NYT: Hair policing soon to be treated as “racial discrimination” by NYC Commission of Human Rights. Compare with JHS & HS Hair Police in Japan.

NYT: Under new guidelines to be released this week by the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the targeting of people based on their hair or hairstyle, at work, school or in public spaces, will now be considered racial discrimination. The change in law applies to anyone in New York City but is aimed at remedying the disparate treatment of black people; the guidelines specifically mention the right of New Yorkers to maintain their “natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state.”

In practice, the guidelines give legal recourse to individuals who have been harassed, threatened, punished, demoted or fired because of the texture or style of their hair. The city commission can levy penalties up to $250,000 on defendants that are found in violation of the guidelines and there is no cap on damages. The commission can also force internal policy changes and rehirings at offending institutions… (The new guidelines do not interfere with health and safety reasons for wearing hair up or in a net, as long as the rules apply to everyone.)

The guidelines, obtained by The New York Times before their public release, are believed to be the first of their kind in the country. They are based on the argument that hair is inherent to one’s race (and can be closely associated with “racial, ethnic, or cultural identities”) and is therefore protected under the city’s human rights laws, which outlaw discrimination on the basis of race, gender, national origin, religion and other protected classes.

COMMENT: Related to our recent posts by Senaiho about the unchecked bullying power of the self-appointed “Hair Police” in Japan’s secondary education system, here’s how a progressive system deals with it, particularly when it comes to hairstyles in the professional world. New York City’s Human Rights Commission will soon be enforcing guidelines dealing with racial discrimination when it comes to how people choose to wear their hair professionally. And these penalties have real teeth: The NYC HRC can levy fines on companies of up to a quarter-mil, plus damages in court afterwards!

This is, of course, absolutely unimaginable in Japan, where their state-sponsored “Bureau of Human Rights” (Jinken Yougobu) is but a Potemkin system (with no ability to levy penalties, and arbitrary guidelines for launching investigations) that only exists to deflect criticism from overseas that Japan isn’t respecting treaty obligations towards human rights. Consequently people of diversity are forced into an absolutist narrative where “looking Japanese” is not only quantifiable as a standard (e.g., hair must be straight and black), but also enforceable under normalized racial profiling by the Japanese police (which has detained people for “looking foreign” while Japanese). This is why “Embedded Racism” remains so unchecked in Japan. So consider the NYC HRC as a template.

Kyodo: Ryukoku U exchange student denied “No Foreigner” Kyoto apartment in 2013; MOJ in 2015 decides it’s not a violation of human rights!

47News.jp (article below) reports that the Ministry of Justice Legal Affairs Bureau has refused to acknowledge “No Foreigners” apartments as a violation of human rights. This is the outcome of a case back in 2013, where an exchange student at Ryuukoku University was denied a flat despite going through the Student Union, and he took it to the Bureau of Human Rights for the official word on the subject. More than two years later (presumably the poor chap wasn’t living on the street in the interim), the MOJ determined that the foreigner-averse landlord had not violated anyone’s human rights, refusing to elaborate further. Great. Job well done and great precedent set, BOHR.

Two things of note: One is a media bias. Note how once again the 47News.jp article portrays the issue incorrectly in this scan of the sidebar illustration: It’s not “Foreigner Discrimination” (gaikokujin sabetsu no jirei). It’s racial discrimination, because the first case they cite (the Otaru Onsens Case in 1999) eventually has a Japanese being refused too. Yet the Japanese media will almost always refuse to undermine the incorrect narrative that racial discrimination never happens in Japan.

Second thing is that Japan’s generally ineffective Potemkin Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu) has a long history of blind-eyeing the very thing it’s charged with protecting against. As further evidence of its ineffectuality – even complicity with discriminators – here is an example where the Sapporo BOHR advised a local government (Otaru) that it has no legal obligation to pass ordinance against racial discrimination, only suggesting that the city make such an ordinance if it considers it necessary. This is a scan of a BOHR document from my book “Japanese Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan” (Tokyo: Akashi Shoten) , pg. 347 in the English version:

Further, the BOHR has denied information to claimants on the pretext of protecting claimants from their own privacy, so I wholeheartedly agree with the exchange student’s complaints about the lack of transparency. So this latest event of saying a blanket exclusionary policy as not a violation of human rights is but one more example to record on Debito.org for posterity.

