SCMP: “Tennis queen Naomi Osaka a role model, says ‘Indian’ Miss Japan Priyanka Yoshikawa”. A little more complex than that.

SCMP: Japanese tennis sensation Naomi Osaka not only hit the cash jackpot with her historic US Open victory – she struck a blow for racial equality, according to a former Miss Japan… Priyanka Yoshikawa, who two years ago was crowned Miss Japan, believes Osaka can also help break down cultural barriers in a country where multi-racial children make up just two per cent of those born annually.

“Japan should be proud of her – she can definitely break down walls, she will have a big impact.” Osaka, who has a Japanese mother, a Haitian father and was raised in the United States, is set to shine a light on what it means to be Japanese, predicts Yoshikawa. “The way she speaks, and her humbleness, are so Japanese,” said the 24-year-old… Unlike Yoshikawa and Miyamoto, Osaka speaks hardly any Japanese after moving to Florida with her family as a toddler. “It’s not about language,” insists the Tokyo-born Yoshikawa, who was bullied because of her skin colour as a child… “But she’s what she thinks she is. If you think you’re Japanese, you’re Japanese.”… “But it’s still going to take more time for people to think ‘haafu’ can be Japanese,” she warned. “We need more people like Naomi.”

COMMENT: Indeed. Japan needs more people like Naomi. And like Priyanka. And Ariana Miyamoto. And Murofushi. And Asuka Cambridge.  And Bekki.  And Jero.  And Darvish.  And Miyazawa Rie.  And Umemiya Anna.  And Hiroko Grace. And Kinugasa “Iron Man” Sachio. And any number of other “haafu” celebrities in Japan who have made history over generations, but barely made a dent in diversifying Japan’s racialized self-concept of “Japaneseness” being predominantly pure-blooded.  I’m not sure what’s different this time. Again, Debito.org is very happy to cheer on Ms. Osaka as she navigates her way through Japan’s adult society and through the trappings and pitfalls of sports fame. But it’s far too soon to be this optimistic that any real change has happened or will happen. As we’ve seen from the world-class people above, it takes a lot more than one tennis star to undo this degree of “Embedded Racism”. Where’s the “tipping point”?

My Japan Times JBC Col 113: “Warning to Naomi Osaka: Playing for Japan can seriously shorten your career” (Sep. 19, 2018)

JBC 113: First, Just Be Cause congratulates Naomi Osaka on her outstanding win over tennis legend Serena Williams in the U.S. Open. Osaka’s grace under fire was world-class, and she deserves all the plaudits she can get.

And let’s just get this out of the way: I also agree that Williams had every right to protest her treatment by a heavy-handed umpire. The ump made the game about his ability to punish instead of defuse a situation, and penalized a woman more severely than men for similar infractions.

But that commentary is for the Sports pages. Here’s the JBC issue: Ms. Osaka, I don’t think you understand what you’ve gotten yourself into by choosing to play for Japan.
Rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/09/19/issues/warning-naomi-osaka-playing-japan-can-seriously-shorten-career/

Naomi Osaka’s US Open victory over Serena Williams: Congratulations, but I don’t think you know what you’re getting yourself into.

I want to say congratulations to Naomi Osaka for winning the US Open last weekend, soundly defeating her hero and template, tennis legend Serena Williams. But Ms. Osaka, I don’t think you have idea what you’ve gotten yourself into by deciding to play for Japan.

Debito.org has talked extensively in the past how Japan puts undue pressure on its athletes (especially in international competitions, since national pride and issues of superiority-inferiority come into play very quickly), sometimes with fatal results. Doubly so for “haafu” Japanese, since questions about their identity and loyalties seep in to complicate things further. There are plenty of examples of Japanese with diverse backgrounds being discounted or disqualified from being “true” Japanese when they don’t win something (such as international beauty pageants). But when they do win (as seen numerous times with Japan’s Nobel Laureates, many of whom have long left Japan, taken foreign citizenships, and even said that they wouldn’t have gotten their achievements if they had remained in Japan), it’s suddenly because they are “Japanese”. But most of that support will only continue if she continues to win. Otherwise, given Japan’s constant self-conception as radicalized entities, she’d be losing tournaments because of her mixed-ness (as has been claimed about Japan’s rugby teams and figure skaters). She’s not pure enough as a haafu to measure up.

