DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 20, 2009

Table of Contents:
NEW PET PEEVES
1) The ludicrousness of Japan’s Salary Bonus System: How it contributes to Japan’s deflationary spiral
2) Health insurance advocate “Free Choice Foundation” is fronting US health insurance business
3) One NJ exchange student’s rotten experience as a J MOE-MEXT ryuugakusei
4) Mainichi: Senior Immigration Bureau officer arrested on suspicion of corruption
5) NPA now charging suspect Ichihashi with Hawker murder, not just “abandoning her corpse”. Why the delay?
6) Bern Mulvey JALT presentation on flawed MEXT university accreditation system

OLD PET PEEVES:
7) Kyodo: GOJ responsible for hardship facing Ainu, incl racial profiling by J police on the street!
8 ) GS on Michael Moore’s rights to complain about being fingerprinted at Japanese border
9) US Congress Lantos HR Commission on J Child Abductions issue: Letters to Obama & Clinton, my submission for Congressional Record
10) UN News: “Ending complacency key to fighting discrimination worldwide”
11) EU Observer: “Racism at shocking levels” in European Union

HOLIDAY TANGENTS:
12) Debito.org Podcast December 20, 2009 (with un-serious articles for a change)
13) Behind the scenes from Copenhagen EcoSummit (COP15), Eric Johnston blog
14) Headachingly bad Japan travelogue by Daily Beast’s “new travel columnist” Jolie Hunt. Whale on it.
15) Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column out Tues January 5, 2010.
Topic: Roundup: The most significant human rights advances in Japan in 2009.

… and finally …
16) SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO column Dec 2009: Top 9 Things I Like about Japan (full text)

Mainichi: Senior Immigration Bureau officer arrested on suspicion of corruption

Let’s look how deep the rot runs. It’s not just human traffickers bringing in NJ on “Entertainer Visas” sponsored by the State. It’s not just factories bringing in NJ on “Trainee and Researcher Visas” to exploit as sweatshop labor — again, sponsored by the State. It’s even now according to the Mainichi article below the Immigration Bureau profiteering, using their power for rents-seeking (in the academic sense) to skim off money again from migrants.

Although not an elixir for all these problems, an Immigration Ministry with clear immigration policies (and not mere policing powers, given how unaccountable the Japanese police are; even below an “internal investigation” has been promised; bah!) would in my view help matters.

The big losers are of course the commodities in these exchanges — people, i.e. the NJ, who are here at the whim, pleasure, and profit of the powers that be. Sickening.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 25, 2009

Table of Contents:
DISCRIMINATION TOPICS
1) UN CERD Questions to GOJ re elimination of racial discrim (CERD/C/JPN/Q/3-6 Nov 17 2009)
2) NPR interview with Jake Adelstein, author “Tokyo Vice”, on how police and laws do not stop NJ human trafficking in Japan
3) “Japanese speakers only” Kyoto exclusionary hotel stands by its rules, says it’s doing nothing unlawful
4) UPDATE: Kyoto Tourist Association replies, tells Kyoto hotel “Kyou no Yado” to stop “Japanese speakers only” rules

IMMIGRATION TOPICS
5) AFP: PM Hatoyama strongly hints he wants immigration to Japan (bonus: PM Hatoyama Newsletter Nov 4)
6) Ruling coalition currently not considering NJ human rights laws beyond PR suffrage: Dietmember Aihara
7) Mainichi: DPJ split over bill to give NJ permanent residents right to vote
8 ) Mainichi: Schools for foreigners, technical colleges included in DPJ’s free high school lesson plan. IF already MOE “accredited”
9) Xinhua & Chosun Ilbo: South Korea has drafted dual nationality laws
10) Scotchneat on Fuji TV show laying blind biological claims to intellectual Asian kids abroad

UPDATED TOPICS
11) TODAY show (USA) on Savoie Child Abduction Case: father Chris’s treatment by J police, return to US, aftermath
12) Mutantfrog’s Joe Jones’s excellent discussion of rights and wrongs of divorce in Japan; causes stark conclusions for me
13) Brief essay on Nov 13 Hatoyama-Obama press conference; discussion of Obama’s Japan visit

OFFBEAT TOPICS
14) DEBITO.ORG POLL: What do you think about Obama’s “deep bow cum handshake” with the Emperor?
15) Tangent: Korea Herald: Attitudes in Korea towards budget travelers: open up love hotels?
16) Holiday Tangent: Delightful Maure Memorial Museum in the middle of nowhere, Hokkaido

