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    EUROBIZ JAPAN Magazine Jan 2010 Interview of JIPI’s Sakanaka Hidenori

    Posted on Saturday, April 10th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  Here are some excerpts of the January 2010 issue of EUROBIZ JAPAN magazine, the publication of the European Business Council in Japan, edited by a journalist friend of mine.  Another journalist friend of mine interviewed the person I was interning with last week, Japan Immigration Research Institute’s Sakanaka-san, the former Tokyo Immigration Bureau chief who retired and actually supports an immigration and assimilation policy for NJ in Japan.  More on who he is and why in the interview below.  First up the cover is of the magazine, the table of contents so you can see what else is on tap inside, and then the two-page interview.  Click on any page to expand in browser.  Courtesy of Eurobiz, thanks guys.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ENDS

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    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues, Practical advice | No Comments »

    Sakanaka Hidenori’s latest paper on assimilation of NJ now translated into English, full text

    Posted on Monday, October 26th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
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    Hi Blog. Sakanaka Hidenori, head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute and author of Nyuukan Senki (his experiences within Japan’s Immigration Bureau), has just had his most recent paper translated into English. Debito.org is proud to feature this paper downloadable in full here, with an excerpt immediately below.

    Sakanaka-san has written for Debito.org before, and his 2007 work, “A New Framework for Japan’s Immigration Policies” can be found here. He has taken great efforts to encourage immigration policy within Japan (his prognosis on “Big Japan vs. Small Japan” is worth considering).

    Now for his latest, translated by Kalu Obuka. Excerpt, then full download. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    Towards a Japanese-style Immigration Nation
    Japan Immigration Policy Institute
    Executive Director SAKANAKA Hidenori
    Translated by Kalu Obuka

    Contents
    1 Policies towards non-Japanese in a shrinking society 9
    2 Robots to the rescue? 11
    3 Immigrants will save Japan 13
    4 Getting revolutionary immigration policies on the political agenda 16
    5 Envisioning a Japanese-style immigration policy 20
    6 10 million immigrants: A strategy for building a new Japan 24
    7 Immigration policies that develop human resources 30
    8 Successful policies towards foreign students,
    successful policies towards immigration 34
    9 Corporate social responsibility 36
    10 Revitalising Japanese farmland with 50,000 immigrants 39
    11 Multiethnic societies are “spicy” societies 43
    12 The demographic crisis: an opportunity to create a multiethnic nation 45
    13 The development of social workers for immigrants is essential 49
    14 Japanese language education and multiethnic education 51
    15 The Japanese can create a multiethnic society 56
    16 50 years later: An illustration of an immigrant nation 58

    Full 64-page Word file from
    http://www.debito.org/sakanakaimmigrationnation2009.doc

    Foreword
    As the population crisis deepens Japanese youth, perhaps due to increasing uncertainty about the future, are in a state of malaise. I hear that the number of Japanese who choose to study overseas has fallen. Indeed it certainly seems as though the number of young people with an interest in the world has dropped, while the number of those who choose to shut themselves up within Japan’s borders has risen. I wonder if in the age of population decline Japan is becoming an insular country.

    What can be done to tackle the population crisis and offer hope for a bright future? I believe the answer to that question is to open the doors to immigrants, and entrust our younger generations with the dream of a multiethnic society. This ideal society will stir up the passions of young Japanese. Over several years, my desire to provide a national vision that could captivate young people from Japan, and across the world has culminated in this work. What is presented here is a concept for accepting ten million immigrants over the next fifty years, tackling the problems of our low fertility rate, and rapidly aging population by building a new nation with immigrants.

    Should this concept be made a reality, we can expect the cooperation of an additional ten million young people, which ought to significantly ease the burden the aging of our population will place on those under thirty. Immigrants will be thought of as comrades by the birth decline generation, who would be forced to drastically adapt to our population crisis. Immigrants will not simply be brought in to rescue us from population crisis however, they are also the driving force that will change us from a country will high levels of homogeneity to a country rich with diversity.

    What I most want to emphasise is that we must create a country that can give dreams to immigrants if we are to revive Japan by opening the doors to immigration. My vision has received support from elites in every field who are concerned about the fate of the nation and society. The Japan Immigration Policy Institute was formed as a base from which the work needed to achieve this vision could be carried out.

    We are building a new Japan. Working towards a revolution similar to the Meiji Restoration. In order to be successful, this kind of project requires those in their twenties and thirties to rise to action, like Takasugi Shinsaku and Sakamoto Ryoma did during the Bakumatsu period (1853-1868). I am waiting for a Japanese generation X to open up a path to the future.

    This book is an immigrant nation manifesto. It will discuss the process of forming Japanese-style immigration policy, and its future prospects, the synthesis of an immigrant nation, the specific mechanisms through which immigrants will be accepted, and a vision of the Japanese immigration nation of the future.

    The people I most want to read this book are the immigrants who will work hand in hand with the younger generation to establish a multiethnic society. Should this booklet succeed in acting as a guiding light to a Japanese nation of immigrants, I would be overjoyed.

    August 2009.

    Sakanaka Hidenori
    Executive Director Japan Immigration Policy Institute.

    EXCERPT ENDS

    Full 64-page Word file from
    http://www.debito.org/sakanakaimmigrationnation2009.doc

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    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Discussions, Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues | 11 Comments »

    JIPI book on “The Concept for a Japanese-Style Immigration Nation” by Sakanaka Hidenori

    Posted on Friday, July 24th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatarUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

    Hi Blog.  I received this book from Director Sakanaka Hidenori at JIPI (Japan Immigration Policy Institute) two days ago.  “The Concept for a Japanese-Style Immigration Nation”.  Nice little handbook, haven’t read it yet, but here are scans of the cover, the contact details for you to get your own copy, and table of contents.  You see, despite the virtual taboo on considering immigration as an option within some public fora, other people are still willing to put pen to paper and give it a good think.

    The book is not on sale, so contact JIPI directly for details.  More of Sakanaka’s writings regarding Japan’s future of immigration on Debito.org here.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    JIPInihokeiiminkokka001

    (click on images to expand in your browser)

    JIPInihokeiiminkokka002

    JIPInihokeiiminkokka003

    ends

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    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Media, Practical advice, 日本語 | 4 Comments »

    Sakanaka in Japan Times: Japan as we know it is doomed, only immigrants can save it

    Posted on Monday, October 22nd, 2012

    Books etc. by ARUDOU Debito (click on icon):
    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hello Blog. My old friend Sakanaka Hidenori, who has had his writings featured on Debito.org in the past, has bravely spoken out once again to talk about Japan’s inevitable decline into oblivion if present trends continue. He calls for a revolution through immigration and… well, let me excerpt from the Japan Times article on him that came out yesterday.  Says things that have also been said here for a long, long time.  Arudou Debito

    /////////////////////////////////////

    ‘Only immigrants can save Japan’
    The Japan Times, October 21, 2012
    By MICHAEL HOFFMAN, Special to The Japan Times

    PHOTO CAPTION: Face of change: Hidenori Sakanaka, the former Justice Ministry bureaucrat and Tokyo Immigration Bureau chief fears the nation is on the brink of collapse, and says “we must welcome 10 million immigrants between now and 2050.”

    Japan as we know it is doomed.

    Only a revolution can save it.

    What kind of revolution?

    Japan must become “a nation of immigrants.”

    That’s a hard sell in this notoriously closed country. Salesman-in-chief — surprisingly enough — is a retired Justice Ministry bureaucrat named Hidenori Sakanaka, former head of the ministry’s Tokyo Immigration Bureau and current executive director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, a private think tank he founded in 2007.

    It’s an unlikely resume for a sower of revolution. Sakanaka clearly sees himself as such. His frequent use of the word “revolution” suggests a clear sense of swimming against the current. Other words he favors — “utopia,” “panacea” — suggest the visionary.

    “Japan as we know it” is in trouble on many fronts. The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, and the subsequent tsunami and nuclear disasters, struck a nation whose economy had been stagnant for 20 years while politicians fiddled and government floundered. But that’s not Sakanaka’s point. He is focused on demographics. “Japan,” he said in a recent telephone interview, “is on the brink of collapse.” [...]

    No nation, barring war or plague, has ever shrunk at such a pace, and as for aging, there are no historical precedents of any kind. The nation needs a fountain of youth.

    Sakanaka claims to have found one.

    Japan, he said, “must welcome 10 million immigrants between now and 2050.” [...]

    It sounds fantastic, and in fact, Sakanaka acknowledges, would require legislation now lacking — anti-discrimination laws above all.

    Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121021x3.html
    ENDS

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    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Cultural Issue, Discussions, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Practical advice, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 52 Comments »

    JIPI’s Sakanaka on Gaijin Tank detentions for visa overstays: Put a maximum time limit on them

    Posted on Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  Here we have JIPI’s Sakanaka-san in the Japan Times speaking out from a position of authority again in favor of NJ, this time regarding Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers (aka Gaijin Tanks for visa overstayers) and their conditions.  As has been discussed here before, Gaijin Tanks are not prisons; they do not fall under the penal code for incarceration conditions, there is no arraignment before a judge or court sentence to fulfill, and there is no time limit to how long you can be incarcerated for visa violations in Japan.  This has deleterious effects on the physical and mental health of detainees, of course.  So Mr S. is quite magnanimously (given Japan’s racially-profiling law enforcement) offering a compromise limit of one year behind bars.  Think there will be any takers?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    The Japan Times, Wednesday, July 14, 2010
    Ex-immigration boss: detentions too long (except)
    By MINORU MATSUTANI, Courtesy lots of people.

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100714f1.html

    Illegal residents should not be held in detention for more than one year because any longer causes too much stress, a former chief of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau said, noting extended incarceration led to two hunger strikes at detention centers this year, one of which followed suicides.

    “One year of confinement is mentally tough,” Hidenori Sakanaka, now director general of the independent think tank Japan Immigration Policy Institute, said in a recent interview with The Japan Times. “If that becomes a rule, bureau officials will try really hard to investigate thoroughly whether detainees warrant deportation or temporary release. They will work efficiently.”

    He said he was unsure if applying a one-year rule would lead to an increase in detainees being granted temporary release or would trigger a rise in deportations, but added, “the Immigration Bureau must stop suicides and hunger strikes.”

    There is no limit on how long the government can hold foreign residents deemed to be in Japan illegally. The Immigration Bureau’s Enforcement Division said 71 inmates out of 442 being held in three detention centers in Ibaraki, Osaka and Nagasaki prefectures had been confined for more than a year as of May 31.

    Dozens of detainees went on hunger strikes lasting more than a week at the East Japan Immigration Control Center in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, in May and at the West Japan Immigration Control Center in Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, in March. They were demanding better treatment, including limiting their incarceration to six months…

    The hunger strikes failed to win any concessions...

    Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100714f1.html

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    Posted in Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese police/Foreign crime | No Comments »

    JIPI’s Sakanaka in Daily Yomiuri: “Japan must become immigration powerhouse” (English only, it seems)

    Posted on Friday, May 28th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  Sakanaka Hidenori, former head of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau who has been written about on Debito.org various times, had an article on the need for immigration to Japan in the Daily Yomiuri the other day.  Happy to see.  However, I can’t find a Japanese version in the paper anywhere.  Tut.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    //////////////////////////////////////////

    Japan must become ‘immigration powerhouse’
    Hidenori Sakanaka / Special to The Daily Yomiuri
    May. 26, 2010,
    Courtesy of Daily Yomiuri staff
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/columns/commentary/20100526dy01.htm

    The size of a country’s population is a fundamental element of its government, economy and society. If the population keeps shrinking, it is self-evident that the nation’s strength will wane, the economy will shrink and the survival of society will be threatened.

    Three elements contribute to demographic changes: births, deaths and migration across national borders.

    In the face of Japan’s population problem, the government has focused on measures for boosting the birthrate. Huge sums of money have been poured into programs such as child allowances to help people raise children.

    But will the nation’s population start growing just by continuing with these measures?

    My view is that a low birthrate is unavoidable as a civilization matures.

    Other industrially advanced countries have also turned into societies with low birthrates as they have matured. Advancements in education, increased urbanization, the empowerment of women and diversification of lifestyles also exemplify the maturity of a society.

    Japan, a mature civilization, should expect to experience a low birthrate for at least the foreseeable future.

    Even if the government’s measures succeed in increasing the birthrate sharply and cause the population to increase, any era of population growth is far away and will be preceded by a stage of “few births and few deaths,” where there are declines in both birth and mortality rates.

    Accordingly, the only long-term solution for alleviating the nation’s population crisis is a government policy of accepting immigrants. Promotion of an effective immigration policy will produce an effect in a far shorter time period than steps taken to raise the nation’s birthrate.

    We, the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, propose that Japan accept 10 million immigrants over the next 50 years.

    We believe that to effectively cope with a crisis that threatens the nation’s existence, Japan must become an “immigration powerhouse” by letting manpower from around the world enter the country.

    By allowing people from a wide variety of racial and cultural backgrounds to mingle together, a new breed of culture, creativity and energy will arise, which will surely renew and revitalize Japan.

    If this proposal is implemented, the 10 million immigrants, most of whom will be young workers, will lessen the burden on young Japanese in funding social welfare programs for the elderly. The new immigrants will be “comrades,” not competitors in tackling the challenges of a graying society and a declining population.

    Young Japanese workers will need to join forces with the immigrants to weather these difficulties.

    Encouraging the acceptance of immigrants will not only help Japan out of the population crisis. The immigrants will also serve as a driving force in converting this homogenous and uniform society into one teeming with diversity, where a galaxy of talented people will interact to create a vigorous multiethnic society.

    It also must be clearly stated that if Japan hopes to benefit by throwing its doors open to immigrants, it must become a place where immigrants have sufficient opportunity to fulfill their dreams.

    Analysts at home and abroad have often declared the “sinking of Japan” because of its passivity over reform, but there can be no denying that transforming Japan into an immigration powerhouse should be the ultimate goal of any reform agenda.

    If this country dares to implement the immigration policy we envision, the world will surely welcome the opening of this country’s doors to immigrants as a “revolution of Japan.” This, I believe, will boost the presence of the nation in the international community.

    This is the “making of a new nation” that could develop into a change as radical as the Meiji Restoration.

    The grand, revolutionary task of transforming Japan cannot be achieved without ambitious men and women in their 20s and early 30s, people like Sakamoto Ryoma and Takasugi Shinsaku at the end of the Edo period (1603-1867).

    With this in mind, I plan to establish a school in July for young people to discuss what a desirable immigration policy should entail.

    I hope this will help foster leaders for the Heisei era (1989- ) that will carve out a future for Japan.

    Sakanaka, former head of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, is executive director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute.

    ENDS

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    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Practical advice, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 16 Comments »

    Sakanaka Essay: “A New Framework for Japan’s Immigration Policies”

    Posted on Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

    Hi Blog. Debito.org is proud to premiere an important essay on the future of immigration to Japan.

    To tell you just how important, I turn the keyboard over to Eric Johnston. Debito

    =====================================
    A New Framework for Japan’s Immigration Policies
    By Hidenori Sakanaka,
    Director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute
    Former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau

    INTRODUCTION
    By ERIC JOHNSTON
    Deputy Editor The Japan Times Osaka bureau

    Japan’s political leaders are (yet again) making international headlines over remarks regarding past crimes ranging from the Rape of Nanking to the forced recruitment of women to serve the Japanese military as sex slaves. But the really big Japan story today is not the heated arguments over history but the far less publicized, yet far more fundamental, argument about the future. Namely, what it will mean, in a half-century from now, to be “Japanese”?

    Current predictions are that, without large-scale immigration and assuming the birthrate continues to remain low, Japan’s population will shrink from the present 127 million to 100 million by 2050, and to just 64 million by 2100. The number of those considered to be of working age (15-64) is also going to decline rapidly at a time when the number of elderly is expected to skyrocket. By 2050, more than a third of the population is expected to be over 65 years old, making Japan one of, if not the oldest, countries in the world.

    For the past decade, the debate about how to adjust to an aging society with fewer children has largely been conducted behind closed doors, with different ministries putting out different proposals to keep Japan economically competitive while politically influential academics slay entire forests as they propose a variety of solutions. The endless sub-committees, blue ribbon panels, white papers, “wise-men” advisory boards, and special project teams have all gone out of their way to stress the importance of raising the retirement age and providing retraining opportunities for older people, ensuring that younger Japanese are integrated into the work-force as full-time employees not as “freeters”, and making use of more robot technology to replace the ever-dwindling number of human workers.

    Progressive members of the official debate have gone so far to suggest that Japan should be dragged, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the 21st century by enacting official policies to make it easier for women in the workforce. Calls for better economic opportunities for women can be found in many of the reports. However, the more conservative commentators merely suggest a “better environment for women”, hinting that, while they are not against the idea of women working “certain” jobs, their primary responsibility should still be to stay at home and make babies.

    And a good number have gone a step further: admitting Japan will not be able to survive without foreign labor. Various proposals, especially from Keidanren, the Justice Ministry, are now on the radar of most politicians and bureaucrats, and even the media. But given the politically explosive nature of the subject, few members of the official debate want to talk about what Japan might look like with millions and millions of foreigners.

    A notable, and praiseworthy, exception is Hidenori Sakanaka. Two years ago, his book “Nyukan Senki” caused a sensation among those following the official debate over immigration. A former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, Sakanaka was a consummate insider, an elite bureaucrat who has the ear of senior bureaucrats and business leaders, and the very few ruling party politicians, like the LDP’s Taro Kono, who are thinking seriously about the future of foreigners in Japan.

    In his book, Sakanaka outlined a vision of Japan in 2050, and stated what was obvious but what nobody in power dared address: Japan fundamentally faces two choices, whether to remain a “big” country by bringing in millions of foreigners or become a “small” country and admit very few. Since the publication of “Nyukan Senki”, Sakanaka has had a busy post-retirement career, traveling around the country, speaking to senior business leaders, academics, lawyers, government bureaucrats, the media, and, of course, NGOs about what he believes the Japanese government must do to ensure that, whichever path it chooses, it’s not only the right one but also the one that both protects foreigners and is practical for all concerned.

    Now, for the first time, part of “Nyukan Senki” has been translated into English in the hopes that the outside world will better be able to follow, and perhaps even participate in the discussions, formal and informal, that are taking place in Japan. Readers lacking a deep familiarity with Japanese politics should understand that, within the official debate (a debate that human rights NGOs, liberal opposition politicians have little or no influence over and which foreigners are entirely absent) Sakanaka is far more concerned about the enactment of a humane but realistic immigration policy than many of the other politicians, bureaucrats, academics, and senior corporate leaders with similar levels of political clout.

    In the end, Japan’s debate over its future must involve serious discussion and sound policy decisions regarding foreign immigrant labor. There is a tendency among far too many people with far too much to hide to claim that “Japan’s debate on its immigration policies is a domestic, not an international issue.” This kind of denial, blindness and self-delusion is responsible for Japan’s inability to face up to its past, which is dangerous enough. But how more dangerous will it be in the future for not only Japan but all those from outside Japan who immigrate?

    Happily, Sakanaka-san is determined to do his part to ensure that when politicians and bureaucrats speak of the need of a “national debate” or “national consensus” on the issue of foreign labor, they will be forced to open their closed doors to as many voices, from within Japan and without, as possible.

    (Note: The opinions contained within are those of Eric Johnston and do not necessarily reflect those of The Japan Times.)
    =======================

    Now go on to read Sakanaka’s essay at
    http://www.debito.org/sakanakaonimmigration.htm
    Enjoy.

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | No Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 27, 2010

    Posted on Saturday, November 27th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 27, 2010

    Table of Contents:
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    SAD STORIES
    1) Mainichi: Bullying of Filipina-Japanese grade schooler in Gunma leads to suicide: NHK ignores ethnicity issue in reports
    2) Japan Times: MEXT in line to deliberate on ijime after grade schooler Uemura Akiko suicide
    3) French Embassy reports French father of abducted child in Japan commits suicide
    4) TV America’s Most Wanted on unsolved questionable death of an American in Shinjuku Aug 2010. Any press in Japan?
    5) My college mentor, Chalmers Johnson, dies at 79

    SPY STORIES
    6) Japan Times: Leaked documents reveal Tokyo Police spies on Muslim residents, tries to make snitches of them
    7) Ministry of Justice website justifying crime prevention measures
    due to “frequent occurrence of serious crimes committed by foreign nationals and increase in transnational crimes”
    8 ) Eido Inoue on improbable remote tracking of RFID next-generation “Gaijin Cards”; yet “scan-proof” travel pouches now on sale
    9) WB and me on what NJ tourists also need in Japan — security against NPA harassment
    10) Eyewitness report on how NPA is targeting NJ in Gotanda as security risk for APEC Summit in Yokohama

    STUPID STORIES
    11) Daily Yomiuri eikaiwa columnist Mike Guest misrepresents not only the record, but also his own academic credentials
    12) Fun and Games at MOFA Passport Renewal — almost denied a passport because of one letter
    13) Weird broadside from Japan Helpline’s Ken Joseph Jr. on Facebook: Claims my naturalization queers my campaigning
    14) Japan Times Amy Savoie on int’l child abductions and the manufacturing of consent for it within Japan
    15) Japan businesses cry foul over UK visa regime, threaten pullout. Fancy that happening to the GOJ.

    FUTURE STORIES
    16) The Independent (UK) on Japan’s rising nationalism as Japan slips in world rankings
    17) UK Guardian compares South Korea’s relatively open-minded future with Japan’s possible “Second Edo Period” of insulation
    18) Times Higher Education on MEXT: “Japan’s entrenched ideas hinder the push to attract more foreign students and staff”
    19) Eurobiz Magazine’s Tony McNicol on the future abolition of the “Gaijin Tax” Re-Entry Permits
    20) CBC interview with me on Japan’s shrinking population and prospects for immigration
    21) For Educators in Japan: National EFL Job Satisfaction Survey

    … and finally …

    22) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Nov 2, 2010: ‘Homogeneous,’ ‘unique’ myths stunt discourse in Japan Studies

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, Daily blog updates and RSS at www.debito.org
    Freely Forwardable

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    SAD STORIES

    1) Mainichi: Bullying of Filipina-Japanese grade schooler in Gunma leads to suicide: NHK ignores ethnicity issue in reports

    For the record, here are some of the Mainichi’s articles on a recent suicide of a multiethnic Japanese due to classroom bullying. Uemura Akiko, a Filipina-Japanese grade schooler, was found dead by hanging three weeks ago in an apparent suicide, and evidence suggests that this was after being bullied for her Philippine ethnicity. Given the number of international marriages in Japan, I think we’re going to see quite a few more cases like this unless people start realizing that a multicultural, multiethnic Japan is not just something theoretical, but here and now. We need an official, MEXT and board-of-education approach of zero tolerance towards kids (who are, of course, going to tease each other no matter what) who choose to single people out due to their race or ethnic background.

    As submitter JK puts it, “This is why IMO, having a law against racial discrimination on the books is only part of the solution — what is really needed is a mental shift towards creating a culture of racial inclusion. There is no future for a Japan whose modus operandi is ‘The nail that sticks out…’”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7759

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    2) Japan Times: MEXT in line to deliberate on ijime after grade schooler Uemura Akiko suicide

    The uproar on the Uemura Akiko Suicide has led to ministerial-level action. Good news, in that something is being done about bullying in Japanese schools. Bad news is that somebody has to die before something is done (and these crackdowns on ijime are periodical things anyway; once the furore dies down, well — let’s just wait for the next victim and we’ll have another cry and outcry).

    Of course, the elephant in the room is the racially-motivated nature of the bullying, which does not seem to be being addressed. If you don’t address one of the root causes (a racial background being used as ammunition), you aren’t gonna fix things. Duh. Doesn’t anyone out there in ministry land have a degree in education?

    Japan Times: The education ministry will conduct a nationwide survey of bullying in schools following the suicide last month of sixth-grader Akiko Uemura, in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture.

    Japan Times Editorial: Why does the board of education deny a cause-and-effect relationship between the bullying and her suicide? It appears as if the board and school authorities refused to squarely deal with the tragedy and their responsibility in the case.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7785

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    3) French Embassy reports French father of abducted child in Japan commits suicide

    The latest in a series of tragedies through child abductions by Japanese because Japan’s laws and Family Court do not prevent them (more at crnjapan.net): The tragedy is clearly not only that of children being deprived of a parent. On November 19, a Left-Behind Parent deprived himself of his life. As reports the French Embassy in French and Japanese on November 24. English translation first, then official texts from the Embassy. We’ve had government after government denouncing this practice, GOJ, as the French Embassy puts it so eruditely below. How much longer must it go on?

    French Embassy: Our compatriot Arnaud Simon killed himself Friday, November 19. The French teacher in Tokyo, he was 35 years old and lived in Japan since 2006.

    Separated from his wife since last March, he was the father of a boy of 20 months he had sought unsuccessfully to gain custody. Our community is in mourning and I present on behalf of all our condolences to his family and loved ones.

    Nobody can speak with certainty about the reasons why a man so young to commit an act so terrible. Mr. Simon, however, had recently expressed to the consular section of our embassy in Tokyo of its difficulties to meet his son and it is very likely that the separation from her child was a determining factor. This reminds us all if need be suffering fathers of the 32 French and two hundred other cases identified by consular authorities as being deprived of because of their parental rights.

    It is clear that our words and deeds are little face a dramatic situation, but I wanted to remind the determined action of the French authorities and the Embassy in connection with its German partners, American, Australian, Belgian, British, Canadian, Colombian, Spanish, Hungarian, Italian and New Zealand calling on Japan to ratify the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and expedite a review of individual records to find appropriate solutions where they are possible, depending on circumstances.

    It is the interests of children, that nobody has the right to deprive one of their parents. It is also to take into account the suffering of the fathers we have today is a tragic event.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7926

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    4) TV America’s Most Wanted on unsolved questionable death of an American in Shinjuku Aug 2010. Any press in Japan?

    In line with yesterday’s theme of foreign crime (in this case, crimes perpetrated against the foreign), has anyone heard of this case of a questionable death (ruled by police as an accident) of an American in Shinjuku last August in the domestic media? If the reverse were true (a US tourist killing a Japanese), you bet we’d hear about it, and have all manner of people screaming about how tourists are now part of the alleged foreign crime wave we must protect Japanese from.

    I hope I don’t have to make the argument again that there is a double standard of justice and attention depending on whether the perp or the victim is Japanese or not, like I did in the Japan Times March 2009.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7771

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    5) My college mentor, Chalmers Johnson, dies at 79

    James Fallows: I have just heard that Chalmers Johnson died a few hours ago, at age 79, at his home near San Diego. He had had a variety of health problems for a long time.

    Johnson — “Chal” — was a penetrating, original, and influential scholar, plus a very gifted literary and conversational stylist. When I first went to Japan nearly 25 years ago, his MITI and the Japanese Miracle was already part of the canon for understanding Asian economic development. Before that, he had made his name as a China scholar; after that, he became more widely known with his books like Blowback, about the perverse effects and strategic unsustainability of America’s global military commitments. Throughout those years he was a mentor to generations of students at the UC campuses at Berkeley and San Diego…

    I am one of those mentored by Chal in San Diego. As the Japan Times obit mentions:

    “Debito Arudou, a columnist for The Japan Times, was a student of Johnson’s at the University of California at San Diego in the early 1990s. He said that in the classroom, Johnson was the voice of Zeus.

    “‘He never suffered fools gladly, but everything he said was meticulously researched. He presented his ideas with verve,’ Arudou said…”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7860

    You can read a funny report about our last meeting in 2005, during a California trip. Page down quite a bit…

    http://www.debito.org/californiatrek2005.html

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    SPY STORIES

    6) Japan Times: Leaked documents reveal Tokyo Police spies on Muslim residents, tries to make snitches of them

    In probably one of the most important developments of the year (thanks again to the Japan Times Community Page, consistently offering one great expose after another), we have actual substantiation of the Tokyo Police extending their racial profiling techniques to target Muslim residents of Japan. Not only are they spying on them and keeping detailed files, they are trying to turn them against one another as if they’re all in cahoots to foment terrorism.

    We all suspected as such (the very day I naturalized, I got a personal visit from Japan’s Secret Police asking me to inform on any Chinese overstayers I might happen to know; they said they read Debito.org — perhaps as assiduously as some of my Internet stalkers). Now we have proof of it. Shame, shame on a police force that has this much unchecked power. Do I smell a return to Kenpeitai tactics?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7818

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    7) Ministry of Justice website justifying crime prevention measures
    due to “frequent occurrence of serious crimes committed by foreign nationals and increase in transnational crimes”

    MOJ: “In the past Japan was proud of its image in the world of being an exceptionally safe country, but in recent years, the number of criminal cases that have been identified by the authorities has increased remarkably, while the clearance rate has dropped drastically and remains at a very low level, which makes the deterioration of public safety an issue of grave concern to the nation. In particular, exceptionally violent crimes attracting public attention and the occurrence close at hand of many offences committed by youngsters or by foreign nationals coming to Japan are making people uneasy about the maintenance of public order. In addition, since computers and high-level information technology such as the Internet have become a common feature of daily life, new crimes abusing such advanced technology have risen in number. Further, effective measures against international terrorism such as the multiple terrorist attacks on the United States, and efforts toward solving problems concerning the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea, are needed…” (Cosigned by Criminal Affairs Bureau, Correction Bureau, Rehabilitation Bureau, Immigration Bureau, Public Security Intelligence Agency, and Public Security Examination Commission)

    COMMENT: Well, that’s what I would call an unrepentant Bunker Mentality Mode. It’s hard not to read this as, “We were a safe society until the foreigners came along and spoiled everything for us. So now we have to crack down on the foreigners and Japanese who deal with them.” Great. Of course, we have no purely homegrown crime here, such as the Yaks, right? Why is “Recovery of Public Safety” so firmly linked in “foreigner issues”? Because they’re a soft target, that’s why. Read the whole MOJ website entry and try to suppress a wry smirk.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7781

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    8 ) Eido Inoue on improbable remote tracking of RFID next-generation “Gaijin Cards”; yet “scan-proof” travel pouches now on sale

    With the rerelease of an article I wrote last year (I am reading all my old articles in order for the Debito.org Podcast, so listen here or read it here) is a revisitation of an argument I made about the next-generation “Gaijin Cards” (Zairyuu Kaado), with imbedded IC Chips. I expressed a fear that these “smart cards” will be remotely scannable, meaning the NPA will be able to zap a crowd and smoke out who’s foreign or not (whereas Japanese citizens have no legal obligation to carry ID 24/7 backed up with criminal punishment) — or will further justify racial profiling of people like me who look foreign but aren’t.

    Techie Eido Inoue, a naturalized J citizen himself, writes here on invitation to address this argument. He was worried that this topic might get a bit geeky (he has in fact made it very readable, thanks), but never mind, this needs to be discussed by people in the know. However, please do read or page down to the end, where I have some basic counterarguments and a scan of something I saw the other day in a travel shop — a “scan proof” pouch for your valuables on sale! Read on.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7723

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    9) WB and me on what NJ tourists also need in Japan — security against NPA harassment

    I get letters like this on a daily basis (thanks everyone; can’t respond to all). This one dovetails with something Debito.org is increasingly focusing attention upon: Japan’s attempts to rebrand itself as a “cool tourist destination”. This is fine, of course, but if you’re going to make it easier for NJ tourists (such as Chinese or Subcontinental Indians) to visit, you better make sure that they have a good time while here. And I certainly see some room for improvement there.

    I was waking up to NHK last Monday morning, and in line with their general cluelessness about how to treat NJ (such as acclaiming 30-sen discount coupons for exchange rates), this time they were surveying airport tourists about what they’d like to see done to make Japan more attractive. Some of the advice was decent (such as making clear on menus the contents of food, as in, what items are safe for vegetarians or diabetics). But others were of the “whiny” variety (as in, “In America, we have menus in English”; this in a land where menus are very conveniently visual indeed). Nice try, but if you’re trying to appeal to Asian-Region tourists, why not ask more Asian tourists what THEY want, NHK?

    But one thing is of course being overlooked — how tourists and NJ in general are being targeted and harassed by police for instant passport checks. It starts at Narita Airport, where the Narita Police are essentially using gaijin for target practice. And as Debito.org Readers keep hearing here, it keeps happening once inside as well. Witness this letter below, redacted only in name.

    Point is, if you want to make Japan a more attractive tourist destination, please heel your police dogs, GOJ. The NPA is spoiling the party with its racial profiling and treating NJ as suspicious. Being treated as a criminal can really spoil one’s vacation…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7721

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    10) Eyewitness report on how NPA is targeting NJ in Gotanda as security risk for APEC Summit in Yokohama

    In case you haven’t heard, the latest APEC Summit is coming up in Yokohama this weekend. Aside from the regular boilerplate on places like NHK about how we’re gearing up to greet and communicate effectively with foreigners (with some smattering on the security measures — cops on every corner looking busy and alert etc.), we once again are hearing next to nothing (if any media is talking about this, please send source) about how security means targeting NJ as potential criminals and terrorists.

    It’s one thing to have Police State-style lockdowns. It’s another matter of great concern to Debito.org for those lockdowns to encourage racial profiling. This seems to happen every time we have any major international summitry (see past articles here, here, here, and here), and as usual no media seems to question it. An eyewitness account redacted only in name that happened last week in Gotanda, Tokyo, quite a distance from the Yokohama site, follows. Anyone else out there getting racially profiled and zapped by the fuzz? Make sure you mention the whens and wheres, please. Thanks.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7747

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    STUPID STORIES

    11) Daily Yomiuri eikaiwa columnist Mike Guest misrepresents not only the record, but also his own academic credentials

    Mike Guest, a columnist for the Daily Yomiuri newspaper, had a mean-spirited spoof interview on the ELT News website of a person named “Orudo Debiru”, a “naturalized Japanese citizen, originally from the U.S. His main claim to fame is his activism for human rights, especially the rights of non-Japanese in Japan” — and whose first choice for Japanese name after naturalization was “Martin Luther King”. (Mr Guest asserts that any associations with the author of this blog are our fault, “unwarranted connections”.) Interestingly enough, after misrepresenting in print both my opinions (there are no quotes, only apparent paraphrases) and the people who contribute to this blog, we gave him the same scrutiny. That’s how we found out that he also misrepresents his own academic credentials (which he even claimed were “similar to mine”) by publicly stating in lecture and in print that he graduated from a university he did not graduate from. Yet Mr Guest doesn’t quite seem to understand the gravity of this issue, as his antagonism, dismissiveness, defensiveness, and blame-shifting continues unabated online. This pattern of misrepresenting the record is most unbecoming behavior for a columnist who deals with educational issues in trusted professional forums.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7850

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    12) Fun and Games at MOFA Passport Renewal — almost denied a passport because of one letter

    This will no doubt be put into the “shake your head in disbelief at Debito’s stubbornness” file by some, but here goes:

    Last Tuesday my Japanese passport expired. Yes, it’s been more than ten years since I became a Japanese citizen. What that means to me is a topic for another blog entry someday. But what happens every time I go in to the Foreign Ministry’s Passport Renewal Office happened again like clockwork — it’s becoming a MOFA tradition.

    So I went in on Tuesday and filled out my application as per normal (answer all the “you better say no” questions, mostly along the line of “are you a terrorist or criminal?”, correctly), and got all checked as normal: current passport (MOFA will later give it back cancelled, unlike, for example, international driver licenses issued in Japan), juuminhyou, koseki touhon (these were actually not necessary if the passport is still valid, which it was, darn it), and mug shot.

    But as is traditional, we got into a dispute about how to spell my name.

    Clerk: “You have to spell it in Hepburn Style. That means ARUDO or ARUDOH, not ARUDOU.”

    Here we go…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7750

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    13) Weird broadside from Japan Helpline’s Ken Joseph Jr. on Facebook: Claims my naturalization queers my campaigning

    Last Monday morning I got a request for a friending on Facebook by a Ken Joseph Jr. For those who have heard the name, he’s one of the advice columnists for the Japan Times Lifelines Page, and according to his website (email registry required), “Ken Joseph Jr. is an international columnist and speaker. He appears regularly on CNN, Foxnews, BBC, ITN and numerous radio outlets worldwide to give commentary on the news of the day from a background of personal experience. His columns regularly run in newspapers worldwide.”

    So imagine my surprise when I get a broadside from a person of this standing, mere hours after I friend him, accusing me of losing the argument by taking out Japanese citizenship (“Becoming Japanese negated your ability to stand up for the international community”), claiming I look like a nut for ever doing so, and demanding I get my American passport back. Problem is, the exchange makes him look more nutty, sad to say. And a number of other people soon jumped in to dispute the claims of ineffectuality.

    (Screen captures of my Facebook page where he tries to hijack an unrelated thread; printed, redacted, and scanned.)

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7769

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    14) Japan Times Amy Savoie on int’l child abductions and the manufacturing of consent for it within Japan

    Thoughtful letter to the editor in the Japan Times on the International Child Abductions Issue. Excerpting the most interesting part for me — the rhetoric the media uses to keep the public unconsciously supporting the “home team” as their apparent members keep kidnapping kids to Japan with impunity:

    Amy Savoie: The government tries to convey that it is justifiable for Japanese parents to “take kids home to Japan” (tsure-kaeri or tsurete-kikoku), but when a foreign parent takes the children to another country (that parent’s home country), the Japanese call it kidnapping (tsure-sari) or abduction (rachi). The Japanese government and media behave duplicitously every time they pretend these unilateral relocations (relocating without permission from the other parent) are not the same thing.

    Instead of describing both situations only as tsure-sari (or only as tsure-kaeri), the Japanese government cleverly (and intentionally) uses different sets of words that convey two totally different meanings depending on who the kidnapper is…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7789

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    15) Japan businesses cry foul over UK visa regime, threaten pullout. Fancy that happening to the GOJ.

    Here’s another entry for the “shoe on the other foot” department — how Japan businesses squeal “foul!” when they face visa restrictions on their Japanese hires within Britain, and threaten sanctions and pullouts. Imagine if a foreign government were to try to do that to Japan for its visa programs, which are technically designed to give backdoor preferential treatment to unskilled workers? I’m pretty sure people would comment that the GOJ has the right to regulate its borders as it sees fit. Never mind comity, I guess.

    Japan Times: “The JCCI has communicated to U.K. ministers and officials in September its strong concerns about the introduction of further limits on non-EU immigration and the possible impact on the existing operations and future investment of Japanese companies in the U.K.,” said Patrick Macartney, manager at the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry…

    Katsuji Jibiki, a human-resources manager at Mitsubishi Electric Europe, revealed at a recent business seminar that his firm has been denied work permits to recruit about 30 engineers from outside the European Union.

    He said, “These days we have big difficulties with work permits. Every year the government changes the policy and it is a big headache for us.”

    Jibiki added that if the problems persist “there is a possibility of transferring our regional headquarters from the U.K. to continental Europe. We are thinking about such contingency plans.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7910

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    FUTURE STORIES

    16) The Independent (UK) on Japan’s rising nationalism as Japan slips in world rankings

    Independent: Most Tokyo districts will fortunately never experience Makoto Sakurai and his noisy flag-waving mob. But the city’s normally quiet Moto-Azabu area is home to the Chinese embassy and there are few countries Sakurai hates more than China. His group’s favourite insult — directed at the embassy via megaphone — is shina-jin roughly equivalent to “chink”.

    “The Chinese are making fools of us,” said Sakurai, a baby-faced 30-something and the unlikely ringleader of what one academic calls: “Japan’s fiercest and most dangerous hate group today.” Like many nationalists, he is infuriated by what he sees as Chinese expansionism.

    “If Japan had any guts, it would stand up to them,” he said.

    Two decades ago, Japan was the rising Asian upstart that was barging its way on to the world’s front pages. “We are virtually at the mercy of the Japanese,” The LA Times famously blared in 1989, after a slew of high-profile takeovers by Japanese companies. Now it’s faltering Japan’s turn to tremble at the power of foreign capital; Chinese capital.

    Japan’s conservative media have been sounding alarm bells all year as the rumblings from China’s economic juggernaut grow louder. In a 24-page feature in March, the right-wing Sapio magazine warned that China is set to “buy up Japan”, noting how Chinese conglomerates are gobbling up real estate and forests and even eyeing uninhabited islands around Japan’s coast. Another magazine ran a front-page story titled “Your next boss could be Chinese”.

    Japan’s insecurity at its reduced status has been hammered home this week in a dispute with another neighbour. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s decision to visit one of four islands off northern Japan, seized by Moscow after the Second World War, was called “regrettable” by Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Sakurai’s followers were more blunt — and bitter. “Russia and China are both taking advantage of Japan’s weakness,” said one. “China has a dagger pointed at Japan’s heart — what are we going to do about it?”

    The disputes could not have come at a worse time…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7745

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    17) UK Guardian compares South Korea’s relatively open-minded future with Japan’s possible “Second Edo Period” of insulation

    Guardian: In mid-November, all eyes will shift to Seoul when G20 leaders convene for the first time in the South Korean capital. The choice is long overdue, as South Korea is a remarkable success story: in one generation — the South Koreans, formerly pummelled by civil war, under constant threat from their northern communist brethren, long mired in poverty, and ruled by military dictators for 40 years — have built the world’s 13th largest economy and Asia’s most vibrant democracy…

    The Japanese knew how to co-ordinate state and private-sector goals in the 1970s, but then lost their way. “We should now emulate the South Koreans,” says Eisuke Sakakibara, a leading Japanese economist, who was one of the architects of the Japanese “miracle” of the 1980s. Japanese in search of a miracle now travel to Seoul.

    “In Japan, 1990 to 2000 was called the ‘lost decade,’” says the free-market economist Fumio Hayashi. Now Japan is completing its second lost decade. Hayashi and Sakakibara — indeed, most Japanese economists– more or less agree on the fundamental reason for such spectacular stagnation: the Japanese have stopped working hard. Fewer hours worked, longer vacations, and a declining population (since 2005) have, predictably, undermined Japanese growth. To turn this situation around, says Sakakibara, “the Japanese should work more, have more children, and allow immigration.” But the incentives to make any of this happen are just not there…

    More strikingly, stagnation has found its promoters in Japan itself. A leading public intellectual Naoki Inose, who is also Tokyo’s vice governor, has declared that “the era of growth is over.” When Japan was threatened by western imperialism, he says, the country had to open up (in 1868) and modernise. This process has been completed. Japan is now ready to reconnect with its own tradition of social harmony and zero growth.

    Referring to the 1600-1868 period, Inose calls this future the New Edo era: “A smaller population will enjoy the sufficient wealth that has been accumulated, and, from now on, it will invest its creativity in refining the culture.”…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7794

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    18) Times Higher Education on MEXT: “Japan’s entrenched ideas hinder the push to attract more foreign students and staff”

    THE: Frequently used as an empty slogan in the expansive years of Japan’s economic growth, internationalisation has once more been chosen as a watchword by the government — this time as the foundation for attempts to revive the country’s moribund education system.

    With only two of its institutions appearing in the top 100 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2010-11, Japan’s standing has been adversely affected by a dearth of international students and scholars.

    In an attempt to address the issue, the Ministry of Education last year introduced the “Global 30″ project, which has set a target for more than 130 undergraduate and graduate courses to be conducted entirely in English by April 2013.

    But in the wake of cuts to public spending, the ambitious plan to involve 30 colleges has been whittled down to 13 institutions seen as future “global education hubs”.

    As part of the same initiative, Japan has also set a target to increase the number of international students in the country to 300,000 by 2020 from the current figure of 130,000…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7616

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    19) Eurobiz Magazine’s Tony McNicol on the future abolition of the “Gaijin Tax” Re-Entry Permits

    Eurobiz Magazine a couple of months ago ran an article talking inter alia about something I’ve called the “Gaijin Tax” for more than a decade now — the Re-Entry Permit system. Thought of by some as a way of punishing the Zainichi Koreans etc. for staying behind in Japan (given all the incentives for them to leave after being stripped of colonial Japanese citizenship, moreover registered as foreigners in the late 1940s), the Re-Entry Permit actually is a tax with a profit motive — even the lecturer cited by Tony McNicol below states this openly about its proposed abolition:

    Without re-entry permit income, currently JPY6,000 for multiple re-entry, the changes are likely to lighten the government’s coffers. “This is a huge reduction in our revenue,” said Matsuno. “The Ministry of Finance is angry.”

    What a piece of work our government can be. Charging for visas for foreigners and passports for nationals is one thing (and I just paid 16,000 yen for a new ten-year Japanese passport; ouch). But charging foreigners for their addiction to going “home” (or for even daring to leave Japan) with their visa held hostage, well, that’s just as I’ve suspected all along — a mean-spirited means to sponge off the NJ population. Good riddance to it.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7767

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    20) CBC interview with me on Japan’s shrinking population and prospects for immigration

    CBC Radio One, Nov 16, 2010 ● Pt 2: Japan’s Population Crash

    The population of Japan is shrinking. Other countries have tackled that problem by embracing immigration. But Japan is an unusually homogenous — some say xenophobic — country. And the idea of a multi-cultural solution is ruffling some feathers.

    Japan Population Crash ● Sakanaka Hidenori

    The population of Japan is officially shrinking. In 2005 — the latest year for which data is available — deaths outnumbered births by 10,000 people. At that rate, Japan’s population will drop by more than 15 per cent over the next 40 years. On top of that, Japan’s population is an aging one — facing fears of labour shortages and economic stagnation in the world’s third-largest economy.

    Other countries have responded to declining population pressures by increasing immigration. But Japan is an unusually homogenous nation. And the idea of multi-culturalism ruffles a lot of feathers.

    Sakanaka Hidenori spent 35 years urging his country to bring in more immigrants. He is the former Director of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau. And in 2005 he wrote, Immigration Battle Diary, a book that details his own experiences and lays out a manifesto for the future of Japanese immigration policy. Sakanaka Hidenori is now the Executive Director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute. He joined us from Tokyo this morning, as part of our project, Shift. Our producer, Chris Wodskou provided the translation.

    Japan Population Crash — Ito Peng

    Arudou Debito was born in the United States. He’s a naturalized citizen of Japan. He married a Japanese woman, and they had two daughters. But he’s not very optimistic when it comes to increasing immigration to Japan. We aired his story to illustrate why.

    For more on how Japan has reached this demographic reckoning — And what the rest of the world should take from it, we were joined by Ito Peng. She’s the Associate Dean of Interdisciplinary and International Affairs at the University of Toronto.

    Listen at http://www.debito.org/?p=7831

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    21) For Educators in Japan: National EFL Job Satisfaction Survey

    Forwarding: Dear colleagues: My name is Douglas Meyer, and I have been an EFL teacher in Japan for about 14 years now. Recently, I have become more and more interested in the wide-ranging working conditions at various schools in Japan, and what other teachers thought about their job. I did some looking, and found that there is very little information on this topic.

    So, as a personal research project, I started to work last fall on two surveys which aim to paint a picture of the language teacher, his or her thoughts, opinions, and ideas on a number of language-related issues that we all face. If you have 5-10 minutes, I would greatly appreciate your input via the on-line survey links below. It is 100% anonymous, and I will make the results available to anyone upon request.

    On-line survey for college and university language teachers:
    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NZZ85RV

    On-line survey for elementary, middle, and high school language teachers:
    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/D5LM52D

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    … and finally …

    22) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Nov 2, 2010: ‘Homogeneous,’ ‘unique’ myths stunt discourse in Japan Studies

    THE JAPAN TIMES: JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN
    ‘Homogeneous,’ ‘unique’ myths stunt discourse
    By DEBITO ARUDOU
    Courtesy
    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20101102ad.html
    Version with links to discussion and sources at
    http://www.debito.org/?p=7719

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    All for today. In Tokyo for most of next week, will try to have news to you about my next Japan Times column, out December 7! Thanks for reading!

    Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 27, 2010 ENDS

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    CBC interview on Japan’s shrinking population and prospects for immigration

    Posted on Thursday, November 18th, 2010

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    Hi Blog.  Here’s an interview I was invited to give in early October with Canada’s CBC Radio One, which was broadcast yesterday. Thanks for that, CBC.  Link to where you can listen to it, and the writeup on their website follows:

    http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2010/11/16/nov-1610—pt-2-japans-population-crash/

    /////////////////////////////////

    CBC Radio One, Nov 16, 2010 – Pt 2: Japan’s Population Crash, courtesy of MH&P.

    The population of Japan is shrinking. Other countries have tackled that problem by embracing immigration. But Japan is an unusually homogenous — some say xenophobic — country. And the idea of a multi-cultural solution is ruffling some feathers.

    Japan Population Crash – Sakanaka Hidenori

    The population of Japan is officially shrinking. In 2005 — the latest year for which data is available — deaths outnumbered births by 10,000 people. At that rate, Japan’s population will drop by more than 15 per cent over the next 40 years. On top of that, Japan’s population is an aging one … facing fears of labour shortages and economic stagnation in the world’s third-largest economy.

    Other countries have responded to declining population pressures by increasing immigration. But Japan is an unusually homogenous nation. And the idea of multi-culturalism ruffles a lot of feathers.

    Sakanaka Hidenori spent 35 years urging his country to bring in more immigrants. He is the former Director of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau. And in 2005 he wrote, Immigration Battle Diary, a book that details his own experiences and lays out a manifesto for the future of Japanese immigration policy. Sakanaka Hidenori is now the Executive Director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute. He joined us from Tokyo this morning, as part of our project, Shift. Our producer, Chris Wodskou provided the translation.

    Japan Population Crash – Ito Peng

    Arudou Debito was born in the United States. He’s a naturalized citizen of Japan. He married a Japanese woman, and they had two daughters. But he’s not very optimistic when it comes to increasing immigration to Japan. We aired his story to illustrate why.

    For more on how Japan has reached this demographic reckoning… And what the rest of the world should take from it, we were joined by Ito Peng. She’s the Associate Dean of Interdisciplinary and International Affairs at the University of Toronto.

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    COMMENT:  I come in from minute 11:55.  Sounds like I was in good voice that morning (we got to the radio station in Calgary at 8:30AM for a 9AM interview.  Good thing we did; the interviewer was late, and questions were a bit half-baked; it seemed as if she had forgotten our appointment).

    Frankly, I’m a bit disappointed with the contents.  There was a good interactive interview with Sakanaka-san, who deserves it.  Also one with Dr Peng.  But all I got was a short storytelling of the Otaru Onsens Case (and an incomplete one at that — I never got my bit in about how even a naturalized citizen was treated by Yunohana Onsen, so Dr Peng then responds that it’s too bad foreigners got treated that way even though it’s not an issue of nationality); nothing else from a significantly longer interview.  Instead, we got Dr Peng talking inter alia about naturalization — incorrectly, too; one does not need a sponsor to naturalize (it’s not a work visa), one’s identity need not be that subsumed, etc.  Why doesn’t the person who actually went through the process get asked about it?  Because I’m not sure a question about it was actually prepared for my interview (don’t remember; it’s been six weeks).  Also would have liked a bit more research done and mentioned on my katagaki too (plenty of people marry and have children in Japan, so I would hope they contacted me because they thought I had something a bit more authoritative to say).

    Ah well.  At least the subject of Japan’s future and the need for a possibility of immigration was broached.  Thanks for that, CBC.  Arudou Debito

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Immigration & Assimilation, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 8 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 7, 2010

    Posted on Monday, June 7th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
    UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 7, 2010

    Table of Contents:

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    MORE DEBATES FROM BIZARROLAND
    1) Eikawa GEOS claims in NZ court that workplace harassment is “The Japanese Way”, loses big
    2) JIPI’s Sakanaka in Daily Yomiuri: “Japan must become immigration powerhouse” (English only, it seems)
    3) Japan Times satirical piece on Gunma Isesaki bureaucrat beard ban
    4) Kyodo: MOFA conducts online survey on parental child abductions and signing Hague Convention (in Japanese only)
    5) Japan Times exposes dissent amidst scientist claims that eating dolphin is not dangerous
    6) Economist London column on DPJ woes, passim on how senile Tokyo Gov Ishihara seems to be getting
    7) Mark in Yayoi comments on Futenma affair: grant Okinawa its independence from Japan!
    8 ) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JUNE 1, 2010 (Japanese), May 15 speech in Kani-shi, Gifu-ken

    UPDATES
    9) AFP: Another hunger strike in Immigration Detention Center, this time in Ushiku, Ibaraki
    10) Robert Dujarric in Japan Times: Immigrants can buoy Japan as its regional power gives way to China
    11) Tangent: Yomiuri: Nouveau riche Chinese buying up Japan, Niseko

    … and finally…

    12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column June 1, 2010: Okinawa Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy (full text)

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////
    By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
    RSS feeds, daily updates at www.debito.org. Twitter arudoudebito
    Freely forwardable

    MORE DEBATES FROM BIZARROLAND

    1) Eikawa GEOS claims in NZ court that workplace harassment is “The Japanese Way”, loses big

    NZ Herald: The boss of a multi-national English language school in Auckland has been awarded $190,000 after an employment tribunal dismissed claims he was used to being treated “the Japanese way”.

    David Page was stripped of his job as regional director of GEOS New Zealand at a conference in 2008 and demoted to head of the company’s Auckland language centre.

    In April last year, he was fired by email after being given “one last chance” to make the school profitable.

    Page launched an unfair dismissal claim against GEOS, which comes under the umbrella of the GEOS Corporation founded by Japanese businessman Tsuneo Kusunoki.

    But the company responded by claiming that Page “accepted understanding of the ‘Japanese way’ of doing business”. They went on to say he was used to Kusunoki “ranting”, “berating” and “humiliating” people “so this was nothing new”.

    But the Employment Relations Authority said the company’s failings were “fundamental and profound”.

    Member Denis Asher said the final warning was “an unscrupulous exploitation of the earlier, unlawful demotion”. He said: “A conclusion that the ‘Japanese way’ already experienced by Mr Page was continuing to be applied is difficult to avoid.”

    COMMENT: GEOS forgot this ain’t a Japanese courtroom where this actually might wash. They lose. Just goes to show you that what are considered working standards in Japan towards NJ (or anybody, really) aren’t something that will pass without sanction in other fellow developed societies. Attitudes like these will only deter other NJ from working in Japanese companies in future. Idiots.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6810

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    2) JIPI’s Sakanaka in Daily Yomiuri: “Japan must become immigration powerhouse” (English only, it seems)

    Sakanaka Hidenori, former head of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau who has been written about on Debito.org various times, had an article on the need for immigration to Japan in the Daily Yomiuri the other day. Happy to see. However, I can’t find a Japanese version in the paper anywhere. Tut. Excerpt follows:

    “My view is that a low birthrate is unavoidable as a civilization matures.

    Other industrially advanced countries have also turned into societies with low birthrates as they have matured. Advancements in education, increased urbanization, the empowerment of women and diversification of lifestyles also exemplify the maturity of a society.

    Japan, a mature civilization, should expect to experience a low birthrate for at least the foreseeable future.

    Even if the government’s measures succeed in increasing the birthrate sharply and cause the population to increase, any era of population growth is far away and will be preceded by a stage of “few births and few deaths,” where there are declines in both birth and mortality rates.

    Accordingly, the only long-term solution for alleviating the nation’s population crisis is a government policy of accepting immigrants. Promotion of an effective immigration policy will produce an effect in a far shorter time period than steps taken to raise the nation’s birthrate.

    We, the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, propose that Japan accept 10 million immigrants over the next 50 years.

    We believe that to effectively cope with a crisis that threatens the nation’s existence, Japan must become an “immigration powerhouse” by letting manpower from around the world enter the country.”…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6788

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    3) Japan Times satirical piece on Gunma Isesaki bureaucrat beard ban

    Jay Klaphake: I would like to draw readers’ attention to the outstanding work of the municipal government of Isesaki, Gunma Prefecture. After receiving complaints that citizens find bearded men unpleasant, Isesaki — just as all levels of Japanese government often do — took decisive action to address an important public concern: The city announced a ban on beards for municipal workers…

    Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has been quick to point to surveys that show government workers with beards are more likely to be supporters of voting rights for non-Japanese residents than clean-shaven employees. Excessive facial hair could even be used to mask an individual’s foreign roots, meaning that many of the hirsute could be naturalized citizens or children of naturalized citizens…

    A legal defense committee led by human-rights advocate Debito Arudou (of course he has a beard) and law professor Colin P. A. Jones is looking into whether Isesaki used off-budget secret funds to operate a barbershop in the basement of City Hall and provided free haircuts and shaves to public employees. Arudou reportedly tried to enter the barbershop but was refused access because his beard didn’t look Japanese, even though he insisted that his beard did, in fact, become Japanese several years ago.

    Professor Jones has apparently filed a freedom of information request for documents detailing whether, and how much of, taxpayers’ money was used for the secret project. In response, the city said that no such documents could be found, no such barbershop exists, and furthermore it would be a violation of the privacy of the barber to say anything more…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6825

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    4) Kyodo: MOFA conducts online survey on parental child abductions and signing Hague Convention (in Japanese only)

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has just started asking for opinions from the public regarding Japan’s ascension to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (which provides guidelines for dealing with cases of children being taken across borders without the consent of both parents, as well as establishing custody and visitation).

    Sounds good until you consider the contexts. We’ve already had a lot of Japanese media portraying the Japanese side of an international marriage as victims, fleeing an abusive NJ. Even the odd crackpot lawyer gets airtime saying that signing the Hague will only empower the wrong side of the divorce (i.e. the allegedly violent and-by-the-way foreign side), justifying Japan keeping its status as a safe haven. Even the Kyodo article below shies away from calling this activity “abduction” by adding “so-called” inverted quotes (good thing the Convention says it plainly).

    But now we have the MOFA officially asking for public opinions from the goldfish bowl. Despite the issue being one of international marriage and abduction, the survey is in Japanese only. Fine for those NJ who can read and comment in the language. But it still gives an undeniable advantage to the GOJ basically hearing only the “Japanese side” of the divorce. Let’s at least have it in English as well, shall we?

