Mar 27 2010 NGO FRANCA Tokyo meeting minutes

Here is an abridged version of the NGO FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association) minutes I sent out today, regarding our exceptional Tokyo meeting last night in International House, Roppongi. It was a full house, with fifteen attendees, four of whom became dues-paying members. People attending were from a variety of backgrounds, from corporate to techie to journalist to academic to relative newcomer.

We got a lot discussed. We had so many voices describing their experiences in Japan (from employment issues to bike and passport checks to child abductions to domestic politics) that it was difficult to get through my powerpoint! (I did, and you can download it revised at http://www.debito.org/FRANCA.ppt.

We added to the list of possible FRANCA future projects:

Two upcoming speeches, Sat eve FRANCA, Mon eve JIPI, both Tokyo

I would like to invite you to two more speeches, one Saturday evening, one Monday evening, both in Tokyo. The Saturday evening one will be a FRANCA meeting in the newly-refurbished International House in Roppongi, while the Monday evening one will be a JIPI speech in Japanese on why Japan needs immigration. Details as follows:

FRANCA meeting with UN Rep Bustamante yesterday: How it went, with photos

As you know, as representative of NGO FRANCA I met with Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Dr Jorge A. Bustamante on March 23, 2010. Here’s a briefing:

Starting from 9AM at one of the Diet Lower House meeting rooms, I sat in as Amnesty International Japan and Solidarity with Migrants Japan made their cases about how NJ are being treated badly by the media, the government, and labor policy. Dr Bustamante asked a lot of questions and wanted statistics, particularly about the death rates for migrant workers (we were all surprised; he said that in other developed countries those statistics were available at the government level, something inconceivable to us). After 45 minutes, he went off to meetings with GOJ officials.

We were supposed to meet again for another 45 minutes from 1PM, but Dr Bustamante arrived more than twenty minutes late. (This is a typical GOJ trick so the NGOs get less time; if NGOs go overtime, they become the object of criticism, but if the GOJ goes overtime, nobody complains but the NGOs.) A representative from the Zainichi Koreans, an academic from Korea University (Kodaira, Tokyo) named Mr RYOM Munsong, kept his speech to 12 minutes, I kept mine to twelve as well (we had timers), and mixed our powerpoint with movie and speech.

As far as I went, I was able to squeeze in my full introduction and two of my five bullet issues, then had to skip to the end with the entreaty to not see NJ as “temporary migrant workers” but “immigrants” (read entire speech here). But I was very disappointed that we had virtually no time for Q&A (Dr Bustamante looked tired), and that all that preparation was cut short because we were keeping our promises with the scheduling and the GOJ was not.

Some photos from the proceedings:

FRANCA Sendai Meeting Proceedings, Photos and Project Ideas

We had a NGO FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association) meeting last Sunday in Sendai. We’ll be having another one this coming Saturday evening in Tokyo, so if you like what you read below, please consider coming to our meeting and joining our group. FRANCA Chair Arudou Debito gave a presentation on what FRANCA is and what it’s doing. (You can download that presentation at http://www.debito.org/FRANCA.ppt). What follows are some photos and minutes of the meeting.

Table of Contents of FRANCA information folder to UN Spec. Rapporteur Bustamante, Mar 23. Last call for submissions from Debito.org Readers.

What follows is the Table of Contents for an information packet I will be presenting Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Jorge A. Bustamante, who will be visiting Japan and holding hearings on the state of discrimination in Japan. Presented on behalf of our NGO FRANCA (Sendai and Tokyo meetings on Sun Mar 21 and Sat Mar 27 respectively).

It’s a hefty packet of about 500 pages printed off or so, but I will keep a couple of pockets at the back for Debito.org Readers who would like to submit something about discrimination in Japan they think the UN should hear. It can be anonymous, but better would be people who provide contact details about themselves.

Last call for that. Two pages A4 front and back, max (play with the fonts and margins if you like). Please send to debito@debito.org by NOON JST Thursday March 18, so I can print it on my laser printer and slip it in the back.

Here’s what I’ll be giving as part of an information pack. I haven’t written my 20-minute presentation for March 23 yet, but thanks for all your feedback on that last week, everyone…

FRANCA MEETINGS SENDAI Sun Mar 21, TOKYO Sat Mar 27

FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association), an NGO founded last year and registered with the Japanese government to look out for the interests of long-term NJ and naturalized Japanese, will be having two meetings this month.

FRANCA Sendai Meeting Sunday, March 21, 2010, 1:30-4:30PM. Place: AER Building next to Sendai station (El Solar Meeting Room 1, 28F), from 13:30 to 16:30. Please attend and bring a friend or the family! More details and contacts at FRANCA Sendai

FRANCA Tokyo Meeting Saturday March 27, 2010; 6PM-9PM International House of Japan 5-11-16 Roppongi Minato-ku, Tokyo Meeting Name – FRANCA How to get there at http://www.i-house.or.jp/en/ihj/access.html

Please consider attending and finding out more about what we can do for each other. I’ll be giving a presentation on what FRANCA is, what it’s done so far, and what we could have it do in future with your help.

Just heard: NGO FRANCA and I will be meeting with UN Special Rapporteur Jorge Bustamante March 23, Tokyo. Anything you want me to say or give him?

I just heard yesterday from NGOs concerned with human rights in Japan that I will be part of a group meeting with Mr Jorge Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, on March 23 in Tokyo.

I will have twenty minutes to make a presentation regarding exclusions of NJ in Japan in violation of UN CERD treaty.

Is there anything you’d like me to say? I already have some ideas here (see Chapter 2). But I’m open to suggestions and feedback. If there is anything you would like me to present him, please send me at debito@debito.org. Please keep submissions concise, under 2 sides of A4 paper (meaning one sheet front and back) when formatted and printed.

To give you some idea of format, I’ve given presentations to UN Rapporteurs before, particularly Dr Doudou Diene back in 2005 and 2006. The archive on that here.

I will of course make the case that the GOJ is being intransigent and unreflective of reality when asserts, again and again, that Japan does not need a law against racial discrimination. And in violation of its international treaty promises.

The floor is open, everyone. Thanks very much for your assistance.

Arudou Debito, Chair, NGO Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (FRANCA)

McDonald’s Japan CR Director Kawaminami Junichi responds to FRANCA

NPO FRANCA received this morning a response from McDonald’s Japan Director of Corporate Relations, a Mr Kawaminami Junichi, regarding our protest letters in English and Japanese on the “Mr James” sales campaign.