DEBITO.ORG TOPICS
17) All of DEBITO.ORG’S PODCASTS are now available at iTunes, subscribe for free
18) Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out Tues Dec 1, on advice to DPJ re NJ policies

… and finally …
19) Sunday Tangent: SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO Column on the power of humor and how it preserves sanity (full text)

Ruling coalition currently not considering NJ human rights laws beyond PR suffrage: Dietmember Aihara

I had a conversation with Upper House Dietmember Aihara Kumiko (62, from Hokkaido, elected 2007 on Proportional Representation) yesterday. With a labor union background, she has an eye on a number of human rights issues, including the Nikkei Visa and NJ “Trainee” Programs.

I took the opportunity to ask about a few things that are overdue for NJ resident rights in Japan (which the recent polls on Debito.org cover), namely:

Japan signing the Hague Convention on Child Abductions

Japan passing the long-proposed general law protecting human rights (jinken yougo houan)

Japan passing a law against racial discrimination

Japan approving local suffrage for NJ residents with Permanent Residency

She answered that the DPJ ruling coalition would be submitting the bill for local suffrage in next year’s Diet session.

The other three were currently not being considered in any committee or study group at this time. I asked when they might be, and she didn’t know.

Just letting readers of Debito.org know.

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

THE OTARU ONSENS LAWSUIT, TEN YEARS ON: Article for Japonesia Review

Today is the tenth anniversary of our visit, on September 19, 1999, to “Japanese Only” Yunohana Onsen et al in Otaru, a life-changing event that to this day has not been fully resolved — mainly because we still don’t have a law against racial discrimination in Japan. This situation remains more than 13 years after Japan effecting of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, where it promised to take “all measures, including legislation” to effectively eliminate all forms of RD. And it deserves comment and reflection after years of protests, two books, countless articles, and successful lawsuits against the onsen (albeit not against the negligent City of Otaru).

My thoughts on this day are bittersweet. I know we did the right thing (as Olaf noted, when I called him today, people are still talking about the case), and we had a good outcome in court. But I judge things like this based upon whether or not they could ever happen again. The answer is, unfortunately, yes. After all, all Yunohana Onsen has to do is put up another “Japanese Only” sign and we’d have to take them to court all over again just to get it down. There is no law to stop it, nothing for authorities to enforce. Ten years later, it feels more overdue now than in 1999.

TITLE: THE OTARU ONSENS LAWSUIT: TEN YEARS ON

What has and has not changed regarding human rights for Non-Japanese in Japan…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 18, 2009

SPECIAL ON EXCLUSIONISM AND TARGETING
EXCLUSIONISM
1) Mainichi: Shizuoka bureaucrats force Brazilian woman to take “Repatriation Bribe”
2) American journalist banned from “Japanese Only” Toyota press conference in America!
3) Kyodo & JT: Osaka JH school reluctantly takes preteen NJ kid despite teacher opposition!
4) J population drops, Internal Ministry converts it into rise, excludes NJ from tally.
5) Interview with the Berlin Institute for Population and Development re Japan’s int’l future
6) BBC: British furniture store puts up “no foreign students” sign (parallels with Otaru Onsens Case)
7) Japan Times: NJ visas now contingent on enrollment in Japan’s health insurance program starting April 2010
8 ) Contrast: Naturalized Caucasian Korean becomes SK’s National Tourism Org leader

TARGETING
9) Collating update: upcoming IC Gaijin Cards, RFID hackability, next generation police walkie-talkie, and NPA access to TASPO information
10) Debito.org reader Brian reports on Shinjuku Police 9-day incarceration of 74-year-old tourist for pocket knife
11) SITYS: Japan Times confirms that 74-year-old tourist WAS indeed incarcerated for 10 days for carrying a pocket knife
12) Update: Ibaraki Police’s third new NJ-scare poster
13) Comparison: Open Society Institute report on police racial profiling in France
14) Yomiuri, Sankei, FNN: Sakai Noriko’s husband fingers NJ dealers as source of their drug habit
15) Japan Times: New “lay judge” court system sentences first NJ
16) Economist.com: Far higher proportion of NJ in Japanese prison than proportion of population
17) Freeman offers specific dialogs to deal with J police during Gaijin Card Check

… and finally…
18) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column: “Unlike Humans, Swine Flu is Indiscriminate” (full text)

Mainichi: Shizuoka bureaucrats force Brazilian woman to take “Repatriation Bribe”

Case number #4534 of why one does not allow untrained bureaucrats to make Immigration decisions: The potential for misunderstanding and abuse.