    Kyodo article below, along with the text of the survey in Japanese and unofficial English translation. Is it just me, or do the questions feel just a tad leading, asking you to give reasons why Japan shouldn’t sign? In any case, I find it hard to imagine an aggrieved J parent holding all the aces (not to mention the kids) saying, “Sure, sign the Hague, eliminate our safe haven and take away my power of custody and revenge.” That’s why we need both sides of the story, with I don’t believe this survey is earnestly trying to get.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6777

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    5) Japan Times exposes dissent amidst scientist claims that eating dolphin is not dangerous

    Excerpt: On May 10, in a front-page lead story headlined “Taiji locals test high for mercury,” The Japan Times reported the results of tests by the National Institute of Minamata Disease (NIMD) that found “extremely high methyl-mercury (MeHg) concentrations in the hair of some residents of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, where people have a tradition of eating whale and dolphin.”

    Meanwhile, commenting on Okamoto’s advice for Taiji residents that it is “important that they decide what they should eat,” Dr. Pal Wiehe, chief physician in the Department of Occupational Medicine, Public Health in the Danish-controlled Faroe Islands, said, “This is inappropriate advice… We have seen over a period of time that there were negative impacts at all levels in our neurological, physiological and psychological tests that were irreversible.”…

    Whatever the attempts in Japan to ignore questions surrounding the NIMD’s approval for Japanese citizens to continue eating toxic dolphin, however, one of America’s leading neurologists, Florida-based Dr. David Permutter — a recipient of the prestigious Linus Pauling Functional Medicine Award for his research into brain disease — was far less inhibited…

    “These levels (of MeHg) are dramatically elevated. This practice of serving dolphin meat is tantamount to poisoning people; they may as well serve them arsenic, it would be no less harmful! What they’re doing is wrong on every count; it’s the wrong thing to do for the people and the wrong thing to do for the dolphins. No matter how you look at this, it’s perverse — it’s a tragedy and it should be condemned. If the role of government is to protect the people, then they’re failing miserably in their role.”

    COMMENT: It’s not the first time I’ve seen GOJ/public pressure interfere with the scientific community in Japan. Two examples come to mind, archived at Debito.org: 1) Japan’s Demographic Science making “Immigration” a Taboo Topic, and 2) Apple Imports and the Tanii Suicide Case.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6793

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    6) Economist London column on DPJ woes, passim on how senile Tokyo Gov Ishihara seems to be getting

    Here’s an (outdated, but still) thought-provoking essay on Japanese politics from The Economist (London). Within it is a vignette on Tokyo Governor Ishihara getting all pissy about how Japanese men are being emasculated, based upon the way they are allegedly being forced to urinate. The other points within the essay are more important, but I find it singularly impressive how a leader of one of the world’s cities could go off on such an irrelevant and unprofessional tangent before a member of the international press (who, charitably, passes it off as the rantings of a grumpy old man). That’s just one more signal to me, however, of how senile Ishihara has become. Only one more year of the man left in office, fortunately.

    Excerpt: “A black dog of a depression has settled back over the country’s politics, affecting both main parties. In opposition the LDP has unravelled with impressive speed. In late April the country’s favourite politician, Yoichi Masuzoe, a rare combination in the LDP of ambition and ideas, joined a stream of high-profile defectors forming new parties. He calls for refreshing change: deregulation, decentralisation and — crucially for a country with too many paws on the levers of power — a halving of the number in the Diet (parliament).

    For the moment, such groupings have not captured the public imagination. They contain too many lone wolves and grumpy old men, such as the governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, who is responsible for the naming of one notable new party, Tachiagare Nippon!●literally, Stand Up, Japan! When Banyan once called on him, he launched into a tirade about Japanese men cowed by their womenfolk into sitting down when they pee.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6757

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    7) Mark in Yayoi comments on Futenma affair: grant Okinawa its independence from Japan!

    Mark in Yayoi on Okinawa Futenma Issue: Debito, when reading your essay, I was surprised to find that I agreed with you, but for almost totally opposite reasons…

    The American occupation of Okinawa, unjust as it might be, is a net benefit to the mainland Tokyo government, which gets protection while simultaneously pretending that it’s “Japan” bearing the burden when in fact it’s Okinawa that suffers — they’re the people putting up with the loud airplanes and unruly soldiers. And these people bearing the cost of the protection were never seen as equals by Tokyo — they were used as human shields in a hopeless defense of Japan in 1945, and used as tax-paying slaves in the decades before that.

    The US bases need to leave, and Okinawa needs to be free. Not free from the US, and not free to be Japan’s 47th prefecture (both chronologically and on the status totem pole), but free to be *its own independent nation.*

    Exactly what “sovereignty” can the Tokyo government legitimately claim over the people of Okinawa, if we’re trying to redress past wrongs?...

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6828

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    8 ) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JUNE 1, 2010 (Japanese), May 15 speech in Kani-shi, Gifu-ken

    This month’s podcast is a speech I gave in Japanese last month in Gifu Prefecture, Kani City.

    Talk title: “Otonari ni gaikokujin ga kitara…”, where I’m discussing what needs to be done to help NJ assimilate.

    I am reading from a powerpoint. Follow along with me if you like at http://www.debito.org/kanishi051510.ppt

    1hr 40 minutes, uncut. Hear me in action.

    Download free from iTunes or listen at
    http://www.debito.org/?p=6813

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    UPDATES

    9) AFP: Another hunger strike in Immigration Detention Center, this time in Ushiku, Ibaraki

    AFP: Scores of foreigners in a Japanese immigration detention centre have been on hunger strike for more than a week, demanding to be released and protesting the mysterious death of an African deportee.

    Some 70 detainees — many of them Sri Lankans and Pakistanis — have refused food since May 10, also seeking to highlight suicides there by a Brazilian and a South Korean inmate, say their outside supporters.

    The protest comes after UN rights envoy Jorge Bustamante in March raised concerns about Japan’s often years-long detentions of illegal migrants, including parents with children as well as rejected asylum seekers…

    Human rights activists, lawyers and foreign communities have complained for years about conditions at Ushiku and Japan’s two other such facilities, in the western prefecture of Osaka and in southwestern Nagasaki prefecture.

    At Ushiku, about 380 people are detained, with eight or nine inmates living in rooms that measure about 20 square metres (215 square feet), said Tanaka, a member of the Ushiku Detention Centre Problem Study Group.

    “They are crammed into tiny segmented rooms that are not very clean, and many contract skin diseases,” she told AFP…

    Hiroka Shoji of Amnesty International Japan said: “The immigration facilities are supposed to be places where authorities keep foreigners for a short period before deportation.

    “But some people have been confined for over two years as a result. The government must introduce a limit to detentions.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6745

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    10) Robert Dujarric in Japan Times: Immigrants can buoy Japan as its regional power gives way to China

    Excerpt: It is not possible to spend more than a few minutes with a Japanese diplomat or scholar without hearing the “C,” namely China. Most of them are convinced that the People’s Republic is expanding its global influence while Japan’s is shrinking. The entire world, and most worryingly Asia, which used to look toward Japan when Harvard scholar Ezra Vogel crowned it “No. 1– now sees China not only as the country of the future but already as today’s only Asian giant…

    There is one area, however, where Japan could engage in a strategy that would simultaneously help its economy and give it an edge over China. This is immigration. Japan is unique among economies that are highly developed and in demographic decline in having so few immigrants. In fact, even European states that are in much better demographic condition also have large numbers of foreigners and recently naturalized citizens in their labor force.

    The domestic economic advantages of a more open immigration policy are well documented. What is less understood is how it can be used as a foreign policy instrument. If Japan were home to several million guest workers, the country would become the lifeline of tens of millions of individuals back in their homeland who would benefit from the remittances of their relatives in the archipelago. Its economic role in the lives of some of these countries would become second to none. Many individuals would start to study Japanese, in the hope of one day working in the country…

    COMMENT: If Japan offers the promise of domestic work, and if “Many individuals would start to study Japanese, in the hope of one day working in the country.”, then it had better make good on the promise of offering equal opportunity for advancement and assimilation regardless of background, by enacting laws that protect against discrimination. We were made a similar promise under the purported “kokusaika” of the Bubble Era. That’s why many of our generation came to Japan in the first place, and decades later feel betrayed by the perpetual second-class status.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6741

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    11) Tangent: Yomiuri: Nouveau riche Chinese buying up Japan, Niseko

    Yomiuri: China has also replaced Australia as the main foreign player in tourism and investment in and around Niseko, a southwestern Hokkaido town recently popular among foreign visitors as a ski resort.

    “Australia was once the chief player in tourism and investment here. Since the [global] financial crisis, however, there has been an increase in the number of Chinese companies [conducting such activities],” Tomokazu Aoki, a senior official of Niseko Promotion Board Co.’s secretariat, said.

    Founded in 1897, Niseko’s Yamada Onsen Hotel is renowned as the first resort to be built in the area. However, sold to a Chinese corporation this year, the hotel will reportedly be rebuilt as a villa-style accomodation.

    A relative newcomer, the Hanazono ski resort has also been acquired by a foreign buyer, a Hong Kong-based communications company.

    All this means progress and the go-ahead for further resort development in Niseko.

    In April, The Times, a British newspaper, carried an article that read: “Chinese visitors to Niseko used to take a simple view of apres-ski: head to the nearest izakaya and scoff as much Hokkaido crab as possible. Nowadays, after the last run of the day, they scramble for the nearest real estate agent. The Chinese who come to this resort generally have money, are hungry for luxury and find a Japan that, increasingly, is for sale at knockdown prices.”

    A local real estate agent said, “Most villas here are priced between 50 million yen and 100 million yen. Few Japanese can purchase such property, but there are Chinese paying cash to buy them.”

    The business-savvy Chinese view the resorts as moneymaking assets and rent the villas out to tourists except when they themselves wish to stay there. This can earn them annual profits equivalent to about 5 percent of the villas’ original purchase price.

    It is a trend that is set to continue. Teikoku Databank Ltd. estimates more than 300 Japanese corporations are currently funded by Chinese capital. Honma Golf Co., a major golf equipment manufacturer, is one of the latest — it became a Chinese subsidiary this year.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6773

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    … and finally…

    12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column June 1, 2010: Okinawa Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy (full text)

    JUST BE CAUSE
    Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy
    The Japan Times: Tuesday, June 1, 2010
    By DEBITO ARUDOU

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100601ad.html

    Times are tough for the Hatoyama Cabinet. It’s had to backtrack on several campaign promises. Its approval ratings have plummeted to around 20 percent. And that old bone of contention — what to do about American military bases on Japanese soil — has resurfaced again.

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100430a1.html

    The Okinawa Futenma base relocation issue is complicated, and Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has devoted too much time to a battle he simply cannot win. If the American troops stay as is, Okinawan protests will continue and rifts within the Cabinet will grow. If the troops are moved within Japan, excessive media attention will follow and generate more anti-Hatoyama and anti-American sentiment. If the troops leave Japan entirely, people will grumble about losing American money.

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100526a1.html

    So let’s ask the essential question: Why are U.S. bases still in Japan?

    One reason is inertia. America invaded Okinawa in 1945, and the bases essentially remain as spoils of war. Even after Okinawa’s return to Japan in 1972, one-sixth of Okinawa is technically still occupied, hosting 75 percent of America’s military presence in Japan. We also have the knock-on effects of Okinawan dependency on the bases (I consider it a form of “economic alcoholism”), and generations of American entrenchment lending legitimacy to the status quo.

    Another reason is Cold War ideology. We hear arguments about an unsinkable aircraft carrier (as if Okinawa is someplace kept shipshape for American use), a bulwark against a pugilistic North Korea or a rising China (as if the DPRK has the means or China has the interest to invade, especially given other U.S. installations in, say, South Korea or Guam). But under Cold War logic including “deterrence” and “mutually assured destruction,” the wolf is always at the door; woe betide anyone who lets their guard down and jeopardizes regional security.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsinkable_aircraft_carrier

    Then there’s the American military’s impressive job of preying on that insecurity. According to scholar Chalmers Johnson, as of 2005 there were 737 American military bases outside the U.S. (an actual increase since the Cold War ended) and 2.5 million U.S. military personnel serving worldwide. What happened to the “peace dividend” promised two decades ago after the fall of the Berlin Wall? Part of it sunk into places like Okinawa.

    http://www.alternet.org/story/47998/

    But one more reason demonstrates an underlying arrogance within the American government: “keeping the genie in the bottle” — the argument that Japan also needs to be deterred, from remilitarizing. The U.S. military’s attitude seems to be that they are here as a favor to us.

    Some favor. As history shows, once the Americans set up a base abroad, they don’t leave. They generally have to lose a war (as in Vietnam), have no choice (as in the eruption of Pinatubo in the Philippines), or be booted out by a dictator (as in Uzbekistan). Arguments about regional balances of power are wool over the eyes. Never mind issues of national sovereignty — the demands of American empire require that military power be stationed abroad. Lump it, locals.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Pinatubo

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/29/AR2005072902038.html

    But in this case there’s a new complication: The Futenma issue is weakening Japan’s government.

    Hatoyama has missed several deadlines for a resolution (while the American military has stalled negotiations for years without reprisal), enabling detractors to portray him as indecisive. He’s had to visit Okinawa multiple times to listen to locals and explain. Meanwhile, the opposition Liberal Democratic Party claims Hatoyama is reneging on a promise (which is spoon-bitingly hypocritical, given the five decades the LDP completely ignored Okinawa, and the fact that Hatoyama has basically accepted an accord concluded by the LDP themselves in 2006). And now, with Mizuho Fukushima’s resignation from the Cabinet, the coalition government is in jeopardy.

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100525a6.html

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20100530a1.html

    Futenma is taking valuable time away from other policies that concern Japan, such as corruption and unaccountability, growing domestic economic inequality, crippling public debts, and our future in the world as an aging society.

    As the momentum ebbs from his administration, Hatoyama is in a no-win situation. But remember who put him there. If America really is the world’s leading promoter of democracy, it should consider how it is undermining Japan’s political development. After nearly 60 years of corrupt one-party rule, Japan finally has a fledgling two-party system. Yet that is withering on the vine thanks to American geopolitical manipulation.

    We keep hearing how Japan’s noncooperation will weaken precious U.S.-Japan ties. But those ties have long been a leash — one the U.S., aware of how susceptible risk-averse Japan is to “separation anxiety,” yanks at whim. The “threatened bilateral relationship” claim is disingenuous — the U.S. is more concerned with bolstering its military-industrial complex than with Asia’s regional stability.

    In sum, it’s less a matter of Japan wanting the U.S. bases to stay, more a matter of the U.S. bases not wanting to leave. Japan is a sovereign country, so the Japanese government has the final say. If that means U.S. forces relocating or even leaving completely, the U.S. should respectfully do so without complaint, not demand Japan find someplace else for them to go. That is not Japan’s job.

    Yet our politicians have worked hard for decades to represent the U.S. government’s interests to the Japanese public. Why? Because they always have.

    The time has come to stop being prisoners of history. World War II and the Cold War are long over.

    That’s why this columnist says: Never mind Futenma. All U.S. bases should be withdrawn from Japanese soil, period. Anachronisms, the bases have not only created conflicts of interest and interfered with Japan’s sovereignty, they are now incapacitating our government. Japan should slip the collar of U.S. encampments and consider a future under a less dependent, more equal relationship with the U.S.

    ———————————

    Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments to community@japantimes.co.jp

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    That’s all for today. Thanks to everyone for reading!
    Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
    RSS feeds, daily updates at www.debito.org. Twitter arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 7, 2010 ENDS

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 24, 2010

    Posted on Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
    UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

    Hi Blog. Forgot to blog this. Enjoy. Debito in Sapporo

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 24, 2010

    Table of Contents
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    PROACTIVE POLICYMAKING TOWARDS NJ
    1) Tokyo Gov Ishihara encourages witch hunt for J politicians with naturalized ancestors
    2) Xenophobic rantings of the Far-Right still continue despite NJ Suffrage Bill’s suspension; scanned flyers enclosed
    3) Gaijin Card Checks expand to Tax Bureau, now required for filing household tax returns
    4) Mutantfrog on Death of Yokoso Japan, plus birth of Welcome to Tokyo
    5) Asahi: J companies abandoning old hiring and promotion practices, offering NJ employees equitable positions. Come again?
    6) Eurobiz Japan Magazine Jan 2010 Interview of JIPI’s Sakanaka Hidenori
    7) “Pinprick Protests” #1: GOJ authorities finally telling hotels correct enforcement procedures for NJ check-ins. Pity it only took five years.

    ISSUES RESPARKED
    8 ) Ghanian dies while being deported March 22, scant media on it
    9) FCCJ Press Conf on Ghanian death while being deported, 2 more deaths in Ibaraki Detention Ctr
    10) Japan Times on Suraj Case: Wife of Ghanian who died while being deported demands info on cause
    11) GhanaWeb: Suraj apparently a son of a Ghanian Prince
    12) Japan Times on “Little Black Sambo” controversy, cites Debito.org’s parody “Little Yellow J*p”
    13) Case study about university contract termination of NJ reversed due to getting a lawyer
    14) Kyodo: Japan’s depopulation accelerates in 2009

    TANGENTS
    15) Tokyo Shinbun: Fussa City bureaucrat blames NJ residents for more children’s cavities!
    16) Sumo Suits Controversy in Canada
    17) NJ and Abandoned Konketsuji Negishi Cemetery in Yokohama; photos included
    18) Congratulations to Oguri Saori for her successful opening of “Darling wa Gaikokujin” movie

    … and finally…
    19) Debito.org Poll: “Do you think ‘Little Black Sambo’ should be in print and in educational institutions in Japan?”
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org) in Sapporo, Japan
    Freely Forwardable

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    PROACTIVE POLICYMAKING TOWARDS NJ

    1) Tokyo Gov Ishihara encourages witch hunt for J politicians with naturalized ancestors

    Tokyo Governor Ishihara’s latest rant has him accusing the ruling parties of having naturalized citizens for ancestors, therefore they want NJ PR suffrage. This latest smear campaign has finally turned Ishihara from a committed politician into a politician who should be committed.

    It hardly bears fully iterating, but: Here we have this dangerous tendency of Ishihara solidifying into a fully-formed ideology, based upon the fundamental tenets that 1) foreigners cannot be trusted, 2) foreigners are always foreigners, even if they are Japanese citizens for generations, 3) foreigners think along blood lines and will work against Japanese interests if their blood is not Japanese. In other words, personal belief is a matter of genetics. But these blood-based arguments went out of fashion a few generations ago when we saw that they led to things such as pogroms and genocides. Yet some of the most powerful people in Japan (in this case the governor of one of the world’s major cities) not only fervently believe it, but also create political parties to rally others around it.

    This is beyond pathological racism. This is the febrile insanity of a mean old man who has long since lost control of himself and his grasp of reality after so many years in power. And as evidenced above, he will even encourage xenophobic witch hunts for people on allegations of blood and ethnicity to push a political agenda that has one horrible conclusion: hatred, exclusion, and silencing of others.

    Dietmember Fukushima is right to call it racial discrimination and call for a retraction (and threaten legal action). But she must also make it clear to the public that even if somebody was naturalized, it is not a problem: Naturalized Japanese are real Japanese too. Otherwise there’s no point to naturalization. But for people like Ishihara, that IS the point; as I’ve written before, it makes no difference to racists whether or not people become Japanese citizens, despite the protests of those opposing votes for NJ PRs. “If they want the right to vote, they should naturalize” has been and always will be a red herring to genuine xenophobes, so see it for what it is — a Trojan Horse of an argument camouflaging racism as reasonableness.

    These are the people who should be booted from power. Give NJ PRs the vote and we’re one step closer. Don’t, and these bigots only grow stronger.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6564

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    2) Xenophobic rantings of the Far-Right still continue despite NJ Suffrage Bill’s suspension; scanned flyers enclosed

    For some people, anything is an excuse for a party. Especially if it’s a Political Party. For the Far-Right xenophobes in Japan, it’s their party and they’ll decry if they want to — as they continue their anti-NJ rantings, even when they’ve effectively shouted down the NJ Suffrage Bill the DPJ proposed after they came to power last August. Everyone has to have a hobby, it seems. Pity theirs is based upon hatred of NJ, particularly our geopolitical neighbors. Two submissions of primary source materials and posters enclosed below, one from Debito.org Reader AS, one from me that I picked up when I was in Tokyo last March, which led to a rally reported on in the Japan Times and Kyodo the other day. Drink in the invective and see how naked and bold Japan’s xenophobia is getting.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6509

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    3) Gaijin Card Checks expand to Tax Bureau, now required for filing household tax returns

    As a natural extension of the strengthened policing of NJ by the GOJ (for we can only anticipate what scams NJ might get up to, untrustworthy lot), starting with fingerprinting them at the border every time as potential terrorists, criminals, and disease carriers, then tracking their money wherever they earn it, we now have the Tax Bureau doing the Immigration Bureau’s job of checking visa status if NJ were so good as to file their own tax forms. How dare they engage in such suspicious activities! It’s all part of expanding Gaijin Card Checks to unrelated agencies nationwide.

    KYA writes: Can someone help me shed some light on this situation? I’ve filed my taxes in Japan every year for the past 8 years. I can’t swear that I ws never asked for a gaijin card or other form of ID before, but I KNOW that last year I wasn’t, wasn’t even asked to fill out that form asking how many days you spent in and out of the country, etc (I was asked to do that one two or three times, definitely not every year). And I know that my refund has NEVER been delayed, I’ve always filed early and got my money back early.

    But this year, I filed my return in early March, and until today had heard nothing. Today, [I got a form in the mail requiring my Gaijin Card] (reproduced). I called immediately, asked why they needed it and if it was necessary, and got a big variety of non-answers in response. The first time I called, the person whose name was on the letter wasn’t there, so the guy who answered the phone said he’d answer my questions — I probably got more honest answers from him, although he was a bit of a jerk. He said that it’s always been like this, it’s not starting from this year, and that if I never had to do it before, it was because the person reviewing my return in the past decided that my name sounded Japanese enough, but that whoever did it this year thought it sounded foreign. I did challenge this, and asked him if it was okay to just judge people and choose who to question and delay based on their NAME, would he have done the same to one of the many Japanese people who don’t have any NJ heritage, but just have parents who gave them a katakana name? He basically said it just depended on the judgement of whoever got the return to review.

    I asked why this NEVER popped up when I was preparing my tax return on the tax department’s homepage. There were all kinds of lists of necessary documents, including some things that said “(when applicable)” etc beside them. Nowhere did it say Gaiijn Card (for those who have one) or something similar. He said “Well, the homepage is written with Japanese people in mind. If you’d asked for help at city hall they would have told you to submit it.” So… you are delaying my tax return BECAUSE I can read Japanese, look at the homepage and prepare my own tax return WITHOUT wasting the time of someone at city hall or at the tax office? That seems very counterprductive, and when I pointed out as much, again he had no reply.

    Then I told him I wanted to Google the law that made this necessary and asked him to tell me the name of the law requiring a gaijin card to get a tax refund. He said there was no law…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6506

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    4) Mutantfrog on Death of Yokoso Japan, plus birth of Welcome to Tokyo

    Japan has changed its approach to international tourism from “YOKOSO Japan” to “Japan. Endless Discovery”. Mutantfrog blog thinks its a step in the right direction. Less appraisable to me is Tokyo City’s new flash website welcoming tourism, with its cloying multilingual “Honey Anime” that makes everything just a little too clean-line. In sum, the campaign feels “terrarium in a fishbowl”, with little apparent knowhow of how to appeal to outsiders and what they want after a very expensive plane trip plus hotels (oooh, Tokyo’s got a ZOO!!). Like seeing the waxwork dish of lunch outside the restaurant, and coming in to see it’s not at all what it was advertised. But that’s only my impression. What do others think?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6448

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    5) Asahi: J companies abandoning old hiring and promotion practices, offering NJ employees equitable positions. Come again?

    Here’s something that goes against common experience and common sense: The Asahi claiming that more major Japanese companies are hiring NJ more equitably. As in, they’ll be leaders in a quarter-century or so. Yeah, I heard that back in the Eighties during the “Kokusaika Boom”, when I too was hired at Japanese companies to help with companies “internationalization”, and got out real quick when I realized it was fallacious. What do others think? Have things changed? I have included some posts below from The Commnity talking about this, and they seem to disagree with the Asahi.

    Asahi: With overseas markets increasingly seen as the key to their survival, Japanese companies are adopting a more “international” look at home involving changes that would have been unheard of years ago.

    Long-held practices in hiring have been scrapped, as have limits on positions available to non-Japanese at the companies’ head offices in Tokyo and other Japanese cities.

    Methods of communication have shifted as foreigners take on increasingly important roles in devising strategy for overseas sales.

    The employment of Lee Guanglin Samson, a 29-year-old Singaporean, is one example of how electronic appliance maker Toshiba Corp. is evolving.

    “Judging that a more global use of human personnel is necessary, we decided not to use Japanese-language abilities as a requirement for employment,” said Seiichiro Suzuki, head of Toshiba’s personnel center. “Those whom we want are people who will be able to become leaders of business divisions 25 years later.”

    Comment from a job interviewee: Had two interviews at two major Japanese companies about two months ago (Nitori, the “home fashion” store found throughout Japan, and Zensho, the company behind Sukiya and family restaurants, 3rd largest food company behind McDonalds and Skylark). I got “we don’t think a foreigner can handle the intense Japanese work environment” from both, Nitori in particular narrowed it down from “foreigner” to “Americans,” saying that it’s not likely I’d be able to keep up, and even if I did, I would just get burned out, because that’s just how Americans are.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6426

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    6) Eurobiz Japan Magazine Jan 2010 Interview of JIPI’s Sakanaka Hidenori

    Here are some excerpts of the January 2010 issue of EUROBIZ JAPAN magazine, the publication of the European Business Council in Japan, edited by a journalist friend of mine. Another journalist friend of mine interviewed the person I was interning with last week, Japan Immigration Research Institute’s Sakanaka-san, the former Tokyo Immigration Bureau chief who retired and actually supports an immigration and assimilation policy for NJ in Japan. More on who he is and why in the interview below.Here are some excerpts of the January 2010 issue of EUROBIZ JAPAN magazine, the publication of the European Business Council in Japan, edited by a journalist friend of mine. Another journalist friend of mine interviewed the person I was interning with last week, Japan Immigration Research Institute’s Sakanaka-san, the former Tokyo Immigration Bureau chief who retired and actually supports an immigration and assimilation policy for NJ in Japan. More on who he is and why in the interview below.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6367

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    7) “Pinprick Protests” #1: GOJ authorities finally telling hotels correct enforcement procedures for NJ check-ins. Pity it only took five years.

    I would like to launch a new type of campaign, something I will call “Pinprick Protests”, an activity done on the individual level to protest injustice and unfair treatment in Japan. Less visible than picketing and petitions, it is no less effective over time: Enough individual protests nationwide, and it becomes mendoukusai for the authorities to have to deal with the issue anymore, and things shift for the better as GOJ attitudes and enforcement mechanisms change.

    Case in point: I received a good news from a translator yesterday in Debito.org’s comments section:

    JayIII: I work as a translator and often get jobs from the local government and I thought I would share a little bit of good news.

    A request came across my desk today for updating the english phrasing recommended for hotels to display for foreign guests. The Japanese was changed from requiring “foreign visitors” and “display their passport or gaijin card” to Non-Japanese visitors without a permanent Japanese residence and display their passport.

    So it’s one little step in the right direction.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6579

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    ISSUES RESPARKED

    8 ) Ghanian dies while being deported March 22, scant media on it

    Japan Times: The Japanese wife of a Ghanaian who died while being deported from Japan last month and some 50 supporters took to the streets Monday in Tokyo to demand a thorough investigation.

    Holding a banner that read, “Uncover the truth behind the death of Mr. Suraj during his deportation,” the protesters, including Ghanaians living in Japan, marched through Roppongi shouting “We want justice.”

    Although a police autopsy on Abubakar Awudu Suraj, 45, reportedly failed to pin down the cause of death and found no traces of violence, his wife and her supporters believe the death was probably caused by immigration officers…

    Asian People’s Friendship Society, a support group that organized Monday’s protest, said on its Web site that the immigration officers put a towel into Suraj’s mouth as they tried to subdue him, and he died shortly afterward.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6485

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    9) FCCJ Press Conf on Ghanian death while being deported, 2 more deaths in Ibaraki Detention Ctr

    PRESS CONFERENCE
    Koichi Kodama and Mayumi Yoshida
    Another illegal immigrant in Japan, another death:
    The fatal journey of Mr. Suraj
    10:00-11:00 Tuesday, April 20, 2010, FCCJ TOKYO

    On March 22, Mr. Abubakar Awudu Suraj, an illegal immigrant who was in the process of being deported to his native country of Ghana, died in Narita.

    The circumstances surrounding Mr. Suraj’s death are unknown. What is clear is that the immigration officers used a towel and handcuff to restrain Mr. Suraj as he was boarding an Egypt Air flight. In February, a first attempt to send Mr. Suraj back to Ghana had failed. Since then, he had been subject to confinement. Married since 2006 to a Japanese national, he had spent the equivalent of 2 years in detention for no other crime than staying illegally.

    The death of Mr. Suraj follows the suicide by hanging of a South Korean man a week ago in the Ibaraki detention center. And the self-hanging of a young Brazilian man in Ibaraki again. And a hunger strike by 70 detainees at the Osaka detention center in March.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6511

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    10) Japan Times on Suraj Case: Wife of Ghanian who died while being deported demands info on cause

    Japan Times: The Japanese wife of a Ghanaian who died last month while he was being deported for overstaying his visa called Tuesday on police and the Immigration Bureau to disclose exactly how he died…

    The wife’s lawyer, Koichi Kodama, questioned the police investigation, which has not resulted in any arrests.

    “If a man died after five or six civilians, not public servants, held his limbs, they would undoubtedly be arrested,” Kodama said, adding he told “exactly that to the prosecutors” he met with Monday in Chiba.

    The Chiba police are questioning about 10 immigration officers and crew of Egypt Air, Kodama quoted a Chiba prosecutor as saying. Police said March 25 the cause of death was unclear after an autopsy. Kodama said a more thorough autopsy is being performed.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6572

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    11) GhanaWeb: Suraj apparently a son of a Ghanian Prince

    NB: I make no claims for the accuracy of this article. Spelling, tone, and the victim’s name (the wife’s name is the same, however) all detract from the lending of legitimacy. However, if true, we’re more likely to see action on this case than average:

    Ghanaian Prince Dies In Custody of Japanese Immigration
    Diasporian News of Tuesday, 30 March 2010 (excerpt)

    The family of a Ghanaian prince from a royal home up north, who died in the custody of Japanese Immigration, is calling for full investigations into how their son died, since they believe that he was killed by the authorities in Japan!

    Additionally they have called for a repatriation of the body to Ghana as well as full compensation for the killing, if it is established that he died unlawfully.

    In an interview with members of his family in Accra yesterday, March 29, 2010, they said that Awudu Samad Abubakar, popularly known as ‘Mac Barry’ was a resident of Japan, and died in the capital town of Japan; Tokyo, while under the detention of the Japanese immigration on Sunday, 21st March, 2010.

    According to the family, the corpse of Awudu Samad Abubakar was subsequently rejected by his Japanese wife, when the immigration called her to come for the corpse of her husband. The reason his wife gave was that she had been doing everything possible for the release of her husband but all her actions did not yield any positive results and that they should bare their own cross.

    http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/diaspora/artikel.php?ID=179482

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    12) Japan Times on “Little Black Sambo” controversy, cites Debito.org’s parody “Little Yellow J*p”

    The Japan Times this week published a very nicely-considered article on something brought up on Debito.org in February: The Little Black Sambo controversy, and how it was being taught without any racial sensitivity or historical/cultural context, to Japanese pre-schoolers, regardless of concerns raised about its appropriateness.

    For the record, I believe LBS is a work of history and as such should not be “banned”. It should, however, whenever used always be placed in historical context, and seen as materiel to enlighten people about the prejudices of the day. I have never seen it done so in Japan. In fact, the republisher Zuiunsha — which appears to have just appropriated the book from the previous Japanese publisher and republished it for fun and profit — doesn’t even offer a disclaimer or a foreword in the book explaining why this book has been problematic; existentially, it’s just a book they can get rich off of. Who cares if some people might be adversely affected by it?

    Hence my attempt, mentioned below, of providing not historical context, but through parody putting the shoe on the other foot for empathy, as “Little Yellow J*p”. That has occasioned cries of “racism” by the noncognizant. But the Japan Times essayist below gets it. Excerpt of article follows.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6488

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    13) Case study about university contract termination of NJ reversed due to getting a lawyer

    Guest writer: This past December, just before winter vacation, the owner of the college where I teach called me into his office and announced in no uncertain terms that in 3 months, at the end of March, I would be fired. After 24 years working for the school, with hardly any advanced warning, I was to be among the unemployed, and at an age (56) when it would be all but impossible to find a similar position in Japan.

    The owner, not so generously, said he would allow me to continue as a part-timer at the bottom of the pay scale, with a loss of health care benefits, at an income which, unless I came up with something to supplement it, would impossible to live on. In addition, he made it a point to explain, though I might have thought I was fulltime, for the first 5 years, (when I taught at both his high school and college) I actually was a part-timer, and that I could expect my retirement package to reflect it…

    As I believe that the circumstances I describe might apply to any number of foreign workers in Japan, I am writing in the hope you might gain from some of my mistakes. First of all, verbal agreements mean nothing. Insist on getting those promises in writing. When I interviewed for my job at the high school, there were three people in the room, but 24 years later, two of them are dead, and the only person who might verify my story is the man I had to take to court.

    If you believe in labor unions, better join up before you encounter any problems. Or if you do try joining a labor union, don’t let them know of your predicament, or else they will have nothing to do with you. (I couldn’t even get them to recommend a lawyer.) Basically labor union resources are reserved for members of long standing who have paid their dues…

    Finally, and most important of all, get a lawyer. I simply would have been a dead man without one. I was lucky enough to have a friend recommend one to me, and still luckier that he was willing to go to court. It never seemed to even occur to my boss that I would or could litigate. I had already received notice, the court date was set, and I was meeting with my lawyer. It was March 30th and one day from termination, when I got a fax from my school’s lawyer rescinding it. I’m back at work now as if nothing happened, though who is to say whether or not I won’t go through the same hell again next year.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6466

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    14) Kyodo: Japan’s depopulation accelerates in 2009

    Kyodo: The proportion of Japan’s population aged 65 and over hit a record high of 22.7% last year — sign of its fast-aging society, the government reported Friday…

    Japan’s overall population as of Oct 2009 shrank to 127.51 million, down 183,000 people from a year earlier — the largest decline since the country’s population started shrinking five years ago, the ministry said. Some 29 million people are aged 65 or over, up from 28.2 million a year earlier.

    The results add to concerns over Japan’s labor shortage, declining tax income and overburdened public pension system…

    The ministry said a net decrease of 125,000 people living in Japan, also contributed to the population decrease last year. That includes 47,000 foreign nationals, many of them laborers who lost jobs at factories during the global economic slump.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6518

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    TANGENTS

    15) Tokyo Shinbun: Fussa City bureaucrat blames NJ residents for more children’s cavities!

    It’s been pretty knee-jerk this past decade to blame NJ (or just plain multiculturalism) for anything that’s allegedly going askew in Japan. Things I’ve seen blamed on NJ and their “cultural differences” (no doubt you know most of these): Bathhouse altercations, crime, terrorism, infectious diseases, unemployment, neighborhood deterioration, bad smells in both neighborhoods and schools, divorces, DV, drugs, guns, prostitution, unpaid bills (including phone and restaurant), AIDs, youth crime, irregularly colored hair, improper garbage disposal, low J crews on Japanese ships, sports uncompetitiveness, lack of Olympic medals, uncertified sushi, Japan’s low English ability, national security in the SDF, and the potential carving up of Japan as a nation.

    But I gotta admit, I’ve never seen oral hygiene — as in more cavities — pinned on NJ before! Read on.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6579

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    16) Sumo Suits Controversy in Canada

    The Queen’s University student government has declared the sumo suit an instrument of ‘oppression’, and cancelled a food-bank fundraiser that was to feature two sumo suits.

    Dear [Queen's Alma Mater Society] members and members of the Queen’s community,

    We are writing in regards to an event that was scheduled to take place on Tuesday March 30th, organized and run by a group in the AMS. This event was planned to have students don padded suits, coloured and designed to resemble Japanese sumo wrestlers. The Facebook event created to advertise this event, entitled “SUMO Showdown,” included a picture of two cartoon Japanese wrestlers grappling.

    We recognize racism as the systemic oppression, both intentional and unintentional, of individuals and groups based on racial or ethnic identities.

    Regrettably, those of us who were aware of the event did not critically consider the racist meaning behind it. Asking students to wear these suits and partake in the activity appropriates an aspect of Japanese culture. This is wrong because it turns a racial identity into a costume; the process of putting-on and taking-off a racial identity is problematic because it dehumanizes those who share that identity and fails to capture the deeply imbedded histories of violent and subversive oppression that a group has faced. The event also devalues an ancient and respected Japanese sport, which is rich in history and cultural tradition…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6432

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    17) NJ and Abandoned Konketsuji Negishi Cemetery in Yokohama; photos included

    Most of us long-termers have heard about (if not visited) Aoyama Gaijin Bochi (as still written on the signs) foreign cemetery in downtown Tokyo (see here and here). Debito.org Reader CF writes about a less-known pair of NY cemeteries in Yokohama — Negishi and Hodogaya — that might be worth a look for history preservers.

    Japan Times: Welcome to Yokohama Negishi Gaikokujin Bochi, also known as the Negishi Foreign Cemetery. Only a few hundred meters from Yokohama’s Yamate Station on the JR Keihin Tohoku Line, its obscure location and ambiguous past have helped keep it out of the spotlight.

    While its diminutive size and inconvenient location have relegated this burial ground to near anonymity, its simple appearance, scattered headstones and wooden crosses belie a complicated past.

    More than a 1,000 people are buried here and most are foreigners and infants.

    Negishi was the poor foreigner’s cemetery. “Those who died of infectious diseases, sailors and those without money were mostly buried here. Of course there are some famous people, but it is basically a cemetery for poor people,” said Yasuji Tamura, a local teacher who has studied the cemetery for more than 15 years.

    This continued until the end of World War II — when the graveyard’s most controversial residents were buried. After the war, Tamura and others believe that more than 800 infants were buried here…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6446

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    18) Congratulations to Oguri Saori for her successful opening of “Darling wa Gaikokujin” movie

    Just a word of congratulations on apparently one of the more important intercultural events of the year — the successful movie release of Oguri Saori’s hit manga series “Darling wa Gaikokujin” (My Darling is a Foreigner).

    Officially released yesterday with balloons and girly frills, the movie is feted to make a splash with all the Japanese women jonesing to date foreign men (even though about three-quarters of all J-NJ marriages are J men to NJ women).

    Good for Saori. I’ve known her for years (even stayed at the couple’s apartment for many days back in the ‘Nineties), and know her to be a person of great talent. Here are some photos from the grand opening party for you to feast your eyes upon:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6468

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    … and finally…

    19) Debito.org Poll: “Do you think ‘Little Black Sambo’ should be in print and in educational institutions in Japan?”

    Options:
    ===========================================

    • Naturally. Freedom of speech and press.
    • Of course. There’s nothing wrong with the book itself.
    • Not unless there is some grounding in historical context.
    • No, I don’t think race relations in Japan are sophisticated enough to understand the issues behind it.
    • Definitely not. This book should not be in print anywhere.
    • Something else.
    • Don’t know, don’t care, not sure etc.

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

    Vote on any blog page at www.debito.org

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    That’s all for this month! Enjoy Golden Week! Let’s hope things finally warm up!
    Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 24, 2010 ENDS

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    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 7, 2010

    Posted on Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
    UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

    Hi All. I spent much of March down in Honshu doing speeches as chair of NGO FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association, more at http://www.francajapan.org), speaking on issues of Newcomer immigration. Part of that tour was spent interning and speaking at fellow immigration-oriented Japan Immigration Policy Research Institute (JIPI, http://www.jipi.gr.jp), run by a former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, Mr Sakanaka Hidenori.

    This trip also happened to coincide with a two-week trip by Dr. Jorge A. Bustamante, United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants, whom I saw twice and gave a short speech and a fat information packet on NJ issues.

    This Newsletter is devoted to the proceedings with the UN, JIPI, and FRANCA.

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 7, 2010
    SPECIAL ON THE UNITED NATIONS AND NGO FRANCA MARCH 2010 TOUR

    Table of Contents:

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////
    UNITED NATIONS RAPPORTEUR BUSTAMANTE COMES TO TOWN MAR 23-31

    1) UN CERD Recommendations to GOJ Mar 2010 CERD/C/JPN/CO/3-6, takes up our issues well
    2) FRANCA meeting with UN Rep Bustamante yesterday: How it went, with photos
    3) Table of Contents of FRANCA information folder to UN Rep Bustamante, Mar 23
    4) Japan Times: UN Rep Bustamante meets Calderon Noriko, comments on GOJ harsh visa system that separates families
    5) Assn of Korean Human Rights RYOM Munsong’s speech text to UN Rep Bustamante, Mar 23
    6) Mar 31 UN Rep Bustamante’s Full Press Release on Japan’s Human Rights Record
    7) Download audio podcast of UN Rep Bustamante Mar 31 press conference

    MORE FRANCA WORKS, INCLUDING NGO JIPI INTERFACE
    8 ) FRANCA Sendai Meeting Proceedings, Photos and Project Ideas
    9) Mar 27 2010 NGO FRANCA Tokyo meeting minutes
    10) NGO Japan Immigration Policy Institute requests information from, meetings with NJ Residents
    11) March 29, 2010 FRANCA/JIPI speech on why Japan needs immigration: Download my powerpoint presentation (Japanese)
    12) Going back: Japanese porkbarrel airports as “infrastructure in a vacuum”,
    and how JR duped me into buying a train ticket to nowhere

    … and finally …
    13) Japan Times prints my speech to UN Rep Bustamante on “blind spot” re Japan immigrants
    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
    Freely Forwardable

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    UNITED NATIONS RAPPORTEUR BUSTAMANTE COMES TO TOWN MAR 23-31

    1) UN CERD Recommendations to GOJ Mar 2010 CERD/C/JPN/CO/3-6, takes up our issues well

    The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Committee just issued its latest recommendations to the GOJ on March 16, stating what Japan should be doing to abide by the treaty they effected nearly a decade and a half ago, in 1996.

    Guess what: A lot of it is retread (as they admit) of what the CERD Commitee first recommended in 2001 (when Japan submitted its first report, years late), and Japan still hasn’t done.

    To me, unsurprising, but it’s still nice to see the UN more than a little sarcastic towards the GOJ’s egregious and even somewhat obnoxious negligence towards international treaties. For example, when it set the deadline for the GOJ’s answer to these recommendations for January 14, 2013, it wrote:

    UN: “Noting that the State party report was considerably overdue, the Committee requests the State party to be mindful of the deadline set for the submission of future reports in order to meet its obligations under the Convention.”

    Again, some more juicy quotes, then the full report, with issues germane to Debito.org in boldface.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6213

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    2) 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:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6256

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    3) Table of Contents of FRANCA information folder to UN Rep Bustamante, Mar 23

    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.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6201

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    4) Japan Times: UN Rep Bustamante meets Calderon Noriko, comments on GOJ harsh visa system that separates families

    The Japan Times reported UN Special Rapporteur Bustamante’s interim comments during his current-two-week fact-finding mission to Japan, particularly as pertains to the GOJ visa system that deports people even if it means splitting apart families (cf. the Calderon Noriko Case).

    Dr Bustamante takes a very dim view of this:

    “It’s going to be made public,” Bustamante told the gathering. “And this, of course, might result in an embarrassment for the government of Japan and therefore certain pressure (will be) put on the government of Japan.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6326

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    5) Assn of Korean Human Rights RYOM Munsong’s speech text to UN Rep Bustamante, Mar 23

    What follows is a speech by Mr RYOM Munsong, read and presented to UN Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants, Dr. Jorge Bustamante, just before I did on March 23 (my speech here). I have offered Debito.org as a space for Japan’s presenting NGOs to release their information to the general reading public. Read on.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6302

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    6) Mar 31 UN Rep Bustamante’s Full Press Release on Japan’s Human Rights Record

    PRESS RELEASE MARCH 31, 2010: UN MIGRANTS RIGHTS EXPERT URGES JAPAN TO INCREASE PROTECTION OF MIGRANTS (excerpt)

    TOKYO — The UN expert on migrants’ human rights on Wednesday praised Japan for some of the measures it has taken to alleviate the impact of the economic crisis on migrants, but, based on information provided by civil society, he noted that it is still facing a range of challenges, including racism and discrimination, exploitation, a tendency by the judiciary and police to ignore their rights and the overall lack of a comprehensive immigration policy that incorporates human rights protection…

    The Special Rapporteur said, many challenges still need to be addressed by the Government in order to protect the human rights of migrants and their children. He listed some of the most important, along with some preliminary recommendations on how to improve the situation:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6343

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    7) Download audio podcast of UN Rep Bustamante Mar 31 press conference

    (Debito.org) TOKYO MARCH 31, 2010 — Dr Jorge A. Bustamante, United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants, gave an hourlong press conference at United Nations Information Center, United Nations University, Japan.

    Assisted by the International Organization for Migration and Japan’s civil society groups, Dr Bustamante concluded nine days, March 23 to March 30, of a fact-finding mission around Japan, making stops in Tokyo, Yokohama, Hamamatsu, and Toyoda City. He met with representatives of various groups, including Zainichi Koreans, Chinese, Brazilians, Filipinos, women immigrants and their children, “Newcomer” immigrant and migrant Non-Japanese, and veterans of Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers.

    He also met with Japanese government representatives, including the ministries of Education, Foreign Affairs, and Justice. He also met with local government officials in Hamamatsu City (including the Hamamatsu “Hello Work ” Unemployment Agency), the mayor of Toyoda City, and others.

    He debriefed the Japanese Government today before his press conference.

    The press conference can be heard in its entirety, from Dr Bustamante’s entrance to his exit, on the DEBITO.ORG PODCAST MARCH 31, 2010, downloadable from this blog entry. Duration: One hour five minutes. Unedited. I ask a question around minute 40.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6338

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    MORE FRANCA WORKS, INCLUDING NGO JIPI INTERFACE

    8 ) 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.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6249

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    9) 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:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6324

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    10) NGO Japan Immigration Policy Institute requests information from, meetings with NJ Residents

    Mr SAKANAKA Hidenori, head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute in Tokyo (http://www.jipi.gr.jp), author of books such as “Nyuukan Senki” and “Towards a Japanese-style Immigration Nation”, is looking for input from Non-Japanese (NJ) long-termers, and immigrants who would like to see Japanese immigration policy (or current lack thereof) head in a better direction?

    Mr Sakanaka, former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, has become a leading supporter of immigration to Japan, believing that Japan would be a stronger, more economically-vibrant society if it had a more open and focused immigration policy. More on his thoughts about “Big Japan vs. Small Japan” on Debito.org in English and Japanese here:
    http://www.debito.org/publications.html#otherauthors

    Mr Sakanaka wants your ideas and input as how Japan should approach a multicultural future, and (sensibly) believes the best way is to ask people who are part of that multiculture. Please consider getting in touch, if not making an appointment for a conversation, via the contact details at http://www.jipi.gr.jp/access.html, or via email at sakanaka AT jipi DOT gr DOT jp (English and Japanese both OK).

    We would like to hold seminars, forums, and other convocations in future, working to make JIPI into a conduit for a dialog between Japan’s policymakers and the NJ communities.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6291

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    11) March 29, 2010 FRANCA/JIPI speech on why Japan needs immigration: Download my powerpoint presentation (Japanese)

    My FRANCA speech for JIPI went very well, with me reading my slides in Japanese probably the most comfortably ever (I felt I was really “in the zone”). This blog entry is to make my powerpoint presentation public for download:

    http://www.debito.org/JIPI032910.ppt

    About 120 slides in Japanese (not all are visible, I hid about a third), making the case that Japan needs immigration, and presenting things in terms of “give and take” — what the GOJ must offer immigrants to make them come and stay, and what immigrants must do to make themselves assimilatable and contributing to this society.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6331

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    12) Going back: Japanese porkbarrel airports as “infrastructure in a vacuum”, and how JR duped me into buying a train ticket to nowhere

    Weekend tangent: Here’s a funny little story about an adventure I had yesterday getting to Hanamaki Airport from Tokyo in order to fly back to Sapporo (long story). It turns out that the JR train station labelled “Hanamaki Airport Station” doesn’t actually go to Hanamaki Airport. In fact, no public transportation, save specially-prepared busses to Morioka, actually service the airport. It’s one fascinating example of how porkbarrel politics create infrastructure in a vacuum in Japan, and how Japan Railways duped me into buying a ticket to nowhere.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6372

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    … and finally …

    13) Japan Times prints my speech to UN Rep Bustamante on “blind spot” re Japan immigrants

    JUST BE CAUSE
    Japan, U.N. share blind spot on ‘migrants’
    By DEBITO ARUDOU
    The Japan Times: Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100406ad.html
    Original Version with links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=6233

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    That’s all for now. I’ll have a second Newsletter out this week to catch up on the other issues that transpired over March and April on Debito.org. Thanks for reading.

    Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 7, 2010 ENDS

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

    Posted on Friday, March 26th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet recently (but I gave fair warning).  Spent five hours on the shinkansen yesterday getting to and from my annual guest lecture at Shiga Daigaku on Japan’s internationalization etc.  Nice young folks, had a good day, and a nice cheese fondue with Belgian beer in the evening.

    Anyway, today’s entry is 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.  Details as follows:

    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

    Topics: Membership, Why FRANCA?, and perhaps what to do about the recent Sumo Association rules that say that naturalized sumo wrestlers are also to be counted as the one “foreign” wrestler allowed in sumo stables. More on that here: http://www.debito.org/?p=6085

    Also, we’ll be asking for more input on topics discussed at the March 21, 2010 Sendai FRANCA meeting, which are outlined at http://www.debito.org/?p=6249

    http://www.francajapan.org/index.php/Main_Page#Upcoming_Meetings

    The Monday evening one will be me speaking for the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, headed by Sakanaka Hidenori, where I am currently interning.  I will be speaking to whomever will listen on why we need immigration to Japan.  It’s a brand new speech (I’m still writing up the powerpoint), and details on that follow in Japanese.

    MON MAR 29 JIPI SPEECH IN JAPANESE

    ■日時: 2010年3月29日(月)19時~21時(予定)

    ■会場: 港区勤労福祉会館 第一集会室

    ■講師: 有道出人 (あるどう でびと)

    ■テーマ: 「移民の必要性―あるべき姿」

    ■アクセス: 都営地下鉄A7出口より徒歩1分/JR田町駅西口(三田口)より徒歩5分

    主催:一般社団法人移民政策研究所所長(JIPI)

    That’s from 7PM at the Minato-ku Roudou Fukushi Kaikan, five minutes from JR Tamachi Mita Guchi Station.  Don’t be deterred by the fact I’ll be speaking in Japanese.  Please come on by and have a listen.  There will of course be lots of visuals too with the powerpoint.

    Hope to see you there!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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    Posted in FRANCA, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Speech materials, 日本語 | 1 Comment »

    NGO Japan Immigration Policy Institute requests information from, meetings with NJ Residents

    Posted on Thursday, March 25th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    REQUEST FOR INPUT FROM THE NON-JAPANESE RESIDENT COMMUNITY
    By JAPAN IMMIGRATION POLICY INSTITUTE, TOKYO

    March 24, 2010

    Mr SAKANAKA Hidenori, head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute in Tokyo (http://www.jipi.gr.jp), author of books such as “Nyūkan Senki” and “Towards a Japanese-style Immigration Nation”, is looking for input from Non-Japanese (NJ) long-termers, and immigrants who would like to see Japanese immigration policy (or current lack thereof) head in a better direction?

    Mr Sakanaka, former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, has become a leading supporter of immigration to Japan, believing that Japan would be a stronger, more economically-vibrant society if it had a more open and focused immigration policy. More on his thoughts about “Big Japan vs. Small Japan” on Debito.org in English and Japanese here:
    http://www.debito.org/publications.html#otherauthors

    Mr Sakanaka wants your ideas and input as how Japan should approach a multicultural future, and (sensibly) believes the best way is to ask people who are part of that multiculture. Please consider getting in touch, if not making an appointment for a conversation, via the contact details at http://www.jipi.gr.jp/access.html, or via email at sakanaka AT jipi DOT gr DOT jp (English and Japanese both OK).

    We would like to hold seminars, forums, and other convocations in future, working to make JIPI into a conduit for a dialog between Japan’s policymakers and the NJ communities.

    Debito.org is proud to support Mr Sakanaka and his works, and has interned at JIPI with many an enlightening conversation. This proposal for community outreach is the product of one of those conversations. Please be in touch with JIPI.

    – Arudou Debito, Coordinator, Debito.org and NGO FRANCA
    (http://www.debito.org, http://www.francajapan.org)
    ENDS

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    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Education, Immigration & Assimilation, Practical advice | 6 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 3, 2010

    Posted on Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
    UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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    Hello All. Happy New Year. Here comes the latest

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 3, 2010
    TURN OF THE DECADE HOLIDAY SPECIAL

    Table of Contents:
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    RUMINATIONS
    1) Debito’s decade 2000-2009 in review
    2) Debito.org Blog Poll: What do you consider the TOP THREE NJ human rights events of 2009 in Japan? (More in Japan Times Jan 5)
    3) Oguri’s “Darling wa Gaikokujin” becomes a movie, with parody cartoon about the “Darling Dream” being sold by all this

    FUN STUFF AND TANGENTS
    4) Book review of “Japan Took the J.A.P. Out of Me” (Pubs Simon and Schuster). Yes, that is the title.
    5) Holiday Tangent: My Movie Review of AVATAR in 3D
    6) LIFER! cartoon on “End-Year Holiday Activities in Japan”
    7) Haagen Daz ice cream excludes Indians from sampling the latest flavor — in India!

    BUSINESS AS USUAL
    8 ) Proof positive that some people really do suck: JT responses to proposals for a Japanese immigration policy
    9) Yonatan Owens’ excellent riposte Letter to the Editor
    10) Guest blog post by Steve on “How to get the Japanese public to demand a non-discrimination law”
    11) Yomiuri: Scriveners aid illegal marriages, work
    12) DR on dealing with GOJ border fingerprinting: sandpaper down your fingers

    … and finally …
    13) Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out January 5, on the Top Ten Human Rights Issues of 2009 (get a copy!)
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
    Daily blog updates and RSS at http://www.debito.org, Podcasts at iTunes
    Freely Forwardable

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    RUMINATIONS

    1) Debito’s decade 2000-2009 in review

    This here’s a personal entry. I think it instructive for people to look back periodically and chart a few lifeline arcs. As we enter 2010, let me give you the top nine influential trends for me personally between 2000 and 2009. In ascending order: My Beard, FRANCA, Naturalization, Debito.org Blog, Japan Times Column, Three Books, The Otaru Onsens Lawsuit, My Divorce, and “That Sinking Feeling”.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5613

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    2) Debito.org Blog Poll: What do you consider the TOP THREE NJ human rights events of 2009 in Japan? (More in Japan Times Jan 5)

    Let me ask readers what they think the most important NJ human rights events (I won’t say “advances”, as I consider 2009 to be pretty mixed) were last year? I’ve put them as a blog poll on the right so you can vote (choose three), but below are the ones that come to my mind, in no particular order (if you think I’ve missed any, Comments Section).

    In no particular order, to wit:

    1. The Nikkei “Repatriation Bribe”
    2. The election of the DPJ and concomitant hopes
    3. The Savoie Child Abduction Case
    4. The forthcoming IC Chips in Gaijin Cards
    5. “Newcomer” Permanent Residents outnumbering “Oldcomer” Zainichi PRs
    6. The Calderon Noriko Case
    7. Police arresting a 74-yr-old US tourist for carrying a pocket knife
    8. Ichihashi Tatsuya’s arrest for the Hawker Murder
    9. “The Cove” documentary exposing Wakayama dolphin slaughters
    10. NJ also to be listed on Juuminhyou Residency Certificates
    11. McDonald’s Japan’s gaijin shill “Mr James”
    12. Sakanaka’s proposals for an Immigration Ministry et al
    13. NOVA boss Saruhashi getting 3.5 years for embezzlement
    14. Roppongi police street testing NJ urine for drugs
    15. Sakai Noriko pinning her drug issues on NJ dealers
    16. Pothead Sumo wrestlers
    17. Something else
    18. Don’t know / Can’t say / Don’t care etc.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5609

    I’ll be ranking them myself in my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out January 5, so have a read!

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    3) Oguri’s “Darling wa Gaikokujin” becomes a movie, with parody cartoon about the “Darling Dream” being sold by all this

    I want to offer my congratulations to Oguri Saori, very successful author of the “Darling wa Gaikokujin” series (translated as “My Darling is a Foreigner”, but officially subtitled “My Darling is Ambidextrous”), for the news just out this month that the first book in the series will be made into a live-action movie (starring Inoue Mao and Jonathan Share as Saori and Tonii respectively). The empire built upon the dream being sold to Japanese women for marrying a white foreigner keeps on gathering strength.

    Although portrayed in the movie by the very handsome and disarming Jonathan as a “grass-eating man”, Tonii in real life is not as he is cartooned. Laszlo is a big fan of putting his funds into threatening lawsuits, for one thing. And of deleting internet archives. And more. It just so happens I found a cartoon parodying this phenomenon of the contrasts. As the last post on Debito.org for this decade, enjoy.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5595

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    FUN STUFF AND TANGENTS

    4) Book review of “Japan Took the J.A.P. Out of Me” (Pubs Simon and Schuster). Yes, that is the title.

