutations of NJ crime. Asahi reports that overstaying NJ involved in other types of crime are finding housing through a guarantor name laundering scheme.

Again, we’re getting another article (same as yesterday’s blog) just reporting the facts of the case (without resorting to quoting some “expert” about how this is indicative of NJ or Chinese character etc.). And it does report that this laundering is going through a Japanese (and includes his name). All good. Ironically, it seems as though it may be difficult to prosecute the guarantor for fraud (the NJ, however, would lose his housing contract). So punishment looks a tad one-sided. Again, there is a strong tendency to punish the employee not the employer, the user not the broker, as happens surprisingly often, say, for employers of overstayers and human traffickers. It’s the NJ which gets it in the neck.

Anyway, the guarantor system in Japan is a flawed one. We have people of any nationality unable to rent a place without a guarantor, and landlords all too often refuse to rent to a NJ even with a guarantor. It’s unsurprising to me that NJ would be finding a way around the system (they gotta live somewhere) and J brokers profiting from it. I’m just hoping that things like this won’t be further fodder for saying that NJ renters are worthy of suspicion (when this guarantor brokerage system is the subject of this article; after all, the system wouldn’t fly without a Japanese guarantor). To me (and again, this is not to diminish the crimes these perps are committing), Asahi reporting in such detail on the other crimes being committed by the NJ is a tad superfluous to the fraud cases at hand. Glad the quality of reportage is improving, in any case.

AFP and Yomiuri: How to get around J border fingerprinting: tape!

Here’s an update about that old fingerprinting at the border thingie “to prevent terrorism, infectious diseases, and foreign crime”. Here’s one way how you get around it: special tape on your fingers! Two articles on this below.

Also, just so that people are aware that your fingerprints are NOT cross-checked immediately within the database: I have a friend who always uses different fingers when he comes back into Japan (index fingers one time, middle fingers the next, alternating; Immigration can’t see), and he has NEVER been snagged (on the spot or later) for having different fingerprints from one time to the next. Try it yourself and see. Anyway, if people are getting caught, it’s for passports, not fingerprints.

Japan Times update on granting children of mixed J/NJ parentage citizenship

Japan Times: Many observers of the Nationality Law have welcomed the government’s proposed revision approved Tuesday by the Cabinet that will soon allow hundreds of children born out of wedlock to Japanese men and foreign women to obtain Japanese nationality if the father recognizes paternity even after birth…

The scheduled amendment is in line with the June 4 Supreme Court ruling that a provision of the law on the status of children born out of wedlock was unconstitutional.

Today, the law still reads that a child born out of wedlock between a Japanese father and a foreign mother can get Japanese nationality only if the father admits paternity during the mother’s pregnancy, or if the couple get married before the child turns 20, but not after birth.

Thus, children whose fathers acknowledge paternity after their birth are not granted Japanese nationality, which the top court declared a violation of equal rights.

The proposed revision stipulates that children born out of wedlock whose fathers recognize paternity, regardless of the timing of the acknowledgment, can obtain Japanese citizenship.

KM on how only NJ suspects get named even when J perps also involved in crime

Mainichi: “A Chinese woman suspected of faking her marriage to a Japanese man just before she gave birth so her son could obtain Japanese citizenship has been arrested, it has been learned.

“Metropolitan police arrested Jiang Xinxin, 27, a resident of Tokyo’s Kita-ku, on suspicion of making a false declaration on an official document…”

KM: I’m wondering why the name of the Chinese woman has been published but not the name of her Japanese accomplice (that is, the man she had the fake wedding with). According to the Japanese article both the Chinese woman and the Japanese man are being prosecuted. Yet, only the name of the Chinese woman has been published.

Hmmm. I think I see a pattern here. If a foreigner is involved, even tangentially, publish the name. If a Japanese person is involved, respect their privacy. Problematic coverage, don’t you think?

My problems with Wikipedia: Its biased entry on “Arudou Debito”

In my most recent Japan Times column (JUST BE CAUSE August 5, 2008), I intimated that I feel rather negatively about Wikipedia (I call it “that online wall for intellectual graffiti artists”). As much as I don’t think I should touch how historians render my history, Wikipedia’s entry on me has been a source of consternation. Years of slanted depictions and glaring omissions by anonymous net “historians” are doing a public disservice — exacerbated as Wikipedia increasingly gains credibility and continuously remains the top or near-top site appearing in a search engine search.

The issues I have with the “Arudou Debito” Wikipedia entry are, in sum:

A “Criticism” section not found in the Wikipedia entries of other “controversial figures”, such as Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama — meaning there is overwhelming voice given to the critics and no voice given any supporters for balance.

