Here we have a report from human rights group IMADR, along with a number of other NGOs, making their case to the UN CERD Committee again about discrimination in Japan. The UN then makes recommendations, and then the GOJ answers once again that those recommendations are unfeasible. It’s the same process that has been going on for decades, my recent research has shown. I’ll share that paper with you when it gets published. Meanwhile, enjoy the circus below.
The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Committee just issued its latest recommendations to the GOJ on March 16, stating what Japan should be doing to abide by the treaty they effected nearly a decade and a half ago, in 1996.
Guess what: A lot of it is retread (as they admit) of what the CERD Commitee first recommended in 2001 (when Japan submitted its first report, years late), and Japan still hasn’t done.
To me, unsurprising, but it’s still nice to see the UN more than a little sarcastic towards the GOJ’s egregious and even somewhat obnoxious negligence towards international treaties. For example, when it set the deadline for the GOJ’s answer to these recommendations for January 14, 2013, it wrote:
UN: “Noting that the State party report was considerably overdue, the Committee requests the State party to be mindful of the deadline set for the submission of future reports in order to meet its obligations under the Convention.”
Again, some more juicy quotes, then the full report, with issues germane to Debito.org in boldface. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
7. The Committee notes with concern that insufficient information regarding the concrete measures for the implementation of its previous concluding observations (2001) was provided by the State Party and regrets their overall limited implementation as well as that of the Convention as a whole.
9. The Committee notes the State party’s view that a national anti-discrimination law is not necessary and is concerned about the consequent inability of individuals or groups to seek legal redress for discrimination (art. 2). [meaning under current Japanese law, FRANCA cannot sue the Sumo Association for its recent racist rules counting foreign-born sumo wrestlers as foreign even if they naturalize. Nor will Japan allow class-action lawsuits. The UN says this must change.] The Committee reiterates its recommendation from previous concluding observations (2001) and urges the State party to consider adopting specific legislation to outlaw direct and indirect racial discrimination…
13. […] The Committee reiterates its view that the prohibition of the dissemination of ideas based upon racial superiority or hatred is compatible with freedom of opinion and expression and in this respect, encourages the State party to examine the need to maintain its reservations to article 4 (a) and (b) of the Convention with a view to reducing their scope and preferably their withdrawal. The Committee recalls that the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities, in particular the obligation not to disseminate racist ideas and calls upon the State party once again to take into account the Committee’s general recommendations No. 7 (1985) and No. 15 (1993)…
14. […] the Committee reiterates its concern from previous concluding observations (2001) that discriminatory statements by public officials persist and regrets the absence of administrative or legal action…
22. (b) […] the principle of compulsory education is not fully applied to children of foreigners in the State party in conformity with articles 5 (e.v) of the Convention; 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and 13 (2) of the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, all of which Japan is a party;
24. The Committee expresses its concern about cases of difficulty in relations between Japanese and non-Japanese and in particular, cases of race and nationality-based refusals of the right of access to places and services intended for use by the general public, such as restaurants, family public bathhouses, stores and hotels, in violation of article 5 (f) of the Convention (art. 2, 5).
The Committee recommends that the State party counter this generalized attitude through educational activities directed to the population as a whole and that it adopt a national law making illegal the refusal of entry to places open to the public.
29. The Committee encourages the State party to consider making the optional declaration provided for in article 14 of the Convention recognizing the competence of the Committee to receive and consider individual complaints.
What follows is the full text of the GOJ’s meeting Feb 24-25, 2010, with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, something it faces for review every two years.
Media-digested highlights of this meeting already up on Debito.org here.
Although it was noteworthy for having 14 Japanese delegates from five different ministries (something the UN delegates remarked upon repeatedly), quite frankly, the 2010 session wasn’t much different from the previous two reviews. In that: The CERD Committee tells the GOJ to do something, and the GOJ gives reasons why things can’t change (or offers cosmetic changes as evidence that things are changing; it even cites numerous times the new Hatoyama Government as evidence of change, and as a reason why we can’t say anything conclusive yet about where human rights improvements will happen). The 2008 review was particularly laughable, as it said that Japan was making “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination”. I guess an actual law against racial discrimination isn’t a conceivable measure. As the GOJ delegates say below, it still isn’t. But it is according to the CERD Committee below.
In sum, the biannual to-and-fro has become Grand Kabuki. And while things got bogged down in the standard “minority” questions (Ainu, Ryukyuans, Burakumin, and Zainichis — all worthy causes in themselves, of course), very little time was spent on “Newcomer” minorities, as in, the NJ (or former-NJ) immigrants who are now here long-term. People like me, as in racially-diverse Japanese, aren’t seen as a minority yet, even though we very definitely are by any UN definition. Plus, hardly any time was devoted at all to discussing the “Japanese Only” signs extant throughout Japan for many UN sessions now, the most simple and glaring violation of the CERD yet.
I haven’t the time to critique the whole session text below, but you can look at the 2008 session here (which I did critique) and get much the same idea. I have put certain items of interest to Debito.org in boldface, and here are some pencil-dropping excerpted quotes:
Here’s a valuable document I unearthed when doing research yesterday. One of the major arguments put forth by nativists seeking to justify discrimination against minorities (or rather, against foreigners in any society) is the argument that foreigners, since they are not citizens, ipso facto don’t have the same rights as citizens, including domestic protections against discrimination. The GOJ has specifically argued this to the United Nations in the past, repeatedly (see for example GOJ 1999, page down to Introduction, section 3). However, the UN, in a clarification of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has made it clear that non-citizens are supposed to be afforded the same protections under the CERD as citizens. To quote the most clear and concise bit:
II. Measures of a general nature
7. Ensure that legislative guarantees against racial discrimination apply to non-citizens regardless of their immigration status, and that the implementation of legislation does not have a discriminatory effect on non-citizens;
This was issued way back in 2004. I’m reading a transcript of the discussions between the GOJ and the CERD Committee review during their review Feb 24-25 2010 (in which it was referred, and even mentioned granting foreigners suffrage not beyond the pale of rights to be granted). I’ll have the full text of that up on Debito.org tomorrow with some highlighting. Meanwhile, enjoy this gem. Something else for the GOJ to ignore.
Here we have some preliminary reports coming out of Geneva regarding the UN CERD Committee’s review of Japan’s human rights record vis-a-vis racial discrimination. We have the GOJ claiming no “rampant discrimination”, and stressing that we still need no law against RD for the same old reasons. This despite the rampant discrimination that NGOs are pointing out in independent reports. Read on.
Excerpts: (Kyodo)—Japan does not need laws to combat racial discrimination, a Japanese official said Thursday as Japan’s racism record was examined by the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
“Punitive legislation on racial discrimination may hamper legitimate discourse,” Mitsuko Shino of the Japanese Foreign Ministry told a session in Geneva. “And I don’t think the situation in Japan is one of rampant discrimination, so we will not be examining this now.”…
[UN official] Thornberry particularly criticized Japan’s lack of laws to combat hate speech, saying “in international law, freedom of expression is not unlimited.”
The convention commits states to fight racial discrimination by taking such steps as restricting racist speech and criminalizing membership in racist organizations. Japan has expressed reservations about some of the provisions, which it says go against its commitment to freedom of expression and assembly.
Prior to the review, Japanese nongovernmental organizations presented various examples they say highlight the need for legislative action to fight racism in their country.
“There seems to have been little progress since 2001,” when the last review was held, committee member Regis de Gouttes said. “There is no new legislation, even though in 2001 the committee said prohibiting hate speech is compatible with freedom of expression.”
UPDATES: Correspondence with the UN reveals that the CERD Committee is doing a lot more than Kyodo reports.
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”.
Here’s the United Nations CERD Committee giving the Japanese Government its due for its Third through Sixth Report (Japan is supposed to submit a report, on what it’s doing to eliminate domestic racial discrimination, every two years since it became a Signatory in 1996. That should be a total of six times by now; however, it has only submitted twice so far, lumping them together. Hazukashii). These are questions the UN wants answered before its periodic review of Japan in February of next year. Have a look.
We activists have already readied our counterreports for submission to the UN (I was asked some weeks ago to cover refusals of NJ by businesses; I handed in an 800-worder, which I’ll have up here in due course). Let’s see how the GOJ tries to squirm out of it this time (see last time and the time before that here).
Here’s a translated letter from one of the “grassroots uyoku” groups which obstructed the Aug 31 meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hearing arguments and feedback for the GOJ’s next (long overdue) report to the UN Committee on Racial Discrimination. They of course put on halos and claim that the NGOs denied them their democratic rights…
On August 31, 2007, a public meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Tokyo was disrupted and sabotaged by right-wing troublemakers. Shouting epithets and arguments designed to wind up the human-rights NGOs, the unidentified right-wingers managed to bring the meeting to a standstill, while the six ministries attending the meeting showed a complete inability to keep the meeting under control. Proceedings ended a half hour early without hearing the opinions of all the attendees, and my opinion is mixed on whether or not the impasse could have been avoided by not taking the bait. In any case, it is a sign to this author that the ultraconservative elements within Japan are not only taking notice of the gain in traction for human rights in Japan, they are doing their best to throw sand in the deliberation process. We will have to develop a thicker skin towards these elements in future, as this is probably only the beginning.
September 19, 1999 was a watershed day in my life, when my family, friends, and I visited the “Japanese Only” Otaru public baths and exposed discrimination in Japan incontrovertibly as racial in nature. It has been exactly twenty years to the day since then, and not enough has changed. People (including Japanese citizens) are still being refused services in Japan based upon whether they “look foreign”. The police still engage in racial profiling as standard operating procedure to ferret out “illegal foreigners”. There still is no law against racial discrimination in Japan’s Civil or Criminal Code. Japan remains a signatory to the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination, where it promised (since 1995) to “undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms”. Nearly a quarter-century later, this clearly has not happened.