Last April, the GOJ decided to offer unemployed Nikkei workers (only — this did not apply to Chinese etc. “Trainees and Researchers” because they did not have the correct blood) a 300,000 yen Repatriation Bribe for airplane tickets “back home”, not only asking them to void their visas and give up their paid-in pensions, but also to go elsewhere and just be somebody else’s problem.

Now, according to the Mainichi of Sept 14, 2009, a local government tried to make any possible welfare benefits to a NJ contingent upon promising to take the Bribe and go home — a Catch-22 if ever there was one.

Not too surprising. This is the same prefecture which around up to ten years ago restricted or denied NJ the right to sign up for the National Health Insurance (kokumin kenkou hoken) because they weren’t “kokumin” (citizens) .

Fortunately, this case came out in the press. How many others have been duped here and elsewhere and forced to go home without it being reported? Shame on the GOJ for creating this policy avenue for abuse in the first place.

Interview with the Berlin Institute for Population and Development

INTERVIEW WITH THE BERLIN INSTITUTE FOR POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT:

Q: But if Japan decides it does not want or need immigrants – what is wrong with that?

ARUDOU: Because it doesn’t reflect reality. We have had a UN report that stated, at least one Prime Minister who acknowledged, and several important domestic organizations who admitted, that Japan needs immigration. Now. Our society is aging and our tax base is decreasing. We are on the cusp of a demographic nightmare, a future with a society that cannot pay or take care of itself. Either way, people will come here, even if it means they find an enfeebled or empty island to live in. Might as well do it now while we have more energy and choices.

The people who represent us or make decisions for us are not necessarily that receptive to understand that people who appear to be different are not a threat. We cannot expect them to lead us to a world they cannot envision. It’s our country, too…

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 17 July 7 2009 on Roppongi Urine Samples: “Cops crack down with ‘I pee’ checks”

The Law regarding Roppongi Urine Sampling and “Random Searches”:

Police cannot search your person, property or possessions without a warrant. Ask for one: “Reijou ga arimasu ka?”

If they threaten to take you to a police box for questioning, refuse and don’t move. Police cannot force you to go anywhere without a formal arrest (taiho).

But be careful. Do not raise your voice. And never ever touch the cop, or they could arrest you for “obstruction of duty.” This is why sometimes you see street standoffs between cops and questionees during which nobody moves or talks until somebody gets tired and goes home.

Know your rights by checking out www.debito.org/whattodoif.html, or read more in our “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants.” But don’t assume the police will give the public the same cooperation they demand from the public. Accountability gets in the way of their modus operandi. Laws protecting people against invasive procedures interfere with keeping the streets safe from foreigners.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 27, 2009

IC CHIP GAIJIN CARDS
1) Japan Times: New Gaijin Cards bill looks set to pass Diet
2) Japan Times: New IC Chip Gaijin Card passes Lower House, expected to pass Upper too
3) Text of proposed amendments to new Immigration Law, including IC Chip Gaijin Cards
Plus NEWS FLASH on upcoming Japan Times articles
4) MMT on Aso Admin’s plans for “secure society”: reforms in five areas. But not immigration.

J MEDIA SPOILS PUBLIC IMAGE OF NJ
5) NHK’s “Cool Japan” keeps their guest NJ commentators naive and ignorant
6) Japan Today feature on how media focus on crime negatively impacts upon NJ
7) NPR’s Geoff Nunberg on semantics and their control over public debate

INJUSTICE
8 ) Kyodo: 34 NJ “Trainees” died FY 2008, 16 from suspected overwork, up from 13 FY 2007
9) Anonymous re Scott Tucker, killed in a Tokyo bar by a man who got a suspended sentence.
10) Tangent: Japan Times on crackdowns on students at Hosei University

GOOD NEWS?
11) Bernama.com on new proposed “points system” for NJ work visas
12) Teigaku Kyuufukin: Have you collected your 12,000 yen tax kickback yet?