I appreciate him taking time to respond, but he toes the line he narrated to various world media stressing the lack of intention to offend, again without discussing any of the possible ill-effects to NJ residents from stereotyping.

He also only answered in English, wish is a bit of a disappointment. I presume he doesn’t want the discussion to expand to the Japanese debate arenas. Letter follows below.

Meanwhile, I have devoted my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column to the “Mr James” phenomenon and what it might mean, with a historical context. Out Tuesday, September 1, get a copy!

South China Morning Post on McDonald’s Japan “Mr James” Campaign, quotes FRANCA

“McDonald’s has obviously put a lot of money into this campaign as there are full-length posters and banners in every restaurant that I see as well as by the side of roads here, and the company is apparently not concerned that they are offending people and hope we continue to buy their burgers,” Franca chairman Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese born in the United States, said.

“This is untenable in a Japan with ethnic minority residents,” he said. “They are being ill-portrayed by this stereotype and their lives may be affected by this careless campaign by one of the world’s most influential multinational companies.”

McDonald’s Japan confirmed that it had received complaints about the campaign and said it was examining the matter. Similar complaints to its US headquarters have been referred back to the Japanese firm.

“What really angers me is that no one involved in the process here thought that anyone would take offence to see a caricature such as this advertising their company,” Mr Arudou said. “Can you imagine the outrage there would be in the US or any other country if a restaurant chain used an image of a Japanese man with big, round glasses, buck teeth, geta sandals and a kimono telling people to `buy flied lice, is velly good! “That’s the sort of thing that gets embassies and global human rights’ groups angry and involved,” he said.

McDonald’s “Mr James” Campaign: FRANCA’s downloadable protest letter in Japanese

Here is the Japanese translation for FRANCA letter protesting the “Mr James” burger campaign currently underway at McDonald’s Japan. You can see the original English here.

Please feel free to copy and send this letter to McDonald’s yourself via their feedback inlets on their website. Better yet, take it to your local McDonald’s doing this campaign, ask for the manager, and hand them this letter to express your disgruntlement. You can download the Word version of it here:

http://www.debito.org/FRANCAMrJamesJpublic.doc
Please also consider not buying food at McDonald’s for the duration of this (three-month) campaign. Maybe tell the manager that when you submit your letter.

Talked to the media yesterday. An article on this issue should be appearing in the South China Morning Post tomorrow (Friday). It’s already appeared on Consumerist.com…

FRANCA protest letter to McDonald’s USA HQ re “Mr James” Campaign

To McDonald’s USA corporate headquarters:

To Whom It May Concern:

We write to you on behalf of FRANCA, a human rights group concerned with the rights of non-Japanese residents in Japan. Our goals are: 1) To eliminate negative public images and stereotypes of non-Japanese and multi-cultural Japanese; 2) To eliminate discrimination by race, nationality, ethnicity, and national origin; 3) To highlight the benefits of immigration and a multi-cultural society. FRANCA works to achieve these goals through sustainable and effective lobbying, networking and public relations campaigns aimed at educating the public. More about us at www.francajapan.org.

We wish to bring to your attention a sales campaign launched this month by McDonald’s Japan that we find extremely problematic.

The “Mr. James” character, representing the “Nippon All Stars” hamburger campaign, features a spectacled Caucasian narrating his love for Japan and Japan’s version of McDonald’s’ hamburgers. Our association finds the following things problematic:

NYT: Dr. Sacko, Kyoto Seika University’s African-Born President, claims no experience of racism in Japan. Just of “being treated differently because he doesn’t look Japanese”. Huh?

People in Japan are still accepting the antiquated notion of “race” as an abstract, biological concept. As opposed to a socially-constructed one that differs from society to society in its definitions and enforcement, or as a performative one that is created through the process of “differentiation”, “othering”, and subordination. So strong is this centuries-old belief that even Mali-born naturalized Japanese Dr. Oussouby Sacko, recently-elected president of Kyoto Seika University (congratulations!), made the bold statement in the New York Times that his differential treatment in Japan is not due to racism: “Dr. Sacko, a citizen of Japan for 16 years, says he is treated differently because he does not look Japanese. But he distinguished that from racism. ‘It’s not because you’re black,’ he said.”

Sorry, that’s not now modern definitions of racism work anymore, Dr. Sacko. Differential treatment of Visible Minorities in Japan is still a racialization process.  But I guess anyone can succumb to the predominant “Japan is not racist” groupthink if it is that strong.  Read the NYT article below for fuller context. But the questions remain:  Is this a form of Stockholm Syndrome?  A cynical attempt to parrot the narrative for the sake of professional advancement?  A lack of awareness and social-science training on the part of a person, despite fluency in several languages, with a doctorate in a non-social science (engineering/architecture)?  I’m open to suggestion.  Especially from Dr. Sacko himself, if he’s reading.

In any case, congratulations, Dr. Sacko.  But I would suggest you utilize your position also to raise awareness about the very real issues of racism in Japan, not attempt a mitigating or denialist approach.  

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 1, 2016

Table of Contents:
GOOD NEWS
1) Out in Paperback: Textbook “Embedded Racism” (Lexington Books) July 2016 in time for Fall Semester classes: $49.99
2) April 15, 1996: Twenty years of Debito.org. And counting.
3) Debito’s latest publication in the Washington University Global Studies Law Review (Vol.14, No.4)

QUESTIONABLE ECONOMICS
4) Terrie Lloyd on why Abenomics is a “failure”: lack of essential structural reforms
5) Kyodo: Kyoto taxis specializing in foreign tourists begin one-year trial. Separate taxi stands? What’s next: separate hotels?
6) Stigmatization thru “foreign driver stickers”: First Okinawa, now Hokkaido (Mainichi Shinbun)
7) JT Interview: Tokyo 2020 Olympics CEO Mutou picks on Rio 2016, arrogantly cites “safe Japan” mantra vs international terrorism
8 ) Nate Nossal essay on how free enterprise and small-business establishment in Japan is stifled

DIRTY ROTTEN POLITICS
9) Reuters: Japan eyes more foreign workers, stealthily challenging immigration taboo
10) MOJ: Japan sees record registered foreign residents, 2.23 million in 2015; but watch J media once again underscore their criminality
11) Onur on continued racial profiling at Japanese hotel check-ins: Discrimination is even coin-operated!
12) Onur update: Ibaraki Pref. Police lying on posters requiring hotels to inspect and photocopy all foreign passports; gets police to change their posters!
13) NHK: NJ arrested by Saitama Police for “not having passport”, despite being underage and, uh, not actually legally required to carry a passport
14) JT: Abe Cabinet says JCP promoting ‘violent revolution,’ subject to Anti-Subversive Activities Law; now, how about violent Rightists?
15) Economist: United Nations fails to stick up for the rights of Imperial female succession, drops issue as a “distraction” from report
16) Reuters: Death toll mounts in Japanese Detention Centers (aka “Gaijin Tanks”) as NJ seek asylum and are indefinitely detained and drugged
17) Roger Schreffler: Fukushima Official Disaster Report E/J translation differences: Blaming “Japanese culture” an “invention” of PR manager Kurokawa Kiyoshi, not in Japanese version (which references TEPCO’s corporate culture) (UPDATED)

… and finally…
18) Japan Times JBC 97 May 2, 2016 excerpt: “Enjoy your life in Japan, for the moments”

April 15, 1996: Twenty years of Debito.org. And counting.