All of this has been charted and cataloged in great detail in my book “Japanese Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan”. To commemorate twenty years of GOJ negligence following a case that changed the dialog on discrimination in Japan, my “Japanese Only” Kindle eBook is now free to download on Amazon.com. Well, nearly free. Amazon requires that I charge something, unfortunately. The minimum price is 99 cents US. So I’ve set that price for the book in all countries effective immediately. Similarly, my book for how to cope with life in Japan and make a good living here, “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan”, is now also nearly free. 99 cents.
May the lessons of the Otaru Onsens Case reverberate and help everyone in Japan have equal access to public goods and facilities.
The Otaru Onsens Case, one of the most prominent lawsuits against racial discrimination in Japan’s history, continues to live on both in law and social-science academic journals. The most recent, “Discrimination Against Foreigners in Japan”, came out last July in the “Journal of Law and Policy Transformation”. It cites a lot of online sources (but not the definitive book on the case, “Japanese Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan”).
However, if this paper was from a student in my Research Methods class, I would dock points for a number of things here, not least the lack of peer-reviewed sources cited. It’s essentially taking all the work from Debito.org and rehashing it as a show-and-tell for academic credit, moreover without reading the most recent books and analyses on cases since then; plus it has a number of typos and a rather glib final conclusion that: “[A]s it correctly noted [sic] by Yoshio Sugimoto[,] ‘contemporary Japanese society is caught between the contradictory forces of narrow ethnocentrism and open internalization [sic]’. This proves the fact [sic] that passing laws at all levels of government outlawing discrimination in Japan is just a matter of time.” As written, I don’t logically follow.
(I have the feeling even the article title was readjusted by the gatekeepers to revert the issue back to “foreigner discrimination”, making it once again an issue of nationality, and glossing over the fact that one of the excluded plaintiffs in the Otaru Onsens Case was in fact NOT foreign. Moreover, reading the Abstract below, I note how even the summary must include a disclaimer that the “foreigners” are partially to blame for their being discriminated against “due to differences in language, religion, custom and appearance as well”.)
Anyway, congrats I guess on keeping the issue and the information in circulation, and for getting this into the research canon past the academic gatekeepers who would rather not see discrimination in Japan as racial in nature.
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.
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
Opening paragraph: Arudou’s book is a timely and important contribution to social and scholarly debates about racial discrimination in Japan. It comes on the heels of both the Japanese government’s 2014 official claim that an anti-racial discrimination law is not necessary (third combined report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination [CERD]), and recent developments in Japan that have politicized the issues of dual nationality and hate speech, and even the Miss Universe Japan pageant.
This is the third article of three talking about the progress being made under the recent adoption of local laws against hate speech in Japan, in this case a court case against official hate group Zaitokukai:
Mainichi: The Osaka District Court on Sept. 27 ordered a citizens’ group that holds hate speech rallies targeting Korean residents in Japan to pay 770,000 yen in compensation to a Korean woman over defamation carried out by the group and its former chairman. Freelance writer Lee Sin Hae, 45, filed the lawsuit against “Zainichi Tokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai” (literally, “citizens’ group that does not forgive special rights for Korean residents of Japan,” or “Zaitokukai”) and its former chairman Makoto Sakurai, 44, demanding 5.5 million yen in compensation for defamation by fueling discrimination against Korean residents through hate speech campaigns.
According to the ruling, after Lee contributed an article criticizing hate speech to an online news site, Sakurai called her “an old Korean hag” at rallies his group organized in Kobe’s Sannomiya district and targeted her on Twitter using a discriminatory word for a Korean person sometime between 2013 and 2014 when he was the head of the group. Presiding Judge Tamami Masumori acknowledged that some of the things Sakurai had said and tweeted invaded her personal rights and concluded such actions constituted insults banned under the U.N. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination…
Let’s keep the good news coming, on the heels of the suspension of the anti-foreigner government online “snitch sites”. Anti-Korean hate group Zaitokukai’s activities have been singled out for official frowning-at for some time now, including being put on the National Police Agency watch list, being publicly berated by the Osaka Mayor, and losing big in court–setting a good anti-defamation precedent recognizing hate speech as an illegal form of racial discrimination.
Now the “former leader” of Zaitokukai, Sakurai Makoto, has been issued Japan’s first ministerial warning that his activities are unlawful and violate human rights. And that individuals (not just groups) are also covered against hate speech. Good. But let’s take into account the limitations of this “advisory”. One is that it has no legal force (it’s basically, again, an official frowning-at). The other is that it can only claim this is unlawful, not illegal, because even after twenty years of signing the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Japan still has no laws against racial discrimination. And, as noted below, the GOJ declined to pass any laws against hate speech in 2015. Thus, the debate in Japan can only focus on abstract issues of victim reaction such as “dignity” and “personal agony”, which are much harder to proactively enforce in a legalistic manner. All the GOJ can do is run on fumes and frown–not actually arrest these extremists for encouraging violence against an entire ethnicity within Japan, or even stop the police for selectively keeping order in favor of the rightists.
Asahi: The Justice Ministry for the first time issued a hate speech advisory, warning the former leader of a group against ethnic Koreans on Dec. 22 that its activities are unlawful and violate human rights. The advisory was issued to Makoto Sakurai, former chairman of Zainichi Tokken wo Yurusanai Shimin no Kai (Group of citizens who do not tolerate privileges for ethnic Korean residents in Japan). The group is more commonly known as Zaitokukai, and it has gained international attention for blaring discriminatory and menacing taunts at its street rallies in ethnic Korean neighborhoods. Although the advisory does not carry legal force, the ministry deemed Zaitokukai’s actions to be unlawful. The advisory also recognized individuals as victims of hate speech for the first time.
Two posts ago I talked about the UN’s most recent report on Japan’s human rights record (and how there seems to have been almost no progress made). Well, also interesting is the public record of the give-and-take between UN officials and Japan’s mission to the UN. That’s below. It offers a glimpse of the mindsets of Japan’s representatives, and how they will defend Japan’s status quo no matter what. The parts that are germane to Debito.org are bolded up, so have a read. This is probably a glimpse as to what courses the GOJ will (not) take regarding human rights issues in future.
BTW, If you want to see how much has not changed (these UN reviews happen every two years), get a load of what happened last time Japan faced the music in the UN regarding its human rights record, back in 2010. The GOJ even claimed Japan was taking “every conceivable measure” to eliminate racial discrimination back in 2008 (yeah, except for an actual law against racial discrimination, unrequited since 1996!). Debito.org’s archives and analysis go back even farther, so click here. And when everyone by now realizes that Japan’s human-rights efforts are a joke (seriously, back in 2013), the Japanese representative will angrily shout to the audience, “Why are you laughing? SHUT UP! SHUT UP!” This is not a joke.
Concluding remarks (excerpt):
ANWAR KEMAL, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for the Report of Japan, said Japan was making progress in the implementation of the Convention. Japan had a democratic constitution and therefore should be able to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law which would plug the gaps in the domestic legislation as recommended by the Committee five years ago. It should be able to tackle racist hate speech without impeding upon the right to free speech. It should install a national human rights institution without delay…
AKIRA KONO, Ambassador to the United Nations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, [said] Japan would continue to make tireless efforts to improve the human rights situation without permitting any form of discrimination, including racial or ethnic.
LESSONS OF THE URAWA “JAPANESE ONLY” SOCCER STADIUM BANNER CASE OF MARCH 8, 2014
Let’s sew this issue up: What happened this week is probably the most dramatic and progressive thing to happen to NJ in Japan, particularly its Visible Minorities, since the Otaru Onsens Case came down with its District Court Decision in November 2002.
In this decision, a Japanese court ruled for only the second time (the first being the Ana Bortz Case back in October 1999) that “Japanese Only” signs and rules were racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu).
It did not call it discrimination instead based on “ethnicity” (minzoku), “nationality” (kokuseki), outward appearance (gaiken), or some kind of “misunderstanding” (gokai), “ingrained cultural habit” or “necessary business practice” (shuukan no chigai, seikatsu shuukan, shakai tsuunen, shikatsu mondai etc.). All of these claims had merely been excuses made to ignore the elephant in the room that more invidious racialized processes were involved.
But in the Urawa “Japanese Only” Soccer Stadium Banner Case, the word jinshu sabetsu reappeared in the terms of debate, and we may in fact have witnessed a watershed moment in Japan’s race relations history. Yet it wouldn’t have happened without the issue leaking outside of Japan, incurring gaiatsu (outside pressure), and a real threat to Japan’s worldwide reputation as a “civilized” society. A full explication follows:
Table of Contents:
MORE RACIALIZED NASTINESS
1) “Japanese Only” banner in Saitama Stadium at Urawa Reds soccer game; yet media minces words about the inherent racism behind it
2) Immigration Bureau: Points System visa and visual images of who might be qualified to apply (mostly White people; melanin need not apply)
3) SITYS: Japan Times: “Points System” visa of 2012 being overhauled for being too strict; only 700 applicants for 2000 slots
4) YouTube: Police NJ Passport Checkpoint at Shibuya March 3, 2014 (targeted NJ does not comply)
5) Former PM and Tokyo 2020 Chair Mori bashes his Olympic athletes, including “naturalized citizens” Chris and Cathy Reed
MORE RACIALIZED SILLINESS
6) ANA ad on Haneda Airport as emerging international Asian hub, talks about changing “the image of Japan” — into White Caucasian!
7) The consequent Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 72: “Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad”, Jan 25, 2014
8 ) Discussion: How about this ad by COCO’s English Juku, learning English to get a competitive advantage over foreign rivals?