An avoidance of quoting primary source material just because it is archived on my website, Debito.org — even though it is third-party material published by other authors.

Omissions of books I published months and years ago.

Other historical inaccuracies and misleading summaries of issues and cases.
Privacy issues, such as mentioning my children by name, who are still minors and not public figures.

“Criticism” sources overwhelmingly favoring one defunct website, which seems to be connected to the “editors” standing guard over this entry.

Other information included that is irrelevant to developing this Wikipedia entry of me as a “teacher, author, and activist”, such as my divorce.

============================

Instead, where are the (positive) quotes from the people and published authors who actually have something verifiably meaningful to say about Japan and social issues, such as Donald Richie, Ivan Hall, Chalmers Johnson, John Lie, Jeff Kingston, Robert Whiting, Mark Schreiber, Eric Johnston, Terrie Lloyd, Bern Mulvey, Lee Soo Im, and Kamata Satoshi? Omitting them makes the Wikipedia entry sorely lacking in balance, accurate research, and respect for the facts of the case or the works of the person biographied. It comes off less as a record of my activities as a “teacher, author, and activist”, more as an archive of criticisms.

For these reasons, I will put a “neutrality disputed” tag on the “Arudou Debito” Wiki entry and hope Wikipedia has the mechanisms to fix itself.

Good News #2: Non-native NJ wins Akutagawa, Japan’s most coveted book award

Hi Blog. Good news. Yang Yi, a NJ (not a Zainichi, which would be good news too, but a non-native NJ to boot), has just won Japan’s most coveted literary award. Congratulations!

This is not the first time a NJ (or even a non-native) has won a prestigious book award (hark way back to Dave Zopetti’s Subaru-sho). But it’s the first for an Akutagawa, and that says something positive about Japan’s assimilation. Well done all around! Article and interview blogged here.

Washington Post on the Yakuza and the Japanese Police

Washington Post: “Hi Blog. This is a tangent to the Debito.org role of bringing up issues of NJ in Japan, but it relates as we have been talking about the NPA in recent months. One of my friends, a person who studies wrongful arrests in Japan, says, “The Japanese Police are some of the biggest criminals in Japan.” According the the article below, the NPA’s involvement in hindering international investigations of Japanese organized crime may be evidence of that. Courtesy of The Club. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

=====================================
Washington Post: “Unlike their Japanese counterparts, U.S. law enforcement officers are sharing tips with Japan. Officials from both countries confirm that, in November 2003, the Tokyo police used information from ICE and the Nevada Gaming Control Board to seize $2 million dollars in cash from a safe-deposit box in Japan, which was leased to Kajiyama by a firm affiliated with a major Las Vegas casino. According to ICE Special Agent Mike Cox, the Kajiyama saga was probably not an isolated incident. “If we had some more information from the Japan side,” he told me last year, “I’m sure we’d find other cases like it.”… In early March, in my presence, an FBI agent asked the NPA to provide a list of all the members of [Yakuza crime boss] Goto’s organization so that they could stop them from coming into the country and killing my family. The NPA was reluctant at first, citing “privacy concerns,” but after much soul-searching handed over about 50 names. But the Tokyo police file lists more than 900 members. I know this because someone posted the file online in the summer of 2007; a Japanese detective was fired because of the leak.”

US State Dept Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2007, Japan

Although the US is certainly no paragon of human rights worldwide (what with torture, renditions, abuses under SOFA, denial of Habeas Corpus to non-citizens, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and the largest arms sales worldwide, to name but a few caveats under this administration), here is their annual report on human rights in Japan in full. For what it’s worth. Note how the situation of “Japanese Only” signs nationwide is no longer mentioned, like it was in previous reports. I guess the US State Department considers the situation resolved. I beg to differ.

Sankei snipes at Chinese workers, comparing Pension System temp inputters with toxic gyouza

Get a load of this. The Sankei trowels on the insinuations–by comparing the Chinese gyouza poisonings with Chinese temporary workers inputting data into the troubled Japanese pension system. As if letting in Chinese workers to do a Japanese’s work is like letting in toxic gyouza. Whatta headline. True colors disguised as wry humor by the good ol’ Sankei Shinbun. Somebody reel in the editor…

Yomiuri: GOJ to forbid employers from confiscating NJ passports

After much trouble with employers confiscating NJ worker passports (held as a Sword of Damocles to abuse workers), the GOJ is finally making it expressly illegal. About time–the passport is the property of the issuing government, and not something a foreign government (or another person) can impound indefinitely. The fact that it’s been used as a weapon to keep the foreign laborer in line for so long speaks volumes about the GOJ’s will to protect the imported laborer’s rights after he or she got here. Glad this is finally coming on the books. Now let’s hope it gets enforced.