As of today (JST), Debito.org has been in action for twenty years. That means two decades of archiving issues of life and human rights in Japan.

After starting out as an archive of my writings as Dave Aldwinckle on the Dead Fukuzawa Society, Debito.org soon expanded into an award-winning website, cited by venerable institutions and publications worldwide, taking on various contentious topics. These have included Academic Apartheid in Japan’s Universities, The Gwen Gallagher Case, The Blacklist (and Greenlist) of Japanese Universities, The Community in Japan, The Otaru Onsens Case, the Debito.org Activists’ Page and Residents’ Page, book “Japanese Only” in two languages, the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments (which became the basis of my doctoral fieldwork), racism endemic to the National Police Agency and its official policies encouraging public racial profiling, the “What to Do If…” artery site, our “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants to Japan” (now in its 3rd Edition), the overpolicing of Japanese society during international events, the reinstitution of fingerprinting of NJ only at the border, the establishment of the Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (FRANCA), the 3/11 multiple disasters and the media scapegoating of foreign residents (as “flyjin”), the archive of Japan Times articles (2002- ) which blossomed into the regular JUST BE CAUSE column (2008- ), and now the acclaimed academic book, “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books 2016).

I just wanted to mark the occasion with a brief post of commemoration. Thank you everyone for reading and contributing to Debito.org! Long may we continue. Please leave a comment as to which parts of Debito.org you’ve found helpful!

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 49: “Japan’s revolving-door immigration policy hard-wired to fail”

Japan Times: Last December, the Japanese government announced that a new visa regime with a “points system” would be introduced this spring.

It is designed to attract 2,000 non-Japanese (NJ) with a “high degree of capability” (kōdo jinzai), meaning people with high salaries, impeccable educational and vocational pedigrees, specialized technical knowledge and excellent managerial/administrative skills.

Those lucky foreign millionaire Ph.Ds beating a path to this land of opportunity would get preferential visa treatment: five-year visas, fast-tracking to permanent residency, work status for spouses — even visas to bring their parents and “hired housekeepers” along.

Sweet. But then comes the fine print: You must get 70 points on the Justice Ministry’s qualifying scale (see www.moj.go.jp/content/000083223.pdf) And it’s tough, really tough. Take the test and see if you qualify (I don’t). Symptomatic of decisions by committee, it’s a salad of idealized preferences without regard for real-world application. There’s even a funny sliding scale where you get more points the longer you’ve worked, yet fewer points the older you get.

Interesting is how low Japanese language ability is weighted: only 10 points — in a “bonus” category. One would have assumed that people communicative in Japan’s lingua franca would be highly prized (especially when the call for kōdo jinzai is in Japanese only).

However, I would argue the opposite: Crowds of NJ completely fluent in Japanese are exactly what the government does not want. Visa regimes with illiterate foreigners facing insurmountable hurdles are what maintain Japan’s revolving-door labor market.

For example, consider 2008’s visa program to import elderly-care nurses from the Philippines and Indonesia…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 5, 2012

Table of Contents:
HISTORICAL WRONGS, ABERRATIONS, AND AMNESIA
1) Levin: J citizens of empire stripped of Japanese nationality in 1952, made into Zainichi by bureaucratic fiat — by a simple MOJ office circular (kairan)!
2) Mainichi and JT: Nagoya mayor Kawamura repeatedly denies Nanjing Massacre, joins ranks of revisionist J politicians
3) Mainichi/Kyodo: NJ crime down again, but once again only reported in English and apparently not in J Mainichi, Asahi, Yomiuri, or Sankei
4) Mainichi: NHK Press publishes book about NJ “underground reality” (e.g., prostitution, fake marriages and citizenships, profiteering). Contrast with interview with freewheeling cannibal Sagawa Issei.

BLOWBACK
5) Yomiuri: Language hurdle trips up Indonesian nurses in 4-year-old GOJ EPA program, and they’re leaving. By design, methinks.
6) Asahi: Registered NJ population drops again in 2010, GOJ to institute policy of “points system” for future NJ visas this Spring
7) Mainichi: NJ held by immigration sharply down after reviewing rules
8 ) Jeff Smith on Yahoo Japan auctioneer denying foreign bidders, and what he did about it

… and finally…
9) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column #48: “These are a few of my favorite things about Japan”, Feb. 7, 2012

Vacationing Debito.org for the summer, my next JT column Aug 2 on “why it’s difficult to make long-term J friends as a NJ resident”

It’s that time of the year again (perfect Hokkaido summer!), and it’ll soon be time for me to jump on the bike and do the rounds. I’ll be vacationing the blog for a little while (meaning comments will take some time to be approved; please be patient). I will be back from time to time, with JT articles and podcasts, but barring natural disasters like last March’s we won’t be updating daily. It’s just too nice outside and life’s too short.

Let me just mention that my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column will be a fat one (1400 words) on something we discussed here on Debito.org some weeks ago — why so many NJ long-termers seem to find it hard to find long term Japanese friends (particularly male ones). That will be out Tuesday August 2, so enjoy!

Association for Psychological Science paper: “Ironic effects of anti-prejudice messages”; claims programs to decrease prejudices may actually increase if the prejudiced people feel they are having negative ideology forced upon them.

Paper: Organizations and programs have been set up all over the globe in the hopes of urging people to end prejudice. According to a research article, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, such programs may actually increase prejudices.

Lisa Legault, Jennifer Gutsell and Michael Inzlicht, from the University of Toronto Scarborough, were interested in exploring how one’s everyday environment influences people’s motivation toward prejudice reduction…

The authors suggest that when interventions eliminate people’s freedom to value diversity on their own terms, they may actually be creating hostility toward the targets of prejudice.