9) Amazing non-news: Kyodo: “Tokyo bathhouses look to tap foreigners but ensure they behave”
10) Papa John’s Pizza NY racism case 2012: “Lady chinky eyes” receipt gets employee fired. A case-study template
AS LIFE CONTINUES TO DRAIN OUT OF THE SYSTEM
11) Bloomberg column: “A rebuke to Japanese nationalism”, gets it about right
12) Fun facts #18: More than 10% of all homes in Japan are vacant, will be nearly a quarter by 2028
13) Weird stats from Jiji Press citing MHLW’s “record number of NJ laborers” in Japan. Yet Ekonomisuto shows much higher in 2008!
14) NHK World: Tokyo Court orders Tokyo Metro Govt to compensate Muslim NJ for breach of privacy after NPA document online leaks
(but rules that police spying on NJ is permitted)
… and finally…
15) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 71 January 7, 2014: “The empire strikes back: The top issues for NJ in 2013”
Going viral on Saturday was news of a banner up at a sports meet on March 8, 2014, that said “Japanese Only” (the Urawa Reds soccer team in Saitama Stadium, which according to Wikipedia has some of the best-attended games in Japan). Here it is:
According to media outlets like Al Jazeera, “the sign could be considered racist”, Kyodo: “seen as racist”, or Mainichi: “could be construed as racist”. (Oh, well, how else could it be considered, seen, or construed then? That only the Japanese language is spoken here?). Urawa Stadium management just called it “discriminatory” (sabetsu teki) and promised to investigate. Fortunately it was removed with some solid condemnations. But no media outlet is bothering to do more than blurb articles on it, barely scratching the surface of the issue.
And that issue they should scratch up is this: Since at least 1999, as Debito.org has covered more than any other media on the planet, Japan has had public language of exclusion (specifically, “Japanese Only” signs spreading around Japan) that have justified a narrative that says it’s perfectly all right to allow places to say “no” to foreigners”, particularly those as determined on sight. It’s also perfectly legal, since the GOJ refuses to pass any laws against racial discrimination, despite promises to the contrary it made back in 1995 when signing the UN CERD.
This much you all know if you’ve been reading this space over the decades. But it bears repeating, over and over again if necessary. Because this sort of thing is not a one-off. It is based upon a mindset that “foreigners” can be treated as subordinate to Japanese in any circumstances, including in this case the allegedly level playing field of sports, and it is so unquestioned and hegemonic that it has become embedded — to the point where it gets dismissed as one of Japan’s “cultural quirks”, and the language of the original Otaru Onsens “Japanese Only” sign has become standardized language for the exclusionary.
But the problem is also in the enforcement of anti-racism measures. You think any official international sports body governing soccer (which has zero tolerance for racism and is often very quick to act on it) will investigate this any further? Or that the Olympic Committee before Tokyo 2020 is going to raise any public eyebrows about Japan’s lackadaisical attitude towards racism in its sports? For example, its outright racism and handicapping/excluding/bashing foreigners (even naturalized “foreigners”) in Sumo, baseball, hockey, rugby, figure skating, the Kokutai, or in the Ekiden Sports Races, which deliberately and overtly handicaps or outright excludes NJ from participation?
I’m not going to bet my lunch on it, as scrutiny and responsibility-taking (as in, finding out who put that banner up and why — speculation abounds) could happen. But it probably won’t. Because people can’t even say clearly and definitively that what just happened in Urawa was “racism” (and Al Jazeera, the Asahi, or the Mainichi didn’t even see fit to publish a photo of the banner, so readers could feel the full force and context of it). And that we’re going to see ever more expressions of it in our xenophobic youth (which was a huge political force in Tokyo’s last gubernatorial election) as Japan continues its rightward swing into bigotry.
Table of Contents:
1) Kyoto District Court orders anti-Korean Zaitokukai to pay damages in first J court decision recognizing hate speech as an illegal form of racial discrimination
2) Come back Brazilian Nikkei, all is forgiven!, in a policy U-turn after GOJ Repatriation Bribes of 2009
3) Tokyo Metro Govt issues manual for J employers hiring NJ employees: Lose the “Staring Big Brother” stickers, please!
4) Japan Times Community Pages expanding from two-page Tuesdays to four days a week
5) AFP: Asylum-seeker dies after collapsing at J detention center while doctor at lunch
6) Dr. Kitaoka Shinichi, Chair of Council on Security and Defense Capabilities, speaks at UH EWC Oct 11, 2013 on Japan’s need to remilitarize
7) Donald Keene Center opens in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture. His life and library can be seen, for a price.
8 ) TheDiplomat.com: “In Japan, Will Hafu Ever Be Considered Whole?”, on the debate about Japan’s increasing diversity
… and finally …
9) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 68 Oct 1 2013: “Triumph of Tokyo Olympic bid sends wrong signal to Japan’s resurgent right”
Good news from the Japanese judiciary. A lower court in Kyoto has finally ruled for the first time that a) hate speech exists in Japan, b) it is an illegal activity, subject to restriction, sanction, and penalty, and c) it is covered under international treaty (since Japan has no law against hate speech) such as the UN CERD.
That is a hat trick in terms of jurisprudence (on par with the Ana Bortz Case and the Otaru Onsens Case, although they were arguably more about issues of business and access to services than abstract concepts like freedom of speech).
Let’s hope a higher court does not overturn this. But I think the zealous bigots at Zaitokukai are realizing they’ve gone too far and set a spoiler precedent. About time — when their followers advocate murder and massacre of an ethnic minority, I think that’s when even timorous Japanese judges, who are sensitive to media attention, have to draw a line somewhere. Here’s where it was drawn. Articles from the Mainichi/Kyodo and Japan Times follow:
Mainichi: The Kyoto District Court ordered anti-Korean activists Monday to pay damages for disrupting classes at a Korean school by staging a demonstration during which they directed hate speech at the ethnic Korean community in Japan, banning them from staging further demonstrations. It is the first court decision in connection with hate speech, which fans discrimination and hatred toward a certain race or minority, lawyers for the school said.
Kyodo: A public bath facility in Eniwa, Hokkaido, refused entry to a Maori woman from New Zealand due to her face tattoos, a facility official said Thursday. The Maori language lecturer, 60, has the tattoos, called ta moko, worn traditionally by some indigenous New Zealanders, on her lips and chin. She was in Hokkaido for a conference on indigenous languages in the town of Biratori in the northernmost prefecture. On Sunday afternoon a group of 10 people involved in the conference visited the thermal baths but were refused entry by a facility staff member.
Oh the ironies of the above happening: a) it’s in Hokkaido, site of the famous Otaru Onsens Case (where people were refused entry just for being foreign; well, okay, just looking foreign), b) it’s in Hokkaido, site of the indigenous Ainu (whose conference in Biratori this indigenous Maori lecturer was attending), and c) it’s a traditional face tattoo, which the Ainu themselves used to have before the GOJ outlawed them.
But wait, there’s more irony. Check this out: Mainichi: Gov’t aims to complete national Ainu museum for 2020 Olympics: “The project aims to end discrimination against Ainu people in Japan and create a society where people of different ethnicities can live together in harmony.”…
1) Japan’s “hate speech” debate proceeds apace, but not sinking in, according to university survey cited in Mainichi
2) Summer Tangent: Korea Times on racial discrimination in South Korea: Striking parallels with Japan
3) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 66: “Ol’ blue eyes isn’t back: Tsurunen’s tale offers lessons in microcosm for DPJ”, Aug 5, 2013
I’m about to vacation the blog for a few weeks for the summer, but before I do, here’s some food for thought about the debate on discrimination in this part of the world. Contrast the Korea Times article below about racial discrimination in South Korea with any article about racial discrimination in Japan. I see striking parallels, especially given my experience as a naturalized Caucasian Japanese myself. The debate in South Korea seems to be falling into similar mental traps and policy-level blind spots.
KT: In a report submitted to the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in 2003, the Korean government explained that the “homogeneity of the Korean people and the relative lack of multiethnic experiences have been conducive to prejudice against foreign cultures and people.”
But Hyung-il Pai, a professor of Korean history at the University of California, argues in her book, “Constructing ‘Korean’ Origins,” that the idea of a pure Korean race is a myth constructed by Japanese colonial scholars and Korean nationalists. The archaeological record actually shows that Korea’s historical development reflected diverse influences from throughout Northeast Asia.
Nonetheless, “Race as the basic unit of analysis in Korean history was the pedestal on which the nation was built. Race or blood was considered the most critical factor in Korean identity formation,” she explained about modern Korean attitudes on history.
Table of Contents:
MORE DARK CLOUDS ON THE HORIZON
1) Meidai’s Lawrence Repeta lecture May 23 on LDP’s likely constitutional reforms: Deletes fundamental guarantee of human rights, shifts from “rights” to “duties” & prioritizes “public order”
2) FGU on how Japan’s employers are circumventing new contract law protections: poison pills in contracts
3) Tangent: Julian Ryall on how Japanese employees educated abroad are denied opportunities by Japanese companies
MORE RACIALIZED HUCKSTERISM
4) Racist 2013 Toshiba commercial for product APB-R100X, SuiPanDa combination ricecooker/breadmaker
5) KAJ and Debito.org on foreign crime and racial profiling in Japan: statistical hocus-pocus
6) NPA “Crime Infrastructure Countermeasures” campaign also targets “foreign crime” anew. Justifies more anonymous anti-NJ signs
7) Ueda Hideaki, GOJ rep at UN Committee Against Torture, repeatedly tells people to “shut up” for audibly laughing at Japan’s human rights record
… and finally…
8 ) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 64 Jun 4, 2013: “By opening up the debate to the real experts, Hashimoto did history a favor”
JAPAN TIMES: Japan’s human rights envoy to the United Nations faced calls to quit Wednesday over a video that showed him shouting at fellow diplomats to “shut up.” YouTube footage of the incident at the [UN Committee Against Torture held 5/21-5/22] provoked a storm of criticism on the Internet, with demands that Ambassador Hideaki Ueda be recalled to Japan. Blogging Japanese lawyer Shinichiro Koike, who said he was at the session, explained that a representative from Mauritius had criticized Japan’s justice system for not allowing defense lawyers to be present during interrogations of criminal suspects…
JDG: It says so much about what is wrong with Japan, and the way Japan views both international relations and human rights (the human rights representative shouting at other diplomats?)… Of course, we must cut the guy some slack, after all, he is forced to try and uphold the tatemae that ‘Japan is a modern nation’ in a room full of people who clearly know the truth about Japan’s human rights record.