    Simon and Schuster sent me this book for review, and I know not why. I am probably the last person to whom you’d send “Chick Lit” (defined as a genre where the protagonist is a young female trying to make it in the modern world dealing with issues that women face, whether it be them learning how to stand on their own two feet, or just about them being passionate about career, style, personal appearance, shopping…). But I did sit down and get through it. I agree with the reviews on Amazon.com — it’s “an easy read”. That’s not much of a compliment, however: If the most positive thing you can say about a literary work is that you got through it quickly, that’s damning with faint praise indeed.

    So let’s get through this review and make it a quick read too. Start with the obvious: J.A.P. Having a racial epithet cloaked as an ethnic slur (I hail from Cornell University, so am plenty aware of “Jewish American Princesses”) in the very title already puts me off — as very culturally insensitive. What were you thinking, S&S?…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5563

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    5) Holiday Tangent: My Movie Review of AVATAR in 3D

    Movie review conclusion: But in terms of what lingers after AVATAR is all over, it’s not the environmental lesson, or the good versus business/military ethics, or even the 3D. It’s the planet of Pandora, and how lovely it must be to see it in all it’s glory without the goddamn glasses on. I hope someone who cares as much as James Cameron about movie craft comes along and makes the 3D technology something that gives us the focus and color as vibrantly as without. Next time. Thanks for the good college try, Mr Cameron. You haven’t lost your touch. Grade: B-

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5576

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    6) LIFER! cartoon on “End-Year Holiday Activities in Japan”

    For the holidays, here’s a timely cartoon by Lifer from the December 2009 issue of Hokkaido Free Paper SAPPORO SOURCE. How to enjoy the end-year holidays in Japan, with a twist, as always.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5321

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    7) Haagen Daz ice cream excludes Indians from sampling the latest flavor — in India!

    For a Sunday Tangent, watch what happens when an exclusionary sign goes up in, say, India. Article from the Times of India follows (of quite questionable writing quality, but never mind). More interesting than the article are the comments from readers below it online. They are not amused, indeed. Have a read.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5475

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    BUSINESS AS USUAL

    8 ) Proof positive that some people really do suck: JT responses to proposals for a Japanese immigration policy

    Get a load of these letters to the editor (including authors who won’t reveal their names, or don’t live in Japan anyway) responding acidulously to my Japan Times column earlier this month, where I made constructive proposals for making Japan a place more attractive for immigration. (Many of these proposals were made not just by me, but also by former Immigration bureaucrat Sakanaka Hidenori; so much for their pat claim below of imposing my moral values).

    It’s times like these when I think human society really has a bottomless capacity for oozing disdain for and wishing ill-will upon others. None of these respondents appear to be immigrants, or have any expressed interest in investing in this society, yet they heap scorn upon those who might plan to. I know paper will never refuse ink, but surely these people have more productive uses of their time then just scribbling poorly-researched and nasty screeds that help no-one. The self-injuring, snake-eating-its-tail mentality seen in NJ vets of Japan is something worthy of study by psychologists, methinks. Any takers?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5557

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    9) Yonatan Owens’ excellent riposte Letter to the Editor

    Counterpoint letter in the JT to the above sucky letters, concludes: “The question of civil rights in Japan is real and the question of immigration will soon be as well. Japan cannot simply turn back the clock and expel the foreigners. To avoid future confrontation and hardship for everyone — Japanese and foreigners alike — these issues require serious consideration. Some of us here are not just expatriates or perpetual tourists; some of us are trying our hardest to lead a normal life in the land that we live in and love. If you won’t help, why get in the way?”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5581

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    10) Guest blog post by Steve on “How to get the Japanese public to demand a non-discrimination law”

    Steve: Proposed plan of action: a law-abiding human here in Japan (with taxes, national insurance, and even pension — all paid-up in full (nod to Hoofin), preferably a permanent resident of Japan or Japanese national, to avoid the possibility of visa-denial retaliation) who has an establishment (a bar, restaurant, shop, whatever) AND COURAGE (very essential) and good property insurance (also essential, since some right-wing crazies will probably break some windows and/or start some fires) should put up a big sign out front proclaiming “No Japanese” and/or “No Japanese may enter” and/or “Non-Japanese Only” and/or “Entry Restricted to Non-Japanese” (in perfect Japanese of course) PLUS underneath this sign should be big poster-sized-laminated-PHOTOS of all the variations of “Japanese Only” signs found in Japan (e.g. www.debito.org/roguesgallery.htmlespecially photos of the signs written in Japanese such as http://www.debito.org/edensign030707.jpg) PLUS underneath those photos should be a sentence in Japanese which says, “Japan needs a law which clearly states, ‘Barring entry to private establishments based on nationality, or race, is hereby illegal, and violators of this law will be prosecuted and face severe penalties.’ “

    A well-written (triple-proofread) press-release in Japanese together with this story’s dramatic money-shot: a well-taken photo which clearly shows the whole picture, meaning, the controversial “Non-Japanese Only” sign TOGETHER with the big poster-sized-laminated-photos of “Japanese Only” signs directly underneath that, TOGETHER with the solution to this problem stated underneath that, specifically, our proposed law against discrimination.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5546

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    11) Yomiuri: Scriveners aid illegal marriages, work

    Hi Debito: OK, this is good:

    “Yomiuri: Scriveners aid illegal marriages, work”

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

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

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5021

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    12) DR on dealing with GOJ border fingerprinting: sandpaper down your fingers

    DR writes: Sanding Down Your Fingerprints

    Incensed by the Japanese government’s slavish following of the US fingerprinting program, I decided to take charge of my own biometrics.

    (1) The temptation to use harsh, large grit sanding paper was my first impulse, but I settled on a very fine black glass paper for the huge amount of 85 Yen at Jumbo Encho. Usually the packages have a window so the grade of paper can be felt without opening it.

    (2) I started sanding on my outbound journey. It was a Nagoya to Frankfurt trip, 12 hours and lots of time to gently sand all my finger and thumb prints lightly. The secret is lightly.

    (3) I was to be in the EU for almost three weeks, so about ten minutes per day I would sand a little, lightly. Even sanding lightly it’s easy to break the skin and to expose muscle fibres, causing bleeding. Any distinguishing mark makes a fingerprint more identifiable, and defeats the whole purpose. After about a week I felt like a safe-cracker. Everything I touched was more pronounced; heat, cold, textures. Everything. I couldn’t touch the strings on a guitar as my fingers were too sensitive. I could distinguish the dots on Braille texts much better than before! Eventually the fingers callous-over and, with time, the surfaces become harder…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5538

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    … and finally …

    13) Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out January 5, on the Top Ten Human Rights Issues of 2009 (get a copy!)

    That’s right. As per post #2 above, I’ll be ranking what I consider to be the ten most fundamental HR issues involving NJ rights in Japan. I’ll tell ya, 2009 was a pretty mixed year. Hope 2010 is better. Have a read when it comes out Tuesday (Weds in the provinces)

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    All for now. Thanks for reading!
    By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
    Daily blog updates and RSS at http://www.debito.org, Podcasts at iTunes
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 3, 2010 ENDS

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    Proof positive that some people really do suck: JT responses to proposals for a Japanese immigration policy

    Posted on Thursday, December 24th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
    UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

    Hi Blog.  It’s times like these when I think human society really has a bottomless capacity for oozing disdain for and wishing ill-will upon others.  Get a load of these letters to the editor (including authors who won’t reveal their names, or don’t live in Japan anyway) responding acidulously to my Japan Times column earlier this month, where I made constructive proposals for making Japan a place more attractive for immigration.  (Many of these proposals were made not just by me, but also by former Immigration bureaucrat Sakanaka Hidenori; so much for their pat claim below of imposing my moral values).

    None of these respondents appear to be immigrants, or have any expressed interest in investing in this society, yet they heap scorn upon those who might plan to.  I know paper will never refuse ink, but surely these people have more productive uses of their time then just scribbling poorly-researched and nasty screeds that help no-one.  The self-injuring, snake-eating-its-tail mentality seen in NJ vets of Japan is something worthy of study by psychologists, methinks.  Any takers?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    The Japan Times, Letters to the Editor Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009

    HAVE YOUR SAY
    Level playing field for immigrants: responses
    A selection of readers’ responses to Debito Arudou’s Dec. 1 Just Be Cause article, which proposed policy changes to “make life easier for Japan’s residents, regardless of nationality”:

    Get your fill and head off
    I’m getting tired of listening to foreigners moaning on Japan. The answer is very simple: You don’t like it, leave it. Why do these people want to live in Japan at all costs if they don’t like the system? The world is big; go somewhere else. I’ve been in Japan for 4 years with my Japanese wife and now we have understood it’s time to move on for our future, and therefore go back to Europe. We all know Japan is a homogeneous country. It will never become a cosmopolitan society like the West. Who are we to change a deep-rooted, xenophobic culture where Japanese have been living for centuries? It’s much easier for Japanese to live in the West than for us to live in Japan. There are big Japanese communities in every Western country. Japan is not an expats’ resort by tradition. Foreigners come here either for marriage or overseas contracts, meaning it can be a beautiful place to live for a few years but not to settle permanently. My suggestion to all those disillusioned gaijin is to make the most of your stay in Japan and return home when you think you’ve had enough.

    JOHN TESTORE

    Takasaki, Gunma Pref.

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

    Unwelcome, no matter what
    This article implied that Japan is seeking to welcome foreigners, which is far from the case. I came here (unwillingly) under a Japanese scholarship, graduated here top of my class, work here, did volunteering to help in disaster relief . . . But everyday I wake up, I find myself in the same position: potential thief when I walk in a store; a potential terrorist when I enter a government building, even when I spend my time there volunteering; my neighbor keeping watch on me every day; unable to obtain a bank recommendation when I need it . . . In my case, I gave up on Japan and will (leave) with a bitter taste.

    NAME WITHHELD

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

    Homogeneity works well
    Japan has been often criticized for its immigration policy, which does make it somewhat difficult for a non-Japanese (NJ) to obtain permanent residency or citizenship. I disagree that this policy has worked to Japan’s disadvantage in the global labor market. . . . (Arudou) says Japan needs a new immigration ministry that would decide clear public standards that would give immigrants what they want. It is not an obligation of the government to give immigrants what they want. The (role of the) ministry is to be sure that the immigrants who are allowed into Japan will obey the laws of Japan and not become wards of the state.

    Also, I disagree with Arudou’s desire to have citizenship based on birth in Japan. Look at the U.S.: Illegal aliens come into the U.S. and have what is called an “anchor baby.” The baby is automatically a U.S. citizen, and his/her parents then become eligible for permanent residency and then citizenship. And the American taxpayer pays for their health care, housing, food stamps, education and more. They create their enclaves, demand bilingual classes, etcetera, and never learn English.

    Japan has been very fortunate to have about 98 percent of its population (form) a homogeneous society, in which the people share a common language and culture. Of course there are local variances, but by and large the people speak one language, which helps to maintain a high level of literacy and an appreciation of a common culture, language and history. . . . Debito Arudou should abide by the laws of immigration of Japan, stop whining or simply find another place to live.

    KARL E. WAHL

    Bellevue, Wa.

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

    Let Japan run its own shop
    I am an American who lived in Japan for 4 years and find it pathetic how many people want to force Western ideologies onto Japan. Japan is its own country. Let them do as they please. At least they can control their immigration issues, unlike most European countries and the United States. I bemoan how my country, the United States, can’t tackle or has an unwillingness to tackle the issue. Japan has a right to keep the country as Japan sees fit. Forcing non-Japanese moral values on it to satisfy the short-term aging population issue is not in best interests of Japan.

    MIKE TULL

    Address withheld

    ENDS

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    Posted in Bad Social Science, Discussions, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies | 52 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 31, 2009

    Posted on Saturday, October 31st, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
    UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 31, 2009

    Table of Contents:

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    CHILD ABDUCTION ISSUE STILL HAS LEGS
    1) Letter from US Senators Boxer and Corker to Obama re Child Abductions, for his Nov 12 visit to Japan
    2) Joint statement by eight governments re Japan’s untenable stance on international child abductions
    3) Global Post’s Justin McCurry on Savoie Child Abduction Case. Issue isn’t passe yet.
    4) Letter to Prime Minister Hatoyama regarding Child Abductions and legislative lag, from a Left-Behind Parent
    5) MSNBC.com/AP on left-behind dads in Japan regardless of nationality

    FALLOUT FROM ISSUES OF LABOR, HISTORY, IMMIGRATION, DOLPHIN AND OTHER SLAUGHTERS
    6) Mainichi: Numerous foreign trainees forced to work under harsh conditions in Japan, even to death
    7) Mainichi: Chinese trainees file complaint with labor bureau over 350 yen per hour overtime
    8 ) Sakanaka Hidenori’s latest paper on assimilation of NJ now translated into English, full text
    9) Economist.com BANYAN column on DPJ moves to right historical wrongs
    10) Fallout from “The Cove”: TV’s “South Park” takes on Japan’s dolphin slaughters and whale hunts
    11) Tangent: Microsoft apologizes for photoshopping out black man from its Poland advertising. Contrast with “Mr James”
    12) Tangent: Japan Times reporter Eric Johnston on getting freelance reporting jobs in Japan
    13) Tokyo International Players present “Honiefaith”, true story of NJ murder, Nov 6-7-8 in Shibuya’s OUR SPACE Theater
    14) New Debito.org Poll: “What should be the DPJ’s NUMBER ONE priority policy for helping NJ in Japan?”

    … and finally …
    15) My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Tues Nov 3 on Japan politicization of demographic science
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
    Daily blog updates, RSS feed, and Newsletter signup at http://www.debito.org
    Freely Forwardable

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    CHILD ABDUCTION ISSUE STILL HAS LEGS

    1) Letter from US Senators Boxer and Corker to Obama re Child Abductions, for his Nov 12 visit to Japan

    Letter from two US senators to Obama on Japan’s Child Abductions issue:

    “It is particularly troubling that Japan remains the only G-7 industrialized nation that has yet to accede to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Hague Convention has been adopted by more than 70 countries and is an important tool for those seeking access to and/or the return of a child abducted across international borders. We agree that Japan’s accession to the Hague Convention would result in important reforms to Japanese family law and we are grateful that the United States continues to prioritize this issue.

    “But while we acknowledge that Japan’s accession to the Hague Convention is an important goal, the United States must also work with Japan to establish a bilateral mechanism to assist with the resolution of current cases. This is critical because the Hague Convention does not pertain to already completed abductions, and therefore cannot be used as a tool to resolve existing cases. We urge your Administration to seriously consider initiatives, including mediation, to foster cooperative and coordinated engagement with the Japanese government on cases of international parental child abduction. Many parents have not seen or heard from their children in years. We cannot sit back and wait while these children grow up without one parent.

    “We feel strongly that the recent election of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), under the leadership of Prime Minister Hatoyama, is a unique opportunity for the United States to reinvigorate its dialogue with Japan on the issue of international parental child abduction. As such, we urge you to ensure that the United States continues to raise this issue at the highest possible levels in the context of our nations’ close bilateral relationship.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4874

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    2) Joint statement by eight governments re Japan’s untenable stance on international child abductions

    Joint Statement on International Child Abduction

    By the Ambassadors of Australia, Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States

    Excerpt: “Because parental child abduction involving Japan affects so many of our citizens, we, the Ambassadors to Japan of Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, and the Deputy Head of Mission from the Embassy of Australia, called on Justice Minister Chiba today to address our concerns.

    “We place the highest priority on the welfare of children who have been the victims of international parental child abduction and believe that our children should grow up with access to both parents. Therefore, in our meeting with Minister Chiba we called upon Japan to accede to the Convention. We also urged that Japan meanwhile identify and implement measures to enable parents who are separated from their children to maintain contact with them and to visit them.

    “Japan is an important friend and partner for each of our countries, and we share many values in common. This makes it all the more important to develop tangible solutions to cases of parental child abduction in Japan. We are eager to work closely and in a positive manner with the new Japanese government on this issue.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4842

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    3) Global Post’s Justin McCurry on Savoie Child Abduction Case. Issue isn’t passe yet.

    Excerpt: Savoie’s is one of about 80 cases of international parental child abduction involving U.S. citizens, while France and Britain are dealing with 35 each.

    The unofficial number is much higher, particularly when failed marriages between Japanese and people from other Asian countries are included. The Assembly for French Overseas Nationals for Japan estimates that 10,000 children with dual citizenship in Japan are prevented from seeing their foreign parent after separation or divorce.

    Japanese courts habitually award custody of children to the mother. In many cases, they say they are simply trying to protect the rights of women fleeing abusive former husbands, a claim vigorously disputed by campaigners.

    The country’s courts will be tested again later this week when Shane Clarke appeals in a custody battle with Japanese ex-wife…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4857

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    4) Letter to Prime Minister Hatoyama regarding Child Abductions and legislative lag, from a Left-Behind Parent

    Conclusion: While I believe you, Prime Minister Hatoyama, are sincere about resolving this issue, the facts lead me to distrust the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Justice and the Foreign Ministry. The Judicial Review Council and the Supreme Court knew about these problems in the first Judicial Reforms that began 10 years ago but chose not to face the tough issue of Parental Rights head on. Now, Mr. Hatoyama, are you relying on these same bureaucrats again? Why, is it that Professor Nishitani refers to a draft statute created by Japanese Scholars that would have paved the way for Japan to implement the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the bureaucrats are sounding as though we have to start from scratch? If the Judicial Reform Council is drafting this legislation then who are the current members? I hope it is not any of the retired Supreme Court Justices that made the 2000 ruling. Furthermore, the Democratic Party of Japan’s Manifesto states the cabinet will be the center of policy-making. What happens if the DPJ loses power in the next election, which will be in two years, do we start from scratch again? Let’s see what Professor Yuko Nishitani and the Japanese Scholars proposed; maybe the cabinet can start from there. If the government wants the international community and all left-behind parents to cooperate while reforms are being created we need to know, What Are We Bargaining For?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4838

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    5) MSNBC.com/AP on left-behind dads in Japan regardless of nationality

    Slightly dated article recently published again in the South China Morning Post, but still worth a read, for how the issues of Japanese family law and child abductions affect Japanese too:

    AP: [Left-behind father] Yoshida has banded together with other divorced fathers to form a support group, one of several that have sprung up in recent years.

    A few lawyers and lawmakers have showed support for their cause. A bar association group is studying parenting and visitation arrangements in other countries such as Australia.

    Japan also faces a growing number of international custody disputes. The U.S., Britain, France and Canada have urged Japan to sign the 1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, which has been signed by 80 countries. It seeks to standardize laws among participating countries to ensure that custody decisions can be made by appropriate courts and protect the rights of access of both parents.

    Japan’s government has argued that signing the convention may not protect Japanese women and their children from abusive foreign husbands. Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said this week that officials were reviewing the matter.

    Divorced fathers say that joining the Hague convention would be a major step toward bringing the possibility of joint custody to Japan because it would require a major overhaul of the country’s family laws.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4803

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    FALLOUT FROM ISSUES OF LABOR, HISTORY, IMMIGRATION, DOLPHIN AND OTHER SLAUGHTERS

    6) Mainichi: Numerous foreign trainees forced to work under harsh conditions in Japan, even to death

    Mainichi: The Justice Ministry has confirmed that a record 452 companies and other organizations that accepted foreign trainees were involved in illegal practices last year. About 60 percent of them involve violations of labor-related laws, including unpaid wages and overtime allowances.

    A survey conducted by the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization (JITCO) has found that a record 34 trainees died in fiscal 2008. Nearly half, or 16 of them, died of brain and heart diseases that are often caused by long working hours. Experts say that there is a high possibility that they died from overwork.

    With the amendment to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, labor related laws, which had applied to foreign trainees from their second year, now apply to those in their first year of training. As a result, it is now guaranteed that foreign trainees can sign proper employment contracts with their employers, just like Japanese workers.

    The government is poised to revise its regulations to inspect companies that accept foreign trainees at least once a month to see if their working conditions are legal as well as stiffen penalties for businesses involved in illegal labor practices and strictly examine the terms of contracts between foreign trainees and employment agencies in their home countries.

    However, support groups question the effectiveness of these measures, pointing out that many of those in their second year of training are subjected to illegal labor practices.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4436

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    7) Mainichi: Chinese trainees file complaint with labor bureau over 350 yen per hour overtime

    Mainichi: According to the complaint and other sources, the [Chinese "Trainee"] women each worked as many as 209 overtime hours per month, and about 2,000 hours per year. The 350-400 yen per hour the women claim they were paid for that overtime falls short of Nagasaki Prefecture’s minimum wage of 629 yen per hour, and well below the standard set by the Labor Standards Act, which requires employers to pay 1.25-1.6 times the regular wage for overtime.

    The women claim that during busy periods they each worked from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m., and sometimes did not have a single day off per month. They apparently signed a contract paying them a monthly salary based on the minimum wage, but that excluded provisions for overtime. Working an average of 173 hours per month at the minimum wage would equal a monthly paycheck of about 110,000 yen.

    However, the women claim that the company told them their pay was being directly deposited in their bank accounts and did not show them the payment details. Furthermore, the company held both the women’s bankbooks and passports. The company president also apparently checked the clock whenever one of the women went to the washroom and deducted that time from their breaks.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4867

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    8 ) Sakanaka Hidenori’s latest paper on assimilation of NJ now translated into English, full text

    Sakanaka Hidenori, head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute and author of Nyuukan Senki (his experiences within Japan’s Immigration Bureau), has just had his most recent paper translated into English. Debito.org is proud to feature this paper downloadable in full here, with an excerpt immediately below.

    Sakanaka-san has written for Debito.org before, and his 2007 work, “A New Framework for Japan’s Immigration Policies” can be found here. He has taken great efforts to encourage immigration policy within Japan (his prognosis on “Big Japan vs. Small Japan” is worth considering).

    Now for his latest, translated by Kalu Obuka. Excerpt, then full download:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4832

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    9) Economist.com BANYAN column on DPJ moves to right historical wrongs

    Here’s The Economist’s Asia-focus “Banyan” column last week, on the DPJ’s attempt to try and redress the historical running sores that pass for diplomatic relations between Japan and the rest of Asia.

    As I voted in the last Debito.org blog poll, the DPJ keeps surprising me with their progressive plans and policies. The proposal for a definitive joint-edited history book of the Asian region is precisely what UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene recommended as a salve years ago.

    The Economist is right to express a certain degree of skepticism: so many hopes for countries to act like adults, and own up to the bad parts of history (viz. former PM Abe’s call for official whitewashing in the name of promoting Japan as “beautiful” — i.e. shame about the past just gets in the way of training Japanese to love their country), have been dashed time and time again. But as long as the DPJ can maintain the momentum of “not quite business as usual, folks”, I think we just might see decades of regional rhetorical logjam broken, and Japan discovering that international goodwill might be worth as much as good trade relations.

    Economist.com: Yukio Hatoyama, Japan’s new prime minister, has pleased the neighbours by promising that rule by his Democratic Party of Japan would transform Japan’s relations with them. He made the pledge in both Seoul, where he met South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak, on October 8th, and then in Beijing at a three-way summit with China’s leaders. Unlike the weasel-worded Liberal Democratic Party, which long ran the country, Mr Hatoyama’s new government, he says, “has the courage to face up to history.”

    Both Mr Lee and China’s prime minister, Wen Jiabao, were delighted. Dealing honestly with historical matters, they affirmed, would make it much easier to tackle contemporary challenges together●notably, getting North Korea to give up its nukes, and deepening economic co-operation. Mr Lee said Mr Hatoyama had opened the way for “future-oriented relations”. The talk now is of reviving old plans for an undersea tunnel linking South Korea and Japan. Emperor Akihito may visit South Korea, a first. Both South Korea and China have applauded Japan’s proposal for a jointly compiled history textbook…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4776

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    10) Fallout from “The Cove”: TV’s “South Park” takes on Japan’s dolphin slaughters and whale hunts

    I’m not kidding. This is making the rounds of the blogoverse. South Park takes on the Japanese dolphin culls and whale hunts, thanks to the publicity from “The Cove”. It’s worth seeing. As a South Park fan, I must say this is all within character for the show… and it as usual ties the issue up into large intellectual knots, and pushes the frontiers of “taboo humor”. Enjoy, I guess.

    http://www.southparkstudios.com/episodes/251888/

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    11) Tangent: Microsoft apologizes for photoshopping out black man from its Poland advertising. Contrast with “Mr James”

    Bit of a tangent but not really. Here’s what happens when another multinational apparently caters to “regional sensibilities” — this time Microsoft photoshopping out an African-American in one of its ads to cater to a Polish audience.

    Contrast with “Mr James”. We see none of the cultural relativity that the whole McDonald’s Japan “Mr James” issue got (or even claims of “just-deserts” from certain parties). And Microsoft even apologizes — something McDonald’s Japan has steadfastly refused to do (and still runs the “Mr James” campaign to this day; fortunately it finishes shortly). Any theories behind the difference?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4438

    BTW, “Mr James” is saying goodbye to everyone on his “blog” today. Leaving behind such fond memories, boo hoo. He’s in Kushiro now, seems to be avoiding Sapporo. Wonder why.
    http://mcdonalds.dtmp.jp/blog/2009/10/091030.html

    He’s also suddenly sprouted the ability to write in kanji, hiragana, and katakana. What a quick study!

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    12) Tangent: Japan Times reporter Eric Johnston on getting freelance reporting jobs in Japan

    I attended the Japan Writers’ Conference last weekend in Kyoto (even presented, handout here). A very good time with some very good presentations, one of which was Eric Johnston’s excellent presentation on how to find freelance journalist jobs in Japan. There was so much information in his powerpoint that I asked if I could blog it here for wider consumption. Yeppers, he said, so here are some excerpts. Download the whole powerpoint below for the full story.

    REPORTING OPPORTUNITIES IN JAPAN:
    A Practical Guide
    By Eric Johnston, Deputy Editor, The Japan Times, Osaka bureau…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4802

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    13) Tokyo International Players present “Honiefaith”, true story of NJ murder, Nov 6-7-8 in Shibuya’s OUR SPACE Theater

    BY POPULAR DEMAND, TOKYO INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS PRESENTS A SECOND PRODUCTION OF “HONIEFAITH”
    Written and directed by Monty DiPietro

    When a Filipino hostess’ dismembered body is discovered in a Tokyo coin locker, Manila newspaper reporter Victor Balmori is dispatched to Japan. Balmori is looking for a story, he finds a nightmare.

    Written by Monty DiPietro, “Honiefaith” is a three-act play based on real events. The premiere of “Honiefaith” opened Tokyo International Players’ “Second Stage” series in June, playing to full houses at a ‘black box’ theater in Hatagaya. The November production is being directed by the author, and features Filipino television and film actor Percival Florendo Bugayong in the lead role. The play is in English, and runs about two hours with intermission.

    November 6-7-8, 2009 at Our Space Theater:
    Fri. Nov. 6 ● 7:00 pm
    Sat. Nov. 7 ● 2:00 pm
    Sat. Nov. 7 ● 7:00 pm
    Sun. Nov. 8 ● 2:00 pm
    Sun. Nov. 8 ● 7:00 pm
    More details, flyer, and link to actual case history in this blog entry.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4826

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    14) New Debito.org Poll: “What should be the DPJ’s NUMBER ONE priority policy for helping NJ in Japan?”

    Choices:

    Allowing Dual (or multiple) Nationality
    Allowing noncitizen suffrage in local elections
    Creating an Immigration Ministry to draft policies
    Stamping out labor abuses of Trainees, NJ workers and educators
    Creating stronger labor laws for everyone
    Signing the Hague Convention on Child Abductions
    Allowing NJ to register residency the same way as Japanese
    Allowing joint custody and visitation after divorce
    Creating clear guidelines preventing the Japanese police from racial profiling
    Granting citizenship from birth, not blood
    Easing naturalization requirements
    Easing Immigration Bureau’s visa requirements
    Passing a law against racial discrimination
    Strengthening the MOJ Bureau of Human Rights
    Easing credit and loan requirements for NJ
    Making clear public statements praising and encouraging immigration
    Abolishing the “Re-Entry Permit” system
    Something other than the above
    Don’t know / Can’t say / Don’t care etc.

    Vote at any Debito.org page
    http://www.debito.org

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    … and finally …

    15) My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Tues Nov 3 on Japan politicization of demographic science

    Last June I went to a forum on Japan’s future as an elderly society. All the Japanese scientists, however, refused to discuss the issue of immigration as a possible alternative to Japan’s economic decline. Seriously. Demographic studies had become so riddled with politics that Japanese scientists were resorting to bad science. More in my column next Tuesday (Wednesday in the provinces).

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    All for this week. Thanks for reading!
    Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
    Daily blog updates, RSS feed, and Newsletter signup at http://www.debito.org
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 31, 2009 ENDS

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    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 25, 2009

    Posted on Saturday, July 25th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatarUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 25, 2009
    Table of Contents:
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    IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS AND DEBITO.ORG READER REPORTS
    1) Naturalized J citizen Jiei stopped by Osaka cops for Gaijin Card Check. Shitsukoidom ensues
    2) JIPI book on “The Concept for a Japanese-Style Immigration Nation”, by Sakanaka Hidenori
    3) Discrimination at Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC, report by Roy Choudhury
    4) On the cannibalistic NJ labor market in Japan: short essay
    5) A spate of Debito.org-related news links, on PR, visas with kids, NJ unemp insurance, and Roppongi drink spiking
    6) Greenmailing and Bloat within Japan’s Bio-Gas market, by James Eriksson

    UPDATES
    7) Japan Times, NHK, Terrie’s Take & Mainichi on Japan’s child abductions from broken marriages, and Hague Treaty developments
    (complete with heavily-biased news segment from NHK)
    8 ) Launching websites: youtube human rights, and Childrens’ Rights Network Japan
    9) IHT/Asahi on Japan’s reticence to sign Hague Treaty on Child Abduction
    10) UN NEWS: UN expert calls on Japan to boost action in combating human trafficking
    11) Murder suspect Ichihashi’s reward upped to 10 million yen
    12) Kyodo: Resident NJ numbers rise yet again in 2008, according to MOJ

    BRIGHT SHINY THINGS
    13) Review of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES in Kansai Scene July 2009, September Road Show
    14) Aso Cabinet Email Mag: Aso explains himself away to the outside world as he asks for renewed power
    15) Some brief commonsensical thoughts on Tokyo Election July 12, 2009
    16) Sunday Tangent: Stray thoughts on Rbt. McNamara’s timely passing

    … and finally …
    17) SAPPORO SOURCE July 2009, Column 2 on Sapporo’s Summer of Love. Every Summer. (full text)
    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
    Daily blog www.debito.org, facebook and twitter arudoudebito
    Freely Forwardable

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS AND DEBITO.ORG READER REPORTS

    1) Naturalized J citizen Jiei stopped by Osaka cops for Gaijin Card check. Shitsukoidom ensues

    Here’s an important bellwether essay from Jiei, a fellow naturalized Japanese citizen who was singled out for a Gaijin Card Check by Osaka Cops last night. He tells the story of how he stood up for himself despite being explicitly suspected of being drunk or on drugs, and for sitting on a swingset while white when taking a break from jogging in a park. He cites the law back to the cops chapter and verse, but they undeterredly continue the questioning and racial profiling. I won’t give away the ending.

    The point is, this is going to happen more and more often as more people naturalize, and more Japanese of international marriages come of age and get hassled for not looking “Japanese” enough to allay cops’ suspicion. This is not legally sanctioned, in any case. Which means people must learn about their rights and assert them, because there are no other checks and balances here.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3925

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    2) JIPI book on “The Concept for a Japanese-Style Immigration Nation”, by Sakanaka Hidenori

    I received this book from Director Sakanaka Hidenori at JIPI (Japan Immigration Policy Institute) two days ago. Nice little handbook, haven’t read it yet, but here are scans of the cover, the contact details for you to get your own copy, and table of contents. You see, despite the virtual taboo on considering immigration as an option within some public fora, other people are still willing to put pen to paper and give it a good think.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3918

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    3) Discrimination at Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC, report by Roy Choudhury

    Roy Choudhury writes: Ernst & Young’s Shame: Racism institutionalizes itself in the Japanese wing of the accounting giant

    Accounting can do wonders, but just where in the free world do you find an audit firm whose Global Code of Conduct shuns discrimination, but whose lead partner confirms that non-Japanese nationals are barred from getting permanent contracts? And whose department head admits to taking “language differences” into account even for a job that needs no Japanese? Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC (or EY-Japan), the country’s largest accounting firm, has got some explaining to do.

    I worked for EY-Japan for two years (2006 – 2008) and have firsthand knowledge of how they treat people. As a US citizen, I can tell you I have never seen anything like it. They happen to be institutionally racist. And I can prove it:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3885

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    4) On the cannibalistic NJ labor market in Japan: short essay

    A quick essay this morning regarding the negativity within the NJ job market and marketplace of ideas. Excerpt:

    Why not try being more supportive and positive? I have tried to do my bit over the decades. The Blacklist of Japanese Universities. The Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants. Debito.org. Lessons I’ve learned to make sure people avoid the pitfalls I fell into, and make a better life here. Anyone can do that. Anyone should. Promote the dignity of the individual rather than the cannibalistic collective. Because whatever you put into the pool of communal experiences, be they supportively informative or negatively discouraging, will eventually come back to affect you and your life here in Japan with interest.

    Animated discussion on this at:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=3895

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    5) A spate of Debito.org-related news links

    Yomiuri: MOJ revises guidelines to allow illegals with kids to stay longer
    Mainichi: New special residency permit guidelines established
    Mainichi: U.S. warns of drink-spiking in Tokyo
    Mainichi: Recognizes immigration revision is possibly too strict (in Japanese only)
    Nikkei.net: On promoting suffrage rights for PR
    Mainichi: Some NJ not getting unemployment pay

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3854

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    6) Greenmailing and Bloat within Japan’s Bio-Gas market, by James Eriksson

    Turning the keyboard to James Eriksson of Monbetsu, who writes an expose of the Bio-Gas market:How the “eco” fad is being used as a means to justify yet more bloat and corruption, with the domestic media (with its lack of ability to do investigative journalism or even simple mathematics) a willing accomplice at perpetuating the lies being told within the industry. Read on, I dare you, and wonder how people could ever be fooled by all this.

    Excerpt: In rural Japan there is the environmental concern, engineering know how, work ethic, and pent up energies waiting to break out if we ever get a chance to break out/past the failed models of development followed for the last 40 years.

    These visions and desires do not generally exist in the civil service whose educational background to pass the civil service test is woefully incomplete. It usually does not exist in the construction tribe who have little experience outside of bloated public works dependencies and resulting political donations. It does not exist in the political elite who can’t read a balance sheet and don’t know the meaning of the term to “stand guard over the public purse”.

    It does not exist in the Hokkaido Development Agency who have funded hundreds if not thousands of money losing bloated projects. It does not exist in government officials in Tokyo where sidewalks that no one will walk on are thought to be ‘infrastructure’. Unfortunately the leadership for the first few years will have to come from elsewhere. Japan cannot afford “Potemkin Villages” masquerading as green projects. The world faces an environmental crisis where cost effectiveness and financial sustainability are absolute requirements.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3866

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    UPDATES

    7) Japan Times, NHK, Terrie’s Take & Mainichi on Japan’s child abductions from broken marriages,and Hague Treaty developments (complete with heavily-biased news segment from NHK)

    What follows are several articles on Japan not signing the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, and how after divorce in Japan one parent gets denied all access to their child (especially in international marriages, where children get abducted to another country). This has been getting international press and diplomatic attention. Finally NHK did a report on it on July 15, and it was a crock — trying too hard to present the Japanese as being kawaisoued (even presented a Japanese mother as being forced to live in Japan against her will, hostage to American courts, while one who abducted to Japan managed to escape the NJ “cultural” tendency towards violence. Very, very disappointing NHK, if not damaging of the case being made internationally by left-behind parents. I get the feeling the wagons are circling to galvanize public opinion against Hague. And I speak too as a left-behind parent who hasn’t really seen his kids for more than five years now.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3481

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    8 ) Launching websites: youtube human rights, and Childrens’ Rights Network Japan

    Two recently-launched online sites dealing with discrimination that deserve publicity and assistance, and Debito.org is glad to give it:

    VISUAL VIGILANTES
    LAUNCH OF JAPAN AGAINST DISCRIMINATION YOUTUBE CHANNEL
    VIDEO RECORDS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES

    http://www.youtube.com/user/JADvideo77

    RELAUNCH OF CHILDREN’S RIGHTS NETWORK JAPAN WEBSITE
    AS CRN JAPAN DOT NET

    The CHILDREN’S RIGHTS NETWORK JAPAN website has been a comprehensive index of children abducted or otherwise denied access to one of their parents after divorce or separation. It has brought to light the very real problem in Japan of how marriages gone sour result in children growing up without a parent.
    http://www.crnjapan.net

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3844

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    9) IHT/Asahi on Japan’s reticence to sign Hague Treaty on Child Abduction

    Asahi: Broken international marriages involving Japanese in which one parent takes offspring overseas without the other’s consent are on the rise, putting the government in a bind about how to deal with such cases.

    The question is whether Japan should be a party to an international treaty aimed at settling such parental “abduction” disputes across national borders.

    Tokyo is under pressure — from within and from outside — to join the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction of 1980, which now has 81 parties.

    According to embassies here, there have been 73 child abductions by Japanese parents from the United States, 36 from Britain and 33 each from Canada and France. [NB: Time period not indicated.]

    Lawyer Kensuke Ohnuki, who handles about 200 divorces among international matches a year, says most child “abductions” by Japanese women are a result of spousal violence. The treaty does not take a parent’s reason for fleeing into consideration, he said.

    COMMENT: Leaving aside yet another media opportunity for this crank lawyer to make yet another bigoted statement, I’ll come out and say it plainly:

    The GOJ doesn’t want to cooperate with these international treaties because we have enough trouble getting Japanese to have babies. We don’t want to surrender them to NJ overseas. I have heard that theory off the record from an international lawyer quoting somebody in the ministries. And I bet that even if Japan signs the Hague, it won’t enforce it (similar in the ways it will not enforce the CCPR or the CERD treaties). Why would the GOJ ever give more power over custody to NJ than it would its own citizens, who can already abduct and shut out one parent after divorce thanks in part to the koseki system?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3857

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    10) UN NEWS: UN expert calls on Japan to boost action in combating human trafficking

    UN NEWS: 17 July 2009 Although Japan recognizes the seriousness of the problem of human trafficking within its borders, the East Asian nation must take more concrete action to fight the scourge, an independent United Nations human rights expert said today.

    “Human trafficking affects every country of the world, and Japan is clearly affected as a destination country for many of those victims,” said Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, wrapping up a six-day visit to the country.

    The majority of trafficking is for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation in Japan, but she pointed out that trafficking for labour exploitation is also cause for great concern.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3888

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    11) Murder suspect Ichihashi’s reward upped to 10 million yen

    Murder suspect Ichihashi Tatsuya, who escaped from the police some months ago, leaving behind the murdered and mutilated corpse of English teacher Lindsay Ann Hawker in a tub of sand on his apartment balcony, is still on the loose.

    That’s not news. What is news is how the reward has now been multiplied by 10, to ten million yen. Take a look at these wanted posters: Pachinko Jackpot Zorome style!

    Slight correction. Ichihashi, unlike his other fellow murder suspects, is still not wanted for “murder”. Only for the “abandonment of a corpse”. A charge that seems to pop up quite a bit, I argued in a Japan Times article last March, in cases involving murders of foreigners. Ah well. At least he’s ten times more wanted than the others by value.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3790

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    12) Kyodo: Resident NJ numbers rise yet again in 2008, according to MOJ

    Kyodo: The number of registered foreign residents in Japan hit a record high of 2,217,000 at the end of 2008, marking an increase of around 50% in the last decade, a report released by the Justice Ministry said Friday. The registered foreign population accounts for 1.74% of Japan’s total population, it said.

    COMMENT: The study of Japan’s internationalization has of late become a dismal science (more on that in an extensive commentary). It gives me hope that NJ are still coming despite all the GOJ disincentives. But we still have to see how 2009 turns out, since I think it’s possible the numbers of registered NJ in Japan may drop for the first time in five decades this year…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3824

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    BRIGHT SHINY THINGS

    13) Review of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES in Kansai Scene July 2009, September Road Show

    Here’s a nice review of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES that reader SD advised me of a few days ago (I’m too far north to get this magazine). From Kansai Scene magazine July 2009. Click on the graphic to expand in your browser.

    If you’d like to see the movie for yourself, I’m hosting another tour Aug 30-Sept 13 between Okayama and Tokyo. Schedule here. If you’d like to order a copy for educational purposes etc., click here.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3905

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    14) Aso Cabinet Email Mag: Aso explains himself away to the outside world as he asks for renewed power

    Aso Cabinet Email Mag, on the eve of the dissolution of his administration:

    The responsibility of politics is none other than to safeguard people’s daily lives and to protect Japan.

    As I am in a position of responsibility, I must clarify the fiscal revenues for policies and the path to restore fiscal health in the long term. I must also show a clear diplomatic vision to protect the people. I will work together with the people to create a vision of the future of Japan.

    How do we balance the enhancement of the social security system, such as pensions, medical care, and nursing care, with the rebuilding of public finances? How do we work with the international community to address the North Korean issue, which threatens the security of Asia, and the piracy issue, and to fight against terrorism?

    For these difficult issues, I will listen to what the people have to say and dedicate myself to fulfilling my political responsibility to safeguard people’s daily lives and to protect Japan.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3861

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    15) Some brief commonsensical thoughts on Tokyo Election July 12, 2009

    As usual (I get all geeky looking at election results; dunno why), let me give you a quick set of thoughts on yesterday’s election in Tokyo. I’m not going to provide really deep politico analysis on Japanese politics (that can be found most fascinatingly here and here), just some common sense. Excerpt:

    As my friend said last night, “The LDP have been taken to the woodshed.” The LDP dropped from 48 to 38 seats. Although KMT held on to their seats (23), the DPJ was the biggest gainer, rising from 35 seats to 54. Since the majority line is at 64, for the first time an LDP-fronted coalition is not in charge of the Tokyo Prefectural Assembly.

    PM Aso has kept saying that the Tokyo Elections have no bearing on national politics, but it seems that he’s a minority of one in that belief. Even his own party is calling for his resignation. He refuses to leave the helm of the LDP. Good. That means this proud old fool will probably drive his party further into the ground than ever before. It’s hard to envision, but if he manages to cause the dissolution of the LDP itself, he could even go down as the worst PM ever (that honor I bestow unto former PM Murayama, who killed the Socialist Party during his Faustian bargain for the prime ministership in the 1990s).

    The DPJ has decided to introduce a vote of “No Confidence”, and Aso decided today that the Diet would be dissolved on July 21, with elections on August 30. As a voter, I’m looking forward to that. The long hot summer has just gotten hotter. And we may emerge with a brand new polity and sweep out the long-entrenched and corrupt incumbents at last.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3837

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    16) Sunday Tangent: Stray thoughts on Rbt. McNamara’s timely passing

    As a tangent this Sunday, I thought I’d say a few words on the timely passing (hell, he was 93, and outlived most of his compatriots of this generation) of former US Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara one of the most promising boffins of the 20th Century, and the so-called primary architect of the US’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

    Excerpt: I do see McNamara as a person who was too smart for his own good. As one of the “Golden Boys” within the Kennedy Administration Intelligentsia (carried on through to the end of Johnson in 1968), here was a man seen as able to take on all of the world’s problems with a slide rule and a command of statistics. As long has he had enough information, I believe (and so did many others believe) that he thought he could solve anything…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3795

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    … and finally …

    17) SAPPORO SOURCE July 2009, Column 2 on Sapporo’s Summer of Love. Every Summer. (full text)

    My second column for the new Sapporo free paper SAPPORO SOURCE came out a few days ago, again as last time talking about something completely different: The weather. Last time was the hell of Sapporo Winters. This time the heaven of Sapporo Summers. Enjoy!

    =================================
    HOKKAIDO’S SUMMER OF LOVE. EVERY SUMMER.
    Column 2 for the SAPPORO SOURCE “DEBITO” column
    To be published in the July 2009 issue
    DRAFT NINE

    Blogged at http://www.debito.org/?p=3868

    Last column I talked about our wretched Hokkaido winters. Now for the polar opposite: our seductive summers!

    Come what May, Hokkaido bursts into color. Unlike down south, where the flowering trees stagger their blossoms (first plum, then cherry weeks later), we go full bloom practically overnight. Like fireworks beginning with the finale, then tapering into a latent green. Like black-and-white Dorothy opening the door to a Technicolor Oz.

    Then by June visits the long-awaited perfect summer. And I mean perfect. July, August, and half of September are usually sunny. Not too hot, not too cold, with a cool breeze at night. While the rest of Japan swelters and kvetches about stuff like “heat islands”, few Dosanko even buy air conditioners.

    No wonder. Although during Hokkaido winters you hunker in your bunker, summers you open up your heart and let the outside in. My windows are apert 24-7. In my first apartment I even removed my sliding balcony doors, and had no wall for two months. I was effectively camping out all the time.

    I’m not alone. The entire island of Hokkaido — all 78,000 square kms of it — becomes a playground. Take any mode of transportation you prefer (me, bicycle) and explore the outback. Thousands of motorcyclists escape the south to meadowcrash, pitch tents, sleep cheap in people’s garages, and just plain tour — sampling barbecue, seafood, and produce from locals taking advantage of the summer windfall. It’s the Happy Season; even the lonely parts of Hokkaido are awash in cash.

    Hokkaido summers are better for early birds. If you check a Universal Time map, Hokkaido is on the far eastern edge of our time zone (Sakhalin, directly north, is an hour behind, and the Russian province due north of Nemuro is two hours back). Moreover unlike Russia, Japan won’t institute daylight savings time, so Hokkaido’s outback sleeps through a 3:30AM sunrise at solstice. Even with sundowns at a wastefully early 7PM, our long calm twilights, with the smell of outdoor grill wafting through the curtains, still bring out the night owls.

    Hokkaido summers are a celebration of life and creation. The forests are growing full blast (after all, they only have a window of five months), all the crops you love (from hops to potatoes) are ripening, and anything green and flowering is filling the air with fresh oxygen and fragrance. Everyone is getting some while they can. Birds are doing it. Bees too. And humans?

    Well, summer’s peak is for me the beer garden in Sapporo Odori. Bacchanalia beckons an orgy of unbuttoned shirts and diaphanous skirts. Like every northern territory worldwide (consider Scandinavia), everyone’s outside getting their licks and kicks while they can. Guzzle any night and you can sense pheromones, ringent rosebuds moistening, and windows of opportunity opening. It’s sexy. Even the flowering acacia trees smell like nocturnal emissions. Afterwards, the revelers repair to Susukino. Or maybe a block or two beyond.

    Summer is what keeps me here. The first time I suffered through that long cold lonely winter, I wondered how why a million people would ever congregate in Sapporo. Then in 1988 I experienced my first July and August. Got some, got plenty. I cycled the city practically every night, listening to crickets bray in gardens, weird bug-birds caroming through the night, and fading police sirens chasing revving motorcycle gangs, all echoing down the warm dark cityblock corridors.

    It was a siren song. I was smitten with Sapporo then and I still am now. Like the first time you hear a great melody, and it introduces you to an entire musical genre you explore for years, I’ve spent my life trying to recapture the peace and calm I felt those nights.

    To this day, I still cycle Hokkaido after sundown, sometimes all night, to see how far I can get (I’ve reached Asahikawa and Oshamanbe). Why travel outside this August playground when all you need is right here?

    To be sure, Hokkaido summers almost — and I stress, almost — make up for the dire winters. It’s still worth the wait. You can experience the Summer of Love in Hokkaido. Every summer. Take advantage. Get some.

    ENDS
    695 WORDS

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    Thanks for reading!
    Arudou Debito in Sapporo (debito@debito.org)
    Daily blog www.debito.org, facebook and twitter arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 25, 2009 ENDS

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    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 6, 2009

    Posted on Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 6, 2009
    Table of Contents:

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    NEWS:
    1) See I told you so #1: Newcomer PR outnumber Oldcomer Zainichis as of 2007
    2) NPA enforcing Hotel Management Law against exclusionary Prince Hotel Tokyo
    3) Yomiuri: NPA finally cracking down on Internet BBS threats and defamation
    4) Mainichi: Tourism to Japan plunges by over 40% compared to last year
    5) Metropolis Mag on how to get your housing deposit (shikikin) back

    BLUES:
    6) GOJ bribes Nikkei NJ with Golden Parachutes: Go home and don’t come back
    7) Ekonomisuto March 10 2009 re worsening job and living conditions for Nikkei Brazilians et al.
    8 ) Mainichi: Lawson hiring more NJ, offering Vietnamese scholarships
    9) Japan Times on Japan’s emerging NJ policing laws. Nichibenren: “violation of human rights”
    10) Mark in Yayoi on cop checkpoint #123, and “Cops”-style TV show transcript
    11) Japanese also fingerprinted, at Narita, voluntarily, for “convenience” (not terrorism or crime)

    REVIEWS:
    12) Thoughts on Suo Masayuki’s movie “I just didn’t do it”: A must-see.
    13) Audience reactions to documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES roadshow March 21-April 1
    Next showing Sapporo Apr 23, organizing next roadshow August-September
    14) Debito.org has citations in 37 books, according to Amazon
    15) The definition of “Gaijin” according to Tokyu Hands Nov 17, 2008

    … and finally... THE MUSE:
    16) Complete tangent: 1940 Herblock cartoon on inaction towards Hitler

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    By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
    Freely forwardable

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    NEWS:
    1) See I told you so #1: Newcomer PR outnumber Oldcomer Zainichis as of 2007

    Mainichi: With more and more foreign residents facing employment and immigration problems due to the ongoing recession, the Ministry of Justice is creating new “One Stop Centers” for foreign residents in the Kanto and Tokai regions to handle queries in one place…

    The number of native and Japan-born Koreans with special permanent residency, who have lived in Japan since the pre-war period, has been declining. However, the number of Chinese and Filipinos, as well as foreigners of Japanese descent whose employment was liberalized under the 1990 revision to the Law on Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition, has surged. In 2007, the number of these so-called “new comers” exceeded that of special permanent residents for the first time (440,000 vs. 430,000).

    COMMENT: Believe Immigration’s plausibly pleasant intentions if you like, but I’ll remain a little skeptical for the moment. Still mentioned is that hackneyed and ludicrous concern about garbage separation, after all, demonstrating that the GOJ is still dealing in trivialities; it might take a little while before the government sees what true assimilation actually means. It’s not just giving information to NJ. It’s also raising awareness amongst the Japanese public about why NJ are here in the first place.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2852

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    2) NPA enforcing Hotel Management Law against exclusionary Prince Hotel Tokyo

    Asahi: Police sent papers to prosecutors Tuesday against the operator of a Tokyo hotel that refused entry to the Japan Teachers Union for its annual convention, fearing protests by right-wing groups.

    Police said Prince Hotels Inc., its president, Yukihiro Watanabe, 61, the 52-year-old general manager of three Prince group hotels, and managers of the company’s administration and reception departments are suspected of violating the Hotel Business Law.

    COMMENT: This is a good precedent. The police are at last enforcing the Hotel Management Law, which says you can’t refuse people unless there are no rooms, there’s a threat to public health, or a threat to public morals. But hotels sometimes refuse foreigners, even have signs up to that effect. They can’t legally do that, but last time I took it before the local police box in Tokyo Ohkubo, they told me they wouldn’t enforce the law. Not in this case.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2766

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    3) Yomiuri: NPA finally cracking down on Internet BBS threats and defamation

    Yomiuri: Police on Friday sent papers to prosecutors on six people suspected of defaming or threatening to physically harm comedian Smiley Kikuchi in messages they posted on his blog after groundlessly concluding he was involved in the murder of a high school girl in 1989…

    It is the first time a case has been built simultaneously against multiple flamers over mass attacks on a blog. The police’s reaction represents a strong warning against making online comments that cross the line from freedom of expression to defamation or threats.

    COMMENT: Now if only Japan’s police would only enforce past pertinent Civil Court decisions…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2837

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    4) Mainichi: Tourism to Japan plunges by over 40% compared to last year

    Mainichi: The JNTO said Wednesday that 408,800 foreigners visited Japan in February, a 41.3 percent decrease from the same month the previous year. The rate of decline was the second largest since statistics were first kept in 1961, after a 41.8 percent reduction in August 1971, the year following the Osaka Expo.

    COMMENT: We have tourism to Japan plunging, the second-highest drop in history. Of course, the high yen and less disposable income to go around worldwide doesn’t help, but the Yokoso Japan campaign to bring 10 million tourists to Japan is definitely not succeeding. Not helping are some inhospitable, even xenophobic Japanese hotels, or the fingerprinting campaign at the border (which does not only affect “tourists”) grounded upon anti-terror, anti-crime, and anti-contageous-disease policy goals. Sorry, Japan, must do better. Get rid of the NJ fingerprinting campaign, for starters.

    Very active discussion on the causes of the drop at
    http://www.debito.org/?p=2840

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    5) Metropolis Mag on how to get your housing deposit (shikikin) back

    THAT SHIKIKIN FEELING
    METROPOLIS MAGAZINE (TOKYO) DELVES INTO THE CONFUSING WORLD OF APARTMENT DEPOSITS
    AND HOW TO GET THEM BACK

    You may feel like you’ve had to wrestle with all kinds of bureaucracy to land that perfect 1DK apartment, but the fun and games don’t end when the contract is stamped. Moving out can present a whole new world of hassle. For many tenants, both foreign and Japanese, the hard-earned shikikin (deposit) they paid when they moved in becomes nothing but a distant memory, as landlords have their way with the cash and return only the change to the renter.

    Kazutaka Hayakawa works for the NPO Shinshu Matsumoto Alps Wind, a group that specializes in helping get that deposit back. Here he offers up the basics on renters’ rights…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2801

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    BLUES:
    6) GOJ bribes Nikkei NJ with Golden Parachutes: Go home and don’t come back

    Mainichi: Japan began offering money Wednesday for unemployed foreigners of Japanese ancestry to go home, mostly to Brazil and Peru, to stave off what officials said posed a serious unemployment problem.

    Thousands of foreigners of Japanese ancestry, who had been hired on temporary or referral contracts, have lost their jobs recently, mostly at manufacturers such as Toyota Motor Corp. and its affiliates, which are struggling to cope with a global downturn…

    The government will give 300,000 yen ($3,000) to an unemployed foreigner of Japanese ancestry who wishes to leave the country, and 200,000 ($2,000) each to family members, the ministry said. But they must forgo returning to Japan. The budget for the aid is still undecided, it said.

    COMMENT: Here’s the ultimate betrayal: Hey Gaijin, er, Nikkei! H ere’s a pile of money. Leave and don’t come back.

    So what if it only applies to people with Japanese blood (not, for example, Chinese). And so what if we’ve invited you over here for up to two decades, taken your taxes and most of your lives over here as work units, and fired you first when the economy went sour. Just go home. You’re now a burden on Us Japanese. You don’t belong here, regardless of how much you’ve invested in our society and saved our factories from being priced out of the market. You don’t deserve our welfare benefits, job training, or other social benefits that are entitled to real residents and contributors to this country.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2860

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    7) Ekonomisuto March 10 2009 re worsening job and living conditions for Nikkei Brazilians et al.

    Shuukan Ekonomisuto (from Mainichi Shinbun presses) dated March 10, 2009 had yet another great article on how things are going for Nikkei NJ et al.

    Highlights: Numbers of Nikkei Brazilians are dropping (small numbers in the area surveyed) as economic conditions are so bad they can’t find work. Those who can go back are the lucky ones, in the sense that some with families can’t afford the multiple plane tickets home, let alone their rents. Local NGOs are helping out, and even the Hamamatsu City Government is offering them cheap public housing, and employing them on a temporary basis. Good. Lots of fieldwork and individual stories are included to illustrate people’s plights.

    The pundits are out in force offering some reasonable assessments. Labor union leader Torii Ippei wonders if the recent proposals to reform the Trainee Visa system and loosen things up vis-a-vis Gaijin Cards and registration aren’t just a way to police NJ better, and make sure that NJ labor stays temp, on a 3-year revolving door. Sakanaka Hidenori says that immigration is the only answer to the demographic realities of low birthrate and population drop. The LDP proposed a bill in February calling for the NJ population to become 10% of the total pop (in other words, 10 million people) within fifty years, as a taminzoku kyousei kokka (a nation where multicultures coexist). A university prof named Tanno mentions the “specialness” (tokushu) of nihongo, and asks if the GOJ has made up its mind about getting people fluent in the language. Another prof at Kansai Gakuin says that the EU has come to terms with immigration and labor mobility, and if Japan doesn’t it will be the places that aren’t Tokyo or major industrial areas suffering the most.

    The biggest question is posed once again by the Ekonomisuto article: Is Japan going to be a roudou kaikoku or sakoku? It depends on the national government, of course, is the conclusion I glean.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2721

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    8 ) Mainichi: Lawson hiring more NJ, offering Vietnamese scholarships

    On the heels of Japan’s latest wheeze to cover up it’s failed Nikkei import labor policy, here’s a bit of good news: Somebody trying to do their bit to help keep unemployed NJs’ heads above water. Lawson convenience stores.

    I smiled until I saw how small the numbers being employed full time were, despite the “quadrupling” claimed in the first paragraph. But every little bit helps. So does Lawson’s offer for scholarships for Vietnamese exchange students (see Japanese below).