According to Dr. Legault, “Controlling prejudice reduction practices are tempting because they are quick and easy to implement. They tell people how they should think and behave and stress the negative consequences of failing to think and behave in desirable ways.” Legault continues, “But people need to feel that they are freely choosing to be nonprejudiced, rather than having it forced upon them.”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 18, 2011

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

PODCASTS
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”

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.

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.

Zaitokukai Neonazis march in Tokyo Shibuya July 9, 2011, with ugly invective

Once again we have the Zaitokukai demonstrating in Shibuya last Saturday, once again blurring the line between freedom of speech and the expression of racist hate speech. As hate speech in Japan is not an illegal activity (and a debate with our Resident Gaijin Handler last April had him making contrary yet ultimately unsubstantiated claims; let me head him off at the pass here), this will continue, and quite possibly continue to legitimize and foment, public expressions of xenophobia in Japan, and the perpetual unappreciation of NJ as residents, taxpayers, and mere human beings. Here’s the video, and here’s another video with them getting violent towards somebody, date and more details unclear. Very ugly stuff. And it will continue, if not get worse, until hate speech and the concomitant violence is made illegal.

PODCAST: NPR All Things Considered on Brooklynite Anthony Bianchi’s election to Inuyama City Council, April 30, 2003

NPR ON BROOKLYNITE ANTHONY BIANCHI’S ELECTION TO INUYAMA CITY COUNCIL, broadcast on National Public Radio April 30, 2003. Writeup from NPR:

“NPR’s Melissa Block talks with Tony Bianchi, a Brooklyn native who was elected to the Inuyama city council in Japan last Sunday, about his campaign and its outcome. Bianchi is a naturalized Japanese citizen and the first person of North American origin ever to be elected to public office in Japan.”

Duration 4 minutes 15 seconds. Enjoy!
[display_podcast]

PODCAST: NPR All Things Considered on Arudou Debito’s naturalization July 3, 2003

ARUDOU DEBITO ON JAPANESE NATURALIZATION. Writeup from NPR’s “All Things Considered” program:

“NPR’s Eric Weiner tells the story of David Aldwinckle, a New York native who has taken the rare step of becoming a citizen of Japan. An outspoken man, David Aldwinckle rejects the notion that there’s one Japanese way of doing anything — an attitude that gets him into trouble sometimes. Yet he was able to get through the rigorous process of securing Japanese citizenship.”

Duration 4 minutes 45 seconds, broadcast on National Public Radio July 3, 2003. Enjoy!

PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 28 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on naturalizing and name changes in Japan (part 3 of 3)

ARUDOU DEBITO ON CHOOSING A JAPANESE NAME. Writeup from KQED-FM, San Francisco NPR:

“Pacific Time correspondent Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan, gives the last of three talks on the why and how of the process he underwent as a Caucasian American to become a citizen of Japan, and discusses the complex process of choosing a legally mandatory Japanese name.”

Duration three minutes, broadcast on KQED-FM’s Pacific Time weekly radio segment December 28, 2000. (NB: They cut off my bad pun at the end of my essay: “It’s the game of the name.”)
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PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 21 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on J naturalization process (part 2 of 3)

ARUDOU DEBITO ON JAPANESE NATURALIZATION PROCESS. Writeup from KQED-FM, San Francisco NPR:

“Pacific Time correspondent Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan, gives the second of three talks on the why and how of the process he underwent as a Caucasian American to become a naturalized Japanese citizen.”

Duration three minutes, broadcast on KQED-FM’s Pacific Time weekly radio segment December 21, 2000.

This is a time capsule of attitudes a decade ago, mere weeks after becoming a Japanese citizen, part two of three.
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PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 14 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on naturalizing in Japan (part 1 of 3)

ARUDOU DEBITO ON JAPANESE NATURALIZATION PROCESS.  Writeup from KQED-FM, San Francisco NPR:

“Pacific Time correspondent Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan, gives the first of three talks on the why and how of the process he underwent as a Caucasian American to become a naturalized Japanese citizen.”

Duration four minutes, broadcast on KQED-FM’s Pacific Time weekly radio segment December 14, 2000.

This is a time capsule of attitudes a decade ago, mere weeks after becoming a Japanese citizen, part one of three.  Enjoy.
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BV inter alia on J bureaucrat exclusionary attitudes when registering his newborn multicultural child at Shibuya Kuyakusho

BV’s crie du coeur: A few weeks ago my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Not a “half” (I am British, my wife is Japanese) but a “full” person we hope will have a wonderful bicultural future. I felt encouraged when my Japanese father-in -law, who is in his 70s, beamed at her and me and said “nice mikksu!” …

But when my wife broached the subject of [our daughter’s] dual nationality with the [Shibuya Ward Office] official, the tone turned hard.

“No, she can only be registered in your name.” What about her dual nationality “No, she has no dual nationality. She is Japanese.”

Until this point, I could understand the position of the official. Not support it, but I could see the point of view. We need as many new kids as possible. This is Japan. We think she is Japanese. But it was the following elements that really angered my wife:

But as the father is English, doesn’t she get a choice? she asked.

“No, she is Japanese. This is not like America, you know, where anyone can get nationality just by being born there,” the bureaucrat spat out, obviously scornfully.

“This is JAPAN. She has Japanese blood. She is Japanese.” (My emphasis, but I could hear the horrible little person on the other end of the phone…)

Wife: But can’t she choose later?

“No, she is Japanese!”

My wife shouted down the phone to the effect of: “How dare you tell me my daughter’s business? She can be Japanese or English, or both if she wants, because she can keep both passports.”

She cut the phone and looked at me. She said: “The Japanese system is broken.”

DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JULY 1, 2011: FCCJ Book Break on IN APPROPRIATE, June 28, 2011

In this podcast: Book Break at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan on my new book “IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan”. June 28, 2011, Tokyo Yurakucho, with a large discussion on child abductions after divorce in Japan.

The presentation and Q&A in its entirety. 1 hour 20 minutes. No cuts. Enjoy!
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Mark Austin reports that Otaru, site of the famous onsen lawsuit, still has a “Japanese Only” establishment, “Monika”

Mark Austin: On Monday evening, after I’d visited the onsen at the Dormy Inn, where I was staying, I asked a receptionist at the hotel if she could recommend a pub or bar where I could have a beer and something to eat. She pointed me in the direction of the area west of the railway. I walked there and found loads of “snack” bars, which I didn’t want to enter. Then I found Monika and was told by a Mr. XXXXX that I wasn’t welcome there.