So why do it? The NYT notes why Ms. Osaka’s father decided she should represent Japan: “”If Osaka played under the American flag, it’s very unlikely that these [highly-lucrative] opportunities would exist. Japanese companies would have no reason to court her and U.S. brands would have other higher-ranked young guns to consider, like Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens. But as Japan’s top-ranked player, Osaka has the full attention of the country’s top brands, whose sponsorship fees can run far higher than those of their Western counterparts.”

Then all Ms. Osaka’s talent and youthful energy may wind up being frittered away dealing with Japan’s pressure on their sports representatives — a pressure of perfectionism that expects Japanese champions to remain champions no matter what. In essence, this approach, decided by Ms. Osaka’s father, to make her a bigger-fish-in-a-smaller-pond may backfire, becoming the millstone around her neck:  a drag that could shorten her overall career if not her life. Again, I congratulate Ms. Osaka on her success, and wish her the best of luck. But I really don’t think she knows what she’s gotten herself into.

“Nippon Claimed” multiethnic tennis star Osaka Naomi gets “whitewashed” by her sponsor. Without consulting her. Compare with singer Crystal Kay.

Multiethnic tennis star Osaka Naomi, whom we’ve talked about on Debito.org before in the context of Japan’s “Nippon Claiming” (where a mudblood is “claimed” to be a “Japanese”, full stop, as long as she’s at the top of her game; otherwise her mixed-ethnicity becomes a millstone), has now been claimed to the point of “whitewashing”. Yes, her Haitian-American heritage has been washed away in the Japanese media. By one of her main sponsors, no less.  And they did it without clearing it with her first.

Osaka herself commented: “”I don’t think they did it on purpose to be, like, whitewashing or anything, but I definitely think that the next time they try to portray me or something, I feel like they should talk to me about it.”

Well, yeah. But unless Osaka takes active measures to control her image (to look, as she puts it, “tan”), the default standard in the Japanese media (which hasn’t been able to accept other celebrities in Japan of mixed heritage as “Japanese” unless they “look like Japanese”) is to bleach their skin color. Doubt that? Consider what happened to singer Crystal Kay…

Debito article in Shingetsu News Agency: “The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite” (Feb 2, 2019)

A couple of days ago I commented on an article in the Japan Times by a former Ministry of Foreign Affairs diplomat and TV pundit Miyake Kunihiko (or “Kuni”, for gaijin ingratiation) who has a weekly JT space for his musings.  A pedigreed elite trained in international “Gaijin Handling”, Miyake clumsily talks about Japan’s race relations and multiethnic future by critiquing tennis champ Osaka Naomi’s “Japaneseness”.  

My JT comment helped draw attention to the article, and I’ve just written my first feature piece for the Shingetsu News Agency (the only independent English-language media left in Japan not toeing a Japanese government line) about what Miyake’s article indicates in terms of the decline in the JT’s analytical abilities, as it swings rightward to knuckle under to revisionist pressure on Japanese media and curry favor with Japan’s elites.  It also cites other research from Reuters and the Asia-Pacific Journal (Japan Focus).  Here’s an excerpt:

The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, February 2, 2019
On January 28, the Japan Times published an opinion piece titled, “How Japanese is Naomi Osaka?” Author Kunihiko Miyake “felt something odd” about how the multiethnic tennis champ could ever “represent Japan.” Miyake’s article is indicative of how the quality of analysis has slipped under the Japan Times’ new ownership, and suggests how the purposes of the organization have changed…

[Miyake’s] half-baked column is indicative of something much larger—a decline in analytical prowess due to the editorial changes at the Japan Times in recent years.

The Japan Times came under new ownership in June 2017 by the media group News2u Holdings, a PR company. In an unexpected editorial shift, last November the Japan Times announced that it would henceforth be rewording the “potentially misleading” (and internationally-recognized) terms “Comfort Women”—which is already a direct translation of the official euphemism of ianfu—as “women who worked in wartime brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.” Likewise, the term “forced laborers” would now be rendered merely as “wartime laborers,” following the new government policy.