    Many times when I go into convenience stores in the Tokyo area, I’m surprised how many Chinese staff I see. Anyway, patronize Lawson if they’re trying to do good for the stricken NJ community.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2868

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    9) Japan Times on Japan’s emerging NJ policing laws. Nichibenren: “violation of human rights”

    Japan Times: The Japan Federation of Bar Associations and nonprofit organizations voiced concern Wednesday that bills to revise immigration laws will violate the human rights of foreign residents.

    Namba and Nobuyuki Sato of the Research-Action Institute for the Koreans in Japan urged lawmakers to amend the bills so the state can’t use the zairyu card code number as a “master key” to track every detail of foreigners’ lives. “Such a thing would be unacceptable to Japanese, and (the government) must explain why it is necessary for foreigners,” Sato said.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2833

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    10) Mark in Yayoi on cop checkpoint #123, and “Cops”-style TV show transcript

    Turning the keyboard over to Mark in Yayoi, who has just been stopped for the 123rd time by the Japanese police for an ID Check.

    This time, however, he was stopped and demanded a bag search. Although NJ are not protected against random ID checks (if he shows, you must show), random searches are in fact something protected against by the Constitution (Article 35) if you don’t feel like cooperating. But tell the cops that. He did. See what happened.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2806

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    11) Japanese also fingerprinted, at Narita, voluntarily, for “convenience” (not terrorism or crime)

    As many of you know (or have experienced, pardon the pun, firsthand), Japan reinstituted its fingerprinting for most non-Japanese, be they tourist or Regular Permanent Resident, at the border from November 2007. The policy justification was telling: prevention of terrorism, crime, and infectious diseases. As if these are a matter of nationality.

    Wellup, it isn’t, as it’s now clear what the justification really is for. It’s for the GOJ to increase its database of fingerprints, period, of everyone. Except they knew they couldn’t sell it to the Japanese public (what with all the public outrage over the Juuki-Net system) as is. So Immigration is trying to sell automatic fingerprinting machines at Narita to the public as a matter of “simplicity, speed and convenience” (tansoka, jinsokuka ribensei).

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2745

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    REVIEWS:
    12) Thoughts on Suo Masayuki’s movie “I just didn’t do it”: A must-see.

    See Suo Masayuki’s movie SORE DE MO, BOKU WA YATTENAI (I Just Didn’t Do It), everyone. I did. It’s an excellent illustration of court procedure in Japan long, drawn-out, well researched, and necessarily tedious. Experience vicariously what you might go through if arrested in Japan.

    Don’t think it just won’t happen to you. Random searches on the street without probable cause are permitted by law only for NJ. If you’re arrested, you will be incarcerated for the duration of your trial, no matter how many years it takes, even if you are adjudged innocent (the Prosecution generally appeals), because NJ are not allowed bail (only a minority of Japanese get it as well, but the number is not zero; NJ are particularly seen as a flight risk, and there are visa overstay issues). And NJ have been convicted without material evidence (see Idubor Case). Given the official association with NJ and crime, NJ are more likely to be targeted, apprehended, and incarcerated than a Japanese.

    If it happens to you, as SOREBOKU demonstrates, you will disappear for days if not weeks, be ground down by police interrogations, face months if not years in trial if you maintain innocence, have enormous bills from court and lawyers’ fees (and if you lose your job for being arrested, as often happens, you have no income), and may be one of the 0.1 percent of people who emerge unscathed; well, adjudged innocent, anyway.

    Like getting sick in the US (and finding that the health care system could destroy your life), getting arrested in Japan could similarly ruin yours. It’s Japan’s SICKO system…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2705

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    13) Audience reactions to documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES roadshow March 21-April 1
    Next showing Sapporo Apr 23, organizing next roadshow August-September

    Some various and sundry thoughts on audience reactions to the excellent SOUR STRAWBERRIES documentary as we finish up the last screenings (thinking about another August-September tour, so book me if you’re interested), and consider what the movie may mean in the context of international labor migration. In sum, SOUR STRAWBERRIES may be a testiment to the last days of Japan’s internationalized industrial prowess, as people are being turfed out because no matter how many years and how much contribution, they don’t belong. Have to wait and see. But to me it’s clear the GOJ is still not getting beyond seeing NJ as work units as opposed to workers and people. Especially in these times of economic hardship. I saw it for myself as the movie toured.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=282

    A quick positive review from Japan Visitor site on documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES Japan’s Hidden Guest Workers. Excerpt here.

    http://japanvisitor.blogspot.com/2009/04/arudou-debito-and-sour-strawberries.html

    If you’d like a showing in your area like the one mentioned above, be in touch with me at debito@debito.org. Planning another nationwide tour between late August and early September.

    Next showing March 23, L-Plaza, Sapporo. More at:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=2894

    If you’d like to contact the directors or order a copy of the movie (it’s a great educational aid), go to:
    http://www.cinemabstruso.de/strawberries/main.html

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    14) Debito.org has citations in 37 books, according to Amazon

    Just indulge me a little here as I talk about something that impressed me about the power of the Internet.

    It started during a search on Amazon.com two weeks, when I found an amazing avenue for researching insides of books for excerpts.

    I realized I could go through and see just how often Debito.org is being cited as a resource in respectable print publications. I soon found myself busy: 37 books refer in some way to me by name or things archived here. I cite them all below from most recent publication on down.

    Amazing. Debito.org as a domain has been going strong since 1997, and it’s taken some time to establish a degree of credibility. But judging by the concentration of citations in recent years, the cred seems to be compounding.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2786

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    15) The definition of “Gaijin” according to Tokyu Hands Nov 17, 2008

    Here’s the definition of “gaijin” not according to me (a la my Japan Times columns), but rather according to the marketplace. Here’s a photo sent in by an alert shopper, from Tokyu Hands November 17, 2008.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2012

    Note what makes a prototypical “gaijin” by Japanese marketing standards: blue eyes, big nose, cleft chin, and outgoing manner. Not to mention English-speaking. Yep, we’re all like that. Anyone for buying some bucked-tooth Lennon-glasses to portray Asians in the same manner? Naw, that would get you in trouble with the anti-defamation leagues overseas. Seems to me we need a league like that over here…

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    … and finally… THE MUSE:
    16) Complete tangent: 1940 Herblock cartoon on inaction towards Hitler

    A quick tangent for a weekend blogging: A 1940 Herblock cartoon I found (one of my favorites ever) demonstrating how people will make dithering arguments against the inevitable: in the cartoon’s case against doing something to stop Hitler. Now compare that with the dithering arguments against doing something to stop racial discrimination in Japan, with a law against it.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2889

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    All for today. Thanks for reading!
    Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, www.debito.org

    Speaking schedule at http://www.debito.org/?page_id=1672
    Please feel free to contact me if you would like a presentation in your area.
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 6, 2009 ENDS

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    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Ekonomisuto March 10 2009 re worsening job and living conditions for Nikkei Brazilians et al.

    Posted on Monday, March 16th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar

    Hi Blog. Shuukan Ekonomisuto Weekly (from Mainichi Shinbun presses) dated March 10, 2009 had yet another great article on how things are going for Nikkei NJ et al.

    Highlights: Numbers of Nikkei Brazilians are dropping (small numbers in the area surveyed) as economic conditions are so bad they can’t find work. Those who can go back are the lucky ones, in the sense that some with families can’t afford the multiple plane tickets home, let alone their rents. Local NGOs are helping out, and even the Hamamatsu City Government is offering them cheap public housing, and employing them on a temporary basis. Good. Lots of fieldwork and individual stories are included to illustrate people’s plights.

    The pundits are out in force offering some reasonable assessments. Labor union leader Torii Ippei wonders if the recent proposals to reform the Trainee Visa system and loosen things up vis-a-vis Gaijin Cards and registration aren’t just a way to police NJ better, and make sure that NJ labor stays temp, on a 3-year revolving door. Former Immigration Bureau bigwig Sakanaka Hidenori says that immigration is the only answer to the demographic realities of low birthrate and population drop. The LDP proposed a bill in February calling for the NJ population to become 10% of the total pop (in other words, 10 million people) within fifty years, as a taminzoku kyousei kokka (a nation where multicultures coexist). A university prof named Tanno mentions the “specialness” (tokushu) of nihongo, and asks if the GOJ has made up its mind about getting people fluent in the language. Another prof at Kansai Gakuin says that the EU has come to terms with immigration and labor mobility, and if Japan doesn’t it will be the places that aren’t Tokyo or major industrial areas suffering the most. The biggest question is posed once again by the Ekonomisuto article: Is Japan going to be a roudou kaikoku or sakoku? It depends on the national government, of course, is the conclusion I glean.

    And of course we have the raw numbers: From 1991 to the end of 2007, the number of NJ total have increased from around 1,220,000 to 2,150,000. Of those, Brazilians have gone from 120,000 to 320,000, Chinese from 170,000 to 610,000, Filipinos/pinas from 60,000 to 200,000. Not included in the article is this prognostication (mine), but could the total number of registered NJ actually DROP for the first time in more than four decades in 2009? We’ll have to wait quite some time to see, but the Ekonomisuto article doesn’t paint a rosy picture. Here are the four main pages of the tokushuu. Enjoy. Go to your local library and see the other four pages of EU immigration trends and the lessons for Japan. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ekonomisuto031009001

    ekonomisuto031009002

    ekonomisuto031009003

    ekonomisuto031009004

    ENDS

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    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | No Comments »

    外国人政策研究所 事務局 坂中英徳 著:「日本型移民政策の提言」

    Posted on Saturday, June 14th, 2008

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

    Hi Blog.  This is Japan Immigration Policy Institute’s Mr Sakanaka Hidenori’s proposal for a new immigration policy for Japan (more from Mr Sakanaka on Debito.org here).  Dated June 12, 2008.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    私が作成に関わった「日本型移民政策の提言」を添付します。ご覧ください。

    外国人政策研究所所長 坂中英徳

    *****************************
    外国人政策研究所 事務局
    〒108-0014
    東京都港区芝4-7-6 尾家ビル5F
    TEL 03−3453−5901
    FAX 03−3453−5902
    *****************************

    E−mail info@jipi.gr.jp
    URL        http://www.jipi.gr.jp/

    人材開国!

    日本型移民政策の提言

    世界の若者が
    移住したいと憧れる国の構築に向けて

    中間とりまとめ=

    Ⅰ 政策の理念

    1.移民立国で日本の活性化を図る

    2.日本文明の底力を活かす

    Ⅱ 日本型移民政策の骨格

    1.日本人口の10%を移民が占める「移民国家」へ

    2.「育成型」移民政策を推進する

    3.日本型移民政策の基盤整備

    4.社会統合・多民族共生のための施策

    5.人道的配慮を要する移民の受け入れ

    Ⅲ 直ちに取り組むべき事項

    2008.6.12

    自由民主党 外国人材交流推進議員連盟

     

     

    Ⅰ 政策の理念

    1.移民立国で日本の活性化を図る

        日本は世界のどの国も経験したことのない高齢化社会の道を歩み始めた。

      加えて、 ほぼ時期を同じくして、未体験の人口減の時代に入った。人口減はテンポを速め、その重圧が社会全体を覆いつつある。

        50年後の日本の人口は3分の2に落ち込み、9000万人を下回るという政府推計がある。

      そのとおりだとすると、国の様相は一変しているはずである。過疎が進む日本の原風景はどのような姿をさらしているのだろうか。社会の活力は枯渇していないだろうか。

        一国の人口推移は、人の出生、死亡、国際人口移動の3つの要因によって決まる。

    人口減少問題への取り組みとして、政府は出生率を高めるため保育サービスの充実などに全力を挙げている。しかし、人口問題の専門家によると、少子化対策の効果が現れるとしても、それは遠い将来の話ということである。

    したがって、日本の人口危機を救う効果的な治療法は、海外からの移民の受け入れ以外にないのである。日本の生きる道は、世界に通用する国際国家として自らを世界に開き、移民の受け入れにより日本の活性化を図る「移民立国」への転換である。

        新しい国づくりのためには、適正な移民受け入れを進める「移民政策」を打ち出す必要がある。

    国民のコンセンサスも不可欠だ。だが、何より求められるのは、移民開国への国民の決意と覚悟がいることである。外国人を移民として迎える以上、彼らが安心して働くことができる職場を用意しなければならない。移民ニーズに対応した社会経済制度の改革が必要である。

     日本が未曾有の数の移民を受け入れるのであれば、日本民族と他の民族がお互いの立場を尊重し合って生きる社会、すなわち「多民族共生社会」を作るという日本人の覚悟が求められる

    そのとき日本人に求められるのは、自らの民族的アイデンティティを確認し、かつ異なる民族すべてを対等の存在と認める心構えを持つことである。日本民族の根本精神を堅持するとともに、少数民族の固有文化を尊重しなければならない。

        日本型移民政策を提唱する。

    ここで「日本型」と言うのは、人材を「獲る」のではなく「育てる」姿勢を基本にする、日本独自の「育成型移民政策」であることを強調するためである

    意欲のある外国人材を、各産業分野を支える技能者・職人などに育成し、できるだけ早く日本国民として地域社会に根を下ろしてもらうようにするものである。

    移民に対する手厚い教育を施し、日本人と良好な関係を築く「新たな国民」を生み出すのが、日本型移民政策の核心である。国民が懸念する治安の悪化を招くことのない外国人受け入れ制度である。

     
          

    <移民の定義>

    国連事務総長報告書による「通常の居住地以外の国に移動し少なくとも12ヵ月間当該国に居住する人のこと(長期の移民)」国連事務総長報告書による)

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

         日本の文化と伝統を世界に開放し、日本列島に住む様々な人間が切磋琢磨することで新しい価値を創造する「多文化社会」の構築も課題となる。

    そして、高い志を持つ世界の若者がこぞって移住したいと憧れる国、人道支援・国際貢献のための移民受け入れにも力を入れて、世界から評価される国を目指す。

         改革に消極的だとして海外から「日本売り」が言われている今こそ、政治の責任で、人口危機にある日本がどんな国家を目指すのか、明確なビジョンを発信すべきである

    「人口危機に立ち向かうため日本は『移民国家』へ移行する」と政治が決断すれば、国際社会は国の形を「多民族国家」に変える究極の構造改革を評価し、「日本買い」に転じるだろう。

     

    2.日本文明の底力を活かす

         極東に位置する島国であり、社会の均一性が相対的に高いとみなされている日本は、移民の受け入れに適さないという声がある。欧米に比べて移民の受け入れ経験が少ないことは事実である。

    しかし、厳しい試練の時を迎えて、日本の未来に危機感を抱く国民が移民国家建設のため立ち上がれば、50年間で1000万人規模の移民受け入れを達成することも決して夢でない。幸い日本には、移民が快適に暮らすことができる制度、精神風土、環境が整っている。

     

    第1に、長年にわたり蓄積されてきた産業技術と、卓越する世界企業の存在である。

    高い生産効率を実現することで世界経済を先導してきた産業立国としての日本のネームバリューは、気概に満ちた世界の若者を惹きつけるに違いない。

    高い教育水準と充実した高等教育施設も、今後、留学生の受け入れを大幅に増やすための教育資源となる。

     

    第2に、日本社会には「人の和」や「寛容の心」を重んじる精神的基盤がある。

    日本の社会は、宗教を見ても神道・仏教・キリスト教などが仲良く共存している。古来、日本は「和をもって貴しとなす(十七条憲法)」を基本とする国柄であった。多様な価値観や存在を受け入れる「寛容」の遺伝子を脈々と受け継いできた日本人は、世界のどの民族も成功していない「多様な民族との共生社会」を実現する潜在能力を持っている。

     

    第3に、恵まれた自然環境と豊穣な文化がある。

    四季折々の風景、歴史遺産の水田や森林、地方ごとに特色ある日本料理や伝統芸能は、海外からの旅行者にすでに認知されており、今では年間800万人を超す観光客が日本を訪れている。亜熱帯のさんご礁、日本情緒豊かな温泉街、良質の雪に恵まれたスキーリゾートにはリピーターも多い。この「癒しの島」には理想の移住地としての条件が備わっている。

     

    第4に、日本社会にすでにいる「移民の背景を持つ人々」の存在がある。

    何世代にもわたって多くの苦難を乗り越えて社会的地位を確立してきたオールドカマーに加えて、ニューカマーも来日からすでに20年を経て、200万人を大きく超える外国出身者とその子孫は、市民・永住者・定住者として、日本社会に根を張って生活している。すでに日本で生きるノウハウを身につけた彼らは、新来の移民たちと地域社会をつなぐ貴重な人材である。

     

         日本は移民受け入れの後発国としての利点もある。カナダ等の伝統的な移民国家の経験に学び、日本と似通った国家形成の歴史を持つ欧州各国の最近の問題状況も参考にできる。

         日本型移民政策は、日本人口の10%を移民が占める未来の日本人が、「移民が日本の危機を救ってくれた」と感謝し、「世界で保護を求めている人々の救済に日本が貢献した」と誇りを持てる社会の実現を目標とする。

     

    Ⅱ 日本型移民政策の骨格

    1.日本人口の10%を移民が占める「移民国家」へ

         欧州の移民先進国の受け入れ数や日本社会の受け入れ能力などを勘案すると、日本は、今後50年で総人口の10%程度の移民を受け入れるのが相当である

    そこで日本政府は、1年以内に「移民国家宣言」を世界に発信する。

     

    【日本が受け入れる移民のカテゴリー】

         高度人材(大学卒業レベル)

         熟練労働者(日本で職業訓練を受けた人材)

         留学生

         移民の家族(家族統合の権利保障)

         人道的配慮を要する移民(難民、日本人妻等北朝鮮帰国者、その他日本が人道上受け入れを考慮すべき人々)

         投資移民(富裕層)

    などを想定する。

         移民受け入れに際しては、移民先進国の例を参考に、ポイント制の導入など分かりやすい公平なルールを策定する。

     

    2.育成型移民政策を推進する

    1)留学生100万人構想

        留学生の受け入れを育成型移民政策の要と位置づける。

         外国人職業訓練制度を支える農業・工業・水産学校や職業訓練学校、専修学校、各種学校等で学ぶ外国人はすべて「留学生」と位置づける。

         育成型移民政策が成功するか否かは、世界の青少年を日本の高等教育機関に引きつけ、高度人材に育て上げることができるかどうかにかかっている。

        少子化により定数に余剰が生じる短大・大学・大学院を活用し、専門知識や先端技術を修得する外国人材を育成・支援する。

        留学生30万人の受け入れを早期に達成したうえで、有為な外国人材をさらに多く確保するため、2025年までの長期目標として「留学生100万人構想」を立てる。(5年以内に実施)

        日本版ブリティッシュカウンシル(兼Japan LCC)を創設する。(1年以内に実施)

        留学生に対する奨学金制度の充実、学生寮の建設などの支援策を拡充するとともに、留学生に対する手厚い就職支援を行う。(1年以内に実施)

        当面、留学生の国内就職率7割を目標とする。大学・大学院を卒業して日本で就職する者に対しては、入管法上の「定住者」の在留資格を付与する。(1年以内に実施)

     

    2)外国人職業訓練制度の新設 (3年以内に実施)

        大学等に進学前の世界の若者に対して、国内人材の育成・確保と知識・技術の国際移転の観点から、教育および職業訓練の機会を提供する。

        その施設として少子化により定員割れが生じている農業・工業・水産高校や職業訓練学校等を活用し、それぞれに「外国人職業訓練課程」(3年制)を設け、そこで日本語をはじめ専門的技術などを教える。

        外国人職業訓練課程修了者に対しては、さらに第1次産業などの生産現場で1年間の実技職業訓練を受ける機会を与える。

        外国人は実際の業務に就いて技術や技能を修得する。

        4年間の一連のプログラムを終えた外国人が日本で働くことを希望し、職業訓練を実施した企業などが正社員で雇用することを条件に就労を認め、入管法上の「技能」または「定住者」の在留資格を付与する。

        一方、すべてのプログラムを終えて帰国した者は、日本で学んだ知識や技術を活かして母国の経済発展に貢献する。

        外国人職業訓練プログラムは官民一体型で運営するものとし、プログラムの評価機関を設け、実施状況を評価・検証する。

        外国人職業訓練制度の発足に伴い、外国人技能実習制度は発展的に解消する。

        本プログラムに基づく人材育成に要する経費にあてるため、政府と産業界が出資する「外国人材育成基金」を創設する。

        以上のプログラムは、今後締結する経済連携協定(EPA)等に盛り込む。

     

    3)外国人看護師・外国人介護福祉士育成プランの推進

        少子高齢化の進行に伴い人材不足が深刻化する看護・介護福祉分野の人材を確保するため、2025年までの長期目標として「外国人看護師・外国人介護福祉士30万人構想」を立てる。(1年以内に実施)

        外国人材を育成するための施設として少子化で定員数が大幅に減り続けている看護専門学校(3年制)および介護福祉士養成学校(2年制)を活用し、それぞれに「外国人材養成課程」を設け、そこで日本語をはじめ専門知識などを教える。(3年以内に実施)

        外国人材養成課程修了者に対しては、さらに病院や介護施設で1年間の実技研修を受ける機会を与える。

        外国人は実際の業務に就いて技術や技能を修得する。

        一連のプログラムを終えた外国人が日本で働くことを希望し、病院・介護施設などが正規職員で雇用することを条件に就労を認め、入管法上の「医療・社会福祉」または「定住者」の在留資格を付与する。

        一方、すべてのプログラムを終えて帰国した者は、日本で学んだ知識や技術を活かして母国の医療・社会福祉の分野で貢献する。

        本プログラムに基づく人材育成に要する経費にあてるため、政府と関係団体が出資する「社会福祉外国人材育成基金」を創設する。

        以上のプログラムは、今後締結する経済連携協定(EPA)等に盛り込む

     

    4)日本語&日本文化センター(Japan LCC)の創設と拡充  (1年以内に実施)

        世界の主要都市に設置している日本語・日本文化の学習拠点である「日本語&日本文化センター(Japan LCC)」を欧米先進国並みに拡充する。

        東南アジア各国の主要都市に重点整備する。

        ブラジルなど日系人が多く住む国にもJapan LCCを設置し、日系人に対する日本語教育を行う。

        「外国人材育成のためのODAプログラム」を策定し、海外に派遣する日本語教員の養成、日本語教育用教材の開発などの事業を展開する。

        JFLJapanese as Foreign Language:外国語としての日本語)による日本語資格認定試験の確立と機会の提供を強化する。

     

    3.日本型移民政策の基盤整備

    1)入管法および国籍法の改正

        育成型移民政策の観点から、入管法の定める在留資格制度を改正するとともに、同制度の運用を見直す。(1年以内に実施)

     

    【在留資格制度の改正】

         技能実習生を受け入れるため「実習」の在留資格を新設する。

         介護福祉士など社会福祉関係の業務に従事する外国人を受け入れるため「医療」の在留資格を「医療・社会福祉」に改める。

         「留学」および「就学」の在留資格を「留学」に一本化する。

         在留期間を最長5年とする。

         再入国許可の有効期間を最長10年とする。

     

        国籍法を改正し、永住者の子として日本で出生した者については、出生により日本国籍を付与する(22歳までは二重国籍)。(3年以内に実施)

    ○ 永住許可制度の運用緩和(入国後7年以内に永住許可)および帰化制度の運用緩和(入国

    後10年以内に国籍付与)を図る。また、永住許可制度と帰化制度の整合性を図る観点から、永住者に対して日本国籍を付与することを原則とする。 (1年以内に実施)

        認知した父または母が日本国民である子への国籍付与について、婚姻の有無にかかわらず認める(平成20年6月、最高裁判決を踏まえた改正)。(1年以内に実施)

    また、日本人の父親の認知を受けていない外国人の子への国籍付与および入国許可についても、人道的見地から弾力的に認める(1年以内に実施)

     

    2)移民の受け入れおよび外国人の社会統合に関する基本法の整備  (3年以内に実施)

        移民基本法の制定

    ・日本型移民政策の理念、日本が受け入れる移民の類型および受け入れ枠、移民処遇の基本方針などを定めた「基本法」を制定する。

    ○ 外国人との共生社会を実現するため「社会統合基本法」を制定する。

     

    3)外国人住民基本台帳制度の創設  (1年以内に実施)

        地方自治体が定住外国人に対し各種行政サービス(教育、医療、福祉)を漏れなく提供できる体制を敷くため、外国人住民基本台帳制度を創設する。

     

    4)経済連携協定等に基づく移民の受け入れ

        国際法秩序のもとで計画的に移民を受け入れることを内外に表明する。(1年以内に実施)

        日本が受け入れる移民の職種と人数を盛り込んだ経済連携協定等を人材送り出し国との間で結び、秩序ある移民受け入れ制度を確立する。 (3年以内に実施)

        同一職務・労働同一賃金の遵守(同等報酬)を徹底する。

     

    5)移民庁の創設  (3年以内に実施)

        移民基本法の制定に合わせ、「外国人」という法的地位に関する施策を一元的に実施する国家行政機関として「移民庁」を設置し、専任の国務大臣を置く。 

        それまでの間、内閣府に「外国人材戦略本部」を設置する。(1年以内に実施)

        移民庁は、次の3部門から構成される。

        移民・国籍政策部門:移民の受け入れ基準および国籍付与基準を策定し、整合性のとれた移民政策および国籍政策を遂行する。

        出入国管理部門:外国人の出入国管理および難民の認定に関する職務を遂行する。

        社会統合部門:在日外国人の社会への適応を進めるための施策を総合的に実施するとともに、多民族共生教育を行う。

     

    4.社会統合・多民族共生のための施策

    1)法制面の整備 (3年以内に実施)

         日本が加入している人種差別撤廃条約の精神を踏まえ「民族差別禁止法」を制定する。

         地方自治体による「多文化共生条例」の制定を推進する。

     

    2)施策面の整備 (3年以内に実施)

         定住外国人に対する社会保障制度の適用については、内外人平等の観点からこれを実施する。年金受給資格の短期化についても検討する。

        小中学校において定住外国人の子供に対する日本語補習授業制度、学習サポーター派遣等に必要な予算を確保し、外国人教育体制を整備する。

      外国人が集住する都市に、母国語を理解する多様な出身国のソーシャルワーカーを養成・配置するとともに、日本語教育センター、定住外国人雇用促進センター、民族差別等相談窓口を設置する。

     

    3)日本人の意識改革 (3年以内に実施)

      日本人の青少年に正しい外国人観を持たせるため、小中学校で多民族共生教育を実施する。

    ・多民族共生社会を作るための啓発課目を小中学校のカリキュラムのなかに入れる。

         成人に対しては、外国人との共生を推進するための生涯学習の場を提供する。

         官民を挙げて、外国人との共生をすすめる文化交流・啓発などのコミュニティ活動を展開する。

     

    5.人道的配慮を要する移民の受け入れ (3年以内に実施)

    ○ 難民をはじめ人道的配慮を要する以下の定住外国人を積極的に受け入れる。

    当面、年間1000人の受け入れを目標とする。)

                      第三国定住難民

                      日本人妻等北朝鮮帰国者およびその家族

                      日本人の父親の認知を受けていない外国人子供およびその母親

    ・「新日系フィリピン人」「新日系タイ人」など

                      その他日本が人道上受け入れを考慮すべき人々

    ・帰国を希望しない人身取引被害者など

     

    Ⅲ 直ちに取り組むべき事項

        法律改正を待たずとも、現行法のもとで運用の見直しや必要な予算措置を講じることにより、日本の外国人受け入れ態勢は目に見えて改善される。

         日本型移民政策を全面的に展開するための基盤整備にもなる。

         政府が直ちに取り組むべき事項を以下に列挙する。

     

    第1に、深刻の度を増している定住外国人の子供の教育、特に南米からUターンしてきた日系移民の子供に対する日本語教育の徹底である。

    外国人教育の充実に必要な予算を大幅に増額する。

    第2に、国が先頭に立って留学生に対する就職支援を行う。

    日本の大学等を卒業し、日本企業に就職した留学生に対しては、入管法上の「定住者」の在留

    資格を付与する。

    第3に、インドネシアおよびフィリピンと締結した経済連携協定等のもとで実施する看護・介護分野の外国人材の受け入れについて、育成型移民政策の観点から受け入れ条件を大幅に緩和する

    また、国家試験に不合格になった者が引き続き日本で働くことができる制度を検討する。

    第4に、海外において日本の魅力をアピールし、外国人に日本語教育を実施する体制を早急に整備する。

    第5に、日本社会に根付いて生活している外国人の法的地位を早期に安定させることは移民政策の 要請であるから、永住許可要件を大幅に緩和する。

    最後に、労働関係法規違反、人身売買の恐れなど多くの問題が指摘されている外国人技能実習制度は、外国人職業訓練制度の新設に伴い発展的に解消する。

    新しい制度が発足するまでの間は、技能実習生に対する労働基準法の適用等必要な改善措置を講じることを条件に、現行技能実習制度を存続させる。

    その間の外国人技能実習制度の運用は、国内人材確保・定住促進の観点から、これまでに技能実習生として成果のあった優良なプログラムのなかから人材を受け入れる。

    送り出しおよび受け入れにかかわる機関・団体による不正・不当なシステムを排除する。情報開示を徹底する。

    通算6年間の研修・技能実習プログラムを終えて就労を希望する者に対して、一定の条件のもとで就労・定住を認める。

    入管法上の「技能」または「定住者」の在留資格を付与する。

    国際研修協力機構(JITCO)は、廃止も含め機構・業務のあり方を抜本的に見直す。

    ENDS

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    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, 日本語 | 5 Comments »

    Globe and Mail (Canada) on “Japan’s Unfriendly Shores”

    Posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

    Hi Blog. I sometimes post pretty mediocre articles on Debito.org by journalists just going through the motions to file stories, without much attempt at bringing new information or angles to the surface. In contrast, here is an excellent one that could probably after a bit of beefing up be reprinted in an academic journal. Lots of good information here, have a read. I think the reporter followed quite a few of our leads. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    IMMIGRATION: JAPAN’S UNFRIENDLY SHORES
    ‘One culture, one race:’ Foreigners need not apply
    Despite a shrinking population and a shortage of labour, Japan is not eager to accept immigrants or refugees

    GEOFFREY YORK Globe and Mail (Canada) October 9, 2007
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20071009.JAPAN09/TPStory/TPInternational/Africa/
    Courtesy of Satoko Norimatsu

    TOKYO — In the Turkish village of his birth, Deniz Dogan endured years of discrimination and harassment by police who jailed him twice for his political activities on behalf of the Alevi religious minority. So he decided to escape to a country that seemed peaceful and tolerant: Japan.

    Seven years later, he says he has found less freedom in Japan than in the country he fled. For a time, he had to work illegally to put food on his table. Police stop him to check his documents almost every day. He has suffered deportation threats, interrogations and almost 20 months in detention. In despair, he even considered suicide.

    His brother and his family, who fought even longer for the right to live in Japan, finally gave up and applied for refugee status in Canada, where they were quickly accepted.

    “We had an image of Japan as a very peaceful and democratic country,” Mr. Dogan said.

    “It was very shocking to realize that we had less freedom in Japan than in Turkey. We did nothing wrong, except to try to get into this country, yet we were treated as criminals. We felt like insects.”

    Despite its wealth and democracy, Japan has one of the world’s most intolerant regimes for refugees and immigrants. And despite its labour shortages and declining population, the government still shows little interest in allowing more foreigners in.

    From 1982 to 2004, Japan accepted only 313 refugees, less than 10 per cent of those who applied. Even after its rules were slightly liberalized in 2004, it allowed only 46 refugees in the following year. Last year it accepted only 34 of the 954 applicants.

    Those numbers are tiny in comparison with Canada, which accepted more than 42,000 refugees last year, despite having a much smaller population than Japan.

    But they are also tiny in comparison to European countries such as France and Italy. On a per capita basis, Japan’s rate of accepting refugees is 139th in the world, according to the United Nations.

    Japan’s attitude toward immigrants is equally unwelcoming. It has one of the industrialized world’s lowest rates of accepting immigrants. Only about 1 per cent of its population is foreign-born, compared with 19 per cent in Canada and 9 per cent in Britain.

    Yet paradoxically, Japan is in greater need of immigrants than most other nations. Because of a sharp drop in its birth rate, its population is on the verge of a decline unprecedented for any nation in peacetime. The latest projections have the number of its citizens – 127 million – plunging to just 95 million by 2050.

    At the same time, the population is rapidly aging. By mid-century, about 40 per cent will be over 65, leaving a relatively small labour force to support the country.

    Demographic decline has emerged as one of Japan’s most hotly debated and angst-ridden issues. Yet the obvious solution – allowing in a substantial number of immigrants – is rarely considered. The tight restrictions on foreigners have remained in place. Robots, rather than immigrants, are seen as the potential solution to labour shortages. One government panel has recommended that foreigners should never comprise more than 3 per cent of the population.

    Much of Japan’s hostility to immigrants and refugees is the result of prejudice against foreigners, who are widely blamed for most of the crime in the country. Ignorance is widespread. In one survey, more than 90 per cent of Japanese said they don’t have any regular contact with foreigners, and more than 40 per cent said they rarely even see any.

    Politicians are reluctant to allow any challenge to Japan’s racial homogeneity. Their beliefs are typified by a top leader of the ruling party, former foreign minister Taro Aso, who described Japan as “one culture, one race.” The government has refused to pass laws against racial discrimination, making Japan one of the few industrialized countries where it is legal.

    “We do not often see Japanese people praising the work of foreign residents and warmly welcoming them as friends and colleagues,” wrote Sakanaka Hidenori, former director of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau who retired after 35 years in Japan’s immigration system and now heads the Japan Immigration Policy Institute.

    “The native Japanese have lived as a single ethnic group for nearly 1,000 years and it will be a difficult task for them to build friendly relationships with other ethnic groups,” he wrote in a recent book, Immigration Battle Diary.

    These attitudes have shaped a system of tight restrictions against foreigners who try to enter Japan. One of the latest laws, for example, requires all foreigners to be fingerprinted when they enter the country. Japan’s rules on refugee claims are so demanding that it can take more than 10 years for a refugee to win a case, and even then the government sometimes refuses to obey the court rulings. Hundreds of applicants give up in frustration after years of fruitless effort.

    Japan demands “an unusually high standard of proof” from asylum seekers, according to the most recent United Nations report. They are asked to give documentary evidence of their claims, including arrest warrants in their home country, which can be impossible to provide. They are often required to translate those documents into Japanese, which is costly and complicated. Then the documents are often rejected as invalid.

    “It has been a very legalistic approach, showing no humanitarian sense to those who had to flee,” said Sadako Ogata, the former UN high commissioner for refugees, in a recent Japanese newspaper interview.

    “From the perspective of Japanese officials, the fewer that come the better.”

    While they struggle to prove their cases, asylum seekers are often interrogated by police and confined to detention centres, which are prisons in all but name. When not in detention, asylum seekers cannot legally work and are required to live on meagre allowances, barely enough for subsistence.

    In one notorious case in 2005, Japan deported two Kurdish men after the UN refugee agency had recognized them as refugees. The UN agency protested the deportations, calling them a violation of Japan’s international obligations.

    “We really hesitate to tell asylum seekers to apply to Japan,” said Eri Ishikawa, acting secretary-general of the Japan Association for Refugees.

    “Work permits are not given to them, but they have to work to survive, so they work illegally.”

    In one of the most bizarre twists in its refugee policy, Japan sometimes sends its officials on fact-finding missions in the home countries of the asylum seekers, accompanied by local police and army troops, even when the police and soldiers are the ones accused of the persecution.

    “This is really shocking to us,” Ms. Ishikawa said. “It puts their families in danger.”

    In the case of Deniz Dogan and his brother, for example, Japanese officials went to their family’s home in Turkey, accompanied by local police. The families felt frightened and intimidated. Then the family were repeatedly called to the police station for questioning after the visit. “It was an indignity and a violation of our human rights,” he said.

    Mr. Dogan’s lawyer, Takeshi Ohashi, says the long process of applying for refugee status is like a “mental torment” for asylum seekers.

    “The government is very negative about accepting refugees,” he said. “It’s worried that there will be social unrest and crime if it allows too many foreigners into Japan.”

    Mr. Ohashi, a refugee specialist for the past 11 years, says the process is heavily influenced by Japan’s diplomatic objectives. Because it is seeking good relations with countries such as China and Turkey, for example, it almost never accepts any refugees from those countries, he said.

    Hundreds of Kurdish people from Turkey have applied for refugee status in Japan in recent years, but not a single one has been accepted.

    Consider the case of Kilil, a 35-year-old Kurdish activist, who fled from Turkey fearing for his life after he was repeatedly detained by police and soldiers in his hometown because of his political activism.

    He arrived in Japan in 1997, stayed illegally for two years, and then applied for refugee status. His application was twice rejected and his third appeal is now before the courts. In the meantime, he was put into custody for eight months at a detention centre. To support himself, he now works illegally as a labourer, demolishing buildings and removing asbestos. It is dirty, dangerous work – and asylum seekers are among the few who are willing to do it.

    He lives in constant fear of being arrested for working illegally. “It’s very stressful,” he said. “The worst is the uncertainty. It’s been 10 tough years here, without any result. I can’t even afford to go to a hospital if I get sick. Every day is like being in prison.”

    In many ways, he regrets his decision to flee to Japan. “But I want to keep fighting to change the system here. I want to fight to the end.”

    Deniz Dogan and his brother, who endured the same kind of conditions, became so frustrated by 2004 that they held a sit-in for 72 days at the Tokyo office of the UN refugee agency. When it failed to influence authorities, his brother made the decision to emigrate to Canada.

    This summer, Deniz was finally given a one-year visa to live and work in Japan, but only because he had married a Japanese woman.

    “My visa could be cancelled at any time,” he said. “I feel a lot of unease. But for the other refugees, it is even worse. We all have the same goal: freedom.”

    *****

    FIGHTING TO STAY

    Win Soe, a political activist from Myanmar, knows from painful experience how difficult it can be to survive in Japan’s refugee system.

    As one who took part in protests against Myanmar’s military junta before fleeing the country, he knows he would face persecution if he returned to his homeland. He has been seeking refugee status in Japan for four years, but the government has twice rejected his application.

    Most asylum seekers end up working illegally to survive. But because he wants to abide by the rules, Win Soe is trying to live on the official monthly allowance, which amounts to $760.

    Most of it is needed for rent, electricity, utilities and transportation costs, leaving him about $90 a month for food, barely enough for survival in this expensive country.

    He can’t afford new clothes, shoes, or medicine for his hay fever. He eats only two meals a day and often goes hungry.

    “Sometimes I can’t even afford rice,” he said. “I eat mostly bread, potatoes and bananas. I’m trying to abide by the law very carefully.”

    He believes the meagre allowance is part of the government’s attempt to put pressure on refugees to give up their claims. “They want me to surrender. But I will never give up.”

    Geoffrey York

    *****

    Japan’s closed doors

    Despite its wealth and democracy, Japan slows little interest in allowing more foreigners to enter the country.

    Percentage of foreign-born population within each country

    Australia: 23 per cent

    Canada: 19

    New Zealand: 19

    United States: 13

    Germany: 13

    Sweden: 12

    France: 11

    Belgium: 11

    Britain: 9

    Italy: 4

    South Korea: 1

    Japan: 1

    SOURCES: UNITED NATIONS AND OECD DATA, 2004 and 2005

    gyork@globeandmail.com

    ENDS

     

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    Posted in Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 3 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 8, 2007

    Posted on Saturday, September 8th, 2007

    Hello Blog. Arudou Debito in Sapporo here. It’s been a month since the last newsletter (I took a break in August; hope you did too), but here’s a roundup of what’s been going down:

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 8, 2007

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

    and finally…
    7) GREGORY CLARK DEFENDS PM MIYAZAWA’S CORRUPTION, AND MY RESPONSE
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, freely forwardable)

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    1) DISCRIMINATION AT “HOLIDAY SPORTS CLUB” CHAIN, BY JIM DUNLOP

    Debito.org has been proud to offer a forum for those who bring up issues about life and social issues in Japan (I can’t be everywhere at once ), and am glad to turn over the keyboard to Jim Dunlop for this excerpt:================EXCERPT BEGINS========================
    HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AT A WELL-KNOWN JAPANESE GYM CHAIN
    “YOUNG, HEALTHY JAPANESE PEOPLE ONLY, PLEASE!”

    By Jim Dunlop, August 30, 2007
    drinkacupofcoffee AT gmail.com

    Holiday Sports Club is a chain of gyms/exercise centers all across Japan.
    http://www.holiday-sc.jp/
    There are about 33 locations spanning Honshu and one in Hokkaido. (This also happens to be the club where my wife and I are currently members). Since we joined this gym, a number of issues have arisen that I think need to be made public and brought to the attention of anyone who may be considering supporting this business. Be aware, that if you are either a foreigner, or have any sort of physical disability, you may be discriminated against, or even prevented from joining. Here’s the scoop:
    ================EXCERPT ENDS==========================

    Full report at
    http://www.debito.org/?p=550

    I thank Jim for writing his report well and concisely (I could simply blog it without edits), and welcome other writers in future. Other contributions to Debito.org from Sakanaka Hidenori, Chong Hyang Gyun, and Eric Johnston on pertinent issues at
    http://www.debito.org/publications.html#otherauthors

    Speaking of good writing:

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    2) TPR ON US HR 151 ON COMFORT WOMEN, AND WHY IT’S NOT A BAD THING

    Trans Pacific Radio keeps on pumping out good critique and even better essays. One I found most informative was on the US House of Representatives Resolution on the Comfort Women (passed July 30).

    ================EXCERPT BEGINS========================
    …The negative view, that the US is meddling in the affairs of a sovereign Japan, is even more porous than the positive view.

    For starters, as I mentioned above, the US House, through this Resolution, is not advocating, much less taking any action against Japan. There is nothing in H.R. 121 that suggests that even the House thinks Japan should take it seriously. Constituents of a member of the US House of Representatives, Mike Honda of California, made a complaint and Representative Honda took that complaint to the appropriate Congressional committee, in this case the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Representative Tom Lantos, also of California. The propriety of the Committee’s actions in this case should not be in doubt. Since when have governments or governmental agencies been concerned only with their own actions or incidents that occur on their own soil? Should the House Committee on Foreign Affairs be taken to task for condemning what is now going on in Darfur? Few outside of the Sudanese government would say so.

    But when it comes to now peaceful Japan, such actions, even in the form of flaccid nudges, become “meddling.”

    There is no meddling. No agent of any part of the US government is trying to change any internal policy in Japan. The closest thing to this would be the resolution that states that Japan “should educate current and future generations about this horrible crime while following the recommendations of the international community with respect to the ‘comfort women’.” This, though, is not telling Japan how to educate its children or plan its school curricula.

    Meddling requires at least some hint of action.

    The first two times H.R. 121 was set to face a vote in the Foreign Affairs Committee, it was taken off the agenda due to pressure from the six-figure-a-month Japan lobby in Washington. Pressure was put on members of Congress and diplomatic strings were pulled to silence the issue.

    Members of the Government of Japan took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post demanding that the Resolution not be passed and Ryozo Kato, Japan’s Ambassador to the United States, threatened strained or damaged relations should the Resolution pass.

    That, dear readers, is meddling….
    ================EXCERPT ENDS==========================

    This is what the blogosphere can do best–present an alternative viewpoint from a dedicated researcher, and amplify it with good writing (unscathed from the again “nicely, nicely” tendencies of corporate journalism beholden to advertisers).

    Have a read (or better yet, a listen; Garrett is a good reader) at
    http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/08/02/the-comfort-women-resolution-hr-121-passed-why-thats-not-bad/

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    3) THE IDUBOR CASE: INCARCERATION WITHOUT EVIDENCE, WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

    On January 22, 2007, more than seven months ago, Osayuwamen IDUBOR, a Nigerian national and owner of a bar in Yokohama was arrested and formally charged on February 9, 2007, of raping a Japanese woman in the early morning hours of November 1, 2006. He is currently in the Yokohama Detention Center (kouchi shisho) where he remains to this day. His lawyer, a Mr Tsurusaki of Yokohama, petitioned for his release on May 21, 2007, but was refused by the court. Report from his lawyer at
    http://www.debito.org/?p=537

    Mrs. Idubor’s (a Polish national) has told me in several phone conversations that her husband’s health is deteriorating. She has seen in prison visits that he has a rash all over his scalp, his hair is falling out, and there is blood coming from his ear. She says that police have denied him access to a hospital and sufficient medical treatment (similar to the Valentine Case, http://www.debito.org/valentinelawsuit.html).

    UPDATE: On September 3, there was another court hearing (proceedings at http://www.debito.org/?p=547). It was unsuccessful. The court interpreter (which the court appoints) was incompetent, and the judge didn’t understand Mrs. Idubor’s testimony. So they have to repeat the hearing and Osayuwamen has to languish in jail another month.

    That hearing will take place on October 11, 2PM, Yokohama District Court. Open to the public. Attend if you like.

    Then there will be one more hearing after that, apparently. Which means Osayuwamen will be lucky to be sprung from the clink by the end of 2007.

    Why can’t he be sprung now? We have witnesses saying he didn’t do it. We have no material evidence saying he did. Why the presumption of guilt to this degree? My steadily intruding suspicion is that he’s being treated as more of a flight risk because he’s a foreigner (i.e. he might flee the country), although my sources indicate that nobody has the right to a speedy trial in this country anyway.

    Meanwhile, Osayuwamen rots in jail (quite literally) for another few months–and the court can’t get its act together enough to even get a competent interpreter? How unprofessional. And cruel and unusual punishment.

    HOW YOU CAN HELP

    1) The Idubors are having trouble making ends meet, given that they are paying for a lawyer and Mrs. Idubor is running the bar in his place. So you can:

    a) Contribute to their legal funds through their bank account:
    ===================
    Osayuwamen Idubor
    Mizuho Bank LTD. , Tokyo
    Machida branch
    A/C NO.: 116-2788496

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

    b) Stop by their bar and buy a drink. It’s in Yokohama, and a friend of mine stopped by a few days ago (on a completely coincidental recommendation from a different bar) and said it’s very nice:

    ===================
    Big Ys Cafe
    Yokohama-shi Naka-ku
    Yamashita-cho 106-3
    Laport Motomachi 104
    Tel. 045-662-2261

    ===================
    Its open from 18:00 till morning. Map there:
    http://www.debito.org/bigycafemap.xls
    http://www.debito.org/bigycafemap.htm

    c) Join Mrs Idubor when she visits her husband every weekday in prison. She might be able to take two visitors with her each day. Contact me at debito@debito.org (please entitle your email “Idubor visit request”) and I’ll forward your email to her.

    In any case, thanks for reading. Your attention and assistance is very helpful to the Idubors at a time like this.

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    4) MOFA ALLOWS CONVICTED DISRUPTER INTO HUMAN RIGHTS MEETING (UPDATED)

    On August 31, 2007, a public meeting (iken koukan kai, reference site at http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/press/event/jinshu.html) on the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Tokyo, was disrupted and sabotaged by right-wing troublemakers. Shouting epithets and arguments designed to wind up the human-rights NGOs, the unidentified right-wingers managed to bring the meeting to a standstill, while the six ministries attending the meeting showed a complete inability to keep the meeting under control.

    Proceedings ended a half hour early without hearing the opinions of all the attendees, and my opinion is mixed on whether or not the impasse could have been avoided by not taking the bait. In any case, it is a sign to this author that the ultraconservative elements within Japan are not only taking notice of the gain in traction for human rights in Japan, they are doing their best to throw sand in the deliberation process. We will have to develop a thicker skin towards these elements in future, as this is probably only the beginning.

    Fuller report at
    http://www.debito.org/?p=544

    Comparative report on what happened last MOFA Hearing (July 28, 2006) on this subject at
    http://www.debito.org/?p=543.

    UPDATE:

    I received a call on September 3 from someone else who attended the meeting, about one of the attendees:

    A Mr Nishimura Shuuhei, who sat in the back of the room that day, has a history of being taken to court for his behavior of disrupting public meetings on the Comfort Women issue. According to my source, he was sentenced for “illegal obstruction of official duties” (iryou gyoumu bougai–a charge I don’t completely understand myself) on October 4, 2001, at the Yokohama District Court, to 1 year and 6 months of prison, suspended for five years.

    Despite his criminal record of disrupting public meetings and acting as agent provocateur, the MOFA allowed Nishimura to attend this meeting, and help disrupt it.

    This issue was taken before the Bureau of Human Rights this morning, but my source indicates that they do not intend to do much about it (agreed, see my experience with the BOHR at http://www.debito.org/policeapology.html –they even have a history of advising the Otaru City Government in the Otaru Onsens Case that “there will be no penalty” if they neglect to pass any laws against racial discrimination: http://www.debito.org/jinkenyougobu112999.jpg)

    The GOJ shows little willpower indeed to deal with issues of hate speech, or even show resolve to keep their meetings calm and debate reasoned. Then again, this may be an excuse for the GOJ to say they’ll hold no more meetings, since there’s a chance they’ll only end in organized chaos. More thoughts on that at
    http://www.debito.org/?p=544

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    5) THREE JAPAN TIMES COLUMNS ONLINE
    … along with RESPONSE TO DOREEN SIMMONS ON ASASHORYU SCANDAL

    Despite the holiday, I am pleased to say that the Japan Times Community Page published three of my columns (that’s 39 so far over five years; time to ask for a raise ), on the Valentine Case, the National NJ Blame Game, and the Asashoryu Scandal and Sumo’s Excesses.I’ve already sent versions of these out to many of my lists, but they are all blogged (as “Director’s Cuts”) at
    http://www.debito.org/publications.html#JOURNALISTIC

    Grand Dame of Sumo Doreen Simmons kindly commented on co-authored COUNTERPOINT essay (with James Eriksson, http://www.debito.org/?p=542) to correct a point of fact. She also wrote an article in the Kansai Time Out (September 2007) on the Asa controversy. Courtesy of Steve, in PDF format, downloadable for those nowhere near a KTO-selling outlet from Debito.org here:
    http://www.debito.org/asasimmonskto.pdf

    First have a look at it. Then here’s what I think about it:

    ================COMMENT FROM DEBITO BEGINS================
    I don’t claim to know anywhere even near what Doreen knows, but my reaction is one of general disappointment with her essay. It’s not all that well written (it goes kerplunk at the end, with no conclusion), indicating to me that like movie director Kurosawa Akira, she’s gotten too senior in society to take an edit.

    James thought there was no new ground covered, just rehash plus history. I would agree–there’s nothing covered in depth, such as examining the possible motives re WHY Asa is being carpeted this much now. The media has jumped on Asa in the past, but this time all things seem to be in confluence–so well that one could make an argument that the JSA is trying to force Asa out by making things too uncomfortable for him to stay. He could thus quit without tarnishing Sumo’s Mongolian connection. Bit of a stretch, yes. But let’s allude to it even if only to eliminate it.

    Even though historically, as Doreen noted in her article, Asa is getting plenty more rope compared to other defrocked wrestlers, James and I see the JSA even going so far as fanning the flames around Asa themselves, in order to take the heat off their own excesses. It’s not as if Asa has all the same tools at his disposal (such as they are in the Sumo world) as a regular J rikishi to defend himself. He’s not even a native speaker.

    In sum, Doreen is not at all questioning the very fabric of Sumo, which helps create these uncontrollable sumo “frankensteins” that the JSA have to reel in from time to time. My feeling after reading is that Doreen was just informing us how much she knows about the sport, and indirectly chiding anyone for commenting on Sumo at all without her level of knowledge (which she’ll impart at her convenience, thank you very much).

    That was certainly the feeling I got when I asked Doreen for comment before I submitted the above essay to the Japan Times. Her response (excerpt):

    ========DOREEN’S RESPONSE=====================
    “There is so much to take issue with, and it would take a couple of hours at least. Although I was extremely busy before, I found time to point out just one glaring error, in the Onaruto story–but why should I clean up somebody else’s article free of charge? If invited, I will be happy to write a rebuttal–for a fee.”
    ========DOREEN’S RESPONSE ENDS=================

    Sorry to have bothered her. Also glad she was paid for her opinions (such as they are) by the KTO, not me.

    ================COMMENT ENDS==========================
    http://www.debito.org/?p=551

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    6) IJUUREN PUBLISHES NGO POLICY PROPOSALS ON MINORITIES IN JAPAN

    Solidarity with Migrants Japan (SMJ, Ijuuren) has just published a book you might be interested in ordering:

    *********************
    Living Together with Migrants and Ethnic Minorities in Japan
    NGO Policy Proposals

    *********************
    Table of Contents
    Preface
    Terms

    Part I: At the Crossroads of Migrants Policies
    Chapter 1: Toward the Future of Harmonious Multiethnic and
    Multicultural Coexistence
    Chapter 2: Enactment of Legislation for Human Rights and Harmonious
    Coexistence

    Part II: Over Individual Issues
    Chapter 3: Right to Work and Rights of Working People
    Chapter 4: Rights of Migrant Women
    Chapter 5: Human Rights for Families and Children
    Chapter 6: Education of Children
    Chapter 7: Healthcare and Social Security Services
    Chapter 8: Local Autonomy and Foreign Residents
    Chapter 9: Opening the Gates to Refugees
    Chapter 10: Detention and Deportation
    Chapter 11: The Right to Trial
    Chapter 12: Eliminating Racism and Discrimination against Foreigners

    Publisher: Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (Ijuuren, SMJ)
    Date of publication: July 31, 2007, 1st English edition
    Price: JPY 1500 (excluding mailing cost)
    ISBN 4-87798-346-8 C0036

    This book is translated from the Japanese version published in 2006.

    More information on both books at
    http://www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net/Japanese/Japanese.html

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    and finally…

    7) GREGORY CLARK DEFENDS PM MIYAZAWA’S CORRUPTION, AND MY RESPONSE

    Old friend Greg Clark has no shortage of opinions (doubtless he would say the same about me), and he makes the pretty plain in his bimonthly column in the Japan Times.

    In his column last July, Greg wrote an epitaph-style Japan Times column/ode about his old friend, former Prime Minister Miyazawa Kiichi, who was facing mixed reviews in the J press at the time of his death for not dealing with the Bubble Economy properly.

    Greg defends his old friend with aplomb. So much so that he excuseth too much, in my opinion–even Kiichi’s corruption. First his column, then my unpublished letter to the editor in response.

    ================EXCERPT BEGINS========================
    NOT TO BLAME FOR ‘BUBBLE’–MIYAZAWA KNEW ECONOMICS
    The Japan Times: Monday, July 16, 2007

    By GREGORY CLARK
    Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20070716gc.html

    Obituaries for former Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, who died recently at age 87, agreed that he was a statesman and a genuine internationalist. But some–those from Nikkei, Japan’s leading economic media group, especially–also criticized him as a Keynesian economist responsible for Japan’s economic troubles in recent years. It is time to set the record straight…

    He was criticized for involvement in the so-called Recruit scandal. In fact, that nonscandal was simply an attempt by the Recruit company to make sure its issues of new shares went into the hands of responsible people it liked rather than the usual collection of gangsters, speculators and corrupt securities companies that dominated new share issues at the time. The fact that many of its share recipients made profits was largely because almost-new shares issues were profitable in Japan’s go-go stock markets at the time.
    ================EXCERPT ENDS==========================

    I sent a letter to the editor to the Japan Times, which after two months is probably not going to be printed. Here it is:

    ========LETTER TO THE EDITOR BEGINS===========
    Greg Clark shows his true colors in his most recent editorial (“Miyazawa knew economics”, July 16). Not as some kind of economist, but as an embedded elite.

    Whatever intellectual sleight of hand he wishes to employ (to pedestal one of the few prime ministers ever booted out by a “no confidence” vote) still doesn’t excuse the fact that Greg is using puffery to defend a friend. Even going so far as to justify Miyazawa’s corruption in the Recruit Scandal.

    Thankfully, Greg acknowledges that Miyazawa and he were buddies, thanks to the latter’s connections to father Sir Colin Clark. But unmentioned is that Greg’s coming over here immediately landed him in Japan’s elite society. All foreigners should be so lucky.

    For all Greg’s bully pulpiting about the excesses of Japan’s power brokers, for him to try to explain away this much about a man like Miyazawa proves the axiom that power corrupts.

    ========LETTER TO THE EDITOR ENDS============
    http://www.debito.org/?p=554

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    That’s quite enough for today. Thanks to everyone for reading and supporting Debito.org!

    Arudou Debito
    Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
    Daily blog entries at http://www.debito.org/index.php
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 8, 2007 ENDS

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    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    WSJ: Abenomics’ Missing “Third Arrow: The absence of immigration reform from Abenomics bespeaks a deeper problem”

    Posted on Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

    eBooks, Books, and more from ARUDOU Debito (click on icon):
    Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    “LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
    http://www.facebook.com/handbookimmigrants
    https://www.facebook.com/JapaneseOnlyTheBook
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    As I will be discussing in my next Japan Times column due out next week, one of the things that the LDP has been good at during this election cycle has been controlling the agenda.  By diverting attention away from contentious constitutional reform by talking about economic reform (or at least the promise of it), Abe and Co. have used imagery of loosing “three arrows” (monetary easing and fiscal stimulus, then eventually structural reforms).  The Economist (London) on June 15 wondered if “Abenomics” had “failed before it even properly began“.

    As Debito.org and others have been saying for years now, you can’t have sustained growth without a healthy and energetic workforce, especially as society ages, pensioners crowd out taxpayers, and public works continue to fill in the gaps and crowd out entrepreneurship.  And if you want youth, energy, and entrepreneurialism, you cannot beat immigration and the Can-Do Make-Do Spirit of the Immigrant.