DEBITO: Well, I’m not going to cut this character any slack. Ueda is a very embedded elite. Here’s his resume at the MOFA. And he is living in the culture of constant denial of reality that Japan’s elites excel at (get this bit where he’s officially claiming in 2005 as Japan Ambassador to Australia that Japanese don’t eat whales). If I were listening to Ueda say these things on any occasion, I would laugh out loud too. The UN Committee Against Torture has commented previously (2007) on Japan’s criminal justice system, where treatment of suspects, quote, “could amount to torture”. Ueda is part of the fiction writers maintaining the GOJ’s constant lying to the UN about the state of human rights in Japan.
Consider his statement on February 24, 2010 to the ICERD regarding Japan’s progress in promoting measures against racial discrimination: Paragraph after paragraph about the Ainu (fine, but they are not the only minority in Japan covered by the ICERD), then citing a dead law proposal that failed to pass about ten years ago as some sort of progress, the absolutely useless MOJ Bureau of Human Rights, a proposal targeting a sliver of the international refugee community (who refused the hospitality anyway because they knew how unsupported it is once they get to Japan), and alleged cooperation with NGOs (which I know from personal experience is an outright lie — they are constantly ignored.) Meanwhile all sorts of things banned under the ICERD (including “Japanese Only” signs) also go completely ignored. It is, in the end, a joke.
So world, don’t shut up. Laugh aloud, laugh long. International awareness to the point of derision is the only thing that really shatters the veneer of politeness these officious elites keep taking advantage of in the diplomatic community.
Table of Contents:
THE UGLY SIDE OF JAPAN’S RIGHTWARD SHIFT (1): BIGOTRY AND HATRED
1) Feb 9 2013 Tokyo Shin-Ohkubo Anti-Korean demonstrator slogans: “Good or Bad, Kill All Koreans” etc.
2) Letters from J human rights groups to the visiting Olympic Committee re Tokyo 2020: Discrimination in Japan violates IOC Charter
3) My latest academic paper on Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus: “Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance”
4) Interesting cases: naturalized Japanese sues city councilor fiance who jilted her for Korean ethnicity, Pakistani parents file criminal complaint for injurious school bullying, Hatoyama Yukio officially called “traitor” for not toeing official party line on Senkaku/Nanjing issues
THE UGLY SIDE OF JAPAN’S RIGHTWARD SHIFT (2): ELITE DOMINANCE AND INSULARITY
5) Prof. Kashiwazaki Chikako: Japan’s Nationality Law and immigration policy deviates from current international legal norm
6) SITYS: GOJ’s new “Points System” to attract “higher-skilled” NJ being reviewed due to dearth of applications, impossibly high hurdles
7) JT/Kyodo: Record high applicants for J refugee status. Why media fixation on refugees? Because they are a bellwether of Japan’s “legitimacy as a competent, advanced, Western democracy”
8 ) Asahi: Business leaders call for law to allow firing of workers without justification: i.e., the gaijinization of all workplaces
9) JT on “Kyakkan Setsu vs. Nibun Setsu”: Grey zones in compensation for “work hours” in Japan
… and finally…
10) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 61 March 5, 2013: “Child’s quibble with U.S. ‘poverty superpower’ propaganda unravels a sobering story about insular Japan”
PLUS bonus follow-up:
11) Tangent: Tsutsumi Mika’s crooked Jewish character “Goldberg” in her “USA Poverty Superpower” manga.
Making national news whenever statistics come out is how Japan deals with (i.e., mostly rejects) refugees. I was always curious about why refugee numbers have always been considered newsworthy (when there are many other significant NJ-related statistics that merit more fanfare but don’t, such as the number of “Newcomers” with Permanent Residency overtaking the “Oldcomer” Zainichis with Special Permanent Residency in 2007, representing a sea change in the composition of permanent immigrant NJs in Japan). But then I found something in an academic writing that put things in perspective: Acceptance of refugees are one bellwether of Japan’s acceptance of international norms, as part of its “greater role in international cooperation” and an attempt “to increase its legitimacy as a competent, advanced Western democracy”. First the most recent news article, then the academic article to put it in perspective:
Kyodo: In 2011, there were 21 foreigners recognized as refugees, but for 2012, the number fell to 18. Since Japan began its refugee recognition system in 1982, there have been 14,299 people who applied and 616 who were recognized as refugees.
Kashiwazaki: Since the mid-1970s, Japan has come into prominence in the international arena as a major player in the world economy. Internationalization became a slogan for the new direction of the country, with demands from both within and abroad to open, to take a leadership role, and to assume international responsibility. For the Japanese government, successful economic development provided the opportunity to assume a greater role in international cooperation and to increase its legitimacy as a competent, advanced Western democracy. To do so would require accepting an emerging set of international legal norms, including those in the area of citizenship…
The end of the Vietnam War in 1975 generated refugees from Indochina. In the same year, the G7 Summit meeting was established. As the only Asian country admitted to membership in the G7 Summit, Japan was obliged to take some steps to accommodate refugees… With the acceptance of refugees, the Japanese government was compelled to join relevant international conventions. Japan acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural, Rights in 1979, and then ratified the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees in 1981.
COMMENT: Japan basically only acceded to these international norms and agreements as a vanity project — a matter of “not looking like an outlier” in the international community. Not because policymakers had any good-faith interest in helping NJ or outsiders in need come to Japan and settle. That’s why we see honne hiccoughs from time to time (like the one in 2010 when a 78-year-old Zainichi granny was denied social welfare by Oita Prefectural Government — where a court ruled that “Welfare payments to non-citizens would be a form of charity”. So much for those international treaties guaranteeing equal treatment being respected by Japan’s judiciary!). We’ve also seen how Japan simply will not pass a law against racial discrimination (despite signing another international agreement, the UN CERD, in 1995) — and will in fact counteract anyone who does. So in this context, Kyodo’s reporting that “since Japan began its refugee recognition system in 1982, there have been 14,299 people who applied and 616 who were recognized as refugees,” should come as no surprise. The GOJ has no intention of keeping its international treaty promises. They are merely national self-esteem boosters, not real guidelines or goals.
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.
Table of Contents:
1) Sankei Sports etc: J soccer player Nakamura Yuuki quits Slovakian club, feels victimized by “racial discrimination”; my, how ironic!
2) NYT: Xenophobia in Environmental Ministry re exclusionary Fukushima decontam efforts: “Japanese soil is different”, “NJ assistance might scare local grandmas”
3) NHK on Fukushima: Offering all-expense-paid junkets to NJ journalists, interviews for NJ residents who experienced disasters. What’s the catch?
4) Asahi: Media-fostered xenophobia forces prefectural countermeasures against NJ buying “strategic land”
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
5) Book Review: “At Home Abroad” by Adam Komisarof, a survey of assimilation/integration strategies into Japan (interviews include Keene, Richie, Kahl, Pakkun, and Arudou)
6) Update: JA and PTA’s Chagurin Magazine responds to protests re Tsutsumi Mika’s “Children within the Poverty Country of America” article for 6th-Grade kids
7) Interesting lawsuits: French “Flyjin” sues employer NHK for firing her during Fukushima Crisis, 8 US sailors sue TEPCO for lying about radiation dangers
8 ) US Senator Daniel Inouye dies, Mazie Hirono Becomes First U.S. Senator Born in Japan; contrast with do-nothing self-gaijinizing Tsurunen
9) Beate Sirota Gordon, one architect of the Postwar Japanese Constitution, dies at 89, her goals uncompleted if not currently being undone
10) Proposal: Establishing a Debito.org YouTube Channel?
… and finally …
11) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 59: The year for NJ in 2012: a Top 10
Second in a series of two of prominent passings is American Senator Daniel Inouye, a notable Congressman who held on to his congressional seat longer than even legacy legislator Ted Kennedy. As per the local obit excerpt below, he had a quite glorious career in the military as part of the groundbreaking 442nd (some veterans I’ve even met in Hawai’i), then was a pathbreaker for Asian-Americans as a public servant. But consider how he was able to do this. as least as far back as Franklin Roosevelt (the better part of a century ago), we had the United States at the highest levels of public office attempting to untangle race/national or social origin from nationality.
This is something that Japanese society to this day has never accomplished (Japan’s Nationality Law still requires blood for citizenship, and from that derives the entanglement of race and legal status). Nor is Japan really trying. I speak from personal experience (not to mention court precedent) when I say that civil and political rights in Japan are grounded upon being “Japanese”, and “Japaneseness” is grounded upon phenotype (i.e., “looking Japanese”). This MUST be untangled by Japan if it ever hopes to encourage people to come in and settle down as “New Japanese”, not to mention allow people of mixed heritage to breathe as diverse people. But I neither see it happening soon, nor are progressive steps even being taken towards it (I am in fact arguing that Japan in recent years has been regressing… see here, here and here).
As further proof of the helpfulness of a society with notions of citizenship disentangled from race/national or social origin, we have another Senator from Hawaii who just got elected, Mazie Hirono — and she wasn’t even born in the United States! She was born in Japan.