Aside from journalistic concerns about cramming a wordy term into concise articles, it wasn’t hard for media observers to understand this as a response to government pressure, already manifest in Japanese media and world history textbooks, to portray Japan’s past in a more exculpatory light…

Full article at at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/02/02/the-japan-times-becomes-servant-to-the-elite/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 27, 2019

Table of Contents:
THE FAULTY DYNAMIC OF “NIPPON CLAIMING”
1) Japan Times JBC Col 113: “Warning to Naomi Osaka: Playing tennis for Japan can seriously shorten your career” (Sep. 19, 2018)
2) SCMP: “Tennis queen Naomi Osaka a role model, says ‘Indian’ Miss Japan Priyanka Yoshikawa”. A little more complex than that.
3) “Nippon Claimed” multiethnic tennis star Osaka Naomi gets “whitewashed” by her sponsor. Without consulting her. Compare with singer Crystal Kay.

SHENANIGANS
4) Fuji TV’s “Taikyo no Shunkan”: Reality TV targeting NJ as sport. Again.
5) Japan Times officially sanitizes WWII “comfort women” and “forced laborers”. Pressure on my JT Just Be Cause column too.
6) Excellent Japan Times feature on dual citizenship in Japan: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy leaves many in the dark

GOOD NEWS?
7) Nikkei: Japanese-Brazilians snub Tokyo’s diaspora residency program, attracting exactly ZERO applications after starting 3 months ago
8 ) BBC: Fukuoka Hilton Hotel refuses entry to Cuban Ambassador due to “US sanctions”. J authorities call action “illegal”. How quaint.

HOT DISCUSSIONS ON DEBITO.ORG
9) Nikkei Asian Review: “In rural Japan, immigrants spark a rebirth”. An optimistic antidote to the regular media Gaijin Bashing
10) Senaiho on criminal complaint against Jr High School “Hair Police” in Yamanashi
11) SendaiBen on “Anytime Fitness” Sports Gym Gaijin Carding him, and how he got them to stoppit
12) JT: GOJ Cabinet approves new NJ worker visa categories. Small print: Don’t bring your families. Or try to escape.
13) Surprising survey results from Pew Research Center: Japan supportive of “immigration”

… and finally…
14) Pop Matters.com: Interview with Activist and Writer Debito Arudou on Foreigners’ Rights in Japan

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 23, 2018

ASSIMILATION AND ITS DUES
1) Naomi Osaka’s US Open victory over Serena Williams: Congratulations, but I don’t think you know what you’re getting yourself into.
2) JT/Kyodo: Immigration Bureau to be upgraded to Immigration Agency April 2019. Baby steps towards Immigration Ministry with actual immigration policy?
3) GOJ sets targets for importing even more NJ temp labor, Kyodo editorializes on how badly Japan needs NJ

ASSIMILATION AND ITS MISINTERPRETATIONS
4) Farrah on Hamamatsu’s city-sponsored “Gaijin Day” event: Problematic wording and execution, esp. given the history of Hamamatsu, and who attended.
5) 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?
6) Daily Show’s Trevor Noah controversy on French World Cup team: “Africa won the World Cup”. Debito.org disagrees with French Ambassador’s protest letter.
7) Kyodo/Mainichi: Japan increases “nuclear security” before 2019 Rugby World Cup, 2020 Olympics (again, insinuating NJ are potential terrorists)
8 ) TJ on “Doing a Debito”: Gaijin Carded at Nagoya Airport and Airport Comfort Inn

… and finally…
9) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 112: “What about we stop it with the ‘whataboutism’?” (July 16, 2018)

BBC: “Is Japan embracing diversity?” A Pollyannaish article highlighting a few celebrity examples without data on broad public attitudes or government policy re immigration

BBC: Ahead of the Rugby World Cup held in Japan last year, a Japanese sports magazine, asked the national team’s captain, “Why are there so many foreigners in Japan’s squad?” The 31-year-old captain, Michael Leitch, originally from New Zealand, answered (in Japanese), “Because that’s how Japan is today. The rugby national team reflects the reality of current Japan, and also anticipates the future of Japan. As a team, we can embody and show society just how important diversity is.”
[…]
In Japan, rugby is famous for the phrase “no-side”, meaning once the referee blows the whistle to end the match, there are no more foes, only fellow players. While this phrase is no longer widely used, it has lodged itself firmly in the national consciousness of Japan. Athletes there with foreign roots are still called “players from a foreign country”. But in a country where the concept of wa is considered a fundamental virtue, there is hope that an increasingly visible “other” Japan in a changing society can lead it to being the natural state of things.