    But the strong xenophobic tendencies of the LDP and the dominant fringes within the ruling side of Japan’s politics have made this currently politically untenable.  And here’s the Wall Street Journal giving us their take on why a serious immigration policy should have been one of the GOJ’s “arrows”.  Arudou Debito

    //////////////////////////////////////////////

    Mr. Abe’s Missing Arrow
    The absence of immigration reform from Abenomics bespeaks a deeper problem.
    By JOSEPH STERNBERG
    Tokyo
    WSJ BUSINESS ASIA June 26, 2013
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324637504578568613127577972.html

    If there’s one reform that’s symbolic of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s eponymous program to rejuvenate the Japanese economy, it’s immigration.

    By importing new consumers and workers, immigration is crucial to stimulating domestic capital investment by companies. By expanding the taxpaying population base, it improves the government’s fiscal position. Immigration will facilitate foreign direct investment, boosting productivity.

    All of that makes immigration reform precisely the kind of bold and deep change Mr. Abe promises. But the thing that makes immigration reform most emblematic of Abenomics is that despite its importance to Japan’s future, it is almost entirely absent from the agenda.

    No one should underestimate the economic damage done by the country’s demographic emergency. Deaths have outnumbered births since 2005, and now that the inflow of expatriates is slowing, the net population has contracted for two years in a row. The age distribution skews ever older. As of 2010, Japan already had the lowest proportions of its population in the 0-14 years and working-age 15-64 years brackets of any developed economy, at 13.2% and 63.8% respectively. By 2050, those age cohorts will have shrunk further, to 9.7% and 51.5%, according to Statistics Bureau estimates.

    Fewer people means fewer consumers. This is one of several interconnected explanations for why Japanese companies are so reluctant to invest at home. It also means fewer workers. One implication is that unless Japan could radically increase productivity per worker—by as much as 3% or 4% per year, an unusual level for a fully developed economy—it will be impossible to deliver the sustained 2% GDP growth Mr. Abe has promised.

    IMAGE: Softbank Corp President—and third-generation immigrant— Masayoshi Son.

    Yet Abenomics only hints at these realities, never quite facing them head-on. Mr. Abe’s emphasis on boosting the embarrassingly low female labor force participation rate is an acknowledgment that Japan needs more workers. But that is only a temporary measure in light of inexorable demographic change, which policy makers seem to forget affects women as much as men.

    Japan needs as many as 10 million immigrants by 2050 to offset natural population decline, according to Hidenori Sakanaka of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute. Many of Mr. Abe’s other goals ultimately depend on immigration. For instance, unanswered in Mr. Abe’s plan to open thousands of new child-care centers so that mothers can return to their careers is the question of who will staff them. Immigrants are the most plausible solution.

    Abenomics is not entirely silent on immigration. Mr. Abe proposes revising the points system used to evaluate the visa applications of high-skilled immigrants to make it easier for them to enter, and also to reduce to three years from five the amount of time a foreigner must live in Japan before qualifying for permanent residency.

    Both of these would be useful changes, but don’t represent the bigger conceptual leap Japan needs to make. Tokyo can’t afford human resources “winner picking” any more than it can afford to continue the industrial winner picking of yore. Since immigration imports entrepreneurial talent, immigrants also will be vital to achieving the productivity growth Japan needs.

    Successful entrepreneurs, like successful business ideas, pop up where and when a bureaucrat least expects them. Masayoshi Son, founder of SoftBank and one of Japan’s most successful living entrepreneurs, is the grandson of otherwise unremarkable pig-farming illegal immigrants from Korea. Japan needs to cast as wide a net as possible for more families like that.

    ***
    The problem, of course, is that immigration will be hugely disruptive to Japan’s way of life, which is undeniably comfortable. Per capita GDP, especially when adjusted for falling prices, is healthy, thank you very much, despite anemic growth in the economy overall. Unemployment is low, even if an inefficient labor market and low productivity suppress wages. Crime is practically unheard of.

    The social stability Japanese prize is not noticeable in high-immigration developed economies such as the U.S. or Western Europe. Hearing a foreigner from a place where Latin American drug cartels are active or unassimilated Muslim immigrants burn cars in the suburbs argue for more immigration, the Japanese not unreasonably say, “You must be kidding.” In theory, Japan may have no alternative to immigration if it wants to return to sustained growth. In reality, you’re asking people to upend their society in pursuit of an abstract economic goal.

    Investors have lately panned Abenomics, rightly, for its lack of daring. Optimists hope this is a political calculation that a month before a major election is no time to introduce bold reforms, and that more and better is on the way later. But reflection on the immigration problem raises a different prospect. Any meaningful reform will be deeply disruptive—whether in terms of new immigrants let in, small farms consolidated and old farmers retired, new businesses started and old firms bankrupted. In all the hubbub about Abenomics, everyone forgot to ask whether Japan really wants the upheaval needed to restart growth. Unless and until Japanese are willing to tolerate such changes, Abenomics will be more wish than reality.

    Mr. Sternberg edits the Business Asia column.
    ENDS

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    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 17 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 6, 2012

    Posted on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

    Books etc. by ARUDOU Debito (click on icon):
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    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER TUESDAY NOVEMBER 6, 2012

    Hello Readers. I would give you a sneak preview of my latest JT column, with an advisory to read it Tuesday Japan Time. But I was too busy to put out this Newsletter yesterday, so let me give you a teaser opening and then a link:

    =====================================
    If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on
    By ARUDOU Debito
    JUST BE CAUSE Column 57 for the Japan Times Community Page

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

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

    Rest is at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121106da.html
    =====================================
    It’s already in the Top Ten Most Read Articles of the day, thanks.

    Now on with the Newsletter:

    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” 

    ///////////////////////////////////////////
    By ARUDOU Debito (debito@debito.org. www.debito.org. Twitter arudoudebito
    Freely Forwardable

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    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”

    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.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10706

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    2) Wash Post: A declining Japan loses its once-hopeful champions (including Ezra Vogel!) — as Japan is eclipsed by an ascendant China

    The Washington Post’s Chico Harlan does a very good article summarizing what it was once like for us “Bubble Era” veterans, and how views of Japan were once either Japan as the perfectible society to be emulated or as the irresistible wave of the future (as in, in addition to the pop-culture economic bellwethers listed below, Michael J. Fox’s boss in BACK TO THE FUTURE II being a Japanese).

    Now, as the article indicates below, it’s all collapsed, and former boosters have now become pessimists (with even Japan championer Ezra Vogel now turning his attention to China!). Here in Hawaii, the Chinese consumer is ascendant, with the likely domination of Chinese over Japanese language on store signs fairly soon. In this year’s remake of TOTAL RECALL, the exotic language being used in the background was no longer Japanese (a la BLADE RUNNER), but rather Chinese. Check out the dominant kanji in this greeting card: Mainland Chinese (with Japanese far receding). I think this trend will continue as Japan is eclipsed not only by China but even South Korea (Gangnam Style on last week’s episode of SOUTH PARK anyone? It’s Japan with more color and better pronunciation of diphthongs…) in terms of economics, politics, and visions of the future.

    WASH POST: Jesper Koll, an economist who’s lived in Japan for 26 years, says it’s not easy for him to keep faith in a country that’s shrinking, aging, stuck in protracted economic gloom and losing fast ground to China as the region’s dominant power. “I am the last Japan optimist,” Koll said in a recent speech in Tokyo.

    Indeed, the once-common species has been virtually wiped out. It was only two decades ago that Japan’s boosters — mainly foreign diplomats and authors, economists and entrepreneurs — touted the tiny nation as a global model for how to attain prosperity and power. But the group has turned gradually into non­believers, with several of the last hold­outs losing faith only recently, as Japan has failed to carry out meaningful reforms after the March 2011 triple disaster. The mass turnabout has helped launch an alternative — and increasingly accepted — school of thought about Japan: The country is not just in a prolonged slump but also in an inescapable decline.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10698

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    3) Sakanaka in Japan Times: Japan as we know it is doomed, only immigrants can save it

    Japan Times: Japan as we know it is doomed. Only a revolution can save it. What kind of revolution? Japan must become “a nation of immigrants.”

    That’s a hard sell in this notoriously closed country. Salesman-in-chief — surprisingly enough — is a retired Justice Ministry bureaucrat named Hidenori Sakanaka, former head of the ministry’s Tokyo Immigration Bureau and current executive director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, a private think tank he founded in 2007.

    “Japan,” he said in a recent telephone interview, “is on the brink of collapse.” [...] No nation, barring war or plague, has ever shrunk at such a pace, and as for aging, there are no historical precedents of any kind. The nation needs a fountain of youth. Sakanaka claims to have found one. Japan, he said, “must welcome 10 million immigrants between now and 2050.” [...] It sounds fantastic, and in fact, Sakanaka acknowledges, would require legislation now lacking — anti-discrimination laws above all.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10690

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    INCREDULITY

    4) Japan Times: Japan Post Office unilaterally decides old “Gaijin Cards” no longer acceptable ID, despite still valid under MOJ

    MMT: An interesting bit of news that was on the JT homepage this week. It seems that although the alien registration card is considered equal to the new zairyu card until July 2015 by the government, it appears not for certain government agencies. Japan Post has a notice on their homepage stating that foreign residents can no longer use the alien registration card as of July 9th, 2012 (or in other words, the same day the zairyu card became available). How the post office can reject ID which is still valid and basically force longer-term residents into changing over their cards immediately is beyond my comprehension.

    As a further bit of news regarding this story, I called the immigration help line on October 1, 2012, to see if they were aware of this development. The staff informed me that yes, the alien registration card is still valid, as stated and acts as one’s zairyu card until July 9th, 2015. When I asked if they were aware that the Japan Post officially began rejecting the alien registration card the very same day the zairyu card became available, they replied that perhaps in cases such as with banks and the post office, you may have to switch over to the new card in order to have acceptable ID. I quickly pointed out that since the government (namely, the Ministry of Justice, no less) has deemed this ID to be equal to the zairyu card for a further three years, shouldn’t it be unacceptable (unlawful?) for any any semi-government agency or private business to reject it? They agreed that my argument “made sense.”

    The immigration staff then suggested that if my alien registration card is rejected by the post office or other place of business that I should give them the number for the Tokyo Immigration administration office (03-5796-7250) so that the post office can call them and get a clarification. It was at that point that I hinted that perhaps it was the job of the immigration department to inform all relevant agencies to stop making arbitrary rules regarding which government-issued ID they will choose to accept: to which I got no answer. Strange, indeed.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10632

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    5) Kyodo: NJ on welfare (unlike Japanese on welfare) now need to pay pension premiums, says Japan Pension Service

    Kyodo: Japan Pension Service has drawn up a guideline that renders foreign residents on welfare no longer eligible for a uniform waiver from premium payments for the public pension, effectively a turnaround from a long-held practice of treating them equally with Japanese, sources familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

    Human rights activists said it is tantamount to discrimination based on nationality. In fiscal 2010, roughly 1.41 million households were on public assistance. Around 42,000 were households led by foreign residents.

    In a reply dated Aug. 10 to a query from a local pension service office, JPS, a government affiliate commissioned to undertake pension services, said, “Public assistance benefits are provided to foreigners living in poverty as done so for Japanese nationals, but foreigners are not subject to the law on public assistance.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10679

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    6) Shuukan Kin’youbi: Protests against NJ businesses in Tokyo turn ugly, yet J media compares Chinese protests against J businesses to Kristallnacht

    Something came up over the past month that deserves mention on Debito.org when it comes to putting all the “violent protests against Japan” into some perspective. Something that was not given much audience in the Japanese media — far-rightists targeting domestic minorities in Japan due to the recent flap over some offshore rocks.

    Yes, people say “both sides are guilty of saber rattling and banging nationalist drums.” But one thing I like to remind people is: Who picked this most recent fight over the Senkakus? And who keeps perpetually stirring things up by having what I would consider a denialist view of history when it comes to being an aggressor and colonizer over the past hundred years? Sorry, but many of Japan’s prominent leaders do. And they (deliberately, in this case) serve to stir up passions overseas. Then when people overseas protest this, who then suddenly claims that the foreigners are overreacting or Japanese are being targeted and victimized? Japan’s leaders. And Japan’s media, to rally the rest of the public.

    However, Japan’s victimization trope is being overplayed. Japanese media, according to the Japan Times, is turning up the invective to compare Chinese protests to Kristallnacht.

    Well, consider the following domestic actions by Japanese far-rightists against not just foreign business communities overseas, but actual NJ residents of Japan who have been living in Japan for generations (who, by all reasonable standards — including fighting and dying for the Japanese Empire — should be Japanese citizens by now). Are we seeing the same comparisons to Krystallnacht? And will we see those comparisons in the media once we get glass in the gutter and bloodied faces? If the standard for violence in Japan is also “verbal” (as in kotoba no bouryoku), then we’re on our way.

    Stop it, everyone, before you do something you might regret later. (Then again, perhaps not, if Japan’s revisionist attitudes towards history continue to hold sway.)

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10659

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    7) BV: “Victimizing the Young, Featherbedding the Old?” On how Japan’s elite bureaucratic rot is adversely affecting Japan’s children

    Guest author “Bitter Valley” is back again with another thing he wants to get off his chest. I think he should, so here it is. One of my pet theories about Japan’s swing towards insularity and conservatism is that as people get older (and Japan as a society is doing just that demographically), they get more politically conservative and resistant to change — or at least change that is not in their best interests. And as “Bitter Valley” points out, it means an inordinate weighting of political power and economic resources in favor of the old at the expense of the young (especially since the very young have no vote, ever fewer numbers, and few political and civil rights to begin with). This is manifesting itself in ways that BV thinks are worth mentioning in Japan’s most cosmopolitan city. Given how centralized political power is in Japan, what happens here will set precedents for the rest of the nation.

    BV: Hi Debito, this is “Bitter Valley” again. We’ve just had some terrible news that the second major children’s facility we have access to in Shibuya, the Kodomo no Shiro (Kiddies Castle) is closing down in 2015. It’s a bit of a hammer blow for us, as we have already just lost the Jidokaikan (Tokyo Children’s Center), which is going to be demolished for another old people’s home. Regardless of what might really behind the closures (more on this later) it’s going to lower the quality of life for kids and mums and dads in Shibuya (and wider afield) considerably.

    Both children’s facilities are/were two of the only major educational/ fun/ accessible/ cheap (no or low cost) play centers. Both, incidentally, were/are tremendous resources for Shibuya’s large ratio of multinational kids. Parents of older children say that there are schools with most classes not only have one but several multiracial or foreign or Japanese but of NJ parentage in classes. Increasingly it’s seen as no big deal. That’s great, at least to non-knuckleheads and/or racists. But the closures suck. First of all the Tokyo Children’s Hall (Jidokaikan) was shut down last year and this spring…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10687

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    8 ) ZakSPA!: “Laughable” stories about “Halfs” in Japan, complete with racialized illustration

    Debito.org Reader CJ submits the following ZakSPA! page talking about Japan’s genetic internationalization in tabloid style: How “funny” it is to be a “half.” Reading through the articles (enclosed below), I’m of two minds about this. On one hand, it’s good to have the media acknowledging that there are Japanese kids of diverse roots and experiences out there, with some tone of saying how silly it all is that so many people get treated in stereotypical ways (with a “roundtable of halfs” at the end giving their own views on the situation). On the other hand, the level of discourse gets pretty low (“some foreigner talked to me in Narita Airport in English and it was so frightening I felt like crying”), and an opportunity to actually address a serious issue of how Japan has changed is wasted on parts laughing, parts crybabying, parts confirmation that treating people as “different” because they look “different” is a natural, if not inevitable, part of life in Japan. I’ll let Debito.org Readers read for themselves and decide whether this important topic is being broached properly.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10674

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    ROUGH DRAFTS

    9) Ishihara resigns Tokyo Governorship, seeks Diet seat as new party head. I say bring it on.

    Something very important happened a few days ago when Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro made a surprise announcement that he would resign his governorship, launch a new political party, and run for a Diet seat in the next Lower House election due in two months.

    I say bring it on. This xenophobic old bigot (now 80) has fallen for one of the oldest tricks in the book: self-delusion, brought on by decades of megalomania and ideological sound-chambering within a cadre of sycophants — which Alberto Fujimori (an old friend of Ishihara and his elite ruling circles) similarly fell for when the self-deluded demagogue buggered off back to Chile (forfeiting his unextradictable safe haven in Japan) to stand for reelection in Peru. Fujimori, as you know, was then extradited to Peru for trial and is now doing essentially life in prison. But I digress.

    I say bring it on for two reasons. One is that even if elected (which he will be, under Japan’s Proportional Representation system — the main avenue for celebrity schmoes to pad their resume and stroke their egos), Ishihara can do less damage as a Dietmember of a fringe party (analysts already are beginning to doubt the strength of the Rightist alliance between other fringe parties) than as Governor of Tokyo, with an entire Metropolitan Police Force (the strongest and most influential in all of Japan) at his disposal to target people he doesn’t like. One of the reasons he says he resigned his Diet seat in 1995 after 25 years in office is because of his frustration with the powerlessness of the Diet in the face of the pervasive Japanese bureaucracy (which, as he correctly claims, rules the country). Now he’s going right back to that same Diet, and I think he thinks he’ll stop at nothing short of becoming PM (He won’t. He won’t live long enough. Osaka Mayor Hashimoto is the bigger threat at half the age.)

    The other reason is because it’s time to put some cards on the table. The Center-Left in Japan (in the form of the DPJ) tried their liberalizations (with NJ PR local suffrage, etc.) and lost badly due to the hue and cry over how NJ, if given any power in Japan, would automatically abuse it and destroy Japan). The image in Japanese politics nowadays is of a rightward swing. Alright, let’s see just how rightward. Japan’s bureaucrats like things just the way they are (their sole purpose is to keep the status quo as is, even if that means Japan irradiates itself and strangles itself to death demographically). It would take a miracle (something I think not even Ishihara is capable of) to dismantle that system. If Ishihara wins, Japan’s rightward swing is conclusive, and the world will have to stop ignoring a resurgent militarist xenophobic Japan. If Ishihara loses, that will take a lot of wind out of Rightist sails and push the country back towards centrism.

    In this poker game, I believe Ishihara will lose. And NJ in Japan have already won a victory by having that bigot abdicate his throne/bully pulpit as leader of one of the world’s largest cities.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10694

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    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?

    Before I wrote my monthly Japan Times column on the Senkakus/Takeshima Disputes published on Oct 2, I wrote a completely different column that approached the issue from the back door: How Japan’s enormous focus on “genuine” and “legitimate” leads to diversity getting subsumed. And when it leads to diversity in opinion being subsumed, you get a society that is particularly susceptible to top-down control of not only the dominant social discourse, but also the very perception of reality within a society. And that leads us to crazy ideas such as a few far offshore rocks being worth all this fuss.

    Heavy stuff. Unfortunately, the people who approve columns at The Japan Times didn’t “get” it, even after two major rewrites and sixteen drafts. (Actually, in all fairness it wasn’t only them — two other friends of mine didn’t “get” it either. But two of my friends in academia did. And we suspect that it was just too “Ivory Tower” for a journalistic audience.) So eight hours before deadline, I rewrote the damn thing entirely, and what you saw published is the result.

    But The Japan Times suggested that I blog it and see what others think. So here it is: The column on the Senkakus/Takeshima Disputes that I wanted to run. I think there are plenty of ideas in there that are still worth salvaging. But let me ask you, Debito.org Readers: Do you “get” it?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=10656

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    … and finally…

    11) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 56 on the Senkakus/Takeshima Disputes: “Revisionists marching Japan back to a dangerous place”

    The Japan Times
    Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012
    JUST BE CAUSE
    Revisionists marching Japan back to a dangerous place
    By ARUDOU DEBITO
    Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121002ad.html
    Version with comments and links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=10645

    ENDS

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    All for this month! Thanks for reading! ARUDOU Debito
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER TUESDAY NOVEMBER 6, 2012 ENDS

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    Posted in Newsletters | 7 Comments »

    Chris Johnson on his 2011 experiences in the “Narita Airport Gaijin Gulag”, a complement to Amnesty’s 2002 expose (Amended)

    Posted on Thursday, January 12th, 2012

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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    Hi Blog.  Last blog entry I talked about Amnesty International’s 2002 report on horrendous treatment and conditions of NJ detainees in Narita Airport. As a complement, here is Chris Johnson, photojournalist at venues such as CNNGo and The Japan Times, offering his unexpurgated experiences there last December.  Despite having a valid visa, he was denied entry, he believes, due to his critical press coverage of TEPCO and government responses to the Fukushima disasters.  He spent 30 hours in the Narita Airport “Gaijin Tank” (which he calls a gulag) before being forced to buy an overpriced one-way ticket and deported, and it changed his views dramatically on Japan’s legal and policing system.

    Excerpt follows.  Full report at http://globalite.posterous.com/inside-the-gaijin-tank-dungeon-at-narita-airp-91122

    This issue deserves more attention.  Extralegality may be the norm in Customs and Immigration Zones around the world, but extreme treatment is exactly what happens when policing is unfettered and unmonitored.  It is, to put it mildly, unbefitting a society such as Japan’s, with official pretensions towards respecting the rule of law. Especially when you read about Chris’s experience with the private security goons, who seem to have gone beyond any plausible mitigation (“just following orders”) by Milgram.  Were these the people who killed Abubakar Awadu Suraj in 2010 while deporting him, and to this day have not been charged with any crime?  Arudou Debito

    NB:  What follows is an updated version of Chris’s report as of January 18, 2011, amending allegations about a private security company called G4S.  Read on for disclaimers:

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Inside the Gaijin Tank dungeon at Narita Airport in Japan

    By Christopher Johnson, freelance photojournalist at CNNGo, The Japan Times, etc.

    Globalite Magazine

    News, photos and fiction from around the world

    Version updated January 18, 2012

    Full article at http://globalite.posterous.com/inside-the-gaijin-tank-dungeon-at-narita-airp-91122

    Detained for 30 hours and expelled from Japan, a veteran Tokyo-based journalist gets a harrowing glimpse into the trap door at Narita Airport leading into a secretive gulag of rights abuses against thousands of foreign visitors and expats, often by guards hired by airlines 

    (((This is a revised, tightened version of an earlier post. It includes a correction based on a comment from a spokesman for g4s, one of the world’s largest companies, which supplies security guards to more than 60 airports. A spokesman says g4s staff are NOT working at Narita. It is not clear who employs the guards accused of mistreating foreigners at Narita.

    It includes information about other Westerners wrongfully jailed and expelled from Japan. Also includes comments via Japan Times from former immigration chief, one of the most important critics of detention policy. As previously noted, it is a raw work in progress, unedited, unpolished. Please send comments, anecdotes and info for inclusion in this story.)))

    —-When you line up to get your passport stamped at Narita international airport outside Tokyo, look to your right toward a set of “special examination rooms.” That is where the trap door into Japan’s secretive gulag begins.

    Most travellers, who regard Japan as a safe country of civilized people, have no idea that thousands of foreign arrivals — just like them — have fallen down that trap door into windowless dungeons in the bowels of the airport. From there, foreigners of all nationalities — seeking a pleasant vacation or a better life in Japan — have vanished into a horrific network of “detention centres” imprisoning thousands of innocent foreigners in appalling conditions.

    Most red-eyed foreign arrivals also don’t realize that the immigration officers taking their fingerprints and scanning their passports are working with xenophobic colleagues who have deported on average about 20,000 foreigners every year since 2005, and who have been on trial for themurder of a longtime foreign resident of Japan last year at Narita.

    They also don’t realize that airlines, according to the Immigration Bureau, are technically responsible for providing nightmarish dungeons and hiring “security guards” accused of human rights abuses – everything from extortion to theft, torture and denial of rights to call embassies, lawyers or family.

    Instead of taking a public stand against the flagrant abuse of their valued customers over the last 15 years, airlines at Narita — knowingly or not — have been reaping windfalls from thousands of expelled passengers forced to purchase one-way tickets at exorbitant prices. Airline officials have not yet replied to requests over the past week for comments on the matter. 

    Whether you are a fresh-minded explorer or a jaded expat fluent in the language and culture, the numbers are shocking, and an embarrassing revelation into the darkest side of Japan, a country that prides itself on safety and rule of law.

    Amnesty International’s annual report for 2011 says Japan accepted 30 refugees out of about 1000 applicants this past year. It’s not clear what happened to the other 970 or so applicants. Many of them could still be incarcerated.

    According to the Immigration Bureau, Japan deports on average 20,000 foreigners every year, including  33,000 in 2005, and another 18,578 in 2010. In other words, Japan kicked out about one-fifth the number of people — 91,778 — who were, as of January 2010, “overstaying their visas”. In reality, “overstaying” means they were dedicating their lives to working for Japanese bosses or employing Japanese in their own businesses, in a country that desperately needs entrepreneurs and job creators. These people, who would normally become immigrants or refugees in other countries, often become prisoners and suicide cases in Japan. All of these people were customers of airlines at Narita. 

    That 2010 number — 18,578 individuals with names and families, often in Japan — is enough to fill about 100 jets flying out of Japan during the mass foreign exodus from aftershocks and radiation fears in March.

    That number — 18,578 — is similar to the official death toll from the March 11 tsunami, which triggered a wave of international sympathy for the plight of Japan.

    Yet other than Amnesty, the UNHCR and some courageous NGOs, few foreign organizations or celebrities have done anything about a system of abuses that ultimately damages Japan’s relations with its key trading partners, causes more than 100,000 people to bear grudges against Japan, andstains the image and balance sheets of airlines who have lost thousands of expelled foreigners as customers. 

    Many immigration officers are aware of these issues, and some are trying to reform from within. One of the bureau’s main critics is their former chief, Hidenori Sakanaka. “One year of confinement is mentally tough,” Hidenori Sakanaka, who headed the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau from April 2002 to March 2005, told the Japan Times in July, 2010. The JT noted reports of suicides by a Brazilian and South Korean earlier that year, and hunger strikes at detention centers. “The Immigration Bureau must stop suicides and hunger strikes.”

    He said detention centers and the Immigration Bureau must go public about the suicides and treatment of detainees, and also explain how a Ghanaian man, who had been working in Japan for 22 years, died in the custody of immigration officers at Narita airport in March 2010. “The incidents give the Immigration Bureau a chance to improve itself.”

    Sakanaka has also authored a book asking readers whether they want “a Bigger Japan” teeming with immigrants, or a “Smaller Japan” with few foreign faces.

    Japan’s Immigration Bureau declares on its website (http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/) that it’s motto is “internationalization in compliance with the rules.” It says the bureau makes “contributions to sound development of Japanese society” by “making efforts for smoother cross-border human mobility” and “deporting undesirable aliens”.

    The problem, activists say, is their view of who is “undesirable.” In fact, few of the 18,578 deportees in 2010 were hardcore criminals threatening Japanese society. The Japanese media stereotype of them as being poor, dirty, uneducated miscreants is completely wrong. Many deportees have Japanese wives, children, friends and pets. Many are fluent in Japanese, with college degrees and successful careers.

    “Jim” is a white male college professor from the United States, who began teaching in Japan about 30 years ago. I first met him in the airport’s “special examination room”. He was wearing a suit and tie like other middle-aged businessmen. He had just walked off a United Airlines flight from America. He wanted to spend Christmas with his 20-year old son, now living with his ex-wife in the Tokyo area. “I got a really cheap ticket, and decided to go for it to see my son,” he says. “The airline let me on, so there shouldn’t have been a problem.”

    Jim would spend Christmas in the dank, windowless dungeon, where for 72 hours he was a victim of extortion, theft, strip-searching, abuse, denial of rights and expulsion from Japan at a rip-off price. (I would later discover that he had given speeches supporting anti-nuke protesters in Japan.)

    ((But even Jim was fortunate compared with Danny Bloom, an American journalist who, after working for five years at the Daily Yomiuri, says he was arrested on charges of overstaying his visa, held in solitary confinement for 41 days in 1995, and deported from Japan. He says he had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which affects an estimated 30 million Americans, due to a plane crash in Alaska, and couldn’t fly to Seoul to obtain a work permit. Now exiled in Taiwan, he says he can never return to “the police state” of Japan, even though he still loves Japanese people.)) 

    ((Other educated white males from the US, Canada, the UK and Australia, who have contacted me since this story first appeared, say privately that they were also victims of wrongful deportation and similar abuses.))

     

    x–x—x—x—x—x—x–x–x—x–x–x—x–x–x

     

    WHO IS WATCHING THE GUARDS?

     

    Jim’s ordeal, and my own experience during a 30-hour detention at Narita and expulsion on Christmas Eve from Japan, confirms Amnesty’s reports dating back to the year 2000, when they first discovered a secret gulag housing thousands of foreigners.

    As other victims have told Amnesty, it’s a scam, and a money-maker for the airlines and security guards. At Narita, they have arbitrary powers, and they use them. They can decide “Entry Denied”, and then find a rule or excuse to justify it. They don’t have to explain their reasons, and the appeal process is a sham.

    Since there aren’t many reports of these abuses at Haneda and other airports in Japan, victims suspect there is a criminal syndicate operating at Narita since at least 1996. One guy marks a paper “Entry Denied.” He hands you off to a guy who shakes you down for 30,000 yen, who then hands you off to another guy who takes away your rights in the dungeon, who then hands you off to another guy who forces you to buy a rip-off plane ticket. If Amnesty is correct in estimating 7 cases per day on average, this syndicate could earn 200,000 yen per day in extortion fees, and 300,000 to perhaps a million yen per day on marked up airline tickets. Where does the money go? Who can stop them from doing this?

    My own experience is consistent with several previous cases cited by Amnesty, and at least five other victims who have emailed me their stories. In my case, Asiana Airlines staff at the check-in counter in Seoul saw that I had a proper visa for Japan, and let me board a flight to Tokyo. The immigration officer at Narita, however, didn’t even look through my Canadian passport, where he would have found proper stamps, working visas, and multiple re-entry permits dating back years. While taking my fingerprints, he saw my name pop up on a list on his computer. (I have strong reason to believe that I have been blacklisted due to my critical coverage of TEPCO, Japan Tobacco, Olympus, JAL, the yakuza, fascists, and state neglect of tsunami survivors and nuclear refugees.) He marked a paper and gave my passport to another officer.

    After leading me to the “special examinations room”, hostile immigration officials at Narita falsified my statements, disregarded my proof, confiscated my passport and belongings, and arbitrarily denied me permission to enter Japan, where I have built up a career as a journalist covering Asia since 1987.  They gave no sensible explanation for their decision. An officer simply wrote “no proof, entry denied” on a document, and asked me to sign it. I refused.

    I was shocked that they could do that. But I shouldn’t have been. Thousands of foreigners arriving at Narita have been victimized by brutal thugs and racists — some of whom are not ethnically Japanese. According to Amnesty, airlines at Narita hire “security guards” to “escort” their passengers to the “detention facilities” — which are de facto maximum security jails. These guards also deny basic human rights, such as phone calls to lawyers, embassies or UNHCR. These guards harass, beat, or torture airline customers into paying “service fees”. In Jim’s case, they abused him until he finally coughed up 30,000 yen, about 400 US. They demanded the same from me, and also took money from my wallet. Gear was also stolen from my baggage.

    Then, after passengers have been deported or denied landing rights, they are forced to acquire an overpriced one-way ticket. Since nobody can stop them from stealing or confiscating your possessions, the guards can use your credit cards or cash to buy tickets against your will. Since nobody is overseeing their extra-legal actions, it’s possible that the guards are taking kickbacks from airline staff selling the outrageously priced tickets.

    In my case, employees at the airport said that I would have to pay as much as 400,000 yen ($5000) for a one-way ticket from Tokyo to Vancouver and Calgary. With a one-way ticket “purchased” against my will, they forced me onto a flight to Canada without much winter clothing for minus 40 temperatures in Alberta. They even called my longtime Japanese partner in Tokyo and threatened her, saying that if she didn’t pay for the ticket, her partner would face lengthy jail time.

     

    After nearly 25 years of life in Asia, I arrived in Canada with 3-days clothing, far away from my house in Tokyo.

     

    (((Who are these guards? Who is employing them? In my delirium during detention, I originally thought I saw “gas” written on their uniforms and van. After a rough draft of this story first appeared, several people wrote to say the guards are working for g4s, a UK-based company founded more than 100 years ago. A spokesman for g4s says this is not true. 

     

    Adam Mynott, director of media relations at g4s, has kindly requested a correction of this. After being contacted by a reporter with The Economist, Mr. Mynott told me in an email that g4s “does not have any security business whatsoever at Narita Airport, nor are there any g4s affiliated Japanese companies working as security guards at the airport.”

     

    I also have found no proof that g4s is operating at Narita. 

     

    This raises key questions: who are the guards escorting detainees at Narita? What company are they working for? Why is “gas” written on the side of their van? Since “gAs” and “g4s” look quite similar, is that company “pirating” the logo of g4s, a respected international company? Or is it simply a coincidence?

     

    A security company working behind the scenes in Japan might have good reason for wanting to somehow draw upon the global success of g4s. 

     

    According to links sent by readers after this story first appeared, g4s is indeed one of the world’s largest companies, with more than 600,000 employees in 125 countries. They reportedly supply security guards to more than 60 airports including Heathrow, Oslo and Vancouver, US military bases in South Korea, Immigration Removal Centers in the UK and detention centres in Australia, a state prison in Birmingham, England, the 2012 London Olympics, US nuclear power plants, oil tankers facing pirate attacks off Somalia, and Japanese embassies around the world. (Note the photo of an armed woman guarding a nuclear reactor: http://careers.g4s.com/2010/11/g4s-nuclear-security-services-corporation-nssc/

     

    It’s not clear where g4s operates in Japan. In South Korea, the US military on December 15 (only a week before I returned from Seoul), accused g4s of violating a contract to guard their bases there, according to Stars and Stripes. Former guards have refused to work for the new company for longer hours and lower wages.  These guards have protested outside U.S. Army bases, including Yongsan Garrison, Camp Red Cloud, Camp Casey, Camp Humphreys, Camp Henry and Camp Carroll. (http://www.stripes.com/news/gis-still-manning-gates-in-s-korea-as-contractor-struggles-to-fill-slots-1.163646)

     

    A company press release said they won a $400 million contract to screen passengers and baggage at 20 airports in Canada, beginning November 1, 2011. When I passed through airports in Vancouver and Calgary on December 24, I found the security staff to be exceptionally friendly and professional. 

     

    The company’s official website (www.g4s.com.) says they help ensure “the safety and welfare” of millions of people worldwide. “We secure airports and embassies, protect cash and valuables for banks and retailers across the globe, safeguard some of the most exciting events in the global sporting and entertainment calendar, and are a trusted partner to governments worldwide,keeping personnel and some of the world’s most important buildings safe and secure. What we do touches people’s lives in nearly every area you can imagine.”

     

    ((http://www.g4s.com) (info@jp-g4s.com, +81-42-519-9303) US media contact: Fiona Walters, Chief Communications Officer,+1 561 691 6459)

     

    (As of January 17, it remains unclear who hired the guards accused of extortion and abuses at Narita since at least 1996. It’s also unclear if the guards, speaking foreign languages during my detention, were Gurkhas from Nepal or nationals of other countries.) 

     

    The immigration bureau’s own documents confirm that airlines are responsible for hiring the security guards at Narita. “Concerning your expenses for being in Japan (meal, lodging, guard etc.) till your departure, the Immigration Bureau cannot take any responsibility,” said an officially stamped notice of the Ministry of Justice Tokyo Immigration Bureau, given to me a few hours before my expulsion. “This is a matter between you and your carrier (airline company).”

    Many airlines gained respect for flying passengers for free or reduced prices out of danger zones after the 2004 tsunami and 2011 nuclear disaster. ANA and JAL, which use Narita as a hub for their global operations, are among the most respected airlines in the world, and they are highly-regarded for their service and safety. Yet credit card and airline employees have stated that they would not normally reimburse payments in such cases, since their passengers had technically“authorized” purchase by signing forms. As one victim of this scam has noted, it’s the moral equivalent of an armed bank robber getting off because the victimized bank teller, fearing for her life, “signed” the withdrawal slip.

    ENDS

    /////////////////////////////////////

    UPDATE JANUARY 20, 2012 FROM DEBITO

    In related news regarding violence/homicide by private security companies towards their detainees, Private Eye (UK) Issue 1291 24 June – July 7, 2011 reported the following:

    =======================
    PRIVATE SECURITY
    G4S locks up the captive market

    Scan of the article at
    http://www.claresambrook.com/campaign-page/Images-campaign-page/Private-Eye-(21-June-Issue-1291).jpg

    CONGRATULATIONS to G4S, the gigantic “Securing Your World” security company that has made sales of GBP 4.2 billion to the Ministry of Justice [UK] alone. Justice secretary Ken Clarke, in reply to a parliamentary question, listed ten contracts with G4S, including running prisons, escorting prisoners and tagging offenders.

    This is in addition to its GBP 42 million in Foreign Office security deals (GBP million in Afghanistan alone) — although these are believed to represent the mere tip of an iceberg, because the FO said details of its numerous contracts around world “are not kept centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost”.

    Then there is the company’s Welfare to Work bonanza, which, as chief executive David Taylor-Smith told financial analysts last month, “when clocked in next year will be GBP 130 million”, not to mention to the “very strong pipeline”that he boasted was heading G4S’s way from the Department of Health.

    Evidently profiting from the public sector carve-up, G4S is the ideal lucrative refuge for former well-connected government ministers such as John Reid, former home secretary and minister of health, defence and transport. Reid, now a peer, went on the G4S payroll in 2008 when he was a backbench MP and is now a G4S non-executive director.

    Amid all this good news, only a party pooper would point out that G4S may face corporate manslaughter charges over the death last year of deportee Jimmy Mubenga, after use of “restraint” at Heathrow; or that the company is awaiting sentence in Australia in the case of an Aboriginal elder who was cooked to death (dying of heatstroke and suffer third-degree burns) as he was transported across the outback in the back of a badly maintained G4S van with no air conditioning, little water, and no way of alerting drivers in the front to his dreadful plight. The company has pleaded guilty to charges of failing to ensure the man’s health and wellbeing.

    But then, with a maximum penalty of a mere AU$ 400,000 (GBP 260,000), it won’t eat into the profits too much.

    ——-

    Last week it emerged that G4S received 773 complaints last year from removal centre detainees — an increase of 240 on the previous year.
    =======================

    ENDS

    COMMENT: Sorry to bring in an unrelated American political “talking point”, but if “corporations are people”, it seems that unlike people, corporations really CAN get away with murder. And even if G4S was uninvolved in the Narita Airport events discussed on Debito.org, the rot and unaccountability of the thuggish private security firms managing the post 9-11 bonanza seems to be systemwide. This must be known about and done away with.

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    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 91 Comments »

    AP: Japan population shrinks by record numbers in 2010. NYT: Its workers aging, Japan turns away immigrants.

    Posted on Monday, January 3rd, 2011

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    Hi Blog.  Double feature today.  First up, the cold hard statistics as Japan’s population drop accelerate.  Second, the New York Times with an excellent article on how and why immigration to Japan is not being allowed to fill the gap.

    This will funnel into my Japan Times column coming out tomorrow, where I do my annual recount of the Top Ten events that influenced NJ in Japan not only for 2010, but also for 2000-2010.  These phenomena make my Top Ten for both lists.  See where tomorrow!  Arudou Debito

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Japan population shrinks by record in 2010
    Associated Press Sat Jan 1, 2011, courtesy of TJL

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110101/ap_on_re_as/as_japan_population

    TOKYO – Japan’s population fell by a record amount last year as the number of deaths climbed to an all-time high in the quickly aging country, the government said Saturday.

    Japan faces a looming demographic squeeze. Baby boomers are moving toward retirement, with fewer workers and taxpayers to replace them. The Japanese boast among the highest life expectancies in the world but have extremely low birth rates.

    Japan logged 1.19 million deaths in 2010 — the biggest number since 1947 when the health ministry’s annual records began. The number of births was nearly flat at 1.07 million.

    As a result, Japan contracted by 123,000 people, which was the most ever and represents the fourth consecutive year of population decline. The top causes of death were cancer, heart disease and stroke, the ministry said.

    Japanese aged 65 and older make up about a quarter of Japan’s current population. The government projects that by 2050, that figure will climb to 40 percent.

    Like in other advanced countries, young people are waiting to get married and choosing to have fewer children because of careers and lifestyle issues.

    Saturday’s report showed 706,000 marriages registered last year — the fewest since 1954 and a sign that birth rates are unlikely to jump dramatically anytime soon.

    Japan’s total population stood at 125.77 million as of October, according to the ministry.
    ENDS

    //////////////////////////////////////////////

    The Great Deflation
    This series of articles examines the effects on Japanese society of two decades of economic stagnation and declining prices.

    Its Workers Aging, Japan Turns Away Immigrants [original title]
    [Current title: Despite Shortage, Japan Keeps a High Wall for Foreign Labor]
    The New York Times
    By HIROKO TABUCHI
    Published: January 2, 2011, courtesy of The Club

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/03/world/asia/03japan.html

    KASHIWA, Japan — Maria Fransiska, a young, hard-working nurse from Indonesia, is just the kind of worker Japan would seem to need to replenish its aging work force.

    But Ms. Fransiska, 26, is having to fight to stay. To extend her three-year stint at a hospital outside Tokyo, she must pass a standardized nursing exam administered in Japanese, a test so difficult that only 3 of the 600 nurses brought here from Indonesia and the Philippines since 2007 have passed.

    So Ms. Fransiska spends eight hours in Japanese language drills, on top of her day job at the hospital. Her dictionary is dog-eared from countless queries, but she is determined: her starting salary of $2,400 a month was 10 times what she could earn back home, and if she fails, she will never be allowed to return to Japan on the same program again.

    “I think I have something to contribute here,” Ms. Fransiska said during a recent visit, spooning mouthfuls of rice and vegetables into the mouth of Heiichi Matsumaru, a 80-year-old patient recovering from a stroke. “If I could, I would stay here long-term, but it is not so easy.”

    Despite facing an imminent labor shortage as its population ages, Japan has done little to open itself up to immigration. In fact, as Ms. Fransiska and many others have discovered, the government is doing the opposite, actively encouraging both foreign workers and foreign graduates of its universities and professional schools to return home while protecting tiny interest groups — in the case of Ms. Fransiska, a local nursing association afraid that an influx of foreign nurses would lower industry salaries.

    In 2009, the number of registered foreigners here fell for the first time since the government started to track annual records almost a half-century ago, shrinking 1.4 percent from a year earlier to 2.19 million people — or just 1.71 percent of Japan’s overall population of 127.5 million.

    Experts say increased immigration provides one obvious remedy to Japan’s two decades of lethargic economic growth. Instead of accepting young workers, however — and along with them, fresh ideas — Tokyo seems to have resigned itself to a demographic crisis that threatens to stunt the country’s economic growth, hamper efforts to deal with its chronic budget deficits and bankrupt its social security system.

    “If you’re in the medical field, it’s obvious that Japan needs workers from overseas to survive. But there’s still resistance,” said Yukiyoshi Shintani, chairman of Aoikai Group, the medical services company that is sponsoring Ms. Fransiska and three other nurses to work at a hospital outside Tokyo. “The exam,” he said, “is to make sure the foreigners will fail.”

    Tan Soon Keong, a student, speaks five languages — English, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese and Hokkien — has an engineering degree, and three years of work experience in his native Malaysia, a track record that would seem to be invaluable to Japanese companies seeking to globalize their business.

    Still, he says he is not confident about landing a job in Japan when he completes his two-year technical program at a college in Tokyo’s suburbs next spring. For one, many companies here set an upper age limit for fresh graduate hires; at 26, most consider him too old to apply. Others have told him they are not hiring foreigners.

    Mr. Tan is not alone. In 2008, only 11,000 of the 130,000 foreign students at Japan’s universities and technical colleges found jobs here, according to the recruitment firm, Mainichi Communications. While some Japanese companies have publicly said they will hire more foreigners in a bid to globalize their work forces, they remain a minority.

    “I’m preparing for the possibility that I may have to return to Malaysia,” Mr. Tan said at a recent job fair for foreign students in Tokyo. “I’d ideally work at a company like Toyota,” he said. “But that’s looking very difficult.”

    Japan is losing skilled talent across industries, experts say. Investment banks, for example, are moving more staff to hubs like Hong Kong and Singapore, which have more foreigner-friendly immigration and taxation regimes, lower costs of living and a local population that speaks better English.

    Foreigners who submitted new applications for residential status — an important indicator of highly skilled labor because the status requires a specialized profession — slumped 49 percent in 2009 from a year earlier to just 8,905 people.

    The barriers to more immigration to Japan are many. Restrictive immigration laws bar the country’s struggling farms or workshops from access to foreign labor, driving some to abuse trainee programs for workers from developing countries, or hire illegal immigrants. Stringent qualification requirements shut out skilled foreign professionals, while a web of complex rules and procedures discourages entrepreneurs from setting up in Japan.

    Given the dim job prospects, universities here have been less than successful at raising foreign student enrollment numbers. And in the current harsh economic climate, as local incomes fall and new college graduates struggle to land jobs, there has been scant political will to broach what has been a delicate topic.

    But Japan’s demographic time clock is ticking: its population will fall by almost a third to 90 million within 50 years, according to government forecasts. By 2055, more than one in three Japanese will be over 65, as the working-age population falls by over a third to 52 million.

    Still, when a heavyweight of the defeated Liberal Democratic Party unveiled a plan in 2008 calling for Japan to accept at least 10 million immigrants, opinion polls showed that a majority of Japanese were opposed. A survey of roughly 2,400 voters earlier this year by the daily Asahi Shimbun showed that 65 percent of respondents opposed a more open immigration policy.

    “The shrinking population is the biggest problem. The country is fighting for its survival,” said Hidenori Sakanaka, director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, an independent research organization. “Despite everything, America manages to stay vibrant because it attracts people from all over the world,” he said. “On the other hand, Japan is content to all but shut out people from overseas.”

    Now, in a vicious cycle, Japan’s economic woes, coupled with a lack of progress in immigration policy and lack of support for immigrants, are sparking an exodus of the precious few immigrants who have settled here.

    Akira Saito, 37, a Brazilian of Japanese descent who traveled to Toyota City 20 years ago from São Paolo, is one foreign worker ready to leave. The small auto maintenance outfit that Mr. Saito opened after a string of factory jobs is struggling, and the clothing store that employs his Brazilian wife, Tiemi, will soon close. Their three young children are among the local Brazilian school’s few remaining pupils.

    For many of Mr. Saito’s compatriots who lost their jobs in the fallout from the global economic crisis, there has been scant government support. Some in the community have taken money from a controversial government-sponsored program designed to encourage jobless migrant workers to go home.

    “I came to Japan for the opportunities,” Mr. Saito said. “Lately, I feel there will be more opportunity back home.”

    Though Japan had experienced a significant amount of migration in the decades after World War II, it was not until the dawn of Japan’s “bubble economy” of the 1980s that real pressure built on the government to relax immigration restrictions as a way to supply workers to industries like manufacturing and construction.

    What ensued was a revision of the immigration laws in a way that policy makers believed would keep the country’s ethnic homogeneity intact. In 1990, Japan started to issue visas to foreign citizens exclusively of Japanese descent, like the descendants of Japanese who immigrated to Brazil in search of opportunities in the last century. In the 1990s, the number of Japanese Brazilians who came to Japan in search of work, like Mr. Saito, surged.

    But the government did little to integrate its migrant populations. Children of foreigners are exempt from compulsory education, for example, while local schools that accept non-Japanese speaking children receive almost no help in caring for their needs. Many immigrant children drop out, supporters say, and most foreign workers here in Homi say they plan to return to Brazil.

    “Japan does not build strong links between immigrants and the local community,” said Hiroyuki Nomoto, who runs a school for immigrant children in Toyota.

    The country is losing its allure even for wide-eyed fans of its cutting-edge technology, pop culture and the seemingly endless business opportunities its developed consumer society appears to offer.

    “Visitors come to Tokyo and see such a high-tech, colorful city. They get this gleam in their eye, they say they want to move here,” said Takara Swoopes Bullock, an American entrepreneur who has lived in Japan since 2005. “But setting up shop here is a completely different thing. Often, it just doesn’t make sense, so people move on.”
    ENDS

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    Posted in Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 8 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column with my top ten NJ human rights issues for 2009

    Posted on Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

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    Human rights in Japan: a top 10 for ’09

    JUST BE CAUSE Column 24/ZEIT GIST Column 53 for the Japan Times Community Page

    The Japan Times January 5, 2010

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20100105ad.html

    They say that human rights advances come in threes:  two steps forward and one back.  2009, however, had good news and bad on balance.  For me, the top 10 human rights events of the year that affected non-Japanese (NJ) were, in ascending order:

    10) “Mr. James”

    Between August and November, McDonald’s Japan had this geeky Caucasian shill portraying foreigners to Japanese consumers (especially children, one of McDonald’s target markets) as dumb enough to come to Japan, home of a world cuisine, just for the burgers.  Pedantry aside, McDonald’s showed its true colors — not as a multinational promoting multiculturalism (its image in other countries), but instead as a ruthless corporation willing to undermine activists promoting “foreigner as resident of Japan” just to push product.  McD’s unapologetically pandered to latent prejudices in Japan by promoting the gaijin as hapless tourist, speaking Japanese in katakana and never fitting in no matter how hard he shucks or jives.  They wouldn’t even fight fair, refusing to debate in Japanese for the domestic media.  “Mr. James’s” katakana blog has since disappeared, but his legacy will live on in a generation of kids spoon-fed cultural pap with their fast food.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4303

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4243

    9) “The Cove”

    Although not a movie about “human” rights (the subjects are sentient mammals), this documentary (www.thecovemovie.com) about annual dolphin slaughters in southern Wakayama Prefecture shows the hard slog activists face in this society.  When a handful of local fishermen cull dolphins and call it “Japanese tradition,” the government (both local and national), police and our media machines instinctively encircle to cover it up.  Just to get hard evidence to enable public scrutiny, activists had to go as far as to get George Lucas’s studios to create airborne recording devices and fit cameras into rocks.  It showed the world what we persevering activists all know:  how advanced an art form public unaccountability is in Japan.

    8) The pocket knife/pee dragnets (tie)

    The Japanese police’s discretionary powers of NJ racial profiling, search and seizure were in full bloom this year, exemplified by two events that beggared belief.  The first occurred in July, when a 74-year-old American tourist who asked for directions at a Shinjuku police box was incarcerated for 10 days just for carrying a pocket knife (yes, the koban cops asked him specifically whether he was carrying one).  The second involved confirmed reports of police apprehending NJ outside Roppongi bars and demanding they take urine tests for drugs.  Inconceivable treatment for Japanese (sure, sometimes they get hit for bag searches, but not bladder searches), but the lack of domestic press attention — even to stuff as egregious as this — shows that Japanese cops can zap NJ at whim with impunity.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3772

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4257

    7) “Itchy and Scratchy” (another tie)

    Accused murderer Tatsuya Ichihashi and convicted embezzler Nozomu Sahashi also got zapped this year.  Well, kinda.

    Ichihashi spent close to three years on the lam after police in 2007 bungled his capture at his apartment, where the strangled body of English teacher Lindsay Ann Hawker was found.  He was finally nabbed in November, but only after intense police and media lobbying by her family (lessons here for the families of fellow murdered NJs Scott Tucker, Matthew Lacey and Honiefaith Kamiosawa) and on the back of a crucial tip from plastic surgeons.

    Meanwhile Sahashi, former boss of Eikaiwa empire NOVA (bankrupted in 2007), was finally sentenced Aug. 27 to a mere 3.5 years, despite bilking thousands of customers, staff and NJ teachers.

    For Sahashi it’s case closed (pending appeal), but in Ichihashi’s case, his high-powered defense team is already claiming police abuse in jail, and is no doubt preparing to scream “miscarriage of justice” should he get sentenced.  Still, given the leniency shown to accused NJ killers Joji Obara and Hiroshi Nozaki, let’s see what the Japanese judiciary comes up with on this coin toss.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4364

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5413

    6) “Newcomers” outnumber “oldcomers”

    This happened by the end of 2007, but statistics take time to tabulate.  Last March, the press announced that “regular permanent residents” (as in NJ who were born overseas and have stayed long enough to qualify for permanent residency) outnumber “special permanent residents” (the “Zainichi” Japan-born Koreans, Chinese etc. “foreigners” who once comprised the majority of NJ) by 440,000 to 430,000.  That’s a total of nearly a million NJ who cannot legally be forced to leave.  This, along with Chinese residents now outnumbering Koreans, denotes a sea change in the NJ population, indicating that immigration from outside Japan is proceeding apace.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2852

    5) Proposals for a “Japanese-style immigration nation”

    Hidenori Sakanaka, head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute (www.jipi.gr.jp), is a retired Immigration Bureau mandarin who actually advocates a multicultural Japan — under a proper immigration policy run by an actual immigration ministry.  In 2007, he offered a new framework for deciding between a “Big Japan” (with a vibrant, growing economy thanks to inflows of NJ) and a “Small Japan” (a parsimonious Asian backwater with a relatively monocultural, elderly population).  In 2009, he offered a clearer vision in a bilingual handbook (available free from JIPI) of policies on assimilating NJ and educating Japanese to accept a multiethnic society.  I cribbed from it in my last JBC column (Dec 1) and consider it, in a country where government-sponsored think tanks can’t even use the word “immigration” when talking about Japan’s future, long-overdue advice.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4832

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4944

    4) IC-chipped “gaijin cards” and NJ juminhyo residency certificates (tie)

    Again, 2009 was a year of give and take.  On July 8, the Diet adopted policy for (probably remotely trackable) chips to be placed in new “gaijin cards” (which all NJ must carry 24-7 or risk arrest) for better policing.  Then, within the same policy, NJ will be listed on Japan’s residency certificates (juminhyo).  The latter is good news, since it is a longstanding insult to NJ taxpayers that they are not legally “residents,” i.e. not listed with their families (or at all) on a household juminhyo.  However, in a society where citizens are not required to carry any universal ID at all, the policy still feels like one step forward, two steps back.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=3786

    3) The Savoie child abduction case

    Huge news on both sides of the pond was Christopher Savoie’s Sept.28 attempt to retrieve his kids from Japan after his ex-wife abducted them from the United States.  Things didn’t go as planned:  The American Consulate in Fukuoka wouldn’t let them in, and he was arrested by Japanese police for two weeks until he agreed to get out of Dodge.  Whatever you think about this messy case, the Savoie incident raised necessary attention worldwide about Japan’s status as a safe haven for international child abductors, and shone a light on the harsh truth that after a divorce, in both domestic and international cases, there is no enforced visitation or joint custody in Japan — even for Japanese.  It also occasioned this stark conclusion from your columnist:  Until fundamental reforms are made to Japan’s family law (which encourages nothing less than Parental Alienation Syndrome), nobody should risk getting married and having kids in Japan.

    http://www.debito.org/?cat=49

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4664

    2) The election of the Democratic Party of Japan

    Nothing has occasioned more hope for change in the activist community than the end of five decades of Liberal Democratic Party rule.  Although we are still in “wait and see” mode after 100 days in power, there is a perceptible struggle between the major proponents of the status quo (the bureaucrats) and the Hatoyama Cabinet (which itself is understandably fractious, given the width of its ideological tent).  We have one step forward with permanent residents probably getting the vote in local elections, and another with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama saying at the APEC Summit on Nov. 14 that Japan should “create an environment that is friendly to [NJ] so they voluntarily live in Japan.”  But then we have the no-steps-anywhere: The DPJ currently has no plans to consider fundamental issues such as dual nationality, a racial discrimination law, an immigration ministry, or even an immigration policy.  Again, wait and see.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5141

    1) The “Nikkei repatriation bribe”

    This more than anything demonstrated how the agents of the status quo (again, the bureaucrats) keep public policy xenophobic.  Twenty years ago they drafted policy that brought in cheap NJ labor as “trainees” and “researchers,” then excluded them from labor law protections by not classifying them as “workers.”  They also brought in Nikkei workers to “explore their Japanese heritage” (but really to install them, again, as cheap labor to stop Japan’s factories moving overseas).  Then, after the economic tailspin of 2008, on April Fool’s Day the bureaucrats offered the Nikkei (not the trainees or researchers, since they didn’t have Japanese blood) a bribe to board a plane home, give up their visas and years of pension contributions, and become some other country’s problem.  This move, above all others, showed the true intentions of Japanese government policy:  NJ workers, no matter what investments they make here, are by design tethered to temporary, disposable, revolving-door labor conditions, with no acceptable stake or entitlement in Japan’s society.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2930

    Bubbling underNoriko Calderon (victim of the same xenophobic government policies mentioned above, which even split families apart), Noriko Sakai (who tried to pin her drug issues on foreign dealers), sumo potheads (who showed that toking and nationality were unrelated), and swine flu (which was once again portrayed as an “outsiders’ disease” until Japanese caught it too after Golden Week).

    2009 was a pretty mixed year.  Let’s hope 2010 is more progressive.

    Debito Arudou coauthored “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants.”  Twitter arudoudebito.  Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month.  Send comments to community@japantimes.co.jp

    ENDS

    1538 WORDS

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    Japan Times: New Gaijin Cards bill looks set to pass Diet

    Posted on Friday, June 19th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
    Hi Blog. Looks like we lost this one. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    VOTE LOOMS FOR IMMIGRATION BILL
    Immigration revision set to be passed
    The Japan Times: Friday, June 19, 2009

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20090619a1.html
    Compromise paves way for state-issued foreigner cards
    By MINORU MATSUTANI, Staff writer, courtesy lots of people.

    The ruling and opposition camps have revised a contentious set of immigration bills in a way that increases government scrutiny of both legal and illegal foreign residents while extending additional conveniences, according to a draft obtained Thursday by The Japan Times.

    Legislators from the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling bloc and the Democratic Party of Japan hammered out the bills to reach a balance on how the estimated 110,000 undocumented foreigners living in Japan should be tracked. Currently, municipalities issue alien registration cards and provide public services to foreigners, even if they know they are overstaying their visas.