I pointed out to Mr. XXXXX (in Japanese) that his refusal to serve me constituted racial discrimination (I used the phrase “jinshu sabetsu”) and he agreed that it was, and defended this by merely saying, “Ma, sho ga nai.”

After about 10 minutes, I gave up (politely) arguing with Mr. XXXXX and left…

As an employee of the Otaru Tourism Association, I’m sure you’ll agree that your job description is to try to boost the local economy as much as possible by advertising the many attractions of Otaru, a beautiful city with a rich history in which foreigners played an important part from the late 19th century, to Japanese and non-Japanese people alike. In Otaru, foreigners (residents and tourists) and Japanese spend the same currency–yen. Is it asking too much that we be treated the same, as far as possible?

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column July 5, 2011: “Lives such as Daniel’s deserve to be honored in these pages”

One problem with our NJ brethren who leave us — through returning to their native countries, finding opportunities elsewhere, or, in Daniel’s case, death — is the disappearance of institutional memory. With a constant recycling of people, we as a community often know little of what happened before us, and have to start again from scratch.

That is the ultimate disempowerment: the ability to erase someone’s life work by not recognizing it.

This is why, at least in the case of death, we have an obligation to honor and remember NJ lives and efforts. Otherwise what is the point of making those efforts in the first place?

So let me propose a corrective measure: obituaries in The Japan Times. We should offer, say, a “Legacy Corner,” where someone who knew a recently deceased NJ of note well can submit a eulogy for possible publication. This way a print record remains of what they contributed to Japan and to us.

Many overseas newspapers, including The Guardian, already have this system in place. So should the JT…

Quoted in Asia Weekly: “Falling birthrate, rising life expectancy afflict Japan”

China Daily/Asia Weekly: An obvious concern is whether fewer tax-paying workers will be able to support more benefit-claiming retirees. Japan’s healthy personal savings may help in that regard. A more human question is, “Who will provide the daily care the elderly require?”…

In 2010, of the 257 Filipinos who took the [qualifying exam to become a healthcare worker in Japan], only one passed. The success rate for Filipinos and Indonesians over the first two years of the program was also less than 1 percent, prompting some to regard the exam as a contrivance designed to restrict foreign professionals’ period of stay.

“Japan has long maintained a tacit revolving-door policy for migrant labor,” says Arudou Debito, a naturalized- Japanese human-rights activist and researcher on internationalization.

“The Japanese government imports cheap young workers during their most productive labor years, but under short-term work visa regimes to ensure they don’t settle here. In that sense, what is happening to the caregivers and nurses is completely within character.”

My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out tomorrow, Tues July 5, on the ignored legacies of NJ in Japan and what to do about them.

Just a quick note to let you know that tomorrow sees my 41st Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column, this time another segment on how NJ can help themselves in the face of perpetual disempowerment in Japanese society.

A friend of mine died last May, and it came as a shock just how fast and without fanfare he disappeared from the face of the Earth (or rather, from Japanese society). One of the problems with NJ status is that once they leave (in this case, by death), their institutionalized memory often winks out. I propose a very simple way the Japan Times could help prevent this. A simple column for a change with a point that needed to be said sometime, so why not now. Have a read!

UPDATE: Here it is: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110705ad.html Up for commentary tomorrow.

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

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

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

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

Joel Legendre-Koizumi on the J media’s blackout on PM Kan’s proposals

JLK, on PM Kan June 28, 2011 press conference: Unbelievable! Most questions were mere bullying and nothing concrete. Except the Mainichi and two free lance reporters the rest was on a hunt on the chief of the government. Media played themselves the Nagatacho’s game. I was shocked to see that the only of the 2 good questions asked to PM Kan was by Mr. Shimada, a free lance reporter. A good validated comment and question about actions since and after the triple catastrophes (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear contamination) and how Japan’s social aspect has changed since 3/11 and the implications in actions and behaviors of the society. Kan started to answer on his philosophy and his expectation regarding Japanese population and I really noticed he was continuing explaining and elaborating his ruling concrete plan. Fabulous. But then NHK TV suddenly cut the answers of Prime Minister Kan… very articulated ones. He offered a vision of the present and the future after these exceptional disaster circumstances, I was astonished by Kan’s words.

So now, it’s clear. One knows one cannot truly rely on kisha clubs press releases. Luckily but minor impact, Kan’s comment is available on the web page of the Kantei. Now !! Why on earth do the media shut up the prime minister when he is presenting the most important policy speech of reconstruction after Japan chaos of March 11? Would the US cut B. Obama at a major speech? Would France cut N. Sarkozy live talks on such issues? During a press conf?…

Reuters Expose: Japan’s ‘throwaway’ nuclear workers, including NJ “temporary temps”

Here is a deep article from Reuters this month on how deep the rot goes in Japan’s labor market and safety practices regarding nuclear power. It’s germane to Debito.org because even NJ workers have been hired and exposed to radiation in Japan — without proper recordkeeping. Guess that’s one of the advantages of utilizing NJ laborers — they are the “temp temps” (my term) that escape any official scrutiny because imported labor “sent home” after use is somebody else’s problem.

Reuters: [I]n 1997, the effort to save the 21-year-old [Fukushima] reactor from being scrapped at a large loss to its operator, Tokyo Electric, also included a quiet effort to skirt Japan’s safety rules: foreign workers were brought in for the most dangerous jobs, a manager of the project said.

“It’s not well known, but I know what happened,” Kazunori Fujii, who managed part of the shroud replacement in 1997, told Reuters. “What we did would not have been allowed under Japanese safety standards.”

The previously undisclosed hiring of welders from the United States and Southeast Asia underscores the way Tokyo Electric, a powerful monopoly with deep political connections in Japan, outsourced its riskiest work and developed a lax safety culture in the years leading to the Fukushima disaster, experts say…

At Fukushima in 1997, Japanese safety rules were applied in a way that set very low radiation exposure limits on a daily basis, Fujii said. That was a prudent step, safety experts say, but it severely limited what Japanese workers could do on a single shift and increased costs.

The workaround was to bring in foreign workers who would absorb a full-year’s allowable dose of radiation of between 20 millisieverts and 25 millisieverts in just a few days…

It is not clear if the radiation doses for the foreign workers were recorded on an individual basis or if they have faced any heath problems. Tepco said it had no access to the worker records kept by its subcontractors. IHI said it had no record of the hiring of the foreign workers. Toshiba, another major contractor, also said it could not confirm that foreign workers were hired.