COMMENT: Here we have another one of those hopeful “Japan is changing” articles we get from time to time. BBC Reporter Okazaki clearly starts from a tack and then works backwards to find evidence to support it. But as Submitter FB pointed out quite succinctly, the article “highlights a few celebrity examples without any data on broad public attitudes or government policy towards immigration. The fact that 3rd generation ethnic Koreans aren’t citizens is the most telling fact of intransigence towards diversity.” Touche.  

So let’s just draw a line in the sand here with a clear litmus test:  At a bare minimum, until Japan’s historical aberration of “Zainichi” status is finally resolved by the Japanese government, and “generational foreigners” are legally accepted as diverse AND Japanese, Japan can never claim to be truly accepting of diversity.  Full stop.  Do that, and then we’ll start talking about how “Japan is changing” for a news peg.  For one cannot ignore the historical contributions and sacrifices of Japan’s minorities, particularly the Zainichi, no matter what cosmetic overtures one might make in public towards a few token Visible Minorities for the sake of overseas media consumption.

Japan Times JBC 114 DIRECTOR’S CUT of “Top Ten for 2018” column, with links to sources

Now that the clicks have died down on my latest Japan Times JBC column of January 28, 2019 (thanks for putting it in the Top Ten trending articles once again), what follows is the first final draft I submitted to the Japan Times for editing on December 29, 2018.  I blog this version because a lot of information is lost (inevitably) as we cut the word count from 2800 to 1600 words. (I generally put everything in the first final draft, then cut it down to fit the page; that way we don’t overlook anything and have to backtrack.)

People have been asking what got cut (and yes, the original version mentions Michael Woodford and Jeff Kingston), so the piece below is quite a bit different from what appeared in the Japan Times here (meaning it shouldn’t draw away any readers from the JT version; in fact, it will probably spur more views from readers wanting to compare). Also, having links to sources matter, so here it all is, including my regular acerbic tone.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 18, 2019

Table of Contents:
MORE OFFICIAL OVERREACTION TO NJ INVITED INFLUX
1) Record 2.73 million NJ residents in Japan in 2018; media also shoehorns in mention of NJ crime, without mention of NJ contributions
2) MC on new Minpaku Law and NJ check-ins: Govt. telling AirBnB hostels that “foreign guests” must have passports photocopied etc. Yet not in actual text of the Minpaku Law. Or any law.
3) XY: Hotel calls cops on NJ Resident at check-in for not showing passport. And cops misinterpret laws. Unlawful official harassment is escalating.
4) Fox on getting interrogated at Sumitomo Prestia Bank in Kobe. Thanks to new FSA regulations that encourage even more racial profiling.
5) “Gaikokujin Appetizer Charge” in Osaka Dotonbori restaurant? Debito.org investigates.

THE SENAIHO CASE OF SCHOOL HAIR POLICING TAKEN TO COURT
6) Senaiho on criminal complaint against Jr High School “Hair Police” in Yamanashi
7) UPDATE: Senaiho on the stacked Board of Education committee investigating his Yamanashi jr. high school Hair Police complaint
8 ) UPDATE 2: Senaiho School Bullying in Yamanashi JHS: How people who file complaints for official harassment get harassed back
9) NYT: Hair policing soon to be treated as “racial discrimination” by NYC Commission of Human Rights. Compare with JHS & HS Hair Police in Japan.

HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN
10) Debito.org’s stance on the Carlos Ghosn Case, at last: A boardroom coup making “thin legal soup” that might shame Japan’s “hostage justice” judicial system into reform
11) Debito article in Shingetsu News Agency: “The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite” (Feb 2, 2019)

… and finally…
12) Japan Times JBC 114, “Top Ten Human Rights Issues for NJ in Japan for 2018” column, “Director’s Cut” with links to sources