… and finally… JUST FOR FUN
14) Japanpodshow: Podcast on Arudou Debito by Joseph Tame
15) Sapporo Source DEBITO Column June 2009 on Hokkaido Winters

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 11, 2009

IMMIGRATION AND JAPAN’S FUTURE
1) DIJ Tokyo Symposium 2009: Japan’s Demographic Science overtaken by anti-immigration politics
2) Tokyo Trip June 2-5 overview, plus report on NJ nurses and caregiver program talks at DIJ
3) Asahi: More NJ “trainees”, “interns” face dismissal
4) Mainichi: Foreign researchers, tech experts may get preferential immigration treatment
5) Asahi on future of Japanese pension plans: oldies below poverty line
6) Sunday Tangent: Shinjuku-ku issues its own quadralingual guidebook to life in Tokyo
7) Protest IC Chipped Gaijin Cards every Tuesday anytime between 9AM-12:30PM, Diet Building, Tokyo

TANGENTS
8 ) Sunday Tangent: DPJ submits bill to limit seshuu seijika (hereditary politicians)
9) Japan Today Kuchikomi: Oddly includes NJ stats in article on gang rape at Kyoto U of Education
10) Sugaya Case: M-J on policing and Japanese jurisprudence

FOLLOW-UPS
11) Bankrupt Eikaiwa NOVA’s Saruhashi admits wrongdoing in court
12) Sumo Stablemaster gets his for Tokitaizan hazing death
13) More on fingerprinting, tracking people electronically, and RFID technology

… and finally…
14) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Jun 2 2009: “The issue that dares not speak its name” (full text)

Revamped article on the Nikkei Repatriation Bribe

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

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

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

Amnesty Intl May 24 Tokyo protest against Diet bills under deliberation to further police NJ residents

Here’s a nice roundup from Amnesty International about upcoming GOJ proposals for further policing NJ residents, and what you can do to protest them. Amnesty International says:

Say no to immigration law revision!

An assembly and rally will be held to protest amendments to the law.
Everyone is welcome to attend!

Date : May 24th (Sun) 14:00-15:30
Assembly 16:00-17:00 Rally
Place : Koutsu Biru (Tokyo, Minato-ku, Shimbashi5-15-5) 6minutes’ walk from Shimbashi station (JR Line, Karasumori-guchi)

This is information from Amnesty International Japan regarding controversial bills under discussion in the Diet to impose tighter control on foreign residents. Brochures with background on the issue in different languages are available in this blog entry:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 19, 2009

JAPAN SLOWLY RUNNING DOWN
1) Economist: First mention of Japan’s “two lost decades”:
Calls into question efficacy of “Japan Inc” business model
2) Mainichi: Kofu Laundry taken to cleaners over abuses of Chinese “trainees”
3) See I told you so #2: Oct-Jan 1000 “Trainees” repatriated, returning to debts.
4) Yomiuri: NJ students brought to J universities by the bushelful, but given little job assistance
5) In contrast: Korea Times: South Korea proposes dual citizenship

HISTORY AND HISTORICAL EVENTS
6) Japan Times on the Calderon Noriko Case: “The Battle for Japan’s Future” and fascist demo on YouTube
7) Calderon Case: Two protesters against right-wing demo arrested, supporters group established
8 ) Sunday Tangent: NPR interview with late scholar John Hope Franklin: feel the parallels
9) Peru’s Fujimori really gets his: 25 years jail for death squads

PLEAS FOR HELP
10) Michael Collison Case: “Fired from Interac after death of infant daughter”
11) Friend requests advice on how to approach JHS PTA, regarding repainting rundown school
12) Filmmaker requests interviewees for documentary on NJ visa overstayers

… and finally…
13) Sapporo Screening of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES Thurs Apr 23 7PM HIBA
14) Japan Times on Tokyo Takadanobaba SOUR STRAWBERRIES screening

Yomiuri: NJ students brought to J universities by the bushelful, but given little job assistance

Yomiuri: According to the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), the number of foreign students studying in Japan at universities, graduate schools and junior colleges has been on the rise in recent years. As of May 1 last year, a record 123,829 foreign students were studying in Japan, up 5,331 from the previous year. About 60 percent of the foreign students came from China, followed by students from South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam, according to JASSO.

Many students from Asia hope to work in Japan. However, only 10,262 students were able to obtain working visas in 2007 after finding jobs. Many students ended up returning to their home countries after failing to find work.

The employment situation for foreign students has gone from bad to worse due to the economic downturn. According to the Tokyo Employment Service Center for Foreigners–a job-placement office for foreign residents–there were 252 job listings targeting foreign students graduating in March available at the center as of Jan. 31, down 54 from the same period last year.