2011’s annual GOJ Spot the Illegal Alien campaign enlists Tokyo Metro, deputizes general public with posters of cute and compliant NJ

It’s that time of the year again, when the GOJ has its monthlong campaign to enlist the general public in spotting illegal aliens. Just to make sure that anyone can feel empowered to do Immigration’s job to spot check a NJ’s Gaijin Card (when, according to the Gaitouhou, only officials given policing powers by the MOJ are empowered to demand this form of ID), here we have a poster in a public place, issued by Tokyo Metro, with all sorts of cutesy NJ happily complying with the rigmarole. After all, the small print notes that that these NJ are causing “all kinds of problems” (well, at least they’re being less demonized this time; making them well dressed and cute was a nice touch). And also after all, the slogan is “ru-ru o mamotte kokusaika” (internationalization done by the rules); which is fine, except it would be nice if the police followed their own rules regarding enforcement of Gaijin Card checks. Poster follows, received June 23, 2011.

M.G. “Bucky” Sheftall academic paper on “Shattered Gods” and the dying mythology of “Japaneseness”

What follows (and will take us up through the weekend) is an academic paper that changed my world view about Japan earlier this year. Written by friend M.G. “Bucky” Sheftall, and presented at the Association of Asian Studies annual convention in Honolulu, Hawaii, on April 3, 2011, it talks about how Japan’s culture is dysfunctional and, put more metaphysically, unable to fill the need of a people to “deny death”. This will on the surface be difficult to wrap one’s head around, so read on, open the mind wide, and take it all in. Reprinted here with permission of the author and revised specially for Debito.org. Concentrate. It’s like a dense episode of the X-Files. And it will raise fundamental questions in your mind about whether it’s worth one’s lifetime doing service to and learning about a dying system, which is ascriptive and exclusionary in nature, yet essentially serving nobody.

Sheftall: In a single paragraph of brutal candor, Richie verbalized a certain metaphysical malaise in the Japanese condition that I had been vaguely aware of since arriving in the country in 1987. Outside of the jeremiads and diatribes of right-wing pundits, this metaphysical malaise (or lacuna, as I have referred to it above) is generally kept politely hidden – like an embarrassing family secret jealously protected – although I had caught many glimpses and snippets of it here and there during my long years in Japan, most often and vividly in the sake-lubricated lamentations of older Japanese men (especially those old enough to remember life when the Meiji cosmology was still vibrant and functional). Moreover, it explained the grievously conflicted belief systems (i.e., torn between lingering loyalty to the Meiji cosmology vs. necessary adjustments to the undeniable realities of the postwar present) I had observed to more or less of a degree among virtually all of the Japanese war veteran subjects of my ethnographic project. My subjects had gradually revealed their lingering emotional turmoil over the collapse of the Meiji cosmology to me over our months and years of acquaintance with displays ranging from self-deprecating humor and passive resignation on some occasions, to painful and unrestrained expressions of profound grief, humiliation, and snarling hinekuri resentment on others. But it was not until I encountered Richie’s passage – which is worth quoting at length here – that I could really grasp the “pathology”, if you will, of this “metaphysical malaise”:

Richie: “In the decades following the war Japan has vastly improved in all ways but one. No substitute has ever been discovered for the certainty that this people enjoyed until the summer of 1945…Japan suffered a trauma that might be compared to that of the individual believer who suddenly finds himself an atheist. Japan lost its god, and the hole left by a vanished deity remains. The loss was not the emperor, a deity suddenly lost through his precipitate humanization. It was, however, everything for which he and his whole ordered, pre-war empire had stood. It was certainty itself that was lost. And this is something that the new post-war world could not replace”(120-121).

Tokyo Gov Ishihara bids for 2020 Olympics through earthquake sympathy vote; also calls for Japan to have nukes, military conscription, and military-led government

Okay, Tokyo, you asked for this when you revoted in this creep for a fourth term last April. Now not only is racist xenophobe and Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro using the Tohoku Earthquake (which he originally called “divine retribution for Japan’s egoism”) as sympathy fodder for a renewed Olympic bid, but also, according to ANN News, he is calling for Japan to have nuclear weapons (in order to be taken seriously on the world stage, comparing it to a Mah-Jong game), military conscription, and even a military government!

Well, in my view this was only a matter of time, especially since Ishihara, if he’s not just flat-out senile, is of a generation (the Showa Hitoketa) which venerates Japan’s military past without actually serving in the military and experiencing the horrors of the Pacific War. He’s basically a warrior of words. And, again, the Tokyo electorate keeps putting him in a place where he can use those words for great effect and audience. Including advocating siphoning off funds from disaster reconstruction for the purpose of circus.

Yomiuri: Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has expressed his intention to bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics… The message that Tokyo wants to host the 2020 Games as proof of Japan’s recovery from the catastrophic earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis–just as the 1964 Tokyo Olympics were symbolic of the nation’s rebuilding from the ashes of World War II–will likely be able to obtain empathy from many countries…

Nation must be united…

We realize the government must currently place top priority on securing funds to finance restoration and reconstruction projects from the March 11 disaster. But sooner or later the government will need to clarify its stance toward hosting the Olympics in this country.

The government should proactively study the feasibility of hosting the 2020 Games in tandem with such bodies as the Tokyo metropolitan government and Japanese Olympic Committee.

Bad social paradigms encouraging bad social science: UC Berkeley prof idiotically counts “flyjin” for H-Japan listserv

I have a real rib-tickler for you today. Here we have an academic employed at UC Berkeley trying to squeeze flawed data into an already flawed paradigm — not just that of “gaijin” [sic], but also of “flyjin” — as she goes around Tokyo counting NJ as if they were rare birds (or, rather, rarer birds, according to her presumptions under the rubric).

I raise this on Debito.org because it’s amazing how stupid concepts from Planet Japan somehow manage to entice apparently educated people elsewhere to follow suit, and… I’ll just stop commenting and let you read the rest:

H-JAPAN (E)
June 19, 2011
From: Dana Buntrock, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley

For those of you who have not yet returned to Japan since 3/11, it may be helpful to understand how significant the absence of “gaijin” is in the capital, a point noted more than once on this list.

I am using the term “gaijin” here to refer to racially differentiated (non-Asian) individuals, including those who appear to be from the Indian subcontinent. If mixed-race children were with a non-Asian parent, I counted them. I also counted one woman in a version of the headscarf worn by Moslem women, seen from behind, and her child (in a stroller), because the attire was clearly non-Japanese in nature. That is, I tended to err on the side of counting individuals as being foreign…

Adidas assesses the “history of poor treatment of migrant workers in Japan”, now monitoring JITCO in conjunction with other major overseas outsourcers

Supplementing yesterday’s report from Terrie Lloyd, concerning the aberrations from Japan’s addiction to underpaid NJ labor, Adidas (yes, the sports goods maker) suggests, as submitter Crustpunker says, “It is more or less common knowledge what goes on here regarding migrant workers I mean, ‘trainees’.”