Now, you might say that, well, Finland-born Caucasian Dietmember Tsurunen Marutei has also been elected to high office in Japan. But Tsurunen has been at his post for more than a decade now, and he’s squandered the opportunity by settling into it like a sinecure — doing just about nothing for the rights of NJ in Japan (such as not even bothering to attend or send a rep to a UN CERD meeting at the Diet on May 18, 2006). In fact, Tsurunen has even gone so far as marginalize and gaijinize himself! If one gives him the benefit of the doubt (I don’t, but if), such are the effects of constant pressure of being socially “Othered” in Japan, despite his legal duty to uphold his constitutional status as a Japanese citizen and an elected official.
In comparison, the hurdles Hirono overcame were significant but not insuperable. Even though she was nowhere near as articulate or politically thoroughbred as her Republican opponent, former Hawai’i Governor Laura Lingle, Hirono still grossed nearly double the votes (261,025 to 155,565) last November 6 to clinch the seat. Further, if the legacy of Inouye is any template, I think Hirono will do more than just settle for being a symbolic sphinx in her role as a legislator. Because she can — in a polity which can elect people for life despite their foreign (or foreign-looking) backgrounds, she has more opportunities in society than Tsurunen ever will — or will make for himself.
My point is, the disentanglement of race/social origin from nationality (i.e., rendering clearly and politically at the highest levels of government) is something that every state must do if it is to survive as a nation-state in future. Given its demographics, especially Japan.
The UN Human Rights Council has once again prodded Japan to do something to improve its record on human rights (and this time the GOJ, which must submit a report every two years, actually submitted something on time, not eight years overdue as a combined “Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Combined Report”). Here’s how the media reported on their interplay:
Kyodo: A panel under the U.N. Human Rights Council has endorsed some 170 recommendations for Japan to improve its human rights record, including Tokyo’s handling of the so-called comfort women issue, the euphemism for the Imperial army’s wartime sex slaves…
Other recommendations include the safeguarding of Japanese citizens’ right to lead a healthy life, in light of the enormous amount of radioactive fallout spewed over a vast area by the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. The town of Futaba, which found itself in the center of the nuclear storm since it cohosts the wrecked plant, had actively campaigned for the inclusion of this right. The report also called on Japan to abolish the death penalty after more than 20 countries, including prominent EU member states, objected to its continued use of capital punishment.
COMMENT: As you can see in the HRC’s press brief enclosed in this blog entry, once again the GOJ is avoiding the topic of creating a legal framework to protect people against racial discrimination — claiming it’s already forbidden by the Japanese Constitution (but as we’ve stressed here umpteen times, no explicit law in the Civil or Criminal Code means no enforcement of the Constitution). But all the UN HRC seems to be able to do is frown a lot and continue the talk shop. Further, the UN still chooses the word “migrants” over “immigrants”, which makes NJ (and their J children) who need these rights look like they’re only temporary workers — the “blind spot” continues. Meanwhile, Fukushima and the death penalty seem to have sucked all the oxygen out of the debate arena regarding other human rights issues. In this blog entry is an excerpt of what Japan submitted to the HRC for consideration, and a media brief of the HRC’ s recommendations. It’s basically cosmetic changes, open to plenty of bureaucratic case-by-case “discretion”, and amounting to little promise of fundamental systemic or structural changes.
Table of Contents:
1) Mainichi: Japan’s only human rights museum likely closing after Osaka Gov Hashimoto defunds, says doesn’t teach Japan’s “hopes & dreams”
2) Discussion: JDG, Harumi Befu et.al on the end of Japan’s internationalization and swing towards remilitarization
3) Kyodo: “Foreign caregiver program faces tightening”: Death knell of program as J media finds ways to blame the gaijin?
4) Diet session ends, Hague Convention on Int’l Child Abductions endorsement bill not passed
5) AP Interview: Japan Nuke Probe Head Kurokawa defends his report, also apportions blame to NJ for Fukushima disaster!
6) Success, of a sort, as a “Gaijin Mask” maker amends their racist product to “Gaikokujin Masks”. Same racialized marketing, though.
7) Kyodo: J airport “random body searches” start October. On “int’l passengers”, naturally, so not so random, considering police precedents of racial profiling
8 ) Weird “Japanese Only” advertisement in U Hawaii Manoa Ka Leo student newspaper by Covance asking for medical-experiment volunteers
… and finally…
9) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 55: Toot your own horn — don’t let the modesty scam keep you down
After much political gridlock (the likes of which have not been seen, since, oh, the LDP was in power and the DPJ controlled the Upper House — not that long ago), the current Diet session is over, and one bill that matters to Debito.org did not pass: The one endorsing Japan’s accession to the Hague Convention on International Child Abductions. You know — the treaty that just about everyone else in the club of rich developed nations has signed, and the one that stops you at an international border if you’re traveling single with a child, demanding proof that you’re not abducting your child from the other parent. It’s a good idea, since divorce in Japan due to the Koseki Family Registry System results in one parent (regardless of nationality) losing all legal ties to the child, and leads in many (almost all, it’s estimated) cases to the child growing up with no contact whatsoever (since Japan does not allow joint custody) with the noncustodial parent. It’s even worse for international marriages, and Japan has gotten a lot of pressure from other countries in recent years to sign. Now unsuccessfully.
Well, so Japan will remain a haven for child abductions, both domestic and international. But the interesting thing I’m seeing concrete evidence of these days is overseas Japanese taking advantage of this system, banding together to assist each other in abducting their children to Japan, and the Japanese embassies/consulates cooperating with them as they spirit them into Japan. (I’ll blog about that someday once I receive permission to make that information public.)
But as I have argued before, I’m not sure it really matters if Japan signs the Hague. The GOJ has signed other treaties before (most notably the Convention for Elimination on Racial Discrimination), and refuses to enforce them under domestic laws with criminal penalties (or in Japan’s case regarding the CERD, now signed 17 years ago, refuses to create any laws at all). In the Hague’s case, the GOJ was looking for ways to caveat themselves out of enforcing it (by creating laws of their own advantageous to Wajin spiriters of children that would trump the HCICA, or finding loopholes, such as claims of DV (that only NJ inflict upon us gentle, mild, weak, peaceful Wajin), that would allow the children to stay in Japan out of fear.) Or, true to character, we’ll have people claiming that it’s a matter of “Japanese custom” (shuukan), the last resort for any unjustifiable situation (only this time coming from elected Japanese Dietmember Ido Masae who herself abducted her kids). It’s pretty messy, by design, so visit the Children’s Rights Network Japan Website to try and untangle it.
So I guess the question I’d like to open up for discussion is: Is it better for a nation-state to be bold-faced about it and just say, “We can’t enforce this treaty due to our culture, so we’re not going to sign it, and if you don’t like it, don’t marry our citizens”? Or, is it better for a nation-state to sign it, not enforce it, and face the (geopolitically mild) pressure of a broken promise? I know which route the GOJ has taken so far.
Table of Contents:
1) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column May 1, 2012, “Yes, I can use chopsticks: the everyday ‘microaggressions’ that grind us down”
2) Japan Times HAVE YOUR SAY column solely devoted to the May 1 JBC column on “Microaggressions”
3) Japan Times May 1, 2012 JBC “Microaggression” column now translated into Taiwanese Chinese.
OTHER INTERESTING OPINIONS
4) Baye McNeil’s “Loco in Yokohama” blog brings up uncomfortable truths in the debate on racism in Japan
5) Iida Yumiko on the nation-state, and how it includes people in the national narrative for its own survival (or in Japan’s case, how it doesn’t)
6) USG Asst Sec of State links post-divorce Japan child abductions with DPRK abductions of Japanese
7) Discussion: Aly Rustom on “Ways to fix Japan”
DEEPLY FLAWED OPINIONS
8 ) JT Editorial: Tokyo Metro Govt fuels “Flyjin” myth with flawed survey; yet other NJ who should know better buy into it
9) Yomiuri scaremongering: Foreign buyers snap up J land / Survey shows foreigners use Japanese names to hide acquisitions
10) WSJ: “‘Expats’ Say Goodbye to Gaijin Card”, needs more research beyond “Expat” conceits
11) Kyodo: Municipalities to deny services to illegal NJ; Kuchikomi: Rising NJ welfare chiselers “social parasites”
… and finally…
12) Commemorating the Japan Times Community Page’s 10th Anniversary, a brief column by Arudou Debito, May 8, 2012
Some news on the Japan Child Abductions Issue, where Japan has long set itself up as a safe haven for one parent to abscond with their child following separation or divorce (regardless of whether the marriage was international or domestic), what with no joint custody and no guaranteed child visitation in Japan. Thanks to the Koseki Family Registry system, the divorced couple becomes strangers to each other, and children go on only one parent’s koseki (with the other parent losing all legal title and access to their kids unless the custodial parent approves). In cases of international/intercontinental separation or divorce, the Japanese partner can abduct their child to Japan (since Japan is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, and the Japanese embassy does not enforceably require the permission of both parents to issue a Japanese child a Japanese passport), and that’s it — the kids are gone. Japanese courts have always ruled that the absconder has established “habitual residence” in Japan by dint, so who dares wins. Meanwhile, despite international protests about the GOJ not being a signatory to the Hague, Japan has been dragging its feet for years now on signing (and as I have argued in the past, will probably caveat its way out of enforcing it anyway, as it has done with other treaties (like the CERD and the ICCPR)).
Finally, enough has become enough for sensible people. According to articles below, US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell has once again come out in public making a link between the irony of all the tragedymaking regarding Japanese being kidnapped decades ago by the DPRK (which is indeed a tragedy, yes), yet the lack of tragedy over Japanese still kidnapping international kids. Good. We’ve made that comparison before here on Debito.org, and were roundly condemned by the usual suspects for doing so. (And, as a related tangent, I’ve probably criticized the most by people misquoting me as advocating that foreigners shouldn’t marry Japanese. No, for the record, I’m saying NOBODY, Japanese or NJ, should get married and have children under the insane family law system in Japan; the risks are too great if parents separate).