COMMENT: Continuing with the theme of “bringing people over but not taking care of them” (a la the “Trainees” and the Nikkei), here we have GOJ entities beefing enrollment of depopulated Japanese universities with NJ students, then leaving them twisting in the wind when it comes to job searches.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE: Apr 7 2009: ‘Golden parachutes’ for Nikkei only mark failure of race-based policy

Japan Times: Under an emergency measure drawn up by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party only last month, from April 1 the Japanese government is offering nikkei — i.e. workers of Japanese descent on “long-term resident” visas — a repatriation bribe. Applicants get ¥300,000, plus ¥200,000 for each family dependent, if they “return to their own country,” and bonuses if they go back sooner…

Let this scheme sink in for a minute. We now have close to half a million nikkei living here, some of whom have been here up to 20 years, paying in their taxes and social security. They worked long hours at low wages to keep our factories competitive in the world economy. Although these policies have doubled Japan’s foreign population since 1990, few foreigners have been assimilated. Now that markets have soured, foreigners are the first to be laid off, and their unassimilated status has made them unmarketable in the government’s eyes. So now policy has become, “Train 1 percent (5,000) to stay, bribe the rest to be gone and become some other country’s problem.”

Sound a bit odd? Now consider this: This scheme only applies to nikkei, not to other non-Japanese workers also here at Japan’s invitation. Thus it’s the ultimate failure of a “returnee visa” regime founded upon racist paradigms.

Audience reactions to documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES roadshow March 21-April 1

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’m seeing it for myself as the movie tours.

Fun Facts #11: Ekonomisuto estimates 35% of Japan’s population will be over 65 by 2050

While researching stuff on Debito.org, I realized that one source I quote often in my powerpoint presentations has never been blogged: An Ekonomisuto Japan article, dated January 15, 2008, with an amazing estimate.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare estimates that well over a third of the Japanese population (35.7%) will be over 65 years of age by 2050, and the majority of those oldies will be well beyond a working age. Can you imagine over a third of a population above 65 years of age? Who works and who pays taxes, when this many people are retired on pensions or should be? That’s if trends stay as they are, mind. That’s why the GOJ has changed its tune to increasing the NJ population. We’re talking a demographic juggernaut that may ultimately wipe out this country’s productivity and accumulated wealth.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 20, 2009

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

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

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

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

Yomiuri on new “Zairyuu Cards” to replace “Gaijin Cards”

The new policing system for NJ is slowly materializing. In what looks to be a privy leak to the Yomiuri (scooping almost all the other newspapers according to a Google News search; distracted by a drunk Nakagawa and Hillary’s visit?), yesterday’s news had the GOJ proposal for new improved “Gaijin Cards”.

Yomiuri says it’s to “sniff out illegals” and to somehow increase the “convenience” for foreigners (according to the Yomiuri podcast the same day). It’s still to centralize all registration and policing powers within the Justice Ministry, and anyone not a Special Permanent Resident (the Zainichis, which is fine, but Regular Permanent Residents who have no visa issues with workplace etc.) must report minute updates whenever there’s a lifestyle change, on pain of criminal prosecution. Doesn’t sound all that “convenient” to me. I’m also not sure how this will be more effective than the present system in “sniffing out illegals” unless it’s an IC Card able to track people remotely. But that’s not discussed in the article.

I last reported on this on Debito.org nearly a year ago, where I noted among other things that the very rhetoric of the card is “stay” (zairyuu), rather than “residency” (zaijuu). For all the alleged improvements, the gaijin are still only temporary.

One bit of good news included as a bonus in the article is that NJ Trainees are going to be included for protection in the Labor Laws. Good. Finally. Read on.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEB 8, 2009

2-CHANNEL AND DEALING WITH INTERNET BULLIES
1) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Feb 3, 2009: “2channel the bullies’ forum” (full text)
2) Japan Today & Yomiuri: Criminal charges against Internet bullies
3) NYT on “The Trolls among us” and measures against trollery

THE RECESSION BITES
4) JASSO eliminating exchange student funding on medical expenses, meaning sicker ryuugakusei
5) Japan Times/Kyodo: Decrease in NJ “Trainees”

KARMA BITES BACK
6) Sumo wrestler Wakakirin expelled for smoking pot: Why’d it take so long?
7) Newly-elected Tsukuba City Assemblyman Jon Heese on the hows and whys of getting elected in Japan

…and finally…

8 ) Debito.org Poll on whether “discrimination is a right for Japanese people”
…surprising is that 20% effectively say yes.

Documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES Japan Roadshow Feb and March 2009. Contact Debito for a screening.