    The revised bills, expected to be passed Friday by the Lower House, will abolish the Alien Registration Act and revise the immigration control and resident registration laws with sweeping changes that put information on foreign residents completely in the hands of the central government.

    “The bills are well made. Foreigners obeying the law will be treated better,” said Hidenori Sakanaka, director general of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, a private think tank. Sakanaka headed several of the government’s local immigration offices, including the Tokyo bureau.

    According to the draft, authority for managing foreign residents will shift from municipalities to the Immigration Bureau, allowing it to consolidate all personal information collected from foreign residents, including type of visa and expiration date.

    Documented foreigners will be given more conveniences, including five-year visas and permit-free re-entry as long as they return within a year.

    Undocumented foreigners, however, will have to keep in hiding, request special permits to stay, or face deportation.

    To prevent illegal residents who have legitimate reasons for staying from being deported, the bills state that the Justice Ministry, which oversees the Immigration Bureau, must clarify and announce the standard for granting such permits so illegal residents will be motivated to turn themselves in.

    “We have to make sure overstaying foreigners who are behaving as good citizens as ordinary Japanese will not have to be deported or go underground,” said DPJ lawmaker Ritsuo Hosokawa, who helped draft the bills in the Lower House Justice Committee.

    “We need these bills to be enacted. We need to know how many foreigners there are and where they live. So consolidating information into the Justice Ministry is necessary,” Hosokawa said.

    The draft also says a new form of identification called a “zairyu” (residence) card will replace the current alien registration cards, and the personal information and code numbers on them will be given to “the justice minister.”

    The bills also have a provision to prevent the ministry from using that data improperly, a decision that was made to ward off criticism that “the minister” could abuse the zairyu card number to violate foreigners’ privacy. But no penalty for such abuse was listed.

    The practice, dubbed data-matching, was outlawed by the Supreme Court in regard to its use on Japanese citizens.

    The provision says “the justice minister” must limit the use of foreign residents’ personal information to the minimum required for managing such residents and that the information must be handled with care to protect the rights of individuals. But no penalties or methods for enforcing such compliance are listed in the bills.

    In addition, foreign residents will also be required to be listed on Juki Net, the contentious nationwide resident registry network that lists data on all Japanese residents in each municipality.

    On the other hand, the Immigration Bureau will tighten control of foreign residents by stripping away their residential status if they fail to report changes in address, marital status or workplace within three months. No regulations for that exist under current law.

    In addition, those who fail to report such changes within 14 days or are found not carrying their zairyu cards could be hit with a ¥200,000 fine, the same regulation as the current law.

    To crack down on fake marriages, the bills allow the justice minister to cancel the residential status of foreigners holding spouse visas who have not conducted “normal spousal activities,” such as living together, for six months without legitimate reason. Legitimate reasons include things like domestic violence, Hosokawa said.

    The bills also say, however, that foreigners who lose their spouse visas for such reasons should be made eligible to receive other types of visas.

    Special permanent residents, who are typically of Korean or Taiwanese descent, will not have to carry special permanent resident cards, but will still need to possess them.

    Special permanent resident status is normally given to people who moved to Japan from the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan during Japan’s colonial rule in the early 20th century, and lost their Japanese citizenship due to peace treaties, and their descendants.

    The bills also state that the government is to review the new immigration law and make necessary changes within three years after it comes into force. If enacted, the new law take force within three years after it is announced.

    Paperwork on foreign residents, including changes of status and renewal of their alien registration cards, are usually handled by their municipalities. If the new law is enforced, they will have to go to the nearest immigration office to handle everything except for changes of address, which will still be handled by their municipalities.

    The Japan Times: Friday, June 19, 2009
    ENDS

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    TIME Mag, Asahi, NY Times: “Japan to Immigrants: Thanks, but go home”

    Posted on Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar

    Hi Blog. Three articles that echo much of the sentiment I expressed in my April 7, 2009 Japan Times article on the Nikkei repatriation bribe. First TIME Magazine, then a blurb (that’s all) from the Asahi on how returned Nikkei are faring overseas, and than finally the New York Times with some good quotes from the architect of this policy, the LDP’s Kawasaki Jiro (who amazingly calls US immigration policy “a failure”, and uses it to justify kicking out Japan’s immigrants). Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    PS:  Here’s a political comic based upon the NY Times photo accompanying the article below.  Courtesy of creator RDV:

    http://politicomix.blogspot.com/2009/04/foreigners-fuck-off.html

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    TIME Magazine, Monday, Apr. 20, 2009
    Japan to Immigrants: Thanks, But You Can Go Home Now
    By Coco Masters / Tokyo,
    Courtesy Matt Dioguardi and KG
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1892469,00.html

    When union leader Francisco Freitas has something to say, Japan’s Brazilian community listens. The 49-year old director of the Japan Metal and Information Machinery Workers called up the Brazilian Embassy in Tokyo April 14, fuming over a form being passed out at employment offices in Hamamatsu City, southwest of Tokyo. Double-sided and printed on large sheets of paper, the form enables unemployed workers of Japanese descent — and their family members — to secure government money for tickets home. It sounded like a good deal to the Brazilians for whom it was intended. The fine print in Portuguese, however, revealed a catch that soured the deal: it’s a one-way ticket with an agreement not to return.

    Japan’s offer to minority communities in need has spawned the ire of those whom it intends to help. It is one thing to be laid off in an economic crisis. It is quite another to be unemployed and to feel unwanted by the country where you’ve settled. That’s how Freitas and other Brazilians feel since the Japanese government started the program to pay $3,000 to each jobless foreigner of Japanese descent (called Nikkei) and $2,000 to each family member to return to their country of origin. The money isn’t the problem, the Brazilians say; it’s the fact that they will not be allowed to return until economic and employment conditions improve — whenever that may be. “When Nikkei go back and can’t return, for us that’s discrimination,” says Freitas, who has lived in Japan with his family for 12 years.

    With Japan’s unemployment rate on the rise — it reached a three-year high of 4.4% in February — the government is frantic to find solutions to stanch the flow of job losses and to help the unemployed. The virtual collapse of Japan’s export-driven economy, in which exports have nearly halved compared to the first two months of last year, has forced manufacturers to cut production. Temporary and contract workers at automotive and electronics companies have been hit especially hard. Hamamatsu has 18,000 Brazilian residents, about 5% of the total in Japan, and is home to the nation’s largest Brazilian community. After immigration laws relaxed in 1990, making it easier for foreigners to live and work in Japan, Brazilians have grown to be the country’s third largest minority, after Koreans and Chinese. But as jobs grow scarce and money runs out, some Nikkei ironically now face the same tough decision their Japanese relatives did 100 years ago, when they migrated to Brazil.

    Japan can scarcely afford to lose part of its labor force, or close itself off further to foreigners. Japan, with its aging population that is projected to shrink by one-third over the next 50 years, needs all the workers it can get. The U.N. has projected that the nation will need 17 million immigrants by 2050 to maintain a productive economy. But immigration laws remain strict, and foreign-born workers make up only 1.7% of the total population. Brazilians feel particularly hard done by. “The reaction from the Brazilian community is very hot,” says a Brazilian Embassy official. The embassy has asked Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to “ease the conditions” of reentry for Brazilians who accept the money. (Paradoxically, the Japanese government had recently stepped up efforts to help Brazilian residents, with programs such as Japanese-language training and job-counseling.) This particular solution to unemployment, however, is perceived as a misguided gift. “Maybe there were good intentions, but the offer was presented in the worst way possible,” says the Brazilian official. The program applies to Brazilians who have long-term Nikkei visas, but restricts their right — and that of their family members — to reentry until jobs are available in Japan. The terms are vague and will probably stay that way. Tatsushi Nagasawa, a Japanese health ministry official says it’s not possible to know when those who accept the money will be allowed back into Japan, though the conditions for reentry for highly skilled positions might be relaxed.

    The Brazilian community plainly needs some help. The Brazilian embassy normally pays for between 10 and 15 repatriations each year, but in the last few months it has already paid for about 40. Since last September, Carlos Zaha has seen many in his Hamamatsu community lose their jobs. In December, he helped start Brasil Fureai, or “Contact Brazil,” an association to help unemployed Brazilian residents find jobs. He’s thankful to the Japanese government for the offer of assisted repatriation, but says the decision will be a rough one for workers. “I don’t think [the government] thought this through well,” Zaha says. “If someone is over 50 years old and is already thinking of returning to Brazil then it might work. But there are many people in their 20s and 30s, and after two or three years they’re going to want to come back to Japan — and they won’t be able to.”

    Lenine Freitas, 23, the son of the union leader, lost his job at Asmo, a small motor manufacturer, one month ago, but says he plans to stay in Japan and work. Freitas says that there would be no problem if the Japanese government set a term of, say, three years, after which Brazilians who took the money could return. But after nine years working at Suzuki Motor Corp., he thinks that the government should continue to take responsibility for foreigners in Japan. “They have to help people to continue working in Japan,” he says. “If Brazilians go home, what will they do there?”

    And if Nikkei Brazilians, Peruvians and others who have lost their jobs go home, what will Japan do? Last week, Prime Minister Taro Aso unveiled a long-term growth strategy to create millions of jobs and add $1.2 trillion to GDP by 2020. But the discussion of immigration reform is notoriously absent in Japan, and reaching a sensible policy for foreign workers has hardly got under way. Encouraging those foreigners who would actually like to stay in Japan to leave seems a funny place to start.

    ENDS

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

    http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200904170104.html

    Returnees to Brazil finding it tough

    THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

    2009/4/17, courtesy of KG
    SAO PAULO–Many Brazilians of Japanese ancestry returning here from recession-struck Japan are struggling to find work, according to Grupo Nikkei, an NGO set up to support the job-seekers.

    The group said the number of returnees seeking help had more than doubled from 70 a month last year to 150 a month this year.

    Some returnees who performed unskilled labor in Japan have found it difficult to return to old jobs that require specific expertise, according to Leda Shimabukuro, 57, who heads the group. Some youths also lack Portuguese literacy skills, Shimabukuro said.(IHT/Asahi: April 17,2009)

    ENDS (yes, that’s all the space this merits in the Asahi)

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

    New York Times April 23, 2009

    Japan Pays Foreign Workers to Go Home

    The government will pay thousands of dollars to fly Mrs. Yamaoka; her husband, who is a Brazilian citizen of Japanese descent; and their family back to Brazil. But in exchange, Mrs. Yamaoka and her husband must agree never to seek to work in Japan again.

    “I feel immense stress. I’ve been crying very often,” Mrs. Yamaoka, 38, said after a meeting where local officials detailed the offer in this industrial town in central Japan.

    “I tell my husband that we should take the money and go back,” she said, her eyes teary. “We can’t afford to stay here much longer.”

    Japan’s offer, extended to hundreds of thousands of blue-collar Latin American immigrants, is part of a new drive to encourage them to leave this recession-racked country. So far, at least 100 workers and their families have agreed to leave, Japanese officials said.

    But critics denounce the program as shortsighted, inhumane and a threat to what little progress Japan has made in opening its economy to foreign workers.

    “It’s a disgrace. It’s cold-hearted,” said Hidenori Sakanaka, director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, an independent research organization.

    “And Japan is kicking itself in the foot,” he added. “We might be in a recession now, but it’s clear it doesn’t have a future without workers from overseas.”

    The program is limited to the country’s Latin American guest workers, whose Japanese parents and grandparents emigrated to Brazil and neighboring countries a century ago to work on coffee plantations.

    In 1990, Japan — facing a growing industrial labor shortage — started issuing thousands of special work visas to descendants of these emigrants. An estimated 366,000 Brazilians and Peruvians now live in Japan.

    The guest workers quickly became the largest group of foreign blue-collar workers in an otherwise immigration-averse country, filling the so-called three-K jobs (kitsui, kitanai, kiken — hard, dirty and dangerous).

    But the nation’s manufacturing sector has slumped as demand for Japanese goods evaporated, pushing unemployment to a three-year high of 4.4 percent. Japan’s exports plunged 45.6 percent in March from a year earlier, and industrial production is at its lowest level in 25 years.

    New data from the Japanese trade ministry suggested manufacturing output could rise in March and April, as manufacturers start to ease production cuts. But the numbers could have more to do with inventories falling so low that they need to be replenished than with any increase in demand.

    While Japan waits for that to happen, it has been keen to help foreign workers leave, which could ease pressure on domestic labor markets and the unemployment rolls.

    “There won’t be good employment opportunities for a while, so that’s why we’re suggesting that the Nikkei Brazilians go home,” said Jiro Kawasaki, a former health minister and senior lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

    “Nikkei” visas are special visas granted because of Japanese ancestry or association.

    Mr. Kawasaki led the ruling party task force that devised the repatriation plan, part of a wider emergency strategy to combat rising unemployment.

    Under the emergency program, introduced this month, the country’s Brazilian and other Latin American guest workers are offered $3,000 toward air fare, plus $2,000 for each dependent — attractive lump sums for many immigrants here. Workers who leave have been told they can pocket any amount left over.

    But those who travel home on Japan’s dime will not be allowed to reapply for a work visa. Stripped of that status, most would find it all but impossible to return. They could come back on three-month tourist visas. Or, if they became doctors or bankers or held certain other positions, and had a company sponsor, they could apply for professional visas.

    Spain, with a unemployment rate of 15.5 percent, has adopted a similar program, but immigrants are allowed to reclaim their residency and work visas after three years.

    Japan is under pressure to allow returns. Officials have said they will consider such a modification, but have not committed to it.

    “Naturally, we don’t want those same people back in Japan after a couple of months,” Mr. Kawasaki said. “Japanese taxpayers would ask, ‘What kind of ridiculous policy is this?’ ”

    The plan came as a shock to many, especially after the government introduced a number of measures in recent months to help jobless foreigners, including free Japanese-language courses, vocational training and job counseling. Guest workers are eligible for limited cash unemployment benefits, provided they have paid monthly premiums.

    “It’s baffling,” said Angelo Ishi, an associate professor in sociology at Musashi University in Tokyo. “The Japanese government has previously made it clear that they welcome Japanese-Brazilians, but this is an insult to the community.”

    It could also hurt Japan in the long run. The aging country faces an impending labor shortage. The population has been falling since 2005, and its working-age population could fall by a third by 2050. Though manufacturers have been laying off workers, sectors like farming and care for the elderly still face shortages.

    But Mr. Kawasaki said the economic slump was a good opportunity to overhaul Japan’s immigration policy as a whole.

    “We should stop letting unskilled laborers into Japan. We should make sure that even the three-K jobs are paid well, and that they are filled by Japanese,” he said. “I do not think that Japan should ever become a multi-ethnic society.”

    He said the United States had been “a failure on the immigration front,” and cited extreme income inequalities between rich Americans and poor immigrants.

    At the packed town hall meeting in Hamamatsu, immigrants voiced disbelief that they would be barred from returning. Angry members of the audience converged on officials. Others walked out of the meeting room.

    “Are you saying even our children will not be able to come back?” one man shouted.

    “That is correct, they will not be able to come back,” a local labor official, Masahiro Watai, answered calmly.

    Claudio Nishimori, 30, said he was considering returning to Brazil because his shifts at a electronics parts factory were recently reduced. But he felt anxious about going back to a country he had left so long ago.

    “I’ve lived in Japan for 13 years. I’m not sure what job I can find when I return to Brazil,” he said. But his wife has been unemployed since being laid off last year and he can no longer afford to support his family.

    Mrs. Yamaoka and her husband, Sergio, who settled here three years ago at the height of the export boom, are undecided. But they have both lost jobs at auto factories. Others have made up their minds to leave. About 1,000 of Hamamatsu’s Brazilian inhabitants left the city before the aid was even announced. The city’s Brazilian elementary school closed last month.

    “They put up with us as long as they needed the labor,” said Wellington Shibuya, who came six years ago and lost his job at a stove factory in October. “But now that the economy is bad, they throw us a bit of cash and say goodbye.”

    He recently applied for the government repatriation aid and is set to leave in June.

    “We worked hard; we tried to fit in. Yet they’re so quick to kick us out,” he said. “I’m happy to leave a country like this.”

    ENDS

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    Posted in Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Labor issues | 21 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 1, 2009

    Posted on Sunday, February 1st, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 1, 2009
    Table of Contents:
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    IRONIES
    1) Outrage over Mie-ken teacher criminalizing students thru fingerprinting. Well, fancy that.
    2) The Australian Magazine 1993 on Gregory Clark’s modus operandi in Japan
    3) Tsukiji Fish Market reopens, the NJ blame game continues
    4) BBS 2-Channel’s Nishimura sells off his golden goose
    (and my upcoming JT column Feb 3 on 2-Channel and Japan’s Bully Culture)
    5) IHT on Buraku Nonaka vs Barack Obama
    6) Kyodo/JT: Death penalty obstructs “presumption of innocence” in Japanese justice
    7) Irish Times on Jane v. NPA rape case (she lost, again)
    8 ) Kirk Masden on NJ crime down for three years, yet not discussed in media.

    NOT TAKING IT LYING DOWN
    9) Kyodo: Brazilian workers protest layoffs at J companies
    10) Wash Post on GOJ efforts to get Brazilian workers to stay
    11) Google zaps Debito.org, later unzaps thanks to advice from cyberspace
    12) Southland Times on how New Zealand deals with restaurant exclusions
    13) Question on Welfare Assistance (seikatsu hogo) and privacy rights
    14) UN News on upcoming Durban human rights summit and Gitmo

    … and finally …
    15) Documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES on Japan’s hidden NJ labor market
    Japan Roadshow March 20 – April 1
    Screenings in Tokyo, Tsukuba, Hikone, and Okayama confirmed
    more being arranged in Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Sapporo

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org) in Sapporo, Japan
    Freely forwardable

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    IRONIES
    1) Outrage over Mie-ken teacher criminalizing students thru fingerprinting. Well, fancy that.

    I received word a couple of days ago from James and AS about a schoolteacher in Mie-ken who dealt with a suspected theft by taking everyone’s fingerprints, and threatening to report them to the police. He hoped the bluff would make the culprit would come forward, but instead there’s been outrage. How dare the teachers criminalize the students thusly?

    Hm. Where was that outrage last November 2007, when most NJ were beginning to undergo the same procedure at the border, officially because they could be agents of infectious diseases, foreign crime, and visa overstays? How dare the GOJ and media criminalize NJ residents thusly?

    I’m not saying what the teacher did was right. In fact, I agree that this bluff was inappropriate. It’s just that given the sudden outrage in the media over human rights, we definitely have a lack of “shoe on the other foot” -ism here from time to time.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2186

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    2) The Australian Magazine 1993 on Gregory Clark’s modus operandi in Japan

    At the start of this decade, I republished an article in the JALT PALE Journal (Spring 2001) regarding Gregory Clark, his business acumen regarding language teaching in Japan, and his motivations for being who he is in Japan.

    Gregory Clark has recently called attention to himself with a bigoted Japan Times column, questioning our legitimacy to have or even demand equal rights in Japan. As people debate his qualifications and motives all over again, I think it would be helpful to reproduce the following article in a more searchable and public venue. Like the Debito.org blog.

    I have heard claims that this article in The Australian was met with threat of lawsuit. Obviously that came to naught. Since The Australian has given me direct permission to reproduce this article in full, let me do so once again here. Choice excerpt:

    ========================================
    Greg Clark is the first of nine children sired by Sir Colin Clark, a famous economist and statistician who is credited with measuring and describing concepts in the thirties that are part of everyday economic jargon these days. While working with one of the centuries most influential economists, John Maynard Keynes, at Cambridge University, Colin Clark coined and refined such terms as gross national product, and primary, secondary, and tertiary industry…

    Colin Clark was also the subject of a thesis just after the war by a young Japanese economist called Kiichi Miyazawa, who then rose through the bureaucratic and political ranks to become prime minister, a connection that hasn’t hurt his son since he arrived in Tokyo. Japan’s leading conservative daily, The Yomiuri Shimbun, also listed Clark as an academic contact of the country’s new Prime Minister, Morihiro Hosokawa…

    …[T]he Emeritus Professor of Economics at the ANU, Heinz Arndt, who supervised Clark’s Ph.D at the ANU until his student quit “to my utter disgust” just before he finished, remembers the problem this way. “Drysdale and the whole group were not happy about bringing him into the project, partly because he was in Tokyo, and partly because of differences in approaches and temperament. In other words, he is an extremely difficult person who thinks that anybody who disagrees with him is a complete idiot.”
    ========================================

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2168

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    3) Tsukiji Fish Market reopens, the NJ blame game continues

    Good news in that Tsukiji Fish Market, closed due to “unmannerly foreigners” (according to the Japanese-language press), has reopened to the public with more security (good), with intentions to move to a location more accessible to visitors (good again, in retrospect). The bad news is that the J-media (even NHK) has been playing a monthlong game of “find the unmannerly foreigner” (even when Japanese can be just as unmannerly) and thus portray manners as a function of nationality.

    It’s a soft target: NJ can’t fight back very well in the J-media, and even Stockholm-Syndromed self-hating bigoted NJ will bash foreigners under the flimsiest pretenses, putting it down to a matter of culture if not ill-will. Bunkum and bad science abounds. Japan Times article and a word from cyberspace follows.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2135

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    4) BBS 2-Channel’s Nishimura sells off his golden goose
    (and my upcoming JT column Feb 3 on 2-Channel and Japan’s Bully Culture)

    After years of online threats against me (by people who can neither do research or demonstrate any reading comprehension) for apparently either bankrupting their beloved 2-Channel, or taking it over through lawsuit victory (both untrue, but anonymous Netizen bullies never held truth or fact in high regard), 2-Channel founder and coordinator Nishimura Hiroyuki sold off his golden goose. One which he claimed made him a comfortable living and a safe haven from libel lawsuits.

    No longer. If he ever sets foot in the real world, with a real salary and a real traceable bank account, he’ll never earn money again. There are dozens of people who have an outstanding lien on his assets thanks to court rulings against him. I am among them. He knows that. Let’s see how many steps this abetting polluter of cyberspace can keep ahead of the authorities.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2140

    Moreover, next week Tuesday (Weds outside major metropolitan areas), February 3, my next JUST BE CAUSE column will discuss the 2-Channel pheomenon in relation to Japan’s strong bully culture, and how it is further empowered by the tendency toward anonymity. Get a copy!

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    5) IHT on Buraku Nonaka vs Barack Obama

    What with the Obama Presidency, there is a boom in “change” theory, with press speculation whether a landmark incident that so countermands a society’s history could likewise do the same in other (apparently historically-intransigent) societies. Here’s an article on the NYT/IHT on what happened when a minority in Japan, a member of the Buraku historical underclass, got close to the top job, and what the current blue-blooded leader (Aso) allegedly did to stop it. The article about former Dietmember Nonaka Hiromu ends on a hopeful note, but I’m not so positive.

    Quoting from one of my Japan Times articles, December 18, 2007:
    ========================================
    After the last election, 185 of 480 Diet members (39%) were second- or third- (or more) generation politicians (seshuu seijika). Of 244 members of the LDP (the ruling party for practically all the postwar period), 126 (52%) are seshuu seijika. Likewise eight of the last ten Prime Ministers, andaround half the Abe and Fukuda Cabinets. When the average turnover per election is only around 3%, you have what can only be termed a political class.
    ========================================

    Until the electorate realizes that their legislative body is a peerage masquerading as an elected body, and vote out more technically-inherited seats, “change” in terms of minority voices being heard will be much slower in coming.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2130

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    6) Kyodo/JT: Death penalty obstructs “presumption of innocence” in Japanese justice

    This is not a “NJ issues”-specific post (although issues of criminal justice ultimately affect everybody, except maybe bent cops). But this short article on a presentation, regarding the aftermath of the famous 1948 Teigin Bank Poisoning Incident (where a bank robber posed as a doctor, told everybody that there had been an outbreak of dysentery, and to take medicine that was actually poison; themes of Milgram’s Experiment), calls into question the use of the death penalty not as a preventive deterrent or a form of Hammurabian justice, but as a weapon during interrogation. I have brought up issues of “presumption of guilt” (where the accused has to prove his innocence, despite the Constitution) here before. This too-short article is still good food for thought about the abuses of power, especially if governing life and death. Choice excerpt:

    ========================================
    “The death penalty is a ‘weapon’ for investigators. They could tell suspects, ‘You will be hanged if you do not admit to the charges,’ ” he said.

    As for the Teigin case, more than 30 justice ministers refused to sign the execution order, and Yasuda told the audience of about 50, “They must have had concerns over the possible discovery of the real culprit, but they refused to release Hirasawa to save the ‘honor’ of the legal system.”
    ========================================

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2194

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    7) Irish Times on Jane v. NPA rape case (she lost, again)

    Excerpt:
    ========================================
    Jane is one of hundreds of women assaulted by US military personnel annually around the world, including in Japan, home to over 80 American bases and about 33,000 troops. The military presence is blamed for over 200,000 mostly off-duty crimes since the Japan-America Security Alliance was created in the early 1950s.

    The bulk are petty offences but in one of the most notorious, a 12-year-old schoolgirl was raped and left for dead by three US serviceman on the southern island of Okinawa, reluctant home to nearly three-quarters of all US military facilities in Japan.

    That 1995 crime shook the half-century alliance, sparking huge anti-US rallies and cries of “never again”. Last year a 14-year-old was raped by a US marine, one of several similar assaults against Japanese and Filipino women.

    Protests forced the US military to set up recently a “sexual assault prevention unit”. Opponents say, however, that the incidents are an inevitable consequence of transplanting young and often traumatised trained killers into a local population they neither know nor respect.

    Tensions between locals and the military are exacerbated by extraterritorial rights enjoyed by US personnel under the Status of Forces Agreement, which often allows them to avoid arrest for minor and sometimes even serious crimes. The agreement was reinforced by a recently uncovered deal between Washington and Tokyo to waive secretly jurisdiction against US soldiers in all but the most serious crimes, according to researcher Shoji Niihara.
    ========================================

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2164

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    8) Kirk Masden on NJ crime down for three years, yet not discussed in media.

    The NPA has released crime stats for NJ, and foreign crime is down again. For the third year in a row. Despite the unwavering increase in NJ population. But you wouldn’t know it by reading the media. You would have, however, if NJ crime had gone up, as past media campaigns have bent over backwards to report. So now we’ve got the media instead bending over backwards to bash NJ for being “unmannerly” and spoiling it for everyone. Who’s spoiling what for whom?, I daresay. Kirk Masden comments with a scan of the crime stat chart in this blog entry.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2132

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    NOT TAKING IT LYING DOWN
    9) Kyodo: Brazilian workers protest layoffs at J companies

    I’m glad the media is picking this up. People who have been here for decades are being laid off. And instead of getting the representation that shuntou regularly entitles regular Japanese workers, they’re resorting to the only thing they have left (save repatriation): Taking it to the streets.

    A reliable source told me yesterday that he expects “around 40%” of Brazilian workers to return to Brazil. They shouldn’t have to: They’ve paid their dues, they’ve paid their taxes, and some will be robbed of their pensions. They (among other workers) have saved Japanese industries, keeping input costs internationally competitive. Yet they’re among the first to go. A phenomenon not unique to Japan, but their perpetual temp status (and apparent non-inclusion in “real” unemployment stats, according to some media) is something decryable. Glad they themselves are decrying it and the media is listening.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2134

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    10) Wash Post on GOJ efforts to get Brazilian workers to stay

    Excerpt:
    ========================================
    “Our goal is to get [NJ workers] to stay,” said Masahiko Ozeki, who is in charge of an interdepartmental office that was established this month in the cabinet of Prime Minister Taro Aso. “As a government, we have not done anything like this before.”

    Japanese-language courses, vocational training programs and job counseling are being put together, Ozeki said, so immigrants can find work throughout the Japanese economy. There is a shortage of workers here, especially in health care and other services for the elderly.

    So far, government funding for these emerging programs is limited slightly more than $2 million, far less than will be needed to assist the tens of thousands of foreign workers who are losing jobs and thinking about giving up on Japan. But Ozeki said the prime minister will soon ask parliament for considerably more money exactly how much is still being figured out as part of a major economic stimulus package to be voted on early this year.

    The government’s effort to keep jobless foreigners from leaving the country is “revolutionary,” according to Hidenori Sakanaka, former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau and now director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, a research group in Tokyo.

    “Japan has a long history of rejecting foreign residents who try to settle here,” he said. “Normally, the response of the government would have been to encourage these jobless people to just go home. I wouldn’t say that Japan as a country has shifted its gears to being an immigrant country, but when we look back on the history of this country, we may see that this was a turning point.”
    ========================================

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2154

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    11) Google zaps Debito.org, later unzaps thanks to advice from cyberspace

    Tangent: Google notified me earlier in January that they would be delisting Debito.org from its search engines for cloaked text inserted on our site. Yet Google wouldn’t reveal on what page it’s on so we could fix the problem. We couldn’t find it. So we were stuck with an unfair delisting and that was that. This oddly-enforced policy may affect other websites and blogs as well.

    Fortunately, helpful advice from people in cyberspace put us back on the list. Have a gander on how things were resolved just in case it happens to you.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2129

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    12) Southland Times on how New Zealand deals with restaurant exclusions

    As another template about “what to do if…” (or rather, a model for what the GOJ should be more proactive about) when you get a restaurant refusing customers on the basis of race, ethnicity, national background, etc., here’s an article on what would happen in New Zealand. Here’s a Human Rights Commission and a media that actually does some follow-up, unlike the Japanese example. Then again, I guess Old Bigoted Gregory would rail against this as some sort of violation of locals’ “rights to discriminate”. Or that it isn’t Japan, therefore not special enough to warrant exceptionalism. But I beg to disagree, and point to this as an example of how to handle this sort of situation.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2127

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    13) Question on Welfare Assistance (seikatsu hogo) and privacy rights

    Got a question from TtoT at The Community that deserves answering. In these days of mass layoffs and people on unemployment insurance, apparently the welfare offices are able to call up relatives and check to see if applicants really are financially as badly off as they say. As the poster points out below, there are privacy issues involved. Anyone know more about this? If so, comments section. Thanks.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2160

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    14) UN News on upcoming Durban human rights summit and Gitmo

    Two posts from UN NEWS that are tangental but within the pale of Debito.org.

    First up is news about the next big human rights summit in Durban, South Africa. The last one was at the beginning of this decade. Those interested in attending (I would, but again, no money) might want to start making plans.

    Second, I was asked recently by a friend, “What do you want to see Obama do immediately after taking office?” I answered back with a question, “You mean personally, or big-picture?” Both. “Okay, personally, state publicly that the USA will not support any application by Japan to the UN Security Council until it honors its treaty promises, including passing an enforceable law against racial discrimination.” But that’s easily backburnerable. “But big-picture, I want to see Obama close Guantanamo, that running sore of human-rights abuses that is arguably doing more to encourage anti-American sentiment worldwide than anything else.”

    Well, the big-picture was precisely what Obama took steps to do his first working day in office. Bravo. And the UN recognizes it as such.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2143

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    … and finally …

    15) Documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES on Japan’s hidden NJ labor market
    Japan Roadshow March 20 – April 1
    Screenings in Tokyo, Tsukuba, Hikone, and Okayama confirmed
    more being arranged in Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Sapporo

    A documentary on “Japan’s Hidden Workers” and human rights, with Debito appearing as tour guide to exclusionary signs in Kabukichou, Tokyo. Directed by Tilman Koenig and Daniel Kremers of Leipzig. Preview of the movie here. Due for showings in Japan in March 2009, so please notify Debito if you’d like him to stop by your area between March 20 and April 1. Promotional PDF of the movie with stills of scenes all available at

    http://www.debito.org/?page_id=1672

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Thanks for reading!
    Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 1, 2009 ENDS

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    Wash Post on GOJ efforts to get Brazilian workers to stay

    Posted on Monday, January 26th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

    Hi Blog. Long article last week about an apparent turning point in GOJ policy to try to train NJ workers to stay. Good. The only cloud I can find in this silver lining is why so much concentration on Brazilian workers? There are Peruvians, Chinese, Filipinas/Filipinos and other nationalities here that deserve some assistance too.

    Did the reporter just stick to his contacts in the Brazilian communities, or is the program only directed towards the blood-tie Nikkei because they’re “Japanese” in policymaker eyes (not a stretch; that was the reason why Keidanren pushed for establishing their special “returnee visa” status)? If the latter, then we have Nikkei Peruvians that needed to be covered in this article too. Sorry, nice try, but this report feels incomplete. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

    Japan Works Hard to Help Immigrants Find Jobs
    Population-Loss Fears Prompt New Stance
    By Blaine Harden
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Friday, January 23, 2009; A01

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/22/AR2009012204150.html

    UEDA, Japan — The last thing that aging Japan can afford to lose is young people. Yet as the global economic crisis flattens demand for Japanese cars and electronic goods, thousands of youthful, foreign-born factory workers are getting fired, pulling their children out of school and flying back to where they came from.

    Paulino and Lidiane Onuma have sold their car and bought plane tickets for Sao Paulo, Brazil. They are going back next month with their two young daughters, both of whom were born here in this factory town. His job making heavy machinery for automobile plants ends next week. She lost her job making box lunches with black beans and spicy rice for the city’s Brazilian-born workers, most of whom have also been dismissed and are deciding whether to leave Japan.

    “We have no desire to go home,” said Paulino Onuma, 29, who has lived here for 12 years and earned about $50,000 a year, far more than he says he could make in Brazil. “We are only going back because of the situation.”

    That situation — the extreme exposure of immigrant families to job loss and their sudden abandonment of Japan — has alarmed the government in Tokyo and pushed it to create programs that would make it easier for jobless immigrants to remain here in a country that has traditionally been wary of foreigners, especially those without work.

    “Our goal is to get them to stay,” said Masahiko Ozeki, who is in charge of an interdepartmental office that was established this month in the cabinet of Prime Minister Taro Aso. “As a government, we have not done anything like this before.”

    Japanese-language courses, vocational training programs and job counseling are being put together, Ozeki said, so immigrants can find work throughout the Japanese economy. There is a shortage of workers here, especially in health care and other services for the elderly.

    So far, government funding for these emerging programs is limited — slightly more than $2 million, far less than will be needed to assist the tens of thousands of foreign workers who are losing jobs and thinking about giving up on Japan. But Ozeki said the prime minister will soon ask parliament for considerably more money — exactly how much is still being figured out — as part of a major economic stimulus package to be voted on early this year.

    The government’s effort to keep jobless foreigners from leaving the country is “revolutionary,” according to Hidenori Sakanaka, former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau and now director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, a research group in Tokyo.

    “Japan has a long history of rejecting foreign residents who try to settle here,” he said. “Normally, the response of the government would have been to encourage these jobless people to just go home. I wouldn’t say that Japan as a country has shifted its gears to being an immigrant country, but when we look back on the history of this country, we may see that this was a turning point.”

    Sakanaka said the government’s decision will send a much-needed signal to prospective immigrants around the world that, if they choose to come to Japan to work, they will be treated with consideration, even in hard economic times.

    There is a growing sense among Japanese politicians and business leaders that large-scale immigration may be the only way to head off a demographic calamity that seems likely to cripple the world’s second-largest economy.

    No country has ever had fewer children or more elderly as a percentage of its total population. The number of children has fallen for 27 consecutive years. A record 22 percent of the population is older than 65, compared with about 12 percent in the United States. If those trends continue, in 50 years, the population of 127 million will have shrunk by a third; in a century, by two-thirds.

    Japan will have two retirees for every three workers by 2060, a burden that could bankrupt pension and health-care systems.

    Demographers have been noisily fretting about those numbers for years, but only in the past year have they grabbed the attention of important parts of this country’s power structure.

    A group of 80 politicians in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said last summer that Japan needs to welcome 10 million immigrants over the next 50 years. It said the goal of government policy should not be just to “get” immigrants, but to “nurture” them and their families with language and vocational training, and to encourage them to become naturalized citizens of Japan.

    The country’s largest business federation, the traditionally conservative Nippon Keidanren, said in the fall that “we cannot wait any longer to aggressively welcome necessary personnel.” It pointed to U.N. calculations that Japan will need 17 million foreigners by 2050 to maintain the population it had in 2005.

    Among highly developed countries, Japan has always ranked near the bottom in the percentage of foreign-born residents. Just 1.7 percent are foreign-born here, compared with about 12 percent in the United States.

    The Japanese public remains deeply suspicious of immigrants. In an interview last year, then-Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda suggested that the prospect of large-scale immigration was politically toxic.

    “There are people who say that if we accept more immigrants, crime will increase,” Fukuda said. “Any sudden increase in immigrants causing social chaos [and] social unrest is a result that we must avoid by all means.”

    Here in Ueda, a city of about 125,000 people in the Nagano region, a recent survey found that residents worried that the city’s 5,000 immigrants were responsible for crime and noise pollution.

    “The feeling of the city is that if foreigners have lost their jobs, then they should leave the country,” said Kooji Horinouti, a Brazilian immigrant of Japanese descent who works for the Bank of Brazil here and heads a local immigrant group.

    It is not just the residents of Ueda. The Japanese government, until this month, had done little to train foreign-born workers in the country’s language or to introduce them to life outside the factory towns where most of them work, according to Sakanaka, the immigration expert.

    By contrast, the German government in recent years has offered up to 900 hours of subsidized language training to immigrants, along with other programs designed to integrate them into German society.

    Japan had moved much, much more slowly.

    It changed its highly restrictive immigration laws in 1990 to make it relatively easy for foreigners of Japanese descent to live here and work. The change generated the greatest response from Brazil, which has the world’s largest population of immigrant Japanese and their descendants.

    About 500,000 Brazilian workers and their families — who have Japanese forebears but often speak only Portuguese — have moved to Japan in the past two decades.

    They have lived, however, in relatively isolated communities, clustered near factories. Because the government hired few Portuguese-speaking teachers for nearby public schools, many Brazilians enrolled their children in private Portuguese-language schools. With the mass firings of Brazilian workers in recent months, many of those schools have closed.

    Paulino and Lidiane Onuma sent their 6-year-old daughter, Juliana, to the Novo Damasco school here in Ueda, where she has not learned to speak Japanese.

    Her parents, too, speak and read little Japanese, although they moved to Japan as teenagers. There has been no government-sponsored program to teach them the language or how to negotiate life outside their jobs.

    “Japan is finally realizing that it does not have a system for receiving and instructing non-Japanese speakers,” said Sakanaka, the immigration policy expert. “It is late, of course, but still, it is important that the government has come to see this is a problem.”

    Had they known there would be language and job-training programs in Ueda, the Onuma family might not have sold their car and bought those tickets for Sao Paulo.

    “If those programs existed now,” Lidiane Onuma said, “I might have made a different choice.”

    Special correspondent Akiko Yamamoto contributed to this report.

    ENDS

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    Posted in Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 3 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 16, 2009

    Posted on Saturday, January 17th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

    Hi All. It’s been a month (happy new year!), so here comes a fat one:

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 16, 2009
    Table of Contents:

    =========================================================
    BAD SCIENCE
    1) Gregory Clark argues in Japan Times that “Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people”
    2) Japan Times Zeit Gist followup on Dec’s Otaru Onsen lawsuit analysis
    3) Sankei: A manual to help NJ “illegal overstays” evade police
    4) Kyodo: Special unemployment office being studied, only for “NJ workers with PR”
    5) AP/Guardian on Japan’s steepest population fall yet, excludes NJ from tally
    6) Kyodo: NJ to be registered as family members (residents?) by 2012
    7) AFP and Yomiuri: How to get around J border fingerprinting: Tape!
    8 ) Tokyo High Court overrules lower court regarding murder of Lucie Blackman:
    Obara Joji now guilty of “dismemberment and abandonment of a body”

    BAD BUSINESS
    9) German documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES preview, with Debito interview
    10) Japan Times on NJ workers: No money for food or return flight
    11) Japan Times on future J housing markets, tax regimes, and why J houses are built so crappily

    MULTICULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS
    12) Excellent Japan Times roundup on debate on J Nationality Law and proposed dual citizenship
    13) Another excellent JT article on dual nationality and the conflicts within
    14) Japan Times on international trends towards allowing citizens to become multinational
    15) Economist on Japanese immigration and conservatism giving way
    16) All registered NJ will in fact now get the 12,000 “economic stimulus” bribe
    17) Japan Times Zeit Gist on Chinese/Japanese bilingual education in Japan

    HOLIDAY TANGENTS
    18 ) Xmas List: Ten things I think Japan does best
    19) Retrospective: 10 things that made me think in 2008
    20) Humor: Cracked Mag Online on unappetizing restaurants
    21) Humor: Robin Williams stand-up comedy on Obama’s election
    22) Humor: “Beware of the Doghouse”: For you men with thoughtless holiday gifts
    23) History tangent: Japan Times FYI on Hokkaido development

    … and finally…
    24) Interview with Debito on TkyoSam’s Vlog: Shizzle!

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

    By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org Daily Blog updates at http://www.debito.org
    Freely Forwardable

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    BAD SCIENCE

    1) Gregory Clark argues in Japan Times that “Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people”

    Y’know, life is never boring. Here’s yet another piece about the Otaru Onsens Case that came out in yesterday’s Japan Times. This time from that person with a very questionable record of dealing with the facts, Gregory Clark.

    Clark provides no surprises as he rides his “bathhouse fanatics” hobby horse once again, and gets (as he has since 1999) the same old facts wrong. Actually, he gets even more facts wrong this time: Despite calling himself “closely involved” in the case, he gets the very name of the exclusionary onsen wrong. He even forgets once again (after repeated past public corrections that were even printed in the Japan Times) that there was more than one plaintiff in the successful lawsuit.

    The rest is self-hating anti-gaijin invective with errors and illogic galore. If the Japan Times isn’t bothering with fact checks anymore, they should just put this bigoted old fool out to pasture. Clark is not worth the trouble to print or debate with anymore.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2128

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    2) Japan Times Zeit Gist followup on Dec’s Otaru Onsen lawsuit analysis

    Last month the Japan Times put a cat amongst the pigeons last December with a Zeit Gist column about the Otaru Onsens Case, decrying the court ruling against racial discrimination as undermining Japanese society.

    It caused quite a stir, according to my editor, with most of the comments coming in critical of the thesis. Some of the responses were worth a reprint as a follow-up column, and that came out last week. Have a read. And yes, I briefly responded too (although only on this site as a comment), which I paste at the very bottom. Choice excerpt from the published rebuttal:

    “De Vries’ primary objection to the Arudou judgment is that “the case was fought and won on the issue of racial discrimination when the policy being employed by the Yunohana onsen could more accurately be described as the racial application of ‘group accountability.’ “

    “Racial application of group accountability” sounds so much nicer than boring old “racial discrimination,” doesn’t it? The question is whether there really is any difference between the two. Sadly, De Vries offers no logical reasons why we should see his preferred version of these two (identical) concepts as being anything other than a new name for the same old discredited idea. To deny access to public facilities to an innocent individual because of the color of their skin is simply wrong, regardless of who is doing it or what their motives are.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2122

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    3) Sankei: manual to help NJ “illegal overstays” evade police

    Mark in Yayoi translates yet another inflammatory article from the Sankei Shinbun, warning police that even overfriendly foreigners may be suspicious, thanks to some mail-in underground manual on how to evade police ID Checkpoints:

    “We’ll teach you how to get away when the police stop you on the street!” This is the catch copy for a manual that is now circulating, instructing illegal aliens on how to escape from police questioning. Supposedly it was sold through newspapers and free magazines aimed at Chinese and Koreans in Japan. Organized Crime Bureau No. 1 of the National Police Agency has obtained this manual, and is sending warnings to each police station. The police are strengthening their vigilance as these newspapers, carrying illegal advertisements, are becoming breeding grounds for crime [hanzai no onshou]

    “Here is another interesting technique. File a ‘lost item report’ at all the police boxes in the area. Then, on the same day, go to one of them and get the report erased, saying that ‘the person who found my wallet got in touch with me’. In the evening, when you pass that police box, greet them [aisatsu] yourself and say ‘my wallet has been returned’. By saying hello to them three times a day, they’ll think of you as one of the area’s ‘polite foreigners [reigi tadashii gaikokujin da na]‘, and you’ll be able to walk by without fear.”

    The Bureau has circulated an internal memo to police stations warning that illegal aliens are using these methods to escape detection, and have advised the police to take care in questioning people [shokumu shitsumon jou no chuui o yobikaketa]. There is no applicable law, however, making sale of this manual a crime.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2126

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    4) Kyodo: Special unemployment office being studied for NJ workers with PR

    Here’s some very mixed news. The GOJ will study how to offer help unemployed NJ to make sure inter alia their kids stay in school. Thanks, but then it limits the scope to Permanent Residents. Probably a lot more of the NJ getting fired are factory workers here on visas (Trainee, Researcher, etc) that give the employer the means to pay them poorly and fire them at will already. So why not help them? Oh, they and their kids don’t count the same, I guess. Considering how hard and arbitrary it can be to get PR in the first place, this is hardly fair. Expand the study group to help anyone with a valid visa.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2124

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    5) AP/Guardian on Japan’s steepest population fall yet, excludes NJ from tally

    Here’s a bit of a sloppy article from the AP that the Guardian republished without much of a fact-checking (don’t understand the relevance of the throwaway sentence at the end about J fathers and paternity). Worse yet, it seems the AP has just accepted the GOJ’s assessment of “population” as “births minus deaths” without analysis. Meaning the population is just denoted as Japanese citizens (unless you include of course babies born to NJ-NJ couples, but they don’t get juuminhyou anyway and aren’t included in local govt. tallies of population either).

    Er, how about including net inflows of NJ from overseas (which have been positive for more than four decades)? Or of naturalized citizens, which the Yomiuri reported some months ago contributed to an actual rise in population? Sloppy, unreflective, and inaccurate assessments of the taxpayer base.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2117

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    6) Kyodo: NJ to be registered as family members (residents?) by 2012

    Good news if this actually comes to fruition: The ludicrous system of registering NJ separately from J in residency certificates (juuminhyou) may be coming to an end. According a Kyodo article (that is too deficient in detail — Japan Times, do another article in depth, please!), we’ll start seeing NJ registered with their families in three years. And hopefully as real, bonafide residents too (even though this is still not clear thanks to Kyodo blurbing). At least we’ll see the end of the ridiculous gaikokujin touroku zumi shoumeisho and the invisible NJ husbands and wives.

    More on why the current registry situation is problematic here, including not being included in official local government tallies of population.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2101

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

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

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

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

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2115

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    8 ) Tokyo High Court overrules lower court regarding murder of Lucie Blackman:
    Obara Joji now guilty of “dismemberment and abandonment of a body”

    Serial rapist and sexual predator Obara Joji on December 16 had his “innocent on the grounds of lack of evidence” lower court decision overturned by the Tokyo High Court, with Lucie Blackman’s rape and murder now added to his long list of crimes against women. A hair was split between actual murder and just doing nasty things to her corpse, but for people outraged about the rather odd consideration of evidence in this case (which I in the past have indicated might have something to do with a J crime against a NJ, as opposed to the opposite), this is a victory of sorts. Given that Obara got away with a heckuva lot before he was finally nailed (including some pretty hapless police investigation), I wonder if the outcome of his cases will be much of a deterrent to other sociopathic predators out there. Anyway, this verdict is better than upholding the previous one, of course. Two articles at:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2098

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    BAD BUSINESS

    9) German documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES preview, with Debito interview

    SOUR STRAWBERRIES, a German-Japanese documentary about Japan’s labor migration and human rights, came out in Germany in September. I’m thrilled to report that segments they filmed of me exposing Kabukichou JAPANESE ONLY signs (and in the full movie, the oddities of one of the exclusionary business owners) made the coming-attractions reel. You can see it at:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2108

    The movie will be coming to Japan in March, more later on Debito.org.

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    10) Japan Times on NJ workers: No money for food or return flight

    Japan Times: With the global economic downturn, many Japanese workers face a not very Merry Christmas or Happy New Year as they lose their jobs or see wages or hours cut.

    But the bad economy is hitting the country’s foreign workers particularly hard, with nongovernmental organization volunteers warning that many who have been laid off face not only losing their homes and access to education in their mother tongue, but also that emergency food rations are now being distributed to the most desperate cases.

    “Of the nearly 300 people who attend my church, between 30 and 40 of them have already lost their jobs, and I expect more will soon be laid off as companies choose not to renew their contracts. Many of those who have lost their jobs have no place to live or get through the winter,” said Laelso Santos, pastor at a church in Karia, Aichi Prefecture, and the head of Maos Amigas, an NGO assisting foreign workers and their families.

    “We’re currently distributing about 300 kg of food per month to foreigners nationwide who are out of work. I’m afraid the amount of food aid needed will increase as the number of out-of-work foreigners increases,” Santos said.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2118

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    11) Japan Times on future J housing markets, tax regimes, and why J houses are built so crappily

    Here’s another excellent article from Philip Brasor of the Japan Times, regarding future Japan housing markets and taxation laws (and why houses in Japan aren’t built to last, or be resaleable). Should cause a twinge or two in the homeowners out there, myself included.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2111

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    MULTICULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS

    12) Excellent Japan Times roundup on debate on J Nationality Law and proposed dual citizenship

    Here’s an excellent Japan Times roundup of the debate which came out of nowhere last year regarding Japan’s loopy nationality laws, which were once based on what I would call a “culture of no”, as in rather arbitrary ways to disqualify people (as in babies not getting J citizenship if the J father didn’t recognize patrimony before birth).

    A Supreme Court decision last year called that unconstitutional, and forced rare legislation from the bench to rectify that late in 2008. Now the scope of inclusivity has widened as Dietmember Kouno Taro (drawing on the shock of a former Japanese citizen getting a Nobel Prize, and a confused Japanese media trying to claim him as ours) advocates allowing Japanese to hold more than one citizenship. Bravo. About time.

    The article below sets out the goalposts for this year regarding this proposal (and uses arguments that have appeared on Debito.org for years now). In a year when there will apparently be a record-number of candidates running in the general election (which MUST happen this year, despite PM Aso’s best efforts to keep leadership for himself), there is a good possibility it might come to pass, especially if the opposition DPJ party actually takes power.

    2009 looks to be an interesting year indeed, as one more cornerstone of legal exclusionism in Japan looks set to crack.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2116

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    13) Another excellent JT article on dual nationality and the conflicts within

    Here’s another article from the toshiake excellent series in the Japan Times on Japan’s loopy nationality laws: This time talking about what some people who are the projects of J-NJ unions in Japan face in terms of legality and societal treatment. It raises the question we’ve been asking here on Debito.org for more than a decade now: Why do we have to force these people to give up part of themselves to be Japanese? What good does it do them, and how does it serve the interests of the State to put people through this identity ordeal? Enough already. Allow dual nationality and be sensible. You’ll get more Nobel Prizes. Choice excerpt:

    “The number of international marriages in Japan has steadily increased over the years, peaking in 2006 at 44,701, accounting for 6.5 percent of all marriages that year according to health ministry statistics. The number of children born with multiple nationalities is believed to have been increasing accordingly, with unofficial government estimates predicting that there were 530,000 as of 2006.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2123

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    14) Japan Times on international trends towards allowing citizens to become multinational

    Excerpt: As of 2000, around 90 countries and territories permitted dual citizenship either fully or with exceptional permission, according to the “Backgrounder,” published by the Center for Immigration Studies in the United States, and “Citizenship Laws of the World” by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

    Since the reports came out, several countries have lifted bans on dual nationality. As a consequence, there are more than 90 countries backing dual nationality by default today.

    “The trend is dramatic and nearly unidirectional. A clear majority of countries now accepts dual citizenship,” said Peter Spiro, an expert on multi nationality issues at Temple University Beasley School of Law. “Plural citizenship has quietly become a defining feature of globalization.”

    The change in jus sanguinis countries first grew prominent in European countries, followed by some South American and Asian states, largely as a result of economic globalization and the expansion in people’s mobility over the past few decades.

    Europe’s general acceptance of dual nationality is stated in the 1997 European Convention on Nationality, which stipulates that while member states can define their own citizens, they must at least allow children of international marriages and immigrants to hold dual nationality.

    This was a major shift from traditional attitudes in the region, stated in a 1963 convention that supported the single nationality principle.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2125

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    15) Economist on Japanese immigration and conservatism giving way

    Here’s another roundup, this time from The Economist on how conservatives just don’t have the answers regarding Japan’s future anymore (with their wan and waning hope that immigration can somehow be avoided). Good also that this article is coming from The Economist, as it has over the past eighteen months done mediocre stuff on Japan’s future demographics without mentioning immigration at all. And when it later mentioned NJ labor in follow-up writings, it merely inserted one token sentence reflecting the Japan conservatives’ viewpoint. It seems even the conservatism within my favorite newsmagazine is also giving ground. Bravo.

    Excerpt: “The answer is self-evident, but conservatives rarely debate it. Their notion of a strong Japan — i.e, a populous, vibrant country — is feasible only with many more immigrants than the current 2.2m, or just 1.7% of the population. (This includes 400,000 second- or third-generation Koreans who have chosen to keep Korean nationality but who are Japanese in nearly every respect.) The number of immigrants has grown by half in the past decade, but the proportion is still well below any other big rich country. Further, immigrants enter only as short-term residents; permanent residency is normally granted only after ten years of best behaviour…

    “For the first time, however, an 80-strong group of economically liberal politicians in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), led by Hidenao Nakagawa, a former LDP secretary-general, is promoting a bold immigration policy. It calls for the number of foreigners to rise to 10m over the next half century, and for many of these immigrants to become naturalised Japanese. It wants the number of foreign students in Japan, currently 132,000, to rise to 1m. And it calls for whole families to be admitted, not just foreign workers as often at present.

    “The plan’s author, Hidenori Sakanaka, a former Tokyo immigration chief and now head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, envisages a multicultural Japan in which, he says, reverence for the imperial family is an option rather than a defining trait of Japaneseness. It’s a fine proposal, but not very likely to fly in the current political climate, especially at a time when the opposition Democratic Party of Japan is fretting about the impact of immigration on pay for Japanese workers.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2120

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    16) All registered NJ will in fact now get the 12,000 “economic stimulus” bribe

    After dallying with thoughts of excluding NJ taxpayers, then allowing only those NJ with Permanent Residency and Japanese spouses, the GOJ has just announced that all registered NJ will get the 12,000 yen-plus economic stimulus bribe. Seasons Greetings.

    This is probably the first time NJ have ever been treated equally positively with citizens (save for, perhaps, access to Hello Work unemployment agency) with a voter stimulus package. See, it pays to complain.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2104

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    17) Japan Times Zeit Gist on Chinese/Japanese bilingual education in Japan

    A rupo in the Japan Times Community Page from a member of the Chinese Diaspora in Japan, on the Chinese Diaspora in Japan. And how some are being educated to believe that they are bicultural, bilingual, and binational. Good.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2110

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    HOLIDAY TANGENTS:

    18) Xmas List: Ten things Japan does best

    Here’s something I posted on Christmas Day as a present to readers: The top ten things I think Japan does better than just about everyone else.

    I include Toilet Culture, Calligraphy Goods, Packaging, Anime, Public Transportation, and several others I’m not going to list up here ‘cos I think you might enjoy reading the essay straight through (yes, I’ve put in a couple of rather surprising topics).

    This is an antidote to those people convinced I don’t like Japan.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2099

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    19) Retrospective: 10 things that made me think in 2008

    I opened 2009 with my annual essay noting ten things that caused me to think quite a bit last year. Some things I partook in (books and media and whatnot) might also be interesting for you to delve into as well. For what they’re worth, and in no particular order: Iijima Ai’s death, 2008 Cycletrek, FRANCA, Toyoko G8 Summit, California Trip 2008, ENRON and SICKO movies, two Francis Wheen books, my Japan Times column, Ken Burns THE WAR, and HANDBOOK for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2114

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    20) Humor: Cracked Mag Online on unappetizing restaurants

    More humor for a national holiday: Some restaurants (according to Cracked Magazine, which I thought was a poor second cousin to Mad Magazine, until I started reading the cutting online version) that defeat their purpose by offering food in very unappetizing ways.

    Now I don’t believe for a second that there is a place in Roppongi that allows you to diddle your meal before you eat it (in fact, I found this Cracked site due to a trackback to Debito.org exposing the source as the deep-sixed Mainichi Waiwai). But it’s still a good read, and I love the (what seems to be verified) idea of airborne meals even if it’s a hoax.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2107

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    21) Humor: Robin Williams stand-up comedy on Obama’s election

    More festivities for the end of days. Here’s a very funny stand-up piece by Robin Williams (introduced by an oddly wheelchair-bound former Minister of Silly Walks) regarding Obama’s election and the outgoing Bush Administration. Courtesy again of Dave Spector. Enjoy.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2106

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    22) Humor: “Beware of the Doghouse”: For you men with thoughtless holiday gifts

    A festive humor entry, particularly for hetero men readers out there: A link to the “Beware of the Doghouse” website, something well worth looking at because it’s a smart, funny, and well-produced five-minute mini-movie about men who don’t think deeply enough about what sorts of gifts to give their wife/female partner. See if you can find out what company created it…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2103

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    23) History tangent: Japan Times FYI on Hokkaido development

    A nice concise history of Hokkaido from the Japan Times. Fills in quite a few blanks about how and why we up in Japan’s Great White North got here in the first place.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2093

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    … and finally…

    24) Interview with Debito on TkyoSam’s Vlog: Shizzle!

    Recently I sat down with Sam (a prolific vlogger, or video blogger), who turned his passport-sized camera on me for a bit of the young lingo and beer and chicken basket. What you don’t see is how afterwards we repaired with a group of friends for a lot more beers and some fascinating conversation with a drunk that Sam handled admirably. Sam grew up on manga and anime, and talks like those characters fluently (which is perfect for reducing any other pop-culture-immersed J-drunk into titters and tears). Yoyoyo, word! Feel the generation gap of the Bubble-Era-Older-Hand meets J-Pop Awsum Dude. Shizzle! And it’s a fun interview too.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=2119

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    That’s quite enough for one Newsletter. Thanks for reading!