As per articles below, the Japanese press is of course rallying the public behind the home team via editorial camouflaged as news (it’s hard to discern even what Campbell actually said). It’s even trying to instruct the Japanese public how English is different than Japanese. You see, if a North Korean kidnaps a Japanese, its “abduction” (rachi). But if a Japanese kidnaps an international child, its “tsuresari” (taking along and disappearing). But you see, the English language is inflexible — it only has one word for this action: “abduction”. So it’s all one big “linguistic misunderstanding”. Even though, in either case, abduction is what it is.
And if you really want to take this issue to the next level of linkage, consider this comment from a friend:
“As noted in Wikipedia, “In 1944, the Japanese authorities extended the mobilization of Japanese civilians for labor to the Korean peninsula. Of the 5,400,000 Koreans conscripted, about 670,000 were taken to mainland Japan . . .” And the Japanese have the audacity to complain about 20 or so Japanese abducted to North Korea? The Japanese government should apologize and compensate the 5 million Koreans conscripted 70 years ago before uttering a single word about the actions of North Korea 35 years ago.”
So underlying all of this is an issue of hypocrisy, and now the GOJ is probably going to have to resort to its only real defense when cornered on an issue: agonistic posturing and outrage — trying to derail the issue in favor of maintaining “The Relationship”. People have fallen for this before (after all, the US wants to keep its military bases and its market to sell inter alia weaponry). But I’m not sure this issue is really big enough (I think Masumoto has an inflated sense of his own power) to do that. Let’s keep our eyes on this one, since it’s a good case study of gaiatsu and GOJ policy in the making.
As a special treat, allow me to connect some dots between terms of public discourse: How Japan gets kid-gloved in international debate because it gets treated, consciously or unconsciously, with religious reverence.
It’s a theory I’ve been developing in my mind for several years now: How Japan has no religion except “Japaneseness” itself, and how adherence (or irreverence) towards it produces zealots and heretics who influence the shape and scope of Japan-connected debate.
So let me type in two works — one journalistic, the other polemic — and let you connect the dots as I did when I discovered them last November. I hope you find the juxtaposition as insightful as I did.
National Geographic May 1994, on world rice: “Next stop, Japan. At the Grand Shrines of Ise, 190 miles southwest of Tokyo, the most revered precinct of Japan’s Shinto religion, white-robed priests cook rice twice daily and present it to the sun goddess, Amaterasu, who, they say, is the ancestor of the imperial family.
“The goddess brought a handful of rice from the heavens,” a senior priest tells me, “so that we may grow it and prosper.” He adds that in the first ceremony performed by each new emperor, he steps behind a screen to meet the goddess and emerges as the embodiment of Ninigi no Mikoto, the god of the ripened rice plant. Then every autumn the emperor sends to Ise the first stalks harvested from the rice field he himself has planted on the imperial palace gorunds. All Japanese, says the priest, owe their kokoro — their spiritual essence, their Japaneseness — to the goddess, “and they maintain it by eating rice, rice grown in Japan.”
Japanese law, in fact, long restricted the importation of rice. “Rice is a very special case,” explained Koji Futada, then parliamentary vice minister for agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. “It is our staple food, and so we must have a reliable supply as a matter of national security. That is why we politicians favor sulf-sufficiency, the domestic growing of all the rice we eat.”
Richard Dawkins, “The God Delusion”: “A widespread assumption, which nearly everybody in our society accepts — the non-religious included — is that religious faith is especially vulnerable to offence and should be protected by an abnormally thick wall of respect, in a different class from the respect that any human being should pay to any other… If the advocates of apartheid had their wits about them they would claim — for all I know truthfully — that allowing mixed races is against their religion. A good part of the opposition would respectfully tiptoe away.”
Table of Contents:
CRIMINALITY DEFENDED AS CULTURAL DIFFERENCE
1) Reuters on Olympus Japan corruption issue: It takes a NJ whistleblowing CEO to uncover it, yet he gets sacked for “cultural reasons”
2) Mainichi & Yomiuri: Japanese ex-wife arrested in Hawaii on suspicion of abducting child from custodial father
3) GOJ wants seat on the UN Human Rights Council for 2013-2015. Here’s MOFA’s formal pledge of Japan’s commitments to human rights. Note what’s missing.
4) History: Witness the GOJ’s negotiating tactics during WWII with its allies, according to W.L. Shirer’s “Rise and Fall of The Third Reich”. Not much different today.
5) GOJ Ministry of Environment is dispersing Tohoku debris, including Fukushima nuclear debris, around Japan despite objections of prefectural govts
6) Health and Education Ministries issue directive to place controls on research going on in Tohoku tsunami disaster zones
7) From Yokoso Japan to Kawaisou Japan: GOJ to offer free roundtrip flights to NJ tourists to offset fallout fears
8 ) More GOJ greenmailing: JET Alumni Assocs call on 20 ex-JETs for all-expenses paid trip to tsunami areas, to “let people know what they experienced when they return to their home countries”
PLUS CA CHANGE AND MISCELLANY
9) Korea Times: Naturalized Korean decries refusal of entry to sauna, parallels with Otaru Onsens Case
10) Japan Times: Ichihashi trial bares translation woes: Courts refuse to admit that interpreters often lack the necessary skills
11) BLOG BIZ: Welcome to the future of blog wars: Debito.org temporarily felled by DMCA notice against this site’s critique of Lance Braman’s Japan Times Letters to the Editor
12) Weekend Tangent: Saturday Night Live skit on Japan-obsessed American youth; scarily accurate?
… and finally …
13) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column of October 4, 2011: “Japan needs less ganbatte, more genuine action”
Here we have Japan wanting a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, to help control the agenda and process of review (like any any applicant, especially the venal ones, which is why the HRC was revamped in 2006 after being occupied by some of the world’s most egregious human rights offenders). Applicant Japan promises to treat countries with mutual respect for their history and traditions (read: “I’m okay, you’re okay, so let’s just all get along and not worry about universal standards of human rights — especially as they would be applied to Japan”; there is a long history behind this attitude in the GOJ, see Peek, J. M. 1991. “Japan and the International Bill of Rights.” Journal of Northeast Asian Studies, Fall 1991 10(3): 3-16; and Peek, J. M. 1992, “Japan, The United Nations, and Human Rights.” Asian Survey 32(3): 217-229, read my writeup on Dr. Peek’s findings here).
Note that the GOJ promises to follow the UN’s recommendations for improving domestic human rights (see some of those most recent recommendations here, and decide for yourself how well the GOJ is doing, then read on here to see the plus ca change. Also note what’s missing in their promises: Anything about the Hague Convention on Child Abductions (what with all the abductions after divorce), and of course, anything about passing a law or taking any measures against racial discrimination (despite saying in 2008 that Japan was making “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination“) But that’s tough, you see: We don’t have any other races in Japan that would fall under the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination’s protection, remember; that standpoint remains fundamentally unchanged closing in on 20 years after signing the CERD. Here’s the transcript of how the UN review of Japan’s human rights record went back in February 2010, and what the UN subsequently recommended Japan do back in March 2010 regarding the CERD. Read on to see how they are being studiously ignored in Japan’s pledges below, as usual.
Table of Contents:
DEEP THOUGHTS FROM DEEP THINKERS
1) M.G. “Bucky” Sheftall academic paper on “Shattered Gods” and the dying mythology of “Japaneseness”
2) Peter Tasker in Foreign Policy Magazine: “Japan will rebuild, but not how you think”.
Takes opportunity of Japan’s worst postwar disaster to re-advance outmoded Chrysanthemum Club-ism.
3) Terrie’s Take on how Japanese companies are too “addicted” to cheap Chinese “Trainee” labor to hire unemployed Japanese
4) Donald Keene prattles on about why he’s naturalizing in SAPIO, even takes a cheap shot at NJ
5) Tokyo Gov Ishihara bids for 2020 Olympics through earthquake sympathy vote; also calls for Japan to have nukes, military conscription, and military-led government
THE MONTHLY MODICUM OF BAD SOCIAL SCIENCE
6) Bad social paradigms encouraging bad social science: UC Berkeley prof idiotically counts “flyjin” for H-Japan listserv
7) Reuters Expose: Japan’s ‘throwaway’ nuclear workers, including NJ “temporary temps”
8 ) 2011’s annual GOJ Spot the Illegal Alien campaign enlists Tokyo Metro, deputizes general public with posters of cute and compliant NJ
LET’S NOT LEAVE OUT EXCLUSIONISM
9) Zaitokukai Neonazis march in Tokyo Shibuya July 9, 2011, with ugly invective
10) BV inter alia on J bureaucrat exclusionary attitudes when registering his newborn multicultural child at Shibuya Kuyakusho
11) Mark Austin reports that Otaru, site of the famous onsen lawsuit, still has a “Japanese Only” establishment, “Monika”
12) Kyodo: Soccer S-Pulse coach Ghotbi wants to meet banned fans over racial banner
13) Joel Legendre-Koizumi on the J media’s blackout on PM Kan’s proposals
PORTENTS OF THE FUTURE
14) Adidas assesses the “history of poor treatment of migrant workers in Japan”, now monitoring JITCO in conjunction with other major overseas outsourcers
15) US State Department report 2011: “Japan’s Foreign trainee program ‘like human trafficking'”
16) Asahi: NJ Nurse trainees leave Japan despite 1-year extension to taking qualifying test
17) Quoted in Asia Weekly: “Falling birthrate, rising life expectancy afflict Japan”
18 ) Child Abductions Issue: How Japan’s debate on defining “Domestic Violence”, the loophole in enforcing the Hague Treaty, is heading in the wrong direction
19) Weekend Tangent: The euphoria of collective attack and parental alienation syndrome
20) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 14 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on naturalizing in Japan (part 1 of 3)
21) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 21 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on J naturalization process (part 2 of 3)
22) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 28 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on naturalizing and name changes in Japan (part 3 of 3)
23) PODCAST: NPR All Things Considered on Arudou Debito’s naturalization July 3, 2003
24) PODCAST: NPR All Things Considered on Brooklynite Anthony Bianchi’s election to Inuyama City Council, April 30, 2003
25) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JULY 1, 2011: FCCJ Book Break on IN APPROPRIATE, June 28, 2011
… and finally…
26) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column July 5, 2011: “Lives such as Daniel’s deserve to be honored in these pages”
To take us through the holiday weekend (and shortly before I vacation this blog for the summer), let’s have a discussion about this article by Peter Tasker which achieved a prominent spot in a prominent policymakers’ magazine.