DOCUMENTARY “SOUR STRAWBERRIES”
“JAPAN’S HIDDEN GUEST WORKERS”
NATIONWIDE ROADSHOW FEBRUARY AND MARCH 2009
MAR 20-31 DEBITO ON TOUR, STOP BY YOUR AREA AND SCREEN?

So far, I will be screening and speaking on the film at the following dates:
==============================================
MON MARCH 23 NUGW SHINBASHI TOKYO
TUES MARCH 24 AMNESTY INT’L AITEN TAKADANOBABA TOKYO
THURS MARCH 26 SHIGA UNIVERSITY
==============================================
If you’d like me to screen in your neighborhood between March 20 and 31, please contact me at debito@debito.org

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!
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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.

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.

NUGW’s Louis Carlet on recent labor union moves

A recent news from labor union NUGW is meaty and timely enough to warrant everyone’s attention. Have a look and see if there’s anything here you’d like to check out. I fully support Louis Carlet and labor unions in Japan, and if you’re not in one, you’re not going to have your employment rights protected in Japan protected, full stop. A link to an essay on why I can say that with such conviction here.

South Korea’s 2007 “Basic Act on Treatment of Foreigners Residing in Korea”. Hello Japan?

In 2007, South Korea passed “The Basic Act on Treatment of Foreigners Residing in Korea”, a law regarding equitable treatment and human rights protections for foreigners and naturalized Koreans. This is on top of government apparatus established specifically to enforce those protections. While I’m sure the system is far from perfect (the UN’s comments below are eerily similar to what goes on in Japan), if South Korea can pass a law on this, so can Japan. Here is more information on it from the ROK and the UN.

Japan Times editorial Oct 6: Japan’s foreign workers

Editorial: The number of regular foreign employees has also leaped to its highest level ever, giving evidence that the new workers are not merely here for a few years, but intend to stay much longer.

More than one-third of all foreign workers are listed as heads of household with contract worker or temporary worker status. This suggests that many of these workers are starting to call Japan home. Workers are still coming over for short-term work, but even those short-termers are working here for increasingly longer periods of time.

Having all workers documented by companies and reported to the government signals a more responsible approach than the often-exploitative conditions for many foreign workers in the past. Though the total percentage still remains small, these workers are integrating more deeply into Japanese workplaces and society. That integration demands better conditions and a more concerted effort to find ways of successful and productive integration. Finding the right way forward on this issue is rather tricky, but can be expedited by focusing on the essentials of work and health.

First of all, it is essential that past problems with foreign workers be resolved. The importing of “trainees” and “interns,” terms often used to cover up exploitative and even illegal work practices in the past, needs closer oversight. Foreign workers should also be enrolled in social insurance, including pensions and health care, on an equal basis with Japanese workers. Contracts, too, need to be better negotiated and clearly written. When contracts are broken, on an individual or large-scale basis, foreign workers should be assured of the same rights as Japanese.

Japan Times July 8 2008 45th Zeit Gist Column: Gaijin as Public Policy Guinea Pig

GAIJIN AS GUINEA PIG
Non-Japanese, with fewer rights, are public policy test dummies
By ARUDOU Debito
Column 45 for the Japan Times Zeit Gist Community Page
Draft Seventeen, “Director’s Cut”, with links to sources
Published July 8, 2008:

Anywhere in the world, non-citizens have fewer legal rights than citizens. Japan’s Supreme Court would agree: On June 2, in a landmark case granting citizenship to Japanese children of unmarried Filipina mothers, judges ruled that Japanese citizenship is necessary “for the protection of basic human rights”.

A shortage of rights for some humans is evident whenever police partake in racial profiling–for example, stopping you for walking, using public transportation, even cycling while gaijin (Zeit Gist Jul. 27, 2004). Japanese citizens are protected against random questioning by the “Police Execution of Duties Act”; requiring probable cause of a crime. But non-citizens, thanks to the Foreign Registry Law, can be questioned at any time, any place, under penalty of arrest (with some caveats; see SIDEBAR below).