Ministry of Justice Bureau of Human Rights 2014 on raising public awareness of NJ human rights (full site scanned with analysis: it’s underwhelming business as usual)

DEBITO.ORG READER AM: Debito, I saw an internet banner ad on the asahi.com website that along with a cartoon figure, posed the question “gaikokujin no jinken mamotteru?” [Are you protecting the human rights of NJ?] I thought I must have been seeing things, but clicking through I landed on a Japan Ministry of Justice page offering advice on how to protect the rights of non-Japanese.
http://www.moj.go.jp/JINKEN/jinken04_00101.html
It seems that this is a campaign is part of Japan’s push to ready the country for the 2020 Olympics, addressing issues such as ryokan denying service to non Japanese. Definitely a nice change from the focus on hooliganism leading up to the World Cup in 2002.

DEBITO: I would agree. It’s much better to see Non-Japanese as people with rights than as rapacious and devious criminals who deserve no rights because, according to the Ministry of Justice’s own surveys, NJ aren’t as equally human as Japanese. And this is not the first antidiscrimination campaign by the Japanese Government, in the guise of the mostly-potemkin Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu, or BOHR) nominally assigned to protect human rights in Japan (which, as Debito.org has pointed out before, have put out some pretty biased and insensitive campaigns specifically regarding NJ residents in Japan). And did I mention the Japanese Government in general has a habit of portraying important international issues in very biased ways if there’s ever a chance of NJ anywhere getting equal treatment or having any alleged power over Japanese people? It’s rarely a level playing field or a fair fight in Japan’s debate arenas or awareness campaigns.

So now that it’s 2014, and another influential Olympics looms, how does the BOHR do this time? (And I bother with this periodic evaluation because the Japanese Government DOES watch what we do here at Debito.org, and makes modifications after sufficient embarrassments…) I’ll take screen captures of the whole site, since they have a habit of disappearing after appearing here. Here’s the top page:

CONCLUSION: Again, much talk about NJ and their lives here with minimized involvement of the NJ themselves. As my friend noted, it’s better this than having NJ openly denigrated or treated as a social threat. However, having them being treated as visitors, or as animals that need pacifying through Wajin interlocutors, is not exactly what I’d call terribly progressive steps, or even good social science. But that’s what the BOHR, as I mentioned above, keeps doing year after year, and it keeps their line items funded and their underwhelming claims of progressive action to the United Nations window-dressed.

GOJ Human Rights Week commemorative pamphlet includes NJ issues of discrimination

Good news, of sorts. Today starts Japan’s official “Human Rights Week” (Jinken Shuukan), when the GOJ spends money (and claims to the UN national campaigns of awareness raising) to promote issues of human rights.

The Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu), the window-dressing department within the Ministry of Justice entrusted to spend tax money but not actually enforce any human rights mandate, usually glosses over discrimination against NJ (heaven forfend they actually use the breathtaking word “racial discrimination”!) as a matter of cultural misunderstandings (a wonderful way to reduce the issue down to next to nothing), and holds it low regard in comparison to issues of actual discrimination against Burakumin, Ainu, the handicapped, etc. This has been reflected in GOJ human rights surveys and past “awareness-raising” campaigns in previous Human Rights Weeks.

So it comes as a welcome surprise that this year the GOJ has issued a commemorative pamphlet including discrimination against NJ as a real issue. Of course, the old bone about “cultural issues” is still there to dilute the Truth Octane. But it’s a start.