Mainichi Waiwai: Homi Danchi and Japanese-Brazilian frictions in Aichi

Mainichi Waiwai: “”All the Japanese ever do is complain about us,” a Japanese-Brazilian resident of the Homi Danchi housing estate tells Spa! “They don’t accept us at all. We try to greet them and they just ignore us. They don’t want to have anything to do with us.” And here’s where Homi can serve as a harbinger. Danchi housing estates across Japan are losing their inhabitants as the country’s population shrinks. Japan’s current population of 126 million is estimated to drop below 100 million by 2050 unless something is done. More than likely, foreigners are going to be needed to make up for the lost 20-odd million. More and more public housing estates are going to become like Homi, where over half the current 8,000 inhabitants are non-Japanese.”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 8, 2007

1) DISCRIMINATION AT “HOLIDAY SPORTS CLUB” CHAIN, BY JIM DUNLOP
2) TPR ON US HR 151 ON COMFORT WOMEN, AND WHY IT’S NOT A BAD THING
3) THE IDUBOR CASE: INCARCERATION WITHOUT EVIDENCE, WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
4) MOFA ALLOWS CONVICTED DISRUPTER INTO HUMAN RIGHTS MEETING (UPDATED)
5) THREE JAPAN TIMES COLUMNS ONLINE
… along with RESPONSE TO DOREEN SIMMONS ON ASASHORYU SCANDAL
6) IJUUREN PUBLISHES NGO POLICY PROPOSALS ON MINORITIES IN JAPAN
and finally…
7) GREGORY CLARK DEFENDS PM MIYAZAWA’S CORRUPTION, AND MY RESPONSE

Tangent: Greg Clark JT column defends Miyazawa’s corruption

Last July, Gregory Clark wrote an epitaph-style Japan Times column about his old friend, former Prime Minister Miyazawa Kiichi, who was facing mixed reviews in the J press at the time of his death for not dealing with the Bubble Economy properly. Greg defends his old friend with aplomb. So much so that he excuseth too much, in my opinion–even Kiichi’s corruption. First Greg’s column, then my unpublished letter to the editor in response.

Brief: Visit to San’ya, Tokyo’s Homeless District

I briefly blogged last week that I was visiting San’ya, Tokyo’s day-laborer and homeless district, and was asked to write up a brief describing the dynamic, the conditions, and the odd infighting that comes with this odd slum. I make no case that my narrative is properly informed, empathetic, or representative. It’s just an eyewitness account from someone who stayed one night in the comfort of a dive hotel, with proper access to food and basic amenities. Those who wish to know more, links enclosed.

Asahi Editorial: Tanaka Hiroshi on treatment of NJ workers

Since the Japanese population is declining, the government needs to come out and make clear that we do need and value foreign workers. Once that is recognized, the government should examine which areas are lacking and estimate how many workers we need. It also should pass legislation to enable immigrants who complete Japanese-language training programs and vocational training courses to enter the workforce as full-fledged workers. Some people worry that too many foreign workers would lead to lower wages for Japanese workers or steal jobs away. If a foreign worker is more competent or better trained than a Japanese, then naturally they will get hired first. But to assume that a foreigner should work for less than a Japanese is outright discrimination. And as long as the principle of “equal pay for equal work” is observed, the situation will not adversely affect the labor market.

JTs on rackets for immigrant workers, runaway Trainees

“A total of 9,607 foreigners, mostly Asians, ran away from job training sites in Japan between 2002 and 2006 in an apparent attempt to look for better working conditions elsewhere, according to the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau… The tatemae (given reason) of the Trainee Worker program run by JITCO is to bring workers from developing countries to Japan to learn Japanese techniques that they can later put to use back home. The honne (real reason) of the program is to legally let small and medium Japanese companies import cheap labor. According to a recent series of articles in the Asahi Shimbun, the Japanese public for the most part still buys the tatemae explanation, even though the media has been reporting for years that many foreign trainees come to Japan for the express purpose of making money.” More horror stories to add to the stew…

Yomiuri: GOJ split over what to do about Trainee Visa abuses

Yomiuri on GOJ moves regarding exploitative NJ Trainee Visa program: One official said, “It’s too drastic to say the system should be scrapped just because there is a discrepancy between the goal and the reality.” Another was concerned the plan would completely overturn the government’s policy of not accepting foreign manual laborers, while a third said, “The current system has been, to a certain degree, effective as part of the nation’s international contribution.”

But all three ministries agree that a revised or completely new system should include measures to crackdown on overstayers through tighter immigration controls, and improvements in managing foreign workers’ information.