The article offers hope that Japan will rebuild. But it also cherry-picks economic statistics to show that Japan isn’t as bad economically as all that (he even dismisses the “Lost Decade(s)”; does Mr. Tasker get out of Tokyo much?). And, more oddly, he takes the opportunity of Japan’s worst postwar disaster to swipe at the “Revisionists” (the contrapose to the “Chrysanthemum Club”), particularly the late Chalmers Johnson. The C-Club, a group of scholars with great sway in US-Japan Relations for just about the entire Postwar Era, generally tends to explain away most of Japan’s disinclination to follow international rules and norms by citing their own conjured-up sacerdotal cultural oddities and esoterica (or, less charitably, “intellectual chicanery” and “uncritical apolog[ism] for Japan”). It preys on the fact that it knows more Japanese words and concepts than most Western readers do, and cites them even if they aren’t grounded in much. And woe betide any competing point of view to come in and spoil the US-Japan Relationship love-in.
True to form, in the best rewarmed Reishauer, Mr. Tasker acclaims the country’s “extraordinary social cohesion and stoicism” in the name of “social stability” and “national self-respect”, thanks to “mutual respect, not victory in competition”, and of course, “gaman” and “shimaguni konjo”. This overseas school of thought once again portrays poor, poor Japan as perpetually misunderstood by the West, not as a corporatist state that serves its citizenry at times pretty poorly and seeks little consent from its governed. As Japan’s per capita incomes keep dropping, people (particularly new employment market entrants) find themselves less able to advance or improve their lives, while the flaws of the state have come ever more into stark relief thanks to Fukushima.
For this time, Fukushima’s increasing radiation exposure is not something that can wait like a regular disaster (such as the slow recovery efforts after the Kobe Earthquake of 1995). Meanwhile, the ineffectual state keeps covering up information, shifting safety standards for radioactivity, and exposing more people and the international food chain to accumulating toxin. Yet it’s this much-vaunted public “stoicism” (as opposed to feelings of powerlessness and futility) that is precisely what will do people in. Mr. Tasker’s citing of the alleged common belief that “the janitor in your apartment building is not a representative of ‘the other’. He is you.” may be something the Japanese are being told to tell themselves (although I can’t find any sources for that), but I don’t believe this attitude is going to be a constructive source for recovery this time. Fukushima will, however, eventually become a source of “grand-mal victimization”, as a substitute for solution and revolution, as the malcontents who might do something will give up and/or just flee. We will quite possibly see an exodus (if there isn’t an unreported one going on already) of Japanese (which has happened periodically before during the other times Japan’s economic system broke down; hence the immigrant Japanese communities in places like South America, Hawaii, and California) from this system which quite simply cannot fix itself, and the people feel powerless to demand better even as they get slowly poisoned.
The difference this time is that the breakdown in the state is spreading toxins beyond its own borders, unabated four months later, with no end in sight. I wonder if Mr. Tasker would offer any revisions to his article now. But I doubt it. His politics come through pretty clearly below.
Finally, in contrapose to the media’s much vaunted “Japanese earthquake without looting” canard, I enclose at the very bottom two articles for the record substantiating ATM machine and convenience store theft in the earthquake areas. A friend also noted a Kyodo wire entitled “684 million yen stolen from ATMs in hardest-hit prefectures” that made the July 16 Japan Times but he says can’t be found archived anywhere. “Stoicism and social cohesion”? People are people. Shit happens and people react. Let’s not obfuscate this with cultural canards aiming at advancing the outdated politics and analytical rubric of the Chrysanthemum Club.
Table of Contents:
EXCLUSIONISM AND RACIAL PROFILING
1) “Japanese Only” bar in Kobe, “Soul Bar”, Nishinomiya Yamanote Doori. Advertises the music of people they would no doubt exclude
2) Rpl on Police Gaijin Card Check in Chitose Airport yesterday — with cops refusing to identify themselves and even getting physical
3) Exclusionary pottery shop in Doguyasuji, Osaka, refuses service to non-Asian NJ
4) Yomiuri: Muslims file suit over National Police Agency antiterror investigations
5) Fukushima Japanese refused service at hotels etc., plus famous excluder/embezzler Toyoko Inn up to old tricks; requires guests unlawfully sign waivers just to stay
6) Tangent: Historical comparison between contemporary social attitudes justifying racial discrimination in Japan and pre-Civil-War slavery in America
7) Foreign Minister Maehara resigns due to donations from a “foreigner” (a Zainichi, that is)
8 ) NCN: Stunning revelation from former prosecutor on the real situation of initial training, “We were taught that yakuza and foreigners have no rights”
9) GOJ says it will schedule joining Hague Convention on Child Abductions this month. Wowee. Why I doubt that’ll mean anything even if signed.
10) Chris Savoie wins US court award of $6.1 million against ex-wife for breach of contract, emotional distress, and false imprisonment of his children in Japan
11) Yomiuri: Govt eyes international human rights complaint framework, where domestic claimants can take their issue to the U.N.
12) AFP: Britain now supports Japan’s bid for UN Security Council seat: How eyeblinkingly blind of GOJ history re unfollowing international agreements.
13) Tangent: Kyodo: 2 men acquitted in retrial after serving nearly 30 years in prison
… and finally …
14) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column June 7, 2011: “‘English-speaking diaspora’ should unite, not backbite”
Here’s some news dovetailing with Japan’s unwillingness to abide by international treaty.
Japan, one of the United Nations’ largest financial contributors, has been pushing hard for decades now for a seat on the U.N. Security Council (last time in 2006), effectively to have a place at the table and more powerful voting rights with fellow big, rich, powerful nations. The GOJ has even signed treaties and created domestic laws, according to scholar John M. Peek (see below), just to make it look better internationally, i.e., more like a modern, responsible nation in the international arena. However, after signing these treaties, Japan has been quite constant in its unwillingness to actually create domestic laws to enforce international agreements (cf. the CERD), or when laws are created, they have little to no enforcement power (cf. the Equal Employment Opportunity Law, which has done little after more than a quarter century to ameliorate the wide disparity in wages between men and women in Japan).
The fact is, the GOJ does this stuff for window dressing. Now once it accomplishes its goal of getting an UNSC Seat, it will have no further incentive to sign, abide by, or obey international treaties at all. We have stated this to the United Nations at every opportunity.
Which is why Britain’s sudden turnaround to support Japan’s bid is so eye-blinkingly blind. It seems we are milking our disasters (partially caused by our government’s malfeasance in the first place) to get an international sympathy vote now. How cynical and opportunistic.
Read on for an excerpt of a research paper I wrote citing Dr. Peek above, regarding the GOJ’s history of insincere negotiations vis-a-vis international human-rights agreements. I believe Japan will similarly ratify yet unfollow the Hague Convention on Child Abductions as well. And not even bother to ratify much else once it gets on the UNSC.
There’s a debate going on between Debito.org Reader OG Steve and myself that is too good to leave buried in a Comments Section. It was occasioned by a recent blog entry about a sign, up at an outlet of bargain haircutter QB House in Tameike Sannou, Tokyo, requiring Japanese language ability for service. OG Steve made the point that he was happy to see an exclusionary sign up that proclaimed clear and present exclusionism (as opposed to the hedging wording of “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”), which in his view actually made discriminatory policies harder to stamp out. I disagreed, as in my view clear and present exclusionary policies, especially in the form of signs like these, encourages proliferation and copycatting, institutionalizes the discrimination, and further weakens civil society’s ability to take action against exclusionism. OG Steve replied that it makes the evidence and case clearer, and thus strengthens the hand of people who wish to take judicial action. I replied… well, read on. Then we’ll open the floor to discussion. It’s a worthy topic, so let’s have at it, and see if we can get some conclusive arguments from other Debito.org Readers as well.
Director’s Cut with excised text from published version and links to sources:
Top Five for 2010 (plus five honorable mentions):
5) RENHO BECOMES FIRST MULTIETHNIC CABINET MEMBER (June 8 )
4) P.M. KAN APOLOGIZES TO KOREA FOR 1910 ANNEXATION (August 10)
3) TOURIST VISAS EASED FOR CHINA (July 1)
2) NJ PR SUFFRAGE BILL GOES DOWN IN FLAMES (February 27)
1) THE DROP IN THE REGISTERED NJ POPULATION IN 2009
Top Five for 2000-2010 (plus five honorable mentions):
5) THE OTARU ONSENS CASE (1999-2005)
4) ISHIHARA’S SANGOKUJIN RANT (April 9, 2000)
3) THE SECOND KOIZUMI CABINET (2003-2005)
2) THE POLICE CRACKDOWNS ON NJ (1999- present)
1) THE DROP IN THE REGISTERED NJ POPULATION IN 2009
Table of Contents:
1) The 2010 Japan Census from October 1: Flash GOJ multilingual site explaining what it’s all about
2) Summer Tangent: DailyFinance.com on Japan’s generation-long economic stagnation leading to a lost generation of youth
3) Keishicho Kouhou on organized crime in Japan: Places NJ gangs in context for a change
4) Wash Post: “Strict immigration rules may threaten Japan’s future”, focus on nursing program
5) Thrice-convicted crooked Dietmember Suzuki Muneo gets his: Supreme Court rejects appeal, jail time looms
6) Kyodo: Japan to join The Hague Convention on Child Abduction. Uncertain when.