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

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

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

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

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

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 6, 2012

Table of Contents:
TECTONIC SHIFTS
1) AP: Where Japan’s Post-Fukushima rebuild cash really went: Corruption and coverup on grand scale in a crisis that even TEPCO admits “could have been avoided”
2) Wash Post: A declining Japan loses its once-hopeful champions (including Ezra Vogel!) — as Japan is eclipsed by an ascendant China
3) Sakanaka in Japan Times: Japan as we know it is doomed, only immigrants can save it
INCREDULITY
4) Japan Times: Japan Post Office unilaterally decides old “Gaijin Cards” no longer acceptable ID, despite still valid under MOJ
5) Kyodo: NJ on welfare (unlike Japanese on welfare) now need to pay pension premiums, says Japan Pension Service
6) Shuukan Kin’youbi: Protests against NJ businesses in Tokyo turn ugly, yet J media compares Chinese protests against J businesses to Kristallnacht
7) BV: “Victimizing the Young, Featherbedding the Old?” On how Japan’s elite bureaucratic rot is adversely affecting Japan’s children
8 ) ZakSPA!: “Laughable” stories about “Halfs” in Japan, complete with racialized illustration
ROUGH DRAFTS
9) Ishihara resigns Tokyo Governorship, seeks Diet seat as new party head. I say bring it on.
10) The first version of my Oct 2012 JT JUST BE CAUSE column (rejected for publication) blogged for your comments, on “sanctioned reality”: Do you “get” it?
… and finally…
11) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 56 on the Senkakus/Takeshima Disputes: “Revisionists marching Japan back to a dangerous place”

AP: Where Japan’s Post-Fukushima rebuild cash really went: Corruption and coverup on grand scale in a crisis that even TEPCO admits “could have been avoided”

For all the talk we have had in the past of Japan’s efficient government and incorruptible bureaucracy (dating from, oh, perhaps Chalmers’ MITI AND THE JAPANESE MIRACLE — even Transparency International still ranks Japan higher than say, oh, the US, France, or Spain in its “Corruption Perceptions Index 2011”), one major factor that not only despirits a nation but also steals its wherewithal is an unaccountable administrative branch robbing the public coffers blind. In this case, the GOJ is reportedly siphoning off disaster funds that had been earmarked to save people’s lives and livelihoods and diverted to support completely unrelated projects. The news below goes beyond the fact that TEPCO and the GOJ have finally admitted their collusion to cover up their malfeasance in preventing the nuclear meltdown (article archived below — note that the investigative committee was led by a NJ). It shows, as Debito.org first mentioned back in December 2011 (and repeated in a different incarnation last July) that our first “see I told you so” moment (where even our critics would not capitulate for being wrong about corruption and coverup) stating that Japan’s control-freak governance system in Japan is irredeemably broken, was ever more right all along.

AP: About a quarter of the US$148 billion budget for reconstruction after Japan’s March 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster has been spent on unrelated projects, including subsidies for a contact lens factory and research whaling. The findings of a government audit buttress complaints over shortcomings and delays in the reconstruction effort. More than half the budget is yet to be disbursed, stalled by indecision and bureaucracy, while nearly all of the 340,000 people evacuated from the disaster zone remain uncertain whether, when and how they will ever resettle… Among the unrelated projects benefiting from the reconstruction budgets are: road building in distant Okinawa; prison vocational training in other parts of Japan; subsidies for a contact lens factory in central Japan; renovations of government offices in Tokyo; aircraft and fighter pilot training, research and production of rare earths minerals, a semiconductor research project and even funding to support whaling, ostensibly for research, according to data from the government audit released last week. A list of budget items and spending shows some 30 million yen went to promoting the Tokyo Sky Tree, a transmission tower that is the world’s tallest freestanding broadcast structure. Another 2.8 billion yen was requested by the Justice Ministry for a publicity campaign to “reassure the public” about the risks of big disasters.

AP: The utility behind Japan’s nuclear disaster acknowledged for the first time Friday that it could have avoided the crisis. Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said in a statement that it had known safety improvements were needed before last year’s tsunami triggered three meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, but it had feared the political, economic and legal consequences of implementing them. “When looking back on the accident, the problem was that preparations were not made in advance,” TEPCO’s internal reform task force, led by company President Naomi Hirose, said in the statement. “Could necessary measures have been taken with previous tsunami evaluations? It was possible to take action” by adopting more extensive safety measures, the task force said… Investigative reports compiled by the government and the parliament panels said collusion between the company and government regulators allowed lax supervision and allowed TEPCO to continue lagging behind in safety steps.