Talk about an open secret. It only took about two decades for the GOJ to amend the laws, of course so Japan’s industry (not to mention overseas sourcers) got away with plenty while the going was good. Nevertheless, no doubt we’ll soon have laments in the Japanese media about how our industry must now suffer since either a) Japanese are underemployed, or b) Japanese industry is being hurt by NJ labor refusing to be exploited anymore. Sob away.

Adidas concludes: There is, regrettably, a history of poor treatment of migrant workers in Japan and it is not a situation which will change overnight, even with this new legislation. So we recognise that we have a role to play in improving the system for migrant workers. In collaboration with several other brands including Nike, Gap and Disney, the adidas Group has set up quarterly meetings with Japanese vendors, suppliers, government representatives and JITCO. Working together the brands are helping to bring more transparency to the Intern Training Programme and establish a standard for acceptable recruitment fees as well as offer capacity building and training on applying the immigration and labour laws.

Terrie’s Take on how Japanese companies are too “addicted” to cheap Chinese “Trainee” labor to hire unemployed Japanese

Received this this morning from Terrie Lloyd. Very much worth reading, as it shows the damage done by the market aberration (if you believe in free markets as the final arbiter of fairness) of holding labor costs artificially low — you get resistance to ever raising them again once business gets used to those costs as being “normal”. As wages and working conditions in Japan continue their race to the bottom, it seems that two decades of NJ “Trainee” near-slave and slave labor will come back to haunt the Japanese economy after all.

Terrie Lloyd: According to an article in the Japan Times on Thursday, quoting numbers from a Labor Ministry report released earlier in the week, there are now 2.02m people in Japan receiving welfare checks, more than any time since 1952. “Welfare” in Japan is apparently defined as financial assistance offered by the government to a household when its total income falls below the national minimum.

Presumably a big contributor to this record number of needy people has been the Great East Japan earthquake in March. The level of joblessness has soared to around 90% of employable survivors in the worst hit areas, and by the end of May about 110,000 were out of work and applying for the dole at various Hello Work offices in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures.

So, one would think that with this excess capacity of workers, many of whom are from the agricultural, fisheries, and manufacturing industries, juxtaposed with the phenomenon of disappearing Chinese trainee workers from factories around the same regions, less than half of whom are yet to return, that there would be a slew of local hirings to make up the shortfall. Certainly after the Chinese trainees fled the disaster areas, there were plenty of news reports of employers grumpily saying, “We can’t trust Chinese employees, next time we’ll hire locals.”

But are they following through with local hiring offers? Our guess is “not”.

The reason is because a Japanese breadwinner from Iwate on unemployment, or even welfare, can still receive 2-5 times more than the Chinese trainees do for the same jobs. The factory and farm operators may grizzle about their “unreliable” Chinese employees, but without this source of ultra-cheap labor, they have no way of being able to compete with the flood of goods and produce coming in from China itself. The fact is that thousands of small companies all over Japan are addicted to cheap trainee labor from China and elsewhere, and to go local they would soon go out of business….

Weekend Tangent: The euphoria of collective attack and parental alienation syndrome

As a Weekend Tangent, and a corollary to yesterday’s blog post about the debate on definitions of Domestic Violence in Japan, here is a discussion from a psychologist on what sort of person will probably be most likely to take advantage of “violence” that is not physically violent in nature: a bully, who uses collective attack and parental alienation as a means to extract revenge on a spouse. Under Japan’s increasingly blurry definitions of serious matters of violent behavior, this means that bullies will also be able to enlist the authorities’ help in carrying out their bullying.

Psychologist: The emotionally abusive bully who engages in mobbing (or parental alienation) revels in the excitement produced by their animosity. It produces a pleasurable buzz or rush in them. Westhues (2002) refers to this as “the euphoria of collective attack.”

Parental Alienation and Personality Disorders…

Child Abductions Issue: How Japan’s debate on defining “Domestic Violence”, the loophole in enforcing the Hague Treaty, is heading in the wrong direction

Here is a report from a Debito.org reader who translates how the debate on Domestic Violence in Japan (being cited as a reason to create loopholes in Japan’s enforcement of the upcoming signatory status with the Hague Treaty on Child Abductions) is being stretched to justify just about any negative behavior (including non-tactile acts) as “violent”. And note how the checklist of “violent” acts below approaches the issue with the woman as perpetual victim and the man as perpetrator. If accepted as the standard definition, imagine just how much further this will weaken the fathers’ position in any Japanese divorce negotiation.

NGO Sayasaya: Checklist for Women
Please check any of these if you have experienced them:

He sulks if I deviate in any way from what he has requested of me.
He quickly blames me whenever something goes wrong.
When I go out alone, he calls my cell phone regularly.
He is reluctant to associate with my friends and parents.
He is angry if I come home late…

Checklist for Men
Please check any of these if you have experienced them:

I have yelled at her.
I wish that she would only have eyes for me.
Sometimes I don’t answer her when she wants to talk to me.
While speaking with her, I have stood up and got close to her.
She has thought that I made fun of her…

Source: Dr. Numazaki Ichirou “Why Do men choose violence?”

According to Professor Numazaki, the producer of this list, a check mark next to even ONE item indicates a DV event. (For women who checked off one item, they have been a victim of DV and, for men, any checks indicate that that man was a perpetrator of DV.)

Asahi: NJ Nurse trainees leave Japan despite 1-year extension to taking qualifying test

The GOJ is trying to plug the leak of NJ trainee nurses leaving Japan despite their best efforts on the qualifying exam. But after all these years of insufficient institutional support, it’s too little, too late, and disorganized at that; according to the Asahi article below, morale is clearly low for them. Mayhaps the jig is up, and word is getting round at last that the NJ nurse training program was after all just another guise for a revolving-door labor force?

Asahi: Many Indonesian nurse trainees who failed their exams have returned home amid confusion over who would be allowed to stay for another year to retake the test.

The government decided to allow 68 of the 78 Indonesians who failed this year’s nursing exam to stay and take another exam next year. But 25 of the 91 Indonesians who took the exam in March have already left.