    Arudou Debito
    Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, Daily Blog updates at http://www.debito.org
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 16, 2009 ENDS

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    Economist on Japanese immigration and conservatism giving way

    Posted on Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

    Hi Blog.  Here’s a roundup from The Economist on how conservatives just don’t have the answers regarding Japan’s future anymore (with their wan and waning hope that immigration can somehow be avoided).  Good also that this article is coming from The Economist, as it has over the past eighteen months done mediocre stuff on Japan’s future demographics without mentioning immigration at all.  And when it later mentioned NJ labor in follow-up writings, it merely inserted one token sentence reflecting the Japan conservatives’ viewpoint.  It seems even the conservatism within my favorite newsmagazine is also giving ground.  Bravo.  Arudou Debito

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

    Japanese immigration 

    Don’t bring me your huddled masses 

    Dec 30th 2008 | NISHI-KOIZUMI 
    From The Economist print edition, courtesy of AM

    http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12867328

    Not what the conservatives want, yet some people are beginning to imagine a more mixed Japan

     

    INFLAMMATORY remarks by Japan’s speak-from-the-hip conservative politicians—among them the prime minister for now, Taro Aso—embroil them in endless controversy with neighbours over Japan’s wartime past. In their defence, conservatives often say that what really concerns them is the future, in which they want Japan to punch its weight in the world. The question is, what weight? Japan’s population, currently 127m and falling, is set to shrink by a third over the next 50 years. The working-age population is falling at a faster rate; the huge baby-boom generation born between 1947 and 1949, the shock troops of Japan’s economic miracle, are now retiring, leaving fewer workers to support a growing proportion of elderly.

    Conservatives have few answers. They call for incentives to keep women at home to breed (though poor career prospects for mothers are a big factor behind a precipitous fall in the fertility rate). Robot workers offer more hope to some: two-fifths of all the world’s industrial robots are in Japan. They have the advantage of being neither foreign nor delinquent, words which in Japan trip together off the tongue. Yet robots can do only so much.

    The answer is self-evident, but conservatives rarely debate it. Their notion of a strong Japan—ie, a populous, vibrant country—is feasible only with many more immigrants than the current 2.2m, or just 1.7% of the population. (This includes 400,000 second- or third-generation Koreans who have chosen to keep Korean nationality but who are Japanese in nearly every respect.) The number of immigrants has grown by half in the past decade, but the proportion is still well below any other big rich country. Further, immigrants enter only as short-term residents; permanent residency is normally granted only after ten years of best behaviour.

    Politicians and the media invoke the certainty of social instability should the number of foreigners rise. The justice ministry attributes high rates of serious crime to foreigners—though, when pressed, admits these are committed by illegal immigrants rather than legal ones. Newspaper editorials often give warning of the difficulties of assimilation.

    For the first time, however, an 80-strong group of economically liberal politicians in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), led by Hidenao Nakagawa, a former LDP secretary-general, is promoting a bold immigration policy. It calls for the number of foreigners to rise to 10m over the next half century, and for many of these immigrants to become naturalised Japanese. It wants the number of foreign students in Japan, currently 132,000, to rise to 1m. And it calls for whole families to be admitted, not just foreign workers as often at present.

    The plan’s author, Hidenori Sakanaka, a former Tokyo immigration chief and now head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, envisages a multicultural Japan in which, he says, reverence for the imperial family is an option rather than a defining trait of Japaneseness. It’s a fine proposal, but not very likely to fly in the current political climate, especially at a time when the opposition Democratic Party of Japan is fretting about the impact of immigration on pay for Japanese workers.

    Still, a declining workforce is changing once-fixed views. Small- and medium-sized companies were the first, during the late 1980s, to call for more immigrant workers as a way to remain competitive. The country recruited Brazilians and Peruvians of Japanese descent to work in the industrial clusters around Tokyo and Nagoya in Aichi prefecture that serve the country’s giant carmakers and electronics firms.

    Now the Keidanren, the association of big, dyed-in-the-wool manufacturers, is shifting its position. This autumn it called for a more active immigration policy to bring in highly skilled foreign workers, whose present number the Keidanren puts at a mere 180,000.

    It also called for a revamp of Japan’s three-year training programmes, a big source of foreign workers. These are supposed to involve a year’s training and then two years’ on-the-job experience. In practice, they provide cheap labour (mainly from Asia) for the garment industry, farming and fish-processing. Workers, says Tsuyoshi Hirabayashi of the justice ministry, are often abused by employers demanding long hours and paying much less than the legal minimum wage. Meanwhile, foreigners coming to the end of the scheme often leave the country to return illegally. Mr Sakanaka calls for the training programme to be abolished.

    Japanese conservatives, and many others, point to the South Americans of Japanese descent as a failed experiment. Even with Japanese names, they say, the incomers still stand out. Yet in Nishi-Koizumi in Gunma prefecture, just north of Tokyo, a town dominated by a Sanyo electronics plant, the picture is different. In the family-owned factory of Kazuya Sakamoto, which for decades has supplied parts to Sanyo, three-fifths of the 300 workers are foreigners, mainly Japanese-Brazilians.

    The town is certainly down at heel by comparison with the nearby capital, though it has a mildly exotic flavour in other respects, including five tattoo parlours on the main street. Yet without foreigners, says Mr Sakamoto, it is very hard to imagine there would be a town—or his family company—at all. His father was the first to recruit foreigners, and the town changed the hospitals and the local schools to suit: there are special classes in Portuguese to bring overseas children up to speed in some subjects. The result, says Mr Sakamoto, is that foreign workers send word home about the opportunities, and other good workers follow. In future, he thinks, the country should be much more welcoming to young people from around Asia.

    What this new impetus for change will achieve in the near term is another matter. Not only is policymaking absent and reformism on the defensive but the global slump is hitting Japanese industry particularly hard, and foreign workers foremost. In November industrial output fell by a record 8.1% compared to the previous month, and unemployment rose to 3.9%.

    Mr Sakamoto says he has stopped recruiting for now, but plans no redundancies. Yet sackings of Brazilians have begun at the Toyota and Sony plants in Aichi prefecture. Some workers, says a Brazilian pastor there, have been thrown out of their flats too, with no money to return home. In Hamamatsu city, south of Tokyo, demand for foreign workers is shrinking so fast that a Brazilian school which had 180 students in 2002 closed down at the end of December; its numbers had fallen to 30. Much is made of Japan’s lifetime-employment system, but that hardly applies to foreigners.

    ENDS

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    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 2 Comments »

    J Times: Radical GOJ immigration plan under discussion

    Posted on Monday, June 23rd, 2008

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

    Hi Blog.  Excellent article on the future of Japan’s immigration policy.  Yes, policy.  From–where else?–the Japan Times.  Debito
    ==================================
    The Japan Times Thursday, June 19, 2008

    Radical immigration plan under discussion

    By MINORU MATSUTANI Staff writer
    Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080619f1.html

    Foreigners will have a much better opportunity to move to, or continue to live in, Japan under a new immigration plan drafted by Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers to accept 10 million immigrants in the next 50 years.

    “The plan means (some politicians) are seriously thinking about Japan’s future,” said Debito Arudou, who is originally from the United States but has lived in Japan for 20 years and became a naturalized citizen in 2000. “While it is no surprise by global standards, it is a surprisingly big step forward for Japan.”

    The group of some 80 lawmakers, led by former LDP Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa, finalized the plan on June 12 and aims to submit it to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda later this week.

    The plan is “the most effective way to counter the labor shortage Japan is doomed to face amid a decreasing number of children,” Nakagawa said.

    While establishing an environment to encourage women to continue to work while rearing children is important to counter the expected labor shortage, bringing in foreign workers is the best solution for immediate effect, said the plan’s mastermind, Hidenori Sakanaka, director general of the private think tank Japan Immigration Policy Institute.

    “We will train immigrants and make sure they get jobs and their families have decent lives,” Sakanaka said in explaining the major difference between the new plan and current immigration policy. “We will take care of their lives, as opposed to the current policy, in which we demand only highly skilled foreigners or accept foreigners only for a few years to engage in simple labor.”

    Japan had 2.08 million foreign residents in 2006, accounting for 1.6 percent of the population of 128 million. Raising the total to 10 million, or close to 10 percent of the population, may sound bold but is actually modest considering that most European countries, not to mention the U.S., have already exceeded this proportion, Sakanaka said.

    Fukuda outlined in a policy speech in January his aim to raise the number of foreign students to 300,000 from the current 130,000, but without specifying a timetable.

    However, the immigration plan calls for the goal to be achieved soon and for the government to aim for 1 million foreign students by 2025. It also proposes accepting an annual 1,000 asylum seekers and other people who need protection for humanitarian reasons.

    Akio Nakayama, manager of the Tokyo office of the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration, said the important thing about the new plan pitched by the LDP members is that it would guarantee better human rights for immigrants.

    “The plan emphasizes that we will accept immigrants, not foreign workers, and let them live in Japan permanently,” Nakayama said.

    “The most remarkable point is that immigrants’ family members are included,” he said. “I have never seen this in similar proposals.”

    Also, he praised the plan for proposing changes to the resident registration law to allow children born in Japan to foreign parents to have Japanese citizenship. Under the current Nationality Law, one of the parents must be Japanese and the parents must be legally married for their children to have Japanese citizenship.

    This provision, however, was recently ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, allowing 10 children born to Filipino mothers and Japanese fathers out of wedlock to gain the right to Japanese nationality.

    The plan also includes establishing an entity to be called the Immigration Agency to integrate related duties that are now shared by multiple government bodies.

    Among other proposals, the plan calls for extending the maximum duration of student and working visas to five years from the current three, easing the conditions for granting permanent resident status, setting up more Japanese-language and culture centers overseas and outlawing racism.

    Arudou, a foreigners’ rights activist, noted the importance of establishing a legal basis for specifically banning discrimination against non-Japanese.

    “Founding a legal basis is important because people do not become open just because the government opens the door,” he said.

    Also under the plan, the foreign trainee program, which supports Japanese companies and organizations that hire foreigners to work up to three years in Japan, would be abolished. Some trainees who have come to Japan under the program have sued their employers, claiming they have been abused with minimal pay and harsh working conditions.

    This set of bold proposals appears positive, but Minoru Morita, a political critic at Morita Research Institute Co., doubts Nakagawa’s plan will be formally adopted by the LDP anytime soon.

    “Expanding immigrants to this large of a scale may cause social instability,” he said. “Nakagawa will face difficulty gaining support from LDP colleagues and ministry officials.”

    He added that Nakagawa may have come up with the plan because he could be angling to become the next prime minister and would therefore want to stand out with a bold policy proposal. “Nakagawa may have to water down the proposals,” Morita said.

    Fears over the consequences of bringing in more foreigners are probably shared by many in a country where people consider themselves highly homogeneous.

    “Immigrants surely bring dynamism to the Japanese economy, as well as crime,” said a researcher at a public entity studying crimes committed by foreigners. The researcher asked not to be named.

    While the researcher admitted immigrants would be better treated if the new plan were adopted and thus their motivation for committing crimes would decrease, he added: “But what if they lose their jobs? What if the economy worsens? We cannot take better care of unemployed immigrants than Japanese because we should treat them equally.”

    Goro Ono, author of “Bringing Foreign Workers Ruins Japan,” does not think bringing in immigrants is necessary.

    Ono, an honorary professor at Saitama University, said he does not believe Japan is facing a labor shortage now or in the future.

    “If industries where labor is in high demand pay adequate salaries, people will work there,” he said.

    Ono said nursing is a good example. Japan is actively bringing in Indonesians and other foreigners to cover a dire shortage because nurses here are woefully underpaid, he said, while on the other hand public entities never have trouble finding garbage collectors because they get decent salaries.

    Ono also brought up the lack of discussion about the cost of preparing the infrastructure to accept more immigrants.

    Sakanaka is ready to face such criticism just as all revolutionaries have in the past. His proposals would shake up Japan from the inside and it would be a historical moment if they all became law, he said.

    “The Meiji Restoration was the first stage in opening up the country to foreigners,” he said. “Now we are entering the second stage.”

    ENDS

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    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 9 Comments »

    Outgoing BOJ chief Fukui Toshihiko proposes debate on immigration

    Posted on Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

    HANDBOOKsemifinalcover.jpgFranca-color.jpg
    Hi Blog. Here’s something getting buried with all the debate over who’s going to be the next Bank of Japan Governor (for the LDP, when in doubt, put the same guy up again). Surprise to all those who think immigration is meaningless for Japan’s future–even the most influential economist in Japan disagrees.

    Bonus: Proof positive (see Nonaka comment below) that even J immigration policy, such as it was, was based on racial paradigms of analyzing “foreigners” (bring in Nikkei to “ease social frictions”; boy were you wrong). Debito in Sapporo

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    ANALYSIS: BOJ chief Fukui proposes debate on immigration
    Associated Press, Mar 7 2008 09:59 PM US/Eastern
    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8V8V76O0&show_article=1
    Courtesy of Adam Wallace

    TOKYO, March 8 (AP) – (Kyodo)—Outgoing Bank of Japan Governor Toshihiko Fukui believes Japan ought to hold an in-depth discussion on immigration in the face of its aging and declining population.

    In a lecture late last month, Fukui, who is due to retire March 19, said the source of economic growth is an infusion of labor and the accumulation of capital but that manpower is decreasing in Japan because of the ongoing rise in the number of the elderly and fall in the number of newborns.

    He said European countries and the United States face the same population problem but maintain higher economic growth than Japan, citing immigration as a primary reason for it.

    “The time has come for Japan to thoroughly discuss whether it expects society to grow (by accepting immigrants) or hopes for a single-race society without much growth,” he said.

    The number of Japanese aged 65 or older accounted for 21.0 percent of the population, the highest percentage in the world, according to a preliminary census in 2005. The rate of those aged 13 or younger was 13.6 percent, the lowest in the world.

    The issue of the aging society with a falling birthrate has been discussed and various proposals made by business circles. Fukui’s comments appear to be a call for the issue to be taken up in the political arena.

    But, in fact, the government of the late Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi addressed the matter after it was inaugurated in July 1998. Taichi Sakaiya, a Cabinet minister and director general of the Economic Planning Agency, stressed the need for acceptance of immigrants.

    The Economic Strategy Council, an advisory body to the prime minister, called for acceptance and expansion of immigrants in a report titled “Strategy for revitalization of the Japanese economy” that was submitted to Obuchi in 1999. The expert panel, working on devising a “concept of Japan in the 21st century” under the direct control of the prime minister, clearly stated the need for an immigration policy in its final report compiled in 2000. It reportedly reflected the intent of the prime minister’s office.

    Hiromu Nonaka, then chief Cabinet secretary and a powerful political figure at the time, said in response to a question from Kyodo News that Japan should accept immigrants “in the future.” To begin with, he suggested that Japan start accepting descendants of Japanese immigrants abroad to help ease social frictions at home.

    The Obuchi government, however, was up to its ears working out pump- priming measures for the economy and coping with a political power struggle. Obuchi died of a cerebral infarction at age 62 in May 2000 after suffering a stroke and falling into a coma.

    Subsequently, Nonaka quit politics and the immigration issue never got off the ground for comprehensive discussion.

    An awareness of belonging to a single race has been deeply rooted in Japan, generating a feeling of reluctance to accept immigrants. Furthermore, income disparities among people between big cities and local areas have become a big issue in the past few years, depriving society of any leeway to receive immigrants and creating circumstances that make it difficult for the immigration issue to become a topic for politicians to discuss.

    The question of whether it is right or wrong to accept immigrants will inevitably become a political issue since Japan has entered the era of coping with an aging society with fewer children in the absence of any conspicuously effective measures to wrestle with a dwindling birthrate.

    Hidenori Sakanaka, director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute and a former Justice Ministry bureaucrat, said acceptance of immigrants by Japan would be a “social revolution.” His institute has proposed that the nation receive 10 million immigrants over a 50-year period to bolster its aging and declining population.

    As Fukui is preparing his exit as central bank chief, his comments on Japan’s immigration policy are leaving Japanese politicians battling over his successor with a lot of food for thought.

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    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 2 Comments »

    GOJ floats trial balloon: Japanese language improvement for visas

    Posted on Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

    Hi Blog. This has made a huge splash in cyberspace, so I guess we’d better take it up here too:

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Japan May Require Foreign Residents to Know Japanese (Update 3)
    By Sachiko Sakamaki and Toko Sekiguchi
    Bloomberg News, January 15, 2008
    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601101&sid=a34ozVmUjMUU
    Courtesy Ben Shearon, Rita Short, Louis Butto, Matthew Simko, Akita Laura, and many others… Discussion at http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/425041 and many other places.

    Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) — Japan may consider requiring long- term resident (chouki taizai) foreigners to have local language ability, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said today, without saying to what degree the language would have to be learned.

    Komura said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice plan to start discussing the possible requirement. Komura didn’t say when the meeting would take place or provide further details on which residents might be affected.

    Japan’s mulling of a language requirement may hint at preparations to accept — rather than reject — more migrants, said Hidenori Sakanaka, director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute in Tokyo and formerly head of the Justice Ministry’s Tokyo immigration office. Officials realize that Japan’s aging society and pending labor shortage obliges them to boost immigration.

    “I think this is a preparation for that,” Sakanaka said. “It’s a global trend to require language ability for immigrants to integrate them into society.”

    Japan’s labor force will shrink to 55.8 million in 2030 from 66.6 million in 2006 if more women and the elderly aren’t allowed to work, according to a labor ministry report.

    “This shows that the government and business circles want to increase foreign workers,” said Ippei Torii, secretary general of Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan, an advocacy group for foreign laborers in Tokyo. A language rule, however, may prevent some workers from coming and may force non-Japanese speakers to leave, he said.

    ‘Quality of Life’

    Komura said officials may not necessarily deny foreigners long-term residency just because they have no Japanese language ability. Establishing language as one criterion for residency would improve foreigners’ quality of life in Japan and encourage foreign students to learn Japanese abroad, he said.

    “There are positive and negative aspects” of a language requirement, Komura said during a press conference in Tokyo today. “Because there may be more positive aspects we’re going to consider it.”

    Wenzhou Song, 44, a consultant who founded the Tokyo software company Softbrain Co., said a language rule shouldn’t exclude talented people from immigrating.

    “It’s a very difficult line to draw,” he said. “It makes sense to require long-term residents to speak the local language but you can’t make the requirement too harsh or you will discourage people who want to come to Japan.”

    Song spoke little Japanese when he came to Japan from China as a student in 1985, he said.

    On Nov. 20 Japan began fingerprinting and photographing foreigners entering the country to prevent terrorism.

    To contact the reporters on this story: Sachiko Sakamaki in Tokyo at Ssakamaki1@bloomberg.net ; Toko Sekiguchi in Tokyo at Tsekiguchi3@bloomberg.net

    Last Updated: January 15, 2008 01:53 EST
    ENDS
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////

    COMMENT: As I told a reporter from ABC Radio Australia in an interview today (should be online fairly soon at http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/), I agree that Japanese language proficiency (meaning reading, writing, and speaking) is crucial for life in Japan. Functional illiteracy in any society is deprivational–it limits your world and voids your ability to control your fate here. And incentives should be there for those who are willing to make the investment and learn the lingua franca.

    However, the GOJ as usual is making the incentives a matter of sticks, not carrots. Learn or we boot you out. No suggestion of how the GOJ is going to make it easier for NJ to learn–free language classes, for example, paid for by national and/or local governments, are de rigeur in other societies (such as the USA).

    Other problems:

    1) It is unclear what “long-term resident” (chouki taizai suru gaikokujin in Japanese) actually means. That could mean anyone from a one-year visa, to several one-year visas, all the way up to Permanent Resident. Are we saying that people who apply for PR will also have to take a language test? What “level of improvement” counts as valid at each stage? How high will that bar be raised the longer you stay?

    2) It seems like yet another hurdle put up to keep the tide of immigration in check. With all the other languages out there with more use in other countries (English, for example, or even Spanish or French), are people going to be willing to put in all this investment in language just for the dubious honor of paying taxes, being treated like second-class residents with few labor rights and even fewer human rights, being assigned only 3K jobs with little chance of advancement (and no guarantee of education for their children), and being told in the end anyway they don’t belong here phenotypically–when they could just bog off to another set of countries where one language works for all of them instead? Nihongo is limited to this archipelago. Other multicultural languages beckon. Japan risks being passed by again.

    3) How is this “language test” going to be administered? Is there a clear standard and grading regime, or is it just something administered by haughty Immigration officials–or worse yet, corporate bosses, to hold over their NJ employees like a Sword of Damocles? “You don’t speak like we do. You still have an accent. Either take a pay cut or we won’t approve your language improvement certificate and you’ll lose your visa”. And if there is a family of visas involved, what happens if some members of the family pass and others don’t?

    I repeat, in principle, I think everyone should learn Japanese if they’re going to live here. But as I wrote before when this proposal was first floated years ago (Komura saying it now came as no surprise to me–it’s been in the pipeline; see links below), this requires more homework and concrete policy before floating anything as complicated as this as a mere policy trial balloon.

    Previous mentions at Debito.org at
    http://www.debito.org/?p=105
    http://www.debito.org/?p=443
    http://www.debito.org/?p=277

    It’s saddening that even though it’s been a policy topic for more than a year, little seems to have been done to make it more sophisticated by now. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government | 18 Comments »

    Patricia Aliperti & Catherine Makino on NJ Sexual Slavery/Human Trafficking in Japan

    Posted on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

    Hi Blog. Here is a situation covered only infrequently by the media and by the likes of Debito.org (mainly because there is so little public information out there, and it’s a topic I’m not at liberty to research myself)–how sex trafficking, particularly that involving non-Japanese, is a flourishing business. And how Japan is one of the world’s major trading posts for it.

    I’ve dealt with issues of slavery before (to this day, it exists in just about every country on the planet), but Japan’s has always had a wink-wink attitude towards the water trades–even by Prime Ministers regarding Japan’s historical connections–and especially when it comes to its particularly nasty variant involving foreigners. NJ “entertainers” (there was even an official visa category for it) are in a much weaker position linguistically (language barrier), economically (in more desperate straits) and legally (NJ have visas, meaning bosses can use denial of visa status as a further means for forcing compliance). This means it took gaiatsu (i.e. an unfavorable report from the US State Department) before the GOJ actually did anything meaningful about it.

    Older article from Catherine Makino follows. And if you hope or think the situation has improved, check out this incredible Powerpoint presentation by Ms. Patricia Aliperti, Rotary World Peace Fellow at the International Christian University in Tokyo, which she gave me after a speech I attended at the Peace as a Global Language Conference in Kyoto last October 27:

    http://www.debito.org/HumanTraffickingShortPresentation.ppt

    Breathtaking in its breadth and depth, it will open your eyes to the issue. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Japan Installs Caution Signal for Sex Traffic
    Run Date: 07/18/05
    By Catherine Makino WeNews correspondent
    http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/2378/context/archive
    Courtesy of Aly Rustom

    Japan has revised its criminal law to stipulate human trafficking as a crime and punish those involved. Activists, however, remain alarmed by foreign-staffed sex parlors that have made the country a haven for traffickers.

    TOKYO (WOMENSENEWS)–There are about 10,000 parlors in Japan that offer sex to patrons.

    Many advertise that they have foreign women by using such names as Filipina Pub, Russian Bar or Thai Delight. The patrons pay $60 to $100 for drinks and then an additional $150 to $300 to take women out of the bar to have sex with them.

    Most of these women come to Japan on falsified passports or with entertainer or short-term visas, says Hidenori Sakanaka, who until a year ago was the director of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau. They are told that they have to pay off fake debts and their passports often are taken away upon arrival in Japan. The women are beaten and controlled by threats to family members in their home countries.

    “Most women are moved from place to place and are too scared to complain,” Sakanaka says.

    Sakanaka, who now directs the Japan Aid Association for North Korean Returnees, is credited with pushing through revisions to the law to combat trafficking while in his former post. Passed by the National Diet last month, it has helped abate international concerns about a country that has long been criticized for a too-tolerant an approach to trafficking.

    On Saturday, the National Police Agency said police had uncovered 29 cases of human trafficking of foreign women from January to the end of June, up by five from the same period last year.

    Despite these and other promising moves by Japan–brought about in part by the activism of Japanese women’s groups–international and local advocates continue to worry about the country’s problem with human trafficking, the world’s third-largest underworld business after trade in drugs and arms, netting $9.5 billion annually.

    In a recent report the Japan Network against Trafficking in Persons said that the government’s heightened anti-trafficking efforts had so far not “made a dent.”

    Fact-Finding Mission Last Week

    Last week, Sigma Huda, the special rapporteur on trafficking for the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, came here on an unofficial fact-finding mission with activists, lawyers, lawmakers, academics and others concerned about human trafficking. The visit followed widespread reports–including by Amnesty International Japan–of South Asian women from developing nations being trafficked in this highly developed country.

    “It’s the dark side of globalization,” says Huda, who is based in Bangladesh.

    Reports indicate that about 130,000 women come to Japan on entertainer visas every year, but only about 10 percent of them actually perform in legitimate shows at hotels and other venues. Many obtain entertainment visas through agents who recruit them to Japan with promises of jobs that don’t exist.

    Sakanaka traces the problem to immigration officials who bend to politicians and businessmen who hire foreign women for illicit purposes. “Some men even said I was out of my mind to try to do something about human trafficking,” he says. “They claimed it was part of Japanese culture to have sex with foreign women. They were addicted to the parlors. I received phone calls from politicians and anonymous threats on my life.”

    Japan Kept Off Worst-Trafficker List

    Earlier this month, the U.S. State department removed Japan from a special watch list of countries that were to be included on an updated listed as the worst condoners of human trafficking after the Japanese government compiled an action program to combat human traffickers. The State Department had put Japan on that list a year ago.

    Under the new Japanese legislation, those who “purchase” people in order to control their activities will face punishment of up to five years in prison. The maximum punishment could be increased to seven years imprisonment if the victim is a minor.

    The new legislation will also grant victims, on a case-by-case basis, special residency status even if they have overstayed their original visa, so that they can be rehabilitated.

    Before these revisions, police dealt with trafficking by arresting the victims as illegal aliens, jailing them and deporting them as soon as they had enough money to fly home. Traffickers received a fine or a short jail sentence.

    One of the most notorious traffickers, Koichi Hagiwara, known as Sony for his habit of videotaping his victims while he humiliated and tortured them, was sentenced in March 2003 and served less than two years in prison for violating labor laws.

    Japanese Women Enraged

    Japanese women have also pressured the government to do something about human trafficking.

    “Many women were enraged by an article in the Asahi Shimbun, a major daily newspaper in Japan, about the practice,” says Sakanaka, the former director of the Immigration Bureau, referring to an investigative article published Oct. 18, 2003. “Until this article came out, Japanese women knew little about the situation. Women’s groups mobilized, and called up magazines and newspapers to protest the treatment of the women victims.”

    The government, Sakanaka says, has neglected to investigate many of the abuse cases. These women, he says, live horrific, lonely lives, forced into having unprotected sex and perform other risky acts with dozens of customers a day. “These new laws are valuable. But they also need to strike at the center of organized crime.”

    Sakanaka is concerned that most foreign women will be too scared to go to the police because they think they will be killed if they try to escape.

    Chieko Tatsumi, an official in the International Organized Crime Division of Japan’s Foreign Ministry, disagrees. She believes the victims would seek protection from the police.

    “There has already been an increase in the number of women asking for protection,” Tatsumi says. “In 2002, there were only two Thais who sought help, but in 2004 there were 25.”

    She says that the government set a budget of $100,000 in April for helping women who come to a public shelter.

    “The government will pay for rehabilitation for the victims of sexual enslavement and tickets for them to return to their home countries,” Tatsumi says. Not enough, says Sono[ko] Kawakami, campaign manager for Victims of Violence of Japan Amnesty International. The government’s measures fail to sufficiently protect victims and the amount of money budgeted to stop trafficking is insufficient, she says.

    Her organization wants separate facilities for trafficking victims, rather than housing them with victims of domestic violence. Many victims are so traumatized that they won’t talk to anyone, so they require specialists to handle them, Kawakami says. Since many do not speak Japanese she also wants language translation support for the victims and specialists in human trafficking to assist them.

    Although she believes the government can do more, she says the revisions to the criminal law affecting trafficking are a good start.
    Keiko Otsu, director of Asian Women’s Shelter in Tokyo, is also pleased with the new laws, but says there are currently only two shelters available for these women.

    “The women don’t have any income, assistance or support,” she says. “Some may be pregnant and many have mental and other health problems, including AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases and need expensive medial care.”

    Catherine Makino is a freelance writer in Tokyo. She has written for San Francisco Chronicle, the Japan Times, The Asian Wall Street Journal and the China Morning Post.

    For more information:

    Japan Network Against Trafficking in Persons:
    http://jnatip.blogspot.com
    International Organization for Migration:
    http://www.iom.int/
    ENDS

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    Posted in Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Problematic Foreign Treatment, United Nations | 5 Comments »

    Japan Today: Naturalized Chinese sues Hitachi for contract nonrenewal

    Posted on Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

    Hi Blog. Here’s another lawsuit of note (sorry for not seeing it sooner).

    Note the errroneous headline. This person is not a Chinese worker. She is a naturalized Japanese citizen, therefore a Japanese. Bishibashi for the copy editor (and the translation is pretty hokey too).

    Quick comment follows article.

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

    Hitachi sued by Chinese worker
    Japan Today November 27, 2007
    http://www.japantoday.com/jp/shukan/424

    Hitachi is being sued for discrimination by a Chinese employee. The case is being watched by many major Japanese manufacturing companies because it’s quite a rare case that discrimination against their foreign workers becomes public.

    The plaintiff graduated from a Chinese university and obtained a masters degree at a Japanese university. She joined Hitachi in 1994, and obtained Japanese citizenship during her career there. She is now 58 years old.

    According to the plaintiff, after a one-year probation, she was hired by Hitachi and asked to work for a section dealing with China and assigned translation tasks. She was supposed to be given a full-time contract. But because of a working visa problem, she was given the status of a “non-regular staff,” which requires annual renewal of the contract. In April of 2004, Hitachi told her that they would not renew the contract.

    In June of 2006, she sued Hitachi, saying, “The one-year contract as a non-regular staff is just an ad hoc measure, and I was virtually working full-time. There is no justification for making me quit.” In her suit, she has requested “confirmation of her rights in the contract,” unpaid salaries and 10 million yen compensation.

    Hitachi says that she is just a non-regular worker whose contract had to be renewed annually and that the company let her go because her contract had finished.

    However, on Oct 15, the plaintiff invited a former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, Hidenori Sakanaka, who is now a specialist in foreign worker issues in Japan, to court. Sakanaka questioned Hitachi’s appeal, saying, “The plaintiff was given a special status called ‘Specialist in Humanities / International Services.’ This special status is given only to those who work as full-time staff and never given to ‘non-regular staff’ because ‘non-regular staff’ is not a legally recognized labor status.”

    A lawyer who specializes in corporate laws says, “It’s actually common for foreign workers to renew their employment contracts every three years in order to renew their visa. I think corporations generally don’t fire their foreign employees who work full-time.”

    Hitachi has refused further comments on the case, saying it is still a court matter. However, Sakanaka says the Hitachi case is the tip of the iceberg. Since China is an important market for Japanese companies, labor problems with Chinese employees could become more common from now on, he says. (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)
    ENDS
    ===========================

    COMMENT: The thing I don’t get about this article is that the plaintiff got Japanese citizenship while she was working at Hitachi, so why is visa and employment even an issue? Is she a Japanese worker or not? And did her work status not changed when she naturalized? And wow, this case is taking a long time, if she first filed suit in 2006!

    Anyway, her case might help bring about some consistancy in the arrayed grey zone between perpetually-renewed contracted NJ and part-time J workers–something employers have been using to keep their staff disposable at will. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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    Posted in Labor issues, Lawsuits | 2 Comments »

    Mainichi Poll: 63% of Japanese favor immigration of unskilled foreign laborers

    Posted on Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

    Hi Blog. I had a column in the Japan Times today talking about the mysterious perception gap between friendly, welcoming Japanese people, and a government which is expressly xenophobic and increasingly antipathetic towards foreigners. As further fodder for that claim, look at this interesting poll, where the majority of people aren’t falling for the media- and GOJ-manufactured fear of the outside world or the alien within. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    =============================
    63% of Japanese favor allowing immigration of unskilled foreign laborers
    (Mainichi Japan) December 17, 2007
    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/national/archive/news/2007/12/17/20071217p2a00m0na038000c.html

    More than 60 percent of people in Japan support accepting entry-level workers from overseas, in spite of the government’s policy of generally refusing such workers, a survey by the Mainichi has found.

    In a nationwide telephone poll conducted by the Mainichi, 63 percent of respondents agreed with accepting foreign entry-level workers. Another 31 percent were against the idea, citing reasons such as that it would have a negative effect on Japanese employment or public peace.

    A special employment plan approved by the Cabinet in June 1988 agreed to actively accept specialist and skilled foreign workers, but to take a “cautious” approach with regard to entry-level workers, and as a result, foreign unskilled laborers are generally refused entry to Japan.

    When questioned about the government’s policy, 58 percent of respondents in the survey agreed with accepting unskilled foreign workers in fields where there was a lack of workers. Five percent said entry-level foreign workers should be accepted unconditionally.

    When the 31 percent of respondents who said that such workers should not be accepted were asked to give a reason for their stance, 51 percent replied that it would have a negative effect on the employment and working environments of Japanese nationals. Another 35 percent said that public security would worsen, while 10 percent said trouble would occur as a result of differences between customs. Three percent cited an increased burden in areas such as social security costs and education costs.

    When asked who would cover social security and education costs, the answers “the businesses employing the workers” and “industries that need workers” each received 38 percent. The answers “foreign workers themselves,” and “the whole public” each marked only 11 percent.

    Hidenori Sakanaka, head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, who formerly served as a director of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, said Japan’s entry into an age with a dwindling population was behind the rising acceptance of allowing entry-level workers into Japan.

    “Another reason is probably that the relationship with foreigners in Japan has taken a turn for the better,” he said. Sakanaka added that the work done by entry-level workers, such as nursing and work in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industry, required specialist knowledge and skills, as well as the ability to adapt to Japanese society, and was certainly not simple. He added that a system to accept foreigners under a policy of cultivating human resources was urgently needed.
    (Mainichi Japan) December 17, 2007
    ENDS

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    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Media | 2 Comments »

    JT on GOJ proposals for foreign workers

    Posted on Friday, June 8th, 2007

    Hi Blog. Pursuant to the most recent Debito.org Newsletter on GOJ proposals for NJ workers, here’s an article giving more on how the ministries plan to “fix” things.

    Already being criticized for limiting the time duration, potential contribution to Japanese society, and vagueness in scope, one wonders how far this will be applied–to other types of “workers” (such as non-blue-collar NJ employees as well)? The MOJ Minister makes it clearest that gaijin are merely guests on revolving-door labor terms, which of course I cannot support. As friend Olaf says, time to switch to Permanent Residency as soon as possible.

    Still not an issue for the upcoming elections, alas. Arudou Debito at Cornell University

    =================================
    Competing foreign-worker plans face off
    Justice chief’s proposal to open doors, briefly, for all sectors causes stir
    The Japan Times Thursday, June 7, 2007

    By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer
    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070607f1.html
    Courtesy of James Annan at The Community

    OSAKA — If the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) have their way, it’s possible you’ll see this help-wanted ad in your English-language newspaper:

    “Seeking highly trained foreign engineers and technicians to work in Japan. Successful candidates must agree to first study Japanese in their home country through a Japanese-government funded program and then pass a Japanese-government approved language proficiency examination to receive a work visa. Visa may lead to permanent residency, depending on job performance, language ability and personality, which will be evaluated by the Japanese government and their employer.”

    On the other hand, if a recent proposal put forward by Justice Minister Jinen Nagase were to become law, it’s possible the ad would be written as follows:

    “Seeking foreigners to work in Japan on a temporary basis (maximum three years) for all jobs and industries. All are welcome to apply, and no prior experience or ability in Japanese necessary. Successful applicants will be guaranteed a fair wage. However, visa will be good for only three years and will not be renewed under any circumstances.”

    With Japan’s population expected to fall from the current 127 million to 100 million by 2050, and with slightly more than one-third of the population expected to be over 65 by then, government officials and private industries are intensifying their efforts to propose policies to make up for the predicated labor shortage by bringing in foreign workers.

    Three separate proposals were announced last month. Two were METI and health ministry plans for restructuring the foreign trainee system, which has drawn harsh criticism from rights groups, lawyers and others because of the many cases in which trainees are abused, underpaid, not paid at all or exploited merely as cheap labor by small companies.

    Under the current system, trainees are allowed into Japan for three years. They study the Japanese language and society in a classroom during the first year and spend the last two years in on-the-job training.

    The health ministry proposes bringing in foreigners for a total of three years, all of which would be on-the-job training, with a two-year extension possible after they first return to their home country.

    Three days after that proposal was announced, METI released a report calling for keeping the current trainee system, but reforming it so trainees could return to Japan, like the health ministry proposal, for an extra two years under certain conditions.

    Japan does not have a guest worker system that allows unskilled or semi-skilled foreigners to come in. The ministries, as well as many lawmakers, business leaders and local governments, fear a large influx of unskilled foreign workers would take jobs from Japanese, creating social unrest. This is precisely why Nagase’s proposal has created such a stir.

    The justice minister envisions a wide variety of foreign workers, not just skilled workers in METI-approved sectors, working here for up to three years. They would not be allowed to renew their visa, and they would not be given priority for permanent residency, which is what some in METI and Keidanren have proposed.

    It is believed Nagase seeks a more acute need for unskilled or semi-skilled labor, particularly rural and in the services industry.

    “The justice minister’s proposal recognizes that a broad range of foreign laborers are needed. It brings foreigners in through the front door to meet Japan’s coming labor demand in all sectors, whereas the METI and the health ministry proposals target technical trainees for specific sectors only, which will result in a large influx of illegal foreign labor through the side door for the other sectors,” said Michitsune Kusaka of Rights of Immigrants Network Kansai, a nongovernmental organization.

    However, both Kusaka and Hidenori Sakanaka, director of the NGO Japan Immigration Policy Institute and former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, criticize the proposed three-year time limit.

    “Putting a three-year limit on a foreign worker’s stay in Japan does not give the company doing the hiring any incentive to take the time to train them for specialized work. Of course, there is also the question of how many skilled workers would want to come to Japan if they are forced to leave after three years,” Sakanaka said.

    While the three proposals are getting a lot of attention among bureaucrats in Tokyo’s Nagata-cho district and senior business leaders, the issue of what to do about foreign laborers is not expected to addressed by politicians in the Upper House election in July.

    Hiroshi Inoue, a Keidanren official who helped draft its own policy on foreign laborers, which is similar to the METI proposal, said the issue of foreign workers remains off the radar for most Diet members.

    “Local politicians in areas of Japan with lots of foreign laborers, especially in the Chubu region, have to think about policies for foreign laborers. But the issue is not something Diet members concern themselves with,” he said.

    “The pension issue and revising the Constitution will be the focus of the Upper House election. Seriously debating proposals about more foreign laborers is not something Diet members are ready to do, although the three proposals announced in May are getting a lot of attention among bureaucrats,” Sakanaka said.
    ENDS

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    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 7 Comments »

    Asahi: Update on NJ Trainee Worker program: reform or abolition? (UPDATED)

    Posted on Friday, May 18th, 2007

    Hi Blog. I’m heading down to Tokyo tomorrow to give a speech at a human-rights retreat for some major Japanese corporations (Kirin, Mitsubishi etc), so I’m not sure when’s the next time I’ll be online. But anyway, here’s an update on what the Japanese government is thinking about the much-abused “Trainee Visa” program for NJ workers (more on the abuses blogged here). Debito in Sapporo

    ADDENDUM: Original memos from Nagase included below article, courtesy of an insider friend. (長勢法務大臣のメモ「外国人労働者受入れに関する検討の指示について」、平成19年5月15日付)原文は記事の下です。)

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

    Nagase enters foreign-worker feud
    05/17/2007 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

    http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200705170115.html

    Justice Minister Jinen Nagase proposed that Japan move to accept unskilled foreign workers, a “personal idea” that has startled bureaucrats and complicated debate on reforming a problem-ridden trainee-intern program.

    Nagase’s proposal was broached on Tuesday amid a tug-of-war between the labor and industry ministries over their conflicting reform plans released over the past week on the foreign trainee-intern program.

    The labor ministry wants to end unlawful labor practices associated with the program, while the industry ministry wants to help smaller companies that are having a tough time finding workers.

    Nagase entered the fray Tuesday with a plan that called for the program’s abolition, rather than reform. The plan would, in effect, pave the way for unskilled workers to enter Japan under certain conditions.

    Specifically, a limited number of foreigners will be allowed to work up to three years under the supervision of government-sanctioned entities. These workers should not stay after that period, and their wages and working conditions must be safeguarded, according to Nagase’s proposal.

    The plan surprised mandarins of both the labor and industry ministries.

    “We’ve never expected such a bold plan to come out,” one official said.

    The government introduced the trainee-intern program in the early 1990s to help workers from developing countries learn industry skills here.

    In their first year, they learn work skills as “trainees.” In the second and third years, they work as “interns” at companies under labor contracts.

    Critics say, however, that companies are using them as low-wage workers to make up for labor shortages.

    According to Justice Ministry figures, cases of unlawful practices involving foreign trainees and interns shot up to 229 in 2006, from 92 in 2003. In many cases, the foreigners worked overtime hours beyond the limits or were not paid in full.

    Some of the workers have taken their problems to court.

    To remedy the situation, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare proposed scrapping the “training” part of the program and integrating it into the internship part.

    Under the current system, trainees are not subject to labor law protections, including minimum wages, which allowed businesses to exploit them.

    But officials of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said the labor ministry’s plan would weaken the program’s intended purpose of technical transfers.

    Instead, the industry ministry plans to beef up the program with tighter controls and penalties, and allow interns to work two additional years at small as well as major companies.

    The labor ministry’s plan will allow an extension only at major firms.

    Japan’s tightening labor market, which has hit smaller companies especially hard, is behind the calls for the program’s review.

    In 2006, 41,000 foreign trainees went on to internships, a jump from 11,000 for 1999. Most of the employers were small companies.

    To cope with the shortage of workers, business circles are calling on the government to lift the ban on unskilled foreign workers under certain conditions.

    But the government has so far maintained its position to keep out unskilled workers for social security and other reasons. The labor ministry insists that accepting them could negatively affect wages and other working conditions for Japanese workers.

    Related ministries reconfirmed this stance last June, but Nagase nonetheless came out with his proposal.

    Hidenori Sakanaka, director at the nongovernmental Japan Immigration Policy Institute, welcomed Nagase’s idea and urged debate on the issue.

    “The current system is an epitome of problems because foreigners are forced to work at low wages in the name of training or internship,” he said. “As Japan’s population shrinks, we need full debate with their (foreign workers’) settlement and permanent residence in view.”

    (IHT/Asahi: May 17, 2007)
    ARTICLE ENDS
    ==================================

    MOJ MINISTER NAGASE’S MEMOS TO KASUMIGASEKI IN JAPANESE (two pages)
    (クリックすると拡大されます)
    nagasememo051507001.jpg
    nagasememo051507002.jpg
    ENDS

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 1 Comment »

    IPS: Xenophobia May Hamper Economic Growth

    Posted on Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

    Hi Blog. Here’s another article outlining the social damage created by Japan’s close-to-a-decade (since April 2000, see my book JAPANESE ONLY) of media, police, and governmental targeting of NJ as agents of crime and social instability: Even when the press finally decides to turn down the heat, the public has a hard time getting over it.

    More on the history of the GOJ’s anti-foreign campaigns starting from:

    http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#gaijinimages

    http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police

    One more stat from the article below:

    “On average, foreigners are paid around 15,000 US dollars annually, almost half the minimum considered necessary to live in this country.”

    Hope to see this substantiated more fully elsewhere so we can cite it in future. That’s quite a bellwether wage differential.

    Debito in Sapporo

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

    LABOUR-JAPAN:

    Xenophobia May Hamper Economic Growth

    By Suvendrini Kakuchi

    Inter Press Service News Agency, May 8, 2007

    http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=37549

    Courtesy of Hans ter Horst

    TOKYO, Apr 30 (IPS) – Junko Nakayama, 56, refuses to believe that the number of foreigners arrested for crimes is decreasing as per statistics released by the National Policy Agency.

    ”There are an increasing number of foreigners, mostly Asian, in the area where I live and they look menacing. I am now very nervous when I walk back home from the train station in the evening,” she says.

    Nakayama, who works in an international company, is not alone. Surveys indicate that more Japanese — over 70 percent in a poll — believe that the influx of foreigners into Japan is posing a threat to the country’s famed domestic peace. The notion is fuelled, say activists, by sensationalism in the media over crimes committed by overseas workers.

    Accepting foreign migrant workers and treating them equally has been a long simmering debate in Japan where pride in national homogeneity is deep-rooted.

    Says Nobushita Yaegashi at Kalaba No Kai, a leading grass roots group helping foreign labour: �-?’Despite new steps to allow foreign workers into Japan, they are viewed as cheap labour not as individuals who have the right to settle down and make a life in Japan. This policy reveals Japan’s xenophobia and is represented in the media.”

    The debate over foreigners and crime was highlighted in January when prosecutors in San Paulo, Brazil, charged Milton Noboru Higaki, a former Brazilian worker in Japan, with professional negligence in a hit-and-run case in 1999.

    Higaki, a Brazilian of Japanese descent, fled to Brazil four days after the incident that killed a high school girl Mayumi Ochiai, then 16. Her parents then pursued Higaki in his home country in a case that hailed in Japan as a step forward in ensuring judicial accountability of foreigners. Brazil and Japan have no extradition accord and Brazil’s laws forbid the handover of its nationals to foreign countries.

    In 2005, Chinese nationals topped the list of foreigners arrested for crime. Nikkei, or second and third generation, Brazilians came next. According to justice ministry figures there are 320,000 of Nikkei living in Japan, working mostly in factories.

    �-?The Yomiuri’, Japan’s largest daily, commented on Feb. 17 in an editorial titled �-?Fleeing foreign criminals should be tried in Japan’, said �-?’crimes committed by foreign residents is a serious problem”. The editorial called for a “stringent stance by the Japanese authorities in not allowing foreign criminals to escape punishment.”

    But Yasuko Morioka, a human rights attorney, says the media would have done better to focus on the lack of laws to protect foreigners’ rights in Japan. �-?’There is no doubt that provision for access to professional interpretation, documents in their native language, and a legal hearing that considers the rights of foreign foreign workers is largely lacking in Japan,” she explained to IPS.

    Morioka said there is no attempt to link crimes committed by Japanese-Brazilian workers to the abuses they suffer — poor working conditions, denial of education for children due to language barriers, discrimination and gross state negligence.

    Japan is an attractive labour market for Asian and Latin American overseas workers given the high value of the Japanese yen. On average, foreigners are paid around 15,000 US dollars annually, almost half the minimum considered necessary to live in this country.

    Eagerly sought after by small manufacturing companies and farms for cheap labour, they are considered essential to stay competitive against rapid globalisation.

    Activists also say Japanese employers easily get away without paying compensation or providing relief when foreign employees are injured during work on the grounds of the lack of documented visas or access to an established system where workers can report this abuse.

    Indeed, Higaki was quoted in the media as saying the reason why he fled was because he feared ‘discrimination’ as a foreigner in Japanese courts.

    ”The charge is understandable,” said Morioka, who is lobbying hard, with the Japan Lawyers Association, for the government to pass legislation that will guarantee the right of foreigners to be treated equally in the host country.

    Experts warn that resistance to accepting migrant workers on an equal basis in Japan can result in a host of social problems that can only be blamed on government policies.

    According to Hidenori Sakanaka, a former justice ministry official, Japanese companies are desperate to take in foreign workers to make up for a drastic population decline that can only worsen in the coming years.

    Japan needs immigrant workers because its own population is both aging and declining. In 2005, deaths outnumbered births by 10,000. From 2006 onwards, the population was projected to dwindle steadily with some projections saying that Japan’s population, currently standing at 127 million, could dwindle to around 100 million by 2050. (FIN/2007)

    ENDS

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    Posted in Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 5 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 30, 2007

    Posted on Friday, March 30th, 2007

    Hello Blog. Sending you the last newsletter of the fiscal year:

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    1) SAKANAKA ESSAY ON NEW FRAMEWORK FOR J IMMIGRATION POLICIES
    2) KEIDANREN WANTS MORE FOREIGNERS
    3) NIIGATA PREF CITY TO ABOLISH “NATIONALITY CLAUSE”
    4) TOKYO GOVERNORSHIP RACE HEATS UP:
    ASANO DECRIES ISHIHARA’S XENOPHOBIA

    5) PM ABE: “OK OK, I APOLOGIZE FOR THE ‘COMFORT WOMEN’ ALREADY”. KINDA.
    6) FOREIGN MINISTER ASO: DIPLOMACY AS A MATTER OF HAIR AND EYE COLOR
    7) MANUAL: BEWARE FOREIGN P*NISES! WITH CHART OF SIZES

    8) DEBITO.ORG UPDATES: KARA KIKAN, NATURALIZATION, APARTMENT “SHIKIKIN” REFUND
    9) MEDIA UPDATES: JET INTERVIEW, DEBITO.ORG MAKES JAPANZINE’S BEST FOR 2007
    10) 2-CHANNEL UPDATE: NISHIMURA WILL PAY FINES “ONLY ON PAIN OF DEATH”
    11) CONCLUDING GAIJIN HANZAI ISSUE WITH JT AND J FOCUS ARTICLES

    and finally…JAPANESE ONLY T-SHIRTS ALSO ON SALE IN FRONT OF JR TOKYO STATION
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org)
    March 30, 2007 Freely Forwardable

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    1) SAKANAKA ESSAY ON NEW FRAMEWORK FOR J IMMIGRATION POLICIES

    Debito.org is proud to premiere an important essay on the future of immigration to Japan. To tell you just how important, I turn the keyboard over to Eric Johnston, deputy editor for the Japan Times Osaka:

    =====================================
    A New Framework for Japan’s Immigration Policies
    By Hidenori Sakanaka,
    Director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute
    Former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau

    Introduction by Eric Johnston (excerpt):

    …For the past decade, the debate about how to adjust to an aging society with fewer children has largely been conducted behind closed doors, with different ministries putting out different proposals to keep Japan economically competitive while politically influential academics slay entire forests as they propose a variety of solutions. T he endless sub-committees, blue ribbon panels, white papers, “wise-men” advisory boards, and special project teams have all gone out of their way to stress the importance of raising the retirement age and providing retraining opportunities for older people, ensuring that younger Japanese are integrated into the work-force as full-time employees not as “freeters”, and making use of more robot technology to replace the ever-dwindling number of human workers.

    …But given the politically explosive nature of the subject, few members of the official debate want to talk about what Japan might look like with millions and millions of foreigners [as workers and residents].

    A notable, and praiseworthy, exception is Hidenori Sakanaka. Two years ago, his book “Nyukan Senki” caused a sensation among those following the official debate over immigration. A former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, Sakanaka was a consummate insider, an elite bureaucrat who has the ear of senior bureaucrats and business leaders, and the very few ruling party politicians, like the LDP’s Taro Kono, who are thinking seriously about the future of foreigners in Japan.

    In his book, Sakanaka outlined a vision of Japan in 2050, and stated what was obvious but what nobody in power dared address: Japan fundamentally faces two choices, whether to remain a “big” country by bringing in millions of foreigners or become a “small” country and admit very few….
    =====================================

    Now go on to read Sakanaka’s essay and Johnston’s full intro at:
    http://www.debito.org/sakanakaonimmigration.htm

    However, one major player in the policy arena certainly wants a foreign influx. As long as they just come in as workers with no impact, as usual…

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    2) KEIDANREN WANTS MORE FOREIGNERS

    Excerpting from Terrie’s Take Issue 413, March 19, 2007:
    http://www.japaninc.com/terries_take

    ====================================
    RELAXED ENGINEER VISAS: The Japanese Business Federation, Keidanren, has recommended to the government that the immigration requirements for foreign engineers’ visas be relaxed, to encourage a larger number of people to come work here, particularly in IT. They suggest that engineers coming in under the experience category be allowed in after just 4 years of relevant work experience, versus the current 10 years. But before you think that Keidanren is going soft, they are also looking at recommending Japanese-language requirements on future worker intakes, to alleviate problems typically associated with a surge of foreign workers.

    COMMENT FROM TERRIE LLOYD:Hmmm, we doubt that they’ve thought this through too much. Imposing Japanese language skills will add at least 3-5 years on to the supply curve, and given the choice of English or Japanese, most Chinese and Indian engineers are going to pick the global language. Japan needs to understand that internationalizing may in fact mean accepting English as a second language, as has already happened in Europe and in most of the rest of Asia. This is not heresy, just pragmatism. (Source: TT commentary from nikkei.co.jp, Mar 18, 2007)
    http://www.nni.nikkei.co.jp/AC/TNKS/Nni20070317
    ====================================

    I’ll just add that Keidanren is displaying the typical work-unit mentality one finds in any organization only thinking of the bottom line, not the welfare of their workers. With that undercurrent, the policy will create more social problems than you think. Hasn’t Keidanren learned anything from its problematic Researcher and Trainee Visa experiments from 1990? Oh, yeah–now let’s just make the foreigner pass a language test. That’ll fix everything. Right.

    Related posting from Tony Keyes, courtesy of The Community list:

    ====================================
    Further to the discussion at the beginning of this month about the ultimate powers of the immigration office, Sunday’s Nikkei Shimbun tells us that they are going to be more transparent in their deliberations.
    http://www.nikkei.co.jp/news/main/20070318AT3S1700K17032007.html

    “The Justice Ministry has announced on March 17th that it has decided to publish guidelines to clarify the requirements for extension and change of visa status for foreigners residing in Japan. Decisions on whether to allow extensions or not are in reality made by regional immigration bureaux authorised by the minister and based on the content of individual cases. This has been criticised by applicants and the economic world as being not transparent. The guidelines will include objective standards which should be easier to understand for foreigners and others. Publication is intended for FY 2007.” (Translation Tony)
    ====================================

    Similar article with a surprisingly good discussion at Japantoday.com:
    http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/401306

    Meanwhile, some local governments are taking internationalization into their own hands:

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    3) NIIGATA PREF CITY TO ABOLISH “NATIONALITY CLAUSE”

    Good news. Local newspaper Niigata Nippou reports that another city government, Jouetsu, SW Niigata Prefecture, intends to abolish the “Nationality Clause” (kokuseki joukou). This guideline, enforced by many local, regional, and national government agencies, maintains that only citizens may hold administrative positions (kanrishoku) in the Japanese civil service. Translating:

    ======================================
    JOUETSU CITY TO COMPLETELY ABOLISH THE NATIONALITY CLAUSE
    Niigata Nippou March 28, 2007

    http://www.niigata-nippo.co.jp/pref/index.asp?cateNo=3&newsNo=231718
    (Japanese original) or
    http://www.debito.org/?p=295

    The City Government of Jouetsu made clear on March 27 its aims to completely abolish the Nationality Clause for its 2008 employee hires…

    Jouetsu City removed the Nationality Clause for employment in the Arts and Child Care in 1995, and from Welfare employees in 2003. From 2008, it will remove the restriction from all city government employment, including civil engineers and construction…

    The City of Minami Uonuma in Niigata Prefecture also abolished the Nationality Clause for civil-service entrance exams in 2007. The City of Niigata has also indicated that it is considering a similar abolition.
    ======================================

    Why this matters: Non-Japanese, even those born in Japan with Japanese as their first language (as generational diaspora of former citizens of empire–the Zainichis), have been systematically excluded from even qualifying to sit examinations for Japan’s bureaucracy. Moreover, the Supreme Court ruled in 2005, in defiance of Article 14 barring discrimination, that excluding a Zainichi Korean named Chong Hyang Gyun from sitting her admin exam for the Tokyo Government was constitutional!

    Proponents of the Nationality Clause say inter alia that it is for security reasons, as you apparently cannot allow untrustworthy foreigners (especially those apparently shifty North Koreans) to hold jobs in, for example, firefighting and civil-service food preparation. Hell, you can’t trust a foreigner with a fire ax, since they might inflict damage to our Japanese property (meaning alleged insurance problems and international incidents). And what if they poisoned us during a busy lunchtime and took over?! Or if proponents can’t be bothered to overthink the situation, they just punt and say that if anyone seriously wants to become a bureaucrat, they should naturalize, as many other countries require nationality for their civil-service jobs.

    These types of arguments overgeneralize and misrepresent the situation, as opponents point out. Namely, that if Japan had nationality laws like its fellow developed countries, there wouldn’t be more than a quarter of a million “Zainichis” lying in legal limbo for five generations now. They would be citizens already and eligible to take the exams anyway.

    So the Nationality Clause is being slowly been done away with in municipalities (except those with bunker mentalities towards internationalization, such as Tokyo Met). Can’t be done soon enough, in my view.