NYT on forced confessions by Japanese police

In all, 13 men and women, ranging in age from their early 50s to mid-70s, were arrested and indicted. Six buckled and confessed to an elaborate scheme of buying votes with liquor, cash and catered parties. One man died during the trial — from the stress, the others said — and another tried to kill himself. But all were acquitted this year in a local district court, which found that their confessions had been entirely fabricated. The presiding judge said the defendants had “made confessions in despair while going through marathon questioning.” The Japanese authorities have long relied on confessions to take suspects to court, instead of building cases based on solid evidence. Human rights groups have criticized the practice for leading to abuses of due process and convictions of innocent people.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 19, 2007

1) “JAPANESE ONLY” SIGNS: “PURE-BLOODED JAPANESE ONLY–NO WAR ORPHANS etc.”
2) GAIJIN HANZAI MAG UPDATE: WERE THE POLICE BEHIND IT?
I SPECULATE YES, IN BOTH JAPAN TIMES (TOMORROW) AND ON JAPAN FOCUS
3) 2-CHANNEL UPDATE: NOW 43 CASES OF LIBEL LEFT UNREQUITED
4) CONFUSED BY COMFORT WOMEN DEBATE? THE DEFINITIVE ARTICLE ON JAPAN FOCUS
5) TRANS-PACIFIC RADIO INTERVIEW RE KOKUSAIKA, POLITICS etc.
and finally…
6) NEW BATCH OF “JAPANESE ONLY” T-SHIRTS NOW ON SALE

Excellent article on “Comfort Women” on Japan Focus

Hi Blog. Here’s a pretty much perfect article on the “Comfort Women” Issue at Japan Focus, which ties everything we need for this debate together: The USG and GOJ’s reaction to the issue, the UN’s reports, the background of the primary agents in the process of denial, and all contextualized within a comparison of Nazi …

Abe denies existence of “Comfort Women”, overseas media and US Congress react, Abe backpedals, then clams up. Media pounces

Now the Western media has their peg to unzip the Abe Adminstration’s overt right-wing historical revisionist bent. Newsweek did a puff piece on Abe’s wife (comparing her to Jackie O) not too long ago, sigh. Now Abe undoes her image control with these revelations. NYT and Time Magazine aritcles follow. Remember that Abe tried this on NHK in 2001 before he was PM, forcing NHK to re-edit a historical piece involving the Comfort Women some years ago. J Times Sources included, as well as an update showing Abe backpedalling and containing links to statements before the US Congress on this issue. Go Mike Honda, go! More updates include March 7 Kyodo article as the GOJ continues to make a hash of the issue, and NYT interviews victims March 8. Then Abe blames the media for misconstruing him and clams up. NYT editorial and Kouno Statement of 1993 included. As well as lots more media debate and academic analysis.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JAN 25 07

1) IVAN HALL NOV 3 2006 JALT SPEECH ON DEBITO.ORG
2) ENDGAME FOR JAPAN’S QUEST FOR UNSC SEAT?
3) METROPOLIS ON INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTIONS
4) AP PRIMER ON J IMMIGRATION ISSUES
5) HUMOR…
a) How to deal with Japanese police ID checkpoints: have personalities.
b) Amorously noisy bathers cause trouble at onsen. Ban them too?
c) Yunohana’s “Japanese Only” sign copied into online video game.
d) First Debito.org Dejima Award: Town approves university only if no foreign students allowed
and finally.. “JAPANESE ONLY” T-SHIRTS ON SALE AGAIN AT DEBITO.ORG

AP primer on Japanese Immigration issues

Pretty good article rounding up what we’ve been saying so far about the issues of Japanese immigration, particularly that of guest workers-cum-immigrants from South America reaching double-digit percentages of the population of some Japanese towns. Courtesy of Steve at The Community.

The article says few things which readers of this and other mailing lists don’t already know. But I’m glad to see this issue receiving wider attention overseas. Quite often it takes “gaiatsu” (overseas pressure) from exposure before the GOJ is ever shamed into doing something about its own social problems. For what do the policymaking elites care about these people? They care more about how it tarnishes Japan’s reputation overseas.

UPDATE: Visiting Immigration re Spouse Visa questionnaire

I visited Sapporo’s very friendly Immigration Bureau (Nyuukoku Kanrikyoku) yesterday to find out more about the Questionnaire (shitumonsho) for people marrying Japanese and applying for the appropriate visa. I talked to the Inspection Division (shinsa bumon) for about an hour regarding the requirements for certain types of visas based upon conjugal status. A fascinating discussion ensued about how Japan is trying to suss out fake international marriages.