“I first heard about an extended stay some time ago, but I was not given any details,” said a woman in her 30s who failed the exam and left in April. “After all, I think we are not needed.”…

[Another] woman, who failed in the exam by a slight margin, knew she could be allowed to stay. But she said she has lost her enthusiasm to work in Japan because of a lack of support from the government.

Donald Keene prattles on about why he’s naturalizing in SAPIO, even takes a cheap shot at NJ

Here we have Donald Keene, our newest future Japanese naturalized citizen at age 88, prattling on in Sapio about how nice and wonderful Japanese society and culture is (citing things that happened a generation or two ago), and how he’s happy to become part of a culture so rich and able to regenerate itself after the tsunami (despite, he laments, the lack of domestic interest in Japanese culture by Japanese people; clearly in Donald’s world, culture makes the man).

This is all excusable as harmless personal preference and geriatric navel-gazing except, at the bottom of the first page, his cheap and ignorant swipe at non-Japanese (who, allegedly after coming here to make money, flee in the face of danger). Perhaps if he had had the same stake as younger people who live here full-time and languish in less elite jobs, he might understand better why some people didn’t stay in Japan, as I argued in this Japan Times column. No matter. (Oh, and we won’t deal with ongoing events and lies from Fukushima; criticism of Japan would annoy Donald’s hosts and spoil the Sapio article.)

I guess it just goes to show you that grumpy old men regardless of nationality have to latch onto the “good old days” somewhere; fortunately our Donald feels like he has a culture and a circle of friends here that encourage that. Enjoy yourself here, Donald. Just don’t bad-mouth other people who are also coming here and trying to make a life, even if eventually they decide that there are greener pastures and fairer opportunities elsewhere. At 88, you won’t have to endure Japan’s non-academic workplace culture, let alone be on this mortal coil long enough, for any denouement.

Kyodo: Soccer S-Pulse coach Ghotbi wants to meet banned fans over racial banner

We have some proactive treatment against discrimination towards a NJ coach in Japan’s soccer leagues. Witness the reaction of other fans towards a nasty fan banner singling him out by his nationality, attributing to him behavior that is unrelated and unwarranted: criticism and the taking of responsibility. Good. Regardless of whether one might argue this actually constitutes “racism” or not, it is still indicative of the zero tolerance of discrimination that should be (and is, under FIFA) a hallmark of world sport leagues worldwide, including Japan’s.

I am, however, of two minds about manager Ghotbi meeting the nasty fans to somehow enlighten them. It on one hand seems a good PR strategy — engage and convince the nasties that their targets are humans with feelings after all. On the other hand, it may encourage other trolls who want attention (not to mention get a meeting with a famous NJ — just insult them and you get an audience) to do the same thing — and enough of these banners and people may start claiming “cultural misunderstandings” as justification (you get that with nasty slogans against NJ in Japanese baseball, e.g., the racist banners against Warren Cromartie). In my experience it doesn’t always work to talk to discriminators (sometimes their names exposed to social opprobrium is enough), but sometimes it does, and at least there is social opprobrium and media attention this time. Let’s keep an eye on this and see how it flies. Hopefully buds get nipped.

Kyodo: Shimizu S-Pulse manager Afshin Ghotbi has turned the other cheek toward two Jubilo fans who have been indefinitely banished from Iwata games for hoisting a racially motivated banner in the Shizuoka derby two weeks ago, wanting to meet them to try to raise international awareness throughout the J-League.

The two teenage Jubilo supporters were outlawed by their club on Monday after writing a banner that read, ‘‘Ghotbi, stop making nuclear weapons,’’ in the May 28 J-League contest between Shimizu and Iwata at Outsourcing Stadium… Ghotbi, the ex-Iran national coach who is in his first season in Japan at Shimizu, is Iranian-American…

Yet rather than further fry the two fans amid arguably the nastiest controversy between the Shizuoka-based clubs, [Ghotbi] wants a clear-the-air meeting with the pair to stamp out racism in the J-League for good…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 12, 2011

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)

INJUSTICE
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”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 11, 2011

Table of Contents:

TOPICS OF PERSONAL INTEREST
1) Warning to Debito.org Commenters about being cyber-stalked; don’t use your real name as moniker anymore
2) Post #2000! Special Discussion: Making “friends” in Japan, successfully?
3) FCCJ Book Break evening June 28 for my book IN APPROPRIATE in Yurakucho, Tokyo. Let me know if you want to go.
4) Review of IN APPROPRIATE and interview at JETAA-NY’s Examiner.com
5) IN APPROPRIATE now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble
6) Donald Keene to naturalize, in a show of solidarity with the Japanese people, at age 88
7) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST MAY 7, 2011: Speech at Otaru Shoudai Dec 5, 2011: “The Otaru Onsens Case, Ten Years On”
8 ) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JUNE 1, 2011

AFTERSHOCKS OF 3/11
9) Columnist Dan Gardner: “Why Japan took the nuclear risk”: Quick-fix energy during 1973-4 Oil Shocks
10) Kansai Time Out Feb ’08 on “Power and the People: Masaki Hisane keeps watch on Japan’s nuclear industry”
11) AFP: Japan tells tourists says ‘it’s safe’ to come back, with budgets to dispel “public misperceptions about the effects of the nuclear disaster”
12) Ekonomisuto gives better articles on effects of both NJ leaving Japan and tourists avoiding Japan
13) Nikkei reports on the effect of “nihon saru gaikokujin”, aka Fly-jin, with some pretty shaky journalistic practices
14) Mainichi: “Industries left short-handed after NJ workers flee Japan following nuke accident”
15) Zakzak headlines that NJ part-time staff flee Yoshinoya restaurant chain, and somehow threaten its profitability
16) JT/Kyodo: NJ key to Japan’s recovery, says Iokibe Makoto, chair of GOJ Reconstruction Design Council. Well, fancy that.
17) Nikkei Business magazine special (May 2, 2011) on the future and necessity of NJ labor to Japan
18) Sankei: MOJ proposes easier visas for importing “higher quality” NJ labor; neglects to offer NJ stronger civil or labor rights
19) Christopher Dillon, author of “LANDED: The Guide to Buying Property in Japan”, on earthquake insurance in Japan
20) Mainichi: “American teacher in Sendai stays in Japan to help with volunteer efforts”
21) Mainichi: “Many foreign residents wish to stay in Japan despite disaster: survey”
22) Tangent: “Foreigners Looking to Adopt Japanese Earthquake Orphans Need Not Apply”

… and finally …
23) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 39: “Better to be branded a ‘flyjin’ than a man of the ‘sheeple'” (May 3, 2011)
(This is a culmination of all the articles cited above.)