    REFERENTIAL WEBSITES:
    OTHER MOVES BY LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO ABOLISH THE NATIONALITY CLAUSE
    (Kobe, Kochi, Osaka, Kawasaki)
    http://www.debito.org/ninkiseiupdate1hiring.html

    MORE ON CHONG HYANG GYUN CASE
    ZNet February 4, 2005
    http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=17&ItemID=7178
    More historical links (1995) from:
    http://www.debito.org/ninkiseiupdate1hiring.html
    In her own words at Debito.org (Japanese):
    http://www.debito.org/chongsanessay.html

    AN APPRAISAL OF JAPAN’S ASSIMILATION POLICIES, MENTIONING THE NATIONALITY CLAUSEPASSIM (Japan Focus, January 12, 2006) http://www.debito.org/japanfocus011206.html

    LIKEWISE PROBLEMS WITH JAPAN’S TREATMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RESIDENTS, AND PROPOSED SOLUTIONS (again passim) http://www.debito.org/handout.html

    Meanwhile, not quite a campaign issue in Japan’s upcoming April 8 elections yet (drowned out under all the “yoroshiku”s), the “foreign” question is still something a thoughtful candidate will bring up if the audience is foreign:

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    4) TOKYO GOVERNORSHIP RACE HEATS UP:
    ASANO DECRIES ISHIHARA’S XENOPHOBIA

    More good news. We have a rival for Ishihara’s job who explicitly sees his foreigner bashing as a campaign issue, and is willing to offer an alternative. He’s even making our arguments! Excellent! Get out the vote if you and yours are voters in Tokyo!

    ============================
    ASANO WAXES FRIENDLY, SLAMS ISHIHARA’S SLURS
    The Japan Times, March 20, 2007

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070320a3.html

    Shiro Asano, a candidate in next month’s Tokyo gubernatorial election, promises that if elected, he will work to make the capital a place that is friendly to the elderly, children, disabled–and even foreigners.

    At a press conference Monday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo, Asano criticized the incumbent, Shintaro Ishihara, for his repeated discriminatory remarks against people of different nationalities, particularly Chinese and Koreans.

    “It’s a big problem that the governor of Tokyo pointed the finger at specific nationalities and (suggested) the majority of them are criminals,” said Asano, a former Miyagi governor.

    “Many foreign nationals live in Tokyo because they love Japan. They also pay taxes here, and we shouldn’t ignore that,” he said. “What will be important is to come up with ways in which we can provide opportunities for them to make full use of their strength for Tokyo and Japan.”…
    ============================

    A quick digression, from Japundit.com March 28, 2007:

    ANARCHY IN THE YOU TUBE:
    ============================
    Probably one of the most hilarious things I have seen in Japanese politics: a candidate in Tokyo gubernatorial elections topped YouTube’s most viewed videos of Monday 26th March! The video got 44 honors including the 8th top rated video of the day, and the 1st top rated Japanese video this month. This bald fellow, called Kouichi Toyama, is a pure anarchist who promises to overthrow the system if he gets elected.
    ============================
    http://japundit.com/archives/2007/03/28/5478/

    COMMENT: Yes, it’s a hilarious video (love the ending), but my “Spidey Sense” is tingling here for some reason–and it’s not because of any xenophobic sentiment (Toyama is just anti-establishment, not explicitly anti-foreign). The Internet is causing huge leaks in the more tidy cartelized media worldwide. And given this guy is getting a lot of exposure from the 2-Channel-troll sector of the public (there are several parodies of his video already online), I have the feeling this guy is going to get a lot of spoiler votes–not enough to get him elected, but more than we might anticipate. Given that voter apathy can easily turn into anger anywhere, I suggest we look at his results on April 8 as a bellwether of just how deep the anger goes in Japan.

    Have the feeling we’ll be seeing more of this guy. Especially since it’s business as usual in the highest echelons of government…

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    5) PM ABE: “OK OK, I APOLOGIZE FOR THE ‘COMFORT WOMEN’ ALREADY”. KINDA.

    In a regular pattern seen as “smoothing things over for the time being”:

    ============================
    ABE APOLOGIZES TO SEX SLAVES
    March 26, 2007. Mainichi Shinbun

    http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20070326p2a00m0na030000c.html

    http://www.debito.org/?p=293
    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, under fire for denying that Japan forced women to work as sex slaves during World War II, offered a new apology Monday for the front line military brothels.

    “I apologize here and now as prime minister,” Abe told a parliamentary committee, according to his spokesman Hiroshi Suzuki….
    ============================

    COMMENT: Soooo… let’s trace the Arc of Abe. From denial to hair-splitting to no comment to deflection to apology–er, through his cabinet.

    However, belated apologies like this (just by simple human nature, apologies tend to mean less when they come after being demanded, especially over a long duration) will have the irony of a similar debate:

    Just how much “coercion” was there behind Abe’s apology? And how does this affect the sincerity of the act?

    Anyway, it’s a step in the right direction (was there any other direction realistically to step?) More commentary on this development and articles from the Mainichi and Washington Post (which apparently elicited this new Abe response) archived at:
    http://www.debito.org/?p=293

    Trace the whole Arc of Abe yourself at
    http://www.debito.org/?s=Comfort+Women

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    6) ASO: DIPLOMACY AS A MATTER OF HAIR AND EYE COLOR

    More Japanese-elite social science at work. Foreign Minister Aso offers his well-thunked-out theories as to why Japanese would do better than Westerners in the Middle East diplomatically:

    ============================
    JAPAN’S FOREIGN MINISTER: JAPAN DOING WHAT THE US CAN’T
    Associated Press, THE JERUSALEM POST Mar. 22, 2007

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1173879146662&pagename=JPost%2FJP Article%2FShowFull

    Japan’s outspoken foreign minister said “blue-eyed, blond” Westerners probably would not be as successful as the Japanese in Middle East diplomacy, media reported Thursday.

    Taro Aso made the remarks Wednesday during a speech in southwestern Japan, business daily Nikkei reported. National newspaper Mainichi carried a similar report. [NB: Couldn't find either article online in Japanese.]

    “Japan is doing what the Americans can’t do. The Japanese are trusted. It’s probably no good with blue eyes and blond hair,” he was quoted as saying by the papers, referring to projects in Jordan River Rift Valley initiated by Japan.

    “Luckily, we have yellow faces. We have no history of exploitation there or fired a machine gun for once,” Aso said, according to the reports…
    ============================

    COMMENT: Wonder how much the matter of phenotype affects how well Japan gets along in parts of Asia diplomatically? Oh yeah, must be the color of Japanese eyes and hair getting in the way. Race and trust are linked, you see.

    Archive of several articles with commentary on this at
    http://www.debito.org/?p=290

    Followed by an article from the FCCJ website last June talking about Aso’s lack of a lack of a past himself (his Brahmin background, and ancestral wartime involvement in making Asia less diplomatic towards Japan). Plus a NYT Editorial of Feb 13, 2006 demonstrating his lack of diplomatic tact.

    All this thunking couldn’t be due to the shape of his mouth, now could it? It might, if you follow Aso Logic…

    Speaking of body parts:

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    7) MANUAL: BEWARE FOREIGN P*NISES! WITH CHART OF SIZES

    Okay, thought that title would get you reading this post.

    ADVICE TO WOMEN ON WHAT TO AVOID IN RELATIONSHIPS
    INCLUDING FOREIGNERS

    courtesy “JOSHI GAKUSEI DARAKU MANYUARU”
    (“Manual for Women Students Regarding Depravity”)

    Published by Hikou Mondai Kenkyuukai (“Research Institute on the Delinquency Problem”) December 1995. Available at Amazon Japan. Information courtesy Michael H. Fox (thanks).

    Still in print, this manual compares not only compares foreign p*nis sizes, it warns its intended Japanese female audience that having relations with foreigners is problematic because inter alia “they don’t have money”, “their temperament is too strong”, “they want a lot of sex”, and “there are a lot of junkies”.

    See pertinent pages (Arabs are apparently the most well-endowed) scanned at
    http://www.debito.org/joseidarakumanual.html
    (It’s now the second-most accessed site on Debito.org–2-Channellers love it at face value.)

    Courtesy of your unfettered guarantee of freedom of speech in Japan (and the lack of any constraints generally associated with social science, or the Scientific Method). More to come, no doubt.

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    8) DEBITO.ORG UPDATES: KARA KIKAN, NATURALIZATION, APARTMENT “SHIKIKIN” REFUND

    Since the demise of the Issho.org website by Tony Laszlo (the cutie-pie character in manga “My Darling is a Foreigner”–see how fame changes everything at http://www.debito.org/?cat=25), several authors have had trouble with their past work winking out of existence.

    So Debito.org is proud to resurrect an important essay on “Kara Kikan”–how your employment experience (in Japan or abroad) counts towards pensions in Japan. By Steve van Dresser and Stephanie Houghton (written 2002).
    http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#academicjob

    Also resurrected from Steve van Dresser:
    “The Employment Rights of Repeatedly Renewed Private Sector Contract Workers”
    http://www.debito.org/rightsofrepeatedlyrenewed.htm

    ————————————————————-

    NATURALIZATION UPDATE

    To ground things in more context, I’ve taken the liberty to start archiving articles dealing with how other countries (not just the US and Japan) deal with the aspect of citizenship and naturalization.

    Just included some articles on issues cropping up in Canada and Holland (where people are deprived of their citizenship due to technicalities), Austria and the Caribbean (where citizenship is for sale), and Moldova and Rumania (where history has created historical entitlement to emigration and citizenship in the latter).

    http://www.debito.org/naturalization.html#othercountries

    Will web more as I find them. Others are welcome to notify me of articles at debito@debito.org

    ————————————————————-

    “SHIKIKIN” SCAMS BY JAPAN’S LANDLORDS:

    Adapted from mails by Kirk Masden and Joe Tomei:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kumamoto-i/message/4899

    ========================
    TOKYO TO CLEAN UP ACT OF DIRTY LANDLORDS
    The Asahi Shimbun February 7, 2004

    http://www.asahi.com/english/politics/TKY200402070165.html
    For tenants tired of kissing their maintenance deposits goodbye, the Tokyo metropolitan government plans sweeping changes to the shabby system exploited by greedy landlords. There are no clear rules on how much of the costs to clean or repair apartments should be covered by tenants’ deposits.
    ========================

    “Actually, the last sentence is not exactly right. The government has published guidelines:
    http://www.mlit.go.jp/jutakukentiku/house/torikumi/genzyokaifukugaido.pdf
    but the pdf file is 118 pages long. Here’s a couple more in Japanese, from a quick google
    http://www.heyasagase.com/guide/trouble/sikikin/k_02.html
    http://hccweb5.bai.ne.jp/~hea14901/library/link.htm
    http://www.zentaku.or.jp/223/index.htm (issues 12-14, I think)

    “The guidelines (in Japanese) focus on the concept of “genjo kaifuku” (restoration to original condition). According to the guidelines, you are NOT responsible for normal wear and tear. You are only responsible for damage that you did to the apartment beyond normal wear and tear. The guidelines help you figure out what should be considered to be normal wear and tear….”

    More at
    http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#deposit

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    9) MEDIA UPDATES: JET INTERVIEW, DEBITO.ORG MAKES JAPANZINE’S BEST FOR 2007

    Had a chat by Skype over the weekend with Steven, a Miyagi JET. He turned it into a podcast interview, available at
    http://www.bigdaikonpodcast.info/debitointerview25mar07.mp3
    Apologies for the sound quality, but the media is still pretty fledgling at this time. Keep listening–one gets used to it. Discussion of the interview amongst the JETs on BigDaikon at http://bigdaikon.org/board/viewtopic.php?t=92487

    ————————————————————-

    Debito.org gets a mention in JapanZine, the monthly free magazine in the Aichi region, in their March 2007 issue’s “JAPAN ON THE WEB” assessment:

    =====================================
    It’s been nearly ten years now since Japanzine’s first “Japan on the Web” issue, our survey of the most essential websites for people living the dream in the Land of the Rising Sun… The following guide is intended to help you get the most out of the web while you’re here in Japan…

    Special Interest
    Debito Arudou was all over the papers again last month, kicking up a stink over the controversial Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu mook. His website, Debito.org, is a mine of information for social activists and Average Joe foreigners living in Japan. His step-by-step guide to handling random ID checks by the police (http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#checkpoints) is a time-worn classic.
    http://www.seekjapan.jp/article-1/866/Japan+on+the+Web
    =====================================

    Thanks very much for the writeup, JapanZine! Glad you find the stuff up there useful.

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    10) 2-CHANNEL UPDATE: NISHIMURA WILL PAY FINES “ONLY ON PAIN OF DEATH”

    2-Channel’s Admin Nishimura Hiroyuki, now millions of dollars in the hole in terms of court penalties, just keeps the ball right on rolling. According to March 20′s Yomiuri, he won’t follow court orders unless there’s the threat of execution:

    =================================
    “I’LL PAY IF SENTENCED TO DEATH”
    2-CHANNEL BBS ADMIN, REFUSING TO PAY COURT PENALITIES
    Yomiuri Shinbun, March 20, 2007
    (translation by Arudou Debito)

    Nishimura Hiroyuki, 30, administrator of 2-Channel Internet BBS, appeared in Tokyo District Court on March 19 for a civil case against him. His site has been the scene of many malicious email posters, and Nishimura has lost successive lawsuits for libel.

    After the hearing, when asked for comment by a media contingent regarding his unpaid court penalities, he said: “If I would be put to death for not paying, I would. But nothing’s going to happen to me if I don’t pay, so I won’t.” He made very clear his intention not to pay in future.

    Nishimura has up to now been the defendant in more than 50 civil suits nationwide, and the great majority of them have been losses for him. Unpaid damages and penalties assessed for not following injunctions and court rulings have now amassed to around 5 million dollars US.

    However, Nishimura has hardly ever paid up. Justifying this, Nishimura said, “If you turn deadbeat, nobody’s going to make you pay. With rules as stupid as this country has, it would be idiotic to pay up.”
    http://www.debito.org/?p=280
    =================================

    Er, I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again:
    Huh?

    Is this a case of celebrity-status-induced insanity, or is this guy just a child when it comes to social responsibility? In any case, his court fines, according to the March 6, 2007 Yomiuri (http://www.debito.org/?p=252), are 88 man yen per day–or about the equivalent of one lawsuit loss against me every 36 hours! Clearly this is not sustainable.

    More info on how this issue connects with me at
    http://www.debito.org/?cat=21
    http://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    11) CONCLUDING GAIJIN HANZAI ISSUE WITH JT AND J FOCUS ARTICLES

    The Japan Times piece (March 20, 2007) offers a journalistic take on the issue, wrapping it up for posterity at 1500 words (full of images and links at Debito.org).

    DEMISE OF CRIME MAGAZINE HISTORIC
    Gaijin Hanzai’s withdrawal from the market showed real power of ‘newcomers’ for the first time”
    http://www.debito.org/japantimes032007.html

    The Japan Focus piece (also March 20, 2007) is an academic overview for those who came in late at 6000 words.
    “GAIJIN HANZAI MAGAZINE AND HATE SPEECH IN JAPAN:
    The newfound power of Japan’s international residents”

    http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2386

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    and finally…

    JAPANESE ONLY T-SHIRTS ALSO ON SALE IN FRONT OF JR TOKYO STATION

    For those who don’t want to fuss with Paypal or bank transfers, one of my friends is kindly selling my “JAPANESE ONLY” T-shirts from his office right in front of JR Tokyo Station.

    Information on the T-shirts at
    http://www.debito.org/tshirts.html

    For information on where his office is, please contact me at debito@debito.org (he’s a bit gun-shy after too many spam attacks). Thanks.

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Thanks for reading. Seacrest… er… Debito out!
    Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org
    http://www.debito.org
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OF MARCH 30, 2007 ENDS

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    Guardian UK on GAIJIN HANZAI Mag

    Posted on Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

    Hi Blog. Fruition. Debito

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

    Magazine plays to Japanese xenophobia

    Available in mainstream bookstores, magazine targets Iranians, Chinese, Koreans and US servicemen

    Justin McCurry in Tokyo

    Friday February 2, 2007

    Guardian Unlimited (UK) newspaper online

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,2004645,00.html

    PHOTO:Human rights activists say the magazine is indicative of the climate of fear of foreigners created by conservative newspapers and politicians

    The recent release of a glossy magazine devoted to the foreign-led crime wave supposedly gripping Japan has raised fears of a backlash against the country’s foreign community, just as experts are calling for a relaxation of immigration laws to counter rapid population decline.

    Secret Files of Foreigners’ Crimes, published by Eichi, contains more than 100 pages of photographs, animation and articles that, if taken at face value, would make most people think twice about venturing out into the mean streets of Tokyo.

    The magazine, which is available in mainstream bookstores and from Amazon Japan, makes liberal use of racial epithets and provocative headlines directed mainly at favourite targets of Japanese xenophobes: Iranians, Chinese, Koreans and US servicemen.

    Human rights activists said the magazine was indicative of the climate of fear of foreigners created by conservative newspapers and politicians, notably the governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara.

    “It goes beyond being puerile and into the realm of encouraging hatred of foreigners,” Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese citizen, told the Guardian. “The fact that this is available in major bookstores is a definite cause of concern. It would be tantamount to hate speech in some societies.”

    One section is devoted to the alleged tricks foreign-run brothels use to fleece inebriated Japanese salarymen, while another features a comic strip retelling, in graphic detail, the murders of four members of a Japanese family by three Chinese men in 2003.

    An “Alien Criminal Worst 10″ lists notorious crimes involving foreigners from recent years, including the case of Anita Alvarado, the “Chilean geisha” blamed by some for forcing her bureaucrat husband, Yuji Chida, to embezzle an estimated 800m yen from a local government. Mr Chida, who is Japanese, is serving a 13-year prison sentence.

    The magazine’s writers are equally disturbed by the apparent success foreign men have with Japanese women: hence a double-page spread of long-lens photographs of multinational couples in mildly compromising, but apparently consensual, positions.

    Mr Arudou accused the mainstream press of exploiting the supposed rise in foreign crime by failing to challenge official police figures. Although the actual number of crimes has risen, he said, so has the size of the foreign population.

    “The portrayal [of foreign criminals] is not one of a neutral tone,” he said. “They don’t put any of the statistics into perspective and they don’t report drops in certain crimes.”

    The magazine’s publication coincides with warnings more foreigners should be encouraged to live and work in Japan to counter the economic effects of population decline and the greying society.

    The current population of 127 million is expected to drop to below 100 million by 2050, when more than a third of Japanese will be aged over 64.

    “I think we are entering an age of revolutionary change,” Hidenori Sakanaka, director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute and an advocate of greater immigration, said in a recent interview.

    “Our views on how the nation should be and our views on foreigners need to change in order to maintain our society.”

    ENDS

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    Posted in GAIJIN HANZAI mag, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 2 Comments »

    AP primer on Japanese Immigration issues

    Posted on Sunday, January 21st, 2007

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

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

    ////////////////////////////////////////

    Japan Mulls Importing Foreign Workers

    Associated press, courtesy of Salon.com

    By JOSEPH COLEMAN Associated Press Writer

    http://www.salon.com/wire/ap/archive.html?wire=D8MP5VG00.html

    January 20,2007 | OIZUMI, Japan — At the Brazil Plaza shopping center, Carlos Watanabe thinks back on 12 lonely years as a factory worker in Japan — and can’t find a single thing to praise except the cold mug of Kirin lager in his hand.

    He and his bar mates, all Japanese-Brazilian, have plenty of work and steady incomes, but they also have many complaints about their adopted home: that they’re isolated, looked down upon, cold-shouldered by City Hall.

    “I want to go back to Brazil every day, but I don’t go because I don’t have the money,” says Watanabe, 28. “Sometimes I think I should go home, sometimes stay here, sometimes just go to another country.”

    The administrators of Oizumi, 50 miles north of Tokyo, are also dissatisfied: The outsiders don’t speak enough Japanese. They don’t recycle their trash properly. Their kids don’t get along with their Japanese classmates.

    “We want people to study Japanese and learn our rules before coming here,” Oizumi Mayor Hiroshi Hasegawa, whose business card is in Portuguese. “Until the national government decides on an immigration system, it’s going to be really tough.”

    As a town of 42,000 with a 15 percent foreign population, the highest in Japan, Oizumi’s troubles are getting nationwide attention as the country wakes up to a demographic time bomb: In 2005, it became the world’s first leading economy to suffer a decline in population, with 21,408 more deaths than births — the feared onset of what may become a crippling labor shortage at mid-century.

    The prospect of a shrinking, rapidly aging population is spurring a debate about whether Japan — so insular that it once barred foreigners from its shores for two centuries — should open up to more foreign workers.

    Japan’s 2 million registered foreigners, 1.57 percent of the population, are at a record high but minuscule compared with the United States’ 12 percent.

    For the government to increase those numbers would be groundbreaking in a nation conditioned to see itself as racially homogeneous and culturally unique, and to equate “foreign” with crime and social disorder.

    “I think we are entering an age of revolutionary change,” said Hidenori Sakanaka, director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute and a vocal proponent of accepting more outsiders. “Our views on how the nation should be and our views on foreigners need to change in order to maintain our society.”

    Oizumi’s more than 6,500 foreigners, mostly Brazilian, provide a glimpse into what that change might look like.

    Walk down the main drag and it’s obvious this is no typical Japanese town. Among the convenience stores and coffee shops are tattoo parlors and evangelical Christian churches. At the Canta Galo grocery, people line up at an international phone to call family 10,000 miles away.

    The only reason these foreigners are able to be here is their Japanese descent, which entitles them by law to come here as guest workers.

    Watanabe’s grandparents emigrated to Brazil decades ago, and he and his friends stand out in Japan with their non-Japanese features, booming voices and backslapping manners. At 2 a.m., after a night out with friends, his manner becomes even less Japanese — shirt off to expose a hefty belly, howling farewells as he drives off in a beat-up car.

    Not everyone feels as isolated as he does. Another Brazilian, Claudinei Naruishi, has a Japanese wife and two kids, and wants to buy a house. “I like it here,” he says.

    Still, City Hall officials are clearly overwhelmed trying to plug the holes in a social system that seems to assume that everyone living in Japan is Japanese.

    “We’re kind of an experimental region,” said Hiroe Kato, of the town’s international section. “Japanese people want immigrants to come here and live just like us. But foreigners are different.”

    Speaking poor Japanese, they tend to be cut off from their neighbors, unable to — or critics say, unwilling to — communicate with policemen, file tax returns or understand notices to separate plastic garbage from burnables.

    Schooling is compulsory in Japan until age 16, but only for citizens. So foreign kids can skip school with impunity. Arrangements such as special Japanese classes for newcomers are ad hoc and understaffed. Many of the foreigners aren’t entitled to pensions or the same health benefits as Japanese workers because they’re hired through special job brokers.

    Above all, the differences are cultural and rife with stereotypes: Latinos playing music late on weekends; teenagers congregating in the streets at night, alarming police.

    “We have people who don’t follow the rules,” said Mayor Hasegawa. “So then we have a lot of cultural friction.”

    All the same, demographics suggest Japan has little choice but to open the doors a little further.

    The population is 127 million and is forecast to plunge to about 100 million by 2050, when more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older and drawing health and pension benefits. Less than half of Japanese, meanwhile, will be of working age of 15-64.

    Fearing disastrous drops in consumption, production and tax revenues, Japan’s bureaucrats are scrambling to boost the birthrate and get more women and elderly into the work force. But many Japanese are realizing that foreigners must be part of the equation.

    Few support throwing the doors wide open. Instead, they want educated workers, engineers, educators and health professionals, preferably arriving with Japanese-language skills.

    Corporate leaders are prime movers. “We can create high-value and unique services and products by combining the diversity of foreigners and the teamwork of the Japanese,” said Hiroshi Tachibana, senior managing director of Japan’s top business federation, Keidanren.

    But government officials are so touchy about the subject that they deny the country has an immigration policy at all, and insist on speaking of “foreign workers” rather than “immigrants” who might one day demand citizenship.

    Immigration in Japan does not have a happy history. The first wave in modern times came a century or more ago from conquered lands in Korea and China, sometimes in chains as slaves. Those still here — the largest group being Koreans and their descendants — still suffer discrimination and isolation.

    Even today, the policy seems to lack coherent patterns. In 2005, for instance, about 5,000 engineers entered Japan, along with 100,000 “entertainers” — even after that vaguely defined status was tightened because it was being used as a cover for the sex trade and human trafficking.

    Since taking office in September, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has spoken vaguely of opening Japan to the world, but authorities acknowledge they are nowhere near a consensus on how to proceed.

    They don’t want to emulate the U.S. and admit sustained and large-scale immigration, and are wary of France’s recent riots and Germany’s problems with guest workers who were welcomed when jobs were plentiful and now suffer from unemployment.

    “Everybody, I think, is agreed on one thing: We want to attract the `good’ foreigners, and keep out the `bad’ ones,” said Hisashi Toshioka, of the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau.

    Today, Japan’s 302,000 Brazilians are its third-largest foreign minority after Koreans and Chinese. Watanabe and the other foreigners of Oizumi are the human legacy of that policy.

    Instead of a chain of schools to absorb the newcomers into Japan, the reverse seems to be happening.

    In 1999 the Brazilian education company Pitagoras opened a school in Ota, a town neighboring Oizumi, to improve the foreign children’s Portuguese and prepare them for a possible return to Brazil. Japan now has six Pitagoras outlets.

    Maria Lucia Graciano Franca, a teacher at the Ota school, said many of the workers’ children speak neither Portuguese nor Japanese well and have trouble fully adjusting to life in Brazil or Japan.

    “They go back to Brazil, they stay for a while, and they come back here,” she said as children practiced dance moves for a school concert. “And the ones who stay in Japan follow the same route as their parents — they work in the factories.”

    The grown-ups are torn too.

    At the bar at Brazil Plaza on a Saturday afternoon, Watanabe and friends were in a heated debate about whether they could live on Brazil’s minimum wage.

    Opinion was divided between those like Naruishi who feel they’re making it in Japan, and those like Watanabe who long for their homeland.

    Naruishi started out in Japan 13 years ago making tofu and now works in car sales. “Live in Brazil? No,” he said. “The salaries there are too low.”

    But all agreed on one point: Japan is a tough society to break into.

    “The Japanese don’t like foreigners,” said Cleber Parra, 30, who concedes he shares the blame because he doesn’t speak much Japanese. “We’re noisy and lazy — they don’t like that.”

    The group moved onto another bar in the afternoon and evening, then gathered at around 11 p.m. at a club where a live band played “forra,” a type of Brazilian country music.

    After hours of shimmying on the packed dance floor, they spilled into the dark, quiet streets of Oizumi, laughing and chatting. A police car on the watch silently circled the block, red lights flashing.

    ARTICLE ENDS

    Salon provides breaking news articles from the Associated Press as a service to its readers, but does not edit the AP articles it publishes.

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    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 23 2006

    Posted on Friday, September 22nd, 2006

    Good evening all. Arudou Debito in Sapporo here, with a roundup of recent articles I’ve been blogging recently:

    Table of Contents:
    ////////////////////////////////////////
    1) 2-CHANNEL’S DEFENDANT NISHIMURA “DISAPPEARS” (SHISSOU)
    2) J TIMES: FUTURE CONFLICTS ON FOREIGN “OLDCOMERS” AND “NEWCOMERS”
    3) YOMIURI: CRACKDOWN ON FOREIGN BUSINESSES IN COUNTRYSIDE
    4) TOKYO GOV ISHIHARA TO RUN FOR THIRD TERM, DISSES “FOREIGNERS” AGAIN
    5) ASAHI: MURDER SUSPECT TRIES TO BLAME CRIME ON “BLOND” MAN
    6) KITAKYUSHU PROF BLAMES BAD ENGLISH EDUCATION ON FOREIGNERS WHO STAY TOO LONG
    7) AKITA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY ADDED TO BLACKLIST
    ////////////////////////////////////////

    Newsletter dated September 23, 2006
    Freely forwardable

    ////////////////////////////////////////

    1) 2-CHANNEL’S DEFENDANT NISHIMURA “DISAPPEARS” (SHISSOU)

    I updated you last week (http://www.debito.org/?p=30 ) about my lawsuit against Japan’s largest Internet BBS, 2-Channel. Although they lost a libel suit to me last January, Owner and Adminstrator Defendant Nishimura Hiroyuki still hasn’t paid the court-ordered damages, moreover has ignored another series of paperwork my lawyers have filed to enforce the decision. Full details on the lawsuit at http://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html#english

    The news is that I just heard that Nishimura, with his invisible income, numerous personal blogs and online columns, and books published by the likes of Kodansha and Asukii, has made himself invisible. Yes, he’s just plain disappeared. Witness this newspaper article (translation mine):

    ============== BEGINS ==================
    On September 22, it was established that Nishimura Hiroyuki (29), aka “hiroyuki”, administrator and operator of giant Internet BBS “2-Channel”, has disappeared (shissou joutai). This BBS is being run by Nishimura as an individual. Even after government organs have demanded that inappropriate posts be removed, and posters have their whereabouts revealed, [Nishimura] has let these things slide and not responded to orders to appear before courts. The worst case scenario is that “2-Channel”, an emblematic site to Internet industries, may even be shut down.
    =============== ENDS ===================

    I don’t know in what newspaper this appeared (it looks like a screen capture from a TV news show), but it is the genuine article, and visible at http://www.debito.org/nishimuradisappears.jpg

    I have also heard rumors that Nishimura was about to declare personal bankruptcy, and has a gaggle of lawsuits following him to zap any above-board income (royalties etc.) he might legally receive. However, he’ll never be able to open and register a real company. If he does resurface (if he’s even still in the country) and declare himself bankrupt, he’ll apparently even lose the right to vote.

    For the record, I do not support closing 2-Channel down (it is for millions a very valuable network). I only want it to take responsibility for filling the media with irresponsible information, so bad that even Japan’s cautious courts have determined in several cases to be libelous. Continuous evasion of these responsibilities as a member of the media may mean Nishimura gets his in the end. Keep a weather eye on this story…

    ////////////////////////////////////////

    2) J TIMES: FUTURE CONFLICTS ON FOREIGN “OLDCOMERS” AND “NEWCOMERS”

    Reporter Eric Johnston has done it again–another prescient scoop on what may become a pressing domestic issue in future: How a probable influx of foreign labor may cause frictions between foreigners themselves, i.e. the “Oldcomers” (the Zainichi generational foreigners) and the “Newcomers” (overseas-born immigrants, whose numbers are rising as the Zainichis’ fall). Excerpt:

    ============== EXCERPT BEGINS ==================
    “I don’t think you’d see a level of violence between different ethnic groups that you see in other parts of the world because Japanese authorities and society would not tolerate it,” said former Tokyo Immigration Bureau chief Hidenori Sakanaka. “But it’s likely that established foreign residents would discriminate against groups of new foreigners, barring them from apartments, restaurants, or jobs.

    “It’s already happening in cities like Tokyo, but it could become a much bigger problem nationwide in the future,” he said.

    And newcomers facing job discrimination in particular, be it from long-term foreign residents or from Japanese, could find that groups like labor unions that have often been at the forefront of protecting the rights of foreigners may change their attitude if they begin to see foreign labor as a threat.

    “I can see a large influx of foreign workers sparking opposition from Japan’s labor unions,” Sakanaka said.

    “Compared to the Justice Ministry and the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, opposition within the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry to large numbers of foreigners is quite strong, and much of this opposition reflects the opposition that exists in labor unions.” (Japan Times, Sept 12, 2006)
    ============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================

    It also addresses issues such as education, discrimination, public policy, and a lingering ostrich mentality even amongst “progressive” (and Prime-Ministerial-aspiring) Dietmembers such as Kouno Taro. Blogged in full at
    http://www.debito.org/?p=28

    Speaking of internationalization tensions:

    ////////////////////////////////////////

    3) YOMIURI: CRACKDOWN ON FOREIGN BUSINESSES IN COUNTRYSIDE

    Here’s a harbinger of future foreign entrepreneurialism:

    ============== EXCERPT BEGINS ==================
    The Toyama prefectural government has instructed two businesses
    targeting foreign residents to improve their business practices after
    discovering they had disregarded the city planning law, The Yomiuri
    Shimbun has learned.

    The prefectural government intends to issue similar instructions for
    seven other businesses in the near future. If the conditions of the
    instructions are not met, the businesses will be ordered to cease
    operations. If the orders are again ignored, the prefectural
    government will file criminal complaints against them.

    The Construction and Transport Ministry is demanding the prefecture
    also investigate the about 170 such businesses in the area that are
    believed to be on the edge of the law as part of a clampdown on
    businesses encroaching on the countryside…

    The nine businesses for which the guidance has been issued or
    scheduled comprise five used-car dealerships, a mosque, a real estate
    office targeting foreigners, a money exchange business and a
    used-appliance store. The operators of the locations include Japanese,
    Bangladeshis and Pakistanis, among others…

    [And of course, the perfunctory allusion to foreign crime...]

    In the neighboring areas, there are a large number of robberies,
    burglaries and traffic violations committed by foreigners….

    (Yomiuri Sept 13, 2006, http://www.debito.org/?p=29 )
    ============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================

    Goes without saying, but I would expect any businessman regardless of nationality to follow Japan’s zoning laws. But based upon the number of these “shack businesses” I see springing up in the Hokkaido countryside (where our foreign population is miniscule), I can’t help but think that crackdowns and criminal procedures wouldn’t be so considered without the foreign element. Let’s hope these proceedings also target places without mosques and Russian customers…

    Now for a man who really wants foreigners to come to his town–as long as it’s for the Olympics…

    ////////////////////////////////////////

    4) TOKYO GOV ISHIHARA TO RUN FOR THIRD TERM, DISSES “FOREIGNERS” AGAIN

    Yes, the man who never misses an opportunity to slag somebody off (how dare the Fukuoka mayor put in an Olympic bid and compete with Tokyo, the center of the universe!) has decided to run for a third term as Tokyo Governor. Expressly so that he can shepherd his plans through for the 2016 Tokyo Olympics: Tokyo won the bid to be Japan’s champion on August 31.

    That’s fine. But then Ishihara decided to punch below the belt when a critic just happened to be “foreign”:

    ============== EXCERPT BEGINS ==================
    However, Ishihara’s trademark volatility came to the fore when Fukuoka supporter Kang Sang Jung, a professor of political science at the University of Tokyo–and a second-generation Korean born and raised in Japan–criticized Tokyo’s Olympic bid.

    In his pre-vote speech, Kang provoked Ishihara’s ire by asking, “Can we win over world competitors with an Olympics of the rich, by the rich and for the rich?”

    Ishihara replied in his speech, saying: “A scholar of some foreign country said earlier Tokyo has no philosophy. I do not know why.”

    The governor then went on to make his displeasure clear later at a celebratory party, when he dismissed Kang as both “impudent” and an ayashigena gaikokujin (dubious foreigner).

    (Asahi Sept 1, 2006, http://www.debito.org/?p=27 )
    ============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================

    Aim high, shoot low. This caused quite a furor with human rights groups, since Ishihara promised to stop making these types of discriminatory remarks in 2000 after the firestorm wreaked by his “Sankokujin” (basically meaning “lesser-nation foreigners” in vernacular use) Speech to the Self Defense Forces (where he called for foreigner round-ups in the event of a natural disaster). For good measure, on September 15, Ishihara then talked about illegal immigration from the, quote, “sankokujin” all over again.

    People have filed complaints, for what they’re worth (links in Japanese):

    http://news.goo.ne.jp/news/asahi/shakai/20060916/K2006091504340.html?C=S

    http://news.goo.ne.jp/news/asahi/shakai/20060920/K2006092004280.html

    http://www3.to/kmj1

    Can hardly wait to see how Ishihara assesses all the foreigners who come to spend money here during the Olympics… Given Japan’s overreaction to world-class sporting events, viz. the World Cup in 2002, I’m not optimistic.
    http://www.debito.org/WorldCup2002.html

    I’m also not all that optimistic about Ishihara getting the boot in the next election. But one can dream.

    Meanwhile, the beat goes on with people blaming foreigners for their ills:

    ////////////////////////////////////////

    5) ASAHI: MURDER SUSPECT TRIES TO BLAME CRIME ON “BLOND” MAN

    It’s quite a famous case up here in Hokkaido, where a kid from a broken family in Wakkanai, Japan’s northernmost city, apparently tried to get his friend to help kill his mom. It’s a pretty sad case, covered assiduously by the Wide Shows, of yet another example of Japan’s apparent decline in morals. It’s further complicated (as far as this newsletter is concerned) by the following fact:

    ============== EXCERPT BEGINS ==================
    The victim’s son had initially told investigators that he saw a man with blond hair running away from his home, and the first-floor living room appeared to have been ransacked. Investigators suspect that the two attempted to cover up their involvement.

    (Mainichi, Aug 29, 2006, http://www.debito.org/?p=32 )
    ============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================

    Fortunately, the police saw through this. But given the NPA’s long history of targeting foreigners (got lots of links, but I’m not going to include them all in this already long-enough post), I’m happy that they didn’t jump to conclusions (especially given the often-sour relationship between Japanese seaports and disembarking Russians, which I have also catalogued in great detail in the past).

    The point I’m trying to make is this: This is yet another attempt to pin Japanese crime on foreigners. It didn’t work this time, but how many crimes in Japan which are suspected to be committed by “foreigners” are thusly red-herringed? Does wonders for the foreign crime rate. And this is not alarmism–I have archived two other cases in 2004 of “gaijin nasuri tsuke”, one involving a youth gang attack, the other an indolent trucker:
    http://www.debito.org/aichibikergangpatsy.html

    By the way, an interesting note about this article. The original Japanese at

    http://www.mainichi-msn.co.jp/shakai/jiken/news/20060829k0000e040014000c.html

    does NOT mention the blond man at all. It only says that the suspect saw “an unknown man” (mishiranu otoko) running away from the house’s genkan. Well, maybe both the media and the police are becoming more careful about how they investigate things nowadays. Good.

    Now, how about some specious research from our intellectual best and brightest?

    ////////////////////////////////////////

    6) KITAKYUSHU PROF BLAMES BAD ENGLISH EDUCATION ON FOREIGNERS WHO STAY TOO LONG

    Professor Noriguchi Shinichiro of Kitakyushu University (whom I have on very good authority is a very progressive individual) does himself few favors, with one of those navel-gazing essays on how bad Japan’s English-language education is.

    After lashing out at unqualified Japanese teachers, Noriguchi then lumps in foreign instructors as a factor–not for any qualifications they lack, but rather because of qualifications they apparently lose over time:

    ============== EXCERPT BEGINS ==================
    In particular, native speakers who have lived in Japan for more than 10 years tend to have adapted to the system and have become ineffective as teacher–this is also partly because their English has become Japanized and is spoken to suit the ears of their Japanese students.

    (Asahi, Sept 15, 2006, http://www.debito.org/?p=34 )
    ============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================

    I see. A foreigner who is less adjusted is axiomatically more effective. Hmm. Damn those foreigners for becoming used to the system, getting their bearings, and “Japanizing” themselves. How dare they? It’s even unprofessional.

    I guess we can also assume that this means we should not give permanent tenure to foreign faculty in Japanese Universities, because they have a shelf life (instead of a learning curve). It certainly is logic that would happily be used by unscrupulous university employers (I have a list of them at http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html).

    This argument, by the way, is quite similar to the one used by Asahikawa University in a famous precedent-setting lawsuit called the Gwen Gallagher Case (who was fired after more than a decade of service for no longer being, quote, “fresh” enough, see http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkiseigallagher). I wonder if Noriguchi would enjoy being lumped in this kind of company.

    So it’s one prof’s opinion, BFD. Unfortunately, Noriguchi’s essay appeared in one of Japan’s most influential, well-read, and prestigious columns called “Watashi no Shiten” in the Asahi.

    I think he should issue a retraction. You can encourage him to do so via email at
    snori@kitakyu-u.ac.jp
    http://www.kitakyu-u.ac.jp/foreign/in/noriguchishinichiroin.htm

    Speaking of universities:

    ////////////////////////////////////////

    7) AKITA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY ADDED TO BLACKLIST

    The Blacklist of Japanese Universities, a list of tertiary-educational employers who refuse to employ full-time foreign faculty on permanent-tenure terms (i.e. without contract–unlike most universities, which tenure full-time Japanese from Day One of hiring), has just gotten one addition.

    It’s AIU–which has Gregory Clark as its Vice President. More on Clark at

    http://www.debito.org/PALEspring2000.html

    http://www.debito.org/gregoryclarkfabricates.html

    http://www.debito.org/onsensclarkjtimes122599.html

    It’s a bit of a surprise. Akita International University was opened a couple of years ago to offer “a radically new approach to education in Japan”–with classes entirely in English, overseas immersion, and other progressive educational strategies.

    Which is sad because it seems to have lapsed back into bad old systemic habits:

    ==============================================
    NAME OF UNIVERSITY: Akita International University (Private)
    LOCATION: 193-2 Okutsubakidai, Yuwa, Tsubakigawa, Akita-City, Akita
    http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html#aiu

    EMPLOYMENT ABUSE: Despite wanting PhDs (or the equivalent) for faculty, AIU offers 3-year contracted positions with no mention of any possibility of tenure, plus a heavy workload (10 to 15 hours per week, which means the latter amounts to 10 koma class periods), a four-month probationary period, no retirement pay, and job evaluations of allegedly questionable aims. In other words, conditions that are in no visible way different from any other gaijin-contracting “non-international university” in Japan. Except for the lack of retirement pay.

    SOURCE OF INFORMATION: Job advertisement in the Chronicle of Higher Education, dated September 2, 2006. http://chronicle.com/jobs/id.php?id=0000469416-01 (or visit http://www.debito.org/aiudata.html).

    Other unofficial sources of dissent available on the Chronicle’s forums at

    http://chronicle.com/forums/index.php?topic=28632.0

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

    There will be more additions to make to my lists (including the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Businesses) when there’s time. They’ll be on my blog first, of course. Again, to receive things in real time, subscribe at http://www.debito.org/index.php
    ////////////////////////////////////////

    All for today. Thanks very much for reading!

    Arudou Debito
    Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org

    http://www.debito.org

    NEWSLETTER SEPT 23 ENDS

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    J Times Sept 12 06: Johnston on conflicts between “oldcomers” and “newcomer” foreigners

    Posted on Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

    Trouble looms as foreign labor floods in

    Integration issues, conflicts between older, newer arrivals a challenge
    By ERIC JOHNSTON, Staff writer

    Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20060912f1.html

    OSAKA — It’s 2030, and Japan is facing an unprecedented social problem. For the past quarter-century, ever since the population began declining, the government has encouraged the hiring of foreign laborers. But measures to control immigration have failed, and in some towns and villages foreigners now make up more than half the population.

    Long-term foreign residents, who are more prosperous and politically connected than recent arrivals, worry the government is ignoring them and focusing only on the influx of newcomers, while labor unions complain foreign laborers are stealing their jobs.

    As the problems mount, the public and media have begun asking why these problems weren’t anticipated in the first decade of the 21st century, when it became apparent Japan would need foreign workers.

    For the past several years, politicians, bureaucrats, human rights activists and business leaders have been thinking about how to avoid the scenario described above. With Japan’s population now in decline and the need for more foreign labor becoming increasingly apparent, the issue of how to deal with newcomers has become a concern not just for Japanese but for long-term foreign residents, especially Koreans.

    “There’s been much discussion on how to deal with the newcomers, which means those who have come to Japan mostly over the past few decades, and of creating policies for bringing in more foreign laborers,” says Bae Joong Do, a Kawasaki-based Korean rights activist. “But Japan has failed to adequately care for it’s ‘oldcomer’ foreigners who came during, or before, World War II and are now growing old.”

    In March, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry announced a plan to create a society in which Japanese people can coexist with those from other cultures.

    To integrate foreigners into society, both those who are here now and those who may come in the future, the ministry recommends that the central government provide foreign-language information at the local level; offer language classes and courses on Japanese culture and society; provide funding for housing, education, medical care and social welfare; and take steps to improve the work environment for overseas workers.

    In May, a team of experts led by Vice Justice Minister Taro Kono published a report calling for a new immigration policy, one that limits foreigners to 3 percent of the total population and includes language proficiency requirements for foreign workers and their families.

    The report emphasizes the need for skilled foreign labor — people trained in specific technical areas and fluent in Japanese — suggesting that such workers be subject to language testing before being allowed to enter Japan.

    Both reports were generally welcomed by Japanese human rights activists as a first step toward ensuring better treatment of foreign workers, although the Kono report was criticized by some for imposing overly strict conditions for allowing in overseas workers.

    But the reports, and the general tone of recent government discussions on the future of foreign labor, have been a cause for concern among long-term foreign residents.

    Many long-term Korean residents have a special type of permanent residency. But their numbers are declining as they age and as more of their children take Japanese citizenship. In 2001, there were about half a million special permanent residents. Last year there were 452,000.

    On the other hand, the number of more recently arrived foreigners who have become permanent residents is at a record high. There were 184,000 such residents in 2001; by 2005 that figure had climbed by more than 90 percent to 350,000.

    “The balance between older and newer foreigners is shifting rapidly. But those with the most experience in fighting for the human rights of foreigners are often the older ones” says Osaka-based Song Jung Ji, who heads the Multi-Ethnic Human Rights Education Center. “They have long-established relationships with local authorities and worry a large influx of newcomers who don’t understand Japanese or Japan will destroy the progress they’ve made.”

    Is a confrontation between these older and newer arrivals coming?

    “I don’t think you’d see a level of violence between different ethnic groups that you see in other parts of the world because Japanese authorities and society would not tolerate it,” said former Tokyo Immigration Bureau chief Hidenori Sakanaka. “But it’s likely that established foreign residents would discriminate against groups of new foreigners, barring them from apartments, restaurants, or jobs.

    “It’s already happening in cities like Tokyo, but it could become a much bigger problem nationwide in the future,” he said.

    And newcomers facing job discrimination in particular, be it from long-term foreign residents or from Japanese, could find that groups like labor unions that have often been at the forefront of protecting the rights of foreigners may change their attitude if they begin to see foreign labor as a threat.

    “I can see a large influx of foreign workers sparking opposition from Japan’s labor unions,” Sakanaka said.

    “Compared to the Justice Ministry and the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, opposition within the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry to large numbers of foreigners is quite strong, and much of this opposition reflects the opposition that exists in labor unions.”

    Then there is the issue of education. At the local government level, especially in the Chubu region, where many South Americans live and work, concerns are mounting that the children of foreign laborers are growing up without access to a proper education because they don’t speak Japanese.

    In addition, there are fears such children, as well as the children of foreign laborers who come to Japan in the future, will end up without basic language skills, further isolating them from Japanese society.

    “Today, many children of foreign laborers only speak Spanish or Portuguese. This will make it extremely difficult for them to fit into Japanese society, and lead to all sorts of social problems later on. Education, especially Japanese-language education, is vital,” Vice Justice Minister Kono said at a news conference in late July.

    “The reality is that all foreigners currently in Japan, and any future foreign workers, will find themselves isolated and marginalized by both Japanese and long-term foreign residents who are fluent in Japanese if they cannot speak and read Japanese,” said human rights activist Song.

    “How Japan addresses the issue of language and cultural education for new foreigners will determine whether the future of foreign labor is a bright one or a nightmare,” he added.

    But before official discussions on foreign labor go much further, national legislation to outlaw all forms of racial and ethnic discrimination is needed, according to the United Nations and nearly 80 Japan-based human rights organizations, many of which work to protect long-term foreign residents.

    Without such a law, they argue, Japan will have serious problems with new arrivals, regardless of the restrictions on them, their Japanese-language skills or efforts to educate their children.

    But the central government is not seriously considering such legal protections at the moment. In a comment reflective of the views of many senior policymakers and ordinary Japanese, Kono said he did not think such a law would be useful.

    “Even if we were to pass such a law, Japanese attitudes toward foreigners wouldn’t change. It’s more important to change the culture of Japanese society to one that is accepting of foreigners,” Kono said.

    The Japan Times: Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2006

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    Newsweek Japan on Naturalized Japanese–Sept 11, 2006 issue

    Posted on Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

    Excellent article on how Japan is changing as more people naturalize. The article in full follows.

    ==========================
    This is the New Japan
    Immigrants are transforming a once insular society, and more of them are on their way.
    By Christian Caryl and Akiko Kashiwagi
    Newsweek International
    Courtesy http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14640269/site/newsweek/

    Sept. 11, 2006 issue – A few years ago, when Milton Minoru Takahashi first set out to improve conditions for Brazilian guest workers living in Nagoya, he thought he’d be telling Japanese about soccer, samba and Brazilian beaches. They were the sales hooks the Brazilian-Japanese Takahashi—who works for a nonprofit foundation that aids the 60,000 foreigners in Nagoya—thought could open locals’ eyes to the beauties of Brazilian culture. But, he says, “the Japanese didn’t want to hear about those things. They wanted to talk about noise and garbage”—problems allegedly caused by the Brazilian immigrants in their neighborhoods.

    Takahashi now spends most of his time on more mundane tasks, trying to help his fellow Brazilians overcome the bewildering array of barriers to integration into Japanese society. But he still wonders why the Japanese government is largely indifferent to the problems facing foreigners. What would he like to see from Tokyo? “Action,” says Takahashi. Something, anything, to acknowledge that there are immigrants in the country—and that they require recognition and support.

    Takahashi’s frustration underscores a critical disconnect in Japan—a split between what the country is becoming and what most Japanese want it to be. For mostly economic reasons, Japan must open itself to other ethnicities. Japan’s population is not only aging rapidly, but starting to decline. By the year 2050, it is expected to fall from 128 million now to around 105 million. To keep the economy viable, experts say, the country must let in more immigrants—not just guest workers, but foreign-born naturalized citizens. A government panel acknowledged that in a report this summer, while at the same time recommending that the foreign percentage of the total population not exceed 3 percent, roughly double what it is now.

    Consciously or not, ordinary citizens and government bureaucrats still cling to the notion that Japanese society is a unique, homogeneous culture. There is a conspicuous lack of public debate about how this insular country should adjust to the reality that more immigrants are coming—and that those already here are changing Japan. “The government has no [comprehensive] immigration policy,” says Marutei Tsurunen. Rather, the approach is piecemeal, with different agencies issuing often contradictory regulations. Tsurenen should know. He’s a former Finn turned Japanese citizen and the only naturalized member of the national Parliament, or Diet.

    Travel around Japan today, and one sees foreign residents holding a wide range of jobs: there are Chinese short-order cooks, Indian software programmers, Bangladeshi used-car dealers, Brazilian textile-factory workers, Sri Lankan department-store cashiers. The overwhelming majority of the approximately 15,000 ex-foreigners who now hold Japanese citizenship are Chinese and Koreans—but increasingly one can also meet people like Kaoru Miki (formerly Colin Restall, born in the United Kingdom). “Generally people don’t expect someone who looks like me to be a citizen,” says Miki, 33, who makes his living translating software into English. He was naturalized this spring.

    The number of foreigners in Japan has more than doubled over the past 15 years—rising from 886,000 in 1990 to over 2 million today. That amounts to 1.57 percent of the overall population—still small even by Western European standards (not to mention the United States or Canada). But that figure tells only part of the story. The rise in the foreign population is taking place against the background of Japan’s demographic decline; as the population ages, native-born Japanese constitute a diminishing share of the work force. Meanwhile the number of marriages between Japanese and non-Japanese has been rising sharply. So-called international marriages made up 5.5 percent of the total in 2004 (the last year for which data are available).

    The numbers also reveal a growing trend toward what one might call “genuine immigration.” For many decades, the bulk of foreigners in Japan were ethnic Koreans, the vast majority of them born in the country but not automatically entitled to citizenship. In recent years, as their members have either died out or increasingly opted for naturalization, their share of the total number of foreigners has been declining. Meanwhile, so-called permanent residents—foreign-born people who have chosen to live in Japan for the long term—are steadily growing. “It shows that immigrants, not generational foreigners, are now becoming the more common permanent residents in Japan, meaning they’re not going to leave,” says human-rights activist Debito Arudou, a former American turned Japanese citizen. “I used to say half of the foreigners in Japan were born here. Now it’s more like a quarter.”

    And the fundamental consequence, says Arudou, is clear: “We’re going to see people who don’t look Japanese being Japanese. That’s undeniable.” Essentially, any foreigner who has lived in Japan for five years, can prove he or she is in good financial health and has no criminal record can petition the Justice Ministry to become a citizen. In reality, the naturalization process is more complicated, and can take about 1 to 2 years to complete.

    Many Japanese officials seem inclined to address the immigration issue as if it were merely a matter of good public relations with the outside world—let’s be polite to foreigners. In fact, though, immigration is often driven by hardheaded economic realities. Thanks to Japan’s resurgent economy and shrinking population, many industries are suffering from labor shortages, and immigrants are already sustaining sectors where native-born Japanese simply aren’t able or willing to pick up the slack. That’s the case in towns like Hamamatsu, where the local car and motorcycle industries have been buoyed by an influx of foreign labor, and in Ota City, where a Subaru factory and its parts suppliers are located.

    Or take Homigaoka, a suburb of Toyota City, where ethnic Japanese from Brazil make up 5,000 of the 9,000 people living in a vast public-housing development. The Brazilians came to Japan thanks to a 15-year-old law designed to alleviate labor shortages in certain sectors of the economy. These days the Aichi prefecture firms that supply parts to Toyota and other local manufacturers are heavily dependent on the cheap labor provided by Brazilians (many of them now permanent residents who are entitled to stay in the country indefinitely). The magazine Weekly Diamond neatly summed up the situation in a headline recently: WITHOUT FOREIGNERS TOYOTA’S JUST-IN-TIME SYSTEM WOULDN’T WORK. Says Hidenori Sakanaka, a former director of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau: “This labor force is contributing to Japan’s ability to make good and cheap cars.”

    The problem, though, is that these immigrants may not prove so cheap in the long run. Many of the immigrants in Homigaoka are part-time workers who lack the basic health insurance or social security usually enjoyed by full-time employees. A loophole in the law means that their employers can get away without making any contributions on their behalf. Many of them have only limited Japanese-language skills. And there’s no law that compels them to send their children to Japanese public schools, where they might have the chance to gain the know-how that would give them social mobility. Most foreign children attend schools, but their Japanese language skills tend to be weak, and the government has virtually no provisions for teaching Japanese as a foreign language to students entering the system. As a result, the dropout rate is high. Needless to say, the creation of large groups of unemployable young people is a recipe for social problems in the future.

    Or take the burgeoning Indian community in Tokyo’s Edogawa ward. In 1998 the government of then Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori passed a law designed to alleviate a catastrophic shortage of software engineers by easing visa restrictions for programmers from India. Jagmohan Chandrani, 52, who has been living in the area since 1978, says 243 Indians were registered in Edogawa in 2000. Today there are 1,014—a fourfold increase.

    In “Indiatown,” as it’s already being called, the classic immigrant dynamic is beginning to take hold. Newcomers who’ve established themselves offer support networks to the ones that follow—for example, by acting as guarantors when the new arrivals sign housing leases. The majority of the newcomers are writing code for financial firms in downtown Tokyo, a short subway ride across the river. They have confounded the stereotype of poor, unskilled foreigners held by many Japanese.

    Yet members of the community are still desperately seeking a building to house a school for the burgeoning population of children. Tokyo isn’t helping, even though the Indian government in New Delhi provides facilities to the Japanese community there. Technically the Indians can be sent home when their visas (or jobs) run out—although as the growth of the community demonstrates, some will almost certainly find ways to stay on, and bring their relatives with them.

    Five years ago a group of communities with large foreign populations sent a set of urgent policy recommendations to the government. They’re still waiting for an answer. And they’re not the only ones who are worried. Japan’s business leaders are at the forefront of calls for a comprehensive immigration policy. Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has predicted that the present work force of 66 million people will decline by 10 million by the year 2030. Before he stepped down earlier this year, the chairman of the Japanese Business Federation, Hiroshi Okuda, made headlines by calling on the country to accept foreign workers “in all business categories.”

    Immigration proponents do perpetuate the occasional myth. One common misconception: that immigrants alone can counter the demographic decline. Economists say that just isn’t so. Robert Alan Feldman, an economist at Morgan Stanley, points out that immigrant workers almost always have lower productivity than natives, meaning that vast numbers of foreigners have to be brought in to make up the gap. (The solution, he says, is to find ways to encourage greater productivity from underutilized members of the population, such as women and the elderly.)

    And despite the vagaries of life in their new country, most of the foreigners in Japan are living better lives than they would have back home. That’s certainly true of the Brazilians in Homigaoka. Twelve-year-old Editon Arakawa says that he loves living in Japan, even though he can express the thought only in broken Japanese since he dropped out of public school a few years back. “I don’t want to go back to Brazil,” he declares.

    He might well get his wish, and manage to stay. But if he does, it’s in Japan’s own interest to respond to the challenge he poses—by making it easier for people who are born in the country to apply for citizenship; by forcing employers to bear some of the costs for social insurance; by making education mandatory for the children of foreigners legally in the country, and by providing resources to ensure that foreign residents learn Japanese. None of those measures may have been all that critical in the Japan of the past. But they’re the only way to the future.

    © 2006 Newsweek, Inc.
    URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14640269/site/newsweek/page/2/

    ENDS

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

    (NB: Those who would like to see some substantiation for my quote, talking about this sea change in Permanent Residency, see my essay on this last January at
    http://www.debito.org/japanfocus011206.html )

    A couple of quick corrections to the article, if I may: The figure of 15,000 people cited as the total number ofnaturalized people in Japan is the rough estimate of the YEARLY intake of naturalized citizens. According to the Minister of Justice, around 300,000 foreigners (mostly the Zainichis) took citizenship between 1968 and 2000. Update the number by 15K per year and you’re closing in on 400,000 newly-minted Japanese of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

    And former Finn Tsurunen Marutei is not the only naturalized Japanese in the Diet. As friend Chris pointed out, “Renho, formerly of Taiwanese nationality, and Shinkun Park, formerly of Korean nationality, are two other naturalized Dietmembers.”
    http://www.renho.jp/
    http://www.haku-s.net/index.html

    Newsweek has told me they will be issuing corrections in short order.
    ENDS

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