Well, actually, looking over information from last year, it’s not that much of a change. Except that the BOHR site now actually includes on its official website a new video game for its cartoon characters, called “The Grand Adventure in Human Rights Land”! Have a play! Hey, it’s your taxes, might as well use them.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 18, 2019

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

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

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

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

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 4, 2015

Table of Contents:
GOOD NEWS
1) Debito.org Post #2500: Dr. M.G. “Bucky” Sheftall’s speeches at the opening of “Kamikaze” suicide pilots exhibit aboard USS Missouri, Apr 10 and 11, 2015
2) Kyodo: Summary Court overturns fine levied on Filipino-Japanese man after Osaka police botch assault probe — that punished him for defending himself against drunk Japanese assailants!

SAME OLD, SAME OLD
3) Tokyo sushi shop Mizutani, with 2 Michelin stars, refuses NJ customers; awaiting Michelin Guides’ response
4) Kyodo: Ryukoku U exchange student denied “No Foreigner” Kyoto apartment in 2013; MOJ in 2015 decides it’s not a violation of human rights!
5) FCCJ’s Number One Shimbun on how GOJ is leaning on critical foreign correspondents (incl. accusing them of being on Chinese payroll!)

AN INTERESTING TANGENT
6) 1912 essay: “Japanese Children are no Menace in Hawaii” (from a “Prosperity-Sharing System for Plantation Laborers” handbook), with surprisingly inclusive arguments
… and finally…
7) My Japan Times JBC Column 86 April 6, 2015: “Japan makes more sense through a religious lens”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 4, 2014

Table of Contents:
1) Ministry of Justice Bureau of Human Rights 2014 on raising public awareness of NJ human rights (full site scanned with analysis: it’s underwhelming business as usual)
2) “Japanese Only” nightclubs “W” in Nagoya and newly-opening “CLUB Leopard” in Hiroshima
3) Japan Procter & Gamble’s racialized laundry detergent ad: “Cinderella and the Nose Ballroom Dance”
4) Mainichi: Thousands of anti-hate speech demonstrators take to Tokyo streets Nov 2, 2014
5) Louis Carlet et al. on the misunderstood July 2014 Supreme Court Ruling denying welfare benefits to NJ: “no rights” does not mean automatic NJ denials
6) University of Hawaii at Manoa Center for Japanese Studies presents, “Japan’s Visible Minorities: Appearance and Prejudice in Japanese Society”, by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

And finally…
7) Japan Times JBC 81, Nov 5 2014, “Does social change in Japan come from the top down or bottom up?”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 6 2008

Table of Contents:
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) GOJ Human Rights Week commemorative pamphlet includes NJ issues of discrimination

YET
2) Mainichi: NJ cause Tsukiji to ban all tourists for a month
3) Kyodo: MOJ announces it snagged 846 NJ since reinstituting fingerprinting
4) Mainichi: NJ now eligible for GOJ “economic stimulus” bribe. But not all NJ residents.
5) Poll on how yon 12,000 yen econ stimulus bribe sits with Debito.org readers
6) The killer of Scott Tucker, choked to death by a DJ in a Tokyo bar, gets suspended sentence.

PLUS
7) More on nationality law and children born out of wedlock: Conservatives causing policy balk
8) JALT TLT: James McCrostie on NJ job insecurity at Japan’s universities
9) Japan Times Zeit Gist column on Otaru Onsens Case (not by me)

… and finally…
10) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Dec 3 2008 on Obama election and Bush II presidency (Director’s Cut)
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Excerpts and critique of the Japanese Govt’s “Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Combined Periodic Report” to UN HRC

I last reported on this issue here last August 30, when the Japan Times covered it. Long-time readers may find the following guffaw-worthy, from it’s very title: “The third, fourth, fifth and sixth combined periodic report” to the United Nations Human Rights Council — indicating just how late the GOJ is filing a report, on what it’s doing towards the promotion of human rights in Japan, that is actually due every two years.

Then get a load of the bunkum the GOJ reports with a straight face. Most glaring lapse of logic: If the GOJ had taken “every conceivable measure” as it claims in its introduction, that would naturally include a law against racial discrimination, wouldn’t it? Like South Korea did in 2007. But no. And look what happens as a result. Excerpts and critique of the GOJ UN report follow. Dig through it, and you’ll find self-evident weaknesses and contradictory claims throughout.