The societal damage caused by this, however, isn’t so easily compartmentalized by nationality. Denying legal rights to some people will eventually affect everyone, especially since non-Japanese (NJ) are being used as a proving ground for embryonic public policy. Read more…

J Times: Radical GOJ immigration plan under discussion

Japan Times: 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…

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…

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…

But wait, there’s even more to this excellent article:

GOJ: Chinese are largest NJ group in Japan as of end-2007

Here’s a reversal of the Postwar NJ natural order of things: Japan Times/Kyodo: “Chinese became the largest group of foreign residents in Japan at the end of 2007, outnumbering Koreans, the Immigration Bureau said Tuesday. Of the 2.15 million registered foreigners in Japan, Chinese numbered 606,889, or 28.2 percent, while Koreans totaled 593,489, or 27.6 percent, the bureau said. They were followed by Brazilians, Filipinos and Peruvians…”

SMJ Forum On NJ Rights and Living Standards, Sat June 14, Kawasaki

Solidarity With Migrant Workers Network Japan (SMJ) will hold its biannual national forum on Saturday June 14 (from noon) and Sunday June 15 (from 1pm) at the Kawasaki Kyoiku Bunka Kaikan, near Kawasaki Station. The host, Solidarity With Migrants Japan, has long tackled serious issues facing foreigners living in Japan, including discrimination, violence, visa issues, labor problems and the like. The forum will bring together dozens of groups that handle NJ issues from around the country and even some from other countries.

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

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

Yomiuri: GOJ revising NJ registry and Gaijin Card system: More policing powers, yet no clear NJ “resident” status

Yomiuri reports the change in the old “Gaijin Card” system, extending its validity for up to five years and somehow registering NJ with their J families. The bad news is that this measure, despite claims that it will make life “more convenient” for NJ living in Japan, is mainly a further policing measure. Registration will be centralized in the police forces (not the local municipalities any more), the replacement Cards will have more biometric data and tracking capability (RFID, anyone?), and the “zairyuu” (not “zaijuu”) cards, as labelled, are rhetorically old wine in new bottles. We still have to get beyond seeing NJ in Japan as “not really residents”, and all our protestations thus far clearly have not sunk yet in with policymakers at the national level.

Terrie’s Take 456 on Immigration’s looming crackdown on NJ residents

Terrie’s Take: “Over the last 2 years, there have been a number of legislatory submissions and trial PR balloons floated that indicate that the government is intending to significantly increase its control over foreigners living here. Given that many other countries also impose strict tracking and controls on foreign residents who are not migrants, this wouldn’t necessarily be such a bad thing providing that there was some upside offered such as by those other countries. In particular, Japan needs to make laws and apply the proper enforcement of UN human rights to foreign residents. Rights such as anti-discrimination, right to impartial justice, fair treatment of refugees, proper criminalization of human trafficking, and rights of children are all severely lacking. But these unfortunately don’t seem to be part of the agenda at this time.”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 14, 2008

JUSTICE SERVED, JUSTICE DENIED

1) Moharekar Case: Parents raise questions about baby’s death to Sapporo’s Tenshi Hospital
2) Matthew Lacey Case: Fukuoka police dismiss NJ death by blow to the head as “dehydration” (Yomiuri & Japan Times)
3) Mainichi: Chinese Trainees wage successful back-wage lawsuit against strawberry farm
4) Sankei compares NJ computer operators with toxic Chinese gyouza
5) Update on Valentine Lawsuit High Court Appeal
6) Idubor Case: A conversation with Mrs Idubor about life in Japan, and letters from Mr Idubor from prison specially for Debito.org

ISSUES OF BORDERS AND EFFECTS OF FOREIGN INFLUX

7) Asahi on how the GOJ doesn’t recognize NJ schools for tax funding, and why they should
8) Kyodo on USG pressure on Japan to do more fingerprinting
9) “Japanese Only” sign in Tsukiji Fish Market
10) Japan Times on Tsukiji’s tamping down on tourism
11) Alex Kerr on being a “Yokoso Ambassador” for the GOJ
12) DPJ at odds with itself over NJ voting rights

SPEECHES, PODCASTS, TV SPOTS, AND A BOOK TOUR

13) Italian TV SKY TG 24 on the Sapporo Snow Festival… and racial discrimination in Japan
14) January 22, 2008 speech to Waseda’s Global Institute for Asian Regional Integration, podcast and soundfiles in full
15) HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS on sale March 15, Japan Book Tour March 15 to April 1…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 5, 2007

1) DOCUMENTARY FILM ON CHILD ABDUCTION: TOKYO DEC 11 FUND RAISER
2) NJ FINGERPRINTING POLICY FOLLOW-UP:
a) EUROPEAN AND ANTIPODEAN BUSINESS ORGANIZATIONS LODGE PROTESTS
b) US MILITARY SOFA EXCEPTED FROM FP LAWS
c) PROBABLE USG INVOLVEMENT IN FP POLICY INCEPTION
d) DIET DEBATES ON ANTI-TERROR POLICY NOT OVER YET
e) MOJ MINISTER HATOYAMA JUSTIFIES FP POLICY THRU HIS OWN AL-QAEDA LINKS