ACTIVISM ON BOTH SIDES
7) NYT: “New Dissent in Japan Is Loudly Anti-Foreign”
8 ) Success Story: Takamado English Speech Contest reform their “Japanese Only”, er, “Non-English Speakers Only” rules
9) Meeting with US Embassy Tokyo Sept 9, regarding State Dept. Country Reports on Human Rights
10) Asahi: Zaitokukai arrests: Rightist adult bullies of Zainichi schoolchildren being investigated
11) “The Cove” Taiji Dolphin protesters cancel local demo due to potential Rightist violence
12) Japan will apologize for Korean Annexation 100 years ago and give back some war spoils. Bravo.
13) Sendaiben digs deeper on those Narita Airport racially-profiling Instant NPA Checkpoints
14) M-Net Magazine publishes FRANCA March 2010 report to UN Rapporteur in Japanese
15) Economist.com summary of Amakudari system
16) Coleman Japan Inc. has instructions “For Japanese Consumers Only”
17) Discussion: “If you could change one thing about a society…”
… and finally …
18) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column: ‘Don’t blame JET for Japan’s bad English”
Yesterday three friends and I visited the US Embassy in Tokyo to discuss employment and other issues of discrimination in Japan. The consular official who received us, a Mr Thomas Whitney, kindly gave us 90 minutes to give as much information as we liked for consideration in the US State Department Country Reports on Human Rights, an annual report given by the USG on individual countries that has in past years included information on even the Otaru Onsens Case (thanks). What follows are the summaries provided in advance of what we would say. Here’s mine, since it’s shortest:
The Japanese Government (GOJ) has a history of not abiding by its treaty obligations. With “Japanese Only” signs and rules in businesses nationwide (despite unlawfulness under both the Japanese Constitution and the UN CERD) and clear and present inequality towards non-Japanese in both the workplace and in protections under the law, Japan still has no national law with penalties against racial discrimination. The GOJ continues to make arguments to the UN against adopting one (i.e., freedom of speech and the efficacy of the Japanese judiciary for redress), while abuses towards non-Japanese and ethnically-diverse Japanese worsen (e.g., new and overt examples of hate speech and xenophobia, racist statements by politicians and media, even targeting of naturalized citizens for suspicion and exclusion). The GOJ has had more than a decade (having effected the CERD in 1996) to make legislative attempts to rectify this system, and its negligence presents ill precedent for abiding under future treaty signings (such as the Hague Convention on Child Abductions). Friends must help friends break bad habits, and gentle international pressure to assist the GOJ under a new reformist administration move in the right direction is a good thing for all concerned.
NB: Since our focus was on employment issues, I cited my experiences with TADD and Ambassador Mondale back in 1995 (See Ivan Hall CARTELS OF THE MIND), and the systematic full-time contracting of NJ in academia as witnessed through the Blacklist of Japanese Universities. I also mentioned that the GOJ has constantly refused attempts to release hard numbers on how many NJ academics in Japan have contracts vs tenure compared to Japanese academics getting contracts vs tenure (see more on this Academic Apartheid here). I also tied everyone’s presentations at the end with a request for USG visits to the Ministries of Education and Labor (following on Mondale’s precedent), to express awareness of the problem and the desire for proper enforcement of existing labor laws (if not the creation of a law against racial discrimination). Finally, I gave Mr Whitney the FRANCA handouts I gave the United Nations last March regarding general issues of discrimination in Japan (here and here).
Table of Contents:
SPECIAL ON THE DPRK SPY KIM HYON HUI JAPAN VISIT: THE BIG CON
1) North Korean spy and terrorist skirts Immigration, gets to stay in Hatoyama summer home, due to Yokota Megumi Case
2) UPDATE: Additional thoughts on the DPRK Spy Kim Hyon Hui Japan Visit from a friend in the know
3) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Aug 3: Kim uses Japan’s “perpetual victimhood” to her advantage
OTHER BIG CONS
4) Japan’s Centenarians are missing: Registry systems that ignore NJ residents are also registering long-dead Japanese as alive
5) Kyodo: NJ crime down once again, but NPA spin says NJ crime gangs “increasingly” targeting Japan, whines about difficulty in statistically measuring NJ crime
6) More racism in NPA police posters, this time Kanagawa Ken Yamate police and big-nosed “int’l NJ crime groups”.
(UPDATE: Contrast with same Kanagawa Police site in English: “we patrol community hoping smiles of residents never vanish.” Retch.)
7) Shame on Berlitz Japan for its court harassments, firing teacher for having cancer
8 ) Yomiuri: New “lay judges” in J judiciary strict about demanding evidence from prosecutors, give ‘benefit of doubt’. Well, fancy that.
9) Economist London on Japan’s treatment of Chinese: Welcome tourist money, work “Trainees” to death
10) NYT has video and article on JITCO NJ “Trainee” Program, including sweatshop conditions and karoushi
11) Mainichi/Kyodo: J companies will boost hiring of NJ by 50%! Yeah, sure.
12) JIPI’s Sakanaka on Gaijin Tank detentions for visa overstays: Put a maximum time limit on them
13) Toyota QC and “culture” again, says it will increase safety by dealing with mechanical and cultural defects, with Japanese-only review panel
14) Asahi: South Korea, China overtaking Japan in ‘cool’ culture battle, whatever that means
15) AP and JT on “Soft Power” of JET Programme, projecting Japan’s influence abroad
16) IMADR Connect Mag: UN CERD concerns and recommendations 2010 for the GOJ; rinse and repeat
OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION
17) NJ population falls in 2009 for the first time since 1961
18) New separate blog with details about taking Japanese citizenship, in English, written by other fellow naturalized Japanese
19) Thoughts on GOJ Upper House Election July 11, 2010: A DPJ loss, but not a rout, regardless of what the media says.
20) Asahi editorial supports NJ PR Suffrage, published during election-period debates
21) AP: A Milestone For Russia: African-born Town Councilor Is Country’s 1st Black Elected To Office
22) Japan Times columnist CW Nicol (a whaling supporter) on why “The Cove’s” Taiji dolphin culls bother him
… and finally…
23) My Schofill family roots include Cherokee and lots of American South skeletons
SPECIAL ON THE UNITED NATIONS AND NGO FRANCA MARCH 2010 TOUR
UNITED NATIONS RAPPORTEUR BUSTAMANTE COMES TO TOWN MAR 23-31
1) UN CERD Recommendations to GOJ Mar 2010 CERD/C/JPN/CO/3-6, takes up our issues well
2) FRANCA meeting with UN Rep Bustamante yesterday: How it went, with photos
3) Table of Contents of FRANCA information folder to UN Rep Bustamante, Mar 23
4) Japan Times: UN Rep Bustamante meets Calderon Noriko, comments on GOJ harsh visa system that separates families
5) Assn of Korean Human Rights RYOM Munsong’s speech text to UN Rep Bustamante, Mar 23
6) Mar 31 UN Rep Bustamante’s Full Press Release on Japan’s Human Rights Record
7) Download audio podcast of UN Rep Bustamante Mar 31 press conference
MORE FRANCA WORKS, INCLUDING NGO JIPI INTERFACE
8 ) FRANCA Sendai Meeting Proceedings, Photos and Project Ideas
9) Mar 27 2010 NGO FRANCA Tokyo meeting minutes
10) NGO Japan Immigration Policy Institute requests information from, meetings with NJ Residents
11) March 29, 2010 FRANCA/JIPI speech on why Japan needs immigration: Download my powerpoint presentation (Japanese)
12) Going back: Japanese porkbarrel airports as “infrastructure in a vacuum”,
and how JR duped me into buying a train ticket to nowhere
… and finally …
13) Japan Times prints my speech to UN Rep Bustamante on “blind spot” re Japan immigrants
In light of all the above, the Japanese government’s stance towards the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is easily summarized: The Ainu, Ryukyuans and burakumin are citizens, therefore they don’t fall under the CERD because they are protected by the Japanese Constitution. However, the zainichis and newcomers are not citizens, therefore they don’t get protection from the CERD either. Thus, our government effectively argues, the CERD does not cover anyone in Japan.
Well, what about me? Or our children? Are there really no ethnic minorities with Japanese citizenship in Japan?
In conclusion, I would like to thank the U.N. for investigating our cases. On March 16, the CERD Committee issued some very welcome recommendations in its review. However, may I point out that the U.N. still made a glaring oversight.
During the committee’s questioning of Japan last Feb. 24 and 25, very little mention was made of the CERD’s “unenforcement” in Japan’s judiciary and criminal code. Furthermore, almost no mention was made of “Japanese only” signs, the most indefensible violations of the CERD.
Both Japan and the U.N. have a blind spot in how they perceive Japan’s minorities. Newcomers are never couched as residents of or immigrants to Japan, but rather as “foreign migrants.” The unconscious assumption seems to be that 1) foreign migrants have a temporary status in Japan, and 2) Japan has few ethnically diverse Japanese citizens.
Time for an update. Look at me. I am a Japanese. The government put me through a very rigorous and arbitrary test for naturalization, and I passed it. People like me are part of Japan’s future. When the U.N. makes their recommendations, please have them reflect how Japan must face up to its multicultural society. Please recognize us newcomers as a permanent part of the debate.
The Japanese government will not. It says little positive about us, and allows very nasty things to be said by our politicians, policymakers and police. It’s about time we all recognized the good that newcomers are doing for our home, Japan. Please help us.