Archive: DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 8, 2006

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) FORMER AINU DIETMEMBER KAYANO SHIGERU DIES
2) UN’S DOUDOU DIENE TO REVISIT JAPAN MAY 15-19
3) “SLAVEDRIVE YOUR GAIJIN!” CEO ENGLISH SITE DISAPPEARS
4) HIS TRAVEL ADMITS TO HAVING DIFFERENT AIRFARES FOR FOREIGNERS
5) JAPAN TIMES ON TOTTORI HUMAN RIGHTS ORDINANCE
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Full report: Press conference goes well, but Hokkaido Police use every trick in the book to evade responsibility and press scrutiny.

Full report on how the meeting went with the Hokkaido Police (they did everything they could to evade responsibility) and the press conference (all the major print and TV media were there, went fine). Third best press conference I’ve ever done–mp3 recording of the event included without cuts. Article after article in English and Japanese appearing in the comments section.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 3, 2007

1) “GAIJIN CRIME” TABLOID MAGAZINE ON SALE IN CONVENIENCE STORES
2) UPDATE ON “WANTED: BLUE-EYED GAIJIN TEACHER” EIKAIWA WANT AD
3) TRIP TO TOKYO: NEW BOOKS, SABBATICAL, UNHCR MEETING, VICTIM OF VIOLENCE
4) UNIVERSITY GREENLIST UPDATE, AND BLOWBACK FROM BLACKLIST
and finally…

MY SPEECHES NEXT WEEK IN KANSAI…
PLUS “JAPANESE ONLY” T-SHIRTS SELLING OUT. STOP ME AND BUY ONE

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DEC 13, 2006

1) JAPAN TIMES ERIC JOHNSTON MISQUOTED IN NEW BOOK ON IMPERIAL FAMILY
2) ANTHONY BIANCHI RUNNING FOR MAYOR OF INUYAMA, AICHI PREF
3) GOJ’S ANTI-IMMIGRANT AND ANTI-REFUGEE STANCE DRAWS FIRE FROM U.N.
4) TOKYO SHINBUN ON JAPAN’S FOREIGN SLAVE LABOR CONDITIONS
5) YOMIURI: FOREIGN WORKERS CANNOT WIRE MONEY HOME, WRITE LETTERS…
6) SENDAI CITY LOSES LAWSUIT OVER BUS ETHNIC DISCRIMINATION
7) ASAHI: COURT RULES JUKI NET UNCONSTITUTIONAL. HOWZABOUT GAIJIN CARDS?
8) GOJ NOW REQUIRES OVERSEAS “RAP SHEETS” FOR LONG-TERM VISAS
9) QUICK UPDATES TO PREVIOUS BLOG ENTRIES…
and finally… LOSING MY SUGAWARA ON MY KOSEKI

Yamanashi English school want ad: “blonde hair blue or green eyes and brightly character” (with updates)

A school in Yamanashi is specifically advertising in the local international association jobs for “blonde blue-eyed brightly” foreigners, because the local kindergarten wants a typical foreigner for acclimatization to “eigojin”. It’s just business, you see, they explained to me. Well, the int’l association doesn’t agree, and according to sources on the ground they will be taking this issue up.

Update to Kitakyushu Exclusionary Restaurant: Calls from City Int’l Affairs Desk and Bureau of Human Rights

Re Kitakyushu exclusionary restaurant: City called me to tell me they the manager, and got assurances that this sort of thing will not happen again. So did the local Bureau of Human Rights. Good. Thanks. This is shaping up into a classic case of how to deal with this problem through administrative channels.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 8, 2007

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

Transcript of disrupted MOFA Aug 31 07 hearing blogged

As further evidence that the GOJ has little interest in enforcing its own guidelines (or at least those secured when it signed the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination), information has surfaced that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs allowed in a convicted agent provocateur into the August 31, 2007 meeting on Japan’s response to the UN treaty. Moreover (as a link to a transcript of the meeting will demonstrate), MOFA officials did not stop him and his ilk from shutting down the meeting. Appeals to other government ministries with appropriate powers look futile.