3) THE DRAGNET TIGHTENS: USG: PROVE NO CRIMINAL RECORD OVERSEAS FOR GOJ LONG-TERM VISAS
4) JAPAN FOCUS: “JAPAN’S MULTICULTURAL FUTURE OF MIGRANTS BECOMING IMMIGRANTS”
5) JAPAN TIMES: “JAPAN’S UNSCIENTIFIC HUMAN RIGHTS SURVEY”

…and finally…
6) WE ARE BEING LISTENED TO: ARTICLES ON SUMO AND EXCLUSIONARY SPORTS LEAGUES

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 16 2007

1) GOJ’S HUMAN RIGHTS SURVEY WITH ODD QUESTIONS
2) NEW JUSTICE MINISTER TO GET TOUGH ON FOREIGNERS AGAIN
3) UN NEWS: UN PASSES RESOLUTION ON RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
4) UN NEWS: UNHCR URGES HUMAN RIGHTS REVIEW OF EVERY COUNTRY
5) TPR NEWS: SHASETSU COLUMN ON SNAFU AT MOFA
6) LETTER FROM GRASSROOTS UYOKU, DISRUPTERS OF AUG 31 MOFA MEETING
7) “ISSHO KIKAKU REP” TONY LASZLO IN COURRIER JAPON
8) FUN FACTS FROM SEIDENSTICKER’S “TOKYO RISING”

and finally…
9) ACTIVIST REBECCA WALKER ON THE “IDENTITY POLICE”

J Times on new Justice Minister Hatoyama Kunio

The new Justice Minister Hatoyama tells the Japan Times he intends to reverse former Minister Nagase’s proposal for a revolving-door guest worker program. Instead, he proposes more skilled NJ labor (okay) and expresses fears about more NJ crime (not okay). Again, people in charge of this field are ignoring the need for immigration.

Asahi Editorial: Tanaka Hiroshi on treatment of NJ workers

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

JT on GOJ proposals for foreign workers

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 …

Keidanren on Accepting NJ workers (March 2007)

In its opinion paper, “Recommendations on Accepting Non-Japanese Workers,” released in April 2004, Nippon Keidanren recommended that the Japanese government take advantage of the diversified sense of values, experiences and skills of workers from other countries to increase Japan’s capacity to create added value. #1 The Recommendations proposed specific measures regarding facilitating the acceptance of non-Japanese workers in specialized and technical fields and in sectors where future labor shortages in Japan are anticipated, enhancing the Industrial Training Program and the Technical Internship Program, and improving the living conditions of non-Japanese workers in Japan. (Keidanren still, however, does not lose its “revolving-door” attitude towards NJ labor (see Footnote One))…

REPORT: Immigrant children and Japan’s Hair Police

During one of my recent speech tours, I was told by a Nikkei Brazilian student (I will call her Maria) that her sister (call her Nicola) had been victimized by a Japanese high school’s rules. According to Maria, Nicola had been forced by her school to dye her hair weekly because it was not as dark as her peers’. Maria said she herself escaped the Hair Police (she looks more phenotypically “Japanese” than her sister), but Nicola was told to darken and even straighten hers. Although graduated from the high school, Nicola still has not only mental trauma from the ordeal, but also damaged hair which to this day has not recovered. An example of how Japan’s cookie-cutter educational rules are doing a disservice to Japan’s imminent internationalization…

Transcript of FCCJ luncheon w. UN’s Doudou Diene, Feb 26, 2007 (UPDATED)

Transcript of Luncheon with UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene and Arudou Debito, Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, Feb 16, 2007. Now reformatted with links, addendum, and photo.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JAN 12, 2007

1) IMMIGRATION BUREAU VIOLATES PRIVACY OF MARRIAGE,
IN QUESTIONING J SPOUSES FOR LONGER-TERM VISAS
2) ECONOMIST ON THE BASIC EDUCATION LAW’S REFORM
3) BUSINESS CONSORTIUM INTRODUCING IC CHIP SHOPPING DEVICES
4) MORE LABOR ABUSES OF FOREIGN “TRAINEES” COMING TO LIGHT

and finally…

DEBITO’S EXPANDED ITINERARY: UPDATED SCHEDULE WITH OPEN DAYS
GOING THROUGH TOKYO, KANSAI, AND KYUSHU, NEED ME TO SPEAK?